Monday, March 16, 2009

Student Reflections about Creating Connections

In an effort to connect with our own personal ideas or "reflect" as they say , with other students and experts in the area of blogging, the students in Gr. 7.1 have participated in a few opportunities to talk and think about their thoughts regarding the art of blogging. We have also had a computer class in which we were able to temporarily 'follow' (read) a few different styles of blogs: personal, social, educational.

They acknowledged that they would have liked alot more time to sit down in front of the computer to "practice" it without alot of pressure or time limits. Some admitted they "were afraid to be hurt by strangers who prey on children." They said it was "like work but not really" or "something that you do on a regular basis which could be fun if you were working on something you really loved or liked." A couple of students said "it would be nice to work with another person together in partners." Some said, "it looked liked the bloggers were answering questions" while a few noticed " other kids wrote what was on their minds about a certain topic." Many liked how the blog kept notes organized and together which prevented lost articles/assignments. A few students mentioned that "it was like a magical notebook" in which you could store your best videos and share them with your friends or make "digital artifacts" as we all learned what the term was for new tool projects. When I asked them about the language we were hearing like 'blogging, tools, following', one boy remarked "that it was a strange but fun language that a non user might not understand!" They all liked reading about our partners in Roseville via this blog. Comments such as "It was unbelievable at first", and "amazing during the second time communicating on the computer", and "great the third time", and "really fun during the video conference." At least half of the class indicated who they thought amongst their peers were really good 'experts' at teaching stuff to while the rest said " I could become really good at this computer work."

Once again my students have demonstrated to me that they will adopt whatever attitude is presented and learn whatever language is used. They will easily adopt it once they understand how it works, where to use it , when to use it , why it is called something inparticular. And they will eaglerly set out to try and try again even after mistakes are made because they have verbalized that " the computer so easily cleans up the work as long you know what to tell it."

After our short series of talks, I showed them highlighted sections of a blog post by Konrad Glogowski entitled "How To Grow A Blog" which I had read about six weeks ago before my own initial adventure into blogging but back then didn't understand it until I reread it again a few days ago and had at least four weeks to test out the art of blogging on my own. I told my students that they understood what he was saying about blogging because they were giving me details of his post without even seeing it first. They were all smiles and equally impressed with their "knowing" when I read that he believed kids/students

" need freedom to grow blogs"
" like engaging in ideas/concepts that are interesting and personally relevant"
"become experts in their chosen fields"
"need increased amounts of support, engagement,conversation and practice with blogging"
"need to set goals, learn habits and commitments, and have the right habitat" to create, maintain and sustain their blogs.

Glogowski advocates that "blogging is not a response to an assignment but engaging in what is personally relevant." If I treat my students like colleagues or cocreators as I have read about in my Web 2.O research they will live up to the expectations and share with me their knowledge and expertise if they are 'allowed and afforded the opportunities to grow.' I take that as an indicator that they should be entitled to own some responsibility to own their own blog and be accountable for it's growth so that will be the next step or goal...working toward creating their own blog and assuming increasing amounts of ownership for creating opportunities towards their own learning!

Epals- Communicating Another Way

The following letters were sent as emails to the teacher's mailboxes. This is a start towards a different kind of communication practice between students. They were written by students from our RAP partners- Gr. 6's in Roseville to to the Gr. 7.1's. Their teacher,Mrs. Becky Miglio, forwarded them to me to publish here so we could we could keep a digital record of our contacts made from our initial reading project connection.

Student Emails from Roseville

*Emails removed at request of teacher.

A Few Student Emails from Gr. 7.1

Dear Katie,

Hi! My name is Brandy. Amy moved to another class but I will tell her when I see her that you wrote an email. My teacher is going to print out the email for her.

I have 4 sisters and 4 brothers and I like hockey, well not playing it but I like watching it like on t.v or in the movies .
So what did you like about the story? Well, I like the part where the mommy wolf has the babies and I liked the names of the wolf pups- Zat, Zit, and Zing . What kind of personalities do you think these pups have with cute names like Zat or Zing have?

From Your New Pal,
Brandy McCallum

Dear Ryan,

Last week we had a winter festival in our community. A lot of people watched the winter festival and there were money prizes and a lot of people were dressing up like girls and boys in our talent show for the Mr. Macho and Mrs. Macho Contest.

I won first in jigging. Jigging is really fast dancing. I won fifteen dollars and I kept it for my hockey tournament in our community. The teams we are going to play against here are the teams from Prince Albert, Sask., Sandy Lake, Sask., Stanley Mission, Sask., and us Pelican Narrows, Sask., Red Earth , Sask., La Ronge, Sask., and there is one more La Ronge team.

I had a good time watching your class on the video during our meeting. You all did a good job in front of the camera. Were you nervous? Do you remember our Cree lesson?
We are now on Part 2 in the novel. What part did you like? I love everything about the wolves.

By Austin K grade 7.1

Dear Brittany,
My name is Cesley Renee Merasty(:
I’m 12 years old. My birthday is on May 1st. I was born in Prince Albert but now I live in Pelican Narrows.
I have 2 brothers and 1 sister.
And I love my FAMILY, [&&] , and FRIENDS so much. I love to jig, sing, and swim.
This weekend we had a talent show we saw men dress up as women and woman dress up as men. It was a lot of fun and there was lots of other activities.

What part did you like in the novel?
What was the grossest part? I liked Miyax’s bravery and how she could look after herself.

Ikosi nitha oma cesley renee merasty.
Ikosi . Brittany

“See you later. I am Cesley Renee Merasty.”

“See You Later”,


Dear Jarred
I will teach you a bit of Cree.
“Tansi” means “How are you ?”
There I’m done teaching you Cree! Are you happy? I’m happy I just taught you Cree. I will tell you about Pelican Narrows. It is so cool!
Even though it is covered in trees and rocks there are tons to do. Like for example, you could go swimming in the summer or spring. The water is cold but it feels great on a hot day.
Did you have a choice to read Julie of the Wolves or did you just have to do it for RAP?
I think there is a movie about this book. I’ll ask my teacher if we can watch it so see if it follows the novel or not. I liked the Alpha wolf the best. He was kind but strong and protective.

From your E-pal, David
“Peace Out”

Dear Jenna,
I will start out by telling you some things about me. I like to watch movies that have vampires but I’m not Goth.
L O L .
I like to go fishing, swimming, walking around with my friends
when summer comes around. L O L. My friends like to laugh and talk and relax (couch potatoes!) L O L.
I like laughing, sleeping, going to West Edmonton Mall-It is like Mall of America. My teacher said that two brothers own both malls.
And lots more L O L I just can’t remember right now L O L.
I’m very forgetful at times especially when it comes to homework.
I don’t really like going to school at all. I hate getting up in the morning L O L.
My best friends are Jessica Lane, Lakeisha Rae, Tamika Faithand many more .
This winter someone put out a ice-worm out and whoever could find it would get $300 dollars. This is an activity for our Winter Festival. But, unfortunately I did not find it. L O L
Kyla M. found it by Rose’s house or behind the L.A.C halland won $300 dollars .
I love reading books about teenagers. I liked Miyax but not the part about being married or lost or cold. I don’t think I would do very well in the woods or tundra by myself. Have you ever been lost?

Your Friend,

Dear Justin,
Hi! My name is Jeremiah. I like playing soccer on my soccer team with Colby, Nicole, Summer, Alyssa, Brooke, Cherish, Keaston and there are much more soccer team mates.
I have a mom named Noreen, a dad named Franklin, a sister named Naomi and my mom is pregnant with her third child and I have a dog named Sadie.
This year or next year I might move away to Saskatoon, Sk. I can’t wait to move out of this town.
How did you like the novel? My favorite part of the book was when the wolves hunted the caribou. Some people eat caribou meat but I haven’t. My teacher says caribou eat berries and moss. They are vegetarians- no herbavores…lol. She said they are healthier to eat than cows because they don’t have any steroids or other chemicals put into them to make them grow fast.
Well that’s all I have to say! Bye- Bye


Dear Karan,
Hi! I’m KYRIE. I have 3 sisters 4 brothers and
I play hockey and soccer. I love to travel
to visit some friends and family. I
have a hockey tournament COMING UP SOON!


That`s all I have to say so bye-bye.


Dear Raziya,
Hi, my name is Summer.
I like to jig. Last week we had a talent show with people jigging, singing, dancing and more.
How did you like the novel Julie of the Wolves? My favorite part was when the wolves hunted the caribou. What was your favorite part ?
How did you like the video conference? What was your favorite part ? My favorite part were the animal questions. What questions did you ask ? Did you know in Canada we have a one dollar coin named after our class’s favorite bird-the loon. It is called the Loonie. It looks like a piece of gold.

Well, bye for now!


Dear Tessa,

What’s up Tessa ?
I like to walk around with my friends: Destiny, Doreen, Rhona, Melissa,
Jessica M, and Carissa. And I have 3 sisters: Brenda,
Sadie ,Clarissa and 2 brothers Neil, and John Bob. My mom’s name
is Jane and my dad’s name is Roderick.

Do you like school? I like parts of school like Math,Gym and Home-Ec. I love
to ski downhill and play soccer.

How did you like the video conference? I had fun during that hour. I never did anything like that before. It was kind of fun guessing your animals. Did you read about your favorite animal? It was hard guessing the charades. My classmates were good at acting in the classroom but they got kind of shy in front of the camera. It was okay though. We can’t wait to see your video. See Ya!


Dear Emily,
Hi! My name is Kerry .
I was born on October 18th in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
I love to jig, sing and swim.
My favorite hockey team is the Montreal Canadians
There the best! My dad likes them too!

This weekend we had a Winter Festival.
It was cool and funny. There were guys dressing up like
women and women dressed up like men. It was funny 
How did you reading the novel about Julie?
We had wolves in our school yard. Some people said they
saw wolves on our lake too. My classmates heard a wolf
howling one morning. They were scared. Bye.


Hi Paige,
How are you doing? Well, as for me, I’m doing fine.

My name is Carissa Shyne Serene B.
And I was born in the month of February on the
25th. And I am 13. I love listening to music.
I was going to tell you that I was going to a Fine Arts Festival because I signed up for Square Dancing--- that’s what I love to do!
I live in Pelican Narrows. It’s fun. I like hanging out with my friends and their names are Destiny, Jessica.C, Jessica.M, Shania and lots more. I have a huge family that I love.
I was going to tell you there was a talent show on Friday
which was awesome. There were people who were dressing
up, singing, jigging, acting like a macho man, and all that kind of stuff.
And also there were ski-doo races. My brother’s girlfriend was
racing and she almost got hurt.
Well, I guess I should say Bye. Hey, are you almost done reading
the novel yet? I liked listening to the novel but not really reading it for
myself. We might watch a movie about it. Did you see the videos on
our blog about all of the wolves. I like YouTube because you can see
some really cool stuff.


Hi Robert,

The skidoos races here r cool. Who is your best character in Julie of the wolves?
Pce Out!


Sup Travis,
This weekend I was watching the ski doo races and a lady almost wiped out. I
play hockey and our hockey tournament is on Friday. Do you play hockey?

p.s. My teacher says next time I can’t use Sup. It means what is up?- how are you?

What up Dan?

What is up with me? I am just doing nothing, got nothing to say except “ pce out.”
This week I just went to P.A. (Prince Albert) that’s all. I got back, came back to school, maybe I’ll go home and just go do something.


Dear Justin,
Thanks for the first email. I am fine.
I wasn't in school for the video conference. I was in La Ronge with my Auntie. She is learning how to become a teacher in a town that is about four hours away from Pelican Narrows.

I will check out the virtual field trip that our class made. My sister, Kyrie told me all about the tv meeting. She said it was fun but kind of scary at first because she didn't really know what it was going to like even though the class talked about it a few times.

My hobbies are drawing cartoon, animals and watching scary movies.
Write again. I like reading emails and letters.

Your Friend,


**More emails will be on the way to Mrs. Miglio and they will also be posted here so please don't worry if your name is not yet listed.

Dear Mrs. Miglio,

Hi! Thank-you for the photos of your new beautiful horse and of you posing with your new horse. What name did you or your family give it? It looks like hard work jumping over the fence or do you call it something else ? I posted two of the photos in your bio so the students could see them also.
I have only ridden a trail horse in the Rocky Mountains near Banff, Alberta. I think it knew the whole trail by memory because it sure didn't listen to my voice or rein command to go faster or stay out of the berry bushes!
My students were happy and excited to write emails although they started them on Microsoft Word documents. Everyone did a great job!
It is still snowy and cold in Pelican Narrows. As a matter of fact it has been snowing since Friday, March 13th!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and your family for tomorrow. I remember that your job share partner is in class with your students till Wednesday so let them know we all shouted "HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!"

Thank-you for your comments to our blog and perhaps one day we will be able to comment on your blog.

Kindest Regards,

Cheryl Morin

Personal Reflections on the Process of Blogging and in Creating Connections

I wonder if a general class email address and password for the students would have worked to enable them to access various tools during our rare computer time that need a person's email to log on. I am thinking about this because some students are not allowed to have their own email address. But how would I control the use of the email after school unless I deleted it daily and created a new one daily!!

There is alot to be considered when wanting to blog as a part of a class's assignments:purpose; identifying short and long term goals; access to hardware and sites; affordability; parental and school permission; opportunity; assessment; teacher/student knowledge and motivation are all key components to consider when deciding to want to blog as a group or as an individual.

I was just introduced to and read part of Vicki Davis's 'CoolCatTeacher Blog' which led me to an ebook she is writing about "7 Steps to Flattening Classrooms" or in other words ,creating a work connection with others on a global level using technology. She said we have to start with Step 1 which is to create an "intraconnection" or talking with our students and between student to student in our own class via synchonous chats like Skype,Video, voice thread , Instant Messaging, and asynchronous communication such as class wikis and "wall garden blogging". Hah, cell phones are banned in our school and MSN and Meebo are off limits! Secondly, we have to create "interconnections" or contacts between schools in our districts via asynchronous methods like wikis, blogs, social networking where students work on the same projects and respond to each other from their own classrooms. Steps 3-7 look at projects managed by teachers then students followed by ethics, choices and creating focus.

It's beginning to look like I did things backwards. I started with trying to reach out to the world before we reached out to each other within the room and teaching tools before we had any real access to hardware or even personal emails!

The few students who have their own email have offered to 'let someone borrow' their email and password... Good time for another lesson on Internet safety. But how do I justify the students 'borrowing' the class email to do their assignments. How is that different?

When we did manage to find some computer time, most students eagerly and patiently waited for our slowpoke computers to load the applications and were able to practice with various tools: VoiceThread, Voki, BubbleShare, Glogster but our troubles continued when our time ran out and our creations were in the midst of development. I didn't see a way to save them midstream so they were disappointed that their work was lost. To try to override this problem , some students were willing to come to my house to work on my laptop. Somehow my computer was 'trained' (lol) to recognize my voice only and wouldn't allow one boy to record his VoiceThread comments orally , so texted comments were used because I didn't have a working headset and neither did anyone in our school!! I discovered that some fun applications like Glogster has users that posted inappropriate messages on their works. In conversations with my students about this issue we chatted about personal and professional ethics which guide our behaviour so even if we find something inappropriate we have a choice to not read it or participate in it. One student said aloud at this moment, "Just ask WWJD?" When I asked what he meant , he smiled and said "What would Jesus do?" Yes, you do have to apply knowledge learned in many different places!

I attributed many of our little problems to my not knowing how to solve them on the spot or even know in advance what might crop up. I am sure if I was really a savvy Twitterbug I could have sent out a few Tweets and had an answer in seconds. That is one obstacle I have created for myself and am trying to dismantle it stick by stick to get comfy with Twitterers/users or strangers as I still see them.
Overall, I see where I should have and could have more student generated material but not really sure how to do it during school with such limited access. I know that student blogs are necessary for recording their ideas and works but what is to be done when personal emails are considered to be too risky by caregivers.

I've been prompted to rethink online work and evaluation after reading Konrad Glogowski's blog article "Thoughts on Assessment" in the Blog of Proximal Development... regarding the 'students' participation and increased knowledge gained'... and especially the 'questions and thoughts I should have around my own involvement in the blogging process'.

Did I engage them in conversation about their ideas and efforts? How did I encourage them to take a learning risk? Where did I offer room to grow or experiment with a tool or an idea for using the tool? What did I teach that students adopted as their own to change into something new and exciting? How do I model a sense of determination for my students when I feel so discouraged at the setbacks we have experienced?

Seems like more questions than answers!

Now I know that I should be an active participant through conversation and engagement in the student's blogging process from the beginning as students receive and interpret their assignment through the "rich discussions" in the middle to the very end of the final written product that they hand in for evaluation.
This is great information for me. Now to solve the problem of having regular and equal access to the blog!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comic Strip 101

a comic strip!

In ELA we are practicing conversational dialogue and have begun to make comic strips with various tools- paper to Web 2.0.

Our teacher said she loved her online class and just about everything having to do with the computer so here is my first comic strip using Pikistrips where you
just upload your photos, add a caption and clever details, and save. By JM

Learning Challenge

Find other online applications that are free that can be used to practice making comic strips or tell a short story in a different way. You will need an email address to save the comic but if not, you can still practice the skills.

One of my classmates in my Master's class shared this site with me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ski Loppet March 7, 2009

BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.

The students skied approximately 5 km around two small islands. The day was crisp and cool and the snow was fresh and clean. About forty children and 10 adults skied or walked or snowshoed. It was fun. It was also a poker rally where you collect a playing card at every station. Our teacher was on the winning team. Her share of $400.00 first prize was $57.00.

Learning Challenge

Play with BubbleShare to create a fun presentation showing something you like to do. Share it with those around you and I'll post it if you agree.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Survival Series by Grade 7.1

Get a Voki now!

In partners, one student will create the scene and give one survival strategy. The other partner will leave a comment on the voki offering another strategy in the same setting. Click on the comment balloon to hear the second person's strategy.

The topic of survival was chosen because we are reading Julie of the Wolves which is about a thirteen year old Inuit girl who has to depend on her willpower, a pack of wolves, and her good decisions in order to survive out on the tundra in the Fall and Winter. By discussing other methods of survival in other settings, we are extending our learning.

Get a Voki now!

Get a Voki now!

Get a Voki now!

Get a Voki now!