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!!

Techs & Balances

“Yes, kids love technology, but they also love legos, scented markers, handstands, books and mud puddles. It’s all about balance.”   – K.G. 1st Grade Teacher 


In my classroom, there are eight Ipads making it a 2:1 student to iPad ratio. Still with a 2:1 ratio it’s important to be aware of the challenges of unnecessary use and it’s pivotal that I explicitly stress a balance early on.  As a Kindergarten teacher, I understand that the majority of my students are using an iPad for learning for the first their very first time.  My job as an educator when it pertains to rolling out these digital devices relies upon, the emphasis on balance, the promotion of ownership and shared responsibility,  and finally, deliberate and delicate approach dedicated to unraveling the misconceptions with both students and parents.

Each our classroom iPads have two student’s names stickered onto the back. The Ipads are enclosed in Kinder friendly and Kinder proof colored coded cases. Even with a 2:1 ratio, the students are still able to develop a sense of ownership over their devices. For starters, they have agreed to all signed the responsible use agreement / Ipad essential agreement that we came up with at the beginning of the year, agreeing to be respectful, responsible. In additioneach student also has their own personal folder on their device. That folder is used for them to store their iTime work.

I think the 2:1 ratio works well with this age group for two reasons. First, it promotes group work when we are researching, recording, collecting evidence, or helping one another on big projects.  Second, when doing independent work, such as when they add content to their individual iTime folders, it ensures that only a portion of them are handling iPads for a short period of time. These folders, saved on the iPad, allow my students preserve their work and showcase the progress of their passion projects over an extended period of time. Individual iTime folders also provide them have more opportunities to have a voice in what and how they learn.

Although it’s not 1:1 in my classroom Karen Kane 41 Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Your 1:1 Classroom still had some excellent takeaways. Specifically,  Reorganize your classroom space and flipping lessons.  


Mindful Moderation & Managment

When it comes moderation both the age of my students and the 2:1 ratio are both in my favor, however, real management has to be built over time. At the beginning of the year, I emphasized the importance of ensuring that my students understand that their time on the iPad is for learning purposes only. It has been explicitly stated in class over and over that the iPad is for creating, recording, and researching.  Apps on our iPad are only centered around open-ended creation tools such as Book Creator. Recordings are done through the use of SeeSaw or the camera app. Research is done by using Google Voice and asking questions through Google’s mobile app.  What they might do with an iPad at home is vastly different then what they do with them here. This took some time to explain and enforce as due to their age, many of my students have never used an iPad in this way before.  This works in my favor but it also extremely vital that as a role model, and one who might be introducing this tool for the first time in their lives, that I promote positive and purposeful use.

At this age, it’s equally important to Educate the parents for the same reasons.  By getting involved with events such as  Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Mornings or informal Q & A workshops like Kim Cofino mentions in her post Living with Laptops from YIS,  you get everyone on the same page and alleviate any misconceptions and fears about passive screen time. Parents can help model similar structures and limits at home, reinforcing that home-school connection. As educators, we can introduce them to resources from Common Sense Media.  They have an excellent site that has a whole section on parenting in the digital age.  The following snippet, taken from the article, “Will my child be left behind if he/ she doesn’t use technology?”, sums up how well Common Sense does in assisting and alleviating parental concerns.

“Whether kids are no-tech by choice or circumstance, it’s important that all kids are prepared for success in a technology-filled world. Even if you prefer a tech-light environment, you can still talk to your kids about healthy media habits, such as balancing screen time, and digital citizenship, such as being nice to people online

By setting the tone early on for both parents and students  I’m ensuring that everyone involved a sense of shared ownership and responsibility, thus supporting learning both on — and off — the device. 


Tech Breaks

Zooming out a bit from my Kindergarten lens, I realize that this is an issue that can potentially affect students at all grade levels. In all actuality, it’s probably a lot easier to curb the tech obsession with early years and lower primary students than it is for teens in secondary school.

“Today’s note passing is text messages.”  writes  Larry D. Rosen   in his article, The Amazing Power of “Tech Breaks ”  Later in his piece, Larry goes on to list a staggering fact from the Nielsen Company, “the average teen sends and receives 3,705 text messages per month, which translates to about 10 per waking non-school hour or about one every 6 minutes.”  Now, I’m not sure how many notes you wrote and passed in high school, but that statement sounds a bit excessive.  Rosen goes on to cite a national report by the Pew Internet and American Life  Project found.  stating that 58% of teens whose school bans cell phones have sent a text during class and 43% send texts at least once a day during class

As a member of the school’s technology committee, we have discussed the idea of rolling out Tech-Free Zones across our campus and unplugged time throughout the day. There have been talks to introduce and implement these new boundaries across the whole school at the beginning of the next academic year. Wondering now about similar resistance and backlash like the stats state above, I’m now leaning towards another unique strategy to curb teen tech enthusiasm.  Taken from the NPR article titled,  “Should College Professor GIve “Tech Breaks” in Class? , the specific method mentioned brings a whole new meaning to the term “tech break.” In this case, students are given 1-minute breaks to check in (or check out) on their mobile device. It’s certainly an interesting approach and one I’d like to run by tech committee colleagues.

It may seem radical at first but by allocating specific time for students to get their tech fix, the teacher is actually making a point to harness student attention on his watch, placing value on both his time and his students.  Periodic breaks seem to be far more reasonable then shaming or micromanaging.  If delivered consistently, I could really see this helping to maintain student focus. It’s a deal that pays respect to both parties and acknowledges the ever persistent elephant in the room.


Balancing Brain Evolution & The Digital Revolution

The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls attention, interest, motivation, and decision-making, does not fully develop until age 25. Therefore there’s still a major responsibility for teachers, teens, and parents to remain mindful of self-regulation as well as the impact that too much tech can have on the developing brains.  The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health published a manuscript titledThe Digital Revolution and Adolescent Brain Evolution which goes into great detail on consequences and implications for adolescents in the digital age. It’s well worth the read and applicable to all of us.

Focused attention and participation as an age-old problem in Education, the inclusive of digital devices have certainly raised the stakes. Our fast-paced culture and ever-increasing infatuation with productivity haven’t helped either.  Implementing positive habits at a young age may be effective in the early years but as children, technology, and society continue to develop and change, we must aim for a respectful balance that addresses our needs and pays tribute to a shared responsibility to maintain a human to human connection.


Final Wonderings?

Are “Tech Breaks” the antidote for teens?

This week’s final wondering is a call back to a question from a #KchatAP that I recently hosted on Twitter.


 

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

“Learn to teach like Chuck Berry plays guitar.”

The title of this post was quoted by Sonny Magana during his Youtube video explaining the T3 Framework. It stuck with me and instantly made me a fan of Magana’s 3 T’s, Translational, Transformation, and Transcendent. It’s an excellent concept and his framework makes up a great hierarchy which showcases how we can use technology to enhance student learning.  In the past, I’ve only ever used The SAMR Model but, after spending some time looking at both the TPACK and T3 Framework I became enticed and a bit overwhelmed, wondering if one had any specific advantages over the other.  Often in education, one can get easily acronym’ed to death.

So the question now becomes, what do you with all the tools to use to evaluate using technology (which is also a tool), to enhance student learning?

Let’s have a quick look at each one of our top three tech integration models and try to decide.

Here’s Ruben Puentedura, creator of SAMR

Now’s here’s TPACK explained in 2 minutes.

Finally, here’s a video of The T3 Framework for Innovation in Education explained in 5 minutes.

Notice anything?  All three evaluation tools use the sum of their parts to take learner deeper, moving students from consumers to prosumers and from passive participators to creators and disruptive innovators.  All three of these tools represent the same paradigm shift. Take your pick but understand that it’s the mindset that really matters.


Whats in a name?

So, thinking about the overarching idea we want to achieve when using technology in the classroom, I couldn’t help but get hung up on how many different ways we attempt to communicate the same thing. That thought brought me back to my school’s latest technology committee meeting where our focus mainly centered on us currently searching for the right name to coin our iPad program.  Our philosophy is sound as is our purpose and procedures. We believe in SAMR, embrace the ISTE standards, and have aligned our curriculum with Common Sense Media, we just don’t have that one name to sum it all up nicely.  As we all went back to the drawing board after our latest unsuccessful attempt,  I couldn’t help but zoom out and think, “What’s in a name?” Now I didn’t exactly have Shakespear on the mind when reflecting on this, but instead, the abundance of acronyms already floating around in education today.

Upon further reflection, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the tech integration tools have a massive commonality. SAMR & TPACK and even T3, provide teachers with ways enhance learning in with technology. Although they’re different models, they all provide a roadmap for innovation and highlight the same big ideas,

promote student agency,

foster creativity and collaboration

and transform student learning.

Keeping learning at the forefront of the conversation allows us to view technology as a skill much like  Jeff Utech mentions in his blog post.

” If we view technology as a skill, then we can look at the skill students are learning through the use of technology.

Using the three higher order thinking skills, of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy,  create, evaluate, & analyze, below are some of the things I like to encourage my students to do when using technology:

  • Create connections locally & globally to collaborate & give and receive feedback
  • To become prosumers
  • Produce content for an authentic audience
  • Be media and digitally literate by critically navigating and interacting in the digital realm.
  • Embody the ISTE Standards for Students

Edutopia does a wonderful job summing this up in this video.


“Roll Over Beethoven”

It was way back in September, during course one,  when I was first introduced to Mark Pernsky’s article,  Shaping Tech for the Classroom.  I wrote about what he calls, “enlightened trial and error”, “dabbling”, & “doing old things in new ways.” You can go back and have a look at that post here.

Press Start : Digital Citizenship in Kindergarten

In Pernsky’s article, he lays the groundwork for his views of technology in the classroom in his four-step process

  • Dabbling.
  • Doing old things in old ways.
  • Doing old things in new ways.
  • Doing new things in new ways.

Although I wasn’t around to witness it, this process seems to mirror exactly what Chuck Berry did with his guitar when he turned the music industry upside in the 1950’s. Much of what he did is nicely summarized in this article “What Chuck Berry Can Teach Us about Innovation”  by Jim McCarthy. I think it’s safe to say that Chuck Berry was a disruptive innovator. 

Just to be sure, let’s also cross-check them with those skills/ real life applications I listed above.

  • Seek connections locally, and globally to collaborate, give and receive feedback

 Chuck learned from and borrowed from others, such as T-Bone Walker. He sought out other successful people in his industry for help and advice, specifically Muddy Waters and Leonard Chess of Chess Records. 

  • To become prosumers

He created a hybrid from various influences, mixing blues and country music with an uptempo electrifying guitar sound that couldn’t describe.  He experimented with different products and pivoted into new markets – think of it as modern day “app-smashing.” 

  • To have an authentic audience

He knew his audience — recognizing trends and reflecting the spirit of his times

  • Be media and digitally literate

He creatively used new technology, the electric guitar.  See below.

Sadly, Chuck Berry died a year ago today, on March 18, 2017, but his spirit lives on inside every disruptive innovator.  So when I think about what I want my students to achieve when using technology in the classroom, yeah I think of all the acronyms, but mostly I think about redefinition, transformation, creativity and Chuck Berry.

Perhaps we should all learn to teach like Chuck Berry plays guitar.

 


Final Wonderings?

How do you promote disruptive innovation in your classroom?

What are the challenges raised by teaching using SAMR , TPACK, or T3 as a tool for integrating technology?

What does technology integration look like in your classroom?

 

 

 

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.”..? 

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. 

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?


Purposeful Pedagogy with Tech as a Tool

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

Know your purpose

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

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

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

Using Technology Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re Innovating 

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

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

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

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

Final Wonderings?

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

@NicholasKGarvin