A whole new meaning to “finding myself”.

Thankfully I looked back at the tech tasks from our course, because I discovered I had never posted one of them to my blog! This is a good indicator about how busy the semester was. Anyway, luckily this tech task is a fun one so I didn’t have too much trouble re-doing it.

There’s something so wonderfully narcissistic about searching for yourself on Google. It feels a lot like cleaning your room and getting to look back on all sorts of things from your past and reminisce about how they came to be.

When I search my name on Google, quite literally nothing comes upon the first page that is related to me. One of the consequences of having a fairly common name! I was also surprised that my favourite Laura Shepherd that is not me, the director of Care Bears, was not in the top couple of hits either! She was further down on the page though.

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In fact, I have to go all the way to page 3 to find anything related to me! As far as Google hits go, having the first one be a Relay for Life page is not a bad thing to come up!

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When I add on Regina or Moose Jaw I get a few  more hits about me, but there’s still definitely a good mix of other people too.

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In some ways I think I’m a little bit sad (and definitely surprised!) that there’s other Laura Shepherds in Regina and Moose Jaw that show up when I’m searching for myself. I feel like I’ve done quite a bit of work to give myself a positive online identity and would like that to be shown off in Google. However, the things I am seeing that are of myself are all things I would classify as positive and paint the sort of picture that I want to be out there for myself.

I’ll definitely continue to check up on my digital identity through Google in years to come to make sure that what people are seeing is the “me” that I want them to see.

 

 

Thoughts From Places: ECMP 355

For my summary of personal learning I chose to pay homage to my favourite youtube channel, Vlogbrothers. They often make videos entitled “Thoughts From Places” (see http://dft.ba/-tfpforecmp355 for an example) in which a series of shots are taken and overlaid with narration usually pondering some great thoughts about life.

I chose this format because I find it to be a great way to make a visually interesting video that has some deeper thinking behind it. I definitely had some thoughts about our course to share and wanted to challenge myself to construct a vlog of this nature. I also love the idea of “bookending” the course and starting with a vlog and ending with a vlog.

This video is a kind of combination of ECMP 355 reflection and end of my undergrad degree reflection all in one. I wanted to have a video to look back on to remember some of my thoughts from right now in my life, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do that.

At first I worried that this was not the kind of summary video that the assignment called for in the sense that it doesn’t highlight a bunch of the specific tools we used this semester… but I really felt like this highlighted my learning in a much more accurate way. After all, this whole time it has been stressed that the marks shouldn’t matter and the learning should be what’s key. I feel like this style of overall learning and reflection summarizes my learning much better than listing all the individual topics we covered would have and will be more useful for me in the future.

After all, we have to make our assignments useful for ourselves, otherwise there’s not really a point in doing them at all.

Thanks for the great semester, ECMP 355 friends! I’ve had a great time learning from you all and can’t wait to keep up with what you’re doing via your blogs!

It’s my padlet and I’ll glee if I want to.

 

 

Laura's Padlet

 

Do you see that teeny tiny picture above this text? Of course you do (Or I really hope you do, or I’ve done something wrong)! Do me a favour and give that teeny tiny picture a click to take you to the full-size, real-deal posting of my padlet wall that I’ve created all about myself.

Now that you’re there, I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “Wow, Laura. Does Glee really deserve half the space in a pictorial description of your entire life?”. Well, my response for you is yes. Yes it does. That weekend ruled and I’m still not over it. This is my padlet and I’ll glee  if I want to

That’s kind of the beauty of this program. You can use it for nearly any content, and it’s still going to look great and get your point across to your viewer. Students could make a padlet for any subject and customize it to suit their needs. To me it’s like “Posterboard 2.0”. You still get the great representation of ideas like a posterboard has, but it has more options for media (like videos!), less waste of materials (think of all the savings on printer paper and ink!), it’s much easier to take home and mark, and it will be around forever (rather than getting tossed into the dumpster as soon as it’s been returned).

It also makes you condense your ideas, as it’s obvious that the text is meant to be used more as a caption than a long story space. It think this is such an important skill for kids to learn, especially in our age of technology where a tweet can be more powerful than a 10 page essay.

I think I will begin using padlet in my classrooms in the future much in the same way I demonstrated it here. It’s a great way to get to know someone quickly, and can even be referred back to as the teacher learns their student’s names and preferences. This would be a great low stress introduction to the program, which would make using it for projects in the future an easy transition.

Or, you know, maybe I’ll just keep using it to display my love for glee. 😉

 

All the best,

Laura

I was a coder and I didn’t even know’d-er?

This week I tried my hand at coding and was surprised at how familiar the process was!

To be honest, when I heard that we were coding this week I assumed that we would be coding websites using html or something similar. Once I realized that this was not the case, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that this other type of coding is something that I actually had experience with!

After trying out a few rounds of EspressoCoding I was reminded of one of my favourite Nintendo DS games, WarioWare DIY. This is a game where you essentially design your own simple mini games, then upload your game for others to play, as well as download other player’s games. It had you draw the backgrounds and moveable pieces, and then code those things to create an objective for your game as well as a way to win your mini game. This game had me coding video games without me even realizing it! Nintendo DS games are still compatible with newer DS systems, so this would be a great recommendation for students who are interested in coding or creating video games.

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Anyway, after realizing that I definitely had a lot of fun playing around on EspressoCoding’s website! Though some of the tasks were a little simplistic (as they should be considering they’re aimed at people younger than me) there was still lots of cool things you could play around with to make it your own. I had particular fun making it so that clicking one object would make another move, as well as pretending my cranes were crashing into each other.

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Yikes, don’t tell the foreman that I was playing chicken with his valuable equipment!

I loved the easiness with which this website explained coding, as well as the opportunity for students to play around with the software to see what they can do. I would love to bring coding into my classroom in the future, and maybe evolve it to hands on projects as well. I did a lot of workshops with Lego Mindstorm kits when I worked at the Science Centre last summer and would absolutely love to be able to build something like that with my students in the future!

Expecto Paw-tronum!

As soon as I saw this assignment on ds106 I knew I had to do it! I love nothing better than puns, and putting together animal and human is just asking for some sweet, sweet puns to be made.

And so I give you…. Ron Weasel-y!

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My love for Harry Potter is one that has lasted for many years, and I feel as though this pun has just been waiting to be made that entire time. From the red fur to match the classic Weasley red hair, to that smirk on Ron’s face that says “I’m a weasel and I’m proud!”, I think this image may just be my favourite thing I’ve created this semester.

With basic knowledge of Photoshop (or a similar program such as gimp) this photo manipulation is easy enough to create. I just used the polygonal lasso tool to cut Ron’s face out, then copied and pasted it into the image of the weasel. After that, a little bit of touch up with the eraser tool and using the clone tool to get rid of some out of place whiskers resulted in this finished product!

Photo manipulation is something that I have tried in the classroom before, and has both gone really well and crashed and burned. For a classroom that’s very comfortable with computers, building skills in Photoshop and becoming comfortable with the various tools can be a great way to engage kids in graphic arts. I’ve had students excel in creating photo manipulations and be extremely proud of the work they’ve done. Other classes, however, may become frustrated with the finickiness of the lasso tool in particular and see photo manipulation as a waste of time.

With that being said I think it’s a really useful (and fun!) skill to learn in our technological world as many students may be interested in the growing field of graphic design. I will definitely continue to try and teach graphic design to students in the future, and hopefully photo manipulation finds a place in that.

This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?

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For my first try at tackling an assignment from the DS106 assignment bank I chose to a visual task that asked the creator to combine their favourite lyric with an image to make the meaning even stronger. The assignment can be found here if you’re interested in seeing more about it.

I chose the lyric “This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?” from the song “There, There, Katie” by Jack’s Mannequin. This lyric has stuck with me for a few years now. I think it means that even though our world might feel overrun with dark and ugly times, the beautiful parts of our world are always out there if we just look for them. The picture I chose to pair it with is one that I took a couple years ago, and I think it shows off a small beautiful moment in the clouds that could easily be missed if you’re not taking the time to look for it.

I found this activity to be very accessible. Though I used Photoshop to create the image, it could easily be done on any online picture editing website. It’s the kind of assignment that has a million different possibilities for placement, image choice, and lyric choice which opens it up to a wide variety of students, and can therefore be engaging for students of all kinds.

During my internship I did some work with quotes with my grade 8 students. They loved being able to share their personal favourites and many of them chose song lyrics to share with the members of our class. I think adding this photographic element to that would result in even more deeper thinking about how to visually represent the words, as well as a great cross-curricular connection between Visual Arts and Language Arts!

Beating the Block – A Collection of Thoughts

It’s been a struggle for me to be able to make a blog post that doesn’t come from a set criteria. For some reason I find myself unable or reluctant to just let myself put down my thoughts and share them with the internet world.

Even as I write this post I find myself constantly backspacing the words, feeling like there’s a better way to say what I want to here. I think a big part of this comes from a desire to show off my best side, like each post I make should be at my very best.

However, it’s important for me to break through that thought process and start getting things out there! Anything’s better (well, maybe not anything) than a blank blog.

So here’s hoping for a new start. I’m going to aim to post more, interact more with others, and start building up a real presence in our classroom online community. Goodbye backspace button, hello “publish post”s.

Follow Saturday Part 2

Here we go again! The long anticipated (and by long I mean less than an hour) continuation of my Follow Saturday saga. Here’s a few more awesome people I’ve come across this week that deserve some more love for what they do.

 

This Star Won’t Go Out – http://tswgo.tumblr.com

This is another blog that I can’t believe I wasn’t actually following until this week. As mentioned before, I’m a fan of the vlogs that John and Hank Green make on their channel Vlogbrothers. From this channel a community was born called “Nerdfighters” that I am a part of. To make a long story short, This Star Won’t Go Out is an organization that was created after a member of the Nerdfighter community named Esther died from cancer at 16. This week a book including many of the things she wrote throughout her battle with cancer was released and I am counting down the days until I’m able to get it! I think this book speaks volumes to the affect that an online community can have on a person, as well as the incredible potential that young people have.

 

YA Highway – http://www.yahighway.com/

It’s no secret to those who know me that I LOVE young adult fiction. In fact, I hardly read anything else. I’ve found that my love for young adult fiction gives me something to connect with middle years students over, and gives me a chance to get excited about literature with them rather than just hearing about what they’re reading. YA Highway is a great site for pretty much all things YA literature. Not only does it touch upon discussion about many YA books out there, but it also provides help for teens wanting to write books themselves. I think this could be a great help in the future for planning many different LA projects. Also, it’ll give me new books to put on my “must read” list!

 

Paperbak’d – http://paperbackd.tumblr.com/

Sticking with the YA literature theme, this is another great tumblr blog that I found in my searches this week. This one focuses more on reviews and promotion of new YA books. I hope that this will provide me with not only new books to read myself, but to find new, relevant books to introduce into classrooms as well.

 

Visualizing Math – http://visualizingmath.tumblr.com/

I am a firm believer in Math being awesome! I’m really interested in all the almost “magical” things that occur in mathematics. This blog shows a wide variety of complicated math concepts being visualized through pictures and videos. I think using aids such as these can help many students understand math as a tangible thing rather than just an abstract concept.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson – https://twitter.com/neiltyson

Lastly, everyone should be following Neil deGrasse Tyson! He has been filling my twitter feed with not only informational, but funny tweets too! I now look forward to seeing him post something new.

 

So there you have it, all of the new blogs/communities/people I have found this week that will hopefully help me have a more exciting and more informational experience while surfing the web. This week’s task has allowed me to see just how many people are out there to interact with. I find that I get so concentrated to my usual base of social media that I never venture out. Who knows, my next favourite blog could be out there waiting for me!

Follow… Saturday? Part 1

I had every intention of saving my post this week for Friday so I could do a traditional “Follow Friday” post,  but then life got in the way and lead to me having to wait until today to give a shout out to all the awesome blogs I’ve found this week. Perhaps “Follow Saturday” can become a thing too? I’ll try to make it happen!

When I started my search this week for new blogs to follow I found that I was drawn to many that weren’t necessarily education based. I struggled a bit with the idea that this is an education class and that maybe I should find blogs that tie into that. However, in the end I decided that drawing my own education from different areas in the world is a good use of my time too. In fact, I found that many of the lessons and projects I did in my internship were inspired by blogs or vlogs I follow that aren’t education based. So I think I will stick with blogs that genuinely interest me and let them educate me with what they have to offer.

Anyway, here’s a few awesome blogs/vlogs/twitters/online communities I’ve come across that week that I’d like to share.

Keith Lapinig – http://keithlapinig.tumblr.com/I

I chose to follow this blog this week because it encompasses a lot of the things I love! Keith is a graphic designer for Disney. As someone who is mildly obsessed with all things Disney, and has an interest in graphic design this blog is definitely relevant to my own interests! I love how he has quite a bit of original content, because while there is something to be said or sharing links that others have created, I think creating your own work to share with the world is essential for creating new discussion and interest.

Mental Floss – http://www.youtube.com/user/MentalFlossVideo

As a long time subscriber to the vlog channel vlogbrothers, I’m unsure why I hadn’t subscribed to their general knowledge/trivia program “Mental Floss” that is hosted by John Green yet. Starting as a website, I find the Mental Floss youtube program to be a really engaging way to educate! As a lover of trivia, this channel is filled with interesting general knowledge trivia that always makes me feel both educated and entertained afterwards. Knowledge being presented with wit and humour is always inspiring as a future teacher!

ClassicPics – https://twitter.com/History_Pics

ClassicPics is a twitter account that shares images and short explanations about various moments in history. I always feel like history is an area where I’m lacking in knowledge, so by being able to get short glances of different moments in history I can help myself learn a bit more about the world in the past. Also, some of the images are SO COOL!

Word of the Day – https://twitter.com/thewordoftheday

All the perks of a word of the day calendar directly on your twitter feed! I love daily blogs and get excited when I see their one post a day (even when it’s the same thing every day like internet sensation “Same Pic of Dave Coulier“). It makes me really stop to read their content because it’s consistent and sort of rare compared to the numerous posts many other blogs/twitters make in a day. I love the idea behind this and hope it will teach me some cool words to break out into the real world.

/r/Teachers – http://www.reddit.com/r/Teachers/

As a long time Reddit user, I can’t believe I never thought to look for a community of teachers there! Though this isn’t really “following” someone’s twitter or blog page, I’m including it because it makes use of the idea that community is key! This subreddit makes use of a form of social media that I’m already a part of and will hopefully give me another place to seek help and help others too.

And with that I’m going to end part 1 of this post to save it from getting longer than a Game of Thrones novel. Stay tuned for more follow-y fun later today!