My journey as a secondary science teacher candidate at UVIC

Author: elsabetlapointe (Page 1 of 3)

Canva in the Classroom!!

 

Well the time has come to share my ed-tech resource project worked on alongside my partner in crime in this class, Mary! This resource project began as a somewhat daunting task but it was easily facilitated by our chosen resource for both the source of this project and the developed Edtech resource as well! Welcome to the world of Canva!

If you don’t know what Canva is, it is a design platform with a whole variety of templates from presentations to infographics, brochures, social media friendly designs and more! You can even create your own personal zoom background! It allows you to almost effortlessly create beautiful documents that truly enhance your content! You can use it on a computer, tablet or phone, although it definitely lends itself better to a larger screen environment such as those found on tablets or computers. As you can see below, there are lots of templates to choose from and these are just a few of the template categories available!

It has a free platform which allows you to do just about everything, but there is a pro account that you can sign up for to gain access to more templates, elements, more storage and other features. The pro account isn’t the cheapest to access ($16.99/month),  and given the capabilities within the free option,  I see no reason to upgrade at this time.

The other amazing discovery we made about Canva was its education platform! Canva for education is free to registered teachers and allows teachers to share Canva with their students. It integrates with google classroom as well! Students can create work individually or collaboratively and it provides a visually stimulating way for them to create a variety of different designs, presentations and more. Teachers can also use it to create worksheets, a virtual classroom, class decorations, presentations and more! Teachers can also join the Canva for Teachers facebook community to further connect with educators using Canva.

Now, of course as with any tech tool it is important to consider access and inclusive education principles prior to using it, as well as to ensure it meets all of the privacy concerns. From what we can tell, it looks as though it is good on that end, but it would be wise to run it by your tech advisor in your district to double check!

Last but not least, Canva offers free design tutorials through Canva Design School! So if you are like me and are loving the tool but want to learn how to get the most out of your designs and Canva, these tutorials are an awesome way to develop your skills. They are broken up into several tutorials so you can work away on them at your own rate. Oh and did I mention they are free?

All in all, I can truly say that Canva is a tool I will continue to use and that I look forward to implementing in the classroom. As mentioned in our Canva resource accompanying this blog, it is a great visually stimulating multimodal tool for both students and teachers across all disciplines! I have used it to create several projects and it comes highly recommended from me!

Other Canva projects we have created: 

My Inquiry project for Seminar- How to Empower girls to engage with science?

My Edtech inquiry documented on this blog- Learning danish

My Multiliteracies in the Classroom Project- Environmental Stewardship Projects

A sample worksheet (made my Mary)- Crafting Dialogue Worksheet

Final Inquiry Update

As we approach the end of the semester, I thought I would do a summary post of my danish accomplishments thus far! In looking back on my first few inquiry posts, I certainly have made some progress in the world of the danish language, but have plenty more still to learn. The reality is that this semester has left less time to do things outside of school than I had initially predicted, but nonetheless I have managed to integrate this new language routine into my life. I am proud of my ability to have stuck with my language learning and I am happy to have developed a habit that I plan to keep up in the future.

I have created a summary document on Canva sharing my danish learning journey throughout this semester!

As I reflect back on this inquiry project, I will admit I was bit skeptical of how it would all pan out at the start! Being someone who really appreciates structure, I found the lack of scaffolding a bit paralyzing at first, but it forced me develop my own. Through the use of Trello as well as my own handwritten lists upon lists and a well organized planner, I was able to plan out and develop my own structure for the project. As a future teacher, this experience has given me insight into what an inquiry project might feel like for students. On one hand the freedom is liberating and exciting, and on the other it also is a bit overwhelming!

I am grateful that this class gave me a justified reason to set time aside to learn something I am passionate about. I can say without a doubt, that had I not had the accountability of this inquiry project, I would not have started learning danish again this semester. What I have discovered though is that even 5 minutes a day is progress and as cheesy as it sounds, it really has fed a part of my soul that I would otherwise have neglected. Perhaps that is the real advantage of an inquiry project! Moving forward, I plan to keep up my danish learning! I am still a ways away from where I would like to get with the language but I have definitely made some progress and look forward to improving! In the near future I am looking forward to spending a Danish Christmas with my family, partaking in all of the danish traditions over the holidays, and maybe even muttering a few words of Danish along the way!

Farvel og glaedelig jul!

Week 10: Inquiry Update- Back to the basics

This is a typical page in my journal!

This week I thought I would share something non tech-oriented but that has certainly helped me along with my danish learning the last couple of months! Alongside my Duolingo lessons, I have also kept a small book with me that jot down any rules, vocabulary etc. as I go. This has been really helpful for me to refer back to as I go along or when I go back to do a review lesson. As much as Duolingo does build on itself, there is a lot to remember and having a reference to look and catalogue my learning has been incredibly helpful!

For those of you who have been following along, you will know that I have been loving many of the features of Duolingo! My one complaint has been that you end up figuring out some of the grammatical rules on your own.  Rather than outlining the rules they are taught through examples. That is where having this book to record as I go and note the trends I see is really helpful! In doing this it does help for sure that I have learnt french before, so I am familiar with the language learning process. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend accompanying any language learning with some form of journal or notebook!

Furthermore as I move forward beyond this inquiry project and perhaps beyond Duolingo as I progress, I hope this book will prove to be a valuable resource for myself in my danish learning journey!

 

Apps for teaching and learning

Last week we compiled a list of apps during my Wednesday observation sessions that I thought I would share here with you all! I have not used most of these but they come at recommendations from my peers and mentor teachers and I will certainly be looking to try some out!

Digital storytelling, timelines and mindmaps

  • Padlet: timelines and mindmaps
  • Mindmup: mindmaps
  • Twine: digital story telling
  • Sutori: digital storytelling, timelines
  • Storyboard that

Online presentations and templates

  • Canva
  • Prezi
  • Mentimeter
  • Haiku deck
  • Pixtochart

Graphic Novels/Comic books

  • Pixton
  • Comic Life 3
  • Storybird

Video curation

  • Biteable
  • Thinglink
  • Animoto

Quiz apps and Grading apps

  • Quizlet
  • Kahoot
  • Socrative
  • Gradecam- grading
  • Classmarker- grading

Other

  • Classcraft: gaming
  • Commonlit: reading help
  • Google Expeditions: VR tours and AR experiences

 

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

Inquiry with Trevor Mackenzie

 

“Agency is for ALL STUDENTS, not just the kids who are dying for it”- Trevor Mackenzie

This past week Trevor Mackenzie joined us for class to talk about inquiry! After hearing from Jeff Hopkins and discussing inquiry in a variety of settings outside of this class it was valuable to hear from a teacher who is implementing inquiry within the public school system I am planning to teach in! The fact that inquiry can exist within the public school system and not just in satellite schools was reassuring to hear as I have been struggling to imagine this occurring outside of those specialized schools. I am reminded both by Trevor and by my mentor Teachers during my observation days that this all starts with the teacher and how you show up to class. Sure, the tech and all the bells and whistles that might be available to work with at a specialized private school are cool and can certainly open up opportunities, but it is by no means essential to leading successful inquiry projects. Inquiry is much more about classroom community!

As touched on in this video, Trevor really emphasized the idea of getting to that un-google-able questions as a way to provoke thinking and inquiry! Both as a teacher and students asking these big questions are at the heart of inquiry.

As I think about implementing inquiry in my own classroom, I find myself struggling to imagine balancing it all within the curriculum as well. Trevor really emphasized knowing your curriculum, which I recognize will come with time, and then finding that spot in the curriculum where students can have more choice. This is the spot where inquiry can thrive! Ultimately students are not going to remember all of the content that you teach, but if you give them diverse empowering ways to learn they will remember those learning experiences.

When considering using inquiry in your classroom, it is important to look at it as a partnership. As much as this is student-centred constructivist learning it is not a free for all. There needs to be adequate scaffolding and accountability involved as well. It is also important that you consider the skills of your students when introducing an inquiry project. If they are lacking some skills don’t throw them into the deep end of inquiry! That being said, inquiry should be challenging and provoke growth, so it is all about finding that fine line!

When I think about inquiry, one of the features of it I am drawn to the most is the in which you can use inquiry to diversify assessment. Within the science discipline, my own educational experience has been largely restricted to some formative assessment, with a heavy weight on summative assessments . These were frequently in the form of quizzes and tests. However looking back on the opportunities I did have to do more project based learning through science fairs, I remember feeling much prouder about my work and learning there than I ever did about getting a good test grade. Given that the university system is still largely based on tests, I think it is important to still have student write tests, particularly in senior science classes, however I would love to be able to diversify the forms of assessment that I can offer in my class. Inquiry projects are certainly one way to get there! Not all kids will perform to their true ability on tests, however if you provide them an opportunity to show their knowledge in their own way you might be surprised to learn just how much they know in comparison to their test grade.

After Trevor’s guest lecture I certainly have a lot of take-aways! I appreciate hearing inquiry from the public school perspective and will certainly look to learn more about this world moving into my own teaching practice.

Want to learn more aboutTrevor? 

Check out: 

Our EDCI 336 class resource blog here

Trevor’s own website here!

Trevor’s book

Inclusive Education and Assistive Technology

This week we had an incredibly relevant and informative guest lecture from Tracey Humphreys who is the founder and chair of BCEdAccess! BCEdAccess Society is an organization of parents and guardians who work to help support and advocate for families of students with disabilities in BC. Furthermore, the organization is entirely volunteer-run! In hearing Tracey’s speak about her own story and the barriers that parents frequently face within the education system, I can only imagine how important this organization has been for many families. In many way this organization is doing the work to support parents and families that the education system isn’t!

One of the main barriers, families face with students with disabilities, or who are complex learners is the ability to obtain a formal psychoeducational assessment. From what I understand, this is a formal psychological assessment that provides a diagnosis of the individual which then gives the student access to receive support. These are very expensive to do privately (~$3000) and the waitlist to get one is lengthy. Schools can provide these, but there are very limited resources to do so. As a result many kids go through their entire education without a formal diagnosis. This is a major gap in the system, as without a formal designation these students aren’t truly eligible for the assistive supports that could be so pivotal for them in their education experience.

So how can we as teachers handle a diverse set of learners in our classroom?

Tracey really emphasized that teachers have control within their classroom. A differentiated instruction approach which allows for your planning to be flexible in to accommodate a variety of learners needs will be important in any classroom. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that any assistive tech designed for disabilities will likely be helpful for the entire classroom. The universal design principle is increasingly relevant here! Assistive technology is an inclusive tool, and when students lack access to these resources, they are excluded from the classroom. In remote learning, as many students are experiencing today due to Covid-19, these students lacking access to assistive tech are excluded from more than just their classroom, they are excluded in all environments.  As with any tech, it is important that is considered as one tool to help your student(s) and that it is not the be-all-end-all solution. Students need in person support too, and this has been increasingly apparent through Covid-19 and remote learning.

How can teachers assess a students’ needs?

Considering that teachers hold a lot of control as to what occurs within their classroom, it is important that they can assess students’ needs as well. It also can help them work on self advocacy with their students as well.

What does this look like?

  • Read IEP
  • Observe behaviour: behaviour is communicator for discomfort or a need.
  • Ask Family
  • Ask student
    • Consider creating a WIN manual with students at the start of term that outlines what students need. This should remain fluid throughout the year and can evolve or change as needed.
  • What do you have available? What can you get? What will you need to advocate for?

Hearing the reality of exclusion that occurs within our education system is disheartening, but it is also incredibly important as a teacher candidate! I feel there could be an entire course on inclusion and assistive technologies in the classroom, or at the very least a greater emphasis on these topics! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from Tracey today and I am committed to continue to learn about this topic moving forward! I am grateful for the EDCI 336 website being an open resource upon completion of this course as I will certainly draw on the assistive technologies post among many of the other resources curated for this course as I move through my career as a teacher.

I would like to finish this post off by sharing just one example of how assistive technology can help to bridge communication gaps! This video and accompanying write up are by Damon Kirsebom, titled: “When people see me typing”.

Want to engage more with BCEdAccess further?

Follow BCEdAccess on twitter

Follow Tracey Humphreys on twitter

Join the BCEdAccess public facebook page

For anyone looking at a good overview of where to start when it comes to advocacy, check out this BCEdAccess post

Other resources for families

Check MyBooklet BC: it is a FREE online tool that families and people with disabilities can use to create an information booklet outlining their own or their family member’s disability.

 

Photo by Daniel Ali on Unsplash

EdCamp Reflections

This past week, I had my first opportunity to participate in an EdCamp! It was a pretty cool experience and one that I would love to partake in again! What started as just our EdTech class evolved to another education cohort from UNBC and several seasoned educators! It was an incredible opportunity to share in conversation and learn from other teacher candidates and educators.

I partook in a two different rooms, one focused on implementing group work and the other on cross-curricular teaching! I would have loved to partake in more, but I got pretty wrapped up in the discussions and before I knew it the time was up. As I have learned from discussions during my weekly observation seminars there is so much to be learned from fellow educators and peers, and this EdCamp only reaffirmed that for me!

Room 1: Implementing group work

 

  • Group work can be effective and certainly helps to work on those soft skills. However, there are certainly challenges to group work and balancing equal participation.
    • We discussed outlining specific roles within the group at the start of the project to help scaffold some of the group work and leading to more equal participation.
  • Assessment can also be difficult for group, as you must decide to assess the group as a whole or to assign different marks within the group.
    • We discussed incorporating some form of self assessment that allowed for insight on the group’s perceptions of themselves individually and the group as a whole. We were for the most part in favour of these self assessments providing more insight than actual grading influence. The hope would be that involving students in their own assessment they might be more inclined to participate.
  • The UNBC cohort mentioned that they are entirely pass/fail graded. This was interesting to me and had certainly been something I have been thinking about with the few pass/fail classes currently a part of my semester. In some ways I really like them, as it removes a degree of anxiety, but I also find it a bit foreign and I am also someone who does appreciate having my hard work shown in a grade. Perhaps that is what has been conditioned in me though! Haha!
    • The insight on the pass/fail model from the UNBC cohort was that it provided and opportunity for community building by removing competition between students. It also allows for more intended learning rather than singular outcome based learning. I am grateful that I feel within my cohort we have established a supportive community and my experience has not been one in which peer-competition has existed. I can understand how removing some of those grading stresses might help to foster this community more though in certain cases!
    • Similarly the competency based focus of the BC Curriculum shifts away the emphasis from ‘grading identity’
Room 2: Cross-Curricular Teaching
  • Cross-curricular teaching is a really effective way to blend disciplines and modalities to enhance learning! From my own experience in my cross-curricular teaching class, I have found it to be so valuable and rewarding to collaborate interdisciplinary! In the real world though this is hard to practice! The system is not set up for cross-curricular collaboration outside of a few specific schools.
  • The shift in the BC Curriculum to focus on competencies can allow for increased collaboration, however if the system doesn’t support this teachers are often stuck within their own disciplines.
  • Cross-Curricular teaching needs to start in primary education, building through secondary education and move through the university system. Ultimately all of these educational stages need to be on board with interdisciplinary collaboration or it doesn’t work.

A final key takeaway that I really loved was that in a wolf pack the leader of the pack is the last inline. This leader oversees the entire pack, he ensures nobody is left behind and keeps the pack unified in his journey. Although we as teachers frequently stand at the front, this more holistic view of leadership is worth considering within our classrooms. Ultimately we as teachers should aim to ensure a strong learning community, and allow for student lead learning within their classroom while also guiding the class through learning together.

EdCamp #1 was definitely a success! Looking forward to participating in another one!

 

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Photo by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash

Photo by Swati H. Das on Unsplash

Inquiry Update 9: Can you really translate ‘Hygge’?

Hygge: a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

Pronounced: hyoo·guh

If you have perused any pinterest pages, bookstores or lifestyle blogs lately, you most likely have come across the word ‘hygge’. You can even buy a book on how to live hygge!

But what does ‘hygge’ really mean? A quick google search reveals the oxford language dictionary definition presented above which by all means accounts for much of what hygge means, but it is also a word that in my experience truly doesn’t exist in the english vocabulary. I grew up in a house where there was simply nothing better than being hyggeligt and the word hygge was used frequently. Although certainly enjoyable a hygge practice is much more intentional than lighting candles, cozy blankets. Hygge in my experience is much more about the practice of coming together and sharing homemade goods and conversation in the company of one another. The coziness of being comfortable and sharing space and time together. It is an informal and comfortable way of being, so yes it might involve some cozy knitted garments and blankets, alongside a calming interior Scandinavian design, candles and the works, but it is built on the foundation of connection.

For me growing up hygge times were often when my family was all at home and we had the opportunity to slow down and be in each others company. Frequently this was at the end of the day after dinner over a homemade desert and coffee, or on quiet Sunday afternoon after a weekend full of activities. Usually we were all curled up in our own spots in the living room but we were all together. Some days we might all be engaged in conversation, other times we might be in our own worlds, but we were always intentionally together. Even our dogs learned the cues for hygge time. Like us, they also enjoyed a treat at this time, an as a result, all of our dogs growing up and to this day know that once my mom turns the coffee machine on in the evening, it is a sure sign that they are getting a treat! Once they get their treat the dog always joins us in the living room too, curled up in their bed or on a lap!

So what does this all mean?

When it comes to practicing hygge, I do highly recommend it! But don’t feel as though you need to go and redesign your entire home! Hygge is much more about the time spent together in a comfortable and in some might say ‘cozy’ way. It is about sharing homemade goods collectively and enjoying these experiences together. It is a chance to be grounded and centred in the company of others.

I speak about hygge in more of an experience form rather than purely definition based because I truly don’t know if the word translates to english. It is an example of how culture can come to form a language! It is also a reminder that to truly learn a language, it helps to immersed in the culture! Fortunately, I have had this experience to some extent through my mom growing up but I would love to spend some time in Denmark fully embracing the culture and the language together!

And with that I hope I can inspire you all to find that hyggeligt feeling in your day to day! It is a practice that truly nourishes your soul!

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Inquiry update: Progress Report (Week 7 & 8)

The last few weeks have been pretty stressful and busy with the culmination of many projects and due dates at this point in the semester. All that to say, I have neglected the blogging sphere a bit with my free inquiry updates. Despite my lack of blogging about it though, the Danish learning is continuing! I proudly reached a 50 day streak of learning on Duolingo and I am certainly getting a better grasp of how the language works grammatically!

                       

I also finished the first block of lessons and have moved onto the 2nd block!

To this date I have completed the following lessons:

  • Basics 1
  • Basics 2
  • Phrases
  • Food
  • Animals
  • Definites
  • Plurals
  • Genitive

I have started to pick away at many of the lessons within the second block and look forward to making some solid progress on those! I continue to watch Brogen and am still far from truly understanding what they are saying but certain words pop out to me more and more. As I reflect on this inquiry project, I am thankful for the accountability it has provided me to really commit to something I have wanted to do for a while! In an incredibly busy school program such as this one, I am proud to have kept this habit going and look forward to keeping it going beyond this class!

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Inquiry Update 6: Other language learning apps

I have been very loyal and committed to my Duolingo app, but this week I thought I would try to explore some of the other apps that are out there! Now, unfortunately it appears as though Danish is not one of the most popular languages to learn so not all language apps support it but there are still several options out there to check out! Now admittedly, I am very committed to keeping my daily streak going on duolingo and do not currently have the time to fully check out all of these apps on top of my current daily danish habit but I have listed some options that are out there!

Babbel

Babbel, unlike Duolingo is not a free app although it does offer a free 7 day trial before you commit. Beyond that 7 day period it varies in cost from $9.99/month to $19.99/month depending on your subscription choice. Now, although this in the grand scheme of things isn’t a huge monthly cost, (many of us probably spend equal to or more on this a month in coffees out or through our Netflix subscriptions), it is definitely more costly than many of the other language apps out there. That being said, it does offer more flexibility in terms of your own learning design and a unique conversation platform within the app. In searching for apps, I also found it repeatedly recommended, which to me is a good sign.

Drops

Drops like Duolingo has a free and premium version (of note, there is a teacher and student discount). The premium version offers unlimited play time, lacks adds and has a few additional features to the app. Drops is highly vocabulary based, and uses visuals combined with words to teach you new words in the language of your choice. As such I think this would be a good starting app to learn a language from which you could develop a good vocabulary base to then take to a more advanced course or app. That being said, in my experience Duolingo does a good job of teaching you vocabulary alongside grammar so I think I would continue to recommend this over the Drops app if the learning intention is to get a good grasp on the language outside of vocabulary. The one feature that I eel really sets Drops apart is its travel specific category that can help you learn some of the more common phrases to know if you are travelling to that country. That travel application could be very useful when visiting a new country.

Mondly

Mondly is in many ways quite similar to duolingo in that it teaches you vocabulary and grammar simultaneously. It has a premium version which allows you to unlock further categories out of the learning sequence, but otherwise you can access it for free. It includes a conversation practice feature within the app which is a nice feature as well as something that Duolingo lacks at this time!

 

Now these are only a few of the apps available, as I mentioned there are many options out there and if you are choosing to learn a language I would recommend trying out a few as some might work better for you than others. Here are a few more that you can check out further if you are so inclined:

  • HelloTalk– an entirely conversation based app
  • OptiLingo– focuses on high frequency phases to learn first
  • Innovative Language 101– Learn a language through audio and video lessons
  • Rosetta Stone– A very comprehensive monthly subscription-based language course app

And if you want to really dive into and commit to a full language course: here are two online learning courses for danish!

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