Connected: Just Another Course 1 Review

The Consumer / Prosumer Transformation

The past six weeks have been a wonderful rollercoaster of learning, although at times a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless, I’ve jumped into the likes of blogging, Twitter chats, and UBD with both feet.  Although at first, the mere thought of tackling just one of those new ventures seemed daunting, I now proudly revoke my lurker status to active participant in my desire to help play a role in shaping the ever-changing #edtech landscape. I’ve come to like blogging and reading other educators blogs finding interesting and useful tidbits along the way. I appreciate the connectivity of it all and often find myself going down a rabbit hole of sorts into different channels of content and intriguing ideas. In the Twittersphere, I have nearly doubled my amount of followers in my quest to develop and grow my Professional Learning Network. Like blogging, I’ve also found so much useful information amongst the community of learners in which I follow.  For example, have a look at this great resource posted by @cybrayman1.  It’s a one-stop shop for those looking to expand their PLN,

I’ve even dropped in on a few different twitter chats, including #KchatAp #EdtechAfterdark, #aussieED, #satchat & more. Here’s a snippet of my activity, responding to a question about this year’s personal goal.

Along with the connections that I’ve made throughout the process.


The Learning Journey Continues

This Learning Journey has been twofold, my own personal learning journey as an educator and the collective one in conjunction with my students. It’s great to once again feel like I have my finger on the pulse of teaching and learning with technology.  It’s even better to roll out these new experiences. keeping students interests and learning front and center. In this such instance, it’s the first steps towards becoming digital citizens for my Kindergarten students. My first attempt at UBD unit focuses on the important realization of one’s digital footprint online, from the lens of a kindergartener and through the platform of SeeSaw.

Speaking of rolling out new things and having one’s finger on the pulse, as I was planning my UBD unit I greeted with a new update from SeeSaw which made for convenient inclusion.  SeeSaw’s newest feature is titled “Activities”. Here is a video explaining it.

I think it’s a perfect fit to further showcase the learning of my Kindergarten students. It adds an additional creative layer to the tail-end of my unit in the form of a goal to help ensure that learning about digital citizenship and reflecting one’s digital footprint continues after the unit wraps up.  The learning journey is moving full speed ahead, for myself and my students and we’re just getting started.


Future Ready & Feedback Ready.

I’m currently three weeks out from completing this unit. My school is now on a two-week term break so progress has halted but, I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom and complete my first unit with my Kindergarten students.  I love the idea of thinking big, and focusing on transdisciplinary skills with my students. So much of Kindergarten and the early years are already transdisciplinary due to its foundational nature.  I’m also excited to begin Course 2 in hopes that I’ll have more opportunities to work with develop UBD planners.

With UBD, I certainly see the value in developing these types of units of as they provide a clear and organized structure for teaching and planning around big ideas and conceptual based learning. Seeing that this is my first time, I would love to hear your feedback and tips/tricks or constructive criticism.

Thanks,

@nicholasgarvin

 

Come Together: Collaboration Through Global Goals

 “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”
                           – Oliver Wendell Holmes

In this age of information, where almost anything can be found by a quick Google search, one aspect that has emerged is the emphasis on critical thinking skills. Ideas such as the flipped classroom model and microlearning have already freed up classroom time allowing teacher and students the opportunity to shift their focus to “big ideas”, sharpening their collaboration and critical thinking skills.  Remaining open to new big ideas and providing both teachers and students with the time and space to share implement and innovate has now become the new community time on the carpet.  This along with collaborating and sharing our findings with others is what more and more classroom time has been allotted for. Deeper connections and higher levels of thinking are all possible now thanks to our ongoing embrace of technology within the classroom.  Why? Because technology is a time saver and with that time saved teachers can shift their focus towards critical thinking & other 21st-century century skills required for learners and leaders of tomorrow. Technology doesn’t guarantee critical thinking success just like it doesn’t guarantee innovation. It does, however, make us more efficient, thus freeing up a lot of time for new discussions, ideas, and action. It all comes down to how well we make use of our tools and time.

The iPod experiment discussed in Cathy N. Davidson’s Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age was a wonderful display of creativity fused with practicality and innovation. Imagine if all schools allowed their students to do the same, only with their own devices. The experiment reminded me of what my former school attempted in Mozambique with secondary students and a little low tech device called Makey Makey.  Here’s a quick video on what Makey Makey is, or can be.

Makey Makey is still going strong today, thanks to its open-ended creativity and its ever-increasing number of possibilities. Most importantly, it’s fun, it gets student thinking big.


Moving from Social Interactive to Global Action

Skype, Twitter Chats, Google Hangouts & the rest of the G-Suite are great tools that allow for global communication, collaboration. Often the problem is that many schools or classrooms fail to find a goal or purpose to rally behind so that everyone involves can get the most out of those tools. I have experimented with virtual pen pals and book buddies, with former colleagues who have moved away to different international schools. It was fun and engaging at first but overtime fizzled out. Looking back, I realize that I could have been doing so much more than swapping big book stories with different grade level at a different school and as a reflective practitioner take full responsibility for its dissolution. Andrew Marcinek’s article about social media really made me question whether or not I was making the most of my connection. When mentioned the importance of connecting efficiently.  


Global Goals

I recently came across this site Technology for a Global Early Childhood Education and I’m thankful I did. I specifically like their section, from ideas to action.  As a Kindergarten teacher, I appreciate that this site specializes in big ideas and steps towards action seen through an early childhood lens. 

In seeking out for more of global connections, I ‘ve recently come across The Global Goals for Sustainable Development. They were just in Bangkok a few weeks back for the Global Goals World Cup. I’m also excited to explore more possibilities that lie within my new school United World College Thailand and the 16 other United World Colleges around the globe. I appreciate their ethos. It reminds me of what was said in Cathy N. Davidson’s article “Collaboration by difference respects and rewards different forms and levels of expertise, perspective, culture, age, ability, and insight, treating difference not as a deficit but as a point of distinction.”. 

UWC’s focus on peace and a sustainable future is something I think we can all connect with. 

The parameters are in place, the tools are there, and now more than ever we have the opportunity to truly make a global impact. It’s a paradigm shift for sure but, we’re already on the cusp of. It starts by changing the way we think about school time, physical boundaries and barriers, and what is truly possible.

What’s your global collaboration goal?


“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
                                         – Vince Lombardi

Press Start : Digital Citizenship in Kindergarten

My two most significant modifications and tech takeaways thus far have both been centered around purposeful and authentic student learning. The first takeaway is to ensure that I counterbalance my use of technology as a tool with another tool that highlights the pedagogy. This includes tools such as ISTE Standards, SAMR Model and/or TPACK. Developing the why behind the device or digital tool is also key to my second takeaway, the ongoing effort of empowering the students to become prosumers. This more abstract and conceptual understanding paves the way and highlights the importance of their involvement in the creation of their digital footprint. The Coetail readings and writing I have encountered have taught and inspired me to realize the importance of realizing that digital citizenship is an ongoing journey and one that should be started as soon as possible.


Beginning the Journey Purposefully by Creating Tech Essential Agreements

Unpacking and communicating the “Why” behind the big ideas within a Kindergarten classroom often requires a bit of essence and finesse. In a sense, it’s metacognition meets the breaking of the 4th wall. This is what we encountered with our first crack at accountability when collectively developing our Ipad essential agreements. We had to first come to terms with a common foundation, an acceptable use policy so to speak. In our classroom, nothing is Taboo or off limits. We approach everything positive intent. If an incident occurs that doesn’t correspond with our Essential Agreements, we unpack the causation behind, it talk it out and then attempt to learn from it. Needing to understand and agree upon the language of that foundation is key. Introducing and unpacking language does take time but it’s a delicate and important process in our attempt to understand one another. This blog, from the IB website, is a great resource for those interested in formulating essential agreements collectively. Getting the students involved in the creative process allowed for each voice to be heard. Later, we compared our newly formulated iPad essential agreements with our mindful communication essential agreements, looking for a common language or theme. The words, respectful, responsible, & safe appeared in both sets of agreements. This coincidence was wonderful to explore with the kids and taught us a valuable concrete lesson. How we treat each other in life should bare no difference to how we treat our tools or one another in the digital world. By Identifying these consistencies we’ve already begin to highlight the moral and purpose of our digital learning journey. Be respectful, responsible, & safe.


Empowering Learners to Continue their Journey

The article Adopt and Adapt: Shaping Tech for the Classroom by Mark Prensky, really helped provide me with inspiration and perspective on how to creatively work with within your given parameters. SeeSaw, the wonderful, student & family friendly learning journal is not new to me but the idea of using it as a tool to help educate parents and students about Digital Citizenship is. Mark Prensky’s article reminded me of the importance of what he calls “ enlightened trial and error” What better way of embarking on a new frontier of educating parents and Kindergarten students alike then by using a shared platform that documents our adventures or misadventures in real time.

By allowing the students to take ownership of SeeSaw. A cycle of creation, reflection, & refinement ensues. New understandings and new connections are made throughout the process of a familiar product. This “new way of using an old thing“ allows student learning solidify. This process of recording, presenting, and using technology is just the beginning of their interactive SeeSaw learning journey as well as our #DigCiz journey. Going back to my first takeaway, the tool to indicate the purpose, I used the ISTE NETS Students 2016 Content & Learning Targets. Feel free to click to link to the Google Doc so that you can make a copy for yourselves.

What I have noticed lately, is that the students are also looking more critically at their own work, choosing their favorite piece and becoming prosumers in the process. Each week we review the comments written their parents and grandparents allowing them to begin to develop an understanding of the impact and reach of their personally created uploads. In addition, we have also been looking at what a good video. Allowing them to have complete creative control may seem daunting and disaster-ridden from the outside looking in, however, like our essential agreements, with time and essence it’s extremely empowering. From, presenting confidently to experimenting with lighting, noise, & sound, the last few weeks the students have begun to develop a critical eye through a collaborative and constructive approach. All of our trials and all of our errors are revisited, discussed similar and shared with peers and parents on our class blog and individual learning journals.

Here’s a nice little wheel chart by @Tedfujimoto illustrating 8 digital skills that we must teach students.  Can you identify which ones we are covering now?

The most important part is that we’re all in this together and we will all be helping each other improve along the way as we move forward with this collaborative classroom approach to learning about permanence. Putting it all out there, at this age, is in some ways a method of teaching them how a digital footprint works. How the internet works. Once it’s out there it’s out there. Therefore it’s best to equip oneself with the personal values and beliefs, ownership, and knowledge of their roles as digital natives. Or in the eyes of a Kindergarten student, it’s about being respectful, responsible, and safe.


Final Wondering: Justifying the importance Parents

As teachers continue to nourish the tiny or impending digital footprint Kindergarten or primary students in general,  I can’t help but think about the important role that the parents play in the grand scheme of this. Educating the parents of Digital Citizenship is equally important as educating students. In what way to do you include parents in process of Digital Citizenship in your classroom? How do you get the parents on board? What, if any, resistance from parents regarding Dig Ciz have you encountered?


Purposeful Pedagogy with Tech as a Tool

It’s true that technology has transformed the way we teach and the way students learn. It has revolutionized the world with the way we receive and delivery information.  Its impact is monumental, there’s no doubt, but understanding how technology can be used effectively and purposefully in the classroom now becomes the focus.  It’s important to think of Technology as a tool to help learning ensue. Having said that, it’s also important to remember that the tools have to work for us, we don’t work for them.

Know your purpose

“Have I started with purpose and pedagogy instead of the tech?” It was this question from Drew Perkins’, 15 Questions To Ask About Tech Integration In Your Classroom that really stuck with me. It’s not about the technology, it should always be about the learning.  We as educators should be mindful of their use of technology within the classroom.  Are we using it as a tool to drive teaching and learning? I found Drew’s article to be a helpful integration barometer, right up there with  TPACK  and the SAMR model.

Last week, while perusing on Twitter, I came across this invaluable ISTE related Google Doc thanks to @techwatts.

This is a wonderful resource for teachers as it’s centered around Content & Learning Targets for students.  Whether it’s SAMR, TPACK  or another supportive and reflective tool for integration,  it’s important to remember a way to identify the purpose behind the inclusion and that purpose should always be what is best for student learning.   Remember the tool should work for us, both teachers and students. The ISTE Standards and Essential Conditions are also key to navigating one’s learning journey into proper tech integration.

Using Technology Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re Innovating 

Technology in the classroom is not about buying and using the cool new thing. A common misconception amongst both teachers and students is new tech = automatic innovation. Simply using ______ (insert latest app/device here)________  doesn’t necessary mean you’re innovating.  Technology shouldn’t be an end in itself.  Don’t allow yourself to be wooed by the latest tech toys. What might be best for consumers might not always be best for our students.

Also,  Innovation is not about using the latest hardware, software, or following the latest techie trendy.  Innovation is a mindset. As @gcouros pointed out with his new book.  George’s infographic helps provide a brief and clear snippet below.

For me, it’s these eight characters that make up a great teacher and effective tech integrator.  As a kindergarten teacher,  I want technology to inspire my students.  I use technology to create a flexible, responsive and inclusive learning environment. I’m reflective of my use and when a problem arises I include my student’s into the process of solving it. I want them to become creators of their own learning journey and understand the importance of responsible use and their digital footprint.

We are 17 years into the 21st century, sooner or later tech skills,  an innovators mindset and attitudes towards integration will become normalized the same way the digital revolution has lead to the evolution of learning. ISTE, COETAIL, and people like George Couros have already played a large role in this.  It’s up to us now, as educators, to use the tools provided, and technology as a tool, to drive student achievement and prepare them to become lifelong learners in today’s digital world.   

Final Wonderings?

What tool do you use to evaluate yourself when integrating tech into the classroom, SAMR, TPACK or something other? How do you use technology as a tool to work for you? 

@NicholasKGarvin

From Geeking Out to Reaching Out

In Jeff’s Utech’s book, Reach, he mentions making the Web and networks work for you. This changed my perspective and the role I play within the internet. It also allowed me to take a look at how I interact with the web, both personally and professionally. Then, I found myself reflecting on a few things; Why is it that I’m a prosumer personally but more of a consumer professionally? Could I get my specialized knowledge and personal passions to work for me to build a network, the same way Jeff describes?

The Connectivist Theory then got me thinking, is the pipe more important than the content within the pipe?   To me, it’s the synergy of it all that is important, personal, professional, pipe and all.

Geeking Out, Professionally

Say if someone were to create a Youtube channel or a Tumblr profile as mentioned in Mimi Ito’s article, one would first need to understand and apply the skills needed to set up their page or account before they can start producing and creating content. I know this because I’ve tried it myself, with my own personal Youtube channel and blog site.

In my personal experience, I have learned a lot about apps, programs, and platforms such as Do InkFilmora, & WordPress, by tinkering with them for my own pleasure, before realizing the potential benefits that these tools hold when seen through a professional lens. Seeing them in a whole new light just reinforces the synergy of it all and proves that learning is learning no matter the time, place, or intent.

Personalized Learning

There is so much learning that goes into those foundational tinkerings, that they often get overlooked or worse get negatively labeled as “messing around.”  This misconception might occur from parent and/or teachers who don’t realize that actually, these interest-driven, passion provoked projects are far from negative. As stated in article,  Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project “messing around is largely self-directed, and the outcomes of the activity emerge through exploration”.  That statement echoes many of the common phrases uttered about 21st-century learning and classrooms.  Messing around in this sense is personalized learning in its purest form.  From Makerspaces & genius bars to low-tech learning spaces like loose parts.  “Messing around” occurs at all ages and involves the some of the highest orders of thinking and engagement. By understanding, experimenting, & creating, the students are owning their learning and already ascending  Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Final Wonderings??  Bringing it all together

As someone who is still quite new to PLNs, I feel more comfortable starting with my specialized knowledge with the hopes of sharing, extending, and eventually building around that.  Does your PLN reflect your specialized knowledge?  Do you have separate personal “Specialized Knowledge Networks” (SKN) or are they merged into your PLN by default? Wondering how to navigate through it all. Thoughts?

 @NicholasKGarvin

“Connectors first, content experts second”

The article, “World Without Walls” allowed me first to reflect on how much I have benefited from the aid of online experts and communities, both in my personal and professional life.

Thinking first in my professional life, the likes of Twitter and Facebook groups have provided me with instant answers to questions proposed about teaching and learning. Twitter chats such as #pypchat & #kinderchat, for example, offer free, consistent, and content specific expertise for both “the lurkers” and the active contributors.  Speaking of Twitter, expertise, and a world without walls, the social media platform offers everyone a chance to go straight to the source by reaching out to all sorts of different industry professionals.  Here are 49 other ways to use Twitter in the classroom. 

I loved the phrase, “connectors first, content experts second”.  Even within my own personal life, I look to Youtube or Google for quick quality content like, “How do I play this song on a guitar?” or “How do I cook this dish?”.  The instant connection,  endless results, and possibility to rate, like, or provide feedback is a priceless process.  Not to mention how much time it saves me or the fact that this learning can occur anywhere as long as I’m connected. In turn as a prosumer, I naturally want to give back and reciprocate the help I so easily received throughout this process.  Enter the collaboration age!

Discovering the Collaboration Age?

One reason why Google Docs works so well is due to its emphasis on real-time collaboration.  To me, the most powerful hard truth coming out of  Will Richardson’s article  is the following snippet,  “the most effective teachers will be the ones they discover, not the ones they are given.”  This type of student ownership is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the past, and it’s unwise to attempt to resist it.  Remember, “connectors first, content experts second.”

I think it’s safe to say that we all can benefit from the Collaboration Age and the sooner we actively embrace it and actively contribute to it, the sooner we’ll all be a bit more connected to our passions. The sooner we’re all connected to passions, play, enjoyment, growth, and learning can ensue.  Perhaps even the desire to give back and showcase what we’ve learned.  Perhaps, if we didn’t have the walls to house us in the first place, we would continue to find new innovative ways to connect, create, and share altogether.

Final Wondering?

In discussing the ongoing and on growing content created online, Richardson asks, “How do we ensure that what we create with others is of high quality?”  I’m wondering, is this where digital citizenship and responsible use comes into play?? If so, how soon do you start to teach it to your student?  Kindergarten???

Would love to hear your thoughts COETAILERS!