My digital story

Final assignment done for ecs210! yay!

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Assignment 2 part 3: My PLN

I have to admit I was very nervous and unsure about using different forms of technology and social media in my Ecs 210 class. This is not because I didn’t want to; I was mostly worried about ensuring that what I wrote and shared was meaningful. I kept thinking “who really cares what I have to say?” Boy was I wrong! I have posted 13 times in my blog, most were prompts and a couple were because I felt compelled to. My blog has been viewed 314 times, received 27 comments, and a couple of “likes”. Although this doesn’t seem like much in the world of blogging and technology I feel honoured that 314 people felt compelled to read what I have to say—my voice matters. I have been introduced to the world of social media in a way that I never thought of doing before. I believed social media had a negative stigma to it because of online spaces like Facebook. It never dawned on me that it can be used in a positive way like sharing knowledge and connecting to present and future educators. Through my blogging experience I have come to realize that I have begun to build a network of people who will all influence me in their own ways. I have education and self-growth at my fingertips. Looking back at my own reflections I have noticed many changes in my ways of thinking. I have talked quite a bit to people in my own circle, my family and friends, about our ECS 210 class. I have utilized Twitter and WordPress for my social media resources but it didn’t stop there; I have begun to question other ways we use technology with online spaces like Facebook. Not only have I begun to question the ways in which we utilize social media, I have also began to critically analyze the ways in which people talk, share, and represent themselves—including myself.

It was challenging to start up my WordPress account. I have struggled with technology in many ways and didn’t believe that spaces like Twitter were actually going to be beneficial to my education. What I have learned through this class is that facing challenges and moving past the “comforts” is how we are going to make a difference; not only are we challenging ourselves to try something new but we are also challenging our “norms” and our beliefs that are represented in our everyday behaviour. What feels comfortable and safe to me is not always comfortable and safe to another person and visa versa.

One of my first experiences of constructively reading another person’s blog was with Meagan’s blog. We were prompted to comment on another person’s blog space and I chose hers. She had an amazing post about creating equity in the classroom and not equality; at the time I never considered the difference. I asked what she meant and she explained it in a way that made sense to me—I had learned an important lesson from my peer. Not only did this blog experience teach me a valuable lesson about the importance of equity (I had used the word equality way too many times before), but it also gave us common grounds to have an incredibly thoughtful conversation face-to-face. After talking about this topic at the end of class the one day we realized we share many commonalities and we have gained a valuable friendship–sharing the same values for our future classrooms.

 

My friend Cassandra asked me for advice one day; she was struggling with a blog post that was unprompted and could potentially leave her feeling vulnerable. She asked what my thoughts were on posting about a personal grieving process she went through. Of course I said “go for it”. We all have a story, why not share it? My experiences in blogging have opened me up to the impact that people can make from sharing their story. Cassandra shared her blog and it got a lot of positive feedback—what she had to say was important and if it can have a positive impact on another persons’ life, why not share it. I have learned to embrace my stories, my autobiography, and my life; how else are we going to learn empathy? Empathy is the core to my own beliefs of what makes a good teacher. My future only gets brighter with every story I hear because I am learning so much from different people. This situation also reminded me of our lecture from Claire. Claire’s lecture gave me a better insight to Treaty Education. It also created my first Twitter debate about the danger of sharing other people’s stories. I am still unsure about where I stand on the topic. I think stories can be the most impacting if told right from the person but sometimes it’s not possible. Katia shared a TedTalk on the danger of a single story that was beneficial to watch. 

Twitter was not my favourite form of social media before I started class, and in a lot of ways I am still not convinced. I think the reason I don’t like it is because I still have trouble with using it. I forget to use hashtags to connect to others and I don’t like that I have a limited word count on my tweets! I am forced to use “text words” or slang to get my thoughts out. What I do like about Twitter is how easy it is to share information to a wide group of people interested in the same things you are. You can truly connect to others with similar interests. It has been such a unique form of communication in our lectures as well. I have spoken to many intelligent people who are afraid to speak up in class because they are insecure about what they have to say, thinking that it won’t be right—everyone knows I do not have this problem. In a lot of ways using Twitter in our lecture has helped people realize that others agree with what they have to say; it is so much easier to state our opinions and beliefs online; I acknowledge there is danger in this too.

My favourite post of my own was the one that responded to my autobiography. My name is Kari… was the post that offered me both compliments and further questions from fellow peers. It was also the one that was talked about most face-to-face with a lot of my peers. Discussing how our autobiography left out important details of our identity is truly important. I was happy with myself that I spoke to my race, class, and gender but I was surprised with what I left out—my sexual preference. Having the prompt to write about the things I did not identify myself with has taught me a lot. I learned that by not acknowledging that I am a straight person I am unintentionally leaving out the people that are not. Around this time was when I realized that in order to teach for social justice and be anti-oppressive in the classroom I had to question everything: the things I talk about and the things I don’t, the tone I speak to other people, the parts of our environment that make others question where they belong. It all matters and I have come to realize this through my thoughtful blog post that was prompted in class.

I honestly had felt that I did not contribute very well to other people’s online learning. After talking to other people though I have realized that’s not true. The more discussions I had with people, the more they brought up a comment I made and how it made them question their thinking. I was happy to hear that; although we are all taking the same class and learning the same things we are not all thinking the same–that is good! Ashley Young mentioned to me in person that I was one of the people who posed a question to her and wrote more than a sentence in my comments. I enjoyed hearing this because I often question if I really do have any impact on other people’s learning. I now know that I do, even if it is just pushing someone further to explain their thoughts or asking them what they mean by what they say. I have come to realize the impact that each of us make; even if it is unintentionally. We can contribute to other peoples learning through acknowledging their voice, inquiring, and contributing our own thoughts. This is an easy task and it is something that I will continue to do.

Through this class I have learned the importance of technology both for teaching and learning. Utilizing our online spaces gave me the opportunity to teach others through my own understanding; it gave me the opportunity to learn about others and connect with people, even my professor Julie, whom I have grown to appreciate as a mentor in my education path. The opportunities are vast when it comes to what you can learn. I now utilize spaces like Twitter for mass messaging, questioning, and answering—it puts the term “two heads are better than one” into perspective. What I found most important was through utilizing online space I became more of a conversationalist in my face-to-face interactions. I began talking about what I felt was important and talking about my perspectives of many different situations that are important in anti-oppressive education. I talk to people who aren’t in class with me—my family and friends. I have began to teach my partner, TJ, about Residential School’s and the impact this has on our society. This class and the lessons I have learned about both oppression and technology has challenged me to dig deeper into the inquiry of anti-oppressive education; this has pushed me to join in on the making of an anti-oppressive online space with Michael Cappello. As I find more time this summer, with less school work, I will carry on my journey to continually reflecting on my own actions and decisions—both in person and online.

Is this a statement? Residential Schools……

Is this a statement? Residential Schools......

I have been seeing these name tags flooding the walls of the University of Regina, all with different numbers on them. I started to think about the reason for this, what does it mean? When I first saw them I immediately thought of Residential Schools and the impact that it has had on peoples’ identities. Can you imagine if you lost your name and became a number instead? I cant even imagine. Even in this day there are still people who talk about Residential School survivors in statistical ways. What do you guys think these name tags are posted for? Start looking closely and see how many you notice.

Alfie Kohn speaks about Saskatchewan’s proposed standardized testing

Alfie Kohn speaks about Saskatchewan’s proposed standardized testing

The link I provided is an interesting learning prompt set out in my ECS 210 class about standardized testing. I have always known that I do not like tests, nor am I very good at them, but Alfie Kohn gives us a great explanation for why standardized testing is a huge waste of time.

In the words of Alfie Kohn, “Standardized testing measures two things: how affluent the parents are and how good kids are at the specific skill of taking standardized tests”. There was a study done that compared classroom teachers who were told they will be evaluated on how their students do on standardized tests and teachers who were instructed to make sure students have a good understanding of the subject. The results were amazing. If you watch the video it will give you a better understanding of the results and the study done. Kohn said that standardized testing measures what matters least and the outcomes of these tests do not measure education at all.

I do not believe in testing as the only assessment for students. Whose standards are we using in standardized tests anyways? As pre-service teachers we are learning that there are numerous ways to measure understanding in your students. What still amazes me is that although we are learning not to test as a measure of understanding, we are being tested all the time in university! Now, our education program at the U of R has proven to be much more efficient in evaluating students in different ways, but there are still some education classes that base 60% of your mark on “quizzes”. Most other faculties are based on the teaching method of “read a textbook,midterm, paper, final” (because we learn so much from doing tests and writing papers about subjects that are forced on us). I hope you can sense my sarcasm. The point I am trying to make is that standardized testing is NOT efficient in educating students BUT it will get you a high GPA in university……. So, how can we fix this? We need to start at the top (university) and work backwards to begin to remove testing in general in schools. I can honestly say I have a pretty great memory, I have learned how to remember things by years of schooling that forced me to. The things I truly remember are the passionate blog posts I do, or the inquiry projects that I chose the topic for.

I was told all through school on my report cards that “Kari does great with homework and schoolwork but has troubles with tests”. In school I was a 65-70 average student. I went through school not passionate about what I learned because I never felt motivated to try harder, I wasn’t going to achieve any higher than what was given because I could not do tests. Its a sad reality, we are testing only the auditory students who can show what they know through reading, writing, and listening. We are not testing fairly for the kinesthetic or visual students who most likely know the same amount of information but have no way of showing it.

Well, this turned into a rant, but thanks for reading.

Thoughts from class and readings

I am going to apologize for my blog post this week. I think it is important to mention the stress I am feeling as I near the end of my semester. I am a person who works ahead and tries to continue working to get assignments done (aka I have no social life).  I think I can speak for most of my peers that its “crunch time” and we are faced with the difficulties of managing our time and assignments to meet our personal expectations. As I near the days that my inquiry projects are becoming due I am finding less time to fully engage in the readings in all of my classes. I enjoy reading to understand and it sometimes takes me a couple times to understand the messages that all of my readings are giving me. I DID do the readings, but I haven’t engaged in them as much as I want to. For this reason, my blog post might seem mediocre.

I do have to say I really enjoyed Julies lecture today. It was engaging, holistic, and helpful. I loved hearing her stories about her experiences working in Nunavut.  I also enjoyed how she opened up about her own assumptions that sometimes didn’t connect with the reality. I think it’s important as a professor to open up and allow students to see the whole person. Most of us are worried about making mistakes, but that is the learning process. We HAVE to make mistakes in order to learn how to change them. If you don’t believe you are making mistakes, then you are not opening yourself up to important lessons. This, my friends, is what experiential learning is all about.

I would have to say I connected to the reading “The best discipline is good curriculum” the most. My beliefs on classroom management have a lot to do with how engaged the students are. I am not saying that there should be no structure, but I do believe if students are engaged there is no time for them to act out. Think about it from a child’s perspective with ADHD. They are often the ones thought to be “less behaved” than their peers. This is obviously a negative perspective, but through my experiences in the school system I know for a fact that some teachers feel this way. The problem is that a lot of students with ADHD are not getting enough stimulation in the classroom. They are not as engaged in working on worksheets then they are doing a physical activity that offers learning. This example is how I relate the story to early childhood.  I would love to hear your thoughts. Have a good week everyone!

My name is Kari…

My name is Kari Davis. I am a 27 year old white female born and raised in a lower class household. My name, gender, age, and social class to not define me, they are part of who I am. What defines me, and continues to shape me are the environments, experiences, and people in my life; the good and the bad.

This quote is the beginning of my autobiography that I wrote. I thought I would share how I identified myself.

This week’s lecture resonated with me for a few reasons.  I have heard the quote “we teach who we are” a couple times in passing through the years and I still feel it is true. Although I believe we do in fact “teach who we are”, we have to acknowledge why this can be limiting to students. When critically reflecting on myself and my experiences I did identify my age, race, gender, and social class; Woo-hoo! Before I give myself a pat on the back I have to acknowledge the parts of me that I did leave out, and why? One thing I noticed was I didn’t talk about my sexual preference. A big reason why, and it’s something we need to consider, was that I have the ability to go through life not questioning this part of me. I am of the majority who is afforded the opportunity to be “un-raced”. I am of the “norm”. Kumashiro highlights the importance of making visible the “hidden lessons” that impact our teaching (p. 41). He goes on to say “After all, our hidden lessons demonstrate how it is that oppression can play out in our lives unnoticed and unchallenged, and our lenses of analysis demonstrate why it is that we often desire making sense of the world in only certain, comforting ways” (p. 41). We have to ask ourselves, why is this important? It is important for me to identify myself as a straight person because it helps me acknowledge that not everyone is straight. I am acknowledging now that sexual preference plays a part in my teaching whether it is intentional or not.

I also wanted to speak quickly about divergent thinking. What an interesting topic! Can you believe we lose that “greater” thinking the older we get?! What are we doing wrong in our educational system that makes our students become one answer kids? I hope to learn as a teacher how to pose questions that don’t have single answers, or have students ask their own questions…. But how? This is something that I will ponder for a while.

Taking a deeper look at our attitudes and energy in the classroom

It has been too long since I have posted! I feel it is important to talk about my experiences and thoughts; ones without prompts to do so. I need to talk about what’s on my mind. In my classroom experiences we have talked a lot about the environment and the ways it can affect student learning. This topic is important to me for many reasons, one of which is because of past experiences as a student in school. On the topic of environment I have to wonder how attitudes, behaviours, and energy can positively and negatively affect students in a classroom. I believe our energy and attitudes have a large influence on the energy and attitudes of the classroom; so much that I think it needs to be a foundation to our beginning work as a teacher. I came across an article today that had some great perspectives on the habits of effective teachers. I will source the article at the bottom of my post. One statement stood out to me; it was stated “Negative energy zaps creativity and it makes a nice breeding ground for fear of failure. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy, and see past momentary setbacks to the end goal. Positivity breeds creativity.” Not only does negative energy zap creativity, but it makes students develop anxiety in my opinion. If our students feel anxious, they will not be able to learn!

Anxiety doesn’t only come from our classroom. Anxiety comes from everywhere like our home situations. We have a job as teachers to try and emanate a positive attitude and hope that our students can pick up on that. Another opinion from the article was “It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy.” The key word being “contagious”. I am not saying that only extroverts can teach, actually, I am quite introverted myself. You can have a positive upbeat energy without being rambunctious.

The reason for this posting developed from a negative experience I  recently had in one of the schools in Regina. Thank-fully it wasn’t a teacher that I had this experience with, but it was a person that works in the classroom. Without going into details, this person almost reduced me to tears in front of my peers and the younger students. All it took was a negative attitude and a tone of voice; and the fact that I was put into a position where I didn’t know my place in the school or how to react. While this situation ruined the rest of my day and made me feel anxious, what worried me more was that people like this are inevitably working in the school system. It makes me wonder how students feel around these people in their own classroom, even if they aren’t the teacher? Do you think their energy and attitudes are transferred to the students? 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I obviously believe that our energy and attitudes can have a detrimental effect on the classroom climate and student anxiety, but I want to know if you do too? Thanks for listening!

http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/25-things-successful-teachers-do-differently/

 

I need to figure out how to move past embracing my beliefs to the direction of fulfilling them.

visual representation of a classroom

visual representation of a classroom

I tried to figure out a way to post a recording of my explanation for my visual project, since you might not want to read through my written part. Unfortunately I am more computer illiterate than I thought and can not figure out how to do this without upgrading my blog. So here is my written aspect…..

In my miniature classroom I tried to create a welcoming environment. I wanted round tables because I am a person that thinks group work and interaction in the classroom is healthy. The flags in my classroom are a small way of saying “welcome” to the many students who will be from different countries. I understand through the story Working effectively with English Language Learners that learning about a student’s culture and their language is a sign of respect; the only way to build a community in the classroom is by reciprocating effort. The family portraits in my classroom are an illustration of what I learned from the story Heathers mom got Married. I think it is so important to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of families in the classroom and school. I have seen this done in a grade three classroom and I think it was such a great visual representation of diversity. My desk is in a half circle because I wanted students to be able to pull up their chairs and work with me as much as possible. I want to be a part of the collaboration that happens in my classroom and guide students in their learning. I put my favourite quote on the chalkboard so that you could see my driving force for being a teacher. I am an advocate for the importance of making your students feel good about themselves; they will not learn if they are unhappy or anxious. I made a reading area with comfortable pillows and controversial books. Our learning does not always take place at a table, and I wanted to give student variety on where they would like to learn. I wanted to represent some books that discuss gay marriage, family diversity, gender identity, and bilingualism because books are a great way to discuss topics that are otherwise hard to bring up. There is no age limit for bringing up socially just topics; I learned this from the story Brown kids can’t be in our club. I have a strong feeling about environmental issues and learning about our land; because of this I felt the need to post the words “we are all treaty people”. One of the reasons for this attachment is that I believe we need to be respecting the land we live on more. The importance of our wellbeing involves the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental; I want to show students the importance of all of these things. The final thing worth mentioning is the bulletin board that I created that says “what is culture?” it is important to the students to be thinking critically and answering thoughtfully about heavy questions. Students walk into a classroom mirroring society, I want society to mirror them. I can begin this by creating an environment that allows for respect, trust, community, collaboration, inquiry, awareness, and positive self-identity.

Technology and anti-oppressive education

I found this week’s lecture very relatable to the way in which we will teach in the classroom. I enjoyed hearing that “we are not just communicating, we are participating”. The way that I was taught is incredibly different compared to the way that we are now teaching our students. Encyclopaedias were my source for information, but what did reading and copying information do for me? I was not challenged to think critically about a certain topic, or given more than one viewpoint so that I could analyze the topic from different ways. I was taught to retain information, but was not taught what to do with it. Our technology has opened the doors to a whole new way of learning. We are able to communicate and collaborate with people we have never met. We are able to read about different people’s stories right from the source. We are able to share our information and our ideas with the world. We are living in a time where our community is the whole world, and the whole world is at our fingertips. As teachers we have the opportunity to use technology to positively impact our students and their views in society.

We also shouldn’t forget that personal relationships are important in our lifelong learning and technology can sometimes take away from this type of learning. I think the school should have a good balance between learning with peers, teachers, and technology. I often believe that children get too much screen time at home; they rely on video games and Facebook to feel entertained. I worry that technology will take over the education system and we will be reduced to teaching over a computer screen never being able to interact on a personal level with our students.

Please post your comments

I have to say we had a great speaker in our lecture today. Ecs 210 is opening my eyes to many different approaches to learning and teaching and I couldn’t be more excited! We had the opportunity to see how Treaty Education is presented in a grade 3/4 classroom at a school in Moose Jaw. This was also a great opportunity to see how one teacher uses technology and other strategies to teach.  I think Claire is a brilliant teacher with so much knowledge to offer to her students and to us pre-service teachers. There was one point where I disagreed about having the ability to tell other peoples stories. Maybe I am thinking about things a little differently than other classmates, and that is okay. I feel like we all take different things from stories and experiences, its not always fair to the original person who’s story its about, but who is to say what lessons we should be learning about the story? We have to think deeper than just the story itself. If a story is being retold its probably because someone felt inspired by it and wanted to share that with someone else. Obviously if we are trying to negatively impact a person through our story, or shed light on an issue that is deeper than we are willing to talk about, then its not okay. Maybe someone can let me know what they think? I also wanted to say I feel a little less worried about implementing Treaty Education into the classroom, so thank-you Claire for that.