PSII Visit

This week my EDCI 336 class had the opportunity to visit the Pacific School for Innovation and Inquiry (PSII- pronounced “sigh”), Victoria’s newest high school and form of personalized education. Students at this school are able to move through a curriculum that is designed specifically for them at their own pace. Basically, at this school all the projects are inquiry based so students get to decide what they want to learn and the teachers design their learning to meet all the BC curriculum content. The image below, from PSII’s website, better explains their whole learning approach.

retrieved from http://learningstorm.org/the-psii-approach/

This visit made me consider how beneficial our education system really is. One thing that I hated about my high school experience was the lack of freedom I had. If I wasn’t feeling well I had to call home in the office and get my parents to come pick me up even though I could drive myself. As soon as I left high school and entered university I found my mental health got immensely better. If I wasn’t feeling well physically or emotionally, I could just not attend class that day and catch up on my own time and nobody would mind. The stress of being forced to remain at my place of learning even if it wasn’t in the best interest for me was gone and I found myself enjoying my education so much more. For once I had independence and control over my learning and I began to care a lot more about my education. So why do we still design our high schools this way? As stated on the PSII website, we are all unique individuals, so why do we force our students to complete a pre-designed, standardized education?

For more information on PSII visit their website learningstorm.org & I promise it will answer all of your questions.

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What is Trello?

Trello.com is the newest way to communicate with your students. I personally am someone who loves lists so I have very quickly fallen in LOVE with this website. As an educator, you can set this platform up for your students when they have an assignment to complete. For my project, I am using a board and it allows me to make up cards ordered into four lists- my inquiry questions, To-Do, Doing and Done. This website is great for keeping on top of assignments and keeping everything clear and organized. I would definitely recommend this website for other teachers to use in their classrooms, I know I will be.

Video Conference w/ Ian Landy

On Tuesday, my EDCI 336 class had the opportunity to have a video conference with Ian Landy (https://Technolandy@wordpress.com), the principal of a rural school on the Shuswap and an advocator for the use of e-portfolios in schools. When I walked into the video conference classroom at my university I was greeted with the image of myself on one of the big screens you can see in the photo below. Needless to say, I have never experienced something like this before and was embarrassed to see my face on the big screen. The cameras were motion censored so if you put your hand up to answer/ask a question the camera would turn to you & zoom in like you were caught on the kiss cam at a hockey game. The video conference itself was a reminder to me of how impressive and beneficial multimedia learning experiences can be. Here I am, sitting in my classroom on Vancouver Island and I am able to have a face-to-face conversation with Ian Landy, who lives 2 ferry rides away, without leaving the room.

Video Conference Room at Uvic

I found what Mr. Landy had to say about e-portfolios to be very intriguing. His school uses these instead of report cards and has found his students respond a lot better to them. Mr. Landy argues that you can’t show creativity on a report card, and that this method insures that students are not compared to one another and instead showcases a student’s personal growth. E-portfolios decrease stress in students because they don’t have to worry about getting a number value put on their hard work. If a student doesn’t do well on a project, you just wouldn’t include it in their portfolio but instead show something that best showcases their abilities. E-portfolios also encourage learning for the sense of learning since students aren’t just copying work down or cheating in order to get a good mark.

I think that e-portfolios are a great method for formative assessment/evaluation in elementary schools, but realistically I don’t think they would work for high schools. When applying for universities, you usually give your average grades and then, if your grades are high enough, you will be asked to show your resume or past examples of your abilities. However, if every single student had an e-portfolio instead of their average grades, the acceptance process would take forever to complete and I just can’t see universities accepting this method.

Video/Audio Editing Workshop

Today in my EDCI 336 class we had the opportunity to learn all about video editing with iMovie, screen capturing with Screencastify, and audio editing with Garage Band. Personally, I own a PC computer and so I was very unfamiliar with iMovie/Garage Band besides making 2 movie trailers with my friend in the 5th grade… so this was a very beneficial workshop for me! I think that iMovie will be an excellent resource when I have my own classroom in the future. I remember loving to make those movie trailers when I was a kid so I can see my future students loving it too. For example, I would use iMovie in english class as an alternative to writing a book report. Screencasitfy (https://www.screencastify.com/) is another great resource that I think students will really enjoy. This chrome program can be easily downloaded onto your computer and it allows you to record what is happening on your computer screen. You can also video tape yourself at the same time and it will appear in the corner of your screen. I would use screencasitfy as an alternate way for students to give a powerpoint presentation. The last program that we were introduced to in the workshop was garage band. Personally, I use audacity to edit my music but I found both programs were easy to use. I would use garage band in music class so that my students could edit/create their own music.

Rich McCue, a Digital Scholarship Commons Coordinator who led the workshop, was kind enough to let me share his resources from the workshop so I included them below….

http://freemusicarchive.org/curator/Creative_Commons/ (free background music that students can use for their garage band projects)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14V118K1VnyEAJTQFCqQdq0ODsE98JUSf1HrGscpt0_Y/edit?usp=sharing (Video Editing)

http://edci336.ca/rmccue/ (Rich’s website with more resources)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RNjmZo0GoH30baVEjGxwzo3Lf-7LTIOu370xoqGvJI0/edit?usp=sharing (Garage Band)

Ed-Camp Reflection

Are you as confused as I was sixty minutes ago? What is an Ed-Camp? Ed-Camps are free conferences that people attend to discuss topics that interests them in an open, unplanned discussion. There is no leader to guide the discussions but instead the attendees of the conference get to decide what they want to talk about and get to lead the discussions themselves with other people.

Today in my EDCI 336 class we ran our own Ed-Camp and I joined a discussion with 18 of my peers in which we discussed if teachers are being too accommodating for their students. I have been taught that we should always put the student’s needs first and if a student is uncomfortable with an activity, we should never force them to do it. What we discussed in our Ed-Camp however, was if discomfort is always a bad thing. Sometimes you need to push a student out of their comfort zone so that they are able to learn new things and can begin to diminish their fears. Take public speaking for example, if a student is uncomfortable speaking in front of a group but you never push them to get over this fear, they never will. In our Ed-Camp discussion, one of my peers brought up an excellent point about helping students get over their fears and discomforts, without pushing them too much and causing anxiety in the student’s life. Continuing with the public speaking example, you could start with having the student just speaking one on one with someone and then solely progress into speaking in front of a small group, to a larger group and then the whole class.

I found my experience with Ed-Camps very beneficial and I think that it’s a great way to start important conversations and meet people who share similar views to yourself. I am definitely interested in going to another Ed-Camp in the future and even running one in my own classroom one day.

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Why did I start this blog…

I never considered myself a blogger, or someone who takes the time to write out their thoughts in a journal or a diary. I have a short attention span, so every time I have tried to start something like that in the past, I have always given up in a matter of weeks or sometimes even days. Even though the last time I tried to start a blog was years ago, the little voice in my head was telling me that I have not changed since then and I still would not be able to keep it up. The truth (as hopefully we all know) is that people can change and I was limiting myself from growing as an individual by listening to that voice. I am not saying that now I am magically able to block out any condescending thoughts in my head, but recently I have been able to ignore them and allow myself to advance not only academically, but mentally. I find myself taking more risks in life and pushing myself further out of my comfort zone every day. I am setting personal, physical and academic goals and every day I try to accomplish something to get myself closer to achieving them. This blog is technically an assignment for my EDCI 336 class, but the amount of effort that I will be putting into it will be for my own benefit. I hope that this blog will help me achieve my long term goal of being the best educator I can possibly be for my future students. I want to set this blog up to increase my digital footprint in a positive way and create a space that I can show potential employers. I also hope that this blog will help me continue to set goals and find exactly who I want to be.