Monday, 3 March 2014

ICT = Fantastic Experience

Over the past 8 weeks or so, Mr. Mike Nantais has taught us a lot about different apps and programs that we should try with our students someday. It has been an absolute joy learning about these technology related topics in such a relaxed environment. Our group 11 or 12 education students are very fortunate to have the chance to learn just in our little group. Safe to say that I am now comfortable building a website (via Weebly), designing a word splash, putting together a digital story, editing photos, and producing a short video; just to name a few. Each and every one of these tasks is definitely something a middle year's student can achieve through guidance.

I consider myself an up and coming teacher that has a pretty good grasp on technology and how it could be used properly in the classroom and more so now after both of the courses I took from Mr. Nantais. But with the way young students are these days, I think a lot of middle year's students could still teach me a thing or two. Young students are spending a ton of time on their iPhones, iPads, and laptops. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becoming a reality in a lot of school divisions throughout North America. It is crucial that new educators are up to date on how to use technology for the purpose of learning and especially when the students are bringing their own. It obvious that Brandon University has recognized this a while ago and has provided my classmates and I with two excellent "technology" based courses related to education. Much appreciated BU and Mike Nantais.

Word splash full of ICT memories:

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Powering Up! With Shelly Wright

Over the past week, I have continued reading the text titled The Connected Teacher: Powering Up, and there were sections that kept my focus. Confessions of a Closet Constructivist by Shelly Wright, is a fantastic little article about an educator who was a constructivist and didn't even know it. According to Wright, constructivist is "Adherents of constructivism essentially believe that children learn by being actively engaged in reflecting on their experiences," it is basically saying that students learn through interactions with others. It could be classmates, teachers, or other professionals.

Wright mentions a couple issues in particular that halt this way of learning. One issue, that she herself says she is guilty of, is the teacher centered classroom. That consists of her talking and the class facing front, listening and have limited encouragement to participate in any way. She goes on to say that her class will change from this ridiculousness, and round tables will be moved into her class for more student interaction. Increased learning from fellow classmates and more hands on projects will take place regularly. This really caught my attention, because throughout my education experience I thought it was all about student engagement. No matter what it takes, make sure your students are engaged to the max. From what I have observed through student teaching and working as an educational assistant, some teachers become very stubborn and stuck in their ways and are totally against try something new in their classroom. Experimental teaching/learning is where it's at in 2014 and they must realize this sooner than later.

Mrs. Wright goes on to discuss the second issue, which is too much textbook learning. This is an issue; I know what it is like to learn from a textbook, because I did it as a young lad growing up. I realize that their wasn't as many engaging resources back in the late nineties compared to today, but to think it used to be all about textbook learning not too long ago makes you really shake your head doesn't it?

As I continue to read this text, I hope to learn a lot more from veteran educators and gain better understanding of the shift to connected, inquiry driven teaching.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Mr John Evans and a Golden Goal!

On Wednesday February 20th, we welcomed John Evans to our ICT class. John is a web technologies consultant with Manitoba Education. In the short time he had to present to us, he filled us in on a ton of resources and different ways to expand our Professional Learning Network. We discussed PLN's last year in Internet for Educators, and I don't think anything has changed since the PLN I created last year. But today, Mr. Evans introduced something that I may need to add.

                  (My PLN Jan 2013)

John gave the class a tour of the program called Maple, which is a Professional Learning Network tool solely built for teachers. Maple (MB professional learning environment) was created to help MB teachers share resources just by a click of the mouse. If you come across something that is cool to use in a lesson, you can share it by posting it in a particular group on Maple. Also, if you are in need of some ideas for a lesson, other teachers in the province with a Maple membership can hook you up. The Maple website also consists of many curriculum documents and groups that cover a wide range of topics. It definitely looks like it would be easy to navigate, which is a huge plus for someone like myself. I really liked the idea of your own personal library where every resource I find I can just add it right to my library; this way it is all going to one place.

I want to thank John Evans for braving the winter roads and coming out to speak with us. I am looking forward to using MAPLE in the future and taking advantage of everything it offers.

P.S. I will always remember where I was when Women's Canadian Olympic Hockey Team scored in overtime to win the gold medal over the United States. That was a ton of fun. Go Canada Go.

Johns Website:

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Filming a Video...taking me back.

This past week in my ICT course, we were asked to create a short video on whatever we wanted. This little project sure took me back to my middle year's days, when we had an opportunity to use a video camera for the first time at school to create some sort of social studies or science project. I am talking about the days of putting VHS tapes into your camera...oh boy, those were the days! The excitement that came over me and my classmates was flying high when we had a chance to use technology for a school project. I hate to date myself, but when I was middle school their wasn't ipads, smart boards, or cell phones (except the Zack Morris cell phones...Google it if your too young). Nonetheless, we had a blast making short little documentaries on whatever it was, because it got us excited and engaged to the max about learning. Also, it got us away from the pencil and paper learning, which was the common theme at that time.

Having students explore new technology and create something educational with it for others to enjoy, is an awesome way to keep your students engaged. Students love to experiment with new computer programs that lets you mix text, pictures, sound, and motion. You never know, they could find a passion in life by being creative with technology introduced by you.

My last cooperating teacher this spring is a huge fan of using technology to teach, so I am looking forward to learning some tricks and letting the students try a few things I have learned in ICT.

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” - Bill Gates

Sunday, 9 February 2014

You Can Never Learn Enough in ICT Class

Over the past week in Mike Nantais' ICT course, as a group we have had a blast trying new techy programs that have been introduced to us. We started the week by creating 30 second videos, by using a simple program called Animoto. Each of us picked 8 or so personal photos that are related in some sort of way (theme) and inserted them into Animoto program. From there, you add your own text and background design, and Animoto puts it all together for you. This program is simple enough to try with primary school students. Later in the week, we were shown a few programs that enable us to edit photos the way we want using programs such Pixlr. This is far from new, but it was actually first time I have gave it a try and it is something I will use in the future in and out of the classroom. As well as learning this, we have learned about the importance of teaching your students how to source images that they may use from the Internet (copyright issues).

Mike's approach to teaching our course lately is an excellent one, as he been introducing new ideas on a day to day basis and this has me looking forward to what he will show us next. Having students that are excited to learn new things everyday is what teaching is all about and that is what Mike has accomplished I think with our group.

Websites used for last weeks tech tasks...Give them a try!


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hello Digital Storytelling...I have missed you!

This past week in ICT, Mike brought up the topic of digital storytelling and how it could be used in the classroom. For some of us ED students, we were introduced to this same topic last term, but I think this time around we are going to get a little more in depth and get a little better idea on how to use it in class. It was something that I really didn't know a whole lot about before last term, when we asked how to put such a thing together, we were told to "google it." So I did, and I learned just enough to put together a mediocre digital story using the book "Where the wild things are." It consisted of me taking pictures of the pages, making sure it zoomed in and out to make it look cooler, sort of, and then recorded my beautiful voice reading the story. It was quite a fantastic experience for myself.
Anyways, I am looking forward to learning different ways of creating a digital storytelling and producing a little one about myself. It is something that I would love to try in my last student teaching placement, and I know it would be something the students could have fun with. Believe it or not teenagers love to work with technology, so why not let them have some fun and show off their creative side by producing something cool they can show off to their classmates.

The link below, gives you a good introduction of how to use it in your classroom:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Mike Says to "Build A Website!"

Starting this past week in my ICT course, Mike (our prof) asked us students to build a website, and create it like it is your own classroom website. Surprisingly I had never once created my own website, it was always something that I made someone else do for me (fantasy sports site, team site), because it seemed a tad overwhelming to give a try. But actually, it is pretty easy to get started because of the numerous websites that make it easy for you to start one up.

I have seen a ton in my day, a lot of friends and ex colleagues have their own websites that which they keep up to date and some that haven't kept up with their site at all. I truly feel that a class website is the best way to keep students, parents and fellow colleagues up to date on the daily happenings within a classroom. Instead of sending a weekly newsletter home with your students, just take 5 minutes and update the website because it is important to keep parents informed of what their son/daughter is learning on week to week basis.

So then, I had to decide on what I would want on my own classroom website...

Who am I...A brief "About me" section, just to introduce myself to the parents who do not know a whole lot about me yet.

Contact...Basically just my contact information, consisting of my e mail and phone number to the school.

Homework...This section can consist of the daily homework. If a student has forgotten what was due, then they can always check our classroom website for information. This could be very useful for parents as well.

Schedule...This section will give students and parents an idea on what kind of events, celebrations, tests or projects that are coming up for this particular class.

Classroom Rules...These are a list of expectations that are done by the class and I at the start of the school year. They will need to be followed throughout the school year and they will be posted in class as a reminder to all the students.

These are just some ideas so far, I can always add more, definitely has been fun to give a try and looking forward to seeing the finished product.