Working with CoETaIL has really pushed my boundaries. Even though I floundered (more times than I can remember) it has been an amazing roller coaster ride so far (one that I don’t plan to get off). Although the end of the course is near, it is the beginning of a far exciting and adventurous journey ahead.
I remember there was a time when I wondered at the benefits of Twitter but ever since I got on to the bandwagon, it has been uphill all the way. For this I have to thank my amazing colleague and fellow Coetailer Abby Moore. This past year with Coetail and Twitter has helped me build up my PLN/VLN, which in turn has helped me to grow personally and professionally.
Blogging was something that I always wanted to do but did not really have the ‘drive’ behind it. Coetail provided me with one! I hope to continue doing so even after I’m done with the fifth and final course as the reflections have helped get my mind working in different directions.
These last couple of months have been the most stressful ever for various reasons – end-of-the-year conferences, reports, so many new and not so new things to learn in this course and then on top of that wrapping up my personal and professional life in Kuwait. At the time I started writing this post, I had no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t have a job in the fall and I had no clue how I would apply my learnings from CoETaIL and finish up. It’s a crazy world I’m living in right now, being pulled in so many different directions. It’s no wonder I was stuck wondering what I will be doing for the final project. But since I had to take the plunge…
Initially since I didn’t know if I will be in a classroom, I decided to focus on my boys who will be in Grade 7 this year. I just had a general idea since I would only know what they’ll be doing in class once they start in August. I would readapt or start from scratch, depending on how things go from there. Of course it would have to be embedded into their learning at school and not be an add-on. Now that I actually know I will be teaching Grade 4, I will make some changes along the same lines as the year goes on.
1.Describe the project: What will your students do?
My main focus is going to be on the students maintaining their e-portfolios and blogging/vlogging (via Seesaw most probably). Along with that, collaboration for research purposes through Twitter, Skype, Google Hangout etc. I am also thinking of Global Read-Alouds, writing reviews on Goodreads/Amazon, etc. The students will learn to build and use their visual literacy skills to share their learning with others through various uses of technology. Oh and of course where would I be without a class Twitter account?! So yes I will facilitate them on that platform as well.
2.How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?
Introducing my kids to make connections and collaborate globally through blogs, Twitter and Skype sessions, teaching digital citizenship through communication so that the students can take ownership of their learning. This way they could also relate it to real-life experiences. I hope to keep the SAMR and TPACK in mind during this.
3.What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?
Keeping the ISTE Standards for Students in mind, I hope to get the students to be creative and innovative and reflect constantly to synthesize their understanding of learning in content areas. I want to get them engaged with the world outside the four walls of their classroom, to not just achieve a broader perspective but also to make a difference in the world in their own way.
4.Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
I seriously don’t know if it would work but it will definitely be a learning experience for me as well as this being a good initial experience for my students to start building their own PLN at an early age. Personally I have grown a lot over the last couple of years mostly thanks to Twitter. I believe if these kids learn to work as teams beyond their classrooms, it would serve as a building block towards their understanding of how well we work as a community.
5.What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
Haah, I am not sure if it will work since I have no idea what kind of learning takes place and how it does at the new school. My plan to just take their learning from the school environment and share it further might totally flop. I am apprehensive whether it will be structured the way I would have been able to achieve at my last school. And related to that is my biggest concern – I do not want this to be a teacher-oriented thing. All this makes it outside my comfort zone but I am going to be a risk-taker and dive into the learning experience along with my students. After all I am a ‘learner for life’!
6.What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
There are no ifs and buts about the learning being student-centered in my classroom. What I want to work on this year is to bring in project-based and game-based learning. Lately I have become very much interested in BreakOut Edu, but to be honest I have no idea how to go about it. It will be a case of trial and error and a lot of learning along the way. So let’s see what this year has in store for me. More reflection needed on my part every step of the way!
7.What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
I guess working with an open mindset and being a risk-taker would be the most needed attitude and skill by the students. The willingness to work with a range of technologies to grow connections outside the four walls (locally or globally), being more creative and reflective, learning to be communicative with a larger audience, being vulnerable to criticism, learning to give feedback which is not suggestive and receiving it with an open mind would help the students in the long run.
Right now I feel overwhelmed with these ideas floating around my head and the uncertainties of being at a new school. I would love to hear thoughts from you fellow CoETaILers on how to make this a good project for my students.