Time to Let Students Start Making…

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(Photo Credit: I took this picture with my iPhone during Sylvia Martinez’s Introduction Slide when she presented to my EC&I831 class.)

I had another great night of learning with Sylvia Martinez @smartinez along with my fellow #eci831 classmates on October 14th. We got to explore and learn about The Maker Movement. The quote that Sylvia shared written by Seymour really stood out in my mind. seymour papert (Photo Credit: I took this picture with my iPhone of another slide from Sylvia Martinez’s presentation when she presented to my EC&I831 class.)

I think so many times we as teachers sometimes do not provide enough opportunities for students to take leadership of their own learning and decide what they want to learn about. It made me reflect on the Early Learning Principles which I believe should be Principles of Learning. Check out an older blog post of mine that discusses the Early Learning Principles and my experiences.

While I was reading Adam Provost’s article many lines caught my eye especially when it was discussed that, “The best way to get into [the Maker Movement] is to model how we want our students to learn and build it up.”  He talked about a presenter named Jaymes Dec and how the presenter discusses that he is still learning too. I think it is important that we instill lifelong learning with our students no matter what age they are! I talk with my students about going to University, attending workshops, and the articles that I read. It is vital that students know that adults still are learning and discovering the world. Many times young children think that adults have all the answers. We do not have all the answers, but we can guide them in the right direction in how to find the answer. As discussed in one of our classes as a teacher if we use different strategies other than direct teaching we do not need to know all of the answers. The Maker Movement provides learners who are kinesthetic a chance to learn in a way that they can relate to and excel in. As Sylvia discussed in the beginning of her article, “Many teachers know that children learn best by doing.”  I agree with Sylvia and I can personally relate. I also find when I am able to complete hands on activities it also allows me to comprehend what I am learning about. It is important as a teacher to reach to all the different learners in the classroom and set up every child to succeed. Differentiation is important! Every child is an individual and we need to celebrate our differences because that is what makes us special.

Seeing all of the projects and ideas from Sylvia’s presentation such as using Lego and the 3D printer were very exciting. I first heard about 3D printing from “Grey’s Anatomy” as well Lisi @wlisi521. As Lisi mentions in her blog, “in the TV series, the doctors use 3D printer to make a heart for one patient with heart disease.” I never knew that some schools had 3D printers until this class. There are so many possibilities! I love how the Maker Movement allows students the chance to question and discover. While reading my fellow #eci831 classmates reflections and blog posts I learned so many great ideas. Jaylene @jaylenebrass1 discussed having a Maker Day and planning to complete the day along with the Global Cardboard Challenge. I never heard about the Cardboard Challenge until I read fellow students blogs and on Twitter. I think students participating in a Maker Day would allow students to develop their questions and problem solving skills while learning many more valuable skills. From reading Jaylene’s blog post I also learned about Zippity Zoom in Regina and that you can purchase many items that you can use for a Maker Day. I am excited to check out Zippity Zoom in the next time I am in the city.

If you want to learn more about making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom setting Sylvia has a book that she has written along with Gary Stager. I encourage you to check it out! I am looking forward to reading it and becoming more knowledgeable about the Maker Movement.  I am hoping to continue to learn more about Maker Movement and how I can implement it into my grade two classroom. If you have any recommendations of resources about Maker Movement or ideas that I can do with my grade two students please let me know!

A Great First Week…

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Photo Credit: “PictureYouth” via Compfight cc

I was very nervous to begin blogging with my class, but I was so happy with how our first week went. We are beginning to have some great discussions about their digital footprints and learning a few blogging terms. Each week my goal is to teach one lesson about digital citizenship to my class.

I was happy with the amount that we accomplished in our very first week of blogging. As I mentioned in my previous post “Exciting News About My Class Blog” my students worked on creating their about me page.  First they wrote in their journals and decided on what they were going to say for their about me page.  As a class we brainstormed and created some sentence starters to help them with writing their first ever post.  Then the next day I signed out the laptop cart and walked my students through what to do by demonstrating it on our Smartboard.  Since my students have logged onto other accounts before such as Mathletics it made that process a lot easier.  The hardest part was walking them through how to get onto their dashboard to add their first page.  Once they were able to type their post the process became a lot smoother.  I did not edit my student’s journals or their posts.  I want them to be able to see their progress and growth.  Below I typed out the post in brackets modelling the correct spelling and grammar.  Later on I am going to get my student’s to reflect on their posts and make goals in how they want to improve.

Finally last week we added two posts onto our classroom blog together. On our first post we welcomed everyone to our page.  My students were so excited to find their very first comment the next day.  Thanks to Kelly @kwhobbes for taking the time to go to our blog and type a comment to my class.  That is what makes having a public blog exciting.  It allows students to have a voice and for it to be heard.  I encourage you to check out Kelly’s personal blog and explore his great work!

While I was reading through the Edublog Blogging with Students resource I liked the suggestion of writing a post as a class and then have them add a comment onto the post. During the week we had two volunteer firefighters present to our class about fire safety.  We created a post as a class about the presentation then on Friday some of the students commented what they learned about from the fire fighters.  Instead of having everyone type their comments at the same time I had my students add their comments in during center time.  Today the rest of my students added their comment onto the blog.  I found it easier only having six students blog at the same time so I was able to get each student faster and help answer questions.  Once my students know how to navigate around the blog then it will make it easier to have them blog at the same time.

Goals for the week:

*Have my students create an avatar for their page. (We were not able to get to it this past week like I planned).

*Post my students art work that they created on Friday at the top of their learning page.

*Create a post or two as a class to add to our blog to show case our learning for the week.

*As a class check out one or two other class blogs to see what other students are learning about!

Check out how our classroom blog to see how it has developed over the past week. Please leave a comment! My students would love to hear from you!

Exciting News About My Classroom Blog…

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Photo Credit: timparkinson via Compfight cc

Today I received the last parent permission form!  All of my students have permission to take part in our classroom blog.  (Insert happy dance!!) I am thrilled that all my parents are onboard with having their child participate in blogging.  My grade two’s are so excited about blogging and learning more about it.

Today I put Ms. Cassidy’s blog on the Smartboard so we could explore what a classroom blog can look like.  We read some of the posts on their classroom blog page and then explored some of student’s learning pages.  As a class we also started to talk about what a digital footprint was and why it is important to have a positive digital footprint.  I am going to continue to teach lessons about creating a positive digital footprint because it is important for children to know that what they put on the internet stays on the internet.

Next I opened our classroom blog on the Smartboard and as a class we explored what pages I have added onto our blog so far.  My students are really excited to choose what colour their learning page is going to be.  After I turned my students attention to the about me section on their learning page.  As a class we brainstormed what they could say for the about me page.  I wrote their ideas on the Smartboard and we created some sentence starters to help them create their first post.  To make it easier for my students I had them write their ideas down in their journals.  Tomorrow I am going to have my student’s type out their entry onto their learning blog page. (I hope it goes smoothly tomorrow!)

This week I also want to:

*Have my students create art work for the top of their learning page pictures.

*Create an avatar for their page.

*Create a post or two as a class to add to our classroom blog page.

*Send out a letter to parents explaining a little bit more about our classroom blog and provide them with the link so they can check it out!

Have a look at our classroom blog and see how it evolves over the week!

Google Apps…

I've gone Google

Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström via Compfight cc

Wow! I felt very overwhelmed after Tuesday night’s class.  On October 7th we were lucky to have Michael Wacker talk to us about Google apps.  You can follow Michael on Twitter @mwacker.  This was the first time that I have ever explored and really heard about Google Apps before so it was a huge learning curve for me.  It is amazing to learn about all the different options in terms of technology that I can use as an educator.

Thank you to Barbara DeWitt for sharing with us the YouTube video Google Drive Tutorial Start on our Google EC&I 831 Communities page.  It was very helpful to watch because it allowed me to learn a little more about Google Drive.  I think it is very powerful that students can work on the same document online together at the same time.  During our class I liked that we were able to try using Google Docs and add our responses to the page.  I believe this tool would help students when they are creating projects together with fellow students in their class.  As a teacher I thought it was wonderful that you are able to see who is adding work and who making the changes to the file.  This allows me to see how each student is contributing to the assignment.  It is awesome that students can chat as well in the chat room while they are working on a project outside of school hours.

While I was reading my fellow classmates responses to our class I could relate to Jaylene’s blog.  I also found it interesting when we were participating on the shared document during our class on Tuesday night.  It is very powerful that everyone in the class can work on same document!  I found that as our class continued throughout the evening that the pace seemed like it was increasing, but I think I felt that way because the topic was so unknown to me.  I also enjoyed reading Jeremey Black’s blog post and how he uses Google docs in his classroom.  I encourage you to read his blog to see how he has been using the different tools.

I want to continue to find more articles and videos about Google Apps.  I am curious to explore if teachers have used the different Google Apps in the primary grades.  If I was teaching upper elementary students or older I can begin to picture how I could use it in the classroom, but I am struggling in wrapping my head around what it could look like in a primary classroom.  If you have any ideas in how I could use Google Apps in my grade two classroom please share! I would appreciate it a lot!

My Thoughts about Twitter…

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In August I was talking with another teacher about Twitter and she asked if I had a Twitter account. I told her that I did not and she commented that her children each had their own Twitter accounts, but she did not have one either.  At that time I was not sure about Twitter and I thought that I would never create a Twitter account. I did not understand what it meant to follow other people and since I already had Facebook I felt at that time that I did not need another Social Media account. I was also unsure about following people I did not know and having people follow me that I never met before. Then I got an email from my professor Alec and Katia about our Social Media class and that we needed to create a Twitter account if we did not have one already.   So I created a Twitter account for the first time ever in September when our first Social Media 831 class began on Tuesday, September 9th. Here just a few weeks before I told a fellow teacher that I was never going to get Twitter and then found out that I needed to create an account. I was beginning to wonder more about Twitter and how I would use it has an educator. There were so many things I did not know about Twitter and what Twitter has to offer.

For example I never knew about the different types of chats that can happen through Twitter. A fellow student in my Social Media class Kelly Christopherson (@kwhobbes) tweeted a lot about #saskedchat. On his Twitter feed he would retweet lots of people’s tweets that came from the chats on Thursday night. They really intrigued me and I wanted to check it out. This past Thursday at 8:00pm I joined in the #saskedchat on Twitter and the discussion focused on homework, redos, and feedback. Throughout the hour chat questions were asked around those topics for that evening. It was very interesting to read what fellow Saskatchewan teachers tweeted in the response to each of the questions. I am now following educators right from my own province that share similar ideas and other teachers who challenge my thinking. It is important to hear a variety of opinions and perspectives about the different topics. I encourage everyone to try to participate in a #saskedchat one Thursday evening when you are available!! I know I am going to try to participate in more chats on the nights that I am available.

On Thursday night I also participated in the #IRAchat at 6:00pm for the hour. I have my membership in the Saskatchewan Reading Council so I also get information about the International Reading Council. When I saw that the International Reading Council had a Twitter account (@IRAToday) I knew that I wanted to be one of their followers. I was very excited to see that the sisters Joan and Gail (@gailandjoan) were being guests on the #IRAchat for the evening so I decided to join in. The two sisters are the authors of the books The Daily Five and The Café Book. I am so glad that I was introduced to the Daily Five at the beginning of my teaching career. It has allowed me to teach my students independence and provided me with a structure in how I can set up my classroom. My students know why they need to practice their reading, writing, listening, etc. skills and what it should look like when they are working in each of the learning stations. In the afternoon for math and other subject areas I create charts with my students about what their role is as a student and what my role as a teacher is. In the #IRAchat the focus of the discussion was on student choice and independent learning. I enjoyed reading what other educators from not only in Canada, but in the United States believed in and what they were doing in their classrooms in terms of literacy and student independent learning. I was also fascinated in what Joan and Gail were tweeting. It was an amazing feeling that they retweeted some of the comments that I made to the questions that were asked in the chat. It proved to me that my voice does matter. That experience also made me reflect about our class when we were discussing blogging and the power of having your blog public. When other people comment on your blog or about your tweets it is a powerful feeling knowing that your voice is being heard by others. It can be a little scary at first because as people we are always worried about if other people with agree or disagree with you. But, I think most people are very professional and know how to state their opinion without being negative and putting the opinions of others down. The IRA is going to have another chat on November 13th and the chat will focus on literacy’s role in project-based learning. I highly recommend to check it out!

I have learned a lot about Twitter and I am beginning to feel more comfortable in posting Tweets. In the short time that I have had Twitter I have tweeted seventy-four times, I am following one hundred and eleven people, and sixty people are now following me. I am looking forward to continue to learn more about Twitter and finding out other ways it can help me as a teacher! I encourage everyone to find a chat on Twitter that will interest them and try it out at least once!!

 

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Approaching The Starting Line…

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Wow!! I can’t believe that it is already October! Now I have fifteen out of eighteen parent permission forms returned back to the school so my students can begin to take part in our classroom blog. I am so excited to finally start blogging with my class. We are approaching the starting line!!! It has taken me a little bit longer than what I would have liked to get started, but I like making sure I have a strong foundation before I start something with my students.

The Edublog student blogging series still has been a huge support for me as I have been continuing my student blogging journey. It has also allowed me to expand my knowledge about blogging and being able to use those skills when I write my blog posts using WordPress too. Look! I created a hyperlink and it worked! Yippy!!

This weekend and yesterday I worked on Step Two on the Edublog student blogging series:

* When I was first using WordPress for my personal blog I was very confused and did not truly understand what the differences were between pages and posts. I really appreciated the Edublog video that discussed how to understand pages versus posts.

*I created an about page for our class blog. I liked that the series gave examples of different about pages that other teachers have created using Edublog. I explored some of those pages to help give me an idea of what I wanted to say for our about page.

*Next I created a blogging guideline page. I only created the page and this week I am going to finish editing what my blogging guidelines are. Then I will add the guidelines to the page once it is completed.

*After I tackled adding a contact me page and inserted a contact form onto it. I really appreciated how the blogging series gave me step by step instructions and photographs in how to insert the contact form. I am a visual learner so it help me out a lot!

Yesterday I also worked on Step Eleven because I wanted to set up my student’s blogs:

*I followed the directions that were discussed on the step eleven page. When I was choosing my students usernames I got advice from another link that gave me some ideas of what to do.

*This week I am going to get my students to write their all about me introduction in their journals during writing time. After students will be able to type out their introduction onto their personal blog.

*I will get students to create art that they would like to use for their blog photograph.

*Finally I am going to get my students to create an avatar for their blog. I am thinking I am going to use doppelme.com  or http://avachara.com

Here is our link for Our 2S Classroom Blog! http://missstephanson.edublogs.org/ I still have a lot of work to do on our classroom blog in terms of appearance and organization this week! 🙂

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Reflecting On What I Learned About Student Blogging From Sue Waters…

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Wow! I really enjoyed class on Tuesday night listening to Sue Waters discuss student blogging during my Social Media class. It is amazing to have a speaker present to us all the way from Australia. The power of technology! It was interesting to find out that Edublogs was one of the largest provider of educational blogs. I also really enjoyed listening to Sue’s personal journey about blogging and how her journey led her to working for Edublogs.

I think Sue brought up some really good points about how writing is just one component of blogging. There are so many other ways for students to reflect and share their thoughts and feelings other than writing it down in a blog post. It is important as an educator to allow your students to use a wide range of tools when blogging. Blogging can help build a community and allow for reflection. Reflection is a critical part of the learning process and I believe in our everyday lives. When we reflect on our experiences we can learn about our strengths and what we need to continue to work on to grow as a learner.

I think the discussion regarding if a blog should be public or private raised a lot of good points. I think by making your blog public it allows for a lot of learning and excitement to occur with your students. But, it can be tough making the decision. I am right now leaning to have my class blog public as I am never going to post my students names anywhere on my classroom blog. I am also not going to post student’s names or photographs on their personal pages attached to our class blog. In the school I teach at many of the classes each have a class name/theme. In my class we are the 2S Secret Agent classroom. So each student will use their secret agent number to post their work under. I want other people to be able to comment on my students work other than just myself, fellow staff members, and my student’s families. I think it will lead to a lot of great discussions and learning if I allow our blog to be public. As discussed in our class the power of audience is key as blogging is “about social learning!”

I agree that blogging should not just be an add-on project. Teachers should be integrating blogging into their different curriculums. When I begin to blog with my students I am going to take little steps so I do not become overwhelmed. As discussed in our social media class as the teacher, I am going to write a comment or question on our class blog then my students can create their responses to my post and write their comments. After my students begin to understand more about blogging and become more comfortable they can start to create their posts on their individual pages. I am also going to teach my students about the blogging cycle: revise, evaluate, review and reflect.

During the presentation Sue walked us through the Edublog blogging series. The link is:  http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/blogging-with-students/ It is a fantastic resource and I have been using it already! I appreciate that you can ask questions right on the Edublog website page and your questions will be answered. Or you can even send Sue a tweet on twitter and ask her questions about blogging @suewaters. Wow! She is an amazing lady. I am looking forward to continue to work on my classroom blog as my digital project. I am very happy that I chose to use Edublog for my classroom blog. I like knowing that I have fellow classmates in my social media class that will give me advice about blogging through our different social network communities and that I am able to ask Sue questions through Twitter. Technology has opened up doors for me to meet other teachers who are passionate about teaching and has allowed me to collaborate with other amazing educators!

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