Only the Beginning

While this is my official final post for my DLP this is only the beginning of my using Office 365 Groups. Although I don’t feel that I have something that may “wow” people, I am very pleased with what I have done and what I will continue to do it. I would say I have met 85% – 90% of my goals for my DLP this semester.

As per my goals I noted on my last post I have achieved:

  • Altering the word documents I posted by clicking them as as “View Only” for those in the Group that have access.
  • For now, the best way for students to have access and then use the documents for their own purposes is to download and save as their own, or to simply copy and paste.

Unfortunately, I did not achieve the following goals this week:

  • Add an element of collaboration and contribution.
  • Do some research and inquiry to see if anyone I know has experience with One Note.

My current plan is to set-up Groups for all of my classes next semester immediately at the start of the semester. I am glad I finally took the plunge into this.

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This gif via Giphy perfectly captures how I feel with this project, a work in progress!

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Summary of Learning

The Push I Needed

Here is my Sway Presentation of my Summary of Learning.

 

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EC&I 831 gave me the push I needed to:

  • Come back to twitter, and use it valuably
  • Reflect, and connect through blogging
  • Be a valuable contributing member to professional groups
  • Grow my PLN
  • Analyze and discuss relevant and interesting topics
  • And finally, create the online space for my classes I have been craving

Twitter

For me, twitter serves as a platform to connect with both students and colleagues on a professional level. I can promote the business program at school by highlighting some of the students work. Additionally, I would follow their business projects on twitter whereas I probably would not connect with students on Facebook or any other social media.

I learned that purpose and relevance of a hashtag, and that it is not just to sound cool but a way to search for, filter and file information. I also had the opportunity to participate in the class twitter chat and followed a few more on my own.

Blog

Once I started, I found that I really enjoyed it. It allowed me to honestly put myself out there. As someone who would not normally participate a ton in a classroom setting I found blogging a valuable outlet to share my thoughts, and comment on others. I found the connection of reading and commenting on each other’s blogs meaningful.

It also gave us the opportunity to see what others in the course were doing or learning. Even in a classroom setting where you are gathering weekly, it is easy to forget a colleague’s background. This was not a concern with the blogs as you could always relearn about who they are by reading the blog and their weekly postings.

Although this is my official summary of learning, my blog will serve as my reference piece for this course. If I ever need to reference or refresh myself on any topics we covered this semester I will always have my blog to come back to.

Personal Learning Network PLN

EC&I 831 encouraged me to grow my personal learning network. For me this meant to extend it outside of people I already know, or those within our city.

Although, I was already a member of some online professional groups. In the past, I would have been a silent observer. This class encouraged me to be a participant by connecting with others and contributing to the communities. It also inspired me reach out for help, or input when I had a question. Additionally, I began to contribute to the group by responding when a teacher posted about a concern they had. Although, not everyone in this course is a classroom teacher I will retain my colleagues that I met here as contacts for my PLN.

Weekly Topics

While we discussed many interesting and valuable topics throughout the course here is a brief overview of a few of my favourites.

As a high school teacher digital identity and digital citizenship, is an extremely important topic that I need to be current on and not afraid to address with my students. Students need to understand that what they do impacts their present and future selves. Additionally, that anything they post is permanent and that their generation is greatly influenced by what they see online, both positively and negatively.

OER

While I had heard about Open Educational Resources before they were hard for me to fully comprehend. It just seemed unrealistic that there are full, valuable courses online that are FREE. Through our course discussion and blog that week it occurred to me that, I had already incorporated an OER into my Accounting class. I have used the GCF Learn Free Excel tutorial.

Prior to our analysis of OERs this semester I believe, I was thinking too large scale, I now know that there are a variety of OERs for many different subjects and levels of education. Many of my colleagues in this course are strong demonstrators that you can learn almost anything online these days.

Digital Learning Project

For my digital learning project, I wanted to create an online space for my students to access documents, communicate with each other and myself easily, and contribute to their learning. Our school system encourages us to post every assignment and task on the online grading system, but students sometimes find it hard to access documents from it. Plus, anything posted needs to be attached to a marked assignment. In the past, I had used a class blog, but I found that students were not accessing it as it just seemed like one more thing for them to do.

Initially, I wanted to create a google classroom but after reaching out to my PLN and doing some research, it appeared that that was not the best option for this. I decided to create a Group on Office 365. Since our school system already provides a student email and account for this, students already had access and I could easily add them to the Group.

If you are reading this, and debating taking this course I highly suggest that you do so! There was not one thing we did that did NOT, connect to my daily work in the classroom. So thank-you to everyone in this class and of course to Alec. I will see you next semester in 832.

Microsoft Sway

I tested out Sway for this week’s blog. To showcase my analysis I created a presentation using Sway. I inserted the presentation below. You should simply be able to view it by moving it to the left. Any videos should play once they are clicked.

Any feedback or possible experience with Sway is MUCH appreciated! I am planning to use it to create my Summary of Learning.

Here is my Sway

Working Out Some Bugs

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As I continue my work with my DLP I have encountered some challenges . Although, I am still very pleased with many of the features of the Group I have set-up for my class there are some things I need to work through, and work on.

Some of the challenges I have faced are:

  • When students go to access any word document files I have provided they are able to edit the document that is in the group, therefore changing it for all who view it.
  • Students have the option to download the word but it wasn’t a smooth process, even when they are already logged into their own Office 365 account. It seemed that they needed to open the document and either copy and paste the information, or download it to the desktop version of word and then save it to their Office 365 student account. The idea I had with sharing documents was that they could open them and they would automatically be for the individual student use in their personal online file. gabe 1
  • I still have yet to include an element of student contribution. Students are accessing the group for documents, the calendar, to contact me and to share assignments but they themselves are not contributing or interacting. The Group has the program One Note as a part of it automatically, although I contemplated using this as a way for students to list their poem choices for an assignment I never followed through as it seemed an unnecessary addition.

 

Moving forward here are my goals for the week:

  • Look at the word documents I have uploaded and see if I can note preferences for students so they are view only, this way at least what I am putting in the Group cannot be altered.
  • Inquire to our school Office 365 “expert” what the best way for students to access and use the documents for their personal use would be.
  • Add an element of collaboration and contribution. We are starting a novel study this week I will need to see where this could fit and enhance their learning.
  • Do some research and inquiry to see if anyone I know has experience with One Note.

Overall, I am still extremely happy with the Group and plan to set-up Groups for all of my classes next semester. I know that the students appreciate the class calendar and the accessibility of the documents I have posted, especially since it is a tool they were already using for their school work and email.

If you are reading this and have experience with One Note where would you suggest I start? Or what do you use it for?

Gif via Giphy

Openness – Adaptability – Improvement

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Image via Pixabay

As educators I believe that we need to be open to sharing our resources, ideas and challenges with one another. There is too much to take on alone. Plus, teaching is a somewhat isolated job as we are typically in our individual classrooms facing the students – one to 28, 29, 30 or possibly 31…

Full disclosure, it’s been a particularly long Monday.

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Gif via GIPHY

Collaboration among teachers is important at any stage in your career. I am not sure if I will ever be done adapting lessons or assignments. Every time I begin to plan or organize a unit I almost always change or adapt something, either because it’s dated, perhaps it was unclear or it wouldn’t mesh well with those specific students. It’s exhausting to think I will never be “done” with an assignment, but at the same time it is refreshing. I’ll always get the chance to improve and grow.

I think that a big part of openness is being adaptable. Students are always evolving as are our curriculum mandates and expectations. For example over the next three or so weeks I will be attending PD sessions on incorporating Treaty education, and meeting the needs of EAL learners. There are a lot of things teachers are trying to achieve in addition to the basic minimum curriculum requirements. It would be unrealistic to do it all alone without any support from colleagues. This support could be in the form of resources, reviewing of my materials, discussion or collaboration.

Openness is also important in the area of improvement. Other people are able to offer a differing perspective, or simply even provide a ready-made unit or assignment when we are most in need of one. I know that I have received many resources that were lifesaving early on in my career. I have also benefit by asking a more experienced colleague to examine my final exam for a certain course. The feedback I received was valuable, and time saving as she pointed out some ways I could simplify the marking in addition to ensuring the content is sufficient.

While teacher supervision is a mandatory process it wouldn’t be to anyone’s benefit if the teacher were not receptive to the process or any feedback. In our school system there is a supervision cycle where everyone completes a supervision process with their in-school administrator approximately every 5-8 years. It’s a lot of work for both parties involved as far as paperwork and a time commitment. Regardless, it needs to be done. If the teacher or administrator, who was or still possibly is a classroom teacher is not open to a dialogue and sharing experiences the process could simply be a waste of everyone’s limited time.

What are your thoughts and experiences with openness and education? I feel like my perspective is pretty common among teachers, do you agree? Do you think other professions have the same level of openness and collaboration?

 

On a completely unrelated note below is a gif I made! It’s of my almost 2 year at a local trampoline park. This made my Monday that much better. 🙂

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OER Use in the Classroom

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I chose to evaluate Open Learn with the idea that I could use it for some of my high school business courses. Although it is a UK site here is what I found:

  • It is user friendly and well-organized.
  • I felt that the resources were of good quality, and the site was easy to navigate and search. I easily found Accounting, Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship courses. 
  • Although the main page is visually appealing once I signed up and started a course I found that it was not as appealing. It was very text heavy with lots of reading. 
  • I would consider it a valuable resource for educators to pull information from. Especially since you can download the courses in Microsoft word or in PDF format without even signing up for a course. 
  • The quality of the materials was great but the actual course was not as interactive as I had hoped. There was text and questions, that was about the extent of it. It could have been improved with a slideshow, video, graphics and quizzes. 
  • Although, it does not meet my expectations of being a good resource to direct students to for an independent type study on a certain topic it would be a good resource for a teacher to pull information from. 

 

excel 2

 

I have had a great experience using GCF Learn for Free with my Accounting 20 students. The site has a tutorial on Excel that students are to complete independently. Within each module there are videos and text detailing each step. To keep students, on track and avoid some unnecessary information students complete a worksheet with guided questions while they go through the tutorial. Here is a link to the word document that students are to utilize Excel 2016

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At certain points in the tutorial students are required to complete excel spreadsheets. The tutorial provides partially completed spreadsheets that students download and complete according to the specific task.

I think that OERs are very valuable with the proper format and set-up. While the Open Learn site had lots of good content and information for teachers it would take some work for a teacher to organize that material into an engaging format. The GCF Learn for Free site was very user friendly, and while I created a document to go with the tutorial it was still very engaging and user friendly.

Groups

Since my last post I completed my entire checklist for my DLP!

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Image via Giphy

Additionally, I am feeling excited about my class group, and today was wishing I had set one up for all of my classes. I am at 95% for students joining, and those who have joined are utilizing the resources. I am still posting them on the traditional online grading system, but am having them in the documents file in our class group. Had I set up groups in Office 365 for my other classes I would have avoided having to email students documents today.

If you are curious what I mean when I say my class group here is a quick video that explains it.

 

Below is a video I found extremely helpful as far as setting up some of the features in my class group. I will also refer back to it for my goals this week. In the future I will mostly show a portion of this to my classes when explain the purpose of these groups to the students.

 

So far the online group has been a place for students to easily access resources, view the class calendar, submit assignments and quickly get in touch with me or their classmates. Over the next couple of weeks I would like to increase the interaction of the students within the group.

Here are my goals for next week:

  • Create a One Note document for students to enter data in. The data will be in connection to the poetry assignment we will be working on.
  • Have the students upload their presentations to the group so that they are accessible for everyone in the group to view them.

I realize this is only two goals for the week but I feel each of these tasks will have many small steps to achieve them. Plus the assignment that  I am planning to have these two tasks associated requires some more attention. I am changing it from the last time I taught this course, in addition to adding these technological requirements to it.