Post-Prototype Project: Final Thoughts

Well, the course prototype is finished for Social Studies 30… or is it? I don’t know about Elizabeth, but I am more determined to adapt this curriculum to an online collaborative space. This project was very difficult for me. I was overwhelmed with what content I should cover. As Elizabeth mentions in her blog post this week:

we have a very large course prototype for a very heavy 30-level, 300+ page, 200+ objective curriculum – daunting to say to least.

I’m not really sure how to say this in a nice way, so I’m just gonna say it: this curriculum kind of sucks. There are wayyyyy too many objectives to cover, and it’s easy to get lost in the document; sorting out what objectives are necessary for students is something I am still struggling with, as it’s my first time teaching the course. As a result, our feedback on the course was that we had a lot of information and it was heavy. We agree! I think it’s a result of our inexperience with the document, as well as the nature of Social Studies itself.

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Image Retrieved from: Giphy.com

If the curriculum wasn’t heavy enough, Elizabeth and I also struggled to grasp this assignment. We constantly asked Alec and Katia questions after class, and they demonstrated their almost non-human level of empathy and compassion when trying to clarify what we were doing. Thank you, lovely humans, for all of your help.

In order to alleviate the content-heavy curriculum, I focused mostly on creating an engaging artefact. This video took me longer than I thought it would to create, but I think it makes learning economics interesting and engaging. It’s something I can use for future teaching years.   Also, shout out to the number of students who helped me– from filming to editing, they are the best!

I’d like to thank everyone who gave us feedback! It’s always nice to hear peers’ opinions and improve our practice. Our Course Profile goes over common concerns and considerations when blending a classroom, so take a look at what our vision was before creating modules! This next portion was written by Elizabeth and me in response to the feedback we received, and yes we did write it in 3rd person. Yes, Katherine and Elizabeth thought it was super weird to write that way.

  • The link to Tubaland (artefact) didn’t work – We tested each other’s links to ensure they were working before sending them to people for feedback, and they did! However, we did not realize people without a @education.uregina email would not be able to view the Google Form. We have changed the link so that anyone can now view it. Thanks!
  • Teacher-student and student-student interaction in Google Classroom – We did not intend for Google Classroom to be the hub of discussion. Each student would have a blog where they would respond to various prompts throughout the semester. On Katherine’s Unit 2 module, she includes a blogging post about Canada’s staples, which requires students to interact, learn from each other, and provide each other with feedback. We wanted to use the various strengths of different platforms: Google Classroom is wonderful for providing immediate feedback and organizing assignments; WordPress blogs create opportunities for students to collaborate and discuss things in an online setting. We found that discussions on Google Classroom are not fluid and students can have very limited engaging conversations, so we used more than one platform for our course.
  • Long paragraphs – Our course profile did have very long paragraphs which can be daunting to read, and we were worried of this when elaborating our profile. We received different feedback in regards to our long paragraphs; some reviewers
    appreciated the information provided, while others found it intimidating. We believe, in the end, this does come down to different learning style and different teaching
    styles, as we explored even in thiscourse. Some appreciate longer

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    Image retrieved from: Sirseth.net

    paragraphs, while others prefer short bullet points. This is something we look forward to exploring further in the future and trying to manage to attain a balance that would fit most learning and teaching styles. Even during the elaboration of this course profile, Katherine and Elizabeth had differing points of view and different teaching styles. Elizabeth prefers longer paragraphs, while Katherine prefers concise bullet points.  

 

 

  • Confusing order of assignments – We acknowledge that there are confusing elements of this course. We believe this is because people providing us feedback only view the online aspect of the course and miss out on information we would provide face-to-face (or over Zoom). We struggled throughout the elaboration of the course prototype ourselves with the idea of a blended environment – we questioned how much information would be shared in person/over zoom and how much needed to be shared online. This is evidently a great learning process and something that we will review in the development of our next prototypes.

 

  • Sorting assignments in topics – This is a fantastic suggestion; Elizabeth had no idea this was even possible on Google Classroom! Definitely something that we would add next time to our course to help organize our assignments.

 

  • Heavy prototype – We acknowledge we both had heavy prototypes. This was due
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    to the fact the Social Studies 30 curriculum is very heavy (330 pages of heavy).  There are over 200 objectives that teachers are supposed to cover in this curriculum. As a result, we decided to create engaging and interactive artefacts. It’s a difficult feat to make economics and confederation exciting, so we really focused on making the content suitable to our grade 12 audience (puns, technology-use). This curriculum is purely content-driven (other than creating a dialectic essay) and, as a result, can seem daunting.

  • Additional step-by-step assignment guide for students – We had written up a step-by-step guide for our reviewers to follow along our prototype because we knew it was heavy and at times confusing. It was suggested that we do this for the students as well. This is a great suggestion and one that we will add to our next course prototype. At first, we didn’t feel it was necessary because of the blended aspect of the course, but it never hurts to add a written dimension to the verbal instructions given in class (particularly because of the different learners that exist!). 

Koskie Out!

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!

 

Breaking Out of the Pedagogical Prison

Okay, the readings this week made me think about my teaching practices for the past two years and question everything. Anyone else? Let me explain: Audrey Watters discusses how technology does not automatically enable new practices for teachers when they use a Learning Management System:

“technologies [can] mean new practices, new affordances … but the history of technology suggests otherwise. We often find ourselves adopting new tools that simply perform old tasks a wee bit better, a wee bit faster.”

I absolutely agree with this, and I am also excited to incorporate the word “wee” into my everyday vocabulary. Thanks, Audrey. I took a few days to look into my old LMS classes on Moodle, and I found that I was guilty of simply transferring text-based assignments to a semi-private online space. In fact, I think I am more guilty of it in my third year of teaching than my first year. It seems strange that my teaching practice would seem to go from forward-thinking to more backward-thinking. So, over the past few days, I’ve thought about why I’ve made this, seemingly strange, shift.

Image retrieved from: The Emotion Machine

Image retrieved from: The Emotion Machine

My students have more access to technology and devices than they did in my first year; so, we can cross that one off the list for reasons I have stopped expanding my teaching practice.

Part of the reason I have started resorting back to “old school” teaching methods is because I am teaching so many new courses; I’m just beginning to feel comfortable with curricula and gather resources so I have a basic flow to my units. In some ways, I feel like I am at a point where I don’t have enough time to completely innovate my online spaces. I’d love to create videos, give students opportunities for inquiry-based learning, and allow them to create an online digital identity, but I’m just not quite there yet. Sometimes as teachers we need to prioritize and, unfortunately, my pedagogical practices have suffered a bit from this process.

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That being said, when I say I’ve started resorting to “old school” teaching methods, it seems a tad over-exaggerated. I don’t have a problem giving up the power of my classroom and having a student-led room; some of the best learning, for both students and myself, takes place when I allow the students to take control of their learning. If I look at the SAMR model, many of my previous classes were at the Augmentation stage, with a few examples of Modification and Redefinition. I am hoping as I feel more comfortable with content, I can make my class more transformative.

I also struggle with having a completely open-sourced learning environment because it’s difficult to post resources students need. We are still living in the Pearson prison, where content is locked and purchasing power dictates what information is “valuable” to students. If I am going to creImage result for barcode prisonate an environment beyond the LMS, I want to be sure students can access everything they need to support their learning. I had a lot of trouble creating an open-web space when my ELA 30 classes had to write departmental exams, dictating what, mostly copyrighted, texts they could and could not use.

Image Retrieved from: AFSC ……………………

 

Get to the point, Kathy.

What platform am I going to use for my blended classroom? Well, the answer is a mixture of a WordPress blog (www.mskoskie.ca) and Google Classroom. I’ll try and be concise as I go through my rationale for choosing these platforms:

  1. Lifelong Learning. I already know how to manage and administer a Moodle class. I think it’s time I challenge myself on a different platform.
  2. Permanent Online Teaching Space. I am taking control of my online teaching identity by having my own (Canadian, eh?) domain (mskoskie.ca). Google Classroom is still semi-private, and I would need to recreate my class every year if I solely used it as my blended space. By having a WordPress blog, I am helping develop my online teaching identity.
  3. Creating a Fluid and Intuitive Space. After blending many of my classes, one of the most important things I have learned is to ensure the space is intuitive for students. I want to make sure they know the expectations for the blended space, and it is easy to navigate and submit material.
  4. Accessing Content. I want both students and educators to have access to content and assignments. There is virtually no resources out there for Saskatchewan Social Studies teachers. By continuing to use a semi-private space (LMS), I am contributing to that problem.
  5. The devices and access my students have. Each of my students has a Google account, access to GAFE, and 1-1 Chromebooks. They will permanently have access to the content they create since they can keep their student accounts once they become adults.

 

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.

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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

 

Somewhere Out There – No Seriously, There Is Someone There

I want to talk a little bit about connectivism and how putting it into practice has greatly benefited me as a teacher. George Siemens narrows connectivism down to a few principles, one of which put into words the value of connectivism to my teaching practice: “Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.”
You can think about that on a family level, school level, community level, or global level.  It will always hold true. Connectivism has done a few things for me in my first two years of teaching practice. I am constantly seeing and speaking to people who pursue their passions and try innovative things in the classroom. I can gain so much knowledge in the profession of teaching through connectivism.

About a month ago, I tweeted Bill Waiser, who wrote a nonfiction, in the ELA A30 curriculum, called Who Killed Jackie Bates? My students went through a mock trial of the Bates’ family and I thought it would be cool to show the author that students were engaged with his text.

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One. Simple. Tweet

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One simple tweet and the author of a nonfiction text we are reading said he would come to Melville to discuss Jackie Bates to my future classes. I’ve received tweet replies from numerous people I respect, Wab Kinew and Anne Davies to name a few. #namedrop

And yes, sometimes I don’t “keep my cool” when I get retweets from people:

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We can get free online professional development from simply connecting to other people who are trying help students succeed. How powerful is that? The voices of diverse people help us question our practice, reaffirm we are doing things for the right reasons, and provide us with opportunities we didn’t think were possible. Connectivism provides me with positivity when other people try and tear me down. I WILL SUCCEED WITH THE POWER OF THE POSITIVE TWEET. *Please note other platforms are not excluded but “tweet” is such a fun word to say.

I’ll be talking a little bit about connectivism and how it can be meaningful for my students in a future post.

– Koskie Out

 

 

 

Dat Physical and Pedagogical Shift

I never thought I would put the word “dat” and “pedagogical” in the same title– blogging is the best.

I want to talk a little bit about my 21st century classroom.  I (with a ton of help of Michelle Morley) submitted a proposal to create an innovative, sustainable, and responsive learning environment for high school students.  The physical environment I designed was not specific to my teaching habits, but rather to what improves student learning. Math teacher? ELA teacher? Elementary teacher? You would be able to walk into my classroom and utilize the technology and environment to suite whatever subject you teach.  
Teacher Desk View

I wanted the space to be dynamic + collaborative = enter technology. Technology allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways and collaborate. Technology allows me to take a step back from teaching and learn alongside my students, providing them with support and guidance when necessary.

My classroom has six whiteboards which encourages flexible grouping.  Students also have the opportunity to become the teacher and share what knowledge their group has discussed. Chromecast allows students to wirelessly connect their Chromebooks to TVs so everyone can see collaborate Google docs, presentations, or videos that are being viewed. It also allows me to see the progress students make quickly and efficiently.

Tables and Chromecast

I’m still a new teacher and won’t pretend like I constantly have assignments that are innovative and CHANGE THE LIVES OF MY STUDENTS FOREVER. Some of my lessons don’t work the way I want them to, but it’s all part of a learning process. I have experienced some amazing learning taking place inside and outside my classroom (pictures in below tweet).

The beauty of having such a collaborative environment is that I can continuously innovate and adapt assignments to fit (and change) this responsive space. I have no doubt that feedback I receive from students, whether it be gauging their level of engagement or the Google Forms where I straight up ask for feedback/ideas to improve, will keep evolving my practice and foster active participation.

Teacher Desk POV

Special thanks to Michelle Morley, Alec Couros, and Katia Hildebrant for helping me design this space. Also need to give a major shout out to Brandon Needham and Darren Wandy for believing in my crazy ideas and making this entire thing possible with your support!!

– Koskie Out!

**If anyone has ideas to help utilize what is available in my classroom, please comment below! :)