Byron Alexander

My Journey to Becoming a Teacher

Category: EDTC 300 (page 1 of 2)

What is the Matrix?

That is a great question Neo!

This week I was able to venture into the world of coding. I have noticed this growing trend as stores are even popping up such as Code Ninja around the city. I must admit that when I previously thought of coding it didn’t exactly fill me with excitement or a growing desire to learn more. In fact, my mind would think of The Matrix and binary numbers floating through the air.

There are numerous free websites available to try your hand at coding and I feel they would even be beneficial to utilize in the classroom in a lesson about coding. After some very preliminary research into coding it becomes apparent that the topic of coding could be used in a variety of different ways in the classroom. After all, coding is everywhere around us, from sending a tweet to swiping a debit card, there are a set of instructions that have been written that a computer can understand and then perform a certain function.

The focus of my coding for this week was around creating a simple game through the website code.org. While I understand that what I was doing was very elementary in regards to coding, it was still a fun exercise that I feel students would also enjoy. Through the process of simply dragging and dropping commands I was able to create my own version of Flappy Bird. Check out my screencast to show you how the process worked…


Although I did not grow up in an era where there was much of a focus on coding in schools, technology is more and more prevalent with each passing year. Utilizing something that is already of interest to students can be a great way to jump start the discussion around internet safety and how rapidly it is evolving. There are so many available resources that including coding in the classroom can be an interactive and fun activity. And if that still doesn’t do it for you, just show them The Matrix!

Fake news?

The amount of news at our finger tips these days is more than anyone could ever comprehend, and the amount of it that is simply not true is even more staggering. From what seemed to be reliable media outlets broadcast news that seems to be fabricated, too retweets and sharing of fake news among people on social media, the amount of fake news seems to be overtaking the real news in a landslide. The spreading of this fake news through social media outlets such as fake news is not by coincidence, studies show that the most important catalyst of fake news was the precision in which the purveyor targeted the audience. This article goes on to explain how the fake news can spread like wildfire when the initial targeted audience is poorly informed and struggle to tell if news is real or fake. So how do we educate people in determining if news is fake or not?

Fake news has been around forever, the only difference appears to be the skill that these fake news creators have obtained. When teaching about collective digital literacy in the classroom there are many effective strategies that can be employed to help teach these skills at a young age. Using real world examples of fake news can be an easy way to show students how fake news can be so easily believed and spread. Additionally, we must teach students to identify bias using a variety of media bias charts can be a great way to understand that all stories have a perspective attached to them. Being able to separate fact from opinion is much more difficult that it would seem and as Damon Brown mentions in his TED Talk about How to Choose Your News he mentions that very thing and stresses the importance of reading from multiple outlets as we must verify news before spreading it.

As we increase the usage of technology in the classroom we must be sure to stress the goals of the NCTE framework and in particular, that delivering inaccurate information is dangerous. While we might think that sharing clickbait type news stories will be great for mentions or likes, it can have unintentional effects on society. By not fact checking news before spreading it you could be contributing to a message that has a much deeper, darker meaning that you intended. Furthermore, we have Heads of State that seem to spread fear through misinformation on the regular. Finally, Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Kildebrandt provide a list of strategies that can be used in dealing with fake news, from investigative techniques to critical disposition, this article provides information that can be taken into the classroom as we strive to create digitally literate students. Although it may be next to impossible to rid ourselves of fake news, by educating students we can help turn the trend for the better.

Intro…

This last week of my learning project was unlike anything I have ever experienced. With everything going on I found it difficult to devote much time to it to be honest as there were seemingly plenty of other things to do. However, I was able to put in some more time towards learning All of Me by John Legend. I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the intro to the song and I am currently working my way through the remainder.

Check out my progress…

While the video is short and sweet, it is progress nonetheless. I will tell you, while it doesn’t necessarily look like much, using both hands it much more difficult that is appears. One great piece of news is that I found a new video that completely breaks down the song into six separate parts, which I think will really help me be successful in my journey.

I have found some easier versions for the second part, so I may only utilize this for the intro, but we will see how it goes.

I hope everyone is keeping healthy and taking this opportunity to spend some time with their immediate family and loved ones. Until next time…

Is that Byron or John Legend…

My learning project has been coming along nicely as I recently completed week 7 of the project. I did not practice as much as I would have liked to this past week but still feel that I am progressing. As I mentioned last week I have decided to devote my time to learning a song. The song that I have chosen is All of Me by John Legend . I almost have the beginning of the song down pat as I have found a great tutorial on Youtube that shows the chords to play at a very slow pace. After practicing at the pace of the tutorial for awhile I was caught off guard by how fast the actual song seemed when I went back and listened. But I figure if I can get a good handle on the chords at a slow pace I can slowly continue to increase my speed as I get more comfortable.

This is John, he is a legend

I have found that I no longer get hands cramps while playing piano and that in itself is a success in my mind. It is an incredibly instrument to try and self teach yourself, I would love to one day take lessons from an instructor. As for now, I will continue to utilize Youtube videos and my daughters learn to play piano book. On that note, has anyone taken piano lessons from anyone in the city that they would recommend?

On that note, I must get back to practicing if I want to serenade the masses one day. Thank you for reading, until next time.

Cyber Sleuthing/Digital Identity

This week I am writing about cyber sleuthing, we did a fun engaging exercise in our last EDTC300 class in which we performed cyber sleuthing of people online (all the people we were given to do this on had given permission). It was amazing how much information you could compile about someone from simply accessing their social media accounts and using google. From where people live, the dynamics of their family and their profession and hobbies. It was somewhat unsettling realizing how easy it was to gather all this information in such a short period of time. Combining this with the growing trend of cyber shaming and it highlights the seriousness of online shaming and bullying. Monica Lewinsky speaks about the price of shame and how quickly she went from an unknown to a worldwide figure as her scandal become public knowledge through the media and internet. She says, “public shaming as a bloodspot has to stop” and she is right.

Our wonderful instructor Ms. Hildebrandt writes an incredibly intriguing blog about catfishing and how crazy it has become. Take a few minutes to read her story as it shows exactly how “the internet is an utterly crazy place” as she tells the story of a catfisher/catfishing victim who seems to lack common sense, but what she lacks in common sense she makes up for in nonsense. I simply cannot summarize the complexity of this woman, Srkj, without recounting the entire blog post. But this example shows how someones digital identity can become victim to identity fraud in a way as this individual who Ms. Hildebrandt references, Alec Couros, seemingly has to tirelessly fight to protect his online identity from scammers. As I previously mentioned, this story is definitely worth a read to better tell the story than I ever could.

Left side, strong side…

This week I chose to focus on my left hand more since I was struggling when it came to playing anything with both hands. I feel that (being right-handed) I am starting to feel fairly comfortable in playing the piano with my right hand, however, my left hand is definitely the weakest link. I utilized YouTube this week to find a couple lessons that focused on left handed playing and while they were fairly basic, I found them to be beneficial. I enjoyed one of the videos for the first half of the instruction and then I found that the instructor dialed up the difficultly and lost me at that point. It was at this moment where I had to change the way I was doing things. I have found myself starting to lose interest in the piano as I feel as though I am smashing on the same keys over and over again to see minimal progress. Yes, I know I know! I must slow down and stick to the process, but that is so much easier said that done and I want to play some music now!

So, I have taken the approach going forward that I am going to learn a song! I am narrowing it down to a couple and am going to decide in next weeks blog post as to which one I am going to choose. I am leaning towards All Of Me by John Legend, but I am definitely open to suggestions. But enough typing for now, I must practice if I wish you master a song before the end of this semester. Thanks for reading, until next time.

Conversation about Digital Citizenship

This week, Scott and I did a mock conversation of a concerned parent who was asking questions as to why his child was using Youtube in the classroom. See below…

Here are the links that we used for this assignment…

https://www.virtuallibrary.info/digital-citizenship.html

They’re creepy and they’re kooky…

Each week of my learning project has taken on a life of its own, what I mean by that is that I tend to find a theme while practicing and that tends to be the focus. In weeks past I have focused on children’s songs, playing notes and this week (I am not sure how) I found myself learning the Addams Family theme song! I was able to find some really awesome tutorials on Youtube that made learning this song seem somewhat obtainable, while I have yet to master the “quicker” parts of the song I am starting to see some progress. Playing different notes with both hands has proven to be incredibly difficult, it reminds me of my old math teacher who would tap the top of his head with one hand and rub his belly with the other.

Accurate picture of me after kids bedtime and piano practice

I have found the best practice time to be after we put the kids to bed (albeit it requires my to play quietly) as I can focus on the task at hand and not have wondering little fingers pressing random keys at every opportunity. The funny thing about trying to learn this song has been that I feel I look similar to Lurch on those evening practice sessions.

Tickling the ivories…

Week 4 has come and gone as I continue my journey towards becoming a master pianist. While I can not say I am “there” yet, I think I am starting to see some progress. However, practicing has grown to be increasingly difficult as every time I press a key its like a dog whistle to my son as he comes running over to try mash away on the keys, so most of my practice time involves me defending the keys with on hand from this piano crazed toddler while playing sweet rhythms with the other.

How I feel practicing

This week I utilized a video from Youtube that highlights the top 5 piano exercises for beginners which I found to be very helpful. I have come to notice that my left hand is much more coordinated than my right, even though I am right handed! Also, my right hand tends to cramp up much faster too, I will have to look at my form as that must have something to do with it. Well, if I hope to improve at piano I must quit spending time typing on here and “type on the keyboard”, til next time…

Tweet Tweet…

Over the past 15 years Twitter has become a staple of social media as it provides people with a source to find information or a platform to express their thoughts, which could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. Twitter can be personalized to provide the user whatever they are looking for. Based off who you choose to follow you can create a timeline full of political takes, sports updates or even educational resources. I have found Twitter to be beneficial in growing my professional network and in implementing reflective practice as I learn new ideas, see what has and has not worked in the classroom from other educators and strengthened my knowledge base.

During my time in using Twitter I have come across some great educational resources that have already provided me with resources I plan to use for years to come, from Edutopia to Ted Talks there are so many possibilities that I have found very beneficial for an inspiring educator.

This past week I took part in the Sask Ed Chat with my fellow classmates and also other educators from Canada and even a few from the USA. This was my first time in participating in a twitter chat to this magnitude and found it to be a very fast paced, enjoyable experience. It was great to hear from others who are currently working in the classroom as they were able to give real life examples as opposed to the theoretical discussions that normally dominate University classes.

Last but certainly not least, maybe the greatest thing about Twitter would be the Gifs and memes it provides that seem to swallow up hours of time that would otherwise be used being productive!

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