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Well, I am so overwhelmed with happiness/joy right now that I figured I should let all my feelings out into a quick blog post. A friend of mine has been traveling in Thailand since May and was supposed to be coming home on Saturday. Turns out she got an earlier flight and is coming home TONIGHT! Today, for a few reasons, hasn’t been the best of days and when I got the text from her mom asking if I wanted to come to the airport, my heart was so happy it almost made up for the other things that had happened today. It’s funny how we can feel two emotions at once, isn’t it?

Regardless, I’m so very happy to say that I’m going to sleep now so I can wake up at 12:30 to be at the airport for 1:00 to greet this friend at the gate upon her arrival back to Regina. So, alas, I’m off to sleep for a few hours but am glad that I could share my joy with you all 🙂

– Shayna

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.

A Message

Well, a few days ago I saw a fellow “teacher friend” post this on Facebook. Naturally I watched the video and literally laughed out loud. I’m sure many of you have seen the video, but I wanted to share it for those who hadn’t because it’s definitely worth the laugh (in my opinion). Obviously the video is NOT meant to be taken seriously and I think it gives us teachers an opportunity to laugh at ourselves and the thoughts that I’m sure will cross some of our minds (maybe in a less “harsh” way). I love teaching and I love the kids I teach but I’m sure we will all have those frustrating days where we’ll want to say this. I plan on watching this video to make myself laugh on those days.

Enjoy!

– Shayna

Today while I was at work I was thinking of some training that I went through when I began my job with the City of Regina. We attended a Customer Service Training session in which they showed us the video called the “Fish Philosophy.” Now, if any of you have gone through similar training, I’m sure you have seen the video and gotten a little chuckle out of it because it’s quite crazy. The FISH! philosophy discusses the idea that by bringing energy and fun to the workplace, you can create an exciting and fun environment for employees and customers. In the full video you can see how the employees at the Seattle fish market have learned to bring play and fun into their workplace to help enjoy the day and make an impact in customers lives every day.

As I thought some more about this video and philosophy, I thought about how it could be applied into an elementary classroom. Being a pre-service teacher, I have seen many situations and schools where teachers, and students, are simply not having fun. I think that in our generation, the general idea is that work is work and play is play and that the two cannot be mixed together. However, throughout our university experience we have talked often about the importance of play in the classroom. And, while this is very relevant for students, I also feel that it is important for teachers to remember to have fun at their jobs and not take themselves too seriously. I think that it is very important for teachers to have fun with their students as well as the other members on staff. There is no scientific law that says when a teacher is having fun that they will not be teaching the students properly. In fact, I’m sure if someone studied it, teachers who had fun with the staff and students would be having a greater impact on students in the classroom and their learning. And so, as I did some more research I found that the ChartHouseLearning website for FISH! has an entire section devoted to using FISH! in schools (there is a whole bunch of videos, information and resources on this website).

I think that using the FISH! method in schools would be very beneficial to the learning environment and I am really looking forward to doing some more research on it to maybe put it to use in my internship classroom.

– Shayna

Colorize It!

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

#NoZeroPolicy

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

Processing…

On Monday I FINALLY had the chance to sit in on one of the live sessions for our ECMP355 class. This was a great night to sit in as the author of our textbook was here to talk with us (here is slightly incorrect as he was actually taking time from a vacation in Hawaii to be with us). We discussed many things during the time, but what stood out most to me was when we discussed how, as educators, we will adjust to the new way that schools are functioning and realize that soon we may have no need for “school” in the sense of organized classrooms with teachers. We discussed that much learning can be done outside of the classroom using the technology that is made available to us. We discussed that in today’s classroom we often teach students how to learn more than we actually teach them information in the classroom. At one point there was a very long and profound silence in the conversation and Dean asked us what that silence meant. In my case, as Dean called me out on it, my silence was strictly for processing… I feel that the idea and understanding of learning, unlearning and relearning is not something can be thought about and processed in one sitting. My understanding of this subject has been, and will continue to be, a process that I think about as I journey into my future career. As a future educator I find it difficult to look into my “future classroom” and see it as being similar to the classrooms that I was in as a student and this excites me. The idea that classrooms in the future will be drastically different from how we experienced classrooms is exciting to me because I feel that by changing classrooms we can also change the way our students learn and help them develop an understanding of themselves as learners, rather than simply shoveling knowledge into their heads every day.

small-business-blog.jpg from GoogleImages

We also discussed how, and why, blogging is useful and important in the classroom. Dean gave us many examples of teachers who have done exceptional things in their classrooms through blogs. An idea that I took away from this was that students need to see that teachers are also learners. This can be exemplified through blogging because, as I’m sure many of us are not comfortable with blogging quite yet, we can show our students that we are learners through the process of learning to use blogs and technology in the classroom. As we discussed in the session, being vulnerable is a huge aspect of the challenge of bringing blogging into the classroom. So far through this experience I have come to realize that my vulnerability is what helps other see me as a learner and helps others to see me as a “real person.” I feel that this will transfer into my classroom and to my future students and can hardly wait to start the learning process with them, whoever they are.  Something that I wholeheartedly agree  with is the fact that it is better to give students (and other teachers) the opportunity to explore blogging and have it “fail” or have the students not enjoy the process rather than not giving them the opportunity to try it for themselves.

– Shayna