Today’s Episode is Brought to you by the Letters A and V!

Sesame Street, the pillar of my first experience in education that I can remember. A harmonious neighbourhood that was one of a kind for the era in which it was born. With such an array of people from different backgrounds, it encompassed the true meaning of what community was in the most positive sense. Throw in Jim Henson’s Muppets (Yes, they are Muppets, even without being on the Muppet Show!) as well and it’s an even more diverse universe that a kid would forever want to visit…Heck, even adults who had the Sesame Street experience growing up. I for one am guilty of this proclamation! In 2010, while in my second year of my Bachelor of Education, my class had planned an education trip to New York and I was determined to visit Sesame Street. After a number of phone calls and promises to get back to me…I was unsuccessful at gaining the opportunity to visit the street where a lot of pre-school learning went on in my life…oh well…I will keep trying until I am granted that opportunity!

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Photo Source

I’m getting carried away… Our blog post this week is about a quote from Neil Postman in which he states, “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” What Postman means is that children, from an early age, that watch Sesame Street have this idea of what learning will be like after being accustomed to watching the educational programming before heading into a school system. I think Scott put it best, in his blog post, when he stated, From what I can tell, Sesame Street can, in fact, give the impression that schools are (or at least should be) an educational utopia.” They see different videos, songs, mediums, and instructors of the content in monsters and creatures as well as all of the humans that live on Sesame Street, so this sets up an artificial foundation for what to expect when heading into mainstream school.
I truly believe that we are heading in the right direction within the realm of education, especially with all of the technological advancements that have been made over the years. With greater access to laptops and the internet and all of the great tools that we are able to utilize to assist us in delivering and executing an education that harbours curiosity and engagement among students.

In the article, The importance of audio visual technology in education, it is stated that “Children learn differently and audio visual equipment gives teachers the chance to stimulate each child’s learning process with a combination of pictures, sounds and attention grabbing media.” With the ability to utilize different multimedia we could possibly be seeing the growth of student interest in school-related learning and experiences within our classrooms. This coincides with the fact that students are able to bring their own devices to school as resources that they are able to tap into at any time!

In the article The pros of AV, Rebecca Paddick concludes with “Any investment made by an educational facility is ultimately an investment in its students, and a fully-integrated AV system can be a huge benefit, affording seamless interaction and an engaging, varied work environment, tailored to the requirements of the end user, improving the learning experience for both student and teacher.” Learning can only happen when engagement is peaking and technology draws in increasing interest from students throughout schools. 

I know that this might be a stretch for some schools throughout our province as we do not all come from the same socio-economic climate, but I think all schools are well on their way to being able to utilize technology in meaningful ways within their classrooms. The issue becomes funding for these tools and it is just not there, quite possibly a rant for another blog… 

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FD 35 YRS, Coding 1st Time!

I have never done coding in this lifetime, until a week ago in EC&I 833. When we were introduced to the Logo program I couldn’t understand why there was a little green turtle right in the middle of the web page. As we were introduced we were also given an online work booklet that gave us an introduction to the world of coding. Instruction on how to move the turtle to make different shapes and designs, I was immediately addicted!

This program taught basic commands and teaches one to use their mind in a mathematical way that we don’t always get to. I found it challenged me to think about the design I was trying to emulate and figure out the different angles and lengths of lines that were needed to be successful. After figuring out how to successfully create stars, squares, 20 step staircases and other such designs, I was challenged to try to shorten codes and see if it would work with a “repeat” command. Each step became more complicated, but as time went by it continued enhancing my coding literacy. 

Exercise after exercise created more challenging conundrums that I was fiercely focused on solving. I was so enamoured with coding and trying to master each exercise I lost complete track of time wanting to spend about fifteen-minute stints on the workbook but when I looked at the clock a full hour had gone by.

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via GIPHY

This would be a great tool for math classrooms for middle years through high school. Not only are you trying to construct shapes but you are utilizing line length, direction, and angles. In an age of connectivism and a need for computer literacy, this would be a great step in obtaining a deeper understanding in regards to computer programming. There are also coding programs that are available that Sage talks about near the end of her blog for kids.

If there was ever an updated curriculum for math it should have a unit on coding. Students would absolutely love having this type of programming in school, I think it would harbour more curiosity, teamwork and problem solving within a classroom community…not to mention a greater technological literacy. This also ties into Seymour Papert’s theory of constructivism having students using their mind to help them construct different models and creating them in a program like Logo. One of my EC&I classmates made another great point in regards to including the Logo program as an educational tool stating:    

Logo in and of itself is also a way in which students can understand and, through logic, reason the movements of the turtle based on their own understanding of their body’s movement.” – Michael Graham

As teachers, we are always looking for different ways to engage our classroom populations and when it comes to math this would bring a new element of engagement, curiosity and excitement to student populations. In order to be able to properly utilize these programs that would be beneficial in schools, education needs greater funding.  

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My Very Own Education Theorism!

When it comes to theories of knowledge and learning, I have never really thought about which really fits my teaching philosophy or classroom practice. It is an interesting and thought provoking reflection as it makes  think about the way in which I was taught as a student and how I teach as a professional. Do I fall under the umbrella of behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, or connectivism? What “ism” is my teaching style?….sounds like a great title for a Dr. Seuss book!

As an educator, I see value in a number of different aspects of each of these theories. My teaching philosophy has some qualities of each of these four theories, which would make my theory of learning a bit of a mutt, I suppose. Each theory has a quality that speaks to the diverse population of learners that are in our education system. To say that one is better than the other for me would be hypocritical as I utilize pieces of each theory in my practice at some point throughout the year.

As a teacher if a student has something to say in class I have them raise their hands and If we are moving throughout the school we walk in a line. These are two examples of how behaviourism is present in my class and they are skills students need in this lifetime…haven’t you had to wait in line at the bank, grocery store, sporting event, heck, even in a traffic jam (although you are in a vehicle)? Also, if students didn’t raise their hands wouldn’t we have the same couple kids answering and contributing before others had the chance to think about the content being taught? Another way to look at this is through the eyes of the curriculum as well, we are working towards having students meet outcomes, so we are constantly reviewing information and checking learning through tests and quizzes.

We utilize the constructivist theory as well building upon the learning of past years. We help our students make connections to content and build on that starting with simple questions and examples that lead to the more complex and challenging. Interacting with a concept and having a more active role in learning helps some students become more engaged in the material being covered.

Cognitivism is an important theory in our day and age where we are finding that the more hands on our students can be the easier the concept is to grasp for a number of those learners. Last year my class created their own hydraulic controlled Styrofoam board arms. In this project a number of the students that were normally disengaged were my overachievers and experts when it came to helping others overcome difficult steps in the construction and understanding, all the while actively learning about hydraulics. Students truly love experiential learning and this is why programs such as Campus Regina Public are so successful and attractive to learners.

Connectivism is becoming more and more relevant in our digital age and with it we have to teach positive digital citizenship and safety. But knowledge has never been so easy to obtain! With the vast array of sources and opinions students are able to formulate their opinions and research in greater ways. I for one love connectivism and utilize this theory quite a bit more than the aforementioned theories.    

Over my short seven year career I have seen many teachers tap into connectivism within their teaching practices, including my own. It is important not to completely ignore the other theories that preceded it! There are some great aspects to each and as educators we need to evolve and morph different aspects of these theories into our own super theory that fits the mode of our philosophy. Student needs play a large part in deciding what theory is best utilized within our walls and with the incredibly diverse range of students that are in our classrooms, one theory is not always going to work for all of their needs. This is where I think having a great mixture of each theory is important, at the end of the day it’s not what meets my needs as a teacher that matters, it’s what meets the needs of the population of students within my classroom community.

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The Abyss of Education Technology

Technology is a tricky term that I tend to correlate directly with something that has to be turned on, plugged in or fully charged. This, however, is not the case and most of the things around us are different types of technology. Take a pencil, for instance, a piece of technology that may have been one of the first tools that we learned how to use early on in our educational journey’s. With this technology we learned a new skill that was important in a day when e-mail scarcely existed, we could write a letter to family and friends, communicate through notes at home letting our parents know where we were, we could even document our daily soap opera in a diary with this great new skill with a piece of technology that would be very important to our education and our future.

The pencil is just one of many different pieces of technology that were important parts of my educational experience, and it is still used to this day. We had things like chalkboards, big clunky computers that we got to play Number Munchers and Oregon Trail on, televisions that were strapped down onto a large trolly (also a piece of technology utilized today.) among many other examples. One of my favorites was when teachers used overhead projectors, I hated seeing them because that meant my left arm was going to ache from taking way to many notes while a teacher lectured and I still had to retain that information whilst writing diligently in my notebook all the while remembering everything so they would not have to repeat themselves. The aspect I loved about these dinosaurs of the classroom was that no matter how many times educators used them they always struggled to place the sheet of notes properly, they ended up upside down or backwards. This is a piece of technology I was happy I did not get the opportunity to utilize because I dreaded the misplacement of the notes!

Obviously there have been many new different tools that we as educators are able to take advantage of to help to amplify the learning that happens within our buildings. Smart Boards, different styles of desks, fidgets, and computer programs that help prepare students for the ever increasing tech savvy world that we are living in.

Did I forget to mention iPhones, the same technology that seems to have a new model hitting the shelves near you every two to three weeks? This is quite possibly the greatest technological advancement for education that we have seen to date. Students are continually experts on this technology and are learning how to utilize these devices that they can personalize to their liking with different apps that are used for social media and education. The trick is helping them become responsible users of said devices. As facilitators of learning it is our responsibility to help students become aware of the dangers involved with social media apps and positive self image when using these apps.

There have been many great applications that have been created to harbor learning with a smart device. Apps such as Pearson e-text, where students can access their textbooks without having to lug one home with them every night. YouTube where there are a number of educational “do it yourself” videos, lectures, and Ted Talks among other educational content. Kahoot has become a fun way to assess student learning within the class. Remind as a communication tool for students, parents and teachers. Google docs, classroom and  drive for creating works and enhancing computer literacy.

I know that I am just scratching the surface when it comes to educational technology that is out there, and I am by no means an expert, but the technology that we can utilize within education today is incredible.

This video touches on some of the great ways technology is being used in classrooms.

All of these different advancements are amazing for the future generations of students but we have a responsibility to help them utilize these advancements to the best of their abilities and to use them for a purpose in our classrooms. Without that type of care and planning educators are just using these great tools without a purpose.

These advancements in education technology are exciting, but at the same time scary…hologram teachers…whatever happened to job security!!  

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Final Summary of Learning

It feels as though we just started this class yesterday, time flies! EC&I 831 has opened my eyes to the vast amount of different ways we can utilize social media and how our students utilize it. I have learned about different social movements that I did not know about previous to taking this class and it has made me become hyper-aware about the implications that come with having an online identity and presence.

This class has given me the opportunity to positively engage in an online community with my classmates that I hope to continue utilizing throughout my career. Blogging is something I was a bit skeptical about but have come to really enjoy. I am excited that I now have a tool belt filled with tech tools that I can now add to and use through out the duration of my teaching career.

I have also had a great time collaborating with classmate Lance Pollard on our learning project in which we learned how to create meaningful dialogue with each other and other educators. Expanding our knowledge base about how technology can be utilized in the classroom and school was a lot of fun to chat about and reflect on.

Learning how to properly use different recording tools such as Garage Band and iMovie and successfully posting them utilizing YouTube and SoundCloud has been incredibly rewarding.

Below is the summary of learning that I did with Lance Pollard, enjoy!

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Irritated and Frustrated

Last week Lance and I recorded a vlog that you were, unfortunately, unable to see…

We recorded our latest episode on a newer Mac, the episode was 27 mins long and we were both very happy with the outcome. When it cam time to save the file it was going to take 8 hours to process it….A bit of a pain but I kept the computer on that night so it could complete the download. Morning came and there was 4 hours remaining and it didnt look like anything was happening. The computer crashed…it is currently being looked at….and I am hoping to god that our footage is still on it.

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Photo Credit: gshaun12

This is the first really big set back that Lance and I have experienced with our project. It is incredibly disheartening though because we put a lot of time and effort into planning and shooting the episode.

What did we talk about in the “Lost episode”?

We started off talking about what the process of blogging has been like throughout this class, struggles finding an audience, posting of childrens photos by parents on the web, and there was also a stellar Trump impression done by yours truly!

When blogging, what we found the most challenging was finding a unique voice. Because we are all reading and writing about the same 4-5 article each week we found that sometimes it was hard to come up with a new voice that had not already been heard. My solution was that I read the articles and watched the videos on Wednesday and try to have my reflective blogs posted by Thursday. With this plan, that did work for me, in place I was given a fair more amount of time to research relating articles and work with Lance on our learning project.

This was my recipe for success until the technology difficulties. So I had to step away from the project for a small time and try to figure out a solution to this speed bump.

The computer with the footage, hopefully, still on it is in a computer shop being fixed. Once we get it back I am hoping that the episode is still on it and can be posted.

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Photo Credit: braunkarljr2002

Until that happens Lance and I are currently planning our Summary of Learning which will be recorded on his, reliable, Mac.

Cross your fingers and wish us some better luck!!

 

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Sharing the Slack

Before doing any research on the topic I had no idea what the term slacktivism was.

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Photo Credit: colourourcity

As I read the different articles that helped me define what slacktivism was I definitely understand what it means now. I have to admit I am not a fan of the name though. When someone is behind a screen liking, sharing and commenting on different forms of activism online they become a slacktivist.

“Slacking off” is a term that is used when someone was not pulling their weight or doing anything, for that matter. When someone goes onto a social media page and “shares” or “likes” a post it becomes visible to all of their friends who in turn may do the same…or not. What this does is created a train of awareness on the internet. Sharing happens to bring awareness to a broader audience who may not be aware of a cause. For instance the ice bucket challenge for ALS was a huge source of slacktivism that seemed to bring in an enormous amount of money from donation. There did not seem to be any amount of slacking off when it came to participants posting and sharing their videos then donating to the cause.

I know your thinking what about the others that did not donate but shared what did they do?

They helped to raise awareness in a completely different but effective way. Not everyone is from a socioeconomic background that is conducive to donating money to different causes, but they are able to share and like the cause helping to spread the “good word”.

People utilizing the share option on Facebook gets the good majority of our community’s attention. The word spreads faster on social media than on nightly news, newspaper and the radio because people are on it frequently.

I own a lot of 10 Tree clothing, with each purchase 10 trees are planted. I purchased and wore a yellow Livestrong bracelet and wore it until it broke off.  I did the Ice Bucket Challenge. I shared the photo and news story of a missing child on Facebook. I changed my profile picture to have the tint of the flag of France when bombing went on. Do these things make me a Slacktivist?

I certainly do not feel as though I am slacking off when I am doing these things…perhaps there is a better name for people who are raising awareness in unique ways than constantly being on the frontlines…Support is a great thing!

Supportivism might be a better fit! What do you think??

 

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