Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life Long Learner

I have some people who have influenced my teaching as mentors.  The first is Darren Kuropatwa who introduced me to this wonderful world of online learning and PLN's.  The other is Brian Metcalfe.  Brian was a tech mentor in our division.  From my first days teaching elementary classes to my current job of teaching Grade 8 Brian was always learning.

He would be the mentor that would find out new things and SHARE them with the masses.  He created an online and paper newsletter showcasing all that he was learning.  Brian retired a few years ago but....

Brian continues to learn.  He attends every meeting of significance in the province.  He attends conferences routinely and was the reason why I met Dr. Tim Tyson and started the 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Project with the Grade 8's at school.

Brian in retirement learns more everyday then most of the teachers I work with in my division.  Why is that.  Why does a guy who is away from the school setting still want to learn and be part of the mix? Why is he watching K12 Online when the rest of the tech mentors who are still working are not, or are not telling people about it!! You might have to ask Brian Metcalfe over at his blog.  Brian was so kind after my recent presentation.

2minutes spreading our roots
View more presentations from charbeck1. Here is the ustream.

Brian emailed my admin and told them about the presentation and how it was an enjoyable experience.  It is nice to have a fan like Brian.  
 I want to be a life long learner.   Thanks for pushing me to do more and be a better teacher.  We all can learn from Brian

At Home Sick

Drat one of those 1000 kids I am in contact with everyday has infected me with a virus... I am not really super sick but I have lost my voice.  A teacher without a voice is not effective so I stayed home today.

One of the luxuries of having a blog is being connected to your students all the time.  If I need to say something to them outside of school hours there is always a way to do it.

Today I left the sub plans on the class blog.  Here the students could see what was expected of them.  I also was in the Math Help Chat box.  Kids would see in real time me typing away answering questions if they needed help.

I was at home with no voice but in the room as loud as ever using a keyboard.  Cool.  Connectiveness.  I like it:)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why we use Social Media

In my last post I talked about my newest project Sesame Street Video Mashups... We filmed on Friday and the kids are busy creating posts explaining the ideas of Ratio Rate and Proportional Reasoning.

It is amazing how after doing a few weeks of hard work and learning concepts kids need to release some energy.  When I first introduced this project they were excited.  Seeing them sing, make puppets, and create these videos was so exciting.

For many years I have been using these culminating projects to build excitement and bridge into the next unit.  If you are willing to let your students go wild and be creative for a bit you can reap the rewards.  Math is a subject that can be boring a dull.  By infusing it with some fun you can make even the quietest student incredible.

I have one student that amazed me for this project.  Kids had a chance to work with in up to a group of three.  This student chose to work alone.  She is a student who is very bright but never makes eye contact or never volunteers answers in class.  You would not characterize her as a problem child but she is uber-shy. On Friday she absolutely blew my mind.

We entered class and she pulled out these homemade puppets.  She had a homemade background and was ready to film.  I wondered how a quiet student could make a video.  She set up her camera and started to film with these puppets.  The room was a bit noisy so I asked if she wanted to stay for a few minutes after class and film.  I held the camera and she did the rest of the work.  She was loud, clear and her information was terrific.  I was amazed at how well she did in the acting and how excited she was.  Her video reminded me of my childhood watching Sesame Street.

This is why using 21stC tools is so important to students.  They all have a voice and gain confidence in their work.  Kids using keyboards to speak loud, creating movies to show understanding are commonplace in some classrooms.  WE need to let these kids shine.

I am glad that I am challenging myself to use what kids like to bring out their understanding in math in new and different ways.  We are doing Pythagoras next and since they like the video project so much we are going to do a different Video Mashup....

I am sure if you have kids you will recognize the following cartoon, if you have never watched it before you should but I warn you it is addicting... so here is the next big movie production (hey we used Flip cameras and they worked great!!)

Kids love this show. It seems to be a no brainer. So wait till next month when they make their new videos.


The videos are done.  The kids had a hoot and are in the process of writing about ratio, rate and proportion.  The energy level was off the scale and most had the video done on time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Building Audience

Over the past few years I have noticed a growing phenomenon. Kids are getting into commenting.

My students start to comment from the first posts of the year.  I have just had them do a math profile.  How do you see yourself as a math student etc. I asked that they comment and they have.  But how did they get there? I am lucky that the Grade 7 teacher uses blogs too.  Together we create quite a team.  He and I give the Grade seven students the basics and by the time they hit Grade 8 they are ready to really do some spectacular things.

But still how do you get them to comment. At first you entice them with the possibilities of getting marks for commenting.  You need to build a routine for the students to follow.  I follow the "Whose line is it Anyways" approach.  You will get one gazillion marks if you...

The points were just there. They did not mean much. Kids in my classes get marked for blog work. Posts and assignments are one category and comments are another. The students think they are worth "lots" of marks but in reality they are not. It does not matter however.  Soon after the first term is over and they have a routine of reading the blog regularly and have been trained at giving great comments the work other students produce improves.  Kids that get blog post comments create better posts than kids that do not.  All blog posts are being commented on so ALL posts are done better.  Some of the advice in the comments are amazing.  On average posts are receiving 4 comments each.  Some are getting over 10.  After the first term the students do not ask about "comment marks" anymore.  They just leave comments.  When they get to Grade 9 and are in their third year of commenting they are truly an audience of peers who help each other.

Kids are amazing.  Train them and teach them to be a community of learners and they will take themselves places together they could not get to alone. 

I am one lucky teacher... really I am.  You can be too.  Get the kids to comment.  Get them to blog.  You will be glad that you did.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Taking the next step... Sesame Street

I have been lacking innovating ideas as of late.  I am going to start pushing the envelope.  Yesterday on twitter someone sent me a video.

That was not the video I saw but it is what captured my attention.  Kids love Sesame Street.  They all remembered different videos from this show that captured their imagination.

Just like their love of tech students love children's television programming.  So I am going to harness both of these loves.  Their first assignment for me in wrapping up their first unit on Ratio, Rate and Proportional Reasoning is to make a video parody of a Sesame Street Video.  They will choose the video, then redo the lesson substituting their topic for the one that Sesame street chose.

Ernie could buy a ratio or a rate, the Martians could find a proportion or a ratio.  The Genre is set, it must be a Sesame Street video, topic is set it has to be Ratio Rate or Proportions not it is up to the students to create their videos.

I am thinking we will spend one class taking apart the videos and showing the story arc.  We then will substitute our topic into the story line (take out 8 and put in rate).

I will send the students home to choose a video over night. This perhaps will be the hardest thing.  Then they will have a week to create the new storyline, and film the video.  We will post them to the new math youtube channel we are creating.

There now I am doing something different this year.... it is a start.