Friday, January 30, 2009

Blood Donation #40

I recently made a trip to my local blood donor clinic.  Blood donation is one of the community 'volunteer' activities that I make a priority in my personal time.  This last visit was a personal milestone in that it was my 40th donation.  With that in mind, I'm setting a personal goal for myself.  I would like to have 50 donations before I turn 40.  This will be tough as the rules only allow someone to donate every 56 days and if some family event forces me to miss my donation day then I get off-track at my local clinic.  Anyways, I'll be doing my best to attend each of the upcoming sessions.

Here are some great reasons to give blood
  • Obviously, it helps someone in need of blood through injury, operation...etc.  When I'm donating I always think of the kids at Children's Hospital.  Those children need the blood way more than me.
  • the process is quite quick.  Canadian Blood Services has done all they can to streamline the process with appointments etc.  This last donation was under 45 minutes.
  • according to this site it reduces free radicals due to too much iron.  Might be a health myth but 'I found it in google' :)
  • There are free cookies and juice when you are done AND they give cookies to my kids.
  • It is like dieting as your body has to make new blood.  This is definitely not scientific and probably nilled due to the cookies above.  Anyone know how many calories are donated in a pint?
I hope to get support from my blog readers in helping me achieve this goal.  I'll also post updates on this blog.  Anyone else want to join me and set a goal?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Delicious: Sharing Links to Great Sites

If you haven't yet created a delicious account then this post is for you.  Here is a brief list of reasons why you need a Delicious account.
  • links can be shared across any number of computers
  • others can subscribe to your updates an join your network to see links and vice-versa.  Once you add others to your network it is quick and easy to save their bookmarks to your delicious account
  • tagging links is far better than putting them in a folder as each item can have multiple tags allowing you to find the site in multiple ways.
  • it is a great environment to collaborate with students as you can create custom tags (eg. McConville-block-A) which then allows that list of links to be viewed from all users.
  • here is the official word from delicious about how the tool works.
Getting started:
  1. Go ahead to and create yourself an account.
  2. Install the browser buttons, these make it very quick and simple to save a site to delicous when you are surfing and want to save a site.  The new plugin for Internet Explorer is amazing, it syncs your links across multiple computers and stores them offline.  In Firefox, install the delicious extension.
Over time
  • Your tags will sort themselves into group of the tags that you use most often.  You can view this as a cloud in which the most common words are in the largest font site.  Not only does it look cool, it represents the tags you feel are most important.
Going beyond the basics
Here are few things to try once you have some sites saved and your Delicious cloud is starting to form:
  • Post your link cloud on a website or blog.  My cloud is posted on this blog.
  • If you are a long-time delicious user like me (since March 2006) you need a tool to look for dead links.  Check out this tool I just found called freshdelicious.  The tool just helped me find and remove about 20 dead links.
I look forward to hearing from others on how you use delicious.  Be sure to post your delicious account address in your comments!

Monday, January 5, 2009

What students have to say

I'm blogging this as I listen to students on their views on education. Being part of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) 2009 conference. There are speakers and educational researchers from around the world. Sessions I have attended include middle school curriculum choices that improve learning at the secondary level in Holland and 'Conditions for School Transformation' from Cathy Wylie from New Zealand. See the complete list of presenters.

What I'm most engaged with at this conference is the student voices. There are a group of 12 students from around the province at the event. As they attend sessions, they are taking photos and writing blogs. Here is the summary page with aggregates their blogs. Here is a small sample of what I've learned so far:

  • Models for student mentorship from Melanie

  • Importance of student leadership from Henry

  • The value in having student input into educational technology from William

  • How teaching is a two-way process to have learning from Eva

Many of the student blog posts have multiple comments from the educators at the conference, there is an ongoing dialogue between the educators and the students.

Even if you aren't at the conference, I would encourage my readers to visit these student blogs, comment on the student's posting and ask them a question to further the discussion. This has been a great experience for me to learn from students. I would be interested in hearing how others think dialogue could be setup and fostered in our classrooms and schools.