Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Four Critical Digital Skills We Are Failing to Teach Our Students

“... Young people as a whole have enthusiastically integrated a variety of networked media into their daily lives, and can text, upload photos and blog with relative ease. However, using media effortlessly isn’t necessarily the same thing as using it well. Young people are mistakenly considered experts in digital technologies because they’re so highly connected, but they are still lacking many essential digital literacy skills.”[1]Classrooms are now filled with students that, from a generational standpoint, are coined, digital natives; born into the age of digital technology and familiar with computers and the internet from an early age.[2] Does an increase in digital experiences, however, directly translate to a strong understanding of digital literacy and citizenship? Unfortunately, many teachers are assuming yes.

Internet access has increased exponentially over the past decade and statistics are reporting that, within Canada, only 7% of students have no form of internet access while at home; 6% find access through a library or other community center and 1% only have access while attending school.[3]With such high frequency of internet availability students are able to spend increasing amounts of time online with Canadians logging an average of 4 hours 53 minutes of internet use each day, with up to 1 hour 51 minutes of this being through a mobile device.[4]With increased availability, however, comes increased challenges with 37% of students reporting that they have had something mean or cruel done to them online that has made them feel badly about themselves.[5]Furthermore, 73% of students admit to using the internet to commit at least one act of academic dishonesty at the high school level.[6]If the prevalence of digital experiences is a vast as the statistics imply, then why are students lacking in the areas of digital citizenship and literacy? I argue that it is the responsibility of the classroom teacher to incorporate digital citizenship and literacy outcomes into their curriculums at all grade levels. To support this study I will identify four critical spheres of understanding that I believe need to be implemented by classroom teachers at all grade levels and subject-areas.

            Many hours of professional development are spent on strategies and programs designed to help educators incorporate technology into curriculum outcomes; even more time is spent discussing and installing various types of hardware and software into schools. While the actual technology and appropriate professional development for teachers are incredibly important as we move forward with 21st century education, I believe that there are four critical spheres of digital understanding that our education system is failing to address appropriately: the creation and management of an online identity, netiquette, how to assess the quality and authenticity of online information, and referencing and digital copyright laws.

            The first of these areas, the creation and management of an online identity, is essential for helping students understand that their online time is not anonymous and that the information stakeholders can find about them online can help determine future job offers, program acceptances, scholarship offers, sports drafts, and etcetera. The term digital footprint refers to the traces or footprints one leaves online through active actions (social media profiles, blogs, comments) and passive actions (cookies stored by web browsers, technology use statistics)[7]. Students should be familiar with the term digital footprint and aware of their own unique digital footprint from an early age. As students reach an age where they are participating in social media they need to be taught the importance of appropriate usernames, an identity required for everything from email and Facebook to Instagram, Kik, and Snapchat. Not only should students be taught how to create an appropriate username that suitably represents them but they should also be aware of how using the same username across multiple platforms assists them in creating a stronger, more tailored online identity. It is important to note, however, that utilizing the same username is not the same as incorporating the same password for multiple platforms. A major component of ones online identity has to do with online privacy and how to effectively navigate and customize the privacy settings for various programs. Students need to be taught how to access a program’s privacy settings, on both computer and mobile interfaces, and how to customize them to appropriately meet the needs of the program’s purpose. For example, a student may host a public blog to showcase their personal writing pieces but have a private Instagram profile where they share personal photos with close friends. By learning how to create and manage their own online identity, students are forced to become more cognizant of what they are posting online and can help prevent embarrassment and disappointment as they mature.

            The second sphere focuses on netiquette, the term used to refer to appropriate etiquette for online and digital platforms.[8]  Educators, parents, and law-enforcement officials, have all spent time discussing and/or addressing issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, and online defamation, which all stem directly from lack of netiquette. Virginia Shea, author of “Netiquette”, identifies as many as ten online netiquette rules that should be adhered to by any person who is using online platforms of any design.  Of the ten, I believe a minimum of four should be taught by educators to students beginning in their elementary years;
1. Remember that the person on the receiving end of an 
interaction is another human and that all real-life regulations 
and courtesies apply.
2. There is a time and place for different interactions; what 
works in a private text to a friend does not always work in an 
email to a relative.
3. Everything you write/post/share should be a positive 
representation of yourself.
4. Respect the privacy of others and think before you 
forward/screenshot/tag/share information that is not yours to share.[9]
These are skills that can be incorporated at the elementary level by having students email newsletters home to relatives, interact with their peers through an online classroom community, create digital portfolios, or connect with an online pen-pal from another area of the school or world. As students mature they can transfer their netiquette skills to their personal social media interactions, email correspondences, and online activities.

            The third of these areas, assessing the quality and authenticity of online information, is not only an area of concern for educators, but for students as well. In fact, 35% of students identify that they wish their school would teach them how to search for information online and an additional 51% wish they knew how to tell if the information they found was factual and appropriate.[10]Of the four spheres, assessing the quality and authenticity of online information is the most closely related to pre-existing curriculum outcomes as educators ask students to find subject-specific information for every class offered, yet this is still an area of concern for many students. Edutopia column author, Julie Coiro, identifies four dimensions in which students need to focus on when presented with online information. In order to effectively critique information from online sources students first need to be able to assess the relevance of a particular piece in relation to their purpose. Students should then be comfortable cross-checking information with additional websites and primary sources to evaluate if the information they have found is factual. Lastly, students should learn how to determine what personal bias the author may possess and how reliable they might be in relation to the context in which the information is found.[11]While 45% of students identify that they do learn this information from their teachers, the remaining majority of 55% needs to be addressed.[12] By introducing these skills at an early age and solidifying them as students progress through high school, educators are assisting students in thinking critically about information presented to them.

            The fourth and last sphere, referencing and digital copyright laws, is essential for ensuring students are giving credit where credit is due and preventing copyright infringements that are commonly occurring by accident. The assumption is that if it is found online it is free for the taking, and this misconception is held for everything from intellectual property and images to video and music files. Students are regularly posting material for educational and personal uses that includes information and various forms of media that were found online. Within the school, educators not only have to teach students how to understand digital copyright legislations and how to reference appropriately, but they also need to model it themselves within their classrooms. Teachers are commonly finding information, videos, images, and activities online for their students and, while educational copyright does have some differences, students do not fall under this umbrella once they leave the classroom. It is imperative that students see educators modeling the appropriate use of references in their work as it will help solidify this skill for students. By educating students on the legality of digital copyright and how to reference work in multiple contexts there is a decreased chance of students inadvertently committing plagiarism.  

            By addressing each of these four spheres within the classroom context, educators help ensure that students are representing themselves appropriately online, thinking critically about information being presented to them, and utilizing online resources within the context of copyright legislations. While digital natives can definitely be considered the experts when it comes to navigating certain online platforms and connecting via digital worlds, they require guidance and support to navigate many of the critical components of digital citizenship and literacy. Without the incorporation of these skills it is as if, “our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty.”[13]

Bibliography
Burt, Ronnie. (2012). “The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.”The Edublogger. Available online at: http://www.theedublogger.com/2012/02/09/the-        educators-guide-to-copyright-fair-use-and-creative-commons/

Coiro, Julie. (2014). “Teaching Adolescents How To Evaluate the Quality of Online Information.” Edutopia. Available online at: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/evaluating-      quality-of-online-info-julie-coiro

Honeycutt, Kevin. (2014). “Personal Tweet”. Available online at: https://twitter.com/adnanedtech/status/521042568528670720

Kharbach, Med. (2011-2014). “A Great Guide on Teaching Students About Digital Footprint.” Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.Available online at: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/04/a-great-guide-on-teaching-students.html

Lessons in Learning. (Accessed on 2014). “Liars, fraudsters and cheats: Dealing with the growth of academic dishonesty”. Canadian Council on Learning. Available online at: http://www.cclcca.ca/CCL/Reports/LessonsInLearning/LinL20100707AcademicDishone  sty.html

Oxford Dictionary. (2014). “Digital Native”. Available online at:http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/digital-native

Tricider. (2011-2014). “What digital skills do students need for the 21st century?” Available online at: http://www.tricider.com/t/decide/?show=2gKE

Shea, Virginia. (1997). “Netiquette.”  Albion Books. Available online at: http://www.albion.com/bookNetiquette/0963702513p4.html

Springer Science & Business Media. (2014). “Digital Native Fallacy: Teachers still know better when it comes to using technology.” Science Daily. Available online at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141020104938.htm

Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and Threats.” Media Smarts. Available online at: http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publicationreport/full/YCWWIII_Cybe            rbullying_FullReport_2.pdf

Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills.” Media Smarts. Available online at: http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publicationreport/full/YCWWIII_Expe            rts_or_Amateurs.pdf

Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Life Online.” Media Smarts.Available online at:  http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publicationreport/full/YCWWIII_Life            _Online_FullReport_2.pdf

Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Online Privacy, Online Publicity.” Media Smarts. Available online at: http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/pdfs/publicationreport/full/YCWWIII_Online_Privacy_Online_Publicity_FullReport.pdf 

We Are Social. (2014). “Social, Digital & Mobile Around the World”. Available online at: http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-around-the-world-january-   2014/61



[1] Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills.” Media Smarts. Page 1.
[2]Oxford Dictionary. (2014). Digital Native. Available online at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/digital-native
[3] Steeve, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills.” Media Smarts. Page 8.
[4] We Are Social. (2014). “Social, Digital & Mobile Around the World”. Available online at: http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-around-the-world-january-2014/61
[5] Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and Threats.” Media Smarts. Pg 2.

[6] Lessons in Learning. (Accessed on 2014). “Liars, fraudsters and cheats: Dealing with the growth of academic dishonesty”. Canadian Council on Learning. Available online at: http://www.ccl-cca.ca/CCL/Reports/LessonsInLearning/LinL20100707AcademicDishonesty.html

[7] Kharbach, Med. (2011-2014). “A Great Guide on Teaching Students About Digital Footprint.” Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.Available online at: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/04/a-great-guide-on-teaching-students.html
[8]Shea, Virginia. (1997). “Netiquette.”  Albion Books. Available online at: http://www.albion.com/bookNetiquette/0963702513p4.html

[9] lbid.,
[10] Steeves, Valerie. (2014). “Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Experts or Amateurs? Gauging Young Canadians’ Digital Literacy Skills.” Media Smarts. Page 46.
[11]Coiro, Julie. (2014). “Teaching Adolescents How To Evaluate the Quality of Online Information.” Edutopia. Available online at: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/evaluating-quality-of-online-info-julie-coiro
[12] lbid, 36.
[13] Honeycutt, Kevin. (2014). “Personal Tweet”. Available online at: https://twitter.com/adnanedtech/status/521042568528670720

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Charlie Appelstein: No Such Thing As A Bad Kid

     On Friday all of "T-Division's" teaching staff and EAs had the opportunity to attend a PD session with Charlie Appelstein; a youth-care specialist, author, and father. Being that we are now into December, and only have a short ten days until the Christmas break, I was apprehensive about attending a PD session when there is so much to do in so little time left. On the other hand, classroom energy is always high at this time of year so it was nice to have a day away to think and recharge! Mr. Appelstein was an incredibly entertaining presenter and shared a lot of helpful information while infusing humor and "random bursts of positivity", as he called it.
     Our 5.5 hour session focused on how to understand and respond to students who are living with emotional and behavioural challenges, although Mr. Appelstein carefully pointed out that these strategies can be used with all students: from high-functioning to at-risk or special needs. Here are a few of my notes that I took away from this PD:

Quick Tips 
- Effective education is all about building relationships
- Add in please and thank-you
     - It is crazy how much educators demand things from students
       without minimum courtesy
     - Yelling meets your needs, not your students needs
- Think, "Does every students wake up thinking Mr/Mrs ______
  thinks I'm awesome"
- Believing x Relevance = Motivation
- Greet students with positivity
     - High Fives
     - Fist Bump
- Incorporate random bursts of positivity throughout your lesson
- Help parents and you will help kids
- Humour builds relationships but not sarcasm

Activity Suggestions
- Create business cards for each of your students and hang them
  on the wall
     - Have students promise to mail in their official business card
       when they're done school and working in their chosen field
- Have students address post cards at the start of the year and keep
  them in your desk
     - Send good messages home throughout the year
     - Much easier to do when the post-card to ready to go!

Understanding At-Risk Students
- The brain has three sectors: logical, emotional, and survival
     - Students with trauma live in the survival system
- Don't label students: every kid is a Mercedes-Benz, some just
  come into the classroom on empty
     - Hope is humanity's fuel
- Think of an at-risk student in your class/school, can you think of
  if they have one true best friend
     - At-risk student's don't have true friends
     - They don't trust others
- Happy people have:
     1) Meaningful Social Connections
     2) Strong Social Support Networks
     - We need to help at-risk students fill in the gaps in these areas
- Life isn't what you see, it's what your perceive
     - When you change the way you look at the challenging kid, the
        kid changes

How To Respond to Challenging Behaviours
- Get mad at choices, not children
- Reframing
     - Take something negative & reframe positively
     1) Understanding (why is the behaviour happening)
     2) Reframe (change to a positive)
          - Acting rude: you have an amazing ability to affect people!
     3) Squeeze (give encouragement of where they can use that skill)
- Take about the future positively, like it has already happened
     - "How are we going to celebrate next week when you have the best
        week ever"
- At times you can't change the child, so change the environment
     - Sort behavioural goals into three baskets
     1) Basket A: non-negotiable topics
          - usually related to safety
     2) Basket B: compromise
     3) Basket C: ignore it
- Our emotions cause use to misuse the tools we have
     - Even if we know how to manage, sometimes our self-esteem
       takes a hit and our emotions get in the way
     - Respond instead of react
- Affect Scale
     - Balance out a child's actions
     - As they get loud, you get quiet
- When responding:
     - Two arm lengths away
     - 45 degree angle
     - Eye level or below (don't stand while they sit)
     - Ask open-ended questions
     - Repeat back to them

Standard Behaviour Management
- "Believing is seeing"
- Our school is awesome if you do well, if you misbehave life isn't fun
- You have to earn our trust
* This is what most schools function under

Unconditional Support
- "Seeing is believing"
- We care about you no matter what
- We understand where you are at and will help you get where you need
   to be
- You are strategically assisting all students to fill in where they have
   developmental gaps
_______________________________________________________

     My personal reflection is only a tiny bit of information that was covered in today's presentation. To learn more about Charlie Appelstein, and his work with teachers and parents, please explore the following links:
Charlie Appelstein Professional Website
- Charlie Appelstein Facebook Page

_______________________________________________________
 
     Thank you to Charlie Appelstein for visiting us out in rural Manitoba, I am left with a lot of practical information to utilize in my classroom!
Thank you to the admin and staff in "T-Division" for providing us all with another great PD opportunity :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Interactive Notebooks (I.N.B) in Grade 8: Front Matter & Rational Numbers

     Last year I used Interactive Notebooks with my Grade 8-10 Math classes with some success. My Grade 8 and 9 students used them the most but my implementation lacked direction and I don't feel my students got as much out of them as they should have. I still taught my lessons regularly and then we would do an Interactive Notebook entry at the end of that topic as a type of review activity. So, while useful, I wasn't using them to my full potential and my students could pick up on that,

     This year I was much more prepared and had class sets of notebooks for all student ordered before summer break even started! While I found lots of great ideas through basic Google searches and Pinterest, I spent the majority of my time scrolling through the great resources offered by Jennifer at 4mula Fun! Here is what I recommend:

- Introductory I.N.B Blog Post

- Webinar Video Page (Over 2 hrs of video explanations!)

- The 4mula Fun Teachers-Pay-Teachers store
(I bought the Flippable Template Pack & use it all the time)

     Since I found Jennifer's sharing so helpful and starting my journey, I wanted to return to the favour and share some things that I'm doing too (who knows, maybe someone will find it helpful!). All of the pictures come from my copy of our Grade 8 Math Interactive Notebook which is kept at the front of our classroom at all times for students to reference if they are absent.

     What I like about Interactive Notebooks:
- All students have standardized notes (I know everyone has the
  same information)
- I can easily say, "Check page ___" when students ask a quick
  question
- All of their notes are in one place, easy to find, and don't get lost
   in their binder
- The foldable aspect provides an activity for kinaesthetic learners
- Students have to focus more on the information when making sure
  they are putting it in the right spot
- I have easy formative assessment products through the output
  activities
- Students have built-in flashcards from the foldables for when
  they study
- They headings and organization helps teach note-taking &
  study skills

     We follow the Input-Output rule where, if you open up your I.N.B, the left-hand side is the Input page (meaning the information comes from the teacher) and the right-hand side is the Output page. The input side is what essentially replaces the traditional notes that we would have normally taken. The output side is a short activity or reflection piece that is completed independently by each student. It is completed anywhere from 1-5 days after and is used as a formative assessment tool for me to gauge where the student's understanding is. Here is a copy of the anchor chart I made for our room explaining this system.
interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks

     We are currently finishing up our second unit of the school year but I wanted to start with sharing our introductory pages (Front Matter) and our pages for our first unit on Rational Numbers. I have tried to format this page so that the pictures reflect the input-output style of the I.N.B. Please note that my copy of the I.N.B does not have completed output activities, I include the activity instructions since it is used by students who missed that day.

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks
We start with our Table of Contents which states:
- Input or Output (along left-hand margin)
- Page Title
- Page Number
*I had students leave 2 blank pages after this to expand their Table of Contents as the year progressed
interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks


I provided all students with a small copy of our Course Outline as an input entry. 
As an output entry I had students list:
- 5 things they learned from the course outline
- 5 resources/supports to assist them in the classroom
interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks
We used the Respect for Diversity program at the start of the year and this Multiple Intelligences Quiz was a portion of that program as an input entry.
As an output entry we revisited page 4 before our first test and reviewed different study tips based off of students' Multiple Intelligences.

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks


This is the only example of in our I.N.B that broke our input-output routine.
At the start of the year I had student's create their own "S.M.A.R.T" Math Goals.
Now that we are in our second term, students have filled in a second goal on page 6 as well.

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks                                 interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks

Operations with Fractions (input)
- Definition of a Fraction
- Adding & Subtracting Fractions (different denominators)
- Adding & Subtracting Fractions (same denominators)
- Dividing Fractions
- Multiplying Fractions
- Examples of Each Operation

Working with Fractions (output)
- Least to Greatest Numberline
- Identify Errors in Incorrect Questions

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks

Operations with Integers (input)
- Definition of an Integer
- Adding with Positive Integers
- Adding with Negative Integers
- Subtracting Integers
- Multiplying Integers
- Dividing Integers
- Examples of Each Operation

Working with Integers (output)
- Equation Practice & Reflection

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks

Repeating Decimals as Fractions (input)
- 2 Step Explanations
- Examples

Equations with Repeating Decimals (output)
- 3 Equation Practice Questions

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks
What is a Rational Number (input)
- Definition
- Examples & Non-Examples
*I find it easier to do this definition last instead of first because students have already had lots of practice working with all of the rational number forms

Rational Number Forms (input)
*5pg book foldable: pictures continue below
- Pg 1: Integer or Decimal Example
- Pg 2: Fraction Form of their Integer/Decimal
- Pg 3: Equivalent Fraction of their Fraction Form
- Pg 4: Location on a Numberline

interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooksinteractive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks
interactive notebook, INB, I.N.B, interactive notebook grade 8 math, INB in grade 8 math, how to start interactive notebooks












____________________________________________________

Whew! Are you picture-overloaded yet?

     This is everything that was included for our introduction and first unit with our Interactive Notebooks. If my short explanations are not sufficient please do not hesitate to comment below and ask any and all questions you may have! I would never have been able to start if it wasn't for teachers helping me so I would be more than happy to pay it forward and help you!

*Thank you again to Jennifer from 4mula Fun for creating great products and helping me get started.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

December Currently

If you haven't encountered a "Currently" post before, it is just a fun post at the beginning of each month that serves as a way to share what is Currently going on in your life! You can link up and share your own "Currently" post by visiting the wonderful Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.




     I can't believe it is already December! The last currently post I did was ALL the way back in September and it seems like everything has just flown by since then. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year and I love getting together with friends and family that we don't see very often. From a teachers perspective, however, this time is extremely chaotic!

     One awesome thing is that December brings back hockey season and I am my husband's number 1 fan! I usually drag along my mother-in-law or friends as well so it is the perfect social outing :)

A photo posted by Kirsten Thompson (@misslwbt) on


A video posted by Kirsten Thompson (@misslwbt) on

Friday, November 28, 2014

First Steps in Math - Day 1

    Today I began the First Steps in Math program with four other educators from our division. Several years ago our division sent one of our colleagues to the First Steps in Math training program and he has now spent time each year educating other teachers in our division and was actually trained by David McKillop, who I saw last year in Brandon.

Turtle River School Division, first steps in math program
My new books (provided by our division): the First Steps in Math Number Sense course book & work book.


     First Steps in Math was developed in Australia in the early 1990's as a means to identify the conceptual phases that all students go through and analyze how best to address any gaps that may occur in their understanding. In their own words, First Steps in Math helps teachers:

- build or extent their own knowledge of the mathematics underpinning
   the curriculum

- understand how students learn mathematics so that they can make sound
  professional decisions

- plan learning experiences that are likely to develop the mathematics
  outcomes for all students

- recognize opportunities for incidental teaching during conversations and
  routines that occur in the classroom

     Our first full-day session, of four, focused on the background research behind the program and how the program is organized. We spent the majority of the morning discussing these introductory topics and then looked at two chapters to see how the program looks in practice. It is important to note that we are only focusing on the Number curricula for right now, but the program offers the same resources for Measurement, Geometry, Space, Data Management, and Probability.

     In regards to Number, this resource centers on two main areas: the individual concept development and how it ties into a continuum of understanding. The program identifies eight Key Understandings for this topic and allots an entire chapter to each one. This chapter includes:

- a concise explanation of the key understanding

- a series of learning activities organized by grade level (K-8)

- a case study

- a "did you know" article that discusses possible misconceptions

Personally I like the way the chapters are set up as they are to-the-point and easy to follow; I can see myself being able to easily pull out information as needed without having to re-read full chapters. The program also includes a section of Diagnostic Tests that help showcase a student's understanding and pin-point possible learning activities to help strengthen weak concepts.

    My only experience teaching math is in Grades 8-10 so I found it very interesting to see how the foundational numeracy skills are developed in younger grades. While I have several students I can think of that are struggling with some misconceptions I already feel more prepared in appropriately assessing their area of difficulty and recognize that their challenge most likely stems directly from a foundational concept as opposed to a higher-order topic.

     Here is an example of the types of questions we analyzed today as a group:

 When given a set of numbers and asked to order them from least to greatest, a student answered
303, 304, 305, 298, 299

What do you think the student's misconception was?
   

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Encouraging Student Voice Through Social Media

     I am currently working on my Master's degree in the Curriculum & Planning Stream with a focus on tech integration in the classroom. My first class, Educational Issues, involves the completion of four different assignments: 1 blog post, 1 presentation, and 2 papers.This past Saturday our professor drove up to our community (abut a 2hr drive for him) to watch our presentations. We were each responsible for creating a 15min presentation on a topic of our choice and participated in a Q & A session immediately following.

     My presentation topic was Encouraging Student Voice Through Social Media and I chose to use Prezi as my visual element. Although the majority of my information was verbally presented, here is the Prezi I put together to accompany my information:


Hello??? Is Anyone Still There?

   
Hello! (2004). Uploaded to Flickr by Ken. Available online at:http://bit.ly/1xRryKG
     It is hard to believe that a full month and a half has gone by since I  have actively blogged here! On one hand it seems like forever... and on the other hand I don't know where the time has gone because it seems to have flown by so quickly. It is not that I didn't want to be blogging... in fact I've started several posts that, for some reason, I just didn't finish. It seemed as though there were too many aspects pulling my attention away from here and my head just wasn't in it. The past six weeks have included:

- Our student council's first spirit week
- Our football team's rodeo canteen
- Football play-off season
- A week home from school with severe flu
- Travelling to Brandon, Portage, and Winnipeg for various meetings
- The start of hockey season
- Finishing our home renovations
- Working on my Master's program
- Football Awards Night (provincial and local levels)
- and more

     While I recognize that I needed a break in order to focus on other aspects of my life, I missed this blog and I missed reflecting on my career and my interests. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine and getting some of those ideas out of my head and onto the screen... the question is: is anyone still there to read them?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Manitoba Provincial Report Card Pressure

“...teachers indicated that, on occasion, they had to phone in sick in order to complete their report cards on time and they acknowledged that others did so as well.”[i] In 2010 the Manitoba government announced the development of a provincial report card that would standardize assessment reporting across the province using both a parent-friendly format and plain language.[ii] While provisions were put in place to gain meaningful feedback from teachers, parents, and administrators before the mandatory implementation in the fall of 2013, an unstandardized execution has left many Manitoba teachers feeling the pressure.

In a 2014 survey conducted by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society sixty-five percent, of a total eight-hundred survey participants, shared that they spent more than ten hours writing detailed comments for the new Provincial Report Card and forty-two percent shared that they prepare report cards for more than one-hundred students.[iii]Furthermore, “too many job demands” topped the list of sources of stress for Manitoba teachers; up four percent, to sixteen, since 2004.[iv] I argue that a mandate like the Provincial Report Card needs to be implemented effectively and efficiently in a manner that allows assessment reporting to shift towards a more standardized template while providing educators with sufficient support to allow a continuous transition.

When introducing the Provincial Report Card mandate school divisions were forced to address the logistics of appropriate training, the technology utilized to generate their gradebooks, and continued support for staff, among other matters. Sufficient training, however, appears different depending on which school division or even which school a teacher works in. According to the survey mentioned previously, completed by the Manitoba Teacher’s Society, only thirty-nine percent of teachers received division-wide training from a Manitoba Education representative and sixteen percent of teachers received no training at all.[v]The remaining fifty-five percent received training in various formats including sessions hosted by their administration and independent-training from Manitoba Education support documents.[vi]When addressing technology the issue is not any more standardized as school divisions across the province are using software such as Edline, Power School, and Maplewood, or developing their own personalized systems to develop their gradebooks. As each platform offers its own unique formatting options and features, divisions have been forced to work independently to support the various glitches that can occur with any technology system. With the shear amount of time the reporting process can take, teachers have felt pressured to do multiple-copies of their documents to work around some of the programming problems, “I have had the program freeze mid-reporting. Crash and delete all my records and then have to re-write all my reports (I’ve since been writing them in Word and saving the file – just in case).”[vii]With one year of mandatory implementation under their belts, teachers and divisions are still seeking continued support as the November report card period is on the horizon.

As a new teacher, who entered into the profession in the same year as the introduction of the Provincial Report Cards, I have felt the frustrations of insufficient training and unreliable technology. Is Maplewood transferring my records onto the report card correctly? Should I spend the extra time writing and saving my records in a word document incase the program crashes? Is this comment appropriate and free of any superlatives? What about my next eighty comments? While the template of the Provincial Report Card is standardized the uniformity has stopped there and, unfortunately, this leaves teachers and divisions to address how to meet the unique needs of their situation.




[i] Dr. David Dibbon. (2004). “It’s About Time – A Report on the Impact of Workload on Teachers and Students”. Page 18. Available online at: https://www.mun.ca/educ/people/faculty/ddibbon/pdf/teacher%20workload%20final%20version.pdf
[ii] Manitoba Education. (2010). “News Release: Premier Unveils Innovative Changes To Report Cards, In-Service Days”. Available online at: http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=2010-9-01&item=9642
[iii] Judy Edmund- Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2013). “Wild Cards: Many Teachers Feel Lost In The Shuffle”. The Manitoba Teacher. Canada. Volume 92. Number 7. Pages 13-14. Available online at: http://www.mbteach.org/library/Archives/MBTeacher/June14_MBT.pdf
[iv] Judy Edmund- Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2013). “Stress Tops Class Size Concern”. The Manitoba Teacher. Canada. Volume 92. Number 4. Page 7. Available online at: http://www.mbteach.org/library/Archives/MBTeacher/Jan-Feb14_MBT.pdf
[v] Judy Edmund- Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2013). “Wild Cards: Many Teachers Feel Lost In The Shuffle”. The Manitoba Teacher. Canada. Volume 92. Number 7. Page 12. Available online at: http://www.mbteach.org/library/Archives/MBTeacher/June14_MBT.pdf
[vi] lbid.
[vii] Judy Edmund- Manitoba Teachers’ Society. (2013). “Wild Cards: Many Teachers Feel Lost In The Shuffle”. The Manitoba Teacher. Canada. Volume 92. Number 7. Page 13. Available online at: http://www.mbteach.org/library/Archives/MBTeacher/June14_MBT.pdf