Research, Reflect, Repeat: A Podcast in the Making

#ECI832

The start of a new project… it’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and motivating all at the same time. It’s exhilarating to think of the goals that can be accomplished, the knowledge that can be gained, and the tasks that can be completed. It can also feel overwhelming to think of the work that lies ahead. Those are all of thoughts I’ve been having when I think of my new learning project.

The task: develop a curriculum-supported Digital Citizenship/Literacy resource.

It seems achievable, yet daunting. How do I create a resource for other educators that is actually beneficial and relatable? A resource that doesn’t just end up in another “read later” pile. A resource that doesn’t cause more work, but instead, enriches someone’s classroom or conversation.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I started thinking of how I like to learn, gain professional development, and access resources. Yes, I love to attend conferences and seminars, but it costs money. Yes, I own interesting books that can help me in my career and classroom, but it takes time. Yes, I want to spend more time meeting and planning with others, but it takes energy. How can I learn without adding extra stress to my schedule and already busy professional and personal life? I can listen.

I can listen and learn when I’m driving home from work. I can listen when I’m on my lunch break. I can listen when I’m exercising. I can listen when I’m cooking or cleaning. There are so many opportunities to listen. So, how do I create resource that benefits other educators and meets them where they are at? I will create a professional development podcast for other people to listen to, because we all have time and energy to do that.

My experience with podcasting is limited, however, I tested out a few platforms last semester and even started up a podcast myself. I have two podcast episodes under my belt and I’m excited to add more to my repertoire! If you are interested in seeing my work so far, you can search EdTech Endeavours: The Podcast on Anchor or any podcast streaming service. You can also listen to it on Apple Podcasts here.

Since podcasting is something I started, but didn’t quite master, I want to expand my experience and fine-tune the skill. It takes a lot of effort and time to record, edit, and produce, which is why I want to become more familiar with the podcasting platforms and the editing programs.

Along with recording podcasts, I will also compile my research and findings into blog posts. I want to reflect on what I learn and find other resources about the topic to share with others. Up until this point, I have only listened to a few podcasts here and there, mostly for personal enjoyment. However, I recently put out a survey with Google Forms to gather more information about podcasts, and more specifically, educational podcasts. The data was not only interesting, but very helpful! Here are some things I found out:

The majority of people (62.5%) listen to podcasts through Apple Podcasts. Less people use Spotify, Pocket Casts, and Anchor.

The majority of people prefer 20-30 minute podcasts. Only 10% would rather 45 minutes- 1 hour long episodes.

When people were asked what they look for in a podcast, these were some of the recurring themes:

  • Quality research
  • Good sound quality, audio levels, music, and editing
  • Recurring segments
  • Conversations vs interviews (with no more than 2 people)
  • Suggested resources and “take-aways”
  • Humor
  • Meaningful content rather than irrelevant banter
  • Minimal ads
  • Interesting and knowledgeable guests
  • Structure with some flexibility
  • Audience engagement

With all of that research in mind, along with my own personal planning and organizing, I came up with a proposal for my project- an outline of where I am at now, where I am headed, and where I want to end up.

Here’s the breakdown of my Podcast Project:

The Goal:

  • Build my knowledge of Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, and Educational Technology by researching, connecting with experts, podcasting, and reflecting through blog posts. I want to become more digitally fluent throughout the process and expand my skills in blogging and podcasting. In turn, I hope to help other educators understand Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy in an authentic, relevant way so that they can use the information in their professional and personal lives.

The Materials and Tools

  • The Equipment
    • I already purchased a mic last semester (the Yeti Nano) and so far, I am pleased with the sound! All I need to purchase is a Pop Filter for the mic so that the sound is clear and the background noise is limited. I am currently looking at getting this one from Amazon.
    • I have a MacBook Pro computer that the mic can connect to for recording.
  • Editing and Recording
    • I will use Garage Band for editing all of my podcasts and for recording any interviews that are face-to-face. I am familiar with the software, but I still want to become more proficient with it. I have heard that if I use Garage Band for editing the podcast rather than using the tools on the host site, there is more freedom because I own all of my own material. I am also going to look into using Zoom for long distance recordings and then detach the audio into a file that can be edited. I have heard that Zencastr, a podcast host site, is great for recording long-distance interviews, so I will look into it as well.
  • The Platforms
    • For my past podcasts, I used Anchor as my hosting site. I plan on continuing with this platform because it is user friendly and it automatically transfers the episodes to Apple Podcasts and Spotify, along with many more platforms. I use Apple Podcasts myself, and according to my podcast survey, the majority of people do as well. When I tweet out my podcast episodes, I will use the link to direct people to Apple Podcasts.

The Weekly Plan

Image result for digital literacy
  • Research/ Connect/ Plan
    • I plan on recording at least 4 podcast episodes from now until the end of March. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and researching to produce a podcast, so I would rather have “quality” over “quantity”. During the “off” weeks, I will search for and line up experts to interview, research information based on my topic for the podcast, and come up with questions for the episode. I want to connect with experts that know a lot about Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy and have conversations with them.
  • Record/ Edit/ Summarize
    • During the week that I record the podcast, my plan is to record, edit, and produce. I will also synthesize my learning through a blog post. I plan on using my blog post entries as a way to gather my thoughts, relay any new insights, and summarize what was talked about on the episode.

The End Product

  • Podcast
    • I want to have at least 4 podcast episodes that can be used as professional development resources for other teachers to listen to. I want to be more comfortable with my podcasting abilities and hopefully continue on with the skill after the project is done.
  • Blog
    • During the last couple weeks of my major project, I plan on compiling all of my podcasts and posts into an organized section on my blog through categories and menus. I plan on creating a curriculum-supported document that people can download from my blog. I will also create a list of resources and links that are easily accessible for educators and that relate to the topics covered during my Major Learning Project. Essentially, I want to have a “Primary Educator Starter Kit for Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy”.

My Homework

  • Listening
  • Connecting
    • I will use Twitter to connect with educators who are familiar with and are passionate about Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy. I’ll organize meetings and dates to record once I have an idea of who would be interested in speaking.
  • Planning
    • It’s important that I have quality topics and themes for my podcasts. I will use the Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship for reference when I am planning my podcast episodes. Once I have the topics for the podcasts, I’ll brainstorm questions that I can ask the experts on the episodes.

My questions for you are:

  1. Should my podcasts specifically be for K-5 teachers who are interested in Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, and EdTech, or should I keep it more general and tailor it toward all elementary-based teachers?
  2. What are some topics or content that you want to see covered?
  3. Do you know of any experts that would be great to interview? Is there an educator you are dying to hear from?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

It appears as if I have a long road of research, planning, organizing, and learning ahead of me. A road of making mistakes, celebrating successes, and inspiring others. I’m looking forward to diving into this new journey of podcasting and I hope you’re along for the ride too!

-Amanda

The EdTech Endeavour Continues

#ECI832

A new year is upon us and with the new year comes another opportunity to learn and grow in my EdTech skills. Online learning has quickly become my favourite way to gain knowledge. It’s accessible, cost effective, and not to mention convenient… considering I can stay at home when it’s minus forty-five outside. The benefits of taking online classes are endless, especially because they “give students the opportunity to plan study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around” according to OED’s list of advantages to taking online courses. Since I am taking a Master’s Certificate in Educational Technology and Media with the University of Regina, I have many online classes ahead of me, and for that, I am grateful.

The class I am taking this semester, #ECI832, focuses on Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy. I have some knowledge about Digital Citizenship, but Media Literacy is brand new to me. I am not only looking forward to learning more about these topics through presentations and articles, but also through conversations and blog posts from my fellow #ECI832 classmates- my new learning community. That brings us to another advantage of online learning… the connections we are able to make with others. I love having the chance to read, comment, and discuss important EdTech topics through out the week with the people in my class through blogging and Twitter. They encourage me, challenge me, and motivate me.

I feel relieved that I am not on this journey alone. I am glad that there are people (virtually) beside me who are dedicated to learning online and are willing to share their learning experiences with me in an authentic and honest way. So thank you in advance, #ECI832, for your willingness to share, connect, and inspire in our upcoming endeavour. Let’s do this!

P.S. For those of you who are new here, you can check out how this blog came to be with my very first blog post last semester.

-Amanda

The Piano Project: The Big Finale

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

We made it! Nine weeks of learning, struggling, progressing, succeeding, and growing. It’s hard to believe how challenging, yet rewarding, it was to focus on a learning project as an adult. Setting time aside each week to work on something that I wouldn’t normally have time for was an enriching experience. Who knew that learning and playing the piano would be so fulfilling for me. I am grateful for what I learned and gained through this Major Learning Project, along with the inspiration that my #eci831 classmates gave me along the way.

In order to look back on my experience, I made a video to document the process with clips from each week. Don’t forget to watch until the end so that you can see my final piano piece. You can also watch my whole piano project with my previous vlogs from my Youtube Playlist or you can click the links below to read my posts. In the meantime, take a look at my final vlog from my piano project!

In honour of my final post, I thought I would reflect back on my piano project journey with the victories and challenges and also look forward to my future goals.

The Small Victories:

  • I was able to collaborate with Brad by playing the piano chords and adding vocals for I Want to Hold Your Hand. He made an awesome collaboration video for his final project!
  • I made great connections with other piano players who taught me a lot about the instrument.
  • I loved learning piano because it was a creative outlet for me!

The Challenges:

  • It was challenging to set time aside each week to learn the instrument when life gets busy.
  • It took a lot of time to not only learn my piano goals, but also edit videos each week to visually display my learning.
  • I wanted the learning process to go faster at times and felt discouraged when I didn’t attain my goals as quickly as I wanted! I learned the importance of having grace for myself and understanding that success can be messy.

Future Goals

  • I want to keep playing piano as often as I can so that I don’t forget the skills that I’ve learned.
  • I want to play for enjoyment and continue to use this instrument as a creative outlet!

Thanks for following along with me as I journeyed through my piano project. It was a “noteworthy” journey indeed!

-Amanda

The Final Chapter: Summary of Learning

#ECI831, Summary of Learning

Can you believe it? We are almost at the end of a semester. EC&I 831 has come and gone (minus a few small tasks that need to get finished, along with a real life hangout!), but other than that, the final chapter is almost complete.

My very first Masters class is coming to an end, and I am feeling proud of what I have accomplished in the last three months. It’s hard to believe how much I experienced and learned through the duration of this course. I am incredibly grateful for my classmates and professor who motivated and inspired me along the way. To demonstrate what I have learned throughout the course, I created a Summary of my Learning.

I had so many ideas of where to go with this project, but in the end, I am glad I went with a tool that was easy to learn and for the most part, easy to use. I heard about the tool Video Scribe from the media creation list that Alec suggested. I tried to use the free trial version, but it had the company label as the background for the whole presentation, so instead, I paid a hefty $35 for a one month subscription. Fortunately, in the end, it was worth the money because it was convenient and fun to use!

Even though the program was easy to use, my project still took a lot of time to plan and develop. I spent a lot of time writing my summary, figuring out how to use the program, recording my voice on Garage Band, finding all of the images and clip art, timing the presentation, exporting it, and the list goes on. However, all of my hard work paid off because my Summary of Learning is ready to watch!

Enjoy!

The Piano Project: Week 8- Almost at the Finish Line

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

This week was all about taking the advice I received last week and applying it to my learning. Advice such as:

  • Play one hand at a time rather than learning everything at once
  • Look for the sharps and flats before I start learning a song
  • Take note of the time signature at the beginning of the sheet music

With the help from my colleagues, YouTube, and piano articles online, I am picking up a lot of skills and knowledge to help me in my piano journey. Since I’ve benefited so much from learning the theory of piano, I took some time to read some more information online in the areas I am struggling in.

Here are some things that stuck with me:

  • Before reading sheet music, I need to “stop and think” before I start playing because “it’s much easier to sight read when you are mentally prepared for everything that shows up in the music” according to Pianissimo.
  • I previously read on Daina’s blog that a metronome helped her play the clarinet. I decided to incorporate it into my practice this week, especially since JoyTunes insists that “learning how to keep time and pace on the piano is one of the most important skills a musician has to develop.” The use of the metronome helped me when I was practicing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the collaborative song that I am doing with Brad. I sent him a recording of the piano chords that I played with the use of the metronome so that he can follow the same beat when he plays the bass part.

I had a very productive week with my piano project! However, I still had a lot of frustrations and struggles as I practiced the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and with recording “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” You can take a look at how my practices went this week in my latest vlog. Enjoy!

The Small Victories:

  • I can almost play the right hand melody of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” without error.
  • I am becoming more fluent with playing piano chords, especially the C, D, E, G and A chords.

The Challenges:

  • When I started playing the right hand melody and the left hand chords together for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, I was unable to keep time and play smoothly. I still need some practice with this!
  • I wanted to play chord inversions instead of the chord triads for “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, but I could only manage doing it for a portion of the song.
  • It took me a long time to practice and record the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” because I am new to recording. I tried using Trackd app to collaborate, but it wasn’t as user friendly as I had hoped. In the end, I successfully recorded it on Garage Band.

The Resources:

  • I continued to use the sheet music from Music Notes to help me learn “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
  • I used the metronome feature on Garage Band and I used my new Yeti Mic to record “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I also used the chord charts on Guitar Tab to practice and play the song.

Goals for Next Week

I can’t believe my project is almost done! Even though I am “almost at the finish line” for the formal part of my Major Learning Project, I know that I will still continue to play the piano for enjoyment after this project is completed. I have so much more to learn and experience when it comes to piano and music in general! One thing I know for sure, is that this project has sparked my love for piano, for music, and for learning.

-Amanda

Keeping the “Act” in Social Activism

#ECI831

Can a hashtag have impact? Can social media really cultivate change? In my experience, social media has enlightened me, inspired me, and has brought me awareness on various issues and topics, such as:

The power of social media has brought people together to fight for these issues (and more), created discussion and conversation surrounding the topics, and brought awareness to mass amounts of people. In other words, these movements were propelled through social activism.

Social activism can be broken down into two parts.

Social: It refers to using social media for activism. Social media becomes unique in the story of activism because, like Catherine says, it can “gain traction very quickly and draw in a large audience” due to its ability to share instantly.

Activism: According to Wikipedia, it is the “efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in socialpoliticaleconomic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society.” 

So in turn, social activism plays a large role in our society today when it comes to social justice issues.

However, is it enough? The current topic of debate in our #eci831 class is: Can social activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Daniel brings up an important point by saying “activism requires concrete actions and changes in behavior.” He goes on to say that using social media, such as changing a profile picture or retweeting a social justice issue, is the easy part. It’s much harder to spend time face to face, or doing something concrete, in order to bring change to a critical issue. In a Macleans article by Scott Gilmore, the term #slacktivism is highlighted. If you are new to the word, it’s “showing support for a cause with the main purpose of boosting the egos of participants in the movement.” In the article about #slacktivism, he writes:

“A slacktivist is someone who… will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head. The one thing slacktivists don’t do is help by, for example, giving money or time to those who are truly making the world a better place: the cancer researcher, the aid worker, the hospice manager.”

These are all valid points, especially since social activism can lack two big components: time and money. In saying that though, it’s important to remember the benefits that social activism can bring to our communities, our classrooms, and our world. Social media brings relevance to social justice issues through conversation and online discussions because “in today’s digital age it provides a voice for others“, a valuable point brought up by Curtis. Not only does it provide a voice for many, it also gives the opportunity to stand up for the marginalized on a larger level because it has the capacity to reach millions.

Yes, it can be dangerous to encourage social activism without action, but can it be meaningful and worthwhile? Of course. There are a lot of things to be critical about when it comes to social activism, but in the end, it’s important because it creates awareness, draws support, and brings forth a greater community for the cause.

Digital Citizenship in Social Activism

Digital citizenship plays an important role in social activism, especially in the classroom. However, the way that many educators have seen digital citizenship is much different than how it should be used in our classrooms today. Some may say that “digital citizenship can be defined as engaging in appropriate and responsible behaviour when using technology.”

Appropriate and responsible behaviour. Is that all digital citizenship is? Is that what it should be?

In my opinion, it goes far beyond the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the internet. In the words of Katia Hildebrandt, “Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online. It’s about participating in meaningful ways to promote equity in networked spaces.

If we want to raise a generation of young people who are inspired and motivated to create change, then we need to instil “digital leadership” in our students. In my latest podcast, I discussed the idea that George Couros brings up about moving from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership– “using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”

Using the internet in a responsible and ethical way is good, but using the internet to inspire and improve the lives of others is better.

Jennifer Casa-Todd brings up five important ways to use digital leadership in the elementary classroom:

  1. Empower others who have no voice
  2. Address societal inequality
  3. Promote important causes
  4. Learn and share their learning
  5. Be a more positive influence in the lives of others

Citizenship vs Digital Citizenship

Instead of separating citizenship and digital citizenship so distinctly with our students, we need to remember that technology and social media are integrated into their day-to-day lives. We should encourage them to be leaders in every aspect of their lives, including social media. Christy Fennewald brings up an interesting point when she says “citizenship doesn’t end when you shut down the laptop or silence the smartphone. It’s all around us. And it’s just citizenship, period.” As educators, we have the opportunity to cultivate student leaders and citizens who aren’t afraid of making positive change through social media.

Joel Westheimer talks about the 3 types of citizens:

  1. Personally Responsible
  2. Participatory
  3. Justice Oriented

In a recent presentation, Dr. Alec Couros draws attention to some examples that fall under the three categories of citizens, specifically online.

IMG_0887
Image from Dr. Alec Couros
(from Catherine Ready‘s blog)
  1. The personally responsible citizen might sign online petitions, share inoffensive articles, or donate online to their favourite causes.
  2. The participatory citizen might develop and/or share petitions, initiate online fundraisers, or actively share or create information for the social good.
  3. The justice oriented citizen might share articles that disrupt normative thinking, engage in controversial and uncomfortable discussion, or campaign to work toward social change and equity.

The important difference between the three types of citizens is that the justice oriented citizen looks at understanding the underlying issue and acts to solve root causes.

How do we raise these types of citizens? As a primary teacher, implementing social justice in my classroom seems overwhelming at times. However, it helps when I start with empathy. Fostering a community of empathy and understanding is where I always begin. Once students have empathy towards others, they can start to create change.

It’s important for students to know that they are not too young to make a difference and their voices matter in the movement of social activism. As educators, it’s our responsibility to empower our students so that they can use their online presence to do something positive for our world.

So, is it possible for a hashtag to have impact? Yes, but it doesn’t just stop there. Let’s model and teach our students to move from participating citizens, to engaged and justice oriented citizens. We don’t want to forget the act in #socialactivism.

The Piano Project: Week 7- Experience Fuels the End Result

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

I had a glimpse of hope this week when I was reading sheet music and I didn’t have to say “All Cows Eat Grass” every time to remember the notes. That’s what I call progress! It helped that I practiced recalling notes through the Mad Minutes that Daina suggested. In my piano video this week, I displayed some of the work I have been doing to remember the notes in the Treble Clef and Bass Clef. Sometimes I feel as if learning an instrument as an adult is very difficult, and almost impossible, but then I receive encouragement like this: “The adult brain is also chock full of life experience, which can actually be beneficial when learning to play an instrument.”

Experience.

I have realized that all of my past experience in music, such as playing guitar, singing in choir, or just listening to music intently on a daily basis, actually helps me in my process of learning the piano. Even if it takes me a while to learn the notes, know the keys, or remember the chords, I still have a vast amount of background knowledge and skills to give me the motivation I need in order to learn this new instrument. So as I near the end of this project, and when I feel discouraged that I don’t know enough, I will rely on the beauty of my experience.

So with that, here is the video of my experience from this week.

The Small Victories:

  • I was reminded by a colleague to play one hand at a time, because then I can focus on a smaller task rather than get overwhelmed by doing many tasks at once.
  • Knowing the finger placement for the Treble Clef notes is becoming more natural and efficient.
  • When I take time out of my day to play, I feel refreshed. I am realizing that playing music is a way for me to take a mental break.

The Challenges:

  • I feel as though I have been too ambitious when starting to learn a new song. Instead of learning a lot of information at once, I need to remember to break it into smaller chunks.
  • The new song I learned had sharps and naturals in the sheet music, which took me a long time to figure out how to play them properly.

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

  • I referred to the poll I put in my last blog post, which told me to learn the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” A friend found me the sheet music from the website Music Notes.
  • I practiced reading music notes with the Mad Minutes again this week.
  • I referred to the people in my life who could answer my piano questions and interject when I needed help on the spot.

Goals for Next Week

  • I am going to try using the app Trackd for collaborating on the song that my classmate Brad and I are going to play. I will add a piano track and vocals track so that Brad can add a bass guitar track. I have never used the app before, so here’s to hoping it’s user friendly and efficient!
  • I am going to focus on the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and make that my final piano song.

I am looking forward to spending the last couple weeks perfecting “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I am going to make this my main priority, instead of giving myself several small goals. Within this one song, there are many new things I can learn. Besides, who doesn’t want to get into the Christmas spirit?

-Amanda

The Piano Project: Week 6- Getting There…

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

Another week of my Major Learning Project has come and gone and I finally feel like I am getting somewhere. Instead of working on a variety of separate tasks, I focused on practicing “Part of your World“, the Little Mermaid song that I introduced last week. As I was practicing the song, I took into account all of the things I learned in my lesson with Danielle.

I focused on proper finger placement and reading the sheet music properly, both of which weren’t easy. I also added another goal this week- learning the chords of the song with the left hand. Even though it wasn’t an easy thing to do, with a lot of practice, it started to come more naturally. By the end of the week, I felt comfortable playing most of the chords while playing the melody with the right hand. I still feel like I can become even more fluent in playing the song, but I am proud of how far I have come in two weeks time.

If you want to see my progress with the song “Part of your World“, check out my recent video!

The Small Victories:

  • Even if it looked like a struggle, it only took me a short time to learn the chords for Part of Your World.
  • I spent a lot of time practicing this week, which helped me become more confident in my skills.
  • I am becoming more comfortable with reading sheet music!

The Challenges:

  • I am having difficulty remember the notes on the Bass Clef.
  • I need more practice with the C minor and the B minor chord.
  • It’s difficult to know the proper finger placement for new songs that I learn. I still need to refer to my piano-playing friends and Youtube videos for that part.

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:





Goals for Next Week

  • I will keep practicing the Bass Clef notes with the Mad Minutes I used this week.
  • I am going to keep practicing the chords for the song that my classmate Brad and I are collaborating on. Who knew B minor 7 was so difficult?!
  • I want to learn a Christmas song! I created another poll for you to help me choose.

Thanks for being a part of my piano process so far. I have learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go. However, I have realized that even if I haven’t reached a particular end goal yet, I am getting there, and that’s just where I need to be.

-Amanda

Creating a Symphony Through OEP: Open Educational Practice in the Primary Classroom

#ECI831

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock

Isn’t this the case with learning? We need community and connection with others to enhance our skills, passion, and depth. When we do this, similar to a symphony, something beautiful is created. How can we do that in the classroom? Through Open Educational Practice. Although you may question what this is, my guess is that you’ve probably used it without knowing, just as I did.

According to Catherine Cronin and Iain MacLaren, Open Educational Practice (OEP) is the “collaborative, pedagogical practices employing social and participatory technologies for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation and sharing, and empowerment of learners.”

K-12 Open Educational Practice (Roberts, Blomgren 2017)

In other words, in a primary classroom setting, OEP looks like giving students the opportunity to co-create their questions and end goals, take charge of their learning through online sources and platforms, and share their knowledge and experiences beyond the classroom to inspire others. In the words of Loreli Thibault, the intention of OEP “is to broaden learning from a focus on access to knowledge, to a focus on access to knowledge creation.”

There are many elements that make up this type of pedagogy in a K-12 Learning Environment, and Dr. Verena Roberts lays out the steps that can take you there through the Open Learning Design Intervention. I am confident that at one point or another, you have taken part in and facilitated some of these key elements of Open Educational Practice.

Stage 1: Building Relationships
Before starting any project in the classroom, a safe space needs to be established for students to feel like they belong and their voice is heard. This step is all about setting the stage and reassuring students that learning means making mistakes and growing from them. As educators, this should be our top priority in the classroom. Our students voices matter and building connection within our own community is key. Reminding kids that, throughout this whole learning process, they matter – a message that remains on my classroom door everyday.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways
This is where students can take part in co-creating their learning and sharing their desires for the learning process. Criteria is discussed, questions are posed, goals are set, choices are given, digital citizenship is instilled, and motivation begins. I really like how Dr. Verena states that this is where the deep learning occurs, which is sustainable, rather than limited and surface level. BC Campus says that “instead of using disposable assignments that offer no value to the student or the instructors, your students, under your direction and supervision, can build a resource designed to improve the learning space.” When students are asked to come up with their own questions and are given the responsibility to do their own inquiry, they show up and engage deeper.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge
Evidence of learning is displayed more formally in this stage. Throughout this whole process, students are expected to connect with outside resources, topic experts, and use Open Educational Resources online. The learners are able to engage with outside learning environments to gain valuable skills, knowledge, and experience, and then can represent their learning process in creative ways. When I asked Twitter for some examples of Open Educational Practices, one of the suggestions was a Gamified Classroom. Dean Vendramin does a great job of incorporating game-based learning in his classroom to increase engagement and life-long learning. Online tools and experiences, like this one, are a great way for students to show their learning processes and discoveries during this stage. Social media, blogs, podcasts, infographics, or digital storytelling tools are just a number of online options that enrich the learning experience.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks
How can we take our learning one step further? By allowing students to connect with others to build Personal Learning Networks, which expands their learning experiences beyond the classroom. This stage allows the students to share their voices with other students and outside sources. It brings the stages full circle, because it’s now building the relationships and trust outside of the classroom. They are able to reflect on their learning and use their voices and shared experiences for activism, connection, and empowerment. Kristen Wideen, an educator and author, went on a journey with her students called “Kids Can Create Change”. It allowed them to build Personal Learning Networks in order to promote “innovation, empowerment, risk taking, commitment, and skilled problem solving”. Through Twitter, they invited other classrooms to “identify a need in your school, community or in the world that you want to make better.” They created a global collaborative document on Book Creator app on how #kidscancreatechange so that other classrooms could share their experiences and ideas online. They wanted everyone to know that “even though they are young, they can create a huge impact.” This is an engaging yet simple way that students can develop empathy while empowering others around the globe.

OEP in the Primary Classroom
When I think of the type of learning that takes place in Open Educational Practice, I can recall some examples from my own experiences in my grade three classroom:

  • Skype Guess Who
    A game that connects classrooms in a fun and engaging way, similar to an experience like Mystery Skype, “an education game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype.
  • Twitter Challenges
    I have taken part in city-wide Twitter challenges, like the #yqreggdrop and #rbedropzone, which allowed students to use inquiry learning in order to connect and share experiences with other classrooms online.
  • Connecting with Experts
    With the internet, we have endless access to go beyond the four walls of our classroom. Instead of only reading information in textbooks, we are able to learn valuable information from the source themselves! My classroom connected with Barbara Reid, an author and clay illustrator, through Twitter. She responded to our learning process and gave us valuable information and feedback. She became a part of our journey, even though she wasn’t physically with us.

By accessing the Open Educational Resources of her website and Youtube videos, we created our own plasticine artwork based off of the type of illustrations she makes in her books. We completed the Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8: “Create art works using a variety of visual art concepts, forms and media and use “three-dimensional materials such as clay to create real textures.” When we completed our projects, we took pictures and displayed our learning on Twitter for others to see.

Even though I’ve taken part in Open Educational Practices in my primary classroom and have used pieces of the OEP stages, I have not yet completed the whole process of this type of learning. Sometimes it feels daunting to use OEP in an elementary classroom, and sometimes even impossible, but I believe that with dedication and an open mind, it is possible! I want to show you an example of how to apply it with your younger learners so that instead of it feeling intimidating, it feels motivating. By no means am I an expert with the concept, but it is something that I want to become more familiar with and encourage others to become familiar with as well.

Since I was close to hitting the target of OEP by connecting with the author and artist Barbara Reid, but didn’t quite use it to it’s full potential, I am going to show you how I would use this experience, or another art project experience, again using the stages of the Open Learning Design Intervention according to Dr. Verena.

Stage 1: Building Relationships

Before introducing the Visual Art Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes, set the stage for your students to understand that this learning experience is a process of sharing their voices and having their voices heard. Start with an informal, one-period, introduction lesson to build community in your class. Just as Barbara Reid tells stories through artwork, students should have the opportunity to share their own story before beginning their project.

  1. Display various art media for students to choose from, such as clay, pastels, water colours, paint, crayon, etc. Give them the choice of using the art medium that they connect with and enjoy using the most.
  2. They will create a visual representation with their art medium to tell a story about them, such as who they are or what they love to do, that they will later share with their classroom community.
  3. Once they have created their artwork, they will have a chance to share with their community. The class can gather in a circle and share their artwork and stories while they receive encouragement and support from one another.

Through this opportunity, students are able to listen to their community member’s stories, share their voices, build empathy and understanding, and create connections with one another.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways

In this stage, students will be introduced to the outcome, but instead of giving them all the same task, they will have choice in how they get there. They will have a chance to choose which artist they want to study and what type of art they want to model after. Not only does this apply to the original planned Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8, but it now applies to Saskatchewan Curriuclum Outcome CP3.7, which encourage students to “generate questions that arise from the investigation of a topic or area of interest to initiate inquiry” and “use guided Internet searches to investigate how artists use different art forms and media to express their ideas.”

  1. Create a virtual art gallery with an online tool like Book Creator app, or use a website like Bear Claw Gallery. Students will browse the artists and their style of art.
  2. As students are observing the art , they will decide which piece stands out to them or which artist they connect with the most.
  3. Once they have chosen the artist they want to study and the art they want to learn how to make, they will start asking questions.
  4. In the past, I have created “Wonder Walls” for students to pose questions, but in this project, I would use an online tool like Padlet to create questions on an online board so that teachers and other learners can be a part of the inquiry process. They will create questions they want to ask the artist and questions about the specific type of art the artist creates.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge

Once students have their questions created, they will start building their knowledge in more explorative ways.

  1. Connect with artists (experts) online through Twitter, Skype, Blogging, or email. Skype in the Classroom is a great way for kids to meet the artists they are learning about, especially since there is a whole program dedicated to Guest Speakers. Since this is an art project, they will also use sources like YouTube to figure out how to create the specific style of art they are learning about. If the artist is not living anymore, they can reach out to other artists who use the same type of style or medium to teach the student about the process.

2. Primary students need more guidance when it comes to asking questions and finding answers, so using Guided Inquiry is a beneficial way to support younger learners. Read Write Think has a helpful Inquiry Chart template that “enables students to gather information about a topic from several sources.” Ross Todd and Lyn Hay also developed a Guided Inquiry Template that gives guidance to the learning outcomes and questions. You can also create an online guided inquiry template, like a journal, for your students through Google Docs or Seesaw.

3. After the questions have been researched and explored, it’s time for students to display their learning. Like I said earlier, students can use things like  Social mediablogspodcastsinfographics, or digital storytelling tools to display their learning. Instead of using closed platforms like Seesaw, try to use something that can go further than the classroom.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks

Now is the time to extend the learning beyond the classroom. Students will use their inquiry process and the knowledge that they built to teach students around the globe through the internet. They are now to take on the role of the teacher so that other students can learn from them in their own classroom.

  1. Use the tools of Time Lapse or Stop Motion to share their projects and to make artwork tutorial videos. Lori Thibault does a good job of using the feature of Fast Forward to share her learning and teach others about Unicorn Art. Once students create their tutorial video, they can share it on Youtube for other classrooms to watch and learn from.
  2. Students can also step foot into other classrooms virtually with a tool like Skype or Zoom. They can be the teachers in real-time and give a step-by-step art lesson. This connection now builds Personal Learning Networks for the students to take part in.

The WHY…

This is just one example of how to use the stages of Open Educational Practice in your primary classroom, but there is always deeper learning that can be done. As I become more familiar with this concept, there are still questions that linger…

  • How do we go even deeper when building Personal Learning Networks amongst classrooms? Are there enough classrooms committed to this type of learning in order to have an online community for our students?
  • How can we facilitate a learning environment for our students where they are encouraged to think critically and responsibly?
  • Are there enough resources for primary students to be able to take part in OEP in a rich and meaningful way? What happens if we don’t have all of the resources or don’t have the connections to all of the experts in our learning?

These are some questions that I have thought of throughout my time of using Open Educational Practice in my classroom. There are always challenges that arise, and there will always be obstacles that come up. However, do the benefits of this type of learning outweigh the negatives? Absolutely. When you use Open Educational Practice in your classroom, “you are inviting your students to be part of the teaching process, participating in the co-creation of knowledge.” Using OEP in your classroom deepens the learning experience, the community, and the connection. Students deserve the opportunity to create networks and build knowledge that extends past the classroom, because when they take part in this OEP process, they are actually creating a beautiful symphony!

The Piano Project: Week 5- Back at it!

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

Last week I took a break from my piano project, but it felt good to get back into it this week. Like Catherine Ready was saying… we are already half way through our learning projects! I can’t believe it! I never anticipated that I would enjoy playing the piano this much. Even though I wish I stuck with piano growing up, it’s an enriching experience learning the piano at an older age. Now when I learn the piano, I am more determined to play the right notes and chords and reach my goals.

This week, I took your votes into account to choose the next song I learned on piano. I had an overwhelming response of… 3 votes! Okay, so maybe not as much input as I would have liked, but the majority still wins.

The winning song was Part of your World from the soundtrack of Little Mermaid. Honestly, I am glad that song won the poll. I remember learning this song when I was in piano lessons at a young age, but I didn’t have as much enthusiasm to learn it because I didn’t enjoy the practicing part of learning piano. I feel like I finally have a do-over… a fresh start… a clean slate!

In order to learn the song, I found sheet music online. I also had to revisit the resources I previously used for learning sheet music, because it was difficult to remember all of the notes at times! I put a lot of effort into actually reading the music, rather than just playing it by ear. After learning the right hand melody on my own, I decided to ask my piano-loving friend, Danielle Maley, to help me learn the proper finger placements for the song and answer other questions I had about the piano.

Since this song was longer than what I was used to playing, and more difficult, I chose to just learn the right hand and pick up the left hand chords next week. The song is not as smooth as I would like it to be, so I will also keep practicing the melody. I still want to become more fluent in reading sheet music, and practicing this song is a good way to do so. Along with Part of Your World, I also learned the E major scale. I now know the C, D, B and E major scale. Even though I have a long way to go, things are coming along, just take a look for yourself!

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

  • My friend Danielle was an awesome resource this week! It was really beneficial to meet with her and work through some of the questions I had
  • I used the mnemonic phrases “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” and “F A C E” to help me remember the notes on the Treble Clef

Goals for Next Week

  • I will keep practicing the proper finger placement and reading the sheet music for Part of Your World and if I am ambitious enough…I want to learn the left hand chords too
  • My plan is to learn the rest of the major scales! All I have left are F, G, and A.
  • Since I didn’t get to this goal this week, I still want to learn and play all major and minor chords comfortably
  • I know the Treble Clef notes, but now I want to learn the Bass Clef notes too

For those of you who are learning instruments for your project… Are you finding it hard to complete your goals within a week? Are my goals too ambitious?

Not only am I learning how to play piano, I am also learning the art of goal setting and working through challenges when skills don’t come as quickly. I am glad that this learning project is a process and we can all go at our own pace. On that note, here’s to another week of goal setting, learning, and celebrating successes!

-Amanda