And the Winner is…… Social Issues!

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Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

This week my principal sent out the guidelines for up and coming report cards, Trimester 2. Yep, it’s that time already, which means soon my Grade 5 students will be in their ‘final fling/push’ of learning with me in elementary before they take that jump into the unknown – Middle School! This email also signaled my attention on another note – Coetail! I have not been so diligent in my attention to the time frame of blog posts, but in my defense, I will say in my mind, and my day to day instruction, I have already well and truly started on my final course project.

At the end of the last module blog post, I was back and forth with two ideas for the Module 5 Final Project. I was looking at how to integrate technology more meaningfully and seamlessly, into two existing units –  a stand alone Genius Hour Trimester Block Project, or a 5 week Grade 5 Reader’s Workshop Unit on Social Issues. Both units I love, and both I felt would benefit from an overhaul of ideas in how to present and empower student learning. The decision as to which to choose has really come about naturally. I had previously blogged that my main concern with the Genius Hour unit was time. This hour is something that is not built into my current schedule, so it is something I have to make time for by (magically) finding some natural gaps in the curriculum. Along with regular school wide events that break up the calendar, just getting through the curriculum requirements can often be challenging, if I am also expected to meet reporting deadlines. Hence, whilst my students are currently undertaking this project, the time frame and deadlines are constantly changing, which does therefore not meet my Coetail deadline.

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harrington

But that’s ok! Why? Because I am also loving my Social Issues Reading Unit which we are currently well into the swing of! The students have been reading and learning, I have been redefining the unit by integrating and embedding the technology where I felt their learning would most benefit, and their understanding be deepened.

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harrington

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harrington

A huge plus has been that our Elementary Tech Integration Sean Walmsley was keen to continue to be involved on a project we had tried to work in last year, but time had not been on our side. After attending one of our grade level planning meetings, he has planned a wonderful culminating project for this unit, in which is all students create a PSA on a social theme of their choice. This will reflect the student’s reading & learning of social issues, whilst asking them to think about the technological components of the broadcast (such as visuals, music, images and the choice of apps) as they smash the app and video to create the PSA. I feel that I will need to ensure students have received adequate scaffolding and time to prepare for the project with regards to planning out the knowledge and learning that the student wishes to share, and Sean is able to then take this and guide students into the direction of showcasing this information at a superior level, with me working alongside him.

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harrington

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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Harrington

We still have a few more weeks to go before the culmination of the unit. As always, I have been documenting learning, as well as being aware of ensuring these new routines are not taking away from the knowledge I wish my students to gain. My main goals of completing Coetail was to become a more confident teacher when it came to technology, where I would look to technology as an option for a tool to reach out and benefit my students, as naturally as I do when it comes to using other instructional tools. As I plan and teach this unit I do believe I am there. Whilst the jury is still out on whether I am fabulous at it, I figure that is ok. I am doing what I ask my students to do every day – which is take a risk, get out of your comfort zone, push your thinking and continue to ask questions.

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