Blog Posts · EDTC 300

Tweet Tweet

Thoughts About Twitter

I am going to be honest, I have had an unwarranted dislike of Twitter since high school. For what reason? I’m not totally sure. I think it may have mainly been because I am not a huge social media person. Compared to my friends I rarely go on social media. The only platform I use semi-consistently would be Instagram. Twitter has always seemed the most daunting because of the overwhelming amount of information available, not knowing who to follow, and the higher expectation to post. By contrast, you can happily be a passive user on Facebook and spend your time scrolling and reading. Instagram is a little bit more interactive, but with pictures instead of words. My anxiety and indecisiveness spikes when I think about writing compared to simply posting a photo with a simple caption.

Yet, here I am, becoming an active user on Twitter and starting to get accustomed to posting daily! Although I am still finding my new social media use a bit exhausting, I am happy that EDTC 300 is teaching me to realize the overpowering benefits of Twitter as a future teacher. Just as David Truss states so well in his blog post “Twitter Edu: Your One-Stop-All-You-Need-To-Know-Guide to Twitter”, Twitter allows you to “shar[e] amazing resources, fin[d] global connections to connect your class to the world, fin[d] like-minded & enthusiastic peers that challenge you to be the best educator you can be, shar[e] excellent examples of learning from your classroom or school, as[k] for help and saving prep time”. Truss goes on to explain yet another reason why I may have initially disliked Twitter in high school. Until you establish a well-oiled network, using Twitter takes some effort and hard work. I am still getting the hang of choosing valuable people to follow in order to develop a resourceful network. One main way I am choosing people to follow is based on their biography, recent tweets, and their profile picture. As David Meerman Scott shares in his blog post “Friending cats and following eggs: On social networks you ARE your photo”, your profile picture is an incredibly important component of your online identity. I am still tweaking my own Twitter biography, but I am going to keep my profile picture stagnant because that picture will be what people recognize and associate me with. Keeping my profile photo the same is beneficial for others, and for my own professional e-portfolio.

Experiencing Tweetdeck

Prior to this class I assumed that Twitter was just a place for people to have small conversations, connect with hashtags, retweet, and post information, pictures, memes, and articles. I have never truly understood the point of hashtags, and have never heard of Tweetdeck before.

When I first logged on to Tweetdeck, I realized that it is almost like a birds-eye view of Twitter. You can look at multiple categories (such as your home page, a specific user, your notifications, etc.) all in one place. The first conversation I participated in was #saskedchat. I never knew that you could connect with multiple people from so many different places simply by using Tweetdeck and a specific hashtag. It was almost like a live discussion forum where I was able to connect with pre-service teachers, current educators, and even Patrick Maze, the president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Although it was a very valuable experience to learn, bounce off ideas, and hear differing perspectives, it was overwhelming. That being said, it would have been next to impossible to manage without Tweetdeck, so I am so thankful to learn about this resource! The next conversation I participated in was #nt2t, and the topic this week was negotiations. This conversation takes place on Saturday mornings at 7am.

This conversation was a much slower pace compared to #saskedchat, so it allowed time for me to comment and have longer conversations with other educators. I believe that I was the only pre-service teacher during this chat, so it was very valuable to hear what practicing teachers had to say for each question, and to have them comment on my current ideas and encourage me to think in different ways. The host of the conversation, Stephan Hughes, retweeted a few of my tweets! How cool is that?

Overall, my opinion about Twitter is shifting from dislike and uncertainty to becoming more comfortable and recognizing the benefit of this online community and connections. Developing an online network is very helpful, and it will be a huge support when I am doing my pre-internship, internship, and when I am a practicing teacher. I also believe that students could use Twitter and Tweetdeck to be part of conversations as a class. For example, Tweetdeck could be projected onto the board, and each student (or in groups) would also be logged onto Tweetdeck. We could find a variety of chats for different topics, such as science, history, current events, social justice issues, math, etc. This encourages students to build a global community, learn from other people, be a part of a bigger conversation, connect with professionals, and consider various perspectives outside of the classroom. I could see this being a very helpful learning tool in the classroom. Do you?

Thanks for reading!

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EDTC 300 · Learning Project

Week One – Let’s Start Playing!

MONDAY:

This week I have decided to learn to play “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish. Today I wanted to find sheet music for this song, start looking at the chords, and find the strumming pattern.

Since this is a fairly popular song, I did not have any difficulty finding sheet music. I decided to settle on using this sheet music from Ukulele Tabs. The layout is pretty simple and already lines up the chords with the lyrics of the song! One downside about this site is that there is no indication of the strum pattern.

To find the strum pattern I went onto YouTube and found a tutorial video for this exact song! The video suggests using only single down strokes for the strumming pattern, but also provides a more complex strumming pattern as an alternative. Since this is my first song of this learning journey, I thought that the single down stroke strumming pattern would be a great place to start. This allows me to work on my chord transitions and linking the chords, strumming, and singing altogether.

Here are the chords for the song:

As you can see from the picture, Ukulele Tabs describes what chords will be in the song, as well as how the chords should look. If you look at the bottom of the picture, this website also provides links on how to use the website, and how to read the chord diagrams that are provided.

Tomorrow I am going to start playing with the strumming pattern, chords, and looking at the lyrics. I will update you on my progress again tomorrow!

TUESDAY:

Today I worked on practicing the chords used in the song, and then practiced stringing the chords together. I am happy that I chose this song as my first for this learning journey because the strumming pattern is so simple. This allows me to focus on my hand positions and making clean transitions from one note to another.

In order to know how to position my fingers for each chord, I found an article that shows the Basic Ukulele Chords for Beginners. Not only does this website give a breakdown of how to tune your ukulele, it also provides very helpful pictures and guides on which fret and finger should be used for a specific note. For example, to play C Major, you will put finger three on the bottom string in the third fret.

Here is a short video of me practicing the five individual chords. I started with single down strokes for each note, and practiced transitioning from one note to the other. Once I was comfortable, I did a double down stroke and tried to stay in time. I think that the most difficult thing for me right now is the transitions and correct finger placement!

After I practiced the chords individually, I moved onto the first section of the song. Here is a short video to show my progress with piecing the song together:

Tomorrow I hope to play the whole song with very few mistakes. Then I will gradually add in the singing! See you tomorrow!

WEDNESDAY:

Today I was able to play the song and add in the singing. I also discovered on Ukulele Tabs that you can automatically scroll the page at different speeds so that you can play along without having to pause and manually scroll the screen down. This was incredibly helpful when I started to play the song in its entirety.

Here is my progress today! I have just been recording these videos on my phone and uploading them on my personal YouTube account. I hope that I can find a better and more professional way to share my progress with you. Now, a little disclaimer before the video. As I previously mentioned, I am in no way a singer and am pushing myself out of my comfort zone by sharing my singing. I am very happy with my progress and am more focused on the ukulele and putting everything together than I am of my singing abilities. Hope you enjoy!

My goal for tomorrow is to play the entire song with very few mistakes. At the end of week I have decided to discuss the online resources that I have used, my thoughts on them, and any things that I wish were different, missing or that I would like to change.

THURSDAY:

I really enjoyed learning this song! I know that it is nowhere near perfect, but I am very happy with my progress. I did alter the octave of the song to make it a bit more comfortable for me to sing since I wanted to focus on playing the ukulele. I took a couple of times to record this final version, but here it is:

Tomorrow I will provide my overview of the resources that I used this week to learn “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish.

FINAL REVIEW FRIDAY:

My first week has come to a close. And might I say, I am genuinely looking forward to the weeks ahead. I started this week off simple by learning “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish. In order to do this, I used three different online sources. Let’s begin by critiquing Ukulele Tabs.

Ukulele Tabs

I suspect that I will be revisiting this site throughout my learning project journey. It was incredibly helpful, and I used it everyday this week. Now, instead of me rambling on about what I liked and what I would like to change about this site, here is a simple, straight to the point, pros and cons list:

PROS:

  • provides sheet music, lyrics, and chords all in one place
  • the chords are lined up with the lyrics so you know when to transition
  • there is an option to auto scroll so that you can play the song without having to pause and manually scroll
  • outlines what chords you will need to know at the beginning to learn the song
  • if you hover over the chord on the sheet music, a picture pops up of what the chord should look like
  • provides links to other pages on the website to teach you how to play each chord

CONS:

  • the website did not provide a recommended strumming pattern
  • sometimes the chords were lined up strangely with the lyrics – you needed to use your own knowledge of the song to make the chords and lyrics flow together

YouTube:

I used YouTube to both post my progress updates and to search for a strumming pattern for this song. Just like Ukulele Tabs, I believe that YouTube is going to be a very important resource for this journey.

PROS:

  • you can post your own videos and choose to make them public, private, or unlisted
  • you can find a variety of examples of people giving tutorials, playing, and singing different songs
  • you can learn visually
  • you can play along with the other person
  • you can replay a video as many times as you need to understand

CONS:

  • YouTube alone does not allow you to edit your video to make it more professional
  • you may not be able to find a tutorial or cover of the song you are looking for depending on it’s popularity

Know Your Instrument:

The last resource I used this week was an article called Basic Ukulele Chord for Beginners, which is from the website Know Your Instrument. This website offers information on different types of guitars (acoustic, electric, bass, classical) and ukuleles. The website seems to review these different instruments and links places to buy them online. Here are the pros and cons for the article:

PROS:

  • teaches you how to tune your ukulele
  • breaks down how to read a chord chart
  • teaches you how to place your fingers to play C major, A minor, F major, G major, A major, E minor, D major, D minor, E major, Gb minor, B minor, C minor, G minor, G7, C7, and A7
  • outlines tips for beginners on how to successfully play
  • provides written and visual cues on how to play each chord

CONS:

  • may not teach the specific chord that you are looking for

Overall, these three resources were all extremely helpful with enabling me to complete my first ukulele song! I hope that you enjoyed reading about my first week of exploring how to play the ukulele. Now I would love to hear from you. How did you like the layout of my week? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve it? Also, feel free to recommend any ukulele resources that I should check out in the following weeks.

I hope you all have a great day!

Blog Posts · EDTC 300

Exploring Feedly

Before this class, I have never heard of Feedly. Throughout my university experience I have always felt behind on finding educational resources to use. I never connected with using Twitter regularly, and Facebook is not as big of a social media resource anymore. I do use Instagram regularly and follow a few practicing teachers; however, I have been wanting to find a resource that is easy to use and will give me helpful content that I can incorporate into my pre-internship, internship, and future career. I am hoping that Feedly will be that resource for me!

I was able to create four categories to organize my articles into. The four categories I chose were:

#edtech     #education     #autismresources     #news

I decided that these four categories would be a great place to start. My hope is that edtech will provide me with tools, apps, tips, and sites that can help me build a global community in my future classroom. I hope that the education category will keep me updated on education news, ideas for lesson plans, classroom management, teaching social justice issues, and so on. I specifically wanted to find resources for inclusive education because that is what I am specializing in as a future educator. And finally I believe that all teachers need to be socially and politically aware, so keeping myself up to date on the news is important.

In order to find resources, I first typed in #edtech. So much content popped up that I was overwhelmed!

Honestly, I just started following the first few that popped up because I am very unfamiliar with a website like this. One of the first education technologies I found was Free Technology for Teachers. This blog has 89K followers and posts 16 articles per week.

From the picture above you can see that this website leads to a blog that provides a variety of resources that teachers can use to implement technology into the classroom. There is a menu that offers practical educational technology, which is easy to access immediately upon reaching the site. Having a variety of technology resources all in one place is incredibly useful and easy to explore. Another aspect on this blog that peaked my interest was the article Ten Great Tech Tools for Social Studies Lessons. I have very limited knowledge on how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, especially into a social studies class. These social studies resources seem to mainly pertain to map and world studies. Therefore, I am interested to see if this blog provides any social justice educational technology resources.

After researching educational technology and education resources, I wanted to narrow my focus to inclusive education. I typed in #inclusiveed and #inclusiveeducation, and I was surprised to find that there were no results for either of these searches. Afterwards, I typed in #autism and found one source that interested me, which was called The Autism Helper.

The Autism Helper is a website dedicated to empowering teachers, parents, administrators, and clinicians to support individuals with Autism. Since I want to specifically work with peoples with disabilities in the future, and I have background experience working with individuals with Autism, I thought that this would be a very helpful website for me!

Did any of you find these resources too? Can you recommend any other resources that I should follow on Feebly? I would really appreciate your input!

Thanks for reading!

EDTC 300 · Learning Project

Come On, Uke Can Do It!

Welcome to the beginning of my learning project! I have decided to embark on a journey to learn how to play the ukulele.

Photo Credit: wuestenigel Flickr via Compfight cc

When I was little I used to play piano, but it definitely was not something that I enjoyed and I quit when I was very young. Then I turned toward tenor drumming, which is a type of drum found in a pipe band. Although I no longer compete in tenor drumming, I am still teaching this instrument to younger students through the Conservatory of Performing Arts. In high school I was a part of the Senior Choir, and would occasionally play percussion for our performances. Now that I am no longer playing any instrument or singing, I want to reignite my passion for music by learning to play the ukulele using only online resources!

Here are a few, of many, reasons why I thought that I should learn to play the ukulele:

  1. I have two perfectly good ukulele’s lying around in my house that are begging to be played!
  2. I have extremely small hands, which would work perfectly with this mini-guitar-like instrument.
  3. I love the sound of the ukulele.
  4. Playing this instrument would allow me to combine my love of singing (even though I am not very good at singing) with a musical instrument.
  5. I can take this instrument anywhere with me because it is so small.
  6. Learning this instrument is something that I am genuinely interested in and passionate about, which makes me motivated to record my learning process with you!

I have tinkered with playing ukulele previously, and I am familiar with a few basic chords. Since I can play generic chords, my goal for this project is to learn a few songs and be able to perform them with very few mistakes. I am going to ambitiously say that I am going to learn one song per week! This will turn out to be five songs total. We will see if I can accomplish this goal or not! I have been collecting a list of a few songs I am hoping to learn if I can find helpful corresponding resources to teach me these specific songs. This is not the definite list of the songs, only a few that I am considering:

My general plan to tackle each individual song is to:

  1. Find sheet music for the specific song.
  2. Learn the strumming pattern.
  3. Learn the chords.
  4. Practice the transitions from chord to chord.
  5. Combine the strumming pattern and chords line by line.
  6. Play the song as a whole.
  7. Add in the singing.
  8. Practice, practice, practice!

Hopefully by the end of this project I have learned to play five songs on the ukulele! Not only is this project teaching me how to play the ukulele, but it is also forcing me to go out of my comfort zone and sing. That being said, my main focus is to learn the ukulele. Maybe my next project will be to learn how to sing using online resources!

I hope you will follow along with my ukulele journey. Feel free to comment any songs that you think I should consider learning! Thanks for reading!

Blog Posts · EDTC 300

Introduction to Educational Technology

Introduction

Hi there! My name is Brenna Smith and I am finishing my third year in the education program at the University of Regina and going into my pre-internship next year! Although I like to think of myself as somewhat savvy with technology, I know that my skills can definitely be improved and refined. One of my goals during this class is to learn how to best utilize technology in the classroom so that I can incorporate these skills into my pre-internship and internship. I look forward to transferring my personal technology skills into classroom technology skills. If you want to follow along with my education technology journey, feel free to follow my personal Twitter account!

What is my relationship to blogging?

Photo Credit: Rawpixel Ltd Flickr via Compfight cc

Hmm… This is definitely a tough question for me. By nature I am a very indecisive person, which makes writing difficult. I feel like I can never concisely share all the ideas that I want to share! However, one thing I love about blogging is that you can revisit your posts, edit, make changes, and update them. Additionally, in comparison to a formal paper, blogs give you the opportunity to share more of your individual voice and personality. This class is a perfect opportunity to play with the outline, design, content, and structure of my blog and blog posts. I want to find my rhythm as a blogger, and be able to present my personalized e-portfolio to my readers!