Sunday, April 22, 2012

A flipped classroom

Before I begin this post, I'd just like to say that this week I was assigned to watch a video entitled "Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education".  What I find incredibly ironic is that about a month ago, I borrowed an Ipad from our board office to play with and when I went to school, I asked all the kids if they knew of a apple app which they use on a regular basis which helps them with school.  One of my students said that I desperately needed to download Khan Academy as it has lots of math videos which teach the concepts online.  So one weekend, I decided to google the website and I came across a video explaining Salman Khan's vision about sending the students home to learn the subject and then having them practise in class with their peers.  That video was the one which I am currently assigned to watch.  Fabulous!

Now while I would love to get into detail, my instructor reminded us to keep it brief.  

Something new you picked up from the video

  • That we as teachers can videotape our lessons and have students learn at home at their own pace (and multiple times if needed) 

Something you are wondering about (a question)

  • How much time and effort this actually takes to implement.  Would the board support us in making the time to get this organized (especially in french immersion as it is extremely hard to find resources as it is)?
A connection you are making or something you would like to try

  • I have already implemented in my classroom a system (which is not fully functional yet as this is my first year teaching my current grade) where my students have access to links which can help them practise concepts at home (whether it be in Grammar or Math), or they can watch/look at teachings at their own pace.  What I would love to try, is giving each student in my class a topic to become an expert on, have them make some sort of technological presentation, it be uploaded onto our server which can then be viewed by anyone in our grade to relearn materials taught in class.    

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Here is yet another interesting not to mention amusing tool for students to use in the classroom. The company even has a school account with more appropriate images to use in the comic strips.
Here you can enter your students names and then invent a class code.  The students then log in with the code and find their names.  This enables you to see what they are working on at any time.  Students love this site as they will spend hours creating different avatars for their strips.  It is best to dedicate a period to creating avatars as you will not be able to keep their attention for long if you don't.
It is a very user friendly site and has lots of different things that I can show you but it would make for a really long blog post.  Instead, I will leave you with a comic that I made for my computers class in the hopes that you gain some ideas as to what you can do with this amazing web 2.0 tool!
Also as a point of interest, my students love incorporating this comic in their presentations as it explains the idea in a visual way.  It also helps those shy students get their point across when in front of the class.  I also find that girls love this just as much as boys.  Students in my class always have the variety to present and most times I have at least one student/group using a bitstrip.  

Another positive atribute with the bitstripsforschools account is that only your class can see the comic when it is published.  Students may also save it as a document and print or embed it in a blog to use it (as I did here).  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Teaching the IGeneration

For my computers course, I was to read yet another interesting article about teaching the techy generation.  The article requires a password in order to read which is unfortunately for you readers.

Anyway I will explain it a bit.  This article was explaining how the new generation of children are becoming more and more involved with technology.  How we (older generations) view technology as an aid in our daily lives, these young-ins see it as a constant, having never been without it.  While full of statistical information, the article moves on to say that teachers are using different forms of media in the classroom, but that they should be careful that by providing technology, it should not be solely for "technology's sake".   Older generation teachers, are not quite up to speed with the ever changing mediums and that although they want to relate to the kids, not having the skills nor time to play/search around for apps high in educational value will hinder them from offering useful apps/sites which could help teach the students.

One of the things that I found to be most surprising was that my generation (the net generation 1980-1989) are those who use media the most at 21 hours/day.  I think for the most part, because we were alive when internet just came out and we do know how to live life without constantly needing to be surrounded with media, we appreciate it more.  I also contribute this statistic to our employment and how our generation started the internet and so we know already so much about it and how to use it.  Most jobs use some form or another on an hourly basis and that contributes to our high usage.  I can only speak from experience by watching my mom with technology but the older generations are reluctant to get the grasp of technology because they know that in a couple of days, it will change and they will have to learn something new.  Seeing my mom with a blackberry is hilarious.  First of all, the font is way too small for her eyes.  She squints when she looks at it even after having changed to the largest sized font.  She gets frustrated when she doesn't know what to do next.  She sees all these buttons (on the desktop) and it intimidates her.  When someone writes her (and I admit, I do this to bug her), she can't figure out how to read the message if its not in an email.  Don't get me wrong, a lot of people do not fit into this mould but I would imagine that the vast majority of older generations are hesitant in moving on with the ever changing future.  The younger generations are online all the time but I would probably think that the lessor amount of usage is due to parental controls or extra curricular activities.  If these children had their choice, they would be online a lot more often.

The second thing which surprised me is the encouragement to send students home with homework to prepare for the next class rather than to practice their learning.  I like the idea of sending students home to watch a youtube video because each student will spend a different amount of time to understand the video.  The problem with this is: the parents and the language.  Parents these days sign their kids up in soo many extra curricular activities because they need to be concentrating of something at all times.  This creates a problem for teachers as parents start to call and say that their child didn't have enough time to do the work.  This child then comes in to class already behind and you need to make accommodations for him/her.  The language:  As you know, I teach French Immersion and as I would love to have online resources to send home with my students, they are extremely hard to find thus making my job all that more difficult (I have since made a delicious account to bookmark all the resources which I can find in French although some are in English for the students to use at home to complement their learning.)  The reason this part shocked me was that it seems as though we are moving into a more university way of running a class in that we giving the resources and expecting the students to learn on their own.  Good way if thinking, but are they ready for that yet? I'm not too sure.

Thats all for today!


While wordle is an amazing and creative addition to a presentation, I have trouble seeking the educational value of this site.  A couple months ago, I wanted to see what all the hype was about.  I made myself a wordle to display the conjunctions in French.  I quickly realized that I could only print a 8.5x11 sized sheet of paper showing my nice artistic diagram and that this small sized paper would not look big enough for my classroom walls.  I would then show the students my image on the screen and have them ooohhh and ahhhh for a couple of minutes but then it would be out of sight, out of mind. 
The incredibly cool thing about this site, is that you can mould your words into objects/pictures.  I think it is a cool concept but have lots of trouble assessing how it could be used other than an attractive presentation piece.  I encourage any reader to help me out with ideas as to how we might use wordle in the classroom!
Wordle: Conjonctions
My conjunctions wordle