Monday, October 27, 2008

Working on the Teenage Clock

Some of my kids work strange times and hours. Just like me! I have been using a new hand-in "bin" on my virtual classroom. It is set up so that students can submit their homework via attachment to a folder, providing me with a self assessment. I comment back, and check it off. With each checked off assignment it is moved to the "done" folder and kids read the feedback. It has made my workload with marking so much more manageable, with no cluttersome papers. But, I wish I didn't get all the assignments at the same time.

So perhaps I should let the kids work and turn in work at their own pace. This would mean I wouldn't get 120 assignments in at the same time. This makes me think of some more advantages too...

I could show the kids the whole curriculum, and tell them when the term ends. Then, I tell them to get to work, and be there to provide support.

What about more self-paced learning. To prevent speedy workers from doing poor work, I need to:

1. Provide samples of different qualities of work (just in my first term of the job, so second, third and fourth term will get the benefits of the examples I get from the first term)

2. Provide a minimal amount of acceptable work to shoot for, and tie the quality and quantity of assignments done to grades in a really easy to follow formula (2 required assignments and 1 extension for every section).

3. Create screencasts of my lessons with something like Jing. This allows students to learn at their own pace.

4. Identify the weak students, or students who cannot keep themselves on pace. Teach them to set their own goals and monitor their own progress.

How can I do this? Perhaps I need to set a goal of one screen cast a day for the next two weeks. That will take me to the end of term 1, and get me ready for term 1.

I have never done a self-paced program before, so let's see what happens.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My VoiceThread Presentation

Welcome to my Voicethread Presentaion for CUEBC 2008! In this presentation I will:

1.) Show "What is a voicethread?"

2.) Show a sample voicethread I have created

3.) Demonstrate how it can be used in an elementary classroom (who doesn't love the little yellow drum machine).

4.) Demonstrate how I am currently using VoiceThread at my middle school, with a k-12 teacher package that costs $60.

4.) Offer a great resource for teachers to learn about voicethread

5.) Share my future proposal for VoiceThread's use in Aboriginal Education Programs.

I hope you like my presentation, and please feel free to leave me a comment on my blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Utterly Useless Feedback

There is a site on the Internet that allows you to "rate" your teacher anonymously. I am happy that I have gotten a good rating from my old school (3 votes - all good news), but really how much does this help people? Rate Your Teacher has a system of flagging comments for inappropriate or un-helpful content, but it leaves some or all flagged comments up for others to read.

If a student has feedback, I would be more than willing to listen. I would be happy to listen, and would respect their point of view, ask them to provide examples or evidence and show them consideration.

Anonymous postings attract students that are fans, and students that don't like the teacher. Its nice to feel liked and popular, but sometimes teachers have to do what is right, and not what is popular. If they are acting like professionals, but have had to discipline a student or give work the grade it deserves (a bitter pill for some to swallow I am sure), should they be berated publicly by nameless, faceless, immature individuals?

I liken this kind of anonymous posting to grafiti on bathroom walls.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Aboriginal Education and VoiceThread 2

I just had the best meeting! How often do you hear a teacher say that? I met with the head of Aboriginal Education for our district, and she thought that there is definitely potential for students in the Aboriginal program to "show what they know" using VoiceThread. I first thought about this idea in January. I think Voicethread would be a great tool for the students in this program for a number of reasons:

1.) According to the head of Aboriginal Ed. for the Coquitlam School district, approx. 25% of the students have some sort of special need designation, with many needing help with Literacy. With VoiceThread, students can create content with digital cameras, scans of their work, and a microphone. Individual accounts are free, so this does not create a financial burden on school programs.

2.) Students in the Aboriginal program can interact with other students in the Aboriginal program by inviting them. But, it doesn't have to stop there. What if a student could get feedback on their school projects from Elders from their nation? From other nations? From other educators? Culturally and educationally, this could be very valuable.

The next step is to work with the Aboriginal teacher assigned to my school and see if there are some ways we can use VoiceThread for some of the academic projects she has planned for her students.  I am very excited!