Thursday, March 10, 2011

Summing it up: My PLN for You

Well, the end of the road has appeared, eh fellow teachers? For my summative project, I hummed and hawed for pretty much two weeks, wondering what I could do. While sitting in one of our exciting classes, I asked Tiffany what she had done. She gave me an overview of how she used screenr to voice-over her prezi presentation. I didn't have experience with either tool, but it sounded very cool indeed. I also asked Alanna, and she said she used Livebinders to organize all that she learned. This also sounded very practical and neat.

So what I did was take part of both ideas and use screenr to talk about my livebinder. Thank you for sharing your ideas Tiffany and Alanna. Your projects were awesome, and I will definitely be referring back to them in the future.

As you'll see, my livebinder is rather minuscule in comparison to Alanna's. So, I tried to make it personal a bit and share the information that I found very useful, as well as a few resources that will help us out as new teachers. This course was by far the most useful course during my two years in the Education Program. I highly recommend that it become mandatory.

Anyway, here's my masterpiece:
video

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Internet Making Us Stupid or Smart?

One of our tech tasks in the course was to comment on whether we think the internet is making us stupid or smart. The basis for our opinions was to be the two articles listed below:

Does the Internet Make You Dumber? by N. Carr
Does the Internet Make You Smarter? by C. Shirky

Basically, I do not agree with either of the articles, totally. Both point out some valid points, but I think it all comes down to the individual that is using the internet. There are all sorts of uses for the internet, and everyone uses it for a various reasons. If you were fortunate enough to take this course with Mike, you should have a good idea of how to use the internet efficiently in order to learn.

I found a video on youtube of a guy who, by the sounds of it, did an assignment very similar to the one we were asked to do for this tech task. Although he just made a video of himself reading his blog, the information he gives is indeed true, in my opinion. If you can get passed the slight degree of weirdness, and a few 'F' bombs thrown in at the end, take a gander and see if you agree.


I guess  I would tend to agree more with the fact that the internet is making us smarter. At least it should, shouldn't it? Having access to basically any information and any person in the world gives us the opportunity to learn far more than we ever could have without the internet. It's the whole idea of sharing - the main point of this course - that allows us to broaden our knowledge and experience base. It's there for the taking, so why not jump on the opportunity.

Networked Learning with Alec Couros

Our class had the privilege of listening to Alec Couros talk about Networked Learning and openness in terms of sharing and teaching. This has been a recurring theme in this course, and hopefully we have all received a good understanding of the huge benefits of forming teaching and learning networks with colleagues from all over the world.

Alec presented to us using an online tool called Elluminate. This is similar to skype, but allows for more interaction between multiple users, and also allows users to post presentations and other material on a shared white board screen for further information trasnsmission. If you haven't taken a look at Elluminate, here's a link for you check it out: http://www.elluminate.com

For anyone who was unable to attend the class where Alec shared with us, here is a video I came across of a presentation he did last year. This presentation goes farther in depth into the kinds of stuff he was showing us. Take a look and see what you think:
 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Closer Look at Web-Based Courses

I finally got around to taking a gander at the web based courses that MB Education has to offer. I sent in a request for the three subjects I will be teaching in my last placement - Science 10F, Science 20F, and Biology 40S.

I took a look through the material for Grade 12 Biology and found it to be potentially very useful. The lessons are laid out in a very organized way, easy to follow, and correspond directly to the curriculum documents. I like how the amount of text students need to read is minimal (which I'm sure they will enjoy as well).

I also like the interactive aspect of the web based courses. It encourages class discussions, which lends to the idea of sharing knowledge and creating a learning community. This would be a great opportunity to start students off on the advantages of using social media and other internet resources to help them learn.

I will definitely be using these web-based courses as an added resource in my upcoming placement. The lessons and assignments will be very useful in helping me diversify and differentiate my classroom instructional methods.

Here is a link to MB Education's Distance Learning web page:  
http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/docs/policy/online_learning/index.html

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Edublogging it Up

Like hopefully everyone else in this course, I have decided to follow George Couros' blog - "The Principal of Change", found at http://georgecouros.ca/blog/. I am also following George, as well as his brother Alec, on Twitter. I chose George because he is extremely "connected", and by joining his network, I am increasing my own network of learners and educators exponentially. I look forward to using all the amazing resources these guys have to offer, and I know my teaching job will be made easier as a result. Let the sharing continue!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Personal ICT Devices in the Classroom

As part of our class work, we were asked to pick a topic relevant to ICT and education and, in groups, we presented our findings to the class. I enjoyed all the presentations and found them very informative. One presentation that stood out for me was the examination of personal ICT devices in the classroom, which was very well done by Shaun and Tim P (nice work guys!). I liked how they broke down their critiques into categories such as accessibility, authenticity, features, etc. This allowed me to think a lot more critically about each of the devices, and make a more informed decision.

After the presentation, as well as drawing from my own experiences, I think the most useful device to use in the classroom is the laptop. I think there is still a potential place for the other devices in schools, and the more devices being used, the better. However, the many uses and features of a laptop are hard to beat.

One website that I found while browsing for potential uses of ICT in the classroom was called "Shambles". Again, there are hundreds of links to many useful resources for all subject areas. Because my interest is in teaching Science, one link I found rather interesting can be found here:

http://www.shambles.net/pages/learning/ScienceP/scict/
This is a page containing lots of ideas for incorporating ICT into science lessons. Take a look, and bookmark it up!

Look What We Can Do Now!

Darren Kuropatwa came to our class and gave a very interesting presentation about giving students the opportunity to show us what they have learned. He asked the question, "How do we know what our students know?". This is a very good question to ask, and when you think about it, it's probably the most important question teachers should ask themselves. After all, the answer to that question is the basis of what we are getting paid to do.

I really enjoyed the information he shared, because he pointed out that our jobs as teachers should be a lot easier if we are using the myriad of talents and interests shown by our students. I especially liked the idea of using flikr in math class to have students search for links between the content they are learning and their everyday lives.

I came across a website entitled "Sound Out: Promoting Student Voice In School" - http://www.soundout.org/teaching.html , which has a lot of interesting resources for incorporating our students into their own learning. There are links to programs being used in schools, as well as more tools that teachers can add to their repertoire.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

George Couros - The Principal of Change

Last week, we had the privilege of listening to George Couros talk about the ways in which his school is incorporating social media in the classroom. He was present via Skype, which was one of the tools that he discussed as being valuable for educators. He explained the benefit of having the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, in order to listen to their expertise in a given subject mater. I agree with him. The more view points and information we can present to our students, the more opportunity to learn.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear what is going on in George's school. It's amazing how much further ahead of the times some school divisions are. From my experiences so far, even basic technology is lacking, and if it is there, the school division has a tight grip on what can be done with that technology. For example, blocking all social media websites prevents teachers from using these tools for the benefit of ourselves and our students. We need to focus on teaching students to be respectful digital citizens as well as everyday citizens in society. The students at George's school are at an advantage because they are being shown the proper uses of the internet and social media, and are leaving that school armed with an arsenal of resources and tools that will help them succeed in today's society.

As I was browsing through potential resources, I came across another website that has links to various blogs and wiki's used in the classroom, and provides tips for beginner teachers that want to use social media. I quickly added the site to my Diigo bookmarks, and I suggest you do the same:

http://my-ecoach.com/online/webresourcelist.php?rlid=4992#2 - Classroom Blogs and Wikis

Have a good one folks!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Tips from Mike's Tool Bag...

Mike became the internet magician once again and began throwing out useful links and resources like a friendly passerby throwing bread crumbs to ravenous pigeons in Trafalgar Square. This was a perfect opportunity to utilize one of my favorite social media tools - Diigo. There wasn't time to set up accounts or play around with the websites, so I just bookmarked all the links in my Diigo Library so I could come back to them at a later date. For me, this is a very useful tool to use because I have a tendency to distract myself or forget about some resources I come across.
One of the tools I tinkered with was the picture-video website called Animoto. This site could be used at any grade level, and I think we could find many different ways to incorporate the short videos into presentations or other classroom activities. In order to make longer videos, of course it costs money, but we found that it is actually quite cheap ($5 for a month or $30 for a year membership). Check out my video at:

My Bostons

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Educating in the Networked World - Going Virtual

Dr. Glen Gatin presented some very interesting happenings in the world of education and ICT. He outlined more of the possibilities available to us as educators when it comes to incorporating the internet into our classrooms. One of the most intriguing ideas he raised was the use of the online virtual world "Second Life" as an educational tool. I was not familiar with what exactly Second Life was all about, but after talking to a few of my friends and looking around on the web, I discovered some very interesting things. I still can't totally wrap my head around the capabilities of this separate online world, but I can definitely see some advantages.

One of the videos I found interesting talked about using Second Life to supplement Science instruction. Since I plan on teaching high school science, I would like to consider adding this to my bottomless bag of potential tools for getting information to students. Undoubtedly there will be at least one student that would find this sort of resource useful. Take a look at the video and see what you think...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

The presentation by John Finch sparked a very interesting topic for us to consider as we plunge into the ever-exciting world of education. We are at the forefront of change that will surely arouse debate and controversy among students, parents, and teachers everywhere.

The question is, should we use social media as a tool for learning? Unfortunately, the answer is about as clear as the Assiniboine River - reminiscent of chocolate milk. The potential for misuse is ripe, and there is probably a very thin line between useful educational tool and ultimate chaotic distraction for students. However, the reality of the situation is that virtually all of our students will be seasoned internet (especially social media) junkies, and it would behoove us to take a good hard gander at what we can do to harness this behaviour for educational purposes.

In my opinion, there are many advantages to incorporating social media into the classroom. As part of John's presentation, we were asked to do an internet search for examples of schools and teachers that are currently experimenting with social media in education. During my browsing, I came across a particularly interesting article entitled "100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom" - http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/05/100-inspiring-ways-to-use-social-media-in-the-classroom/ . There are lots of good ideas and links to specific examples of where the method is being used.

I look forward to trying some of those ideas in my classroom, and I think my students will enjoy it as well. Hopefully all school divisions will realize the benefits of using social media as an educational tool. Students live in a world centered around social media, so why not allow them to interweave education into their technological matrix?  As the old saying goes: if we can't beat 'em, we might as well join 'em.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Closer Look at Web Based Courses

During our last class, we had the privilege of hearing from Howard Griffith about Web Based Courses and the progress Manitoba Education is making in refining and developing them.
When I was in High School in small town Manitoba, I took a course called Calculus 45A, which was taught over the phone. Five other students and myself met once a week and joined a teleconference with our teacher, who was in another small town 100 kilometers away. We would fax our exercises to him and he would mail them back to us with corrections made, and any questions could be asked during the teleconference. The course went well, but a big reason for that was the fact that all of us were strong math students and didn't need much extra assistance after working through examples. We could put our heads together and more often than not help each other with errors. The amount of help we could get from the teacher was limited by the lack of face-to-face instruction. Nowadays, there is video conferencing capabilities that can bring in that face-to-face aspect.
Especially in rural schools, the demand for distance learning is increasing due to lack of teacher resources, changing needs of students, and other logistical barriers. Web based courses are an option that can be used. One benefit that was brought to my attention by Howard was the fact that these courses can be used as yet another resource for teachers to implement in the classroom. I am looking forward to incorporating the information and activities into my classroom instruction. I also look forward to the potential opportunity to teach web based courses  in rural Manitoba.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the Blogging Begin!

This is my first experience with blogging, and so far I am enjoying it. John Evans' presentation of Personal Learning Networks was very interesting and opened my eyes to the value of using tools such as Diigo and Twitter etc. in relation to teaching. I am really looking forward to implementing the use of those tools in my classroom. Our students live in a technological world, and by giving them the opportunity to use the internet more for their education, we will hopefully see more interest and enthusiasm in assignments and projects we ask them to complete. Using Personal Learning Networks should benefit everyone involved in education.