Tag Archive | ECMP 355

Irony

Isn’t it rather ironic how moods and attitudes can change in a blink? Why is that?

Well, to be honest it is because we have the power to affect how we feel. I guess Mom was right when I would come home in tears because somebody pushed me or something by saying that “You are the boss of you and only you can make you feel sad.” In a way, I guess that is a watered down version of how my life is now. Something happens and I can deal with it in a few ways: I can either get mad, upset,  do something about it, or not let it bother me. Each has its own implications–getting mad will both make you upset and won’t help the situation (it could make someone else upset), getting upset will just make it harder to make a rash decision, doing something about it will help to correct the problem (if you do it right), and leaving it alone means the problem may or may not go away (but either way you do not have permission to complain about the outcome).

So what sparked my enthusiasm for the topic was my views towards the university, specifically UR Self-Service. So, you may ask – what could possibly be wrong with the university? Haven’t they always been very very helpful and overly accomodating? (Can you hear the sarcasm?) Well, it turns out that they actually are! I registered for my classes this morning but to my dismay, PSYC 210 was FULL – to be exact there was already an extra body in the class that shouldn’t have even been there. Now, I tried everything the fake the computer into letting me take the course, but with no success. So I was angry and sad. Very sad. My schedule is such that I cannot possibly take any classes other than what I have because my uncle decided (a year ago) to get married in the middle of finals… in the Dominican Republic and my family is going. This means that all my finals had to be “crammed” into the small space before April 25, when we leave. The classes I wanted to take all had to have an early final, which was not easy! But I figured it out (fewf!). I was horrified when my 210 class was full.

So what did I do? I went to my education counsellor. She gave me a form. I filled it out. She sent me to the Department of Psychology. They looked at my form (giving me hope!) then said, “Go to the secretary at Campion” (my class is on Campion). So I went to see her.  She sent me to the Registrar, but on my way (literally 15 feet) I was intercepted with a “go to your prof’s office – it will for sure happen that way!” by a nice girl who was innocently doing homework. So I went back to the secretary to get my prof’s office number. I went to her office. She was away for a few hours. I went home. I went back to her office. She smiled, signed the box, and sent me to the Registrar (again!). I got there and she clicked a couple of times and said “You’re in.” That was easy – not really but in the end it wasn’t too bad. In the mean time, I had travelled the campus in a full circle and climbed 28 flights of stairs. But that is just what it took to get my university to work for me. In the long run, it was just a little excercise!

So, to explain my point – I origonally got very frustrated with the U of R for their lack of helping-out in my situation. Then I got upset and bogged down by the sixty billion offices I visited (but each with a smile on my face)  but when I had a chance to calm down and finally got my problem solved, I was really happy. Now, why couldn’t I have sucked it up and just been happy the whole time? Because I let little things control my emotions and ultimately my stress level. Really, to be utterly happy, I just need to not sweat the small stuff. It is that simple, yet so hard to do.

So I beg to ask why we let things control our emotions? Why should one small glitch in my otherwise great life be so upsetting? I understand it is partly human nature, but why should I let stress run my life? I read a study the other day where something like 50% of women age 20-25 let stress run (and drastically affect their health) their lives. It is crazy. So, what can I do to save my self from this contageous stress disease? Well, deep breaths and looking at the big picture. Was anyone hurt? No. Did anyone die? No. Did I potentially cause myself great harm? No. Would it have lost someone their job? No. Did I cause anyone any hurt feelings?  No. Was a baby crying because of it? Not even close. So why, even after all of this, do I let stress run my life? Well, I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I need to always take a moment, step back, and analyse the situation. For example, the MythBusters did an episode about escaping from a car when you drive off a bridge into water. The people who react and panic to get out drown, but if you are patient, you conserve your energy, hold your breath and then wait until the car fills up (to get equal pressure on either side of the door) to escape, you end up alive, with air to spare. This needs to be my new life. Patience is a virtue (as Mom allllllwaaaaayyyysss says).

The Power of Facebook

Hey everyone,

So I was just inspired. I was on facebook. Yes, you heard me – facebook has inspired me to write a blog.

Well, after my numbers rant, I decided that I kind of like to rant (or rave) on specific topics. Today, my target is facebook.

Most of you probably have facebook. I know I do. I don’t know that I could be classified as OCFD (Obsessive Compulsive Facebook Disorder) but I do know that I log in very regularly. I wouldn’t say an unhealthy amount, but more than I thought I ever would when I signed up for the digital drug we all call facebook. Not going to lie, but I need my daily fix they way some people need coffee (I usually prefer my facebook in the afternoon though, not in the early morning).

Facebook has truly transformed my life, as well as the lives of those around us for many reasons. To start off with, I love its birthday reminder. When I first got a hotmail (I think I was maybe eleven, but I loved to get junk mail because it made me feel important) I signed up for that email birthday tracker, but honestly, how many people would actually respond to the website and send out their birthday info? Maybe six? With facebook, I know when almost all my friends birthdays are. I can send them a birthday wish, or remember to phone them up for coffee or something. I am terrible at remembering birthdays (it’s genetic sadly, as my dad forgot my sixteenth birthday) so with this, I don’t really have to. Of course, my Gramma doesn’t have facebook, let alone a computer, so I’ll just be extra  careful to remember it, but for the most part, all of the birthdays I would normally forget, I now can be reminded! Honestly, who can remember 400 people’s birthdays? (Answer: facebook).

Facebook also is great for notifying. This leads into my slowly evolving epiphany. To start, I went to Ireland for three weeks this summer and was completely incommunicato for the entire time, which was nice to be completely disconnected, which, I again won’t lie, was very nice. But when I got back, I didn’t know what had happened all summer, had 200 some emails, and bunch of notifications on my facebook home page. I got caught up pretty quickly (but it was aided by a few sleepovers and coffee breaks). So I began not to think of myself as a facebook junkie, as much, at least because I know if I really want to, I can quit and not die.

Next event that aided my epiphany – when I got home, I began to slowly resume my life. I started dating my boyfriend, and then changed my relationship status – with in 24 hours friends from everywhere (including Italy) were inquiring and keeping updated. It was kind of weird, but cool to see how just a ten second post got to so many people.

Another thing that helped my epiphany evolve was today: I logged on to facebook, and low and behold, my friend is engaged! Holy! You see, I haven’t really been able to talk to her for about a year and a half now, just because since high school our lives have gone in separate directions. Now, honestly, I would have never known that had it not been for facebook.

So I’ll get to my point now, my epiphany. I have decided that facebook isn’t just about having another account somewhere and just solely for social purposes. It is a very effective medium for communication. You can easily connect with friends (I can chat with my Aunt and cousin in Nova Scotia easily) and network (I am friends with the editor of a magazine completely dedicated to baton twirling), catch up on what’s new in the lives of your friends, share pictures (instead of mailing around albums or paying to print of a bazillion copies of a roll of film) and video, support causes, show pride in groups, become a fan of specific things (I don’t think I am a fan of anyone/thing right now, but we’ll see) and so much more. How cool is that? Really and truly, you couldn’t possibly be able to email with four hundred friends to see how they are all doing. It just isn’t feasible. But you can with facebook.

Now, I know that there are still skeptics out there who refuse to join the digital drug or try to just be different (AKA my boyfriend) but facebook has become a medium for communication, not just a website. Facebook has even become regular in language! [“Wanna go for coffee?” “Oh sure! Just facebook me when and where!”, “I’ll put these pics on facebook”, “When are you coming home?” “I’ll write on your wall when I geth home.”] All of these examples just go to prove that facebook is part of our culture the way hamburgers are.

The is one major problem, as there is with any drug – abuse. When does facebook become unhealthy? When does it become a replacement for normal social functioning? When does it become an alterior life? When is it unproffessional to facebook with an aquaintance?  These are all boundaries that are personal and need to be set and strictly enforced by the user. I know how hard it can be to say “only five minutes today, then I must do my homework” but it needs to be done. It is key to set out guidelines for appropriate use as well.

My coach, who moved to Virginia, would not add us as friends until she moved away, just to keep a professional distance. My choral instructor wouldn’t add us until we graduated from high school. I use a limited profile for my students who add me.

Okay, that brings me to another point. I think there is some problem when a seven year old has facebook. Firstly, she lied about her age to get it. Secondly, she can barely spell so she can barely type. Thridly, why isn’t she out playing with her friends? This really concerns me, almost more than little kids with cell phones.

 

So in conclusion of this rather crazy and somewhat incoherant rant, I have to say that facebook is like coffee. It is great, however you like it. There just comes a point when it is too much. So, pretty much all I’m saying is that there needs to be boundaries, but those boundaries shouldn’t stop you from networking and interacting. Facebook is somewhat new medium for communication, so don’t stamp it out, but handle with care.

Numbers

It’s it fascinating that a number can mean the world. Just some dumb symbol can make or break you. They are everywhere.

“How did you do on your math test?”
“Oh, I got an 89.”

Does that even remotely answer the question. Had the asker wanted a number they would have stated, “In which percentile did you score on your mathematics examination?” but instead, the true purpose of the question was to identify how the test taker thinks he or she performed on the given task. A simple “I did very well” would suffice.

Now I know that this sounds ridiculously nerdy, and believe me, I know it is, but I am this way because of numbers. They are everywhere! I feel like I am being followed, like some freaking horror film (I see numbers. They are coming for me. You’re next.) It’s almost scary (well it is) how much I am surrounded. For instance, my favourite sport/pastime baton. How many numbers do you think I encounter at baton? Well, let me tell you, it is a lot, now that I think about it. To start off, I twirl a 30″ baton, I have size 8 shoes, my competition tights are suntan 305 (or some other number), my class begins at 6:30, I have to do one hundred thumb flips on all four hands, I use 5 hair elastics to make my bun in my hair, I twirl with 6 other girls, I am the oldest by one year, my coach has taught for 56 years, when counting the music we count in sets of eight, I choreographed 8 8’s on Saturday, when being judged I score 6.5-8.8 on average, it is ranked out of ten, I place first/second/third/etc., and the list goes on…

Scary isn’t it? Look to your left. Tell me you don’t see a number. I dare you. Hidden in everything is a number, whether it be a bar code, the height of a table, the number of times you have or should have dusted last month, the number of grams/milligrams/ounces/whatevers on a bottle, the date you purchased something, a note you wrote with a friends cell phone number, or just plain old addition/subtraction bed sheets (not that my brother ever had those – not going to lie, I want them now), not to mention the thread count on those sheets.

Are you scared yet? I know I am, but here’s the thing – my life revolves around numbers. Besides being a preservice math teacher, I am a number addict. Everything has to have numbers. [Not to point out irony in the making or anything, but my brother just came home and my mom is chopping something out. I hear my brother crunching, then my mother exclaim “Hey! Those are counted!” I’m assuming “those” refers to carrots or something, but needless to say, this proves my point. And, just to go off on a tangent, the general retort to “Hey! Those are counted!” is “Well then, subtract one.” Works every time.]

Back to my point,  numbers are attached to everything. Do you have a bank account? Holy, but there is a ridiculous amount of numbers in there! You have a PIN, an account number, a balance, transaction numbers, branch numbers, credit card numbers, cheque numbers, a number of bank accounts, and I really could go on!

Even people have numbers! My student number at LeBoldus was 36001277. I have another student number at the U of R, I’m five foot three, I have ten toes, eleven fingers (actually just ten, but I have a cyst on my left wrist that swells and looks like a stub, so I’ve deemed it my eleventh finger), I have a cell phone number (finally), I take five classes at the U of R, I teach for 10-15 hours every week, I have an alarm clock in my room, I have a three calendars, I own two pairs of dress slacks, my iPod has 452 songs on it, on a scale of one to ten my mood is about an 8 right now, and I can get even more ridiculous and nit-picky if you want.

I’m not trying to scare anyone off, but numbers are like dust: they are everywhere and no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, they will hunt you down, especially if its electronic equipment. I read somewhere that electronic equipment gets dusty twice as fast as regular wood furniture. Now, not to bring up numbers or anything, but a computer is based on numbers, base two to be exact: 00001 01100 00111 11110 11111 is what the computer understands. Crazy isn’t it?

Now, after all this, I am not saying that numbers are bad. Good lord, they are AMAZING. Who would have thought that some Arabic dude a bazillion years ago was scribbling and decided that two stacked loops would be an eight and it would mean that you had a pile of sticks that looked like |||||||| (<– that). All I have to say is way to go, who ever you are!

Anyway, the time is 5:43, and I am done my first rant about numbers.

Not add irony, but my mom just poked her nose in the door and asked me to empty the dishwasher… by six o’clock.

PS. I just found this video. It’s amazing. You most definitely should watch it.

Google Teaching Tools

Hi everybody!

So for this week, I decided to put google to the test (as per our assignment). I started off by just checking out the site and what it has to offer. I noticed a really awesome page for teachers to use with their students ( http://www.google.com/educators/index.html ). It displays recent projects and news from google so currently most of it is a bunch of links to election related material. Although I am not a social teacher, I think that these could be very good resources to use to get my students to write about for an english class (for example). It has mock elections, election video links, a “Letters to the next president” (I’m hoping they come out with a Canadian edition soon!), and lots of other great tools. I think this would be so helpful in teaching students about politics and national issues, or at least provide a topic to spark an interest for an assignment. I wish that my teacher (especially social studies) had used something like this to get me interested, excited, or even just informed about what is actually going on in the political world. I really hope they come out with a Canadian version, though. If they do, I will definitly try to incorperate it into my class.

I also found a page of google related posters. Some of them would be helpful to display near and computer, especially if I plan on using google tools. I don’t know that they would be all that helpful, but for students to have a reminder of how the tool their are using works, then I might hang up a poster or two.

Finally, I stumbled upon at site called “Google Lit Trips”( http://www.googlelittrips.com/ ) which basically uses google earth to “fly over” the cities or places mentioned in various books. This would be helpful for students to actually see what they reading about or follow the path of a character over the course of a chapter, or even an entire book. This is an excellent idea for better comprehension and would be what I would think to be a fun activity for students to do. There are also lots of helpful links on the page with various teacher’s guides etc., to use for inspiration.

I only have two big problems with the Teacher Tools. Firstly, as I said above, its not Canadian, so there won’t be some material that Canadian teachers might want. Secondly (and this is a big secondly), there is not a full subject range of tools. There is absolutely nothing (that I could find) that is even remotely math related. Being a math major, this disappointed me a lot.

Overall, for the general teaching population, this would be a GREAT site to use, but for a select few Canadian math teachers, probably not so much.

My Survey!

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Hello world! Above is the link to my google survey. I’m trying to send out an email as we speak, but if anyone else is in ECMP 355 and wants to fill it out (where ever you are, Regina, Toronto, China, etc) go right ahead!

Technology and Teaching

Hi there world!

For me, technology has always been in school with me, since around grade five. Then, our school purchased enough computers for everyone to have 4 in their classroom. This was a big help allowing students easy access to computers to work on projects, etc. In grade six, as a part of the ELP (Extended Learning Program), students were put in groups to design a webpage for each teacher. They sent us to Miller for a day long seminar on how to build a web site and we in turn went back to our teacher and built a class webpage. In grade eight, the principal purchased DDR for grades 6 – 8 classrooms to use during indoor recess, lunch hours, and as a part of the gym classes. This was exciting and got kids up and moving instead of sitting around. Also, this acted as an incentive for good behaviour for the entire class.

In highschool, we regularly made trips to the computer lab to build presentations or do research. In grade twelve, my entire computer science course was done with a smart board (http://smarttech.com/), which was very helpful in demonstrating how the code was going to work and what needed to happen for a successful program to execute. Also, in my AP Calculus course in second semester my teacher was granted the use of a big screen tv mounted in the corner of his room to which his graphing calculator was connected. This was extremely helpful because we could see what he was telling us to do or he could spew out a graph at the drop of the hat to reitterate a point.

 

In a K-12 classsroom, having technology could be very beneficial. Being able to contact other classrooms in different areas of the world or even across the country could enrich the learning experience greatly, especially in elementary school. Giving students the oppurtunity to explore the world through all the websites and programs available is very important. The computer has so many options for teaching one topic that all learners can learn how they learn best, where as a single teacher cannot reasonably teach seven or eight different ways for every topic to accomodate every students learning style. The twenty first century is so technology based, it would be almost cruel not to give students the chance to take advantage of such a wonderful advancement.

However, technology should not be abused. There is no reason for a seven year old to have a blackberry to do their math with. Lots of skills still need to be learned. There is a point where using a spellchecker becomes “abusive” to a degree. Certain skills need to be developed before technology truly can be enriching. As much as a calculator or cell phone can do, we don’t want to spoil students’ ability to function by giving them so much technology that they do not have to think for themselves – for example, when they grow up, they shouldn’t require a calculator to go grocery shopping and figure which can of soup costs more or how much half a kilogram of fruit will cost.

 

My reason for taking ECMP 355 is to be able to aid students by offering them the best possible education. Technology has the power to do so much, and I want to know how I can use it to benefit my classroom. I hope to learn great techniques for implementing computers into my teaching. I hope that my instructor can fulfill my needs and explain everything simply so that I can pass it on (so far so good!). I would like to learn about and how to use new technology.