Treaty Education in Schools: We Are All Treaty People

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There are many teachers who make excuses about why they don’t teach treaty education. I don’t have time. There are no Aboriginal students in my class. I don’t know anything about treaties. I don’t want to offend. The list goes on and on.

This is perhaps why some students do not take topics such as treaty education seriously. They sense that their teacher does not think the topic is meaningful and so they choose not to engage in the material. In addition, some teachers may not choose to teach treaty ed. at all and this, again, is an indicator to students that such a subject is not important. This, in combination with media and news perpetuating stereotypes against Aboriginals, makes it no wonder why the cycle of racism seems to be an unending one. Indeed, from Claire Kreuger’s presentation in ECS 210 yesterday (check her out on Twitter), she talked about a  article that CBC news posted in the last couple of years. The article polled people about whether they would date someone of Aboriginal descent and a startling 50% of those stated “no”.  Upon searching for the link to this article, I found that I could not find it and I hope that the outcry of people about the racism inherent in such an article forced CBC to pull it down. Yet, CBC writes what the people are interested in and that they would feel that such an article would pique people’s interest is disturbing in itself. After talking about this article, Claire asked the class to think about what Aboriginal adolescents would feel upon seeing such an article. If that was me, I cannot even describe in words what I would feel – the alienation, the anger, the hopelessness…it would be overwhelming. Yet, this is the reality that many Aboriginal adolescents face. It is one that no human being should ever have to endure.

Every student deserves to feel like he or she belongs is school; every student should feel welcomed. I would argue that, even in the most multi-cultural school, there is evidence of white privilege. It is shown through the smiling white men and women on posters across the school, the existence of only white staff members, the curriculum which has traditionally furthered white ways of knowing, and even school being organized around the Christian calendar; it is everywhere. From this evidence, it seems that achieving a truly multi-cultural school could be an insurmountable task. However, we are making gains; although our school system is not perfect, this progress is important – we are trying. Yet, by some teachers completely dismissing the idea of treaty education – and schools not holding them accountable for that – this progress is being severely inhibited. By failing to recognize the existence of treaties, teachers are furthering to perpetuate white privilege – the phrase “We owe them nothing – comes to mind. Indeed, there needs to be a major change in how teachers view treaty education in order for students to truly understand why treaty education is important.

Treaties are in effect as long as the “sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows.” That means, even though treaties were signed 150 years ago, they are still binding. We obey laws that were created this long ago and the treaties are essentially that; they are a contract, an agreement, that both white and Aboriginal peoples signed. In this light, it is curious that there is so much resistance towards treaties and this may point to those of European descent actually enjoying the privilege bestowed upon them due to their skin colour. This, obviously, will be a big hurdle in overcoming the existing stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples. Yet, we are all treaty people – white people signed the treaty, too. It was not a one way street. Promises were made that haven’t been met. Injustices (ie. residential schools) have been committed that have forever changed a culture. These are things that we cannot simply ignore as educators. Treaties are a part of Saskatchewan culture; Saskatchewan exists because Aboriginal peoples agreed to share their land. This cannot be taken for granted. More than this, however, the past must be understood in order for a better future to be secured. We cannot remain ignorant of past mistakes because that means we might commit them again and we do not want this for our children; teachers educate the next generation and thus, by incorporating treaty ed. into our lessons, we can hope to instil in students just why we are all treaty people.

One last thing – the fact that teachers don’t want to teach treaty ed. in fear of offending someone else is a valid one. Teaching a culture that you know nothing about is a scary task. However, something that Claire said in class really stuck with me: as long as you approach the topic of treaty ed. humbly, very little could go wrong. That is to say, as long as you make it clear to students that you do not have all the answers and that you do not claim to be an expert on Aboriginal culture, you will not offend other students. One way to practice this thought is to tell students that we are going to learn together; together, we are going to learn about treaties and we will make make gains, together, about why we are all Treaty People. With such an approach, students will really feel like they are part of the process of learning and they will be more inclined to engage with treaty ed.

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Pushing Students Beyond Boundaries

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“M, you are not bad. It’s just your behaviour that sometimes needs to be better”

“I’ll be better tomorrow,” M would say apologetically. And each time we had this conversation, I would leave with a profound sense that something was not right.” –pg. 20, Against Common Sense by Kevin Kumashiro

“Why didn’t you just tell us the answer in the beginning? Did we have to have this whole discussion?”

“I didn’t want to just tell you the answer. You don’t learn when you’re just told an answer. You learn when you figure out yourself and come to your own answers.”

“But you already had the answer. Weren’t we just trying to figure out your answer?” — pg. 23, Against Common Sense by Kevin Kumashiro

Out of all that I read in this chapter, these two passages were what left me with the most to think about. I can remember specific instances in which I was in the exact position as Kumashiro. There have been times when I would get frustrated when kids like “M” weren’t listening in class because I thought that was a direct reflection on my inability to teach. I would get upset at the student because I was upset at myself; I would ask myself, “Why can’t I get through to them?” Like Kumashiro, I have come to realize that, in most of these cases, it is not my ability to teach that is in question, but the ways that I teach. Sometimes, the “traditional” classroom does not work for certain students; even though schools constantly tell students such as “M” or “N” how to act and think, kids rebel against such notions, even though they don’t realize they are rebelling at all. Instead, they are simply saying and doing what feels right to them – they are learning in ways that makes sense to them. And who are we, as educators, to say that this isn’t how you learn? The school system is overly concerned with shoving information at students – here are the outcomes that you need to master by the end of the semester and we are going to learn them on my terms. What teachers need to realize is that education is a two way street; there needs to be give and take. Of course, there are some things that the students need to learn, whether they like it or not. However, the method in which you teach these things should be altered according to your students’ needs.

Most of all, however, you should encourage students to learn the material on their own terms; don’t teach to impose your own views on students. Instead, question the common sense answers and make students uncomfortable with their current ways of knowing. Learning is not about being complacent; it is about challenging your views and pushing knowledge to the limit. Oftentimes, students just adapt the ways of knowing that their family and peers have – there is a transmission of knowledge that occurs outside of school. The job of school, then, is to address these views and challenge them. Why do you think this way? Have you ever considered different ways of knowing? Investigating these different kinds of understanding is a way for students to learn more about themselves and question “common ways of knowing.” Doing so will not only improve their critical thinking skills, but it will also allow them to become more engaged in the world around them.

The Tyler Rationale: Out With the Old, In With the New

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The traditionalist model of teaching is one that is perceived by many as a “common sense” approach to education. However, as I talked about last week, issues arise with these kinds of “obvious” solutions because then people never stop to think: Is this still  working? Indeed, while the traditionalist model of teaching may have worked wonders decades ago, kids now live in a different society and teachers therefore need to consider the variety of students’ needs when thinking about lesson plans and assessment.

The Tyler Rationale is one that is built out of a traditionalist approach. It is as follows :

  1. Determine the school’s purposes
  2. Identify educational experiences related to purpose
  3. Organize the experiences
  4. Evaluate the purposes

When we went over Tyler’s Rationale in class, my first thought was, “If only it could be that simple!” Indeed, the allure, I think, to this kind of approach – perhaps explaining its popularity when it was introduced – is simplicity; follow these steps and you will have a school where all the kids will learn! And while I think the Tyler Rationale does have its merits as a starting point for teaching – it can be helpful when thinking broadly about lesson plans, determining what kind of teacher you want to be and determining how you want to organize your units, providing a good educational experience is not as black as white as this rationale may suggest.

When I was in school, a structure similar to The Tyler Rationale was used. I am the kind of student who is well suited for a traditionalist approach to education – I like memorizing and my skills are in language and writing – but many of my peers struggled because the teacher had such a concrete perspective on what knowledge and assessment was. Instead of the teacher observing the class and catering his/her lesson plans to fit students’ learning styles, it was the opposite: the students had to meld to the teacher’s way of learning. This, unsurprisingly, had negative consequences as the students started to resent the teacher and I doubt that they ever got anything meaningful out of the classes.

When I was in high school, I did not realize that this was the wrong way to teach; I grew up in a small town so I thought that memorizing facts and spitting them back out on exams was a good marker of knowledge. Perhaps more startling than this was that I thought that those students who were struggling in class weren’t trying hard enough; “if you actually sat down and read the material, you would be getting good grades,” I thought to myself. It was not until I came to university that I realized how inaccurate this was. Yet, that’s the way I was taught; that was the way that someone else’s “common sense” transferred as my own.

Education is a field that should always be changing; as society changes, education needs to change. Being stuck in one teaching methodology is counterproductive as if we, as teachers, fail to constantly challenge our teaching approaches, we will not be able to give students the education they deserve. The truth in schools today is that every student learns differently and that every students has different ways of showing knowledge; while it is true that teachers may not always be able to cater to these different needs, it is important that we still understand them so that, next time, we can give options of how a student could complete an assignment or the kind of activities we do during a lesson plan. Education today is all about acknowledging the diversity of one’s classroom and therefore trying one’s best to accommodate to these different needs; indeed, by doing so, the students are far more likely to learn and the teachers are far more likely to cultivate students’ success.

When “Common Sense” Isn’t so “Common”

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“Common sense” is a familiar phrase in the Western World. We use it to encompass various things that, as a culture, we think everyone should know.  Don’t cross the street before looking both ways. Don’t leave your purse unattended. Don’t go walking in a bad neighbourhood after dark. And while these “common sense” solutions certainly aren’t invalid, problems arise when we, as a society, constantly make “common sense” synonomous with “this practice has been in effect for decades and is therefore sound”.

That is to say, with the very origin of common sense comes a group mentality; common sense gained its very definition because everyone in society learned to follow a certain practice. And while this common sense certainly comes in handy for certain situations, it also proves problematic for others. Indeed, if a practice deemed “common sense” has been practiced for decades, who is going to question it? Very few. And the chances are, those who do question it will be scoffed at by the other 90%. Even though the world continues to evolve, it seems that our “common sense” has not grown with it; now, many of the things that we perceive as “common sense” are actually outdated.

As we see in the article “The Problem of Common Sense,” there are issues with relying on “common sense” solutions in schools. First off, it doesn’t allow us to adapt to the changing environment in the school. Schools have always been a part of our society but, within the last ten years, we are experiencing big changes in the demographics of our student population. However, many schools are still using the same practices that they did twenty years ago, saying “this is what we’ve always done.” Standardized testing – especially in the United States – is an example in which many say that this “common sense” practice just isn’t working anymore. Yet, those who want to go outside of the box are often scoffed at and their ideas dismissed as counterproductive to the goals of school. Where does it end? In many ways, the education system is in a slump; new ideas aren’t welcomed, yet the old ideas are simply not working.

Another intriguing point that this article makes is that we, as a society, rely on common sense because it provides us with a sense of comfort. The train of thought goes: “This is what we’ve always done so how could what we’ve always done be wrong?” People don’t like to stray from their comfort zone and they certainly don’t like to think that what they’ve been doing for the past years has been wrong. Yet, when so much of the world is changing around us, one must recognize that we, too, must change with it; much larger problems arise when, entrenched in our ways, we refuse to adapt to the environment around us.

Another facet of this “common sense” problem is the origin of it. As I said before, common sense is a product of society’s own viewpoints and experiences. However, isn’t a major problem in society today that not everyone is being heard equally? That it is only those of privilege and status whose opinions matter? In schools where there is increasing diversity, this poses a problem because those from India, for example, might not regard certain situations as “common sense” like those native to Canada do. Yet, society still greatly presses solutions of “common sense” and perhaps this is just an excuse for those of privilege to keep pushing their views. The article likens this thought to a sort of cultural imperialism and this, of course, can easily lead to different types of oppression. It is exactly this kind of oppression that we, as future teachers, have to work together to prevent. Every student deserves to have their thoughts heard and disregarding their experiences because they do not coincide with white society’s definition of “common sense” is a sure way to ensure that they do not reach their full potential.

With this, I am in no way saying that teachers are purposefully letting things such as racism, religious intolerance or sexism permeate into their lessons. What I’m saying is that in this day and age, with globalization and our culture moving at a rapid pace, there needs to be more awareness of the sort of dangers that arise from blindly obeying “common sense”. Instead, we need to be constantly challenging what we believe to be easy solutions, analyzing our responses to certain situations and always being open to different approaches or ideas. With that, and only that, can we hope to create an environment in which all of our students feel equal and ready to learn.

#ECMP355: What I’ve Learned

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The end of ECMP 355 has officially arrived. It was a great class; I learned so many useful, practical things that I will undoubtedly carry over in my career as a teacher. I thank Katia and, of course, everyone in #ECMP355 as you all made the class fun and engaging.

Below is my summary of personal learning for ECMP 355. The video is split into two parts. The first bit is me singing an amazing rendition of Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. As I’m sure you can all tell, if things didn’t work out for me as a teacher, I undoubtedly have a future as a singer. To make this video, I used iMovie. I had never used iMovie before and so I was a little scared to use it. However, I found that it is totally user friendly and I had no trouble figuring it out. The hardest part of the whole experience was finding good lighting and, even then, I’m not sure I did such a good job (I swear I’m not THAT pale).

I was going to leave my summary of personal learning with just these song lyrics, but then I remembered what Katia said in class: do something for your summary of personal learning that challenges you. For me, writing song lyrics is not challenging as I am a fairly creative person. So, I decided to tack on another part to the video and that includes me using Screen-Cast-O-Matic to make a screencast. I had never used Screen-Cast-O-Matic, either, but it was easy to figure out. The hardest part was doing all of the editing in iMovie but again, that workload was fairly manageable.

Although it wasn’t hard work, there was lots to be done in creating this video. I know it’s a bit long (sorry, Katia) but I really am proud of the overall result. I gotta say, I never knew I had it in me! And that was the point of this whole class, wasn’t it? To show everyone that they are more digital literate than they thought? To show them that if they put some effort in, they’d learn that technology isn’t so scary after all?

Well done, Katia, well done.

Tackling Issues of Social Justice Through Social Media

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There are more and more people talking about social justice than ever before. The question is, why? Why are issues of social justice all of a sudden picking up steam? Ten years ago, social justice was talked about, but on a much smaller scale. Now, the news is bursting at the seams with social justice issues as people become more and more involved in what’s happening in the world today.

A week ago, I would have told you that social justice issues have risen exponentially over the last five years. However, having thought about it now, I realize that social justice issues have always been there. There was the Ku Klux Klan (who, extraordinarily, still have their own website. Yet more proof of the fact that racism still exists) and the pinpointing of HIV as a “gay disease,” for example, not so long ago. There was also the Civil Rights Movement, where African Americans advocated to have the same rights as their Caucasian counterparts, a battle that lasted for more than ten years.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that social justice issues have always been there, but now social media tools – like Twitter – are allowing these issues to gain more exposure. Ferguson, Charleston, Eric Garner, Elliot Rodger. Together, events like these have blown up social media as people all over the world unite with each other in solidarity. Because the fact is, even if these events don’t happen in our own backyard, they still affect us. It is naive to think that there aren’t social justice issues in your own community and by staying informed about these events, we are better prepared to make our community a place where everyone is treated equally even if, in the midst of all these tragedies, such a notion seems like a fantasy.

But no, we can’t think like that. With hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #BeenRapedNeverReported, #WhyIStayed, #WomenForAll, you have to believe that one day our world will change. Because people use these hashtags our of solidarity, to show others that they are not alone in their fight. Twitter has allowed us to become an international community where ordinary people can connect with each other over these sorts of issues. That people are becoming so involved on the social media stage and are so passionate about these issues, gives hope that maybe, one day, our world will be different.

In particular, I am thankful for tools such as Twitter because it has empowered youth to stay more informed about current events. Before I was introduced to Twitter, I never knew what was happening in the world. However, now, I am able to find out about an event the minute it happens. For example, I immediately contacted a friend of mine when I got up one morning and saw this story on Twitter. My friend lives across the street from where this happened but she hadn’t even heard about it until I texted her. With social media, people are able to learn in real time what is happening in their community and, in addition to this, they are able to have a voice. Today’s youth are the ones who have the opportunity to change the world and so perhaps by being exposed to what’s happening in places like Ferguson, these youth will be empowered to set the world right. 
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What it says in this sign is true; the moment we become silent about things that matter, we cease to exist in a meaningful way. And through these social media sites, like Twitter, we are given an opportunity to speak out, to protest the injustices that still exist in the world. A voice, that’s all there needs to be. A voice that gets the rest of the world involved. Freedom of speech is a right we all have and it makes a huge difference in how politics are conducted in our country. Politicians want to make people happy and by people voicing their displeasure about things such as the events at Ferguson, there can be change, even if it’s just a little.

Of course, Canada has its own issues regarding social justice. Most prominently, of course, is the struggle that many First Nations face in Canada today. A Truth and Reconciliation report was released from Ottawa a month ago, saying it was a “cultural genocide” regarding what Canada has done to First Nations. And, a few years back, there was a hunger strike that a First Nation chief did in an attempt shed life on the issues that First Nation communities across Canada were facing. In complement to this, an #IdleNoMore hashtag was created in protest to the Harper government’s apparent indifference to First Nation issues. Yes, in Canada, we certainly have a major mountain to climb regarding social justice issues. But there is hope. When Carey Price gave an inspiring message to First Nations youth at the NHL 2015 awards during his acceptance speech, many people were again reminded of the maltreatment and lack of opportunities that First Nations today face. Social media was alight with these sentiments from Price and he soon became a Twitter trend in Canada.
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So what are teachers’ responsibilities concerning teaching social justice in the classroom? I spoke a bit about it in this blog post. I think the key is not so much to preach to students that this or that is wrong, but to instead give them the facts and let them draw their own conclusions. It is important for teachers to allow students to build their critical thinking skills, not to preach. Social justice issues are complicated and I know that I, as a white woman of privilege, will never be able to portray what it feels like to be a part of a minority; in fact, trying to do so may only anger those who are of minority status in my classroom. I will, however, incorporate social justice issues into my classroom and try to get the students to reflect on them because I believe in equality and building for the future. This is the world we are living in, and it’s the only one we got so we have to work towards spreading an attitude of love and acceptance.

Although, like Brandon Debert said in this blog post, there are “Fads” concerning social media use, I absolutely think Twitter is more of a blessing than a curse. Although these people might not totally grasp what they are saying by using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, what is important is that they are at least getting exposure to what is happening outside of their own community. They are, at least on some level, aware that racism is a problem and one that needs to be fixed. Working towards building an engaged community is essential for tackling these social justice issues and so the more activity Twitter sees on these issues, the better.

How do you view Twitter in regards of allowing people to voice their concerns about social justice issues?

Looking Back: A Reflection on my MLP

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The end of my MLP is finally here. Two months have gone by and with them, I’ve made great progress on my drawing skills. Watch the YouTube video below to see what the end result of these weekly MLP posts have been.

To help me create these drawings, I went back to all of my previous Learning Project posts and reviewed the resources there. You can check out my MLP progress, from start to finish, here. Or, if you want a short version, you can check out my summary of these last two months here. Also, all of the YouTube videos that I uploaded onto my different blog posts can be found on my channel here.

To round off this whole drawing experience, I just want to say a few things. First and foremost, this project obviously taught me the power of technology. Today, you can choose to learn basically anything you want and find the resources on the internet to do so. Because of such a reality, teachers obviously have a great tool at their disposal and so, as we have been talking about throughout ECMP 355, technology has a large part to play in helping students learn. Now, it is just a question of HOW we should go about incorporating tech into the classroom. Luckily, Katia has given us many options for that. We have so many tools that we’ve learned about in this class, ones that will help us become better teachers. From Blue Jeans, Socrative, Kahoot, Pinterest, Google Docs, Aurasma, there are so man ways that we, as teachers, can shape lesson plans. All we have to do now is branch out and do it! No more excuses, no more fear. We’ve got to set the example for our students and one of the ways that we can do that is being the best we can be at our jobs.

Although this may not have been the main lesson of this project, I think there’s something to be said for the fact that you are never too young or too old to learn something new. I bet you, if you were to ask Tenille or Brandon six months ago if they thought they would be learning ASL and astronomy, they’d say no. All too often we think, “Oh, I don’t have enough time for that,” or “Oh, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” when it comes to learning something new. However, in reality, these are just excuses. Learning is good for the brain and, without sound too cheesy, it’s good for the heart and soul, too. And, with all these new tools at our disposal, you now have the option to learn what you want, whenever you want and at your own speed. Yet another benefit of technology to add to the never ending list.

Thank you all for following my MLP this semester! I’ve appreciated all of your comments and your feedback helped me grow throughout these last two months. Processing feedback and applying it to your learning is something that we, as educators, will need to do in the future and I appreciate that all of you gave me an opportunity to practice this.

Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

The End Has Come: Becoming the Next Michelangelo

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  André van der KAAIJ via Compfight cc

To start, I am going to reflect about what my MLP has been like over these last two months.

In my first blog post, I commented about how I had never attempted to draw a human face before. I did have some high school art experience, however, and that was a big reason why I felt confident to pursue this project. During that first week, I decided to start simple and did a few sketches of  a basic human face, just to ensure that I had a general idea of face proportion and face symmetry.

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Next, I did some brushing up on the basic sketching skills that I learned in high school. Specifically, this included familiarizing myself with the different drawing pencils (see my favourite here), learning how to use blending stumps and doing a few blending exercises. Appropriately, I named this blog post “Getting the Tools in Place” because all these elements were essential for the rest of my MLP drawing journey. Check out my week two blog post here.

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Week three involved me taking a bold approach and attempting to draw the human eye. Looking back, perhaps drawing “The Window into the Soul” was a bit ambitious for first getting out of the gate, but it helped me gain an idea of the challenges I’d be facing in the future. Specifically, I had some trouble drawing the light reflections in the pupil but I was able to overcome this and draw some quality eyes. Check out my progress in this blog post.

Week four was definitely my least favourite week because it involved drawing perhaps one of the most unattractive parts of the face: the nose. It was around this part of my MLP that I thought that I chose the wrong subject to do my project on. It was also around this time that I learned that perseverance and patience are key! With this in mind, I was able to draw a few noses that were semi-respectable. Click here to read about why I had so much trouble with drawing noses.

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Next up, I drew lips. Out of all my lip creations, the one below was by far my favourite. Also, coincidentally (or not), it took the longest. This proved to me that, especially when drawing is concerned, the more time and effort you put into it, the better the result will be. Generally speaking, my lip-drawing weekend was a successful one.

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Week six was, again, a challenging one. Of course, in the grande scheme of things, everything is difficult when you are learning something new. But, most of the hair drawings that I attempted looked like cartoon characters’ hair. All I wanted to do was to draw a glorious Beyoncé hair-blowing-in-the-fan drawing (see a picture here), but it was harder than I thought. I am proud, however, of my progress and progress is all that we can ask for, right? Especially when we are trying out something new.

Week seven was a sort of “miscellaneous” week. I decided to catch up on a bunch of things that I thought would help improve my overall sketching skills. This included drawing different shapes of eyebrows, different head shapes, and the different perspectives that you can view a human face from. This week was a relatively easy one and so it helped me get ready for a big week of completing a few finished sketches of a human face (soon to come!).

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It is much easier to see how much progress I have made throughout these two months when it is laid out in one short blog post. It’s also made me reflect about how amazing it is that one can learn to do something completely new using only online resources like Youtube (check out my How-to-draw playlist here), Pinterest, DeviantArt and others. No matter one’s opinion about the use of technology in the classroom, one cannot deny the ability of technology to aide someone in the pursuit of something new. Besides online resources, I have also realized the importance of print resources and utilized a few of those in my MLP. Check out this vlog to hear about that.

Currently, I am working on drawing some finished human faces that I hope will look like the celebrities that I am actually trying to draw. That post, along with some final commentary about what this MLP has taught me, will be coming in the next couple of days.

If you could name one skill that your MLP has taught you so far, what would you say?

This and That: Some Finishing Touches


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EvanHahn via Compfight cc

With the deadline for our MLP looming, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on for this week. So far, I had done all the major parts of the face and so I was struggling to decide what would be a good addition to all this previous work. Eventually, I decided to work on the different angles of the face, the different head shapes and the different eyebrow shapes. Together, these make up enough work for one week and they are each important for my overall goal of learning how to draw faces realistically.

To start out, I drew different perspectives of the face. As we all know, the view of our face changes depending on the angle we are viewing from. Depending on these different angles, your facial features look incredibly different; a person’s nose, for example, looks much different from the side compared to the front. For the drawing below, I copied this resource that I found on Pinterest. I thought the drawing did an excellent job of covering all the angles that you can see a face from, and how this change affects the look of the face. It’s important to consider what angle the face is at when drawing and so this was a valuable exercise for me to do.

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There were also a few helpful pages from this book that I got from the library. It talks about how splitting a face in half and drawing lines on each side of the face accordingly can help in making a face symmetrical and this is something that I’ve been trying to do with all the drawings that I’ve done. It also talks about how drawing diagonal lines on the face can help you get a feel of what angles all the facial features are at.

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Next up, I did some research on the different face shapes. Before this, I didn’t realize that there were so many different face shapes out there. But, delving into this subject a bit more, I realized that faces are constructed very differently. I find that it is easier to understand this if you see real life examples of these different face shapes, i.e. celebrities. Click here to check that out. Face shape is key for making a face recognizable and so it’s important to recognize that each person you draw has a distinct jaw line/facial construction. I used this website as a reference for drawing my face shapes.

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Now, onto the eyebrow shapes. I found a really great still picture demonstration of how to draw an eyebrow. See that here. The key to a good eyebrow drawing is to make sure that the drawing has texture. Hair has texture and that therefore must be reflected in the drawing. To do so, you draw different hair strands darker than you do the others. You DO NOT shade your eyebrows the same colour as, unless you draw your eyebrows on, that’s not how real eyebrows look. There are, of course, many different eyebrow shapes but the main goal of these exercises was to make sure that I am able to get the eyebrow texture right. Throughout this MLP, I am finding Pinterest to be quite an asset as, again, I found a resource that helped me draw eyebrows. I will definitely be using Pinterest in the future for getting ideas for lesson plans!

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Although I didn’t do any exercises in relation to the video below, I thought it was very well done and it was good for just giving a general overview of how to draw a human face. The author who did the video had excellent tips regarding how to draw a face and some of the techniques he used would be beneficial for me to use in the future.

That’s it for this week. Next week, I’m going to write my final reflection on this whole drawing process, as well as have some  sketches of a human face. As a reference, I am going to use a celebrity face and hopefully, my finished sketch will look somewhat like that person.

How’s everyone else’s MLP going?

Scratch “Scratched” a Year off My Life: My Story

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  greg westfall. via Compfight cc

It was a cold, dark night when I decided I would use the last 30 minutes before bed to try out Scratch. It’ll be fun, I told myself; I’ll make something cool.

In the back of my brain, a small voice said: “What about what Katia said? That memories of using Scratch still torments those who used it in her last class?” (Sorry, Katia. I put some embellishments on that for effect. But, after having used it now, I know that’s what you really wanted to say, anyway).

“Katia’s crazy,” I told myself. “I watched her work with Scratch with my own eyes in Tuesday’s class. It won’t be hard.”

The lies we tell ourselves.

The truth is, I stayed up for two hours past my “bedtime” trying to figure Scratch out. “This is a little harder than I thought,” I told myself at first, downplaying the trouble I was having. Then, an hour later, I was grinding my teeth and trying to keep myself from throwing my computer at the wall. I said things in those minutes that I was not proud of, some of which would get me a bar of soap in the mouth if I was at home. In the back of my mind, I knew that if I went to bed and tried it out the next day, I would be able to figure this mystery known as Scratch out but I didn’t want to admit defeat. The result? I ended staying up much later than usual with no progress to show for it; I ended going to bed cursing the world and  “Scratch” the cat who wouldn’t stop meowing when I told him to.

I was furious that I was having so much trouble with Scratch and the trouble I had solidified to me why so many teachers choose not to use technology in their classrooms: for some, the learning curve is substantial. With everything that teachers have going on in their lives – extracurricular, marking, workshops, etc – there often isn’t extra time to try to figure these things out, especially when you figure his/her personal life in. I even tried to find resources on how to use Scratch on the internet, and I was shocked to find that there wasn’t many, not even those trusty step-by-step videos on YouTube that teachers so often rely on.

So what did I do? I tried Scratch out again after work – 24 hours later – when my anger had cooled off and I felt ready for the possibility of plunging myself into a pit of despair. Or that’s what I thought, anyway. After taking a deep breath and watching Tuesday’s screencast again, I decided to start new and ditch the devil known as “Scratch” the cat to toy with some different options.

My mindset? Start simple. Be patient. Be calm. The result? Check it out here. It’s by no means a masterpiece – and the weirdness of it somewhat mirrors my residual frustration – but it’s a start, right? I’m learning, and learning is a process, one that we so often stress in our classrooms. We can’t expect to snap our fingers and for a finished product to magically appear. A key to learning anything new is to take it one step at a time and that was something I ignored at first because I wanted to get my Scratch done as quickly as possible.

Let’s examine this for a minute, this impatience; teachers are models for their students. The students see us everyday and observe how we conduct ourselves. We don’t want students to take the shortcuts on things so why should we? We want students to try their best on everything and so if they see us taking “shortcuts” in our lessons – i.e. opting out of the “hard” technology stuff – they will get the wrong message. We already know that integrating technology into the classroom is one of the keys to an engaging lesson and so, as teachers, we have a responsibility to do so; we are models for our students and anything less than our best would reflect poorly on the message we want to send.

Many years from now, when reflecting back on my Scratch experience, I’ll think on it fondly as the moment when I almost cursed technology and vowed to be rid of it for the rest of my life. But, in those moments, I heard Katia’s voice. “PLN!” She said. “Technology-based learning!” She shouted. “Multi-faceted learning!”

I know, of course, the benefits of using technology in the classroom. This whole Scratch experience was simply a moment of weakness, like we all have. We all have those days when we want to scream because technology is the worst thing that could have ever happened to the world (or so we tell ourselves). What defines us in those moments, however, is how we respond to this adversity. And, of course, doing what’s best for our students will always motivate us to make the right decision. Incorporating technology in the classroom is proven to foster better learning and we may forget that in those moments when we want to throw our computers against the wall, but it comes back soon.

If there’s two things I learned from this Scratch episode it’s this: never start a project 30 minutes before bedtime and anticipate a learning curve when trying out any new technology. Don’t be discouraged by these problems, however; embrace them as part of the learning process.

Now that I’ve used Scratch, what do I think some of its uses could be? The possibilities really are endless; the website is a great way to encourage creativity in students and with this creativity comes an endless amount of things to do. You could create a game, you could create a story, you could create a book report, a presentation, anything, really, that meets your fancy. It is teachers’ job to work with the curriculum, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it in a conventional way, especially when we have so many different tools at our disposal. And what does conventional even mean now, anyway? In a world of technology, there is no such thing as conventional and I think we are seeing this more and more in today’s schools. Ultimately, technology is our future; it will never stop progressing. It is our job, therefore, to work with this wave to empower students to have a deeper understanding about this new world and perhaps even give them the skills to contribute to it. Learning how to code, in particular, is essential to this. There are a plethora of resources stressing why coding is important regarding students’ learning and I agree. Check out this article – just one of many – to understand more about why it’s important.

The bottom line? Computers are our present and they will be our futures. If I may be so bold, I’ll even declare that there is no profession today that is not untouched by computers. Therefore, don’t you think having a better understanding of how computers function would be a valuable addition to our schools? We say that we want to give our students the best and we have to stand behind this; actions speak louder than words. Besides, teaching our lessons through technology such as coding would actually improve students’ learning; it’s dynamic, it’s engaging and it will get students excited for lessons.

Fellow #ecmp355 ‘s: How was YOUR experience with Scratch? For any others, what do you think about using coding as a technological resource in the classroom?