Reflections on Creating an E-Portfolio

The final assignment in ETAD470 was to create an e-portfolio. During the creation of my e-portfolio I learned several things:

Man in "Creative Commons" glasses

cc licensed flickr photo shared by A. Diez Herrero

I learned about assigning copyright and creative commons licenses on my work through scribd.com. I made most of my documents, including lesson plans, available under the “Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike” license which allows others to “remix, tweak, and build upon my work non-commercially, as long as they credit me and license their new creations under the identical terms.”

Copyright Locked

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Irish Typepad

However, I did place “Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved” on two documents which were academic papers with ideas gathered and synthesized from other sources.  I felt that the ideas in those documents should be cited if used academically, as someone could stumble upon them and use them in their university work, and I support academic integrity as expected of universities. In addition, I also learned that on scribd.com I could disallow copy/paste abilities from my documents if I chose.Although I’ve learned a lot, I still have much to learn in the area of copyright/licensing of works.

html tattoo

cc licensed flickr photo shared by webmove

I learned, by experimentation, a bit of HTML coding, solely because I needed figure out how to change the font on some pages to unify them with the rest of the site. I also used HTML to link directly to my blog and from a title page on my e-portfolio, and vice versa. I created a screencast, (another something I learned to do) using Screencast-O-Matic, to share this info, as we were all struggling with it when working on our assignments in class.(I am still working on embedding the video here so please click on the above link titled “screencast.”)

I’m learning about topics, subjects, content and also practical technological and communication skills while working on this assignment. Although the actual time collecting and aggregating the documents was minimal, I spent hours and hours adding, changing, researching, discovering HTML and of course playing with themes and settings. Actually, it’s very addicting, although others may not agree. This is another assignment (in addition to this blog) from ETAD470 that I will never really be completed as I can add, review, reflect on and share my e-portfolio with family, friends and colleagues.

So, without further ado, here is the link to my e-portfolio, or you can click the page title “e-portfolio” above and it will take you directly to it. My screencast is for anyone who would like to do the same.

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Filed under Reflections, screencast, Teaching Tools, Technology

What Is Creativity and How Can We Teach It?

I was inspired to do a post on this topic after reading my group partner Greg Reese’s blogpost and podcast titled Creativity… Can It Be Taught? From the podcast,  video, and Marvin Bartel’s work shared by Greg, I gathered some opinions that others have about creativity:

1)  Greg Reese*: Creativity can’t be taught explicitly; teachers need to create conditions where students can blossom; a teacher needs to know when to get out of the way.

2) Kirby Ferguson: Copy, Transform, Combine “These are the basic elements of all creativity, I think everything is a remix, and I think this is a better way to conceive of creativity.”

3) Marvin Bartel: People are naturally imitators, but this does not promote innovation or critical thinking. Limitations and restrictions can promote creativity in students in a way that leaving them to do what they please cannot.

Young Child Painting

CC licensed flickr photo shared by allee-baba

Many people immediately think about painting, drawing, and  other visual arts when they hear the word creativity. Some may even think about other art forms like music, drama, dance or even language arts, writing and poetry. Creativity is sometimes just a buzz-word to me. Therefore, I’ll start with an exploration of what creativity means.

Wikipedia states that “creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby something new is created which has some kind of subjective value (such as a joke, a literary work, a painting or musical composition, a solution, an invention etc). It is also the impetus and motivational force behind any given act of creation, and it is generally perceived as being associated with intelligence and cognition.”

The article goes on to note the many definitions of creativity from different disciplines including education, science and psychology with only a brief mention of creativity in the arts.

Creativity is also linked to words such as imagination, progressive, original.

For several assignments that I have completed to Education course requirements the class was instructed to complete assignments ‘creatively’, meaning through artistic representation or “something other than an essay.” While this is great for me personally, I feel like some students become trapped in this unrestricted assignment, similar to Bartel’s points above. Many students bring very creative ideas in essay format. It can be very restrictive to say to someone, especially with an over excited and bubbly disposition, “Be creative!”

Creative Pincusion

CC licensed flickr photo shared by The HUB Network

After a 3-year B.A. in Studio Art, 2 years in the College of Education and repeatedly having others refer to me as ‘creative,’  my understanding of creativity is to relate it to problem solving. For me, true creativity is using what you have to accomplish what you need/want to do. This might involve putting two or more things/ideas that have already been used together, or it might be entirely unique. Creativity in the arts refers to solving the problems that come with creating something (a product). For example, a painter needs to discover how to mix paints to get a particular colour, or how to represent a specific texture on a two dimensional surface (process).

The more I look into how I think about creativity, the more I discover that these things have already be thought of or said or researched and I realize I’m thinking in circles, and that this post is getting very long. Thank you to Wikipedia (look under “Aspects of Creativity”) for summing some of them for me.

In reading more on his website I discovered that Bartel also compares artistic behaviour to the scientific method very well. He explores “the relationship between art and learning to think.” This is akin to my thinking on the topic.

Creativity = Thinking

CC licensed flickr photo shared by davidyuweb

In sum, I’d like to finish with one of Greg’s ideas: “we don’t want a multiple choice type of education”. I believe that we need to teach students how to problem solve, how to discover the answers, how to ask questions, and how to think for themselves. (Marvin Bartel discusses how to do this in visual art classes as well.) This is ultimately the scientific method – problem, hypothesis, research, experiment, analysis, conclusion – and when this method is done without explicit direction it becomes inquiry (another buzzword in education). Therefore creativity=thinking. 
Finally, to relieve myself from over thinking and obsession on the topic (creative overload?? ha ha) I had some fun! To respect copyright I will not post these, but I strongly suggest a Google Image search of “Calvin and Hobbes + Creativity.” 
*Greg, I hope I summarized your thoughts accurately, if not I apologize. Either way you inspired ‘creative’ thought in me.

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Filed under Creativity, Problem Solving

Playing with Google Forms

**UPDATE: March 18. I learned that I would not share the responses from a paragraph-type question. Unfortunately, I had someone copy and paste an entire Wikipedia article as a joke, which made the results confusing to read and also happened to be offensive and therefore flagged – or whatever it’s called when something cannot be read by the public online anymore (I had a friend show me and we couldn’t view the results unless I logged onto Google Drive). However, this was a good experience because I learned both how to remove a question from a form and how to erase all the responses and start new (unfortunately I had to erase all or none so I lost the previous responses including some great stories). Future: only have the results publicly available if the answers are not typed in freely. I could post a message for those interested in the results to contact me if necessary.**

I wanted to do some playing with Google Forms as I missed this topic when it was presented in class. This is practice for when, not if, I use them in the future for:

suitcase covered with freeform knitting and crochet

CC licensed flickr photo shared by freeform by prudence

Organizing events, trips (professional or personal… like organizing family Christmas!)

Getting to know students and parents/organizing interviews

School-wide Surveys

Tests and Quizes

3D Bar Graph Meeting

CC lienced flickr photo shared and created by lumaxart
www.lumaxart.com

Math and Graphing

Student created surveys and research

Collecting opinions and preferences from those who are too busy and/or too shy to speak up.

Collecting feedback on anything.

Students’ record of readings/homework/optional work.

suggestion box

CC licensed flickr photo shared by sethoscope

Alternative to the  “suggestions box” or “questions, concerns, ideas box” (similar to our exit slips in ETAD 470)

Orders (i.e. lunch orders, clothing orders)

Creating essay or story outlines

Peer/Self Evaluation reports

Guided Reflection Document for Staff and Students

Voting System

**Some of my ideas came from here, and there are many, many more.  

Here’s my Google Form:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/18bzspof3AcGWNx-ZPVt7whGrHBF4gkNn085ltvPhNbk/viewform

Fill it out for some fun if you like and/or share it with anyone. There will be an option for you to review the results etc. after you finish. I’ve added my personal Facebook friends to complete it as well so I’m hoping for many creative answers!

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Filed under Google, Problem Solving, Teaching Ideas, Teaching Tools, Technology

My First Podcast

For our blog assignment this week we were required to create a podcast.  This was my first so I’ll just explain how I recorded, edited, and published my podcast.

To record my voice I used the default voice recorder on my Galaxy S3 phone which I then uploaded to my brand new Evernote account. I also added the music file to Evernote by simple grabbing and dragging of the file from iTunes and dropping it on my open Evernote tab. Then I came to the school to do my podcast editing in the Mac Lab as the software is already on those computers. I used Garage Band to edit the audio tracks together, and also to edit out a few ums and ahhs, but mostly to get rid of long awkward pauses where I though about what to say next. This shortened the clip by about four minutes! One problem I encountered was that the downloaded audio track of my voice saved as a quicktime player that was only offering me to save it as a movie file. I eventually, after a brief Google session, tried importing the file into iTunes, which worked and I was from there able to import it into Garage Band. Finally, I uploaded my finished product to SoundCloud and pasted the widget code from SoundCloud into my post during HTML view (after a receiving a very timely email which helped me out!).

My podcast is on the topic of early literacy, specifically phonemic awareness in young children.

Music I used: E.T. The Bicycle Chase – of which I own the good old fashioned hard CD copy – and because I love it so much, here’s a link to the full CD by the Moscow Festival Orchestra. 

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Filed under Podcast, Teaching Ideas, Technology

For Beginning Teachers: “Stay Sane” Resources

Here is a scary thought for us newbie teachers: CTV News clip: Teachers Dropping like Flies (my own made-up headline).

Stress ball being squeezed.

cc licenced flickr photo shared by bottled_void

We are all trying to find balance, but sometimes that seems impossible for me and I’m not even out there working yet. I was recently chatting with one of my high school teachers who congratulated me on beginning the profession, but added something along the lines of “your in for a challenging career.” I think most of us are feeling excited and ready to get out there while also listening to the public, friends, other teachers, and possibly kids even, who remind us the difficulties, challenges and stress that come with the job.

Sometimes it makes us want to turn around and look in to something else. Other times we sort of ignore those voices and  take the cheesy “follow our dreams” attitude. I believe that both are valid thought processes for us as pre-service teachers. Here are some of the bits I’ve come across in the last few weeks that speak to my demographic: beginning teachers who are concerned about the real issue of teacher burnout.

The Myth of the Super Teacher – Witty talk for beginning teachers. Worth the twelve minutes! Shared by Dean Shareski on his first of four relative blogposts.

I’m Tired – Blogpost by George Couros on exhaustion and it importance of just taking a break. You gotta do what you gotta do!

15 Pieces of Advice from Veteran Teachers -The advertising gets annoying, but I think these are great things to read – I’ll want to read them right before September of my first teaching job.

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Reflections on creating an Acceptable Use Policy

This week Julie, John, Greg and I handed in our Acceptable Use Policy(AUP) assignment. I never thought I would create that jumble of words that I read and signed as a student… or hopefully read. The readability and understandably of our policy was important to us. How do you put enough in, but keep it short and simple enough that students and parents will actually read it?

It was useful to ponder how we would explain the policy to students and parents, and with that how we would use technology and the internet in our future classrooms. I’m reminded of times I’ve spent thinking about classroom rules. It was also a continuation of my digital-citizenship learning. We had to imagine all the possible positives and drawbacks, make sure we filled any loopholes, but also to not make it so restrictive that nothing good could be created or learned. We surely didn’t want this sign hanging just inside the door.

Homemade sign: NO ELECTRONICS

CC licensed flickr photo shared by Paul Allison

One thing I learned after the process of creating the AUP was that there are so many “how to’s” and other resources out there, even for something like this. This was my favourite resource on the topic.  As amateur policy makers we were able to gather enough information to create this policy (although fictional). It is yet another reason for me to stick with my new-found online presence/learning, I am still amazed to find what’s out there!

My most recent online learning/leisure: watching TED talks on my new-to-me smartphone via the TED app. Check it out

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Filed under Appropriate Use, Technology

Higher Order Thinking and my 3C’s

Today I stumbled across a detailed document called Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. The pdf is lengthy, so skip to page 7 for a visual. This updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy is very similar, but it contains new digitized verbs for the 21st century. Things that we will need to teach to our students so they can survive in the digital world. The document speaks to the importance of communication and collaboration based on an official Google blog identifying the most important traits for their employees.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy (revised)

cc licenced (BY )flickr photo shared by dkuropatwa

Back to the visual on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (page 7). The author included a communication spectrum describing the types of communication skills students would be using as they achieved higher order thinking. At the lower end of the spectrum, students would be searching,  texting, using email, bookmarking. At the higher end students would be commenting, debating, collaborating, as well as designing, programming, publishing. These, therefore, are the types of things we need to encourage our students to do.

You Are What You Create

cc licenced (BY) flickr photo shared by wiredforlego

It’s encouraging to note that most of, if not all my assignments for this university term require   some sort of creating or creativity. From self-proposed painting projects, to creative presentations and video assignments, to this blog assignment, I am gaining some experience and ideas for projects that require higher order thinking skills. I’ve decided (unless someone out there has already named this trio) to remember these three important higher order thinking skills as the 3C’s: Communication, Collaboration, and Creation.

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Filed under Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, Technology

Let Me Introduce Myself…

As part of my requirements for my Educational Technology class here is my first YouTube video.

ETAD 470 really could be called “Technology 101” for me: I’m learning a lot!
So, here am I, this is why I want to be a teacher, and a story about Mr. G, a teacher who inspired me.

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Filed under About

Teaching (Distracted?) Technology Geeks

This New York Times article discusses student attention spans, and teachers’ thoughts on how technology is affecting students. It begins with a woesome tale of student disengagement, vast amounts of screen viewing time, and lower quality student work. Then the “Big D,” Distraction. However, not every insight on technology from the teacher survey was negative. Research, math and reading skills were said to  improve. The article goes on to say that labeling students as “distracted” is judgmental towards the generation.

Technology Is Not Technology if it was Invented Before You Were Born

CC licensed to lgb06, Flickr
Quote from Sir Ken Robinson during Keynote Speech at PETE&C 2010.
“Technology is not technology if it was invented before you were born”
Created with fd’s Flickr Toys
Original image from yashrg on Flickr

I, like some of the teachers quoted in the article, still have optimism for students and teachers. Since our learners are plugged into technology to such a high extent, our teaching and connecting with these students will need to change, and likely revolve more and more around technology. Compared with you or I, these students are total technology geeks who should be teaching us. For me this means that I need to learn more about technology so that I can teach with technology, and teach students how to use it responsibly.

George Couros  took a closer look about what it means to learn with technology vs. learn about technology. It reminds me of the subtle, but significant difference between “assessment for learning” and “assessment of learning.”

Using technology to engage and teach our children is inevitable, however, there are words of caution. Kathy Cassidy , who teaches primary students imparts, “Technology should not be used to do what can be done without it.” This makes sense, however, since our tweens and teens are so into their phones and iPads, maybe we need technology to get through to them, to meet them on their level.

I was inspired by a teacher connecting with her students via Google Forms while reading George Couros’s blog. How very encouraging! Once the connection was made on a personal level, via technology, this teacher was able to better connect with the students face to face.

More teaching and learning tools from Google can be found at http://www.google.com/edu/.

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Filed under Teaching Ideas, Teaching Tools, Technology

The Birds and the Bees of Technology

CC Licensed, taken by kalavinka

As a new member of the blogging community and soon to be educator I am further encouraged to dive right in to educational technology. I didn’t need to search far for blogs that spoke to the need for teachers to take up arms and educate themselves and their students. One of the most important technological topics to educate children and teens on is acceptable and appropriate use.  It reminds me of “the talk” our parents or health teachers had with us. It’s important information, often awkward – because unlike “the talk” the kids really do know more than the parents or teachers, and the kids are going to do it anyway and already are. This is about preparing students for the future, and also about remedying ignorant and negative reviews from whom students should see as trusted adults, as exemplified in George Couros‘ story.

This shall be the start of my journey to educating myself enough to give “the talk” to my future students, hopefully making them think before they do online.

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