technology

Evaluating using the WWWDOT Framework

Yesterday I came across this Edutopia article on the WWWDOT framework. I find that teaching students to be critical consumers of the information they read on the internet is a large task in Grade 6 so I am always looking for different strategies to help them with this process.

I decided to turn the 6 questions or steps into an infographic that I can display in my classroom or provide to students. I used a new to me tool, Venngage.com. It was pretty easy to pick up fairly quickly and the library of images and templates was excellent considering it is a free website.

Here is my finished product:

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.03.57 PM

https://infograph.venngage.com/p/137187/wwwdot-framework

Source: Zhang, S., Duke, N. K. and Jiménez, L. M. (2011), The WWWDOT Approach to Improving Students’ Critical Evaluation of Websites. Read Teach, 65: 150–158.
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Tackling Conferences as a Team

This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend the IB Annual Regional Conference of the Americas hosted in Toronto, Ontario. The theme for the conference was Learning Together, and there was over 1,400 educators from around the world in attendance. With the conference happening so close to my school, we were able to send a strong team of 19 to the conference from across the PYP, MYP and DP teaching teams within the school.

One of the challenges that I have experienced at conferences is often wanting to be in more than one place at a time. Often, there are two or more sessions happening simultaneously that I am interested in going to. The IB Conference is no exception to this rule! With having a strong team of people attending a conference together, it is possible to use technology to help everyone gather knowledge from multiple sessions that are happening at the same time so people don’t have to worry about not being in two places at once.

The first time that I saw this approach being used was at Integrated 2014 in Portland, Oregon. The conference organizers created a hyperlinked GoogleDoc that listed all of the conference sessions and encouraged participants to record there notes in the document for all of the conference attendees to share. Throughout the sessions, participants helped to build a robust document with notes from all of the sessions. After the conference, participants could read about other workshops, click on links and benefit from the shared knowledge of other participants. Even if you had attended this conference as the only teacher from your school or district, you still had a ‘team’ to learn with and from. Although this document was very useful, it was overwhelming the quantity of notes that it included and the context of note taking varied among participants.

If you are fortunate enough to be attending a conference with a team of educators from your school or district, it is a wonderful opportunity to harness technology to fuel a collaborative team approach to tackling the conference! It also allows members of your team who are not able to attend the conference to benefit from the knowledge gained at the conference as the document can be shared with a wider audience after the fact.

In advance of the conference, an online collaborative document can be created in a tool such as GoogleDocs and shared with the members of your team that are attending the conference. When setting up the document you might want to consider what format would make the most sense for note taking. Is there certain information that you would like from each session (i.e., names of the presenters, email addresses, links)? Do you want the notes to be anonymous or would you like people to attach their name to the notes? How can the ‘comments’ feature be used? Can a highlighting colour system be created to help draw attention to action items? One tip is to use the ‘Table of Contents’ feature within GoogleDocs to create a hyperlinked schedule at the beginning of the document to make navigation easier.

Following the conference, it might be helpful to have one person take a few minutes to ‘clean up’ up the document. This does not mean removing any notes, simply looking for places where there are extra spaces that could be removed, making font size consistent, and other things to make the document visually appealing for when it is shared with a wider audience.

In using this approach at the IB conference, I found that my own experience was enriched by the experiences of my colleagues who were also in attendance. I was able to gain knowledge from sessions I did not attend in person and I am able to start specific conversations with people about the sessions they attended.

I hope that this type of collaboration and sharing becomes a standard practice at more conference in the future.

 

 

Mistakes Educators Make With Technology

This morning while going through my Feedly, I came across a article titled 3 Mistakes Parents Make with Technology. After reading through the article that outlined common mistakes including not setting limits, not engaging in family technology activities, and parents also being tech addicts, I was struck with thinking about what are the mistakes that educators make with technology. In thinking about mistakes that I have made with technology and observations I have observed, I have come up with this short list of mistakes that I think are important to address.

The first mistake that I think educators make is focusing on the technology. Often educators start with the technology or add the technology on top of what they are already doing, instead of focusing on how technology can be used to amplify strong pedagogical principles. I utilize TPACK as a framework when I am conceptualizing how technology can support my instruction. Through this process, I help to ground my use of technology with the pedagogical and content knowledge that is necessary to build a strong instructional program. I think that it is important that educators are constantly reflection on the relationship between technology-pedagogy-content to ensure that technology is enhancing the learning process.

The second mistake that I feel educators make is not taking advantage of the expert in the room – the students. Even though I feel comfortable using technology and have been using it since I was in elementary school, the kids in my sixth grade class constantly amaze me with their knowledge – I cannot even imagine what the difference would be in a high school class. With this being said, I think that too often, educators don’t use the strengths of their students. Perhaps, you have one student who is very knowledgeable and keen with technology – they can become your resident tech support and help other students who run into trouble. You can ask your students to think of places where tools they are using can be incorporated in an academic setting. Give students a leadership opportunity by establishing a student tech team to help build teachers technological knowledge.

The third mistake I think educators are guilty of is not having the right mindset when things don’t go as planned. Technology will fail. The power will go out. The internet will go down. Your projector won’t work. There will be a program update and your instructions won’t work. Someone will forget their password. All of these things WILL HAPPEN, I guarantee it. When these things happen, you can either approach the situation looking to place the blame on someone else, or you can make the best of it and have a back up plan. Use it as an opportunity to teach kids problem solving skills – these things happen in real life. As the lead learner, these situations provide a wonderful opportunity for you to model a mindset that students can learn from.

I’m sure that there are other common mistake that educators make regarding technology but I feel that these three underpin some of the stress teachers feel when they consider where to begin with the effective use of technology.

Quick Tech Tip: Simple English

When my students are researching, they often find Wikipedia articles that they want to use to help them grasp a quick understanding of a topic before digging in to find other primary and secondary sources of information. Depending on the topic, some Wikipedia articles can be written at a very high reading level that can provide challenges for Elementary School students or English Language Learners to understand. One ‘solution’ to assist with this is the use of the ‘Simple English’ language from the ‘Language’ options on Wikipedia. Many articles have this as a language option and it does a good job on simplifying the content to make it easier to comprehend.

From the Wikipedia Homepage you can automatically select ‘Simple English’ as the language you would like to search in.

As you can see, the ability to select what language you would like to search in can be found on the left hand sidebar. Wikipedia Homepage Simple English.png

After clicking on ‘Simple English’, you will be directed to an onmibox (search box) where you can search for articles in Simple English.

Wikipedia Simple English Search Page.png

You can also perform a search in English and then select ‘Simple English’ from the language menu if you find that the article is too challenging to read.