Wednesday, May 13, 2009


1: Sounder

I've been in skills development at a secondary school in Vancouver. Some of the students are working on a grade 9 essay. "How do I write an opening sentence?" What does "Introduce your thesis" mean? "How do I do an introduction? " "What is a summary?" They ask me how to start and how to spell certain words. "Just get your ideas out, get notes and even point form. " I explain. This is the process of writing. The students had to talk about the novel and the film and the differences between the two. "What are some differences with the film?" and "Why do you think the director did this?" I ask. "It made the dad more interesting?" she tells me. "Do you think that the writer had anything to do with the film's screenplay?" (this I explained is an adaptation for a film) "No" she tells me, as she feels that the film is too different from the book. I realized in that past few days here, how important it is to give students this one on one help with assignments such as these. I want them to be in the moment, thinking of process-ideas- and not hung up on writing their introductions.

2. The photograph

Another assignment was writing memoirs and how to get ideas for writing. One student was having trouble starting as well. He had already done the first writing prompt excercises but now was on the photograph-What first comes to mind? Is there a picture you wish you had not been in? Is there a photo of you that you treasure? Is there one that taught you something? Then, something popped out of him suddenly: "There's this guy, sortave a godson-like a son, brother, my sister introduced him and he was part of our family, and he died" There's an idea that you could expand on! I say. Do you have a photo of him? I tell him the story of this quote I heard once: "Only the dead inhabit photographs...We the living are the ghosts." (Jeffrey Eudinedes) I explain that sometimes, when people die and we are showing someone a photo of them we say things like: "This is grandpa" But if they were alive we usually say here's a photo of Jane, or Helen etc. The photo becomes an embodiment of the deceased person. When I see myself in a picture, or someone else does, its not really real-but more surreal and well....ghost-like.

He tells me some things and I tell him to write it all down. He does. I ask him to look at this picture and describe it to me. "How does he look? When was picture taken? Does this man look happy or sad? I ask about how he feels when he sees this picture: "What does this picture say to you?" He has told me how this family member was only 22. I ask him about if he ever wonders what this man would be doing, had he not died. "Do you wonder about this?" Get anything you think you feel on paper. What you know is important, and worth writing about. I see him begin and write almost a whole page, from his point of view and his memory.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just asked another student about school, who by the way, is also pretty much against video gaming too. His response to my questions regarding school: "No fun, boring." His favourite teachers of various subjects, were classes where they 'do' things or make things. He likes classes with activities, and humour and teachers who like what they do and make it fun. There are many dynamic educators making these positive changes in classrooms, and I see this as working the best for students, especially those who are not inherently academic or self-directed. I have now been in about 4 schools with alternative programmes, and I see bright students, who inherently do want to learn but have just not conformed into the regular system. I have met homeschoolers who are passionate and talented and are making music, making films, creating art, making history....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

halo 3 obsessions

Saw this documentary about teens and gaming.  It was on the Fifth Estate a couple of weeks ago.  Its fitting as my son is quite obsessed with Halo 3 and has gone to tournaments. Most of his peers now are older than him...either grade 10, 11 or 12 and beyond.  Its an interesting social world: people he met online and now sees face to face.  I can not get my head around it as I am not at all interested in playing first person shooter games, or any games for that matter.  Although, I do go online to use Facebook.  And, I do play some games:  Lexulous, World traveller...both of which are on Facebook.  I try to relate to my son and other teens who play games online.  But I also feel helpless to make him stop playing.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I saw this video from a couple of years ago-reminds me of the Michael Wesch's "A vision of students today" and here's another one of his that i love: Information/Revolution

I find myself drawn to those students who don't fit the 'norm' and march to their own beats...the 'artsy' types, the ones who fall through the cracks and are bored with school. But I am also interested in (and puzzled by) those students who get more from working independently, or are introverted and find school a place that stresses them out. I know from my own memories of school, that it was a bit stressful-esp. high school....but i also liked lots about school: i love to learn with people-I'm an 'extrovert' according to Meyer/Briggs....(but i did score once as a borderline extrovert/introvert...) I get energized from collaboration-and school is setup this way =but what about those who need to get energized from within...? What about those who hate going in front of the class but yet have to due to it being part of the curriculum?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

directed/self directed/learning

I am listening to Teri talk to her grade 9's and 10's about photography. Something she spoke about yesterday sticks in my mind. She told the students that there is a large amount of evidence proving that students still learn the best with the teacher in the room.  She is an art teacher, film teacher, photo teacher and also teaches Yearbook.  Much of her course assignments are project based, being 'art' courses....hands-on etc. However she feels that there is a time and a place for the teacher to be in front of the class....teaching.   In this case, to learn about cameras, safety and expectations.  But also, throughout the term,  students will have this face to face, with new topics.  I know that I like to learn with others. Teaching myself online is probably my least favourite thing, and while I've been forcing myself to do this better, I still favour an 'in the flesh' approach!

So gettting back to my WIKIspace with my Communication 12's,  I have received assignments from 4 of 17 students.  I also have added their regular teacher to our WIKI.  She is giving them some class time to complete assignments which I post online.  I would mainly like to see the WIKI as a discussion place, where students can share and post and modify the page if they want. I also have told them I see it being a support to their learning.  A place where they can go to find information to supplement what they are doing in class.  Unfortunately many I think, are feeling like its extra work.  (and not its off to eat i go....Teri has homemade Turkey soup)

Saturday, February 21, 2009 • View topic - wiki vs. phpbb

A lot of my finding so far, have been observing students (and teachers) while I was a TOC in various classrooms.  I found that the courses where students could direct their learning more, (drama, seemed, for obvious reason, more engaged in their learing.  With English, the curriculum seems more 'set' and more difficult to adapt in some ways.  Students get used to doing things in a particular way.  (read, write, questions, test, read...) I thought by adding to this, making some of the assighments online-or a palce to discuss in -class assighments, I could creat another classroom of sorts-a social network.  But, the students, most of whom already were using tools like Facebook, Texting, seemed to look at this 'wiki' as yet another 'job' or assignment (which is was).  I also know that given I was not the full-time teacher, many did not take my lesson seriously.  I may have more response ( I know I would have actually) with the grade 9's.  I was planning to set up a blog with them but could not get access to the lab to do this with them for one of the periods.  From all of this and what I have seen in other classrooms where it works,  I would definately use Blogs and Wikis in my classroom. It was be part of the overall curriculum in any subject I taught.  For English, I would use Blogs for discussions and reflections, and have students use their own blog for journal entries which could be posted to feedback or kept private for just teacher feedback. • View topic - wiki vs. phpbb

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