You Are a Teacher…What Now?

Many of the second year students from Werklund School of Education are on their final practicum and well on their way to setting up their new classrooms in September.

Here are a few resources that may help in the transition from student to working teacher.

First is the recent blog post and short video about 17 Things They Didn’t Tell You About Becoming a Teacher.  Keep in mind #1 – your feet will hurt for the first little while.

John Spencer has an interesting blog to follow and a new YouTube Channel entitled, “New Teacher Academy” that is certainly worth a visit and maybe even a “follow.”  Many of his posts are linked to Design Thinking and innovation in your own classroom.  Much of it is positive and provided in digestible bites rather than large, buffet style dishes.

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If no one gives you a “New Teacher Card,” make one for yourself and use it often.  There is a culture in every school that is unique and you can not be expected to know all the details in that first year.

The Doucette Library is still here for you.  As an Alumni, you have access to our collection to help with your teaching.  Use the resources you have used in the past in your classroom. That goes for research guides and pinterest boards.  You have access to it all.

Find a mentor in your new school that you feel comfortable with and ask them questions.  In fact, keep an on-going list of questions on your desk for the end of the day when you are tired and have forgotten what went on.

Everything will seem new but take some chances anyway.  The best way to innovate is to jump in and see what works.  Try it with one class and assess the success afterwards.

And,  a little tip for you elementary school teachers that not everyone will tell you…buy some heavy coverage funny pjs in anticipation of Pajama Day.  And matching slippers if you can.  Box them up in your closet and take them out for the day!

 

 

App of the Week: Bedtime Math

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Cost: Free

Updated: January 23, 2017

Version: 3.2

Size: 95.5 MB

Language:  English (or Spanish)

Rated: Age 4+

Bedtime Math would appeal to kids, parents and educators that love fun facts and are interested in doing some mental math in the meantime.  For example, today’s Bedtime Math question begins with a picture of a Platypus and some weird and wacky facts about the animal.  Did you know: The platypus is so weird-looking that when English scientists first found it in Australia, they had to bring a few back to England because no one believed any animal could look like that?  That is a very cool fact that many, say, 3rd graders could work into a conversation easily.

Once a student or a family has read the interesting introduction to the day’s math problem, users can pick from a variety of leveled math questions: Wee Ones, Little Kids, Big Kids and the Sky’s the Limit.  Today’s Little Kids problem was “a platypus eats 1/2 its own weight every night! If it weighs 4 pounds, how much does it eat?”  Okay there is a problem with the measurement use of the imperial system but that could be another conversation with your child or student.  It is evident that the development of the app’s content is done mainly in the United States.

Explore the app and the website to find a very fun way to engage students in real world math problems and funky facts.  Recommended for students up to grade 6.

Design Thinking – Day 3

By: Tammy Flanders

We had four workshops today – two for secondary level students and two for elementary level.

It was great having an opportunity to work through the elementary scenario of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf a couple more times. There is definitely a marked difference in the tone of activity between the elementary and secondary students. Whereas the secondary students worked through a more real life example (helping an immigrant/ refugee settle in a new country which they took very seriously) the elementary student teachers were able to let their imaginations go and have some fun.

Paula and I still think there’s merit in having the secondary level students work through the fairy tale scenario just to introduce a bit of levity into the workshop and highlight that the work is about the application of the process not the specific scenario we’ve centered the task around. We just have to screw up our courage and try it out.

Paula and I, in reflecting on today’s teaching, have noted that we have added an element in the definition component of the design thinking process for the sake of clarity. If you read through the literature written about the design thinking process it never actually suggests coming up with a defining problem that will then be ideated. But we found that students struggled to get down to the ideating part, the part about coming up with ideas that look for possible results to help move forward with whatever problem they might be working on. Giving the students a couple of minutes to focus on an actual question or problem made the process a little more apparent.  They had something to ideate or focus on.

Another recommendation that has come up in several of the workshops for the secondary level student teachers is providing them with ‘character cards’, that give them an immigrant character to become when doing the interview with an aide worker.  Some students did get into the role playing and came up with characters who had children, who had never worked before, had specific job skills (ie. Doctor, engineer) they were looking to transfer, etc.  Other students felt like they didn’t know enough about immigrants to make up a character.  Paula and I have resisted this idea so far thinking that using the imagination was of value. We’ve since reconsidered and will make up a few characters that students will have the choice to assume or not.

Stay tuned for tomorrow – two more sessions.

Design Thinking and the Undergraduate Student

The beginning of January is the harbinger of another whirlwind term for our second year undergraduate education students.

The coursework for much of their time centers on design thinking and working through the process to successfully complete a task based on the tenants.  Many instructors call on us, Tammy Flanders and I, to walk their students through our “Introduction to Design Thinking” workshop.  There is one problem – time.

The perennial problem with every design thinking workshop we have ever been to is time.  Not enough time.  In working through the five steps of the design thinking process:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test and Re-Test

students are expected to work through an authentic task to develop their knowledge of the process.

If we do our workshop and help them to learn the Stanford-inspired language for Design Thinking and how we have worked through each individual step, then we are forcing the experience and requiring creative solutions on the spot.

In our most perfect world, our Design Thinking workshop would take place over days, in which students would have time to empathize with the end user of their prototypes.  They would have time to define the task at hand, mull it over and return to further define the task.  Upon further contemplation, various parts of the solution would occur to each group and there would be time for them to consider each aspect of each solution.  Prototyping would come quickly with on-the-spot feedback and testing and re-testing would prove to be a valuable learning experience.

In this current framework, we touch on the deeper thinking nature of the first three steps and hope the prototyping and testing will take care of itself.  We hope that this rapid introduction to the steps and process of design thinking leave them wanting more through the Doucette’s Research Guide.

And so we spread the word about Design Thinking and the authentic learning prototype it can bring to each classroom but we struggle to give it the time it needs to fully be explored.

App(Website) of the Week – GoNoodle

I admit it – doing the Dinosaur Stomp with a number of grade three students mid-morning is an excellent way hit the reset button on your day.  These “movement breaks” in elementary school (as in every sedentary environment) are good for bodies and brains and the body-brain connection.   Remember brain gym.

I think we are past the time to recognize that the health of our students is partly our responsibility as educators because we see them for so many of their waking hours.  Elementary school is a natural place to see the positive rewards of extra movement in your classroom.

Instead of an app this week, I would like to suggest the website  GoNoodle.com. A site where you can incorporate movement into your class while not skipping a beat teaching curriculum.

GoNoodle begins with a video entitled GoNoodle 101 but I don’t think you really need the guidance.  Preview a few videos and choose something to your liking.  Strategically place the video during your teaching and voila – movement and learning.

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Lots of math songs and some American content but I still think you can bookmark the site for a quick change of pace in your classroom.

Old School Maker Space

Today’s post is not about old schools but about an event that the whole Maker World took note of in 2012 that changed the way people thought about at least one boy’s education.

The event is captured in two YouTube movies that capture exactly what it means to be a nine-year-old inventor. The first movie, by Nirvan Mullick, traces the cardboard arcade designed by Caine Monroy in the front part of his dad’s auto parts shop in 2012.

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Here is making at its finest.  Very little adult interference and time to work away at a continuous project. Caine used what was around him, saved money for luxury add-ons like the calculators and tenaciously pursued his design ideas.

Nirvan changes Caine’s life by validating that kind of entrepreneurial spirit and creativity.  The second movie, shows the evolution of Caine’s Arcade from an event to a movement, creating a scholarship fund for Caine, a foundation for making called The Imagination Foundation and an annual Global Cardboard Challenge.

This Huffington Post article , captures some of the most important changes that came about because of Caine’s Arcade. “The impact on Caine has been profound. Caine’s dad told me that before the film, Caine was behind in reading and that his school considered him “slow” and wanted to hold him back a year. After the film, Caine became a poster child for gifted children everywhere — his grades improved and he even stopped stuttering. Caine began to refer to himself as an engineer and a game designer.” (Huffington Post, June 9, 2014)

Caine has become a hero of sorts to the underdog of learners who finds a way to exercise his potential in ways a school could not even imagine.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to present some learning opportunities like Caine’s Arcade to students in every classroom?  We may be able to unlock so much potential in so many students.

Visit Caine’s Arcade site and enjoy the experience.  By the way, Caine is 13 now and officially retired from the Arcade.  How time flies for any entrepreneur.

App of the Week – Litsy

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Cost: Free

Size 26.2MB

Version: 1.4.1

Type: like Instagram for books

Litsy is an app discovered by my co-worker that is very much like Instagram for Books. A Book Riot review of the app is called, “If Goodreads and Instagram had a Perfect Baby…” And you would have to agree this app is a great combination of both of these sites.

Litsy speaks to our creative side by allowing us to pose books for photographs.  Using kits and materials in the library (or from home) we feature books in great environments.  If you would like to follow us our name is Open Sesame – Portals to Teaching Resources.  We thought it was very catchy.  Search us by Doucette_Library as well.

Users have a Litfluence score that appeals to students who are gamers to begin with.  Your litfluence score is based on how many people are following you, how much you post and if people are liking what you post.  Although we are not competitive, some students may find an appeal in this aspect of the app.

We are using the app to feature great resources we would love to see in classrooms and to talk about how we can creatively use books to connect to curriculum or to create a great classroom atmosphere.  We get to pick icons that suggest a good pick, so-so, pan or bail.  Ours are mostly picks since we want you to see the resources we really like.  We also get 451 characters to tell you everything you need to know about this book.  That is sometimes a challenge.

The app would also play well in a classroom for students to use to feature what they are reading, if they like it and if they would suggest it to classmates.  So our use of the app is showing you how you could use the app.  A win-win in my opinion.

Read some reviews about the app and join us to see what we are featuring.  The first books I posted were the ones I reviewed recently in a blog post on creating wonder in the elementary classroom. My co-worker has been busy posting back to school finds and some other great resources.

Join us or do some posting yourself or use it in your classroom.  Get the word out about what you are reading or follow us and see what you great resources to pick up for your classroom or practicum.

The app creators are responsive still to feedback on what you would like to change or see added to the app.

Join the fun and visit us on this book-loving social media app.

 

 

Pokemon Go and Students

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Gotta catch ’em all! This blog post is purely an opinion piece because I feel compelled to weigh in on the number of Pokemon Go education related articles that populated my inbox this morning.  And I’m sure some of you will agree with me and some of you will not but that is the risk in having opinions on pop culture.

I, vicariously, experienced all the excitement of Pokemon Go through my son, one of the first generation Pokemon card owners when it was first introduced in North America.  This makes his access to Pokemon Go very interesting.  He owns and pays for his own Smart Phone and I no longer need to know his whereabouts and he is at the age when he can decide to stay out all night to chase Pokemon is he so chooses.  In fact, he lives several miles away in another quadrant of the city.  That makes a huge difference to my opinion.  I can enjoy seeing him search and show me where Pokemon are but I no longer have to accompany him on the journey from gym to gym.

Having said that, he did 14 levels and 18,000 steps in 24 hours during which he also held down a full time job for 8 of those hours.

Please do not make Pokemon Go into an “educational tool!” It doesn’t need to be.  Use other things to create great experiences in school like Geocaching or Nature Walk Journals but leave Pokemon Go for kids in the summer when they are off and can do (sometimes) what they want to do.  Not every app or tech innovation needs to be an educational tool.  Some need to be left to pop culture.

Now there is a public library in the States, dropping lures so that people chasing Pokemon will also enter their library and, perhaps, browse or become patrons but that is another story.

There were also Pokemon at church this weekend.  In fact the church was a Pokemon gym.

So, teachers, leave it alone.  While you are planning to work with it during the school year it is busy whooshing past you giving way to the next cool app.  Leave it for kids to enjoy and those who loved Pokemon the first time around.

As one 20-something mentioned in a news interview, “All of us 10 year old boys were thinking: if this game could be real life…”  I agree, we are all having fun with it so, teachers, don’t touch.

Kids are Kids!

Just a quick update since I am in Alberta and there has been an enormous natural disaster and, like all Albertans, we all feel the need to give back when something goes terribly wrong.

The people in the know here at the University saw the potential to provide some services for the evacuees that are being housed here.  First we offered books for kids since our library is aimed at undergraduate teachers.  Those were greatly appreciated.

The one thing most of the kids need, though, is some time with someone else, doing something else.  When we were invited to offer story time in an area where the kids would IMG_0924[1]

be finishing breakfast we could not refuse. And the first day we took puppets! Did we read stories? Sort of.  Did we have a ton of fun? Yup.  The second day, we actually did read stories.  Elephant and Piggie became interactive, active and thoroughly enjoyable.

So, sometimes you just need time and low tech solutions to some very terrible events.  Kids are kids, whether they are from Fort MacMurray or anywhere else.  And they love a great story!

App of the Week – Update Mix on Pix

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Cost: Free until May 8, 2016

Updated: April 27, 2016

Version: 1.0.1

Size: 35.5 MB

In-app Purchases

On the advice of Francois Robert (see the comments from yesterday’s blog), who kindly suggested the Mix on Pix app by Pixtolab, I will review it as an upgrade or more versatile app than A+Signature.

I did really like the simplicity of A+Signature but many digital natives would like more fonts, more borders and more variety in typography.

And Mix on Pix is free until Mother’s Day, just like A+Signature.  And you know how I love a free app.

Mix on Pix certainly gives you more choices in the amount and way you add more information to your photos, especially attractive in the middle and high school environments where students are immersed in social media.  “Mix texts, quotes, artwork, handwritings, drawings and much more.” Again, as a teacher, you have a great opportunity to show various uses for photography as part of the learning process, images as metaphors, and how to have a respectful digital footprint.

The second screen as you enter the app shows you possibilities including video tutorials and a FAQs in the “How to” screen.  I very much like the video tutorials for visual learners because it shows ways to create embellished images that give you more than just a simple overall listing of words.  The first video visually captures many possibilities.

As I have been maintaining from the beginning of this blog, embracing the technology that the students are using will reward you with engagement and great opportunities to meet them where they are comfortable.

Use A+Signature or Mix on Pix depending on the age and digital knowledge of your students and enjoy the outcomes.  These images remain a great way to capture student progress in any unit.

And thank you, Francois Robert for your comments and further information.