For my C4T assignment I was assigned to teacher Kathy Cassidy's blog, Primary Preoccupation. The post I read was about a Canadian educators conference Unplugd11, the people that attended gave up their time and paid their own way to get there. Everyone met at a hotel in downtown Toronto and traveled by train to a solar-powered experience at Norther Edge Algonquin, a retreat center on a lake surrounded by a forest. There is no internet access, or cell service there. No contact with the outside world. There was just rich and passionate conversation. Everyone that came brought a piece of writing with them. They divided into groups that worked on the writing and brought it together in a collaborative authorship experience. She talked about how all the food there was organic and locally raised. Mealtime was a time for relaxed conversation. She wrote about how the next conference Unplugd12 was not going to be just for Canadians. It will be for educators across the world to come together in an international education summit. Kathy plans on going back for more great conversations, unspoiled wilderness, writing, and great food.
This sounds like a wonderful experience, and something I would love to attend when I become an educator. I think it shows the dedication these teachers have to being great educators in that they were willing to give up their time and pay their own way to attend. Their willingness to unplug from the rest of the world shows the true passion they have about education.
The next blog post I read of Kathy's was Nintendo DS: An Assessment Tool?
Some weeks before she had a Bring Your Own Device Day. After seeing her students enthusiasm, and what could be done with their DS she decided to do it again. One of the interesting features of the DS and the DSi is called PictoChat. PictoChat allows you to chat with other Nintendo DS machines through its own wireless connection. She talks about how useful the DS was to help with spelling. Usually she would say a word, ask the students to sound it out and write it down. Then she would have to go to each students individually to check what they had written. With the DS units they all logged into the same chat room in Pictochat and wrote each word as it was said, but didn’t click on the send button until we counted “1, 2, 3, send”. This was a much better way to assess the students’ understanding. Within ten seconds she knew exactly who needed help and with what. The students were able to help assess as well. Because of all the correct answers flying by, students could instantly self-assess as well. Most did not need to have their peers point out their errors–they could see the mistakes for themselves.Later when doing number sentences to go with number stories, the same held true.
I think this a great idea for a way to use something that so many children have as an educational tool. My children has the DS, and the DSi and I had no idea this feature was on there! It could maybe even be used as a way for them to help test each other at home! The only problem would be if you couldn't come up with enough for every student. I do think it would be well worth the investment to be able to have a class set! This was an awesome idea!