Course 3 Final Project

Throughout this course, I have been inspired greatly from other students in this class; namely @mschristymartin and @catejarvis.  Because of a post by Christy, I updated my COETAIL website to look more clean and also added a ‘profile widget’ to my site. As for Cate, she gave me the inspiration and images/slide designs to create a more visual presentation.

In this process, I also created a playlist on my YouTube channel that organizes all of my screencasts for WordPress tutorials – especially made for teachers at my school.

Below is a screencast of this final project as well as the examples of the two presentations.

Screencast of final project:

First Presentation Attempt – September 2014

Second Presentation Attempt – New and Improved – October 2015

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Promises, promises…

I was promised a 15-minute time frame if I created an infographic from a template in a program called Piktograph… flash forward an hour and a half and I was still fiddling with the creation of my first infographic. With that said, I found the process easy in the sense that the template was user-friendly but also difficult because there were so many choices.

Check out my infographic here (I tried to embed this into my blog, but only the code showed up so hyperlink was the best I could do).

While creating this infographic, ‘keep it simple’ kept running through my mind. Because there are so many choices, I can see where it is easy to get lost in the icons, colors, and fonts. I relied on the template to help me manage my choices but also taking some chances after looking at some other designs.

I am giving a presentation this week regarding safety tips for parents. Although more parents are switched on and using technology, there still seem to be many that feel overwhelmed by the social media landscape. Last year, I did a simple survey with students (find the blog post here) about how fifth and sixth grade students were spending their time online. I broke the data down into percentages so each child could get an overall picture. This is the information I used to create the infographic.

It is interesting because last year, I just used Numbers to create a bar graph and quite honestly, it is really boring to look at now that I have created an infographic! I put the two examples below to really see the difference: 


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 16.35.12

New and Improved:

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Visual imagery has the ability to generate interest and hold the attention of an audience. It reminds me of what Jeff pointed out when searching for Creative Commons images when putting together a presentation… it takes time. I guess anything worth doing is worth doing well.

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A little late, however…

Finally, I watched ‘Presentation Zen’ – albeit a bit late but the timing was perfect. I am set to give a presentation to parents about keeping students safe online and I just wasn’t interested in my typical presentation. I have decided that this will be my final project. I will compare the one I gave last year to parents to the one I am giving this year. I love when the projects correspond to my work life. It is so much more meaningful and engaging.

By watching ‘Presentation Zen’ and Jeff’s video, I came up with a road map to help me get started:
1)  What is the story? What is the core message? Keeping your child safe online.
2) Why should the audience care? Kid are connected 24/7. The internet is wonderful but there are also many pitfalls to watch out for.
3) Per Jeff, writing out each idea for each slide; before worrying about the image
4) Make ideas STICKY through S.U.C.C.E.S.
5) Keeping in mind, empty space is okay, reduce the noise, and simplicity is key
6) Keep core message in mind (stay on-task)
7) Find images that tell the story of the slide
8) Edit and Restrain
9) Edit and Restrain
10) Edit and Restrain

(I must admit, I am also going to refer to the presentation @catejarvis created for her parent workshop – see blog post here. It’s worth a read.)

At my school, we are trying to get teachers on board with using videos not only for their own instruction but also to encourage students to use video within their own projects. However, forgetting or simply not understanding the planning, the storyboarding, finding of the images, and perhaps some music; some teachers try to cram making the final video project into a one hour time slot or maybe two. They then get frustrated and end up ‘revising’ the task or doing away with it all together. It can turn them and students against making videos.

As a result, we are going to give teachers a video making task at our next faculty meeting. We are going to set strict parameters, guidelines, and provide teachers with what they need to be successful, but we will only give them an hour to create and publish it. Actually, there will be a couple of workshops happening, but that is the one that I am leading. The hope is that teachers will walk away with a renewed appreciation for the time intensive task creating a video can be but also the potential that videos have.

With that in mind, I tasked myself with creating a video from a road trip I just took using some of the techniques I have been reading about in this course. Although this could have been my final assignment, I decided to use it not only to review my iMovie skills but to remember to have empathy for those who are just learning how to create videos using iMovie. It was very difficult to condense a five-day road trip into a five and a half minute video, but this is what I came up with:

Let’s hold teachers to the same high standards that we hold students and give them the tools to reach them.

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I Was So Wrong

When I read this week’s assignment, I was very pleased to say the least. All of the readings regarding visual literacy has my mind spinning.

For anyone who has been a teacher or presented to teachers, it is understood that teachers can be the worst students. From the detailed, individual accounts that can kill the timing of any presentation, to the learned helplessness, or the teacher with their laptop open working on answering emails, engaging teachers in a presentation is an art form. One I am just beginning to master.

To be fair, as with anyone who works in a school can understand, time is always a factor. To create an engaging presentation takes time and much thought. And to be fair, time is normally in short supply. However, we keep trying.

Within the spirit of modeling new platforms, I recently needed to give a presentation to help teachers get their class websites up and running so I decided to use Padlet:

Based upon the week’s schedule, I had to get a lot of information to teachers quickly (again, the time factor, especially at the beginning of the year) and with a tool that teachers could refer back to when needed – something like a flipped classroom. I thought this would be more a working presentation (many of the teachers have been using this tool for 3 years) whereupon teachers could look at the Padlet, find the information/help and watch the videos or ask another teacher, while I helped the new teachers or teachers who weren’t familiar with WordPress.

However, what I found is that teachers were confused by the amount of information on the Padlet and were not risk-takers when it came to using the Padlet. My assumptions were completely wrong about my audience. I would love to blame the teachers, and maybe I can a little, but really, this one was on me.

In hindsight, I think a simple Google Slides presentation with each slide being a tutorial or information source, would have been more effective and less overwhelming for the teachers. With the pressure of the first day approaching, the comfort of a familiar presentation would have been better suited. So for instance, the layout would have looked something like this:

Slide One: Purpose and Audience (with an image)
Slide Two: Expectations (with an image)
Slide Three: Logging in and URL address (with an image)
Slide Four: How to Create a Password Protected page (with the embedded video)
etc, etc, etc. 

So as I continue to create more and more presentations, I am learning that knowing and understanding your audience whilst respecting where they are at with time and skills cannot be ignored. Because no matter how much I would love to blame the teacher, it doesn’t help anyone and quite simply, I would be wrong. As with any presentation, knowing your audience is key and next time, I will try not to make any assumptions.


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Rubrics for Visual Literacy

When I read Week 2’s assignment (design and layout/audience and purpose) and Cate’s comment regarding the students not transferring the skills across subjects, I find the same thing happens with students at my school. Many students are simply not applying the skills with design and layout/audience and purpose within their student blogs or their presentations.

I subscribe to a site called Free Technology for Teachers and if you haven’t subscribed already, please do so right away. Recently, I found a helpful article on this site: ‘4 Ways Visual Literacy is Being Taught in Classrooms to Empower Learning’. Within this article by Richard Byrne, he asks teachers to begin to model effective visual literacy including suggestions on what tools teachers can use to help achieve this purpose.

At my school, we would like teachers to also understand more about visual literacy. Within my own presentations to teachers and students, I also need to model the new tools which I would say I do about 40% of the time. I should be doing this much more.

As a result, as a school, we have looked at this situation and believe that creating guidelines through rubrics might help students and teachers begin to think about these important skills. Within these rubrics, students will be asked to assess themselves or another student, or the teacher will assess. 

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To begin with our rough drafts, we are using Forms so students can rate themselves on a scale and we can then organize the data but student, by grade level, etc.

Our intention is to outline the specific skills we want to students to understand about blogs and how to use blogs effectively:
–Understands the difference between a Page and a Category.
–Adds and organizes Pages and Categories to the Menu Structure, including sub items.

We are also outlining how to think about the user interface:
–Font, graphics, colors, multimedia, formatting encourage understanding and are appropriate for the intended audience.
–Multimedia relates to the Post or Page subject and enhances learning and understanding.

Additionally, we include the idea of community:
–Comments add value to the discussion and it is clear the student read the post thoroughly.
–Demonstrates and practices safe, legal, and responsible use of information.

The rubrics are intended to be used as tools to help students become more self directed and in charge of their own learning as they will know the expectations. It will also help teachers see what is expected of the students and hopefully, these teachers will up their game as well.

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Aesthetically Pleasing

In an effort of drive traffic and modernize our image, we recently updated the look of the class sites in our primary school. So in an attempt to use visual literacy, I decided to create a video that demonstrates a ‘web-based resource you use with students to make it more aesthetically appealing’ – the class website:

On that same note, we made the decision last year to bring more videos into the classroom. It just seemed like a natural progression as students are blogging and reflecting more and more. We received a small budget to purchase some video equipment and as a result, I was asked to explain how video in the classroom improves student learning. So I made this video to help make my case:

Visual literacy, as the this week’s reading suggests, is an essential skill for students and if done well, can only help to improve student learning.


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Search Operators

While scanning through my Twitter feed, I ran across a tweet from Dave Caleb (@davecaleb) regarding how to effectively search your Gmail and Google Drive, including search operators. Please check out the video below if you have a moment – looks promising:

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‘Acceptable’ Final Course 2 Project

IMG_4558When Jocelyn Sutherland emailed me about working together on the final project, I was very happy. First of all, I didn’t have to look for a partner (I can be pretty lazy sometimes) and secondly, she wanted to work on her school’s Acceptable Use Policy. Woo hoo! This was something that my school has been grappling with for a while.

During my first year at my school as a Grade 5 teacher, there was no Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in regards to students. It wasn’t until towards the end of the year that we were handed this monster of an AUP:

Original AUP

There was no explanation, no fanfare, and no follow up. If I remember correctly, I had a few students in my class that didn’t even turn it in. My second year here was a bit better. The same AUP was given to students at the beginning of the year but there were also some digital citizenship sessions but it was mainly focused on cyberbullying, not the positive aspects of being online. And to be fair, I think that is where we IMG_3611were as a school.

So when I became the Tech Integrator this year, I knew the first order of business was to create an AUP that was more ‘kid-friendly’ for students in grades 3-5. I decided to make this one page only. Below is what I came up with and what the students and parents signed:

201415 AUP

However, like a flashing beacon on a foggy night, with the second course of COETAIL I quickly realized that my AUP was incomplete –  I was missing citing and attributing sources of information. It is just too easy for faculty and students to Google search and image and drag and drop into a presentatScreen Shot 2015-05-13 at 08.47.27ion. I began talking to students and teachers about this towards the middle of the year and found a lot of hesitation on both sides. I wonder if it is because it just takes extra time and that as in institution we are not in the habit of doing this – it’s not in the school culture… yet.  I have already discussed or EasyBib with sixth grade students. One sixth grade teacher even put the Photos for Class widget on her class site.

So overall, I have my work cut out for me next year.  And it is why I added a bullet point on the AUP for next year:

  • Giving credit to sources of information, videos, photos, etc. that I use for educational purposes.

I will also include a day within our Digital Citizenship week dedicated towards Creative Commons and the importance of giving credit where credit is due. One area that Jocelyn brought up was having the teachers sign their own AUP (you will see this below in the embedded Google Doc). What a fabulous idea! Why not hold the teachers and administrators to the same standard that we hold students? So based upon the second course and my work with Jocelyn, I have updated my school’s primary AUP.

201516 AUP

As a side note, there has been a small, but loud voice regarding privacy and the AUP. It seems that grade 6 students and some parents are not comfortable with this paragraph:

In cases where there are concerns that electronic communications systems and/or technology are being used inappropriately, teachers, school administrators, and parents / guardians may restrict and/or monitor student use. Similarly, student use of the school network is monitored.

One response from student on a school wide survey that summarizes how a few students feel about the school’s ability to monitor student activity. Next year, it will be important to stress the why’s of monitoring student accounts.

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Overall, this course has been very beneficial to help me with my school’s AUP and to help me become serious about proper attribution. Please see the Google Doc below for the final Responsible Use Policy that Joceylyn and I created.

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With the end of the year fast approaching I find myself struggling to keep afloat and sometimes, just decompress. And if I am being honest, I just haven’t boarded the podcast train – on the to-do list, but always pushed back. But as it happens, podcasts have taken center stage at my job so I thought this would be a good chance to see what these are all about. I listened to the ‘Where There’s Fire‘ about communities  So happy I did!

As I was listening to this podcast, the idea of community really began to take shape in my head. I found myself listening to this podcast several times and I connected to a couple of messages personally – particularly about the ebb and flow of communities – to understand them as living organisms. And I realized that personally, I have not taken advantage of all of the communities that are available to me.

Within this podcast, Jeff Utecht spoke about how, in this day and age, to always try to think of ourselves as beginners. As educators, how much fun and engaging would classrooms be if we all had this mindset?

But what really struck me as far as messages go, was the idea that communities allow us to see ourselves through the eyes of the community. I had never thought of this way, but this just struck me as gospel. Growing up, I was able to do this with sports. I was able to see myself through my competitors’ and teammates’ eyes. I saw myself as a strong, fierce, and smart competitor. I was formidable. However, I never saw myself like this as a student. I never felt the way I did on the field – prepared, successful, cooperative, free and happy – as I did in the classroom. I knew my teammates and I could count on each other, that we all brought different strengths to the game. In the classroom, there were usually a few students who stood out. The rest tended to fade into the background.

With communities and helping students to develop and understand them, we are giving students a chance to see themselves through others’ eyes. How powerful. Think of the student who is quiet all year, or the student who is constantly off-task. By knocking down the school walls, where would that freedom take them? Why not give all students the chance to shine and see themselves through a community’s eyes… one that they feel connected to?

After reading Randi’s post and looking at all of the amazing work she is doing at her school, it inspired me to look at the communities that are taking shape in my school.  For instance, the early years program at my school, we began the year using Easy Blog Jr as a means to help teachers post to class sites more easily. What happened next was remarkable.

This tool took on a life of its own as students as young as 3 and 4 were making decisions about what they wanted to post. The class site became a community of learning. Students were extending the learning home, parents were sending in videos and the class were on this learning. Parents and family members also began commenting on student pages which were then discussed in class. Teachers used the counter widget to look at where in the world the comments were coming from. Students saw themselves outside of the classroom and as part of the larger online community of parents and family friends. It was truly exciting. Below is a video of a Early Years 5 student sharing her recycling project that she worked on during vacation based on a Sharing the Planet Unit:

For me personally, communities is something I would like to explore and participate in to find inspiration and to be inspired. Not just for work but for my personal life as well. Like Randi said in her post, I need to blaze the trail so I can in turn empower students.

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Familiarity Does Not Equal Mastery

Students may be more familiar with going online, but I do not think this makes them experts in terms of knowing how to be responsible online. As my school becomes more 1:1 (laptops and tablets) and with several cyberbullying incidents this year alone, the need for talking about and discussing the digital citizenship has begun to take center stage.

From this, I began to take a look at the idea of digital citizenship and how it needed to become part of the school culture; not just signing a responsible use agreement to follow with several lessons that may or may not be connected with lessons that were happening in the classroom. So beginning next year, I am going to work with our secondary tech integration person and create a digital citizenship week. I got the idea from Kim Cofino when I saw this blog post. This has been a fantastic resource for me (thank you Kim!). And so I have begun to create a rough draft in Google Docs (see below) to get approval from my administration for next year. I am still working on how to get the parents more involved with this as well. I did send home a survey to fifth and sixth grade parents recently in the hopes of starting up conversations at home regarding managing screen time. I hope to continue this conversation next year in conjunction with the Digital Citizenship Week.

Because we had several incidents this year with regarding not so appropriate online behavior, I thought it might be a good idea to talk to student about balance. I thought that it would be a good idea to get students to see how much time they spend with digital devices/online. At the end of this, students had a clear percentage about how much time they spend online daily. The results were a little surprising but not shocking. I was surprised at how many students watch youtube. I even wrote an article that was published in the school weekly newsletter so if you have a moment, please check it out. Below are some graphs of the results of student feedback:

The area that I believe I need to explore more in depth is copyright. I began to touch on it this year with the introduction of (Creative Commons, school safe, attributed photos) and EasyBib (citing sources). However, my first hurdle is going to get teachers to make this a part of their teaching.

I know that many teachers touch on this subject, but I believe the message can get lost and I am not sure how much the teachers are really checking for citations. Again, this goes back to school culture. I believe it’s just a matter of discussing with teachers, giving them the right tools at the right time. I could give 100 lessons on this as the tech integrator but the teacher is in with them everyday, modeling the desired habits and behaviors.

As you will see below, there are some resources that I received from Rory Newcomb’s presentation at Edtechist, ‘Social Media in the Classroom – If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’: Communicating in the Language of our Students’.

Social Media Resources:
How to use social media as a learning tool
Six social-media skills every leader needs
Teachers Guide to Using Twitter in the Classroom
Social media etiquette for students and teachers

Google Doc for Digital Citizenship Week (work in progress)

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