Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Beginning of a New Era

A month has past, already!

The Chris Akkerman Learning Commons is underway and we've had a great start!

It has been a amazing moving into a new school and starting something new. My day to day work hasn't changed but the people have. All of a sudden, I have to build new relationships and learn new ways of doing things. I have stop and rethink what the important aspects in a learning commons actually are. I have to make sure we have our priorities in the right place and that all stake holders have input into what will be.

Moving into an alternative program called a Traditional Learning Centre (TLC) was always going to be an exciting challenge for me. The first month has proven that this is going be an extremely exciting year. The teachers and students at Chris Akkerman are so focused on learning. It will be amazing to really focus in on what is good learning.

Chris Akkerman has obviously had strong leadership in technology prior to me being there. The teachers and students are quite comfortable with technology as a learning tool. It will be a great opportunity to help everyone build on what they know now and push the boundaries of learning in positive and exciting ways.

The highlight for our learning commons, in the first month, has been around the implementation of the Google Apps For Education (GAFE). What an amazing medium for learning. The power of collaboration is exciting our entire school. Our grades 3-6 classes are buzzing in excitement and are all beginning to wonder what the possibilities of these amazing tools will be.

This past week, we focused in on what it means to work safely on the Internet. All students in our school worked through some tasks which reviewed Internet safety. We followed up these tasks by brainstorming what they knew, as well as new found knowledge, into a shared Google Doc. The idea was to build on what each other's ideas. It was amazing to watch the ideas develop over a few minutes! The video below shows the information being gathered over around a 5 minute period. It has been blurred to protect our students ID.

Over the next month, we plan to continue setting up this learning space to make it work best in our TLC environment. We are also experimenting and using Green Screen technology in Grades 4 and 5, as well as iPads in Kindergarten and Grade 1. We hope to share those projects in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Exergaming - KWL - Reflection 1

Exergaming: Reflection 1

Sixteen grade 6 kids successfully collaborated on the same KWL document through Google Docs. A student’s insight is valuable, but when you can fuse small-group safety with large-group collaboration something magical happens... Everyone’s ideas are heard, recorded and compounded by peers. 

The students formed 3 groups, each logged on to a computer and followed a link provided. They made teams, talked about exergaming, and let ideas flow. Students were told that there is no such thing as “cheating” during brainstorming, which elevated the discussion as individual’s ideas became seeds, furthered by peers in different groups. 

Students were set as scribes to manage how many people were typing, but there were times when 2 or 3 kids from each group were typing at the same time. This was a very successful KWL experience. The finished document is below, a time-lapse video is on it's way- I'm being blocked from uploading it to Youtube, but check it out here:

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech

Mountain Lion 10.8.3 is our image, and we've discovered a crisp, simple aide for our students with Learning Disabilities. It turns out that SIRI is embedded into the OS on our new computers, it just needs to be activated.

When it is turned on students tap a designated shortcut key and talk at regular speed into their microphone. When they're finished words quickly appear on the screen. 

When Text-to-Speech is turned on, students can have anything on their computers read aloud to them. Although these tools are not a panacea, they certainly help to level the playing field!

To get going on both, head to your computer's settings and click around!