Category Archives: MOOC

The End is only the beginning. The Journey Continues…

I am sad that this semester is at an end.  I looked forward to the EC&I 831 Tuesday night Zoom sessions and catching up with my classmates/colleagues on Twitter each day.  I’m sure the Twitter relationships will continue, but I am going to miss having our weekly session!  It would be fabulous to just open my classroom door and go visit these amazing folks to see what they’re doing with their students and collaborate on a more frequent basis.  Our PLN has been an incredible gift the past few months.

 

Continuing my journey

One thing that I know will not be coming to an end is my major learning project, because there is simply no end to my journey for truth and reconciliation.  There are important milestones to reach within the journey I have undertaken as an educator; what I have learned thus far has changed my approach to learning and teaching.  Since deciding to undertake this journey (which I blogged about in Can I be a Witness? and Starting a Journey of Reconciliation) I have immersed myself in history and witnessing all I can possibly witness within the time I have available.

Here, then, is a brief summary of my learning journey…

Reading

I re-read large sections of Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools by J.R. Miller and A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System 1879-1996 by John S. Milloy – books that I read years ago during my undergrad degree.  Simply put, I have found these two books to be quite an extensive history of the Residential School System in Canada, and they are excellent primary sources for any questions I have (or my students have) about the schools.

I also read a variety of novels and plays and began incorporating them into my teaching.  Some of my new favourites:

I’m also reading Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline… and it is likely to be on my favourties list in the near future.

Enrolling

I enrolled in a MOOC through the University of Alberta entitled Indigenous Canada.  I have completed 10 of the 12 modules (13 out of 15 course hours) and am really looking forward to finishing the course.   In my research and my curation of content for my Wakelet collections, I’ve found another MOOC through the University of Toronto that I intend to enroll in for next semester entitled Aboriginal Worldviews and Education.  I’m very thankful for the Open courses that are allowing me to learn so much from the comfort of my home without high tuition charges.

Collaborating

I joined a Truth and Reconciliation PLC (Professional Learning Community) in my school division, thanks to Curtis Bourassa and our FNMI consultant Raquel Oberkirsch.  We met for a full day of sharing and working together, with more meetings to come over the course of the year.  We are, collectively, working with resources and developing connections to curricula.  The high school (grades 10-12) teachers in the PLC have been tasked with examining the Treaty Outcomes and deciding which course(s) they best fit with to ensure they are thoroughly and respectfully embedded in appropriate content areas to provide meaningful treaty education.

 

Witnessing 

There were two major cultural events that had a large impact on me during the past few months – the Jeremy Dutcher concert on October 19 and the chamber opera, Missing, on November 8.  I blogged about the Jeremy Dutcher concert in Enrolling in MOOCs and Enjoying Live Music and discussed the opera in Where are they? MMIWG.

A new thing I learned is the making of Tobacco Ties or Prayer Ties.  Raquel (our FNMI consultant) demonstrated how to assemble the ties, discussed the colours of cloth and string, and we talked about the preferences a knowledge keeper or elder may have surrounding these.  The basics of making Tobacco Ties can be found HERE.  The most important piece to remember is that the making of Tobacco Ties or Prayer Ties should be done with reverence and respect, with good thoughts for the intended recipient.

Tobacco Ties
An example of Tobacco Ties

 

Another treasure I found is the movie The Grizzlies, based on a true story.  In a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America, a group of Inuit students’ lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse. (source)  With suicides among First Nations in the recent news, the movie is an excellent vehicle to get students to think about this critical issue.  The movie is powerful and moving.  Besides being an excellent film, the story about how the film was made is also inspiring.  Everyone involved in the project was committed to portraying the story in as authentic a manner as possible, from choosing the setting to casting the actors.  (To learn more about the making of the movie, see the article HERE).

 

Meeting

With my love of writing and stories, which I’ve discussed in numerous blog posts over the last few years, I was thrilled to meet and listen to Ernie Louttit.

“Indian Ernie” – a name he was given on the streets – is the author of three books.  In his talk with our students, he described how:

  • he joined the military and became a police officer despite being on his way to the bar!
  • language is power and he has a huge love for learning.
  • to be a good law enforcement officer, one must be a good story teller and have the ability to use words to recreate and tell the story about an incident.
  • being able to communicate effectively is important for ALL future goals and career aspirations.

As one of the key figures in seeing that justice was served in the Neil Stonechild case and who was instrumental in bringing down the “big guys” in the solvent huffing epidemic in Saskatoon, Ernie stated that he “doesn’t care who gets the credit, just so long as the job gets done.”  He challenged our students to “Be a Leader every day!  Encourage the people around you!”

 

Curating

Learning about Wakelet has been an absolute game changer for me both personally and professionally.  Saving tweets, teaching ideas, resources, articles to read, coaching ideas, Instagram posts… I have 25 collections right now with over 366 bookmarks.  I’ve downloaded the app on my mobile devices and added the extension to my Google browsers on each computer I use.

The collections I curated to document and enhance my learning project are all set to “Public” and can be copied for anyone wishing to use the resources I have collected.  I am adding to the collections as I discover new resources that I can use with students in my classes and would love to have contributors to my collections – please reach out to me if you would like to be a contributor to any of my collections and I would gladly add you!

Here are the links to each of the Wakelets that relate to my learning project:

It looks like a long list, but quite honestly, I feel like I have only scratched the surface and there is so much left to learn.  But, I have a lifetime in which to learn and I know I will continue to add to the collections as part of my ongoing journey.

 

Teaching

“When we know better, we do better” as the saying goes.  I don’t know if I’m a “master” teacher yet or if I will ever get there.  I still make a LOT of mistakes, lessons sometimes flop, I lose track of time, my pacing isn’t great sometimes … but I’m pretty good at learning!

The truths I have learned and the amazing stories I have witnessed over the past couple months while on the journey of my learning project will be shared with my classmates, my students, my colleagues, and anyone who wishes to use my Wakelets.  I hope that the collections can teach others and help them with their own learning journey.

As an educator committed to truth and reconciliation, I will use what I have learned to aid in building students’ capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

Thank you for this opportunity to learn.  

 

P.S. Visit me on Wakelet!

The End of a Journey: Summary of Learning

The making of my Summary…

Maybe because I’m a bit nuts, I have always challenged myself to use a new tool for the Summary of Learning projects I’ve done for my grad classes with Alec.  This go-around was no exception.  I narrowed my choices down to two: Genial.ly and Sutori. Ultimately I chose Sutori because it had the least amount of options for creation!  Both can be used as presentation tools… but Genial.ly has WAY more capabilities than just a presentation tool and I did not want to fall into a rabbit hole.  Check it out for yourself!

Because I knew I wanted a way to include links to some of the content but still needed a way to share my learning in a “watchable” format for class, I “presented” my Summary of Learning on Sutori and captured it using Screencastify.  The link to the presentation on Sutori is here –SUMMARY OF LEARNING PRESENTATION.   When you view it as a presentation, you will notice the arrow beside some text.  Click on the arrow and it will open a hyperlinked site for you. 

The one link that I think everyone needs to explore is Top Tools for Learning 2019.  We have talked about or used a variety of these within our class this semester, but some of them are new to me and I am looking forward to exploring them.

As mentioned in my Summary and on Twitter, I curated a Wakelet of some of the Ed Tech we used this semester in class – check it out HERE.  I’d love to have more contributors – shoot me a message!  (and yes, I know I have a grammar error in my Tweet.  Ugh.)

As I mentioned, I used Screencastify to capture the entire presentation as well as to record a Star Wars Intro Crawler I created using part of our course syllabus.  Unfortunately this got cut from the presentation because my video became too long!  So, for your viewing pleasure, here you go!

 

 

A couple more tools:

I used Bitmoji for the cute little avatar likenesses – Bitmoji Kyla is way more put together than Real Life Kyla this last week, that’s for sure!

Bitmoji Image

 

and I used Canva to create two of the images in the presentation:

The Big Four – EC&I 831
Social Medium Exploration

 

Those are the highlights!  I hope you enjoy my summary of learning as much as I enjoyed my time in class this semester!

KYLA’S TOP TAKEAWAY from class:  Wakelet.  It has changed how I organize information in all aspects of my life.  Seriously.

 

Riding the #wakeletwave

 

I humbly present my Summary of Learning for EC&I 831.

Disclaimer:  I have a terrible cold and my nose is red and runny… hence, no webcam views of me.  You’re welcome.

 

Share the Wealth (of Knowledge)!

Like most people, I wear multiple hats:

  • Related imagewife
  • mother of three (two teenagers at home and one grown and on her own!)
  • full time teacher – face to face 40% and online classes 60%
  • competitive cheerleading coach/advisor (five teams at my club and four teams at my school)
  • graduate student
  • sister
  • aunt

I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone that some days are hard – being committed to others and having responsibilities can be overwhelming.  As a mom, I always feel I need to be “on” – there is no vacations or time off from being a mother!  As the oldest member of my family (my parents both passed away within the last two years), I feel a big responsibility for my siblings, even though they are all “grown ups” who can manage just fine on their own.  As a teacher and coach, being prepared is vital to the success of my students or athletes, as well as nurturing their emotional and social growth.  With so much going on in my world, you can imagine that things can get hectic at times.  It is absolutely essential for me to have systems in place to manage all the different aspects of my life successfully.

First and foremost – my people.  There is a reason why elders are revered in so many cultures; they hold the most wisdom!  I learned how to be a mom by watching other mothers in my family.  I had a huge support system of grandparents, aunts, and uncles to call on for advice and guidance.  Being from a small town and having a supportive community was another bonus when I was growing up and has guided me in raising my children.  Having other humans to rely on for information, support, guidance, and food/coffee delivery was (and is!) critical to my success.  No one has asked me for a dime for the lessons I learned from them (not yet, anyway!).  In addition to having these role models in my personal life, I have also been privileged with some exceptional mentorship in my professional life as well.  Without the support, guidance, and shared knowledge of those educators, I would definitely not be the teacher I am today.  Those who have been willing to share, collaborate, and plan cooperatively are the real MVPs of the teaching profession! Infinite high fives!

Since I entered the education system in 1980 at the age of five, there has been a (r)evolution in educational theories, especially since the internet became more easily accessible.  It has lead us to the present day where Open Education is becoming more common and connects all learners who are willing and able (and who have the technological tools to participate).  In the video Inspiring Leaders, Tony Bates answers a series of questions posed to him about Open Education.  He says that as instructors, we need to be aware of what kind of skills students will need to move forward and be successful contributors to our society.

Tony Bates’ book Teaching in a Digital Agerecently updated (October 10, 2019), is an important read for today’s educators.  Bates writes “Although the book contains many practical examples, it is more than a cookbook on how to teach. It addresses the following questions:

  • is the nature of knowledge changing, and how do different views on the nature of knowledge result in different approaches to teaching?
  • How do I balance the demands of my discipline with developing the skills that students will need in a digital age?
  • what is the science and research that can best help me in my teaching?
  • how do I decide whether my courses should be face-to-face, blended or fully online?
  • what strategies work best when teaching in a technology-rich environment?
  • what methods of teaching are most effective for blended and online classes?
  • how do I make choices among all the available media, whether text, audio, video, computer, or social media, in order to benefit my students and my subject?
  • how do I maintain high quality in my teaching while managing my workload?
  • what are the real possibilities for teaching and learning using MOOCs, OERS, open textbooks?”

According to the website opensource.com, “Open education is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge.  Proponents of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they work to eliminate barriers to this goal. Such barriers might include high monetary costs, outdated or obsolete materials, and legal mechanisms that prevent collaboration among scholars and educators.”

Image result for Open educational resources

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others.  With the internet, universal access to education is possible, but its potential is hindered by increasingly restrictive copyright laws and incompatible technologies. The Open Education program at Creative Commons works to minimize these barriers, supporting the CC mission through education, advocacy and outreach on using the right licenses and open policies to maximize the benefits of open educational resources (OER) and the return on investment in publicly funded education resources. Our work cuts across all levels of education (primary – secondary – tertiary) and sectors of industry (non-profit – corporate – government).”  ~source

This short video explains a bit more:

Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

 

As fabulous as Open Education is  -and it truly is remarkable! – it also has some drawbacks.  It is the so-called “business” of education where I am most torn.  We pay a lot of money for a university education that allows us the opportunity to become educators.  We learn from others and use various resources to further our own knowledge in the hopes that we will get that “permanent contract” and make a living by making a difference in the lives of our students.  We pour hours of hard work into our lessons, developing our resources, and figuring things out for our students.  My classmate Amy also discussed this in her blog post.  She wrote:

“A quote that is often used amongst my colleagues and I is “sharing is caring.” … Sharing resources with each other is just a common thing that we regularly do. However in recent years I have become more conscious of the amount of time, effort, and resources that are going into those projects, assignments, and lesson plans that I have been so freely sharing while others are posting similar content on Teachers Pay Teachers and getting paid for their work. I am now conflicted on whether or not resources in education should be open and free or whether they should require some form of acknowledgement, copyright, or payment. “

I feel very similar to Amy!  Using the work of other teachers, tweaked to fit my circumstances, has saved my sanity more times than I can count.  Am I critical of these resources?  Not the way you might think!  I look for the “good bones” within a resource that I come across all while thinking about what I might need to do in order to make it work for my students within our learning context.  But still, even knowing that I am profoundly grateful for all who share their resources with me, I am very hesitant to share anything that I have developed.  Not because I want compensation (although that might be nice every now and then!) but because I don’t feel like what I have created is “good enough” for anyone else to use.  It is likely my own perfectionism that prevents me from sharing the resources that I’ve developed.  My classmate Dean says on his blog on this topic “sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy the learning experience for yourself and more often than not the material you share will reach at least one person ‘out there’ even if you don’t get a response.”

I currently have an amazing intern working alongside me, sharing her knowledge with my students, and teaching this old dog some new tricks.  She is the fourth intern I have had in my eleven years of teaching.  Each had their own strengths and brought so many great things to the classroom that I have incorporated into my own teaching practice.  I remember being in their shoes – it really wasn’t that long ago – and I had various experiences.  Some veteran teachers were more than willing to share their resources, but others were hesitant or outright refused (even locking their filing cabinet so I couldn’t peek at their materials!).  My classmate Dean had a similar experience early in his career as well.  It really makes me wonder if those veteran teachers were also fearful of being criticized.  It is for those reasons that I am completely open to sharing with colleagues and interns, but always with the disclaimer “this might be total crap, but you are more than welcome to use it however you see fit!”

Having access to information and to human resources is absolutely critical to my success.  I am thankful to all the teachers and coaches in my life who have so freely shared their time, their information, and their resources with me, especially my colleagues in the ELA Instructional Team at Weyburn Comprehensive School.  Sharing our knowledge doesn’t deplete our wisdom; instead, it expands our potential for learning and growth.

A few folks have shared their knowledge and resources with me over the years, and many of them went above and beyond to help me on my journey as an educator.  My immense gratitude to:

  • my high school ELA teachers – Randy Bangsund and Brenda King
  • incredible university instructors in my undergrad and certificate courses – Ken Probert, Therese Durston, and Valerie Mulholland
  • an amazing cooperating teacher during my internship – Cori Knelsen

In addition, Alec Couros’s EC&I courses and his approach to open education has literally changed my career – before taking his classes I never would have considered becoming an online educator.  Thank you, Alec!

There are many others, including my classmates over the course of my grad studies, who have been supportive, encouraging, and are always willing to share.  Thank you all!  I love how technology makes sharing with my PLN possible.

Who has shared their wealth of knowledge with you?  How will you pay it forward?

 

Keep Calm and Share your knowledge

Enrolling in MOOCs and Enjoying Live Music

The past week has been a big week for me with respect to my major learning project, which I discussed in my blog post Can I Be a Witness and then narrowed down in Starting a Journey of Reconciliation on October 8.

Module One Complete!
Module One: Worldview – COMPLETE!

First, I enrolled in a MOOC (on Coursera) from the University of Alberta entitled Indigenous Canada.  The U of A has an extensive listing of Indigenous Resources – check it out here!  I chose the free option, but there is a certificate version as well which costs about $70.  The twelve module course explores Indigenous histories from an Indigenous perspective and touches on issues important for understanding past and current relationships between Indigenous and settler societies.  So far, I have completed the module for Week 1, which deals with Indigenous Worldview.

 

The remaining eleven modules are:  Fur Trade; Trick or Treaty; New Rules, New Game; “Killing the Indian in the Child”; A Modern Indian?; Red Power; Sovereign Lands; Indigenous Women; Indigenous in the City; Current Social Movements; and ‘Living’ Traditions – Expressions in Pop Culture and Art.

So far, I’m really enjoying the MOOC.  It is pertinent and relevant information, presented in a variety of formats.  There are instructional videos that have transcripts, as well as readings and quizzes.  There are MOOCs from other institutions (such as this one from UBC) that I will pursue after I have completed this online course;  however, I chose the one from U of A for my initial course to enroll in based on the historical range of topics and the relevance to my project as well as my teaching.

I’m a bit of a nerd – I really like taking classes!  But I also enjoy attending live performances, which leads me to the next part of my learning this week – I attended a concert at the Conexus Arts Centre:   Jeremy Dutcher with the RSO.

A member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Jeremy first did music studies in Halifax before taking a chance to work in the archives at the Canadian Museum of History, painstakingly transcribing Wolastaq songs from 1907 wax cylinders. ‘Many of the songs I’d never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act.’ Jeremy heard ancestral voices singing forgotten songs and stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago.  As he listened to each recording, he felt his own musical impulses stirring from deep within.  Long days at the archives turned into long nights at the piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, deep in dialogue with the voices of his ancestors.  These ‘collaborative’ compositions collected together on his debut LP Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.  ~ taken from the artist biography in “Encore”

Dutcher won the Polaris Prize and the award for Indigenous music album of the year at the 2019 Junos for Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.  If you happened to watch the Junos, you would have seen him get his acceptance speech cut off, and then (if you watched until the end) you would have seen rock group The Arkells give up their time and invite Dutcher back to the stage to finish what he started – CBC’s segment on this can be viewed here.  It was a powerful moment and you can read the transcript of his speech(es) here.

 

The cover of “Encore” featuring a photograph of Jeremy Dutcher.

 

 

 

 

 

The song list for the evening – every single piece was by Indigenous musicians or was influenced by Indigenous traditional music.

 

 

In his message within “Encore,” Jeremy explained

an elder from my First Nation asked me to help bring our songs home.  These traditional songs had been recorded on wax cylinders over a century ago and now reside at the Canadian Museum of History.  It was her greatest hope to hear these songs live among the people again; She told me, “When I hear those old voices qoss//son, I hear symphonies.”  I did too, and thus began the work which lead to this evening.

I have lived my life at the intersections.  Where white meets native, classical meets traditional, old meets new meets future.  What I understand now is that #ourmusicbelongs to all.  Our songs carry the beauty and passion of an opera aria and our stories rival any great european drama. Thank you … for opening your ears and hearts to the sounds of my nation.

 

The first of Jeremy’s songs that was played was “Honour Song.”  My other favourite of the night was “Mehcinut.”  I’ve linked the official video version of “Mehcinut” for you … as it is a must watch.  The orchestral arrangements, the use of the original wax cylinder recordings (in digitized form) throughout the concert, and the choice of accompanying music when Dutcher was not performing – all perfection.  We heard orchestral selections from Cris Derksen (“Round Dance“) and the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Dutcher also sang Sainte-Marie’s song, “Until It’s Time for You to Go,” accompanied by the RSO.  Incredible.

 

I’ve been a subscriber to the RSO Shumiatcher Pops series for several years, and I have never heard anything quite like this concert.  I tweeted about it that night when I got home because I was just so moved (Jeremy Dutcher was the first to like my tweet, so that was nice!).  It was an emotional and magical experience.  Woliwon//Thank you.

 

The music of Buffy Sainte-Marie is already something I use in my classroom.  She has such a broad range of work and it can fit into a variety of contexts within my senior ELA classes.  I’ve used it within Creative Writing, too!  I am excited to add the music of Jeremy Dutcher – currently brainstorming ways to incorporate the story of his work with the wax cylinders that resulted in his album, as well as his recordings.

(His work is available on vinyl – oohhh how amazing vinyl sounds.  I wish more albums were available on vinyl)

Thank you for reading and following my learning journey!  Do you have some favourite indigenous musicians whose work you use within your classroom?  I’d love to hear your ideas and how you incorporate them into your curricula!

 

 

 

We Were on a Break!

Social Media.  Love it or loathe it, there seems to be no escaping its influence.  I remember a time before the internet was even a thing… and all the stages in between. Some of my fellow classmates are probably too young to remember the good old days of dial-up!   ICQ, MSN Messenger, MySpace, … my goodness how far we have come!

Image result for social media
Does your personal device look like you are consumed by social media?

The negatives of social media can seem overwhelming.  It’s a bit like a vampire, sucking time and energy from our lives.  In the wrong hands, it can be dangerous – cyberbullying, fraudulent interactions such as catfishing or even identity theft.  It is scary to think about all of the personal information that we release just by picking up our phones and scrolling through Facebook or by having our locations tracked in Snapchat (which I do not have and will NEVER download) or … is there any danger with Twitter other than I can blink and an hour has gone by while I read people’s rants on politics or get chatting with colleagues in my PLN? 

Though I feel social media is a necessity for our cheer gym and for me as a personal networking tool, I worry about the privacy of my own data and that of our students who may not be the most savvy of digital citizens.  I feel pressure to answer messages right away or to be checking my social media platforms continually.  As a result, I schedule regular “power downs” and completely disconnect from all social media for at least 24-48 hours.  In the summer, I’ll often go longer.  Does anyone else require frequent breaks from social media in order to protect their own sanity?

But, despite the dangers and all of the not so wonderful things about it, social media can also be a fantastic way to connect with others across great distances.  It is a fantastic collaborative space where I can get inspired for my lessons, find new resources, and connect with other classrooms or educators around the globe.  My best friend met her husband in a chat room in 2000… so I do know that connections forged online can be lasting and meaningful.  The power at our fingertips is absolutely incredible when you think about it.

Professionally, social media is an absolutely critical component of my learning and growth as an educator.   As so many of my fellow EC&I classmates have said, the connections we have with one another online help to strengthen our practice.  We can be continually learning and growing professionally with access to MOOCs and the interactive nature of social media.  But that also can bring a bit of a negative – continually comparing oneself to others online and feeling inferior.  As my classmate Amanda said in her blog post, “When I see all of the creative, thought provoking, and engaging things that other teachers are doing in their classroom, it’s hard not to compare myself to them.”  I totally agree, Amanda.  And a small part of me wonders if somewhere out there, maybe someone feels that way about my posts.  I hope not… because I am fully in the “fake it until you make it your reality” school of life. 

Though the following infographic is slightly dated (RIP Google+), I found this to be pretty spot on for the pros and cons of some of the most popular social media.  Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are the ones I use the most, and Twitter now that I’m getting used to using it (still hate it on a mobile device).  

pros and cons of social media
Which platform is your personal favourite?

Probably the most incredible thing about the power of social media for me, so far, has been the ability to connect with others and grow in my confidence and abilities as a teacher.  An inquiry I jokingly made last semester when I was in EC&I 834 – “How the heck does a person become an online teacher around here?” – has led me to a slight change in my career this year, all thanks to social media and a few awesome people who pushed me in the proper direction.  

How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways?  I’d love to hear your stories!