Monday, April 21, 2008

How "SMART" is your Classroom

Teacher Tube and Smart Technologies have teamed up to offer a contest for Teachers to show off how a SmartBoard is used in their class. If you are lucky enough to use a SmartBoard in your class you may want to enter! All you have to do is produce a 30 second commercial that demonstrates how your class takes advantage of the Smartboard. Creativity and technological wizardry is a plus!

Here is an excerpt from their site:

SMART Technologies is teaming up with TeacherTube to offer the Extraordinary Moments Video Contest. We're looking for 30-second commercials that best answer this question: How do SMART products help you create extraordinary moments in your classroom?

Creativity counts. So does technological wizardry. But most of all we'd like to see how you and your students use technology to create a fun, interactive learning environment.

If you are a winner you can earn a prize package worth $3500 and a trip to NECC 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. You will premiere your commercial at the conference.

For more information click HERE:

If you are interested and would like some help don't hesitate to contact Doug Sadler for some help!

Windsor - Essex Gas Prices

Gas prices are out of control and are continuing to rise. Use the web to help find lower gas prices. This site is not new but may be new to you! tracks the price of gas at our local Essex-County and Windsor stations. The chart on the left shows how you can sort the stations by price so you can see if a cheaper station is near you or perhaps you should try and fill up tomorrow. Remember a year ago when you felt a dollar a litre was ridiculous!! Click on the graphics for more information.

Friday, April 4, 2008

HOMEWORK- Where do we stand? More, Less, Status Quo?

Toronto considers limits to homework
The Windsor Star
02 Apr 2008

Canada’s largest school board is considering banning homework during holidays and long weekends, the centrepiece of a proposed policy that is sparking calls for other boards to review their practices and counter a growing backlash against a “culture of... read more...

I wanted to put on my A&E hat again and discuss this one. I am sure there are many opinions across the board and hopefully you will voice yours!

The Toronto District School Board has decided to tackle the homework question. How much is too much? Apparently Weekends and Holidays could be off limits in Toronto.

It seems like students are getting even less oppourtunity with higher expectations, or does it? Maybe homework is not the answer? In 2000 changes were made in the Secondary panel that condensed 5 years of high school for University bound students into 4. There was a considerable amount of overlap in the curriculum that was removed however, condensing a 5 year program into 4 is still translates into an increase in expectations for students. The Elementary panel was also given a more robust curriculum that demands more from students. None of this is news to a teacher but it is clear we are expecting more than in the past. The Ministry of Education dictated a new assessment and evaluation guideline that was outlined in the Ministry Document "Grades 9 to 12 Program Planning and Assessment Guide". Assessment and evaluation changed significantly for both Elementary and Secondary. The secondary policy reads:

"Seventy per cent of the grade will be based on evaluations conducted throughout the course.
This portion of the grade should reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement
throughout the course, although special consideration should be given to more recent
evidence of achievement."

This statement actually encourages teachers to evaluate more however, teachers have been told by the Ministry we evaluate too much. They want teachers to do more assessment and less evaluation. Students need more practice and feedback before they are evaluated. This is probably true but homework is assessment and although differenciated instruction gurus suggest it is only one of many strategies that should be employed it is certainly a popular one. Do we take up all this homework anyway? Do we assign too much or too little?

So where do we stand on this issue? Would the world stop if we didn't send home homework on Friday's and before Holidays? Are PD days considered Holidays? We know where the students stand but what about the parents? Talk about a cultural shift!

In order to obtain a grade based on the most consistent level of achievement the larger the sample the better. So which is it? Does the Ministry want more or less? I have always found the Ministry to be inconsistent on this issue. Perhaps they will shed some more light on this issue in 2009 when they release their new policy document on Assessment and Evaluation.

Until then, what do you think?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Office 2007 Plugin for Office 2000, XP, 2003

I had a discussion today with David Petro who informed me there was a plugin or add-on you could get to allow older version of Office work with new Office 2007 files.

From the site:

"By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007. The Compatibility Pack can also be used in conjunction with the Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003, Excel Viewer 2003, and PowerPoint Viewer 2003 to view files saved in these new formats. For more information about the Compatibility Pack, see Knowledge Base article 924074."

So if you are interested click on the Microsoft graphic above to access the files needed.

Cluster Map