Our Learning Circle is for supporting one another in our common goal to meaningfully integrate technology in our classrooms by sharing ideas, lessons, challenges, and successes, especially for making best use of our Interactive Whiteboards.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SMART arguments... it's the teacher, not the tool!

An article from 'StarMatica' refuting the arguments often waged against the use of SmartBoards in the classroom. Some sound reasoning behind the effective use of SmartBoards. Love the comic!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Whiteboard Challenge 2010

The challenge will be launched in June and involves participants creating videos and / or screencasts of some of the great things they are doing with their IWB to share with teachers and students across the globe.
The aim is to improve the use of Interactive Whiteboards in classrooms around the world. Great way to connect with others! It might be a good goal for us to begin September!! Are you in??????

Final Meeting of the Year...

It was great to see many of you out to our meeting on Thursday at Lazo!! A big thanks to Lynn & Jann for hosting. For those of you who were unable to make it, we missed you and hope you will take a moment to complete the survey for our Partnership Project. This will provide us with some data, as well as some direction for where we might go next?

As always, we ran out of time on Thursday to get to everything we had hoped to--sorry about that! But many of you had the opportunity to explore the Ning, blog, and Diigo, with some guidance from those who are already users. We have some plans for how to share lessons and it sounds like there is interest in continuing to meet next year.

That said, please go to the Survey Monkey survey link below to provide more specific feedback...

We need you to complete the survey by next Friday, May 7th AT THE LATESt!!

Also, please find attached the Professional Competency assessment--on page 56 of this PDF! This was handed out at the meeting, but in case you lost it or were absent:

This was the self-assessment we completed in the Fall. Please repeat this now, to give us some comparison of how our competencies have changed over the year. You don't need to include your name. But please only do this now, if you did it in the fall. Remember, you are simply considering yourself when completing this rubric. It is a self-assessment! It needs to be completed and sent via interschool mail to Michelle Honeysett by Friday, May 7th, AT THE LATEST!!

Thanks for your help with wrapping up the Partnership Project. We'll look forward to seeing the results and how our competencies and comfort levels have changed over the course of our time together!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Agenda for April 29th Meeting

Looking forward to seeing you this Thursday, Apr. 29th at Lazo... This is our final meeting before the Partnership Projects Showcase.

It will be a last chance to explore, discuss, and solidify some of the communication and collaboration tools we set up this year. Jaki has been playing with the possibilities of a Wiki for our uploads.

We will also spend a little more time playing on the boards, this time in grade groupings, so please bring your favourite grade-specific (we'll split into Primary or Intermediate) resources, lessons, or ideas to share.

Alissa suggested sharing some ideas around Classroom Management strategies for using the SmartBoards effectively in our classrooms, so we'll have some discussion regarding your ideas around this always important topic as well.

We will close the afternoon with some reflection on how the Learning Circle worked this year. What worked? What didn't? What's next? :-)

And of course snacks & doorprizes...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wishes for our April Meeting?

As we approach our final meetings before the Partnerships showcase, what would you like to see us focus on in April?

Have we done what we set out to do? What else might we do to help ourselves become more comfortable with the effective integration of technology, specifically SmartBoards, in our classrooms?

Weigh in by leaving some comments here...

March=Blooming & Branching Out... Elluminate, Diigo, RSS, and time to play!!!

Dear Learning Circle friends... Thanks to all who made it out to our March meeting on Monday. Your enthusiasm and willingness to experiment, engage, and explore are admirable!

We were so lucky to tap into Jan's PLN and experience an Elluminate session with Lesley and Brian, two enthusiastic educators with unmeasureable enthusiasm and expertise in technology.

The purpose of this virtual rendevous was threefold: to demonstrate the power of PLNs, to highlight the importance of connection with other educators outside of our schools and district, and to shed some light on how to manage the "stuff" of technology integration. Technology can be overwhelming at the best of times and Lesley and Brian introduced us to some tools and techniques to help us better manage our forays into technology integration.

First, Brian gave us an enthusaistic "tour" of Elluminate, which is a real time virtual classroom. Then, Lesley shed some light on the Diigo tools and some of the advantages of social bookmarking. Finally, Brian explained RSS feeds and the use of Google Reader to help manage blog subscriptions. If you missed out on the meeting, or would like to revisit the presentation by these tech experts, please visit the archived Elluminate Session.

After our Elluminate-ing experience, we broke off into comfort level grouping to share SmartBoard lessons, tips, and tools. Some of us also explored our Diigo group further and there was much discussion about the use of RSS feeds, too. Working in small groups allowed time to explore challenges, successes, and questions regarding effective tech integration.

We ran out of time to come together at the end of our meeting for doorpirze draws, so I put our names in a hat on Tuesday and am happy to announce the winners: Julia (wins the technology carry case) and Jan (wins the cordless mouse).

The feedback received so far from Monday's meeting has been very positive. If you have any further comments about our March gathering, please feel free to email Michelle or comment here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fri. Feb. 26: More time to explore... and enter the draw!

As the intention of tonight's Virtual Meeting was to help folks feel more comfortable with the blog and Diigo sites, and we have received some feedback that folks would like more time to explore, we are extending the 'door prize' entry deadline.... and giving everyone until the end of the week to contribute! Our desire is for this to be a useful experience not an exercise in frustration or panic. :-)

However, for those of you who did take time, energy, and perseverance to contribute tonight, do not fret... we noticed your enthusiastic efforts and we have TWO EXTRA door prize entries for you! It was exciting to see people reaching out of their comfort zones tonight... and I was especially glad to see a few folks request help and support, too!

For those who were unable to join us tonight, I encourage you to set aside a little time to explore and connect before Friday, Feb. 26th. If you need help, please just ask. :-)

First Time Blogger

Well, the power of potentially winning a draw prize is strong as here I am at 10pm writing my first blog post! I love that I have joined this group since now everytime I use my Smartboard I ask myself if there is something I can do to make this lesson or activity interactive.

LOVE: Notebook software - such a great way to organize my thoughts, activities, and lesson sequence. That you guys just told me to use Diigo to keep track of my websites and I didn't have to overanalyze the choices. How you can organize files electronically. The variety that a projector and interactive whiteboard provide. That I've got a few games to try with my class and as CST by being part of this group.

DON'T LOVE (having a hard time saying hate): word processing on Notebook is not easy for me. I wish I could easily save publisher or word document on notebook. Any advice for me? That I am getting so sidetracked with all the potential programs. For example, I am like the idea of OneNote, but don't want too many organization systems. Think I will just stick to Notebook for now.

WISH: for an extra hour to watch Alec Couros (sp?) video from prod day. Anyone want to have a glass of wine and watch this sometime soon?

To Smartboard or not to Smartboard - Ramblings...

One difficulty I know many of us face is the lack of access to smartboards. For the beginning of this year I had a smartboard in my class which I became very accustomed to!! I used it most for those teachable moments, but also managed to create some neat lessons. My goal was to use the board more interactively with my students.

Now, since moving schools, I am feeling a bit lost without my old friend the smartboard. I feel my lessons don't quite have that same "pop!" So often, I find myself thinking, "I miss my smartboard"......Are we developing too much of a reliance on them?? What happens when we move on to a land of no smartboards?? Will job competition now be based on what school has the most access to the boards???

I found there is a HUGE learning curve to learn this technology and it is very difficult with no or little access. How can we get around this??? It is hard to learn something if we cannot apply it within a reasonable timeframe. I have found having the software at home on my computer has been a tremendous help as it allows me to play and build lesson plans. However, I am also finding it hard to take the time to do this as I cannot use these lesson plans now.....hmmmm.

Bottom line: Smartboards are fun and a great teaching tool.....I just wish we all had them!!


Not being overly technologically savvy, I am getting frustrated with trying to learn all these new sites and technology and buzz words and and and that are popping up. Where are people finding the time figure these out, or does it come just naturally! I feel as though I would need to be on the computer 24/7 to figure this out and I'm already on the computer about 18/7! I know once I learn it will come so easy and I will kick myself for not knowing it right away.
So my questions, where do people find the time, and are we being overrun with new technologies and things? Is there not one site or source that can combine and serve all our needs instead of having 50 zillion accounts and places to check!!
ps - please forgive me for sounding pessimistic.....I am simply only overwhelmed!! Am I alone in this plight?

SmartBoard...The Good, Bad and Ugly

Some days my SmartBoard isn't so smart...or maybe it is the operator...I'm never quite sure...
Anyway, to make sure I'm not alone I thought it would be great if we could post some of our successes and challenges with the board.
Being a Primary Teacher here are some of my experiences in a two stars and a wish format ;-)
I find the board very user friendly. One of my biggest feelings of success has come from how I can quickly fire up the laptop/projector/ and board and be ready to go in minutes (barring any technology snags e.g. burned out projector bulb, crashing laptop, etc.)

I love how the SmartBoard has livened up my lessons. My group can really only last with me being the "one woman show" for 10 minutes. Being able to talk, shift gears to add visuals, sounds, kinesthetic opportunities and then talk some more ;-) has been fantastic.

WISH! I still struggle with trying to have too many things open at once. When I have the internet, Notebook, sound clips etc. all open I still get lost...I wish I could become proficient enough that I look like Vanna up there...instead...I've embraced the fact that it is an opportunity for problem solving for the kids..."Mrs. Pratt! You lost the picture! There it is! Right at the bottom!" etc. ;-)

Please! Share your thoughts, feelings, experiences with us all!

Tool Talk... Starting us off! P.S. This post took me 5 minutes!

One of the greatest things about the Notebook 10 software is all the useful tools and ready-made templates available.

My new favourite tool is the 'blind', a handy icon on the top toolbar, between the 'red x' for deleting and the 'full page' icon. The 'blind' allows you to cover the page and then reveal it at your leisure, on the click of a button.

I've been using the 'blind' to play estimation games with my grade 1/2's. Before class, I place a bunch of shapes / pictures on a new Notebook page. Then cover with the 'blind'. At the start of the lesson, I ask my kids to watch closely while I open the 'blind', to see if they can estimate (more than 50? or less than 50?). I only keep the page revealed for a short moment before clicking on the 'blind' again. We share our estimates. Then I reveal a second time and circle 10 of the shapes / pictures on the page. The kids then have another moment to revise their estimate (more than 50? or less than 50?). After we share our final estimates, I tell them which estimate is closer and we consider how grouping 10's helps us.

I think it is funny that I only discovered 'the blind' from one of our learning circle members at our last meeting, especially considering it is part of the main tool bar! It is funny what you can miss even when you've been using Notebook for a while!

What tools or templates do you find most useful in your Notebook Software?? And how do you use them?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February Virtual Meeting

Welcome to the Virtual Meeting...

The beauty of a virtual meeting like this, is that you can't really be late for it and you can be super early if you want (like starting tonight), since you can join in the meeting at any point that works for you!

It may also be the only meeting to which you can come to in your p.j.'s sporting a glass of wine in hand! As for the snacks and refreshments, you'll have to provide those for yourselves! ;-) ... (But of course, that is also a bonus, as it means no one will know if you opt for the wine and unhealthy snacks! ;-)

The idea of the Virtual Meeting challenges each of us:

  • To explore another way to connect and communicate, by creating a new post or commenting on someone else's post on our blog.
  • To share resources, by joining diigo and adding links to our diigo group.
Of course, we will not forego the doorprizes, just because we are meeting virtually. In fact, your participation in the virtual meeting will be the one chance to give yourself an advantage at winning a doorprize (this time, we have a copy of the book, "Integrating Literacy and Technology: Effective Practice for Grades K-6 " , as well as a chance at winning your very own cordless mouse).

So how to gain your advantage??? Well, your name will be entered into the draw for each of the virtual meeting challenges you take on. If you create a new post on the blog, your name will be entered! If you comment on someone else's post on the blog, your name will be entered! If you join diigo and add a link to our diigo group, your name will be entered! So, the more you participate, the better!

January Meeting

At our second meeting in January, we explored the question of "Why SmartBoards?" We considered what makes them a useful tool for effective integration.

We had some fun with the problem statements that are sometimes made by those opposed to the use of SmartBoards in the classroom. Formulating responses to these overstated problems helped us to come up with our own reasoning and arguments for the use of these tools. The problem statements and some of our responses can be viewed in this SlideShare presentation.

We didn't have as much time for sharing as we had hoped, but a few highlights included:
Also, doorprizes went to: Sherry, who won the Bluetooth handsfree device for her phone, and to Alissa, who won the earbuds for her iPod. Congratulations, ladies! Next time, we will be sure to have less healthy food and more 'playtime' on the boards!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

December Meeting

At our first meeting in December, we explored our personal definitions and understanding of effective technology integration.

Here is a link to a SlideShare show of the PowerPoint from our meeting. This is the self assessment we will each complete. As well two videos we viewed, one called Learning to Change and Changing to Learn , and the other called Teaching Teachers to Teach in the 21st Century.

We considered the successes and challenges of utilizing our SmartBoards effectively. We also discussed the purpose and goals of our learning circle. This was an extremely positive and motivating start to our time together.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Get Your Feet Wet...

At our next meeting, on Jan. 28th, we will be discussing "Why Interactive Whiteboards?" If you feel comfortable beginning some conversation here, please add a comment below in response to the question: Why do you feel Interactive Whiteboards are a useful tool for meaningfully integrating technology in our classrooms?