Over this semester I feel like I learned a lot about music and teaching music. Going into this course, I did not know anything about the piano or teaching music. I did have the tiniest bit of musical background in that I did band in middle school but that was a super long time ago and I had very little memory of it.
I found learning the piano to be a really steep learning curve. I initially started by trying to learn “properly” by learning scales and chords and how to read music, etc. I found that that was great for learning some of the basics but I got very bored quickly. Initially, I wanted to learn an Elton John song for my final. After looking at some of the music for his songs, I realized that was way beyond my abilities. I then started learning “All of Me” by John Legend. That went better but I still think it was a bit ambitious.
I found that playing with just my right hand was fine. It took some practice and learning but I was eventually able to get the hang of it. However, playing with two hands was a really big challenge for me. Even with practicing about 10-30 minutes every day, I still found it very challenging. My right hand is totally fine but once I try adding in my left everything fell apart. In my “All of Me” video, I tried to add in playing with both hands but I still made loads of mistakes throughout the video.
Overall I feel like I have accomplished something and feel like I could learn a few more simple songs which could come in handy with my teaching practice. I’d like to learn more nursery rhymes or French children’s songs to be able to use in the classroom.
Our final class of the semester was absolutely packed with information. We began by watching several presentations from groups about their tech inquiry projects. It was interesting to see what others had worked on throughout the semester.
The last little bit of class was used to go over some final competencies that had yet to be explored. With all of them, I wish we had had more time to go over them in depth but I realize that we had a lot to get through.
One of the presentations done by a group for their tech inquiry was on coding. This is something that interests me because I feel like it is pretty relevant in today’s world. The website we were shown for coding was called Scratch. It was fairly easy to use and I think it is something that our students would enjoy. I found it a bit tricky at the beginning but once I got the hang of it, it was easier.
We then discussed GAFE (Google apps for education). In my grade 12 year in high school, my school was just starting to transition into using this so I did have a sense of this already. As a student, I liked using the program but only really used it for a few classes. I enjoyed having everything online. I wish we had gone over the concepts more in class. I am interested in becoming a Google educator and putting that on my resume. My only concern though is that I want to teach primary years and I’m not sure how useful it GAFE would be at that age.
QR codes were something that I was already familiar with and have used on projects already. I find them super easy to create and to use. I did like how we looked at them critically and discussed how they can take up real estate on a project.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are ideas that I don’t really understand. While we went over them in class, I still don’t really understand them or know how to use them. I know that virtual reality can make you feel like you are somewhere else and makes it possible to explore a new place but I don’t really understand how to do it. From what I gather, augmented reality is just when you scan a certain place with the camera on your phone and are able to see a little animation.
My greatest professional strength as an educator who will teach music is my patience and organization. I have the patience to be able to work with my students to discover their musical abilities and teach them the musical curriculum. My organization will ensure that I am able to meet the needs of my learners and use music as a cross-curricular in my classroom.
When I think about myself as a future educator teaching music, I feel excited and optimistic. I resonated with what has been said in class about not “decorating” with music in lessons and I intend to follow through with this. As someone who is hoping to teach French, I want to use music to teach about French, while still learning about music. I also feel nervous because I almost don’t feel qualified enough to be able to teach music while I myself feel like I have so much more to learn.
My greatest area of growth during the course has been in the area of my own musicality and in my comfort with music. Learning to play the piano has given me the space to explore something completely new and be gentle with myself while learning it. I feel like I have grown in knowing how capable I am and in my confidence with music. I also feel more and more comfortable each day with musicality in class.
I have had experience when I was in high school with distributed learning. I took 4 classes fully online and one “blended” online class.
I took PE 10 and 11 online because I was a very high-level swimmer and for me, it was a great option to log my training as PE online and then use my empty PE block to study and do homework. I had practices often twice each day so being able to take the time at school to have a free block to catch up on homework instead of trying to do it at night after training, was a great help. I found I had a lot of push-back from admin at my school and I believe if they could’ve they would not have permitted me to do online PE. The main concern of the administration at my school was that I wouldn’t complete it or be motivated enough to find the time to do it. I actually was able to get the courses done several months early and found the entire process to be easy. I did have to involve my coaches and get them to send me my workouts so I could log them. I loved being able to complete the work on my own time and having the extra time at school was very helpful.
I also took English 11 online. I did not have an incredible experience taking English 10 at my school. When discussing it with my grandma, a retired high school English teacher and vice principal, she suggested that I just do it online and go to her for guidance. Again, I was met with loads of push-back from the administration at my school. They were concerned I wouldn’t finish on-time (if at all) and that I wouldn’t be motivated enough to do it. I am a very motivated individual and am very good with my own time management (I credit this to swimming competitively all through high school). I again was able to finish the course quickly while receiving a mark that I was very happy with.
I also took Planning 10 online, which only took me six weeks. My Pre-Calculus 11 was a “blended” class, where half of it was in class and a half was online. As someone who struggles with math, I found this very challenging and would’ve almost prefered “traditional” math instruction. I found that not having someone actually walk me through each concept caused a lot of frustration and confusion.
I think that distributed learning is a necessary part of education. It might not be necessary for each student but it is necessary for the option to be there. Distributed learning creates learning that is accessible to everyone. Granted, there are some things that cannot be learned through online learning and need to be done face to face.
Last week in class we learned all about sketchnoting and Twine. I really enjoyed this class and felt like I came away having learned a lot.
Sketchnoting is something that really interests me but I know it’s something that I’ll have to work on to improve with. For those who don’t know, sketchnoting is using symbols as well as words to take notes. There is loads of research to back up why this is beneficial to use while learning and taking notes. I admittedly have very poor printing. I don’t like the way my writing looks and because of this, I tend to type everything if possible. I also have a very shaky hand because of medications that I have to take so drawing straight lines or pictures is challenging for me. I am a person who constantly is writing in my planner and using different colours to classify things so sketchnoting makes sense for me. I am a visual person so having things draw out in different colours is very helpful for me. I liked that in class we practiced drawing various icons and got a chance to spend the time to “play” with them. In the future, I would like to use sketchnoting more but I don’t think I would be able to take notes as quickly as I can on my computer. I want to begin by using it to journal and maybe when I am taking reading notes before I begin using it during lectures. I also want to use it when I listen to podcasts or Ted talks.
Twine was interesting for me as well. For those who don’t know, Twine is a platform where you can create “choose your own adventure” stories. I can see myself using this tool with students in older grades and even with younger grades as a class. I wish I was more creative with my use of it. Just before our class last week I was talking to my sister on the phone (she lives in Calgary) and so I decided to make a Twine story to send to my sister. I made a story called Claire’s Best Day Ever where the choices were just different ways for her to spend her day. I think she liked it and I liked getting to discover this new tool.
I’ve been keeping up with aiming to achieve my goals with handstands and running. Currently, I can do a handstand without the wall for approximately 2 seconds and I recently ran 4.5km in 25 minutes. Getting closer to my goals feels amazing and I love that my goals are markable so I will know when I have achieved them. My weight is very slowly dropping (I’m losing about 1-2 pounds per week). My goal was not to lose weight but seeing it as a byproduct of this lifestyle change is encouraging.
I am still working on finding an ideal balance with my health and fitness where I can eat “healthy” and “clean” but still indulge. I know that for me personally when I restrict too much or set myself too many guidelines, that it doesn’t work and I end up feeling defeated. I think finding a balance is key and truthfully, I am still working towards finding that.
There are a few habits that I have noticed help me to achieve my goals and that set me up for success:
Preparing food ahead of time: I am constantly on the go. I work 6 days a week at two jobs as well as school. I find that making my lunch and dinner and sometimes even breakfast the night before can help me so much. Not only does it save money, but it enables me to make healthier choices throughout the day and keeps me on track. I also notice that I tend to feel less stressed if I am prepared for the next day with food. Some of my favourites to make and pack are salads, curries, zucchini pasta, rice and chicken, and quinoa fried rice.
Keeping my planner up to date: I bring my planner everywhere. I refuse to leave my house without it. I write everything down it in from social engagements to school assignments to work out schedules and meals. I have too much going on to remember it all in my head so keeping it all on paper is extremely helpful.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep: Sleep is so huge for me. I had pretty bad insomnia from ages 11-18 but something finally clicked in my final year of high school and I was finally able to sleep again. I cannot function without 8 hours of sleep. I need my sleep to feel good during the day. When I get less than 8 hours of sleep I feel anxious, I get stressed more easily, and I make bad choices. I usually start to wind my day down around 10pm and aim to have my lights out be 10:45pm. I sleep with an eye mask and when I’m not at home I sleep with earplugs too. I also like to diffuse lavender oil when I sleep.
I feel like throughout this project I am learning so much about myself and I am loving the chance to take the time to reflect on my lifestyle and my well-being. I also feel like I am learning loads about nutrition and fitness in general and that has been really interesting for me. In the future I hope to be able to continue to learn about and document my fitness and health.
Several classes ago, we worked on audio and video editing. I knew how to edit videos and audio already but this class was a nice refresher. I edited a very meaningful video of my family and I enjoyed being able to edit it to be exactly what I wanted it to be. I found it helpful to be able to cut out the parts that weren’t necessary and found editing videos on my Macbook to be very user-friendly.
I have been running a fitness and lifestyle Instagram account to document my fitness journey while following through with my goals I set for myself in this class with regards to my open inquiry project. For this account, I have been editing the pictures that I have been taking as I go. I have also been creating little posts using different graphic design apps such as Adobe Spark and Pic Monkey.
I think I am still working on perfecting my photo editing skills. I have been inspired recently by influencers who have been creating and selling their own presets on photoshop-type apps. I think their presets are super nice and I am impressed by how their presets work with each photo that they are applied to. I tried creating my own presets on Adobe Lightroom CC and for the most part they work. I have been finding that I need to adjust certain aspects for them to really work with each one and sometimes they look really bad on certain photos. I’m still learning about how different aspects change the way the photo looks and I am enjoying discovering as I go.
Here is an example of my photo editing abilities (or lack of). The photo on the left is the original and the one on the right is after I had edited it by adjusting the exposure, contrast, highlights, and cropped it, etc. I also added a watermark.
This is a little graphic that I made for my Instagram depicting the benefits of drinking water for your body and life. I made this using Adobe Spark and it was pretty easy. I still struggle a bit with being original and think that most of the things that I create look a bit generic so I am trying to work on making my graphics a bit more unique.
This week to further our learning of how we can use graphic design, we watched and learned from this video on Youtube all about branding and design. We found that this video summarized the other videos we have been learning from and brought all the various elements of graphic design together.
Essentially, branding is how others perceive you and your company and your product.
Your visual identity is how your branding looks with your colour, typography, etc. Visual identity can be very persuasive for the consumer. Visual identity sets the tone for your product or brand.
The main elements of Visual Identity are:
A logo can include a small image or icon and/ or some text. A good logo is a simple logo. All of the elements of your logo contribute to your brand’s identity and visual identity. Main colours used in the brand should be reflected in the logo. Like with all graphic design, use complementary colours to avoid vibrating and to ensure you don’t go too crazy with colours. Be sure to include a neutral colour in your logo and brand as well. When choosing fonts for the text, choose about three and be sure that they compliment each other and depict your brand well. Avoid overused and ugly fonts like comic sans ms and papyrus. When in doubt, use a timeless font that does not distract from your message. When choosing images for your brand, aim to tie them all together with a common thread such as colour, theme, or graphics. Avoid images that are generic or unauthentic.
Here is a little logo made with Adobe Spark that I use for my own blog:
I kept it very simple as I am drawn to a more simplistic design. I chose to use white as my background colour and a darker green on the white for my text. I used a classic font and then as a graphic I used some leafy plants that go in a circle as a border.
This week in our class, we had the chance to learn about Minecraft. Students from Colquitz Middle School came into our class with their teacher Heidi James to teach us about Minecraft and using Minecraft for education.
I have heard so much about Minecraft just from working with children but I feel like I did not know much about it, nor did I have any idea how to play it or how it could be used for education. I actually had a really hard time learning to play it and am still a bit confused on some of the concepts. I feel like I would need to play this loads of times before I would feel comfortable incorporating this in my own classroom. I still don’t really see the point of the actual game because I don’t understand how to win or succeed in the game.
During our class, I felt like there was so much that I didn’t know that I didn’t even know what I didn’t know (if that makes sense). I felt super lost and very thrown into the whole thing. There was a language used that I didn’t understand and I feel like if I understood more about the game before actually playing, I might’ve felt more successful. I did like it was really useful to learn from students themselves though and I appreciated being given lots of time to explore the game.
I feel like at this point, I wouldn’t feel comfortable using Minecraft in my own classroom just because I still feel like there is so much that I don’t understand or know. I recognize that this could be a very important teaching tool and can help to engage students in whole new ways. As a teacher, I do want to be a part of that so I hope to further my learning in this area.
Today, we decided to experiment with PicMonkey. PicMonkey is a photo editing and graphic design tool. It is easy to use and offers users tutorials to help them achieve their specific design needs. PicMonkey gives users the option to being with either a template or blank canvas. It also allows you make specific searches based on your needs.
PicMonkey is easy to use and all of us could definitely see using it in the classroom. However, PicMonkey has a massive downside: it costs money. We took advantage of the 7 day free trial in order to test it out. However, it is not realistic to pay $7.99/month for a graphic design tool as a teacher. It is much more reasonable to use a free tool like Canva or Adobe Spark for any graphic design opportunities in the classroom.