It has been a long time since I last blogged and when I checked my blog I realized that that last time I wrote on this page was in 2010! Where did the time go and what happened???? At the time I was busy in my classroom of grade fives and sixes, had many collaborative projects running and was actively using technology in my classroom. I think I got wrapped up in my little world and started to forget about the world around me.

Since my last blog post I have changed schools and changed roles within the school. Last year I moved to George Lee School and started working as a Learning Resource Teacher. My school environment is quite different. My previous school had about 100 students and was a community school with a high First Nations population. My current school has just under 400 students and has a high EAL population. I am fortunate to hear a multitude of languages and accents along with learning about many cultures. This year I have taken on the role as acting vice-principal  along with continuing to work as a Learning Resource Teacher.

I have also traveled to Kenya and Tanzania the last three summers to work with Education Beyond Borders.   

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

EBB Workshops in Tanzania

I was fortunate to work with many wonderful teachers as we shared ideas about project based and inquiry learning, differentiation, collaboration and working with professional learning clusters. During my first summer I worked in the GIlgil area about 100 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, the second year I worked in the Mount Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania along with the GIlgil area while the third year I concentrated my work with EBB in Tanzania. All of my experiences were extremely rewarding and taught me so many things about myself as a teacher, person and world citizen.

I am starting to feel the need to re-connect to my professional colleagues that I have worked with around the world through blogging and twitter. As well, I am considering planning some collaborative learning projects for students this year. With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi it might be time to start planning on project for that.

It’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to reading blog posts, tweets and articles from my many colleagues around the world.

To filter or not to filter? That appears to be a big question for school divisions. My own opinion is that we don’t filter because I find it an insult that someone in an IT department is going to make teaching decisions for me. I think that my professional judgement and education should allow me some decision making power and the respect to know how to teach my students to be digitally responsible. If I don’t teach them who is going to?

Google Australia posted on their blog concerns about an Australian government proposal to implement filtering in all schools:
“Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree. Google, like many other Internet companies, has a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material and we filter out this content from our search results. But moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. ”

Google Australia goes on to say “Our view is that online safety should focus on user education…” which are exactly my feelings. “The government has committed to important cybersafety education and engagement programs and yesterday announced additional measures that we welcome.”

On ConnectSafely’s blog Anne Collier states “Many young people are using ‘proxy servers’ to get round their schools’ internet security systems, ” the BBC reports, adding that students’ use of these free school-filtering workarounds is on the rise. “It sounds like an obscure, techy area of computing that only geeks would know about. But when we asked pupils in one secondary school classroom who had heard of proxy servers, every hand went up.” I started looking into proxy servers and found blog posts that instructed students how to bypass school filters and for a step by step  directions you only have to look as far as YouTube.

So, our school divisions set up all of these filters and students start a quest to find a way to work around them. It makes me wonder what exactly we’re teaching here. Collier goes on to say “Instead, schools should embrace and teach with these devices (cellphones etc.) and technologies so students can learn and practice wise use…That helps develop the 24/7 cognitive “filter” in their heads that improves with practice and is as flexible as their use of technology is…” And if all else fails you can insert images or graphics on your blogs and wikis to truly express how you feel.

On  Chris Matyszczyk’s blog Technically Incorrect he pokes fun at filters with this blog” School Web Filters Force Beaver into Hibernation.” Matyszczyk goes on to explain that the Canadian Natural History’s magazine “The Beaver” ,established in 1920, has
run into problems with school filters. “… web and spam filters, especially the robust ones employed by schools to keep their students from reading about naked bodies and manual exercise, are rejecting The Beaver’s hardy historical e-mails and other communications.” Now, doesn’t this seem silly?

On the blog Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, Christine C. poses the question “Are school content filters keeping you and your students from learning and sharing information?” Christine discusses the problems that teachers and students are having when their access to social media is blocked. Christine also introduces ” Buffy Hamilton, a high school librarian in Canton, Ga., who argues that media specialists should try to overcome digital roadblocks by presenting reasoned and well-resourced arguments.” Hamilton shares her thoughts on Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering on slideshare.

I think Will Richardson sums up my feelings about filtering in schools “It insults the profession to not at the very least provide desktop overrides for teachers when they bump up against a filtered site. Have a policy in place to deal with incidents where teachers make poor choices if that’s what the concern is.”

I’m playing in the sand with some new web tools. I’ve been frustrated by how difficult it has been to embed different media into my blog posts. I decided to try one of the compatible medias to see how easy it would be. I chose PollDaddy because I have never used a poll on a blog before. I also was involved in a discussion  earlier in the week about the value of polls for classroom data collection and math literacy. I can see how my class could design polls or surveys, collect data then graph the results. I think the results could lead to some rich learning and discussions.

I created a PollDaddy account, created a poll and saved it. I then opened up a new post and chose “create a poll” from the upload/insert options. One of my options was to link to my PollDaddy account and then…ta da…I had a poll. Well, at least I think so because I haven’t published it yet so I really don’t know if it is embedded in the post. Wish me luck and if you read this post please respond to my poll.

I checked and it worked! I showed my husband and he said I should find out who everyone thinks is going to the gold medal for Men’s Hockey. I made a poll and put it on my class blog for my students to vote on. I’m adding it here because I used a very cool background, plus I want to see what everyone thinks.

We’ve just finished working on a collaborative project following the Iditarod Trail Dog Race. The project was tied to our Social Studies, Science and Language Arts curriculum. This is the second year of the collaboration with the project beginning in early February . Students worked with partners in classrooms in the United States and Canada. There were around 150 students working together in ten groups. The students worked on background assignments: history, weather, geography and musher information for four weeks prior to the race starting. Once the race began, the first Saturday in March, the students followed their mushers and wrote blog posts about their mushers progress in the race.

Last of the Iditarod <!– 03/18 –>
Lance Mackey won the Iditarod race. And he has a six to 8 houre lead.Our guy Mitch Seavey is at Shaktoolik and so far he is in 5th.

Iditarod <!– 03/10 –>
Today for the Iditarod my musher Ken Anderson and he is now in 18th place and he now has 15 dogs on his sled.He is at acheckpoint his average speed is 6.05.Stay tuned for more info.

The feedback from the project was great.

What I really liked in the 2009 Iditarod sled dog race was that I learned about Alaska. Did you know that the biggest volcano in Alaska is called Redoubt? Jeff King came in 12th place and has had better runs. What was your favourite part of the 2009 Iditarod sled dog race? 0kiwifruit0
In this year`s iditarod project I learned that you have to look after your dogs.Also you have to look after your sleds because when Dede broke her sled.I also learned that Lance Mackey won 3 times in a row. googlyeyes

In this years Iditarod project I learned about Balto.I also learned about the weather in Alaska.Then I learned about the trail in Alaska . I learned about that it takes a long time from Anchorage to Nome.This is what I learned about the IditarodBabyBash

What I learned from the Iditarod race is that you all was have to feed your dogs first before you eat. The musher get water by digging a hole in the snow so you keen put a barole in the hole. Then they put snow in the barole to make the snow melt and they made water. When the musher gets close the the other musher they have to say “trale”. When a musher sees a moose in there way they can kill the moose or scare it away. What I like about the Iditarod is the place’s that the musher are in because when a musher is in 40th place and two days go by and that musher is in 3th place it so neat how fast they can go.

what I learned about the iditarod

What I learned about the iditarod was that its not all about who comes in first. It’s out having fun,doing something you and old friends can do together. The iditarod is alot about sportsmanship. What thrilled me the most was how helpful the people of the iditarod are when something happens out on the trail. The most thrilling thing I saw on the iditarod was how everyone helped each other like when some one fell asleep on the trail when they were still moving and fell off there sled, they woke up when they hit but there dogs werent stopping, they ran to catch them but endead up catching a ride with another racer. This is what I learned about the iditarod.

I’m already looking forward to working on the project next year. I’m glad the students enjoyed working on and learning about the Iditarod Trail Dog Race.

I’m a middle years teacher in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I was told about the Comment Challenge by Kim Cofino on Twitter. As soon as I heard about the challenge I wanted to be part of it and I wanted my class to be involved. My quest this year has been to connect my students and myself to the world. I want all of us to become global citizens and be aware of the world around us. Because I’m connected as an educator I’m able to provide my students with the ability to connect with other students around the globe.

As I checked the list of participants there were many names I recognized. The following names are people that I’ve communicated with through classblogmeister. I’ve exchanged emails with Jane Loweand Kathy Rice. I’ve participated in many on-line discussions with Lisa Parisi. and worked on collaborative projects with Barbara Bashour. I’m also involved in a global collaborative writing project called MS1001 Tales with Ann Oro along with Jo McLeay and Anne Mirtschin.

Sharon Peters was a presenter for my last grad class and Cindy Seibel was another student in the class. Many of the same people are part of my Twitter network.

Through these many connections I’m able to provide opportunities for my students to communicate with other students around the globe. My students are becoming active participants in the student comment challenge which I hope will encourage them to spend as much time writing comments as they write blog posts. I also hope that they, like me, find new blogs to read, enjoy and question in our ongoing challenge to become global citizens.