Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Personal Learning Environments

I'm not entirely clear on what is meant by Personal Learning Environments (PLE). Graham Attwell has put together a presentation with the basics.
After you have the general idea, go here
for an extensive collection of PLE diagrams.
I'm thinking I won't really understand Personal Learning Environment until I create a diagram of what works for me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Grandmothers on Facebook

I'm not a grandmother yet but I'm sure most of the women I went to elementary school and high school with are. With only 10% of people in my demographic group on facebook and with most women in my day changing their last name when they married, it is really difficult to connect with old classmates.
I've been getting pictures posted by moms in my hometown of their "cutest kids" competition. So far none of the cutest kids pictures have also included grandparents Well I've decided that I'm just going to have to convince the moms to get the grandmas into a "cutest grandkids" competition so the grandmothers will start social networking. Hope it works.
I can't think of a faster way of getting a major network of 50 something facebook members than providing an outlet where it's socially encouraged to haul out pics of the grandkids.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Google Notebooks

If your google notebooks are worth transferring to another site, here are the 4 places that will import them
I, on the other hand, will be leaving mine where they are. If I had been creating original work which required collaboration, it will be worth transferring.
In my case it was more like an overflow from favourites and bookmarks and google reader. It's basically a collection of links separated into categories. There's never time to go back to them because so much new information is flowing in on a daily basis. By the time I look at my facebook friends' recommendations and follow my google reader and perhaps twitter, there's no time for the old links that didn't make favourites. Even my bookmarks don't have much of a chance of being revisited.

If I switch to something similar to Google Notebook, I will start clean and with a lot more preplanning. I jumped into notebook because I didn't spend the money to buy microsoft notebook and thought I must be missing out on something. Next time I intend to know the best use for notebook and whether or not I actually will benefit from the application.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I wasn't into making resolutions at the beginning of the year because all the old ones had been on the list for years and were no more likely to happen this year than any other year.
Finally I found something I'd actually enjoy doing. My resolution is to work my way through the Thinkers50 list. Each week I'll google someone's name and read some interviews or articles. There are a lot of names that are household words - Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Al Gore - well actually around a quarter of them are people I remember hearing on tv and reading their online articles and some of those are even on my reader feed. I'll save those people for the crazy, busy weeks.
I'm actually very interested in the number one choice CK Prahalad. It's much more exciting to read about someone whose work is a new discovery for me.
I think this resolution stands a good chance of happening because last year I spent a bit of time picking various Nobel Prize winners and reading their acceptance speeches, bios and some googled articles so I'm not committing to a radical change in behavior.
I've noticed that men tend to be big readers of biography whereas women are more into the self-help genre for self improvement. What if the guys are right? Obama reads biographies and it worked for him.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Immigrant community and those with learning differences

The best thing that ever happened to dyslexic kids was the increase in the immigrant population. Funding for suitable materials for dyslexic kids was practically non-existant. Rather than getting highly trained teachers, taking on a general learning disability or specific learning disability classroom was seen as a sacrifice one made to get back into the system after a long absence from teaching.
With immigration, there was suddenly funding freed up to get older immigrant students caught up as quickly as possible. There were enough middle school children needing interesting material in simple language to make it worthwhile to publish age appropriate learn-to-read materials.
The slower learners formed coalitions with the immigrant students. I'll tell you the words you don't understand if you help me figure out a new concept. Slower learners suddenly found themselves with high achieving, highly disciplined friends.
The government changed the rules on how to qualify for licences. Instead of having to read the questions and possibly failing to receive a licence because you misread a word - it became ok to ask for the testing questions to be provided oralling on a tape.
The status of being a teacher of second languages or a specialist in learning differences took an upswing. The teachers received more status, more respect. Teachers in the specialized classrooms were there because they had a passion for the work. They became consultants to the teachers who formerly had felt superior because they had the higher achieving classes.
Folk wisdom had predicted that lower achieving students and immigrant children would be natural enemies fighting over the same low skilled jobs. If they formed coalitions, they both increased their chances of rising higher in life. The threat was more to those students who thought they had an inherent right to be the best of the best. Suddenly they had competition from the students they had written off as being no match for themselves. And in the end, they all become more because of each other.

Unemployed Looking

I am unemployed looking - an almost empty-nester woman.
What will be the trickle down effect of this surge in unemployment amongst the highly intelligent, high achievement professional community?
Here's some things off the top of my head:
1. The unemployed-looking will have fewer people wondering what they do all day.
2. In social situations, saying one is retired or a homemaker or an out-of-work actor won't be an automatic conversation stopper. A truse may be declared in the mommy wars as well as between grunge and suits, and other pairings that have more in common than they realize. The lines separating them will become less clear and the real conversations and problem solving opportunities may emerge.
3. The blogging world will be flooded with information about the transition from being employed to becoming more marginalized, less valued. The unemployed will be taking notes on how the high achievers set up their world to save face, to find opportunities. How will they re-define their priorities to maintain their self esteem and land on their feet. What can we learn from each other?
4. Perhaps all that freed up time, intelligence, creativity will be used to build the 21st century world that everyone is waiting for. Internet networking may lead to informal think tanks - new ideas - new possibilities - new dreams - new visions.
5. I think Obama's slogan, "Yes You Can" will become a greeting. Yes You Can have a meaningful life in whatever situation you find yourself in. Yes You Can be a person the world is waiting for.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Classroom Blogs & New Years Resolutions

I don't know the rules about classroom blogs so I won't link you to one but I just had the best time reading the New Year's Resolutions of a Grade 3 class. I don't do much talking to children these days so I had no idea what a Grade 3 could possibly think needed changing about himself.

The one thing they all seemed to know is that tv is bad for your brains. That does not bode well for baby boomers. How many baby boomers are making New Years Resolutions to turn off the tv and read more "to make my brain work better".

Another kid is going to save the world by reducing his energy consumption. Did you start any of your New Year's Resolutions with "I am going to save the world by....."?

My resolutions are more like the kid who has resolved to grow 5 inches this year. I too resolve to recreate my genetic makeup to look way less like my ancestors and way more drop dead gorgeous.

But my favourite and I do mean my favourite is the child whose "brain is forgetting everything". She is the most blessed. You won't hear her complaining about baby brain or chemo brain or brain fog or wondering if she's developing Alzheimers. If I were her, I'd sell my list of resolutions to everyone over 50 who is wondering if they have a dementia or not. You were forgetting everything in Grade 3 - this is nothing new. Turn off the tv to make your brain work better.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Relationship with the United States

Canada exists because people made a decision to not follow the bright lights, higher wages and greater opportunities south of the border. Staying was an emotional decision - a love of the soil, family ties, patriatism, emotional ties to the founding nations or maybe inertia and fear of success or the unknown.

To understand the relationship between Canada and the U.S. watch the movie "A League of their Own". The U.S. is Dottie and Canada is Dottie's Sister Kit. Dottie is the beautiful, talented older sister who everyone notices and who attracts opportunities. Kit desperately wants a life - something, anything - one small break but she can only board the train if she can convince Dottie - the one they really want.

No matter how often I watch that movie I can't figure out the beginning or the ending. Why did she call her grandsons over separately and give them different messages on how to play together. Did the younger sister grow stronger or did the older sister throw the game? Which sister made the better choice - going home or staying?

The economic downturn in the States is distressing not mainly because it will inevitably lead to a similar downturn in Canada. It's upsetting because we're sisters. It's upsetting because our whole culture is built around having this older sister that dazzles us as much as, if not more than, she dazzles the rest of the world. It's upsetting because fighting her dominance gave us strength and hope and dreams.

Peter's Courses

This semester my son is taking Business Math, Statistics, Personal Finance, Micro Economics and Management. Who are the gurus in these areas and what's happening in the e-learning. The only online course is Personal Finance. He has to drive into the city Monday thru Friday - on two of those days the commute takes longer than he's in class. The positives: small campus, small class size, most of the class are locals, he's taken other courses from the same teachers, few community distractions. Personally I would have considered all those positives negatives. The progress Peter is making is absolutely remarkable. In this case, small really is beautiful.