Saturday, October 29, 2011

Project-Based Learning: An Overview - Current Event #6

Teach everything they need to know before they start the project
picture courtesy of Flickr: Horse and cart / Christian Guthier / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
I'd like to first start out by saying, I am slowly working towards teaching in a project-based environment but more work is needed. If you've done any reading of Project-Based Learning you'll appreciate this short video on what it is and how it can impact student learning.

Just looking on the face of the young girl who is outside doing work in 'her' classroom and not the four walls of a school sent shivers up my spin. You can see the joy on her face at being able to learn outside of a school. I wish we could all teach this way. What would happen if we forgot about curriculum and let students pick their own learning? Seymor Papert suggests this is the first step towards project-based learning or at least forgetting about learning a particular outcome at a particular time (video). Using technology in classrooms and with students helps to lend itself to beginning to explore project-based learning. Technology must be in the hands of the students.

I am in awe of this type of teaching and learning. This video helps to remind us all that inquiry and project-based learning is one of the best ways of learning. I have a feeling this is why we have been given the opportunity to create our own learning project. I would love to know your thoughts on Project-Based Learning.

Edutopia (Producer). (2001), Project-based learning: an overview [video]. Retrieved from

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adding to a Wiki

This will be a very short post on one of my inquiry project Web 2.0 tools. I participated in the #daily5 chat tonight on Twitter. It is a very valuable form of professional development if you are thinking about starting Daily 5 and CAFE in your classroom. We were discussing Daily 5 and Technology and the topic of Spelling City and Word Work came up. This was my opportunity to add content onto the Daily 5 Chat Wiki. I had created some word work activities based on a Pinterest idea I'd pinned over the summer (I'm missing my pinning days) that I felt other might be interested in trying.
It was more difficult than it really had to be because I pressed one wrong button.
If you press this and change it to the 'link' button it will add the image as a link to open. You must have the 'embed file' button present to see the actual image. This took some Googling to figure it out. I used this video as a guide to help me figure out how to add the images.

It felt like a great accomplishment when I added these images and PDF files to the wiki. Was it difficult? For a while, but I knew I could find the answer someplace. Was I intimidated adding content to a Wiki when I knew that if I made a mistake I might delete someones work by accident? Of course I was. Don't feel intimidated by using a new Web 2.0 tool because the answer is someplace to be found, on Google, Twitter, or a You Tube.

Daily 5 Chat Wiki. (2011). Retrieved from

Kinney, Belinda (2011). Work with words menu. [blog post]. Retrieved from

stirlrs (Producer). How to add pictures to wikispaces. [video]. Retrieved from

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finding Balance and Happiness Current Event #5

As I am sitting in the Calgary Airport trying to connect to the internet, finally chose a different web browser, I am reading through my 'starred' blogs, which I saved so I could use them as my current event topic for this week I came across yet another inspiring and thought provoking post by George Couros called, Happiness and Balance. How fitting of a topic for me right at this time. This week, I was juggling, 2 presentations, sub plans for 2 1/2 days of school, travelling, and finding the time to work on my inquiry project, I did some tasks better than others and spent more time where it was needed as we all do.
While I was in Saskatoon, many of the teachers asked, "Where do you get your energy from and how do you find time to do all of this?" I guess I make the time because it's what I love to do. George talks discusses 'being out of balance' at times in his life. I can fully relate to being out of balance because it's how I've felt all week. When I reflect upon how this week has gone, I know I have not devoted enough time to the work that I've needed to do for my project (I know I will be able to over the weekend) but I've missed connenting with teachers face to face. Travelling to conferences and sharing with teachers gives me a renewed sense that what I do in the classroom is worthwhile and important. I love sharing with teachers in this way. It makes me happy to know that teachers enjoyed what I shared and could take back something they valued to their classrooms.
Yes, being out of balance is a huge part of my life right now but it makes me happy to spend time with teachers, with my students and with learning about new Web 2.0 tools. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Couros, George. (2011). Happiness and balance [blog post]. Retrieved from The Principal of Change.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flickr: Just The Flick of A Button

I just uploaded pictures to Flickr using iPhoto's Uploader to Flickr application. Why hadn't I done this before? Good question that I'm really asking myself. It was SO EASY!!! I clicked on the images I wanted to upload, and pressed Flickr in the Share portion of my iPhoto window. Do to not having the Uploader for Flickr installed or set up, it took a bit for the computer and Flickr to talk to one another and about 2 minutes for the photos to upload but it was seamless. It even asked how I wanted them uploaded, in a set or Photostream. I chose set because I wasn't quite sure what a Photostream was. That will be the next thing to investigate. 
Now to post them on this blog and my classroom blog for others to see and share. I'd been searching for a way to upload the photos into a slideshow type presentation from Flickr but I can't seem to find it. However, you will see that I was able to upload all the photos into a poster type layout. 
If you go into Share button and click, "more ways to share" you can actually connect with any of your blogs.
What ends up happening is this collection of photos in a poster layout rather than a slideshow. At the same time it adds the photos you are able to write text to go along with the blog post. It's like writing a post from your Flickr account. I don't think you can get too complicated with your posting and I am unsure of the word count. It's something to explore when I have more time.  I know Blogger's Picasa will add the photo's into a slideshow. I'm going to be investigating Flickr to see if this is an option as well. It would be quite nice to have this as an option. I know I'm looking for an embed code.
Art Idea courtesy of
 These were just some initial thoughts as I was loading and playing with Flickr. It is quite easy to upload. Blogger and Flickr communicate quite nicely with each other. On a side note, didn't my kids do a great job? 

Witches Feet

Witches Feet, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Playing and Learning With Tags

Tag Cloud from The Math Whisperer

Berger and Trexler state (as cited from Kroski, 2005) "Tagging is not about the right way or the wrong way to categorize something and it is not about accuracy and authority, it's about remembering." Here in lies part of the problem with my tagging system. In the past, I have been tagging but more so now since it has become a major focus of my inquiry project. I need to have common words I remember and an organizing structure for the tags I use in other Web 2.0 tools or for tagging for reference to refer back to.

The library system of taxonomy has always alluded me and the system of folksonomy has done the same until reading Berger and Trexler's (2010) chapter on social bookmarking. I have discovered that tagging is a vital way of staying organized and allowing others to find what you have tagged. 
I now know why tagging is important. The big step is to remember what my tagging structure is and continually use it. Kind of like finding a filing system or storage system that works for you and using it and modifying it as needed. 

Russ Goerend (2011) talks about using the first letter of each word when he is tagging student files in Evernote. Here is the link for the video (I was unable to add it to this blog)
For example, word work for Bob might become ww-Bob as a tag in Evernote. I liked this idea for Evernote especially when you want to tag a students note for quick reference.
Berger & Trexler (2010) mention "tagging as performing seven functions for bookmarks:
the first four functions are intrinsic to the tagger and include:"
  • The first function is to identify what or who the Web site is about.
  • The second function is to identify what it is. Is it a blog, podcast, tweet, etc? 
  • The third function would be to identify who owns it. For example, Berger & Trexler, Russ Goerend, etc.
  • The forth function would be to refine the categories. This particular one I understand it to be about making your tags simple to understand. 
Berger and Trexler (2010) go on to mention the other three functions as being personal to the tagger.
  • The fifth being identifying qualities and characteristics.
  • The sixth being a self-reference system.
  • And the final function of organizing by task. For example,  read later,  masters, Web 2.0 tools (p. 46).
After reading this page I knew I'd found a system I could potentially try but tweak it so it works for me.  I liked the first three functions and the last one for sure. This means now when I tag something in Diigo, Flickr, Podcasting, Reader or any of my other Web 2.0 tools I will be trying to identify what or who it is about, what it is, who is the author, and organizing them according to the category it should belong to (e.g. technology, Web 2.0, master, education, primary, etc). I am hoping with a small organizational system my tagging will become a bit easier for me to find and relate to. This is a classification system I feel I can remember and use often when tagging on the Internet. If you are at all wondering about how to tag, what tags are all about or how to tag you should read the chapter called Social Bookmarking in Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World by Pam Berger and Sally Trexler.


Berger, P., & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Russ Goerend (Producer). (2011). My thoughts and strategies on tags and notebooks in evernote  [Screencast]. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Getting excited about Audioboo

There is still something to be said for Workshop type PD. If I hadn't gone to Saskatoon it might have taken me longer to learn about Audioboo. After seeing it being used to create Podcasts and seeing how easy it was to use, I am going to be exploring this to do my Podcasts. In the session we explored other ways to use it. Assessing fluency, explaining math strategies, reading a story, etc. It is easy to record and then embed into a blog or blog post. 
This Web 2.0 tool is far easier to use. I will still investigate Audacity but I have this feeling I will find this one much easier to use. It generates an embed code instantly and it host your Podcasts. It is also SO EASY to use. I'll have more in the comping weeks. 
I can't wait to try this out some more.

What's the Fuss Over Flickr?

Photo courtesy of flickr‑rss.jpg
What's the draw to Flickr? In any free time I've had I've been returning to Flickr and doing some experimenting and playing around. I've added a profile picture that's actually me and not a picture of my dogs. I've thought about why I'm choosing to use different photo's. I think they need to all be the same, especially after meeting @kathycassidy this weekend. She said, "You don't look anything like your picture!" Hmm!! Is that sign? I feel quite important after getting my own Flickr URL. I'll be testing this out soon enough. I chose to add some contacts from my Facebook page. I think I'll add some from my Google addresses as well. It appears I do not have a lot of contacts who use Flickr. I might have to send out emails to ask them to join. 
I uploaded a set of photos and then posted them to Twitter. Nothing happened! No comments and no views. I think it's because I'm new to photo sharing and perhaps my photos didn't have any meaning. Note to self they must be meaningful. 
As I mentioned earlier, I had the pleasure of meeting @kathycassidy at the ECEC Saskatchewan Conference in Saskatoon. I attended her Digitial Portfolio's session and her Rebooting the 3R's session. We were talking and I commented on how I liked the slideshow of her students before her presentation. She told me they were on her Flickr account. I instantly went to her sight. When I was browsing her photos/site it appears she uploads her images from her classroom, individual and sets, and then she must send out her URL so others can view them. Her sets have several views. Mental note on this point. I've added her as a contact so that I can take a look at more of her site to see how she organizes and shares her photos. I'm going to subscribe to her RSS Flickr account so that I can use her account as a resource. I'm glad I found this. Now I'm wondering who else may be on Flickr that I know from Twitter. When I was first investigating this site I was wondering what the point was. After finding her site and using her Flickr account of an example, I'm far more interested in investigating it further.
How can I integrate this into a primary classroom? First of all, any photos I add to my iPhoto that have classroom content, I will upload them to Flickr. This way I can share them with parents and I don't have to always post them on the blog. I will be more conscious of the photos I take. What is the intent, purpose, or goal of the photo? Why do I want to share it? Does it show growth or learning over time? I can also have kids comment on a certain photos to build their literacy skill. 
When I first started using Flickr I wasn't all that excited about it. But after seeing a primary example I can start to see the possibilities of using it in school and for my own personal use. Flickr appears to be multi-layered, which is scarey and exciting all at the same time. I have lots more to learn.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Feeling Disconnected

Hello everyone, my apologies for not having posted in the past couple of days. It has been a whirlwind of a week. I've been prepping for two presentations and making sub plans for three days while I'm gone. I promise to post when I get to Saskatoon and have a bit of down time between my presentations. 
If anyone is going to be at the ECE Saskatoon Convention please stop by and say hello. 
Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in my day and I've been putting in 14 hours at school to prep. People don't realize how long good sub plans take. 
Looking forward to being back in touch in a couple of days.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Many Tools Are Needed?

I'm a Kitchen Gadget collector...Yes! I am confessing to LOVING kitchen gadgets and I know I've got a problem. I've returned from another Pampered Chef party and I just had the last order from a party a week ago delivered last night. If you've never tried their products, you should. Great quality and warranty that's outstanding.
As I was putting away my products I was reflecting on owning 6 measuring cups and then having just purchased two more. Everyone said I couldn't live without this Measure All  and the Mini Measure All so I had to have them. Secretly, I really did want them especially for my Peanut Butter Cookies at Christmas time. It's such a pain getting the peanut butter out of the measuring cup. This way the solids come seamlessly out of the tube. Are all of these measuring cups needed? 
Well, it depends on the job you're doing. As I am reflecting on Web 2.0 tools, collaboration and how they can be used for educational purposes I am wondering if one can have too many choices of Web 2.0 tools? Does having an abundance of tools cause us to become stressed about how to use them? Does it become overwhelming to learn and incorporate these tools into our already very busy schedules? I am contemplating these questions and many more as I learn more about other Web 2.0 tools. I know I'm still keeping all my measuring cups because at various times they all come in handy. Perhaps that's how we need to utilize Web 2.0 tools, keep them stored someplace for when they will come in handy.

Current Event #4 - Sharing and a PSN

Another Reason to Share 

Developing a Personal Sharing Network

I chose these two particular blog posts because they both appeared in my Feed on the same night and this idea of sharing has really stuck with me since the first discussion posts we did. In fact, I would take a good guess in saying that George Couros and Richard Bryne probably shared and collaborated on this very topic via Twitter)
I liked what George had to say about sharing, "but there is some teacher out there that can take what you have done, adapt it, modify it, and tailor it to exactly what their kids need." I remember someone else bringing this to my attention when I wrote about sharing my plans with another teacher. I saw this teacher as wanting my hard work, but instead it was an opportunity for her to learn from my experience and to modify it to her way of teaching so she could come to some understanding about writing.

I couldn't agree more with this statement, "When your organization shares your best ideas with your own community, the neighbouring community, and the world, you help push education locally and globally" I'm beinging to share more and it's a major goal in my inquiry project.

Richard Bryne also wrote about modify what we call the Personal Learning Network (PLN) to now having it called the Personal Sharing Network (PSN). What an interesting idea considering Web 2.0 tools allow use to share and then collaborate on ideas and issue in education. He also talked about the more you share the more others are likely to share with you. I believe in this whole heartedly now.
Isn't the first line Robert Fulghum's poem "All I Really Neet to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," "Share everything!" It's a simple idea but still the hardest for adults and some teachers, like myself to remember. I'm working on it though.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Diigo Beginnings

I logged on and created a profile a couple nights ago. Very easy and as I was maneuvering through the start up process and adding my interests, favourite movies, television shows, books, etc it really reminded me of creating a profile for Facebook. The screens are even similar. I'm thinking maybe the sharing will be similar to Facebook. 

Some of the language is even the same. My network, my groups. I think Facebook started with the same language as well. 
I am unsure of the categories down the left hand side but I think I'll be able to figure it out.
This is so cool! As I was scrolling through Google Reader I couldn't figure out what the blue box was around my images. I thought Google had modified something but it's not Google, it's Diigo. It's allowing me to bookmark an image. How very cool is this? Just clicked on the little disc image and it sent it to Diigo. I think I'm in love. What implication for education does this have? If kids find an image for a research project and they want to use it, just Diigo It! I think Diigo will be a tool I stick with for quite a while.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Technology Makes Me Giddy With Happiness

This post has nothing to do with my inquiry project but I thought some of you might be interested to know this, perhaps you do already but I'm going to share it regardless. 
A fellow grade 2 teacher who I'm working with on a small project sent me a placemat (a ledger size paper with sections marked off, I use it to help students understand number by decomposing it). 
This photo is a sample of one I use. They develop throughout the year as students' learning increases. This teacher decided to create one in Word. I didn't think you could create a document as large as ledger size in Word. That's a new learning all in itself, so of course I've got to try this at some point and problem solve how she did it. The fun part comes soon, I promise. How am I going to print this? Do I have to print 4 separate sheets then cut and paste them together manually? Yikes! I sure hope not.  I know basic printers at school don't print out ledger size. Well, now what! I thought maybe I could print this to our photocopiers. Sure enough, I found the photocopier setting on the computer, made sure it looked good and pressed send. 
I just about jumped out of my skin. It WORKED!!! Well now the possibilities are endless, the sky's the limit. I've got a placemat that's printed, clean of icky photocopy gunky spots and it was all done on the computer. LOVE IT! Can you tell how excited I am about this?
If you'd like me to send you the Word document please let me know. I haven't figured out how to add a Word document to blogs but I'll figure it out.

Inquiry Proposal

Ultimately this proposal occupied a large portion of my time this week and weekend. Sorry but it is far too large of a document to just copy and paste. It has been uploaded to Google Docs and embedded into this blog for  reading. Please click on the link if you wish to view it.
All I can say is,  "This was hard". It's one of the hardest assignments I have even had to do. It pushed me to my limit. I am left wondering, Is it too long? Detailed enough? Clear enough? Have I cited correctly? Have I made enough connections? Does it flow? Have I stated the reasons why I want to learn about each Web 2.0 tool? I guess time will tell.
This morning as I cried on the way to the school because of stress, I realized that I have a full time job and that being a perfectionist may not be all it is cracked up to be. By no means am I perfect nor do I want to be. Doing well and being perfect are completely different. My priority must be the job since that is what pays for me to do all of these extra curriculum things.
I've said it often but writing is one of the hardest skills. Good writing is like a great piece of milk chocolate cake. The first bite of sweet fluffiness draws you in to taking more and more bites, until it's gone. I can make a good chocolate cake so I'm going to trust myself that I can create a good piece of writing at sometime in my life. Or to think of it differently, maybe some of us were made to be bakers and some of us were not. Regardless, it's what we learn through the process and how great it feels to be done.
I have tried my best with the resources and skills available. Isn't this what we ask of our students? I know it's what I ask. How about you?
Here is a time line of my proposal.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Current Event #3 - Andy Ihnatko's Obituary of Steve Jobs

I personally think this is the biggest story in the tech world this week and for quite a while. Regardless of what you think of Steve Jobs he truly was a visionary in the technology world. As I'm writing about my current event on the computer he created or at least encouraged someone to build, I'm searching on my iPhone for a misspelling of a word and texting a friend who'd had a bad day. What would I do without them?
I am reflecting on the impact he's had on my life and those of others. Where would we be if we didn't have personal computers or Smart phones to work with? Would we have Web 2.0 tools? Would we have been able to just "Google It?" Would we have been able to do our learning over the computer? Do many of us even realize that Steve Jobs and Apple Computers really changed the way we communicate, interact, collaborate and educate children.
HIs death is sad and as I write this, I'm fighting back tears. I think we've lost a person who inspired us to do better and be better. He was a leader and a visionary. Steve wanted us to imagine the imaginable. I think as a teacher that's what I want my students to do as well.
Andy Inhakto's obituary is a wonderful tribute to Steve Jobs. I loved his personal story about the NeXT cube. Isn't it wonderful to think that perhaps it was Steve on the phone that day. I know I sure would like to believe that it was. Andy said it well, "Still: yesterday, I lived on a world with a Steve Jobs in it. Tonight, I don’t. That’s truly how I feel right now."


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Current Event #2 - 10 Reasons Your Students Should Blog

Here is my Current Event #2
10 Reasons Your Students Should Blog
It comes from Matt Ray (aka Mr. Foteah) blog - From the desk of Mr. Foteah. I found this article last week while I was on Twitter and knew I had to share it with all of you. I believe whole heartedly in everything he is saying. Students are engaged and it provides them with a voice to share their thoughts and feelings about certain topics. Take a look at my trash bin on my computer. There are 121 comments and posts from my grade 2's in the past 3 weeks. I can't stop them nor do I want to. They are engaging and motivated to write. What more could a teacher ask for?

I especially enjoyed point #10 when he discusses instant engagement because I am seeing just that with my students. They can't wait until it's computer class or to go home and write. I've got one student who has written every night and not just 2 or 3 sentences, but more. As teachers we are always wanting to motivate our students to write and Matt Ray has given us 10 reasons why you should get your students to blog as soon as possible. Take caution because it can become addicting for them.
Hopefully you will start your students on the blogging journey. is a fantastic site to get your students started.