Summary Of Learning: EC&I 831

For my summary of learning I decided to try the Explain Everything app since I’ve heard many people mention how much they like using it.  The video is a short snippet of my learning and where I am headed.  I’ve decided to highlight the most meaningful things to me.  There are many more things I have learned and things that I am going to try.  I didn’t talk about all of our wonderful guest speakers but what they said did have an impact on my learning, especially Richard Schwier’s talk.  I think this was a great way to get us comfortable with our online community. Thank you for sharing my learning journey!

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Reflecting on my PLN

For my EC &I 831 class we were required to develop a professional learning network (PLN).

During another class I had a classmate and colleague tell our class that we needed to get on Twitter.  I didn’t know why we needed to and I didn’t know what was so important.  I signed up for Twitter and found that I “wasted” time and on it.  I didn’t have a purpose as to why or what I was doing.  I followed a few people and found a few interesting things but then I lost interest.  Another colleague of mine confirmed that Twitter was a time waster so why should we bother.   A person who I admire and who holds a position of power tweeted this:

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Well there I had it.  I shouldn’t be on Twitter.  I have young kids at home.  How dare I waste my time!

I am thankful that I had the chance to start using Twitter this term and I can now see why it is so important.  I have such a fabulous PLN that I can get information from.  They can answer my questions, encourage me, share their learning and so much more.  Who knew such a large and supportive PLN was right at my fingertips?   There are people who share the same passions that I do.  I get so many ideas and I am inspired.   I am connected with educators from all over the world.  No longer trying to make connections with only people at my school or division.  I have found new and exciting people to collaborate with and I will continue to network.  My PLN has grown and will continue to grow over time.

Telling staff to only tweet once or twice a day is like telling them to only read a paragraph of a page in a professional development book.  Tweeting is professional development anywhere, anytime.  Embrace it and tweet!

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Exploring Passions: Moving Beyond The Minecraft Obsession

My daughters and many other children are addicted to Minecraft.  They play it every chance they get.  When their time on electronics is over, they are still focused on Minecraft.   They draw pictures, write stories, and plan what they are going to do the next time they log on.

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Without Minecraft they are bored.  I have read an article called Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool that discusses some of the good things about Minecraft.  It is a great article but I still think there is more out there for my children to explore and learn.  How do I help get them interested in other things?  How do I foster their creativity? These are questions that I struggle with as a parent.  I want my kids to wonder and ask questions about the world.  I want them to explore their passions.  Is this happening when they are on electronics? Perhaps, but I am still not convinced that letting my kids play Minecraft is the answer to developing creativity and discovering passions. With that being said,  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the DIY.org website.  A website for kids to explore passions and develop skills while completing challenges.  Every child has their own portfolio and they can earn badges based on they challenges they complete. There is everything from Lego Master, Bee Keeper, Astronomer, Chef and even Minecrafter.

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Once kids have completed a challenge, they can share it on the website for others to see.

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Sir Ken Robinson writes on his blog that “Individual creativity is almost always affected by the work of other people. In this sense, our own creative work is part of a much larger cultural conversation.”  By observing what others are creating and doing could foster my daughters creativity.  It could motivate them to explore other areas and learn new things.   I am excited to see which areas they choose and how this all works out.  I also think that this website could help me in my classroom when I am doing genius hour which I previously blogged about.

Another website that came to my attention is called curiositymachine.org.   I like the idea of having mentors in the field.   I am still exploring this website and am trying figuring out where to submit the projects and how it all works.

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Have you used either of these websites?  Do you have any other websites to suggest?

How do you help foster creativity in your child?

#Nerdlution

#Nerdlution starts tomorrow and runs until January 20th!  What is Nerdlution?  Basically you choose a habit and stick with it for 50 days.  You can share your journey on Twitter with other people who are doing the challenge. People are choosing to read, write and even making a point of being happy.

What is my Nerdlution?  I have been working on grad classes this semester and I have many professional nerdlution ideas.  I have been extremely focused on my mental health and I think it is time to focus on some other areas.

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My physical health and my family are two areas that I have not been as focused on.  My nerdlution will be to do one thing for my health a day (exercise, cook a healthy meal, etc) and do one thing that betters my family relationship or household (making time to go skating, cleaning a space in our home, etc).   I have missed out on some fun family times since I have been doing homework so I am excited to make a conscious effort to focus on my loved ones.   I have tried to maintain balance.  I know that at times I have let my work take over. I want to set realistic goals that I know I will achieve so if I do more than one thing a day it is a bonus!   I have one more week of grad classes and a few assignments to go.  I am excited to get this journey started tomorrow even though I am a bit nervous. It’s hard to find a balance at crunch time.

I know that becoming more mindful and having a like minded support group on Twitter will help me to succeed!

What is your #Nerdlution?

Want more information or to see how it all started?  Read Chris Lehman’s FAQ blog for all the answers!

Maker Movement Isn’t For Everyone

In my EC&I class we had a guest speaker, Sylvia Libow Martinez, who wrote the book Invent To Learn.  She talked to us about the maker movement and shared many of her ideas with us.  To be perfectly honest, I had no clue what she was saying for most of her presentation.  She was excited about the topic and she used lots of fun words like Makey Makey.  My seven year daughter watched her presentation with me.  She was so excited and thought that we needed to get some of the materials that Sylvia had mentioned.   She showed us what a Makey Makey was and what it did.  I decided to order one even though I still really didn’t have a clue.   When our Makey Makey arrived my two daughters decided to explore and play with it.  My 9 year old is a thinker, she likes things to be just so, and she doesn’t like to take risks.  My 7 year old is a risk taker and a colour out of the line sort of kid.   They are complete opposites and both had different experiences with the Makey Makey.   My 9 year old was frustrated that it didn’t work exactly as she thought it should.  She got frustrated and walked away telling me that I had wasted my money.  My 7 year old was engaged and played with the Makey Makey for a long time using different materials.  Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of tinkering with the Makey Makey.  My 9 year old and I have similar personalities.  This experience has taught me to think more outside of the box and to find ways to engage my 7 year old with her tinkering projects.  I teach grade 2 and have many students who like to tinker.  I need to find ways to embrace their tinkering play.  My plan is to get my hands on Sylvia’s book and invest in some more materials.  I will provide tinker time and see what happens!  A classroom is filled with many different types of learners and tinkering is definitely one way to learn.

“Fortunately for educators, this maker movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.” 

Do you like to tinker?

Are there any materials that you think are a must have for my tinker box?

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My Blogging Journey

My blogging journey has been a slow journey and I have been trying to figure out why.  I have twelve drafts in the works but I have yet to hit the publish button.  One of my professors told me last night that I am a perfectionist and perhaps this is why I act the way I do.  Part of me thinks that I have written my thoughts down and that is good enough.  I know what I have learned but it still needs to be shared.  Putting my thoughts and opinions online isn’t an overly pleasant experience for me.   I don’t look forward to blogging.  I know it is a great tool to use but I’m still not sold.  However, I do think blogging is a fabulous tool for my own students.  They get a wider audience and it gives them a purpose for writing.  I just don’t think self-reflecting type blogging is a practice that I will keep up after this class.  Reflections about learning are personal and I don’t want anybody and everybody to be a part of that.  I prefer a small community like Google + and Twitter where you can share shorter messages.

Do you enjoy blogging?

Which community do you prefer Google +, Twitter, or a blogging community?

I have heard that blogs should be 400 words or less.  Do you agree/disagree with this statement?

Now off to tweak and publish more blog entries.  Isn’t there a saying that the best learning occurs when you are uncomfortable?

Will Being Mindful Stop The Bullying?

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As I’m doing some reading this morning I came across this tragic story about another teen committing suicide over being cyberbullied.

The government is putting money towards anti-bullying campaigns. It makes me question how much this will really help?  We have had speakers come to our schools, kids have worn pink shirts and chanted stop bullying.  Kids then go out on the playground are mean to one another.  They can talk the talk but can they walk the walk?  Then there are those who overuse the term bully.  Someone doesn’t want to play with them and that makes the other child a bully.   In elementary schools, we are constantly talking to kids about bullying and treating people how you want to be treated.  We sing the song and read the book “Don’t Laugh At Me”.  Older students come in and talk with the younger students about bullying.  So what is the problem?  These kids are being told how not to be a bully (what to think) but are they learning how to think?  Bullying seems to still be an issue and has been for years,  it is now taking on a new form through social media called cyberbullying.  Yes, it may be worse since people often say things on a computer that they wouldn’t necessarily say to someones face.  The question is what needs to happen to help our children/students?

Do we need to start teaching kids about mindfulness?  Should we be focusing  on children’s mental health (wellness strategies) and how to deal with stressful situations.  We may not have control over what someone else says or does but we do have control over how we react.  Perhaps we need to have more supports in place in our schools to support children’s mental wellness.  Workshops to help parents and children communicate?  Mindfulness is a fascinating topic and one that I think should be explored further by parents, educators, and our government.  Does teaching children how to be mindful also teach them empathy?

I have found an interesting article and website about the topic of being mindful if you would like to explore this topic further!