Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Me and My VAT

My technology class had us link up with a Virtual Associate Teacher (VAT) for the semester. I chose to partner up with Anne Shillolo @AnneShillolo. I joined twitter so I could get my feet wet and start swimming in the social networking world. I made contact with Anne through my twitter account, and discovered that she would often tweet out new blog posts or resources that she found. It was really neat to follow her blog and keep up to date with what she was implementing in her classroom. October became a busy month (report cards) and Anne was constantly keeping her colleagues up to date with new technological devices.  While I was looking for new resources Doug Peterson made a posting about the Brock Students in Zoe's class and our blog posts. It was fascinating for me to see my own materials on his blog. I was so excited to see how he was pushing for fellow educators to take all of us new teachers under their wings that I began following Doug's digital footprint. I began following Doug's blog every day (he makes new posts very very frequently) in addition to following him on twitter. I used many of the sites that Doug and Anne offered in their blogs on my Google Site.  I was so happy to have found such great techno-savy people to add to my list of contacts.

Me and My Virtual Associate Teacher by HollowayKm on StorybirdI will be presenting my experiences with my VAT to my class next Tuesday. I made this short picture storybird to share with everyone. I'll be telling my own story to follow along with the pictures. 

I'd just like to say thanks to Anne, Doug, and Zoe for being so open and sharing what they know with all of us new teachers! 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Google Site

Hello Friends,

For my technology class we had to create a Google Site which could be used a resource. My Google Site, Holloway's History is a resource geared towards an audience of teachers or teacher candidates. When we started creating the site I thought I would like to make a history webpage, but found out that my first placement would be in a World Religions classroom. I decided that I didn't have enough background knowledge to create a website for a World Religions class and instead I wanted to share my resources with the teaching world so they may use them in their own classrooms.

Holloway's History can be used to enhance student learning in the classroom because it is a site where resources can be found in one place. Under the resource tab I've listed a variety of websites which have been created by Canadian teachers and approved by the Ministry of Ontario.  In addition, to these sites, teachers will find resources which I have already used like time toast and story bird to enhance student learning. These types of websites can be used as a teaching tool, but they may also be used for student based projects! Lastly, I have listed some resources which I have gathered from other teachers (and their blogs)who are up to date in technology, namely Anne Shillio and Doug Pete.

Holloway's History does have its limitations. Being new to technology, there are many more resources out there which could be included in the site. In addition, I have not had a chance to try all of the websites in a classroom setting. I have looked at them all, but have not practiced each and every one which makes it impossible to give an accurate depiction of the websites. Furthermore, I am new to teaching and though I am proud of the lessons and the lesson plans I have created, they may not meet everyone's needs. Lastly, the lesson plans are geared toward the World Religions Class. As I teach more classes I will make sure to update the site, but for now it is limited to World Religions material.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Ed Talk: Teachers Teaching Teachers

I wanted to make sure everything was set up for my live and interactive session so I grabbed my head phones and logged on at 8:30 to make sure I was in the right place for my 9:00pm chat. Even though I was all set up I missed the first 10 minutes of the web chat, I could see what people were typing but I wasn’t receiving the video feed. I had to log off, close the chat and log back on in order to receive it, but eventually it worked. I think perhaps joining the chat before the video feed was even set up may have hindered my ability to receive it. Just goes to show how even though we can be prepared we may still hit a road block, but there are always things we can do and we must try again.

I was following more of what was being said in the chat room because it was difficult to read the chat and listen to the webcast speakers because we were often talking about two different topics. A lot of the time the chat would have moved on while the webcast people were still fixated on the subject. For the majority of the chat, the webcam speakers focused on creative commons and open educational resources (OEP). There was a large focus on the legality of taking images off the web without the permission of the photographer. We had a session similar to this in my technology class and I mentioned that it isn’t just students who aren’t siting their images, it is teachers as well. My classmates and I discovered that we don’t set an example for our students as we often take images off the web without citing them. It is a very important concept that needs to be looked into by teachers before they take these images off the web.

The most interesting part of the conversation for me was the talk about a Peer 2 Peer (P2P) class which one of the members had taken. It is a class that taken online through interactive chats and its focus is peer learning. It was a 7 session course, which has all of its materials available online to look at. The class had a variety of teaching techniques including seminars, discussions and teacher led discussions. The best part of this course is it allows teachers to take control of what they are learning. The ideas of the course come from the participants themselves. They build the course together, instead of having someone else come in a lead it. It sounds like a great idea and opportunity for people to learn in a safe environment.

I found the Ed Talk to be some-what useful. The topics discussed were interesting but I was hoping there would be more talk about technology in the classroom and what tools they were using. There were some websites which the mediator Paul Allison provided me with at the beginning of the chat when it was just the two of us. The NWPDigital Is website is a collection of ideas, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world.  The other website provided was the Peer 2 Peer website which was discussed in detail in the above paragraph.  

The Ed Talk was intimidating for me. I’ve only participated in a few live sessions and all of them were with my classmates. This talk had a group of teachers who all knew each other and met for this session weekly. They enjoy the session because it gives them the freedom to express their thoughts openly, gather more resources, and share their stories with fellow teachers across the world.  It’s a great space to have open communication between members who are seeking to learn more. The drawback to this online learning session is that often topics being discussed don’t relate to where you are teaching. I found this when the teachers were talking about badges in America. This is not taking place in Canada, so I didn’t know what they were talking about and found I wasn’t contributing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Time Toast: Milestone Lesson Continued

After I gave the class a brief introduction to the Milestones of Islam through my Story Bird (see previous post) I showed them a made up timeline on time toast which went through the three Milestones in Islam: birth, marriage and death. Once they were able to grasp the concept that this timeline was not real and did not depict my life, they were very interactive and engaged. They really liked the photos that time toast allows you to upload. I provided the class with a graphic organizer which told them the three milestones and listed any important ceremonies within those milestones. The students were responsible for providing the details of the events.

After sharing my timeline with them, I had the class create their own timeline where they used the text and the information on their note. They had class time and were responsible fore completing the timeline for homework if it wasn't finished. It was a great lesson, which they had a lot of fun with. I loved it because I was able to explore two different technological tools in the classroom and both were met with success!

Story Bird: Milestone Lesson

My VAT does a great job keeping up with the technological devices of the 21st century. One thing  Anne Shillolo blogged about was Story Bird which I created for my Grade 11 World Religions Class. I found it was very simple to create and easy to use. It is only useful if you plan on writing few words or else the pictures won't fit on the screen. It was a neat technology tool to give brief details. I used the story to give very simple details on Islam so they were hooked in the lesson. I think it would have been great to have the students create the own digital story and it is something that I will implement in my own classroom (provided computer labs are available or the school allows the students to BYOD).
Milestones in Islam: Birth, Marriage and Death by HollowayKm on Storybird

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Reflecting on Block 1

All of my classes are having us do simple reflections for them, they want to know what was great, what was hard, what was surprising or unexpected, and what we need to know for next time/should have known for the first block. In the spirit of keeping this short, I'm going to share with you the area I felt least prepared

I felt very unprepared when it came to the area of marking. We never did any practice marking in any of our classes where we would give a grade value to a student. It was something my Teacher Associate had expected me to already have experience in, so we didn't really go over it to much other then however many marks its worth is how many different pieces of information I'm looking for. When I was marking these kids, I sometimes felt that if they came up to me and argued there mark I would be more than happy to change it because who am I to tell them what they deserve?

All of my classes taught me something before I left out for my block, but I feel like it was only in a few that I was given the opportunity to practice these teachings. My teachable classes did a great job of introducing us to lesson plans, how to plan them and write them, this was essential for me. The class that did the best job allowing me to implement the tools was my optional Technology class, Zoe did a fantastic job giving us a wide range of tools to use in our course of teaching and she always gave us the opportunity to practice them in class.

In closing, I had a fantastic experience out on my teaching block. I'm very thankful for what I learned before I left, I just wish I could have been more prepared form the technical area of marking. I did a great job with formative assessment, providing my students with a lot of feedback for their success, I just wish I had a little bit more. I'm excited to learn more, because one day I want to truly believe this video can apply to me! (Thanks Anne for sharing this with me.)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Micro Teaching #2....Using Prezi!

I had my second micro teaching lesson today. I did a 15 minute lesson on the youth and entertainment during 1920s. I was determined to implement some technology into my lesson plan this time because last time I fell short. I decided it was time experiment a little bit, move out of my power point comfort zone and try doing a Prezi. My efforts proved to be very successful, my classmates commented on how the effects were very eye catching and entertaining. In addition, I experimented with importing some u tube clips and showed a Charlie Chaplin silent film and a mash up of the “Charleston”. For my first prezi, I think it was a pretty eye-catching presentation and I’m proud of my efforts!

After my presentation, I had the class do a little slang activity. Rather than have them write a letter (which was done when I was in grade 10), I decided I would implement something they would be used to. I gave them a photocopy of a blank cell phone and told them they would be writing me a text message that would be no more than 5 sentences. They would be responsible for using 1920s slang words and incorporating something about fashion, film or dance.  It was a fun activity for them to do and because I said “text message” I think it was even more appealing. For homework, my hypothetical class would be responsible for posting their text messages to our class’s blog and answering one of the two questions which I would have posted.

All in all, I was pretty happy with my attempts at implementing technology into the classroom. I’m very excited to continue experimenting and to bring more technology into my own classroom when I head out to teach!  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Google, how I love thee

I had a group presentation today, and we did our whole presentation collaboratively on Google docs! It was such a great tool to be able to access from anywhere and all of us could use it. We accessed our power point through the internet! No need to bring in a USB or our own computer... It was there waiting for us. Where were Google documents when I was in high school? I can just imagine how much more simple group projects would have been if we could have used Google documents. How easy would homework have been in group projects if we could have all worked together through Google documents? Thank you Zoe for introducing me to this amazing Google tool that I can use in my classroom! How great is it that you can monitor recent activity and find out just how much work is being posted by different members of the group. If you haven’t tried Google documents, do it NOW! 

I'm also a fan of the igoogle website. I've got my website set up mostly for keeping track of my fellow peers blogging websites. It updates the latest posts they created. It's a great place to keep all of my information in one place! Not to mention it has all sorts of neat gadgets. I have one that gives me a new quote every time I go online, I can play hangman, get the weather, a joke, and some useless knowledge! It's a great tool to enjoy! 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

12 Most Important Things

In many of my classes we have been talking about what qualities the best teachers have. When my classmates and I toss around ideas our list of qualities looked something like this: fair, knowledgeable, gives specific expectations, effective communicator, and interesting. According to my psychology text book, the top five things students’ love the most about teachers are when they have a sense of humour, make class interesting, are knowledge, able to explain things clearly and spend time helping students. 12 most important things

While I’m sure my textbook has lots of research to back up its statements, it turns out it’s those small things that we do which students notice and love the most.  My Virtual Associate Teacher had this link on her blog about the 12 most important things children want from their teachers. All of the things on the list seem like common sense, yet when my class was listing off qualities we didn’t hit very many of them. It put a smile on my face to read them...I got to see how my simple actions will make all the difference in the classroom!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hesitation to Technology

This week I have been preparing for my micro lesson, which I taught today. It took me 8 minutes to teach the lesson and approximately 4 hours to prepare. When I was preparing for my lesson I tried to implement a variety of way to teach the lesson to accommodate for different learning styles. I created a handout which had step by step instructions on it. Then I decided I needed visual pictures to go along with the written descriptions. Finally, I demonstrated the activity with the class.  I searched the internet for the visual aids and even watched a couple you tube videos to give me some ideas on the best approach. I was thinking about where I would have been without technology... I wouldn’t have had the ability to check out other people’s ideas and I would have had to create the visual aids myself on the computer. Suddenly, a lesson that took 4 hours to prepare would have probably taken me 6 or more.  

After I thought about this, I realized that even though I utilized technology in my lesson preparation, I didn’t use it at all in my actual teaching. It got me wondering why it is so easy for teachers to use technology but so hard for us to implement it into our classrooms. I realize that my lesson was only 8 minutes but there are ways I could have used some technology. I could have used a projector that would allow that class to see my demonstrations on screen or even played an audio clip on how the game is played while the class was still working. With all these tools available what makes us hesitate?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thoughts on Technology in Education

When I tell people I’m taking an optional course, they always ask me why I want to burden myself with extra courses. My response is always that it isn’t a burden if you’re interested in the topic you’re taking. I opted to take 8Y59: 21st Century Learning- Teaching the Digital Generation because I’m completely aware that the children in my classroom will be up to date with the current technology. I would like to prepare myself so I can be as up to date as possible.  I took this course, so I could learn ways of integrating technology into my classrooms. 

Wordle: 21st century learning
It’s my belief that technology should be implemented in the classrooms. The students we will be teaching are interested in technology! Since we have found something they like, we should implement it in our teaching practices in order to keep them more interested. Half of teaching is learning about your students, finding out what they like, and using this information to keep them engaged in the classroom. We already know that high school students are interested in technology, therefore, we should do our very best to use it in our classrooms. My wordle up above describes some of the new devices and approaches we should be implementing into our own classrooms one day.