Building a Community of Learners

WORDPRESS

I started my blog a year ago, but I never posted anything about educational issues, thoughts or ideas.  The purpose of my blog was originally just to have a place to express what I was thinking.  It was a great way to organize my thoughts and I found it be very therapeutic.  If I wanted to rant about something or get something off of my chest, I knew that I could express myself through my blog.  For an example, here is my first post.  Being a shy and awkward person, blogging was a great way for me to voice my opinion.  It’s amazing to see how my writing has changed and I truly believe that blogging has contributed to my increased confidence and my ability to voice my opinion in public over the past year.

Being connected to people all over the world through blogging is very interesting.  It shows that people do read and care about what you have to say.  The blogging activities we went through in this class were very beneficial to introduce many people to the idea of building a Personal Learning Network.  We were able to post blog posts, comment on other posts and critically respond to other comments.  Doing this on a smaller scale is a wonderful starting point in order to learn how to reach a larger audience.  I really enjoyed how we were asked to comment on the blogs of our peers during seminars, especially since we were encouraged to pose thoughtful questions and positive responses.  An example of a thoughtful response by one of my peers is Kari Davis’ comment.  She said something positive about my post and she also posed a question that really made me think about my response back.  Having a well thought out comment on your blog post really shows that the person is engaged and it’s also wonderful to get feedback on your writing.

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Whenever I got around to commenting on someone’s blog, I had to take a while to really think about what I wanted to say, which I think is a good thing because that means that their blog post made me think.  I enjoyed reading everyone else’s posts because you get to see and understand issues from multiple perspectives.  Some of the things I read were so interesting because I never thought of some of the ideas my peers were discussing.  The way people in our class chose to represent and frame their discussion on their posts really amazed me.  For example, for the post on standardized testing, Eriko Parker chose to search the definition of “standard” and frame her discussion on the startling result.  In this way, I think it is very important and beneficial to read the opinions of other educators because the posts of others will always make you think about your own ideas and maybe those new ideas will help you in the future.  Reading from various blogs will also make you see an issue from a whole new perspective and light.

commenting on post

Through my inquiry project this semester, I learned a very interesting feature with WordPress.  I thought I knew everything about the world of WordPress through my explorations before, but was I ever wrong!  I found out that you could have multiple administrators for a WordPress blog.  This feature is amazing because this could be a great way for educators to collaborate to create a blog.  An image that comes to mind is kind of like an educational magazine, but in blog form.  Multiple perspectives could be portrayed on one blog instead of searching through different blogs.  This could also promote up and coming bloggers so that they can build a larger readership.  The members of an existing blogger’s PLN could possibly read the posts of a new blogger on this collaborative piece and become a part of the new person’s PLN!

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I believe that our experiences through blogging will encourage us to keep on reading and commenting on blog posts we find interesting in the future.

TWITTER

I joined Twitter in 2011, but I hardly ever used it.  When I did, it was mainly for keeping up with what my favourite celebrities were doing.  As you can see from my very first tweet, I was quite clueless about how to use twitter and hashtags.Screenshot at Apr 02 11-25-37

It wasn’t until last semester in ECMP 355 that I actually started using Twitter for educational purposes.  Since last semester was kind of like my introduction to using Twitter as an educational tool, I was not as comfortable with using it yet.  In ECS 210, I feel a lot more comfortable with sharing my thoughts on Twitter because I have used it quite a bit now.  I also feel comfortable with sharing my thoughts on Twitter because the people in our ECS 210 class are great with creating conversations on Twitter and supporting the opinions of their peers.  Having your tweets retweeted or favourited is an awesome feeling and it lets you know that your peers and fellow educators are supporting what you are expressing.

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Posting relevant and interesting things onto Twitter and knowing the right hashtags to use are very important to branching out to other educators, which is something I’m still learning to do.  I have started actually looking at educational blogs and tweeting out the blog posts I found interesting, which is a new thing for me.

techhacksI’ve also realized the importance of commenting, retweeting and favouriting tweets of others.  This creates a great support system for educators and it also gives others a chance to give feedback on someone’s work.  An example I think of from class was when Raquel Bellefleur posted her slam poetry assignment.  She received encouraging comments from many people, including me, on Twitter and I can tell that she really appreciated the responses of others.

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Check out Raquel’s blog!

I also found it very interesting to look through the tweets that my classmates would share during classes.  It was wonderful to see the multiple perspectives and the key messages they got out of our presentations.  I’ve always had difficulties with creating conversations on Twitter and I really didn’t understand it, but through this class and other past classes, I’ve realized that it’s really easy to create a thread of conversations.  I would include an image, but Twitter wouldn’t allow me to view some of the past tweets that were sent out during the year, which brings me to the thing that I didn’t enjoy about Twitter.  I tried to look back on some interesting conversations that my classmates were having when Claire Kreuger came into our classroom and also when Grant Urban presented.  When I searched the #ecs210 hashtag, hardly any of my classmates tweets showed up on the day Claire Kreuger came and no tweets were visible from Grant Urban’s presentation.  It frustrated me to say the least.  Does anyone know why this happened?

 

GOOGLE DOCS 

I’ve realized that a great tool for educators is GoogleDocs.  For my inquiry project, my group members and I used a Googledoc to organize our thoughts and to share ideas with each other.  It served as a great way for us to have all of our information in one place and it was easy to take information off of it to work on the different parts of our lesson plan and our online space.  I think GoogleDocs would be a great tool for teachers to collaborate and provide feedback.  If a few teachers want to work on an idea together or create a document of some sort, they all have the option to edit and make changes whenever they want.  With that being said, you have to make sure you trust the collaborators because you don’t want to lose important information.  Google Docs is also a great way to share a document online.  Most often, when sharing a document from Microsoft Word, you have to provide a folder for someone to download.  This can become quite inconvenient because downloading can sometimes be slow and tedious.  With a GoogleDoc, you can see an online version, which makes it that much more accessible for people in your PLN to view.  With the different editing tools, you can share the document with all different kinds of privacy settings. google docs

 

FINAL REFLECTIONS

Overall, I think this was a great class and a great introduction into what a PLN is and how to build our PLN.  I feel like the group of educators in our class were very supportive and involved in the learning process of each other.  I think that is the whole point to building a PLN: creating a support network.  If we need advice or feedback, we can rely on the members of our PLN to offer suggestions.  If we want to seek out new ideas or gain a new understanding of an issue, we can read the blog posts or the tweets of the people we are connected to.  It’s wonderful that we can connect to people all over the world, instead of only connecting to the people we are around.  It’s important to connect to those people as well, but creating relationships on a global level will offer you even more support and insight on particular issues.  People from different parts of the world may carry different and unique experiences and sharing these experiences can be very beneficial.  I think that the knowledge we now carry from this class will become very consequential in the future and it will allow us to build a larger support system.  It’s great that we will be able to carry these skills with us as we finish our degrees and also later on after we get our teaching degrees.

Technology and Social Justice?

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When I was in elementary school, the only thing we needed technology for was learning to type and researching topics.  New technologies over the years have opened up countless opportunities to engage learners and teach in different ways.  I believe that the changed nature of learning and the rise of technology is related to social justice anti oppressive education because we can connect to a larger audience to receive guidance and feedback.  Teachers use internet sites like Pinterest to get teaching ideas and they could also reach out to a community of educators through forums and Twitter.  Educators can connect with millions of people all over the world to create a support group or to have a discussion about ideas.  Collaboration is a big thing for education and the fact that you can post and access teaching materials is pretty great.  The internet offers another way to seek out help and support for your teaching goals towards social justice and anti-oppressive education.

We can use different technology tools to create digital stories with anti-oppressive content.  In my previous post about treaty education, Claire’s students used apps like Puppet Pals to portray their versions of the signing of Treaty #4.  The students also created songs and podcasts, which I assume was done by Garageband.  These projects offer a more engaging and fun way to learn about content in the classroom.  This also makes learning more memorable and we as educators should strive to make anti-oppressive content relevant and fresh in students’ minds.  Using the internet and other technology tools allows students and teachers to have their content seen and commented on by a much larger community.  These anti-oppressive ideas and projects will keep educators and others around the world aware and inspired to do the same in their own classrooms or households.

How do you think technology and new modes of learning are related to social justice and anti-oppressive education?

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?

Learning ASL: Final reflections and Progress

Throughout this semester, I have taken on the challenge to learn American Sign Language for my learning project in ECMP 355.  I have learned terms mostly from a series of Youtube videos from the channel “Sign Language 101“, and “Smarthands“.  Both of these Youtube channels provide great education and resources to help you learn ASL.  Sign Language 101 is a very informal and personable instruction based learning tool, while Smarthands is geared more towards a younger audience with songs, dances and children instruction.  These are both very good for learning terminology.  I have also recently used Lifeprint, which was very beneficial to my learning.  As I mentioned in a previous post, they provide lessons for language learning, which includes videos, descriptions and pictures of hand movements.  They also recognize different ways of using signs and alternate ways of signing.

It was interesting to rewatch all of my videos to reflect upon my personal growth throughout the semester.  I liked the fact that I tried to include different ways of presenting my content.  I did tutorial videos, voice over videos, songs, a collaboration video and even a silent movie type of video.  My confidence level in front of the camera has definitely gone up, which was one of my own personal goals.

I started out my videos by doing voiceovers or signing songs because I wasn’t comfortable with speaking in front of the camera while filming myself.

In my video about pronouns, I was very nervous because this was my first video actually speaking to the camera.  Note the weird eye contact and fidgeting in the beginning!

My videos on colours and family were somewhat more confident because I had a friend with me, but I still feel like it was a step for becoming more comfortable.

This is the last video I taped myself and spoke at the same time, and I really do believe that my confidence level has gone up in it.  I think my instructional methods can improve, but I think I have more volume and confidence in my voice!

Fingerspelling has been a part of my journey in every topic that I have learned over the semester, which has improved the speed and accuracy of my fingerspelling.  You can definitely see progress from my first time signing my name in my videos.

I think another big improvement with my ASL learning was that I was able to formulate a couple of sentences in a conversation, with the help from Lifeprint!

I was going to sign a song in the end, but I found it to be very difficult because I’m not as advanced with formulating proper sentences yet and I don’t want to get confused with Signed English.  When I was looking at different tutorials for songs in ASL, the people were using signed English, which is not proper American Sign Language.  I felt like it would defeat the purpose of my learning if I learned how to sign according to English.  This journey has been exciting and educational and I plan on continuing my learning of ASL and maybe become fluent in it!

Learning ASL: Conversation!

I took my learning from my lesson from Lifeprint and created a conversation video with myself!  I feel like it is kind of like a silent movie!  Meet Ashley and Amy!  My costume changes are brilliant, I know!

Learning ASL: Lifeprint

While I was looking for new resources for learning ASL, I came across Lifeprint.  I’m sad that I didn’t find it before!  The site provides various free lessons, with short videos demonstrating each sign.  The great thing about it is the fact that they teach you how to put words into sentences right away.  I’ve been learning mostly vocabulary through my journey this semester, so learning a couple sentences was great!  For each lesson, they provide the short video, pictures that show each movement, and an explanation of each sign.  For example, I learned how to ask if someone is deaf.

deaf1deaf2deaf3

Handshape: index finger
Location: Starting location:  In general it starts on the cheek near the ear but occasionally you will see it start near the mouth (on the cheek). Ending location:  On the cheek near the mouth.
Orientation:  If done with the right hand, the right palm can face either left or somewhat forward.
Movement:  Small arc.
Variation: If you do this sign while puffing out the cheek, with a larger arc it means, “Deaf, and proud of it!”
Description: Touch your finger on your cheek near your ear, then move your finger in a small arch and touch it near the mouth. Remember, start and end the sign on the cheek. Do not do it on the ear or mouth, but rather near them.

To ask the question, “Are you deaf?”, you do the sign for deaf and point to the person you are asking.  You literally sign, “Deaf you?”.  When you ask questions in ASL, you have to furrow your brows for questions using who, what, why and where and you have to have your brows up for other questions.

I’ve been learning from this site for a while and I will continue to blog the things that I have been learning for the next couple of days!

Learning ASL: Verbs

I haven’t posted a learning project post in a while because I’ve been super busy with unit plans, projects, ect.!  But I have been learning new terms during this time!  Here are the verbs that I have learned!  I realized after uploading it that I mixed up the signs for “x” and “q”.  In the video I say that the sign for “x” is the sign for “q”, so you will see an annotation on the video to correct it..  Well, on the bright side, I guess I learned how to use annotations on Youtube!

I learned these verbs through Sign Language 101 once again on Youtube:

I’m further learning that the alphabet is used all the time for signing words.  For example the word “attempt” is the “a” sign on both hands, while flipping them back and forth.