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Summary of Digital Learning Project

What a busy semester it has been! I am so proud of the work my students and I were able to accomplish in what felt like such a short period.

Throughout the last three months, the class and I implemented a variety of social media tools into the classroom. First, we started by finding Canadian Art on Twitter and doing research about the artist. This led us to several digital citizenship discussions about being responsible and creating online identities they would be proud of. We began our novel study on Daniel’s Story and created blog prompts (see below in shared files) centred around modern injustices and genocides for students to research, respond, and connect to our Holocaust novel. Finally, students were given the option of creating a digital scrapbook or a hardcopy scrapbook outlining the journey of a Jewish person during the Nazi regime and Holocaust / Shoah. Many students opted to try the digital scrapbook and used apps such as Twitter or Instagram to document the journey of their fictional characters.

Our timeline changed repeatedly during the unit as we tried to accelerate the digital scrapbooks to align with the EC&I 831 concluding date of November 30. We are still reading the novel and are still working through our Fan School Blogs. Looking back, we may have bitten off more than we could chew, however, students were resilient and worked through our busy schedule. In the future, I would allow the blogs, chapter reading, and reading comprehension questions to move quicker, and have the scrapbook become more of a culminating activity, rather than having such a strong focus on it during the unit. That being said, completing the scrapbook mid-novel created a space where students did not know the end of the novel and thus had to be creative in their scrapbook and do research on what this journey might look like, rather than simply copying Daniel’s journey that Carol Matas depicts.

You can see the classrooms’ examples of student blogging here and I included a few examples of the digital scrapbooks here. Click here, here, here, or here for publicly listed Instagram scrapbooks. Students did a remarkable job of adapting and experimenting with using social media in the classroom!

In the nature of Open Education Resources (OERs), please use, lose, or change these files if you’d like to try this assignment in your classroom!

Looking Back…

In my initial blog post, Victoria and I considered teaming up to connect my grade 7/8 class with her Kindergarten class; however, after looking at the logistics, time, and varying abilities, we quickly decided to go our own route as connected teenagers with 1:1 devices to five-year-olds with 3:1 devices would be difficult. We looked at writing ideas, art ideas, and other ways to connect the two classrooms but after great consideration, we decided to focus our attention elsewhere.

In my second post, I implemented the digital scrapbook and blog plan as it coincided with the novel I chose to read this year, Daniel’s Story. Here, I included the blog prompts (which were adapted for a few students where the blog prompts were perhaps too complex). And thus, the blogging and scrapbooking began! **I updated blog post #5 to be a documentation of their scrapbooks rather than an update on their process. If you wish to see some of the student’s hard copy scrapbooks or screenshots of the private digital scrapbooks, please look for students’ blog posts with “Blog #5” in the title!

On my third post (but second update regarding the progress of the integration project), I highlighted and described to the best of my abilities what the FanSchool (formerly known as KidBlog) site looked like, and how we were using the tools the app provided to facilitate the blogging process for students. They were to create engaging blog responses and then respond to their peers (similar to the expectations of ECI 831). Students did well with this task, however, I did have one student copy and paste pieces from other students and claim them as his own. Both my co-teacher and I found this quite funny as this is probably the worst assignment to try to copy from peers in the class! Students AND teachers are reading others’ posts, thus making it very difficult to pass off other people’s ideas as your own. A learning experience for that student!

Coming in hot to my fourth post (third update), I highlight some of the challenges we ran into. Most notably, the privacy concerns and the workload. Some of these issues were largely due to outside factors: student days off, mandatory division assessments, and other subjects that also needed to be touched on. If I had more time, we could have spaced out some of the work further into December and eased some of the strenuous workloads, and had the scrapbooks as more of a culminating activity.

The fifth post, as previously mentioned, includes some student examples of their digital scrapbooks and a few notes for future attempts at taking on this style of project. Students lost some work while posting to their “Story” rather than a traditional “post”, the stigma of using cell phones in school still exists and has been a conversation we have had as a staff, as well as tracking all of the social media platforms students were using. In the future, I will definitely create some type of “Hub,” such as Alec’s for ECI 831, to be able to locate their scrapbooks easily.

Finally, my sixth post tied up many strings:

“Going forward with Critical Thought regarding the pedagogy of the assignment:

  • As previously stated, the timeline would have to be adjusted to be more authentic to the nature of the assignment
  • I would like to create a better means of collecting the students’ @’s from the wide range of social media platforms to help with locating and marking purposes
  • The social media integration into the classroom overall was a success, with minor issues regarding what students were using their phones for, or inappropriate conduct within the blog site and their own chosen form of social media expression
  • There was great value in this type of assessment and the data/responses are clear that students took away valuable information regarding the (Holocaust) content, digital stewardship, and understanding of mental health and wellness.”

As well, “Behind the scenes, my co-teacher and I have been motivated and

inspired by Jarche’s image. This has been a driving force in the curation to sharing of students’ blogs and a variety of social media platform presentations.”

Be it creating the blogs, creating writing prompts, or the students’ use of technology to seek, create sense, and share, this image stuck out to me throughout this whole process.

Key takeaways from this project and where this will lead in the future:

This learning project pushed me to be more open and accepting of social media in the classroom. I found my students really responded positively to the blogging reflections on FanSchool and those who chose to use a social media account to create their digital scrapbooks really enjoyed the opportunity to explore their creations through one of their preferred apps, rather than the traditional pen and paper.

I will acknowledge that this learning project would have been incredibly difficult to accomplish without being a Connected Educated in my school division. Having access to 1:1 devices in my class allowed us to immerse ourselves in the variety of tech platforms that we did, and also allowed students to have additional time to work on tasks, rather than having to book out the school laptop cart and only have access to the devices for an hour (if that) per day. If my classroom was not Connected, I think I could have taken on blogging, but students would have had to write everything out first, and then type it in during the designated laptop time; integrating the digital scrapbooks, Twitter art assignment, and commenting on others’ blogs would have been too much for students to accomplish with limited access to technology!

For those reading this blog – my advice would be to only do what feels comfortable and what you think your students can manage given your access to technology. I understand that every classroom and every school operates differently, thus doing these tasks with 52 students could be nearly impossible in some classrooms, while it was definitely busy, but doable in my situation!

I feel that through the blogging process I have been forced to be critically reflective of my pedagogy… something that as busy teachers we often surpass as there are a million other tasks and thoughts running through our minds. I have a far better grasp on using social media in my classroom (which was really my next step in the Connected Educator role after having 1:1 devices for 5 years).

My co-teacher and I have branched out to two other grade 7/8 teachers and are planning a Dystopian Novel Study with a variety of different-levelled Dystopian novels for each of us, plus two Teacher-Librarian-Catalysts, will lead a group of students from each of our schools through a novel, with a similar blogging structure, and weekly Teams Meetings with all students to reflect and discuss a variety of prompts that are yet to be determined. We are excited about this process and opportunity!

Thank you for reading and following along on this journey! My students and I greatly enjoyed this learning opportunity, and I cannot wait to try this process again while being able to change and adapt based on what worked and what did not over the course of our Social Media Classroom Integration journey!

– Dalton

4 thoughts on “Summary of Digital Learning Project

  1. Hi Dalton,

    I love the concept of an online scrapbook, and can totally relate to all the sticky notes all the time. It could definitely be a reflection of my thought process some days. But I really resonated with you about the reflective process of your pedagogy and thinking deeper about how blogging allows for more in the classroom, and what type of learning this leads to. I really love to find tasks that engage the learning, but also keep them “distracted” as a quiet classroom sometimes feels like a learning classroom, but that is so far from truth!

    Thanks for sharing your summary and hopefully we can take another class together in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dalton,

    This was very well-written and I appreciate that you linked the pedagogy of the assignment to your post!

    I totally understand the “biting off more than you can chew.” I found with my project I started out overly ambitious with what would be possible for me to accomplish on a weekly basis. I definitely needed to downsize and create more realistic goals. I am so impressed with your project and how you meaningfully integrated this into your classroom… I can’t even begin to imagine how excited your students would have been at the prospect of using social media in the classroom! Since my students are still somewhat young, I am a little hesitant to get them using social media in the way you did with Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is a great idea that I should keep on the back burner. I could be wrong, but I feel as though I could monitor a blog better… Did you find this to be true?

    Very well done and best wishes for next semester!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monitoring a blog is MUCH easier. Depending on the platform, you can moderate everything that is posted and comments too. It would be a great structure to have for your younger students and be a great way to teach digital identities while prepping them for the next few years when they may encounter more social media either in the classroom or personal lives. Definitely something worth considering, in my opinion. Thanks for the comment and question! Good luck next semester as well!


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