Thursday, April 29, 2010

Conference - TCDSB AICT

Supporting the digital Citizen 2010 Conference

Recently I attended the technology conference: "Supporting the Digital Citizen". This is my second year in attendance. I do agree that today technology offers a wealth of opportunity for learning. Everyone is drawn to the digital world in one form or another; no one is immune. It is important that educators reflect on ways to enhance their curriculum through the use of technology because it is unavoidable so it is “better to join the party than to ignore it.”

The Keynote speaker Dr. Tim Tyson spoke of his experiences with technology. Although what he spoke about was not new to me, I viewed him as a motivational speaker; I was encouraged that what I am doing in the classroom is good and not useless. That the ways I am using cameras, computers and video cameras in my classroom are technologies that in some shape or form, are maximizing interest and achievement. His speech reinforced my resolve to continue what I am doing and to continue to empower my students to choose to learn. Using some form of technology as an alternative to handwritten assignments would be considered, “differentiated instruction”.

The students that I teach go forward with tools and skills that they did not have prior to entering my class. Yet, I always felt that I could do more but did not know how to realize what I wished to do. But once I attended the break out session at the conference, I got an idea to further help students create in an environment other than my classroom. I attended “Creating a Digital Diary”. At this session I learned about the role of a Tech Crew. Simply put, they are a group of students that are given the ability to show interest in some aspect of technology and to also be mentors to other students. Learning new software, filming and editing are some examples of what these students would be responsible for. Most importantly, they would assist me with setting up equipment when other teachers require it.

Will I want to undertake such a project? Yes. I wish to be a small factor in helping to prepare students for the future demands of the workforce. This small group of students would definitely be able to mentor students within their own classrooms and such a system would cascade knowledge to more than a small group of students within a few classrooms. The school community would benefit.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Smart Board Workshop

I find technology interesting: A reflection on a Smart Board WorkshopJ

In the last several years I have attended various workshops to lean how to use certain programs, technology or gain new ideas in order to apply them in the classroom. I certainly found the many ideas and websites I gained from attending these workshops very beneficial; I certainly do apply them in my class. These ideas have evolved and become lessons I created and I am proud of them. One thing that I have certainly learned, however, is that you can attend as many workshops as humanly possible but if you don’t actively apply or practice what you have learned, can be useless.

I ponder this because I recently organized, hosted and assisted a Smart Board workshop for other teachers. It was interesting assisting other adults on learning how to use the Smart Board. Adults are definitely not as adventurous as children. Children will, as one would say, jump into the fire, and try. At this workshop, the adults, but most specifically teachers, were treading very carefully probably fearing that the Smart Board would probably combust. Many questions and theories were brought forth just before each touch of the board occurred. “What if…? What if…?” But they were all good questions. I held my breath each time…..I smiled and spurred them on with gentleness. Who said that only children need encouragement, so do adults. Some hesitated, not convinced that something positive will happen, up until they realized that the Board won’t break. As a matter of fact, their confidence level increased with every swipe of the Board. I no longer had to hold onto the Board for fear that it would tip over because they were practically punching the Board to make it write! Yeah, but it got better. So the workshop continued throughout the day in such a manner and I was proud of them. Not because they attended the workshop but because this group of teachers are all innovative and are willing to learn something that was not in their comfort zone. I found that after the workshop, although I am positive they felt overwhelmed; they were left with a feeling of contentment. It was satisfaction because the teachers learned something and felt empowered that their next lesson would be amazing! I hope this is the case.

I am convinced that the teachers will have left with a knowledge they did not initially have. They were given the tools to begin using the Smart Board, however, as I mentioned above, you must practice and apply what is learned otherwise there will always be a hesitation in using technology in the classroom.


Youtube downloader

Youtube downloader is a free software that everyone can download. It allows one to convert videos videos for Ipod, Iphone, PSP, Cell Phone, Windows Media, XVid and MP3

This site has a publisher’s description of software and comments and ratings from people who have used this software in order to give prospective downloaders a chance to feel at ease about using software.

I found this site as a link from BienneSoft ( This site guarantees the Youtube downloader is free of malware, spyware, viruses, Trojans and backdoors.


Grade 11 Students Shine!

St. Basil's Night to Shine

Lights! Camera! Action! That was the atmosphere at the third annual presentation of Digital 2010; a showcase of student short films produced by the Communication Technology students from St. Basil's the Great College School and shown at the Yorkdale Cinemas.

The audience was treated to a fusion of works. Not only did the students shoot commercials to promote certain products, but they also used the documentary format as a vehicle to engage themselves into exploring ideas and producing an insightful series of storytelling.

Adolescence is at times difficult. Among all the changes happening to them, teenagers often have a difficult time expressing themselves and communicating to others. Filming short docs such as the ones presented, empowers the students and gives them the means to express their ideas and to take a project from beginning to end. Filming, also builds on their creativity and analytical skills while developing social skills. In other words, filmmaking involves a myriad of abilities from initial idea to final product.

Creating short docs is something that can be used across the curriculum and something that can accommodate any learning style. If started early enough perhaps in elementary school, by the time they reach high school, students may discover some hidden talent in writing, directing, editing, filming or producing.

In all, it was an enjoyable evening and something I would share and try to accomplish with my own classes. The pride shown by the students in their work and dedication was evidenced by the applause and cheers. It was their night to shine.

Kudos to Mr. Anthony Perotta and his crew at St. Basil’s.

Tina D.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Academic ICT Conference 2010

I found the TCDSB AICT Conference to be a very insightful look into how we as teachers can engage our students in the classroom using today's ever changing technological advances. Anyone who attended the conference will no doubt agree that using technology in the classroom will assist our students using an avenue that they are accustomed to. During Ann Perron's opening remarks she mentioned that about 90% of TCDSB students have access to the internet at home. I have to say that I was very surprised by this figure, and imagined that it would be much less. Students are exposed to technology in the home and as a result, school communities need to keep up with this technology not only to engage their students, but to help prepare them to meet the demands of the workforce they will one day occupy. Dr. Tim Tyson's keynote address made it sound rather simple to do this. His practical examples of integrating technology into the classroom were definitely not at all far fetched. All they require is an open-minded teacher who is willing to try something new, and a few IPods or cell phones. It will definitely be interesting to see whether or not this type of teaching is something that will become more prevalent within the TCDSB. I know from my own teaching experience, time is something that I definitely never seem to have enough of. Teaching the vast amount of curriculum would definitely be made easier if teachers could deliver their lessons via podcasts, especially in the senior grades. I am a little skeptical about how this idea would go over in primary classes, but think it is definitely worth exploring further. I know in my own class at the moment I have a number of students who show up late or have been away for extended periods of time. Having my lessons available as a podcast would mean that I could direct my students as well as their parents to my lessons very easily and continue delivering my daily classroom lessons. Instead of repeating important information to those students who missed the lesson I would then free up more time to answer student questions and offer more individual help to those who need it which is what teaching is all about.

I also found the second portion of AICT Conference I attended (Making Meaning of Digital Texts) to be very informative. Heather Mullins did a great job of presenting a wealth of information on the topic in a very short period of time. She really emphasized the importance of teaching our students how to be "digitally literate" and gave a number of useful strategies to use in the classroom in order to assist our students with skill. One activity that I particularly liked and plan to use in my own classroom involves having students put together a computer screen with all the various components (i.e. task bar). Not only does this help students learn to navigate their way around what they say when they use the internet, it assists teachers in deciphering who knows what and guides them as to where their next steps should be. After all, if we want our students to be "digitally literate" we must not assume that they are going to arrive in our classrooms with these skills. We must teach them!

The Digital Citizen

Interesting presentation and still running in my mind as if I have just finished watching
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Two different worlds; the real world vs. digital world of iFairies,
but no longer a dichotomy. Oberon from fairyland anoints teachers' eyelids with magic iPotion, and makes
them believe in love at first sight.
Since majority of students already function in their digital reality and develop their reading and writing skills on the internet, teachers indeed should follow and open their minds to blogging and podcasting as an alternative to pen and paper.
However, ridding of marks, rubrics, essay formats and replacing them unanimously with unspecified assessment on line seems quite farfetched when most of the teachers live in the trenches struggling to meet curriculum and fulfill parents' high expectations for final marks.
Media projects have already become an inseparable part of Ontario curriculum and combined with evaluation based on four categories can be both entertaining and educating.
I have started my adventure on line by asking Grade 9 students to create just one comic strip for each unit . Plot development for a short story read and discussed in class, scene adaptation in eight panels based on Shakespeare's comedy, Tom Finder character review in three panels; just one step at a time. Senior classes have just submitted The Kite Runner project created in movie maker program, but next semester they will be podcasting!
All you need is a little iMagic.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

LunaPic Online Photo Editor

You must go to this website ... have your pictures ready and play
with them on this site. Can you say "FUN" - wow!

Web 2.0 Exploration

Go here and as Michele likes to say, "muck around" ... great sites to explore and get hooked on.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reversing the title gives me a new Blog ... Cool

Do you know this lady? What a good Blog ... lots of interesting stuff.
Have you seen her blog?
I actually ended up at her blog before yours because I reversed the words in your title.


Cyber Safety.....

I was reading this article; from the New York Times and they made reference to a teacher using a website put out by Common Sense Media, to teach his students about using the internet. What I liked best about it is that it doesn't just talk out the 'dark underworld' of the internet out there, it also mentions kids' use of social network sites and how what they put out there could come back to haunt them. The video is straightforward and to the point and might be a real eye-opener for some kids in the junior grades.