Friday, December 10, 2010

The "Ah-Ha" Moment

I love the "Ah-Ha" moments in life. I love them because they can be rare, but also because they feel good. You can be sitting, staring at something for minutes, hours, days even (if you walk away and come back haha), and all you become is frustrated why you can't seem to "get it"! I don't think it means that you are incompetent, or even not very smart (although that is definitely how you feel when you are not quite understanding), I think it means that you need more time to process what you're looking at, or what you are trying to figure out. Not all the time will we catch on and have the light bulb above our head shine bright.

Those moments when we "don't get it", are moments when we are at our greatest. I am sure that sounds completely odd to some people reading this post but I truly believe that once we are faced with a difficult/confusing/frustrating/complex situation or problem, that is when we show our real self. How do you know what you are made of if you don't let yourself feel weak? And when you are faced with a tough situation, a feeling of weakness is exactly what occurs. When faced with that tough situation, maybe you get stressed out, maybe you pull your hair, chew your nails, breathe heavy, grit your teeth, hit the desk or push your chair out and walk away to cool down. These things are not wrong necessarily, but it is what you do in the end that defines you. You need to step up and face the problem head-on; look it straight in the eye and tell it "you're not going to win". Ok, maybe not out loud but in your head haha. Our strength comes from what we do when we are stressed or confused - we need to just take 10 deep breaths (5 breaths for those of you that are not so hot-headed), sit back down and face it again. I always find that walking away for a few minutes helps - it clears the head and allows you to gain back a more clear perspective on the issue.

But when you come back and are ready to face the problem (whether it be a student's work you are correcting and he/she is just being lazy or missed a step you told them about 3 times already, or if your dog piddled on the floor because they were excited to see you and now you have to clean it up, or your child spilled their glass of juice on your new carpet), you need to step out, take a breath, come back and FACE IT! Every situation is different and unique but the approach needs to remain the same. It is all in your head. You can figure it out. When you're trying to put together that new coffee table from IKEA and it has about 1000 little screws and plugs and you can't understand where they could possible all go......just breath. Adversity comes in many forms. Rising up above the problem and solving it can make you feel so good. Concentrate on that good feeling you will have once this is over, step back into the situation and get it done. It is amazing how the moment of clarity (aka. the solution) that you have been searching for, for minutes, hours, days, will just pop up in front of you, making you so elated and excited that you can hardly wait to finish the task.

It is amazing how our attitudes change as soon as our "Ah-Ha" moment arrives. All of the sudden we aren't the bear that we were a minute ago when we were frustrated with the situation; all of the sudden we are beaming and grinning because our "Ah-Ha" bulb is here! We almost can't wait to tell someone - usually we do! All humans are the same and we face a lot of the same struggles so take your "chill pill" and get back at it - you will have your just have to be patient - that moment will be yours. In the words of Wayne Campbell on Wayne's World - "Oh yes, it will be mine". 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's it all coming to? Craziness....

I read a blog post by Jim Gates today about a conference he attended. He talked to a bunch of teachers and educational coaches and they were talking about blogging, using GoogleDocs and Wikis. They loved the ideas presented, but many said that they were blocked in their schools.
I am sure from all of my previous posts you remember my stance on this. HOW CAN THIS BE??? This is terrible. Why are we stuck in the past? How can kids learn from this? UGH!!!

Here a quote from his post:

"One coach even told me that she was asked by one of her board members who was concerned about their budget, "Why do you need the WHOLE Internet anyway?" Seriously! You can't make this stuff up! How do you respond to that? How confident can you possibly be in the sense that your school board is making intelligent decisions for the education of all the children in the district? How empowered does that make you feel?"

I think someone saying that is completely ludicrous! How can someone who is supposed to be involved in the decision making in schools, be so far off base from what our reality is today? If they are removed from a classroom for more than 5 years, then they are not very relevant. If they are not visiting schools often enough, or are not wanting to move forward, then why are we allowing these people to make the decisions? The problem lies in the old-school way of thinking. Allowing individuals who are uncomfortable themselves with technology to be in charge is a mistake. A forward thinking, technology-friendly individual is what is needed. We need to be using these tools in the classroom. They only enhance learning and engagement - no big deal huh? That is kind of the key to being a good educator - to use innovative ways to teach students the curriculum so they understand it and are engaged in their learning process.
In order to teach children to be digital citizens (because that is the age we live in), we need to allow them opportunities to develop the proper skills to be on the WHOLE web, and use the tools properly, not just block them and have them run-amok at home and possibly get themselves into trouble. If we aren’t teaching them how to navigate safely and appropriately then who will? Education is all-encompassing profession in today's world and everyone in the system needs to be on board with that – especially about technology. I’ve already sent out the email and posted it on my blog…haven’t they gotten the message yet?
"Why do you need the WHOLE Internet anyway?" For real? Phft. Silly talk.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Here we are again....our school under the review for closure processs. I can not really state how I feel about this, as it would be seen as a conflict of interest and a bit unprofessional. Of course I don't think we should be closed, and neither do our students. And so, we are using our technology talent to create some videos to promote our school and what it is we love about it.

Enter the "Boom-De-Yada" video concept.

Based on the Discovery Channel commerical from 2008 and 2009 (see below), aka. "I Love The Whole World"- we are creating a video called "I Love Nokomis School". Using the concept of this commercial and using video and pictures to present what the student body thinks and how they feel about our school, my students interviewed teachers, support staff, and the other students to develop a picture of what they love about our school. These items are being put into the video in various ways, using the song "I Love the Whole World" song as the background for flow. I am really excited to see how these turn out - and we have had a very good response from everyone who has participated and I know all us teachers are excited about it!

We will be giving 3 finished video versions of this project to the review committee for a voice from the students. Hopefully it will show what good things we have going on in this school, and all we are capable of - leading to a favorable decision. Cross your fingers.

Discovery Channel 2008

Discovery Channel 2009

Macro Theatre - Round Two

Here are the Macro Theatre projects that my CPT 20 students did this year. If you remember earlier I posted about this project, and that this is the 2nd time I have done this project with my students. I think this year's projects turned out pretty good. Check a few out...

Monday, November 08, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - my novel study website. Check it out and let me know what you think! I created it to have a paperless novel study. This is my second year teaching the novel like this and it went well last time. I updated some information, included more information, and fixed some of the formatting. I have the students complete the vocab before reading then we discuss the vocab, they read then answer questions from the site. Once they are done a section of questions the students email them to me and I edit/correct them using highlighting and notes and send it back to them for review. We host daily class discussion before they go on the computer and begin their assignment. I also included essay topics and a final project. The only thing not on there is the exams. I am excited to be doing this again and to be honest - it took me a while to build it to my liking (not perfect yet), but for a bit of perfectionist this was a really nice way to keep everything together and use an innovative way to spice up my teaching load. If I had more time I would attempt this for all my novel studies....maybe I will....I need some feedback - let me know what you think of it.

Free website - Powered By

Friday, October 29, 2010

A funny video...

Hey all! I thought I would share this funny video called BP Spills Coffee. It is supposed to be based on the oil spill (which is not a laughing matter), but the funny part is the recation of the people. Be warned there is a bad word at the end, but the content is great. I love the part where she is putting her hands out trying to stop the coffee....
(sorry, I couldn't get it to post properly after embedding it)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wi-fi....what's the deal?

If you have been watching the news lately, then you should be aware of a story coming out of Ontario concerning the use of Wi-fi in schools. If you want to read the whole article, it was posted on the web today as the parents vote to shut off the Wi-fi at an Ontario school.

Now the whole argument comes from select students becoming sick from the harmful waves emitted from the wi-fi system. Students have had a range of illnesses ranging from headaches, nausea, tingling, inability to concentrate, and they say that their symptoms go away during the weekend when they are out of the school environment. I am sure some of you are shaking your heads and thinking 'ya sure, those kids just don't want to work', but there may be some merit to these complaints.

When I watched this story on the news they had an analyst come in and test the exposure levels of wi-fi signals, and what they found were that some people were more sensitive to electromagnetic-type signals (wi-fi included), and some actually were feeling the symptoms that the children said as well. The subjects were not told when the wi-fi was turned on or off but experienced the symptoms only when the system was on. This is why some people are feeling the symptoms and others not, says this experiment, because some people are must more sensitive than others.

The Health Canada has laws in place for frequency levels and exposures to a certain level, and they say that wi-fi comes in way below the level the law is set at.

"Health Canada continues to reassure Canadians that the radiofrequency energy emitted from Wi-Fi equipment is extremely low and is not associated with any health problems," the statement said. "Based on scientific evidence, Health Canada has determined that exposure to low-level radiofrequency energy, such as that from Wi-Fi equipment, is not dangerous to the public."

The issue isn't necessarily the level as it sits right now, but the possibility of over-exposure as students sit in this environment 5 days a week, for 6 hours a day, for 14 or so years. Hmmmmmmm........makes you wonder a bit. Are we an experiment? Is there maybe some validity to this issue as our technology grows wider and more accessible? Does this concern reach other countries? Is this all a load of bull? What do you think??? Let's start a dialogue!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Macro Theatre Project

I did this project with my students in CPT (computer class) 2 years ago and they really enjoyed it. I call it Macro Theatre. I have my students use a digital camera with video capability (macro setting), and have them film an audio/video story that they have created themselves. The students write and create a "local legend" or re-create an existing legend story, and they find pictures/draw their own pictures/take their own pictures to represent the events in the story. These are used to show the actions of the legend as it is being read. Confused? I know, it seems complicated but the process is easy and the end result is really fun. I have the students choose a backdrop to do this on, and one/two student(s) are the 'picture movers' and the one or more students tell the legend like a story. All the audience sees is the pictures on a backdrop/background and can only hear the characters/narrator's voice. 

The point is to have students work more behind the camera while creating a fun tale! Many students do not like to be in front of a camera, and this is a great way for them to be involved and feel like they were really part of something great. I have had a great reception from this assignment and I am super excited to try it again this year.

This concept can be applied to ANY subject area or ANY topic you want. I have seen students create a biology video using the same method to have them explain a concept they just learned or researched - it sure beats the old "create me a poster and present it" assignment!

My hopes this year, are to try to use an audio overlay instead of just relying on the audio from the digital camera, which can be muffled during the best of scenarios. I am also looking into using some sort of program to insert action sounds instead of the students using onomatopoeia like "BANG" when a gun goes off. I am still looking...any ideas for these programs? Free preferably.

Here is the videos my students did last time....



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finding Balance During Infusion Process

Ever wonder if you are truly trying your hardest? I have had a few days like this lately - wondering if I am trying hard enough to give my students enough technology infused lessons. I tend to give many computer-based projects but am I really stretching their imaginations, their limits, their skills and abilities in the world of technology? Even though I am met with resistance from kids when they have to do something a bit more complex, that involves trying hard (imagine that - kids complaining about critical thinking lol), I still believe and KNOW that the purpose of the assignment and what I am asking of them is not a hard task and although they may not enjoy troubleshooting, hopefully they will enjoy the process after troubleshooting works, and the end result.

"CAN I DO MORE???!!!"
I think many times that my classroom (as technology-enabled as I can make it at the moment), is never quite good enough for what I want to teach and what I want them to learn. There is a bulk content that they need to get from the curriculum but apart from the few traditional ways and things I need to teach (i.e. essay writing), there really isn't anywhere that says I MUST teach this concept in THIS way only. Being creative can be a hard enough task in and of itself when you are trying to stay valid and keep up with the new programs. The idea of a Flat Classroom is something I am really interested in - intrigued by if nothing else. So how do we make this possible? A teacher is limited in certain ways - I know many bloggers out there don't want to believe it - but we are. Not all of us make enough money to just buy supplies for technology out of our own pockets, not all of us are able to access money from our division, or budget that allows us to buy more technological items, and not all of us are ready to throw down the walls of our classroom (just yet).

I am open to learning, excited to try new things and infuse technology everywhere, but sometimes I feel like my life can not just revolve around technology 24/7. Sometimes I need a break - sometimes I need to just read a good book and smell the smell of it (you know what I mean). I get overloaded with my google reader and my email and facebook, and news feeds, and teaching articles and blogs. I always think back to Rob Wall's session at iT Summit called "mark all as read" - I really enjoy this concept. On my google reader every morning I have had about 15 new things to read and truth be told, I don't want to read it. Oh the content is great, but I just don't have the time, or the mental effort to feel like I should be doing more (like I have been talking about this whole time). Where does your sanity end? How far can you be pushed? I enjoy my day just as much a lot of times when I click "mark all as read" and don't even bother checking anything out! Is that bad?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Edward Scissorhands and Teaching

I was watching one of my favorite Tim Burton movies today, Edward Scissorhands, and it came to the scene where the brother takes Edward to show and tell at school. I can't help but think to myself that I hope I can entertain my students that much someday! They are scared at the beginning, not talking or interrupting, then enthralled and then overwhelmingly excited - what teacher doesn't want a reaction like that to a lesson that you've put all your time and effort into creating! I think maybe Edward would have been a fun teacher to have because he just wants to please people....well at least his intentions are good :-)

Edward Scissorhands really is quite the interesting character. Maybe I should be making a lesson in media studies that reflects interesting characters and why people like them and relate to them. I think this is something that would interest students and get those critical and creative thinking skills working.

I am telling you now, that one of my goals for this year will be to have a lesson like this - maybe not quite to this extent, and definitely not using scissors or any other dangerous piece of equipment, but I will definitely put in more creative effort into my lessons to create a stir in my students. They need to be stirred up and woken up more often. I will try to keep you updated on how this all goes down this school year.
Motivational sets and enthusiastic deliveries here I come!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogging is cool!

Blogging is quite the tool. I am able to reach more people than ever before, just by writing a few sentences out and pressing a button to send it on. What I really find amazing about it is that I seem to have more readers from the United States than I do from Canada. This is interesting, considering I don't really know anyone from the US, and I live in the small province of Saskatchewan! Maybe not all of these hits are readers, but I am at least reaching out to them - maybe they stumbled upon my blog and were interested? Maybe I said something they didn't like and wanted to see more ramblings for the fun of it! Who knows!? All I do know, is that I am excited to have broken 2000 hits on my cluster map, and amazingly enough, over 13,000 on my apple counter that I put on my first day blogging. I hope all those hits are not just my family!
Give me a shout out in a comment if you're reading this and find my blog is useful or interesting to you...I will take no comments as that I need to try a lot harder to get your full attention!
Take care out there on the information superhighway - you never know where it may take you!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Social Media Revolution

Check out the newest Social Media Revolution video. Scary statistics! We better know what our students are getting themselves into, and be part of the process ourselves or we will all be left behind in 'soundbite dust'!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Retro Nintendo Video Concept

A sweet new video that shows Retro Nintendo characters (Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Tetris, etc.) invading NYC. I hear that this is in the works with Happy Madison Productions because Adam Sandler is interested in making this video into a big screen film! Quite exciting! -
Check it out!

Classrooms and Technology Use

My classrooms is quite small. I find myself wanting it bigger every time I need to use technology. Why is it that whenever I need to use something that is supposed to help me gain a bigger perspective, I need a bigger classroom? Ok, maybe it is just the set up, but I am constantly changing stuff around to make things like plug-ins more accessible for my technology. My desk needs to be moved, always closer to the outlet just like when I want to watch something using my projector and I have to move a minimum of 3 desks each time, just to get it in a spot that works to fit on my board (and reach a plug in)!

Maybe this is just a rant, but why can't there be more money for schools to be properly set up to use this technology that they are pushing on us. It's not like I hate the technology - because I don't - I absolutely love being able to use a projector, speakers and computers in my classroom on a daily basis! But, the problem lies in how the classrooms themselves are set up. Having cords laying on the floor all the time is not really ideal, and neither is having to move desks every time you want to show a video. I know my projector is in the works to hang from the ceiling, but who knows how long that could take? It doesn't exactly fix the speaker problem, or my computer cord problem! Maybe this problem is specific only to me, but I want to know how small schools deal with these sorts of issues. Do we get left in the dust and only receive attention once the large centers are in superb shape? I don't know the answer, but it is a concern that could become a real problem once more teachers start using these tools in their classrooms and need the access available for every class period. My frustrating rant is now done, but I want to post a question to all you listeners out there...When technology use in a classroom becomes a hindrance, and stops you from wanting to use the technology because of the issues you always encounter, is it all because of human error (how an individual approaches the problem), or something entirely different?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cool Tools - iT Summit 2010

I absolutely loved this part of iT Summit 2010! It was one of my favorite ending sessions to a conference I have ever attended. It was 2 great information technology leaders, just showing each other up by giving a bunch of tools to check out and I found it so great. I love hearing about a bunch of new tools - it saves me the work of farting around on the internet for hours to find cool things! I know sometimes it feels like overload of information - but I wrote them down - for myself as well as for you - to try to chip away at for the next month or so. Check them out, try them out, blog about them, implement them in a classroom and/or move on to the next one!

Here is my google doc that has ALL the cool tools they talked about!

Rob Wall - iT Summit 2010 - breakout session May 4/10

Rob Wall - iT Summit 2010
May 4/10

Notes from the presentation...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Will Richardson #2 - Breakout session notes - iT Summit 2010

Will Richardson - From Information Literacy to Information Leadership
Breakout session - iT Summit 2010
May 4/10

Here are my notes...use as you see fit (if you can understand them) :-)

Will Richardson - iT Summit 2010 - Amazing Keynote Presentation

Will Richardson - iT Summit 2010 - Saskatoon, SK
My notes from the presentation to share with all of you...
He is really inspiring. He re-ignited the flame of teaching in me today. I can not wait to get back to my classroom tomorrow and begin to implement some of these things! I know that I need to do more. I do many technology based things, not just in my classroom, but on my own - I blog, I have 3 wikispaces, I am in many groups, I have an RSS feed, I read and read, I learn and learn, but I can do so much more. I know time is short in a day, but more needs to be done, and so it will. Thanks goes out to Will Richardson! I am excited to teach again!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plastic Pollution - The World's Largest Garbage Patch

I came across this blog post from Jim Gates' blog - Tipline. As the title of by post suggests, it is about the issue of plastic pollution and how it is impacting the world. Be aware that this video is graphic and disturbing. The hope is that this information will make you think again before throwing out plastic bottles. This crisis is and will be affecting our students as the next generation and they will be the ones left to deal with it. Please share this with like minded people. This is a movement for change.

Chris Jordan: Polluting Plastics from PopTech on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CAP ELA 10 - Shakespeare Lesson

I presented the video in class yesterday, and had the students do the during viewing activities as well as the after viewing questions. We discussed the viewing activities and I had the students complete the after viewing questions to be handed in for evaluation. I think that it all went really well, the students laughed a bit during the video, which meant they were engaged instead of falling asleep (yay!). The video I found was on the Discovery Education website. You have to have an account and log in to view the video, but for those of you who have a subscription to Discovery Education, as all in my school division do, it will work in any of your classrooms. The website is great because many of the full videos, or video segments, come with a teacher guide and sometimes even other activities you can do instead of making up your own (nice!).

Check out my page I developed on my horizon CAP pbwiki for CAP ELA 10: Lesson 1 - Intro to Shakespeare and Tragedies. I developed this lesson because my grade 10 students will be taking Macbeth starting on Monday. I will share the rest of my lessons as they come along!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CAP - ELA 10 Introduction

I am excited to have joined this Collaborate Apprenticeship Program that my division is beginning this year. My favorite part is that I get a laptop, projector and speakers to use in my classroom! Woot Woot! I have definitely utilized these awesome pieces of technology already - and look forward to the opportunity to use them even more often! We are placed into subject-specific groups - mine is ELA 10 - the point is to try to use technology to enable more diversified and technology-infused lessons in classrooms across the division. Great idea - as long as people are willing to do the work. I think of it as the same work as we always do as teachers - prepping for new lessons - only with a technology kick! This is not a bad thing because teaching is definitely moving towards more technology infusion in classrooms - maybe we will just remain ahead of the ever growing curve upwards?

My group's first assignment is to create a lesson using a video, then come up with 10 questions that go along with the video. We are supposed to try the lesson in our classes, blog about the successes or need-to-be-improved-experience (or share somehow with our group members). We are part of a pb wiki and we were asked to create a page about our lesson so that the lesson can be shared with the other members (or anyone else interested) - so that they can try it in their classrooms as well!

I have picked the topic of Macbeth, and chose a few videos. Now that the fun part is over, it is time to come up with the questions.....I will let you know how it all works out!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kodu Game Development

I have been introduced to a neat new project - Kodu! No, I am not congratulating you - that is the name of the program you use to develop this amazing new world!

What is Kodu?
Kodu (originally named Boku) is a visual programming environment tool designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone.
Kodu is available to download as an Xbox 360 Indie Game. There is also a PC version in an open beta which is available to anyone at their website.Kodu is different from other projects in several key ways:
•It avoids typing code by having a user construct programs using visual elements with a game controller
•Rather than a bitmapped or 2D display, programs are executed in a 3D simulation environment, similar to Alice (another program you can use)

Information borrowed from

It is downloadable to your PC and it allows you to create Kodu characters and your own Kodu world! You are given a blank world, and you choose your terrain, landscape, objects, etc. to create games, simulations, and many other possible things. It is like a virtual world - you give your Kodu character an action, and when you run it, the Kodu does the action. Basically it is a program where your students can create games - which can be uploaded to their XBox 360!

I have found (with the help of my learning technologist) where to download it (we already have gotten approval and have it installed in our school), a bunch of resources and tutorials both in print and video format for students to teach themselves or you to teach yourself, and have put them all on my wikispace. I developed a page on my wikispace for Kodu Game Development, and have created a 18 class period mini-unit, complete with assignments for a CPT 30 student. I would not recommend giving this project to a student in a lower skill level, or a lower class stage because it takes some real ingenuity, creativity, and computer smarts to figure out some of the stuff. Of course some younger students could do this as a modified project yes, but what I have developed will be aimed expectation-wise for a student in grade 12.

Check it out - and please comment on my blog because I want to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Giving students all the answers...

Why is it that students want the answers put right in front of their face? Is it that they are lazy? Unambitious? Do they just want the easy route? Many of you may think that these assumptions are true, and in a few cases it may be just that. But what about those other students? Those who actually are trying and those who are willing to put in the time. It seems hard to swallow sometimes when we sit in our classrooms and see those students (there may be lots of them), that just get frustrated with you when they don't have the answer given to them in the notes or once they watch a video. I had an experience like that today in my social studies 9/10 class.

I was quite happy to be presenting a video about "The Great Age of Exploration (1400-1550)" to my students. I think to myself, 'Hey, it sure beats having to read the textbook or do notes. They will love this.' Little did I realize that not all students agree. Once the video was done, there were 10 discussion questions for them to complete and hand in. They loosely fit the video, but were also a source of critical thinking for the students to evaluate what the explorers actually did for the world. Boy oh boy, I tell you, there were about 3/4 of my class that hated that assignment. They were grumbling, talking back, talking under their breath about how I am '"not teaching them what they need for this assignment", or they are "not sure how they are supposed to remember all that happened in the video to answer these questions", or how "it would be nice to be able to have an example". I get increasingly frustrated myself (inside), and tell my students "these are critical thinking questions, and you need to relate the information you saw in the video to what is being asked in the question. The answers will not always be given to you word by word. Sometimes you have to dig deep and use some common sense and prior knowledge to help answer the questions." They were not impressed with me. So, I gave them one answer I had to one of the questions. It didn't seem to help their attitude, but I at that point was not concerned with those that "have to have it their way all the time", and focused my effort on those that did want to try. Because as teachers, we are there for those who want to learn, and those who want to push themselves to succeed and try new things. Critical thinking skills are extremely important, and I think we need to push our students to try and to develop those skills.

Success and life is not handed out on a platter, and neither should the answers. Make them work for it, otherwise we are doing a grave injustice to our future citizens. What do you think?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update and idea?

Hey fellow listeners! It has been waaay too long! What have I been up to? TOO MUCH!

I have been super crazy busy with my CPT 10/20/30 students, who were working on Swedes of movies. If you don't know what a Swede is, you better rent the movie "Be Kind, Rewind". It stars Jack Black and it is about how he becomes magnatized and erases a bunch of VHS tapes in his friend's movie rental store. They are eventually left to their own devices about how to fix the problem, so they decide to remake the movies using something called "swede" which is short for Swedish (don't ask me)! Basically they are hilarious remakes of movies such as Ghost Busters and Men In Black (just to name a few). This becomes really popular and people really like their remakes.
I have checked out Youtube and it seems as though this is a phenomenon that is/was sweeping the globe. Many countries such as the UK have had competitions about who makes the best swede of movies. I thought "what a great project for my students!" So, we came together as a split class (had to all work together), and chose some blockbusters to remake. We chose Star Wars -Episode 4; Step Brothers; Marley and Me; Fast and the Furious; Transformers and; Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. They are just finished - it took forever because we have so little of students, and we needed many actors! But, I think most of them turned out great. I will be posting them as soon as I get them marked, on our school's project showcase wikispace
What took the most amount of time for this project was the organization, which incidentally is the part that the students dislike the most as well. It is like pulling teeth to get students to plan the projects they are going to do, no matter how many times I tell them that it's worth marks, or it makes a better project, etc. all they want to do is film it. Getting the props and improvising the ones we could not get was tricky as well. The point of the swede was not to make it look really professional, and with limited resources and time, we did what we could. I would definitely do this project again some year but I would cut down the number of movies and make it a larger group project and just tackle 2-3 movies.

One of my students asked me for a hard CPT 30 project - and I am still thinking about one. Does anyone have an idea - either audio or video (1-2 students), that would work? Comment and let me know!

I would love to hear from you!!!! Until next time, keep that camera rolling!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Technology Infusion and Engagement of Students

'Technology infusion in the classroom is important for a relevant learning experience.'

When this statement comes to mind, what are your thoughts? Mine include descriptors such as exciting, challenging, experimenting, succeeding, failures, and engagement. I want to draw your attention to the last one. Engagement. Engaging your students in your lesson (no matter what subject) is one of the most crucial things a teacher needs to strive for. I am sure you always hear that if your students are engaged, then they are learning, growing and are more likely to succeed. Am I right? Have you heard it before? Well I think this is an extent.

I know what you’re thinking now, 'what is she talking about?', but I promise you my explanation will get you thinking about the way you teach. Here it goes:

As your students walk in your classroom, ask yourself if they are engaged with their surroundings right when they walk in. Answer is probably not. Not unless you are a person who attends to all individuals in all your classes at all times. Chances are, students are not engaged from the moment you see them and they step into your class. Chances are, they are waiting for you to engage them. Waiting for the moment when school ceases to be boring and begins to be something they 'can get into' and enjoy. It may be for just that class, but our job as teachers is to try. We do know that people (even in general, not just students) learn better if they are interested and care about what they are learning. To engage your students, means that they will grow, learn and succeed. Well I have some food for thought on that. If you students are engaged, they will do so much more. Once given the chance, all students have potential to grow on their own. They do not need you to learn. They need an environment that is conducive to their personality and their own learning style. Technology infusion engages students. There is no doubt about it. Most of them deal with technology a hundred times in a day. They text, email, facebook, myspace, IM, play games, etc. If we are not on the wave of the future (aka. technology) then our students are not engaged. Wow, I know that is a big shoe to fill. I am not saying that every class period needs to have technology infused, or that your students will not grow, learn, or succeed without it, but what I am saying is that teachers need to step back from their day to day stuff, maybe the same stuff they have been using for YEARS, and step to the right and go outside their box. If you challenge yourself, your own growth and learning increases, so why not use that simple idea and apply it to your students. If they are put outside their box, maybe by giving them a new assignment that is technology based, maybe their limits soar through the roof. That student that does not enjoy writing has an opportunity to use his gaming skills, since he has been playing World of Warcraft online every day, and put it to good use by developing a WWI famous Canadian battle scenario using flash for a History 20 assignment instead of a report! Do you think that student would be more engaged in the content? Do you want the student to remember the battle or just regurgitate what he/she has read about it? Or do you want him/her to use the talent to grow in more than one way?! This student's engagement is pin-pointed on learning and will achieve the objectives using a modern, fresh approach to something that applies to him! Maybe this technology infusion will be the spark he/she needs to get off the couch and think about a career in computer programming? Maybe you have just broken this student's shell and will see growth and engagement in many other things. My point is, giving technology infusion a chance, even if it means stepping outside your box may mean more to your students then you ever thought imaginable; quite possibly giving all your students a chance at engagement in their learning that they will never revert back from. Try it, what are you waiting for?