CARP Jr for KG-G2: Course 4 Final Project UbD

It dawned on me while I was introducing the CARP design principles to a grade 3 class that many students are unaware of visual literacy elements until the middle of elementary school. Yet, we expect them to design and create visual texts from as young as Kindergarten.

12334417_10102311281185907_882391382_o
Classic example of student council poster (G2-G5 students). Which CARP elements are NOT missing??

 

I wondered… why do we wait so long to teach these principles? It’s clear from the student council poster above that even by grade 5, design principles haven’t been transferred to every day creations of visual texts. I decided to investigate ways to implement design into the younger years, starting with grade 1.

I first learned about CARP through Keri-Lee Beasley‘s Design Secrets Revealed, which I described in my previous post: Looks Like CRAP. Her eBook is one that I’ve led workshops on, and am constantly referring to when planning and working with teachers and students.  I’ve also promoted it in our staffroom as a resource all teachers in G3 and up should be using in their classrooms.

Since I work primarily with Early Years to Grade 1, I wanted to bring visual literacy and elements of design into the younger years. While the eBook is extremely engaging and differentiated with videos, definitions, external links and photos, I knew I would only be able to use some parts of it with a younger audience. For this reason, I decided to modify the principles from this eBook into a simple interactive Google Presentation that could be led with students as young as KG-G2.

I worked closely with one grade 1 teacher who has a small class of 10 students. We planned some lessons together and team-taught most of the sessions. We’ve noticed a huge improvement in the students’ design thinking. After this experience, I realised how beneficial it was to student learning to be introduced to these terms early on. For this reason, I’d like to extend this unit and collaborate with the other G1 teachers to implement this Visual Literacy Unit in their classrooms.

Some of the lessons I’ve developed in collaboration with the G1 teacher include:

  • Tuning-In: CARP Jr. Google Presentation ~ slides act as discussion point and students have a chance to share their thoughts and ideas to improve texts. We explored each term and looked at examples.
  • Individual/Paired Visual Text Exploration: focusing on each term at a time (what does Contrast look like? What does Alignment look like? etc)
  • Students re-design/improve a visual text they created by hand, implementing the CARP principles.
IMG_0695
G1 students look at ways to improve the text so there is better CONTRAST.
IMG_0729 (1)
Grade 1 students took the same poorly designed image and focused on one term from the CARP acronym.

 

My Final Project will be a 6 week unit on Visual Literacy in Early Elementary (KG-G2). During these 6 weeks I will work closely with a G1 classroom teacher to embed these design elements meaningfully into the students’ learning. What I learned from trialling it in the smaller class was that 6 year olds move much more slowly, and need a lot of practice and repetition. I’m hoping that through different learning engagements and purposeful practice, students will be able to transfer the skills acquired through thoughtful design to their every day work and visual text creations.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Developing visual literacy awareness in students is essential to building strong design skills. As I mentioned in my previous post visual literacy is one of the necessary elements of 21st century multi-literacies students need to be well-versed in. It’s also an area of learning at our school that is often neglected. It is evident in student-created posters and publications that design is an area all students would benefit learning more about. I also noticed that there are very few design resources accessible to early readers. I wanted to design a unit that other KG -G2 teachers could modify and improve for their own learning contexts.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

One concern is the complex terminology and the high level of EAL (English as Additional Language) learners. I will need to monitor their progress and make modifications as we progress through the unit.

I have a strong professional relationship with the G1 team and one teacher has agreed to let me implement the unit in her classroom. We will develop and team teach the unit together so it aligns with their Unit of Inquiry (in January-March).

I would like to modify the unit for KG and G2 classes as well but will need to first trial it in the G1 classroom. It would be ideal to embed the CARP principles as part of the curriculum (KG-G2) so that students are well versed in the terminology and have had lots of practice implementing these concepts by the time they reach grade 3. However, that is a ‘big picture’ decision that needs to be made by the curriculum coordinators. So for now, we just need to address it in the classrooms and make sure students are achieving an understanding of design.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

I will need to really think carefully about the students developmental levels and English ability and tailor the lessons to suit their needs. Current resources for teaching design principles are aimed at students who can already read, write and work independently. I will need to modify the activities for shorter attention spans, and embed some kinesthetics and music/rhymes to help teach the basic principles of design. Also, students will need a lot more visuals to grasp the complex terminology. The focus will also be more on exposure to these new terms, with some opportunities to practice basic implementation of these concepts. It’s a process and not all students will be developmentally ready to produce visual texts that meet all CARP principles.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will be using their observation skills, communication skills and will develop spatial-awareness as they look at different visual texts and how the page is organised. They will also become more reflective and thoughtful about their work as they carefully plan out their visual texts. Students will also develop appreciation for the aesthetic and become open-minded to different perspectives as they develop a personal style using the CARP principles in their design.

Here is my final UBD Project:

Implementation vs. Integration

Should schools be implementing or integrating technology?

This question was first presented to me by a member of the IBO at the 2015 ECIS Tech Conference in Munich. What do these words mean and how do we define them?During this conference, I had the privilege of working with fellow Coetail Coach @chezvivian who documented the IBO’s presentation on her personal blog. Vivian eloquently synthesises the IBO’s stance and the implications of confusing these two similar terms:

Just like in Coetail, the IB wants us to start with the question, “What is the learning?”. Then we need to plan for the learning.  The plan for the learning should drive the question of what hardware and software.  Not the other way around. We wouldn’t want our curriculum to be driven by transitory things like what devices we’ve bought and what apps they support.  The devices and apps will be obsolete in a few years time.  The learning we want for our students should last for a lifetime. During the session, this importance was discussed when we differentiated the Integration of Technology from the Implementation of Technology i.e. hardware & software  (ibid p.14).  The integration of technology should always drive the implementation of technology and not the other way around.  This is something that we’ve always discussed as part of Coetail. (Chez Vivian)

I’ve been pondering these terms ever since, as I feel many schools are definitely doing one, but not creating the support needed for the other. It’s easy for a school to decide on a budget, purchase devices and software, and say the word “integrate” to teachers. But is there a shared understanding of what that looks like? And if not, who is responsible for developing this vision?

2396297199

As with any vision, it needs to be understood at the top level. George Couros, the Principal of Change, writes:

Sometimes in education, there are shifts in what we have done and what we need to do, to support our students.  There are a lot of things that will never go away in education (like the importance of relationships in learning), but there are shifts in our world that mean education will have to a) be a part of the shift, b) lead the shift, or c) be left behind. 

The shift is happening now, and schools are at risk of being left behind. Or worse, leading their students down a path where the focus is on the flashy hardware, rather than on the learning. It is more important than ever that schools reflect on where they are, and where they want to go. Technology is evolving at an even quicker pace and many schools are simply buying new tech without considering why. Furthermore, simply hiring EdTech coaches to ‘tick the box’ won’t necessarily promote school-wide change with tech integration; there needs to be a school vision for tech integration to guide coaches too.

Edutopia recently published an article titled An Open Letter to Principals: 5 Leadership Strategies for the New Year 

These 5 strategies are fantastic guidelines for any school trying to fine-tune its vision for tech integration:

Strategy 1: Make No Excuses

Strategy 2: Model a Vision for Excellence

Strategy 3: Embrace 21st Century Pedagogy and Curriculum

Strategy 4: Breathe Life Into Professional Development

Strategy 5: Stay Connected

This fifth strategy is most important for leadership to remember. To properly integrate technology in classrooms, admin need to understand and be a part of the connectEdness of online professional learning networks.

If we are to expect school-wide changes with technology, school leadership needs to understand the difference between implementation of tech devices, verses integration using such frameworks as SAMR and TPACK.

I am waiting for the Big Shift to be led, not simply haphazardly participated in. I am looking to contribute to a culture of learning that begins at the top with school leadership and trickles down to the teachers and students. I’m hoping for action to replace reaction. As Edutopia author,Eric Sheninger, concludes with this powerful point:

Change begins with a no-excuse mentality. Don’t waste one more minute pondering what could be. There is a revolution going on right now in learning, and it is up to us to lead the way. (Edutopia)

9621571020

Coding: A Blast from the Past

Coding: The Way of the Future or a Blast from the Past?

7166850701

As 2015 draws to a close (and Course 4 does as well), I’m drawn to the trends in tech integration moving simultaneously toward and away from the future.

I am gearing up for an exciting 2nd Annual Launch of Hour of Code at our school. While this worldwide initiative may seem ‘new’ we are actually going back to the basics of computer programming…something which used to be part of the curriculum, that now schools are desperately trying to make room for again. What excites and intrigues me about this year’s HOC studio, is the ‘introduction’ to JavaScript, which actually originated 20 years ago (Wikipedia).

Last year they only had ‘blockly’ options for students to explore coding, and it’s great that they are allowing students a chance to see under the ‘hood’ of the blockly pieces what the actual code looks like.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 09.17.23
Screenshot from Hour of Code Studio

 

The BBC explored this trending in ‘coding’ recently in its article Coding The Future: 

Programming is changing briskly.Coding in the cloud is one trend likely to carry on, spreading collaborators across continents. So also is the explosion of new languages, like Facebook’s Hack scripting language or Apple’s Swift, alongside classical tongues like C and Java. We’re likely to learn to code younger, and differently. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) child-friendly programming language Scratch has 6.2 million registered users.The Internet of Things, driverless cars, and drones will all yield more programmable platforms – but will coding for your cappuccino maker drastically change programming? And what will the coding workplace be like, when today’s Raspberry rugrats have grown into tomorrow’s programming prodigies?

Currently, I run a Digital Design Club for Grades 3-5 and already I am looking at multiple platforms for students to explore design and coding. Many of them are already familiar with Hopscotch and Scratch, but more so for the interactive games they can play. There still seems to be some gaps between the principles of coding, and the animations/games created through coding apps and platforms.

One way I’ve tried to help students grasp what coding/programming truly means is through ‘unplugged’ coding: using non-tech tools to teach a tech-based concept. Last year I started Hour of Code club for grades 1-3 and started the club with a variation of a lesson from Computer Science Unplugged. The first activity I modified was ‘Image Representation’ or what I called ‘Pixel Coding’. I tuned them in using Pixar animated characters and talking about the word Pixel. Many of them were familiar with the term from Minecraft so were immediately engaged. Then students had the opportunity to practice ‘coding’ an image. Below is a screenshot from the lesson I did with students:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 14.22.08

Students were most engaged in this activity because it was a concrete way to understand how each image on a screen is constructed.

Although we are moving towards more globally connected classrooms, I find it interesting that we are reverting to ‘old school’ skills such as the basics of computer programming. Now that so many programs are realistic, there is something exciting about go back to primitive basics and understanding how it all works. It makes me realise how progressive everything is and how important it is to maintain connections to where we (and technology) evolved from.

SO to answer the question: Will education as we know it change because of technology? Education is always and has always been evolving…the same way our world has been and is evolving. As this clever Edudemic post illustrates, education has been evolving since education first existed:

Classrooms have come a long way. There’s been an exponential growth in educational technology advancement over the past few years. From overhead projectors to iPads, it’s important to understand not only what’s coming next but also where it all started. (Edudemic)

It frightens me that there are movements against technology, in such schools as the London Acorn Schools :

According to school rules, children are not allowed television at all before the age of 12, after that they are allowed documentaries that have previously vetted by parents. They cannot watch films until they are 14; the internet is banned completely for everyone under 16 – at home and and at school – and computers are only to be used as part of the school curriculum for over-14s. (Guardian)

In my opinion, this seems like an extreme response to a reality that is only going to be that much more shocking when children finally do have access to films, TV and the internet. Rather than teaching students strategies for coping with digital spaces and showcasing the positive aspects of a connected classroom, they are turning media and technology into ‘forbidden fruit’. Furthermore, there is an even greater need for young adults to be digitally literate, with strong skills in multi-literacies such as information literacy, tech literacy, and media literacy. 

If we want education to prepare students for a technologically rich world, we need to embrace what currently exists in our reality. We need to ensure students have a chance to practice citizenship in digital spaces and also apply time-management strategies in their personal and school lives.

 

Game On

“No play, No learning – Know play, Know learning”

Donna & Sherry playbasedlearning.com.au

6001111451

“Game based learning (GBL) helps students improve problem-solving skills and make it possible for them to interpret their society, nature and the world around them through experiences.”  Dr. Sukran Ucus

How important are games and play to engage students in learning? As educators, we talk a lot about the importance of differentiation and addressing multiple intelligences…does ‘having fun’ promote and enhance learning too?

Game-Based Learning

According to Andrew Diamond, “game-based learning can be defined as lessons which are competitive, interactive, and allow the learner to have fun while gaining knowledge.”

Diamond also defines GBL as having three key elements:

  • Competition
  • Engagement
  • Rewards

In my previous role as classroom teacher, I introduced game-based learning in to my grade 4 students to help them learn their multiplication facts before the end of the year. All semester we’d focused on different conceptual strategies for multiplication and division, but ultimately, the students just weren’t confident enough in their times tables to apply these strategies efficiently. My personal blog details how I introduced and ran the 6-week competition: Multiplication Madness

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.13.58

The idea was to promote collaboration, team-building and a healthy dose of win-win competition where children worked towards a goal (team with the most points), but ultimately everyone earned the reward of learning their multiplication tables. Teams were mixed-ability levels and on ‘game days’ there were 3 differentiated levels to choose from, so students could choose easy (Green), medium (Pink), or challenging (blue).

What worked well with this challenge, was that the teams were expected to be supportive and encouraging of their teammates, and also good sports with the other teams. They helped each other improve in their knowledge of the times tables. Also, providing several opportunities for the team to redeem themselves during the week made it less of a one-off chance for one team to defeat the others. It focused on progress and gave students who weren’t ready to answer the ‘medium’ or ‘challenging’ cards, a chance to be a risk taker later in the week.

Students also quickly asked to self-monitor the score chart (a whiteboard with tally marks under the team names) and also the delivery of the multiplication challenges. In the end, it was entirely student-led and students were applying multiple skills such as mental math calculations, tallying results, and organising themselves.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 14.14.56

At first I was worried that the competition would intimidate the students with learning support needs. But I quickly noticed the opposite…they were more motivated than ever to practice their times tables, and students were really trying to help each other improve for the sake of the team. Some of my least likely students became risk-takers over night, challenging themselves with the harder ‘Blue’ questions. Students felt that not only had they become more confident with their times tables, but they become more confident in themselves as learners.

During one of the challenges, we invited the Grade 3 students to participate. Afterwards, students asked if teachers would play a round too, while the students kept score.

Teachers take the Challenge…and Students Score

Learning no longer encompasses solely content. According to Envision Experience, twenty-first century learners are expected to have the following skills:

 

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

We need to provide students with opportunities to work through these skills, while also giving them a chance to make learning fun. Growing up I never enjoyed studying my multiplication tables, and through GBL, I was able to support all learners in my classroom to master these important number facts…in addition to allowing them to develop important and life-long skills.

 

 

Teddies, Tech & PBL

I’ll never forget the first time I learned about CBL (Challenge-Based Learning) in the classroom. It was while working in Indonesia with Jane Ross, and I learnt about her multi-touch eBook Challenge Based Learning in IndonesiaIt’s hard to believe this book was published just 3 years ago (2012) because already technology has evolved so much!

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.41.56
Jane Ross’ free Multi-touch eBook available through iBooks

 

Students were using just an iPod Touch to document their investigation into ‘Sharing the Planet’ and understanding how resources can be more evenly distributed. In this eBook she details her scaffolded approach to tuning students into the concept, posing questions to relevant real-world problems in Indonesia, and the steps students took to find solutions and help the local landfill community. Groups of students identified 3 main issues and used these problems to drive their inquiries and find solutions. What I also love is how she took a transdisciplinary approach and math, literacy, social studies and even music were embedded into the learning process.

Below are 3 screenshots from the eBook which highlight the transdisciplinary approach:

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.49.09
eBook Screenshot 1: Looking at one issue in the landfill community: Not Enough Light
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.49.18
eBook Screenshot 2: Students investigate solutions using problem-solving and other math skills.
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.49.29
eBook Screenshot 3: Another issue in the landfill community that children investigated: Not enough safe shelter.

 

I highly recommend any primary/PYP or middle school/MYP teacher to download this free eBook and get inspired in their own classrooms.

My past experiences with Project Based Learning

Since learning about CBL I’ve been working to embed more project-based learning experiences in my own classroom. Two years ago, Jane Ross and I led a collaborative eBook project with Yayasan Santi Rama, a local school for the deaf – and the traditional task of co-publishing a story was enhanced and redefined to encompass video footage of students signing in Indonesian Sign Language. The final product was a trilingual eBook, showcased in the below video:

A more detailed account of the process can be found here on my personal blog: Collaborative eBooks with Indonesian Sign Language.

The Buck Institute for Education defines PBL (Project-Based Learning) as the following:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question – The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity – The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision – Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

In my current role as EdTech Coach I’ve been collaborating with another Coetailer, @Joyw to bring Project-Base Learning opportunity to a few Grade 1 and Kindergarten classrooms. We have signed up with Pana Asavavatana‘s Traveling Teddybear Project and just this week introduced the idea to a grade 1 class. This project connects schools and students around the globe using Twitter, Skype and Easy Blogger Jr as means for communicating and sharing about Freddy’s adventures in the classroom. Since our bear, Freddy, isn’t due to arrive until February we are using this time to build questions and inquiry around the bear and all his various locations.

To tune students in, we gave students the opportunity to ask questions to find out who the Mystery Guest would be. Joy led them on a questioning journey by presenting a map and going through the Inquire & Connect cycle, as detailed on her blog. Afterwards, I gave them three clues using Google Slides:

Students then had opportunities to share their connections and prior knowledge about teddy bears in general. This innovative project fits perfectly in the context of the KG & G1 curriculum at our school and also meets the PBL criteria as outlined by BIE.

PBL Criteria #1: Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills: 

Grade 1 students are learning about ‘Homes’ and have already explored different kinds of homes around the world. After students guessed that a Teddy (named Freddy) is coming to visit, we briefly explored his blog and looked at different places he had been (Singapore, Mongolia and California..so far). Students are also learning about how they organise themselves, and over the next few weeks we will develop goals with them and prepare a plan for when Freddy visits. This project also allows for transdisciplinary skills to be practiced such as: communication, research and social skills as they find information about Freddy the Teddy and practice digital citizenship skills on a public forum.

Further investigation & planning needed…

Since we are still in the ‘Tuning-In’ phase of inquiry, we have yet to develop a question (PBL Criteria #2) that could drive Freddy’s visit while he is here. As we go deeper into this project I will document how we address the various criteria of PBL in the context of our Grade 1 and Kindergarten classrooms.

8503318092

SAMR = SMART

What is the best way to encourage teachers to extend themselves from task enhancement to task transformation using the SAMR model?

This is a question I ask myself every day in my role as EdTech Coach. I think the best way to encourage teachers to extend towards Redefining tasks with technology is to help them understand that certain literacy skills can only be taught through technology.

Recently I delivered a Digital Literacy PD session which addressed using the SAMR model to better deliver Digital Literacy skills in the classroom. The PD focused on breaking down Digital Literacy into Six Multi-Literacy Strands. I used MediaSmarts as a resource for defining these six strands further and created this visual to showcase the importance of preparing students for a networked, media-rich world:

MultiLiteracies of a DigitalAge
Created by Jocelyn Sutherland. Symbols from CC Google Image Search. Inspired by MediaSmarts.ca definition of Digital Literacy

 

I used the CommonSense Media video on the SAMR model which does a brilliant job of extending beyond the Substitution and Augmentation phase:

In my role, I am less concerned with my own implementation of SAMR and more concerned with how I can coach teachers to adopt this model of thinking in their own classrooms. In theory, SAMR makes sense, but in practice it takes a lot more planning and thinking outside the box. As part of the PD session I led, I developed this planning guide for teachers to use to transform a unit using the SAMR model (PDF here):

Tuesday Oct 27th- Digital Literacy & Citizenship (1)

I hoped that by making a link between the Multi-Literacies in a Digital Age and SAMR, teachers would see how important it is to teach these literacies using technological devices and platforms. For example, it’s necessary for students to be exposed to networking on social media in order to learn and practice social literacy. Furthermore, information literacy now encompasses the scope of researching on the internet, therefore students must have access to digital sources in order to decipher which sources are reliable. According to MediaSmarts, media literacy is defined as:

“… ‘text’ that includes images, audio and digital media, media literacy is closely associated with digital literacy. Media literacy reflects our ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce media through understanding and appreciation of:

  • the art, meaning and messaging of various forms of media texts
  • the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture
  • how media texts are constructed and why they are produced
  • how media can be used to communicate our own ideas effectively”  MediaSmarts.ca

This definition further supports the need for students to produce media in order to understand it. Since most media is visual and multi-modal, technological devices such as iPads, laptops, or even cameras are necessary tools to redefine the task of producing media texts. I hope the above planning sheet helps teachers see the importance of making connections between Literacy, Digital Literacy and Technology Integration and that none are mutually exclusive anymore.

This statement by MediaSmarts further highlights the pedagogical shift that needs to happen in schools:

“Technology has shifted the traditional classroom paradigm that positions the teacher as the expert. This can be hard for many educators to accept, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In our quickly evolving technological world, we are all learners, and teachers who are willing to share responsibility with students are more likely to be comfortable – and effective – in a networked classroom.” MediaSmarts.ca

If I were to use the SAMR Model to define my coaching I would showcase it in the following way (my first attempt at Piktochart…lots to learn!):

SAMR EdTech Coach (1)

50% of my role is Redefinition: helping teachers and student rethink learning through iPads, laptops and online platforms. Connecting with other EdTech coaches through online PD like Coetail & Eduro. Showcasing learning using blogs and sharing & connecting on Twitter. Engaging teachers and classrooms in global eLearning through projects like Hour of CodeIf You Learned Here and the Travelling Teddybear Project.

30% of my role is Modification: working with teachers to enhance tasks using iPads; Introducing Blogs and ePortfolio platforms. Using Professional Development workshops to introduce and model ways to embed technology in the curriculum. Technology has modified my delivery of PD as I can have teachers learn apps by using them as part of the workshop. Using Infographics (like above) to summarise my role. Using QR codes on posters to encourage teachers to use their devices.

15% of my role is Augmentation: pushing in to classrooms and helping students and teachers become more technologically literate. This may involve workshop on logging in to GAFE environment and using collaborative GAFE tools, instead of desktop tools.

5% of my role is Substitution: working with teachers to better communicate over email; and substituting paper communication (posters, newsletters) with digital communication via email, GAFE or Schoology platform.