Dual Citizenship: What does it mean to be a Digital Citizen?

In our last online meeting for our ECMP455 class, we discussed various topics concerning the realm of technology and its use, for good or ill, in the classroom and in the world.  It seems to me that there are a lot of dangers with using technology and more specifically the internet.  But many people, when they see the evil that can occur because of the internet, are frightened and lump all of technology together, the good and the bad, which causes them to either restrict the use of it for themselves and their children.

Now, people are entitled to their opinions, but I don’t think that that response is the correct answer.  It seems to me that if there are some guidelines or rules that are followed, it would make it less dangerous for everyone to use technology by severely limiting the risks.  It seems like the problem is not too much technology, but not enough understanding of how it can, should, and should not be used. What does it mean to be a good Digital Citizen?

Dean Vendramin, a respected teacher colleague of mine, talked about digital citizenship and gave a few great points (look at the column on page 3) for how teachers should approach using technology to help appropriately integrate it into their schools, their communities, and their lives.  He goes through and talks about how teachers should be informed about what’s out there, that they should get involved with some tool and integrate its use in the classroom.  Using the tool teachers should model appropriate use for students, they should inform parents and admin, and lastly have fun whilst using this new tool.  The best part is that if a teacher is unsure about something, they can feel free to ask questions of someone who does no more about the topic.

Zachary Cowper also shared some really good points on his blog, also talking about Digital Citizenship, and even incorporated a sweet rap video that gave a few thinking points to ponder.  These are all good things to think about when trying to be a good Digital Citizen.

So, how does one be a good Digital Citizen?  Follow some of the steps given in the video and elsewhere, and be considerate of who might see the post and who might be affected by it.

Have a great day!

To Tweet or not to Tweet

Ah, Twitter.

My relationship with Twitter began back in 2013 in ecmp355 where I was encouraged to use it as a tool for the class.  I did not use it much then, but I followed a few people and would occasionally scroll through to find something interesting or useful.  I started using Twitter a bit more the following March, when Russia waltzed into Crimea and took it for it’s own. So to stay in the know on the incident, I followed a few news organizations on Twitter. For a couple years I would use Twitter very sporadically, following teachers and professors here or there, but never anything that really was education focused.

Then I began my Internship, with the wonderful and very Twitter-proficient Dean Vendramin.  Dean is a big proponent of edtech, and avidly uses Twitter in his classroom to promote everything that goes on within.

I had never seen anything of the sort, and so it was really cool learning firsthand how one may use Twitter in the classroom. Great.

So, after all of this, what do I think of Twitter?  I believe that twitter is a very valuable tool to be used by educators, as seen by demonstrations by @vendi55 and @courosa.  I think that it is a great place for teachers to ask questions, learn new ideas, and share resources with each other.  It’s like a giant staff room where all the teachers are brimming with new ideas, techniques, and resources that they want to share.  It’s really cool when you think of it that way.  Overall I think that it’s a fantastic resource that is underutilized by many.

So saying, I will admit that I don’t utilize it as much as I could or should.  I definitely find it exhausting to see so many different posts by so many different people.  Not saying that what is shared is bad, on the contrary, the amount of great resources alone make Twitter worth having, but it also seems to add to the burden of the teacher who wants to do their absolute best within their classroom.  Maybe that’s just me though, and that as a teacher I need to recognize that I’m not going to do everything perfectly, nor will I ever find the “right way” to teach all students, and that the best thing I can do is to do my best and learn when I can.

Overall I still think that Twitter is a great tool, and I highly doubt that I would be even where I am at now with it had I not been encouraged to use it in ecmp355 and ecmp455.  I hope your experiences are always beneficial whilst using it.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Around the Sphero we go

So, this week in ECMP 455 we were tasked with talking about an educational technological topic that interests us, and I thought “Hey, what’s better to talk about than  Sphero?” (@Sphero on Twitter)

Mechanically, a Sphero device is a spherical robot that can be controlled via bluetooth.  I was able to test these out during my Internship, and it was amazing the possibilities.  There are many, many apps that one can get on their smartphone to control the Sphero, the coolest of which is their Lightning Lab app.

 

The Lightning Lab app previously only allowed students to program their Sphero device using block-coding (like Scratch).  But, during my time Interning, this app updated to include not just block-coding, but type-coding and (something I had never seen) draw-coding, in which students would draw a path on their smart-device that would then program the Sphero.  It was all really cool.

Overall the reason that I think that Spheros are valuable is because it is a device that will get students excited (who doesn’t want to control a robot) about coding, which is such an important skill.  My cooperating teacher, @vendi55, always reminded me that, as educators, we are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet, and one of the best ways to do that is to teach them not only the skills involved in computer engineering (as technology becomes more and more prevalent in our society everyday), but the skills that allow them to become producers in an evermore consumer-based society.  Thank you for reading.

Learning Project (2) Update #1: How to Uke

Good day to you all, and thanks for joining.  Today I am going to show you my very early progress in learning how to play the Ukulele.  I want to give a big shout out to Justin Guitar without whom I would not have had such great instruction.  Here’s a link to is YouTube page, and here’s the first video that I used to begin learning.

I hope you enjoy:

Spirals and Statistics and Math! Oh my…

Have you every thought about learning, just for the sake of learning?  It’s a pretty cool idea: that knowledge has worth in and of itself.  Though I love the idea of it, that was not what I was planning on doing today when I began.

So, here I am, looking through some of my ECMP 455 colleagues blogs, and I happen upon Sarah’s blog, specifically reading her blog post about Khan Academy.  Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard about Khan Academy before, but it originated as a guy tutoring his cousin which has since then grown into a massive organization with the goal of providing content for students, parents and teachers alike.  It’s pretty cool.  Anyways, through reading Sarah’s blog I started thinking that I should check this place out too.  I had previously seen a couple videos and had heard about it many times through many people, so I thought it worth taking a look.

khan-academy-subject-page

So I get there, and I’m looking through the subjects available.  I noticed the different categories in Science and Engineering… I saw the lack of information under Arts and Humanities which is sad, but I understand that it was originally meant for Mathematics help.  I think look to the left to see what subjects are offered… I’m scrolling down… wait, does that say… Yes!  I’ve found it!  At the very bottom is a subject titled Math for fun and glory.  Yes please.  So I click the link, and this is what I see:

khan-academy-fun-math

As I scroll down, I see various topics pop up, so I click the first one on Doodling in Math and more.  And from there the first group is on Spirals, Fibonacci, and being a plant.  Pretty cool, so I keep going, and am delighted to find that these are in fact videos.  I’ll let you watch them to find out what’s inside (if the title wasn’t enough for you).  Needless to say, I enjoyed them and learned a lot more about Fibonacci sequences and the real world.  Again, really cool.

Overall, I thought that the way in which I was able to delve into these topics and videos was very easy, and from there I could go back and look at further unknown things that are cool to learn about (like the Problem of Points, perhaps).  The one thing that I was not totally sure about was that as I continued to watch videos the website informed me that I had won certain numbers of points, and that to keep them I needed to sign up.  From just accessing the website, I was not sure what signing up entails or even what the purpose of the points are, so it was more of a bother than anything else.  Besides that, I would recommend that you go to Khan Academy to find hitherto untold secrets that are not actually secrets, you just don’t know them yet.  It’s also great to get brief and uncomplicated explanations of various mathematical topics, too.

Well, that’s that.  Thanks for reading!

 

Using OneNote in the classroom

Hey everyone, this past week in our ECMP 455 online meeting we discussed Learning Management Systems (LMS), which are systems that allows for teachers to give notes, assignments, tests, etc. online via these systems.

In my Internship, I was in the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) which uses an LMS called HomeLogic for the purposes of giving assignments, but mainly for keeping students and parents up-to-date on the grades of the students’. This was interesting, as I had only seen a system like this once before, in my Pre-Internship, and so was still very unfamiliar with it, as I had not used anything of the sort to see my grades when I was in school.  Overall it was really interesting, and I found it a good tool, but that it definitely added a lot more responsibility on the teachers to be more timely in sharing their students’ marks.

Another tool that we (my cooperating teacher and I) had the opportunity to use was Microsoft OneNote, a cloud-based application.  As stated before, I had the unique opportunity to be paired with one of the few Connected Educators in the RCSD, and so had a class set of computers to use every day  This allowed me to use, or at least begin to learn how to use OneNote. A teacher can use OneNote by first creating a Classroom Notebook for each of their classes, so that whatever resources or assignments they put into OneNote would be specific to the class that said resources and assignments are for. Within this Classroom Notebook, there are a few main sections where the teacher places resources; the Content Library, the Student Notebooks, and the Collaboration Space. There are other sections, such as the Teacher Only section, but they function similarly to the ones listed.

The Content Library serves like a giant filing cabinet that can be accessed by everyone within the Class Notebook but can only be edited by the Admin (Teacher). This is a great place to put resources and assignments that students can find. The Teacher Only functions like this but with only the Teacher being able to access it.

The Student Notebooks are where OneNote begins to differ from just a website or wiki. There, the teacher can place items for students and a student can only access his/her individual notebook, but can also edit the items within. This is a great place for digital assignments as students can work freely on assignments within their notebooks and only the Teacher can observe their progress. I personally used this a lot in my own teaching because instead of handing out notes every other day I would send the students notes through OneNote, saving a lot of paper if nothing else. Another perk of OneNote is that students would then be able to access these Notebooks wherever there was an internet connection, getting rid of the excuse that they forgot their notes at home or school, because they could access them wherever.

Lastly there was the Collaboration Space, a section wherein all participants can see and all participants can edit. Ideally, this is a great place for group projects that everyone can then see, but personally I had issues with OneNote being unable to support 30-some devices at a time, making the app useless, so I used this section significantly less than others.

Overall, I found that OneNote was a very useful application to have in the classroom, though I would also say that it can only successfully work if there is ratio of 1:1 for students:devices, which is not always an option within the classroom. It worked well in my classroom because the RCSD was already using Office 365, which gave each student the account and each teacher the ability to add students to the Classroom Notebooks. If you have the opportunity to use it I would say that you should try it, as there is a lot that can be done with it in a classroom.