This term I decided to start blogging with my Social 9 class for my digital learning project. I have had several posts throughout the term about my trials, tribulations, and successes with the project:
I would also like to show off my classroom blog. My posts are pretty boring as they mostly constitute the assignments for the class but some of my students did a really good job and really embraced the process.
I have had an amazing time with this project and intend to continue its use. I feel that, at times, I was really pushing my students to work on the blog in an inorganic way so that I could talk about what we were doing in class for this project. I look forward to being a little less pushy moving forward, using it more as an option for how to submit assignments as opposed to a “YOU MUST DO THIS” as I had a few students who really did not enjoy the process.
I made blogging with this class a part of my Professional Goals I submitted to my division so that I am encouraged (and feel obligated) to continue the project throughout the year. I can’t wait to see where this takes me as I have wanted to start blogging with a class for a long time but could never actually get to the point where it was set up and ready to go.
In EC&I 831, Social Media and Open Education, we were asked to embark on a major learning project that would entail acquiring new skills. We were encouraged to find online resources, as well as personal and in print, to help us along the way. I had thought of many different skills I could learn including sewing, yoga, and meditation. However, there was another important skill that I needed to develop and hone. I needed to organize my home with the view to living a more purposeful and mindful life in a very materialistic culture. My reading on the subject of disorganization and overabundance of stuff confirmed my suspicion that it can affect decision making, increase stress, and negatively impact the environment.
As I explain in my first post, I set out to create sustainable organizational systems and processes to create an efficient and healthy household while involving my toddler and preschooler and doing so with the least environmental impact.
In my second post, I share how overwhelmed I was with the plethora of resources online, and in print, to help a person become more organized. After some study, I was able to take away what I found to be most helpful in my journey. Including the questions to help decide what to keep, toss, donate, or sell.
Here are my top five takeaways I have learned throughout my journey:
Takeaway #1: Get connected!
My success this semester in getting more organized was connecting with like-minded Youtubers to keep me motivated and accountable. I loved Cassandra from Clutterbug and Kathryn from Do it on a Dime. What was especially helpful was Clutterbug’s Facebook page specifically for her followers to swap advice by posting photos of their own hot messes or reorganized spaces. This group was closed, which means posts are not shared on a member’s main social media feed. I appreciated this separation.
I quickly learned that before you can become organized, you must let go of the things in your home that no longer serve a purpose. Items that no longer serve you will only take up valuable real estate. I followed Clutterbug’s 30-day declutter challenge on her Facebook page in October as described in my third post. It was only 15 minutes per day in various areas of my home. The best part of following along was posting photos of my progress. Also, I was able to get some great tips on how I could upcycle or repurpose some of my items. When decluttering a space, I found categorizing the items into bins labeled keep, donate, toss, sell and relocate. It is amazing how many items you will find in your bedroom closet that belong in the kitchen. Especially if you have kids who like to wander off with things.
At this point, I also started working on my do it yourself (DIY) skills by installing a garbage can under my kitchen sink. Youtube was helpful in navigating the features of my cordless drill. The old school illustrated instructions that came with the garbage can were very helpful in this DIY project. Although the instructions said it would only take 15 minutes, I believe it took me over an hour!
Takeaway #3: Recruit household members in organizing efforts
When I was organizing my clothes closet I didn’t expect my husband to tackle his clothes as well, but he was bitten by the decluttering bug. He was even motivated to reorganize his office space!
My little ones were excited when I moved their dishes to a cupboard they can reach and therefore help to set the table or put away when clean. In my fourth post, I learned the value of involving my little ones in helping unload the dishwasher. My son was able to work on his problem-solving and fine motor skills while trying to get the utensils out of the top rack. Recognizing the need to encourage my children to become more self-sufficient I also implemented a system in our front entryway they could use to store their outerwear.
In my fifth post, I take you on a tour of how I organized this space, including hanging a shelf for the first time. The tutorial I viewed on Youtube was helpful – to a point. I learned that context matters. This is also where I discovered that math is an integral part of placing a shelf on a wall correctly.
Takeaway #4: Designate a space for everything
This has been my biggest challenge in getting organized. With four people living in my household there seems to be many things that do not have a designated space – otherwise known as homeless! These items left in the open, or placed haphazardly, can suddenly sprout legs, or with the help of your little ones, even your furbabies, be transported to obscure places.
I realized early in my learning journey that items needed a designated space to not only prevent them from walking off but to make sure that they could be found easily. It was in my sixth post I share how disorganized my master bedroom closet had become. It was time to tackle it! In this space, I installed an ironing board hanger, created designated bins, and paired down my wardrobe. I found it overwhelming at first, but I had an opportunity to reflect on our culture of thinness and the impact on a mother’s body image. I also realized it takes courage to be vulnerable and share our imperfect lives on social media, but at the end of the day, this vulnerability leads to a connection with others.
I video documented my learning adventure demonstrating my ability to install the install the ironing board hanger. It wasn’t as easy as I first thought! I also give a video tour of my reorganized closet here.
Tip #5: Labels, Labels, Labels
Since my new mantra is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I have found the suggestion of Clutterbug to label bins or baskets a key element in getting and staying organized. Before labels, a bin could house anything I wanted….. and anything anyone else wanted as well. This created chaos and the bins just contained random stuff. With a label, it is can only house one thing….. whatever the bin says is in it!
In my eighth post, I share how I reorganized my daughter’s closet. I allocated labeled bins for her clothes, toys, and accessories and placed them on the Rubbermaid FastTrack system I installed. I am becoming more and more comfortable sharing my projects on social media as I demonstrate in the closet video tour here:
With the development of my DIY skills, I am also starting to become more comfortable with the math involved to install shelves. However, I am still not the best at finding studs, which I thought would be the easiest part. Balancing the tools, the vertical standards, and a level is very tricky when doing a DIY project like this alone. Interestingly, putting the brackets in the verticals was also tricky!
These are the top five takeaways that have assisted me in becoming more organized. Decluttering really set me on my path to efficiently organize what was left. The major areas that I tackled this semester were the kitchen, entryway, my and my daughter’s closets. These areas are so easy to keep organized now!
Thoughts Regarding Online Learning Resources
I have come to appreciate the value of learning online even more as a result of this learning project. So many tutorials on Youtube and mommy bloggers were instrumental in my learning journey. However, the topics we spoke about in class helped me to take a critical view of the sources I used. In my seventh post, I contemplated whether the home organization tips and tricks offered by the mommy bloggers I followed was less valuable if their messages were sponsored by corporations. I concluded that being aware of this possibility was enough to allow me to be a critical consumer of the advice given.
In my fifth post, I also talked about the dark side of sharing on social media. During Clutterbug’s declutter challenge she encouraged us to post on her Facebook page before and after photos of what we accomplished. Unfortunately, not all of her followers were encouraging. In fact, I witnessed the negative effects of trolls. One post, in particular, was met by a very negative comment. My dismay of this shadow cast on our community was quickly lifted when 300+ positive comments were posted to counteract the negative one.
Although my official major learning project has come to end, my learning journey has not. With my newfound DIY and organizational skills, I am ready to tackle the other closets in my house and start labeling more bins!
Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support! Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your break.
Ok, possibly no one really cares where about I am in my grad studies journey, but hopefully some of what I share here will leave others with wonderings or thinking how they can use some of the information and insight I have and combine it with their own to end up with something infinitely better than either of us would have come up with on our own.
I actually love this quote, and the picture was awesome, as it aligns with my major learning project of learning how to crochet. Of course I just googled the image, and it ended up taking me to a blog from a student who is working on an open scholarship course from the Virginia Commonwealth University, which I thought was pretty coincidental.
Throughout the class, we have looked at many interesting videos, and written numerous posts about the importance of sharing. We have explored our privileged positions being educators, and why it’s so important for us to have a voice for those who may not through social media. We have investigated learning through open texts, and through free online sources, such as videos posted to YouTube, and other’s blogs.
For me, the most important learning of the course, is the power of Twitter for connecting to educators around the globe. I started using Twitter when I took EC&I 834 in the spring semester. I liked it, but didn’t use it to its full potential, (if I’m honest, I still don’t- but I’m getting better). The 834 course was more about creating. It’s interesting to me how when we change the focus and view similar material through different lenses, how different our learnings.
I spent the bulk of 834 learning new apps and learning how to create video/audio, etc, and make my classroom more interactive. I didn’t clue in at all about the importance of sharing the resources that I created online, though I shared them with the class, and with other teachers in my building. I loved learning how to use Google Classroom, at that point it wasn’t available in our division, but I started a couple other teachers on Edmodo. My priority was more about keeping kids safe while at the same time exposing them to wider networks of learning. I focused on student engagement, and not a lot on me sharing. I learned for the purpose of engaging students.
With ECI 831, the focus is on sharing. I wasn’t concerned so much about learning how to use new apps to teach students, but rather with teaching myself some of the ways that I can learn online, and how to share my thoughts and ideas. This brought me back to Twitter, and I started using it differently than I did last class. My focus has turned from engaging my class, to engaging myself. Thinking bigger than my own class, and to the ways that technology is changing the world, not just my classroom. I have been able to connect with some amazing educators, and found many professional resources, (although I still don’t share them online as much as I do with my colleagues at work.)
I have not had as much time to focus on learning additional apps or a new LMS as I did last semester. I was however able to focus much time on learning what was important to me right now- which is leadership and school culture. I have been able to find so many experts to follow in Canada and the US. It is fascinating to read about the innovative things that happening in education. With local PD, I am stuck to the people and resources provided by my division, and although they are great, they cannot offer near the depth that I have found through Twitter. In addition, I am able to find and spend more time on the areas that I currently need to focus on as a new administrator, and the areas that I think are most important: school culture and student engagement.
For my summary of learning, I chose not to spend my time on a new app or other online creation tool. As I mentioned in my major project, a major issue I have with learning online is that everything is so flashy I struggle to maintain focus. I am the kind of student who does well with a lecture. Give me a plain old TedTalk any day over some animated video.
Is my summary flashy and particularly engaging? No, and for me as a learner- that is just fine. In addition, creating my summary of learning in this format is also about not spending a bunch of time on the flash. I spent a great deal of time on my ideas. In reality, for me to share as an educator, if it takes me forever, I won’t do it. I flipped back and forth on that many times. On the one hand, in this scenario- I am the learner, I should be spending considerable time on creativity showing my ideas. On the other hand, should the creative side of showing my ideas overshadow the actual ideas? In the end, I decided that it was my learning, so it should be showcased in the way that I learn best, and so that is what I did.
Does it summarize what I learned this class? I would say it does to a great degree.
Am I where I want to be when it comes to technology and technology integration? No for sure not.
But thankfully for all the millions of people sharing ideas through Twitter, and the like, I can find resources with just a click of a button. When I have the time, I can create flashy video and animations, if and when I have a classroom and believe that is the best use of my time. For now, I’m happy following leaders that are innovative, and sharing their ideas with my staff, who are in turn, handing much of the creativity over to the students to show their learning.
Allowing students to share in the learning in our classrooms is the destination that I want to get to. Me being familiar with apps and up to date on what is available is only half the journey. It is great that a teacher has the ability to create multimedia educational resources to help students learn, and it’s great that we have access to online resources that are free.
To me, the most important thing is that we recognize as teachers, that our students have access to the exact same information- the job for us as educators is to help our students learn how to access it, and use it, and in turn share their learning with broader audiences. We need to stop the idea that when we hand in an assignment our learning is done, when in fact, the product or idea we shared, is actually the start of our learning.
This semester we were to pick something for our digital learning project. I chose to focus on learning the microcontroller computer language Arduino. The point of this post is to highlight the things I learned, the tools that I used to learn them, and what I plan to do with this going forward.
In the beginning I already knew a little about Arduino because I had already used other microcontrollers. This meant that I already knew what a PIN was and that there were digital and analog pins, also that they can act as inputs or outputs. I also knew about the fundamentals that are common to all languages like conditional statements and different kinds of loops, like do while loops.
What I did not know was the syntax of this language, the specifics of how different components behaved when connected to the board, etc.
The Learning Goal:
The reason that I had chosen this project in the first place, other than the fact that I would get to play with electronics, was that I wanted to help a student learn how to program a robot for a competition in March. In order to do that I needed to know how to use this kind of hardware and software myself. I knew that learning it would be time intensive so by having it count towards my masters class I knew that I would be able to justify the time it would take. So I decided that I would declare my learning a success if I could by the end of the semester control the motors for the robot with some sort of sensor input. I knew that this would likely be challenging as even with the other microcontroller that I was familiar with I had not been able to do this. Also I knew that one of my previous students had found that to be extremely challenging and he was much better at programming than I was.
The Learning Plan:
I started by mapping out for myself the steps that I would need to be able to do if I was going to be able to make this work. In order to have the motor move I needed to be able to do the following:
Send a simple signal to a PIN
Control the signal sent to a PIN with a button.
Control multiple signals with multiple inputs.
Send a signal to the motor.
Send a signal to the motor controller to control the motor.
The Resources I used:
With this in mind I started to experiment. The major resources that I ended up using online were:
I will not recount each individual component that I learned to program here, or each unique function that I learned. Those are detailed clearly in my project posts. Instead what I will talk about here that I did not always talk about in my post is the pedagogy of learning on your own, online.
A Thought About Online Pedagogy:
In a traditional classroom you have someone who is an expert or at least knowledgeable helping to guide you. If they are any good at their job they are presenting you with challenges and content that is just above your current capability to make you stretch and grow towards it. If they give you something too difficult you become discouraged, too easy and you become passive and disengaged. A good teacher will keep you in that sweet spot and will keep increasing the challenges with your ability, until you are doing things that you never thought possible. Online learning does not have that. You need to challenge yourself enough to maintain your own interest, but you need to also pick something that is not impossible or else you will hit a wall and stop. I found this to be the greatest challenge to online learning, the idea of flying without a net. If I hit a wall there was not going to be anyone to help me, or so I thought.
It turns out that there are plenty of people online who are willing and capable of helping. The forums for the Arduino led me to many discussions that answered questions that I had. When I was hitting a wall with the tinyESC controller reaching out by email to the manufacturer turned out to be a good way to also get help. So the key to online learning is to not rely on only yourself. Find a like minded community and join the forums. Ask the questions and also answer questions for other people. In other words contribute to the community. As you do this at times you will get to play the role of teacher and this will help cement your own understanding. At other times you will be the one who receives instruction. Also post about your progress using appropriate hashtags to Twitter, you never know who will answer your questions.
Well, the project has been a lot of fun. I expect that over the Christmas break that I am likely going to outright build a working prototype to show to my students. I plan on posting that here. I do not expect this category on my blog to die out anytime soon. The Arduino bug has bit me hard and I plan on doing a lot more with this.
Thanks for journeying with me and be sure to stop by in the future.
One last thing:
While typing this up I found an ultrasonic sensor. This is a sensor that allows for you to measure distance using sound. (Kind of like a bat). I quickly hooked it up to the arduino, googled online for a tutorial and within 5 minutes had it up and running. Definitely not something that I would have been able to do at the beginning of the semester. I plan on incorporating this to the robot later. Come back in the next few weeks for a post on how it works. For now here is where I found the tutorial.
Well this is it. It has been a wild ride. When I first started this project, I thought it would be a linear sequence of events. 1) Follow a diet 2) Select a workout regimen 3) Track results. Simple right? As it turns out, this learning project was not quite as straightforward as I originally thought
My earlier blog post focused on learning I had acquired reading a some blogs I found online ( most notably Tim Ferriss). It was this foray into the world of blogging that I learned the tenants of the Slow Carb Diet (SCD). This was a good start because it got me thinking about my diet and caused me to explore options for a resistance training regime.There were two problems with my approach to this project in the early going, 1) My posts were quite focused on what I was doing as opposed to what I was learning and 2) Upon reflection, my goals could have been more specific. More on that later.
My second blog post was my first attempt a “vlogging.” I must admit that there was a steep learning curve here. Unfortunately it had little to do with health and fitness and more to do with how to actually produce a YouTube video. I learned to set up an account and how to record a video on my ancient laptop.
More importantly I learned that the process of blogging (or in this case vlogging) was a very intimidating process for me. It really did take me out of my comfort zone. It was a good learning experience. I’m a fairly introverted person. I learned that in the early going, this tenancy I got the idea to try a video of myself after watching An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube. I really identified with Dr. Wesch’s quote ” It feels like everybody is watching and yet nobody is there.” It was a bit of a surreal knowing that I would be inviting other people into this learning experience with me. An even stranger experience is watching these videos a second time. I’m watching myself reflect on my learning experience, which caused me to re-reflect on that experience. I hope that this makes sense. What I have learned from this experience is that perhaps YouTube could be a powerful tool for engaging in self-reflection.
My next post outlined the initial resistance training program that I began at the gym in my workplace. It didn’t take me long to realize that consulting the internet on resistance training was like drinking water from a fire hose.
I decided to consult a trainer that works in the gym. He met with me and helped me develop a resistance training program that was based on compound lifts involving major muscle groups divided into a upper and lower body split routine. This was valuable because is showed me how to incorporate training into my life. I was able to train in the weight room four days a week on my lunch break. This was not as simple as it sounds as the gym is not located in the same building as my office. What I learned was in order to successfully incorporate this regimen into my work life, I had to manage my time more effectively and become far more organized (for example ensuring I had a change of clothes handy and a few easy lunch choices ready to go).
It also taught me the importance of going to the gym with intention. Knowing that I had a time limit of 45 minutes caused me to focus and get in and out within my time limit. This was a big change because in my 20’s going to the gym was much more of a social experience for me. There was no time for socializing this time around. It was a bit of an adjustment but eventually learned to enjoy the solitude of putting in my ear buds, shutting off my brain and moving heavy things.
This post also marked my first foray with using my fitness pal. At first I found it helpful. It acted as a hub for solid health and fitness information and it caused me to be more mindful about what I was eating. However, there came a point where I realized that I could get too focused on tracking my intake. The lesson I learned here was that technology can be helpful to a point. I actually found I had more success with weight loss when I focused less on tracking and more eating foods that promoted weight loss in a way that worked for me. I hope this makes sense.
My next post served as more of an update than anything. It was marked with some frustration for me because at this time I was not seeing sustained success in terms of weight loss despite having a training plan and diet. As the semester progressed, the demands on my time increased. I needed to alter my approach. The truth was what I was doing wasn’t working.
In the post Every Little Bit Counts, I started to experiment with body weight exercises (push ups to be precise). I learned about the concept of greasing the groove . I didn’t know it at the time but this was going to be a major step forward in helping me to successfully incorporate physical training into my work day in a way that was meaningful and did not place extra demands on my shrinking reserves of time. This protocol allowed me to look at strength as a skill . That is something you get better at by practicing it. Learning this caused a major shift in what I was thinking. It sounds dumb but I started to look at training as a way to practice being strong as opposed to something I was doing to lose weight. This actually ended up being a major shift in how I was viewing the physical training component of this learning project. In retrospect, I hadn’t started to really put it all together. That would come soon enough.
1) Intensity is a key factor in physical activity for weight loss.
2) Interval training is a great way to bump up intensity and shorten workout times
3) ” Intense” is different for everyone.
I was going about this all wrong. Here I was slugging it out in the gym lifting weights at a moderate level of intensity when I could have been cutting my training time down and boosting my ability to burn fat. I learned that I needed to get clear on what I wanted out of this process. I initially started out wanting to lose fat and gain lean mass . That was too much. I was going to have to pick one goal here. I chose to go with losing fat. This was another valuable lesson. Get specific with your goals to help you guide your behavior! It is embarrassing typing that. I’m a nurse, I help client’s come up with goals all the time. Yet here I was doing a weight training program to promote muscle growth and wondering why I wasn’t losing weight! My behavior didn’t match my goal. This was when things started to come together for me.
The Bodyweight Training app was an example of how technology could help me engage in more effective and meaningful training for the purpose of fat loss. It allowed me to develop a personalized interval training program that I could do anywhere with no equipment.
I had mentioned interval training in my earlier posts the cold hard truth is, I obviously wasn’t doing it right. This app changed that. Using it allowed me to increase my intensity and decrease my workout time significantly ( I was training in the gym 45 minutes 4 times a week. This changed to 20 minutes of effective interval training 2 to 3 times a week). This small change got me back on track towards losing weight again.
My post Nutritional Additional helped me to demonstrate a deeper level of learning regarding using the SCD for fat loss, learning how to make cheat days work for me and allowed me to reflect on my experience of using a Facebook support group dedicated to people using the SCD for fat loss. Here is a summary of what I learned :
1. The SCD does offer a variety of whole protein rich foods that can promote fat loss. However, I found the amount of beans and legumes prescribed to be a bit much.
2. Once a week cheat days were not my cup of tea. I learned that I would be better off planning one cheat meal a week. This would allow the benefits of the cheat day in a much more controlled fashion, without the wheels completely falling off.
3. Swapping out starches and simple carbohydrates is an easy way to manage overall carbohydrate intake and increase dietary fiber.
4. Not all social media learning communities are created equal. I gained appreciation for the supportive nature of our Google Plus community as a result of my foray into the world of Facebook groups dedicated to the SCD.
So there you have it. A summary of the learning I underwent as a result of this project. I apologize for the length. It took longer than expected. I have enjoyed this journey. It really came together in the last 5 weeks or so. I went from being stuck at the 214 to 216 mark to 207.6 lbs as of Monday. I wanted to get to 205, but I’ll take this! All the best!
I am so thankful for the immense amounts of knowledge I gained throughout the duration of my time in EC&I 831. I am thrilled to announce that I will be taking EC&I 832 next term so please stay tuned to my blog for new posts in 2018! I can’t wait to continue my online learning!
Before the start of the class I was your “average joe” on social media – I had a personal Facebook page and an instagram that I posted the odd photo or update to, and a classroom Facebook page that I used to convey information to my families about our day, upcoming events, etc. Check out my summary of learning in my learning project category for more information on that Facebook page and to see how I used it throughout the course! I’ve also attached the permission slips I used to facilitate the program if you want to adapt them and try them out! Find them here and here! Aside from that aforementioned life line to my families, I was rarely doing anything of note or purpose on social media. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t even dabble in Twitter and didn’t really understand Snapchat. My world as completely blown when I learned of all the Online Educational Resources that were right at my fingers tips – all I had to do was reach out, online that is, and grab them. This course pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a whole new world of opportunity. I am so thankful to my classmates and Dr. Alec Couros for the support, patience and wealth of information throughout the term. This really made my first Master’s class enjoyable, usable and WELL worth every hour spent on it.
We learned about OER’s, digitial identity and citizienship, PLN’s, social activism and slacktavism. I think throughout the term each of my classmates in their own amazing ways, did wonderful jobs summarizing, explaining and exploring these topics enriching not only my understandings, but those around them too. I would like to take a minute and highlight some of my favourite posts as well as my own to wrap up the term. First, how can I not give a shout out to my friend Jaque for her amazing review of Ted ED. This post was thorough, in 3 separate and equally amazing parts and did such a nice job explaining all of the wonderful parts of Ted ED. I also reviewed Ted ED and found out what an unbelievable OER it is. You can check out my post here. I was so pleasantly surprised when we had the chance to explore these resources because I actually took away a list of sites that I either want to explore myself, or take directly into my room. As I mentioned in my summary of learning, I am so excited to see where my kiddos end up with their secondary, and post secondary education with such a great number of resources being available online for free! I still have questions about what a post secondary degree will mean, if you’ll need one, etc. The kids I teach are in a very unique position – much, much, much different than when I grew up!
Next up, the dreaded digital identity and footprint piece. This part of the course really resonated with me because your digital footprint can absolutely make or break a person as they transition from young adulthood into the professional world. I feel like it’s my obligation as an educator to ensure my kids are being safe and are getting the information they need to be safe and informed online. Before I started my learning project I did a workshop with my grade 2’s on what it even means to be safe online and how important it is to think about what were searching and posting and exploring BEFORE we do it. We made a fun video to help others understand what we learned. Check it out below if you haven’t already.
I have to give a shout out to my classmate Coralee and her post on digital identity. I felt like Coralee asked meaningful questions and posed some great pros and cons. I think there are unbelievable things that can happen if we allow kids to explore and partake in the online world but they need to understand, even at a young age that actions have consequences and they need to be careful and mindful!
The Personal Learning Network’s we had the opportunity to build in this course were amazing! I had no idea that a blog, twitter and using my personal social media in a more professional way could award me with so many learning and development chances. In this section I would love to just say another thank you to everyone who was willing to share so openly throughout the course. It was because of you guys that I was comfortable to do the same – I mean this whether you were sharing educational information and resources or something more personal. I have to shoutout Steffany and Christina for their personal and open posts throughout the class. They are inspirational and I appreciate you guys sharing your more intimate stories of health and the road to happiness. I would also encourage (and beg! ) everyone to follow me on Twitter, I have learned so much from tooling around the site and engaging with fellow friends and educators. Next term, I am hoping to try out some more of the #saskedchat stuff! I still have lots of learning to do so I can fully utilize my PLN but I know the future is bright!
The final piece I would like to quickly chat about is the social justice piece of the course that we touched on with Katia. The concept of “slacktivism” was one that stuck with me. The online world is a busy place and unfortunately, lots of people are like me – just on here surfing around, liking posts but not necessarily acting on the causes that I am sharing about or reading about. I like to try my hardest to see the good in people and I do believe that people have the best interests at heart when they are sharing and liking items online, but we need to do more! Sharing and liking do make a difference as you are getting a cause out to the rest of the world but unless you are willing to take the next steps to advocate for the causes it isn’t effective. We need to remember that above all, we have power online and that the choices we make (or don’t make) are extremely important. We need to research and weed out fake news and stay informed so we can put our money (or time) where our mouths (fingers typing) are. If you want to read more about my feelings on social justice, check out my blog post here. I titled that post, “Imagine a World” and I still do – everyday I wonder what it would be like if we had fairness for all…not equality, but fairness. I had to include my favourite image showing exactly what I mean for fairness not equality, this picture articulates the mindset that I try and pass on to my kids everyday.
So my final project is a playful remix of The Legend of Zelda for NES. It is an unusual approach so I thought that I should unpack why I did it this way and what I was hoping to achieve with each scene. To begin with the idea for the project came to me as a result of wrestling with the realization that I would not have time to explore my learning this semester and still have time to talk about my personal learning project of learning to program the Arduino. I knew that we would have a final post to explain our personal learning project, but I wanted something of it to be in my presentation as well. I played around with ideas of somehow working the Arduino into the project, but try as I might I could not figure out a good way that would not distract from the summary of my learning. So I decided that I would instead use programming in a different way, and that I would use it to animate the story. I also wanted something that was original and uniquely me. That was when I decided that it would be neat to have my learning represented as a quest. I knew that creating an animation with all of the sprites (characters in a game are called sprites) would take way too long so I decided to use an existing game that had already been heavily remixed before and go with it. I also decided that even though I focused on learning Arduino this semester that I would program in Scratch, since it is a platform that I am very familiar with, and that I knew would be capable of this kind of project. So that is where the idea for the Zelda adaptation came from.
The first thing I did even before settling on the approach was to go through notes from each class and to look for themes and commonalities. After I found my major themes I went back and started to look at connections and did a concept map. A website that I discovered this semester for creating concept maps with my science students is sketchboard.io I was able to create the following concept map to help me organize my thoughts.
The green circles are my key ideas that most things connected to and branched out of. I decided then that if I did do my learning as a quest that I would need to find a way to visually represent my learning in each of these 8 main areas. I thought about what I had learned in each of these areas and I wrote my transcript of what I wanted to say. I recorded these using my cell phone and made sure that it came to less than 7 minutes. Then I started to think about how to animate each scene.
Part 1 and 2: The title card and the crawl.
The game of Zelda is a genre game, it follows a defined format and that includes providing the player with a backstory. In modern video games this would be done with a cut scene before the player could take over, but there was not enough memory available to the writers of an NES game to include an animation like that. Instead they did what Star Wars did and many other movies before that, they provided the player with a scrolling text that could fill them in. I decided to do the same. So in this part my goal was to explain a little about what the viewer could expect of the learning summary, and then with the crawl to provide a starting point for the beginning of my learning.
Part 3 and 4: The opening scene and the cave.
In part 3 you first get to see the game and the little character that represents me. During this part I explain about how my personal learning network (PLN) was analog and not digital and I symbolized this by having it as a life meter up in the corner of the screen. It is full health, but it is not digital and you will see this change to developing and growing a digital PLN as the game goes on. Also you will see that I have a SAMR level indicator at the top that shows that much of my technology in the classroom at this point is substitutionary. As for social media I have Twitter but hardly used it and that was represented with the spiderweb on the logo. Finally my two inventory boxes are shown as empty to begin the course with.
Then I enter into the cave. Here Dr. Couros tells me that I am going to need to learn about these different social media platforms and that I will need to be doing this a lot. My little character receives a phone to do social media on. I feel that I should point out that I did not receive a free phone in this class. Pizza yes, phone no. Also I was pretty pleased with my little 8-bit version of Alec Couros. So anyway, the point of this scene was to highlight the platforms that we used in the course. The other reason I did it was because the original game starts with Link (not Zelda) receiving his sword from a man in a cave to go on his quest with.
Part 5: The Twitter storm.
In this part I talk about how Twitter was originally intimidating to me and how Dr. Couros taught us about how to use hashtags and tools like tweetdeck to help make sense of everything. I show this by having my little character fire hashtags out of his phone at the twitter birds that are swarming me. As I do this they quit attacking me. You will also notice in this part that the spiderweb leaves the twitter logo and I also get followers below the twitter logo. This is to show the success that I found as I started to use twitter properly. You will also notice that with the addition of Twitter followers that my digital PLN life meter increases.
Part 6: Digital Citizenship and Social Activism.
In this next part I wanted to show the things that we learned from our guest lecturer Katia Hildebrandt about digital citizenship and social activism. I tried to show a digital world with another version of my character in a blue part of the screen surrounded by scenery made of binary. This I hoped would be the clue that it was the digital version of me. When I first enter the scene it is moving up and down independent of my character. As Katia speaks she tells us to take control of our digital identities, so I do and it starts to mirror my offline movement. I can only do this so much though as the digital me hits the wall and stays behind as I leave the screen. If I had had more time I would have had this character continue to follow me throughout the rest of the game, but I could not figure out a good way of doing that so I settled for it only being on this screen. Some of you might have noticed that the sprite I used for Katia is a modified version of Princess Zelda. The other thing that happens in this scene is that as I take control of my digital identity my social media platforms jump to include Google+, WordPress, and Chrome, I also give my digital PLN a half a heart to show growth.
As I leave this screen to the next I encounter a monster who is shouting at me. In the next three screens my purpose is to show the moral wrestling I have done with the idea of social media activism. I can see the logic behind the idea that your digital self should be representing those things that you believe in and that you should be speaking up about issues. My concern that I am still wrestling with is that so often what wins an argument is not the facts, but the relationship and the facts. You can tell someone they are wrong, but if they do not care about the relationship with you they will just ignore you, and in fact thanks to the backfire effect may even become more polarized to your position. Instead by talking with someone as if you are in a partnership in which you are both desiring to seek truth you are more likely to see a change in belief and behaviour. I am convinced that this happens better in private conversations than public ones. So for myself I think that my kind of social activism is to discuss the issue with the other party in a direct message. This has worked sometimes and not others. I show it working as a I change the mind of the troll.
Part 7 and 8 Open Education Resources.
In this scene I wanted to present the concept of open educational resources, OERs. These are not locked away behind some kind of paywall so I show them being open by having my character unlock the room that they are in. Also I want people to remember that it is important to contribute and not just to take. I do this by having my character build a lesson and leave it in the OER room. Then I leave the screen with a book in my inventory and I head to the next screen. In the cave on that screen is a man who wants to buy the OER off of me. I use this to explain the attribution rules that exist on many OERs. I end up giving the OER resource to the man in the cave after he agrees to the rules of attribution for the document.
Part 9 SAMR.
The SAMR principle of how to use technology in the classroom is something that I have fallen in love with. The idea that many people at first only use technology as a substitute for the analog way that they used to use it, until they become more familiar with the technology and then they begin to adapt their approach. But to truly use technology well we need to use technology to modify/change, with the best use of the technology being when it completely redefines how learning takes place in our classes. The analogy that we talked about in class was someone exploring the ocean. Substitution and adaptation are shallow water explorations. Modification and redefinition are deep ocean exploration. I tried to show this by having my character put on scuba gear and head out into the water. When he goes below the water the whole screen goes dark blue and he finds and amazing resource at the bottom of the ocean. I am not completely happy with this scene because I do not know if anyone else will get that visually from it. I hope they do but I could not animate it better in the time that I had. In the end I had to say good enough and include the scene as is. Oh yeah, the SAMR level moves over each level as I go deeper and deeper into the ocean in this scene.
Part 10 and 11 Fake news, 4 Moves, and Filter bubbles.
I really like the visual for this metaphor. My character comes onto the screen and sees two ponds with apples floating into each pond. He cannot tell which is good or bad so he uses the four moves and a habit and heads upstream to check out the source. He finds the one stream has an apple tree growing and dropping good fruit into the stream. The other stream has a monster who is reform balls of dung to look good before putting them in the stream. I think the metaphor for how fake news is produced and repackaged works well.
Then I head upstream even more and find that there is other good fruit that I am not being exposed to. This represents news that is true that I might not agree with, or that falls outside my areas of interest, etc. My character investigates and sees that there is a dam acting as a barrier, this is a metaphor for the filter bubble that we all live in.
Part 12 LaFOIP and THINK.
The final part that I present before the closing credits is about LAFOIP and the acronym T.H.I.N.K. I show this by having a monster be the legal department demanding that I take care of students properly online. I reassure the troll that I am teaching my students how to evaluate if something is true,helpful or honest, inspiring or illegal, necessary or kind before posting. I also explain the four key points of LAFOIP. My favourite part of this scene is when my character unlocks a record that he is done with and destroys it by burning it. Deleting things on the computer is not nearly as fun as burning it, oh well.
In the credits I thank everyone and I need to apologize for something here. I mispelled Katia’s name. I called her Katie. I am really sorry. I went based on memory and should have looked your name up. I plan on fixing it in the next week, so if you ever want to link to it in the future you will see your name spelled correctly, I just do not have time before the class it over to re-edit the two places in the video where the mistake are.
In the credits I thank everyone in the class and I also talk a little about the idea of remixing. I really, really, really enjoyed the Everything is a Remix website. I was engaged by it and inspired by it. I hope that my remix of the Legend of Zelda into the Learnings of Chris, was enjoyable for you.
This is my last post to summarize my Learning Project for ECI831.
As you know, I have been working on Learning Cree this semester. I wanted to learn more about the language that is unique to the land that we live on, and also develop an understanding of the resources available to learn Cree. In addition, I recognize the importance of preserving language, particularly, a language that is unique to Saskatchewan. Overall, one of my biggest takeaways from this learning experience was learning about learning online. I was able to connect with people on Twitter, use YouTube for learning, find appropriate online resources and Apps to augment my learning process. A detailed explanation can be found below.
To begin with, I downloaded some Apps to my phone. Apps helped me in my learning project because they were easily accessible from anywhere and I could practice vocabulary. If I had a few minutes I would just pop open the App and do some practice and/or reading.
I learned about the regional Cree dialects and about the Cree syllabics. I did online research at www.creeculture.ca and found the Online Cree Dictionary to familiarize myself with sounds and syllabics. I also put my Screencast skills to the test in this post and shared what I had learned from the Cree Dictionary. In addition, I explored Bill Cook’sQuizlet. This was the first time that I had used Quizlet so I am happy to have had the chance to explore this tool. I think it is a great tool to use with language acquisition in particular. I used the Quizlet to learn Cree introductions.
Another cultural learning opportunity that I explored was the concept of Kinship or Wâhkôhtowin. One of the pages that I used for learning Kinship terms was a very out of date webpage but it still had a lot of great information on it. I hit the gold mine when I came across this blog by Chelsea Vowel. Her post talked about kinship terms and the grammatical structure of the language but also applied it to her own personal stories from growing up as a Cree woman. It really helped me to understand the terminology more but, most importantly, understand the cultural implications about Kinship. I also used this YouTube video to supplement my learning of family words.
As I moved into the more complex grammar I used the Online Cree Classroom which is also a tool provided to me by Bill Cook. I describe how I used the Online Cree Classroom in this post and in this post. I also describe more about Apps that I was using and wrote a bit of a review of which Apps were the most helpful and why I found them to be helpful.
As I worked on certain vocabulary, such as numbers, I used old fashioned pen and paper. As I mentioned in my post, sometimes I need to write numbers out repeatedly in order to practice and understand the structure of the numbers. More information about numbers here.
After studying grammar with the Online Cree Classroom and using Bill Cook’s Quizlet, I finally felt confident enough to form some sentences and try recording my first YouTube video. I so glad that I took the leap and did it. I really like hearing myself speak Cree and now that it is out there on YouTube I hope it motivates others to do the same! In this post I really delve into the grammar of the Cree language (yes, I am a grammar nerd!) as well as some more vocabulary. Although it took me a significant amount of time to learn the grammar structures to be able to write a sentence I am so glad that I did. It was very satisfying to know that I took my learning to the point that I was able to form sentences.
As I was researching Cree learning resources the one that was a “hot topic” was the book 100 Days of Cree. As I explored the book further, I totally understood why. In this post, I write a more detailed explanation of why I really liked the book. I was able to download the online version from the U of R library page, but only for short-term use. The book, however, is very affordable and would be a great resource for any classroom. I also connected with teachers who are using it in their classroom now and it seems that their experiences have been very positive!
To conclude, I am satisfied with my learning journey. I discovered new online tools such as Quizlet and I used some familiar tools such as YouTube to support my learning. I connected with others on Twitter, and through these connections, I discovered great resources such as the Online Cree Classroom. I also discovered blogs and cultural resources that were extremely valuable to my learning. Thanks for following along, friends!
As we head towards the finish line of EC&I 831, I feel like I need to make some sort of summarizing post around my digital project; using Seesaw. This is not as easy as it sounds, because while this project certainly has a clearly identified starting point, there is distinct ending. This doesn’t wind up nicely with concluding remarks, and list of APA cited resources. That said, in reflecting upon this experience, I would argue that the fact that this project is not concluding is actually a measure of its success. Let me tell you why…
Part of my reason for enrolling in this course was a desire to experience implementing social media with my professional practice. As I discussed in opening this project in October, I wanted to find a way to meaningfully connect with parents of those students I support as a Learning Resource Teacher. I wanted to add an element of engagement and fun to that communication. I also wanted that communication to be on their terms, so to speak, and I thought social media could be my way to do that! I chose to implement Seesaw, student managed digital learning portfolios, with my small group reading support students.
I immediately reaped benefits from incorporating Seesaw into my reading groups. I had anticipated that the project would be well received by kids, and I was right. Every single one of the kids became hyper-engaged with the idea of building an online portfolio of accomplishments to share with parents, teachers and peers. The interface of the app is intuitive for kids, and my students easily learned how to navigate the app. In no time, they had learned how to take pictures, add squiggles and assign the artifacts to their folder.
It wasn’t only the students that were engaged. I was! I don’t want to over-analyze the fact that, for me, using seesaw was as fun as it was for the kids in my reading groups.
As we continued to use Seesaw as part of our reading groups, I began to see the power of the portfolio students were building up. It was creating a neat timeline of the students work in reading. They enjoyed scrolling through their work and looking back at the pictures and videos they have uploaded over the course of the Fall.
I have to be honest, as I continued to use Seesaw, I started to lose track of this in terms of it being a major assignment worth a significant portion of my grade. It did not at all feel like a traditional assignment. Although it certainly took work, it did not feel like work. This is how I want learning to feel like for my students at school! Natural… meaningful… requiring effort, but not cumbersome…
A point of frustration with the project, initially, was the challenge of engaging parents with Seesaw. I had initially expected it to be easy, and this was not the case. At least not at first! When that first parent contact did come, however, it felt great! Over the next couple of weeks, some more parents did connect and even started posting remarks on their child’s learning artifacts. As hard as I tried to connect with parents and support them getting onto Seesaw, I know that it was their child who gave them the push to get on. I know they went home talking about their reading group and putting pictures online, and I know that they were pressing their parents to check it out. Their enthusiasm is what won them over!
It was around this point, rolling into mid-November, that my proficiency and confidence with Seesaw had grown to the point where I was starting to seek new and creative ways to implement the application. I began to search online and comb through the posts of my EC&I 831 peers also using Seesaw. I was interested in how Channing was using Seesaw to assign activities at home. I was not aware of this new feature until she pointed it out in her blog.
I also ran into an idea in the Seesaw sharing community, that literally punched me in the face as I read it. I read about how we can set up listening stations using Seesaw. I loved it! I had my students record themselves, by video, reading a book they had mastered. We then donated those videos to a grade 1 class to use as part of their listen to reading programming. Amazing! Obviously, the grade one students adored being able to listen to some older role models red books to them. Furthermore, what an incredible way to combat the narrative and self perception my students have of themselves as being struggling readers. Yes, they are receiving my support, but their reading is easily strong enough for them to be leaders and role models for younger learners.
Wrap Around Ending?
So this is where I stand. Not much of an ending, is it? It’s not, and that’s just fine! The purpose of this digital project, for me, was to experience something different and, hopefully, transform my practice. I believe I have certainly accomplished this. Throughout the course of my project, I repeatedly made reference to having crossed some sort of point of no return. Seesaw is not something I will just drop and forget now that the assignment is, technically, over.
I believe this is actually an appropriate barometer for the success of my project. By not having an ending point, and knowing that I will continue to evolve in my use of Seesaw, I have effectively transformed an element of my practice. And this is never ending. The moment we stop transforming our practice is the moment we become out of touch with current educational trends, and our students deserve better.
Social media does have a place in what I do as a Learning Resource Teacher. For me, this is a paradigm shift. It is a paradigm shift that would not have happened without enrolling in this course, and for that I am thankful!