Learn with me about Google Cardboard!

Since starting my digital journey in ECMP355 I have had access to so many current education and technology trends. Some days it feels like I am being overstimulated with information. However, I have learned so much more than I could have imagined in the last couple of weeks! 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One thing that really amazed me was something called Google Cardboard. It is a new design and app put out by google which allows you to enter virtual realities! I had no idea this was possible until I saw it pop-up in my twitter feed. I decided to do some more research and so I started to follow their blog as well.

Some of the things I have learned and also some ways that I believe this new innovation would be useful in the classroom are:

  1. You can build your own device from scratch (a great hands on experience for students)!
  2. It has been used to help save lives!
  3. Teachers can sign up for free virtual field trips to take their students on!
  4. Students can learn to create their own videos to be viewed as virtual tours (either with GoPro’s or with video editing).
  5. It can provide students with other experiences that you never thought possible!

This app is completely free! So why not explore it alongside your students!

Feebly…why use it?

So for this weeks blog post I decided to try and create a vlog (Click this link so learn how to vlog better). I also wanted to practice using the screencastify app some more. Once again the app was very easy to use and it also uploaded to youtube quickly.

My decision to create a vlog was also based on the outline for this weeks blog assignment. After looking at the requirements I thought it would be easier to use a screencast video to show my feebly account and to explain the different categories. I am a visual learner and so I have found screencast to be a good way to show my learning.

Intro to ME!!!

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I just sat down to do my first blog post with a DELICIOUS piece of cheesecake that I intend to eat as I try to explain who I am, or at least who I think I am to all you readers (hopefully there will be some readers haha).

If you get to know me a bit you will learn that I love metaphors and I often can summarize my thoughts in metaphors if I think long enough about something. Sooooo after thinking long and hard about tonight’s blog post, I have decided to try and introduce myself using a cheesecake metaphor….here goes nothing.

The CRUST a.k.a. my WORLDVIEW: the crust of a cheesecake is the base of the cheesecake, it is the starting point to which all the other good parts are built on top of (if you know where I’m headed with this then good job haha…my metaphor isn’t rocket science). Similarly my worldview is the bases for who I am and it shapes what experiences I choose to have or at least it shapes which experiences I enjoy and would like to do again. Below are some of the thoughts I currently hold on the world around me:

  1. The world is a very broken place where many people live through harsh realities that I cannot even imagine, never mind try to survive in.
  2. Everybody deserves an equal shot at life; however, we all know that this is more a dream than even close to a reality.
  3. As an educator it is my job to treat each child as equal but also as unique…a very hard thing to do, but a very important value to strive for.
  4. I also believe that our current world is a very beautiful place; a place where people can feel loved, go on adventures, and help change lives.

The CREAMY GOODNESS STUFF a.k.a. my EXPERIENCES: now you know a bit of what my crust is made up of. So now it’s time to move on to my life experiences…or the creamy part of the cheesecake (in my opinion this is the best part of the cheesecake). Just like the the creamy part of the cake is my favourite, the memories and experiences I have had in my life are some of the best things about life. Just the other day I was sitting watching some home videos with my siblings, and I was shocked to be reminded of what a bossy child I was! Here are some of my most memorable experiences as a child and adolescent:

  1. Volunteering: My parents have been running an inner-city kids club since I was a baby. I attended when I was a child and when I was too old to attend I began volunteering there and haven’t stopped since. This involvement was one of the sole things that pushed me to become a teacher.
  2. Big Family: I come from a very large, diverse, family. Lots of siblings and lots of wild family memories. Family is very important to me, growing up I use to think there was an ‘ideal’ family, the ones you always see on T.V.; however, I came to accept mine for the special way that it was. This in turn has helped me to not hold my students families to such a high standard.
  3. Sports: Sports has always been something most of my siblings enjoyed and so I also found that I enjoyed sports. Working with others and being a leader on the court developed skills for me that I may never have fostered otherwise.
  4. Nature: Growing up me and my siblings were constantly playing outdoors. My parents would actively plan our trips and activities around being outside. This allowed me to find ways to appreciate nature and enjoy it during all the seasons. It’s sad to see so many children resent being outside so I am hoping to be able to change my students outlook on spending time outside.

AND the TOPPING a.k.a. my INTERESTS: well now that you’ve read about some of my world views and experiences it should be fairly easy to identify some of the things I may be interested in. My interests are represented by the toppings on the cake. People can usually identify your interests a lot more easily than maybe your experiences or world views (the same way people look at a cheesecake and are normally drawn in my the topping, the part they see first). I feel that a lot of times people see your interests and then assume your experiences and world views based on that. However, I find it kind of interesting to have gone the other way around with this blog post by explaining my world views and experiences first.

I am interested in:

  1. Baking: hence the cheesecake metaphor haha.
  2. Sports: I LOVE volleyball, badminton, basketball, running, skiing, and recently ice hockey.
  3. Kids Club: I LOVE spending time with the children at the Kids Club.
  4. Music: I used to play the piano but I have also chosen to learn to play guitar during this semester.
  5. Outdoors: I LOVE going for hikes, playing outside, and exploring new places.
  6. Movies: I am one of the many Netflix addicts (just finished Making A Murderer….watch it if you haven’t already).
  7. Crafts: I enjoying creating things and working on projects.

Well I hope you have enjoyed learning about me via a piece of cheesecake! Incase you are wondering…yes, the cheesecake was delicious! It was also homemade so I have the recipe if you’d like!

One last thing I was asked to comment on was my views on technology. I honestly tried so hard to think of a way to incorporate it into my lovely metaphor but sadly I could not.

I have used technology for quite awhile, more-so once I started high school and then it progressed from there. I have found it to have been very helpful and saved a lot of time. it also connects me to the world and those around me in new and exciting ways! I also find it to be a great way to engage students as well as to reach some students who need alternative ways of learning. I view it as a tool; one that needs to be used responsibly. People can argue the pros and cons of it for years but I think the bottom line is that if you use it with the intent of enhancing students learning and success than you can’t go wrong!

Until next time…

Sarah

 

 

Part 3: Personal Learning Network

       Over this semester I have had the opportunity to speak my mind and have my thoughts and questions heard by my peers, professors, and others in the world. Not until recently was this made possible. Outsiders may question how I accomplished this; was it through public speaking or open conversations? However, I didn’t have to do either of these things in order to share my thoughts and questions that I came up in ECS 210. In ECS 210 I was introduced to new tools that allowed me speak my mind without ever opening my mouth. At first I was skeptical and honestly scared of using these new tools. However, I have realized that it was like anything else that is new; you’re hesitant to try it out because you’re unsure how to fully use these tools and to step out of your comfort zone. It’s human nature to take it slow before fully diving in and using something to its full potential. This is what I experienced when I was introduced to blogs and Twitter. I left class feeling very overwhelmed and scared to put my thoughts out their for the public eye as well as worrying that I wouldn’t know how to use this type of technology.

            Now when I look back and reflect on those first few feelings that I felt I realize that I shouldn’t feel bad for being against these new forms of technology. I also now realize that when I introduce technology into my classroom I need to be aware of my students and that they probably will experience similar feelings. Being aware of this I feel I am already more prepared to implement technology into my classroom. My first reaction to technology in the classroom was negative. I now realize that that was an ignorant view that I held. I hadn’t yet been educated on the benefits as well as the importance of technology in the classroom. I can honestly say that I now feel more prepared to incorporate technology in my future classroom. I shared a few posts that talked about technology as well as comments on other people’s posts about technology in the classroom. Other peoples views helped to shape my own view that, as I have said, has began to form due to this class.

            As I stated in my introduction, it was hard for me to write opinionated blogs in the beginning because I was afraid of how others would react. However, I soon realized that I shouldn’t be afraid to post my opinions because others were doing that exact same thing and therefore I was not alone in this new journey I had embarked upon. I found that by reading other peoples blog postings I was encouraged to make my posts more personal. Blogging started to become a weekly habit and I found myself blogging at relatively the same time every week. It became easier and easier to reflect on lectures as well as my own learning. One thing I did notice was that it was harder to write posts that were geared to answer prompting questions. I much more preferred being able to look at the topic as a whole and then reflect on the things that stuck out and were meaningful to me. I did this a few times and found that I got a lot more comments that engaged me and helped to further my thinking on a particular topic.

            I also found that the more I blogged the more I began to see the usefulness of blogging. It allowed me to speak out about concerns I had as well as have others, who also agreed with my opinion or disagreed with them, comment and share their thoughts. I did a few blog postings that were not assigned on the weekly plans and I found that I got the most comments on these postings. When this happened I was really encouraged to continue blogging even once I have completed this course.

            Twitter was another technological way to communicate with people beside me, in my class, or all around the world. I had had Twitter for a while but I had never tweeted before and my profile picture was an ‘egg’ when I began ECS 210. However, as the semester rolled along I found myself tweeting more and more. I like to read articles online and I often wished I had a way to share them with others. Twitter was one thing that allowed me to share useful articles and information that I was reading on my own time. Also through the use of hash tags I was able to categorize my post so that certain people or groups of people saw them. By digitally categorizing my posts I was able to share the things that I found important with professionals as well as colleagues and fellow peers. Tweeting was yet another way to get myself out into the world as well as stir up conversations about major issues.

            Although I used twitter outside of school I found it to be especially useful during class. I was able to tweet comments, questions, or quotes that stood out to me and were meaningful. Some questions and thoughts prompted discussions among my peers as well as with my professors. I found it really neat to be able to listen to the lecturer and be able to also have a conversation with a peer and teacher at the same time. Being able to do this definitely made the lecture more meaningful and made me think more in depth about what I was learning. Through this I was able to create a way to revisit my thoughts during the lecture and create a starting point to a conversation with others after the lecture.

            Throughout this journey in my ECS 210 class I cannot deny that my way of communicating with others has changed for the better. I can now contact professionals and peers in many different ways. Sharing my work, finding resources, and gaining advice is just a few clicks of my fingers away. I have also seen how these forms of technology can be used for professional development. As I stated in the introduction, I strongly disliked being forced to blog and tweet; however, I can now honestly say that I am very grateful for being pushed to explore technology in a professional way. If I hadn’t been pushed then I may have never have tried blogging or tweeting and I would have missed out on building a personal learning network that I know realize I will be using in my future career as well as during the completion of my degree.

Standardized Testing

“Standardized tests measure what matters least”, “There are many ways to raise test scores without EVER improving education”, “The quality of education in Saskatchewan will decline and most people won’t even know it because they will see higher numbers” on test outcomes. -Alfie Kohn

These are the quotes that really stood out to me from the youtube video. During our lecture on Monday I was shocked by some of the horror stories that our professor shared with us about standardized testing. I had heard about this topic briefly before but I had never realized it was still a topic of discussion. The idea of having such rigours tests for students in elementary school grades actually scares me. As a future educator I am super excited to incorporate play and exploration into my classroom, but when I hear about standardized testing I fear that it may become really difficult to incorporate certain aspects of play and exploration. I never want to be come the ‘drill Sargent’ type of teacher that Alfie Kohn talks about. I feel that a classroom is so much more than just a place to learn the core subjects. However, if standardized testing is pushed through I feel like it may be difficult to have time to create a classroom that reflects a holistic learning environment. After hearing the lecture I feel like the best way to stop the push towards standardized testing is to properly educate parents and educators on the pros and cons of standardized testing. If we live in a democracy then we should be allowed to have a say in whether or not standardized testing is pushed through; the people who are directly affected should be the ones with the most say.

Poverty in the Classroom?

Today in class we had the opportunity to listen to an amazing speaker tell her life story. She communicated clearly and with so much passion. Personally I love listening to speakers who are speaking from experience and not just facts, it makes the topic so much more real and something I will never forget. I agree that poverty is very real in our city today. I have lived in the Inner-city my entire life and my parents have worked with Inner-city children as long as I have been alive. I have heard and witnessed many traumatic events in the lives of the children around me. I agree with Bonnie when she said that the system does seem to be against them and not for them. It is because of this reality that I believe it is important to create a safe space for children in the classroom. A place where they aren’t afraid to share information about their lives (Like if they are hungry) or simply just a place where they can escape from some of the harsh realities in their young lives. However, I did have one question that kept coming back to me throughout Bonnie’s presentation: How does a teacher approach a situation where a child comes from a home where parents are receiving child tax and welfare but as soon as they get their cheque they spend the money on alcohol, they buy their children things like iPods, or they just hand over 40$ to 8 year olds that is then spent at 711 in one day leaving no money for the rest of the month? I have seen this happen many times and it is really really sad, but I also know that most of these parents aren’t bad parents and so the children shouldn’t be removed from the home. I know this is a tough question but based on what i’ve seen i believe that it is an important one to think about before we, future teachers, come across a situation like this.

Stories From the North; Incorporating Inuit values into the Sk Curriculum

There are many values in the Inuit way of life that I thought could be easily adapted in order to be incorporated into any type of classroom. The beliefs inside the classroom were strength based and were easily understood by all age ranges. Based on the grade level the community beliefs could be adapted as well as differently interpreted. This allows for a constant reinforcement of common values that are then shared by students of all ages as well as community members. When I heard the 38 beliefs I immediately decided that someday I would use these values in my own classroom. Some ideas that Julie gave such as a welcome quilt, re-representation of the beliefs, and picture writing excited me to try these different things with my future students. All the activities and values focused on a key component of empathy and creating a safe and hopeful environment for all children. I too believe that this is important and is the foundation for a positive and successful learning experience.