Why Blog?

With the many demands on a teacher’s time, what would make a person want to blog? Yes we know all about how a blog or what I prefer to say, “a web presence”, can communicate. That is what a blog can do. However this is too simple of an answer. 

Here is my current short list of what I think of blogging… Perhaps you have others.

  • global connector to extend classroom activities and learning to the world
  • breaks down walls to invite the world into the classroom (including scientists, mathematicians, artists, entrepreneurs…)
  • connects visible learning moments for parents (yes, it’s automatic – delivery service to their phones or whatever device they use) 
  • creates a place for students to share their story and practice digital citizenship in an authentic environment (positive digital footprint)
  • values the student in owning their voice and story (“They matter… one person can change the world.”)
  • creates an environment for students to push their thinking 
  • inclusive of every learner through visual, audio, video, text (“It’s not just words.”) 
  • share curricular learning journeys and stories that can be discussed at home 
  • gives opportunities for creativity, exploration and pose/answer the questions that truly matter 
  • allows learning to be captured, annotated and reflected upon (“Tell our collective story.”)
  • create opportunities for teachers to engage in capturing formative assessment information
  • allows embedding of content from multiple places (“connecting the pieces”)
  • extend classroom notes and links, criteria reminders, memory joggers (honouring parents/teachers/students time)
  • continues the conversation of learning as never ending, always moving through building a community of practice 
  • access, access, access… anytime anywhere any device

Maybe the bigger question is, do you have a web presence? If you would like to start a blog, contact any member of our Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS/APPLY page to begin the process. 

Student Driven Conversations

Funny thing about data (or I’d like to call them stories) – when students are an intricate part of the conversation, it takes on a whole different meaning. Recently, I was with one of our Joint Teams (LSS/Classroom partners and Learning Technologies) focused on supporting learners with written output challenges. I had shared how we could incorporate audio, video, images, or word prediction using digital platforms as enhancers for students to record their understandings and how important it was to have snapshots of these over time. Using digital tools invited a dialogue about a place to collate the artifacts. Our “student blogfolios” allow students to share and hold their story digitally. A range of possibilities exist: 

  • access anytime anywhere by participants
  • collaborative feedback in an organised focused manner
  • connected communication between student, parent, teacher (of course anytime, anywhere)
  • historic snapshots of whole child learning processes

Examples you ask? Grade 6/7 , Grade 4/5 , Grade 1 , Grade 8 

Knowing your “why” aids in this journey. Without any advertising, our Learning Technologies team has seen this expand exponentially (yes we really only started a little over a year ago with a small pilot). The implications are huge as we attempt to work through what it means to communicate learning in different ways, to empower students to own their voice and story, to share these breakthroughs with parents in ways that allows for collaborative dialogue. 

If you are interested in this, please contact any member of the Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS page to apply.  

Necessity is … “Making”

A couple of years ago I was working with a teacher doing some audio recording using iPads. The students were creating book trailers to sell their favourite books and were they ever focused in trying to describe their chosen books without really giving anything away. What transpired were constant redo’s as they reviewed their Tellagami‘s (avatar app) to get better and better at their speeches. No long boring talks either as recordings could only be maximum 90 seconds.  No one was told they had to redo but as they watched their own videos, a few, then more and more decided the end result wasn’t good enough YET. So off they went to practice and redo and redo. What unfolded was spontaneous self reflection, ownership and oh so “core competencies” in action when that wasn’t even a term.

Since then, I’ve wondered how to get those recordings without the ‘hub-bub’ of background noise – a difficult one as there really isn’t any place that students can go that is truly quiet in a school. (And no, I don’t own a hammer so anytime I think of these wild creations I go and borrow from neighbours.) In my world the simpler the concoction, the easier it will fly so scrounging I went – starting with a plain box and a bunch of foam found in the recyling bins (this is when I’m super glad that I work in the same building as IT – so much treasure in their junk boxes). Result? A portable sound booth! Testing and re-testing found that students didn’t have to crawl in to get the effect. As long as the ipad was surrounded by some sort of insulation it appeared to work. (A hint if you decide to try this – hot gluing the foam pieces on the box helps to keep things in place.)

Fast forward to now –> This year we launched the redesigned curriculum – Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST). The K-5 curricula focuses on the act of design and thinking (what I would like to offer as “make, test and remake and enjoy”. These skills are the core foundation of all later work in technologies. My foray into having a real world problem (how to get rid of background noise) readily connects to ADST. In those terms:

  • “ideate” – come up with an idea and try it
  • “prototype” – make a creation and test it out; assess my results and redo it
  • share – tell and share 
  • sit back and be proud of the results. And imagine what’s next… wondering if egg cartons will work??

This process takes a lot of practice to move towards developing a mindset of making, critical problem solving, creative thinking, perseverance and resilience (especially when things don’t go well).  What are you doing in your classes that connect to ADST? You might have to just identify those processes with language. 

We’d love to hear from you – drop us a comment. We need your stories.