March 30, 2010
January 21, 2010
I’m always looking for ways to engage my students. We have been learning about the Canadian Shield in Social Studies. My student teacher has taken over the unit, but I had to suggest an activity to get the kids motivated and thinking. We backchanneled with our grade five class while they watched Survivorman.
Survivorman is a program where Les Stroud is dropped into a wilderness situation and has to survive for 7 days. I use it to teach geography is many contexts. It shows the land, Les is a fantastic wilderness photographer, and what resources are available. His arctic episode is great for my unit on the north, the swamp episode perfect for wetlands, and the Costa Rica episode is wonderful for Rainforests. He even has one where he is lost at sea that would tie into teaching about oceans. The list could go on…
The idea of backchanneling is one I’ve seen blogged about before, and I was very intrigued with how it might look with elementary aged students. The moment I showed them Today’s Meet they couldn’t wait to get started. I chose to use Today’s Meet as my backchannel tool because it is very simple, clean, and not distracting. The students focus on the message and the information being presented, not ads or flashing banners. It allows the students to enter a simple name and they are in the chat instantly. It also displays their name so I can easily track who posted what comment. Perfect!
December 13, 2009
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.
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.
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…
November 28, 2009
I have developed a fantastic network of upper elementary educators. We VC with our classes, share ideas, and of course work on projects together.
Our latest project is the idea of Zoe Branigan-Pipe, from Hamilton, Ontario. We work together all the time. I met Nathan Toft and Jane Smith in Brazil. After the trip they met Zoe in person in Toronto and commented how much we were alike. It’s funny how people are drawn to working together.
We built a collaborative Animoto project with three other classes based around the Ben Harper song, “With My Own Two Hands”
Each class listened to the song and created visual representations of what they heard. My students loved it. They commented that the felt like listening to the song and working with the lyrics felt like looking at a poem (and light bulb moment!!). It was their idea to turn the lyrics into a wordle! We tied it in with Remembrance Day. It was a great way of starting a discussion on war, remembrance, change, and peace.
October 1, 2009
What have I done?
I’ve created a groups of kids that rolls their eyes if I pull out a worksheet. Ok, so I roll my eyes when I pull out a worksheet. Generally that worksheet is tied to a project with technology. My two worksheets of the week were to build a timeline we later created on word, and a page of notes we made mind maps out of.
They expect to connect with the world everyday. They blog with students all over the world and want to share everything they learn. We Skype and Videoconference with classes from anywhere with timezones that match up with ours. They want to make a podcast instead of writing notes. I love it!
We are working on building wikis, communicating with other classes using Edmodo and Onenote liveshares, posting to forums on Moodle, and using GPS to find ourselves and follow travel bugs all over the world. The map shows all of our global connections so far, and it`s only been a month, I will keep adding to it! Zoom out to see the whole world!
Red – Travel Bug Stops
Yellow – Wiki Collaborators (More to Come Very soon!)
Light Blue – Marvin Moodle Collaborators
Blue – Blog Partners
Pink – Video Conferences
Green – Travel Bug Sharing
I had to start a spreadsheet of all of my projects to try and keep everything straight. I’m completely rewriting my year plans to match the new way I’m approaching teaching. My entire teaching world is shifting. Three years ago I taught in a traditional school. I loved teaching there, but now that I’ve met, collaborated with, and learned from some amazing people my world is expanding. This is expanding the world of my students.
I’m working away on a master’s program in Instructional Technology Leadership. This program has led me to challenge the way I look at not only technology, but leadership, and where I want to go with my career. My Personal Learning Network (PLN) on twitter have been an unending source of inspiration, ideas, collaboration opportunities, and resources. I read blogs, listen to podcasts, and network with some of the best minds in technology education. These influences are changing me, my classroom, and my world.
Bring on October!!
September 4, 2009
Over the last two years I’ve eased my way into blogging with my grade 5 students in the classroom. I started with a simple blog where students left comments on a particular topic. It was more of a forum than a blog, but it was a starting point.
I then started to open the blog to comments from more than just my students, inviting other classes and educators to leave comments. I also had my students comment on the blogs of others.
This year I started blogs on the second day of school. My goal is to provide a place for students to write, grow, and express themselves. Sometimes the topics will be very prescribed, other times they topics will be of the students own choice.
I’m using edublogs as my student blogging platform. I choose it for the safe, more protected environment that it provides. I blog at wordpress and at edublogs and I like both. I’ve tried blogger and google spaces, but I like the dashboard editing environment of wordpress/edublogs.
I set up all of the student accounts ahead of time. I used the gmail + method described here to set up accounts. I used numbers and the school acronym as usernames instead of the students’ names to provide a more closed environment. I set up everything a head of time so we didn’t have to go through the process of choosing usernames, email confirmation, and a general headache.
The first day of blogging was learning how to log in, picking a theme, and renaming the title of the blog. Some students are still at this point and slowly making changes. A few are flying and have already written several posts. I gave them a set prompt to write from on the second day, and we all had to learn how to copy and paste from the class blog to their own.
@mswecker and @fivbert were kind enough to leave comments for my students. I can’t wait to go back on Tuesday to see the reactions of the students who see they have comments! They are going to be very excited.