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Podcast

April 9, 2009

So this tech task really got the better off me. I really do not like the sound of my own voice so that was the first thing that turned me off of it. The second was I had no inspiration. I kept seeing some great podcast go up from my classmates but I had nothing. I was really focusing on the idea of an interview because I knew that would mean less of my voice. I finally decided that I would do an interview with my little cousins when they were over. I was so excited to finally be working towards getting this tech task done! I interviewed the youngest one (he’s 4) about his favourite movie, Gremlins.
During the interview his brother and sister (6 and 9) popped into the conversation as well. The end recording was so cute and funny, all I needed to do was add some music, an introduction and a conclusion. Easy I thought. But then we all had to leave because it was time for ringette (I coach my cousin’s team). When I returned home I found my laptop off. The only problem was I never said the raw audio, my interview was gone, and with it my ambition to finish the task. 

I was back to the drawing board now when it came to deciding what to do with the task and I really wanted to just complete it already. Then I had the idea to do an interview from the rink because I was going to be there for a lot of sunday afternoon anyways as I was volunteered to score keep for some of the final games. At first I thought I would bring my laptop and conduct interviews from the penalty box. Then it dawned on me though, I could use my blackberry to record! That is much easier than bringing my computer. So I headed to the rink ready to attempt this tech task once again. Unfortunately though things at the rink were hectic and I didn’t want to bug anyone. I also decided that coaches wouldn’t want me interviewing their players while in the penatly box, maybe during the season they would be okay with it, but this was city championships so I needed to be serious. I didn’t want to give up on the task though so instead I did a short podcast to introduce one of the games I was working and then also got a little feedback from my cohosts (my aunt who I coach with and one of our players) I hoped to chronicle the game on the podcast but there was no time to do it while working the clock and scorekeeping. This task did give me a good chance to work with audacity though and I found some great how to videos and instructions for it on its website and wiki. I also learned that the audiofile from blackberries doesn’t work in audacity so I had to record my recording which is why it gets really quiet in some places. Anyways enjoy this short talk about ringette!

Polar Bears

Polar Bears

Click here to hear it.

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Final Reflections

April 9, 2009

ECMP 355 – The Journey

When I was looking for classes this semester ECMP 355 was one that I was really interested in but also had some concerns about. I really was interested in learning more about the way I could use technology in the classroom, but I was worried that there might be some overlap between this class and some IT courses that we offered in third year. Well I definitely had nothing to be worried about as this class was full of new information each week and had me engaged the whole semester. It would be easy to list each thing that we did each week and what I appreciate about them and how I think I would be able to use it in the classroom but I think that that might be a little bit of an overkill. Instead I want to share some of my highlights of this social learning experience.
Blogging – Blogs were something that I had never really paid much attention to before this class began and also something that I will admit I had a pretty negative attitude towards. In my head I had the idea that blogs were a place where people publically shared every possible aspect of their lives. As a result of that thinking I had already decided that blogs were not for me. We were required to start a blog for this class and at first I was feeling a little unsure about it but after doing a couple of the first tech tasks I had changed my mind. One of the early tech tasks had us adding other peoples blogs to our google reader and asking that we read some of the stuff that was out there on these educational blogs. I couldn’t believe how interesting and insightful some of them were, and the amount of resources that they were providing me with. I think I really appreciated though how because I had added some a large number of blogs I was constantly getting to read about a wide variety of educational issues, and a lot of the time they were things I had never thought about before. When it came to my own blog I found that I did not do a lot of postings outside of the tech tasks that Dean set up for us. I think that one of the main reasons I struggled with posting outside of the tech task was that I was now aware of the potential strength of my voice. I knew that at the very least my classmates would be reading my work and maybe people from ecmp 455. I have always been a bit shy with my work and worrying about what people are going to think. What if they hate it? What if I come off sounding dumb? Were just a few of the things that I would and still do worrying about. It is not that I am opposed to constructive critism. I think it is great when people respond and help you expand your learning on a topic, but I just get very apprehensive about what people are thinking and not saying to me. I do want the feedback but there is this part of me inside that is afraid that my opinions are not right or do not deserve to be heard by such an audience. I have always been one of those students who rarely talks in class even if I know the answer and I have also hated publicly presenting my own work. Speeches were the worst day of my life in high school. My anxiety would rise, my face would go red, my palms would be sweaty, and my voice would be trembling. After they were over of course it was never as bad as I imagined it could be, I would receive good marks, but no matter how many times we had to do a presentation I would always be feeling that same way. These feelings continued into university, and I again took the role of a student who rarely puts their hand up and contributes, especially in a class or 200 or 400 people. Now though I am at risk of looking like I am not contributing to class and my silence can be seen as disengagement. Luckily in class sizes that big no one knows your name so it doesn’t really effect you. However as I moved along in university the classes got smaller and the professors became more aware of who each student was in the class. I was now more accountable for my learning and for the learning of others as I was expected to contribute in class. I should mention that any type of group work I was perfectly happy adding my two cents, it was just situations in which I become the focus of the entire class, and everyone is waiting to here what I have to say. I find it too be a great deal of pressure. I never want to let anyone down, and I always feels as though if I say the wrong thing people will think less of me. I’m not sure what the deal with this but it has got better as I have gotten older and I feel more comfortable with my ideas and thoughts. I think that I have a stronger sense of self and that I am more aware that there are always going to be people that do not think much of what you have to say but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t share my thoughts anyways. I speak in class way more than I ever used to and have even managed to get rid of the sweaty palms, red face, and trembling voice. I still feel a bit of anxiety, butterflies in my stomach, but I am comfortable and confident with what I have to say.
There were a lot of times this semester when I would have something that I really wanted to blog about but just never got around too. I often would feel like there just wasn’t enough time though for me to sit down and really express what it was I wanted to share in my blog post, because I knew I would also need to find so quality hyperlinks that related to my topic and a video or picture to make it more appealing to my readers. Near the end of the semester I saw a blog post by Sarah Hill. She had used voice thread in order to get all of her thoughts across. I thought this was a perfect idea because it saves you time as a writer, allows you to give more expression by using your voice, and it also can help avoid having those really long blog post (like this one) that people might look at it and get overwhelmed by the length and decide not to read it.
My favorite posts that I did all semester though were the ones that I was writing more because it was something that I wanted to talk about rather than because it was something that I had to talk about. I also found that those were the ones that I would receive some comments on which would make me feel good about sharing my thoughts and opinions.
Commenting was something else that I know I did not do enough of this semester. We really did have a great class of people who were posting fabulous things but I found that I got into a very bad habit of only reading posts in my reader. Since I was reading every ones blogs in my reader I would often forget all about commenting. I know that sounds like a weak excuse but it was usually only after I saw the word comment on the bottom of the page that I would think about going and commenting. The other reason I didn’t leave a lot of comments was because I kept having difficulties getting my comments to post. I’m not sure why but every time I would use my mac the image that you need to recopy into the box to verify that you’re a person would never load! I would try reloading, different browsers, restarting and nothing was working. I ended up so frustrated after these experiences that I would just shut my computer off and go and do something else. I think commenting on others peoples work is really important though because it helps to validate peoples thoughts (if perhaps they were worried about people reactions), it allows interaction and makes the post a conversation rather than an opinion, and it can also work as a motivator.
I hope that even after this course ends that I keep my blog and that I actually become a better blogger. Right now I am a very sporadic blogger and I would like to do it more regularly. I am hoping that by continuing to blog my thoughts and ideas it will help me gain confidence in my voice and myself.

Social Networking – The chance to create connections between classmates and other educators has been another high point for me. Although I mentioned I haven’t commented a lot on peoples blogs I have been appreciating the information that they have shared with me. For some examples of when I did click here, here and here I feel especially lucky that we have been introduced to so many great educators from around the world we were are now able to make contact with. I have created a twitter account and while I don’t send out that many tweets myself yet. I do follow a large number of the educators from class and I can really see the value in being connected this way. The amount of information that passes through twitter in a day is amazing I have picked up a few resources off of there already. Following these educators on twitter is like having a secret weapon. They are always there when you need them and they are always willing to help. It is great to know that so many people who are passionate about education exist and that they are willing to help each other become the best at what they do.

Image from Technology in the Middle is maintained by Patrick Woessner,\

Image from Technology in the Middle is maintained by Patrick Woessner,"

Mentorship (update and reflection) – My experiences with mentorship left off exactly where they were the last time I talked about it. Maura Mortiz’s class got their essays corrected. I noticed that my groups marks were a lot less than those that Marcy’s received. I couldn’t help but feel responsible and like I should have done more to help them. As I touched on before though I found it very difficult trying to edit a student’s work without know who they are or being able to talk to them. I worried about changing to much of the essay because I didn’t want to do the assignment for them and I also worried about how my comments or changes would affect them. I wanted to be able to edit their work and leave feedback that would show them both the positive and maybe areas for improvement. I really like the idea of their assignment though and how it was a group of students all collaborating on one google document. I appreciate how using google docs would have made it easier for the students to work on their project outside of school because they would all have access to it and any changes that were made to it instantly. With Chad Brannon’s class I never had much contact with them again after the skype call. I think that it was tough on both sides because although he does a lot with his class using technology this was a new unit that he was doing so he was having a hard time finding where to fit us in. For me I had a hard time remembering to go to the class wiki and check out if there was anything I could be doing. Although my experiences kind of dropped off in the end. Participating in this project has opened my eyes to vast numbers of things that you can do using the internet to connect your classroom to classrooms around the world. It also showed me a lot of new ideas that I could try in the classroom as I read what other people were doing with their mentorship classes. I appreciated the chance to talk to some other teachers and see first hand what they were doing and in Chad’s case even see his class and classroom. It truly was a unique experience.

Walking away from this class I know that I am leaving with a lot of resources that I can take to me own classroom and experiment with. I also know that I am leaving with a network of people who I can contact for ideas and help when needed. I have learned a lot about the importance of social learning and how connecting yourself to other can really make a difference and help you grow professionally. To end I wanted to reflect on something Dean said while talking about our online identity in class last week. He said that it is important that we take control of our identity. I never had really given anything thought to what my identity might be and when I used to google myself someone else would always come up. Now that I have changed my name it is almost as if I am starting over because anything I publish online with the my new name is coming up at the top of the google search. Knowing this I hope to take the next steps towards creating a positive online identity and giving back to the community that has given me so much this semester.

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My Final Project

April 8, 2009

For my final project I created a story that I am also using for my ELNG 325 class (the teaching of writing) Our assignment in that class was to create a book about ourselves that we could use in the classroom to share with our students. Our professor gave us some different focuses that we should choose from and the one that I picked was: our hopes and dreams (future intentions). I chose this topic because I wanted to do a story about how I ended up in the faculty of education. Being a teacher was never something I even considered when I was younger and it has been a fun journey getting here so I thought I would share it. I tried to use each different career that I thought about in the story as a way to tell my students a little bit more about me. I also hoped to get the point across that it is okay to not always have all the answers and that as long as you follow your heart and mind you will end up where you are supposed to be. Before you get too far into this I wanted to mention that one of the reasons I chose to do this project as a digital story is that it then allows it to be something that I can continue to change and update as I need to. Right now this story is too difficult for a kindergarten class but if I wanted to I could go back and change it. Having it online allows me to keep it from becoming something static and outdated.

The other reason I chose to write my book in this format was because I thought it could be used to jump start a lot of different activities within the classroom. At the end of the book I pose the question to my students what do you want to be when you grow up? This can be used to get to know your students better by having them write something for you about them. The book can also be used as an example in how to write a book, and I can show them the messy evidence of my writing process that led to this end result. I also though that the students might be unaware of what some of the careers are and that it could lead into a researcher project. Students could go on a mission to figure out certain information about those careers (ie what do they do? what type of training to you need? who do they serve?) This book can also be used to do digital storytelling in the classroom and introduce students to the different tools that are available for them to use. It can simply be used as an example of a different type of storytelling. The last purpose that I think this book really has it that it is giving the students information about me and who I am, and hopefully that will help in the relationship building process. because they will see that I am willing to share information about myself with them. At the end of the day I think that is the most important purpose of this book because it is hard to have a classroom where learning takes place without developing positive relationships with our students.

Technically wise this project was a bit of a headache for me. I found that i had a really hard time finding a program that worked well for uploading photos, then adding text, and then adding voice. I tried one true media, imovie 09, and bubbleshare (to name a view) before I decided that voice thread was going to work the best. Imovie is a program that I have experience using so I decided to not use it to complete this project. One true media I had a lot of problems getting everything organized on, and bubbleshare I just didn’t have the patience for. Voicethread is very user friendly though and allowed me to do everything that I wanted. My favorite thing about Voicethread though was how easy it was to upload photos. Uploading photos is always the biggest headache for me and this program did it quickly and easily. My one complaint though is that I had difficulty embedding my finished product.

I should mention that some of the pictures that I used were created using acorn. Acorn is a program that I just recently got, and it couldn’t have came at a better time. I had this vision in my head for how I wanted to have picture of someone else in the occupation I was discussing but with my head placed on top. Now this probably seems like a pretty easy concept to some people but I am terrible at photo editing. It is one thing that I have never been good at. I think that photoshop just has too many bells and whistles because I can never quite make it do what I want. Acorn however was very easy to use to layer pictures and I ended up with exactly what I was looking for (minus the lines being a little shakier than I hoped) I also used a program called picturesque for my about the author photo. Picturesque is a program that is stricly for adding fine touches for photos. I found that I really enjoyed both of these programs because they allowed me to focus on just doing one thing to a photo and I wasn’t as intimidated by everything else. As I was working with them I thought that they would be good programs to use with younger students or students with disabilities because there is less there to get distracted by and also it helps you to focus your outcome for that photo.

I should also note that because I was having a lot of problems finding a program that I wanted to stick with and also with adding text to the photos once the had uploaded I downloaded picasa. With picasa I then added the texts to any images that were going to be in my story ahead of time. Then when I finally decided on voicethread for my final project all I had to do was upload all the photos, put them in order and record my audio.

At the end of all this I am pretty happy with my final result. I was starting to think that I would never get it all together. If I did it again though the one thing that I would like to be able to add is animation. I think it would have been great to include some images that were moving.

I hope that you enjoy this story though and that it makes you think a bit about your journey to becoming who you are. (I would have said to who you are now that you are grown up, but I’m not sure that I like being considered a grown up and I wouldn’t want to impose that title on any of you either!)

To view my story click here.

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Tech Task # 3 – part 2

April 5, 2009

I added a part two to this tech task because there was another blogger that I really wanted to recognize as being a great inspiration for me and that is Karen Janoski. This blog is titled Edtech Solutions: Teaching Every Student. In her latest post she talks about independence and dependence in schools. She mentions how we want independent students yet we believe that we have better success working one on one and with IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs which are similar to our PPP’s (Personal Program Plans)) She mentions that some of these processes can actually help teach dependence. I should mention that she is talking about students who have disabilities as she continues to say how can we expect independence when they are never given the opportunities to do things such as produce their own written work. From here she makes some suggestions for how we can change shift our views on disability and accommodation. This was the part that really stuck out to me. I suggest you go and read the post for yourself. If you don’t though here is the one suggestion that really had an effect on me:

“2. Recognize the inherent disability that exists in the curriculum and instruction when students with learning struggles can not access the curriculum using traditional methods. Although no research exists that supports the superiority of textbooks, lecture based and paper based methods, the majority of classroom instruction depends upon these methods of instruction. Time to stop blaming the student when our methods disable their performance and participation.”

I compeletly agree with her and how we need to start looking at our documents like the curriculum and asking what is wrong with it? How can we change it to better address the needs of all our students? Rather than constantly asking what is wrong with this student or that student, why can’t they learn from this document?
I think an important thing to remember when thinking this way is just because it is not your way does not mean that it is the wrong way.
diversityentries08new_img_22

I found this poster while I was searching for a picture for this blog and what really stood out to me about it was the words “we all count” I think that is a very important message for us to always remember, especially as teachers. Everyone of our students counts, each of their opinions is as important as the next, all of their needs are important, and they all deserve the same opportunities for education, and independence.

Below i have pasted what the creator of this picture had to say about it:

Toni Holmes – My piece is a very symbolic digital artwork that expresses the true equality we have the right to share as human beings. The extreme contrast between the black and white used repetitively throughout the artwork describes how opposing colours (races) can work and live together harmoniously. The constant size of the two figures represents how males and females are as important as each other, and the encricling words around them describe the similarities all humans share. It also symbolises the earth on which they live; a world of peace, cooperation and understanding of each others differences.

I found the picture here, where there are several other great diversity posters that were created for diversity week last year.

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Tech Task #3

April 5, 2009

Like a couple other of my classmates, I also didn’t realize that part of this tech task was about responding to a blog post from one of the individuals that you added to your reader. My first thought was to talk about the blog kept by Paul Hamilton His blog is called Free resources for from the net for (special) education. This blog is one that I have loved going to. I think the title alone tells you why. If it is not already in your reader I would suggest that you add it. There have been a couple things that I have been blown away by and so thankful that I am getting the opportunity to experience now. As I’ve mentioned before I want to teach special education so it has been great for me to get some resources that I am familair with before I start teaching. I also have a younger brother who has Cerebral Palsy who I want to try using some of these resources with to help him utilize his computer at home. To get to my point, I choose two resources from Paul Hamilton’s blog to share today.

1. Tidyreadtidyreads is a free website that allows you to extract text from any webpage and put it onto a easy read page that contains none of the other distractions or clutter that we see on webpages. For Paul’s review of this tool click here.

2. Sqworlsqworl is a website that allows you to create webpages where you can use images of your choice to link to other webpages. This is a really great resource that you can use for students who are already using a lot of visual cues for communication, or for students that have some reading difficulties. You can make pages for an individual in your classroom or for groups. I think this tool would also be useful in the younger grades when they are still getting comfortable with computers or you could use it to help keep them focused on the sites that you are using in our classroom. To read Paul’s review click here.

As a last point I wanted to comment on how following this blog has opened my eyes to using technology with people who have disabilities. I am aware that there is a lot of amazing technologies out there that are designed as assistive technologies for people and that with the aid of technology there are a lot of incredible things happening in the area of quality of life improvement and research for people with disabilities. However this site has reminded me that we don’t always have to rely on these technologies that can cost thousands and thousands of dollars, and also that there are still some things in life that are free.

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Podcasts

March 18, 2009

Another tech task for this week was to find two podcasts that we are interested in. It was suggested that one of our choices should be educational. I started out my search for that podcast by going to the education category and then I searched special education as it is an area that really interests me. I was quickly given a list of podcasts related to this and they all sounded really great, so I subscribed to them and then thought this is great I have a head start on my tech task and a lot of great stuff. But then when I actually sat down and starting listening to some of them I was very disappointed both with the content and the engagement of the podcast. So I started all over again and decided to browse through all of the podcasts in the education category. I eventually came across SMARTBOARD lessons podcasts by Joan Badger and Ben Hazzard (who actually presented to our class about smart boards.) The episodes that I have listened to so far have been great, they give you lots of resources, and best of all I find the hosts to be engaging and they liven up the discussions with music, and even some sound effects. As great as all the information is in this podcast one of the other things that really draws me to it is the quality. The sound quality of these is so good that I find that has a huge impact on how interested I am in it. I listened to a couple of podcasts that I think I would have enjoyed more if they were as loud and clear as this one.

The second podcast i choose is one done by John Cleese. I choose this one purely because I find John Cleese hilarious, and I think he has some pretty good information that we can take out of his rants. For example this one on airlines. Enjoy!

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Google Maps

March 18, 2009

In my ECMP class last week Dean talked to us about Google maps, and opened a whole new world for me. Now I have heard of google maps before and used them to help me get from point a to point b. However I had never thought about using it as a trip planner. It is amazing how easy it is to find and pinpoint main attractions and then to add content such as pictures, videos, or descriptions to those attractions. So thinking about trips I decided to use this tech task to start a little research for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas! I decided to locate the hotel that we will be staying at and then three of the the things that I am the most excited for. I will embed the map below as well as a link to it and you can check out some of the things I’m looking forward too.

Or you can look at it here

Working with google maps really got me thinking about how they can be utilized in the classroom and I think that the options are almost endless. During my internship i had students plan a Saskatchewan road trip using a traditional road map. I think it would have been really cool though to have taken this project even farther by then having them create the same trip using google maps. This would have also allowed them to do some comparison between the two types of maps and got them thinking about the uses of technology in our lives.
I also started thinking about how you could use google maps to do a project looking at far away communities and what they look like by using the street view. You could also incorporate aspects of math by having them plan a trip there while looking at aspects of cost, Give them a budget and have them include the information of cost in their descriptions of their stops on their maps. Then they could compare places of travel and decide where they might like to go based on the information information their classmates have gathered on their maps.

These were just some ideas I thought of while playing around with google maps. I would love to hear some of the ideas that other people have come up with for incorporating this great tool in the classroom.