100 days project blog hop

It’s been three weeks since I completed #the100dayproject where I took a picture or video during a walk and posted them on Instagram (with the hashtag #100daysofwalking). Thousands of other people created their own projects, each one a personal challenge. My project was not as daunting as those who created their own drawings or paintings, but it was certainly a commitment for me. Many of my posts were from late evening when I realized it was almost dark and I still had not been on a walk. It forced me to get outside and at least walk around the block.

Looking back at my posts, the ones I like the most are, predictably, from BC while on vacation and those I took on walks not in my neighbourhood. I was running out of inspiration along the sidewalks near my home. I joked, near the end, that everyone must be tired of all the flower pictures. Fittingly, my last post was of a lone daisy poking through the cedar trees and fence of a catwalk in the neighbourhood.

I had pretty much stopped walking when my dog passed away almost three years ago. Walking by myself was so lonely and I am not organized enough to set up walking dates with friends. So my camera became my walking partner and I knew that I would be able to share my walk later with Instagram friends and 100 days partners. I’m not walking everyday now, but I am walking regularly and no longer feel lonely.

I enjoyed connecting with new people completing their own 100 day project on Instagram. It is amazing what people can do. However, having partners in this project was essential to my success. Without their encouragement and camaraderie, I would not have completed it. They inspired me with their talent and openness and still do.

Please check out their blog posts on the 100 day project below:
Tina Zita at Miss Kit Kat
Debbie Axiak at Debbie Axiak’s Blog
Natalie at Happy Hour Book Club
Jim at Jim’s Music Blog

That was weird


Five Card Story: That was weird

a Five Card Flickr story created by Susan C


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by lesliemb


flickr photo by katerha

We were out to dinner last week at an exclusive restaurant in a prison. Only a first world would offer such a thing. To get there we had to cross the longest bridge in the world with guards at either end. The food was disgusting but we had a great time mocking each other. On the way home however, we drove off the bridge when Madge screamed at the top of her lungs because a spider went up her arm. After swimming to shore we found the last pay phone in existence and called for help. All in all, a very memorable evening.


High fives

I don’t think I’ve ever given a student high fives for completing a worksheet. However, we did lots of celebrating today when my Grade 9 Vocational Science students not only completed their deep space models, but also created an Educreations video podcast that explained the parts of the model and reflected on the challenge.

We started the unit with a brief inquiry on, “What makes a star a star?” (modified from here in the Investigation Pack.)  Each student was given a story and fact sheet about a visiting a specific type of star and they were asked to make note of the star’s characteristics (size, colour, temperature, etc.). After sharing, the group was supposed to make a list of properties of a star. Although the students read and learned about their star, they were reluctant to share with their group, so we completed the activity as a whole class.  Then we looked at a black hole and determined that it was not a star.

Next the students watched a video on the different types of space features, chose one to model and made teams. After researching the characteristics of the space feature in library books and on the internet, they made a sketch of their model and a list of materials needed.

Several periods of model building followed. I found that the students seemed skeptical at first–and more than a little frustrated–and had a hard time envisioning how to create the model. I was worried that they couldn’t do it, but I had read about enough teachers’ experiences with project-based learning to keep moving forward. I showed space videos for about 15 minutes of every class to focus on the features.

When I showed the students the craft materials I bought from the dollar store (glitter, plastic gems, wire mesh, metal scrubbies, sparkly ribbon, pipe cleaners, etc.), I could see the light bulbs going off. I wish I could post all the students’ models, but here is a sampling.

Once the models were finished, the groups answered questions on their model and the creation process, created scripts from their answers, took pictures of the model and put it all together in an Educreations “podcast.”

Pinwheel Galaxy

Life Cycle of a Star

In conversations with students, I was surprised to hear how much the they knew about their feature–the minute details of the big bang, the swirling clouds of gas around a black hole and the deadly gases trapped in the dust and ice of a comet. I saw all the students engaged and on task.

Glitter. It makes everything better!

Letting go of the worksheet–letting the students shine

What does 21st Century learning mean to you? That is the question for our  #peel21st community “blog hop.” Check out my response below then hop on over to someone else’s site listed at the bottom of this post.

A few weeks ago, I overheard one of my vocational students say, “This class drains me.” I knew how she felt. Frankly, I never want to create or mark another worksheet.

Cartoon artist sketch
Photo Credit: Evan via Compfight

Worksheets = control + carrot + stick

I jumped in with both feet when I returned to the classroom this fall in my academic classes—passion projects, inquiries, social media and lots of tech tools. It’s been fun and very challenging. However, I was scared to try student-centred learning with my needier students that are less predictable or motivated.

“Just do it!” I told myself. So we recently started an inquiry on stars followed by learning by creating models of galaxies and other deep-space features. We definitely need to work on community norms and teamwork, but I already see more light in their eyes and smiles on their faces. I’ll never go back to worksheets.

Check out these other #peel21st bloggers:

Jim Cash @cashjim
Greg Pearson @vptechnodork
Phil Young @_PhilYoung
James Nunes @jameseliasnunes
Donald Campbell @libramlad
Ken Dewar @Bestbefore2030
Graham Whisen @grahamwhisen
Sean Coroza @SRCoroza
Lynn Filliter @assessmentgeek
Debbie Axiak @DebbieAxiak
Josh Crozier @Mr_Crozier
Alicia Quennell @AliciaQuennell
Jonathan So @MrSoClassroom
Jim Blackwood @jimmyblackwood
Jason Richea @jrichea
Tina Zita @tina_zita
Sean Broda @MrSeanBroda
Heather Lye @MsHLye
Engy Boutros @mrsboutros
George Couros @gcouros

 

Let’s stop fighting about which LMS is best

Since I am finishing my 3 years in the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher role, I’ve had several people ask me lately which Learning Management System (LMS) I will be using when I go back to the classroom in September. The choices are many–Desire2Learn (D2L), Google Apps for Education (GAFE), Office 365, Edmodo and blogging platforms to name a few. There’s also been a lot of talk about each system in my online network in the last few weeks, mostly due to the OTRK12 conference and Google Summit.

Frankly, I’ve been pretty disappointed in the tone of these online conversations. The tone is: “If you are not using ________, you’re not as smart as me.” Or better yet: “You’re just a sheep.” It doesn’t really matter which system, they all have their evangelists.

Continue reading

A simple tool can make a big impact.

This video (shared by George Couros during his talks in Peel) shows how a simple survey tool was used by a teacher to connect personally with her students. It’s a powerful reminder of how important it is to try to meet the students where they are. Sometimes people and especially today’s “screen”agers will share more online than they will in person. After that inital contact, deeper relationships can be forged.  Continue reading

Serendipity and Sue Waters: Benefits of Being Connected.

A stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information — that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe, we are a part of this flow.

John Borthwick As quoted here.

That’s a quote from 2009 and I don’t think the stream metaphor is big enough anymore. A river? An ocean current? Maybe solar winds? Sorry, I digress into earth science easily… The point is that social media, and especially Twitter, is massive and can be intimidating. That’s probably why only 218 million of the 1 billion registered users of Twitter are active. Continue reading