Coach Better: Community Engagement

Ever since I completed the Eduro Learning Micro Credential back in June I’ve made a conscious effort to stay connected (in some capacity) with my mentor Kim Confino & the Eduro Learning Team. The unique program was a valuable experience in which, similar to COETAIL, contained loads of personal and practical professional development. Upon completion, I was left wanting more. So here’s my story….


Sharing our Stories

The Coach Micro-credential in itself was great and the regular Google Hangout sessions with my mentor made courses even more tailor-made and practical but, when it ended my school still had no official coaching role. In addition, I would later be told that there were also no immediate plans to add one next academic year. The reality of the situation was that I would most likely still end up moonlighting as a tech coach here at my current school and go back to my day job as a Kindergarten teacher.  Although I was okay with the given situation I still fancied the idea of continuing to develop as a coach and a global collaborator.  Shortly after my initial cohort had ended Kim unveiled some creative ideas to help me stay connected to the Eduro Learning Team and continue to grow professionally. Still hungry for change upon competition, I was enticed by the opportunity do more. Being a part of the first cohort allowed me to move into a new role now that a new group of educators has begun their own learning journey. (Cohort 2)

Back in September, I took part in a video conference with the new cohort.
Speaking from more of an advisory role, I touched on my experience with the program and shared some things that work and what didn’t work

You can review that video below here: 

Leaning on the fundamentals of the COETAIL program, I wanted to continue to explore the potential of utilizing my PLN.

With that in mind, I  decided to play a role in helping get a brand new Twitter chat up and running. The proposed chat would work in conjunction with a  Youtube Channel that the Eduro Team was producing on behind the scenes.  The focus was to help others become better coaches and leverage our network of coachings and connect coaches of any discipline throughout the world through one common hashtag, #coachbetter.

The rest was history…


The Inception of The #Coachbetter Slow Chat

The idea of implementing a Twitter slow chat was a great idea as it provided me with a constant stream of professional development and opportunities to expand and utilize my PLN. I now had found a way to continue learning and growing as a coach all way connecting with others and proposing some interesting questions sparking deep dialogue along the way.


Phase 1: “Slack to the Drawing Board”

Towards the beginning of this venture, I was introduced to a new platform called Slack. It was here where I would begin working closely with  Jana @jpoukka, a current member of the Coach micro credential. Jana and I worked together to align with Kim’s vision with a practical feedback loop that pushes our PLN towards a Youtube Video podcast and then later to a Twitter Slow chat.

Keen to learn more and stay involved Jana and I began harnessing learning and pulling from the video podcast to help us develop new content for the Slow chat.
Below is a snippet of our brainstorming.

 

 

After two chats we reflected on our challenges, choices, and changes as we all looked for ways to improve.  For example, we began with five questions but soon felt as if that was unsustainable with only two people running a weekly chat.

Luckily, it was also around this time our team began to grow.

We were joined by another fellow Eduro Learning graduate Verena @blaho_blaho. This helped us share the workload and provide Jana and I with another person to bounce ideas off of and help enhance our team.

Verena brought in a wealth of knowledge on coaching and relationships. Not to mention she also brought along her own PLN that would soon also be introduced to our chat thus helping our community grow.  To this day we all continue to communicate and feedback to one another on Slack about best possible questions and how continually grow our audience.

Outside of the Google Ecosphere, which takes top prize collaboration and workflow,  Slack is the best platform I’ve used for collaborating, sharing content and ideas.  It simplifies communication so that one can focus on workflow. Also, the ability to add apps such as Google Drive, DropBox, & RSS feeds provide depth and increased productivity. Slack is also the preferred platform for another community engagement project I’m involved in called #PubPDAsia.  I cannot say enough good things about this platform and I’m grateful that I was introduced to it through my COETAIL / Eduro  PLN.

For those new to Slack or those considering learning more about it. I’d suggest you start here. The Definitive Guide to Slack for Organizing: What is Slack, and Should We Use It?


Troubleshooting, Timing, & Teamwork

With the intention to overcome time, space, & teaching loads, the #Coachbetter slow chat team (we gave ourselves that name) set out in the face of adversity to assimilate and make #coachbetter a success. The first obstacle to overcome was time zones. Janna who is based in Germany, Verena who is based in Singapore,  & and Kim and I based out of  Thailand, all agreed that a slow chat worked in our favor. The next obstacle was sustainability and reaching an authentic audience. 

When Verena came along we discussed with Kim the idea of scaling back and attempting making the questions more geared to a wider audience (beyond coaching). We experimented using different hashtags and tagging different PLN members in our photo.  I even attempted to make the tweets more alluring by incorporating some of the visual literacy takeaways  I learned from COETAIL Course 3

As we ironed out the kinks, it was Jana who took the leading role in organizing and allocating us the days to tweet out our questions. This really helped us divide up the workload.

In addition to our new proposed timetable which was communicated over Slack, we also used Google Slides as an additional structure to brainstorm ideas from the podcast, collaborate in real time, and push out the #Coachbetter tweets. Using Canva for the slide background and pre-made cards by Kim we found ourselves collaborating and creating a new Google Slide for each weekly episode of the video podcast.

It took close to three months of learning from our mistakes before we were able to assemble, organize, and produce like the well-oiled machine that is the current #Coachbetter slow chat you see today.  🙂

In the near future, we’ll have the opportunity to speak in depth about the challenge, choices, and changes we’ve endured along the way when the #Coachbetter slow chat team joins Kim on the video podcast for our very own episode! ( Talk about inception!) I’m curious to see how we will promote and push out tweets about this one 🙂

Having said that it will fun and rewarding to reflect on the early day of the chat and even before it’s origin. Taking this vision on board and collectively turning it from theory to practice wasn’t always an easy feat, but everyone onboard continued to persist and pick each other up over the course of the first month which looking back now can be viewed as somewhat turbulent.

In the video podcast, we will all most likely discuss the challenges, peaks, and valleys of collaborating from afar to achieve a common goal so #StayTuned  🙂

Looking back it was Coetail’s course two final project, (which you can read about here) really prepared me for this type of Global Collaboration. If I didn’t gain that necessary experience and work through the challenges and obstacles that that course presented than I would have felt very ill equipt to face those challenges throughout the #Coachbetter  collaborative learning journey.


In the meantime, if you notice the #Coachbetter hashtag in your Twitter newsfeed drop us a line and share your expertise. Each week there is a new video podcast and new slow chat. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this and have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kim, Verena, & Jana.  I personally have found Twitter chats in general to be the best way to keep my finger on the pulse of all things educational and innovative. Now that I am behind the scenes of one that is up and coming, I’m finding it even more rewarding.  Coetail’s collaborative and community-based approach to learning has inspired me to continue to seek out, lean on, and learn from my PLN. Ultimately, it was my experience with COETAIL which allowed me to realize the importance of being an inspired networker and an educator.


 

 

 

Final Wonderings?

What platform do you prefer to use when collaborating and communicating?

What part of Coetail has inspired you the most?

What Course 5 challenges did you face along your own learning journey.

Thanks,
@NicholasKGarvin

Now for Something Completely Different: STEAM in EY

 

If your reaction was anything like the above video, I won’t be surprised or offended. Raising the bar in the Early Years & unraveling misconception pertaining to what Kindergarten & Preschool kids can and can’t do has been my forte for the better part of the last 5 years.  Kindergarteners often get a bad wrap (or should I say how their ability to learn & take on big ideas is perceived by others gets a bad wrap).  There’s an air of aimless that seems to cloud and misrepresent the abilities of these young learners.

Now, don’t get me wrong no one is disputing the benefits of play-based learning.  I myself have been an advocate of it for years.  One thing I have noticed recently, however,  is that play (without a purpose) in the classroom can sometimes be a slippery slope. The same can be echoed about using technology without a purpose.  While students are playing, if you’re not observing what they’re doing & saying and taking (mental) notes, then using that anecdotal evidence to help gauge their interests to ultimately build better relationships, then you’re doing a disservice to both the students & the concept of “play time”.  It’s vital that we not forget how important our role is in play-based learning. The same can be said about using technology in the classroom.  If you’re using iPads as a pacifier and allowing students to use them to consume more content than they create, then once again you’re doing a disservice to the students & the iPads. (more on that here)


PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS… BUT NOT ALWAYS.

 

The title of this posts indicates that I haven’t done too much STEM while looking through the lens of an Early Years’ teacher.  Whether or not that was a conscious choice remains undetermined, but I’d consider it a blind spot and one that I’ve overlooked for too long. Perhaps it was because it’s not one of my strong suits or perhaps it was that I too underestimated their abilities to take on such “higher level” concepts.  Be that as it may, as educators, we often ask our students to venture into the unknown with the goal of shaking them ever so slightly out of their comfort zone (See the Learning Pit), but do we practice what we preach as well?

This year, I’ve made it apparent that I’ll no longer simply play to my strengths in order to broaden my scope as an educator and help enhance teaching in learning in my classroom. What better way of doing that, then diving head first into something I’m a complete novice at? As the great Carl Sandberg once said, ” I’m an idealist, I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.”   < This is my STEM journey in a nutshell.

I’ve enrolled into two new courses the ISTE Computational Thinking Course & Apple Swift Codes Certification with the goal to change the perspective of what “technology looks like” at my school.

This tactile & tactical approach of balancing the digital with the analog will not only help promote big ideas, creativity, and innovation, but it will also help reshape the perspective of both parents and students when it comes to  #edtech  in the #earlyyears#makerEd,  and #designthinking.

by incorporating computational thinking and tech tools such as #MakeyMakey  & #BeeBots into my Kinder class I can also break down the age-old tensions & stereotypes about technology as only being digital devices (or simply something with a screen that you can swipe & watch Netflix.)


Below is just one example of the benefits of teaching STEM in the Early Years, followed by an awesome group of STEM-centered educators to help you get started.

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For further resources, I’d recommend you check out the hashtag #PrimarySTEMChat 


 

Our Kindergarten STEM journey began with a two-pronged approach. First, we introduced the students to Iggy Peck, the Architect (an awesome story written by Andrea Beaty,) as a way to get them thinking like architects and as a way to introduce them to blueprints  & design thinking.

 

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Second, we rolled out the concept of iTime (Feel free to read more about iTime here).  Andrea Beaty’s story taught them about the fun open-ended freedom of designing, while iTime provided us with the tools and parameters.  Furthermore, in the efforts of making iTime as fun and alluring as possible, our first collective task was to see if we could turn six bananas into a working keyboard.  Needless to say, it was very “appeeling” & that STEM in the early years was off and running.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

 


FINAL WONDERINGS

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone for benefit of the greater good of your students  – what was it?

How did you navigate those initial feelings of stepping out of your comfort zone?

What does STEM in the Early Years look like in your classroom?

Thanks,

@NicholasKGarvin

Course 4 – Final Project Ideas

Option 1:  A Flipped Kindergarten 

I would like to flip the literacy lessons in my Kindergarten class with a two-prong approach. First, I would like to create a digital library of my student’s guided reading groups. I would eventually expand it beyond my classroom to include the other Kindergarten class at my school and if possible connect with other schools.  Second, I would like to create a database of student-led phonics lessons for struggling readers and non-native English speakers, with the help of Fipgrid and our standalone literacy program Get Reading Right.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

It combines so many of today’s methods of best practice, including being digitally literate, empowering students to create, providing them with an authentic audience, and personalizing the learning in the classroom by freeing up time for individual inquiry thanks to flip.

They will also be using their digital skills acquired throughout the year to navigate communication and creation apps such as Book Creator and SeeSaw.  Once uploaded to their SeeSaw journals the students can seek feedback from family members and seek to reflect on and refine their work.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Ensuring that I keep it student driven and pedagogy driven

That high-leveled readers also continue to develop their reading skills and do not get too caught up in the creation of new content for others.

Keeping in mind the flipped philosophy and the age of my students I’ll need to modify it into something that meets the needs of my students and their situation.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

It will require a change in how lessons are delivered. I will need to invest time in modeling digital lessons on the iPads and I will also need to put my trust in students to responsibly create and record lessons for other students.  The classroom culture will change a bit as the students will now look to other students for learning rather than solely on the teacher.  Each student will be an advocate for the literacy learning.

For my students, it’s going to be about doing old things in new ways.  This idea would require my students to put to use all of the digital skills they acquired throughout the year.

Describe the project: What will your students do?

My plan is to organize the leveled reading groups from both classes to encourage cross-classroom collaboration and increase the number of recorded e-books.

Once finished, the video can then be uploaded to Book Creator where students can collectively create and add images from the story. Eventually, the students can save and upload their final product to SeeSaw.  This Book Creator +SeeSaw  will provide my students with a wide authentic audience and allow them to work together and with students from another class

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

It’s a flipped approach to teaching and learning literacy with the intent of keeping it personalized and student-directed, all of which I’ve learned the benefits of through Coetail.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

Redefining what literacy looks like in Kindergarten. Also to unravel the misconceptions that early years students cannot use technology for big ideas and augmented tasks.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Digital Literacy Skills

Communication Skills  (speaking & listening)

Cooperation & Collaboration Skills


Option 2: Promoting Empathy through Global Storytelling, Global Citizenship &  Global Acts of Kindness

 

 

Awhile back I wrote a blog post titled Come Together: Collaboration Through Global Goals. There I wrote about the Global Goals for sustainable development the UWC Movement and how I wanted to connect my classroom with other UWC schools around the world.

 

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Back in the blog, Principles for the paradigm shift I learned through a self-assessment that I have a bit of a blind spot in regards to connecting my classroom to the world. I’m fortunate to work at a widely diverse international school in Phuket, Thailand, however, the community is still somewhat small as we live on an island. Therefore the thought of promoting diversity, kindness, through shared experiences and storytelling and connecting my classroom to other classrooms around the world sounds like a great fit.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

How will we share our stories?

Too much of an audience? –  Is it going to be authentic?

How much ownership could I transfer over to the students?

Other issues include Timezones & privacy issues.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Increasing my connectivity with other educators in order to work together on a group project.

Describe the project: What will your students do?

In addition, the UWC mission places a strong emphasis on service learning, diversity, peace, and a sustainable future. Using technology platforms such as  Skype or Google Hangouts and or a controlled Youtube channel, I would ask my students to create and share their personal stories the importance of kindness and helping others.  Students are to create and share their experiences from our service learning visits to the Phuket Nursing home, and their stories from their own countries, cultures, and personal experiences.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Coetail taught me that innovation doesn’t always require the use of technology. Technology is a tool and its power depends on its function.  In this case, I’d like to use that tool to communicate to an authentic audience,  with the intent to promote kindness and courageous action amongst other early childhood classrooms.  By increasing the awareness of the possibilities of Global Collaboration as well as the local act of kindness my students experience in on a day to day basis my students will begin to learn about empathy for others and how their small actions can make a huge difference in the lives of others.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

To showcase how positive dialogue and kindness bring us together. Also to showcase how communication through short stories when combined with a big platform can help influence and inspire other people to make the world a better place. In addition, I also want to promote how the use of technology provides us with a platform to share and better understand one another.

In addition, 
Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development    – Goal 4 Quality Education 

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Digital Skills

Communication Skills

Emotional Literacy

and Social and Emotional Intelligence


Final Wonderings?

Both options are big ideas and will each in their own way be very fun challenges to venture into. I’m wondering if the Flipped classroom experiment would be better suited for this specific time and place as there are only 9 weeks left of school. If I were to choose option 2, and focus on digital storytelling and emotional literacy through diversity, I might find that I’ll need more time to fully tap into the potential. My students have been developing their emotional literacy skills throughout the year as there is a huge focus on mindfulness and social/emotional learning here at UWCT, however, attempting to connect with another classroom and collaborate may come off a bit rushed given the timing. I do believe that all of the pieces are in place to pull off the flipped classroom and I think that at this stage in the year my Kindergarten students are more digitally literate and socially responsible.  I could be totally off base about this, especially with option 2. I have never done either idea so I’ll happily accept any feedback from those who have experience.

Thanks!!

Principles for the Paradigm Shift

Learning looks so different now that it’s almost unimaginable to predict what the education / classroom instruction will look like in ten to twenty years time. Christiaan Henny from eLearning Industry attempted to have a stab at it here and below is a snippet. He states,  “Students will be learning outside, equipped with different devices, listening to a teacher of choice. Skills will not be assessed on paper but based on their performance in the field.”  Its certainly not 2001 Space Odyssey futuristic as some of these changes have already become changes that have already become common in the classroom but it is an overall shift from the current industrial approach. 


The Future is Now

In another article, titled,  The Classroom is Obsolete, It’s Time for Something New writer Prakash Nair proclaims that “The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills”  Prakash then goes on to make mention of a “universal list of education design principles for tomorrow’s schools.”  After poring over them and finding myself in agreement with the compilation, I couldn’t help but wonder how #FutureReady I was regarding my own teaching.  Therefore I used these dozen design principals as an archetype for my own self assessment by looking for connections between each principle and what’s occurred in my Kindergarten classroom. They are as followed :

1) Personalized;  I believe that this not  only to the learning but also the student’s learning spaces. It’s important for us as educators to allow our students to have a voice and input in set up and design of the classroom. When you do this you develop student ownership and allow them to see that the classroom as an evolving organism that can be changed to best suit our learning needs. 

In addition, iTime offers my students with a chance to create and work on projects that they are personally passionate about.

(2) Safe and Secure;  Establishing class essential agreements and a communication charter has helped my students develop a culture of speaking freely and openly without judgement. 

(3) Inquiry-Based;  Packing an inquiry cycle (like Kath Murdoc’s for example) and discussing big ideas from the PYP patiences and persistence but once children become familiarized with the language through hands on experiences overtime they begin to use the language and make stronger connections. 

(4) Student-directed; The removal of the teachers desk in our classroom was a massive symbolic move that helped my students understand that learning just doesn’t only have to come from the teacher. By stressing that there is no center-point of the classroom, it wanted to make it clear that every spot in the room and every person in the room offers a unique and equal chance to learn something.

In addition, whenever I can I like to encourage and empower  students to teach other students by sharing their discovers or prior knowledge with their peers. 

(5) Collaborative;  When students from different grade levels come together to work on a common task it allows both parties involved to develop their interpersonal, organizational, and communication skills.  Allowing older students to come and work with younger students, like depicted in the tweet below, also promotes empathy and the concept of perspective. 


(6) Interdisciplinary;  Fluid learning Spaces, big ideas and open-ended questions with a conceptual based focus. Looking for learning in all aspect of our daily life. Transdisciplinary

(7) rigorous and hands-on;   To me this is about taking learning beyond the traditional four walls, making it multi-sensory, and authentic. At UWCT we’re fortunate to life amongst a lush outdoor learning environment,  that we try to utilize as much as possible. In addition, I think it’s also about challenging students to step out of their comfort zone. This year, I’ve made a conscious effort to extend the learning beyond the classroom wall and through a variety of of kinesthetic learning opportunities.

(8) Embodying a culture of excellence and high expectations;  To me this is all about growth mindset. To help my students learn about perseverance and the beginning stages of adopting such a mindset, we started by watching and discussing this video about Austin’s Butterfly. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out.  It’s great!

This year, I’ve also begin giving my students more opportunities for them to self-reflect on their own learning.  Allowing the students to set their own goals and celebrate their individual learning accomplishments is an effective way to promote metacognition while maintaining high expectations.


(9) Environmentally conscious;   This is a large part of our UWCT Mission Statement.  Doing our part in the promotion sustainable development this year we’ve have created and installed a garden, a compost, and invited the Phuket Farmer’s Club to come in for a two work shop to teach us more about sustainable farming and development. 

(10) offering strong connections to the local community and business;

 I’m a big advocate for service learning. This year the Kindergarten students at UWCT have developed a pretty unique friendship with the elderly residents of the Phuket Nursing Home. It’s been a rewarding, authentic, and meaningful experience for everyone involved. 

In addition, as mentioned above this year we’ve reached out to the Phuket Farmer’s Club to help them teach us how to transform our outdoor learning space into a place for sustainable farming. 


(11) Globally networked;  Clearly this has been my biggest blindspot  out of all the principles. I’ve thought it over many times but never got any Global Connections off the ground as from the participation in a few Padlets, a Global Read Aloud.

I do, however, think that my recent infatuation with Flipgrid will lead some to some big ideas centered around global connections. My students might be too young for the first ever #Flipgrid marathon but for anyone else interested have a look below!

For those like me, who are still working out how to get started connecting your classroom,  Kim Cofino has written a great piece titled “A step-by step Guide to Global Collaboration.” Have a look!

and (12) setting the stage for lifelong learning – It seems clear that the promotion of an interest in lifelong learning starts with the teacher tapping into the student’s passions then combining that with the above principles and allocating the right resources.  Having said that, however, in this ever advancing age of information, how do you prepare students to become life long learners when we’re not sure how we will be teaching and learning in 5, 10, 15 years time?   


Future Ready??

So, back to what and how teaching might look like in ten to twenty  years time?

Noticeably absent from both  Christiaan Henny  and Prakash Nair lists is any mention of virtual reality. VR and also, AR (augmented reality) is quickly making it’s way into classrooms world wide.   I’ve dabbled with some AR  apps myself namely Augment and AR Flashcards.  Last year, through the use of  Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions, I introduced VR to some of my Early Years students so we could do some exploring  under the sea, for our unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet.  What difference a year makes now  the Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive are completly changing the game and taking VR to a whole new level.  The VR arms race between Google and Apple is execrating a warp speed, both companies are primed to position themselves as the major players in the VR education.

The optimist in me thinks that virtual reality in the classroom will be blending together the best of the real world, the best of the internet and online applications.  How we find and stratal that balance may be our biggest challenge yet.


The Great Beyond: 

There’s no doubt we’re approaching the tipping point of the paradigm shift. Technology has advanced so rapidly that we as a society cannot keep up with it. The fusion of tech and our daily lives will grow more prevalent with each coming year. Personalized learning pods with the help of MOOCs and cloud computing will continue transcend traditional classrooms.  Digital badges will also help further personalize and enhance the individual learning amongst students. Taken from the article  Badges in Learning: Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism  David Theo Goldberg weighs the pros on cons of badges and states that Badges in short are a means to enable and extend learning. They need not be behavioral lures so much as symbols of achievement, expressions of recognized capacity otherwise overlooked.

The overarching concept here is that as we continue to equip ourselves and our students with the best resources and tools, the reality is, we cannot forget about our human connection.  In order to best prepare for the future we must remain open-minded, adaptable, kind, caring, and curious so that we can embrace the imminent change of education together. 


Final Wonderings?

As the hardware and the software continue to develop  VR bundles become more mainstream and more affordable, I could help but wonder:

How soon do these headsets become as common as a class set of ipads?

and

How will this immersive technology disrupt and already changing landscape? 

In regards to Digital Badges, I want to explore more but I’m wondering how to make them relevant for Kindergarten students?   Any ideas??

Thanks!

@NicholasKGarvin

Unpacking Visual Literacy in Kindergarten

Visuals play such an important role in nourishing the imagination of young learners. Dr. Michio Kaku understands this importance and how images can promote curiosity and inspiring learning. As a Kindergarten teacher, I wholeheartedly agree with what Dr. Kaku states in the video below.  Do you?


Comprehension, Creativity, & Critical Thinking with Visuals

One way to help young learners begin to understand Visual Literacy is through the use of picture books. The use of picture books in Kindergarten is an important aspect in the development of student’s vocabulary, conceptual thought, and imagination. Susan Stephenson writes about this in her article, Visual Literacy Through Children’s Picture Books. Where she mentions how the use of visuals help students develop a conceptual understanding of the world around them.

” …visuals present information at-a-glance that would otherwise take a long time to get across in words.”

The following SlideShare provides a great summary of visual literacy and dives deep into symbolic imagery, design and colors schemes.  The best part is that this SlideShare is accompanied by with many wonderful picture book titles.  It’s a perfect resource for any teacher who wants to start implementing more picture books and/or visual literacy into their curriculum. It also lists one of my all-time favorites,  The Rabbits by John Marsden

That slide share coupled with Susan’s wonderful list of questions works as the stellar combination to help provoke deep observations, conceptual thinking, and creativity with the use of picture books.

Here are few of her questions:

•    What do you notice in the picture?
•    Do the words exactly match what’s happening in the illustration?
•    How does that picture/color make you feel?
•    What does that image remind you of?
•    How has the illustration changed/progressed from this page to the next?
•    Do the animals look real?
•    Whose perspective is this illustration from?
•    Why did the artist choose those colors, and why do they change here?


Art to enhance Visual Literacy & Math

In my Kindergarten classroom visuals are constantly weaved into the curriculum as a way to help us communicate and understand concepts and ideas.  For instances, around the beginning of the school-year, one student proposed the question,  “What is Math?”.  This question occurred on the carpet after we spent the first week unraveling our misconceptions about Play and how we learn. (only to find out that we learn a lot about Math in our Play, without knowing it i.e. Legos).  Eventually, another student spoke up to answer the question.  She confidently stated that “Math is something an artist does.”  Many other Kindergarten students disagreed and a bit of a debate ensued.  Later in the week after some collaborative planning with the other Kinder teacher, we agreed to bring both classes together to discuss this claim. We grouped the children into 4-5 students and provided each group with one A4 image of Piet Mondrian’s Line over Form.


Piet Mondrian – Line over Form


We asked them to think like a Mathematician and look closely to see if they can find any Math in this Art.  The image captured the attention of our student’s thanks to its identifiable shapes, striking colors,  & noticeable patterns. This one piece alone sparked so many different discussions about Art in Math and vice-versa. We touched on symmetry, angles, & patterns all while changing and challenging the student’s perspectives on “What is Math.” Having all started with a student-led inquiry, the addition of this visual aid took our learning to new heights and created opportunities for transdisciplinary connections. This to me, was the first time I think I really understood the power of visuals and how they can help connect authentic experiences to higher levels of thinking.

Now, our  Maths inquiry has moved beyond the classroom as outdoors as we look for “Math in Nature.”  Our latest Unit of Inquiry titled, How the World Works, has my Kindergarten students looking through the lens of a scientist. Becoming keen observers and practicing how to look closely have been at the forefront of our classroom inquiries. The following photos will be used to help create a buzzing discussion about whether or not there is Math in Nature.

Machaon

Nicolas Winspeare: Flickr

tidal pattern 1

 

I’m confident that these two photos will be able to provide the same sort of spark that Piet Mondrian’s image did. For one, we live on a tropical island with beaches and critters galore so both photos are already tapping into students’ prior knowledge and authentic experiences. It’s just about looking at them now with a different lens altogether.  Now it’s about a new perspective for my students, one that teaches them to look for the meaning being communicated by and beyond the image.


Final Wonderings?

I enjoyed using the https://search.creativecommons.org/ website to quickly find images that I can use in the classroom. This time around, I stuck to images from Flickr but, I hope to explore other sites offered on the CC.org site.

What’s your favorite site?

In what ways do you use images in the classroom to promote critical thinking?

Do you believe that Visual Literacy is transdisciplinary?

What types of discussions about Visual Literacy are going on in your class?

Thanks!

@NicholasKGarvin

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