We need to be delivering intentional meaningful context for learning. We are in an age of information where teachers may be optional, in an age where shift is happening and shift happens.
We are fortunate that the schools in our district have access to the Internet and information, which allows us to take advantage of any teachable moments that arise from these conditions. With the Learning with Technology: A plan for SD 35 vision being set in place, our district’s learners will be provided an equal playing field and they will all have similar opportunities to gain access and achieve success. I have found that these conditions of connectivity and pedagogy can lead to intrinsically motivated students.
This has been an amazing journey for us at Richard Bulpitt so far. We are in Year one, month 4 and 75ish days of instruction (not that anyone is counting??). We have already accomplished so much from my perspective. Not only do we have to overcome the bumps that come along the way of opening a new school, but we also have to teach/learn what works best for us as individuals and as a community of learners.
The Digital Literacy Dinner Series has definitely been a driver of technology. I think this caliber of professional development has been powerful in that it is not a once off, like minded individuals are gathering, sharing and then afforded the opportunity to go back into their classes implement and repeat the cycle. We are not teaching with technology for the sake of teaching with technology. We are creating tasks that target higher order cognitive skills (Blooms Taxonomy) while designing tasks that have an impact on student outcomes (SAMR). For those not familiar with the SAMR model it is framework for technology integration. It is a framework that has been developed by Ruben R. Puentedura to help to integrate the digital learning experience that uses technology to transform learning experiences that lead to high levels of achievement.
Collaboration I feel is another facilitator of great teaching and that is exactly what has led Richard Bulpitt to success thus far. That common thread is what weaves us all together. At Richard Bulpitt we did something different. Instead of selecting 1 or 2 or 6 members of our staff to participate, we selected 2 seats and are rotating them through the interested staff. This has been powerful because it is allowing access to so many more individuals. After the first two dinner series, we left energized with a few technological nuggets that we wanted to implement.
From each Engagement series we have walked away with a plan to implement something that we have learned.
What we have already implemented:
We started off with encouraging members within our staff to sign up to twitter, if only to lurk! After our first session at the DL dinner series Lucy Lenko, Richard Bulpitt’s principal, was excited to try and tweet out our morning announcements. She learned a lot from this initial experience because it was challenging to tweet out the morning announcements while doing supervision outside, doing the morning announcements and putting out fires, all without being cloned! While she was already a native user of TweetDeck is was only then she discovered TweetDeck’s magical powers, she has the ability to create a tweet and save it to be tweeted at a particular time. So in the wee hours of the morning Lucy Lenko types up her morning announcements and saves them to be tweeted at precisely 8:20, 10 minutes before school starts so parents can be reminded before they leave the house that today is Pajama day. She has also been teaching members of our staff (me included) exactly how awesome TweetDeck is!
From this experience we felt that connecting to parents who may not use twitter was a huge need for us. So we sent out a message in our school newsletter teaching our parents how to subscribe to our school announcements through twitter as texts to their phones. It has worked out great. Parents now can receive tweets as texts straight to their phones!
At Richard Bulpitt we have a large Mandarin and Korean population. We then started to use Audio Boo to tweet out voice morning audio announcements. Once we were successful and comfortable with this we asked two grade 5 students to translate the school announcements and record them on the iPad on the Explain Everything app. These are then tweeted out using the AudioBoo app. We are hoping that this is reaching out to members in our community and increasing inclusivity. We have found that in order for users to access these audio tweets they must install Audio Boo on their digital device.
Beyond twitter we have been using the Reflector app to wirelessly mirror our iPads /iphones/ipods through our laptops to share student work on the ipads. Teachers have been using their iPads as doc cameras with their Dewey iPad stands.
In our Grade 5 classroom:
In our class Lara Lacroix and I job share (just call us the Dream Team!). Lara, set up a class Edmodo account and the grade 5 students really enjoy using this platform to share information, discuss homework and we use it as a place to post reminders and notifications for homework that is due. Parents have the capability to have a limited profile where they see only what their child is posting. Lara has also been using Kidblog with the students to blog. It really is amazing the amount of effort students put into their work when they know it will be shared with their peers!
We and several other teachers have weebly classroom websites. On our grade 5 classroom website we have our learning outcomes posted, I have a Mrs. Connolly blog to keep parents informed of what is going on in the class. I have also started to screen cast the math lessons I teach in Explain Everything and then upload them to YouTube, then I make them available on both Edmodo and our Weebly site. The purpose of this is so parents and students are able to access the lesson that has been taught in class. When students go home with homework, or are studying for a test they are able to review the concepts that were taught in class.
We have initiated a Genius Hour in our Grade 5 classroom. However, I feel as though next term I will add a bit of structure to the Genius Hour. I will still give students the opportunity to study whatever they would like but perhaps give them a bit more structure to follow. I would like to see the inquiry process unfold a bit more.
We have also been using Doodle surveys in our class. Doodle surveys are used to survey parents for various classroom needs. Doodle is free online scheduling software that allows you to create polls, invite participants and send confirmation emails once a decision has been made. Participants were invited via email. In our classroom it was used to organize sign up for classroom luncheon food items, volunteers for classroom activities, polling parents what days they would be attending student led conferences and collecting items for a family that Division 1 and 7 sponsored at Christmas time. This helped in organizing as participants made informed decisions based on the responses and the information that was always available without having to ask the classroom teacher, or come to the classroom to see posted schedules. Doodles eliminated lost or misplaced information and improved access to information.
Finally after learning about QR codes, we went QR crazy!! I started by using the QR codes as a fun scavenger hunt for students to learn about explorers in our grade 5 classroom. I then used them on my bulletin boards. Whenever I create a bulletin board I always like to include a bit of information on the background of the project. While I still do that, I now also include a QR code which is linked to a page on our website that offers more details. For example we currently have gorgeous 3D snowflakes up on our bulletin board, if you scan the QR code it will lead you to our website where I have created a pdf which includes step by step instructions on how to recreate these works of art at home!
Finally, the teachers upstairs created QR codes for their classroom websites and attached them to their room numbers outside our classrooms. The site we have been using to create the QR codes is QR Stuff.
As a staff we have been sharing technology use within our meetings. Each meeting we have about 5-10 minutes where I will introduce the use of technology with the staff, or we trouble shoot, or we share. Lucy has also used Todays Meet in our staff meetings to serve as a back chat as we were working on developing our school inquiry question.
This is just a snap shot of all the amazing things that are unfolding at Richard Bulpitt in just 4 short months!!!!
We leave you with this... Happy Holidays!