If people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done. — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our new little baby is not even 3 months old and she already has a pretty good size digital foot print.

image

She has been tagged in a crazy number of photos on Facebook. Through Twitter, again, photos of her as attachments or through Instagram have been added. Some friends are still pushing for her to have her own Twitter account, ha ha, but in a way that is still a way she has been referred to online. I created an email account for our little gal right after she was born, as well. That was a great decision, and I am glad I did so. I have been able to send her news about many milestone updates and just random messages for future her to read.
Sometimes I wonder if it was my right to share these pictures of her. I think because social media is such a norm it is probably not a big deal, and she might not know any different. But, when she’s a teenager, will cute, chubby cheek pictures all over the internet of her be an issue? I really don’t know. And, it is not possible to truly remove them forever. So, when do I stop sharing? How do I balance out the fun of sharing  about our new exciting addition and her right to privacy?
First post from this new mom… Many drafts started. Will I ever have time to finish anything again? Guess that is another topic for another day.

The question of the feel of the world has come up a few times now.

http://www.fanpop.com/spots/the-2012-movie/images/9055740

My husband and I have talked about the upcoming 2012 and idea of Doomsday in the past. When the movie first came out – which I refused to watch with him – the feel around the school and with other people I know was one of demise. Media has this way of getting our emotions just-a-stirrin’!

So, now that the hype of the ‘movie’ has died down, I’ve noticed some other changes. I am fairly connected in the social media world. I don’t add content as often as I’d like, maybe as I should, and definitely not as often as others do, but I am still connected. Through this I’ve come to notice a sorta of feel of change, or a positive vibe. I follow many educators, so that may add a bias, but the tone of possibility and direction seems to be a constant.

Again, this is what I see.

This is what I notice.

But, I have also had some recent conversations (face-to-face) with colleagues and parents of students, and, the feel that they are projecting is that of a much scarier, more negative world. Of course, since this seemed completely opposite of my feelings these days I prompted for reasons.

The answers made me think. Some of the responses I received were that through Facebook and other online social networking, people should be careful. They believe that kids are more bullied. Kids aren’t safe. They also admitted that they don’t know what their kids are doing on there. Some said they will not allow their kids to have access, if they can help it, as they themselves do not even have accounts. They felt all they ever hear anymore is the negativity of the world – on the news, and through hearsay from others.

Fear of the unknown?

My re-torque was, “Well, what do you see?” “Where do you get your information?” I shared that I see things differently. One teacher and parent talked about how it is a shame that kids that are homosexual have been bullied and in the end have committed suicide. I agreed, of course. They also said, that these kids were on social networking sites and so therefore those sites are negative. I asked, but have you seen the responses? The circles, groups, backlash from society has been huge! Ellen Degeneres has used her media connections to add a public voice. Ellen is on Facebook, Twitter, TV, in magazines, etc, and her number of followers, or people she reaches is even more amazing. When she adds her support of acceptance, and tolerance, and others agree, look at the power we have to change the negativity! Look at the possibilities!

One act of hate is responded to by millions of acts of love! – was my response.

Nowadays, it seems that the negative/haters are becoming a minority. The power of those that want positive change and a feeling of love to take over has risen. We are uniting for good. That is the feel I am noticing. But I am also connected. I also see it.

It isn’t all rosy, but as is the case with the alcoholic that is kept in the closet and all words about him are hushed – he remains an alcoholic, with little or no supports, alone with his affliction. If his problem was brought to surface and those around him knew, perhaps some changes could be made. His peers would have dry parties, and he’d feel welcomed. The main thing is he wouldn’t be alone, he wouldn’t be able to hide, and change would be necessary. Others could even talk about how they overcame their affliction, again not alone.

I hope that the people I have chatted to recently join the world network so they can see what people are doing to inspire change, to connect through positive energy and demonstrate that we have the support and the numbers. Personal fear of the unknown can difficult. So perhaps it is simply that. They are not fearing a more negative world, but a fear of what they have yet to become part of.

http://www.positivelifestylesteps.com/trust-in-your-instincts

I’m sure you’ve all seen Stand By Me, Playing for Change, and it is still a favourite. Enjoy another video connecting those around the world in the race for positive change.

Let’s get together and feel alright…

 

Times they are a-changing… right Bob? Well, they are, but they always are.

Then again, they aren’t. Things are moving forward, but not all opinions, values, and mindsets are, yet. We look at who we continually vote into power during the elections (you know what I mean, Alberta). You look at comments from parents and many other advocates, “Back to the basics,” “Where are the pencils and mad minutes?” “Facts, facts, facts!” Heck, I have students that just aren’t into computers, or into blogging.  They will use the tool now and then, but would rather show off their work through a booklet. It sounds weird, I know, but should I ostracize them for wanting that? They are learning. They are demonstrating. They are engaged. They are and will be successful.

I have read dozens of blogs about the future of education, about the future of technology, about the future of learning. Most point to increased technology and computer use, which excites me, but also could terrify me in different ways.

Currently, I have a group of students that I would say added up and divided by the whole are average tech users. I have some way above the norm, some way below and a few in the middle. Now, I’m talking tech as in computer usage, blogging, site navigation, social media, all of it. Reflecting again, maybe they are slightly below average users. Anyways, the point I am trying to get at here is, if we parallel this “skill-base” with that of reading you can start to see how the average teacher may get terrified yet again. Without adding something else to a regular classroom, even 4 years ago, teachers were exhausted trying not to leave behind those that could not read or write. Now, we need to teach the skills (technology), with the curriculum, add the project and then say go. All of that may even be fine, but what about Jim the boy that can’t read? He can’t type in a word to search for his research project. What about Trish the girl that doesn’t ever use a computer, AND can’t read? She looks at the screen, drops the mouse, switches hands, ah! What now? What about the dyslexic child, or ADHD child that cannot separate all of the adds and other flashing items on a website and zone in on the appropriate? Cloning has not been approved yet so how can the average teacher do it all when all of these students I refer to are in her class?

I have not mentioned behavioral issues. I have not mentioned teacher confidence and lacking skill issues. As well, some parents holding back. So, add these up and the image can be terrifying. Why bother? Is it worth it? I don’t know if I can handle this? What do I do with Johny, the kid that isn’t allowed online? What about Billy, the kid that will not stop streaming Youtube, and how does he always hide it before I get there?

Are teacher’s really not willing? Or are they just scared, overwhelmed, realistic, and maybe even justified?

Now, I do have the skills. That makes life so much easier. Once we get 1-1 laptops, life will be even easier because right now the students with skills can and do and I do not want to stop them. But, the students that can’t and don’t need the skill sessions, need to learn, and do not get enough time to practice when we are sharing the technology.

Some of the issues I mentioned above, students with dyslexia or attention issues could benefit from Google Chrome extensions like: Readability Redux, Chrome Page Reader, or Yawas Web Highlighter.

Get out of the boat! You can’t roll!

I have worked with a number of colleagues with a range of skills. I have been told I am very patient when I help out and I believe that is true. I can relate feelings quite well, such as trying to learn how to roll in a kayak. Well, when you roll upside down guess where you are? That’s right, underwater without a source of air, and only you can solve this problem which can quickly raise the anxiety! So, when I lend a hand I think of that.

Unfortunately, I still cannot roll. My husband tried to teach me, but you know how it is with a spouse, sometimes it is difficult to hear what they are saying. That means I need to go somewhere else to learn and then I will probably succeed. Of course, practicing only once in a while isn’t enough and even worse you will never learn it in a stressful time – right when you need to. Sometimes sink or swim does work, but not when the challenge is too great.

Instead, we develop bracing techniques to avoid going underwater. This I am seeing in the blogging at our school sometimes. Teachers are scared. They believe they need to and they want to blog, but when? How? Fine, I’ll do a quick newsletter or reminder post and that’ll do. Fair enough right? Do we want more? Yes, but if I never learn how to roll can I still go kayaking? You bet I can. I just will not feel as confident down a really fast river. My husband realized this and so he bought me, a few years back, a canoe style, sit on top, kayak. I love it! It’s so stable I can even go fishing from it. The point now is, do we ostracize these teachers for not learning the skills necessary? Do we leave them behind forever because they can’t? Let’s not say because they won’t – otherwise we sound just as bad as a teacher saying Fred just won’t do his work. Maybe Fred can’t do it the way it is presented. Why can’t we DI for teachers too? Teachers are just older students, we all know that 😛

What to do then?

The blogging type of exercises that I mentioned earlier (newsletters, updates, announcements, spelling lists only), are not engaging , but rather continue the old fashion way of telling. So, what can we do to help these teachers get on board with the new way? What about the students that aren’t into it? Well, I think, yes, time will help. I took a long time to get blogging. I still do not do it often enough. Ideas – I have tons. So, maybe I have more of a time management issue or maybe I am letting my students try out my ideas instead. But, like I said before, I do have the skills which means, those people without are in even more need of help.

How can you help a colleague?

  1. Offer to have your class comment on a critical thinking blog they do and brainstorm with him/her for the activity
  2. Email or share some sites that demonstrate classroom blogging ideas
  3. If it is a matter of skills such as embedding videos into a post, etc, see if you can offer a student to share their skills with the teacher – students love to teach adults!
  4. Be patient with your colleagues (can you roll in a kayak?). As adults we hate to not know sometimes, and worse we hate to be told we should know (children hate this too).
  5. When you notice blogging etiquette no-no’s bring them up casually. Sometimes people copy off of another person’s blog to get an idea, or picture. But ideas need to be your own and pictures must be referenced appropriately. Perhaps the person is not aware of the procedures so a gentle reminder should suffice.

Blogging within a group of people can be difficult, because it is you and your ideas out there on display. It is, or at least feels personal, which can then become competitive. That’s why caution and care should always be taken when giving advice when advice was not asked for.

I know I am rambling and reflecting a lot in just one simple post, but maybe through some of these comments you can find some inspiration and confidence to ask someone that seems to have the skills for a hand when it comes to blogging (say). Maybe even find the courage to let go and let a student explore a different way of demonstrating their learning as well. And, perhaps you can find a tactful and kind way to offer to help out a colleague that is behind.

They may always be behind, but maybe they can find a way to succeed, just as we hope and guide our students to succeed at their own rate and create their own success.

As I think over my post I realize I am speaking about blogging and tools. Tools are simply that, tools. Perhaps they are for learning and perhaps they are simply to show off and present. Is a teacher as good as her tools? I think not. A teacher is as good as her own ability to help students realize their abilities.

I leave you with a couple of videos. The first one was shared to emphasize the importance of project-based, or more engaged, learning.

The second is an inspirational video, “Teaching for Success”.

hundredpushups.com

Clicking through twitter just after the new year kicked in I came across a tweet about the 100 push-up challenge. Well, I was feeling rather frumpy, weak, and of course lazy as most do after the week of feasting has finished.

Well, I chatted to my husband about it and he said he was up for the challenge since he was feeling similar. We have since signed up for the challenge.

Now, I say signed up like we paid money, or committed in some way, but no. We simply decided why not. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution or anything like that. Just feels like, why not?

So here is the tweet that started it:

TheHomeworkDog Homework DogS
it-ups, squats, etc #temt RT @nharm: 100 pushup challenge:http://bit.ly/fPW3la #pushups #health
..
Here is the website that explains how to do a proper push-up, sit-up, squat, etc. Also, the first 6 weeks to getting you on your way to completing the challenge are all laid out as well. http://www.hundredpushups.com/challenge.html
Are you up for the challenge?
We are starting week two next week and already I feel an improvement. We are keeping track of our progress and growth on a google spreadsheet which I will post later.
Thank you,  good luck and you can do it too!
PS
Check in with your doctor and/or parents. I did have some rather sore students after their first day as well.

Sitting in the Docs Office

Well thank goodness for my iPhone it is getting me through my long wait at the doctor’s office. I absolutely adore my doctor. I haven’t had a doctor to call mine in some time. As a student one moves often and of course walk in clinics are your friend then.
I have not had my doctor long only a few years and have since moved again. This led me on a quest to find q new doctor. I’ve gone to a few and none, not one has satisfied me. The only majorly good thing about these other dctors is that their wait times are almost non existent. Meaning you go in at the time you are booked.
My current favorite doctor has crazy long wait times. Book at noon seen at six. It is silly actually but that is just how he is.
It almost makes you feel less important but then you realize that he is trying to make everyone feel important. He does not like to turn people away. If they ever legalize cloning, this man better be on he top of the list!
He is good. He cares when you are seen. He listens. He calls the specialist in front of you so you know it is dealt with. He takes you to his office and updates yours file. He gives you a hug because he can tell you need one. If I have something that needs to be dealt with quick I’ll go to a walk in clinic or to another local doctor.
But for now I can’t continue my search. I am not ready to move on. I will continue the hour and a bit drive unless the roads are super bad and the maybe I will have to cheat a little.
Time to find a power outlet. I need some juice to get through my emails.

The holidays have kicked in officially and so I have a spare moment or two to check through some unread blogs in my Google Reader. Of course, that makes me think I should post something seeing as how I have been lacking big time in that area. I think the ‘lack’ of personal blogging is easy to explain when I feel like I am blogging everyday at school while I help my students with their own blogging.

So, my post tonight is simple. I want to share and hopefully get some feedback about what direction to go next with my students. Or what direction they should go.

Here is a glimpse at a reflection post the students did. They needed to come up with criteria for their blogs. In other words, what they want to include and think they should include and how that is going to make the blogs more productive, educational, and reflective.

One students blog said:

The Reason For All This….?

Posted by susanna on December 7, 2010

Why have a blog? Why, why, why? Today, Our class brain-stormed about this question. Here are the goals, standards, and purposes of my blog. Knowing all the purposes of my blog is really useful so I can achieve these purposes and feel good about my blog, instead of thinking it’s a pile of rubble.  See below:



Another student brainstormed and displayed her ideas of what her vision and goals are for her blog as well.

07

Dec
2010

My Criteria for My Blog

This is what I would like to do on my blog:

There are a couple things that I want to ask you.  And things I want you to know about me.

This includes my favorite things, school as assignments, and some things that I want to know about you.

I’ll likely update this again later or reflect onto it, as I see some of the students still have their posts saved as drafts and I don’t want to share those yet.

Through the discussions with the students the main concern they have, and what may be slowing down their drive to blog more, is simple. They want to be connected.

Our Principal, Mr. Couros, has created a safe environment for the students to be able to blog and network with one another. As our school is unique in having more like 4 different schools and sites under just one principal the blogging will allow us to be connected.

That all being said, the classrooms all have a blog, but only a few classrooms have their individual students connected thus far (our classroom here). With not all classes having 1-1 computer access (yet) and some of the sites only having the students 1-2 days per week, it is slow. It is coming, and the learning is there, but I know my class is still not satisfied.

So, What am I asking for? I suppose I’m not asking for much, or perhaps just patience for myself because the growth and everything has been huge in just the first few months of school. So, really, I am super happy! Pumped even! The students are blogging from home now too which allows lends a smile to me when I see something posted and updated that wasn’t assigned, or suggested. Okay, I’ll be more patient, because as I reflect, positive, quick progress has been occurring. Yay!

As the students are still private, their window of connections is still quite small. I do have one student that has already gone public and my hopes is that through her and myself we can continue to make some more outside connections and share with other classes.

Any feedback as to what a student’s blog should consist of would be wonderful. We are moving it into more of an ePortfolio style blog, but there remains room for personal reflection of items other than just an assignment or project they have completed.

Or if any classroom blogs would like to share their address for us to connect with that would also be wonderful.

Thank you for reading this bedtime ramble.

Happy Holidays!

Looking out for number 12

«I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: which is: Try to please everybody.» — Herbert B. Swope

«Live in moment, every day is the new beginning of life and every night is the end of life.» — Santosh Kalwar

«Humans should believe in the power of living for just one day, those who want to live for tomorrow are not living.» — Santosh Kalwar

Teachers are… what?

Givers. Compassionate. Driven. Future thinkers. Loyal. Kind. Devoted.

Actually, many people, regardless of career are all of these things.

I guess what’s been on my mind lately is how, if we are such givers and caring people, we are able to also still balance and look out for ourselves when we are better at looking out for others?

Which should be looking out for Number 1… but in reality is probably something like, Number 12.

Family and friends can challenge our trueness to ourselves. They can’t make us do anything, but through them we can make excuses and therefore do things that we would rather or ordinarily not do because we love them and sometimes it is hard to say no or not just put their needs above our own.

It is okay to put yourself out there to do something for someone. And, as my mom used to always say, to do something genuinely, you do it without expecting thanks. I agree with that. And I comply with that.

But I suppose what I am getting at here is that although we do things and try to do them in a self less manner, it can really still begin wearing on a person if they don’t stop and listen to their own needs. Do do do do do… for others – fine, but not without stopping and DOing for yourself.

What do you need?

A hot bath, with candles, tea and gentle jazz?

A spa treatment with a girlfriend?

To play a regular sport and get some exercise?

A night out listening to some live music, enjoying a bevy, and just simply being happy without thought of the future of work or others?

That’s what I needed last night and that’s what got me thinking… I need to do a few more things for me, just cuz I want to, not because someone else said so. And for me, not with my bestest friends, hubby or other (unless that’s what I want). Just for me. Not all the time, but sometimes. Something to look forward to and enjoy in a calm, because I like to and want to, type of way.

Music makes me happy, keeps me balanced and touches my soul. So, that’s one of my medicines for looking out for Numero Uno —- WHAT’S Your MEDICINE??

And perhaps, if I want to and when it feels right, I’ll start playing again and maybe join a little band… hmm 🙂

«Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.» — Lao Tzu

«The more you love music, the more music you love.» — Tom Moon

«If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.» — Mark Helprin

Awe yes,

«Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.» — Maya Angelou