Just like that, the spring 2023 semester has come to a close! Thank you to everyone for sharing your ideas, thoughts, and experiences that contributed to this learning experience! I have genuinely learned so much this semester and have already started to put much of the learning into practice in my classroom.
I hope you enjoy my mediocre acting and my dog’s film debut in my summary of learning!
This week I decided to work with textures on clay. In wheel throwing it is more challenging to use textures because the clay is so wet and delicate coming off the wheel. There are some techniques that can be used once the clay is leather dry, such as using hand tools to texturize, however, I have never tried these either.
After doing some research on youtube, I decided to try two techniques.
Check out the youtube videos that I used for texture inspiration and learning here:
And how to create a slab-built bowl:
Here is how my experience went:
From the videos, flower pressing seemed like such a simple and elegant way to add a natural texture to clay. You can then glaze the pottery to really make the floral imprints stand out! I mean what could go wrong? Apparently a lot! I tried doing a few different types of flowers and greenery, and they all failed. Other than the stems, the flowers and leaves did not imprint how I was imagining and ended up not looking like much in the clay. As we don’t have many flowers in our yard, I decided to not have any more floral fatalities and leave nature be on this one.
The texture rollers work really well. It took me some time to get a good pace and consistent pressure and I was rolling. I found that the slower you go with the roller, the better! The rollers that I purchased from Amazon were tiny. Therefore, for my bowl, I had to do multiple rolls on the slab. With the texture pattern not covering the entire roller, I found that as I rolled a second or third time, it would start to erase or press out some of the texture from the previous roll. Therefore, if you want to make something bigger or wider, a larger texture roller would be valuable! Once I put together my bowl with the rimmed bottom I was pretty disappointed with the results. The clay did not fold over the bowl nicely and ended up being a wonky, abstract rim. Will I keep this bowl? Probably not. Following making the bowl, I tried to make a textured mug however it ended up cracking as it was drying, so again cannot be used. I think I am going to try making some simple round coasters to fire so that I can see what the textures look like glazed. However, I am definitely learning that texturizing is not my favourite technique!
For the last week of my slab-building journey, I am going to do a kiln opening so you can see what everything looks like glazed and fired!
Open Education was a completely foreign topic to me only a few days ago. However, it is already a direction that I think the education system can benefit from leaning into. My interpretation of open education is that it is the idea that educators can share, collaborate, and access tools, ideas, and resources openly and freely through digital means. Ultimately this will lead to inclusivity through equal access to education.
Retrieved from https://www.yearofopen.org/open-education/
Open education and open educational resources would provide more opportunities for students. In the FIAP program that I work in, students are continually working on life and vocational skills. Having the opportunity to access courses or resources that would help build their resume would provide more opportunities in the post-secondary world.
That being said, after searching several different variations of wording, there appear to be very few open education courses that are designed for students with intellectual disabilities. This is not to say that my students could not access and succeed in courses that are available, however, in many cases, they may need extra support in completing them. In the future, I would love to be able to see and contribute to more inclusive open education opportunities that meet the needs of diverse students.
However, because open education resources are shared, developed, and adapted online, it creates barriers for those who do not have easy access to technology. It is because of this that I cannot help but continue to wonder – is open education really equitable? And how can we bridge this gap in ensuring that equal opportunities can be provided?
Last week I reviewed a few different types of social media platforms in terms of their access to tutorials for slab-building pottery. What came of that was youtube and blogs had a lot of good visual information that helped make the slab-building process smooth! TikTok on the other hand, although had visual aids, did not have the same detailed instruction because of the shorter videos and less verbal or written instruction. With last week going smoothly following along with a detailed blog post, I decided to use only TikTok to learn how to make a squared bottom mug (which is different from the one I created last week) and compare my experiences!
My inspiration for making these square bottomed handbuilt mugs came from a local Regina Potter whose business name is Wildfire Ceramic Studio. She makes beautiful handcrafted mugs that you can buy periodically when she drops them on her website and at Mortise and Tenon in Regina.
Retrieved from Wildfire Ceramics Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/p/Croe27oPQBN/
The video inspiration from TikTok that I used was from a creator named Hannah Notsch. I watched it a few times to try to best understand the visual component of the skills.
Here is how my mug creating process turned out!
I was able to create a product that could function
The visual aspect of being able to watch someone create was helpful
I could watch and review as many times as I liked
Being able to save the video to my phone and on my TikTok account for easy access and reaccess was super helpful
The video was short and concise, therefore I did not need to fast-forward throw unnecessary steps
I could pause and rewind the video as needed
Some steps were unclear. For example, when I was cutting my triangles out of the bottom of the mug, I did not know how big to make them
Because TikTok videos are so short, I had to go back several times to really get a grab on each step and skill. I was not able to follow along in real-time with the video.
There was no audio component to the particular one that I was able to find
No troubleshooting is offered in the event that you run into any issues. For example, my clay started to crack while I was folding it. I was able to add some water, however, if I did not have any prior knowledge of working with clay, I may not have come to that conclusion on my own. Meaning that you would need to look for other sources outside of TikTok to troubleshoot.
In the future when looking up different projects to do, I think I am going to be sticking with youtube and blog posts for help with instructions as they provide more details. However, TikTok is a great place to start to get inspiration and ideas for what you would like to create! Once I improve more at slab-building, I may even be able to follow along to TikTok tutorials a bit easier!
Next week I am going to explore adding textures to clay and see what some of the best options are for doing this technique!
Social media and activism have certainly played a role in my life. Upon learning about my own privileges back in 2014, it became very important for me to play an active role in social justice and anti-oppressive work. A large part of my learning was through Instagram and following activists and leaders in the area to learn from. However, until reading ‘What Kind of (Digital) Citizen?‘, I did not realize I was only functioning largely on a personally responsible citizenship level. Here are some of my favourite justice oriented activists that I follow:
Some of the things that I have learned over the years from these and other activists in terms of my role as a person of privilege on social media are:
Performative activism is not enough to make real change. Taking conversations beyond putting a filter on a picture is where real change happens. It is important to start with yourself and be able to deconstruct your own learnings and thoughts that may contribute to our oppressive society. From there, expand to your inner circles of family and friends in being able to have open conversations about societal issues and social justice.
My voice as a person of privilege does not need to hold space in every social justice setting. However, my ability to use my privilege to listen to and amplify the voices of those who are greatly impacted does matter.
There will be times when you make mistakes. If you are trying to learn, and are open and gracious to learning new ways of speaking, thinking, and living, then you are on the right track.
Retrieve from https://static.wixstatic.com/media/ccc935_d86787a1ac994575a1395aa2540ffc64~mv2.jpg/v1/fill/w_560,h_560,al_c,lg_1,q_80/ccc935_d86787a1ac994575a1395aa2540ffc64~mv2.jpg
Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?
In order to really review how meaningful social media activism is, I had to look at some research from the Pew Research Center. According to surveys done in the US, the majority of people believe that social media activism is able to bring widespread awareness to people. There are so many movements that could be deemed successful because of social media and its ability to access so many people. However, people also acknowledge that social media activism can give individuals and organizations a false sense of action, meaning that they feel like they are making meaningful change by posting and sharing. This could also be considered performative allyship. Therefore, it is important to listen to voices leading the cause to best understand what their goals are and how we can all contribute to help!
My friend Len Goertz took to Instagram recently to talk about performative allyship in the context of Pride month this June. Check out his video here! This concept does not only apply to people but businesses and corporations. It is important as a consumer to be critical and consider where the messages they are posting on social media are coming from. Additionally, what actions beyond social media are being taken.
Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?
There are times however when there are conflicting viewpoints. Often these conversations will be surrounded by dialogue where they are trying to change the other person’s perspective. The following TedTalk video discussed how a person’s beliefs, values, and who they trust can impact being able to do this. This can be challenging to do when you are conversing with strangers online. That being said, you do not need to change someone’s mind to have a productive conversation. Netsafe wrote an article on how to respectfully disagree with someone online. In the article they discuss staying calm, using first-person statements, not getting personal, acknowledging the person’s point of view, and knowing when to leave the conversation. The question is, how often are these principles applied?
What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?
Direct teaching of digital citizenship is incredibly important in education. It is inevitable that students will be accessing social media and interacting with others online. On average students begin to access social media at about twelve and a half years old. Therefore being able to model how to be responsible and respectful digital citizens plays a large role in educating students. For educators, being aware of what we are sharing online is incredibly important and tells others who we are and what we stand for. Being a responsible citizen can include privacy settings, demonstrating who and how to interact with others online, and how to critically think about what you are reading or looking at in order to stay safe.
Now that I have collected all of my supplies and practiced basic slab-rolling techniques, it is time to make my first attempt at the magical art of slab-building pottery! Was I nervous? Absolutely! It took close to 100 hours of wheel throwing to finally feel comfortable with those skills before I was ready to share my work with the world. So to share my beginning pieces right away with this new skill is certainly intimidating!
To help boost my confidence, I decided to try slab-building a mug, which is a common piece of pottery that I have made on the wheel. Here is how that went:
Step 1: Tutorial Search
TikTok: Although TikTok is a great resource for sharing ideas, resources, and hacks, it is not a great place to start for tutorials for learning how to slab build a mug. When searching, there are a lot of sped-up videos that contain parts of the building process, however, the videos do not often share details of the steps or where they got their materials or supplies. Even these videos were few and far between. More often than not, TikTok videos simply shared finished products that were slab built, but not the process.
Blogs: Searching blogs for slab-building pottery mugs gave a more detailed description of how the process works. I found and used a great blog from Pottery Wheel that gave me all of the resources and tools that I needed to make my first attempt at building a mug. Many blog posts provide a written explanation, photos and videos for a person to follow along.
Youtube: Youtube is also a great resource for finding step by step slab-building tutorials and ideas! Many options come up with a simple search of “how to slab build a pottery mug”. Some of my favourites are from Karan Pots and Glass. The video format for a tutorial makes it easy to follow along due to the visual component. Plus, you can pause, fast-forward, or rewind as much as needed!
Step 2: Find a Template
Pottery Wheel’s blog provided the most useful resource for templates called Template Maker. Although I believe intended for making paper crafts, you can make multiple 3D shape templates and customize them in any measurements that you need. I ended up customizing a cone shape that I printed out on 11x17inch paper. I then laminated the template so it would last through many mugs (assuming it goes well the first time!).
Step 3: Build
Here is a sneak peek at my building process!
I really found Pottery Wheel’s steps easy to follow and were a great guide. Is it the prettiest thing that I have made? Absolutely not! But for my first go, I am quite happy with it! I definitely made my template a little too big so it is going to be a ginormous mug, but the more coffee the better, right?
Next week I am going to play around with a square-bottomed mug, which is a new technique where you cut off parts of the bottom and reconnect them to change the shape!
Twitter has always been a foreign universe for me. It is something that I briefly explored at the beginning of my first teaching job (the classic overachieving first-year teacher) and used to connect with teachers, principals, and division staff in my new division, share resources and things that I was trying out in my new role as an LRT, and develop a PLN. I had big hopes and dreams for what this would look like, however, that quickly petered out as I became overwhelmed with the new adventures that come along with being a new teacher and did not feel like I could keep up with a new job, and creating and sharing content on Twitter. Therefore, my Twitter presence was very short-lived.
Now that I have had the opportunity to dive a bit deeper and more intentionally into Twitter, I am seeing its benefits! I have really enjoyed sharing and learning from my classmates and understand how it can be an important part of a PLN. My grasp of why so many people utilize Twitter as a professional resource is expanding the more I use the platform. Here are a few things that I have noted throughout my experiences with using Twitter over the last month:
I have to admit when I retweet organizations or other people’s content and they respond, I get a bit of a thrill!
Learning from all of my classmates and other professionals on Twitter has definitely already had an impact on how I use tech in the classroom. For example, edpuzzle was something that was brand new to me that I have now tried to incorporate into my classes.
On a personal note, I have discovered a whole new world of Swifties (aka Taylor Swift fans) that I can connect with and hear about all things Taylor (if you know, you know).
New Learnings: Tweetdeck
Although I have been doing a lot of learning, there are still so many aspects of Twitter that I feel unfamiliar with. I have attempted to understand what a tweetdeck is however, am still in the very early learning era with this concept. Based on the tips that popped up when I first opened up my Tweetdeck, it is just a different way to view Twitter on your desktop. I do like that I can create a deck or a column specifically for my ECI 831 course, including a column just to show tweets that are #ECI831. I can then add different social media education or tech ed hashtags or accounts to my deck. This is definitely helpful for organizing my Twitter, however, my understanding is that it is only available for desktop (please correct me if I’m wrong!), so my phone feels a bit chaotic in comparison.
Retrieved from https://create.twitter.com/en/products/tweetdeck
To be honest the thought of keeping up with Twitter following my ECI 831 course feels overwhelming. Although there is a lot of value in developing and staying connected with a Twitter PLN, I can certainly see myself deleting the app off my phone at the end of the course. As I said in my relationship with social media blog post, for my own mental health and wellbeing, I really try to limit my own time on social media platforms. However, I do like that Twitter is a resource that I can always come back to when I need to reconnect, find resources, or share ideas. Therefore, I think long-term it is not going to be a fairytale, happily ever after for us, but Twitter and I will have a long-distance relationship.
This week I chose to explore TikTok. Prior to 2020, the only TikTok I was familiar with was the song by Kesha however, when the app really became mainstream in 2020, I remember downloading it at the beginning of the pandemic. I was very cognizant of how much time I was spending on TikTok when I first downloaded it, particularly before bedtime. After getting in bed, I would scroll through my phone and find myself mindlessly on TikTok scrolling through videos of cats, puppies, and comedic content. About an hour or two later, after watching endless amounts of short video clips I would panic as I then realized that I was not going to get enough sleep that night. This pattern continued and I eventually decided that enough was enough and delete the app for my own wellbeing.
How it was going…
For the last few years, since deleting TikTok, I would still see videos and watch them however only on Instagram. This tweet from Gareth Waugh describes exactly where I have been in my relationship with TikTok:
Tweet by Gareth Waugh, Photo by Spartakiss VIA https://ifunny.co/picture/no-i-don-t-watch-tiktoks-i-watch-instagram-reels-5kGUmF1PA
Honestly, I was very content with my decision to not be on TikTok. However, I certainly was aware of the fact that there were references made by my coworkers and friends about TikTok trends that I was not familiar with. That being said, I never felt like this hindered my ability to socialize or do my job.
TikTok Take Two
My new EC&I 831 challenge for this week was to redownload TikTok and see what it is all about. I tried to come at this second attempt with TikTok with an open mind and a new lens. Instead of looking at TikTok as a toxic space, I wanted to see how the app could benefit me both personally and professionally. Here are some of the things I noticed about the app:
Some of my major personal interests are pottery and Taylor Swift, which both bring me so much joy! After looking up both of these topics on TikTok, watching a few videos, and following some related accounts, it did not take long for my algorithm to adjust and for related videos to pop up on my stream. That being said, there were still plenty of random videos that would pop up on my feed that would try to reel me into a new algorithm. These were often highly watched or liked videos that were trending at the time.
I always wondered how people (of all ages!) were pumping out what seemed like endless videos on the TikTok app. Once I tried it myself, I realized how user-friendly the app is in this regard. The tools that can be used to edit, add sound, or add text or other features is very straightforward and easy to use. I did not even need to google or search how to create a video and was able to wing it and successfully make two TikTok videos for my learning project.
Wow, I am blown away by how many resources and ideas there are on TikTok for educators! It is certainly a way for educators to expand their PLN. Some simple searches that I tried were:
Teacher Resources: this brought up anything from strategies used in the classroom, classroom organization ideas, useful websites, and free or accessible worksheets
Special Education Activities: this search provided specific routines and activities for students with diverse needs, such as sensory or mobility needs. It also showed some activities specific to some diagnoses, such as autism. I initially tried to search ‘inclusive education activities‘, as I prefer the language, however, fewer relevant videos came up.
School Art Projects Kids: a variety of different art projects were easily accessible! It also displayed different modes of art such as painting, clay work, drawing, etc. I also tried searching some specific art forms with different searches and plenty of options popped up. Therefore, if you know you want to do a specific art form with your class (ie. watercolor painting) you can narrow down your search easily!
In addition to accessing a variety of professional resources, TikTok could be a great differentiated way for students to show their learning. With the video editing portion of the app being so user-friendly, students would easily be able to create a video to demonstrate a skill or knowledge they have acquired. They can even do all of this without posting their video to TikTok and instead simply downloading the video to a device that can then be shared with a teacher.
Some major concerns that I personally have about TikTok still are that it is so easy to go down a rabbit hole of videos that can impact a person’s social connections, sleep patterns, and access to sensitive or inappropriate content. To learn more about TikTok and some of the considerations of parents and educators that need to be taken, I accessed Common Sense Media and TikTok’s digital well-being for some assistance! Here are some of the tools that TikTok has that help manage these concerns:
Family Pairing: Under settings and privacy you can use the family pairing feature. It allows parents or caregivers to sync with their child’s account to set and monitor their use of TikTok. With this feature, you can control the privacy of the child’s account (ie. private or public), access safety settings, restrict private messaging, and monitor screen time. As I don’t have anyone to practice this with, I would love to hear if anyone has experience using this setting and how it worked!
Screen Time: Within the settings, you can control how much daily screen time you have on the app. In this feature, you can also set break reminders if you are using the app for long periods of uninterrupted time or you can set sleep reminders for different times of the day. This can be useful, however, they can be easily ignored or worked around. Therefore you need to have some self-discipline to actually stop your own use.
Restricted Mode: This is a feature under settings that will restrict sensitive content. This seems to be based on what other people have reported. Therefore, you may still come across inappropriate content that has yet to be reported.
My Future with TikTok
Although I have certainly learned that there can be value in the use of TikTok, it is still not something I plan to access regularly. This is largely due to wanting to limit my own screen time, which I will try to do with the screen time setting on the app. I do think that it is a resource that I will come back to for professional purposes, such as getting ideas for my classroom, assignments, or projects.
With my plan to learn slab building set, I found my first step in the process to be gathering supplies. Here is where I started:
I have always purchased my clay from a local Regina business called Lakeview Pottery. As I am learning a new skill, I decided to work with clay that I am already familiar with, which is a medium temperature Plainsman clay called M340. It is a smooth, light-coloured clay that is one of the most popular options to use.
Plainsman clay from Lakeview Pottery in Regina
A sponge is an essential tool for working with clay. It allows you to apply varying amounts of water to add moisture or smooth out edges. From my wheel-throwing experience, I have always enjoyed using a round sponge, however many potters use cubed or rectangular sponges as well.
A wire tool is used to cut the clay from the original large (and deceivingly heavy) block.
Compress the clay. This helps in the firing process to reduce the likelihood of cracks developing while firing, which from experience is heartbreaking!
Smooth the clay. This allows a person to smooth any bumps or dints in the clay without adding the moisture of water as a sponge would.
As I have not used a rubber rib before, I needed to purchase one. I ended up purchasing a rib and pin tool set from Amazon.
Wooden Modeling Knife
This can be used to cut and trim the clay out of the slabs. As clay sticks to many surfaces, a wooden modeling knife is essential as wood is one of the few materials that does not adhere to the clay.
A pin tool is essentially a thin pokey metal stick. Similarly to the wooden modeling knife, the pin tool can be used to cut or trim clay from the slab. It is also used to score (see video below). This is a technique where you scratch the surface of the clay as a way to securely attached pieces of clay together.
Wood or Fabric Surface
These two types of surfaces ensure the clay will not stick and your project goes smoothly!
Depending on what you are making, you may want to use a template to trace while cutting out the slab. I currently don’t have any templates, however after a quick Pinterest search, there are many templates that can be printed out. I would imagine that you could also create your own or do this freehand.
1. Roll out the clay the old-fashioned way with a wooden rolling pin. This would look very similar to rolling out dough while baking. Pottery Wheel on Youtube does a great job of demonstrating how to roll out a slab and what surfaces to roll on!
2. Using a slab roller is another tool that can be used to easily create a consistently flat slab. These tools are generally very expensive however, I am fortunate enough to work at a school that already has one. Therefore, I am going to practice and learn how to roll our slabs with both techniques!
With all of my supplies officially gathered, I decided to test out these two slabrolling techniques, and here is how they went:
After trying both techniques, I definitely prefer using the slab roller. It is simple, more consistent, and reliable in creating an even slab. With access to the slab roller at my school, I will likely use this as my main slab technique. However, it is nice to have an alternate way to create a slab in the event that I do not have access to my school’s clay room!
Stay tuned, as I start finding templates for mugs and begin to build next week!