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Musings 6 (The Conclusion, but not the End)

While some people are undoubtedly having trouble practicing their instruments, my guitar is at home, which also happens to be the simplest place to practice for me. It is unfortunate that I find it more difficult to play than the guitars I can rent at UVic, but I have it nonetheless. I am currently quarantined and unemployed, with the rest of the world, which is unfortunate, but I have found the positivity in the situation. I have hardly had time to be creative at home, and music is one of my favourite outlets, but now I have much more time! Piano is my first instrument, so I have found myself playing the piano more often than the guitar as a creative release, but I have also been practicing the guitar more often than I was able to pre-quarantine. 

 

Post-video recording update:

To begin, I would like to acknowledge that practicing without the pressure of a camera and a grade feels much different, and I always forget how hard it is to record my songs. I also opted, again, to keep both songs in the key of G, since they were at a comfortable range for me.

I thought that after an entire semester, my fingers were finally starting to develop blisters, but unfortunately, not enough to make the filming process painless. If I am being honest, I spent about 5 hours trying to get a good recording of Hallelujah, when my other song  took less than an hour, and by the end my fingers could hardly press the strings down. I find that after about two hours, the mistakes come more often from hand and brain fatigue than simple mistakes. Compared to the difficulty of the other songs, I think Hallelujah was a bit ambitious. I am proud of myself for learning it, but I still have a ways to go until I can play it all the way through perfectly. The combination of the complex chord changes, the wordy lyrics, the lengthiness of the song, and the effort I was putting into each element was quite exhausting. It presented me with a terribly difficult challenge, and something to be desired in one of the categories each time. Finally, my mom came home and forced me to stop recording myself.

On a more positive note, I really enjoyed learning 8, and was able to master it, as well as record the song (which I thankfully did first) quite easily.

 

I can see myself using this skill often in the future, and I look forward to practicing during the summer, when I will have more time and creative freedom to practice all the songs I want. It will be nice to not have a grade attached to my practice, but it was necessary in the beginning for me to be pushed to take that first step. Overall, I really enjoyed this project, and am grateful that I had the task of learning an instrument, since I have always wanted to learn the guitar. 

 

Musings 5 (Unforeseen Circumstances)

The guitar practice is continuing to progress, however, the Coronavirus situation is ramping up quickly, and adding much stress regarding current and future plans. The university has just closed, which definitely makes practicing difficult for some people, so I am lucky that I do not need to use school facilities to complete this project. This would add a lot of extra hassle for me, and defeat the purpose of closing the university, which is to have less people on campus, and encourage self-isolation.

I mentioned in my previous post, however, that I enjoy practicing on the university guitars better than my own, since I am able to practice for much longer without discomfort. I am unsure if this will affect my practicing, as my fingers get sore much faster when using my own guitar, but just like everyone else in the world, I will have to make due with the circumstances. Regarding my song progress, I like to memorize the chords to the songs I am playing so that I can focus on my chord changes without wondering about the next chord, but one of my songs is quite difficult to memorize. Hallelujah has different chord sequences for each part of the song (verse, end of verse/pre-chorus, and chorus) and a fifth chord that comes around with each verse, B7, which is quite difficult. The quick change of fingering, combined with the fact that this chord involves all four available fingers makes it a tough chord change for me, which I did not think would take so long to master. I regret not making that chord change a priority sooner, since it will clearly be an obstacle for me. Since I am also singing, I will be memorizing the lyrics to the songs, which also presents a challenge. Hallelujah has quite a few verses, so I am working on remembering all the lyrics to the verses so that I don’t need to reference any materials while I am playing. To sing, play, struggle with that particular chord change, and also try to remember some confusing lyrics and chord patterns simultaneously will be a challenge. The other songs that I have endeavoured to learn for this class are not nearly as difficult, only having four repeating chords, and less complex lyrics. I suppose we will see how I fare with these challenges.

 

Musings 4 (the second level)

I have been on the ball practicing with my guitar and I am very excited about my progress. Since I am not working as much as I was at the beginning of the semester, I am looking forward to seeing the progress I will be able to make by the end of the semester. Something I noticed during the last few times I’ve practiced the guitar at school is that UVic’s guitars are much easier to hold your fingers on. I find that at home my fingers get sore much quicker, probably because of the strings being metal instead of plastic. This week (the first week of March) One of my classmates and I recorded a duet outside of the songs we must learn. This showcases our talents, as well as the result of the extra practice time we committed to this collaboration. Unfortunately, I discovered that extra marks may not be rewarded for this work.

I’m currently struggling with how I can improve my grade in this class since I already have extra tasks like singing in my growth plan. I feel as though the grading scheme is a bit ambiguous, since there is no concrete way I can intentionally raise my mark from a B+ apart from presenting an exceptional performance, which of course I am already striving for. I have been enjoying class and learning the guitar immensely, but I find myself slightly frustrated that, had I hidden some of my enthusiasm in my growth plan, I could have ended up with a higher mark. In “pass/fail” type classes where B+ is the given grade if assignments are completed, they have optional extension assignments, so it is discouraging to find that is not an option for those wishing to augment their learning in music. Despite this, I will continue to practice enthusiastically, and hope that I can surpass a benchmark that is left to the imagination…

EdTech 11

This week we used Zoom again, but it was significantly slower than last week, probably due to the high volume of classes using the platform during the COVID quarantine. This made it so that the audio and video lagged (more significantly for some people), and Zoom kicked us out a few times. It did start running more smoothly once we got going, though, probably because some classes finished, or because Zoom was able to fix some of the problems. We had group presentations again, and my group’s presentation went smoothly. We then learned a bit about coding and discussed a few websites on coding education, like Code BC.

Code BC has English and French resources for teachers like lesson plans, which I think is great. I feel this way, not only because we are a bilingual country, but because I might eventually teach French immersion, so it is good to know that Code BC is an available resource. The lesson plans are grouped into many categories, including those such as subject and grade, which allows for easy subject integration for every grade. Computer Science Unplugged, Hour of Code, and Scratch were also mentioned. 

The website I used to practice coding was Code.org, and gave me an easy introduction to coding. The activity was very basic, and felt more like doing a puzzle than what I expected. There were different coding activities with themes that would be interesting to children, like the movie “Frozen” and the app Flappy Bird. I chose the “Frozen” activity, since it was basic, and was able to ease me into coding with minimal discomfort. The website also had videos of real people explaining the tasks, as well as how coding is interesting and relevant to their personal life, which I liked. Despite some uncertainty I had prior to this class, I think I could became comfortable with coding very quickly. Since technological literacy is so important now, I think coding is a good skill to teach in elementary classes, so I am interested to explore it more.

 

Pictured: one of the designs I made in the coding activity.

Goodbye For Now… Though I Have not Finished (Arrivederci… Ma Non ho Ancora Finito)

It is almost April, and I have already come to the end of this inquiry project, but it will not be the end of my Italian studies. I have been in isolation with my family for over a week now, and hope of travelling internationally this year is dwindling, but our trip will likely only be postponed until next summer. Although cancelling the trip would be disappointing, this pandemic is affecting the whole world (and some much more so than me),  I choose to see the situation positively. If we wait until next year, I will have another 12 months to practice Italian, and considering the progress I’ve made in the last three months, it will make an enormous difference. If I  consider my language skills in the two circumstances, only viewing the trip as a factor in relation to my learning, I will stay motivated for longer if the trip is postponed. If the trip happened as planned, the odds that I will still be studying Italian come September are much lower.

I did not finish my project of learning an Italian song, unfortunately, since my time escaped me, but I have looked for opportunities to practice in different ways when it is possible. For instance, I was able to put my work into practice last week, when I messaged an Italian friend, who returned home at the beginning of the year. It came about because I asked her how she was doing (in Italian), considering that Italy has a large number of cases and deaths due to the Coronavirus. We messaged back and forth a bit in Italian, and I capitalized on the chance to test my skills. I used Google Translate to check my own messages, since I didn’t want to send grammatically incorrect texts, as well as to look up some words that she used. I probably could have managed a short conversation if I steered us towards the basics, but I chose not to.  It is also notable that in the last few months, my dad started studying Italian as well. From time to time we will joke about our studies with words only the two of us understand. I am much farther ahead than he is, but if I can continue to motivate him, maybe soon we can study together and practice having conversations.

Since I started learning Italian in December, I have managed to practice for 95 days. In my opinion, that is a long time to consistently practice anything for. I had lofty hopes for this inquiry, but three months is not enough to learn a language. My excuse for not yet being proficient enough to fool the Italian locals is that I have a growth mindset and recognize that I am never finished learning. Duolingo was a great tool to learn Italian on, and was easy to use when I was lacking time or creativity. If I did not have the structure that Duolingo provided, I might not have progressed so much during school. I am proud of my progress, and I look forward to having more time to commit to this goal, once I finish my projects. I started seriously on this journey in December and if I have until next June or so when my family can travel to Italy, I am eager to see what experiences and conversations I will be able to have because of this skill.

 

FINAL POST :)

 

In summation, all three of these cloud-based servers offer valuable resources for both educators and students. There are paid resources, like Microsoft, and also free resources, or those with little to no cost, like Google. It is up to the school district or principle to decide which system will be implemented, and is best for their learners. It is important to keep in mind the budget of the school and grants that are available to support technology in the classroom. 

Here are some useful links to decide which system will work best for you: 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/

https://education.microsoft.com/en-us

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/05/02/microsoft-education-empowering-students-teachers-today-create-world-tomorrow/

https://products.office.com/en-ca/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/apple-teacher/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/products/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teaching-tools/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teacher-resources/

https://teachercenter.withgoogle.com/

https://www.google.ca/docs/about/

 

EdTech 10

This week we had our class virtually, and started the group presentations which were all very interesting. Each of the presentations were on a technological teaching tool, and we also learned about the program Zoom while doing so, as our call was on this platform. I found it interesting that one of the presentations was on Kahoot and we were able to play a Kahoot over the Zoom chat, which I did not know was possible. I considered it to be a success as I managed to be on the leaderboard with the moderators and achieve 2nd place.

Zoom requires that students have a device, adequate wifi, headphones with a microphone (preferably) and a quiet space where they can be undisturbed during the call. While this can be attained by many students, there will almost always be a few that have issues. I, for example, live in a very busy house, and my laptop has broken twice in the last 6 months. These factors could easily have been an issue for me, and it almost seemed that the latter would be, when I had to restart my computer a few minutes to the class’ call. One of my classmates could not get on the call because of internet issues.

Overall, if the students have access to all of these resources, I think Zoom is a great platform to conduct classes from, if being together is not an option. Students also do not need an account, so they will not have to sign up for anything if it is only a one-time, or emergency solution.

The World is Paused (Il Mondo è in Pausa)

It has been a while since I’ve given an update on how my Duolingo lessons are going so here it is:

I have been studying a variety of subjects, but I have been leaning towards vocabulary practice lately. The vocabulary topics I have been focusing on the most in the last few weeks are family, colours, and food. These are pretty basic words which I’m sure will be handy to know in any situation. I have also studied questions, and feel that I have a good grasp on the vocabulary for “what, how, how many, which, who, when, etc., although I do need to reinforce this knowledge more. I finished this section completely, and it was very interesting for me, but I need to continue studying sentence structure and grammar, once I finish the vocabulary lessons I am on. I have studied grammar a bit, but have been avoiding it lately, since it is not the most riveting subject.

 

(pictured: a screenshot of my Duolingo app)

At this point in the semester I am not as far in my Italian as I had expected myself to be, but I should know that learning a language is complex and takes more effort than one initially realizes. It is so rewarding , especially when you can go to where it is spoken and meet locals who can teach you about the area and culture. However, the momentum I had in December, before I even knew of this project, has been difficult to keep up alongside all the external factors like other projects and work, and current events. These were not nearly as intense when I began my Italian studies, and COVID 19 would have been a foreign concept. Now it is very local.

As it stands (and as far as I am aware), schools, universities (including UVic), workplaces and borders are closing all over Canada and the US, and there are some severe cases in Europe as well, with Italy being the worst. Travellers crossing the Canadian border must quarantine themselves for 14 days, but spring break has just started, so many locals are also taking this opportunity to do so in order to protect ourselves and our vulnerable neighbours.

My family has decided to wait until May to make our final decision, since the time between now and then does not affect any refunds we would need to request. There is still hope that things will improve in Italy before May, but in Canada, It seems that things will get worse before they get better. My cohort is on the edge of our seats, as our spring practicum and possibly our graduation date are on the line.

Next week I will return with another update, and hopefully better news regarding this virus so that I can continue my studies enthusiastically. 

Post 6: How Each Platform Supports Education

Microsoft:

 

 

 

As a university student, I have used many Microsoft applications in my schooling thus far. For the most part I have used Microsoft Word and Powerpoint for all my note taking, paper writing, and presentation making. It is a real advantage as a Uvic student that we get these products for free. In terms of how Microsoft supports education they often offer their application bundles at a discounted price to schools and districts around the world. Additionally, their website had this to say “Microsoft introduced a set of educational products and services, inspired by teachers and students, including a new Windows experience called Windows 10 S; new experiences in Microsoft Teams for modern classroom collaboration; new features in Minecraft and mixed reality to spark creativity; a range of Windows 10 S PCs for K-12 classrooms; and the perfect Windows 10 S device for college students—Surface Laptop.” Other than these educational products and services, Microsoft offers a useful feature for teachers called “Educator Center”. In the “Educator Center” teachers can make use of many features to better their classroom. The first feature is Courses which helps teachers learn how to use Microsoft technology effectively in the classroom to engage students. The second feature is Learning Paths which focuses on skill development or mastery of Microsoft products and offers a collection of courses for deeper learning in a topic. The third feature is resources and lesson plans which offers ideas, classroom materials, and ready to use lesson plans to guide students in their development of future-ready skills. All in all,  Microsoft has been around the longest and considering that it is continuously updating and getting better with time, it is the most reliable software we should be using in Victoria schools.

Microsoft Education: Empowering students and teachers of today to create the world of tomorrow

Microsoft Educator Center

Apple: 

 

 

 

Apple supports both K-12 education and post-secondary education. For post-secondary students, Apple provides discounts on their devices (such as Mac and iPad). Apple stores also provide sessions to teach coding and talk to creators that use Apple products to create art. Apple also provides discounts for buying class-sets of iPads for schools, learn more about how iPads can be used in the classroom here https://www.apple.com/ca/education/products/. This link also provides statistics on how iPads in the classroom contribute to student achievement.

Similar to Google, Apple offers an Apple Teacher https://www.apple.com/ca/education/apple-teacher/ learning program to help teachers build confidence in using technology in the classroom. Apple also has created two apps to suppor

t digital learning in the classroom. These apps are called schoolwork and classroom https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teaching-tools/

Apple provides many resources for teachers https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teacher-resources/. One unique resource is Everyone Can Create, which encourages creativity through photography, art, video, and music to incorporate into any lesson. Apple provides Teacher Guides with sample lesson ideas and integration techniques for different subject areas. Apple also is a part of ConnectED since 2014 and has donated 100$ million to schools to improve their technology education.

Google: 

Google classroom was launched in 2014 and allows teachers to build a virtual classroom where they can invite all of their students to join. Classroom allows teachers to distribute information to students and parents easily, and post and grade assignments online.

The Google Forms feature allows teachers to conduct quizzes through Classroom, as well as grade them for efficiency. There is also a Google Classroom app that allows students to stay connected even when they do not have access to a computer, so it is a great option for teachers who want to have an online platform for their classes, so that students always know where to find dates and resources for the class. Classroom is well-organized and even has an “upcoming” box at the top of the page where students can view upcoming assignments.

Google has many fantastic resources that support education. While they inevitably require the use of technology, they are accessible for students, teachers, and parents. Google also provides courses and Google Educator certification for teachers who wish to use the many tools Google provides to their fullest potential. In Google’s Teacher Centre found on their website, Teachers can find information about these courses and certification, resources from other teachers as well as Google, and groups of like-minded educators they can meet and collaborate with. 

During the current pandemic that is causing the closure of many schools, universities, workplaces, and even national borders around the world, Google is going above and beyond to support distance learning. Google is providing Hangouts calls for up to 250 people, live streams for up to 1,000 viewers, and the ability to record and save meetings to Google Drive, and all of these features are free until July 1.

One note is that since Google keeps its information in the United States, teachers should be cautious of what information they put on the classroom. They may need to have information release forms signed if they wish to release any images or identifying features of their students.

EdTech 9

In this class, we had guests who taught us how to use Minecraft as an educational tool. This was a very interesting experience which I believe taught us all the basics of how to operate Minecraft. We also were introduced to the administrative side of Minecraft Education, which is how we would control the game as the teacher. This allows us to set up the game so that students can have access to certain features, and are restricted from others. The teacher has special access and can give their own avatar different access, such as being able to teleport to certain students to see their work or chat with them.

Although I did not know much about Minecraft before this class, I was convinced of its effectiveness as a teaching tool quickly.

Image result for minecraft education

This is a lesson plan from the Minecraft education website focused on creating sustainable cities. There is plenty of opportunity for conversation that can result from this lesson, as well as possibilities for cross-curricular integration.

https://education.minecraft.net/lessons/sustainable-cities-project/

This next link is a lesson that focuses on Florence, Italy. The students can explore Florence and its different landmarks, which can teach about the history of the area, and give a visual for any lessons that might pertain to the area. 

https://education.minecraft.net/lessons/the-city-of-florence-italy/

I really enjoyed this class, and look forward to exploring the opportunities that Minecraft Education provides.

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