December 2009

Geocaching is a fantastic hobby!  It gets you outdoors and takes you to places you may never have found or even knew existed!

You know you are geocaching when:

1) Your arm is stuck in a wall, fishing around in deep dark corners.  (Note: Don’t wear your cream coat while geocaching…)


2) You are staring at the back of signs and under lamp posts in a foreign country. (This one is at the Trevi Fountain)


3) You are being questioned as to why you are loitering in front of a government building by security. (really happened outside of the German Embassy – they had machine guns)


4) You are giving signs, posts, and garbage cans the awkward reach around hug in a piazza full of people. (This one was a great find on the Spanish Steps – muggles everywhere!)


5) You are looking over, under, and around everything! (There is a joke here about looking over the wall for the Scots…I had just visited Hadrian’s Villa!)


6) There is a point when after sticking your hand in all of the strange places you can find when it’s time to give up – that’s the depressing moment. (Fail whale!)fail!

7) Occasionally there is a barrier to progress – wildlife, a big fence, or just a strange phobia (seriously didn’t find the cache because of the peacock…not good with peacocks!)


8 ) You are frantically trying to find something to write with to sign a log –  after 4 dead pens, just get a pencil! (Four pens in two days….there was a plan to steal one from a bank)


9) You’ve carried a doll with neon blue hair to two different continents just to keep a little girl, you’ve never met, happy.  (It’s name is George!)


10) You carry a GPS everywhere – there are caches everywhere! (Even on top of Mt. Vesuvius!)


Today on the Great Roman Adventure I visited Ostia Antica. It is a Ancient Roman port city. It was abandoned when the river changed course, and silted over creating a very well preserved example of Roman life.

The place was wonderful, with hardly anyone there! I especially liked the Amphitheater.

As I wandered around the place I was again struck by inspiration.  There were mosaic floors everywhere.  Most are partial or incomplete.  They would provide a fascinating activity to have the students complete them.

It ties very easily into Art, finishing the mosaic and then using the concept to create their own mosaic. Several of the mosaics provide very interesting insight into Ancient Roman culture and art.

The way I’m going to use the photos is for patterning in Math. Having the students recognize, repair, and recreate a visual pattern leads well into patterning with shapes and numbers. It provides a real world example and context for patterns. I love to use real world examples whenever I can in math, so this is a great way to tie history and math together.

Click on the photos for larger, high resolution versions.

I walk into a huge hall of maps and I get excited.   St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel make me stop and look with amazement.  But this map made me stop and think.  It’s in the Vatican Museum.

It’s a map of Sicily, but the orientation of the map is very unusual.  North is not “up” on the map.  It is from the point of view of Rome and where it lies in regards to the Vatican.  I think throwing this up on the IWB where it can easily be rotated and manipulated would be a great exercise in map orientation and direction.

It also leads into an interesting discussion of map projection and why maps are drawn the way they are.  Why is north always up?  Why is North America often on the left side of the map and the world divided in the Pacific Ocean?

Having students create their own maps from different points of view during history, or from a particular cultural perspective could be a fascinating exercise.

And you thought vacations were just for relaxing…

My teacher brain never shuts off…

As I was touring through the Vatican museum yesterday I was struck by these three pieces.

They are interesting mixes of Roman and Egyptian styles and symbols. The contrasts in the pieces and cultural influences demonstrated show a great deal about how cultures start to combine and twist together as nations grow and people start to move between two places.

There are some great lessons here on cultural influence, artistic styles, colonization, as well as Roman and Egyptian religion.

My brain started working overdrive on some neat projects. My main social studies curriculum is based around Canada. My having students select Canadian symbols and digitally fuse them together they could develop a deeper understanding of Canadian identity or history. Creating cultural mash-ups, within a culture would help them deepen their understanding of the culture they are studying.

Hmm…very Neil Stephenson – Cigar Box Project

The God Anubis
1st-2nd century AD
From Anizo – Roman Period
Anubis bears the attributes of Hermes, the god who guided dead souls to the underworld.
Bust of Isis-Sothis-Demetra
From Tivoli, Hadrian’s Villa
131-138 AD
Statue of the Nile
1st century AD
It is actually a crocodile under the foot of the statue

For the past two summers I have spent two weeks instructing teachers on the island of Dominica (not the Dominican Republic – look it up!) .

I’m going back (pending funding, masters program timing, and other “details”) this July for a third session.

Each year as I go I love what I do, but I see an opportunity to make a larger impact and really transform the way technology is approached in Dominica.  Just trying to change the world, no big deal!

My IT Masters course this semester has been all about Professional Development.  I took on the IT for Dominica project to dissect and improve as part of my studies of Instructional Technology Leadership.

I wrote two papers all about the project.

The first is a critique of my last two years in Dominica.  It was hard to reflect on my own choices and mistakes, but a process necessary to move forward.

Critique IT for Dominica Project

The second is a plan for the July 2010 IT for Dominica summer institute.  These are my thoughts and are most likely subject to change after consultation with my yet to be named teaching partner, the head of the project, Dr. Maurice Hollingsworth, and the Ministry of Education in Dominica.

IT for Dominica Professional Growth and Development Proposal

The program focuses on Web 2.0 and building a collaborative teaching and learning network in the Commonwealth of Dominica.  It’s an interesting read if you interested in Web 2.0 or if you are interested in IT in the developing world.

I would love feedback and suggestions.  At this point the assignment is officially submitted, but the institute is months away.  There is a lot of time to make it the best it can possibly be.

There has also been quite a bit of day dreaming about hiking in the rainforest instead of hiding from the snowy Canadian winter and -35 temperatures…

world2 I’m planning a big event on Thursday, January 28.  I’ve been trying to develop a global sense and awareness in my students.  We’ve  been collaborating and connecting with places all over the world all year.  We are limited in the amount we can video conference with other places being in Western Canada.  We can VC with North and South America, but Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa don’t ever line up with our school day.

I love a challenge and a problem to solve. To get around the time zone issues I have arranged a sleep over night at school.  On Thursday, January 28, the students are going to spend the night sleeping over at the school, connecting with the world!

I was inspired by Silvia Tolisano’s Around the World in 80 Classrooms Project.  I want to connect via Video Conference (Skype, Polycomm, I can use a variety of platforms) to classrooms all over the world.

To keep 27 10 year olds entertained and enthusiastic for the evening I’m planning to connect with as many places as possible, all through the night.  They aren’t going to be sleeping much anyway.  We are working on an integrated unit all about the 2010 Olympics in Social Studies and Math.  Connection topics could be all about the Olympics, working in learning about the countries we are meeting with.  I realize not as many countries are as involved in the Winter Olympics as Canada is, but international sport and collaboration is a fairly universal topic.  We would also love to hear stories from other parts of the world.  If  they students could listen to a local story, and be able to share that literature connection it would be very powerful.

We are also going to be tying in some Games Based Learning with Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics, doing some Olympic style sporting events (scooter board bobsled down the hallway!), and I’m trying to arrange to go to the local curling rink for some real curling as a field trip to get us out of the school for a while.

Here is where I need help!  I want to find as many places as I can to connect with, anywhere in the world, our time zone is  suddenly very flexible staying the entire night!  Even if you are close, to be able to map connections near and far, compare time zones, look at latitude and longitude, and learn about everywhere is the goal of build global connections.