Category Archives: I Think…

Playing Around In The Virtual World

Ever since our class last week about Second Life and Teen Second life, I haven’t been very busy trying to understand it. I was very excited to create an account on Second Life and enter the virtual world. I figured why not try something new! I love the Sims game and from what I could tell during class and from listening others speak about it, SL was just like an interactive, realistic version of it. So I downloaded second life (during class time, I apologize hehe) and believe it or not, waited until after class to try it out. I created my avatar and chose the tutorial room. This was where I became frustrated. The first thing I did was walk around the room to practice walking and flying. This was not difficult at all, but there was not exactly any step by step instructions to tell me about how things work. People were trying to talk to me in the chat after walking up to me and since I wasn’t there to meet people, I was a little irritated by this. I just wanted to figure out what the exactly I was doing.

So after wandering around a little I decided that I wanted to change my appearance and outfit. I found the change appearance option under the ‘Edit’ tool bar and was completely overwhelmed by how many options I had to choose from. I could change anything about my face, my hair, my body, my skin color, my height, and my outfit. After about half an hour I still couldn’t decide what I liked so I just decided to leave it as I had it right at that moment and do some more exploring. I found the map of different places I could go and decided that I wanted to leave the tutorial and find a few places that were mentioned in class. But I had no idea how to find them and I had no idea how to switch locations. It looked a lot easier to navigate in class.

Since my first experience was leaving me feeling frustrated I decided to leave it and come back to it another day. I decided to try it out again a couple of days later, but still experienced the feelings of confusion and frustration that I had had on my first attempted. It was then that I decided that SL just wasn’t for me and that I would stick with the Sims. Maybe I made this judgement too soon, but without someone walking me through it I just do not have the time and the patience to explore it and understand it on my own. I think it would be very time consuming until learning how it works.

However, I think that what Erik, Garnet, and Marcel are doing with it with their grade 8s is really neat. They are using Teen Second Life (TSL) to become familiar with and explore the many different cultures that are found around the world.

In this unit students will explore the cultures of people around the world through seven common cultural patterns: economic, political, kinship, artistic, religious, educational, and recreation and play. The activities are designed to help students develop an understanding of how cultures are defined and acquire respect for cultural diversity. They will learn that all cultures have similarities, and they will come to value the differences among cultures for the richness and variety they bring to our world and way of life.

TSL is very similar to SL; however, only people between the ages of 13 and 17 can take part. Adults are allowed to join but they have to have some ties to educational institution, have completed a CRC and are limited to staying on the island that was created for Regina Public Schools. If you are interested in more information about this, please see their website to learn more about their engaging project.

Even though I decided that SL isn’t for me, maybe using TSL would be a different way for me to connect with more of my students if I was to teach an older grade (a new way of differentiated instruction?). I couldn’t see myself using this tool with young students. And maybe with a little more practice and someone to walk me through SL to show me how exactly it works, I would be able to decide that SL really is for me. But for now, I will just stick with The Sims.

Here are some websites that I found interesting and helpful:
http://secondlife.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life
http://teen.secondlife.com/
http://erikvandusen.wordpress.com/
http://garnett-gleim-rps.blogspot.com/
http://web.rbe.sk.ca/support/

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iT Summit Conference Voice Thread

it_summit_spdu_banner

I decided to try something new and reflect on my experience at the iT Summit Conference via a Voicethread.  For some reason I can not get it to embed into my blog post, but please click here to listen to what I learned about E-merging Learning.

E-merging Learning Day One

I have to admit that I was pretty tired after learning all that I did today at the IT-Summit Conference, but my brain was quite content after feeding on the knowledge about literacies, SMART technologies, open networking, and how schools are in a serious need for a change. Here are some of the key points and my learning from a few of the sessions that I attended today.

Reading Across a Dozen Literacies – Jamie Mckenzie

– When talking about literacy in class, find common words and categories to allow interconnection to take place             – Education focuses only enhancing reading and mathematical numeracy; this is not the best thing because students should be good at all literacies
– Students need to embrace complexity; our job as a teacher is to take simple minds and have them question complex issues
– Good ideas form over weeks and thoughts need to be shaken off balance in order for a good idea to be thought of  -Researching should be more than just scooping and smooshing
– Research should involve one’s own ideas – comprehending > considering > wandering > wondering > pondering (all interchangeable)
-Visual Thesaurus (www.visualthesaurus.com) is a great visual diagram of one’s wandering thoughts
-People have lost their ability of natural and environmental literacy/the ability to ‘read’ signs in nature and the environment
– Because of this, people today grab onto complex scientific situations and make simple decisions
Explore possibilities – be open-minded

Integrating SMARTboards Into What You Are Already Doing – Melissa Gavel

– When working with technology, expect the unexpected and plan accordingly
– A board is just a tool – use other tools also i.e.) SMART Senteo, digital cameras, laptops, projectors, etc.
– You need your own board in your own classroom to fully embrace the interactive experiences available; does not work best if students have to go to another room to use it or if it is transportable
– Senteo Clicker: gives students who don’t volunteer answers a voice; all can answer anonymously and not have to raise their hands; give the same clicker to a student every time and the clicker will save the information/data
– Senteo Clickers involve many forms of answers: multiple choice, true/false, yes/no
– Smarttech.com has slides/lessons/etc available for you to use
– Include as many students up at the board as possible and have the rest of the students working on the same sheet at their desks
– Discussion at the board = power of collaborative learning; can see lots of light bulbs going off
– Students never get bored of the board; it seems like a fun game in their eyes even after years of using it

Be Kind Rewind – Clarence Fischer

– Society is changing so how can classrooms/education change to keep up with it?
– Are kids different today?
– It is your role as an educator to find out what is interesting to your students and incorporate that into your lessons/classroom
– Students know all about having access to the world because of society; therefore, why take that away from then when in the classroom
– 20% of Canadians are on Facebook
– 85% of people born after 1980 are on a social networking site of some sort
– Classrooms can be a snooze to some kids because they are used to getting a lot of stuff from lots of places at different times of the day – realize this and make adaptations!
– We have kids ‘power down’ in class when they are not really used to this
– Allow electronic devices (laptops, ipods, etc) in your classroom to promote open mindedness and save your school division a pile of money
– Digital Native vs Digital Immigrant does not always mean young people vs old people – can be vice versa
– Tools don’t really costs anything anymore; software is free online
– Facebook and blogging will probably be dead and done in less than 5 years due to the constant change in societies

So now what? How do we support the chance of society in our classrooms?
1. Classrooms should be considered studios – kids work when its best for them, expanded time and space, lots going on at the same time
2. Teacher = Network Administrator – connect students with knowledge and help them navigate through to the information you know they need

– School = preparation for life, but what if school = life?
– Networks = Power = Schools=Community=GLOBAL
– Audiences drive but communities drop in – Collaboration with others provides motivation for students to find their voice
– We want kids learning together and thinking together long term
– Students need choices to show what they know; use a variety of tools and students will learn what they are good at – Students need to see rules out front in order to successfully meet the goals and objectives
– We are responsible to teach kids in a way that is meaningful to them
– Be aware and make choices for the benefits of your classroom – change needs to happen slowly but fast enough to make it happen
– Technology will not transform your classroom but will make it more authentic and engaging – more opportunities to reach more students and for them to make connections

I was not exaggerating when I said my brain was full – I learned SO MUCH today! I cannot help but look forward to all of my learning in tomorrow’s sessions!

The evolution of the web on the mobile medium is completely inevitable… I’m looking to Generation Y. They’re the mobile generation and they’re going to be the guardians of the web in the coming decades.  -James Pearce

Glogster


I have always wanted to give Glogster a try and after seeing a collegues go at it I finally had the motivation to check it out.  I decided to make a page about my recent trip to the Mayan Riviera, Mexico (which by the way was absolutely fabulous!) and include some of the photos I took showing my adventures.

Click here to see my finished result!  It took me about an hour to make, but maybe it would take less time if/when I try it again.

I think Glogster has many advantages and disadvantages to it.

a-and-d2

I am curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts about Glogster – if you like it, how you se it, what age you use it with, etc?

Personal Program Plans

I spent today trying to motivate myself to begin my Personal Program Plan and Case Study assignment in my Ed. Psychology class today, but ended up with nothing but feeling overwhelmed. Since we were not given a template to use and were told to make one that works best for us. So how am I supposed to know if I am doing it right or not? I didn’t realize how much work went into creating a PPP for a student and making appropriate SMART goals. I was given this really cute poem about PPPs and it reminds me that I am not alone when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of practice needed before I can say “I’ve got it right!”

Testimonial Dr. Seuss’s IEP
Author Unknown

Do you like these IEPs?
I do not like these IEPs.
I do not like them, Jeeze Louise!

We test, we check.
We plan, we meet.
But nothing ever seems complete.

Would you, could you like the form?

I do not like the form I see.
Not page 1, not 2, not 3.
Another change.
A brand new box.
I think we have all lost our spots.

Could you all meet here or there?

We could not all meet here or there.
We could not all fit anywhere.
Not in a room.
Not in a hall.
There seems to be no space at all.

Would you, could you meet again?

I cannot meet again next week.
No lunch, no prep.
Please here me speak.
No not at dusk. No not at dawn.
At 4 pm I should be gone.

Could you hear while we all speak out?
Would you write the words they spout?

I cannot hear, I cannot write.
This does not need to be a fight.
Sign here, check there,
Mark this, note date.
Become the student’s advocate.

You do not like them,
So you say.
Try again! Try again!
And then you may.

If you will just let me be,
I’ll try again, and we will see.

Say!

I almost like IEPs.
I think I’ve done 6003!
But I must practice
Day and night
Till I can say,
“I’ve got it right!”

Reality of Technology

How true is this!  I found this on Betchablog and thought it was hiliarous.  It made me think of all the times I have used technolgy to talk to someone or make a plan instead of just walking down the hall and asking.  Or facebook messaging my room mate in the next room to see what she feels like eating for supper.  I’m sure everyone who is online reading this is just as guilty as I am.  (Tell me if I’m wrong ha!)  It’s funny how technolgoy is used sometimes.

A New Way Of Learning

In my education classes, we learn all about different learning theories (constructivism, behaviorism, and cognitivism) and explore many brain-based activities and experiential learning to help us expand our horizons about the different ways students learn. But what about connectivism? I had never heard of this learning theory until reading a post on the Changing of Education, and after finding out a little bit more about this learning theory, I am completely shocked that this is not a learning theory that we are taught about. Are we not the generation that is expected to do great things in regards to using technology in the classroom? So why not learn about a connectist approach, a learning theory for the digital age. It explains the ‘effect that technology has on how we live, how we communicate, how we learn.’ Technology is making an impact on more and more people’s lives every day.

This relates nicely to a post made by a colleague of mine about a university adapting to its students, not the students adapting to it. Students do not learn the same way as they did 15 years ago. Uncle Phil (he will always be Uncle Phil in my eyes) expresses this quite nicely when he says:

The system has failed you. I have failed you. I have failed to help you share your talent with the world and the world needs talent more than ever and yet it is being wasted every day by an education system steeped with tradition and old ideas. So it’s time for a new tradition. It’s time to realize that talent isn’t just in schools like this one, its everywhere! It’s time to use technology to re-write the rules of education. To learn how you learn so we can teach you better. It’s time university adapted to you instead of you adapting to it. It’s time for a different kind of university. It’s your time.

This is the digital age, so why not teach with the connectivist learning theory in mind and create powerful learning in our classrooms. Let students become familiar with many of the programs/sites I am becoming familiar with in me ecmp 455 class, such as Twitter, WordPress, Google Docs, Google Reader, Delicious, and Elluminate. We as educators need to step away from the old way of doing things and assuming that all students will learn by reading a text and answering the assigned questions. We need to open our minds, open the doors to the classroom, and open the doors to the virtual/technological world. It is time for a different kind of education. It’s my time.