Working with a New Syntax


With a new vocabulary students who are learning a language will often work within a syntax that is familiar to them.  When you change the syntax it’s helpful for emerging language students to use familiar vocabulary. I am trying to use old vocab:  pedagogical/ learning style theory in a new syntax:  iPads et al.  This is not easy and there is a lot of time lost as I try to create the systems and routines to make it flow but, again, the result when they are using the technology is so significant it’s worth working through the establishment of:

  1. ‘cord management‘ systems.
  2. my iPhone camera for taking samples of iPads in action
  3. MacBook Pro Laptop for printing
  4. seating arrangements that account for the Document camera
  5. storage and accessibility logistics for the iPads with the iPad Cart and
  6. my Log book of iPad use (on my Clipboard)
  7. my Division Wiki (on my MacBook) for student obserations
  8. my EduBlog (on my MacBook) for recording reflections on the fly
  9. my Notepad (on my iPad) for recording quotes from students related to their work with iPads
  10. Evernote (on my iPad) to create audio & photographic records for their individual portfolios

I guess the key is to keep my perspective and patience.  Just like with any new skill profiency and speed increase with use.

Reflections on My Survey Results

First off I’m glad that the majority of the comments were positive about it value and that many saw why it was applicable to what we do as teachers.  My brother-in-law informed me that 30% implementation is considered the watershed to get that all important momentum known in marketing circles as ‘traction’.  At that rate I am well on my way and can pretty much consider it worth implementing and pursuing.  Apparently there will always be nay-sayers opposed to any form of change and that it is not worth the time and effort to convince them otherwise.  My only regret is that because the answers were anonymous I can’t address any specific comments or concerns with any particular individual.

Comments such as ‘imposed on me’, it felt too cumbersome do bother me.  Other ones (such as having the link easily accessible) just show the ignorance of the respondent (considering that is something they can do in a moment on their own computer…).  While I appreciate the positive comments directed my way it is really most satisfying when my colleagues see the inherit value and logic of using such a medium to store and retrieve information.

I find it funny that they commented on ‘I want integration for all the SBT info’ and that they still prefer face to face.  Funny because I see wiki-spaces as being akin to an electronic binder or filing cabinet — accessible to to any member of the group from anywhere.  How often has anyone criticized one of these technologies for it not being a place where people can talk face to face or that — because it doesn’t hold everything I have from other offices — it’s of little to no value?  To me that’s like criticizing a hammer for being a lousy way to cut wires; it’s not what it is designed for…!

Anyways, the thing that most surprises me is just how valuable the survey has been to this whole project.  When I developed it I did it because I was told it was a good idea.  I created it to simply ‘cover my bases’.  What I got was something that took the entire project to a new level.

…Just add tech…

The immediate effect today of bringing out the iPads:

  • The temperature & energy in the room rose significantly as did…
  • The motivation and independence shot up markedly as well.  Suddenly, without any prompting or organizing on my part the students split themselves off into pairs and started reading together.
A good start!

What a Lot of Work. Whatever happened to dialogue?

“We need to invent Digital Native methodologies for all subjects, at all levels, using our students to guide us. The process has already begun – I know college professors inventing games for teaching subjects ranging from math to engineering to the Spanish Inquisition. We need to find ways of publicizing and spreading their successes.”

This flies in the face of Diverse Learning.  It might surprise Mr. Prensky that not everyone (even so called Digital Natives) would want to learn EVERYTHING this way…



On Potential Implications and Directions

After looking over the results of my survey somethings bubble to the surface that I had not anticipated — such as how to promote change and how people both react to and integrate change in their lives.

When I undertook this project I was really only thinking that I was going to use a particular Web 2.0 tool to help improve the lines of communication and collaboration between me and my colleagues.  I had not even thought @ the time about the resistance some people have to changes of this sort.  Prior to this I had not even considered this to be a significant issue.

As I read over the comments of my small ‘population’ of colleagues that I had worked with it soon became apparent that not everyone was as enraptured as I about the merits and benefits of this tool.  Suddenly, I found myself actually interested in a conversation in which my brother-in-law (whose job it is to implement change in Health Care) was having with me about things like ‘The Tipping Point’, Marketing Theory and Maslowe’s theory of change.  How, I wondered, did I end up in this conversation…?

So now I wonder if the road ahead is:

  1. to pursue the answer to ‘how to promote change in my work environment?’ or
  2. to look @ ways to train my colleagues in the use of various technologies (such as wiki-spaces)? or
  3. to look @ ways I might integrate technology into the work I do with students?

On Getting Past the Ore

Remembrance Day Assembly.

Full of ore to get to the day of presentation and plenty of ore on the day of the presentation but, as a colleague said to me later in the staff room, although these collaborations with technology are almost invariably fraught with glitches — when it works its a thing of beauty.  When it works the result are one of a kind.

This — in essence — is what I’ve come to appreciate most about these technological tools and what strikes me being the most important lesson I have learned as I come to reflect on this the first stopping point on the journey I have undertaken.

The question — @ all times — to keep in the forefront of my mind is, “Is this worth it?”  If the answer is, “Yes”, then…soldier on!

I suppose the same could be asked of:

  • a researcher
  • an activist
  • a painter
  • a sculpter
  • a film producer
  • a playwright
  • a director
  • an author
…or…perhaps anyone involved in a creative endeavour…?
I bet they all would say that bringing an idea to life is HARD (but rewarding) WORK!
And that, I guess, is why I have been  attracted to these technologies and what motivates me to push through the ‘ore’ I may encounter along the way.
Technology has become for me a artistic ‘medium’ in which I can bring to life all sorts things that would otherwise just remain inspiration.  These tools, such as wikis or iPads have become — without my being aware of it — my brush and pallet, my chisel and marble, my lens and inspiration, my instrument and song.
For a long time now I have come to see myself as primarily an artist.  Technology, when I signed up for the course, seemed a long way off from that identity.  It’s interesting to see how the two streams might actually overlap…

More Ore

Sometimes finding the right medium to use can waste valuable time.  As LST, I get assignments thrown @ me all the time and the challenge can be to find — on the spot — the right application to suit the job.  When I finally did land on the right one (Popplet) it was amazing!  The print out alone gave my students a frame in which to finish the project.  Instant adaptation not possible otherwise…


Lost power to my computer — again.  The whole process of trouble shooting and then resolving the problem took @ least 10 minutes of my 1/2 hour time-slot costing me 30% lost production time.  But how valuable is it to have my computer up and running?  With @ least 4 (and often up to 8) applications, both online and based in my computer, running concurrently it has become rather essential…