Friday, 26 October 2012

Time, where did you go?

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted on this blog in a long embarrassingly long time.  Long enough that other staff members are starting to mock my created, but never updated blog.

What this comes down to is time, or more specifically, my lack of free time.  I am in complete awe of people who update their blogs regularly, network with other educational colleagues around the world, share their knowledge on twitter, chat away in the staff room about what they are learning, oh and of course teach a full course load, while changing, updating, improving and innovating amongst those courses.  And these are just the facets of their life that revolve around teaching!

In this modern age of infinite information at our fingertips, it's a challenge to decipher the relevance of it all.  While I am regularly reading, learning and expanding my knowledge I have also started to take the first steps of incorporating new things into my teaching.  However I have to remember that the final part is self reflection and sharing.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Wifi in the World!

     Now the WIFI had been treating me well, attendance, emails, basic research, I was impressed.  However the true test was when my students discovered the unlocked WIFI.  This discovery happened about 8 seconds after they arrived in the room on the first morning the WIFI was operational.
     I estimated that approximately 50% of my students had access to some sort of wireless device that they regularly brought to class.  So I planned a lesson where about 50% of students would need to do some in class research.  It was not necessary, and if unable to get online they would not suffer academically but I wanted to see where two of my English 10 classes sat in regards to wireless handheld devices.

     Students were divided into groups of 2 (the partner they were sitting with) and were given a poetic form (Epic, Haiku, Balled, etc.).  While a basic definition was provided to all students, the assignment was that they were instructed to ‘teach’ the rest of the class about their assigned form.  This meant coming up with a correct definition, creating or borrowing a correctly cited source from online, and explaining the purpose of their poetic form.  While all of this could be done without the internet, some types were more challenging and the internet was a welcome resource.  My estimate that 50% had wireless access was pretty accurate, and the group presentations went off without a hitch.

     However I am getting ahead of myself.  I think the most startling moment was when I told the students to look up the information online.  There was a visible pause where they all just sort of looked at me, unsure if they were truly supposed to take their devices out or not.  Even when walking around checking on the progress of the various groups it was funny and a little troubling to see that they still operated their wireless devices from a lowered position under the tables, where they are used to trying to covertly access information. 

     What I really liked about this lesson was the exposure students received to various types of poems, especially the famous examples, and the fact that I saw numerous groups lending wireless devices to other groups to check a definition, or look for a source. 

     Overall the WIFI proved to me on this day that it was an invaluable tool, with a much broader reach than simply doing attendance.

Friday, 10 February 2012


Our school got WIFI in October.  And not just your standard WIFI but ‘let’s see how hard we can push this, non password resitriced wifi’.  Again this was exciting, and again portable city was not going to be included.  Can’t blame them, it kind of made sense, only 4 portables (aka classrooms) outside, sounds like a wiring nightmare.  While others were discussing the brilliance of this new tool I was creating more overhead transparencies. 
          The installation school wide took a couple of days, the emails were informative, but I brushed them all off, at least not having any classroom disruptions was one bonus.  Until the knock on my door…..where two lovely folks entered with a modem, some cords and tools and told me they were there to install the WIFI! While my Socials 10 class continued working in groups, these welcome souls efficiently installed my WIFI….in the portable! 

       Now, I was skeptical.  They removed my wired connection, and said not to worry that the wireless would be up shortly.  Effectively  leaving me without any sort of connection I defaulted to AHHH I’m never going to have internet in my portable again!  Now this may sound irrational, but I had just taught at a school where NONE of their 8 portables had ANY kind of internet connection, wired or not!  I calmed myself and when nothing had happened at the end of the day I thought that maybe I just needed more patience.  I was fully prepared for this to be a ‘we tried to get it out there but it just isn’t working’ scenario.
     When I arrived to work the next day I started up the computer early, thinking that I would need to hustle inside to check my morning emails.  While the computer whirled and wooed I set my usual stuff up for the day only to notice a new little blinking notification on my computer….not only was I connected to the WIFI but the single was <gulp> strong! 

Tech Nightmares

Up until October 2011 tech was a far away dream in my classroom.  While I use technology regularly in my personal life (computers, cell phones, ipod,  twitter etc) I had never been at a school where technology was feasibly accessible.  Sure I could book a projector (for one class) and then spend half of that class trying to hook it up properly, or a could book a mobile lab, where more than half of the computers would have dead batteries, or I could take my class down to a computer lab where they couldn’t remember their passwords from grade 8.  

          So prior to this September I was a cynic about technology in the classroom, wait I should rephrase that, technology in MY classroom.  I had an old school projector, I had my overheads, and my little world worked perfectly.

         Then I received a permanent job at a wonderful secondary school in Surrey.  When I arrived for the summer pro D in August I already knew this school had a different take on technology.  During the presentation teachers were tweeting!  They had not only heard of Twitter, but were actively using it! #OMGimhome!   I was impressed, but also fell back into my regular ‘this will never apply to me’ stance as I was placed outside in portable 3, a spacious, well lit lot in #portablecity. 
Now I’m not slagging portables, there are benefits (hello running around outside, getting to watch the wildlife and always knowing exactly what the weather is doing) but all the glorious technology I had seen during the summer, and kept hearing about was all found a 4 minute, and one big hill walk away, and I was back to the reliable overhead transparencies!