Category Archives: eci831

Learning Hot to Sew (Week One)

This week’s objectives in learning how to sew were the following:

  • Get a work area setup.
  • Get acquainted with my sewing machine and learn the basics in how it works.
  • Cut some pieces of fabric in shapes with straight edges and some with curves.
  • Practice sewing in straight lines and in curves.
  • Practice my spacing.
  • Verify and adjust my machine for the quality of my stitching.
  • Test different stitching patterns.

Setup of a workstation was simple, I didn’t want to interfere with my wife’s sewing station, therefore I took a temporary folding table and installed it in a corner of my basement.

Sewing Station

I ran a power cord and installed my old 1970’s vintage Singer Fashion Mate 252.  Although old, this machine is robust and simple, two attributes that bode well for a beginner with my level of skill.

Singer 252

In order to have a good reference for the workings of the machine, I searched the Internet for the user’s manual and to my surprise, singer provided the PDF to its original manual right on their website.  It’s great to see a company care and support its products so well.

Singer website

To my amazement, I found the manual to be a fantastic beginning resource to not only learn the machine but also learn how to sew!  The manual includes fantastic illustrations and simple to follow step by step instructions to guide you into properly using the machine and also learn the basics of sewing.  I love the hand drawn illustrations; they provide a great visual support to the instructions and they really add to the easy of learning.

Singer manual

Once having threaded the machine, it was time to do my first stitches.  To accomplish this, I used small pieces of paper that I fed through the machine.  The contract, the flatness and the rigidity of the paper make those first stitches easy due to not having to worry about alignment of cloth and its stretchy properties.

Stitching practice

I tried to sew straight lines and made small adjustments to the machine as I went.  I even tried a zigzag stitch!  These first few lines of stitching allowed me to comprehend the feel of the machine but learning how it was going to react to my inputs.  I gained the feel of the pedal and was able to register in my mind the corrects sounds and the movements this machine normally makes.  I then preceded with cutting a few pieces of cotton the sew them together for form a simple rudimentary pocket.  This allowed me to practice sewing along a curve and allowed me to gain the feeling of sewing actual cloth.  I took my time, and everything went well.  The results are, to me, satisfactory.

Here is a vlog that summarizes my journey so far.

A review of Anchor – “The best way to make a podcast”

This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible.  After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!

Why I chose Anchor:

First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:

I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of  “Serial”  and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run.  I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff.  This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture.  I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend.  This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person.  (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)

I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom.  As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity.  But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free.  So we gave up.

SO, why Anchor? Because:

Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can createdistribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.

  • easy to use (and nice to look at!)
  • free
  • mobile and web options

Overview of the app:

After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:

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**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.

 

 

The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout.  After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions.  There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.

The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip.  There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students.  You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.

Review:

Pros:

  • simple, easy-to-use interface
  • basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
  • Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
  • Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
  • Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow

Cons:

  • The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
  • basic (limited) audio editing functions
  • everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.

RWF_session.png

Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface.  There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting.  Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.

Using the tool personally:

Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!

Using the tool in instruction situations:

I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting.  As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on.  The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.

Using the tool to document learning and growth:

Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections.  Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.

Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions.  I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.

Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?

Screencasts Open Up A New Dimension to Teaching

Finding and exploring new digital tools can often be a challenge.  The learning curve associated with deciphering how to use a new application can often mean a significant amount of time is spent before any meaningful and useable things come out.  I find it a rare occurrence to come across game changing applications that revolutionize or completely transform how I work in my personal or professional life.  However, with new applications appearing on a daily basis, I find it frequent that I find applications that remove just enough friction in my digital life it’s worthwhile to adopt given the increase in efficiency to my work.

In an attempt to make some of my teaching practice more visual, I decided to explore the Google Chrome extension called Screencastify.  Being weary of my privacy, I initially was disappointed to see that I had to login with a Google account.  Although I’m aware that free applications monetize your information, I find it a big pill to swallow to have the ability to use a simple screen-casting application.  If it weren’t for this assignment, I wouldn’t have proceeded with the installation purely on the principal of privacy.

screencastify1

The next window that appeared was once again a bit disconcerting.  Due to having logged in with my work email, the language changed to French.  This didn’t bother me, however the quality of the French displayed in this window is so poorly translated that I’m left wondering if the interface will be comprehendible.  I’ve often encountered translated applications that were so poorly translated that it made them extremely difficult and frustrating to use.  For me, as I work exclusively in French, this is a very important feature that can be a deal breaker.

screencastify2

Once authorized, permissions must be set for the application to access the camera and microphone built into the computer.  This is reasonable considering the nature of screencasts.  Once again, giving access to such fundamental hardware on my computer to the Chrome browser is unnerving as it expands my risk vectors for online security and privacy.  How can I be assured that my video and audio is not going to directly to the Google advertisement machine?  I guess I’ll have to assume that proper encryption is used by Google and my information will be protected.

Screencastify3

Once the initial setup is complete, you are greeted with a much-appreciated tutorial video that goes through the important points in how to use the application.  This is fantastic as it improves the learning curve and allows me to more quickly get to using the application.

screencastify4

Once I got everything running and made a few test screencasts, I prepared the following screencast to give a tour of the software and elaborate on its advantages and disadvantages.

Even though Screencastify is far from being the ideal screencasting tool available on the market, I think this Chrome extension, or others like it, could prove useful in many aspects of my teaching practice.  As part of my robotics class, many of the things I must teach have to be accomplished on the computer.  A screencasting tool is perfect to record tutorials on how to use software and how to accomplish specific tasks within those pieces of software.  As an example, in the unit on 3D modeling, I could use screencasts to introduce the software as well as explain many of the functionalities within it.  I could assign some of these video tutorials as homework in order to preserve in person class time to actual 3D modeling and helping the students solve problems related to their assignments.   This could increase the pace of the class without introducing significant amounts of stress.  In addition, once these videos are completed, they could be used in the years to come resulting in freeing more of my time to prepare even better course materials.

Students could also use a tool like Screecastify to share their work, their challenges and their successes to their classmates as well as me, the teacher.  In one example, we could flip the classroom and ask each student to learn a new digital skill and share with their classmates this new skill using a screencast.  I recognize this would require a computer and internet access for all students and thus situations where there exists a digital divide might prove to be challenging.

Alternatives to Screencastify exist and one must weigh the pros and the cons of each type of application in order to choose the right one for you.  In his blog, Matteo recommends Screencast-O-Matic.  I suggest you watch his review to see if it works better than Screencastify in your situation.

Overall, I see the large potential of such an application and how it could be an effective collaborative tool on many levels.  Not all students are comfortable recording themselves or presenting in front of others.  In the context of oral presentations, the intimacy of using a computer and not presenting in person in front of one’s peers, screencasts could be a solution to this challenge for many students.

How would you use screencasts in your classroom?

Week 2 – How to Play Jazz Piano

Last week I made my vlogging debut with the beginning of my jazz piano journey.  After two weeks of tracking my progress through video, I have learned a few things.  First, I need to adjust how and what I record to make the vlog more interesting.  In particular, I want to make sure I include some of the “work-in-progress” videos instead of focusing on getting a perfect “take”. I really love what my classmate Amanda is doing to make her vlogs enjoyable to watch. Second, I purchased a phone tripod to make the filming a little more professional and maybe eliminate bad angles.  Luckily a few of my classmates had a similar idea, so I found some good tripod recommendations on Twitter.

Here is my week 2 recap:

What I worked on:

  • Practiced the 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) progression in all 12 major keys (and added in a drum backing track to make it interesting).
  • Reviewed the C Blues scale (in the RH) and tried playing it with a Blues shuffle pattern in the LH.

Wins:

  • Still no sheet music! Focused on playing by ear.
  • Being able to play the C Blues scale easily from muscle memory.  I must have learned the scale at some point over the years and I remembered exactly what to do.
  • Squeezed in lots of short practice sessions (5 minutes or so), which is about all I can manage with an almost one-year-old roaming around.

Fails:

  • I had a lot of difficulty with the Blues shuffle pattern in the LH. I need to spend some slow practice time on this skill.
  • Difficulty choosing which resource to use next.  There are so many on YouTube, so it’s a challenge sorting through the videos. My classmate Daina is exploring Udemy.com, so I might look into that as an option.

Resources used:

Basic Music Theory: C Blues Scale

Week 2 is complete! This week I plan to continue working on the 2-5-1 progression (and see if there are any other useful videos for practice), playing the C Blues scale in the RH and Blues shuffle pattern in the LH and maybe start looking at jazz lead (fake) sheets.

How to Play Jazz Piano – Week 1 (Jazz musicians are really smart!)

Week 1 of my learning project journey is in the books! My biggest takeaway from the week is that this is going to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  Playing jazz compared to classical music requires a shift in how you think and process music.  Instead of relying on sheet music, I am focusing on using my ears to listen to the chords and my brain to figure out what I am playing.  From a theoretical standpoint, I find jazz music fascinating as you experiment with different chords and voicings.  But I also find it frustrating because I am so used to playing exactly what is written on a sheet of music.  In some ways, I compare it to learning a new language, where you are translating the words in your head before speaking.  This week I am “translating” the chords and creating a visual image in my mind before I play the notes on the piano.  Sometimes I rely on the feel of the keys and my hand position, but then my technical brain takes over as I want to know exactly what I am playing.  I anticipate this will be a continued struggle as I progress through my journey.

After my initial blog post about the learning project, I received some great feedback about where to look for resources online.  Similar to my classmate Brooke, I put a call-out on social media asking for advice of where to start. I received lots of useful information and of course some funny but unhelpful advice.

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(The first video suggestion falls into the “unhelpful” category”)

To document my learning journey, I pondered with the idea of vlogging like my classmate Amanda. Like Amanda, I am completely new to vlogging, but we had a great discussion in class on Tuesday night about ways to document our journey in interesting ways. Here is my first attempt!

What I worked on:

  • Demonstrated what I already know (basic form of the 12 bar blues)
  • Practiced play 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) chord progressions using 3rds and 7ths voicings

Wins

  • I figured out the progression fairly quickly and immediately fell in love with the “jazzy” sound
  • I didn’t resort to using sheet music! This is a big one for me. I practiced strictly by ear.

Fails

  • A realization that playing jazz is a lot more difficult and mentally involved than I thought

Resources used:

Aimee Nolte’s YouTube channel is supposed to be great according to recommendations from my jazz friends. My only complaint is there is a lot of talking before you get to the main practice.

That’s a wrap on week 1! For the next week I will continue my 2-5-1 practice in all keys and maybe starting working on a more sophisticated 12 Bar Blues.

Sink or Swim, Time to Jump In

Having been a teacher for over 12 years, my perception of my role as a teacher has changed in many ways.  If the first few years, I viewed myself as conduit of information to that had to be channeled effectively to my students.  Today, I view my job as a teacher as a curator of information and a guide to assist my students in interpreting and navigating the ocean of knowledge the internet has to offer.  With my guidance and the structures, I provide within my classroom, I hope my students learn the skills and the abilities that will prove critical once they leave the confines of school and enter their adult lives.  It’s my hope that they use these skills to navigate life and make good decisions based on good values and good logic.  As Brown and Adler mention in their article, Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Trail, and Learning 2.0:

The most profound impact of the Internet, an impact that has yet to be fully realized, is its ability to support and expand the various aspects of social learning. What do we mean by “social learning”? Perhaps the simplest way to explain this concept is to note that social learning is based on the premise that our understanding of content is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions. The focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning.

By controlling the environment in our classes where our students develop, we as teachers can influence, in a calculated manner, how students are learning.  There is no sense in competing with the quantity and quality of the information the internet can provide; however, we can influence and teach our students how to manage these strong sources of information so that they can be properly interpreted and processed.  This is the type of social learning that can be achieved through the use of social media in the classroom.  By providing a safe environment where students can make mistakes and takes risks, we can guide them in being responsible digital citizens.

In the recent past, it was possible to live in two separate worlds, the online world and the real world.  The ever-connected nature of our modern society creates a situation where people are now, more than ever, forced to integrate their digital lives with their real world lives.  The online world is now the real world and the real world is more than ever online.  We as a society have moved the majority of our social conversations to the internet and this is where we must concentrate our efforts in helping our students.

Like Michael Wesch postulates in his TEDxKC talk, we must help people in their transition from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able.  With instant access to information, students have to gain the ability to not only contextualize and be critical of the information that flows on a daily basis, they must also gain the ability to act on the knowledge they have in concrete and positive ways.  The integration of social media into our classrooms represents, to me, a way to foster Wesch’s idea of knowledge-ability in our students.

With social media and its ability to open the classroom to the world, concerns related to privacy and safety are always the first things that come to my mind.  One of the 21 century literacies that is presented in The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies is:

  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes.

Much like Alfed Nobel and his creation of dynamite, all the best intentions in the world will not always lead to positive and productive use of such technology.  As we have seen in the past decade, the weaponization of information though the spreading of fake news and the dissemination of pseudo-scientific misinformation can cause real harm to a society.  Much like the use of propaganda in the last century, the control of information can guide society to very dark places.  With large companies like Google and Amazon recording, studying and modeling our every move online, my information is being commoditized and sold.  Although I’d like to think I’m just another number in an infinitely large database across multiple servers in hundreds of locations across the world, I’m convinced the Internet I see might not be the Internet others see due to companies like Google personalizing my portal to the web.

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(Source: http://ngecacit.com/ARFiles/BP-portal-more.htm)

Our students have to navigate this world, and as soon as they log onto the Internet at a very young age, their electronic profile is already being built.  The idea that a large corporation owns so much information on so many individuals is starting to spark many political conversations across the world.  In the European Union, the Right to be Forgotten has provided a mechanism for a person to erase their online profile.  This leads me to believe we should have a similar mechanism everywhere in the world as this might allow kids to live their online childhoods not having to worry that if they make a mistake as a 13-year-old, it will not haunt them for the rest of their lives.   Another interesting regulation from the EU, which has its pros and cons, is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which aims “to give control to individuals over their personal data”.  With all of these initiatives, I have a bit of hope that someday control of our data will come back to the individual.

Building resilience and “knowledge-ability” in our students can be a daunting task.  It is one that I personally don’t feel like I’m well tooled to address as of today.  Gradually, I’m gaining confidence in the possibilities of social media in my educational practice.  I know my pessimism is getting the best of me at the moment and I acknowledge the many fantastic things social networks can bring to the lives of students.  I need to leave this zone of stagnation and take more risks as a teacher, more specifically in the world of using social media in my classroom.  How can I expect my students to learn the skills I hope they acquire without me being good digital citizenship that they can observe?  How do I take the plunge without having the fear of drowning in the deep end of the SAMR model?  (Thanks Brooke for bringing this version to my attention via Twitter!)

SAMR

Exploring what needles me

Contemplating my major digital project for EC&I 831, I felt an opportunity had arisen for me to dedicate a certain amount of time towards reaching a goal that I have been wanting to achieve for many years.  I’m a maker.  The idea of making things that are useful in everyday life is very appealing to me.  I’ve engineered many electronic projects; I’ve built a garage all by myself and built a few pieces of furniture just to name a few of my exploits.  I fix anything and everything, however there is one large domain that remains to be conquered and now is the time.

Sewing is going to be my next frontier to explore as a maker.   Mostly reserved to the women in my life, I think it’s a skill worth dedicating time and energy towards learning as it can prove useful in a wide variety of ways.  From fixing clothing to making my own custom creations, I view sewing as a lifelong skill that will forever be an asset.  Much of the inspiration for this idea comes from Adam Savage and his One Day Build where made his EDC1 bag.  Watching him gives me hope that I can do the same.

My wife is an avid seamstress with a well-stocked sewing studio.  At my disposal is every kind of machine that one might need to accomplish sewing tasks.  (I have no idea what the difference is between a regular sewing machine and a surging machine, that will come in step one.)  Although my wife will definitely be an excellent resource during this project, it’s my intention to mostly rely on her expertise for feedback on my progress and the outcomes of my projects.  I really want to see how far I can get using books and online resources in my learning experiment.  Of course, your feedback will be crucial!

There are so many things to learn!  It will be impossible for me to become a master at sewing; however, I hope to establish a solid base that will allow me to feel confident when a new potential sewing project might arise.  As any good teacher, one must have a plan.  Learning how to sew is much too vague of an outcome to be realistically achievable.  As a learner, I learn best by doing and I will approach this project in much the same way.  I intend to start with a simple project and work my way towards more complex projects as I progress over the next few months.

Step one: Learn the machines and their capabilities.

Project: Make a simple pencil case.

Zipper-Pencil-Pouch-25

https://www.applegreencottage.com/2016/07/how-to-make-felt-pencil-case.html

My initial step will be to use online tutorials and articles to learn how to use the machines.  Youtube will my primary source of material but I’m sure other sources will crop up as I get going.  During this step, I intend to learn how to thread and setup the machines properly.  Subsequently, I will use scrap material to start practicing using the machines by sewing things together and evaluating how close I come to the desired outcome.  Once I have gained enough confidence, I will attempt to make a simple pencil case.

Step two: Learn to use patterns and following build instructions

Project: Make a small pouch using plans from Savage Industries.

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https://adamsavage.com/collections/pouches/products/edc-pouch-small

In this step, I will purchase a pattern for a small pouch from Savage Industries.  This will initiate me to using patterns and the steps to follow when considering a larger more complex project.  I will install my first zipper and hopefully learn how professionally designed cloth projects work.

Step three: Learning more advances sewing techniques

Project.: Make and EDC2 from a kit from Savage Industries.

edc2_white_beauty_2048x_36283a77-1625-4a6a-a5f5-eac3b51d3da1_2048x

https://adamsavage.com/collections/bags/products/savage-industries-edc-two

This step will involve using a more complex kit to make a bag that I intend to use as my new school bag.  This project will use many more advanced techniques that will have been built and acquired from the previous two projects.  Through my research, many people on the internet have built this project as their first sewing project, thus I feel like this will be attainable.

Bonus step: Transition to my first piece of clothing

Project: Make a Lab Coat for school.

If I’m able to complete my three previous projects, I’d like to find a pattern to make a custom lab coat to use when I’m teaching my science classes.  This will require custom measuring to fit a garment to my body and represents, to me, the ultimate degree of difficulty.

I can’t wait to get going!  Here we go!

Capture d’écran, le 2019-09-29 à 22.07.00

My love-hate relationship with social media

I would consider myself an ‘early-adopter’ of technology, especially with the Internet and social media.  As a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), I grew up in a time when using the Internet was a new way of life as I learned alongside new developments.  E-mailing, peer-to-peer music sharing websites (like Napster and Limewire) and instant messaging (MSN Messenger) were all part of my elementary school years.  I remember coming home from school, connecting to the dial-up internet (who can forget that connection sound?) and beginning a series of online chats with my friends over MSN. This was the beginning of my social media ritual that would continue and evolve over the next 20 years.

1 Millennials
Source: Forbes.com

Since I was figuring out these sites at the same time (or before) my parents, they didn’t have a lot of control or understanding of what I was doing on the Internet. An example: Yahoo Chat Rooms. One of my best friends growing up has a brother (who now makes his living creating video games like this one) who was very computer savvy. He helped us create Yahoo accounts so we could join large Yahoo chat rooms with strangers from all over the world. We even figured out how to participate in audio chat, usually with adults. Keep in mind we were young – in grades 4 and 5. All of this took place with our parents oblivious to what we were doing and before conversations about cyber safety existed. Did we tell them where we lived? Did we give out other identifying info? I don’t remember and I shudder to think of the potential dangers we could have encountered. Long story short, if there was something new on the Internet, we tried it.

Fast forward through high school (Hi5, MySpace and eventually Facebook) and I began to see the negative or bullying effects of social media. Does anyone remember the “Top Friends” feature on MySpace?

1 Todays kids
Source

Then you add in the “relationship status” feature on Facebook…sigh.  It wasn’t all terrible though, as it was a really cool way to connect with people from around the world.  In grade 12 I went on a school trip to Europe, and our group joined with another group from a small school in southern California. A decade later, I am still connected with some people from this trip and we keep in touch sharing photos of our growing families and professional endeavours.  Heading to university, I was able to join ‘Class of 2011’ groups on Facebook and ‘meet’ other students before starting classes.  This was extremely helpful to discuss everything from textbooks to the first social gatherings of the semester.

I have spent the last decade exploring successful and failed social media including Google +, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Weebly/Blogger/Wordpress, Tumblr and Snapchat.  Some have held my interest longer than others as I feel they add value to my life.  Other apps are cool ideas, and should be really successful, but they don’t seem to have the same staying power as more popular apps (like TikTok or Vine [in it’s prime]).  For example, I used the app “Mazu” with my younger nieces, and I thought it was a really positive experience.  It was created to help teach digital citizenship and the positive power of social media.  But then they just stopped using it one day. (Possibly a reflection on the short attention spans of this new generation?)

I am now at the point with social media that I feel “too old” to learn about some new networks, like TikTok.  All I know about TikTok is my nieces and nephews had it for about 5 minutes and became WAY too obsessed that my sister (their mother) made them delete the app.  As an arts education teacher, I feel like TikTok could be useful for ‘research’ and to reach my students, because we could learn some of the dance crazes like “The Git Up” or “Hey Julie”, but that’s why I use YouTube.

Even dating apps like Tinder and Bumble came after I met my husband, so although I understand the ‘swipe right/left’, it is something I will never experience in my social media journey.

When I consider how social media has affected my personal and professional life, I have a lot of positives but a growing list of negatives. Here is an example:

Snapchat: The only way that I communicate with my 16-year old niece. We have a great relationship and tell each other everything, but if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through Snapchat.  According to my niece, it is the only way she communicates with her friends (not through texting or other messaging). Why? Because the chats are not saved unless you want to save them and also through snapstreaks. The stress of snapstreaks is something I know all too well, as I send and receive a picture of the wall every day to my niece to maintain our streak. We have been doing this for 910 days. NINE-HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS. I even have a reminder in my phone – “Snap!!!!! Streak!!!!”. What is the point of this?! It actually causes stress in my life because I am afraid of losing the streak and how it would affect our relationship. Before I gave birth to my baby, I gave my niece my Snapchat login info so she could maintain the streak when I went into labour (turns out my baby came quick and we didn’t have to worry about losing the streak).  Is this the world we live in now? I was about to give birth, but one of my concerns was maintaining the streak as I felt like it is part of my relationship with my niece.  That being said, I still do it every single day with no end in sight. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).

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On a positive note, social media allows me to share milestones, travel and important events with friends and family.  I can stay connected with people wherever they are in the world and maintain important relationships.  In my professional life, I used Twitter, a personal website and LinkedIn to create a following that led to a full teaching studio of piano students within a few weeks.  These positive networking experiences helped me grow and maintain my business.  I also enjoy using Twitter to connect with other educators and sharing what we are doing in the classroom.  LinkedIn has allowed me to interact with people in other industries that share common activities (like same universities and volunteer commitments).

But with these positives, there are also negatives like #fomo and feeling left out when not included in social activities.  I think this is something that is an even bigger issue with our students and something I look forward to exploring further in this course.  Also, as a new mom, I have spent A LOT of time on my phone perusing Facebook and Instagram while holding a sleeping baby. It is hard not to compare your baby to other babies and get wrapped up in the “Instagram vs. Reality” world. And then there are sponsored posts/ads (are they listening to our conversations??) that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Finally, as a teacher, I find that I get a lot of student follow/friend requests that I must decline.  This is not necessarily a negative, but it does require having a conversation about privacy with my students.

In a recent conversation with my sister (mother of 4 of my nieces and nephews), I said “I hate the internet! I hate social media!”.  I could see how it was affecting my sister and her kids and the daily struggles she is having with them and access to social media.  She wondered if she should unplug the wi-fi? Move to a deserted island? How can we turn this around? What has to change to make it a positive part of our daily lives?  What can teachers do to help our students navigate the constantly changing world of social media?

On that note, I have to go take a blurry picture of my face or the wall and write the letter ‘S’ to maintain a daily ritual.

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Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

 

 

 

 

What’s the MATTER?

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Hello ECI834er’s,

It’s so hard to believe that we are reaching the end of the semester already!  I’ve had successes and less than successes in the creation of my online course content, but overall I am so excited with how it turned out.  We learned lessons (often the hard way) and I am so appreciative of the feedback I received throughout.  I have actually used one of them in particular, Edpuzzle.com and I LOVE it!  I never would have explored this cool option had it not been for this unique assignment of analyzing each other’s work.   It has changed the path of Joe and I’s unit for the best.  Joe and I have carefully curated modules to suit the needs of my grade 2/3 class and they are having a blast working through the course!  happy very funny GIF by Disney Zootopia

Sloooowly but surely we are plugging away on all the assignments and the feedback I have received has been wonderful!  The kids are loving the independence and the exciting new way to learn.  So, what are they learning you might be wondering?  If you haven’t been following along on my blog you can check out the whole course profile HERE but I’m also going to include a Cole’s Notes version below!  If you would like to check out the course in it’s full form and have a Regina Public School email address, have at it HERE by using the code in the photo to the left! If you do not have an RPS email, please email me at danielle.hackel@rbe.sk.ca and I can set you up with the information you would need to peek it.

Science Unit – Matter – Grade 2/3

  • Students begin by learning the fundamentals of Google Classroom, the platform we chose.  Students learned about Google Read & Write, Google slides and how to take a photo and copy it into a slide.  They practiced typing and even learned how to take a photo and paste in into a slideshow.

 

 

Students then move into our first module that focuses on building basic knowledge of Matter – what it is, the states, and some properties of each.  This module also allows students to try some parts from home with their families, work with partner in the class as well as work independently.  We used many different kinds of learning platforms in this module including Kahoot, Edpuzzle, Youtube and Google Slides.

Next up is our most hands on module – the experiment section!  In this unit children will view and complete matter experiments with the help of Joe’s grade 5 students.  Students will work at home on the projects and then get the chance to respond on the classroom Facebook.  We will also do a couple of these at school for students who cannot complete them at home.  We will do a more formal lab write up for these at school so we can practice that as well.  They finish this section with a super fun assignment to make their own textbook and practice the properties of matter as well as using the copy and paste function they used in an earlier unit.  Again, we tried to make each unit unique, therefore allowing for each student to have a chance to shine!

To finish the unit we are exploring both properties, changing states of matter as well as doing a review to gain knowledge before our unit ends.  Kids will take part in an egg drop challenge that spans both home and school testing how to keep a solid a solid and what properties a liquid has that we would see if the egg’s solid shell cracks open.  To conclude, students will watch a short video and then participate in a final quiz using google forms to ask and store answers.  Again, we are utilizing many different platforms to try and give each student an opportunity to feel successful.

This course was a blast to make and it has been so cool to watch the kids work through it!  Joe and I were talking about how interesting it is that kids have been trying assignments from home that we hadn’t formally introduced because they are logging in from home and working through it.  I know this wouldn’t or couldn’t happen at every school, but it’s been amazing to see here.  Now, don’ t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows either…there were some trials and tribulations as well as these successes that I outline in my blog post, “Google Classroom…in my classroom” if you want to check it out!  I wrote this post and then Kristina reviewed our modules and made some suggestions that changed the profile for me!  I was introduced to tools that I had never worked with and really appreciated the feedback.  A fresh set of eyes is truly a gift!  If you want to check out the response to the feedback and see any changes I made, just click HERE! 

Thank you so much for taking the time to follow along with me on this journey,

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

Will The Technology Force Be With You?

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Hello everyone,

Another week…another debate…another tricky topic to navigate.  I recognize that Alec picks these topics to spark a good conversation and holy smokes, I think this will be another doozy!  Our debate topic begs the question, “Technology is a force for equity in society.”  This one…potentially even more so than last week, will be extremely hard to decide because technology has the ability to both divide and equalize.

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How it divides:

  • There are, what I feel are obvious reasons that technology can divide us, the first being funding!  Now…this isn’t as simple as it seems.  Schools in areas of our city that are considered impoverished receive more money in order to purchase more supplies and technology to compensate for the potential lack of those things at home.  Schools in areas of the city that are considered more affluent are given less as the expectation is that supplies, technology and opportunity can be awarded at home.  Now, the sticky part of this, is that there are students and families with need all over our city so how do we equitable divide funds so that opportunity with technology is actually equal?  Not to mention, in schools that receive less funding, regardless of area, the technology seems to be outdated and often dramatically short for the number of students in the school.  I know with my school, which is located in what would be considered an affluent area, went almost the entirety of this school year with 2 computer carts for the whole school.  You need both carts to accommodate 1 class…it’s pretty hard to do any activities online when you only get the computers once a week. 😦
  • Access is another divide with regards to technology.  If you have the technology but no access to the internet, many of the functions of these technological devices are useless.  Many rural communities, including our many reservations in Saskatchewan struggle with staying connected.  Our grids are old and in need of updating and our crown corporations struggle to ensure that access is equal.
  • Access world wide will never be equal and it will continue to drive a wedge between wealthy countries and impoverished ones.  Although there have been advances in this area in both access as well as the actual devices, I don’t think it will every catch up which is a divide.  Countries who would benefit from access are not awarded it.

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How it equalizes: 

  • Technology awards students with disabilities the opportunity to be equals to their typical classmates.  There are many programs available to help students speak, see, translate, dictate, and organize their thoughts.  These programs are life changing for these students and make their personal divides, much smaller.
  • Technology has greatly improved the lives of our EAL (English as an additional language learner) students.  With programs, even ones as simple as Google Translate, our EAL learners can begin communicating with their peers right away.  Although this science is not exact and often translations are not 100% accurate, it is a step in a pretty amazing direction to making EVERYONE welcome in our schools.
  • Technology brings everyone together!  Technology helps equalize the space between us by letting us communicate in ways we have never before!  We have the ability to speak with anyone around the world instantly – this is something that would have been thought impossible in years previous.

 

These are just quick jot notes of how I think both sides impact this statement.  I am so excited to see and participate in the debate tonight! 🙂  Good luck to both sides.

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind, without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle