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(Let’s) /+/ [*Code*] 🕹💻

“What makes this even better is that it’s not just the jobs or the coolness, either. But also the creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and other skills ripe for improvement as byproducts of kids learning to code.” 

I can say with confidence that coding is not something that I am familiar with and the whole premise behind coding, both digitally and without a computer is very new to me. However, it is something that I am thoroughly enjoying gaining more knowledge about. The benefits that I have found from researching are definitely clear:

Top 10 reasons kids should learn to code:

  1. Math: Helps visualize abstract concepts, apply math to real-world situations and makes math fun/creative
  2. Writing: Understand the value of concision and planning
  3. Creativity: Kids learn through exploring, coding allows them to embrace their creativity
  4. Confidence: Confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding
  5. Focus and Organization: As they write code, kids naturally develop better focus and organization
  6. Resilience: With coding also comes debugging, they build perseverance when working through challenges
  7. Communication: It teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Also, learning code = learning a new language!
  8. Empowerment: Kids can be empowered to make a difference when they code
  9. Life Skills: Basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand be able to innovate with the technology around them
  10. Career Preparation: High demand for workers in the tech industry, mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in a variety of fields. Opening so many doors!

I also found a couple of amazing visuals that put similar information and/or extensions of the above reasoning into an easy to look at and reader-friendly version.

  • Coding Teaches Kids: 
  • The link includes the below infographic, along with WHY coding is important for kids and some fun ideas for coding with kids without a computer

The Beginning of my Own Coding Exploration

I decided to begin my own exploration using Code.org. I decided to first head over to their about page located along the top toolbar. Code.org is a nonprofit that is dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools, along with increasing participation rates of women and underrepresented youth. Their vision is that “every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science.” Code.org also organizes the Hour of Code program. This program has engaged more than 15% of all students in the world. They are also supported by recognizable donours such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, among others. I really appreciate the foundation for Code.org’s vision, I think it’s outstanding that they strive for the inclusion of underrepresented minorities.

Now to the Fun Part

I

I decided to use a combination of a screencasting application and iMovie to bring together my coding exploration which I exported to Youtube. Within the video below, I have included the process that I followed, a quick tutorial along with my completed game.

You can also find and try my game here. 

Throughout the process of creating my own game, I can say for sure that I will be using coding in my own classroom. Not only is it an enjoyable type of learning, but it teaches so many skills that students might not necessarily realize. For example, there were times that my patience was severely tested when I was would be tasked with figuring out why something wasn’t working. I also really like the idea that coding can be integrated with or without access to technology, which increases accessibility. I included a few non-technology examples below:

After going through a process of creating my own code, I further recognize the value that it plays in the classroom and in student’s lives as a whole. Also, how cool is it to be able to say that I created my own version of Flappy Bird?

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Considering Digital Literacy in the Elementary Classroom 🤔

Me? Teaching Digital Literacy?

Originally I hadn’t considered on a thorough level how much digital literacy, and technology as a whole would be implemented in the elementary classroom. I would ideally like to teach anywhere from pre-K to grade 5, so I had always shrugged it off. How could little learners use or need to know about the world of technology THAT much? I have since learned the importance of teaching digital literacy to ALL learners. Not only are there benefits of using technology but children are being introduced to it at younger and younger ages. Thus, it increasingly crucial that students become digitally literate.

What is Digital Literacy? And Why Does it Matter? 

The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Within this definition, Renaissance discusses the idea that digital literacy in education incorporates so much more. Including how students need to have certain skills when reading content online that may contain embedded resources like hyperlinks, audio clops, graphs/charts that require students to make choices. They also mention how students today are being encouraged to create, collaborate, and share digital content and they need to be able to do this responsibly. This is why school staff need to understand the importance of fostering digital literacy skills for our students and teaching digital literacy in our classrooms. Renaissance also states that students who are digitally literate know how to find and consume digital content, safely and respectively; they are able to create, communicate and share this digital content.

The Discussion of Fake News 

“The term fake doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the different types of misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false).”  This spread of misinformation and disinformation can at times be overwhelmingly prominent, particularly during times of unrest in society, and globally.

A Ted talk about what it means to choose your news mentions, “all the information in the world won’t be very useful unless you know how to read the news.” In the past, the news was limited to a minimal amount of news stations that produced reliable information that you could trust. When mass media become more prominent, this spread of information changed. In this often overwhelming spread of information and not knowing whether it’s trustworthy, it’s important to consider HOW to get the truth.

Screenshot from Choose Your News Ted Talk: “ll the information in the world won’t be very useful unless you know how to read the news.”

The same Ted Talk recommends:

  • Locating the original news, unfiltered by middlemen
  • Before sharing, do your research,
  • Search for the contexts that you might have missed and gain more perspectives
  • Inform yourself before you share.

Another source suggests the following tactics to identifying fake news on websites: 

  • Be critical of images
  • Investigate the URL/site
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Verify the author
  • Track down the original source
  • Watch out for new technologies

SO How Might I Teach Digital Literacy? 

I believe that it is of the utmost importance to explain to students and work with them by identifying how to be critical of a website before sending them onto the internet. The following information is meant to help students identify fake news with the Five C’s of Critical Consuming:

  1. Context: When was it written and where does it come from? Is there any new information that could change your perspective?
  2. Credibility: Does the site have a reputation for integrity?
  3. Construction: Are there any biases, loaded words or propaganda? Can you distinguish between facts and opinions?
  4. Corroboration: Confirm the information with other credible news sources
  5. Compare: Gain different perspectives from other news sources to get different perspectives

These 5 C’s of Critical Consuming is one way to incorporate media literacy into the classroom to benefit our students so they can learn how to consume critically. I think that the 5 C’s could easily be incorporated in the classroom, especially if students are doing research projects where they need to use the internet to find information.

The possibilities of using digital literacy skills in the classroom are endless and can be started in the early elementary grades. I have worked as an EA in classrooms of grades 3 or 4 who have been tasked to use their Chromebooks to research projects in Science, Social Studies and Health. In projects like this, there is value in learning from a different source and practicing first hand their digital literacy skills. An example with the curriculum, beginning in the grade 5 health curriculum, students are to discuss the criteria that can be used to determine if a health source is reliable. When I pre-interned in a grade 5 classroom, we were able to go through a variety of sources and determine based on the 5 C’s above, whether or not a given source was reliable. Then, when they researched articles about self-image they were able to judge how valuable the source was.

When considering other ways to incorporate digital literacy I took to Pinterest to see what resources existed already when I found this infographic which I found helpful:

The NCTE framework discusses the use of digital storytelling, assignments that use interactive digital forums, e-portfolios and the use of Blackboard. They also discussed how instead of using traditional methods for interpreting their learning, students used presentations, blogs or reports.

If I were to teach anywhere beginning from grade 3 or 4, one way I would love to incorporate digital literacy is by using Kidblog in my language arts practice. I love the idea of students being introduced to digital literacy through a safe, and kid-friendly platform where they can also work on their writing and interact with their classmates digitally. I think that it’s also a great way for the teacher to assess. It is a blend of creative thinking and critical writing skills, where students are afforded the opportunity to synthesize information. 

In summary, there are an endless amount of ways to incorporate digital literacy into day-to-day classroom practice. And it absolutely should be used and taught. Students deserve the opportunity to explore their digital identity and gain digital literacy in a safe and supportive environment. The world that we live in is becoming increasingly technology-based, therefore students need to know how to identify fake news, and how to stay safe on the internet to ultimately become digitally literate.

What ways do YOU plan on using and teaching digital literacy in the classroom?

#LearningProject

How To: Single Crochet Edition

For the sake of my how-to description, I am going to walk through how to do the single crochet stitch. Mainly because this is the only stitch that I know for sure! I decided that instead of using paper, and since this class is about using digital resources, I would further explore Canva. I have used Canva before but it wasn’t for anything in-depth; it was just to create a cover image for my Instagram highlights. I really enjoy how versatile this website is, I can guarantee if you can think it, Canva will help you create it.

Since I am still a beginner myself, I decided to use Pinterest to find a website that highlights the main points of the stitch. The single crochet comes after you create a foundation chain, meaning in order to begin practicing the single crochet one must make a foundation chain. I ended up finding a really informative and beginner-friendly website that goes into detail, with both words and pictures. I would highly recommend it for anyone taking the step into learning how to crochet!

Here are my series of posters! I hope that you find it easy enough to read and understand!

Sending healthy thoughts,

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#LearningProject

My Crack at a Crocheted Coaster

This week I continued my attempt in creating a cute crochet coaster using a seemingly simple pattern that is intended for beginners, which is the same one that I mentioned in my post from last week. 

I tried to encourage myself to use the time that I spend on my phone to look up and watch videos of other people crocheting to basically just watch their techniques. I was hoping that by seeing how others manipulate their hook and further immersing myself in it that something would click for my own technique. I had the idea to search TikTok to see what was going on in the crochet world on this platform. Of all the videos that came up from my search, I found a video that focused on the single crochet (SC) stitch, which is what I have been focusing on and is the stitch used for the coaster that I have been working on. I watched this video likely close to sixty times, thankfully TikTok videos are kept short.

So, between a new mindset, this video and rereading the pattern, I was ready to just get to this project. While following the pattern for the first couple of stitches of the second chain, I immediately appreciated how thorough the explanations are, and that the pictures are included exactly where it could get the most confusing; I can see how this pattern’s audience are absolute beginners.

I got through the first two rows smoothly, then I couldn’t figure out how to get the third row,

First 2 rows

so I found a video that showed how to turn my work to get myself in the position to begin the third row. 

This is as far I have managed to get this week. I have found myself needing to try and try again with the third row. I had to do what the crochet world calls “frogging,” which is taking it apart and starting again because I think one of my biggest issues has been tension.

I am going home soon, so my plan is to get some intensive hands-on instruction from my mom so that I can propel myself further in my learning project for the remaining weeks.

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A Little Friendly Cybersleuthing

For the purpose of this post, I played cybersleuth and looked into Alyssa Grondin’s online identity. I found that I was able to go more in-depth on Alyssa’s accounts because I am following her on almost all of her social media platforms.

Knowing most of her accounts, I went on a little cybersleuthing adventure. I immediately noticed that her different sites have different audiences and purposes. An immediate example is that she has two Twitter accounts, one is her public, educational twitter where she shares all things educational technology and classroom/teaching-related tweet which is prefaced by her @Miss_AlyssaG handle. Whereas the other she has as private, which allows her added privacy and the ability to decide who follows her on that account and sees that content. This is her only account that I was unable to delve deeply into because I don’t follow it. Presumably, this is where she tweets about the things that she is the most interested in

Overall, I found that Alyssa has two Twitter accounts, Facebook, Instagram, VSCO and a WordPress blog. A quick google search, where the first two hits and most of the images were Lakeland Rustler Volleyball related, tells me that she is big into sports, specifically volleyball. When I headed over to her Facebook page, I can tell immediately that she is a big sport and family person. Many of her images feature her either playing or watching sports and there are many family pictures as well, including one of her family in Blue Jay’s attire outside the Rogers Arena. I also noticed that she posts the least on her Facebook and that the intended audience is likely family and friends. Next, I went to her Instagram. Clearly, her audience here is also mostly her friends, I can tell that she definitely loves her boyfriend, sports and outdoor adventuring. VSCO continues the same narrative as her previous two accounts, along with that she spends ample time with her friends, grandmother, and dog. This account seems more personal in the sense that she shares more consistently than her Facebook and Instagram and she includes less-edited images. The last of her accounts that I could find was her WordPress, this account definitely coincides with her educational Twitter, where she shares all professional education/school-related posts.

Alyssa definitely uses having multiple accounts to her advantage. There seem to be two common audience types: those accounts meant for her friends and family and then those intended for educational professionals/classmates. Having Multiple Online Identities is More Normal Than you Think discusses how someone that is interested in one of your accounts might not be interested in the others, understanding this I can recognize why Alyssa has chosen to have different intended audiences. I can also relate because I have chosen to do the same. As a future educator, I can tell that Alyssa takes special care in curating her accounts to her advantage. I can tell from Alyssa’s social identity, she has taken special care to keep her life private and can relate to the approach of perhaps being seen by many, and truly known by few. A safe approach to her digital identity.

Below I also decided to attach the completed cybersleuthing form with some extra information from Alyssa’s profiles:

Name: Alyssa Grondin
Professional (job-related):

  • in education at the U of R (stated in Twitter bio)

 

 

 

Biographical (age, birthday, location, appearance, etc.):

  • Location: Lives in Lloydminster (due to the fact that I live with her I know this hasn’t been updated)
  • From Biggar
  • Attended Assiniboia Composite High School
  • Birthday: July 19, 1995
  • Appearance: tall, short dark brown hair, hazel eyes
Personal (relationships, family, hobbies, activities, likes/dislikes, etc.):

  • Boyfriend Adam Bloski
  • Family: 2 Brothers & 1 Sisters
  • Hobbies/Activities: Volleyball, Hockey, Baseball
Where are they on the web? (social networks, job profiles, etc).

Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest & VSCO

 

 

Based on their digital footprint, what are your overall impressions of this person?

Alyssa loves sports, her family and being adventurous (other places and outdoors), she used to live in Lloydminster where she played volleyball for the Lakeland Rustlers, she is in the education at the U of R and is originally from a small town.

Based on their digital footprint, do you trust this person? Would you hire them? Would you be their friend? Why or why not?

I trust this person. There is no content on any of her accounts that would suggest she shouldn’t be trusted. Thus, I would absolutely hire her and be her friend because she comes across as trustworthy, fun to be around, kind and she has taken the time to ensure that her profiles come across as such.

Is this person an oversharer or undersharer? Why or why not?

Moderate sharer – she doesn’t post too much or too little. Enough so that her followers know it’s a real account and that she is alive, but also not to the point where it’s too much. Her posts are appropriate and interesting.

What advice would you give this person about their digital footprint?

The only content I found of Alyssa’s that was moderately explicit was a video on Facebook of her and her friend doing the Slingshot ride at the fair, while it is quite hilarious, it does have a lot of colourful language. Perhaps a change in the viewing setting might be a good plan. But otherwise, everything else is very professional and audience-appropriate.

 

#LearningProject

The Struggle That Has Been Me Learning How to Crochet

This last week has been a rough one. I have been finding that even in moments of downtime I literally avoid my yarn and hook. It has been quite frustrating for me that I cannot get the hang of it as quickly as I would like. I took it home over the week to ask my mom for some assistance but I really haven’t gotten much further.

This week my goal was to attempt to make something using the single crochet stitch, I have learned that the abbreviation for that is sc. I found this handy little chart on the crochet Facebook group I joined.

Crochet Abbreviations

I decided to use Pinterest for inspiration instead of the usual google search. I searched for Single Crochet projects for beginners and one of the top hits was a post about crochet coasters for absolute beginners. I am an absolute beginner.

I appreciated how user-friendly the website seemed. Usually, I prefer to use videos because it’s generally easier to see the stitches formed live. I found that when I did my initial scan I could understand what supplies I needed, and just what I was going to have to attempt to make myself a lovely coaster. I also liked that at the end of the project it teaches you how to finish it by weaving the yarn into the underside. There were also links available in the event that the user struggles with the stitch.

For this project, I decided to go back to my blue, thin yarn because, in the event that I do actually manage to complete the coaster, I am not going to want to actually use a fluffy white coaster. After reading the instructions approximately four times, and confirming with my convenient little abbreviation chart, I felt ready to give it a go.

Getting started with a chain of 16…

Stay tuned for (hopefully) the finished product in the next few days!