Sunday, November 02, 2014

We Scare Hunger 2014

I took this image

from this website after I watched this video from John Oliver (warning some *&^@@ language)
After you have stopped laughing over the circus peanuts and the insane build up of this holiday I need to tell you about We Scare Hunger.
The idea is simple.  As you grow older you should not be going out for Halloween for yourself.  Do it for someone else.  Imagine if most of the Middle school kids that are out for candy did this activity first.  For those of you who did not watch the video here is a snapshot.  Get dressed up, go door to door asking for food items for your local food bank instead of candy. 

I know that this brings instant credibility to teens in my school.  At Sargent Park we on average raise up to 2500 items for our local food bank Winnipeg Harvest.  I used to be proud of that fact.  I was until this year.  My twins Colin and Alex have done this twice.  Once in Grade 7 and this year in Grade 8. 
This year they did our block and one other side of another block.  Approx 60 houses in just over an hour.  Together in about 90 minutes they collected over 100 items.  This was not difficult.  Approximate math is an item a minute.  Let's use this to figure out how big this could get.

I teach 150 kids.  If 100 go out for 90 minutes they could get... 100 x 90 is 9000 items of food for the food bank.  I on average only get 2500.  Not horrible but you see why I am a wee bit disappointed. 

My other problem is this.  My twins go to the largest Grade 7-8 school in the city.  Almost 1000 kids in those two grades.  We had no kids come by our house doing We Scare Hunger.  This is a sad statement on how opportunities are missed.  One in 5 kids in Winnipeg live below the poverty line and many use food banks.  

More math.  If my kids school did this like we do at Sargent Park.  60% would be out doing We Scare Hunger.  If they all went out for 90 minutes and.... so 600 x 90 is 5400 items of food for Winnipeg Harvest.

We need to empower kids to be difference makers.  School leadership needs to rally their students to want to go out and make a difference.  You all can do the math.  How many 7th and 8th graders do you have around your house.  Do they really need all that sugar? Put those costumes to good use.  Help your local food bank. 5000 teens at 90 minutes each makes 450000 items of food going to those who need it. 

Kids can make a difference

CyberSleuthing is cool

Friday was Halloween and people all around the school were getting dressed up.  I donned my usual pylon outfit which was made from my outrageous orange shirt and a cone strapped to my head.  Film to follow! That is not the story.

 My math teaching partner was a pi rate and had a fantastic costume on.... this still is not the story.  What the story is comes from what she found in her pocket from Value village.  No it was not $2000 it was a vehicle registration from 1978.

Here is what I found out.  The car registered was a 1962 Plymouth Valiant
This was a cool find to begin with but what else could I find from this piece of paper almost 40 years old....
Well it had an address.  588 Gertrude Ave. Hey that is close by my house.  Just over a few miles to the east.  Time for Google again.Thanks to street view this is the house that the car lived at.

 This was getting too cool for school. Talk about your digital presence on the internet.  All of this information from a 1978 registration card.  Only one piece left... the driver.  Who was Anne Steen of 588 Gertrude Ave who drove a 2 door Plymouth Valiant? Once again Google would give me answers.

Anne Steen from the Obituary from 2006 was an interesting lady who tried to run for public office, ended up working for Government and retired to Vancouver......... but here is where the story takes a turn.  Her niece and I worked at a restaurant in Osborne Village in the 1990's.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL.  Wow all of this from 15 minutes of detective work and a computer.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blowing off the Dust

Can you believe it after almost 3 years I am compelled to blog.  Why is that? What has churned up my insides with awesomeness that I have to blog.  Well one name Darren Kuropatwa.  I was blessed this morning to sit in on his session about using images in teaching.  I have seen it all before but Darren being Darren kicked it up a notch.

Before I go into detail with the cool tools from Darren I should really talk about blogging and my lack of it. 

Personally I have not had time.... no I have not made time for blogging or twitter as of late.  Life at school changed with new roles and responsibilities.  I am in charge of our school lunch canteen.  I feed 300 kids various things every day.  It takes up every lunch hour during the school year.  I am not complaining but there went 55 minutes of reflection time. Life at home with 3 teen age boys also tends to get in the way of things.  Choice too comes into play when perhaps I want to spend time with my family and wife or training for a marathon instead of writing and reflecting.  Anyways perhaps this is a reason to write too.  Make time for quick reflection and let some of the goodness and badness out.

Even though I still have maintained student blogs every year since 2007 or maybe 2006 they really did not evolve with the time.  Their main purpose was to build a sense of community and keep the room transparent 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  In recent years students have started to look at the blog a digital paper. 

That was never its intent.  I feel that as my momentum slowed down and I started to learn less so did the purpose at the blog and the students attitude towards it.  For blogs this year to be successful they need to evolve and be what they once were.  Something cool and different that no one else does.  Using new tools to create this community within the blog itself might be the answer.  Many tools that Darren talked about today will allow students to use the blog as a canvas to showcase their learning in ways not yet done in this province and perhaps country.  I am ready to open some eyes again, my students, my colleagues and my PLN.  These kids are ready to show off what they know and l need to be there to help them do this. 

Bringing Blogging Back
So how do we bring blogging back, get that reflection and thinking and create a digital document.  I think it stems from the reason I have not been blogging.  Time.  Kids need to be able to get something created quickly but at the same time do something well.  What if kids use the blog as a digital folder, still do scribeposts but do it in a way that is more efficient.  I had been expecting kids to create scribepost in the same way that Darren and I had been doing for almost a decade.  Life changes and so do the assignments.

I am going to incorporate more video and audio into the blogs.  When kids see the new tools that are out there they should get enthused about blogging and scribing as their older brothers and sisters did years ago.  So what am I going to use? Good question.  What can I use is a better question.  The lab that is attached to my room is so old (How old is it?) that hamsters currently are used to power them by spinning a wheel. 7 year old Dell PC's can type but event that is difficult when the browsers that are on them do not support the java or flash that sites are using. So most of this work will have to be done at home.  For something to be done at home there had better be some kickass apps to use so that I get the use of the thumbs not the video games.

That will be another post but until then I will tease you with this.  Mozilla Popcorn
Imagine making a video in class on an Ipad and uploading it to the spmath youtube account.  
Then at home using Popcorn to add overlayers of links to other places where you could learn about the subject, images and links to more math info and even just some light hearted photos showing elements of the lesson.  This is pop up video meets youtube or any other video on the web.  This can be the driving force of the scribe post with its layers and the blog is the canvas where these videos will live.  
Wish me luck.  Jumping in with two feet!