We are bloggers!

Steep

Since I have started COETAIL last Fall, I have grown increasingly more comfortable with using technology in order to connect with other professional educators. To take risks and challenges that may sometimes lead to failure, but that’s just all part of the learning process and a step to better learning. My COETAIL journey has been a steep learning curve, but the experience was so valuable and rewarding to me. Last year was the beginning of my journey, full of so many first happenings: COETAIL, First Grade Blogging and transitioning from a public school setting to an international school setting.

The final project was a challenge for me, but I was willing to take risks and push myself to grow my teaching and learning skill. Due to the range of age group from 5-7 year olds, non-English speakers and limited English proficiency in our first grade classroom this school year, supporting my students with limited English knowledge was my biggest challenge. I had to revisit and support them individually to make sure they had understood the lesson.

Yet I had another technology challenge I had to overcome in putting my final project video together. In order to make my video, I had to figure out how to use iMovie, screencast on Quicktime and use the channel on Youtube to upload my Quicktime video. This was a whole new level of learning for me. With the help of Youtube tutorials and investing time to explore the softwares, I was able to figure out how to use it. Along with planning a storyboard for my video applying the zen design principles , finding photos on flickr that represented the visual literacy design principles, redefining the SAMR model in my classroom and incorporating all the concepts learned through this COETAIL course in this final project video was definitely challenging. Once again, I was amazed by how much I learned through creating this final project video.

I can’t believe my COETAIL journey has come to an end! Or is it just a beginning? A beginning of my journey as a lifelong learner, striving to redefine my teaching by collaborating, sharing, thinking, reflecting, learning and growing professionally as an educator. As I continue on my journey, the knowledge I have acquired from COETAIL will help me think with a new lens. I will continue to connect with other professional educators through developing my PLN and share ideas about my new learning with my colleagues to grow professionally in an increasingly digital world.

Please check out our classroom blog for more evidence of student learning. Due to the time constraint, I was only able to add a few in the final project video.

Thank you for watching my video!

 

Posted in Course 5 | 1 Comment

Twitter 101: Building your PLN

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Through this COETAIL journey, I was able to start building my PLN through blogging and connecting with fellow COETAILers at work. I soon discovered that you could do so much more than just writing to reflect and share with other professionals by using powerful images, videos and adding links to your blog. Looking back at my journey with this course, I am so glad that my colleagues, Tabitha and Akio, have encouraged me to take this course with them. At first, I was hesitant because I felt like I knew so little about technology, but I’m glad I did. I feel I have grown so much from the beginning of this journey.

Twitter List Wordle

Prior to attending the pre-conference at 21st CL EduLAN (Education Technology Conference in Seoul: Transforming Your Classroom) last month, I had no clue what Twitter was all about. As I started my COETAIL journey last Fall, I had signed up for a Twitter account, but that was about it. Through Kim Cofino’s presentation, I had a clearer understanding about Twitter. Until recently, I had no clue that Twitter could be so powerful and valuable in building your PLN.

In the midst of trying to figure out how to use Twitter, I had the opportunity to attend a Writing Workshop conference with Carl Anderson shortly after the EduLAN Korea conference and started my very first tweet. Thanks to Tabitha, who showed me how to use hashtags and tweet to other professionals on Twitter, I was able to practice tweeting. It made no sense to me until Tabitha made it relevant for me. I’m blessed to be working with colleagues who are willing to collaborate, share and grow professionally with.

As I have just started to understand the value of Twitter, I felt like there’s still people out there like me. People who have heard about Twitter, no clue on how to use Twitter and zero or limited understanding of the value of Twitter. After my first couple of tweets, lurking around Twitter and listening to Kim’s presentation at the EduLAN pre-conference, I have organized my understanding of  the value of Twitter and PLN in an effort to help others like me.

What is a PLN?

  • Personal Learning Network
  • A network of professionals around the world to collaborate, communicate, share, learn and grow professional with.

Twitter:

  • 140 Characters or less of real-time posts
  • Sharing relevant information and engaging in conversation
  • Connecting with professional educators without physically being at a conference

Powerful Things About Twitter:

  • Short – lot of information in brief time (Each tweet has to be 140 characters or less.)
  • Links – useful (Links will take you directly to the website.)

By investing a long period of time on Twitter, you can eventually build a big network. This is extremely valuable because if you have a lot of followers, you can get answers back real-time when you tweet out a question.

4 Useful ways to find people on Twitter:

  • Following people you know
  • Looking at who they follow and follow them
  • Using their lists to add people to your list
  • Using hashtags to communicate with other professionals

For a newbie like me on Twitter, I thought a step-by-step instruction on how to create and add to your list and how to create a hashtag, would be helpful for beginners.

Twitter Lists feature allows you to organize the people you’re following on Twitter by creating a list that groups people for whatever reason (COETAIL, for example), and then you can get a snapshot of the things those users are saying by viewing that list’s page.

How to Create a List:

Go to your profile page by clicking Lists.

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Click create new list.

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Enter the name of your list (COETAIL), a short description of the list and select if you want the list to be public or private.

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To add or remove people from your lists:

Click the gear icon drop down menu on a user’s profile and select add or remove from lists.

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A pop-up will appear displaying your created lists. Check the lists you would like to add the user to, or uncheck the lists you’d like to remove the user from.

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To check to see if the user you wanted to add was successfully included in that list, navigate to the Lists tab on your profile page. Click the desired list, then click Members. The person will appear in the list of Members.

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How to Create a Hashtag:

Simply type a phrase of the form “#topic.” (#coetail; #tcrwp; #siskorea) Do not put any spaces in the phrase that you want to turn into a hashtag, because the hashtag begins with the “#” and ends with the first space. When you click “Tweet”, your new tweet will appear in your list of tweets, and the hashtag you created will appear in blue.

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I have just started to build my PLN through Twitter. As my COETAIL journey is coming to an end, I feel that this will be the beginning of my  journey as a lifelong learner. I will continue to collaborate, share, think, learn and grow professionally as an educator to redefine my teaching.

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Twitter in Action:

 

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Posted in Course 5 | 2 Comments

Blogging Part 2: Post & Commenting

Commenting on blogs can be challenging to my first graders, so I lurked around for ideas to teach in my classroom about writing good comments. I came across this kid friendly video to show my students.

After watching this video, we highlighted the main points on the anchor chart together.

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The students got a chance to post a comment or two on each other’s blog by accessing their classmates’ blogs through our classroom blog.

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In order to get support from the parents, I sent out a letter to the parents providing them with blogging benefits & guidelines and step-by-step instructions to post on the blogs. Step-by-Step instructions to post a comment

Below are some of the educational benefits that blogging provides:

  • Students have an authentic audience for their writing and their ideas, and that has an impact on the quality of their work.
  • Students revisit and reflect upon the lessons when they read the posts on the blog. The learning doesn’t stop when the chapter or unit ends – commenting keeps the learning alive.
  • Students learn keyboarding, how to navigate around the Internet and how to present digital information in a variety of ways.
  • Students have opportunities to participate and contribute to an online community.
  • Students practice a letter-writing form when they comment.
  • Students learn about geography by tracking our visitors and sharing comments with our blogging friends around the world.

Blogging Guidelines

  • Student work, photos and videos will only be identified by first names. All comments should have first names only. (no other personal information i.e. address, last name, family information will appear on the blog and students that appear in them will not be identified)
  • Parents who leave comments are asked not to use last names either. (Please post comments as “Asher’s mom” or “Sarah’s grandfather”, etc.)
  • Comments should be appropriate to the specific themes and issues that are being studied in class.

I plan to encourage the students to invite their friends and families living outside of Korea to comment on their blogs, too.

Posted in Course 5 | 1 Comment

Blogging Part 1: Post & Commenting

In our first grade classroom, we have been integrating our iPads in the classroom curriculum through posting on the blogs using various apps that we have explored using in the classroom. Some apps we have explored are:

Students had the opportunity to make Math thinking visible with the ShowMe app by  showing their learning and their thinking. By hearing their thinking and seeing them explain their thinking on the ShowMe video, I can see what they have learned. What Math concept they have grasped or what they need support in. These are meaningful ways to assess since I can also hear confidence or hesitation, self-corrections or errors in perception.

Students had the opportunity to practice their fluency in Reading Workshop by recording their voices about the books they were reading and sharing reading strategies they were practicing. (This was a challenge for me because I had to create a channel on YouTube and upload the SonicPics videos to YouTube. — It was a learning experience for me, but through trial and error, I was able to figure it out.)

Students had several opportunities to make collages of school events by using the PicCollege app. They learned how to add photos, add texts, add stickers and save to library to post on their blogs.

Students have been posting through the Blogger app. They learned how to make a title for the post, import photos from their photos folder or taking photos with the camera on their iPads, and adding text along with photos for their port. Finally, they learned how to publish their posts.

Students had several opportunities to export photos from Dropbox. We learned how to open various folders with photos and export photos to their photos folder.

Posted in Course 5 | 1 Comment

Plan

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Plan:

I had planned out several ideas for technology integration with Literacy and Math in course 4.

Writing Units:

  • Personal Narrative “Small Moment” Unit
  • Skills and Strategies Unit
  • Revision Unit

Reading Units:

  • Readers Build Good Habits Unit
  • Tackling Trouble with Picture Books Unit
  • Readers Meet the Characters with Folktales Unit

Math Units:

  • Patterns and Number Patterns through 10
  • Addition and Subtraction Strategies
  • Unknown Numbers in Addition and Subtraction
  • Place Value Concepts

left, straight or right?

Change of Plans:

Due to the range of age group from 5-7 year olds, non-English speakers and limited English proficiency in our first grade classroom this school year, I have decided to take a different route from what I had originally proposed to do in Course 4. At the beginning of our school year, we went over our school’s technology responsibilities and came up with a kid friendly version of iPad rules and consequences. We have been experimenting and exploring with various technology apps in our first grade classroom.

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In Course 5, I plan to address:

  • Teacher and Student Technology Responsibilities (iPad Rules and Consequences)
  • Integration of iPads in the classroom curriculum through posting on the blogs using various apps
  • Posting meaningful comments on the blogs and awareness of global community through our blogs

Standards that will be addressed:

 ISTE Standards for students

1. Creativity and innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processe

b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression

2. Communication and collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media

b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats

5. Digital citizenship

Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

a. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology

b. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity

Posted in Course 5 | 2 Comments

Course 4 Final Project

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As I was thinking about my Course 5 Final Project, I had several ideas for technology integration with Literacy and Math, so I’ll be sharing 3 possible ideas. Since Course 5 will run from September to December, I looked at our Rubicon Atlas to see what we’ll need to teach in Writing, Reading, and Math from the beginning of the school year until December. Below are my possible final project ideas for Course 5 in Literacy: Writing and/or Reading and Math…

Literacy:  

Writing Units:

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  • Personal Narrative “Small Moment” Unit
  • Skills and Strategies Unit
  • Revision Unit

Reading Units:

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  • Readers Build Good Habits Unit
  • Tackling Trouble with Picture Books Unit
  • Readers Meet the Characters with Folktales Unit

Math Units:

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  • Patterns and Number Patterns through 10
  • Addition and Subtraction Strategies
  • Unknown Numbers in Addition and Subtraction
  • Place Value Concepts

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

I’m working at an international school where the majority of the students are English language learners. Tech integration with Literacy or Math would be a great way to motivate and engage the students to write and read in Literacy and explain their thinking by supporting with evidence in Math. It’s also a fun way to build Digital Literacy and higher order thinking skills in Math. Last year, I started my first classroom blog and didn’t get a whole lot of posting done as I planned to. One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to integrate technology into my teaching regularly. By integrating technology, my English language learners would benefit from reading their peers work through their blog site. Another goal of mine is allowing my students to comment on each others blogs so that they can receive feedback from each other. (We can start off by inviting our peers, friends outside the classroom, and our families to leave comments. Eventually, it’ll be our long-term goal to invite audience from all around the world to comment on the student blogs.) This will give them a global awareness of audience around the world and enhance the process of learning. It will also get the creative juices flowing.

  • Global Collaboration (Classroom Blog; Student Blogs – Comments; Responses)
  • Digital Storytelling (Published Writings posted on the student blogs; Readings recorded and posted on the student blogs; Math word problems or equation recordings of how to solve a the equation step-by-step)
  • Digital Citizenship (Being responsible online; Clear understanding of the use of technology; modelling how to use and take care of technology tools properly )
  • Flipped Classroom?? (Teacher recordings of lessons – students can access through classroom blog; Students can learn from other through blog posts)

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

This is still very new to me. I’m learning so much everyday! I had so many first happenings this school year: new job (transitioning from a public school to an international school setting), first classroom blog, student blogs, and COETAIL. Since I didn’t get to integrate technology as much as I desired to this school year, one of my goals this upcoming school year is to integrate technology regularly. Also, I need to think about realistic expectations. How much do my students know about technology? The use of technology? Can my students follow up with the pace? Since I’ll have a new class of first graders in August and our class starts in September and goes through December, I’ll have to take time management and pacing in consideration as well. Also, if I want to experiment with the idea of a flipped classroom model, what do I need to consider? How much time will it take to record the lessons? Put together the lessons with visuals?Differentiating? Pacing? Technology troubleshooting? How long should these videos clips be? How will I know if my students understood the concept by watching the video clips? How can I check for understanding?

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

If I decide to experiment with the ideas of a flipped classroom model, the lessons would be accessible for the students 1:1 on their iPads to watch over and over again. It’ll also be posted on the classroom blog for viewing again at home. The students will need to understand the expectations of the use of technology and how to be digital citizenships online. They will have an awareness of global collaboration through the comments and responses they leave on the student blogs, as well as on the classroom blog since they will be communicating through their digital stories in Literacy or sharing their mathematical thinking in Math. The students will also be required to be exposed to various apps on the iPads for technology integration piece. I would have to think of alternative ways to assess the students’ work. Eventually, towards the end of this unit, my goal is to facilitate and support them to meet their needs.

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

Some skills and/or attitudes to consider:

  • Technology skills (iPads exploration to integrate technology into Literacy/Math)
  • Creativity
  • Listening skills (to follow technology instructions carefully)
Posted in Course 4 | 2 Comments

Technology in our 1st Grade Classroom

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Our school has recently adopted the Acceptable Use Policy for our Elementary students from kindergarten to fifth grade. The school distributed posters for each classroom to remind the teachers and the students regarding the use of technology in  our Elementary School.

Teacher Technology Responsibilities

Teachers Are Responsible For:

  • Physically walking around, actively monitoring and visually supervising students who are using technological devices
  • Posting the Student Technology Responsibilities in your classroom and going over them once each trimester at a minimum
  • Ensure new students receive a copy of the Student Technology Responsibilities
  • Not allowing computer or iPad use during indoor recess unless the teacher is actively monitoring and supervising the students
  • Keeping a record of student infractions
  • Checking the cart to make sure all iPads and computers are replaced and plugged in after use
  • Locking the cart after use
  • Signing up to use the computers/iPads on the Mobile Lab calendars
  • Notifying the principal if a student’s misuse of the computer affects more than one person

Student Technology Responsibilities

Students Are Responsible For:

1. Keeping all cellphones and iPods off and stored in backpacks throughout the school day.

2. Respect and protect the privacy of yourself and others.

  • Do not view, use or copy passwords, or information which does not belong to you.
  • Do not give out private information about yourself or others

3. Respect and practice the principles of community.

  • Communicate only in ways that are kind and respectful.
  • Report threatening or inappropriate information to a teacher or the principal.
  • Do not send, copy or create messages that are threatening, rude, discriminatory, or meant to harass or bully.
  • Do not send spam, chain letters, or other unsolicited mailings.

Consequences

  • Students will receive a warning from a teacher or principal and parents will be notified.
  • Students will lose the use of the technological device for a period or day and parents will be notified.
  • Students will lose the use of the technological device for an extended period of time decided by the teacher, principal and parents.

For our first graders, these posters were too wordy, so we went over it as a class and then came up with a kid-friendly version to remind our entire class on the use of technology in the classroom. We came up with “iPad Rules” written on chart paper so that everyone would be reminded of the technology agreement in our classroom. By agreeing to follow the rules, the students wrote their initials on the chart paper as well. The ”iPad Rules” chart is up in our classroom where it’s clearly visible to remind our students of the agreement and consequences that we came up with.

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How to properly manage the use of technology in our 1st grade classroom:

First graders need a lot of reminders and modelling. I would go over the below as needed.

  • Class agreement on the use of technology
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Family Agreements on the use of technology (Open communications with parents to support them at home)
  • Consequences

After reading Kim Cofino’s blog post titled “Living with Laptops,” I was inspired to add a part on classroom agreements on the use of technology, highlight the key factors of Digital Citizenship, family agreements on the use of technology, and consequences when breaking the agreements both at school and home for a balanced lifestyle. Open House presentation would be a great opportunity to highlight the key points of the use of technology and possibly I can leave a 10 minute session at the end for questions, suggestions, or ideas they may share with other parents or go over technology expectations. For the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, I plan to add key points on the Open House presentation on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle both at school and at home on students’ technology use. I will also have supplementary information that the parents could take home and read for resources. In the powerpoint, I thought it would be helpful to show the parents how their child uses technology in our first grade classroom. If I could compile a short video clip or a couple of photos of the students in action using technology, I thought this would be a great way to show them. Also, we can further address this issue during the parent-teacher conferences or even set up an appointment to share.

Posted in Course 4 | 2 Comments

Future of Education

You Choose Your Path

What is the future of education? Will education as we know it change because of technology? How do these learning theories apply in our first grade classroom?

As I set foot into the international teaching career, I realized how technology is more accessible in international schools than in public schools in the United States. Back in my public school, where I taught second grade at that time, we only had access to a computer lab once a week for 40 minutes. We had access to the kind of computers that would take at least 5 minutes to turn on. Due to budget cuts, teachers were pink slipped left and right, the district investing on technology was out of the question. Here, at my current international school, we have access to 1:1 iPad cart, technology integration specialist, IT office for troubleshooting, and teachers from all around the world with a wealth of knowledge to share and collaborate with.

Whether technology is more accessible or hardly accessible, I personally believe there are passionate teachers who are willing to teach their best practices to their students. One thing for sure is that with technology being easily accessible, it allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Technology is like a toolbox that allows us to collaborate with others around the world. We can share ideas, build a community outside our school, exchange resources, collaborate, and even build a global audience through blogging even in first grade. It helps us to differentiate in an innovative way by using technology to engage and motivate the students, especially English language learners whose native language is not English would benefit from this. There are multiple possibilities through the use of technology.

Just at the beginning of the school year last August, I took big steps in my professional career with so many first happenings: classroom blogging, students blogs linked to my classroom blog, new international career (moving from a public school to an international school setting), and COETAIL. Thinking back to the beginning of my school year, I remember I was hesitant to take this course at the beginning. I remember at the beginning of COETAIL, I was overwhelmed. I tried to absorb too much information all at once that was foreign to me. As I thought about the path I took, I realized how much I had grown professionally. I’m still learning so much from COETAIL everyday! The only difference is that now I have learned to absorb the right amount of information without feeling overwhelmed. I remember my days as a college student, where I took some classes merely to get credit because it was a prerequisite course to move onto the next level or because it was a mandatory class in order to graduate.

In COETAIL, I’m motivated to learn from others, share resources, and challenged to try out new things in my classroom. It’s been such a valuable learning experience for me as I took baby steps to learn and grow from this community. This learning journey I have been in together with fellow COETAILers have absolutely helped me grow as an educator, helped me think outside the box, gave me courage to try out new things in my classroom, and has been a valuable time to share insights on learning.

How does global collaboration play a role in my first grade classroom?

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 In our first grade classroom, we use technology to engage and motivate students. One way we do this is through the students blog. We have invited parents, families, and friends to be their audience. We have explored a various of iPad apps to post from Poetry readings in Reader’s Workshop for fluency and expression to recording Science observations, predictions, and questions we may have on our plants unit. Currently, we are working on publishing our class poetry book on BookCreator to share with the global audience.

Next steps:

–  Have an understanding of global audience

– Allow my first graders to comment on each others blog

– Respond to comments by replying

– Invite families and friends across the world

Posted in Course 4 | 1 Comment

The Importance of Play

Moving from a public school setting to an international school setting was quite a change for me to adjust. Back in my previous school, it was natural for students to play. They would have play dates after school or on the weekends, play with their friends after school in the school playground, play at the park in their neighborhood, or enjoy other outdoor activities with friends and/or families. Parents are more concerned about academics, assessments, rankings, and grades. I was shocked to find out that some of my students go to bed past 10p.m. A few of my students go to “hagwons,” which is the Korean word for private after school academies that drill and kill. Yes, already in first grade! Some of my students who have siblings in the upper grades told me that they go to academies after school.

I have been trying my best to encourage my parents during parent-teacher conferences and when I have opportunities to encounter them that play is essential, especially in the lower grades. First graders should have play dates, play in the playground, and enjoy more outdoor activities that allows them time to play.

As I am a visual learner, I have organized my thinking through Popplet to why play plays an important role in the lower grades.

Why is play important?

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How does play have a place in our first grade classroom?

I believe play is important especially in the lower grades of Elementary School. Play is how young children learn best. It is through play that children develop the important areas of feeling and connecting, sensing and moving, listening and talking, and thinking and remembering. Children develop social skills, emotional skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, physical skills, fine-motor skills, creativity, problem solving skills, and a lot more through play.

Students have the opportunity to go to recess (morning and afternoon) twice a day. During their afternoon snack time, they are allowed to chat and eat their snacks. This is a great time for the children to develop their language skills by interacting with their peers by using their words to communicate. Every Friday, they have an opportunity to play with board games, puzzles, legos, do art activities, iPads, and other activities that allow them to enjoy this period to play in an engaging and motivating way. It’s hands-on, but most of all, a fun way for children to develop various skills.

How does play look like in our first grade classroom?

Children helping each other and working together drawing on the white boards.

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Children playing with each other during recess.

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Children reading together.

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Children playing with math manipulatives and constructing/building things out of math manipulatives.

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Children playing with iPads.

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Children building, constructing, and working together to build legos.

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Children playing board games.

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Children working on art activities.

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Various other activities such as putting puzzle pieces together, other art activities, and a lot more.

What children think of play:

At our school, extra curricular activities such as primary choir and Suzuki (violins) are offered during their afternoon recess. Which means the students go to these extra curricular classes by giving up their afternoon recess. One time, we found out that the classes were cancelled. My students were so excited to go out and play with their friends.  I personally think that if children need more time to play, parents should allow them to play more.

Just wanted to leave you a short video clip of what children think of play…

 

Posted in Course 4 | 1 Comment

Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, and Challenge Based Learning in the 1st Grade Classroom

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I was introduced to the Project Based Learning (PBL), Problem Based Learning (PBL), and Challenge Based Learning (CBL) methods through my COETAIL course. The readings got me self-reflecting and thinking over my teaching in the classroom and how these methods fit in my first grade classroom.

My Understanding of the three methods (PBL, PBL, CBL) of learning:

Project Based Learning (PBL):

  • Student-centered inquiry
  • Research method of learning
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Hands-on
  • Deepens student’s knowledge
  • Build skills for the future
  • Learning in depth

Problem Based Learning (PBL):

  • Active learning
  • Real life problems
  • Student-centered
  • Small groups (Each student in the group learns and communicates.)
  • Teacher only facilitates the learning
  • Solves authentic problems
  • Activates prior knowledge
  • Discovery of knowledge gaps are overcome through self-directed learning
  • Open-ended problems

Challenge Based Learning (CBL):

  • Ongoing reflections
  • To engage and motivate student learning
  • Students take action of problems
  • Collaborative learning experience
  • Web 2.0 tools for collaborating
  • Up-to-date technology tools and resources

Reflection on the three methods (PBL, PBL, CBL) of learning:

As an Elementary School teacher, I find it quite challenging to use all three of these methods of learning for all subject areas due to the constraints of time. So instead of trying to juggle everything together and not getting any of it done right, my goal is to create an environment where the activities are student-centered. As a facilitator, I try to activate their prior knowledge, pose critical thinking, and prompt questions for discussions that are student-led. I try to differentiate whenever I have the opportunity to meet the students’ needs.

So, how does the three methods (PBL, PBL, CBL) of learning apply to my first grade classroom?

In Social Studies…

Essential Questions:

What is a map? What is a community? What can you find in your community? How does a map key help you locate places?

I had the students brainstorm within their table groups (usually 3-4 students of mixed levels) the answers to the essential questions asked. The students had a lively discussion and everyone shared their ideas. Table captains at each table group were to jot down the ideas and share out to the whole class. When we gathered together in our sharing circle, I had each table group share their ideas as I charted it on our class chart. We came up with a list of things you could find in a community such as: post office, school, shopping mall, park, police station, fire station, supermarket, gas station, amusement park, etc. We also had a discussion about why maps were useful and the purpose of a map.

Then, I assigned a hands-on project for the students to create an island community map. They were to put at least 8 things on their community maps, a key map, and a compass rose. Below are some examples of my students’ hands-on Map Project:

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In Science…

Essential Questions:

Why haven’t our daisy seeds germinated after 1 month? Why do you think we failed? What could we have done differently to be successful?

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In Science, we have planted daisy seeds in our egg pots for the students to observe, but after a month of observing, watering, and taking care of our egg pots, none of our seeds had sprouted. So we decided to get together in our sharing circle to discuss our failures.

Some of the students responses were:

  • Not enough sunlight in the classroom
  • Too much or too little water
  • Bad soil
  • Not enough air in the classroom
  • Seed has been outdated

They recorded their observations, predictions, and questions they had on ShowMe. Below is an example of one student’s example:

What can we do differently?

  • Re-plant with new seed and soil
  • Change environment by putting our plants outside for plenty of sunlight and air
  • Give just enough water

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In Math…

Essential Questions:

What do you notice about these shapes (corner, sides, roll, stack)? What are the similarities and differences? What can you build out of these shapes?

Before the unit, I gave each table group a set of shapes to explore with their table groups.

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Student responses:

  • Rectangular prism has 8 corners, 6 sides; stacks
  • Squares have 8 corners, 6 sides; stacks
  • Cone has 1 side, no corners; stack on rectangular prism, square, cylinder
  • Cylinder has 2 sides, no corners; stacks and rolls
  • Sphere has no sides, no corners; rolls
  • Some shapes only roll, some only stack, and some rolls and stacks

After the hands-on math activity of exploring the shapes, the students had a clearer understanding of the shapes and were engaged in their math assignments.

From the three methods of learning, student-centered inquiry, teacher only facilitating, and collaboration resonated with me the most.

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