Dear Future Students,
I want to take a moment to get you pumped up for this coming school year. As you may have seen as you walked by my classroom, or heard through the wall that separates Mr. Brown and I, we have a lot of fun in my room. You might have noticed that we dance, film videos, and blog about our work. Now you may think that this is all fun, and I hope that is your thought, but I want you to know that I am also sneaking in some learning into your 6th grade head. That is right, I am a sneaky teacher. When we are blogging, filming, and communicating with others online, I am also teaching you the life skills on how to be a good digital citizen.
What is a digital citizen you may ask? Well, in the broadest terms it comes down to REP: Respect, Educate, and Protect. How can you be a respectful person online? What ways can you protect yourself when navigating the digital world? And what tools can I educate you with to prepare you for the years ahead on the digital world? You can also think of the Digital 10 Rules, and we will talk early on in the year where these rules fit in REP. While most of the rules fall under being respectful, we can talk about how we can better protect ourselves from someone trying to see our work, and how we can become better educated and keep up to date with the different technologies and rules. These will be just as important as the ways we are safe, respectful, and responsible in our physical classroom. We will have conversations about what this means when you are on your computer, and run some games to help you gain a deeper understanding.
Once we have a solid understanding, that is when the fun activities begin. We start the year off with the Global Read Aloud. During this global event, we will have the opportunity to communicate with classrooms around the world using the blogging platform Write About It. By participating with this online platform, we will be practicing how to communicate online in a positive and safe manner by commenting on other students' blog posts. We will discuss and practice how to respond to a blog post, first be practicing as a class using Twitter, and then by having you practice on your own through Write About It. This will be your first online chance to model that you are a digital citizen. As 6th graders, communicating online is something you probably do every day. Whether through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. I want to make sure that through this blogging experience, you gain an understanding of there being a right and wrong way to respond and take this knowledge to practice in your everyday lives. I hope that if you get a message that is inappropriate, that you remember that you shouldn't respond back the same way, but rather find and report it to an adult, just as if this had happened on your blog post in class.
Another activity that we will be doing in my classroom is creating Google Slides. When we create these slides, I expect that you give credit where credit is do. If you take an image to put on your slide show, you are going to give credit to the person whose image it is; just like if you were quoting someone. We will talk about the Creative Commons, and I will model how to use them, just like I am doing in this blog post right here. You will have plenty of opportunities to practice this as we will be doing slides on landforms, climates, and different cultures, to name a few things. It is important that you realize that you need to give credit to other peoples' work or else it is stealing, and that is not being respectful in the digital OR physical world.
I hope this letter has gotten you excited for the upcoming school year. I know that I am excited, getting Google Classroom prepped, practicing my GoNoodle dance moves, and copying permission forms to put your smiling faces on our social media sites. I look forward to meeting you and your parents at open house night!
Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.
Starr, L. (n.d.). Education World: Proper Internet Use | Tools for Teaching ... Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech055.shtml
Team, G. (n.d.). Middle School Digital Citizenship: What Students Need to ... Retrieved October 20, 2016, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/middle-school-digital-citizenship
So I moved to Northern Maine, but all of my doctors are still in Southern Maine. I know, I know, I should probably switch them, but I am not ready for that step yet. Anyways, this means that I am out of school for two days to get to my appointments. So I had two options: A) Have the sub try to teach my students or B) Flip my room so that my students were getting everything that I would be teaching them anyways. Naturally I chose the later. Of course, upon choosing this option, I didn't realize how much work it would be! Now I understand that this isn't completely what a flipped classroom, but it is as close as my students are going to get without being able to bring their computers home.
What I Did
So here is what I did. First, I utilized Google Classroom. I created assignments to put on the classroom that I knew my students could handle. For ELA they have a document to start typing a persuasive piece on. For reading, they have a Google Form in which they will listen to a chapter from or Pax book and then answer question about the book. Finally, for Social Studies, I posted a Brainpop video with directions on how to log on and what I want them to do. This is a big step for both my students and me. I really hope that the tech works well with the sub and that the students actually read the directions. If everything works though, it can mean great things for my classroom, and I am excited to see the possibilities that present themselves!
At my school, we are 1:1 Chromebooks 4-6th grade. We also have access to the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) suite. This gives my students and me access to many different apps that can be used in and out of school depending on internet access. Because my school already has these tools in place, I wanted to find out how they could help my students develop 21st Century Thinking Skills (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication). I wanted to know if these tools that my students are provided with would help them become deeper thinkers, or if these tools were just that, tools. So I set out on a mission, following the GAFE hashtag on Twitter, looking up scholarly articles, and taking the level 1 Google Educator Training. I was looking for specific information on how the different apps help my students develop their 21st Century Thinking Skills, and how I, as a teacher, need to be using and modeling these apps to help students with this process. I also needed to know how to integrate these apps into my teaching; to not just use them because they were there, but in a purposeful manner. For my notes and hours spent on this project, you can go to my Time Sheet.
Note: My favorite resources are linked in purple.
One of the goals that I am working on as an educator this year is to make sure that I have cohesive units. This means that I am engaging students at the beginning of a unit with a hook or by activating background knowledge, and that all the activities I do in the middle keeps my final goal and learning target in mind. Investigating GAFE has helped me with my goal. By knowing what each tool does, and which skill it promotes, I can incorporate them in my units purposefully. I can have students think critically about a video by inserting it into forms and having the students answer different types of questions related around it.
Another tool that I may want to insert into a unit, keeping my goal in mind, is having students work on a Google Doc or a Google Slide together. By using these two options when students are working on group projects, it allows the students to interact collaboratively by adding comments and helping each other, even if one student may not be in the same room at the time. Students can also keep each other honest with the amount of work they are doing. Both apps have a revision history page that the teacher or students can go to and see who has contributed what to a project and what goals may need to be communicated based off of that.
During my research, I found two handy blogs that discussed giving feedback to students using Google Docs. One of the blogs is Control Alt Achieve. The other blog is called EdTech Teacher. Both of these blogs gave great feedback tools to help students think more critically about their writing and to bridge communication barriers. One tool that I learned about I am actually going to be using this week with my persuasive writing unit to help flip my classroom. I am going to have students write a simple persuasive piece on Google Docs, share it with me, and then I am going to use Screencastify to give them video comments where I am not going to be in class.
Connecting to my Learning
How can educators advocate and use technology to enhance real world, collaborative, learner centered environments? This a question that I am faced with in the course that I am taking this year. I feel like Google Apps is a very strong platform in which we can do this. Google Classroom allows for teachers to post assignments and announcements where students can easily access them. This allows for students to step outside of the classroom walls and work on materials in an environment that is conducive for them. Other apps that help to bust down the classroom walls are Google Calendar, Google Hangouts, and Google Docs. With Google Calendars, students can set up meeting times with their teachers to get small group or 1:1 learning. Google Hangouts allows for students to ask their peers questions through IMing, or video chatting in a student or teacher who is in another area. Finally, Google Docs allows for students to work collaboratively on their documents and still maintain ownership. Students can share their documents with teachers and student mentors to add feedback to their documents. Feedback can be added in many different ways from color coding grammar mistakes, to adding in links to further research.
To help educators become well versed in GAFE so that they feel comfortable using it in their own classroom, their are a few options. As someone who is more versed in using the GAFE apps, I need to be an advocate in getting these options out to help other teachers.
3. Google Educator Certification: Google provides free education for teachers surrounding the GAFE suite. Teachers walk through different units that teach them how to use the various apps. At the end of each lesson there is a check up, as well as a review at the end of each unit. When you finish all the units, you can pay $10 to take a test to become Google Educator Level 1 Certified. You can then go through more in depth units and take another test to become Google Educator Level 2 Certified. As part of this project, I have become level 1 certified.
At the end of every Twitter Chat, they ask what our #nextsteps are. Twitter is a big part of my professional development and played a role in my learning for this research project, so I thought I would share my #nextsteps in honer of where my research has taken me.
As a learner who grew up during the MLTI program, I have had many opportunities to grow up learning through technology. Some of these experiences have been very good, and others, not so much. I remember in the beginning, my teachers didn't really know what to do with the technology, so it was a lot of substitution; typing an essay instead of writing it, or doing research online instead of in the library. Even in college the technology I used wasn't very transformative. Looking at both of these times through a lens of andragogy and pedagogy, it was pedagogy; the teacher would tell me what to do, and I would do it. Once I got to college, it started to transform a little. Research topics became broader, but I still wasn't doing it because I wanted to, it was because was told I had to. For me, a moment when this changed was when I was introduced to the teachers' world of Twitter. When I was introduced to the world of Twitter Chats, I was self directing my learning. Sure, there would be different topics that were to be covered, but I could determine if that topic was a good match for what I wanted to learn. For the first time, I could decide if I wanted to be a part of that chat, and if I did, collaborate with people with different experiences on trying to solve the same teaching problems that I was seeing. It was like a whole new world to me. If I look at Twitter chats through an androgogy lens, I can see that it includes self directed learning and problem based learning. When I participate I am able to chose which problem I want to work on. Twitter chats also happen in a cooperative learning climate online. If I have a question or a comment I can reply to the person's post and we can have a discussion around it that other people can jump in on as long as we continue to use the group hashtag. Finally, when participating in these chats, I have to draw upon my knowledge of teaching. It would be very hard for me to participate in these chats if I didn't have any knowledge in teaching. Sometimes, it is difficult to participate in some chats based on the topics if you don't have the background knowledge. For example, something I am interested in learning about is DEEPdt; however, my background knowledge is very small on that topic, so my participation in that chat would only be surface level. While my contribution my not be deep, the collaboration I get from others will help to deepen my understanding. One thing that I do see missing looking at Twitter from andragogy though, is that there isn't an objective that the collective is trying to achieve. Therefore, Twitter Chats are not designed into activities that can help the learner meet an objective. However, I believe that I learner can self create their own objectives and use Twitter to help them achieve their goal.
T. (2011). Adult Learning Theories. Teal Center Fact Shhet, (11), 1-4. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
First off, let me clear up the obvious question here; what is andragogy and pedagogy? According to Malcolm Knowles, andragogy is, "the art and science of helping adults learn" and pedagogy is, "the art and science of teaching children." However, this is not where the distinction between andragogy and pedagogy stops; the differences are much more complex. For example, andargogy encourages self directed learning based on the passions of the learner, where as pedagogy is directed learning based on standards (The Modern Practice of Adult Education). For a more detailed description of the differences between andragogy and pedagogy, here is a video that I created comparing the two.
Now that the differences of andragogy and pedagogy are clear, how does technology play a role? To me, the biggest role that technology plays in branching the gap between pedagogy and andragogy is in building 21 Century Skills. These skills are inherent when it comes to andragogy, but before learners can get to this point, they need to be directly taught these skills through pedagogy. In the article 21 Century Skills: Not New, but a Worthy Challenge, Rotherham and Willingham say that advocates of 21 century learning favor student centered models like problem based learning. This is closely linked with the theory of andragogy and where technology becomes a tool in branching the gap. When students work on a problem based learning project, they are going to be learning from the teacher how to use those 21st century skills.
I will give an example for each on of the 4Cs that is included in the 21st century skills; starting with collaboration. It is one thing to have students talking with each other in the classroom to collaborate on an idea, but with technology, teachers can model to their students how to be collaborative online. Teachers can demonstrate how to set up a google slide show, and how members can work and comment on the slide show even if they are not in the same room together. During this time, the teacher can also model how to give constructive comments that help to benefit the progression of the project. Once completed, the students can have time to practice this new collaborative skill using the tech, and the teacher can circulate, or send comments through their computer. These skills can then be translated into other sites such as google docs. As the students start to transfer this knowledge, they are moving from pedagogy to andragogy with the help of the technology.
Another C of the 21 century skills is communication. This skill ties in well with the previous skill of collaboration. Teachers can model to their students how to communicate with different audiences. The teacher can show different types of articles and blogs and talk about who the intended audience is and how the class knows that. Then students can put this new communicative knowledge to work and try blogging for themselves. This teaches the students how to talk to people other than their peers and they can also get collaboration back on their blogs.
Next there is creativity. When I hear of creativity, I think of art and that I am not good at it. Students need to be shown that there are different types of creativity. By modeling different sites that allow for creative outputs, and then letting the students be able to use them, teachers are showing students that there is more than one way to be creative. Once they know this, they are more likely to go back to these sites and use them in future projects to demonstrate their knowledge on a topic.
The last C is critical thinking. Out of all of the 21st century skills, this one needs to have the most time to model, build, and explore for students. On a basic level, think of the typical research question. If given to a student with no research skills, they are going to be lost on what to do with it. However, if teachers start to model how to do research online and walk through their own thought process, students are going to start picking up on that critical thinking skill. Talking about why those keywords were typed into the search bar, why we search under scholarly articles instead of just the web, why we organize the information gathered the way we do; that is going to help the students bridge that gap and get them critically thinking on their own. Next time they have a question, they might do the research instead of asking, or putting it to the backs of their minds. To me, that is how we move from pedagogy to andragogy with the help of technology; by using the technology as a bridge to gain and master the 21st century skills. Using it to model and then reinforce the students learning. If they don't have those skills, it will be very hard to make the jump from teacher directed learning, to self directed learning.
Knowles, M. S. (1970). The modern practice of adult education; andragogy versus pedagogy. New York: Association Press.
Rotherham, A. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2010). 21 Century Skill: Not New, but a Worthy Challenge. American Educator, 17-20. Retrieved October 1, 2016, from http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/RotherhamWillingham.pdf
My name is Jessica Meservey and I am a 6th grade teacher. There is no level that I would rather be teaching and learning with. I currently teach in rural Maine. I love to integrate technology into my classroom as we are 1:1. Find me on Twitter at @MsMeservey.