Sunday, April 17, 2011

Comments for Teachers 4

For this Comments 4 Teachers assignment, I was assigned Ms. Kathy Cassidy's blog. The name of her blog is Primary Preoccupation. She teaches first grade in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada. She "uses technology to help her students connect, collaborate, and learn with students and other people from around the world." Her students blog regularly, use wikis, video, Skype and other online tools.

kathy cassidy

On April 14, 2011, her most recent post was from March 22, 2011, and it was titled "Making Video, But No Faces Allowed". She discusses her policy for her online work and that only students' first names are allowed to be used and that no image can be matched to their name. This leaves her with one challenge: how to post videos of the children's learning without showing their faces. So far, they have come up with three different ways to do this: puppet shows, an "artifact" (her example was a poster made by the child) with the child explaining the artifact, and a "common craft" to explain their learning. She provides example videos of each of these ideas. Ms. Cassidy also discusses that during the making of their last video, there were some children who didn't clearly understand the concept of "needs" and "wants", which was what the video was to explain. Instead of re-teaching these children, she used the videos of the other children to help these children better grasp the concept. Ms. Cassidy said the lights came on! How awesome; this children were able to capture their learning's and share them with their fellow students and help them learn as well. This is a fine example of how beneficial technology in the classroom can be! She closes her post by asking for ideas on how to make videos without showing the children's faces.

In my response, I told her how great I thought it was that her students were able to make videos and then use those videos to help fellow students learn. That alone will give students the motivation to be better learners, so that they can be better teachers. Phenomenal!

On April 17, 2011, I commented on Ms. Cassidy's post titled "It's Your Choice...You Choose". In this post, she reflects on an experience she had with a particular student last spring. At the end of a unit she gave her students an assignment to make an artifact of some kind to show their learning. She gave them several tools that they could use, some of which included writing an article for their blog, drawing a picture for their blog, making a book using Storybird, and making a video using Sketchcast. She gave them options so that they had a choice of what was best for them to use.

She had a student come to her and ask if he could use Vocaroo, a voice recording tool that they had been using that year. This particular student has a severe text disability that was so severe he could only recognize about twenty words at the end of first grade. Due to this disability, she told him no with the intention that of allowing him to get more practice with written words. She says that she was ashamed by the decision she made and that not shortly after, she went to the student and told him that he could use the voice recording tool. She says that her shame in her moment of realization had a deep impact on her. She closes her post be saying the following:

" I will never forget our short conversation because of my emotional response and because it made me stop and re-evaluate what I was doing as a teacher who says she values choice.  All of us have strengths and weaknesses, and while it is important for us (and our students) to work on those things that we are not good at, it is also important for us to have a chance to show our learning using a medium that can help us to best capture that knowledge.

If the choices don’t include all students in a way that is relevant to them, is it really choice?"

My initial reaction to her post was that she shouldn't feel ashamed. She learned from the experience and fixed what she felt was a mistake, how do you find shame in that? As I scrolled down to leave my comment, I noticed that the majority of the comments left were expressing the same feelings I had. So in my response to her I said:

"Hi, Ms. Cassidy. I understand your initial response to this student being a “no” because you were hoping to help him improve with the use of text. However, I do not think you should feel ashamed. You learned from the situation and that is what matters. If a student decided to, initially, do the wrong option but corrected themselves by making it right, would you shame them? Of course not, as long as they are learning in the long run. It is important for teachers to remember that we are also “students” and we are forever learning, as well as our students! I agree with your closing statement, “If the choices don’t include all students in a way that is relevant to them, is it really choice?” It isn’t."
I thanked her for her impact on my educational journey in becoming an educator. I also told her that I admired the enthusiasm and excitement that she puts into her classroom. 

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