Category Archives: ECI 831 Thoughts and Reflections

Create your own story with STORY JUMPER….

Great task this week, to explore an app or a website that I have never used that would assist me in my teaching profession. I think I have found a very cool site that can make students published authors.  What a neat concept.  Story Jumper allows people from very young, to very old,  create their own stories.  And not only is the story an original creation, but it can also be printed, and sent to the author.  How cool is that? As a young student, creating your own plotline, then transferring that story online, and then receiving a hard copy, in your hands a few weeks later. This is awesome.

I spent some time playing around with Story Jumper and really liked what I saw.

The first thing I did was created an account as an educator.  I was asked my location and school name.  Easy Peasy. I then went through a quick tutorial for teachers on how to navigate and start class lists. 

I explored the teacher page, and was pumped to find an explanation of the types of books that can be created.  I was also excited how they were link able to the grade level outcomes for the Saskatchewan Curriculum.

 

 

The next thing I did was watch a tutorial, which showed me how to maneuver through the site. .

I then, began playing around with the books, and creating a sample.

Cool…. user friendly things that I found:

  1. Choices of story book formats
  2. Various themes available
  3. Students can start from scratch with an idea, or use some suggestions to get themselves started.
  4. Option to use pre-generated images
  5. Option to download personal images from my own photo gallery
  6. Voice recording option
  7. Option to create animated characters for the storybook
  8. You can order the book – various options from Hard Covered to 1 free black and white copy per user.

Some Cons that I found were:

  1. Graphics offered were not the most appealing; feeling a bit outdated
  2. Does not pick up grammar and spelling errors, which is challenging when working with younger students
  3. younger students may need a little more hands on help to work through the site.

Here is a personal comment from my son Thomas.

 

I would definitely give this site a…..

Zach Reino Thumbs Up GIF by Earwolf - Find & Share on GIPHY

Source: Giphy.com

Some modernizing required, but really liked so many things about this.  I will be using it in my class.

Until next week….

 

 


It takes a village of champions….

I have to begin by agreeing with Lindy when she stated on her blog  “This week’s TedTalk video was likely my favorite this semester.”

I am going to take a little bit of a different look at sharing.  I value and appreciate all Open Educational Resources I receive and use in my classrooms.  Without these, I honestly don’t know if I have the creativity to survive as a teacher. OERs are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessment, as well as for research purposes. I have come to realize that teachers at all levels are becoming more involved in the OER movement because they believe in the value of creativity and benefits to sharing.  Its a natural connection.

I want to talk about sharing, outside of the classroom, and more in regards to sharing within the family, community and school.  As a special education educator, I spend endless hours with students, families and community resources, around the conference table ensuring all the needs of the student are met.  Looking past the academic needs, but really targeting the students’ basic needs.

Image Credit: Lookism.net

When examining a students’ basic needs, one automatically thinks of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.  As Steven Johnson stated in his TedTalk “Where Good Ideas Come From” when he spoke of researcher Kevin Dunbar who suggested,  that “all important ideas happened at the conference table.”  I feel this to be totally true.  Monthly, I meet with all the essential people in my student’s lives.  The people that truly care of the success and the well being of the student… and we share. We share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The environment is safe, and honest.  Everyone understands the goal which is the success of the student, not only in school, but in social settings and outside of school.

To me, sharing is collaborating. It’s a “liquid network where lots of ideas and backgrounds lead to innovation” (Johnson, TedTalk) … and when people think innovation, they think of new items, or amazing inventions, but I think of student success. Locally, there are several agencies which assist in collaborating for the success of the student.  We share resources, and information in order to meet a student’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Locally, the major agencies include The Regina Intersectoral Partnership (TRip), 

Randall Kinship Center, Child and Youth, and ARC. 

It is so imperative that as educators we access the village. The village will include OERs, safety agencies, mental health professionals, and various other educators. Every student needs a champion in their corner…champion educators collaborate and share, to not only better themselves, but to better their students.  This is an amazing TedTalk with Rita Pierson and a must watch.

I understand that my viewpoint took a little bit of a different turn, but I truly felt it necessary to think beyond the sharing of lessons, textbooks, and activities, and more towards the sharing of resources and ideas that will assist in the success of the student; mental, physically and spiritually.
Thanks for reading.


CK-12….where have you been all my life??

Alright, so as a current special education educator, I work with students in one classroom, spread throughout 4 different grade levels on “paper” (currently grades 5-8), but who academically are spread from grades 1-8 with their academic needs.  This makes it very difficult to plan lessons that can be taught to the entire class that are meeting curricular outcomes for those particular grade levels.  I am constantly searching for assistance to help my students develop their skills and academics, while continuing to engage them.

The discovery of CK-12 is a perfect solution. I began looking at the website, and what initially caught my eye was the CK-12 MAP. Upon clicking it open, I quickly realized the network of educators and students using this resource.

Source: CK-12 Maps

I mean look at this… it is absolutely amazing how many users are engaged in this resources from around the world.  I did notice there wasn’t a ton of Canadian users, so wondered if the content was applicable to the Canadian, and Saskatchewan Curriculum. But I thought it had to be good, with this many red dots.

Testimonials are important….to hear users opinions really matter to me. I found this video which made me even more intrigued to investigate CK-12 and why I could love it or hate it.

Diving deeper into CK-12 I was able the subjects offered, and the list is extensive.

Source: CK-12 subjects

From various grades, to various subjects, I was intrigued to explore more. th website itself was extremely user friendly. I quickly created an account using my email and password. From there I was able to navigate through the various subjects and grade levels, exploring with CK-12 had to offer.

Looking at several subjects I noticed many student friendly and teacher friendly options.  There are a lot of visual resources through videos, and graphs.  There are also discussion questions which occur frequently to engage students in the learning process. Activities also accompany the lessons which encourage the students to be active learners. The website is extremely clear and visually appealing as well.

Some great things that stuck out to me were:

  1. Flexbooks – online textbooks which were subject specific
  2. Simulations
  3. PLIX

Seriously, these are amazing.  I am very excited to use these in my classroom and with my students.  I am also very excited to share this with my colleagues and co-professionals.  What a fabulous resource!! I suggest you check it out.

Teacher GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Source: Giphy

 


Sharing is caring and Remixing is creating

By definition, remixing is “to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new – originally to music” (Ze Frank)

When discussing “remixing”, I automatically think of the creativity involved in doing so.  One typically thinks of “remixing” in today’s generation using social media and various technologies, but remixing has been around for many years, and as Ze Frank states in his My Web Playroom Ted Talk  stated “remixing has been around for along as we have been alive”.

I recall, when I was young, I would remix to learn concepts.  From scientific formulas, to memorizing facts, I would remix using a catchy tune, or phrase that I would remember. I would copy, transform and combine, in order to recall information. As a parent I remixed with my kids all the time…teaching them how to spell their names or to remember their address and phone number….remixing occurs for all ages, and for many past generations, but frequently in today’s generation. Here is an example of a remix I found that shows just how useful remixing is for today’s generation.

Today, we refer to remixing as using technologies that are appealing to the younger generation which are driven by social media and various apps.

I Learned From That Justin Bieber GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Using this concept unlocks creativity and allows more learning to occur. Remixing is the literacy of this generation.  It is how this generations speaks, and it’s who they are.  Larry Lessig conquers by saying that remixing is a tool for speaking, and that it cannot be considered piracy, but must be seen as a creative culture that we must encourage and support, not punish and ignore. He also suggests that youth now are very different then us, and it is because of the technologies that exist in today’s society.  He indicated that rather than our youth constantly living life “against the law”, we should embrace this inventiveness.  Ze Frank  agrees and states that “we must be joyful and celebrate the fun being had.”  These new forms or empowerment create stronger voices and should be celebrated as forms of communication. We must “do better for our kids” (Lessig).

Moving on to Sharing – Being a Moral Imperative I have to agree with Roberta when she speaks of the culture of sharing.  As educators, historically we are famous for working in our “own bubbles”, independently closing our doors and teaching our students, but this seems to be detrimental to the education of students. According to Dean Shareski, Sharing – Being a Moral Imperative; “education is entirely built on sharing, and it is our obligation to not only teach students in the building, but beyond.” How can we do this?? How can we create and work within this “sharing revolution”.Image result for teacher sharing I understand that for some it is too much to share, but for others, it is what drives them and they can’t get enough. I feel that there are many ways to share professionally, while still ensuring that recognition is given to those who are contributing.  Websites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Share My Lessons are a few sites, which allow teachers to share their work, while still being recognized for their contributions and creativity.  Rather than “reinventing the wheel” as Roberta stated, why not share our great ideas…ideas that students loved, or maybe didn’t love. As professionals with students needs being at the forefront, it is essential to share in order to make students’ lives richer due to the culture of sharing.  According to Shareski “students are the direct beneficiaries of sharing”…and isn’t this ultimately why we do what we do….for the students?

 

 


Are we just slacktivists???

Researching the idea of social activism drew me to really self examine myself and my “social activism participation.” slacktivismBeing active on various social media sites, I feel it essential for me to really be self aware of my participation in this type of activism. I came across the term slacktivism, and after doing some serious research thought to myself…..”am I a slacktivist?” “Am I part of the trendy, shallow, effortless group of people who say they are social activists, but in reality are slacktivists?” “If so, is slacktivism a bad thing?

In order to answer my questions I first had to define Slacktivists. Simply put slacktivists are people who participate in feel good measures that support a cause that requires minimal personal effort.  The key here is MINIMAL effort. By clicking a link, wearing a bracelet, sharing a post or signing an online petition, many people feel that this is enough to support a cause. Is it? Do these minimal actions really do anything to support issues in our society.  Or do they just allow social media users to pretend they are activists, when in reality they care…but don’t really care enough.

I came across an article “The Death of Slacktivism” which really clarified a slacktivist to me.  Those more interested in appearing socially conscious than actually doing something to get involved is becoming a norm in today’s society.  People don’t really seem to want to get their hands dirty, or make a big stink about social issues, but they want to show their support that if someone wanted to go that direction, they would be there in spirit. I truly feel that gone are the days of bra burning and sit-ins, and more are the days of wrist bands, go fund me pages, and online petitions.

I struggle with the idea of slactivism because I think it may make things worse. I truly feel that words don’t matter as much as actions when it comes to supporting a cause. One can not, and should not just be an activist on social media, but be an activist in mind, body, spirit and actions. I feel that slacktivism is creating an issue with true support for causes. Slactivism hinders the importance of in person, boots on the ground activism, that truly makes a difference.

How often are emails ignored from activists trying to support a cause. Hashtags, social media comments are read, but really what is done?

slack round of applause
Source: theflounce.com

Not much. Sure it may make society a bit more aware of issues that are occurring, but really are issues more “band wagons” that people jump on, just to “be involved”.  Are a lot of the issues presented just gimmicks? Hashtags created by people who really won’t follow through with anything. Our natural instincts want us to help others… so does this satisfy our natural need? Or is this just a huge problem with slactivism? 

Am I saying slactivism doesn’t work? SORT OF!!! Slactivism raises online awareness of topics, but it really doesn’t get stuff done. Today’s society of tweeters and bloggers must stop hiding behind their screens and start making a true difference through actions…not shares.

Check out my poll, I am interested to see how people see themselves. Slactivist or not??

Until next time…..

 

 


Identity, integrity and our digital footprint….

When addressing digital identity it is essential to not only evaluate my digital identity, as an educator, but also and most important educate my students and children on how to make a positive impact through their own digital footprints.

digital footprint
source: Thinglink.com

I think the most important idea around our digital identity is ensuring that we ourselves, take care of our own digital footprints, because the sad reality in today’s world is that if we don’t take care our our own footprint, someone else will take it upon themselves to do it and it likely won’t be very pretty.

 

Why do I say this? Well comments and recent news articles about digital identity thefts have really got me thinking about our society and our digital use and identity. No matter how much technology frustrates me, and is scary, it’s here and I have to embrace it. I will admit, I am a Facebook and Instagram frequent flyer; a lot of spare minutes I find myself reaching for my phone, checking Facebook, watching live posts, or scrolling through Instagram. I keep up with what people eat, wear, when they hit the gym, and what they are doing with their lives. A great way to keep in touch with so many people around the globe, I also find myself wondering why I am wasting so much time on these sites and apps. Well the answer is, I have to… I have to not only keep up with what is going on, but also ensure that I am not being misidentified in our social media world.

As an educator and a parent, it is my duty to, through positive role modelling, show young people that their digital identity is essential in today’s world, and that there is a way to have a positive digital identity, while still frequenting social media apps like twitter, snapchat, and Instagram.

A strong message that must be communicated is that of integrity. As Sapna B. stated in her blog post, a key word in the definition of digital identity is the word PERMANENT. What students are posting online are permanent and can be permanently damaging.

Michelle Clark, explains digital footprints and our digital identity through her TED talk and emphasizes the impact on our personal livelihoods.

Michelle also explains that when we make our lives public, it’s hard to keep a secret. I believe this is a message that must be emphasized for our students and children.
Students in today’s society are looking to create their own identities through social media and the digital world. Social media is influencing this drastically and because of this, truthfulness must be stressed. We can’t hide from the digital world, but we must understand the impacts, both positively and negatively, it can make on our world and our futures. This link, created by POWTOON explains 5 ways to make a positive digital footprint.


Until next week….


Is 90% of what is learned in schools today irrelevant??

A common message seemed to exist in this weeks’ reading and my research… ‘what we are learning now in schools is likely irrelevant and that knowledge is obsolete.’ This is very disturbing to me as an educator dealing with student engagement and motivation in schools.

curriculum key

Dave Perkins‘ video interview suggests that we need to “rethink how the curriculum is organized”.  There also must be an emphasis on what’s worth learning.  As educators we are constantly bombarded with curriculum and outcomes that must be legally covered per grade level for students, but is this the correct way to organize education for students?  Is this limiting teachers to teach within a “box” and not allowing them to teach relevant information to students, that will be utilized and that will engage them?

 

As Professor Dave Perkins states… “Curriculum is one of the most resistant fronts of education”.  This is supported by Michael Wesch’s suggestion that it is essential to ask a student what it’s like being a student today and what is important for them to know.  Curriculum doesn’t take this into consideration.  They are outcomes that students must meet without students’ input. Is this curriculum actually valid to know in the eyes of a student? How do we as educators prioritize what must be taught for the engagement of the students, and what will benefit them on the “real world”, and wast we have to teach. What do others think?  Does curriculum limit and narrow educators in allowing students to develop knowledge deeply and relevantly?

Pavan Arora suggests that we must teach creativity…. we must teach how to access, assess and apply knowledge in our lives. Is this even possible within our parameters of curriculum, budget, privacy issues, religious restrictions, mental health issues, socio- economic issues and so much more. What does one do when so many students fear to take risks and be creative? How much adaptations and assignment variations can occur within the realm of teaching content? Can creativity really be taught when there are so many barriers?

creativity
Image: diygenius.com

 

This week truly brought many questions of how?  I look forward to comments #eci831.


Our Duty to Educate…

Online behavior is such an essential skill in today’s society. As educators it is our duty to assist students in becoming positive digital citizens. People assume that in so many aspects, children can just do things, that they just pick things up, but in reality everything must be taught. From the very beginning;  first steps, first words… children must be taught how to properly and safely function. This includes using social media in their lives.

Who hasn’t heard of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn (to name just a few). My mother, a 73 year old Polish immigrant, part of the traditionalist or silent generation, speaks extremely broken English, knows the various social media apps that exist in today’s society… but this doesn’t mean that she knows how to use these resources correctly, safely and without issue. Because of this unknown, it is essential that students of all ages are taught constructive online behavior. This must occur through modeling from educators.

When one refers to students, I feel they automatically think of young people, learning in schools, but often adult learners are forgotten. It is so important to not only address the generation z’s but also the baby boomers or any other generations that would be learning to use social media apps. Human characteristics are similar no matter what age, and it is essential to educate everyone to “think before they post”.  What are  your thoughts about our duty as educators?

think before you post


Entering a tech-world I am not comfortable in…. #GenXProblems

My name is Christina Kaluza-Hughes and I am a proud generation Xer. I was born in 1978, which makes me part of the “middle child” generation.

I struggle with technology, and am embarrassed about it.  I can use the basic social media tools, and online tools, but I have to admit that I don’t truly feel confident in using technology.  Feeling like I am a bit of a reject, I found this. A large majority of  people struggle with technology, so I felt a little bit at ease moving forward in this blog.

I have been pondering this blog since it was assigned. My first thoughts about blogging are the it’s “so not me”.  I am a very private person, and not really the most creative person with my words.   I have been struggling to build up the confidence to begin.  What do I say?  Where do I start? How do I do this? These are all questions that are racing through my head. My husband and 3 sons went away for the weekend camping but I stayed, saying I had to stay home and work on my grad class…. so I spent 3 hours staring at a computer screen trying to figure out where to begin.

So here it goes…..

Event though I am terrified of technology…. I want to learn.  I want to better myself, not only as person, but as an educator.  Reality is, technology is not going away, so rather than fighting and pushing back, I want to embrace it (cautiously). As a generation Xer, the struggle is real. #GenXProblems exist in a world that is focused on helping the millennials and Gen Y achieve professional success, and support the baby boomers in a fast paced changing world.  A somewhat “forgotten generation” in the middle of huge change. So I will embrace this learning, as I am confident that I will utilize the skills I will learn….because I always do.