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.