Friday, December 12, 2014

The end of my Aq course

Hello all,

While I am sad to see the end of the course for the amount of useful/practical work that I have accomplished, I am happy to see the extra work be over.

This course really forced us to think more about how we are leaders within the school system and how to help the staff become comfortable themselves with technology.

One of our projects had to do with a parents night for technology.  I have been meaning to do one of these since September but it has been so incredibly busy this year thus far that I let it slip my mind.  This assignment was not only quite useful but it enabled me to be ready in case I need to do one in January.  Being in a paperless classroom this year, parents are hesitant about the shift in learning and have lots of questions.  By starting the year off on the right foot by introducing what the children will be learning and what tools they will be using, parents should have their minds at ease.
The only drawback I see to this type of night is that the school wifi requires students to log in so either we would have to open this night up to both parents and students to learn together or it would be more of a lecture format rather than a "stay to play" night.  Another worry is that we may not have enough technology for all the parents who might want to attend.  I would either have to limit it to my classes (54 students) or have two possible nights.  I think parents would be very keen on knowing how their child's learning will be impacted/heightened.

I also had the pleasure of doing  my first WebQuest! While fairly basic, I wanted to get the Hour of Code out there because there are still many teachers afraid to try coding in school.  I myself don;t have any formal coding background having only dabbled a bit in html in high school but I was excited to see my students taking risks and making cool little programs! In the new year, I want to see how they react to making their own math app!!!

Well, this is my last official assignment and I have one more week until holidays... or I guess I should say marking season... I really need to catch up and start 2015 on a better foot!

See ya later!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advantages and Disadvantages of Blogger

Now I am no where near new to blogging, having made over 7 blogs for all my different hobbies and classes but there are some things that I just don't understand with blogging.

Here are the advantages and Disadvantages in my opinion of Blogger:


  • Easy and fast to post
  • Fairly dummy proof to start up (gets more complicated when you change layouts)
  • Visually appealing
  • User friendly
  • Can post pictures, videos and links
  • A google app
  • URL does not tend to be too long

  • You cannot upload documents so if using this site for a classroom, you need to have additional software to help you with that
  • you are limited in the layout changes and designs do not always work out so they take time to master
  • You are limited to the columns on the side and cannot always place items where you want them to go
  • Pages which you can make are fairly 2D and cannot do much with them

Some Bloggers in the technology world who I have bookmarked their sites are:
ICT 4 Kids
Brian Aspinall's Blog
Free Technology for Teachers

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reflection on my course thus far

These last couple of weeks have been concentrated on technology for special needs students.  After having completed all of my assignments and reflecting on what we have looked at this far in the course, I have come to the conclusion that I still don't like to differentiate for a few students when I have far more students who are not officially identified or have parents who didn't want to "label" their child in my classroom.  Don't take it as that I don't want to help anyone, but more along the lines of I want to help everyone become successful.  It is far more difficult to differentiate for a few than to do it for everyone. My way of accommodating is to give every student the same piece of technology and it is up to them how they choose to use it.  Instead of using smart ideas with some, I use it with all students as they will all benefit from the structure.  If I need to give extra time to one student as mentioned in his IEP, why can't I give extra time to others as well since I have to stay in for recess anyway! I just don't like seeing non identified students struggling because their parents don't want them to be labelled.  Struggling is struggling no matter how you call it.  

I have seen some great new programs that I have had a bit of time to test out thanks to having taken this course.  I cannot say that all this is new to me as I try and keep up with the ongoing technology changes (especially with google drive! STOP changing it!) but at least this course is designed to have you choose things at your comfort level which helps me be able to look at programs that I have never had the time to look at until now.  
It is obvious from the discussion had in the discussion forums that we are all here to further engage our students and through that our commitment is definitely apparent (Standard of practice #1 Members are dedicated in their care and commitment to students.) and that we strive to further our own knowledge with the direction the world is turning (Standard of practice #2 Members recognize that a commitment to ongoing professional learning is integral to effective practice and to student learning).
What I would love to do, is be more in depth with some newer programs and maybe even tackle how we approach paperless classrooms in the math world as it seems as though there is not much mentioned about paperless math in the world.  What does it look like? Who has successfully gone through a year without using paper for math concepts like Geometry and Data management?
These are just some things on my mind at the moment now that I have a couple more minutes not clouded by report cards!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Assistive Technology: "Necessary for some, good for all"

       As I finish my learning module on Assistive Technology, I am to reflect on the quote above. I resonate with this quote because I acknowledge that everyone learns differently and it is up to the teacher to show the same lesson in a variety of different ways in order to "hook" the students. I have quite a few non identified students who definitely need extra care so why do I need to spend more time with my identified students when I know there are plenty more who need it too? This is where technology comes in. In my board, we are lucky enough to have google apps for education for all students and staff. I am definitely taking advantage of it this year with all my students. Yes assistive technology is great, but why only for some? Everyone should benefit! Of course some programs and software are not available to everyone but this is why I like to look at web 2.0 tools to find something similar so that all students can benefit. That way, not only am I not getting confused because everyone is using something different, but also the students can use their app/program to their comfort zone.

     Another thing that I think benefits the students is the ability to give them a choice on how they want to be assessed. If they need to do an oral presentation, they can record themselves and show a video, they can use software that they know (ie. powerpoint, slide rocket, slides etc.) or they can do the traditional way of standing up in front of the class and presenting. Just because a student doesn't feel comfortable standing up in front of others, does not make them less intelligent from the next child.

      This module really reminds me of the new show called "Canada's Smartest Person". This show tests contestants on their multiple intelligences and really shows that people are smart in their own way. I have downloaded the app for my students and they test themselves on a daily basis. They become so confident when they see where they lie in their "smarts". One student came up to me and told me she scored 100% in social smarts... She tries extremely hard in class but doesn't get the best marks. I told her that she will rock when she gets older because many jobs need people with social skills. This in turn makes her more confident and everyone goes home happy.

      As much as I know that there are students with learning difficulties, I really try and make a point to offer the same things to everyone also so that the IEP'd student is not singled out as well. Ive had students in the past who refused to work on their SEA equipment because they didn't want to look different than the rest of the students. I don't blame them. As much as it helps them, it sometimes ruins their self-concept. At least with everyone working on the same device, the students who use an extra program or need extra time are not so self conscious with their work because no one is the wiser.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reflection of Learning Module 1

As mentioned in a previous post, I am taking a computers course to upgrade my qualifications for my career.  We have been asked to reflect on what we have learned/saw throughout the first module. We read an article about computer labs versus a couple computers in the classroom and found that labs are more effective because everyone is learning at the same time.  I would have to agree not only for the learning but also for the teacher to be able to give instructions once (ok twice... lets be real here!)
If I had students at a centre who constantly need my assistance to use the computers, I would go nuts!
Moving on, we looked at our school and board computer policies where I think for the most part, they are up-to-date but need a little tweaking in the future to be applied to students who hack into or are very advanced in their skills.  If the administrator does not know a lot about technology, how advanced is the policy?

Moving on, we looked at web 2.0 tools.  I use them a lot but I get very stressed when I can't use them all.  I have a tendency to need to be an expert on all things technology because staff members are always asking me how to do things but it is impossible with the amount of tools popping up daily! This portion of the course was a bit of a review for me as I have tried to use many of the available websites mentioned. I liked how it was differentiated though to apply to different levels because as I feel very comfortable with sites like edmodo, or blogger, others do not.  In part one of Integration of technology in the classroom, because it was in class, we looked at a different web 2.0 site in depth.  It allowed me to play and then plan how I was going to use it the next day in class.  This item around, I was able to take a look at geogebra to tackle how I am going to teach geometry in math with a paperless classroom.  Win, win for me! I had been meaning to do that anyways! I think that is also why I took this course.  To "force" me to take the time to look for new things!

Next post, I am going to attempt a math quiz with google forms.. Not course related but stay tuned for my pros and cons!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Make a form for Parental communication

I was on google plus this evening and my board has a lot of technology posts that I fall behind with reading.  I happen to read this post on creating a google form so that each time you speak with a parent, you can fill out the response and keep tabs on who you spoke to and the reason!
All I can say is FANTASTIC!!! I for one will be using this technique considering I will be evaluated next year and my communication binder is non existent!
Basically you create the form to say date and time you spoke to the parent, then you can fill out the reason, who called whom, next steps etc!

Just needed to share this because I love it! Oh and if you want to see a live link, click here

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reflection is part of your work

I am taking another course and this time it is my part 2 of computers in the classroom.  Not only will be I writing about my classroom, but I will be reflecting on various texts that I am required to read for this course.  That way, I can share with you my thoughts.  The first reflection is from the article Another Reason to Blog; Proactive Through Reflection by George Couros who talks about blogging as a way of narrowing your ideas and focusing on one thing.  I find this extremely important in my life because technology is changing soo much and its easy to get caught up in wanting to implement something in your classroom but then before you become confident in your practice, another concept is introduced.  

While I find that keeping a blog/journal of your daily initiatives would be helpful, I find at times I become overwhelmed with the daily grind and the last thing I want to do at times is to write about it.  What I did find useful in this post was that George seems to blog during the day as his students are.  That has given me a new perspective because I always feel guilty when I am not 100% focused on the students but yet we are trying to model how to do certain things and why not take the time when teaching students to blog their reflections to do the same?  After all, "reflection is part of your work!" This way, hopefully I will be able to become more organized with respect to which apps will benefit my classroom more rather than knowing the most apps possible and not having vision as to how I will use them in the classroom.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First online math test

Hi everyone,
Welcome to my paperless classroom blog where I will discuss what I am doing in the classroom as well what works and doesn't in my quest to find the perfect balance in room 209.

I should start off by saying that I teach grade 6.... After having spent 2 years with the 8's, these cute little students are a bit inexperienced.
I have spent the first 3 weeks of school teaching them how to use google apps and the iPads in our classroom.  I am most frustrated with the fact that not every student has the same windows or options when I try to model how to do certain tasks.  Having said that, I wouldn't trade this for the world because I love trying new things and teaching students new things. :)

Friday we had our first Math test on patterning.  It turned out great but there were some things to note.

1. Platform for tests.  I am still having trouble with this one.  I was going to do a google form until I realized that you cannot show the test back to students nor give feedback in a visual way.  After looking through multiple sites on giving tests, i concluded that the technology has not evolved yet to a point that we can go away from traditional style tests.  Therefore I made a test on Microsoft word, imported it as a pdf in google drive and had the kids access it from there.

2. How do they write on the Pdf? Well in my class, students use GoodNotes or Notability as their work folders.  I have each class use a different app so that they aren't confused with each others work.  So far this works well because they only need to toggle between google drive accounts.
The students can annotate the pdf and do everything they would on normal paper.  The kids love it because they can choose to type or write with a stylus, whatever is more comfortable to them.

3. How does the teacher get the test back?
Now once the student finishes, they need to export the test back to google drive and put it in a shared folder that we had previously created called "Math Tests".  I am shared with it and off we go!

4. How does the teacher mark it? Well I haven't got there yet but I would assume the same way in that I can import the document to Goodnotes and use a different colour to mark.  Ill let you know what happens.

Now the great thing about this is that I always have a copy of the test in case the student "loses it".  I can email parents with the attachment or trust that the child shows it to them via google drive.  Regardless, I will send out an email to tell them the tests have been marked.

I haven't figured out if this process was hard for the kids or whether they are just slow at tests because this basically took the whole day on Friday....

Please leave feedback if you are more tech saavy than I am. I welcome any comments in order to better my practice!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Paperless Classroom

So I've been Mia for 2 years but I am back and now Paperless! Grade 8 has been fun but Im back with the 6's to teach them the ins and outs of technology!  Yes, they need it! They are a generation of point and click but they need to learn the other parts so that they can function in the world out there!
This year, I have been fortunate to be able to have 27 iPads to teach with.  My subjects are English and Math and from what I hear, no one around does math paperless.... I guess I'll take the challenge!
Please stay tuned for my hopefully weekly posts on projects or sites to be of use for 6th graders!