My Major Project Reflection

This term I undertook the major project route of looking into a couple of different educational apps. Google Classroom and Seesaw were the two that I utilized and reported on in previous blogs (Seesaw Review & Google Classroom Review).

This was a great project for me as I tend to revert to the talking head at the front of the class more than I would like. Diving into the program Google Classroom was rewarding for my practice as an educator on a number of levels. First it pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to implement a technology that I was not used to. Although I was uncomfortable in this shift, the students in my class were excited and felt an ownership and responsibility that they did not have previous. They were enabled to individually access their accounts and dive into assignments posted and this was something that most students loved. They had the freedom to work at their own pace and jump into the assignments and projects right away as opposed to having to suffer through all of the questions that might arise and stall the beginning of their progress.

Through our massive transition from the classroom to home learning I feel like Google classroom has put my nerves at ease. I know how to use it. My students, luckily, can all access it and work from home. This had made, what could have been, a horrible situation a lot more manageable and tolerable. On top of this I have been chosen as the Google Classroom expert for our school! This means that anyone who has a questions about GC can give me a call or send me an e-mail and I am able to help them out…confidently!!

Seesaw was the other app that I did do a deep dive into researching. As a parent my kinder sons teacher uses this app. It was great to see his progress and to be able to communicate with his teacher through the app. It cut down on the amount of paper being sent home in the form of newsletters, which was a blessing on its own!! What I really enjoyed though is the fact that since my final review I have still continued to learn more about Seesaw and its capabilities. Since the closure of schools and the implementation of supplemental learning at home we have been using the app quite regularly and even created a video sharing what my son has been doing at home since his last day at the school. I have found that this has been an incredible bridge, that is often missing in classrooms, between home and school.

I feel as though we are missing out on full applications and programs because of the lack of funding so students and teachers can take advantage of full programs as opposed to only a fraction of a program. With full capabilities we would be able to grow within our digital literacy and engage students in a more technologically interactive way. If there is a positive to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic it is the fact that many of these companies have waived their fees so educators and students can take advantage of their full programs to assist in remote learning. This act might also show the public how important these programs are for education, if we were properly funded we would be able to utilize these programs to their fullest potential and harbor a greater engagement in our student populations.

It was my intention to look into one more program, Instagram. My timeline for that was interrupted due to the closure of schools and having my sons home with me while I worked, among life’s other dodge-balls. This has been a difficult semester in a class I have truly loved being a part of. I have leaned a great amount about programs that I will use throughout my career and will not be so hesitant to try new ones. I am looking forward to how this time of digital need changes the face of education in the future!

Posted in EC&I 832, EC&I 832 Major Project Posts | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Moral of the Educational Story!

Moral, ethical, and legal issues were raised in our class when we were talking about technology in our own professional practices. There was substantial information that was really important, especially in a time where there is a major pandemic and we are teaching from home. How do we navigate these waters without stirring the pot that is the copyright infringement?

A number of my colleagues had thought of the idea of doing a read aloud to their class. They would chose a book and record themselves reading it and post it to Seesaw or Google Classroom. Simple enough and a great idea! BUT HOLD THE PHONE, PUMP THE BRAKES and CUT THAT CHORD! We as educators need permission to be able to post anything of that nature, permission from the author and the publishing company. Through this pandemic however, some authors such as J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) have made their books open for such causes which is an amazing gesture and nod to education.

COVID-19 has really opened my eyes to these situations, as an educator looking for resources to utilize with my class online. One cannot simply take and use any content they want, we must seek permissions where applicable like the aforementioned novels.

One Does Not Simply Meme | ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY READ A BOOK ON VIDEO AND SHARE IT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR!! | image tagged in memes,one does not simply | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Source

These are difficult waters for educators to navigate we need to make sure that we are diligent and thorough with the content that we post and utilize the resources that are School Board certified. If we aren’t we need to make sure that we are taking the right precautions with the content we are using so we are able to safely encourage educational growth from our students with distance learning.

I am excited but a bit paranoid about copyright laws and infringement and do my best to follow and regard them seriously in my practice. Pandemic education has changed the course of what school looks like and it seems like the greater public are sympathetic to our new educational reality. With authors and book companies lifting fees, maybe the best way to engage your students in novels and reading is to steer them to those sites so they can choose a book they might enjoy and dive into it on their own with regular check in’s.

 

Posted in EC&I 832 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Major Project: Seesaw App

As a parent of three beautiful little boys I have always wondered what their education was going to look like. Were they going to be in classes in which the digital divide was beginning to close? What types of educational programs would they be using to supplement their learning? What tools would their teachers use to bridge the gap between home and school? These were all questions that floated through my mind when thinking about what education might look like for my boys. We now have one in grade 4 and one in kindergarten and their teachers communicate with us in different ways. Our eldest sons teacher rely’s on a weekly e-mail, I like this a lot, it is to the point, updates us about what is going on in class, which she definitely does not need to do, and rarely contacts us otherwise. As a parent I love this, no news is good news and I also do not want my son to think that we are hovering over him and his educational experience.

Our Malcolm in the Middle child is currently in kindergarten.

Source

They grow up so fast… His teacher is using a program that is becoming mandatory for primary teachers to use in their teaching practice, Seesaw.

Image result for seesaw

What is Seesaw?

Seesaw is a program in which students can continually create work to add to their learning portfolios. The program stores their work and educators can utilize it to keep student assignments in a place where it will not be lost. Creating assignments on it is a benefit to educators, who are also able to attach curricular outcomes to their assignments through the program. My favorite aspect, however, is the ability to share with student families. You are able to receive reminders, school notes, projects and photos of your child in their learning environment.

Terms of Services

Seesaw’s Terms of Services starts off with a great statement that hits some key points within the realm of education. Words and phrases such as “safe place” and “complete control over how that information is shared.” are important in the business of education as we need to be hyper aware about what information we are sharing and who can access that information.

“Seesaw’s mission is to create an environment where students can be their best.  To accomplish this goal, it is essential that Seesaw is safe place for students to document their learning, and that parents and teachers are in complete control over how that information is shared.”

Within the section entitled “our privacy promises” there are a couple things that stuck out right away. Especially since my last analysis with Google Classroom. They state a couple really important things, the first being, “We never sell your data or student data.” this is extremely important to the privacy of students and their families. looking down a couple more bullet points and we are informed that, “We don’t own the content you add to Seesaw.” this is huge!! Everything is owned by the student or the school and Seesaw leaves your content alone.

There is an aspect that could have some implications in terms of consent for media release for students that do not have permission. In the Creating a Parent or family Member Account section it is stated, “As a parent, you will only be able to access journal entries in which your child has been tagged.  Other parents and adults may be able to access your child’s work if your child is tagged in a journal entry with their child, such as when your child collaborates with other students on a group project, and visa versa.” As an educator this is where we will need to be careful with tagging multiple student in a post as multiple parties will be able to see pictures of not only their child, but anyone else that is tagged in that particular post.

The Pro’s 

As a parent, I love getting little updates every once and a while. When I get a picture of my son standing in front of a puzzle he has finished with his buddies in class I feel immediately happy. Or simply a picture of him working at his space reassures me that he is happy, creating good working habits and strong social skills.

I also like how, through pictures, teachers are able to share newsletters or any paper that needs to be sent home. I find that too often that there is an immense amount of paper waste due to notes sent home.

Keeps student work as a portfolio and over time students can learn to create and add on the app.

Great privacy settings for students and their work.

Educators are able to utilize it as a continuous report card for students, with the ability to attach curricular outcomes to different assignments. They are also able to access many different curricular activities that have already been created for the program, cutting down teacher work load.

Constant connection between the classroom and home, which helps maintain a strong line of communication between school and home.

The Con’s

Takes time to post for each student that is in your class, this could take quite a bit of time to accomplish if you have a large class.

Not all families have access to the internet or may not have a device in which they are able to download Seesaw onto. This would defeat the purpose of a program like this, the bridge between school and family would not be in place creating a large gap in communication.

Cannot use the program or access it without internet access.

There are no office hours for Seesaw. A parent could send a message and are able to see if the teacher has read it. This impacts boundaries in which teachers need to drive a hard line with as they have lives of their own and are not 24 hour school operators.

User Reviews

“I love using Seesaw in my Kindergarten classroom for sharing hands-on learning experiences with our families. It is also a great way to promote our learning (what their child is capable of) and hopefully spark ideas for learning at home with families as well! My students love to show work they are proud of and share with their families things they can’t take home (i.e. something they built in the block center and then use voice recording option to talk about their creation).  We often share with our families songs and poems we’ve learned as a class, as well as videos of us learning to read! As a teacher, it is a wonderful tool for home-school communication and you can see which families have read your message. I never leave school on a Friday without my families knowing what’s coming up next week. We’ve had wonderful feedback from our families as well!”                                                                                                                              -Eleisha Yantz-Barton

 

“I use Seesaw daily with my grade 2/3 classroom.  Not only is it an excellent means of communication for my families, but I incorporate Seesaw activities from the library into my math and literacy structures to help reinforce concepts covered in class.  I also use it to share assessments with families – as this lets them know at a glance how their child is doing with a particular concept and gives them an idea of what they have mastered or what they may need a little more support with.  I feel that I am only scratching the surface of ways I could use Seesaw.  The more I use it, the more things I find that I would like to try!”                                                                                                              – Marnie Hubbard

 

“I use Seesaw in my Grade One classroom every day.  This is an excellent digital tool to communicate with parents regarding school and classroom information and daily reminders. Parents and teachers can also communicate through private text which is a quick and efficient way to send messages.  (ie: ——has a dentist appointment today at 2:15 or your child needs to pay for our field trip on Friday.)  It is also an effective way to share their child’s work, projects and assessments.  Each student has a journal that is accessed by only the teacher, parents or guardians and the student it belongs to.  My students love their journals and with practice are able to post their own work for their parents to see.  All posts have to be approved by the teacher.  The journals are a nice way to see improvements over the year and accumulate work throughout the year.  Parents have commented on how much they appreciate seeing these posts.  Parents are also able to comment on their child’s work, which also have to be approved prior to posting.  I also appreciate the activities section in Seesaw.  As a teacher I can post outcome based activities to the students accounts so they can complete the online games and activities in a time such as Daily 5 or Math Explorer +4.  I can then assess the activities and post in their journals.  These are the parts of Seesaw that I use daily in my classroom.  Next year I plan on posting more on-going assessment such as rubrics.   The ideas and teaching tools to use in Seesaw are effective and efficient.  There is nothing I would change in Seesaw and only plan on extending my own learning.”                                      -Sharla Currie

Conclusion

Seesaw is a valuable tech tool with, what I would consider, minimal downsides. Not only is it a great place to compile student works, but it bridges the gap between school and home. Having updates once and a while on how your child is doing, even if it is just a picture, makes a difference. Knowing that content is available on Seesaw and that curriculum based outcomes can be attached to assignments is huge. Could this be a step towards abolishing report cards and replacing them with a program such as Seesaw? I could foresee that happening, especially with primary grades.

Posted in EC&I 832, EC&I 832 Major Project Posts | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Seesaw is Quite the Teeter-Totter

As I have continued to explore the educational apps this semester I find that I am pleasantly surprised at the capabilities that they have within their functionality and their abilities to help bridge the gap between school and home. The second application that I have been exploring is Seesaw. I have been utilizing it as a parent but have also looked at its benefits as an educational tool as well.

One of the coolest aspects of Seesaw is the fact that you can update parents at anytime about how their child is progressing in your class. I love this aspect, although I do not get too many updates the ones I do receive brighten my day. I have a five year old son who is in Kindergarten and his teacher utilizes Seesaw. There is nothing I love more than getting an e-mail notification from Seesaw, then I quickly access my app (on my iPhone) and smile when I see a photo of my son working, creating, and collaborating with other kids his age. Through this app I am able to see what they are working on and it helps create that conversation at home as well, like the following.

Me: What did you do today at school?

Atticus: I forgot…

Me: Well I saw on Seesaw that you were playing with some yellow and red bears?

Atticus: Oh yeah! We were making patterns with their colors. Show me the picture dadda.

Me: Okay (shows picture)

Atticus: See the pattern I made was yellow yellow red red  yellow yellow red red!

Me: That’s amazing Atti!!

Atticus: Uh-huh!

This has been my favorite aspect of the app, and with a 2020 going the way that it is…we need something like this to bring up our spirits! An educator, Lizzie Winter,  in Tuscany uses Seesaw to coordinate student scheduled learning in quarantine. In this way she is using it to bring her students together although they are apart, practicing social distancing.

Another aspect that I have really appreciated about the app is the ability for the educator to send a picture of a newsletter or note through it. With the massive amount of waste that is created through sending newsletters and notes home, this has cut down on the amount of unneeded waste of paper, not only that, all of the notes make it home and do not get lost. My son has not yet used the full capabilities of Seesaw in his classroom yet, there is an aspect where students can create videos. This is an avenue I would be interested in seeing as a parent. Watching poems, songs or explanations about created work would be neat to see.

It would be difficult to navigate as a teacher with a lot of students however. If you have a 25-30 kid classroom, heck even 20, it would be difficult to get around to each student, take their picture then post it. I know that it would only take a couple minutes a student but multiply that by the amount of students….20 students would take 40 minutes of time.

This app has been fun to use and, as a parent, I love the updates and pictures that show my son learning and enjoying it.

 

Posted in EC&I 832, EC&I 832 Major Project Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Week #9: It’s Lit to be Digitally Literate!

In this weeks blog we were asked to talk about being literate in today’s world. It is a pretty broad question which covers a number of subject areas. Literacy is an all encompassing term when looking at the different skills we need to be successful at what we do, whether that is studying, working, reading, utilizing technology, etc.. Literacy has grown over time to cover these areas. Although we work through our schools to help students become literate in many different areas, one of the most important literacy skills in our current climate is that of digital literacy.

We had two presentations this week from some fellow students who had some great points. In Shelby and Brad’s vlog they shared an acronym, that was very new to me, that I thought was really valuable, IMVAIN, pictured below.

Image result for imvain source reliability

Source

Utilizing these steps in our classrooms when educating our students about informative ways in which they should be researching and fact checking is crucial to their digital literacy. Daniel also talked about 10 ways to detect crap by Srividya Kumar, who asks important questions about the source being referenced and being very critical of the information and how it is being put into the universe. Tools like these, that we can equip or students with, are invaluable to their literacy online.

Amanda makes a good point stating that she talks about “the importance of raising digital leaders in a digital age who feel empowered to use tools online for good.” When we spend time teaching our students these skills their online literacy and crap detectors will become refined and they will be able to recognize fake and legitimate sources.

Being fully literate is a goal that educators strive to reach with each of their students. It is an accumulation of math literacy, literacy in words and language, through scientific knowledge and curiosity, historical backgrounds as well as through the arts and phys ed. If we work to enhance these skills mixed with a healthy dose of digital literacy our younger generations will be equipped to strive in an ever evolving technologically driven world.

Posted in EC&I 832 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Week #8: Student Passports to a Digital Citizenship

Schools have always been a great gateway for students to learn the transferable skills they need for their professional and social lives. The relevancy of technology in our day and age is sky rocketing and students need to learn how to be functional digital citizens when they are engaging with online tools when connecting with others.

In the school that I am currently working in there is a great support for the use of technology in the classroom. This includes a network that is labelled RPSD-BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) that students are able to connect one of their personal devices to. This is all great and students are learning how to efficiently and professionally work with their devices and collaborate but the problem that we have ran into is the fact that you cannot monitor what each student is on all of the time. In these instances I have caught students snapping (Snapchat lingo) others with other students in their photos. Having other students in photos without their consent…is a problem and most students do not realize this. At the beginning of every school year we send home consent and waivers for parents or guardians to sign off on to  make sure it is all right if the school can take photos of their kids and use them. Most forms come back with a “yes”, but some come back with a “no”, in these cases we have to be careful as to what pictures we are sharing. Students seem to think that they can take a picture of anyone without their permission and post it to social media, and this is where the hard lessons are learned.

Source

In an article titled Digital Citizenship there was an interesting point made, “Helping those not online to access the internet is important, not only from an equality and social justice point of view, but on the basis of the economic case.” (pg. 51). This quote made a lot of sense as not all of the students that walk through our doors have a device let alone the internet. So it is incumbent upon us to help and educate students about the importance of having healthy digital citizenship’s and teaching the tools they will need in order to function in a healthy way online.

Looking to the future and the future of education with digital citizenship is hard because the sky is the limit with technology. It scares me to a point as the teacher in me wants to control what is going on with my students, but the curious tech learner inside of me becomes really excited. I can see social media becoming a more prominent aspect to classroom learning and digital citizenship. Through the use of apps like snapchat, twitter, tik tok, Pokemon Go, etc. student engagement will rise and so will their ability to be responsible with their digital citizenship. I, for one, am hesitantly excited about the prospect of growing digital citizenship IQ for future generations, I just need to let go of the reins.

Posted in EC&I 832, EC&I 832 Major Project Posts | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Major Project: Google Classroom App Review

Over the past eight years of my teaching career I have struggled with the transition from the talking head at the front of the class to a more technologically driven platform to assist in student engagement, independence and accountability. This leads to the first program/app that I will be diving into for my major project, Google Classroom. I have used this app sparingly in the past but have not immersed myself and the educational experience of my students in it fully.

Image result for google classroom Source

What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is an educational program for teachers and students to utilize to organize their assignments, projects and tests. This platform assists in the delivery of assignments that are connected to the class students are enrolled in. Through attaching documents, rubrics, videos, etc. the learning experience for students is kept organized and easy to access and complete. With the ability to access school work anywhere with a WiFi connection, without losing it, Google Classroom is a solid educational technology for students and educators to utilize.

Terms and Services

Lets begin with the most important aspect when using new tech tools, the terms and services. One thing that popped out right away was in the Your Content in our Services section, it states:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

This has major implications attached to it, especially when dealing with students. In this regard educators need to be hyper aware of what they are posting to their Google Suites. This would not be a platform to share and store student information for teachers. Google has access to all of these documents and information, and likely wouldn’t do anything with it, but all confidentiality is compromised when student information is posted in these sites. The message educators have to take away from this aspect of the terms and services is that they need to hypersensitive to the content and information that they are posting in Google. This is also echoed in the Information we share section of the Terms and Services for Google Suite.

“Information we collect may be shared outside of Google in limited circumstances. We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • With user consent. We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google when we have user consent or parents’ consent (as applicable).
  • With G Suite for Education administrators. G Suite for Education administrators have access to information stored in the Google Accounts of users in that school or domain.
  • For external processing. We provide personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
  • For legal reasons. We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to:
  1. meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request.
  2. enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations.
  3. detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
  4. protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, our users or the public as required or permitted by law.”

Needless to say, educators need to be careful about what they are putting into their Google accounts, class content, rubrics, educational videos and sites, assignment documents are all good. Anything to do with specific students like LRT spreadsheets for students with learning barriers, for example, or any confidential documents would be a horrible document to share over any Google product.

The Pro’s 

Now that the intense aspects are out of the way I have looked at Google Classroom as a tool for my facilitating of learning and classroom environment. This tool has an immense amount of upside for educators. first off you are able to create classes and exclusively invite all of the students to join, and their parents/guardians as well, a great way to have transparency as a team working towards success of a student. This app also holds students accountable, making their work accessible from where ever there is a WiFi  network. They can access it from their phones in app form as well as within an internet browser. Students access the assignment and can create a document that is connected to the assignment, which is great as some kids partially complete work and as the educator you are able to access it and either mark it or prod them to complete it. This tech tool also gives educators the ability to mark through it, whether you create a test through Google Forms or a simple assignment you have the ability to assess their work in an organized way and one of the more important aspects is that student work is always going to remain in that assignment in Google Classroom, they can not lose it, no excuses.

The Con’s

This is a great tool for educational purposes, but we have to keep in mind that not all of our students have a computer or smart device at home. Because it is strictly an online platform we have to be flexible with this realization and make sure we are either giving extra time during class to complete assignments or creating alternative templates for those students to use at home.

There are comment sections within Google Classroom that can become a bit annoying when students are posting unnecessary things, so you have the ability to mute them as well which helps to ensure a safe online community.

Another thing that I have noticed in my short time utilizing this tool is the fact that you do not get a notification when students hand their work in. This only happens when it is late. I find this a negative aspect as I like correcting assignments as they come in and this is an area that is lacking.

Although Google Classroom does keep student work in one place, it can be a bit disorganized. Having all of the assignments in one place under different topics (ELA, Science, Social, etc.) is helpful, but it is not kept linear. So it could take some time to find a particular assignment.

Collaboration and group work is an important aspect to the curriculum and within Google Classroom you cannot have multiple people smoothly on one document. This is easy to do within Google Docs, but within GC it is very individualized without the ability to link students into groups for collaboration purposes. This would be an area that, I would suggest, is the programs greatest weakness.

User Reviews

“I use Google Classroom with my grade 6/7’s as a means to close the digital learning gap that exists in today’s classroom. Though there are pieces I would like added, GC provides an access point to a connected and collaborative platform where learning can be taken deeper and more connections be made beyond just that of a regular classroom.”                                                                                                                                                     – Trevor Hlushko

“I really like Google Classroom primarily because I teach at Martin and we often have students that are away for lengthy periods of time attending various sporting events/tournaments.  Google Classroom allows them to keep up to date with whatever is happening in the class – assignments, announcements for upcoming tests, resources, etc.  In addition to the students enrolled in the sports academy, it’s also useful for regular-stream students that happen to miss a few days/weeks due to illness or other issues.  Parents/guardians also benefit from Google Classroom because it keeps them informed as well.  Parents can sign into a class as well and receive notifications whenever there’s an assignment/announcement.  This helps to avoid the kind of surprises that can cause headaches for both parents and then teachers

As time as gone on and Google has added more and more features, the issues with Classroom have become less and less.  Previously, I was unaware that I (as the teacher) could receive email notifications when a student submitted an assignment that was late.  This caused some issues because students would submit assignments a couple of weeks late and I wouldn’t know unless I manually went to check.  However, Google has since added a feature that allows the teacher to receive an email notification when an assignment is submitted late.

For me, the biggest downside to Google Classroom remains the digital divide.  Yes, it is true that most students have access to technology but the key word there is most.  There are still many students that do not have access to tech such as cell phones, computers, or even the internet.  Teachers need to be cognizant of this fact and cannot solely rely on Google Classroom as a complete replacement for hard copies of assignments.  Also, teachers need to make sure that their students know how to properly submit assignments via Classroom.  Taking a bit of time at the start of each semester to go through this process with students (or at the very least post some links to tutorials in the Google Classroom feed) could help to prevent some headaches in the long run.

Overall, Google Classroom has been a welcomed addition to my teaching practice and there is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to use it with every one of my classes for the foreseeable future.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        – Scott Gardiner

Conclusion

Overall I would recommend this Ed Tech tool to any educator. It is easy to use, helps track student work, keeps assignments and projects organized and in one place, and students love it and makes them feel a sense of independence. You do need to be careful when posting documents as Google has full access to them, this should not impede any educators choice to utilize this program, unless they are working with student information that would be confidential. Although there are some areas in which it could improve, this is definitely an app that I will continue to use throughout my career as a teacher.

 

 

Posted in EC&I 832, EC&I 832 Major Project Posts | 2 Comments