Archive for April, 2010

Pros and Cons of Blackberry Curve

Posted on April 29, 2010. Filed under: personal, Technology | Tags: , |

The Blackberry Curve with the trackpad is one of the newer Blackberrys that are out right now, and I thought I would share a little bit about the things I like and the things I don’t.  I have had it for just about a month…

PROS

Trackpad- It doesn’t have a trackball but a track pad.  I really like this feature.  It is easy to maneuver and once you get used to it it’s quite easy to use.  All you have to do is slide your finger right and left to move sideways, and slide your finger up and down to scroll or move the cursor up and down.


Blackberry Instant Messaging- A really cool feature of all Blackberry’s is the opportunity to “text” or chat between Blackberry’s for free.  Each Blackberry has a pin number and if you can get someone else’s pin, you can instant message them free of charge whenever you want.

Home Screen- I like the customizable home screen where you can fit approximately 6 icons that are short cuts to your applications.  I have customized mine to be messages, (where ALL messages show up- Twitter, email, FB, missed calls etc.) instant messaging (this is where I can see the BB to BB messages), calendar, contacts, SMS text, and applications (facebook for BB, calculator, memo pad, Word/Excel/PPT to go, etc.) My home screen has my most used icons and I rarely need to click my BB button to get to all the other BB apps.

(Sorry this is not a picture of my home screen- I haven’t taken one yet)

CONS

The buttons- I find that the buttons are just a bit too small to press with your thumbs when texting.  The buttons are not soft like other BB I have seen, but the buttons are kind of like a little keyboard.  BB may have done this on purpose so that the wrong keys are not as easy to press down when texting, but it’s definitely not my favorite feature.

The screen- I love that the screen is big and nice and easy to see, but the only problem I have with it is that when you put it up to your face, it gets streaky and smeared because of the oils on your face.  No I don’t have an extremely oily face, just average!  It is just something that bothers me because I don’t have a cover for my phone.

Battery- I find that the battery on my BB Curve runs out so quickly! It is getting better since I first bought it, but it is no where near the span that my 3 year old cell phone had.  A friend told me that she heard the battery will improve over time, I hope so because right now I NEED to plug it in every night or else it won’t make it through the next day.  This is a big downfall for me for this phone.

Freezing- I haven’t had much trouble with my phone freezing.  It has only happened once, and it was actually today.  The keyguard was on and I couldn’t press the buttons to unlock the keys.  I had to hold the power button for five seconds and it automatically shut down.  When I turned it back on, it went back to the keyguard screen, and I pressed the appropriate buttons and it worked.  We’ll see if it happens again I guess.

Overall- I really like the phone. This is my first data phone, and I don’t think I will ever go back.  I love being able to access the internet at anytime, and I like the way it is set up.  I have used it to take pictures, and they have turned out well, but I haven’t really gotten into video or voice record yet, I haven’t really needed to.  I like the idea of free texting to other Blackberrys and I try to use this whenever I can.  The cosmetic downfalls of hard buttons and a smudgy screen are easy to overlook when there are so many great things about this phone.  The only thing that really sucks is the minimal battery life.  If the battery life improves I will give this phone an 8 out of 10.  If it doesn’t, it will drop down to a 6.5 or a 7/10 because of the inconvenience.

* If you have any pros or cons that you would like me to mention about this phone, just comment on this post and I will add them in!*

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Lawyers Speak a Different Language

Posted on April 28, 2010. Filed under: House hunting, personal, reflection |

Excuse the language, but I thought this was a funny cartoon that had to do with my post today… lawyer language.

Jon and I went to a lawyer in Regina yesterday to sign our lives away, or in other words, buy a house.  We are meeting tonight with a woman I work with to put an offer on her house she’s selling privately, so we needed to prepare an offer to purchase beforehand.  Well, the lawyer emailed me during the day yesterday and told me the only time he had open was at 4:45.  That’s pretty much 15 minutes before closing time I guess, so he zoomed through these papers with us, and when I say zoomed, I am not exaggerating.  He didn’t explain any of the meanings to us, and he honestly barely pronounced words when he was reading back to us what we signed; he was actually jumping over complete words!  For all the teachers out there reading, if I was benchmarking him, he would have had a ton of errors, and his fluency would be quite low!

The other thing that scared and bothered me yesterday was the amount of money he assumed we had in our bank account.  He was talking about a deposit we needed and he wanted me to write a cheque yesterday for $5000.  I didn’t think this was a problem because I thought it would be held until after the sale went through, but no, when Jon asked him when it would come out of our bank- he said tomorrow.  Jon and I had to laugh because we really just don’t have $5000 in our bank account!  I’m sure he does, dang, I should have asked if he would pay it for us and we could have given him an I.O.U.  But either way, it was so crazy for me that he just assumed this.  Jon and I are not rich by any means, but I do believe we are well off, and it just made me realize that for some people the idea of purchasing a house is unheard of!  Even if they are pre-approved for x amount of dollars, there are all these other fees and costs that come with this type of purchase.  Thank goodness my parents are helping us out, and that God has blessed us at this time so that this is something we can do.  I realize not everyone has this opportunity, and so even though the lawyer language is frustrating, I am not taking this for granted, but I count myself blessed.

On the other hand, if you haven’t gone through this yet, and you have any questions, feel free to ask- Jon and I as we are trying to learn as we go!

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Coping with Death By Social Networking??

Posted on April 26, 2010. Filed under: personal, reflection, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology | Tags: , |

Today I was on Facebook and realized that three of my Facebook friends (younger girls from the youth group I work at, or girls I coached cheerleading to) had joined a memorial group that was made for a young Regina girl who passed away this weekend.  I don’t know the details, but from reading some of the comments on the page, the death sounded sudden and possibly tragic.  Some of the deceased’s friends have put pictures up on this Facebook page and tagged the girl who had just died.  I find the idea of tagging someone who has died really interesting because of the fact that he/she is no longer able to respond or interact in this way.

This isn’t the first time that people deal with other’s deaths through social networking. I just think of the amount of Twitter and Facebook feeds that have to do with death, especially a celebrity death like Michael Jackson or Brittany Murphy.  Perhaps people feel like they are paying respect by changing their statuses or making a page.  Maybe others are just doing it for “gossip’s sake.”  But this is truly the new way of posting obituaries, and I have to say it is a lot faster and more efficient, and I say this as respectively as possible.

For me as an educator, it raises the question of how we need to deal with death in the classroom.  Are their certain outlets, including technology, that we can use to help our students cope with death?  Death is a part of life, but depending on your background, death can be handled in completely different ways.  How do we find the balance for our individual students within a diverse classroom?  Should it be ignored? My answer is of course not, but it is a road that I will tread lightly and as carefully as possible, that’s for sure.  As for coping with death through social networking, I guess I think it is fine as long as it is done with respect and care.

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Online Collaboration

Posted on April 22, 2010. Filed under: educational, reflection, teaching and learning | Tags: , |

It has been quite fun to collaborate with Paula White’s class in Crozet Virginia.  We did this mostly through wikispaces.  The grade 5’s each have their own wikispace and I am a subscriber to all of them.  They get the opportunity to really put whatever they want on, and do they ever have an imagination!  I basically took it as my job to help them out where I could, and give them advice and ideas.   Alot of the children just wanted people to go to their page and complete the polls they did, or add their favourite thing.  I liked doing this, and it gave me a chance to get to know them and what they like.  For example, just this past week, I got a wikispace mail asking if all of the collaborators of this student’s blog would put their favourite dog on her page.

 

So when I went to her wikispace, sure enough, some of her friends had already put their favourite dog up, and I decided that I also would add mine.

 

Above and beyond these little extras, the children have a big project that they were working on.  They got to pick whatever they would like and it was their job to research it, and come up with whatever they could.  One of the girls in the class decided to research weather, so I tried my best to find information on Virginia weather for her and why it has been so crazy this year!  I also tried to help her find things that compare Saskatchewan weather to Virginia weather because we obviously have different weather patterns.

The most important thing I took away from this assignment is the value of response.  I tried my best to send the students compliments on their work or constructive criticism if I thought something could be done a different way.  I gave one student a compliment on their page, and this is the response I received back:

Did you see that? That’s right… We’re BFFs.  Best friends forever haha.  Anyways, it just helped me realize that positive feedback can really encourage students at this age, and they need it! Everyone needs it!  It has encouraged me to keep providing feedback for these kids, and helping them out where I can.  Hopefully I can teach them something, and they can teach me something!

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Detailed Learning 3 C’s

Posted on April 20, 2010. Filed under: educational |

Phew! Finally time to go into detail about what I feel I have learned in ECMP 455. But where do I start?

Collaboration: Dean Shareski has done an excellent job at pushing us to collaborate in this class. I feel like I have found the value of collaboration more in this class than any other University class I have taken- I know! That’s intense, but true.  As we talk about school, the idea of online collaboration and even “in school” collaboration resonates with me more than ever.  One question that has really struck me is, “What is the point of bringing 20-something children into a classroom and then making them sit in rows and learn by themselves?”  Honestly, if all they get out of being around other kids is a recess playmate or the correct answer from across the room- you might as well have everyone stay at home, do an online class and have them get together with 2 other kids twice a day to play.  There has got to be more to a classroom community than that!

Conversation: Something I have learned this semester is that it’s ok to have a conversation that doesn’t sound like- Yes… me too!… I agree…. I had the exact same thing happen…. etc. etc.  It’s ok to challenge something, or agree with it.  It’s ok to disagree or really hate the idea!  A lot of the higher level thinking I did this semester was due to comments that challenged what I had said on my blog.  Or blog conversations that started with a comment or a post.  Thank goodness for people who don’t agree with everything!  It’s what needs to be happening in classrooms.  When we can teach our students how to respectfully converse about things, think about the learning that can happen!

“Higher level thinking”

Competence– You have no idea how hard it was to come up with another subtitle word that started with c, but I have found it; competence.  Something I learned this semester is that I don’t need to be perfect in every online tool. In fact, I don’t even need to be ok at every tool.  I have learned that I need to pick and choose what works for me, without being afraid of trying new things.  The tools that I think are useful, I should be competent in, but ones that I’m just testing out or looking into, I don’t need to be perfect at! This seems like an obvious thing, but maybe you don’t understand the perfectionist in me.  Sometimes I can spend hours on the computer trying to perfect something, or understand it really well.  This is a problem considering that this semester I tackled two jobs and full time school.  That didn’t leave me a lot of extra time- yet somehow I found it after 11pm.  Not healthy.  Anyways, I have learned the importance of competence in something, and adequacy and where the line is drawn that separates them.

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What I’ve Learned

Posted on April 19, 2010. Filed under: reflection, Technology |

Looking back over this semester’s ECMP class, I feel like I have learned a ton even though I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.  Here is a little video I made about some of the tools I have used over the semester.

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