Summary of Learning and a Semester of Growth

Retrieved from: Custom Slow Down

Well, I can safely say I never thought I would be making a music video in my life. I decided to write a song for my EC&I 834 Summary of Learning to Ed Sheeran’s popular “Shape of You” song that all the cool kids are listening to. In case any of you are wondering, this song has more syllables and is a faster pace than you think; that ginger boy can make it look effortless. I literally had to find a slower-paced version of
this song because my brain could not form the words needed at a regular pace.

Re-writing songs to summarize what a class has taught you is difficult– both in terms of finding the right syllables (which I still don’t do) and because it requires you to condense what feels like an endless amount of information into a few verses and repetitive courses. Nonetheless, this is a process that I enjoy, and I am grateful this course gives me an opportunity to be creative.

I recorded the song using GarageBand. This program is great because it allows you to use unlimited tracks; you can record little snippets and pick and choose which portions you want. I think I had a total of 7 tracks by the end of recording (it’s a really hard song, okay?!). This song actually required more than one track because the vocals overlap in certain areas. If your next question is “wasn’t it weird to sing over your own voice?” The answer is yes. Yes it is.

Image Retrieved from: Pinterest – Hearing Voices

I decided to also film a video this time around. This was mostly to push myself out of my comfort zone. Generally speaking, I dislike being on camera and I wasn’t sure how to edit a video (using iMovie) where I am lip syncing for the entire time. So, I did what any other person would do: I found a background that looks super snazzy, so even if my editing wasn’t good, people would still have pretty things to look at. Seriously though, I don’t know if you have taken a minute to see the amazing graffiti Regina has around the city, but I highly recommend taking a drive around Cathedral area and witnessing the majestic murals painted everywhere. I can’t draw pro-style like Andres, so I decided to showcase art around the city.

I’d recommend taking a look at the lyrics to my song before watching the video. I decided not to include lyrics on the video itself because it took away from the beautiful artwork in my video (believe me, I thought about it because then people wouldn’t be focusing on me!). The lyrics can also be found underneath the YouTube video. Take a look at the final product!

There are a few things I’d like to mention before signing off for the final time. I had three goals at the beginning of this course:

  • Find alternatives to Learning Management Systems, so I can create resources and content that is open for anyone.

Did Koskie Do It?

Yes! This class explained a lot of alternative platforms to use for classes. I looked at Canvas as an option, but I seem to have a fondness for classroom blogs instead. Canvas reminded me of Moodle, a platform I currently use for Psychology 30 (but it is password-protected). I think creating a classroom blog gives teachers more opportunities to make an online space personal because you can customize everything. It was important that my resources were Google-able and other people could access it.

  • Create a blended classroom, not using an LMS, for a minimum of one of my classes.

Did Koskie Do It?

Yes! I decided to create a classroom blog for one of my courses this semester! I have many of my lesson plans for Media Studies 20 on this hub. Students access it every class, and they even created their own blogs, learning conventions of blogging along the way! I am a strong believer in open-source learning. I want students and teachers to see, use, and adapt my lessons! Collaboration is a lot easier if we don’t keep our resources in paper binders.

I also decided to use Google Classroom for the first time. I did this for ELA B10 and ELA 20. The biggest benefit  to Google Classroom is submitting assignments and the ability to give immediate feedback to students. You can read more about what the strengths are of each platform I tried this semester. This was definitely a class where I pushed myself to “just do it” and see what happens.

  • Learn from other’s experiences, failures, victories, and knowledge, as well as collaborate with people to create open-education resources.

Did Koskie Do It?

Sort of. I definitely learned a lot from the feedback I received on my module. People explained how to create categories on Google Classroom and different ways to organize classes. I made an effort to comment on at least 5 people’s blog posts every week. It was cool to see the different perspectives on tools and platforms people were trying out.

The module Elizabeth and I created was not open-source, so I didn’t really create open-education resources through collaboration. This is something I would like to improve on. I think online collaboration can really enhance online spaces and my teaching practice. I did, however, collaborate with my old Social Studies teacher, Steve Variyan, to create Tubaland for my module! He saw one of my tweets asking for ideas and we met in person. This just goes to show you how powerful Twitter can be, despite my seemingly inability to tweet consistently. Sorry Alec and Katia.

All in all, this semester was one of the most rewarding ones I have had yet. I stepped out of my comfort zone in the classroom and jumped head first into putting theory into practice. I can’t wait to continue blending my classes and create more open-source learning opportunities.

  • Koskie Out!

Back At It Again

Hello, EC&I 834 people!

My name is Katherine Koskie and I am a teacher at Melville Comprehensive School. This is my third year of teaching. I have taught nearly every humanities class in existence (SOC 10, 20, 30; ELA 10, 20, 30; LT 30; PSY 30; MST 20) and I love it! I decided to start taking my Masters because I missed being a student, and, also, I don’t have a lot of responsibilities going on right now. I don’t know how the parents out there can do it; I am struggling, and I eat my mom’s roast beef dinners on the regular. Shout out to Dad because he is a pretty sick cook too.

For those of you who haven’t taken a class with me, I have a pretty unique classroom that lends itself to blended learning.  The classroom has four televisions connected to Chromecast, four whiteboards for student-use, and students have access to 1-1 devices!

21st Century Classroom

I know I am incredibly lucky to have this technology and the opportunities it brings. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to create enough lesson plans and blended learning environments to use my classroom to its full potential. I feel like I am neglecting it. This is partially due to the normal crazy-ness that comes with learning new curriculum, starting my Masters, and extra-curricular activities. Anyway, I’m not here to make excuses. I’m determined to see this beauty up and running for second semester!

Three goals I have for learning in this class are:

1) Find alternatives to Learning Management Systems (LMS), so I can create resources and content that is open for anyone. I think technology creates some amazing opportunities for people to learn free-of-charge!

2) Create a blended classroom, not using a LMS, for a minimum of one of my classes. I need to find simple ways for students to submit assignments and create a coherent and intuitive way to organize my classes. (Pretty stoked this ended up being one of our assignments in this class– Thanks Courobrandt).

3) Learn from other’s experiences, failures, victories, and knowledge with blended and online classroom environments, as well as collaborating with people to create open-education resources. Gotta expand that PLN, if you know what I mean (*cough please follow me by hitting that link*).

Stoked to be back and learn from ya’ll.

Also, I’m bringing back the word ya’ll.

  • Koskie Out!

Getting “Caught Up” in the Chaos

So, my students are now in full swing with their Major Digital Projects. A few of my students wanted to change their skills and I kept telling them it was too late in the semester.

Mistake.

One of my students asked me why they could not change their skill since the rubric was  about assessing and reflecting and not about mastering a skill.  Good point. I guess I kind of got caught up in the assignment for this class and how we couldn’t change our skill. You know what I always say in English class? I don’t care about your opinion unless you can back it up with evidence. OK, I don’t think I come across that harsh (I probably do).

The student brought up a good point and used my rubric as evidence. English teacher win? I certainly don’t want students to struggle with an assignment that they will do throughout the entire semester.  I hear a collective sigh of relief from people who were dreading “faking” their progress reports. I had a total of four students change their skill so they were able to assess on something they were passionate about.

The progress reports I am getting have improved since I decided they were able to change their skill. I did let them know that it would be cool to see progress on a skill, which requires them to do it for a longer period of time. So far, I haven’t had a student switch their skill again.  Amazing how treating young people like adults leads to better classroom management. I guess it’s hard to break the habit of valuing process as much as product. After all, I am a byproduct of how I was taught and I am struggling to resist the temptation of the end product.

  • Koskie Out!

Hello, it’s about that time / that we start summarizing

WHO IS TIRED OF HEARING ADELE’S SONG “HELLO”?

I decided to write a song for my Summary of Learning because I thought it would be a challenge for me. It’s difficult to summarize knowledge from an entire semester and give an accurate idea of what was discussed (never mind doing that in a song). I definitely had some issues with fitting the words “misogynist” and “pedagogy” while keeping the same rhythm to the song. Here is the final product:

I struggled mainly with two things:

  1. Adele knows how to sing hard songs without making them sound difficult. This song is really soft in some parts and then really loud during the chorus. The microphone I was using wasn’t a big fan of this change of dynamic so I had to sit far away from the microphone.
20160412_165145

Take note of where the microphone is and where my face is.

2. Making a lyric video is not as easy as it looks. The first few attempts cut off important lyrics and/or the lyrics didn’t align with my song. It was frustrating. I’ll give you an idea of how I created the lyric video below.

In order to make the lyric video, I used a few different programs:

  • The first website I used was called LRC Generator. This website creates .lrc files with the lyrics to whatever song you choose. I always wondered how people would sync up words with music on karaoke videos and now I know. Family Christmas will never be the same again.
    • The process is rather tedious because you need to write lyrics line-by-line with ~ 3-5 words per line. Want a longer sentence on your lyric video? ABORT. The program I used to make my lyric video would cut off lines that were too long.
    • The generator I linked also allows you to download your lyrics as a .txt file, which you will also need to create a lyric video.
  • The second program I used was called YouTube Movie Maker. This program requires your .lrc and .txt file and generates the font and background of your video.  It’s a pretty simple program to use and this video tutorial shows you how create a final lyric video.

That’s it my lovely EC&I 831 people!

I had an absolutely blast learning from all of you.

  • Koskie Out!

Quieting that Inner Voice: Slacktivism DOES Promote Action

Sometimes I hate that inner voice. The inner voice that tells you “Ugh, instead of changing your Facebook picture to have a deep blue, red, and white flag filter could you actually take action to prevent terrorism?” or “can you please stop posting pictures of yourself ‘getting fit and happy?” I’ll be the first to admit I battle this voice all the time. Now, I stand back and think why am I having this reaction? Is it because I promote social justice on social media in a more meaningful way? No, I don’t think that’s it. Do I have a negative reaction to people becoming fit because I am currently balancing Cheetos on my stomach as I type this? OK, that one may be true.

We are born in a world where we feel the need to compete with each other. I’ve met a select few people who don’t seem to have this need, or maybe they can simply hide it better than most.  Part of the problem is that people internalize the dominant narrative in order to fit in.  An example of this happening is how women will call other women derogatory terms as much as men do. Unfortunately, what ends up getting lost is the message or issue we are trying to fight for.

The simple fact is that slacktivism does promote social agency. Who cares if you disagree with it? If it’s helping people spread awareness of a cause, it’s better than the alternative (balancing Cheetos and doing nothing else). Do I wish people would become more involved and take action? Yes, I do. I wish we all had time in our days to help the less fortunate and work towards a world where people can meet their basic needs with dignity.

tomeetbasicneeds1

For those of you who don’t know what slacktivism is:

“Slacktivism is actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g., signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.”

The Wikipedia article has a negative definition of slacktivism that emphasizes how it does nothing at all but make us feel better about ourselves: “It is the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism.” Woahh, calm down Wikipedia. I don’t speak for the entire population, but I certainly don’t feel like I’ve changed the world by sharing or tweeting a social justice issue. Scott Gilmore argues that slacktivism makes people less likely to donate to a cause because we get instant gratification from a “like” or “share.”  In fact, Gilmore goes as far as shaming people who engage in slacktivism while other researchers suggest that people are more likely to donate to a charity after they’ve signed an online petition.

Well, Mr. Gilmore and other slacktivist critics, here are a few things that slacktivism has helped spread awareness of and/or raise money for:

  • ALS Bucket Challenge (raised $115 million in six weeks w/ more searches for A.L.S in 2014 than in the entire previous decade)
  • #YesAllWomen – brought awareness to street harassment, and specifically bystander intervention
  • #NotYourMascot – addresses the “misappropriation of Indigenous identity, imagery, and culture.
  • #IdleNoMore – honouring Indigenous sovereignty and protecting land and water rights.

I’ve even included a few hashtags that are no longer widely used (and some would argue show how slacktivism is not effective). Here is the thing, though: These hashtags or “slacktivism campaigns” have led to some meaningful conversations in my classroom where students want to know why people are “sharing” or “liking” a cause/issue. Social media is especially important because it provides an opportunity or “buy in” to show students how historical issues are still relevant and have implications for today. It makes my social studies heart happy. Awareness is the predecessor to action; so, instead of wasting your time complaining about slacktivism, start having conversations around the issues that matter.

I don’t know about you, but I think we have bigger things to complain about.

  • Koskie Out

 

Trolls, Bullies, Racists, and Misogynists …. and Procrastinators?

Oh boy, the semester is over and I have fallen behind. I’m just going to post this here:

Tim Urban discusses something called an “instant gratification monkey” which I seem to have, but it’s more than that: Teaching is exhausting.  I will not have to experience the less-than-ideal circumstances of many students who make it to school. Building relationships with students is exhausting. Supporting students mentally, physically, emotionally, and intellectually is exhausting. I’m tired.

It’s also the most important part of this job and the reason I come to work every day. Students are amazing. I mean this. Wow, some of the conversations around racism, feminism, and media representations never would have been mentioned when I went to school. It is so easy to shift responsibility and not address social issues today; it’s one of the rights I get because of my privilege. Privilege gives me the ability to say, “This student isn’t trying because (s)he is lazy” rather than trying to understand and support them.

Privilege allows me the opportunity to stay silent and be still.

I can’t deny that the internet allows for some very hateful rhetoric to be spoken.  I think Donald Trump’s campaign is an example of how effective fear-mongering tactics still are.  Muslims and violence was one of the biggest issues discussed on social media this year. At the beginning, I found myself going on some pretty extensive Facebook sweeps and deleting a lot of people who were promoting racism and discrimination.

Stop. Wait. What are you doing? I think about what I’ve just done– I’m shifting responsibility. I decided not to engage and disrupt something I care deeply about. Why? Well, honestly, sometimes I don’t think it’s worth it. Sometimes you know that you are fighting a battle with someone who will never change their minds. Other times I feel like I am not educated enough on an issue to defend it. Man, I wish there was a device where experts were posting about misconceptions about IslamI decide to save my efforts for when I think I can make a difference. But lately I’ve been engaging more in educating others on social media. I don’t make people feel guilty for believing in something. Instead, I explain the reasons behind why they think the way they do and what we can do to combat it.

Just recently I entered into a discussion on a Facebook page called Roses and Raspberries from my hometown. The basic function of the page is to award “roses” for good things that people do in the community and give “raspberries” if people/places/events did something wrong or hurtful to someone.  As you can imagine, posts can range from “Roses to person who bought my coffee at McDonald’s” to “Raspberries to the city for putting up snowflakes on our light posts instead of the Christmas trees, that were 30 years old and falling apart. Why do we have to get rid of Christmas because of a few immigrants moving to the city?”

OK, although I exaggerated the wording on the last example, it really did happen.  It’s frustrating, but it gives me a platform to disrupt hateful rhetoric.  And, after entering a discussion about teaching residential schools, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of people advocating for educating about residential schools much higher than those who were trying to either:

  • a) shift responsibility – “We shouldn’t teach that until we teach Ukrainian history.”
  • b)  forget about current racism – “What about white people who were abused in the past? You don’t see us complaining about it.”
  • c) guilt us – “Talking about residential schools paralyzes us from moving on and living in a Utopian society that would otherwise exist.”
  • d) colourblind us – “We shouldn’t focus on our differences. We are all the same.”

It was interesting to see all of these ideas come up. I didn’t feel uncomfortable entering this discussion either (I am often wary of entering social media discussions when I am public figure in the community). I didn’t make people feel bad for feeling the way they did, rather I described why they were saying these things. And I’m not going to pretend like people said “Oh, man. Koskie, you just changed my world.” I have no idea if I helped one person in that single conversation question why they thought the way they did. All I know is that, in that moment, I did not shift responsibility to someone else to fix it.

Deciding to take action is not always an easy thing to do for people, especially women.  John Oliver discusses things like revenge porn, direct threats, sexism in the video game industry, doxing, and how dangerous it is for women to speak out on social media.

Sometimes I think people can paint people as either good or bad, based on whether they speak out on social media or not. I think there is a lot of grey area here. Women are afraid to speak out because they don’t want to put their safety at risk. I will not shame people who decide not to be outspoken about something because they fear for their life (a very real fear to have when you look at cases of doxing).  It’s a terrible cycle– I can’t blame people for wanting to be safe, but I know that we need to speak out in order to change things. I also recognize that, if anything that I said on social media did have severe backlash, it wouldn’t reflect poorly on my entire race. I do feel like I am in a position where I need to speak out.

What’s the solution?

I’m not sure. The internet is a tool and people who are violent will condone violence and people who are peaceful will speak out about injustice and enact positive change. Sometimes I think people get a little lost in examples of much bigger problems. We need to explain the why. Instead of calling Beyonce a terrible feminist, we should focus more on institutionalized “isms” and why people have the tendency to blame victims.  As I was typing that, I came to the realization that instituionalized “isms” will likely not be a trending topic. So,  is it better to simplify things in order to gain a bigger audience?

What do you think?

  • Koskie Out!

Digital Literacy Skills in da Formative Assessment House

Why didn’t I think of including 21st century digital literacy skills into my formative assessments? One of the most valuable things I have been talking about in my classes this semester is how we can focus our energy when surrounded by so much technology.

In a previous blog post, I discuss an epiphany I had related to educational technology.  To sum it up in one sentence: Technology and the ability to access information that is distracting is never going away. Students will always be able to ignore what they should be focusing on at school, work, or their home so there is no point complaining about it. It’s time we start teaching students how to focus their attention WITH technology rather than putting a band-aid on the problem and temporarily taking it away.

20160408_151424

Let’s be clear here, I am not perfect. I used to take away phones without a second thought. Now, I have started reminding them to focus their energy and explaining why it is important to do so. I’m not going to pretend like I still don’t take away phones sometimes. However, the amount of times I have to take phones away has decreased exponentially.  I keep reminding them that focusing their attention on what is important is a skill that many employers are looking for in the workforce.

recite-3qry6z

As a social studies teacher, I always try and make content engaging and relevant for my students. I never like to hear the question “why do I have to learn this?” However, I have neglected to explain the relevancy and purpose of learning specific skills– whether it be digital literacy, researching, citation, etc. I love making meaningful connections with literature and content, but I’m beginning to recognize that skills are being left behind.

I decided to include a row on my rubric that addresses 21st century digital literacy skills. For the first couple of weeks, I am going to give them reminders to focus their attention. I am hoping I will continue to see a decline of students using their technology inappropriately.

  • Koskie Out!