Archive for March, 2010

What the Hack?

Posted on March 31, 2010. Filed under: educational, reflection, Technology |

Tonight I did an online presentation on hacking, social engineering, phishing and malicious code and how it relates to teachers and learners.  This project was for my ED computers class.  For the past couple months I have been researching and trying to figure out the ins and outs of hacking.  I learned so much and had to try and condense it to a short 15 minute presentation.  I narrowed it down to the who, what when, where, and why of hacking.  I was even able to trick my fellow classmate into giving me her username and password.  I know I am a horrible person- but I did it to prove my point.  Social Engineering is one of the most important tools hackers use to get personal information, and all they do is sucker you in!  Social Engineering basically elicits personal information or passwords from you- and you freely give it over.  Basically all I said was I was locked out of our class Ning and could someone give me their username and password.  Needless to say, it worked!

The most important thing we can do online is to be critical.  You can have the best firewall in the world, but YOU are always the weakest link.  Check out the presentation here.

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My duty as a privileged teacher

Posted on March 31, 2010. Filed under: cultural, educational, personal, reflection |

I have been struggling with a tension lately that has to do with teaching and learning.  I want to know if I am obligated as a privileged teacher of Canada to help over seas.  Let me tell you the story…

It started about a month ago when my parents got back from Uganda.  They went over with their church to help build 2 classrooms for the non profit organization of Watoto.  Watoto’s mission is to take orphaned children off the streets, give them a solid home and family, and give them the best possible education.  Watoto’s desire is to not just give these children an “ok” life, but an EXCELLENT life.  Their dream is that these children will grow up to be the change their country needs.  With a great education they can become politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc. that will work for change in Africa.  They will become the influential members of society that have a heart for the poor and needy.  It is an excellent organization that is doing great things for Uganda.

While my parents were there, they visited Baby Watoto.  This is the centre for babies ages 0-2.  These babies are often underweight and they are in need of immediate medical attention.  On their website, it says “they have been found in pit latrines (toilets), garbage dumps, under trees and bushes, buckets of water, and on doorsteps.”  My tension is not with Baby Watoto and the circumstances these children are coming from because they are getting excellent care.  My tension is because of the story of a little boy named Kevin.

Baby Watoto Building

Kevin is over 2 years old but is still at Baby Watoto because he is blind, deaf and has autistic tendencies.  My dad actually held Kevin for almost the whole day their group was visiting Baby Watoto.  He said that Kevin would just hold onto him and not want to let go.  When Kevin would walk around the Watoto building, he would run into walls and doors. Kevin’s situation  touched my dad in a special way, and there were many tears shed.

(My dad and mom are in the background.  Dad is holding Kevin)

The problem with Kevin’s situation is that because of his special needs, and his circumstance, he will most likely never learn to effectively communicate with others.  His house mothers or nanny’s don’t have the proper education to know how to teach him, and Baby Watoto has 75 other babies that they also need to care for.  My struggle is that I just read Helen Keller’s biography- The Story of My Life.  She lived in the early 1900’s yet mastered language and went on to college!  Her book was one of the most eloquent I have ever read!  She was so blessed to have such a great opportunity, but it was because her family was very influential.  It was actually Alexander Graham Bell who directed her to Miss Sullivan, the teacher who taught Helen how to read, write, speak and communicate!

I am taking a Special Needs class right now and I feel like I know a little bit of information on how to teach children with special needs, and Helen Keller’s book gave me a lot of insight into education for the deaf and blind.  So, I decided to email Baby Watoto and ask them if I could even just email the house nanny’s and give them some ideas.  This is the email I got back from them:

Hi Danielle,
Thanks so much for your email. Yes – the baby with the disabilities you describe is Kevin.  He is such a sweet little boy and we really love him out here.

As you correctly assumed, we struggle to communicate with him on occasions although he is very good at letting us know when he is unhappy or mad about something!!
One of the main problems we have with communicating with special needs children is that we have multiple careers for them.  For anything to be effective it really needs to be kept consistent and regular with all careers which is something we can not guarantee.  He is coming up three and has strong autistic tendencies on top of his physical disabilities.  This makes teaching him things even more tricky. His concentration level is non existent.
So – having said that, any help we can get is always great.
Have you considered coming and volunteering? Have a look on our website to see if this is a possibility?
Otherwise let me know how you think you would be able to contribute?
Thanks again for your email and I look forward to hearing back from you.
God Bless.

Now for my tension: I know I am not extremely qualified to teach people how to educate deaf and blind students, but I do know something.  I love this little boy already, and I don’t even know him.  I really want him to learn how to communicate!  I believe that in some ways, it is my obligation as a privileged educator here in Canada to go over there and help them out!  I want to go, but I don’t have the money to buy a flight over there.  How can I get support for this situation?  What are my options? Or your options?

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Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: personal, Technology |

This is the glog I made for my Theatre class.  We were supposed to make a poster advertising Spring Awakening.  Would you want to go see it after seeing this?

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Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, edublog, educational, Technology |

Our Collaboration project with Crozet Gains is making me miss internship a lot.  We are collaborating with Paula White’s grade 5 math class, and each one has their own wiki.  The excitement these children have for their own learning astounds me.  William’s Math wikispace is a really awesome example of this.  He has so many pages that interest him, and he sends out little wiki mails to his other classmates and collaborators inviting them to edit a certain page he just made, or he asks them to fill out a poll on his poll page.  I bet if you filled out his poll, he would love it- AND get more data from his poll.

This just goes to show that the best learning that can take place is learner centered learning where the learner him/herself takes the initiative and is responsible for the results.  I also believe that learning takes place when there is collaboration involved, and this is evident in William’s wikispace.  I can’t wait to see what else he and his other classmates come up with.

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I need Africa

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: personal, reflection |

This is an awesome video that has resonated with me since my sister went to Kenya, Africa in October and November 2009, and my parents just got back from Uganda a little less than a month ago. Something to think about.

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Educational Assistants

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: cultural, educational, reflection |

This is a response to Becky’s post.  I just had an interview last week with the Student Support supervisor for Regina Public, Morgan Reed, and we had a really good conversation about the support the students with EA’s need.  I also brought up the fact that I had heard EA time was going to be cut, and she agreed that it was- but she also mentioned that Saskatchewan had more EA time then we are supposed to, and significantly more than other provinces.  EA’s do a lot for the classrooms, but too much EA time can also be a bad thing.  Here is why.

In Saskatchewan we are pushing for inclusive classrooms.  This is awesome!  Statistics show that special needs students and mainstream students do better when integration is active.  But too often we just stick special learning students into mainstream classes, and stick them with an EA.  We don’t provide a lot of support for the teacher or the EA. The EA ends up staying by the child’s side the entire day, and a LOT of the time the least qualified person (the EA) ends up teaching the neediest student (with special needs).  This is a problem.  I don’t think that cutting EA time drastically is the answer either- but I do agree with the province putting more supports like psychologists and therapists into the schools.  These people are trained to support the teachers and help them integrate these students effectively into the classroom, not just plop them in.  Reed was also explaining that they have moved from the support team (LRP, therapsits) being in a consultant position to putting them into a few schools.  This way they will work much more closely with teachers, EA’s and parents on a personal level.

Again, I think it is a negative thing when EA time is being cut, but on that same note- the province only has so much money, and from Morgan’s explanation, they are trying to spend it on the best option.  We will have to wait and see if this model works, or if it will also need adapting.

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