Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Live and Interctive with Alan Levine

Zoe  (my tech ed teacher) was nice enough to get Alan Levine the "guru" or digitial storytelling talk to our class today about what he does.  The conept of storytelling is a cultural phenomenon that has been present for many generations.  Being able to create/tell stories with the tools and technology that the students are interested in, would be a great way for students to engage in the material.  To many times students are just copy the informatio to be learned at home while studying and regurgitated on a test just to be forgotten 10 minutes later.  Telling stories would give students a sense of ownership to the material and help them understand it.  I was trying to explain how ionic compounds dissolve it water and my students weren't getting the conept.  To explain it I told a story about Justin Bieber being in a mall.  He will be immediately surrounded by the opposite charge (female) and be pulled into the crowd so he i indistingisable. 

Alan gave us a good method of determining how to tell your story.  To make it easier ont he storyteller he suggested having the story laid out ahead of time so you have a basis before beginning to use a tool.  You can then pick a tool and make you digital story.  I am a big sotryteller and it would be interesting to try out some of the tools Alan talks about and make digital stories that can be shared with freinds and family worldwide.  It was great that Alan was able to learn how to use each of the tools and tell the story of Dominoe.  This gives me hope that I would be able to use the tools without a tremendous amount of difficulty being that I am not very techie. 

I think these tools would be very applicable in science classrooms.  In classrooms in general, digital sotrytelling, as Alan expressed, would be a great way for teachers to get to know their students.  I think it is extremely important for teachers to get to know their students, and teach to their interests.  Without knowing your students you can't differentiate your instruction and you are more than liekly to leave a few students behind.  All the scientific facts we know today were discovered by someone or a group of people and told to others using a story of some sort.  So why as sicence teachers are we just telling the facts and having our students "learn" it?  I think that storytelling would be a great way to teach scientfic concepts.  Have the students research a topic and have them teach the class using a story.  I was given an assignment in grade 12 science to research a chemist and write a paper about their contribution to science.  This would have been way more fun if I were able to tell a story from the persepctive of my scientist about how they contributed to science on a personal level.

Alan's presentation reall opened my eyes to the way we can use storytelling in our classrooms to help engage students.  Being able to tell these stories using the the digital media that students are so familiar with will help them engage in the material.  I know the things I remember best from my days as a student are the things I learned from my teachers stories.  Lets use technology to tlel these stories and get students engaged.  I am looking forward to investigating some of these tools.

Survived 1st Placement

Well I made it.  I was a little bit of a struggle for the last week but I made it through.  After school on Thursday my trip to the walk-in clinic confirmed that I had strep throat.  Clearly my immune system wasn't prepared for the the 1200 germ ridden students.  I am now on antibiotics and recovering nicely. 

As a whole palcement was awseome.  I have to thank the two grade 11 classes for being kind and allowing me to jump into their class nicely.  The studentswere very responsive to me and seemed to be learning a lot.  The students really enjoyed my demonstration of sodium thiosulfate crystalization and their solubility labs.  They got a taste of how other people live in relation to their accessibility to water treatment.  I used to jigsaw method to teach the students about 6 different aspects of water (drinking water, waste water, cost, pollutants, health, environment).  Using a video as an intro my students were able to get a better understanding of how lucky they are to live where they do with the access to clean water.  It was nice to see students looking at the information and posing questions and really thinking about the information, and not just lookign for a mark.

This had to have been the most striking surprise I came across on block.  My students are so focused on marks that it is hindering their ability to learn.  They were getting so stressed out about the marks they would get if they did an assigment a certain way they couldn't focus on the actual material.  The day we did the jigsaw on water treatment the first question they asked was are we going to get marked on this? Once they found out that this was a learning opportunity and not a marking session, the students fully engaged wth the material and got a lot out of it.  I think this was exasperated because I was teaching a grade 11 university prep chemistry class and they know that the marks will affect their future.  I hope I can find a way to help my students in the future to decrease this stress and make it easier for them to engage in the material.  If anyone has an suggestions on how to do this I would be very open to hearing them.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

First week of placement

Well I survived.  Not that I had many doubts, but I'm glad the first week went off without too much problem.  The first of teaching my 3U chemistry class wasn't as nerve racking as I thought it may be.  The student's seem to have taken to me well, they respond to my teaching and feel comfortable asking questions.  I will determine how to get them to write without opening their mouths eventually.  I don't think you could expect much less of a room full of thirty 16 year olds. 

Not only did I survive my first week of teaching, but I also survived observation by my faculty advisor.  He liked what he saw and only had minor comments to make.  Now I can confidently move into week two and keep building my teachign skills without havign to worry about being evaluated.   I have been using a very low tech approach to teaching thus far, as this is what the students are used to and seemto respond well too.  I hope to introduce more technology as I move into the next topic of study.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Digital Footprint

The amount of stuff we can find on the internet always amazes me.  Simply googling a word can give you millions of items to look at.  With all the different social media sites out there now, you can find almost anyone somewhere on the web.  It makes me wonder how much of yourself is available online.  Whether it be good things or bad, you wonder how this will effct your lie now and in the future.  As we invetigated digital footprints today, I was made aware of the parts of me that are online.  Using http://www.pipl.com/ alows you to investigate you personal digital footprint, as well as people you know.  To know surprise the first thing that popped up for me is my facebook.  Although, this is a little disheartening because I have made a concious decision to make myself hard to find. 

I was a little surpised by the other things you could find out about me.  As you scroll through the lists of people who share the same as me, but are indeed not me, you come across things from high school.  Iwas a track and cross-country athelete and was fairly good at it.  Since they poseted results of meets online you can investigate how I did in these meets.  It's not a big deal to me that you ca find out these things, it was a big part of my life and It made me who I am today.  What concerns me is how I can control the availability of information about myself that is not posted by me.  I don't know if you can.  The best you can do is ensure that there is nothing incriminating about yourself that is online. I know I will be concious of the future digital footprints I create, ensuring that the me on the internet truly represents who I am.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Creative Commons

I was lucky enough to have Rodd Lucier give a presentation to my Tech. Education class about creatie commons.  For anyone who doesn't know, creative commons is a form of copyrighting, but allows people to use your work, edit it, publish it, etc. depending on your own personal preferences.  As a teacher I think it is important to know about things like this because we pull resources from a variety of places, and not actually ahve the permission to do so.  Google images was a topic that came up often, and the rights to the pictures.  If it is on the internet is it fair game? Surprisingly no.  You still have to ensure that you have legal rights to use the picture, and provide proper acknowledgement to the original owner of the work.

This is an interestign concept but I don't know how effective it is.  By taking a picture and putting it in a powerpoint say, without referencing it is nto allowed.  But who will know? Are our students going to check where we got it and see what the copyright, creative commons rights are?  As an educator I think I will set an example by making sure to reference images and resources, acting as a model for my students.  I don't know if I will ever use creative commons personally because I dont tend to put personal things online, and if it is, i feel that it is at everyone's disposal to do what they want with it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Smart Technology

Zoe's tech class has got to be the shortest two hours I have ever seen.  Every week the hands on the clock seem to fly around until 3 pm.  Today, was very fascinating, as we got to play/learn some of the technologies SMART offers. Once my computer (it's getting old and is a little bit stubborn) decided to download the notebook, I was able to play with the various resources Smart has to offer.  I really like the idea of usign smart boards in the classrooms becuase it allows kids to get up and moving and fully interact with their learning.  I know as a student I would have loved to be able to work through things on a board like that.  As a teacher I think it is great becuase we allow students to interact with information from the internet without them having to stare at their individual computer screens all the time. 

Smart offers many of the simple resources that the average word processor or presentation maker has to offer.  you can change backgrounds, font, colours, etc.  What is great about it, is that it incorporates some of the things you can do with old technology that you cannot do with a power point presentation.  For instance, there is a screen shield that you can use to hide part of the screen, just as many teachers do on an overhead.  You can also highlight and write on the presentation as if it were just written on a whiteboard.  No more are the days where a lesson is lost in a teachers inability to draw a regular shape.  The shape tool on Smart will convert your not so perfect shape into what it should look like.  If you are like me, and cannot draw a circle to save their life, this is a relief.

The most exciting tool we learned about today was the ability to look at things that have already been created for smartboard users.  This includes simulations, pictures, interactive games, and most exciting LESSON PLANS.  For me, the thought of making lesson plans for all my classes 5 days a week for the rest of my career is a little daunting.  To be able to look and see wat people have already created and be able to use it is amazing.  I learned at an education conference that "if you're not stealing, you're not teaching effectively," smart technology allows to to do this with high quality resources.  Smart exchange just may be my new best friend. 

Maybe the other most important benefit of this software is that you don't actually have to have a smartboard to be able to use it.  You can use the tools and resources place them in a presentation and project just as you would a powerpoint.  This gives you more flexibility with what you can show your students.  Although the use of the smartboard is great because students can interact more freely, the software can also be usefl for those without access. I thoroughly enjoyed learnign about this software and I think I will most likely use it in classroom settings to keep students engaged if nothing else.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

alternative to power point

I have come across yet another technology that can be used in the classroom.  I am surprised by how easy it is to find new resources and how frequently it keeps happening.  I went to ask my roommate a question and she showed me her prezi presentation she was working on for another class.  I was very interested in how it worked and figured I would check it out.

Prezi is an online presentation maker that can be viewed online or off.  You must sign up, but it only takes a few seconds.  With the free version you have 100MB of memory to create presentations in.  Once you sign up ther is a tutorial that explains the stes of creating a prezi presentation, although the software is very easy to use.  I was able to pic it up very quickly.  Check out the quick presentation I was able to make it just a few minutes (http://prezi.com/u-41cvlbhdhr/becoming-a-21st-century-teacher/).  This is a technology I can see using in a classroom, especially when working on brainstorming activities or concept maps.  personally I think powerpoint is more versatile in what can be done, but prezi is interesting and I am willing to give it a shot.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Surviving the 1st Day of Placement

I can honestly say that I had an awesome day today.  The staff and students at the school are very welcoming making the transition from student to teacher much more enjoyable.  The grade 9 class I observed 1st period was a lively bunch for 8am, but enjoyable  They remained relatively engaged throughout the lesson as well as when they were given time to work on an assignment.  Both grade 11 classes I observed were much of the same, although they are a chatty bunch. The students seem interested to learn, making the task of teaching them myself seem muh less daunting.

Over the course of this placement I hope to gain knowledge in classroom management strategies and work on keeping the students engaged with the material.  To do this I will try my best to make the content relevant to their lives as much as possible.  I will also use this palcement to get into teh routine of comleting lesson plans and keeping my daybook up to date, to ensure that I remain organized.   I am lookign forward to upcoming weeks and starting my unit plan.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Learning to make a google site

Today was less stressful than I thought it would be.  Learning how to use the remotes for the entertainment centre used to be a challenge, today I created a website.  This is leaps and bounds from where I ever thought I would be in my ability to use technology, especially professionally.  I am looking forward to modifiying it and making it more advanced as i progress through my tech. education course. I may even make another site for my upcoming wedding.

I am most excited because this is something I can actually see myself using in my own classroom, or during placements.  This would be an effective way for me to relay information to students and parents.  It will eliminate the exuse that they didn't know about something.  The only fear I have in this is that if I am in a school with vvarying socio-economic statuses, all students may not have access to a computer.  None the less, there are computers at school, and the information that would be placed on the site would also be available to them in class.  I wonder if parents would appreciate the extra information?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

New Sharing Technology

I have recently been introduced to a new technology by a collegue and friend.  Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com/) allows you to access any files from your home computer on any other computer as long as you have an internet connection.  You can also share folders with friends around the world.  This works similar to google but you do not have to have a goole account, you can access it with any email account.  I am so excited to be able to share projects and files with peers without having to worry about attachign to emails, bringing USB's everywhere and the always nerve racking forgetfulness of leaving assignments at home.  Now if this were to happen I could just pull it up on a computer at school and print, no harm no foul. 

To sign up you go to http://www.dropbox.com/ and set up an account.  All you need is an email address.  The download doesn't take very long.  Once it is installed you will have an icon on your desktop.  You can copy/move any file you liek from your computer and place in this folder, giving you access to it through the web.  You can take a tour of dropbox to figure otu your way around the site and its tools. although, I didn't find this necessary and caught on very quickly (which says something because I generally don't).  There are tabs toorganize your folders, share with other people (must also have dropbox), see when things have been modified, etc.

I am looking forward to collaborating using this technology when getting out into placements.  My peers and I can share lesson plans and resources without the hassel we used to face.  I also am excited to know when my computer infamously crashes in the middle of a major project I have the piece of mind to know that my files are safe.  I would suggest this to anybody who has friends who they want to share materials with, or just want a place to back up thier files.  As as educator I am excited to know that my materials are handy and can be shared with other faculty, students, parents, etc.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bullying Still a Huge Problem

A grade 12 student at a Hamilton high school has recently committed suicide because he was tormented by his peers at school.  A as a person and a future teach this truly diturbs me.  I was bullied through out my grade school and high school years and know the pain it can cause.  Even though not always overt, being ostracized and left out in a group of your peers and cause great blows to the reflection a person sees when they look in the mirror.  I learned to let it roll over my shoulder but she have to be that way.  Teachers and administration need to step in when they encounter these situations and DO something about it, not pretend that  its just kids being kids.  When myself and my mother brought the bullying in my school to their attention, it didn't change much, instead it gave the bully another reason to throow darts my way.

I want to challenge all teachers, administration, support staff, and anyone working or living with children to discuss bullying with them and the effects it can have on people.  I also challenge you to make a difference in a students life who may be going through a tough time because of bullying and be there for them.  The worst thing for theses students is to feel liek they have no where to turn.  Don't allow bullying in your classrooms and make sure you yourself dont become a bully.  Some of you may think that it wont happen, but it does and it shouldn't.  Let's not let another student take a life because of the bullying in what is supposed to be a safe and nurturing environment.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Taking a Technology in Education Course

Althroughout my school life teachers have beenteachnign my science the same old way.  Ether on the overhead projector, the chalkboard, or if I was so lucky a powerpoitn slideshow i was taught scientific information lecture style.  This is the reason I am taking this class,  I want to be able to introduce my students to scientific information without them realizing it.  I believe it is much more fun to learn by doing and interacting with the information than i is to memorize from a lecture.  I believe all types of technology have a place int he classroom, and will be increasingly more important as our students become experts on diferent devices.  Saying this, tyou wouldnt expect that I ambasically a technology newbie. 

I am excited to be inhis class becuase it will allow me to become familiar with the current social networking devices people are using these days.  I didn'think twitter, blogs and other such devices would ever be interesting to me because my life isnt that exciting.  I have now realized that using these devices will give me an opportnity to correpsond with teachers from around the world and how they are engaging their students.  I attended the Queen's Conference on Education in 2009 and was told "if your not stealing, your not teachign effectively".  I am excited to learn what other people are doing and implement them in myown classroom.