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CEP 810 Reflection

Over the course of the past 7 weeks, I have been busy teaching at a new school, with 26 new students, new staff and started my first semester of grad school.  If I were to explain how overwhelmed and exhausted I am, it may take me some time.  However, I am so happy to say that I throughly enjoyed taking my first course, CEP 810, Teaching for Understanding with Technology.  It was such an engaging class even though it was solely online.  I was able to communicate with classmates via Twitter, Zoom, ShareTracker, and blogs.

This class has taught me so much from reflecting on my learning through my own personal blog, using Wunderlist to keep track of my lists and “to-do’s” to creating a PLN using Popplet and how to repurpose tools that we do have in order to fit our needs (TPACK).

Not only did I learn new things, but was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone when having to learn something new only using YouTube and help forums.  I chose to knit an infinity scarf, something I have always wanted to do, but never found the time to do it.  I watched various YouTube videos in order to help me understand how to begin  knitting as well as finish it off.  It was incredible to experience this type of learning first hand and makes me want to implement in my classroom.

One other project that got me really thinking was the cooking with TPACK.  I loved the experience of only having three tools and going through the thought process of how and why I repurposed each tool in order to fit my needs.  It was interesting to see my reaction when playing the video back at how surprised I was that my bowl was able to cut my sandwich in half.  This was a great learning experience in remembering that although we may not always have the tools and technology that we need, we can repurpose the tools we have, in order to complete the same task.

In relating this back to my own classroom, I am excited to bring new ideas and technologies to my students.  The one I foresee starting with right away is Popplet.  The reason being is that it is colorful, easy to maneuver, drawing and text options are available, as well as the fact that I teach kindergarten.  We are currently working a lot with life cycles (apples and pumpkins), that I think this would be a great activity to use with Popplet.  It’s a more engaging, fun, and unique way for students to show me what they understand.  I also want to try something close to the cooking with TPACK with my students as well.  I think this would be a great way for me to show them how to repurpose or adapt their tools or technology to fit their needs.  Since I do teach kindergarten, getting them started with this mindset of repurposing at a young age will only benefit them in the future.

Some technologies that I have added for the parents use in my classroom this year are Remind and SignUpGenius.  Remind helps me to communicate with parents quickly.  I can send out class reminders as well as “chat” with parents about questions or concerns via Remind also.  Signupgenie is another technology I started this year with parents in signing up for volunteering or bringing items in.  It has worked out tremendously and saves me a lot more time and effort from sending papers back and forth to parents about these same things.

After taking this course, my hopes are to continue adding new technologies to the classroom.  I want to give my students the opportunity to learn in a new and innovating way with trial and error, creativity, and thought.  Since I do teach students at such a young age, I often find myself asking the question, “How can I teach this to 5 year olds?”  I think I get so caught up in their age, not realizing that many already have prior knowledge on using technologies.  I need to get in the mindset that they do have a little background working with technology and the more opportunities I provide them to continue using it will only enhance their learning and understanding.

With all this new technology and wanting to try it, I do have some frustration in that I have not had a working Elmo, Smartboard, or iPads for the first 6 weeks of school teaching kindergarten.  I want to try these new ideas and give my students opportunities, but right now am limited in that area.  I hope to continue learning technologies and playing around with them to gain more knowledge so that when I do have the technology available I can serve my students needs better.  For now, I will continue coming up with lessons that involve technologies and serve the purpose of enhancing my students knowledge and gets them excited about learning!

Cooking with TPACK

This week in my CEP 810 course we watched a discussion by Dr. Mishra.  You can find the video here.  In this video, Dr. Mishra discusses the importance of technocentrism.  He talks about the importance of changing our mindsets as teachers to use technology in the classroom in ways that are meaningful to our students.  We need to repurpose technology and design our lessons around them rather than just integrate technology because we have it.  Technology is at the fingertips of this generation and we need to help teach them how to use it and make their learning more meaningful.IMG_2570.JPG
In order to see this first hand, this week we were challenged to cook with TPACK.  My boyfriend chose three things from the kitchen for me to use without knowing what I had to make with the items.  One item needed to be a plate, a bowl, and a IMG_2569.JPGkitchen utensil.  He chose a small dinner plate, a mixing bowl, and a pasta server.  Then I asked him to draw a number from a
different bowl.  He picked #4 which meant I had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using these kitchen tools he had already chosen for me.  You can see my adventure in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich down below.

IMG_2568.JPGAs you can see in the video, it wasn’t too difficult for me to accomplish this task, however I had to “think outside the box”.  I had three tools and used them in ways I wouldn’t have normally thought of.  In the process, I didn’t even think I would use the mixing bowl and while completing the task, I ended up thinking of a way to use it (to cut the sandwich in half).

This lesson helped me to see the importance of giving my own students the opportunity to repurpose technology and see in what ways they can accomplish a given task with the use of minimal materials/technology.  I am excited to try this with them and see all of the different outcomes that the students have.  We each think differently and this lesson helps to push students way of thinking in a different direction.  Interested in experimenting yourself?  Here are the rules of the game from my CEP 810 course.  Give it a try!

Knit Wit!

IMG_2514This is the end of Week 5 (3 weeks in to our Networked Learning Project) and I am so happy to announce that I have successfully completed my infinity scarf!  Although this was challenging only being able to use YouTube and help forums in order to complete my Networked Learning Project, I did it!  I couldn’t be happier with my results either.  Interested in the process?  Check out my video
below to see a snippet!

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Finished product after sewing the ends together.

Now you might be thinking, “You did that all by watching YouTube videos and reading help forums?”  Yes, I did!  I can’t believe how much information is really out on the web.  By watching videos and reading forums, I learned how to choose yarn and needle size from (ralvery.com forum), casting on, knit stitch (from knittinghelp.com), combining spools of yarn (when one is finished – from Sheep and Stitch)  and sewing together the ends (from Simply Maggie) to create the infinity scarf.  I learned all of that in three weeks time, on top of having a full-time job along with all the other craziness going on in my life.  I will never use the excuses of not having time or not knowing how to do something.  I have a mass amount of information, help forums, videos, etc. at my fingertips, so why not use it?

While completing this project, I have found myself going back to YouTube to watch videos on how to use planbookedu.com, Evernote, Wunderlist, and the list goes on!  I am amazed at how much one source of technology could help me learn all sorts of other trades and technologies.  I am a very visual learner and YouTube videos are great for that.

Having said all that, why not use it in my classroom?  I think showing students what is out on the web and how to navigate to YouTube and help forums would be a huge benefit to them.  Not only will it help them in researching certain topics in school but also learn how to do something, use a new technology, and much more.

One way, I would incorporate the Network Learning Project in my classroom would be to watch a video on ‘how to carve a pumpkin’.  Since it is that time of year, this would be a great way to incorporate YouTube and help forums in my classroom.  Now, I do teach kindergarten, so I may have to navigate for them, but just showing them will help them to gain an understanding that they have access to millions of different activities and the how to’s.  By using YouTube they can later share the information at home with friends and family when wanting to learn a new task.

I am so excited to find something else to learn.  The holidays are coming up and I think a holiday wreath might be my next adventure!  I encourage you to choose something you are interested in learning how to make, build, or use, and give it a try!  What do you have to lose?

Popping with Popplet in Kindergarten!

This week, in week 5 of my CEP 810 course we were asked to design a lesson plan that involves a technology that we have learned so far this semester.  Immediately I felt a little bit overwhelmed.  My first thought was, “I teach kindergarten, how am I going to create a lesson integrating a new technology I learned?”  Well, I thought it over a couple of days and then it popped into my head.  Earlier in the semester, we were asked to create our Personal Learning Network using a new technology called Popplet.  When I was exploring Popplet, I came across the life cycle of a pumpkin that was created by another individual.  This is when it hit me!  It is that time of year, where I will be teaching about pumpkins and the life cycle of a pumpkin in another week.

pumpkinlifecycle
Picture taken from MsFultzCorner on Teachers Pay Teachers.

How perfect!  I got back on Popplet and decided to play around with it.  I ended up deciding to create my lesson so that students could use the drawing tool in Popplet and draw the 6 stages that a pumpkin goes through.

Before having my students just jump into using Popplet, I need to stimulate their prior knowledge.  My plan is to do this by listening to a song by Harry Kindergarten that will introduce pumpkins, create a chart with all of our thoughts and also by watching a YouTube video about the life cycle of a pumpkin, jotting down what we saw.  This allowed me to give students the access to the information, analyze the information that was given and then create their own understanding of the information through Popplet (Hobbs, 2011).

The purpose behind this lesson is to have the students learn a new technology, allow them to play, and most importantly, how to CREATE.  When creating the lesson I wanted my students to learn how to compose content using their creativity all while being aware of the purpose and audience with whom they will be sharing with (Hobbs, 2011).  I strived for my students to learn how to generate content that represents their learning (Thomas & Brown, 2011) in a fun, engaging, yet meaningful way.  With having kindergarteners, sometimes it is difficult implementing technology, however Popplet allows for students to have fun, play around with the tools, and create using the drawing tool.

What I learned from this, is that by incorporating technology, I am able to allow my students to show more of what they know individually, giving them the chance to learn, play, create, and work through trial and error.  Having them share with two other students when finished gave them a reason to strive for theirs to be great and proud to show off their work.  I am so excited to try this with my students and see how well they portray the life cycle of a pumpkin!

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.

Wunderlist

This week in CEP 810, we were asked to explore at least 2 types of technology that could help us “Get Things Done”.  I was very excited to check out some different technologies in order to choose the best one that fit my needs.  The two that I chose to explore were Evernote and Wunderlist.

wunderlist
Wunderlist (image taken from wunderlist website)

I ended up choosing Wunderlist to help me get things done.  The reason for this is that I have always made my “to-do” lists with a paper and pen and Wunderlist was pretty similar.  There is just something about crossing off my tasks that gives me a sense of accomplishment.

IMG_2455 IMG_2456

Wunderlist is simple, can be accessed from any device, and still gives me the same satisfaction when finished with a task.  One thing I wish that was included in Wunderlist is the ability to attach things like in Evernote.  I believe it is available, just not in the free version, and it just doesn’t fit my budget right now.  I am excited to continue using Wunderlist and have hope that it will help me stay organized and get things done.  I encourage you to check out Wunderlist to see if it fits your needs!  Here is a tutorial to help get you started!

Keep Calm and Cast On – NLP Entry #2

A couple weeks into my Networked Learning Project and I am feeling a little bit relieved.  I had decided that I wanted to knit an infinity scarf.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought all of the materials LAST winter and just never got around to starting it.  After my CEP810 course asked us to choose something we have always wanted to learn, I thought this was my perfect chance to give it a go!  After lots of research watching YouTube videos and discovering help forums, I have come a long way in just a few short weeks!

First, I began by looking through different infinity scarf patterns using ravelry.com to get some idea of what I wanted my scarf to look like.  I started my project already having size 15 needles and 3 spools of yarn that were purchased last year.  IMG_2336A few different forums recommended a size 17 needle or bigger.  One blog I found, stated that a smaller needle than the recommended one would work, the scarf just wouldn’t be AS chunky as the one that was displayed.  I was okay with that and just wanted to get started right away!  Both raverly.com and the blog contained a lot of information but seemed very overwhelming to me.  It was more difficult for me to follow along so I looked to YouTube for help.

I kept coming back to this one video that I mentioned in my previous post.  The woman in the video goes slow enough that I can keep up.  I am a IMG_2418very visual learner and the way the camera was angled I could see the lady’s hands just as mine were displayed while watching the video.  I decided to follow along with the lady in the video, however I decided on my own number of casts based on the width I wanted for my scarf.  It took me about 10 tries of casting on in order to determine the amount that I felt was exactly what I had intended.  I ended up with 25 cast on’s in order to get started.

Now that I had casted on, I needed to know how to actually knit.  When looking at the forums I kept getting confused with the number of knits and pearls that each pattern had suggested.  I was getting very frustrated and overwhelmed with all of the different suggestions.  I am a visual learner and when I watch someone first and repeat their steps, I tend to get the hang of it a bit more.  The video was definitely the most helpful and  I continued to watch it and started working on an “English stitch”.  This seemed to be the easiest for me and once I got the hang of it, I found it to be fun and relaxing.

Something that I definitely got stuck on was slipping the stitch off to begin my next row.  The ends of my scarf look different at the beginning and I think that is due to the way my hands were placed when slipping the stitch off.  After halfway through, I got my hands and the stitch to be consistent and it looked much neater.

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Slip stitch at the beginning.
IMG_2462.JPG
Slip stitch once I got the hang of things.


IMG_2454I am now done with one spool of yarn and ready to begin another.  I have already been looking up some forums on how to conjoin the two pieces of yarn and make it as unnoticeable as possible.  One forum gives a suggestion of what to do and another YouTube video has given me some insight on it as well.  I am so excited to finish my scarf and be able to put it to use!