I must say that the two classes in film studies during my B.A. 25 years ago didn’t prepare me much for making a movie. When I was taking pictures and media I found that Dutch Angles just didn’t add to the emotions I was trying to convey. I was also nervous about creating something longer than 3 minutes as this is the attention span of most people but then once I started putting in media I quickly realized that I had to try and keep it close to ten minutes. This project had a lot of value for me as it really helped me to reflect on a lot of things including:
- My big takeaways from COETAIL
- How I plan and implement a unit
- What I am missing in my teaching of a unit and some steps for improvement
- How I am implementing technology
- Most importantly, what my students think about the unit.
Course Five put together all of the ideas that I learned since last year and although it is the end of my COETAIL learning, it is also the beginning of constant reflection on how I design and implement technology rich units.
This unit allowed for a lot of technology integration through a variety of levels in the SAMR Model. The Electronic book significantly modified the task as students were able to learn more about design and visual hierarchy when creating the look of their book and then create a product that looked exactly the way they wanted it to through experimentation of a lot of different layouts, fonts, colours and images. Using Padlet as a tool for curating resources modified how the students access information and share resources with each other and also substituted for sticky notes when organizing questions according to the Lines of Inquiry in the unit.
Using Flipgrid also redefined the learning experience by providing the opportunity for students to communicate with a class on the other side of the world. Finally, our online learning journals gave students an opportunity to provide feedback on each other’s writing projects that wouldn’t have been possible during home learning.
Active learning and classroom management
It is always easy to teach and manage students when they are interested in the topic and the material we were researching together, the design of the tasks, and opportunities for learning outside the classroom during service, guest speakers, and field trips really got the students engaged. From the beginning stages of the unit to researching and presenting their work all of the students were very motivated to work on their own, or learn together in small groups with very little teacher intervention. Once given instructions I found that my class quickly got down to learning, making, sorting, or researching. I think that this is because of the agency they had in directing the topics of whole class research through asking questions, choosing when to have some of our lessons by using flexible time tables, and also choosing their topics for individual research.
As this unit was planned originally around ISTE standards I had a clear idea and learning experience that would lead students to success and understanding of the importance of each standard. I usually put the learning goal up in the classroom through the use of a split screen and I used the language of the ISTE standards for students to help them recognize the purpose of the lesson. Some of the experiences that helped the students to achieve the standards were.
- 1C Giving Feedback: The class used the Ladder of feedback that I created during the student’s first draft of their own topic in class, and the final draft online in their learning journals.
- 3C Curate information: The students used a Padlet to organize their research sources to share with their classmates.
- 3D build real-world knowledge and 7B investigate real-world issues. Student used researching skills to find out about the world around them and some problems that come with over-consumption, they also researched ways to take action. We also built knowledge together as a class through watching videos and reading articles online together.
- 7A connect with learners from a different culture: The class connected with a class in Brazil using Flipgrid to find out about their culture, how they implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and to learn some geography and questioning skills.
Originally I had created a process for students to have agency of choosing how they were to be assessed. We worked through this slideshow to think carefully about what we did, what we learned, and what they thought was important. We also talked about the many ways to express understanding to give students ideas and choices about creative ways to share their understanding. I was doing this lesson in school on a Friday when the email came through that we would be closing the next week due to COVID 19. So the other Grade Three teachers and I had to adapt.
We decided to create something simple that would help students demonstrate some of their learning, and show an understanding of the Central Idea, a Brain Frame. I always love using brain frames or thinking routines for summative assessments as they are a quick snapshot of what the students understand. For this one, we decided on using a relationship brain frame to develop an action plan which they could later reflect on. The students took this assessment as another opportunity to have agency over their actions and we got a great variety of ideas, reasons, and details in a quick and easy to read page. This action plan also tied in very nicely to our Line of Inquiry about responsibility and helped students to reflect on their own choice in relation to the Central Idea.
Acceptable use and academic honesty.
One of the big lessons that we worked on during class, and for online learning was the citation of resources. As the students were making electronic books using book creator this was very easy. As the students are only in Grade 3 they are just learning about academic honesty and realizing the importance of giving credit to other’s work. We worked as a school previously with the librarian to develop horizontal alignment of the expectations in each grade and for us, it was to teach using open source image use and creating a rudimentary bibliography with links to sources. Luckily I had taught this during their first go at researching and writing non-fiction writing so most of the students didn’t need reminders to complete this page in their book. Some even reminded each other that they had to include their sources in the feedback sessions on Seesaw.
In a previous COETAIL project, I taught my students about some digital literacy and we revisited this again through thinking about font, colour, size, and how images look with text. With practice, some of the students are beginning to grasp this, but it is a challenge for many not to just use their favourite colours. Teaching contrast would definitely be the next step for students. For my own practice, I was very conscious about using visual literacy when creating slideshows for my students to guide them through planning and we organized ideas by colour on Padlets. Visual Literacy, although touched upon and used during this unit was not a topic for direct instruction or assessment, but we still had conversations about it, gave feedback about it, and had a session on Seesaw to give each other tips about an image, font, and colour use.
Overall, I think as a class we achieved the desired goals for teaching in this unit. The students were very interested in the topics of waste and how it was processed, how to turn waste into something new like art, and really changed their definition of what waste is throughout the unit. The student action plans exemplified their understanding of their responsibility and how their choices can create more or less waste. The agency of choice in their research projects provided a chance for them to dive deeper into a topic of interest and they all improved at developing questions, taking notes, and presenting their findings. I think it was a very successful unit despite the disruptions at the end when we switched to learning from home.
I enjoyed teaching this unit and implementing all of the ideas that I learned over the past 18 months from COETAIL. This shows the importance of the careful planning course objectives, how to implement technology authentically, and what can happen when you give control and agency to students to help them learn deeply about something they care about so much. Moving forward I think that I have to continue thinking about how I am planning to implement technology authentically, continue to use PLN’s as a resource and to share more often, and to always strive to develop learning experiences that allow students to dive deep with the agency over their own learning.