Category Archives: Technology


This blog is quite special to me because it’s about a student of mine who had a horrible accident in a taxi last year as he and a friend were returning from a party late in early morning hours.  The two boys were 11th graders at the time of the accident: Bank survived with major injuries but has recovered mostly, about 90% back to normal.  However, Korn, was in a coma and has had multiple surgeries and is now paralyzed on his left side.  Korn returned to school at the beginning of this semester and he has made steady progress using his left side of his body and with speech.  Korn went from being an athletic, funny, crazy, smart, popular boy to being in a wheelchair with no privacy: he needs full-time care and has two assistants (his “nanny” and an educational assistant) with him while at school.

Korn is on a special schedule at school and he is in my Study Skills and English Skills classes and I work with sometimes in Psychology.  So, as part of an assignment for Psychology, the students were asked to make a timeline of their lives and incorporate some of the major psychologists (Erik Erikson, Piaget, Freud) in terms of stages of development.  Since Korn has speech issues and can’t use his left hand, I thought it would be a good idea to use Voicethread to help him create his timeline (some students made picture books while others made digital books).  Of course, I didn’t expect it to be so time-consuming!

Some of the issues we had were with the school’s firewall that kept not playing the webcam recording or the voice recording that we attached/saved to each picture.  Since the whole point of using Voicethread was to have Korn create a timeline just using his voice and pics, and to practice his speech (understanding his speech is sometimes difficult), which would hopefully make him become aware of areas where he could improve, we had to practice repeatedly to make sure it was audible and understood by viewers.  Here, I asked our school’s speech therapist, who was working with him already, to assist him in articulation of certain words.

As you can see, the product came out well I think for the following reasons: (1) Korn had great pics from when he was a toddler to his middle school years to most recently, and (2) his great, fun attitude came across well using Voicethread.

Korn’s timeline for Psychology:

Ohhh, the power of sight …

I’m thinking of Michael Shaw’s quote in terms of how we need to understand and be critical of images and visuals including pictures and videos that we see everyday.  The quote is very relevant today because much of what we will receive visually will hopefully transfer over to our students by providing them with that critical, necessary eye.

For me, I’ve never really thought critically about images before university, only sometimes when they were disturbing or when they were different or disturbing.  If the slapped you in the face, so to speak, that’s when I started to step back and say to myself, what’s going on here, what’s happening, what is this thing trying to betray? I know I have been shocked by many images especially war images or images of death or images of sexuality or sex or

simply images that show too much skin, with “too much” being relative.  The only images and visuals that I learned about were from television as well as from magazines and newspapers but the some of the most disturbing images I remember still were from the Vietnam War.  I was born during the time this war was ending, but I still remember certain images of horror and death that really made an impact on me such as the little vietnamese girl running naked in utter terror after some bomb hit her village.

I remember only one university class with an instructor that asked us to look at images seriously and critically and to discuss them at length.  I can recall how wonderful the discussions were because they asked us two to just take one image and look at it from many different angles and have feedback from all the students.  This was a rare opportunity for most of us I think because it felt like most for most of us, it was this type of discussion was new.

For our/my students, I think that these critical thoughts must be examined or images must examined critically in the classroom because, obviously, we are being bombarded with more and more images daily.  And these images can make for a very rich discussion of what is happening in our world.  By simply putting two similar or completely divergent images side-by-side would give way for a complex discussion and enhance learning.
However, these images must be laid out in a way the student could understand, and they first must be given the necessary vocab before any discussion can move forward.

bullying our kids into motivation mode

Message to mom and dad: you can’t just take your child’s computer away if you suspect/know that they are doing some wrong or inappropriate on their computers because then they will not be able to complete their school work!  Even if they are mostly using that new macbook pro to chat with friends, browse facebook, and look at youtube videos, not allowing them access to it can possibly hurt their learning.  Since computers and education tend to be intimately intertwined, trying to “make” students use their expensive machines for mostly school-related work becomes a difficult task, especially when the students attend a school that has a school-wide laptop program.  With this increased use of the internet, the possibility of getting bullied online obviously increases.

During 2008-2010, a teacher friend (high school librarian) at my school would conduct workshops/presentations on cyberbullying and we had lots of discussions around this issue back then during our commute to work.  She was a woman in her late 50s who suddenly got really involved in internet bullying because many of the students would hang out in her library and send out inappropriate/hurtful messages to others.  She understood the importance of this topic, but, at the time, I thought it wasn’t really necessary to discuss it because I thought cyberbullying wasn’t happening in my class or around school until one of my students told me about some of his former friends who used to threaten him online.  Since this type of bullying was done via the internet, it was not overt so it was perhaps more insidious since we couldn’t clearly see it with our own eyes such as we did in the past with playground bullying.

Now, however, cyberbullying does not seem to happen as much as it did during the mid to late 2000s (right?).  This trend has seemed to shift perhaps because many people have been the victim of it in some capacity or another and/or perhaps people have become more immune to it because people are more open about their privacy now.  With facebook, hi5, and other websites being so ubiquitous these days, and that people are posting more revealing pics (e.g., half-naked, on the toilet, in compromising positions, etc) of themselves online, it seems that we are not so shocked anymore when we come across them as we did in the past.  As for rumors being spread online or through sms, they don’t seem to cause or create much havoc anymore among kids because they are often just ignored or they can be easily debunked.

why i like technology

I have always been “into” technology ever since I got my first hotmail account back in 1992 or 1993.  I had initially signed up for it because it was free and I had mistakenly thought it had something to do with meeting people who were “hot”! J  It is actually strange even today that these two things still appeal to me—that is, something that is free and ways to meet others.  This makes me think of downloading movies and music for free, Facebook (free and able to socialize), and other sites that allow for more communication and networking that do not cost us anything.  But then I wonder: what’s my need to socialize with new people?  Can’t I just talk/chat with my friends and family members that I have now?  I realized that for me it’s about interacting, sharing, laughing, listening, caring.  Meeting new people makes me learn about myself because they help me question my own ideas, which shapes my life.  Interacting makes me feel less lonely and less isolated in a world that feels overcrowded and detached.  I want to explore these two points further … Continue reading

and here we go …

As I read more blogs, I’m starting to become more curious and, at the same time, apprehensive about how best to use technology in the classroom.  Over the years, I have tried different things … some with success that I keep using even today (e.g., my google site), some with moderate success that lasted for one school year (e.g., facebook page on the novel we were reading) and some that totally bombed (e.g., webboard, forum).  Trying different things in the classroom comes natural for me because I find it a creative process … and creativity keeps life as a teacher interesting.  When I find myself wanting to keep the same routine because I don’t want to put in the time and effort to begin something new, I have to tell myself that it’s about the creative process and the challenge that goes with it.

making connections …

i started to think about the/a connection between pastrami sandwiches and technology … or even as far as the relationship (if there is one actually) between pastrami sandwiches, technology and teaching. how can my favorite food — pastrami sandwich on rye with a bit of mustard — be so fantastic, memorable and enduring as my personal affinity for technology and teaching? do i need stretch the connection to make this work? Let’s not digress …

the immediate thought(s) that come(s) to mind is/are how pastrami sandwiches take on a threefold meaning for me: (1) the incredible satisfaction of all that soft beef that melts in my mouth; (2) how the saltiness of the beef is well balanced with the dryness of the rye bread and the tart mustard; and (3) the desire for more even after i have consumed the whole sandwich.

as for technology, the threefold approach can be used as well: (1) the satisfaction that comes with creating some new and meaningful that just melts in my thoughts; (2) how a small, lightweight device can encompass a balance of refinement in its compactness and speed along with a sophistication that allows multiple tasks to be performed simultaneously; and (3) the desire to learn more applications around eases of use to grow and simplify my life.

for teaching, however, we might need more than the threefold approach but let’s try: (1) the incredible satisfaction of helping a student learn something new about a particular idea or about herself/himself; (2) how the teaching profession is a complex balance of creativity, leadership, and organization; and (3) the desire to give my students the wonder and spirit to be life-long learners.

everyone must be guilty of at least one totally cheesy blog posting, right?