Tag Archives: technology

Stars are Born!

I believe that we can engage children and have them truly own and demonstrate their learning success by incorporating multimedia learning in the classroom. This belief was reinforced by a few projects that I worked on with a class of Grade One students who I had the pleasure of working with for the past six weeks.

Anytime a child believes he has an audience for his ‘performance’ he will be more engaged and concerned about his production and success. Tell a child that she will be in a movie or on a poster and her eyes will light up. Kids are natural performers. Even the reluctant, shy ones will smile and be excited when they see themselves on the screen or in print.

One of the first activities we did was to create a ‘number hunt’ where the kids had my camera and were in charge of walking around the school to find things that were found in groups of one, two, etc.. After the pictures were taken, I used Sliderocket to put together a presentation that we shared with our class, another class and with the parents and guardians by sending the URL home for them. I was also able to download it and print it so that after it was laminated it became a popular book for the children to read to themselves, reinforcing both counting and number words. Relating to their own environment and relevant objects was important.  You can see our presentation HERE.

On Groundhog Day, we used Wallwisher to record the information that we had learned about groundhogs and the traditions around the day. The kids were thrilled to see their names being recorded on the screen and they again shared the URL with their families at home to re-read and share. We used Wallwisher again when doing a KWL session on nutrition, food,  and reasons that we eat.

We made Photovisi presentations that we printed out to record our 100th day of school activities and our Valentine’s Day fun. The picture stories with their photos were great for retelling events, ordering events and sharing with our school community and children’s homes.

The most fun we had was producing our very short YouTube video showcasing the digraph /sh/. Going through the process of learning about the sound, watching similar project videos by Kathy Cassidy’s students, brainstorming words, preparing our ‘props’, and then the steps of actually producing our video was intriguing, interesting, and motivational. The video was put together using Movie Maker and uploaded to YouTube. The kids felt like superstars! The joy and pride on their faces while watching the finished product was proof that they were invested in it. They truly had tried their very best, knowing that they would have an audience beyond the immediate classmates and teacher. Sharing the product with their parents and guardians was an exciting event!

These kids were amazing writers, actors, directors and producers. They had not had experience with creating these kinds of multimedia presentations and they were eager to be a part of it. Their enthusiasm and pride was evident and they were completely engaged in learning to share what they knew. These projects were fun and engaging and these children were truly ‘stars.’ The knowledge that they could have an audience beyond their classroom was motivating for them. Their desire to show what they knew and teach others was a huge source of pride. They were superstars and I am very proud of them!

This particular school does not have many technological resources. In a Kindergarten to Grade Eight school with approximately 550 students they have 30 laptops for the whole school and one computer per classroom. There are 4 additional computers in the resource center and one interactive whiteboard housed in a Grade 8 classroom. These could be considered limitations but the amazing projects that we were able to create are proof that there are some wonderful tools that allow us to incorporate learning and technology for kids to create with.

The problem that I have seen isn’t a lack of tools but seems to be a lack of teacher engagement with these tools. Is it fear of the new tools or an unawareness of the tools? How do we get more teachers to see the benefits of their use and to take the risk to try them?

My Learning Addiction

When people find out that I’ve just completed a university class and have registered for another one next term, years after getting my Bachelor of Education degree, they often ask one of the following questions:

Are you getting your Masters? (No.)

Do you *have to* take this class? (No.)

Well then, *why would you* take a class?

The fact that I would invest my time, energy,  and money into a course without there being a requirement from someone to do so is shocking to many people, but the truth is, I love learning.  I love to be innovative and to try new things and to implement methods and ideas before they become mainstream.  And, truth be told, I am hoping to get myself back into a classroom of my own, after being away from the profession for a few years.   I have been substitute teaching for over a year and I am really shocked at how few people seem to be embracing and utilizing technology and digital learning in the classroom.  I took ECMP355, Technology in the Classroom, to help me understand how digital learning can be utilized to create amazing, motivating learning experiences and environments and now I am excited to start implementing what I have learned.  ECMP355 gave me the chance to be quite self-directed and I was enthusiastic and motivated to explore and participate.  I love learning, and this was a great way for me to re-enter the formal education arena.

Self-directed learning and exploration is what struck me as being the ‘idea’ behind ds106, which is a free open online course called Digital Storytelling.  I’ve heard ds106 thrown around in connection to its live-streaming station that is used to broadcast projects from this course and found that there was a keynote address about the ds106 on the K12 Online Conference 2011.

What strikes me is the sheer numbers of people who are choosing to become involved with ds106.  The voluntary participation in the assignments for the course is amazing and the quality of work that is being produced, ‘just because’ is quite astounding!

Jim Groom, who presents the keynote in a light, entertaining fashion, suggests that ds106 might be a ‘cult’ or an ‘addiction’ and as someone who loves to learn, I can see why people get so caught up in it.  It’s an amazing creative outlet in a supportive community of people who share and create together.

The theme of the K12 Online Conference 2011 is Purposeful Play, and you can see how people are playing together, sharing ideas, having fun and being engaged in the ds106 community.  There is definitely something to be said for using this type of platform to learn.  It becomes something that we enjoy doing, want to do more of, continue to do, and yes, perhaps get addicted to doing.  And we learn from it and become part of a supportive community as we go.

How can it possibly be shocking to people to want to be involved in something as awesome as all that?