Before I begin, I really have to thank my grade sixes for their incredible participation and enthusiasm when embarking on this journey of exploring OneNote, Canva and Minecraft EDU all within a matter of a few months. This group of students of mine are so excited when I introduce new digital projects and assessments that it makes it so easy to try new programs with them. Their ability to navigate new programs within a few classes is truly astonishing. I know that both myself and the teachers before me have provided them with adequate media literacy and digital citizenship education to make this possible.
This semester I had my students work with OneNote for the first time. We worked on a digital novel study/read out loud instead of working traditionally with pencil and paper. We only have two more chapters left and then we will be finished with the book! The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau has been an engaging and thought-provoking dystopian novel to read with my students. We plan on watching the feature-length film next Thursday before the Easter break. Students completed weekly reflections about the novel and even engaged in using the collaboration space for online group work. Some of the challenges that we faced were accidentally deleting text boxes, images, and even whole pages. We learnt quickly how to lock items so that the students wouldn’t lose their work. Often time because our wifi can sometimes be poor from day to day, students would have to wait a very long time for all of their pages to load when I would distribute them out to the class. I found that I needed to distribute the pages at least an hour before we needed to access them as a class. I will continue to use OneNote with my students and in future years. I want to explore using it in multiple subjects and having them share more with their peers. To wrap up our read-out-loud, students will be creating a digital comic strip using StoryboardThat and then sharing it with our collaboration space within OneNote.
Canva has been a great tool for students to be able to showcase their creativity while still having that digital component be a part of the process. The eductor version of Canva allows teachers to review, comment and submit student work right within the website. I don’t have to sift through emails or search for documents because it is all in one convenient location. Students have created posters, infographics, and even videos that have been so fantastically done. They created posters about the 7 sacred teachings and infographics about infectious diseases. Once they grasped how the program worked, they were figuring it out quite quickly. Students have learnt what it means to download something as a PDF, PNG, JPEG or MP4. All of which can be very confusing when they don’t know why there are different file types. Most recently, I have a handful of students that are using Canva to create an informational video for their Saskatchewan Virtual Heritage Fair project. I am so proud of these students for choosing a project platform that was new and for taking the risk!
Lastly, Minecraft EDU has been a top hit in the classroom as of late. When students hear that they get to complete an assignment or create a project using Minecraft EDU there is always a celebration. Students have also learnt valuable skills such as screen capturing and screen recording. We have been able to meet speaking outcomes without the intense pressure of a class presentation. Students have created an outdoor campsite for fire safety, a narrative comic strip, and explored a sustainable city. The most recent activity that the students were working on in Minecraft EDU is building their own Catholic church. Being that it is the season of lent, I wanted the students to focus on the actual building of the Catholic church since many of them have not been spending much time in the physical building due to the pandemic. We watched a few explainer videos about the differences between a chapel, church and cathedral, and what gothic and historic architecture has looked like over the past couple of thousands of years. The student’s church has some specific requirements, however, they also could add anything extra that they felt would go above and beyond the expectations.