Technology Trials: While Starting Staff Training

I really enjoy irony, and with my project this week it’s been upfront and central. I’m taking an online educational technology class, and my internet was down. Therefore, I was without technology in my home for a couple of days; I had many ideas of what I should be doing, and no-way of following through. Frustration, agony, and peace were all strangely intermingled as I wondered what I was to learn from this.

Photo Credit: aliceheiman Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve learned that I need to download YouTube video’s so I have this content on my computer instead of trusting YouTube, but I still don’t know how to do that.  Using the staff is tough, I’d planned on practicing every day; without a video to follow it was impossible.

Instead, I stretched in the mornings, worked on sit-ups, planks, push-ups, and doing three forms of Tai-Chi. Doing sit-ups, planks, and push-ups have been a shock to my body, but it feels good. I’d forgotten how Tai-Chi puts me mentally in the zone, and how wonderful it feels to move my body this way. Maybe, preparing myself like this is the best way to proceed before I start my staff classes.

Photo Credit: Kuan Ching Tao Flickr via Compfight cc

At the beginning of the week I did do one staff class with “Bo Staff Class for Complete Beginners – Yellow Chevron”. When the instructor tells you to “follow through the video without giving up”, you know his workout is going to be difficult. I tried to keep up and enjoyed the workout. My hand positions with the different strikes feel awkward, I feel unsure and inadequate.

I hadn’t thought through the amount of space needed to practice using the staff and realize my small apartment could be problematic. The staff gives a much wider reach, and space is important; I might have to go the park to practice.

My staff right now is my garden hoe, which is weighted at one end, it’s not the best tool, but it’s OK for now.

I have never made a video of myself before, and this was something brand new for me. Trying to figure out where and how to position the iPad took time and some ingenuity. I made this video during my second review of the “Bow Staff Class for Complete Beginners – Yellow Chevron“.  Once the movie was made I had to figure out how to edit it. I watched “Clip and Trim iMovie 10” although this was great, I had to watch it several times to understand how everything works. I’m really pleased I figured this out. The movie I made shows the level I am at now, which is an excellent base line.

As with all martial arts, I need to practice my staff skills. The hand positions felt awkward and uncomfortable. The teachers of any martial art make things look easy, and it isn’t. To get better I need to practice every day. I have practiced four times with the beginner video this week. I had hoped to practice more but with the internet being down it put a halt to my practice schedule.

This is the video I’ve been using this week to learn basic stances and strikes.

 

 

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Thoughts on Twitter

Photo Credit: Helen Orozco Flickr via Compfight cc

Twitter is a whole new world for me. Twitter is something I’ve heard about but didn’t understand; even when I googled it I still felt left in the dark. All I knew was Donald Trump uses Twitter, therefore, it must be scary.

I’ve only been on Twitter for a few days, but it’s not as scary as I initially thought. I’m still overwhelmed, but I can see how it would be a useful tool for gathering and sharing information. I’m just learning how to post comments on people’s tweets, like, and retweet relevant information. It’s remarkably easy to do, but time seems to disappear when I start looking for articles. I find so many different and fascinating blogs, time zooms past; I’ve learned something new, but my day has vanished!

Photo Credit: dolphy_tv Flickr via Compfight cc

I can see how using Twitter in the classroom is an excellent tool for student’s inquiry-based learning as they can research topics that interest them. Students can find information and share it quickly and easily with others in their group, or with friends which is great.  Samantha Miller has written an article “50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom“, that gives more than enough ideas of how Twitter can be used. But, there is so much information on Twitter and as it continually moves and changes I can see students becoming easily distracted, loose focus, and investigate other topics that aren’t academically relevant. Also, I find Twitter time consuming, and I’m sure students will too. Using Twitter in the classroom has it’s merits but students will have to have clear parameters stating what information they should be looking for to keep them on task.

#Saskedchat

#Saskedchat was quiet the experience. Trying to watch, and listen, to my online class, and participate in the group chat was overwhelming. There was so much information thrown at me all at once, I didn’t know where to look, or what I was looking at. I was confused. The group chat was fast paced, and full of like minded individuals, which was good. I can see the value of this type of professional development and will want to participate in another group chat once I feel more comfortable with Twitter.

Feeding my Feedly Account

Feedly was overwhelming at first. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I typed in key words into the search box and lists of blog groupings came up. I reviewed each group by looking at their summary and decided if their material was relevant. It didn’t take me long to realize that the number of followers and the numbers of new blogs posted a week are important in the twitter-verse. Therefore, choosing my Feedly groups was done according to relevancy, numbers of followers and numbers of blogs published a week.

Two Sources

Free Technology for Teachers blog grouping has 80K followers and 22 articles published a week. The content is relevant as it covers technology within a learning environment for teachers to access. There are 10 articles within this grouping  all of which are interesting. I like the fact that blogs are easy to read, content is relevant, and supported with YouTube video’s. The video’s give a hands-on step by step guide demonstrating how to implement the suggested technology tips.

Three Ways to Collect Video Reflections from Students” by Richard Byrne, describes three different ways students can record their thoughts and opinions in video reflections. Byrne’s first examined Flipgrid; you the teacher, post a video question to your students, they in-turn record a video response. He also posts a video demonstrating how to use Flipgrid, and walks you through the program as he sets up an account. See a Flipgrid tutorial below.

The second program Byrne discusses is SeaSaw. If teachers are already using this technology they can use the video function to encourage students to make video reflections. Thirdly, Byrne looks at Padlet. This program allows students to add audio, video, drawings, and picture notes to a Padlet wall that can be looked at by the class.  The Padlet program allows students to use their creative skills to their fullest. He demonstrates how to set this up and shows how students can use a variety of notes to express themselves. This blog is interactive and very informative, making new technology easy and accessible for teachers.

In the blog “Great Journeys and Explorations – Stories Told with Interactive Maps and Timelines” by Richard Byrnes, he explains that StoryMap Js allows time lines and maps to create ‘mapped stories’. It creates slides that show maps, images, and text in a creative way to make a story. The software uses Google Drive and uses current student content to help make a mapped story; everything is then saved within Google Drive. This sounds like an easy software application for all students to use without difficulty.

Although both blogs were written by Richard Byrnes they discussed different educational technological tools for the classroom, which are relevant, easy, and fun for students to use.

Feedly is an awesome publication and blog tool. Below is a screenshot of my account.

Introduction to my learning project

Learning to Use the Staff

I have always been interested in martial arts. I’ve studied several different forms of Tai Chi and enjoyed them all. Tai Chi is more physically demanding than most people realize, as the slower the motion, they greater skill and strength needed.

While I lived in Korea, I studied their traditional martial art called Taekkyon. At first, I didn’t think I could really jump and kick like Bruce Lee, but after being in classes 5 nights a week I became really quite good. In fact, I competed in Seoul’s first Women’s National Taekkyon Competition. Although I didn’t win a medal the Grand Master was impressed with my abilities and called my Kwan Chan Nim (Teacher) to his office to congratulate him for being a good teacher.

Taekkyon sparing.

While living in Humboldt Saskatchewan I joined the Tae Kwon Do club. The physical demands of this martial art were difficult, but again I became stronger and stronger the harder I tried.

Winning 2 silver medals, 2013.

I managed to attain my green belt, and as I was preparing for Western Finals Competition my knee gave out. My martial arts career was over.

Now I’m living in Regina, and still love martial arts. I’ve studied the basic 24 movements of Tai Chi with Master Li a year ago but haven’t practiced. My intention with this learning project is to get focused and make my body strong again. I want to practice Tai Chi every morning, as that strengthens my body and mind, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to use the staff. All of my other martial arts classes focused on me using my body to protect myself; I’ve never had any training using a weapon. I’ve always liked the simplicity of the staff, and yet when used with skill it’s a great tool for protection. I plan on looking for articles, watching YouTube videos, asking for help in Twitter, and seeing if I can find classes in Regina. I understand we have only a short time frame to learn this new skill, but this is only the beginning of lots of hard work.

About Anthea

Hi, my name is Anthea Holczer and I’m currently an Education student at the University of Regina. I’m thoroughly enjoying my experience at university and marvel at the end of each semester how much I’ve learned and grown as an individual.

As a mature student I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience into my classes, but I’m always excited to learn new things and acquire new concepts. I have taught English in Korea for three years, which was an amazing experience. This experience allows me to empathize with EAL students, as I know how it feels to be in an environment where you feel frightened and scared. I also taught English to newcomers who lived in Cudworth and Humboldt, and my classes included job searching skills, writing cover letters, and interview techniques.

I have also worked as an EA in Humboldt at St. Augustine Elementary School, and St. Dominic Elementary School. My position primarily focused on working with students who had special needs, but in my last two years I focused on helping EAL students with their language skills. I loved this position, but realized it was time for me to grow as an individual and get my teaching degree.

I enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and with my degree I’m constantly learning. Last summer I went to UQAC in Chicoutimi, Quebec to study French. I lived with a home-stay family and was completely immersed in French and Quebec culture. It was a great experience, I learned a lot.

Outside dining on Chicoutimi’s main street in the evening.Photo Credit: Azamay Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve spent many hours volunteering. One of my favorite volunteer opportunities was with The Kids on The Block program. This program uses puppets to teach students about bullying, safety, and abuse and how to keep themselves and their friends safe. Here is a video I made about that experience.

Experiences with Educational Technology

When it comes to technology I’m nervous. I have a Facebook account, but don’t really know how to use it. I think ‘Big Brother’ is constantly monitoring our activities, and I want as little information about me on the internet as possible. I’ve been doing my best to stay in ‘incognito mode’ and in trying to stay hidden the technology train has overtaken me, now I’m left in ‘no-man’s land’. Trying to set up my blog has been frustrating, I have no idea about Twitter, and I’m not sure what social networking is all about; I have a lot to learn.

Thoughts on Blogging

When I was first forced to start blogging for classes I thought it was a ‘make work project’, to ensure we were doing course readings. I was a very ‘reluctant blogger’. Now I realize it’s an excellent learning tool. In Tracie Heskett’s article “Blogging in the Classroom”, she states that once students have written a blog they have an “authentic audience”. This is a valid point. To publish work on the internet means I take particular care in what I say, when others comment on my blogs, my ideas and thoughts are validated by my peers. Comments can also stimulate interesting conversations, and from these ideas new thoughts can flourish.

I am just learning that having a blog is the first step to having a digital identity. With this digital identity I can control how the world perceives me. This is powerful. Blogging is a tool that I can use to promote myself to the world in a positive light. As Dan Schawbel states in his article “5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Yours Resume in 10 Years” I need to “treat my life as one giant networking event and meet as many people in [my] field as [I] can”. Blogging is the key to meeting like minded people, where we can help and inspire each other with our own unique perspectives.

 

 

 

 

 

We Need To Challenge Literature, As It Challenges Us

How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?

Growing up in England has had an impact on how I “read the world”. The classic’s like Dickens, Hardy, and Chaucer were all written by white-middle aged men depicting their perspective on the world. Although their work was eloquent, and powerful, they did see the world through their own privileged lenses, which didn’t relate to me. I was a white girl; born hundreds of years later and didn’t understand the world the authors had written about. I also found it difficult and frustrating reading Bronte and Austin, the female characters were caught up in Britain’s claustrophobic class society which restrained them and held them back.

Yes, I have biases, but understanding this is the first step to overcoming them. Even as a young child I disliked the privilege boys were given just because of their gender. I have always thought that everyone should be treated fairly as we all have our gifts, and gender is irrelevant. I also disliked the class system as we should be judged on our merits, not by where we went to school or how much money you have.

The work I’ve done in my ECE 325 class on anti-bias education, has been difficult and yet rewarding. This class has made me realize I’m human just like everyone else, and because of this I have biases I need to work on. Classes at the university challenge my ‘common sense’ and help me to open my heart, acknowledge my biases, and overcome my negative emotions. I have grown as an individual over the last two years; I’m kinder, more giving, more forgiving with others and myself.

Our readings at the University of Regina are powerful, as they show me different perspectives; they challenge me, make me question, and analyse myself. The internal conversations anti-bias literature stimulates is tough yet worthwhile. This literature pushes me forward to a new level of understanding and makes me more open and accepting of everyone around me.

Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

We all have biases as they are part of our unconscious; biases help to shape the way we see the world. We need to look at our biases and see what truth lies buried. We need to examine the lenses we see through and realize there is danger in seeing things with a “single story”. The “single story” shows one aspect of the truth and we need to challenge it.

The major story present when I was growing up was that boys were better than girls. Boys were smarter, faster, and stronger, and always got what they wanted. As a girl I had to accept the fact, that boys were superior, it was the way of the world; this truth was in my home, family, and at school. I never liked this “single story” and always fought against it.

The truth that matters is the truth in my heart. I am now learning different views on my life’s volume of stories and see the vastness and inter-connectivity of people, places, and environment. I knew I was strong, brave, and bold and with a deeper understanding of myself I can bring a richness to others and help unlock their “single stories”.

The Trials and Tribulations of Math

1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

When I went to school there was only one way of solving math problems. I had to learn everything by route and memorization. Math was “linear, static, and objective” (Bear, 2000, p. 84). I didn’t understand the relationships of numbers and found math to be a huge wall that was too big to climb. I hated learning my times tables. My teacher would make us stand while we individually recited our tables, and those who were correct got to sit down, the humiliation and shame I felt being one of the last students to sit stays with me today.

The worst teacher I ever had was my Grade 7 math teacher. I didn’t learn a thing the whole year as I was in his class. I lived in a state of constant fear during this year at school. The teacher’s punishments for incorrect answers were: wearing a large egg box on your head tied with pink ribbons or placing our hands on “Fred” the cactus, as he pushed our hands into the spikes. I just remember praying throughout the class, ‘please don’t pick me’.

These are only two examples of how math was used to  manipulate, control, and oppression me. I’m sure everyone has a story or two to tell about their personal math horrors. Our math teachers have used their subject to keep us silent and scared. This needs to stop!

Math is a beautiful subject, with intricate connections and relationships. We need to teach the dynamics of math, and the relevance it plays in our everyday lives to appreciate and marvel at it. Math is a subject to be embraced not feared.

2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

The way the Inuit approach mathematics is completely different from Eurocentric mathematical ideas. “Different cultures have developed different mathematical tools according to their needs and their environment, and the Inuit community is no exception” (Poirier, 2007, p. 54). The Inuit have developed a mathematical system that aides their survival; they live in an environment that is completely different to ours, their mathematical system is different too. The Inuit people are closely attuned to nature, and use nature as their guide, they don’t rely on Eurocentric abstract ideas and logic for survival.

The Inuit use a base 20 numerical system compared to our base 10 system. Children from kindergarten to Grade 3 are taught in their native language, Inuktitut, before learning about math in French or English. I admire how the Inuit insist on keeping their language in tact during their children’s formative years but realize Grade 3 would be a difficult year for the students as they have to learn a second language and strange math.

“Inuit children develop spatial representations that are different from those of children who live in a city like Montreal” (Poirier, 2007, p. 55). It’s a shame that Inuit children have to learn both types of thinking and are judged by our Eurocentric rules. Their spatial representations, ensure survival and life in a harsh environment, and shouldn’t be compared to others who live in completely different environments.

References

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp.77-85). UBC Press.

Poirier, L. (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(1), p. 53-67.

 

“We Are All Treaty People”

What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?

It’s important for all of us to understand the people, place, history, and culture of the people we live with. The only way we can understand First Nations peoples is know them. As a society Canada hasn’t wanted to learn anything about Aboriginal ways, customs, and traditions; Canada has treated First Nation people with disrespect and attempted genocide. The only way to move forward is with mutual respect and understanding.

Understanding comes from shared respect, an open mind, and a willingness to learn about each other. Learning about Aboriginal people isn’t just about learning about them but understanding that Canada’s history is “our story: the one about commons, what was shared and what was lost” (Chambers, p. 30). We all have a role in changing the wrongs of the past and creating a better society for everyone. We shouldn’t have guilt of our ancestor’s deeds, as their behavior is part of our history, but we do have the power to control ourselves and change the present. Each one of us needs to empower ourselves with knowledge; to ensure the wrongs of the past are not repeated and have an attitude of kindness and respect for a new future.

That respectful future begins with learning about First Nations peoples, whether there are Indigenous students in class or not. Learning respect gives us an appreciation for Aboriginal culture and customs. First Nations people are not forced to stay on reserves anymore, and we need to acknowledge who they are and respect them as people. For example, standing at the bus stop during our winter storm, I had an interesting conversation with an Indigenous man. He was from the Northwest Territories and we talked about the harshness of the weather there compared to here. He talked about his experiences when visiting Inuit friends and describe the traditional Inuit way of life. Both of us marveled at their strength and fortitude for living in the North. This was an interesting conversation for us both.

What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people?”

 To be treaty people means that we all come together with mutual respect and encourage everyone’s successes no-matter what our skin colour. Those of us who are immigrants or are from settler ancestors live in a country where we reap the rewards of lands that were negotiated through treaty. We benefit from history, and we need to understand it’s time to put our prejudice aside and work together. We need to be more aware of the environment and First Nations attachment to the land as well as our attachment to it. First Nations people want to protect the land and its welfare, as they understand the importance of clean waters and healthy land.  We too as treaty people need to take greater care of the land we live on; healthy land equals healthy people.

It’s important for everyone to understand that we live in Canada together, what one person does has ramifications for others. We need to treat our First Nations brothers and sisters with love, care, and kindness. Being treaty people means we are all related and need to come together as a family unit, rather than squabbling over egocentric greed.

Reference

Chambers. C. “We Are All Treaty People”. Referred  from  https://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/We+are+all+treaty+people.pdf

 

Land Shapes Who We Are

The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

Reinhabitation within the article

-For the Mushkegowuk people they need to know and understand their connection to land, as the article states, “connection to nature is important to children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual development” (p70).

-The Elders and youth went on a river field trip. The youth learned the importance of traditional ways, and how these traditional ways become an integral part of the people.

-The river is part of the people and a living connection for family now, and those who have passed on; they are buried in different areas along the river.

-The river and its inhabitants teach the youth many lessons; frogs indicate when the water is clean to drink, birds foretell a change in weather, and moose understand the Mushkegowuk’s need for food.

-The youth learn how to live off the river, and learn about key historical/traditional sites on the river trip. They explore their history, language, issues of governance, and land management.

-The youth created an audio documentary to help record all that they learned; they captured the wisdom of the elders, and immortalized their teachings.

-It was important for the Elders to teach and “restablish among the youth a sense of connection to land, culture and life” (p76).

-The Elders taught the traditional names of places, and rewrote maps reintroducing land names that have been forgotten. The youth soon leaned that every curve in the river had its own name.

-As the young people performed activities Cree words were used to describe what they were doing in this way, the youth leaned new vocabulary by physically doing the tasks. They were learning by imprinting language with actions. It’s important for the younger generations to understand and “form a linguistic connection to traditional territory” (p78).

Decolonization throughout the article

-The article states that decolonization is not just “rejecting and transforming dominant ideas” (Bowers 2001), we also need to change ways of thinking that don’t hurt people or places.

-The whole point of Elders teaching Ways of Knowing to the youth was a form of decolonization, and they taught the importance of traditional ways.

-Colonial thinking is based on money, wealth, and owning things, whereas Indigenous ways focus on nature and respect. It is important for youth to value the old ways, therefore, when the mining companies come into the communities and want to pillage the land for resources the youth need to know the full ramifications of what mining will do to the land and their way of life.

How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

-The place we live teaches and shapes us.

-We as teachers bring our own lessons from the land where we grew up, as do our students. It’s important to respect all lessons taught from the land, and come together in community to learn from each other.

-No-matter where our students are from in the world, they all have unique lessons taught by the land. We need to have welcoming classrooms for them to freely teach the lessons they have learned.

-There needs to be involvement from community members in the classroom, who respect, wonder, and love the land.

-There are inherent biases towards First Nations Peoples in our province, and we need to learn, understand, and respect their history and traditions.

-Elders need to be invited into the classroom to tell stories about the land, rivers, animals, and plants.

-More classes should take place outside; use nature as a teacher.

-Students should be involved in learning about the world around them, nature is key to everything, science, math, art, language, and music/sound.

-It’s important for students to become physically involved with their world, and have pride in what they accomplish.

-I want to have a worm box in my classroom, to teach about the soil, how worms recycle our waste food, and how important they are. Everything is equally important in our world and needs to be respected. If we don’t value nature, we don’t know the full importance of it; even mosquito’s are important as they are food for birds and dragonflies, just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean that they aren’t any more valid than we are.

Reference

Restoule., J-P., Gruner. S., Metatawabin. E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education. 36, 2 pp. 68-86 Referenced from https://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf/597510552/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf