WebQuest on Into the Wild

March 29, 2013


CC Flickr Photo by aureliomerenda

CC Flickr Photo by aureliomerenda


Into The Wild is a great novel for grade 11 or 12 students. It’s highly readable but contains a lot of complex ideas in regards to human identity, the significance of family and friends, our relationship with the natural world, asceticism, and more. The novel is written by John Krakauer, who also wrote Into Thin Air, an autobiographical account of his ascent of Mount Everest.

I recently created a WebQuest for my final assignment for my educational technologies course. The WebQuest is designed to be used as a closing activity for a novel study on Into The Wild. This is the first WebQuest that I’ve designed, although I had informally done similar activities with students in my internship (ie. giving them a list of websites to help guide research).

The concept behind this WebQuest is for students to examine the First Nations traditional rite-of-passage of the vision quest. They are then to compare their findings on vision quests with the journey that Chris McCandless goes on into the Alaskan wilderness, and decide if what he did amounts to a vision quest. This question demands that students comprehend the common components of vision quests and also decide whether or not they believe what McCandless did was noble or foolhardy. The WebQuest ends with an in-class discussion or debate on this question.

Here is the trailer for the film adaptation done by Sean Penn.

I liked the film, but I think I enjoyed it because I had read the book. I have heard from a number of people that they found it a bit dull. I would recommend the book far before the movie.

I have been re-watching the highly celebrated HBO drama The Wire. Earlier in this term a fellow classmate, Nathan Herrem, suggested that we follow the blog of David Simon, the creator of this series, for his insights on current political and social issues. Although he doesn’t seem to post a great deal these days, what he has on his blog is insightful stuff.

I have been working on a sort-of literary analysis of The Wire for another class and I wanted to direct my colleagues to season four of the series, in particular, for its relevance to current issues in the teaching profession. The fourth season centres around an inner-city Baltimore school and the impediments to learning there. Poverty, drugs, neglect, mistrust of the system, high-stakes standardized testing, and a backdrop of chronic violence are some of the obstacles that the season highlights. However, it also points to solutions that many of us are familiar with: community collaboration, culturally relevant pedagogy, streaming (perhaps its most controversial solution), and caring teachers and leaders.

Warning: This show is not for everyone. I’ve heard many people complain about the language and the violence in the series. Although, this is not an issue for me (and it makes me sad that this would be enough to prevent someone from watching it), I understand why some people would find it off-putting.

Also, like anything, the show is not flawless, and some of its perspectives on teaching need more context. Additionally, this is about a city in the United States and in Canada standardized testing practices that tie funding with student test scores are not currently used.

Once again, I highly recommend this show.
Downtown Baltimore

CC Flickr Photo of downtown Baltimore: David Davies

Hi, this is my podcast post. It’s about teaching creativity, or our inability to teach creativity – depending on which side of the fence you end up on… I’ll post my podcast first, but under that you should find a video with a different opinion on the subject. I understand where this Kirby fellow is coming from, but I disagree with him. Actually, I find him obnoxious and I could go on… However, check them both out if you have the time.

I argue a fair a bit with a gentleman named Marvin Bartel. And I borrowed some quotes from this Ted Talk website. 

Forgotten Blog Post

March 3, 2013

Well, it looks like I dropped the ball on this week’s blog post. I fully intended to write an entry on Friday, but after a day of sweating over the flat-top grill… flipping eggs, building clubhouse sandwiches, chopping vegetables, drinking coffee, coffee, and more coffee… well it didn’t happen… I think I passed out on the couch shortly after work. I’m not looking for sympathy, though; the point is you don’t need to comment on this blog if you are in the Edtech course.

CC Flickr photo by Jordon

I wanted to add on to an earlier post I made on my blog. I was writing about a unit for Social Studies 9 on the Indus Valley Civilization. Well, I recently watched a Ted Talk from a gentleman who is researching the supposedly indecipherable Indus Valley script in his free time (talk about lifelong learning!). If I ever teach this unit again, I will definitely show this video:

(Photo credit from Flickr: Scott Beale)

During my internship, I had the opportunity to teach two separate classes about social media and acceptable use policies (AUP). However, this was from a policy that was designed by someone else and used a Power-point that was made by someone else.

In our most recent assignment for my education technology class, we created our own AUP’s and Social Media Guidelines. I appreciated that this assignment gave us the chance to work in groups and really get into the essentials of AUP by examining numerous versions of school policies and then synthesizing and creating our own version. I also enjoyed the collaboration that this assignment involved. Google docs is a real life-saver in terms of cutting down on meeting times and organizing around people’s schedules. My first term of education was really bogged-down by group projects.

I also like the pro-technology philosophy and tone behind many of the better AUP and Social Media documents. I think that sounding positive and excited about technology makes a big difference in crafting a contractual agreement with students and parents.

I mentioned “The Spicy Learning Blog” in one of my earlier blog posts. I would now like to point out an interesting discussion that is going on on that blog. The author of the blog asks, “Is Twitter for all teachers”? The answers to that question range from “no, it isn’t for everyone,” to answers that address fear of change, and enthusiastic answers in the affirmative.

I found this discussion interesting because a very simple questions has many implications. For instance, if we say that Twitter is not for everyone can this be extended to other social media sites? And where does resistance to technology come from? What aspects of that resistance might be justified and which are simply fronts put up to mask fear of change? This also forces me to think about the value of different platforms of social media. Is Facebook a better tool than Twitter? What are the advantages of each platform? Personally, I use Facebook far more than Twitter, but why is that? As you can see, this simple question generates all sorts of ideas and complications.

(Photo credit: phalinn on Flickr)

Youtube introduction!

February 1, 2013

Hi friends,

Here is my introductory video. In it I explain why I was initially drawn to education as a career, and a few of the teachers that inspired me when I was a high school student. I’ve never made a youtube video before, so this was a good assignment for me!



One of the objectives for the grade 9 Social Studies curriculum is to teach students about “primary and secondary sources.” I was teaching a class about the use of primary and secondary sources for Historians and Archaeologists studying the Indus Valley Civilization in North-West India and Pakistan. However, I found that using current events (Photographs from Hurricane Sandy) really helped bring the point home. A number of fake primary sources (doctored photographs) were spread using social networking directly after the event. Some of the real photographs were of course quite spectacular/horrific but many of the photographs were fakes. Here is an article that is useful for teaching the difficulties in studying primary sources–ie. issues of credibility. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121031-how-to-spot-a-fake-sandy-photo (Photo by That Hartford Guy – flickr)

Discovering education blogs

January 17, 2013

As a first step using blogs and google reader, I have begun finding education blogs that appeal to me. One of the first blogs that I’ve been reading is “The Spicy Learning Blog.” From the little I have read so far, I like this blogger because he is a free thinker and writes from a place of courage and honesty. His most recent post is on the topic of teaching creativity. He takes an interesting position against notions that claim creativity cannot be taught or assessed. If you want to check out his blog, there is a link in my blogroll.