Category Archives: Grad School

Thank You #tiegrad

Wow. Just over 30 hours ago, I left my hotel and walked to Steamworks to meet a group of people I had been meeting online for almost 2 and a half years. I had meet a few of them before, but the idea of meeting 15 of them was a little nerve wracking to me. I was already pretty nervous about presenting my Masters of Education project, and the idea of finally being in the same room with these folks was adding excitement to the nerves. 

Wow doesn’t seem like a big enough word. Hugs, lots of hugs happened when I walked into an already large gathering. People who I have only seen on screen were much taller that I thought. MUCH taller (I may have had some hobbit feelings) and holy cow, was it ever FUN to be in the SAME ROOM with them. I wonder now why we didn’t do this sooner. 

The nerves stayed till I presented, but man, did I laugh and hug last night and, honestly, not once did I have my usual “awkward” moments that I am prone to in a large group. Folks can say that online connections aren’t the same as “real” connections, but, well,  I can’t honestly explain it. I just knew these people. I had caught glimpses of their lives over the hours we spent together online. We worked together, learned together, laughed together and struggled together. 

Every so often last night, I had to stop and look around and just realize that I was sitting beside Alison, or Harprit. That I could just walk over and talk to Heidi and discuss Marvel comics with Jake-IN PERSON! These were surreal moments for me. See, I always feel a little “outside” of groups at parties and gatherings, and last night I just didn’t feel that at all. The hardest part of the entire thing wasn’t actually giving my presentation, it was saying good-bye to these people. I felt like I wanted to keep talking to them. I wanted to call them up today and meet for coffee. It felt odd to see them onscreen this afternoon as the presentations wrapped up. 

I don’t know if words can ever explain the gratitude I have to Val for bringing us together.  I don’t know if she knew the connections that would be made as tiegrad grew. What I do know is that I am so thankful for these people in my cohort, my tiegrad family. Each of them has such greatness, such amazing brilliance, and they have so much heart.  I can’t wait till the graducation meet up!

Thank you. 

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Endings

I recently watched “Inside Out” after many people encouraged me to watch it. I get why. It’s a good movie and I am currently understanding those mixed blue and golden memory orbs at the end of the film. Things are ending  for me, and while I am incredibly happy and excited to be so close to the finish line of the Masters, I am also being hit with waves of sadness.

I have grown so much as a teacher in the past 2 years of this program. I have the confidence to do what I believe is developmentally appropriate with my students, and I now have a binder or two of research to pull on if I need to defend my theory of play, play, and more play with my young charges. While I am still not a huge “let’s go for a hike” person in my off time, I am more than willing to put on the rain suit (yes, I DID get a “muddy buddy”) and wellies and tramp outdoors with my students where we all get wet in the rain, dirty from the mud and somehow come in with huge smiles on our faces from exploring the great outdoors. Although I am tired of citing Dewey, I am embracing his ideas thanks to a summer course where my eyes were opened, and I think Loris Malaguzzi was brilliant. I have learned how to do SO MUCH with google (mail, slides, docs, hangouts, and more), and I am insanely proud of my website. (Really, I have started showing it to complete strangers!!)

I have met some bright, hilarious, talented, and geeky people on this journey. Our ‘off the cuff” meetings have me laughing so hard I can’t breath. They have let me vent over the frustrations of figuring out my topic and question, and they have supported me every time I have though of giving up. Some of them even understand my obscure references to Star Trek, Middle Earth, and the TARDIS. I even got to use my limited Kilingon knowledge. These people are the best, and I hope they know that.

I am excited to present tomorrow, I will be thrilled to finally submit the polished paper, and I rejoice over the opportunities given to me during my four months off to finish this and to work on myself. It has been a gift to get my health on the right track while spending copious amounts of time in front of the screen.

But still, I feel like crying. I will miss meeting with these brilliant people. I will miss the shared joy, frustrations, and laughter we have had. I keep forgetting that I am not returning to the students I left behind; the class that helped me change so much. I get nervous thinking about my return. I may have mentioned that I don’t like change, so I am struggling with the idea that I won’t have to write any more papers, do anymore research, and yes, I will miss having access to the books at the UVic library.

If you and I chat over the next few weeks, and you see me get weepy, I need you to know I am okay. I’m just adjusting to the new me. See, I have learned through this that I am stronger than I ever thought, smarter than I really believed, a better teacher than I realized, and that, although I may whine and complain, I am happy about the choices I am making. I have more to make. I’m not sure where my path is heading, but I can face it.

I am reminded of the Doctor (as I so often am) as I finish up this part of my life:

                        We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different                                 people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good,                                 you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the                               people that you used to be. (Moffat, 2013)

 

 

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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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Lit Review Ramblings

Quick post tonight on the status of the lit review. The binder of articles is sitting in front of me and I can almost hear it whispering, “Read us. Read us” to me in a creepy, sinister voice. I almost feel guilty now if I lay on the couch for a bit without a research paper in one hand and a highlighter pen in the other.  I have learned a lesson that I will share with future Masters students: Don’t change your plan 3 months before the first draft of the lit review is due. I mentioned this to a friend who did her Masters a couple of years ago, and her response was, “No. Don’t change your plan mid year.” But I did, and, boy, it was a challenge to find articles with the terms I was using. Thankfully, over Spring Break, I got some sleep, cleared the murkiness of my mind and was able to finagle some keywords and search terms that actually made sense to me. For example, while searching for information on the increasing use of devices and screen time, don’t just search for “Increasing Screen Time Usage”. Nay, nay, You must be specific! How about “Screen Time and Young Children”, “Student Time On Screen” or the real bonanza “Increasing Screen Time Use on Young Children” in the psychology database? Yay!

Oh, and then let’s just talk about the word NATURE. Adding that word to any search brings up a LOT of information on the “Nature of this” or the “Nature of that”, but not usually on actual trees, dirt, insects and you know…Nature. So, the jiggery pokery of search terms began again! Eventually, “Outdoor Learning and Young Children” came up with the best results.

This process has really shown me that the choice of words is key. That one has to look at the term or the subject from many different views before you find the keywords that just hit that perfect “zing” moment. The problem with defining those perfect terms for me though? I got distracted. Something shiny popped up in the search and I had to quickly scan that and see if I could use it to defend a classroom practice, or I found an article that a friend could use, or there was this book that someone else mentioned and I wonder if they have it at the UVIc library? I better go and …. SQUIRREL! (by this point in the process I was starting to wonder how I ever got my undergraduate degree.)

It’s the end of March, classes end on Thursday, and I have admitted to myself that I won’t have the first draft of this Lit Review completed. If I had another week off, maybe. But not at this point. I’m still plugging away, in the hopes that I can get some sort of information slapped together in the roughest form possible. Can a lit review be done as interpretive dance?

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Long Overdue

I’ve been avoiding this blog post for a while now. I need to give an “update” on my lit review, and I kept hoping that inspiration would strike in the late hours of the evening. Alas, that did not occur, and as term comes to an end, I know I have to write this.

My lit review took a major stall in January, when I caught the cold/flu virus from Hades. I had to take almost 2 weeks off of school, and getting back into the swing of things was difficult. I then decided I wasn’t far enough behind, and had a moment of utter doubt in my topic, followed by what I thought was a moment of “Clarity”. It wasn’t as clear as I thought.

In February, I dawdled. I knew I had to meet up with people in the know and ask for help, but that is something I find very hard to do. I have become better at seeking help, but I tend to have a small group of people I will go to for help. I reached out to my cohort and they really tried to talk me off of the ledge. I was able to touch base with Valerie, and had a really great chat with her about my ideas and where I thought I was going. I had focus again, and I was ready to start researching at warp speed. But life, frustrating, wonderful life, once again stalled me. Report cards had to be written, a new system had to be learned, and I once again was distracted by something shiny. I skipped my February update figuring, I could get to it tomorrow. Well, my tomorrows have caught up to me.

Spring Break was around the corner and I thought I could get a significant amount of researching done online while I sat and listened to the riveting pension statements, guest speakers and campaign speeches of the AGM. I tried, but my attempts at accessing the articles were blocked by really bad hotel WiFi. There went another week.  When I returned home, I knew there was going to be a problem if I didn’t get busy.

I’m on day 4 of my marathon research search. I finally found a decent selection of articles on Place Based Learning, another good selection on Outdoor Learning, and today I begin the search for Screen Time statistics. I have a feeling that this will not be done by the deadline. It’s my own fault. But I’ll be working hard to get something ready. It will be far from ideal, but it’ll be a start.

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Week One, Part One, Chapter One

FYI: This will also be seen on my personal health journey blog, Not In A Blue Box. So if you happen to subscribe to both, my apologies for the repeat.

In a previous blog, somewhere, I mentioned that I had been given the gift of a book called Full-Filled by Renee Stephens, but was finding i challenging to find the time to sit down and actually begin the process. This past week, I finally got down to it. As a part of my EDCI course, I have been trying to work on and write about #lianeslife, a little project to get myself into a better state of being. This first chapter, or Week One, certainly got me thinking.

Week One is titled: Creating Motivation for Lasting Change. I haven’t completed all of the “Dig Deep” assignments in the chapter yet, as I thought I would do a couple at a time and write about them here. What I did do was read the chapter and then listen to the corresponding podcast here. I picked up a journal in Victoria to record my thoughts and deep diggings in, but I tell you, this first week got me a little down as the ice bucket of reality water hit me in the head. The first bit of digging I had to was to look at the behaviours I want to change. I never realized how much I didn’t like what I do. I knew I didn’t like how I was, but this exercise had me really looking at what I don’t like about my food, physical activity and physical being. I won’t print the whole list up, but here are my highlights:

  • I snack all evening, especially when I am sitting down after dinner.
  • I really dislike the formal idea of exercise.
  • I buy healthy foods, but find reasons not to cook, especially on a weeknight,
  • If I’m sad, I eat something fatty like cheese.
  • If I’m happy, I eat something sweet like candy or dessert.
  • If I’m stressed I eat anything unhealthy. The more salt the better.
  • Most of my pictures on my camera are of delicious foods I have eaten, not people
  • I hate looking in the mirror.
  • I will not go swimming which I used to love.

Ms. Stephens than asked me, the reader, to think about the symptoms I have due to my weight issues, and to write those down. The list is, again, long but eye opening for myself. The highlights:

  • Doing physical activity actually hurts, and makes me feel even more awkward and clumsy
  • I get out of breath quickly
  • I won’t date
  • I hate having my photo taken
  • I apologize to people all the time for being in their way
  • Surgeon told me I would die early because of the weight
  • Tire easily when playing with my students or with my friends’ kids

She asked us to think about who we are affecting with these symptoms and behaviours. That was hard for me as I don’t have kids or a partner. I thought a lot about my friendships and how the weight I carry has affected them. It has. I have been jealous of those who have lost the weight and have longed to have their motivation. I have avoided certain social functions because I don’t like how I look or because I don’t have anything flattering to wear. I try not to be “overweight” with my students, and I model good healthy eating with them, and try to be physical activity, but even they recognize that their teacher is fat. (Yep, one of them very innocently told me that I was.)

I know. This sounds like a depressing beginning to the plan, doesn’t it? It was a real slap in the face to me that I thought these ways and felt like this, but once I had written it down, there it was. No turning back. I know that next parts of the books, and I hope the next podcast, are about the “Towards” and “Away From” motivation. I look forward to reading about those and finding my motivation.

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Lemons and Toothpaste Just Don’t Mix

This weekend I went out for breakfast with one of my favourite breakfast people. I love having a meal with her becuase we just chat, and chat, and chat. We can honestly discuss absolutely everything. We may get heated by the discussion, but it’s okay because I have this DEEP respect for her and I feel like she thinks same way about me. I do tend to get more heated about topics than she does. She blames the red hair.

This weekend I noticed her having a cup of hot water and lemon. When I inquired about this new habit, she explained that her mom (who is an RN and who I trust) got her started on this pre-breakfast habit. Being the person I am, and always up for procrastination, I decided to do a little digging into the hot water and lemon idea.

My friend and her mom claim that this habit has helped them to cut back on the amount of coffee that they drink in a day and that they both are feeling a general sense of ‘better” since starting the practice. I am always up for ways to help myself feel better, so I went out, purchased some lemons and started to hunt out info on the benefits to this habit. 

The fine people at lifehack.org supplied me with a list of benefits I could expect from drinking a cup of lemon water everyday. According to the author, Krissy Brady, this simple drink would help with my skin, joint inflammation, weight loss, caffeine habit, will freshen my breath, boost my immune system, fight off viral infections and aid in digestion. SIgn me up! This is a wonder cure. Why isn’t everyone drinking this cheap elixir of health and goodness? Apparently they are. I’m just new to the party. 

Post after post, article after article heralded a cup of lemon water in the morning as the new cure for what ails you. Huffington Post, ABC News, and even Livestrong extoll the virtues of a warm water and lemon drink in the morning.  Now, there was some disagreement among the 8 or so articles I perused, regarding the temperature of the water, the amount of lemon for your body weight, and whether you should have it before you eat or after. The one thing I learned today when I had my first cup of lemon water: DON’T drink it AFTER you brush your teeth. 

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It’s Dangerous To Go Alone!

One of my all time favourite video games is still The Legend of Zelda. There was always something about Link, heading off on a quest, that called to me. There were puzzles to colve, worlds to explore, battles to be fought with bow and arrow, sword and shield. In the old version of Zelda, there was a character who would say “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” and he would give Link a sword. My friend gave me a great bookmark for my recent birthday with this saying on it:

As I have made a commitment to work  on “Liane’s Life”, I decided to use this bookmark as inspiration. I’ve had a book by Renee Stephens and Samantha Rose called “Full-Filled” for almost 9 months now, and I have wanted to sit down and read it. But as many of know, time slips away and the actions of life get in the way. When I decided to drop the MOOC for my EDCI 569 course, I thought I could focus on this book. I could read it and really have some space to get down to the root of my dysfunctional relationship with food. That hasn’t happened. I’d love to say that reading this book would teach me a new skill, but I know that I won’t get through this 6 week plan by the time my course is over, and I know that sitting down to read each week will be a struggle. I will try. I really, really will. I’ll also do my best to blog about what I am realizing. Some of the posts may be on my other blog, Not In A Blue Box, but I will link to them here. For now, I am going to read Chapter 1 of Full-FIlled, buy a journal as the introduction suggests, try to reach my 10,000 steps a day and drink a cup of hot water with lemon every morning. (Long story)

It’s dangerous out there! Emotional turmoil ahead, health hazards with every step. SO i’m going to go ahead, and take this book. 

I really need to read this. Time to shed some emotional eating habits.

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