My journey as a secondary science teacher candidate at UVIC

Category: EdTech (Page 1 of 2)

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

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!

 

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Photo by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash

Photo by Swati H. Das on Unsplash

Dialogue Circle: An opportunity to reflect on my personal learning networks

Today’s class was in the form of dialogue circle, albeit lacking a bit of the circle form as we were on zoom. Nevertheless it was an invaluable opportunity for us as a class and cohort to come together, reflect on how we are all doing so far in the semester and support each other. The online nature of this program can make you feel pretty lonely sometimes and today was an incredible reminder of the support network that exists within our cohort!

So what is a dialogue circle? This video shows some insight into how we ran ours today, and some of the education applications for dialogue circles. I really love how the video shows that in using dialogue circles, students are able to have equal voices in the classroom. In many ways, you are handing over some more agency to students in terms of the classroom conversations.

Although I am far from done this program, today also got me thinking about further emphasizing my own personal learning networks beyond this program and into my career as a teacher. So far I am currently engaged in developing my own network within my cohort which I know will prove invaluable beyond this class and this program. But beyond my peers I am recognizing the importance of growing other learning networks whether that be through twitter, feedly, other social media platforms etc. I have set up much of the accounts and platforms to build my personal learning network but haven’t spent much time growing these networks over the course of the semester. I have started to follow many of the recommend twitter accounts for education in BC, but admittedly I don’t find myself engaging to the extent I would like due to my already high screen time, and the workload of this program. I would like to make this more of a priority moving forward though! Inevitably, there will always be learning to do as a teacher, and developing those networks now will be so valuable!

One final call out to any fellow educators: any education podcast recommendations?

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Gaming in education: Minecraft edu

Today’s class was an optional class in which a few of us had a chance to discuss topics we were curious about which for the group today was Minecraft edu! We explored the Minecraft education website and walked through a bit of one of the preset tutorials set up for educators. As someone who has never been much of a gamer of any kind this world was very new to me, and certainly opened up my eyes to another modality in which I could use to engage students with the material.  There are a lot of preset lessons for a variety of subjects. I can certainly see kids enjoying learning this way but I think that it might be more fitting at a middle school level rather than high school. That being said it might depend on your specific class, as some classes might be more enthused by minecraft than others!

I took the opportunity after class to explore some of the science lessons, and was blown away by the possibilities already existing with the education portal! This is just a snapshot of some of the lessons already on there:

Beyond the preloaded lessons, minecraft might also be a way for students to build their own worlds as explanations of certain science topics. It might be a neat tool for students to use within an inquiry project as well! All in all, minecraft edu presents a lot of opportunity and opened up my eyes to the potential for gaming to be used in education. I love the idea of diversifying the way in which students can learn and demonstrate their own learning, and I am curious to learn about some more gaming education applications!

Guest Lecture with Jeff Hopkins: Inquiry base learning in the real world!

We had the fortunate experience of having Jeff Hopkins from the Pacific Institute of Innovation and Inquiry speak with our class! It was an excellent opportunity to learn about an inquiry based school and Jeff was incredibly gracious with our questions! Needless to say we as a class certainly had a lot to ask!

The PSII school is located here in Victoria and looks a whole lot different than your typical school. This is entirely by design and you can check out a blog post for a tour and little bit of insight on the school’s design from Jeff here as well! At the route of the school is inquiry! Both through this EDCI 336 class and my seminar inquiry projects I am having an opportunity to explore the process of inquiry in my own way. That being said, Jeff’s guest lecture was incredibly insightful as to how this form of pedagogy looks like in the real-world!

A few key take-aways for me were that an inquiry based school has the opportunity for students to grow a lot within their own education! Jeff reinforced the need for scaffolding, especially during students’ first years at the school and that they have learnt a lot since opening the school about how to have students thrive within an inquiry based education. I can only imagine my own need for scaffolding had I been a student within PSII. It is certainly a non-conventional education model which will take me more time to wrap my head around and one that I am not entirely convinced of but I certainly see some of its merits and I would be curious to explore inquiry based learning in science education moving forward! Jeff, certainly has a lot of knowledge and insight to share both on inquiry and education as a whole, I have started following him on twitter and have checked out a few podcasts with him as well. Rumour has it he is soon to be releasing a PSII podcast so I look forward to checking that out once it is released!

For now, here are a few podcasts I checked out!

As I have already Jeff had so much perspective to offer during our class! These are a few quotes I wrote down that I will certainly carry with me in education career:

“Is this school based/built for learning, or to fit in the system?”

“Identify strengths of learners, use these to allow students to engage with learning in a way that makes them engaged and happy”

Looking forward to learning more and pursuing my own inquiries moving forward as an educator!

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

My beginnings of video editing and curating!

Much to my surprise, I have had two video assignments to complete for my classes this semester. Having never really attempted any form of video making, I was a little intimidated but thankfully iMovie didn’t prove too hard to use! Thanks to the UVIC Digital Commons workshop resources, I was also able to get a quick run down on the basics of iMovie!

The first video I made was a “Who am I” video for my Multiliteracies class. For this video I did a voiceover recording narrating my story of becoming a teacher candidate overtop of a photo slideshow style movie. I was able to also edit a few of my photos as well to fit my video better. Overall once I got going iMovie proved pretty easy to use to complete this! You can check out my video in the About Me section of my blog!

The other video I was tasked to create was a science demonstration video for my science teachable area class! Admittedly this video was a bit harder to do as I am not the most comfortable in front of a camera and I also had to do a bit more editing to ensure it flowed well and met the time requirements. I was happy to have had already made my “Who am I” video as it allowed me to progress well to working in iMovie with this format of video.

As you will see in the video I am doing a demonstration of how pollution behaves in water and what this might mean for detecting pollutants. Typically, this assignment would have been presented in person to my peers however due to Covid-19 we all submitted videos instead. All in all it has been great to have a video curation of both my own and my peers assignments as there are a lot of cool demonstrations that we collectively can all potentially use in our own classrooms moving forward.

 

 

Distributed Learning and Online learning Modalities: A new way of thinking about learning

I really appreciated learning about distributed learning and learning modalities in class this week! It made me critically think about how education can be delivered outside of the traditional brick and mortar structure of schools! Admittedly, the brick and mortar school is system is what I know best and as a result it is what I feel most naturally comfortable in. I attended a Vancouver public schools for my elementary and secondary education and then moved to Victoria, where I attended UVic. I was fortunate enough to have no restrictions to accessing any of these schools, although in reflecting back on them they were not always set up to work the best for me.

Throughout my entire secondary and post-secondary undergraduate education, I was training and competing as an elite triathlete. In high school this meant I had very long days with early morning practices, followed by more training after school and into the evening as there was no system set up for me as missing class or obtaining the class through some other modality was not a possibility. As I moved into university, I often structured my class schedule as best I could around my training, but there was limited flexibility there and I spent a lot of time travelling to and from campus with all of my training gear and school gear in hand to pursue both parts of my life. Additionally, once I had reached University, my sport also required a fair amount of international travel to race and for training camps. In most cases, when presented with a letter from my national sport body professors were fairly willing to work around me missing classes here and there. However, despite the lecture notes being often posted to some extent online, I really felt that there was no replacement for me being in class and I avoided travelling as much as I could during the semester. The rigidity of the school schedule also lead me to take a few online classes through Thompson Rivers University that would transfer as credits to my UVic degree. I completed both of these courses during the summer while also in the height of my racing season. These courses were largely self-taught from the text book, included a few discussion forum posts and assignments but I really felt fairly anonymous in the whole experience. I did not enjoy learning in this way, however the alternative was that I miss all of my swim practices for the semester had I taken the course at UVic. As an elite triathlete, missing your swim practices isn’t really an option!

In learning about blended learning, flipped learning and multi-access learning which is  perhaps is the most all in encompassing form of learning modalities, I realized that what I thought was best for me at the time could have been improved through access to a wider range of learning modalities. Much of my current education experience is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous online learning. I also have one day a week in which many of us are synchronously meeting face to face during our school observations and seminar course. Those days are by my far my favourite of the week! However, I can also see that there would be some advantage to a blended learning model for both myself and others. Especially when considering that many students are also balancing a variety of other life factors. For me, during my undergrad it was sport, but it equally could be family, work, mental health and variety of other variables. In this way I now recognize that online learning could actually be preferable in certain cases. Additionally it has an opportunity to include more people in education who might be limited in their ability to interact in a traditional face to face setting for a multitude of reasons. Although I would prefer to be meeting predominantly face to face for our classes in this program, I have also been surprised by the connections I have been able to make with my peers and professors over zoom and through group chats and emails. My personal learning networks which I interact with asynchronously are still enriching my education, extending my learning and connections beyond the classroom.

Furthermore, as we consider the current pandemic we are operating within, having a multi-access learning platform should be top priority for educators and administrators. Imagine a child is immunocompromised or lives with family who is immunocompromised, it is truly ethical to reopen schools without having a plan in place for these students to received equal education while not being present at school? I ask this question, not be overly critical but to place ourselves in the shoes of students who pandemic or not are currently excluded from our standard brick and mortar schools. Technology can be an incredible tool to increase inclusion in our classrooms!

 

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