Category Archives: Open Education

Speaking Minecraft

Once again, I feel the need to explain myself pre-post. I had no clue what I was getting into. Most of the terms I heard in my MCE course today were slightly foreign. Servers, LAN hosts, Plug-Ins, Mods and more-OH MY! This truly is one of those posts written simply for my own clarification, and if it helps someone else, I am glad!

SERVERS: A computer that hosts Minecraft worlds for Multiplayer games. Defined by instructor as “software living on a computer”. It can be any computer, anywhere in the real world, not the Minecraft world.

There are 4 different ways to host a game for Minecraft:

LAN A single player game person can go to the menu and open their game to a Local Area Network. The computer (and the MC world on it) is now open to people who are on the same Wi-Fi. If you have 18 kids on iPads in the classroom, one of them can host the game so all the kids in that room play together. Lag time in the game becomes an issue if you do it this way.
Localhost The server software is on a computer, and the game players connect to that server on that computer. If it was on my laptop, I can still play the game on that computer while allowing others access to the world.  If I host a server, it allows me greater access to mods, plug-ins and more. Others connect to this game through an IP address. If you do not have a static IP address, people have to enter it every time they play.
LAN Host This is how Minecraft EDU is set up. There is a computer, somewhere in the building (perhaps in the server room) which is dedicated to running MC. This reduces load on the PC, as you are not playing and hosting, and it reduces lag time in the game. Students probably couldn’t do MC assignments at home as they wouldn’t have access to the server. However, it does protect the world and players from “outside world” players.
Cloud This is one of the more “powerful” ways to host a MC server as you pay for someone to host. They put aside space in their server for your game. You still have control of the world and can change it up, but a company has invested in the right type of server which tends to make it “robust”. This method is safe and durable, but it might not work in school settings with FOIPPA.

Server Types

Vanilla

  • Straightforward
  • Downloaded from minecraft.net
  • Basic gameplay server

Bukikit

  • Customizable gameplay
  • Can add in plug-ins, mods, protections
  • No longer in service due to US copyright laws.
  • SpigotMC.info has replaced it by stripping the illegal code and reconfiguring it
  • Not official Minecraft

Forge

  • Functionality of Bukkit
  • Minecraft EDU uses Forge
  • On the website, use 1.7.10 as recommended version

Plug-Ins

Server Side Plug-Ins

-give the server host control of areas, actions and objects

-affect everyone in the game on that server

Client Side Plug-Ins

-mods (modifications)

-each player can make a mod to his/her MC version on their computer

-does not affect game play of all

Interestingly, a host can use a Server Side Plug In to block a cheat mod such as X-Ray for all players by putting a “BLOCK X-RAY” plug in. As host you can put in protected areas in the world, and as a player, you can add a mod that others may not have.

 

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Well, I’m Not Ironman….

Let me explain: as I write this, I am listening to The Avengers Soundtrack. All I can think of, with the music blaring, is Tony Stark at the end of the first Ironman movie admitting that he WAS, in fact, Ironman.

Well, I’m not Ironman, but I am supposed to give a brief introduction about me. Everything I have written in my head and in draft form, sounds like I am doing a write up for a dating site, so here goes. I am known by many names: Miss Loeppky, Liane, @namesescapeme, teacher, Auntie and even, “hey you, you with the glasses”. I am turning 40 in a couple of months and that terrifies me. In my younger days, I was convinced I wouldn’t live to see 30, so everyday is a little miracle. I’ve survived type 1 diabetes for 34 years, and everyday I hope for a cure. I have been teaching for 17 years and I have spent the majority of it in one school. I’ve taught K-3, and was a teacher librarian for 3 years. I loved spending other people’s money on books.  I trained to be a professional opera singer and I play piano to express my emotion. I have all 3 video game systems and am determined to finish Legend of Zelda FINALLY. I am a passionate Trekkie, Whovian, Browncoat, Middle Earthian, and Lego fan. I wear my NERD shirt with pride and dream of attending ComicCon after I get my Masters.

The questions, “What do I want teach the world? Why? How are you going to do it?” flamed my procrastination for this assignment. I have NO clue what I want to teach the world. I honestly don’t feel qualified to teach the world anything. There are lots of things I want to teach pockets of people in the world, but as a whole, I just don’t know. The “pocket” things I want to teach? Well, they are:

  • Play is not a dirty word. It can be a dirty practice and it will get messy. It may even involve dirt at times.  It is applicable to all ages and I believe we need to involve our students in purposeful play. I learned from teachers who let me be creative and think outside of the box. They let me play with the blocks to understand multiplication and let us set up our school into the Jets and the Sharks for a musical theater experience. I am still working out how to be the facilitator of playful learning in my class.
  • Self Regulation should be a focus for Kindergarten, not reading, writing or math. I believe that the young people I work with are not coming into school with the skills to regulate themselves in order to learn. They may know their alphabets, but can’t try when something is hard and have no idea how to calm themselves when their emotions run high.
  • We need to bring nature back into our schools. It needs to be in our classrooms, and our playgrounds need to stop being sterilized of weeds and sticks. We need places for students to grow food and to investigate the world. Feeling the wind on your face and the grass under your feet is the most natural thing in the world and how many of us have the time or places to do that. Nature connects us to this planet. We need to encourage that.

As I stated above, I have no idea how to teach these things to people, much less to the whole world. I try to give presentations and involve myself in twitter chats focussing on Early Years, Environmental Education and I even tried to start a chat to gain more understanding about the Reggio Emilia approach. I don’t tend to blog about these topics, because I feel I am still a novice at them. There are people out there I read and listen to who are so much more knowledgeable than I. I try to share their wisdom while searching for my own. 

There you go. Not Ironman. Just Liane.

 

 

 

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Blog Inspiration

I sat in front of my computer the other night, trying to determine Open Education opportunities I have had over the course of this term. I’ve tweeted and chatted and sat around a “campfire” with people I admire and am amazed at. One person’s blog, in particular, has inspired me to change how I view the technology in my classroom and to look at the “why” of what I am teaching.

I have followed Matt B Gomez’s blog for about 6 months now. I had heard of him, had conversations with him on twitter, and knew of him from #kinderchat. At the end of the last school year, I decided to start checking his blog posts on a regular basis.  I had subscribed to his blog, but hadn’t really taken the time to sit and really read his writing. Over the summer, when I received an email about a new post, I would give it a quick scan and go back to whatever pressing summer task was at hand. I didn’t really read the post until I saw one that I had originally skipped titled, “Living Centers in Elementary Classrooms”. It was a re-post from a year earlier, but as I read it, I started to get excited about implementing this idea into my own classroom. I realized that just skimming these posts of Matt’s was not cutting it. I had to get serious, because this teacher in Texas had amazing ideas.

I started to go back over Matt’s blog, and now when an email comes in to tell me that he has posted, I try to find an actual space of time to read and think about his post. As with everything, there are some things that I am not sure I am quite ready to do in my class, but I have started to adapt some of his suggestions and ideas to our learning environment. I recently expressed my frustration over teaching writing with my students. It has always been my weakest subject area to teach, and I was at a loss at how to help my little people take pencil to paper and express themselves.  Matt mentioned his Wonder Journals to me, which was a blog post I had skimmed. I went back to look at how he used the app Explain Everything to show a picture from Wonderopolis. Under the picture are 1-2 simple vocabulary words to help the kids recording what they wonder. I went back and read that post again and took the idea back to my class.  We didn’t jump right into the writing the first day, but looked at pictures and wondered aloud at the marvel we saw. By now, my kids are starting to record their thoughts and images in a Wonder Journal of their own, and are realizing that writing is not just frame sentences and phonics lessons.

There are so many ideas in Matt’s blogs.  He posts videos to show how he uses technology in the class and to highlight apps that he feels work in a classroom setting. He gave me the idea to plop a couple of our jack-o-lanterns into the school plant bed so that we could watch them decompose. His dance and alphabet mixes on Symbaloo get used a lot in my room, and have inspired me to start “messing around” with my own Symbaloo page. He has helped to show me that the iPad in my room can do far more than I ever imagined. I have started to refer other people to his website when they ask me for “good” apps and ideas for the limited technology in their rooms.

I would love to be able to walk across the hall or drive down the street to visit Mr. Gomez’s classroom and see him in action. But I can’t. Professional Development funds won’t quite cover the cost of a trip to Texas. His blogs are the next best thing to seeing inside his room, and thankfully, one can usually find him at the kinderchat for questions and advice.

Thanks for the learning and inspiration.

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Tools: Twitter

I have been asked to blog about my Open Education experiences as a part of my Master’s course, and this raised quite a few questions in my mind. The biggest one was: What is open education? Being me, I instantly went to Google to find an answer. It was a bit of shock to see that the majority of examples, definitions and sites I was given were for open classrooms.  The next step: ask my knowledgeable, university librarian, big sister. Her answer: “online courses or experiences where you can learn about things, but not necessarily get credit for it. A university course, perhaps, but it wouldn’t really count.” Well, that cleared things up, but then the panic hit. I needed to take another course I wouldn’t get credit in order to blog about it for a course I am getting credit in? I had no clue where to start. Thankfully, my fellow classmates were less panicky than I, and I found out I had been doing “Open Education” on twitter for a few years thanks to #kinderchat!

I am not going to talk about the wonderful group of people I have met through #kinderchat; there just is not enough time. But, for those of you who don’t know, #kinderchat is a twitter chat on Monday nights from 6:00-7:00 and it involves teachers mostly from North America who gather to discuss trends, policies and practices in Kindergarten and Grade 1. They have a hashtag which, when used outside of the chat times, is usually responded to by one or more “tweeps” who are there for support and advice.

The use of twitter for education is, I believe, a relatively new idea. When I first joined twitter years ago, I rarely saw groups gather to discuss topics and I don’t think the term hashtag had even been created. Now there are chats dedicated to many different grades, education systems, pedagogy, and even wine chats. Many have a set time, a schedule and some have a variety of moderators, while others have one or two that constantly take the helm. Both ways work, but only having one or two moderators can be a bit exhausting for the moderator, and might get tiresome for the participants. Having a variety of moderators can be an organizational nightmare, I imagine, but offers a greater variety of voice when choosing topics. Having some active participants in the chats is key. I started a chat with a friend this year, and although our groups are usually small, the chat is active. We are able to discuss the topic at hand, and have some great insights into our students’ learning, and our own. For me, having people to learn about Reggio Emilia from online is a huge help, as I am a novice with this kind of learning/teaching. Our varying areas of knowledge and our different time zones can be a great bonus, as a question or idea can be posted at recess , and all sorts of help and experience can have weighed in before the break is even finished.

No matter how great a tool is, though, there will always be some drawbacks. I enjoy the chats I am involved in, but sometimes they are just too fast for me. It can be very difficult, if it is a “burning” topic, to keep up with the opinions, ideas and yes, sometimes the egos of the chat. As in conversation, it is extremely easy to get off topic, and all too easy to be distracted by what is going on in the area around me. I sometimes come back to the chat and have to spend 10 minutes catching up. It continues to be very hard to read voice in some tweets, and I know that with a “real” conversation, I can rely on the tone and facial expressions to gather more information on the speaker. That is extremely difficult to do on twitter, and can lead to some misunderstandings.

Twitter as an open education tool is a good one, I believe. It allows so many voices to participate, and gives people the chance to “lurk” if they are not quite ready to push that “tweet” button. It is available to anyone who wants to join in, and I believe it gives people reading your feed, the opportunity to see what is going on in the lives of educators. We have had people pop in who are not teachers, but parents, who want to share their perspectives on topics.  I look at my students connecting on twitter to learn about classes around the continent and realize that I am on the same path as them with my connections to these teachers.

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One Little Question….

Last year, I became aware of the Reggio Emilia approach to education. For those of you who don’t know what this is,the Reggio Emilia approach uses natural world objects, loose parts, provocations and exploration in an emergent learning way. It is far from how we in North America have taught children in the past, but embraces much of what early childhood experiences should be. That being said, there are pockets of people around this continent who have always embraced this play based, exploration way of working with children. Reggio Emilia has gained in popularity recently, as we are taking a step away from pencil and paper, academic Kindergartens and Grade 1 classes.

I have been trying to learn about this approach and have relied on many educators who I consider experts in Early Childhood Education. One of the places I have gained inspiration is the Monday night #kinderchat. I have sat in on many fascinating discussions about play and learning with some extremely knowledgeable people. What I wasn’t seeing was a group dedicated to Reggio Emilia. Well, in true form, I asked one little question: “Is there a Reggio chat? Looking to expand my knowledge.”

That one question with less than 140 characters created a lot of responses. There was definitely an interest in exploring Reggio Emilia, and I admit, my panic started to rise when people suggested I start one. I sought some advice from the folks who started #kinderchat and I got the best advice from @happycampergirl, “So, this one day, we made up a hashtag… and then we picked a timeslot….” I had to laugh; it sounded so simple and yet my heart was pounding! A fellow teacher from Ontario was interested in helping out and she thought we could lead the chat together. In a matter of  about 25 tweets and 2 days, #reggiochat was born.

 I consider #reggiochat “my baby” right now. I know I share responsibility of it with my PLN partner, but it has given me further reason to read and explore more into the world of Regio Emilia. At the inaugural chat on Oct. 2, 2013 there were teachers from Canada, the United States and even one from Singapore. I admit that the first chat seemed like the most nerve-wracking hour for me. I had some questions to pose if the conversation lagged, but they weren’t really needed. Much like the idea of emergent curriculum, the conversation emerged on its own. The ideas that were shared and the knowledge of the people in the chat was astounding. I was able to take ideas and start using them right away in my classroom. I have so many questions and this arena of chatting on twitter lets me ask and not feel ignorant, as I know there are others out there who are wondering the same thing. We have continued to meet, although there have been some hiccups. Illness, holidays and another Reggio chat sharing Wednesday have all been things to contend with. I believe we are now beginning to meet every 2 weeks, and although the groups are often small, they are knowledgable.

Through #reggiochat, I have also started to use Storify to archive the conversations we have. That was another learning curve for me. I never thought I would be archiving twitter chats about student documentation. It is a great tool though. Easy to use and ties into my twitter account so I can quickly access it after a chat, before I race off to #enviroed or a Campfire Chat. 

I hope we continue to meet and grow. I hope more poeple bring their brilliance and wonder to share with #reggiochat. I am proud fo starting this little chat, and opening up the world of Reggio Emilia and emergent curriculum to the twitterverse.

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EDCI Curse

My brain hasn’t been able to shut off for almost a month now. I know that the new school year, the grade change, and the usual stresses of September have caused my brain to run at a higher than normal speed, but this year, I have a new adrenaline rush. It’s name: Graduate School.

I have found myself thinking about my first Graduate course, EDCI 338, at the strangest times. The content which we have discussed permeates my brain in the dark hours of the evening, during the morning routine of my students, and even while sitting at a union executive meeting. I find that our class and Twitter discussions into technology, social media and inquiry based learning is starting to seep into every hour of my waking moments. It has become a living, breathing EDCI Curse

I look back through the sketchbook I use to document my thinking and learning, and I am struck at the words I see repeated. Inquiry. Project-based. Twitter. How? Curriculum. I understand why I am writing those words from every conversation I have, from each class I attend. in my head, however, I am still trying to weave everything I i have recently discovered about Early Childhood Development together with nature based experiences in a technological world. With every step I take towards resolving a question in my mind, 5 more pop up. Unfortunately, I am hung up on the word I find myself writing the most in my notes: Curriculum.

I read and reread the notes I took on Jeff Hopkins’ inspiring and energizing talk about his school, and I am passionately fired to provide opportunities of exploration, questioning and discovery for my young students. I prepare for questions from the parents, I garner support from the teachers around me, I search for ideas through my fabulous PLN. I relish the idea of cutting apart the outcomes and thinking of them as projects, instead of subject areas. I wish I could go back 6 weeks and have the time to do just that. As I put together a “discovery” plan for the week with my students, I am not just looking at the subjects, but the explorations we can do. I am prepared to justify this way of learning to practically everyone I meet. Every time I find myself getting excited about this new way of facilitating learning, I almost start to vibrate, but then I remember my dilemma. How do I justify this to an employer who requires numbers and data? How do I stand against the direction for me to produce percentages and statistics on 5 and 6 year olds? I know I am not alone in this question. It is one thing for an entire school to stand up and say, no. It is very different for a single teacher in a single district where the goals for some of our learners are so lofty and seemingly unattainable.   This is where my excitement begins to wane. It is a dilemma, a problem, which I know I have to face. I believe so strongly in what we are talking about and I know it will change learning for the better. I need our administrators, our superintendents and our governments to truly believe in it as well.

At the end of Jeff’s talk in September, I found a question scrawled in my book. It was simply, “Why won’t they do K-3? K-s Malaguzzi style!!” A part of me wishes and dreams that this would happen. That it could happen in my very own district. Instead, I suppose, it’s up to me and my fellow education reformers to start the change in our small, and large, classrooms around BC.  It’s time to be the “grassroots” movement taking kids out of a textbook and into discovery.  Thank you Jeff, for showing me a way to start.

 

 

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