Sunday, November 29, 2015

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child On and Offline

Source: J.Stewart-Mitchell
It takes a village to raise a child, both on and offline. In teaching digital citizenship, it’s not about a stand-alone lesson or unit, and we continue on with exploring other curricular outcomes. Digital citizenship is more than just teaching students how to behave ethically and safe online. It’s about giving opportunities for students to express themselves, share their voice and participate in the digital community. In order for students to understand what it means to be good digital citizens, they need opportunities to demonstrate digital fluency. Hiding from the dangers that may lurk in the dark shadowy corners will not help students become good citizens, they need to be active members of a digital community to truly get it, and this only comes with experience. Therefore as teachers we need to provide opportunities for students to learn how to interact in the online world within the classroom.

Source: J.Stewart-Mitchell & G. Rodriguez
The structure for teaching that experiential digital knowledge is where our project comes into play. In learning we need a framework for teaching that experiential knowledge which can be found in the essential transferable skills of 21st Century or modern learning. Skills which are about enhancing our student’s ability to communicate, create, collaborate, connect, curate, critically think, and of course awareness of citizenship. Students need to be able to share or communicate with others effectively using digital tools and programs. They need to be skilled with more than just using programs like Word or Skype, but truly understand what it means to use these tools effectively to share ideas or information and connect with their learning community.

Every day as teachers we focus on developing our students’ literacy as well as fluency, with the focus being on reading and speaking. As educators we devote a significant amount of every day focusing on improving reading levels, writing and overall language fluency. Reading fluency is about reading quickly and accurately, with natural expression and inflection, as well as appropriate pacing and the skills for decoding information.  But what are we doing to improve digital literacy or digital fluency? How are we teaching students to be able to use digital tools naturally with ease, knowing the most effective time and place for using various programs or platforms? How are we providing opportunities so that students with digital fluency are able to navigate apps or programs with ease, and are able to identify the best tool to further their communication or understanding? Digital fluency is about understanding the basics of how to transition from platform to platform, having the skill set to be able to be able to navigate and share information and create. Just as in reading and writing, we need to aim to provide opportunities so that students can become fluent in their digital fluency, and go beyond mere, digital literacy. So how do we do this?

As teachers we also need to provide opportunities to create or capture representations of student understanding. Give opportunities at school to engage in creating original digital representations or even ethically remixed works of others. This means combining digital citizenship with creating. As educators we need to ask ourselves as to how often are we providing opportunities to do more than consume technology. If students are remixing new videos, creating memes and engaging in games such as Minecraft, how are we combining some of these afterschool passions with learning at school?

Michael Fullen states in “A Rich Seam – How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning”, “digital tools and resources have the potential to enable, expand and accelerate learning in ways previously unimaginable” (p. 30), but he also states that technology is not going to make any impact on learning if we do not go beyond tools that encourage repetition, like drill and practice or just as a vehicle for delivering teacher identified curricular content (p. 31). Fullen furthers this argument by stating that technology will not improve learning, until students are given opportunities to use it to deepen their learning (p. 32). In order to “deepen learning”, there needs to be authentic opportunities for students to collaborate and engage in creating knowledge. The question is, are we giving them opportunities to create knowledge and contribute this knowledge to the online community?

Pillars of Digital Citizenship
Source: Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum
So what does all this have to do with digital citizenship? The only way we can authentically provide students with the opportunity to see relevance of the pillars of digital citizenship, we need to have rich engagement with technology, not just surface level consumption. This means that as teachers, not only do we have to ensure that we model a “good” digital footprint, we need to actually have one. In order to be a role model, you need to engage and be active, be a participant. This means communicating, connecting, creating, curating, collaborating and engaging in problem solving or critical thinking.  In order to model digital citizenship, we need to be digitally present and demonstrate how to appropriately interact online. Part of teaching others how to form an authentic online identity is to provide that model – an intentional formed digital tattoo, as described in the TED Talk by Juan Enriquez: Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo.

EdTech guru, Vicki Davis states that she approaches digital citizenship in two ways, proactive knowledge and experiential knowledge. Experiential knowledge is giving students exposure to the essential skills or fluencies. Proactive skills is about teaching students how to be protect themselves and their identity online while sharing their voice. In an article, “5 Reasons You Should Be Teaching Digital citizenship”, author Paul Barnwell provides five reasons why schools need to take the lead in promoting digital citizenship and media literacies in curriculum, both in and outside the classroom. His reasons include:
  1. The gap is growing.
  2. Digital footprints are easy to leave
  3. It’s ‘real life’
  4. There is a culture of multitasking
  5. Content curation is an emerging literacy

After taking this course, I have come to the conclusion that there are tons of reasons for teaching media literacy and digital citizenship. The key is that the message needs to start at Pre-Kindergarten and continue on to grade 12. It’s not up to one teacher or one area to teach this information and skills, it’s up to everyone. In order for the message to sink in, we all need to sing from the same song sheet. There are definitely many convincing reasons as to why we need to teach Digital citizenship in schools, but the question is, how do we fit it all in?

Source: J.Stewart-Mitchell
Many teachers wonder how to fit in digital citizenship into a curriculum that is already seems incredibly compact. Teaching Digital citizenship is like teaching Treaty Education, you integrate where it is authentic and appropriate. The worst mistake is to think that it is about teaching a unit at the beginning of the year, and expecting students to apply the learning. It is about teaching mini-lessons where they fit. In a blog post I shared a couple days ago, I shared my reflections on a session I facilitated on digital citizenship for High School Teachers. In that session all of the teachers were involved in building lessons that integrated digital citizenship and the other digital fluencies. These were not digital citizenship lessons, but instead curricular or outcome focused lessons that authentically brought in the citizenship elements. That was the key. Teachers were encouraged to focus on their subject area outcomes, and not specifically on citizenship. Because of this, it was an easy “sell” to teachers. It must be easy for teachers to integrate, and that is what the Continuum allows – easy integration into multiple subjects and grades. But at the same time, as Carla stated in her post, it’s also important to maintain the integrity of the courses – so again there needs to be the awareness of how to make it authentic.   

Source: J.Stewart-Mitchell
As schools provide more and more opportunities for using digital tools in learning, there is a responsibility for ensuring that these tools are used appropriately. Therefore digital fluency and digital citizenship go hand in hand. However there comes a time when as parents and teachers we need to step back and give our kids the opportunity to exercise what they have learned. Rochelle points out in her post that, “we can show them the way, but students need to choose for themselves.” This is so true, as long as we are having the conversations and teaching students how to navigate effectively and behave ethically online, then we have to trust they will do it – and then monitor to see if they are!

So who is responsible for digital citizenship? Is it the kid who posts sexy photos of themselves in an online chat-room? Is it the parents who state that they are overwhelmed by this new emerging online world, yet purchase smartphones and set few boundaries on their use? Or is it the lack of education provided in school in how to be more mindful in our use of technology? The answer is, it is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to talk about it and communicate the same message. As stated earlier, it takes a village to raise a child. Today this reality is all the more apparent, as we all learn how to effectively navigate our way in this digital wilderness.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gone are the Days When Flirting Was Holding Hands or Passing Notes

Source: YouTube Mark Kelley on Amanda Todd, The Fifth Estate

Over and over again we have heard that, “The name of Amanda Todd became synonymous with cyber-bullying and loss after the B.C. teenager committed suicide.” Her story is tragic. It provides us with an example of all the bad things that can happen when kids connect online without parental understanding of what can happen in chat rooms. Her story also provides reasons as to why we all need to educate ourselves in how teens are connecting and to have open conversations about what kids are doing online and who they are socializing with. 

These conversations are not new ones. Growing up, I’m sure many of us experienced the pre-going out conversations with parents… “What are you doing? Who are you going out with? Who is driving? Who is going to be at this party? Will there be drinking?” Parents today are still having these conversations, it’s just the questions need a 21st Century upgrade to include… “Who are you chatting with? What are you talking about? What are your privacy settings set at? What is the nature of this chat? How does this relate to school? How long have you been online? Why is it important to keep your device on the kitchen counter at night?” … You get the idea.  Why have these conversations? It’s about parenting. Jeremy Black, in his post states that the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum and Framework should include education for parents and that it’s not enough to say that they “cannot relate to their children’s digital immersion.” I totally agree with this statement. As a parent or even as a teacher, we can’t sit idly by. If we are going to help students navigate this world, we need to up our game too. This means being aware of apps that pose as calculators but are actually digital vaults for hiding images. Check out the Global News video, "What parents need to know about ghost apps". 

Amanda’s parents permitted the interview with CBC because they wanted to get her story out there. Yet is it enough? Are teens and pre-teens seeing the dangers? One can only wonder if the message is getting across.  On one website, No that explores cyberbullying and Amanda’s tragic story, there is a quote that caught my attention.

The truth remains that people who bullied and tormented Amanda still walk the streets everyday thinking their hate and actions mean nothing while in fact every comment they have made about her while she was alive or after her death, brings so much pain to the people who loved her. Remember that words do hurt and scar, sometimes beyond repair.”

Although the man who was responsible for her extortion and harassment was found, there are others who still walk the streets who also caused her harm. Individuals who left unchecked, un-reprimanded, who will continue to do so. Why? Maybe it’s because unfortunately the Internet can just be a place for people to hide behind a screen and disassociate themselves from the horrible things they say.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseRemixed by J.Stewart-Mitchell
from the work  by 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseRemixed by J.Stewart-Mitchell 
from the work by  daniMU  
The Internet is not going to go away, so those stalkers and abusers will continue to lurk the digital highway, so as educators and parents we need to not just monitor kid’s online activities, we need to ensure that they learn how to be safe. Perhaps there needs to be a 21st Century Grimm’s Fairytale book (hey that’s an idea!), one where kids will learn to not trust the “Kind, young gentleman… as he is not who he appears to be… he might be the wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Maybe this sounds a little melodramatic, but as a teacher and a parent, I would want my daughters to learn that although the Internet can be a great space for learning, connecting and exploring new ideas, there are serious dangers in this enchanted forest that we need to avoid.

As a teacher I see the Internet and what it has to offer and yet my heart chilled as I watched,The Sextortion of Amanda Todd”. However even with the dangers that lurk, it is still more important to educate kids then take away computers. We need to teach kids how to be safe, set up environments and protocols for device use, ensure that we are connected to our kids, both technologically and emotionally.

After watching the original video, I decided to watch the other installment of this case from CBC,Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man in the Shadowsreleased a little over a year later. Of course Amanda Todd’s sad story garnered many comments from viewers wondering how this could happen. Most posts revolved around the importance of open communication and the importance of ensuring our students are aware of how to stay safe. For some reason, I like reading comments, particularly moderated ones for topics such as this. Comments provide multiple perspectives, furthering understanding or at least provide additional food-for-thought. One person commented,

“Social Media needs to increase the age of use from 13 to 16 and should require proof of age before an account is set up. Driver's license comes to mind... or Birth Certificate. Yes, some will still get through but if we try we may succeed to prevent some casualties. As well, parents should be held responsible for allowing their kids to violate social media rules (i.e. Facebook says age 13)... but there are children on Facebook.... very young children. There needs to be an online enforcement of age.”

The response to the comment was as follows,

 “The internet is not a physical place you can enforce with state control. This is a parenting issue. Failing to warn and prepare children for the digital world is no different than leaving your infant child alone in the middle of a busy intersection and hoping they crawl to safety. Society must stop being naive and hoping someone else will protect you and yours from harm. It’s naive and part of the problem. This man who did this is no genius he just chose not to be ignorant to the tools he used and was able to evade detection. This is no different than a rapist who hides in the shadows….”

I agreed with some of what the responder shared. Why isn’t it possible to control the Internet better? After meeting and planning presentations with the Internet Child Exploitation Officers here in Regina, and watching their part of the presentation when they share how much Child Internet Porn is traded by individuals here in our province, I felt chilled, immobilized… sick. My first gut reaction as a parent is that my kids will never use Social Media. I am going to control all the privacy settings on all devices, I am going to monitor and do whatever I can do to keep my child safe. I am going ensure that this will never happen to my kids. But then I remember the nature of teens. You can’t just control or police. You need to educate. These words were echoed by Cory, one of the ICE officers. It’s about equipping our kids with online savvy and confidence to avoid situations where their privacy and security is compromised. It is also about ensuring that they have the “Cyber Smarts” to know that the Internet can really be a Digital Fun House – everything is not as it appears, and when the smoke and mirrors disappear, things are not as they seem. It also means as parents and teachers, we need to have Cyber Smarts. Keeping one’s head in the sand and assuming that everything is okay, will not help keep our kids safe. Parents need to ensure they understand the issues that are associated with apps such as SnapChat and YikYak and talk to their kids about these issues. Even if a parent is not Social Media savvy, they need to get savvy or at least become friends or follow their kids on Social Media.

Other comments,
“Sad story, but someone can't be cyber bullied if they stay off Facebook and Twidder [actual spelling] --- plus those things are a colossal waste of time anyway.”

The response,
“I understand what you are saying. However, you need to realize that the youth of today are wired in. Technology is an extremely important aspect of our culture today, especially with youth. Not being on social medial is very difficult to achieve for our kids, because that's the forum for socializing now. That's where youth get their news and information, share ideas and network with their friends.”

After watching this CBC story, I too initially wondered, why Amanda’s parents did not keep her off devices? During the documentary it was said that she had ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (Genna Rodriguez and Gloria Uluqsi also noted problems that can arise with the challenges of this disorder, so I won’t go too far into this in my blog post). The interviewers also paint a picture of a person who due to her condition, not only had issues with impulsivity, she also sometimes felt socially rejected or made fun of by the kids because of things she would say. After finding her online friends, she found the acceptance that she would have been craving. Being online was her social life, which would have become all the more important when she was rejected at school. As stated in one of the comments above regarding the youth of today being wired in. Amanda’s wasn’t just wired in. Everything that made her feel like she belonged was online. So if kids are so wired in, how can we help them keep perspective? How can we ensure that they interact online, but are still connected offline or face to face. I’m not saying reject technology Sherry Turkle-style, but ensure that there is that degree of separation so that it’s not a person’s life

So where do we go from here? How can we protect kids from the dangers that lurk online? How do we parent the digital generation?  Communication. It all comes down to communication and honest conversations about what can happen and how to protect one’s identity and dignity online. It also means ensuring that kids have many circles of friends. Circles that may include friends at school, sports, dance or family friends. 

Source: Common Sense Media Tips for Digital Generation Parents

Other resources that connect to this topic for parents: Common Sense Media - "Overexposed Sexting and Relationships"

Video from Global News on Ghost apps and what parents need to be aware of.

Major Project Update - Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Teaching at the High School Level

This past week, Genna and I finished off our presentation for high school teachers who were signed up to take our professional development session on "Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Teaching at the High School Level".  The purpose of the session was to explore with teachers the digital citizenship continuum, plan lessons integrating digital citizenship into curricular learning, then finally delve deep into the Essential Skills of 21st Century Learning. 
Some of the challenges of this session include helping teachers of curricular areas (ie: Math) find authentic ways of integrating digital citizenship. However, through discussion with these teachers, we noticed that as soon as technology was integrated into the lesson, there were definitely opportunities to explore digital citizenship. One teacher who was designing a math lesson around... (some complicated math concept that used the word "binomials"...) had groups of students record a lesson Khan Academy style for various concepts. After discussion, we realized that not all students would have devices for engaging in the project, so one of the elements that had to be investigated was the essential question, "Does everyone in your school have equal opportunities as far as technology use is concerned?" or "Do all students have the opportunity to be involved in a digital society?" So in this lesson, this teacher had to explore access of technology with the students, yet not in a way that would make any individuals feel embarrassed. 
Teachers had the opportunity to also use our Essential Skills Framework Lesson Template for lesson planning, which most found fairly easy to navigate once it was explained and samples were explored. 

Providing time for teachers to collaborate and build lessons was well received by the teachers. It will be great to have lessons from the high school level as part of our data base of digitally integrated lessons. 
Click on the link to access the presentation if it is not available via Scribd. **Please note that in Scribd, documents sometimes lose formatting, or words move around. Therefore, if you notice format issues, it was fine previous to uploading to Scribd.

Part of afternoon was also a investigation of the Essential Skills and exploring some of the digital tools teachers may wish to utilize in their classroom as part of amplifying learning. In analyzing technology, teachers were encouraged to examine effectiveness with this inverted Bloom's strategy that we devised.

Digital Tool Questions for Analysis

Many of the teachers who attended our session were already integrating technology effectively in the classroom, so our session also became a great opportunity to share ideas and bounce our project's framework off a group who had the tech-savvy knowledge to give honest feedback. The only concern that really seemed to pop up with high school teachers was the time to delve into some ways the curriculum could be leveraged. Many thought that finding other teachers and classrooms to connect with via Skype, could be a bit of a challenge many noted as the class-times in a high school schedule can be quite confining. Time seemed to be the issue even when looking at how to digitally create, as some teachers stated that they felt the pressures of curriculum. So going forward, our job might be helping teachers see the benefits of having students share their understanding beyond paper and pencil or other traditional methods, and move towards other forms of summative assessment.

One final part of the day that I want to share, was that we spent about an hour planning and sharing a few ideas for the Red Cross Pink Day on February 24th, 2016. The different high schools had different visions for how this would unfold, from wearing pink t-shirts and having a tweet-up to potential guest speakers. Some teachers were interested in integrating creating digital artefacts (similar to the Student First Anti-Bullying Project), that would be shared at a division level. 

One of the greatest successes of the day was that all teachers saw the need for integrating digital citizenship on a regular basis into curriculum, but also supported events such as Pink Day to further generate awareness for Anti-Bullying and Digital Citizenship. 

In conclusion, as an update for the Scope and Sequence aspect of our project, Genna and I  are now starting the process of building our webpages on Drupal, as the Scopes and Sequences for the 6 Essential Skills are pretty much completed. We have yet to capture some of the digital stories to help actualize the Essential Skills, but we realize that this will be part of the "work in progress". 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Connectivism, Connections to Growth Mindset and a Few Additional Musings...

This is just a quick post on my reactions to the readings for the question, 
"What is the role of sociality and participatoryculture in our understanding of literacy?"

George Siemens' article, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age  reinforces the opportunities afforded with Social Media and learning online. This theory is about the changing nature of information and how knowledge is shared in our world. Connectivism resonates with me because of the importance placed on the learner making meaning through connections they make with other learners, as well as the whole idea of students forming their own personal learning communities. Connectivism is not just about making connections with people, but also the importance of making connections with concepts. Illich’s writing on “Deschooling Society” also reinforces these ideas with his focus on technology supporting learning webs and his early vision of student personal learning networks.

Illich and Siemens' work helped to further solidify my own understanding of what it means to connect. If one looks at the 7C’s in our major project, you can see that we have included “Connecting”. After these readings, I felt a sense of affirmation that it good for us to include yet one more “C”. After some exploration of the work of Michael Fullen and the ISTE Standards, Genna and I both felt that there was a piece missing, and that Connecting is worthy of being considered an essential skill for learning today.  

When explaining how connecting is different than communicating or collaborating to other teachers, I had initially thought that connecting was more about the learner exploring their own understanding of ideas. This means making connections between subject areas, previous understanding with current information, connections between other texts and world or self. Siemens' also looks at this notion when he states that connecting is the “capacity to form connections between sources of information, and thereby create useful information patterns, is required to learn in our knowledge economy.” Being able to find patterns in information, and being able to draw a deeper meaning is also an essential aspect of being able to make connections. This exploration of how connecting can actually improve learning, makes me think of John Hattie’s research (Sorry to diverge, but I’m connecting!). Much of  Hattie’s work on visible learning is also grounded in connectivism, as many of the top influencers on student achievement relate to this concept. Hattie found that teacher-student relationships, feedback loops, metacognition strategies and concept-mapping were some of the top indicators of achievement. These influencers would be well grounded in connectivism.

Source: Jackie Gerstein, User Generated Education, 2014
Although, many may question as to why we need another learning theory, connectivism definitely has a place in teaching and learning. What I really appreciated about the article (and this theory) was how Siemens' states that “the ability to see connections is need to facilitate continual learning”, or that making “connections between disparate ideas and fields can create new innovations”. What I really love about his principles of connectivism is the focus on growth mindset, evident in “Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known”. This is the core of what it means to be a learner. It’s not about what you know, but your drive to learn more or the drive to do more with your brain. Siemen’s theory on Connectivism also emphasis the importance of “Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning”.

I’ve included a video on Growth Mindset, to explore more about this concept. 

When I first started exploring the benefits of inquiry based projects such as Genius Hour and Makerspace, I initially thought it to be driven by Constructivist Pedagogy. Now it is apparent that these inquiry based projects can be more, much more. Constructivism is about individuals forming personal understanding or knowledge due to the interaction between experience and background understanding. Inquiry-based projects need to go beyond the individual in this learning experience - as there is a vital role of others in this learning process. In order to generate further meaning in passion-based projects, such as Genius Hour, there must be that connection with a learning community.

Last year, when working with teachers we explored the need for students to blog and reflect on their learning connecting with the teacher. However, I started to see blogging as taking on another important role, which was providing a space for students to do more than report progress. Instead, it was about connecting and collaborating with other students and experts in the learning journey. After reading books from Genius Hour gurus like Don Wettrick, author of Pure Genius and Paul Solarz, author of Learn Like a Pirate, that I saw the importance of connecting students. 

Over the course of the past couple weeks, I have been thinking about how teachers and students engaged in Genius Hour can connect further. How can these opportunities be leveraged? Right now, most classrooms are just connecting within classroom walls or within schools. What if there could be a “hub” like an Office365 Group or a wikispace where teachers could connect students of similar projects or themes together – even if it was just within a school division or the province? Would connecting kids of like minds potentially create spaces where learning is amplified as students bounce ideas off each other? Teachers could be the mediators in helping students learn how to develop their own Personal Learning Network. In doing this, one could hope that in time, more teachers would be comfortable with extending that circle of learning to other experts joining Professional Learning Communities. It sounds great, but part of me can’t help but think of student online safety and managing these connections. However if one proceeds with measured and planned steps - it is doable. 

Source: Government of Canada Indigenous and Northern Affairs
There are other examples that without the power afforded in connecting minds and perspectives, great projects wound not happen. Danielle Maley’s major project, in bringing the Stories of the Treaties to life, would not be the same without connecting. If you have not read about her project, she will be integrating technology into Treaty 4 history, as well as connecting with other colleagues and students at a high school level to research Treaty 4. This is Connectivism at its finest - connecting ideas, colleagues, students - then extending the circle to experts with elders. While there are many learners from Danielle to the students to all engaged in the journey, Danielle demonstrates that it's not the technology, but the personal stories that will drive the project. 

In using technology to leverage skills such as connecting, we are doing more than just consuming technology. Ashley questions in her blog the importance of going beyond just using devices and the importance of having a purpose. When teachers look at reasons for integrating technology for transferable skills we will take students further in learning, going beyond the consumption and drill and into developing those transferable skills needed for life. 

Professional Development and the Major Project

Part of the major project that Genna Rodriguez and I are working on with the development of a Scope and Sequence of the Essential Skills of 21st Century Learning (7C's) is to develop professional development presentations for teachers in our school division. Professional development is a key element in order for adoption of these essential skills among teachers and students, which puts the focus on the transferable skills students need to learn for success in the 21st century. One of the goals of our division is to provide coaching in educational technology for all levels of users in Technology adoption. So part of our Educational Technology coaching model is to help teachers see beyond the flash of digital tools, and instead on how the tools can leverage and improve learning.

So far we have developed and delivered the following sessions:

Teaching with Technology - Session focused on integrating digital tools based on effective instructional practice. Instructional practice focuses on the work of Marzano, Pickering and Pollock, from the book, Classroom Instruction that Works (2001) as well as Dean, Hubbell, Pitler and Stone, in Classroom Instruction that Works - 2nd Edition (2012). With this session we took the work that had been previously developed by individuals in our department, and combined the concepts to fit within our "7C's". More information on this session can be found on one of our department resource sites, "Technoteaching".

Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Literacy for Primary Teachers - This session focused on 4 elements; 1) Help teachers "unpack" the Digital Citizenship Continuum, and the 3 pillars of learning 2) Develop lessons that focus on curricular outcomes with the authentic integration of Digital Citizenship; 3) Explore the Essential Skills of 21st Century Learning and how the 7C's can help students develop life long digital skills;  4) Within the context of each of the Essential Skills, explore strategies for integrating a variety of digital tools in Balanced Literacy and develop "Balanced Literacy Tech Task Cards" for student learning stations.

Here is an example of a lesson with Digital Citizenship created by Kristina Boutilier who attended our session: "Divergent Perspectives" and gave permission to share this lesson on our website.

Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Literacy for Middle Years Teachers - This session is very similar to the Primary Session, with the focus being on essential skills for middle years students based on the technology they would regularly incorporate into learning.

Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Technology Integration for High School Teachers - This session will be delivered next week, with the difference being we are going to focus on digital integration for all the 7C's, but from the perspective of a variety of subject areas. Rather than focusing on creating Tech Task Cards, we will focus on how the 7C's can connect learning from multiple subject areas. In connecting with other teachers in our division, we have a curating expert, Gaetan Hammond a Teacher Librarian, to help explore research and organizing skills with teachers for part of our session. We are fortunate to have such fantastic experts to assist us in their speciality. In addition to exploring curating, we hope to examine with teachers how they can empower their students to create and remix with digital tools as a way of sharing learning, communicate and collaborate with digital tools, and explore formative assessment tools (like Plickers, Kahoot and Quizzes) for increasing communication about learning.

Sandbox by katmeresin, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licenseby  katmeresin 
The biggest challenge will be helping teachers see the benefits to integrating these tools, especially when some may feel like they do not have the time to investigate how to digitally integrate. These feelings of lack of time are compounded when a teacher may only see those students for 1 hour a day. In any case, our approach is that teachers should choose the tools which help leverage the 7C's, that they find to be easy to integrate and that help learning. To assist teachers with coming to their own understanding of how to use these tools to leverage learning, we will be giving them time to collaborate and "play" in digital sandbox.

In addition to planning PD, we have been continuing to develop the Scope and Sequence for the other C's as well as research other approaches to integrating technology into learning.
Our potential new logo! Thoughts? 

Found a few great articles to incorporate, which include:

Finally in addition to this planning, Genna redesigned our logo incorporating images from our powerPoint presentation into the "gears" of the Essential Skills. We would love some feedback. Keep the old or use the new design?


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Major Project... an Update on Progress - Connecting My Thoughts on Connecting

Stress by topgold, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licenseby  topgold 
The first time I saw the title for Doug Belshaw's doctorial thesis, "The Never Ending Thesis", I had to smile at the originality. Now I get it. Thank goodness I am collaborating with Genna Rodriguez, if not because of the breadth and depth of the project, but just for the moral support! Over the past few days we have been gathering and remixing ideas for the 7C's. Please see Genna's post, "Holiday, What Holiday?" for the essential questions we have explored for 6 of the 7C's.

In exploring articles and videos on connectivism and rhizomatic thinking... I had the pleasure of extending this to our project. Yes this was beneficial, as it's always nice when ideas connect, but frankly it started to make my thought process a little convoluted. The more you learn, the more you have to incorporate, as your perceptions change. Learning can be such a pain!

Here is what I was able to pull apart and re-mix based on previous readings from Belshaw and Fullen to learning then re-shuffle with Illich, Siemens, Jenkins and Cormier. To further explain, this is a Scope and Sequence for Connect which is one of the 7C's we are developing. Fortunately, Citizenship (as in Digital Citizenship) is already completed by the Ministry!

Now keep in mind that the format is off, I was just copy/pasting into this post from OneNote and, it's a draft. Draft... so there is room for revising... lots of room!

Distracted Sidenote: By the way, OneNote is a fantastic tool for collaborating!

Here are the Essential Questions...

Do students make meaningful connections between their classroom learning, their personal lives, and the world around them?

Do students see relationships and overlaps between multiple streams of information? Do the look for connections between disparate ideas?

Can students identify and harmonize and draw connections to seemingly unrelated and/or conflicting concepts and information? 

Do students understand the power and benefits of connections in the globally-connected 21st century?

Can students create meaningful networks using various digital tools and social platforms?  These networks may include learning networks, social networks, activism networks, etc.

Are students given the opportunity to connect beyond the classroom walls with other peers or experts who help to support this learning process? Are these learning interactions as valued as traditional views of how learning takes place?

Are schools bridging the disconnect between traditional learning models and the realities of the connected 21st century learner?

What metacognitive processes would students utilize when they assess their own work? Are students tracking progress through e-portfolios and connecting with other members in their learning network?

 Are students given opportunities to engage in dialogue about their learning with teachers, peers or other members of their learning network/networked community? Are students able to engage in diverse learning communities (which include face to face and digital, as well as inter-generational)?

Are students learning in networks to exchange knowledge, collect and curate stories and ideas , as well as engage in collective activities such as crowdsourcing (at a HS level)?

Are students provided digital spaces where students can engage with inter-generational experts who help to make up their learning community and helping to develop social relations in a safe and mediated way?

Here are the Goals for Student Knowledge...

To enrich understanding in an informational age, students should actively look to make connections between information, their personal lives, and the world around them.

Students know how to find common ground to connect seemingly conflicting concepts and information.

Student achievement is enhanced when their learning is reinforced and supported in multiple settings.  These settings can be online networks where resources and connected conversations are abundant and accessible.

In the right networks, students can find a sense of belonging and purpose through shared interests and passions that will support their growth. 

Valuable information can be accessed through connections outside the school walls and can significantly support learning.  These networks allow for unprecedented cross-generational and cross-cultural learning as well.

Students understand how to access and the value of connecting with multiple people face to face or digitally to help guide student inquiry. Connected learning promotes life-long learning and is an opportunity to contribute to the learning of others.

There are various digital tools and platforms to connect with others.  Students need to carefully consider which connections will enrich their lives.

Students engage in metacognitive processes and actively reflect on their learning and connect with teachers in a meaningful and timely exchange of feedback face to face or through digital networks.

Students understand how to engage with systems of informal learning in connected learning environments.

Here is the Scope and Sequence for K - 12, broken into grade groupings...

Elementary K-3
Knowledge & Skills

Middle Years 4-8
Knowledge & Skills
High School 9-12
Knowledge & Skills
Students make connections between information learned and connections to own personal experiences and other events in the community or around the world. 

Students understand that there are many places  where they can find information to their questions, which includes a variety of sources which include print, digital and interactions with people. They are able to identify and notice overlaps of information from sources.
Shares resources from outside the classroom to the activities of the classroom.
Students understand that there are people who can provide information to their questions. These individuals help to make up their learning community.
Students  engage and discuss learning experiences in settings which include at school, home and other communities of which they interact face to face or online through teacher mediation, making up the student's learning network.
Students actively engage in different forms of communication to reach out, connect to explore and share their questions and ideas with teacher digital support. Teachers would provide opportunities for whole class connection with other learning "experts".

-Students make connections between information learned from digital sources and connections to own personal experiences community or global connections.
Students understand that there are many places  where they can find information to their questions, which includes a variety of sources which include print, digital and interactions with people. Able to identify and notice overlaps of information, as well as identify reasons for differences.
Contribute online information and resources from outside into the activities of the classroom or learning community.
-Students engage and contribute to an online dialogue with several posts and comments with other students as part of a teacher-led task. 

Students  give and act on feedback from multiple perspectives in teacher created digital networks. Student incorporates ideas from network into own learning.
Students actively engage in different forms of communication to reach out and explore ideas from multiple diverse perspectives  with teacher mediation. Communication may be face to face or  teacher mediated digital connections with peers or other "experts" -  depending on student selection for learning project.
Students identify instances  and describe benefits of digital technologies being used for the creating and sharing of knowledge.
Students engage in dialogue about learning with teachers, peers or other members of their learning network in face to face as well as digital. Feedback is captured in digital form for student to act upon.
-Students independently develop their own personal learning network, based on the student identified learning needs, then develop meaning and co-construct new information or understandings, drawing on personal experiences, community or global connections. 
-Students understand the value of different types of information/media, (includes print, digital and digital interactions with people). Able to analyze reasons for informational overlaps from sources, as well as identify differences in information based on perspective and type of information.
Contribute online information and resources from outside into the activities of the classroom or online learning community. Able to work effectively within digital community, by identifying and responding to expectations or goals of community (such as timelines).
-Students engage and contribute to an online dialogue with multiple in-depth posts and comments with other students as part of a teacher-led task, with the goal being to co-constructing knowledge and new understandings.
-Students give and act on feedback from multiple perspectives in digital networks. Connecting with peers significantly shapes the student's learning which is evident by process and product. Student effectively incorporates comments from network community into learning.
-Students actively engage in different forms of communication to reach out and explore ideas from multiple diverse perspectives using social media platforms. Able to communicate voice or opinions appropriately as a member of the learning community.
Students identify instances  and describe benefits of digital technologies being used for the creating and sharing of knowledge as a means of exploring various perspectives and expertise.
-Student demonstrates the ability to use a variety of online contacts and social networks to find out information, and able to distinguish between different online communication tools for usefulness for enabling teamwork and collaboration.
Student participates in learning networks to exchange knowledge, collect and curate stories and ideas , as well as engage in collective activities such as crowdsourcing  as a means of making connections for student inquiry.
-Students connect with other learners by collaborating online, use social media to interact with peers around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn online back to their classrooms.

The areas highlighted in green are areas I'm unsure about. The yellow areas potentially should be designated to another "C". 

This week we will have the Scope and Sequence completed, then we start the fun stuff... building the website. To make our lives easier, we are going to create in Weebly, then transfer the HTML code from Weebly over to Drupal. This way we can get the benefits of drag and drop, as what is afforded in Weebly but not in the Drupal interface. Basically... our goal to make our site "pretty" may be realized. Yay!

Being that we hope to use these Essential Skills at a school division level, we're starting to feel a little pressure. We need feedback. We need our learning community. But... that's tough to ask when everyone is feeling the pinch of report cards, major projects and regular assignments. Really, I'm not complaining or trying not to... Anyways, if you have time to offer feedback, we would love some!