Major Project Part 1

I have worked with Prairie Valley School Division for 11 years now.  In that time, I have seen a number of changes take place technologically within our classrooms and across our division.  I currently teach grade 10 – 12 students and use technology in my classroom on a daily basis. This year, our graduating class will consist of ~ 60 graduates, this has been the norm for LHS for the past few years.  However, our incoming grade nines will be ~100, and this will be the small group for the next seven years.  Our projected numbers will rise quite a bit. Technology is important in the classroom, and ensuring that all have access to technology while in our school (we are a BYOT division) and beyond is essential for students to perform tasks, such as creating written works, communication, and experimenting in a virtual sandbox, but it also creates a portfolio of academic growth and data collection tool of metacognition.   

A probing discussion of the current state of things

I have chosen to discuss how my division prefers that students and staff use Office 365, however, this is not conducive for my students as they will lose all of their work the moment they graduate (see below).   I would like to see all grade 10-12 students transition over to Google Drive.

Entitlement  Students – As long as you are enrolled as a student in a Prairie Valley school you are entitled to use Office 365 on up to five devices. Office 365 checks into Microsoft periodically to verify you still have a valid account/license. If you are no longer enrolled or have graduated, Office 365 will no longer have a valid account/license and Office 365 will become unlicensed and will no longer work.

When you take a look at the Technology in Education Framework manual, page 2 lists sustainability as one of the guiding principals stating: “A technology-supported learning environment is strengthened by sound business and administrative practices, is sustainable in the long-term within available resources, evolves based on research and analysis of trends, and is supported by the Ministry, school divisions, and educational partners.” I question what is meant by long-term?  How long is long? How are our senior students being supported in the long term if their technology is being removed from them at graduation?

A brief SWOT analysis of the current situation (be sure to include attention to the negative side effects that could arise from the change you propose)

Strengths:  An internal strength of not allowing students in 10-12 to migrate over to Google Drive would be that all staff and students would remain on the same system and the division would continue to have control over one operating system.  This would be easier for the division to maintain. It would also be easier for those who would be training individuals on the preferred system as they would only need to learn Office 365.

Weaknesses:  As soon as students graduate or leave our division, the will immediately lose all of their work saved in the “cloud”.  If they aren’t reminded by their educators to pull off all of their work to a memory stick or transfer it to another cloud-based system it could be gone.  This could impact future application processes for post-secondary education if writing examples, etc. are required.

Opportunity:  Teaching students how to properly use a cloud-based program to access information from home or school, without the need for a memory stick will alleviate the “I forgot my memory stick at home” homework excuse.  By using Google Drive (and Google Classroom) – students can share assignments with their teachers from any device they have installed the app on. It is rare to see a high school student without their cell phone on them today, all of their school work can literally be in the palm of their hand.  By using Google Drive, they will be able to access work that they created years ago if needed. It is the student’s personal property.

Threat: Time to learn and understand two cloud-based systems can be taxing to school staff.  Some staff are intimidated by new technology and feel that there is always something new to learn.  Because of this, they may not want to use a system that is different from K-9. It will also take time to teach students who have never used Google Drive before.  This may take time away from curricular outcomes of an already compact course.

A rough proposal for changes you would like to implement.

I would like to create a proposal to introduce the idea of why PVSD needs to think about adopting Google Drive (including Google Classroom) as the primary cloud-based system for students in 10-12.  I would like to use my creative leadership skills and test drive this for a three-month window in three of my classes (Biology 30, Environmental Science 20, Wildlife Management 20/30). At the succession of the three-month window, I would gather a qualitative narrative among the students and take the data to the administration.  From there I would like to speak to our school superintendents about allowing this change to be implemented if the narrative from the students is positive. My division will also want quantitative data – this will need to be collected in terms of the number of articles that the students have created in their Google Drives and those that I have implemented in their Google Classroom.

A brief rationale for why you wish to embark on this change.

My rationale behind wanting students in 10-12 to transfer over to Google Drive or the G Suite is simply because they will lose their Office 365 account the moment that they graduate, this means that they will then lose their entire learning portfolio.  It seems backward to me that we encourage students to use a cloud mechanism that is then going to dump everything the moment they are out of our system because they no longer have access to their school account. I am also very interested to see how Google Classroom/Drive can help enhance my own leadership skills.

Forms of technology that I use and are linked to my Google Classroom/Drive for students to access and save into their Google Drives include (but are not limited to):

CooperScience – My school blog – this is updated every day or two depending on the hecticness of the day.  It is the goto place for my students to head to when they are missing from school – or if they want to re-watch a video, find important information, etc…  This is the first place that any of my students go to when they have questions, most of the time, they will find the answers here. It’s also a place for parents to get information on what we have been doing and where we are heading in class.  I continually update the home page of my blog with hyperlinks of great online tools for my students to use to help them create their assignments and assessments with. Anything that I am keeping in my Google Classroom is linked to CooperScience – the students have the code to access the classroom – it is my security wall so that my content isn’t spread about from students of one class to students of another class (no cheating ).

Flippity – One of the best websites for creating the “Wheel of Death” as Dr. Alec Couros would put it.  It has the capability to create random groups/teams in the click of a button.  I create a spreadsheet at the start of the semester for each class and it is ready to go!  There are also some games that you can create such as Hangman and Jeopardy. This program works off of Google Sheets.  The students like to create flashcards with flippity (similar to Quizlet).  

iMovie – we make a lot of videos in my classes.  I prefer to have my students vlog their major projects rather than write a report about them.  This is something that I have just changed my view on. I know that there is a large push on numeracy and literacy in the classroom, however, as a science teacher, I can see their thinking and how they have modified their projects better in a vlog than in a written piece.  The students explain in a scientifically literate manner why they have modified their projects, etc… within the vlog. For my class, it just works. If a student doesn’t have an iPhone, Movie Maker works just as well, but I have found that most just use their iPhones and edit the vlogs right within the iMovie app.  The students upload their videos to their Drive and share them with me – it’s easy PLUS they keep a copy of their work.

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Unit 4: Image #2 – The Evolving Look of Today’s Classrooms

 

This week’s lesson clicked, literally.  I was feeling a bit underwhelmed by the course, unsure if it was the right fit for me.  I agree with Dylan, I felt refreshed by the format of the lesson.  Then we listened to the podcasts/videos from Bart Cote and Guy Tetrault and it confirmed that I am in the right course, that I do have something to contribute and that I can expand my learning!  I felt as though I fit in with the pedagogy that these two gentlemen have set out for their divisions.  I felt as I was not alone on a lost island, being the only person to think this way, and want the same things as these gentlemen do.

As a mature undergrad student, I felt that the way I was being taught to teach was outdated – there was a better way to reach kids.  I had been an educational assistant for a long time before embarking on my journey to becoming an educator.  I also had children of my own – and had an idea of the type of teacher I wanted to be – I wanted to teach every student in the manner that I would want my own son’s taught.  Entering into M.Ed, I met professors that I connected with.  Alec Couros has had a profound impact on my education pathway.  Throughout his courses, he and Katia have led me towards an evolution of the classroom ecosystems that I have built.  Marc Spooner taught me that being creative could happen in many forms and that students could excel once they were allowed to explore their own learning styles.

connected classroom

This week, I connected with Bart Cote and Regina Catholic School Divisions ideology of technological leaders.  The connections that he was speaking about to those that I employ with my student’s as deep learners lined up perfectly, as it should because it is by Michael Fullan.

I really appreciated the SAMR model, although I have had the opportunity to explore it in the past, Bart’s explanation of not always staying in the deep end or you will drown hit home.  Today in our classrooms, teachers are asked to perform so many tasks while staying on top of ever-evolving technology.  Some will dive right in and begin to drown – overwhelmed by trying to stay afloat, while others won’t even dip their toes in.  I like the idea of diving deep in some areas while having the luxury to swim back to shore when needed.   The graphic below is a one that I found to be nice to share with colleagues who are attempting to integrate technology into their classrooms, in either a blended learning style or just wanting to try something different.

Image result for SAMR

If you are a G-Suite use the below image is very user friendly:

Image result for SAMR

Getting kids back into the  Sandbox is what I believe is important in education.  If we are not engaging our students in their learning outcomes, what type of education are they gaining?  Are they being educated?  This simply cannot be done alone, Guy Terrault spoke about Stealing out, stealing up, 21st-century skills must be modeled by teachers in order to be effectively carried out by our students.  the “stealing out, stealing up” idea models creativity and innovation.   But I wonder if the SunWest School Division’s model doesn’t fit more like the image below.  And, how many of us are already doing this in our classrooms without realizing it?  After all, aren’t you already considered a risk taker if you are incorporating some type of student-led technology in your classroom?

Image result for 21st century skills

Unit 3: To Google, or Not to Google, That is THE Question!

Technology is all around us, there is no escaping it.  Our students are digital natives, while we are digital immigrants.  Heck, some of them (and maybe some of you) were even born with the aid of technology.  Technology is a wonderful thing.  Or is it???  Just as with organisms on Earth, technology is in a constant state of evolution.  I really like the video even though it is 4 years old, it shows the progression of technology, but it also asks who is in control?  The technology or the user of the technology?

In our school division, we are asked to use Office 365 and all the goodies that come along with it.  All of our students are asked to use it, teachers communicate and set up classes with it, etc…  Division office staff use it, we use Office Teams, for file sharing, and collaborations.

Dramatis Personae – In this case, all of the individuals who fall within our school division who use Office 365 in any capacity are considered Dramatis Personae.  While Office 365 is considered one of the top software companies, I wonder if it is the best one for our high school students.  Let me explain below.

Props – In our division, this would include mainly laptops for our students, or their cell phones (but I am thinking this would be mainly just for their school email accounts).  Staff would have access to division issued laptops, if you are an administrator this may also include a cell phone.

Scene – Anywhere and everywhere in our school division.  All individuals have access to Office 365 within any area of the school or division be it in a classroom, hallway, another school, division office, or even at home WHILE THEY ARE AN INDIVIDUAL IN OUR DIVISION.

Conflict – The scene is setting the stage for the conflict, and hence my major project.  I teach only students in grades 10-12.  Once you are no longer an individual in our school division you lose access to all of the documentation you have kept within your Office 365 cloud.  This means that the moment our graduates step across the stage, their digital learning portfolio has vanished.  And unless someone (a teacher who understands what is about to happen) informs them that all of their work they have created will disappear unless they put it on a thumb drive.  I would like to see our high school students begin to use Google Classroom – which is also allowed in our school division but not maintained or supported, simply because the students will not lose their digital learning portfolios.  As educators, we can also help them learn how to use Google Classroom, plus all of the other Google Drive apps that are offered before they enter post-secondary education or the workforce.  I have asked some recent graduates what interface they use – Office 365 or Google Drive – they tell me they use Google Drive.

This is where the conflict lies.  Do we support what the division wants, or what is best for the students in the long run?  What would you do?