Here's something that I have been thinking about for a while... professional development. I have so many things to say about refining, revamping, re-assessing professional development opportunities for educators.... but I'll try to keep the focus narrow this time on one or two aspects.
The realm of professional development opportunities have been greatly opened, enriched and enhanced by the power of the Internet. Web searches, podcasts, resource libraries and sharing, websites, Twitter chats, Google Hangouts, virtual conferences, online libraries web 2.0 tools are just a small sample of the amazing ways that educators can connect online as never before, opening a whole world of collaboration and learning that was not available before!
I love my PLN. I have learned so much online through the amazing educators that I connect with. In fact, I love them so much, I wrote a thank-you letter in an earlier blog post! For that, check here: http://assessmentforlearning.weebly.com/1/post/2013/11/to-my-pln-what-i-need-you-to-know-ce13.html
But here's the thing... I appreciate traditional PD also. There are some really amazing conferences out there. This year alone, I can name 5 that I would like to have attended. What's the barrier? Funding. The biggest barrier, for me, is the lack of funding available for professional development opportunities. Take the GAFE summit in Montreal, for example. It's taking place on Saturday and Sunday, December 7-8. Transportation there/back (either fuel and parking, or train ticket) is about $100. Add in a night or two at a hotel (if I take the train, I'd have to go Friday night, because it doesn't leave early enough on Saturday) at $120 a night. Top that off with the conference fee of $249 and even eating thrifty costs money and a weekend conference costs almost half a grand! That's a weekend conference with no supply cost built in! ECOO happened in October in Niagara Falls. Again, same situation! Transportation, hotel, food, conference cost, supply teacher cost... you're looking at almost $1000. Don't even get me starting about ITSE in Georgia this year. The plane ticket alone is almost $500... add in 4 night of lodging ($600) plus food (~$200) and conference cost ($380), you're looking at closer to $1500.
The point? I can't afford $3000 in professional development costs a year. I wish I could. I am passionate enough that I will give up weekends and summers for PD (in fact, I often spend evenings and weekends at free PD, such as EdCamp Ottawa on November 23 of this year!) but I can't shell out that kind of money, on top of all the other expenses in my life and in my profession. When the only funding available is a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 split every 2 years, I appreciate this but I can't keep up with all the new and amazing opportunities available without breaking the bank!
And I get thinking... so many other organizations provide opportunities like this free of charge. As someone with many close family/friends working at various levels of government, I know that they often go on all-expenses paid professional development, across the province, country and even world. They are not asked to pay conference fees... not even their own food cost or flight cost. Meanwhile, if I want to attend a really great conference... even if it requires me to miss NO days of work, I'm still shelling out $250-$1500. And I think this is an issue. I think it's hindering me from becoming the best I can be.
I think if you want teachers to be better versions of themselves, you need to provide tangible opportunities for growth and inspiration. And in my board, I am lucky that we have great consultants and board staff who travel to conferences and bring back learning but here's the reality: sometimes, teachers get tired of hearing all the great conferences that consultant X went to and all the great things that department X wants teachers to now use in their classes. If you want your teachers to get inspired and motivated and excited, you need to send THEM to these conferences. Let them network and see awesomeness (yes, I used that word) in ACTION! Let TEACHERS come back from these conferences and share their learning with their colleagues.... showing how they are implementing these great things in a classroom. And while it's important for consultants and superintendents to learn about these initiatives and share them with teachers, sometimes it's even more important for people who are in the classrooms every day to learn these strategies first-hand and implement them and share with everyone else: "this is what I'm doing and it's working and I can help you do it too!" Because lateral professional sharing and collaboration is powerful.... usually much more powerful than top-down sharing.
And I say this from experience. A few years ago, I had the amazing experience of an all expenses paid trip to a Ministry Differentiated Instruction conference in Toronto. And it DID pump me up! I came back SO inspired that I created this DI strategies booklet (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3R3CWEwwMLYMk1kRlp2b25seUE/edit) in one weekend! It has been shared with my staff, other schools in our board and even given out as a resource by the Student Success department at my school board to all DI teams. THIS is the power of PD!
And so I hope that maybe, someday, we are able to revamp and reassess the access to great PD that teachers have. Are we meeting their needs? How are we hindering students by not providing teachers with ways to access opportunities to improve themselves? What can we do to challenge teachers and keep them motivated, invigorated and passionate, like I was when I came home from Toronto and when I reached out to my online PLN.
Because sometimes, we need to remember that money spent on PD is not an expense, but an investment.
When I sat down to type this blog post tonight, I was scared to check when I posted last... because it feels like it's been forever. It's just so busy... teaching, in general. And then add in the committees, groups, extra courses, workshops and commitments, and time gets away from you!
It's been a great few weeks, though. Crazy busy... but great!
I currently have a teacher candidate (read: 'student teacher') with me from the University of Ottawa. I'm really enjoying this time around! She's very conscientious, open-minded and eager to do her best. I really feel lucky to have the chance to mentor her because I feel that she's going to be a great teacher once she's completed the program. It's really a pleasure to work with someone so committed to excellence... for herself and for our students. It's hard to give up control of our classes sometimes; we never know how it will go or how the kids will respond and we all have "our ways" of doing things. Luckily for me, my teacher candidate is very adept at what she does and has far exceeded my expectations in so many ways! It will certainly be a loss for the class when she returns to the university!
I am preparing for a presentation tomorrow for various principals in our board to share with them my alternative learning space! (I wanted to post a pic in this entry but somehow I must have deleted it from my photo accidentally! I will have to update this entry tomorrow!) I am really excited to show them the space that we have created and all the excellent student produced work on the walls!
On Sunday, I completed my Google Apps for Education certification! I am officially GAFE qualified! It was a lot of work reading through the modules and completing the exams for qualification but I feel great that I've done it! Couldn't have done it without my #edu buddy Michelle Cordy, though! I love co-learning!
This year I am part of both my School Improvement Planning Team and my union's (OECTA) professional development (PD) committee. Both of these meetings happened this afternoon... so it's been a crazy day... and it's only Monday! I am really excited about both of these opportunities, especially because as part of the PD committee, we are looking at ways to offer more PD in the areas of #edtech and to offer a two pronge approach - entry level and more advanced PD.
In my #ENG1D class (blog: valoiseng1d.blogspot.ca), we are wrapping up the Hunger Games. Students have been blogging about their critical thinking, reflection and application questions throughout. Today, was our final consolidation activity, in which students shared student made and led games to help their peers consolidate learning. The fun part of this is that these weren't traditional "fact based" games; students were tasked with coming up with ways to allow their peers to show not only knowledge and understanding, but also thinking, communication and application (connection) skills! Students created games such as charades, pictionary, trivia, puzzle matching games etc. In many of the games, in order to get the "full points", students had to explain the significance or thematic meaning of whatever they were drawing, acting out, or answering. I think it was a great success!
Here's some links so you can judge for youself!
Minute to Win It:
And, as if life weren't busy enough, now I'm off to moderate #cdnedchat! :)
Hope everyone is doing well!
To my PLN… thank you.
As Connected Educators month wrapped up, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my journey in “connectedness”.
I turned to Twitter by happen stance a few years ago but was never very active online. I lurked, I posted a bit then abandoned it for weeks and months at a time. Finally, just over a year ago, I came back. I don’t even really remember the circumstances surrounding it but I decided to check out what was out there. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was grappling with who I was as an educator and where to go next. I'm a true Type A… perfectionist to a fault… and in many ways, I had begun to feel worn out and jaded. I didn't want to be THAT person. I wanted to learn more and do more. I was getting frustrated by negative comments about change and innovation. I wanted more than basic professional development workshops on subjects/areas that I felt comfortable in. I didn’t know what else was “out there” but I figured there must be more… and I wanted to find it.
And then Twitter opened my eyes. I started following “ed tech” gurus and learning about neat tools to try. I started using some of these tools in my classroom and experimented with them as a means of learning. I started to read and follow tweets from people who shared my views and beliefs and the passion that I once had and wanted to have back. I read thoughts that could have been my own… and then realized it had been retweeted and/or favourited countless times and I knew I wasn’t alone. I stumbled upon a new “chat”... Canadian Ed Chat (#cdnedchat). I had never participated in a Twitter chat. A month or so later, Michael Quinn, one of the co-founders, invited me to help guest moderate a chat on Differentiated Instruction when I tweeted to tell him it was a passion of mine. I was terrified. I was worried that everyone would think I wasn’t good enough, well versed enough, tech savvy enough. I felt like a fraud. I was new to this online realm. What could I possibly have to offer? I will be so much less than everyone else, won’t I?
And then I met the #cdnedchat team and they were amazing. They were welcoming and open minded and great sources of information, learning and support. And I realized, we’re all on this journey and we all had to start sometime and somewhere. What was most important then, was that I wanted to be better and learn more and integrate innovative teaching tools and strategies into my practice. Not surprisingly, everyone was there to support and help!
I was blessed to continue my involvement in #cdnedchat, having been asked to join on the moderation team full time. Participating in these weekly chats fuelled my drive to keep learning as much as I could about new educational technologies and educational initiatives. It became a passion. I started learning more and more about things that I knew some, little or nothing about! Online literature circles, Google Hangouts, blogging, Google Apps for Education, digital portfolios, 1:1 programs, QR codes, Flipping the Classroom, project based learning…. the list goes on and on. And the more I learned, the more my passion returned. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with how much was out there and how little I knew, I began to feel invigorated that there was so much potential and that all I had to do was learn about it and make it happen! I would look forward to Google Hangouts with the team because I felt I had found people who were similar to me. I’ve called Dana Ariss my “edu soul sister” on more than one occasion because we see so many things from the same perspective and are passionate about so many of the same things.
I began to participate in more Twitter chats and reach out to #edtech leaders on Twitter to share and gather ideas and feedback. I became inspired by the amazing Angela Maiers and her “You Matter” campaign. It changed the way that I viewed my role as a teacher and how I began my school year (2013-2014) with my students. Instead of focusing on rules, I chose to focus on relationships. I am seeing a huge difference already.
I also spent more time learning about and integrating technology into my practice. I launched my professional website and started sharing my research and presentations, and even included a blog… this blog… as a part of it. I wanted to start sharing all the neat things that my students were capable of doing! I started using more #edtech tools such as Edmodo, Pinterest, AudioBoo, Google Drive (docs/forms), and more recently, this school year, blogs (Blogger), Remind 101, Socrative, QR codes, ExplainEverything and Geddit. (This led the way to using innovative teaching strategies like Genius Time and project based learning and the creation of my alternative learning space this year).
The ideas became endless. My mind would be racing after a Twitter chat and I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the great ideas I had heard - things I had never even thought of before - and how I could make these work for my students! And the passion began to multiply. I would bounce ideas off of educators trying the same things or wanting to. And I’d get feedback and advice from people who had been long doing the initiatives and using the tools and strategies that I was just taking on. And I teamed up with amazing mentors, like Michelle Cordy, who pushed me to make opportunities to better myself as an educator- to steer my own ship and find my own niche - and inspired me to do things that challenge me and scare me because I can and what do I have to lose? (And here I am, one exam away from having attained Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer - Qualified Individual status! I couldn’t have imagined this 2 years ago!)
And so, as we wrap up connected educator’s month, I am thankful that I faced roadblocks, frustrations and feelings of being jaded and alone because it forced me to make a decision; make a change or stay the same. I chose change. It’s scary, terrifying, exciting and inspiring all at once. It needed to happen and I’m glad it did. I’m glad I felt the push to look further to find something to challenge me to be better than I was. Something to make me better for myself, and thereby, for my students… because isn’t that what it’s all about? Being the best version of yourself?
A few of the key people that I have learned the most from are included in this post but there are many more who have impacted my journey…. some with one post that stood out to me and some, who with their every post inspire me, daily. Some of these people do not follow me and will never see this blog post. Some will. I am okay with both of those facts.
I just want to say thanks. Thanks to the PLN for helping to open my eyes to the amazing world that is out there. Thank you for showing me the endless possibilities in education. Thank you for reminding me why I have never wanted to do anything other than teach. Thank you for showing me ways to reinvigorate the passion that has never died inside of me. Thank you for being people that I learn from and thank you for inspiring me to be the best that I can be.
This past week, in CHC2P, we started with Genius Hour! If you're not familiar with Genius Hour (or 20% time), check this out: http://www.geniushour.com/
"Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour". The concept originated with Google: they gave employees 60 minutes per week to work on any project they wanted. The result? An increase in creativity and productivity! Google states that over 50% of Google products were created during this "20%" time.
In our class, there will be some minor adaptations.
a) Since I only teach my students one class per day, we cannot sacrifice a full 75 minutes (one class) per week. We can, however, use 30 minutes of one class period per week to explore new ideas.
b) Since I teach high school (subject specific), we must focus on History. That said, they are free to research, create, build, discover anything they want related to Canadian history!
As you can see from the photo above, our first "Genius Time" session was a success. I promise that this photo was not staged! Students were finding websites, videos, pictures, etc. about all sorts of neat things related to Canadian History using our school set of iPads!
I really like Genius Time for a few reasons:
1. In keeping with our school board priority of innovation and creativity, Genius Time allows students to explore their areas of interest and come up with creative ways to share their learning. Talk about active and authentic learning!
2. It ties into the Ontario School Effectiveness Framework; it provides opportunity for student voice, classroom leadership and assessment as and for learning, along with traditional teaching and learning opportunities. It allows students to share their learning, take initiative and responsibility for their own learning and interests and the skills to share this learning with their peers.
3. It supports the underlying principles of Differentiated Instruction and Growing Success. What better way to differentiate by needs, interests, readiness and learning style than to allow students to choose all of the above?! Genius Time allows students to work at their own pace, with content that is appropriate to their learning level/ability and present/share in a way that represents their learning styles.
I really look forward to seeing how Genius Time works over the course of the semester in my class!
Do you have insight to share about YOUR Genius Time? Drop me a comment! I'd love to hear about it!
Last week, we were very successful in getting set up on all sorts of educational technology! In my CHC2P class, we set up our Twitter accounts. Already, we have taken pictures of in class work and shared it via Twitter. Next week, once we begin WWI, we will be tweeting responses to discussion questions, links to cool and informative videos and websites that we find online!
In ENG1D, we set up our school emails (Gmails) and our blogs and have already worked our way through 2 blog posts related to the short stories we were reading! After creating a first blog on their own, we co-constructed criteria about what makes a "good blog" in class and how we can comment effectively on blog posts! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BUTmzZbIMAA4GwA.jpg How did we do?!
I'll link to different blogs from time to time but here's Clare's blog to start... I think she's done a great job so far: http://clareeng1d.blogspot.ca/ With a few blogs complete, we are going to start sharing insight and feedback with each other in the next few days. To facilitate blogging, I have reserved the school set of iPads once per week so that we can maintain our blogs and share comments. At other times, students are welcome to BYOD (bring their own device) to class as well!
In CHC2DA (my ESL history class), we used QR codes in the classroom to help us learn new terms for our study notes. We also add to our "word wall" each day with new vocabulary that we are unfamiliar with! We also use Edmodo!
We're off to a great start and having lots of fun so far!
I feel very privileged to have been asked to participate in a "thought leaders" 5 question session, organized by Michelle Cordy (@cordym) inspired by this piece: http://www.esparklearning.com/ed-tech/. Michelle realized that there were no #edtech women included in the "thought leaders" category and sought out women who were active in the #edtech community to share their thoughts.
I am so honoured to be included in the first edition of 5x5: Thought Leaders.
Please check out Michelle's "thought leader" Q&A here: http://hacktheclassroom.ca/2013/09/5x5-5-thought-leaders-5-questions-5-answers/
With a full 5 days under our belts, I thought I'd take the time to update my blog for this new school year!
Keeping with my vow from this summer and my professional learning, as inspired by Angela Maiers (and other educational leaders in my PLN), I began this year much differently than other years. On the first day, I did not go through a list of school/class rules. I did not lay out consequences. I didn't give a stern talk about behaviour.
I told my students that they matter to me. They matter to this class. That they ALL have a contribution to give, no matter what it is. That they all HAVE my respect at that very moment... no earning needed. And that the only thing that they need to do to maintain this great relationship that we are forming as a class is to be respectful - to themselves and others - because they will be respected by me and by others. They are all valued members of the class - equal in importance and contribution, regardless of their talents. I told them that they have a 'clean slate' - that no matter who they were or how they acted in the past... it doesn't have to matter now if they don't want it to; they have a fresh start to be the person they want to be!
The #youmatter manifesto is pinned on my classroom wall; printed on bright, neon, paper... typed in big, clear, bold letters so that no one forgets the motto of our class!
"In May, it won't matter what rules you made in September. It will be the relationships you have formed" was a quote from someone in PLN (I am so sorry I forget who!) that spoke to me. Students won't behave properly because I gave them a list of rules on Day 1; they will learn through the course of the semester the value in contributing to the class positively and being a caring member of the class.
I have noticed a difference already! The sheer number of students who go out of their way to say "goodbye", "have a great day", "thanks Miss" at the end of a class, so early in the year... or even going out of their way to stop by my class on their way to lunch or at the end of the day... it shows the impact of the respect they have received and are giving back.
This year, my students are going to MATTER. To me. To the school. To each other. Together, we will learn and grow and become the best versions of ourselves.
I know it can be done!
To read more about #youmatter, by Angela Maiers, check out her TEDx Talks video below and check out her blog:
I thought I'd share a copy of one of the letters that I sent home to parents of my classes this year. Yes, I teach high school! I still think it's important to send home letters to touch base with parents so that they know what is happening and what my plans are!
Welcome back! As we end this first week of the new school year, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you that it’s been my pleasure getting the opportunity to meet and begin to get to know your son/daughter. I am confident that we are going to have a great semester!
I feel that parent-teacher communication is exceptionally important to each child’s success and as such, for each class, I have created a separate welcome letter to introduce you to me and some key aspects of the course your child will be taking with me. I look forward to working with you, as a team, to help your child achieve his/her goals this year!
Your child’s Grade 10 Applied History class is period 1. They are also my homeroom class. Just a few reminders: student fees and course outlines should be submitted as soon as possible. All students have been assigned a locker to store personal belongings during the school day.
I am very active in professional learning and development related to the use of educational technology and am passionate about its uses to enhance learning! As such, all of my classes are encouraged to BYOD (bring your own device)! Many of your children own/have access to devices that can access the internet and I encourage them to bring these to class daily if possible. We have already, and continue, to discuss appropriate use of technology in class/creating a positive “digital footprint” and I am confident that together we can harness these tools as excellent supports to education and learning!
In CHC2P this year, students will not only be learning about history (my passion!) but they will also develop 21st century learning skills. Some of the technology we will be trying may include blogging, digital portfolios, Youtube videos, Edmodo, Prezis, using Twitter and Instagram – all to engage students and document student learning. The internet will serve as an invaluable research tool for this class! Students will create student accounts, using their “OCSB student” emails, keeping their personal accounts (if they have one) separate from class ones.
The majority of the work will be done in class; studying for tests/quizzes will be the students’ responsibility outside of class hours and some major assignments may require completion at home (but students will be given class time to work on these). To help students remember these key dates, I have subscribed to an educator service called “Remind 101”. It’s a safe and secure one-way text messaging reminder service for teachers to parents and students. I have attached the information sheet to this letter. If you have a cell phone and would like to be subscribed, please follow the instructions on the following sheet of paper.
If you would like to follow along with what we are working on in class, I will be posting updates to my professional blog, which is located in the “blog” section of www.meganvalois.com. Once our accounts (Twitter/Blog etc.) are set up, we will let you know the links to those so you can follow along with us!
Again, I look forward to a great year! If you have any questions or want to touch base with me, I can be reached at the school: ***************. Please note extra help is always available, by appointment, at lunch.
Gathering evidence of learning VS gathering "marks": Why I spend way more time on formative assessment than summatives.
I have spent the last 4 years really delving deep into the power of assessment. Often, when people think about assessment, the usual suspects come to mind - tests, exams, quizzes, maybe a project or two.
I have spent countless hours reading and researching about assessment. All assessment. Assessment for, as and of learning. They all have their place and importance! But after all this time, here's my secret.... assessment OF learning is the one I do the least. To some, this might sound wrong... horrible! Is she not doing her job? Where are all the 'marks'? The marks that I have, while they may be fewer in number, are more powerful in their representation of student learning. Here's why...
I spent much more time and energy on assessment as and for learning because these are assessments that affect true change!! Assessment FOR learning (diagnostic and formative assessment) allows me to gauge student understanding before a "mark" is assigned. What good is it to me or my students if I discover on the final test, with a class average of 55%, that they didn't understand half of the content? How am I supposed to go back and pinpoint where we missed the boat at that stage in the game?
So, instead, I spent each and every day formatively assessing my students. Sometimes through observation (questions/responses in class, discussion, individual contributions to group work) and sometimes in more concrete ways like exit cards, formative quizzes, KWLs, puzzle games, or journals). But it doesn't stop there. As part of the professional learning cycle (plan, act, observe, reflect), I then reflect on the results of my observations or results and figure out how to adapt MY teaching in order to reach all learners. Sometimes, most of the class doesn't understand a concept and so I re-teach it, finding a better or more clear way to explain it. Sometimes, a few students haven't grasped the idea and I find a way to work with them to move them past this hurdle and on ward. All of this is happening before a single mark that "counts" is recorded.
During this phase, I also use another one of my most favourite tools: feedback. As part of assessment AS learning, I have students self assess and peer assess products which will become summatives. This year, as part of my Grade 10 History final task for the World War II unit, the students had their project "chunked" into 5 phases. At each of the first 4 phases, students were given assessment - first, self reflection/checklist; next - peer assessment/feedback; thirdly - teacher checklist and conference and finally, phase 4, teacher written, descriptive feedback. Feedback is so important to improve student learning. What good is it once the task is already completed and done?
"Feedback needs to come while the students still think of the learning goal as a learning goal – that is, something they are still striving for, not something they already did. Brookhart (2008)"
Only after these four phases was the final product submitted for evaluation... a "mark". We spent 3-4 weeks on this project, much of it during class time and I ended up with four "marks" - one for each category (Knowledge, Thinking, Communication, Application). Again, to some, this is shocking or terrible. Only 4 marks in 4 weeks?!
At first, this intimidated me. I always felt nervous at parent-teacher interviews when I only had a few "marks" to show parents. It's hard to explain, in a 10 minute time slot, to each parent that I don't have so few marks because I don't give work or because I don't mark things; there's a bigger reason behind it and I'm following the research on assessment and how it helps students. That it is less important for me to have 50 marks and more important to me to have 10 great, truly reflective ones. It's not that their achievement will be 'skewed' by so few marks; on the contrary, the fact that I don't count those first assessments is, in fact, much better for most students' "marks". It's still a bit intimidating to me because I know that this is not the way it was for many people in school.
The more I use formative assessment and feedback, the more my students understand it and its purpose. They see how it benefits them and can distinguish between a formative and summative task. By October, they would never ask me if an exit card or homework "counts" for marks.
This year, I plan to integrate more use of technology into my assessment and feedback; tools like Socrative, AudioBoo, Edmodo and Google Docs all provide excellent opportunity for assessment as learning - self, peer and teacher feedback, as well as assessment for learning, to check understanding of concepts.
You can find more of my compilations on Assessment on this website in my research/presentations section:
A fantastic resource is the Ontario website "Edugains" and their series on Assessment/Feedback:
"The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback."
When I launched my website earlier in 2013, I decided to add this blog component to it. I figure, what better way to share and showcase the amazing things my school and my students are participating in. It also gives me a chance to reflect on my own professional learning and to share my experiences, insight, feedback, and suggestions about the initiatives in my classroom, in a far reaching way which will give me the opportunity to get feedback and responses from our global community.
This school year (2013-2014), I am going to start blogging with my students. I have spent a lot of time reading online about the benefits of blogging and connecting with amazing educators on Twitter who are part of my professional learning network and who are avid bloggers. (See below for some comments on a few who I think you should know about!). Being on Twitter has shown me the power of a global audience and network; many of the people I connect with on Twitter are spread far and wide across North America (and beyond!). This leads me to my first point....
There's a ton of different reasons and philosophies and pros and cons. But here are the reasons I want to try blogging this year, based on my learning and research.
1. Authentic experience
What better way to get students to understand the power of words and ideas than to have them share it on a forum which can be viewed globally? I love the idea of a worldwide audience to read and share with. This gives students the chance to create their own digital footprint while building on the skills of research, critical thinking, reflection, writing and editing.
2. Collaboration and Discussion
These concepts can be separate and can be intertwined. The idea of sharing thoughts, reflections, ideas, creative writing, videos, music, etc. with an audience and then having the opportunity to discuss, debate, re-think, analyse, reflect, apply and engage is inspiring to me. The option to peer edit or to work with a partner on a concept or idea is such a real-world, 21st century skill. The option to post comments and share voice or written comments/feedback gives students something they couldn't have with a typed and submitted essay or poster board. The opportunity to discuss and connect with those outside the walls of the school means a more diverse perspective is available and offers an exciting chance for students to connect with those living across the province, country or globe!
3. Creativity, Innovation and Ownership
Blogs allow students so many opportunities to be creative and express themselves in a way that speaks to who they are as individuals while still demonstrating the key knowledge that the teacher is looking to assess. Some students might create videos, others 'photo essays', perhaps poetry or equations or quite simply a written reflection. Students have the chance to take ownership for their own creations and expression. The ability to embed media, include podcasts, edit templates, and share understanding in a multitude of ways means that there's no limit to the creative expression of knowledge that a student can share! The students also have the pride (and responsibility) of ownership! The blog is his/hers and can be set up to reflect his/her personality, interests, talents and passions. As a huge supporter and promoter of differentiated instruction, I really love how many opportunities there are in blogging for students to show their understanding or apply knowledge in diverse and creative ways!
4. Supporting 21st Century Learning Skills
Of course, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity are 21st century learning skills that I have already mentioned. But the last piece is the technology piece of the puzzle. Helping students to feel more at ease with the use of technology and ways to maximize its potential. Digital natives are already tuned in to many types of technology - namely, social media. Harnessing the power of technology for educational purposes and integrating (yes, fully integrating) technology is a key for 21st century learners. Blogging provides the opportunity to develop web skills, understand digital citizenship and its responsibilities and build an online presence and experience that students will need to understand and be at ease with for their futures.
There are many different platforms out there that teachers can use to blog with: Google Sites, Weebly, Blogger, Edublogs, WordPress, Wikispaces and Blogspot, to name a few!
Visit the sites, test them out, ask around and find out which one is best for you!
I am really looking forward to my blogging journey with my students and I will most certainly be blogging about it myself, here on this blog!
In closing, here's a shout out to a few of the bloggers who I have learned from and have been inspired by this summer:
- @davidtedu David's #eduslam on blogging is far more powerful and eloquent than anything I could come up with! If you haven't seen his slam, I highly recommend you check it out here:
- @KLirenman - I have connected with Karen a few times on Twitter and am really impressed with what she does with blogging. I love that Karen has two blogs: her classroom one: http://www.mslirenmansroom.blogspot.ca/ and her own blog where she shares teaching experiences: http://learningandsharingwithmsl.blogspot.ca/. The fact that she blogs with Grade 1 students proves that it can work at any age!
@kathycassidy - Kathy also blogs with young students. I just love all of the photos and videos on her blog! It really shows experiential learning at its finest! http://mscassidysclass.edublogs.org/
@PaulSolarz- I will gush even more about Paul when I blog about digital portfolios (eportfolios). Had the opportunity to do a Google Hangout with Paul on digital portfolios and left it very excited and full of ideas! His blog is his own e-portfolio of what he does with his students. Check it out: http://psolarz.weebly.com/mr-solarz-eportfolio.html
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!