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I am moving over to Blogger…

September 6, 2010

I’ve decided to move the blog to Blogger because I use Google for just about everything else.  My new blog site is…

See you there:)


Finally…some perspective!

May 27, 2010

I just finished watching a re-broadcast of  a wonderful CBC Documentary entitled Hyper Parents and Coddled Kids. Given all of the “problems” I have been experiencing this semester and over the past few years, this documentary explained my current dilemma in a very succinct manner.  The children we  are teaching are simply by-products of parenting run a mock!  Everyone should watch this documentary and ask themselves whether or not they want to be part of the solution or continue to perpetuate the problem.

As a teacher, I feel the need for a major reform in the way we deal with these “entitled” students and as a parent I want to not get caught in the trap that most of today’s parent’s seem to be ensnared in.  Either way, I encourage everyone to watch this and form their own opinion.

It’s Been A While…

May 21, 2010

I haven’t posted for several months mainly because I have been having a really tough semester.  I’ve been teaching for 13 years now and I am getting very frustrated with the degradation of our system and the toll it is taking on both teachers and students.

Things like grade inflation, no late penalties, students skipping class with no penalty, students not handing in assignments or missing tests with no penalty are all adding to and fueling this general sense of entitlement that is pervasive in today’s high school.

Another MAJOR problem is a noticeable lack of motivation and effort on the part of most senior students.  I have never had an academic year worse than this  one in terms of student apathy.  I try to make my classes interesting and dynamic mainly through the use of technology, however, it almost seems like it is now not enough.  These students seem to need more and more stimulation in order for us to gain their attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem dealing with this current “learning” environment.  I have a huge problem with how this will be affecting our society at large in the near future.  I really believe that we need a paradigm shift in public education that moves us away from this model of “factory education” and towards a student centered project-based learning approach.  In order for this to happen, we need to spend more efficiently (not more) on education AND we need to make ties with local businesses so that we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that relate to real world careers.

I would not hold my breath for this to happen because the current education system is so fraught with bureaucracy that any attempt to make any wholesale changes is simply futile.  Our only hope is that the public begins to demand change and votes accordingly during any upcoming provincial election.  Once again, I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Google Apps Update

December 22, 2009

I have been using Google Apps (my own version anyway) for the whole semester thus far and I would have to say that it has been an overwhelming success.  My students are becoming more comfortable collaborating with one another online and I am becoming more comfortable with assessing their collaborative endeavors.  I can totally envision a time, in the not too distant future, whereby everything I do will be done in the “cloud” so to speak.   Since I was just approved to teach an online course starting next September, I think I may use that as an opportunity to test out the real power of Google Apps and bring Google Wave into it as well.  I’m sure I will be posting regularly next fall with updates on this new chapter of my quest to incorporate more ICT into public education.

On another note, I recently completed a PD in-service for some fellow teachers (about 100 or so) on how to use Google Apps effectively in the classroom.  I was amazed at the positive response I received because it proved to me that people really do want to move forward with their teaching.  Unfortunately, most teachers do not like to teach themselves about new technology and require more hands-on training (my next challenge).  I just can’t stop thinking that if we all just embrace “cloud” computing for what it is worth the result will be collaborative education beyond our wildest expectations.

Anyhow, I just wanted to update some of you on how it was going with my Google Apps experiment.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Drive One 4UR School

November 16, 2009

Recently, an opportunity came my way and I thought I’d share it with you.  Ford of Canada wanted to pilot a successful program they had run in the US here in Canada and I was lucky enough to get a crack at it.  The concept was a simple one. Ford would set us up with local dealers who would bring their vehicles to our school on a set date.  We, in turn, would solicit members of the community to test drive the vehicles and in return Ford would give us $20 per test drive to a maximum of $6000 or 300 test drives.

I had planned on running a fundraiser to help our schools new robotics team anyhow, so this seemed like a perfect fit.  And so, the Drive One 4UR School Event was in play.

I decided to have my grade 12 management class run the fundraiser.  The students were quite enthusiastic about the entire thing and we had to plan the entire event in about 3 weeks.  We decided to use the Internet to spread the word about our event.  We used Facebook and Twitter to promote the event and we used Google Docs to help organize the planning of the event.  The students were broken up into teams with different responsibilities and each team had a Google Doc which they shared with the class to update us on their progress.  We also set up a Google Spreadsheet and shared it with anyone who had been invited to our event via Facebook.  People were able to pre-book their test drives by vehicle online and many did so with great enthusiasm.

To make a long story short, we had a very successful day.  The weather was beautiful (On November 7th believe it or not) and we actually managed to get just OVER 300 test drives.  In fact, we were informed that no other school in Canada had done as many test drives thus far.  As such, our robotics team is looking at receiving a great windfall thanks to some hard work on the part of the students and the philanthropic efforts of Ford of Canada.

It is without a doubt that we could not have achieved our goal without the use of the Internet.

The Great GOOGLE Experiment

September 28, 2009

Well, I’ve finally moved all of my classes completely over to Google this semester.  I now have a teacher website that was created using Google Sites.  Within this site, I have set up each of my classes with a Google Group for current events discussions and a Google Calendar to record homework, etc. So far, the students have embraced this change to a “paperless” classroom with great enthusiasm.  For me, however, it is still not enough.  I envision a classroom whereby the students engage in meaningful learning using technology on a daily basis.

As such, I have decided to try to use Google Apps for all of my classroom projects this semester.  The students will, depending on the class, be assigned to groups.  These groups will in turn be responsible for working on various projects using either Google Docs or Google Presentations.  The beauty of this concept is that students will be able to collaborate with one another on projects remotely from their own homes.  Each group member can contribute to the project on their own time and if the group members need to consult with one another, then they can get together using Google Talk.  As a teacher, I can monitor group progress at any time and I can also monitor the contributions (or lack thereof) of each member.

I should note that I have tried to engage the students with similar projects in the past with mixed success. In this case, however, I feel the collaborative potential offered by Google Apps will bear fruit and this form of collaborative learning will become the norm in my classroom.  I am quite interested in the project-based learning approach to education and this experiment will serve as a precursor to eventually revamping my courses to include true project based learning in the future.

Stay tuned for some updates in the near future…

Ladies and Gentlemen, iMac has entered the building

September 15, 2009

Well, I finally bought a Mac.  My laptop died and was too costly to fix so we decided to get the family a brand new 24″ iMAC all-in-one desktop.  All I can say is WOW!!!

My iMac

I cannot believe how intuitive this thing is. It is so easy to use that sometimes I find myself looking for a more difficult manner in which to accomplish a specific task.  All of this beauty and functionality comes at a price (about 300-400 more than a PC-based all-in-one) but it is worth it to me for my children to be able grow up with a Mac in the house.

Right now, I am in the process of setting it up with Parallels which will allow me to use Windows if I need it but I can see a day in the not too distant future where I never use windows again!  Each day, I am finding new features that literally leave me wondering why I have been suffering with PC’s all these years.

Stay tuned for more updates!