Monthly Archives: April 2015

Learning Summary for EDCI 569

I didn’t realize I needed to post a blog about my Learning Summary, so here it it is. The multimedia artefact I created forthis course was with two fabulous classmates, Tracey Thorne and Lorrie Burnham. We decided to have a bit of fun making a parody of Zach Galifinakis’ “Between Two Ferns” parody of “Inside the Actors Studio“. It was really neat to do the writing on a Google Doc while Tracey and Lorrie were both working on it at the same time in a different city. I think we got more corny as we worked together online! Tracey has mentioned, since the first course in this crazy journey, that she has a green screen in her garage and she really, truly does. It’s a cool set up and I can see how it would be LOTS of fun to use personally and at a school setting. So here it is, Between Two Yuccas. It is a bit on the long side, but with 3 of us, we really did have a lot to share!

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Leaving the Book Open

These are not my “final thoughts” on EDCI 569. I’ve decided not to have final thoughts on this course. I’ve decided not to put the info I’ve collected into a box and shelve it with “past information I have learned” in the storage cupboard of my mind. Instead, I am choosing to embrace 569 and how it has helped me to grow as a teacher, a learner and as a human being.

I have loved stories my whole life and, as I mentioned in the Learning Summary “Between Two Yuccas“, I love Doctor Who. One of my favourite quotes from this show honestly is “We’re all stories in the end, just make it a good one”. So instead of just loving this quote, I am choosing to live it, and I am using the tools, the ideas and connections this learning experience has given me to help me live my story.  I am opening up about my weight issues and my health on my health blog, and am finally letting people in on the struggles I have. Changing this to my learning project was, I believe, one of the best choices I have made in many years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard, but I have had such fantastic support from the cohort, my FB and Kinderchat friends and complete strangers that I have felt a lightening of the load. I joined a support group on Yahoo for people who are “releasing” the weight as I am, and it’s nice to connect with others who share my struggles.  I’ve discovered podcasts that help me to think about how I got to where I am and how to get to where I want to be. I’m even considering yoga, thanks to Tanya Ross!  Now, I’m not quite sure that I’m ready to do a vlog yet or even another podcast post, but I am working on it. The courage is there, it just needs a little more time to bloom.

I’m ready to share. I have always felt conflicted about letting the world see what I do in my classroom, or in my life. I seem to have no problem posting pics of food I cook, but I back away from sharing the awesome things I work on in my Kindergarten class. This course has shown me that I am not bragging, but that I am connecting. People do not need to click my links and see what’s happening in K, but if they choose to and if they get an idea, then I have impacted their learning. And isn’t that what life is about? Connecting, sharing, learning, and growing? In the past, teaching has been solitary and insular, and it’s time that we show people what we do, how we facilitate and how we learn. The public needs to see the excitement and passion we have for 21st century learning. And, yes, we, the females in education, need to be just a little bit louder. After talking with Audrey Watters, I see that need even more.

I’ve learned so much this term that I haven’t talked about on the blog. Melody Watson inspired me to look at FreshGrade, and it’s now something I am starting to implement in my classroom, and hopefully, in some other classrooms in the school. I got a Smart Board and man, have I been searching on YouTube for videos on how to use this new, BIG piece of tech. I love it, by the way! In my own health challenge, I started logging my food in My Fitness Pal again to watch my portions, used my Fitbit way more this term, and am looking at relaxation techniques, thanks to Heidi James.

My emotions are close to the surface as I write this today, because I know that I haven’t shared how much I have grown in all of my blog posts. I can’t quite explain it, can’t wordsmith it out. IT’s hard to share this feeling that’s so big in a blog somehow. As I sit here, though, and I as I reflect on my time with Alec and the tiegrad cohort, I know I have changed. I have a new PLN who pushes me , challenges me, and accepts me, and for that I thank you, ReggioPLC. Every chat I have with them affects how I look at my teaching. The tiefit group has really encouraged me to move more, the chats on Blue Jeans have brought me such laughter. I know that what I really got the most of this past term has been the connections, the collaborations and the stories we have told. There is so much more to learn, read and do that I am merely turning the page, starting the next chapter, and leaving this book wide open.

Taken on my iPhone

Taken on my iPhone

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The Matter of Gender

I was given the opportunity to visit with Audrey Watters twice in the past month. For those of you who don’t know her, this is her twitter account: @audreywatters and here is her blog: Hack Education. If you’ve never heard of her or if you’ve never read her stuff, it’s okay. I hadn’t either. But having  visited with her twice now, I can honestly say that my brain has not been quite restful since.

I know, I know, my friends, that my brain is never quite restful, but now my blinders are off on an area I thought was “safe”. I have had this innocent, limited view that education was a place where women were treated equally. I’m not saying that we are currently being harassed or paid vastly different from our male colleagues, but I though that we were being given the same treatment and respect as our male counterparts. My time listening  to and reading Audrey Watters’ work has taken those blinders off and I’m suddenly aware of an equity issue I really hadn’t considered before.

I’ve seen gender equity issues in other areas of my little world. Male doctors have tried for years to explain to me that my hormones and “female” issues shouldn’t affect my blood sugar readings or my diabetes, even though the numbers and patterns of my logbooks and CGM say otherwise. I spent a large amount of my teen and young adult years in the “geek closet” because girls weren’t supposed to love Star Trek, X-FIles, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and comic books that weren’t Archie. In the past couple of years, I have seen some male “geeks” accuse female “geeks of pretending to like the genre to get boyfriends, because the hero is “hot” and basically saying that their “geek” knowledge is false. (And i have cheered over male written articles like this one!)  I watched, in horror, as Gamer Gate blew up online last summer. I felt suddenly happy that I hadn’t participated in online gaming, but had instead stayed healthily interested in single player, single user games like Skyrim and Zelda. I knew about the treatment of women in cultures so far from how I was raised, and I have felt the appropriate amount of anger against men who seek to put women “in their place”. (This video arrived on my timeline 2 days after our talk with Audrey)  I just never realized that I was a part of it in education.

I work very hard to teach the children in my classroom that boys are not better than girls and that girls are not better than boys. Every year, however, I have the same conversations with my littles. Every year, there is someone in my group of 4 and 5 year old kids, who will emphatically claim that “Pink and red are GIRL colours and that blue is a BOY colour”. Every single year, we talk about how colours have no gender and that we are free to love whatever colour we want, but that one little voice still claims that pink is just for girls. The little people in my class love the house center, and that too is a source of infinite gender equity teaching. You see, in the fall, the girls are always told to stay in the house with the babies, while the boys dress up as police and fire officials to go to work. I have many, many, MANY conversations in the beginning of the year about these pretend roles and thankfully, by the end of the year, the babies are being cared for by many hands while all the children are dressing up in career clothes to go provide for the “family”. I find that so much of my playtime teaching is involved in encouraging my students to explore different roles; I encourage my girls to build and to tumble around while my boys need  encouragement to create artistic pieces and pursue more gentle play opportunities. However, I cannot control what happens when they go home, and therein lies my frustration.

The conversation our small group had before Audrey joined us in March, opened my eyes to my participation in this gender inequity in education. I have been asked to present, to show off my learning, for my staff at a staff meeting. My initial reaction was not one of honour, but one of horror. My first thought was simply, “Why? Nothing I’m doing is that special or unique.” Bryan Jack commented that if that same question was asked to many young, male teachers, they would jump at the opportunity to highlight their awesomeness. After talking to Audrey, Bryan Jack and Mardelle Sauerborn, I realized that I am participating in my own inequity by downplaying my own growth. I think back to our class visit with Dean Shareski and the conversation we had about bragging vs sharing, and I am starting to see that we, especially the women of this profession, have to start shouting our amazing achievements. Audrey talked about the “erasure of women” from history. Women like Ada Lovelace, the women of Bletchley Park who were brilliant minds, but who no one knew about until recently. I work in a female dominated profession (73% of teachers in this province are women) and I really don’t want us to be erased from educational reforms, pedagogical changes or educational history. Do you?

I see the inequities so much more now, than I did even 2 weeks ago. Audrey mentioned Anil Dash and his resolution to retweet only women for a year. I’m very tempted to do this, if only to highlight the amazing things women are doing in this field, in any field. I realize this won’t change everything, but perhaps all of our little actions against inequity can fan the spark and help bring change. It’s worth a try.

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