Course 4 final project – option 2

I think it’s a little too early to start planning for my course 5 final project, so I decided to expose here some of my thoughts about the two possibilities I’ve been thinking about.

My first option is to rebuild my Digital Citizenship unit with Elementary School, but focusing a bit more on 5th grade. I Already started to work on that as you can see below:

This is a work in progress and includes the whole 5th-grade curriculum, but I would love to hear your feedback and feel free to get some ideas or use it for yourself. A lot of the ideas from this curriculum I got from this course. So, definitely, COETAIL has been enriching my skills, not just as a Tech Integrator, but more importantly, as an educator.

I really think Digital Citizenship is a subject we have to explore more and has to be part of the 21st-century school’s education. It is paramount for kids to understand how to face this brave new online world. Not just because it’s new, but especially because it’s always new. The changes happen so fast that every internet user should be up-to-date on this particular subject. Differently from the “normal” or “general” citizenship, the digital one changes rapidly like any other item related to internet and technology.

That’s why I think this topic should fit into my final course project. I feel that, although I have been teaching it, I need to improve my lessons and structure it better.

My second option would be to talk about the work I’ve been doing with the teachers. The one-on-one coaching with and the general tech support offered to faculty.

I really enjoy helping the teachers with technology, whether is for enhancing their productivity or collaborating with them to support students’ learning.

I’ve been meeting with teachers for different purposes, depending on their needs. I’ve been helping them setting blog pages for their students and working on tech tools, like NoRedInk, to improve student’s grammar. We also worked together to better organize students’ albums with google photos or boost their presentations through digital storytelling.

Recently, we had a whole week of Hour of Code and the tech depart., together with other teachers, was in charge of setting a bunch of coding activities for the whole school. I worked closely with the elementary school, grades K-5, introducing them to some great coding apps and programmes, like Kodable, Box Island, Hour of Code activities and Scratch. Immediately after, I received an email from a teacher interested in continuing with Scratch projects for her class. This kind of initiatives, like the Hour of Code, are great opportunities for us to present teachers with different possibilities for kids to learn through technology. Maybe, who knows, some of the teachers will be interested in fitting coding as part of their curriculum? That’s why I find those initiatives “eye-opening”, as they can show how valuable tech integration can be for education.

I also love the challenge some teachers put on us. The other day this teacher asked me if I knew how to create quizzes from a list of questions she had on a spreadsheet. Together with one of the schools’ IT expert, we managed to find an add-on in Google Spreadsheet that converts the questions and answers into multiple choice quizzes in Google Forms (fantastic!). It was amazing to try to find a solution to something I never even thought it could be possible. On the other hand, we got stuck after we tried to print the quizzes with all the questions randomized. If students were to take the test in its digital format, direct from their computers, it would be possible to turn on a feature where each one of them would receive randomized questions. However, the teacher wants to hand in the test and it turns out that when you print the test, it loses its random function. Maybe you guys can recommend a software/app that can create quizzes and also print them with all the questions being randomized? I still couldn’t find one. Anyway, just the fact I was challenged, already excites me to go research for the solution.

Soon the school will have a whole professional development day and I, in conjunction with the tech department,  will be creating different workshops to integrate tech into the classrooms.

Therefore, I can see a lot of opportunities to build a structured plan where we can better support teachers. In the meantime, we are doing it as per demand, which means, when the teacher feels the need to go deeper into technology in order to complete their task, they look for our help. Hence,  I’m also thinking about sending out a survey asking all of the staff which are the main reasons they would look for tech help. Which would be their main needs connected to tech and, beyond that, how they think technology could enhance their teaching. Maybe we would find some patterns in their answers, which would help us build a programme that could tackle, at least, most of their needs. I know it’s complicated to find time to fit in their overloaded schedule, but I’m sure once they get more confident with tech, they will gain productivity and, consequently, more time.

Anyway, I’m embedding my digital citizenship unit down here. In case I decide to go this way, I’ll have something to start with for my final project.

Finding the balance naturally

Some weeks ago Common Sense Media published an excellent article about digital media consumption of U.S. children, from the age of 8 until 18. The post says kids are spending more time than ever in front of the screens. However, this is not the fact that grasped my attention. What really alarmed me is the type of consumption these kids are being exposed to. In other words, if you take a close look at the last data from the infographic below, you will see that the higher percentage of tweens and teens are passive media consumers.

Common Sense Media Census

The percentage of american children consuming passive information is too high and has to be decreased. This type of interaction with digital media is not productive, stimulates procrastination and, more importantly, is unhealthy. In this article, Kim Coffino, from the International School of Yokohama, presents some tips for parents to help their kids find the balance between time in front of screens and off the screens.

In fact, this shouldn’t be a problem if parents – and the community as a whole –  would incentive their kids to be physically active and take part in the after-school programmes, especially the ones related to sport. Kids – in fact, the human being –  were born to move. We, teachers, have the bad habit to complain about those type of students that cannot sit straight or have difficulty to focus in the classroom. However, on the contrary, you just have to offer something these type of students will be interested in and voila! All of a sudden, like magic, these students are totally focused and into it. We, as the representants of the educational society, are losing our students to smartphones and other devices. Social media and online games are much more interesting than what they are learning at school. If not, the data above wouldn’t be so alarming.

I guarantee you that when you ask a student how was the lesson and you listen to “it was fun”, it means the student has learned something. This is just the way they say it, in their own words. So why not trying to make the lessons more fun? If kids enjoy playing online, why not teaching the content through games? If kids like social media, why not having them reflect their work on Seesaw, for example, and make them like and comment on each other’s work, exactly the way it happens on a social media environment? By the way, Google Classroom also offers possibilities for students to interact with each other by replying to each other’s answers. Both of those Learning Management Systems provide a streaming page very similar to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Bottom line is, students will get excited and will learn (have fun) if we deliver the content in a way it’s relevant to them. Only then, they will see that what is being taught can be applied outside of the school, in their lives, in the “real world”. This is the only way it will be meaningful for them. By the way, this premise is valid for activities including screens or not.

I, particularly, don’t like to be restrictive. I like giving liberty to children, to let them explore as much as they can. We do have to teach limits, though, but from a permissive perspective. From an environment that promotes freedom for kids to explore and be creative. I prefer to talk, educate, have conversations with students in case the limits are crossed. This way they will also have an opportunity to learn from mistakes. This can only happen if students are exposed to an environment that encourages them to take risks.

The whole school community (parents, students, admin, and teachers) should help children to understand how media should be consumed. Students should be encouraged to have quality screen time. It is paramount for parents to provide their children with some activities where they can play together. Adults should give the example and behave the same way they request from children. For example, during meals, they shouldn’t check their cellphones. Another alternative would be to introduce kids to games where they have to be creative and active consumers, instead of passive ones. This week, during Hour of Code, the whole school will be engaging in coding activities and, one of the main goals is to provide students with activities and games where they will have to innovate with coding, instead of just playing games where the codes are already provided. This way they will move from being passive consumers to active ones, stimulating their creativity, innovation and critical thinking.

 

 

Technology impact and implications on the future of education

 

PowerPoint Slide:  "Students of future #4"

According to the theory of Connectivism,  knowledge is less important than building connections that will lead to knowledge. The Connectivism theory is not interested in the knowledge created by an individual. This is something rigid, less flexible. On the contrary,  the theory is worried about the channels created and developed in order to produce knowledge. The fact that the individual develops a capacity to adapt, as fast as possible, to the quantity of information received is more important than the information itself. Therefore, the 21st-century learner should be practicing skills that will strengthen his research capacities, information management, and decision-making. This way, one can not only know how to look for information but also organize it and act accordingly.

WBAIS profile of a learner

At about two years ago, almost all the school’s community got together in order to create the Profile of a Learner (pic. on the right). It consisted of a common task force where students, parents, teachers, and admin discussed what kind of student the school would like to graduate. In other words, what type of citizen the school would like to model once its school’s journey would be over. It’s always great to see this type of initiative coming alive where you have a whole community collaborating on the same project. It strengthens its connections. Bottom line, if I would have to summarize this, the school has the intention to prepare the individual for the “real world”, for the life he is going to face after school. These are all important skills, however, I would focus on the last sentence of the poster, written on the bottom with a red background. In my opinion, the school is looking to contribute to the formation of an independent learner.

One of the most important skills one can develop nowadays is the capacity of being independent. Developing an independent life is paramount to be able to survive in the contemporary world. I don’t mean we have to do everything on our own, not at all. However, not to be dependent on others is already a great achievement. Don’t get me wrong, we need help, support and be able to collaborate to be successful. On the other hand, we cannot be dependent on those to get there. With that said, whatever may happen, we need to be able to keep moving forward even if everything around us seems to collapse.

When you look at successful people like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and you read about their successful professional stories, you notice that one of the main obstacles they encountered was related to people that didn’t believe in them or were not ready to commit to their ideas. However, both of them were so determined that they kept moving forward, no matter what. They demonstrated they would get there even if they had to do it all by themselves. They were not dependent on anyone.

You may have all the necessary motivation, determination and willingness to achieve your goals. But if you don’t have the necessary skills to be independent, it will be very difficult to get there. This is one of the main characteristics of a lifelong learner, which is fundamental to success. If you can’t learn you cannot progress. If you cannot deal with all the information we are bombarded every day, like mentioned above in the theory of Conectivism, it will be too hard to survive in this type of world we are living in.

As I don’t like to focus on the problem, here is what a suggest as a solution: MOOC. Massive Open Online Courses could be a type of “1+2” solution. You take this kind of courses and you don’t learn just about the content but, more importantly, you learn how to learn independently. I feel this is pretty much what I’m doing by taking the COETAIL (not for free, though). Through this type of online course, I learn how to better have access to information. During this process, I also learn how to better manage all this acquired information by using some tech tools, reflect on what I’ve learned and make the necessary connections to maintain this information flow. At last, I think I’m also improving my capacity of information usage (decision-making). Once I understand how to deal with all of it, I kind of feel more humble in the sense that I better accept I’ll never be able to know everything. And this is alright. The most important thing is to practice this skill of fast adaptation. As Socrates, the Greek philosopher, said: ” I just know that I don’t know”. For me, this is a great quote that keeps me grounded and motivates me to keep learning nonstop.

Slide from Dan Pink – Drive_ The surprising truth about what motivates us – YouTube

With all that said and looking into the future as well, education is not going to be about what and why, but about the how. We are not going to be asking ourselves what our students will do today or why they are doing it. Instead, we are going to be delivering endless opportunities for students to learn. Maybe our professions are going to change names and, instead of teachers, we will be called facilitators. We do not own the information. We guide students to access it. More than that, we will be making sure they won’t focus on the results, but on the process. We will empower students to enjoy the ride. This will be a student-centered learning environment, where we provide them with the necessary tools for them to find their way.  A path full of freedom, creativity, and organized chaos. It won’t really matter where it’s going to be if it’s inside a school or in a classroom; if it’s going to be online from home or at the park. What does matter, though, is the type of skills they will learn on their journey. In this video, Dan Pink explains what really motivates the human being. I agree with him when he says that when a  project is taken with purpose and it offers people (students) the autonomy to learn and progress, and this will give them the feeling they have improved… then that’s all we need.

Playing to Learn

This is going to be probably one of my favorite subjects to talk about. As a PE teacher, I always loved all the theories that talk about play, especially the ones who encourage teachers to teach through games. My lessons are guided by the sentence : “Play to learn instead of learning to play”. The first one should be the premise for teaching. This way, students learn by playing the actual game in a small or modified version. This is the only way you can stimulate kids to learn through the 3 pillars at the same time: physically, social-emotionally and cognitively. Moreover, game-based learning can also be promoted inside the classroom.

This year, 4th grade started exploring Breakout EDU, where students have to use a lot of skills together in order to decipher a code that will open the box with the answer. It’s a kind of Escape room style or even the old table game Clue. This type of activity is much more engaging and students practice significant skills like communication, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork.

Although Brain breaks cannot be considered game-based learning, they are a successful strategy for students to focus on their learning. Short, fast and simple games are played by the students as a break in between activities that demands a lot of concentration from them. This little 3-5 minutes break are essential to get students to rest actively and reenergize for the next bout of learning. Almost all the elementary school teachers who have used this kind of strategy reported students could work much more focused, for 20 to 30 minutes, after using Brainbrakes. They play, so they can learn.

Another great example of playing to learn is the Hour of Code week. is a great opportunity for kids to learn about computer programming by playing. In the Hour of code website, they can try different games that are age appropriate. The elementary kids really enjoy learning those skills through this playful environment. It gets their attention, it’s challenging and they have fun.

This year we are trying some new things during the Hour of Code week. Yes, our tech department dedicates a full week of activities to all grades. Elementary school is going to try not just to play, but also go a little bit further. We are introducing Scratch as another possibility to explore computer programming. With Scratch, instead of just following commands, like in the majority of Hour of Code games,  they are encouraged to create their own games/moves. They have to play with the programming blocks in order to come up with a final product, which can be to simply move a character up and down or to make it dance with different moves and backgrounds. Scratch promotes problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and innovation through playing and having fun.

As mentioned above, technology also gives us some great possibilities to provide students with hands-on-task activities. Students can easily play to learn on the internet, which is the best strategy to engage any student in any activity. Like also mentioned in one of the previous posts, one can find great games to play in order to learn and practice all of the Digital Citizenship elements. I recommend trying Be Internet Awesome by Google, BrainPOP website and all the curriculum suggested by Common Sense Media. All of them cover a lot of important concepts like internet safety and privacy, digital footprint, copyright, cyberbullying and more. They can be learned through games or game-based platforms. According to my personal experience, students really enjoy learning by playing all these games.

Something that really has to be taking into consideration, though, are the skills we want our students to grasp when trying to teach through games. The teaching has to have goals and purpose. We should be cautious with “playing for the sake of playing”, without takeaways. It should be all connected to learning outcomes. For example, those games mentioned above, like the ones from Be Internet Awesome website, they are individual online games. This means that, if the purpose is to provide communication and teamwork among students, maybe, this would not be the best way. It defeats the purpose.

Playing is vital, as any other aspect of life. When children get together, they play. This is the way they interact, have fun and learn. By the way, when a kid says he is having fun, it means he is learning. Play produces memory and well-being. However, game-based learning has to tackle genuine learning, with purpose and pre-determined outcomes.

We should all play more!

 

Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century Learner

openideo.com

Teaching and learning have been changing a lot in the 21st century. As it happens with technology, both of them are constantly updating and their traditional ways are obsolete.

http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Problem_Based_Instruction

There is no more place for boring and nonrelevant lessons, as students tend to lose focus and get distracted easily with more traditional teaching. Those models, where teachers are standing in front of the class talking nonstop for hours are gone. There is no way a 21st-century student will remember what has been taught if it’s not dynamic and doesn’t motivate him/her to be highly engaged in the lesson.

With that said, Project-Based Learning came up to respond to those students’ demands. This type of model, which can be found as Challenge Based Learning or Problem Based Learning, intends to provide students with a much significant and in-depth experience. What matters here is the journey, the process students will go through in order to learn about a specific subject. Among others, they will have to be creative and innovative in order to solve eventual problems they will find in their ways. This will also make them persevere in order to overcome different obstacles.

most of the time, Project-based learning is done in small groups of students. These make them collaborate with each other in order to accomplish their work. One of the highly demanded skills of the 21st century is the ability to work together, be a team player and a good listener. This way, students will experience a type of learning where they have to overcome their challenges together with other classmates – the same way as happens in the “real world”. In other words, Project Based Learning challenges the students to come up with solutions to real-world problems, which will provide them with a much meaningful and relevant experience.

With Project Based Learning, there’s also a lot of technology skills obtained during the process. It’s essential, nowadays, to have some type of tech skills in order to be successful in this kind of method. Technology tools became fundamental to help students to produce new ways to research, create and present their projects.

As mentioned before, one of the most significant skills students have to acquire or practice during those type of projects is the collaborative ones. It means, that in order to communicate with their classmates, they will have to appeal to collaborative tools to facilitate their work. G Suite has great alternatives for that and I use it all the time with students and teachers as well.

Last year, 4th graders were involved in a science project and their presentations were created through Google Slides. It was great to see all of them dividing their work so everybody would be responsible for some slides. The final presentation came out great. Also, last year I worked with another teacher on a project about the Greek gods where she asked her students to present a diagram of them. Google Drawings was a very efficient tool for students to collaborate with each other. In addition, they also had a lot of fun creating the shapes and arrows for the diagram.

In another case, I asked a sixth grader what would be the most efficient way to communicate with her class. She said that the kids use Hangouts App a lot to chat with each other, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I just wanted to send them a message and my intention was to know if It would be read by each one of them. However, by chance, she made me think: wouldn’t be great if kids were introduced to Google Hangouts in order to communicate to each other while working on a common project? I’m sure this tool could be very productive for Project Based Learning.

Those days where students would have received the information only from the teacher and, at the end of the course/unit, they would take a summative test to check their knowledge are definitely gone. This kind of method would make students forget all they’ve learned the minute after they would finish the test. It is necessary to provide more relevant and meaningful experiences. therefore, students can learn more in-depth about the content taught. It’s like traveling to one place versus many places. In the first example, you can know the place, culture, and language much more by staying longer. On the other hand, if you travel to a lot of places you don’t have enough time to learn about each one of them. You just cruise by without getting a deep contact with the regions visited. Project Based Learning is a great alternative to go further and in-depth to create and enjoy all of the details of its journey. And so, during this process, technology plays an important role to provide all the necessary support to achieve those goals.

Content Delivery with Technology

 

I took the time to go through some of the frameworks suggested by the course number 4 and found some interesting pros and cons from the three of them.

Firstly, I always found intriguing the fact that people are always trying to create models in order to explain what seems to go easy and smooth in life. I’m sure most of the teachers, if not all of them, never thought about creating a model to explain or illustrate how they deliver content. I’d like to believe, teachers try to be the best teachers their students can have. In other words, they try to deliver the content in a way all of them can learn.

With that said, the three technology models\framworks I reviewed were: SAMR, TPACK, and T3. All of them try to illustrate how technology should be used to deliver content. The first and third ones they have similarities when they provide a model where the use of technology is improved linearly, through progressing stages. This means, when students achieve higher stages they are thinking critically and technology becomes a tool to express their creativity and innovation. On the other hand, the TPACK model demonstrates that learning “navigates” between three elements and achieves its ideal moments when technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge intersects.

TPACK model

Particularly, I like the TPACK model better because I do think the use of technology doesn’t necessarily have to be always in the Redefinition stage (SAMR) or in the Transcendent one (T3), in order for learning to occur. I’d rather think technology can support and inspire people to achieve different goals and accomplishments. Sometimes we use it for simple tasks like to play games or to research something on the internet. Sometimes we do use it in more complex ways, like reflecting on learning or even to generate content. My point is, there is no rule or a right path to take when we use technology. There is a lot of tentative and error. We experiment and see what can happen. Of course, always respecting general ethics and common sense. Therefore, the TPACK framework seems to represent better the idea of delivering content through the use of technology.

In my lessons, for example, I use technology in various ways. Sometimes we just practice keyboard skills with TypingPal, use NoRedInk to practice grammar or play an internet-based game to practice some of the concepts of digital citizenship. On other days, we do use the internet to reflect on learning by creating a movie or posting on blog pages. Some students also comment on blog posts of students from all over the world, expanding the use of technology beyond their classroom. These examples show how technology has its purpose on its own and sometimes navigates between content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge as shown in the TPACK model above.

When it comes to coach teachers, though, different approaches are necessary. In my school, we try to support teachers not just inside the classroom, but also provide one-on-one coaching time, participate in grade level meetings and provide training through “tech lunches”. One-on-one coaching, in my opinion, is the most effective one, although is the most difficult to achieve as well. As we are all busy, it’s hard to find time for those meetings. “Tech lunches”, on the other hand, have been successful when it comes to reach many teachers per session and also provide them with an opportunity to share their knowledge.


Tech Lunches, by Orlee Medalion

 

My tech integrator partner in the Elementary school has been developing these great Google Slide presentations to teach teachers about many tech tools they can use to hence students’ learning. By the way, the themes of these presentations are chosen by the teachers themselves. Now, she went beyond and gave the teachers a space to share with their colleagues some of their successful strategies they have been using with their students. This was a great idea, as these teachers now have to come up with their own presentations or use other kinds of tech tools to engage teachers in their lesson.

Effective Slides II – Course 3 Final Project

As mentioned in the previous post with the same name, I decided to improve my presentation on introducing Gmail to elementary students.

I felt like course 3 really helped me to understand digital presentations much better. I realized I had a general idea about slideshows, but the Zen approach was determinant for me to create presentations from a different perspective.

I always liked to learn from visuals and most of the people are visual learners as well. Slideshows and powerpoints are part of our lives since forever, therefore, I thought one can not go wrong with it. Yes, I was proved wrong and I’m actually really happy about it.

Now, for example, I understand how Google became so successful with his products. The fact that they are simple, clean and neat, makes me realized they can speak to everybody. The way they present themselves says a lot about it. All their products, apps, web pages are clear of writing and full of visual information. However, this doesn’t make their pages polluted, on the contrary, they have the perfect amount of visuals so you don’t confuse your eyes when looking at their pages. This is a small but very effective way to attract people’s interest as most of us like to receive concise and straightforward information.

Thinking about that, I tried to improve my slideshow. I realized my old presentation had a lot of written information and was lack of visual ones. So, the first thing I looked for was trying to search for images that would better explain that “sea” of words. Slides that contain a lot of words are boring and can easily distract the audience.

Once the images were in, I suddenly realized another great tip from Zen presentation. The speaker transmits the information from the slides to the audience. The written information in my slides was replacing my speech as students could easily read all the information in them. In other words, my slides seemed like a Google doc. In the new presentation though, the images would reinforce my speech and this makes much more sense when talking about presentations.

I also decided to improve this specific presentation because I find teaching about email really important for kids. This is the main tool for people to communicate nowadays and, in order to make this communication effective, one has to know how to use email properly. Besides that, as shown in one of the slides, effective communication and email etiquette are both two of the nine elements of digital citizenship promoted by Fractus Learning.

The new presentation is also better organized and divided into three parts: why, how and tips. At first, I explain why this is an important subject to be taught. Secondly, I show them, through a lot of print screens, how you compose an email and how it should look like when you are about to press send. Last but not least, I tried to search for some funny images that could give them some tips when writing an email and also would illustrate some of the common mistakes done when sending one.

Without further delay, below you can see the “before and After” presentations:

 

Before finishing the post, I’d like to leave registered how important was for me to go through this process of improving my old presentation. I think it was of great value for me, as a teacher, to be able to feel more comfortable with Google Slides. If you are not familiar with this tool, you should really consider to give it a try, as it is a fast and efficient way to create presentations without spending to much time on it. Once you get used to it, which doesn’t take long, you realize your work starts to flow. Our challenge as teachers, many times, relies on the fact that we spend too much time taking care of the tools instead of the content. That’s why it’s essential to get acquainted with a tool like this one, which can really help us focus on what is the core of our profession: the teaching!

Hope you enjoyed it!

Fake News

Fake News has been one of the traditional subjects taught during a Digital Citizenship unit. It’s one of the digital literacy skills from the 21st century. Students are exposed to a lot of information and they have to be able to identify the ones they can rely on.

The internet has become the main source of data and information and we, sometimes, assume that students know to interpret them as real or false. In my experience as a teacher, I learned not to assume anything, especially regarding students. So, it is worthed to spend some time and teach kids about fake news.

Therefore, my fake news lesson would start by writing on the board what would be the goal of the lesson, which would be to differentiate between fake news and real news. I like to use “I can statements” as this is part of a k-12 all-school project in guiding kids to be leaders of their own learning.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/6d/ca/f4/6dcaf4558cdfa65b7ca91d6ed20c64e2–preschool-assessment-preschool-curriculum.jpg

Moving forward,  I would display a short video (below) that would give them some key points on how to identify fake news. The fact that there is an audio-visual resource helps keep student’s attention much more efficiently.

YouTube Preview Image

After that, they would start working. Their task would be to look into the web for both type of news, fake and real ones. Then, they would post the links or pictures in their blog pages and explain their picks.

During their search though, I would post the infographic about fake news (top of the page) and would live it displayed on the class screen. This would help them to remember the tips they’ve just learned from the video. Although this type of infographic seems more like a digital poster, I do prefer them instead of those who have a lot of pictures and information, which may confuse more than help. They are so crowded and polluted that, instead of driving the student’s attention to the images, it makes them lost, as they don’t even know where to start reading it. It’s like creating a full presentation with one slide. Better to keep it clean and simple.

too much information with small letters!

At the end of the lesson, we would have a quick discussion about some of the examples found from them and, most importantly, I would check for understanding based on the goal previously stated on the board.

On another opportunity, maybe next class, I would reinforce what we’ve learned on fake news previously and encourage them to comment on each other’s posts. This video would make them not just remember the subject, but would also reemphasize the importance of having this kind of literacy skills. The first two minutes of the video talk about how a bunch of fake news were spread around the Las Vegas shooting, who falsely accused a random man of being the shooter. This man family’s life became a nightmare as they were receiving a lot of life-threatening calls until the news were confirmed as false. This would illustrate how dangerous fake news can be and how important is to thoroughly pursuit the real facts.

What do you think about this lesson?

 

 

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling can be an effective way to engage students in a specific subject. The fact that a lot of visual literacy is used to tell a story, sparks the attention and curiosity of the audience.

Digital storytelling can also provide students with a lot of computer skills, once they will have to use a mix of tools in order to tell their story. Skills like editing a movie, adding audio, sound, and pictures to produce a sequence of facts are part of the 21st century demanded abilities.

Of course that the content of the story is as important as the digital skills acquired during the process of creating a digital story. Therefore, after creating a one, students can reflect on their work and share with their peers in order to receive feedback and improve for next time. Moreover, you have an opportunity to also to teach students to create a positive culture of reflecting on their experiences and educate them on how to write constructive comments on their classmates’ work.

As shown in the slides above, I created a digital story in Google Slides to continue my 5th-grade lessons about Digital Footprint and Cyberbullying. After I had two classes with them, one for each one of the subjects, I thought it could be a good opportunity for them to reflect on both of the themes.

My plan is to encourage them to create a video or a slideshow where they will explain, give examples and correlate both Digital Footprint and Cyberbullying. They’ve already done something similar, by posting in their digital portfolios a video recording themselves, explaining what they’ve learned about the content. Now, the next step would be to introduce them to the digital storytelling concept, by showing the presentation above and encourage them to make their own.

I think this could be a great activity for students to integrate learning with technology. Let’s hope for the best!

By the way, this revealed to be a great experience to learn more about Google Slides myself. I actually don’t feel I dominate this tool, although I had several opportunities to play with it. While creating this digital storytelling, I realized how powerful this tool can be, not only for students but to better coach teachers as well. Now I feel more confident and hope not to waste too much time to create new slideshows for teachers and/or students.

Effective Slides

Creating presentations can be daunting and time-consuming. One can spend a long time just to figure out the million of possibilities to create one single slide. Sometimes we can lose ourselves in this sea of alternatives to decorate a presentation. Well, let’s see if learned something from the Zen approach in order to make my presentations better from now on.

Actually, looking at the resources offered by the course for this unit, I found a very interesting video from Jennifer Gonzales, who I follow on twitter and happens to have a youtube channel called The Cult Of Pedagogy. In this video, she explains how Zen presentations helped her to design better Powerpoints.

It seems like the secret in creating better presentations relies on the premise of keeping it simple and neat. The audience has to get curious and excited about what is going to be told by the presenter. For example, a slide full of texts or bullet points will do the presenters job or make his speech redundant. Besides that, most audiences are more susceptible to visual information, so it’s important for the slides to have at least one picture or video that can retain their attention. Just be careful with the excessive number of images as it can go against the premise of simple and neat. So, combining both of them should make a great presentation.

So, let’s do this…

I went back to one of my presentation where I introduce Gmail to 4th graders. I start the presentation talking about email etiquette and I was positively surprised when I saw the first slide, where I connect this subject with the elements of digital citizenship.

It’s true I could make it even better and highlight the Digital Etiquette part of the image. Or add an effect, where that part of the picture would fade into a different slide. This would bring the attention of the audience to the specific subject I was going to talk about. Anyways, I think the slide is pretty concise and does a good job in relating the actual lesson to a bigger context, which is digital citizenship.

Then, when I moved to the next slide, I was in shock. How could I have done something like that? After learning a little bit more about how to do presentations, this slide looked like something so old and obsolete. So here it is:

 

This needs to be improved urgently! I cannot show this presentation again. Not like this. If I was a student, it would take me less than a second to get distracted. There is nothing more boring than a slide like this one.

First of all, there is too many written information in it and I would probably have to read all of them. It would be impossible to remember all of it by heart. I would lose students attention in a blink of an eye, already in the beginning of the class. Therefore, one possible alternative to improve this is to separate all this information in several slides. It would make me approach the items separately and the simple fact that I would have to change slides would make the lesson more dynamic, helping me to get students attention.

Another urgent modification would be to add images, videos or infographics to help me explain all this content. The visuals would make the presentation more interesting for the eyes of the audience and would also help me to connect to something realistic, which would already serve as a good example for the kids. In other words, I would use a picture of someone talking on a megaphone to illustrate the fact that we don’t write an email using capital letters, this would mean that we are shouting to the recipient.

 

There are a lot of other improvements that can be done for this specific slide and for the whole presentation as well. This will be part of my final project for course 3. Below, you can see the whole presentation as it is now:

thank you for reading untill the end!