Archive for September, 2008

If I were in charge…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 by Mister A

I would give everyone a pair of sunglasses through which they could send messages to all their friends throughout the world. The sunglasses would have the ability to receive messages from those same friends that were all over the world. We will be discussing that tonight at the Jokaydian UNConference at 9:30pm SLT…10:30pm MST…2:30pm AEST..

Click me for Unconference info

Click me for Unconference info

On a personal note, I am driving to Sweet Grass, MT this morning to pick up 25 computers that have been generously donated to my school by a governmental agency…More on that later…I will be taking Buster. Nothing beats a day with Buster.


Wikis, My PLN, and Connectivism

Posted in Educational, Personal with tags , , on September 21, 2008 by Mister A

I teach a class called math lab for middle school kids who struggle a bit in mathematics. I have five 48 minute periods of seventh graders on even days and five 48 minute periods of eighth graders on odd days. I have created a wiki for each grade that I have been using to manage classroom activity and also to create links to some fun math sites. Feel free to check them out by clicking the respective grade levels above. Any feedback that is given is greatly appreciated. Those two spaces are public but only members can edit the pages. I have not yet let kids set up accounts or create their own pages on these wikis and I do not know if I am going to do that without a very clear purpose. I have created some other spaces that I plan to utilize for specific units…the first being a unit on fantasy football. It is so convenient to be able to edit lessons as I, or my partner, Mr. Swartz are teaching them and also have a copy of what we worked on for absent students.

In our middle school we have a class called homebase that meets four days each week, two of which are club days, for a little less than 25 minutes each day. Homebase time is usually spent doing planned activities like cleaning out lockers and binders. So, after all is said and done, I probably have about an hour each week with my homebase kids to teach them about how to utilize the web for reflective thought and journaling. My homebase wiki is private although I have invited a couple of people from my PLN to comment to the kids and let them know what they think about various journaling my students do. In the past, by the end of each year, Homebase has become somewhat of a boring place for me and students I have had as well. I am attempting to change that with the use of the wiki and letting the kids decide how we will organize our homebase. Part of this has been to get a class pet for our room (check out turtle’s page). Currently we are reflecting upon a challenge proposed by a group to remember Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine shooting. The five components of the challenge can be seen below:

We had an assembly last week about Rachel’s Challenge and I believe that it gave us a great place to start as far as reflective journaling (blogging) went. I have created several wikispaces for utilization in my classroom and I felt I had better let my PLN know what I was doing with my wikis so they could provide me with some suggestions. I had an excellent twitter conversation with Paula White about wikis and critical friends and she actually joined my homebase wiki and we started communicating and discussing some suggestions she had for me. My homebase students who have parent-signed permission slips, have begun identifying goals and role models, and reflecting about Rachel’s challenge. Those without permission slips signed and returned, have started journaling the old fashioned way. Some of the planning, goals, and reflections have been thoughtful and well written, but more importantly, they have shown me aspects of my students’ lives and personalities that I would never have ordinarily been made aware of. I have been given numerous opportunities to begin developing relationships between my students and their peers that I wouldn’t have imagined possible only a year ago.

The final wikispace I am developing is for a new club at East Middle School. It will be private as well as each student has begun creating his or her own web page and getting familiar with the wikispace platform. The wikispace will be used to record the activities of our new computer club including work in in a program called Quest Atlantis. I was trained in QA over the summer and continue to learn about it as I implement it into my practice. See my Quest Atlantis post from earlier in the year, or better yet, see Scott Merrick’s post from earlier in the month. Besides the wiki, and another blog I created, my plan is to utilize a group that Dean Groom created for my students on a ning called Teen Second Classroom. They will have the opportunity on that ning to collaborate and discuss virtual worlds and virtual education with students from the other side of the globe. I am very excited by the possibilities that this school year has presented and if any of the people who read this blog, people whom I consider to be members of my PLN, have any suggestions, criticisms, or evaluations of anything you see me doing, I would gladly welcome them.

On a personal note, I am beginning to realize and understand that I am not writing this blog for any other reason but to improve professionally. This blog gives me a venue to let my PLN know what I am up to in my classroom and in my professional life. People who read this blog know more about me and what I am trying to accomplish in my school than anyone in my school does. I think that is what CONNECTIVISM is all about. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I am connected to some mighty fine teachers from all over the world via twitter, second life, several nings, gtalk, plurk, Skype, and this blog. Mighty fine teachers who I like to call my PLN. I think that is what Connectivism is.

Diigo Updates…

Posted in Educational on September 21, 2008 by Mister A

Lance is coming back. Kevin Mace looks like he is doing some cool web things in his classroom. I didn’t realize it was Talk Like a Pirate Day until it was way too late…Sorry ScottMerrick. Thanks for the YO YO games Dean, computer club will like them I think.  Screen Cast Omagic…oh Boy! another application to learn…and I look for ward to seeing Mr. Kimmi’s presentation someday…Traveling Through the Dark.

Rachel’s Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2008 by Mister A

Our school has embarked on a mission called Rachel’s Challenge. Part of Rachel’s challenge is for students to set goals and begin Journaling. I think that if we are to ask students to do something, we should be willing to do it ourselves. Since I am going to ask students in my homebase to each keep a journal of their year, then I will be doing the same.

Our Homebase Wiki is a perfect place to do that…One of many. Our first journal entry will be to reflect a little about Rachel’s challenge presentation and then to set at least one goal for yourself. I think journaling is a great way to record what is happening in a person’s life and share it with others. The thought occurred to me as I sat through the Rachel’s Challenge presentation what a perfect venue for journaling a wiki would be…and then I joined the ForSpace ning and I think that might be even better. I thought I would make an East Middle School group on the ning but it seems that Emily beat me to it. One thing at a time though. Any way, I have to get on my bike…my first goal…is as follows:

I will become effective at utilizing On-line tools to engage kids and help them become anytime, anywhere learners.

Dean, Lucy, Aussie Students and Greenup2145

Posted in Educational on September 10, 2008 by Mister A

First clip is the kid’s presentations…simply awesome…second clip is pre-ustream(hope Dean doesn’t pull either)…you can hear me in the back discussing a variety of things with Aussie teachers and students from my Kitchen…I think my wife wants me to move the computer out of the kitchen…I watched 6 presentations last night via Ustream and listened to other teachers evaluate and comment on their work thanks to Dean Groom and Lucy Gresser…Who have done some wonderful work on a project called Greenup2145…Teaching kids to be thoughtful, responsible, reflective, thinkers and writers…NICE!

Also, they are teaching me to be a more innovative teacher. They have teachers from outside their classroom, outside their country, evaluating their students and providing them with feedback…extra work for them perhaps…but man, do their students benefit…as does this teacher (learner) in Montana…Thank you Lucy and Dean for setting the standard…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “desktoptest: Ustream.TV Show, Chat Ro…“, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Dean, me talking with aussies…“, posted with vodpod

Permission Slips – Wiki lessons learned

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2008 by Mister A

I wish I would have thought through my wikispaces procedures more thoroughly than I did. There is so much that goes along with a wiki and can be done on one that it was difficult for me to really think about how my permission slip needed to look. I probably should have looked at the Far and Away Project wiki first…jeez…I had a permission slip sitting right there the whole time and forgot about it. It was just for Wikis though, so I contacted my PLN through both Skype and Twitter and I was provided with some wonderful resources from Angela, a Tasmanian who has been very helpful to me over the past couple of months and Dean, a cutting edge edutech from just South of Sydney. I hope to have an AUP ready for all the things students will be doing although I think the wikispaces one we designed or edited for our Far and Away project covered about everything.  I was then able to contact Jokay via gtalk and she helped me arrive at the decision to make my homebase wiki entirely private.  She also helped me pimp a google doc version of the permission slip to meet my specific situation.  Once again my PLN saves the day.  So BEST!

I was feeling a little guilty for not having the AUP all finished and being more prepared to implement some of these tools I have been discovering, and I remembered…oh, yeah, I had to write 17 rationales over the past couple of weeks to finish my master’s program…so it isn’t like I have been lying around on my arse all summer long. Yes, I am a master at something, even if it is in my own mind.

On a personal note, an old friend contacted me via my blog. He googled my name and my blog appeared. He has come a long way from where he was when I met him…thank God, I didn’t screw him up too badly. Very nice to hear from you, Clay. Also, a newer friend, started her own wiki at the middle school where I teach…Nice work, Brenda.