Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

danah boyd on The Sunday Edition

A couple of weeks ago, I caught a promo for The Sunday Edition on the CBC for an interview with danah boyd.  I missed the interview on the Sunday, but I downloaded the podcast to listen to while running.  What I thought was fantastic about the interview was that she helped illuminate some of the challenges that parents and educators face when dealing with the way young people use digital tools.  

I have felt conflicted as a teacher for some time when working with other teachers or parents to differentiate the difference between real and perceived risks online.  I think that danah did a great job illustrating how the media contributes to a very high perceived risk of online interactions and contrasted it with the many policies that prevent caring adults from interacting with young people in their online spaces.  So, kids at risk, who are often sharing their challenges in online spaces, can’t get the help that they should because their peers don’t know how to help them, and the adults in their lives aren’t in those spaces.

The host, Michael Enright commented on “how sad” it was that people couldn’t find adults in their lives to relate to in person, but acknowledged that it was just as sad that those same caring adults weren’t a part of the online spaces.  Just like good teaching, we need to meet young people where they’re at.  However, I know that I personally am very careful about online interactions with the students in my class.  I’ve made a choice not to “friend” students on social networks, and I’m careful about my public profile, so that students who choose to follow me on Twitter or read my blog find a professional presence.  I wonder if we will come to a time and place in our profession where that changes.

For all teachers, parents, and others who work with young people, I highly recommend listening to the interview and reflecting on how you interact with the young people in your life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Teach Learn Collaborate 04/07/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Explain Everything for the iPad

Explain Everything ($2.99) is an app that I saw featured while attending the Apple Learning Tour.  Similar to ShowMe and Educreations, Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard that allows students to record the screen and audio as they work with it.  I think that this is a terrific way to make their thinking visible.  Where Explain Everything differentiates itself from the other products was the number of ways that it allows teachers and students to export their work so that it could be collected by teachers, and shared with others.   You can export your work in the following ways:
  • Movie to Photo RollExplain Everything Logo
  • Movie to YouTube
  • Movie to E-Mail
  • Movie to DropBox
  • Movie to Evernote
  • Project to E-Mail
  • Project to DropBox
  • Project to Evernote
The reason that I think this is important is that it helps teachers manage student work (i.e. save work to a shared Dropbox folder) and helps student manage their digital footprint.  Instead of having multiple single purpose accounts to work with different apps, students are able to use one account with several apps (i.e.  iThoughts, DocsToGo, and DropVox also work with Dropbox).
You can check out their promo video on YouTube.

Some thoughts on Apple iBooks

Yesterday I had the chance to participate in the Apple Learning Tour and learn about the Apple iBooks Author tool.  Like many Apple products, it is aesthetically pleasing, relatively intuitve to use and simplifies the process of making beautiful interactive textbooks (take a look at E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth for an example).  The workshop was well run, and I think that most participants were successful in using the resources provided to produce at least the beginnings of a textbook.  I think future versions could work on the ability to collaboratively author texts.  For those teachers and students with access to Mac computers (to develop the iBooks) and iPads (to share and read iBooks), I think that iBooks are a great tool for teachers to share resources, notes and activities with students.  Students can produce beautiful books to share their writing and thinking.  

So, iBooks are an incredible tool for those with access to Apple Products.  This is my issue with iBooks.  Yes, iBooks can be published to PDF format to allow them to be shared with students and teachers who don't have access to an iPad, however, this takes away the interactivity and strengths of the iBook, turning it into another paper textbook (or at most - a PDF document with hyperlinks).  In public education, shouldn't we make sure that the resources that we share with students or the community are accessible to all students?  There are a variety of tools, such as YouTube, blogs and wikis that are accessible to students and teachers no matter what kind of hardware they have (iOS, Android, Windows, Apple, Linux, etc.).  I know that Apple is a corporation responsible to its shareholders, and they need to sell devices in order to make money, I can't help but be disappointed that iBook Author only produces books that work on the iPad.  Schools, teachers and students will obviously want to make use of a tool that creates interactive and engaging textbooks, but when it pushes them to buy Apple products (which aren't exactly cheap), I feel uneasy.  

All that said, because the Apple iBook Author tools so easy to use, I can see it as a tool that might be used to supplement resources that have been made available to students across other more open platforms.  For example, if you use a wiki to create an online textbook, you might collate all of those resources into an iBook and make it available to students who have that option.  For teachers and classes who have access to iPads and Macs already, go for it!  I'd just be cautious about moving toward purchasing iPads because we want to use iBooks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Article: Everyone's Trying to Track What You Do on the Web: Here's How to Stop Them

Everyone's Trying to Track What You Do on the Web: Here's How to Stop Them

(Sent from Flipboard)

Sent from mobile device.
Please excuse brevity and errors.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

iPads in the Classroom: Initial Reflections

I wrote the following as an initial attempt on my part to conceptualize the benefits and challenges of using iPads in the elementary classroom.  Although I'm reflecting specifically on iPads in this case, you could insert almost any piece of hardware or software (SmartBoard, netbook, Facebook, etc.) in the place of the iPad.  As I work with more teachers and have the opportunity to observe classroom success, I hope that I can share some of my observations here and develop some good ideas about how to implement iPads in the classroom - particularly when they are not implemented on a 1:1 basis.
In my new role as a Computer Resource Teacher, I'm getting approached by teachers and administrators who are asking questions about how to use iPads to teach students to engage in critical thinking.  As I ponder the question, and how to respond, I'm beginning to clarify my own position with regard to these devices.
First, iPads (or any other technology) can't magically turn students into critical thinkers.  There are a lot of features built in to the iPad which make it fantastic for consuming content, but not necessarily being too critical about it.  It's not too hard to spend a couple of hours clicking through YouTube videos or slingshotting tiny birds at greedy pigs.  I haven't yet seen a "Brain Gym" kind of app, that will teach critical thinking, because it is such an all-encompassing method of thinking.  Teachers, parents, guardians, and other role models remain at the core of developing critical thinking skills.
If the iPad can't teach critical thinking, then how are they connected (or perhaps a better question is how can iPads and critical thinking be connected?)?  Getting students started in critical thinking means engaging them about a topic enough to increase their intrinsic motivation to spend time and energy wanting to find out more about it.   I think that the iPad may have a role to play here. Certainly, the way that the iPad can deliver media and text to students can help engage them and promote curiousity.  New stories, videos, Wikipedia entries, blogs, etc., can all offer diverse starting points for any kind of investigation by students.
Once students have begun to become engaged, they need to use a different set of tools.  When I'm beginning to work on something, I find it very effective to mind map out the background knowledge I have about a topic, evidence for and against, and questions that I think might need to be answered as I work.  Then I need a set of skills to allow me to search out answers, resources, and information to allow me to make some kind of decision.  These skills, teaching students the kind of questions to ask, helping them work effectively to find information, etc. can't be taught by a tool like an iPad, but it may have a role in helping students reflect on their thinking, or giving them oranizers or other tools to guide and record their thinking.
If students really want to think deeply about something, they need to share their thinking to be challenged by others with various levels of expertise on the subject.  Talking with peers and teachers has been a traditional approach, but the iPad does offer a lot in terms of opportunities to connect with others and get feedback.  This is where worries about privacy and security come into play for most teachers.  Teachers who plan to use these devices need to become informed about how they encourage their students to connect with others and what the implications of each tool, app or site that they plan to use.  This is one of the most authentic ways to stimulate critical thinking, but also one of the scariest, for who among us wants to be accused of putting a student at risk of something "inappropriate" online - especially if we don't understand all of the technology ourselves.
Students need opportunities to record their thinking and learning, model it, modify it, get feedback on it, and change it again.  The iPad can be a great tool here with a variety of tools that truly can be individualized to meet the needs of students (I think because they are meant to be used as an individual device, they excel at differentiation, because there are many apps that meet the same set of needs in different ways).  The iPad can be used in a variety of ways to make thinking visibile which is generally the goal of teachers, because we need a way to assess what students have learned.  Here again, we run into some limitations of of hardware/software and our own understanding of how the technology works.  It would be great if everything that a student created, in no matter what application on the iPad could be wirelessly downloaded and synced to a teacher's account.  Unfortunately, this isn't the case.  Moreover, in schools were the iPads are used among various students and classes, there is a need to have evidence produced and recorded, all within a short period of time, before the content on the iPad is erased by the next class using them.  This is a major challenge for schools as they work with these devices and a personal challenge as I try to find tools that allow students to safely and securely save their work to somewhere other than the iPad or share it with a teacher account somehow so that they can get feedback on it, or return to it the next day their class is using the iPads.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Article: Use a Piggy Bank as a Password Escrow Account for Sharing Your Children's Passwords

This is an idea that I think would be worth sharing with parents of older students. I want students to develop a sense of the importance of password security, but I think that parents should have access to those accounts as well. 

Use a Piggy Bank as a Password Escrow Account for Sharing Your Children's Passwords

Monday, January 23, 2012

Video Tutorial: Setting up Categories to Organize Bookmarks in Diigo

I find that Diigo is a powerful tool for me to keep track of resources I find, and also to use resources that other teachers find (click on the popular link after searching your own tags). Although this video is designed for teachers using Diigo with their students, it could also be used among a group of teachers who want to organize bookmarks with common tags.


Sent to you by Monahan via Google Reader:


via TechLearning RSS Feed by tleditor on 1/21/12

This quick tutorial will help you through the steps of organizing bookmarks in Diigo. Watch below or on Youtube . PD Tips courtesy of Atomic Learning


Things you can do from here:


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Good Instruction Activates Prior Knowledge and Uses Authentic Assessment

This is another test share from Google Reader.


Sent to you by Monahan via Google Reader:


via Edutopia RSS by Elena Aguilar on 1/18/12

Blogger Elena Aguilar explains the importance of activating students' prior knowledge and using authentic assessment.


Things you can do from here:


74 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

Just in time for my data management unit!


Sent to you by Scotty via Google Reader:


via by tombarrett on 1/21/12

The Interesting Ways series of resources continue to grow as the community add ideas from the classroom. Below is one of the most popular with over 70 ideas shared by teachers for using Google Forms in a range of different ways.

Make sure that you explore nearly 40 other crowdsourced resource like the one above – you can see the full series of resources on the Interesting Ways page


Things you can do from here:


Article: One Minute Physics: Challenge Your Kids to Ask Big Questions

One Minute Physics: Challenge Your Kids to Ask Big Questions

(Sent from Flipboard)

Sent from my iPad

Essential Tech Tools for NEW and Experienced Educators

What am I introducing to New Teachers as Essentials? While I focus heavily on the TPACK framework during teaching, here are a few of the TECHNOLOGY TOOLS/KNOWLEDGE that my course (s)  includes: In my current role as a Pre-Service Instructor at Brock University, I have small window of opportunity to introduce (and model) to new [...]
Sent with Reeder

Sent from my iPad

An Introduction to Comprehensive Assessment

An Introduction to Comprehensive Assessment: [VIDEO] Performance-based evaluation is a real-world improvement on the artificial measures of paper-and-pencil testing.

Google Digital Literacy Tour

Just testing how this works out.


Sent to you by Scotty via Google Reader:


via iLearn Technology by admin on 1/4/12

What it is:  No matter what subject(s) you teach, digital literacy is something we all need to take the responsibility to expose our students to.  iKeep Safe (one of my favorites for Internet safety with Faux Paw the Techno cat!) teamed up with Google to create a curriculum for educators to teach what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.  The outcome is wonderful, it is designed to be interactive, discussion oriented, and hands-on.  Each separate piece of curriculum (workshop) includes a pdf resource booklet for both educators and students, videos to accompany lessons, and presentations.  The three workshops available are:
  1. Detecting Lies and staying true
  2. Playing and staying safe online
  3. Steering clear of cyber tricks
How to integrate Google Digital Literacy Tour into the classroom:  Google never disappoints, and the Google Digital Literacy Tour is no exception!  These are a great discussion starters for every classroom.  I like this Digital Literacy Tour because it doesn't give a lot of drill and kill type exercises to find out if the student can tell you the "correct" answer.  Instead, it invites conversations and deeper thinking…exactly what is needed for true digital literacy!
The videos and presentations can be used throughout the year (and multiple times throughout the year) to open discussions about online behavior.  Too often educators assume that because students are adept at using technology, that means they know how to properly use that technology.  Students can understand the freedom and benefits that technology brings without knowing how to properly manage that freedom, that is what digital literacy is all about!  It is up to us to help students understand what their digital relationships represent in real life, and how their actions online can affect what they do in real life.
Use the Google Digital Literacy Tour as a conversation starter for the whole class or ask students to break into smaller groups to discuss before they share with the larger group.  If you have some added time for reflection, ask students to write about their own experiences, or reflection, on why digital literacy is important.  Every year I have taught Internet safety, I am amazed by what students tell me they have encountered online!  I am telling you now, no matter what grade you teach, your students have encountered something online that they didn't know what to do with.  Help them navigate that!

Tips: Share these resources with parents.  They often hear reports that emphasize the negative aspects of online behavior and, instead of teaching students how to properly manage their freedom, restrict it all together.  This is okay for the short term but does nothing that is beneficial for students long term!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Digital Literacy Tour in  your classroom!


Things you can do from here: