How To Build a Timeline For Your Class

One of the most useful teaching tools for history teachers are time-lines.

The best free timeline builder that I’ve come across was XTimeline. If you have a blog or website for your class, you can easily embed a timeline into your class site.

For student presentations you can also encourage students to create time-lines. For example, if a student is doing a presentation about Terry Fox, one can create a time-line outlining his journey across Canada. It is an effective tool for learning and retention.

You can also encourage students to work on a group project using this teaching tool. XTimeline allows users to collaborate in a similar manner to a wiki. The multi-media that can be added includes video, text and images.

Create A Digital Whiteboard For Your Class

[ad]Most corporate offices and some university classes have digital whiteboards. Unfortunately, in the past, most public schools could not afford this technology tool as it cost about $2000.  However, that may be about to change due to some generous knowledge sharing and the power of the Internet.

First of all, what is a digital whiteboard? It is a projection screen that you can interact with. For example, you can write on a projection screen using a pen with an infrared light.

An MIT student posted a brief demonstration of how to create a whiteboard with some off the shelf materials including a Nintendo Wii remote.

One fifth grade class at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School in Pennsylvania actually built the whiteboard and ended up saving the school $800.

As well as saving the school a whole bunch of cash, the project has given the kids a lot of confidence, as well as a fun experience—something they all appreciate. “I think the most important thing that the students enjoyed and learned was to be innovative,” adds Merritt. “As part of the ‘digital native’ generation, they can recognize things in their world that they can improve or create, and have the confidence to tackle projects that many ‘digital immigrants’ wouldn’t touch. This is a new generation. They must be engaged in their world with the tools of their time.

Creating a digital whiteboard is an exciting and cost effective project for any classroom that wants to add a modern element in 2011.

Inspiration For Teachers

In case you missed it, here’s some slam poetry about what teachers “make?”

Here’s a homework assignment for all teachers, parents, and students.

Compulsory: Watch this video for 3 minutes in silence

Pre-Requisite: Before your morning cup of coffee

Optional: And if your eyes well up with tears,

Grade: Congratulations, you’re human

Teaching In Korea – Show Me the Money!

Show Me the Money!

By Paul Gaasenbeek

Is coming here to Korea to teach a good choice for you or not? Before you even think about coming here I suggest humbly that you ask yourself, “Why would I want to go to work and live in Korea? Is it for money, for an interesting kimche experience, or is it to get away from someone or something back home?” Not knowing the answer to this question is like picking a major to study at university using a roulette wheel and a square cube. Know why it is you are thinking about coming here… and if it is for the money…here is what you need to know:

When I first arrived in Korea in 2002, two million WON (WON is the Korean currency and this was a normal starting wage), after the exchange, was worth around two thousand five hundred Canadian dollars. Now, the same two million (which is about what you would get paid per month still) is worth around one thousand eight hundred. Perhaps $1800 a month is good for people-especially those just getting out of university- so coming here may be a good option for you? I do not know if this is the case or not so let us look into making money here in Korea a little deeper as I do know about this.

There are many different routes one can go when coming to teach here in Korea. You could teach at a public school, a private school or perhaps even a university-if you have at least a master’s degree or are in fact a real teacher back home. But most people only end up teaching at universities after being here for some time, meaning a few years, so, I will only look at the first two options.

I will say, as an aside, I work at a university now and it is definitely the way to go as far as jobs go, but it took me a few years of working and networking to land my current job. Things are not different here in one respect and that is it never hurts to know the right people. This universal truism may be even more applicable here than back home. The pay at a university, however, is, perhaps surprisingly to you, actually less than you can make at a public school or `hagwon’ (private institution or school in Korean). Two advantages of teaching at a university, though, are you work about half the amount of time you would at any other type of school, plus you get five months off a year. So, without a doubt, university gigs are still the best kind of teaching job you can get here. If you plan on staying here for a while, keep this in the back of your mind, do your homework and when the time is right, make your move.

Anyway, teaching at a public school sounds great to some, but if you are here to make money, taking this route could leave you feeling tired and poor and here is why. Working at a public school usually means you are working from nine to five on average. This also means you are up early and home around dinner time every day. This may seem okay to you but the only way one can make money here is if you get other work on the side. This is illegal (sometimes) but just about everyone does it if they can. People pick up other morning jobs teaching at schools for kindergarten kids or at other private schools in the afternoons to make extra money. The problem with trying to pick up part time jobs at private schools is most start around two or three in the afternoon, so you are out of luck if you are finishing at five.

Generally speaking, those working at public schools do not have the time or energy to work else where, so you are looking at making around two thousand a month if you come and that is it (some schools do pay a little more but I have already factored that in to my $2000 a month total). Yes, your apartment is paid for as is your airfare, but is teaching in Korea is not what it used to be regarding the amount of money you can make and save, so be prepared for that. You can save around one thousand Canadian dollars a month working at one school if you live within your means (no shopping at Channel and so on). You can still afford to go out, eat, and have fun with friends, but you used to be able to save more doing the exact same job someone else did a few years ago.

Now, if you decide to work for a private school, one thing to look for is what times your classes start and finish. This is important for those looking to try and make extra money on the side as some schools start classes in the morning and then run all day while others just begin in the afternoon. That said, I will only talk about the schools (which is most common anyway) that start their daily mayhem in the afternoon. If the school you did work at had you teaching kindergarten in the morning and then elementary students in the afternoon, you would be working similar hours as a public school teacher, so the same problems would arise for you as for public school teachers. So, never take jobs that run all day long as they pay too little and just run you down. Stay away from the all day hagwon!).

You could work at a school in the afternoon that runs from three until nine or ten. With this type of job and situation, many people, if they want to try and make extra money, would take a morning kindergarten job on the side or an early morning job teaching at a company. This is legal if your school allows you to work there (a second job). You can ask the school for permission to do so and if they say it is okay, you can get a joint E2 working visa. However, most do not get the permission and just work illegally (getting caught teaching without a proper visa usually gets you deported but it is like the Wild West out here-anything goes). You can make decent money this way, though.

Most who come here to make money do work two or more jobs illegally. With these (illegal) jobs it is usually cash in hand so you pay no taxes on what ever your wage is. One great thing about Korea is the national tax rate is only around 4% anyway, so that is good, but, do not get too excited as there is another problem here other than the poor exchange rate and that is, INFLATION.

Inflation here is one of the highest of all OECD countries. Loaves of bread that used to cost 600WON (like 60 cents) are now more than double that. Yoghurt used to be four for about 800WON but now those same four cups of dairy are over 2000WON. Bunches of bananas will run you a few dollars on a cheap day. Get the picture? And while this is happening, the wages have actually stayed about the same since 2002 (up about 2000000WON but this is all lost and more due to the exchange rate, the bills you pay to heat your home, inflation, getting around town and so on). So, now, when you factor the inflation in, your take home pay is much, much less than it used to be, and when you think about your take home pay ( ie: back to Canada) what you have saved also takes a beating.

One final dagger is, if you decide to pay taxes on your income here back in Canada. You can file for non-residency status, which allows you to keep what you have made, but most people just do not claim it. Canada does not have access to your banking records here in Korea so this is generally safe. Now, if this is okay for you, come to Korea. If working legally is something that is important to you, and making less than $2000 a month is acceptable, then come on down.

There are always pros and cons to everything. I am sure some are wondering what I am doing here if things are not as good as they used to be, which is a fair question, so I will answer that for you. In all honesty, I would not still be here if I had not met my current wife. Being married to a Korean gives me a different kind if visa-one that allows me to work where I want and as much as I want. I do not have to sign one year contracts or anything like that. I am totally free here now. I still would have come of course as I thought at the time it was a good idea, I just would not still be here-which of course is the same for most teachers who come.

Leaving your home is always a good experience and I would not put a price on that. What better way to gain amazing memories is there than going to live in a country very different from your own, playing with kids to make money, and hopping over to places like China, Thailand and so on with ease. I mean, those living in Toronto or Halifax, are you really going to fly all the way to Asia for a vacation or are you going to Europe or down south? I love the fact that I came here. I wish the exchange rate was better, but if this is my one complaint, well, life must be pretty good then.

So do your homework (where you live and the school you work for can make or break your year). Pack your bags and come for a wonderful experience you can’t find with any job back home and save money at the same time. The money may not be as much as it used to but when you factor in what you are doing here (literally playing with kids which is what I plan on talking about in my next article-day to day life in schools) I think the experience gained outweighs losing a few bucks that you never know existed. I mentioned all of this-the money issue-because I came here expecting to make at least $2500 as my friend was already here and he told me to expect as much. Schools have seminars back home (come to Korea to teach…) and I was told by one new recruit here that they were still saying you can make over $2000 a month so that is why I though it was prudent of me to talk about money. Too much information or just a different view is never a bad thing.

Anyway, until next time-and I am hoping it will be sooner than later this time, teach well and have fun! I hope to see you soon!

Auditory Disorders in Children Affect Learning

Auditory Disorders in Children Affect Learning

Auditory learning plays a large part in the learning process especially for a child. But what would happen to a child who listens but can’t hear what she’s supposed to hear?

For children with auditory processing disorder, distinguishing sounds proves to be a challenge. According to speech and hearing expert Gail Chermak  of Washington State University, an estimate of 2 to 5 percent of children are affected with the disorder and that many cases are left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This could be because the symptoms that are presented by people with APD which include difficulty paying attention, low performance in school, and poor reading and vocabulary are more often mistaken for attention deficit disorder (ADD) or Autism.

Since this disorder affects only a small population of children, APD is still little known. Thanks to the efforts of talk-show host Rosie O’ Donnell, some light has already been shed to this sporadic disorder. O’Donnell recounts their experiences and struggles with the disorder in a book “The Sound of Hope” by Lois Kam Heymann, the speech pathologist and auditory therapist who took attention to her son’s problem.

Heymann said while children with APD can hear perfectly, they have trouble distinguishing the different sounds from each other. Rhyming words may sound exactly the same to a child with APD. This makes the child work harder into making sense of what she hears and while she does that, the teacher not knowing the issue, continues at a normal pace. The child in turn gets left behind in her classes, and develops a limited vocabulary including difficulty in reading and spelling. Interacting with other s may also be hard for these children which results in social and behavioral problems.

To help children with APD, parents and educators should come up with adjustments to help the child cope with her environment. Carpets and strips of felt can be installed on the floors and tennis balls can be placed on chair and desk legs to minimize the noise and avoid the child becoming distracted. The use of simple words in giving instructions lets the child understand things better and faster and cutting out abstracts and metaphors is also very helpful in lessening confusion.

Parents’ efforts to support their child play a big role in the success of the learning process. Like in O’Donnell’s case, she cut back on large, noisy gatherings that are upsetting to her child. Another parent in Westchester County had the teachers wear a microphone that delivers the sound to a speaker installed on the child’s desk.

APD does not in any way affect a child’s intelligence. Blake, O’ Donnell’s son, has an encyclopedic knowledge of animals, accelerated classes in Latin and achieved honors in Science class. Though academics may reflect results of their hard work and adjustments, it doesn’t stop there. A child who accomplishes something acquires not only a sense of achievement but also a feeling of belonging and social acceptance, that she is no different than anybody else.

On-line Reputation Management

Online reputation management

By John Freeman

In the information age, your reputation is vastly different from years previous.

A good name can be worth millions, and we all know by now what happens when a good name gets into bad trouble. Tiger Woods is only one example of how important your reputation is, and how easy it is to be damaged. Perhaps irreparably.

The online world has created a new area of law in this age of Web 2.0. Its called Online Reputation Management Law, and it straddles the law of defamation, freedom of speech, privacy law, copyright law, and trademark law. It also involves the non-legal (but equally as important) fields of public relations and crisis management. Many of the legal issues in this area involve Facebook, which has over 350,000,000 users, (including about 90% of all the middle school and secondary school students you and your colleagues teach every day. You might be a Facebook user as well.)

If someone says or publishes something about another person that is untrue, not otherwise privileged, and this damages the other person’s reputation, this may well amount to defamation and legal consequences may follow. “online” publication of defamatory statements on Facebook, Twitter, or on blogs is still publication. But what if the damaged reputation is self-inflicted? Although there are things that older adults may share with others in more private ways, there has never been a generation so willing to share their innermost feelings, their outrageous opinions and their inappropriate photographs than the under-25 age group who make up the mainstay of Facebook. I hear stories about the things 15- to 18-year-olds post on Facebook through my own kids and their circle. But I see the 22- to 25-year-olds because they’re at an age where they want me to hire them in my law firm. Many of these people don’t seem to understand how the comments and photos they post to Facebook can be publicly accessible, profoundly inappropriate, and career-limiting.

From the 15-year-old’s perspective, it might be a badge of honour to post photos of her or his wayward drunken exploits on Facebook, knowing that, as their parents aren’t “friends,” Mom and Dad won’t see last week’s vodka bender. And it might be cool to tell the world you belong to groups and fan clubs that are sexually explicit, or to swear on one’s wall, knowing only one’s “friends” will see it.

But it’s disingenuous to think one’s parents (or the people close to them) won’t see the inappropriate photos and comments if the teen has 750 “friends” on Facebook, (how can anyone have 750 friends?). The reality is that, despite amendments to Facebook’s privacy controls to comply with the directives of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, it’s still relatively easy to see and copy what a user has posted to Facebook.

I can only echo what most of the deans of Canada’s law schools tell their new students each year: “Clean up your Facebook pages. Your prospective employers are all law firms. They will be looking for you.”

I can tell you first-hand, we do. All employers do. We have to.

So here are a few legal and practical things that might interest you and your students about managing and protecting their online reputations.

1. Notwithstanding new privacy settings announced in December, 2009, Facebook can retain cached archives of everything everyone puts on Facebook, even if it’s deleted 60 seconds after being posted.

2. Any posting on Facebook can be saved to another’s computer by a simple screen shot. And any photograph on Facebook can be dragged to another’s desktop and circulated to others by e-mail, even though it may have been removed from the original poster’s Facebook page. Digital pictures pulled from Facebook can be Photoshopped and otherwise manipulated in very bad ways.

3. Insurance company investigators regularly check Facebook pages of those they are investigating, sometimes posing as high school friends, or friends of friends so they can surreptitiously see the Facebook page and confirm or deny the claim. A woman in Quebec was recently denied insurance coverage when investigators saw recent pictures of her “dancing up a storm” one night rather than convalescing at home after an apparent injury.

4. Canadian courts have ruled that one’s Facebook page can be evidence and can be the subject of cross examination, even though a defendant had made his page as private as possible.

5. A court in New York City forced Google (as owner of a particular blogging website), to disclose the name of an anonymous blogger who arguably defamed a prominent model; the moral of the story being that no one is anonymous anymore. The defamed can always find the defamer.

6. Displaying your birthday and work history may be inviting scammers to apply for credit cards and otherwise steal your identity. Don’t give out your birthday.

7. Tweets on Twitter will soon be searchable on Google, (so that tweets about how much a student hates his math teacher can be found by that math teacher).

8. Former NDP candidate Ram Lam had to abandon his candidacy during last year’s BC election when the press discovered sexually provocative pictures of him on his Facebook page.

9. Users should limit the number of friends on Facebook to real friends. If someone has 800 friends, one of them may be an insurance investigator, and another could be someone far, far worse.

10. Privacy Privacy Privacy. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that only friends (and not “everyone”) can see what they have posted. And never allow “friends of friends” access. Although Facebook changed its privacy settings in December 2009, the Globe and Mail reports that 70% of users still have their settings set to “everyone can see everything,” possibly because they don’t know how the privacy settings work. And of course, Google sees it all.

11. Although Facebook doesn’t allow anyone under 13 to create Facebook pages, under 13’s lie about their age.

12. Parents might want to monitor Facebook and other social networking activities of their teens, but teens (understandably) don’t want to allow parent access as “friends.” Perhaps a “designated driver” is a good idea as a friend; a young adult the teen and the parent both trust, and who won’t contact parents about questionable postings or photos (but will call up the teen).

13. Finally, students shouldn’t post pictures or comments they wouldn’t want their mother, their grandmother, or their future employer to see, because one day soon, they will.