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!