Summary of Learning

Here it is!

My final wrap-up for our ECMP 355 class.

My Summary of Learning is a compilation of musings and poetry surrounding the events and topics that we’ve covered over the past two months.

I’m going to let my video do the explaining as I spent a lot of time thinking up creative words to rhyme with “ECMP355”.

You can find the video here.

Here’s my series of poetry:


Poetry for the Technologically Perplexed

PLN

We spent the whole week talking about PLN’s,

With their silly acronyms and hashtags.

With reluctance I stated it stood for,
“Please Leave Now”

As in

“I never want to see you again.”

or

“Could we not do this?”

or

“Why am I in this class?”

see:

“Why can’t I understand.”

Every clack of the keyboard made my head spin,

Every new Twitter hashtag made me want to throw my computer across the room.

I hated technology with the fury of a thousand burning suns.

I hated it because I didn’t understand.

I think I might get it now.

Just a bit.

Possibly a Little Now.

PLN.

#SaskEdChat

I decided to write a simple haiku to explain the terror that was my first #SaskEdChat experience. Get it, because a Haiku is so easy to follow where that chat was not:

Sheer panic sets in

As Tweets pour out like Moses

Parting the red sea.

Note: I actually learned a lot in that chat and met some wonderful teachers from across the province.

Please Don’t Post That

I understand that you’re in grade-nine and know everything about anything,

But please don’t post that.

You’re obviously very well read as you took that article from the Onion as valid,

But please don’t post that.

Your opinion regarding tense racial conflict is interesting,

But please don’t post that.

Your Snapchat of you singing in the car while driving down the highway is safe,

But please don’t post that.

That picture of you drinking a beer, wearing a culturally appropriated costume,

Please don’t post that.

I guess you could post all of that,

But could you think first, because it’s kind of wack?

Twitter

You and I have always had a love-hate relationship,

Kind of like a moth to a flame.

An ice-cream cone and a hot day.

My credit card and a Kate Spade sale.

We banter back and forth, but deep down, you drive me insane.

I love the connections, but hate sifting through hashtags.

I like notifications, but not responding.

I enjoy the “ping” of a new Tweet, but not when I’m busy with other work.

You’ve introduced me to new people, and alienated me during social gatherings.

“What are you doing? Get off your phone.”

“I can’t, I have to update my Twitter for a university class.”

#eyeroll

You let me creep of celebrities I wouldn’t admit to liking, then suggest I start following the likes of Tom Cruise.

#stahp

You’re both irritating and wonderful, in your own special way.

#loveyoulongtime

That Time We Did A Presentation
I roll up into the Education Lounge

Starbucks in one hand, laptop in another, and a million papers awkwardly jammed between my neck and chest.

I walk over to the table and drop my things,

“It’s presentation time, bitches.”

Cracking open my brand-new laptop, I realize I should have set everything up prior to ranting to the class on Blackboard.

Crap.

That’s what this whole class is about!

Technology.

Figuring it out.

Using it successfully.

Knowing how to find a decent internet connection.

Seriously, any internet connection.

Anything?

Hello?

Wifi?

Help!

Blackboard

On Tuesday and Thursday we log onto class,

And on those same days, you cease at all tasks.

You stutter and shutter and beep with a glitch,

I might be mistaken, but you’re a technological witch.

Sometimes you kick us out, without a single warning,

We can’t access the lecture, until the next morning.

You won’t even let our professor be a host,

Not to mention the constant presence of that stupid online ghost.

The side chat is always quite entertaining,

But it’s pretty distracting from the knowledge I should be gaining.

All in all I suppose you did what you could,

To help us all learn in the ECMP neighborhood.


Thank you for tuning in with me every week for the blog updates, Major Learning Project, Blackboard sessions and Twitter rants.

It’s been a slice, ECMP!

Major Learning Project – Final Update (#6)

My very last update for my Major Learning Project is a piece from my absolute favorite opera Carmen by George Bizet. It’s one of the few Mezzo-Soprano rolls where you’re not having to play a witch, an evil stepmother or a villain. It’s a wonderful role, and the music is equally as exciting.

The piece I chose to sing is a recitative (recit) titled “C’est toi”. In the opera, it’s sung as a duet with Don Jose. The music I have is just Carmen’s part as it was for a solo examination. A recit is often used to push forward the plot or provide text between two characters. Contrary to an aria, which reflects on the action, recits are used to heighten the tension. The melody is often derivative of natural speech, which is evident in this piece. It’s interesting speaking the text and then singing this, as it’s composed to follow the same dynamics of speech.

Working on this piece was nice because it’s in French. I’m used to speaking in French, and translating that to singing is much easier than learning other languages. This is a character piece, so being able to add your own flare and character helped me to understand the text.

Here are the translations:

Carmen

It’s you!
They came just now to warn me
That you were not far off, that you were sure to stay;
And they told me my life itself might be in danger;
But I am brave! And I shall not run away!

Carmen

C’est toi!
L’on m’avait avertie
que tu n’étais pas loin, que tu devais venir;
l’on m’avait mÍme dit de craindre pour ma vie;
mais je suis brave! je n’ai pas voulu fuir!

You can find my update and recording here.

Final Thoughts:

Though I loved having time to work on voice, I did not carve out enough time in my schedule to keep a consistent schedule for updates. I was hoping to take more time to work on technique and give resource ideas for books and recordings to use while practicing. I was glad that I took the opportunity to sing some pieces other than opera, such as the fourth update singing Sam Smith. It was great being able to try a different genre and also incorporate some piano into the recording. Throughout the process, I was able to rekindle my love for singing, and also work on technical details that have fallen to the wayside. Though the time allocation was difficult to manage, I’m happy with the results of my practice and have noticed an improvement in my sound and tone quality from the beginning of this process.

Major Learning Project – Update #5

This week, I finally updated on two pieces I’ve been working on over the course of a few weeks. My fifth update is on a piece called “Cacione del grumete” by Joaquin Rodrigo. Composed in 1938, it’s a simple piece that uses repeated text to create an echo effect. Each line of lyrics is repeated twice, and emulates the call of a lover out to sea. It uses short phrases with multiple ornamentations. It creates a sense of the lull of the ocean, which suits the text.

Working on this piece was a great stress reliever. Because of the style of music, it was nice being able to sit down and hash out a more open style of melody. I was able to experiment with the length and tempo of the notes and phrases, and add my own style into the music.

Because I don’t usually sing in Spanish, it was nice being able to work on a different language. It’s similar to French in many ways, which does make translating the text much easier. As for pronunciation, I found a lot of the “r” sounds to be difficult. I speak French fluently, so I’m used to rolling my “r’s” with my throat instead of trilling with my tongue, like in Spanish. It was difficult transitioning between the two as the sounds are quite different.

Here are the lyrics and the translation:

Spanish

En la mar hay una torre,

En la mar hay una torre,

Y en la torre una ventana,

Y en la ventana una niñna

Que a los marineros llama,

Que a los marineros llama.

Por allí viene mi barco,

Por allí viene mi barco,

Que lo conozco en la vela,

Y en el palo mayor lleva

Los rizos de mi morena,

Los rizos de mi morena.

English

In the sea there is a tower,

In the sea there is a tower,

And in the window, a little girl,

And in the window, a little girl,

Who the sailors calls,

Who the sailors calls.

Along comes my ship,

Along comes my ship,

For I know it by its sail,

And on its mainsail, it waves,

The curls of my tan skinned love,

The curls of my tan skinned love.

You can find my video update on the process and the piece here.

Reflecting on Discussion – Social Justice

Our discussion surrounding social justice left me feeling frustrated. We covered race, gender, financial, political and even sports related issues – but not once did we mention the marginalization of those with exceptionalities. It seems like these social issues are never a massive concern because they’ve always been there. They’re are a constant struggle for those who deal with a debilitating world, but for us who fit into those constraints, it’s rarely a matter of concern.

I’m currently the director of a program for children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Over this past week, we’ve been dealing with scheduling problems with certain activities. One in particular, recently had an incident with a young man from a transitional program for youth attack one of their staff.

Terrifying, yes.

Concerning, yes.

A reason to not allow my program kids to go? Unfortunately yes.

It had been weeks of phone tag, inflated prices, and passive answers of when they’d get back or what time we could come in. After enough prying, the truth finally came out. Because the kids at my program have high needs and the incident that occurred at their facility, they were looking for a way to politely tell us “no”.

No, your program can’t be here because those kids are different.

No, you can’t be here because they’re like that person that attacked our staff.

No, you’re not welcome.

No, you’re not like “us”.

After ranting and raving to my colleagues, I decided to take a breather and reflect on their opinions. I understand their fears and concerns – incidents like that can be traumatic for anyone involved. I’m sure they’re trying to keep their staff safe and other participants.

My issue – that the wonderful, charismatic and gentle kids I’ve taken the time to get to know, now become generalized. They are seen as a “them” – unpredictable and unsafe. Because of the marginalized ideas of another, they now miss out on opportunities that any other kids their age have a right to enjoy.

Strangely enough, I’m grateful for incidents such as these. They keep the fire lit and the push for understanding at the helm of what I do. They remind me to keep finding opportunities for community involvement for these kids, to help them navigate a world that marginalizes them based on a diagnosis.

Social justice is not a weeks worth of Twitter tags and a “like” on Facebook. It is a day-to-day process, learning where the deficits are and doing your best to broaden other’s understanding and tolerance. It is watching these exceptional kids learn new skills and grow in their self-awareness. It is using the inbetweens of each day to reflect and make positive changes to your own attitude. It’s learning more than you teach, and making sure your “justice” is helping those at the core of your cause.

What do you want?

What do they need?

Social Awareness – Lessons from YouTube

I came across the YouTube channel SoulPancake a number of years ago through a news article on my Twitter feed. It pulled up a video in a series called “My Last Days”, and chronicled the story of a young man named Zach Sobiech who was battling terminal cancer. I watched his story, then the rest in the series, then immediately subscribed to their YouTube channel.

Soul Pancake has been one of the most useful and heartfelt teaching tools I have at my disposal. They create series of videos that reach both adults and children and address issues of what it means to be human.

“We create stuff that matters. That opens your heart. That makes you think. Our mission is to help you and your audience figure out what it means to be human and feel damn good doing it. Our brain batter of art, culture, science, philosophy, spirituality, and humor is designed to get people talking, sharing, and engaging with this crazy, exciting, creative journey that is life.” – SoulPancake Creative Agency

I want to share my absolute favorite video series that I use on a regular basis with students. It’s called “Have A Little Faith” and is hosted by Zach Anner. This series focuses on different faiths and religions from around the world, and those involved in the community. Zach is welcomed into their homes and places of worship for the day to get to know their families, their religious community and how their faith impacts their daily life.

The first one I ever watched was on Judaism. I saw it pop up on my YouTube homepage, and was immediately intrigued. At this point, I had just started seeing someone who was of the Jewish faith. (Surprise, surprise, he’s now my wonderful “partner-in-crime” of two years.) I remember flagging the video and watching it with him, eager to see what his take was on their take of his faith. The conversation taking place in the video prompted our own dialogue about our different familial and cultural backgrounds. It was a starting point for our own conversations regarding each other’s beliefs and upbringing. Though we only watched it together once, that opportunity to open up brought us closer together and myself a better understanding of what his culture meant to him. We now celebrate moments from both of our cultures – he’s taught me about the Torah, his family’s connection to his faith, how to understand Hebrew and the importance of a good jelly doughnut on Hanukkah.

That is arguably, the power of a good YouTube video. It brings people together, demands to be shared, and opens up lines of communication. The Have A Little Faith series is a great way to start to develop ideas surrounding tolerance through understanding. Though each story is the perspective of one individual in a faith, it is a great tool to use to introduce different ideas and perspectives into the classroom. Zach Anner, the host, is a role model when asking questions and learning about different faiths and culture. He is always respectful, honest and interested in what each individual has to share. It’s a great way to model to students how to learn about people from all walks of life.

With the massive push towards technological classrooms and the importance of digital citizenship, I think it’s crucial that we both learn and teach social awareness. It’s YouTuber’s like the people at SoulPancake that allow ideas and positive messages to be shared.

Three cheers for them.

You can find the link to the Have A Little Faith video on Judaism here.

Also, make sure to check out their website – SoulPancake: A Creative Agency

Educating for Acceptance – Concerns of an Intern

This post came to light after the announcement of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to make same-sex marriage a right nationwide. Along with droves of other individuals across social media, I celebrated as an ally for my family, friends and colleagues down south who would not be able to celebrate their love freely. Now, love can continue to win, everyday.

I recently received my internship placement at a Catholic elementary school here in the city. Though I was supposed to predominantly have Arts Ed, I’m now taking over grades 5-8 Health and Sex-Education. Unfortunately, instead of being thrilled, I’m terrified. If I’m going to delve into the sensitive topics brought up in these curriculums, then I want to do so with acceptance and respect.

Despite being raised in the Catholic Church, I severed ties towards the end of my secondary schooling in pursuit of a more accepting community. Though I never agreed with many of the teachings, I continued to go to mass up until then because of my family’s practices. After joining the GSA at my high school, I realized I couldn’t continue participating in a community that was so ready to alienate others. I stopped going to church, but I continued to pray. The institution didn’t work, but my faith did.

So, here in lies my problem.

I can’t teach a curriculum that is based on a singular view of what it means to be a person or a family. I went to a Catholic elementary school, I remember the health textbook informing me from a young age that a family was “a mom and a dad”, “married”. Sometimes, other words would appear on the pages – “abstinence”, “boy or girl”. No notion of alternate family units, no notion of contraception, no notion of a sexuality spectrum, no acknowledgement that gender is more than two options.

When I address these topics in a classroom, I want my students to know that there is no shame in who they, where they fall on the spectrum, or who they think they could love. I want them to have accurate and informative information on contraception and the implications of being in a physical relationship. I want to be able to teach them critical thinking skills so they can make informed and healthy decisions about their bodies and lives. I want to build their understanding and prompt questions about intolerant ideas. I need them to know that there is no shame in the love they feel for one another.

That’s why I’m scared. I’m a guest in a school system whose beliefs don’t align with mine. I’m terrified that I’ll say the wrong thing and my budding career will be put in jeopardy. I want to be respectful, but more importantly, I want my students to feel accepted.

Loved.

I’ll keep repeating it until we all feel it. Maybe then, it’ll give me the courage to be the kind of teacher ALL of my students deserve.

What’s In A Name – Coding with Codecademy

I once dated a Computer Science major – it was the closest I’ve ever gotten to coding until today. I can’t say that I understand it, or that I’m a fan, but Codecademy gave me a practical tutorial as to how to approach this confusing realm of computer knowledge.

I decided to use Codecademy as they gave step-by-step instructions as to how to input the code. Everything was laid out clearly and they had individual examples. This was a huge plus for me, as I learn much better from seeing the placement of things than reading where they’re supposed to be. I decided to do the most basic level of coding, and chose their introductory 30 minute lesson on how to animate your name. Surprisingly enough, I kind of enjoyed it.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the value in teaching coding to students. I’m constantly advocating for including new opportunities for different types of learners. Just because I’m not math orientated or computer savvy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t include it as a way of teaching the curriculum. The neat thing about Codecademy as it is so user-friendly and straight forward. Students who understand the concepts are able to advance at a quicker pace while students who may learn like me, have supports down the side to guide them through the activities. There’s a creative element, being able to choose how you want your code to look. On top of that, it encourages problem solving skills, tech knowledge, and gives those logical learners a chance to exercise their minds in their learning style.

Though my learning style doesn’t always suit this realm, I was glad I took the opportunity to use Codecademy as a teacher. I know I won’t be cruising the examples for fun, but I will do it to expand my own knowledge base and understanding. As a busy teacher, it can be tedious to trying to constantly learn new skills to implement in your classroom. Because this tool is so clear and interactive, it makes teaching these skills much easier. I can feel confident that I’ll be able to help students troubleshoot their own problems while coding, and not feel stuck or like I don’t know where to start. This is empowering as a teacher knowing that experts ae creating programs to help both you and your students learn. I will never know everything, but if I can stay a few steps ahead of my students while learning a new skill, then that tool is one I’ll keep in my classroom.

As for the activity, you can find my final animation by clicking hereScreenshot of my code.

I followed a series of 17 steps to create an animation of my name. I learned about specific types of brackets and wording that are used to create the code. It’s amazing to think that a space or letter out-of-place can change the entire look or function of your animation. Though I don’t understand all of the in’s, out’s and specifics of coding, Codecademy gave me the opportunity to create something visually appealing using a new tool, and gave enough information that I didn’t become frustrated. This is a tool I know for a fact, I will be using in my classroom. Who knows, maybe it will inspire one of my students and they can teach me a thing or two.

I sure hope so.