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September 8th, 2011

08 Sep

Yet another busy day – a lot of it is spent on Moodle.  This is great because that means that this LMS is slowly and gradually picking up in popularity amongst the Palliser teachers.  I would be the first to admit that Moodle is not the most user-friendly program BUT … if one gives it a serious effort to learn the basics – Moodle has a LOT to offer!

IT has corrected the issue with the email notifications not being emailed after a forum posting.  So now, when members of a particular course posts a comment to the forum, all participants get notification of it.  Arrowwood School staff using Moodle as an internal communication tool.  By using the forum module, all staff are kept on top of what everyone else is doing – it has been a very effective tool until the email shut down.  But it is now back up and everyone is happy!

Teachers – we have some hardware that can be loaned out.  This hardware consists of:

  • SMART Airliner tablets (7) – great tool for the classroom.  There are teachers in the district who didn’t want a SMART board.  Rather, they opted for a projector and Airliner tablet.  With a SMART board – where is the teacher?  At the front standing next to the board – unless you have a remote to run the computer.  With an Airliner tablet and projector, the teacher is free to walk about anywhere in the classroom and still interact with the computer projection at the front of the room!
  • Document Cameras – one SMART document camera, one AverMedia document camera (these two interact with your computer) and four Epson document cameras (these function independently of the computer).  OR … for $30, one can purchase a webcam and mount it on a ring stand from the science lab and have just as an effective camera as the document variety!
  • Flip Video Cameras (28) – these are a treasure – literally – for they are no longer in production.  Competition was too great and shut them down I guess.  These are great tools – just asked the staff at Jennie Emery Elementary School.  Last year they used them for pre and post reading assessments – which they were able to share first hand with the parents – a video shows what is really happening in a childs reading development!
  • Apple iPod (12) – great for doing podcasts with.  The iPods can be easily accessed from a computer – unlike the iTouch!
  • Apple iTouch – first gen (12) – last year the students at Coalhurst Elementary got really good use out of these.  Ms. Hubber downloaded a number of free apps that fit nicely into the classroom curriculum!
  • Headsets (20) – the analog variety.
  • Video cameras (2)
  • xBox (1) – there is a REALLY big push to using gaming in the classroom.  I’ve seen first hand how it has been used in an elementary math class and needless to say, the students had a great time and were able to apply first hand math to this ‘fun’!
  • RockBand (1)

Our first Collaboration Day is quickly approaching.  We’ll all be meeting in Vulcan in the morning to take part in four revolving sessions.  Each of our current Content Providers – United Streaming (Austin Dolan), Learn 360 (Mike Tieman) and Access Learning (Vanda Coles) will be showcasing their product.  So starting at 8:45 am and every hour after that until 12:45, four groupings of teachers (TBA) will take in their presentations plus you will hear from the AISI people on what they are up to as well.

Tying into the Collaboration Day, I would like to mention an item that needs to be addressed.  First, the work that is being uploaded to the \\shared folder is really great material that teachers can use in the classroom.  The Social Studies SMART documents that were created by Aaron Skretting and Sherrie Nickel are phenomenal resources.  They are there so that teachers can use them in the classroom.  The issue that I’ve seen is that some teachers open the document up right from the \\shared folder and make modifications to the ‘original’ document.  This means that the next teacher, whether she works directly from the \\shared folder or downloads it to her computer – she will not have the original work.  From an IT viewpoint – they don’t want teachers to download these documents because of the redundancy that this would create – having 20 copies of an 800 MB SMART document – means more work to back up the school servers.  From a teacher viewpoint – I want that document on my hard drive so that I can modify it to meet my needs in my particular classroom.  So the bottom line is – don’t modify the documents that you use from the \\shared folder because this will have implications for the next teacher who goes to use it.

Other items on my radar are TPACK and Inclusive Education.  Judy Harris was in Lethbridge two years back and she was promoting the TPACK approach to the participants.  Basically we do all the planning that we would normally do to prepare for tomorrows lessons.  Then and only then after all the pedagogical work has gone into the planning, do we determine which technology will best meet the needs of that lesson.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming workshop after which I hope to provide more insight to you and how it might help you in your classroom.  Inclusive Education – Donna Dalby and Laurie Wilson have been attending a number of meetings which they will use to guide our Palliser school division to becoming a truly “inclusive” schooling environment.  I see the TPACK model as a great tool to help in achieving his outcome which explains why I’m ‘chomping at the bit’ to get more information and familiarity with the model.

Tech Tip – every once in a while, my laptop just doesn’t perform properly.  So this is what I’ve been told to do, compliments of the IT personal:

  • shut down your laptop
  • disconnect all cabling
  • pull out the battery
  • hold down the ‘power on’ button for about 30 seconds (this will discharge any electricity that might be stored in the the unit)
  • hook everything back up and power on

I’ve done this on a number of occasions and it has really helped me get the laptop back up and running smoothly again.

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