WEEK 6: Oct 15-21

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a district wide in-service on 21st Century Learning. I must say I was quite anxious to listen to the presenters on what direction we were going to take over the next three years but more importantly how the district was going to support those goals.

The district’s strategic plan will be to focus on three areas, students, staff and system. Each element described with the following objective.

Students: Achieving and in the 21st century within a healthy and active, safe and caring and socially- just learning environment.

Staff: Professionally empowered to support and promote student achievement and success.

System: Continuously improving organizational effectiveness to support student achievement and success.

More information on 21st Century Learning can be found here.

Some of the keys points I took away from the presentation are outlined below.
  • Teachers need to allow students to be more creative and innovative. The old approach of lecture education has passed. The move to 21st century learning will allows students to have a more active role in their education and learning. One way to ensure this to have meaning is to prepare students to be critical thinkers.

  • To ensure our students to become critical thinkers will make students aware that what they are learning has meaning to them as individuals. By having students ask questions and developing their research skills will prepare students to be lifelong contributing members of society.

  • It is important that as we work to provide students with real life opportunities to develop the four c’s and the three r’s that we realize and utilize all learning environments. The traditional classroom is giving way to an any where any place any time learning environment.

To listen to the direction our district will be taking us over the next three years it makes one excited that they have decided to embrace the new trends in technology and have decided to have all parties play an active role in the journey. One thing I did find disappointing was that the presentation did not address how the district and the provincial government were going to provide the resources to schools over the next three years. Not all schools are the same. The ability to purchase the materials required to ensure students and teachers take advantage of the 21st century path is paramount. A carpenter is not able to build a house without the proper tools and nor can educators. If the cost for purchasing ever-changing tools of technology is passed down to schools then it will be a clear case of the have schools doing well and the have not schools fighting to stay afloat. There has to be equity to ensure ALL students have an equal opportunity to have the best possible learning environment as they move through the educational system.

One thing I did find to be a little surprised with while attending the in-service was the way the district presented the material to its audience. My guess was that approximately 500 teachers assembled in a gymnasium to listen to presenters. Unfortunately the 21st Century Presentation was delivered in a 19th Century style. I just found this to be a little weird that's all.

Much of my time spent this week was spent on reading the assigned readings for the week and writing jot notes to prepare for a reflection. In addition to the readings much of my time was finding resource material for the next assignment which will be due at the end of November.

WEEK 7: Oct 22-28

To prepare for the final project our group has decided to collaborate using google docs. I have used google docs in the past and have found it to be very useful. Each member of the group has the ability to make additions, deletions and editing in real time. It provides for a great framework for how the WebQuest will look.

While working on the readings for this week a very interesting issue was brought up at work. With the high number of mobile devices being brought to school by students there was a discussion regarding the need for a Bring Your Own Technology to school policy. A fine line exists between having students use their mobile devices for educational purposes and then allowing students to use their devices for their own personal use. What is acceptable? What are students permitted to do with their mobile devices? These are very interesting questions that must be answered before preparing a mobile device policy.

After doing a little research to help make the decision on what the policy will contain I was able to find an article that had some interesting information to consider.

The Innovative Educator

WEEK 8: Oct 29-Nov 4

Very busy week at work preparing for an upcoming Scholastic Book Fair. In addition our school is currently having an assessment done to determine the hot spots for installing a WiFi system in the school. The ultimate goal will be to purchase a class set of ipads where teachers will be able to check them out from the resource center when they will be needed.

To prepare for this I began to do some research by contacting a number of colleagues who have gone through similar situations. After speaking with a number of them I found a very interesting common theme amongst them. In all cases many of the classroom ipads were hardly ever used. When asked for the reason surprisingly it was the same response. Teachers did not feel comfortable working with the ipads in their classroom because they never owned one and never received professional development before hand.

The main recommendation was that teachers be supplied an ipad prior to receiving a class set. At least one or two months prior will provide ample time for teachers to get familiar with the ipad so that once the class set arrives then teachers will already feel comfortable using the technology.

A colleague of mine going through a similar situation at work sent along an interesting article dealing with the use of ipads in a school and the trouble with allocation and sharing.

Pain and Remedies of Sharing Ipads in Schools

This will continue to be a burning issue and one that will need to be resolved prior to implementation.

WEEK 9: Nov 5-Nov 11

With three weeks remaining before assignment 3 is due to be passed in we are making good progress. Working on various aspects of the webquest and providing feedback with different perspectives has worked well. Using google docs has proven to be a valuable venue since editing can be done in real time and this helps to keep everyone on track. With different schedules to deal with it is very difficult to meet as a whole for long periods of time so this approach seems to be working. The work distribution is another aspect that has worked well. By working on your own element and sharing it with your group members for feedback has worked well thus far.

The next step was to collaborate on the website. As a group we decided to use Weebly which is a nice site for individuals to collaborate and work on a common web design. This seems to be working very well and a good way for individuals to get things done and avoiding the troubles of coordinating schedules. I must admit I was not familiar with the Weebly site and find it to be very user friendly and one that I will continue o use in my own classroom with my students.

WEEK 10: Nov 12-Nov 18

One of the suggestions we discussed as a group is to create a couple of sample materials to compliment the lesson and webquest. Students had to provide a reflective journal to go along with the webquest. I decided to have a couple of my grade four students to do the vacation planner webquest. The group of three students took the information provided from the assignment and were given a week to develop a presentation. The group decided to do a vacation planner presentation about an African Safari to Kenya Africa. Here is a copy of their project.

For the final two weeks before our deadline for submitting assignment 3 we decided to divide up the jobs required for the completion of the assignment. After collaborating for the past two weeks using Google docs it is clear that we have a definitive direction on what we wish to include in our WebQuest. Steps were then taken to begin adding content to the Weebly website. In addition to the content material a detailed lesson plan had to compliment the website and any and all resource elements documented and sourced in order to be added to the final paper to be submitted.

In addition to working on the final assignment the majority of my time was spent on adding content to my e-portfolio. Thinking of ways to ensure the e-portfolio is something to be utilized once this course has completed and to have it as a resource site for myself and colleagues will prove to be very beneficial.

WEEK 11: Nov 19-Nov 26

This was an extremely important week. In addition to completing assignment 3 the final portfolio is due as well. Very interesting indeed since this was the exact time our school
was doing report cards and our annual Scholastic Book Fair. Time management was the top priority for the week and ensuring that all the required items that were due were met on the set deadline dates.

Working with Weebly has been an interesting experience. I find it to be very user friendly however it does not give you the flexibility as other programs like Microsoft Expression Web and KompoZer to name a couple. I would however recommend the use of Weebly in the classroom to be used with students.
Below is a screen capture of our WebQuest Homepage.

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