#ECMP355: What I’ve Learned

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  Monkey Mash Button via Compfight cc

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.

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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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  A Screaming Comes Across the Sky via Compfight cc

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?

Cue the Fans: Drawing Hair

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For the first hair style that I did, this was the video that I used. I realize that the author of the video coloured the hair pink, but I just tried to copy those same value changes with lead. I did not do that as well as I would have liked, but I believe I faired fairly well considering it was my first crack at drawing hair. It is a little cartoon-lookish but it was a start, nonetheless.

For the second hair style that I did (aka 80’s rocker), I used this online resource. So far for my MLP, I haven’t used many resources from Deviant Art but good resources such as this are making me reconsider that. In addition, Deviant Art is a sort of online community where aspiring drawers like me can get together and share their work; therefore, I’m definitely going to check out this website more. Resources such as the one listed above are a valuable addition to video sources like the ones found on Youtube as the more variety of resources you get, the better you will get at whatever skill you are trying to develop. Both videos and images have their pros and cons and so trying out both these types of resources is beneficial for honing any skill.

For the third hairstyle listed in the video, I used this youtube video. What I liked the best about this video was that it really emphasized that you need to create different values in your hair, as all hair has natural highlights. Therefore, you can’t just draw every individual strand; instead, you need to look at it as a chunk of hair that looks different than the rest of your hair. Drawing hair this way is more time consuming but, in the end, it looks much more authentic and realistic.

For the fourth hairstyle (the “child’s hair”) I used this resource as a guide. I did switch up a couple of things in my drawing, but I used the steps listed in this website as a base. Perhaps what I struggled the most with in regards to drawing hair this week was putting the light reflection in the hair. Everyone’s hair is shiny and reflects at least some light. I find it’s very hard to portray this with lead, however.

Lastly, I’ve always loved the look of hair blowing in the face. Depending on the picture, I think it has a serene aspect to it. I didn’t have a specific resource that I modelled the last drawing in the video off of. But, I went on Pinterest and found some lovely hair blowing pictures; I’m at the point where I still need a reference to draw a picture and so all of those different resources were very welcomed. I think the last picture I drew was a good measure of where I am currently at with my drawing skills. Of course, that drawing was easy because it eliminated half of the face but it still required lots of time and patience.

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I found this bit in How to Paint and Draw People by Samuel Marshall interesting, as well, because it talked about how to draw light and dark masses, an ability that is important for drawing hair. Beginners like me often just draw one type of value change throughout their drawings but knowing where the thicker and thinner lines really goes a long way in making your art look realistic. This book is just another resource that has been helpful in my MLP journey.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’m still contemplating on what I should work on next week, the week before the grande finale (aka I’ll draw a full-fledged face). Any ideas/thoughts/suggestions? They’re all welcomed!

Why Technology: A Mock Conversation

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This week, Brandon Debert (check out his blog here) and I did a mock conversation between a parent and a teacher, the parent being concerned over their child’s technology use (specifically blogging) in the class. I believe Brandon and I hit all the right points in this conversation; the digital world has become the real world for so many students today and it is important that, as teachers, we incorporate this technology into their daily learning. We have to show the students to be responsible and safe online, while also teaching them how to engage with different online communities. Digital citizenship is a complex concept to teach but it is needed in order to ensure students’ success online. Anyway, Brandon and I hit most of these points in our conversation so I’ll let you read it for yourself. Sorry the screenshots are so small; click on them to make them biggerScreen+Shot+2015-06-08+at+8.59.41+PM(2)

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Of course, I wouldn’t expect a conversation about technology between a teacher and a parent to go as smoothly as the one above did. Parents are worried about their child’s security and safety and that’s absolutely understandable. It’s important for the teacher, however, to impress upon the parents that the pros of using technology in the classroom heavily outweigh the cons; that their child is benefitting much more from using technology than if they were not. Change is good and although parents might shy away from the idea at first, it wouldn’t be hard to convince them otherwise once they begin to understand just how incorporating technology in the classroom is beneficial to their child’s learning.

Any points YOU’D add to make the conversation better? Looking at it now, I think I’d perhaps emphasize to the parents that blogging is a great way for students to read and review other students’ writing online. We kind of touched on this in the conversation, but blogging would be a great way for students to further develop their comprehension and argumentative skills; they could read other students’ work and perhaps learn from their opinions. With this online community, you could also connect with classrooms across the world and the students could then learn about different cultures. I think this would be a great social studies idea and the students would really enjoy learning what life in Australia, for example, is like; it would be like the modern day version of having a “pen-pal”. (I remember having a pen-pal from Halifax in Grade Six. Am I really that old?)

Is there really anything you can’t do with technology in the classroom. As they years pass, it seems that the answer is no.

A Close-Up: “Teacherpreneurs” and Education in SK

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In education, today, many teachers experience burnout and leave teaching within the first five years. I’ve heard this many times from the education classes that I’ve taken. I remember one class in particular when one professor looked at us – a class of about 25 – and said that, odds are, half of us will quit teaching within the first five years. This rattled me, especially because that was in my first year. Now, however, I am confident that I’ll be a lifetime teacher; I love being in the classroom and I can’t imagine any circumstances that would lead me to want to quit. And although I completely understand the factors that go into teachers experiencing burnout, there are many teachers who find it in themselves to overcome these and become great educators. Reading this article, I’ve realized that there is a certain term for these teachers: teacherpreneur.

The concept behind being an entrepreneur is, of course, driving your own success and overcoming obstacles to guarantee prosperity. When you think of being a “teacher” and being an “entrepreneur,” then, do the two really seem so different? Teacherpreneurs think outside of the box and make their lessons innovative. They look at each one of their students and think, “What can I do for them to make them all successful?” They are not those who simply stand in front of the classroom droning on about the material; they look at each lesson like a live performance, and therefore try to make that performance as engaging and as exciting for the students as possible.

One point that I particularly agreed with in this article was the fact that there is differentiation for students, yet the same is rarely talked about for teachers. Why not? Different skills and talents within the teacher body should be welcomed among school divisions as they will allow for even more teachers to connect with their students. Not only this, but if teachers are able to develop their already existing professional skills – the article, for example, states teachers excelling in grant writing, curriculum writing and web design – then won’t allowing teachers to expand on these further throughout the school year help the school as a whole? Or, like the article states, maybe the school division should let the teacher take a year off school or make them temporary part time so that these teachers are able to develop these skills. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? The teachers are looking to make themselves better and are showing initiative to try to provide the best for their students. By doing so, it is my belief that school culture would improve as the teachers would have better tools to ensure student development.

The government is always looking for ways to achieve student success. Why not invest more in the teachers? After all, teachers are the ones who spend the most time with the students, the ones who know their needs, the ones who want to see them improve. Yet, it seems like school divisions are always the ones who don’t get the funding they need from the government. As you can see here, provincial funding for education in Saskatchewan is falling short in many school divisions. Even when the oil prices were high and SK’s economy was thriving, there was not much funding for education; many of the schools’ infrastructure is crumbling. As a result, you’ll see the leader of the NDP, Cam Broten, advocating for more funds for education. Of course, that’s just politics; one leader will always point out the other’s flaws, trying to out-do him or her. I’m not trying to make any political statements here; all I’m saying is that it seems that education is always at the bottom of the list priority-wise in many provinces. You don’t see health care getting the same treatment. And although it is true that hospitals save lives, education also cultivates the minds that become doctors and nurses. Do you see the problem here? It’s not just Saskatchewan, either; you may recall the prolonged teachers’ strike in BC that happened last year. A recurrent trend, it seems, is the government’s unwillingness to invest in education, to invest in our young people. Why do you think this is? Because as of right now, I don’t have the answer.

Anyway, this was by no means intended to be a political post. But I guess it kind of turned out that way, didn’t it? I am only twenty years old; I really have no experience in politics as I’ve only gotten interested in them in the last couple of years. I haven’t even voted yet; there hasn’t been an election since I turned 18. But I do think that education should be just as much as priority for the government as oil and gas and healthcare. Is that too much to ask? Do people not see the value in investing in teachers, in investing in schools?

Teachers are important. Teachers are professionals. We deserve respect. Maybe that’s part of the reason why it seems that governments aren’t willing to invest in education; they don’t realize how much work goes into being a teacher. Many people think the same thing; “teachers are glorified babysitters,” they say. How can we change this? I think teachers turning into teacherpreneurs would be a good start. Show people how great teachers really are, how much skill, time, and effort is involved in being a teacher. Give their child the best education possible, show them WHY we deserve respect. And although we shouldn’t have to be pressed to such lengths (it should be obvious why teachers are important), it is nonetheless important that we do so.

Go to this website and learn why we need teacherpreneurs in our schools. And be sure to follow the news, especially as the provincial election approaches, to see how the leaders approach the education debate. As pre-service teachers, we have to learn to be informed and conscientious about these things. We are the next generation of teachers and it is therefore our job to ensure that education in this province gets the attention it needs.

As always, your comments are welcome.

 

Pucker Up: Drawing Lips

892836742_58a81b4d2e_b Jeff Kubina via Compfight

This week, I drew lips. It seems like as these months go by, each week is getting progressively harder; I’ve certainly learned so far that drawing requires patience. But, at the same time, I’ve had fun doing it; even though I’ve wanted to scream and crumple my paper many times, I’ve learned that perseverance is key!

I decided to look up resources on Pinterest this week to see what I could find. My sudden interest in Pinterest is due to Joey’s, Gaby’s and Amy’s wonderful Pinterest presentation and screencast. I have a feeling that Pinterest might be another procrastination tool that I get into during the school year!

So, the first resource I looked up on Pinterest was this one. I like this picture because it does everything in steps and you can see with each step how the shading goes more in depth and the lips start to look more like lips. I like how there is nothing particularly fancy about the different steps and so I decided to do my own drawing of the picture to get into the grove of things.

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By this time, I was thinking that Pinterest was a really good resource for drawing and so I decided to draw this one. Now, I wasn’t even going to include the next drawing in this post because it’s not very good; however, I think it is a good lesson on the limitations of Pinterest. I found that, with the picture I copied this from, there were not enough steps and I found myself floundering, not knowing what to do with the shadings or the proportions. Unlike the drawing above, this was a fairly complex, realistic picture of lips and so unless you already have a solid background in drawing, I’m not sure if looking up these particular kind of resources in Pinterest would be beneficial.

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After this semi-failure, I went back to YouTube tutorials. One of the most helpful videos that I used this week was this one.

I learned a lot of things in this video, things that didn’t just pertain to drawing lips. The first thing that I learned was that you should always reference a real photograph when you are drawing. I haven’t been doing that these last previous weeks – I have just been mimicking what the resources showed me. This isn’t the best for my personal learning, I have realized; I should really be observing closely what I want to draw first – in real form – before jumping right into it. This way, I can identify exactly what needs to be drawn, especially the subtle things (i.e. the small creases in the lips).

Like the video shows, I used a grid to get the proportions of my lips right. I’ve done this most other weeks, as well, and it is great for beginners because it trains your brain as to how the different parts of the face are proportioned.

I followed this video exactly as the author set it out. The only thing that I found difficult was the shading. The man in the video was able to shade everything perfectly with just his pencil. For the smooth look that he was portraying, however, I had to use my blending stump. I read an article once that some artists consider using blending tools – like a blending stump – cheating. But, I was definitely not accomplishing anything by just using a pencil for blending; besides, in my opinion, one should do whatever s/he wants when drawing. It is a hobby, after all.

Needless to say, in this video, I was able to practice shading immensely. It really is amazing how different something looks pre and post shading. Shading makes everything look real – it creates dimension, it creates shadows, it creates different values. Having good technique for shading really is important if you wish to be a good drawer and I am glad that I brushed up on my blending skills the second week of the Major Learning Project.

To add to this thought, the author said that there really shouldn’t be any artificial lines in any realism drawing. What he meant by this is that all the lines in the drawing should be natural lines created by value differences. This brought me back to high school as this is something that my art teacher often said. You want everything to look natural and a harsh black line looks out of place against the backdrop of different, softer values.

Anyway, this is the drawing that I produced from watching the video.

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You can literally spend hours and hours on one drawing; that’s what I have learned. Even when I was in art class in high school, there was never a time when I thought, “Ok, I’m done!” Instead, deadlines always demanded when I had to hand in my work. I feel like this is the same for every artist out there. A sign of a great artist is that s/he is never happy with their work; there is always room for improvement somewhere!

Finally, I drew a variation on this video.

I started out trying to mimic what the author was doing but then I found that I wanted to make my own changes. For example, I wanted to use a darker pencil and I wanted the lips to look like the were wearing some sort of lipstick. This is not the most realistic drawing of lips ever, but I found it fun to kind of branch out and put out my own interpretation on a particular set of lips.

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Well, that’s it for now. I think I’m going to do hair next week – it sounds easy but I’ve heard from people that it isn’t. Any tips out there for how to draw hair? Anything a beginner like me should know?