Monday, November 19, 2007

More on Facebook

I am having my grade nine computer class complete a webquest on social networking. They have to create a presentation/debate for the class on their opinion as to whether or not social networking sites should be allowed or banned within the classroom. I can see already that some have conflicting opinions. I think that most students think that all of the sites are harmless, but they have to take on the perspective of different groups of stakeholders including parents, educators and even online predators. Once they have researched various sites and perspectives on social networking, they have to take a stand. The next step is to create a presentation which includes some technological presentation. I am in the process of creating a rubric to guide the student outcome.

I used the following webquest site to get started:

I have temporarily blocked facebook to motivate; perhaps that was a bit drastic, but I wanted to get their attention.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Social Networking

Facebook continues to grow in popularity with the kids at my school. I think that most kids from 7-10, have a profile.

I started using facebook a couple of months, and I quite enjoyed connecting with some of my friends and relatives, the ones that I usually don't get a chance to see or to talk to on a regular bases. Connecting with people and socializing is critical; the Internet can't replace those f2f relationships, but this tool is powerful in keeping connections alive.

I encourage my students and my children to use the tool appropriately. Don't let it replace the f2f relationships. Rather, use it to nurture and even create some relationships. For some kids, it can give them some confidence in beginning a "converstation", but hopefully they don't become reliant on a tool to maintain or begin f2f relationship.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I have now been in my new role as Principal for a couple of weeks and things seem to running well. I only get to teach Grade Nine Computer Class which is great, but I'm not supposed to teach at all. I know that I will really miss teaching English. I am presently showing my Grade Nine class my blog, so that we can create some class blogs together. I haven't decided if they will create blogs with a partner, or with a small group. We have spent some time discussing privacy and confidentiality issues in relationship to Facebook and personal blogs.

They are also working on creating tables using WORD as well as Movies/Power Point biographies. We plan to spend time this year working on Podcasts, Spreadsheets and Publisher.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Another new school year is just beginning. I am excited to begin my new role as Principal; I think that there will be many new challenges and rewards in this new position, and after working as Vice-Principal for several years, I think I ready...

I had a very difficult summer, so I am looking forward to returning to work. I'm anxious to be immersed into the daily routine of so many great kids and staff! I took some time off of blogging and many other of my regular activities, so it feels good to be back to some routine.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I definitely agree with Chris Hitch when he states that change is difficult and it doesn't always bring out the best in the people, myself included. I am finding these last couple of weeks of the school year to be very difficult. I am trying hard to be positive, to focus on the good, and to believe that change can be good. I know we'll be OK. I know that I will always continue to try to do the best that I can. I want to work hard for my staff, students and parents with my IT constructivist goals and all, but transitioning can very tough...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Great Moment

Today was one of the busiest days of the year; I was trying to organize teaching assignments for next year speaking to teachers to ask for some input. Of course, I couldn't make everyone jump up for joy. I should actually do a tally, because my husband tells me that I tend to spend too much of my time worrying about the one or two that are not happy. He continually reminds me that they would be unhappy with our without me in their life. I guess I know this, but there is just something inside me that wants to just do the best that I can do. Ok, I've done that. That actually felt pretty good to say . Who knew it would feel good?

Ok, the tally - There was one teacher who wanted to hug me; she actually was going to - I should have.. Another teacher whom I only spent two or three minutes with - she was happy. Ok, another was very pleased. One more really surprised my and worked even harder with her assignment. One was ok, a bit confused, but good in the end. Another five or so were fine. Two were not at all happy - one somewhat got over it. Another was very distraught... Actually 12 out of 14 is pretty good... Could it have been better? I don't know how and I thought about it for quite awhile.

Anyway, this afternoon I was walking towards the staff room and one of the grade eleven girls stopped me to ask me if she could help. She said that I looked tired and she wanted to helpme with whatever I was doing. I told her that there really wasn't anything that she could do. What a doll. One day, I hope my son marries her; one can wish... It was a good moment. What sweet kids; I am trying hard to find a twin community for our exchange. Youth Exchanges Canada has approved our trip, but they have been unable to find a twin community. Hopefully we will find one before the end of September.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Smart Boards

I attended an excellent workshop last night on the use of Smart Boards. I was very impressed and now I want one; I hadn't ever seen one "in action" before. There is some great potential for collaborative learning, exciting lessons, manipulatives, and student motivation. This type of instruction fits more readily into our kids' lives: instant images, choices, video, sounds,.. I was very impressed with some of the interactive lessons, and especially the Jeopardy templates.

M. Gavel did an excellent job, and she is inviting discussion on the use of Smart Boards on her blog. Of course, I can't participate much because I don't use one, but I'm going to see if I can find one... I would love to have one in my class, but I keep purposefully forgetting that I really won't have a class in the fall. I'm going to ask my teachers who wants to work with me to learn this new technology.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I am working on the last two weeks of my Masters' Degree, and I have made a time line. It will be a busy two weeks with a thirty page paper to do; I do have a pretty good start but it will take the next seven days of working long hours after school to complete. In addition, I have to create a presentation, but that won't take long once the paper is complete.

With school coming to a close, there is still so much to do at my school: finalizing staffing, grade configurations and course offerings. We are behind this year, because we are waiting to see how many new students we will be getting as a result of school closures. Hopefully we can finalize this in the next week to ten days.

Lots to do...

Friday, June 01, 2007


I am thankful for the support from colleagues. I am away for the weekend to attend the Provincial Mine Rescue Competition in Saskatoon; I had the day planned for quite awhile, but I am glad it came now.

The weekend will be somber because one mine team scheduled to compete will not be coming to the competition. Instead they are continuing their rescue mission of one lost gold miner. The Seabee Mine is located just north of La Ronge, and I think they are into their third day of trying to rescue one young miner.

I'm going to relax for a couple of days, and then get back at my seminar paper next week...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Busy or Crazy

I think I am forgetting who I am...

In the last few days I have had:
- my life threatened - and I am pressing charges
- organize and hold an open house today, because a neighbouring school has closed down. We want to to make them feel welcome and accepted if they choose to come to our school.
- I have driven 4 hours to go to a University class (last night)
- to submit an assignment for my class
- working on a 20-30 page seminar report
- creating a staff survey
- to attend two evening meetings - one I just came home from where I created a presentation about our school
- I could go on and on - but I still feel hestitant over sharing all of my thoughts with the world. I do plan on writing a book one day to tell all of the things in my life, but not yet. My life is still tied precariously to others.
- not to mention - teaching half time - OK- that attempt was poor today
- I have to write a math test for Friday
- and my kids - one has a music recital tomorrow night

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not Many More Sleeps...

This is proving to be one of the most difficult times of my career. I am taking over the role of Principal , which of course has not officially started, and I am trying to finish my last University class. I feel anxious, excited, nervous, overworked and definetly underpaid. I think I should start up a business; I think I should take a couple of courses in computer science and learn more about languages and software development. One of my brother works as a Computer System Analyst for SED systems in Saskatoon, and he is an amazing guy. He and I could work on a few projects together. I think that what we need is more CAI which delineates best pratices and which aligns with the curriculum. After teaching for nineteen years in so many different subject areas, I think it would be a fantastic challenge. I'm going to do some collaborating with a few people over the summer...

Professional Development and IT

Does Technology Really Change Education?

I believe it can, but professional development is necessary. Teachers, must understand constructivist pedagogy, and how it applies to education. They need to understand that IT can be a powerful tool to support this paradigm shift in education. Karen Henderson's Beyond the Mouse and Modem 2006 results show that only 13% of all educators completed the survey. I was disappointed with this turn-out. How many of the 87% of teachers who did not complete the survey are IT illiterate? How many educators chose not to complete the survey? How many may have started the survey and quit? Were there some who did not know about the survey? I encouraged my staff to complete the survey, but I'm not sure if they all did.

I have been thinking about embedding curriculum consulting. Would the best consulting practice be half time teaching and half time consulting? If I taught ELA and SS for half of the day and had the other half day for working with teachers on my staff and teachers on a few other staffs. There seems to be evidence to support that peer tutoring/teaching is very effective. I could be sharing my ELA unit activities/lessons/assessments with the teachers as I/we use them.


Friday, May 18, 2007


I have spent a tremendous amount of time mulling over student attendance, particularly with the grade eleven and twelve students. I need some advice. I would really like to know what types of policies are in place in other schools. What are the steps/procedures and what are the consequences? My own son is in grade eleven and his attendance is very good. Obviously one of the contributing factors of this is me.

There are many other parents who feel that their children need to begin to make their own choices in grade eleven or twelve when it comes to attendance, studying and behavior, and I do agree with this. However, many parents will phone the school and simply inform us that their child will not be coming to school in the afternoon or day, or the parent will phone the next day and say that their child had a doctor appointment, I just forgot. I believe that in many cases, this is simply a method for the parent to avoid a fight with their child, and parents may assume that natural consequences will prevail. If their child does not attend regularly, their chances of success are greatly diminished. The conflict that I am having is that the odd parent will not create an alibi for their child and therefore these children receive consequences. I realize that I can't control this, but will the "diligent" parent continue to be diligent regardless of school consequences? I feel that there are probably only about 20% of the students receiving consequences for their "absenteeism's" and these are the ones who do not really need it.

Any advice??

Embedding Professional Development

Today was a good day. Some of our elementary and middle years' teachers attending a math workshop in our school. Our math curriculum consultant and guest came to our school to provide this workshop. I spoke briefly with one of the teachers after school today, and I she seemed excited about the morning. Most of our staff is participating in a Math PLC and I think that we have made some progress. It makes far more sense to target our needs within the school, design a plan together, implement the plan and then reflect on our progress.

I would like to see us continue with this PLC and I would also like to see a tech PLC developed. We have a few experts in our school, who could lead workshops to our teachers. It makes sense and its economical.

On another note... Last fall, we implemented a Pre-K program in our school, and even though we had many reservations upon entering into this new plan, I think we have all agreed it has been a success and a great addition to our school. Currently, there are discussions and plans around implementing a day care program within our school and it is planned to begin this fall. This program will not only help the working families of our community, but it could also benefit many others. For example, we have run a few adult programs in our school in the evening. The day care facility could provide service during these particular times to help facilitate adult learning. I am sure that there may be a few concerns and/or gliches with this new plan, but there are usually a few growing pains with anything new.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Busy Day

I just finished my post for Leader Talk about all of the things which are on my mind: I just can't decide about continuing my education with a doctoral degree. I think I have decided that I will apply for February 2008. I feel like I am making to many selfish decisions; my family has made many sacrifices because I am continuing my education, but I just feel this need to continue.

I have lots of homework to do this weekend - read a book and write a 500 word summary. I guess I'll do that tomorrow; I'll take my laptop outside and enjoy a little sunshine.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Responsible Technology

We need to teach students to be responsible citizens when it comes to the use of technology. Students need to understand courtesy, respect and responsibility. If a teacher asks a student to close his laptop or turn off his calculator, then he should do so out of courtesy and respect. There may be several reasons why a teacher asks a student to follow these directions that may or may not be explained. The teacher needs to be respectful and firm. If a teacher asks a student to create a pseudonym for a classroom blog, then a student should do so. The teacher should explain issues of privacy and respect. I have started another student blog about Shakespeare with my ELA 9 class, and we have spent some time discussing respect and privacy. We have created “user names” and we are working on our fist trial posts. Today I asked my students to comment on the postings of other students. We discussed what and how. One of the students asked if they should point out spelling/grammar errors to their fellow classmates. There were several suggestions, and we have decided that the best way to correct our peers is through modeling. For example if one student notices that every possessive apostrophe is missing in a post. Rather than focusing on this, it was best to model the appropriate use through a reflective comment. All of the students agreed that this might be the best method. We are going to experiment with this. I am currently teaching one class about the use of wikis. They have not “joined” my space, but I have provided the website. Almost immediately we had an issue with names being erased as we tried out the editing. At first I thought that the names were being erased on purpose, but this was not completely the case. There was one name erased on purpose, but the kids are willing to help me solve this issue. This is an example of bullying, and it is an issue that surfaces once in awhile with this group of students. I would like to say that things are now all rosy, but it is an ongoing issue. I feel less confident with some of the younger students with regards to security and respect with regards to some of the technological applications including blogging. This must become a priority.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gardner and Technology

I plan to heed the advice of Howard Gardner (2000). He states that educators need to focus on two broad goals at all times, including the discourse on technology integration. The first goal should focus on students becoming certain kinds of adults. For example if we want our children to become civil then we need to develop their interpersonal skills. Video simulations and chats can create virtual reality situations. The second goal, according to Gardner (2000) is to get students to understand the major ways of thinking. Using technology, children can understand theory development, test hypotheses. If students are studying the causes of World War I, they can use newspapers, photos and models. Technology can become a viable and efficient medium to teach these goals. Materials are easy to access, they are vivid and fun. They address the multiple ways of knowing. Technology also provides speed and traverses great distances.

Gardner (2000) cautions educators:
Clearly, a marriage of education and technology could be consummated. But it will only be a happy marriage if those charged with education remain clear on what they want to achieve for our children and vigilant that the technology serves these ends. Otherwise like other technologies, the new ones could end up spawning apathy, alienation, or yet another phalanx of consumers. (p.35)

A Bit of a Break

I have taken a bit of a "blogging" break, and I'm not really too sure why I have done this. I don't feel refreshed, and I don't think that I needed to be refreshed. Anyway, I have been busy since I finished my University course and next week I start my final class to finish off my Master's Degree. It will be hectic because I have to drive to the city (2 hours away) twice a week for 6 weeks!

One thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is a doctoral degree. One of the University professors suggested to me that I set up an appointment to discuss applying for the program. Apparently applications have to be submitted by February 2008 to begin studies in the fall of '08. I am a bit confused. I think that I have always wanted to do this, but I realize what a huge commitment this would be. My oldest child will be graduating next fall, so he would be gone from home when I begin my studies. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. My youngest child will be entering grade eight... I am started my new position as principal this fall, so I'm sure that many new challenges are awaiting me. I love learning, and the possibility excites me.

One other very important factor is my husband. He has always been there to encourage and support me in all of my endeavors. Maybe it is my turn to try to just have a more "normal" marital relationship. A relationship without the long hours of me ignoring him so I can get my homework done....

School is so busy right now with working on staffing for the fall, spring fever, maintenance issues, fundraisers for student exchange and graduation. Traditionally our grad has always been the first Saturday in May, which means that our grad is this Saturday. The kids have been very good, but there is one issue that has always plagued me since I have been at my present school: truancy. The problem really isn't habitual or extensive, but rather parental support of his/her child's truancy. I would say that a small portion of our population has this issue. I have spent several hours thinking about how to address this problem, and I think that the most realistic method is simply to state that if a student is 16 or over, then the school will be responsible to report the student absence to the parents, end of issue. I'm going to continue to contemplate this issue, and I plan to include other stakeholders.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vancouver Sun Run

The Sun Run was fantastic! I wasn't sure how I would enjoy running shoulder to shoulder with almost 55 000 strangers, but it was amazing!

I starter under the green and it took me 58 minutes and some seconds to finish the 10K route. I didn't break any records, actually not even close. I was placed at 11 000 something or other, so technicially I finished in the top half - even the top quarter, not bad for a first time. If I decide to do it again, or another run of this type, I think I might do a little serious training - trying it three times before hardly qualifies as training...

I went with two of my sisters and we stayed with our first cousin who works as an air traffic controller. It was my fist time in Vancouver and it was great! Anyway, I'm exhausted - pathetic eh?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leader Talk

I wrote my second post today for Leader Talk regarding professional development and technology. I feel so strongly about this issue because I believe that there is such unlimited potential for student empowerment. Please take some time to peruse Leader Talk; there is some great stuff happening.

Today, I spend the majority of the day cleaning up my office, and I found that I was feeling a little sad thinking about the past six years which I have spent as Vice-Principal. I thought about beginning my to-do list for the fall, and then I thought that at present I have so many things on the go that I would wait until I can fully concentrate on my new job.

I have been missing my son who is still in Kelowna golfing with a couple of golf coaches. They take 16 boys for 8 days for a golf camp. Today they were golfing at Vintage Hills, so I hope they had a good day. Tomorrow they are golfing at the Harvest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I would just like a little input regarding the issue of “HATS”. Over the past couple of years, my staff has had a tough time agreeing on the issue of students wearing hats in school. The main problem is the hallways. None of the students wear their hats in class, but in the hallway they put them on their heads as soon as a teacher walks away. I have been of the opinion that this is such a non-issue. There are days that I wish I didn’t feel this way, because it is such an important issue to some of my staff members. I empathize with them, because it is important to feel supported. I want to be supportive, but I just don’t get it. I really could care less if kids wear hats, shorts or halter tops. It just doesn’t matter to me; what does this say about me? I’m still reflecting on this; I’m not sure. Also, our SRC has decided to hold every Friday as a “Hat Day” which in my opinion is contradictory to the hat rule! I have expressed this opinion to the staff, but I think this is an issue which they need to work out. Each student has to pay a dollar to wear their hat for the day (teachers wear jeans and pay the same) and all of the money is donated to Telemiracle. I think this is fantastic; we have worked hard at our contributions to Telemiracle! I think that my noncommittal attitude may be contributing to the issue.

I do feel strongly that kids do not wear clothing with inappropriate messages, but I don’t usually notice these unless someone points it out to me. I think that I am very observant when it comes to personalities and personality conflicts among students, so I’m really not walking around with my head in my papers all day. Any suggestions?

Second Life

For those who are interested – I’m still on Orientation Island. I can’t seem to drive, even though I can fly! I’ll get off of the island sometime, but I only have a couple of days before I go to Vancouver for the Sun Run. My name is Camadali Ducatillo if anyone is interested.

My Daughter's Blog who is in Sixth Grade:


Monday, April 09, 2007


I have had a stressful couple of weeks, but I’m beginning to feel the anticipation and excitement. I have to hold off though, because there is MUCH to do before then!

I was offered the position of Principal at my school beginning this fall, and I accepted! But before I can begin planning and work I have to get through the next couple of months. I have just finished my second last University class, and I have one more to do which begins in May. It will be a tough one because I am required to drive to Regina twice a week for six weeks – the hard part is the distance (two hours one way). We also have our graduation coming up the first weekend in May, but I really don’t have to do too much – everyone at my school really pitches in and helps. I am organizing a fundraiser for our Grade 11 exchange trip which will take most of the weekend of April 20/21. Also, I help to coach Senior Badminton and we have games all next week – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night. We then begin play-offs for two weekends in a row. Plus, my own two kids… For them, they are really between seasons. My daughter will begin baseball, and my son is already into golf. He is in Kelowna right now on a provincial golf camp, and he is loving it.

Anyway, I know that I can get through the next two months… With or without sleep. I’m very excited about this weekend, because I’m flying to Vancouver with two of my sisters to participate in the Vancouver Sun Run!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Here a a couple of interesting educational resource links from my class:

Grade Six Webquest - Integrated Science and ELA project:

Saskatchewan Sustainable Development Project

Grade 4 Farming Unit

Second Life

One of my classmates M Brooks has introduced me to Second Life which is a 3D online digital world. When you first begin you will need to create an avatar... which can have your characteristics of your own physical body or something much different. The possibilities of creating/building learning communities for students seems to be unlimited. I plan on getting started on my own journey over EAster. I'll let you know how it goes.

"Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 5,172,486 people from around the globe.
From the moment you enter the World you'll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you've explored a bit, perhaps you'll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.
You'll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow residents. Because residents retain the rights to their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other residents.
The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world unit-of-trade, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online Linden Dollar exchanges. "

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Today I asked my boss to identify my professional weaknesses. He cautiously told me a couple of things. (Apparently, one must be that I don't take criticism well.) He told me that he thought that I should be careful about personal friendships with staff members. I feel that I respect and like each of my colleagues. I respect these people for so many different reasons. Some of them are kind; some are helpful, some are reliable, some are extremely intelligent, some are extremely dedicated and hard-working, most of them have that special touch with kids, some are friendly... I could go on and on, but I think what he really meant was that they all need to feel the appreciation and respect of their bosses. I have always felt such admiration for my colleagues, but now I know that I have to share this with them – all of them. Not just the ones that I think I more receptive to my praise. I think I know why I haven't done this in the past. I have felt that my praise really isn't worth much to some, being only the VP. Most days, I really underestimate the effect that I may have on people, even as their colleague.

The other issue that he mentioned is "listening". We (probably all teachers and administrators) tend to want to solve everyone's problems. They come for help, and we assume that because we are the "boss" that they want us to fix their problem. I really don't think this is the case. Many times they just want someone to share the issue and affirm their point of view. Over the years, I have tried to remind myself of this, and I will continue to strive towards being the "coach" on the side. Perhaps, it is the motherly instinct (or parental) in us where we feel the need to control and solve all the problems.

We did go on to talk about our strengths, but I haven't enough time to go through all that. (Haha)....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A New School Day?

Changing Our Schools to Meet the Needs of Today’s Kids...

I feel that we could make some big changes to today’s schools:

1. We need to incorporate PD into the regular day/week. It NEEDS to be scheduled. Some teachers may want to read journals. Some teachers may want to blog. Some teachers may want to work on the University classes. Some teachers may want to work with math manipulatives, or plan a unit of team teaching. This PD needs to have a point or a personally created portfolio – something for accountability, as long as the teacher has input into this.

2. Teachers/administrators need to leave their work at work in order to maintain healthy lives. This could mean an 8:00-5:30 or 7:30 – 5:00 work day. Perhaps there should be one or two evenings scheduled for two hours. Weekends are for self and family. I feel that this is important for health and longevity. Change and initiatives do not usually come from overworked and tired staff.

3. Students could be at school from 7:30 to 9:00 and 3:30 – 5:30 if they or their parents need them to be. This is crucial. Kids need our support. We can schedule this into the work day. For example: The average teacher would teach 4 hours/day, prep and correct for one, lunch and breaks – one hour, PD for one hour, supervision/extra curr – 2 hours. This extra curricular might include supervising kids in the gym, lab, resource, tutoring, playing games, talking, counseling…Our day needs to support our kids. Today’s kids are on their own and this is often for hours before and after school and lunch hour. Why can’t they be at school, just like they are at home. Have a large common TV/computer/games room – multifunctional room. Provide breakfast and snacks… Let’s face it – much of the best times at school for teachers and kids are all of those informal times.. These kids with two working parents, single parents… they need us.

4. Let’s invite parents to have a cup a coffee when they get off of work when they come to pick up their kids. Kids ages 14 and up could come and go, and perhaps kids ages 11-14 could too, with parental permission and/or guidelines. We (staff and parents) could create this outline together. Maybe this is happening.... Let me know...

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Few Difficult Days

Difficult days

I’m certainly not a poet like Kelly, and if only I could sound as eloquent as several other bloggers… I guess this is part of the reason why they blog. I started to blog as an experiment – just to see if I could. Then I continued to blog for my grad studies. Now, I’m blogging to connect. I simply could not have fathomed the connections – from people in positions just like me, to gurus and experts. I have been spending time perusing elearnspace, which takes about Connectivism, and until I began this journey into rss feeds, checking my google reader each day, I really didn’t contemplate the possibility of such a journey. For the past few days, I have been pondering over my learning. As June 30th looms ahead, I have been worried about many things. I will be finished my Master’s Degree – where will I find those invaluable leads? Colleagues are moving/retiring. Technology is changing so rapidly – how will I continue to grow.. Where can I continue to study?

Now I know where I have some “connections”!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Class Act Portals

I have been reading some interesting work by Tom March on Class Act Portals, and I have been contemplating class and topic. A Class Act Portal is relatively the same as a class blog, but with the following differences:
- The new blog/portal needs to be a passionate interest for the teacher. The reason for this is that the teacher’s passion will rub off on the students. The topic should not just be selected because this is where the class is at in the curriculum.
- The topic should be timely; something from current event could have sparked the topic.
- The topic should also lend itself to technology: blogs, photos, podcasts…
Tom March provides a list of possible topics that may spark your interest. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cell Phones....

I thought about discussing this issue in a diplomatic way, but I decided that there are times that I do need to “be unreasonable”. Usually I am very easy going; I love to listen and help people, but when teachers are upset about kids having cell phones, I am often a little annoyed. I have studied leadership styles and do tend to favor Greenleaf’s servant leadership, focusing on listening and empathy, but when teachers complain about kids and their cell phones, while carrying their own in their pocket, it really irritates me. I do believe that there are some rules which are different for kids and adults, but not too many. I teach 50% of the time, so I’m not just sitting in my office telling teachers that it isn’t an issue. (I’m really not saying that’s what full time administrators doJ.)

I had my first student cell phone encounter about a year and a half ago, before there was any real discourse on the topic. The student’s phone rang, and he looked at me with sheepish eyes. I politely asked him if it was an emergency and he said not really. I told him that I didn’t want to see or hear it again in class, and if it was an emergency then he could leave it on and set it to vibrate. He could then be asked to be excused and he could take his call outside of the classroom. At that time his brother was involved in a serious court case. That was the end of that, and I know this boy still carries his phone every day to school. I have never had an issue with him again. (And as a VP, I deal with discipline; I’ve never heard of those behavior specialists… sigh)

I think that if we treat kids, regardless of their age, with respect, the same way that you or I want and expect to be treated, then they will. Of course, there will be times that they falter, the same way that we all can. I have engaged in regular discussions with kids regarding the use of cell phones, and they understand the issues better than we do. They don’t want people cheating and they don’t want their pictures/videos taken without permission any more than we do. In my classroom, we come up with the rules together, and then they help enforce them. I make it sound so simple, but it isn’t always this easy. I’ve been in a few debates with kids, but in the end we usually agree on the important issues.

Now, let’s hear yours.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Leader Talk

I have been invited to participate in a new blog - Leader Talk which was just created by Scott McLeod. Like usual, I was a bit hestitant to begin, but I think this blog will be a great opportunity for educational leaders to create a community where we can discuss and hopefully debate current and relevant educational issues.

I had a difficult time with a topic for my first post - which was today - but I had the opportunity to listen to a CD on leadership by Kevin Burns. He is a motivational speaker from Red Deer, Alberta. It was quite inspiring and it caused me to take some time to reflect on my journey.

Take a few minutes to have a look at some of the great posts at, and get involved with the discussions.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


My son has been playing a computer game for quite a few years called Civilization. He and his uncle (my brother) have played thousands of hours over the past five or more years. I paid no attention to this game; I trust my brother implicitly - he is 26 years old. Anyway, if my son's golf career doesn't take him to Georgia (where he is dreaming of going), then he is going to study archeology at the U of S. I just recently realized where this love originated - Civ.

I believe in this era of connectivism and constructivism, educationally based computer games can play an integral component.

The 12 Principles of Civilization ™
Although it exists online, a web community is primarily a human association. To best identify the necessary elements for building such community, it’s vital to look to the study of human interaction. The 12 Principles developed by RealCommunities, Inc., are based on sociological principles and offer a framework for creating and sustaining vibrant web communities. These principles are also a tool to help community producers remain rooted in their community vision while making strategic or tactical decisions. Once we’ve established the underlying human qualities that drive our coming together online, the 12 Principles give us a unifying view from which to design and implement technologies to support and enable such online communities. And finally, they provide a methodology for figuring out community functionality priorities.
These principles are ordered in two groups: The first six relate to the underlying human needs and expectations inherent in any community, while the final six focus on the framework and structures that must exist to ensure a group’s viability and success. None of these principles exists in a vacuum; each relates to and depends on the other factors. For instance, without identity and trust, there can be no reputation. In many cases, each principle stems from the previous principles. Thus, identity grows out of shared purpose, trust flows from identity and reputation builds from trust.
1. Purpose: We have a shared goal or interest.
2. Identity: We know who’s who.
3. Reputation: We recognize and build status based on our actions.
4. Governance: We regulate and moderate behavior according to shared or stated values.
5. Communication: We have ways to share information and ideas.
6. Groups: We can relate to each other in smaller numbers.
7. Environment: We interact in a shared space that is appropriate to our goals.
8. Boundaries: We know who belongs and who doesn’t.
9. Trust: We know with whom we’re dealing and that it’s safe to do so.
10. Exchange: We have a system of exchange or barter and can trade knowledge, support, goods, services, and ideas.
11. Expression: We have a group identity and know what other members are doing. We can easily indicate our preferences and opinions.
12. History: We can look back over our history and track our evolution.
Moving up the pyramid from foundation (history) to high-individual need principles(purpose) illustrates both the relationship between principles and their relative importance.
Online tools can facilitate each of the 12 Principles in online communities if the tools are designed and implemented to help community members answer their questions. We will look at examples from sites that have effectively expressed one or more of these principles.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Connectivism and Constructivism

Learning Theories - There is much to ponder. I think that the 21st century classroom needs to have technological literate teachers who believe in accomodating students with differentiated instruction to accomodate multiple intelligences. These classrooms need to have foundations of constructivism, perhaps just moderate constructivism, and I also like the discussions revolving around connectivism. Knowledge is rapidly changing; it doesn't last forever.

George Siemens has provided valuable information which I have tried to internalize:

I have been reading about connectivism and I understand this to be a comprehensive learning theory. Learning is network formations; learning focuses on the process and educators can enable the connections (as well as other sources). Today's curriculum courses are "cracking" because they are one dimensional and much of what we are teaching (the knowledge that we are distributing) becomes useless. The knowledge growth is so rapid - knowledge has a shelf life. There are so many new types of connections related to the attainment of knowledge such as Wikipedia (open source applications), rating pages, ... New knowledge and connections are being created so rapidly.

Content is so different today: creating, saving, accessing and sharing has become so different. Anyone and everyone is involved in these simple tasks, tasks that were once so difficult and time consuming. We need a model for teaching that will keep what is important current - this is a challenge. I believe much of this theory of learning, and I especially like his discussions regarding hard and soft knowledge.

In addition, there are factors on perception - belief, emotions and motivation. I firmly believe that these three factors play the largest role in learning. I also favor the theory of multiple intelligences; I believe that there is a genetic component involved in which method of learning works best. Factors affecting perception and multiple intelligences strongly affect my beliefs about learning and teaching. However, I feel that curriculum development needs to be guided by connectivisim and constructivist learning theories. Educators must address this issue of the shift in this definition of knowledge, and students need to become competent in managing the abundance and types of knowledge.

After reading several blogs tonight (
G-Town Talks), I tried making a few connections.... If we could embrace these learning theories: constructivism, connectivism, and multiple intelligences... would there be such controversy about rules regarding cell phones and mp3 players?? Would teachers be more willing to embrace students'personal tech devices, because as we utilize these theories, we would need to be building more safety and security into our daily teaching?

Just a thought to ponder. ..

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vancouver Sun Run

The Vancouver Sun Run is being held on Sunday, April 15, 2007, and my sisters want me to go with them. I love to run, and I try to run a bit - in my spare time - lol. This is supposed to be one of the biggest charity races, breaking a new record with over 50 000 participants in 2006. I am quite excited about the possibilty, but I have to work out all of the details.

Wish me luck with training! Two of my sisters are 12 and 14 years younger than I am, so I better find some time to do a little! (One sister is older and I know I can keep up with her- Thank goodness!)


I have been researching the use of widgets, which I'm sure most of you will know more about this than I do. Apparently they have been around for quite some time, only they were called badges or modules? Now with Vista, obviosuly they may become more popular. I understand that the new windows comes with already installed widgets (weather and news). I'm supposed to be receiving Vista in the mail; I bought a new computer in January. From the brief reading that I have done, there are two kinds of widgets: web and desktop. I have been tryint to install a couple of web widgets onto my blog, and I think that I have been successful - bookmarking and a calendar. I plan on adding Flickr, but I have to get to my marking and my paper. I am hoping to do more reading and work with these widgets over the weekend.

These widgets may prove to be a very popular and convenient method to manage all the "new knowledge" of this digital era, another step in creating networks.

A Not So Good Day...

If today there is no full moon, I don't want to go back to school. Plain and simple. Today, I had "discussions" with more kids than I think I had in the entire year, or so it seemed. My colleagues tell me that I sometimes tend to exaggerate, but I really don't think I do.

In addition, my laptop is gone with the technician. I hope he drops it somewhere along the way; it has never worked properly from day one, which has only been about seven months. Today, he found that the touchpad does not work properly, so now he is going to blank the entire machine. He took it to repair it about 3 weeks ago, and it worked for perhaps an hour or so. He is an excellent technician; I keep telling him that it is just a dud. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong; my brother works as a computer system anaylst and he tells me that 1 out of every 4 machines do not work exactly they way that they should. Now maybe he told me this when he was having a computer moment; I'm not sure...

What else... My daughter plays hockey on two teams, and one is finished; my son plays for the Midgets and they are done. Anyway, the two teams that should be finished, apparently are not. Everyone now wants to play exhibition games. I admire the organizers and coaches thier energy, dedication and enthuiasm for the sport. But, some of us are ready to move on to the next thing.

Educational issues.. The Education Act states, "Every pupil is accountable to the principal's general deportment at any time that the pupil is under the supervision of the school and members of the teaching staff, including the time spent in travelling between the school and the pupil's place of residence." I have some difficulty comprehending this issue, and I have consistently interpreted this as the time that elementary students are walking to and from school. I have disciplined several elementary students for fighting/bullying incidents on the way to and from school. This could before school, at lunch and after school. I do have concerns over the legalities of students who drive around at lunch hour, before and after school. If senior students are choosing to take alternate routes/methods to and from school what control do I want/need to have over this. I have heard of administrators keeping student keys at the office over lunch hour, but this seems too uncontrollable and risky. I find this a a very "grey" area... I need to write a news article on this subject, so I'm going to remind students that they may be disciplined under this section of the Education Act.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What is Learning?


I have been contemplating learning. What do I really believe? This is such a complex question, that I want to try to answer. I have so many thoughts, and for me the acquisition of language has been the most difficult. According to Gardner, I am quite confident to say that I would rate my linguistic ability in the bottom half of my abilities of the intelligences. My definite strengths are mathematical-logical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial and naturalistic. My ability to comprehend language is fairly strong, but to me my expressive language is lacking. There is so much I have to say and want to say, but it seems like I have only ever been able to communicate about 10% of what I have mulling around inside of me.

I believe that knowledge is constructed, and that there are certain truths. The amount of knowledge is vast and unfathomable. These truths are created by our society, but nonetheless they comprise standard knowledge. Knowledge is situated and constructed differently by each individual. My daughter knows how to sing and play the piano. She has learned piano by listening and memory; her teacher says she has an “ear” for music. She can’t be bothered to read the notes. She has learned through one type of situation, a cognitive apprenticeship if you like. My son is a very good math student; I believe this is genetic. My father and my three brothers were exceptional math students. One of his strengths is math-logic. He has also become a very good golfer; this he has learned from his family, mainly his father and grandfather (definitely not me). He has learned through a community of learners, repetition and guidance. One area of future interest for him is archeology, and I am quite certain that this came from watching the Learning and History channel, playing computer games like Civilization. He also reads historical novels – the same ones several times. I’m not sure where this love for history came from, but I do know that his love of reading came from my modeling.

Some things that my children know have been self-taught. For example my son can draw and fade his golf ball. His father likes to think that he taught him this, but he didn't. He watches the golf channel for hours. My daughter is very interested in creative writing. She has been writing stories, and magazines on her own for many years. At this very moment, she is working on her magazine (and it isn't for school).

I can honestly say that I recall very little from high school. I did well in most of my subjects, but nothing really mattered to me, other than leaving my family home. Going to school was very difficult. I never felt safe, secure, normal or accepted.

The point I am leading to is that I truly believe that learning can only occur in nurturing, safe and caring environments, and this is what is holding many of our students back from learning, and becoming all that they can be. I think that we have vastly and ignorantly ignored this vital component - this hierarchy of needs for both students and educators. When I was in elementary and high school, I felt very isolated. I hope that as educators, we try to have the understanding and compassion about what many kids are going through each and every day at school. My experiences have shaped me into the educator and person that I am today, and each and every day that I go to school I want to help everyone be all they can be. I want them to feel safe and important. My own children have “learned” the most from these teachers. I believe the thing that matters the most to our students is that they are accepted, nurtured and encouraged. This has to come first; this has to be the foundation. If people feel secure, then they can be guided and coached to learn and thrive. Everyone wants to feel like they truly belong, to a community.

Learning: once we are safe, secure and encouraged to learn, we learn within a situation. Sometimes these situations are forced upon, and sometimes these situations are created by choice, but there has to be a connection to a situation before the learner can begin to construct his/her lown knowledge. Because I feel that motivation is key, I think the learner retains more in a situation of his/her own choosing. The other key indgredient is inate intelligence.

Just a few thoughts…


What’s working well? Well, I think that there are several things that are going well. I think that my journey into blogging is going well. I enjoyed reading Jeff Boulton’s discussion on connectivism – how this peripheral medium facilitates this new learning theory. After perusing a few sites, I realize that this theory seems to be a combination of theories including behaviorism and constructivism. Bloggin allows us to create a community of learners. My next step is to begin the filtering process – creating those connections that I find fit into my situated context of learning.

What brings you great pride and joy? I enjoy watching people learn. Yesterday when I was on a road trip for my son’s midget hockey team I spent some time chatting with my sister-in-law, which we often do, but it isn’t always about learning. She was talking about her community college class, how much she loves the technology and what she is learning. She was so excited talking about PowerPoint and Access. When people are learning and loving to learn, you can see so much pride and fulfillment in their eyes. This makes me happy.

How have you made a difference for good in the lives of those you serve? I can never know for sure; I just hope I have helped a few along the way…

What brings you quiet satisfaction? I really appreciate when other colleagues discuss the important issues. I don’t want to hear the negatives, unless I have to… I want to hear ideas, collaboration and excitement. For too long, (the first ten years of my career) it seemed almost taboo to ask others for help and ideas. This absolutely and completely confused me. I just could not understand the point of this – we weren’t in a race, (I like to win those), there were no big prizes at the end of the day.

What have you learned over the last few months? That is a big question for me today! I have learned so much over the past few months! I have learned more about blogging, podcasts, assessment from Stiggins, connectivism, and much more! I have been reflecting on my journey as a teacher, for my EC & I paper which I am working on. I have learned about problem based learning from our curriculum consultant…. No wonder I’m exhausted!

How can you use this information (above) to move your organization forward? This is the golden question. I feel very strongly that PD needs to be mandated. Teachers are too busy, and I know that many of you are thinking, we’re all busy, it’s just an excuse… Most individuals, professional or not, do not know exactly what professional development will do for them until someone guides and/or pushes them to the starting line… I am going to continue to share my knowledge with my staff and students, and hopefully some of my excitement will rub off on them!

I think that Jeff and Steve should try..... answering.... with very profound answers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Convention and Sports

I attended our annual teachers’ convention yesterday, which turned out to be only one day because of the new family holiday. For the past (almost twenty) several years, convention has had the same structure: two days, keynote motivational speaker, several greetings, and break-out sessions. Two earlier conventions stand out in my mind: Minot and our own staff retreat to Fort San. These two were fantastic. Minot was a great opportunity for staff bonding. In addition, I was young and we stayed up most of the night singing and visiting. The other convention was a staff retreat which my principal concocted, which turned out to be a success. Not only did we bond, but we had some great PD! We collaboratively developed a vision and we really took some time to understand and appreciate one another.

Anyway, I found this years’ convention to be quite enjoyable, and I think one of the main reasons is because it was a little different. It was one day, and I attended a lunch meeting. I like change and I think so did the majority of the teachers. I’m not sure what I would mandate for convention if I had to decide for the entire school division, but I do think that a little change is important. Convention used to be the only opportunity for PD, but I think that the perhaps the goals need to be readdressed. Are we getting together to socialize with our colleagues? If this is so, then we need structured activities to foster this. Are we getting together for information dissemination? For motivation? For professional development? A combination of purposes? If we need to focus on professional development, then perhaps the one-day shot is not enough.

I have been thinking about the lunch meeting regarding outdoor pursuits, and I was impressed by the passion that I saw from some of my colleagues. I can relate: my kids are actively involved in athletics: hockey, ball, curling, badminton, volleyball and golf. My husband played Junior A Hockey and he loved and lived it, so I understand the passion. I think that some of our school coaches who are passionate about their work could take it to the next level – this is just encouragement. Too often, in my rural setting there are too many kids that can’t compete, especially when it comes to golf. This saddens me because I know how much pleasure my son has obtained from this sport. Some sports are very expensive – golf – equipment, shoes, fees, rain gear… This stuff really is needed, and many kids cannot participate. Other kids can see that they can’t get any better if their parents can’t get them a membership or lessons. Perhaps we can spend more of our money on really developing more of these life-long sports like golf, biking, hiking and curling.

Just a few thoughts…

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Teacher Supervision

Another interesting thought came to me today when I was conducting a teacher supervision… related to professional development. I feel that this experience is one of the best types of pd, and the sad part of this is that only administrators get to benefit from this process. I have observed many competent teachers, and during this process I have reflected on my own practices. I think to myself, “Do I do that? Should I try this?” Today, I thought that why couldn’t we ask teachers to select/partner up with one other staff member and ask them to do a “supervision” of each other. They would not have to submit their evaluations to anyone, just perhaps a record-taking process. That process should include observations followed with discourse, and I think that if they could select their partner(s) they could gain a tremendous amount of insight, ideas and support. This could be a way to build a staff as a team….
Just an idea, perhaps a crazy one…

Trying To Encourage PD and Change...

After having a few more discussions with colleagues regarding changing teacher practice and philosophy over the past week, I really think that professional development must be required to maintain professional status and the time for this need to be incorporated into the regular school day. Educators are busy and most of them will not create the time to develop and reflect. I think that they feel this may be important, but they probably don’t feel that they have the time and the energy “at this point in their in their life’.

The school day could be structured differently: the school could commence at 8:00 am – students at school from 8:30 – 4:30 or 5:00; teachers could work until 5:00 with 3 hours working time built into their day. Some of this time should be devoted to professional development, perhaps 5hours/week and the rest of the time – 10 hours for preparation… The younger students 5 – 14 could be at school for the entire time if needed/wanted by families, because many of the older students are roaming the streets until parents get off of work. Time for structured play, educational movies, reading time (hour at a time for 10-14 year olds) exercise, and homework… could be built into this day. Teachers would be encouraged to only work at school, so that they can have more “normal” working lives. I have often felt that one of the reasons that teachers do not want to add PD to their lives is because they are so used to working at home. The thought of adding more work to their home lives is just not appealing, regardless of how important it might be.
Just a few thoughts…

And... thanks Dean.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I'm feeling a bit unsure of this entire blogging process... I was slightly alarmed to read a new post which referenced my blog... Thank you, but I feel the sudden need to proofread everything that I have written for fear that there may be too many idications of my lack of intellect and insight. I'm trying... I have never really enjoyed this writing thing; I would much rather talk, do Calculus or read - almost anything else...

Now that my nauseousness has passed, I really would like to share my thoughts and ideas about problem based learning. I need some quick, relevant and practical literature to help me understand how to implement. I understand the basic components and its constructivist foundation, but I have been searching for practical ideas. For example, my grade ten math class is working on rational and irrational numbers, solving equations and polynomials. We were doing a review today on all of the basic operations involving fractions. I want them to create a visual to represent what it means to divide and multiply fractions - illustrate 5/6 divided by 1/2. They thought I was crazy. We discussed this for awhile, and I think that perhaps tomorrow they could do this in small groups, even with a few variables! We'll see! I think this may be a good practical example of pbl, but I would appreciate any thoughts and directions...

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Girl Like Me

I was perusing a couple of blogs when I watched a short video:

Perhaps I've had a rough weedend and day, with many troubling issues, including a tragic event in a neighbouring community. Other issues include community sports and approaching deadlines for my Univserity class. In addition, I've been feeling sick, along with my daughter. While I was groaning and trying to sleep last night, my husband was tending her while she was vomiting much of the night.

Anyway, this particular short video, caused me to recall my intense feelings towards acceptance. I have always been passionate about human rights. One issue that I have come across over and over in my experience is the intolerance and abuse towards people who are of an alternate sexual orientation.

I think my human rights' soap box was built as a result of one of my relatives who kept her brother's existence a secret from me for about thirty years. I learned of his existence when he died; he had been institutionalized his entire life because he was mentally challenged. I was shocked. I thought we were past that; this was about five years ago. While teaching, I have contiunally heard many slanderous comments towards students with differences, including slow learning and sexual orientation. My sister has Down's Syndrome and she is a beautiful young lady who seems to be accepted by society. Of course, this would not have been true fifty years ago, or in my relative's case, at all. I believe that we are learning; it's just a very slow process.

Anyway, back the the video. It angers me when I hear young people who are so sad because of what society expects from them, regardless of what it is: skin color, sexual orientation, intelligence, or body image. To me, this is key issue when we are standing in front of our classes each and every day.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Last week I started a wiki for my colleagues, and I just sent out invitations to join this past Thursday night. I think that I invited about twelve people. I have posed the question/topic for contributions for our next staff meeting, and two staff members have contributed. On Monday, I am planning to ask the staff who I missed for invitations, and I am going to ask a couple of them for feedback. I'm not sure how this will work; hopefully they will use this venue to bring up items and try to collaboratively solve them. Time will tell.

Protecting Children From Technology?

Educators and parents spend a tremondous amount of time tyring to protect their children from evils, including the Internet. Should we continually and completely block and protect kids from the Internet?

Children need to be exposed to technology and not protected from it. Last week I was discussing the use of blogs with my grade seven computer info class. I was explaining to them that I was contemplating incorporating the use of blogs into our class, but that I was a little concerned about privacy and purpose. Later when the students had some free time to check their student email and Blackboard, one of the students showed me his friend’s blog. At the same time a student beside me, showed me his piczo website. Both of these sites were filled with pictures, names, comments… I was pleased and concerned at the same time. I spend a tremendous amount of time checking our media/Internet forms to ensure that kids have permission to have their pics on our school website. After viewing these two student sites, I noticed one particular picture of a student. This particular student’s parents have emphatically stated on their Internet form that they do not want any pictures of their child on the Net. Is it my responsibility to ensure that our students are not violating the privacy of other people? What should I do now? Most teachers have no understanding of blogs, piczos,.. I can’t possible police what kids are putting on the Net at home. I did spend quite some time talking to both students and then the entire class about placing things on the Internet. I think that now, I should get the kids to create blogs and/or sites and teach them about privacy and permission, even though there are no hard fast rules. It is crucial for us to take the lead. If most educators don’t understand what kids can do on the net, I can assume that there are just as many, or more parents, who are unaware.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Art of Podcasting

To date, I have created two blogs, one wiki, two podcasts and several post contributions. The first time that I created a podcast was very easy, of couse this was after spending a few hours downloading software, Audacity and Lame... I recorded the story "The White Canoe" for my grade 9 ELA class; they seemed to enjoy this. The second time I created a podcast, another story for my grade 9 ELA class, "How Nanbush Created the World". A couple of students listened to this story today, but most of them will listen to it tomorrow. This podcast took a very long time to create. I'm not sure what the problem was, but I tried 3-4 times before it would upload. I don't believe that I did anything different, but I'm not sure. The entire process took about two hours, which is that technical issue. I will create a few more over the next week. I have been contemplating other podcast uses, and I think that I might try a few different things.

I created a wiki, in which I have asked my staff to contribute ideas/issues for staff meetings. I haven't asked them this yet, and I am a bit hesitant. Some staff members seem to be a little impatient, and OK, perhaps slightly annoyed with my excitement when it comes to technology and the vast opportunities I imagine... Who can blame them? I don't understand them, but they should try to appreciate my efforts and enthusiasm, the same way that I appreciate and try to understand their excitement over drawing, basketball or a new mig welder. In case, you haven't interpreted my voice, I am trying to be funny, which I know I'm really not. In all honesty, I really don't "get" the importance of a mig welder or a lathe or whatever else is in the shop. What I do understand is the love that my shop teacher has for his students and teaching; he truly is inspiring, just like the rest of my staff. Anyway, I do plan on asking them to provide some input into my wiki to try it out. I just have to wait for the right time:)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pocasting in Schools

I have been contemplating the use of the podcasts in the educational setting. I feel that there may be some useful applications, including support for Learning Disabled students and for English Language Arts classes. With the disappearance of cassettes and simple recording devices, we have struggled over the past few years with creating voice recordings. I recall many teachers creating recordings of stories and novels for absent and LD students to enhance instruction. Students often find it unnecessary and a waste of time to reread stories and novel selections. By providing audio recordings, students are exposed to another method of revisiting a story for further reflection and study purposes. The podcast would allow for simple rewinding, and a much easier way to tag and find certain sections of an audio recording. Over the past 5-10 years, we have purchased several types of software for our students who are non-readers including Dragon Naturally Speaking, Wynn reader and writer, and other cheaper types of software. The Wynn Program works very well, but it is very expensive for individual students and families. Because it comes with only one site, this makes access difficult. One of the main issues with these types of software is the quality and unfamiliarity with the voices. With the podcast, the students’ teachers can record their voices which I believe would be much more user friendly and welcoming for the student.

I think that because listening and speaking is integral to the ELA curriculum, podcasts could/should be a natural and necessary strategy for educators. I have always felt as an educator and as a parent, that the most influential and necessary component of creating literate children and adolescents is listening and learning to love literature, and there is nothing more compelling than listening to a good story and storyteller. With even the most difficult middle years’ classes, I have been able to captivate students with a good story. Currently I am reading a story called Daughters of the Wind to my grade nine ELA class as part of a unit called Indigenous and Norse narratives, and the kids love it even though they didn’t at the beginning. Initially the language was new and difficult for them, and they needed to reread and revisit the initial parts of the story. By using a podcast of the story, perhaps sections or chapters at a time, the students could do listen to the story at their leisure.

As an in-school administrator, there could be some uses for podcasting, but I’m not too sure that with our current hardware there would be huge benefits. This is the first school year, that our teachers have a computer and Internet access in their classrooms, so many of them are still in the early stages of tech applications. Many are still struggling with email, so I don’t think I’m ready to spend too much time creating podcasts for them.

I have thought of a few other ideas for the use of podcasts in the educational setting, and perhaps if there is something that is current and relevant to all students they would be useful. For example, if we plan to change the attendance policy, I could have it on our website in both printed and podcast version to make it more accessible to all students.

Just a few thoughts.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Technology as a Tool

Technology: Does the use of technology aid students with their learning and teachers with their teaching? Is the use of technology occurring naturally in the classroom? Can technology direct instruction? My grad class colleagues have been discussing the possible uses of Webtrain, which is a tool for web conferencing. I first learned about Webtrain last year, when one of my colleague's son was taking Math 10 by correspondence. He could log onto Webtrain in the evening (I believe once a week.) for math assistance. To the best of my knowledge this software tool worked very well.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

EC & I 832

Welcome classmates!

I began this blog last fall, but I was not too sure what direction I wanted to go with it. I had several thoughts. Some of my ideas included creating a blog as a place to discuss my school classes for my students: what we have done, what we will do and what homework was being assigned. My dilema began with the conflict with my use in Blackboard. Should I try to maintain both? Should I use Blackboard just for grades? Other ideas for my blog included sharing my work as an Aministrator, but now some of my tech time is spent updated our new school webpage using Joomla. I also thought that perhaps I would create a personal blog to share with my friends and family.... But my main reason for creating a blog was to just try it out, and determine my direction later.