Category Archives: Collaboration

Self-Regulated Learning In A Changing Educational Landscape

Point Of View: The Importance Of Self-Regulated Learning In A Changing Educational Landscape.

 

The landscape of education is on the precipice of change.  Digital technologies have removed the need to follow an educational epistemology based on the pursuit of knowledge.  Montessori (1918) saw the need for change when she said, “We know only too well the sorry spectacle of the teacher who in the ordinary schoolroom must pour certain cut and dried facts into the heads of the scholars” (p. 28). In order to develop higher-level thinking skills, our youngest learners must enter an education system, which follows themes of inquiry and is learner-centred.  In order for learners to be successful in a system built on inquiry, they must develop robust self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies to take control of their own learning, and reach their full potential. Developing students’ self-regulated learning skills can demystify assessment, increase student engagement and motivation, and form the basis of productive collaborative learning communities.

 

Assessment can be a debilitating experience for many students.  Vaughan found that the four most common words associated with assessment were: fear, stress, anxiety, and judgment (Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. 2013). Self-regulated learners are able to control their environment, evaluate their work, and determine how to adapt their learning to increase performance.  They understand the assessment and feedback cycle, and use it to their advantage.  Self-regulated learners are also cognizant of their academic strengths and weaknesses, and can fully utilize instructor feedback, as well as engage in peer and self-assessment practices.  Digital technologies such as blogs, wikis, collaborative writing tools, and other social media resources can provide students with increased flexibility and communication opportunities to engage in all aspects of assessment. According to Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison (2013), learners cannot observe, analyze, and judge their own performances on the basis of criteria and determine how they can improve without being self-regulated learners. Effeney, Carroll, and Bahr (2013) agreed when they said”Self-regulated learners… monitor their learning by seeking feedback on their performance and by making appropriate adjustments for future learning activities” (p. 774).

 

There exists in our schools today a motivation and engagement gap in learners.  This gap stems from a disconnect between how students learn best and how instructors teach.  Improving self-regulated learning skills in children from an early age can help bridge this gap.  Dabbagh and Kitsantas (2012) found,  “The motivational components of self-regulated learning help students persist in the face of difficult tasks and resist other sometimes more tempting options” (p. 6). Developing the behavioural and emotional states of children is paramount before engaging in any other type of learning. In order for learners to engage with content in the classroom, they need to be present in the learning experience and be active participants.  Regulating behaviour and emotions can help learners to focus, enhance self-belief, and develop the grit they need to embrace success and failure on the way to achieving their goals. According to Clark (2012),  “SRL is predictive of improved academic outcomes and motivation because students acquire the adaptive and autonomous learning characteristics required for an enhanced engagement with the learning process and subsequent successful performance” (p. 205).  Explicitly teaching self-reflection and metacognitive skills to learners can develop higher-level thinking skills, which enhance motivation and increase engagement.

 

Self-regulated learning skills also form the basis of active collaborative learning communities, and can help develop a successful framework.  Organization, motivation, and collaboration are essential factors in the success of any collaborative learning community.  Borup et al. (2014) found, “Researchers have suggested that without adequate organization, online students will procrastinate, especially students with special needs” (p. 115).  Dewey (1929) says, “I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual, and that society is an organic union of individuals. If we eliminate the social factor from the child we are left only with an abstraction” (p. 34). If learning is socialand involves interactions between learners, instructors, peers, and community, then it is important to prepare students with the emotional, responsive, and reflective skills they need to be successful in these areas.

 

In summary, if we want the next generation of students to be self-directed, autonomous, and life-long learners, we must instil the strategies of self-regulated learning into all areas of education, including assessment, motivating and engaging designs for learning, and across all collaborative learning communities.  Essential self-regulation skills such as metacognition, self-efficacy, and self-reflection combined with social skills such as regulating emotions, perseverance, and behaviour are key indicators for success in our changing educational landscape.  The increasing use of digital technologies arm the self-regulated learner with the tools, collaborative learning spaces, and resources to reach self-determined goals and targets, and take control of their own learning.

 

References:

Borup, J., West, R. E., Graham, C. R., & Davies, R. S. (2014). The Adolescent Community of Engagement: A Framework for Research on Adolescent Online Learning. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 22(1), 107–129.

Clark, I. (2012). Formative assessment: assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(2), 205–249. doi:10.1007/s10648-011-9191-6

Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: a natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3–8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002

Dewey, J. (1929). My Pedagogic Creed. In D. Flinders & S. Thornton (Eds.),
The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 34 – 41). New York: Routledge.

Effeney, G., Carroll, A., & Bahr, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning and executive function: exploring the relationships in a sample of adolescent males. Educational Psychology, 33(7), 773–796. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.785054

Montessori, M. (1918). A Critical Consideration of the New Pedagogy in its Relation to Modern Science. In D. Flinders & S. Thornton (Eds.), The Curriculum Studies Reader (pp. 22 – 33). New York: Routledge.

Vaughan, N., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Assessment (Chapter 5). Teaching in blended learning environments, AU Press, Athabasca University. [Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120229/ebook/99Z_Vaughan_et_al_2013-Teaching_in_Blended_Learning_Environments.pdf, July 17, 2014.]

 

Two Great Ways To Improve Blogging In The Elementary Classroom

1. Edublog’s Student Blogging Challenge

http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/

This is a 10 week challenge facilitated by Edublogs and is designed to improve the quality of your student’s blog postings, give a framework for leaving quality comments and offer an opportunity for students to connect with other students from around the world.

The challenge occurs twice a year in September and March.

Steps to participate:

  • Register your intent to participate.
    • Classes register here
    • Students register here
  • Register your email address with Edublogs here so you can receive weekly blogging challenges directly to your (or your students) inbox.
    • You can do this by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of the Student Blogging Challenge website under the heading, ‘Subscribe For Free.’

Students who use class blogs (teachers blog) are just as welcome as well as those who have individual blogs.

2. Quadblogging

http://quadblogging.net/

Quadblogging is designed to increase the amount of traffic to your student’s blogs, enabling them to write for a wider audience.  It also enables students to connect with teachers and students from around the world.  Opportunities like these really open up your classroom to global perspectives.

Steps to participate:

  • Sign up here.
  • Keep up with tweets @Quadblogging.
  • If you choose to lead a quad, then once you have been assigned your group, you will need to contact the other three schools and arrange a start date.
  • If you choose not to lead a group, once you been assigned a blog, wait for the quad leader to contact you.
I share the following two documents with my students which are designed to improve their blogging and commenting skills.  You may find them helpful with your students:
I Can Statements: Blogging
I Can Statements: Commenting

 

If you chose to take part, then please feel free to let me know how the project(s) went for you.  Also, if you are aware of any similar projects please leave a message in the comments section.

Two Ways To Engage In Creative Writing

 

1. The Progressive Story Project:  My teaching partner, @missbartel, stumbled upon this project last year.  Both our grade 5/6 classes participated with enthusiasm in the spring, and engagement levels were high throughout.  The Progressive Story Project was developed by Karen Ditzler, an instructional technology specialist, from Pennsylvania USA.  Groups of 5 classes, in schools around the world, work together to write a complete story.  Here’s how the project works:

  • The first class brainstorms and writes the intro paragraph(s).
  • Then the next class reads the paragraph(s), brainstorms and decides how they want to continue the story.
  • This will continue until the last class on the list writes the ending and gives the story a title.
  • Classes can edit their section of the story on the Wiki.
  • Once your class has finished the writing part, students can choose scenes to illustrate from their writing.
  • Once all illustrations have been submitted, a VoiceThread is created of the entire story.
This is a link to the story my grade 5/6 class created last spring.

 

2. QuadBlogging:  The primary goal of QuadBlogging is to increase the flow of traffic to a class blog or a number of student blogs in a particular class.  The project creates opportunities for classes, in different school across the globe, to develop their blogging and commenting skills.  If you are familiar with the Twitter hashtag #comment4kids, then QuadBlogging achieves a similar outcome but in a more formal way.  Here’s how the project works:

  • School A becomes the focus school for an entire school week
  • Schools B, C, D spend the week visiting school A’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • In the second week of the project, school B becomes the focus school
  • Schools A, C, D spend the week visiting school B’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • During the third week of the project, school C becomes the focus school for the week
  • Schools A, B, D spend the week visiting school C’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
  • The cycle continues until all schools have had the opportunity to be the focus school.
If you are aware of other ongoing projects, which attempt to connect teachers and students across the globe please feel free to add a link and the title of the project in the comment section below.

Tech Integration Post #9 of 10: Create Concept Review Videos For Students And Parents

Throughout the whole of the previous school year, I often wondered how to reach more of my student’s parents and engage them (directly) in classroom concepts. I wanted to somehow have the ability to connect parents with what was happening in the classroom, and at the same time offer parents the opportunity to practice fundamental math concepts with their children, based on materials I had created for them.

Originally I had planned to video myself explaining math concepts such as place value, number sense, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. When I first tried to video myself I had to consider things like lighting and position of props. It turned out to be time consuming and somewhat difficult.

Recently, I found a solution, and want to share it with you.  I use the iPad app, Explain Everything to create math review videos.  Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations.  It’s like an interactive whiteboard for your iPad! You can easily create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using Explain Everything.  It is possible to record your voice, add images, change pen colours and vary the thickness of your pen lines.  Not only that, but you can easily edit your video, and export to several different formats including, YouTube, Evernote, and email.

The intermediate division of my school is going to be focused on improving math skills this year, and it is my goal to email or host these videos in a place for my student’s parents to view before school starts, during the first few weeks or school, and at any time a review is needed.  So, the next time a parent of one of your students asks, “What can I do to help my child with math?” send them a link to one of your newly created math review videos.  It’s that easy!

Here’s a couple I made today.  Feel free to tell me what you think:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LIDSY9lwxo&w=420&h=345]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_cdWsxmYEk&w=420&h=345]

TED Talks for Kids in B.C.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo24PmD9eic&w=640&h=390]

As an elementary educator who encourages student involvement in many aspects of the education system, not just in the classroom, I am incredibly excited about the  independent TED event coming to Vancouver in September of this year.  TEDxKids BC is scheduled for Saturday September 17th, 2011 in Vancouver and will showcase student achievement and celebrate empowerment of students in our education system.  In a similar fashion to the larger and more prestigious TED Talks, TEDxKids BC showcases ordinary students and allows them a platform to share their experiences and inspire others to follow their dreams.

The organizers of TEDxKids BC are still looking for awe-inspiring kids who meet some of the following requirements:

  • Someone who has created a project that has made other people take notice and say: “Wow — what an amazing thing to do!”
  • Perhaps a kid who has helped others without thinking of him or herself — someone who just jumped in to lend a helping hand — and then perhaps the project grew and others liked the idea so much, that they too wanted to get involved.
  • Or maybe a speaker has a talent that they would like to share. They could tell the audience about how they developed this talent — or the effect they see in others when they perform.
If you can have a student in your class already, or know of a student that would fit well into some of the categories above, and would like to nominate himher then please fill out the this form.
You can also follow and promote TEDxKids BC through the following social media sites:

Free The Children: My Students Are The Change

Since attending my first We Day in Vancouver this year I have been amazed by all the people at Free The Children and their sister organization MeToWe.  Everything about the organization from the top down to the bottom is solely focus on creating opportunities for students around the world to be become aware of local and global issues, and to take action.  They do this with an adrenaline charged message that is impactful and long-lasting to our youth.

Free The Children make it easy for educators to create awareness and encourage students to stand up and speak out.  The educator resources can be used in many subject areas including social studies, health and career education, mathematics, and language arts.  The lesson plans are ready-made, easy to follow, well prepared, and are easily adapted or modified.  If that isn’t enough, when you contact Free The Children they will connect you with a highly motivated program coordinator who is well-educated, knowledgeable, great with students, and ready to assist the delivery of Free The Children’s message to your classroom/school whenever you need them.  Program coordinators have offered resources, small group sessions, presentations in assemblies, and support to students in delivery of the program.

A Calendar of Action

Throughout the school year Free The Children have carefully created opportunities for youth to become more aware of local and global issues around the world.  Most of their campaigns centre around creating awareness around Children’s Rights. Here’s a brief list of awareness campaigns:

Here’s how We Day Vancouver and  Free The Children inspired two grade 5/6 classrooms at Central Elementary Community School in Chilliwack, British Columbia to BE THE CHANGE!

Halloween For Hunger at Central Elementary Community School:

  • Instead of, or as well as, collecting candy on Halloween, students collected non-perishable foods items to donate to the local food bank
  • We set a goal of collecting 200 items of non-perishable food
  • Students used their social networks to get the message out
  • They told their friends and family members
  • They distributed flyers informing the community of their actions
  • They dressed in costume and collected with care
  • We collected over 630 items of non-perishable food
  • We smashed our goal!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFNdJi8Ex68]

Vow Of Silence At Central Elementary Community School:

  • Students went silent for the day in support of all children around the world whose Rights are violated
  • They arrived at school with tape over their mouths, with homemade badges, and colourfully designed t-shirts
  • The rest of the school were shocked by their actions and wanted to know more
  • Both grade 5/6 teachers structured their day to honour all participating students
  • The day was a complete success with many students remaining silent for the whole day.
  • The message was clear and well understood.  Children’s Rights should always be followed and never taken for granted

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HVtOUf_Gz8]

Professional Development Ideas for 21st Century Teaching

Does your school offer the professional development you’re need?

Recently I worked with my Twitter PLN on the topic of professional development.  Directly after the Tuesday Edchat session we worked on a document together, describing the kind of professional development opportunities we wished our schools districts offered.  We also discussed how we could developed our own in the interim.

Here’s a list of my favourite professional development opportunities I wished my district offered:

Personally, this type of collaborative effort excites me as an educator.  I would ultimately like to master my craft (education) and I feel like I move one step closer every time I connect with fellow educators from around the globe.

Many thanks to #Edchat, my PLN, the following educators – @actionhero, @missbartel, @21stcenturychem, @DrTimony, @cybraryman1, @davidwees, and everyone else who contributed to the document: http://bit.ly/aFuWAd

Do Your Learners Need A BOOST?

This post may point you in the right direction.  There is no acronym involved here and I did not develop the program.  BOOST is academic intervention for all learners.  The initial idea came from Rebecca and Richard DuFour’s book, “Whatever It Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn,” and a workshop they both delivered in Chilliwack, B.C.

Following this workshop one teacher, with the help of her peers, developed BOOST and together they’ve been using the program for the last two years.  As far as I know this type of intervention is only used in one elementary school in Chilliwack, but after a recent workshop presentation showcasing its merits I’m certain it will grow.

BOOST’s Goal:  To implement a system of effective intervention for students with their specific learning needs.

One of the main reasons BOOST was initiated in one elementary school in Chilliwack, B.C. was because of the gaps found in their grade 5/6’s fundamental understanding of math.  Because of this teachers found students were ill-prepared for middle school math at the time.  The second reason for introducing BOOST was because their LA schedule was proving to be very chaotic and almost counter-productive because of sheer number of students in the school.

Presently, Boost is focused on math intervention but may spread to languages arts in the future. It is designed specifically to tackle gaps in math fundamentals, such as understanding that numbers have differing value/worth depending on which place value column they are written in.    Here’s a brief introduction of how the program works.  You’ll see the successes and the challenges:

  • At beginning of year 1 students were given pre-assessment on place value.  Assessment was targeted to reveal specific gaps in place-value understanding.  First Steps In Math was used as the primary assessment tool.
  • In this particular school, with the help of school administration, 8 math groups were formed.  This helped in a variety of ways, firstly it enabled teachers to breakdown the skills required to successfully master understanding of place-value, and at the same time it allowed for groups of students who may not work well together to be separated.
  • In the 8 groups which were formed, there was an IEP group which stayed the same the whole year, an enrichment group which had already mastered the concept but worked on problem solving within a given concept (i.e. division) and the other 6 groups were divided based on the key understanding of each concept, they failed to understand.  Often, two different groups worked on the same key understandings (i.e. covered the same materials) because of the sheer number of learners.
  • After 6 weeks learners were given a post-assessment to determine they understood the new concepts taught.
  • After the results were obtained teachers decided whether to move on to a new topic o remain and explore the topic further.
  • If teacher’s decided to move on to a new topic and learners remained who had not successfully understand the previous topic, they formed the lowest group in the new topic.  For example, those learners (after 6 weeks) who continued to have difficultly with key understandings to successfully complete multiplication formed the lowest group when moving to division.

Format In A Nutshell:

  1. Pre-test skills set
  2. Assign groups
  3. Direct teach
  4. Re-assess

Here are a list of quote from people who have been involved with BOOST:
“Enhances student understanding of math concepts…”  “Targets the specific problems students are having…”  “Teachers discussing assessment and teaching strategies…”  “Students who are able to work at their own level…”  “Connects different classroom teachers with all intermediate teachers…”

At this particular school BOOST is still a work-in-progress.  Some of the challenges and areas that need to be addressed (according to the school) in order for BOOST to improve are as follows:

  • Creating the time for teachers to meet and plan outside of their lunch hours
  • Easier access to resource (resource binders, electronic resources etc..)
  • Varying teaching/learning styles
  • Generating more effective assessments to properly and easily identify where a learner is going wrong when tackling a new concept
  • Strategies to deal with students who are at the same level but for whatever reason shouldn’t be in the same class together
  • Looking to expand to language arts and beyond

Thanks to everyone at Promontory Elementary Community School for showcasing BOOST at the recent Pro-D event.  I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and look forward to implementing BOOST soon.  Great work guys!

Absolutely Love The Idea Of E-ngage Live!

I’m about to experiment with E-ngage Live and it may well blow my Health and Career Education Planning lessons into the ionosphere!

E-ngage Live caught my eye with its slogan, “Bringing the community into the classroom…”  It has always been important for me to connect my learner’s with their community at every opportunity.  It is the community, after all, who will employing them later in life.  Over the years I’m found that my learner’s become complacent or isolated in school and on occasion have difficulty seeing the bigger picture.  Inviting community members into schools helps combat this.

E-ngage Live provides a secure environment for students of all ages to practice strategies that they will need in the community.  What sets it apart from other educational platforms is it’s ability to connect small groups of students to highly skilled professional community members and subject-area specialists across the globe.

It is hoped that by participating in an event, learner’s make sense of the community they live in and the problems they face on a daily basis. It is marketed as cross-curricular giving education relevance and authenticity.

In the past E-ngage Live has facilitated student collaboration on a variety of topics including, citizenship, Internet safety, and road safety.  In the future, events are planned to cover topics such as, bullying, drug and alcohol issues, and environmental issues.

It was relatively easy to sign up for an account and now I’m patiently waiting to hear back.  I’ll be sure to let you know how things go.

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In The Classroom

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In the Classroom

  1. Create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and use technology as a method of communicating, collaborating and sharing ideas.  Your PLN may be local: educators in your school, nearby schools, or district wide. Alternatively, you may also decide to develop a virtual or global PLN using social networks such as Twitter , Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0, or for Canadian content CEET.
  2. Use a social networking tool such as Twitter to communicate with other education professionals.  Twitter is a micro-blogging web2.0 tool where education professionals share ideas, resources, ask for help, and provide opportunities to collaborate.  Updates, or Tweets as they are known, are restricted to 140 characters.  Therefore communication is to-the-point.  To find education professionals already using Twitter follow the link: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AmdX57Dqx0tEcE1fWkU1QlMwU2dxRGFibmhsOFoyYUE&hl=en_GB
  3. Participated in Twitter chat such as #edchat – a weekly discussion about education issues at 4pm PST on Tuesday’s, or #teachertuesday
  4. Use an RSS reader such as Google Reader.  An RSS reader brings all your favourite blogs to you instead of having to go out to the Internet to view them.  Once you’ve subscribed to some educational technology blogs, you can share your feeds with other educators.  My Shared Google Reader Feeds
  5. Take advantage of social bookmarking.  Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo and Delicious allow users to store their bookmarks on the web, which makes them accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.  Additionally, these tools allow users to share bookmarks with others.  In other words, if you find a great resource site and you’d like to share with your PLN you can do so with one click of the mouse.  A very powerful tool in the PLN arsenal.
  6. Participate in Virtual Professional Development (VPD).  Sometimes as educators we need to take control of our own learning because our Districts are unable to provide differentiated professional development for all teachers.  With this in mind, I’ve found workshops, webinar’s, and webcast’s covering a wide range of technology related topics everyday of the week.  Here is a link to view upcoming events.
  7. Join and participate in technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and blogs.  These spaces are kept current by educators who believe technology integration should be the norm and not an add on.  Here are links to my technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and some excellent technology blogs.
  8. Take some time to share your ideas with other teachers in your school.  Soon you’ll be learning from them.  Sharing and learning with and from others educators makes it easier to keep current with technology and technology integration in the classroom.