Chelsi's Educational Musings

Archive for November 3rd, 2011

Sharing by ryancr, on Flickr
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…as demonstrated by these insanely cute guinea pigs!

Last night, our EC&I 831 class was treated to a presentation by Dean Shareski.  I had viewed the link to that Alec had suggested, as well as the awesome video that he had created for Alec’s birthday.  Anyone who can put something together a video of that magnitude would probably be a pretty great presenter!  He did not disappoint!  (See his blog for more interesting and entertaining posts!)

When I read “Dean Shareski” listed beside a presentation about The Importance of Sharing and Learning, I have to admit that I thought that “Shareski” was a nickname that had been given to Dean due to his love of online collaboration and social networking.  Turns out he was gifted with a name that suits his personality…or maybe his personality suits his name?  Whatever the case, our class participated in a worthwhile presentation that had me thinking today about how much (and how little) teachers actually share, why we share, and how we can share with others.

Sharing…it’s a very simple concept that we learn as toddlers.  The reasons why we share as adults are much the same as when we were young – to make people happy, to help others, to give back, and to learn.  With each passing class, I find myself becoming more and more aware of how much I share and I receive online.  I posted last week about my feelings regarding the lack of links I have posted to our Delicious stack.  I feel like I’m in a lop-sided relationship with Delicious, as I have taken far more from our class stack than I have contributed, but I really am always on the look out for things to add, honest!  Before this class, I was not as cognitive about how much I share online.  Now, I hear friends or colleagues make statements and then find myself thinking, “We talked about that in class!”  For example, one of my husband’s friends said that I post more pictures and links on Facebook than anyone he knows.  He did not say that negatively, but simply as an observation.  I am very aware that I post a lot of pictures, and whenever I find something that I think someone would enjoy or be interested to read, I post it on Facebook.  (I am now posting much more of these articles on Twitter as well since starting EC&I 831).  WHY do I share so much in this way, I wondered?  Dean answered many of those questions for me last night.  He made statements such as:

“The internet is not just a place to ‘look up stuff’; it’s a place to connect with people.”
“Commenting is as important as blogging.”
“We share to make people happy!”

Each statement resonated with me, as these are the reasons why I enjoy sharing articles, pictures, and websites with others.  When sharing educationally with colleagues and other teachers, I do so because I know how much I appreciate when someone shares with me.  Our days are already busy enough, and it makes everything a bit easier when someone is willing to share their work.  Besides, it is like a good recipe – if someone is willing to share a teaching resource with me, I can usually be sure that it will work and will be worthwhile.

Dean asked a question that I have been thinking about all day.  He asked us, “What is your best work, and where can I find it?”  Artistically, my best work is in my house, such as paintings on my walls and projects that I have created.  Some of the jewellery that I have made has been some of my best artistic work, and some of the neatest moments for me are when I see my jewellery being worn by people whom I have never met!  Academically, however, most of my best work sits in files in a boxes in my basement, and that is quite sad to me.  I have now made it a goal to publish some of my lesson plans online, either on my website that I am creating for my final project, or in our staff documents library so that other teachers can use them.  As a start, I would like to share a Webquest that I created that I feel is one of my best projects.  This Webquest began as an undergrad class project in my last year of university.  At a garage sale one day, I found a 90-year-old autograph book that had no information regarding the owner other than the messages to her.  While reading through it, I inferred that she was a nurse in Saskatchewan who contracted tuberculosis, but recovered and continued nursing.  The autographs span over 40 years, and I thought that if I enjoyed reading through the book this much, students would probably love playing detective, too.  It took me FOREVER, but I scanned almost 100 pages of autographs on my old, primitive scanner back then, and made them into a Webquest.  (I have the real book that the students take turns looking through, too.)  I have used the project in Social Studies while teaching about Saskatchewan, in Health for Communicable Diseases, and in Reading to teach strategies such as inferring and making connections.  If I had the time, I would re-do the site, as it looks kind of outdated now.  I also would like to re-scan the autographs or simply take pictures and upload them, as the scans are small and grainy due to my scanner that I used eight years ago.  However, I have added to the Webquest, created additional lessons, and modified for my EC&I 833 class.  I have used it every year with my class, no matter what grade I have taught.  It is one of the most well-received projects that I have taught, and the students buy into it hook, line, and sinker!  When Dave Cormier was speaking to us last week on Rhizomatic Learning and teaching students as nomads rather than workers, I thought about this project.  I had a student who was the epitome of a nomad.  He was very smart, yet completely clashed with many of this teachers.  He and I clicked, however, and he excelled at projects like this.  He worked on the Webquest at home each night and when he had completed it, he actually tracked down the last person to sign an autograph, and with his dad’s help, he phoned and interviewed her about the autograph book.  He found out that the last person to sign the book in 1952 was the niece of the owner, and she provided him with a plethora of information, pictures, and stories.  He presented all of his findings to the class, and we compared how close their interpretations of the real owner were to what the student had discovered.  The class was amazed to see how accurate their inferences were, and I was so impressed by how this student had gone above and beyond the project’s requirements.

Dean’s presentation also made me think about the importance of having my students share their work.  Tomorrow, my students are presenting “Radio Plays” that they have written.  Rather than simply present to the class, I am hoping to have each group create a Voicethread that I can post on our class blog next week.  I will let you know how this goes!  In the meantime, I am interested to hear where your best work can be seen –  whether it is your children, as some people said, a specific document, an artistic achievement, a website, or anything else!

In the meantime, I will leave you with an interesting clip pertaining to the 7 billionth person being born recently.  Are you typical?