Unit 6- International Level

I am a book nut so this seems like the perfect opportunity to plug a book.

This past summer I had the opportunity to read this book as part of our Connected Educator Professional Development Program with Regina Catholic. If you haven’t had the chance it is a must read!!! Not only am I a teacher, but my husband and I also own a technology company. One of the biggest needs we see in the field is skilled workers who are also empowered learners. This book is a great guide to using technology to empower learners and I have started implementing some of these strategies in my classroom and am seeing results in my students. We have also implemented some of these strategies in our business in regards to our technician training program. Technology is driving change faster than any curriculum could ever keep up. Being able to change and adapt is essential. Allowing students/staff flexible time to “Wonder”- time to research anything on the topic of choice that they are interested in- seems like a waste of time right? Just think how off topic they could get? Free reign is scary??? Well I took a chance. We are currently in a religion unit on Saints. I gave my students 30 minutes to research anything they wanted about Saints… little scary at first allowing the freedom. I had one student, who generally struggles to be engaged in religion, research the the New Orleans Saints- seems off topic right? Funny thing is this student came back telling me all about the origin of the team name- team introduced Nov. 1 (All saints day in Catholic faith) and huge french Catholic population in New Orleans which is often depicted by many french saints in their logo of the fleur-de-lis and much more. BINGO!!! Engagement level achieved. This student decided to in the end research Joan of Arc as she was a french saint that is actually a pretty big deal in New Orleans. Rather than fighting his way through the project he found direction and inspiration.

This book does a great job of helping teachers integrate technology in classrooms in a meaningful and engaging way that empowers learners to take ownership of their own learning. A must read for anyone looking to implement technology into their classroom.

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Unit 5: Provincial Level/Final Project

This reading fits perfectly with my final project for the course. As a teacher in a fully connected classroom, one of the biggest challenges I face is push back from parents that seems to stem from fear; the fear of their children being hurt in the digital world. In my opinion this is partially because our students are growing up in a generation in which their technological experience is very different from that of their parent’s childhood. As a parent myself to a teenager, I can fully understand this fear. As a teenager I made my share of mistakes- took my hand at swearing around my friends, telling jokes that pushed the limits, etc. I luckily didn’t have anyone recording me and my mistakes were made with only a small group of people watching me. In today’s generation, mistakes are made in a much more public way. This can cause a lot of fear for parents- I have also experienced this. For all of you with young children…. it’s coming!!!! lol.

There is somewhat of a generational gap in regards to technology. I feel pretty lucky that my career path allows me to continue to be on the front line of adolescent development. By being on the front line it allows me learning experiences as to digital citizenship in a different way then that of the general public. Many parents of my students have expressed a frustration as to the lack of direction or knowledge of how to parent in the digital age. This frustration sometimes leads to fear…. “if I don’t understand it scares me….if it is scary I should avoid it”. For my final project I am hoping to begin to tackle this educational piece for parents- partly to decrease fear partially to assist parents in modelling digital citizenship. Now to say I have all the digital parenting answers…that is laughable. Parenting is hard!!! I do however feel that as an educator, not only is it my responsibility to educate students but also to allow for opportunities for parents to learn as well. By providing parents with tools to assist their children in the digital age we are providing opportunities for parents to become more engaged. Parental engagement and learning is essential in guiding our youth. This document is a great start for students….now lets see educational pieces for the everyday parent!

Final Project Blog #3- Privacy and Transparency

Soapbox speech…watch out. So it seems the world wants teachers to ensure student “privacy” yet maintain professional “transparency” all at once. How can we separate the profession from the student? I feel a push from our STF and our School Division as they want to see the work we are doing in the classrooms to share with other professionals, share with parents as to the learning, and share with society what the role of a teacher looks like in 2019. Technology such as classroom blogs, online portfolios, websites, and twitter all provide a window into the learning environment. While looking at the RCSD user agreement to work on my final project piece, it is apparent that much of the policy is to protect privacy rights and uphold privacy law. Student privacy in education is essential, especially as we are working with youth that are vulnerable in many ways. In RCSD, parents sign an agreement to allow their children to have their picture taken and allow for these pictures to be used within the school division. Some parents sign in agreement, some wish to not allow pictures; both of which is totally within their rights as a parent. Now here is where I struggle, I sometimes feel stuck between privacy and transparency. I see where parents want this window to their child’s learning and also see the push for transparency in the profession- how can we do both while maintaining ABSOLUTE privacy. On some occasions I have blurred out a child’s image to ensure that privacy is met as requested by a parent, only to hear that I have pointed out their child by doing so. Next logical step ( I thought), adjust and take a picture in which the child is not in view at all in the picture, well now the parent is upset as the child has been excluded all together. When I speak to the parent about the policy they signed and ask if they would like to change to allow for pictures the response is “NO”. I am stuck. Possibly with the parent educational piece I am creating for my final project I will be able to alleviate some of the fear associated with sharing and hopefully begin to assist parents in understanding the policy better to make an informed decision.

Final Project Blog #2- Can the platform make or break the project?

So in my final project I will be exploring the Technology User Agreement from a Parental Perspective. I will be looking at a way to engage parents in a lesson to educate regarding technology use in the classroom and ways to develop strong digital citizens. That seems pretty straight forward, till I start to look at selecting the platform in which I want to present information. Here is my conundrum:

Do I use technology to educate parents about technology? How can I guarantee that all parents have access to technology to learn about technology? How do I ensure that all parents have the skill level to use technology to learn about technology?

I think I need to move forward using a technology platform to deliver my information as that is the way the division seems to be moving but I think I also must be prepared to also deliver this information in an alternative way to provide for those who do not have access. Does anyone have a great platform they suggest that allows for custom built lesson designs that also seamlessly integrates links and questionnaires? Looking for something that is mobile friendly as well. I’ll continue to explore but hoping someone has some advice for a gal stepping out of her comfort zone.

Unit 4: School Division/Alliance Level

Well I have to start with….if you haven’t read this book yet, it is a MUST! I love, love, love this chart. I think back to my experience as a kid in school- thinking way back- the things that had the most impact on my learning all came from making connections. The best memories still fit into this chart but the method for implementing them was different and I was somewhat limited to only reach out to our local community. We now have the ability to reach not only to our community but to the world to make connections that would never before be able to do so. Just last week in my classroom I was able to connect our Grade 6 students through the Pullitzer Center with award winning photojournalist Neeta Satam to discuss her research on Global warming, power, and privilege. The meeting was beyond amazing and my students were engaged and inspired in their learning to drive change. This was a learning experience that pushed the limits of “traditional” education to create something much more powerful. If you want to take a look at out meeting or have any questions about how to connect through the Pullitzer Center absolutely reach out https://youtu.be/xDufKzwdbLM. When we educate our students in ways that allow them to form relationships we are creating the leaders of tomorrow.

Final Project Blog #1- Brain overload

I have decided along with 2 other members of this class to assess our Regina Catholic School Division User Agreement to assess its validity and areas in which it can be improved. Each of us are looking at different stake holders and their experience with the user agreement along with ways to provide a better experience and understanding. For this project I will be focusing on the parental perspective.

As a Connected Educator in Regina Catholic, my students are using technology on a daily basis to enhance their learning. Many parents have fear about their children entering a technological world- whether it be due to safety/security or a fear that other skills will be lost- ie. spelling and penmanship. It is my goal to create an educational piece to educate parents as to:

  • The school division user agreement and how each component relates to their child
  • The policy and procedures that are developed in Regina Catholic to maintain safety when using technology platforms
  • Ensure that curriculum is still at the forefront of their children’s education with technology being leveraged to enhance the experience and learning

Not going to lie, at this point I have a million more questions than answers and I feel as though my brain may melt out of my ears from overheating. How do I meet the needs of parents who all come to the user agreement from a different perspective and understanding? How do I best reach out to parents to make the largest impact?

Unit 3: School Level

This week’s readings reaffirmed in many ways how grateful I am for the Connected Educator program that I am able to be part of in the Regina Catholic School Division. In this program I am not only provided with technology infrastructure (1:1 classroom laptops), funding, and support but also I am part of an in depth professional development program. In regards to the the “play”, I have some pretty great working parts to create something rather spectacular and the creative freedom to do so.

This week I want discuss my current plot conflict- the parent push back. In my experience this parent push back seems to be driven by two types of fear:

  1. Fear of exposure: Many parents seem to react to technology with fear. The world can be a scary place, and by allowing children technology they fear as to what they will experience or view in this world, or the choices they may make that will have a negative impact on their digital footprint. I so often hear this fear drive conversations that talk about all the “do not’s” to maintain safety but rarely are the conversations surrounded by thoughts of how technology can be used to change for the good or to inspire.
  2. Fear of change: This fear is expressed as an uncertainty of an education that looks different than the one parents received. I am faced with questions such as “how will my child learn to spell if they are using a device?” Parents did not grow up with technology at their fingertips therefor the unknown of how students will learn to spell without those 10 spelling words on a piece of paper each week to memorize is terrifying. In reality, did I really learn to spell from those 10 words written in my agenda? And how often do you really need to spell the word “pneumonia” that it needs to be on that list?

My project this term will be focusing on creating an educational program that will assist parents in understanding the Regina Catholic Connected Educator Program and to assist in educating students as to the benefits of technology. I will also discuss the policy put in place in attempt to negate the “side effects”. I feel as though parents are a huge part of the educational journey. If we are able to engage parents and students together in the educational journey we will in turn develop deeper learning. Technology will not replace all tasks, nor should it. It can however be used to connect students in positive ways to the world while teaching them to be positive digital citizens in this ever evolving world and assist in bringing curriculum to life.