Friday, December 18, 2009

So I'm Excited

I must admit to being a bit more than a little excited when my torchbearer uniform arrived today. Last week I found out that I would be running in Kelowna and, while disappointing not to be in Vernon, is still better than say, Revelstoke!

There are lots of reasons not to get excited about the Olympics - all the $$ that could be going for education/health care, etc. But it is unique, in that it brings people together from all over the world into one focused event. The torch also is a symbol for all the people of Canada that have a chance to experience it as it passes by. People need connections to other people and as an 'ordinary Canadian' connecting to thousands of other Canadians I am grateful for the connections I will be able to make.
Practicing the 'pose'.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing with Pythagoras

Geogebra is an amazing (free) tool for creating interactive math applets. I downloaded it yesterday, spent a few hours going through some tutorials and managed to create this applet related to the Pythagorean Theorem. Which I was pretty excited about. I would have liked to include sliders to change the size of the angles but I couldn't figure out how to link the slider to the angle. Anyone know how?

Not only that but it's super easy to add this to a Moodle web page. Which I've done.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

There's a Large Empty Spot

There's a large empty spot in my living room (and a smaller one in my heart) where my piano once stood. I sold it to a colleague whose 7-yr old daughter is just learning to play.

My first piano was purchased by my paternal grandmother when I was about 7. I just remember that it had a lot of chipped keys. When I was 12 we moved and the piano didn't move with us. In Port Moody my parents purchased another piano - a reconditioned one that I've had ever since. I played it all the way through to Royal Conservatory Gr. 10. When I got married I asked that my parents give it to me as a wedding present. Our first apartment (at UBC) was way too small for the piano but when we moved to 12th and Granville the piano came up the stairs thanks to a bunch of strong friends (and pizza/beer). When we moved to Vernon, it had to make its way (sideways) up the elevator into our apartment, then a few months later into the lower floor of our first home. Ten years later it came with us to our present house and has occupied the same spot for 20 years.

It's been a wonderful companion but lately has been showing its age. It has become more difficult to keep it in tune, although the technician that came over last Sunday to look it over, did a fabulous job of tuning it and fixing up a few things. I'm playing it less and less and when I do play it's usually when Ross is watching some sporting event on TV which probably irritates him. An electric keyboard with headphones will solve that.

So now I'm shopping for a keyboard. [I do have a small Casio hooked up to my computer so I'm not totally keyboard-less.]

I hope, Isla, that you get as much enjoyment from it as I have for 40+ years. I've obtained, not just enjoyment, but a pathway to a career, a lifetime pastime/hobby and my musical skills have led to many friendships. Getting that piano when I was 7 changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I hope it does the same for you! Mastering it will not be easy - but it could be one of the most important things you do.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Short rant

2 things I'd like to eliminate.
1. double-you, double-you, double-you: If you're giving someone the name of a website don't bother with that part. Please. Most browsers/people can figure it out.
2. honking every time you lock your car. Not necessary. Try locking without honking.
There. I feel better.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

♥ Bobby McFerrin

In fact that's who this blog is named after - I love his improvisatory ability.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gridlock in County Cork

If you happen to be driving from Blarney Castle to Bantry on Aug. 15 about 4:00 in the afternoon, you might want to take a different route. Here we were, driving along a deserted, narrow country road when we came upon the worst traffic jam we've ever been in. Apparently Aug. 15 is a church holiday (Assumption?) and there is a shrine in this remote graveyard and about 200-300 people showed up for the special mass. The road is very narrow (imagine a very narrow road in Canada, then go for about half that with no shoulders) and of course cars were parked on both sides leaving barely enough room for one car to get through.

It didn't take long for a whole mess of cars to gridlock. We got there just as the mass was ending and it took almost 30 minutes for the people parked at the front to leave and let the rest of us out. At first Ross started to steam a bit until I started seeing the humour in the situation.

Early on this large truck made it through to our surprise. The passenger had to get out and fold in the mirrors of the cars on the side of the road so he could fit.The garda (police) couldn't really do much in this situation.It happens every year on this day. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Bantry House

They call it a 'house' but we might call it a castle. It was an amazing place with vast, beautiful gardens and furnishings that were a feast for the eyes. We walked up the hundred steps and had this view of the 'house' and Bantry Bay.

Egerton lived in the house as a boy, inherited the estate in 1978 and is a descendant of the original Earl of Bantry. He didn't inherit the title as it had been passed on to a sister or daughter and titles couldn't pass to females. He's a sweet man and I felt kind of guilty when he carried my bag up the stairs to our room.
There was a music festival happening in Bantry with a concert in the library of the house that evening. We heard "Masters of Tradition" on pipes, fiddle, guitar, tin whistle, singing with stories accompanying each piece of music.

In the morning, after a fabulous breakfast served by Egerton, we toured the house which was full of items from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is the dining room. No flash photography was allowed so I was experimenting with settings on my camera so they might not be that clear.Something's an antique in Canada if it's about 100 years old but they have a different perspective on 'antique'. This tapestry in one of the rooms had been made for Marie Antoinette. The view from our room of one of the gardens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

National Pastimes in Ireland

When we got up yesterday morning we were greeted by groups of sports fans singing outside our apartment making their way on the tram to the stadium in the north of town (Croke). Most of the people in town were decked out in the jerseys of their favourite team as the national finals for the two most popular sports in Ireland were taking place. Gaelic Football is similar to rugby and hurling is a game like grass hockey only with a lot more action and the players are allowed to toss the ball in the air and hit it like a baseball. It was quite amazing to see so many people wearing the team jerseys and I think the atmosphere in the stadium was much like we might expect a soccer match to be with lots of drinking and singing.

Of course another pastime is Irish dancing which we got a little taste of (in addition to a pint) at the Guinness brewery yesterday. Tonight we're heading to the Gaiety theatre for a performance of Riverdance.

It's kind of odd here but all the signs are in two languages - English and what we would call Gaelic, although it would be called Irish here. All students study it in school. We also went to see the ancient Book of Kells, an incredibly beautiful and intricate manuscript over 1000 years old.

The weather has been kind of gray with the occasional drop of rain and ray of sunshine. Not enough rain to worry about and warm enough to enjoy. We're hoping it stays dry for our golf game tomorrow at Clontarf Golf Course.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Taking the Tour

We seem to finally be adjusting to the time difference - it took a few days and both Ross and I were on different schedules - I'd sleep and he'd wake up, he'd sleep and I'd be awake.

Yesterday we managed 2 tours - one at the old Kilmainham Gaol (jail) and of course the Guinness Brewery. The 'modern' jail was built over 200 years ago and was the site of many hangings and executions. The public hangings were very popular as entertainment and the most recent executions were of political rebels in the 1920s. This photo shows the newer section of the prison built in the 1800s where just a few guards could keep an eye on all the prisoners.Everywhere you look in this town there is evidence of the role Guinness plays. This was on the ceiling of one of the many pubs we've visited.The pubs actually provide some interesting architecture among all the red and gray brick buildings.Today we're heading off for a tour of Malahide Castle and the north coast.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Guinness and Leprechauns

If we have enough of the former we may see the latter. On our way to the Emerald Island this morning. I'll try to keep you updated with photos of the green-ness.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Originally uploaded by lhadfield
They may not actually be sunflowers but the name is still apropos. Just tried to catch a few with my new Nikon D90 camera.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Virtual Learning

Just returned from my 5th online learning conference. I blogged about the first one and lamented about the use of powerpoint. Four years later the presentations have actually improved significantly. For some reason, presenters have realized their audiences can actually read what's on the screen as well as they can.

Besides powerpoint the biggest change (maybe for me as well as others) is the continued move towards quality and engaging environments for students. "How is what we are doing helping students learn?" and "What can we do to help facilitate the learning?"

A focus for me in the coming year will be assessment for learning, giving students feedback that they can then apply to future work. In other words, feedback that helps them learn. In online learning we don't often have the luxury of seeing the process of learning. The focus is mostly on the product: do the lesson, do the assignment, next lesson. With the focus on assessment for learning students aren't 'graded' until they have had plenty of time to practice what they're supposed to learn. Assignments aren't necessarily for marks but for learning. Tests are for marks. The analogy is from sports: the practices don't count, the games do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Response to Comments from Last Post

Once my response to the comment below got longer than most posts I decided a new post was in order.

I guess the difference is between communicating one-to-one or one-to-many (typical class) so the form of communication takes on various slants.

Keeping the focus in an online class - this is a learned skill (learned by me that is) similar to in a classroom. How do you keep the students engaged? Using Elluminate I incorporate the following:
-frequent opportunities for the students to respond (e.g. type your answer in the chat box to this question OR click the green check if you agree with the previous student's response - these are built into the online classroom environment). Don't go longer than a minute or so without having the students respond in some way.
-opportunities for the students to interact - I'll put them in breakout rooms to answer a question as a group)
-good visuals - no one wants to stare at a blank screen or a 'talking head' video.
-using the whiteboard effectively - last week each of my students wrote a math question on the whiteboard and another student answered it
-keep my own talking to a minimum
-some form of wrap up accountability (e.g. at the end of this class, before you log off, you'll be expected to . . .)

Focus isn't such an issue when I'm meeting on Elluminate to explain a topic or concept to a student. The other communication techniques (email, IM'ing) I was mostly thinking about one-to-one communication.

Video Chat vs F2F
Due to bandwidth issues I don't use straight video very often but it's interesting that you note the difference. In a F2F environment everyone is much more spontaneous. Even without lag time, on a video chat you tend to let the person finish before you speak, there is little overlap because the audio doesn't respond as well, people are less inclined to have 'offhand' or 'aside' remarks. I also think there is less body language and less intonation used. In a formal setting this probably leads to greater efficiency but less 'humanity' (not sure if that's the right descriptor).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How many ways can I communicate?

As a classroom teacher I rarely gave any thought to the forms of communication I'd use with my students. Lots of thought to WHAT I was communicating but little about HOW.

As an online teacher, communicating with students is really job one. Not much actually counts or makes much sense if you can't communicate effectively. Fortunately there are many more ways to communicate as an online teacher than there are in the classroom where I used only one (F2F). Here are the different ways I communicate starting with the MOST effective.

F2F - You just can't improve on face to face communication. Body language, facial expression, and intonation are what we're wired for.

Elluminate - the online classroom: text, audio, visuals, video, etc. Elluminate is how I conduct my online classes as well as meet students for a variety of reasons.

Phone - Highly effective; rarely used as a 'regular' teacher.

Email - Great for one way communication; well it could be 2-way but it really acts like one way.

Moodle Messaging - Sending a student a message on Moodle while they're online is quick, easy and to the point. Not intended for in depth communication.

Gmail Chat/MSN - Also quick and easy as long as they have an account. Useful for the "I'm stuck on question 2" types of queries I've had.

I know some online teachers also use Skype but so far I haven't with students. And this list isn't exhaustive - I also communicate through assignment comments, report cards, etc. but that's not dialogue.

There's NOTHING in the online world that can come close to F2F communication but by using a variety of tools we can do things differently and in some cases be even more effective. The student who seldom raises their hand in class may be less reluctant to text a question or comment. And because communication is so important the quality of the communication we do have may increase. But it take effort and persistence.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More photos for Liz

Here's more photos you can browse through. (Preferable at report card time as a task-avoidance technique)

Recent Popular Posts