Blog #9 – Case Study

This week in seminar we talked about three different case studies in small groups, and then discussed as a larger group afterwards.

Three things that I learned were:

  1.  Unexpected things will happen while we are teaching, and sometimes there is nothing that we can do about it. These case studies really opened my eyes to the kinds of issues that really can exist within schools, as well as how we might address them.
  2.  That teachers will address problems in different ways. Based on the conversation that we had we could all agree that each case study posed a specific problem, but couldn’t all agree on how to deal with the problems.
  3.  The importance of making sure that students aren’t on their phones during lockdown drills. I’d never thought of cell phones being the one dead giveaway that students are in a classroom.

Two connections that I made were:

  1. When we were talking about accessibility and how people who are differently- abled are treated, it reminded me of this summer when my boyfriend was in a wheelchair and how he was treated, and how inaccessible many places in our community are.
  2.  The idea of a teacher’s personal life affecting their professional life and how students see them. In one case study a teacher was put on the news for drinking and driving. This reminded me of when I worked at a restaurant next to my high school, and how after school often times a whole group of my teachers would come and drink in front of me while I was working directly after school, and how it impacted my own opinion of them as professionals.

One question that I still have is:

In all of the recent mass/school active-shooter situations I have heard of and read about, most people used their cell phones to text loved ones and keep them updated, and even used their phones to say final goodbyes to family. How do I, as a teacher, tell a student they are not allowed to update their family, knowing that if things turn bad it could very well be their last chance to speak to their family?


Blog #8 – Teacher Identity

This week we talked about the idea of teacher identity.

Three things that I learned were:

  1. The STF Teacher’s Project. This project showcases teachers in Saskatchewan and how they are making a difference in their schools and communities through a documentary-style video. These can be used as resources for teachers who are looking for new ways to help their students and communities.
  2. The different components that make up teacher identity in relation to policy discourses, including how we are trained as teachers, funding, curriculum, funding, and accountability policies.
  3. The idea of “teaching in the undertow”. I thought as a teacher that teaching only from curriculum was something that was not only expected of me but the best way to do it to avoid any issues. However, its clear that teaching off-curriculum (as long as curriculum is still covered) and engaging with my students in ways that aren’t all about testing and assessment are going to be the more meaningful classroom experiences for them.


Two connections that I made were:

  1. Miss Yerkes’ notion of “feeling like a teacher”. I agree that when I dress a certain way, usually with heels I feel more like a teacher than if I was wearing something less professional or where my heels didn’t click down the hallway, and that this in turn contributes to how I act as a teacher.
  2.  Teachers in the media. In my own life I can say absolutely that my own teaching style sometimes reflects that of teachers I’ve seen in the media or teachers I’ve had before. Everyone wants to strive to be the exciting, Jack Black-type of teacher and avoid being the Severus Snape type, but I think that in the way that the character themselves are portrayed, it takes away from the real lessons that they are teaching and we don’t see their planning or curriculum.

One question that I still have is: As we grow as teachers, how much do we need to focus on separating our personal identity from our teaching identity, and when is it okay to let those two merge?


Blog # 7 – the STF

This week in lecture we spoke about the STF and what it does for teachers, and in seminar we talked about the prison to school pipeline.

Three things that I learned were:

  1.  That the STF Executive is comprised completely of teachers and former teachers. I think that this is really important because people who have taught or are teaching have the kind of insight into the lives of teachers that can’t be found elsewhere. These teachers make decisions for all teachers in Saskatchewan.
  2. The Code of Collective Interests. I didn’t know that it existed or what it was comprised of, but now I know what are and aren’t considered to be respectful actions towards the Federation.
  3. Resisting the criminalization of school behaviour. I have never really seen this as a concept itself, but it makes sense to me to be 100% conscious of how, if at all I am punishing students as a teacher and how my behaviour might directly affect that student in a way that sets them up to be sent through the school to prison pipeline.


Two connections that I made were:

  1. The school to prison pipeline. I learned about this in an English class and learned about the ways in which our educational systems in North America contribute to incarceration. We had a guest speaker come in who was a part of that pipeline who had been released from prison and returned back to university later on, and this reminded me of his story.
  2. The STF’s Code of Professional Ethics. I learned about this in ECS 100 where we talked about what would be expected of us as future teachers

One question that I still have is:

How do we as teachers strike ethically, knowing that it results in the sacrifice of some students’ education?


Blog #6 – Hidden Curriculum and Reproduction Theory

This week in lecture we talked about hidden curriculum and reproduction theory.

Three things that I learned were:

  1. The idea of Reproduction Theory. This is a theory that argues against the ideas of schools providing equal opportunity, but rather schools seek to reproduce the “status quo” like a factory.
  2. The idea of the “culture of power”. This is the notion that those in the dominant culture are the ones who have power.
  3. Anyon’s idea of connections between types of schools, the type of work that is done and the control that the students have over themselves. I never thought of he differences between these types of schools and the connection that has to the expectations that exist within the school.

Two connections I made were:

  1. When we were talking about the culture of power, it made me think of white privilege, especially when it was mentioned that those with the power are usually those who are unaware of it. A lot of white people that I know are upset at the notion of white privilege because they don’t feel as though they hold any power because of their race.
  2. Correspondence theory and the idea that schools don’t provide equal opportunities for all students and continues to push the status quo, that students who start out poor often end up poor. This reminds me of students that I have known since kindergarten and where they are now. Those who were affluent then remain affluent and have more opportunities as adults than those who started school with a lower SES.

One question I still have is:

How can we make classrooms equitable for all?


Blog #6 – History of Education in Saskatchewan

This week we talked about the history of education in Saskatchewan, as well as the constructions of school systems.

Three things that I learned are:

  1. The idea of teachers and schools being behind one of four Philosophies of Education: perennialism, essentialism, progressivism and reconstructivism. I thought that this was an interesting concept because it made me think about teachers I’ve had and what their own educational philosophies were, as well as what my own might be. I learned that these four philosophies can be merged and each teacher can have a strong mix of any of the four as their own philosophies.
  2. The idea of Normal Schools. I had no idea that these had existed as the first kind of professional teacher training in Saskatchewan and that prior to their opening, teachers had no kind of teacher-training.
  3. That the first ever teacher-strike in Saskatchewan occurred in 1921 in Moose Jaw.  Despite the strike being short, the victory was felt by the teachers to be a victory because it allowed them to represent themselves.

Two connections I made are:

  1.  Education as a political act. I have seen this time and time again in my own education. I strongly believe this is because of the changing political and social climate in North America in the past fifteen years. I was in the sixth grade when Barack Obama was inaugurated and  our entire elementary school sat in the gym and watched on the big projector screen as he became president. Throughout high school many political topics were spoken about, and as the LGBTQ+ discourse began to really open up such as with the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, so too did the opportunity open in our classrooms to learn about that community specifically and diversity. This can be said about LGBTQ rights, All Lives Matter, gun control and mass shootings and so much more. As our world changes, certainly the burden is on us as teachers to educate our students about our changing world.
  2. Hidden curriculum. This I think goes hand-in-hand with the politicizing of the classroom. We encourage schools to have gender-neutral bathrooms and rooms for smudging, and these things (though both are very positive) suggest acceptance of specific communities within the school, and therefore the school must have a positive feeling about these communities to include them, in turn influencing the way students think about things. Today we might have arguments about gender-neutral washrooms because they are new to us, but in the future they’ll be the norm and students won’t think twice about them.

One question I still have is:

Is hidden curriculum ethical, and where should the line be drawn?


Blog #5 – Diverse Perspectives

This week we talked about diverse perspectives on development and learning in class. We looked at both the idea of the learning spirit as well as the reconceptionalist theory.

Three things that I learned are:

  1. The idea of the Indigenous Renaissance, as described by Marie Batiste in her article ‘Nourishing the Learning spirit: Living our way to new thinking’. This is the idea that there is a “resurgence of Indigenous knowledge”, which began with the first generation of Indigenous peoples to obtain University Degrees in the 1960’s.
  2.  That the idea of reconceptualization when looking at different learning theories is a theory in itself. This is the idea that no one theory should or can be applied to all children.
  3. Canella’s Assumptions in Educational discourse, which include focusing on the necessity of learning, movement towards logic and advancement, certain knowledge as more important or legitimate and the inferiority of people within education.

Two Connections I made were:

  1. The assumption that there are certain types of knowledge which are more legitimate. In high school I remember certain subjects being requirements for graduation such as a math, a science and an English requirement, but subjects like woodshop, physical education and law were not requirements. This gives the suggestion of some classes being more important, or “basic” knowledge.
  2.  The Reconceptualist’s theory. I connect to this because I also strongly believe that there is no one theory that can blanket every child and their way of thinking. In my own journey as a teacher one of my main takeaways has always been that students learn and develop differently from one another and in many different ways.

One question I still have is:

How can we challenge the assumptions put forth by Canella and perhaps look to provide a discourse that is more inclusive?


Blog #4 – Culture and Diversity

This past two classes we  have talked about social and emotional well-being, as well as culture and diversity in classrooms. In seminar, we did the jigsaw activity which allowed us all to hear different stories about mental health and have a conversation about it. In lecture we talked about culture and diversity, which opened up good conversations about “what would you do” moments featured in the text books.

Three things that I learned were:

  1. That there is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and cortisol levels in the brain, which in turn can also affect grades. I thought it was interesting and made a lot of sense because children from low SES households often have more stress than other students, and often compare themselves to others in all kinds of ways.
  2. Banks’ Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education. This includes content integration, an equity pedagogy, prejudice and bias reduction and awareness, a process of knowledge construction and the empowerment of social structure and school culture. I never thought of multicultural education as a system, but the dimensions all connect in different ways and balance each other.
  3. The idea of tracking students and it’s effect on their socialization. This is when low SES students are placed in specific classes based on assumed ability and are taught differently. This could also happen for high SES students who are expected to do better.


Two connections I made were:

  1. Tracking. This happened to me and a few other girls at my elementary school often, because it was assumed we were affluent and smarter than others in our grade. ( I was a low SES student at a very high SES school, most students were assumed to be affluent). We were often put in a different English class or math groups (I was really bad at math, I don’t know why I was ever put in an advanced math group), and this continued into 7th and 8th grade. In 7th grade I moved schools and was placed in a class with about ten others from two classes that met once a week to do independent study. In grade 8 I moved again and was placed in advanced English, but also advanced math because it was presumed I was very good at both ( again I was really bad at math). This pulled me out of my regular class and those of us in the groups were questioned by the other students because they didn’t think we were any smarter than them, and it created some tension in the higher grades. Luckily my high school had no AP classes so I was never singled out.
  2.  When we spoke about students in class who come from a low SES household. This hit home because when I was in third grade my mom went back to  school, and it was just her and my two sisters and I. I went to an elementary school which was located in a prestigious neighborhood and many of my classmates had parents over 40 who were affluent, and my mother was in her late twenties as full-time student, working part time as a bartender. Needless to say I did not have the same kind of home life as my friends, and I often had to watch my sisters. However, contrary to what we learned this week, and despite having both high cortisol levels displayed through mental health issues and coming from a low SES household, I was able to control one thing and that was my grades. So by watching my mother go through school I think that helped me push myself to get the same kinds of grades as my friends and excel.

One question I still have is  if I was able to push myself to succeed despite my low SES standing and correlating mental health issues, why don’t other student have that same drive, and what can I do as a teacher to support students who may be feeling as I did, but don’t have that drive?


Blog #3 – Social and Cognitive Views

This week we talked about social and cognitive views of learning and motivation. Three things that I learned are:

  1.  The different perspectives of learning and their correlating theorists. This includes B.F. Skinner’s behaviourist perspective which talks about rewards and punishments in learning, J. Anderson’s Cognitivist perspective which talks about memory and reactivating information previously learned, and Piaget and Vygotsky’s constructivist perspectives which says that learning should be scaffolded, whether it be individual or collaborative.
  2.  The meaning of self efficacy, which is the belief in one’s self to succeed at a task, and it’s connection to learning.
  3. The importance of self-regulation in learning and the positive effects it can have on grades.

Two connections which I made were:

  1.  The ability for students to succeed more when they are self regulating. I found this very interesting and connected to it because I’ve always felt as though “doing my own thing” when it comes to studying or taking notes has taken me farther in my understanding of concepts than suggestions or regulations.
  2.  Bandura’s idea that the greater the self-efficacy the greater task initiation, and persistence the greater the likelihood of success. When I have multiple things to do such as study for different tests or complete multiple assignments, I will always begin with what I know I will understand more, and what I know I can complete with no problem. These are often tasks that I don’t procrastinate, but tasks which I believe are harder or that I’m unable to complete I will push off to avoid the feeling of struggling through it.

One question I still have:

My sister’s and I grew up in the same household, with the same family, and often the same teachers and peers. While I am often confident in my work and know I can succeed, my youngest sister often doesn’t.  If these are influences for self-efficacy, why is it that us three sisters seem to have different levels of self-efficacy?


Blog #2, Strength and Resilience

This week we talked about  social and moral development in students. Three thing that I learned are that girls are generally bigger than boys during middle years, that there is a difference between authoritative and authoritative parenting styles as well as how to report suspected neglect or abuse.

Two connections I made are:

  1. The definitions of parenting styles. These definitions helped me to understand and connect to my own parents and how I was raised, reflecting on their values and how their parenting has effected me throughout my life beyond them.
  2. The idea of body image in classrooms as an intimidating topic. As we were speaking about students who lose weight rapidly, I thought of myself and how this often occurs and how I felt in high school about it. I also reflected on what was taught in my high school about body image and healthy lifestyles.

One thing I still would like to know is how a teacher can fit in in the parenting role, and where the line is in that respect between teacher and parent, and how far to go beyond that line.


Blog #1 – Cognitive Development

This week we read and talked about cognitive development in class. We also spoke about Bronfenbrenner and his Social Context of Development, which is the total setting or situation that surrounds and interacts with students. It includes internal and external pressures that interact with the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions to shape development and learning. I thought that looking at this model was important for helping us as future teachers to understand the context in which a child develops, and how that has an effect on the way that they learn and cognitive development. I thought that the chapter about cognitive development in the textbook was very interesting as well. My partner has an acquired brain injury, and its personally very interesting to read about the way in which the brain adapts an learns in that context. It also helps us as future teachers to understand exactly why a student may not be understanding something that others do. This ability to look at cognitive function is a tool which we can use to help students by tailoring our teaching style to meet their needs. However, as teachers we can not be so focused on the brain-based aspect of learning, as we will lose the big picture running around trying to understand the exact cognitive processes of each student. For example, if a student is falling behind because their dog keeps eating their homework and they think its funny and continue to let it happen without telling anyone, we as teachers might believe that the student just isn’t understanding the information and focus on the cognitive aspect, where we just needed to ask a few more questions to find the answer. Therefore, these tools are useful as insight, but might not be looked at as the sole resource for understanding why a student might be behind.

Using the Tyler Rationale

In the third chapter of  Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns by Michael Shiro, the Tyler Rationale is used to help readers understand the idea of social efficiency. The Tyler Rationale is a set of four questions presented by Ralph Tyler:

  1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? (What  kind of people we’re looking to produce)
  2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? (What do students need to get there?)
  3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Assessment)

I can definitely find ways in which the Tyler rationale was used in my own schooling. The idea of what educational purposes the school should seek to attain can be seen as the curriculum – the mandatory guidelines for what students will (not should) learn throughout a school year. The curriculum exists, in a way because we as teachers in Saskatchewan look to produce a particular type of person/learner through the outcomes. The experiences can be seen as the work that we give students to do in order to reach those goals (outcomes) set by the curriculum.  The organization can be found in lesson and unit planning. Lastly, indicators found in the curriculum which summative assessment is based off of lets us know whether or not a student is learning in the way we want them to.

There are both negatives and positives to this approach to schooling.

One negative is that when teachers are trying to squeeze the whole curriculum into “100” hours of class work and are focused so much on meeting the outcomes and indicators, they can very often miss teaching and learning opportunities that fall outside of the curriculum, but that are still beneficial. It is very limiting to have a structure for learning in which we are told what to teach, which can lead to teacher stress.

However, it would be wrong of me to say that having a guideline isn’t insanely helpful when we are teaching. I couldn’t imagine walking into a classroom with no lesson plan, and no outcomes, indicators or objectives to help guide me in my teaching. “Winging it” could lead to some serious problems – timing,  not to mention (the negative effect that seems to never go away), teacher stress. Not having a unit plan means that every day is a free for all, and I personally don’t think I could teach effectively if that were the case.

Thankfully our curriculum offers us some room. We are told what students must learn, but we are not told how we must teach it to them. We can choose various texts, videos, resources, themes etc. that suit our students and our classroom needs and interests. I believe that while in some areas (cough cough, Social Studies) our curriculum might need an update, we as teachers in Saskatchewan are lucky to have a system that guides us, but doesn’t loom over us, allowing us the room to make decisions for our own classrooms.

Shiro, Michael (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns, (2nd ed). SAGE.

Exploring the Problem of Common Sense

What does common sense look like in schools?

According to Kumashiro, “commonsense” in schools differs from region to region, but is the subconscious way of thinking about schools and how they work. In Canada, for example we know that school begins in September and ends in June, and that school runs roughly from 8:30 am until roughly 3:30 pm. The provincial government mandates the curriculum, and teachers are expected to teach what they think students need to know based on these guidelines. These are just some of our commonsense ways of thinking about school.

So, why is it important for us to pay attention to “commonsense” in schools?

As Kumashiro says, “we do not often question certain practices and perspectives because they are masked or couched in concepts to which we often feel societal pressure to conform, including such concepts as tradition, professionalism, morality and normalcy”.  This “commonsense” knowledge of schooling sticks with us from the time we are in Kindergarten, to the time we step into our own classrooms to teach, and so oftentimes we forget to question our own ways of thinking about school, and what could make it a better place for all learners.

I think that Kumashiro is right in saying that it is important to think about and question the “commonsense”. That new ways of thinking can be beneficial in schools, especially so for those who have traditionally been oppressed by “commonsense” thinking in educational institutions. As teachers who set out to teach in an explicitly non-oppressive ways, it is important for us to question the tradition and culture of schools in order to meet the needs of different kinds of learners without using oppressive tactics.

Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI

All teaching, all learning

This semester, we were asked to comment on the posts of our classmates, whether it be on Twitter, the Google Community or on our blogs.

The purpose of this is help each other through the use of technology by commenting and giving our honest feedback and commentary on what our classmates were doing.

Here are just a few on the conversations I had, comments I made, and comments made on my own posts by others throughout the semester.



On Twitter:

On the Google Community:

A huge thank-you to everyone who gave feedback or made comments on my posts this semester! You all rock!!

Here is a video of all of the contributions I made to other students’ posts, featuring an unfortunate (but free!) watermark:

These conversations helped me grow as a student and educator by pushing my thinking further. I was able to do this for others as well by giving feedback and asking questions, and in a way we formed our own little Professional Learning Network. Luckily enough, the internet doesn’t end after this semester, so our PLN can continue to learn and grow together as we develop professionally.

Summary of Learning

I  really can’t believe this semester is coming to an end. Maybe it’s the eight-week course thing, or the fact that I had a ton of fun with this class that it doesn’t really feel like this is my last post of the semester! But hey, all good things must come to an end.

Thanks to everyone who followed along with me on this journey! This semester I learned more about technology in the classroom than I thought was even possible and even more than that I learned about myself, and my own preferences in regards to classroom technology. And thanks to my amazing EDTC300 classmates who contributed to my learning by providing resources, comments and more online. You guys really are rockstar pre-service teachers!

This semester I learned about amazing resources and extensions like Google Read and Write, Screencastify, Twitter, Tweetdeck, Feedly, and I learned how to be the facilitator of these resources for students. Below is my Summary of Learning video, which I hope you all enjoy!

Thanks again everyone, it really has been a blast!

Wrapping it Up – ASL in Six Weeks

I chose to learn American Sign Language for a number of reasons. As an educator, American Sign Language will help me communicate with colleagues, parents and students who may be deaf or hard of hearing. My partner also has family members who are deaf, and I wanted to be able to fully communicate with them. I also work in the service industry, and want to be able to accommodate any customer I might encounter to the best of my ability. Simply put, I want to open my lines of communication and be as inclusive as possible as a person communicating in a world with others.

My Goals

When I began the ASL learning project, I set out to use lifeprint.com, and complete lessons 1-15.

Lets all take a minute to stop and laugh.

I had no idea how difficult it would be to learn American Sign Language in six weeks, and in setting that goal not only did I overestimate my ability, but I underestimated the difficulty of such an important skill, and the ability of all those who use ASL to communicate every day. After the first week, I decided to see just how far I could progress myself, without setting a goal for the end of the semester so that I could learn at my own pace, and not pressure myself to learn too much too quickly.

Technology Used

The first website I tried to use for learning ASL was lifeprint.com, which features the American Sign Language University.

 I didn’t really like the layout of the website or the order of the lessons, so before I ever used it for a lesson, I found two new resources: ASL THAT and signlanguage101.com.

I really liked ASL THAT because of the simplicity of the videos, such as the video I used to learn the Alphabet.

via YouTube

What I liked a lot about the signlanguage101.com videos, were that they were full, comprehensive lessons, and the teacher always included language tips and tips about deaf culture, so that you weren’t just learning basic ASL, but learning how and why certain rules existed, such as in this video I used to learn gestures.

via YouTube

As I continued on, I started to branch out and find more resources, such as Signing Savvy, an online English-ASL dictionary, and Sign Language Blitz.

I also found great videos from the South Dakota School for the Deaf’s YouTube Channel, such as this one, that I used to learn adjectives.

via YouTube

Finally, the last resource I found is the one I wish I had found first, Rochelle Barlow’s website and YouTube Channel, which featured lessons from beginner to expert, and downloadable worksheets that help learners keep track of progress at home.

What I liked about the use of technology for this project was the fact that I was able to use many different resources of my choosing, and choose lessons that I felt that I wanted to do. I was able to skip any lessons I wanted, and learn any lessons I wanted. This helps make learning more personal and tailored for learners. I also loved being able to film myself each week and watch myself as I progressed. When I got bored, I could simply look around on Twitter and other online spaces to find new resources to use.


Week 1: Choosing ASL

  • A goal was set 
  • Resources were chosen 
  • Basic outline of my learning plan

Week 2: The Alphabet, Gestures and Body Language

  • The Alphabet (A-Z)
  • Yes/no, come on, car, swim, no way, whatever, I don’t know, what’s up, drink, house, key
  • Facial expressions

Week 3: Colours, Pronouns and Basic Phrases

  • Colours: red, blue, yellow, white, black, green, orange, pink, purple, tan, brown and grey 
  • Pronouns: he, she, them, they, it,  you, me, they, we, my, you, your, ours, myself, yourself, themselves, ourselves, someone, each other and other. 

Week 4: Everyday Signs and Verbs

  • Yes, no, maybe, good, want, don’t want, restroom, lights on, lights off, go, stop
  • Verbs: Eat, drink, jump, walk, run, sit, stand, sleep, sleep, fly, fly, cry, wake up, stop, pick up, push, pull, open, close, wash, kiss, throw, drop, hit, hit, cut, fall, hug, drive, turn around, kick, pour, pour. 

Week 5: Common Phrases, Adjectives and Basic Sentence Structure

  • Hello, goodbye, how are you, see you later, see you tomorrow, my name is, what time is it, yes, no, please, thank you, welcome, I’m fine, excuse me, be careful, good morning, good afternoon
  • Adjectives: Hot, cold, big, little, happy, sad, clean, dirty, broken, red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white, pink, brown, one, two, three, yucky, silly, soft, fast.
  • Sentence structure 

Week 6: Numbers and Animals

  • Numbers 1-30
  • Animals: Cat, dog, elephant, rabbit, bird, duck, fish, cow, monkey, bear

Wrapping it Up

So just how much did I learn in six weeks? Well to recap, to start with all I knew was a few letters of the alphabet, and by the end of six weeks, I had learned:

  • The Alphabet (A-Z)
  • Yes/no, come on, car, swim, no way, whatever, I don’t know, what’s up, drink, house, key
  • Facial expressions
  • Colours: red, blue, yellow, white, black, green, orange, pink, purple, tan, brown and grey 
  • Pronouns: he, she, them, they, it,  you, me, they, we, my, you, your, ours, myself, yourself, themselves, ourselves, someone, each other and other. 
  • Yes, no, maybe, good, want, don’t want, restroom, lights on, lights off, go, stop
  • Verbs: Eat, drink, jump, walk, run, sit, stand, sleep, sleep, fly, fly, cry, wake up, stop, pick up, push, pull, open, close, wash, kiss, throw, drop, hit, hit, cut, fall, hug, drive, turn around, kick, pour, pour. 
  • Hello, goodbye, how are you, see you later, see you tomorrow, my name is, what time is it, yes, no, please, thank you, welcome, I’m fine, excuse me, be careful, good morning, good afternoon
  • Adjectives: Hot, cold, big, little, happy, sad, clean, dirty, broken, red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white, pink, brown, one, two, three, yucky, silly, soft, fast.
  • Sentence structure 
  • Numbers 1-30
  • Animals: Cat, dog, elephant, rabbit, bird, duck, fish, cow, monkey, bear

They say that you are fluent in a language once you have one thousand words in your vocabulary, and while I’m quite far off, I can see it becoming a real possibility as I continue to study ASL. Is it as much as I would have liked to learn? No, but I’m just getting started, and I enjoy being able to go at my own pace. I can’t wait to continue learning ASL, and keeping my blog and Twitter up to date on my progress.

Thanks for joining me on this learning journey!





Learning ASL – The Fun Stuff

This week to finish off my learning project, I decided to learn some more basic, but important words in American Sign Language: numbers and animals!

I had already learned some of the numbers in previous weeks, but I really wanted to solidify my knowledge of numbers up to 30. I went back to the first YouTube video channel I tried, ASL THAT.

via YouTube

Here was my attempt after some practice:

One thing that I wasn’t crazy about when following along with this video was that it didn’t display the numbers in  on the screen, or say them out loud so it would have been difficult for someone who needs to pause the video to follow along.

After this, I decided for my final lesson that I would learn the signs for different animals. I decided to use another “First 100” video from the South Dakota School for the Deaf, “First 100 Animals”.

via YouTube

I really liked that each sign seemed to just focus on a characteristic of the animal (except for dog), which made the signs really easy to remember!

I really enjoyed the entire process of learning ASL, and will definitely keep working on it! Stay tuned for one more learning project post: the wrap up post, and follow me on Twitter to stay updated about what I’m learning next!

Coding the Colours of the Rainbow

For this week’s blog post we were asked to use one of the coding websites provided (Scratch, Hour of Code , Code Academy) to code a short project. I chose to use Hour of Code, which has a ton of different projects to choose from!

I decided to go for this really cool looking project called Street Artist, which runs on a coding website called Kano.

I started off with the tutorial, which was really user friendly and easy to follow along with!

I really liked the instructions at the top, because they would often say “Stop and read the code, what do you think will happen?”. They really want learners to understand why a command will do what it does. After I got to level 1, I continued on making a spray paint effect.

After I learned how to code the spray paint effect, I learned how to do it in a bunch of cool different ways, like a rainbow changing spray paint.

Finally I made it to the end and scored a sweet Street Artist Master Badge!

What I really enjoyed about the coding experience was that the instructions weren’t just there to guide learners, they were here to help learners understand coding on a deeper level by asking them questions about why certain codes will do certain things. I can absolutely see the benefit of teaching coding in schools. As technology in our world continues to advance, many more jobs are going to start appearing where coding is the focus. Coding itself is also a great way to have students think logically and carefully about each step that they’re taking, and why each step is so important!

Learning ASL – Common Phrases, Adjectives and Basic Sentence Structure

This week to continue my ASL journey, I finished the last half of signlanguage101.com‘s video, “Lesson 3: Everyday Signs and Common Phrases”

via Youtube

A good language tip that I learned from this video is that when you’re fingerspelling, it really doesn’t matter which hand you use!

From here, I moved on to the South Dakota School for the Deaf’s “100 Adjectives” video.

via YouTube

What was nice about this video was that I already knew some of the signs! I remembered learning the colours just a few weeks back, so this video really helped solidify that knowledge.

I also watched this video that I saw in the YouTube sidebar titled “Sign Language Sentences- The Basic Structure”. The video is by Rochelle Barlow, who I found out also has her own website and program for learning ASL.

Rochelle’s video was really insightful and helpful! Even though I’m still a beginner, these tips will really help me as I progress even after the Learning Project is done. She has a lot of other videos and resources, and even has a link in the description of this video to a page on her website where you can download worksheets.

I decided to try it out, and it asked for my e-mail address and first name so that the worksheets could be sent to me via e-mail.

I downloaded the worksheets, and honestly I wasn’t expecting much. Rochelle features a lot of free content on her website but I know that a lot of her content has to be paid for, so I was a bit worried that the free worksheets would’t be that great — but boy was I wrong.

I’m a sucker for pink. I’m also a sucker for beautiful fonts, so these worksheets had it all for me. They are easy to follow, provide examples, a recap of what was learned and answers. They are printable as well, making things just that much easier.

Rochelle’s website and YouTube Channel are resources that are absolutely amazing for people learning ASL, from beginners to experts. I really like her teaching style, as well as the range of content available. I only wish I had found it sooner. Join me next week as I wrap up with some fun stuff: numbers and animals, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.


To Tech or Not to Tech

Technology can be an engaging, efficient way to run daily activities in the school and classroom. So what happens when a teacher is reluctant to use technology because they don’t want to, are afraid to or simply don’t know how? Below is a sample conversation between Ms. D., a tech savvy teacher, and Ms. K., a teacher who is wondering about technology in the classroom.

Ms.K is a very traditional teacher. She does not care for technology use in the classroom and takes away the students devices before each class. She has never cared to learn about any of the new digital tools available for teachers and does not understand how technology can be more effective than a paper and pencil.

Ms. D is a tech-savvy teacher who loves to use technology in the classroom, believing strongly that it will benefit her students in the end to be tech literate. She is always trying to find new ways to integrate technology in her classroom, and this year decided to use Google Classroom for much of her class work.

-A conversation between Ms.K and Ms.D in the high school in which they both teach at:

Ms. K: I cannot understand why my students keep talking about your classes and how fun they are. They must not be learning anything if they are on the internet the whole time.

Ms. D: Oh Ms K., they’re just on Google Classroom. It’s a place for the class to meet online. I can post lesson material like Powerpoints and documents for them to see, and they can hand in assignments and receive feedback. Plus,I can send out reminders to them!

Ms. K: Aren’t those reminders just giving them an excuse to have their phone out in class? I make sure my students keep their phones put away during class so they aren’t distracted by things like that.

Ms. D: Well you’re right there, Ms. K., but the students are probably going to be on their phones anyway, no matter how hard we try to get them off. Why not embrace what’s already happening and use it to engage students? At least Google Classroom gives them something to do on their phone that isn’t just texting or social media, and it can help them to understand how useful technology can be for things other than those.

Ms. K: Well, I have seen Google Classroom and it does not look efficient at all. It would take me too long to add all of my content onto each class when I could just keep my Powerpoints and Word Documents. Also, if I need to remind or inform my students on anything, I can do so in class. If I used Google Classroom, I would be encouraging my students to go on their devices instead of learning the curriculum. It does not seem like a tool that would benefit me or my students.

Ms. D: Well it might take a little while for everything to upload and add, but in the end it is a great time-saver! If everything is on Google Docs, it makes it easy for students to collaborate on a project without needing to get together. And as much as we like to think we’re being heard in class, how often do students forget about important events and due dates? With Google Classroom they have access to the classroom calendar so they never have the excuse of not knowing when something is due. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping students who may be sick or away caught up on class activities!

Ms. K: I guess that is a good point. If I would be saving time and keeping students up to date, then maybe I should try Google Classroom out. But I am a bit nervous to start using my computer, I do not know much about technology. And what about student privacy? Aren’t my students more vulnerable if their information is on the internet?

Ms. D: I can come and help you after class tomorrow and we can run through it together! There are so many neat things that you can do with Google Classroom, and plus, you are saving paper! It is also very private, so it can be a safe place for your students to learn about digital citizenship, which I can also show you tomorrow! You should read this article that I found this week about 6 reasons why Google Classroom is such a great tool for teachers!

Ms. K: Okay, that would be great. I am excited to check this new tool out! I think that my students will also be excited to hear that I am engaging in technology as well. Thanks!


When Trolling Becomes Bullying

Watching Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, I couldn’t help but think back to high school. when in I was in grade nine, an eighth-grade girl sent naked pictures to her boyfriend, who sent them to everyone he knew. She came to our school the next year, but a good majority of the school had seen her naked before she even became a student. She would be the first of so many girls I knew or had heard of that had made the same mistake, and although many would pretend it didn’t bother them, I knew how I would feel if it were me who had done the same thing. Every one of these girls was like Monica Lewinsky, nothing but fodder for an internet willing to rip anyone and everyone apart.

via Whisper

I grew up in the digital age, and I went to high school during a time where the internet and cell phones were firmly set as our means of communication. I was in tenth grade when Amanda Todd, a girl living in Port Coquitlam killed herself in her family home because of cyberbullying. I witnessed, even after her death, memes featuring Amanda’s picture, with phrases like “Make a mess of life? Drink some bleach”. My peers and I learned early on that no matter how unbearably tragic your situation might be, people on the internet will always be ruthless in their bullying on the internet.

We learned to watch what we posted, and counted the likes we got on every picture, deleting the ones that we didn’t think got “enough”. What we didn’t learn, was how to navigate all of this. From my own experience, there was no class that taught students how to interact on the internet. I do remember the terrible ads and posters put up that were supposed to help prevent us from sexting or bullying online, but this was not a proactive approach — students my age were already doing these things. We were told not to bully online,  or sext, but we weren’t taught how to build a positive online presence. And while we weren’t learning about how to defend ourselves through a positive online presence, the notion of the keyboard warrior grew more and more each day.

2WPhoto via Flickr

So as a teacher, what do I do with this? I believe it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of all teachers to educate their students not only about the repercussions of posting anything to the internet, but how to behave in the online world. It is very likely that every single one of our students will have a digital identity, and so it is up to us to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes that our generation did.

We learned the hard way, but our students don’t have to. We won’t ever be able to stop students from having online identities, whether or not we choose to use those in the classroom. The fact is that although the internet can be devastating for some, for so many others the internet and their digital footprint are a large, positive part of their life in the form of relationships, both professional and not. Having a positive online identity can be a wonderful thing, and it is up to us to ensure that students are able to navigate the internet in a way that they can build a positive digital footprint, while avoiding the pitfalls of the internet.