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ECMP Final Reflection of Learning April 11, 2010

Posted by Laura in ECMP 355.
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Throughout ECMP I have not only learned an abundance about technology and it’s implications and uses in the classroom, but also about my own beliefs and philosophy of education. It is eye-opening for me to look back upon where I was in my digital journey of learning and education before beginning this class and where I am today. I know that I will never finish learning and growing in the field of technology. I will also continue using social networking and collaboration as a sufficient means of professional development.  Although ECMP may not have explicitly taught me step-by-step instructions of how to use technology to it’s fullest potential in an early childhood classroom,  I have discovered  and created my own meaningful and relevant philosophy of technology in the classroom throughout the inquiry based and project based teaching presented throughout ECMP.  A huge thanks goes out to my professor Dr. Couros for giving me technological confidence and the tools throughout our class that have brought me to where I am today. At the beginning of the class I was wanting all the answers, the step-by-step directions, and a tech-savy classroom to follow directly, but reflecting on where I am today I have realized that self-experimentation and discovery, along with collaboration and social networking can do wonders beyond any step-by -step direct teaching method. With that, I am so thankful to have decided to take ECMP as an elective in my final semester of university and hope to use my newly discovered tech abilities in the both my personal life and the classroom!

The following is a Rap I created to summarize my reflection of learning throughout ECMP. I used Aviary Myna to mix my beats and record my lyrics. I then played the rap song while creating a Jing screencast of a visual presentation to go along with my song. I hope you enjoy my final reflection. (Remember I’m an amateur!)

Click here to view my creative final reflection!

Re-thinking “Unpluging” Challenges April 9, 2010

Posted by Laura in Analysis of Educational Articles/Media, ECMP 355.
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During one of my third year education classes we were given a challenge to “unplug” from all technology for  24 hours. Check out my reflections:

View this document on Scribd

I was recently thinking back on this challenge and how much more I have come to use technology this year;  from daily online searches for innovative lesson plan ideas during internship to sometimes more than twice a day checks on google reader, my blog and four of my five class’ online spaces (Wiki, Ning and UR courses). I think that my reflections from last year would likely be extremely different this year if I was to take the challenge of unplugging again.  If I was to try it again I would like to pick a specific day that would work to not go online (I know that would not be giving the full effect), but otherwise I know that I would be feeling totally disconnected and out of tune with the world by not turning on any tech devices. Even when I was on my farm for Easter weekend where the internet is painfully slow, I was still drawn to go online.

So the question I ask myself, why is it that I feel somewhat negative towards myself if I do, in fact find it difficult to stay away from my computer? With the way that the digital world is advancing I think that maybe we should be challenging individuals who are never “plugged” in to try plugging in for a day and see the interesting effects it might bring them.

Although I obviously have strong beliefs that plugging in is beneficial in many ways, I am not advocating for zero face to face interaction in life. I simple have been able to open my eyes to the fascinating tools and advantages of many technological programs, services, resources and devices. If the advantages of  tech; for instance online collaboration with experts in your area of interest, far exceed what you could have ever accomplished without it, I would hope that individuals can become aware of this and hop on board!

All in all, when it comes down to it, I see technology as exciting, dynamic and valuable, yet I still do believe that balance it key.

A concluding question – Are “unplugging” challenges necessary? Will there every actually be a time that society will have to become unplugged?

Additions to Teaching Philosophy April 6, 2010

Posted by Laura in Analysis of Educational Articles/Media, ECMP 355.
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I recently added a more in-depth look at an aspect of my teaching philosophy surrounding teachers, learners and families as curriculum makers and the importance of creating meaningful learning experiences within safe spaces.  This inquiry can be found on my Teaching Philosophy page.

ECMP 355 Final Project April 6, 2010

Posted by Laura in Discovered Online Resources/Tools, ECMP 355.
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Our final project has finally come to completion. The experiences Jill and I had throughout the project from beginning to end were meaningful as learners and teachers.  Although frustrations did arise, overall in reflection we found this assignment to be a excellent learning experience and are excited to share it with you!

How Did We Choose This Project: The Small White Couch Children’s TV Episode? We decided that we wanted our project to be fun, meaningful and useful in the future. We tossed around various ideas but came to the conclusion that an upbeat child’s  TV show would be beneficial for us and others as we are in the Early Childhood Education Program. We are hoping to use this video in the future in our own classrooms while learning about snow or winter (since that is our episode’s theme).  The reasoning for choosing our snow theme was based on the season in which were living and experiencing at the time of planning. Living in Canada’s prairies, snow is something that many children will encounter and likely be excited to learn about. It would also be fun to share this episode of snow filled fun with those who have never experienced the great white stuff before! In addition: our inspiration for the general set-up and structure of The Small White Couch came from a TV show we were both familiar with in our own childhood- The Big Comfy Couch.

Why We Chose iMovie to Present Our Project: We decided that the tool that would best meet our needs for this video was iMovie. Although one aspect of our decision was likely related to the fact that we had already experimented with this program, our main reason was that it gave us many options  such as; transitions, adding music from other programs/locations, video editing and effects. Lastly, our choice was based on the user friendliness of iMovie and we knew our final product would be represented in it’s fullest potential!

Using iMovie in the Classroom:                                                                                                                                                                   While working with iMovie we discovered the impact that iMovie can have in a classroom as future educators.  Although our experience did not go without frustrations and anger, we do see this program being used in upper elementary and higher classrooms. Students will likely enjoy the various options within iMovie and the excitement of creating their own movies. iMovie has the capability of being fairly basic and easy to navigate through, however enrichment challenges could also arise if students choose to go beyond the program basics towards online integration.

Our Process: Throughout this process we experienced anticipation, excitement, frustrations, enjoyment and pride in our final product.  We began by brainstorming and gathering resources for the outline of our filming. We wrote out a general overview of each segment and thought we didn’t need a script to follow word by word. (Later this might have been necessary- see Bloopers ha ha!) After our outline was complete we gathered resources that we would need such as; a flip camera, a snow song, costumes/lighting/decorations, felt story (thanks to Channing), supplies for the craft, a location, and a cameraman (thanks to Kaven). One full afternoon of shooting the video was next. This long afternoon consisted of many laughs, retakes, learning from mistakes, and overall fun, fun, fun! After reviewing our many short segments on the flip we knew we had a great starting point to compile our iMovie project.

Frustrations: The beginning of this process is where many frustrations arose. Some frustrations that we encountered while creating our iMovie are as follows:

  • Unfamiliarity with the Mac computer ( navigating around there sure took a lot out of us)
  • Transitions
  • Snowflakes (we thought of a great idea to insert snowflakes to a scene from our show- this was not as easy as we imagined. Thanks to Alec for trying to help us in EVERY way possible to create this effect, but we had to resort to white asterisks. Works for us!)
  • Two eager and excited iMovie makers + one LOOONNNNGGGGG five hour editing session = Two exhausted frustrated iMovie makers. (Needing another session: definitely couldn’t accomplish this task in one day.

After A Much Needed Break: After taking some time away from our project we came back rejuvenated and excited to realize what we previously created was by no means a waste of team but was actually pretty good! Our positive attitude was reflected in our work that afternoon as we added some finishing touches to our final project. After checking and re checking we were very pleased with our end result. We then exported our movie (which took FOREVER) to a service called Blip TV We hope that experience and joy and excitement while watching our video and maybe one day you can even share it with your own students like we plan to do. We learned, we loved, we grew frustrated… we created our OWN MOVIE!

Watch the Small White Couch Episode HERE!



Experimenting with Voicethread March 29, 2010

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.
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After learning about VoiceThread in ECMP class a few weeks ago I decided that it is about time to try out this neat program. I have also been wanting to try out a couple of other tools we learned about in class and thought that incorporating them into my first VoiceThread would be a great idea. So, check out My First VoiceThread here.

I used the program Wall Wisher to re-organize and create a more “green” day planner. I had fun creating the wall with sticky-notes for each day of the week. I think it would be neat if my family and peers could add to my to-do lists if they needed to remind me of something (or that could result in somewhat opposite effects too!). I also love the option easily easily deleting and re-organizing if needed.

I also used the program Jing for the first time. I had never had a clue about what a screen shot/cast was and definitely never imagined I would be so eager to try it out (and figure it out!). I took a screen shot of my wall wisher weekly planner to upload into my Voicethread. It was neat how the yellow jing sphere appeared on my screen. I look at it now and it reminds me that I can be a tech-savy teacher!

In addition to using these fun programs for the first time I also has some opposing feelings. I was initially quite nervous about posting my personal planner online and my voice along with it, but I decided to take the plunge and just do it. I also came across great frustration during the process of uploading my images into my voicethread. For some reason the images would not appear when I uploaded them from saved files on my computer. After numerous attempts, trials and errors I finally just uploaded the two pictures to my facebook account and then uploaded them from there. It did work but I am still somewhat boggled as to why it would not work from my own computer… I guess that is the way technology can be sometimes… but I found a soloution and I think my first voicethread ever is worth taking a peek at.

Feel free to leave some comments. Let me know how you keep your life organized?

(Un)learning with podcasts March 24, 2010

Posted by Laura in Analysis of Educational Articles/Media, Discovered Online Resources/Tools.
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Listening to, and learning from podcasts was something that I never imagined I would do, especially since prior to 2 months ago I had absolutely no idea what a podcast even was. While searching the web I came across a neat website filled with Educational Podcasts. Check out this interesting collection of podcasts called The Education Podcast Network. I was so excited that I found this organized site with fantastic ideas and information presented I even subscribed to a few podcasts on my RSS feed. It was neat to listen to a variety of podcasts from children to educators and experience (un)learning in new ways. I was also excited with the musical intros, closings, etc. and how similar some of these podcasts sound to what I would hear in my car while listening to a radio interview. While browsing through the informative and interesting podcasts I found a few that were exceptionally intriguing to me;

The first podcast I especially enjoyed was SMARTBoard Lesson Project; Teachers Connected I tuned into episode 11 and it offered great tech ideas while remaining entertaining.

I also enjoyed HartBeat Radio which is a radio show that Hart Magnet Elementary School has created. The episodes have fun segments with music and a variety of students sharing their learning, jokes and interviews. This would be a fun way to connect with families in the school community and an addition to a class or school blog. I would love to share some of these podcasts with a future class while learning about similar topics.

Storynory: Stories for Kids is a useful collection of free worldwide audio stories for kids published every week. Using these podcasts in the classroom would be a nice addition to traditional storytime. It would even be a unique experience in comparison to online books where you see the illustrations. Students could use their imagination to illustrate these stories while listening to them on the podcast.

Although I just listed three of my favorites, The Education Podcast Network offers a wide variety of worthwhile podcasts that can benefit teachers and learners.

Concluding thought/wonder: How does a new classroom teacher get their podcast onto this website? Who decides which podcasts are added to this collection?

First TED Talk Ever Attended! March 22, 2010

Posted by Laura in Analysis of Educational Articles/Media, Discovered Online Resources/Tools.
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I decided that it might be interesting to chose a TED talk to check out and see if the website with the tag-line; Ideas Worth Spreading was really worth spreading. It definitely was.

I could not decided which TED talk to choose and when I saw the name Temple Grandin it instantly rang a bell. My EPSY professor had mentioned her name last week after we engaged in group presentations about Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. I was interested to learn more and ASD and to experience my first TED talk.

To check out this TED talk yourself, click here; Temple Gradin: The world needs all kinds of minds. There were many interesting points discussed in Grandin’s talk that I would like to share with you. (I have added some of my own thoughts and questions in brackets throughout – feel free to share yours!)

– There are many different ways of thinking, people do not always think in language.

– People can think in pictures. Similar to movies in your head. (I do not often think about how others think – I tend to focus on how do they learn, but really – learning is THINKING)

– The normal brain ignores specific details – Autistic brains can be considered specialist minds and very specific. (What would our world be like without these specialist minds with attention to specific detail? )

– Grandin explains that hands-on classes is where she accelerated and we need to keep hands-on learning in the schools. She explains an example of the hands-on, real world  learning when she got right down in a cattle chute to see what the animals were seeing. (Makes great sense to me! Reminds me of young children’s learning processes. Why do we seem to steer away from this as we get older?)

We need to develop young autistic children’s interests to continue real change in the real world and enhance their social experience. Autism is usually more on the cognitive thinking side of the brain, thus social interaction cannot go without consideration. If specialists such as scientists can become teachers of school-age students they may become mentors to autistic children and light the spark! (What are your thoughts on specialists becoming teachers in their area of specialty without teacher education?)

* My final comment does not relate specifically to the content presented in the TED talk, but to the slide show presentation Grandin shared. I previously blogged about Slidedeckophelia and how to put together slide shows that are not bombarded with extraneous information. The slide show Grandin shares is  definitely well put-together and engaging.  The slides enhance her discussion and provide a well-rounded experience for the viewer. I will try to use this as an example for my future presentations.

Memory Lane- Hand-written Essays March 18, 2010

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.
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I recently had an interesting moment in a trip down memory lane. While in a group meeting for a class project we were discussing a final section of the major essay we had to submit as a group.  I was the member assigned to compile our final essay and was frantically hand-writing as we discussed. I had previously compiled each members section on my PC at home and decided I would just hand-write the last section as we shared ideas. As we finished up our meeting and I looked over what I had written down a memory of my first year of university flashed before my eyes, How did I ever hand-write all my essays before typing them out? What a timely process! I have not written out a paper in hand-writing for three years and was nervous about not saving the somewhat chicken-scratch looking papers somewhere. I thought, What if I spilled something on them or lost them- they are not saved to my computer!

In my first year of university I never would have imagined that I would one day think and type at the same time. I vividly remember a friend in his third year proofreading my first year essays and telling me that in order to survive the rest of your university career you are going to have to figure out how to type and create your essay at the same time. I told him that I would do just fine with my loose-leaf, white-out and  different coloured pens. I used to find the final typing process relaxing, yet somewhat time consuming.

Eventually I tried out his suggestion and realized that I was not only wasting my time, but also missing out on the benefits of technology.  I cannot imagine ever going back to always hand-writing essays first, then typing. I also cannot believe how tools have gone beyond Microsoft Word. I am thinking that my next step might be to try and merge from sticky-notes all over my desk to a more environmentally friendly online option such as Wall Wisher. I wonder if their are still individuals who continue to hand-write essays as I once did?

A “Poppin” Tech Task 7 March 17, 2010

Posted by Laura in ECMP 355.
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Our tech task in my ECMP class was to take a set of slides and create a new story with them.  My group members and I took an interesting spin on the intriguing black and white slides. I once again enjoyed having fun creating new voices and exploring with i Movie! I hope you enjoy this interesting look at a buttery “Pop Culture.”

ECMP Final Project Plans and Thoughts March 16, 2010

Posted by Laura in ECMP 355.
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Our ECMP 355 final project is soon approaching and I would like to share my final project plan with you all!

Jill and I are working on our project together and will begin the process this weekend.  We decided that we would like our project to be useful in the future, fun and provoke learning within ourselves during the process. I am hoping that I will learn more about technology and a variety of online-resources and tools throughout this project-based learning approach.

So, what exactly is our project all about? We are planning on creating a children’s t.v. episode called “The Small White Couch.” This episode is going to be creative and engaging for youngsters that we hope to hopefully show it to in the future.  We will be developing an intro song (possibly with podcast or another tool) followed by the several segments (movement activity, craft-time, story-time and science activity). We will be filming the episode using a flip camera and hope to use i-movie for our editing.

I am feeling anxious, excited and nervous about this project.  I am somewhat unsure about the tools we are wanting to use and hope that with a little hands-on exploring and discovering this project will be a success. I think that it will be a meaningful learning experience and will keep you posted on how the process prevails.

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