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!


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.

Lip Dub!

When Dean first expressed his interest in creating a lip dub, I have to admit I was a little hesitant to volunteer; video recording myself is not really my favourite thing.  However, I’m so glad I signed up.  What a neat way to show everyone how we connected with classrooms from all over North America, and how diverse each classroom was from one another.

Anyways, here is the final product of the lip dub.  So happy with how it turned out, and definitely an activity I will keep in mind when an opportunity like this arises.

Tech Task #11: A Peek inside your classroom

Throughout the past three years in the Education program, I have thought numerous times about what my classroom would look like.  However, I just thought of myself standing up there teaching; I never really considered the details.  How would the desks be arranged?  What would be on the walls?  Would it be loud or quiet?  Chaotic or boring?

These are all things that I never really considered until my pre-internship when I was actually teaching.  The first few days I spent with the Wellness 10 girls in the gym, they were loud and chatty and wanted to interact with one another.  However, as soon I was the teacher in the classroom, they froze.  I was so excited to do all these movement activities while learning with them, and they went silent.  It drove me bananas!!  Why aren’t they talking?  Why is no one moving with me?  Why is everyone sitting in single file rows when I told them they can partner up?  Right away I noticed two things I want with my classroom – movement and chaos.

I’d say I was a good student in high school, but I hated the classes where we silently read and wrote, and if we were caught talking we were penalized in some way.  I guess I am one of those people who prefers idle chit-chat while working, as opposed to dead quiet.  I also loved the classes when the teachers got animated, and we were allowed to move freely around the room.  If a student was losing it, they could go get a drink, or get up and move around.

It wasn’t until University when my EHE 310 professor had us move while we worked.  During a group assignment, we had to wall sit, lunge, or hold a plank for an allotted time while we discussed a question.  Once we were done that question we were allowed 20 seconds to sit, then move on to the next question.  I LOVED this!  Nothing in my mind is worse than being sedentary in a chair while trying to participate in group work.

One thing I learned from my pre-internship is that noise can be good.  Noise, chaos, and movement if used effectively can all be part of learning.  As long as I am able to bring the students back when needed, I have no problem with chaos in my classroom.

During EHE 310 our professor, Shelley, took us to a model classroom at Kitchener Community School here in Regina.  I loved this room.  We walked in and there was a trampoline, stationary bike, standing desk, and tipi at the back. There were desks in groups of one, two, and four.  There was also a mat area filled with two been bag chairs and stuffed animals.  Wowza was I shocked.  How could all this go on while I’m trying to teach?!  I was baffled at first that teachers thought this could go on during class time.  However, during the presentation, the facilitator asked us to look around – we were all doing something different using the tools that were given, and no one seemed to be bothered.  She then took us to a few of the teachers classrooms to watch it in action with REAL STUDENTS!  My perspective immediately changed.  If all of this can go on in a classroom and kids are still learning, then this is just the coolest thing ever!

The last thing I want my classroom to be like is very Inquiry-based.  I know it is pretty much all we hear about the first two years of education, but it wasn’t until this year, more so this semester, that I truly understood what Inquiry looks like.  Having Shauna as my mentor has shown me a lot about inquiry.  It seems the majority of the students classrooms are inquiry based, and the kids seem to really enjoy it.  I hope that in the future, my students look as engaged and willing to learn as Room 209 looks!  This classroom also looks like fun – it looks like a bunch of kids just hanging out, as opposed to a classroom.  I imagine it took Shauna and the other teachers at Churchill Alternative School a great deal of time to set up inclusive classrooms and safe places for those children.  That is something else I value, and hope to achieve in my classroom.

Though I have a great deal to learn before my classroom will ever look like this, I’m feeling confident that one day this classroom will be successful for me as a teacher, and my students.

Room 209 Withdrawal

Pre-internship is definitely keeping me busy!  Unfortunately, my mentorship with Room 209 has resorted to back and fourth comments on each others blogs.  Though I am absolutely loving my pre-internship at Balfour, I do have to admit, I’m quite missing my Digital Degus.  A few weeks ago, we were working on a rubric for students to reference to for their substance abuse/addictions research assignment.  I hope things are going okay for this assignment and that the students of Room 209 are keeping busy with Speedy and Caine!

Substance Abuse/Addictions

Today I taught my first virtual lesson to Room 209!  I had fun discussing substance abuse and addictions regarding alcohol and tobacco with this group of students.  The students were so attentive, and involved in the lesson, which made me feel more comfortable!  They all had great ideas, and were very eager about discussing these topics.  I was surprised how much previous knowledge they had regarding alcohol and tobacco, and they were so curious to learn more.

Teaching a class over skype had a few challenges.  The first challenge I found was at points there was feedback.  I found it difficult to tell if I was interrupting a student, or if my voice was just echoing.  I hope to find other ways of incorporating technology into my lessons with Room 209, as we further discuss alcohol and tobacco.

Day Two!

Yesterday I skyped for the second time with Shauna‘s classroom!  I spent the first little bit just observing their language lesson on sentence structure.  While students were independently working on their sentence work, I had the opportunity to work one-one-one with two students.  They each read me their stories, then we edited it, and made some adjustments.  I was impressed by the imagination these girls had!  Both stories were full of creativity, and it was good to hear really creative and imaginative stories.

After recess, I sat in on a math lesson.  I really liked how this math class was run.  Right from the get-go, Shauna put up what the objectives were for that lesson.  I think that was such a good idea to show the kids that first thing in the lesson; it made it clear for everyone what the goal was.  I’m a pretty concrete person, so that would have helped me immensely in school.  Once the objectives were clear, they wrote down the objectives in their own words; Patrick explained that he found it easier to understand the goals when the goals were written by him in language he understood.  I thought he brought up a really good point; Shauna posted her version of the goal, then allowed the students the time to make that goal meaningful for them.  Once a few students shared their interpretation of the objectives, we then moved on to a few examples of how to achieve that objective.

I am really looking forward to what our next steps are . . . A few health lessons perhaps!