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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

May the New Year bring all the health, happiness and light we need...

T&L warmest wishes for a wonderful year of 2017!








Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day 2016

Boxing Day occurs every year on December 26th. It's a national holiday in the UK and Ireland. If the day after Christmas falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday is designated as the official public holiday. This year, Boxing Day falls on a Monday. December 26th is also the feast day of Saint Stephen, the patron saint of horses, which is why Boxing Day has come to be associated with horse racing and fox hunting. According to some Boxing Day can be traced back to the Victorian era when churches often displayed a box into which their parishioners put donations. Also in Britain, on the day after Christmas Day, servants of the wealthy were given time off to visit their families because their services were required for the Christmas Day celebrations of their employers. They were therefore allowed the following day for their own observance of the holiday and each servant would be handed a box to take home, containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food. It was also customary for tradespeople to collect 'Christmas boxes' of presents or money on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.
Samuel Pepys mentions the practice in a diary entry from December 19th 1663: "Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas." Five years later Pepys was not feeling so generous. Complaining in a December 28th entry from 1668: "Called up by drums & trumpets; these things & boxes having cost me much money this Christmas."
Boxing Day is observed only in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and some other Commonwealth nations. The holiday was not perpetuated by the English in the American colonies.
Boxing Day is really 'St Stephen's Day' in Ireland, dedicated to a saint who was stoned to death for believing in Jesus. 'Wren Boys' were notorious for blackening their faces stoning wrens to death. They would then carry their catch around the town knocking on doors and asking for money. This distasteful act has now stopped, but the Wrens Boys still dress up and parade around town but collecting money for charity.
Hunts were a Boxing Day tradition but the 2004 ban on foxhunting put an end to all that. Despite this, 10 years later 250,000 people still regularly turn out to support hunting. Certain modified forms of hunting foxes with hounds are still within the law and hundreds of Boxing Day Meets take place every year.
What was once a day of relaxation and family time has now become a holy day of consumerism. The sales used to start in January post-New Year, but the desire to grab a bargain and for shops to off-load stock means many now start on Boxing Day.
Last year, Christmas Day itself emerged as one of the most popular days for online shopping, with consumers buying products in the afternoon - often after not receiving their desired gifts.
Source: The Telegraph


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!




I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

To all our friends, readers and visitors, the best wishes of a very merry Christmas!



Christmas crib @ Bom Jesus Church, Matosinhos

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Beware the 'digital native' stereotype


found image @ Academia Marketing Digital
Technology teacher Mary Beth Hertz writes on Edutopia that teachers need to beware of the "dangerous" stereotype that all students these days are ‘digital natives’.  There are a lot of dangerous stereotypes out there. "Asian students are always better at math." "Boys are always better at sports." And perhaps the most dangerous of all: "The current generation are all digital natives." Hertz says that just because students know how to use technology doesn't mean they understand how to "create, read critically, use online content responsibly," and be respectful of others in the digital world. And those skills are necessary to be truly digitally savvy, she contends.
Mary Hertz cites a study in which the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child left pre-loaded tablets with illiterate children in remote Ethiopian villages. The children quickly figured out how to use the applications and began teaching themselves to read. Within a few months they'd overridden the software meant to freeze the desktop settings, and customized their devices.  But Hertz says this proves her point that being able to use technology does not make you proficient:
“Sure, we can place a tablet in the hands of children who have never seen a package label or a sign, and they will learn on their own. But what happens when and if those children become connected to the larger, global online community? It is not guaranteed that they will be ready to navigate etiquette and intellectual property rights on their own. “
Instead, Hertz writes, we should call students "digital citizens," which implies a more complicated relationship with technology—not innate proficiency.
She is not the first to argue that teachers cannot assume students know how to properly navigate the digital world. Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters said in Scientific American that students struggle with basic Internet searches, and a majority of teachers in a recent Pew Research Center survey said students need more training in finding credible information online.
Perhaps Hertz' claim boils down to semantics. Aren't 'digital natives' simply those who've only known a world in which electronic devices are the primary means of accessing information? The term brings to mind this video.

Source:  Education Week Teacher (slightly abridged and adapted)

Monday, 5 December 2016

Using online portfolios in the class

Our digital world is transforming the way we learn, and today's teachers are tasked with the challenging job of sifting through the deluge of educational technologies and creating a meaningful learning experience for students.
Next-generation education portfolio platforms - such as Digication, Pathbrite, Taskstream and Epsilen - are one way for teachers to start early and educate students about how they can manage their own academic and professional accomplishments. From using portfolios for giving students educational feedback to the portability of transcripts and official academic documents, new opportunities exist for lifelong learning and sharing.
Here are five best practices for implementing an education portfolio platform in any K-12 or college classroom.
image credits: Carbon Made Portfolios
1. Build in Opportunities for Peer-to-Peer Learning
Focus on the goal of increasing students' digital literacy by fostering a collaborative learning environment where some of the more tech-savvy students can guide and help others learn. These practices can generate trust, offer problem-solving opportunities, and deepen peer-to-peer learning on the educational lessons taught in the course.

2. Create Lessons That Foster Data and Knowledge Curation
Sifting through the endless hoards of information on the Internet is becoming a necessary skill. Students need to learn how to find reliable sources and how to conduct research in an organized and discriminating way. Eleventh-grade English teacher Amy McGeorge of Leadership Public Schools, a high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, began using next-generation education portfolios in the classroom to teach the literary classic Catcher in the Rye. She assigned a digital literary analysis and asked students to create an online portfolio that included what they learned about the characters. The results showed better-than-ever student engagement and understanding of the story.

3. Engaging for All Levels of Learners
One of the biggest challenges for today's large classrooms and high student-to-teacher ratios is offering high-performing students engaging activities that won't hold them back while the teachers focus on students who need additional support. Online portfolio projects are a stimulating activity that allows learners of all levels to deepen their knowledge on a subject matter or assignment while maintaining a common ground with their peers.

4. Develop Organization Skills and Plan for the Future
Instead of sorting through crumpled assignments in the bottoms of backpacks, students are able to login to their online portfolios and find everything in an organized manner. Using tags for common subject areas helps students sort through all of the information they have collected so that they can see the "bigger picture" and be reminded of all the work they have done in a specific area. I saw one example from a graduate level course at the University of Illinois in the School of Library and Information Science. Here, students were given the assignment of creating an online portfolio that showed digital materials reflecting theoretical concepts on gender, race and sexuality learned in the course. Not only did student understanding of the concepts far surpass the classes that weren't using online portfolios, but students also reported high levels of satisfaction with their ability to share their class portfolios with professional and personal contacts beyond the classroom.

5. Not All Online Portfolios are Created Equal
When picking an online portfolio, look for portfolios where the creators remain the owners of the data compiled. It's important that students and users have access to the content of the portfolio beyond the course or college education.
Using online portfolios successfully gives early adopters in the classroom the latitude to teach peers how to master the technology. Learning can be accelerated through the process of independently curating new knowledge and can also be extended beyond the classroom for a long-term collection of academic and professional successes.

By Heather Giles @ Edutopia - Technological Integration (slightly abridged)

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