Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Power of Self Directed Professional Learning & Social Networking Services

I just finished spending two days at the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario's (ECOO) "Bring IT Together" Conference in Niagara Falls. This wonderful opportunity was provided by the Ministry of Education as part of my 2013-2014 Teacher Learning and Leadership project.

The organizers did a fantastic job of bringing together a variety of people (mostly educators) who put on great presentations. The amount of choice was staggering but very apt for people who are interested in directing their learning. My self directed professional learning lead me on the following journey:

- #ecoo13 Thursday Keynote"Relentless Adaptation"+Amber Mac

Amber Mac in the middle of her keynote at #ecoo13
- Google Blends with Anything! Blended Learning with Google in the Classroom  - +Julie Millan

- Google Chromebook Implementation and Use - A View from 4 Levels: Board CIO, Principal, Teacher and Student Perspective - +Mark W. Carbone+Andrew Bieronski, +Ed Doadt

- Supporting the Development of 21st Century Competencies: Letting Technology do the Dirty Work - +Steve Joordens

- How Technology Can Break Down The Walls of School - Andrew Campbell+Jennifer Chan

- Leadership in the 21st Century - A Model for Change - Scott Johnson

- Professional Learning and Expression - Aaron Puley, Lisa Neale

Feel free to select any of the links above to learn more about the presentations. The sessions were all very engaging, informative, and motivating. They will prove to be helpful in one way or another to my practice moving forward. With respect to my portion of the TLLP, blended learning using the Chromebook, I am building my capacity in terms of how the device works and its Google Apps for Education (gafe) capabilities. Furthermore, I am deepening my learning about 21st Century teaching/learning and the use of technology to assist. There is nothing better than learning opportunities that motivate me and allow me to immerse myself fully.

Aside from the formal learning opportunities I referred to above, I had the privilege of meeting face-to-face with some of the people who are part of my professional learning networks (PLNs) on Twitter and Google+. I also added many new people to my networks who I met at #ecoo13.

Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca), Adele Stanfield (@adeletweets), Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99), and Jennifer Chan (@jennzia) sharing a laugh at lunch time at #ecoo13
My PLN's via Twitter and Google+ have proven to be valuable resources. These people engage in discussion about a variety of educational topics/issues, they provide support/guidance for each other, and are always willing to share. They are excellent communicators, collaborators, and life long learners. The four people pictured above have provided me with support at one point or another and I am grateful for their time, energy, and expertise. The great thing about the two social media sites I refer to are that they allow ME to choose when, where, and how I engage others around my learning and/or their learning. It has connected me to many gifted people. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am fortunate to be part of a huge villages called Twitter and Google+!

If you are not on Twitter or Google+ I urge you to consider joining one or, even better, both sites. They are very powerful tools that will allow you to learn, share, and network with people locally and globally. As one of my teachers once said, these social networking services are

"...akin to a river. The water never stops flowing and you choose when to come to the river and how much water you will take away." - +Anthony Carabache 

If you are interested but have questions or reservations, please feel free to ask me. If I don't have the answers we can search them out together! I look forward to hearing from you soon and seeing you on Twitter and Google+.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Teaching and Learning using the Chromebook (TLLP 13-14)

It has been a little over a month since I introduced the Chromebook to my students. During this time they have been provided with opportunities to explore the device and learn their logins and passwords. It has been, and continues to be, a multi step process with sprinkles of frustration and success. The frustrations have come from the different passwords they need to input to use the device and issues around establishing a wifi connection. The successes involve students feeling a sense of accomplishment (by continuously trying and not giving up) and system level assistance in making our learning experience a smoother one. 

My project partner, +Ferdinand Krauss, has been assisting me in the classroom and working with our IT department to figure things out. He and IT recently made the decision to enable the Chromebooks to gain access to the wifi without login/password authentication. This decision proved to be a beneficial one for my students and myself as it saved us a lot of time and frustration when we used to the devices to do some Math. I found a great Math site the other day and thought this would be a great time to lead my students to some interactive online activities. 

We are working on Number Sense and Numeration right now, specifically number relationships. We had just finished talking about ordering numbers and number lines/hundred chart. I found a neat activity called "Order Numbers 1-100" . As soon as I saw this game I thought it would be a great way to engage them in trying something relatively fun and provide me with a quick assessment of who may be struggling with number order. The students had the opportunity to use the device to get on to the Internet and have some fun applying their understanding.

The students had to pop the balloons from the smaller number to the largest number: 

Here is the shot of the first level:

A screen shot of the positive reinforcement when they complete a level:

The activity starts off simple (3 balloons) and becomes more complicated as the student moves up the levels (level 5 = 6 balloons):

Many of the students had success with this activity. The activity was colourful and fun - they wanted to play! I observed the students working well together and they helped each other out. The students that flew through this were given a challenge to find another activity or two that would connect to what we are learning about right now. The students that needed some support worked with me and a few other students. 

Their time with the Chromebook wasn't all about Math. The majority of our time was spent learning some of the basics of technological literacy. The students were taught and worked on the following:

1) signing-in on the device,
2) becoming familiar with the address bar by typing in the address that I had projected for them on the whiteboard,
3) bookmarking the site,

--> working on the interactive game<--

4) closing the browser,
5) signing-out of the device

AND then their partner had to do the same things listed above in order to have this website book marked under their user account. 

Lots of awesome teaching and learning took place during this time. The students felt really good about their work using the Chromebooks and look forward to their next opportunity to use the device and the Internet to benefit their learning and demonstration of learning. 

If you have any questions/comments about this post, please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email at