Mentorship Interview

Prior to participating in my interview with Shauna, my friend told me about a software that I could download that would record both the video and audio of our Skype conversation.  So last week I downloaded Vodburner and was all set for my interview.

About ten minutes into my Skype call with Shauna, I lost the audio recording, and ten minutes later, the video recording failed as well.  Therefore, here is a brief summary of my interview with Shauna:

-Do you think technology is important to include within your classroom?  Shauna explained that she finds technology to become a crucial part of her classroom.  She sees using technology more than just typing up a word document and handing it in; her and her students are always looking for new apps to try on their two iPads, Issac and Ivey, or interacting with other classrooms.  She did mention that she only sees technology as being useful when they are using it for something that couldn’t be done another way.  For example, skyping classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and South Korea in the near future.  She was even telling me how they facetimed one of her students while she was in DisneyWorld, and how her parents skyped with them as they skiied down a run at Whistler mountain!  She believes that it is times like these when the walls of the school disappear and students can learn outside of the the four walls of the classroom.  One thing Shauna stressed was making technology purposeful.  Her motto are the three C’s: collaborate, create, and communicate.  If using technology doesn’t apply to one of those, there might be a more effective way for the students to learn.

-How does technology benefit/hinder Churchill’s beliefs as an Alternative School? Benefits: can host several tenants, and allow individualized self-paced learning.  She explained that in her classroom students are constantly moving at different paces.  Technology benefits those students that need additional time, but also those that may move at a quicker pace.  She continued on to share that part of Churchill is allowing students to take an idea an run with it.  Technology allows that to take place, as students can “run with it” at their own pace.  Hinders: she explained that some people may view technology as time spent away from nature and “real world” activities.

-Do you have any “go to” resources that you look at for ideas regarding teaching, technology, assessment, etc.?  She began by saying that her resources continually change, depending on what she is looking for at the time.  Blogs she believed were her go-to’s.  She explained that if you read a variety of blogs, you’ll learn a variety of information from different sources.  She also explained how Twitter is beginning to be such a valuable resource.  She said that if you follow enough good people (professionals, bloggers, etc.) you are bound to find something.  Her latest go-to resource is Skype In the Classroom.  She explained how she signed up at this site, and sent out requests to teachers from around the world.  From that, her class has skyped with classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and have set up Pen Pals with a school in Uganda.

-What is one thing teachers need to be aware of when taking students on an online adventure?  First off, she said you will be faced with problems; anticipate the problems, and manage expectations accordingly.  She told me that before I skyped in with her class for the first time, they went over what was expected of them as participants, what was expected of our skype conversation, and what problems could arise.  She said it helped her and her students prepare for the numerous situations that could occur.  She also explained that since some of her students are already blogging, they had a conversation about digital citizenship, being aware of what they are posting, but also being aware of who is viewing and commenting on their blogs.  She explained how she has taken instances of cyber bullying and digital citizenship and turned them into teachable moments with her students.

-What is your best advice for beginner teachers who want to connect their students learning to technology?  Plain and simple: try, and if it doesn’t work, try and try again.  She also said that find something you like and share it with your students; eventually they will start coming to you with new things they found, and utilizing technology will become contagious.

-What is the best thing about incorporating technology into the classroom?  What is the worst thing?  She believed the best thing to be authentication.  She explained how when she told her students a particular assignment would be showcased on her blog for everyone to see, their quality of work increased.  Just like you and me, students want their product that will be made public to be a product they can be proud of.  She also said that having fun with it, and trying new things regarding technology.  The worst thing she believed was always searching for the next big thing.  She said that sometimes she’d be having so much fun trying all these new things, that she was tired of constantly searching.

Overall, I learned not to trust Vodburner; technology is part of our present and future; and when incorporated effectively, it can really benefit both our students and us as educators!


Chapter Ten Response

This chapter discusses how to evaluate the evidence that the student produces.  This chapter discusses the triangulation of evidence, and it’s importance when evaluating students.  Therefore, we need to do more than just total the students grades; we need to look at all the evidence – observations, products, and conversations.  I liked the example of how a judge in a court room needs to examine all the evidence before sentencing.  The same goes for teachers; we need to look at all the evidence of learning before evaluating our students.

I liked how “Ms. D” let her students provide the evidence for each outcome that they wanted to be assessed on, then explain why they think they deserve a certain mark.  I think that is good, because it shows just how much the students knows, and how well he/she thinks he/she did throughout the semester.

I think that it is important that we as teachers stay within the legal requirements of evaluating students, but we do it in a way that is meaningful for the students; whether that be self-assessment compared to teacher-assessment, providing evidence of learning, and allowing multiple ways of achieving each outcome.

Curriculum Expectations

Shauna sent me this video, and I’m glad she did!  I thought this was really interesting in showing the process of linking assignments to the outcomes.  I think this strongly relates to the new outcome-based pilot program that is being used for Math 9 this year.

Chapter Nine Response

Chapter Nine discusses the importance of communicating with students and parents about student learning.  I like how this chapter shares how when students are able to communicate about their learning, it teaches them how to self-monitor and become more independent.  I think that is crucial, especially with high school students.  These students are getting to the age where they need to foster more independence, and in some cases perhaps be given more responsibility.

I really liked the idea of students creating a student-generated newsletter.  Though this would be more difficult in a high school, I still believe it would be a great way to allow students to share what they’re learning in their classes.  In a middle years setting, I think this is a great idea.  Since middle years classes spend most of the day together, this would be easier as it would create more of a community when working on this process.

This article then discusses the importance of involving an audience, such as parents or guardians.  Three-way conferences was one way in which I saw communication in my pre-internship.  Fortunately, my cooperating teacher allowed me to be part of three-way conferences, and I learned quite a bit about working with parents.  Some parents were very informed their child’s grades and how they were doing in school, while others were oblivious of their child’s mark, and admitted they were never on PowerSchool.  I thought it was strange that some parents were surprised at how well or poorly their child was doing.  I saw PowerSchool as a way of solving the issue of keeping parents in the dark, but never considered that parents still may not check it, or have access to a computer to check it.  I noticed most of the teachers were big on letting the students facilitate the conference.  I liked how they let the student do most of the talking and allowed his/her thoughts to be shared regarding his/her learning.

As discussed in chapter 8, portfolios seem to be a good tool for presenting students evidence of learning.  I liked how in this chapter, it discussed inviting parents to write comments in the portfolio about their child’s learning journey.  I liked the idea of allowing parents a space to record two compliments and one wish for their child.  From here, I think this would be a good opportunity to sit down with the child and create goals on how students plan on finishing the semester.

Another way communication that was frequently used during my pre-interenship was e-mail.  It seemed my cooperating teacher constantly was reading e-mails about students asking what assignments were missing, what assistance was needed, and how their child should register for classes in the fall.  Though there were some “flaws” with e-mailing, it allowed parents and teachers to communicate directly about issues that may be arising.  Even within the school, teachers were frequently e-mailing other teachers in the school.  Sometimes it was about extra-curricular activities, other times it was about behaviour issues or incomplete work that students were missing.

Chapter Eight Response

This chapter begins by discussing how collecting evidence of learning used to only be the teacher’s responsibility.  However, as it states, “if students are to be involved in assessment in support of their learning, then they must also be involved in this crucial aspect”.  I think that is a really good point I never considered before.  I think by doing this process, it will allow me as a teacher to see whether or not students truly are grasping the content.  Not only will it show what the students know, it will also show how students are as learners – in what ways they learn best, in what ways they don’t learn best, areas of struggle, etc.

I think if I were to set this up, I would have three or four “activities” that could count towards one aspect of the learning.  If there are four aspects in which I will be assessing on, students will get to choose what activity they will hand in for each of the four aspects.  I think this would work really well for English – if students were given multiple means to draft, edit, and revise multiple poems, then only had to submit the two in which they felt were their strongest.  For Health I can see this working for some units as some of the indicators are closely related and can be assessed through a variety of sources.  However, there are some outcomes and indicators that I think would be more difficult to provide students the opportunity to choosing and presenting their evaluation.

Portfolios is something I remember as a kid that I absolutely loved.  It was a time where I could show my parents, grandparents, and anyone else who would look.  Portfolios would be a great asset for three-way conferences.  This would help the parents to understand why their child has the mark he/she has in that class.  One aspect to portfolios I would be hesitant about is for the students who lack the assignments or activities to put in the portfolio.  Thinking back to my portfolio, I always enjoyed showing my parents because it was a time when I could brag about “how good I was”.  However, I never really considered until now how these portfolios would look for the students who are missing assignments.  Knowing that their parents and teachers will be going through their portfolios, I wonder if this would encourage students to complete assignments, or make them feel worse, and potentially less engaged, about having incomplete work.