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!


So I literally stumbled upon this site tonight (without the help of StumbleUpon!)  I was browsing through some of the links Mike has on is ICT at BU site, and going through some of the real-life examples provided.  I took a look at Mrs. Cassidy’s Class site, where I saw that they were going to be using Glogster.  The name itself catches your attention, so I instantly wanted to find out what this site was all about and how Mrs. Cassidy could be using it in her Early Years classes.  I see that Glogster has been around for a few years now; however I personally have never come across it or heard of it.

Glogster in the simplest terms is an online poster.  But not just any poster – you can easily add links, text, graphics, images, videos, recordings, and music!  Basically you add anything you want to your Glog!  You can use your own images, videos, & podcasts, or you can search the web and copy and paste the URL of the images or videos you would like and that image or video appears in your Glog!  Seems like there would be endless possibilities and that students could express their creativity and have fun doing so!  Glogster is easy enough to use that students as young as Grade 1 are successfully using it.  This link will take to an example of a Glog focused on Egypt:

There is also the GlogsterEDU specifically designed for teachers - yay for us!  The cool part about GlogsterEDU is that the teacher creates the account and specifies how many students will be using it (can support up to 200 students per teacher).  Glogster then generates a username and password for each student that the teacher gives out.  The really cool thing is then the teacher easily has access to each student’s Glog assignments.  No need to hand anything in or print anything off! 

Posters are a common assignment for students in various classes.  I think this site provides a fresh approach to a classic assignment and applies the technologies that are now available to us.  Students will be able to develop a very interactive poster or Glog that pulls information from a variety of sources or they can make it highly personal by using all their own photos and creating their own podcasts and video to embed within their Glogs.

I briefly played around with Glogster and it certainly is easy and quick to use.  You can play around and try creating Glogs without registering.  To check it out, explore, and create your very first Glog visit  Oh and did I mention it is free??  

Detailed Tutorial on Glogster EDU - Online teaching and learning tool

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sharing: The Moral Imperative

I recently watched a video by Dean Shareski all about educators and sharing.  Dean strongly believes that it is absolutely necessary for educators to be sharing with each other as a means to share resources to save time and a way to learn from one another.  He states that it is our ethical responsibility as teachers to be sharing.  Sharing ideas is an excellent form of teaching and learning, and we routinely ask our students to share with each other, so we as teachers need to be sharing as well. Especially when sharing is a way to share resources and ideas to save us time!

Dean commented that the easiest step into sharing is via social bookmarking by using sites such as Diigo.  Personally, this was my first step into educational sharing, and it certainly is an easy and beneficial first step.  Not only do social bookmarking sites allow you to keep track of resourceful websites, but you can share these websites with others and find valuable websites from other’s bookmarks.  More recently I have signed up on Twitter.  To begin with I certainly did not understand all the benefits that could be experienced from using Twitter.  It has certainly proved to be an effective way to connect with other educators (from around the world) and to share resources with each other.

Blogging is another effective means for both teachers and students to share (and another activity that I was unaware of how valuable it could be!).  It is mentioned in the video that blogging is a cheap and risk-free way to invest in your own career.  Blogging can be used as a reflective tool, a way to connect with other educators, a way for you to share ideas and resources and get feedback on, and an excellent way to introduce students to online sharing and learning.

Dean strongly promotes the culture of sharing in the video, and it is easy to see why.  Both we and our students, as well as our schools, can experience direct benefits from us sharing online.  Sharing also needs to happen with the teacher’s right in our schools and divisions, and does not necessarily need to be online in these cases, but online sharing is the most effective form of sharing in a global sense and allows you to connect with the best educators around the globe.  The question really is why isn’t every teacher sharing as much as they can?

The Principal of Change

Last Tuesday our class was fortunate enough to have George Couros Skype in.  George is a principal in Alberta, and in particular is a principal who absolutely embraces technology.   The use of computers and the internet for learning is very prominent within his school-early years students even use blogging as a tool to learn, share, and reflect!  Very impressive if not amazing that this school is so on board with the technological movement and have the support of their parental community.   

George’s presentation to our class was both refreshing and inspiring.  It was so great to hear about a school that is using technology to their advantage and for the benefit of their students.  Too often this is not the case and you hear (and experience) how schools and divisions block many sites that can prove to be beneficial to learning.  At George’s school they prefer to allow students and teachers access to these sites and to focus on teaching students how to appropriately use the internet and social media.  As part of this process students have an online presence and identity, using their first name, last initial and date of birth.  Now many people would automatically think that it is not safe to use your real name online, especially for students.  However this school believes that students need to become responsible digital citizens and need to realize that they can be held accountable for their online actions.  This is fantastic!  Schools spend so much time preparing their students to be good citizens, now with digital age I believe schools should also be preparing their students to be responsible and accountable digital citizens.

Blogging is an activity that the school does whole-heartedly-teachers, students, and even parents become part of the blogging process and the learning that is associated with the blogging.  Students as young as grade three (I believe) participate in blogging for their classes.  With blogging the classroom and learning is suddenly accessible anytime and anywhere. This is ideal for educators, as we want to encourage students to actively participate in their education and especially to participate outside of school hours.

I think it would be wonderful for our students if more schools would embrace technology the way George’s schools has.  Students are using these technologies outside of school so we should using them in school to keep learning relevant and interesting for our students, as well as to prepare them for life outside of school.  The world is becoming increasingly technologically advanced and shows no signs of slowing down its use of technology, so we as educators need to prepare students the best we can to be successful in this ever-changing world of technology.  And to do this we need to be using technology as a means to teach and to reach our students.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shape Collage

This week our instructor showed us a bunch of different, useful and cool sites.  He showed us how we could use Evernote, Slideshare, Livebinders, Animoto, BlipFM, and Shape Collage, just to name a few-all free resources available on the web and could easily be incorporated into lessons and assignments or simply for personal use.

I thought Shape Collage looked pretty cool, so I downloaded it.  It saves to your computer and allows you to customize a variety of collages using your own photos.  You can specify how many photos you want in the collage, how large you want the photos, and what shape you would like the collage to be in.  When you are happy with the collage you have created you simply save it to your computer (or wherever you like to save your work!).  I think Shape Collage grabbed my attention because I have a lot of photos that I can play with and I thought it could be an excellent touch to projects or assignments to give students (or yet another great way to procrastinate from doing actual homework...)

Here is a quick collage I created (sticking with the New Zealand theme!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand

The Internet-Making us Smarter or Dumber??

There is an on-going debate about whether the Internet is making us as a society smarter or in fact dumber?  As with every societal issue there are pros and cons to both sides along with some interesting points. 

The Internet provides users with a wealth of instantly accessible information and an abundance of creative freedoms.  Of course a percentage of this information available is rubbish but there is plenty of information and videos accessible via the web that can be very beneficial to learning.  Videos are become ever-more popular, but the majority of information available is still provided through written text.  Users must read the information in order to benefit from reading it.  TV, another popular media, requires minimal, minimal reading and it could be easily argued that the TV has far less benefits than the Internet, but that would be a whole other debate. 

The Internet has also brought a whole new meaning to the word collaboration.  People from all around the world can easily collaborate and work together through the Internet.  A prime example of this is Wikipedia.  People have worked together to create and edit this online encyclopedia that has become a starting point for research in many student projects.  The increasing use of wikis in general for course work and interest, demonstrate ongoing collaboration, people learning from one another.  How can we argue that this is making us stupider when it seems obvious that it is making us smarter?

On the flip side there are the groups who would argue that yes in fact the Internet is making us dumber, and they would argue that they can demonstrate this through research that has been conducted.  They argue that evidence demonstrates that the constant and numerous distractions on webpage’s are turning us into very scattered thinkers.  They also argue that people who frequent the web comprehend less of what they read, that they are less creative and less productive, and have poor concentration skills.

The main argument for the idea that the Internet is making us dumber revolves around attention.  The constant distraction on the internet such as links, advertisements, and trying to multi-task several things, is affecting people’s ability to concentrate and focus their attention in on one thing.

I am not sure if saying a person is more distracted is saying the same as they are becoming dumber.  I believe there are pros and cons to the incredible use of the Internet, but that the pros easily outweigh the cons.  We have instant access to news and information, and an incredible easel with an audience for creativity, and the development of new skills.  However I think it is still beneficial for people to perform tasks that require their undivided attention, as these types of exercises (e.g reading a full book, etc) can be greatly beneficial to the brain. 

Following the lines of this debate, Matthew Nisbit a communications professor discusses if the Internet is making us smarter or dumber, addresses some of the positive changes and as well some of the negative consequences @

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?
Does the Internet Make You Dumber?