Practice Makes…

Well, they say practice makes perfect but from a girl who hasn’t touched a video game since the Super Mario Brothers on the N64, I have had quite the learning experience! I chose to do the Flappy Code Tutorial on Hour of Code.  I honestly cheated a little bit and set my Grade level to 2-6 so that I knew I could do it. Well, boy was I wrong!  I literally spent 35 minutes, yes 35 minutes trying to get my flappy code guy to move on the sixth level and then after my husband finally helped me to get past that, I got stuck for another 30 minutes while creating a game until I finally gave up!

This is a short Screencastify of my work while trying to get create the game at the end. This video is three minutes so I am positive you will understand my frustration after 30!!

Although I was not successful, I can see how coding could be beneficial in the classroom. This Edutopia blog does a fantastic job of explaining the benefits and the push-backs of code in the classroom. For this type of coding specifically, I think that it would be difficult for some students to get involved so, in my classroom, I could see myself giving it as an option instead of as a mandatory lesson.  This would create an opportunity for those students who would like to enhance creative ability in the classroom while others could show that skill in a different way.

I have not practiced it, but we talked about coding with makey makey  in class and I think that would be cool. I know you have to purchase the kit but this video speaks for itself about why every school should purchase the kit! How much innovation and creation would this inspire in a classroom? Playing a game or making music with a BANANA?! How cool is that?

My final thoughts- Coding is not for me (remember my traditional learner, pencil and paper in the first-row kid) but I do see how it would be very beneficial for some students!

PS. I’m sorry for this late blog post, I was too busy catching huge fish!

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Connecting with Technology- the Finale!

Over the period of the last two months, I have had the opportunity of interacting with a ton of new faces online. Before starting my ECMP 355 class, it was something to talk about if I had posted on Facebook more than once every couple of weeks.  Posting was hard enough, I hardly ever carried out conversations. After signing up for this course, I was overwhelmed with the amount of online forums we would be participating in. Between blogging, commenting on questions in our Google Plus community,   keeping up with the weekly plans doc, and posting/ participating on Twitter, I was terrified.

Although I was not online as much as some of my fellow classmates, I learned a ton of information over the last two months.  Our Google Plus community was a place to ask any questions you may need and also answer any questions that you had time to answer. Within a day, there was always an answer from someone that could lead you in the right direction.  Although I did not often post in this forum,  I tried to post as often as I could with whatever information I could.

                            

Blogging was a large part of our lives over the last two months. We were asked to complete two prompted blog posts as well as a learning project post every week. This was not new to me as I had done some blogging in ECS 100 and 110 but I hated it then. I think I did not like it because I just couldn’t get into the habit of putting all of my thoughts out there for the world to see. However, over the last two months, I have really started to enjoy blogging. I think the more often you do it, the more comfortable you feel and the more comfortable you feel, the more you share. This screencastify shows a glimpse into what I have been blogging. Feel free to scroll up or down if you would like to see more.

These blogs are just a couple of the interactions that took place over the semester but they each seemed to hold good conversations. There were so many interesting blog posts to read, it was hard to keep up but definitely worth the time.

Amy was learning all about ASL in her blog post Over the Moon with ASL. 

Amy was tackling her learning project in Learning Project- Progress Report #1 

Payton was discussing how Facebook is not just a Useless Time Suck.

One of the last things we were asked to do over the past couple of months was to post and interact on Twitter.

This was probably the scariest part for me as I did not even have a Twitter account. I quickly fell in love as I realized just how many resources were at my fingertips. I learned so much about not only education but also about farming.  I participated in a couple of education chats and shared resources that I had found often. I was amazed at how easy it was to connect on Twitter not just in the education world but also with other communities of people. I often posted or read Tweets with the hashtags #Farm365 or #AgMoreThanEver and it was so cool to build that community.

As you can see, I have been busy over the last couple of months learning a whole new realm of technology.  It was a bit of a learning curve but I am confident to say, I think I have a pretty good grasp of these tools and can absolutely see how they would be useful in the classroom.

 

Take 54 Complete!

When I first started this course I was really leery about the journey I was about to embark on. I know I have always been a traditional learner, or what some might call something else (pen and paper in the front row)! So I thought if it worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for everyone else! I have never been a fan of technology and find that I often spend more time fighting with it than just doing it by hand.  I can honestly say that in many ways, ECMP 355 has changed now changed my mind.  I do believe technology can be extremely useful in the classroom if used correctly and after all, kids are going to be using it either way so we might as well use it to our advantage!

I made a video about the things that I learned in ECMP 355. This was my first video I ever made so I was terrified but I think it turned out pretty good. I’m sorry for the bad singing voice ahead of time!

Some of the tools I used were:

Screencastify to record my powerpoint

Itunes for playing the music

Windows Media Maker for making and editing the movie

Thanks for watching!

Let me know what you think.

Is The Battle Worth Fighting?

In today’s world where everyone (and their dog) has an opinion about everything that is backed by “facts”, is it really productive to have meaningful conversations on social media? Especially conversations regarding social justice? This is a question that was posed to us last class.  We were asked to reflect on whether or not online social activism can be meaningful and worthwhile? Or whether or not it is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?

As I have talked about in some of my previous posts, I often think of my life as “separate” from my social media life.  As this article states, I know that my “real life” and “online life” are connected and that everything that happens in my real life fuels my online life. However, I don’t think everything that happens in my private life needs to be shown online. In teaching pre-school and living in a small conservative town, I choose to leave many things offline as I don’t think everyone needs to see or have an opinion on my every move.

Now that brings me to the topic of this week. Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? I am going to say that if you are only friends with like-minded liberal people, then sure, otherwise no. Research shows that people hide behind screens and often say things that would not have the courage to say in real life. I think that goes the other way also that people get so hard-headed that they only see one view, especially online, as they don’t have to actually listen to the other person’s point of view, they can just scroll through it and post their argument again.

That is why I think it would only be possible if like -minded or relatively liberal people are the ones commenting. In my small town, with very conservative minded people, I think speaking about social justice and having a positive debate online would likely never happen. In this article, Katia Hildebrant, my professor states ” I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act”.  Maybe that is true, I think we do need to use our privilege to speak for those with less or none but if you know you are going into a losing battle, do you do so anyways? Are there not other ways to show that these issues are important, such as volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity,  or Me to We?

This is just one person’s opinion, after all. I do think if you are speaking with the right people, these conversations would absolutely be possible but for a small conservative Saskatchewan town, I don’t they are very likely.

The World of the Internet

If you can honestly say you never did anything stupid in your life time, you are a very rare creature! I know I did some stupid things when I was younger but the best part about being in a little bit of an older generation is that everything I did when I was younger, was not posted online! Now I am still in my 20s,  so the internet definitely existed and social media was prevalent but not nearly as prevelant as it is today. Most kids aged 8 and up have a Facebook account now and the amount that it is used is unprecedented. It is crazy to think that these kids entire lives will be posted on some form of social media. I know that if everything I did was online, I would scared of what might come from it!

This last week we were assigned to watch two blogs posts out of five. After watching the first two, I just couldn’t stop. They were so interesting, I just kept watching! These are some of the documentaries I watched:

The Sextortion of Amanda Todd

Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man in The Shadows

Sext Up Kids

The Price of Shame

The one that I found the most relatable was The Price of Shame. This was a TED talk by Monica Lewinsky. In 1998 she had a relationship with the president and with the invention of the new found internet, she was an instant fame overnight. What is disturbing about this is that people were calling her every name in the book and I am willing to bet those people would not be saying the same thing if they didn’t have the security of their computer screen between Monica and them.

I found this CBC article  about public shaming and it’s incredible to think that some people actually think it’s a good thing! In this article by CIBC, pedestrians were asked what they thought of public shaming and one guy said it will help people stop the actions they are doing by knowing that it’s wrong. Are you kidding? Do we not know what a phone is anymore or what it talks to a person face to face?

The other documentary that had me amazed was the Sext Up Kids video. This was so beyond disturbing to me. It brought up the fact that marketers are pushing more and more to have kids be “sexy” because that’s what sells. In all reality, if you look around us- everywhere we look women are told to be “sexy”. Like this ad from Dolce & Gabana. What are we really saying to our kids with images like this?

IMG_2198

Photo retrieved from: https://goo.gl/images/NYM7jJ

It is scary to think how many kids are changing the way they act and the way they dress because oh how mainstream media portrays women.

 

 

Are Our Lives Really Private?

This week we had an assignment to cyber-slueth somebody (or in other words, to be a creeper). I was a little bit hesitant at first as I was looking for super private information and felt weird doing so. I then came to the reality that if I can get all of this information online, is it really private information? In all reality- anything we put on the internet has the possibility of being out there forever!

I started to Google Arlene Bird as she was my partner for this assignment. After coming up with hardly any results (apparently there are a lot of Arlene Birds), I turned to DuckDuckGo. This is a search engine that does not have a memory like Google. Did you know that Google keeps track of anything you have ever searched for? How creepy is that?! On DuckDuckGo, I ended up finding this picture of Arlene. I only knew it was her because I have seen her in our virtual class but if someone wanted to find you, I am sure there would be other ways to cross-reference this information.

After giving up on a Google/ DuckDuckGo search because there was too much information, I turned to Facebook and Twitter.  This was the part that made me question my own privacy! I feel comfortable with my students or parents of my students seeing any of my stuff online as I really try to monitor that. BUT any random person could still find way more than enough information about me (or anybody) online.

Arlene is in her fourth year of her Bachelor of Education Degree at the First Nations University of Canada, she is engaged (I could see to whom), she has two daughters and one son.  There is even a video that I can access (which is super cute) about her daughter trying to tweeze her own eyebrows! She is learning to play the flute, and is passionate about education. Although there was not a ton of information written on her Facebook or Twitter, a person can gather a lot more information that this from the pictures available. Don’t they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”?

Overall, there was not a ton of information about Arlene but I could find a ton of images and videos on Facebook that I had access to without being Facebook friends.  The experience really made me think about how much information is truly available to the world.

Speaking of being creepy, feel free to follow Arlene @ArleneDBird1 on Twitter or check out what she is talking about lately on her blog.

 

A Brand New Community

This past week in our ECMP 355 class we explored the online world of digital citizenship. We had Alec Couros in class who is a professor at the UofR and he spoke to us about the advantages (and disadvantages) of this new participatory culture. We also were encouraged to watch this video by Michael Wesch. We were only told to watch the first fifteen minutes but this took me my storm and I could not stop watching!! As I have said before, I am a very traditional learner so in all honesty, the initial thought of even taking a technology course (nevermind implementing new technology in the classroom) was terrifying to me.  I used to always think the pen and paper method worked for me so that means it must have worked for everyone else too! So why can’t we just keep teaching that way?

Both Alec and Michael emphasized this new form of user generated distribution which basically means the more people that watch it and share it, the more people see it. In fact, Michael actually talked about this free video he had created about WEB 2.0  on a Wednesday afternoon. By that Sunday (Superbowl Sunday), it had become more popular than any of the Superbowl commercials (that companies pay thousands and thousands of dollars for) including this one!

In the same aspect, Alec talked about a lady named Justine Sacco who went to Africa and posted on her Twitter “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White” right before boarding her plane. She had hardly any followers but by the time she landed, her tweet had become a phenomenon. She ended up losing her job, and many books were written about this one tweet in particular.

I think both of these scenarios show how brilliant but yet how terrifying the internet can truly be.  In this new participatory culture of digital citizenship, anyone from anywhere can have access to or share multiple videos, books, movies, tweets, ect with a single click.  Adilyn Malcolm is a perfect example of how this access can allow for a whole new world of opportunity. Alec showed this video to us in class and it had me so intrigued I went searching for more information.

Throughout my search, I continued to find multiple videos of her including this. The ability to self-teach herself dance has now given her the opportunity to speak to a group of students in a school about how she learned all of these moves through the internet.  I think it is beyond fascinating that we have all of these resources at our expense. Adilyn taught herself a multitude of new skills by simply watching videos instead of spending thousands of dollars on dance lessons. Let’s be honest, in today’s society, who has thousands of dollars to spend on any sort of extracurricular like this?

This brings me to my initial point about integrating technology into the classroom. Although I am still terrified of technology, I think it is critical that we teach to the specs of 21st-century learning and integrate this into our classrooms. I think one of the most critical aspects we need to do is teach our students about our digital footprint and how quickly things can spread when they are put onto the internet (just like the story of the lady going to Africa).

In saying that, technology is prevalent in every aspect of our students lives today.  I think if we teach them proper etiquette at school, it will carry into their home lives and hopefully protect them there as well.  I think this is a lot like the Birds and the Bees talk! If you tell your child student to just “not do it”, they will likely do it anyways.  It’s like an “Oh yeah, just watch me” thing! If you explain to your child the safe way to do things, the chance of running into unexpected mishaps will lessen.

I also think this opens up a world of possibilities for new dimensions of learning.  As you can see in my recent Learning Project post, I have recently started learning how to do DIY Woodworking.  I have simply watched videos, read forums, and became really great friends with Pinterest!  Alot like Adilyn, I am learning all sorts of new things and I think the exact same scenario could play out in our classrooms. Students could lead self-directed projects such as learning to write an essay or you could do class-wide activities such as exploring to see what Africa is like. The possibilities with technology (specifically forms of social media) in the classroom are truly endless.

Let me know what you think. Are there more things to be worried? What else would you use mediums such as Youtube and Twitter for?

 

 

More to the Internet than… the Internet!

 

How did I not ever know there was more to the internet than just the good old internet explorer? I had recently upgraded to Chrome as my main browser and that was genius but now that I know about some chrome extensions my mind is blown!! I always just went onto the internet, searched for whatever I was looking for, waited for my computer to load for an infinite amount of time, dealt with all of the annoying add pop ups, and then logged off with only half an answer and a ton of frustration!

I still have two years left of my degree so I was a little bit hesitant about taking a senior education elective already but I am incredibly excited that I decided to so now! Even if I just learn about these few chrome extensions, my life will forever be changed!!

I broke my hand just over two months ago but have had numerous problems ever since so one Chrome extension that I really played around with was Select and Speak. It won’t talk to text for me but almost all things take twice as long now that I only have one hand so anything that will save me time is fantastic! All you have to do is hit the play button on any page and it will start speaking from the top. If you want it to only read one passage you just highlight that specific section and then press play. It is seriously such a life saver. Who doesn’t love to gain back a little time in their lives and be able to do laundry or make supper WHILE getting work done? Best thing ever, right?! Here is a little bit of glimpse into what Select and Speak does. You can choose from numerous different languages and speeds which is also perfect because I hate when apps speak so slow that I could finish reading and making supper and doing laundry before it finishes one page!

The second chrome extension that I have recently been told about and love is Screencastify which is what the above recording is done with. You can either record yourself speaking while showing the screen or just record the screen and the audio on the computer.  I think this is so cool as I am great at visualizing and awful at explaining. So now, instead of saying that little button that has the thing on it on the top left corner, I can send a clip of a Screencastify and have the other person know exactly what I am talking about!!

The last Chrome extension I will speak to (for today) is Grammarly. I have used the full version for a few years now and it is amazing. It double checks your work (APA style papers are my nemesis) and makes suggestions for any changes that should be made.  It will even check APA style referencing which is great for me or else I may not have made it through my 300 level English class! I did not know however about the Grammarly Chrome extension. It will literally check your spelling and grammar for everything (including emails, tweets, Facebook posts, ect).  It will simply highlight or underline whatever you have incorrect and then give you a suggestion to change it.

                                             

When everything is good to go you will get the little green G at the bottom of your post. I don’t understand why I did not know about this previously! It would have saved me a ton of embarrassing grammatically incorrect emails that I have sent while in a hurry! Actually, all of these Chrome extensions would have saved me a ton of time and headaches.

Tweet What?

Twitter, oh Twitter! Such a clever little tool that I had feared for way too long! My brother, the clever man he is (the marketing manager of a large Saskatchewan company, once told me that if I wanted to build my business, I should be on Twitter. I used to run a successful fitness company but was always looking for other ways to market. I signed up for a business account, looked at the Twitter feed once, and never looked at it or touched it again UNTIL ECMP 355 came along because I thought it was just too confusing!   I set up a personal page after starting in this course and after participating in #saskedchat on Thursday evening, I started to see the benefit that Twitter presents.

Living in a small rural town, I am always searching for new ideas to bring into the classroom.  I don’t have any other Pre-Kindergarten teachers around so I rely on the internet for many of my ideas.  #saskedchat is a networking opportunity that takes place one hour every week through Tweetdeck (or some other similar form of seeing all hashtags in one place). This is what my Tweetdeck looks like.

The #saskedchat allowed me to expand my PLN (Professional Learning Network) by following other professionals in the field were also participating in the chat. This was awesome because not only can I get good ideas about the topics presented on Thursday evenings during the #saskedchat, I can also get continuous ideas from those individuals that I now follow.

I am continually surprised when I post or comment on Twitter by the amount of people from all over the province and country that respond.  I always thought if I had Facebook that I did not need Twitter but I now realize I was so wrong.  I think Facebook is more of a thing for close friends where Twitter can reach so many more people without needing to know exactly who they are. Obviously for these reasons, I now think Twitter is a great professional development tool but I also think it would be wonderful in the classroom.

I would be a little bit hesitant about safety concerns for my students but as long as I had consent from parents or just left the page with no actual pictures of the students, I think it would be alright. I think it would be very beneficial for my students to look for resources, depending on their age (think about how much you have to weed through on Google to get something good)! I think it would be great for students of all ages to see classrooms in other areas of the world and learn about their cultures by following other teachers.  I think it could either be used as a “Helper of the Day” tool where one students gets to post on Twitter every day and then the responses are looked at as a classroom on the Smartboard OR each student to could have their own Twitter account and they could use a # for the classroom OR the teacher could post on behalf of the students every day (this one would be more to keep parents informed and build a PLN.

I’ve only just started using Twitter so I am sure my ideas will evolve as I learn more and more but I do think it is a great tool for networking and gaining valuable resources! I am looking forward to further exploring the now, not so dreadful, world of Twitter!!