Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Day 106: Power of Teacher Collaboration - #CraftReconciliation

This week has been a week of eye-opening, mind-exploding learning about the power of teacher collaboration.

SCDSB is working with a variety of other school boards including Wikwemikong High School,
Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School, Orangeville Secondary School and Mine Centre Elementary School to participate in Wab Kinew's #CraftReconciliation challenge. Wab Kinew made the following challenge to Canadian educators. 

We decided that while Minecraft was a great hook for student engagement, we wanted to make sure the learning was really deep and student-led around the theme of reconciliation. This has led to a group of 28+ classes working together to support each other in completing this challenge. Classes will be getting together synchronously (in smaller groups) throughout the project via Google Hangouts. They will be sharing and collaborating in an online discussion forum (our Provincial virtual learning environment or vLE). Teachers from this interdisciplinary group have all contributed to creating an amazing set of learning activities including; 
  • a virtual "handshake" where students share a short media piece about themselves
  • an interactive map where we will embed information and media about all the communities participating
  • background information building learning activities including articles to read, interactive digital vocabulary building activities, literacy activities, cultural activities, etc. 
  • collaborative annotation activities
  • lip dub activity where all classes will lip synch to the same song and we will create a video mash up
  • a Good Reads group for students reading novels on the theme of reconciliation or starting over
This week has been a week of teacher planning. Our first student Google Hangout with students is next week. Yesterday teachers from SCDSB, Orangeville and Rama First Nation worked together face-to-face to plan. We spent part of the day in a Google Hangout with the participating teachers from Wikwemikong First Nation who were also meeting and planning face-to-face on Manitoulin Island. Then today, I had the opportunity to meet and plan with an amazing teacher from Mine Centre Ontario who will be working with us. I can't wait to learn more about the communities that feed into Mine Centre Elementary School. 

Every single teacher has brought a different set of strengths to the table. Each one has shared ideas and improved upon the project. Some teachers have strengths in technology. Some have strengths in teaching and learning about Indigenous cultures or Canadian History. Some have mad language (Ojibwe) skills. Some have strength in encouraging really deep learning and thinking in students around the themes of power and reconciliation. Some teachers are connection makers. Some are artists. Each teacher has contributed to the learning of the others in the project. Today I read my first bilingual introduction post in our forum written in both Ojibwe and English. 

This project has taken on a mind of its own. What started as a way to simply help students and teachers participate in Wab Kinew's challenge has become a much larger, much richer student collaboration and teacher-directed professional development opportunity. I have already learned so much from my colleagues across the province and we haven't even had our first real official student collaboration yet! 

Please follow our project at . We will also be tweeting and sharing with the hashtag #CraftReconciliation . If you have resources and links to share to help teachers and students learn about reconciliation please use the hashtag #learntr .

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Day 105: What is Screencast-o-matic?

Have you noticed the Screencast-o-matic icon on the desktop of school computers?

Screencast-o-matic is a tool for creating a screencast or video of your computer screen while you narrate. This is a great tool for students to record their thinking. For example, students could use the Mathies Notepad tool to complete a math problem and record their voice explaining their thinking.

Here is a document explaining How to Use Screencast-o-matic.

An example Screencast:

Friday, 12 February 2016

Day 104: Getting started with MinecraftPE on the iPad

I was chatting with a teacher about Minecraft Pocket Edition on the iPad today. He was wondering about how to get started… I encouraged him to think about the following steps and check out our Minecraft blog:

Step 1: See Minecraft as a Learning Tool
Minecraft is highly engaging game for many of our students and it has the potential to add great value to learning. We need to support the students in seeing the opportunities for deep learning and ensure they know it’s not just from playing Minecraft, it’s what happens as a result. When students know their learning purpose and audience, Minecraft become an opportunity to show their creativity and develop problem solving, communication and collaboration skills. 

Step 2: Purchase the MinecraftPE app
Then talk to your principal and explain why/how you want to engage students with Minecraft. The app costs $9.99 per iPad and can be purchased for school iPads through Airwatch by submitting a helpdesk ticket. The ticket must be submitted by the school principal and include a budget code. You can share this document with your administrator: How to request an app in Airwatch and to save you time here is the link to the app from the VPP store that you will need:  

Step 3: Learn How the Game Works
You don’t need to be an expert on how to play the game but having a basic understanding will help you to imagine what is possible. My best advice for learning how to play is to just try the game or even better, play with your students! Have the students show you the basic controls and ask them how they think we could use Minecraft in the classroom for learning. 

Step 4: Academic Purpose - Design your Activity
Many of our students already know how to play Minecraft and the game can engage students in a diverse range of subjects. It’ essential to begin by giving students clear learning goals and an authentic audience. For example, have students challenge another class to solve math problems involving fractions within Minecraft. 

There are many sources of inspiration online. Many resources may be de designed for the computer version of the game but you can still use the ideas.

Consider using multiplayer and have students collaborate. The game allows up to 5 students in one world. How to Play Multiplayer with MinecraftPE on a SCDSB iPad

Embed opportunities for your students to document their learning.
  • It is easy to use an iPad camera to film over their shoulder (but sometimes the sound isn’t great so it’s important to select where you film). Here is an example of a student explaining his learning during a tour of his medieval world: Lord Delaire’s Castle.
  • Take screenshots (How to take a screenshot on the iPad) and add them to their SCDSB Google Drive, which they can share with you.
  • Upload the screenshots into the Explain Everything app and talk about their ideas. Check out this example: Minecraft + Explain Everything.

Finally, remember to keep the activity fun and open. The power of Minecraft for learning is how it connects players socially and inspires creativity!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Day 102: CODE Robotics Inquiry Launch at Prodomax

Scratch Dance Pad
The CODE Robotics Project is an opportunity for elementary students, from 13 participating schools, to engage in learning through robotics, leading to opportunities for the development of interactive, collaborative, entrepreneurial and problem solving skills.

To launch our inquiry we brought together a group of educators and co-op students, from the participating schools, for a day of hands on learning around robotics, STEAM and coding at Prodomax in Barrie. The teachers and co-op students were challenged through a series of gamified exploration spaces including: a WeDo coding table, EV3 coding space, robot maze with Dash and Dot, a Sphero Pollock Art activity, a virtual reality table (with Google Cardboard), Bayblade building battle with WeDo, a Scratch Dance Pad and a building station. After completing a challenge at one of the hands on learning stations, educators could award themselves a badge and check out their progress on the summary board.

Prodomax by @HT_Library08

We also had an opportunity to go on a tour of Prodomax and see real world examples of robotics in action. We would like to thank Prodomax for welcoming us today into their environment, which inspired our learning and gave it context. A special thank you to Jane McPherson, Bill Richardson and Marc Lemieux for sharing their knowledge with us, helping the day run smoothly and for the engaging tours!

In the afternoon we learned more about the EV3 robots through an interactive series of activities led by Ramy, Chris and Paul from Logics Academy. We were challenged to problem solve and think critically while exploring and creating with the EV3. With great support, we soon felt confident that we could take our robotic skills to the next level and creating our own programs!

See a Storify summary of the Tweets from our day of learning: CODE Robotics Inquiry Launch Tweets.

For SCDSB educators, check out our CODE Robotics Learning Story.

Follow #SCDSBbot on Twitter and our website to learn more.

Tyler Cave, Amy Szerminska, Chris Gilewicz, Marci Duncan and Pat Miller