Monday, February 28, 2011

Time Toast

Here's a quick Time Toast I made for our educational technology course! A great way to have students create timelines!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teachers voices echo students silences

I couldn't help but jump in to the conversation that was happening on @gcouros's blog post "We are all teachers". It's nice to read messages longer than 140 characters long regarding people's insights and opinions! I thought I'd post my response on my blog too! It's interesting that feelings of inclusion and exclusion are universal across cultures and ages. The more signficant insight was by Michelle, which I later responded about what this means for students.

First Response:

Hi friends!

What’s amazing about twitter is how quickly I can become aware of important, highly-discussed topics amongst people whose opinions I respect.

I’m certainly new to this ever growing community, although I’m sure many of you are familiar with the #brocktechies tag that is regularly dropped by @zbpipe. As one of her pre-service students at Brock, I am so excited that Zoe has introduced us to such an infinite resource.

That being said, I am just one of a small group of #brocktechies who understand the value of ‘another social media’. The biggest difference? What you put into it. How do you expect to grow your network without sharing, speaking your opinion or collaborating? As many have already said, surely it takes time. But thankfully it takes time! If this went any faster I would absolutely lose my mind! There is no doubt that those who work hard at developing their PLN and who share constantly would have more followers, and they deserve immense credit!

Without being at Educon (although what a valuable experience from just following the tag) I can’t imagine that it was an environment any different than extended #edchat; highly inspirational and slightly overwhelming, but overall very positive.

My aspiration isn’t to have 10,000 followers but if over the course of time I develop more people who believe I have something to say or have something to share themselves, then all the better. I just find it a bit absurd that a term like ‘a-lister’ would even be introduced to such a thriving environment. It just doesn’t even make sense. As a recent tweep, all I see is human beings exploring with other humans, regardless of race, class, status, or role. Amazing.

The experience is what you make of it and learning isn’t supposed to be comfortable. I’m excited to be at the very start of a wonderful educational adventure, with a very open mind.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. -Wayne Dyer

Second Response:

I guess we can call ‘them’ the A-team I just don’t understand what point the distinction serves.

Michelle has certainly addressed the issue, “How can we ensure that our students are heard? Not all of them are comfortable talking aloud in class, even in small groups. What other options are we giving them?”

I think ensuring our methods are differentiated, allowing for both inter and intra personal strengths to shine, is a start. The best way is to probably be proactive about the entire situation and work from the start to develop a safe, inclusive community.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My new bff? #edchat!

I think a PLN requires building to start and then it grows with participation. Starting one as been a huge educational step for me. If you can't find many like minded people physically close to you, why not try expanding internationally or globally through the internet? #edchat is my bff.

last weekend #edchat led me to follow the #educon and even though I couldn't attend the conference, I was still able to participate in conversation and watch as many educators shared quotes, resources and inspiration. Knowing so many passionate people came together to discuss their passion and learn from each other is very exciting. As a pre-service I'm so eager to be apart of such a wonderful group of collaborates as we change children's lives and the future of education for the better.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Global, Collaborative Classroom Project

Okay, this one's a little on the longer side. We were asked to find and evaluate a resource for our Social Studies course. I've chosen Food and Culture: A Global, Collaborative Classrooms Project and here's why:

An educator who is dedicated to providing their students with an authentic, global experience will surely see what this project has to offer.
This real-world project allows classrooms from across the world to collaborate and develop knowledge regarding health, responsible citizenship (both locally and globally) in an engaging way. As I have had little experience in Geography and History in classroom settings, I have not seen this in action and had little to draw from regarding a resource. That being said, there is thorough step by step instructions that take a teacher through how to implement such a project and this valuable resource was not be passed up.
Canada and World connections are emphasized heavily throughout the curriculum in every grade. In Grade 6 students are asked to explain the relevance to Canada of current global issues under their overall expectations for Canada’s Link to the World. While looking at McDonaldization, the evolution of the supermarket and culturally similarities and differences, students can collaborate with another culture to share information. Where does food come from? What is the cost of food (consider transportation and storage)? These questions can help guide the unit and are even advised to be displayed to help focus the students. Similar themes are also explored in the Grade 7 Natural Resources unit. Through wikis classes can be paired to explore and exchange information about food, where it is found, how it is used and access to the Food and Culture cookbook can bring the experience to their table. The Food and Culture project provides a teacher with many resources, from lesson plans, to activities and research projects that are aligned with the United Nations Millennium Goals. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, it’s just a matter of outlining what your class’ focus will be.
This project has many strengths. To begin, it caters to the 21st century learner. To the students who have been raised with the internet and want to be engaged through interaction. Using all sorts of technology students can communicate and learn together through Project-Based Learning in a virtual classroom. The project offers plenty of ideas to be used in your unit, and explanations on where to start planning. The project is aligned with many big ideas that we’ve discussed, from backwards design, authentic culminating tasks with a significant audience, students teaching students to name a few.
On the other hand, this is a new, developing project. This means that not all the wrinkles have been ironed out and there’s not quite as many classes on board as you may have wished. There’s no single pdf giving you a day to day schedule as to what should be done or a list of handouts to dish out. It will require time to sort through the abundant resources and it will take effort to organize such a project. It’s not meant for everyone, but it’s a project I would certainly like to be a part of.
For those who prioritize the environment, cross-cultural studies and technology this opportunity is not to be missed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tweet, Tweet

Okay, I must admit, I was pretty skeptical about the whole twitter thing before starting my Teaching & Learning with Technology course. Without having an actual educator's perspective on it, I figured it was just another way to keep tabs on what Justin Bieber was doing at all times. But @zbpipe (our professor's professional twitter username) has truly unlocked some magical educational doors for me, something I greatly appreciate.

I've already networked with dozens and dozens of educators I surely never would have without twitter. All of them posting regularly with insightful comments, links to even more thought provoking blogs, and the resources just never end!

But this weekend is what really has me writing. Without twitter I would have never heard about the 2011 Reform Symposium Virtual Conference. On Saturday morning I couldn't help but noticed multiple educators that I follow tweeting like crazy about " #rscon11 " and I had to figure out what it was all about. Turns out it was an online conference with teachers and professionals around the world (okay so it ended up being mainly from North America, but I saw a couple from South America too!) conversing about various educational topics. From learning about Glogs with Mike Olcott and Jim Dachos to having almost 100 people sit in on a session with David Ginsburg discussing effective classroom management strategies (one of, if not the, main concern of new teachers!) I really couldn't even believe that I was actively participating in such an amazing community of passionate educators from my bed! We could raise our hand, applaud and speak with the microphone to ask questions directly to the speakers! They shared their desktops to show us exactly how to navigate resources or left the whiteboard open for us, the audience, to collaboratively share our stories (like in the "One Thing I've Learned" session).

I have a short attention span and start skimming an article when it gets to be about this length, so I'm going to try to keep my posts concise. Moral of the story, Twitter is one of the best PD steps a teacher in the 21st Century can take.

Monday, December 13, 2010

first block insights

after just completeing our first practicum block, that being working alongside an associate teacher for four weeks, I have gained some valuable field experience. we'll start with 3.

1. when having to grade 3 classes of 25 students in data management, ensure the summative assessment does not take you over a weekend to mark!

personally, I would have preferred a more authentic assessment, one that allows students' progress over time to be continually contributing towards a final task. In this way, I would hope that skills acquired at the start of the unit would be revisited often and therefore not lost. But such a plan would have been perhaps a bit ambitious for the short term time constraint we faced. Instead I took the unit test route. I still learned quite a lot from as far as students' understanding of concepts, but more so when I ask to "explain" be prepared for half-page writers as well as three word writers. Instructions must be specific and I should have indicated the point value of each question. Or, as I discussed with a colleague today, taking a "levels" approach to math tests.

2. absolutely must have a well organized way to keep track of students who have been absent.

especially when teaching in a rotary setting, seeing nearly 80 students a day can cause one to lose track of absences. names on handouts that were missed, and right to an 'absent box' of some sort!

3. a more significant insight: the relationship you develop with the students is the vehicle for learning.

to two of the classes I was their math teacher for 50 minutes of the day, and that was probably as much math conversation they could bare. but to homeroom class 7-3 I was their sometimes language and geography teacher as well and a very familiar face. the connection I made with them, naturally from the increased time spent in their company, was evident with the 300 sad faces on my goodbye cards. to this group of students I was the "awesomiest - if that's even a word." They used words like patient, friendly and smart on their exit cards on my last day when I asked for feedback about my teaching. They wrote that math was fun! But I taught more or less the exact same lesson to two other classes, and yet the other two classes' feedback wasn't quite as overwhelming with compliments. Some commented on their increased engagement level, while others just said "you teach good" but some even said I should have gave less homework! The difference between the classes was the relationship I had been able to form with class 7-3. For me this goes to show that class 7-3 didn't care about the homework load because they were preoccupied, whether or not they were aware of it, with a level of respect for me. They were more engaged in the lessons and found the material even more amusing because they knew me and I knew them and we had a mutually understanding and balance of learning, fun and boundaries.

attempt two

so looks like just over a year ago I had tried to enter the blogosphere, unsuccessfully. perhaps with some motivation, now provided through my technology in education course at teacher's college, I will be able to successfully have an edublog on the go.

here's hopin'!