Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Enjoying Ingrid Michealson's New Album

This does not fit in my sidebar easily so I will post it here.  Simply one of the best albums of the year.  Independent, Awesome, Amazing.  Thanks for making the last few weeks of August so pleasurable.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things are going to change this year?

For the first time in years I am using a textbook.  The rest of the junior high bought books in the past years and we are now all using the same book and perhaps this is a good thing.

I have not used texts before because there are so many options out there that are more cost effective.  Also no text gave me freedom to use the best practices from many different sources including the web.

The text the school has chosen is MathLinks from Magraw Hill Ryerson

It has some interesting additions that make it very school 2.0 friendly.  Each text book has a number that allows students to access thier homework from home on the net.  They will have access to a textbook 24 hours a day without bringing the textbook home.  With over 90% of my class having internet access at home this allows me to weave the homework into blogging easier.  Assignments for scribes can change to not only include what happened in class today but examples of the homework that has been assigned.

Each chapter is broken up into interesting sections too.  They start off with a foldable (notetaking device that uses a sheet of paper in interesting ways) I have been using foldables for the past 3 years.  Now there is a text that employs teaching techniques that I use and embeds it in each chapter. The rest of the chapter is the usual drill and practice laid out in an interesting colourful way.  (Doing a small google search I found this site that shows and explains what foldables are!!!)

The book also features mental math strategies and problem solving strategies that are crucial these students having success on their final exam.  All of this is will be avialable online.  I am thinking parents will enjoy having the work to see as well. 

Other interesting aspects of the text are built in math games and challenges in real life.  Anything that pushes students to realize the importance of math in the real world works for me.

Having said all of that above that does not mean that the rest of my teaching will change.  We still will use a wide variety of materials to push conceptual understanding of the math being taught.  All my lessons will be streamed and saved at ustream.  Lessons will be done using the smartboard and saved at slideshare. 

I think what I am looking forward to the most is using the textbook to organize my teaching.  I am all over the map and sometimes to scattered to get maximum understanding out of my students.  I plan on using this more focused approach to push my students beyond where I have taken them before.  If this textbook organizies me and keeps me more focused .... then amaizing things will happen.

Anyways that is just one of the new things happening to me  this year in my classroom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Beginnings for a Good Friend

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dkuropatwa

Today my mentor, the guy who got me hooked on blogging, starts a new job. Darren Kuropatwa is starting to work for the Provincial Government. He will be spearheading the High School component of our Literacy with ICT for the provincial curriculum and training branch. He still will be a snowballs throw away but in a westerly direction this time instead of east.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Nautical9

With Darren leaving the Division this leaves myself as one of the few blogging teachers in a division of over 33 000 students. For the past four years I have felt that Darren and I are on two islands in an ocean. We can see each other on a clear day but there is a lot of ocean out there. Now he has left the School Division and taken on a very noble challenge. Still I will miss the ability to say to my students .... "You know you will be blogging in Grade 12 math. These skills will be important to you."

Darren now has a chance to spread all of his goodness to the entire province. Find more people like me to hook into changing ones pedagogy to infuse technology into our curriculum. He is a master presenter and can convince many people to try and use the new tools to enhance education. While I will miss him at my feeder High School I know he will be doing important work that will help many people.

I look forward to seeing his new ideas and know that John Evans and the rest of the ICT crew will keep him in check and moving in the right direction.

Break a leg Darren. Enjoy your new challenges.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is Education going the way of Newspapers?

Will Richardson, @willrich45 just tweeted about a post he was reading at Seth Godins Blog

Seth Godin is talking about the changes in post secondary education....

Should this be free or expensive?

Wikipedia offers the world's fact base to everyone, for free. So it spreads.

On the other hand, some bar review courses are so expensive the websites don't even have the guts to list the price.

The newly easy access to the education marketplace (you used to need a big campus and a spot in the guidance office) means that both the free and expensive options are going to be experimented with, because the number of people in the education business is going to explode (then implode).

If you think the fallout in the newspaper business was dramatic, wait until you see what happens to education.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by iirraa

So what does this mean for us teachers out there. For those of you who are reading this not much since you have embraced change and see a new model being available for students. But what about our colleagues who still refuse to change or see the change coming. Is the newspaper analogy strong enough to bring about change.

Most teachers understand the death of newspapers in their current form is imminent. This article might push a few more teachers to explore the possibilities of the changing educational world around them. I have passed the article off to a few of my teacher colleagues hoping that they come back to me and ask questions.

What do you think about the article?