Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ranting...again :-)

I was looking at my cluster map and noticed how many more hits I had that were from the United States, and it got me thinking. If I have only been to the US once, why are there followers from there - why are there some large numbers of people in concentrated areas reading my blog? I must be doing something right - I must be connecting with people. This makes me excited and amazed. If I can connect to people across the world and they are able to keep up on what I am doing, then maybe my I am doing things that excite other people as well. I get many of my ideas from other people - I do not re-invent the wheel just because I will be able to say it was "my idea". Adapting from other people's 'brain-child' is a positive experience. It allows people who have blocked idea flows, to be given a seed to start more ideas flowing through them - I know that when I go away from meetings with other teachers I get very inspired.

I know what you're thinking - what about those teachers who only have negative thoughts, those teachers who only focus on problems and issues? Well my answer to that is always to ignore and move forward. It is not to say that I don't have bad days, that those people NEVER rub off on me and bring me down, because that would be lying. I have felt bogged down, busy, tired, frustrated, pulled-in-all-directions, but I always think to myself how much worse off it could be and why I got into teaching in the first place. To inspire my students! To inspire my students, I must be inspired myself - even to get my day started! So when I dread something like a day where we meet with a bunch of teachers that I know will just be at the end of their ropes, I make sure to bring some of my own ideas to those teachers meetings and maybe I can inspire them! Most times it does work, and it actually allows for them to open up and discuss their ideas as well.

To share ideas in a web-based medium, I have been doing some personal Professional Development. I have built a few wikispaces lately; one of them you know about - or should if you are one of my thousand listeners :-) , which is my CPT project ideas wikispace (, and the newest one to my collection of wikispaces - the list is getting up there - is my Nokomis School projects website. I have been wanting to get my students work online and share it with other teachers so that my students and I can get feedback on our ideas, projects, and successes we have had over the last few years. Check it out -

One rant down, another to come later....

Keep it up! Comment!

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Kill A Mockingbird - Wix Site

Here is the wix website I made for the novel study To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee for my ELA 20 class:

Free website -

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thanks for your support!

I would like to thank those who have joined my pet project for personal PD this year - a wikispace dedicated to CPT, teaching technology, program idea sharing and project idea sharing.
Please add stuff, fix stuff, post stuff, and in general be part of the experience in editing and making the wikispace what it has the potential to be.


Friday, September 11, 2009

New wikispace - CPT Project Ideas

I have started a new wikispace.
It is an informational share centre for teachers who teach Communication Production Technology, computer classes, and other technology based classes. I am always looking for more ideas for projects and sharing resources, as well as some successes and "bumps-in-the-road" when it comes to teaching technoloy.

What a better way to get to know more teachers who have the same passions as you, and want to share, than to create a wikispace so we can do just that!

JOIN! The more people, the better it will be!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Video - Using Forms in Google Docs

I saw a really good video about using forms in google docs.

Check it out!

Friday, September 04, 2009

A rant about teaching technology...

Whenever I look back on the last year, the only thing I would have done more is blogging. I feel like I have forgotten how much it meant to me, to be blogging about my successes/failures and all of the people who read about it. Well, enough of the lacking! I am promising myself some time to continue my blog and update as much as I can this school year.

Here it goes:
I am teaching a CPT 10/20/30 split class this year. I know, crazy. Even though I am in a small school and do not have a super large amount of students, it is 4 grades (9-12) all at once. It will take lots of organization, but I am up for the challenge. I have come up with quite a few of cool ideas (at least I think they are), and I will be picking groups and projects, coming up with timelines, individual activities, etc. So far, it seems to be working.

I just wish there was a way that I could get 1) my own laptop from the division so that I could install some new programs about editing/special effects for video editing for CPT, and 2 ) some time to play around on them - or get training on some new programs. There are (quite a few) times when I am behind the kids in understanding some of the technology stuff we are using in CPT. I know that this is sometimes how it is, but I would like to be a bit of an expert at times! There are times when I feel dumbfounded at some of the easiest questions and I truly do not know the answer to some of them. At least I have had retail experience in my life and know that the best way to approach a situation when you do not know what you are doing, is to tell them you do not know, but that you will find out and get back to them. I find the kids appreciate that. We feel like the journey of learning is for both of us and they don't feel "stupid" if I don't know the answer either. Of course there are always those that get frustrated when I don't know the answer as well. Those are the ones that tend to stick with me (obviously) and these are the ones that I stew about and get frustrated about after I am done my day at school.

It isn't every time I have CPT, that I get really frustrated after - only some of the time - but nonetheless, that feeling in general is not one that is pleasant or fulfilling in a school teacher sense of enjoying my job. I love technology - I really do and don't get me wrong about how I may be coming across. There are just some of those days where CPT is my nemesis and it pains me to have that class for fear of myself feeling inadequate in front of my students. I am working on ways on my own time to help improve my skills - as any responsible professional would, although the process is really quite slow and does not always show the results right away (the students never seem to ask the question I know the answer I just learned about, but only ask questions I haven't learned yet! What's that called? Murphy's law? LOL!)

Anyway, my rant is over. Back to marking. If you loyal readers out there have any comments - please comment away - I love to hear from you - it gets lonely when no one comments! :-)
Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ian's Shoelace Site

I was checking out my bloglines account this usual, I have not been keeping up with it. A few weeks ago I was on it and tagged a few articles I swore I would go back and actually read. This morning was my "going back" time and I saw a neat article on the Cool Tools blog. It was about Ian's Shoelace Site. It is a site that has anything from correcting a crooked bow (I know that bugs you, admit it!), to how to tie different kinds of knots, to how to correct the shoelace length - even a shoelace calculator! It may not be for the faint of heart - it may excite you right into a seizure! Haha! But I thought I would share it with you! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comic Books and Graphic Novels ~Part One

I am really excited. I learned a new program called Comic Life. It is a comic book/graphic novel building program; it has templates from all sorts of ages of comics from the 40's, 60's, 00's etc and graphic novel templates, and all you do is drag the template onto the "stage" and you can move around the frames and insert words, dialogue bubbles, think bubbles, story boxes, etc. There are many filters as well that will change your pictures you insert, to look a certain way. There are filters to make a picture to look like it was drawn with colored pencils, to look like marvel comics, etc. It is really neat!! Another cool feature of this program is the "drag-and-drop" ability from google images. No longer having to copy and paste, you can drag the image into the program and drop it into a frame. You can move the picture around inside the frame to edit it, taking away the time of cropping a photo in another program first.

With my CPT 20 students I gave them an assignment to create a 18-20 page graphic novel and my CPT 10 students to create a 12-15 page comic book. I think most are really excited to begin the assignment. I am making them develop a story (it can be based on anything from a character in a book or movie's untold story, to re-developing characters from an existing comic/graphic book [i.e. scuba steve], to re-telling an actual event, to a brand new story with a new set of characters and conflicts). The possibilities are endless. I know I am very excited to see what they come up with - the CPT 10 students so far have a good start on their ideas, and the CPT 20 students have a planning class tomorrow, so we will see how far they get on developing their ideas.

I created one on my own during a prep one day. I created an introduction page to the untold story of "Bootstrap" Bill Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was just an example to show the kids, but to tell you the truth I wish I could do this assignment myself! I hope my excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and the kids catch it!

I will keep you posted!

Monday, May 04, 2009

"If I post a blog post and no one reads it, does it really exist?"

You know what? I truly enjoy collaborating and discussing teaching with other colleagues. I remember at one inservice I had gone to in the past, that one presenter said "you never take off your teacher cap and you will find that the only ones who understand are fellow teachers, therefore, each time you see one, you can not help but talk 'shop' with them". I find myself always talking shop with my teacher friends. It is not like I am an uninteresting (at least I hope) person and have nothing else to talk about, but every time I get together with my teacher friends, all we talk about is school. This includes anything from situations, issues, questions, discussions about philosophy, etc. I know to the rest of the world it may seem like we are very boring, but I enjoy it!

I learn from others. I feel that if we are given the proper opportunities to discuss in small groups about these things, that we grow as teachers as much as we do as people. It does not have to be a school situation I guess. Discussion with people in general is very important. We are a species who learn from each other and can adapt and move forward when we build on our experiences and the experiences of others. Now this is not to say that other media such as technology does not enhance our growth experiences. I watch the news, I read current events, I keep in touch somewhat with the celebrity world, I read many many books on all sorts of subjects (music, bands/artists, history, literature, world issues, classics, travel, fiction, etc.), and I would like to think of myself as a pretty well-rounded individual. I do know, though, that not much beats the face-to-face interactions. Media distorts things like true emotion and feeling. Tone of voice does not always ring true when an actor is saying a line that should make you feel something totally different than what you got out of it, a book can be interpreted in many ways, just as text message can be very deceiving if not taken the right way. Sarcasm for example. Take this blog post; if I tried to get across that I am being sarcastic, there are only a few ways to try - maybe I try using a dash, italicizing, bolding, quoting, etc. But who really knows if it is read the way I wanted you to read it! This is when good, old, tried-tested-and-true face-to-face interaction will never be beaten. Distance Ed. courses or Correspondence courses in things such as Creative Writing - how does a student feel the emotion of the character when I tell you to read this story and ask for a response and hand it in. Did they pick up the emotion I would have used in my voice if that student was sitting in my classroom during my lesson? Seeing my face? Hearing my voice changing to convey the message?

This is why I enjoy talking to my fellow teachers. Without my available time to do so face-to-face as I keep saying, I blog. I blog and hope that someone out there is reading this post and it makes them think, reflect, consider, be inspired or maybe they hate it! I do not know, but what I do know is if no one comments, how do I know? Let me post this question I have asked before:

"If I post a blog post and no one reads it, does it really exist?"

Friday, May 01, 2009

Are your students too trusting of technology?

I just read a really great post from Vicki Davis - Cool Cat Teacher.

Her post discussed students using technology and taking it for granted. Most times, students are much too willing to accept and trust technology. It can get them into trouble a lot easier then they want to believe. Whether it be from us teachers or from a more scary source like the internet.

Here is snip for you - this part actually made me laugh because I allow ipods in my classroom while they are working as well, so I can really relate to this! Plus the image of headphones that look like "jet fighter" headphones make me giggle!
Here it is:

"On Tuesday, I was in my room helping the seniors with their movie and I had on a new headset which looks sort of like one of those jet fighter sort of headphones -- complete ear coverage. I looked like I couldn't hear them a speck. The microphone was up above my head since I wasn't using it. What they didn't know is that for some reason on that particular computer, the microphone was basically turning my headset into a wonder hearing aid.

I could hear the boy across the room and what he was listening to on his iPod (he was in study hall and if they are working on a project, I let them listen to their music - my room is actually quieter that way and most (not all) students get more done that way -- music is their quiet.)

I could also hear the student in front of me telling a coarse joke and those behind me responding. Some were whispering in another corner.

I just kept working - smiling to myself all the while. I enjoy the teachable moments like this-- I knew it was coming. So, I waited and finally decided to say something when the cute blonde girl who always blushes ear to ear started to say something I knew would mortify her if I heard.

I put my fighter pilot headphones around my neck and said:

"Man, it is amazing how these headphones magnify the sound in this room - I can hear EVERYTHING!"

The blonde girl blushed - and everyone turned and looked except the iPod wonder sitting in the corner.

"Really? You can hear everything? Let me hear!"

Sure enough, they each had to try it out. This spread through the school and others had to come try it out later. I mentioned to each of them that with technology - you never know who is listening."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

CPT 20 Game Show Skit - Nokomis Gladiators

Here is one of my group of student's CPT 20 Game Show Skits...

The Nokomis Gladiators!

I need some ideas...

I am in the market for a new idea....

Does anyone have any ideas for a cool, fun, final activity for CPT 10 or 20? It could be web based or be another video filming idea.

Comment and let me know!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

more CPT 10 sites

More CPT 10 wix sites:

Romeo and Juliet by Elisabeth

The Shipbuilder by Chase

Romeo and Juliet - Act Three by Kelsey

I am very impressed by these sites they did. Great work!

I would do this wix site project again but would probably make sure our servers could handle the bandwidth. With everyone working on it at the same time it was really slow and we did have problems with it freezing during saving, which was frustrating. But the neat widgets and graphics and large choice of backgrounds, etc. was very good for the students to personalize these sites to what they deemed appropriate or fun. Creativity is key in this assignment.

What do you think of these sites the students made?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Student Sites

Here are some of my CPT 10 student's wix sites...

They had to do these on a novel, play, short story, or some other media from ELA 9 - it could either be one we already took or one we will be taking in the coming month.

Romeo and Juliet sites:
Romeo and Juliet by Jason
ACT ONE by Lacey
...More to come later

The Pigman by Joel

Never Cry Wolf by Jason

Again, these students did a great job -- even though there was a lot of freezing, and slow incidents we survived the assignment and look how great they turned out! :-)

Student Wikispaces

Here are a few of my student's CPT 20 wikispaces from their assignment which is found HERE.

Vijay Singh by Brad

Hayley Wickenheiser by Melissa

The Mighty Ducks by Jenn

The Tudors by Caitlin

Strasbourg Maroons (Hockey Team) by Stephen

Queen Bloody Mary by Holly

Taylor Swift by Tessa

Wayne Gretzkey by Connor

The Outsiders by Brooke

This is just some of the many well done sites that they made. Well done! I am happy at how well this project worked out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taylor Mali video - I make a difference

Goofy - School teacher short video

my favorite part is when he gets dressed up like a backcatcher, walks into the room and has things thrown at him...haha classic

Goofy - what a character! :-)

Even though this was made in 1952, some of it still resonates. Some things in it are archaic - as it was 1952, but that stack of papers Goofy marks at the end is how life feels sometimes! haha! This is worth a watch for fun!

Some of my notes from iT Summit -Mar 23/09

From the iT Summit 2009
March 23rd, 2009:

J. McKenzie - Keynote
-- Reading and Comprehending Across a Dozen Information Literacites
These are some of my notes...

G. Hammond
Digital Storytelling Using Music and Comic Art
These are some of my notes...

D. Shareski
10 Disruptions That Transform Your Classroom
These are some of my notes...

TKAM - ELA 20 Creative Project - student-made


Thanks goes out to E. Germann for helping me figure out how to post student videos...woo! Look out for blog post overload! Here they come!!!

Discrimination Video
To Kill A Mockingbird
ELA 20
Student Creative Project

CPT project idea

An idea for CPT 20

Short Dramatic Production - Develop or use an existing local legend or story...

Try this online program - you need to sign up and create accounts for your students but you can play out the myth/legend!

This is not how I introduced it, but I think I will try to include this...

I just introduced this assignment last Friday but might change it up to include this new program. I will let you know how it goes...

Friday, February 27, 2009

A bit of a rant I am afraid...:-)

Hi All!

The wix assignments my CPT 10 class are doing are nearly finished - I will post the links when they are completed. The wikispaces my CPT 20 class are doing look to be well done so far. It is not due a bit yet but again, will post those when they are done!

In talking with other colleagues, I have really started to notice that the push for technology is leaning hard on some of them. We recently had a PD day where we went through a few things dealing with technology and ways to integrate them into classes. In some ways it is going to be easy for most teachers to do this - with the easy layout and navigation for most of the elementary programs we have - but the lack of computers in general and confidence always makes for a tough transition from an idea, to becoming a practical, usable assignment. Our school - like many others, has only one computer lab, with minimal amount of computers in the classroom itself. It sounds like we will be upgrading our labs to Mac computers and I am not sure what that will mean for the comfort level of those teachers who are just now starting to like the PC's we have here already. If this push for technology use is so big, then the right people need to invest more money and time into training, sharing, and buying. Training teachers with actual assignments that work for different grades and subjects and training on the actual programs that are installed on these computers, sharing the assignments in an easy way that is accessible to those who are still techno-shy, and buying the right software that is user friendly (ie. not -needing a degree in html sourcing haha!) and making sure this software works before the school gets a hold of it, and giving more than the minimum for the amount of computers needed in a lab.

Although we have a small school, I sometimes find it hard to get computer time on certain periods when I really need it. I have always felt a bit apprehensive when I ask to put some kids in the computer room when there is another class in the lab because a) I am not sure how the kid will act and if they will be distracting to the other students; b) if putting one in a room of other students will be distracting to him/her; c) if the teacher really does mind and they give in because they feel like they have to, I feel like I am putting more on their plate because they may feel like they have to watch my student when I leave to check on my other students. Yes, I know, I still do this to other teachers, and they do it to me as well. I really do not mind, but in the back of my head these issues arise. But I do feel this issue could be mostly resolved with lab carts with laptops as another computer lab. The cost is always the number one factor - especially in a small school such as this - but I know that the one time cost would really benefit the school. Where should this money come from if technology use is mandated by the government? Should it be at the local/school level? Division level? Government level? If it need be at the local/school level, then more money must be allocated to keep operation costs and resource budgets available and they will need more funding for technology that is specifically made for purchasing and upgrading this technology us teachers are supposed to be using!

This is nothing but a reflection of all small schools and from my experience in four of them. My time in small schools has allowed me many chances to be involved in the technological administration side of things, as a computer teacher itself, as well as just a regular classroom teacher who needs the lab once in a while. These different jobs I have had have allowed me lots of different angles and perspectives from which to approach this issue, but the bottom line is whether or not you love technology and integrate it currently into your classroom, it is a necessary evil which is overtaking our society so jump on the band wagon or get left in the dust. In saying that, there needs to be a sit down between the powers that be (whoever it is) and us teachers (the little guys :-)), to come up with a way to keep everyone updated, upgraded and feeling like they have some freedom to succeed with this push for technology.

WOO! Big rant! Sorry about that! :-) What do you think? I love comments so please, lets discuss!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Update and new things

Hi All!

Updating again...

I have been working with with my CPT 10 class making websites based on ELA literature of any sort - some are doing a website on an act of Romeo and Juliet, some on a novel we have done or will be doing, etc. The only problem I have been encountering, which may be a issue with our system (or the old computers we are using), is that the computers freeze up or the site is really slow - I only have 6 kids in this class so yes all are on at the same time but it still should not be THIS slow! It will freeze and not save or just pretend to save and it actually is not saved...ugh. I tell ya - major issues in class some days when the students log in and all the stuff they did last class is gone! EEK!

For my CPT 20 class I have decided NOT to use that program - I am having them create a wikispace....I was trying to be great and made a wikispace for them to get their assignment from....
I made the wikispace to put the assignment on, then I made them log in and go through it together as a class. I monitored them making an account, then gave them time to play around until they felt they were ready to start. Working really well so far!

Today we have a local PD day. We started with Discovery Streaming - love it! After we did that, we started to go through Atomic Learning - works good for personal PD - I think there are some really valid videos that I can use for my PD goals for this year.

When I asked the question that I wanted to know earlier - what is a good free website building tool to use for gr. 10-12 students...I did not really want to use for them, but was not sure what else was good - hence the wikispace venture....
I was told a good site that I am currently checking out right - seems to be really good - a bit more professional and organized for students to build a more structured and professional looking website. I think I will use it with them next time!

I am still in the process of figuring out how to get some of my student's videos in the format they are in now, uploaded so I can share with you - I will get there.

That's all for now!

Monday, January 05, 2009

New things and updated items I am working on

Hey all!

A few new things and some updates on what I have been working on...

New things:
you can make your own books (storybooks, kids books, all sorts), and you can get them published, maybe even recieve royalties! Fun to do with students - take that digital storytelling/book making a step further!

1. To Kill A Mockingbird - ELA 20 Novel Study
2. Creative Writing 20 Course
These are my 2 new wix websites that I have made...they are under construction so be patient - this program is soooo easy to use - I love it!

Check it all out! Tell me what you think - your feedback really helps!