New Year, Improved Me

happy new year

Picture retrieved from Sally on Flickr

Since we are now into the year 2014, I thought that I should reflect on my progress with last year’s resolutions and the resolutions I’m setting up for myself this year!  If you are wondering why my title isn’t “New Year, New Me”, it’s because I don’t believe that statement to be realistic.  You will always be the same you!  New Year goals just make you an improved you!  Last year, I was getting to a point where negativity was ruling my life, which resulted in a negative view of myself. I made a goal to learn to love myself in 2013, which includes positivity and life changes.  This would be particularly difficult for me, since I’ve spent most of my life being self conscious and shy.  Here are some of the steps I took in order to lead a happier, more positive life:

  1. Accepting Compliments: Whenever someone would give me a compliment, I would say something like, “No, you’re way prettier” or “No, I gained weight”.  A thing that I needed to realize was that these people are just being kind, so you need to return the kindness by responding positively.  Once you accept these compliments, you start to believe that they are true, which leads to a way more positive outlook on your life.
  2. Smile at Yourself and Smile at Others: I noticed that people walking through the halls of the University are often grumpy looking and sad, including myself.  I now smile at people if they give me any kind of eye contact and, in turn, they usually smile back.  I always feel happier when I see others smiling!  Also, when you are meeting up with friends or classmates, greet them with a smile!  This may sound really weird, but smiling at yourself in the mirror does help.  It also sounds super vain, but it has proved to be the opposite.  Seeing myself smiling made myself happier throughout the day, especially on the days that I had morning classes.  I think I realized that I look more approachable to new friends if I look happy and confident!
  3. Surround Yourself with Positivity and Positive People: I feed off of the energy of the environments and people that I am around, so that is not particularly beneficial if I’m around negativity.  The friends I surround myself with now are mostly positive daily and that really helps with my own positivity!
  4. Stop caring about what others think: This was a big challenge for me.  I would often get very worked up over how I was portraying myself and how I was acting.  I wasn’t being myself, so I knew that had to change.  I realized that if someone doesn’t like the way that I am, then they don’t deserve to be in my life.  I’ll be eternally happy, just as long as I’m being true to myself and my beliefs.
  5. Cut out toxic people in your life that don’t fully appreciate you: This is a big one.  I think the word “cut” might be a little harsh, but it gets to the point.  I don’t fully cut people out of my life, I just become less concerned with communication if I’m not getting any recognition in return.  You need to cut out people in a positive way.  Completely ignoring these people will result in a negative and awkward interaction at one point.  Just because you aren’t the closest of friends anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t be civil with each other.

MY GOALS FOR 2014:

  1. Further my goal of learning to love myself
  2. Work out and eat healthier: Instead of thinking about being weight loss, I want to have a special focus on becoming a healthier me!
  3. Speaking out more in classroom settings
  4. Make more of an effort to visit family and friends

That’s all I can think of for now! If I think of more, I will add to the list!  What are your resolutions for 2014?

ELNG 200 Placement: Part Two


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Jeff
Here is part two of my experiences at my ELNG 200 placement:

I went to my school for my fifth time on October 25th, 2013.  This was, by far, my favourite visit so far! I was there for a longer period of time, so I got to work with two groups of students.  The first group in the morning was working on some PWIM (Picture Word Inductive Model) work with a picture of sports related things.  Just like the other group I was with previously, the students would identify things they recognized in the picture and the teacher would write the word on the piece of paper.  They went through each and every word and spelled them multiple times.  They also recognized that a lot of the sports had the common word “ball”.  The teacher has noticed that they are having difficulties with sounding out words, so we went through the first bit of the Alphabet.  She asked students, in turns, if they knew the sounds of each letter and then the rest of the students would say a word that starts with that letter.  The students seem most excited about the alphabet!

In the afternoon, we had a couple of older students.  There were only two students available, so a classmate and I worked one on one with each student.  The student I was working with was encouraged to write sentences about things he knows and predicts.  Before class started, he was watching a YouTube video about Captain America, so the teacher suggested that he watches a Captain America video and write sentences about what he thinks will happen, starting with, “I predict” or “I think”.  The student decided to watch the last scene of The Avengers.  We watched it together and I would pause the video at different times and ask him to write a sentence about what he thinks will happen.  A lot of his sentences were looking the same, so I encouraged him to write a sentence with a different structure.

After that, he read a book to me and I was supposed to make sure he was reading the book in a natural flow, more particularly, the higher pitch of your voice when you ask a question.  He grasped on quickly to the reading of a question.  After each page, we would write down a verb from the story and put –ing and –ed endings onto them.  I then asked him to underline the base word or the word that is common in each set.  After we read the entire story, I asked him to tell me what the problem in the story was and the solution.  He was able to recognize the problem, but the solution was a little hard for him.  We read over the last couple of pages and looked at the pictures and he figured it out.

My last day at the school was on October 31st, 2013.  We started out the day with an assembly for an hour.  After that, we gathered our grade four and five literacy group students.  They were learning how to spell and say certain words the previous day and they were given a spelling test today.  Instead of erasing the words off the board, she left them up and didn’t tell them that those words were the words on the test.  The students figured out that they were the same words on the board, but they had to sound out the words to figure out which one she was asking.  I thought this was great because the sounds of letters and words stump them quite often.  They marked their own papers with check marks and put corrections underneath their original word.  I like the fact that the teacher does not like “x” marks for incorrect answers because I feel like they are very negative, as well.

After the test, we read a story called “Sam and Papa” and each student took turns reading pages from the book.  As I said before, they have trouble with sounding out words and we encouraged them to sound out each single letter.  When they were finished reading the story, the teacher asked the students to retrace the events of the story.  She has noticed that her students have trouble with sequencing, so this is why she is putting emphasis on this concept.  They were great at reflecting on what happened in the story, but they struggled with putting the scenes in order.  After reading and discussing the story, the teacher had three stations set up for the students, since we only had three students that day.  Two of the stations had literacy games on laptops and the other station was for rereading “Sam and Papa”.  The variety seemed to work for the students because it kept them interested.  Throwing in the literacy games was great because they were having fun while learning!

In ELNG 200, we had a class about putting cultural groups in a box. We then talked about how this is relevant for all people of different genders, sexual orientations, sizes, races, etc.  I have not heard any of foul language or name-calling while at this school, but maybe some of the ESL students are not aware of these words or that word carries a different meaning in their language or culture.  To follow up on this argument, an interesting thing to think about is the fact that a lot of children would probably not know the negative version of some of these words.  In Gloria Naylor’s article, for example, she explains that the “n” word had a different context to white people than her family, which were black.  When a boy called her this name, she did not understand the meaning, but quickly understood that it was a bad word to them, since the teacher had a negative response.

The students continue to mention some words in their own language because a word the teacher said sounds like that word.  This can prove the idea that all language derives from one early language.  In terms of English as a global language, I feel like that is proved also in ESL classrooms.  They have basic speaking skills in English and they are quickly emerged into regular English speaking classrooms and ESL classrooms.  This is a little different than our discussion on globalization because we talked about English speakers coming into countries and making English a required language.  These students have come into Canada with intentions to learn English because it is the most common language spoken in Canada.

I can link audiolingualism to my experiences, as well.  Audiolingualism consists of drills, question and answer, dialogues, positive reinforcement and a lot of repetition.  When the students are learning new words or looking back at alphabet sounds, they repeat that word or sound various times to get the learning to sink in.  This relates to when I talked about the teacher going through the alphabet and getting the students to say the sound and a word starting with the letter multiple times.  A lot of the times when I’m reading with the students, I will get them to repeat words to me and read a sentence over to reassure me and themselves that they understand what they are reading.  A lot of dialogue goes on in class, which is a great aspect of this classroom.  The teacher will often ask something relating to the lesson, and the students will answer and reflect on each other’s answers.

Myth #2 in our Language Development textbook is:  Younger children are more effective learners.  The reality explained in the chapter is that younger learners are better at learning with little or no accent, but older learners are more efficient.  I have noticed at the school that the older learners in grade 4/5 are progressing and understanding faster than the younger learners in grade 2/3. This is on a smaller spectrum than what the author might have been thinking (children vs. adult), but I think it is relevant.  A lot of the newly arrived students in the ESL classroom have brothers and sisters in different grades, so they all came into Canada at the same time.  The older siblings often compare words in their own language and apply that to their learning.  This is not happening as much with the younger students.

You can say that we use operant conditioning in the classroom, also.  We are big high-fivers and this often happens when the students succeed in an assignment or accomplish a goal.  The students do language learning activities on the computer some times and this is a motivational tool for them to work hard during the learning beforehand because they really enjoy the activities online.  The teacher will also sometimes bring in snacks for the students on special days. You can tell that this encouragement affects the students because they smile or look very happy.  You can see a sense of accomplishment and pride in them, which is one of the greatest things to see with this profession.  These moments are the best things to experience because I see the students progressing, and at the same time, I am progressing because I am learning so much from these individuals as I work with them.

Sext Up Kids

In ECMP 355 last week, we learned about digital citizenship.  This includes how you portray yourself online and proper nettiquette.  Our prof recommended watching a video called “Sext Up Kids”, so I watched it last night.

I was shocked to find out that girls are becoming sexualized at a much younger age.  Kids as young as three are being influenced to be sexualized because they are brought up with Disney stories and Barbies/Bratz.  They grow up believing that beauty is the number one thing to achieve.  I wrote an essay in ECS 110 a couple of years ago about how Barbies affect children and I had mixed feelings about the topic and I still do to this day.  When these children play with Barbies, they may think that looking like Barbie will ensure happiness in their lives and increase their ability to make friends.  In this way, Barbie is producing appropriately gendered females because they are promoting ideals of unrealistic beauty.  The Bratz dolls took a step further because their clothes were getting shorter and skimpier, their lips were larger and their frames were smaller.  These dolls are definitely showing a more sexualized view of toys compared to Barbie.  When I was growing up, I played with Barbies and Bratz.  I feel like these dolls did give me an unrealistic ideal of beauty, but I was never influenced to be like these toys and I feel like I was never sexualized as a kid.  This may differ from child to child and the rise of technology might be a factor because children have more access to content (ex: Barbie.com).  I feel like children are more influenced by the media.

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When you watch TV, surf the net, read a magazine, etc., you will most definitely see a sexualized image of a celebrity.  These are the images I grew up with and I definitely wanted to be like these celebrities because I idolized them.  One of the celebrities that I loved was Britney Spears.  When you are a kid, you don’t really understand that these celebrities are dressed inappropriately or acting inappropriately.  For example, I never thought that “Baby One More Time” was sexual at all when I was younger.  As I got older, girls started looking more like the celebrities I loved.  This is probably because that’s what we were socialized to believe as beautiful and we also saw this as a way to get attention from friends and boys.  Even at my age now, girls are desperate for male attention and will go to great lengths to impress them.  In the video, the young girls explain that Cosmopolitan explains ways to please men and not the other way around.  Girls are led to believe that their own happiness comes second to men.

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With the rise of technology, “sexting” has become a popular act.  Since girls believe that they have to impress the boys, they send naked or semi-nude pictures to them, without thinking about the consequences.  This may become part of their digital identity.  Having an image like that following you for the rest of your life will not be great in future endeavours, so I think these issues need to be addressed earlier on in kid’s lives.  In the video, several women speak to nine year olds about sexualization and how they feel about themselves.  I think this is a great way to get young girls aware of what’s out there and to relate to each other.

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Do you think that the youth today are becoming highly sexualized earlier on in life?  Is there any other factors that influence these ideals?

My Childhood Walk

In ECMP 355 last week, we were asked to create a 3-5 minute presentation on a topic of our choice.  An alternate assignment was the Childhood Walk.  You get images from Google Maps and create your story from those images!  I decided to create my Childhood Walk in a similar way as Doug Peterson and Stephen Downes, but instead of showing areas in my city, I’m going to stay on the block I grew up on.

This is my house! You can’t really see it because we had a ridiculous amount of trees.  I have lived in this house for my whole life, so I have a lot of memories from this place.  My sister and I were very much into the outdoors and we would wander our block every single day.

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We have a very steep driveway that everyone is afraid to drive up on!  My sister and I lived dangerously, so we would drive our scooters down our driveway often.  We would pretend that we were on “The Amanda Show” with our scooters and we would sing the theme song out loud and proud!  We were obsessed with the show and we would act out segments and quote the characters.  Some examples were “Amanda, please” and “Welcome to the girls room”. We thought we were expert scooter drivers and we would scoot around in circles, swerves, etc.!  Now that I think about it, this was extremely dangerous and I don’t remember if my parents were aware of us doing this.  I also realize now that we were crazy weirdos!

Childhood walk1

When we were kids, we would take vacations every summer in our motorhome!  We have had two motorhomes in total and this is our last one.  Some of my best memories come from my family vacations.  Every other summer, my auntie, uncle and cousin from Ontario would come down to Saskatchewan to spend their summer holidays with us.  Camping was a family favourite and I would always look forward to it. We went to Pike Lake several times, which is located outside Saskatoon. We have a lot of family living in Saskatoon, so most of them would visit us at our campsite.  We have also camped in BC and went to Radium Hot Springs quite often!  I don’t see my family as often as I did when I was a child, so I definitely miss the good old days.I have a lot of memories in those motorhomes and I will never forget the good times we had!

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When I was a kid, my best friend lived right next door to me!  They were a Chinese family with a grandmother, a mom, a dad, and two boys.  One boy was around the same age as me and the other boy was the same age as my younger sister!  Our parents would take turns babysitting us and we were over at one another’s houses every single day!  When my sister and I went over to their place, we would usually play Pokemon on their playstation or pretend to be the Power Rangers.  I was a very demanding kid and I would insist on being the pink Power Ranger.  The grandmother didn’t know English very well and my mom is convinced that my sister and I could understand her when she spoke her language.  Another memory I have from their house is eating a lot of sticky rice!

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My neighbour friend was extremely afraid of dogs!  This one time, my sister, our neighbours and I were walking on our block and a person with a dog came by.  My friend freaked out and we hid behind a rock on someone’s property.  After the dog left, the owner came out and yelled at us.  We were all so scared and ran away.  The rock is not there anymore, so just use your imagination!

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My sister and I would wander our block and find ant hills.  We would pretend that we were doing a documentary on ants and we would describe every single thing that they did.  I believe we also did this with lady bugs and I think we pretended we were british, too.  We would pick honey suckles off the trees and taste them everyday!  We would also pick flowers off of trees and we got in trouble for that.  Apparently, we were trouble makers!  It seemed like we were the only kids on our block because you would never see anyone come out and play during the day.

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So there is my Childhood Walk!  I recommend doing this because it’s nice to go down memory lane every now and again!  It makes me want to be a kid again!  Take the challenge and create your own Childhood Walk!

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

We had a presenter in my class today, and something he said did not sit with me well.  He said something along the lines of, “If you want to get a lot of money and live a happy life, then become an engineer!”  His philosophy in life is completely different from my own and I was shocked to hear this in class, especially in a Fine Arts class since a lot of the students are studying in completely different fields than engineering.  He is completely entitled to his own opinion, so I wasn’t as angry about it when I actually thought about it.  He continued on to talk about how he is left-brained because he sees the world in a logical manner, while people like artists are more right-brained and see the world differently than he does.  This really explained why I was so opposed to his views today because I guess I see the world in a more artsy, creative way, rather than a logical and structural way.

I guess I have to realize that many other people have different goals in life and I should value their opinions.  Everyone comes from a different background and thinks in different ways.  Many people have the goal to earn a lot of money or some may be passionate about a career that just so happens to make good money.  My only concern with this is that a person may become so invested in getting a career that makes a lot of money, that they forget about their own happiness along the way.  Some of the richest people may become the most unhappy people because they may not enjoy what they do for a living.  A teacher’s salary is not as high as many other careers, but my goal in life is not to earn a lot of money, but to enrich the minds of children and make a difference in someone’s life.

I believe that happiness is not measured by the amount of money you make or the amount (or quality) of the education you received.  All I want to do with my life is to inspire, educate and bring happiness to others!  When I see the smiles and hear the laughter from others, I know that I’m doing something right and that is enough payment.  I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine!  Obviously, you need to earn enough money to survive, but I don’t think the pay cheques should become more important than your career or passions.

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