Educon 2.5

This past weekend, I traveled to Philadelphia, PA to attend EduCon 2.5 hosted by Science Leadership Academy.  Educon was my first unconference.  I’m used to going to a conference, finding a presentation that sounds interesting, going to it, listening and leaving.  Educon wasn’t like that. Not at all.  Instead of presentations, there were “conversations”.  Someone always lead the conversation, but they were conversations.  You interacted, discussed and shared with everyone else in the same session.  It was something I had not experienced before and has me wondering why every conference isn’t run this way.

Even in passing, the short conversations I had with countless people were incredible.  It was really neat to hear what others were doing and what they were struggling with.  These conversations inspired me to keep working towards my sometimes impossible seeming goals, all while giving me reassurance that I wasn’t the only one running into obstacles as I do.

Certainly one of my highlights was finally meeting a mentor I had back in ECMP 355, Mike Kaechele.  4 years later and I finally got to meet him after working with him so long ago.  It was a neat experience that I hope all other ECMP students get one day.

Because of having to catch a flight back early, I was only able to catch five out of six possible sessions.  I still have remaining thoughts and questions from each session that I hope to share.  I’m planning on making individual posts on each topic with my thoughts over the coming days. Let’s hope I can stick to that.

The whole event was streamed and recorded and can be seen by anyone on YouTube now.  Just go to http://educonphilly.org/conversations and find a session you’d like to see and click “Live Stream” to go to the recording of it.

Photo Credit: trustypics via Compfight cc

Tweetdeck

The box that pops up when Tweetdeck updates

The box that pops up when Tweetdeck updates

Since Dean told us about using Twitter in ECMP, I’ve been trying it out to see how I might find it helpful in the future.  I’ve been slowly trying to establish a PLN like Dean and our presenters have talked about many times.  At first I found it to be somewhat of a pain to constantly check the Twitter site.  Then, I’m not exactly sure where I heard about it, but I learned about a program called Tweetdeck.  A little skeptical, I downloaded the program and began playing around with it.  It was amazing.  It makes using Twitter so much easier.  You simply log in with your twitter account and password and some columns appear.  These columns updates from all of the people you follow, when people mention your name, direct messages, and there is room for you to add any columns you want. Oh, and if you use Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn it works with that too!  You sign in with your Facebook account and can set it up so it shows your all your friends’ updates, all photo updates, all wall posts.  I don’t have a MySpace account, so I’m not exactly sure how it works with MySpace.

The best part of it all, is that you never have to go to these sites.  Whenever something new is posted on any of thema little box will pop up in the corner of your screen and will fade away if you choose to ignore it.  I have found it to be really handy and has made using Twitter alot easier.  Today, Tweetdeck released a new version of the program.  Below is a video of some of the new features.

If you’re at all interested in using Twitter, possibly to develop a PLN, or use Facebook on a regular basis (which I’m sure almost all of my ECMP classmates do) you should definitely try out Tweetdeck.

My Digital Footprint

This week in ECMP 355 we have been sent out to investigate our current digital footprint.

When I first search for my name in Google’s search engine, only one link relating to myself shows up.  It is a link to Dan Meyer’s blog post, Redesigned: Kyle Webb.  Everything else on the first page does not relate to me.  Page two is a bit more of me.  My Flickr page, Vimeo page, and Twitter page all show up.  So far there have been a few Facebook pages for other Kyle Webbs, but not me.  I quickly clicked through pages 3, 4, and 5 but nothing showed up.  I was pretty disapointed that my blog hadn’t showed up so far.

My digital footprint is hard to find (from Flickr)

My digital footprint is hard to find (from Flickr)

Next I searched for “Kyle Webb Canada”.  The first thing that appeared was a LinkedIn page, which I did create a while ago but haven’t really used.  Also on the first page, was a link to my Twitter page again and a link to my profile on the Educator’s PLN Ning Site.  Page two had only one link, to one of my mentor’s blogs where he talked about the math problem I created.  Pages 3,4 and 5 again had nothing about me.  At this point, my Facebook page still hasn’t appeared.

I then attempted to search for “Kyle Webb Saskatchewan”.  Finally my Facebook page appeared.   Nothing else really showed up.  I am also a hockey player so I searched f or “Kyle Webb hockey”.  It turned up a few league sites (QVHL, PJHL, SMAAAHL).

Perhaps my name is too common for items only related to me.  But, I was really disappointed that my blog did not show up.  When I go to apply for a position as a teacher, I want that to be one of the first things that shows up when I’m Googled.  I did not find anything that I wish wasn’t on there, which is a huge relief.   However, if anyone else did find anything they didn’t want to appear, they should check out this article I found through a link on Twitter: Un-Google Yourself.

Three Great Ideas

Last Wednesday, we had three awesome presenters for ECMP 355.  They discussed how they are currently technology in their classrooms and warned us about some of the myths about teaching and technology.  I’m going to share with you one large idea that stuck with me from each of them.  Our presenters were Kathy Cassidy, Clarence Fisher and Darren Kuropatwa.

Students using technology for their work (from Flickr)

Students using technology for their work (from Flickr)

Darren Kurpatwa talked about scribe posts.  He explained how his students create their own textbook through scribe posts.  At the end of every class a certain student is nominated to create the scribe post summarizing the class.  He said that he had no part in creating the scribes, he simply comments on them the next day telling them what he liked about it and what could make it better.  This idea really stuck with me.  Today, in my field placement, I encouraged one student who knew what was going on to tell the other students what he knew.  Within minutes the students who did not understood were well on their way to grasping the concepts.  I would take at least twice as long myself for just a single student.  This really goes to prove how incredible students teaching each other can be.  I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the social factor, perhaps they understand each other better, who knows.  What I do know, is that this works.  I will definitely be incorporating this concept into my teachings in the future.  I love the idea of the students creating their own text book and making as good and useful as they want it to be.  I really think that this will be a powerful teaching technique, especially when you have access to the resources and technology capable of this kind of work.

Child using iPhone (from Flickr)

Child using iPhone (from Flickr)

Kathy Cassidy discussed how she has been able to incorporate technology into her grade one classroom.  I was really skeptical to think that students that young would be able to use technology effectively enough.  She also discussed and dismissed various myths regarding using technology in education.  The idea that stood out most for me was when she discussed how students need to have a balance of online work and pencil and paper work.  In this day and age, being able to write with a pencil and paper isn’t good enough.  Students will need to be able to type, text, and use video tools in their every day lives.  No doubt paper and pencil skills are essential, but now, more than ever so are these technological skills.  Education should being preparing students for the real world, the world outside of the school.  The real world is no longer limited to pencil and paper.  A student who is able to use these new skills in a productive manner when they graduate school will be one step ahead of his peers who did not get the opportunity to do so.

Students in Papua New Guinea connecting (from Flickr)

Students in Papua New Guinea connecting (from Flickr)

Clarence Fisher talked about his class and how they use blogs.  The idea that he talked about that got me thinking was that we need to give our students a sense of community.  We need them to know that it’s OK to look at other people’s work and to get information from others.  When I was a student, I wasn’t given this luxury.  If my thoughts didn’t come originally from my head it was as if I was cheating.  We weren’t encouraged to build off of each others work.  I can’t imagine how much better some of our projects or papers could have been had we been encouraged to work with one another.  We need our students to not only know about the resources around them, but how to use them.  The best resource they have is not the internet, but people.  The internet has the ability to connect them to people who know things that may be interested in.  Things that teachers may not be informed on.  I will never know everything as a teacher, but I do not want that to hold my students back.  If we, as teachers, can build this sense of community for our students, they will never have limitations on their learning.

I am really glad that our class was able to hear from these teachers.  They’re words of wisdom and ideas will no doubt affect how we teach in the future.   I hope other teachers will be able to get their message in some way as well.

Math + iPods

For my final project in ECMP 355 I’m putting together a wiki dealing with implementing iPods into Math education.  I have been bookmarking sites through Delicious that may be useful for the project for the past while, you can view them here.

(from Flickr)

(from Flickr)

The wiki will include:

  • Math-related application reviews (as well as some non math related, but useful apps) including screen shots, a brief summary, and some possible uses
  • Requirements (what would need to happen before implementing iPods)
  • Podcasting (what it is, how it can be used)
  • Protection (how you can prevent the iPods from getting wrecked)
  • Examples (where iPods have been used)
  • Tips & Tricks / Tutorials (I will probably just link to great resources I’ve found)
  • Resources (other resources)

I’ve started putting everything together with Google Sites (you can see what’s been started here, all that’s really been done is a review on a Battery Status app), however I’ve just realized it doesn’t function very nicely as a wiki.  I may switch it over to Wikispaces since the University of Regina has set up a wikispaces area for students and staff.

Do you have any suggestions for the wiki?  Or do you have anything you think you could contribute?

Podcasts!

This week in ECMP 355, we were to subscribe to and review two different podcasts; one for personal interest and one relating to education. I have downloaded quite a few podcasts but I’ve decided to tell you about two of them: fitmusic.com and Learning in Hand: iPods.

fitmusic.com Podcast Screenshot

fitmusic.com Podcast Screenshot

I downloaded fitmusic.com because I have been getting pretty bored with my iPod music lately when I’m at the gym. I downloaded all 137 episodes, which took a little time, but wasn’t too bad. Basically, the podcast just has various mixes, all technoish. They range from 20 minutes long up to just over an hour. I used a few different episodes (I can’t remember exactly which ones) while I ran some laps at the gym. They were a nice change to my typical music and seemed to build up as I went, pumping me up to go even longer. I was expecting many of them to be pretty much the same thing, but much to my surprise, every episode I quickly sampled was different from the others. For each episode, there is a list of the song’s title, artist and BPM. The only thing I wish they had done differently was categorized different episodes for different types of workouts (ie. Sprinting, Casual Jogging, etc.). You can check out the podcast in iTunes here

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Learning in Hand : iPods

Learning in Hand : iPods

I came across Learning in Hand: iPod podcast when I was looking for resources for my final project. Tony Vincent is the host of this podcast. Some of the episodes were in video and some were in audio form. Currently, there are 19 episodes for this podcast. I watched episodes 18 and 19. Episode 18 talked about the basics of using iPod touches. Tony bla bla 18. In episode 19, Tony takes us on a tour of Washington, DC by taking photos along the way and use them in a comic strip, all on the iPod touch. He used the Maps app, the screenshot feature, Google Earth, and a comic creation app. He shows us how to use all of these features and ultimately showed us his final product. These two episodes were really cool and showed some great ways to use iPods in a classroom. I will definitely be looking the other episodes as soon as I get an opportunity!