Being Engaging

So, this one was a toughie for me.

I am, on a personal level, scaling back on my social media activities. I have deleted Snapchat and Facebook from my phone and the only social media I consume with any regularity is Instagram. Imagine my consternation when I had to find ways to be more engaging in an effort to build my PLN. I do appreciate the why though, and so I tried to approach it with an open mind.

Enter Facebook. I began by joining a couple of different teacher groups here in Qatar. It quickly became clear that the groups were not necessarily about sharing ideas, but rather as a means for teachers to find jobs in Qatar. I remember thinking this is going to be harder than I thought.

I then remembered that I had a Twitter handle, and thought perhaps that would be a good way to engage with other teachers, and build my PLN. Twitter was also a casualty during my spate of cleaning up my phone. So re-download I did. I must admit to finding Twitter quite daunting. I quickly realized that many of my friends and former colleagues were quite active on Twitter, and maybe they would be a good place to start! So I began by liking and commenting on some of their tweets. 

I was also fortunate enough to attend a weekend workshop with Kath Murdoch. Ms. Murdoch is active on Twitter and one of the things she suggested was to tweet out during the workshop anything we found interesting. So of course I didn’t waste that opportunity to build my PLN!

Another opportunity to engage my PLN came when I was trying to find ways to show my students how climate change is affecting different parts of the world. What better way than to put my PLN to good use! I created a Padlet and Tweeted about it. I had a few teachers respond and our Padlet managed to get some responses from Singapore and Tanzania! (Thank you Diana for the awesome idea!)

There exists on Twitter, a whole community of like minded teachers who are pushing themselves and their students to become more globally minded. I have even seen some of my friends participate in Twitter chats where they engage with other teachers in their region. I am glad that I have resumed using Twitter because it is has opened me up to more opportunities to engage with other like minded teachers beyond the four walls of my school!

Progress Report

We are almost at the end of this final project and my students have been working hard on making their videos for their second unit Sharing the Planet. Indeed, we are editing the videos and polishing them up. Nearing the end of the unit, we began thinking of ideas we wanted to share in our videos. My students began by making mind maps and putting their ideas on paper. This was an important step because it taught them that they had to really focus on what message they wanted to send through their videos. There were a few moments when I had to stop and recalibrate. Our initial idea was to produce 5 different videos on each biome. However, it became clear early on that it would be better if I mixed up my groups to allow for some differentiation and also because I needed to have some stronger students take the lead. This lead us to create two videos with each of my students taking part in the process at different stages.

I am also trying very hard to give them the freedom to be creative and make some mistakes. I would like to be able to look back at the videos and reflect on them as a class. My hope is that we can make more videos and use our reflections to improve on them.

Stay tuned.

Being Flexible

So our motto at school this year is “be flexible”. You see, after a long wait (years!) we have finally moved into our new purpose built school. Well, wait, we have all crammed ourselves into HALF the school while the other half is still being “finished”. This is Qatar after all, and we learn to roll with it.

In any case, to say I have had a rough start to this school year would be an understatement. Our tech integration person has been seconded to another section, leaving us in PYP kind of stranded. This meant that we have had little to no support in terms of technology and indeed we are still waiting for our full complement of iPads. Insert *banging head on wall* right here.

OK, I promise I am done complaining, but man did it feel good to type it all out.

In my 3rd grade classroom, our current unit of study is Sharing the Planet. We are specifically looking at the effects of human choices on different biomes. One of the things that I have taken to heart in my COETAIL journey so far is to help my students become creators of content and not just consumers. To that end, as a class we have decided to make a video showing the effects of pollution and climate change on the biomes that they are each studying about. One of our schools initiatives each spring is a Waste Free Picnic. My students are hoping to show the videos to the whole school as we launch the Waste Free Picnic as part of their Taking Action initiative.

Just as we use a process for writing, we will use storyboarding to help with planning for our videos. This will help my students synthesize their ideas and also collate visuals to include in their videos. We plan on using Adobe Sparkvideo in order to create our videos.

As much as the video itself is important, I also want to emphasize the planning process with my students. We will use graphic organizers to map out our research and also to collect information, which will then help us to create the content needed for our videos.