This blog is too confining….


I want to write about more than technology!  Therefore, I’m discontinuing this blog and starting a new one.

Follow the link.

Out There and Slightly Wounded


Fruit Ninja and Data Management

We started data management this week and there is no better way to learn about mean, mean, mode and probability than by slicing up some fruits.

Each day for the next week, my boys are taking five turns on Fruit Ninja in arcade mode.  We are using XBox Kinect as it is more physical than the iPad version.  It’s hilarious watching them swipe their arms around in manic ways.

Now, to the academics.  My students are (will be)

  • recording their scores and calculating the mean, median and mode for the day
  • recording their scores on a master lists and creating a class average
  • showing their results on a line graph
  • making predictions about scores of other students and staff based on our results
  • calculating the probability of certain events occuring throughout the game
  • calculating the  probability of reaching a certain score

I’ll post some of the work as we go!

Gaming Ideas: Galaxy on Fire 2

Since September, we have been using gaming as a way to motivate and engage our students.  Being that we are working with at-risk students, many of the Ontario Curriculum expectations are totally irrelevant to them and, in the past, we have struggled finding activities that they will want to do.

Enter the video game.  In my research of boys, learning, and school culture, I came across Ali Carr-Chellman’s TED presentation, “Gaming to re-engage boys in learning.”  As I had already started the ball rolling with her ideas, I had no problem continuing down the paths that she suggested.

We have been working through Games of the Month since September, mostly with iPad apps.  In the coming months, I will begin posting some of the ways we integrated learning into these tasks.  However, it is important to remember that learning can take place by just playing the game with a learning goal and purpose in mind.

For example, we began a science fiction, adventure-action game called “Galaxy on Fire 2” this month.  Before beginning, we talked about how science fiction is a mix between fiction and non-fiction, talked about student experiences with science fiction, and how the plot of the game will portray the theme.  As we play, I point out specific features that we discussed at the beginning on the month.  In addition, the students are required to use problem solving, team work, math, and language skills (lots and lots of reading) as they are playing.  I explained that we using the video game as if it is an interactive novel.  

In addition to playing the game, the students have choice assignments to complete that relate to the game using a variety of tools that they may choose.  Some of these projects included:

  • creating a movie poster for the game
  • creating a space ship using the weapons from the game, followed by an integers, budgeting, and spreadsheet activity
  • reading a sci-fi short story and writing a quiz for other students to complete
  • researching natural resources of Canada

The students are engaged.  The students are learning.  Can I ask for anything else?

My response to “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: how American teens navigate new world of digital citizenship”

The Pew Institute has just released their study entitled “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: how American teens navigate new world of digital citizenship”

This study has some pretty interesting findings.

Of the findings, I was excited to learn that majority of teens feel that they have overall positive online experiences. In their survey, they asked “Overall, in your experience, the people your age mostly kind or  mostly unkind to one another on social networking sites?”  About 69% of teens 12–17 reported that people are mostly kind of social networking sites.  my mind, this is a fairly significant number of positive responses. Compare this with adults, 85% of social media using adults reported that their experiences were mostly kind also. Therefore, the common negative misperceptions about social media have been blown out of proportion and the benefits have not been examined enough.

Let’s drop the rhetoric about social media and teach our kids how to use it.

“We did no work today”

After second nutrition break today, one of my students made a comment that made me reflect.

“We did no work today”

I was a little surprised because we had, in fact, done work.  My gut response to this comment was that I need to make things harder, more challenging and push my student’s further.   However, when chatting with my CYW’s, I realized that the work is not the issue but the students’ learned understanding of “school work” is that of a traditional classroom and assignments: worksheets, novels, textbooks, etc.

Really, learning using technology and progressive methods really does take some getting used to.

Honestly, the best part of the day for me was playing “Word Search Puzzle” (a Chrome App) on the SMART board with my students as they arrived this morning.  All 7 of us were at the board, finding the words together, hoping to beat our previous time.  They were focussed, they were reading, they were interacting with each other positively.

That is learning.

Livescribe Idea – Avery Labels and Posters

Sound stickers are on their way from but in the meantime I decided that I would use Avery labels printed using Live scribe Desktop to create my own  sound stickers.

It works – even on a black and white laser printer.

We started a Graphic Novel unit this week, focussing on asking questions/predications and summarizing the key points from each chapter.  I have the students record their summary using the pen (and the labels), paste their answers onto a poster in the classroom and I respond to each summary using the pen and the same label.

Quick and easy.


it’s been a while

It’s been a really long time but I’m back. Part of the reason why I’m back is because I started using Dragon dictation for Mac. I’m the first to complain about this program but I thought I should give a try in hopes of overcoming my frustrations with it as means of modeling how to use technology.

Since September, we have done a lot with technology in our classroom–many of the assignments are not new, many of them are similar to things I’ve done the past year but I thought I would share:

-we started the year by using to create a comic showing our classroom expectations. Our expectations this year were based upon “The Definite Dozen”–a set of expectations created by American college basketball coach for her team.   It’s a unique set of expectations because it focuses on students managing their own behavior.

–The first day of school my students used the iPads to create a Sock Puppet show demonstrating the routines that we have within our classroom. We quickly  shared these animations by projecting them onto the screen. What was amazing about this, was that it was an extremely meaningful assignment for them and it took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. In my opinion this is the beauty of the iPad in education–quick, easy, fun lessons.

-also on the first day of school, we jumped on the Q. R. Code bandwagon. To do this, I used http://www.weebly.comto create a website that would be linked to the codes.

-We talked about  infomercials: there structure and the descriptive language used to sell products. We watched a whole bunch of thems: the Shamwow, the Magic Bullet, and the Slap Chop were among the few that we deconstructed. From there, the boys used the descriptive language and the structure that we pulled from these infomercials and created their own using Puppet Pals on the iPod. We then shared these animations on our classroom blog.

–My students have all signed up for an Evernote account. All of our writing we are collecting within Evernote. The beauty of this is that were able to share the writing amongst each other simply and easily. Also, it allows them to have a digital portfolio of all the writing so that they can see their progress they’ve made throughout the year. In addition, we hope to use this as a way of teaching them organization and  management in the digital world.

–We signed up for Quadblogging last year. I really have an issue with using blogs unless they become a truly authentic writing experience. To truly do this, your blog needs to have some readers. This is Quadblogging comes in. You’re in a group of four, with schools spread out from all around the world.    The best part of this experience so far has been sharing our work and also comparing the differences and the similarities between our classroom and those classrooms in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

–Edmodo is the hub of our classroom. We’ve been using Edmodo to post assignments and share what we have done with the rest of the class. In addition, we have used this website to begin teaching the concepts of digital citizenship and online social skills. I hope to share a lot of these lessons and ideas on my TLLP blog  in the near future.

So. There you have it. My first blog post done using Dragon.  So it really wasn’t that hard but at times it was frustrating. I hope to use it some more.

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