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.