Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yikes We got Snowed

Ok It is not like Karl or Bud but we got alot of snow last night. I have just spent 4 hours shoveling and am going back for more. My Neighbours are in New Zealand for the Holidays so I get to do theirs as well. Good thing I went for a run yesterday.

The Grass is now covered with a six foot snow hill that runs the length of the back yard.

Talk to everyone when I catch my breath.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Groups...Networks does it really matter?

Bud Hunt has written a post. It talks about the the proliferation of groups and networks on in the blogosphere.

Here is some of what he has to say....

I'm noticing a proliferation of niche groups emerging in the edu'sphere -- groups of young folks, groups of women, etc. Something about this is rubbing me the wrong way -- but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.
I certainly admire the time and effort that people are putting into helping others find their way in the forest that is the Internet. But is their enough added value in these different subgroups, particularly among bloggers that are already networked, that makes their existence an asset rather than a collection of subdivisions, new walls keeping people separate? At what point does joining a group mean closing a door, rather than opening one? Or does it ever mean that at all? (I think that it does, sometimes.) Does the creation of lots of new groups lead to a further formalization of these spaces that are informal learning places? Are we perpetuating old ways of doing things in new spaces?

Here was my response to what he had to say.....

Hi I am a member of WOW. I joined because people who I respect and admire are taking the time to inform people who want to know about pedagogy and interesting tools to make teaching better for todays youth. I am a male who just wants to teach better.

WOW to my knowledge was created by 4 friends who wanted a place to share their experiences in the classroom. I have been an active participant in their post and pre skype shows.

The new net is a place where your creativity improves when you get a synergistic energy working with friends. Connecting with people from everywhere allows for a better finished project.

Groups/networks...... if it makes us push the boundaries of what we are willing to do and improve the education of todays youth then so be it.

If I recall the K12online conference was considered a group by some people. Look at all the good that has come and is still coming out of this Conference.

Thanks for a great post. I hope that teachers and bloggers everywhere just push the bar higher and show new and great things to do with our students.
People put up flags when they are worried about groups. I know Graham has written about it in the past and Stephen Downes has also written about it. If a group turns out to be a bad thing and influence in inappropriate ways then we need to take action.

I am of the opini0n that we need to collaborate as much as possible. Perhaps someone will correct me. If it makes us push the bar to new levels then the group, network has done its job.

As I have said already....k12online was considered a group by some. It has created change. Change for the good I think.

Thanks for reading. Bud thanks for making us think. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I am blessed to have a great family. I would like to thank them for allowing me to play as much as I do with these new technologies. Sometimes I can get engrossed in creating a project for my students and forget the time. They always give me time and I appreciate this.
I am so proud of my wife and children that I had to create a post and thank them infront of the audience that reads my blog (small as it may be!). Enjoy

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I've been Tagged

As per lots of us in the blogosphere I was tagged. Karl Fisch over at the Fischbowl got me while my head was turned the other way. I am supposed to write 5 things that you might be interested in learning about me. Well here it goes.

1. I was and am a decent athlete. In my youth I was a swimmer qualifying for Canadian Nationals numerous times and I even made a National Youth Team one year. I decided after high school to try University in Calgary only to find that milk and food do not grow on trees. I also decided at the age of 20 that I did not like smelling like a chlorine bottle so I came home and gave up the pool. Swimming gave me a great group of friends and I was able to visit most of the major cities on the continent by the time I was 20.

2. Since I do not swim competitively anymore I enjoy running. I am a decent half marathoner running 4 or 5 a year. I am able to do times that are respectable 1:35 to 1:38 for most of the races. I enjoy long runs and find it is an excellent way to recharge my batteries when I am running low. Both my wife and I exercise and provide good role models for my 3 very active boys.

3. When I was in Calgary I worked in a Grade 3 classroom helping them learn French. This was my first real experience in the classroom. I did not know then that I was going to become a teacher. My father was a teacher and still is a teacher at the University of Manitoba. He teaches courses people want to take and has influenced lots Manitoba Teachers. I can still remember marking his exams every January and June. I guess I was in teacher training early. Speaking of teacher training..... I would go back and take more courses if there were courses worth taking. I find it very hard to find worthwhile courses at my local Universities.

I started out teaching in a small elementary school that had a very high transiency rate. I would start out the year teaching one grade and by the middle of October be teaching another grade. Most of these rooms were mixed grade levels so it was an excellent training ground to get me prepared to think on my feet. I enjoyed teaching the younger children but got a chance to try Junior High (8th Grade) got the bug and have not looked back. I have no desire to leave the classroom and go into any other job. I am in this profession for the kids and I will stay in a job that allows me to influence the largest audience possible.

4. I never was really good at math. I was a Social Studies junkie and enjoyed English. I was decent at math but never "good" at it. Funny how now I am so passionate about teaching "Math" as a subject. It is crucial that students understand what they are learning. They can be shown the magic of math but need to understand the concepts that lie underneath the magic. (Sure we can cross multiply to get percentages or proportions but why does this work?) I have found that students are more likely to do conceptual work on the computer than on paper. I hope my blogging and wiki work show improvement.

5. I have changed my fifth topic. I love to cook. I would call myself an amateur chef. I say my father cooking and worked in restaurants for many years (waiter not chef). Anyone growing up should work in the service industry. It makes you a better person. My favorite tv channel (other than college basketball) is Food network. Anytime you are in Winnipeg I would love to cook up a meal for you. (Jen I make a wicked Chicken Tortilla soup)

My five people to continue what feels like a blog chain letter are, Jeanne, Danita, Julie, Paul and Sharon.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great break from work. Enjoy your holidays and participate in the Second When Night Free Fall Blog Club on January 6th.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hemishpheric Challange.... Opportunity

Ok I will be the first one to sometimes need a hit on the head with a hammer to have something sink in. But correct me if I am wrong. In the Northern Hemisphere we have school that starts in September and ends in May or June. In the Southern Hemisphere they start School in March and go until December.

How can we use this to our advantage?

One Idea I had today as I was emailing Graham was to use seasoned bloggers and wikiers as mentors to help newbies. In September kids in the Southern Hemisphere are in full swing and starting to see the year come to an end. They are ready to be the mentors or leaders in projects with Northerners. Likewise in April and May we in the Northern Hemisphere are ready to be leaders and mentors to newbies from the Southern Hemisphere.

I love the ideas of students realizing that the world isn't that big anymore. Lets try to show them all the possibilities. Create these great collaborative groups. The further the distance the keener the students will be.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

These Kids are amazing

I have set a new milestone. Over 75% completion for the growing posts. I have one room that is over 85%. These are amazing kids. Wait until you see the next set of assignments. Where will they take me!
873 math
841 math
817 math
816 math

Please check them out and leave some comments behind. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What do you think when...

I just visited Christopher D Sessums blog. He won an Edublog this year for Best Individual Blog.

I watched this video and wasn't sure what to make of it. I am still not sure what to make of it but it has me thinking.

What does it make you think of as an educator? parent? human?

Wow what great comments

I am astonished at the quality of work being created by my students. They are incredible. Not only is their work excellent they are helping each other out,

This is from Beau

Hey Alyssa I think you did an awesome job, but I think you could still do better! Question five could use a little work. It doesn't say how large the classes are. Miss Stanzi's class may be larger than Miss Lowery's. That could change the answer. Also, question six is asking what the total is. All you have to do is find one square's value then multiply by 100. If you need help with Gliffy or Bubbleshare doesn't hesitate to ask!
This is From Tony on the same post

good job april but, on question 2 you didn't show how 3:2 is an equivalent to 3/5, 60% and 0.6 one more thing is that you shaded in 40 instead of 16 on question 6 a) and you should use gliffy or bubbleshare because you get more marks for doing it on that question.
There are countless more. I knew I had an excellent classes of students. But I now know that these students have class.

I love going to work.

I love looking in at my bloglines and seeing all the new work they are creating for themselves and their class blogs.

WOW They are awesome.

Growing Post Marking Rubric

I have finished the Grading Rubric for my students first Growing Post. Some things that I am trying this year. The students first have to mark themselves. They then have to mark 2 other students in the class. I find that students are much harder on themselves and each other then I am.

I have forced the students to use the computer this year to complete all growing posts. In the past I have allowed for students to do them on paper. Since my lab has been upgraded The machines I have are good enough for students to come in on their time and complete these assignments. I hope to have a 70% completion by the end of the week and have the stragglers done in January.

I hope this experiment works. We'll soon find out.

I would appreciate any comments you have on the posts themselves or on the rubric. Thanks

Saturday, December 16, 2006


When I woke up this morning and check my bloglines account and my stat counter to see if anyone reads my blog I saw that someone had visited coming from Darren's Numeracy post from the other day. In the comments under Darren's post there were two links to You Tube videos. They are fantastic. These videos show how we all are connected now using the internet.

Here is the first Video

Here is the second video

I will be attempting a project with some teachers in Alabama in January. This is a great introduction to why you use the web and 2.0 in your classrooms. Look at the possibilities.

Thanks JD for talking about these videos.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wow What a Tuesday Evening

I was an attendee of the Women of Web 2.0 Skypecast and Worldbridges chat the featured David Warlick and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. With 29 people in the chat room there was great information being passed around.

Here is a link to the podcast of the evenings proceedings. WOW it was amazing.

The Women of Web 2.0 broadcast every Tuesday at 9:00 EST. They are Vicki, Jen, Sharon, and Cheryl. I want to commend Cheryl who works the skypecast and always has it running so smoothly. After doing a couple of skypecasts of my own I know it isn't the easiest job keeping the extra callers at bay but Cheryl does this and participates in the chatroom as well.

The Women of Web 2.0 website is full of information and a great place to network with other like minded individuals.

No WOW 2.0 is not for women only. I am a guy and there are many of us here using the wealth of knowledge these 4 women can provide.

I would also like to thank World Bridges who host the chat every Tuesday. They are great. The chat has many features that make life easy for people to communicate.

Hanging out with these great educators is now part of my weekly routine. Each week they provide me with something new to try.

Thanks WOWsers. I really appreciate what you do.

Wow an Edublog Finalist

I am pleased to announce that my friend Darren is a finalist in the Edublog Awards for 2006. He is up for Best Teacher Blog. I feel his influence every time I read his Blog A Difference.

Darren was the first person to get me hooked on blogging and the power of 2.0. I will be forever indebted to him for this. He was giving his OLE Tango Workshop to teachers at his school and invited some teachers from my school to attend. After a morning in his Mac Lab I was hooked and along with a Grade 7 teacher created two Sargent Park Blog Sites.

There are so many must reads on Darren's blog. I would like to point out a few of the recent posts he has created.

He recently did an in service about Numeracy across the Curriculum. It is an AWESOME attempt to get teachers from all parts of a school to focus on the importance of numeracy. Here is an excerpt taken just after a coffee break.

If you are a teacher and go to parties and people say I hated math..... you need to investigate this post.

If you need to know anything about using literacy in a Math Class Darren created Scribeposts. He has influenced many teachers to follow suit. They are amazing tools to make classes take ownership over their work. Students scribe what happened in class that day and add illustrations and animations to reinforce their work. Thanks Darren.

Darren wrote a chapter for the upcoming Coming of Age: An introduction to the NEW world wide web wide web. It is an amazing read. Distributed Teaching and Learning deals with using Web 2.0 in classrooms, pedagogy and harnessing audience. Please read this post. It was what changed my teaching habits.

I am lucky to call Darren a friend and be able to see him on a regular basis. He lives in the same city as I do and our schools are a mere snowball throw away from each other. My students will be his students. I wonder where he will take them in a few years.

Thanks Darren. I appreciate all you do for education and for your students.

Growing Post Update

Originally uploaded by childish_david.

Well we are into week 2 of the Growing Post and the wheels are still not moving too fast. Student have until Monday but I will give them until Wednesday December 20th to get this work done. The Growing Post was to be a review capsule of what they are learning during the percent unit I am teaching. Questions ranged from Open Ended to closed response. I am pleasantly surprised to see that the students are using a variety of tools to enhance these posts. Bubbleshare and Gliffy are mainstays not in Scribe Posts and Growing Posts. I will continue to show my students new and different ways to use these tools aid their mathematical learning. I hope to add even more tools and examples at the student blog andwiki tools.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My first Solo Skypecast

I had the pleasure of hosting my first solo skypecast where people came to talk about the 21st Century School. I called it the When Night Free Fall Blog club. The hour and a bit skypecast was hosted using skype and tappedin. I had a great time even though my recorder did not work. Note to future hosts and hostesses of these chats..... do not upgrade to a beta until you know what you are doing.

Speaking of beta. I was using Skype 3.0. It has some nice features like a built in recorder (found that out too late) and an interactive whiteboard much like elluminate. The feature I liked most about 3.0 was that it helped control the skypecast better. The user interface was clear to read and it grouped people in to open mic, wanting the mic and no mic. The mixup with my powergramo was that I downloaded skype 3.0 and then did not reboot my machine.

I would like to thank all the people who attended the skypecast. Glenn, Jeanne, Sharron, Cheryl, Darren, Joyce V, Paul, BJB, SusanR and anyone else I am forgetting. Since my recorder did not work I am asking everyone to post comments behind here on on the wiki. I know we all live busy lives but if you spent 10 minutes reflecting on our conversation. I would appreciate it.

The questions were...

Question 1

What obstacles are you encountering using 2.0 tools in your classroom?

Question 2

In the movie about the SLA, Chris talks about the aim of School 2.0 as being 'student-centered, constructivist, to teach kids to be critical consumers and producers of information'. What professional development approaches and methods are being used to raise teacher awareness and use of information and digital literacy tools?

Question 3

Has anyone defined "best practices" for different content areas using 2.0 tools? If so, where can this be found? If not, would this be an idea worth exploring?

I had read Clarence's students comments earlier in the day. One of his students comments hit home when this question was being talked about.

I used Elaine's reflective comment to start the conversation

1) Indeed I think that blogging is different from writing on paper. Why I think this is because that you know that you will be sharing your knowledge and what you have to say, with the rest of the world on your blog making you want to do the best you can and put as much information as you can on your post.Also to find this information to make this blog , while surfing the net you learn to tell the difference between false and true information.

The advasntage of having a pln learning network is that you have the chance to explore sitwes and other blogs from all over the world and to leanr about there culture, recent weather, there nation weather and issues and the list goes on and on. the part i like baest are the photography on the blogs of other places from all over the world and get the chance to see the way there cities, towns live and opperate. this can make learning differnet and defintly no tin a bad way. it makes learning different and funner this you the oppertunitie to share our thoughts, opinions with one another. letting us leave the classroom and across the world to share our ideas and learning experiences. i personaly think this is totally ok that we arnet learning that exact same thing but actuallly when you think about it we are almosrt learning the same thing. we read our pln networks write anout what we learnedon a post. the rest of the class goes and reads it and learns from it. so no not all classrooms are about learning the same thing at once you can say. i would say that reading and writing blogs from all over the world and sharing our learning experiences is a heck of a lot better than reading a text book…what do yuo think?

Question 4

The idea of collaboration to me is the biggest benefit for the 21st Century. Does anyone have a progressive introduction of Web 2.0 Tools for the resisters amongst us?

Thank you for reading. Comments appreciated.


We also played with some flickr tools. Here are some of the results.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The power of Audience

In November I had the pleasure of working with Jeanne on the K12online Wiki Project. Working with someone who is not in your class or not in your country can be a powerful motivator.

My students scribe. A scribe is responsible to put all notes from the days class on the class blog. The student uses text, pictures and links to expand the class lesson. Here are some good Scribes from my room this year. Scribe 1, Scribe 2, Scribe 3.

Now to the title of this post. Audience. It is important that these students see that there is an audience reading their posts. I use Clustr Maps to show all the hits to the site. The only way that scribes know that they have been read is if comments are left behind. Students within my 4 classes,8-16, 8-17, 8-41, and 8-73 are pretty good at leaving comments behind to each other. To date there have been no foreign comments. I would love to see the audience from around the globe comment on these great posts instead of Blurking (reading without commenting).

Since my students are great at commenting on each others blogs I am going to make commenting on other sites part of the scribing assignment.

It will now now be a mandatory part of the scribe to comment on a different website. My scribes will be responsible for creating a link in their post that directs me to where they have left a comment. They will provide the audience for other school's scribe. Will other schools step up and be an audience for my scribes?

I will set up a Schools that Scribe list for my students to use. If you are a school that scribe and you want an audience here is your chance. Email me or better yet........ leave a comment behind on this post requesting an audience.

My students are ready ...... are yours? Ready or not here we come!
Schools that Scribe
S3 Math from Scotland

Linden Meadows 8M
Linden Meadows 8Z

PreCal 30s Danial Mac
PreCal 40S Danial Mac
APCalc Danial Mac

Want some comments. Please comment on this post. I will add you to the list!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Could we all Be Part of a 21st C School

I have recently blogged about friends and communities. I feel that the 2.0 bloggers out there are a great group of friends. When we meet through comments, reading each others posts, or skype conversation we all are struggling with similar problems. Filter issues, feeling like islands in a very large ocean. Is there a fix to this problem?

In recent conversations with Vicky Davis we have talked about trying out Second Life and creating a 2.0 island. While this would be cool and fun to try it got me thinking. If we already are an island in the sea of unchange what can we do with our first life?

Originally uploaded by muha....

One idea that popped into my head was to create a space, wiki, blog, whatever where all of us island could go and find tools to help our students acquire the skill they need to become more web savvy. Darren and I are creating a How to wiki where our students will create screencasts to help future bloggers with their projects. It will be amazing when there is a screencast for all these new tools (never ending list) made by kids instructing kids on how to use them.

I know there are sites out there that help teachers link with teachers. Chris Lehmann runs a school where all the faculty and students embrace the new reality of information. They are a 21st C school. He made a presentation for the k12online conference. I will be holding a Blog Club to talk about this movie.

Here is what has been going on in my head since I saw the movie. Chris has a school where everyone is onboard using the new tools that our out there. He practices what he preaches. We as educators are probably alone in our building practicing what Chris is talking about. How do we network our kids to see that they are not alone out there. This is the question I am struggling to answer. Our students need to see other students out there in the world doing similar learning. Once they have this audience they will start to participate more and put more effort into their learning.

When I worked with Jeanne the synergy was fantastic. We worked harder on the project because we could work as a team. We were Skyping and chatting all the time while we were editing the wiki. These collaberative projects are needed. Kids need to skype each other during the school day and feel this synergy. More powerful than this would be kids working together on a homework project that involved students from around the world.

I am proposing that we create a Virtual 21st Century school. Where we have classes of every discipline from all over the globe. We communicate to each other and have group projects. Students see that there is an audience for their work and make new friendships and learn about students from all over the world. I am not the person to create this space. Chris Lehmann said that he and his staff worked for 7 months online to create the Science Learning Academy. Hmmm 7 months from now a new school year dawns. Wouldn't it be cool to have a virtual 21st century school where the world took part in great learning experiences.

A dream is only a dream until you wake up and make it reality. I just might wake up soon :-)

Anyone else willing to wakeup with me?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mentorship the Possibilities

Victor getting some much-needed mentoring from Dr. Chris
Originally uploaded by anders r.

I was lucky enough to present a Numeracy workshop at our local Special Area Groups professional development day in Winnipeg today. It went well. We gave the audience some good foldables ways to change a piece of paper to maximize the amount of knowledge you can write on it. If you want more information about this you can skype me or leave a comment.

In part two of the workshop Darren became part of the audience as I pepper sprayed the audience with a whirlwind of 2.0. I gave them all I had about blogging and using wiki's. The take home notes can be found in this take home wiki. Sometimes hindsight might of been useful. I think I game too much information in a short period of time. Ah well give them more and maybe they will use some!

During lunch Darren and I were talking and the creative juices started to flow. Mentors. Last year I invited one of Darren's students to be a mentor to my kids who were blogging for the first time. He left great advice behind for them. Students need an audience. One way that mentors can be used is to have them leave comments behind on posts encouraging students to edit their posts and make them even better.

To this post

ummm RIGHT!!!!

I need to know how to do the things on the test i've already written it but i do not under stand and think i failed

Richard said...

Well if you need to know how then post an example of a question on the test and someone will show you how to do it by solving it for you.

He also pointed this out to another student who was having problems with a link

Here's a tip. Go to blogger and go to EDIT HTML in your post and change the link name cause it's really... really... long and you can make it to whatever you want. Just look for the code: a href=" " This is where you can change the name)/a Ok. Bye.

So how do we use this power of mentorship to help students this year. Simple. Ask for volunteers. I have student in my own classes that are "excellent" bloggers. They will form the base of my mentorship team.

Darren will ask his students who wants to be part of a mentorship team and they will be available to help student who need help blogging. But what will the responsibilities be for these students? One aspect of their role is to create screencasts that show how to do tasks in blogger and in a wiki. Inserting a picture, logging in for the first time etc. Another part will be leaving comments behind on blogs that ask for help. I would love to see more comments from visitors. This audience is why students try to do good work. The post they create is not only for them but for the world.

bomm web 2.0
Originally uploaded by Txemavk.

Darren and I will create a wiki where students can request help. Mentor volunteers will be available to give advice or give comments. What a great way to use these tools. Tools..... if new tools are invented we have the "super staff" now to try them out and rate them for ease of use and blogability.

I am looking forward to this project and will want to see how it progresses over the year. It is already December (almost) and I am just getting warmed up as the weather cools down. This is going to be fun.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Google Bomb

Did you know that the first Google entry for Martin Luther King is a racist, slanderous site run by a white supremacy organization. Tom Hoffman points out there's a solution here. Time for a good old-fashioned Google bomb.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Here is the code you can put in your blogsite to help the situation.

You can get the code at Tom Huffman's site.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My First Growing Posts With a new class

Wow time flys. I have whipped through the first few math units and am ready to introduce the kids to Growing Posts. I started this activity last year and it had limited success. This year I want to use Google Documents and have the students network with each other before they complete their posts.

A growing post is one post at their classroom blog. Each day they add to their post. At the end of the week they will have a comprehensive post detailing a certain subject. As a teacher I make sure that the questions that are to be answered are rich in math knowledge and has a 2.0 edge to it. I want to introduce the students to tools such as flickr, bubbleshare, google docs etc. Here is an opportunity to do this.

Here is Growing Post Number 1
It is almost time for Winter Break and this is an important computer assignment. It is called a growing post. It is called a growing post because you create one post and add to it everyday. This assignment can be done at the last minute or it can be done a few questions at a time over the two weeks.

Remember you only create one post. You then edit it as you add more information.

Due Date Monday December 17

You must copy the questions into your Growing Post. They should be in a different colour than your responses.

Tools You can make this growing post simple or advanced. For full marks you will have to use Web 2.0 tools to make it more interactive. You can find many web tools at

Label Please label your growing post using growingpost, percentage.

Title (Place Name Here) Percentage Growing Post

Question 1
What is a good definition of percent? You should use words symbols, pictures and numerical examples in your definition. (suggestion gliffy is an excellent tool for adding detail to your definition.)

Question 2
How are three fifths (3/5), 3:2, 60% and 0.6 all the same? Use pictures and words to show your answer.

Question 3
Show 3 different ways to find 35% of 80. (bubbleshare is an excellent tool to animate the many different ways of finding these answer).

Question 4
Find a link to blogs that deal with percentages. Leave a comment behind and add the link with a review (What the post was talking about....yes you have to read the post and why others should read the post) Hint In the side bar there are links to other schools. Three of them have done work on percentages!

Question 5

What would Students Do?

Here is a little video I put together in under 10 minutes. What would students do with this technology.

I used jumpcut. I only had pics to load. What will this look like with videos and other media? I hope it works.

Now it is for the kids to find and use!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Isn't it strange how easy it is to make friends! I am a personable guy that can carry a conversation and it is not difficult to make friends. But..........
It is difficult to try to get teachers to try new things. I am a total convert to 2.0 technologies and enjoy the challenges they pose as I try to become more adept in using them. I can see the positive effects to get students to try these tools as a means to communicate. So why is it so hard to get adults to try them out.

I am on a personal crusade to find 3 other people in my building to use these tools with their students. I know it will be a tough mountain to climb. Excuses are always there but man all I have to do is get them started. The rest will take care of it self. Have you ever woken up in the morning knowing that you have to go for a run but the bed is sooooooo warm. All you have to do is get out the door (-30 C or not) and start the exercise. When you are done it feels great. The Battle is in getting out the door. For the new recruits I will find it will be a hard sell to get them to try these tools or "get out of bed". I am sure that they will get hooked just as I have.

Back to the friends...... I am amazed at the community of edublogers out there. Darren my mentor and friend lives in the same city as I do. I get to physically touch him if I want to. But that is not my point. All around the blogosphere people are out there touching and helping each other virtually. I get such a quick response from people half a continent or world away. it is as if we are as close together as Darren and I are. It is crazy. I love this community and need to share the wealth of good feelings and synergy that you get when you are a part of it.

Thanks everyone for making me feel welcome. This is where I belong and I hope that in educating the 120 kids that I teach on a regular basis our knowledge will get us through the next many days in style.

Looking for more great ideas................Make it interesting.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

AP Calculus AB (2006-07): BOB # 3

AP Calculus AB (2006-07): BOB # 3

This is why we get kids to blog

Darren Kuropatwa is a friend of mine. He works just down the street from me and I always seem to have my mouth hanging open when his students do such amazing things. Darren is a highschool math teacher who's infectious attitude brings out the best in his students.

His students seemed to be having a conversation about procrastination and they wrote a Blogging on Blogging post to talk about it. When I read the passion in these posts it stirs up my emotional side. When I read the comments left behind on these posts I want to cry because of how they are written with pride and a desire to change. Here are two BOB's. The rest can be found here

Read this
In today's class, we began our third unit. So far, so good. I guess the reason why I'm here is about the whole procrastination thing. I understand where Christian is coming from when he says that he wants to have a conversation with it. I mean, we have this BLOG here for a reason... and I think that we're not using it to our advantage. I know everyone has a million other things to do, but it seems like nobody reads the blog anymore... except to scroll down at the bottom just to see if you're the next scribe. In the beginning of the year, we'd comment each other on our posts. If you guys were to go back to the most recent ones, nobody has left comments. I mean how are we going to be in the HALL OF FAME if nobody reads the blog? I'm kind of disappointed, because I know that when it's my turn to post a scribe, I put a lot of effort into it... don't you guys do the same? Doesn't it feel disappointing when nobody leaves a comment? It makes me think that nobody learned anything from my post, and that I did all that work for nothing. I think that relates to what Christian was trying to get at. Mr. K always says that "MATH IS A CONVERSATION". My question to all of you is, why isn't the conversation happening? This is a whole new unit; we can still help each other out. Mr. K also said in today's class that we need to find ways to catch each other's falls... I am VERY willing to catch your fall, I wonder if anyone is willing to catch mine.i've got your back linger! you know i do =). since it is a new unit, i will turn over a new leaf. i will try and go to the blog and read, learn, and comment. let's step it up, people.

This was an Impressive Post but the comments left by the students were even more telling:
Comment 1
You caught my fall today, Linger :)
And I think that this is a good idea.. we should participate more in the blog. So I am committing myself to comment on each scribe post for this unit. I'll see where that takes me..

Comment 2
What more can I add. Thanks linger for the inspiration. About a week ago, as you guys already know, I was disappointed, because it seemed like the only ones who cared about going to the blog were the ones who posted stuff (including myself). That's why I tried to comment on things, and get your attention. Well, I think some of us really are motivated and would really try to step it up.

This was the blog that Started the ball rolling. I was impressed with his emotional plea. His use of flaming was interesting and the comments by Lani and his own comments showed great reflection and passion.

Please read this post and its comments. I have just copied some of the post below.


Anyhow, that's my ranting for today. I'm bored, so I thought, why not do the BOB now and not worry about it anymore? So here it goes.

Resources. This blog will be about the definition, purpose, and use of a resource.

Webster's defines a resource as a source of aid or support that may be drawn upon when needed. We often say in our bobs or comments that we don't understand a certain question, topic and so on. That's valid because we're not Einstein's (yet), but as responsible students, we are supposed to do all we can to find the answers to our questions. We can't just sit and wait; we have to scrutinize our notes, maybe ask our teachers or parents, go to our blog, read the book and so on. These are just some of the resources available to us. The concern is, we aren't making use of these, isn't that right? Mr. K, in the beginning of the year, said that there was a student who claimed, "Mr. K, I don't know what to do. I'm failing your class, although I listen intently to your lectures...", or something to this effect. "Well," Mr. K said, "have you been doing your exercises? Have you formed a study group? Have you tried to ask me for clarification on some of the questions you have?". To all of these, the student said no. This student only has himself to blame for his failure, because all the help he could have gotten was around him, but he did not make use of them.

Well, it's the same for us. Point is, WE HAVE MR. K, WE HAVE A BOOK, WE HAVE THE INTERNET, AND WE HAVE A (FRIGGIN) BLOG! Let's take advantage of all of these. I must keep this in mind, as much as all of you do. ........

You need to read these posts. They are Amazing. Please leave comments behind for the students. I have.

What A Conference

I am still sitting in front of the computer screen waiting for the next set of presentations to roll out of K12online. But all has grown quiet. Or has it. As part of When Night Falls I stepped up and volunteered to keep the grass movement alive. I will create a Skype cast and have the tapped in room going at the same time just like When Night Falls.

When Night Freefalls
was born.

I can hear you asking now when will this take place. I ask that you wait until my marks are in and the reports go out at the end of the week. Then I will sit down, chat with some people and put up the date. It will happen on a Saturday or Friday in December.

I am excited to try some of the new tools I learned to use during K12Online. In our school we have had electronic portfolio's to showcase the students work. I am attempting to have my 120 Grade 8 students create a wikipage each to be their electronic portfolio. This I hope will be a change from the powerpoint presentations they have done in the past. I can teach the students how to embed video, add pictures from flickr and a variety of other things to make this format more appealing.

Here is the problem. I am the math teacher. I will have to teach the other teachers how to do this in a short period of time. They need to be willing to have this change. I think I can sell these ideas to them. If not then there isPublish always my math wiki and math blogs to keep me warm.

Ah the beat goes on...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Oh what an annoyance. The Spammers are attacking my classroom blogs. I have turned of comments and deleted all the bad comments but really. Don't these people (computers) have anything better to do.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Wiki World

For the past week I have had the pleasure of working on a wiki with Jeanne Simpson from Alabama. I have had a blast.

Part of the K12online conference was a presentation by Vicki Davis, The Cool Cat Teacher. She is the queen of the wiki. In her presentation she walked participants through her use of wiki's in her classroom.

Part of her presentation was an invitation to create a wiki. I had dabbled in wikis at PBWiki and needed a refresher on how to create these powerful publishing and educational tools. Her online presentation was the catalyst for a revolution in my 2.0 thinking. Here is a platform that has not (yet) been blocked by the filter police.

Our topic was using Google Video and YouTube Videos in the classroom. Where to start. It took a day or two to figure out the nuances of publishing the wiki. Where the buttons were for creating links, embedding video and adding horizontal rules. All through this procedure Vicky was giving advice and mentoring us. Jeanne and I even Skyped on a regular basis as we were editing the wiki.

A small world story. Darren Kuropatwa first introduced me to the work of Jeanne Simpson a year ago during one of his workshops. Since then she has been a regular in my bloglines account and she ended up being my wiki partner for this project. Luck, fate or happenstance? It doesn't really matter. She was the best partner I could of hoped for and a new internet buddy.

For the week of work that we put on the wiki I seemed to have this constant set of goosebumps all over me. This is fun. Why was it so much fun. My answer is the collaboration with someone (luckily in the same timezone) and the synergy that we were creating. Would this work the same with students? We already are planning some work between our students in the future. Wow K12 rocks!!!!!!!!!

Now that I have finished one topic from K12online now there are a plethora of new presenters waiting for my participation. It is like a new box of chocolates. Which one to eat first the caramel in the corner or the cream filled ones in the middle. Who cares there all chocolates and will taste good. All of K12online is tasty. I'll just have to eat it all up.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

K-12 Online Excitement

Yesterday I listened to and watched David Warlick's keynote address to the K-12 Online Conference. It was great. As I write this blog entry I am listening to it again.

The video followed David around North Carolina and he talked about the ways in which information is reshaping education. David mentioned thatin the past information and curriculum was like a train track which you followed. Now education is more like sidetrips you can take away from the rails. Following the rails still is important but enhancing it with sidetrips makes education more meaningful.

Following the keynote there was a fireside chat in eluminate. Here over people collaberated talking to David and everyone else. This was such a powerfull statement for all of us participating in the K12 Online Conference. The conference will never end if we do not want it to.

We can wiki, use tapped in and blog about all the topics being offered during this conference and continue to communicate and network with each other. By the time the next conference is upon us we could still be learning and enjoying the fruits of the first conference.

Let the fun begin :-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

A heads up!!! The Wiki is coming

I have had this in the works for a while. The Grade 8 Math Guidebook is getting ready to be started. A student created teacher aided guidebook for everything Grade 8 Math at Sargent Park.

Check back for regular updates.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Personal Learning Networks

Once again Remote Access has made me reevaluate how I use blogs. In his latest post, Clarence Fisher Talks about PLN's. I have used and am using blogs to stimulate the student's minds and have them do meaningful assignments. I want this year to start having them see their audience and create a Personal Learning Network. I do not know how this is going start but if they all sign up to Bloglines and find one other school that is blogging about grade 8 math this will be a start.

What if they spontaneously started leaving comments behind and started conversations with other students. Homework help has no boundries. Forget the homework, how about just meeting friends or students going through the same life struggles as them.

I'll start this soon. I still am having loads of problems with Beta Blogger. Need to get all the students signed up first.

Over and out

Update...... I have started the process. Here are the instructions I left the students. Let's see where the story goes. Thanks Remote Access.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I was privelleged to attend the worshop put on by Cathrine Fosnot of New York. She is the author of the Young Mathematicians series that is a favorite of mine. The main idea she focusses on is that children need to be mathematizing instead of rote math.
Some of the perils of not understanding the concpets of math are demonstrated in the following video.

The Math Lesson

Mathematizing is solving problems, posing problems, playing with patterns and relationships and proving their thinking to fellow mathematicians. It was so fun to see these ideas in action in the classroom video clips from New York.

There is a diference between activity and genuine Problem solving. So we need more than "Hands ON" Discovery Learning.

Classrooms become communities. Children meed in groups and as a class to present and talk about solutions to common problems. There is "no wise one". convincing arguments are made to the group. Knowlege emerges in a community of discovery.

Doing math is like climbing a mountain. You take it one step at a time. Sometime you can take many steps before seeing the vista and all its beauty. For students to continue to climb and enjoy the journey they need to undertake this journey themselves. Only then will they continue to climb instead of staying at one leve

Many techniques were used with the young learners. They were always placed in pairs and the pairs were carefully selected. You did not want to put the best student with your worst a A and Z pairing. You wanted to do a A and C parining so that there was a difference but not a vast gap.

The students would receive a large problem on a large piece of paper and then in pen put their answers to the question. The teacher would choose examples of the student work and have the students present to the class. The students would lead the discussion and ask quesitons to the presenters. The teachers role was to facilitate the conversation to hit petagogical ideas.

Teaching was done in the form of mini lessons to activate strategies and ideas. Learning was always group based and fostered math language skills.

I am looking forward to using these ideas in the fraction unit I am planning.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Proposal for the K-12 Online Conference Growing Posts

Growing Posts

I created growing posts when one of Darren's students commented that my classroom blogs were getting cluttered with many similar posts about the same topic. I would have the students answer questions and include graphics and illustrations to back up their thoughts. Since pictures cannot be placed in comments they each had to make a new post. 30 posts a night and 5 questions meant there would be 150 possible posts a week to one blogsite.

There had to be a better way. Then it hit me. I would have the students create one post, have them edit it each day adding new content. The final product would be a post that was a cumulative review of the unit of study underway. I desinged a small set of questions, that showed conceptual understandin, that were to be completed by a set date (2 weeks etc)

As the posts progressed I saw them valuable in many new ways. Students would learn new aspects of blogging technology with each new edit to their growing posts (how to insert pictures, how to hyperlink etc)

When my does scribe posts they only preform a blogging task once every 30 teaching days. Growing Posts were forcing them to complete blogging assignments on a regular basis. The quality of scribe posts improved as they learned from each other how to create illustrations and add other features to their Growing Posts.

I did three sets of Growing Posts in 2005. by the time that the last set of posts were completed new goals for these posts had emerged. Clarence Fisher and Darren talk about a network of learners. A part of the last growing posts was to create links with other students from different classrooms and leave comments behind on their posts. They would also link to Growing Posts that explained a certain question in a different way than their solution.

Growing Posts are a way to enrich your students. Some of my best students pushed the boundries of this assignment adding animated gifs and other new more accurate illustrations.

I started out with 45% of the students participating online(some decided to answer the questions on paper instead) and saw paticipation grow to 60% online by the last Growing Post.

My presentation will show teachers how to set up Growing Posts, The varied uses of Growing Posts, How to get students to network with each other, my pitfalls and successes that lead to the unlimited potential that this form of blogging will bring to their classroom.

Thank you

C. Harbeck

Monday, September 11, 2006

My first post and It is meet The Teacher Night

I have put togerter a post on my class hub. It describes to parents how I will use blogging in my classroom this year. Here is what I Posted.

Meet the Teacher Night
Every year there is an opportunity to meet the parents of my students. I get to explain how my course is run and what expectations I have of the students and of parents.

Assessment in the course this year for the first term is based on test and quiz scores, journalling, completion of TLE-8 computer units, mental math activities and interaction with the classroom blog.

I like to give the parents a heads up on the positive aspects of blogging and the importance of the students being responsible for their actions.

Blogging is a very public form of communication. Bud Hunt, a teacher in the U.S. has these guidelines for his students. I will use them too.

  1. Students using blogs are expected to treat blogspaces as classroom spaces. Speech that is inappropriate for class is not appropriate for our blog. While we encourage you to engage in debate and conversation with other bloggers, we also expect that you will conduct yourself in a manner reflective of a representative of this school.

  2. Never EVER EVER give out or record personal information on our blog. Our blog exists as a public space on the Internet. Don’t share anything that you don’t want the world to know. For your safety, be careful what you say, too. Don’t give out your phone number or home address. This is particularly important to remember if you have a personal online journal or blog elsewhere.

  3. Again, your blog is a public space. And if you put it on the Internet, odds are really good that it will stay on the Internet. Always. That means ten years from now when you are looking for a job, it might be possible for an employer to discover some really hateful and immature things you said when you were younger and more prone to foolish things. Be sure that anything you write you are proud of. It can come back to haunt you if you don’t.
  4. >

  5. Never link to something you haven’t read. While it isn’t your job to police the Internet, when you link to something, you should make sure it is something that you really want to be associated with. If a link contains material that might be creepy or make some people uncomfortable, you should probably try a different source.

One form of blogging work is Scribe Posts.

Scribe Posts

Write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was away sick, or missed class for any other reason, can catch up on what they missed. Over the course of the semester, the scribe posts will grow into the textbook for the course; written by students for students. Remember that as each of you write your scribe posts. Ask yourself: "Is this good enough for our textbook? Would a graphic or other example(s) help illustrate what we learned?" And remember, you have a global audience, impress them.

Students will be expected to contribute one scribe post every 30 classes or about 4 times a year.

Examples of Scribe Posts from last year.

LaraMae did a scribe post during our algebra unit. Her scribe included a picture that accuratly depicted a piece of paper that had been folded into 5 columns filled with notes. It was awesome.

Norielle through the use of one image described and explained how to find the surface area of a cylinder.

Josh showed how to find the volume of geometric solids in tremendous detail.

The Scribe Post Hall of Fame showcases the best Scribe Posts from around the globe. Our student figure prominantly on this site.

Another way we use our classroom blog is to create Growing Posts.

Growing Posts

Growing posts are like unit reviews. Each growing post starts off as one post by the student answering one question about a concept. Each day the students have to answer a new question and add it to their post. At the end of the unit they will have a comprehensive resource of material needed to study for tests or complete assignments.

Here are some excellent Growing Posts

Sometimes students strive for enrichment. Here is an example of intrinsic creativity
Aldrin's Fraction Growing Post

Dion's Growing Post

The Growing Post Hall Of Fame was founded to allow student work to be displayed for the world to see. I am proud of the work that students did last year and am looking forward to this years inductee's.

This years classes will participate in many activities that will prepare them for their future. As parents enjoy their ride through the Sargent Park Math Zone of Room 17. If you dare come along for the ride with them!!

I showed the students this video today. Watch it and see where the world might... is going. It was made by a teacher K. Fisch from Colorado.

Did You Know

Mr. Harbeck

Ah the first post is over. Next comes the appropriate links and other sidebar goodies.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Time for Scribes

Mr. Kuropatwa introduced me to the world of Scribe Posts. It is an essential part of the Grade 8 Math Classroom. You will be expected to write one scribe post every 30 classes or about 4 a year. That doesn't sound like to much does it.

A Scribe post is

The assignment is simply to post a brief summary of what happened in class each day. A different student is responsible for the daily scribe post and they end their post by choosing the next scribe. The first scribe is a volunteer. The teacher's daily involvement is limited to updating a post called The Scribe List which is at the top of the links list in the sidebar of the class's blog.

To complete a scribe post the student must

Write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was away sick, or missed class for any other reason, can catch up on what they missed. Over the course of the semester, the scribe posts will grow into the textbook for the course; written by students for students. Remember that as each of you write your scribe posts. Ask yourself: "Is this good enough for our textbook? Would a graphic or other example(s) help illustrate what we learned?" And remember, you have a global audience, impress them.

Here are examples of good scribe posts Pythagoras Scribe One Day In Math Algebra Masterpiece

Here are some scribe posts that have made The Scribe Post Hall of Fame.

When you are done your scribe post choose another student to be the scribe and label your post scribepost.