Archive for August, 2008

Diigo Updates – learning to post video – Gopi

Posted in Educational on August 30, 2008 by Mister A

Making Math Work for Under-Achieving Students | Tech Ice Breaker

Gopi is an ESL teacher in this town...his blog is http://savschool.wordpress.com/

On a personal note…here is a video my son made as I made this diigo update post…Unklar put a pic of himself up on twitter this morning…So I guess I will put a vid of myself up…chewing beef jerky…once I figure it out I guess…Flip video and WordPress must not get along… .avi files…Google video saves the day…

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First Day Back

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2008 by Mister A

I always get nervous on the first day back.  I am sitting in my kitchen this morning reflecting about how much I have learned over the past six months with regards to new technologies and personal learning networks.  Mostly Personal Learning Networks.  For without my PLN, I would not have learned anything.  I have always been a person who pretty much keeps to himself and I have never thought of myself as an interpersonal learner until recently.  I read a blog post by Scott Merrick which led me to a blog post by Kevin Jarrett.  Read Kevin’s blog post.  He is one fired up teacher!  He has passion that I sometimes lack.  It is awesome that a teacher in NJ can write a blog post on Sunday, that I can read on Wednesday morning to help me get fired up to teach.  I have become a connected teacher (Learner) because of things I have learned from teachers like Scott, Dean, Angela and Kevin (everytime I list PLN teachers, I want to list everyone).  They, among many others, are examples of what twenty-first century educators need to be doing in their classrooms and in their own professional development to help students better prepare for an uncertain future.

Knowing I have a PLN (just beginning to understand this term) like I do…that I can change, edit, listen to or not listen to, as I see fit, is extremely empowering to me.  It brings back my passion for learning (and teaching)…two terms that maybe are not as different from one another as I once thought…

Was I rambling or does any of this make sense…you two people who read my blog?  On a personal note, I am about to go get on my bike for a little pre-first day back work-out…

Reflecting on a Farm in North Dakota

Posted in Educational, Masters work, Personal on August 16, 2008 by Mister A

This is my final Integrated Essay for my master’s program.  I wrote it on a farm in North Dakota with my wife’s Birth Family.  That is a story in itself.  But this is my final essay for my final class I needed to complete my Master’s in Integrating Technology in the classroom.  This Farm I am at is a great place to reflect…as is this blog I am writing…

 

Final Reflective Essay – Integrating Technology in the Classroom 

             I am on a farm in Southwestern North Dakota in the middle of nowhere. It seems that I often find myself here at significant times in my life. It is my wife’s birth parents’ farm, and it may be one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Especially when all the kids are sleeping and the in-laws have gone to church. The peacefulness I speak of makes this setting wonderful for reflection, which is the purpose of this essay. The biggest reason this is a significant time in my life is that I am completing my master’s degree through Walden University in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. I believe I was a pretty good teacher when I began my studies a little under two years ago. My students showed tremendous growth on standardized tests in the Math Lab I had created and developed, and I believe the environment I created was strict and firm, yet could be fun and entertaining as well. Because of some amazing experiences I have had through Walden University and connections I have made there, I am certain that my practice will continue to help students improve standardized test scores, but more than ever and more importantly, the activities that students engage in my classroom will begin to prepare my students for their future in ways I had not imagined when I began my journey as a scholar practitioner at Walden University. In this essay, I will discuss why this is so.

Two years ago, my teaching partner had been attending Walden University. At that time, he shared with me how convenient on-line work was. I was impressed with the on-line classroom that he showed me he was working on, as well as his explanation of how coursework was completed. At that time it seemed as if most of my teaching colleagues had already earned a post-graduate degree or were working on one. After discussing my situation with several of those teachers, I felt it was a professional responsibility, an obligation, to continue with my education on a formal level. I decided to return to school to work towards earning a Master’s Degree in Middle School Mathematics through Walden University. I was excited after my first two classes, but I felt like I was regurgitating practices that I had already mastered versus learning new ways to become more effective in my classroom. After a great deal of thought and reflection, I decided to change specializations from Middle School Mathematics to Integrating Technology in the Classroom. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a result of that decision, I have increased my effectiveness as a professional educator in numerous ways.

One way that decision made me more effective is in how it has helped me redefine my role as a teacher. We are no longer simply vehicles whose purpose it is to transfer knowledge to young minds. Technology has made the information that students need to be successful more available than ever before. Very often, kids in our classroom understand how to access that information better than their teachers. Teachers, including myself, must commit themselves to creating professional learning communities that focus on the continuous improvement of instruction in light of constantly examining how well our students are doing (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1998). Therefore, the big change in me that has occurred is that I believe there are many more things that I can learn from my students than I was willing to admit. In essence, my attitude has become to no longer teach “at” the kids as much as to learn “with” the kids.

Secondly, my ability as a reflective practitioner has improved dramatically as a result of some of the things I have learned through my experience at Walden University. Reflection is not an easy thing for me to do. However, as a scholar-practitioner, I have begun to appreciate and understand its importance, not only in my professional life but in my personal life as well. The weekly discussions, applications, and reflections helped me decide to begin my own weblog, which can be found at https://teacherman79.wordpress.com/ . I not only posted my discussions to the Walden Classroom, but I also posted several of them to my weblog. I utilize this weblog to reflect upon and express new ideas I hear from others or develop on my own. I also get feedback from a network of teaching colleagues I have developed through connections at Walden or anyone who happens upon my weblog. Blogging is an excellent tool for reflection, communication, providing feedback, and most importantly collaboration.  Had it not been for some connections I made during the previous two classes, this reflection opportunity would not be there for me.

Professional leadership may be one of my largest weaknesses. I am unafraid to try new methods and ideasin my classroom; however, I am very often hesitant to share new findings with colleagues. When I have shared with other teachers, the response I get is usually that they do not have “enough time” to learn all these new-fangled ideas. I believe the best way to lead others is by example. That is why I will start in my classroom first. My hope is that when teachers see what I am doing in my classroom and how excited and motivated the kids are, they will begin to look into Web 2.0 tools for their own classroom. I believe I am a leader in our school as far as read/write web tools go. I am one of the first teachers to begin utilizing wikispaces in our school, possibly our entire district. Also, I plan to utilize a Multi User Virtual Environment in my classroom; again, a first for my school. I believe to be a leader to other teachers, starting projects with my students will be the best way to go. I have already done that with wikispaces and various Google tools. I hope that these tools are effective for my students and they increase their motivation. My new found, on-line network of teachers have all reassured me that is what will happen as I continue to introduce new read/write web tools and strategies to my students.

            A fourth way I have increased my effectiveness in my classroom is how I have learned to utilize research to better inform classroom decisions I make regarding instruction. The primary purpose of action research is to inform the decision making of practitioners who wish to improve their performance (Sagor, 2000, p.20). I have always used information I gather to make informed decisions about what I am teaching in my classroom and how I choose to teach it. Also, I am usually the first to integrate new classroom applications discovered and utilized by innovative teachers throughout the world. Through the Collaborative Action Research, I learned to make the decisions I make in my classroom more informed than ever before. Now when I make decisions regarding instruction in my classroom, I can gather information from a variety of sources. Student and teacher surveys are a tool that I have learned to use that I will begin using on a far more regular basis to help me make decisions about how, what, and where I teach.

Another way that I have increased in my effectiveness relates to how I have learned to collaborate and share with other teachers utilizinginformation communication technologies. I have begun utilizing reflective blogging and social networking tools such as Twitter and Plurk as a means of professional development. If I ever want an opportunity to learn something new professionally, I just need to log in and see what my Twitter colleagues are doing, reading, and attending. I have attended several free on-line workshops this summer because of links that were twittered by my network. I believe the read/write web has changed the way people, not only our students, can learn. I have become passionate about the importance of showing students how web tools can empower them to become self-directed, independent, lifelong learners. I have been collaborating with several colleagues via Skype, Gtalk, Wikispaces, blogs, Google Docs and other networking tools to collaborate on a variety of projects and for a variety of reasons. I am learning and teaching with others, collaborating across great distances to help both my students and their students become better, more effective learners. Collaborating with my new colleagues reinforces for me how powerful these tools are and improves my ability to use them more effectively. I continue to be amazed at how easily teachers from all over the world can collaborate in numerous ways, even though they are thousands of miles away from one another. I am excited about the many new tools I have recently become familiar with and the implications those tools possess for our students. I have shared these resources with other teachers and also given several lessons on how they work to teachers willing to learn. My plan in the future is to help whoever wants any help or assistance in beginning to use any read/write web applications I am familiar with.

Finally, through my collaborative action research project, I learned the importance of utilizing tools to find out what students in my classroom are thinking. It was so valuable to not only observe a big picture of what my students were thinking, but to also hear individual comments about students evaluation of how well things were going in my classroom. I believe the read/write web has changed the way people, not only our students, can learn. I have become passionate about the importance of showing students how web tools can empower them to become self-directed, independent, lifelong learners. I have shared these resources with other teachers and also given several lessons on how they work to teachers willing to learn. My plan in the future is to help whoever wants any help or assistance in beginning to use any read/write web applications I am familiar with.

When I am at homein my kitchen with my two computers and high speed internet, I have no problems completing work and connecting to content and people I need in order to complete an assignment. If the tools and ideas expressed in this essay are to reach fruition, I believe that high speed connection needs to be in as many locations as possible. High speed connection allows people to connect to content, ideas, and people from everywhere. On this farm in North Dakota, the only connection available is dial-up. In order to submit this assignment, I will need to drive 40 miles, find a high-speed connection and a computer with Microsoft Word on it, convert my Openoffice document to Word, and submit my assignment. The Walden classroom would not load properly nor quickly via a dial-up connection, neither would much of my blog, Google Docs, Google mail, or many of the other applications I have discussed. And I believe that places like this can be found all over the world. I think, though many might disagree, that places lacking connection would benefit greatly if they could somehow find access to this valuable, multi-use tool that I am only beginning to learn to use effectively.

In conclusion, many teachers continue to teach the same way their grandparents and great grandparents learned. I am passionate in my belief that this needs to change. We need to show students how to utilize this tool that is at our fingertips for a large part of many days both in our classrooms and in our homes. For 15 years, since the internet was “born,” the majority of what adults have done is READ information. Our kids don’t know a world without the internet. The internet they use at home is the READ/WRITE web. They are used to participating online, whether it is a MySpace page or Messenger to ‘talk’ to each other (Groom, D., 2008). This is how the web has changed, and most kids are already on board with it. However, many adults have little understanding of the importance these tools have for our students’ future. Finally, I hope you are not tired of me expressing my gratitude to the introduction you (Doctor Jacqueline Derby) gave me to Second Life. My experiences there have led me to some discoveries that will totally change the way I am able to deliver instruction to my students. Had it not been for the sentence on the instructor page in our online classroom, “My office is located within Second Life, login and IM Tech Zeno”, I would have never been connected to “My Own Personalized NETWORK of Teachers”.  Also, the learning that has happened for me with regards to Second Life, Twitter, blogging, Skype, the read/write web, virtual education, professional/social networking, and Wikis in the past several months would never have occurred. I have never in my life thought I could learn at such an incredible rate. Thank you again, Doctor Derby, for rekindling my passion not so much for teaching, but for learning.  I hope to be able to hook someone in someday, just as you hooked me. 

On a personal note:  Thank God!  I am finally done…Now I will have far more time to spend with the two goof balls pictured below…

 

 

Learning to Podcast and getting to know some fine teachers

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2008 by Mister A

Last week I was able to have several conversations via Skype. Also, I was lucky enough to be involved in a couple of different podcasts. A couple of weeks ago, after I just finished building a fence with a close teaching friend of mine in my back yard, I saw a twitter from Scott Merrick asking teachers to contact him via Skype and as i was coming in the door, I heard my Skype ring and it was Scott. We had an excellent conversation in his workshop about Web2.0 tools and I got to meet several fine teachers in Nashville, I think it was Nashville, unless Scott was traveling from home.

Scott posted a portion of our conversation on his podcast show Snacks for the Brain Episode #73. It was great fun poking into a workshop in Nashville and meeting some teachers eager to learn about new technologies. Twitter is a great tool for getting teachers connected to one another. It is a lot like having a brain with several teachers in it to help me solve problems, discuss ideas, or just to blow off some steam. I am connected to some fine teachers who are usually available to help me solve a variety of problems. I am also available to help them if I can. Teachers use twitter to share cool links about classroom applications and ideas that are usually on the cutting edge of education and/or technology.

Believe it or not, I had another conversation with a teacher from Phoenix last week and was on his podcast as well. He is newer to podcasting and I met him through a link by a teacher named Durff on Twitter. She is always posting great links for people and this was no exception. The link she shared was for Bobby Norman’s podcast show, The Teachers Life. He asked listeners to join his group in Classroom 2.0, another excellent way to network with teachers. We had a conversation, again, about web2.0 tools that he recorded and placed on his fourth episode. Anyhow, have a listen to either of these fine teachers’ podcasts. They are interesting to listen to and they may have some information that might make you a better teacher…and most importantly, you get to hear My Voice.

On a personal note, I have recently learned a little bit about some peoples tendency to be greedy and ungrateful, two qualities I have seldom seen in teachers I have met on-line. Most are willing to help you as much as you need, asking for little in return. I am grateful for people like , Jokay, Dean, Angela, GnuChris, Jude, Al, and Scott among others. I have learned more in the last four months than I ever thought possible due to these great teachers’ generosity. So, thanks to them…

Final Discussion Response for Walden – finally…

Posted in Educational, Personal with tags , , , on August 9, 2008 by Mister A

In my final week of my final class of my masters program, the assignment has been to discuss and explore our goals with a trusted colleague. We were to limit our discussion to one goal and choose someone that we trusted to get feedback from. Since those darned Aussies are always sleeping, I decided to explore my goal with Janine.

The goal that I shared with Janine Defuria, a Walden Colleague, was, “I will utilize wikispaces in each of my classrooms in the coming year. I will design a wikispace for 7th graders and one for 8th graders.”

Janine and I have collaborated on a few projects in the past couple of classes and we have developed a pretty good working relationship I think. I appreciate the feedback she has given me and I believe she has appreciated the feedback I have given her. We have explored several new web2.0 tools together including Skype and Google docs. We used both of those to collaborate on this discussion question. It is fascinating to me that two teachers, one in Philadelphia, the other in Great Falls, Montana, can have a conversation about a document they are both editing at the same time when they are thousands of miles away from each other (will this ever get less fascinating). She was an excellent choice for this meeting because I believe that she is very passionate about the importance that read/write web technologies have in the lives of our students.

The key question that I came up with as a result of our collaboration and discussion was “How am i going to utilize various wiki tools to make this application an effective tool for the curricular area of mathematics, and not just another bell or whistle?”

Janine talked about reflection and Project Based Learning. We both thought those would be excellent ways to get the kids going on the classroom Wikispaces. Janine mentioned that i may need to make a schedule and work on staying on task as i have a habit of getting sidetracked at times.

1. Search for Projects on the PBL website in the math curricular area.
2. Contact and set up a meeting with a PBL expert.
3. Manage and prioritize time by creating a schedule or calendar (yeah, right).

Janine has been good for me with regards to staying on task. Again the fact that someone 1000 miles from me can pull me back on task is so cool to me. I am glad we are making this connection. It is easier than ever before for teachers to connect to one another across great distances. I believe networking is key to effective twenty-first century learning.

On a personal note, our new dog Buster, is chewing everything in our house to bits…We are trying cure him of it…but I guess puppies like to chew things…Rawhide seems to keep him busy for a while…any suggestions would be greatly appreciated…

How will knowledge of all all these different web2.0 tools help our students?

Posted in Educational, Personal on August 7, 2008 by Mister A

I was messing around with some tools today and I found a tool called PING.FM. It allows me to post to Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, WordPress, Blogspot, and several other web 2.0 tools. I asked the question that is in the title of this blog post…Basically how will these tools help our students…and the answer is that they allow us/them to connect on a global level to what appears to me, to be some very fine people/teachers…still unbelievable how connected I am becoming to some very fine teachers.

Below is a list of posts that I did from Ping that went to Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Blogspot, and WordPress with one post.

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Was that poor grammar? and am i getting annoying to people who already understand all this stuff…sorry if I am. going on a bike ride now

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2008 by teacherman79

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Will us learning skyping pinging tweeting plurking blogging facebooking wikiing qiking googledocking podcasting…help our students?

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Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2008 by teacherman79

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okay…hopefully this time it will work…don’t post to my blog this time ping

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Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2008 by teacherman79

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hoping ping won’t do a blog post to blogs this time and just go to twitter and plurk…experimenting is fun…learning…like chocolate

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Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2008 by teacherman79

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I wish I could receive everything in one place too…like an rss feeder…oh I can receive everything in one place…jeez…i am a geek..lol

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Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2008 by teacherman79

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i am trying ping…wonder what the difference between microblogging and status updating is… @bethanyvsmith this is a little confusing

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Tapped In – A virtual environment since 1996 – without Avatars?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 by Mister A

I was given the assignment of looking into a resource called Tapped In recently for work in my Master’s program at Walden University. I met a great teacher there named David Weksler and we had a very nice conversation…He is a greeter there. He shared numerous things with me including the fact that he has been a volunteer there since Tapped In began in 1996. I can see where a place liked Tapped In would definitely benefit teachers. It seemed much like Second Life to me only not as visual. It would be a great place to conduct online PD for a staff.

The form of communication there is text chat. I love text chat because I believe it to be thoughtful discussion. Chats can happen either in real time or asynchronously. I love interacting with teachers online and already I found a resource I may use in my classroom through David. Tapped in has math meetings on a regular basis and their calendar seemed very full of events. This resource gives teachers a safe place to share ideas and bounce things off colleagues of their choosing with less threat than sharing in normal staff settings.

Tapped In gives teachers an opportunity to get involved in an educational community outside the classroom. It offers plenty of chances for volunteer work like the work David shared with me he has been doing for more than 12 years. Welcoming new people to his virtual space gives him plenty of rewards. He meets teachers from all over the world as a volunteer for Tapped In. Everything is becoming Global. We need to be able to bring that “globalness” to our students some how. Tapped in would be a great place for many teachers to start.

I liked Tapped in more than I thought I would because of my experience meeting David. Again, I am amazed that this resource has been there for 12 years and I just now found it. I think my experiences in Second Life made navigating and understanding the purpose behind Tapped In easier. I plan to join Tapped In as soon as I post this discussion response. I think we need to be familiar with as many web 2.0 tools as we possibly can and Tapped In has been around for a long time.