Monthly Archives: October 2015

Course 1 Final Project: Who Are YOU?

That’s the question I am asking my students. Who are YOU? With our school theme this year, You, Me, Community!, I thought that incorporating a project that allows my students to answer this very question was fitting. AND the end is near…for Course 1, that is! It went by very fast, and here I am presenting my Course 1 Final Project on my blog ūüôā

Some Background

For my Final Project, I decided to use a unit that I have previously used at another school. I have been planning on revamping this unit and using it at my current school, and now, I finally had a chance to do just that! This unit plan has been designed for a grade 9 Integrated Science course specifically the chemistry portion of the course. The main topic is the periodic table, and the title of this unit is: Chemical Identity Mask Project. In short, my students will create a physical mask that is representative of themselves (answering the question, Who Are YOU?) AND an element from the periodic table, as well as an artist statement video that communicates their chemical identity. Here are some examples from my previous school:

Element Fluorine
Element Helium
Element Tungsten
Element Potassium

Modifications

Upon the revamp of this unit, I have slightly modified the steps leading up to the creation of the mask to allow for increased understanding of those steps and how they relate to the overall project. I have also added in two crucial technology components. The first technology component is the use of a Google Doc for students to document and collaborate on their work, and for me, as the teacher, to more easily review their work, check for their understanding, and provide feedback as the project progresses. The second technology component is the creation of a video in order to communicate and share their artist statement.

My Learning in Course 1

This unit plan links to my learning in Course 1 in a number of ways. In Week 3, we learned about designing and adapting relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity. During that week, we were assigned to read 21 Things for the 21st Century Teacher, where these “21 Things” were outlined with important information and accompanying resources.¬†Google Docs was mentioned in two of the “Things” – cloud initiation and collaboration. I was able to easily and purposefully incorporate Google Docs into this unit plan to further promote student learning. And in Week 4, we learned that teaching and learning are changing with the introduction of new tools. During that week, we were assigned to read¬†Adopt and Adapt: Shaping Tech for the Classroom, and it briefly discussed how videos, like those found on YouTube, have become much more popular in the classroom in recent years. The use of videos in the classroom today is one way that teaching and learning are changing.¬†So, I decided to¬†have my students create a video as part of their project in order to communicate and share their understandings of the chemical elements on the periodic table with their peers while promoting student creativity.¬†

Course 1 has definitely influenced my attitude and mindset about using technology in the classroom. I can honestly say that I am moving from an educator that is using technology just for the sake of using it towards an educator that is trying to incorporate technology into her teaching practice in a more meaningful and productive manner. The use of Google Docs and video in my unit plan are a primary source of evidence of my mind shift.

Outcomes

When my students have completed this unit, I am hoping that they can identify with and make meaning of the periodic table, as well as make scientific connections between themselves and the world around them. This will (hopefully!) be evidenced in their chemical identity masks and artist statement videos. You can see my full unit plan below:

Final Reflection

I believe that my Final Project is not perfect and has the potential to be improved. It’s a work in progress, like everything in my life! But I also believe that this unit plan shows how I am attempting (and hopefully successfully!) to incorporate and implement technology use with my students in an authentic way. During this unit,¬†my students will be engaged with technology throughout their learning process. In future course final projects, I plan to implement the key theme from Week 5 of Course 1, which is: collaboration on a global scale is a key component of 21st century learning.

Enjoy my Final Project! I am still in the process of developing rubrics for this project – one for the mask and one for the video. If anyone has a particularly excellent rubric for a physical product (like a mask) or a video, please do share! I warmly welcome your comments below.

Feeling Like I Can’t Keep Up

Do you ever feel like you just can’t keep up? At work, at home, in the digital world, in life? Like. you are just barely keeping your head above water?

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That’s kind of how I feel right now, especially in the digital world. There’s blogs (both personal and for this class) to keep up with, Gmail (both personal and work), Google+, Facebook, Moodle, RSS readers, texting (Facebook messenger, Viber, WhatsApp), Twitter, etc. These are all apps that I could check on a daily basis. How do you keep up with it all? And why?

One of our readings for this week, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age, discusses the concept of participatory learning, which is described as,

“how we can learn together from one another’s skills.”

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I LOVE this concept, and it is something that I am constantly striving to incorporate into my teaching practice. Two of my colleagues and I recently presented a learning session to some other teachers at our school about group test taking, which exemplifies this concept of participatory learning. You can find our presentation in the following Google Slides.

We first learned about group test taking, also known as peer instruction, after watching a video (similar to the one below) about Eric Mazur in one of our faculty meetings. After watching the video, my first thought was, “GROUP test taking? No way! That’s cheating! I would never do that.” And not even a few months later, some of my colleagues and I are making it a regular practice in our classroom.

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In a nutshell, our students take an individual test first, and then they take that same test in a small group. The group test is a win-win – students that missed questions on the individual test learn from their mistakes immediately, and students that did well on the individual test get that confirmation as well as getting experience teaching this content to their peers. Their final score is a combination of the individual and group tests. This is an example of “cognitive surplus” – also mentioned in this week’s article,¬†Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age. Cognitive surplus as defined in the article is,

“more than the sum of the parts form of collaborative thinking that happens when groups think together online”

AWESOME! But back to my anxiety about feeling like I can’t keep up. I am going to be honest…I have yet to respond to ANY of the comments that have been posted to my COETAIL blog. Other people have so graciously spent their time to reply to my posts, give me feedback, and seem like they genuinely care about the questions I’ve posed on my blog. And it’s not that I don’t care, but I am feeling like my digital life is quite overwhelming. There is a lot of sharing, or collaborative learning, on the internet, but I’m feeling like I’m being more of a “lurker,” as referenced in an article from week one’s reading, Reach. A lurker is someone who is there just watching and learning.

I want my digital world to be more collaborative where I am getting information, but also responding to and sharing information with others like I require my students do in my classroom. This task of collaborating (not just taking information), sometimes, seems insurmountable.

Do you check and/or update your blogs, Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Moodle, RSS reader, texts, Twitter, etc. everyday, every week, every month? How do you manage it all? I need some serious tips! I warmly welcome your comments below.