Tag Archives: Learning in the 21st C.

iT Summit Conference Voice Thread


I decided to try something new and reflect on my experience at the iT Summit Conference via a Voicethread.  For some reason I can not get it to embed into my blog post, but please click here to listen to what I learned about E-merging Learning.

E-merging Learning Day One

I have to admit that I was pretty tired after learning all that I did today at the IT-Summit Conference, but my brain was quite content after feeding on the knowledge about literacies, SMART technologies, open networking, and how schools are in a serious need for a change. Here are some of the key points and my learning from a few of the sessions that I attended today.

Reading Across a Dozen Literacies – Jamie Mckenzie

– When talking about literacy in class, find common words and categories to allow interconnection to take place             – Education focuses only enhancing reading and mathematical numeracy; this is not the best thing because students should be good at all literacies
– Students need to embrace complexity; our job as a teacher is to take simple minds and have them question complex issues
– Good ideas form over weeks and thoughts need to be shaken off balance in order for a good idea to be thought of  -Researching should be more than just scooping and smooshing
– Research should involve one’s own ideas – comprehending > considering > wandering > wondering > pondering (all interchangeable)
-Visual Thesaurus (www.visualthesaurus.com) is a great visual diagram of one’s wandering thoughts
-People have lost their ability of natural and environmental literacy/the ability to ‘read’ signs in nature and the environment
– Because of this, people today grab onto complex scientific situations and make simple decisions
Explore possibilities – be open-minded

Integrating SMARTboards Into What You Are Already Doing – Melissa Gavel

– When working with technology, expect the unexpected and plan accordingly
– A board is just a tool – use other tools also i.e.) SMART Senteo, digital cameras, laptops, projectors, etc.
– You need your own board in your own classroom to fully embrace the interactive experiences available; does not work best if students have to go to another room to use it or if it is transportable
– Senteo Clicker: gives students who don’t volunteer answers a voice; all can answer anonymously and not have to raise their hands; give the same clicker to a student every time and the clicker will save the information/data
– Senteo Clickers involve many forms of answers: multiple choice, true/false, yes/no
– Smarttech.com has slides/lessons/etc available for you to use
– Include as many students up at the board as possible and have the rest of the students working on the same sheet at their desks
– Discussion at the board = power of collaborative learning; can see lots of light bulbs going off
– Students never get bored of the board; it seems like a fun game in their eyes even after years of using it

Be Kind Rewind – Clarence Fischer

– Society is changing so how can classrooms/education change to keep up with it?
– Are kids different today?
– It is your role as an educator to find out what is interesting to your students and incorporate that into your lessons/classroom
– Students know all about having access to the world because of society; therefore, why take that away from then when in the classroom
– 20% of Canadians are on Facebook
– 85% of people born after 1980 are on a social networking site of some sort
– Classrooms can be a snooze to some kids because they are used to getting a lot of stuff from lots of places at different times of the day – realize this and make adaptations!
– We have kids ‘power down’ in class when they are not really used to this
– Allow electronic devices (laptops, ipods, etc) in your classroom to promote open mindedness and save your school division a pile of money
– Digital Native vs Digital Immigrant does not always mean young people vs old people – can be vice versa
– Tools don’t really costs anything anymore; software is free online
– Facebook and blogging will probably be dead and done in less than 5 years due to the constant change in societies

So now what? How do we support the chance of society in our classrooms?
1. Classrooms should be considered studios – kids work when its best for them, expanded time and space, lots going on at the same time
2. Teacher = Network Administrator – connect students with knowledge and help them navigate through to the information you know they need

– School = preparation for life, but what if school = life?
– Networks = Power = Schools=Community=GLOBAL
– Audiences drive but communities drop in – Collaboration with others provides motivation for students to find their voice
– We want kids learning together and thinking together long term
– Students need choices to show what they know; use a variety of tools and students will learn what they are good at – Students need to see rules out front in order to successfully meet the goals and objectives
– We are responsible to teach kids in a way that is meaningful to them
– Be aware and make choices for the benefits of your classroom – change needs to happen slowly but fast enough to make it happen
– Technology will not transform your classroom but will make it more authentic and engaging – more opportunities to reach more students and for them to make connections

I was not exaggerating when I said my brain was full – I learned SO MUCH today! I cannot help but look forward to all of my learning in tomorrow’s sessions!

The evolution of the web on the mobile medium is completely inevitable… I’m looking to Generation Y. They’re the mobile generation and they’re going to be the guardians of the web in the coming decades.  -James Pearce

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling = telling a story using tools on your computer.

What is a “story” here consists of more than one type of media (images + text, audio + images, etc) that are assembled on the web, and can be presented on the web or embedded into other web sites.

A story does not always to be read from a book or told orally from an Elder. It can be told digitally as well.  Web 2.0 has over 50 tools you can use to do this, such as Bubble Share or Voice Thread.   CogDogRoo has a great site explaining all the different tools you can use with your students.

There are 3 basic steps to creating a digital story.  First, students need to create an outline for their story.  The most difficult part of digital storytelling is choosing a story to make an outline for.  Students sometimes struggle with finding an idea on their own and make the concept a lot harder than it actually is.  Personally, I like to give students some ‘suggestions’ in which they can choose from or allow them to choose their own.  Of course, I like to approve their idea before they can start with their outline in order to make sure that the concept is appropriate for the given assignment.

Next, students are to find some media to match their story.  This can also be tricky considering the media used in the digital story have to be copyright free; you need permission to re-use someone else’s media in your story.  This media can be in audio, video, or image form.  Click here for a list of websites where you can find copyright free media for your classroom.

Thirdly, choose a tool to build your story.  This tool is what will help you make your story come alive for its viewers.  This tool will not be as effective for you if you have not completed step one and two first! Using these storytelling tools is a neat new way to for the audience to connect with the author and the characters in the story.  Students may feel more comfortable when telling their story as well because: a) the story is their own and b) they are telling it to a computer which may be a lot less intimidating than their classmates.

“Web 2.0 storytelling picks up these new types of stories and runs with them, accelerating the pace of creation and participation while revealing new directions for narratives to flow.”

As an educator, there are many purposes of using digital story telling in the classroom.  Not only are the students learning about how to write a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but are learning how to express themselves and find their voice in a secure setting.  If they make a mistake when reading and recording their audio it is as simple as going back and re-recording the sentence.  Mistakes are easily fixed the finished product is done in the best they can be done.  These story telling tools can be used for students of all ages as well, but if using them in the younger grades the teacher will need to help out to receive the product he/she is looking for.

What are some other strengths to digital story telling?  Any weaknesses?

Making Learning Fun

As I went to be after class last night, I couldn’t help but wonder why a lot of teachers do not use the technology that is available to them.  The opportunities are fantastic and will definitely increase learning in the classroom.  All of a sudden ‘find North America’ on a world map becomes a lot more fun because you are using Google Maps and are finding it with the click of a mouse.  I would love to see a lot more teachers be open minded about technology and bring their school into the 21st Century.  Be open minded, be creative, be teachable! Learn, learn, and learn some more.  Learning should never stop.

When using technology, educators have to realize that it takes more than just one attempt to learn how to use whatever resource you are using, such as Google Apps, iMovie, wikispaces, and blogs.  It is a new language and culture that you have to learn; you can’t just read the manual and understand.

I was blog surfing this morning and came across some interesting points.  One point was made in a post by Lisa Thumann about a middle school language arts teacher who was really questioning how using technology would benefit her students.  This teacher was against using technology to assist her students in finding their voice and becoming better writers because “when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.”

Yes this may be true, but not all students learn the same as they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  In fact, not all students learn the same way as they learned yesterday.  It is a new world out there and teachers need to recognize that students are not the same as they used to be.  They are unique individuals born in a completely different generation than they were.  They learn by multimedia, visuals, experiential learning, by sharing their ideas with the world by posting on a classroom blog.  And students don’t have to just share their ideas by writing essays or descriptive paragraphs either.  They can use voice thread projects, podcasts, or recorded videos of themselves sharing their thoughts.  The Lipsky team does a nice job of this on their class blog.  Not only will these students feel that their response is valued, but will feel excited because their friends made through the collaboration of their teachers, who live across the world will be able to listen.  Mom and dad can listen at home too and be proud of their child’s work.

Students can really find their voice when using a classroom blog to express their thoughts.  Teachers can post creative writing suggestions or questions for their students to answer too.  I would have loved this when I was a student.  Not only would I get to use the computer, but I would be more willing to share my thoughts since I knew that people would be reading it.  One teacher posted the question “What do teachers need to know?” for her students to respond back with some advice for teachers about what would help them learn.   Students post their thoughts, teacher reads and is able to her what her student’s like and what they don’t like and is able to take those thoughts into consideration and make adaptations in his/her lessons.  This way, the teacher is meeting the needs of his/her learners and the students are feeling respected and are given the opportunity to enhance their learning.

I found some of the responses to that post made by the students very interesting.  It was repeatedly said that  school needed to be more ‘fun’ to help them learn.  And it was also said that they wanted less homework.  So learning needs to be more fun and there needs to be less homework (hmm sounds like the same thoughts I have about many of my university classes hehe).  So lets use technology to spruce up the lessons; lets research on Google what it was like to live the life of a SK pioneer and record our information in the form of an interview.  Then lets record our interviews by using Garage Band and turn it into a pod cast and post it on our class blog.  Then for homework, we are to listen to some of our peer’s interviews and comment about their final product (peer assessment?).  But this homework doesn’t really feel like homework because it is kind of like watching our friend’s videos or looking at their pictures on Facebook and that is pretty cool . How much more fun could a research project be?

So lets allow students to have the opportunity to break down the walls that are holding them back from learning in the new ways that the 21st Century is bringing.  Let us teachers hop on board and begin the journey with our students so that everyone can learn in a way that is best suited for them.  Be open minded, be creative, be teachable.