Last week was a good but busy week at the school. I have been doing an introductory unit in my new Business/Technology 09 class on digital citizenship. I found many good sources but the one that I liked most was a program called Digital Bytes (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/training/9-12/digital-bytes) put out through @commensense media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/). Students looked a videos from a variety of digital citizenship view points from footprints (I prefer concept of tattoos) to cyberbullying to business ideas and more. Students were engaged in the materials but more importantly shared and posted reflections and images to show their learning (http://oneillbt09.wikispaces.com/Digital+Citizenship). I was really impressed with the quality of the work the kids did and was impressed how they used the tools of Sway (https://sway.com/) and Adobe Spark (https://spark.adobe.com/) to create reflections and images. I would highly recommend checking out this activity and looking into becoming a common sense media certified digital citizenship educator. This unit couldn't have coincided better with a presentation we have last Monday through Sask Tel's I Am Stronger project (http://iamstronger.ca/). We were lucky enough to have Dr. Sameer Hinduja (http://www.hinduja.org/)c ome and address our student body on the pitfalls in our digital lives. This also kicked off our school's Titan Acts of Cyber Kindness (#TRACK2017 - https://twitter.com/i/moments/831387255973351424) campaign. Student response has been great and it is great to see the positive messages getting out there. Our digital lives are important to examine and reflect upon as there are many challenges both positive and negative that are out there that shouldn't be ignored or left to chance.
Almost a year ago, an invitation was sent out from my school division (Regina Catholic Schools) to participate in a Connected Educator project. This invitation involved not only the acquisition of technology (in my case one to one laptop access in my classroom), but also and more importantly to becoming part of a Professional Learning Community and look at innovative and best practice with technology integration. There has been access to skype, social media, and face to face growth opportunities and a chance to share experiences and lessons learned. This experience has improved my understanding and utilization of not only technology, but of pedagogy, 21st Century Skills, and redefinition of my classroom. I'm grateful I was chosen to participate in this project and truly believe that it has improved digital, critical thinking, creative, reflection, and learning skills for the members of the project and the students we serve.
From a strictly technology/device perspective, the project was been successful. With daily access and continued improvement in wifi, the access to these digital tools has been excellent for all involved. The laptops that we have access to have been more than adequate and the students have respected and taken care of the devices. Before issuing each student their device we talk about respect, digital citizenship, and have device labeled and organized in the cart. The manner in which the students have looked after the devices has been impressive. I am grateful for the equity that the one on one access has provided and each student in my class has the ability to draw upon a variety of resources provided in class to help them with their learning goals and objectives.
There has also been promotion, discussion, and reflection on the learning opportunities that these tools can provide for all learners. We have done a book study and examined The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros (http://georgecouros.ca/blog/the-innovators-mindset-book) A must read for any teacher in my opinion. A twitter chat was employed to have participants share reflections, memes, and questions to the various chapters in the book. We also read and shared our thoughts on David Geurin's 9 Ed Tech Essentials post (http://www.davidgeurin.com/2017/02/9-essential-edtech-ideas-to-share-with.html). These activities put the main goal of the project into perspective … it was not about the devices but the opportunity to innovate … to try new and better approaches to engage and empower students.
We also reflected upon TIM (Technology Integration Matrix), the essential skills of 21st Century learning (7Cs), and the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model of Technology Integration. The process of filling out the TIM (http://www.azk12.org/tim/) allowed us to reflect on both teacher and student progress with technology integration. We also created and based lessons on the 7 Cs of 21st Century learning (http://gennarodriguez.weebly.com/7-cs-of-21st-century-learning.html). We also used the SAMR Model (http://hippasus.com/blog/archives/227) to examine what transformational changes are we doing with technology in our classrooms if any. The use of these three reflection models gave all participants an opportunity to develop a growth mindset and improve upon out integration of technology in our classrooms.
The RCSD Connected Educator initiative has been a successful one in my opinion. My students in semester one were successful at meeting curricular objectives laid out in the curriculum, but more importantly for me they did so in an enriched, empowering, and engaging atmosphere that still has room for growth and improvement. The Professional Learning Community that has developed as a result is also a tremendous benefit (loved our edCamp style sharing). It has raised the bar for professional development and collaboration (follow and join the conversation #rcsdconnect). It is hoped that the program will grow and a mentorship process will also develop, connecting more ideas and best practice. I look forward to continuing my participation in this program and improving the learning possibilities for me and my students. If you have questions on this please e-mail me at email@example.com and follow me on twitter @vendi55.
After two days on Monday and Tuesday of wrapping up semester one with meetings and prep time, semester two kicked off on Wednesday. I truly believe that it is important to build relationships with your students right off the bat. I invest the first few day letting the students get to know me, I get to know them, and we build a positive classroom atmosphere together. I made a very deliberate effort to get to know every students name right off the get go, try to learn and remember at least one thing about each student, greet and dismiss each student at the door, and try to understand as much as possible where each student is at and ask them questions on what a class and school looks like to them. Together we create mission statements, procedures, and a class prayer. My hope is to invest in a positive classroom atmosphere, have a unified approach to managing our class, instill family concept, and promote respect for each other, ourselves, and our classroom. It is very much an approach to be proactive and develop positive relationships that hopefully lead to a great learning experience for all. We had some good discussions about what school looks like, how relationships are important, and what it will take to be successful. I'm looking forward to working with these new groups and the journey we will take over the next five month together. I am excited about trying some new ideas, making new relationships, strengthening existing ones, and enjoying the blessing of learning. I am also blessed to work at a place that respects and loves all people, has a vibrant extra curriculum program, a love of learning, many dedicated professionals, and just an over all feeling of family and improving mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Also happy to be published in The Variable - Volume 2, Issue 1 http://smts.ca/variable-volume-2-issue-1/ … I submitted an article found on page 34 #codinginmathclass and in our division newsletter with my article on video analysis.
Dean Vendramin. Educator for over 20 years. Currently Education Leader for Math/Science at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School. Have a passion for all things in education with emphasis on technology integration, assessment, professional development, and 21 Century Education. Posts are articles he has written for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation monthly newsletter The Bulletin, Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society The Variable, blog requests from memberships he is a part of, and his own thoughts.