Monday, March 28, 2011

Biggest Sand Storm in Decades??

Our second weekend in Kuwait was interesting. On Friday the girls and I went to one of Kuwait's biggest malls called "Avenues" and we spent most of the day shopping. That's one thing that Kuwait is popular for is the shopping :D

It turned out to be a great afternoon with lots of good finds, as well as a tasty lunch. It turns out we left the mall that day just in time to arrive safely back at our apartment during one of the biggest sand storms Kuwaiti's have ever seen. It came on fast. In a matter of minutes, the skyline went from being beaaautiful and sunny, to brown and then BLACK. The powerful winds brought in a large amount of sand that got absolutely everywhere! My room mate and I fortunately noticed the sky changing colors and shortly after closed all the vents and windows. Somehow, sand dust still manage to creep it's way into out apartment leaving a layer of dust on everything.

The city was shut down for the night - something that you never see here, as the city seems to be fully "awake" around 10pm every night. Kuwaiti's everywhere spent the rest of the weekend de-dusting their homes (some worse then others).

Here is a youtube clip of the sand storm:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A sunny afternoon in Kuwait

Hello world! I thought that I would just give the ol' blog an update and let you all have a quick look at what I have been up to recently.

I and five other Brandon University students arrived in Kuwait City on Saturday, March 12th at about 11:30pm.

Tonight marks the end of the first week of my last student teaching placement. So far, it's been an interesting week. I am teaching three sections of grade 10 Biology, as well as grade 11 and 12 IB/AP Biology at the ACA girls campus.

Everyone has been very nice and welcoming so far. The students are well-behaved and classroom management issues are few and far between at this point in time.

Today we toured around our area a little. We ventured to the edge of the city to take in a bit of the Kuwait Towers and the Persian Gulf. We also ended up wandering around the area for a while checking out some of the local malls and markets.

Here are a few of the many pictures taken so far..

"Kuwait Towers"

Persian Gulf Shore

Interesting building architecture

The mall we were at had a harbor for customers parking..

Palms everywhere


This city is HUGE, and parts of it are quite beautiful. I look forward to learning more about the culture and taking in more of the city during the next seven weeks. Right now my biggest challenge is deciding where to go for spring break.. Sri Lanka or Jordan? Any thoughts?

Stay tuned for more.

Goodnight, from Kuwait.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mindmeister - Final Summative Project (in progress)

I like to think that I am an organized, visual learner. When I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for my Final Summative Project, I tried to think of a simple, time-efficient method of organizing what I have learned and experienced in class. I decided that Mindmeister is the perfect tool to achieve this..

Check out my mind map so far for Internet for Educators class 2011. I intend on adding more and more to this mind map as I remember/learn about more useful tool that I can incorporate in the classroom.

Internet for Educators Presenters

I admit, I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to. My life has actually been a little upside down lately, but I would still like to take this opportunity to touch on the last few presentations that I was so lucky to take part in during Internet for Educators class at Brandon University.

Tuesday, February 8: George Couros (Prinicpal, Stoney Plain, AB) on "Unintended Benefits"

Unfortunately I had to miss George's presentation, but after doing my homework from my fellow classmates blogs, I have come to the conclusion that the presentation was somewhat similar to the information we gained throughout this class. The presentation was centered around the benefits of the use of technology in the classroom. Enhancing relationships using a variety of social networking tools will be key in our future. George is part of a group called "Connecting Principals". He works to connect principals all over the world.

He also mentioned the importance of teaching students to create a positive online presence. Students should know that they will be held accountable for any blog comments, or posts on social media sites. Holding students accountable for their actions is important in the classroom, both on- and offline.

Thursday, February 17: Darren Kuropatwa on "What can I do now?"

Darren talked about the principles in which students learn.

1. What are the preconceptions that students are bringing with them to school based on previous learning.

2. Knowledge is networked. It is easier to learn new things if you centre it around the “big idea”

3. Learning is facilitated through metacognitive approaches

4. Community - Help each other out when you teach.

One of the things that really stuck out in my mind from Darren's presenation is when he talked about how students must know that it is okay to be wrong. As teachers we must model appropriate behaviour at all times, even when we are wrong. If we make a mistake while teaching, we must admit to our mistake, apologize and model it a positive experience. Both teachers and students must continuously learn and improve themselves based on the mistakes made. A person's ability to make mistakes and learn from them will only benefit them and their tendency to take chances and step outside of their comfort zone in order to authentically learn (more). We must make students feel comfortable about making mistakes and experiencing new things and almost be a "cheerleader" for them both in and out of the classroom.

Tuesday, March 1: Dr. Alec Couros (U of Regina) on "Networked Teacher"

Alec Couros, brother to George from earlier this year, talked to us about how people can manage their own learning, and set own learning. As predicted, Alec shared a lot of helpful tips and suggestions during his presentation. Alec used a really cool communication device similar to Skype called "Elluminate". It works the same way skype does, only it seems to have one or two more toys than skype. Definitely check it out at

Alec talked about "Evernote" , which is a site that allows you to create notes, store pdf documents, and more. Definitely another site to add to your technology teacher resource library.

Alec discussed the importance of collaboration in learning as well as open sharing. I completely agree with the collaborative nature of Alec's ideas. I believe that it is in our best interests to share resources and teaching ideas with each other. The use of web-based tools will be the catalyst in this sharing and hopefully more teachers jump on board with this collaboration of efforts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tech Task 9: Web-based Classes

WBC with Manitoba Education

I explored the Manitoba Curriculum website a bit and added a few webCT courses. I added Science10F, Science20F, Biology30S, and Biology40S. After reviewing these courses I have come to the conclusion that they would be a great resource for both students and teachers. WebCT proves to be a very useful tool for students that are unable to take particular courses in some rural areas in Manitoba.

I believe that webCT is also a very valuable resource for teachers. Under "student view", each one of the courses I added is broken down into "Course Modules". For example, Biology 40S has 15 modules: Introduction to Genetics, Human Genetics, Genetic Engineering, Molecular Basis for Inheritance, Biodiversity, Accounting for Diversity, Evolution: Theory and Processes, Viruses, Monerans, Protists, and Fungi, The Plant Kingdom, The Animal Kingdom, Ecology and the Ecosystem, Community Interactions, Population Ecology, Human Impact and Field Research.
Each of these modules is further broken down into individual lessons. For example: Human Genetics is further broken down into topics such as Pedigree and Karyotyping. See below.

Each lesson usually includes a list of outcomes as well as end of lesson assignment or questions.

My feelings on these particular courses..they contain accurate information and knowledge for teachers and students, but the "learning" is very dry. What can we do to improve webCT? I feel as though these online courses could be infused with multimedia or supplementary online resources in order to bring some excitement to the situation. As educators we should strive to make every class fun and exciting and with all of the resources and technological advances, webCT developers should achieve this with little or no difficulty.

I am excited to experience what's to come in future webCT developments.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tech Task 12 - Physical Education Resources

I chose to blog about some online Physical Education resources as part of my "Tech Tasks" requirements for my Internet for Educators class.

One of the more popular sites that I have come across is PHE Canada. Physical and health education Canada is a great online tool to keep up to date with programs, resources, events, awards (and more) that exists in the Physical Education world.

PHE Canada is the professional organization for physical and health educators since the Canadian Physical Education Association in 1933.

Also.. PE Central

This website is a great resource for any Physical Education teacher. It has a vast array of lesson ideas, activities, store, bulletin board ideas, career resources, adapted physical education, classroom management techniques and more.

I would definitely use this website to supplement any of my PE classes. This is sometimes my go-to site for activating strategies and warm-up. This site offers fun kids fitness programs and challenges for students. With over 1800 lesson ideas, this is most definitely one of the leading sites in Physical Education.

These sites will aid any teacher whether they are PE specialists or a teacher with little PE experience.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fitness Partner “Helping you create a fit and healthy lifestyle”

Hello Education World!

As a Physical Educator, I must continuously keep myself up to date with various types of healthy lifestyle practices, as well as cross-curricular connections including bringing technology into my classroom, even if it is usually a gymnasium.

My mission is to inspire people to greatness, and realize how much fun they can have while doing it. I am an athlete. I believe that life is a lot like sport, and the mentality of an athlete is what we should all strive for. We all want to feel like champions, that shot at the big game, that feeling of success. It is my goal to help students to realize their full potential, and there is nothing they can't do it they put their mind to it.

Great athletes are usually very strong both mentally and physically and they know they can achieve anything. Life in general can be considered a game, and there are strategies and plans that can be used in life that will ultimately bring you to the championships (in your field).

Using sport and healthy lifestyle practices, I feel I have the opportunity to help students realize their full potential and will encourage them to be all that they can be, including development of positive interpersonal skills and healthy self-concept.

This blog post will give an overview of a very useful website for Physical Education teachers, as well as anyone that is interested in Healthy Lifestyle Practices. A few years ago, I came across a website called “Fitness Partner”.

This website has a number of different resources to help people keep track of their fitness, and help them attain their goals.

Here is an excerpt from the main page:

“Since 1994 Fitness Partner has been a non-commercial labor of love created to help you learn how to live a more fit and healthy lifestyle.  It's Fitness Partner's mission to assist you in designing, achieving and maintaining your own personal health and fitness goals.

Here you will find information to help you create a lifestyle change by building your knowledge-base so you can understand and apply the basic elements of fitness and weight management to your own life.”

This site supplies the public with a number of different tools such as:

Activity Calorie Calculator

“Let Fitness Partner calculate the number of calories you burn for 222 activities. Simply enter your weight and the duration you generally spend being active.  We'll do the math and return a personalized activities page to you.” TRY IT!

Information on Getting and Staying Active

Information on Managing Your Weight

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Education in a Connected World"

Presenter - Dr. Glen Gatin (Researcher & Online University Professor)

Glen Gatin's presentation was interesting. Gatin talked about the changing role of the educator in the classroom due to changes in technology. This got me thinking about how much classroom instruction has changed over the years. I remember a time (when I was very wee) when the only computers we had were those old grey Commodor 64's!! I know that you know the ones I am talking about!!

Let me refresh your memory... know it. What a sweet machine! And don't forget the means of storage we used to use...

Absolutely BEAUTEOUS... (that's for you Jess)

Wow, how times have changed!

I must say, I much prefer using storage devices such as a “thumb drive” or even online tools such as dropbox, as they are just so much more convenient and manageable.

Technology is evolving at such a fast rate that most of the world's population can't keep up. I feel like it is going to be a huuuuge challenge to prepare myself to teach students authentically, while constantly trying to keep both myself and the students technologically competent. The following video inspires me, but also makes me feel sooo unprepared in our ever growing world of technological advances.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Animoto - Halifax '09

Animoto! Combine images, music, and video to tell a story!

Check out the 30 second video I created:

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

This past week we were lucky enough to have John Finch (MB education) with us, giving a presentation on Social Media in the Classroom. We spent time discussing various social media tools that can be used in the classroom. After learning about how to use these various tools we also talked about the irony in Manitoba school division's policies on using these particular sites in schools. Many school divisions in Manitoba have found that the majority of students misuse sites such as Facebook. In an attempt to control this behaviour, they have blocked social media sites from students entirely. I found it very interesting how certain school divisions allow various types of social media, and other divisions disallow social media such as Facebook, Twitter, youtube etc.
I feel like school divisions should be doing everything they can to try to promote positive, community-oriented relationships with their students. For example, Pembina Trails School division has blocked social media sites such as Twitter, from the students. The irony in it, is that they actually use Twitter to give news about what is happening in their division such as news, and windchill warnings to students and staff!! Soo why are these sites blocked in the schools?
In my opinion, school divisions should not be blocking social media sites but teaching students to use these tools effectively and appropriately in creating a positive online image. As a teacher, I would like to learn what motivates my students to do the things that they do and then build off their interests to help motivate them to use classroom instruction in a constructive manner. Students everywhere seem to be glued to social media sites. Wouldn't it be nice if we could transform the use of social media into something positive and school-related?

I believe that teachers can use social media sites, such as Facebook, to inspire and encourage students to complete assignments or homework. Teachers can use Facebook for a starting point for class activities including: following news feeds, share links, educational games, follow news stories, create class groups, share multimedia and much more. A great site for ideas on integrating the use of Facebook into the classroom is:

Twitter can also be a very effective method of incorporating students into classroom activities. For example, when I was student teaching I encouraged my students to use social networking sites in a positive way. One might assume that there aren't a lot of ways to incorporate Twitter into a subject like Physical Education..but there definitely are! During one of my health units, we were concentrating on fitness and healthy lifestyle practices and I gave them links to a number of different web tools that we used, but also encouraged students to “follow” various types of fitness and health professionals such as Tosca Reno,and Lacey Stone. Twitter can also be used to help parents and other teachers “follow” what students are currently learning about in class. The following is a link to a site that will help to explain some of the other uses Twitter may have in the classroom:

When you start to think about all of the different types of online social media, there really are endless possibilities to which one could incorporate these such web tools into the classroom. As teachers, all we have to do is be able to accept the concept and allow ourselves to think creatively enough..and the sky's the limit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Web-based Learning

This past Thursday Howard Griffith (MB Ed, Web Based Learning) stopped by my Internet for Educators class at Brandon University to offer his knowledge and insight about web-based courses. Unfortunately I was unable to sit in on the presentation, but as far as I know, Griffith's presentation was very interesting and gave valuable insight into the uses of WBC (web-based courses) that are offered through the Manitoba Government website (Manitoba Education) //

Because I missed this presentation, I have been doing some looking around at both colleagues blogs as well as the Distance Learning resources on the MB government website, as it has proved to provide valuable information on Web-based Courses here in Manitoba.

WBC seem to be a valuable part of education, especially in rural areas that have low enrolment numbers. I believe that every student, no matter how small the town, should have equal opportunity to take necessary courses they may or may not need in order to progress into there desired careers and enter the appropriate post-secondary field of choice. As commented earlier in a colleagues blog, although WBC seems to be a giant step in the right direction, I also believe that WBC seems to be replacing the need for the presence of a teacher (of the human variety).

Web-based Learning offers flexibility for students in rural communities, as well as help to teach students organization skills, and help them become more independent. Web-based learning is a huge step in the right direction, but as a social being, I can’t help but believe that humans are designed to learn from each other. My preference for learning will likely always be from a human rather a computer, as humans often use verbal and visual cues in order to absorb new knowledge and retain information.

In the future, I plan to use a combination of web-based tools and learning as well as face-to-face (F2F) teaching in my classroom. I believe that a mix of the two will promote independent learning and thought as well as challenge student metacognition. I believe that it is important for students (especially high school students) to learn to release responsibility of learning from the teacher and start to take that responsibility on themselves – which is similar to what “the real world” will be like after they graduate from high school. Although a teacher's role in student learning is still necessary, I believe that students can only benefit from the use of web-based learning and is one step closer to helping our students become successful, independent, contributing members of today's society.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Here we first BLOG POST. I was wondering when I would start keeping a blog and I am glad that Internet for Educators class at BU has initiated this.

Today I am talking about a recent presentation by a guest speaker to my Internet for Educators class, named John Evans. I found a number of different aspects of John Evans (Professional Learning Consultant, MB Education)presentation very interesting. Already I can see that I will learn a lot about the use of internet in the classroom.

I learned about various internet tools, but the presentation mostly focused on PLN's (personal learning networks). PLN's seem to be a very useful tool in the world of education as it is a way to network with other teachers around the glooobe! We all know that teaching is about sharing! Although teacher-sharing within the confines of a school can be very helpful, teacher-sharing on the global level is something that is in a whooole new ballpark. With the use of PLN's we can see how other teachers run their classroom and see what they have to share.

What is a PLN? As far as I can see, a PLN is a group of people that will heighten your learning. This group of people will likely be able to answer any questions you may have about teaching. I think teacher use of a PLN is important because it allows individuals to express themselves through the sharing of resources and opinions on teaching and education via online (global). With the use of internet tools such as twitter, blogs, wikispaces and podcasts we can become a network teacher and connect with other teachers, students and parents. I intend on exploring PLN's further as I believe that these networks may definitely contribute to the success of both teachers and students. I feel that PLN's are a huuuge step in the right direction as they not only connect teachers globally but they also work to promote using online tools which have the potential to create a paperless classroom which will in turn create a healthier, greener planet.