You get what you pay for

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Source: PC Mag and Google, edited by me

This week I decided to try and work with Canvas as an alternative to Google Classroom as some of the accessibility issues were brought up in class (fun fact: I had my first international discussion with someone on Twitter about how to get more public access! I was impressed with my ability to connect with the wider world. Thanks @AliceKeeler!)

So, onto my review of Canvas.

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Source: Giphy

After I logged in for the first time, I was struck by the similarities between Google Classroom and Canvas. The layout of how classes are grouped was similar.

But, upon further investigation, the differences started to stand out. And that’s not necessarily in Canvas’ favour.

As I worked through adding information, assignments, discussions, and a syllabus to Canvas, I was struck by the fact that I had no idea of what my class would look like to a student and I wasn’t sure how I would check.

This is what I see as a teacher:

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Screenshot

Is this what students see? How can I find out? If this is what students see, I’m unimpressed. To me, it looks cluttered and intimidating. There are almost too many options. For a student, I’m not sure I would know what to do without very specific instructions and modeling.

Logan mentioned some really pertinent points about the integration of “revolutionary” tools. There really aren’t any, proprietary or otherwise. Yes, it has Google Drive access and Twitter integration, but it lacks finesse with those tools.

Audrey Watters’ post about LMS really challenged the way I was approaching the content and the structure.  A big plus to Canvas is the openness of it and the ability to leave the course “open” so students can access it beyond the course’s technical end date. In this way, students are more central to the learning occurring. It seems the Watters’ post had a significant impact

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Picture Source: SheKnows, edited by me

HOWEVER, I’m not sure I’ll be using Canvas in the near future, due to the fact that my division subscribes to the Google Apps for Education. That fact simply cannot be surmounted. I have access to all kinds of tools and my students are “walled” into the Google Classroom through the division’s purchases.

As my title suggests, in this case, I get what I (my division) pays for. Canvas looks similar to Google Classroom, but with further investigation, I find myself drawn back to Google’s monopoly of apps and programs. I just cannot get past the fact that Google offers more helpful tools for teachers through Google Docs and parental/guardian access.

So, I enjoyed my sojourn through different LMSes and have a couple more that I want to explore (thanks, Amy!), but for now, Google is king.

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Source: Lazy Grace
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And goes and goes

Ahhh. Silence. One child is sleeping and the other is out with his father. I finally have time to work on this class. Coffee in one hand, mouse in the other. #momlife

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Source: Google

Ok.

So I started setting up my Google Classroom and was almost immediately overwhelmed with the possibilities for my class, students, and parents. I’ve begun to explore all of the options in setting up a classroom that can be effective for all learners I may encounter in this class. I think I’ve resisted setting a Google classroom for so long because I thought it was just another iteration of a classroom blog, like the one I had already set up.

My rationale for the classroom blog was multiple: trying to reduce paper waste by not photocopying extra handouts (my mantra was “did you check the blog?”), providing copies of handouts for parents and tutorial teachers that were accessible anywhere, and assisting students who had missed class.

Google Classroom, on first glance, seems to be this and oh-so-much more.

Like, much more.

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Source: Relatably

Looking at Google Classroom, I knew I’d have to pick a subject and topic with which I was familiar, as tackling Google Classroom already seemed like a ginormous mountain.

So, like Nicole Brown and Kyle Ottenbreit, I’ve decided to tackle the beast that is Shakespeare.

Ah yes. Everyone has fond memories of Shakespeare, right? Everyone loves to learn about iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets, and theatre in the round?

Sigh. An English teacher can only wish.

Because, honestly, I do love Shakespeare. I really, really do. I think he’s funny, bawdy (what teenager can pass up a good fart joke? Shakespeare sure couldn’t, and honestly, if you actually read Shakespeare, even the tragedies, there are so. many. dirty. jokes), timeless, adaptable, and relatable. Yes, all of those things.

For my final project, I’ve decided to create a fully formed unit on… drumroll please…

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Source: Giphy

Hamlet. Hamlet is required for English Language Arts B30 and is one of those plays that has influenced our language in so many ways. There are many lines from the play that have made their way into everyday speech as truisms.

For example: “Neither a lender nor borrower be” (1.3.76) or “to be or not to be” (3.1.57).

It’s also Shakespeare’s longest play (and my blog entry is unintentionally reaching Hamlet-esque lengths. My apologies) and the only one I can think of that has been Disney-fied.

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Source: Wikipedia

And so, this marks the beginning of my semester-long attempt at making Hamlet accessible, relatable, and most importantly, FUN in a blended learning way.

My challenges in working with Shakespeare is trying to make the learning “personal“, as Stephen Downes discusses. As well, the Oblinger/Hawkins article echoes that sentiment: “Learning occurs as a result of motivation, opportunities, an active process, interaction with others, and the ability to transfer learning to a real-world situation”. Students will have to first get on board with the why of Shakespeare before they can make the learning their own.

I’m very excited to start on this adventure and really hope that I can produce something that I can use when I return to teaching.

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Source: Giphy

Finally, if anyone has experience with Google Classroom, I’d be very grateful to hear your pros and cons of using it! Forewarned is forearmed.

And so it goes…

Here it goes!

I’m Kelsie and this is my second tech class with Alec and Katia. The first was a whirlwind spring course that challenged pretty much everything I knew about technology and its use. The format of debates really showed me that there are no definitives in technology and education, that everything is shades of grey in terms of access and ability.

When I’m at work, I teach 9-12 English Language Arts at Campbell Collegiate.

I’m a huge English geek, and I think I’ve passed that love onto my son. As I’m typing this, he’s brought me a stack of books to read to him (current favourite).

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Truth. (Source: Grammarly)

But, I’m not at work right now. I’m at home, enjoying my second maternity leave with my two boys. Having an active 2 1/2 year old and a 2 month old keeps me hopping and drawing on all my creativity to keep them entertained during this long cold winter (thank you, Pinterest).

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Almost 2 months old!

In my downtime, I’m a news junkie, with a special place in my heart for CBC as a kid who grew up all across Canada.

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Source: CBC

I’ve also ventured into an unknown space: Twitter. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more often browsing social media than posting, so my resolution is to post more frequently to become a more active participant in the conversation. I’ve also begun to notice how Twitter can feed my news habit.

Because I’m on maternity leave and hypothetically have more time on my hands, I especially want to explore Google Classroom. Colleagues of mine use it very effectively and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to see what it can offer me in terms of making my life and my students’ lives easier.

So, this is me in a nutshell: excited to finally be trying out things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but always found excuses not to. The time is now!