Positive Vibes

For the past two weeks I have been leaving positive messages around campus and town to help anyone who sees them to have a good day. For the first week I wrote notes on pieces of paper and put them onto cars around our campuses parking lot. It’s a stressful time of year for university students, everyone is scrambling to finish midterms while also trying to begin studying for upcoming finals! I figured after a long day of school it would be very exciting to come back to your car and see something kind on your window. What I didn’t think of is that when you’re approaching your car and you see a piece of paper on it, a car owners mind immediately jumps to two things :

1: I got a parking ticket

2. Someone hit my car and left a note with their details

Now obviously I didn’t mean to scare people into thinking their day was ruined more, but I did it on some of my friends cars and their said it was too much of a rollercoaster of emotions for them to be super worried and then just read a little note! So I decided to try something new the following week.

Week two of positive messages I wrote kind words on rocks and placed them around campus and around town. This was a fun art project that i was able to include my friends into and was also very visually appealing. I thought this would be a great way to spread positivity throughout the community without leading people to think of the financial burden associated with car mishaps.

The rocks were cute, and when people saw them they definitely liked them… but they were a lot harder for most people to see. In general when someone is walking they’re not looking directly down on the ground, which is something I didn’t think of because I never think of how we walk I just simply walk. So this one worked pretty well, however, I knew I wanted to do better for my final week.

Week three of positivity was a hit. I went back to campus and decided to aim this one directly at students who are running out of money, stressed with exams, and struggling to get to class on time. In my room I have a jar of change, I don’t often spend change when it’s given to me so I end up putting it into a mason jar and never knew what to do with it! I decided that I would put little bit of change into individual plastic bags (I know plastic.. I am sorry for the environment impact) and then I hung these bags on parking meters around campus.

This is something that definitely excited students, made their days, and encouraged them to go through their day with the “pass it on” attitude.

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Coding

In class today we had a group of classmates present what they have learned about coding over the past few months. They showed us all the hard work that they had put in and explained that so much work and understanding goes into a basic code. Basically coding is even more difficult than you think it is going to be, which my preliminary assumption was already that it would be quite difficult! They also explained that it is easier for children to learn, as with any new skill, and there are apps that are being made to help teach students how to code such as Move theTurtle.

The group used the app “Scratch” to teach themselves how to code and then gave us some time as a class to try and figure out what to do. I must say that this is not an area of technology where I excel, but it was definitely cool to see what I can do! The website we went to was: http:// codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/scratch/

This website offers step by step instructions on how to code multiple different things. It contains many different projects for people of all coding levels. This would be an awesome tool to incorporate into the classroom to help teach students how to code. It not only will allow each individual to work at their own pace in an encouraging way, but also will advance students technological knowledge and will provide them skills which will help them throughout their future educations and career.

Microbit https://microbit.org is a different coding program which is in javascript instead of blocking. The group learning to code recently moved on to learning on this platform but I am far from being capable to do so. Basically Javascript shows you underneath the hood of the car and blocks are like being able to change your windshield wiper fluid and fill the gas tank. The group learned how to pay rock paper scissors against a computer.

Manual Mode

For our final blog post we decide it was time for us to learn how to use a camera in manual mode. Where as in our previous blog posts we demonstrated how a camera could be used as an educational tool, this week we have learnt the basics of how to take pictures without using the highly convenient “auto” mode. The first step the learn how to do this we had to understand what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO actually do in a digital camera.

Aperture

The aperture refers to the how wide the shutter is opening and will affect how much light is being exposed to the sensor, but also the focal length of the photos you take. When you are in a very sunny environment not as much light is needed to reach the cameras sensor to create a picture, so using the aperture you can set the shutter to open only slightly. When taking a photo in a dark environment more light is needed to for the camera to be able to create a photo, so in this case you can set the aperture to be larger so the shutter will open more to let more light onto the sensor. For photos where only a smaller depth of field is desired, a larger aperture is needed. For example a close up photo of a plant or a portrait of someone. A smaller aperture is needed for photos of a larger area, such as a landscape photo, so everything in the frame will be in focus.

Large Aperture (f/5.6)
Small Aperture (f/10.0)

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the speed of which the shutter is opening and closing. This can be used to take photos of thing moving very quickly making it appear if they are standing still, or using a long shutter speed will make water looks soft and blurred or cars long steaks moving across the entire photo. If your shutter speed is too slow your photo could be overexposed, or blurry if your subject moves. If it is too fast your photo may end up underexposed.

ISO

ISO is the measurement of how sensitive your camera sensor is to light. ISO 100 is a low sensitivity, and would be used in sunny conditions where the sensor does not need to be very sensitive to achieve the correct exposure. A lower ISO also shoots a very clear, non-grainy photo. A high ISO, such as ISO 3400, would be used in low light conditions, such as a dark museum, to increase the camera’s light sensitivity and multiply the smaller amount of available light.

High ISO 6400


Lower ISO 200


Triangle of Exposure

These 3 functions all have an effect on your photo and must always be in balance with one another. If you were to set your aperture to be more large to let in more light and also set your shutter speed to be very slow you may end up with a very overexposed photo like this.

The stats on this photo are F / 4.5, 1/4000, and ISO 6400. So in the case of this photo the aperture was letting in lots of light by opening the shutter very wide, and the shutter speed was very fast to match this and not let the shutter stay open too long, but the ISO was very high meaning the sensor was very sensitive to light. The ISO and the aperture were not matching in this photo so it turned out to be over exposed. To make this photo balanced we would have needed to lower either the aperture so less light came in the lens or lower the ISO the sensor was less sensitive to light. To create a normal photo the aperture, shutter speed and ISO must all be in balance to not have a photo that is over or underexposed.

f / 5.6, SS 1/4000, ISO 6400
f / 4.5, SS 1/1600, ISO 100


/ 5.6, SS 1/3200, ISO 6400


f / 5.6, SS 1/320, ISO 400

Audio and Video Editing

A few months ago we learned some useful tools for audio and video editing that are simple and get the job done. I’m not sure why I never wrote about it, however, I want to share this experience and these tools with you all!

To edit our movie clips they introduced iMovie to the class. For some this was a new experience, but I had already used this tool to edit some projects in past semesters. It is definitely an intimidating app when you first get into it because it takes some practice, so don’t jump in right away thinking you can easily do it, definitely a lot yourselves some time to research tutorials. Once you upload your videos that you are wanting to edit together or cut, you can easily follow the directions on the bars below and above! Remember that nothing is permanent and you can always undo your edits. The one part that confused me the most was trying to add music/audio files on top of your videos. iMovie has fixed sounds that you are able to use, and granted there are many sounds, but because of copyright reasons you can’t actually add music over your videos! Maybe you can and have just yet to figure it out, so if someone know how please message me and teach me how!

Garage band was the next app that we used and this is for audio editing. I used this software once in high school when our teacher assignment us a “Bio Rap” so we had to take the audio track, record ourselves singing, and then overlap the two. This is also a tricky tool when you first get into it so its important to give yourself a little bit of time to learn the terms, controls, and to figure out the overall software. Once you get a hang of it it is a very simple tool to use! I was able to figure out how to use it at the age of 17 with no help so it is definitely a tool which can be easily incorporated into the classroom!

You can also use the musical keyboard which is where you click the keys to generate sound and the sounds go directly onto garage band an allow you to overlap them! You get a very crisp sound which goes right onto your track when you use the piano, it also makes it so that you don’t have to own keyboard. It only had one octave at a time though, and because if this small range of keys you cannot do a duet.

Distributed Learning

Throughout all of my schooling I have only taken two distributed learning/online courses, both of which were in high school. I found it was very difficult for me to stay on task and stay up to date on all the assignments and information when there was no one leading me. I also found it very difficult to reach out and ask for help or clarification with assignments and topics when there was not specific teacher for me to ask. I am a kinaesthetic learning, meaning I learn best with a hands on approach and when I am able to do an activity in order to learn, distributed learner was not right for that learning style. For students who are more visual or auditory learners, meaning they can see or listen to the information and then understand, these courses would be very useful.

Distributed learning offers more opportunities for students to learn new materials and also offers ways to take more courses than needed when on a time crunch. If a student is ill then they will still be able to complete these courses at home without falling behind with their schoolwork. I feel like before signing up for a distributed learning course, it is important to know yourself as a learner as well as know whether or not you have to drive to stay on task and not put it off.

I believe in K-12 learning (but more specifically in K-9) face-to-face contact with a teacher, supervisor, and with peers is very important for cognitive development. While incorporating some distributed learning is okay, students should still have in class time. As students age and progress online learning tools become more easily available to them and technology is being incorporated into their face-to-face classes. How a teacher designs around modality will have a large impact on learners want to engage as well as the efficiency of work being done. While with age it is important to allow students to take more responsibility, it is important to also offer them an outlet (other than google) to plug their questions, comments, and concerns.

Video conferencing in classes is a very useful tool to have guest lecturers provide information to a class without having to travel to a destination. This is a great way for teachers to incorporate multi-media modality without losing their own time with the class.

Before deciding on the incorporation of distributed learning into a learning plan a teacher must know their learners. Not everyone learns the same, and to many students this could have a very negative impact on their education. In high school I was on the honour roll, I was a close to straight A student with many volunteer and work hours. Throughout this time I took two online courses. It took me two and a half years to complete one of them and I never completed the other.

Minecraft as an Educational Tool

Today we had an amazing middle school teacher named Heidi James and some of her students come into our class to teach us about how they have been using Minecraft in their classroom. I was very skeptical at first as I have never been a very big gamer, but after listening to the middle schoolers enthusiasm while speaking about everything they learned I eagerly jumped on board! They spent some time explaining different project that they had done using the game as an outlet for inquiry learning, and then even gave us the chance to learn how to play!

This class did some really cool activities in their Minecraft world, but my favourite one that they explained would have to be learning about ancient Egyptian civilizations. The class was split into groups and each group nominated a leader for their own civilization. The leaders were then given some supplies and resources that were different from other groups. At the beginning the students spent their time building housing and different infrastructures to create a community, but after that they had to learn about trade between different communities. Instead of reading this in a textbook the class was able to experience this first hand and learn through doing! Further into the semester the students then began facing obstacles that would attack players such as: starvation, animal attacks, natural disasters, etc. I was so inspired by this lesson and all the students were able to accomplish on their own.

When they began to teach us to play I didn’t realize how hard the game was. Perhaps it’s because I’m not very video game savvy, but I found that guiding my character around our practice was very disconcerting. With a bit of practice (and accidentally digging out of the world) I got the hang of it. I think students would have an easier time picking these skills up than I did, but even if they didn’t, this would be an amazing learning tool.

For those who are interested in finding out more about this topic, I have attached Heidi’s twitter handle below as she is the awesome instigator of this new learning tool

.https://twitter.com/h_james18

h_james18

Technology In and Out of The Classroom

In this day and age it is definitely important to bring technology into the classroom, however, it is also a necessity to ensure your students privacy. It is the teachers job to inform their students on how to be safe using different social media platforms and search engines as well as to be certain that none of the children’s personal information is shared online. Some of these rules are more simple than others and can be related back to concepts that everyone learns as a child such as: don’t talk to people you don’t know and definitely don’t give them any sensitive information (that being your last name, address, school, workplace, etc). The concept of “stranger danger” has been modified alongside technology and is very important, however, it is not applicable to all outputs: in many video games you are speaking with teammates or opponents in open dialogues, but it is still important to not give out details of ones life.

Many adults are quick to judge todays youth on social media, saying that this generation is focused on photos, fans, and followers, but what they most often don’t realize is that adults are just as bad. Scrolling through Facebook or Twitter it is now more common to see adults age 30-100 sharing personal opinions and views in online rants. Think about the last time you scrolled through one of your news feed, who was the person going off about politics or social changes? In fact, when students are taught how to properly use these platforms, they are able to use technology in a pro-social way: learning leadership, staying informed, participatory aspect, and making a change.

Now lets talk about gaming. The stigma around video games is that they cause their players to have violence in the players regular life. The truth? Children playing violent video games are not showing any more aggression than others! It is important to look at a child’s mental health before assuming that it is the game. While many adults find it easier to jump to the conclusion that “it must have been those shooting games” which have lead many tragic endings in schools, after analyzing the individuals mental health it is found that there are undiagnosed issues that began long before the console was bought. It is OKAY to let your children play video games s long as they understand safety precautions needed before playing. Video games can help build reaction time, hand eye coordination, as well as build children media literacy.

Todays youth doesn’t understand a world without cellphones, with mail couriers bringing letters, t.v’s with antennas, or phones mount don the walls. The world is changing and it is important that we as a population develop with is. It is the teachers role to lead using technology and show a good example online. Social media and youth is a hot topic, it is important to address the existing and emerging social media concerns in your environments with education and media literacy conversations. Children thirst for knowledge is large: they want to know more and they now have the tools to get there!

Twitter is another app that is primarily used by youth as a social platform to write jokes, however there are also many opportunities to use it in education. In our current technology course we have a class hashtag that we use on twitter where our professor posts all the different readings, materials, and assignments for us to do. We also use our twitter accounts as “professional accounts” to stay in touch with school districts, have live chats with teachers around BC, share lesson plan documentation, and many other helpful tools! Twitter is a great example that all of these social media platforms are what the users make them.

Today we had a guest lecturer named Jesse Miller who taught us all about safety and privacy on these platforms! For more information on what I spoke about above you can look up his company @MediatedReality