Category: Reflection

Captivate with Dragon Design

With a focus on Captivate this year, there have been many opportunities to put this into action. Dragon Design, an enrichment in Middle School, offers students with a variety of design-based projects that have proven to captivate learners. These projects include 3D printing cookie cutters and mazes, using the vinyl cutter to make laptop stickers and a sewing project where students re-created a book character to share with the Elementary School library. I think what made these projects so successful in engaging students was that for each project, there was a genuine purpose, and in the case of the sewing project, a real, live audience – a Pre-K classroom!

The cookie cutters were soon put to use with students baking one afternoon, the 3D printed mazes were housed in the library as a wellness activity for others to engage with, and the vinyl stickers found homes on the student laptops.

The projects were a success, but what was I found was missing, was an overarching theme that ties the projects together. Essentially a bigger purpose. Nikki Long and I have been teaching this class together for some time now and there has been talking of a Dragon Design 2, given the enthusiasm and interest from students. In planning for this new enrichment, we decided to incorporate a theme, something relevant that would captivate students in a  more meaningful way – we selected the environment. We are convinced the projects will continue to captivate our students although we are hoping that Dragon Design 2 will also engage them in an important cause.

The projects we decided on are:

  • Precious Plastics – where students will design and create a tote bag, pencil case or lunch bag from old plastic bags. There is lots of scope for students to be creative with this task and there is no shortage of plastic bags to work with. This is a nice introductory project since it will also offer the opportunity to discuss the many concerns around plastic pollution and the impact on the environment.
  • Glorious Gardens – in this project students will design, using TinkerCad, a pot to plant a succulent. Together we will build a glorious garden while recognising the impact of rainforest and habitat destruction on planet Earth.
  • Puzzling Designs – students will work with an elementary classroom to design a puzzle to raise awareness in a cause associated with the environment. The puzzle will be sewn using felt and presented to the elementary students for there ongoing use.
  • Awareness Ornaments – this project will have the students laser cutting their chosen design on their choice of material e.g. wood or acrylic. The ornament will be presented alongside a poster that builds awareness and understanding of a cause or campaign related to the environment.

The presentation below further details these projects and provides examples of the design projects:

I’ll be sure to update here as we make our way through this new enrichment. Look out for Dragon Designer creations on showcase around the school!

Time For Reflection

Not that every day is not a time for reflection, however, I need to ensure that I spend some time thoughtfully considering my goals I set out to achieve at the very start of the year – and in line with those goals, it is my responsibility to blog my reflective process. So here it is!

My first goal was to work towards modelling reflective practice through blogging professional learning (process and showcase) with the aim of encouraging an active blogging culture at ISB. I have stayed true to my word and I have used a variety of opportunities throughout the year to blog both process and showcase pieces. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we currently have an “open and supportive bogging culture at ISB” although this was never going to happen overnight. As a part of my role on the Strategic Growth Initiative Committee, I established a blog to report back on our progress and engage an online dialogue beyond our meeting times. This has been relatively successful and I’m glad that we have a showcase piece to demonstrate the work that the group has completed so far. Since this committee will continue well into next year, this will remain a focus for me, and I will continue to engage the use of the blog to communicate feedback on the trial set to run in 2018. The more exposure (Middle and High School staff especially) have to blogging, the more aware they will be as to the advantages this style of communication and the more likely they are to look to embed such techniques into their own learning and the learning of their students. This is my tactic, to lead by example.

In addition, a part of the professional growth trial for 2018-2019, staff will be invited to share their professional learning goals via their own blog! This is a huge step forward and has the potential to significantly change the way ISB engages with reflective practice. The professional learning blogs will house individual teacher goals and ongoing reflection – similar to what I am attempting to do in this space. It is hoped that over time, teachers will feel comfortable  sharing their learning and reflection while inviting feedback and showcasing achievements. 

So have I achieved this goal, I’d say it’s still a work in progress and I plan to continue these efforts throughout 2018-19 and beyond.

My second goal for the year was to model the use of DX through the establishment of a sustainable Digital Citizenship program for both Middle and High School. Given the nature of Digital Citizenship, this will never be one that I can say is finished. However, I’m pleased with the progress of the program at this stage, and using DX had meant that the resources are accessible for students and teachers at any time. I plan to continue to build units and add to these classes so that there will eventually be a bank of resources for teachers to draw upon when needed. In the High School, there has been a change to the program for 2018-19 and Eileen will be responsible for developing the mentoring program. I’m looking forward to working with Eileen to establish a series of digital citizenship lessons that are built into the mentoring program, rather than as a stand-alone entity, which was the case this year. I believe this will encourage a more meaningful experience for these students. In the Middle School, the mentoring coordinators have been great to work with and they have been considerate of building in the digital citizenship lessons as a part of the program. They’ve also reached out to me when support has been necessary, and we’ve adapted lessons or built them for a specific purpose. Regardless of how proactive we are in our planning, there is always a time and a place for reactive measures when it comes to adolescents and their use of technology.

The second part of this goal is to model the use of DX in an attempt to encourage a culture of collaborative online communities and the sharing of learning. As mentioned, DX has provided the opportunity to pull together units for this purpose and have them accessible at any stage throughout the year. There were some administrative issues with this setup – essentially, these grade level classes had to be created manually, which was a nightmare to manage. When a new student was enrolled, they had to be added manually by myself. In addition, there always seemed to be teachers that didn’t have access. I later discovered the mentor lists did not include the co-mentors so a good number of teachers were not added to the course. I need a solution to this for next year as it was time-consuming to manage and I don’t believe there was ever a time when it was truly accurate. I’d also like to roll over grade levels each year, why take the time to set them all up again? I plan to keep the content and continue adding to it, so I need to look into this.

The attempt to create online discussions with students (particularly in the high school) using the platform was not particularly successful – although I’m not sure they were necessary encouraged to do so, so it’s tricky to know where to go with this one. It’s clear that, similar to blogging, there is not really a culture of engaging dialogue in online spaces at ISB. This is certainly something that I plan to continue to model and showcase (while strategically encouraging it’s use during team planning and conversations with individual teachers!) in the hope of changing the culture and engaging more blended learning experiences for our students. I will need a lot of help with this one, mostly from the Elementary School to be honest. There needs to be better alignment between schools and Julie and I have the ability to work towards this in the Middle and High School, however, ensuring alignment with ES is more challenging. I think, in addition to our big picture goal setting for the Ed Tech team for 2018-19, we need to determine a more specific focus, perhaps aligned with a skill, that we attempt to engage with, where possible, in our classrooms, workshops, team planning, professional growth etc. For example, engaging online discussions, or reflective practice… what skill could we quietly model as a team next year and know that this is something that teachers and students across the school are being exposed to?

So I was hoping that by the end of the year, the beginnings of a structured, relevant and engaging Digital Citizenship program, for Grades 6-12, is articulated, communicated and facilitated through the use of DX. I’d say this is the case and there is plenty for me to improve upon next year!

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