Archive of ‘VicPLN’ category

Unit 7: The future of learning

I have had a fantastic time completing the VicPLN13 course. It has reminded me why I love teaching and learning with technology so much. It encourages creativity and collaboration amongst students and creates an exciting buzz in any classroom.

This course has encouraged me to write blog posts more often, reflecting on my teaching and learning on a regular basis. To share what I know and what I have learnt.

The highlight for me has been the large amount of Twitter and blog followers I have gained, my PLN has grown greatly and I love it!

Here is a short video I created using the free version of GoAnimate. I had some trouble embedding it, but I got there!

Check out my screencast on Strorybird! 

VicPLN by gallagher.jessica.s on GoAnimate

Unit 6: Learning here and now

I can still remember the day my Dad came home with our first family computer. It was in 1994 and I was in grade prep. It was pretty much only used to play games on, all on floppy disk of course. I can’t ever remember not having a computer in our classroom. In the earlier years of primary school we used it for publishing stories and as we got older we were able to use the Internet for various projects. As I moved into high school my understanding and use of Technology developed. We were taught how to touch type, create Excel spreadsheets and use search engines effectively. In year 11 (2006) I got my first social networking account, My Space. Prior to this I had only ever used MSN messenger. In 2008 I opened a Facebook account and a Twitter account followed in 2011. In University the Internet was used to gain an understanding of particular topics and units.

I would say that my progression with Technology has most greatly developed during my time as a teacher, over the past 2 years. I have learnt how Technology can support student learning, create stronger links between home and school and engage those usually disengaged students. In order to do this effectively I have had to learn how to use particular tools, such as Twitter, effectively. I have learnt how to troubleshoot issues that I would never have been able to fix myself in the past, things as simple as a Wi-Fi connection.

I think Technology is fantastic; it has a great power to keep us in touch and up to date with current affairs at the touch of a button. However I can also see it as being an incredibly dangerous tool. We do not only interact with one another via Technology, therefore it is imperative that we are able to apply daily etiquettes to online situations. For example most people don’t go around in day-to-day life abusing somebody over their opinions, so why should this be considered acceptable online? Simple, it shouldn’t.

We, as educators, are responsible for showing students how to interact with one another in real life. We teach them what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not. And I think it is just as important, as much our responsibility, to show them how to be a good citizen online. It might be a bit of extra work, and maybe a juggling act, but we need to help our students to be good citizens, online and offline. Students need to understand that their contribution is important, whether it is online or offline. They should be willing to share and discuss a (polite) opinion or idea whether it is in the classroom, at home or on Twitter.

My 5 characteristics of an effective learner were: Curious, creative, organised, collaborative and motivated. I believe technology can support all of these.

Technology has a way of bringing out curiosity in all students, particularly those that are disengaged. In my experience I have found that as soon as Technology is involved in learning those particular students become motivated and excited by what they need to complete.

Technology allows students to be creative in many different ways. They can publish stories, edit photographs and explore build things. They can also share this creativity with the world through sites such as Twitter and apps like Wattpad.

Organisation can be developed using Technology. Students can create bookmarks, folders and clouds to store information. One would hope that this organisation would rub off onto their everyday organisation skills, ultimately benefiting their learning.

Collaboration is a characteristic that is considered an imperative part of technology at Manor Lakes P-12 College. I believe that Technology develops skills associated with team work. Students can work together on a laptop or iPad with ease and then naturally these skills will flow over into their everyday skills.

Motivated is another one that links quite nicely to disengaged learners. They often become motivated to achieve, or complete tasks, once what they are doing appears to be ‘fun’. For example if a grade 6 student had the choice between publishing a narrative on a piece of poster paper or on a blog or a wiki for a global audience, I would say in most cases publishing their work on the blog or wiki would win over more students.

I think in the future Technology will continue to play an important role in learning and teaching. Teachers will adopt the idea of global classrooms, there will be less face to face time with students, digital portfolios will be used more and the collaborative skills of students will continue to grow.

Unit 5: Refine the web

I found this unit particularly interesting. I am of a generation where, for as long as I can remember, we have always been able to ‘Google it’.

I decided to use Google, Bing and InstaGrok to search for information on World War Two. I tried to use DuckDuckGo but my school has blocked the site.

Wikipedia was the first result that Google and Bing both presented. Google then followed with news articles associated with World War Two. Including apologies from Japan, a hero from Canberra and pardoned soldiers in Ireland. Bing did not present such articles in its search. Google then presents state and federal government websites, as well as websites from the BBC and ABC. Bing however, only shows a few government websites and then begins to show websites from random sources. This is all on page 1 of Google and Bing.

I found InstaGrok to be quite interesting. I absolutely loved how it presented the information in a mind map, fantastic for visual learners! It presented information on key topics associated with World War Two, such as Pearl Harbour, Adolf Hitler and Poland, however I am not convinced that this information can be completely trusted. It’s a lot like Wikipedia, anyone can add information to a topic. It could be useful, if cross checking and cross referencing skills were taught to students prior to using the search engine.

If I had to make a choice between the 3 search engines I would go with Google. It presents a range of trusted websites as well as news articles.

When searching for a reliable source on World War Two I only looked at government websites. I found the link for the Australian War Memorial and decided to read that. I believe it to be a reliable source for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Australian War Memorial is a non-for profit organisation dedicated to educating Australians about the history of war. Secondly, at the bottom of the webpage there was a list of primary and secondary sources that were used to put the webpage together. Finally, the site only gives facts, not opinions.

In regards to tagging… I have always tagged my blog posts, as well as placed them into categories. I love to be organised and using tags and categories is just another way I can do this. I suppose this came to me very easily, as I use tags on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, apps that I use every day. When tagging my posts I try and limit my tags to a maximum of 10 and think about what I would get from the post if it weren’t my own when selecting these tags.

Unit 4: Evaluate an online tool

For unit 4 I decided to explore Storybird, a storytelling website that allows users to create their own stories using a range of themes and illustrations provided by the website.

Storybird does require a login. Firstly it asks you to select which account you would like to use, regular, teacher/ class or kid/ under 13. For a regular account you need to provide your email, gender and age. For a teacher/ class account you only need to provide an email and for a kid/ under 13 account a parents’ email is required plus the age of the child. All accounts are free.

The Terms of Service is quite lengthy, which can be a problem for users. Many users will not want to spend a large amount of time reading through the entire document and therefore may miss some important information in relation to their use of the website. However the Terms of Service of Storybird are quite basic and straightforward and the language used is simplistic. It explains that the user is responsible for their account, including confidentiality, keeping their password secure and not using the website for any illegal and unauthorised purposes etc. It also explains their intellectual property rights and the use of third parties.

I think this website is a fantastic website for learning! My students would absolutely love creating digital stories using illustrations created by ‘real’ artists. I would love to get my students publishing some of their stories from their Writers Notebook using this website. I would then add the link to our class blog so students are able to view these stories.  However I don’t see Storybird being very useful for anything other than digital storytelling.

The use of Storybird would enhance what my students are already doing. They are used to using apps such as Eye Witness and TourWrist to inspire their writing, Storybird being of a similar nature. I believe that Storybird fits into Augmentation of the SAMR model. Students are moving from creating simple stories to having to use higher order thinking when matching images that are not theirs to their own writing. Students also have the ability to then publish their work on a global scale and comment on the work of other users of the website.

I was able to create a digital story using Storybird with ease. There was a range of art and colours available and I was able to type my story into the template. There was also an option to upgrade to ‘Premium’, which would unlock more colours, themes and art. I published my story and I was able to add a blurb and tags as well as choose whether I wanted my story to be private or public. I selected public and I am now awaiting moderation by the Storybird library. Hopefully you can find the story here…

Unit 3: Networking

In 2013 social networking plays an important role in education, for both students and teachers. Tools such as Twitter and Facebook allow us to connect with educators from all over the world and provide our students with amazing learning experiences.

In my classroom we have a class Twitter account (@3JessMLP12C) that we use to share our learning experiences with the world everyday. We write our posts during the day as we are learning and publish them using my iPad.  My iPad is connected to the Apple TV, so students are able to see any replies we get from parents, or the wider community, throughout the day. It is easy to see the excitement and achievement my students feel when somebody replies to one of our posts, they are very proud of what they are doing in class and what they have published.

I have also had a personal twitter account (@jessygallagher) for almost two years now. I use it both personally and professionally. I have connected with many educators from all over the world, including the US and New Zealand. It’s great to be able to put a question or idea out into the Twittershpere and get so many replies and responses from a variety of different people.

I have had a Facebook account since 2008. It is a fantastic tool to use to connect with people. I have many family members who live interstate so it is great to be able to stay in touch and keep up with their lives so easily. I also spent several weeks in Europe over Christmas and was able to keep in touch with my parents and sister back in Australia nice and easily via Facebook.

I prefer to use Twitter professionally, and Facebook personally. Although in recent months I have liked a few educational pages on Facebook. At my school Twitter is accessible, but Facebook is not.

Unit 2: Bringing it all together

I like to use note taking apps such as Popplet, Corkulous and Lino to take notes on my iPad during PD and PLT.  I then either email the link to myself or take a screen shot and save it  Drop Box to ensure I have it ‘backed up’ and am able to access the information at anytime and on any device. I always use the same email for anything I sign up to online and attempt to use the same username (depending on whether it is available or not) and password. I keep track of these on my iPad and upload the document to Dropbox for safekeeping. In regards to bookmarks, I have only ever saved these to my browser, on both my iPad and AppleMac. But I have always organised them into folders so I am able to easily find what I am looking for. I usually share any resources or ideas with colleagues via email, or a shared Dropbox folder.

One challenge I have been trying to overcome in recent months is my desire to takes notes with pen and paper. I really like to take my classroom anecdotal notes in this format and have been investigating alternatives for this through discussions with colleagues. However I really do like the idea of using Evernote to take these anecdotal notes and I plan on running a trial in Reading sessions during the first few weeks of term 2.

I think that the teaching of workflow and organisation is extremely important for students. Many people (students and adults) struggle with these concepts in everyday life and when technology is added to the mix it can be almost overwhelming. Something I have never done, regretfully, is explicitly teach students technology based organisational skills. Many of my students in my 1:1 iPad classrooms did place  their apps in folders named ‘literacy’ or ‘numeracy’ etc. on their iPads, but only one or two were using apps such as Diigo. If teachers were to introduce and explicitly teach students how to use apps such as Evernote and Diigo I think it would significantly change the outcomes of student learning in an extremely positive way. There would be less stress over finding where something is saved and more focus placed on the quality of work being produced.

Digital technologies and internet access have changed our lives in such a way that it is imperative we begin to organise our digital selves. As an educator I use digital technologies and access the internet everyday and for many different reasons. If I do not take the time to use apps such as Evernote and Diigo and to organise my browser I am not doing myself any favours or making my workload any lighter.

Check out my first shared Evernote by clicking on the image below!


Unit 1: Getting started

My name is Jess Gallagher and I am a second year graduate at Manor Lakes P-12 College in Wyndham Vale, Victoria. In 2012 I worked in a Grade 6 1:1 iPad program and this year I am with a grade 3 class integrating technology into our learning in anyway I can. This technology includes 8 MacBooks, an Apple TV, a class blog and class twitter.

I am an avid user of web 2.0. Over the past 2 years I have developed and contributed to class websites to support student learning and integrated social media (eg. Twitter) to share my own and my students educational successes and challenges. I have integrated cloud technology (eg. Dropbox) to share work with my students and give them a space to save their work.

I have worked closely with a number of educators who are extremely passionate about the integration of technology into learning, and this has quickly rubbed off on me.

In 2012 I attended uLearn in Auckland, New Zealand and co-presented on the 1:1 iPad program at Manor Lakes P-12 College. This was a fantastic opportunity as I was not only able to meet many wonderful educators from all over the world, but I was also able to take that next step in my professional journey. Throughout the course of the year I also attended other PDs such as ICTEV. Working at a college that is highly recognised for its effective integration of technology I have also had the opportunity to showcase the way my students use ICT as well as discuss my philosophies and practice with the many visitors that come through. Later this year I plan to attend a Victorian TeachMeet in order to meet people I am connected with on Twitter.

I’m currently preparing with my co-presenter our next presentation for this years ICTEV conference. Based upon our proposal we have been asked to prepare an article on learning and teaching with mobile devices.

The reason I decided to become involved with the Victorian PLN is to expand my current local, interstate and international connections.