Crochet Anyone?

I have decided that for my Learning Project for my Social Media and Open Education master’s class, I will learn how to crochet. I have always been intrigued by crocheting and knitting and somewhat jealous of those that could do it. One of the reasons I’ve never learned before is because it kinda seemed like an activity only old ladies did. However, in more recent years I have met many young, hip ladies that can crochet/knit!

So why did I choose crocheting over knitting you might ask? Really knowing nothing about either, I thought that crocheting might be easier to get the hang of. After all you only have one tool instead of two. I’m not the most ambidextrous individual so it seemed like a good fit for me. I also went to the internet to see what Google had to say. There, I found several sites (site 1 and site 2) claiming crocheting over knitting for reasons like it is faster, cheaper to get started, and it’s easier to cover up your mistakes….and so I was sold. I remember when I was a teenager my mom tried her hand at knitting to pass the long hours of watching me in a cold rink (I was a figure skater). She kept ripping it all out and starting over. I don’t think she ever finished anything. Chalk up another point for crocheting!

The more I look into it the more crocheting seems like a skill I need to master. I like the idea that I can make my own hats, scarves, blankets, etc. Especially scarves, I love them! Maybe if I get good at it I can make presents for my friends and things for my daughters. I really love the thought of being able to make things for my girls. It is also a hobby I can take with me on long car rides (which we do frequently) and it doesn’t take up much space (also another win). For a non-selfish reason, my mom told me about Izzy Dolls that are crocheted or knit and sent to children in parts of the world experiencing conflict. Being able to give a child a doll that would hopefully bring some joy to their life amidst the conflict going on around them, would feel really good.

Now to figure out what I need to get started!

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The World Is A-Changin’, Is Education Keeping Pace?

Our world is changing at a rapid pace, and with it so is education, or is it? The world is much different from when I was in high school (that really wasn’t that long ago!), but is education changing along with it? In my curriculum development course I took this summer we discussed how if someone from the long ago past got thrust into today’s world, nothing would look the same. Nothing, that is, but schools. Desks still in rows in many cases, a chalkboard or whiteboard at the front of the room, maybe a SMART Board if you’re lucky. So why has so much of the world changed, while schools have mostly stayed the same?

Is it because teachers usually did well at school, so if it worked for them it should work for the youth of today? Or is it that we were trained to teach this way? For me, it is hard to imagine schools looking another way. I’m not sure how it would function and operate. Quite frankly, it scares me a little. I feel I’m good at what I do, but I haven’t really become all that digitally literate. How would my teaching have to change to prepare students better for the world of not just today, but tomorrow as well.

In Michael Wesch’s Tedx KC talk – From Knowledgeable to Knowledge – Able he talks about how in classrooms today the knowledge is at the front of the room and it is passed out to students for them to become knowledgeable. He argues that students need to become knowledge-able instead. In knowledgeabilitly, students cannot just memorize and or check of a list of things to achieve this. It is a practice. He suggests that for students to become knowledge-able, teachers must present them with real world problems (ones they don’t necessarily know the answers to) and have them collaborate using the relevant technological tools of today. Students need to realize that they can find meaning, but they can also make it as well. Teachers need to try and prepare students not for the test at the end of the semester, but for the test of the world.

The John Seely Brown and Richard Adler article Minds on Fire discussed how are learning is social. Our understanding of content is socially constructed by conversations and interactions we have with that content. I thought this was really interesting and very true. In many of my other master’s classes I learned how our identities and many of our institutions are socially constructed. Education itself is socially constructed, so it makes sense that our learning is as well. These authors also talk about how school has traditionally used the Cartesian view of learning in which knowledge is held by the teacher and they transfer it to their students.

In the social view of learning the mantra is “We participate, therefore we are.” Students need to learn about their subject while also learning to be a participant in the field where that subject can be applied. I think school is heading in this direction, even in Regina. We have Campus Regina Public where students do get to take courses like english and cosmetology together and practice is a very real looking salon. They are acquiring the skills they need to work in a salon after graduation and getting a taste of what the profession is like to see if it really is what they want to do. Other class pairing are electrical and math, commercial cooking and english, and accounting and math for a financial services career.

At the school I teach at students get to choose to participate in project based learning. In this way they are often able to earn more than one credit in the time it usually takes to earn a single credit. The projects are meant to be more engaging than the students may find taking a class on its own. I personally haven’t been involved in one of these projects, but would like to be. I always worry about the time needed to meet all the objectives of more than one course. I have a hard time meeting all the objectives for the single courses I teach. I guess the key is finding assignments and projects that meet objectives from both courses.

I do think that I could apply the social view of learning more in my classroom. The article mentioned that the students in university that experience the most success are the ones involved in study groups. This is because they are able to ask questions of their peers, improve their understanding by listening their peer’s explanations, and take on the role of the teacher by offering their explanations and learning to their peers. I know that sometimes I avoid doing group work because it seems like more hassle than it’s worth. The students are often off task and attendance is also a big factor. It is hard to complete a group assignment when your partner isn’t there. However, I’m sure the more I try and engage the students in group work, the better they would become at it.

I do feel that education is changing, and it is a change for the better. I only hope that teachers are offered the training, professional development, and time in order to embrace the change and be a part of it.

Here goes nothing…

Hi, my name is Jannae Bridgeman. I am a math and science teacher. I have taught overseas and in several schools in Saskatchewan, but Scott Collegiate High School in Regina has been my home since 2008. Although it has its challenges, as does every high school, I love teaching there. This is my 10th year teaching! I actually cannot believe that. Time sure flies. Since I had a baby in December, I am currently on maternity leave with my little girl (and my toddler) for the year.

I started the Master’s program in Curriculum and Instruction at U of R last January and this will be my 6th class. I have learned so much since starting the program, not only about education and instruction, but about myself as well. I am looking forward to this class, although I am quite nervous as I don’t have much of a technology or social media background.

In my classroom, I have found using technology to be a bit frustrating more often than not. First of all, booking the computers can be a bit of a struggle as there are only so many. It takes a ridiculous amount of time for students to log on and get started. Many of my students also take the opportunity of computer time to be on Facebook and Twitter non-stop and not to complete their assignment. This can add to the the length of class time (and my frustration level!) I need to give for students to complete their assignment. Many of my students don’t have technology available to them at home so doing it for homework isn’t always an option.

I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I haven’t really used them. There are several reasons for this. I have a bit of a fear of putting myself out there for the world to see or read about. I’m not an overly private person, but the idea of people reading about my personal thoughts and viewing my life kinda scares me. I also found that the amount of time I spent on these sites was ridiculous. I felt I needed to spend that time doing other, maybe not more important, but other things. I also think that no one really cares whether I’m out for coffee or in the midst of writing a paper. I definitely have never considered writing a blog. Do I really have something so important to say that others would want to read about it?

So, why should I hop on this technological bandwagon of blogging?? It is probably about time I become 21st century literate and get with the times! From the readings Alec Couros put up about why teachers and students should blog, here’s my summary of the most important and relevant points to me:

  • great professional development – I have always considered myself to be a very reflective teacher and I can see how blogging takes that to the next level. There is also probably no better PD than talking with other teachers about their ideas and practices in the classroom. Blogging gives you an opportunity to do that on a daily basis.
  • creates a library of useful links, articles, ideas, activities, etc. – It would be very helpful to have all of these in one place that is easily searchable.
  • empowers students and develops lifelong learners – I think that ultimately this is the goal teachers have for their students
  • students can teach and learn from each other
  • students can establish their digital footprint in a positive and safe way and teachers can model how to do this.

I am starting this blog as an assignment for my master’s class, however, I hope the articles I’ve read are true about blogging  and it is a positive experience and one that I get a lot out of. If so, perhaps I’ll continue to blog as I am always striving to be the best teacher I can be.

I’m very nervous to post this, but I guess I can’t delay forever! Here goes nothing…