Little Bird Tales – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly…JK, it’s pretty great!

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Hello ECI834’ers,

I love the opportunity to explore new resources as I never seem to have the time to try them out unprompted!  I chose to look at the site, Little Bird Tales as I had never heard of it and it looked like it might be suitable for primary age students…which is right up my alley! 🙂  I am always looking for new ways to have my students share their knowledge and try exciting tools in the classroom so I was looking forward to trying this out!   baby book story reading GIFRead on if you’re interested in learning more…                                                                gif source

First,  there was something that stood out in the reading of Bates’ text this week that gave me a different perspective in reviewing this program – in section 7.1, “Thinking about the pedagogical differences of media” it pointed out that there are, “five critical questions that need to be asked about teaching and learning in order to select and use appropriate media/technologies” they are,

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

frustrated emperors new groove GIFI cannot stress this idea enough –

DO NOT USE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE SAKE OF TECHNOLOGY! UGH!

Thanks giphy.

 

Although technology can often enhance a child’s learning experience, if consideration is not given to why we are using the device or program I don’t think it should be used.  Image result for SAMRIn the SAMR model it shows how shallow substitution can be for our kids.  If we can’t use technology to allow students to explore and extend their knowledge, get to the transformation stage, it might not be as worth it as some people think.  As it says in the reading, you MUST consider the learning outcome you are trying to accomplish and match the resource to that – consider before you begin what teaching methods you are wishing to use and how each will impact the next.  Are you doing a blended approach?  Strictly online?  Leaving technology out completely?  These questions need to be addressed before you begin so that a deep understanding of the how the technology will/could be used to benefit the learning outcome can be achieved.  Finally, there is a definite need, in particular in this economic climate, to ensure that you are planning lessons around what resources are available – realistically to you in your school or classroom.  Pick something that will enhance and transform your students learning experience but be available in a useful way to your kids…don’t plan a lesson on Little Bird Tales with the intention of having everyone designing at once when you have 2 computers and a tiny space to work in where they can’t raise their voice to speak into the microphone.  Lots to consider!  If I still have your attention, check out what I think about incorporating Little Bird Tales into my classroom – spoiler alert – I think it will be a must try in my classroom!

LITTLE BIRD TALES

Little Bird Tales is an online platform where students can go to record, write and illustrate an online book!  It allows primary students to take part in story writing whether they can print or not on account of the fact that they can either type text or simply add photos and record their speech!  It is also a site that teachers can access for free cross-curricular lesson plans as well as a gallery of student created books on many topics that can be used for information or examples for their class. Little Bird Tales is a free site for teachers and students although there is a premium teacher membership for $24.99 annually which gets you extra features and capabilities as well as a paid parent platform for content transfer at the end of the school year. I only tried the free version and was really impressed with options and functionality for kids of all ages and abilities.

What I loved Image result for heart:

  • Logging in is easy for kids as they have a classroom code – for kiddos of the age I teach having easy access is crucial! 🙂  It’s the small things.
  • There were lots of things I loved about this website. The first one is the cross-curricular lesson plans that are offered to teachers on the site. You can search any topic and lesson ideas pop using the program to have kids participate!  Plus you can assign these lessons to your students so they come up when they login!  Most of these features are only available with the paid program but I still like the idea.
  • There is a section called “Public Tales” that you can search through by topic! The coolest part is that these are all videos kids have done so they can see what their stories might look like!
  • I love the easy to use layout – you can upload or draw a cover or book art and everything is clean and easy to navigate.  I appreciate easy to use sites as I often don’t have the time to read through pages and pages of directions to work with a program that might not be an everyday user.
  • Finally, the last thing I would like to highlight in the love department, is that you can share the tale with someone through email!  This is a wonderful feature if you would like your kids to email you their assignment, or they could email it to a friend or family member.  Because my little ones are quite young, I am not sure I would have them emailing anything out, but I would be happy to send it for them, or post anything available to our classroom Facebook page.  There are embed codes with each video for easy uploads and the opportunity to purchase the MP4 for an easy share.

Didn’t like Image result for thumbs down:

  • Although this was in the love department, I wasn’t crazy that you have to purchase the story, even if it’s only .99, if you want an MP4 version that can be played on any device.  I  don’t really see the point of offering this because under most circumstances I would think teachers would be fine with the other free options…however, downloads are free with the premium account.
  • The push to purchase the premium account is real!  There are SO many extra features on the premium account – not that I don’t understand having to pay for higher functions on programs but there is an insane divide on this site.  Honestly, in some respects, it’s almost so much so that you can’t properly try the functions of the program as is.
  • Another thing I noticed when trying to record is that it is a little quiet.  Even with my computer volume and the program volume turned all the way up.  When working with young kids, I am sure there would be some struggle getting kids to speak loudly enough to be heard.  It is also quiet on the playback.
  • Again, this also cropped up as a positive – but the lesson plans in some areas are very vague and harder to navigate.  I’m not certain what functionality is available on the paid site, but there are definitely issues with the free lessons as some are sparse and incomplete feeling.

Winning GIFGif Source

Overall, I like this site!  It certainly has its issues but I think it’s basic functions are really cool and will be wonderful addition to my classroom!  Many of my students this year have needs that prevent them from reading and writing in a typical way and this will be a way they can feel successful and be able to create the same way as other kids.  I am looking forward to trying Little Bird Tales next week and exploring more of its functions.

Thanks for reading,

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

 

 

 

 

 

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Mad Scientists in Training: The Joe and Dani Story

Hello ECI834er’s and beyond,

My classmate turned friend (but still classmate)  Joe and I have decided to join forces and create our Blended Learning Unit together!  We have chosen to tackle both teaching a slightly needy grade 2/3 class to use Google Classroom and then complete their Solids and Liquids Unit using the blended learning approach!  Crazy???  Maybe.  But we’re excited to give it a go!  Interested in following along on this journey?  Here’s the beginning – the skeleton of what will eventually be our unit!  Just click below…you know you want to.

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                                              CHECK IT OUT HERE!!!

 

Thanks for checking it out,

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

You didn’t have a home computer until when???

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Hello ECI 834’ers!

I know the title of my blog will only seem relevant to some people in this class because maybe my story will seem like I’ve had this technology forever – but I have had many conversations with the more senior students at my school and they cannot fathom that I didn’t have a home computer until later high school and that my internet was connected to my phone line – which we had one of, so I couldn’t be on it for more than a couple minutes at a time.  Or, that I didn’t get a cell phone until grade 12 and it was for “emergencies only” because it was connected to a phone card and I didn’t have data.  best gif wow GIFIt absolutely blows their minds…HOW DID I SURVIVE?!?  I didn’t integrate technology into my “regular” life until years, and years after most kids now because it wasn’t available.  Now, as a professional in this day and age, I feel like I am constantly

Image source     looking for ways to integrate technology because my kiddos learn better and appear to absorb more when I find a video, search an internet site or offer a game to review instead of the regular pen and paper approach…which I still think is important too by the way! 😉  They love being hands on with the computers or ipads and it is second nature to have the world in the palms of their hands.

I teach grade 2/3 so the way I integrate technology and blend learning is different than in ways I have had my learning blended in my University life, but I strive, on account of my own education to put technology to good, meaningful use.  In the reading from this week,  Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they give us the following definition of blended learning which I feel like applies to my classroom in many ways,

  • technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
  • the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
  • the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms

Throughout my classroom experience I utilize many ways to allow technology to enhance my teaching and the learning experience of my students.  I use programs such as Brainpop Jr., Plikers, Youtube, and Facebook to ensure my students are getting the most out of their day in a way that is relevant to them.  I love Brainpop Jr. for their simple explanations, videos and for the quizzes they provide both for print and online.  I use Pliker’s as an awesome way to review material or retell using technology – the kids love the hands on way to answer questions and they like to see if their answers are correct in almost real time.  I love the life that Youtube videos or demonstrations filmed and put on Youtube bring to my classroom!  The kids love being able to take in information in such a visual way and there is SO much content at the tips of your fingers.  Finally, for the past 5 years in my classroom I have been utilizing Facebook as a tool to share my day with families and strengthen the home/school connection.  My kids have also done “facebook takeovers” where they are in charge of the pictures and content for the day, making them responsible and more literate members of the online world.  These, in my opinion, are all ways of using the blending learning route without offering full online content.

The challenges I faced have mostly had to do with the fact that parents are still trying to wrap their heads around technology being used in the classroom as a learning tool.  There are parents that feel very strongly that screen time is screen time and that it needs to be limited if we want our children to be learning in school – I don’t agree with this as I feel like, if screen time is used to enhance and enrich learning with proper supervision, it is setting students up for success in the new world in which they are growing up in.  Being digitally literate is SO important and it is our responsibility, in conjunction with familiDigital Literacy modeles to ensure our children and students are being equipped with the knowledge to make good choices online.  Located on the media smarts site I have linked above, this graphic outlines the importance of educating our children in many facets of the online world and I think you need these foundations built before a fully blended learning environment can be its most effective.  I suppose I would want to direct families to sites like Media Smarts so they can have a better understanding of why this “screen time” isn’t just “for the sake of having the computers out” and that there are reasons and goals during blended learning time just like any other subject.  Blending learning is just a framework to support the learning in every subject at school!

Figure 10.1.2 The continuum of technology-based teachingI loved the graphic to the right as I think it really puts into check the difference between the 3 styles of learning that are featured in the reading.  I think, as we have spoken about in many classes with Alec before, there is no point in ignoring technology as it’s not going anywhere so we midaswell teach kids how to not only be safe and healthy online, but how to use the resources to benefit them.  I truly believe that the blended approach in this day and age is the way to go to reach as many learners as we can both in the moment as well as to be able to set them up for success as they venture out into the world.  We need to be realistic about the kids we work with and the world in which they will be growing up.  Keeping them away from the technology in school in my opinion, is just as dangerous as letting them use it – with training and supervision of course!

Image sourceImage result for thinking emoji So what about my own learning experience???

As far as my own blended learning – I feel like it has completely changed my mindset and opened my eyes to so many resources that I have actually used in my classroom.  Many are mentioned above! 🙂  I have been thankful for the set up of my blended learning experience, I don’t know if I would like the idea of “fully online learning” but appreciate the mix of an online learning experience mixed with the opportunity for “face-to-face” contact.  I have to admit, much like my friend and classmate Joe, I had a more skeptical approach to anything online before Alec’s classes as I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had, had a bad experience in an online class where I was left feeling abandoned and stressed, potentially to much of a swing right in the continuum for me?  In Alec’s blended learning environment I felt I wasn’t alone and that my classmates were creating an environment that felt homey, supportive, creative and safe.  I want to make sure that I leave my own students feeling more like the latter!

I loved this chart that I stumbled across on Nataly’s blog post this week that does a nice job summarizing the issues with blended learning.  Although I have had a mostly positive experience, there are many downfalls that need to be addressed before blended learning can be considered a viable option for education for all.  I think we need to be extremely mindful of what we were asking from our students until we can establish that they have access to all of the tools they need to be success in a blended learning environment.  I am not talking about drive, motivation, etc. but the literal technology and physical accessibility to make the potential for learning possible.

Overall, I am huge proponent of blended learning both in my professional career and my career as a student!  I love the flexibility, differentiation, and creativity it has awarded me throughout my schooling.  I am looking forward to offering these experiences to others as I continue my career as a teacher.

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

 

 

 

I don’t know what you heard about me…

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Hello ECI 834’ers and welcome to my blog!

First, thanks for coming to check out my blog – I am excited to get back on here after taking 1 semester off to study curriculum development relating to Indigenous education.  Below is the 5 W’s of me, hopefully it will give you enough of an insight into what I am and what I want to get out of this course. 🙂

W ho:  Danielle Hackel (Dani).

W hat: I am a 31 year old wife and animal Mum!  I am a grade 2/3 teacher, a small business owner and a life long learner.

W hen:  I have been teaching for 9 years and am on my 5th Master’s class towards my curriculum and instruction program.

W here:  I was born in Saskatoon and moved to Regina when I was 6.  I currently live and work about 5 minutes from where I grew up, went to elementary school and then to high school.  Geographically I have gone no where. 😛  I suppose the good ol’ saying, “There’s no place like home” has never rang truer.the wizard of oz home GIF  Thanks Giphy!

W hy: So, Alec asked us to set 3 learning goals for this blog and I think that’s the ultimate why.  1.  I want to be able to continue to build and develop my PLN through online course development and research.  I don’t think a teacher would last in this profession without building support systems.  2. To learn the tools I need to actually develop a curriculum as one day I am hoping to move out of the classroom and into some kind of other position with my division.  I think the skills that blended learning allows,  gives us a giant step in the right direction.  Technology and online learning is the way of the future and these skills will keep us at the forefront.  3.  I would like to stay ahead of the impending issues that will arise while using online platforms.  I am interested in exploring issues in technology and online learning because I want to always have an educated answer to problems and also be able to see both sides of the coin.  I know there are issues and I know that I won’t ever grow fully if I don’t learn to come up with solutions for the tough problems.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, check here!  If you’re interested in any of my other posts, just click here!

Thanks for stopping by!

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind, without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

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