Tk34’s Weblog
The Trials of a ‘Rookie’ Blogger

Mar
14

Thanks to Connie and Alec for steering me in the right direction. I was able to get my blogroll onto my page. I was doing everything correct but I had removed the links widget (in my hours of trying to get the blogroll to show). Lots of man hours to try to solve a simple problem.

Advertisements
Mar
14

I was having some difficulties ‘personalizing’ my blog . . . my lack of knowledge really hit home the other night when I attempted to get my blogroll to appear on my blog page. Over an hour later, with many different clicks, help menus, and unsuccessful attempts I gave up!!

I am seeking the assistance of anyone out there who can possibly help me out. I am obviously doing something wrong or there is some little element of the WordPress program that I am missing, but I can’t get by blogroll to show on the side of my page. First of all, is this possible (I am assuming it is because I have seen it on others) and secondly, how do you do it?

I would appreciate any feedback.

Mar
13

Although a work in progress, I introduced my classes to my digital project. I toured them through my Science 6 class on my Moodle page and showed them where I was at and where I was hoping to go. I clicked my way around the different links, opening websites and documents that the students have already seen (to a few ‘wows’) and where they were headed. I showed them the link to my blog (not this one, but the one I have started for them to read and use as a communication tool) and encouraged them to ‘snoop around’ and comment. The response was great. I was really excited. I got lots of positive feedback from the students about the blog and the Moodle. There were some difficulties (videos wouldn’t load or did not even show up) but for the most part I think it was a success. I think this because I unveiled it and bailed!! I had administrative meetings so I left all this technology and excitement in the hands of Mr. Yee, my ‘go-to’ substitute teacher.

The one problem (according to my Educational Assistant) was that the students were not used to the independent type of learning . . . reading instructions, following links, gathering information etc. Today, I was there to witness this first hand. Usually (in the classroom setting) there are a few hands up needing assistance, but today I felt like a kindergarten teacher must feel on the first couple of days of school . . . it was chaos!! Every student constantly had their hand up and (from my perception) could not do anything on their own!! My excitement went from the highest of highs (all the positive feedback from my site and blog) to the lowest of lows (the fact that the students really struggled) in less than 24 hours.

Many students (once I walked them through all the instructional components) didn’t want to visit my blog today (I made sure to put a new post in because of the response I had yesterday) and I had to make many of them turn off the “Alex the Alligator” game and go to my blog (like I asked them to). I wanted them to respond on how they felt about the different type of learning. More independent, self-directed with the use of technology. I feel like I got my answer . . . I am losing to an alligator!!

Mar
12

Last Wednesday our EC&I 831 class had a great discussion on media awareness and the discussion evolved into one potential problems that can arise with the use of on-line tools. One question that was posed to us was ‘what are you afraid of?’. Our class has been introduced to numerous web-tools and their implications on today’s education. We are currently involved in developing digital projects, many of which use web-tools and these tools are being incorporated into our classrooms and being used by our students.

I am extremely ‘nervous’ and reluctant to put anything online about myself or my family. At the beginning of the course, I needed to put out a video about myself as an introductory activity to the course. I did not want to do this!! I pictured my video being ‘altered’ in such a way that could be damaging to my character. I might be wrong but I am sure someone out there could take a simple video and have the ability to voice over my actual words, change my appearance etc. in a negative way and put the ‘new me’ out there for everyone to see. I do not want to have to deal the the possibility of losing my job or embarrassing my friends and family!!

As the course had evolved, I feel more comfortable being part of ‘the net’. I guess I am walking ‘the fine line’. I want to create an online network, I see the benefits, but I still don’t want to ‘put myself out there’ any more than I have to!! I do not know enough about the web and its tools to feel comfortable and safe on the web. Hopefully I am wrong!!

In their blogs, Rosanne, Lori, and Shawn posted and article which discussed a Ryerson student who faces expulsion for his use of Facebook as a means of an on-line study tool. Essentially, this is something that concerns me. This student potentially faces an extreme ‘black mark’ on his academic record. A mark that could potentially effect his future. If I put myself out there, might I somehow get myself into ‘hot water’? Maybe it is complete paranoia on my part, but is there this much of a potential risk? Other classmates of mine mentioned ‘losing their jobs’ as a big concern. How much of a concern is it??

Mar
07

Technology, isn’t it great.  For those that attempted to browse my digital project for my EC&I 831 class, you might have run into some technical difficulties!!  The link I provided to my Moodle page did not take you to my page but to the school division page.  When I tried the link (before I published the post) it went right to my page after you logged in as a guest.  I guess a direct link must be some sort of ‘taboo’ that I did not know about.  Maybe someone knows a better (more efficient way) to access the page.  I would love any suggestions!!  For now, let’s try it again!!

Take this link and log in under guest.  This should take you to the division page. . . Okay.  I just tried the link and it went right to my page this time!!  Hopefully this will work for you.  Let me know if it doesn’t.

Mar
06

I thought I would show you my modest digital project for my EC&I 831 class. I am setting up a Moodle page for my Science 6 class. I am hoping to keep it updated and incorporate as much technology into the site as possible (at least where it permits itself). I have found there to be some ‘issues’ so far. The main one being that I can’t really use all the capabilities of Moodle until I have enrolled students into my classes. At this point in time, I (and my school division) is not ready to do this. Without this capability, I cannot set up true online/interactive features such as chat) . . . which is maybe a good thing (not sure if I would be ready)

For now it will serve as a communication tool between myself and my students and their parents (or whoever else might want to ‘visit’) I have started a new blog that I have linked to the Moodle page so parents can communicate with me and keep up to date.

Feel free to check it out and give any feedback. Follow this link and it should take you right to my page.  Some of the information is hidden and there are only a few sections to look at but it is a start!!

Mar
06

Last night I had the fortune of experiencing a presentation by Clarence Fisher. The focus of his presentation revolved around the value and power of networks in education. He stressed the importance of providing opportunities for our students. Opportunities that allow them to become part of a global stage. Too often the stage we provide for students is our classroom, their audience is their peers. For many students, these peers are the same audience that has traveled with them from grade to grade, class to class for years. It made me think of having to eat the same meal everyday . . . although peanut butter and jelly(my personal favourite) is okay, it would be nice to at least have the chance to order up a 12 oz T-Bone!!

This classroom ‘T-Bone’ I speak of is available through online networking. The stage, albeit somewhat restricted to a classroom, can be (as Clarence puts it) a ‘hub of global activity’. The potential is there to reach outside the walls of your classroom into the world via the internet. Would you trade your PB&J in for a T-Bone? I know most students would!!

Clarence talked about the classroom itself, the physical set-up, exchanging desks in rows for couches . . . textbooks for the world-wide web . . . worksheets for the global stage. Clarence has done this. Teaching in a small mining town in Manitoba, two hours from any other major centre, can definitely limit your stage. Clarence has created a stage for his students to learn, explore, and express their creativity and ideas to the world. His students have been given the opportunity to take control of their learning. Order what they want (so to speak) . . . not forced PB&J!! I commend him for this. Being a ‘trail-blazer’ is not an easy thing.

As I continue my slow journey down the ‘path of technology’ (and all it has to offer), I continue to get more and more inspired by people like Clarence, Dean Shareski, Sharon Peters, George Siemens, Richard Schwier, and Darren Kuropatwa, who have also presented to my EC&I 831 class. I appreciate their insights and their willingness to lead the way and advocate on behalf of students and how they learn. To try to convince educators that there is a need for change and the vehicle for change is right there in front of them. They just need to discover its potential and embrace it. They are convincing me!! As I attempt to follow their lead, I look for my own opportunities to network and provide the same opportunities for my students . . . to get out of the classroom and onto the global stage. I think I owe it to them . . . I think the jar of peanut butter is empty.

Feb
28

I have received many responses to my last post “There is Still Hope ” which I wrote after hearing a discussion by Dean Shareski. The comments I have received continue to bring up one key point . . . being selfish. I read Ryan Flood’s post where he wrote the following:

Dean’s 1st point of his ‘5 Big Ideas’ really hit home with me. He said that it’s important to get past the instinctive and immediate question of “How is this going to help me in the classroom?” Using RSS feeds, and being part of a network of ‘bloggers is not likely to provide any great immediate benefit to one’s classroom teaching. This is something that will take some time. First one will need to put in the work to build the network and create relationships in that network. This is something that I often find difficult to get past. I often find myself saying “That is great, but how can that help me?” I suppose those are good questions to ask as an educator.

I guess as an educator, I have these same thoughts a lot. I understand the importance of the internet and the tools it offers . . . I too see the potential it provides. Unfortunately, like most educators, I often put my job before myself!! I see more value in the technologies when I see how they can potentially improve my classes and student learning . . . I am not so worried about myself!! I want to integrate these tools into my classes so my students benefit!! I often get frustrated wondering how ‘this’ or ‘that’ technology can be used in my classes, I want immediate results . . . I need to remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!!

I realize that immediate gratification of student use and success is probably unrealistic. I do not want to use technology ‘just because’. I want to effectively use it to its full potential. For this to happen, I guess I need to be a bit more selfish and truly gain a better understanding of the Web and its tools myself. See what they really have to offer. I will start to build my ‘Rome’ one small ‘click’ at a time. I am sure my students will appreciate it.

Feb
27

I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Dean Shareski on his ‘Journey into Connected Learning’ . . . and it gave me hope!!

Dean reminisced into his past and it reminded me of my childhood . . . and to a certain extent, my current situation!! As a child, I was not really too keen on school, homework, or learning. I would rather be playing street hockey!! In my University days, I ‘picked up the pace’ and obtained my education degree . . . but I enjoyed University life, more so than the learning. Today, I am currently embarking on my Masters degree . . . and am trying to get back in ‘school mode’. It has been quite tough since I haven’t been a ‘real student’ for 10 years . . . I will admit, however, I am enjoying the learning this go around!!

My current class (EC&I 831 – Computers in the Classroom) deals with technology, the applications that currently exist, their capabilities, and most importantly its potential for educators and learners. I have been what might be considered in ‘slow motion’ (as far as this class is concerned)!! Not because I am not trying, or have fallen back into my ‘old ways’, but because the majority (if not most) of the Web tools that are available I am unfamiliar with. There are so many things on the Web that I just know nothing about. This class is doing an admirable job of providing me ample opportunities to learn about and experiment with these tools, but as the saying goes . . . you can’t run before you can walk!! I am trying to ‘hang in there’ . . . but I feel like I am crawling!!

Like all classes, there are expectations. The ultimate goal of EC&I 831 (and my instructor Alec Couros can correct me if I am wrong) is to introduce and create knowledge of the Web tools and their applications in an attempt to integrate them into our everyday lives . . . and possibly the classrooms of today’s schools. To realize the potential and value of these tools and how they can positively impact student learning (and educators learning) . . . and also the lives of all learners. We have some course requirements which provide us an opportunity to ‘experiment’ with these tools, such as this blog. I am not a ‘tech guy’ so my learning is slow. I often wonder if I am doing enough (especially when my classmates have more on-line accounts than I do pairs of socks)? How can I compete with this!! I am not sure my best is good enough (as far as the class is concerned) and it is frustrating! Enter Dean and his glimmer of hope!!

Dean mentioned that he wasn’t into technology until he discovered the internet (1995ish) when he discovered its potential. He admits he didn’t really put things into ‘high gear’ until the first blog he posted on February 6th, 2005. Three years later he is highly ‘connected’ and has a tremendous understanding of the Web, its tools, and how they can positively impact learning. He is highly adverse in what the Web has to offer and has put all the ‘pieces together’. He is highly respected within the educational and technological fields. I wouldn’t consider him a ‘tech guy’ but a ‘tech guru’!! I am positive that I would get no arguments from anyone who knows Dean.

As I write this post, I feel like there is hope for me. Dean has given me the ‘push’ to continue to crawl along, find my ‘high gear’, and strive to become more knowledgeable and connected (even if it is frustrating and overwhelming at times). Dean made me realize the somewhat forgotten reason I enrolled in this class. To become a better educator. To provide worthwhile learning opportunities for my students by realizing the potential of the Web and its tools. EC&I 831, the class, is a means to an end. Hopefully it will benefit, most importantly, my students . . . but also me! I will continue to crawl along and, who knows, maybe three years from now I will be a ‘tech guy’!!

Feb
13

Just listened to a session by Sharon Peters which was very informative. Sharon encouraged us to consider who makes up the company we keep and to branch out (or continue to branch out) to include the internet, its users, and its tools as an extension of who you are . . . to be digital learners. As educators, she also encouraged us to be an influence on our learners and provide them opportunities to be digital learners.

Through this presentation, Sharon focussed on literacy and how their continues to be an emphasis on reading and writing. In the Saskatchewan ELA curriculum, there are 6 strands of learning. They include reading and writing (and there was agreement from session participants) that the ‘other four’ (listening, speaking, representing, and viewing) take a back seat to the ‘big two’. Let me speak a bit about my ELA experience. Throughout the presentation I considered the ‘what if’ factor!!

I am not an English teacher but had the opportunity to teach a grade 8 English class a few years ago. As I reviewed the curriculum, I knew it was very important to provide learning opportunities in all of the strands. It was easy to have the students read and write . . . it was more difficult (for me) to develop opportunities in the other strands, but I made a conscious effort. These activities were the ones most receptive and enjoyed by my students. I constantly heard them commenting about how much they enjoyed the class(es) where they didn’t have to just sit and read or write. They were also the ones that the student showed their ‘true colours’. Their work was remarkable. Their effort was tremendous and their was a sense of pride and ownership in their work. If only I was technologically savvy!!

I could only envision the potential of my English class and the learning that could have occurred . . . ‘IF ONLY’ . . . with the use of the Web tools available. My class was excited to draw a picture to represent a stanza from a poem. What could have they accomplished if provided the chance to use the current Web Tools!! They loved recording a radio show with a hand held tape recorder! How much better might these have been? How much more creative could have the students been? Imagine the possibilities?!