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

Professionally Navigating Social Media

What do you know about your own digital footprint?”

“Have you ever reflected on the imprints you left behind?

These are the questions that we need to be asking both students and teachers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital native or not, the physical realm and the digital realm have become so interwoven that everyone these days has a digital footprint. Technology and the radical social changes that come attached to it have completely changed our everyday lives. Social media and technology, whether you like it or not, have completely changed the way we interact with each other. The smartphone has replaced the camera. Cloud-based storage has replaced photo albums. You may not realize it but, you definitely have some left some sort imprint out there on the web. Don’t believe me, just have a look at this outrageous snippet from Business Insider  


That’s right. An estimated 120 billion photos will be taken in 2017 and a mere 10 % of them will be taken by a digital camera. 89.7% will be taken by a device that is most likely linked to social media. That’s a lot of potential uploads.  Keep in mind that this is just data pertaining to photos, it does not even account for the rest of one’s digital footprint such as emails, texts, forums, etc.

We’ve have agreed to trade-off our personal privacy and information for convenience, comfort, and entertainment. That die has already been cast. What we now must do now is self-reflect on the type of imprints we as educators have left behind and help others understand the importance and impact of their footprints from here on out.


A Professional Presence

In 2017 a  digital presence will certainly help aid you in attaining a job. Understand, however, that if left uncheck and uncared for it can at the same time lead to your future endeavors. An article from the Irish Independent, titled, Why your digital footprint could ruin your career, isn’t intended to be a scare tactic. It’s more of a wake-up call, bringing to light the awareness of the shifting guidelines revolving around our privacy our, digital choices, and real-life repercussions.

I know that I’ve gotten many interviews and at least one job partly because of my professional digital footprint. The interview mentioned looking at the contents of my professional teaching blog and my twitter. 
The following infographic below provides an interesting look into how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates.

In my last blog, I linked an article that focused on cleaning up your digital footprint.  Perhaps for teachers unsure of there’s, this would be a good place to start in order to develop and maintain one’s professional presence.


A Healthy Dose of Digital Awareness

 

Student’s should be taught about cyber ethics and netiquette from an early age just like they are taught about diet and well-being. I currently do it with my Kindergarten students.  I think it’s important that we look at maintaining personal protection and privacy the same way we look after our physical selves.  It is this mindset that parents, students, and teachers need to adopt. It’s essential that teachers maintain a healthy dose of digital safety awareness. It’s equally important for our students to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age and how choosing to create a negative or unhealthy web persona could potentially jeopardize their future. More modeling from the top down, (admin to teachers, parents to students and even student to student), will help us all instill this paradigm shift into our own teaching and learning journeys, in and outside of the classroom.

Some teachers might view the digital realm and the physical world as two separate entities, but to the children and students who have grown up as digital natives, it’s all one.  The line between our personal self and our social media/ avatars is so strong that, Elon Musk claimed that we’re already cyborgs. Have a look at his entire chat from the 2016 Code Conference below


Final Wondering: With Great Power comes great (global) responsibility…

In that same video clip from the 2016 Code Conference, Elon Musk also mentioned that “We have more power than the president of the united states had 20 years ago.”  Is it not our civic duty to educate and encourage the next generation of web users?   Would it be wise to embedding #digcit classes into the curriculum like social & emotional learning, our essential agreements, and other approaches to learning?  Afterall, we need to teach students to become good citizens first and foremost. How many of you have thought about tieing it into the Global Goals for sustainable development?? If our goal as teachers is to make sure we leave the future of the world in the hands of good human beings then we need to start holding our digital footprint into the same high esteem as we hold our carbon footprint.  My final visual aid is from a Twitter chat last week, summing up my thoughts on weaving the real and digital world together with the same moral fabric. 

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