Blogging Again!!!

Well, I took a break from my blog as soon as the class ended. I even left my computer at school for the remainder of the week. We were also in the middle of report cards and conferences so I really didn’t have much time to spend on the computer. The timing could not have been more perfect. I’ll be getting ready this weekend to give a workshop on Voicethread on our staff meeting day. We’ve delayed the presentation of the wiki until we get all teacher computers updated with the latest version of Adobe Flash. That probably won’t happen until next year. Remember, we spoke of barriers, well here is one I’m sure everyone has experienced at one time or another. It sure takes time to get things rolling!

I start my next grad class in May and the class will explore Program Evaluation. I will use my blog to forward any important information.

Thanks for your kind comments regarding my final projects.

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My final reflections

I’ve created a Voicethread for my final reflections. It’s about ten minutes in length. It’s been great working with all you. I hope to continue our professional relationship and discussions. Good luck to those who still have work to do and congratulations to all of you who have successfully completed their Masters. A special thanks to Alec, Rob, Kyle and Cindy who have helped me overcome several obstacles/barriers. Actually, everyone contributed to my progress in this class and for that I am thankful. Enjoy the beautiful weather start planning for the summer months to come.

To my surprise!

Today, I went to my course blog to see if there had been any activity and to my surprise there were four posts waiting to be moderated. I am so pleased. The posts were quite short and needed some work but the important thing is that I’ve got students writing!! Most students at my school struggle with reading and writing and do not like to do either. They were writing on a Sunday afternoon, their free time. Like, it’s school work!!! For my students in grade 11 and 12 part of their projects require that they complete ten journal entries between now and May 9th. I know I have included several times the link to our course blog but go ahead and take another look if your interested.

Update on my digital projects

1- Well, originally my project was to create a Voicethread. I’ve been working with my grade 12s to produce a Voicethread about Cochrane and its different shops. Well, it’s just about finished (it has taken forever!) We still have a few students to add. Hopefully, we will finish this week. I had to delete another Voicethread because I forgot to get permission (Ooops!) to post pictures of the students. I was unable to get a hold of the parents before Easter Break. Oh, well. Have a look at what we’ve done so far on the Cochrane Voicethread.

2- The next project was to use a blog in my English classes. I’ve got a few more students subscribed to “Voices of Cochrane”. I have asked that all journal entries be done on the computer. I only have one student who does not want to post his journal entries. That’s fine. I’m hoping the more I get them to use it, the more they will want to use it.

3- I’ve created a staff wiki. Marlene stated that her project was to create a staff wiki. What a great idea. I put together some Screencast Tutorials for Gradebook for my teachers. I will eventually be doing the same for SIRS. I have invited our Learning Council to be members and I hope we will use it to communicate and post relevant information for our staff. I know I will!

4- My grade 9 students completed a project on ComicLife (Mac). I haven’t figured out how to upload it to the student blog (Voices of Cochrane). Hopefully, I will figure that out by the end of the week. If not, I will produce a Voicethread that will show everyone what they produced. I might have to contact Kyle for assistance since he is a wizard on a Mac.

That’s it for now.

Chris Lehman’s presentation

I listened to the recording of Tuesday night’s session yesterday and it reminded me of Dennis Littky’s vision for his schools. His schools are based on inquiry, application, reflection, internships and presentations. Very similar to Lehman’s mission and vision. I’m not sure if Littky’s schools are 1:1 laptop schools. I don’t recall reading anything related to technology. Littky’s schools deal with students at risk as well as students following a “regular” program. Assessment is linked to student inquiry and presentation. Littky’s book is a very good and easy read: The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business.

What I found most interesting was the discussion in the chat room regarding assessment. Great discussion. I agree with Chris Lehman regarding the use of rubrics in assessment. Our system continues to use rubrics in writing benchmarks and other areas. When I taught in the French Immersion program, particularly grammar and composition, students were made aware of how they were being evaluated and I demonstrated on a regular basis papers written according to the different levels found in the rubrics. I also had to train my teachers to use the rubrics so that we were all evaluating the same way. I like using rubrics and continue to do so.

It’s been a few years since I was involved in any type of assessment as my school, due to it’s modified status, does not participate in any kind. I have been trying to implement “reading inventories” as a pre-test and post-test so that we can assess student progress in reading. Well, it’s time consuming and teachers are not interested in doing this. I did administer reading inventories with all of my grade 11s at the beginning of this semester and it was most helpful in developing individualized programming. I hope next year, if I’m still there, we will be doing some sort of assessment with particular grades related to reading. We are currently developing an assessment tool related to numeracy; linked to the trades and the workplace. That has also been a struggle, teachers are just not buying into it. Hopefully we will see changes next year.

Well, I went ahead and created a Wikispace for my staff (still trying to think of a catchy name). I’m going to include tutorials for Gradebook, SIRS and emails (yes, some are still have problems with that). I hope to add some titles for professional reading and maybe even start a book talk for interested educators in our school. Thanks Marlene for the idea.

Jing! Looove it!

Well, I think the transformation from book worm to internet worm (and Web tools) continues. I’ve been playing around with Jing for a couple days now just trying to figure out how it works. I then thought it was time to visit a few sites and ended up at Mathman’s site . I viewed the screencast videos he produced for his digital project which are tutorials for his staff. All of sudden I realized that putting together tutorials would save me so much time with my own staff. All this time I’ve been running around helping teachers with SIRS and Gradebook, essentially repeating the same stuff over and over and over. AHHH!!! Well, I put together my first tutorial, it’s a little rough but it’s a start. I’ll be working on two others, maybe a third. I was ecstatic when I viewed it on Screencast. I even forced my husband to watch it. His reaction wasn’t similar to mine, “yeah, it’s good”, he said. Good!!! It rocks!!! Like I said the transformation continues!

Identifiable? Panic!!

After our discussion Wednesday night with Sue Waters and others regarding the identifiability of students on-line I panicked. The students working on the Cochrane Voicethread project are for the most part adult ed. students but I have two that are in grade 12. I completely forgot to get these two students to fill out a media release form. So of course I worried throughout the night (just my personality!!) and as soon as I got to school the next day I phoned the parents and got verbal permission to post their pictures in the project. I went back and deleted another Voicethread because one of the parents of the boys posted had not submitted a form and I couldn’t get hold of anyone. I tried to delete the picture and substitute a Loonie Toons avatar but I ended up deleting the Voicethread. Oh well, live and learn. I’m hoping that this group of students will have the time to redo their voicethread when we get back. Our course blog is going fairly well however, it’s still the students who enjoy writing that are contributing to the blog. I’m still looking for other ways to engage students. I have two students working on an Animoto based on cars. We’ll see how that turns out. It’s been a busy two weeks. I’m sure glad it’s Easter Break. I hope to spend some time visiting other blogs and researching a few other tools. Happy Easter everyone!!!

Breakthrough!!

Well, a few days ago I finally had a few students who wanted to post to Voices of Cochrane. While they were writing their posts some of the other students gathered around and started asking questions. By the end of the class I had four more email addresses to add to the user list. Students are still working on the Cochrane Voicethread and they are excited about this project. I have two other groups of students working on other Voicethread projects. One is exploring the Mom’s Program and the other is exploring Workstudy Program at our school. I hope at least one of them will be ready to post by the end of this class. Most of my grade nine students have finished their ComicLife. One is quite good the other four are acceptable. I will link a few to the this blog when they are completed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour in Second Life last night. Unfortunately I was unable to stay until the end. I hope we have another opportunity to visit.

Still trying to figure things out!

I am slowly figuring out how to link sites but posting videos into my blog or my course blog remain a struggle for me. I spent most of last night just trying to add a Voki (I think that’s what it’s called) to my course blog. Angie has it on the sidebar of her class blog. You would think I would have this figured out by now. I had to shut down my computer after a couple of hours otherwise it was going to end up under one of my tires.   Although, I did have fun creating my own Voki. I wanted to add it to our course blog to try and lure some of my students to try out blogging. I thought maybe if they had alternate character they might want to try blogging.

I read an interesting article in the Leader Post yesterday (Saturday, March 8-B4) regarding the possible expulsion of a student for the use of Facebook to create a study group. It talks about how online study groups are “here and now” and that post-secondary institutions need update. Very interesting.

Frustrating Week!?

Last week I caught a cold but felt well enough to attend the Teacher’s Convention until Friday afternoon at which time I went home and died on the couch. Spent all weekend and Monday in bed. Was going to return to work on Tuesday but woke up Tuesday morning with pink eye. I’ve never had it and was informed by the doctor that I cannot return to work until Friday. Frustrating because all I can think about is my course blog that students are suppose to be working on and other digital projects. So I thought that with all of this time on my hands I would explore a few more Web tools but my computer won’t let me access them because I don’t have “administrative privileges”. AHHH! I was hoping to add to the collaborative wiki but until I get back to work and get someone to “open up” my computer I’m pretty much in limbo. Can you hear the whining coming through????

I guess I could clean the house or bake. Nahhh, I’ll check out some more blogs, view a few more videos, check our Voicethread to see how some of my students are doing, get caught in emails, and marking. Perhaps not that frustrating of a week after all!!

I showed this short video clip to my husband and son the other day and they thought it was funny; and that it accurately describes the state that some find themselves in today when it comes to technology.  I thought it was pretty funny.

Introducing the Book

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