Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Super Powers 2

This time last year I wrote about the super power I thought would be most useful. While looking at how little I have blogged this year I re-read that post. It made me remember that I recently had this discussion with the grade 9’s I teach. We were debating which would be the better super power: teleportation or time travel.

Now teleportation has the advantage of quick travel. I live in a rural community a few hours away from the rural community I grew up in. I spend enough time travelling back and forth that time travel would give me some extra hours. Although walking places is good exercise; unless teleporting took a lot of energy. Then you could get places fast and still be exercising. In discussing time travel I was thinking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban time turner time travel where I could travel back in time and get extra work done.

Our discussion seemed to be revolving around getting more time in the day. Then I thought of the best power for this: being able to create duplicates of myself. Multiple Man from the Marvel Universe has the ability to create up to 40 duplicates of himself. When he reabsorbs the duplicates he learns everything the duplicate learned. Just think of all the work I could get done if there was 40 of me.

In the end all this talk of super powers seems to be a discussion of wanting more time to get more done. It does remind of the quote from H. Jackson Brown Jr.: Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Maybe what I need for a super power is super time management.

All this talk of trying to get more time has really just wasted time and got me no closer to finding a way out of this labyrinth. Maybe procrastination is my super power. As I said last year: Oh well, back to the search.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Caved and Signed Up For Twitter

I finally broke down and signed up for Twitter a couple of months ago. Reading that last sentence and the title I created next thing you know I'll be getting a cell phone. I follow a number of education blogs through Google Reader (which I guess I will know have to find an alternative for since Google in its infinite wisdom is discontinuing their one app I really like) and never saw the point of also being on Twitter.

So I signed up and started following a few of the educators whose blogs I follow. At first I went on every day and looked at everything that was posted and looked at any links that seemed interesting. And it was too much. It seemed too much like work. So I stopped going on every day; February break may have played some part in this. But a couple of times a week I will go on because I feel like doing a little more reading after I have gone through what is new on my Google Reader account and when I no longer feel like reading I quit. I’m sure I’m missing stuff and some days I find nothing useful, but I seem to have found a way, for me anyway, to have Twitter be useful without also being a chore.

I guess we just have to find a way to make new and different tools work for us so that they are not more work for us. Maybe I should try a new tool for finding my way out of the labyrinth because what I have been doing has not been successful yet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

But 1

I am sold on the idea that technology in education is no longer an option; it is the norm, it should be the expectation. I am a teacher at a 1 to 1 school and I never want that to change.

But, I wonder …

If I had no computers and no internet, just books, would I still be able to prepare students enough to survive in today’s world?

Thoughts like these do not make this labyrinth any easier to navigate.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One Powerful Image

One of the things I try to teach students is how to create better presentations. In this I try to emphasize the use of one powerful image per slide and minimal text. The presenter makes the presentation; not the PowerPoint presentation. Add to that if everything the student is saying is on the slide the audience could just read it and it wouldn’t really be a presentation anymore. My success is debatable, but I think I am getting somewhere this year.

For the majority of my teaching career I have been doing an assignment I call Dream Poem. I first did this assignment in grade 9 ELA. The origins of this assignment were actually taken out of the text book Sightlines 9. The students read the poem In Praise of Dreams by Wislawa Szymborska and then write their own poem in a similar style and then type it using different fonts and colours to highlight different parts of the poem. I have also used this assignment in Information Processing classes to have students play around with fonts and colours in Microsoft Word and also to see the visual impact writing can have. This assignment has always gone well and the poetry the students produce has always been excellent. As much as students complain about poetry given the right assignment can they write – all of them.

This year I had an epiphany. Instead of using Microsoft Word they would use PowerPoint and turn their poem into a presentation. The original poem and their poem are written in couplets. Each couplet must have a slide with one image. The great presentation slide shows I have seen are that: a great image with information. A few students have completed the assignment and they are amazing; I’m not sure words do justice. I don’t know how some of them found images that so perfectly fit what they have written. The images they are choosing to go with their couplets are perfect. They get it. Now I just need to transfer this skill, and they have the skill, to other presentations.

And once I tell them how wonderful their poem/slide shows are, I can talk about copyright, sourcing, and how they probably don’t have permission to use the images they used. It just keeps getting better.

I am so impressed with the poems/slide shows so far I think I need to find I way to share them. I shouldn’t be the only one who gets to see them. And then I can share the assignment and finally be able to share something I do through my blog which has been a goal for a few years. This is awesome!

Last year I mentioned that the Minotaur and I don’t think much of each other’s poetry. Maybe with pictures we can start to appreciate each other’s poetry more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Super Powers

I’m a huge fan of comic books; have been for years. If you were to ask me what comic book character I would want to be, for many years, I would have said Wolverine. A healing factor and claws that can cut through anything have always seemed desirable and practical. Or maybe someone who could fly like Angel, because flying would be cool and it would make travel quicker and easier.

Starting today, thought, I think I would want to be the Flash and have super speed. I have so much I want to be doing and I just don’t have the time. Every few weekends I think about spending a day a school working. Which never happens because I also need to have a bit of a life outside of school; there needs to be some balance between school and not school. I think super speed would solve so many problems. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.

Not that super speed would help in the labyrinth. Being able to get even more lost, faster, might make things worse. There is always the hope I just haven’t found the way out yet at the speed I currently move, but if I was super-fast and could travel even more places it would be more depressing that I couldn’t find my way out. Oh well, back to the search.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sharing and Blogging

I recently set myself the goal of keeping my email inbox at 10 messages or less. What does this have to do with sharing and blogging you ask? Well I’ll get there eventually. By 10 messages or less in my inbox I mean 10 emails that I have yet to finish dealing with. Once I have dealt with an email, either by responding to it, deleting it, or doing some kind of task, I either delete the email or put it into an appropriate folder if I may need the information at a later date. This goal can be difficult. Some emails can’t be dealt with right away and sometime having 10 or less isn’t possible, but still it is a goal to work towards.

What this has to do with sharing and blogging is one of the oldest emails in my inbox has to do with writing some sort of reflection on a K12 online conference session as part of being a member of Living Sky School Divisions iSITS committee. Yes, I know the conference was back in October, but since I am always on the lookout for another idea to become a blog post I will one day write, no matter how long it takes, I decided to not give up on this email as beyond hope. Also my plan was to write about Dean Shareski’s preconference keynote titled Sharing: The Moral Imperative and since I am a big fan of Dean’s blog this seemed another reason not to give up on the email and now I have gotten back to sharing and blogging.

As the title suggested Dean’s keynote is about sharing. I agree that as teachers we should share. I have been the beneficiary of other teachers sharing and I am always happy to pay sharing forward when I can. As we often hear: don’t reinvent the wheel. As a fan of karma from watching too many episodes of “My Name is Earl”, sharing is good and good things will happen if I share.

In my experience sharing doesn’t always solve a problem completely, no two teachers are alike so what works for one teacher won’t necessarily work for another, but it is a place to start. Even if what we share isn’t perfect for another teacher it may be the idea needed to create an incredible classroom experience or take a little pressure off.

When it comes to technology in the classroom I started teaching at the perfect time. Since I started university computers have always been there and their use expected. I have more of my materials saved electronically then as paper copies and therefore easily shared. I have gotten so much from other teachers, from the blogs I follow, from the internet (I have too many bookmarks/favourites), that I need to start sharing; it is now time to give back.

I need to share more of my many bookmarks, which means I need to figure out a way to make Diigo work for me, and I need to share more of my ideas, probably through blogging. Often I stumble across a blog post or website that I find an interesting read or an inspiring idea, but don’t want to add it to my rising mountain of bookmarks, and I should be blogging about them, as a way to completing process the information/ideas, and as another way to save the website.

Another part of Dean’s keynote that really resonated with me is the following quote from Dan Meyers talking about blogging: periods of stagnancy in my blogging start to correspond to periods of stagnancy in my teaching. I know what Dan is talking about. I sometimes feel that when my use of technology in the classroom becomes stagnant it usually corresponds to not having blogged in some time. I constantly struggle with technology in my classes and I find blogging helps me work through these struggles and I need to find more time to blog so that I can get closer to finding an answer.

Sharing and blogging is the way to go. Since he grew up alone in a maze the Minotaur is not big on sharing, with the exception of the occasional cuff up the side of the head.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Story Time

At the start of this school year I posted more to this blog then I had the entire previous school year and then stopped. It’s not that I ran out of ideas. I have five or six ideas that will make great blog post. The problem was that, as much I was enjoying writing, it was taking up too much time, and my priority is educating students not blogging. And If I was no longer teaching what would I have to blog about? I’m currently in the process of analyzing my use of time because there are a number of things I would like to be doing, that I am not doing, and I need to find a way to be doing them.

Anyway, the real reason for this post is that I am cleaning up my favorites and was rereading the following article: Why are we failing in history, science education?. The article is from an American newspaper and about the American education system, but I came away from the article with what I think is an important thought/paraphrase: education too often takes the stories out of knowledge. Too often students are just taught the facts and not the story behind those facts and it is the stories that make the facts, and learning, interesting, engaging, and memorable. The stories make students think, analyze, and help make connections. How is this not a good thing? Now sometimes students need facts, but not all the time. There needs to be more than just facts, there needs to be context … there needs to be more stories.

I need to tell more stories. The Minotaur and I have story time. We just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy and we highly recommend it; just don’t think too deeply on how I am trapped in a labyrinth but have access to new books.