Thought I’d try something a little different for a blog post and basically recap my week and the interactions I have had with technology.
I am enjoying our ECI831 class very much. Talking about edtech and the issues that come with it is definitely my ‘jam’. Having Meeno Rami as our guest last week was very cool for me. I am very fortunate to be a Minecraft Global Mentor and have had the opportunity to meet Meeno at a Microsoft E2 event in Toronto. She is super nice and really cares about the people in the program and using Minecraft Education Edition as a tool to inspire and engage students. I also enjoyed our copyright discussion as I struggle with this a lot. I understand and try to respect copyright, but also have had times where it was tough as I wanted to use something in a lesson or give students an experience that copyright ‘got in the way’. On a side note, I was doing a coding video the other day in Minecraft and it involved coding a sandstorm. I thought it would be ‘fun’ to play Sandstorm (the instrumental song) in the background. After I published this video to You Tube, I saw that it was flagged for copyright music (wonder if some of the music projects will get flagged from class). The notification did not shut down my channel or anything like that but it did say I can’t profit from that video.
In my social studies class, we are learning about ancient civilizations. We are doing a major project based jigsaw activity for this. Students are to research a civilization (8 to choose from), create a map of what they are going to build and where the information will be found, and then build a model of their civilization using Minecraft. The research is the most important part of the project and students are using Noodle Tools to collaborate and organize their research in MLA format. Students are to use a grid lined template to create their maps and make sure they include TODAL in it. We will be making an atlas out of these so students from others civilizations can visit and find their way around. Students will be displaying and constructing their using Minecraft. I did an essentials video with them and recorded the instructions live while teaching using screen cast o matic. It went well. I even let the students join the world I was demoing in and here’s the result of that – Minecraft Checklist Video. Students were also finishing up an Election Wakelet (including tweets, You Tube videos, and websites – here’s an example of one of them). I really am enjoying the content and this amazing group of young people. They are motivating me to try a few new things as well.
One of the things, which they are motivating me to do is use our Oculus Go VR glasses more effectively. We used them to check out archeological digs a few weeks ago. But I wanted to be more efficient with them. So I figured out how to create a common account, common wifi hook up, and create a playlist of VR 360 Ancient Civilization tours from them to explore and comment on their experience. I also figured out how to take screen shots inside the glasses and export them to Facebook (which owns Oculus). They are so engaging and immersive. I also last week put together a Best Buy grant to get a class set of Google Expedition devices and a couple 360 cameras so we can make our own videos. I think there are so many possibilities with these devices.
I am also doing some research to use a game called Civilization VI in my social class. It’s an interesting game and I think have an idea how to use them. There is a special campaign mode for Alexander the Great. We are lucky to have two Nintendo Switches for our eSports / Tech Club. I was able to buy two copies of Civilization VI and I have been doing research (playing) to figure out how to best approach this. This version is a little different than the ones I have played in the past, but I think I’m getting the hang of it and one of my own sons is familiar with it and helping me out a bit. I also have another teacher’s intern in one of my social classes that is also looking into the using the game as well. I’m excited about try this game-based learning experience with my students.
Right now, it’s Microsoft’s Global Connection time (formerly known as Skype-A-Thon). I have a few experiences planned for my students like playing Mystery Skype (just did one today with a class in India – it was 3:00 PM our time which like 2:30 AM Tuesday their time), have a guest speaker coming in from the Buffalo Bill Center in Wyoming USA to talk about First Nations (interested to see what their presentation will be), and also have an executive from Microsoft Canada dropping through MS Teams to talk to our Tech Club. I am also doing some Mystery Skypes and Minecraft In the Classroom presentations on my own time (afterschool and during prep). These are very rewarding experiences and great ways to connect. I’d totally recommend this experience to anyone.
My math classes are going well. I’ve been able to use the knowledge I gained in ECI834 last semester as I’m currently teaching Work Place 10 and Work Place 20 online for the Regina Catholic Online School. It has been interesting to teach in this environment and it is tough not to be face to face. I’m trying to establish relationships with them, but the communication on the other end is not quite there yet. I have set office hours (Monday and Tuesday) afterschool, but willing to meet almost anytime. I have had a few good meeting using Blackboard, but would like to see students reach out a bit more. Using Moodle has been good and it’s interesting to look at data like who has been logging on to what and for how long. I was told last week that I might get a social 9 next semester which should be interesting. I’ve learned a lot from this experience.
My other math class is being handled by my intern. She is very good and it’s been a great experience for both of us. I have brought her out of her comfort zone a bit with technology. She tried my Minecraft Rollercoaster project to learn slope and it worked out well for all involved. She asked a lot of good questions and so did the students which in turn helped me make some adjustments to the project to make it better. It’s also impressive how my intern is using MS One Note. It has been our digital binder and contains lesson plans, target sheets, and more. I enjoy going into the target section, finding her target sheet, typing up the observation and feedback and then just adding the file right back into One Note for post conferencing. Very slick. Very organized. We also did a video analysis observation (TIFA) that I picked up from Dr. Kathy Nolan at the U of R and was productive and growth experience for both of us.
At school, I’m also responsible for our school Twitter account and indoor/outdoor signs. At the end of each month I put together a Wakelet of the month that was and share that with staff and the community. It’s easy to put together and I always enjoy doing it because it’s cool so see all the great things happening at our school. We also use a product called Rise Vision to push out content to our in school monitors and have been using a product called LED Videostar to get content on our outdoor sign. We have had a lot happen and a lot of days without students lately that keeping up to date with the signage has kept me busy. I am not a fan of signs that haven’t been update (have seen some welcome to school messages still up at some schools).
I’ve also have been asked to join a couple of coding initiatives that will have me at some workshops in December. One is a SaskCode workshop and the other one is a program called GoIT that I hope to get running at my school. I have also have had some Minecraft visit request from a few people inside my school division and one from Curtis in our class. I always look forward to these types of visits. I have published past articles for the SFT Bulletin called Tech Talk … I just typed one about using podcasts for PD and sent it in (check this blog to see what I wrote). Also looking at getting a RCSD Connected Educator podcast series started too.
I’ve also enjoyed working on my learning project and I’m continuing my block coding journey. I think I’m getting a little better. There have been some great challenges that have had me thinking for sure. I have worked hard to put up my videos and share them on Twitter. Got another like and retweet from Minecraft Education Edition and one from Dr. Bryan Sanders who helps run the program with Meeno. Meeno also gave me a shout out for people to follow on game based education.
So that’s been a look at my week J
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.