UP, DOWN, and REALLY fast CURVES

My learning journey has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, packed full of potential and kinetic energy.

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via GIPHY

My ups and downs have been uniquely colourful, especially when attempting to maintain my sanity and level of approachability.

The learning curves have been steep and fast. Yet very rewarding.

I selected this particular roller coaster when a colleague and I had our innovative classrooms project accepted by SET BC. Our goal was to implement the use of iPads in the primary writing program in an attempt to:

1. increase motivation and engagement and

2. make it more accessible for students lacking some of the fundamental writing skills.

We were so excited.

You would have thought this was the first roller coaster we had ever made the height requirement for, and uncle sam just gave us enough money to buy tickets.

Having a burst of courage we quickly ran and bought our tickets. Eeek!

  • We started playing with our own iPads to learn how to use various apps so that when the SET BC ones arrived we would be able to jump right in.

What is it with amusement park ride lines?

They are certainly not very amusing.

Line_waiting_to_ride_on_the_roller_coaster_at_the_amusement_park_8d28117v.jpg

Source: Wikimedia Commons found at goo.gl/GFuZWJ

We went back and forth to that amusement park every day for five months (if you count the two we went over the summer) trying to get on that ride. Each time we got to the front, the park would be closed for the night.

  • Our iPads have just arrived this week from SET BC and are now in processing at our school board office.

As un-amusing this was, I found ways to entertain myself. I started to watch other people ride the coaster. I watched to see how they navigated the drops, curves and loops it sent them. I became so familiar with the clicks and rushing air that my anticipation heightened.

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Source: flickr.com – tenioman, El Toro Roller Coaster found at: goo.gl/SGhn33
  • Frustrated by how long it was taking for SET BC to ship our supplies a bit of our momentum was lost. NOT A GOOD THING WHEN WORKING WITH A ROLLER COASTER. We became very annoyed by the hoop jumping we had to do to meet the expectations they had for us, yet they have yet to meet our expectations in return.
  • Still believing in the value of the plan I read blogs. A lot of them. After a while they started to repeat information. I felt confident I was heading in the right direction. I also took time to really understand who my students were so that I could pair them accordingly for when the iPads arrived. In the meantime, I was teaching myself how to use the apps and started having my students use them. Behaviour issues came to light around who’s turn it was going to be and how “it’s not fair” even when there is a calendar with ALL of their names on it, indicating their times.

I watched so that when it was my turn to come out the other side I would look like a roller coaster riding professional.

Why did this become so important?

More times than not the people coming out the other side were smiling and laughing, and were eagerly waiting to get on the next roller coaster. However, there was always the odd one that came out a hot mess. They were dizzy, confused and well pain and simple covered in puke.

I did not want to make the puke walk of shame.

So I began to ask and question what do I needed to do to come out the other side looking fresh.

  • I read a handful of journal articles that indicated the importance of incorporating technology and  doing so in a way that is organic and not forced.

A few riders indicated that I needed to get in the seat with confidence and determination. I needed to be flexible and fluid and allow my body to move with the roller coaster and not fight against its pull. Being rigid and fixed would result in neck pain and never ending headaches.

Never ending headaches sign me up for that – NOT!

NOTE TO SELF:  Must be confident in approach, flexible and fluid, and allow myself to move with the natural pull. 

Another happy rider indicated that I should think about what I hope to get out of it? He had me question if this was the right ride for me. I was a bit annoyed when he suggested that maybe I should try the tea cups instead. The TEA CUPS REALLY! Who actually wants to go on the TEA CUPS.

My annoyance aside, he had a good point. I need to be sure this was the right ride before I used up my last ticket on something I might not get any benefit from.

NOTE TO SELF: Before getting on know what I hope to get out of the ride.

  • At this stage I reflected on which students I hoped this would most benefit. I had them in mind and planned outward (universal design). Reflecting on this is what defined my search while seeking out different apps for the students to use.

One of the dizzy ones, a little worse for wear but at least better of than puke’a’nator (yes I have been in the line long enough to have nicknamed a few of my favourite displays of gross) indicated that it was important I that have my schedule in order before going on the ride. She was running late, because she hadn’t realized how much time she had actually spent in the line. Once she realized this she spent the whole ride worrying about it making it very un-enjoyable.

NOTE TO SELF: Know what my day is going to look like and if I have time to fit it in and enjoy it. Not just squeeze it in.

Happy riders, dizzy riders, just one more to go and my picture will be complete.

Time to chat up a puker.

Being that she was a bit groggy it was hard for me to really hear what she was saying. She mumbled something about not being prepared, that she had never done anything like this before and that maybe she should have started on the Tea Cups.  Again, with the Tea Cups.

NOTE TO SELF: You don’t need to go on the tea cups. Be prepared, start small and build up your experience.

The picture had been painted I now had a clear vision and the inside scoop.

I had been watching, listening and taking notes. All the while moving closer to the front of the line.

I LEARNED THAT IN ORDER TO UNLOAD FRESH AND FEELIN GOOD YOU MUST

Be confident in your approach, be flexible and fluid, and allow yourself to move with the natural pull.

  • Understand that no amount of planning can ensure that a lesson or activity using technology  will go without a hitch. There are many different things that can go awry problem solve the ones you can control and let the ones you can’t go.

Before getting on, know what you hope to get out of the ride.

  • Using technology in your class should enhance and stretch students learning. It should take the learning beyond what the students can already do. iPads and other forms of technology are not to be implemented to simply do the same task but with a different tool.

Know what the day is going to look like and if you have time to fit it in and enjoy it. Not just squeeze it in.

  • Look at your schedule and know when, where, and how this is all going to fit in to your day. Will the students have opportunities to work on their projects throughout the day or will it have to isolated pockets of time due to device sharing.

You don’t need to go on the tea cups. Be prepared, start small and build up your experience.

  • Start small. Students will have difficulty seeing themselves using the technology if you yourself are nervous and uncomfortable around it. Pick a few apps play with them and master them and then introduce them to your students. Share your new learning with colleagues. It creates a buzz of excitement and often keeps you on track to explore more. A few apps I found to be really easy to learn and use were, Chatter Pix, Tellagami, Explain Everything, Toontastic, Captions (my favourite and theirs), and Skitch. Be sure to practice App Smashing! It sounds fancier than it is – take a product from one app and put it into another to create a new product. Very cool.

It was time to get on the roller coaster. I new what I had to do. Easy to hear about it and read about it, but I knew nothing was going to compare to actually experiencing it and figuring it out myself. So as I approached the height sign, I held my head high, hand over my ticket and climbed into the front seat. Though I was nervous I found the courage and was ready to face this head on.

And I did. It has been one heck of a ride. Take a look for yourself.

Get in line, the ride is waiting for you.

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WHY MY VISION TOOK THE SHAPE IT DID

My vision project was to create a presentation to share with my colleagues about which apps are available to use in their writing and storytelling program. It was my hope to do this using samples of my students work using the iPads SET BC was going to send us. Sadly I found that I did not have nearly enough samples to do just that, and the ones I found online were not ones I was allowed to borrow. When I was playing around with the various apps I found that my colleagues regularly gave me a smudged up confused face while I described how I was combining the various apps to create an “app smashed” product. That’s when my vision changed. I would create a short video that describes my journey using the same tools that my students have started to learn. I would create it by combining multiple apps to create one cohesive presentation. And I did!

Every aspect of this video I had to teach myself how to do, and now I am taking my video to school to show my colleagues how they too can use them.

I have already shown parts of my video to some of my colleagues, and they now understand what I am now talking about when I say “App Smash”. I plan on holding to my original plan and have tucked it away for a later date (end of the school year). This way I will have more time to collect a variety of samples and make the video I had originally intended. All I need now is for the District office to release my tools so we can truly start creating.

These are the key sources that inspired my vision project along the way:

Coskie, T. L., & Michelle Hornof, M. (2013). E-BEST principles: Infusing technology into the writing workshop. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 54–58. doi:10.1002/trtr.1189

Chaffey, L. (2016). Digital storytelling Retrieved from http://ictwithmissc.weebly.com/digital-storytelling.html

Hicks, T., & Hawley Turner, K. (2013). No longer a luxury: Digital literacy can’t wait. English Journal, 102(6), 58–65.

Hutchison, A., Beschorner, B., & Schmidt-Crawford, D. (2012). Exploring the use of the iPad for literacy learning. The Reading Teacher, 66(1), 15–23. doi:10.1002/trtr.01090

Lirenman, K. (2013, August 5). Using an iPad in grade One – more ideas One year later Retrieved from http://www.klirenman.com/2013/08/using-ipad-in-grade-one-more-ideas-one.html

Mango, O. (2015). iPad use and student engagement in the classroom. TOJET the Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(1), 53–57.

Morgan, H. (2014). Using digital story projects to help students improve in reading and writing. Reading Improvement, 51(1), 20–26.

Northrop, L., & Killeen, E. (2013). A framework for using iPads to build early literacy skills. The Reading Teacher, 66(7), 531–537. doi:10.1002/trtr.1155

Schrock, K. (2013, November 20). IPads in the classroom. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from Kathy Schrock’s iPads4teaching, http://www.ipads4teaching.net/ipads-in-the-classroom.html

Zigmond, M. (2016). App smashing – Zig Zagging. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.zigzagstech.com/app-smashing

These are the Video and Image Sources I used in the creation of my iMovie:

brownpau (2011). Lightning Racer (Thunder rail), Hersheypark roller coaster (You-Vision video glasses) Retrieved from http://goo.gl/JKDpB2

brownpau. (2013b). Lightning Racer tracks. Retrieved 28 November 2016, from http://goo.gl/VMn0TE

Chan, M. (2011). Wooden roller coaster. Retrieved 3 December 2016, from http://goo.gl/eoxzMS

Clarkmaxwell (2016, November 30). VIDEO – backyard roller coaster. Retrieved from goo.gl/tzdtoF

emilydickinsonridesabmx. (2011). “You must be 54’ to ride the Cyclone.” Retrieved 30 November 2016, from goo.gl/BjcF0b

Vought, S. (2008). Fun forest (7 of 27). Retrieved 28 November 2016, from http://goo.gl/EUBZTs

These are the apps I used in the creation of my iMovie:

Tellagami, Word Cloud, Explain Everything, Skitch and Chatter Pix

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