Week 1 – Day 3

September 23, 2010

Today was an interesting day. Once again King slept through the night with no problem, woke up around 7:00, went outside, did his thing and then came in for some hallway retrieves. King didn’t really take too it very well, but after a bit of motivating he got into the groove and had a blast. Then we went out to the yard and did some heel work (WITHOUT the choker today!) and it didn’t go very well. I felt pretty frustrated as King hunkered down and followed very grudgingly. It seemed like a step back from yesterday. We finished off with a successful “here” and then went back in to the house where he was kenneled and had some breakfast. I came home at lunch, took him out into the yard again, played some more, did a few fun retrieves and then had to head back to work. I started trying to get King to do his business on the rocks in our yard by giving him not only praise, but a treat as well when he went in the right spot. After work, we all played in the backyard and King and Emilie ran around like crazy. It was super cute to watch. King wasn’t very good at listening this afternoon. He wasn’t very keen to obey “here”, wouldn’t come into the house when told, and nipped at the kids and me. I’m not sure if I over-reacted or not, but I squeezed his snout, looked him in the eye and firmly said, “no”. After this he really didn’t want to listen and seemed to avoid me. It’s frustrating because I don’t want to have the dog scared of me, but I also want him to know who’s boss. After supper I kenneled him as I was leaving for football and Meghan took Emilie to swimming. I got home from football around 9:30 or so and Meghan let me know that he’d peed on the floor (third time in three days – probably not that bad I suppose) but that he wasn’t barking when they walked in so I guess that’s a positive compared to yesterday. I took him out to go pee and again he didn’t want to come when called, didn’t want to come into the house and wouldn’t look me in the face. I put him up on the table, and examined his teeth, legs and paws and then sat him on my lap and just petted him for a while. It seemed like he calmed down with me and then I put a bit of food in his kennel and put him to bed. Interesting day all around. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow!

Response to “The Machine is Changing Us”

December 14, 2009

As a generation X’er myself, I can relate to the frustration and boredom on the faces of the university students in Dr. Wesch’s class.  I can relate to this feeling of jumping through hoops – from coloring maps and pie charts to the numerous lesson plans that were required for our ever inspiring and useful EPS classes in university.  Our society demands education from its young people if they have any desire of attaining gainful employment, but refuses to invest the time, resources and effort needed to bring this system into the new reality.  Even though we are constantly being encouraged to take advantage of new initiatives like structural innovation and project-based learning, and there are many who do a fantastic job, a large number of educators continue to crack open the same lesson plans that have been used for the past X number of years.  If we aren’t prepared to continually evolve our practice and tailor our material to the varied interests of a particular class, how then can we expect students to engage in the exercise in a meaningful way?

But can this be blamed on the classroom teacher?  Classroom teachers have a large amount of responsibility already on their shoulders and with the added commitments of family life, extra-curricular activities, etc., it is unrealistic to expect all educators will put in the effort required to stay current and up to date.  Many of our government mandated curriculum documents are older than the students we teach.  I teach Core French and one of the units of study for a high school class (published in 1999) deals with creating a new game.  There is no mention of electronic devices such as an Xbox or PS3 or Wii, and the only mention of any sort of electronic gaming deals with “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”.  Although we may or may not agree with young people spending the majority of their time in front of a TV or computer screen, I think it is foolish to deny the role video games play in the lives of our students, especially when dealing with a unit based on the pass times of our youth.  Can we truly expect kids to buy in to such dated and out of touch information and do these documents provide us with material that could be deemed engaging or inspiring by our youth? 

One quote that I found interesting was when Dr. Wesch quoted Huxley’s fear that the truth will be drowned in irrelevance.  There is a high level of frustration amongst colleagues and this is evident to anyone who has spent time in core meetings, professional learning communities or whatever the buzzword may be for a particular school division.  The majority of time is spent “dialoguing” about administrative paperwork, setting literacy goals, the new advisory program, etc., but one thing that I have noticed is that discussions relating to best practice and how to engage students are seemingly being left by the wayside.  I understand and appreciate people’s concerns and frustrations with the inner workings of our profession, but I fear that we’re losing sight of our “truth” – creating valuable learning opportunities for our youth while instilling a lifelong passion for knowledge. 

What I enjoyed in this video was how Dr. Wesch outlined the positive ways in which our youth is reaching out to be heard.  I have always had a hard time believing that kids today are flawed and just don’t want to learn and this video reinforced the idea that there is hope to change.  Are there challenges facing the educational system today?  Absolutely.  But there are also tremendous tools available to bridge the gap between stodgy curriculum and a generation of young people who have grown up with MSN, cell phones and facebook.  Why not try to incorporate these tools and get into the learners’ world rather than expecting them to come into ours?

Gaming in Education

December 14, 2009

I was somewhat surprised when I read the blog prompt asking why gaming had become a “hot issue” in education.  I teach Core French and I play games all the time!  Granted, they may not be of the caliber of the educational games Mrs. Martinez was discussing (I’ve got a ways to go before I catch up to EA), but it would be rare to spend more than a week in my class without playing some sort of vocabulary bingo, verb conjugating battleships, Guess Who, etc.  I realize that I am teaching a subject that lends itself to this type of an approach, but I hope this would be the case for most teachers as I believe students can engage with material in a much more realistic way if they enjoy the activity and find a purpose in using the information for a tangible result. 

I think what has caused this to become a hot issue is that educational gaming is now catching up with the rest of the world and has made inroads on the digital world.  By using technology, and more specifically video games, students are having their worlds come into the classroom.  Although I doubt students would dive into a French verb conjugating video game with the same fervor as the newest version of Call of Duty Modern Warfare or Grand Theft Auto, it would provide a means of ensuring students have another way to access the information in a more visually appealing and engaging way.  

Although I think developing a video game may be a tad out of my reach, I have been toying with the idea of incorporating a technological aspect into some of the projects completed in my class.  I’m currently trying to gain some more information and understanding about second life as I really think it would fit in nicely with my subject matter.  It’s a little intimidating stepping outside of my comfort zone but I’m excited to give it a try.  We’ll see how it works out!

Summary of personal learning

December 9, 2009

Check out my summary of what I feel I’ve learned throughout this class.

My first youtube video.  How did I do????

Also, if you’d like to have a look at my final project, check out the wiki that I created as a means of sharing resources with both colleagues and students.

Once again, let me know what you think!

Our home and socially connected land…

December 4, 2009

I found this article in the leader post talking about how Canada is the most socially connected nation in the world and thought it was fairly relevant to what we’ve been talking about.  Have a look.

Final Project Progress

November 12, 2009

So I’ve been putting a lot of work into this wiki lately and I’m actually really proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I wasn’t sandbagging at the start of this semester – I truly was technologically inept. It’s satisfying to look at this resource and know that 3 months ago I was pretty much ignorant of everything technological other than email, Microsoft Word and a bare bones PowerPoint. Over the past month or two I’ve constructed a website, created a calendar, embedded video, linked to a number of different sites, etc. I’ve found I’ve been very particular about this project. I never would have thought that I’d be worried about ensuring the headings all appear in the same font or that the music videos would be put in the order we study them in class. It has been a lot of work but I’ve dove in and I’m happy with the results.

Now for the background. I chose to switch to this project as I seem to constantly have a large number of students sick or away from class for tournaments, family trips or any number of other reasons and I’ve started to grow tired of frequently being asked to provide homework, worksheets,  etc.   I think this will be an outstanding tool to help students gain some independence and provide parents with more of an insight into what their child has been doing in my class. I may or may not have stretched the truth from time to time as a teenager myself, but now that parents can access due dates, resources, rubrics, etc., the ball is 100% in the students’ court.

Response to Bud the Teacher

November 11, 2009

EC&I 831 –Response to Bud the Teacher

This post was absolutely awesome.  I couldn’t agree more with his position and the rationale that he uses to back it up.  I loved his quote that states, “Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem”.  To me, this is completely obvious.  I would have been one of the students sitting in the back of the class trying to figure out any possible way to sidestep the safeguards simply as a means of personal amusement at a stodgy teacher’s expense.

At the risk of sharing too much information about my potentially delinquent high school past, I can remember when I was in high school and Discmans had just come out and were the latest craze.  Those who know me may agree that from time to time I can have attention issues, and in high school there were certain classes that caused this affliction to flare up more than others (how’s THAT for a smooth way of putting it?).

Music has always helped me concentrate and realizing that it was getting me nowhere to be the smart arse, I decided I’d listen to my Discman during the part of class designated for completing the assigned work.  For possibly the first time all semester, I was on task, getting my work done and not distracting others around me.  Rather than receiving praise for turning my attitude around, I had my Discman taken away from me for the remainder of the period as this was apparently not an appropriate venue to use such technology.  When I questioned Mrs. L as to why I couldn’t use this device if all of the lecturing had been completed and I was working on the assigned material, she had no response and simply informed me that she would be keeping my Discman for the rest of the week to teach me a few manners.

I couldn’t have been much older than 14 and I may not have been quite as eloquent as I am today, but I realized then and there that to this teacher, school was simply a means of socialization, not education.  I can’t say I learned whatever life skill Mrs. L may have been trying to instill in me that particular day, but I can say that I made her life a living hell for the remainder of the week that she kept my Discman and possibly the rest of the semester as well.  Oops.

This situation could have been used as a teachable moment to inform me of the etiquette of using such a tool.  If I had been off task and listening to music when I should have been paying attention to the content being presented in class, obviously my behavior would have needed to be corrected.  But to punish a student for taking the initiative to find a means to stay on track doesn’t make much sense to me.

This is the same way that I view the Facebook “pandemic” facing our schools today.  There are neon signs in our computer labs saying that Facebook, Youtube and gaming sites are not to be accessed on school computers.  Why?  Obviously if a student is changing his or her status or looking up the latest UFC knockouts when they should be listening to my ever-exciting spiel about how to conjugate verbs in the imparfait, action should be taken as this is an inappropriate use of instructional time.  But if students can use these tools as a means of accessing information that makes sense to them in a way that I can’t provide, or if a student simply has an interest in a certain area that may not be covered in a school curriculum and isn’t offensive in nature (I won’t get into that one after our class last night!), shouldn’t we foster this lust for knowledge?

Eluminate for the rural Core French “classroom”

October 22, 2009

What an awesome way to ensure programming is available to all students regardless of where they live!   

Rural students talk about learning French online

Now this is a digital story that tells us a lot about what’s going on in a classroom!

October 22, 2009

I’m not sure how comfortable some of you may be in our country’s second official language, but being a French teacher myself, I found this interesting.  The title of this clip on youtube was titled Alberta’s Core French program revealed.  The student is attempting to sing O Canada in both French and English.  The English part is fine but the French could maybe use a little work!  Check it out.

Brutal rendition of O Canada – Alberta’s Core French program revealed

Digital storytelling

October 18, 2009

I really enjoyed this week’s class.  It was interesting to peruse all of the tools that seemed to have a very practical application for both my personal and professional life.  On a personal level, no more lame-o Christmas cards this year – I’m going to try to go digital!

What I really enjoyed about the idea of digital storytelling is that this gives a voice to people who may or may not feel comfortable expressing themselves through other means.  Any time we can open up more lines of communication to allow people an avenue to share thoughts, opinions, interests, etc. in a variety of different ways, it allows us to express ourselves in different ways which is always a good thing.

With regards to the transition from oral storytelling to written and now to digital, I think it is a natural progression.  We’ve come a long way from cave drawings and clay figurines, but at some point even that would have been seen as the new and innovative thing to do.  Humans are always going to try to find new and different means of expression and it is not surprising that this has moved into the digital dimension.  What is surprising is that we haven’t heard more about some of these applications that really are awesome.

I’m guessing that this wasn’t presented just to show people the cool new tools that they can use to cut back on scrapbooking costs or create movies of our kids’ dance recitals.  As this class is aimed at providing educators with the necessary know-how to incorporate technology into our practice, the application of these types of projects into schools is a fantastic opportunity.  Rather than forcing students who might not be comfortable with the traditional pen and paper or even class presentations in front of their peers to maintain the status quo, this could provide another avenue to display comprehension of or engagement with materials presented in a class setting.  And why limit this to the students?  Educators can make use of these tools to present material as well!