Collaboration is the Key

Some rights reserved by isbes
Photo by Cheryl Terry

While reflecting on how I’m embedding technology in my classroom earlier in the COETAIL course, I realized that I needed to vamp up collaboration to fully transform learning. While we are striving for the transformation level , this continues to be a work in progress (So How Am I Doing?). My current goal is to form closer ties with both my grade level colleagues and other COETAIL teachers to foster collaboration, create authentic tasks and develop a wider audience for student work.

According to the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), to meet the transformation level collaboration should include these three areas:

  • Some rights reserved by isbes
    Photo credits to Emily Roth

    Students regularly use technology tools for collaboration, to work with peers and experts irrespective of time zone or physical distances.

  • The teacher seeks partnerships outside of the setting to allow students to access experts and peers in other locations, and encourages students to extend the use of collaborative technology tools in higher order learning activities that may not have been possible without the use of technology tools.
  • Technology tools in this setting connect to text, voice, and video chat applications and network access has sufficient bandwidth to support the use of these technologies for all students simultaneously.

Some rights reserved by isbes
Photo by Cheryl Terry

Over the past few months, and during our water inquiry unit (‘Water is Precious’ unit of inquiry), I have strived to build stronger connections with colleagues and global partners. Collaboration has been fostered in the following ways:

* Working on planning an inquiry unit, based on the principles of PYP, with Grade 4 teacher, Mike Jessee.

* Planning inquiry lessons in the ES Hub/library with ES Librarian, Nat Whitman.

* Planning technology lessons on copyright and choosing provocative images with Sarah Fleming, ES Technology Coach.

* Collaborating with Emily Roth’s Grade 4 class at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi via student blogs and comments. An attempt was also made to share Google docs, but firewalls and privacy issues prevented this.

* Skype- connecting with Emily Roth’s Grade 4 class at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi via Skype to learn more about geography, meet our buddies and ask questions related to water use and the cost of water around the world.

* Collaborating with Brad Thies at Seoul Foreign School via student blogs and comments.

* Using Twitter to connect- I have posted tweets for each of my professional blog posts in my Twitter account to continue to create a PLN. As Stacie Melhorn suggested in Twitter Tales, I prefer to use Twitter solely as a professional platform. I am also trialling the use of a class Twitter account. Currently our use of Twitter in class is sporadic. We’re not viewing tweets from other Grade 4/5 classes we’re connected with, but we have created a new ‘Twit’ monitor whose job it is to construct tweets.

* Sharing our learning in technology with parents and administrators via a class share of our Water Inquiry projects.

* Science Fair- Sharing our learning and our ‘Journey as a Scientist’ presentations with Grade 4 peers and parents.

Some rights reserved by isbes
Photo by Cheryl Terry

So far, we’ve come a long way toward developing relationships and collaborating with others. There’s still a long way to go, and using our local community and strengthening partnerships with Grade 4 peers in our own school, IS Bangkok, is the first step toward real collaboration.

All in all, collaboration is the key to success, both between teachers and between students. Starting small seems to ensure success. Developing strong relationships within a class and between classes in a school is the first step towards success.

 

Laptops- How Can We Manage Them?

Some rights reserved by geerlingguy

Laptops and using technology in the classroom are all the rage. But how can we effectively manage our technological devices ?

Creating an effective classroom climate where students feel safe and act respectfully and responsibly is the key to an effective classroom, and that’s no different when we use technology.  Clear routines are important for a classroom to run smoothly, and it’s even more important when we’re using expensive pieces of equipment. Classroom management doesn’t happen without forethought and a highly skilled teacher, therefore management of technology, and the implications that a connection to a global network brings to a classroom, also needs careful thought. I agree with Julie Bredy in Managing Laptops, that we can’t be too regimented and guard computers like prison guards. Respect and responsibility are the key to students internalizing how we treat others, as well as materials, in the classroom.

Setting up routines, especially when using technology, needs explicit instruction. At beginning of this school year, before first using laptops, we discussed both laptop etiquette and our school Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). We discussed the respectful, responsible and safe use of technology in considerable detail. Since then, my students have shown the utmost respect for our school technology devices, with small lapses from time to time over safely carrying the laptops and plugging them in to charge. Working with elementary students, I don’t appear to have the same problems middle or high school teachers face. As the students don’t have their ‘own’ computer which they take home, there are seldom problems with downloading or changing things on the laptops. They are able to personalize their blogs, rather than their laptops, and none have gone crazy with widgets so far. Later in the year we’ll focus on the effect of widgets on their blogs so students can choose appropriate widgets for their home page. My students have also been responsible about using only the websites they’re directed to in lessons. They feel comfortable suggesting other websites if they know of other appropriate sites and I’m happy to check these out with them.

GoAnimate.com: What+Does+Our+Acceptable+Use+Policy+Say%3F by cherylt

At the beginning of the year, students learn to ‘fist’ computers, closing the lid most of the way so that their attention is directed back to the lesson. They’re shown how to hold the laptops with two hands, and I am consistent in enforcing this rule, as suggested in What is the Most Important Thing? Monitoring student use of computers by moving around the room is a simple classroom management strategy, which should not be new to teachers. My students are also assigned computer numbers, so they know to always take same number, no matter which cart. This saves time logging in as each laptop registers the user and starts up more quickly.

In a respectful classroom, our classroom agreements apply to everyone and everything we do in the class, including the use of technology. That way, it’s clear that what’s said online is the same as saying it face to face. Online safety is emphasized regularly, referring back to the idea of YAPPY, and not sharing personal information. We discuss this throughout the year as new things occur, and I’m open with the students about the dilemna of what to share online. In the same way as I often model during reading or writing workshop, I often ‘think aloud’ about whether it’s appropriate to post certain information on our blogs. This was a recent topic of conversation when we considered publishing our ‘Who Am I?’ projects online. I explained to the students that although I was extremely impressed by the quality of the projects and would love to publish them, I’m afraid that the personal information (names of family members, interests, hobbies, favorite things) shared in the presentations will put their safety at risk. I’ve been frank with my students and let them know that I’m trying to find a solution and am talking to the technology coach and others with more expertise than me. In the meantime, they can share the YouTube codes with trusted friends but I have asked them not to share them on their personal blogs to protect their safety. Students may later be given the option of publishing them on their personal blogs with parental permission, but this is still an option I’m mulling over.

Photo by Cheryl Terry

Other management tools which have worked well in the classroom are sticking labels for regularly used websites (URLs, log in and password) in student agendas. I have created class accounts for PhotoPeach, VoiceThread, YouTube and other digital tools, and students have access to them, with the user name and password displayed in the class and in their agendas. I make it clear that while students have access to the class YouTube account and other class websites, and can embed videos in their blogs, they must have my permission to upload any videos to the account. Whenever we make videos on imovie in the class, for recording presentations, lessons, groupwork, plays or discussions, they are uploaded to YouTube. Wherever possible the students are given control of filming the presentations and sharing them via imovie on YouTube. The importance of protecting our safety is emphasized, by making it clear that the videos should be unlisted and shared only with those we trust.

When using the internet for research, I have been purposeful this year in facilitating with our ES librarian and showing the students safe search engines. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Mirror, Mirror, students need to learn to filter information and connect it to their prior knowledge. They need to be explicitly taught the skills to deal with the barrage of information in the modern world, as well as having opportunities for practicing autonomy, mastery, and purpose as recommended by Dan Pink in Drive. Explicitly teaching effective strategies to filter and synthesize information will help empower the students to research ideas and questions they’re interested in.

Using the inquiry model helps to facilitate student learning and foster motivation, as does providing choice in how to present a product (What is the Most Important Thing?, Drive). As Dean Groom suggests in 23 Things about Classroom Laptops creating a remix is a perfect way to motivate students and foster creativity. By making learning fun and authentic, student interest is intrinsic and therefore students are less likely to be tempted by the distractions luring all of us.

Some rights reserved by HikingArtist.com

I make use of the resources available in the school as much as possible, enlisting the support of our technology coach, Sarah Fleming, to help to teach important ideas. I also make use of tech experts in the class to help others, using the ‘Ask 3 before me’ motto. I could now make the tech expert roles more explicit by posting the names of tech experts for certain tech tools or processes. This is often only possible a few months into the school year, once students have been exposed to a number of tools and their expertise becomes clear. The role of the computer monitor also needs to be reinforced, ensuring that computers are plugged in to charge, other laptop carts are returned on time and carts are plugged in when move from room to room.

Explicitly structuring lessons on how to write quality blog posts and quality comments makes blogging purposeful. This is again more powerful with support from our technology coach, and is often restricted by time and access to computer carts. Setting up an agreed schedule with a grade level colleague has helped ensure that I have access to 2 laptop carts at certain times of the day. As I am then without access to computers at other times, I have had to be flexible and creative in juggling my schedule. As I begin to use laptops more and more in lessons and for workshop rotations as the year goes on, flexibility will be key. Management routines will also need to be clearer and tighter when using laptops in workshop stations to help transitions to work more effectively. Keeping the computers logged on and making the expectations clear that students should simply log out or close the window they’re working on will help ease time lapses. To assist the quick set up and shut down of laptops, the tip from Classroom Management of Laptops to time the setting up of computers will help students to aim for a fast, safe and efficient start up and transition time. While I usually give a five minute and then a 1-2 minute warning of time remaining in the lesson or workshop station, Rock Hudson, gave a useful tip to encourage students to be on the carpet ready to begin the next lesson with a 5 minute countdown.

While my students each have their own headphones and USB, management of these devices still requires some tightening. Students are aware that they should use their headphones when accessing a game or website with sound effects, but are often lax at returning the headsets to the basket appropriately. While my students are now in the habit of saving work on their USBs, they need more explicit instruction on effective use of USBs. At the beginning of next year, I will ensure that students are explicitly taught to drag files from their USB onto the desktop, rather than working directly off USBs, to avoid contamination issues. They require a clearer time check and more reminders in the last part of a lesson to get ready for the final save on their USB. Students also need to clear their desktop and get into the habit of deleting items from the desktop as they save them on their USB.

Some rights reserved by Kathy Cassidy

I often use the Smartboard to make expectations clear and to help students stay on task. I also model what effective use of technology looks like by using the Smartboard to create blog posts, embed Youtube videos and insert photos using creative commons with attributions. At this time of the year, after reasonable exposure to different technological tools and devices, the students are given an explicit overview of grade level expectations (What is the Most Important Thing?) and what they should have completed by the end of the lesson.

Google docs can be a tricky tool to manage, but guiding the use of the docs in the first lesson or two saves a lot of misunderstandings. Demonstrating the most efficient ways to log in, share work with the teacher (creating a folder which is then shared) and share docs with their writing partner or peer-editor helps to set up systems which will continue throughout the year. Restricting the number of people they share their docs with is a good first step, which can then be expanded as the year goes on. I’d now love my class to share their writing with a wider audience, including their grade level peers and global connections. I’ll also make the expectation clear that if a piece of work is shared with you, you should then comment on it. As we’re still in the beginning stages of using Google docs effectively, we’ll need to focus on making constructive comments and giving positive feedback. While my students are now skilled at giving specific oral feedback, they need more explicit instruction on giving specific and useful written feedback to their peers. Out of respect for their partners, my students will then be responsible for reading their comments and taking note of their advice. While it is ultimately their choice whether or not to make changes, many students require explicit instruction on how to proof read their work and make improvements to their writing, and they should be aware that this process is important to become an effective writer.

Students should be taught to be flexible and smart when using technology, and be aware that the school network can be slow or unreliable at times. We generally have a backup plan and many students will take out books if their computer is slow to start up or connect to the network. Students should also be aware of backing up their work, saving often. We all learn the hard way if we lose work. Hester’s idea of giving a warmup problem or reviewing homework while computers are starting up would also help us to use time more efficiently (You got to move it move it). What’s important is always to have an alternate plan, rather than solely relying on technology. Planning work before using the computer, such as using a graphic organizer or storyboard, can help us all make better use of our time and create a more effective product, as encouraged by Jeff Utecht when designing a movie or presentation.

Using technology isn’t easy, and it’s not foolproof, but guiding students on how to use it safely, responsibly and respectfully is a great way to ensure that students can get the best out of the technological devices at their fingertips.

Mirror, Mirror…

What is the future of education?

Some rights reserved by giulia.forsythe

Who knows what the future will hold? In my short(ish) lifetime so much has changed and yet it seems the world is speeding up. So what will it look like in 25 years? Or even 5 years? 10? That’s what we need to prepare our students for. I don’t know how it will look, but as states in Preparing for the Future, I do know that it will change, and drastically.

How can we prepare our students for the future?

Constructivism is a key focus in my class and in my school, yet now it seems that we must go one step further, towards connectivism. Our students need to be prepared for a continually changing world and have to be ready to deal with all the technology coming at them. With the rise of social networking and technology tools, students need to be armed with filters. They need to become problem solvers, evaluators, collaborators and communicators.

In Connectivism, George Siemens states that ‘Knowledge is growing exponentially’. To deal with this myriad of information, today’s students must not only effectively filter information, but they need to make connections between what they already know and the new information they gather. As Siemens so aptly puts it, ‘Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses’.

Some rights reserved by wlonline

Now our learners must be prepared for working in a variety of different fields as it’s not likely that they will enter a career that lasts a lifetime. In fact, many people now hold between 7 and 10 jobs in their lifetime. As Siemens states, ‘Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era,’ one that is likely to be more chaotic than stagnant. Our learners must be flexible, adaptable and able to synthesize and filter information.

We can prepare the students in our classes for an unpredictable future by arming them with a number of strategies, such as synthesizing and making connections. Those of us who are older, and no longer in elementary, middle or high school can be exposed through a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)  like COETAIL. A MOOC can help us connect and collaborate in the digital world, participate and network with others, and create authentic networks.

But motivating students and hooking them is still our number one goal as teachers. In order to gain the skills to survive and thrive in the modern world, students have to be engaged and ready to learn. Dan Pink, in Drive, has highlighted three key elements of true motivation—autonomy (self-direction), mastery, and purpose. Pink states, ‘The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world’.

Some rights reserved by Shira Golding

The elements of autonomy, mastery and purpose would encourage creativity, flexibility and challenge in students. But how could this look in the classroom? Karen Robb, in Is this the future of education?,  throws out an interesting idea: ‘Imagine if we allowed children in our class 20% of their school day to work on anything they wish as long as it was educational’.

Will administrators and the average teacher buy into this?

Would teachers be willing to take the risk and shift their thinking to the role of facilitator?

Would teachers feel comfortable shifting the power from the teacher to the student?

Does this resonate with me? Hell yes! I’m committed to developing self-directed learners in my classroom and am a true believer in giving students choice. Encouraging creativity and finding ways to motivate students to challenge themselves and achieve their potential is my ultimate goal. Now is the time to have the big discussion with the powers that be in my school who are currently working on developing International School Bangkok‘s ‘Guiding Principles 2020′. In a nutshell, connectivism, autonomy, mastery and purpose should be a key part of our ‘Guiding Principles 2020‘.

To Flip or Not To Flip?

How would reverse instruction look in my classroom?

Some rights reserved by Eva the Weaver

This is a tough question and one I’ve been muddling over for a while. To be completely honest, I’m hesitant to use reverse instruction in my classroom for several reasons:

**Using video does not provide opportunities for interaction, teachable moments, refining lessons in the moment to meet student needs, or working with partners. I just don’t find it as engaging for the students.

**While I can see a place for the flipped classroom in high school or even middle school classes, where students often have 1:1 laptops and are issued these for everyday use, I believe that it is less valuable in the elementary classroom. I am reluctant to assign more homework tasks on a regular basis that demand the use of computers as parents already have a hard enough job limiting screen time.

**Creating vodcasts to set up a flipped classroom takes time. As teachers, we’re already working hard to find balance, and producing videos demands even more time and planning. While I’m excited to embed technology into my classroom, there’s a fine line between what’s necessary and what’s too much. I don’t want my job to take over my life.

**Many vodcasts I have viewed are not appropriate for elementary students. In fact, when searching in the past for support materials, particularly to extend students, I have come across videos I hoped might support student learning, only to find them dry and boring. Personally, I find the videos on Khan Academy really dull. Perhaps I need to explore them more, but from what I’ve seen so far I’m just not motivated to!

Despite my hesitations, I’m willing to explore the idea of reverse instruction and see if it may have a place in my classroom.

So how can this look in an elementary classroom?

“The flipped approach is about empowering students with the skills needed to learn on their own, not empowering teachers with new ways to deliver content.” (Jeff Utecht: Flipped Learning- Going Beyond the Obvious)

Some rights reserved by JB London

In an inquiry based classroom, students are actively engaged and constructing their own learning. They’re involved in hands-on learning and collaborative problem solving much of the time, which encourages in Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s “Fisch Flip”. I don’t agree with using the flipped classroom as a standard homework protocol. Supporting learning with videos or web links has its place in both the classroom and as homework, but as Jeff states, it shouldn’t be just a new way to deliver content. So ‘Lectures at night, “homework” during the day,’ or the Fisch Flip, as Daniel Pink supports in Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US isn’t ideal in the elementary classroom. But student choice, which I’m a firm believer in, can be facilitated with the flipped classroom approach, as the teacher can really only be in one place at a time.

The Flipped Learning Blog helped me make sense of reverse instruction and how it could look in the elementary classroom. In their article Myth: Flipped Learning is All About the Videos, they reinforce that ‘Flipped Learning is NOT about the videos.  It is about the quality learning that will take place during your face-to-face time with your students’. Even more, in Flipping the Elementary Classroom, reverse instruction finally started to make sense. Here’s the key message:

Don’t flip a class:  Flip a lesson.

The Flipped Learning Blog encourages elementary teachers to:

**Think of the flipped class as another technique in your arsenal. 

**Start with a lesson that students struggle with and make a short video.  Ask yourself:  What do I constantly have to repeat or what do kids really need extra help on?

**Rather than assign the video as homework, make it a center in your classroom for students who struggle and/or need extra help.

**Ask yourself–Where should the video go in the instructional cycle?  The place for the video may not be the beginning of learning cycle but rather in the middle.  Flipped videos may be better suited as remediation and practice.

Some rights reserved by Justin Ornellas

So last week I trialed flipping a lesson, and decided to try integrating vodcasts into the class. To provide the students with some choice and give them an option to try new and creative math strategies, I created a number of blog posts to introduce multiplication strategies from around the world: Ready for a New Multiplication Strategy? This was just a little taste test for the students, but it helped me to visualize how vodcasts could look in my classroom.

I’m keen to now try vodcasts as a station in math workshop, using resources such as the Vodcasting Network to find appropriate videos for elementary students. I can see this as a great way to extend and enrich students, and also reteach ideas that some students found difficult. As they say, seeing or doing something in a variety of different ways can only help ideas to stick.

I’m now on the hunt for interesting and interactive vodcasts on 2D geometry. I’m happy to discover that there are a few good elementary videos out there, and I’ll be trialing this fractions vodcast to support some of the key ideas of fractions a little later in the year:

Thanks to Kevin Meadows and Flipped Learning Network for sharing their vodcasts. Who knows, perhaps reverse instruction will have a key place in my classroom in the near future.

So How Am I Doing?

What does technology integration look like in my classroom?

Some rights reserved by davemc500hats

Integrating technology in the classroom is a step-by-step process which not only develops according to teacher experience and confidence, but also the level of skills that the students bring to a task. As the year progresses, students are able to experiment with a number of tools to create products of a high standard. Once exposed to a number of technology tools, students can also choose the most effective tool to produce the product they desire.

As Boni Hamilton and the Stratford Board of Education state in What is Technology Integration?: ‘Technology Integration Integration is when classroom teachers use technology to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess, and remediate student mastery of curricular targets. Integration is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning—and always requires a classroom teacher’s participation. It cannot be legislated through curriculum guides nor will it happen spontaneously. Someone with vision—an administrator, a teacher, or a specialist—needs to model, encourage, and enable integration, but only a classroom teacher can integrate technology with content-area teaching’.

Some rights reserved by ianguest

Reflecting on how technology is integrated in my classroom, I’m happy with where we are, given the constraints of time, resources and time of the year. The SAMR Model aims to ‘enable teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of  achievement for students’. Using this model to evaluate our integration of technology this year, this is how we stand:

**At times, I am simply substituting writing with a technological tool, but I’m very conscious of this. Using Microsoft Word or Google Docs to publish writing has its place in the classroom, but by using text boxes, word art, spell check and other features of the tools, the level of learning is pushed to the augmentation level.

**We’re only just beginning to learn the full power of Google docs in my class, and throughout the year features of Google docs will be better utilized. At present the students are working at a basic modification level, sharing their work with the teacher, peer editors and writing partners. While they comment on each others’ work and give feedback, both positive and constructive, they still require guidance and a great deal more explicit teaching to use this feedback effectively to improve their work. By actively using feedback and sharing their work with a wider audience, including their blogs, they will be able to work more effectively at the modification level.

**By giving my students choice, such as in a recent ‘Who Am I?’ project, they were able to push themselves to the redefinition level and truly create products which were inconceivable without technology. As I have a 4th grade class, not everyone is at this level yet and it takes a great deal of scaffolding and explicit instruction to effectively use technology tools, but my students constantly surprise me. Wondering how to incorporate a mash-up into the final assessment of our current social studies unit on influence, I was inspired by a number of students who created a video mash-up showing who they are with a mixture of video, images, music and text. I now know that with these student ‘experts’ to help, and the aid of our ES technology coach, a mash-up will be achievable as a final product. This will truly be redefining their learning.

**We are often using tools such as PhotoPeach to communicate our ideas. By merging effective images with succinct text, the idea of digital literacy is truly developed. My students are beginning to gain an understanding of powerful images, leading towards the Zen image philosophy and redefinition. By sharing their creations on their personal blogs and building the audience of their blogs, they can then encourage feedback on their work.

**Use of experts to help facilitate learning and provide role models is still a work in progress. By using ideas from the Flat Classroom and utilizing the class blog and videos to teach new ideas, I can expand this. As we are only part-way into the school year, I believe that this can be a focus in pushing our learning and tapping into the resources that we have at our fingertips, both online and in our local community. In this way we can strive to redefine our learning

Some rights reserved by Rich_Lem

Analyzing a second model, the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), I discovered that the TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (reflective), authentic, and collaborative with five levels of technology integration (entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation).

Using the TIM model to reflect on technology integration in my classroom, I found:

**Technology is regularly infused into the classroom through the integration of choice activities and an emphasis on choosing the right tool for a task.

**Students are encouraged to collaborate, reflect and construct knowledge through the use of authentic tasks. Our constructivist approach to learning at IS Bangkok and focus on inquiry-based learning supports actively engaging learners. An emphasis on creating self-directed learners in the classroom and using backwards design in planning units also helps to support this.

**We are striving for the transformation level, but this is still a work in progress. As with the SAMR model, while we are collaborating with others it is still on a basic level. In previous years, I have collaborated with other classes around the world with varied success. It is now my goal to form closer ties with both my grade level colleagues and other COETAIL teachers to foster real collaboration, create authentic tasks and develop a wider audience for student work.

As stated in the Edutopia article, Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many, ‘Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process’. As the article suggests, our teaching must foster active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. That is now my goal, to transform and redefine our learning.

 

NETS- Whose Job Is It?

Whose job is it?

Whose responsibility is it to teach the NETs standards to students?

Some rights reserved by karlaredor

My idea of how to teach technology and how it should be integrated into the classroom have evolved over the nine years I’ve worked in international schools. At first, like in many schools, I relied on the expertize of technology experts who taught technology, not quite in isolation, but within the confines of a computer lab. Those days are long gone, and after dabbling with 1:1 tablets and laptop carts, I’m beginning to get a feel for how the true model of embedding standards and integrating technology should look. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m well on the way to teaching technology standards, not just tools. In an ever-changing world, we have to prepare our students for what’s yet to come in the 21st century. That means they have to learn the process, not simply a bunch of tools.

I’m still a learner, so though I can navigate my way around a number of tools and am able to embed technology into my programs, I rely on a number of resources. Embedding technology and targeting information literacy standards takes collaboration, so I am a true believer in teaming up with everyone who can lend a hand, including students. As Rock Hudson states in The NET Standards for Students, teachers, administrators, parents and students need to work together and take responsibility for teaching the NETs standards. For that reason, I make use of all the skill sets I have access to: Sarah Fleming, our ES Technology coach and Nat Whitman, our ES librarian, among them.

Some rights reserved by superkimbo

Visual literacy is all around us and is taking on an important role in the world today. For our learners to be successful, we have to arm them with the skills they need to survive in the digital world. As the American Association of School Librarian’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner (AASL) states, ‘To become independent learners, students must gain not only the skills but also the disposition to use those skills, along with an understanding of their own responsibilities and self-assessment strategies’. The NET Standards for Students builds on this, ‘Simply being able to use technology is no longer enough. Today’s students need to be able to use technology to analyze, learn, and explore’. In today’s classrooms, our role as teachers is to help students develop the traits of self-directed learners, as well as gain skills in high-level thinking and metacognition. Therefore, the NETS-S and AASL standards are merely asking us to continue developing the skills we focus on everyday in our classrooms, just embedding them in the digital world.

At International School Bangkok, our Technology and Information Literacy (TAIL) standards have been adapted from NETS-S and AASL to produce grade level standards (Grade 4 TAIL standards). While, ultimately, it’s our role as teachers to focus on the TAIL standards, there are a number of factors which would help the implementation of the standards. The most important is familiarization with the documents, as well as time to understand and plan as a team. I believe that schools and administrators have the responsibility to provide time to analyze and synthesize the standards in order to enable us to create units with authentic tasks which embed technology. Pulling in the resources available in the school, including coaches, librarians and technology resources, and familiarizing ourselves with what’s at our fingertips, will also help us aim for producing our ideal student:

  • An effective learner
  • An effective communicator
  • An effective creator
  • An effective collaborator
  • An ethical citizen

Preparing our students for the future is a team effort!

AUP- Course 2 Final Project

While the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP G4/5) at ISB still requires some refining, we have come to realize that our teaching of what the AUP actually means is more important to our students right now. As the students in Grades 3, 4 and 5 are using their own student blogs more often in the classroom and at home, and have access to student emails and Google docs, it has become clear that we need to revise the AUPs with the students and explicitly show them what safety, responsibility, respect and honesty online look like.

What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say? by cherylt on GoAnimate

Video Maker – Powered by GoAnimate.

Along with Jaclynn Mac, and with the assistance of Chrissy Hellyer, our Technology Learning Coach, and Tara Ethridge, our ES Librarian, we considered the needs of elementary school students at a variety of levels. While Grade 5 teachers and fellow coetailers, Stacie Melhorn and Sarah Fleming focused on simplifying the AUP, Chrissy and Tara used GoAnimate to address issues of acceptable use in Grades 2 and 3. Jaclynn and I chose to revise our AUPs with our grade levels, Kindergarten and Grade 4.

Currently in the upper elementary school, a number of breaches are occurring. Some of these include:

  • Students “posing” as other students (not accessing another’s account – but writing another’s name & using another’s blog URL & email address to “pose” as that student) (breech of 1.2)
  • Logging in as someone else (gained access to someone’s password & login) (breech of 1.2)
  • Use of copyright images all over the place (breech of 3.1)
  • Sending emails without a purpose (ie: hi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and nothing else) (breech of 4.8)
  • Using instant messaging,chat without teacher permission or misuse of chat and or instant message (breech of 4.7)
  • Deleting others work (files off the laptop or work off a gdoc) (breech of 1.1)
  • Changing the settings of laptops without teacher permission (breech of 2.2, 2.3 – although we have locked down the laptops more since these types of breeches)

In order to address these breaches and continue to develop collaborative partnerships within the elementary school, Jaclynn Mac and I decided that a Kindergarten-Grade 4 project would provide a great opportunity for Grade 4 students to help Kindergartners develop their knowledge of the Acceptable Use Policy while building on their own understanding of respect, responsibility, safety and honesty (see Course 2 Final Project for the Kindergarten process). Upon further discussion with Chrissy Hellyer and Tara Ethridge, GoAnimate appeared to be the perfect tool to make the project both fun and meaningful for the students.

A Kindergarten-Grade 4 collaborative project is, of course, one that requires thought, planning and careful organization. The project also had to be divided into several parts to address the AUP at both levels of the elementary school, ensure the students could evaluate and process the AUP and provide opportunities for collaboration.

Our first step was to review the AUP with each of our classes. While Jaclynn identified key parts of the Kindergarten AUP and provided her students the opportunity to create skits focusing on the main forms of technology used in KG, Tara Ethridge helped my class revise our AUP using a simplified Grade 2/3 version. I then created a GoAnimate video to sow the seed: What Does Our Acceptable Use Policy Say?

So, what’s next? In class, we will review the Grade 4 AUP. To give the students an opportunity to analyze, evaluate and understand the AUP, they will work in pairs to highlight the key ideas. They will then construct a Top 10 list of the ten most important ideas with their partner. Creating a storyboard for a GoAnimate video of one of the key ideas will complete the process.

This is an example of how their animated videos may look:

A Nasty Blog Message by cherylt on GoAnimate

Make Movie – Powered by GoAnimate.

After reflecting on the successes and challenges of the project, the Grade 4 students will consider how they can teach the process of creating a GoAnimate video with Kindergartners. This will not only help scaffold the process for the Kindergarten class, but it will make the AUP and creation of animated stories accessible to their age group. The students in 4 Terry will preview their buddies’ videoed skits and assist them in creating a storyboard for their animated movie. They’ll begin by transcribing the script of the skit, teasing out the action and content as appropriate.

In the final step, the collaborative groups will create their animated videos using GoAnimate. A final viewing will help to reinforce the main ideas of the AUP and showcase their creations. We hope that the extended process will allow students to use many of the steps of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and construct a sound understanding of our school’s Acceptable Use Policy.


Wonders of the Web

My use of the Web and blogs has escalated over the past few months as a direct result of the COETAIL course. While I had my own class blog and my students had created their own personal blogs as e-portfolios, neither had been used to its true potential. With guidance from Jeff Utecht in COETAIL course readings and the help of Chrissy Hellyer, our ES Technology Coach, I have stepped up my own blogging skills and those of my students. My most important learning was that I should be a mentor for my students and guide them in what a quality blog post looks like by using my own blog as an examplar.

Some rights reserved by Laughing Squid

While I’ve been using blogs as a learning tool over the past three years at the International School Bangkok, I’ve found it difficult to find the time to update our class blog. Now, by using the power of images or video, I am able to make quick posts with thought provoking questions. I’ve still got a long way to go but, boy has it made a difference in the quality of my students’ blogs.

My students and I are now aiming to make quality blog posts, using hyperlinks, asking questions to draw in readers and make connections to our learning. Our goal is to encourage our readers to comment and make our blog posts viewer friendly. By embedding YouTube videos and other digital products such as VoiceThread and Photo Peach our posts have become more visually appealing. We’re all hoping to connect more with our readers and create our Personal Learning Networks (PLN). By reading others’ blogs and commenting, we hope to build up our readers and share our thinking and creations globally. There are still many more people lurking on our blogs, myself included, but I’m hoping that over time we’ll all get better at leaving comments and connecting with our global friends.

Some rights reserved by Divergent Learner

Now, the next step is to continue to build our PLN. By connecting with fellow COETAILers, Emily Roth and Brad Thies, we hope to share our learning and connect with digital tools such as Twitter and Skype. Inspired by fellow COETAILer, Ben Sheridan, our aim is to create a PLN on Twitter to connect our classes in a similar vein to Sheridan’s Twitter project. A Skype call between our classes will also be a great way to follow up the top 10 lists of our class favorite reads we shared.

Right now, the world is our oyster. With so many inspired teachers involved in the COETAIL program, and great mentors such as Jeff Utecht and Chrissy Hellyer at our fingertips, we have unlimited opportunities to make global connections and collaborate.

Time is always our biggest challenge, and over the coming months I’ll be working on finding more effective ways to integrate technology into the classroom. Building PLNs, creating effective blogs that draw in readers and experimenting with new digital tools in the classroom to create global connections, are all on the agenda.


 


 

 

 

Staying Safe Online- Whose Responsibility is it?

Whose responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online?

As educators, it’s our role to promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions. Students need to be aware that their behavior and actions online have an impact on others, so we should guide them to make appropriate choices. Much of the online activity that students participate in takes place at home, however, so it’s important for parents to be informed as well. Together we must help both students and parents gain an awareness of the good, the bad and the ugly of the digital world.

Some rights reserved by FunnyBiz

Where is the first place I go for help on online safety and cyberbullying? No other than our fantastic Technology Coach, Chrissy Hellyer. At International School Bangkok, our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is clear. There is No Room For Tolerance. But detecting cyberbullying is no always easy, so it’s necessary to educate students on how bullying looks online and how they can deal with it.

In conjunction with the counselors, our technology coach helps students to understand online safety. In particular, Chrissy Hellyer likes to talk about YAPPY and SMART rules. This helps students understand what information is safe to share online and what we should keep private to protect ourselves. Professor Garfield seems to be a particularly fun character to help introduce the idea of cyberbullying.

Understanding and eradicating cyberbullying, however is not as simple as it seems. As Danah Boyd states in “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, “If we want to combat bullying, we need to start by understanding the underlying dynamics.” That’s where counselors need to be part of the process. Teens often desperately seek attention and enjoy drama. As Boyd continues, “Girls ostracize one another either because of personal collisions or in support of their friends’ dramas. They make each other miserable by spreading rumors or gossiping behind their back. Technology is employed in efforts to humiliate, deprecate, or isolate. The end result for girls tends to be verbal and emotional torment.” While boys interact in other ways, they too need to be aware of the power of their words.

Some rights reserved by AVG Technologies

While cyberbullying is a complicated issue to tackle, Boyd seems to hit the nail on the head. “Combating bullying is not going to be easy, but it’s definitely not going to happen if we don’t dive deep in the mess that underpins it and surrounds it. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life.” (“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers)

Digital citizenship should be actively taught, alongside online safety, but we should be building up students’ self esteem, and helping them to gain a sense of personal identity at the same time. Creating a positive digital footprint is an important part in this process, as is focusing on personal virtues. If students have a strong sense of right and wrong, and how to treat others in a positive way, then cyberbullying should only occur as isolated incidents.

As John Merrow states in Teaching kids to be ‘digital citizens’ (not just ‘digital natives’), “Because (students) are using technology to create and are enjoying the fruits of their labor, they will be, I believe, less likely to use technology’s power negatively. Strong in their own sense of self, they are less likely to feel the need to bully and cyber-bully others.”

 

 

 

Do You Have the Right to Use It?

How often have you seen students paste in images they’ve found on Google into projects? How about taking music from YouTube and inserting them into slideshows? Copyright and giving credit to the authors of work often go by the wayside in Asia and other parts of the developing world. But is this fair? What is our obligation as educators?

Some rights reserved by MikeBlogs

Since starting at the International School Bangkok, when I was first introduced to Compfight, I’ve encouraged students to use safe tools to search for images and give attributions (with a lot of support from our fantastic Technology Coach, Chrissy Hellyer). It is amazing to see how quickly most students catch onto this, how eloquently they can talk about copyright symbols and what they stand for, and how easily they can find and attribute images to enhance their work. This is ultimately the goal we should aim for as teachers, and we should advocate for fair use of media in the classroom.

This is not to say that everything goes 100% smoothly all the time. Some students take a long time to copy and paste attributions. Others lose documents and attributions. And of course there are always those who turn up to class with projects plastered with pictures taken straight from Google searches. Do I toss their work into the bin? Certainly not. But I do talk about my expectations and how I would like them to search for and cite the creator of images in the future.

What are the implications of this? Only that we should continue to talk about fair use of media in the classroom and instil the idea that we are using products that some people rely on for their livelihood. We may be in their position at some stage in our lives and do we want people taking our ideas and using them as their own? This is also the case for many of us who live in Asia or other parts of the world where Copyright laws are lax or don’t exist. It’s our job to inform students of their rights and responsibilities, and then encourage them to make informed decisions.

Some rights reserved by laihiu

As with Doug Johnson, my educational philosophy is that education is about teaching people to think rather than to believe. Johnson states that we also ‘need to help individual students arrive at personal comfort levels when using protective creative works’ (How We Teach Copyright).

This is also the case when using other forms of media, such as videos, music and clip art. YouTube is quick to take down videos which have used music without permission, and often this is just a genuine oversight on the part of the creator.

Creative Commons is the key to using images without infringing copyright laws. Creative Commons licences also give users the opportunity to use music, clip art and other forms of media with few complications. The only obligation is to check the Creative Commons licences, which often involve simply giving attributions for the images. Most often the authors also do not wish users to alter their work or make money from them either.

Other sites which provide links to Creative Commons media are Jamendo, for sources of copyright free music, the Open Clip Art Library, for accessible clip art, and SpinXpress for other forms of media.

In today’s age of technology, our access to digital tools and media is seemingly unlimited. But we do have the obligation to consider our use of digital media and give credit where it’s due. By using tools such as the Fair Use Evaluator, we can also assess our use of resources as educators in the classroom. Emphasizing the use of Creative Commons through sites such as Compfight or Wylio is the key to success with students. Informing students of the tools at their fingertips and their responsibilities as digital users will help all of us utilize the many resources available to us in the best possible way.