During this class we did a video conference with the Royal Tyrrell Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed this classroom experience. It was very informational yet fun, to be honest I learned more about rocks during this mini lesson than  did in a University level geography class! After this experience I am able to see many uses for this teaching strategy in my classroom. These conference lessons are set up in such a way that the content being taught directly relates to the curriculum found in the program of studies.
This particular conference discussed rocks and minerals which relates to Grade four curriculum. Other great video conferencing ideas include: Global Nomands Group, which allows you to contact with people around the world. For example when teaching about the Rwandan Genocide students could conference with people in Rwanda to discuss the culture, history, etc. I believe that video conferencing experiences such as these make the content really stand out for students and allow them to make real life connections.
 
Classroom management is one of the most important aspects to any educational setting. For effective learning to take place students must feel as though they are in a safe environment. Learning simply does not happen in threatening environments. A classroom management plan simply allows teachers to determine how they are going to make their learning area a safe productive place which fosters growth and development. It is not simply having a reward and punishment system set up; it involves developing meaningful relationships, room arrangement, as well as a clear set of expectations.
Prior to the lesson this week I had never pictured how classroom management is effective once we introduce technology into the picture. As an educator, my classroom management plan must include routines and expectations for when my students work with computers. What do I do if there are not enough computers for everyone? What do I do with the students who are very tech savvy and finish their work quickly? A broad answer to these questions involves differentiation. It is important as teachers to incorporate different teaching styles in each lesson. Perhaps there are not enough computers for the whole class; therefore, instead of partnering your students off and having them work in groups on the computer (where only one of them is really doing the work) have half the class work on something else (i.e. worksheet, etc) while the other is working on computers. By having routines such as this set in place the class may run more smoothly because everyone is busy doing  

 
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This week there was a lot of discussion about web awareness and digital citizenship. It could not have come at a better time as this past week was also anti-bullying week. Digital citizenship relates to the "unspoken rules and expectations for participating in the online world" (ED3508 LESSON 6, 2012). Often times I find people assume that we all have a sense of digital citizenship; however, all an individual needs to do is go on YouTube or Facebook and read some of the comments being made to see this is simply not true. As educators it is our job to teach digital citizenship; to make the "unspoken rules" things that are spoken of everyday in our classrooms. We must have discussions in our classrooms that revolve around being a respectful citizen both online and off. As found in a study conducted by three University of Lethbridge professors (Bright, Dyck, Adams, 2007) 35% of online rural Alberta teens have created some sort of fake identity online. Fourteen percent actually did so to make fun of people without getting in trouble for it. This statistic although may seem low to some is far too high for me. It is important for teachers to talk about these types of behaviors and explain why they are inappropriate and unacceptable. This type of lesson can be made cross curricular and be talked about in many different subject areas (language arts and social studies in particular). 
With the increasing amount of people who have access to the web on a daily basis these conversations are important in order to infuse some sort of responsibility into the children and youth of the future.



 
This week I learned about concept mapping - something I have known about for years but never really grasped. As a young student I recall being forced to concept map before I wrote stories or essays; I never particularly enjoyed this step. My maps somehow always turned into a page of doodles  and a mess of words. My struggles with concept mapping seem bizarre to me now because now I map out everything from ideas for an essay, to do lists, and plans for my free time.  However, for students like myself back in the day that could never manage to grasp the idea of a concept map the program Inspiration is a great tool. It allows students to do all their mapping on the computer in a clear, concise, and most importantly organized manner.
Another direct use of Inspiration for teachers would be to use it for unit planning.  In the very center of the map would be our main overlaying unit, for example, grade 2 science - small crawling and flying animals. Branching out from this would be individual lessons which meet the specific learning outcomes for that theme, such as, predators - what are they, who are they, what do they do. Lastly, you could branch out from this by including the form of assessment you intend to use for that particular lesson. By using Inspiration for unit planning we are provided with the ability to see a whole unit on one organized page. Imagine! 

Below is a simple example of what a unit plan may look like.
 
There is a lot of junk on the web these days, but on a brighter note, there is also a plethora of resources that are very useful for us as educators. For example, lessons plans, activity ideas, e-books, videos, and research articles to name just a few. So how do we find what is of use to us?
In this week's lesson I learned all about scholarly searches. Most of the time when I am searching for a particular thing on the web I just Google it and hope it comes up in the first couple pages Google lists... man have I been wasting my time! The lesson offered me so many helpful tips on how to do a search quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
I have always been taught 'less is more'; well this is not the case when it comes to key word searches. Instead of only typing in two or three words to search one should enter multiple. This way the results that you get back are refined and more specific to what you want.
I also learned to search unique key words, not broad ideas or concepts. For example if you are looking to discuss a certain concept found within a larger theory, search that concept not the theory itself. Some may think this is common knowledge but you would be surprised.
In conclusion, this lesson taught me how to save time when doing searches online and time is something we all need more of!

 
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This past week we learned about SMART board integration in the classroom.  The Smart board has certainly grown as a tool since the first time I ever laid eyes on one when I was in grade six. Back then no one really knew what to do with the SMART board (at least the teachers i had didn't). It was basically just treated as a new, much more touchy and fragile whiteboard. Many years later here I sit in a classroom where the teacher is actually taking attendance using the SMART board and using it as a tool for formative feedback. My how the times have changed! As we learned about our assignment for the week I was excited and enticed by the SMART board. All these neat lesson ideas kept running through my head. The interactive white board provides teachers with a plethora of ways to keep students engaged and excited. I could hardly wait to get my hands on the software.... and then I began my group project. Needless to say all the excitement drained from my body after about an hour of trying to figure out and understand the NOTEBOOK program. How can something so smart be so difficult to use. Now I am no expert with technology but I was born in the nineties and have had my fair share of practice using all different types of software; yet, for some reason the smart board program was one of the most tedious and irritating soft-wares I have used... EVER. A five minute lesson took our group close to 5 hours to complete. This certainly gave me a new appreciation for teachers who use the SMART board n a regular basis and develop their own templates from scratch. I learned many things this week and they are as follows:
1) I am now that old person who has to ask the younger 'kids' to help me with my technology
2) I have A LOT of practicing to do with the SMART board and
3) I need to sincerely thank whoever developed "SmartExchange"
This project was a challenge for me but it was one that I appreciated. I learned a lot in the five hours of playing and exploring on the notebook software and I still have so very much to learn. That is why courses such as this one are so helpful; they introduce us future educators to software and programs we have never used before and encourage us to familiarize ourselves with them prior to getting into a school.

 
This week's assignment had us create a presentation about 21st century learners. The catch was that it had to be an effective presentation. This encouraged us to do some research into what aspects and qualities made up an effective presentation.  When I was reading up on these aspects I could not help thinking that they were farily common sense if you put yourself in your audience's shoes. If you were the one watching the presentation what would you want to see. Some of the most common themes which came up were: clarity, simplicity - less is more, and brevity. In other words, Don't add too many images or have too much text on a slide. Avoid overwhelming the audience!
As I thought about these things I began to realize that clearly they are not common sense. My evidence? 6 years of University presentations, some which have been phenomenal, others that were painful to sit through. As future educators it is so important to know how to present your material in an effective and pleasant matter. Also I think it is important to acknowledge that sometimes a powerpoint presentation will not be the most effective way to convey your lesson. We must be comfortable with many different teaching strategies to ensure we engage all students.
 
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In the past few years the internet phenomena of blogging has really taken off. In the beginning people didn't seem to see much use in it and assumed it was just a waste of time; however, recently the tables have turned and people are beginning to use it in their professions. Many people ask - Does blogging have a place in the classroom? As an aspiring teacher my response would be absolutely.  Blogging acts as a great way to get students engaged. How? Well, in order to blog one must access the internet which is, lets face it, a tool all students love to use. Furthermore, it encourages students to reflect on what they have learned so far and offer their thoughts, opinions, and experiences in a very non-threatening way. Students may fing it less intimidated to share these things over a blog versus having a classroom discussion which opens up the possibility of direct peer criticism.
Moreover, blogging is not just helpful for the students. It is also a helpful tool for teachers to use to stay in touch with parents and keep them up to date. A teacher can use a blog to inform parents as to what was taught that day, what homework was given, and what assignments the students are currently working on. This not only saves time for the teacher but as well for the parents. Instead of making the dreaded call to the teacher to see what their child has been working on the parents/guardians can simply go online and check. Furthermore, it establishes a strong relationship between teacher-parent without having to make constant phone calls home or update homework hotline.
If used carefully and correctly blogging is a great classsroom tool to build relationships, encourage reflection, and foster exploration.



Picture found on www.misskayt