Final Reflection

reflections

It is hard to believe this semester is over and I have finished all of my university classes.  It honestly seems like yesterday when I started my final semester.  I admit at the beginning of ECMP 455 class, I was nervous and unsure if I could handle the course load and assignments.  I look back now and I am so glad I undertook the challenge and tried something new.  I have never considered myself confident using technology and often would choose to avoid it.  This class made me realize that I avoid technology because it is new and always changing.  It is scary to me because I am unsure of the unknown.   I have learned that a person needs to become completely immersed into it in order to fully understand and gain confidence in using it.  I have always used technology in my personal life, yet I rarely thought about its role in education.

I have grown a lot since ECMP 355, not only with the skills I have acquired for using technology, but in my outlook as well.  My understanding and values of using technology have changed in the past two years.  I remember taking the last ECMP class and thinking of how good it would be to learn more skills for my benefit.  On the other hand, this semester was strictly focused on learning how to incorporate technology into the classroom.

This class challenged me to learn new skills and explore new tools associated with technology.  I think the style of an online class forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me the chance to try new things within the boundaries and support of my personal learning network.  I think if someone asked me to do these assignments previous to this class, I probably would have laughed because I never thought I could do it.

I have enjoyed all the assignments in this class because they fostered my personal growth and skill development.  The assignments supported my learning needs by allowing me to work at my own comfort level and by building on my technological skills.  These assignments encouraged me to further my learning and helped build my confidence with technology.  I enjoyed having the freedom to choose the topic of each assignment based on my personal interests.

The assignments were relevant and useful for teaching.  For example, creating our personal blogfolio is a tool to show our professional reflections while we learned how to use it in the classroom setting.   I enjoyed having the choice to create an idea for our major project.  for my major project, I decided to challenge myself  by teaching students an actual project.  I know from working with the students I have learned a lot about the advantages and challenges when creating digital stories.  As well, I now have an experience to reflect on for future lesson plans.  This project challenged me to learn a new skill as well as to realize the value in collaborating with others to create a successful project.  After completion of this assignment, I fully understand the benefits of including technology in the classroom.

During this semester, I have developed a strong personal learning network by communicating with other educators with tools like Twitter, Skype, educational blogs and email.  I have learned in this class how important collaborating and sharing resources with people is for a successful learning outcome with technology.  I have only started building my PLN and I know it will gradually grow with more years of teaching.  I realize having a strong PLN is beneficial just knowing someone is there to support you and offer advice for any problems you face.

Overall,  I have not had many challenges with using technology this semester.  The  major problem I faced was finding enough time to spend exploring and teaching myself about new programs and tools.  I enjoyed having the challenge to learn new things, but it was always time consuming to not only teach yourself something new, but then taking the time to reflect on it.  I learned how to use various programs and tools in this class including Google Apps, Twitter, Elluminate, Delicious, Wikis,  Photo Story 3 and Videos.  I learned new skills like how to upload videos to You Tube and embed videos onto my blog.  As well, I learned to acknowledge and reflect on my digital identity and the footprints I leave in the world.   The most important thing I have learned from this class is I am capable of using technology if I believe in myself and allow enough time for me to learn these new skills.  There are many tools and programs I would like to explore and learn more about when I have extra time including Google Earth, Audacity, Animoto and Bubblr.  Another challenge I had taking this class was conflicting schedules.  For my mentorship projects and my major project, it was always difficult to find time which worked for both myself and the students.  This caused the projects to take more time then originally allotted.

This class thoroughly exposed me to the expanding world of technology while allowing me to develop my technological skills on both a personal and professional level. My goal for this class was to gain confidence using and teaching technology to young students.  I believe I have reached this goal, but not entirely on my own.  My confidence has expanded through my exploration and learning in this semester.  I will take the knowledge and resources from ECMP 455 and use it in my classroom.  I want to thank Alec and Dean for their wonderful classes, as well as my personal learning network.  Their advice and support have helped me to learn and grow as a young professional during this semester.

I want to share this quote, which reflects my feelings for teaching and learning with technology:

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”

~ Anatole France

Mentorship Projects

Reflections…

I have enjoyed the experience of both my mentorship projects this semester.  Although, I did not get to interact much with the students and teachers directly, it was a great learning experience for me.   I learned many things about teaching with technology and incorporating technology into the classroom.  Also,  I learned about how hard and time consuming mentorship projects can be to arrange and organize schedules for meetings.  I learned about how life is very unpredictable and things come up at school or home. As well, technology does not always work  successfully when you need it.

For both of my projects, I created a second blog for us to use it as a communication tool.   I posted a few reflections about our experiences together, shared information and pictures about myself with the students, so they could learn more about me.  Both teachers commented that the students enjoyed watching my introduction video!

My friends from Knoxville, Tennessee…

I enjoyed working with Teryl Magee and her grade four students. I was able to successfully connect with Teryl and the students once through Skype.  It was a struggle for us to balance our schedules and find time suitable for both of us talk.  As well, we had several troubles with Skype and we were unable to connect the first two times.  When we finally did connect on the third try, I was very excited to talk with her students and answer their questions about Canada.  In the few minutes we talked, I think that all of us learned new things about living in Canada and the United States from our conversation.  From my experience, I can see the benefit of using a mentorship program with students to learn more about  other cultures or countries in the world.

My friends from Coulee Dam, Washington…

I also enjoyed working with Sheri Edwards and her grade six students.  We decided for this mentorship project that I would help her students create news stories for their classroom wiki.   Through my blog, the students were able to learn more about me as well as, I provided them with ideas and questions to write their stories on.  As I mentioned earlier, time is a factor with these projects and the students have only started writing their stories.  The interviewing and writing process took longer than originally expected.  I have read through their drafts and I can see that in a few weeks the students will be ready for me to help edit their writing.  Even though my ECMP class is finished, I plan on continuing this project and working with Sheri’s students.  I really like reading their news stories and learning more about their school and community.

Thank you!

I want to thank both Teryl and Sheri for opening up their classrooms and inviting me to take part in this learning experience.  This mentorship hase not only taught me about the specific projects we worked on together, but the endless opportunities technology has to offer in the classroom.  Through our emails, Skype calls, tweets and blog comments  I have gained a wonderful understanding of how these teachers value technology and support it in their teaching practices.  I know that in the future, I can contact them for support and resources to get my own lessons and projects started in my classroom.  Thank you both for all the support and guidance this semester!

To read more about our projects visit Miss Teale’s Blog

Pecha Kucha Presentations

Learning more about Pecha Kucha…

The first minute of this video shares background information about Pecha Kucha presentations.  Then, it continues with an example to illustrate this specific presentation format.

Planning my presentation…

Last Wednesday, we celebrated our final ECMP class with pizza and Pecha Kucha presentations.   It was the first time I have created this type of presentation, so I had to learn about it before getting started.  For our class, @shareski decided on the presentation format to be either 10 slides timed for 20 seconds each or 20 slides timed for 10 seconds each.  I decided to create my presentation using 10 slides for 20 seconds each.

First, I created a PowerPoint with 10 blank slides and set the timer to change each slide after every 20 seconds.   Next,  I organized my thoughts  and ideas about what I wanted to say during my reflection of ECMP 455.  Then, I searched for pictures to illustrate my ideas.   I had majority of the pictures in my computer files, but I searched for a few more on Flickr.   Finally, I arranged the pictures in order and rehearsed what I was going to say for each picture during my presentation.

Taking it one step further…

After the ECMP class, I wanted to share my Pecha Kucha with everyone reading my blog.  I decided to try using Voice Thread.  I had never used it before, but I wanted to teach myself something new.  It was simple!  I signed up for account, uploaded my pictures, recorded my voice and I was done.  It was easy and very user friendly!  I will definitely use this tool in my classroom for various lessons to record my voice as well as the students’ voices.  It is a great way for students to share their learning and experiences with their peers.  Great self-evaluation and self-reflecting project! The only problem I found was it did not allow me to embed it in my WordPress blog.

If you are interested in listening to my reflections about ECMP 445, click the link below to see my presentation.

My ECMP 455

Pecha Kucha Presentation

Gathering Digital Story Resources

After completing my digital storytelling project, I am gathering additional information and resources to use for creating a teacher resource wiki.  My goal is to create a resource sharing my experiences using digital stories in the classroom as well as to collect information from other educators who have used digital stories in their classrooms.  If you have created digital stories with your students, please take a few minutes to fill out this google form to share your thoughts and ideas.   Thanks for your help! 😀

Please fill out the form, then click submit so I can review your responses. Thanks again!

Digital Stories Questionnaire

Storm Stories

laffy4k

Dark Clouds over Huntington, Indiana

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the grade four students while creating digital stories.  I will definitely use this project idea in my classroom.   This was a great learning opportunity for teaching with technology and I learned how to support my students interests and learning needs.  This project challenged my students to think creatively as well as to build on their problem solving abilities.   It is an engaging project for the students to teach others about their thoughts.  I know there are many possibilities for students to create these stories in various subjects in the Saskatchewan curriculum.

It was a wonderful to see the students engaging and learning to create their own stories.  I saw the confidence and pride in the students while they worked on their stories.  This project gave them a sense of ownership of their learning. They had to make choices to create their stories and decide on the text, pictures, fonts, and transitions  appropriate for their stories.  It took responsibility and co-operation to create the stories.  It was rewarding to see the happiness and excitement the students shared during the process of creating the stories.

I felt that my job moved from directly teaching the students in the lesson, to becoming a facilitator to their learning.  I took the role of supporting the students and offering suggestions rather than telling them what they should do.  The stories were solely their creations.   It was a great experience for me to learn how to let go and allow the students to explore and make their own decisions.  As well, it was rewarding to know I am helping them develop skills and tools they can use in the future.

Reflections from the students during our process:

“This is the best assignment ever, Miss Teale!”

“This is fun!”

“Cool!”

“I didn’t know I could do that.”

“Can we do this again?”

To wrap up our learning and exploration of digital stories, I am visiting the Grade Four students again before the end of April 2009 to have a celebration of learning.  We are going to invite the parents in for the afternoon and share all the stories the students created about storms.  It will be a great opportunity for parents to see what the students have been working on and for the students to share with their classmates the work they have completed.  I look forward to celebrating at the end of the month!  As well, I will be creating a CD of all the stories for each student to take home and share with their friends and family.

Here are a few examples of our storm stories:

The Tornado

The Crazy Storm

Blizzard

The Big Storm

The Hail Storm

Finishing Our Storm Stories

digital-story

On April 3, I was able to make a trip and visit the grade four’s to continue working on our digital stories.   I was a bit nervous starting the day because it had been a few weeks, since my last visit and we had a lot of work to do in order to get the stories completed.   After reflecting on my previous lesson, I decided that the best way to teach the students about creating digital stories using Photo Story 3 was to work with one group at a time.   Since I only had one day to finish the videos,  I felt that this was easier for me to monitor and help the students with questions during the process.  As well, I felt that I could focus on each group by helping them organize and arrange their stories.

I was fortunate to have help from @peglaws, who spent the day working on the stories with the students.  I took one partner group and she took the other group of students.  We worked in the same computer lab, so we were able to help each other and support the students together.   The day started off a little slow because it took time to get the students set up and ready for the process.  As we continued working, Peggy and I became more aware of how to support the students, as well the students became more confident with using the program.  It seemed that with each group, the time spent became shorter and shorter.

Here is an outline of the digital story making process:

Peggy and I each took a group of students to teach them the process for making digital stories.  Each group had one computer to share and work on creating their storm story.  The students had to take turns working on the stories and share responsibilities during the step-by- step process.

import-pics

Step One: Open Photo Story 3, create a new project and import the pictures we saved last day on the student’s account. This was very interesting process because some students had trouble saving their pictures properly to their account, so many pictures were lost.  We helped the students find any pictures saved in their file and import into the program. Then, if more pictures were needed, we searched on Flickr or Google Images and saved them in a digital story folder.  Peggy and I assisted the students to ensure this step went quickly, so not too much time was spent searching for pictures.

story-board

Step Two: When all the pictures were imported, the students worked putting the pictures in order by clicking and dragging them into place.  They used their story boards to help them place the pictures in the correct order.  During this step, the students deleted some pictures as well as decided to add a more pictures to complete their stories.

adding-title-page

Step Three: This step allowed the students to add titles to their pictures.  The students discussed the importance of titles and experimented with creating titles for various pictures in their stories.  The students were able to decide on font style, colour, size and positioned the text appropriately on the pictures. As well, at this time students added a title page for their story.  We retrieved a variety of coloured blank slides from Jakesonline.  The students decided on a title page colour, then added the story title and author names on it.  During this step a few students tried changing the effects of their pictures, but most preferred the original pictures with no effects.

voice-6

Step Four: The students had the most fun recording their narration for the stories.  Previously, I had explained to the students that they could decide on how to record the narration with their partners.  I challenged them to try and think of different ways to record their story.  Most groups took turns reading every second page and read the title page together.  Only one group choose to have one partner read the text while to the other partner made sound effects in the background.   It was very interesting to hear the students practice and record their voice narrations.  It was a neat partnership to see the students share responsibilities and help each other with the recording.  In pairs, the students decided who would record the voice and who would click the record button.  It was a valuable step for the students to be able to review their recording and choose to erase and re-record when necessary.  The erase option helped take the pressure off the students when recording their part of the story.

editing-voice

Step Five: The next step with using Photo Story 3 is to customize motion.  I allowed the students a few minutes to explore this option, but due to time constraints, many groups skipped over this step.  The students thoughts that the automatic transitions and motions looked good.  If I was to work with the students again, I would allow them more time to play and explore with picture motions and transitions because now they have an understanding of the program.

editing

Step Six: This step is for adding background music to the story. For my lesson, I decided that the students would not complete this step for this particular story because we did not have time to discuss or explore the options of adding background music.

Step Seven: The last step is saving the projects to a computer file.   Peggy and I helped the students saved the stories to each students account, by browsing through files and selecting the correct location.  We made sure to save it as a Window Media Video (.wmv) file.  Then, we had the students change the settings of the project because I planned on uploading their videos onto my You Tube account.  We rendered the movie as 320 X 240, which makes it easier to post on-line, rather than the normal 640X 480.

finished-story

Step Eight: Each group viewed their story 😀

Technology in the Classroom

For my mentorship project, I have been working with Ms. Edward’s classroom on helping her students write news stories to publish on their wiki.  It is a major learning process for her students.  They have been working on practicing interviewing and questioning skills to gather information for writing their stories.   As well, they have started the writing process because I received a link from Ms. Edwards for their new story drafts.

I read through each of the drafts and I can see the variety of interesting stories developing in her classroom.   I learned something very interesting about Ms. Edward’s students from reading these stories.  Currently, Ms. Edward’s students are visiting through Skype with the Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, Tennessee.  The reason for their Skype meetings is to teach the students from Tennessee  about Native American culture and dances.  The first meeting was on March 4, 2009 and the students from Ms. Edward’s class welcomed their new friends by sharing traditional Native dances.  It looked like a wonderful experience for the students to share their dances and teach the students more about Native American culture.

After reading about this story,  I looked at Ms. Edward’s blog as well as Mrs. Trefz blog (teacher from Tennessee) to learn more about the learning experience happening between these two schools.  I can see that this is a wonderful learning experience for both classrooms. The students are sharing important things with each other and learning about the similarities among these two cultures.

From this experience, I think it proves how valuable technology is for bringing together collaborative learning around the world.  These teachers would have never been about to develop this type of learning without the tools and resources in technology.   These students are able to see each other and talk with each other, even though they are miles apart.  As well, I would have never been apart of their learning without technology.  I am able follow their experiences through pictures and comments on their classroom blogs.  Technology opens doors to sharing experiences, so it is like I am in the classroom with them.

Throughout this semester I have been reflecting on the importance of technology in the classroom and how I can use it with my future students.  I can definitely see the benefits of technology and how creating relationships with other people will expand the learning for students.  Technology can develop a rich learning environment for students and invite them to become active learners. In the future, I will use technology in my classroom for providing my students with active, engaging lessons.

I am going to continue to follow this journey with these students and reflect on the valuable learning and relationships that are being made because of technology.  I want to thank Ms. Edwards and her students for opening up their classroom and sharing their learning experiences with me!

If you are interested in learning more, here are some links:

Ms. Edward’s Blog (Coulee Dam, Washington)

Mrs. Trefz Blog (Memphis, Tennessee)

My Mentorship Projects:

Miss Teale’s Blog (Regina, Saskatchewan)