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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Only One Week Left…

I only have one week left of piano lessons at the Conservatory. I am feeling sad! Having those lessons have been a great help in keeping me focused- I know that I absolutely have to put in at least two hours of work a week- one for a lesson, and one for practicing. Part of what I love about a group lesson is that it puts more pressure on me to practice. Nobody wants to be the one who shows up not knowing what’s going on!

I’ve already talked to our other group members about lessons in the fall. One of the ladies is moving away, Fred is a bit too far behind us, and Kathleen and I are pretty evenly matched, so we may do a semi-private lesson together in September.

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned that this week in my practicing time I FINALLY mastered the chorus of “Blessed Be Your Name” so that it sounds like what it is actually meant to sound like. I am so ridiculously proud of myself. I’ve been hired to be on a traveling youth ministry team again this summer, and everyone expects me to be able to play on the worship team! I’ve had to inform them that I’m not at that level yet- but I can play the chorus to “Blessed Be Your Name” over and over again as much as they like!

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Tech Task #10: LMS Evaluation

This week Paula, Kelsie, and I created a Google Doc together and worked alongside one another to learn how to use the sites, as well as to critique and analyze the positives and negatives the Learning Management Systems of Edmodo and Schoology. We had a lot of fun (me as a Grade 1 teacher), Kelsie (as a student), and Paula (as a parent).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36196762@N04/5322740412/

I think that we came to the overall conclusion that we prefer Schoology to Edmodo. From a teacher’s perspective, I found Schoology was a lot more user-friendly and invited more interaction between teachers, parents, and students. I really enjoyed the submission, marking, and feedback tools on both sites. We created events, assignments, and discussion posts.You can find our entire list of likes and dislikes on this Google doc.

I think that parents and students would easily be maneuver through these sites because of their similarities to Facebook. However, I certainly think it would be difficult to do much “teaching” on them. I see myself using these tools more just for computer-based assignment submissions, and correspondence with parents than anything else. Although I suppose documents, videos, etc, can be posted to allow for that teaching aspect, I think that these sites are more designed to be communication devices.

We decided at the end to close our accounts on both sites so that if we want to use them for a class in the future we can begin fresh. It turned out to be the most difficult part of the sites!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Tech Tasks

 

LeechBlock: My New Favourite Digital Invention

So, I am assuming that this time of year is about the same for you as it is for me?! In which case, I have more than enough papers, final projects, and even an exam to study for. And yet, somehow Facebook’s call beckons more strongly than it normally does!

I was on my blog today updating more of my professional pages, and when I logged out, the list of “freshly pressed” blogs came up, and one by a college student called Reflective Happiness popped up about setting goals. “Perfect!” I thought. So, anyway, I perused that for a while, and found out about the most marvelous little tool for Firefox. It’s called LeechBlock and you can enter which websites you want blocked, on what days of the week, at which times, and for how long you are (or are not allowed) access to those sites. Just what I need!

Of course, to test it I needed to play around on Facebook for 15 minutes, and just when I truly was getting distracted, it kicked me out! I love this new gadget and hope that it will help me to write five more pages of this essay…! Try it out if you have focus issues like me!

Image Courtesy of javierb

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Blogging Adventures

 

Online and Independent Learning

I participated in the Screencasting Session this week. I found it challenging to locate and figure out how to get involved in the session- I know there was supposed to have video too, but I couldn’t find it so I just listened to the audio. As soon as I finished listening, I went to the iTunes store to see if I could find any more neat educational podcasts, etc. Of course, that’s when I found the accompanying video to the clip I just listened to!

One comment that specifically made me stop to think was that screen casts should be kept to about 2 minutes and focus on “core content.” I understand why after trying to listen myself to over an hour long one! However, I wonder if we compromise the desire for students to understand a topic in depth when we do this. Do we “skim”? Or simplify? Inevitably, I would think. I believe screen casts would work better as an introduction to a topic. What do you think?

For the second part, I watched The Sandbox Manifesto by Angela Maiers

She talked about success of business and the economy no longer about how hard the individual works- it will be about how well they play, which I thought was neat. What I loved most though was the following:

Discovered rules of the sandbox from kids:

  1. Sharing is caring
  2. Messy is good!
  3. Imagination is your greatest asset
  4. Sand is for filling buckets (never for throwing- hurts them, and wastes your play time)
  5. Hugs, Help, and Smiles matter
  6. Take it to the community (take problems to the community- there are people that can help)
  7. Strangers are Future Friends
  8. Be Remarkable! (only job is to have fun, be courageous)
  9. Here you are the MASTER of your Universe
  10. PLAY is the work!

Image Courtesy of DLR.

I loved them, and I intend to keep these rules close to me always. I still love playing in the sandbox, and especially believe that the rules should carry over throughout our lives and not end suddenly at the end of Kindergarten. If you have a chance to watch the video, I would highly recommend it—even just to see the adorable children playing and explaining their rules is worth it!

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Blogging Adventures

 

Home on the Range: Solos and Individualized Learning

I am loving taking my piano lesson in a group setting. I find it a lot more enjoyable and it enhances my learning. However, because my classmates practice maybe only half an hour each week while I am practicing at least two, not only am I beginning to get bored with the songs and finding them too easy, but I have also been playing from my own music books. Such things as playing tabs and chords are of no interest to my classmates, so I find it challenging to ask questions or play special pieces that I have been preparing.

However, this week, my teacher asked us to take home the song “Home on the Range” and make it our own! We get to rearrange it, play it, or add whatever we want. I was really excited, and well, the video explains the rest, including my increased awareness of the success of  individualized assignments that allow freedom! How else can we, as teachers, work to make learning individualized, while still encouraging a group learning atmosphere?

 

Dislike Learning?

I recently had an argument with my brother about the idea that people can dislike learning. Now, a bit of background on him: he is intelligent and enjoys learning about medical, biological, kinesthetic, and scientific topics. However, he still maintains that it is possible for people to dislike learning: “Some people just don’t like learning.” I argued that this was impossible. People may be able to dislike learning about certain things, or dislike learning in certain ways, but I do not believe that people can dislike learning itself. All of life requires learning, and everyone has interests that they would value learning about, and even teaching others about.

I found this article that agrees with me. It stresses the idea of learned behaviour—even that student in class that seems to not hear one word you say is learning about what behaviours will test you as the teacher, or what behaviours will get him/her a passing mark, etc. I truly did try to find an article arguing that people can try to dislike learning, but the closest I could find was that some people can hate school.

Now, I realize that I am biased. Because I am in education, I obviously value learning incredibly highly. However, is it really possible to dislike learning? And, even if this is not the case, what makes a person (especially one such person as my brother who was always successful in the education system) uphold the belief that people can dislike learning? I found this belief very distressing. What do you think?

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Blogging Adventures

 

A Protégé? Not Quite…

I’ve been practicing the piano lots over the past couple of weeks. All of my friends are incredibly supportive of this learning journey, and I think they may have too high of expectations! They email me songs that I should learn, continue to tell me that they can’t wait to hear me play, etc. Interestingly, none of them can actually play the piano! I’m glad for their votes of confidence, but I’m afraid this fifty hour journey is not going to equate me with any world-renowned pianist.

So, I was just wandering through the virtual world of YouTube for some inspirational piano videos and I saw this video of an 8-Year-Old pianist! AMAZING!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx68ltMC2DQ&t=2m26s

I doubt I’ll ever be like her (largely because I don’t have near her commitment)! Regardless, I am getting into a rhythm of my practices. I like to start a practice with a scale (I’ve learned how to do the C scale, and another one that I can’t remember the name of), and then work on my songs for my lesson. After that, I am working on some really challenging songs from my beginner worship book. I am trying to master two songs out of there by the end of the semester. After this, I return to one of my favourite songs that I have already mastered to end my practicing with something enjoyable, and leave my practice on a note of success! It seems to work well.

I hope that this project will turn into a lifelong learning project. I love my lessons, and my classmates are already begging me to return to lessons in the fall!