Live teacher conference

Although you're far...

Tonight I participated in my first live educational conference online through EdTechTalk. The conference is called “Teachers Teaching Teachers” and takes place every Wednesday night. I did not join the group via video, but rather just watched/listened to the other participants and participated through a live chat feature. I didn’t feel comfortable joining as a video participant because I wanted to get my bearings first. However, I think I would have felt more connected and I would have gotten more out of the experience had I just bit the bullet and joined in.

It took me a while to catch up to what was being discussed. Participants were throwing around the term “Youth Voices” and I thought at first that it was just a cool catch phrase for high school kids who were blogging. It wasn’t until i joined the live chat that I got a better idea of what Youth Voices is. Youth Voices, it turns out, is a huge site where the main purpose is to offer a space for youth to participate in discussion. It is a place where youth can post their thoughts and comment on other youth’s thoughts. It is used by many middle years and high school teachers to give their students a forum for discovering their identity in the online community. One educator I connected with was Chris Sloan, who gave me insight through the live chat into the basics of Youth Voices and how he and his students are using the site.

One of the discussions among the video participants revolved around how teachers should/are assessing their student’s contributions on Youth Voices. One educator shared how she is setting guidelines for how much/what her students need to contribute to Youth Voices within a specific time frame. For example, she will stipulate that her students need to write one post and make one comment within a week, and if they do both they get the marks for it. This particular educator works at a school in the Bronx and has found that participating in Youth Voices has empowered her students to have their voices heard. She noted how much time and effort can be put into a short comment, because the students are very aware of their online presence and ensuring they present themselves appropriately.

Although I was ‘there’ I had a difficult time being fully present in the conversation going on. I think that a lot of this had to do with being a listener, but not a participant. The fact that I was also trying to eat dinner at the same time probably served as a distraction as well.  Also, I found the constant switching from video to video to be distracting at times. I don’t know if it is set up that the moderator of the group chooses who to focus on, or if it is set up as an auto detect where the video switches to whoever is making noise. Whatever the case, it was odd for the focus to switch around to other screens than the person who was talking. I also found it difficult to follow the conversation because there wasn’t really an introduction into what the topic was. I guess the participants must have all been very familiar with Youth Voices…again, I’m sure that if I had joined as a video participant and been open about my naivety to the topic, the conversation would have been shaped much differently. But regardless, because I was lost on the main gist of what was being discussed, I couldn’t really follow many of the details. Despite my not being able to get much out of the conversation, it was an interesting experience to view it. I think the biggest thing I got out of the experience was that I was also able to network with educators from far and wide- always a positive when you are working on developing your professional learning network.

With regards to the idea of having live conferences/conversations via EdTechTalk, and other sources such as Classroom 2.0 , I think it is a really easy and personal way to connect with fellow educators. I would love to come back to join in a conversation in the future, especially if I am looking for information specifically related to the topic being discussed. I am curious to know whether there are any live educator chats/conferences specifically for Early Childhood Educators. If you know of one, pass it on!

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Teachable Moments Taught

This video is unsettling for me to some extent. I realize its an advertisement, and so it is utilizing some strategies for advertising to make you want to buy into it. But what I find unsettling is that there are many teachers (like the ones in the video) who only make time for the curriculum and forget to incorporate ‘teachable moments’ or even allow time for their students to share and discuss issues and feelings. I find it sad when the only learning occurring at school is specific curriculum objectives, and perhaps even sadder yet when a program has to substitute in the guidance of morals and opportunities for expression that isn’t naturally happening within the classroom setting.

What do you think? Would a program like this be a necessity in your classroom? Or do you feel that you are already incorporating such things in your everyday teaching?


Don’t sit too close to the t.v…..

I was shown this video in my ECE class, and I found it very intriguing. I’ve often wondered the affect T.V. (and screen time in general) has on a developing child’s brain. One point made in the video is that T.V. now is worse than it was ‘then’. The constant screen changes over stimulate the child’s brain, and make it difficult for them to focus on anything for very long- which has a negative affect on focus and learning in the early school years. Its hard to tell whether the speaker is just being nostalgic (citing Mr. Rogers as better T.V. because of its longer scenes), or if he really does have a point. Its also difficult to tell whether the message is that children should not watch T.V. at all because of the negative affect it can have on a developing brain, or if the message is that some T.V. programs are “OK” while others are not.

What does this mean for the future generations? Realistically, this information will not reach the mass public for some time, if at all. And so I imagine nothing will be done to curb the screen habits of children any time soon. If what is said within the video is true, most children will enter the school environment with brains hardwired for constant change and stimulation and will have a very difficult time adjusting to the focus on ‘focusing’ in school. I would say teachers are seeing a lot of this already. I guess its difficult to say whether the over abundance of children diagnosed with ADHD is due to an increase in fast paced T.V. programs, movies and video games in the past decade.. but based on what the speaker says here it could very well be the case.


Share your opinion and childhood play experiences!

Myself, and two of my classmates at the University of Regina are in the process of documenting play and opinions of play for a university project. We will be compiling the documentation into a research video to give an overview of our findings. The resulting video project will be used for the purposes of our course ECE435 “Curricular Implications of Play” , as well we may include the finished project in our professional portfolios (pending permission). I would like to open up the opportunity to participate in this process to anyone who is interested and willing to contribute. It would be incredible to include opinions from a variety of locations across the globe.

The process: Answer the questions about play (below) by recording a video or audio track of yourself. Make sure to include pertinent information such as your title(s) [teacher, parent etc],and your location (city, country.. more for our own information than to include in the video project). Additionally, either at the beginning or at the end of your video we require you to read the following statement out loud:

“I ____(your name)________  hereby grant permission to Amanda Baker, Heather Chevrier and Monique Dudragne to use photographs, video and/or audio recordings of me for sharing in the undergraduate class ECE 435 at the University of Regina. I also grant permission for the resulting project to be utilized in their professional portfolios.”

We cannot use your video unless your permission is granted. However, we will edit your permission ‘blurb’ out of our final project to ensure anonymity (your name will not be connected to the project in any way). After creating your video/audio track please post it using the comment field or email it to chevrieh@uregina.ca Thank you so much for participating!

Note: You must be over the age of majority to participate.

Questions to consider/discuss:

1) What is play?
2)What do you think of/how do you feel about rough and tumble play? (see definition provided below)
3) What were your childhood experiences with rough and tumble play?

Definition of Rough and Tumble play from Play Development and Early Education (Johnson, J., Christie, J. and Wardle, F. 2005):

“In rough and tumble play the bodies of playmates and the actions of playmates become a focal object of play, and children pretend to hurt each other rather than engaging in real aggression. That is, rough and tumble play is play fighting, not actual fighting. This form of play aggression may involve physical movements such as mock wrestling, running, chasing/fleeing, kicking, pouncing, piling on, pushing, open-hand hitting, and poking, as well as loud noises.”

If you have any questions feel free to ask!


Female Head Coverings- A Right or a Restriction?

I have been curious about the topic of female head coverings for quite some time. And the longer you consider a topic, the more complex it becomes. I will be the first to admit that I am addressing the issue with very little background knowledge- apart from an article I skimmed in Maclean’s a few months back, and random bits of information I’ve heard on the news and through the internet. This is a very complex issue.

My reason for writing about it now is because the topic recently came up- randomly and very briefly -in an English course that I am in. Female rights constantly come up in the writings of the renaissance, and we are often tying these issues to more current issues. Well it wasn’t directly in regards to female head coverings, but my professor made a very cut and dry statement with regards to one culture where this occurs, his statement went something like this: “Muslim society is slowly creeping in to Western society. And with it, the repressive attitude toward women. Watch out ladies. What you have fought for, could very soon be taken away from you.” 

My thoughts immediately went to the issue of female head coverings- although there are many other issues he went on to refer to. In my opinion female head coverings are a very overt statement made by the woman wearing the covering. However what exactly that statement is is dependent on both the woman wearing the head covering, and the person perceiving how it is being worn.

In my experience, when cultural traditions enter an issue the debate becomes very complicated. Often the people on either side of the debate cannot fully comprehend each other because (assuming, in this case, that one is a non-Muslim, and one belongs to the Muslim/Islam community [or any other community that partakes in this practice]) they have not been raised in the same society or with the same ideals. When our beliefs cut to the core of our being, and when those beliefs are entangled with the beliefs prevalent in our society, it is almost impossible to understand our world from a different lens than from that in which we stand.

That being said, the issue I want to consider is that of female rights. When a woman in Western society puts a head scarf, hijab or burqa on, is she expressing her rights? Or is she demonstrating her deprivation of rights, is she submitting to the suppressive rule of men?

I have heard arguments on both sides. I have heard that for some women they feel it is their right to choose to wear a head covering, and they feel much more comfortable doing so. Because they are not forced to wear the head covering in Canada (and other western countries) when they choose to, that choice and the feeling of empowerment in making that choice, can portray a statement- having the freedom to choose and choosing to do what they feel is best. Their choice can be compared to how many people choose what they want to wear taking into consideration the statement they want to make through their fashion. However, the issue is when the person on the perceiving end of the situation does not properly interpret that statement. Of course this is where the other side of debate comes in, there are those who believe head coverings are depriving women of their rights and perhaps some Muslim/Islam women fall into this belief as well. Those who fall into this belief would interpret the ‘statement’ made by those women on the freedom end of the debate very differently from what how it was intended. With this second belief in mind, a woman who places the covering on her head is making a statement on behalf of the male population within her culture, a statement denoting male power, and female suppression.

It is from the latter system of beliefs that my professor falls into by him saying what he said. I am not entirely sure where I stand on the issue, because as I said I cannot grasp a full understanding of it having been brought up in a non-Muslim/Islamic society. I cannot deny, however, that what my professor said does sound alarming- if for no other reason that its sheer extremism.

I know that in some countries, it has become illegal for women to wear head coverings. Some governments feels that head coverings are a sign of women suppression and so by that logic, they should ban the coverings so that women can be free and equal. But I wonder, how is it any more freeing for a woman to be told she cannot wear something than for a woman to be told she must wear something? Is this not also taking away the woman’s right to choose?


My Culture is a Remix- To Whom Do I Owe My Thanks?

Tech Task #9

After watching Brett Gaylor‘s film RIP!:A Remix Manefesto, here are my reactions:

I think that we live in a world of remix, and this is not new. As the film mentions, the works of the greatest scholars were often building on, or working against the ideas of others who came before them. When I write an essay, I rely heavily on the knowledge of those who have come before me and those who have developed beautiful discourse in order to create my own. I give credit to those people, but I mash-up their words into my own ideas and therefore I create. I believe that we should give credit to where our ideas are evolving out of, because perhaps there is such a things as intellectual property. And I believe that this should apply to music, video and even medicine, the same way it applies to literature. Some people have genius- creative- thoughts and in all fairness they should be acknowledged for what they contribute. However, does that mean they should be paid every time someone gives them that acknowledgement? I don’t think so. Because this is just giving fuel to build an elitist society. Only those who can afford to buy the ideas of those before them are allowed to work off of those ideas. The rich will get richer, smarter and more powerful, while the poor will have limited resources and limited opportunities for advancement.

Is a “free” society a realistic goal in a society driven by monetary value? Some say money makes the world go round. Those on the left believe in sharing it, while those on the right want to jump in and grab as much as they can for themselves. And so its no wonder that some people have gone so far as to put a price on intellect, and feel they should be paid for their ideas. (But I wonder why writers haven’t got their foot in the door of this copyright cash-out?) These people feel that they can own their own ideas, but I ask how can you ‘own’ an idea? When there are approximately 7 billion people in the world, chances are that at least one other person is thinking the same thing as you right now. So the question becomes who will win the race in pursuing the rights to that idea, get it patented or copyrighted and ‘own’ it? If you don’t do it first, someone else will. And if its something that can make a profit- how can you say no? This is a “right” sided mentality, the copy-right. And because money holds such power in our society, no matter how much is advocated for a “free society” where resources and ideas are public domain, the debate will never be concluded. The “left” thinkers will want to share and share alike, while the “right” will want to profit wherever they can, always. In the film they put it very succinctly: “Copyright has been manipulated for profit”. But such is the way of the world, the allure of wealth is difficult to ignore.

I still don’t entirely understand the ‘line’ between something old and when something becomes something new, created from something old. I wonder how the mash-up artists would feel if their work was taken, a few notes changed and given a new title (giving the new creator claim for the work) then selling it for top dollar. Would the mash up artist agree the money should go to the ‘new’ mash-er? Should it go to the original mash artist, or should it go to the original creators of the music (although as the film proves, this is difficult to trace)? But I guess the argument of having everything free to share would answer this question- if everything was free, and no one was making money off of their art work, then it wouldn’t matter who ‘got the credit’ because it wouldn’t be monetary credit. But that makes me think of a new issue. If all music and videos were free to share and remix, how would artists make a living? As it is it is difficult to make a living off of art, whether it be literature, painting, dancing, music etc. If all art was free to consume, and free to reproduce, would people stop creating art because there would be no profit? Or would people create more art?… because more resources and opportunities for the average man would be available.

Until watching this video, I didn’t realize that the patents on bio-medical research are so strict that it limits future research. These strict patents on medical research may be what’s holding us back from discovering the cure to many of the world’s ailments. When brazil went against these rules and remade a patented HIV drug. Was is right? What is more morally correct? To follow the rules, or to stop people from dying?

So much of popular culture revolves around parodies. See the above images, watch “Scary Movie” or “Not-Another-Teen Movie”. Why then wasn’t Air pirates OK? And how sad is it that Walt Disney the man had a good handle on how to use reuse previously made content to create parodies, but when he passed on and Walt Disney the company took over, they drastically changed their approach to this for their own profit? Very.

Without the ability to remix, to reuse baselines in music, there wouldn’t be the ability to create new genres of music. There could only be one ‘hip hop’ artist, or one ‘country’ artist, because we all know a lot of the songs within a particular genre sound a lot alike. And in Everything is a Remix, Kirby Ferguson proves this.

Brazil seems to know where its at. They are a culture based on sharing! How wonderful would that be? In Canadian culture we try to instill in the younger generation that its “right”, its “good manners” to share with their peers. But is our society really one that promotes sharing? Music and video copyright proves that it does not. Copyright says, “I will share with you, but only if you pay me back”. That’s not sharing. Its difficult to promote sharing to the young, when the adult world is based on individual ownership, not shared ownership.

I have some unanswered questions. I have questions regarding the images this video connects with remixed music: people dancing, grinding, taking off their clothes. When I think of remixes, I think of clubs, of raves. I love the music, I love to dance to it too, but the rep this genre has picked up is not a ‘good’ one. I wonder if these images were connected to the remixes intentionally  to open up the question of ‘immoral’ behaviours vs ‘pure’ behaviours, ‘immoral’ music vs ‘pure’ music.

I’m also confused by the RIP!:A Remix Manefesto creators asking for a contribution to be made to them. Is their argument that art should be free to the public? Or is it that the people who create the work should get the credit (aka get paid) for their work? I thought they were on the left, on the ‘free’ side. By asking for a contribution to their work it complicates their argument. If I were to make a contribution to them, which side of the argument do I fall onto? Theirs because I am supporting them? But if I am paying for the ability to watch/use their work, isn’t that agreeing that they deserve money for the knowledge they have imparted one me? And so I would be on the ‘right’ side. I’m very confused by this. Where do they draw the line?

Ultimately I think I fall closer to the left, than the right. All of our culture is affected by previous culture and society, and the same goes for music and movies. But I also think that credit should be given in those realms, just as it is given in the world of literature. We should acknowledge to the best of our abilities who has affected our creativity- but we should be free to create.


Had a go at sliderocket

March is madness. And no, I’m not a basketball fan. What I’m talking about is all the assignments, essays and EVERYTHING due for the university student in March. It’s madness.

I have an assignment+presentation this week in my Ed Psych class. Rather than work with the old go-to, powerpoint, I decided to try something new and signed up for an account with sliderocket.com. I really like it! Its great how you can switch easily back and forth between the presentation and flickr when adding photos, and that you can easily embed video and even live twitter feeds. The presentation may not be as informative as it would be live because I haven’t added the audio I will be supplying when I present to my classmates. Feel free to view it or use it.

The presentation is on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I hope that it is informative and interactive for you. Please do not hesitate to give feedback : )

*Unfortunately I cannot embed the slideshow into WordPress.