Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Practicing Problem Solving with the Green Screen

Today we had some great fun playing with the greenscreen, PuppetPals app, bitstrips and Camtasia for video editing. Groups are making short clips about having a growth mindset.

Introducing DeforestACTION!

Tomorrow we are participating in a video conference run in partnership with the Centre for Global Education and Taking IT Global. It is the kickoff of the DeforestACTION project.

Today we watched a quick video clip about the issue of legal and illegal deforestation in Borneo due to the creation of palm oil plantations. We discussed how it can impact orangutan habitat and global climate change. We have many more questions than we got answers to today. Some of these questions include:

  • what IS palm oil? 
  • what products have palm oil in them? 
  • is there a way to responsibly produce palm oil? 
  • how does the orangutan rescue work?
  • what is a monoculture? 
  • what other animals and living things are impacted by loss of habitat?
Tomorrow's video conference will be an exciting way to interact with people from all over the world to learn more about this issue. We will bring in some palm-oil free snacks to celebrate the event. After the video conference we will research and learn more about the issue. We will also sign up for Earthwatchers where we are each assigned a 1.6 ha2 parcel of land in Borneo to monitor via satellite images. If we notice any change in land due to deforestation we will "alert" our area and others will check out satellite images to confirm or deconfirm. If others agree there is deforestation in my land, people on the ground in Borneo will go and check it out . 

Here are some videos about the awesome projects and technology used to help us develop skills necessary to be productive 21st Century citizens and work to make a difference in our world! 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Note-Taking Strategies and Tips

Today we brainstormed ideas, strategies and tips for taking notes in class. Here is the Padlet we created.

After our brainstorming and discussion session we tried out a new tool. We used Educreations to record short tutorials including our favorite note-taking or school success tips. This was our first time using Educreations. Today our goals were to;
  • develop strategies for improved school performance (such as note-taking and organization)
  • practice using new/different digital tools to explain our understanding (Padlet and Educreations)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Using Scratch for Learning Strategies

We needed something to get our class back working together as a cohesive unit today. Yesterday we had an amazingly awful run of things trying to get text-to-speech tools installed and running on all students devices. It was chaotic, crazy and frustrating for many of us.

We had planned on starting with Scratch next Monday, but needed something exciting and fun to end the week on a positive note. Wow, did that plan work!

Scratch is a tool created by MIT that allows youth to create animations, videos, games, etc. while developing some skills required for coding. Over the past few years Scratch has moved to a web-based platform that runs in the browser. This means my students could access it from any device except iPads. Lucky for us, their teacher is a bit geeky and always has an extra Chromebook kicking around. In learning strategies we are using Scratch to address the following learning goals:

  • Practice skills required to learn new things.
  • Develop critical thinking skills required to troubleshoot when things don't go as planned. What can you do when something doesn't work? 
  • Develop collaboration skills. Students can build together, learn new features from each other, build on each others code. 
  • Practice critiquing each others work and providing effective feedback for improvement. 
  • Reflect on what it means to have "grit" or resiliency. How do we respond and feel when things don't go as planned? 
  • Develop skills for creativity and innovation. How can you make this piece of work even better? 
  • Provide context and practice of some literacy skills. We will be keeping design journals as we go. 
  • Provide context for reflection on learning skills.
  • Provide a real virtual community to practice and demonstrate our digital citizenship skills in. These skills will include appropriate communication, sharing our work, remixing others work while providing credit. 
We had great conversations about "the Grandma rule" (don't post anything online that you don't want Granny to see). We also talked about the skills required to troubleshoot when technology goes wrong and what it means to tinker and figure things out on our own. 

During the initial exploration period, students explored previously created Scratch projects and started to create their own unplanned projects.  Unrestricted exploration. Their reflection was based on brainstorming things they could create. As I walked around class, I heard the following from students;
  • "how did you do that?"
  • "here! come see this!"
  • "Wow, did you know that you can... ?"
  • "ok, so what if you did this and I did this... "
  • "urrrrrggggg, why can't I get this to work? Ok, lets try this..."
  • "I just made the coolest thing, come here and I'll show you how I did it"
  • "so, how did the person make that game? Here, we can look at the code. Does it make sense?"
Todays class was the most engaged I have seen my students by far. It was also the most collaborative they have been, with exception of previous "directed" group work. Meaning, they were all up and learning over each others computer screens, helping each other out and interacting with each other. 

Mission accomplished. A great end to the week. Next week we'll each find a feature to share with classmates. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Genius Project Ideas

Today, in class, we started talking about our Genius Project. Once we finish introducing a few more literacy, numeracy and success strategies, we are going to start our Genius Projects. Students will practice, fine-tune and reflect on their use of a variety of learning strategies through a project of interest. There are very few restrictions on this project - students are encouraged to design a project that is of high-interest. It will be assessed through their demonstration and reflection on the specific learning strategies they choose to incorporate.

Here are some of the ideas students have chosen so far:

  • Video Editing - using my GoPro, an old MacBook outfitted with Adobe Premiere and a microphone, Caleb will be learning how to create and edit video. 
  • Cooking - Logan will be creating a digital cookbook of recipes he has tried and will then teach our class how to cook something of his choosing. 
  • Game Design and Creation - Cole and Jacob both want to look at how to create video games. We will likely start with Scratch and see if they can create some basic video games to start and work from there. 
  • Photography - Katherine is interested in photography and so will learn some new styles and techniques using both her phone and my dSLR. She will create a digital portfolio using Google Open Gallery. 
Other ideas we have include an interest in vet tech and/or animal training and an interest in building, auto mechanics and "taking things apart and putting back together". We will be doing some research and fleshing out these ideas into learning projects that are of interest. Any suggestions are welcome! Many of these topics are way out of my comfort zone and I cannot wait to learn with the students. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Math of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Today in class we looked at the following problem:

Different groups made different assumptions, but generally we decided that each person challenged three others and each had 24 hours to respond. 

In groups, students considered the problem and then responded using ClassFlow (they can write their responses using a pen tool or typing). At the front of the classroom we could project different group responses and discuss them (similar to a digital bansho). Here is one groups work: 

Our work today resulted in a few big "take home" ideas: 
  • math is a language and tool to use for solving problems 
  • when we have a broader mathematical knowledge, we have more "tools" in our toolbox. That allows us to find easier ways to solve problems. For example, this problem could be modelled using exponents if we knew how. If we didn't, we could use multiplication. 
  • exponents/powers are a great way to simplify repeated multiplication 
  • inverse operations are opposite operations 
  • how to use square root operation 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Life in Uganda

We've started reading War Brothers in class. It is a story about teenagers in Uganda who get abducted by a group of rebels and forced to fight as Child Soldiers. It is going to be a very difficult topic to work through.

Our first activity is to research Uganda. Students are posing a question about Uganda and researching the answer. They are practicing the skill of evaluating websites (to ensure they are good sources of information) and co-creating a Google presentation about Uganda.

So far, questions include:

  • What is Krest? (a type of soda mentioned in the book that students want to know more about it)
  • What type of food do they eat in Uganda?
  • What type of sports do they play in Uganda? 
  • What is traditional clothing in Uganda? 
  • What is the most popular religion in Uganda?
  • Is there racism in Uganda? (the book has parts where children say "white man, white man", which prompted this discussion)
  • What to people do for fun in Uganda? 
  • What do people do to earn money (work) in Uganda? 
  • Where do they go to school in Uganda? 
  • What are village buildings made out of in Uganda? 
  • What is the population of Uganda?
  • What does Uganada "look like"? (geography)
Do you have any questions about Uganda to add  to our collection? 

Our spark activity (which today was a walk/run) ended up going a little longer than anticipated because it was so nice out and we have some great runners in class! We will complete our Uganda presentation soon and share it here. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Girls First Ski Jump

We will be watching this and discussing it in class.

Log in below with the code dJQO3o

The video will stop periodically while I point something out and there are two questions to answer near the end.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Kindness Boomerang

Login with your school username and the password given to you in class.

Each student will watch the video and answer the questions embedded into the video.

Welcome to Digital Learning Strategies!

Welcome to your first day of Grade 9!

Let's talk about your donor welcome kit
Photo credit DikkeBiggie on Flickr
I look forward to an excellent semester working with you. By the end of this course you will have further developed your learning skills and confidence as a learner. My goal is to ensure you leave this course with the feeling that you can learn anything you put your mind to, and have a set of skills to help you.

We will begin this course with some "getting to know ourselves as learners" activities while we are setting up our personal devices (laptops and tablets) to work best for you. We will use this question to guide our work;

"How can your personal device be used to support your strengths and needs as a learner?" 

This question requires an understanding of yourself as a learner, what areas you need to work on and what your strengths are. It also will include practicing some skills such as time-management, communication and planning for the future.

 Other topics or themes in this course will be:

  • Numeracy 
    • Gap Closing 
    • Multiples (lowest common multiples, factors, etc.)
    • Problem Solving Skills 
  • War Brothers (a novel or graphic novel about child soldiers)
    • Literacy
    • Global Collaborations
    • OSSLT Prep
    • Conflict Resolution 
  • Environmental Literacy 
    • Earthwatchers and deforestation in Borneo as our theme
  • Health and Well-Being
    • SPARK
    • balancing screen time and non-screen time 
  • Mind Set
  • Digital Citizenship and Literacy 
    • Netiquette
    • Safety online
    • Research Information
    • Sourcing information and media 
    • Wikipedia 
  • Genius Time
    • Here you will put the strategies and skills you develop over the semester to use to focus your learning on something that interests you.
  • My Hero project