Release Your Inner Goat!

Hiking.

Some love it, some hate it.

I once had a love-hate relationship with hiking until I questioned why.

How is it possible to hold such conflicting emotions for the same act?

While reflecting on my good old love-hate relationship with hiking, I was able to tease out my conflicting emotions and define the why. I realized that it was not the act of hiking that made me love or hate it, it was the conditions of the experience that defined my emotional response.

In that moment, I realized the parallels between classroom learning experiences and the conditions that defined whether I left the trail loving it, eager to go again, or down right pissed off hating every second.

I am now very aware that I have taken some students on some pretty terrible ‘hikes’.

The sad part is, I did it with a smile. I was completely oblivious to the conditions being created in the expereince.

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I am now aware, that on some of those trips (not all) I might as well have led them straight to a hungry ol’ grizzly bear den and pushed them in.

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So, in an attempt rectify my errors and to stop students from being fed to the proverbial grizzly bear, I am going to share with you what I have uncovered.

A journey through the mountains and a learning journey in the classroom have the following elements in common.

Both require,

  • resources
  • an effective guide
  • continual evaluation and assessment
  • and an understanding and awareness of the different experiences each individual brings to the journey

 The Resources

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Before setting out on a journey everyone needs to be made aware of the gear they are going to require. They need to be informed of the type of terrain they are going to travel, and the nature of the steps they are going to take. By making this information clear, only the most effective tools will find themselves in the bag.

Lugging unnecessary gear over four mountain passes is both cumbersome and an ineffective use of energy. Not to mention incredibly frustrating when you attempt repack the bag after dumping it all out, only to find that what you had wasn’t what you needed.

As such, hikers and students, need to know what they are going to encounter. They also need to know how to assess their gear and evaluate it for its merit. It is important that hikers and students look at their resources through a number of lenses. Having resources that can serve more than one purpose can be very helpful when the conditions change.

By making the hiker and student aware of the expectations that will need to be met along the journey, they will be able to pack the right resources and will begin to shape the conditions for a positive relationship with the journey.

LOVE: knowing the route, having an understanding of what is to come, having the gear to tackle the terrain.

HATE: Blindly following, not prepared for the terrain, wrong gear.

The Guide

Hikers, like students want to explore. They want to slow down and follow their curiosities. They want to have the time to uncover the beauty around them. The final destination is not the defining moment of the journey. Therefore, they need a good guide. A good guide does not evaluate success upon reaching the final destination. They define their success along the journey. Did the hikers notice and smell the flowers? Did they have the opportunity to see the reflection in the lake? Were they given the time to enjoy the sunrise?

A good guide, shows them the general direction and allows them to choose the path they are going to take. A good guide, allows the hiker to explore everything in between.

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Most importantly, a good guide knows that it is the experiences had along the way that make the final destination so rewarding.

A good guide, assures the hikers that it is okay to venture off the trail and forge their own way, as long as they keep in mind the direction they need to go. As such, a good guide coaches the hiker to critique and reflect on the path they have chosen. A good guide, prepares the hiker with the problem solving skills they will require should an obstacle appear in their path.

A good guide, provides the hiker with the opportunity to challenge themselves and attempt to conquer the obstacles they find in their path. The guide is always informed and ready to provide support should the hiker need it.

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LOVE: Having the opportunity to sit down and think about the experience you are having. Having the opportunity to select the path that is right for you, even if that means breaking away from the trail. Having someone along the journey that values the beauty that each step brings, not just the arrival at the final destination. Having someone to share it with.

HATE: Being toted along from start to finish, missing everything in between.  Forced to stay on the same path even if it your feet don’t fit.

The Need for Assessment and Evaluation

This is most important.

Hikers must constantly assess their journey. They need to continually reflect on the steps they have taken and the ones they are about to take.

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They have to set goals for themselves . They have to evaluate their capabilities and determine how they are going to achieve their goals.

They need to receive feedback and support from those around them continually.

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They need to constantly assess their gear and adjust as needed.

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They need to reflect on what they require in order to continue moving forward, so that they can be successful and grow from the experience.

Most importantly, with every step they are afforded the opportunity to implement their new understanding and learning about the situation they are in. Every step brings with it reflection. Each of these steps carries a message and by acting on these messages the journey is enjoyable and rewarding.

If the hiker is not made aware of how to collaborate, self-reflect, self-monitor and problem solve, the final destination will bring fatigue, blisters, body aches and little enjoyment and personal growth.

Love: Continually reflecting on the journey and the steps taken.                               Monitoring needs and implementing feedback from self and others. Setting goals and achieving them. Sharing the journey with others. Proud of the accomplishment. Personal growth.

Hate: Left to stumble and navigate the terrain.                                                                     Rushed and unable to monitor needs and make the required adjustments. Fatigued, frustrated, blistered.

Lastly,

Understanding the Experiences and Differences Each Member Brings to the Journey

Assumptions are deadly.

Knowing each persons level of experience and mindset is very important.

Most of the images I have shared with you are from a multi-day backpack trip I took with my mom and my cousin.

Having shared my graphic adventures with my mom time and time again, she began to see herself standing there with us along the ridge. A spark was ignited. She wanted to go. She was ready to release her inner goat.

“If you can do it, so can I” she beamed with excitement and committed to the trip.

I agreed with her. If I can do it, she most certainly can.

For an outsider looking in this comparison might seem a tad misplaced.

This is me!

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Don’t mind if I say so myself, but my 32 year old self looks pretty darn good.  At a glance, I look happy and healthy and more than capable (which I am, because I have the right mindset). However, like with all situations there is always more than what meets the eye.

Assumptions, are deadly.

I have arthritis. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis when I was 12 years old. Quick and easy math – that’s 20 years now that I have been living with it. As a result, I’m missing a few joints here and there, some are just plain and simple fused together, and some burn like hell fire. Needless to say, my body does’t always move the way I want it to or the way people assume it would at first glance. So, it is safe to say that I have my own set of limitations, differences, and experiences. I have a different set of strengths and weaknesses that I bring to the group.

My cousin and my mom each have their own set of limitations, differences, experiences, strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the group.

By being aware of and nurturing these differences we were able to achieve the goal we set out to achieve. We were able to support one another along the journey and grow both independently and together. As we reflected on each section of the trip, we became aware that our varying limitations, differences, experiences, strengths and weaknesses continually shifted and changed as we supported one another.

Understanding this provided us each the opportunity to act in the role of the guide. In so doing, the experience was heightened as each member was valued for the contributions they were able to make.

LOVE: Having your experiences, differences, strengths and limitations being respected, valued and honoured. Having the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience.

HATE: Being in a situation where you are not looked upon for contributions. Put in situations where your limitations are not supported and you are left feeling trapped, stranded, and alone.

When all four of these requirements work together, the hiker and student will reach the final destination with a smile on their face. The conditions of their experience will be embodied with love and they will achieve the highest level of personal growth. They will have had a journey that they will most certainly wish to undertake again.

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On your next hike, where will you end up?

Option 1:

“Its easy, look. Just do it. Ugh, what are you doing? Lets go already! You have hiked this type of terrain 1000 times.”

— Emphasis on the final product, the arrival at the end, not supported, not valued, not honouring the self reflection or assessment the hiker has made for themselves. Ready to be left to behind for the grizzly.

Option 2:

“You can do this, we’ve got you. We will help you through this section. I want you to try looking into the hillside and away from the edge as we go. Move slow and steady, and follow my tracks. One of us can take your bag so you feel more steady on your feet. If you need to stop, say so, and we will. If you would like to try using the poles you can. I prefer being hands free in this type of terrain, you decide what feels right for you. When you are ready we will continue on.”

— Emphasis on the journey, support, feedback. Listening to the hikers self assessment and supporting their needs. Valuing the experiences had along the way. Valued, achieving goals, feeling proud.

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If the conditions are right, the guide will become the hiker and hiker will become the guide.

Who do you want to release your inner goat with?

 

Readings that influenced my understanding:

Module 9

  • Donhauser, M., Hersey, H., Stutzman, C. & Zane, M. (2014a). From lesson plan to learning plan: An introduction to the inquiry learning plan. School Library Monthly, 31(1), 11-13.
  • Fontichiaro, K. (2015). “What’s inquiry? Well, I know it when I see it.” School Library Monthly, 31(4): 49-51.
  • Okemura, A. (2008). Designing inquiry-based science units as collaborative partners. In School Library Monthly, 25(3): 47-51.
  • Stripling, B. K. & Harada, V. H.. (2012). Designing learning experiences for deeper understanding. School Library Monthly, 29(3): 5-12.
  • Style, E. (1988). Curriculum as window & mirror. Listening for all Voices. Oak Knoll School monograph. Summit, NJ. The SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Wellesley Centres for Women.
  • Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005a). Appendix. In Understanding by Design, 2nd ed., expanded version(pp. 327-332). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Module 10

  • Buerkett, R. (2011). Inquiry and assessment using Web 2.0 tools. School Library Monthly 28(1): 21-24.
  • Coatney, S. (2003). Assessment for learning. In Barbara Stripling and Sandra Hughes-Hassell (Eds.). Curriculum connections through the library (pp. 157168). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Fontichiaro, K. (2011a). Nudging toward inquiry – Formative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(6): 11-12.
  • Fontichiaro, K. (2011b). Nudging toward inquiry – Summative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(7): 12-13.
  • Harada, V. H. (2010). Self-assessment: Challenging students to take charge of learning. School Library Monthly 26(10): 13-15.
  • Louis, P. & Harada, V. H. (2012). Did the students get it? Self-assessment as key to learning. School Library Monthly 29(3): 13-16.
  • Moreillon, J. & Fontichiaro, K. (2008). Teaching and assessing the dispositions: A garden of opportunity. Knowledge Quest 37(2): 64-67.
  • Pappas, M. (2010). Reflection as self-assessment. School Library Monthly 27(3): 5-8.
  • Todd, R. J. (2011). Charting student learning through inquiry. School Library Monthly 28(3): 5-8
  • Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). Learning to love assessment. Educational Leadership 65(4): 8-13.

 

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Do you want fries with that?

Tick…tick…tick – clack.

The hour hand finally falls into its overdue position. Just enough time has passed so that you can dash out without receiving any snickers and sideways glances from your co-workers. Halfway home, the idea of relaxing and sinking into your favourite spot is dashed away. The demand of preparing dinner crosses your mind. Two options present themselves, one that alludes to being quick and easy, and the other appearing to require a little more preparation and time on your part. Exhausted and totally unenthusiastic about the prospect of investing anymore of your time and energy, you chose option one.

There is but a brief moment when no one is talking. The static from the intercom fills the void. “Do you want fries with that?” cuts the silence. Before long you are back on the road, paper bag and disposable cup in hand. Bubbles dances across your tongue and the fizz tickles your senses as you suck back on your soda. With a smile of contentment you head for your favourite spot.

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Image Source: The Hamster Factor – Drive Thru (Flicker: https://goo.gl/fid01Z)

William Badke nailed it!

We are creatures of habit.

We are creatures of comfort.

Most importantly we are creatures of convenience.

This week’s readings had us indulge on the topics of copyright practices and evaluating and curating online resources. As I navigated the streets of these readings, I found myself left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Why?

I had come to realize that I am just as guilty as any other when it comes to the act of indulging in convenience. All the while playing the ignorance card and turning a blind eye to the truth. My menu options were skewed and clouded with the need for convenience.

Are yours?

In the article, The Convenience Factor in Information Seeking, William Badke paints a very clear message. We are creatures of convenience. Our learners are creatures of convenience. When it comes to seeking out information online, Badke states “convenience trumps all other reasons for selecting and using a source (2014, p.68).

Convenience = going to the drive thru instead of prepping and cooking dinner when you get home.

Convenience = using generic search engines to seek information online. Using copyrighted materials because a lack of convenience (the time to read and understand, the time to seek out materials that are not copyright restricted)

Quality

Zipping into the fast food lane certainly satisfies my desire for convenience. It also satisfies my need for consumption (consumption of brain food, educational resources/ Information). However, it is achieved by drawing upon resources that are not of the highest standards and quality. As Badke suggests, they are merely “pretty good” (2014, p.69).  Debbie Abilock, agrees with Badake. The act of pursuing convenience does play a large role in the information gathering process. In her article, How can students know whether the information they find online is true – or not, she indicates that “realistically, we have neither the time not the patience to analyze every source and fact thoroughly” (2012, p.71).

Fast Food = convenient way to obtain “food.” However its quality pails in comparison to picking up fresh produce and preparing it at home.

Fast Food = Sources of information that are lacking in credibility, accuracy, reliability, relevance, expertise [Bromann-Bender 2013, p.42, Abilock 2012, p.71, Badke 2014, p.69]. Using sources of information and not adhering to the copyright. 

So. What’s the big deal? This one time, I was too tired to cook so I went to the drive thru.

Bad taste in the mouth reason 1:

Truth is – we are creatures of habit – it wasn’t just this one time nor will it ever just be ‘this one time’.

As the articles written by J. Bromann-Bender (2013), Badke (2014), L. Hay and C. Folley (2009), and A. Zmuda and V.H. Harada (2008), explain it is imperative that we change our diet. We stop feasting on the convenient buffet of drive thru lanes positioned so perfectly on our route, and start educating ourselves and our students how to feed our brains and our research ethically and effectively.

Bad taste in the mouth reason 2:

Though fast food is convenient and alludes to being fast. Everyone knows that in the long run, all it does is leave you needing more. I am sure you have the shared experience that when you eat at one of those places in a matter of hours you find yourself digging around in the cupboards at home looking for snacks. Your appetite is never fully satisfied. Not to mention, should you attempt to eat while driving, you may end up with a disaster on your hands (caught violating copyright). Spilled soda or perhaps a pesky ketchup drip on your new shirt. The only thing that was keeping you going that day, looking good in your new shirt, now ruined.

Just don’t do it.

It is easy to follow the car in front of you, to get in the stream. What’s the harm, everyone else is doing it.

I call this the lemmings’ road to convenience.

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Image Source: Andrew Barclay – lemming (Flicker: https://goo.gl/NyWhXG)

The harm is that you now know better.

Don’t be a lemming, unless you’re going to be the one blocking the way.

As J. Valenza states in the article Curration, “human filters make a difference. Librarians can be filters in the best sense of the word” (2012, p.20). We need to teach ourselves, teach our colleagues and teach ourselves to steer clear of convenience. In so doing, it is vital that researchers in all stages of life and learning be shown the value in searching curated electronic databases. I can assure you these databases rarely provide misleading information ultimately resulting in futile research attempts (awareness of the electronic databases presented in Lamb, 2013).

Image Sources: Pleuntje – Search (Flicker: https://goo.gl/OpvKjd), Jaime – andes, ny (Flicker: https://goo.gl/2wwLvS), Rachel – misleadning  (Flicker: https://goo.gl/J6LMqo)

It is easy to blame others and seek the path of least resistance. However, you are in the driver’s seat. The choice is yours and yours alone. Are you going to continue going to the drive thru “just this once” or are you going to make the active and necessary change to get home and cook for yourself?

I’ve decided to wait until I get home.


Featured Image Source:

Image Source: Ian Muttoo – Drive Thru (Flicker: https://goo.gl/7rLKBc)

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Below you will find the readings that influenced my reflection in addition to a section titled Growing On.

Readings that influenced my understanding:

Module 5

  • Hay, L. & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21CScan 28(2): 7-26.
  • Noel, W. & Snel, J. (2012). Copyright matters! (3rd edition). Ottawa, ON: Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC), Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA), and Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).
  • Zmuda, A. & Harada, V. H. (2008). Looking to the future: Providing resources to support 21st century learning. Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century (pp. 103-115). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Module 6

  • Abilock, D. (2012). How can students know whether the information they find online is true – or not? Educational Leadership 69(6): 70-74.
  • Badke, W. (2014). The convenience factor in information seeking. Online Searcher 38(6): 68-70.
  • Bromann-Bender, J. (2013). You can’t fool me: Website evaluation.” Library Media Connection 31(5): 42-45.
  • Brooks Kirkland, A. (2013). Teacher-librarians as content curators: Strong contexts, new possibilitiesSchool Libraries in Canada 31(2): n.p.
  • Lamb, A. (2013). Electronic databasesEduscapes: Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults.
  • Valenza, J. (2012). CurationSchool Library Monthly. 29(1): 20-23.

Growing On:

Last week I questioned how the inquiry process was structured and set up within a class. I found that I needed to see it to get a better understanding of how it is organized. As such, I took to the internet. Dare I say, I GOOGLED IT. Oh My! Evidence to what I noted above, I am guilty. Even with all the professional readings I did, I needed to see it in image form to attach it to my schema.

The feedback provided on my first learning log highlighted that inquiry based learning is a collaborative process. It is not individual. This helped refine my understanding and allowed me to take a breath when my initial fear of having 20 different topics was not at what the inquiry process was talking about. Whew!

When I came across http://mrsmyerskindergarten.blogspot.ca the concept of inquiry based learning was solidified. A voice in my brain confidently said “you could do that” and I am starting to believe that voice. For the final assignment I can anticipate referencing Mrs. Myers and her wonderful resource.

Things I was excited about regarding curating:

LibriVox,  PebbleGo, World Book

Things that made me go….oh gee:

Copyright rules around background music – I feel I need to investigate this further.

Questioning how often the resource acquisition questionnaires (ERAC) are actually used at a school to school level. I find that we often purchase resources simply because a teacher has requested it. In fairness one of the articles did mention that this has been a shift in the teacher librarian realm.

Cheers Ashlee Dearin

 

Proud to be wearing RED and WHITE

You’re thinking about this now aren’t you.

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Source: Flickr.com

Sad to say it, but you’d be wrong.img_0571

Its okay, take the bait and see this one through.

You might even find that our jobs put us in some of the same situations.

Do you ever feel this way?

If yes, the you and I might have a lot more in common than I initially thought.

I drift…

Take a look at this and I think you can agree that our jobs do have somethings in common.

Bobbers:

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Hmmm. Interesting.

Now lets look at the educators word cloud.

Educators:

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Well ya don’t say!

I bet you were able to attach a few of those words to parts of your workday.

Bobbers have a very important job. We do get subjected to some unusual situations. Just last week I found myself rolling around in places far from my nice little spot in the tackle box. I also felt like I was being hung out to dry, and not in the preferred way! I bet you have had these days too. I find that I do my best thinking when Im out of the comfort of the tackle box.

That makes me think of this one time…

It all started with a flick of the wrist. I am always sent in different directions.

Some good…

Hazards of the job!

So here’s Ashlee, flicking away.

Sending me this way and that, all in attempt to get a bunch of fish for some project she is doing.

We are a pretty good team her and I, however for this undertaking and timeline, we clearly needed more rods (iPads), and a bunch highly energetic students. Having only the one rod, Ashlee kept hurling me out there, trying to pull in as many fish as we could.

And… in her haste, she dumps me in a tree.

(NOT THE FIRST TIME BY THE WAY)

PROBLEM!

NOW WHAT?

I wait

and wait

and wait.

Dangling away, I was struck by a plan.

Step 1: Get me out of the tree.

Step 2: Continue to use the worms and the one rod Ashlee has, to catch (teacher made samples) all the fish ourselves. Then all we have to do is explain to the tackle how we did it.

Hopefully that will be convincing enough to show that it is possible for students to catch fish with the right worm.

Not ideal, but at least some sort of solution had been found.

So I thought.

It was quickly derailed by my pal Barbless.

Not sure why I always have to be attached to that guy.

He didn’t think it would work.

He even went as far to suggest that the rest of the tackle would say something like this:

Now what!?

Ashlee thought maybe we should just talk about one of the worms (iPad writing and story telling apps).

“No, that just won’t do!”

Reflecting back I probably shouldn’t have said it as forceful as I did. Considering I needed her to get me out of the tree.

I reminder her that:

“If I have to share my spot in the tackle box next to that whole CAN OF WORMS they all need to be mentioned.”

And so…

In a moment of despair…

Barbless and I looked down.

And to our surprise, we met this guy:

PERFECT!

Seek out the fishing experts who have a bunch of rods, years of experience and have tried a variety of worms. It was very lucky he could tell us where to find the fish.

Our initial problem had been solved.

Now all we have to do is battle with this tree (iMovie software and compiling samples to make a presentation).
While I’ve been telling you this story, Ashlee has been watching others successfully cast away (youtube videos on how to create an iMovie). I think once I am out of this tree I won’t be back for a while.

Thanks for bobbing along.

A REEL EXPERT CAN TACKLE ANYTHING. LETS GO FISHING

——— This Blog ———

Stretching my thinking and practice for my vision project.

–> Showing colleagues what students can do with iPads in the area of writing and story telling, and how the use of the technology can enhance the story/ work.

–> Vision of my Project, combine samples of student work that has been created through these applications into one cohesive presentation using the iMovie platform.

Apps I used for this blog:

Word Cloud, Captions, ChatterPix, Toontastic (below). I also created a youtube account so I could post the ChatterPix I made. I played with Handbrake to optimize my little wee videos not because they needed it but so I could simply give it a try.

I am now thinking I should have done an AppSmash where I put the Captions Comic into ChatterPix. Next time!

I feel more like a fishing bobber than I think I can eloquently explain. I had started writing this blog with a much more serious undertone and then when I started experimenting with the apps, it took a drastically different turn. I was not ready to part with the theme, however, so I apologize if it felt forced.

I SHALL LEAVE YOU WITH A SPLASH OF HUMOUR.

Cheers Ashlee

A fun little cartoon I made while learning how to use Toontastic.
It is a tad silly. I didn’t know I could move the characters around until halfway through.

keep your head IN the clouds.

Clouds.

No matter where you are on Earth you can find them in some capacity.

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Clouds open the mind to creativity and hold a world of opportunity.

You just never know what your going to see, find, or do when your are working with clouds.

Clouds are also very interesting in that they can take different forms. They can span what seems to be a continuous blanket covering multiple communities, connecting everyone under the same conditions. Or they are simply dotted across the sky in isolated pockets.

Sometimes…

they are nowhere to be found.

They are always changing.

They influence peoples actions.

They are essential.

They can literally cause waves of change.

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They need to be embraced and honoured for the power they hold.

Sugata Mitra, he understands the power of the clouds. He even argues that we should “Build a School in the Cloud.”

After watching Sugata Mitra’s TedTalk it is apparent that mobile devices do belong in our learning commons and in the hands of those in rural communities and developing nations. Though Sugata’s video demonstrated the use of hardwired computers, it is the access to the cloud of information and world wide connectivity that makes integrating mobile devices so important.

This rings true wherever you are.

Stop watching the clouds float by.

Pull them down and start putting them into hands.

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It is important to know that wherever you go, you will never see the exact same cloud formation. The use, style, and format will be very different. Though this does not level the playing field it is a step in the right direction.

Blogger and research Wayne Kelly, reiterates this point when he reviewed and highlighted Cyrus Farivar’s book the Internet of Elsewhere.

He states that “the development and more importantly the application of the Internet is shaped by its locale and context. Different Countries = Different Internet Profiles.”

Thus creating different uses and endless opportunity.

He further goes on to highlight that “Different Communities = Different Internet Reality. To develop effective connectivity and adaptation of the Internet in rural communities, it is necessary to understand the community and its users. Understanding community characteristics and working with community residents to determine how they might use the Internet helps to increase the effectiveness of Internet infrastructure, skills and applications. The example below is one that sits closer to home. Looking at rural communities.

The Gold Trail School District in B.C. has done just that.

Connected Classrooms in Gold Trail School District in British Columbia from Rural Teachers on Vimeo.

A successful use of mobile devices and technology. The need for relationship building and accessing living libraries from surrounding community members was needed and achieved. Those implementing the use took the time to understand the characteristics of the members involved. The power that was given to the young man at the end – fantastic!

Every cloud has the potential and ability to rumble.

According to Wayne Kelly, “digital planning in many rural communities (tends to) stop with achieving general connectivity, while communities should be developing specific digital plans that meets their infrastructure, skill and application goals.”

Furthermore, ITU Committed to Connecting the World states that, “telecommunication services are driven by technological and economic considerations. Setting up backhaul connectivity remains a high-cost exercise. Erratic power supply or a complete lack of energy sources is a major barrier…and…The requirement to maintain sufficient backup systems raises operational costs substantially.”

An article titled, Rural Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion: Issues and Challenges also speaks to the raincloud that follows the use of mobile devices. They also mention the difficulty in creating infrastructure to support broadband internet access in sparsely populated areas, as well as suggest problems surrounding slower connections speeds and less available digital training.

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Cost (infrastructure/ devices), power sources and profitability margins tend to be the hurricane cloud base that are standing in the way.  Sadly, the rural communities and the developing nations of the world have yet to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to rectify these challenges.

Therefore, they look for the silver lining instead.

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These include, government intervention initiatives and grants for libraries to be digitally inclusive (developed nations), and the creation of devices like the BRCK and the kiokit for developing nations. These developments came from understanding the members who would be using it and the need that needed to be addressed.

http://www.brck.com

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As our nations continue to trouble shoot these barriers, it becomes ever more apparent that the use of mobile devices within the education arena (whatever that arena look like) is a necessity.

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We need to stop listening to our grandma’s and mom’s and start “leave our heads IN the clouds.”

Man jump

Man jump through the gap. Element of design.

As long as we have the clouds and the ability connect we will be able to bridge the gap, and help all of our nations be active members of the knowledge-based economy.

Take the leap and stay in the clouds!

Cheers Ashlee

1 Wireless backhaul is the use of wireless communications systems to get data from an end user to a node in a major network such as the Internet or the proprietary network of a large business, academic institution or government agency.

Reference

Eng, K., & Walters, H. (2014, November 7). A rugged, mobile wifi device brings the web to schools in Africa and beyond, thanks to this TED fellow Retrieved from http://blog.ted.com/a-rugged-mobile-wifi-device-brings-the-web-to-schools-in-africa-and-beyond/

Kelly, W. (2011). “The Internet of Elsewhere” works for countries – how about communities? Retrieved from http://ruraldevelopmentresearch.blogspot.ca

Kelly, W. (2059, August 16). Ingredients for e-ready communities Retrieved from http://ruraldevelopmentresearch.blogspot.ca/2012/02/ingredients-for-e-ready-communities.html

Muñoz-Reyes P., M. C. (2014). Bridging the digital and knowledge gap in rural communities through mobile learning. wise ed.review. Retrieved 29 October 2016, from http://www.wise-qatar.org/mobile-learning-rural-communities

Real, B., Bertot, J. C., & Jaeger, P. T. (2014). Rural public libraries and digital inclusion: Issues and challenges. Information Technology and Libraries, 33(1), 6. doi:10.6017/ital.v33i1.5141

Rugged, portable WiFi Hotspot & battery Extender. (2016). Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.brck.com

TED (2013, February 27). Sugata Mitra: Build a school in the cloud Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU

In the bin and all mixed up

There are a 100 pieces to what seems to be a very simple puzzle, but right now I find myself disorganized and dumped in the bin.

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Image Source: http://brobible.com/life/article/mr-potato-head-new-look/

Upon quick reflection this seemed like it should be an easy task. The recommendations, informative websites and blogs provided ample information. However, even though I have dug around the box (website searches, journal articles, conversations with colleagues, blogging and webinar training sessions) and have found some of the parts I need to “face” the changes required to build myself up and “head” in the right direction, I find myself all mixed up!

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Image Source: https://tonyquiroz.com/2014/07/

Upon my initial reflection this was the best I could do. Bits and pieces not quite right but not totally wrong either. Keeping in mind that a certain level of whimsy and quirky is a necessity when working with Mr. Potato Head.

It is obvious though that I currently struggle with putting all of the pieces into practice. I have an understanding of what it should look like. That image has be painted clearly. It looks something more like this.

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Image Source: http://www.toys2remember.com/2010/09/mr-potato-head-then-and-now.html

A cool, confident, parts in the right place kind’a fellow.

So I try again. I take my new learning about ICT (an abbreviation I had to ask what it stood for – Ack how embarrassing!) and my thoughts on 21st century literacy, and I shared them with my colleagues. I also continue to try to figure out where in my schedule I can start implementing some of these things, so that the use ICT becomes part of the norm.

Volia! Look at me now,

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Image source: http://www.pianimation.com/2011/06/29/new-practice-helper/

Not bad, right! At least this time I have a few more essential parts, they just haven’t quite found the most effective and efficient spots. I was feeling pretty darn good with my progress. And then this happened:

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YOU GET IT! NO EXPLANATION REQUIRED.

Conversations with colleagues about the lack of support and inadequate infrastructure ripped each part right back off.  Scheduling nightmares, student management concerns and device shortages presented me with a naked spud and pieces no one around me dared to touch. I myself (if I am being honest) looked at them in despair with a wrinkled nose and curled lip of disgust.

I am resilient, and at times annoyingly persistent.

SO, as I pick up the snot laden drool dripping pieces I reflected on what was working. Though I may not be practicing what I have started to learn. I am thinking about it and am aware that changes need to be made. Changes that I can control, and those that I cannot.

It came down to this. What had me motivated in the first place?

I picked up the pieces and gave them a rinse.

EYES: I took my first step and signed up for ONLINE courses (very scary for me), but has been and eye opener so far.

EARS: I decided that my professional growth plan would be around the use of FreshGrade in my class. I have since invited colleagues to join me for online training webinars. Together the four of us have decided to create our own mini PLC on the use of the program.

MOUSTACHE: I started a Brain Food board in our staffroom, where I post interesting bits of information I have found during this course surrounding the implementation of ICT.

ARMS: I continue to share my blog with colleagues and friends. I was not keen on the idea of having to write a blog, however I have come to find that I quite enjoy doing it. I can see myself continuing to use it after the completion of this course.

TONGUE: I continue to share and discuss ideas I come across with colleagues.

HAT: I have started reading twitter feeds more. I still find it difficult to post anything. It has not yet become part of my overall image. More of an accessory really.

FEET: I am working on developing online networks. I find this to be the most challenging. Online networks were once only for fun and friends. I mostly used the great wide web for taking my brain AWAY from my work. Not for finding ways to do my work differently. Therefore, this is the most challenging aspect for me. I am more of a potato-to-potato kind of learner as well. I know that potato-to-potato is possible through wonderful tools like skype, and google hangout, Im just not there – YET.

And so…

I put those pieces back on. They are not in the most efficient or effective positions, however Im confident in saying, that for where I am in my learning journey their placement is not quite right but not totally wrong either. I have a lot of learning and navigating yet to do. I am working on putting myself out there. Even when I look like this:

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Image source: http://www.pianimation.com/2011/06/29/new-practice-helper/

and feel a bit like this:

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Cheers, All mixed Up

Ashlee

Webinars: http://www.freshgrade.com  –> free professional development

Side note: My apologies for my confusing out of order posts. I mixed up this weeks and last weeks, which I discovered in a hangout. Even when Im not in potato mode, Im all mixed up – ACK!

EXTRA – EXTRA!

A little something that made me giggle this week:

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Catch That Frog!

Did you see that cute little FROG? Good!

That my friend represents your teaching staff and colleagues alike.

Notice the blue flames licking the side of the pot and the bubbly water?

That HOT RABIDLY BOILING DEATH BATH represents the use of technology in the learning environment.

I imagine your colleagues, similar to mine, are in no way interested or feeling compelled to jump head first into a situation where they feel they will BURN UP AND DIE! They are quite content sitting just where they are away from the danger.

 

Granted, there is always at least one brave lil’ feller (you know who – yup image of their face coming to you now – and outward laughter) who will and frequently does jump right on in.

The rest of us however are NOT going to do it, we just aren’t!

Try as you might, we will climb, claw, hop right out of that situation, making a quick exit right back to our natural habitat. The place where everything has a comfortable rhythm that we ourselves have designed. Its perfect. And on those days when its not…well… you see a lot of closed doors while walking down the hallway.

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via GIPHY

So how on earth are we going to help foster a community of hot tub using frogs?

Slow and steady wins the race my friend, and sometimes you just have to TRICK them.

You watched the video, there was clearly some deception.

Too often our frog friends feel like they are being thrown into the deep end without any support. Being tossed into the ICT pool is no different. We must help our colleagues master their sense of worry and uncertainty that their learners (and ours) face daily. We have to put them in the just right pot, not too hot, not too cold (Thank you, Goldilocks!). The pot where the water is only half a degree warmer than their natural habitat.

The question is, how do you get them to even try out the just right pot?

Well I am a bit of a trickster, so I like to lure my froggy friends over to the pot. I catch them on a door open kind of day. Enter their habitat with exciting news that I just have to share. I make a solid connection on how cool and powerful the use of the technology was in my class. Then I point out how I think it would be even easier and produce better results with their students, because… well…I teach grade 1 and your kids have a greater skill set at this time than mine. Imagine the possibilities!

(As an aside….I have found this approach works across the subject areas!)

In honesty though, we need to provide them with ‘use right’ now technology options. Options that allow them to get comfortable with the idea of implementing them at all. It must be user friendly and in the pick up and GO format.

As we move up the heat dial, we need to begin by selecting options that do not require a lot of up front training. This is overwhelming. “What I am doing is working….I have so much on my plate already….” This commentary goes on. All of which are true anyone in education does have a lot going on. As such we are amazing at dodging optional training. Just like those freaked out deer on the road. One second your thinking your in for a hefty ICBC bill the next your asking…where did they go? Just like the deer on the road and the frog and the boiling water, teachers get spooked.

By turning on the heat slowly, we decrease the chance of them getting spooked and allow a mindset shift to occur. It puts the teacher (colleague) in a situation where they can then see themselves as future users.

Once this has been achieved that darn frog is going to stay in the pot. Even as we continue to slowly turn up the heat bit by bit, introducing new technology to its learning environment.

By now our little frog is feeling so comfortable and relaxed they begin inviting other frogs to join the pot. Before you know it its a regular old hot tub party.

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Success! Just like our students, those little frogs were given time to see how it works for them. They were given time to process the change, and take the course of action they required to be successful. Actions such as attending inservice sessions or staff collaboration and dialogue…you name it. They were given the opportunity to adapt at the speed that made the most sense for them. You are bound to have a few jump out here and there along the way.

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Have that net ready (support team)! Sometimes it is hard to catch a frog, they are slippery. However, If you have the right tools and you are willing to put in the time required. You’ll have that frog back in the pot in no time.

A June 22, 2012 blog post titled Growing Digital Teachers: Encouraging technology in the classroom really sums up my approach to how we keep the frog in the pot. You can give it a quick scan through here:

http://www.netop.com/classroom-management-software/blog/growing-digital-teachers-encouraging-technology-in-the-classroom/

For more ideas check out the post How to Get Hesitant Teachers to Use Technology found on the Powerful Learning Practice: Professional learning for connected educators site. It is available here:

How to Get Hesitant Teachers to Use Technology

Good luck catching your frogs.

Ashlee – aka Frog Catcher in Training.

Sometimes You Just Need To Make Stone Soup


Making stone soup is a challenging task. Some people say it can’t be done. But it can… oh it can. Creating a community of readers can be just as difficult. However, when you have the right chef and when the members of the community become aware of the ingredients THEY can bring to the soup, the rich and delicious soup is made. If you are going to make stone soup, you must start with three key things. Bring on the pot, water, and of course the STONES. These three things are ESSENTIAL. If they are not present, those nervously watching from the other side of the pot, already doubting the creation of the soup and most importantly doubting how they can contribute to the soup, will not be able to see themselves as future chefs.

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Ingredients for Stone Soup:

1 Large Pot – The shared belief (by every teacher, parent, administrator…) that EVERY         child is a reader and can learn how to read.

Water  – Mindful use of language that encompasses and supports the learner and the    endless possibilities that will be added.

Stones  – Encouragement to take risks.

Why are these three ingredients so important, you ask? You can certainly TRY to make stone soup without them, but every time someone does the soup just leaves a BAD taste in everyones mouth. This is why they are SO IMPORTANT.

THE POT:

How on earth do you plan on keeping it all together? I tried making stone soup once, and I very quickly learned the importance of a good sturdy pot. The first time, I used a pot that leaned to one side, and let me tell you it ended up being just one heck of a mess. If you don’t believe me you can try for yourself, or you can read through the article written by Paul J. Baker and R. Kay Moss titled Creating a Community of Readers and you’ll see the necessity of a good solid cooking pot. You can find this by copying and pasting the info below in a new tab.

http://www.adi.org/journal/ss01/chapters/Chapter23-Baker&Moss.PDF

THE WATER:

Well…come on…this should just be a given. This is a necessity for any good soup. Name a soup that didn’t require the use of water. Not to mention some soups need boiling hot, some just a mere simmer, and well those odd summer soups require COLD water. Strange, so very strange. I digress. The water “provides the building material for (children’s) understanding of a wide range of literate concepts, practices, and possibilities…” (Johnston, 2004, p. 10). So there you have it, plain and simple, no water = no possibilities. So DONT FORGET THE WATER!

THE STONES:

A risky ingredient I agree. The soup is called Stone Soup after all so…reason stands – REQUIRED! People don’t naturally think to use stones as an ingredient and thats why you just have to do it. Going beyond ones comfort zone and taking a chance is what makes Stone Soup taste so darn good.

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I can tell you’re formulating a BUT?!…

I would bet is sounds something like this:

“But Ashlee everyone knows stone soup wasn’t just made with stones and water in a big pot”

You’re right! The stones aren’t the only thing found on the cutting board.

Enter the chef, and the nervous community members watching from the other side of the pot.  That sneaky chef I tell ya’ has a way with words. Finessing and helping the onlookers see the potential THEY have to ENHANCE the flavour of the soup by TRYING out NEW cooking skills and adding INGREDIENTS to the POT.

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So to satisfy you BUT!? Here is a list of ingredients that often get added to the pot:

Onion           – Family/ School Literacy Events

Carrots         – Reading Buddies

Celery          – Home Reading Programs

Potatoes      – Teach Your Monster To Read http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com

Herbs           – Apps (Cahill and McGill Franzen, 2013, p.30)

Peas            – Tumble Books http://www.tumblebooks.com

Salt              – Digital Picture Books (Theormer and Williams, 2012, p.441)

Pepper        – Digital Picture Books (Schugar and Smith, 2013, p. 615)

Protein        – Raz-Kids https://www.raz-kids.com

Really the possibilities are endless. I found many more ingredient options on this not so cooking website. (You just never know what your going to find, or where your going to find it on the internet)

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/creating-reading-community-your-classroom

I know some of these see ingredients may not be found in your pantry, and the sound of some of them may be a tad scary to try. No one wants a BAD soup in the end. The site below will help give you some comfort in explaining why these ingredients might just be the best choice for your future soup.

http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads 2013/03/15670_MS_EarlyChildhood_Industrypaper_08082012.pdf

If you think about the magic behind stone soup it truly is amazing. So I leave you with one last reminder: only when you use the three essential ingredients, and a combination of the ones brought by those nervously watching will you have a tasty STONE SOUP.

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Dig in everyone!

The Shopping List

2016, Education, S., & licensors, its. (2002). Starfall: Learn to read with Phonics, learn mathematics. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.starfall.com

A-Z, L. Raz-Kids. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from https://www.raz-kids.com

Baker, P. J., & Moss, K. R. Creating a community of readers. Retrieved from http://www.adi.org/journal/ss01/chapters/Chapter23-Baker&Moss.PDF

Bushey, E. Inkless tales. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.inklesstales.com/stories

Cahill, M., & McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Selecting “App” ealing and “App” ropriate book Apps for beginning readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 30–39. doi:10.1002/trtr.1190

Johnston, P. H. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children’s learning. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Lovegrove, M., & Primary, C. Teach your monster to read. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com

Schugar, H. R., Smith, C. A., & Schugar, J. T. (2013). Teaching with interactive picture e-books in grades K-6. The Reading Teacher, 66(8), 615–624. doi:10.1002/trtr.1168

Sharp, D., Bransford, J., & Lee, T. (2012). LAUNCHING SUCCESSFUL READERS: THE ROLE OF ICT IN EARLY-GRADE LITERACY SUCCESS. Retrieved from http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/15670_MS_EarlyChildhood_Industrypaper_08082012.pdf

Thoermer, A., & Williams, L. (2012). Using digital texts to promote fluent reading. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 441–445. doi:10.1002/trtr.01065

Tumblebooks -read watch learn! Retrieved October 6, 2016, from http://Tumblebooks.com

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577–585. doi:10.1002/trtr.1262

Look Out Wonka, Here I Come!

I found a Golden Ticket! Actually, it should read tickets. This is a game changer. Little Charlie Buckets life changed drastically once he found his golden ticket. On the grand scheme of things, my life will stay…well…the same. My professional journey however, is about to be dumped upside down and spun around. All thanks to those golden tickets and my tour through Wonka’s innovative game changing factory.

I have always been intrigued by the idea of implementing the use of iPads in my teaching, however I have been reluctant to do so for a number of reasons. As such, instead of stopping to investigate, I have always just walked on by, pushing the idea to the back of my mind only to have it resurface time and time again. Clearly, I needed to find the golden ticket. I needed to face my curiosity head on, and go through the gates of the great Wonka factory. I like Charlie had no idea what I would see, hear, or find. What I did know, was that I needed to go, even though the idea of it was both exciting and horrifying.

Image Source:http://filmfather.blogspot.ca/2010/08/willy-wonka-and-chocolate-factory-1971.html

Thousands of golden tickets were out there to be found. They were found in a number of different formats, not just wrapped around a tasty candy-bar. Journal articles, magazines articles, videos, blogs, and social media sites. Many of them, though promising, turned out to be mere counterfeits. It was hard to tell them apart, which ultimately lead to disappointment when I realized they were not going to open the gates of the Wonka Factory. Once again, causing me to walk on by and stick to my usual path.

Luckily my fate changed. Unlike Charlie who only found one golden ticket, I found many.

Most of my luck came in the format of journal and magazine articles. Like the lick-able wallpaper many of them gave me a taste of what was out there. They provided me direction and let me know I was heading down the right hall. The tour had begun!

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Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/121808364897504143/

Like the bratty children that accompanied Charlie on his tour, I was accompanied by my own annoying group, What Are, How Will, Have You and What Will. Going on a tour with these guys really slows you down.

Have You truly thought about and created a clear vision for how the use of iPads will improve student learning and instruction?

What Will you do to ensure iPads are not just replacing a tool that does the same job?

How Will you implement this new thinking and processes into your practice?

What Are you going to do now, now that you have started the journey?

I am glad I met them, since meeting them allowed me to shape who I want to be and how I want to proceed forward. I will be honest in saying though, that I was more than happy when they fell into the chocolate river, were rolled away, fell down a shoot and shrunk out of sight. I know they will be back and thats a good thing. They are the reminders that keep me on track.

As I moved through the various rooms of the Wonka factory, my vision and understanding of using iPads to enhance motivation and engagement in primary writing was shaped. The magic that is to be had as a result of their use, was becoming more of a reality.

Not every part of the Wonka factory was delightful. The trip through the chocolate river tunnel brought forward concerns, frustrations, and straight up fear around implementing the use of iPads. Storage considerations, management, costs, programming support, and the like were flashed before my eyes. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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I found these gems mostly through blog posts and social media conversations. Feedback, from those already thinking and working like the great Wonka himself. I knew I was on the right track when the resources I found began referencing each other. The video titled, Introduction to the SAMR Model, really began to shape my thinking. You can find it by clicking the link below.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-model

The challenges Charlie faced while in the factory, I faced too. The temptation of that fizzy lifting drink was all too great. As I was almost shredded by the fan, I started to sink down only when I reflected on my thinking surrounding iPad use. I was forced to question: How will the learning with iPads be different? What will they be able to do that they can’t do now? Only then did I come to realize my practice needs to change!

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Image Source:http://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/off-topic-5/feed-me-527624/?page=2

I began to envision what iPad use in primary writing would look like, so that it was meaningful and purposeful learning. My main take away is to ensure that there are opportunities to make connections beyond the walls of our classroom and school. These connections provide greater motivation, as well as make our writing more authentic. I was also forced to embrace and change my mindset around what I call the “flock.” This is the lovely group of children that forms when the iPad is out (Yes, you read right, THE iPad. I only have 1. This is a problem in of its own). Through the readings it was heavily implied that watching others use technology allows the watcher to see themselves as potential and future users. Lesson learned! The flock gets to stay.

I have many more rooms to go through in the Wonka factory and it will take time. I am a creature of habit and it is challenging to change my practices. I am however ready to think and work the the great Mr. Wonka himself. Let the risk-taking and outward thinking begin.

These are the Golden Tickets that have started to shape my thinking. I am happy to share them with you. Please hold onto them tight, for if you lose them, you may not be able to take your tour of the Wonka Factory.

References

Cassidy, K. (2012, July 2). IPads in primary: Does 1-to-1 make a difference? Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2012/07/02/ipads-primary-1-to-1-difference/

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

Daccord, T., & Reich, J. (2015, May). How to transform teaching with tablets. EL Educational Leadership: Teaching with Mobile Tech, 72(8), 19–23

Educator video: Introduction to the SAMR model. Retrieved 2016, from Common Sense Media, https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-model

Guskey, T. R., & Anderman, E. M. (2013, December). In search of a useful definition of mastery. EL Educational Leadership: Getting Students to Mastery, 71(4), 19–23

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Friedlander, B., & Laud, L. (2013). Bring powerful writing strategies into your classroom! Why and how. The Reading Teacher, 66(7), 538–542. doi:10.1002/trtr.1156

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

Maich, K., & Hall, C. (2015). Implementing iPads in the inclusive classroom setting. Intervention in School and Clinic. doi:10.1177/1053451215585793

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

Meeuwse, K. (2016, May 1). Focus on the learning, not the tool Retrieved from https://iteachwithipads.net/category/writing-2/

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

Mrs. Pursche. (2015, March 26). SAMR model: iPads to modify writing Retrieved from http://www.firstgradeadventure.com/2015/03/26/samr-model-ipads-to-modify-writing/

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

Tucker, C. (2013, December). Five musts for mastery. EL Educational Leadership: Getting Students to Mastery, 71(4)

Warschauer, M., & Tate, T. (2016, May). Going one-to-one, 2.0. EL Educational Leadership: Teaching with Mobile Tech, 72(8), 60–65

DoWn The RaBBiT HOle

After spending “at least one hour” (turned into many more) searching for resources that would hopefully support and very possibly debunk my inquiry topic, I ended my session feeling very much like I had fallen down Alice in Wonderlands rabbit hole.

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I came out the other end feeling as dazed and confused as poor Alice. I think my keywords were well selected. However I wanted to try something new. Maybe I should have taken a hint from Alice and not bite off more than I could handle. My search shot up and down, this way, and that. My keywords and phrase were both too small and too big. I found that some keywords limited the search too much and some not enough. In addition to taking risks, go Alice go, I tried to find some good leads on TED Talks, and Twitter, and YouTube. Boy was that helpful. Not!

I must clarify that I did come across some fantastic thinking along the way, however I was taken so far off track it was ridiculous.

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In Twitter I came across the lovely hashtag #makewriting. From here my search in twitter went like this: make writing —> maker space —> digital portfolio —> sharing writing —> engagement. All of these searches provided a hint of a direction, but none of them really showed me the way. Yet I persisted and found a few resources that may just help me along the way.

One resource I stumbled upon was a short post on the use of iPad in a grade one classroom. You can find the post by clicking the link below.

http://digitallearning.cdnis.edu.hk/2015/09/25/ipads-in-action/

I found this post, helpful because it made catching the the “white rabbit” (my inquiry topic) a possibility. In this post, it mentioned how iPads can be used “to develop digital literacy skills and learning outcomes that were previously unattainable.” Though the site does not offer a lot of information, it was the first bit of information I came across that reassured me I hadn’t fallen down this crazy rabbit hole for nothing.

Another resource I find useful is the website http://teachthought.com                                     I will definitely use this site again and again.The posts are well categorized and the site is easy to navigate. In addition, all of the posts are quick to read and packed with information that I see myself being able to  implement in my learning/ teaching environments.

While on this site I came across a bunch of different articles.  One post that caught my eye was written by Terry Heick titled 13 Very Different Tools To Help Students Find Their Voice (May 2, 2014). I was drawn to this post as a result of this particular quote: “This (correctly) implies that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for students to express themselves and interact with the world. You can indeed insist that all students blog because, from your perspective, it sounds justifiable and beneficial, but if the goal is to help students find their own voice, they will need choices.” As I take my tumble down the rabbit hole, I am coming to realize just how much teaching really does need to change. I guess you could say I have finally bumped into my Queen of Hearts, with her “Off with their head!” remark when things are not done her way. The old way.

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My inquiry topic is to explore how I can incorporate meaningful, intentional uses of technology to improve student learning in the area of writing. If I am going to achieve this inquiry project, I am going to have to face the “Queen of Hearts”engrained in my teaching practices and collapse her commanding reign. I need to help my students find their own voice, and do so by introducing a variety of platforms they can choose from.

I recommend this website to others, as there are a variety of topics on this site.

Another resource I found helpful was the good old trusty English Journal. I did have to dust this one off a bit. In Vol. 102 No. 6 of the July 2013 English Journal I read an article titled No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can’t Wait written by Troy Hicks and Kirsten Hawley Turner. In their article they stressed the importance of understanding that “digital literacy is about more that just adding technology into the teaching we already do (pg.60).” It strongly states that we as teachers must embrace the way technology is interwoven throughout our lives. We need to become familiar with the various programs ourselves. The classroom applications referenced in this article are directed more towards a high school audience. However, I found that I am able to apply the big ideas to my primary setting. The hiccup I have with this article, is when it come to selecting age appropriate programs for primary learners, and knowing/ understanding how to go about implementing their use. Where to start?! I need to learn and refine my understanding of which skills and sub skills are required to successfully implement writing/ story telling technology for primary students. I think I just stumbled upon a new key search query.

The last resource I’m going to mention is the twitter feed @BookCreatorApp. While browsing this feed, I found a variety of posts outlining how the app opened up writing avenues for students. It spoke of engagement, motivation, and connectivity, all of which I am looking to bring to my learners and our learning environment. It also outlined how to introduce the app to your class. Thus making the “where to start” less daunting. I will continue to seek out other twitter feeds for similar platforms and apps. Especially since I have found that I no longer wish to be The Queen of Hearts.

I guess this rabbit hole wasn’t so bad after all.

Sincerely, Alice  (Aka Ashlee)

One of my random but very exciting finds was BLOXELS! Have you ever heard of BLOXELS? My guess is yes, as you probably don’t live under a rock like I have been. If you haven’t I suggest you check it out.

www.bloxelsbuilder.com/

 

Curiosity doesn’t always have to kill the cat.

In this particular situation I guess I’m the cat. I don’t think my curiosities will “kill” me, however they may drag me through the ringer a few times, especially as I explore my wonderings and create new perceptions. What am I interested in? What do I wonder? I have so many wonders. At times my brain feels void of wonderings, mostly because so many build up in there my brain goes numb to all of the “hmmm?” going on.

I am however going to try and narrow it down to one. HA! I know – good luck you say. I recently read ‘What is educational technology, anyway? A commentary on the new AECT definition of the field‘ authored by Denis Hlynka and Michele Jacobsen. The article opens by saying “we are in a rush to incorporate new technology into teaching-learning situations on campus and in schools.” Isn’t that the truth. Sadly, I find that for many of us, our understanding on how to incorporate new technology meaningfully seems to be amiss. Too often as educators we are thrown the buzz phrases and new trends and told to dance. Sadly, I never look as cute as the little money wearing a vest holding the small coin cup. My approach is a tad more spastic and considerably haphazard in nature.

organ_grinder_with_monkey

Image: saved from skagwayfolklore.blogspot.com

As an educator, how we manage the little time we have should not have anything to do with the descriptors spastic and haphazard. So as I explore my wonderings, my goal is to replace ‘spastic’ with ‘intentional’ and ‘haphazard’ with ‘methodical’.

In Hlynka and Jacobsen article they inserted a quote pulled from the article ‘Educational Technology: A definition with commentary (2008)‘ written by A. Januszewski and M. Molenda.  The quote they used outlined the new definition of Educational Technology. This definition can also be found with a simple Google search. It states that “Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

When I read this, one of the “hmmmm’s?” in my brain sounded a tad more prominent than the rest. It grew even louder when I continued reading and read how Hlynka and Jacobsen broke the definition down into its parts. “The purpose of educational technology is facilitating learning by improving performance.” Technology in our classrooms and learning commons should not be there so that I can simply hand my students a device with a fun app (where the spastic and haphazard comes in). It needs to be far more meaningful than that. It must improve performance and students understanding of whatever competency they are exploring.

I have a few YODA’s in my corner of the education ring, that resonate the very wise statement “pick one thing and do it well”. I want to explore how I can incorporate meaningful, intentional uses of technology to improve student learning in the area of writing. More specifically, for my grade one emergent writers that demonstrate such a diverse set of learning needs.

Meow….for now

  • Dearin

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This is where I will being my topic exploration.

Keywords/ phrases:

digital literacy and writing, digital text, digital portfolios, engaging learners through the use of technology, software/ platforms to support emergent writers (clicker 6, CoWriter, Kurzweil, Solo6, Moviemakers, Photo story, Book creator), Multimodal literacy

Online Resources/ Articles:

Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning – George Siemens, Peter Tittenberger, March 2009

BC Ministry of Education Digital Literacies

The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies

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If you have any others suggestions send them my way. It really would be very helpful.

References:

Hlynka, D., & Jacobsen, M. (2009). What is educational technology, anyway? A commentary on the new AECT definition of the field. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/ La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technology, 35(2).

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.