Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Unprojects are coming

With spring in the air, dust in our faces and hormones raging in the school this can only mean one thing. UNPROJECTS. The students will be given their tasks in a week and then have 6 weeks to complete a wiki page and then ..... whatever they want to complete the task. What is that task? They have to explain a math topic covered in school this year. Have a wiki page that explains that work in language that their parents would understand and have an"Unproject" to show their understanding of the topic.

Unprojects have been movies, songs, wiki quizes, online games and ........
Clarence just twitted about this movie

Last years sites were and Spunproject07

This years site is Drop on by and see what they are creating.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

E-Portfolios Year 2 What I have learned!

The second time around.

For a few years students at Sargent Park School have been doing electronic portfolios. In the past they have used power point to create portfolios that will be shared with their parents at student -led conferences.

Last year the students continued to do the portfolios using power point but I got them to use a wiki to showcase their math work. The students did a parent quiz and then did math work with their parents during the student led conference. the students enjoyed the different take on student led conferences and used bubbleshare, and slideshare to embellish their work. For my first attempt at using wiki’s it was very successful.

This year we decided to do the entire E-portfolios in a wiki and all subjects came on board.

This was an exciting change for me. Normally I was the lone teacher pushing the technology and 21C applications in the school. This year my entire team participated. Great baby steps for advancing 21st Century learning in my school.

Last year for the math e-portfolios I created one site and all students subscribed and submitted pages. This setup had many advantages.
  1. I saw in the history all changes and edits to pages.
  2. Only one site was needed for all student work.
  3. Access was quick and painless to guide parents through the maze of their math e-portfolios.
One of the disadvantages of this setup was that because there was only one wiki if a student saved a file or image that was named the same as another student the file would be rewritten as the most recent upload. (pic1 uploaded on Friday overwrites pic1 that was uploaded on Tuesday.)

This year with the whole team on board I decided a new direction was needed. I had all students create their own wiki to house their e-portfolios. Within each wiki the students would create pages for each of their subjects and embed work and do assignments that showcase their talents.

This then required a host hub to house all of the portfolios. While this sounds well and good it took longer to navigate through the pages and class then last year.

I do not know work better the previous years model of one super site or an edit of this years. I think I like this years model because it allows students to create file names of their choosing and not worry about file deletion. I would however make them use only one page per subject and creatively use a table of contents to navigate through that page. This would streamline the wiki and make it easier to navigate through.

My team members were apprehensive at first but started to warm up to the idea of these e-portfolios when they say the potential of them to show our Grade Eight students learning on the ICT continuum. The province has mandated that we must report to parents using a paper checklist and simple reporting page. These pieces of paper are not true representations of how their child has use ICT this year.

When you see all of our students work this is a representation of ICT learning. Not a piece of paper. It is a great representation of student work. those who did not complete the e-portfolios are definitely lacking ICT readiness. Then there are those who are off the charts creating works of art that demonstrate their strengths. What the portfolios do provide is a place for students to showcase their work over a period a whole year. They are constantly useing their sites as a repo sititory for their work.
Student Work
Jordan 8-16

Judy 8-17

Kate 8-41
Alexandra 8-73

This is a big change from last year. Last years e-portfolios were static and did not see growth after the student led conferences. This years portfolios are works in progress. The students are starting to use them as these new vehicles for their work.

Some of the problems this year showed up in the set up of the portfolios themselves. The portfolios had too may pages for my personal liking. Students instead of making one page for each subject with a table of contents created many pages for one subject. They were well done but took time to navigate through. One page would have been more efficient.

Now back to the team.They saw and see the potential of using wiki’s to showcase student growth and learning. They are eager to see the portfolios start in September when we begin school next year. They have expressed an interest of having portfolio days where we monthly go into the math lab and get the students to showcase their knowledge and work

So what do I recommend for you when it comes to doing e-portfolios.

  1. Use a wiki. It is the best vessel to showcase the knowledge that is students want to display.
  2. Use your network to find the best embeddable tools to showcase learning in different ways.
  3. This year my newest applications were a source of e-paper that allowed students to import their language Arts magazines online.
  4. also a place to publish on line. This site is more glossy and polished than scribed but less searchable. Scribed offers key word searches throughout all their documents.
  5. This is a really interesting site. It allows students to use a screen like a canvas and add voice to what they are describing. My students really liked the ability to add voice to an explanation of a topic.
  6. Without a doubt the best tool out there for educators. You can upload pictures and video to their site and have other members of the class add comments to what you have uploaded. Your comments can be in the form of text, audio of video.

More will be added later. All student portfolios can be found at

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pan Canadian Literacy Forum

For Darren's take on the events and what transpired please go and read his post Students Rock the Pan Canadian Literacy Forum.

As a teacher you live for these days. Three of my students were asked to participate at the Pan Canadian Literacy Forum Conference. Along with three of Darren’s Students and the two of us we were a panel on 21st century learning.

Going into this presentation I figured that there would be 5 or 6 people in the audience. Wow I was wrong. The room was paced with between 100 and 150 people and it was also broadcast on CC tv to the other provinces in Canada who were also holding this Conference.

The students were amazing. It was one of those... “this is why you teach moments”. The Panel started with a brief introduction from Cheryl Prokopanko from the department of Education talking about Literacy with ICT.

Then I got a chance to introduce what Darren and I do. My introduction was followed by my three students. Now is when I am starting to gush and my pride overflows.

Kate started to talk about collaboration and how we as a class have been working with another class down in Alabama. She did an excellent job telling the audience about the collaboration and the technology (voicethread and elluminate)used to get the job done. Kate explained the Geomonster project we did with the Challenger Middle School Students.

When she was over Karen got up to explain the power and role of E-portfolios. She explained the difference between the regular paper portfolio and the electronic kind. She was an excellent salesman for the use of these assessment tools in a k-12 classroom.

was my last student. He had the daunting task of explaining about the class blog and everything(scribeposts and growingposts) that goes into making it an artifact of the classes learning for the year. He explained the different uses of the blog and the assignments that make up being part of the classroom community. I was really impressed with how he explained the importance of commenting on each others posts.

Now what was really neat. Darren’s students got up next. Three amazing Grade 12 students. Coming to the end of their High School life. The opposite end of the spectrum from where my students were.

Chris talked about the role of the classroom blog. Similar to Angelo’s but in much greater detail and explained the role of community and the roloe of the blog in creating that community.

He was followed by Graeme that explained Darren”s Developing Expert Voices. Graeme explained how much work went into these projects and how proud students were of there finished pieces. He spent time explaining the rubric and how it was created jointly by the teacher and all of the students.

The last student, Mark, was able to convey to the audience the role of audience and the uses of some of the tools at the DMCI blogs. From Google Translator to cluster maps to askme. What a powerful performance.

That left Darren..... Always the passionate blogger and advocate for youth he talked about 3 inspiring people. Dave Eggers the Ted Prize winner, Ken Robinson and Velki .... a Finnish teacher. Darren explained Dave Eggers wish to have more mentors for students and the importance of being a mentor. His was was called Once upon a School.

Darren explained the role of Ken Robinson and his crusade to allow students to excel at creativity.

Finally Darren talked about the role of the teacher Jukka Sinivirta from Finland. He bows to his class everyday. When asked why he says that they are the future of Finland. Finland by the way has the best math test scores in the Western World.

It was then time for the audience to speak out. The questions started out slowly but then a few more people started to ask questions. Most were directed at the students and they handled them well. Darren has a recording of the event and we will put it to a slide show.

I hope the students will have a second chance to preform this set of presentations. There is talk that they might go and visit the Superintendent. It would be a fitting end to some fantastic work.

I am impressed with the quality of work and the effort put into this presentatio by the students। I loved seeing where these students will be in 4 years. Darren’s students did not have exposure to these tools and this pedagogy early in their Grade 8 life. I know technology will change but wow what these students will be able to accomplish in 4 years time will be quite something. Darren receives my first set of student bloggers next year. True he has had some of them in previous grades. But the first real batch of students taking Grade 12 Pre Cal and AP math will be there next year. Watch out for many special things to come out of Daniel McIntyre.

Here are the slide casts of the day. I will be uploading a flickr later today.

Introduction and Sargent Park Students

Darren's Students and his conclusion.