Tag Archives: #edci569

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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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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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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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Maker?

I decided to try a blog post this week using Explain Everything. It might be a bit choppy, as I am not used to using this app in this way. But, I’m trying. This has taken me a couple of weeks to make as I gathered photos and figured out how to create a “show” on Explain Everything.  It’s where my head went during and after Sylvia Martinez talked to the class about the “Maker Movement”.

Here is my Maker Video.

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Ramblings On the Subject of Joy

Well, I did it. I made an audio recording of a reflection for the class.  You can find it on my new SoundCloud page. Thanks to Tanya, Mardelle and Jarod for helping me figure out how to make an audio recording. My learning curve is HUGE these days (much like that picture of me on this post-Yikes!)

SoundCloud Link: 

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Cameras and Kindergartens

IMG_0036Today I learned a valuable lesson: if you want to see what your students see, give them a camera. Today we went outside and took the school iPads with us to photograph what we see. I am truly awed by the images some of my students took, and I am laughing at some of the videos they filmed. I can’t post the videos on here, but let me tell you, I have some funny kids in this class. I didn’t help them with the images and none of them are edited. These are simply the things my students saw through the lens today. It has inspired me. Enjoy.

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Failure Is Not An Option

Kranz at his Console

ConsoleKranz” by NASA Licensed under Public Domain

“Failure is NOT an option” is a phrase I remember from my teen years. The movie Apollo 13 came out in 1995, two years before I would graduate from high school. Hearing Gene Kranz, played brilliantly by Ed Harris, utter those words stuck with me. (To be fair, the phrase was written for the move; Kranz admits he never said it.)  At the time, I was preparing for entrance into University, I was determined and I had been conditioned to believe that failure was a shameful thing. Fast forward a couple of decades, and I still struggle with the idea of failure. I love the new acronyms being posted online for the word FAIL; First Attempt At Learning is probably my favourite one. I, however, haven’t managed to master that mindset.

In the middle of February, Tiegrad classmate, Jake Main did something I found incredibly brave. He admitted that he was overwhelmed. He put into words, the feelings that I have been struggling with since the end of January.  I had decided to take up a MOOC this semester as a learning project for EDCI 569. The MOOC itself is one about MInecraft for Educators. What I have found time to read and learn about MIneccraft has been interesting and educational, but I realized by the end of week 2, that all of my time was going into MInecraft. That is not my focus right now. I was spending the time allotted for 569 and 515 (my courses for the term) reading Minecraft, watching videos on Minecraft and trying to keep up with the conversations and community on the MOOC. When I got sick in January, I realized something fundamentally important. I simply cannot do all of this.

I ran away instead of facing my overwhelming feelings that I was a failure. I started watching Star Trek: TNG during my illness, and I continued to escape into that for at least an hour every evening. I started to play my absolute favourite computer game, SIMS 3, again. I escaped the overwhelming reality by running away into “happy places” and then had pangs of guilt later for not dealing with my reality. I even considered dropping out of the MEd program so that I could go back to a reality where I didn’t feel confused, lost and overwhelmed. My classroom became, for those 2 weeks in February, the only place I felt in control. Then I had THE day. As a Type 1 Diabetic, everything exploded. My blood sugars had a 24 hour period fo rampant 20’s. They should be between 4-10. I had high ketones, a condition called ketoacidosis was close to occurring. I “woke” up when my endocrinologist called with real concern for my readings.  My body was telling me something: Get It Together!

I’ve taken a week to really think about what I am doing and where I am at. I am not willing to drop out. I have worked too hard, made too many sacrifices and am enjoying the learning and camaraderie of my tiegrad cohort. But I am, despite the online presence of friends and the supportive words of my IRL friends, doing this on my own. I have no family to support me in my efforts, and I have to take care of myself first. SO I am dropping the MOOC, and I am releasing the guilt I feel and the sense of failure. I hope to take it again, when I have time to really investigate Minecraft and what can be done with it in a educational setting. I made a commitment to myself on August 20, 2014 and I’ve decided to recommit myself here. My Personal Learning Journey had begun before EDCI 569 started, but I was too scared to share it here with the people who I know will treat me gently. I know now that I need to share it here. I need to let my cohort into this part of my life see the other side of who I am. It’s not a FItbit journey, nor a meditative one, and it isn’t one about healthy eating. It’s my life journey.  My skill I’m learning isn’t just for 569, it’s for my life. So my new tag and my new category will be #Liane’sLife. I suppose the title could be: How Failure Became a Search for Balance. I hope you can help on my journey.

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That Prickly Tech Feeling

Tonight I spent an hour of my evening, as I often do, engaged in the Kinderchat conversation. Tonight we were discussing Google in the Classroom. It was a quieter chat for me. I didn’t engage as much as usual, and the evening chat left me with that itchy, prickly feeling like Leonard’s sweater from a Big Bang Theory episode. (The Itchy Brain Simulation) It took a bit of DMing a couple of friends to work out that prickly feeling.

There was a great deal of conversation at first about teachers using Google to collaborate with other teachers, parents and admin. I don’t have any problem with that. I love using Google with my tiegrad classmates and friends to communicate, share and do projects together, If I had parents who were willing to share their email address with the school, I would gladly start up a gmail account and Google calendar for the class.Some of the things that people were discussing were fabulous and noteworthy. My itchy sweater feeling wasn’t coming from there.

Then the discussion started to veer into how we as educators use Google and the Google Apps with the Kindergarten kids. Again, I think there are some great features within Google to use with the littles. We look for the provinces, states and towns where our twitter friends are on Google Maps. We search out places we want to travel to and places we are from on the map app. It is a great adventure for my kids to see the world spinning and to see how the other side of our planet is dark while we are sunny. So cool when you are 5 (or 41). We use Google images A LOT. Whenever we are not sure about some information or what something may look like, the cry is roused by small voices, “We should Google that!” and we often do. Google images has some amazing visuals for kids and I don’t want to stifle anyone’s passion for using Google in the kindergarten classroom.  But, when I hear of quizzes being made for and marked on Kinders in Google Sheets and the workbooks being made in Google Slides, it does makes me cringe. But again, the itchy sweater isn’t coming from there either.

Kinderchat talks a lot about issues close to our hearts. Two of my issues, play and the natural world, are topics we cover in the 8 week cycle of chat topics. My friends, Mardelle and Amy, really helped me to identify the itchy sweater tonight. When we talk about PLAY in the kindergarten classroom, there are many people who express why they aren’t able to play in the classroom: School regulations, testing, Common Core, and more. We try to provide advice, research and help for those who are advocating for play in their classes. During the NATURE chats, there are people expressing why they can’t take kids outside for play: there are no green spaces, school regulations, outdoor play is seen as unimportant and more. Again, support is provided and advice is given to those who need it.  But when the topic of technology comes up, there seems to be very little “I can’t” in the chat.  Tonight, a debate started over typing vs printing. Is typing important? Probably. Is it important to the fine motor muscles of a 4 or 5 year old? I would say no. Kinderchat co-creator Amy happened to have the research to show supporting her “teach printing” belief, and I am thankful for that. Somehow my “because my gut says so” defence seemed to lack something in the debate. But when I watch the finger muscle development of my students as they work with clay and plasticene, as they try to manipulate chopsticks this week, I know in my heart of heart, that they are not ready for typing in Kindergarten. Mardelle asked me a question that really defined my itchy sweater: “Why is tech such an easy sell when play, and being outside, is such a tough one?” The more research I read about anxiety and stress in young children, the more I wonder why we aren’t outside every single day. I am absolutely not against tech with the littles. It has it’s place in the school classroom and the natural classroom. But if it is simply becoming another workbook, worksheet, or flashcard tool, then we are not considering what is developmentally appropriate for the age. If we are willing to jump into technology with 2 feet, shouldn’t we be jumping into play and nature with our everything? I think you know where I stand. What do you think?

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