I felt like this week I really resonated with two different concepts/ideas from the readings. Because of this, I have split this post into two sections.
1) My personal journey from lurker to connector (literal connections)
2) How students learn when given freedom and inspiration - as they do with new media (concept of connection)
In a general sense, I have already gone through a big break through from lurker to connector. When I was PYP Coordinator at Ajman Academy, I also had my own Year 5 class and was the Head of Computing Curriculum (getting it set up for teachers at a relatively new school). Somehow, this is also the year I started blogging and posting on Twitter.
I think it was a great way for me to debrief what was happening in my professional life. Not only was I receiving validation from my connections online, but I was also receiving feedback from more than just the four walls of my school in a small emirate of the UAE. I was giving myself time to reflect on my practices and shape my thinking before speaking with my teams.
I resonated withKim Cofino's post "The Real Me." Especially with her quote, "In fact, I argued that the person I am online is the real me, perhaps even more so that the person they were sitting with in the room at that moment."
Up until then I was generally a quieter person in my teaching career, and I feel like beginning blogging allowed me digest what I was doing before spitting it out to share with other people. In fact, I still feel this way a lot of the time. In a sense, this is more "The Real Me." Connecting with blogs and Twitter was a key experience for me when meeting with my year group teams as a PYP coordinator. In real life I am not usually someone to speak up right away until I fully understand what is happening and/or deeply respect (and feel respected by) the people around me. I now am immersed in a culture of "why" at ISHCMC and this barrier is being broken down for myself. I think blogging and tweeting were also huge influences to get me to this point. What I say has value. What I say has meaning. What I say should be heard, even if only as a bit of a "devil's advocate" some times. Being connected helped me realise this and continues to allow me time for slowing down my reflective thought process.
Am I still a lurker sometimes? Of course! I think there has to be some balance here. Sometimes there is just too much going on mentally for me share, but I definitely continue to lurk. I have to be struck by something to feel like I have enough to write a whole blog post about it. But when I do, it seems to come fairly effortlessly. I worry less about making it perfect. It is a reflection my thoughts at the time of writing and I know this will continue to grow and take shape in different ways.
After reading "Living with New Media" I am still mulling over some connections I had. I work in a setting where students have a lot of agency over their learning. Students give workshops to other students, choose their inquiry groups, and set their own learning goals. We are innovating inside a box, if you will (as George Couros would put it), because we are still an IB PYP authorized school.
The conceptul connection of "new media" to, let's say, the "new classroom" can be interesting. How do we make our learning environments more like these types of medias our students are exposed to and becoming experts in/with? The article states that with new media, students' "efforts are also largely self-directed, and the outcome emerges through exploration, in contrast to classroom learning that is orientated toward set, predefined goals." I wonder what it might feel like to truly turn a classroom into a place of exploration and inspiration. Can an adult even set this up for a student? For a group of 105 students? Is that possible with the constraints of a curriculum? Is it enough to allow students to set their own learning goals in a subject when, in reality, it is still linked to something set by an adult at one point in time?
In a blog post here, AJ Juliani compares his thoughts on today's education to the Choose Your Own Adventure books many of us read as kids. He states the following:
"We don’t know what the world is going to look like in 5, 10, 15 years. We don’t know what jobs will exist, what systems will be set up, and what our students will be doing. But I do know they’ll have a choice in what they do. They will still have to fail and recover just as we do now. I hope you understand as a parent or educator that inquiry should not be a cool “option” to have in a child’s education. Giving our students choice is the only thing that will prepare them to handle the future. Whatever it may bring."
This quote is comforting for what we are currently doing in Studio 4. I completely agree with Juliani that choice needs to be at the forefront of a student's lives at school.
I suppose something I need to look at a little more is pushing my students to connect (or even lurk) on things they are interested in that are relevant to their school curriculum needs. I have had a class Twitter account in the past that did lead to some meaningful (though limited) connections for my grade threes. I might push myself a little more to try this again and see what comes out of it.
How do you see the connection of new media to today's classroom environments?
Unit 1: My Why
January 21, 2020
I am so excited to be on this journey with the Online 12 group.
My name is Cindy Kaardal. I am originally from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I am currently working Vietnam at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) in Studio 4 (grade 4 age). As you will find out, our studio is a little more open and collaborative than a traditional grade level. I am excited to share more about our students' voice, choice, and ownership with you.
This is my 10th year teaching abroad, 9 of them in PYP schools. I have taught ICT as a stand alone subject, been in the PYP classrooms as a homeroom teacher, been head of computing curriculum and ICT departments for primary, and been PYP Coordinator.
I am an Apple Distinguished Educator (Class of 2019) and a Google Certified Educator Level 2. I decided on COETAIL as my next journey of professional development because of all of the amazing feedback from the fantastic educators around the world I have been speaking to. After reading the course descriptions I was pretty much sold!
Please connect with me on Twitter at @innovative_inq.
Unit 2: My Communities
January 21, 2020
I already feel so grateful for the communities I am connected with.
Joining Twitter has shaped who I am as a teacher an incredible amount. The inspiration I have received from amazing educators all over the world helped me with my PYP Coordinator post, and really redefined my role in the classroom.
I started writing a blog around the same time. This reflective process was also a game changer for me. People outside of my own school were inspired by what I was doing, and writing it down was helping me process the impact of what I was doing in my classroom and with my teaching team.
The community at my school, ISHCMC, is also amazing. Every day I am still amazed at how professional our teachers are. How much they care. How open they are to try new things. How much they are willing to share with me and anyone who asks. Visitors are constantly walking through our school to see the innovations we are putting in place. Bouncing ideas off of these educators is invaluable.
I have recently officially joined the Apple Distinguished Educators community. Woah, family! Not only is it of course an impactful online experience (again, reflecting!) but in person... these educators are phenomenal. Every time I meet with them I am inspired again. A.MAZ.ING.
And of course, my "watch this space" section with COETAIL! I have heard many great things about this program and am excited to get going!
Unit 5: My Learning Goals
The ISTE standards have been on my mind a lot lately. I am on a committee at my school to look at IT "curriculum" school-wide and. we are using ISTE standards to help guide us.
I have decided to focus on two strands for my COETAIL journey. One specifically for the students in Studio 4 and one for my reach to other teachers in my school.
The Designer strand immediately speaks to me. I love creating structures and organisers to guide students along with their goals, as well as experimenting with the learning environment to try to accommodate as many students needs as possible. The breakdown of this strand aligns with other goals I have made this year with Cognita's Let's Talk program and with some professional development I have taken this year about self-regulated learners.
My goal for the designer strand is: To provide a variety of learning engagements for individual, collaborative, and small groups, suited to help students meet their learning goals. This is also my Cognita Let's Talk goal for Teaching and Learning (The Student Experience).
ISTE has influenced this goal by focusing on the learner's differences and needs. The Empowered Learner strand is also relevant here, as students work towards indivudual goals and find learning experiences that work for them.
This will impact my teaching and learning day to day by: rethinking about provocations for students to assist them. I foresee making adaptations to my student's planners throughout the process, and will focus on bringing new ideas to my team.
I will seek support from my Studio 4 team (ISHCMC), my team leader (Paul Cheevers), my PYP Coordinator (Tania Mansfield), and my PLN on Twitter and with COETAIL.
I chose the Leader strand for my reach beyond my students. I am helping our Tech Integrator with some teacher training sessions and am on the IT committee for cross-school alignment.
My goal for the designer strand is: To use my strengths as an ADE to increase staff and student convidence and creativity in using Apple products. This is also my Cognita Let's Talk goal for Contribution Outside of the Classroom.
ISTE has influenced this goal by focusing on the importance of leadership. Supporting student empowerment and success is important to me, and I want to help students and educators in doing this with a shared vision. Technology can aid this without being an add on, but by making things easier and more seamless. Modeling this is important.
This will impact my teaching and learning day to day by: seeking opportunities for me to help people around me. I will focus on a shared vision of ISHCMC, advocate for equitable access, and model a variety of tools that can support learning.
I will seek support from my tech integrator (Kyle Sumrow), fellow ISHCMC colleagues, and ADEs I am inspired by.
The COETAIL Certificate I am aiming for is non-credit. I already have the things I need to apply for Google Education Trainer if I want to at the end.