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Excitement… January 27, 2009

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As I sit here in my classroom I can feel the excitement building for term two of the 2008-2009 year.  Part of this excitement is this class, but also a couple of ideas that I have been kicking around in my head for technology use.  One of the subjects that I will be picking up this term is Work Experience.  Since I have not taught this before I naturally hit up some previous teachers for ideas/notes, heck anything I could get my hands on.  One of them mentioned that students did weekly journal reflections on their work placement.  He mentioned one of the problems with this was the students forgetting to drop off the blogs the week after their placement (when they came back to Carpenter for their other classes).

So with my mind racing I wonder if blogs could be an answer to this?  A good majority of students have access to computers at home (judging by my past term’s classes) or else have access here at school.  They are rather simple to use, easy to set up, and even on dial up they don’t take a lot of time to load.

The best that can happen is that it succeeds and the worst that can happen is it fails and I go back to the drawing board.  I do see some pluses though.  Firstly a lot of students are comfortable with computers and prefer to work on them instead of handing in a written assignment.  Secondly this could be a way to keep in contact with them when they are not in front of me during their work placement (sounds like 2.0 to me).  Thirdly I could monitor these journals weekly with Google Reader.  This would be a bonus as I can see and monitor when they post and if they are doing so weekly.

Will this work?  Who knows?  Regardless it should be a fun learning experience.

A Connected Student… January 26, 2009

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I just finished watching “A Connected Student” on You Tube and I found it very exciting and truthful as it captures what I think many students today encompass.  I was just yesterday saying to Johnny Mac on a drive down to Lloydminister how I found it interesting how people “communicate” via the social networking site Facebook.  A lot of youth seem to update their lives daily with pics, updates, movies, quizzes, etc.  The “older” generation seems to update it with less frequency.  Perhaps we like the more tried and true forms of communication more.  How many times have you heard colleagues and friends our age or older complain about the complexity of texting and how they would rather simply phone someone.

I had an English teacher back in high school and later on as my supervisor for my teaching degree once tell me that teaching involved 5% knowledge and 95% communicator/entertainer.  He espoused trying to connect with his students on their level and this has always stuck with me.  I do try and communicate on their level (bridging the generational gap that seems to be inherent) with whatever tools I have at my advantage.  Yes I tell the students I have a Wii and an X-Box (old school one).  I do text, I have an mp3 player, and I have ripped music (legally) as well as DVDs.  This to me allows me to communicate on another level with them, making me seem less out of their loop.  However am I as well versed as they are?  No!  I am just a neophyte in their eyes but I believe in trying to communicate with them I am more “human”.  If you just take a moment see where technology has come into our culture; read this paragraph again and see how many words have emerged and taken a whole new context with the advent of computers.

Now how does this relate to the teacher? Are we obsolete with students being able to get information readily in this day and age?  No.  I think teachers are at an exciting time to be able to help students with technology.  I understand that many of us are not as readily comfortable with technology and how to use it, but that does not mean we cannot influence students’ use of it.  As the video points out, do students have the capacity to understand how best to use and evaluate technology?  Do they understand a “good” informational website from a “bad” one?  Do they know some of the legal issues with information?  Etc.  Teachers can pass these skills along to assist students in making smart choices with how best and evaluate emerging technologies.  Teachers will never become obsolete…we simply adapt to the information we teach and how we teach it.  However where do we get the time to adapt?  Within a teacher’s day do we have the time to do this in an ever-increasing workload?

A problem solved… January 25, 2009

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In my Law 30 class one of the main problems that has always dogged my major assignment (the Law Newspaper Project) within the class is the group work.  Specifically it has been in the writing component where two or more students are working together to get the assignment done.  Often times group members have a hard time transferring word documents to one another due to various reasons, blocked email accounts, lack of jump drives or something else similar, and in my copying and pasting from my account long and tedious.  As Alec showed us Google Docs I thought that maybe this might be the solution.  The idea of having students have the ability to work closer together and have the ability to share their thoughts and work together I hope reflects in a better product (please please please) and a better form of group management.  I can hardly wait for the next term and trying this suggestion of Google Docs to see if this might be a way that technology solves this problem.  I guess we will just have to wait and see.