Monday, March 7, 2011

Final Thoughts (for now!)

The title of this post is not implying that I am finished with this blog, as I hope to continue it as I head off for student teaching, but rather signifies an end of another semester and in fact the end of another degree!
I created this blog as an assignment for the Internet for Educators course that I have been taking this term.  It has been an excellent course and I have certainly been introduced to many new ideas regarding education, technology in education, and ways to continue to learn and grow as an educator.  

Throughout the course there were some very clear themes presented to us through a variety of presentations regarding the internet and education.  The idea of creating PLN’s or Personal Learning Networks for ourselves and our students, the idea of incorporating Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Ning into the classroom and to use them as a learning tool.  We looked at ways students can learn online through virtual worlds and web-based courses, how we can incorporate mobile devices into the classroom, and use Web 2.0 tools for student assignments and learning.  As well we touched on many issues regarding using technology in classes, such as safety, blocking and filtering of sites in schools, what type of mobile device could be best suited for the classroom, and on how we need to educate students to be responsible digital citizens.  We covered A LOT in the few weeks that we have been in this course!  

When I paused and reflected on everything that we had done in this course and on what I had learned in the course for our summative assignment, I decided that I wanted to create something that could serve as a future resource to myself and others covering what we had done.  We were introduced to so many valuable resources and ideas throughout the course that I wanted to try and compile them into one resource.  This resulted in creating a LiveBinder at, titled 'Internet for Educators'.  LiveBinders was a site that I was introduced to during the course and had felt that it could be very valuable to an educator as it is an easy way to keep all resources on a particular topic in one place, and as well save some research for others working in the same subject area.  I feel that the use of LiveBinders holds some serious potential for students in our classes, especially for any research projects that they may do.

Feel free to use this binder as you like.  I attempted to put in many of the resources that we had discussed and as well find some other resources that could assist us when attempting to incorporate technology into our classes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Networked Learner

Alec Couros, who is a professor at the University of Regina, joined our class Tuesday, via Elluminate.  He discussed the idea of a networked learner with us.  Early in the course we were introduced to what a Personal Learning Network (PLN) was, and how we could create an educational online community to learn from.  This network is created through the use of social networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, through individual blogging and subscribing to educational blogs, Google Docs, Flickr, and Skype, to name a few. 

The idea of a Networked Learner is when the concept of a PLN is applied with our students.  Students can create their own learning networks, using many of the same tools that we have been introduced to they then have the ability to become a networked learner.  Applying this in class would be very beneficial to students as they will discover that learning can be done in various locations and at any time, learn how to seek answers from their own personal learning community, and discover the wealth of information available to them. 

By having students create and develop their own PLN’s, and demonstrating to them how we use our own PLN’s, I think this will help instill the idea of lifelong learning in our students.  Having student’s create their own PLN’s puts them somewhat in control of their own learning, and they can discover how easily they can collaborate and help others, and learn from others.

The following video was one that we watched during the presentation.  In it a 7th grader explains to the audience how her learning network is set up, how she uses it, and how she benefits from it.

Within the idea of PLN's comes the theme of collaboration.  Alec discussed using your PLN as a method of collaborating with colleagues and experts from around the world.  The same applies with our students.  By having students create and manage their own PLN's we are providing them with the opportunity to collaborate with other students and teachers world-wide.  This in itself provides students with unique learning opportunities that may not otherwise be available to them.
Alec Couros has made many valuable resources publicly available through his “Open Thinking” blog ( and his “Open Thinking Wiki” (

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Presentation Time!

Our presenters this week were our fellow classmates, presenting on a variety of topics. Everyone did an excellent job and covered a some interesting and relevant topics. There were a couple of presentations that further interested me in the subject area.

The first presentation was on what type of mobile device would be best suited for the classroom and learning. The guys compared smart phones, iPads, and laptops. They developed a whole list of criteria and method of rating each device. I found this interesting, as part of this class we are able to use an iPad for a couple of weeks (I'm currently writing my first ever blog post using the iPad!) and due this I have become much more interested in the possibilities that the use of an iPad in class present for learning and students. As I was scrolling through my twitter feed this morning I discovered an interesting presentation on 47 different ways to use an iPad in class. There are certainly some great and interesting ideas presented here. The presentation can be found on the EDTE.CH blog under 'Interesting Ways' located at You can also find various other resources and ideas for using technology in the classroom.

The other presentation that really caught my attention was the one on social networking in the classroom. Now when I think of social networking my mind automatically jumps to facebook or twitter, what I did not realize was the wide variety of social networking sites available based on interests. One in particular this group mentioned was italkie, a site where people can connect to learn new languages. The other aspect of this presentation that I liked was how the group used screenr to present. Screenr allows a person to make a video of the screen they are looking at and add a voice recording on how to use the site. This tool alone could be very effective in teaching students about a particular website or for the students to create videos on how to use certain websites.

Overall the presentations were very well done, and once again I was introduced to a variety of ideas to consider!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What Can We Do Now?

In Thursday’s class we were fortunate enough to have yet another inspirational speaker present to our class.  Darren Kuropatwa, who is the Conseiller pédagogique for the Bureau de l'éducation française, spoke to our class about how we are assessing students.  He pointed out to us that schools do an excellent job of providing real audiences for the school’s athletes, and the school’s musicians, and for drama productions.  As soon as an audience is provided for students it adds another element, as students want to be sure they do a great job in front of this audience.  However when we are assessing students in EAL, Science, Math, Social Studies, etc. we do not provide the students with an audience to display to what they have learned.  If we could provide some sort of audience to showcase the student’s learning to, would this not be more beneficial to student learning and would it not make assessment and learning more realistic for the students?

During the presentation Darren showed us a video from YouTube of a Grade 5 class singing ‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks.  He went on to tell us a story behind the video – apparently the class teacher made a habit of recording his students performing and posting the videos to his blog and to YouTube for the student’s friends and family to view.  The story goes that Stevie Nick’s manager came across the video and showed it to Stevie.  She was so impressed and touched by the video that she invited the class to her sound check when she was performing in New York’s Madison Square Gardens.  The class had the opportunity to perform their rendition of ‘Landslide’ to Stevie Nicks and she spoke with each child after the performance.  Now talk about providing an audience to showcase what you have learned!  I thought this story was phenomenal and just illustrated how the Internet can not only connect us but provide us with some amazing opportunities.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could provide more opportunities like this for our students?  I think the first step in doing so, is allowing students to publish their work and their thoughts to the Internet whether it be a video that they make, a performance, through blogging, or social networking, and seeing what kind of learning opportunities this publishing of work can provide to the students.

Darren also discussed with us how he has incorporated the use of Flickr into his Math classes.  I found this very interesting.  Darren would create assignments for the students to apply what they were learning in math class to real life situations, and through the use of Flickr he was able to provide them with a place to publish their learning and comment on each other’s learning.  For an example, Darren asked his class to take a picture of quadratic functions that they encounter in their daily life.  They would then post this image and tag it with notes, explaining the quadratic functions.  Brilliant! This idea of using Flickr to demonstrate and apply learning could be adapted and used in so many different subject areas.

Darren provided us with a few more examples of how we can use the internet to increase student learning and how we can provide an audience for assessing student’s work, rather than relying on pencil and paper tests and assignments.  I believe that it would be beneficial to students if we can provide them with more opportunities like the ones Darren mentioned.  However some of these opportunities will be dependent on the school division or school that you may work in.  I think Darren’s presentation and ideas are yet another reason to be advocating for more computers and internet resources to be available to both teachers and students in the classroom.  We need to make learning as interactive and engaging as possible for our students and technology provides us with endless possibilities to do so, effectively.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free Technology for Teachers

Now who doesn’t like the sound of that?! It’s actually the name of the blog that I have been following via RSS feeds.  The blog itself is created and updated by Richard Bryne who is a full time high school social studies teacher in Maine and a Google certified teacher.  As well he does presentations and professional development workshops for various organizations and schools.  The blog can be found at: 

Personally I decided to follow this blog because I thought it sounded interesting and that I would be able to somehow benefit from reading it and I have certainly not been disappointed with those expectations!  Not only does Bryne put out several weekly posts, but his blog is full of valuable resources including tutorials for using a large number of the tech tools he discusses.  There are video creation resources, Google tutorials for using the Google tools and apps, information on developing blogs and websites, and information on creating an online PLN.

I’ve found this blog to be a wealth of information and would recommend that you follow it as well!  Richard Bryne is also on twitter @rmbryne.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Using Web-Based Courses from Manitoba Education

Earlier in the term I discussed the idea of using Web-Based Courses and some of the benefits of using them.  Since then I have spent some time exploring the Web-Based Courses offered through Manitoba Education using the online Blackboard Learning System.  There are a large variety of courses offered including Applied, Consumer, and PreCalc Math, Physics, Biology, Science, Digital Pictures, Drafting, Computer Science, Agriculture, ELA, French, Social Studies, and Physical Education/Health Education, to highlight the main ones.  Not every course is offered at every grade, it varies.  Now of this list of courses the one that I personally find most interesting is the PE/HE course (probably because I have a PE background!).  So I began exploring the Web-Based Course for Grade 12 PE/HE.

To assist students with becoming familiar with the Blackboard Learning System, there is an online orientation complete with screen shots to explain the different tools to students.  I think it would be important to have your students complete this orientation so that they do become familiar and comfortable with the system. 

The course itself is nicely broken down into its modules, as per outlined in the curriculum, and from there manageably broken down into lessons for students.  I can honestly say I am surprised at how the course really only uses writing to convey information to the students.  I was somewhat expecting that there would at least be links to valuable videos or presentations, or videos or podcasts embedded within the course to give it some variety for students.  I feel that a student who does not excel at learning through reading and writing, would find this web-based course particularly challenging.

I was also surprised at how little interaction there is within the course.  I do realize that I was just demoing it, and that a student actually taking one of these courses would still have an instructor, so I suppose that may make it more interactive. 

Something to keep in mind I guess is that the PE/HE Web-Based Course is really for the health side of the course.  Students are required to do and record a certain amount of hours of physical activity on their own as well.

I did like how none of the assignments were posted.  Obviously done for several reasons, but I think it is beneficial for students so as not to overwhelm them with all their assignments at once.  Posting them as they come up would make the course more realistic and manageable for the students.

Overall I like the set-up of the course, very straightforward and easy to follow. I would most likely use this as an additional resource in prepping for my own lessons.  I am not sure that I would have my students use it, given the choice; I just feel they would not find it interactive or stimulating enough.   However I would like to see the course develop to become more interactive and dynamic for students.  With all the resources and tools available on the web, I think that with some creative thinking and time (and probably some funding…) that this could be successfully done.

Glogster in 90 seconds

Here's another video, a little less in depth than the previous!