I recently presented with a colleague to a group of parents regarding school goal setting.  We discussed and presented the process of goal setting and then looked at how this process can possibly and hopefully develop between the community and school.  As many of you know, in Saskatchewan, the parent/community councils that work with schools are now known as the School Community Council (SCC).  Our presentation focused on ways that the SCC can become actively engaged and part of the school goal setting process. In the opening, contextual piece of the presentation we challenged our session participants to think of the school that they attended and then to think of the ideal school they would like their child to attend.  What should students learn in school today to become productive and contributing members to our ever-changing world?  As part of our presentation, we shared the following video. The video is not really that new, however, every time I watch it a tidbit or two stands out for me and reminds me of some of the personal goals I have as part of my own professional development.  Have a great week everyone!!

To date, my journey through eci831 can be described as informative and eye-opening to say the least. Right now, I would rate myself as being at the “messy” stage of learning in the course. I’m trying to figure it all out, learn everything, read everything and have it all done by yesterday. As I work through all of our course material, blogs and tweets, I am in a constant state of learning new things and as mentioned above, trying to figure it all out. I am following Mark McGuire’s blog – http://markmcguire.net/ and ran across a fun diversion from all of my deep thinking. His post is called “Five Card Stories” and refers to a post by Alan Levine in his blog, CogDogBlog. As I experimented with what I thought was going to be an amusing way to spend some time and procrastinate, I found the process of creating my 5 Card Flickr Story a great way to start formulating my final reflection and summary of learning in #eci831.

Check out Mark or Alan’s post for more information on the process.  After a bit of experimentation, I found my way in this new (to me) way of story telling. I love the educational opportunities the 5 card story presents.  Anyhow, here goes…


Five Card Story: #eci831 – My Five Card Flickr Story

a Five Card Flickr story created by Dean Schwebius


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae

With eyes wide open I start this journey that will take us down similar and different paths. This journey will lead us to new and exciting places, connect us with others and open up the world of education in a way that I have never experienced.


All the best, take care and see you in the chat room on Tuesday! If you live in Saskatchewan, have a great Education Week!

In 1999 I was teaching in a relatively “traditional” classroom environment. By traditional, I mean that students walked through the school doors each morning, sat at desks, opened books, ate lunch, and did all of the regular things that students did in traditional schools. At the end of that school year, I moved to Alberta and began teaching at an online school. When I was hired, I questioned my employer’s hiring of me for the job. I had little, if any, technological training and skills, I had only begun using email in the third year of my undergraduate degree and wasn’t quite sure what an attachment was! My new Principal assured me that she had not, in fact, made a mistake by hiring me and that everything I needed to know would be taught to me by experienced teachers at the school. The mentorship relationship that developed between me and several teachers at the school was my first experience of community building in the virtual world. Some colleagues I saw everyday and some I saw twice a year. The revolutionary concept for me at the time was that in spite of this, I was in touch with my staff community everyday and that everyday we as a staff had the opportunity to connect without seeing each other.

My classroom was my computer, a cubicle and class lists of students with their corresponding email addresses. In the weeks, months and three years that followed, I got to know my students by posting lessons online, sending them morning email messages, responding to their work, answering their questions by email and telephone and using a program similar to the one we use for eci831 for extra-help sessions. In this way, I experienced a second way that communities could be built in a virtual environment.

At the time, the concept and operation of such schools was relatively new and in many ways as a staff we shared a common belief that in some ways we were pioneers. We knew how to teach, however, other than the day-to-day contact through email and telephone, we did not have a set course on how to build and foster community. As such, our Administration and division office senior administrators allowed us the freedom to develop classroom and school-wide communities in a variety of ways. The school year opened with a meet and greet BBQ. Throughout the school year there were opportunities for students to participate on sports teams, perform in a talent show, attend parent-teacher interviews and graduate in a grade 12 graduation ceremony. Not all students could attend, however, those that could were able to extend their virtual education into another setting. These live, in-person interactions became the third and very powerful way in which I experienced being part of a community in the virtual world.

The concept of online, distance education is common today and most traditional schools have students that take these courses as well as the regular “classroom” courses offered. Taking time to reflect on these experiences has given me a chance to see where my personal journey into online education started and is continuing today.

Please feel free to share your online educational experiences and if possible, please describe how community was built or not. As always I thank you for your responses and look forward to hearing from you.

Delicious.com is sweet!

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Some readers of this post may be familiar with delicious.com and the ability to connect with others using this social bookmarking site.  If so, you may want to skip this post as the information I am about to share may be somewhat basic for the experienced delicious.com user.

During the eci831 Sept. 20th session, the class was presented with some of the essential web tools that will be used during this course.  I have been working on my blogging skills using Word Press and so far I have been able to put together a relatively basic and functional blog.  With some level of comfort in this, I moved onto the next tool, delicious.com. Why use delicious.com? There has to be a reason why this is an essential course tool for eci831.  I started by watching a few YouTube videos (this video uses the old delicious.com address) and then with a basic understanding, weighed the pros and cons of learning another web-tool. I thought “Why do I need to log onto this site to access bookmarks that I already have saved in my favorites?”  Simply put, delicious.com allows me to access my bookmarks if I am not at my own computer.  Makes sense right?  Yes, but as I activated an account and started exploring the tool, I realized that the benefit for me (and I assume others) is much more than the ability to simply add bookmarks and bundle them.  For me the power and usefulness of delicious.com is the ability to connect and network when exploring the bookmarks of other delicious.com users. It’s a pretty simple process of adding bookmarks and tagging them which allows you to then see how many other delicious.com users have tagged and bookmarked similar sites. For example, I am teaching Social Studies 9 and am currently researching Ancient Mesopotamia.  I found a relevant site, added it to my bookmarks, tagged it “mesopotamia.” That completed, I saw that 122 other delicious.com users have bookmarked this site. I can then check out their bookmarks and any other bookmarks associated with the tag “mesopotamia.” Very quickly, my resource file of any and all things “mesopotamia” grew very rapidly.  The next phase of my learning and use of delicous.com is to determine how to feed this information back to me with (I am assuming) a RSS feed.  I would appreciate any advice on this and welcome all tips and suggestions associated with delicious.com . Tomorrow, my grade 8/9 social class begins using delicious.com and I am sure they will find it as useful and as engaging as I do.  Having said this, I am sure that most of them are already using it and as usual I have now caught up to my students!

To continue from my last post regarding staff and student participation in extracurricular activities, I have begun some research on the topic.  More specifically, the benefits of these activities on student performance at school.  One of the first articles I found was in Regina’s daily newspaper, the Leader-Post, August 24th, 2011.  This article provides a basic summary of the benefits of extracurricular activities for students.  Although I believe it is widely accepted that these activities are beneficial for students, this article does provide some information that may be useful to staff, students and parents/caregivers.  I welcome all discussion and feedback on this topic and more specifically this article. Extracurricular activities could help improve school performance

As an avid rugby fan, coach and former player, I am thoroughly enjoying watching the Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand this fall. Although the time difference can make it a bit inconvenient to watch live games, the invention of the PVR makes the life of the die-hard fan much easier. Team Canada played their opening match against Tonga on Sept. 14th, 2011. Being a proud Canadian and a bit of a purist, I had to watch the game live and became quite caught up in the match as Canada went up, down and up again to secure a win. The fan in me cheered, agonized and hoped for a victory. The player in me imagined the crunch of the tackles and remembered the force of a scrum. The teacher and coach in me analyzed tackle positions, critiqued set piece formations and identified fundamental ball handling skills. After the game and upon reflection a day or more after, I also began to reminisce on my days as a high school coach that started in Saskatchewan and carried on into rural Alberta. The connections made with the players I coached and the educators I coached with provided me with some of the most valuable professional development I have ever experienced. Teaching skills, overcoming adversity, winning, losing and connecting with students on another level outside of the classroom will surely be counted as some of the highlights of my teaching career. Having said this, how does an educator balance the demands of self, family, teaching with countless hours on the pitch…or the basketball court, or the stage, or whatever? Although the benefits of coaching and leading in extra-curricular events is without a doubt, in my opinion, beneficial to both teacher and student, where is the balance and can there indeed be balance? I welcome discussion and perspective on this topic and will close this post by leaving a link of the Canada/Tonga match highlights and well wishes to Team Canada as they prepare to play France on Sunday.

Well, here we are!

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Tonight I begin with my first post in my first blog. With this post I begin my journey into the world of graduate education. Technologically speaking, I am an educator who has experienced hand written report cards, using email when it was a novelty, teaching at an online school, moving back to a traditional classroom and school environment and now beginning the next phase of my education with an online course.  As many teachers of my vintage may attest, this journey has been fast-paced, at times frustrating, rewarding and always with a glimpse to future possibilities.  Possibilities that may lead to increased learning opporunities for the students I serve as well as my personal growth and development as an educator. I look forward to the journey ahead in EC & 831 and the skills, knowledge and connections I will gain in the process.