missmillerslearningjourney

My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Category: Social Media and Personalized Learning (page 1 of 2)

Where am I now? – Final Blog

As I began these courses at the beginning of July, I thought that transitioning into this program would be easy. I have only been out of the post-secondary world for five years and felt like my classroom experience, leadership exemplars, and ability to hoop jump would guarantee smooth sailing throughout the program. I was incorrect. The platform, layout, and thoughtful guest speakers have allowed my classmates and myself to reflect on our own pedagogy, consider new ideas and perspectives, and be vulnerable to sharing the strengths and struggles that go on in our own school contexts. EDCI 515 and EDCI 568 specifically, have pushed my thinking in ways I was not expecting.

At my school, I am not only a classroom teacher, new administrator, but the technology support teacher – a role I took on from a colleague as after she left on maternity leave. Being a millennial, I have an understanding of technology and digital platforms. But as I learned throughout this month, there are many other things I need to consider in my role.

My school has a range of technologies that we are working with – iPads, Chromebooks, and personal devices of students as they bring them from home. We have had staff and classroom conversations about how the technology is to be used, however, I think going forward we need to be more clear and intentional with our use of technology school and district wide. Throughout the revised BC Curriculum, digital literacy has been included, however, I had no idea that there were international standards for technology integration  that we should also be referencing in order to ensure students are capable learners in the twenty first century. I hope to share this with my school staff. And to build off of that, I am planning on developing a school technology agreement with my staff. As a collective, we need to decide what our shared understandings, government and district privacy policies, creative commons, copyright, and our school expectations around technology are. We cannot continue to be willfully blind. Now that I have been directed to this information, I feel obligated to share and ensure, as educators, we are modeling safe and respectful technology for our students. As Jesse Miller says, “we cannot change the world of technology that we and our students live in, therefore, we should be focusing on building networked citizens” (personal communication, July 9, 2019)

As society is delving deeper and deeper into the world of technology, it is important to be intentional in our teaching. As Dr. Martin Weller mentioned, “we need to think critically about the resources and tools that we are going to use” (personal conversation, July 22, 2019). This means, to find the balance – not cut it out completely, but also not to champion it blindly.

One of the benefits of digital media is the ability to connect through social spaces online. Christine Younghusband explained that through the use of Twitter she has been able to make connections with educators around the world which has grown her own wealth of knowledge and understanding on different topics. Through our exploration of academic articles such as ‘Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility’ by DeGroot and VanSlette, I have begun to understand the use of social media for digital scholarship. Something that I continue to struggle with though, is considering whose voices are heard through published research online. In my experience, research favours a certain demographic. I believe that in order to develop a clear and unbiased understanding of something, we need different perspectives. It becomes tricky, however, to get gain a variety of insights in digital scholarship when there are some cultures that are “still predominately based on orally shared intergenerational knowledge” (Bowers, 2018). This starts to create a gap between cultures and generations. Digital scholarship should be used to connect people, not to drive them further apart. As Dr. John Willinsky put it, “how can we use open digital scholarship to become a better educated society?” (personal communication, July 23 2019).

Another idea that has transformed my thinking over the past three weeks was when Shauneen Pete said that it is an educator’s responsibility to get informed and educated about Indigenous history (personal communication, July 16 2019). First of all, Indigenous knowledge is “not a uniform concept spread across all Indigenous peoples, it is a diverse knowledge that is spread throughout different people in many layers” (Onwu & Mosimege, 2004). It is not the responsibility of the first peoples to educate us. I have been feeling this idea inside of myself for a while now. In B.C. there is a big focus on Indigenous ways of knowing as it has been embedded in all aspects of the curriculum. Support teachers and district principles have been hired, but they are constantly being pulled in so many directions. How do we gain knowledge without putting pressure on our local communities as a result of being uncomfortable with our settler history? Through Shauneens’ sharing, I have realized that we should connect and learn through story (personal communication, July 16, 2019). That is how she communicated her masters and doctoral theses and shared her story with us. Based on her suggestions, I have added a list of books that share stories of different perspectives that I hope with confront and challenge my settler identity.

Listening to some of the guest speakers this week, have also led me to question the learning design that takes place in my classroom. Coming into this program, I have five years of teaching experience, have taught in IB schools {Level 1 Trained}, have participated in a district inquiry club, and helped to create and integrate an inquiry cycle at my school. Listening to Jeff Hopkins speak about how he has thoughtfully designed spaces, places, and people to create an environment of inquiry at his school is phenomenal. I appreciated his thoughtful prompt in his TedxTalk – “the world is changing so fast, is our learning serving a purpose in this world?” (TEDx Talks, 2014). If I think about my own classroom, I would have to say no. Students are learning what is in the curriculum in a combination of ways, but I do not think that they see a connection between what they are learning and how that applies to the world around them. I do understand that I need to consider age and stage of my students and how they are able to inquire into the world around them. I have a wide range of learners in my classroom, as most teachers do. I have readers, non-readers, English language learners, native English speakers, students with Ministry designations, some without designations, and students from a variety of home lives. Recently, I heard about this visual that helps educators to plan competencies and curriculum for a unit of student exploration. Picture an upside-down triangle split into three equal sections; in the biggest section at the top, the teacher will write what all students will understand, in the middle, the teacher will write what most students will understand, and in the smallest section at the bottom, the teacher will write with he or she wants some students to understand. This allows educators to plan for a wide variety of learners and to provide effective learning activities for all.

Trevor Mackenzies’ sharing also reminded me that I was on the right track when scaffolding my students through inquiry activities throughout the year (personal communication, July 15 2019). I am hoping that this next year, with older students, I am able to start in the guided inquiry section and move more quickly into the free inquiry portion in order to provide opportunities for my students to explore their own passions and interests – similarly to the PSII students with Jeff Hopkins.

How these understandings are shaping my research area of interest

There seems to be research about the importance of play and inquiry in the classroom for primary students; but how does that translate to intermediate students? As I transition into an intermediate classroom this year, I am hoping to take some teaching and learning strategies from primary and applying them in the middle years. Outdoor exploration and free-play are of particular interest to me. Over the past few years, I have noticed an increased number of students who are unsure and uncomfortable in nature. As I am exploring, there are many factors to consider for this, but one of them is the increased use of technology for our students.

Through the exploratory outdoor play, I am hoping to increase students’ sense of place and connection to the environment. This approach is closely linked to the First Peoples Principles of Learning. Along with the integration of effective applications, I hope to use technology to capture, record, and reflect students’ experiences in nature. Through the interconnection of these two approaches, all learning is accessible and it allows for an even playing field with shared experiences and natural differentiation. With this two-pronged approach, I hope students create a strong understanding of themselves through ‘two eyes’, as Colin Madland shared – one colonizer perspective and one indigenous perspective (personal communication, July 16 2019).

Because being outside and engaging with technology is an experiential process, I think the inclusion of multiple research methodologies would allow for a well-rounded understanding of the topic. I am looking forward to my literature review as I am wanting “to understand what has been doing before, the strengths and weaknesses or existing studies, and what they might mean” for me (Boote & Beile, 2005). The mixed methodologies approach will help to provide quantitative and qualitative data for me to analyze. Built into this approach is validity, trustworthiness, credibility, quality, and rigor (O’Cathain, 2010).  The action research approach might also be beneficial as it would allow me to move through the process of questioning, testing, gathering results, and moving forward, similarly to Dr. Simon Breakspears’ Learning Sprints. In order to enhance my understanding of students’ experience of outdoor learning, I could also engage in a phenomenological approach to gathering data. This would, rightfully so, put students at the center of the research.

As my students and I delve into the world of social media and sharing, we need to be conscious about the use of technology. My educational technology pedagogy is aligned to the SAMR model of technology integration (Hamilton, Rosenberg, & Akcaoglu, 2016).

I believe that it is important to use technology for modification and redefinition of learning activities as opposed to using it for the sake of a new and exciting app. I think it is okay to move through the different types of technology integration at different times, but we should be aiming for the top two tiers of this model. And in order for technology use to be effective, educators need to be proficient in the tools and the ecosystems in which they exist (Alec Couros, personal communication, July 8 2019). In my search for effective tools, I will need to ensure that the platforms comply with the FIPPA standards. As well, alongside teaching the use of the app, my students and I will have to explore what it means to be digitally literate in the twenty first century so they know the ‘manners’ of online communication.

What I hope to aim for with the interconnection between outdoor free-play and documentation and reflection using technology, is ensuring balance. There seems to be a focus for primary students on experiential learning and in later intermediate it seems to be on technology. How can we find a balance of both in the middle years? What should students be engaging with and for how long? I look forward to continuing to develop my understanding and adding new insights and approaches to my journey as an educational researcher.

 

Resources

Boote, D. N., & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3–15. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X034006003

Bowers, C. A. (2018). Ideological, Cultural, and Linguistic Roots of Educational Reforms to Address the Ecological Crisis: The Selected Works of C. A. (Chet) Bowers (1st ed.). https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315193403

Guskey, T. (2002). Professional Development and Teacher Change. Teachers and Teaching, 8, 381–391. https://doi.org/10.1080/135406002100000512

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) Model: A Critical Review and Suggestions for its Use. TechTrends, 60(5), 433–441. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

O’Cathain, A. (2010). Assessing the Quality of Mixed Methods Research: Toward a Comprehensive Framework. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie, SAGE Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research (pp. 531–556). https://doi.org/10.4135/9781506335193.n21

Onwu, G., & Mosimege, M. (2004). Indigenous knowledge systems and science and technology education: A dialogue. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 8(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/10288457.2004.10740556

TEDx Talks. (2014). Education as if people mattered | Jeff Hopkins | TEDxVictoria. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O5PK6LsymM

EDCI 568 – Assignment #2

Overview

In 2013, educational researchers at the University of Southern Australia – Marj Fracis, Kathy Paige, and David Lloyd were interested in learning more about middle years’ students’ experiences in nature. Therefore, they decided to engage in a small scale case study. Marj was inspired by her own nature experiences in childhood and how that developed into her personal passion for environmental science. They were also influenced by the sweeping educational movement in Australia towards place-based learning (PBL) practices when teaching to help cultivate safe, positive, and healthy learning opportunities for students.

Unfortunately, they had been noticing that “increasingly, children today are becoming disconnected from the natural environments resulting in a diminished sense of self, place, and community” (Francis, Paige, & Lloyd, 2013). For a variety of reasons, students are having fewer direct experiences in natural environments, which can have negative impacts on their health, concentration, creativity, and sense of well-being.

They first started noticing during their pre-service teaching that not all students respond to learning in natural environments with positive attitudes or enthusiasm, which affects the effectiveness of the PBL approach to learning initiatives. This lack of connection and identification with the natural world around them is “likely to impact the most heavily on decisions, planning and design of human settlements which continue to place a greater strain on the ongoing natural and physical systems that enable the Earth to maintain life, challenging the sustainability of the natural world” (Francis et al., 2013). Therefore, there is a worry that if students do not develop a committed and connected relationship to nature, they will not take measures to protect from further decline in the future.

This specific case study focuses on the ways in which children play and experience natural environments during free-time activities. Its aim is to inform place and community-based learning practices that will create better nature-based opportunities for children and young people in the community It has been shown that learning is strongly connected to play and it’s important to know how students’ initial experiences are shaping their perceptions, ideas, attitudes, and concepts about nature (Francis et al., 2013). According to another researcher in the field, when children engage with natural play environments, there are seven ways in which they will direct the play: adventure, fantasy/imagination, animal allies, exploration, creation of a special place, and creation of small worlds (Sobel, 2008).

This study was conducted within a project called ‘Citizen Science: Urban Ecology Network in the School of Educational Aspirations Project [SEAP]. Participants in this case study were twenty-five year six and seven students within one classroom in a SEAP school (Francis et al., 2013). The class moved through this case study in two phases. Phase one began with a drawing activity which included a place in nature, how they used the outdoor space, who shared the experience with them, any animals or creatures also in the space, and what manmade structures (if any). In addition to the drawing there was an open ended questionnaire portion of phase one. In phase two, only a small portion (seven) of the students, were involved in focus group interviews (Francis et al., 2013).

In order to sort the qualitative data, the drawings were classified into two main categories: domesticated and wild nature settings. See examples of the difference between domesticated and wild nature settings below.

Overall, according to this small sample size, “wild nature settings were preferred as subjects for drawing and sharing experiences about nature experiences (15) over domesticated nature settings (10) – with some students expressing concern and reluctance to include domesticated nature settings when comparing their own experiences to peers” (Francis et al., 2013). The difference between the two nature settings becomes more notable when considering how students accessed nature experiences and the types of activities in which students engaged in. The majority of students accessed nature experiences as semi-structured outings or family gatherings at places of interest or for specific purposes (Francis et al., 2013). These activities were mostly directed by adults (e.g. bushwhacking, sight-seeing, exploring, fishing, camping, playing ball, etc.). This finding reveals that there is a heavy reliance on families to transport students to spaces and place where they can engage in what they value, as a nature experience. During these activities, play tended to be organized and supervised by adults. It also shows a lock of opportunities for creative and imaginative play in nature. However, this study also showed that students have an awareness and empathy towards nature; they understand the risks that the world is facing and the impact humans are having on it (e.g. concerns of animal extinction) (Francis et al., 2013).

My Story and Connection to this Topic

 For the past five years I have taught a combined grade two and three class. Recent research has noted the positive impacts of play for young learners. Therefore, I have been incorporating into my practice more and more. But I have noticed that some students have a difficult time engaging in ‘free-play’ and need frequent opportunities to practice. Each year I have also noticed that when I take students outside, there are a growing percentage who do not know how to ‘play’ outside. They are unsure how or what to play and some are disgusted by the thought of being dirty. I understand that not all students enjoy being outside, but where does that feeling or thought come from? In North Vancouver, B.C. we are extremely lucky because we are surrounded by nature all the time. We have mountains on one side and ocean on the other. Therefore, I find it difficult to comprehend why some students are not engaging with nature. And why are other students becoming disconnected with the natural environments around them? There are so many different variables that could contribute to this change in environmental identity – technology, culture, parenting styles, socio-economic status, and more.

In addition, I have noticed students more engaged in technology outside of the classroom and in the home. Information comes out at sharing time as well as trickling back into the classroom when their morning discussions revolve around a video, song, game, or app they have been engaging with. I reflect back on my childhood and I remember playing outside in the cul-de-sac with neighbours for hours until it was time for dinner. I remember having our family computer in the common area and having a time limit for our use. Technology and outdoor education seem to be on opposite sides of the education spectrum. What I want to know more about is how families, communities, and educators can get to a place where there is a balance of the two, especially in the middle years.

Area of Interest, Research Problem, Purpose, and Questions

 This year I am transitioning out of the primary grades and into intermediate in my urban elementary school. However, there are some aspects of primary education that I believe would be extremely beneficial for intermediate students as well. One of these areas is play. I am hoping to look at how to effectively balance outdoor education with educational technology instead of it being one or the other, or that overexposure to one is to the detriment of the other. This is important in order to develop students into a well-rounded individuals who have a strong sense of environmental identity, as well as develop critical thinking and problem solving strategies through the use of educational technology tools and applications. Some of the questions that I am starting to consider on this topic are:

    • Is there evidence of the increased use of technology for students, as a factor of the decrease in a lack of environmental identity?
    • How can you effectively engage middle years’ students in outdoor play?
    • How can you incorporate grade-level curricular learning outcomes into outdoor play?
    • How can you use educational technology resources to capture and report on the learning in an outdoor play setting?

More to explore on the topic

Journal Articles

Role of Significant Life Experiences in Building Environmental knowledge and Behaviour Among Middle School Students by K. Stevenson, M. Peterson, S. Carrier, R. Strnad, H. Bondell, T Kirby-Hathaway & S. Moore (2014)

The home electronic media environment and parental safety concerns: relationships with outdoor time after school and over the weekend among 9-11 year old children by H. Wilkie, M. Standage, F. Gillison, S. Cumming, & P. Katzmarzyk (2017)

Design for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces by A. Shackell, P. Doyle, N. Butler, & D. Ball (2008)

Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum by E. Wood & J. Attfield (2005)

The importance of outdoor play for young children’s healthy development by G. Bento & G. Dias (2017)

Contrasting Screen-Time and Green-Time: A Case for Using Smart Technology and Nature to Optimize Learning Processes by R. Schilhab, M. Stevenson, & P. Bentsen (2018)

New concepts of play and the problem of technology, digital media, and popular culture integration with play-based learning in early childhood education by S. Edwards (2015)

Place Based Learning and Inquiry in a Digital Culture: Honouring Student Voice Through Digital Storytelling by M. Sauerborn (2015)

 

Teacher Resources

http://www.metrovancouver.org/events/school-programs/K12publications/GetOutdoors.pdf

http://resources4rethinking.ca/media/B2N_Into-Nature_English.pdf

 

Student Activities

-nature walk with camera or plant guide

-scavenger hunt

-plant identification apps

-digital recording device

-digital microscope

-BookCreator for stories

-Edutopia Pinterest board

 

Experts in my #PLN

Twitter                         Instagram

@msflett                                 the.nature.atelier

@Roomtoplay             opalschoolportland

@CreativeSTAR                     natureplaykids_

@SylviaMarieKing                 nurturing_with_nature

#outdoored

#outdoorlearning

 

Blogs Posts

-Creating Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs through Outdoor Ed

-Getting kids outdoors with tech

 

Other

Movie – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1567665?ref_=vi_close

 

Resources

Francis, M., Paige, K., & Lloyd, D. (2013). Middle years students’ experiences in nature: A case study on nature-play. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 59(2), 20–30.

Sobel, D. (2008). Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. Stenhouse Publishers.

 

School Structure Redesign?

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a flame” (Hopkins, 2014).

In our class discussion with Jeff Hopkins today, each of us were intrigued and interested about the amazing things that are going on at the Inquiry and Innovation school he has created. He has moved through multiple roles within the public education system from classroom teacher, to administrator, to superintendent. However, he was never able to find a position where he could really make a systemic change for students in the way he saw needed to be made.

He realized that people didn’t need to hear him talking about it anymore, they needed to see it being done successfully to implement it on a larger scale. Therefore, he built – and they came. Today, Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII) has upwards of 80 high-school students who are all engaged in personal inquiry projects. These projects move way beyond the four walls of their building but reach into the community around them.

If you spend some time perusing the @PSII Twitter feed, you will see student examples of high level inquiry projects and learning such as this:

As we rapid fired questions at him this afternoon, I began to put together some of the driving factors for what makes their space and place effective. Here is what I came up with:

  • Students are not designated or grouped by grade or ability level
  • Using students interests as a springboard into deep learning
  • Gives students an understanding of the purpose of learning
  • Gives students an understanding of who they are and how they contribute to the world around them
  • Connection, collaboration, and community and build into their program (teachers, students, families, outside community)
  • Trust is built in naturally, but it is key to educator and student success within this program

These are just the main ideas that kept resurfacing throughout our conversation. I appreciated the detailed information Jeff gave us about how his school runs. He also provided us with some documents that PSII have been developing over the last few years that might be of interest if you want to know more about them!

I look forward to brining these ideas back to my school, thinking about how we could take aspects of this and apply it to our location, and hopefully talking a group of my colleagues into visiting PSII in the future! *fingers crossed*

Inquiry Discussion with Trevor Mackenzie

Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt (with the help and inspiration of Sylvia Duckworth) have used sketchnotes in their books as a way to capture their teaching learning in an easily understood visual. I am going to use their visuals as a jumping off point to discuss my thoughts, past experiences, and hopes for the inquiry process in my classroom going forward.

10 REASONS…

Trevor started out with this visual and asked us to reflect on our own teaching and come up with one or two of these that are evident in our classrooms. Personally, I chose number three. If you were to walk into my classroom and hang out at the back for a week, you would notice that I am intentional in my community building and fostering connections with each one of my students. As this grows and develops over the year, students become more comfortable to take risks in their learning. Therefore, they are more engaged in what they are doing. That in conjunction with planning exciting and fun activities throughout the year such as: a hands on dissection of a local Coho Salmon, making root beer floats to explore the properties of solids, liquids, and gasses, and participating in the creation of an art piece by Qwalacktun (Rick Harry) that is now on display at the West Vancouver Police Department.

In taking more time to look at this visual, and hearing reflections from my classmates, I am realizing that I need to take the time to be more intentional in some of the other areas. And as Trevor Mackenzie noted, these things do not happen every day but over time and you will develop strategies to put into your ‘toolkit’ of how to emulate those characteristics in your own classroom.

This would be a great visual to reference with a whole staff in order to identify where staff individual strengths lie and where they feel they need more work/support. It would open up a great dialogue and naturally flow into individual, small group, and whole group professional development.

TYPES OF INQUIRY

This visual demonstrates the different types of inquiry. Throughout the year, Trevor moves from one to the next – starting at structured and ending in free. His context is a little different because he is a middle school teacher and has limited time with his students in the week.

As an elementary school teacher, we have the flexibility to be wading in and out of these different areas throughout the days, weeks, and months. Personally though, I find that I spend most of my time in the shallower end of the pool. With my young students we move through the first three levels as the year progresses. There are so many foundational skills that we need to develop as a group before they are even ready to think about free inquiry. My grade two and three students are developing their questioning techniques, practicing their non-fiction reading skills and strategies, learning how to take notes, learning how to research online, digital literacy, and the list goes on….However, my goal this year is to make it to the deep end! I am moving into an older grade level and working with colleagues that are excited, supportive, and experienced with inquiry in the intermediate classroom.

What about Inquiry in Kindergarten? One would think that everything in Kindergarten is inquiry based learning, and to some extent it is. But in order to make it relevant to students, it needs to be meaningful. If you are a Kindergarten teacher in B.C. and you are wanting to know how to implement an inquiry mindset into your classroom, take a listen to Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt discussing her thoughts on the KindSight 101 Podcast last summer: Episode #32.

HONOURING QUESTIONS

I find this visual so helpful as a reminder of making the thinking and learning visible in the classroom. I was inspired by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt’s amazing Kindergarten room (you NEED to follow her on Instagram: @inquiryteacher) and created a ‘Wonder Wall’ on the old blackboard that covers one wall. The students pondering faces were adorable, however, I never used their thinking bubbles. The students would come up with questions and I would write them on the board or put them down on a KWL chart. I like the idea of having a wall, but when the kids are so little, it becomes a teacher make work project to write down all their questions that come up at random times during the day.

However, after seeing this visual it got me thinking. As I am moving into an older grade, I am thinking that it would be so cool to have a virtual ‘Wonder Wall’ where students are curating their wonderings, research, and findings on a digital platform where myself and parents can check in at any time!

Trevor also mentioned the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) as a way for students to developing their questioning ability. This technique allows for students to come up with as many questions as they can on a topic, allows for identification of open and closed  questions, and discussion of the importance of both, and prioritize the ones that they come up with.

THE INQUIRY STUDENT: CAPTURES, REFLECTS, AND SHARES THEIR LEARNING

This visual is so straightforward and easy – but a great reminder about what to do at the end of a learning cycle in order to deepen the understanding. Rebecca and Trevor suggest ways in which students and teachers can capture the learning, prompts for reflection, and some avenues for sharing it out.

Often I find that students learn new things in class but don’t always know the purpose, especially in socials and science. Really, the whole purpose of learning is to acquire competencies to communicate, think, and build and nurture relationships with ourselves and each other. In order to make learning relevant to them, students need to know what the purpose of the learning is, how to capture that learning effectively, reflect on the importance, and be able to share it with a particular audience (parents, peers, other teachers, people around the world).

Voice and choice is an important concept for teachers and students. Teachers need to be modeling this to their students in their teaching by taking risks, sharing, and teaching in different ways. Therefore, at the end of a learning cycle, students can start reflecting on their own about who their audience is and what and how they are sharing their understanding of a concept. I want to try out some of these applications with my students this year. That way, I am demonstrating my own ability (to my staff AND students) to be vulnerable and try something new.

As we listen to more and more guest speakers share on the topic of social media, a common thread that keeps coming up is ethics and privacy. I need to make sure, for the sake of my students and families, that these great technology initiatives and apps are within my districts privacy policies. This is even more important as I move into my role as administrator. Myself, as well as staff, students, and parents needs to have a clear understanding of our responsibility , the rules and policies in place, and a mutual agreement of how we are going to use the materials we have. I am thinking of putting the outline of a technology agreement together in discussion with my school community so that everyone is on the same page and clear about what is going on online.

THE POWER OF A PROVOCATION

The power of a provocation provides students with an opportunity to engage in something new and exciting. Students are immediately engaged and naturally curious. There are so many examples of provocations out there:

– Field Trips, Experiments, Challenges (STEM, STEAM), Hands on activities, Explorations, Book, Photo, Video, Artifact, Special Guest, etc.

Trevor mentioned that in his middle school class, he sends out a ‘What are you passionate about?’ survey to all his students at the beginning of the year. This gives him to opportunity to target students who seemingly don’t have passion while also weaving in the interests of other classmates.

And sometimes, provocations are unplanned. A phrase that I really enjoyed from Trevor was ‘the magic pivot’. In this, he was referring to the ability to drop everything that was previously planned, and go with the students interests. It is a hard thing to do, especially in the older grades where there is so much content to get through! But WE KNOW that students are more engaged in their learning when they are interested, passionate, and hands on.

I definitely struggle with this one. I am still very much a student product of the system that I went through. I sometimes fall back on easy and reproducible activities in the classroom and get wrapped up in the stress of having to get through all of the curriculum – core competencies, curricular competencies, and content. My goal this year is to push myself in some of the other inquiry domains that Trevor and Sylvia show in the first image in this blog post.

My confidence and understanding of inquiry based education is always evolving and I am looking for implementing some of these new ideas into my school community!

Unsettling the Settler

In one of our classes this week, we had the opportunity to hear Shauneen Pete speak. As my classmate Heather mentioned in her blog post, Shauneen didn’t come with any PowerPoint or slides to speak to. She shared with us a story – her story. As she mentioned at the beginning of our session, sharing stories is the basis of connection and helps us to understanding who we are engaging with.

She started her career in education wanting to make her students teaching and learning experience better than the one that she had received. Part of that, is ensuring that ALL students get exposure and learn about Indigenous content and come to terms with their own settler identity. She has bravely and courageously pushed the people around her into that uncomfortable place of learning in this particular area – unsettling the settler.

Something that she said that really resonated with me and something that I have been grappling with is the growing pressure we are putting on our local Indigenous community members. Our responsibility as allies is to do the work ourselves – do the research, read the books, have the tough conversations. And then reach out to community members for follow up discussions on things we are still struggling with. It is not their responsibility as community members to teach us the history.

I have been on this journey for a while now, and I recognize that I have a long way to go in my guilt, discomfort, and understanding in order to move more towards reconciliation. Therefore, I have collated some of the resources I have found on the topic, strong Indigenous community members and educators on social media, and some books that I have picked up recently for my continued professional development.

Teacher Resources

 

People to add to your PLN (#Twitter)

Bradley Baker (@bradleyrbaker): District Principal in the North Vancouver School District, 2017 Governor General of Canada’s Leadership Council Member. Proud member of the Squamish Nation

Jo Chrona (@luudisk): Curriculum Coordinator for the First Nationals Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

First Nations Education Steering Committee (@FNESC)

Senator Murray Sinclair (@SenSincmurr): Member of the Senate of Canada, retired judge, and former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation  Commission of Canada

Reconciliation Canada (@Rec_Can): Company that was born from the vision of Chief Dr. Robert Joseph (Gwawaenuk Elder). Using the platform to lead the way in engaging Canadians in dialogue and transformative experiences that revitalize the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.

The First Peoples Cultural Council (@_FPCC): Provincial Crown Corporation formed by the Government of BC in 1990 to administer the First Peoples Heritage, Language, and Culture Program.

Strong Nations (@strong_nations): Publisher of Indigenous books. Based in Nanaimo, B.C.

Networks of Inquiry and Indigenous Education (@noiie_bc): Voluntary, inquiry based, network of schools in British Columbia. Creators of the Spirals of Inquiry.

Indigenous Education Network (@IENatOISE): Indigenous Education Network at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

UBC Indigenous Education (@IE_UBC): Local Indigenous content and information about focused courses provided by UBC.

 

Reading List

Already read…

Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith

 

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

 

 

21 Things You Didn’t Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph

 

 

Price Paid by Bev Sellars

 

 

Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids by Deborah Ellis

 

 

Up next…

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by DiAngelo, Dyson, and Michael

 

 

Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada by Lowman and Barker

 

 

Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips, and Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality by Bob Joseph

 

 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

 

 

 

*This post will continue to be updated as I come across new and interesting information and resources*

Developing a PLN

As Diana Forbes mentions in her research article, “Professional Online Presence and Learning Networks: Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media”,

“In teacher education, uses of social media include the production and sharing of content, discussion, and interaction with content, and collaborative connection with other social media users” (Forbes, 2017).

Twitter is becoming an avenue for professionals to share their learning, ask questions, and develop a social network in their field of interest. Users are encouraged to use social media to understand and communicate ideas which promotes openness by making research and resources available to anybody who is interested. It is now rare to attend a workshop or conference where there isn’t a hashtag  where participants can share their experiences and moments of learning. In addition to being a place where groups can congregate and share ideas, it also allows as a ‘backchannel’ of communication with or between people (Forbes, 2017).

Although it is great being able to connect with the local educators in my relatively small school district, I have now built connections with people outside my district through various professional development opportunities. Therefore, it is great to scroll through and get inspired by what others are doing in their classrooms in their school. So often as teachers, I feel like we get stuck inside our classrooms doing the same things. Being on Twitter and other education based social media sites allows for educators to get a glimpse of what is going on in other peoples classrooms.

I hesitantly joined Twitter in November 2012 and have been using it for a variety of purposes throughout my teaching and learning journey. As I scroll back,   I notice that I started using the platform as a way to view what was happening in the field of education in my district. I liked posts, retweeted some, and commented on others –  hoping to make connections in the district I was just starting my teaching journey in.  As I have progressed in my teaching, Twitter has grown right alongside me. I started sharing more of my own content such as field trips I was going on, inquiry lessons I had tried in class, hands on activities that my students enjoyed. Through these posts, I was able to garner support and feedback from the people around me. In addition,  I was able to connect with teachers, admin, and special guests coming in and out of our district. Through following special guests, such as Janice Novakowski, I was then able to connect with people in her PLN that are interested in the same things I am doing. Something that has grown in Twitter over the last few years has been the use of weekly chats to connect with educators across the province/country/world (e.g. #edchat, #kinderchat, #edtech, etc.).

I have even noticed a difference in my use of Twitter over the last week and a half. Being a remote learner in this program was difficult at first as I am a very social person and need to connect with my peers in order to create an effective learning space for myself. Therefore, having our cohort hashtag (#tiegrad) has been amazing as it has allowed me to connect with guest speakers and  my fellow classmates, see what is going on in their specific contexts, and see how they are connecting their class learning to their areas of interest. I appreciated everyone’s feedback on Saturday morning when I was feeling especially tired and stuck in a ‘world of procrastination’.

As much as I value and appreciate Twitter for it’s sharing and community building capabilities, I am hesitant as it becomes another time sucker as I scroll through on a Sunday morning before I get out of bed. I am learning to prioritize the ways in which I want to communicate with people around me.

In addition, it adds to the confusion of developing boundaries between peoples personal and professional lives. My district administrators have seemed to find that boundary. On their Twitter accounts they are only sharing out the amazing things that educators and other administrators are doing in their buildings.  A few of them have Instagram accounts where they share more personal family and life moments. As I move into this new administration role, I appreciate seeing the balance of both – and building in boundaries in their professional and personal sharing.

The ethics of Twitter use becomes more of an issue if you are using it as an educator and are in communication with your students. As an adult, I appreciate the communication and connectivity of Twitter, especially in this program. However, if I were going to use Twitter as a way to teach students about the respectful use of social media, I would use some of the items suggested by Alec Couros and Jesse Miller – mentioned in my blog posts (hyperlinked to their names).

What about students developing personal learning networks (PLN) online? Check out this podcast episode by InnovatED Image result for apple podcast logocalled ‘Surprise: what happened when my student created her own personal learning network’ to hear first hand the student experience with developing a digital PLN. Click the podcast icon to listen and let me know your thoughts!

 

Finally, something that was new to me this week was Tweetdeck! I love being able to curate specific people, groups, and tweets in order to follow what is going on in that area of interest. It allows me to see a quick snapshot of what is going on in my specific areas of interest, so I am not taking up so much personal time scrolling through content. See a screenshot of mine below (10/07/2019).

However, it then spiraled me into a deep dive of Twitter to see who else is out there and grow my own PLN. Below I have curated a list of people, hashtags, and personal blogs that are constantly adding to my professional practice as a BC elementary educator and leader. Here is just a snapshot, but there are so many more! (*And sorry I have not directly linked them all there, there are just too many!*)

People/Institutions

@_valeriei, @technolandy, @ChristineYH, @BreneBrown, @IE_UBC, @SELearningEDU, @courosa, @ereid38, @TomSchimmer, @SteveWyborney, @EdCampBCCC, @BCnumeracy, @LearningForward, @WabKinew, @FNESC, @IndigenousEdBC,  @bradleyrbaker,  @noiie_bc, @jhalbert8, @kaser_linda, @OpalSchool, @strong_nations, @trev_Mackenzie, @Usingtechbetter, @tweetsomemoore, @fayebrownlie, @TIE_BC, @akijae, @shareski, @anniekinders, jnovakowski38, @MediatedReality, @cdnedchat, @makerspaces_com, @bcedchat, @LFee17, @gcouros, @rbathursthunt, @ltnpbs (Lynne Tomlinson), @SLShortall, @JanetMHicks, @UBCmfenton, @DiscoveryEd, @chrkennedy

Hashtags

#edchat, #bcedchat, #kinderchat, #edtech, #EdLeaders, #FormativeAssessment, #SEL, #classroomdesign, #PLN, #inquiry

Blogs

Culture of Yes by Chris Kennedy

The Principal of Change by George Couros

Trevor Mackenzie’s Blog

Inquiry Mindset by Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt

Cult of Pedagogy

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog

 

I hope that this list of inspiring educators allows you to spiral into developing your own Personal Learning Network!

A Conversation with Jesse Miller

In todays EDCI 568 class, we had the opportunity to have a conversation with nationally renowned lead educator on the topics of internet safety, privacy, and professionalism, Jesse Miller. He is the founder of Mediated Reality, which is an education company focusing on new media education for the different stakeholders in education.

One of the first things that he said, which I thought was very poignant, was ,

“it is detrimental, what we are doing to kids. When we compare our experience with technology with the access that students have now, is not fair” Jesse Miller (09/07/2019)

I think this is such an important message to convey to educators and other adults alike. Students only know what they are exposed to and we, as a people, have to learn how to cope with what we have been given. Therefore, we as adults need to share best practices on the topics of safety and privacy that we have learned in the process of technology development over the past decade.

Related image

In his presentation, Jesse presented the following ideas that educators need to focus on in 2019 in order to support students in their understanding of safety, privacy, and respectful use of technology.  Under each heading, I have collated questions to consider and resources geared towards K-7 educators.

In 2019 we SHOULD focus on:

I found this image and thought it would be a great one to share with Gr 4+ students as they are spending more and more time on social media accounts – where a lot of them are image based.

Find poster here.

Technology Integration in the Elementary Classroom

Alec Couros – Dropping knowledge on the #tiegrad’s

Ideas to ponder:

  • SAMR Model of Technology Integration (see above)
    • teacher has to be proficient in the tool and the ecosystem in which it exists before asking students to use it
    • it’s okay to be hesitant – start small (not every integration needs to be at the redefinition level)
  • Using YouTube as a research/learning tool
  • There is an abundance of information and tools out there for students to use, put them in situations where they can communicate in their ‘language’ and then translate it into a safe and generally understood platform
  • Providing opportunities and choice for students in order to show their learning (once they know how to acquire the knowledge, they need to explore different ways to show it

“If students are doing the same things in the classroom, are we really being innovative?” – Alec Couros

  • Social Media is a great way to connect to a network (develop your PLN)
  • Social Media can also be a teaching tool (students learning in multimodalities)
  • Using Social Media and crowd sourcing to learn (e.g. ‘The Learning Project’ by Alec Couros, videos by Mike Boyd)
  • Technology in the Elementary School context
    • Grades K-3:
      • understanding how to consume information
      • robotics
      • makerspaces
    • Grades 4-7
      • understanding the world of connecting and developing and understanding an audience
      • targeted ads
      • digital sleuthing (using the internet to find out all the information you can on someone *with their permission*)
      • practice Tweeting (papers around the room – limited characters, can comment below)
      • Twitter template (students have to submit potential Tweets and class discusses their thoughts)
      • FlipGrid

Lingering Question(s): Work in progress

  • How do you have conversations with staff members who are concerned about engaging with social media in the school context?

Quantitative Data and Social Media

This week in EDCI 515 we are exploring the concept of quantitative data collection for research purposes. Some examples of quantitative data collection that could be used for research are: statistics, sampling strategies, questionnaires, and surveys. The importance of quantitative data collection allows for development of a solid conclusion to a question based on numerical findings.

See below for difference between Qualitative and Quantitative research.

Qualitative Inquiry Quantitative Inquiry
Goals
  • seeks to build an understanding of phenomena (i.e. human behaviour, cultural or social organization)
  • often focused on meaning (i.e. how do people make sense of their lives, experiences, and their understanding of the world?)
  • may be descriptive: the research describes complex phenomena such as: social or cultural dynamics, individual perception
  • seeks explanation or causation

 

Research
Question
  • Qualitative inquiry is often used for exploratory questions, such as How? or Why? questions.

Examples:

  • How do breast cancer survivors adapt to their post-mastectomy body?
  • How is bereavement experienced differently by mothers and fathers?
  • Quantitative research aims to be more conclusive and pertain to larger populations, answering questions such as What? When? Where?

Examples:

  • When should women have their first mammogram?
  • What is the relation between bereavement and clinical depression?
Data
  • may be comprised of words, behaviors, images
  • the goal is data that can enhance the understanding of a phenomenon
  • can be manipulated numerically
  • the goal is precise, objective, measurable data that can be analyzed with statistical procedures
Design
  • Because the goal is exploratory, the researcher often may only know roughly what they are looking for. Thus, the design of the project may evolve as the project is in progress in order to ensure the flexibility needed to provide a thorough understanding of the phenomenon in question
  • A central tenet of quantitative research is the strictly controlled research design in which researchers clearly specify in advance which data they will measure, and the procedure that will be used to obtain the data
Data collection
Instruments
  • researchers are themselves instruments for data collection, via methods such as in-depth interviewing or participant observation. Data are thus mediated through a human instrument
  • date often collected ‘in the field’: the researcher observes or records behavior or interviews the participants in their natural setting (e.g. a clinic, the family home)
  • tools are employed to collect numerical data (e.g., surveys, questionnaires or equipment)
  • research environment is often a controlled representation of reality
Informant Selection
  • usually collected from small non-random samples (e.g., purposive samples, convenience samples, snow-balled samples)
  • not ‘measurable’ in a quantifiable or mathematical way
  • the aim is ensure that a sample is representative of the population from which it is drawn
  • gold standard is a random sample
Analyis
  • often inductive: the researcher builds abstractions, concepts, hypotheses, and theories from the data gathered
  • often relies on the categorization of data (words, phrases, concepts) into patterns
  • sometimes this data will then be embedded in larger cultural or social observations and analyses
  • Often complexity and a plurality of voices is sought
  • often deductive: precise measurement, mathematical formula, testing hypotheses

 

 

Results
  • The goal of qualitative research is to understand participants’ own perspectives as embedded in their social context
  • contextually based and thus do not seek generalizability in the same sense as quantitative research
  • Goal is prediction, generalizability, causality

 

For our EDCI 568 course, we were looking at a quantitative research paper on “Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility” by DeGroot, Young, & VanSlette (2015). Some of the findings from this study are mentioned below.

Question(s)

RQ1: Is the type of instructor Twitter use (social, professional, or a blend of the two) associated with student perceptions of instructor credibility?

RQ2: Above and beyond the content in the Twitterfeed, do perceptions of instructor credibility differ based on whether students believe it is a good idea or a bad idea for an instructor to use Twitter?

RQ3: Does student use of Twitter (ie., frequency, use of Twitter for social versus professional use) change the association between the profile content and perceptions of instructor credibility?

RQ4: How do students describe the potential positive and negative effects of an instructor using Twitter?

Process of Research

  • Researchers used both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine perceived differences in instructor credibility based on the content of hypothetical instructors’ Twitterfeeds
  • Participants were asked to gauge their own social and professional Twitter use by answering two questions on a continuum (completely social –> completely professional)*sliding response scale
  • Three hypothetical instructor Twitter accounts were created (1) an account with only social tweets, (2) an account with tweets of only academic and professional messages, and (3) an equal blend of the tweets from the social and professional tweets (social = personal life [16 total], professional = relevant to professors teaching and research [16 total], blend = alternating social and professional [22 total]
  • Names and profile photos on the accounts were all female, shared the same name, and were purposefully generic
  • Quantitative Measurement
    • Assessed using the Source Credibility Measure (McCroskey & Teven, 1999; Teven & McCroskey, 1997)
    • 3 separate subscales: competence, goodwill/caring, and trust
    • Each subscale included 6  bipolar adjectives with a 7-point response *reverse scored
    • reflect on reasons why it would be a good idea and a bad idea for their instructors to have a Twitter account (responses given)
  • Qualitative Measurement
    • Open ended questions regarding the students perception of the instructors
    • Comments were thematically analyzed

Participants

  • Were recruited by the researching posting calls (out to university Blackboard sites and on social media sites – Facebook and Twitter)
    • 239 individuals
    • Criteria:
      • Current college students
      • Twitter user (Average = user for 2.6 years)
      • Between 18-89 years old (Average = 20.5 years old)
      • 65.7% female
      • Primarily Caucasian (76.6%), 12.6% African American, 6.3% Asian, 2.5% Hispanic, 2.1% Multiracial, 1.3% American Indian
      • Range of academic majors and distributed across years of education

Results

Quantitative

  • Participants rated the professional Twitterfeed significantly more credible than the social Twitterfeed and the professional Twitterfeed was also marginally more credible than the blended Twitterfeed
  • Students rated the blended Twitterfeed as significantly more credible than the social Twitterfeed

Qualitative

  • Organized into themes
  • “It keeps the students connected with the professor”
  • “Extending the classroom”
  • “Improving student-instructor relationships”
  • “Metalearning”
  • “Student/teacher relationships should not go much further than the classroom”
  • “Violating classroom and time expectations”
  • “Breaching the student-instructor boundary”

My perspective – I agree with the general result of this study. I think Twitter has a particular advantage because of the way that the platform is set up (can follow, be followed, limited characters, can repost, and comment) for academic purposes. As  Wasin Ahmed writes in his recent article, “Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools” , that “Twitter remains the most popular platform for academic research.” As opposed to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat – where they are geared towards people sharing their own personal experiences, instead of ideas.  By looking at what people post, you can make generalizations about someones professional credibility as well as pull data to gather information on a topic. I appreciate Dr. Valerie Irvine’s presence on Twitter as she not only shares information and research connected to what we are discussing in class, but also connecting us to other people to develop our Personal Learning Network, and engaging in conversation with peers in the field.

When comparing the outcomes for quantitative versus qualitative data collection for research purposes, I think that most of the information I will be collecting in relation to my area of interest will be qualitative. I am interested in the use of technology in the elementary classroom; which was excellent to hear ideas and suggestions from Alec Couros today such as digital sleuthing, targeted ads, and the use of Twitter templates before going online!

However, I could see benefits from researching quantitative data about how the use of technology and social media platforms improve information acquisition for students. This could be done through a questionnaire/survey in combination with a pre and post test on a random topic to see if it improved their understanding.

Supports for Success

The two readings that were provided for EDCI 568 this Wednesday seemed to be in direct contrast with each other. See my notes below for more information from each article.

Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching by Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller  & Richard E. Clark (2010)

    • The goal of this article is to suggest that based on our current knowledge of human cognitive architecture, minimally guided instruction is likely to be ineffective.
    • Important to consider for this argument: working, long term memory, and the cognitive process
    • Long term memory – central and dominant structure of human cognition (everything that we see, touch, and hear is influenced by our long term memory)
    • Expert problem solvers derive their skill by drawing on the extensive experience stored in their long-term memory and then quickly select and apply the best procedures for solving problems
    • If nothing has been changed in long term memory, then nothing has been learned
    • Minimal guidance during instruction doesn’t allow learners to develop clear and precise pathways of learning to store in long term memory (stays in short term memory and is quickly lost)
    • How to learn needs to be scaffolded (when left to their own devices, higher risk for low aqcuisition of information and development of misconceptions)

Teaching for Meaningful Learning by Dr. Barron & Darling-Hammond, StanfordU

    • The importance of inquiry based teaching and learning in order for students to develop ‘21st century skills’ (inquiry, problem based, learning by design)
    • Types of assessment (ex. rubric) vs. the feedback that it gives (levels of progress)
    • Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
    • Active learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
    • Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.
    • These ‘new’ learning experiences require simultaneous changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices

Class Discussion and Questions to Consider

As mentioned by Barron and Hammond,

“decades of research illustrate the benefits of inquiry-based and cooperative learning to help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world.”

Personally, my views on students supports sits somewhere in the middle. I believe that the Inquiry approach to teaching is the most effective way for students to develop an understanding of themselves and the world around them.  Throughout my school year, I move through the ‘pool’ as Trevor Mackenzie notes in his book, Dive into Inquiry. At the beginning of the year, the whole class is engaging in the same inquiry together as we develop our questioning strategies, nonfiction reading skills, research skills, and persistence. Throughout the rest of the year, I often transition from controlled inquiry into guided inquiry. There have been very few instances where I have been able to fully let go in my grade 2/3 classroom. However, I am hoping to make this more of a focus as I transition into an intermediate classroom next year.

I believe that in order to build students success, educators needs to scaffold the learning experiences in order for students to develop the skills in order to be an independent learner. Reference the Zone of Proximal Development below.

The transition in education from traditional teaching strategies to Inquiry and Problem Based Learning experiences (PBL) was exciting and quick. However, I think it was done without much thought of students current education experiences as well as developmental abilities. As mentioned in our class discussion, high school students especially, are struggling with open ended teaching and learning.

Are students just lazy?

No. I believe that students are products of what they have been surrounded with. I think that in elementary school, educators are lucky because we have such a great opportunity to take advantage of our young students inherent curious nature to explore the world around them. Therefore, we should be using this time to scaffolding students learning process in order to transition into more difficult problems and concepts in the higher grades. It is unfair for educators to teach young students in the traditional way and then be expected to learn for themselves in a secondary setting. We need to provide students with the skills and strategies for success.

“Although unguided or minimally guided instructional approaches are very popular and intuitively appealing, the point is made that these approaches ignore both the structures that constitute human cognitive architecture and evidence from empirical studies over the past half-century that consistently indicate that minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a strong emphasis on guidance of the student learning process” (Kirshner, Sweller, & Clark, 2010).

If students are only wanting to do the minimum of what is expected, I think that is sign to us educators that they have not yet developed the appropriate neural pathways, they are used to low expectations of others, or they are not engaged with the learning that is happening.

How can students show their learning in different ways if they have not been taught it?

 

 

I believe that this is my job as an elementary school teacher – to expose students to exploring and experimenting with a variety of different ways to learn and share their learning with others. Therefore, as students get older, they can experiment with different ways to show their learning because they already know how to do the ground work.

Do grades feed into this?

 

As mentioned in the video above, the focus on grades for students pits kids against each other which creates a competitive environment instead of a collaborative one. I think the hyper-focus on grades, especially in the upper grades, gives students a way to compare themselves and develop a sense of self-identity that rides solely on their perceived abilities which is extremely detrimental as they get older.

In B.C. we are lucky to have a new sense of flexibility that comes along with the redesigned curriculum. The curriculum focuses more on the development of core and curricular competencies as life skills instead of the regurgitation of content. Because of the focus on skills and competencies, there is a need for a ‘continuum for growth and development’ as our School District calls it. So we are transitioning from a focus on grades and percentages to growth and development of a particular skill. We are definitely moving in the right direction, but it is going to take a while for students, but particularly, parents to be on board with this approach.

Transition from high school to higher education using an open model?

Parents continued focus on grades, I believe, is two-fold. They are used to the way things were when they were going to school (local, nationally, or internationally) and they are concerned about how the indicators on the growth continuum will translate into acceptance into a post secondary institution.

The first issue I think will just take patience and time. As educators continue on this journey of focusing on the competencies and clearly communicating the importance and the benefits of doing so, I think parents will come around.

In regards to the second issue, that is a systems concern. But some Post Secondary institutions are following the elementary and secondary school approach and altering their admission qualifications (see SFU’s here).

Something else to add – During a discussion with a secondary principal at the UBC Short Course this weekend, he had mentioned this his School District in Prince George have started to change the language between elementary and secondary schools to align  the approaches in the new curriculum to the types of learning that is going on at each site and each grade. He believes that the language of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary is not inclusive. Therefore, his district has moved to using the word foundational studies (Grades K-10) and graduate studies (Grades 11+). I thought this was a very interesting approach and something I would like to consider for my own site.

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