Saturday, 26 November 2011

Amazing Northern Lights!

There are an abundance of videos available that would make learning come alive for all students, and particularly students learning English or students with reading difficulties. Rather than reading about the Northern Lights, what excitement to see the Northern Lights from a real video! Enjoy this amazing video:

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.


This Video is from the site, Vimeo described by Wikipedia as "a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. It was founded by Zach Klein and Jake Lodwick in November 2004. The name Vimeo was created by co-founder Jake Lodwick and is a play on the word video, inserting the word "me" as a reference to the site's exclusive dedication to user-made video, and is also an anagram of "movie."[3] Vimeo does not allow gaming videos,[4] pornography, or anything not created by the user to be hosted on the site.[5]
The basic membership is free and includes:
High quality video
500MB/week upload space
Upload 1 HD video/week
3 albums, 1 group, 1 channel
No bandwidth or time limits
Basic video player customization
Password-protected videos
This is a great opportunity for teachers and students to not only search out great videos, but to have a place other than YouTube to post videos.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Twitterific!


Where should I begin on this topic? I have been gathering research in the past week or so in order to present Twitter to my staff as a professional learning tool. I know I have to approach this subject just so, because the world of my teachers has been full of complexities this year. With highly diverse needs in the classroom, new reporting systems to address and the beginnings of a Professional Learning Community framework, there is a "bit" of tension in the school. So the first blog I read was Mark Brumley's "Twitter for the Professional Development: Ultra Beginner Edition." His description here is a very basic, easy to understand piece that I will share with my staff. Also mentioned are Tweetdeck (which I have not yet used, but will check into).
Next, I found some rationale for joining Twitter. I know that my staff always require rationale for trying something new so this was a "must find." Peter DeWitt's article, "Why Educators Should Join Twitter" gives compelling reasons including:
1. the ability to make connections with other educators. For example, checking out the hashtag, #elemchat, will show educators from around the world posting information interesting to an elementary teacher. (I checked this out and found many, many interesting links to check out: just doing this alone is invaluable).
2. Our students today live with Twitter and Facebook. While this is "hard" work for us, we need to know the world our students live in.
3. Many organizations will share resources on Twitter that you may not find elsewhere.
4.There is so much out there in cyberspace that you could never find all of this on your own, so Twitter brings many resources to one place for professional development
5. Free PD. In this time of fiscal restraint, PD dollars are few. What a way to get PD for no money! Your administrator will love you!

Next, I found an article, "How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN" by Betty Ray This is a wonderful listing of hashtags to follow or search and chat times for a variety of topics. This is something I have yet to do but once this course is over, I may have time to do this.

Then, I found a short article, "5 Ways to Engage Others Using Twitter" by J. Robinson. This post gives suggestions of how to engage your readers without boring them with day to day details of "I went for lunch" or "I ate oatmeal for breakfast" because, really, who cares? I like the idea of answering a tweet with a question to keep the dialogue going or to post a thoughtful or provocative quote. Better yet, Robinson says to post about something controversial to get a conversation going.

Karen Bromley describes a new world of writing as "digital events that occur worldwide. They include word processing, email, blogging, twittering, and text messaging on the Internet, cell phones, smartphones, and PDA's" (2010, p. 98)

Clearly, educators need to get with the "program" so to speak and learn this fascinating world of Twitter, if not to understand the world of their students, but to glean valuable professional learning in less than 140 characters. My personal journey with Twitter has been ever so enlightening. I have learned SOOOOO much since reading my Twitter account on a regular basis. My two challenges or goals I set at this point are to:
a) get my staff on fire to set up Twitter accounts (I am presenting this on the 1st of December so I will fill you in)
b) begin to contribute to the Twitter world in order to give back a portion of what I have gained in the past months.


Bromley, K.. (2010). Picture a world without Pens, Pencils, and Paper: The Unanticipated Future of Reading and Writing. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(1), 97-108. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from CBCA Education. (Document ID:2195054781).

What a reaction!

iPad 2 w/ Smart Cover by leondel on Flickr
So I shared the video from my previous post with a grade 6 class at my school. They were blown away! They were excited that kids could really develop apps for the iPad and the iPhone and sell them. When the boy in the video shared the software available to create apps, nearly every student in the room wrote down the information and had me replay the information again so they could be sure to get it right. With just a bit of encouragement and the right tools, these students can do anything. the thought crossed my mind that perhaps we should create a space for students to work on the skills that will take them anywhere. I feel an "App Club" materializing. I am excited to see just what they will do.
Computer Skills Class By Extra Ketchup on Flickr

Saturday, 19 November 2011

What can students do?

What are our students capable of? The sky is the limit, really. I had to share this video of what one student has done to make an impact. Amazing stuff. . .


Where will you take your students? How capable will you believe they are? Do you communicate with your students the sky is the limit? Or do you simply limit them with pen and paper persecution; condemned to the tedium of past teaching methods? I am sure if Thomas Suarez was not encouraged by those around him to reach for his dreams, to take a risk, these apps would not be created. How often do we look at our learning environment with a critical inner eye? Is our environment about the children learning or is it about our way of teaching? Do we say, I am a good teacher and these students need to get used to my teaching? Or do we look for ways to meet the needs of all students in our classroom? I posted this link earlier but it has been a tough week as we have completed report cards and is a question that begs reflection regularly as we "assess" students "our way" and often forget that we may need to flex the way we assess to meet the needs of the little ones in our care.
As Will Richardson blogged,
But I’m thinking it’s time to call some of these old school habits out and ask, “are we really doing what’s best for kids, or are we doing what’s easiest for us?”
Like:
Is it better for our kids to be grouped by chronological age, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to separate out the disciplines, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to give every one of them pretty much the same curriculum, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to turn off all of their technology in school, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids that we assess everyone the same way, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids for us to decide what they should learn and how they should learn it, or is it just easier for us?
So, are we in the business of easy? Or do we want to find ways to do this education thing in ways that best serve our kids given the realities of this moment?
Just askin’.

Alternative to Animoto

Here is another option for movie making in the classroom. Stupeflix offers a free option to upload pictures from either Facebook, Flickr or Picasa. There is a wider choice of music to add to the movie and the formats for the movie, while there are only four to choose from are quite interesting. You have the option to add more text throughout the movie and to set up your own choice of transitions. I also liked the option of adding a map to show where the action took place.

Here is a sample that took me minutes to complete (it is that easy!).


I found out about this website by, you guessed it, reading a post through Google Reader. I found the post by Mark Brumley while sitting down and reading on a Saturday night. Brumley's blog offers many ideas about different Web 2.0 tools to use in the classroom and I read it regularly in order to pass ideas on to my staff

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Movement in the Classroom




In my quest to learn to embrace the use of podcasts, I found an interesting podcast on ASCD's Whole Child website. The podcast I listened to explained that students will be more successful in the classroom if they have regularly scheduled structured opportunities to play. This structured play will actually spill over in free play time. They explain that students need to be coached in the art of play so students can learn about the process to play. They continue by saying that play helps create a more playful and joyful place to be engaged and an engaged student will take more risks.
Here is the podcast link if you want to hear more:
http://whatworks.wholechildeducation.org/podcast/more-than-just-gym-integrating-movement-across-the-school-day/

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Anna's First Birthday

Anna's first birthdayVia Flickr:What? You want to sit in my princess chair?

This is my beautiful granddaughter (the first girl!) on her first birthday. I had some fun with Flickr as I continue to learn about the capacity of this tool. The edits to the original photo were done through a connection with Piknik. This is just a sample of what is able to be done with a photo. You can do some pretty high level editing should you choose to. Of course, as with most Web 2.0 tools, this is the free version and much more is capable with the Premium version. After creating a fancy portrait, there are possibilities to order prints of your creation. As a matter of fact, I posted this blog entry directly from Flickr. That is a great option.
If you run your cursor over the picture, you can read the notes that I added to help me remember the perfect day. I learned how to do this by reading the Newbie's Guide to Flickr, a blog by CNet and written by Josh Lowensohn. He states The cool thing about notes is they don't get in the way if viewers don't want them. To see them, users can just move their cursor over a picture to pull them up. You can have several different notes on the same picture, and other users can add notes to your pictures. Good note etiquette: keep notes easy to see and use by not overlapping them.
I can see this as another way to get students writing about an image presented. You could share a photo in Google.docs and have students upload the picture to a common Flickr account and have students comment on what they notice in a picture. This would be a great tool in art when you are studying specific strands of art. Again, students with special needs may feel more comfortable using the computer to comment rather than commenting in the whole class setting.
I know I will continue to play with Flickr as I discover all of the possibilities. My next foray into Web 2.0 will be to try a mashup or a Glogster. I was introduced to Glogster at a PD day last week and have read about a mashup. That will be next using Flickr. Interesting, isn't it, how you learn one thing that leads you to another thing and then another thing. . .

Friday, 11 November 2011

Mining for Gold


Perusing the web in search of information to share with staff regarding the usefulness of RSS feeds, I came across an article in Learning and Leading with Technology (March/April 2009) entitled Mining for Gold by Chris Bigenho. He states "the truth is that RSS allows [him] to pull together rapidly changing and mounting information.

Buzzle.com describes RSS as content coming to you instead of you having to go many different websites. This is exactly why I think I like this tool so much.

Bill Ferriter says it as I feel it:
Having fallen madly in love with my feed reader several years ago---who COULDN'T get behind a digital tool that automatically checks my favorite websites for new content every day and brings updates to one homepage for me

I agree wholeheartedly! I have fallen in love with my feed reader and enjoy reading the variety of blogs I am following almost as much as reading a good novel (not quite though!). I have learned so much in the past that I can't help recommending to have an RSS feed either on your computer or on your smartphone. I would never know even half of what I have learned without this tool. My next step will be to get some of my staff on board. With our focus on inclusion in our school, this is the ultimate tool to find information to support our journey either with strategies to use in the classroom or research to back up what we are doing. Until that time, I will continue to share what I have found with my staff on a regular basis and hope they appreciate and find useful the material I have found.

RSS: Really Simple Syndication or as I say, Really Super Studying!

As I read my RSS feed again tonight, I have discovered a wealth of information about inclusive classrooms. Before I discovered RSS, I would use the Google search engine to find information. Now, I have a multitude of information coming from diverse feeds. This beloved tool has become a source for professional development that is free and easy to access. I can read it on my Google Reader aggregator or on my mobile RSS feed on my iPhone. I can read it in small chunks in a non-linear fashion as needed. I can take a couple of minutes while I am waiting at the dentist or just before dinner. Although I tend to sit for more than a couple of minutes as it is so interesting.

Tonight I read Gayle Hernandez' post from the Inclusive Class. She shares her beliefs about inclusion:

· Inclusive environments do not happen by accident… They are created through careful planning and preparation.

· There are many steps to supporting all children that happen both in and out of the classroom, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I am a Kindergarten teacher and as such am blessed with the opportunity to set up successful beginnings for all families – those with designated extra needs and without.

· I begin with the tenant that each child has blessings and strengths to bring. Children are strong and capable – not weak or with inherent deficits. All have areas that will require support to move forward. The point I want to make clear here is that I do not put my students with designations such as Autism, Learning Disabilities, ESL, behaviour and the like into a ‘special box’ in my head that will separate them from our classroom learning community. They all belong and it is my job to help each one of them become successful.

· I must modify my programming to accommodate the child and his/her needs. I have a child-centered approach to teaching and learning. There is curriculum to accomplish, of course – but it is my belief that in order to help children be successful in school I need to assess where they are then come up with a ‘doable’ plan to help that child move from where they are in their learning toward curriculum mastery. For each child this plan looks a bit different – designated special needs or not!

· The families of the children I teach are the first teachers and are to be valued and included in their children’s education.

· I do not work in isolation in my classroom. I continuously draw on the expertise of those around me to help when I hit a dead end and don’t know what to do next. I don’t have all the answers and grow stronger through collaboration with school based colleagues, our resource team, district experts, and of course parents too!



Had I never begun to use my RSS feed, I would never have found this information. I would not have followed this blog on a regular basis. I feel quite comfortable using RSS now and plan on sharing it with my teachers as an alternate to going away for Professional Development in these economically challenging times. I hope they fall in love with this type of learning as I have.

More Learning about Podcasts

After completing my first podcast, I have had several discussions with teachers about where we could go with this tool. Allendale Junior High school teachers use podcasts to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning and teachers post student podcasts on their school website a) because they are proud of their students' work and b)because other students can use this information as a study aid in subsequent years. Our grade 6 teachers are looking at some of these podcasts that contain information regarding topics being studied in grade 6 (ie. democracy).
I am learning that there are great possibilities for podcasts, however, it will take time (and that is always the problem for teachers) for teachers to learn how to use this tool and decide where to implement it. At this point I ask that each teacher finds a tool that they would feel comfortable with and use it regularly to learn its value and place in the classroom.

I am still a beginner in this area but I am an advocate for its use and possibilites. I found yet another site that offers a great deal of information on podcasts that I will share with teachers at tf video. I still find it hard to listen to a podcast from start to end as this is not my learning style. However, I know there are many auditory learners in schools who would benefit. My goal, therefore, will be to promote this tool as another alternative for assessment in the k-6 classroom and secondly, I hope to add a button to our school website to share student learning with a wider audience.

Here is a great example of using podcasts in a classroom setting. These are short clips of students' favorite parts of Daily 5 in their classroom. Certainly, gives you a sense of what they are thinking and helps the teacher understand more about how they learn.
http://kidblog.org/MsBrownsClass19/


My next big step will be to play with video podcasts or vodcasts for the classroom.

Google Docs in the Classroom

The school board I work for currently uses Google Docs as a collaborative platform for students through what is called the Student Portal. Students log on either at school or at home and can work collaboratively with peers to complete a project. All students get a Gmail account in order to log on to the share site. A teacher in the district talks using Google Docs in the classroom in this YouTube video:


Will Richardson, in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (2010)describes Google Docs as having "wiki-esque features in that you can invite anyone to edit and create the document or table, and you have a history of who has done what in terms of changes (p 69). He continues by saying that such platforms teach students about working with one another, about creating community and finally how to operate in a world where "the creation of knowledge and information is more and more becoming a group effort (p 69).

William Kist, in The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age (2010) explains that Google Docs allows storage of documents so that "colleagues and friends can collaborate . . . anywhere and at any time (p 36). It is this feature that appeals to the parents in our school. Many parents take vacations during the school year and if the teacher is using Google Docs, the student on vacation can access work, even with partners, anywhere there is an internet link (supposing the student takes a computer along on vacation).

Daniel Light
states "activities that became the underpinnings of the successful
learning communities we studied were not “special projects” that the teachers assigned to their students every once in a while. They made using these tools a daily practice in their classrooms (p 11). Teachers in my school who use Google Docs on a regular basis find their students are highly successful and comfortable using this technology. Recently, students wrote letters to their parents describing their learning to a certain point. Students posted their letters and had other students give them feedback on their work. They went through the draft process sharing their work multiple times until they reached a finished product. Finally, they shared the work through the Share site with me, giving me the opportunity to offer feedback as well.

Finally, our school recently became a wireless environment so we are using a portable set of netbooks. Because the netbooks do not have a word processing program installed, it is necessary to use Google Docs. This is "an example of "cloud computing," whereby the cloud is the Internet; the user no longer needs to purchase expensive office software and install on their hard drive because everything is done "in the cloud"" (Berger and Trexler, 2010, p 111).

Our school staff is in the process of moving to using the Share site on Google Docs to share information that all staff needs access to. As well, our collaborative teams will eventually use this platform to create essential learning outcomes for curriculum and common assessments to complete both formative and summative assessments for these outcomes.

Here is a fun instructional YouTube video created by students for students:


As teachers take the risk to journey into the land of "the cloud," students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively. Working collaboratively will give all students a voice in the creative process. Students who need writing support could use a tool such as Word Q to complete the writing within Google Docs to contribute to the groupwork. Students with more difficulty writing could contribute images to the collaboration. Therefore, all students would be able to contribute using Google Docs.

Personally, I have yet to use the Google Docs with consistency. I have used Google Docs to create a survey that we posted on SchoolZone ( a platform to send parents information and reports on a regular basis), I have used information on the share site that represents work from my principal network and I have responded to student work. As our goal is to be completing our collaborative team work on Google Docs by the end of the year, I expect to become a more regular user. At this time, I am reading and learning so that I can support my teachers in their quest to become regular Google Docs users in the classroom. Only then will I feel more competent in this area. Lucky for me, there are several YouTube How-To videos to watch as well as instruction on our School Board share site, that is supported by our IT team.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I love the mountains with Flickr

I am trying to learn more about Flickr in order to introduce it to my teachers. Berger and Trexler outline several uses for Flickr in the classroom and include:
-writing prompts
-discussions around an image
-teaching categories and classification in science class
-capture school events and field trips
-create color and number sets for primary students
-create trading cards for famous people for a biography unit
-practice sequencing with a step by step record of a larger process
-virtual storytelling
-illustrate a poem or story
-art study, analysis, discussion through notes feature
-virtual portfolio using the set feature
-label diagrams
-storage site for photos to use with other applications like Big Huge Lab, Magazine Cover, Movie Poster, etc (p 149)
Adding photos to my account is super easy and I even added an app to my iPhone that allows me to upload photos to Flickr directly from my phone. I thought one of the easiest things for students to do would be to take a series of pictures to create a set. So I did that and added a set of 10 photos from the mountains. Next, I looked into sharing my set on my blog. With a simple copy of embed code, my slide show is here. Amazing, isn't it?



This would be an excellent tool that would meet the needs of all students in the classroom. Not only would students enjoy this as part of their language arts program, but would be able to use this skill over time as they moved to junior high, high school and beyond. A lifelong skill for sure.

I am finding it easier to use Flickr and I am especially happy with the iPhone App that allows me to upload to Flickr using my phone. I was confused about how to get pictures from the phone to the computer and this has made it very easy to do so. I am still learning about all that Flickr is capable of and I am sure I have only touched the "tip of the iceberg."

Saturday, 5 November 2011

If at first you don't succeed, try again. . .

Some time ago, I tried my hand at VoiceThread in order to share some opinions about inclusion. I was initially happy with the product, but when anyone tried to listen to it, the sound was incredibly quiet. So I went out and purchased a new microphone headset and low and behold, the sound has much better quality. So lesson learned. . . you need a decent microphone to record. This is something to consider as we look to create VoiceThreads at school. You need quality equipment and you can't "cheap out."
So here it is. . . a VoiceThread about inclusion WITH SOUND. I hope you enjoy.

You Tube and TED Talks

I was looking at TED talks on my phone to see if I could find something interesting to share for an inclusive classroom. There is such a vast array of talks to search through and I could have used a number to share that would have an impact on the classroom. I came across this talk by AnnMarie Thomas who talks about a unique way to teach students about electricity. She uses playdough to demonstrate circuits and conductivity. Our grade 5 classroom includes some students with significant fine motor issues and what a better way to demonstrate electricity than by using a easily managed tactile product that is easily manipulated by all students. Berger and Trexler conclude that "visual learners learn through seeing and retain information more effectively when it's presented in the form of pictures, diagrams, videos, and handouts" (p 15) So sharing this video with staff will have an impact on visual learners. As well, they state that "kinesthetic learners like to touch, manipulate, and work with what they are learning" (p 15). This video certainly offers an opportunity for kinesthetic learners to succeed.

My next step included figuring out how to share this great video. First, I thought it was great enough to share on Twitter but I couldn't Tweet right from the TED Talks site as it was currently down due to upgrades being added. So, I went to the YouTube site and searched for the video. Yippee! I found it and of course, I could Tweet about it directly using the "share" button below the video. To embed the video on this post was also exceptionally easy as YouTube provides the embed code that only needs to be cut and pasted.


Enjoy this short video that offers a great opportunity to teach using a very tactile method. See her website for more great ideas and pictures of projects students have complete.



TedTalks offer a great opportunity for some free professional development. You could enter any term in the search engine and find a talk that would be great. Here is an animated talk by Sir Ken Robinson about changing paradigms in education.



You could add video after video of talks that would be valuable for educators and parents alike. There is so much out there. The only problem is finding the time to search for it all! Richardson explains, "in early 2009, over 20 hours' worth of videos were being uploaded to YouTube.com each minute (that's right, I said minute). . .millions of photos, thousands of audio files, and countless other creations are now being added every day to the incredibly vast storehouse of information that the Web has become" (Richardson,Will, Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms, 2010, p 2). So much to see, so little time.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Make a Movie; It's fun!

So another Web 2.0 tool that would be fun to use in the classroom is Xtranormal.com. This tool gives an opportunity to the user to create an animated movie to share information. It is fairly simple to use and as the ad says, if you can type, you can make a movie. However, it used to be a free service with some options to pay for more popular characters, but now there is a cost for everything. The cost is minimal and there is an educational option that costs only $10 per month for a teacher plus $.50 per student in the class. If you were to use this service and pay for it, you would want to use it fairly often or you could purchase a month or two to complete a specific project. You may edit as many times as you wish and you can embed your videos on your blog or tweet.
Here is an example of a video that took me about an hour to create. There is room for improvement; I would play with the camera angles and add more pauses so the characters wouldn't speak so quickly, but it gives you the idea.

Peepz Movie
by: Bgiourme


I also used this for announcements at a staff meeting. We all had fun listening to who the resident experts were in the school.
Check it out:

staff meeting 1
by: Bgiourme


There are many ways to use this tool and a multitude of characters that you could use to get your information across. Students would enjoy this creative way to demonstrate their learning.

I certainly have enjoyed making these movies and teachers enjoyed the "change" from listening to me to watching a cute video with the same information. I expect I will use this again many times for different occasions. As well, one teacher in my class used this tool for students to demonstrate their knowledge last year. She had some problems with the program originally but I think the designers have ironed out some of the earlier programs.

TeachersFirst.com describes this program as easy to navigate in all subject areas and even suggests it would be a great program for students new to the English Language to add their own voice to the characters ( a feature of the program).

What do students think?

This week I interviewed a handful of students to find out what they think should be happening in the classroom in order for them to feel engaged and excited about learning. The results are very interesting and exciting at the same time. These are answers we as teachers need to take to heart. We need to listen to the children.

By the way, this project was created for two purposes: to be shared at our PD day on Monday that will focus on UDL in the bilingual classroom and for my University class. I used Audacity to record it and found it somewhat tricky to figure out. I did figure it out through trial and error. Once I created my MP3, I had to figure out how to share it. I came across a post called How to Choose a Podcast Host After reading this post, I went with Liberated Syndication or LibSyn. There is a small cost to host on this website but it was particularly easy to use.
I found the whole experience quite labor intensive and I will have to decide if I like to use this format or if I just need to get more familiar with the process. My next experiment will be with video rather than just audio.

Please enjoy the podcast and I know you will learn some new insights "out of the mouths of babes". It takes a few minutes to load, so please be patient.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/inclusion/student_opinion_about_learning.mp3

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Against Ableism

While checking the blogs I follow tonight, and stumbling along my non-linear reading journey, I came across a blog, Playing with Ideas written by Anita (I couldn't find her last name anywhere). I have made reference earlier to another blog she writes. She comments on a book called, New Directions in Education: Eliminating Ableism in Policy and Practice by Thomas Hehir. Particularly interesting statements she notes,
Hehir defines ableism as ” deeply held negative attitudes toward disability that are analogous to racism”.
Then I looked up “racism” according to Merriam-Webster racism is:
“a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”.
YIKES!! if we superimpose ableism onto racism that is frightening!!!!
In his book Hehir encourages educators to carefully consider each student individually rather than as a group of people with similar traits and capacities.
Hehir recommends that educators to consider all planning for students with disabilities through the lens of: minimizing the impact of the disability while maximizing the child’s ability to participate.

Very interesting point of view when we consider Universal Design for Learning in the classroom. These belief of Ableism runs deep in classrooms today, however, and this belief will require a massive paradigm shift for change or reform to occur. We still say that "these children" need their own classroom or contained space. Is that because students with special needs require us to move beyond easy to better?
Will Richardson blogs,
Many of those old answers are feeling less and less useful when it comes to actually developing learners out of our kids instead of workers. Yet we stick to them. And I know the reasons are many and complex (it’s what we know and what we expect schools to be,) but I think at the end of the day, we’re loathe to change because it’s just easier this way. It’s not what best for our kids, but it’s what’s easiest for us. (I know…a lot of you are thinking “there ain’t nothing easy about this,” and you’re right. Caring for kids and doing right by them educationally in whatever system we have is hard, hard work.)

But I’m thinking it’s time to call some of these old school habits out and ask, “are we really doing what’s best for kids, or are we doing what’s easiest for us?”
Like:
Is it better for our kids to be grouped by chronological age, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to separate out the disciplines, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to give every one of them pretty much the same curriculum, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids to turn off all of their technology in school, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids that we assess everyone the same way, or is it just easier for us?
Is it better for our kids for us to decide what they should learn and how they should learn it, or is it just easier for us?

You get the idea...

So, are we in the business of easy? Or do we want to find ways to do this education thing in ways that best serve our kids given the realities of this moment?



Anita also shares an interesting video called, Animal School to send the message home. She retrieved the video from http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/


What does this look like in your classroom? Easy or Better? Universal Design for Learning or Ableism? Important questions for reflection.

Which tool to use to podcast?

I looked at two different podcasting tools and will give each of them a try. The first one that showed up when I googled podcasting was Audacity. This tools seems kind of complicated but was easy to download. As well, I found this video on how to use it.


The second tool I had recommended to me was Audioboo.

Here is a video demonstrating how to use Audioboo.


I will give both a try and then use the easiest to record student opinion about how teachers can break down barriers in the classroom. I can't wait to share.