My Three year old Empowered Twitterers!

As I looked at the Essential Vocabulary for this week, I could make a connection with all three words. I have a class Twitter handle with my three year old students in Pre-K. When I started it in the beginning of the year, I did not really know if I would be able to make this work or even get it off the ground. Initially I started using it with the idea of keeping the parents updated about our daily activities. But as time went on, I became more confident using it.

It is different when you use social media for your own personal or professional development as compared to using it with your class. When I read Rebekah’s post, I immediately googled myself. Thankfully nothing incriminating came up because I have mostly, not always though, tried to be very careful when using social media. Using Twitter for the class was different because I knew that I wanted to post pictures of my students’ activities but not with their faces visible. As I used it regularly, I felt the change in my students’ thinking. Instead of me sharing what was going on in the classroom, now they want to share their learning with others. Yes their first thought is that they want to let their parents know what they are doing at school. But they are now connecting with other teachers and classes at our school and beyond.

We mostly use the See/Think/Wonder Visible Thinking Routine in the classroom. They are now used to the language and even when I read a story and they have questions in their minds, they use the same language. They collaborate as a class and use that strategy to tweet their questions. They are slowly empowering themselves without even realizing it. We are constantly talking about using ‘nice words’ in our tweets, words which do not hurt other’s feelings. We also talk about respect, empathy and tolerance. They are learning social skills and attitudes while helping me tweet.

As we connected with a class in Sofia, Bulgaria – my students wanted to know where in the world it is. We looked at the globe in our classroom and also looked at how far it is from Kuwait. Most of the student community at our school are avid travelers. They might not understand how far it is in terms of distance but they are making connections in their learning with the understanding that yes these two places are on two different continents. Last Saturday, during our Critical Friends Group meeting, I shared this as my success story and my colleagues pointed out that my students are getting a bigger picture of the world not just around them but beyond what is clearly visible.

So yes I feel that we can empower our students to use technology no matter how young. They will not make a positive impact right away but we as educators can help them to take that first step towards connecting and sharing responsibly.

 

RUA for Teachers – Course 2 Final Project and Reflection

An idea is born!

At the beginning of this course I was talking to Lissa, our tech integration coach, and she suggested that since we already have a Student RUA at our school but not a Teacher RUA, we should work on that as our Final Project. I thought it was an excellent idea since we could bring our learning to working use. Isn’t that what we are trying to do with our students – making it meaningful and connected to life.

Online Collaboration

Trying to connect globally for this project wasn’t as big a challenge as I had initially thought. Initially I had tweeted out my cry for help, but then saw that Blair Lockhart had started a sign-up form on the COETAIL Google Community. Initially our group consisted of Abby F, Abby M, Blair, Joy, Kyle and myself. We later split into two smaller groups based on Robert’s suggestion of primary and secondary divisions. We had got the approval from Robert and Rebekah for our project and it seemed that it was going to be a smooth sailing. But then I got really busy with the PEAK Conference. Every year one school in Kuwait hosts the Professional Educators Around Kuwait Conference. This year our school hosted it. Abby Franks, Abby Moore and myself were on the organizing committee and it seems our lives, along with co-chairs Christina Botbyl, Lissa Layman and some others, literally revolved around putting the schedule, program and the whole conference together.

Now that PEAK was over, Abby, Joy and myself got together for a Google Hangout. Joy had already started working on the first draft and posted it in Google Docs. We used the ISTE Standards for Teachers, SAMR model and Common Sense Media for reference for our RUA. For our poster which we have attached to the RUA, we chose to use the IB language – Principled, Communicator and Inquirer. We fine-tuned the RUA and I felt really enamored by the wealth of knowledge Joy and Abby had. It was an exciting experience working together on this project. Now that we have our RUA, we plan to make this a living, working document at our school.

As I went through the articles and videos for this course, something that stood out for me was EMPOWERMENT. We as educators should not be holding back our students, rather giving them the reins to drive their learning through ethical use of technology. We used this as a final word in our poster (posted link also attached at the bottom)Harness the power of the internet to empower your students and improve the world.

RUA Poster for Teachers

Not just a Fling but a Lifelong Relationship

flickr photo by QuotesEverlasting https://www.flickr.com/photos/quoteseverlasting/9447619508/in/photostream/ shared under a Creative Commons License
flickr photo by QuotesEverlasting https://www.flickr.com/photos/quoteseverlasting/9447619508/in/photostream/ shared under a Creative Commons License

As I read the articles for this week, one word that kept popping in my mind was INTEGRITY. Why do we have to use the word ‘digital citizens’? Why just think about digital citizenship? Why not simply CITIZENSHIP? It embodies empathy, integrity, respect, responsibility and self awareness anywhere and everywhere. Teaching this younger generation about their social responsibility and standing up for what is right should take care of not just digital citizenship but make the world a better place. The responsibility to teach them lies not just with us as teachers but also as parents and adults.

A tool or a toy?!

Technology is a tool like any other. Yes it is transforming lives, positively as well as negatively. As I read this Washington post article, I kept thinking about the kind of life youngsters in this particular country are leading. I may be biased and wrong in saying this, but I feel today’s parents have given up on their responsibility. I see more harm than good being done with respect to their attitudes and behavior in general. Even a child as old as 4 years old has a new device, be it an iPad, an Apple watch or an iPhone because they can afford it and it has become a status symbol to own one. I feel that most of the time it is being used as a baby sitter. Another negative factor which I see here is that most of these kids are not being brought up by their parents but by other care-givers. Therefore these kids do not realize the importance of being a positive digital citizen.

Netiquette:

But saying all this, I do not mean to imply that I am against its usage. We should not be controlling what students can do with a list of dos and don’ts. We should be teaching them skills to encourage the safe use of technology. Students should be taught to use it respectfully and ethically so that they can become empowered and facilitate others along with them. As stated by the ISTE Standards for students for Digital Citizenship, students should portray responsibility for lifelong learning. This can only happen if we model and teach them safe and ethical use with online information. I saw the following video and thought about the level of respect and responsibility kids these days are capable of, not just for themselves but for others as well.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRQdAOrqvGg[/youtube]

Course 2 is quite overwhelming for me as there are things like copyright and privacy that even we as adults do not at times realize or respect. We have to take each step carefully. Unless we understand our responsibilities first in this ever-evolving digital world and model it for our youngsters we cannot have our students be lifelong responsible learners. Every school should have a curriculum like Reuben Loewy’s “Living Online” to help spread awareness about the important skills needed to become a digital citizen. And the earlier this job starts the better, not in middle or high school but even as early as kindergarten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Right to Copy is Wrong?! Says…

Scary practices in the teaching arena:

I have to say that teachers are greatest of plagiarizers. We copy, borrow and steal good ideas from each other and the internet (specially sites like Youtube, Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers to name a few). So where is the fine line which says it is okay to copy and when is it not? And more importantly how do we teach that to our students?

When I started reading about copyright and infringement, my first thought was OOOPS! we frequently use music from popular kids’ songs and movies during our assemblies. Sometimes the students use a popular program or book for parodies. So does that mean we are infringing on these books, videos, songs etc.? Uh-Oh!!! I also read this article on Edutopia about copyright and fair use which also a playlist of videos.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg7MXoaRUvo&list=PLvzOwE5lWqhTbOCIFp_OxsN6nC-l20kMT&index=5[/youtube]

After watching this video I was fearful of our practice as educators and role models to our students. If we ourselves are lagging in our duties because we are unaware of the rights and responsibilities, how do we take the next step? The very important one! That of teaching the students of what is ‘fair use’ and what they can use creatively for remixes or mashups.

And then I found this video and breathed a sigh of relief

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdVWW8qMwfU&list=PLvzOwE5lWqhTbOCIFp_OxsN6nC-l20kMT&index=6[/youtube]

So it seems we can use those book, program or music ideas for our assemblies if they give a new meaning to it. It does not compete with the original, song, music, video, book or program. They are remixes so it is fair use. Our assemblies are solely for the student and parent community, no one is making videos and posting them online to benefit monetarily. So yes, it not copyright infringing! Hallelujah!!!

The Who, What and How:

But it raises the question of what age do we start at? Can I teach my 3 year old preschoolers? Would they understand what I am talking about? What and how to teach about copyright? What is permissible to use and what is not? When I tried to teach my twin 11 year old boys about this, their first response was “But my friend does it and no one stopped him.” I showed them the Copyright flowchart which I had really liked because it was so easy for me to understand and follow. My boys looked at it and instantly shouted out “Hey this is like Choose Your Own Adventure!” They loved it so much that they have saved it on their iPads and have been very excited to use it. I’m thinking of laminating it and putting it on their softboard so that while they’re studying and doing their assignments, they get into the habit of constantly referring to it.

A small step before any kind of leap:

It is a small but very important step for them, along with me as I am just now becoming aware of all the minute details of what could be used fairly and what could not be. If this small lesson has made an instant impact on my boys, I’m just thinking of how it could impact if it is a part of the curriculum. I think it should be part of every teacher’s professional development at every school as well. Only then these digital natives can become digital citizens.

I also showed some YouTube videos to my boys to give them a deeper understanding about copyright. I was amazed to hear their thoughts about fair use, original works and remaking something new. They were surprised to know that only 30 seconds of any video can be used for their own purpose.

One example of two books they thought of and compared was ‘Three Little Pigs’ and ‘The True Story of The Three Little Pigs’. Their question was that if the author can make a story using the same characters and make money from his book, isn’t that infringing copyrights of the original book. To tell you the truth, I was stumped, but then I asked them about the differences in the two stories and  also to wonder what could have been the author’s purpose behind the second book and what effect it has on the readers. They still feel it is against the copyright law. I am going to leave this open for discussion for you readers.

 

 

 

‘iZE’ your ‘Personal’ Settings Online

As I was going through this week’s readings two movies kept coming to my mind. One was Eagle Eye, where the supercomputer takes over everyone’s life. At the end of the movie the Defense Secretary urges that another supercomputer should not be built because “sometimes the very measures we put into place to safeguard our liberty become threats to liberty itself”. The other was The Net where the main character loses her identity and in turn loses everything she owns; her job, home, car and is also framed for murder, theft and illegal drug use. I know both these are extreme cases yet they are both scary because both are very much possible in this digital age.

Stock Photo: Personal Privacy word cloud on white cloud Image ID:222408193 Copyright: Rob Wilson

Whilst talking about online privacy, two names that popped up in my head were Edward Snowden and Pope Benedict XVI. One exposed highly classified information to the public in 2013, while the other  talks about respect, privacy, responsibility and truthfulness on social media to reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. These two bring to mind the effect on online privacy as a result of our actions. Because of Snowden’s leaks, more awareness has now been in effect with online privacy, not just with individuals but national security-wise as well. But the question still is “how much of our information is personal or private?” specially with the emergence of cloud-based computing industry. How many of us really know what we are agreeing to when we click on ‘I Agree’. I know I don’t and yet I still click on it. Who bothers to read or even scroll through lines and lines of terms and conditions? Maybe we should, to safeguard our online privacy! So is it the time, the length of these agreements or just the jargon that keeps us from reading these agreements? Why do we forget to respect others’ privacy and not promote harmony?

As a first step, I am teaching my preschoolers to use all things in the classroom responsibly. Teaching them about online tools and privacy is another matter. But what I have started doing is, talking to parents about responsible use of digital devices with their young ones. During the conferences last week, the topic of screen time and privacy came up with a couple of parents since I introduced Seesaw to them for the first time. It was quite interesting to see that some parents are very much worried about their child’s privacy while others are hardly aware of the consequences. I guess it could be because English is not their first language. So right now I feel it is my responsibility to educate the parents along with their young ones about online privacy and settings, and having a positive digital profile. For this purpose, I have been using external hyperlinks for the Principal’s blog or even articles to help parents understand fully what I am talking about when I post weekly on my class blog. For instance, beginning of the year when I discussed Kelso’s Choices in the classroom, I also posted on the blog for parents with hyperlinks to the actual site itself. Recently one of the parents told me about using material from the site and how she would like to use for others. At that time I did not even give a second thought that using materials from the site for public or commercial use is unethical. But now that I have been reading all these articles for Week 2, I have learned another valuable lesson.

Thinking about language hurdles/barriers for my class parents made me think of what it said in this article.  It says “What if the site decides to change the language in its terms of service again? Will we one day have to learn to adapt to the fact that we must succumb to diminishing privacy rights if we want to keep our profiles?” So should we start reading the fine print before we click on “I Agree”? Should companies like Facebook own our pictures and other content? While we post pictures of ourselves having fun with family of friends, are we jeopardizing our professional lives?

After reading Ben Goldacre’s article, the question that is in the forefront of my mind is – How do I personalize and privatize my settings online?

Better to be safe than sorry!

Lagging behind

Woah :/ I have three weeks of catching up to do on my COETAIL work. The reason, or should should I say the culprit for my lagging behind is reports cards. Actually in Pre-K we don’t do report cards, we do Learning Books, which is like a portfolio but not really a ‘portfolio’ because the students themselves do not choose the pieces of work that go in it. It is the teachers who are doing so.

Pictures stumped me

While on the topic of ‘Learning Books’, I have to share something which I found quite interesting  about myself. In the Learning Books, we don’t just have to write in comments but we have to put in pictures of each student doing a certain activity related to Literacy, Math, P.E., Art and Arabic. I was stumped because I found that I have pictures of them doing those activities but not with their faces showing. And of course parents want to see their child’s face clearly in the picture. So I had to start all over again for the pictures.

Privacy

I have tried to be particular when posting pictures on Twitter that my students’ faces do not show on social media. I have not always have been successful though and there have been a number of times that I have posted pictures with students faces visible in them. That brings us to the topic of ‘digital footprints’ and ‘digital shadows’. How many of us are very particular about it, considering the number of selfies and pictures we see posted around the web.

Online Presence

At the beginning of the school year, during our ‘orientation’ week, our Superintendent brought up the same topic. He mentioned that when he looked up his name on Google, it also threw up a picture of a convict somewhere in the US. At that time I wasn’t sure if our Superintendent was joking or if he was really serious. But on the other hand it IS a very serious issue. Parents are exposing their young ones to social media, long before the child himself/herself does it as a teenager, by putting up pictures of their baby’s sonograms or even leaving a trail by just posting news of the new arrival.

Stock Photo: Computer keyboard with printout of hand and foot keys Image ID: 36939649 Copyright: Tatiana Popova

So what is a ‘digital footprint’ or ‘digital shadow’? How do we as international educators network safely on the internet? What are the effects on our students? When and how do we teach them about digital safety and having a positive digital footprint?

Being Safe, Responsible and Respectful

I decided to show the following video to my 3 year old Pre-K students.

The reason I chose this was because it was animated (something I thought the little ones would enjoy and connect with) and of course since it is by Common Sense Media. But most importantly it used the ‘Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful’ motto, something that I use daily in the classroom as well as on the playground. Of course they did not really understand the concept of ‘footprints’ on their devices. And that has made me think that we need to include their parents as well in educating the little ones about their digital footprints. Getting parents on board to teach children how to be smart about privacy settings, audience and social media would limit risks. So yeah, the earlier the better!

The Important Question to ask

After watching Daniel Pink’s video I thought about the two questions. But then I thought my students are too young to think and be able to answer the first question; “What’s my sentence?” So I thought about using only the second sentence; “Was I better today than yesterday?”, since we already do something along the same lines as an exit ticket for the end of the day. The students have been able to compare what went well in their day and how they can make it better next time. I have been trying to link this question to what we post on our class Twitter page as well. It’s a learning process with these little ones and it is going to take some time before they really make the connection between the two. I might introduce the first question sometime later in the year though. It is our responsibility as adults and educators to not scare the younger generation but to make sure that they learn how to leave a positive digital footprint.

Educator with a Positive Online Presence?!

That brings us to the question “What are WE doing to leave a positive digital footprint for prospective employers?” Job listings are posted online and employers go through your online presence before they hire or reject you. So to be on the safe side and have a positive digital presence, Derek from Lifehacker suggests the following steps:

  • Think before you post.
  • Learn to use the privacy settings on your social networks.
  • Use pseudonyms, but don’t put too much faith in them.
  • Be impersonal about what you say, or avoid the issue entirely.
  • Talk to an attorney, or reach out to a friendly organization.

These steps do not necessarily make you 100% safe but as they say “It is better to be safe than sorry”. You do not want a prospective employer rejecting you because of an embarrassing comment or picture you or your friends might have posted on any of the social media out there.

A Case of Exploding Minds! Course 1 Final Project

overload of information in my mind (Paper53)

Now that Course is about to end and all that remains is the final project submission, I am still overwhelmed. In fact more so, because now that I have all this information just zooming around in  my mind, I am questioning myself more and more. I am also confused because I teach three year olds. And thinking about how to integrate technology with them is a bit of a struggle in my mind. I do not want to use it just for the sake of using technology. Yes they can use devices like iPads and smartphones, but how are they using it for ‘authentic’ learning? Being an IBPYP teacher, my main focus is on the ‘ACTION’ part. How am I going to use what I have learned to make a difference? How has my thinking changed during this course? How will my actions affect my students?

https://tinyurl.com/oa75ejn

Trying to come up with something for the final project, my mind kept going back to the last few lines in my first post. And here I am still asking myself the same question: Am I using technology in my classroom as a ‘substitute’ or am I ‘modifying’ my teaching, let alone ‘redifining’ it? The students are using my iPad to draw/doodle on Paper53 and Seesaw, we use the projector for BrainPop Jr. or You Tube, we use our class Twitter account. Yes, we have made some connections outside the school environment. The students look at the pictures I take of their activities and think about which ones to share with the digital world. They are even helping me tweet what they want to say. Also, one of my other goals this year is to collaborate through Skype classrooms. So am I on the right track of SAMR?! I think I am because I feel I am changing my students thinking and learning landscape but only time can really tell. In the mean time let the explosions happen!

Unit overlay:

In IBPYP, there are six transdisciplinary units taught through the year, but in Pre-K only four units are taught. That was also one of my problems, because I did not really have a choice since I would be using one unit per course for the final project. The unit that I have used here is “Who We Are”. For the purpose of the final project, I chose to use the connections that my students made with colors. The unit itself is an inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human. I thought this first course in CoETaIL made a good bridge between my learning and my classroom teaching – making connections in every way!

For the project itself I chose to use the International Dot Day activity because that again was making global connections. Sadly I could not collaborate with anyone virtually, we did post the painted dot pictures on the website though. Another reason was that other than the students being new to school and some of them being even new to any kind of school environment, I myself am new to teaching in Pre-K as I have previously also mentioned. I will definitely be better prepared next year.

International Dot Day was on September 15th. We read the book ‘The Dot’ by Peter Reynolds and discussed how to make our dots. The students decided they wanted to use paint. During that week the students worked with me in small groups and painted their dots on paper. We posted pictures on the bulletin board in the Pre-K hallway, class blog and Seesaw. Some of the students have already recorded what they thought about the colors, how they made them feel, and also how they were similar or different than others. The others are still thinking. It is a slow process because I just have one iPad in the classroom.

The students really enjoyed working in Paper53 on the iPad to make their dots. When asked which activity they enjoyed more, most of them said on the iPad because if they made a mistake they could always erase or start all over again. Again, it took time because I was working one-on-one with the students with just one iPad.

Before the Gallery Walk, we discussed the Class Agreement. We could not be loud or disturb other classes. We also needed to keep the learner profiles (Caring, Open-minded and Responsible) in mind when talking about other’s dots.

We are still discussing how we can share our work globally. One option is our class Twitter account. Although they are just three year old, yet they are gradually learning to take charge of their own ‘learning’.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UlZb-v9sSJ7rlB73m4uN3W6zrs29NmQ1NGrvY5eAGNs/pub

Rubric Final Project Coetail-Course-1

Random Ramblings:

I just love using Visible Thinking routines in the classroom for students as well as for myself. So here is “I used to think…”

My idea of “success” when I started CoETaIL.

“But now I think…”

Image done using Paper53
This is what “success” actually looks like for me!

 

Whew! It has been quite a journey! And there’s more to come…

 

Perceptions Intercepted!

Social Media and me:

For this post, I think I will start off not as a teacher or even an individual but as a mom. The reason being, my recent frustration with my 17 year old son constantly using Snapchat during his day. I was against it because I had read that is was a ‘sexting’ app. I even tweeted out to ask if Snapchat is only for the younger generation or could it be effectively used by teachers for teaching and learning purposes. I looked it up on Google and found a plethora of articles but I narrowed it down to how it could be used by teachers in schools. After reading a couple, I found that yes it can and IS being used for learning purposes in schools and colleges across US (not sure about the world). So my question is why aren’t the rest of us catching on to this bandwagon, specially when the students are so engaged with it? After all if we are going to create a community of GEEKS who are passionate about a certain topic why not use the platforms these youngsters are already using? Why not tweak it to benefit their learning experiences?

https://tinyurl.com/nlgk9d3
https://tinyurl.com/nlgk9d3

One word that I kept on hearing in the videos that I listened to was ‘ephemeral’. Today’s youth is living IN the moment. Snapchat certainly helps with that because these stories are online for only a short duration of 24 hours and then they disappear.

When we look back at any social media platform, weren’t the initial responses mostly negative? Isn’t that what happened with Facebook and Twitter? Would anyone have thought of making school or class accounts on Facebook or Twitter then? According to the articles, with the addition of Snapchat Stories, it is now possible for teachers to ask students to create and share their narratives in the best possible ways. Other examples of Snapchat being used by colleges is for scavenger hunts, test/exam results, campus promotions/updates, etc. Here is a list of snapchatters (there are some surprises in there as well) who are geeks in their own way.

I know I have talked about just one platform here but if we start using Snapchat, Instagram, Vines, Facebook, Twitter, Vlogs etc. for educational purposes wouldn’t that be ‘participatory learning’ where we as teachers would learn alongside our students. The ‘learning landscape’ is already changing. Using these platforms would certainly target the following two standards.

2.a: design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

3.b: collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.

Here I would like to share this video I found of Kim Cofino’s Disrupt Strand talk during Learning2 Conference. It is certainly very interesting and I had an A-HA moment.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Wtc5whyLX9Q?list=PLOkeXFURWAFo5yckpk-vFkNAlNmAa_dbq[/youtube]

I know  we can argue about the appropriateness of these tools or platforms for building skills but aren’t these platforms providing collaboration on a global scale. It would also engage ‘collaboration by difference‘ since students would learn to respect others’ perspectives and expertise (aren’t we trying to build empathy and international mindedness). I have a lot to learn in terms of global collaboration and networking, so I think I will follow this:

LEARN. UNLEARN. RELEARN.

Youth building their PLNs:

Recently my son joined LinkedIn because I pushed him and two of his friends into it. I asked them to join groups according to their interests and join in the conversations. (Initially, of course my son retaliated saying he just did not have enough time. He is in Grade 12, doing full DP). Right now he is just ‘lurking’ around the conversations, but I am hoping he will build his PLN soon.

I myself have built my PLN around Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (to some extent) by collaborating with colleagues who are no longer at AIS. But that is not enough because I have not yet extended that  PLN or learning experience to my students. I have finally made my class Twitter account. YAAYY!!! Now I need to start collaborating with other classes around the world. Any takers?

Be the Change You Want to See!

After reading the article, “Shaping Tech for the Classroom – 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology” by Marc Prensky, the first thing that crossed my mind was that this article was published in 2005, and ten years later we’re still asking the same questions. So how far have we really come in our teaching methodologies and how much has learning changed? Are we still only dabbling?/ Doing old things in old ways? (WHY?) Old things in new ways? (hmm…) Or have we finally managed to start doing new things in new ways? Why are we still hindered by the technological and social factor? Why are most teachers still ‘digital immigrants’ (although some have converted to ‘digital citizens’)? Why do we still hold ourselves back from adopting and adapting technology from the ‘digital natives’ – the students? Why are schools so slow to adapt to the digital movement when almost every other professional organization has readily adopted it? Why are some schools/ teachers still doing things the old way? (It is specially surprising because ‘schools’ are the places where the ‘learning’ starts). These are some questions that are constantly running through my mind. Joining CoETaIL has provided me with a platform where I can collaborate with others to inquire into them.

Old or New?

For the last couple of years I have been meticulously using Google Docs, making various folders so that I can later go back and retrieve things easily. This is definitely a step up for me because when I look at my desk, it is a mess (granted it is an organised mess since I have no problem finding things). Of course since I hate collecting paper, using Google Docs is an absolute blessing and pleasure. Something that I realized for myself was that I have started using technology more with the advent of iPads and smartphones. Where before I used to procrastinate in using technology, I now  use apps for saving things on my iPad. Where I have needed to fill out forms I have used CudaSign, where you can even put in your signature using your finger or a stylus on the screen. I use Paper53 regularly, specially during meetings, conferences or simply whenever I want to take notes. On the iPad I have found Adobe Acrobat and TinyPDF very useful since I can annotate, highlight, add texts and drawings to my documents without any fuss. I am also using cloud-based storage like I’m sure a lot of my fellow CoETaILers and colleagues. This year I am using Seesaw to maintain e-portfolios for my students. Of course when you’re thinking of all these other platforms how can you leave out Pinterest?! Pinterest is a great example of collaboration. Even when you find some great ideas which otherwise would not work with the age-group you’re working with, you can always tweak it according to your requirements. I have regularly started using Twitter (I do not have a class Twitter account yet but I am going to make one soon) and LinkedIn not just for networking but learning, collaboration and professional development purposes (although to be honest, I’m still ‘lurking’). I do realize that all this is still just ‘modifying’, but I feel it is a step in the right direction.

In my last post, I had said that we should educate our students to create a community of GEEKS who are passionate and driven by their interests and talents. So how do we do that? Yes it is an uncomfortable and at times overwhelming journey but if we keep in mind that we as teachers are no longer in full control of the ‘learning’ process, rather we are the ‘facilitators’ along with our students’ learning. Like Marc Prensky said in his article we should not just adopt technology but adapt it until we reach the point where the next century doesn’t catch us by surprise.  Our classrooms should be spaces for collaborative and creative learning without losing the most important voices; those of the students’!

While reading another article Educating for Change by Jonathan Lash, the four approaches given by him really stress the fact about student-led learning. We have to make them Inquirers, Thinkers, Knowledgeable, Caring, Open-minded, Balanced, Risk-Takers, Principled, Communicators and Reflective. Only then can we have life-long learners! We as teachers need to have a growth mindset before we plant the seeds in our students. I love using technology and as a parent I am continuously learning things from my kids, be it through games, apps or websites. We as adults have a responsibility to collaborate and ensure that today’s youth understand what their ‘learning goals’ are. Ultimately, technology is a ‘tool’ like many others. We have to handle it in such a way that we get our students ready for their future. 

 

 

 

Creating a generation of Geeks for tomorrow’s World

Geeks are collaborators and prosumers:

Contrary to popular belief, today’s students are very much interested in ‘learning’. The only difference is the modes of learning have immensely changed in recent times. Where before students used encyclopedias and other such resources, and ultimately it would take a long period for the learning process to complete, today’s students have information at their fingertips. That being said, they still need to understand how to access the correct and appropriate resources. As such, there has been a new breed of learners who have started using technology with the intent and purpose of their specific interest. A huge percentage of homes have internet access, making it easier for these youngsters and adults alike to become “geeks“. This is also one reason why today we see so many blogs and vlogs coming up. They are not just consumers of technology but have also become experts and ‘prosumers’ in their respected fields by sharing their ideas/ thoughts/ reflections. This has given a social aspect to this “geek community”.

Geek Communties:

One example that came to my mind was that of the Minecraft community. These youngsters (and adults including teachers as well) have become experts of the Minecraft world and have started sharing it through videos on Youtube and other channels.

Another example is the Maker Movement. The concept itself behind Makerspace is nothing new. Mankind has always ‘learned’ best by making or doing something. Technology has given a twist to this Maker Movement and other segments called Hackerspaces and FabLabs have evolved. According to some, Makerspaces have a broader range while Hackerspaces are more technology focused. Makerspace communities have mushroomed with the inclusion of 3D printers, tools and cutters and of course internet for research/ creating purposes.

Self-reflection:

I asked myself if I have ever effectively, practically and authentically embedded technology in my teaching within the curricular areas? My answer was ‘No/ Maybe’ because I just barely touched the surface when I initiated the Maker movement in Grade 4 last year. The students were all very enthusiastic for sure. I saw them using their iPads for research purposes but then I noticed that that was all they used their iPads for – ‘research’. Once they found what they were looking for, they got busy with assembling and creating. Sadly, I could not finish what I had started for various reasons. But the bottom line is that I saw the energy and enthusiasm in the students’ learning process.

The most of technology that I have used in class is by using Brainpop and Brainpo Jr., Bill Nye videos, Kidblog and Youtube clips and videos. I don’t feel that I have learned how to ‘effectively, practically and authentically’ use technology in the classroom. That is my self-reflection and I am asking my fellow CoETaILers here to give me feedback to help my learning process, because for me your comments hold a great deal of weight. Stepping into the CoETaIL community has opened up avenues for me. I may never be a ‘geek’ but I will always ‘hang out‘ and ‘mess around’!

Every student/ person a ‘geek’:

I was recently watching this TedTalk by Sir Ken Robinson – “Bring on the Revolution”, in which he mentions that we have to change the face of today’s education which is an industrialized version. I strongly agree with his idea that we should create a movement in education and not just rise to it but rise WITH it. We should educate our students to create a community of GEEKS who are passionate and driven by their interests and talents.