It’s all Over but the Framing

“Pick something to learn that is highly interesting to you” is like music to my ears! I’m sad that the formal portion of this project is over and my product isn’t quite complete, but yet I’ve learned some really rich lessons that I’ll describe in full detail later on in the post. BUT FIRST! Update time!
My baby aloe plant is quite precious, though it maybe has a bad hair day?? Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what all transpired, everything was going according to plan and then all of a sudden I had to create an extra shoot on the right side. Normally this sort of deviation to the plan would send me into a bit of perfectionist mode and I would want to start the whole thing over, but clearly there is just not time for that sort of ridiculous behaviour. So today I’m choosing to be gracious with my learning and my less than perfect product and I am actually seeing the beauty in it!
In teaching there will be lessons that we prepare for long hours and hope that they go off without a hitch, but when the hitches happen we have a choice to make. We can either be upset with how things have gone or we can learn and move on. Most of the time there’s much more joy and growth in learning something and moving forward (though certainly there is a time and place where wrongs must be made right and apologies need to be made, don’t get me wrong!).
At any rate, this week I’ve been wrapping things up and learning to fly off the grid with the project. When I realized I’d made an error, I went straight to Youtube to see how easily fixed this was. Here’s what I found:

In the end, I decided that I had made all of the mistakes minus the third one in the first video (not having a big enough piece of fabric) and I was able to fix most of them, until now. Then I watched the second video and realized that going back to where my error was would take me an incredible amount of time. I decided to chalk this one up to being a newby and I’ll learn to count better on my next project!

I plan to frame this project as a symbol of perseverance and patience to see this project through. There were moments where I wondered if this day would ever come!

So, as promised above, here are the learnings and a recap of this project in case you missed it!
Week 1: Adventures of a Left Handed Cross-Stitcher
The first week I gave a super brief introduction of my project and what I intended to do with this whole idea of mind. I had really no direction and had just committed to doing some research to find out where to begin. As it turns out, there are TONS of free, online resources on cross-stitching, and being left-handed is not a deficit at all to this activity (unlike most other sewing tasks).
I also decided that I should gather all of the materials that I might need for this venture. I included the less than technical names for the materials. It’s a little cringy but so fun to see even the vocabulary that I picked up in a short amount of time!

Week 2: I Don’t Have Much of a Green Thumb
This week I chose a pattern and got straight into it. My idea that I might practice first went out the window when I couldn’t contain my curiosity! I did however do some research on what the materials were called that I was using. I learned that fabric is actually aida cloth, the needle is described as a dull cross-stitching needle or a darning needle, the hoop is called an embroidery hoop, and the thread is actually called embroidery floss or embroidery thread.

The next thing I looked for was a pattern. I picked the one I liked best and that I thought I could handle—I didn’t know what to go with, but I did make a realistic choice.  Realistic for a beginner means, simple shapes (anything with a curve or on an angle adds an extra challenge, so linear patterns are easier), next you want to try to avoid tons of colour changes/fades, they add extra steps that can be a little bit on the difficult side.  All of that to say, be brave, I picked a pattern with angles and a few colours and it worked out totally fine!

Etsy has some really beautiful patterns as well, though you do have to pay for most of them.



These were the tutorials that I watched and modelled my project after **since I’ve learned a few of my own preferences, so it’s worth checking out the later posts to see what tips and tricks I discovered!**
Week 3: Stitching 3.0
I worked through basically restarting my project during week three. Things were not going well with the embroidery hoop that I had chosen to use—I couldn’t keep the tension that I needed and I had zero clue how to fix mistakes that I’d made. This made for a great opportunity to troubleshoot some of the problems I was experiencing and to ask some local experts too (my mother!). After discovering that scroll frames were really useful for the project and that it would simplify what I was doing I dove into moving my project and continuing to stitch (and figuring out how to fix mistakes too!).
Week 4: It’s a Bird…It’s a Watering Can…No, it’s Half a Plant!
I was on a roll by week four! There wasn’t really a new skill development this week, I was just at a place where the project was super time consuming and repetitive. It went like this:
– Count your stitches
– Recount your stitches
– Stich three, take one out because you didn’t count properly
– Get on a roll
– Conquer the pattern
It felt really good to see my half a plant take shape—though I’ll admit I was a slight bit discouraged that I wasn’t seeing the full product immediately (I guess we live in a day where instant gratification is what we grow accustomed to!). The time lapse that I posted is an accurate representation of where I spent countless hours stitching away. I’ll be honest, I need to get a magnifying glass before I attempt a project like this again!
Week 5: Teach me How to Stitch
A newby teaching! This is how my last three and a bit years of uni have been. There is no end to the feelings of “am I doing this right” and “is this good enough” but I decided in the end that I just needed to go for it and share what I had learned. When I started my only knowledge was that I had watched my mom stitch away and it seemed tedious. So from literally knowing nothing but an educated guess on the process to completing a project I am fairly proud of the progress (which you might be able to tell in the way that I talked in the video!).
Week 6: It’s All Over but the Framing
It. Is. Done. What a marathon! When I was talking to my mom about this project she informed me that she usually takes months to complete a project so my feelings of being slow or not creating a huge project basically faded away. I was remined again of the importance of community when you’re learning. It’s so easy to judge your journey by looking at someone else’s highlight reel and it’s so not productive. In this last week I learned to improvise, to be patient, and to let go of some of the imperfections…and also how to back stitch! Here’s a video on that process! I still need to frame this project, but I’m going to take it in to be stretched an done properly. For now I’ll keep it on the cute oblong hoop and be quite satisfied with a learning curve well conquered. I’m actually a little bit inspired to learn to attempt crocheting after seeing Ashley’s final product too!!
In any case, thanks for following along on my journey!
Until next time,

Advertisements

Making Connections

We know that no person is an island in the education world, but sometimes we feel like we’re totally alone.  EDTC 300 has been a class that has totally challenged that norm through constant connectivity and conversation.  If the goals of this course were met, there should have been no person left behind.

via GIPHY

Reagan’s Tweet was so fitting as I was writing this post.  I was feeling the same way about the community that I’ve gained through #edtc300!

We were able to connect through Twitter, Slack, Zoom, and our blogs through comments, replies, retweets, and likes.  Sometimes all you need is just a little encouragement to get through the day, or to know that someone sees you and thinks your doing a great job.  I think at the core of who we are, that’s what people crave.  We want to be known, seen, and heard. Obviously through a class our interactions were more professional than personal, but it was still so cool to connect with people, to develop a PLN and to know that you’re not alone.

SO, how did I contribute to others learning?

In many ways, this class has felt like a whirlwind, six weeks blows by before you even recognize it and at this point, remembering week one is hard! I’ve taken some screen shots to help me out and to give you a bit of an idea.

via GIPHY

Twitter:

I created an account to begin my interactions and I started super simple by just retweeting interesting articles or things that resonated with me.

I found classmates to connect with as well as some educators from other parts of Canada and the United States.

Feedly helped me to organize content and then from there I decided what I would share. I asked questions about various topics that required thought and had some replies from people I’ve never met and likely will never meet.  I also was excited when I would see that my classmates had answers to my questions and we could have a bit of a discussion.

WordPress:

Blogging can be so intimidating knowing that people are reading what you are writing!  I took the approach of being the encourager.  Especially when it came to commenting on learning projects I wanted my peers to know that I value their learning and that I was excited to see how their projects unfolded.

It’s especially nice to know that your readers aren’t there to judge you, they’re just there to support your learning.  I could also empathize with my peers when they would comment on the challenges that they were facing.

 

Slack:

I’ll be honest, this platform I found overwhelming.  I like to be able to solve problems on my own, so having a QandA section I found challenging to be vulnerable. I did ask a few questions and shared one post that I found particularly helpful for compiling progress into one document.  I also tried to answer other peoples questions when I felt that I had an answer or to find work-arounds for problems—not always successful, but an attempt or an idea is sometimes helpful even if it’s not the answer!  One area I did find that was nice was the private messaging that could happen, especially when asked to do posts with partners.  It was nice to not have to figure out how to get in contact with a classmate but rather to use Slack to do it! Mary-Anne and I used it to promote Twitter use in the classroom and it made the process much simpler!

Zoom:

During lectures I was engaged in what was being taught by taking notes and sharing ideas with the class.   I tried to answer questions in the chat as well as ask questions to the larger group.  This was surprisingly more intimidating than I first imagined, but when I got used to the process I found it easier!

And with that, I’ll conclude, there was so much learning that happened in the last six weeks, thanks for hanging out!

via GIPHY

 

Teach Me How to Stitch

This week week I had a chance to create a little how-to video of my learning.  I’ve shared bits of these skills along the way, but I figured I would create a video that I wish existed when I was beginning my project.  I found that there were tons of videos that could tell you in a really long-winded and complicated way how to do a basic cross stitch. However, what I was looking for was a quick “here’s how you do it” and then set you free.  I also found it frustrating when videos would show you how to cross stitch their pattern.  It’s not really helpful if you aren’t working on the same project!  All you need to know when you begin this type of stitching is how to do the basic stitch, you can figure the rest out as you go!

Some other wisdom I have to offer is has to do with picking patterns for beginners (because I just guessed).

  1. choose something that is simple: which means few colours and simple shapes
  2. don’t panic if you start SUPER slow
  3. it’s okay to start a few projects and work on them in little bits
  4. just because a pattern is big doesn’t mean that it’s hard
  5. if you like it, take the risk!

I used iMovie to create this quick clip and it was SO easy! Even with spotty farm internet it only took 20 minutes to upload to YouTube!

Until next time,

 

a little coding for your Saturday

Coding is a topic I have always stayed far away from (this is a phrase I feel like I say often when it comes to technology!).  I have friends who have had to learn coding in university and others who have found it interesting, so I felt like maybe I was alone in my fear of it, but I don’t think I am (otherwise sites like Code.org wouldn’t exist! This site was SO fun to explore…so fun that it turned into a family competition to see who could make the most challenging version.

via GIPHY

Since this was the first time that I had ever experimented with coding, I was trying it through the lens of a teacher to see if this might be useful in a classroom (specifically young elementary) someday. My initial thoughts were “is this necessary?” “is this just another make-work project?” and “this seems intimidating.”  I found this article which gives 8 solid reasons for kids to learn code–and they also recommend Code.org.

I’ll show you my process through the Hour of Code, aspects that I really appreciated, and some of my not-so-favourite-parts.

This was Step 2 of 10, you can see that it’s pretty basic.  It gives you a prompt for what it wants you to do and you click and drop them into the field on the right.  Afterwards you get to try out your code to see how successful or unsuccessful you were.

Flapping along to Step 4, you can see that they ask you to add a few more aspects–like deciding your Bird’s fate when it runs into an obstacle.

I’ll skip to a more interactive phase where I used ScreenCastify . to give you a little glimpse as to what you as the user are seeing when you try your code.


At this stage you can see that I was experimenting with sounds, flapping amount, the fate that my birdy would fall to should I hit an obstacle or the ground.

After this I had someone try out my code (the competition piece I mentioned in the beginning came in at this point).  My score was 13….but as you can see in this screenshot I lost by a LONG SHOT.   At that point I realized that I needed to make this a little bit more variable.  I thought I had previously by making some of the settings “random” but what I forgot to account for was that they would only be random when they were at “run” which is just the very beginning moments.  By changing some of the settings when you click, the game becomes much more challenging.

Coding Hour is great for young kids and the concept it pretty simple.  I think by introducing this in a group setting and working through it once together it might help to remove some of the intimidation and also help kids to become excited that they also can do the same thing!

Until next time,

 

Fake news is everywhere

How in a world of information overload and access do we decipher what is true and factual and what simply just is not?

I’ve been asking myself this a lot over the last few years while learning about using tech in the classroom and trying to figure out what I might eventually use in the classroom—my verdict until May of 2019 was NOTHING.  I would use tech as a teaching tool, but as far as teaching kids about it or using social media or documenting their own learning through technology I was pretty turned off.  I’d heard teachers complain that there wasn’t enough time in the day, not enough money in the budget, and little to no parent support.  Hearing all of these things I immediately felt like there was no point in learning about it if it wasn’t useful.  But then we had a few presentations in my university classes last semester on tech in the classroom. Presenters were real teachers who were able to explain how empowered students felt when they could document their progress, explain through voice recording or give a tour via video of their projects.  They described what were once reluctant students as now being full of curiosity and even passionate about different subjects.  This kind of chatter and excitement drove me to take EDTC 300, because what better way to learn how to use tech meaningfully than through a course that teaches you all about it?!

 

Through some reading this week, I explored the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to understand better their take on what it means to be literate in the 21st century. Here are my top take aways from the reading:

  1. Its great that you can read text—it’s not enough
  2. To be literate, you need to be able to use many technological tools
  3. Be intentional and create a network that has no borders—get to know people who differ in opinions, geographical location, and lifestyle than you
  4. Be able to share information for an audience of literally millions to read
  5. Be able to decode what you are reading (uncover bias, determine fact from opinion)
  6. Become critical thinkers—students should be showing growth in their learning
  7. In order to accomplish any of the above, you must give students opportunities to “drive”

So, how do I plan to incorporate the framework of digital literacy from the NCTE to my future elementary classroom?  Well, to be really honest, until I meet my students, I probably won’t know.  What I foresee in the second grade (which is the grade that I am interning in), is that students will come to school with a working knowledge of how to operate an iPad.  They will likely already know how to get from the home screen to Netflix or to where ever their favourite apps might be in seconds.  While this might appear to be impressive at first, we must realize that as teachers we need to not only curb the habit of blindly watching shows to pass our time or playing random things that are not helpful and teach kids how to use technology for a specific purpose.  On top of that, from a young age it is really important that we teach kids how to identify accurate content and news from “fake news.”  EdCanNetwork recommends that we consider using a media bias chart to help students to understand what political biases news outlets are influenced by.  @kbhildebrandt showed our class this one,

Which can be helpful in realizing that in order to get the whole story or at least a more balanced picture it might be beneficial to do some reading on both sides of the spectrum.  In elementary school, we could talk about using multiple sources to find information when we discuss the morning news.  I’ve always found this demonstration particularly interesting: you have someone walk into your classroom while everyone is silent.  This person moves about the room doing different things and then leaves without saying anything.  Afterwards you have your students record the event as they remember it happening.  Likely, you will get a slightly different spin on the event (eg. The person walked in the room on the left vs. the person walked into the room from the east entrance).  When you demonstrate to students that everyone has a different perspective, in a small way, you are showing students that in life, there will be people who have a totally different perspective from you on how something happened, or why it happened, and that’s okay.  What’s more important is that when you are hearing stories from someone, that it will be more accurate if you hear it from the source, rather than from someone who wasn’t there or who heard from their grandma that their neighbour said.  There was a TedEd video that I watched which explained that one of our biggest strategies in combating fake news is to verify facts before we share them—to check out the story in a few places.  It’s also good to check your emotional pull toward the event (just because you like the fact, doesn’t make it real).  Like this video says, “if everyone is a reporter, no one is.”

The five “c’s” that this video identifies can be really helpful: context (when it was written any new info), credibility (who are they?), construction (bias, omissions, facts vs. opinions), corroboration, compare (look at other sources who follow this criteria).  Students learn how to critically think when they are asked to look deeper into things.

Applying this to the SK Curriculum:

The Saskatchewan English Language Arts Curriculum lends itself really well to using technology not only at a substitution level, but also at redefinition level.

Below are three outcomes that I can see allow for tech to be used in grade 2:

CC2.1 compose and create

Compose and create a range of visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore:

  • identity (e.g., My Family and Friends)
  • community (e.g., Our Community)
  • social responsibility (e.g., TV Ads for Children) and make connections to own life.

CC2.3

  • Speak clearly and audibly in an appropriate sequence for a familiar audience and a specific purpose when recounting stories and experiences, giving directions, offering an opinion and providing reasons, and explaining information and directions.

AR2.1 assess and reflect on language abilities

  • Reflect on and assess their viewing, listening, reading, speaking, writing, and other representing experiences and strategies by participating in discussions and relating work to a set of criteria (e.g., “What did I learn?”).

For these outcomes you could have students recording their presentations, using editing software to create digital resources that might advocate for change.  When you record your learning digitally it becomes easy to see your progress (my blog being exhibit A!).

If you’ve read this far, I really appreciate it!  If you have any tips or thoughts I’m open to hearing all about it!

Until next time,

Larea

Did you mean for me to find that?

Never in my life have I thought about what I’ve posted online so much as I have in the last 48 hours, knowing that someone is looking for my name, my address, and anything else they can find.  It gives me a little bit of peace knowing that if anything I’m not aware of is found, at least I’ll know before I become famous!  Just kidding, but in all seriousness, we can talk about our digital identities and how important it is to guard them and to make sure that we are aware of what is going on, but it’s a whole other thing to actually take charge and monitor it.

As pre-service educators it’s important to think about the lenses that people view you from—there are colleuges, co-operating teachers, future employers, professors, students, and potentially students’ parents looking you up to see what kind of a human you are.  It’s no secret that what is posted online is fair game for anyone to see and it’s also likely that viewers of your accounts will pass judgements about you before they’ve even met you.

In Jon Ronson’s video he describes social media users rather ruthlessly saying if you “give us the power and we become like hanging judges.”  It’s far to easy for us to forget that humans make mistakes and that behind the screen there is a real person with a beating heart and emotions.  Words (or typed text) have a HUGE impact on people.

With that said, I also had the chance to take a peek at a classmate’s online presence.  I was relieved to find not much information.  @MissKarleeClark has kept her social media pretty tame.

I think as a total outsider looking in I would have little insight into her personal social life aside from what her high school graduation dress looked like—and I think that’s okay! Facebook and Instagram have privacy settings for a reason. That said, kudos to you Karlee for being proactive and locking those spaces up a little tighter for a specific audience.  Nicole Lee mentions in a post that having multiple social media accounts and in turn different personas just reinforces how multifaceted we are as humans.  By targeting different audiences through different platforms, it helps your followers to be more engaged and overall is helpful to networking.  The fastest way to disengage followers or friends on social media is to spam them with useless information that they don’t care about!

At any rate I appreciated that Karlee’s Twitter account and blogs were public so I could get a feel for who she is professionally and to see what steps she is taking towards were career in the education field.

I’m curious, what steps have you taken to make sure that your online identity is a positive presence?

Until next time,

It’s a bird…it’s a watering can…no, it’s half a plant!

Week four of cross-stitching has been the most relaxing! This week I sat down for a couple of hours at a time and worked on my project. I had a few errors to fix along the way, so the actual progress doesn’t look like a ton, but its exciting to see it take shape.  As you might be able to see from this time-lapse–I’m not a professional, but that’s not the point!

In prep for doing the outline of the pattern with a back stitch, I watched this video.  From what I can tell, I should be able to do it.

So a little bit of a summary:

  • week 2: I figured out how to use a cross stitching hoop & begin with the basic cross stitch
  • week 3: I learned how to use a scroll frame, how to fix errors & overall the importance of having tension
  • week 4 (this week): I’ve hit my stride (or my stitch!) and I’m moving along so that I can get to learning a few other stitches!

Thanks for following along!

Until next time,

 

Up for Debate

What would a discussion around technology in the classroom look like between a teacher and a parent? We tested it out…who is we: @mablekin and @johnsonlarea. Larea played the role of the teacher and Mary-Anne played the role of a concerned parent.

EDTC 300 is teaching us the importance of having positive conversations with our students regarding social media. Our classmate Serena shared a great resource about Digital Citizenship. Let us know your thoughts!

#EDTC300 is teaching us the importance of having positive conversations with our students regarding social media. Our classmate Serena shared a great resource about Digital Citizenship. Let us know your thoughts!

Let’s simplify some things

Have you ever wanted to share an article with your family, friends, or students but been afraid to because of what ads might pop up? ME TOO! All the time. You don’t want to be the pre-service teacher who has to quickly minimize the browser because the ads are less than ideal to be showing your students—or your mom!  At any rate, there’s a Chrome extension called Mercury Reader that will literally change the way that you feel about sharing your screen or printing off an article.   You can watch this quick tutorial video here for some amateur vlogging and explanation of the extension!

The extension itself is actually super simple. You just add the extension to Chrome and then when you open an article or web page, click on the icon at the top of your search engine and it will transform your screen from colourful, ad craziness to a simple space that’s easy to read!

In the classroom, this extension can be super useful by simply eliminating distractions for you and your students.

This extension would fit well into the Augmentation portion as it enhances online sources—but doesn’t change the function of a news article.  This beauty of this extension might actually be that it doesn’t change any of the fundamentals! No one thinks that having news articles online is a bad thing, but sometimes the rest of the ads can be a real downside.

Photo source here

Until next time,