Poof Goes the Procrastination: The Prototype Project

As previously stated, I tend to procrastinate assignments. I don’t do this for lack of caring, or because I am lazy. I always seem to want to do too many things and overwhelm myself with ideas, resulting in shut-down-oh-god-which-idea-should-I-do mode. My partner, Elizabeth, seems to really have her s*** together too, which further led to my inner monologue, “holy crap I really need to decide on my project and get started.” I also seemed to really struggle with grasping what we were supposed to do in this assignment. So sorry Alec and Katia for continually bombarding you with questions and concerns about this project.

Image Retrieved from: IndianYouth.net

Image retrieved from: ProJourno

My project idea started to piece together a few weeks ago when I met with my old high school Social Studies teacher, Steve Variyan. I let him know about the project, what my goals were, and some brainstorming ideas I had. My goals for this project were to find a way to engage learners in economics–not an easy task– and relate it to current events.

Initially, I thought my project would focus more on current events than economic concepts. But as I worked on my prototype, I realized it was beginning to take on a different shape. Instead of making current events the main content, I introduce economic concepts in a strange (but hopefully engaging) video. I’m not going to lie; I’ve probably spent close to 30 hours on creating this video in the past week. Half of the video was created using VideoScribe, a program that allows you to make whiteboard videos. I also filmed part of the script to help break up the video; my students were life-savers, acting like crazy people on an island and helping me edit the final cut. Here is a quick look at what kind of video you can expect to see next week:

It’s my goal to get students to connect concepts in the video to Canada’s different economic models, specifically making connections to the Staples Paradigm. It’s difficult to create an online course, where people are going to provide feedback, when you’re not sure if they have knowledge on Canada’s history and economics. This is definitely something I have struggled with when creating my module. I am creating lessons for Unit 2, and usually I would have the ability to build up prior knowledge in the classroom.

Elizabeth and I both struggled to choose a platform, and it seems like we settled on pretty much all of them, hahaha. It was difficult to choose one after learning the benefits of different platforms and how assignments should play to the strength of the platform.  I think we have a nice balance of assessments that help foster digital skills. We both feel like using multiple platforms is possible with a level 30 course, as students usually have more experience using computers. Of course, I am speaking for my situation only, where students have access to Google Apps for Education and 1:1 Chromebooks. I have the ability to scaffold technology use from grade 10 to 12. I know this would not be the case in many school districts.

The main platform we are using is Google Classroom, and I have to agree with Andres when he argues this platform isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as it could be, nor does it allow you to have control over the way information is presented.

“Classroom was a little boring in the way it presents information and modules. There’s little room for customization and it doesn’t really allow you to get “Wild” with anything. I feel like you should be able to just drag things around and place them wherever you want…Google Classroom definitely doesn’t allow for any of that type of maneuverability, which in my opinion is a major flaw.”

Elizabeth and I decided to create two separate Google Classrooms because we ended up doing two different units. It would be really choppy to try and combine our courses, as well as difficult for the people providing feedback to experience what it would actually look like in the classroom.

I had a similar experience to Natalie when she says this assignment has ended up being extremely valuable to her as a teacher. Even though this was very time consuming, I know I will be able to use this in the classroom for many years to come! I forgot how much I loved creating and editing videos, so I’m hoping I can do more of it in the next few months/years!

Looking forward to getting feedback and seeing some other modules that were created!

  • Koskie Out!

 

Just Do It: Trying Out ALL the Platforms!

In a blog post a few weeks back, I talked about how I quit trying new things when it comes to blending my classroom. This semester, I decided to just do it: make all of my classes blended on different platforms and see how she goes. Which platforms do I like? Which do I hate? I’m thinking, after this semester, I will know the answers to these questions.

The first thing I thought of when deciding which platform to use was the content in the course. Is it a skills-based or content-based curriculum? How will I organize my documents/assignments? Do I care more about organization or interaction? Pretty much all of these courses are new to me this year, so I am still in the oh-God-what-should-I-teach-this-week mode. My course load this semester is Psychology 30, ELA B10 and 20, Social Studies 30, and Media Studies 20. I will go through my rationalization with platforms now:

Psychology 30 and ELA 20

Platform Used: Moodle and Google Classroom

Psychology 30 is more of a content-based course, with a lot of room for interactive assignments.  I’ve seen assignments from raps to puppet shows that demonstrate knowledge of content. However, I had to think of how to set up information in an organized and fluid way, since students need to retain a lot of information. Moodle offers an online ‘binder’, where I can organize content, embed YouTube videos, and provide a place to ask questions. I also wanted an easy way to collect and give immediate feedback on assignments, so I decided to create a Google Classroom and students hand in assignments on that platform rather than Moodle.

featured_organize_chaos

Image Retrieved From: Josh Pigford

Drawbacks of Moodle: 

  • It’s difficult to take in and mark assignments. You have to, like, download them to your computer and change the names and then email it and it’s the 21st century, man– get with it. I mean, come on! I have a social life you know…. (I don’t :'( )
  • It does not give teachers the opportunity to provide immediate feedback and check with student progress.
  • It doesn’t encourage interactive assignments. While you can make it interactive with help from Google Slides and other online tools, the platform itself doesn’t offer those options.

Would I use a mixture of Google Classroom and Moodle for Psychology 30? Yes.

Would I use a mixture of Google Classroom and Moodle for ELA 20? No. 

While Psychology 30 is based on retaining knowledge, ELA classes are skills-based — meaning students need to be able to accomplish x amount of things by the end of the semester, rather than know x amount of information. I am teaching two ELA classes (B10 and 20) and using separate platforms for each. I’ll explain my ELA B10 and then explain my rationale for why I think Google Classroom suites ELA more.

ELA B10 (and SOC 30)

Platform Used: Google Classroom

I have never used Google Classroom before, so I thought my ELA B10 (new course) would be a good opportunity to try a different platform. Google Classroom works really well for ELA because it’s less about organization and giving information and more about practicing skills, discussion, comprehension, and composing different texts.

While Psychology 30 has 6 different units (that need to go in order since they build upon each other), ELA has been renewed and only has 2 units. creative-staircase-designs-21-2Teachers are given a bit more opportunity to switch up thematic units and still reach curricular outcomes. In fact, I find using popular culture to teach ELA is extremely effective for learning new skills. I mean… come on, you can compare a popular culture icon to Lady Macbeth– BOOM– there is your compare/contrast essay.

Image Retrieved from: BoredPanda

Similarly, Social Studies 30 units do not build upon each other, so it gives me the opportunity to create a more “chaotic” online space that is less focused on organization and more on building knowledge/skills. Immediate feedback is important for both of these classes, so it’s nice I can see students’ progress on assignments and help them with problems before they complete an assignment. I also think the stream aspect of Google Classroom is modern and keeps the platform lookin’ fresh! Posting current events and having online discussions is really easy with Google Classroom and it’s nice to have an online space to discuss what’s going on in the world.

Drawbacks of Google Classroom

  • It definitely doesn’t provide the same kind of “online binder” experience that Moodle does. Moodle is more organized and provides teachers with more opportunities to alter the format (topics, units, weekly, etc.) based what makes the most sense for the course you are teaching.
  • I have had to really change the organization of my lessons to make Google Classroom fluid and intuitive for students. My assignments usually include a Table of Contents now, so I am not posting 100 million things on the Google Classroom stream.
  • I wish there was a way to “Make a Copy” for students when it’s not an assignment. Sometimes I just need to provide them with information/content, and it does not allow me to “Make a Copy for Each Student” unless it’s posted as an assignment.

Media Studies 20

Platform Used: Blogging!

Okay, I should probably preface this portion of my blog post by saying my favourite class to teach is Media Studies 20. I think this course offers so many amazing opportunities for students to explore their online identity and showcase their talents/passions. I was supposed to teach it last year and was pretty sad when I didn’t get the chance. I have a small class this semester, and so far we have done some introduction material to media awareness and started blogging. I post all of my assignments to my classroom blog, so it’s open to educators and students.

oficina-da-marca-7-things-to-do-after-writing-a-blog-post-01

Image retrieved from: NorthXEast

I’ll be honest, I thought teaching blogging to students would be a bit of a gong show. I wanted to use WordPress as a platform because 1) it’s the only one I have used and 2) students can really customize their own blogs so it shows off their personality. I like having the ability to change header images, create tag lines, and widget it up! My worries of teaching blogging quickly went away when my students explored WordPress on their own. I can safely say that some of my students knew more about WordPress than I did after about two days. Why? I think it was a mixture of excitement and exploration: It’s pretty damn cool to create an online identity that reflects your passions and thoughts. I also think students see the relevancy in creating a positive digital identity and what future opportunities it might bring.

Also, my media studies students follow this blog so SHOUT OUT TO THE MEDIA STUDIES CREW! What up, folks? Ya’ll rule!

I’ve put all of their blogs on this Google Doc. If any of you get the chance to check them out and comment, I’m sure they would appreciate it!

Downfalls to Blogging

  • If you have a lot of students, it’s difficult to find the time to navigate through everything. It’s definitely not as efficient for submitting assignments, but that’s why it works so well for classes that require more reflection and narration.
  • You have to ensure students won’t post inappropriate content. Additionally, some divisions may have strict rules/regulations for students creating blogs.
  • I think blogging lends itself to certain courses a lot more than others. I don’t think I could have students “buy in” to blogging the same way with my Social Studies 30 course.

If I can offer anyone some advice before deciding what platform to use, I would get them to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of summative and formative assessments do you use in your practice? Which platform encourages those assessments?
  • Is organization a priority? Do outcomes build upon each other, or are they separate skills/knowledge that do not require chronologic order for deep understanding?
  • How much of your class are going to blend? Will a large portion be teacher-led?
  • What kind of access to devices do your students have? Will it be easy to navigate these platforms from a student perspective? Teacher perspective?
  • Do I want my online platform to be a hub for discussion and conversation? Or will I primarily use it for distributing and gathering assignments (and focus on discussion in class)?
  • Does the course content lend itself to a specific platform? Can I use the platform as part of a curricular outcome? Ex. In Media Studies they need to create different kinds of media, so creating a blog actually hits an outcome.

 

  • Koskie Out!

 

Damn, Koskie! Back At It Again…..

Bonjour!

Now that I have exhausted my French vocabulary , I thought I would do an introduction post about myself. I recently started my second masters class at the University of Regina which focuses on Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology. I am learning from the great Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt once again.

I already wrote an introductory blog describing how I set up my 21st century classroom, so I would recommend reading it *cough blatant self promotion*. I deal with contemporary issues in educational technology all the time so I am pretty excited for this class. I’ll show you what I mean:

Chromebook that is unplugged despite the plug being right beside it

So, my students tend to find this difficult sometimes — notice how there is a Chromebook with a tiny hole in it. Well, the purpose of the cord hanging right beside it is to plug into the hole. I know, I know. Don’t look too shocked. It’s true.

This is a tiny example of a bigger problem: when introducing technology into the classroom on a daily basis, it is crucial to have consistent expectations.  I received funding for my classroom midway last year, so I had trouble implementing procedures right away since I was still learning everything myself. Chaos ensued. Technology requires people to adapt everything: their way of thinking, assessing meaningful engagement, and planning for new distractions.

Students being distracted by technology

Last semester, I got my students to do a Major Digital Project, which involved assessing and reflecting on a skill they wanted to learn. Many students engaged in the process at the beginning of the semester because they were excited about learning a new skill. Eventually, I found that students’ engagement in their skill decreased and, as a result, they did not put as much effort into progress posts. I plan on adjusting this assignment for next year so I don’t have the same problems arise. This brings me to my next point (really subtle segue going on right now) that technology requires us to fail.

A lot of things we implement with technology are not going to work. However, it is important to view failure as feedback, and adjust our instruction, assessment, and use of technology so it enhances learning. Yes, it’s time consuming. I am literally writing this blog post with one of my eyes closed right now because I am so tired. I am hoping this class will help me learn strategies to deal with some of the educational technology issues that many teachers face.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  • Koskie Out!

Getting “Caught Up” in the Chaos

So, my students are now in full swing with their Major Digital Projects. A few of my students wanted to change their skills and I kept telling them it was too late in the semester.

Mistake.

One of my students asked me why they could not change their skill since the rubric was  about assessing and reflecting and not about mastering a skill.  Good point. I guess I kind of got caught up in the assignment for this class and how we couldn’t change our skill. You know what I always say in English class? I don’t care about your opinion unless you can back it up with evidence. OK, I don’t think I come across that harsh (I probably do).

The student brought up a good point and used my rubric as evidence. English teacher win? I certainly don’t want students to struggle with an assignment that they will do throughout the entire semester.  I hear a collective sigh of relief from people who were dreading “faking” their progress reports. I had a total of four students change their skill so they were able to assess on something they were passionate about.

The progress reports I am getting have improved since I decided they were able to change their skill. I did let them know that it would be cool to see progress on a skill, which requires them to do it for a longer period of time. So far, I haven’t had a student switch their skill again.  Amazing how treating young people like adults leads to better classroom management. I guess it’s hard to break the habit of valuing process as much as product. After all, I am a byproduct of how I was taught and I am struggling to resist the temptation of the end product.

  • Koskie Out!

Hello, it’s about that time / that we start summarizing

WHO IS TIRED OF HEARING ADELE’S SONG “HELLO”?

I decided to write a song for my Summary of Learning because I thought it would be a challenge for me. It’s difficult to summarize knowledge from an entire semester and give an accurate idea of what was discussed (never mind doing that in a song). I definitely had some issues with fitting the words “misogynist” and “pedagogy” while keeping the same rhythm to the song. Here is the final product:

I struggled mainly with two things:

  1. Adele knows how to sing hard songs without making them sound difficult. This song is really soft in some parts and then really loud during the chorus. The microphone I was using wasn’t a big fan of this change of dynamic so I had to sit far away from the microphone.
20160412_165145

Take note of where the microphone is and where my face is.

2. Making a lyric video is not as easy as it looks. The first few attempts cut off important lyrics and/or the lyrics didn’t align with my song. It was frustrating. I’ll give you an idea of how I created the lyric video below.

In order to make the lyric video, I used a few different programs:

  • The first website I used was called LRC Generator. This website creates .lrc files with the lyrics to whatever song you choose. I always wondered how people would sync up words with music on karaoke videos and now I know. Family Christmas will never be the same again.
    • The process is rather tedious because you need to write lyrics line-by-line with ~ 3-5 words per line. Want a longer sentence on your lyric video? ABORT. The program I used to make my lyric video would cut off lines that were too long.
    • The generator I linked also allows you to download your lyrics as a .txt file, which you will also need to create a lyric video.
  • The second program I used was called YouTube Movie Maker. This program requires your .lrc and .txt file and generates the font and background of your video.  It’s a pretty simple program to use and this video tutorial shows you how create a final lyric video.

That’s it my lovely EC&I 831 people!

I had an absolutely blast learning from all of you.

  • Koskie Out!

Quieting that Inner Voice: Slacktivism DOES Promote Action

Sometimes I hate that inner voice. The inner voice that tells you “Ugh, instead of changing your Facebook picture to have a deep blue, red, and white flag filter could you actually take action to prevent terrorism?” or “can you please stop posting pictures of yourself ‘getting fit and happy?” I’ll be the first to admit I battle this voice all the time. Now, I stand back and think why am I having this reaction? Is it because I promote social justice on social media in a more meaningful way? No, I don’t think that’s it. Do I have a negative reaction to people becoming fit because I am currently balancing Cheetos on my stomach as I type this? OK, that one may be true.

We are born in a world where we feel the need to compete with each other. I’ve met a select few people who don’t seem to have this need, or maybe they can simply hide it better than most.  Part of the problem is that people internalize the dominant narrative in order to fit in.  An example of this happening is how women will call other women derogatory terms as much as men do. Unfortunately, what ends up getting lost is the message or issue we are trying to fight for.

The simple fact is that slacktivism does promote social agency. Who cares if you disagree with it? If it’s helping people spread awareness of a cause, it’s better than the alternative (balancing Cheetos and doing nothing else). Do I wish people would become more involved and take action? Yes, I do. I wish we all had time in our days to help the less fortunate and work towards a world where people can meet their basic needs with dignity.

tomeetbasicneeds1

For those of you who don’t know what slacktivism is:

“Slacktivism is actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g., signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.”

The Wikipedia article has a negative definition of slacktivism that emphasizes how it does nothing at all but make us feel better about ourselves: “It is the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism.” Woahh, calm down Wikipedia. I don’t speak for the entire population, but I certainly don’t feel like I’ve changed the world by sharing or tweeting a social justice issue. Scott Gilmore argues that slacktivism makes people less likely to donate to a cause because we get instant gratification from a “like” or “share.”  In fact, Gilmore goes as far as shaming people who engage in slacktivism while other researchers suggest that people are more likely to donate to a charity after they’ve signed an online petition.

Well, Mr. Gilmore and other slacktivist critics, here are a few things that slacktivism has helped spread awareness of and/or raise money for:

  • ALS Bucket Challenge (raised $115 million in six weeks w/ more searches for A.L.S in 2014 than in the entire previous decade)
  • #YesAllWomen – brought awareness to street harassment, and specifically bystander intervention
  • #NotYourMascot – addresses the “misappropriation of Indigenous identity, imagery, and culture.
  • #IdleNoMore – honouring Indigenous sovereignty and protecting land and water rights.

I’ve even included a few hashtags that are no longer widely used (and some would argue show how slacktivism is not effective). Here is the thing, though: These hashtags or “slacktivism campaigns” have led to some meaningful conversations in my classroom where students want to know why people are “sharing” or “liking” a cause/issue. Social media is especially important because it provides an opportunity or “buy in” to show students how historical issues are still relevant and have implications for today. It makes my social studies heart happy. Awareness is the predecessor to action; so, instead of wasting your time complaining about slacktivism, start having conversations around the issues that matter.

I don’t know about you, but I think we have bigger things to complain about.

  • Koskie Out

 

Digital Literacy Skills in da Formative Assessment House

Why didn’t I think of including 21st century digital literacy skills into my formative assessments? One of the most valuable things I have been talking about in my classes this semester is how we can focus our energy when surrounded by so much technology.

In a previous blog post, I discuss an epiphany I had related to educational technology.  To sum it up in one sentence: Technology and the ability to access information that is distracting is never going away. Students will always be able to ignore what they should be focusing on at school, work, or their home so there is no point complaining about it. It’s time we start teaching students how to focus their attention WITH technology rather than putting a band-aid on the problem and temporarily taking it away.

20160408_151424

Let’s be clear here, I am not perfect. I used to take away phones without a second thought. Now, I have started reminding them to focus their energy and explaining why it is important to do so. I’m not going to pretend like I still don’t take away phones sometimes. However, the amount of times I have to take phones away has decreased exponentially.  I keep reminding them that focusing their attention on what is important is a skill that many employers are looking for in the workforce.

recite-3qry6z

As a social studies teacher, I always try and make content engaging and relevant for my students. I never like to hear the question “why do I have to learn this?” However, I have neglected to explain the relevancy and purpose of learning specific skills– whether it be digital literacy, researching, citation, etc. I love making meaningful connections with literature and content, but I’m beginning to recognize that skills are being left behind.

I decided to include a row on my rubric that addresses 21st century digital literacy skills. For the first couple of weeks, I am going to give them reminders to focus their attention. I am hoping I will continue to see a decline of students using their technology inappropriately.

  • Koskie Out!