Author Archives: lolafsonbeardenECI831

granny square, granny square, what’s wrong with you?

My learning project is progressing.  I can’t say smoothly.

I was going back and forth between videos and written instructions.  This is because the video moves too fast for me- or too slow in some cases.  Some people clearly have created these things simply to hear themselves talk.

This is the video that I finally decided upon.  The music will grow on you I promise.  I found videos that last anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 minutes to complete the same task.  This one was somewhere in between, which is really why it became a main contender.  I don’t want to sit and listen for 10 minutes about why you took up crocheting on your own, or why you prefer one solid colour to the starburst pattern.  I am not a patient person that way, and just want to get to what I want to learn.  I also struggle with videos that have kids crying in the background, dogs barking, etc.

The pace on this video was good for where I am at.  If I hadn’t yet figured out the chain stitch and the double crochet stitch pretty decently, then I would really have struggled with the pace for these directions.  I find the videos helpful because I can just pause them until I catch up, although, like I said, this one worked out pretty well with the exception of the corners initially.  I have heard people say that the granny square is the first crocheting that they have done.  Not impossible, but I would suggest if you are learning it through a video, that I would start with the double crochet before attempting the granny square.

In the last few weeks I have been able to get the hang of both single and double crochet stitches.  As of late I have been tackling the granny square.  (Below is the photo of what it should look like, completed in one colour.)

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According to many websites, It’s really easy to crochet a granny square.

I wouldn’t be bold enough to say they were lying- however easy is a relative term.  I will agree insofar as to say that it is getting easier.

To begin, I wasn’t able to get a square.  I was working more on a granny round.

I’m not going to lie.  It took many attempts to get a square going.

Even after finishing one full round and making a corner to start the next round, I continued to struggle to get onto the next round.  Once I discovered that my mistake was in the corner turn, it worked out.  Eventually, I was able to make it work out and complete one.

The stitches aren’t hard once you’ve figured it out, however getting the right tension remains slightly elusive for me. If it weren’t so frustrating, I could see how this would be a relaxing pass time!

This week I am going to complete my granny square Christmas dishcloth- wish me luck!


you get what you pay for?

How many times have you heard that said?

And how many times has it been true?

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Where do I stand with these quotes?  Somewhere in the middle….

The best things in my life are my kids and my husband, are they free?  Sort of.

I didn’t pay up front, but they haven’t been free for the past 25 years either.

When I go back to thinking about my kids, I can’t help but recognize the privilege that they have enjoyed simply by being born to us.  They have fairly well educated, decently paid parents.  That has allowed many advantages. One of the few, is the ability to come up with money to pay for education for them, and not come out of university with the same massive student loan that we did for 15 years.Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have the loans available, but I can’t help but question how many companies profited from my degree- certainly there were greater benefactors than the UofR.

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This weeks assignment had us look at some open education sources.  I of course looked at them from the perspective of what I could use as a teacher in my classes.  I have used Khan academy in the past with middle years students for math and it has been effective.  My kids always enjoyed using it, and I found that it worked well within a math classroom where I had groups working on different assignments.  In addition, I used it to supplement my instruction: I’m not a math scholar, and I found that the explanations were good.  Many of my more independent students used it almost like a tutorial.

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I looked into the TedEd this week.  I’m not sure why, but I had never used it. I, like Dani found that it was very easy to use.  The search was great, I could choose a subject, choose an academic level, and could do additional learning if I chose.

It was also interesting to me to read about how TedEd is used by students in Vietnam in Thanh’s post. The fact that it is being used around the world speaks to the diversity and global interests that are served and represented in the different videos.

TedEd reminded me quite a lot of EdPuzzle, which I used in my class a few times after being shown it last spring. Many of the same capabilities exist, such as clipping the video, having questions etc.   In some ways, I still prefer the EdPuzzle for a traditional classroom, because it allows you to stop and embed the questions right into the video, or add additional information in the exact spot in the video that you want, rather than referencing and returning to that part of the video if you need hints after.

I liked that as soon as I created my TedEd account, I immediately got an email with some “getting started” advice which certainly was user friendly.   TedEd is certainly something I would use, and I did share it with a couple teachers on our staff.

One thing that seemed the same for many of the OER’s that I scanned through this week is that they are post secondary focused.  There wasn’t much I found in terms of using in a K-12 setting.  I’m wondering if it is because there isn’t really a market at a school age level as education is free in Canada anyway?

The other difficulty I can see is accessing and finding credible sources.  I did a google search just for “free textbooks online”.  While there were many (554 000 000) results, I’m not sure that I would know where to start looking.  It would take a lot of leg work to trace back for credibility.

I go back to nothing in the world being free- and although I notice donation tabs on a few of the OER sites, it may be time consuming to find out where the money comes from to fund the resources, I can’t imagine that many people write entire textbooks out of the goodness of their hearts.

With funding comes bias, and my questions continue….


I’m willing to share: just not my cookies or my toothbrush

But do I have things that you would want?

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Like I’ve said before, I do a lot online in terms of finding resources, doing professional reading, following Twitter for ideas.  Do I share a bunch?  No.

I’m on there looking for ideas to do things differently and better, what do I do, or what do I know that could possibly benefit someone else?

I’ve never really created anything 100% on my own, I’ve taken ideas from all over the place and made them work.  Why would I share that?  Especially with people I don’t know, and who didn’t ask for it?  These people can surely compile the same information that I have.

Dean Shareski makes some key points in his Moral Imperative video.  Education is about sharing.  I share with teachers in my buildings, give them unit plans that I have made, send them links of resources that I have found, gone into classrooms and team taught concepts, and modeled lessons for teachers new to a grade or subject that I had experience with.  Shareski talked about the “Obligation to teach outside the building”.  This struck me in a couple ways.

  1. If what I’m doing in my own building is helping other teachers within my building, it would likely help those in other buildings
  2. The second one is more thought provoking for me, as I teach in a building that has high rates of absenteeism. Although I believe attendance is key in education, it isn’t always happening that kids are attending school.  My first response to sharing in education was with other professionals; however, the impact of sharing classroom lessons and resources online with non-attending students could be life-changing for some.  As a teacher, absenteeism was my nemesis- that hasn’t changed as an administrator.  I constantly hear, “I can’t teach them if they aren’t here”.  Not really true in this day and age.

Shelby talks about how as adult learners we look to the internet to understand new concepts, and use it like a tutor.  I think we are getting better at teaching students to be proactive in their own learning somewhat- but I still see a lot of teacher centered instruction happening as well.  Most of the students that I encounter are not able to take responsibility for their own learning of school work, it continues to be the teachers fault if they are not successful. Interestingly enough, they are learning about many things outside of school on the internet, and creating content and posting to things like YouTube complex learnings and ideas.

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Where is the disconnect?  Could it be that 12 year olds are not interested in the GDP of Canada? Is it because the younger generation is more willing to share their ideas without being paid for them?  Is it because they are more at ease with connecting with people from all around the globe? Is it because they don’t get caught up in copywrite? Maybe it’s just that they like to see themselves online?

I think the disconnect in sharing willingly and effectively online is with adults. Adults like compensation for sharing, and although the idea of teaching being about sharing is true, sites like Teachers Pay Teachers are bringing in a lot of money for sharing resources.

I think another disconnect may be because there is a different value placed on the learning that happens at school and the learning that happens as a “hobby” for lack of a better word in my opinion.  Ze Frank’s notion of life being lived “out there” in virtual spaces is how most all people are interacting now- young and old alike.  And why not, you can access people who have similar interests, learn from experts in the field, connect with friends and family that you otherwise wouldn’t.  Yet somehow, in my opinion, these interactions and learnings are somehow viewed as lessor than those that happen face to face. To me they are also lessor for young people than older people.  If I spend 2 hours online looking for ideas for work or reading professional resources, I am “working”, when kids spend hours online, they are just lazy and unable to interact with their peers without technology.  What is considered to be knowledge is also determined by society.

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I believe that learning in our society isn’t real unless you end up with a diploma/certificate, or a grade. It still appears to me that knowledge is something that in our society requires that you have paid for it for it to be acknowledged.


Double should only be a thing when related to caffeine or alcohol….

which coincidentally I may need before mastering the skill of crochet.

When given the task of finding a learning project I thought about it for a little while.  There are some things that interest me for classrooms, however since I don’t have my own class this year, I was thinking it may be difficult.  I am new to my school, and so was unsure of a teacher I could shoulder tap to work with, without giving them a bunch more work.  On top of that, I’m finding life pretty hectic right now, and it’s difficult some days to even commit to getting into classrooms for instructional walks let alone team teaching.

I thought about my current level of stress: it’s been high.  I wanted to find an activity that would be quiet and relaxing.

Memes, 🤖, and Stress: IT'S SUPPOSED TO
 RELIEVE STRESS.

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I actually do some colouring for relaxing from time to time.  But I decided I would give crocheting a try.

I am decently crafty, and have knitted since I was 5 or 6 years old.  My thought process was that really, how hard could it be?  Really, I’m pretty good at it:

If I can knit this, I should be crocheting pretty darn fast right?  WRONG

After approximately 7 693 812 attempts, ok thats a slight exaggeration and this is not about fishing, so I’ll scale it back a bit, (get it???).  Ok, after many videos and visuals, and several attempts, I managed to get the single crochet down:

admittedly, this is far from perfect when it comes to tension, but a couple rows none the less.

After several attempts:

and then several more:

I’m decently happy with my control over single crochet at this point.  My tension is staying pretty consistent, and I’m able to create more or less a piece that is not completely lopsided.

Then came the double:

After a few failed efforts, the only double I worried about was 40 proof.

A couple days later, picked it up again, and got a little farther:

Again, tension is getting  much better.

This week I will be focusing on the granny square.

What I know about learning a skill like this.  Knitting was much easier with my grandma there to correct my mistakes.  If I was wrong, she seen what I was doing wrong and could show me the right way.

I need a combination of ways to show me what to do.  The videos are great on the one hand because I can watch.  The downside is how fast they move.  It’s great I can watch them again and again, but I still find that I have to have a picture in front of me as well to figure out what I’m doing, as well as written instructions with illustrations.

At times I can see from my work that I am not correct, but I’m unsure of where my mistake is- this is what I find the most frustrating.

I have people I know who crochet, and I could ask for help, however I’m really trying to figure this out on my own with no face to face to truly get a better understanding of how feasible completely learning a new skill online is.


Am I a slactivist? Is that even a word?

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Ok- in fairness, I will sometimes share- so long as the issue isn’t too controversial, and I would never have a big gulp- likely a pumpkin spice latte, and I don’t have a mustache and if I did I would wax it, and I don’t wear v-necks, it would likely be a turtleneck, especially in fall, and I don’t have a desktop, it would be a laptop…

but the biggest difference between me and this image: I have never really even thought about using social media for social activism.  In fact, I use it to connect with friends, family, find lesson plan ideas, or recipes, completely ignoring the power it has to make a difference in my community, let alone the country and world. I use social media as a space where I try to forget about the world around me- I haven’t wanted to engage in any form of activism, only pure enjoyment.

I’m not going to lie after reading a few articles and other classmates blogs that I will say in a small, embarrassed, inside my head voice that I actually am sometimes annoyed by my step-daughters continual posts about veganism, and my friends continual posts about animal rights.  I often don’t even pay attention to them anymore- scroll quickly through to someone’s baby pictures.

THAT’S RIGHT- I CAN’T EVEN BE CONSIDERED A SLACTIVIST as Amy referred to – I’M SO MUCH LESS!

Katia’s question about our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online is a big one.  Like Chris, I tend to not rock the boat a lot when it comes to social media activism, but I also agree with him that it is our job as educators to make people better.  And I recognize I have done none of this.  That’s actually a pretty strange thing for me to admit and think about, as I tend to be pretty in your face when it comes to social injustice and inequality.  I don’t only teach it to my students, but I will go toe to toe with any parent or community member who challenges decisions at school that bring to light those issues.  I am the one complaining that our SLC is only worried about pep rallies and spirit weeks, and not championing our Orange Shirt Day, or getting involved in food or clothing drive.

What I say I believe in:                                                                                                              

 What my online presence shows I believe in:

This links well for me to our previous post about creating a social media identity- things like branding our schools, and ourselves.  What do we present to the world through our online profile.  This feels like the next layer to that.  If in my Twitter profile I indicate that I am interested in anti-oppressive education, or Treaty Education- my online presence needs to show that is the truth- put your money where your mouth is kind of thing. At this point, my profile indicates that I am an educator passionate about many things, but my presence shows that I enjoy crafts and baking.

I have struggled with this all week, and will continue to struggle with it for a while yet I’m thinking.  That’s likely not a bad thing.  I am honestly not 100% sure, but I think that I’ve never considered the impact that social media may have on activism, thinking that many people are like me, and just scroll through things- and don’t pay much attention to the hundreds or thousands of posts.

Obviously, I recognize the exposure that some campaigns receive, but I guess I’ve always felt that exposure is only half the battle- although important.  I found an interesting, short post that highlights the need to move from awareness to action.

  1. keep the action simple
  2. connect to real life campaigns
  3. understand  limitations

In retrospect, I’ve been a little lazy.  Rather than like or share a post, if it strikes a cord with me, I need to do a little research about how I can actually help, be ACTIVE.  Share and comment about a local agency that is doing work to support the issue that I am interested in.

Clearly- I have a little grappling with my online identity and use, and moving into the modern world where activism is as much what I post as what I do or say in person.

 

 


To be or not to be…Digital Identity

So I googled myself- turns out I’m not super exciting!  That being said, I didn’t find anything that would give me cause of alarm either.

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I am a pretty private person, I have good friends that I enjoy spending time with, and they know most everything about me,  but there aren’t many of them.  I have Facebook, but my friends are limited to those I know quite well and family.  I have a few people on there that I know casually, as I live in a small town and most everyone.  I don’t share much on there.  Usually a few pictures of trips, possibly share a recipe, that’s about it.

I have a Twitter account.  I use it a lot actually to find articles related to work, however I don’t post or share often.  The majority of my Pinterest pins are kept locked, because I don’t want people I don’t know having access to what I like to bake or craft. I am learning from what others are being willing to share, however I’m not sharing my knowledge with others.  When I write this I don’t sound like a good digital friend.

Teachers are tasked with  helping  students understand how to build their own digital identities, when often the teachers themselves are not being careful in building their own.  As a new administrator, I have had several discussions with staff about being friends with students, and for that matter parents.  It’s a tricky situation in a small community.  The sharing of one picture, meant completely as a joke can have some pretty big impact.

Let’s call this evidence A:

 

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Clearly this is meant to be funny- post it to Facebook, and suddenly there are calls to the school about the post.  What happens when a teacher friend posts something like this and then tags you in it?  Suddenly, the digital identity that you are working to build is not at all how you hope to be portrayed.  How about the ever famous beer in hand photo at your cousins wedding?  Once it’s on Facebook, there is judgement of character. And it’s permanent, it won’t just haunt you today, it will lurk forever.

These downsides inhibit me from fully engaging in social media, and having my students, and now my school fully engage.  I need to work harder on the positives, and the necessity. Like Christina, I’m working on facing the reality. I also need to push my thinking about social media beyond Facebook and Snapchat, and I need to push my students beyond that as well. Our school has a Facebook page, because it’s easy to connect with parents, but its a shallow form of communication.  I much prefer SeeSaw or Google Classroom interactions with parents.  A platform where we can truly communicate our learning.

George Couros discusses the importance of digital identities for students.  He believes that before leaving school all students should have

a) a professional social network

b) a digital portfolio

c) an about me page

For me the key is a professional social network, teaching kids that there is a difference between personal and professional, and the difficulties in keeping them separated in the online ecosystem of interconnections that exist.  This TedTalk does a really good job of framing social media and digital identity.

 

This video is something that I would share with students, and my staff.

The question is not whether or not we have digital footprints, the question is whether or not our digital footprint shows the world what we want portrayed.  Will our footprint land us a job, or will it prevent us from getting one?  How will our digital footprint make us successful in a global world?


social kids- anti-social schools?

How does a school system that was created hundreds of years ago, and remains basically unchanged meet the needs of the students of today?

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When I was born, there was no such thing as a mobile device, let alone any of the other applications listed.  Why then is the school I teach in so similar to the one I was educated in? Further to that- what am I doing as a teacher and an administrator to change it?

I was looking at a Saskatchewan social textbook last week.  I remember when our division rolled them out and how happy I was to receive the resource about 5 years ago.  Looking at it this past week a few things struck me:

  1. The textbooks cost tens of thousands of dollars or more for our division to purchase
  2. The textbook is very dated already, things like Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, Truth and Reconciliation aren’t even mentioned.  These topics are on the news every night. Not just on the news, but in their news feeds, (case in point current Balgonie High issues about alleged racism). Clearly, if I’m using that new, already dated resource, I’m not even teaching my kids information that is relevant to the here and now, and worst case scenario, the information I’m teaching from that resource may even be wrong in today’s context!

 

Pavan Arora makes some very interesting points, and really made me think.  How do we teach the “how”, when we’ve been taught to teach the “what”.  Everything around us changes, but not education.  Arora makes a good point that technology is growing and changing at a rate never before seen, but at the same time, our world has never been static, it’s always been changing.

We drive cars, not horses, we pay with debit cards, not cash, we watch movies on Netflix, not VHS.  Generally speaking, we have embraced the changes, except in education, where our day is still subject by subject, curriculum by curriculum, missing as Lima demonstrated, the interconnectedness of learning. The teacher is still the top of the educational tree, there to impart knowledge, while kids sit in rows, with hands raised to share their thinking.  This is not the real world of our kids, who can share their thoughts with thousands instantly through Facebook posts, Snapchat stories, and Twitter.  I’m pretty sure school does not feel very authentic.

Brown and Addler make the point that current methods of teaching and learning will not prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the 21st century. I would agree.  Kids can learn about the things they are interested in on their own, I agree with Taylor that students must be critical.  I believe that the role of teachers is to teach students to be critical of what they read, view, and hear.  We must help students evaluate, synthesize, and summarize information.  We must show students how to create safe global networks, and share their learning with others.  The days of impressing our kids by attempting to teach them about the solar system are over.  If they are interested, they can connect with the space station or an astronaut for themselves.

We can only ignore the technology available to our kids for so long, and by attempting to keep them safe by denying access, we may in fact place them in situations that aren’t safe for them.

 

 


What qualifies as authentic learning?

In the education community the phrase “21st century teaching”, or “21st century learning” are tossed around ALOT.  Who can tell me what that actually looks like in a school?  Are there schools who do it school wide, or is it limited to a few teachers some of the time?”

The other phrase I hear constantly is “data-driven instruction”, and I’m struggling with it.  If we are truly considering data, we would be responsive to reading and writing and math data scores.  Rather than pulling kids into small groups for things like LLI and smaller intervention models, (which I believe do have a place in good instruction), we would be changing the way we learn in our schools, start being responsive to how our kids actually learn.

The funniest thing about how we expect our kids to learn is not at all how we are learning as adults.

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 I seldom take my computer out at home these days.  There is very little I do that I can’t do on my phone.  In fact, if I wanted, this entire assignment could be done on my phone.  I can check and approve staff absences, do all my communication with collegues, keep up with friends and family on social media, watch TV or movies, listen to audiobooks on my way to work.  You name it, it’s at my finger tips.  I don’t bother to log onto my computer to get the weather, look up a quick fact- I grab my phone.  Yet I sit through staff meeting after staff meeting listening to the reasons why cel phones shouldn’t be allowed in class, despite the fact that our staff sits through the entire staff meeting on their phone.

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Is there a chance that kids will be distracted, or possibly access something that they shouldn’t?  Of course, there is always a chance: and the chance gets greater everytime we don’t take an opportunity to teach them how to work with the technology in responsible ways.  If we are going to look at data driven teaching, the following data should also be considered:

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Technology is not going away, it’s pretty clear that our kids are using it- as educators it is imperative that we encourage kids to connect with others to learn, and at the same time teach them how to be safe doing it.

Are kids different now that they used to be?  I think in many ways.  When I was in school, I had to hang around with the people who were there.  I didn’t have an opportunity to learn with or connect with people who shared the same interests as me,  or connect with people on the other side of the world to understand issues through their perspectives.  What I don’t think has changed at all is that kids want to connect with other people. Just because we didn’t have the opportunity to connect globally, I’m not sure why we would want to take it away from kids now.

Kids are using media CONSTANTLY, and we need to understand the power that can have.  Caroline Knorr offers some of the positives we can help kids tap into.

 

 


half way there!!!- well almost…

I’ve finally made it to the half way point in this Masters program adventure!

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When I started, I had no plans at all to move into administration, but the road is never straight, and I took the opportunity in the spring to move into a principalship.  I am commuting each day, and getting to know a new wonderful staff and kids, but I’m not going to lie, I’m unsure some days if I made the right choice. I debated taking a class this fall with a new position, but I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t push myself, it’ll be harder to get into the groove next semester.

We have a couple options for the class assignment.  We can design something amazing for our classroom and students…

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Or we can chose to teach ourselves a new skill…

I haven’t taken time for a long time to learn something new, so I went with option 2.

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I tend to like all kinds of “craft” type things; embroidery, sewing, painting, etc.  I learned to knit when I was 6 or 7 because my grandma was a saint and had more patience than anyone I know.  I have knit everything from baby blankets to afghans, to sweaters, toques, you name it.  One thing I can’t do though is crochet.

My mom knows how, but although she was raised by my grandma, didn’t inherit her patience and never taught us how.  Even as adults, she lacks the patience to teach us.

So that’s it- I’m going to learn to crochet!

This class will also give me, or I should say force myself to find the time to give myself to learn.

I have already discovered that upon google search there are just over 3.6 million videos on how to crochet, as well as several other text pages.  I shouldn’t be at a loss for resources. Nor should I be at a loss for motivation to learn a skill I want to know how to do.

Gives new thought to what we teach, why we teach it, and how we teach it…..