Yesterday I participated in a webinar offered through the Alberta Regional Consortia on Additive Thinking. It provided some wonderful suggestions and tools for helping Div 1 and 2 students develop strategies to improve their additive thinking. As a part of the webinar, we were introduced to the Alberta Regional Consortia's Elementary Math Professional Learning site. It is a treasure trove of instructional practices, assessment tools, and content resources that Elementary Math teachers can use in their classrooms to build and support students learning.
The content resources are broken into three areas: equality, addition and subtraction, and multiplication and division. If you click on a content area, you are then provided with a list of the key understandings for each content area, parent communication pieces that you can send home, evidence of student learning descriptors, and resources for teachings, assessing, and planning. If you haven't already checked out the site, it is well worth a look.
Elementary Math Professional Learning Site
As an added note, the whole Alberta Regional Consortia site contains a wealth of knowledge and resources for Alberta teachers. You need to log in to the site, but membership is free of charge. Once you are in, you can access subject area and focus area resources to support your classroom instruction. One of my favourite parts of the site is the information contained under the focus area of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning. There are cross-curricular, inclusive lessons plans that can be used at a variety of grade and content levels. Take the time to check it out!
Alberta Regional Consortia Learning Resources
This post is the first in two part series of posts on some ideas I have been exploring over the past year in a half through in my Graduate Program. These ideas originate from a project I completed, Multimedia Literacy in the Elementary Language Arts Classroom: A RESOURCE FOR EDUCATORS. So often I hear people talking about educational technology without thinking about the why. This series of posts focus on why I believe we should be moving to teaching not just literacy, but multimedia literacy in schools.
Beyond Traditional Paper & Pencil Literacy
Traditional forms of literacy have long held a privileged status in elementary classrooms. According to The New London Group (1996), Literacy pedagogy has traditionally meant teaching and learning to read and write in page-bound, official, standard forms of the national language. Literacy pedagogy, in other words, has been a monocultural, and rule-governed forms of language (p.61). In the context of our current globalized society, educators need to engage their students in the culturally and linguistically diverse multimedia literacies that they encounter. Barriers continue to be created when educators continue to favour more traditional forms of literacy. Such as barriers of access to differing perspectives when other forms of literacy are not being shared with students or barriers of accessibility for students that are better able to express themselves with non traditional forms of literacy. For example, some students are better able to communicate their thoughts using speech to text software or audio recording. According to Jenkins (2013), while traditional reading and writing skills are still important, print-literacy ways of reading, writing, and interacting with text are not sufficient to satisfy the needs of an increasingly participatory culture.
Aligns with Universal Design for Learning Principles
As education moves to more inclusive curriculum and environments, educators have been exploring frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL). According to CAST (2015), UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. Principle I, of the UDL framework, suggests teachers present information and content in different ways to reach all learners (CAST, 2015). Our classrooms are made up of all kinds of learners. Whether they are strong learners auditorily, visually, tactilely, sensorily, etc., by knowing our students and how they learn, we can choose various representations of work that suit the learners. If you have students that are auditory learners, you can choose to read books aloud, share an audiobook, or play a soundtrack. For visual learners, you could use films, YouTube parodies, fanfic artwork, costumes, toys or video games. Principle II of CAST’s UDL Framework, suggests teachers also provide multiple means of action and expression to their learners (CAST, 2015). Different learners have different strengths and challenges. In order to allow all students to show what they know to their fullestcapabilities, students need to be able to choose how they represent their learning. Encourage your students to interact with the text and show what they know in a way that play to their strengths or challenge them to work outside of their comfort zone. Often times students are asked to respond to stories they read or films they watch by writing about it. Offering only a written response as a choice limits how many learners you are engaging and how many will be successful.
Multimedia Literacy in Action
For the past few years, I have been working with Mr. Wiess and his grade 3 classes to help them create a green screen movie to capture their learning from their social studies research on Tunisia, Ukraine and India. Each year they research the traditions and celebrations and compare them with their own traditions and celebrations here in Canada. As a class they write and create scenes, that they then film and put together into one presentation.
This year, Mr. Wiess wanted to try something different from green screening so I suggested offering up more choice this time. Instead of requiring them all to do film a green screen we also gave them the option of using using Tellagami, Book Creator, or Toontastic to show what they know. Students were grouped and given a choice of what country they chose to research and report on. After groups conducted their research they were introduced to the apps and the formats they could choose to represent their learning.
Tellagami allowed students to customise an avatar of a character and voice record a message or type in a message. Backgrounds could be ones the students took, drew, found online or got from the gallery within the app.
Book Creator lets students represent their learning through the writing or telling of a story. Mr. Weiss showed them the new comic book layout in the app and the groups that chose Book Creator made a comic book. Students could use pictures they took, drew or found online. They could write with their fingers, type in text or voice record.
Toontastic is amazing as it has a huge bank of backgrounds, characters and props students can use. They can also import their own photos as backgrounds and they can even take a photo of their own face to impose on a character from the gallery. There is no option to add text to Toontastic so students tell the story through voice recordings.
Green Screen by Do Ink was used by students that wished to act out their scene and film it. Backgrounds imported could again be ones that students drew, took or downloaded online.
What I liked about these apps is that they all gave students lots of options in terms of how they added text and images to the stories. These multimedia formats gave them opportunities to create beyond traditional paper and pencil formats of text. Their text was found in their research notes, storyboards, scripts, acting, voice recordings, animations, illustrations and their culminating video.
Stay tuned for Pt.2 of this post! For more information see my site:
Multimedia Literacy in the Elementary Language Arts Classroom: A RESOURCE FOR EDUCATORS
CAST, Inc. (2015, January 22). UDL guidelines [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/take_a_tour_udl
Jenkins, H. (2013). Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved
The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.
Last week the grade 1 and 2 class from Busby School flew to Saskatoon.
Ok, the class didn’t actually fly to Saskatoon, but they did simulate a trip to Saskatoon as part of a Social Studies unit in their combined grade 1 and 2 class.
As the students came in from recess, they were each handed a boarding pass. They checked in at the gate (Mrs. H. was sitting at a table outside the classroom), and then they boarded the plane (the classroom had been set up to look like the rows inside an airplane). Once everyone was seated, they watched a safety demo on the SMART board and then they watched a video, shot from the cockpit of an aircraft, as they taxied down the run way and took off.
Once the video showed that the aircraft had reach cruising altitude, Mrs. Felske turned off the SMART board and the students enjoyed a snack onboard the aircraft. As they ate, they discussed the things they already knew about Saskatoon and what they might learn about the city’s geography, history, people, and businesses once they arrived.
In preparation for their trip, the class had researched information on the climate and current weather conditions in Saskatoon. They had also located Saskatoon on the map and discussed different modes of transportation that they could use to get there. They had created a list of things they would need to pack for their trip, and they had learned a bit about some of the attractions and sites that they might be able to see once they arrived.
When their snacks were done, they returned their seatbacks and tray tables to the upright position and prepared to land in Saskatoon. The SMART board came back on and the students watched another video, shot from the cockpit of a plane, showing their decent into the city. Upon arrival, the students exited the aircraft and made their way to a special classroom (their own room now reorganized to included work tables) where they will be spending the next few weeks learning all about the city they are visiting. While they are away, they will be sending letters and postcards back home telling their friends and family all about their experiences and the things they are learning. It sounds like such an exciting adventure.
The grade 1 and 2 class in Fort Assiniboine is also set to make a trip to Saskatoon this year. And I hear that both classes will visit Iqaluit and the community of Meteghan in Nova Scotia early on in 2016 as well. I look forward to reading the letters and postcards they write and hearing about all the amazing things they learn!
I heard of the Global Read Aloud a few years ago and thought that would be a great tool to connect my class with others around the world. The idea was simple choose one of the books to read aloud to your class and connect with others around the world who chose to read the same book. Pernille Ripp the creator of the Global Read Aloud picks new books each year. She sets a start date and schedule of readings to keep everyone together but if you fall behind that's ok too.
Since I have been out of the classroom the last few years, I have not have the opportunity to do the Global Read Aloud with a class of my own. This year, I sent out some information on the project to see if anyone was interested. Noreen Holt at RF Staples responded and shortly after she reached out to Mary Kaliel at Pembina North Community School and she joined in as well. Noreen decided to jump in and participate with her grade 8 and 9 classes, 3 classes in total. Mary decided to join in with her one grade 8 class. The grade 8’s read Fish by L.S. Matthews, and the grade 9’s read Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass by Meg Medina. It was a huge learning curve for both teachers as not only was the Global Read Aloud new to them, there were several technology tools they decided to use that were new to them too. They used Edublogs, Twitter and Skype to connect with each other, as well as other classes, teachers, students and even the authors.
Noreen used Edmodo and email to find some international connections for her class but in the end her best connection was the one she made with Mary’s grade 8 class. We used Skype to do Mystery Skypes between classes as an icebreaker activity . Mystery Skype is a game of strategic questioning to figure out where the other class is located.
Twitter was used to follow the slow chat happening each week. The slowchat was where a question or two per week were posted by a class that signed up to moderate that week’s chat. Our students followed the hashtags for the week and then tweeted out answers to the questions that were posted.
Through the project students learned:
-reading comprehension strategies and writing skills
-to give positive feedback that moves the conversation forward
-digital citizenship skills (citing images sources, creating a positive digital footprint, etc.)
-the value of making connections with classes outside of their own schools
In the end, I think Noreen, Mary and their students learned a lot through this experience but just to make sure I asked these teachers to respond to a few questions for me. Here are their responses:
What were the benefits of participating in the Global Read Aloud for you and your students?
The students were forced to think “outside their box” when they read comments and blogs from other schools. They also were very aware of their audience and always made sure that their writing said what they had intended. ~Mary
The biggest benefit was the larger audience for their thinking. In all of my classes, the author of the book visited their blogs, read a few, and commented. Additionally, they had partner classes in the United States, and the grade eights also partnered with the grade eights in Pembina North. They Skyped with their partner classes and also read their blog posts and responded. I think the authentic audience was one of the reasons my students were so engaged.
The books are about issues relevant to the students right now. It was easy to connect to both books.
For me the biggest benefit was my learning. Blogging will be a part of my class forevermore. I enjoyed learning how to Skype class to class, and I will definitely do that again as well. ~Noreen
Were there any drawbacks to participating in the Global Read Aloud?
It wasn’t always easy to stick to the schedule. We had to be very aware of the schedule and had to fit the reading in when we had many other things happening. Your time is not your own. You don’t want to read too far ahead, but you also don’t want your kids to read any spoilers in the other blogs. ~Mary
The only drawback for me was the timing. Because I hadn’t known about the GRA in September, I had started class novels already. It was tough to keep to the GRA schedule while finishing the class novels. ~Noreen
Any advice for those thinking about participating in the Global Read Aloud next year?
Next year, I would have the books read much further in advance. I would definitely do this again. ~Mary
Do it! I learned so much about Skyping and blogging. ~Noreen
Minecraft in the Classroom Teaches Reading and More
This is an excellent introduction to a wide variety of possibilities of using Minecraft in the classroom.
Ideas for using Minecraft in the classroom (Edutopia article)
Details about how learning to use Minecraft can help students develop useful learning skills can be found on this site: http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education (This page may be moving...read it now.)
Did you know there are different types of Minecraft? Due to its popularity, there is an educational version, Minecraft.edu which is available at a cost http://minecraftedu.com/
Read: Why educators should use Minecraft in the classroom (.edu version) http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/benefits-minecraft-classroom-students.shtml
Some examples of student work in Minecraft
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.