Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Comments at a Class Blog

It all started with a call out to my twitter network the other day.  Can anyone leave comments behind at my class blogs. 
A few of you answered my call and from the bottom of my heart I thank you. 
Russell Montgomery from Western Australia went overboard though.  He commented on everypost that the students had completed.  I am forever in his debt for commenting on over 25 blog posts.  I pointed this out to the students who were amazed that someone would care about what they were writing.  I just told them that people care about what you do.  People enjoy reading about your math journey. 

Since that night the students have become commenting monsters.  My email box is filling up with comments at a rate that I have never seen before.  Some times I am receiving 4 comments a minute.  I shared this with them today.  I did not know what to expect..... tonight the comment barrage continues.  They have left over 65 new comments at the time of this post.  Hey perhaps they get this whole idea of community, of helping each other out.

What else are they doing you might ask.  They are using their cbox on each blog to the max.  Each room seems to have designated a person to be the go to person in the chat box every night.  They are teaching each other what to do and how to complete assignments.  Wow it is only September!!

I am going to push their comments to be more than just a congratulations on completing a  post and giving formatting advise.  I want them to start having conversations on line.  Ask questions of the person who is posting and to push the conversation of learning further.  If they can comment they can conversee

A final note tonight before I create the assessment for tomorrow is that the students from last year are starting to blog in grade 9.  The first 2 scribe posts are up for one of the grade 9 rooms and are really good.  Their teacher is seeing the power of the blog, chatbox and  commenting.  Each of the posts have numerous comments, but not as many as what my 8's are doing.  Wow Wow and Wow.  It is going to be a tremendous year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What does this say about teaching?

A few weeks ago I watched this video as it was making the twitter rounds. What does it say about teaching and your pedagogy?

Do you give students the answer, do you push them in the right direction or do you just let them struggle.  Just thinking.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A post is a post

I was looking somewhere or listening somewhere that a post is about 3 paragraphs.  I will do my best to do at least one weekly post about life at the blog.

I am receiving 2nd year bloggers this year.  Only the new students do not have google accounts.  Boy this has sure sped things along.  Anyone out blogging and the younger students are not I recommend getting them started and giving them the google account.  Students this year will use Google Docs and Blogger extensively in Language Arts and Math. 

I am also pleased to announce that the Grade 8's that I had last year will be blogging in Grade 9.  I have convinced one to the teachers to blog and have helped him set up his class.  I will help them get set up but after 3 years of blogging this should be a snap.  I hope that all goes well for the Grade 9's. 

Also on a positive not it looks like the Video Production students are going to have a blog too.  I have convinced the teachers to use a variety of technology to help them showcase their students work online.  I am looking forward to them seeing the potential of the technology to help students learn more from each other and other experts online.  Yeah Progress.

Monday, September 14, 2009

If this does not reinforce what we do....

If this does not get the point out to parents nothing will.  Wow what a great update of Karl's original. I will be using this at Meet the Teacher Night tomorrow.  I will tell you how it goes.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Playing with Pixelpipe

I was playing with my iPhone and pixelpipe. Hmm thought they were going to flickr but they came to the blog. Interesting. The first picture is of Alex at the store with a set of ginger antlers. The second shows Colin explaining the fact that boxes are still the best toys ever.

The Great Movie Project Year 2

Last year all Grade 8 students chose groups and created student movies. 
the project was based on the student videos created at Maybry School in Georgia.  The students  chose the topics, they did this work on their time and it was a success. It is time to reflect on the successes and failures of that project.  Why you ask? Simply because it is about to begin again and changes and tweeks will be made from our experiences last year.

Things that worked
  • Topics The Students really liked the wide variety of topics available.  The whole idea of the project was to have students become aware of issues in the world and locally that were important to them.  Once they found a topic that was interesting to them they had to try to "Make a Difference". 
  • Student Presentations To start the project off we had the students prepare presentations for the rest of the school.  They were to give presentations about a variety of charities that the grade 8 students and the student council had chosen to take donations for.  All the 8's made posters and pamphlets talking about the charities and one group of students from each of the 4 rooms made presentations to the rest of the school.

816 Charity
View more documents from spmath.

  • Google Documents The ability for students to work at home and collaborate on the same document was brilliant.  Each group created a Google Presentation and each group member took control of different slides.  They also invited their homeroom teacher and myself to the presentation so we could see progress and add our 2 cents to the mix.  If there is one thing that I would suggest to anyone doing a project like this is to build in these collaborative tools.  The kids were more productive because they could participate with each other at home at the same time. We pushed the limits of collaboration when we created 2 Google presentations as notetaking devices for a movie on Child Labour we had been watching.  Over 30 kids were collaborating at one time in the lab.  Google Docs is a must for any teacher

  •  Pay it Forward Over the Christmas break we expected the students to do an activity that was similar in nature to the movie Pay It Forward. Students were expected to do a random act of kindness over the break.  They had to write about it at their blog.
  • Awards Presentation Having the students chose winners was motivating for the students.  As teachers we decided on the 6 movies that would be in the award categories but the students decided who won the "prize".  It gave them ownership over the finished project.
Things that need to change
  • timing We started this project before Christmas last year.  The goal was to have the project done before our Student Led Conference in April.  That did not materialize.  Movies were not done until the beginning of June.  To allow for speedier editing and to allow students to complete the movies on time this year the team has booked a pod of laptops from the division.  During February to April this year the students will have a set of laptops and other equipment to complete the primary production on their movies.
  • more time for editing You could really see the lack of editing on some of the videos. The students just did one draft and did not spell check, edit pictures and well..... just slapped something together.  This year the students will spend more time of editing and will be taught more techniques about successful movie making. 
  • post a first draft and a final production More student evaluation and feedback is needed.  We will use your youtube channel to put up the drafts of the movies and elicit feedback.  Based on the feedback students will be able to improve their movies.
  • music Students often chose music that was non CC.  This caused many problems.  Audio tracks were wiped by Youtube when their spiders determined that copy write had been broken.  This year I will find sites where you are able to use CC sanctioned music.  Less Itunes more ambient sound to get the idea across.
  • Teamwork  A different goal of this project was to bring my other team members into the blogging "read write web" universe.  This met with limited success.  I seemed to be the go to guy all the time.  Most of my other team members seemed reluctant to use these tools and learn how they could transform their teaching at the same time.  It was not a total loss though.  Two team members are game to try this again and students and teachers will once again be making movies at Sargent Park School.

If you are looking to try a project like this please contact me  or use these helpful links:
  1. Sargent Park Mathzone The grade 8 blog hub where instructions for the project were given.  This link houses all posts with the label 2minutes.
  2. Make it Interesting My personal blog where reflections on the project are housed.  This is the link with 2minutes attached to it.
  3. Sargent Park Wiki One of my school sites where the project was hosted.  It is not add free anymore so the information will be moving soon.
  4. Maybry Online The inspiration to get the whole project. Met Dr. Tyson at a PD event and from there a kernel grew into a whale of an idea.
  5. 50 Ways to tell a story Simply one of the best sites explaining the different ways to use the web to tell a story.  A must for storytellers.