Curriculum as Becoming

Becky and I decided to create a puppet-like stop motion video for our digital story!  We debated a lot of options before we stuck to this idea.  One idea in particular was that we were going to create a song or a poem out of the tweets our classmates sent over the semester.  This became difficult because the #ecs200 hashtag didn’t show all of the tweets.  We ended up basing our story on the things we tweeted throughout the semester as a guideline.  This was our first experience with stop motion, so it was quite nerve wracking at first, but I think it turned out great!  You can tell in the beginning that it was more of a puppet-style type and near the end, it was more of a stop motion video, although the entire video was stop motion.  I realized that stop motion is very time consuming and requires a lot of work!  We first started out using an app called “Stop Motion Studio”, but then we just took pictures on my iPhone and transferred them onto iMovie through iPhoto!  I hope you enjoy the video!  We definitely worked very hard to finish it!

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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?

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.

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!

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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!

Digital Storytelling

I’m quite amazed with all of the tools we have used and explored through ECMP 355 for digital storytelling lately!  I was not aware of most of the tools we went through!  When I thought of digital storytelling, I only thought about telling stories in videos; more specifically, Youtube videos.  Little did I know, there were way more ways to express a story with technology!

The first two things we looked at on October 3rd was 5 Card Flickr and 6 word stories.  In the 5 Card Flickr story, you choose 5 pictures and create a story with those images.  I did this recently in a past blog post.  I thought this activity in class was wonderful because it channeled my creativity and kept me interested!  I feel like this would be great for children to do because I can only imagine what stories they would come up with!  It’s a great way to get your creative juices going and it could be an introduction into creative writing for children!  The 6 word story is exactly what you think: a six word story!  Here’s an example: “Tanline on his ring finger? Goodbye. – Ruby”.  You’d think this would be simple to do, but it is quite the contrary!  I considered doing one because I thought it would be easy, but creating a story in 6 words is difficult!  This could be a great exercise to demonstrate the need to shorten sentences if the information in the sentence is redundant because you have to choose your words carefully in a 6 word story.  Another thing we looked at on this day was movie trailers that were edited to create a different movie genre.  For example, someone transformed Mary Poppins into a horror film:

This was very interesting because just by changing the music, colour and order of the scenes, you can create something completely different.

The next week, we started working on our Door Scene videos, as mentioned in my previous post.  We learned ways to make a video more suspenseful and we learned how to use iMovie more effectively.  It will be interesting to watch the videos from other groups because it will prove that a story can go in all different directions with their creative choices.  The next thing we are exploring is podcasting!  A new post will probably come up for that!

So, for a last thought: Are there any other digital storytelling tools that you know of? I would be thrilled to explore more!