Monday, March 30, 2009

On the Radio With Darren.

It is raining posts. I seem to be very active these days. Smile Smile!!

Tomorrow at 9:00 CST Darren and I will be on the radio.

We will be on the Richard Cloutier Show from 9 to Noon. Darren has been on the radio twice before and Mr. Cloutier has a great grasp of the issues and hopefully the audience will be able to participate this time.

On previous shows twitter and other chat opportunities were not available in the studio. This time twitter is not blocked. Please use the hash tag of #cjob in any twitter response that you will have. Mr. Cloutier did not realize the size of the online audience and its global representation. Tomorrow being active on twitter will show this host how the world has understood online social networks in education.

Darren and I will do our best to keep the chatter going on the radio station but if you can participate in twitter and by listening online that would be great. Darren also will be posting soon.

What are our kids doing on-line?
What tactics do they use to stay under the radar? Do kids hide online behavior from adults?
Strategies to deal with trouble. What are common troublesome behaviors that teens have?
I find that predatory behaviour is well policed by users but bullying is still common.

Do you have examples of how online behavior has been beneficial to you and your students. Are there examples of news items that need to be brought to the public's attention about social networking and teens.

Here is more on this story

Here is a story with a Canadian twist,

Going to be a fun morning on the radio. I will tweet an address for the show when it becomes available.

Thanks in advance for participating.

My Facebook Conundrum

I really do not use Facebook often. I prefer twitter to stay in contact with people in my network. Students however live on Facebook. They get home and they go onto the site and start to post things about themselves. They enjoy the contact with other students near and far away. Many of my students have family members on Facebook that keep in contact with each other over the internet. Is it important to have a presence on Facebook?
This is my conundrum. Students are students on Facebook doing all the silly teenage things that students do. Their language is not always the best and they tend to expose their non public persona even though they are broadcasting this to their network. Many of my current and past students have added me as a "friend". This gives me access to all of their online behaviour. How is facebook valuable to me as an adult.

I have found Facebook to be valuable in two ways. Past students now are able to contact me and ask for references and just to say hello. This is the best aspect of accepting current and former students as "friends". Facebook seems to be the tool of choice when they are online. If they have access to me after years of not seeing me that is a bonus. I can also send messages to the same former students to congratulate them on one thing or another.

Recently I have started to accept current students as friends. Since many of them are online daily I have started to leave messages behind informing students of upcoming tests and hidden hints at the math blog. This year I have started to leave up to 40% of my math tests hidden in comments at the blog. Often on all posts that dealt with the topic of the test. In a comment on each one of these posts I will add a question, or leave a helpful hint for students to use if they are studying. I have found it interesting to see the wide variety of students who have been using these hints. Many of my strongest students wait chomping at the bit for the hint message to be posted on Facebook or in the chat box at the blog. Recently however more students have been leaving me messages onFacebook asking when the "cheats" will be posted.

Facebook has its uses. If you do not delve into the private lives of your students but use Facebook as a tool to communicate with you past and present students you can have a positive online relationship with them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You would think ...

You would think that I could get adults interested wouldn't you? Here I am a math teacher who uses technology to get students to write and read math. Publish works of math that teach other students. Most of this work being done at home would make homework get completed by more students than traditional pen and paper assignments.

You would think that I could get adults interested wouldn't you? Well I am losing this battle right now.

My team members do not want to learn about the technology that can make school a place to have fun and learn at the same time. Students during grade 8 will collaborate with other students from around the globe, publish online, be movie makers and so much more. All of this coming out of the math room.

Global Warming. The Earth became the newest Waterworld Uploaded on Flickr image by SoftPIX_Techie

These same students will have electronic portfolios that showcase their Literacy with ICT. When almost all of this learning comes from one person is that a good thing? Why will they not attempt to do something small to capture the imaginations of students. Instead the continue to kill trees and do assignments that do not require much work at all.

I will continue to show them all the different ways in which one can be more connected and enhance the classroom to make it more exciting for students. Perhaps if I was less of an island and more of an archipelago the grade 8 team would be more dynamic.

A rant to expell some STEAM

Last day of school before Spring Break should be a day to rejoice and celebrate with students and the grade 8 team. It was more stressful this year. Perhaps it is because half of the team was coaching in the Provincial Basketball Championships staying up till all hours of the night driving kids home and worrying about the next days game(both Grade 8 teams are Provincial Champs!!!!!). Perhaps it is the weather outside which went from spring to a full out blizzard in a day. Perhaps it is the potential of massive flooding throughout the province. I am not sure. This day was not full of rejoicing and celebrating.

The movie project that the students are doing hit a second due date today and the line up of students expecting to have feedback went down the hallway. It would have been nice to have had some help checking the work from the students from the rest of my team. I am wondering if my communication skills are lacking. I was sure that I had informed all of the due date and how they could help. Apparently I had not. This left me looking at many students work and giving feedback.

Hey it is my job after all. I am not complaining about the work but a bit of teamwork with the rest of the team's teachers would of been appreciated. The work that was brought to me was mediocre at best. Kids rushed and did not really think about the topic of their movie very well. Why are they satisfied with handing in dribble. I feel that the project is interesting enough to captivate and stimulate a students imagination.

Teens today seem to be very satisfied with just doing enough. Doing more than is expected is not the norm anymore. I am saying this and I teach some of the best students on the planet. Where I am going wrong. I need to start to focus on the students that care. The students that want to preform. This seems to be difficult for me. I always want to save the students that do nothing and get them to do something.

So my resolution when we get back from the break is to look after the kids that care. Train them to read my posts and figure out assignments on their own. Get these students to become independent learners and do extra instead of just enough. I know that there will be many movies that are created that are not very good. I also know that there will be enough that are so fantastic that I will have to share things with a wider audience.

Somewhere in the mix I will teach math at the same time. Hmm Thanks for letting me rant. I feel much better. Got a bunch of stuff off my shoulders and now I am ready to come up with new and better ideas to make kids want to succeed.

AHHH that feels better.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How I use my smartboard

I have been blessed this year to have a smartboad in my room. Last year I had one and I had to share it for the second half. Our school bought 3 mini smartboards this year and this has allowed me to keep my board for a longer time.

Darren wrote a post about how he uses his smartboard to teach his lessons. He is a master of the art of using this technology. I still use it mostly as a whiteboard without ink. But I do use it to broadcast my lessons to the class blog. Using a free program called Camtwist I broadcast my desktop to ustream and one lesson a day gets posted to the class blog.

There is no rehersal for this process. It is just teach the way you always would. Talk about open walls. I have a room that is fully transparent. (The irony is that my room is like a coffin. No windows :) )

I will take you through the steps so that you too can broadcast your classes over the internet.

  • Step 1 Get Camtwist or another program that allows you to broadcast your desktop. I have not used it but webcamMax might work on a pc.
  • Step 2 Get a ustream or Mogulus account. Both of these sites are free and you can broadcast and record your lessons there. The beauty is that they have the video on their servers not your harddrive.
  • Before you open your broadcast at ustream you need to have camtwist open to a setting that selects your desktop as the video source.
  • Make sure you have an audio source. I use a logitech camera attached to the smartboards mac mini. The logitech camera works well for capturing video and is excellent for sound.

  • One thing I learned the hard way was this takes lots of RAM. I only had 512 in the mini to start. Now I have over a gig and the machine works flawlessly. Before I upgraded the RAM it would crash regularly.
  • On the smartboard I have firefox open and the smartnotebook open. You are ready to record and have fun. Using the f3 fuction on a mac allows you to go between windows at will.
  • Remember to save the recording when you are finished. Ustream give you an embed code but it is missing the last . You have to add that yourself. I prefer to do a screen capture of the video and add a link to the picture. This takes less time to upload when you are viewing the blog.
I love my smartboard. Broadcasting my lessons make my teaching transparent and allows students to relearn the lesson if necessary. Students who are sick often use the lessons to stay caught up..... if they feel like it ;-)

Here is an example of one of my lessons.

I normally add the slides from the smartboard with the ustream at the class math hub.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Youtube Annotations

This is a repost from the Mathzone

I love Youtube. All of you have access to the class youtube account. There is a neat thing that can be done at our account. Since we own the videos that are created we can add an extra layer called annotations. this means that you can leave comments throughout the video.

I left some comments behind at Charissa's Video.

Your annotation can be a shape or a talk bubble. Please go and leave a comment behind on the video. Make sure that you do not make the video look sloppy with your annotation. You should choose a spot in the video where an annotation will not deter the presentation.

Annother cool tool is to leave a link to your other video at the end of the first video. Just cut and paste the link into the link box in the annotation editor.

Have fun. Looks like another cool tool from google and youtube. I see a choose your own math story happening here soon. This will be so cool!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Why are all the Good Conferences Somewhere Else?

In recent weeks I have been watching as many conferences are broadcast over the net and people get excited about going to conferences and meeting people face to face. Why is my city, province so.... backwards. It is hard to find anything worthwhile to take as professional development. Now this is probably because of the amazing online events out there.

Here is my issue. I live in a vibrant city with some amazing bloggers.

Why are we not doing more in promoting these tools and teaching techniques to a broader audience. Perhaps it starts at the post secondary level. In Saskatchewan they have courses in online learning its potential in the classroom.

What needs to be done. Well I am thinking that the nucleus of educators that "get it" to infect others that want to "get it". I am thinking that all of us will bring one willing participant to a learning environment that is easy and fun and hook some more people into using techniques and tools that kids want to learn.

I guess this is an all call out to Manitoba Edubloggers to get in touch with me and lets come together and find ways to start people on the journey that kids will thank them for. Let's get new teachers using technology in ways that create inspired students.

Let's just get more people to WAKE UP.