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Why did I start this blog…

I never considered myself a blogger, or someone who takes the time to write out their thoughts in a journal or a diary. I have a short attention span, so every time I have tried to start something like that in the past, I have always given up in a matter of weeks or sometimes even days. Even though the last time I tried to start a blog was years ago, the little voice in my head was telling me that I have not changed since then and I still would not be able to keep it up. The truth (as hopefully we all know) is that people can change and I was limiting myself from growing as an individual by listening to that voice. I am not saying that now I am magically able to block out any condescending thoughts in my head, but recently I have been able to ignore them and allow myself to advance not only academically, but mentally. I find myself taking more risks in life and pushing myself further out of my comfort zone every day. I am setting personal, physical and academic goals and every day I try to accomplish something to get myself closer to achieving them. This blog is technically an assignment for my EDCI 336 class, but the amount of effort that I will be putting into it will be for my own benefit. I hope that this blog will help me achieve my long term goal of being the best educator I can possibly be for my future students. I want to set this blog up to increase my digital footprint in a positive way and create a space that I can show potential employers. I also hope that this blog will help me continue to set goals and find exactly who I want to be.

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Week #10

After 1 week of meditating, I was hoping to feel like a completely new person- completely mindful & not stressful or anxious at all. That did not happen. Instead, I found the week very frustrating because meditating seemed like a job that I was forcing myself to do and so I constantly found myself procrastinating it. Then, when I did meditate I found it very difficult to keep my mind clear and thoughts would constantly flood through my brain. I started the week with a guided meditation video and as the week progressed I also tried to meditate by myself. I found the tips from my last blog post really helped me when meditating without a video, especially when you count your breaths to help keep your mind clear.

I never realized how difficult the meditation practice is. I always thought that it would be easy to think about nothing for 5 minutes, but I even struggled with that. Now that I have acknowledged my struggles, I am going to try setting a smaller goal. My next goal is to meditating at least 3 times a week and only when my body & mind feels ready to meditate. This is a SMART goal because it is more attainable than my last one. My limiting belief is that I will not be able to accomplish even this small goal and will remain frustrated and unable to meditate. Now that I have identified my limiting belief, I am able to address it by reminding myself that I am aware of the benefits of meditation, so my sub-conscious brain will keep pushing me to meditate. I also need to remember that I am a beginner, and it will be difficult to meditate at first but with practice anything is possible.

If you are ever struggling with accomplishing your goals I encourage you to identify & address your limiting beliefs. Once they are out of your way, there is nothing stopping you from success!

Twine

Twine is a website where you can design “choose your own adventure” stories. The website is very easy to use and everything is saved onto your browser so you don’t have to worry about your work being on the cloud or creating an account for twine. For any black mirror fans- Bandersnatch was actually designed 1st on twine!

This website is perfect for a middle school English class or a beginner assignment for coding. In order to change the background colour, font, or size of text for your story you need to have a basic understanding of coding first. I have no background knowledge coding but with a little extra help I was able to figure it out very quickly. I definitely will be using Twine as a resource in my classroom and I encourage all of you to give it a shot as well!

Sketch-noting

Today in my EDCI 336 class we discussed the many benefits of Sketch-noting. In the presentation by Rich McCue, he explained how laptop note takers remember less than their pen & paper counterparts because they are processing lecture content at shallower levels & therefore remember less. When students take notes with a pen & paper they are having to condense the material and put it into their own words because they are unable to keep up with the lecturer otherwise. This method helps move information from short to long term memory very effectively. On the other hand, laptop note takers have more difficulty recalling information because they are not summarizing it but writing it down word-for-word off the lecturer’s slides

  • Sketch-noting
    • engages your whole mind
    • creates a visual map
    • helps w/ concentration
    • taps your visual language
    • 70% of people remember material if they draw a picture while only 30% of people remember it by just writing it down
  • Tips
    • use google image search for inspiration
    • patterns- linear, radial, vertical, path, modular, skyscraper, popcorn
    • make your drawings in 4 seconds or less- no detail needed
  • Process
    • start w/ a title &/or drawn photo of speaker or topic
    • proceed with your notes

I personally think that sketch-noting has many benefits but it would take a lot of practice to use effectively in a classroom setting. I also am a perfectionist so creating 4-second pictures would be difficult for me to do, whereas writing down notes is quick & simple in my mind. I can easily write down words without worrying about what they look like because I have so much practice note-taking. I would like to change up my note-taking to incorporate more sketch-noting techniques because I am prone to just copying down word-for-word what is on my professor’s slides. I think that it will be a learning curve but I am excited to see how it helps with moving my learning into my long-term memory.

Branding & Identity

This week to further our learning of how we can use graphic design, we watched and learned from this video on Youtube all about branding and design. We found that this video summarized the other videos we have been learning from and brought all the various elements of graphic design together.

Essentially, branding is how others perceive you and your company and your product.

Your visual identity is how your branding looks with your colour, typography, etc. Visual identity can be very persuasive for the consumer. Visual identity sets the tone for your product or brand.

The main elements of Visual Identity are:

  • Logo
  • Colour
  • Typography
  • Images

A logo can include a small image or icon and/ or some text. A good logo is a simple logo. All of the elements of your logo contribute to your brand’s identity and visual identity. Main colours used in the brand should be reflected in the logo. Like with all graphic design, use complementary colours to avoid vibrating and to ensure you don’t go too crazy with colours. Be sure to include a neutral colour in your logo and brand as well. When choosing fonts for the text, choose about three and be sure that they compliment each other and depict your brand well. Avoid overused and ugly fonts like comic sans ms and papyrus. When in doubt, use a timeless font that does not distract from your message. When choosing images for your brand, aim to tie them all together with a common thread such as colour, theme, or graphics. Avoid images that are generic or unauthentic.

Minecraft for Education

Today in my EDCI 336 class we learned how to play the education version of Minecraft! When used correctly, Minecraft can be an excellent resource to help students with socials, science, and math activities. Minecraft is very popular among present day elementary and middle school students so you can actually use your students as a resource to teach you how to play. In my EDCI 336 class we were taught by a group of grade 7 and 8 students from a local middle school. As teachers, it’s important to realize that we don’t know everything so this method of enabling your students to teach you something will drive their learning and grow their confidence.

Most elementary and middle schools in the Victoria/Saanich school districts have access to the newest version of Minecraft so you can easily use it your classroom. Before learning about how to play Minecraft, I had my hesitations but now I see how beneficial it can be in the learning process! For example, I was worried that my students would be stuck to their screens and not interacting with each other but my class was constantly talking to each other off screen when we were learning today. Minecraft is great way to get your students to collaborate with each other and I promise that they will continue to work together after school hours (they just have to share their IP address to play together!). I also wasn’t sure how to assess Minecraft projects but my professor recommended observing your students as they are working to see if they are addressing the core competencies of the BC Curriculum. Finally, I was worried that I would not be able to monitor my students on Minecraft but as a teacher you have full control of your students. For instance, you can transport to your students, freeze and mute them and transport them to you! You also are able to make your character invisible to your students so that you can watch them without them knowing.

To use Minecraft as a resource in schools I would recommend teaching the concept first and then using Minecraft as an activity to help with the development aspect of your lesson. For example, pressing F3 on your computer allows you to see your coordinates on the Minecraft grid. You could create a math project around this to help your students understand the x, y & z coordinates. Another example is for an ancient civilization unit in social studies. An activity to help your students learn this concept is to have your students create a civilization with design mode on Minecraft and then changing it to survival mode with monsters and your students have to survive with resources that they would only have during that time period.

For more information on Minecraft in the classroom and Minecraft school projects visit education.minecraft.net.

Last week in my EDCI 306A class (a methodology class for elementary school music) we taught a music lesson in groups of 6 surrounding a chant (image below) about rain!

The rain chant for our lesson from “Music in the Elementary School Classroom”

My group decided to do a science/music cross-curricular lesson for a grade 2 class that would teach students how to use body percussion to demonstrate an understanding of precipitation & the water cycle. To start our lesson we would ask our students what different types of weather there are and discuss what the weather is like outside. Next, we would explore the 4 stages of the water cycle together, focusing on the precipitation stage. For the development of our lesson we would have our students demonstrate using body percussion what rain sounds like and then as a class integrate rain sounds using body percussion into the rain chant! For the closure of our lesson we would perform the rain chant as a group and discuss the remaining 3 stages of the water cycle. We thought that by having the students act out/hear different forms of precipitation with body percussion they could begin to understand and visualize heavy rain/light rain/hail/snow.

When we presented our lesson as a group to our class, we had not pre-planned who would say what and with a group of 7 this resulted in some of my peers not saying anything. I think that it would have been very beneficial to organize who would have taught which parts of the lesson before we presented it to our class. However, the lesson was not a total failure and our classmates seemed to react well to our lesson. They liked how we integrated science into the lesson while still teaching our students about music. It’s hard to say if body percussion really helps young learners visualize & understand the different forms of precipitation because our classmates already knew the answers. I think that we would have to teach in a real grade 2 class to know for sure if we created a successful lesson plan.

Week #9- SMART Goals

For my open inquiry project, this week I am going to challenge myself to meditate for at least 5 minutes every single day. This can be a S.M.A.R.T. goal because it is…

  • S- specific
  • M- measurable
  • A- attainable
  • R- realistic
  • T- time-bound

My goal is specific because I know exactly what I need to do to accomplish it, it is measurable/time-bound since I have challenged myself to meditate at least 5 mins/day for 1 week and I believe that it’s realistic & can be attainable! I find that using this acronym is very helpful when setting short-term goals & I encourage you to use it as well.

Since I am new to meditation I decided to use a guided meditation like this one to help me keep my mind focused. The main reason I haven’t been able to meditate consistently before is because my mind always wanders when I try to mediate. As soon as close my eyes I start worrying about my long list of to-do’s or I randomly start to recall an embarrassing memory from years ago. This is why I challenged myself to try to meditate every day for a week because I know that with practice I will be able to settle my mind.

If you feel confident enough to meditate without a video but don’t know where to start, here are some tips from goodlifezen.com:

  • Find a quiet place & make sure that you can stay there with no distractions for 5-10 minutes
  • Keep your spine upright & your head up
    • The mind & body are intertwined so a poorly-balanced body will result in a poorly-balanced mind
  • Focus on your breath
    • I find that saying “In/Out” in my mind helps me focus on my breath & stay in the present moment
    • This also helps when thoughts come up, just let them slip away & refocus your attention on your breath
    • Don’t force your breaths to a certain pattern- just breathe naturally
  • Embrace Emotions
    • If emotions come up as you are meditating, just focus on how those emotions are making your body feel, then release all these feelings one-by-one
  • Ending the session
    • At the end of the session open your eyes, stretch & stand up slowly
    • Tell yourself that you are proud of yourself for completing a meditation practice- they are tough!

Happy meditating/goal setting!


For week six of our graphic design inquiry project we focused on the importance of layout & composition in a project. We watched this video on how to properly organize the different components of graphic design projects & here are the 5 points we learned!

  1. Proximity- using visual space to show relationship
    • make sure related items are grouped together to make work easier to read/understand
  2. White space- helps define & separate different sections
    • don’t be afraid to use it!
    • makes sure your work remains uncluttered
  3. Alignment- how each item in your design lines up
    • inconsistent alignment makes your work look messy
  4. Contrast- difference in text, colour, proximity, size…
    • helps catch the readers eye & emphasizes important items (& make these stand out)
  5. Repetition- every part of a project should have a consistent look & feel
    • Makes your work easier to read because the viewer knows what to expect

Paying attention to details like these is what will make your graphic designs stand out among others! For more videos on graphic design, click here!

Tech Blogpost #5

Today, we decided to experiment with PicMonkey. PicMonkey is a photo editing and graphic design tool. It is easy to use and offers users tutorials to help them achieve their specific design needs. PicMonkey gives users the option to being with either a template or blank canvas. It also allows you make specific searches based on your needs.

PicMonkey is easy to use and all of us could definitely see using it in the classroom. However, PicMonkey has a massive downside: it costs money. We took advantage of the 7 day free trial in order to test it out. However, it is not realistic to pay $7.99/month for a graphic design tool as a teacher. It is much more reasonable to use a free tool like Canva or Adobe Spark for any graphic design opportunities in the classroom.

Here are some designs that we made:

Tech Tips/Jesse Millar Presentation

Also on Tuesday, my EDCI 336 class was lucky enough to have Jesse Millar from Mediated Reality give us a presentation about using social media and mobile technology as educators. I found his presentation to be very eye-opening and educational. There was a lot of information regarding technology use in schools and with students that I wasn’t aware about before that Millar was able to address. Some of my take-away points from the presentation are listed below…

  • Healthy use starts with leadership so always model good technology/social media behaviour for your students
  • Myth- Tweens are too immature to use social media appropriately
  • Fact- It is biased to judge a whole age group as having the same social media habits
  • When you become a teacher make a separate youtube account for your classroom to avoid embarrassing recommended videos
  • Understand your school’s expectations and policies for technology when you are hired
  • You ALWAYS need consent from who is responsible for a child when you’re taking a photo of them
  • If you are wanting to create a Teacher Instagram you need a separate consent form to send home to parents/guardians & inform your administrator about it
  • As educators we are responsible for educating a future generation where most of the job opportunities will have to do with technology- we should be embracing technology in the classroom to adequately prepare them for this

For more about Jesse Millar…