My classmates have been blogging about the challenge of keeping up with the required workload of our ECMP355 course. Thursday, morning I woke to find a message that one of my assignments that I posted to my blog did not link. I still cannot get that little project to work. Friday, feeling unwell, when my Mentor offered the option to take a day off from Skyping with his class, I took it. I listened to my mother’s advice, that a good teacher also knows her limitations… Ha, well that might have just come back to get me…
Today, I ran around getting ready for a soccer tourney in Swift Current and zipped over to the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center to chat with the biologist about the Voicethread I plan to create for Bill, my mentor’s students, and is the final project for ECMP class. I was home before 3:00 p.m. I sat down to start blogging and my phone rang. The Superintendent of Student Support Services for Prairie South School Division was on the line, calling to offer me a one-month teaching position. Teaching. Really teaching. Teaching one-on-one with a ten-year old student.
My head started to spinning thinking about my other commitments:
1. The ECMP355 Course.
2. The grade ten student that I am currently volunteer teaching at John Chisholm on Thursday mornings so that he can earn his grade ten art credit. Those mornings we are in the studio. We are already in need of more studio time, and we loose another week when my grade ten student is gone camping for a week. I need to spend a lot of time at John Chisholm this coming week.
3. And Bill’s class, the class that will work on and interact with my “What is a Habitat? Owls and Urbanization” final project that needs to be ready for the 8th of June. This coming week must be production week.
So here I am sitting in Swift Current, typing on my laptop and thinking about grade four content-appropriate novels for a grade one reading level. I’m thinking of launch lessons for Owls on line and perhaps Owls with my grade four student. I’m thinking of bubble gum art and our noon hours in the cafeteria. I’m thinking that this is my first real job ever. I’m thinking about where I’ll start Monday with my grade four student and where I hope my final project will lead Bill’s students in two weeks. I’m thinking that if I don’t sleep I might have a chance of getting some of the work done. I’m thinking something has to give, but usually, I get it all done and I get it all done well. I love being busy.
I love learning on the fly. I love being challenged and I love resilient youth. I know my final project must, because of time-constraints, become something different than what I have originally envisioned. But that’s OK. As the Superintendent was sharing about the student, and his needs, I began to think about the technological tools that are in my teaching tool belt now, tools that might be helpful for a student whose reading comprehension and decoding skills differs by three years.
If I wasn’t feeling the crunch of this class before that three p.m. phone call, I certainly am now. I need more time. I need a full day with my grade ten student this week. I need two weeks in the production of my project for Bill’s students. I need a week to gather and plan for my grade four student.
This is reality. I start Monday, 8:50 a.m. Ready, Set, Go. I’m a teacher!
Monday, a grade six student called out to me from down the hall, “Hey Ms. Saas.” He was in North Carolina.
This week, I brainstormed and gave feedback with three classes of grade six students. I drank my tea, watched many run-thoughs of videos styled after Commoncraft tutorial videos. I learned a lot about adaptation, mutation, natural selection… and who in grade six has really ugly nose hairs. No, you cannot smell tea through the webcam, but I got most of them to try!
I love teaching and learning this way. The only other experience I had with learning with technology was boring. But these connections are dynamic.
Oh and ya, did you know caterpillars, elephants and polar bears are “freaks!”
Tonight in our on-line breakout rooms, Chelsea H. shared the TED Talk she watched, How to Grow your Own Air. She shared that there are three different kinds of plants that, when added to our environment, significantly clean our air. The man making the presentation, Chelsea shared, works in the cleanest air environment on our planet because of these plants. The speaker stated that if we lived in a bottle with these plants, and then put a cap on our bottle, we could survive.
Interestingly, this TED Talk fell on the heels of other discussion based on environmental degradation. We live in a continually at-risk bottle-like bubble ourselves. The plants make a difference, and they are simply plants, but how useful are they unless, of course, we incorperatie them into our bottle?
The break-out room felt a little odd and rushed. My group members commented likewise. I would have liked to have the timer running so we all could have had a visual on how long we had left for sharing. It turned out we didn’t need to rush, as there was quite a bit of time remaining after we had all spoken quickly. This was our first time in the chat room, and I know that next time I will engage more with my group members, asking more questions, going further into the topic, even if that means I don’t get time to share my topic.
My classmate blogged about the challenge of bringing her beliefs into the classroom. The following are my current three favourite videos that I use to engage my students in discussion, while at the same time, staying true to who I am and what I believe.
· What we hear is only one layer.. what is the greater meaning in the author’s message?
· What choices are we going to make and what choices do we have no power to make?
· As a child, what are my rights and responisbilitiles? How are these rights and responsiblies protected, and what does it mean to have voice?
Story telling -Voice threading…A Collaborative Creation by
The Back Alley Crew
Director: Jessy Lee
Script Writers: The Crew
Special Effects and Audio: The Crew
Slurpee Provider: Cori
I love storytelling! But I’m tired of my stories. The task was to reflect on using one of the 50 ways to tell a story tools and reflect on its application to teaching… I remember two things from class, try voice thread, and try telling a story in five frames. I’m sure the two were not related but they stuck in my mind.
There is gaggle of younger middle years kids that live on my street, and they all have far greater imaginations than I do. It was a pretty simple decision to teach the tool, observing its application to learning.
I played with voice thread a bit in the afternoon, and it looked easy to use. After school yesterday, I gathered the crew and set the task. They were to tell a story in 5 frames and the movie script had to be under one minute. I modeled how to story board by writing a quick story about the tree outside our house. I listed the tasks on a piece of paper. I told them that each of had to talk for one segment (the segments being divided into 12 seconds each, but they were soon negotiating among themselves). We talked about the parts of a story and what makes a story interesting. The crew started after school, shot the scenes at 7:00 p.m., and had everything finished by 8:23 p.m with slurpees promised for the next day, my treat.
The project turned into a collaborative creation. They had entire ownership of their project. Capes, costumes and makeup went out the door, down the alley. Halloween decorations where rummaged through. As told to me, these are their titles: Zach is the Cinematographer, Taneshia is the props manager, and Jessy Lee is the director. Rebeca is the villain and Taylor is the Hero. Script was a collaborative effort..
The kids were excited to see it posted to a blog, and to have it sent to each of their emails. Each of them said, “thanks for such a great time.” The applications are endless, in every subject, for introducing topics, for engaging in debate, and for celebrating student success. I also see this tool as mean to give voice to students who are anxious about face-to-face interactions, or students who may require more time to process content. The tool also offers a product that is easy to make and is visually gratifying.
The Crew know that their story will change, that others will add to it, or comment on it. They were OK with that. Their plan is to wait until others comment and then comment again.
The 8 places that story my life… so far 🙂