Saturday, February 28, 2009

Final Reflection

This project has been a great chance to put into practice some of the methods that I have been exposed to during this course. As a learner who enjoys collaborating with others, this project was a joint effort between Martin Hermann and myself.

Our goal was to make a project that would allow our kids to have some important experiences. Their task would be to take a key reading that covered several important science standards, and then in small groups or pairs take sections of this reading and prepare a short movie clip. The clips would then be combined, to make a movie to be shown to the whole class (and ultimately the world!).

Martin and I wanted our students to have certain experiences during this project. We wanted them to be able to work together in a small groups, sharing ideas and using the vocabulary that many ESL learners struggle with.

We then wanted students to take on the technology piece by using an online video editor where segments could be uploaded and then stitched together into a whole class movie.

The final part would be the posting of their completed, collaborative end product into the world by using a platform such as YouTube. With this they could encounter the feeling of seeing their work "out there" and to be able to receive feedback from a much wider community, thereby reinforcing the idea of connectivity.

While Martin and I planned the project, our own experiences were mirroring the kinds of experiences we were hoping our students would have. Martin and I worked collaboratively, bouncing ideas around and sorting through all the steps we would need to achieve our goal. We had to come to grips with new terms and language.

Earlier, after posting our own project sketches, we had received timely feedback from an expert in Technology Projects. Having this feedback really brought home to me that once I had posted my work, it was definitely "out there" for all to see. Receiving feedback from someone completely unknown personally to me, was certainly a new experience.

Martin and I also embraced a new technology piece during planning. We needed to rewrite the text document (to make it more accessible to our ESL kids) and started to do so with one computer and two people. Realizing we could be more efficient, we split the text document, added another laptop and then used google docs to work at the same time. We could both see what the other was doing in real time, on the screen in front of us. Now we can also separately revisit the text for editing without he hassle of emailing updates and revised versions.

I hope that our students will get the same kind of enjoyment in doing this task, that i got while collaboratively designing it. Given the parallels between what we experienced while developing the project, and what we hope our kids will ultimately get out of its completion, it will be fascinating to observe their progress. Progress not just in terms of a deeper understanding of science, but also in the realization of the importance and power of technology and collaboration.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Project Sketch

The project sketch for my project is a leap into the unknown for me. In collaboration with my EAP teaching partner (Mr Martin Hermann), I am about to try and develop a project that will allow my students to pursue their learning in a style that is different to what I have promoted previously as a classroom teacher.

The students will be challenged to start to understand some of the basics of cell biology. This will be done however by meeting not just the prescribed science standards, but also the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards)

from the International Society for Technology Education.

In a nut shell, the students will meet the science standards but within a framework that allows them to "Communicate and Collaborate" (NETS- for Students #2) using digital media.

The big picture is that students will work ( individually or in pairs) to prepare and present a digital "patch" of a larger concept. They will use digital media to add this "patch"to a class "quilt" that will then be shown to the whole class as the lesson.

The students will be working cooperatively (in real time) initially, but also at a distance (when not in class - for example at home) as they combine their pieces to put together. They will be able to make use of each other as resources, and also the teachers (or internet/books) as "experts" if and when needed.

As a result of this process, they are taking responsibility for the learning of not just themselves, but also all other members of the class. In addition, the finished product will be able to be posted on platforms such as YouTube, to allow students from around the world to make use of this resource.

The true test will be to see if this method can meet the science standards within a similar time-frame, and to the same degree of effectiveness, to that used by a more traditional approach. Reflections from both Mr Hermann and myself, as well as the students, will be necessary to determine the cost-benefit of this style of pedagogy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Digital Immigrants

As educators we have come to technology as "digital immigrants" compared to the generation who have grown up with technology as a part of all areas of their life. Teachers will need to come to grips with the nature of this reality, even if we find it difficult, and take steps to look at how we can practically integrate the new technologies into our normal teaching routines.

As educators we are constantly working to deal with new initiatives that come down the pipeline. These are ever-changing, but they are always coming. Implementation of types of new technology is often one of these initiatives, and it is crucial that educators work to make these meaningful and worth the effort of putting into practice. This should only be done when it has been demonstrated that these make a difference with regard to student learning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Digital Taxonomy

this is a critical piece as we move into the new age....Bloom's original taxonomy updated for our digital era

this will be essential for me as i work my way through these courses, to help me to determine where i am in my level of analysis, and also to help me to assist students in understanding where they are in regard to Bloom's Taxonomy

Principles of Connectivism

this stuff is great; learning to be recognize that the knowledge we had yesterday is now much information available, at any time, forces us into a different mind set where we acknowledge that the most important thing is accurate, up to do information....and this affects us immediately and directly, every time we go online to book that vacation

its about connecting different information sources.......cross checking the lists of years best films to get a "meta-analysis" list from all the critics before i make my decision which films to view

ability to see connections between fields and ideas and concepts...getting kids to use technology to estimate their carbon footprint then use applications of data analysis in math to produce graphs then initiate change in their lifestyle, then revisit their footprint at a later date and look for change; look for growth and reflection, and see how our actions affect our environment and how this in turn affects our ecosystem...this idea connects math/science/environment/technology/ and also the skill of reflection

Messing Around

so it seems that having an untended MySpace was not "messing around" in the new appears that messing around involves the experimental playing around with new media, involving social exchanges, and capturing and modifying and sharing of images, music and videos

for a long time my only friend was "TOM" and he seemed to be quite popular, with several million other friends...

after that i stuttered into having a few other friends, but made no effort to "mess around" and add other applications

looking back, i can see that perhaps messing around isn't such a massive waste of time if it allows the development of skills, such as learning how to utilize media while upgrading and improving a profile

others use this messing around as a gateway into further creative pursuits; it appears that it is a relatively safe domain in which to practice new things and produce a body of work that others can view and give feedback

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


...... so maybe i m getting the hang of it.....becoming aware of my own blogability; today i felt i was able to make some reflections more naturally and spontaneously than before.............i still feel a little like this blogging concept is a strange wild creature that i can feel in the distance; i know its there, everyone else seems to already have seen it, some are actively engaging it and i am just waiting to lose a limb

that aside, i am beginning to see the possible leverage this could bring to kids and the way they learn and explore...the idea of setting up our project will be a great challenge and a way for me to start to organize my thinking

Group Discussion

We just had a great discussion regarding the implementation of many of these ideas....its not a skill set its a minds set!

In a small group we had a great chat about the power and also the concern this raises in people...the power in seeing the blog come to global life by viewing a cluster map showing where the hits come from, and the concern of confronting change

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What I hope to get out of this course

I want to start by getting my head around what I am doing from moment to moment with regard to the course. Navigating my way around the blogs and wikis for a start, getting on top and staying on top of assignments, developing a feel for how these powerful tools work, and ultimately to start to integrate some of these into my day-to-day teaching.


What about scientific research into other topics that 6th grades are into, such as ghosts?....there are also interesting cultural themes that could be developed through this, for example how in some cultures belief in the supernatural is considered quite natural. Mind over matter, voodoo, placebo effect......

MySpace and Hoaxes

i have just read the article about the teacher who used MySpace as a platform to get the students into Romeo and Juliet...i think this is a great idea and am thinking how i could use this in science. I wonder if there is applications to getting the kids to think critically about such issues as UFO's and aliens (for example). Applying skills in researching/analysing/reporting information about hoaxes, urban myths, etc.