Teaching in a Google World

In ECMP 455 class we discussed different topics surrounding technology and education. We were asked to reflect on one of the topics and I decided to write about Google and the classroom. When I was going through school I was constantly using Google to get quick answers and my habit of turning to Google first has only gotten worse. Now that almost every answer to any question can be Googled, we have to ask: Should we be teaching our students concepts that can be answered on Google?

In an article by Zhai Yun Tan the topic about the effect of Google is discussed, and arguments that Google make us dumber and smarter are both brought up. One thought is that having information at our disposal makes room for more info because we do not need to remember so much information. An example of this that the article mentions is our friends birthdays. Facebook users do not need to remember or even think about their friends birthdays until the day of when Facebook will remind. This is much like how when I see a movie with an actor I recognize, I immediately Google the movie to find out what I recognize them from. This seems arbitrary which it totally is, but I am happy that I don’t waste too much brain power trying to memorize every Ryan Gosling movie.

As teachers it might seem frustrating that students automatically turn to Google to answer the questions we post, but we can use Google to help students become critical thinkers. One thing I often is hear is that we need to teach our students to think critically, and I believe Google goes hand-in-hand with this. Like I mentioned before, there is seemingly infinite information on the internet which means we can always be analyzing and critiquing. I myself am still learning to critique the information that comes across my screen, so how am I going to teach my students to do this? One video we watched in ECMP is by John Spencer and is all about how to tell real from fake news apart:

Showing students videos like this one and giving them checklists is a good way to help them critique information they find online. Another way to match your teaching to the Google world is to choose indicators out of the curriculum that call for deeper and personal understanding. Asking students to connect on a personal or relative level means that the answers can’t be Googled because the answers should come from their own experience and voice. For example, in the Grade 9 English Language Arts curriculum in SK this is one of the outcomes:

 

One of the indicators is to “paraphrase a text’s content, purpose, and point of view.” Student’s could easily Google all of that information and not think twice about meaning or connection to themselves. An indicator that leads to deeper understanding is to “identify and explain connections between what is viewed, heard, and read and personal ideas and beliefs.” This indicator calls for students to relate the readings to their personal lives, and not simply Google a plot and it’s themes.

Altogether, I think that Google like any EdTech tool, can be as useful as you want it to be and can be as big an inhibitor as you allow it to be. By requiring students to think critically and make connections to the instinct to get answers off of a Google will be lessened.

I would love to hear reader’s thoughts in the comments below!

 

All About @misstayloryqr

In ECMP455 we focus a lot on Twitter and all of its wonderful uses for teachers. This past week we did a twitter chat between our ECMP455 class as well as an ECMP355 class. For those of you that don’t know what a twitter chat is, LifeWire describes it as “a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through the use of tweets that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation.” The hashtag we used to link all of the tweets from our chat was #ECMPChat.

Screenshot of a few of the tweets from our #ECMPchat

This Twitter chat got me thinking about how I plan on using Twitter as an educator.

My experience with Twitter had always been for personal use, and it was not before I took ECMP last year that I learned how meaningful it could be to educators. One of the great things about Twitter is that it gives you the opportunity to collaborate on a global scale. I myself, already saw the connections Twitter can facilitate when my professor Alec Couros tagged me in one of his tweets. Instantly I had other educators following me, replying to my tweets, and commenting on my blog posts. That is when I realized how many people I can reach out to for resources and also that I can be a resource for others. I hope to as an educator (as I become more Twitter-savvy) be able to use Twitter frequently for this connection. Whether that means posting questions I have on Twitter for anyone to answer or help me, answering other educators’ questions, or engaging in conversation via Twitter I really hope to stay connected. One thing I still have to check off my “Education Bucketlist” is to join the #SaskEdChat. It is a Twitter chat ran Thursday evenings that focuses on different topics surrounding education. Unfortunately, I have a night class this semester but as of April 11, I am free to join the Thursday chat so I hope to do that soon. I have also been debating how to use Twitter as a resource for my students. My students could follow me and then be able to use Twitter as a way to connect with me outside of school. Using Twitter could also be a way to introduce digital citizenship and social justice. Students should learn how to think critically about all of the content on the internet and Twitter is a good place to start because of the diverse content it has. Twitter also gives students a platform to share articles and research in a much less intimidating setting as an essay or presentation.

I think this comic hilariously represents an #edtech classroom

Altogether I look forward to growing my Twitter expertise as I move forward as an educator and maybe even reach “Twitter Champ” status one day

P.S. Follow @misstayloryqr on Twitter

 

An Intro to Pythagorean Theorem

As I am beginning to create my online unit I am already learning a lot about different great tools. Firstly, I have to share my appreciation for Google. Before this class, I never really utilized all of its great features, like Google Drive, Google Docs, Chrome extensions, Google Classroom, and Google+ Communities. All of these applications have helped me progress in ECMP, but also in my other university classes as well

For my online unit, I am going to use the Grade 8 Math curriculum, specifically the outcome based on learning the Pythagorean Theorem. I chose this topic because there are so many different applications of this theorem so it will give me a chance to try out a lot of different tools, like Screencasting, Khan Academy, Youtube, and EduCreations which I heard about through a blog post by Amy, one of my classmates.

Screenshot of the outcome and it's indicators from the SK Curriculum

Screenshot of the outcome I will be teaching online and its indicators (Retrieved from the SK Curriculum)

So far, I  have created my first assignment in Google Classroom. The assignment is to watch an intro. video to the Pythagorean Theorem, and then to complete a short comprehension worksheet to ensure the students watched the video. A few things I learned while creating this assignment was that Google Docs has an option to insert equations into your document; it will convert all of your variables, equation signs, and exponents into proper form! I am not sure if this is news to you readers but WOW was I ever amazed. As a Math major who is constantly googling different equations for help on assignments, I have gotten very used to using “^2” to represent a number being squared so actually being able to convert it to exponent form was very exciting. I have also learned about “making a copy” so all of my students can make a copy of the Google Doc assignments they receive and then simply reshare them with me to be marked. At first, I was worried how each student would separately edit their assignment until my co-op from my ECS 300 field experience showed me how he uses Google Docs for assignments with his students.

I have also created a Google+ community for the pretend parents of my pretend students. I think that when doing a unit completely online, especially with elementary students, it is important to include the parents. The parents can use their own Google account and access the community from any device with internet. I will use the community to post reminders about assignments, as well to communicate with the “parent” after any assignments or grades have been posted.

Screenshot of my view of Google+ Community

Screenshot of my view of Google+ Community

My next plan is to use EduCreations to create a lesson on actually applying the equation, a^2+b^2=c^2 (no “insert equation” option here). For the assessment after the lesson, I am going to research online tools for assessment. Although I could rave about Google Docs forever, I would still like know what other tools are out there for online assessment, especially for Math units.

Lastly, if you would like to join my Google+ Community or classroom to follow my progress please click here for the community, and you can join my classroom by logging into Google Classroom and entering the class code: pte2zq. Don’t feel obligated to join by any means just an option to those interested!

 

My Experience With Youtube Editor // Who Let the Dogs Out?

I was recently asked to check out and review one content creators we have talked about in ECMP 455. I chose to look at the video editor that Youtube has. Not only was this something I had never tried, but it is was something I had never even heard of. Before diving in I watched a how-to video so that I would have a bit of a starting point rather than going in clueless. After watching the video I decided to try it out for myself.

To use the video editor option you have to be signed into your Youtube or Google account. Once you get to the homepage of the video editor, you will see a blank video screen beside all of your own Youtube videos you have created (see below).

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My homepage of Video Editor

I think had I not watched the how-to video I would been very confused on how to begin. It is not clear from this page how to easily access Creative Common videos. However, I really enjoy that with this editor you can use your own videos with videos on Youtube. As a teacher, it would be very easy to create your own online lecture and then use this tool to remix your video with other videos that tie into the lesson (ie. a lecture on fractions could be remixed with a fun video of a song to memorize numerator/denominator). Youtube has all kinds of videos as well as songs available for the public to edit with.

CC is for creative commons, and this section is the Youtube videos that the public can use to edit/remix videos with.

Another great thing about the video editor is how simple it is to select and drag videos/audio. By searching under the CC or the audio section you can select the item you want to use and simply drag it to the bottom. It is also very simple to edit video and audio to the desired time length.

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Just search the song/audio you would like to use, select, and drag down to {add audio} box

Altogether I think I will use this tool in creating an online unit as well as into my teaching career. The one thing I would change is being able to upload your own videos without uploading them as a Youtube video beforehand. I could not figure out how to add my own personal video to the one I was creating from on the editor; there was only an “Add Photo” option. I do believe iMovie is a stronger video editing tool; however, this editor is easy to access as well as efficient for classrooms and students who do not have MacBooks. Also, anytime something is saved online it can be accessed from any device with internet access which is a huge plus. I always enjoy working on projects that save automatically online, because the worry of losing all of my hard work is too much to handle. Here is my own video that I have been editing throughout the week! So to finish

Enjoy some adorable dogs with a catchy classic:

Learning How to Teach Learning (Online)

In ECMP 355 we were asked to learn a skill using online resources; I chose to learn how to do different hairstyles. This semester, for ECMP 455, we have been given the option to do that learning project again or to create an online unit. I have chosen to create an online unit; for me, this will be a learning project in itself, because I have not yet created a unit of any kind let alone an online unit.

My unit will be based on an outcome from the Saskatchewan grade 8 Math curriculum (I have narrowed down an exact unit). To prepare for creating my unit I have done some research on the best practices of online units/flipped classrooms. One article I read gave me seven general tips for getting started. I think the most important tip from the article was to choose the specific objectives to focus on in advance. If I have everything I want to teach planned out in advance I know what direction to go in, and then I am less likely to get off task or fall behind in my unit planning. Another helpful article I read said that “designing for the online environment presents unique challenges, but it also opens a world of exciting possibilities for engaging students in their learning.” I think this is a really great way for teachers to view online units. Yes, it may be intimidating and challenging in the beginning but creating online units can be innovative and especially beneficial to your students. My favorite part of flipped classrooms is that when students start the assignments or projects, the teacher can be there to help and guide them because students watch the lectures or lessons at home and then have class time to complete their schoolwork. The goal for my online unit is to make it completely student-accessible.

During this unit, there are a few things I definitely want to accomplish. I want to do at least one lesson through a Youtube lecture. Here is a short and simple example that of the type of lecture that I would like to do. I like how clear the audio is as well as how visible the writing on the whiteboard is.

I also think I will use Google+. We use this for my ECMP class and I really enjoy how accessible and easy to navigate it is. Another bonus of using an online community or network is that it is very easy for parents to access as well as track their child’s progress. I am really looking forward to getting started. My first step will be to decide on a specific unit and then pick out the objectives and indicators I would like to meet. If you have any ideas or anything you would like me to try involving other online resources please comment below.

Stay tuned!

Welcome (Back)!

Hello!

If you don’t yet know me my name is Alex, and if you already know me, welcome back to my blog! Unfortunately, blogging is not something I keep up with as much as I would like, but I am looking forward to another semester of ECMP to get me back into the action of putting my thoughts into words.

“About the author”

I am in my second year of university in the Secondary Ed. Program; my major is Math and my minor is Inclusive Education. Some of my favorite things to do between school and work are walking my dog, playing basketball, going out for food, and scrolling through Twitter. I think the reason I love Twitter so much is because you can connect to so many different resources about all kinds of topics. Although I do use Instagram and Facebook, Twitter is definitely my favorite social media website; my own twitter account features everything from world news to Math resources for teachers to hilarious dog memes. I did not understand how to utilize twitter to my full advantage before last year when I took ECMP 355.

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Me and my adorable dog, Callie after a long walk this winter

ECMP

This semester I am in ECMP 455 with Alec Couros; I have taken ECMP 355 with Alec as well as Katia Hildebrandt. For the most part, I still use all of the tech tools they introduced me to. When I took ECMP 355 I was very new to a lot of the websites and resources we used, and I find I am still learning new things about these tools even a year after I took that course. For ECMP 455 I have thought of 3 goals I would like to achieve by the end of the semester:

  1. I would like to become more aware of how to create an online unit. When I was in high school I remember how frustrating it could be working on homework and having questions, but having no way to communicate with your teacher to answer those questions. I would love to learn how to efficiently use things like Google+, Twitter, Youtube, and more to be able to fully benefit my future students.
  2. Blogging, blogging, and more blogging. I think blogging would be a great place to share my world views; however, I am still a little intimidated of it. One of the best personal websites I’ve seen, and that we referred to a lot in ECMP 355, is Katia’s, so I think her Youtube videos on blogs would be a good place to start learning. I also think that getting the opportunity to consistently write and share my ideas for this class will help me become a more confident blogger (or at least that’s the goal).
  3. Becoming a strong voice for social justice is something I would love to achieve this semester. This was something I struggled with in ECMP 355 because I was always nervous about what someone else’s retort may be, or by getting trolled. However, I understand how important it is for educators to be a voice for people of minority and a voice for what is right. Social media, like Twitter, is a great place to raise these issues and to inform people by sharing articles or videos. I think that I just need a little more guidance on the best and most effective way to do this.

Altogether, I am mainly looking to broaden my knowledge of EdTech and prepare myself for my future career.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

-John Dewey

Alex’s Low Down on EPSY 324

Hello! It has been a long time since I have blogged, but in one of my night classes we were asked to do a summary of learning in whatever form we wanted, so I chose to blog. Underneath is a list of what I thought were the most prominent things I learned throughout this course. Enjoy 🙂

#1: The Four Pillars

The Four pillars of assessment definitely stick out as one of the most prominent topics I have learned this semester. “What are the four pillars of assessment?” you might ask.

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Visual of The Four Pillars

 

They are Norm-Referenced Tests, Interviews, Observations, and Informal Assessment Procedures. Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that are scaled so that each score is ranked by the defined norm group is. These tests can assess intelligence, reading, mathematics, writing, adaptive behaviour, and more. The second pillar, Interviews, are for the assessor to gain more information from the child, his/her parents, the teacher, and other people that are familiar with the child. The purpose of interviews are to get a big picture of the child because everyone views things differently and a child’s behaviour and capability can change as they change their environment throughout the day. Observations which is the third pillar involves viewing the child in their normal environment. A person does this because a child might be an entirely different person outside of their comfortable surroundings. This pillar is especially important if the assessor does not already have a relationship with the child, and when doing your observations it is important to observe in many different surroundings to be able to tell what is causing a child’s behaviour to change. The last pillar is informal assessment procedures which can be criterion-referenced tests (if you are not sure what this means keep reading), writing samples, phonics tests, prior school records, etc. These informal procedures help to decide which interventions may be best suited to each child. These four pillars are very important because assessments lead to making decisions about a child’s education, and without all four pillars you do not get the whole picture of that child.

 

#2: Criterion-Referenced vs. Norm-Referenced

Before this course, I had never heard of criterion or norm-referenced tests before so when asked what the difference was between the two I had no idea. Norm-referenced means the results of a child’s test are going to be compared to what is considered normal for that child’s age, grade, or class. Criterion-referenced does not involve comparison to any other student. It simply means that the results will be given by how much the student got correct out of how many questions they were given in total. We watched a very helpful video in one of the classes (start video at 1:19 for information just about criterion-referenced vs. norm-referenced).

#3: Bias and Culture Fair Tests2b1c53ea0bd3c358c9dc33f392c569fc.jpg

One thing I believe to be an important topic is bias. There has been speculation about the validity of norm-referenced assessment because students of minorities tend to do worse on these assessments. Students from lower economic standing and students that are not from a western culture often are at a disadvantage from the beginning when it comes to these tests. The reason this affects the validity is because the test is not truly norm-referenced if students with an average IQ are scoring lower than they should just because of the vocabulary in the test or because their culture/social standing put them at a disadvantage. In an effort to overcome these biases, Culture-Fair tests were created. Culture Fair tests are defined as tests that attempt to provide equal opportunities for success for students with different cultures and life experiences.

#4: Don’t Drive Without A License

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No good can come of getting behind the wheel of a car with no license, and even with a license you aren’t gonna jump on a Harley having never driven a motorcycle. This analogy is a lot like doing assessments. To do an assessment you have to be comfortable and you also have to be prepared and have the right credentials depending on the assessment. Some assessments just require a class to use their test while others require you to be a registered psychologist. However, even with the correct credentials you should also be well prepared and feel comfortable administering any type of norm-referenced assessment.

#5: Intelligence Tests:

For the chapter presentations my group presented on Intelligence Tests and Adaptive Behaviour Scales. I learned a lot about what the different intelligence tests assess, what the results mean, as well as how they can be very beneficial to students. For our presentation, we met with a school psychologist (Tanya) who gave us a lot of information for our presentation. The one thing that really stuck with me was how to communicate the results to the family. Tanya said that on top of her entire report she writes she also likes to include visuals. For a lot of parents the language these assessments use is not very accessible for them. Providing visuals helps them to see the results instead of just reading them.

#6: Definitions:

To finish off my list of the important things I have learned in EPSY 324 I wanted to share some definitions I think are important from this course:

Splinter Skills: behaviour developed in isolation from related skills

Developmental Scales:  checklists of behaviour arranged by skill area in chronological order

Intelligence: A trait or construct associated with cognitive or intellectual capacity and directly to the potential or ability to learn

Adaptive Behaviour: The conceptual, social, and practical skills children need in their daily lives to function and to adapt to changes

Informant : Usually a teacher or parent who knows the student’s typical performance in real-life settings

Norm-Referenced Score – Compares student’s performance to others. Compares individual score to the average of the norm. The norm includes a wide range of students (cultural, ethnic, geographic, economic backgrounds).

Criterion- Referenced Score – describe what a student can do. If test items accurately reflect the instructional content the test score is sound. (Teacher made tests)

Although taking this course at the beginning of my teacher education was a bit intimidating, I am happy I have the knowledge of assessment to carry me through the next two and a half years of my degree and well into my teaching career. I would like to thank my prof, Carrie Dutkiwch, for her charismatic and intriguing class. This is one of those classes I know will give me the framework for much of my profession.