Coding with Microbit

This week, I decided to try out a different program called microbit. Although it is similar to scratch, it has the benefit of being able to switch to javascript which shows the actual coding that is happening. This feature helps me to understand the relationship between the blocks and the written code. 

Similar to the module that we completely last week on scratch, I created another game using step-by-step instructions. This was called “rock, paper scissors“. There were many other lessons to choose from to program the microbit however you want, as well as a section for educators that contains curriculum materials and resources to teach students. 

For the most part, the instructions to the lesson were easy to follow. However, because it was not the most descriptive and mainly showed where to put the blocks through pictures, it took me some time to find which blocks to use. There was one section where I had to create a new block that wasn’t already provided for me, so I spent a while trying to figure this out as the instructions did not state to do this. Overall, I had fun with this program and it’s a great way for students to use their creativity and develop skills in coding to make different games and animations. Click here to watch a video of us playing the game we created!

Password: microbit


Final Ukelele Growth

My feedback on my mid-semester video was to find a continuous strumming pattern. At first I thought that although there was a slight pause, my strumming pattern was continuous. It wasn’t until I looked at the video with this in mind and realized there was a noticeable pause.

After that I went in search of new strumming patterns that were more continuous. I came across the “island strum” which is down, down, up, up, down, up. Before I used the strumming pattern of down down, PAUSE, up, down, up. In theory this strumming change was minor, as it only added an up strum where the pause was. However, in practice it felt as though I was starting all over again. I had to relearn the rhythm to find when I could match a word with a strum. Even still with weeks of practicing under my belt I still stumble sometimes because its a lot the be thinking of for such a long period of time. I have to focus on the words, the cords, and the strumming pattern, which are all different, at the same time. I find more and more that memorizing the words has aided me so I don’t have to focus on what I am singing as much. At first especially, I found I was almost singing the strumming pattern while the words seemed to slip out and somehow accompany the tune I was playing. With every day a get a little bit better, my strumming becomes more cohesive, I play faster, and I stumble less. Here is my final video, I am still not perfect as no one is. However, I am proud of what I have accomplished.

The password is: Education (cap sensitive)

Question #9: My greatest professional strength as an educator who will teach music is my ability to stay on the beat and understand rhythm. This is due to my previous experience as a dancer because I always had to make sure I was dancing to the beat of the music. I can use this strength to teach other students how to stay on the beat. I can use my knowledge of dance to creatively integrate rhythm in the classroom in a more expansive way. For example, I could have students make up dances to the rhythm of songs or even show examples of dancers who keep to the beat of the music, as it may be a good visual for some students to understand.

Question #10: When I think about myself as a future educator teaching music, I see myself using some of the songs and activities we learned in class to engage the class in more creative ways. I really enjoyed when we read a picture in class and made a soundboard for it. I always knew music was an important aspect in movies but this was built upon when we had to make up our own music to a static picture or symbol. Another thing I can do to engage students is use a song to hook the class into a topic at the beginning of a unit. For example, before learning about the environment the class could learn an earth day song that teaches about respecting the earth and introduces how to recycle. Likewise, in an earlier class a song about the rainbow can be sung to reinforce which colours are in a rainbow in a way that will stick with the children.

Question #11: My greatest area of growth during this year/course has been in the area of reading to understand notes and note theory. Prior to this class, I had little experience in understanding how notes corresponded with beats and rhythm. Now I am able to read rudimentary sheet music which enables me to know the key that songs are played and sung. This could help me in the classroom by allowing me to find which key to start the song. I can now confidently teach the basics of note theory with phrases like Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge and FACE.

Distributed Learning: Learning From a Distance

Distributed learning, otherwise known as distance learning is for learning when being present is not an option. It’s a form of multi-access learning that creates a more flexible learning environment to suit the needs of more students. For example, students with anxiety and health issues, or those living in rural areas may be unable to attend classes face to face. If the teacher has a closed modality in their classroom it becomes harder to keep up with class work.

Here’s telepresence robot, a great alternative for learning at a distance. Not only can the student video in but also move around and communicate with his surroundings.

Permission obtained from patron(s) in photo

Personally, I never experienced distributed learning until coming to UVIC. In my entire time from kindergarten to grade 12 there was never the opportunity to participate in the learning environment unless I was present. This was a closed system where everything that happened was within the walls of the school. It all changed when I came to university. A new way of connected learning was established for me to learn through. Platforms like Coursespaces allowed for a connection between class and home. I could receive assignments, complete, and submit them anywhere in the world as long as I had internet access. Another way this platform establishes class learning abroad is through blog posts. They allow for an online class discussion at a distance. I think distributed learning is ideal in this new age of technology. Every student has access to some form of technology and can utilize it beyond the walls of the class. It makes it possible to conference in to important lectures if away or sick, or unable to attend for any reason. It expands the possibilities of learning and allows for so much more flexibility to reach students that were never able to be reached before. When I was going through school teaching was classroom based. Even if resources were used online they did not translate into the world outside of the classroom. Everything was done face to face and it was hard to miss school for any reason. I think if teachers decided to strictly use face to face modality in the classroom and don’t post anything online, it makes it hard to access resources on what’s been missed. This modality is less inclusive and flexible and, as a result, some students would be unable to complete the requirements.

Distributed learning increases numbers in schools, while also meeting the needs of students. I think with the technological shift we are seeing in society it only makes sense to integrate it into the classroom. This shift in modality reaches more students and creates more avenues for success in a variety of situations that will continue to happen to students in the school system. Now place-based limitations are no longer a barrier, whether family obligations, travel, health issues, or other reasons. Students can receive the flexibility they require to receive a good education.

Eating on a Budget

Lately I have been noticing that with all the business of life, food has taken a backseat. I have eaten out lots in the past few weeks and realized this is very inefficient for my food budget. That is why recently I have started to try and make meals that I have previously bought. I thought back to meals that would be easy to recreate. For example, on the UVIC campus I purchased a wrap with cajan chicken, alfalfa sprouts, cheese, honey mustard, peppers, and spinach. I went to Thrifty’s and purchased all these ingredients, substituting honey mustard for dijon. Instead of spending $7 on one wrap I spent around $10 that will last me for at least 2-3 wraps. Long term, this is much more cost efficient and fairly easy to do. I am still trying to perfect the order in which they layer the wrap but that will come with more practice.

Another item that I took home to recreate was the quinoa salad that I also purchased on campus occasionally. This recipe included peppers, green onion, cilantro, and quinoa. I bought all of these ingredients and made a big batch. This way I could meal prep for the rest of the week by having multiple servings of it already made.

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons

Week 6: Technology with Children

Ask yourself….what is social media worth to you? Would you spend $1 day to use it? What about $10?

This week Jesse Miller came in to discuss mediated reality. Within the 2 hours talk he touched on many diverse topics within social media and technology. Below I have highlighted a few of these topics and some key ideas.

One interesting idea that he opened with is the negative view technology, specifically social media, has from parents. To them, their children are always on their phone during family movie night or gatherings. From here, we were shown biased articles that were written by mothers for mothers. This the article was written and posted to Pinterest, where we found of that this is the demographic for users. However, these fears are misplaced. This lead to a discussion on biased information and the fake news that society was not prepared for. This shift was completely unpredicted. I think it is very important to educate children on how to see through information and sort through all of the false information. A problem today is that any idea or notion can be confirmed for people because anyone can post anything. It self-confirms beliefs that may not necessarily be true.

For me the biggest takeaway is that although technology has it downfalls, it can be harnessed for incredible things. Even though some use it for mindless streaming, gaming, or seeing how many followers they have. It can be used in prosocial ways, for leadership and learning outcomes. Moreover, even for things such as gaming it is subjective. Prior to this, I thought that gaming was harmful for children and induced more aggression. I now know that I did not have enough information to inform that belief, it was just an assumption that over time became more of a firm belief. This class taught me that gaming can teach important skills such as mathematic, planning, and communication. I think it is also important because, as a teacher, I need to be engaging for my students and that involves creating lessons that are based around cultural preferences. An interesting thought was brought up. There is a reason why children do not check their phones in the middle of the soccer field during their game, but they check it in class. It’s simply not as engaging. Students enjoy gaming and it seems that it is a big part of our culture. Even for students that do not necessarily play games it could become a new avenue within their interests. I also saw how effective gaming was for youth. It became a positive outlet for students. Another factor that was brought up was that Vancouver is becoming a huge hub for technology. In response to this, more people will populate the surrounding areas for more affordable housing. Therefore, it is highly likely this new generation of children that we will be teaching will have technology as a big part of their world.

Children we are going to be dealing with don’t know a world without netflix, cellphones and youtube. How do we as educators mend that and show that we are part of that world. Currently if you were to go into a class and say Ice bucket challenge, students would have no idea what that was. If you said fort night dance, they would all stand up and start doing it! and it will keep changing. I think it’s imperative to stay updated on the newest trends so activities in the classroom can remain relevant and engaging.

Technology as a Teacher

A large portion of the speech was based on teachers and their use of technology and social media. Ideally, one should use a pseudonym to minimize being found online by students. However, through the connections within sites it becomes increasingly harder to not be found. For a teacher there is 3 audiences for social media. First is the public, the parents, and all media should be reflected on how the school district wants technology to be used. Secondly, is the staff. An important thought was said that not all your colleagues will be your friend so even a personal account should be moderated. Lastly is the students, I know from personal experience that if there was news of finding a picture of my teacher while I was in school, it would have been a big deal. Students find pretty much anything amusing, so social media even at a personal level should be kept professional.

It is also crucial, in this age where everyone is accessible by text, not to message children but instead to communicate to parents through emails. This keeps everything to one platform so all parents see it and there is less confusion. Moreover, teachers cannot friend students on social media while the student is still in the education system.

One thing I was unaware of was the how a teacher must receive permission for all media related things in the classroom. It must be brought to the attention of the administrator. This is so everything is transparent and informed on. Before learning this information I assumed it would be ok to create an instagram account solely for a project in a classroom as long as it was private. However, now I see that

It’s crazy to think that this is all new territory for us. This is the first real generation where looking at media is part of the hiring process. That every act that has been done is documented and will follow you for the rest of your life. I wonder if students will embrace the fact that their lives are all online too? Maybe it will gradually become a societal norm so no-one will look at my childhood photos that are online and we can all live in a less judged world. Or maybe we will all have to just learn from our mistakes.

Week 7: Sketch Notes, Google Classroom, and Twine

Sketch notes are ideas not art. It consists of visual notes, handwriting, drawings, and visual elements such as arrows. It is similar to a mind map. Sketch noting is good to use because it connects meaning to words which helps recall information later. A study in Waterloo showed that participants that merely copied down word for word notes had a recall of 30% whereas participants that summarized information through shorthanded words and drawings had a recall of 70%. This is because writing is not as fast as typing and forces the participant to summarize which takes more effort to understand. Sketch notes engage the whole mind, verbal and visual! It is a way to take notes in a fun, fulfilling way that allows for creativity. It taps into the visual language and helps students concentration.

The key to sketch notes is to do whatever makes sense personally. This includes the images and verbal cues needed, the fonts, and the pattern in which all the information is organized into.

We also used Google Classrooms. It was my first time using this resource and I found it to be incredibly helpful. I can only think of the possibilities this platform has for classrooms in the future because of the increasing use with technology in schools. It’s an efficient way to share slides, documents, assignments for specific topics within an entire class.

The last platform we worked with this week was Twine. This is an amazing platform that can be used in multiple capacities. It is ideal for creating choose your own adventure stories, or for helping someone choose a product that best suits them. For example, to narrow down specifics of what is desired in a laptop, someone could follow the path to the one that suits their needs best. Students could also use it for other creative outlets such as organizing a DnD campaign. Some key concepts to remember when working with Twine is that the project is stored with cookies. This means that if someone wipes the cookies on a computer all work will be lost. It is important to export the project to a hard drive, like google drive, or email it. Another thing is that it works well with firefox and chrome but not with safari or internet explorer.

This week we worked more in depth with to create a game. I discovered modules that can be dowloaded with checklists for how to create lots of different games. I started with the basic backdrop and the uncoded “sprite,” which is the character that can be coded.

From there, I followed the instructions for what codes should go where. It goes some-what in depth to outline what the code will do. I thought this was a great way to learn more about coding instead of self-discovery because I could see more advanced, multi-step codes and understand how it works. For Example, to add a timer to the side I needed the block “wait 0.1 sec” above the “go up by 0.1.” If the waiting block was not there the time went up significantly faster by 0.1 because it was not waiting 0.1 seconds like normal time would. The game I worked on consists of a boat that travels along the water wherever you move your mouse. The goal is to bring the boat to the island without hitting the wooden structure. It was cool to see the changes that were being made to the game just by adding more steps and controls to the code.

Although the instructions that were given for the module were clear and easy to follow, they seemed to be missing key points and I ran into some complications half-way through when creating a “hit” boat. When the boat goes through the obstacle and hits a wooden structure, it should break into pieces. I created a second boat and gave it a “broken” appearance, however it did not work when we hit the wooden structure. The instructions for this part were vague and so I were unsure whether or not to add controls for the “normal” boat as well as the “broken” boat. After much time and thought, I thought it was best to move on and add more features to the game.

Some of these features I added include a timer to keep track of how long it takes to move the boat to the island, speed bumps to give the boat a bit of a boost, and seaweed to make the boat spin around. Adding these features made the game more fun and complex.

Overall, completing this module was a great learning experience and a lot of fun!! Not only did we learn more in depth about coding patterns but we also had to use our problem solving skills.

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons