#TreatyEdCamp

I attended #TreatyEdCamp at the University of Regina in October of 2017. This was an event designed to aid teachers and student-teachers in developing their knowledge about Indigenous people and history. I was able to learn how to incorporate treaty education in the classroom in all subjects and grade levels.

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The Mighty School Principal

Thinking back to elementary and high school, we all had principles throughout our academic careers. Whether they were a big part of our school life or a small part, their presence seemed to control the very atmosphere of the school. This week, I was able to learn a lot more about what being a principal actually means, and what that means for me transitioning from a student to a teacher.

To be an effective principal means more than just enforcing rules. A principal must establish the mission, vision, and culture of the school through each of their words and actions. To me, this sounds difficult since you are your words and actions. Essentially you must become one with your school.

Principals are also responsible for funding. Deciding where the money for your school is going to go is tough. Obviously, you want to give every club, sports team, and classroom money to see them thrive and reach their potential. With school budgets shrinking and shrinking principals have to make the tough decisions. Do you give money for the SRC to hold a pep-rally or buy the volleyball team new jerseys and equipment?

The role of a principal is always changing. Principals are now supposed to be approachable as well as enforcing rules. Principals must look after the well-being of students, staff, and community. I learned that principals must act as the mediator between school community members and students and staff within the school. This adds even more responsibility that lies outside of the principal’s jurisdiction.

I was able to connect with this weeks lecture on principals in unique ways. Throughout high school and elementary school, I served on my school’s Student Representative Council. We planned each of the school-wide events such as dances and pep-rallies, and I experienced first hand the heartbreaking news of a small budget. This news would often result in events being cut and resources dwindling.

Another connection I made was having all types of principals throughout my life. I’ve had easily approachable principals, ones that didn’t leave their office, others got involved in everything around the school. I’m very lucky that I’ve had such a diverse set of principals in my life because the variety has helped me pick out good quality and bad qualities of a principal.

My one question is to do with the changing role of the principal. How exactly has the role principals have in schools changed throughout the years?

Winter Weather – Let’s Eat Together

This week I set out to learn how to sign some basic food and weather words. Little did I know I would learn much more than that in exploring ASL resources on the internet.

 

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To learn food I used an app called SignSchool. This free app provides dozens of different categories to learn from. Categories range from clothing to deaf culture. I can’t wait to explore the more abstract areas on this app as it will provide me with a better understanding of the language and the people who speak it. It also features a sign of the day, which encourages me to learn even on busy days when I will not have time to sit down an learn a dozen new signs in a row.

In order to learn signs for ‘weather’ I came across a free website called Dummies.com. It is an online extension of the famous book series “Blank for Dummies” which teaches anyone basically anything. In this case, this dummy was learning about the weather. Not only did a learn simple vocabulary, but the online article also provided sample sentences that could be used for weather vocabulary such as “It’s sunny outside”.

This was when I learned ASL does not follow English syntax. ASL uses fewer words and arranges words differently in a sentence.

 

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Aside from the epic mind boggle this week I managed to create this video:

Stay tuned for next week because I will be trying something a little different… possibly a challenge… possibly could go viral… Only time will tell.

Tickled Pink to be Learning Sign Language

I’m officially halfway through my ASL journey! WOOHOO! With that being said, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I feel like my knowledge of this language is growing larger by the day. I can not wait for the next five weeks of this challenge to come and I will try my best to absorb all the sign language that I can in such a short amount of time.

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This week I turned to YouTube to learn emotions and colours. I found the cutest video of a little girl on the channel Smart Hands. She sings about the colours in Sign Language in such a memorable way that definitely helped me in remembering each colour. I also used a channel that I have been using for most of my learning called ASL THAT. Their straightforward tutorials allow for maximum learning in a short amount of time.

In order to learn emotions, I turned to YouTube channel FUNTASTIC TV – Kids Songs and Nursery Rhymes. As childish as the video Feelings Sign Review – American Sign Language was it was very helpful. The instructions were clear and the actions were much more animated and exciting to imitate.

Briefly, I experienced a moment of doubt in my signing. Upon reflecting, I realized I was really only learning from a singular source – YouTube. I felt that I was not utilizing the amazing resources at hand to learn ASL. It was in this mopey time that I found an amazing video that really inspired me to keep going, while also giving me ideas on how to learn ASL from different platforms and resources. Thank you to thedailysign, specifically her video How I’m Learning Sign Language for inspiring me to keep going on this journey and never giving up.

Thank you for all of the people out there providing resources that allow a newbie like me to learn ASL.

Using Technology in the Classroom

On Monday evening I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Alex Couros, an Information and Communication Technologies ICT Coordinator and Professor at the University of Regina. He presented about the importance of digital citizenship and literacy in the classroom. He himself has four children at the peak of this technology age, so his knowledge comes from a professors standpoint as well as a father. The topics he touched on were most interesting, and I will high light the gist of his presentation and how it applies to myself in the following paragraphs.

Technology is something that wasn’t around before you were born. Dr. Couros explained the concept of technology to us iGen individuals. At one point the wheel would be considered a technology, or paved roads, even blackboards in a classroom. It’s funny how we tend to only think of technology when it comes to computers and electronics. If we go by the above definition, I shouldn’t be considering computers a technology because I was born after the invention of the computer and grew up with one in my home.

New-age technology touches everyone. Whether the users be babies or the elderly, it should come as no surprise that this internet fad has spread across multiple generations. In fact, in 2016, 32.12 million Canadians which is roughly 81% of Canadians were internet users. This number is rising fast according to statista. With well over half of the country participating online it is safe to assume that digital citizenship will benefit most, if not all students sometime in their lives.

It’s true that we should never expect a future student of ours to have technology at their fingertips. But as Dr. Couros mentioned, despite the wealth gap, technology such as cellphones and computers are no longer a commodity – they are a necessity.

That means that digital citizenship is becoming more and more important in our changing society. Where this knowledge needs to start is in the classrooms. Dr. Couros taught us the negative implications of technology, but he also reiterated the positive outcomes that can arise from using devices at hand.

One question I still have after the presentation is why schools are not allocated more money to provide more technology to students in the classroom? Should each student be provided with a laptop or iPad?

Branching off from the above question is the schools’ job only to educate about the internet and digital citizenship, or should they be providing students with that resource just as easily as they are provided library books?

Regardless of the issues that arise when incorporating technology in the classroom, digital citizenship is a much-needed part of in school curriculum. I plan to incorporate digital citizenship into my future classroom as best I can.

The Big Picture

Albert Community School is a place where students do more than learn curriculum-based content. As a community school, that means that the school serves the community, rather than the community serving the school. The school reaches far beyond students and into family and community interests. This difference results in a different mindset for teaching. The teachers create lessons and expand job expectations in order to serve the students’ needs.

Sometimes it can mean raising engagement by bending curriculum in order to improve attendance. Other times it means constructing nutrition units that can be realistically implemented by an eight-year-old with little parental support. Or it can stretch to duties of a cab driver for students who can’t make it from home to school and back again. These are just a few examples of the extra work that teachers do in order to serve their students.

When educators reach out to their students, a funny thing happens, students reach for their teachers. They value the knowledge being taught and look forward to each lesson. The respect that the students have for their staff is evident in Albert School. Students and teachers joke around and share a passion for learning.

In Albert School students are not learning in traditional ways. Teachers design lessons to fit their students best learning abilities. They include activities for visual learners, hands-on learners, quiet and loud learner’s, independent and dependent learners. They learn through technology, stories, field trips, and much more creative ways that I have yet to see.

Most of all, teachers and students share in a community that thrives and continues to grow. Teachers instill values of respect and kindness, skills that reach far beyond the front doors of the school. At the end of the day, Albert Community School serves the community in ways seen and unseen, and I hope when I become a teacher that I will be a part of the service of a community.

A Simple Extension Can Go Far

This week I was tasked with trying out an app, chrome extension, or website. I was to try it, become familiar with the software, and review it for all of you. Upon looking through the list I was overwhelmed with unfamiliar titles and wildly creative names.

 

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Nevertheless, the words, each connecting to a link, intrigued me and I found myself downloading each chrome extension, app, and visiting each website. Although I have not had time to explore each and everything I now have downloaded on my computer, I will be reviewing the ones that I have had a chance to look at.

TabMania

I’m one of those people that collects a series of tabs on my computer. The look of an empty tab bar is foreign to me and I fill it up quickly throughout my day, only for my stockpile to disappear at night when I shut my computer down.

In order to fix this problem, I added the chrome extension OneTab. With this extension, I am able to keep all the tabs I am not currently using one ‘collection’ tab. They are housed without connection to the internet and without taking up precious battery space but are accessible with the simple click of a button. This could be helpful for teachers because they can collect more and more tabs without threatening the integrity of their computer.

On my phone, I have the app Feedly, which houses articles for me to read whenever I get a spare moment of time. On my computer, I had nothing until I downloaded the chrome extension Evernote. This extension allows for me to save articles and websites to visit later. This could be beneficial to teachers because resources can be saved for days and weeks, making lesson planning easy to be done in advanced. No more saving links to a document for safe keeping.

Your Grammar Sucks

I like to pretend that I know what I’m doing when it comes to grammar, especially since I’m an English major. I know everything! Not.

 

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This is where the chrome extension Grammarly comes in. I have used the extension throughout this entire post, and I have noticed a huge improvement in my writing. Think spell-check with that built-in scary English teacher from middle school who handed back your work covered in red pen. Except, a little less scary. Teachers can use this because… actually, everybody could use this. It would save a lot of embarrassing grammatical mistakes.

This may be where the post ends, but my exploration of apps, extensions, and websites is just beginning. Tell me in the comments what other computer gadgets I should check out.