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.