Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Reflection on: Redefine the Elementary Classroom with GAFE

The Shoe Is On The Other Foot
(Reflecting on how I use tech in my grade two class.)

Holly Clark's session, Redefine the Elementary Classroom with GAFE, at The second annual EdTechTeam Alberta Summit featuring Google for Education left me more frustrated than inspired at first. She had great ideas but I found myself thinking "who seriously has the time to be able to do all that?" which is what I often here when I speak to colleagues about what I do using GAFE in the elementary classroom. This disconnect within my own attitude agitated me. Why?

I think it is because I consider myself a fairly motivated person when it comes to the integration of educational technology and differentiation, yet the possibility of achieving much of what she shared feels somewhat out of my control and/or overwhelming:
  1. access to adequate technology (and here I include bandwidth)
  2. time to effectively redesign what we teach in our classroom
  3. time to learn the technology/programs
I also think that when it comes to technology integration, many of my technology peers are on the same page as I am, so my PLN is a bit of an echo chamber. 

Looking back on her slides from her presentation, I can contemplate, with less agitation, on her message and suggestions. And so, I reflect.

Tomorrow's Literate Person

One of the things she discussed was the difference in what a literate person will need in the future. "If they can do the worksheet, they don't need it. If they can't, it won't help them." She used a Marc Pensky's example to illustrate this (see the image on the right). I would argue that this already almost outdated and we need a fourth column ... What is coming next? And that's the challenge in education at the moment isn't it? It's hard to predict what tomorrow's literate person will need because technology is changing so rapidly. The bigger issue is that so much of our instruction is still in the first column. She challenged us to think like Wayne Gretzky as teachers, we need to teach to the future.  

I Am Tomorrow's Literate Person... Sort Of

So why do I think this is already outdated? Because I already am tomorrow's literate person... well, almost.  

  1. Okay, so I do not work in a virtual community but I do collaborate in a virtual community and the majority of  my PLN is on Google+ and Twitter. 
  2. I make videos for my classroom. While my kids think it's "cool" that I make videos, none have gone viral. 
  3. I have not yet written a program, but I have thought about making my own classroom games a number of times.   :-)

Sam's Arm? SAMR!

Like almost every other session at the Summit, SAMR was discussed. As I am still new to the SAMR model, I really appreciated the examples Holly gave for each 'rung on the ladder'. I would have loved more examples at different grade levels because, as always, I sometimes find thinking about how/if/when to implement technology into division one is a challenge. That said, I appreciated that Holly did given a video example of technology being used in a kindergarten classroom to illustrate redefinition. 

Her other examples were:

  • Substitution: Writing a paper -> Doing it in Word or Google Doc
  • Substitution: Reading from a textbook -> Reading from a PDF
  • Augmentation: Writing a paper -> Writing a paper with “comment coaching” from your teacher
  • Augmentation: Writing a persuasive letter -> Writing a persuasive e-mail
  • Augmentation: Retelling what you learn in social studies -> Use Google Docs Story Builder to retell
  • Modification: Writing a paper -> Collaboratively Writing a Paper with Another Classmate
  • Modification: Readers' Circle -> YouTube Book Talk Channel
  • Modification: Retelling what you learn in social studies -> Use Tellagami to retell. 
  • Redefinition: Writing a paper -> Collaboratively with a Classroom in Australia
  • Redefinition: Reading from a textbook -> Reading Collaboratively and collecting responses right in the document to help crowdsource comprehension.

Resources Recommendation

At the end of her session, Holly offered some recommendations and resources. 


First of all, she suggested that teachers limit the number of extension they have students use. I agree with her here. I would add, the younger the student, the less extensions. Her suggestions included:


Agitatedly Inspired?

Many of the sessions at the GAFE Summit inspired me to try something specific in my class. Despite my initial discomposure, I have to say Holly's session was the one that caused me the most reflection of my overall teaching practice and philosophy when it comes to educational technology. Additionally, but making her presentation available online, I was able to look back over her messages and examples again. 

I'll end with an image (by Wesley Fryer) she shared near the end of her presentation (labeled for reuse according to Google search!) and ask you: what do you want your students to create today? And how are you going help them do so?