I spent a half day with my coop and the kindergartens yesterday morning and it was such a delight.  She has over 20 students in her room, which seems like a lot for kindergarten, but the routines she has established make transitions seamless.  She also has an EA in the room to assist a student who uses an iPad to communicate.  She was able to tell us what she did the night before by selecting the word/symbols she needed to create a sentence that the iPad spoke out-loud for her.  We are going to have another student next year in the Discovery Pre-School who will be getting his own iPad to use for the same thing.  I think it will be really neat to be a part of his learning experience as he figures out how to communicate with his new "voice".


Another exciting opportunity I will be participating in next semester, is the chance to help pilot a new web-based tool that is being developed to capture play based learning in the classroom.  I think five teachers in Canada are testing the program, and my coop and I will be one.  I had a quick look around at the site yesterday and some of the features it has are the ability to upload photos, videos and audio clips to the "learning story", include the names of the students involved in the observation, send the story to the involved children's parents, link the story to learning outcomes, and much, much more.  I am so excited to be a part of such an innovative program!

I am really looking forward to the upcoming semester.  Being in the classroom yesterday made me miss teaching.  I also recalled that a person cannot visit a room of kids and not come away with at least one funny story.  So, here goes.  Yesterday morning the kinders were lined up quietly in the boot room, waiting for the bell to ring for recess.  When it did, everyone went rushing outside.  A, who took off running with extra vigour, fell on the gravel just outside the door.  When I looked through the window, I saw him standing there pointing to his knee, with only one shoe on.  Immediately his friend T came running over to report.

T: "Miss S!  Miss S!  A fell and hurt himself!  He was running so fast that he fell and he blew a shoe!"

My coop and I looked at each other and laughed.  "He blew a shoe!"  Too cute!
 
 
 
 
I have had a very busy week already and it is only Tuesday.  But after my quiz tomorrow night I will finally be able to breathe a little more which will hopefully inspire more blogging because as of late, I have had nothing but presentations, exams, and papers on the brain.  On the brighter side, tomorrow morning I am meeting with my coop and hanging out with her kindergartens over at Henry Braun.  I have a really great feeling about spending my upcoming semester with her and am confident that I am going to learn so much that I will use later in my career.

On a side note, I had an interview today with the YMCA's Camp Ta-Wa-Si summer program.  I only I wish I would have found this article from The Onion earlier today so I could have prepped my handshake.
 
 
This weekend I delved into the world of podcasting and I will admit it was challenging for me to sit and listen to them.  I am obviously a person who needs visuals because I found my eyeballs wandering around the room inadvertently causing my mind to follow suit.  However, I was able to rustle up some good shares for you and create a bit of magic myself.

Ever since I created and taught a unit on science in my pre-internship, I have fancied myself a scientist.  I have recently introduced experiments to the kids at work and they love it.  I think part of it is the natural inquiry process that occurs in scientific exploration.  So I was naturally curious when I found a podcast dedicated to simple science explanations because the one thing I struggled with was putting the scientific reasoning into kid friendly language.  While this podcast is too advanced for littles, it is easily understood by adults and could be translated for younger students.

Another podcast I liked was from TeacherCast.  The website hasn't been updated in a while so the particular episode I listened to about how to begin teaching with technology isn't up there but is available on iTunes.  One of the guests said something that really stuck with me because it reminded me almost exactly of something Dean said during one of our live sessions this week.  The gentleman stated that "we have to make sure we show our students we are not afraid to make mistakes" and Dean had said something similar when he was trying something out for us on the spot.  I appreciate when he does stuff like that because then he makes it safe for us to try new things and to take risks in a public space, like on our blogs.

A third podcast that caught my eye, I picked up off the favourites page on iTunes.  It is actually a series of video podcasts from Scam School.  The host is a little bit over the top for my liking, but he does teach you some neat tricks you can dazzle your friends with next time you're out and about.  Maybe you could become the next David Copperfield
Speaking of magic, I created a little of my own here in this little podcast. I much preferred this week's tech task of over the video blog we had to create a couple of weeks ago.  Mostly because I didn't have to get dressed.  The cat you see in the middle there, lounging on the stairs, is my girl Charlie Bear. She is also the one you can hear meowing in the background at about 3:04.  She's so needy
sometimes!  During my pod (is that short for podcast, or would you just say cast?) I mentioned a couple of articles: one on HubPages and the other on canada.com.  If you're pressed for time and can't listen to the whole thing, answer me this: What would you do if recess was eliminated in your school?  
 
 
I am just coming up on the halfway point of my semester and things are reaching a peak in terms of busy.  I have papers, midterms, and presentations all coming up in the next couple of weeks, but I've got my eye on the prize. June 20 - the Summer Solstice.  And the last day of the semester/the last day of University classes for me.  For a while anyway.  My first presentation is coming up on Monday and I was in charge of creating some sort of visual presentation to organize our information.  I chose to use Prezi for this.

I was first introduced to Prezi in my second year of education during my ECI 302 - Environmental Education - course.  My instructor used it to create a presentation introducing herself to the class.  I have tried to use it a few times since then, and each time I learn something new.  The possibilities are really endless for creating eye catching presentations.  For example, you can assmble really intricate drawings using the shapes buttons. I figured this out when I was trying to delete some of the elements from the template I used to create the Prezi below.  I had to delete each line separately (or maybe I didn't, but I did anyway) and there were a lot of them used to form things like cartoon people, clouds with lightening bolts, a telescope, ants, and other fun creatures.  Normally, I would create a Prezi from scratch, but time is just not on  my side these days.  This one still does the job though:
What are your favourite programs for creating presentations?
 
 
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The Birthday Boy
Today was my nephew's 4th birthday.  Both of my sisters live in British Columbia, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like, especially these days while I am living on my student salary.  My mom is there visiting right now and I feel slight pangs of jealousy as I flip through pictures my older sister has posted on Facebook.  Last night while Austin was sleeping, the crew blew up a bunch of balloons and covered his bedroom floor with them.  Needless to say he was delighted to find the sea of balloons in his room this morning.  The day went on to include lots of fun such as multiple bike rides on his sweet new bike, a visit to the bug zoo, a trip to the children's farm, and a walk around the park.

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Millipede Mustache
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Like Father, Like Son
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Can I have a bite?
After my night class this evening, I called Austin to wish him a happy birthday.  He was busy playing when I phoned so my sister had to coax him into taking my call.  This is the special conversation that we had:

Miss W: "Hi Austin!"

A: "Who's dis?"

Miss W: "It's Auntie Michelle."

A: "Hi Annie Shell!"

Miss W: "Is it your birthday today, Austin?"

A: "No" (to my sister) "Is it my birthday?"

K: "Yes"

A: "It is my birthday!  It is!  It is!"

Miss W: "I thought so!  Happy birthday, buddy!  How old are you today?"

A: "I is 4.  I go play now."

I haven't been able to spend a birthday with him yet, but am very thankful that technology allows me to still be a part of his day.  Because without it my sister would not have been able to post pictures to Facebook for me to creep, she would not have been able to email them to me to jazz up my blog, and I would not have been able to call my little buddy on his birthday from school before his bedtime.  High fives to technology! 
 
 
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My last post was all about blog comments and increasing my blog traffic.  I created this graph to show my unique visitors as Weebly reports them.  You can definitely see where on May 10 and 21 I shared my blog on Facebook.  But I was talking to my younger sister about my logic and she informed me about a program by Google called Analytics that would track not only how many people were stopping by, but how long they were staying for.

She pointed out that although 80 people may have stopped by my blog, the amount of time they stayed is more important because that can tell me if they were actually reading my blogs.  Which she also informed me was unlikely due to my lack of images.  Talk about tough love, but I value her input because she has studied up on this stuff and has created a blog of her very own.  She also suggested I rename and reorganize my tabs so that my blog is the first page people see.  I followed her suggestions and will hopefully be able to see if people are actually reading my posts.  And as of right now, I am the only one who has viewed my page.  I guess this also proves the theory that posting new material helps.

 
 
I had plans all week to participate in a chat on twitter, but coordinating my interests with my schedule became a bit of a nightmare.  Perhaps I need to hire an assistant; preferably one who is familiar with the time zones.  My hope was to participate in a live conversation, so this afternoon I picked one from this list my professor posted.  It was scheduled to start at 8:00 CST and so I conferred with my father on the location of CST in relation to us.  He confidently replied that CST was in fact Alberta's zone.  This evening I eagerly signed onto twitter at 7:59pm only to discover I had missed the whole thing.  It is safe to say that if I do end up hiring an assistant, my dad will not be in the running.  Sorry, dad!

The chat I semi-engaged in was under the #blogchat hashtag which I thought was fitting given my recent startup. Tonight the conversation was around commenting.  Topics ranged from spam comments to comment censorship. Some bloggers felt that social sharing (Facebook, twitter, etc.) were more powerful than comments because the shares reach a wider audience.  I have posted my blog on my Facebook and have tweeted the address and have seen a direct correlation between my post and the number of views I receive on those days.  So, I am going to take this a step further and invite my friends and followers to share/re-tweet my post with their friends and see how this impacts my traffic.  I am hoping that I can increase my following and get more people posting comments, feedback, and questions because unlike some of the participants tonight, I do enjoy the comments.  They are what motivate me to write, and the last few days have been a bit of a dry spell for me.

So under the advice of @problogger, I pose this question to my readers:  Do blog comments matter to you?
 
 
The last two days have been a bit hectic for me.  I travelled to Red Deer for the long weekend to spend time with my family and had lots to do to get ready to leave in addition to my regularly scheduled routine.  I am applying for a few scholarships this week that will hopefully pay for my last semester of school.  Two of them required a couple of reference letters, so I rushed to picked those up yesterday before my flight so I would have them to send away this weekend.  My professors wrote some of the kindest words about me and so I decided to create a tab on my blog to post my letters.  This spawned what would become an HTML nightmare.

It all started when I decided that my pages were starting to look a bit monotonous with the header, the white space below that and then the footer underneath.  I thought that since the letters I would be posting were on white paper, it would be much more aesthetically pleasing if the white box was instead the same blue colour as the background. I searched around Weebly's website for answers and figured out I needed to create and add another page type to my options.  Easy enough.  So I did that, but apparently you also have to format the HTML code as well, otherwise you end up with a blank page with little hyperlinks in the top corner for your tabs.  Not cool.  I created a website once in high school using HTML, but that was in the late 90s so I needed a bit of a refresher.  Two hours later I thought I had it figured out until I tried to change the header picture and the save options had been disabled.  I got the spinny wheel of death and then my laptop died.  I felt like throwing it across the room but instead threw in the towel.

That lasted about 10 minutes because all I could think about was that bland background and how horrible my little rays of sunshine were going to look on it.  So I fiddled and googled and fiddled some more, and I won.  That's right. I got my HTML code and my header too.  Take that Weebly - hi-ya!
 
 
About a year ago, a teacher I follow on Facebook posted a link to a kindergarten teacher-blogger who was hosting a giveaway on her blog.  I checked out the details and found that to enter her contest you had to follow her top 40 list of bloggers.  So I did and also decided to bookmark the blogs to my browser for future reference.  Needless to say I didn't do much following because who wants to check out 40 blogs everyday?  But now thanks to my new tool, Google Reader, I have created a folder for my educational blogs and then subscribed to each of them so I can check one place to see who has posted new material.  Brilliant!  I have complied a list of my favourites for you below.
This is a 3rd grade teacher from the United States.  I like her blog because she shares lots of great resources and videos of things she has tried in the classroom.  She has also provided a list of her favourite online tools.

This is a neat blog with an environmental/global education perspective.  Her teaching principles include geographical knowledge and understanding, cultural awareness, working together as a global community to solve real-world issues, sharing the responsibility of caring for the Earth, and global kindness.  This blog also has some great links to facilitate connections to teachers all over the world.

This is a 2nd grade teacher blog from the United States.  She shares tons of resources and ideas from her classroom which is great because she also provides feedback for how things went when she tried them out.

I liked this blog by Shelley Gray because it is Canadian.  She blogs from a primary perspective and because she is in Manitoba, and their curriculum is very close to Saskatchewan's in some areas, her ideas can easily be adapted to meet our outcomes. I also follow Shelley on Facebook and used some of her resources during my pre-internship.

This 1st grade teacher blogger has great resources on her blog and on Teachers Pay Teachers.  She also posts a lot of freebies on her site, so it is a great one to follow.

This is a blog I hope to use a lot during my internship as I will be in a kindergarten/discovery pre-school classroom.  She has some great literacy resources and a tour of her classroom setup.

This is another 1st grade blogger.  I like the tabs at the top showcasing the literacy and math centers, as you can never have too many ideas for those!  

This blog has great resources for toddlers and pre school kids, which will also be valuable during my internship.

Lastly, this blog is a literacy resource for primary students.  It features lots of ideas and resources for teaching reading to young students.  This is one that would be valuable to primary teachers for finding different strategies to help meet different learners' needs.