Falling off the Wagon and Late Reflections

Well, I have fallen off the bandwagon. I have not been doing very much in the means of #etmooc lately and it actually makes me quite sad. I guess marking finals and semester turn-around will do that to you. Luckily, I have next week off for Winter Break!!

I have not reflected on the last couple of sessions that I “attended” but I fell that now would still be a good time. The last session I attended was “Advanced Blogging” with Sue Waters and during the session, I learned that I apparently have the skills to be an advanced blogger…minus the ability to remember to actually sign on and write something. For this, I have to thank Alec Couros and the ECMP 355 course that I took my very first semester at the University of Regina.

This class was where my love for technology really started. Although I have been a bit of a come-and-go user of most things we were exposed to, this is where I started on Twitter, blogging, wikis, and all sorts of other digital media. I even made some pretty cheesy videos back then. Since then, I would like to say that  I have grown in my use of technology and (hope) that I use it more effectively.

Information Overload!

Last night, I participated in my first ever Twitter chat. My opinion: it was…..to be nice….different.

I found it really hard to follow what was going on and the general thoughts of the threads that were being posted and, as a result, did not post anything to the chat (but I did either retweet or favourite one comment….it was so busy I can’t even remember which I did!). I understand that maybe next time I will have to use something like Tweetdeck along with other tools like Tweetchat.com (which I was using to follow the conversation) to help me process the information.

Creative Commons Flickr image from Will Lion

Creative Commons Flickr image from Will Lion

Being overwhelmed by all of the information thrown at me was a very humbling experience. I usually pride myself in being able to multitask and being rather good at it but, last night, that ability was completely thrown out the window! At the same time,  I believe that this is a great thing to experience as a teacher as it allows us to be put in the shoes of our students. Some of our students experience this feeling of information overload in our classes everyday and it is sometimes hard for us to put ourselves in their shoes and realize why they are getting frustrated and shut down. I know that during #etmchat I definitely shut down and, even though I was pretending to pay attention to the feed for a while, I found myself thinking that “this is too much” and “I’m already so far behind, I might as well just give up now and save some of my sanity”. This feeling reminds me of a post I made on a blog I did for one of my university classes (which I haven’t posted to in a VERY long time) where I had the feeling of struggle in one of my university math courses (I believe it was on group theory….yuck!!)

This leads me to two new goals for myself to get out #etmooc:

1) By the end of the course, I would like to be able to feel comfortable and participate in a Twitter chat.

2) Learn ways to help my students cope with information overload and be able to tackle information when it comes to them, at several different paces. (Maybe not QUITE as fast as a Twitter chat!!)

#etmooc Week 2: Connected Learning

I would like to start this post by thanking the anonymous person who finally allowed me to access Blackboard Collaborate while on my school’s network so that  I was able to attend the session today. Thank you whoever you are at PVSD head office!!

Alec asked some questions as prompts for blog posts on Connected learning and some of them are questions that I struggle with everyday.

Is it possible for our classrooms and institutions to support this kind of learning? If so, how?

Speaking from the perspective of my current school, this is not possible. We struggle to ensure that our students have access to computers for the simple things like typing their assignment or doing basic research and, on any given day, many of our desktops, laptops and netbooks are “out of order”. Add the fact that a YouTube video takes a minimum of 5 minutes to load and has a 50-50 chance of freezing in one spot for the rest of the day with no progress to be seen, using technology is sometimes extremely frustrating here.

I have thought about doing a flipped classroom, trying it out anyways, but again I am thwarted by living in rural Saskatchewan where the internet offered to residents will go down for days or even weeks with no warning or explanation.

And so I am stuck, and done ranting. I hope that one day (in the near future preferably) our classrooms and the technology that they are equipped with will allow for a connected learning network to be developed for all my students as I have seen first-hand how it engages and helps students understand. Last year I was fortunate enough to travel to Europe with some of my students to participate in the 95th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge celebration as well as “The Great Escape” tour offered through EF Tours. As part of the prep-work the students read a book by a holocaust survivor and were able to ask her questions and talk to her over Skype, making the visit to Theresienstadt more meaningful as they had a connection to Vera and her experiences while she was there.

Introduction to Me!

I did have full intents of making a video or some other interactive introduction however, with finals coming up, my time has been stretched thin and I am left with just text and picture. So, here it is! (You can also find this same info under the “About Me” tab.)

Welcome to my blog! My name is Kara Shaw and I am currently residing in Kipling, SK. I have been teaching for (just about) 2 years at Kipling School which is a K-12 school. I primarily teach math and history courses but this year have also been given the task of teaching grade 10 Accounting, a challenge that has been interesting as I have never taken an Accounting course so it has definitely been a learning curve!

Our school mascot is the Magyar which is a Hungarian warrior.

I have created this blog as I am participating in #etmooc a massive online collaboration of educators and those who are interested in technology. I am a huge advocate of using technology in the classroom. I have an active Twitter account, Wikispace, and Facebook page that I use to keep my students up to date on what is going on in the classroom as well as I use Remind101 on a regular basis to send out reminders (something that has really caught on with my students). I am also a certified SMART Notebook Trainer, a course that I completed in the fall. My goal in participating in #etmooc is to learn how to better integrate technologies into the classroom as well as

I was born in Calgary, AB and moved to Balgonie with my family in 1996 where I attended Greenall High School, the same high school my mom had attended. I was very involved during high school, participating in volleyball, track and SLC. It was here that I met several teachers who inspired me to pursue a career in teaching.

Greenall High School, Balgonie, SK

I attended the University of Regina and convocated in April 2010 from the Math Education program and took a maternity leave position in Kipling, I town I had never been to. Since then, my contract was extended and this year I got a permanent contract so I am here for a while! I coach the Sr. Boys volleyball team, am a co-coach for the track team and help with SLC at our school so I am always busy!

When not at school and not working on school things (which is not very often) I enjoy hanging out with my family and my dog. I spend a lot of my spare time outdoors on ATVs, camping, or just walking around, and almost an equal amount of time shopping (mostly for shoes!!).

Remington, my black lab and only “child”.