Saturday, October 24, 2009

Remembering

It's that time of year again for me. Remembrance Day is coming and as usual, I'm in charge of writing and organizing the assembly. I love doing this. I feel privileged to be able to acknowledge and show respect to our soldiers, past and present.

Usually our assembly focuses on the past. The theme I chose for this year is: Remembrance Day: Past, Present and Future. One of our custodians is a transplanted American who happens to be a Vietnam vet. Until two years ago, he refused to be part of any assemblies, etc. Two years ago he came and sat in the back of the gym for our service. He was so moved that the next year he allowed us to acknowledge him and took part. This year he took it upon himself to help organize it. He is a member of the armoury in downtown Vancouver. He arranged for us to have some very young soldiers, just back from Afghanistan, to take part in the assembly. I was able to meet with two of them and they helped me design the program. They also provided me with pictures to use in our movie (which I had to make). Every time I watch the movie, I am moved to tears. These are young boys, barely older than our grade 8 boys. When I was in conversation with the soldiers, then talked about what they've accomplished. The mentioned that we never see on the news how they escort children to school so they can safely get there; or what it feels like to see a village have electricity for a week in a row; or how it feels to know that they are making a difference and that the people really do appreciate what they're doing. I was changed after my conversation. Now, when I see the news, I think of my boys (yes, I think of them as my boys) and how much they do and their compassion and commitment. God bless them.

I've included my movie for you to watch. Let me know what you think.


video

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sorry about that!

I know I haven't blogged for quite a while. I think I have some legitimate reasons. You be the judge.

As you all know, I'm back at SFU again. I don't think I've ever been so tired in my life. Here I am trying to start up a new classroom, set up a performing arts program, arrange a musical (Pirates of Penzance is slated for this year), create a field study, not to mention complete all the data and research for that major presentation, write reports, meet with parents, and oh yeah, raise a teenager who has decided that English is a class not worth attending. My SFU course is so incredibly crazy I'm thinking that maybe I'm not cut out for this. However, it has to be done. I have now resolved myself to the fact that I now have no life (not that I ever did!).

On the plus side, I am learning a whole lot. If I didn't have to read so many irrelevant papers and comment on them, I might actually enjoy myself! I promise I'll try to be a good girl and post more often.

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Technological Guru...NOT!

I was trying to take a picture of Justine and her friend Kyle tonight and couldn't figure out what was wrong with the camera. Duh! It was on the video setting. I kept telling them they must be vampires since it wouldn't take a picture! Justine tried to help me and finally figured it out!

video

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Family Time


Two weeks at the lake...I have to admit I was kind of dreading it. Not the fact that we were at the lake, but the fact that one of us really didn't want to be there. Travelling with a 15 year-old is difficult when they do want to be there, but when they don't...Watch out! However, I was pleasantly surprised and we had a great time. We spent time on the dock in the sun; jumped off the boat in the middle of the lake; skiied; horse-back rode; playing games; reading; and best of all, laughing (usually at my expense). Not one complaint (okay, maybe one!). I'm sure glad I put my foot down and said she wasn't getting out of it. Not too many of these vacations are left. Where has the time gone?


Now she's off on her own adventure. I miss her.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Importance of R&R

I recently returned from four days at our cabin on Green Lake. It has surprised me how refreshed and renewed I feel. Even though I spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing and doing other work, I managed to relax and rejuvenate through sleep, reading, and just being. As a result, I have been able to return home ready to tackle the ongoing issues that besiege my everyday life with energy and through refreshed eyes. I actually managed to wash my own home's floors today and still have energy to carry on into the evening. Imagine how I'll feel after another two weeks at the lake and then two weeks where I relinquish my troubles to others. That's the main thing I spent time reflecting on. I am certainly very blessed to have been born into a family where I don't have to do things on my own; where others will step in when the need arises and not judge; just be there. So in closing, I say to all those who are there for me; thank-you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Homework; To Give or Not To Give

I have been giving a great deal of thought to homework lately. I have now been teaching a long time and do not see any academic advantage to giving homework. When you think about it, the 'smart' kids or 'high-achievers' are going to finish their work before leaving the classroom (or at lunch!). On the other hand, the students who habitually do not do their homework, never will. Does it do either them or me good to keep them from socialising to complete it? I think it punishes me more. Therefore, I think that next year, I am going to make a conscious effort not to give much homework. Perhaps, if I create really meaningful assignments, it will miraculously appear in my inbox anyways! Besides, I don't think the parents know how to do it anymore!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Countdown Begins


I can't believe we only have 11 days of teaching left, if you can actually call it that! In those 11 days, one is activity day, one we're swimming at Spani Pool, one I'm taking the band and choirs to perform at Granville Island, one is talent show and one is the grade 8 leaving ceremony. Once again, this year has gone fast. Why is it that I never get done what I want to? There's so many things left to do. Oh, well; there's always next year.


That leads us into summer plans. I think some much needed rest will be happening at the cabin. It will be nice to sit on the deck or the dock (just change a vowel!) and watch the sun set. Oh; but wait! I think I need to work on SFU stuff while I'm there. Oh well; at least there's no internet! That leads me into August which might as well be September since I'm back to school for two weeks. The most difficult task of the summer will be keeping the teenager occupied and out of trouble. Luckily I have family to help.


So, next time I blog, hopefully it'll be about something mundane like sleeping instead of work!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life in Festival Land

I know I haven't posted for awhile, but.....I've been busy. For the first time, I entered my performing groups in the Kiwanis Music Festival. I was very proud of their performances. My concert choir came home with a silver and my band with a bronze. The clinics that were given to the groups were very informative. However, the clinicians really didn't say anything that I hadn't already been harping at them about. I know that and the kids know that. Hopefully, hearing it from someone else (at a hefty price), will hit home. It will be interesting to see.

It was interesting to see and hear the types of groups entered in the festival. A number of my students remarked that everyone seemed to be from private schools. Hmmm...wonder what's going on here. In fact, after a conversation with one of the band clinicians, it came out that there were only two public school bands performing and go figure: both from Coquitlam. As far as the choirs go, there were only a handful of public schools competing out of a weeks worth of performances. Makes you think: what is happening to our public music system? Are we going the way of the dinosaur? I find it intriguing as I know there are excellent music programs in our district, yet so few take these opportunities. Yes, the festivals cost money. Yes, the preparation takes time. However, the benefits to the students far exceed the the cons. I think our students need to have the bar placed high for them. They need to know the discipline of preparing for such an event. I think that our music programs in the public system have become a little bit mickey-mouse (sorry to those of you in California!). Maybe that's why parents are removing their kids at alarming rates from our system and putting them in the private system. I definitely think that that's a scary way to go. Is all society moving to an elitist system? As public educators, we better pull up our socks and get out there. Our kids deserve these opportunities. Our kids are just as good or better then these have all institutions. We just need to give them a nudge.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Joys of Having a Student Teacher!


For the first time in 20 years, (yes, I've been teaching that long), I have a student teacher from UBC. It's probably been one of the best things I've ever decided to do.

Her name is Liz Purdy and I am one lucky teacher. She is bright and witty and loves kids. What more could I want? She's very capable and works so very hard. I hope she's proud of what she's accomplished because she should be.

On a selfish note, I don't know how I ever got everything done at this time of the year. I'm in the middle of doing articulation with all our elementary schools as well as many concerts. Without Liz, I think I would be a basket case! (I know; don't respond to that!)

Needless to say, I think I'll be getting another one next year!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Don't believe what you read!




Well, my last blog was very interesting. Little Miss Muffet decided that she was going to become a 'ghost writer'. However, all she wrote about was herself! We had a lot of laughs while she was writing it. I actually do enjoy having her around. Every age brings something interesting, that's for sure!





On another note, I've been busy with my university stuff again. I've purchased the program 'Adobe Premier Elements 7' and am hoping to use it for my e-portfolio. It is a very glorified digital story with all the bells and whistles. I think I'll enjoy working with it, although I have to be very creative about it!





I've been working a lot with digital stories lately. I absolutely love Photostory 3 and have been using it to make tutorials. You can check out my latest here:



http://vimeo.com/4205648?pg=transcoded_embed&sec=4205648

Hopefully, it will work!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cassie in Coquitlam!


Well, another Easter is done and I'm still learning! Thanks to my amazing talented daughter. She sure is a smart teenager! Everyone just wishes they had a daughter as smart as her ! I'm enjoying her knowledge lately. especially since she got me reading Twilight. It's really good. We actually went and found the second Twilight movie set together in Poco. She was surprised when she saw a horse in Coquitlam! She also attempted to jump out of a moving vehicle when she found a cute security guard! I yelled "DUCK AND COVER" we drove by the security guards in a circle about 4 times ! Man was that embarassing! That native one was cute! As a matter of fact, my daughter is getting an A in her english class and her teacher looooves her! I'm so proud of my lovely daughter. She deserves the world thats for sure.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Assignment for SFU - I actually learned something!

Lesson Make-Over - LTT - March 25, 2009

When given this assignment, I really had to think about how and most importantly, why I would change an assignment. To me, this was a difficult task as in our school, it is difficult to have access to technology, period. We have three labs in the school. There is one in the library which is difficult to get into. Then we have the main computer lab where you're lucky if you have 10 computers that work. Finally, we have the tech-ed lab. Good luck getting in there as the tech-ed teacher always has it booked. Therefore, I decided to make use of my virtual classroom site. This has been one of my main goals for the first term of LTT. I have worked really hard and played really hard trying to get this set-up. If I was able to post this assignment on the site, my students would have to begin to explore it. As of that time, there were only a handful of students who had requested access to the site. This, to me, meant that I was not utilizing it very well. The kids just looked at it as a homework site. I posted a wiki on there and began to ask questions. Once I decided to post my assignment on-line, the kids really started to use the site.

I have a very rambunctious group of grade 6's who are very hard to motivate. In the fall, we did the novel Holes. I wanted to look at the character of Stanley in our final study. We spent a lot of time discussing his philosophy and how he grew as a character throughout the book. We talked about the social aspect of his character and how he fit in with all the other characters. I had the students complete posters to show their work. The grade 7's did an outstanding job. However, the grade 6's didn't get it. They had a really hard time putting together a proper presentation and were unable to think in terms of the character. We had been working on writing in first person, so I decided to do another character study just for the grade 6's. Before Spring Break, we had completed a lit kit on bullying. This was a perfect opportunity to play around with an on-line assignment.

The first thing I did was to do some research on the web as to appropriate sites the students would be able to access. I decided on Read/Write/Think. I really liked this site as it was extremely clear with it's instructions which was perfect for individual work at home. Once I decided on the assignment, I realized that I was going to have to do some sort of tutorial for the kids to remember instructions with. I decided to use Jing for this. I also used Jing to freeze a page on the web that I had found to use as a reference for thinking about characters in first person.

This is the page:

http://screencast.com/t/VE4jIJBz


Here's the Jing tutorial I did so the grade 6's would remember what they were supposed to do:


http://www.screencast.com/users/Carlan/folders/Jing/media/f7d51dbd-c3b5-41b7-bad7-4ae19751663e


The next task was to paste the link to the character profile I wanted the grade 6's to complete. I thought that this was an excellent assignment to begin an individual on-line assignment with.

Here's the link:

http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/profile/


My next step was to take the students to the library lab to show them the assignment (it was actually available that day...also, the teacher/librarian wanted to see how I used Jing). I went through the assignment. Their initial reaction was very positive. They were very excited about working on their own on-line. Then they realized that there was no way they were going to remember everything. That's when I showed the Jing tutorial. After they finished laughing because I sounded like a stewardess, they loved it. I had pretty much the whole class send for requests for access to my site that evening. It was probably the first homework assignment everyone got in on time.

I enjoyed putting this together, simply for the fact that I actually could. If you had asked me in September to do this, there's no way I would have been able to. I am very excited at what I've learned in this short time and can't wait to learn more.

Thanks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

TweetDeck and Twitter

I have a confessions to make. Yes, I'm a twitter junkie. I have totally become hooked on Twitter. I twitter in the morning, at noon, and before I go to bed. I have twittees from all corners of North America. I follow education tweets, teaching tweets, fitness tweets, and alas, Coquitlam tweets. I am absolutely amazed at the things I've learned.

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's a social networking site. It allows you to converse in 140 letters or less, what's going on and share different websites that are pertinent to your areas of interest. You can follow different tweeters whom you think are interesting or who seem to be helpful. One of my favourite tweeters is a teacher from Boston who tweets the best free sites for teachers. If you have a question about something, tweet it; someone will answer it!

If you haven't discovered this yet, check out the Twitter site. It's a great place to learn things and hear things!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm officially a 'newbie'!

I began this morning with coffee and my computer. I was determined to finish, or at least start on my lesson for SFU that's due next Wednesday. I'm supposed to take a lesson I've taught and turn it into a 'technology' lesson. So I got to work. Lo and behold, I figured out what I was going to do.

Now, I won't bore you with the lesson details but I got very excited when I actually figured out how to do something new. There was a page I wasn't able to copy that I needed for the kids. I took a picture of the page with Jing and then was able to upload that image onto my virtual classroom site. I was so proud of myself; for about five minutes. Then it started. The 14 year-old got up. When I excitedly showed her what I had done, she laughed and then said, "But mom, why didn't you just use paint? Everyone uses that!". Of course my answer was, "Paint? What the bleep is that?" Now, I've been spending an awful lot of my time exploring my computer and never come across 'paint'. Apparently, it's been hiding in my accessories section. The 14 year-old proceeded to show me that there's a button on the keyboard that takes a picture of the page. Then you open paint, copy the page in and voila! You can actually edit, draw boxes and other stuff. Then she wrote down in my notebook, step-by-step how to do this. Boy, was she patient and did I feel dumb!

Needless to say, I guess I'll be playing around with this program in the next bit. Who knew that teenagers actually have a purpose!

Monday, March 9, 2009

On Becoming a Techno-Geek


I've been thinking lately about how much I actually don't know. In fact, I really am down-right stupid. I have so many sites down-loaded onto my computer, but I can't seem to figure out a good place to house my e-portfolio.


What's an e-portfolio, you are probably asking (especially if you're family). My main assignment for Simon Fraser is to 'house' all my learning 'artefacts' in cyber-space. This sounded great when it was first mentioned. However, it's much more difficult. There are only a few sites that you can do this on. Seeing as I can't decide what to make for dinner, I'm finding this difficult. This e-portfolio has to have videos and pictures and writing and all sorts of other stuff (that's a technical term).


Maybe, if my life only consisted of trying to find this elusive site, I'd be finished by now. Alas, parents, teenagers, husbands, students, etc. seem to be taking my time right now.


Good thing it's only a pass/fail course!!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Too Much Time on Their Hands




It has come to my attention, via 10 emails, that I have not blogged for a few days. Things must be really desperate if all you live for is reading my useless rambings! So...I thought I'd better post before I receive another 10!

Recently, I spent some time experimenting with something called voicethreads. I know that many of you thought I was just wasting time. I hate to disappoint you all, but I was actually doing school work. Unfortunately, you all were just guinea pigs!
At school right now, I am working on social responsibility with my two social studies classes. The main focus of our unit is the Holocaust. From there we are talking about all sorts of issues. My intent with voicethreads is to start a discussion board with my students. Just like I did in my experiment, I can upload a video or picture and invite my classes to have a discussion about what they are looking at or reading. I think that this might turn out to be a very valuable tool and am very excited about trying it out. That's what I'll be spending my weekend working on.


I know...now who doesn't have a life?????????????????

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On Being a Life-Long Learner


Since I began my SFU course in January, I have been exploring the world of the internet as an educational tool. Who knew that there was a world outside of e-mails and spider solitaire! I can't believe all the things I've learned. The only problem is that now I belong to so many sites, I have to write everything down so I remember my usernames and passwords. It would make life a lot easier if I could use the same ones for all sites. But oh no! Some sites want numbers, some sites want capitals, some want my first-born!


Anyways, here's some sites I've been exploring:


  • education/glogster

  • animoto

  • voicethread

  • Lit to Go

  • Prezi.com

  • photo laboratory

  • educational blogs

  • delicious.com

  • google documents

  • introduction to podcasts

  • wordle

  • freemind

  • widgets

And the list goes on. Have I really explored these? Of course not! Who has time for that. I've spent most of my time joining these sites; I haven't a clue what I'm doing!!!!!


Hopefully, in the next little while, I'll be able to actually try these out. I'll keep you posted on what I learn! Perhaps I'll even send you links to things like my e-portfolio that I'm supposed to have started!


In the meantime, hang in there! I promise I'll share!



Monday, February 2, 2009

The academic world!







I've just finished reading 80 billion articles on self-reflection and have discovered one thing! I am very tired of thinking! I think I'll reflect on the fact that I need some good sleep and a spa day! Surely by the age of 43, I've done enough self-reflection.






Actually, the articles all have to do with self-reflection of your teaching practice. The articles also dealt with being critical of what you do. As teachers I think that this is a given. I know that I'm not perfect (damn near close to it, though!). There are a lot of ideas I have floating around in my head that I'd like to try with my students. However, it's quite difficult when the resources aren't there.






Alas, I digress...that's a totally different blog!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I have a bone to pick...

I was talking to my mother yesterday. To provide a bit of background, my mom had a knee replacement two weeks ago and is undergoing physio and blood tests, not to mention pain. She's 82 years old. My father, who adores her, is 83 and the most honest man you could ever meet. In my whole life, my father has only yelled at me twice (for which I'll keep secret!). He's a very patient man who spent his working life teaching young men in jail and then through technical school, young men and women, how to do auto body work. He's the light of my life.

Anyways...when I asked my mom what was going on yesterday, she mentioned that my dad was at ICBC because someone claimed he had backed into him with his van and done damage to his vehicle. Now my dad, even though he's elderly, is a very honest man. He figured that maybe he could be responsible so he checked his van...nothing there. Upon further conversation with my mother, I discovered that this was not the first time this had happened. In fact, he had been accused of this once before (I didn't know...but we won't get into that now!).

So, my dad has to spend two wasted hours at ICBC with my mom at home with no help. This is ridiculous. There are actually people out there who are watching for elderly people to blame their stupidity on. I am so angry about this that I'm ready to go to the newspapers about it.

What do you thing?????? Should I????? Or am I overreacting??????

Let me know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's snowing again!

I've been thinking about my life as a little girl growing up in Coquitlam. We used to have so much snow during the winters! (mind you, I was a little shorter then!) I can remember building snowforts with my brother and having snowball fights with my dad. We used to strap the old skis on and ski down the hill, right into the front yard. Como Lake used to freeze up every winter and we'd all take our skates down to the lakeside, strap them on and spend the evening as a family on the lake. There would be hot chocolate and shovelling and so many family activities to do. I can remember my dad telling me to 'put the car in third gear as soon as possible' when driving in the snow; I wasn't even close enough in age to drive!


My point is that those were family times. Our snow over Christmas turned into being 'family time'. You couldn't get out to drive anyone to the mall so everyone had to be at home together. The power kept going out so we all had to be in front of the fire, together. It didn't even matter that the ever-present blackberry was clicking away. We were together and that made the holidays special.


I know that this snow is not heavy and will probably turn to rain this afternoon. However, it's giving me a time to reflect on how important it is to take time and be together.