Into the Great Wide Open

into-the-great-wide-open2It is not a question of “will education as we know it change because of technology?” The answer of course is “absolutely, it already has! The indicators are everywhere, the fact that CoETaIL even exists is a testament to how rapidly education is changing. The biggest change? The shift away from traditional educational structures to access learning experiences. Now learning is personalized and borderless.

I was lucky enough to attend Katherine Prince’s Education in the Era of Partners in Code conference ICS hosted in October. The conference covered what the future of education might look like. Sessions included exploring and analyzing signals of change, future educator roles, learning ecosystems and prototyping solutions. A fascinating weekend “developing aspirational visions for the future of learning and examine how to move toward them.” It was especially rewarding as our group was able to discuss real challenges for our school, proposing solutions that could have real bearing on the institution’s future.

A very cool thought as I debated how to start to answer “Where and how will you be teaching in 5, 10, 15 years time?” Initial thought was that I would be teaching everywhere because I am already digitally alive. I feel I am ahead of the powerful ocean waves which bring radical change to this field. As John Mikton writes on Beyond Digital’s Hal, is in the House. We are already at the wearable technologies stage and soon headed towards embedded. Humanity already has the capability for a “potentially new hierarchy where AI supplements a user’s expertise”. Prior to this stage, was the use in Medicine of pacemakers and other such controllable devices; which showed even an extreme examples of cyborgs might not just the work of Science Fiction in the future. At what stage does a Matrix style upload of knowledge becomes commonplace? I figure that reality has less than a half century from being a philosophical conundrum for humanity.  One that society will ultimately choose in favour of.

As for location? My thought is that I will be teaching right in front of you. Personalized learning experiences are already at hand. Students at all levels as well as people of all ages, take advantage of digital content daily to learn. The use of the personalized mobile device is a commonplace with an opportunity to access content specifically targeted and educationally scaffolded for these platforms. The individualized nature of an education is connected with the ability to process and apply information in opportunities for collaboration. Who knows? Already, I have my own YouTube channel where I teach lessons to students who are not the same physical space as me. Once you can reach one person beyond the wall, how many others? Where we live and other physical limitations are no longer barriers. For a deeper discussion, please read my Universal Borderless Patrol post. To conclude, I reference the show, Intimate & Interactive. It was live concerts combined with audience questions for bands on MuchMusic, our Canadian Music television station. With a nod to the title, I believe that Intimate & Interactive best describes where I think education will be in a Decade.

Right here, there and everywhere for everyone.

Bringing Infographics to Life

2ag Kelso's Choice WheelGrade Two students are able readers, but it is developmentally appropriate for them to be reading leveled picture books as all of my students are developing reading and writing skills. Additionally, in my classroom we have several Learning Support and English as an Additional Language students.  When the message is not clear, the pictures spur conversation and allow the class to debate what the text might mean. By using this infographic in small group sessions, students and teachers are able to discuss concepts, record ideas for implementation and share examples of their practice.

Understanding the Inquiry Cycle

We are an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school and have a framework which supports our curriculum, guiding our students in their learning journey. We call this the Inquiry Cycle. The PYP is an inquiry based program  where students lead their learning by following a series of steps: Tuning In, Finding Out, Sorting Out, Going Further, Making Conclusions and Taking Action. This model, based on the work of Kathy Short can be quite complicated for young learners and often uses vocabulary which is advanced for their age. By translating the inquiry cycle into an infographic, the students are able to make connections between the theory and their own learning.

inquiry_cycle

Kathy Short’s Inquiry Cycle is a cornerstone of PYP pedagogy and practice

In 2ag, we use the infographic below repeatedly throughout the year. Our knowledge builds in stages as we work our way through our 6 units of inquiry using the cycle each time. At the beginning of the year, students examine each section in  conjunction with what is happening in class. We focused on asking questions in our Communication Systems unit. The students asked teachers and students in our school about how we use systems to communicate information to the different elements of the school community. Students use the infographic to create their own definitions for the “Ask” stage and create their own image to accompany their definition. As we progress through the year, we revisit our definitions building a collaborative class definition which we will turn into an Inquiry Cycle class display. By giving ownership of the definition and the image, it makes the learning relevant and accessible to the students. Unfortunately, as it is so early in the school year, I do not yet have a display built for this class. I will begin to develop it with my Second Grade class after the Winter break in our third unit.

Infographics in Action

A good example of how this process works with an infographic is our class created version of the Kelso’s Choice Wheel. Kelso’s Choices are a system of problem solving strategies for students to manage peer conflict and behaviour on the playground and within the classroom. Our students work with the School Counselor and each other to understand the programme’s elements and how they can make good choices in different situations. We shared our 3D infographic with the Primary School during our class assembly and the Kelso’s Choice Wheel which my students created in on this post. The text which supports each section is on the back of each pie piece as they held them up during the presentation and read it out to the audience. The class composition has now been hung up in the hallway outside of our classroom, to help educate the rest of the school and remind them of the positive choices they can make when interacting with their friends.

thecycleofinquirybasedlearning

IBLibrary.com’s inquiry infographic which 2ag annotate throughout the year.

 

 

Local & Global Interactions

mail

Within our Grade Two classroom the focu2ag-post-boxs has been “communication systems enable local and global interactions”. As part of the student inquiries they investigated the postal system, how mail travels and by extension the mechanisms which work together to deliver messages across the world. A strong language focus included letter writing and the conventions surrounding sending messages in an addressed envelope to another person and place. Visual literacy plays a strong role in communicating the framework and function of systems, as well as the structure of a letter and layout of addressed envelopes.

In our unit, students decided that communication systems are developed to meet a need. By examining the people, parts, organization and purpose of systems; they inquired into how communication systems help us and why we need them. They French Post Boxcan explain how accessing and sharing information enables us to connect locally and globally through the use of maps and technology.

The students created a postal system for the primary school and used self-selected images of post boxes to help create their own. As we are an international school, we were able to find images of Switzerland and our home country’s national post boxes increasing global understanding. Strongest was making a local connection, as they chose to paint the class post boxes orange & black writing, which are the school colours.  

Visual imagery supports the language curriculum extremely well. Graphic organizers are key to supporting students in their writing development and allows for more successful communication opportunities. As they begin to blog this year, our Grade 2 students make strong connections to Digital Citizenship practices and are learning to cite their sources. Our class uses the visualizer in our room to explore stamps from around the world and were able to connect to their developing understanding of the globe. The wall map in our room is a place of annotation and engagement. Experiences are share as our Flat Stanley pictures are posted upon their return from adventures with relatives in other countries. Our class continually adds layers to the web of our personal connections through imagery on our wall map.

As I mentioned previously in my post Fight the Empowerment, imagery is incredibly important to me when communicating my message. Often they are the source of my inspiration to get writing DODH and help me to develop my author’s voice. Imagery tells the untold story and Postes Canada - Canada Post Mailboxfuels my creativity. I am especially pleased that the new theme showcases my feature images so nicely; although my categories absurdly cover them. I have yet to figure out how to remedy that, so if anyone knows please pass it along @GroverAndrew. While using the Creative Commons to search for digital images I found that tips from Kim Cofino’s video were very helpful. Do not underestimate the power of a visual explanation, accessible by users at their own pace and specific learning needs. I appreciated how I could split my screen and follow along while selecting an image. Personalized tutoring.

One of educational technology’s greatest strengths is the ability to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways. Just as my hero Alvin Toffler predicted, workflows have changed as computers enhance the ability to tailor the access to information.

Border crossing

Universal Borderless Patrol

Border crossing

Border crossing: South Tyrol – Switzerland. 2295m above sea level by Gerhard Haindl

Wouldn’t that be an interesting occupation? Flipping the concept of independent nations on its head; the Universal Borderless Patrol would have the fortuity to interact with all nations, races and peoples that inhabit our planet. The role would extend beyond our planet, through our Solar System and out into the expanse of the Universe. The idea matches the scope of our access to content and information; the edges of our technological universe. The internet is oblivious to the limitations of physical borders. Our globe is literally banded together, regardless of the location or distance. Communities are now closer than ever, with the invaluable ability to make connections with like-minded people or access shared content from your pocket instantly. Physical space has been eliminated by the technological revolution and barriers between individuals, information and media no longer exist. In rare, but high-profile cases, access to information is restricted or denied; however, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit, teach or live in these countries. Most countries in Europe and North America, where I have lived; all subscribe to their own, as well as international copyright law. Regulations, penalties and acceptable use guidelines may slightly differ, but the core principles are the same. Youth is the key. Educate the youth. They will be in positions of power one day.  

Privatgrund

Digital Citizenship should help to eliminate the need to keep content restricted by helping the user cite their sources properly. Image by Unci Narynin

As educators, our obligation is to promote the ideals and guidelines of digital citizenship; protecting the rights of creators while balancing the needs of users. Teaching these responsibilities is easy, as students are keen and there are many excellent digital citizenship programs available.  We use both Common Sense Media and the ISTE Standards at our school. We also have a Scope and Sequence of Skills created in conjunction with the International Baccalaureate, which forms the backbone of our technological education as a school. We have a strong digital citizenship policy, which is communicated through school wide planning and sequential learning objectives, activities and resources targeting different grade levels.  The programme culminates in our Computer Code of Conduct, which is included in the package of information sent to all Parents and Students at the beginning of the year. Both parties sign the agreement and the notarized copy goes into the Student’s Portfolio. The Computer Code of Conduct is further posted in classrooms and included in the Student’s agendas.

No Borders

The internet is bounded by no geographical barriers as evidenced in the photo “No Borders” by Michael Q Todd

The School Librarian is a key cog, discussing the theory behind digital citizenship and reinforcing appropriate searching, referencing and citation skills. From Grade 5 onwards, our students are expected to have accurate bibliographies in all assignments.  Our Primary Technology Integrationist works closely with each grade level at the beginning of the year to help students understand the purpose and importance Digital Citizenship. She works in collaboration with the Students to create essential agreements within the classroom.  Our Director of eLearning leads in-depth sessions for all members of our community, providing leadership needed to address a variety of aspects of the online world. The Communications Department publishes our technology philosophy on the website and in the school promotional publications. It is a tapestry, interwoven with many people sharing a consistent message to create the full picture.

The front line in establishing the respect for copyright, is always the educational leadership that a class teacher demonstrates everyday. Modeling good practice and stressing the importance of proper use is essential at all levels. Instilling good habits and nurturing development year-on-year builds confidence, competence and understanding within the user. We must always be cognizant that we are building future generations who need to be well versed in the international expectations of copyright, communications and media.