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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Can phenomenology be online?

The Lived Experience 

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Phenomenology is the idea of making meaning from your lived experiences (basically). During my master’s research I used this methodology to dig deeper into my understanding of what it meant to be an environmental educator. As a teacher, I believe in the idea of constructivism, and making meanings based on your previous experiences. So much of learning for me is experiential based, we learn by doing, and reflecting on our actions (either in groups or on our own).  With this idea of knowledge as being, I wonder a lot about gamification in the classroom.

What’s Real? 

My main questions when thinking about gamification or anything really online, is what is real? If we learn from our experiences, what is an “actual” experience. I think this video is pretty powerful, and I think it’s something we have to think about as educators, especially when we are moving beyond “connections”.  So as educators when we are thinking about gamification, we have to think about creating authentic gaming experiences.

Gaming versus Gamification 

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Frustrations first, earlier this year we had a math website rep come to our school and talk about how their website gamified education, we had a lms platform come in saying they gamified learning.  They did this through badges and scores.  It totally put me off.  Badges, scores, etc. don’t make a game.  A real purpose or challenge makes a game. Through this real purpose you can have opportunities to level up, or earn points but clicking a button to “practice” math skills is not a game. It’s clicking a button (that has no real learning value).

I struggle with gamification, because I don’t think I like the term.  Apple uses challenge based learning, PYP uses their performance task to illuminate their central idea, and using pedagogy like this to engage your class can create a game like atmosphere.  Setting challenges for students to complete before they meet the next challenge is more what I think of when I think of gamification.  
I loved the minecraft history project video. No where was the teacher trying to create a game like atmosphere. There was a question posed (create a sustainable city) and different ways to reach that goal. I personally have a hard time imaging someone doing a more in-depth job than the student who used Minecraft, but I’m not sure using Minecraft on it’s own would’ve gamified the situation. 
In the “Raising Engagement in e-learning through gamification” there is an emphasis on fast feedback that I believe is crucial.  In games you quickly get a sense if you’re winning and losing.  Using connectivism to interact with other people can help you correct your actions.  This formative assessment is crucial for engaged learners. 
One of the quotations from this week that resonated deeply with me was:

“It’s not about the technology; it is about new ways of thinking. The barriers are in our heads,” Harrison says. “Learning is not about content, it is about creation. Isn’t that our job: to help kids learn how to do things? Our job is to prepare children for the world that exists.” – Nick Morrison
We need to change how we think about learning, not just gamify something. We need to encourage students to create and engage in their learning, not just consume by clicking buttons.  A program or an app can’t do this. Teachers need to do this, and I think creating authentic learning experiences (online or otherwise) is the most difficult part: however, it’s likely the most important part. 

Integrating to enhance

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I think we read the old things in old ways article in Course 1.  This article resonated with me (and my frustrations as an EdTech Coach) because often we find something that works, and we just stick with it. A colleague sent me this image and I think it resonates with how I feel at times.

This blog is actually really interesting.  Too often we feel like we are too busy to “add on” new ideas and as a result we keep doing the same thing poorly. We can then switch to new things in old ways, and both the coach and the teacher still feel the frustration.

I really like this quotation from edutopia:

Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. link

We need to integrate to enhance learning (and independence), not integrate for the sake of integration.  To do this, I do believe we need a framework (like most things without a framework we lack direction or purpose which makes it difficult to do anything).

I do like SAMR, and have taken a course with Punya Mishra on TPACK in Singapore last year. I like the openness of TPACK and the linear structure of SAMR, I find SAMR much easier to explain to teachers because of ladder images or linear images.

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I’m no longer teaching, so I can’t comment on my integration in the classroom all the time. But I do use the idea of enhancing education as the backbone of my work.  We use all kinds of technology (like wood and nails, to ipads and phones, to paper and pencil) and I work with teachers at making sure the learning is at the centre of what we do.