Category Archives: Making Connections

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

Skype – the latest classroom tool

Over the course of the past year I have been thoroughly enjoying Skype.  Not only was I able to talk to my friends and family from back home, but was able to save myself a ton of money on my phone bill (long distance calling adds up when you are student with zero income).  Because of the function allowing you to use a webcam, the distance barrier decreases and it makes the conversation a lot more comfortable.  You are not talking to your computer screen anymore, but to someone’s face.  How handy!

I have also become aware of classrooms using Skype as well.  Classrooms use Skype to communicate with other people/schools/classrooms around the world!  Students are able to talk to others and ask questions about themselves, what the weather is like in their city, about the communities they live in, etc.  I think this is a great tool allowing students to get to know the world around us and how diverse it truly is.

I had my first Skype experience with one of the classes I am mentoring this past week.  This meeting consisted of the students asking me a few questions about myself and where I live, and Canada in general.  Their teacher had their webcam working so I was able to see everyone on the computer screen.  Unfortunately, my cam decided to take a coffee break and would not work for me.  The students really wanted to see the snow since many of them had not seen it before and I was disappointed when I was unable to do this.  Of course, I had tested my earlier that morning and had it all set up for my Skype call, but surprise surprise, it wouldn’t work when I wanted it to.  Even though technology is such a helpful tool, it can be a frustrating tool as well.  Maybe this is why a lot of today’s teachers do not feel comfortable enough using technology in their classrooms?

Since my cam would not work, I set my picture settings to an Avator through my webcam program.  So instead of being a white, blonde female, I was a green alien with big eyes.  Oh, and my mouth moved when I talked.  It was kind of cool and the students thought it was pretty funny to be talking to this alien from a far off land (Canada!).

Through Skype, these grade four students will be given the chance to see a little bit of Canada and its weather we all love.  It will also allow them to make a connection to the location of Saskatchewan on the world map and remember where my province is in relation to Canada.  Without this tool, the students would not be able to make such a personnel connection to Canada and maybe not remember too much about it.  It could possibly continue being a ‘far off land’ …

All I can think of is that I sure wish I was still a kid going to elementary school and being provided with the opportunities to become more aware of the people and communities all around me. I think I would have remembered a lot more of the things I had learned about the diverse world we live in. This makes me even more glad to be experiencing these tools as an adult – better late then never! 🙂

Leaving On a Jet Plane!

Ah yes, my last Reading Week break of my life.  Next February,  I will be spending my week at conferences and adding to my professional development.  All I will be able to enjoy is Family Day…unless I am subbing that is, and then I’ll have the whole week.

For my break this year I am heading to Mexico with my family for one last family vacation before my sister and I get families of our own and are unable to have the convenient vacation time  that we do while we are students. (Even though I will always consider myself a student; just because my future will consist of lots and lots of work, I hope to never stop learning!).

I plan on using this vacation also as a learning experience and for a different version of professional development; my learning will be completely hands on and experiential.  I will not be sitting at a table listening to a speaker.  Instead, I will be learning about the Mayan civilization by seeing it with my own eyes, taking part in the culture as I try new food, listen to the language, walk amongst the ancient ruins, and in many other ways.  This is by far the best way to learn about something new and to develop professionally about the different cultures that are found in our world.

The only unfortunate part is that I will be pretty close to being disconnected from my life here in Regina.  I will have no cell coverage and am not taking my lap top with me because I don’t think there is wireless Internet at my resort (although it is a 5 star resort, I do not now how connected Mexico is to the world wide web).  There will be a computer there for me to use though and I hope to get online once or twice to check my messages and possibly post about my experiences.  Maybe this disconnection won’t drive me as crazy as I think it will and will be kind of like a cleanse?  We shall see!

See you all in a week!!

trip

Hesitation

After watching the video David After Dentist I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this little boy.  First of all, I think that it is a little embarrassing for this boy to have his mental state after a trip to the dentist viewed by millions of people. People whom he doesn’t even know.  I cant understand why his dad would want to put this on you tube.  Yes he is sharing his experience for his social network.  Yes he is allowing for other family/friends to take part in the whole dentist experience.  I think that this was a rather private experience and should have been kept within the family.

I’m sure the father didn’t mean for it to be turned into what it was; with today’s technology anything can be turned into anything.  I wonder what his reaction was when watching all the remix versions people made of his son’s visit to the dentist.  Did he regret posting it on the net for everyone to see?  Did he realize that this could indeed cause problems for his son in school when other students see this video.  As an educator, I would be nervous that poor David would be bullied because of it.

The most amazing part of the whole thing is how many people have watched this video.  It hasn’t been on the internet for more than a few weeks and almost 10,000,000 people have viewed it!  Wow!

It is because of situations like this, and of Alec’s whole Flickr realization, that make me a little nervous about sharing my life on the Internet for others to see.  But this is the way of the future and I need to embrace tomorrow’s discoveries with open arms.  Even though I am stepping out of my comfort zone for my computer class I can’t help but feel this personal learning experience broadening my horizons and motivate me to continue trying new things and inspiring others to follow in my footsteps. 🙂

Get Connected! Be  Open Minded!  Be Creative!  Be Teachable!

Mentoring

Last night in class we were informed which classes we would be collaborating with during our mentorship project.  I was lucky enough to be placed with Mrs. Kelly Hines of Washington, NC and Miss Jessica Lipsky of Jacksonville, FL.  This assignment will be an opportunity to participate in active student mentoring.  We will be building relationships with students in these classes through their blogs, commenting on their work, helping give guidance, answering questions, and possibly participating in other forms of feedback and communication (Skype maybe?).  This is going to be a really neat experience and opportunity to make connections and expand my PLN.

map

Embracing Technology

After a quick work out at the gym this morning, I was getting ready for work in the change room.  I couldn’t help but over hear a conversation between two ladies (I wasn’t eavesdropping honest) about cell phones and the social networking sites that teens and 20 something year olds are constantly using.  It was rather interesting to hear their thoughts about the technology of the 21st C.  The ladies, who were probably in their early thirties, did not seem to have very positive opinions about text messaging and Facebook and the language that people use while using these tools.   The ladies both felt that it is annoying when people are constantly sending text messages or talking on their cell phones in public places.  Even though they both agreed that their lives would not be the same without the internet (pay bills, check the weather, etc), they would love it if chat rooms, Facebook, and MySpace were taken off the internet.  I also over heard them talking about how all the new technology is making their kids develop poor social and people skills, as well as teaching them to use improper language through abbreviations and slang.  Their kids would rather send an email or text to their friends instead of calling them and asking.  Then they went on to talk about how they refuse to use cell phones and social networking sites because they can get along just fine without them.

I found this conversation very interesting, as I myself are one of those 2o something year olds who use my cell phone and soical networking sites on an regular (maybe even hourly?)  basis.  I am easy to get a hold of on my cell phone, have had the opportunity to connect with a lot of old friends via Facebook, and have met some very inspiring teachers through my PLN on Twitter.  I have not lost my social and people skills, for I still communicate with others face to face on a daily basis.  I may use abbreviations and slang on my cell or when sending an IM (and Twitter only allows you to use 140 characters so you have to be short), but do not use that language when I talk.  I still laugh out loud; I do not say L O L.

I couldn’t help but make the connection between these ladies and a lot of teachers who have been teaching for a long time.  Both are hesitant to try the technology because they ‘get along fine without it’ and feel that there is nothing wrong with their way of life.  Yes you probably could get along fine with technology, and no there is nothing wrong with your way of life.  But I see technology as a neatly wrapped gift, addressed to you, sitting on your desk waiting for you to open it.  You will never know what’s inside until you open it, until you try to understand what it is.  I don’t see how teachers can not be tempted…

These ladies are not alone with their thoughts about questioning the idea of loosing personal connections due to technology.  Even thought I believe that we will never loose our personal connections and ability to have conversations face to face with people, I think it this something that everyone wonders.   But I  think the real question here is: are ready to embrace the technology anyways to keep up with society?

Be open-minded – Be Creative – Be Teachable!  Stay up to date.  Adapt to the needs of your learners.  Your learners learn in new ways, ways that are different from when you were learning in grade school.  Open the doors to the 21st C.  Open the doors of communication with your students!