Final Project for Coetail

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Wow, this project took a lot of turns, but I feel it’s much better now than when I envisioned it many months ago.

This was my original UbD.

We started off on high notes, all the grade 3 classes started by taking pictures and then blogging about their favourite spots at school, almost all of the students finished and almost all of the students shared with at least one person. So It was somewhat successful as a start.

Most students took a picture of their spot, and thought about it.  Most were of staircases, some were of the lunch area, a couple were of the soccer field.  They then described it with the potential audience of someone who is coming to the school. They used their blogs to write an entry.

Almost all of the students ended with the task, two students (who I was working with a little earlier) picked an outdoor spot and created a stop motion video (which will be in my video).  They then recorded some of the feelings over the images.

One of the students had a spot with a tree, and that tree died.  Just this week we planted a tree in that same spot.  His talking about his spot to his community really made a change in how people viewed their space.

Next time, I would want to have more time with the students.  I only had them once a week, which isn’t a whole lot of time to dig deep into places and feelings.  We needed to spend more time on creating a more meaningful platform I think, and developing connections with other places.

I want this to be a more meaningful exercise on developing sense of place, so next time I would work with that as well. I want students to develop emotional connections to people and places. By developing our stories, we can work on this connection. Next time I would try to use more video (stop motion) and blend in more images than just the one.

All in all I enjoyed the whole Coetail experience.  It’s been great building the standards into our shared units, and building more meaningful digital citizenship lessons into my co-teaching experiences. I’m going to continue to develop connections, I firmly believe in connectivism and will help my students find people they want to learn from as well.

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For +COETAIL most of my community involvement has been focused on #enviroed.  Since I’m merging the tech and environment.  We talk every Thursday, which is pretty amazing, well Thursday for me Wednesday night for everyone else.  Here is one of my favourite chats , mainly because it focuses specifically on tech and 21st century skills in environmental education.

As a group we explore what each other are doing, ask each other questions to get specifics, I’ve worked with two other teachers on their specific research project, and have asked a couple of teachers to work with me on my coetail project. 

I’ve been trying to merge these two for awhile

+Nicki Hambleton has helped me out a ton too. We talk often in person. We bounce ideas off each other with pizza and wine (even if we shouldn’t always be eating it).  It’s great for us (well me definitely) to be able to see reactions and just check in on and get checked in on.  This personally has been one of the most valuable tools for me, not that Nicki is a tool.  But she has directed me towards other people like Kerri-Lee and Dave, and has directed me towards Cognitive Coaching where I met up with other coetailers as well.  

Mostly I feel like I’ve moved beyond just messing around, I’ve built part of my community (especially with #enviroed).  Connectivism is a real thing in my life.  I’m building on my connections, sand still reaching out for others.  
It’s been a great journey so far, and I’m looking forward to even more in the last month.

Always Learning

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Reading George Couros‘ blog today about being Learning Savvy. In it he was talking about being tech savvy, and how he isn’t always comfortable with the term.

As an EdTech coach, people definitely see me as someone who has technology skills (even though I don’t necessarily see myself that way). Like George, I want to be more learning savvy.

Part of my action towards this is working on the Cognitive coaching workshops.  I want to be more focused on how we approach learning, with a tech and environmental ed perspective, but the goal is the same, what is best for students’ learning.

Through my project on community, we have just finished our stories, and some of our blog entries.  We’ve talked about our favourite places and people in hopes that we can connect with incoming students, to make their transitions a little easier. It’s not really about the tools we used, it’s about what we learned about ourselves, our favourite spots, and how we can improve our community.

Thinking about it

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For +COETAIL I am well into the process of collecting evidence and working with students to share spaces.  I’m not sure how successful it will be but the process is enlightening for sure.

With students these past two weeks (the ones who aren’t working on my Coetail project) we are exploring digital citizenship, with the idea that it can shape the future of who we are. 
Spencer Harrison and I used to work together, at the time I wasn’t as aware of the idea of personal brand.  I was very conscious of displaying the image I wanted to show with the intention of challenge other people’s viewpoints. Spencer was one of the first people to tell me, my image or brand could be shaped without shaping me. 
What this means for digital citizenship is that we aren’t always who we appear to be online.  We all need to understand that a google search or looking at someone’s facebook, linkedin profile or whatever is not who that person really is.  We can create our identity. 
Since we are creating our identity, we should make sure it’s the best version of ourselves, and then try to live up to it. Our digital citizenship classes go into who do we want to be (as in what kind of person) and then how do we take action to be recognised as that type of person, what do they do. 
The last two weeks have been pretty interesting to see what versions of themselves each students wants to present.  They are thinking about their future, about who they want to be online, and how they can achieve this reality. 

Starting the project

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We’ve started trying to make connections regarding our places in school.  I’m planning on working with students to make meaningful connections.  If you want to know more check out this post for my UbD.

The first thing we did was sit in a circle and talked about what it felt like to move from place to place. We all felt an anxiety about moving, when we dug a little deeper we discovered that this anxiety might be a result of not knowing the place or the people. 
As a group we decided to write blog posts about our favourite place (and soon favourite people) in the school in order to alleviate some of the anxiety potential migrants to our school might feel. 
The students are keen to share what they know about the school, and since it’s not content driven most students feel like they know their place, so everyone wants to participate. 
The project isn’t fully what I wanted, but it is student driven which is important.  I was hoping for more of a shared project, but maybe it will morph into that.  
I’m also slightly disappointed that more students didn’t choose an outside place as their favourite spot, but, it’s interesting to see why they chose different places. 

Listening to collaborate

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We’ve started our project about connecting students, seems okay so far, but we noticed something, we rarely listen.  Before we went online, we started sharing our migration stories, what that meant to us, but no one really listened to the other stories.

One of the worries teachers have about incorporating technology (and one of mine as well) is how much it speeds things up.  We need to slow down in elementary, and really think about why and how we interact with each other.  
It got our whole class thinking about what does it mean to listen.  We threw words around like “focus”, “pay attention”, “look at the person”, and other kinds of things.  We couldn’t really define what those things looked like though.  After some discussions and some personal blogging about listening some of the students had some great ideas.  One student though about using only one or two tabs, that would keep her focused on the task at hand.  One other student talked about the importance of finishing her work, and waiting until we finished.  
We transferred these ideas over to “real” life.  By keeping only one tab open, we’re only thinking about one thing (the conversation).  By finishing your work before moving on, we’re going to wait until the person is finished before we think about responding.  Some abstract ideas for sure, but we’re focusing on listening first. 
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks. For research we’re learning to skim and scan, there are more opportunities to look at how to finish more books rather than re-read or read deeply. So much of what we’re doing is encouraging students to speed up, then we get frustrated when they don’t stop and listen to us.  I really think we need to slow down.  

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Modelling this is going to be important for sure.  How do we listen to our students, what does it mean to be a teacher, especially in a connectivist world?  Lots of wonderings this week as we move forward. 
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Final Project – Making Connections

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I really want students to start thinking about how to make positive connections online, and then transfer those feelings into the “real” world.  I think that if we start fostering a connection before students transition into a new school we can make friendships more meaningful before students come.  We can also make deeper connections to other schools who may not be ever coming to see us.

I’m going to start this project in the new year with the grade 3 class studying migration ( I just checked my first UbD for Coetail and it was also about migration, funny huh?).

The important bit for me is making the emotional connection, the product and most of the process will be student led (I hope) because we are working on empathy and connectivism.

Here’s hoping anyway, let me know if you have any ideas.

Problems could be real inquiry

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I think problem based learning is pretty critical for our developing of thinking skills.  We need to start seeing problems without the need for immediate solutions, we need to work with teachers to help students understand it’s okay not to know “the” answer.

Often I work with open-ended problem based questions and at the beginning of the year, many students have a difficult time.  They want to know the answer, but in my world there is rarely an answer. 
Using technology seems like an easy way to explore possible solutions to problem based curriculum and as a way to connect. 
This is where my mind has been going, as we’re getting ready for course five, connecting, the world, and action. 
I’m wondering how I can pose a problem to my students, and get them to work on finding a solution. 
I think… right now anyway, I’m going to ask them to come up with a solution to my problem.  How can we create a relationship with a community we don’t “know”.  Working with some colleagues in Ontario, I hope our class can create an opportunity to interact with, and create an emotional connection with a “community” there. 
I think it’s a “problem”  because I don’t know how to do it, so there is no easy solution.  I just hope we can all be motivated to make it happen.  
This post is a little scattered, but hopefully by our blog next week with the ubd will be sorted. 


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In George Couros’s quick blog about what learning is, he talks about the importance of connectivism.  The whole purpose and idea surrounding education now (or so it seems) is that we can connect to other people, and grow together. Like Louise I’ve always considered myself a co-constructivist, and I think that these two theories blend together quite well.  We co-create our knowledge, it is no longer limited to within classroom walls, or at a specific time.  Learning is everywhere, all the time.

I think though, that at times, we forget to make those emotional connections to people, places and things.  It’s easy to connect and still consume things from others (like we do online most of the time), it’s easy to connect and learn on the surface.  But I think for those deep learning opportunities we have to connect emotionally.  It’s possible, but not easy. 
In the video about the University of the People we learn about people who have made emotional connections to subjects, and others and how they want to move forward to create a better world.  Daniel Pink talks about how intrinsic motivation works more effectively than any kind of external reward (and as teachers don’t we know this already), so we need to make those connections to our work place, and students in order to truly and transformatively change something. 
So this has been my goal this week, with students as well as myself.  Make emotional connections, to things, people, places, I can do this online (and have been with my parents and friends this week), but also take time to do it in the “real” world too.  If connectivism shows the power behind the connections in our learning, then we have to make them meaningful.

I think that slow education can be powerful for this, even if we are online we can have meaningful interactions, we just have to focus on our connections.  Going slow, even online, to make those connections meaningful and emotional can make for powerful learning (I think).