Archive for the ‘Tech Tasks’ Category

Some Nights

So for the second part of Tech Task 5b I decided to follow in the footsteps
of Megan (because I liked hers so much) and do the “Lyric Typography Poster” assignment from MISSION DS106 website. I chose a song that has become a recent favourite of mine (it was the “anthem” for road trip some friends and I took at the end of the school year) called “Some Nights” by Fun. I simply used paint to create my poster and found it to be pretty complicated because Paint is a brutal program… However, it served my needs and let me create (what I think is) a pretty cool picture.


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So, for Tech Task 5b I was SUPER excited to see that there was a “Visual Assignment” option on the DS 106 Assignment bank site. So immediately I chose that option and began looking at assignments I could do. I found one called  “Colorize It” and thought it looked pretty fun so I delved into the assignment details. I’m an avid “Instagram” user and I like to think I can edit photo’s pretty well, so this assignment was going to be super fun for me! I chose to take a picture that my friends and I had taken at an abandoned school house on the way home from Minot one day and change the colour of the sky to make it look a little cooler. I used an online photo editing website called Pixlr online photo editing service and used the Pixlr Express option.   I’ll post the original and then the “colorized” photo so you can see how it turned out 🙂

So, there they are. The first assignment from this sweet website is complete. I’ll be posting my second once I’m finished!

– Shayna

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As I sat down to read the blog posts assigned for Tech Task 5a I was immediately drawn to the “School Isn’t Like a Job” post by John Scammell. This post discusses the practice of giving a “zero” mark to students who do not hand in assignments throughout the year. The post developed from a situation in Edmonton, as highlighted in the National Post Article, where a teacher’s job was threatened because he gave zeros to his students.  As I opened the post and began reading my mind immediately flashed back to a discussion we had in our ECS 410 class – a class based solely on assessment practices. We had discussed the fact that in Saskatchewan, teachers are encouraged to no longer give students a “0” on assignments that are not handed in during the school year. We listened to a radio session on CBC Radio with Premier Brad Wall (I’ve tried to find a link to that show but I can’t find it anywhere!) where he discussed this issue in context for Saskatchewan schools. We dived into the subject in the class and discussed why it is that we, as educators, are encouraged not to give zeros to students in our classrooms for late assignments. There were many arguments, for and against, this idea in the classroom but one that (ironically) stood out to me was an example similar to Dean’s comment left on the Scammell’s blog post. We discussed that, similar to Dean’s thought, if we were to hire a someone for a task we would go by reference from others and these references would include the “product” report as well as the general work ethic of the person.

Throughout the entire ECS 410 course we discussed that “grades” have become a debilitating factor within schools and that students (I’m quite guilty of this) do not care about the learning as much as they do the grade. And while I will admit that grades are often a motivator for me, I, as a teacher, CANNOT be truely “assessed” based on the grades that are assigned to me by my University professors. I’m sure we are all well aware of the fact that within the Education Faculty (as many other faculties I’m sure) at the University of Regina, there are “guidelines” in which the professors are to keep to that limits the grades they can give to us in their classes. Does this mean that I am going to be a poor teacher because my marks were curved down to fit the requirements of the Faculty? No! So, I feel that to apply this notion to students in our classrooms is ridiculous. In this class we also discussed that when assessing an assignment, the “hand in date” should not be included in assessment unless it is explicitly stated to the students. If I have an assignment for my students that is based on a mark out of 20 but no where in the rubric (or other assessment technique) does it show the students that the due date will be included in the mark, how can I take away 5 marks from that students assignment if it is late? If a student hands in an assignment they should be assessed on the knowledge they display and the quality of their work. I feel that as long as the assignment is handed in, late marks should not be applied (especially in extenuating circumstances).

As I was doing some further research on the topic I found this video on YouTube that discusses the policy changes in Ontario around giving zeros in classrooms in 2010. Even though the video is older, I feel that Louis Volante gives many excellent ideas on how to help students in these situations rather than giving them the zero mark on their assignment.

After listening to this video and rereading some of the comments on the initial blog post I have come to the conclusion that, while policies against giving zeros may not be the best, teachers should NOT be giving zeros often in the classroom. Giving a zero should be something that a teacher has to do only a few times a year. And I feel that if a teacher is consistently giving zeros to students, that the teacher needs to be evaluated because, in my opinion (and many may not agree with this) that teacher is not doing their job to help that student out. I fully agree with Volante’s opinion around giving zeros when he discusses that when assessing students we need to use relevant information. If a student receives a zero on one assignment out of many, should that zero be taken into account simply because the assignment wasn’t done? No. I feel that students should be evaluated and assessed on the most relevant information available.

There was much discussion in the comments around the fact that students are forced to sit in class and learn what we teach them but that the fact that we are teaching them habits and positive accountability were “hogwash” (according to Paul’s comment). However, I feel that this comment in itself is hogwash. If an educator believes that he/she is not teaching students how to create positive habits then that teacher should not be in the classroom. As an educator I am aware that in classrooms today it is as much my job to teach students positive habits and help them become positive and productive members of society as it is to teach them the curriculum. It is MY JOB to do everything that I can to help them achieve and NOT get a zero for a mark.

So, I guess through my rambling I’ve come to the conclusion that when I have a classroom and someone asks me if I will give my students zeros I will not say no, but I will try my hardest to insure that giving a zero will not be concern in my classroom. What do other think about this? Should we give zeros? Should we give them, but very scarcely?

– Shayna

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Survey Results

Well, I guess I have to post the results for this…. even though they are not very good. Turns out that people didn’t want to take my survey so I only got 5 responses…. one of them being my own. So as you can see in the data below, 60% were Hotmail/Live.ca users and the remaining 40% were Gmail users. I’m pretty sure this information cannot even be really counted in anything because it’s such a small number, but it is almost what I expected. I am aware that Hotmail and Gmail are likely the most commonly used email providers and was expecting them to be among the highest percentiles in the survey.

For those of you who took the survey, thanks a bunch!

– Shayna

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As a computer user, I have had quite a bit of experience with Google. However, there are many amazing things about Google that I was unaware of. Over the past few years of University I have had the opportunity to check out a few of the interesting applications from Google including; Gmail, Maps (has saved me from being lost many times), YouTube, Google+ and Translate. I have also recently experimented around with the many different sides of Google Docs, Google Latitude and Google Calendar.

Google Docs is quite frankly one of the most brilliant ideas out there. As an educator I’m constantly looking to share ideas and plans with others and Google Docs provides me with the perfect opportunity to do this. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to use it much I have shared a few presentations and presentation plans through the use of Google Docs and have been very impressed. Though I have struggled a little bit with formatting of a few powerpoint presentations, it was nothing that couldn’t be worked with in the end to allow for easy sharing and presenting. I also feel that once I have some more opportunities to use Google Docs in creating different presentations I will be able to work through my formatting woes. I also took some time to play with the “Drawings” application on Google Docs and found it to be an interesting app that I can definitely see myself using with students in the classroom.

Google Latitude As an iPhone user I will be the first to admit that when I heard about “Google Latitude” I was 150% opposed to the idea. I did NOT like the idea of people tracking me on a map every day. However, after some coaxing (and a lost bet) I was forced into getting the app. Months later I can say that I’m SO glad that I got it. At first I didn’t use the app at all and figured it to be a waste of time. However, as I added more contacts and realized how I could use it, I became very fond of the app. It’s so easy now to organize meetings with the people on that list because with a quick check I can see where they’re at and where would be a place to meet them. I can also get directions to the people that I have on Latitude so that with the click of a button I’ve got a step-by-step way to them.

Google Calendar I just recently became acquainted with Google Calendar through a family member. I’ve had an iPhone for the past year or so and always used the Calendar App built in with the software but I was always frustrated that, because I didn’t have a Mac (don’t get me started on that debate), I couldn’t have my calendar linked to a calendar on my computer. However, my brother introduced me to Google Calendar and helped me set it up so events planned on my Google Calendar are synced to my phone calendar as well as being accessible on my computer through my Google account. I cannot express how helpful this has been because now I don’t have to worry about missing something that has been planned on my computer calendar because it will sync directly to my phone. Definitely a life saver when it comes to planning and organizing and will, I’m sure, be very helpful in my future teaching career.

All-in-all I can say that Google has done some impressive things over the years and has really advanced it’s “one stop shop” for all that we need on the internet. I can’t wait to explore some more ideas and uses of Google as I continue on as an educator.

– Shayna

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When I sat down to think about what I could create a survey on for this Tech Task, I saw my “Gmail” tab and figured that it would be interesting to know what email providers people are using. So, I thought of the most common email providers I could and created this quick survey to get your opinions. Personally I’m a HUGE Gmail fan and would recommend it to all you “still Hotmail users,” but that’s personal opinion and beside the point.

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My Podcast


So for the podcast Tech Task, I used Podomatic to create my podcast. I decided, as I mentioned before, to focus on the topic “What learning means to me.” So if you just click here you can give it a listen.

Feel free to leave comments and let me know your thoughts!

– Shayna

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