The journey has not come to an end- it has just awakened a new beginning!
Well the end has come to this specific experience. What a learning journey it has been. I have learned so much in the last few months and have opened my mind to great teaching. Before I started this class I did not think it would have a lot of relevance to me and my teaching practice. I thought that it wouldn’t really apply to me but would be interesting to learn about. Was I ever wrong-this class has been so relevant for all age levels of teachers and to our personal lives. I had never heard the terms ‘digital citizenship’ or ‘digital identity’ before this class. Teaching grade twos and threes, I thought this topic would not be important as I have always prioritized their basic needs being met, then traditional literacy within the class. I was not aware of how easy it is to integrate digital media/literacy within my teaching instruction and how important it is in this day and age. I am very thankful to have learned so much and to be able to apply and share my learning with my colleagues. I now have a new understanding of how important it is to teach the topics in this class at an early age. Thank you #eci832!
Now to my Major Project-what a journey this has been. Way back when I started to think about my Major Project, I had no idea what I wanted to do. The options were broad and I didn’t really understand each option or how I would be able to do them. I definitely did not get as far as I had hoped due to the events in our world, but I will take you on my journey of what I did do and learn. My journey is very much like how my brain works-scattered and all over the place. My first post about my Major Project I identified that I wanted to look into different apps that were suggested in the syllabus. I had not heard of the ones suggested so I thought that would be a good start. I chose to look into three educational apps-Aurasma, ShowMe, and Touchcast. I also wanted to look into the social media app TikTok because I didn’t know much about it. I know many students in my school use TikTok and a few of my students knew what it was, had an account or had siblings with an account.
My second post about my Major Project was on a ‘page’ in my blog where I had planned to put everything about my Major Project in but ended up updating on blog posts. I put updates within blog posts and don’t know how to include those posts on that page. #stilllearning. I had just started looking into TikTok. I downloaded it and started scrolling. I was coaching girls basketball at my elementary school so I was surrounded by the best resources to learn all about TikTok. I started to have great conversations with the girls and they were educating me on how TikTok works. They showed me how they use it, who they follow, why certain people go viral, and the benefits they see in having it. I learned a lot about this app and know all the drama between the famous teenagers that are on TikTok. I have not dug deep enough to understand how it could be used for educational purposes. I am following teachers and hope to learn more about it. I feel good that I understand what people are doing on this app and it’s purposes. I don’t feel out of the loop anymore but I still feel old. I have not made my own dances but have attempted some without recording myself. 🙂
My third update/post about my Major Project is where it took a major turn. Looking into the three educational apps, I learned that these are not ones I have access to in my school division. I looked into Showme which looked like one I could actually use within my classroom. You can make lessons and record yourself on a virtual whiteboard type background. You can send your lessons to students or use them in your classroom. You can also find many lessons that other teachers have created and use those. This sounds like it would be a wonderful app for times like right now. You need an iPad to create the lessons. I have five iPads in my class so I thought this would be a great app to add to the iPads. In order to have an app added to the iPads you have to put in a request. I put in the request with my Vice-Principal after pitching the app to him. Attached I have put the request below or here to show what that looks like. This was another learning process. My Vice-Principal and I filled out and submitted the form together. Unfortunately with all that has gone on in our world, I have no idea what has happened with that application and I am not going to bug anyone to find out. I was not able to get Showme and start making my own lessons and implement them as I had planned for my Major Project. I did use some of the lessons I found through my computer on the account I created. I would like to explore this app in the future when we are back in the classrooms as it looks like it could be beneficial.
Aurasma and Touchcast were both not available for me to use. I couldn’t figure out how to get the proper apps on my phone. When I was looking into these apps and trying to get Showme put onto my iPads, it dawned on me that I do have lots of educational apps available to me as a teacher in Regina Public Schools. I had never taken the time to really look at the apps I have on my iPads and use them effectively within my classroom. I had learned about platforms that I do have access to through my classmates like WeVideo. I used WeVideo for my Content Catalyst project. I would have never known I had access to such a great resource. I have now started to use it to create teaching videos to send to my students! I also learned about and started using Wakelet to gather resources for the project. Following this realization that I have access to lots of great resources I’ve never learned about, I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore these as part of my project. I decided to look specifically at the apps I have on my iPads and explore the benefits of them. I believed this would be the best way to make my Major Project useful to myself and my professional development. I wanted my Major Project to be something that benefits myself and I could implement in my classroom.
I asked myself these five questions .
-Why am I not utilizing what I already have in my classroom?
-What apps are already on my classroom iPads that I can use/What am I already using?
-How can I explore these apps and use this learning for my Major Project?
-Are there apps that can assist me with teaching digital citizenship?
-Why have I not explored these apps before?
The apps that I do use regularly in my class are Epicbooks, Razkids, Toontastic and Brainpop. The majority of the time I let my students use the iPads for reading. Epicbooks and Razkids are great apps that have an almost unlimited amount of books for kids. Epicbooks has lots of great teaching books and videos I use in my instruction. It has lots of non-fiction books that kids love. I always call it the ‘Netflix’ of books. Razkids is a huge library of levelled books. There are many great features like putting students into guided reading groups. Both apps have comprehension quizzes after the students read the books. Teachers can manage students profiles. I have been sending collections of books that spark students interests over Epicbooks recently. Students can still access their profiles at home and continue to have success in reading if they don’t have their own books. I would highly recommend teachers to use these two reading apps. Toontastic is super fun to use while teaching narrative writing. Students get to pick a setting and characters and make a video of a short story. They enjoy recording themselves and moving the characters around. It is great for getting their creative juices flowing and having them be storytellers. Brainpop is a site I use very often in my teaching. It has almost every subject and topic. It has an engaging teaching video followed by a quiz, game, activity, joke, etc to teach about that topic. Although I have used these for many years, I have had time to learn more features I never knew existed.
My next step and change I wanted to bring into my Major Project was to look more deeply into the apps I have and specifically look into Seesaw. Seesaw is an app I have been using for two years to communicate with families and share our learning. I’ve always known it has other features and had made it one of my PD goals this year to explore those. I thought why not dig deeper into Seesaw for part of my Major Project. It is also a great place to send resources about digital citizenship to families.
My next update came with learning about implementing digital citizenship. I never realized how easy it is to implement digital citizenship and media literacy into my everyday teaching. I explain in my blog post about adding implementing Common Sense Media resources into my teaching. I wanted to record myself teaching a lesson from Common Sense Media. I really like the topics they have for second and third graders. It is very easy to access and understand. They make it so easy for educators to follow along and engage the students. I sent this resource to my colleagues and recommended they try it out as well. It is full of great lessons that relate to the students age.
I had started teaching these lessons to my students before schools had closed. I am thankful for the conversations we had and really hope that it stuck with them as they are spending lots of time now on devices at home. I really wish I would’ve started earlier so my students were more equipped for this time. I learned how important it is to embed these lessons into my teaching throughout the whole year and to be having conversations around digital citizenship. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to using this resource in my class but have sent it to my families on Seesaw and hope they will explore it with their children. I was not able to record my teaching and discussions as I had wanted to. I look forward to next year using Common Sense Media in my classroom and sharing it with my coworkers.
I decided with this new learning to create a layout of a Year Plan to implement Digital Citizenship throughout the year. I looked at my year plans and units I do and chose where each topic would fit best. Of course these conversations will be happening throughout the year but I wanted to make a layout to focus specifically on certain topics. I created a table to show how it connects to the grade two and three curriculum. Please check out my Digital Citizenship Year Plan here. It converted to a PDF kind of wonky. I tried to insert it in a here a few ways. I hope it works. I also decided in helping my coworkers and classmates to make a document that shows the curricular connections to teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. I created a document that shows kindergarten to grade five outcomes connecting to digital citizenship topics. These topics/themes are similar to how Common Sense Media breaks up digital citizenship. Please share!
My last blog post update regarding my Major Project was when schools were shutting down and we were all in a heightened state. This was before I had known how much things were about to change. This post has a lot about where I am at now and I will now expand on where I have gotten. I still had high hopes to thoroughly look into each app and I have done some exploring. With the circumstances of life right now and focusing on teaching online I have not done an in depth review of each app. I will share what is on our iPads but focus on what I am using while teaching from a distance. I will mainly share my experience with Seesaw as that is the main platform I am using for teaching now. My goal was to dive into Seesaw while my pre-interns were teaching. They got to teach for a week and I got to explore and get students logging in to their own accounts and try some of the activities I had been playing around with. What perfect timing as the next Monday we were told we were shutting down. I believe time is a huge barrier for educators learning to use new tools and apps. I really hope the time we are in now will allow professional development for all educators in the resources and apps we have access to.
Below I have put pictures of the approved apps on my classroom iPads. I have played with many of them but would like to continue to learn and keep this journey going so I can properly use them effectively in my classroom.
I have compiled a list of the apps and their purposes. Now having a bit of knowledge of the benefits of the apps, I am excited to be able to utilize them and feel confident that they are effective for learning. I hope to dig deeper into them when we are back in the classroom!
What is the purpose of Seesaw?
Seesaw is an online platform for educators to use within their classroom. Students are able to creatively show and represent their learning. Their families are able to connect with their ‘journal’ and celebrate learning. It is a great resource to assess and track students learning and have them take ownership and responsibility for their learning. It promotes student and family engagement. Seesaw gives a variety of ways for students to demonstrate learning in a portfolio. (video, audio, pictures, drawing, etc)
How is Seesaw an Educational Tool?
Seesaw was created for educators to engage students and families in the classroom learning. This learning can be expanded, shared and assessed.
I have become a Seesaw Ambassador! The best way to learn and understand the app is to go through the training so I can help others learn as well. I also got upgraded to a paid account so I could really explore the benefits of having full access. I am very excited to continue to learn about Seesaw and keep creating and sharing my own lessons. I recommend all teachers to become a Seesaw Ambassador if you are using it for online learning.
I can not imagine just downloading Seesaw for the first time and having to use it to teach online. This is the case for many teachers who were not already connected to families and using Seesaw. I have been helping a few teachers get set up and been available for questions as I have learned and implemented lessons on Seesaw. I had to learn quickly the features Seesaw offers that I hadn’t looked into previously.
I never thought I would become an expert (using that word lightly) in Seesaw so quickly. I have learned how to create my own lessons, about the features and the security. I feel very safe using Seesaw in my classroom.
In the Ambassador training I learned Seesaw is safe to use:
- Seesaw will never sell your data or student data.
- There’s never any advertisements.
- Seesaw doesn’t own the content you add.
- Students work is private to the classroom by default.
- Seesaw uses the latest security to protect you.
- Seesaw is transparent about their practices and notifies you if things change.
- Seesaw is compliant with FERPA, COPPA, and GDPR.
I have attached the permission form my school sends home to families.
Free Version vs Paid Version
The free version of Seesaw has many great features but also some setbacks. In the paid version called Seesaw Plus, you can have up to 20 teachers connected to your class. In a time like now that allows all itinerant teachers to send lessons to students as well. In the free version you can only have 2 teachers connected to your class. In the paid version you can have a ‘school library’ to collaborate and share lessons with teachers in your school. That is not available in the free version. In the free version you can only have 100 activities in your own library. This is what made me panic as I am sending on average 5 activities a day. When you have the paid version you can have unlimited amount of activities in your library. In the paid version you are also able to assess skills and attach outcomes to track students progress. Another big part of Seesaw plus or Seesaw schools when the whole school has it is that the students journal stays with them each year. They have a new journal for their new grade or teacher but they can look back and see growth over years. For teachers this makes it easy to transfer students each year and have their families already connected. This way you don’t need to send home the information each year. For example, I had a paid account at the beginning of the year somehow and had all but two families connected to my class by taking them from their previous teachers. My trial ended and I had to send home the handouts many times and create a new class. Students who teachers had worked very hard on getting the families connected had to start from the beginning again.
Highlights/Benefits/Pros of Seesaw
- Differentiating for students- You can choose what you to send to specific students. Great for split grades. Able to create lessons and personalize them.
- Scheduling lessons to come out at a certain time- Teachers can prep lessons and activities for the week and choose when to assign them and have them appear for students.
- Students take pictures of their work and own what they want to share. Easy for them to be independent in their learning.
- Families are able to be apart of students learning and see what they are doing in class. They can connect and celebrate learning.
- Families can communicate with teachers.
- Students demonstrate learning in a variety of ways. (recording, video, drawing, writing, etc) They can easily expand on their learning and show their personal understanding.
- Huge Library of activities/lessons already created by other educators. You can search any grade and topic.
- Able to attach outcomes to assignments and assess ‘skills’ and progress of students.
- Easy to use and understand. Teachers are able to make their own lessons/activities. They can share instructions by audio or video for little ones who aren’t able to read yet.
- Able to use on most platforms. (Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Chrome)
Cons/Downfalls of Seesaw
- Not being able to video or teach live. (I’m dying to see my students and video chat with them)
- Students not being able to communicate with other classmates. (found the best way to have students be able to communicate is post something to all their journals so they can comment)
- Most teachers are using free version.
- Confusion of two separate apps. ‘Seesaw Class’ for Students and ‘Seesaw Family’ for families.
- Students are not able to search activities on their own.
Seesaw is very beneficial for learning and I would highly recommend elementary educators to use it in their classes. I am continuing to learn during this online/distance learning time. I hope to become more efficient in using Seesaw and am excited to see the benefits of implementing it into my classroom when we are back in schools.
Unfortunately I have not been able to show my learning in the ways I had pictured. My journey was all over the place and constantly changing. I get new ideas and get excited to try new things. I always struggle to narrow down what I want to do for a project. It was a big learning process that I will keep building on and learning from.
I say this journey has not come to an end because it will always continue. It is just the beginning of understanding the importance of digital citizenship and implementing it into my teaching. I am very excited to continue to implement what I have learned next year and as I am teaching from a distance. I’ll say it one more time how grateful I am to have taken this class at a time like this. It has opened my eyes and my mind to so much greatness out there and how positive technology can be. Thank you to my wonderful, supportive classmates I have learned alongside. For being so helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. Lastly, thank you to my prof for the rich conversations and a teaching style that has been so open to letting us take our journey in a way that connects best to us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!