A welcome return to blogging

Wow, has it been so long since I last used this blog? Many things have transpired since I last toiled in ECMP 355: I’ve been teaching with Regina Public Schools for the past 5 years, I bought a house, renovated said house (thanks youtube!!), am the happy father of two amazing kids, and have been pursuing a masters in Ed Psychology. That’s a lot in one sentence! 

I’m back because, as an elective for said masters, I am taking EC&I831, an online class taught by Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. Having just finished the first class, my head is reeling with all the information that was provided! For starters, using Blackboard Collaborate as a means to meet and interact is great! Initially I was anxious about how it would work, but despite a few lags, it worked wonderfully.

A lot has been asked of us for this course, and I think the first thing I need to do is to create a workflow so that I might keep on top of all the apps and websites I will need to frequent in order to stay afloat.

Twitter. The following public list will be helpful in keeping abreast of all my colleagues’ tweets: https://twitter.com/kbhildebrandt/lists/ec-i-831-fall-2014
I’ve had a twitter account for ages, but over the years haven’t had a purpose for it’s use. Too often in the past years I have been sucked into the day to day with my students, and with the exception of the start of the year, or one of Alec’s recommendations, I haven’t used it as a research tool, nor a mouthpiece. Instead it has server most recently as a way of sharing my running logs with friends in Japan. I’m hoping this class will help me to shake the twitter rut I’ve fallen into, and to provide a purpose for following others and sharing.

Google + I joined Google + way back when it first started, but as few friends initially joined, I just let it gather metaphorical dust. I use Google Drive daily in my classroom, so am well versed in the potential it offers in collaborating, but hadn’t realized all the new options Google + offered. Communities seems to be an excellent way to stay connected as well, and has a wonderful format for browsing my colleagues’ posts. I especially like how I’m updated via Gmail whenever a new post has been shared.
I’m also happy to have all the documentation from this course shared with me via drive. This will allow me to keep all info in one place, and will make for easy sharing when the time comes to do so.

FLIPGRID Tonight I was able to use flipgrid for the very first time. I’ve looked at this website before, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to use it personally, or with my class. It was fun to be put on the spot like that, but also a little nerve wracking! 🙂

As part of the class, Alec asked us to answer the following questions, so I’ll do my best here to answer them:

How are you making your learning visible?

Prior to this class, I haven’t thought about the necessity of making my own learning visible to others. As I have a daily audience in my class of Grade 5’s, they are my main critics, and what learning I have done that goes into my lessons (how it’s presented, how students interact with said lesson, what the final product looks like, etc.) is quickly disseminated by them! In terms of professional learning, I am part of a PLC group that meets once a week in the school to talk about a variety of topics (transitions, core curriculum such as ELA or Math, assessment, etc.). We are often given some homework, and come back the next week to share our findings. 
In the personal sense, I use twitter as I mentioned earlier, to keep in touch with friends in Japan who also use it as a means of sharing running logs (how many km’s, time per Km, etc.). 
I’m also a Facebook user, but over the years have found myself using it less and less, with the reason being I haven’t really felt the need to share my ongoing personal thoughts or family photos with a wide group of people who, in some cases, I hardly have had any relationship with at all.

This class has enabled me to find purpose in creating and maintaining an online identity, as I’ll be actively using it to interact with my newfound community of EC&I831 peers. As part of the assignment to learn a new skill using online resources, and to track said progress using online tools will also be an interesting way of sharing my learning with others. I still haven’t decided upon a skill to work towards, although I’m strongly leaning towards either the guitar (I’m a self-confessed huge music nerd and it’s shaming to me that I still can’t play the guitar!), or finally taking the plunge to become proficient in Japanese (my wife is Japanese, and being proficient will enable me to have conversations with her family that go beyond “Look, a monkey,” and “I like eating noodles, do you?” In fact, just thinking about our trip back at xmas this year has me thinking that should be the priority! I’ll need to look around this week for anything mooc related for learning Japanese, to see if it’s viable.

How are you contributing to the learning of others?

As a classroom teacher to a bunch of wonderful and often challenging grade 5 students, I feel I am always pushing myself to find the best methods for reaching individual interests and strengths. Taking advantage of all the tech out there and bringing it into my classroom has made for huge gains in student interest and ability. 
As a parent to two kids, one just starting pre-k, and the other only 4 months old, I also feel a huge responsibility to offer as many learning opportunities as possible, so that they aren’t at a loss for anything. While my son is fluent in iPhone, we are still sticking to a lot of ‘analog’ sources in his education, from a lot of experiential learning outside, to hands-on play, and books, books, books!
As part of this new community of learners in EC&I 831, I’m hoping they will help me to grow as much as I can possibly help them. 

To wrap this up (my son just woke up!), the class looks fantastic, and now the aimless time spent spacing out through internet surfing has finally come to an end. It’s great to be back!



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