Fine Tuning the Final Project: An Intro

Over the summer I’ve had a bit of time to think deeper about my final project. My last blog post on the topic listed two very different ideas.

  1. A flipped Kindergarten classroom 
  2. Some sort of way to promote Kindness and Empathy through digital storytelling
    The first idea centered around students achieving mastery in a specific content area and then being able to make their thinking visible by showcasing it digitally.

The second idea wanted to focus more on connecting people (students)  throughout and sharing their stories then highlighting and celebrating our unique and diverse experiences. I believe that it has the opportunity to create a sense of oneness through our similar love for stories, no matter the time, space, language & cultural barriers.
Although I’m moving away from my second idea, I’m still looking into u
tilizing my #PLN so that I can continue to create awesome global connections:


As seen above,  Coetail has provided me with some fabulous opportunities for authentic global connection. In addition to teaching me how to raise the bar in my own classroom, Coetail has taught me of the importance (and ease) of connecting my classroom to the world. 

The global connections I’ve made and have already taken part in have been a cornerstone in my Coetail learning experience. From hosting Twitter chats with Pana @PanaAsavavatana  to collaborating with cohort members in course, I’ve always enjoyed the learning and perspective that ensue when connected globally. Since one of my biggest takeaways was learning how to make the web work for me, through my interactions with social networks & RSS feeds,  I’ve completely changed from a consumer to prosumer to full on creator & connector. Having said that, I would really to have the global connection aspect somehow be representative in my final project one way or another. 


The line… “Your information is only as good as your ability to share it” has resonated with me all throughout these courses. I blogged about it here.

Where Doodles & Data Meet

Now, my goal is to synthesize all of these things that have had an impact on me into my final project.

The inspiration was taken by:

Khan Academy  + (Flip Classroom Model)

I plan to Use Screencastify or another tool to showcase only student learning and student voices. Out of respect for student privacy, there will be no faces shown. Khan Academy is a very inspirational hub that showcases learning while also 

Coetail : (Global Connections) (the power of video)

Global Read Aloud & other awesome Global Projects such as The Traveling Tales &  the SDGs – Global Goals. have too provided their fair share of inspiration. Now, it’s time to tie it all together. 


Pondering a Platform

At the moment, I’m thinking that my students can use book creator to showcase their skills. What I’m wondering now is what the best platform to use in order the connect the Kinder generated content to a larger audience. Originally my idea was for them to use Flipgrid. (after first being inspired by Sean Ford’s (@Sean4d )  #WorldReadAlouds. Even with Flipgrid’s latest feature, Mixtapes, I’m still not 100% convinced that it is the right platform. 

Fine Tuning the Final Project


The goal would be to showcase student learning and mastery within specific Kindergarten content & personal projects. Learning experiences such as iTime, which is designated time for personal projects and creativity,  provide students with time, space and an opportunity to practice explain their thinking. Mastery can be shown and digitalized throughout other areas of the curriculum as well. For example, Number Talks in Mathematics. 

Now the quest for a proper platform to contain this content begins.


Final Wonderings?

Any ideas of an age-appropriate platform for connecting Kinder students to the world?

I would love to hear your feedback back on this venture. As I continue to fine tune this project, I look forward to taking on what Coetail community has to say.

 

Thanks,  @NicholasKGarvin

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

On the Border of Chaos & Order: Project Based Learning in Kindergarten

 

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play… it is work he must do in order to grow up.

 – Maria Montessori 


The article Perfecting with Practice: Project Based Teaching by Suzie Boss, lays a wonderful foundation for those educators looking to make the leap into Project Based Learning. As a Kindergarten teacher, this framework coupled with PYP curriculum and a strong emphasis on play-based learning is the perfect recipe for authentic learning engagements in my classroom.

Suzie Boss writes, that “Inquiry is at the heart of project learning.” As much as I  agree with her on that, I’d take one step further with the anatomy analogy and say if that inquiry is the heart than play is the backbone.  As an Early Years of working at conceptually based schools, I believe it’s the concoction of inquiry,  play, and experimentation that really helps foster critical thinking skills and promote big ideas.

Each day my Kinder students become more and more accustomed to inquiry and big ideas and solving authentic problems.  At first, the thought of relinquishing control and transferring more ownership over to the students felt a bit daunting.  However, I quickly realized once I got out of the way, that’s when the magic happened.  I had embraced the power of letting go and started looking at the learning through the macro lens.  By embracing project-based learning as my foundation I helped keep my students tethered to learning but unbounded by their own desires and creativity. 

Suzie’s Boss’ article Perfecting with Practice also reminded me of  Mitchel Resnick’s TED Talk Kindergarten for our Whole Lives.  Throughout his TED Talk, which I’ve also included below,  he dives into what he calls the four P’s of Practice. Those are as followed.

Projects
Passions
Play  & Peers



Starting with Passions

It’s been said if you want to get to know someone spends an hour playing with them.  You’ll learn more from that one hour than days of conversations.  In the Early Years, where students wear their hearts on their sleeves, a few play sessions combined some astute observations and notetaking and you will allow you begin to tap into the interests of an early years learner.  Take iTime, for example, ( also known to other educators as Genius Hour) undoubtedly our most popular time throughout the week. My Kindergarten students consistently look forward to iTime because they know that that time is personal to them.  It’s a dedicated time and space for creative thinking. 

iTime activates my student’s natural desire to learn and empowers them to embrace their imagination and design thinking skills.  Our classroom Makerspace is an organic entity that has taken on a life of its own and treasured by my students. Each week they take part in iTime where in addition to them learning about the creative process, they are constantly exploring, experimenting and tinkering.  In a sense, iTime is grassroots,  student-driven,  Project Based Learning. Fueled by their individual wonder and passions, my students take iTime very seriously. Here’s a great article that speaks to more of benefits of personalized learning  or “iTime”

Also, have a look at some of the focus and levels of engagement from my students below.

 

 

 


Make it Relevant to Make it Work

Although iTime is one way to tap into my student’s passions and make it work on a personalized level.  I began to reflect on my Kindergarten class as a whole and wondered which learning engagements fit best with their needs, Project Based Learning or Challenge-Based Learning?

After reading Kim Cofino’s blog post “ 3 steps to transforming your classroom,” I realized is that Understanding by Design or Project-Based Learning would work really well with my 5 & 6-year-old students. Understanding by Design allows me to revise lesson plans to keep them aligned with the learning goals thus acknowledging the ebb & flow of Kindergarten.

Other learning frameworks although, great, do not necessarily fit as well as my Project Based Learning.  For example, Problem-Based Learning & Challenge Based Learning isn’t exactly relevant or age appropriate for my students. Don’t get me wrong, delve into Problem-Based Learning from time to time, but that is mostly when we are attempting to solve or focus on classroom or individual conflicts.

By keeping my focus on the Project-based learning model,  I help my students become prosumers as they generate a cycle of creation, reflection, & refinement.  It will also change the way they perceive the world. In my class, there is no problem too big to attempt to solve. Providing children with Time, space, resources and an authentic audience equips them for the real world. 

Learning to collaborate on large-scale problems and give and receive feedback throughout the process is one key to success, both in the classroom and in life. 


Overcoming Obstacles  

Project Based learning helps the students learn how to think big and come up with big goals and ideas.  Of course, like any type of teaching, this takes scaffolding, patience, and practice.  One obstacle, although not terribly big one is the fact that things in Kindergarten don’t always move in a linear direction. Some of the learning will probably be circular but I suppose the nice part about Project-based learning is the freedom and flexibility that comes with having an overarching goal/set of learning outcomes. UBD units, for example, allow me to revise lesson plans to keep them aligned with the learning goals.

I find that when they have an authentic audience to provide them with the feedback they are much more responsive. This sometimes can become challenging, especially if we have already exercised the options of our Grade 2 reading buddies, the admin team, or our parent community.  One thing that I would like to do more to help circumvent this obstacle is to seek out more global connections. Perhaps through my PLN on Twitter along with #KchatAP & #Kinderchat groups.  It’s important that my students continue to present their learning to an authentic audience, one that expands beyond the grounds of our school.

I’m a firm believer that Kindergarten students are more than capable of handling big ideas and understanding/handing real-life authentic problems so I’d never completely discount something and underestimate the ability of my students. 

Mitchel Resnick’s book, Lifelong Kindergartener, has been on my radar for a long time and as a Kindergarten teacher, I wholeheartedly agree with his views regarding teaching and learning through his philosophy and the four P’s. 

Although it often requires the right delivery, time, space, a bit of essence and a lot of repetition, my Kindergarten students and I are able to make learning look like an organic roman candle of student interest, engagement, and enjoyment; unbridled and glorious.


Final Wonderings?

What does learning look like in your classroom?

How do you harness and promote creativity with your students?

How do you embrace the four Ps (Projects, Passions, Play,  & Peers) in your teaching?

 

Remixing The Art of Storytelling

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 

The following six words have been attributed to Ernest Hemingway and his concept of flash fiction by telling a story with the minimum amount of words possible.

Hemmingway may have changed the game with his six-word novel, showcasing his art of storytelling but, Hemmingway never had access to emojis. Could you imagine the vividness?  What if we remix Hemmingway’s initial challenge and state the question “Can you tell a story using only 6 emojis?” Let’s think about that one…. could you?  I bet you can. I bet you’ve semi-accidentally accomplished this in the past without thinking much about it.  Similar to how video killed the radio star, the emoji along with memes, vlogs, vines, and video uploads have nearly obliterated text and completely remixed the art of storytelling. 

I proposed this emoji questions to my Kindergarten students when they were tasked with explaining their holiday adventures using only emojis.  Can you tell a story using only emojis??

What resulted were very detailed and thorough recounts that were not only fun for others to decipher but engaging and exciting for my students to create.  From the perspective of a Kindergartner, visuals allow for more depth and enhance their stories sevenfold.  The act of choosing their emojis also made for a fun and level playing field where both ESL students and native English speakers could fully express themselves.  It was here when I realized how much of the world is moving in the same direction, towards embracing visuals. From hieroglyphics to emojis; we’ve circumvented all the way back around.   🙂

If you’ve needed more proof that the world is moving towards visuals just look at Facebook’s  1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram. They know that this generation is becoming increasingly interested in producing its own visual content. With the likes of social media, mobile devices, photos, and videos the entire landscape has changed and we have completely remixed the way we consume (and produce stories.) And it’s not just a trend, there is a biological factor that lies deep within our love for visuals.  We’re are much more wired for visuals than we are oral storytelling or print on a page. David Jakes touches on this a bit in his opening paragraph of this blog post titled “Towards a Framework for Visual Literacy Learning.” when he makes the internet analogy of “a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain.” David also came up with awesome ideas of using other mediums such as Google Earth,  DNATube and or StartYourTube.com and to incorporate visual literacy.

The ability to navigate and create on more than one platform is exactly what our students are now doing in this new remix culture. The meme is a great example of this as is video blogging. Nobody wants to be a Hollywood movie star anyone. Ask anyone under the age of 15 and they’ll tell you.  They all want to be a Youtuber. Many of them already are. Video Blogging has been so successful that Youtube has installed a Creators Academy which teaches the basics of editing, sharing and thumbnailing.


Modern Versatility & Shareability with Filmora

Before becoming a teacher, my original university major was in Mass Media and Telecommunications, so it goes without saying that I have found feeling for creating and editing video content.  Although I started my video editing venture with the traditional analog AB roll, that has long been ruled obsolete. Looking back now it seems like such an archaic way to create a piece of work. Once you’ve spent hours creating it, don’t even think about sharing it with others unless you bring your VHS tape to their house and politely ask to use their VCR.  

Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panasonic_AJ-D350_20020110.jpg

Flash forward some 15  years later and now it’s easier than ever to produce a film.  So much so that some have even been shot and edited solely on their smartphones.  These days loads of people gravitate towards iMovie, however, for the past three years, I’ve been using a software called Wondershare Filmora.   Far from the AB roll I began on, this iMovie alternative is inexpensive, open sourced, and extremely easy to use. The fact that it works on Windows, Mac, & mobile devices make it already more versatile than iMovie. Filmora has many other advantages over iMovie. So much so that about a year back, I presented this Google Slide during a Speed Geeking session at my previous school.  Have a look! 

I’ve have used videos in which I’ve created from Filmora in the classroom on multiple occasions. Whether it is for reflection, assessments, or simply to celebrate and document learning,  the use of videos have always been a cornerstone of my teaching practice.  This one, which has already been shared on Youtube,  was a way for me to document our EY inquiry into making paper.


The other video below was shown at a Primary School assembly. Its purpose was to emphasize the concept of perspective by showcasing what it “a day in the life” of an early years student looks like. 


The Timelapse video below showcases an example of some of the large ongoing projects that my preschoolers took on during our inquiry into outdoor learning spaces.


My most recent video was created earlier this week.  Its purpose was to celebrate Multi-cultural Day and the diversity of my Kindergarten students at UWC Thailand. 

I plan to upload this video onto SeeSaw to show parents and use it as a reflection piece to show students once they return from mid-term break.

No matter the purpose, images, and videos to me have always felt like the most authentic mediums for showcasing and representing student learning. It’s great for assessments, reflections, and provocations. When the controls are handed over to the students, creativity, student voice, and a plethora of digital skills ensue.


Final Wonderings

With all of the excellent and innovating ways teachers are using videos in the classroom,  with the likes of Flipgrid, SeeSaw, Bookcreator & Youtube,  I’m curious to know what ways you embed and promote the use videos to enhance learning in your classroom?

Also, are you on team iMovie or do you have another personal favorite when it comes to video editing software?

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

COETAIL Course 2: Continental Connections

Course two is in the books or should I say in the blogs. Our group of international educators overcame both time and space as we collectively crosschecked and improved a Responsible Use Agreements for my current school UWC Thailand.  My awesome team included Coetail members Carolin Escobar currently living in the USA and Kehri Magalad currently living in Qatar.  We were also joined by Maria José Terán, a friend of Carolin’s and current tech coach at Carolin’s school.  Maria currently works out of Ecuador and happily linked up with us to offer her professional perspective and expertise.  Our group Google Hangout was an overall success, allowing four different people from four different countries, across a 12-hour time zone, to share and discuss ideas in real time. It was there that the seeds for our RUP idea were planted. We then played to our strengths and took ownership of different parts of the project, communicating through Twitter and in the comments of our Google Docs.

Looking back, I think might have benefited from using a social collaboration tool such as Whatapps or Viber but, we pulled it nonetheless.

Our Google Hangout

After some digging, I found that there are quite a few different platforms beyond Whatapps that we could have used to communicate. Here are 10  great social collaboration alternatives to WhatsApp.


RUP Background Information

Regarding the RUP, the document itself was a bit dated and not really owned by the students.  This year,  I have been tasked with reviewing and refining many of the UWCT documents that pertain to digital citizenship.

As a Kindergarten teacher, the first thing I noticed was they were left off of this document.  We decided to add them to this document because we all agreed that they are more than capable of understanding how to take care of equipment. Furthermore, after weeks of digital citizenship and footprint readings, blog posts and TED Talks, I realized how important it is to be ready to equip and empower young learners with technology that’s not being micromanaged.

In addition, I believe that it’s important to teach Digital Citizenship and responsible use at this age level especially at my school if we want to create any sense of vertical alignment in our primary school.

We also noticed that within the document there is also no mention of privacy. Safety is mentioned but there is nothing pertaining to privacy. This is another reason why we should have ISTE and Common Sense as our backbone, ensuring that we do not have any other oversights.  You’ll notice on our RUP that we have used the ISTE standard 3a, 3b, 3c, & 3d, all which fall under the category of digital citizenship.

 

Because we had many chats on students ownership, we also added a digital citizenship e-book for grades K-2. This interactive e-book will help engage our younger learners and keep the focus on digital citizenship in a developmentally appropriate way.

The eBook could easily be shared and personalized through a QR code, and or downloaded off of the web. This would be especially helpful if teachers wanted to replace the images with images of their own student’s in action, modeling how to be safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens.


Collaborating on this project was a wonderful learning experience. Using Google docs and slides to collaborate really helped us all create, communicate, and house all of our progress along the way. Gsuite for education continues to provide everyone with functional and user-friendly tools. Although time was against us, Google helped us connect globally and create this great cross-continental collaborative project.

The Internet is…

an information superhighway

a web

a network

a global system

a verb

a platform

Whatever term you choose to associate it with, there’s no denying the internet has changed the way we communicate, behave, and learn.

John Stewart, Comedian-writer and former host of the daily show,  once proclaimed that  “The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”

It wasn’t until reading  Jeff’s Utech’s book, Reach, where I realized the symbiotic relationship between the user and the web or, in John Stewart’s case the notes and the note takers.  The more you work it, the more it works for you. Take Twitter for example, in an instance, you can throw out a question or idea to your PLN and receive global perspectives feeding back to you instantaneously. Social media, although quite prominent, isn’t the be all and end of the internet but, it has certainly changed the landscape. How about others like Yelp, Uber, or Amazon. All of these sites/apps depend on a user-generated rating based system in order to operate effectively. The ability we have as a global contributor, wielding that kind of power and influence is a massive responsibility that we’re not even fully aware of.  In fact, many of us daily do more than just participate with the web on a daily basis. Perhaps, are you going on holiday soon? How many of you have already checked the reviews on Trip Advisor before you booking that hotel or tour? If you are beyond the participatory stage of the web perhaps you’ve even contributed by writing a review, discussing your approval or loathing of a certain establishment. Either way, once you move into the role of active contributor you shape the overall user experience for everyone, better or worse.  

The truth is the internet is just made up of our collective consciousness, resources, and information. It’s our involvement and our role in the equation that makes work. It takes both creators and consumers to keep the net thriving. This was evident nearly a decade ago when on December 13, 2006, Time Magazine named its person of the year “You”. http://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/2006/1101061225_400.jpg

Now think about how much more relevant that nomination seems after a decade of social media, interactive sites and the rise of mobile devices, personalizing and customizing our individual online experience. Keep in mind that there is no moderator overseeing all. Where we go as a global society so goes the internet. It’s also part of our role to keep it kind, factual, and productive.  An often overlooked part of our role, that seems to be reflective our current times. Speaking of being reflective, let’s have a look back at what one minute on the internet in 2017 looks like.


The Internet is… an opportunity for change 

The video, Extracurricular Empowerment, showcases how powerful of a change agent the internet can. Martha and people all over the world like her understand how to harness and leverage this power and make it work for them. For every Martha, there are hundreds of other students that have one way or another found their voice and audience on the web.  It’s not out of the question for today’s digital natives to want to aspire to be Youtubers. After all,  Hollywood movie stars are so 2016, and the allure of influences of megastars like Casey Neistat and Fun for Louis make it look cool and easy. 

Here are11 of the biggest web changes in the last 11 years.

These days it’s easier than ever to start producing content, attract an audience and then continue the cycle while watching your subscriber count grow. Our students know this? Do we as teachers know that they know this? Do we allow for them to flourish under these conditions? How does your school react to and cater to students as digital change agents?  Do they tighten up the parameters like initial reaction of Martha’s school board or let them harness the opportunity?   Here are twenty-five other ways to leverage the power of the internet and start creating!


The Internet is…. a level playing field.

Not only does the internet level the playing field, It gives us the ball and expects us to run with it. Martha Payne did exactly that. How will you empower your students to do so?  How do you build good skills for our students to turn into children like Martha? 

The truth is we still don’t know the full magnitude of the internet’s untapped potential. Eric Schmidt from Google stated, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”


Final Wonderings: The internet will be….?

Will the internet continue to remain a level playing field or will more and more countries follow suit by enacting their own “Great Fire Wall” If you’re from the USA, you’re probably wondering what the future entails with the looming FCC regulations. We’ve seen massive changes within the internet since that Time magazine cover, what’s next?  What will the internet be in 20 years, 50 years?  How do you prepare your students for what’s next or as Schmidt’s said “the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”..? 

Connect Safely

In this brave new digital world, where nearly anything can be instantly accessed, what can you do to ensure you are connecting safely and protecting your privacy?

Here are just a few things you can do about it.

  1. Think Before You Post
  2. Be Aware that on the Internet, “Free” Still Comes with a Price
  3. Clean up your Digital Footprint 
  4. Seek out Resources and Continue to Educate Yourself

Speaking of resources, the following playlist, titled Protect, was created by @teachwatts and centers around privacy and internet safety.

Have a look, below.


Adopting the Mindset & Maintaining Personal Protection

In addition to students and teachers maintain a healthy level of digital safety awareness it’s important for the parents to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age. After flipping through the COETAIL Course 2 Flipboard, I came across two articles that unraveled misconceptions and myths about internet safety, particularly on social media. The first article, What Social Media and the selfie Generation did to my teenage daughter,  written by Candice Curry, provides the perspective of a concerned parent who comes to realize some of the benefits of sharing, once one assumes positive intent. The article, as well as the mother’s change in attitude towards social media, is surmised with this phrase, “These are good kids doing their best to navigate through a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens.”  

She’s right, too.

I honestly couldn’t imagine what it must be like growing up as an impressionable teenager with the looming presence of social media around 24/7.

 The second article breaks down myths about kids internet safety and once again showcases that the positives outweigh the negatives, once one is educated enough to take the proper precautions. Once teachers and parents are educated than the misconceptions can start to unravel.  Changing one’s attitude about students on social media is just the beginning, and dare I say only half the battle.  Once the perception is changed the level of awareness towards one online safety should be reviewed and scrutinized often. 

What I mean is that maintaining personal protection is a mindset and teachers need to adopt, model, and instill this paradigm shift into their own teaching and learning within their classroom.  Parents do too. This communal effort that brings about positive consistency, knowledge, and strategies, will help our children as they navigate their own digital journey. The following ISTE standard for educators lays it out in a clear and concise way, while at the same time promoting the critical thinking skills needed in order to embrace the mindset of digital safety and security.

 

3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency. 

We must remember that this mindset, like technology, will grow, change and require constant upkeep.  As potential digital threats such as hacking, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware continue to evolve, so should our critical thinking skills and level of awareness. One might feel overwhelmed by this notion but if we continue to share and look out for each other like the article about Social Media describes, then we will be about to protect each other from the potential pitfalls out there on the web. We should assume positive intent and take a communal approach to being vigilant and looking out for another so that we are educated and equipped to step confidently and connect safely in the digital world.

 


Final Wonderings
With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

 Is self-selecting into Big Data unavoidable? The article from the Guardian, When Data gets creepy, is heavy albeit a must-read for those wondering about the responsibility, or lack thereof, that internet companies have with the handling of our personal information.  When it comes to maintaining that healthy awareness of one’s privacy and responsible use, we must not lose focus on those who create the “Terms and Conditions” in which we self-select into.  How do we as educators seek transparency from these big data companies so that we can ensure that they too act ethically,  responsibly, and follow their own acceptable use policies? 

 

@NicholasKGarvin 

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?