COETAIL Project Reflection Part III

First, before I begin the third and final reflection of my final project for COETAIL, let me provide you with links to my first and second reflections, and with links to the UbD planner and assessment rubric for my project.

Enduring Understanding
I won’t repeat here the enduring understandings for the unit, so if you would like to read them, please go to the UbD planner.

Do I feel progress was made towards these enduring understandings? Yes. Because every student experienced planning and delivering a lesson. They experienced the difficulties that sometimes arise when teaching something, in conjunction with, the rewarding nature of teaching. They experienced that teaching reaffirms one’s own understanding. They experienced what can make a good lesson: clear delivery, engaging content, occasional humour and so on.


Again, I won’t repeat here the NETS that I assessed in this unit, instead I will just provide a link to the assessment rubric.

To publish the video tutorials, the teams employed a variety of digital environments. ShowMe, Vimeo and WordPress are digital environments that each team used in the publishing of their video. So, in terms of publishing, the first standard (NETS 2A) was done quite well. However, the standard also specifies that students use a digital environment or digital environments to collaborate, and as far as I know, this wasn’t done by any of the teams.

The second NETS that I assessed (NETS 2B), was a tough one to measure but I think was done quite well by all of the teams. Was the information effectively communicated in each of the video tutorials? Yes. Was it effectively communicated to multiple audiences? Yes. All audiences of these video tutorials have the ability to pause, replay and skip.

Student Feedback
Student feedback was largely positive. A group of students enjoyed the unit because it gave them the chance to revise material in a different way (compared to traditional methods.) This same group commented that the unit enabled them to reaffirm the concepts they had learnt earlier in the year.

One student thought the unit made no impact on their understanding. Another group of students thought the unit had little impact on their understanding as they chose the topic that they were most familiar with. Should I suggest to students next time that they choose a topic that is somewhat challenging to them? That’s something I will have to think about.

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COETAIL Project Reflection Part II

The Positives
Deeper learning. I’m not referring to Wiggins and McTighe’s Six Facets of Understanding when I say this, I’m simply saying that deeper learning in the students happened as a result of this project. How do I know this? Because I observed it.

In one particular case, a student was teaching how to prime factorise a given number using the tree method. He was near the end of the procedure when, instead of multiplying all of the end nodes (i.e. prime numbers) together to show this equals the top node (i.e the given number), he incorrectly adds together all of the end nodes. As you can presume, it didn’t work out – the end nodes when added together didn’t equal the given number. It was a “aha!” moment for the student.

Maybe I’m using the wrong term. Maybe I should be saying “aha!” moments instead of deeper learning. Anyway, making video tutorials elicit “aha!” moments in students. (This idea could be what I base my thesis around. Or perhaps simply the effects of video tutorial making on student learning.)

Engaged students. This was another positive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen students as “into” math as I did during this project. The following tweet fairly accurately sums up the student interest level through out the project.

The Negatives
The “tail” of the project was to centralise the videos, now that they had been recorded. I suppose it could be argued that the videos were already centralised as they were all up on ShowMe, but I wanted them more centralised – I wanted to create our own Khan Academy (or, at the very least, the beginnings of.) We centralised the videos by creating a blog (which we named tinytutes) and embedded the videos there. The negative is that WordPress and ShowMe don’t play together nicely. ShowMe embed codes simply don’t work in WordPress. The workaround was to manually download the videos from ShowMe and then upload them to WordPress. This works but takes much more time than copying and pasting an embed code. The other downside is that all WordPress blogs come with limited storage – tinytutes is a free WordPress blog and therefore it came with 3 GB of storage. At some point in the future, as more videos are added to the blog, we’re going to need to upgrade to the 10 GB account or hope that WordPress and ShowMe settle their differences.

There may still be a Part III to this reflection. I’m not sure yet.

Image Credits:

  • Untitled by me

COETAIL Project Reflection

Last week was Khan Academy-style Video Making Week in my two grade 7 math classes (otherwise known as KAVMW. j/k) The students were given two 55 minute periods to make a video that teaches a concept/skill that they have learnt this year in math class. The video was to be no longer than three minutes in duration and was to be of a similar style to the videos up on Khan Academy. (In fact, the latter was really a non-requirement as the app we used, ShowMe, only makes videos in a Khan Academy-style.)

Here’s the link to the UbD planner and assessment rubric for this unit. (They’re not quite finished yet.)

One of the big questions I need to ask myself is, in this unit, does the use of technology reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model? That is, in this unit, does the use of technology allow for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable?

In my last post, SAMR Model Revisited, I discussed two fairly straightforward uses of technology that reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model: using technology to enable collaboration and publishing media to social media sites. In this unit, students are publishing their videos to the social media site, ShowMe. There, the videos have a real audience, potentially in the thousands. So, yes, the use of technology in this unit does reach the redefinition level.

It’s worth pointing out here that a use of technology that scores redefinition level today may not and probably will not score redefinition level in a few years time. All uses of technology slowly slide down the SAMR Model.

Stay tuned for part two of this reflection.

Image Credits:

  • Untitled by me

Course Reflection

Final Project
Next academic year, I’m intending to do a number of flipped classroom lessons and Dan Meyer-esque lessons with my two grade 7 math classes. Considering flipped classroom lessons require videos and Dan Meyer-esque lessons require “visuals” (as he calls it), I decided to make a blog, for my final project, that would house all this media… and add to it a couple of posts.

Before I forget, here is the link to the grade 7 math blog. Please note that most of the posts on the blog are works in progress.

Dan Meyer-esque Lessons

Dan Meyer brilliantly observed that math textbooks, or rather the chapters in math textbooks, are laid out in the wrong order. The order is this:

  1. Structure
  2. Visual
  3. Question

He thought the order should be more like this:

  1. Visual
  2. Question
  3. Structure

So what I’ve done is created a number of posts which deal with the 1 and 2 of Dan’s order. It is my intention to introduce the structure when, and only when, the students understand what it is the visual is communicating and what it is the question is asking.

One Step Further
I’m thinking of taking Dan’s order one step further and letting students create their own visuals… and even their own questions.

If you go to the blog and, in particular, take a look at the posts dealing with bearings, you’ll see a couple of maps I’ve created followed by a question. Why not let the students do this?

The Adjusted Order

  1. Visual (by student)
  2. Question (by student)
  3. Structure

Looking Back on Course 3

The Workshop with Andrew Churches and Kim Cofino
One of the big things that I left this workshop with was the project plan (and assessment rubric) that my group wrote up and the subsequent project that we implemented.

My team was made up of three science teachers, one mathematics teacher and me, an IT teacher. Two of the science teachers taught chemistry and the other taught biology. Anyway, as you might expect, our project was chemistry-related.

I just want to insert here that I’ve never studied chemistry before.

After we were all given the green light to begin our projects, one of the chemistry teachers threw out (onto the table) chemical bonding as a possible topic on top of which we could base our project. I had never heard of chemical bonding before in my life.

After a couple of laughs and a bit of discussion, it was decided: chemical bonding was to be the topic.

I’m going to stop here on this thread. But, before I do, I just want to mention that the project plan, in its current form, really isn’t of much use to me and my students, as we study technology. So, when I get the time, I think I’m going to spawn a new version of the plan. In this new version, the topic being dealt with will be computer networks; specifically, the different types of topologies (and maybe protocols.)

I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post the project plan that we came up with.

More Reflection
I’ve been introduced to a variety of social media in Course 3 that I’ve never encountered before. Digital stories and infographics are two of these. Both are powerful ideas. (To read about how I plan on integrating digital stories and inforgraphics into the classroom, please refer to my posts below.)

Course 3 also introduced me to the idea of visual literacy for the very first time. Wow. What an incredibly important ability (is that the right word?) visual literacy is.

As a result of all the visual literacy reading we had to do, I’ve changed the way I blog. I’ve changed the way I take pictures. I’ve changed the way I make presentations. I’ve also changed my mind on what I regard as a beautiful blog, what I regard as a beautiful presentation and so on.

Bring on Course 4!

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Reflections on Course Two


Course 2 for me was more challenging than Course 1. A number of issues and topics were introduced during the course that I hadn’t encountered before. Two that spring to mind are copyright law and branding. I found the readings, videos and blog posts on copyright to be quite interesting. Without really noticing it, I wrote a blog post in the second or third week that kind of went on the offensive against remixes. I didn’t really intend on doing this – I was just going along with my own thought processes. As for branding, I’m still not sold. I see its advantages but I don’t see how it makes me a better teacher. Maybe in Course 3, I’ll see how some of my colleagues are developing their brands and I’ll change my mind but until then I’m going to hit pause on branding.

My project for Course 2 was a unit plan that continues on from the unit plan I made in Course 1. Like the original, this unit employs blogs as the vehicle for student expression. This time, however, students are required to blog about copyright and Creative Commons. I’ve embedded the unit plan below.

Happy holiday season everyone!

Image Credits:

Reflections by epicnom. Found on Flickr. Creative Commons Licensed.