Big changes unveiled this week! I'll list them out:
1) Rubric Update:
I added a clarity of content/examples section on the suggestion of the students and removed the story board section. We found the script was fine, and storyboards were not necessary (although some students made them).
I also added a section for the completion of the video description, and adding time stamps on the video. See the new rubric below! The first and last sections are new!
2) Major Project Part 2 is introduced: Using Wakelet to make a Curated Class set of Notes
So the major idea here is that we will complete our class tutorials for each section, much easier now that only 2 or 3 students will be making a video per chapter. That should wrap up by end of November.
Then, I will have students remix my notes to make them more student friendly.
We will also create our own exercises, and solutions for each exercise.
We'll then make a Wakelet for our Grade 11 computer science class, and see what the world thinks! We plan to include our "best" tutorial for each section (class vote), the class notes for each section, as well as the class exercises and solutions in the Wakelet.
A big special thanks to Dean, Kyla, and Melinda for helping me with this idea the other day during our breakout session in class! You guys are the BEST! :D
Alright. That would basically be it for this week. I took a video (below) of me introducing these ideas to my class. They were very receptive, and were excited at the prospect of "fixing up my course and sharing it with the world". It's amazing how quickly they went from being sort of anxious about "being on the internet" to "let's do this!". What a great class, and an amazing experience for me as a teacher, who was sort of skeptical about the value of sharing everything we do with the "world".
I can only thank everyone in this course for this opportunity.
So, stay curious.
A quick video of me introducing our big developments discussed above with my class!
This is going to be a very brief post! I've been mad busy doing report cards the last 4 or 5 days, so it's been a roller coaster!
The students just wrapped up the last unit on conditional control structures, so there isn't much to report.
This next week will be spent on them creating their videos in class. It's also a short week at the school here, as parent teacher interviews are this Friday, and Monday was Remembrance Day.
The students are excited to give each other some feedback. I am hoping this process will be much more valuable now that they've had my feedback first on their first video. I think I mentioned last time that I broke the students into smaller groups, so there will only be a few videos per topic, and thus I'm hoping the feedback to go more smoothly as well.
I've also discovered how to organise the YouTube channel better into Categories, so I spent some time doing that as well! Check it out below by clicking on the picture!
Hopefully I'll have more to report next week! I anticipate that I will!
Some of the Open Educational Resources I checked out.
Alrighty, so I went ahead and checked out a variety of OER's (click here to find out what an OER is in more depth and how they relate to Open Educational Practices).
Briefly, according to this Wikipedia article,
"Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. There is no universal usage of open file formats in OER. The term OER describes publicly accessible materials and resources for any user to use, re-mix, improve and redistribute under some licenses. The development and promotion of open educational resources is often motivated by a desire to provide an alternate or enhanced educational paradigm."
We also had a presenter in class, Verena Roberts (add her on Twitter), who spoke to us about Open Educational Practices (OEP). In a nutshell, OEP aims to remove the walls in a classroom and tackle big community problems as a network of learners. In the process, students will usually use OERs, experts, and may or may not contribute to some sort of OER or remix an OER. One particular quote that stood out to me from Verena's presentation was the one from the first slide:
"...real learning isn't done behind walls or with boundaries, I believe that the real learning begins when we are left to figure something out, to problem solve, to collaborate and discuss with people of experience. It's about the "doing" and what can be learned from the experience" -High School Student
I do think we need to give students more opportunities to learn in these sorts of settings, where everything is a bit chaotic, and big, and messy. That alone would be an amazing learning experience, because I think it emulates what actually happens in "real life".
So, I viewed a bunch of different OERs that were presented to us in class. I made a quick video of the experience. I feel like I ran into some bad luck, and ended up searching topics that maybe those particular databases didn't really excel in. I'll give a quick summary after the video (for those of you short on time, or those who hate videos)
My quick summary of my video:
-It can actually be hard to find good quality resources, you do need to spend some time going through everything, or adapting and remixing.
-Openstax is neat, I think it's an amazing effort to make these open source textbooks. Just a great resource in general.
-Khan Academy shows you the power of OERs, more below.
-MERLOT needs a better rating system. They also need to find a way to make sure resources that are there are still working and up to date. Clicked on a lot of stuff that just wasn't as advertised or was a broken link to nothing. For reviews, perhaps something based on clicks versus the star reviews users can leave behind. Maybe add a comment feature so a one star review can explain why it was one star would be an idea.
Which leads me to my big point: All these OERs need a better rating system. YouTube sort of naturally does this... generally a learning video that has a lot of views is probably a very well done video. I ran into an issue on MERLOT and others that either the resources didn't have ratings, or it was hard to actually find the learning resources (it would link you to a website and you'd have to go digging around), or just the resource had moved and hadn't been updated. I find you don't really get these problems on YouTube (I'm a big fan of YouTube, as you can tell).
I think a shining example of what an OER can be (although not very interesting as far as the lessons go) is Khan Academy.
Why is Khan Academy is Damn Delicious?
It's free, and it's open for your learning needs. People on Quora think it's great too (although if you scroll down far enough, there are people saying it's not so great on that page too!).
The videos are consistently of high quality and similar format video to video, so you get "used" to them. You can find pages of people complaining about the exercises not being good enough, or the videos not being original enough, or that they aren't "anything special". But if you are trying to learn content, I don't see anything wrong with the videos. Direct instruction is often necessary to learn a skill. Practicing a problem is necessary to learn a skill. I used to do 1.5 hours of guitar a day, and a lot of it was playing the same bloody thing over and over again.
The only thing about Khan Academy though is they are a non profit that has over 100 employees who are paid to make content and make everything work. I sort of feel like this isn't necessarily in the spirit of OERs... but it's also what makes Khan Academy so darn useful. It's easy to search, the information is all in one place, and you don't need reviews because it's high quality stuff. If you google what Khan Academy employees make, you'll see it's over $100,000 on average. They've also exploded in active monthly users, that's a lot of people taking advantage of this resource:
Another thing. They are a non profit, but they have a LOT of funding. Obviously if they are paying high salaries this must be the case, but it explains part of the reason why it's such a slick free service.
So where is this OER movement going?
I don't think it's going anywhere. The variety of resources out there is amazing. There is an issue with some of them having broken links, a lack of actual in depth reviews to help teachers decide what resource they'd like to use without investing too much time... but if you are willing to sift through that there are AMAZING resources.
If someone can figure out an actual accreditation process, I think we could see the rise of "universities" that are completely free, where all the resources are OERs, but then you can pay to actually get an accredited degree. That's what I see as the next natural step of this movement.
Does anyone out there see the potential for how OERs could be turned into a real certification of some sort (imagine getting your computer science degree online this way?), perhaps offered by a university, with an accreditation fee or something to verify that you learned all the necessary material?
Till next time,
My own "Teacher"Tube
I've been doing a good job of keeping my YouTube channel updated for my students in Grade 11 Pre-calculus. They are starting to catch on too as they begin to realize that videos will actually be uploaded and ready to go. I jumped from 29 subs (I know right, sad) to 38 in a few days, which means my students have been subscribing.
I've also begun uploading in class demos I do for computer science. See my latest here (audio is horrible, recorded it with a really old crappy microphone I got from the school library).
The fancy mic the school bought me arrived yesterday, so I'll have much better audio on the next one!
Reading on Self-Paced Classrooms
I recently read this article on one instructor's strategies in creating a self-paced classroom, and it got me thinking about my grade 10 computer science class. This semester, it seems to me like I have more students struggling than usual. Something in the water? No idea!
So I was trying to brainstorm some ways in which I could help my students, and at that exact moment, my email inbox puked out that article from ISTE, or the International Society of Technology Education, which is a great organisation, I recommend checking them out.
If you have 5 minutes and hate reading, you could just watch the YouTube video below on Self-Paced classrooms. The benefits are huge, and I hope to implement some of the suggestions, especially those on splitting up the class into those who get more direct instruction and those who consume resources more independently. I also liked the idea of a Google Form to help students reflect on their learning, which also allows the teacher know who they need to check in on more frequently.
Some students also do NOT do well with a self-paced classroom, so I really thought the article's idea of only allowing students with a certain grade threshold to proceed with the self-paced material a good idea.
Lately I've been staring at my phone, which tells me how much of my life I'm wasting away on social media. Since starting this class, it's more than usual (but I think for mostly good reasons!)
However, I read this quick article on how it's affecting teens and teachers from ISTE. Seems like most kids live in a home that has a mobile device, and over 50% of teens consider themselves addicted to their phones! According to the article, most teens spend about 8 or 9 hours on their phones! I wouldn't have believed it, but I've had days in the last month where I used my phone for over 6 hours for multimedia use... which for me is nuts, but I've been doing a lot of video editing and searching on it for this class and others, so that might be why.
I found an interesting and quick video on how our phones are changing our bodies AND brains. Spooky stuff, just right after Halloween! Check it out:
So, I've decided that i'm addicted to my phone, (scary article, if you do some of those things you might have a problem like me!) but I don't know how to check my Twitter mentions. Such irony. D'oh!
In light of how much we use our cell phones, do you guys see evidence in your classrooms or even outside of your classrooms that we are addicted to our phones? I gotta say, when I drive I like to play a game where I count how many people are driving on while using their cell phones. It's a depressingly high number of people... what do you think we should be teaching in classrooms to help combat our collective supposed cell phone addiction? Is it even possible to combat this, given how many apps work on our dopamine pathways, fueling the addition?
Till next time,
stay saucy, and also, STAY CURIOUS!
saucily and curiously yours,
PS: below is another reason I can't enjoy live concerts anymore. Just enjoy the show!
Wow, it's been busy these last few weeks. I literally just finished uploading all the tutorials I received (Well, lets be honest, I had to hound a few people, and I am unfortunately still waiting on 2 people to hand in... -_-)
My class YouTube Channel, "Coding Tutorials" has a NEW YOUTUBE BANNER, YAY! Special thanks to my student Yulie (who wishes to otherwise remain anonymous) on her creation of our excellent new banner.
I've made a quick video and posted it to YouTube if any of you prefer to hear my beautiful voice and see pretty pictures of things such as rubrics, videos, my computer monitor, possibly my coffee mug, and also my whiteboard. Oh, and don't forget the pretty fade to black transitions (cue Darkness My Old Friend!)
If you hate videos, I'll quickly summarize below after the link:
The quick and dirty version of my YouTube video:
-I gave the students my feedback (see video to actually see some of the rubrics filled out).
-A few students added some text to the screen as they narrated to summarize things and I found this really useful so I showed the class. I hope my modelling how I expect the critiques to work will help them out, as this time they will be giving each other feedback (I wanted them to experience my feedback first before having them do it this round).
-I have decided it's a must that students write their own descriptions for their videos on YouTube, so we are adding that in to the Rubric.
-I also wanted students to add a table of contents with timestamps to each respective area to their video (in the description under the video on YouTube). This will make the videos much more useful as various concepts are covered in each one.
-THE BIG NEWS is that I've also decided that since it took so long (3 weeks) or so for students to make the first batch of videos (we were also working on class notes and things) is that I'm breaking down the concepts into groups, and having 3 students do each video only. I don't need 9 or 10 videos for the same concept. The fact it was taking so long was really bothering me, so I think this is actually a great solution, and also it gives the students some flexibility in choosing the concepts they feel most comfortable making videos for. Luckily I had a good spread with nobody fighting over the limited 3 spots per concept. See the video, last 1.5 minutes is the whiteboard with the concepts and student groupings.
-This also means the feedback the students give each other can actually be done as a group of 3, which I feel will make it a lot more valid and useful for each grouping (versus just getting feedback from one person).
-Oh, also, my principal so was kind as to purchase me a $200 microphone so when I make my computer science videos at my desk I can sound oh so pretty. Yay! Thanks Bryce (follow him on Twitter here)!
Till next time everyone!
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with
I watched Dean Shareski's video this week on sharing and open education with great interest. His main idea surprised me. Dean states that he's a composite of all the learning networks he is in. By not sharing, we take away from the network that basically compiled us into who we are. He quotes Ewan Mcintosh:
"Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator. It is the work." - Ewan Mcintosh
This is food for thought that I had never considered before. Sure, I love using free online resources, they are wonderful! And yes, I like posting things online when I think they are useful (for example, I've been slowly uploading every direct instruction lesson I've done in Grade 11 Pre-calculus for my students to my YouTube Channel... I suppose they could be useful to other people besides my students)... but should teachers ALWAYS be sharing online? Is it actually our main directive in today's world of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?
Ah, yes, maybe the best things in life ARE free? And maybe if we've ever used free online materials before, As Dean says, we should be giving back and sharing our knowledge as well?
I'm slowly realizing that maybe as teachers, we should be a lot more mindful of the fact that we have benefited so much from others posting online, that we should ensure we set aside some time to share things we have created as well.
Dean shares quite a few powerful stories about teachers (wanna see powerful teachers in action? Check out my classmates' blogs... yea, I just gave ALL OF YOU a shout out! That's love!) who have shared things online and really changed education for the better because of it. Quick highlights:
1) Dan Meyers is a resource I have used in the past in my math classes. He started off by sharing things on his blog for free. Ironically, he now tours around and makes money with his ideas... the last idea he posted on his website is from 2017, but he is a busy man as seen on Twitter! He currently works at Desmos (a great online math resource!). I honestly don't begrudge him that monetizing his ideas. He got started by sharing his stuff for free, in the true spirit of what teachers should do. His free material continues to be available to this day!
2) George Couros (twitter here... I follow him, you should too!) is also featured, sharing his identity fair idea, and connecting his school with another school in Texas that decided to run the same fair. A student with Tourettes Syndrome also gets some worldwide attention. It's a great story.
Massive Open Online Courses
The next part of my post will briefly deal with the history of MOOCs, and what I think of them. MOOCs are part of the Open Education Movement, which is generally free education offered by various bodies and allows anyone, anywhere to learn.
I'll briefly highlight some history, which I originally didn't want to do, but then got interested as I read more about it. Some people think that MOOCs all "sort of" started with distance education... but if you think about it, mailing students textbooks to learn from in the mid 1800s was about as a good as distance learning could get.
Below you'll find a picture overview, because pictures say 1000 words, am I right? Yeeees!
EARLY YEARS: DOWNES & SIEMENS
According to MAUT (McGill Association of University Teachers), it was these two dudes, Stephen Downs and George Siemens, who in 2008 who sort of really coined the term "MOOC" and actually nailed down the MOOC concept, which was loosely floating around somewhere on the internet in open education literature from before the dinosaurs.
MOOCs were different from traditional distance learning because they truly allow for interactions between all the participants of the course, which was only possible with the new advent of certain online tools during the Web 2.0 era. There was much fervor over the support students could get in support groups in forums and other mediums online, besides the delivery methods of the course which could use Twitter, YouTube, etc...
Eventually, all sorts of universities were offering free, open, online courses, a la MOOC style!
Honestly, if you want to read a good, more in depth synthesis of MOOCs, I recommend this Wikipedia article (which started with the open education movement back in 2001, of course!)
It's funny, even though a quick google search for MOOC will usually bring up Downes and Siemens, if you go read about Downes, his one blog post actually mentions that Alec Couros ran one of the first MOOCs way before Downes did, back in 2007, which brings me to my next heading....
EVEN EARLIER YEARS: ALEC COUROS
MOVING ON... MY TEACHING PRACTICE
So, what else can I say about MOOCs? How have they effected my teaching? How has the whole concept of open education changed my practice? I have to say, many of the amazing changes in my mind happened in my computer science classes:
1) The grade 12 class entirely makes use of free web resources to learn their chosen topics or to pursue their educational interests in computer science. Students have...
-Used Unity to make games
-Used EdX to learn Python
-Used Roblox Studio to create games
-Used other online resources to learn C#, C++ on Codecademy
2) My grade 12 class also learns how to use Scratch, a coding language for kids. They develop 5 or 6 lessons on it, and then they spend 1 hour each week out in local K-8 schools teaching Grade 7 and 8's how to code. The first year we did it, the newspaper picked up the story, and the kids were very excited about it. Everyone has a blast! I now have so many local teachers interested in having my classes teach their kids that I actually have to turn teachers away!
3) My Grade 11 class (also my major project for this class) has been making YouTube tutorials on how to code. We have so far created tutorials for Scratch, but I have a bunch more videos I need to upload, as the first batch of videos is in!
4) I upload my terrible (but according to my students, apparently handy) lectures for grade 11 and 12 precalculus math to my YouTube channel. It first started as something I would do if I was sick or had to be out of the classroom for whatever reason, I'd record the lecture the students would miss so the sub (who often can't teach math) could play it for the class.
This semester, my challenge to myself was to get every single individual lesson recorded and online for Grade 11 Pre-Calculus. I have been a little lazy in uploading them, I only recently started uploading them. BUT I have actually recorded every lesson on my phone this semester so far, and I am slowly going back and uploading them! I've been doing one a day mostly. Next semester I will to the same for Grade 12! Perhaps I'll blog when it's complete!
5) I'm also part of MANACE, an organization that provides ideas and inspirations on best practices around educational technology. We actually recently interviewed Alec Couros (here is part 1 and part 2 of the interview) as part of a series of podcasts called Dial I. T. The idea is to have some conversations with education movers and shakers every few weeks. I like them.
So, I'd actually say the open education movement and MOOCs has actually greatly affected my teaching practice. I didn't even really realize it, but now I think it's my job to ensure I continue to make my progress and resources available to the world via my blog, YouTube, and Twitter (I just hate tweeting... I like to stick stuff up on YouTube and call it a night. I am trying to expand my network).
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
It leaves us in a place where really, I think if you are an educator, you need to JOIN US in sharing your wealth of teaching knowledge with the world! Giving back only makes you a better teacher, and could mean the WORLD to someone out there! Even if it's just one person, that's amazing! And likely, over time, I reckon you will reach more than just one soul!
Here's a quick little survey to wrap things up, I am curious how you guys go about sharing your knowledge with the world!
Alrighty! Whew, I'm tired now.
Stay motivated, share, be nice, and mostly....
Matteo Di Muro
Quick update on the major project: doing YouTube Tutorials for Computer Science.
I made a quick 3 minute video to update on the progress so far:
In case you didn't feel like watching the video, the summary is thus:
-Microphones are in!
-Microphones don't like connecting to computers, but we figured it out eventually! They connected great to the students' phones.
-This is taking longer than I thought.
-I have the first few videos rolling in slowly.
-I briefly interview a few students on their tutorial making progress.
-Students didn't critique each other this round--I'm going to do it, so they have an exemplar of what I'm expecting. They'll do it on the next video!
-Next two weeks will be quiet as we learn the next unit of material.
I've been so inspired by Dean's journey of "coding with the agent", and Curtis' TwitterBot. that I've decided to do another blog post. Specifically, on offline coding activities.
Many teachers I've talked to either don't have access to a computer lab, or devices to do actual coding on. Or, they are intimidated by coding in general and don't want to read vague 24 page documents with "suggestions" on how to get started. That's pretty daunting. Well, there are alternatives!
England has been doing a great job (wake up, Canada! Everybody else has a solid plan on incorporating coding into their curriculum) on incorporating computational thinking skills and coding concepts into their grade school curriculum. It's genius, actually.
So that brings us to today's menu item. Barefoot computing. This website offers a variety of coding activities for grade school students, both online and offline! Who do we have to thank for this wonderful resource? Well, apparently it's a program that was developed by Computing at School, The Chartered Institute for IT and the (UK) Department for Education.
I love how the UK implemented coding into their grade school curriculum (click for curriculum document), but also how they have created a bunch of workshops and resources for teachers to learn how to implement it into their classrooms. I feel that largely in Canada we are left to our own devices, and all the provinces work fairly independently of one another instead of in unison.
The thing I really like about Barefoot is the totally complete lessons, with all the resources you need, some even come with power-points if they are more involved projects.
Barefoot also ties in a bunch of other curricular outcomes as well, so there is a lot of incentive for teachers to use them. I have reviewed a fair number of them, and they would seem appropriate for use in Canada.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles for students in Grade 10 Computer Science is dealing with algorithmic thinking, breaking down tasks into smaller and smaller steps, and just "thinking" like a coder. What the UK has done is tried to embed these concepts into their curriculum, so that these types of thought processes are not so foreign. I really think it's a good thing, and they've found a really fun way to do it! It doesn't even feel like coding, some of these lessons.
That's it for now!
Well, it's been a few weeks, so I figured I'd give an update on the progress in my class.
I am having my class make YouTube tutorials for each unit as their major assessment. Permission forms are slowly trickling in, so that is good. Most student parents are opting to have them upload the videos to YouTube.
I didn't feel like doing a bunch of typing, so I put together a quick video on the process so far. We watched a few videos on the elements of good tutorials, and then we brainstormed what elements we thought would apply most to our particular class. Then I made a rough rubric, which the class then commented on. Then I made a final rubric based on class feedback. All of this has been documented in the video I created.
All that being said, the major highlights and insights so far are:
-This is taking longer than I thought it would.
-Students seem to not mind the process of making the videos, although it's time consuming.
-students are being forced to really know the material, since they have to present on it and make a video. This is an easy unit (with their prior grade 10 knowledge anyways), so I'm not liking how long it's taking to make the videos. On the plus side, when we get to the much harder units on classes and inheritance, I think this will be a big plus as those are tricky concepts to truelly understand the first few times around.
SO I think this will pay off. Time will tell. Does anyone see any flaws or ways to make this process faster or better? Let me know!
Till next time internet people, stay curious!
As the snow comes piling down on brandon and manitoba in general, I find myself cooped up inside (after a nice snowy run outside, of course), I find myself going through my classmate's blogs and reflecting on how lucky I am to have had a chance to meet and learn from all these amazing people.
I'm so lucky to be in #eci831 with Alec Couros (find his webpage here) and a very diverse and intelligent group of teachers and others involved in education!
For example, Ms. Moffatt has a very detailed post on the nature of knowledge today, and in particular I really enjoyed the chart on some popular epistemological perspectives that are relevant today.
I could literally feature everybody's blog here, but one more that I'd like to highlight is Altan's recent blog post on the quandaries of knowledge explosion. A very detailed breakdown of the various schools of knowledge is presented as they progress, ending with our current so called "digital age" and social learning. The discussion presented for thought is great, and makes me want to stop searching Google, and just staying on Blog Hub in our eci831 course!
I wish I could add more! So here's my quick review of Screencast-O-matic, a screen recording tool that is not new for me but is new for many of my students, who are creating tutorials for each unit we complete in Grade 11 Computer Science. The students are writing scripts, making story boards, creating examples to use in their tutorials, coding them, and putting it all together. They will also critique one of their peers' videos while in the editing stage so that the suggestions can be added to the video.
To cap it off, it seems like every parent will sign off on the waiver form, so we will be uploading the resulting videos to YouTube for public viewing. Here is a quick video review of Screencast-O-matic below:
If you didn't feel like watching the 2 minute video above (yikes, it's hard to compete with those 10 second tik tok videos) I'll quickly summarize:
I like Screencast-O-matic for a few reasons:
1) the watermark on the free version is not intrusive
2) it is super easy to use
3) you can record the screen and also the webcam at the same time
4) it's easy to select the screen area you'd like to record
5) You can upload directly to YouTube if you like to live on the edge or you can save the video for later editing
Really, how could we complain? It's a great, free, educational tool that empowers teachers and students. Using the built in video editor in Windows or Macs, you can really step it up to the next level.
I've started using it to record any demos I do in my computer science classes, this way my students (or perhaps other people out there on YouTubes) can use them whenever they need a refresher or need to learn something new.
What an amazing time we live in. I feel like I've been taking all our Ed Tech for granted the last few years, but really being in this class is helping me be amazed every day what just how much is possible today.
I'm going to link to an interesting post that features 92 EdTech tools. Can you envision using any of these in your own classrooms?
Till next time, stay curious, and have fun!
A special thank you to Kurt Campos, a student of mine who is clearly very talented, and created the logos for my blog at the top of every page!! Thanks Kurt :D
My name is Matteo Di Muro, the original Prairie Boy, and I've been teaching since I was 14. I currently teach mathematics and computer science in Brandon. I try to keep on learning things, and I'm getting onboard with sharing with others, hence this site!