Technology brings success to my classroom! … And maybe some challenges.

As a young (okay, kind of young) teacher I think I have always incorporated technology into my classroom. We were taught in university that technology was the way to engage students.  In the online text Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning They explain blended learning as

  • technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
  • the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
  • the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms;

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In my class, I think I hit those bullet points and I try to incorperate as many relevant videos and ways to puttechnology into assignments as much as I can. I often find it useful to have a few shorter videos, combined with questions in between to get my point across. This way it is a mixture of instruction and discussion from me, an expert from a medium they love (YouTube) and their own thoughts and feelings. In the text book, they explain that “Means et al. attributed the slightly better performance of blended learning to students spending more time on task” but my immediate thought was does that mean they are interested?

When I do this type of lesson it is usually one of the better days in a grade 11 and 12 ELA classroom. I find that I can evoke emotion through discussion, I engage them with the videos, and then usually force them to do the questions. But even thinking back to my last lesson on Waymo (Google’s Driverless Car) I had the most success with that assignment in that most of my students handed the assignment in, we had lengthy discussions, and my favourite part… opinions!


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I have taken two other classes from Alec and each time have tried to implement his teachings into my class. The first semester, I fully embraced Google Classroom. I was very hesitant and honestly struggled a bit. At first, it was annoying for me to figure out how to post things. I had so many sections of ELA, and it seemed redundant to have to post in so many places… Then I saw the feature to copy it to multiple classes. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a paper copy of assignments to make edits on, so I found editing harder….But then I learnt how to comment and highlight. Lastly, I didn’t like that their parents didn’t have physical evidence of their work so they could help them… Then I realized I could add them as guardians and they could get a weekly memo about my class, automatically, without me doing anything.

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I feel like Google Classroom has changed my classroom for the better. I purely use it as a management tool. I can post with attachments, whether they are an assignment, a video, or a resource. Students can make a copy of the assignment and add their answers right on document, they can hand the assignment into me on Google Classroom, and from there I can edit their work and send it back for edits and improvements. This has been a great tool for me to use for Formative Assessment. I am able to work w

ith students on their writing and show them how to fix it instead of rewriting their whole answer on paper, or having them take a glance at all my hard work, only to be put in the back of their binder without the improvements. It has also allowed me to keep in touch with parents. There is some accountability on them, but mostly the students. They don’t have anymore excuses about not handing things in, or not getting an assignment. It can be accessed anywhere which is perfect.

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At the same time, I was learning about Blogging and I was very excited. I was having fun with learning the new tools, but having a hard time motivating my students. I thought if I could teach them how to do their assignments online, they could add pictures of vehicles and write about the fun things they were reading about and watching. Instead it was an uphill battle. My students hated all of it. I think I had one student actually enjoy it, but gave up after a bit. I had so many comments about wanting to read and write about cars, but not wanting to find pictures and learn about attributions. My students honestly slowed down and seemed less engaged in my class. I think with blogging it was a case of reading my audience. My students are hands on learners. They love to work on vehicles and solve problems physically. Most of them hate reading and writing, so adding another element did not bode well for me.

MyBlueprint is another way I have implemented technology with my class. There we complete goals, learn about the trades, but most importantly, we create a portfolio of their learning in Auto. Students are able to post pictures of work they have done, make goals related to employable skills and essentially set up a portfolio to show future employers. I like the idea of MyBlueprint because it is accessed by my students homeroom teachers who can see what their students are up to. Eventually I would like to put Sask. Youth Apprenticeship on MyBlueprint to make it easier for students to access and learn about.

In Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they say that “blended learning, should be deliberately introduced and gradually increased as students work through a program, so by the time they graduate, they have the skills to continue to learn independently – a critical skill for the digital age.” I feel like I would be doing my students a disservice by not making them do these types of activities. Plus, you can’t ignore the evidence. In the article The Myth about No Significant Difference They describe “Learning is an active process. In fact, the more active the learning is, the more likely the student is to learn. Simulations allow students to learn by doing. Visualizations enable students to see information that may have been hidden in tables of numbers. Students use technology as a key enabler in problem-based learning, searching for background information, conferring with team members, and using the tools of the profession to develop solutions.” I preach all the time that my class prepares students for the future. I want them to be ready to work when the time comes. I need to implement this type of learning so I can make productive members of society.

I think this semester in Alec’s class will be great because I will be exploring sites that allow me to create whole units online. Make interactive lessons that can be accessed anywhere. Also, my lessons possibly recorded so students can access information (flipped learning… I just learnt this term). I feel like it will be Google Classroom on steroids. I am really excited to see how I can take my class and make it more interactive and interesting for my students.

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Good things come in threes!

Hello!

My name is Amy Ranford and I am a grade 11 and 12 teacher with Regina Public Schools. I teach at Campus Regina Public which is one of my favourite places. I teach in a career oriented school. Follow us on Instagram @crp_campusreginapublic

My class focuses on Auto Mechanics. We not only prepare our students for their chosen career, but also how to be employable. CRP has industry partners who help us train our students in real life situations which helps them gain employment. You can read more about me and my school in my very first blog post for Alec.

Over the last few semesters I have become so much more comfortable with technology.  Every time I have taken Alec’s class I have not only been successful, but I have always learned something useful for the classroom, more importantly, the classmates are always willing to help each other and I guess those are the reasons so many people take his classes over and over again!

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I can genuinely say I am excited to be part of this class. Technology is taking over the world, and as I get older, I realize that my students know way more than I do.


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This class is a way to collaborate with fellow teachers, get outside perspectives and try out new tools in order to engage students. The other thing I love is that technology can also make my job easier. I have implemented many tools I have explored in Alec’s classes like Google classroom, and I never look back. Google Classroom has allowed me to post assignments, edit assignments and even communicate with students. Through this class I have also learned skills like blogging where I can import Giphys and link to other websites. Most importantly, I have learned about internet safety and health which has helped me become a better teacher to my students.

This semester, three goals I have for this semester are:

  1. Learn a new tool for creating online videos. I have previously used PowToon and loved it, but it is time to expand my knowledge.
  2. I would like to make Twitter a part of my daily life. I have made this a goal before, but I need to be more active, find more useful educators and maybe some funny comedians to make Twitter more useful and engaging. You can follow me! @amy_ranford
  3.  I want to create resources that are not only good for me, but will help other teachers as well I have a couple of ideas about issues. I see in my own school division. I would like to create online presentations that will help other teachers help students with their transition from high school to post secondary or the work force.

I feel like I have never been busier. I am currently working two full-time jobs, I will be helping my school organize Skills Canada, the CRP Car Show and I would like to rock this class. I have a two-year old niece that I am obsessed with and would like to go on a trip this winter! The only reason I feel like I can do this is because of the support Alec and the classmates have given me in the past.

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I feel like I am still new to the world of online tools, but I am more than willing to help people with the things I do know, so please feel free to ask me any questions. I look forward to this semester and seeing everyone’s Prototypes!