Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Staff PD Experience...

On Jan. 25th I gave a short PD session to my staff. It was a bit rushed and I had a few troubles, but I believe it to be a success.

I started with discovery learning. I got every staff member to log in and go to the website. I showed them how easy it was to find videos, what grade levels, different subjects, the whole works. A few of them were quite impressed. I have to kinda chuckle at that, because for the amount of times I have sent out notes, told each of them individually or in staff meetings about Discovery Learning, they seemed really shocked - it is as though they never looked at it before - funny huh?

Then I continued on with the Luseland School website, Miss Cameron's website, then the Luseland School Library Wikispace - which is really well done by one of our resident computer wizards Mrs. Olfert! Kudos! I showed them how a wikispace works, and lead into my own wikispace. I showed them the links I have - which was the links from our in school tech support wikispace - thanks Donna! I have added some of my own as well, but the majority came from there. The teachers seemed really impressed! The wow's I saw and heard were satisfying.

I showed my staff imagechef, cartoon machine, animoto, Piczo, bubbleshare, and a few more. I left that for them to play with. Maybe I will do some more on that stuff once I get more time during another PD. But I did tell my staff about how relevant it all is, how I have used it in my classes, a couple examples of how they could use it in different subject areas. Since I was running short on time, I talked to them about how there is a teacher in Nova Scotia/New Brunswick area that is using Piczo as his website as he teaches a music class online, over the Internet to students across that area. That got some "cool"'s and some "I never knew you could do that"'s. Again, very satisfying.

Then I talked to them about my classblogmeister. How I have used it, how it is protected, how everything goes through me, how to address issues of privacy, etc. Then I got into my professional blog. There have been only a few that have really looked on my blog and now there are many more. It is great that more of my staff know how to get on here and read my posts. I showed them how to comment, and how to make a Google account so that they can post comments. I wanted to get more into it but was again, running short on time. Next time!

Lastly, I showed them Centralischool. The web resources, how I use it for science 9, how another teacher in my school has been using it for History 10,20,30. Wonderful things, those online resources. My older post about re-inventing the wheel gets into it more....

Now for reflection.....
I am only going to be positive. It is a start. I cannot judge myself too harshly on my first ever staff PD experience. It is a growing thing that will only get better with time. The reactions I focused on were the positive ones, and I will thrive from those. The ones that were not so positive, and mostly nonchalant, I will ignore until I get more time to focus on technology that will hopefully intrigue those few. My teaching skills grow with each new experience as a teacher in general, and as a presenter. I know I felt a bit nervous in front of my whole staff, trying to not stumble on my words, to be prepared and not make a total fool of myself. I do not present in front of adults often so it was definitally a learning experience. Of course I became more comfortable near the end, and the next time will be much better. I just needed more time. I really feel that giving my staff too much too soon would not have been better, but that if I had more time to concentrate on a few specific things, then that would have been beneficial. All in all the experience was a good one, and I am actually looking forward to doing it again soon. If you have not done this with your staff yet, my only suggestion would be to take no more than 2-3 things and concentrate on that, and leave the other things until next time. Overwhelming leads to resentment. Keep it short, simple, and be enthusiastic!!! It is infectuous!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thoughts that stemmed from Jan 22nd meeting

When we had our virtual meeting on the 22nd, it became clear from the content discussed, that as much as we believe we are moving along with the times, we in fact are not. I know that sounds harsh. We are moving in the right direction, having a beginning point and such, but we may not be moving fast enough. If Regina is not using filtering systems for their computers, and all teachers have a laptop, then we need to start moving faster to catch up with the times.

Sometimes I ponder how nice it would be to not have content filters. Just teach the students responsibility and awareness. It sounds so simple, as though teaching students responsibility, Internet smarts and using common sense (ie. not giving out your address, etc.) is an easy task! Are we not supposed to be doing this anyway??? As our job as teachers gets more detailed, and the list gets longer and longer, why not add Internet smarts to our teaching responsibilities. If we are going to be implementing more Internet use, and more computer program use, then why not teach this in addition to the above mentioned? I think it only makes sense! Yes it is more work, yes it is not cut and dry, but if it is not going to be taught anywhere else, and the students will need this Internet/computer knowledge, then is it not our job to teach it along side our curriculum? We do this with so many other subject areas, and information processing is getting left in the dust, so we need to step up to the plate and start being more responsible ourselves as educators and actually educate our students about things that directly affect them, no matter who they are, and what they want to do with their lives.

Ok. On the other hand, being the devil's advocate, do most students already know these things? Is it really our job? Shouldn't some of these skills be taught at home? How can we implement this soon -with the least amount of resistance? What parameters are we going to have to put up? Are schools going to have to edit their school policies to reflect the open Internet use? Who and how will this be monitored in the classroom when there are so many other issues we have to deal with! What happens when a student looks up inappropriate material during class but the teacher does not catch it? Will parents be in an uproar?

Lots of questions. Few answers. Discussions SHOULD be held. These issues need to be addressed, because even if we do not move towards this wave of the future, many of these questions raised already do affect school Internet use. Students know how to get around content filters, so these questions still apply. Why do we have content filters if they know how to get around them?? UGH! :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Are we holding ourselves back from inevitable change?

An older post I had made about a you tube video that was about allowing technology to be used more often in the classroom has been brought to my attention again. I agree with my many of the comments made and really appreciate people taking the time to make an account, and make comments on my work.

Technology in the classroom that will always be met with skepticism and wariness. It is understandable but on another hand, how will we ever know how much of an influence we will have on a growing society if we do not allow opportunities to happen? I agree with needing a foundation of the basics - a chance to see, do and learn how we used to do things. I make sure that my drafting students learn mechanical drafting before moving onto computer-aided drafting. If they do not have the foundational skills, know the tools, the reason why we use certain tools, etc. then how will they know when they moved to more advanced technologies? It IS important for people to know the practical uses, the sometimes "old school" ways before. But I do not think it is good to be stuck in the "old school" ways. If that happens, then we are spinning our wheels, not encouraging our students to try new things, not allowing them the opportunities they will obviously need once they graduate. I do not want to sound like a broken record but we really do need to give more types and kinds of technology a chance.

How will we know if we are giving our students our best, and allowing them to experience the best opportunities possible if we are holding ourselves back from the change around us?

The Return to School

After a well needed break, we have returned to find the same things that never change. Students are still as excited as ever to be back and working hard. The push we need to give students before midterms is still a struggle, trying to get it all fit in before exams with enough time to review, and getting final projects done before switching terms is a lovely task. Not to group all students together because some students do not need a push, no, some students actually do not mind doing some hard work. But it is the others that we struggle with, and those are likely the ones that need the most help and attention, whether they know it or not.

So our job never gets easier, we just learn to cope better and learn tricks to get it all done. We are multi-taskers! All teachers, EA's, and support staff working in a school system!!! Look at all the things we need to do!


  • Facilitators
  • Guides
  • Emotional Support
  • Guidance Councillors
  • Learning Ability Specialists
  • Prepare Lectures
  • Prepare Activities
  • Grade exams and papers
  • Hold parent/teacher, parent/teacher/student conferences
  • Lead, coach, co-coach, watch, participate in extra-curricular events and activities
  • Mentor
  • Challenge, inspire, motivate, and encourage students
  • Support and guide future leaders
  • Make a difference in an individual's life
  • Feel pride in your own and as well as your students’ accomplishments
  • Obtain more knowledge
  • Lecture on material that interests you as well as material that may not interest you

and the list goes on....

So when you get bogged down with marking, prep, and/or any other of the many things we do, just remember these few inspirational quotes:

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
~Henry Adams

"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre."
~Gail Godwin

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others."