Thursday, August 28, 2008

Numbers Numbers Numbers

I was going though youtube and found this.

I do not know how I will use it but.... there have to be possibilities.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meeting Ewan

A short 6.5ish hour drive down the highway brought me to Moosejaw SK. earlier this week. Dean Shareski had arranged for Ewan Mcintosh to talk to his division and others on Monday Aug. 25. I along with my fellow blogger from Manitoba John Evans joined the day long presentation.

Before the presentation my wife and I went for a run around Moosejaw. It was the first day of school and we passed by this sign.

Its cryptic message made me take a picture. It was an enjoyable run and a good energizer before the days work with Ewan.

Most of my notes for the day were taken in twitter. For the key ideas and quotes of the day you will need this link or you can just search the tag mjaw08. More importantly you can check out the vast amount of links he provided us during the day at his delicious page. Warning there are so many excellent links here you could be busy for many hours..... or days!!

This is what Ewan presented. For those in my network that were unable to attend please watch this slidecast.

The afternoon was spent on the premise of gaming in schools. For many teens much of their life revolves around the video game. How is it possible to use these games in a pedagogical way Ewan showed many examples. The one that stood out for me was the use of the Nintendo DS in the classroom.

I guess I am intrigued due to my 3 boys love of their DS machines. If we could harness this love and make it an activity that promoted learning wow that would be the ticket. Ewan mentioned some games that have increased math skills in Scottish students. One of them is Brain Age. This game is full of puzzles and you get to unlock higher levels the further you go.

I do not think that I will ask my principal to buy DS's for the classroom since most students have them at home. I will however ask for money to buy a variety of games to stimulate brains during class or when students are done work. Think of students motivated to work in class so that they can play their DS which also is teaching them math. WIN WIN I think. Stay tuned for updates on this experiment.

This evening I purchased 3 games for my classroom Professor Layton and the Curious Village

and two of the Brain Age Games. I will allow the students to play them when time allows in class. If this is a popular choice I will purchase more games and see what happens. Kids learn best when the motivation is intrinsic. We cannot force them to learn they have to want to learn. I am sure that these games will start to give students reason to work hard in class and for some simple enjoyment and learning without them knowing all the math behind the game.

It was a great trip and I am ready to start the school year!

UPDATE John found this video. It helps explain the role of games in the class.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Crisis of Significance

The Crisis of Significance is a quote from Dr. Michael Wesch's talk to the University of Manitoba on June 17th. Man he was so close yet I wasn't there. Maybe next time.

The "Crisis of Significance" is introduced at the 7:50 minute mark of the talk. Dr. Wesch is talking about questions students ask in class.

Now he is talking about University students but man the same questions are asked in Grade 8 math.
  1. How many points is this worth?
  2. How long does this paper need to be?
  3. What do we need to know for this test?
These questions all go back to the learning process. Earlier in his presentation he asked his students how many were enjoying the school experience and only a few raised their hands. But when this was rephrased as how many enjoy learning all hands were raised.

All of this (I have only watched the first 8 minutes) is hitting home during this preseason before school starts. My students ask similar questions and feel the same way about school.

What can we do as educators to make the learning experience more pleasing and intrinsically motivating for students. I have been blogging and using wikis for 3 years and this will be my 4th. Still most students do not feel the intrinsic need to learn for the sake of learning. They are there to get a number on a test and a report card.

What is needed to get the majority of students to learn for the sake of learning?

My next few days will be all about trying to create a course where students ask questions when they do not understand a concept instead of just sitting there like a goldfish.

I have by chance thank you Alec and Dean been watching Dr. Wesch over the past 2 days. Perhaps you should too.

The talk that got me searching

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Wes Fryer

recently wrote a post about Smartboards. It has gathered quite a few comments and I am deciding to create a post instead of leaving a comment behind.

Wes in his post starts off talking about how Smartboard is requiring a license key to use the latest version of Smartboard Notebook Software. I will admit that having access to the smartboard software for free. It is a cornerstone application that I have used in my classroom.

Wes also points out that some divisions are using IWB's to "showcase" their use of technology. This is a disturbing trend.

I work in a school of 1000+ students. We have to large Smartboards and have just recently purchased 2 mini versions. Cost is a factor on what we as a school will purchase. It was deemed prudent to purchase the two smaller boards. This is all good news to me. I had one of the larger smartboards in my room for the first 100 days of the school year. It is to be shared so I had to give it up for the rest of the year. This was very difficult. I had just gotten used to using it and had found many different uses for it in my classroom.

Video conferencing I collaborated with a school in Alabama and used Eluminate to do some creative problem solving.

The two classes were able to connect and work simultaneously and the Smartboard provided the link so that the entire class could participate.

Class Math Congresses The students used voicethreads to showcase their work. They then used features in voicethread (zooming in on details) to further elaborate on the math content that they had created. The smartboard allowed for an image to be larger than the standard chartboard sized paper we were using in class.

Finally I used the Smartboard to place my lessons up onto slideshare and Ustream. I was just getting comfortable with this when my 100 days were up and I had to give it to another teacher.

Technology needs to be in the hands of teachers who are willing to use it creatively and with purpose. For schools that do not have a huge budget (mine included) place the smartboard in a classroom where it will be used on a daily basis. Arrange a schedule so that other teachers can Everyone wins in this situation. The teacher that uses the board on a regular basis and the school that gets more teachers on board using technology through seeing technology in use.

Wes also mentions that often technology is being used as an extension of 19th C teaching in the 21st century.

"I know, but I am quite tired of seeing so many teachers continue to persist in 19th century styles of teaching using 21st century tools."

Wes also quotes the (The Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation (AALF)

"Only when we put the technologies in the HANDS OF THE STUDENTS and intentionally seek to facilitate student creation, communication, and collaboration with those tools ON A REGULAR BASIS will we be appropriately utilizing taxpayer dollars for educational technologies in our schools."

I heartily agree with this statement. I hope that students will start to create more using technology. I hope to have mathtv up and running this year. It will take what my class blogs have been doing and make it more media fresh for today's student.

My morning time is up. Ben Hazzard of the Smartboard Podcast also responded to Wes's post. It is an excellent reflection on the technology as he sees it. I recommend reading his comment.

Technology needs to be in schools. Too many teachers are afraid of technology. We need to bridge the gap. Kids want technology, teachers need to use it. Baby steps people.