Major Project – Finally done and submitted

Yup,  that’s about how I feel, Comfortably Numb!  I have submitted my final project, commented the required amount of times (although I will keep reading blogs and probably commenting until Thursday because I like to read your thoughts and progress).  I have enjoyed the journey this semester of looking at Google Drive as an ePortfolio platform that can assist students in grades 10-12 as they transition to post-secondary institutions.  What I have taken from my research is really this…my research has only just begun, there is so much more to look at and I need more time to collect data from students who graduate this semester.  I think this may have been the purpose of the assignment from Stephen and Kristen – to become curious about something and work towards change, even if it wasn’t able to be achieved within the amount of time that was allowed during the semester. I was not able to write a policy for the change I wanted to implement, the tools are available to allow this process to take place already, it is just convincing the division that this is the better method to choose.  BUT until I have more data collected, I do not feel that I am able to present a case that will be looked at seriously.  I will keep on collecting data and sharing it with my division (who are very open to this pathway of technology use).  Hopefully, I will be the change I wish to see sooner rather than later.  But I have a positive feeling from conversations with my IT department that it may not be too far off!

Ciao!

Unit 6: World Wide Technology Leadership

Before beginning this blog, I wanted to peek at my classmate’s blogs to see who/what they have picked as a positive note to end on.  I have a feeling that my positive may be a bit different, but it is a direction that I am headed in for the fall and have already begun moving towards by procuring equipment, etc.

I found Krista’s post extremely well representative of my views regarding the iPad roll in L.A. and how “unplanned” it was.  I found myself shaking my head at the county not thinking that their students could not bypass the security systems they have set out – come on – you are have just handed these out to high school students who are digital natives!  The programs to block all unwanted materials viewed were not developed by digital natives, rather digital immigrants.  A native is going to find their way around the system much, much faster.  I also wondered why YouTube???  But, I can understand why we just use it for so much currently like uploading vlogs, etc… that my students have created during PBL and Innovative Deeper learning.

Going back to my first paragraph, I am a big proponent of Virtual Reality in the classroom.  This could be because of the subject I teach – it really lends itself well to science at all levels.  I found Scott’s and Adam’s blogs to be quite interesting as they showcased all levels of VR that can be used in the classroom.  I will let you pop over to their sites to read about the difference between each as there is no sense in re-writing what has already been done so well.

Instead, I will focus on the benefits of VR in the classroom and explain the experience that led me to bring this into my class.  However, I am only one teacher, and I feel that many teachers could benefit from the use of VR in their classrooms.  Ashley McCann elaborated on how the immersive nature of virtual reality can enhance our students learning.

I believe that there is a place in education for gamification and that VR can help bring together problem-solving, deeper learning and gamification into one package while allowing students to be curious.  Using a game based system can give students who need immediate feedback to keep them on track engaged (such as earning badges, etc…).   It also has the ability to take students places that we would never, as educators are able to take them by opening up the world to digital field trips or investigations that would be too costly to explore or simply unavailable such as layers of the body systems.

I have had the experience of using VR at the University of Saskatoon during Science on Stage Canada, 2018.  I met Dr. Sean Maw who is a professor at the College of Engineering.  He is using VR in one of his first year engineering classes to have his students build a bridge that will be able to handle a truck carrying a force across it (you can increase the weight of your truck the more confident you are – Newtons).  I was so captivated by this experience that I visited Innovation Place in September to discuss the possibility of bringing this technology into my classroom – but to use it in a bit of a different way.  Besides being able to build bridges, etc… I want my students to build the chassis of a car and then have another program (not developed yet) send the design to our 3D printers.  The idea is that the students can build, test and walk around their cars first before during the creative process, then send it to be physically built, tested, and ran against others.  I have begun to collect equipment, we will see how long it takes my dream to become a reality.  I have a number of students who would benefit greatly from this and I feel that it would level the playing field in my room, meaning that inclusivity may be achieved through the use of this tool.  Would this tool entice our poor attendees to come to school more often? Will VR allow for all types of learners?  Kinesthetic, Visual, Spatial, Aural? I feel that my creative leadership style lends itself well towards using VR.  Have a look at the following video and see what you think – are you hooked?

Note – I did get to experience space in VR – it was UNREAL!!!

Take a look at the difference it made in a school in Tennessee.

Let me know what you think!  I would love to hear your feedback as I learn from everyone and there are many of you who have already ventured where I intend to go.

3 am Musings – Major Project Update (4/4)

It’s 3:00 am, and I can’t sleep.  In fact, I woke up thinking about my major project and how it has begun to stitch itself together like a fine quilt and unravel like a loved blanket all at the same time.  Has this ever happened to you?  Gah!!!  This is how progress is made, small steps I keep reminding myself, even if things do not happen within our allotted semester time, any small step forward is a success.

Things that are going well:

  • All of the grades that are using Google Classroom are LOVING it!  They are asking me to use it more than my school blog now….. Maybe my blog might become obsolete?  I hope not, I like my blog as it allows parents easy access to see what their students are up to daily.  And whatever, it is my blog,,, so I will keep it!
  • I have learned that the current grade 8’s from the elementary school in Lumsden are already connected to Google Classroom and their teacher is using it all the time!  This will make it easier for me once they come to grade 10 (or earlier depending on my course load next year).
  • There is a way to transfer G-Suite from a student email to their personal email before graduation – BUT who is going to teach this to the students?  Whose job is this? Does this mean the school owns the students work and the student doesn’t?  So many more questions!!

Things that are not going well:

  • Because I am not an administrator for our school divisions G-Suite I cannot access the administrator reports for my Classrooms.  This may be because I am using my personal Gmail account.  Big No No – I know!  But everything I don’t consider my personal email account mine, all of my school info is in there.  This is an issue I am now working on.
  • My students have used their personal email accounts as well because they were having issues signing in with their school emails.  I have never, nor will I ever contact a student via Google Classroom and I delete my classroom students immediately after the class is done.  However, this is still an issue.  So – while my intentions are good, I am bending a lot of rules.

AS my project begins to come together, I am left with so many questions, maybe more than when I began?  But this is entirely part of the learning process, and I am okay with that.  I don’t think that Kristen and Stephen are expecting these projects to be entirely finished at the outset of this class, some of our projects will be an ongoing passion project that may take a bit longer than the four months we have together in this course for our leadership styles to percolate within our projects.  Mine will take just a bit longer, I feel that I will need a full school year to collect data (at this point I feel that it will have to be qualitatively done) in order to present it to my division.  I do not want to go to them with a weak case, as they are so pro one other LMS usage.  You know what?  I am okay with that, I will keep on using my Google Classroom – however, I will have students use their own school emails making sure that I am protected.  AND now we are back to the original question that began this whole thing…who is going to tell them and give them (the students) the time to transfer their educational portfolios over to their own accounts????

Unit 5: Flexible, Equitable, Achievable?

At the provincial level, the Ministry of Education within the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the need for allowing all of our students to become digitally competent citizens.  Image result for government of saskatchewanThe Millenials that consume our classrooms each day are digital natives, just because they have been born into this era does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly or safely use the vastness that is this technology. 

The Technology in Education Framework states that “not only is technology vital the learner…it allows for creativity, flexibility and allows for a greater reach in educational opportunities” (p1).  I have chosen to focus this units blog on the view that our provincial stakeholders took at using digital technology to enhance equity in learning for all in Saskatchewan.  How can technology allow for this to happen?  Just as Dylan stated in his blog, growing up in a larger center can cause one to wear blinders, not realizing that not everyone had access to the internet or computers in their schools – or even being in a larger center being forced to only take the courses offered at your school when you could have been taking courses offered at the DLC (understanding there is a financial undertaking here too, which may further resect some out).

Personally, I am a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom to enhance lessons.  In fact, I have gone away from using textbooks in my classes entirely.  Technology has the ability to allow for learning for all, students can be working on multiple levels at the same time.   But, using technology in the classroom also means that I am responsible for teaching the appropriate use of student-based technology.  Just because these Millenials have the world at their fingertips, does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it safely and in an acceptable manner.  Should educators have to shoulder this responsibility entirely?  NO.  There needs to be some responsibility with their parents/guardians too.  However, considering that our students are spending the majority of their waking hours in school, we have a responsibility to do our part if we are expecting our students to use technology in our systems. 

I realize that not all schools are equipped with enough computers for all students, therefore our students are using their own cell phones for classes. By allowing students to use their own devices, we are inviting in distractions which have to be managed.  Great – yet another thing for our classroom teachers to try to manage.  Or is it?  I caution those who are quick to complain about this.  Recently Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classes beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  I am curious how this will pan out.  I understand that concern about the distractions, but a student can be just as distracted while on a laptop as they can be on a phone.  I understand that they are faster on their phones with the distractions, however, distractions are always there.  I am concerned that this ban will narrow the educational experience to those in remote areas who do not have access to technology that those in larger centers do.   My other concern with this is:  What if it pans out well, although Saskatchewan believes that technology enhances equity and learning for all, will we follow suit and ban cell phones in our classrooms?  Will this then become inequitable for remote areas?  How will our classrooms adjust to still function within the government mandates?

Major Project Update (3/4)

A quick update on my project!  I have been successfully implementing G-Suite in 3/5 classes (the other 2 are busy working on major projects, so not a lot of direct instruction time yet – but they have been accessing our Classroom sites).  So far, this means that all of my students have successfully signed up for the G-Suite sites and are accessing it!

Yay – one goal down!  HOWEVER – we did run into some roadblocks signing all of the students up…

  1. We could not use their school division accounts for all students – which wasn’t my goal anyway since they will lose their email addresses once graduated.  Most students used their own personal Gmail accounts or they made a new one. Not a big deal, no one complained about this.
  2. The only glitch now that I had access to their personal email accounts – would that put me at risk?  

Students had successfully downloaded Google Classroom and Google Docs to their phones and have been accessing the information that I have posted regularly.  I know this because of the good questions that I have been receiving from them about their assignments/projects.  I have also been able to monitor large collaborative projects and see the students working on them in real time.

Yay – Goal two achieved.

I have seen students begin to create their educational portfolios – especially my grade 12 students.  The students have been proud of their work!  They are beginning to realize that their work is THEIRS, it will not disappear on them.

Now – I need to access information from my school division and contact other school divisions in regards to using Google Drive with students personal accounts in order to create an educational portfolio.

One thing I need to figure out still is, HOW DO I COLLECT DATA?  Does this project require me to collect data or is the data being collected just by the amount of use that G-Suite is being used and accessed by the students?

I still have more to research, but this is a step in the right direction, and I have students on my side, now just to speak to other division as well as my own.

Major Project Part 2

Looking back at Part I of my project, I reflected one major point – the main one that I am aiming to answer in this class:

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?  

So far, I have been able to achieve a few goals towards the above questions.  I have been able to get all of my students onto the G-Suit applications, meaning they are all on Google Drive and are all using Google Classroom.  This is a major step in the right direction. However, lots of my students needed to use their own personal Gmail accounts as only a few were able to use their pvsd email accounts, while most chose to not use them.  I also have all of my students regularly using both of these applications on their phones (if they have one). I know that my senior students are using Google Drive collaboratively as I am part of their groups and I see their progress in real time.  This is great as is has already accomplished what I wanted for the “Opportunity” portion of SWOT from part I.

As I am already into month 2 of this project, there have been new questions that have arose that I now need to look at:  Are there any privacy concerns by using Google Drive as my students are mostly using their own accounts? Are there any financial aspects to consider as Google Drive only offers 18 G of storage for free?  Also – I feel that I may need to shorten the length of time that I originally proposed to collect data from 3 months to a full 2 months. This will allow me time to evaluate the data properly and deconstruct everything that I have learned and need to continue to work on.

I know that Regina Public School Division uses Google Drive and Google Classroom exclusively as I have students who have recently transferred from their whom have taken on a leadership role amongst the student body (bonus for me).  I intend to reach out to some colleagues and speak to them about what they see as the pro’s and con’s of this cloud-based system as they have implemented it for far longer than I have.

In order to evaluate myself on this project, I am a bit unsure of how to go about collecting data.  All divisions like quantitative data, while this project will focus on qualitative data. I might have already begun collecting data inadvertently by the success of homework completed on time and quality of work completed with the three classes that I have chosen to focus on.

I am wondering if anyone has any ideas or suggestions of how to collect data for this type of a project?

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.