Weekly Reflections

Contribution to Learning

One of the requirements of this class was to regularly comment and contribute to the learning of others. To be honest, commenting on others blogs and tweets was probably the thing I was worst at throughout this class. Since my knowledge on technology is very limited, I found that I rarely knew the answer to the questions that were posed in the Google Community, and on twitter. Even though I wanted to be helpful, I found it very difficult to assist others due to my lack of knowledge on the subject. Because of this, I took on more of a supportive role. I often thanked others for sharing resources that I found helpful, and I provided feedback on certain things I liked about my classmates learning projects! I really enjoyed reading through the learning projects and weekly reflections that my classmates posted, but I did not comment as much as I should have. Here are examples of some of the tweets I have commented on:

I think that this was effective because it validated that what others were sharing were useful, beneficial, and helpful. In addition, I think that I contributed to others learning by sharing useful tweets and resources for my classmates. I know that I always felt really good when others liked, commented, or retweeted my tweets. It made me feel like others were benefiting from what I was sharing. It make me feel a little something like this:

I started this semester with zero tweets, and I now have eighty seven. I am happy with my progress, and with how much more comfortable I am with twitter. I was dreading it at the beginning of this class, but now I understand the educational purposes that it has to offer. There are so many amazing people out there who I can learn from, and twitter opens up a lot of doors in that area. I am a lot more confident with twitter now, and I am happy to have a new platform of communication. I even enjoyed the twitter chat (I really did not think that I would), and I am amazed at how much I have learned from the resources and articles that have been shared on my twitter feed. It helps me stay connected with the school I interned at, and it also keeps me posted on upcoming job in the school divisions that I am interested in. I wish I would have been a little more consistent with twitter, but I think I have come a very long way in a short time, and I am happy with how much confidence I have gained from this class.

Here are some of the resources I shared:

One of the stand out moments for me was the feedback I got on the portfolio portion of my blog. I had embedded a picture of my resume, cover letter, reference letter, and IPP, and people reacted very positively to it. I had people asking me how I did it, and thanking me for the idea! I also had a lot of people give me verbal feedback on this, and I am happy I was able to share my idea to others. This was one way in which I feel like I contributed to the learning of others. Below is an example of the feedback I received:

Commenting on blogs was something I definitely should have done more of…

I did comment, but I should have done it more consistently throughout the semester. I really loved looking through blogs and reading through everyone’s amazing learning projects. As I read, I learned a little bit about the basics of ASL, how to budget, how to knit, how to paint, how to bake cakes, and so much more! Everyone had such amazing ideas, and it was very cool to see their progress over the past four months. I do think I brought something to this class, and I think that I did contribute to the learning of others, but I could have done more. Here is some examples of comments I have made:

       

Overall, I am very glad I have taken this class. I now have a whole network of people from this class who I will continue to learn from in the future. Everyone in this class has taught me so much throughout this course, and I feel a lot better about using technology in the classroom because of it. I contributed to the learning of others mostly through sharing helpful resources and articles. I would say that this was my biggest contribution. I would also say that I did offer assistance to certain people through my comments and advice. I also found that I was more help verbally than anything else. I would often talk to my friends about their blog, and we would work through any issues we had together. I am very happy with my comfort level with technology. I definitely have a long way to go, but I now have a lot more confidence in trying new things! I am so glad to have chosen this course, and I loved learning alongside the wonderful people in ECMP 355!

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Online Activism

I absolutely believe that social media can be meaningful and worthwhile. Erin Lee wrote an article that discusses Shonda Rhimes and her ideas on this particular topic. She says that ‘a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything.’ I thought that her take on this was very interesting. She basically says that we take three seconds to write a tweet, then we throw a hashtag at the end that promotes social justice, then we go back to doing whatever we were doing. The more I think about this, the more I think that she is right. It is not that I don’t think that these hashtags are helpful or important, because I do. I think that they have a great purpose, and that they raise awareness for a lot of issues. I think that a lot of good can come from them, but I also think that social justice is more than just a hashtag.

A hashtag is a great start, but it is not enough. We need to do more. The article also talks about a lady named April Reign (created the Black Lives Matter movement’s active use of hashtags). She says that ‘young activists often use social media as a way to communicate, organize and raise awareness.’ These are certainly very important things, but I think it is important that we think before we share. We need to think and make sure that we are engaging purposefully. Kevin Bui (also discussed within the article) says it perfectly.

“I want to put a certain message out there through my social media and state what I believe about certain issues. The majority of people won’t care, but what it can do is help challenge the people who do care to think about things in a new way or different way.”

I think that his idea of challenging others to think differently is very powerful. It is not about stating your opinion in an arrogant and assertive way. It is about sharing your views, and being open to others as well. You can’t change the world with one hashtag, but you can certainly raise awareness, and communicate to others about a particular way. I really do think it is possible to engage in productive conversations about social justice online. You are always going to have someone who you do not necessarily agree with, but the only way things will get better is if we talk about. It’s not about getting the entire world on your side, it is about hearing the opinions of others, and engaging in a positive way.

Coding

I found coding to be much more difficult than I originally anticipated. I thought that it would be easy, but I actually had a very hard time. The following things are what I found most difficult:

  1. Figuring out an idea: There were so many backgrounds and animals to choose from, and I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted to do. Usually, coming up with an idea is the most challenging part of any task for me, and this experience was no different. Once I decided to make my  scratch revolve around the idea of a penguin getting lost in an ocean (I am not sure why I went with this), it was fairly easy to put it together.
  2. I had never screen casted before, so I had a little bit of a hard time figuring out how to accomplish this successfully. My friend Shania was a huge help in this department, and I eventually figured it out after multiple tries.
  3. After I finished the screencast, I realized that it had no sound. I have no idea why, and I spent some time trying to figure it out, but I eventually gave up and decided that the sound really was not necessary.
  4. The biggest struggle of all was my attempts in cropping the screen. I spent a lot of time googling, but everything just explained how to crop the actual video rather than the actual screen. I really wanted to cut out the portion of my desktop, as well as the script beside the video, but I could not figure it out. It is somewhat difficult to see the words the penguin is saying because of how small the screen is, but I am still happy with how my scratch turned out. Considering it was my very first time using the program, I think I do have a good starting point in understanding how to use scratch. I think that with some practice, I can definitely see myself using this in my classroom.

This experience taught me not only how to use scratch itself, but how to screencast and upload youtube videos as well. I have never done either of these things before, so I happy to have had the chance to figure some of this stuff out. The article, “This is Why Kids Need to Learn How to Code” discusses a very important quote that I think is ver applicable to my life. “The important thing here is the attitude and approach of the individual, not necessarily how polished their outputs are.” It is not necessarily the idea that everything needs to be perfect, it is more about the idea that we need to have positive attitudes and a willingness to try. By demonstrating this willing and positive attitude, we are teaching our students to be open minded, to try new things, and that perfection is not the goal. Coding is important for many reasons. As the article mentioned, coding teaches us to problem solve, digital confidence, and a way of understanding the world around us. These are all such important skills. Digital confidence is huge, and it is something I want my students to develop. I do not want them to fear technology, I want them to embrace it. I think that in order for this to happen, I have to demonstrate what digital confidence looks like. This does not mean me completely every technological task perfectly. I think it means me trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. It is me showing the possibilities technology has to offer, and demonstrating a certain level of confidence and excitement in learning new things. Technology is always advancing and changing, and we will never be experts at everything. Coding is a great way to teach digital confidence, and its learning possibilities are truly endless.

#SELFIES

The idea of the selfie is something I have never completely understood. Do I do it? Does it make me look vain or conceited? The other day, I was looking through my phone, and was amazed at the amount of selfies I have taken over the years. I am not sure what the purpose of these selfies were, but I seem to have taken countless. Not only did I notice the numerous selfies of myself, but of my little cousin as well. This is a picture of his first selfie taken on my phone. He was two years old at the time, and he had already figured out how to take pictures, which is pretty amazing for a two year old. I do not remember him doing this, but he ended up taking seventeen photos and two videos of himself. Over the past three years, I have spent a lot of time with my sweet little cousin.img_0689Almost every time I see him, he asks if he can play with my phone. In this particular photo, he was attempting to multi task. He was taking photos of himself while eating a powdered donut. He documented the entire progression of his donut eating experience, including a mixture of photos and videos. I am not sure that he knew what a SELFIE was at the time, but he definitely succeeded in taking several. As I scrolled through my phone, I found several selfies of him since this day, and it was very interesting to see how he his selfies changed over the years. In this photo, he was exploring the camera and how to work the phone. In the selfies below, he began to pose and explore different forms of selfies.

 

In this photo to the left, I am the one taking the photo. Even though I took the picture, it was his idea. He said to me, “Shayla, let’s take a selfie and send it to my mom.” This tells me that he knows what a selfie is, and he knows that we should smile when taking a photo. Even at four years old, he knew all of these things. This moment really caused me to think deeper about what a selfie is, and why it is such a big thing in today’s society. When I scroll through my facebook and my Instagram, it is filled with selfies. Why is this? Why do we care how many likes we get, or what we look like in a picture? Why does it have such a huge affect on us? Why do we feel the need to add filters and create unrealistic versions of ourself online?

 

I find this picture to left particularly interesting. Not only has he figured out how to take a selfie, but he has also figured out how to use filters on snap chat, which is basically an entire app dedicated to communication through selfies. Not only that, but he knows about the duck face! He is five years old in this photo, and is using the duck face. The fact that children this young know about this just demonstrates how engrained it is in society. I have never really understood all the hype behind the duck face, but it is definitely a very popular pose. This idea around selfies has prompted me to look into what they are, what they mean, and why they happen. In my opinion, people use selfies as a way to raise self-esteem. They can take an ordinary photo, and edit in a way that makes them look any way they want. I am not saying that I am not guilty of falling into the ‘selfie trap.’ It definitely is a great feeling when people like my photo and comment kind things, but I am not sure why it makes me feel so good.

Ann Steele’s article ‘What do #Selfies Say About The Psychology Of You?’ says that ‘social media has become a portal through which ordinary people could accomplish the extraordinary with minimal amounts of effort.’ I think that there is a lot of truth to this statement. By adding a filter and using editing tools, people can create a brand new photo with the simple touch of a button. We can get that ‘movie star look’ with minimal effort, and that is very appealing to many. The article also says that to understand selfies, people need to understand the motivations behind these pictures, along with the reasons why some of them tend to go viral and others don’t. We usually have reasons for doing what we do, and even though those motivations are not always clear, they are there nonetheless. We might be taking the selfie to boost our self-esteem, to make others known of an accomplishment or of something that we did, to bring attention to different aspects of our life, or to simply to make ourselves feel good. I don’t always pay attention to the motivation behind my selfies, but as I scrolled through some of the selfies I have taken, I thought of what that underlying motivation might have been. Here is an example:
I used to work at a museum, and in this specific day, I was particularly bored. In order to entertain myself, I walked around and took selfies of myself at all the displays. In this photo, I put on the conductors hat and pretended to drive the train replica. I did this throughout the day, and snap chatted the experience. I am not sure why, and I really don’t know the reason behind my photos. In this case, I would say the motivation was boredom. It definitely was not an attempt to make myself look flattering or to raise my self-esteem, because I look ridiculous in ninety percent of the selfies I took. Lucy Doyle’s article ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Irritating’ puts the motivation behind selfies into three categories: self-absorption, art, and a social connection. After looking through a variety of selfies, I think that there is a lot of truth to this. In addition, I do see it having educational purposes. An example of this is in our class when we wrote down answers on a piece of paper, took a selfie, and posted in a padlet. I think that it is very important to teach students how to use selfies in a positive way. To do this, we need to help students develop a positive self-esteem, and to realize their self worth.

This article also discusses the idea of ‘selfie safety.’ It says that there has been several worrying reports of children taking inappropriate selfies that then end up in the wrongs hands, and how this leads to a panic around the subject of selfies and children. I think that this really ties into the idea of digital citizenship. Having a positive online presence, and engaging in a positive way online is very important. A lot of times, selfies are viewed as a bad thing, but I think that if used the right way, they could be used for positive. As long as we teach students to use them effectively, they can be yet another learning tool in the classroom.

 

Conversations with Shayla & Shania


For this week’s post, Shania and I created a video revolving around the Remind Me app! I played the role of the parent, and she played the role of the teacher. We chose to document our conversation through text. We created a script, and texted back and for the forth while Shania screen casted it on her computer. It began with me (the parent) texting Ms. Sonen to ask her about the Remind Me app that had recently been introduced to her hypothetical class. Shania then provided an explanation of what the app does, as well as how it is to be used. The conversation then goes back and forth with me asking her questions ab0ut the app, and her answering them. I play the role of someone who is afraid that my limited use of my phone will prevent me from having full access of the classroom information, as well as someone who wants my child to take responsibility for their own work. Shania explains that I can access it through e-mail if I so chose, as well as the importance that my child uses the app responsibly and for its proper use. Remind Me is something that I have used and heard about, but have not necessarily understood fully. After researching this app, I have learned about what it has to offer, and the possibilities within the app! Parents are a huge part of the classroom, and it is important to have them on board. That is why we chose to have the conversation between the parent and the teacher.

Creating the script of what we wanted to say was fairly easy, but the execution was much more difficult! It was a surprisingly stressful situation. When we began, my hands started shaking, and I am pretty sure I felt my blood pressure spike. We both kept screaming and saying: ‘We can do this. We can do this. Don’t make a spelling mistake, we can do this.’ I must say, we made quite the scene in the TPC. When people attempted to talk to us, we sent them away because we were too stressed out. It was a very dark ten minute period in my life, but it was all worth it in the end! Halfway through our first attempt, the computer froze up, therefore we had to redo the entire thing. Typing with speed, and without error is extremely challenging, but I think we executed it well. Even though we were very stressed, we had a lot of fun with it. Not only was it fun, but it also taught me a lot about the Remind Me app and its capabilities.

 

All About Puppet Pals

Puppet Pals  is an amazing app that allows students to make their own stories come to life! They are able to choose the location and actors within the play, and are also able to include voiceovers in order to make the characters talk. In addition, the app allows you to personalize the characters by adding photos into the story. This is an awesome tool that provides endless possibilities in storytelling! It begins with an easy to understand tutorial that provides a brief explanation on how to use the app. It also gives students the opportunity to save, share, and replay their stories. It is a fun, engaging way to implement story telling using technology. It would also be something that could be easily shared with parents. I had never heard of this app before, but I can definitely see how useful this could be in the classroom. It provides children with the chance to creativity design and tell their stories, and I can envision a lot of positive learning experiences that could come from this.

As mentioned in the app description, this would be an awesome resource for EAL students, as well as people who are reluctant to speak in front of the class. This is a definite strength of this tool. Another positive is that it allows students to add in pictures so that they are able to see themselves represented in the story. I am currently taking a Library class, and the main thing we are learning is that students need to be able to connect to the stories they are reading, and I think that this app allows for that. This app has received a lot of positive feedback from its users. Based on the reviews on the app, it is very popular in classrooms everywhere. After reading about and using the app, I have not come across anything that I would consider to be a weakness.

One awesome aspect of this app is that it includes a ‘Parents and Teachers’ section. This section provides an overview of what the tool is, how it can be useful in the classroom, and some lesson ideas that teachers could use. It also includes a preparation section, a tips and tricks section to make it it easier to use, and a description on how to save and share the stories that students create. This is a very user friendly app, and I see a lot of meaningful learning potential. When using this app in my future classroom, I see students saying:

 

 

Amanda Todd

“With the positives come the negatives.” -Carol Todd

This is a powerful quotation from Amanda Todd’s mother. I think it is very relevant, and it goes along with the idea that we need to be aware of both the positives and negatives of social media, and online presence. Even though these things can do a lot of great things, they can have a very negative impact as well. Being aware of these dangers is extremely important, and it goes along with being a responsible digital citizen. Her story really reinforced the importance of teaching students how to use the internet effectively. Something Carol said that really stuck out to me was this:

“Amanda could use technology very well. She learned the power of Youtube by herself.”

There is so many cases in which students explore technology by themselves, and are not taught the proper way in which to use it. It is awesome that kids can explore things and figure them out on their own. It teaches problem solving skills, along with many other things. In the same breath, this can be very dangerous. I think that it is very important to talk to students about online safely, the dangers of it, and how to get help if they need it. It is also important to teach that not everyone in this world uses technology for the good, and to make students aware of this. I think that by sharing Amanda’s devastating story, it can show students an example of how not everyone can be trusted. She was a young girl who was getting positive feedback from others, but as Carol said, with the positives came the negatives. I think that providing a real life example can be such a powerful learning tool, and Amanda’s story is an example of that. Carol’s willingness to share this story and to be so open to taking about her daughter’s life is so amazing. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be, and I am thankful that she took time to share the story with us.

Something else that really stood out was when she spoke about open communication. This is a vital component to teaching, and it is something I hope to have within my future classroom.

Relationships are what a classroom is built from, and that all begins with communication. If students are having problems online or are experiencing troubles, I want them to feel welcomed to come talk to me about it. When watching the documentary on Amanda’s life, I was shocked at the realities of the story. It is scary to think that there are people out there targeting children in these ways, and my heart hurts for the victims of these acts. She was threatened and blackmailed, and it is something that students should be aware of. By hearing about the realities of a real live person, it puts the situation in a whole new light. It also shows that just as Carol Todd said, you cannot believe everything you read online. There is not truth in everything we read, and it is extremely important to understand. Awareness is vital, and that is something Carol’s visit has taught me. Even though the internet gives us the opportunity to share, explore, and learn in a variety of different ways, people do not necessarily use this in a positive way. People can twist things and change them into something they are not, and Amanda’s story is an example of this.

Digital Citizenship in My Classroom

Jason Ohler’s article on Educational Leadership discusses the importance being technologically responsible. As teachers, it is our job to ensure students understand the benefits, and the dangers of online presences and social media. Ohler discusses the idea of the “one life” perspective. I like this perspective because it teaches students the importance of a positive image, and what digital citizenship means. As teachers, we are shaping the future, and teaching about this particular topic is a big part of that. We are heading towards a future in which technology surrounds us, and that is why we need to teach our kids how to properly use this empowering tool.

“If we want to pursue a future that celebrates success not only in terms of abundance but also in terms of humanity, we must help our digital kids balance the individual empowerment of digital technology use with a sense of personal, community, and global responsibility (Ohler, 2011).”

I think that sometimes, students do not understand the responsibility that comes with digital citizenship. This quotation from Ohler’s article reinforces the idea that in today’s society, we are all digital people. Today’s students are more digitally advanced than ever, and that is why is is vital that we educate them about how to use this in a positive, safe, and responsible way. The development of cell phones have created a new form of technology that has changed society as we know it. Though they can be a wonderful thing that have allowed us access to so many things, they can also be dangerous for people who don’t know how to use them in a safe and responsible way.

Even when I think back to when I was a student (which was not that long ago), we were not taught how to safely use technology. I think that part of this is that our teachers didn’t truly understand it either. Technology have been rapidly advancing over the past few decades, and it is truly amazing to think about how much the world has changed. The other day, I was looking through some of my childhood pictures, and I was amazed to see how much picture quality has changed in my lifetime. Not only is the quality of the pictures significantly different, but the way we take pictures as well. img_0996Nolan Grad Pics  (119)

In the first picture above, my brother is a newborn. The picture on the right is a picture of us on his graduation. When we were little, my parents had to take photos with a little camera. They then had to bring the film to the store and get it developed into poor quality pictures. We have several albums of our childhood that were developed in this ‘old fashioned way.’ When my brother graduated, his photos were not even developed. They were taken, and were then uploaded onto our computer. I cannot even remember the last time I printed off a picture, because there is rarely a need for it. I think that even by examining and explaining the rapid changed that have taken place over the past few years, students will be able to gain a better understanding of the importance of digital awareness.

If you use the internet regularly, which most of us do, we need to understand how to engage in a positive way. I think that one of the most powerful things we can do as teachers is to provide examples of ways that someone did not exhibit responsibility regarding technology. I think that showing examples of what not to do, and explaining the dangers of digital irresponsibility can be a very powerful teaching tool. It shows students how serious it can be. We play a huge role in creating digital citizens, and I think it is extremely important to teach our students to think before posting or engaging.

I think that in order for students to be aware, we need to be aware. We cannot teach what we don’t understand. Teachers need to stay up to date with technology, and this is something that can be difficult. As educators, we have a lot of pressures and responsibility within our classrooms. Sometimes, it is difficult to fit everything in, and that is something I see as a challenge for teachers. We have a lot of content to teach in a very short amount of time, and that is why I think it is important to make cross curricular connections. I think that creativity goes a long way, and that is our job to see the possibilities in the curriculum. This is definitely easier said than done, but it is something that I strive to do. I see digital citizenship fitting in a number of places within the curriculum. Particularly social studies and health. There are also a number of art possibilities I see regarding the topic of digital citizenship. My hope for my students is that they learn the skills to engage in social media in a positive and effective way, and that is what I aim to teach in my classroom.

Split Image Reflection

“Everyone presents an edited version of themselves on social media.”

This quote is powerful, strong, and carries so much truth. When someone posts something on Intstagram, they are rarely portraying a true version of themselves. Usually, it is an edited picture with some sort of cute, happy quote that doesn’t show a true representation of themselves. Sometimes, we get so lost in what we want that we forget to be who we are. This quote made me think deeply about its meaning, and I think that it accurately depicts what today’s society has become. We want everyone to think that we are  okay. That we are happy. That everything is going great. But this is not always reality. We strive to be ‘perfect,’ but in my opinion, perfect does not exist.

We all have our bad days, and hiding that fact behind some cute edited photo does not change that. I think that we need to be honest about who we are, and how we feel. Hiding our emotions and our true selves only hurts us in the end. Another quote that I found overwhelming powerful was, “even people you think are perfect are going through something difficult.” Last year, a boy from my community committed suicide, and he was on my mind as I read this article. He was a year older than me, so we were in the same school throughout my entire schooling experience. I did not know him well, but his death completely shattered my community.

The people who knew and loved him were broken, and it deeply hurt me to see how it has affected so many people I care about. So many people I talked to said things like, “he always seemed so happy. He was always making everyone laugh, and he always had a smile on his face.” I think that that is why I found this quote so emotional. Even though someone seems happy on the outside, does not mean they are happy on the inside. My heart breaks for this family, and it breaks for this girl who suffered because of mental illness. My mother has struggled with mental illness since she was twelve years old, so I feel a deep connection with the topic. It has been something that has impacted my life in so many ways, and I write this post because I want the stigma around mental illness to end. I want people to feel safe to talk about it, and I want people to feel safe to seek help if they need it. We all deserve to be happy, and hiding behind a fake image only shares our ideal self, not our real self.

My Digital Identity…

Today’s class really emphasized the importance of a positive online presence, which is the main purpose of this class. During our group activity that required us to google someone, I was able to see what a positive online presence really looks like. The woman I googled demonstrated a very professional presence. She was an accomplished educator with a clear passion for technology. Every link I clicked on showed some positive form of her life, and it really showcased her accomplishments. This is the online presence I strive to have, but it will take some work to get there.

When I googled myself, the first thing that came up was my Facebook. This is not a bad thing, because my account is locked, and there is nothing on there that I would ever need or want to hide, but it is still not the first thing I would like people to see. I would prefer them to see my Twitter account, my Linked In Account, or my blog because these are things that are related to my education and professional background. By continuing to tweet, and blog, I can hopefully make it so that they are the first thing that shows up when I am ‘googled.’ One negative thing that showed up during my google search was the website of a girl that appears to have the same name as me. Unfortunately, her website shows her smoking, and it also contains a lot of drug related posts. My initial reaction was something like this:

The main picture on this website was girl with dark hair, blurred from the cloud of smoke that surrounded her. This concerned me because I also have dark hair, and the face is completely blurred out due to the smoke. The only part of the photo that is clear is her hair, which could easily be mistaken as mine by someone who did not know me that well. I hope that anyone who views this website knows that it is not me, but I still do not like the fact that this comes up when my name is googled. The more I looked at her website, the angrier I got.

Since I am currently beginning the job hunt, this is definitely not what I want potential employers to see when they google my name. This realization made me think about and consider what I can do to fix this problem. It’s not like I can call this woman and demand that she takes the website down. The only solution I have come up with is to create an online presence that pushes her so far down the ‘google list’ that it is irrelevant to my google search. This is what I aim to do, hopefully my solution is successful! My digital identity is important, especially as a teacher!