Learning “in the open”


Student safety and privacy comes first. We must always make sure that student’s safety and privacy are being protected. This means that teachers need to be knowledgeable and comfortable with the tech they are using. They should not be using it for the first time or not confident about what they are doing. If not, students will likely surpass the teacher in knowledge and therefor things can get out of hand pretty quick. It’s important to be familiar enough with the software, blog sites, or Twitter to know where students may share too much information or cross that line of safe/school digital citizenship.

Student privacy is something that is important and needs to be monitored. Media release forms are very closely tied to privacy. My school has daily announcements linked to our school website, and we are not allowed to place students’ first and last names as it is a privacy issue. The same needs to be remembered for having students create a digital presence.

If the teaching of digital citizenship is done and policies followed to protect the student, learning “in the open” can provide limitless opportunities to attach and engage students.

Teachers must prepare for learning “in the open”, by being students themselves. They must put themselves in the open and learn the way students are being asked to. Only then will teachers make sure that they understand what they are asking of their students.

Featured image by National University of Ireland Galway


Close to giving up completely…

So here we are, a long 4 weeks into my project (with a week of refusing to work on it) and this is what I have produced. It was a scarf. Now it’s a circle. I don’t know why. I’ve investigated, why, sent emails to crocheting groups (they aren’t so much on Twitter from what I can find), but I don’t know why, or how to correct the curve.

A scarf that isn’t what it is supposed to be. 

I had to walk away from it, because after 2+ hours of researching crocheting errors and common mistakes, I was unable to determine what I am doing wrong.

GIF from Tenor

So I am going to quit. I am going to go back to the beginning and use a new stitch I will learn from a new video. I am also going to find a specific pattern for what I am going to do. Hopefully forgetting everything I did, will help me also forget my subconscious mistake. I’ll keep you posted.

I am going to find someone to point me in the right direction and sit with me for my first two rows of the next project. I am going to need more yarn and more confidence. I am finding it hard to not have access to the support of someone who know what they are doing. I know this is supposed to be through online, but I think 10 minutes with someone will show me the error of my ways.

I’ve even gone so far as to look for courses on community association websites. I was hoping to find a class like this locally, but no luck. Perhaps, I should put out a want ad. Yes. That’s what I will do. A want ad on Twitter.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Fake News – What is it good for?

Fake News

It’s everywhere. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes, it takes more attention to notice that something is not right.

In a previous life I was a social studies teacher. I taught students how to be critical of what they read. How to pick out inconsistencies or biases. That was a long time ago. Prior to Twitter, prior to fake news. Heck, it was back in the days when Wikipedia was just starting and it was easy to say “use any site except Wikipedia”. This worked, for the most part. But students got it. They understood the issue of why Wikipedia was “untrustworthy”.

Instant new was just starting to happen and newspapers were still integral. I used to get 40 newspapers delivered to my school for current events discussions. We would use them to stay apprised of what was going on in the world. There was no issues about fake news, perhaps just misrepresentation.

Now, students get their news (if they ever really read the news) through social media. Now that article talks about Millennials, But I am not sure that current high school students fall into that label. Surely by now they have a new label. Here in social media, especially with how easy it is to re-tweet information, there is a constant spread of fake news. The death of Tom Petty, is probably the most current example.

I know that sometimes I get caught by fake new. Not that I believe it, but that I get drawn into reading the article based off a shock value headline. More often than not I would say that comments or Tweets about Trump catch me the most off guard. Some of the things he says are so out there that I have yet to be able to be 100% certain what is real and what is fake. The most recent that I saw was of an article that showed an image of a Donald Trump tweet where he poked fun at Justin Trudeau for saying Happy Thanksgiving 6 weeks early. I didn’t automatically stand out as fake, because, once again, he says some random things. But I was critical. I checked Trumps Twitter feed to look for it. It wasn’t there. So I knew it was fake. Really funny, but fake. It also turns out that it is really easy to make an image that looks like a fake tweet. Especially ones for making FakeTrumpTweets. There are lots of sites. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I guess I wonder, how do people have so much time on their hands?

Fake News

I have a four year old, and I have often wondered how I am going to teach him about picking out fake news. And I guess it is just being critical. That’s it’s about making sure that you do not completely accept what you see or hear, and to not get complacent. That you trust your instincts and that you take the time to investigate information. And who knows what method of receiving the new will exist when he is ready. My family used to watch the new every night. Now, we don’t even have cable. I guess it will be from whatever app exists on the Apple TV when he is ready for it. 

Fake news doesn’t mean we need to panic, and distrust everything. It does however mean that we need to slow down and read. Not just read the title of the article, but read the article, and compare it to information that we already know.

Fake News.gif

Crocheting takes concentration

Crocheting takes concentration, and undivided attention. These are two things that I struggle with. Also, patience, coordination, and fine motor skills, but I don’t want to put myself down too much.

My last post I was questioning if my initial foray into crocheting could be turned into anything of substance. Well I am pleased to say that I have committed it to becoming a scarf. It’s coming along very slowly. I cannot multitask yet while working on it. I have tried, and I made some major mistakes.

This is a whole roll of yarn. It’s 2.5 inches wide, 3.5 feet wide and I made it!

In fact, once I finished my roll of yarn, I began to use a new colour. When doing this, I made a massive error in the spacing of my crochets and after 4 lengths of the new colour realized that my scarf was beginning to curve from the tight pressure that I was forcing on it. I had to undo the whole the four rows that I had done.

A quarter of the amount of yarn I had to undo to correct my mistake. I was too angry to take a photo showing the amount of work that I had to undo.

So there I was, on my couch on a Saturday night, under a pile of yarn from having undone 2 hours of work, searching out YouTube videos. I was not happy with my first video that I used to begin the process. I found that once I got into the process, that it did not show me enough of the technique or show me what not to do, or how to correct mistakes. So I found a new one.  It was way better. The production quality wasn’t there, but it helped me understand what I was doing wrong and that mistakes happen.

So now, after what I can only image is 6 hours of time, this is what I have to show. A lovely 1/6 of a scarf. I can absolutely tell that my technique has improved. I also notice that I am starting to develop my own style. I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but here we are.

There have been a number of times, where I wish I had someone that I could show my work to in order to get some immediate feedback about what I have done, and how to correct my mistakes. I have found some online (Facebook, Twitter, Bloggers) who have communities, but I have yet to find a “post your crocheting mistakes here for supportive tips on how to correct them” group. Although I haven’t reached out to any of the ones I’ve found yet. Perhaps that needs to be my next step in this process, reach out for support.

As of right now, I am going to continue on my marry way. I am half excited to see what I where my next mistake will occur and how soon I will notice it. Until then, I will practice the basic skills I am working on and prepare to search out something harder.


My scarf with two rows of red. Can’t wait to see what it looks like when I continue to add to it. Six hours of creative time, not including the searching of videos and tutorials.

The Digital Divide.

One of my biggest concerns about teaching in the digital age outside of student safety and privacy, is the inequality in access to resources, both inside and outside of schools. Due to budget cuts in Regina Public Schools, all guidance counsellors are required to teach 2 courses a year. This semester I have what is called Transitions Social Studies. These are students that struggle in mainstream programming, whether it be due to attendance, knowledge gaps, or anxiety about being in a classroom.

Working with these students for the past month, it has brought an awareness to me that not all youth have smartphones, tablets, data plans or reliable wifi connections or even care about using technology. I am finding it difficult to incorporate tech use into my class, because they are not able to bring in any technology to use (and my school has a limited amount). Technology still creates a divide in society in that of those that have and do not have it. As educators we must know our students and we cannot assume that everyone has their own technology to use in the classroom, nor can we assume that all students know proper basic skills. Some students I am working with, do not know how to search websites, keyboard shortcuts (copy and paste), the difference between search engines, how to bookmark webpages or even have email address.

There is still a divide in our society, and to assume that all youth know, understand and crave technology, is not accurate. It sets students up for failure and creates a feeling of inadequacy and can push students away. 

Working with students who are not knowledgeable with tech can create opportunities to build capacity and cover the objective “to educate children to succeed in a rapidly changing world and an uncertain future”, but we are still limited by time and covering curriculum. Within a social studies class, there is only so much extra time that I can help to build students confidence and skills with technology.

In Archambault, L., & Larson, J. (2015), they discuss how the excitement of online education and resources is greater than the amount of training educators have “of conveying knowledge over time and space, especially to young students who have yet to develop their own method and discipline for learning” (p. 2). So really, if we do not first instruct students on digital citizenship skills, then having them learn and conduct work in an online environment will be difficult for them to succeed. But before we can instruct digital citizenship to students, educators must first be be confident in what we are doing.

I think this article resonates with me because I often hear how “wouldn’t it be great if there was online courses for students who have trouble attending school regularly”, but now that I am working with these students, I understand that they would most likely have even less success enrolled in an online course because some lack the skills necessary to succeed. I view these skills as being a self-advocate, motivated, organized, outgoing, creative and adaptive, and possess the technology confidence required to follow the process. These are in addition to the skills necessary to be successful in a classroom with a teacher who can see and support the students. Obtaining these skills does also not even consider making sure that the student has the technology infrastructure in place to complete the assignments.

There is no doubt that there is a need to educate children to succeed in a rapidly changing world, but educating all students is not possible because of socioeconomic barriers. Schools cannot be expected to be the sole providers to teach technology and provide necessary skills. As long as there is a technology divide in society, there will always be a split in terms of technology readiness skills.

I know this is a little off the mark for the posted question, but it’s where my brain went to.

Archambault, L., & Larson, J. (2015). Pioneering the Digital Age of Instruction: Learning From and About K-12 Online Teachers. Journal of Online Learning Research, 1.1, 49-83.

Crocheting is hard, and I am a slow learner.

Well, I did it! I think. I followed the directions in the video the best I could. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it got down right confusing. The first part was good with making a slip knot and crocheting a chain. Those were easy, but it’s when it came time to single crochet, that I stumbled. I wanted feedback, but YouTube videos don’t respond. So I watched the part of the video again, and again, again. Trying to watch, and replicate the skills the instructor used. It didn’t go well. I don’t know why. What I do know is that my wife was laughing at me. Not only because I had my tongue hanging out of my mouth, but also that while I attempted the single crochet I was not using appropriate language, or so I am told. Needless to say I was frustrated and I wanted to quit the project.

Instead, I reflected on why I thought I was struggling. The obvious response was that my fine motor skills are not that fine. The second and where I am going to assign the majority of the blame is that I believe I made my chain too tight, so that when it was time for the single crochet, that it was too difficult to get the hook in. I stuck with the single video for the duration of my session. I assume that there are many different ways to crochet and I didn’t want to further muddle my already overwhelmed mind.

I was this far in and I knew I was in trouble.

So instead of making a small square, I practiced my technique and made a long chain. Then I continued back and made my single crochet. Some places were easier than others, and it reaffirmed my thought that I had made my chain too tight. So here it is, my lovely 4 foot single crochet chain, that I have no clue what to do with. Can it be made into a blanket? Is it complete garbage? Did I waste 2 hours of my life (yes two hours). A blanket seemed like a great idea, but now I think I doubt my speed, skill and ability to make one.

I underestimated the complexity of crocheting. I think I need to search out more support and specific plans.

This is my chain and single crochet. I am going to name it Indiana

For the record, I am worried that I am in trouble if I struggled and was ready to give up at the single crochet, as I assume there will be harder maneuvers in this process. Dedication to details and patience are not my best attributes. 

Crocheting. I hope it is easier to do than it is for me to remember how to spell it.

I have never been a good speller. In fact, I often cheated on spelling tests in school. Turns out, that was a mistake. Not because cheating is wrong (which it is), but because now I struggle to spell and have very little confidence in my spelling. Crocheting is one of those words. Every time I see it, I think it’s wrong. I am going to chalk it up to being a strange word that everyone struggles with. That’s right, it’s not just me. It’s a societal issue.

Googling “crocheting” brings up a lot of pages. It was overwhelming. “Crocheting for beginners” was a little better, but I was still lost. I read some things (that I didn’t understand) and saw designs that looked far more advanced that “beginner”. Then I found a YouTube video. I want to say it made it all seem easy, but it didn’t. I watched it three times and then promptly decided to come up with a different project. The difficulty won. However, then the feeling of defeat kicked in, and I didn’t want it to win. So the next day, I watched the video some more. Three more times to be exact and I thought that I shouldn’t give up without even holding a crochet hook (look at me knowing the lingo!). So I recommitted. I’ve set a goal to make a couple of lines. After I attempt that, we will see how I feel. I am not going to set a goal of a sweater, or booties, or a scarf. I don’t know how long any of that will take, and I am not sure where my skill level will allow me to go. So instead I will start small and do some test patches. (Although I secretly hope to make a doily or a dish cloth).

Here’s the video called How to Crochet for Absolute Beginners: Part 1. I really found it helped me to look at the technique and process better than when I was reading descriptions. Visual aid for the win. It also can’t hurt that 4.3 million people have watched the video. Although I wonder if people are like me and watched it 10 times, it’s not really that many. It also has another video that shows the next part of the process. So that seems pretty awesome.

So now that my confidence and willingness is there, I better go shopping…