The End Of My Journey – Part 2

Now that you have been updated to where I am at up to this point, it is now time that I sum up my experience as a whole. I will provide a brief summary of each week and reflect on them in this post, but I recommend also reading the whole post if you are interested. After I will reflect on the entire experience, both with picking up the guitar again and finding the various resources online that we have at our fingertips. With that being said, its time to reflect on this past month of learning:

Photo Credit: ruifo Flickr via Compfight cc

Week 1: “Thanks For ‘Tuning’ In!”

This was where it began at the start of May, and I was really excited about it and enjoyed setting up my plan for learning. I had not played guitar since high school. When I decided to take a break during finals, I never really went back to it, so this project became my motivation to get back into something I really enjoyed. Because I had some experience in high school, I wanted to challenge myself with a certain aspect of the guitar that I thought was really cool, which of course was fingerstyle. I didn’t really know where I was in terms of my ability though so I figured it was best to start from the basics, which led me to my first week of learning.

Going in, I didn’t really know where to turn when it came to finding resources online, but I was excited to start looking, and throughout the month, I began finding more and more useful tools to help me learn.

 

Week 2: “Back to the Basics”

This week was when I finally picked up the guitar and started playing again. Like I said before, and also what the title indicates, I wanted to use this week to figure out where I was in terms of my ability. That meant starting from the basics.

Because I didn’t know where to start looking online, I turned to YouTube. This was the week I discovered Andy Guitar, which is an amazing channel for anyone wanting to play guitar, no matter what stage you are at in your learning. He is a channel that I am subscribed to now and frequently watch his videos. This is one of the things I was excited about during this week because it showed me a channel I probably would have never found had it not been for this class.

Moving along though, that week I learned how to play Hot Cross Buns, which although was a very simple song, taught me some great lessons on how to position my hands on the guitar, and overall get a feel for playing again.

 

Week 3: “Scaling” It Up a Notch

Now that I had figured out where I was in terms of ability, I wanted to use this week to start challenging myself, and that is exactly what I did. One thing I did regret a bit was going back to the same person as last week, which was due to the fact that I was not thinking about the short amount of time we had for this project. With that being said, it wasn’t exactly the same, as although I was following and Andy Guitar tutorial again, I was doing it through his app which I discovered the previous week. This was a good experience for me though, as it got me looking for resources through different platforms, and got me exploring various other apps. I must say I was not a fan of the Andy Guitar app though, as most of the content was blocked unless you became a paid member, and the content that wasn’t blocked could be found on his YouTube channel anyways.

Regardless, this week, I learned how to play the G major scale, and began adding elements of the base. The first two sections were fairly easy once I got the pattern down, but the issues for me came during the final section when the scale and the base were alternated. With that being said, I’m really glad I was able to figure it out, and I was happy with the end product.

 

Week 4: “Taking a Stab at Tabs”

During this week, I felt like I had become comfortable with playing guitar again and because of that, I wanted to keep challenging myself in what I could do. That is when I decided to look into Tablature, or “Tabs” for short. If I was able to learn how to read Tabs, then it would give me the opportunity to begin exploring music that I actually wanted to play, rather than following tutorials on things I wasn’t interested in, and I must say, this was the most fun week of the whole experience.

This was one week where I wanted to explore what the internet had because I knew that there was going to be a lot of resources for how to read Tabs. Because of that, I was able to discover GuitarLessons.com which is a website was new to me at the time, but I still continue to use when I have questions. I also rediscovered an app I used back in high school which was Ultimate Guitar, which helped me find the Tab for The Office Theme that I decided to learn. This was my favorite app throughout the whole learning journey, and I actually enjoy it so much that I purchased the “Pro” version, which gave me access to so many great features, my favorite being the ability to Transpose songs into the key I wanted. Again, this was a challenging week, as I picked a really fast-paced song, but I was proud of what I accomplished.

 

Week 5: “Want To Play Yourself? Well You Can ‘Count On Me’”

This week came as a bit of a curveball to me, as I was getting comfortable with the way I made my learning project posts. I would learn what I wanted to learn, make a video showing how I did, and then would write a description of my experience. When we were given the task of teaching others something we had learned though, it made me a bit uncomfortable. The hardest part about it was watching myself teach on video, and was super awkward. With that being said, it gave me the opportunity to see how I taught. Being able to see the areas I struggled in and figuring out how I could do better next time, I think will help me grow as a teacher.

Now originally, when I first posted the blog, I only included the video of me teaching, and a description. But this was also at the time when we began getting feedback from Katia about what we could do to improve. One of those things for me was to explore more ways of presenting my material, and just being more creative in my blog posts. That is why when you look now at my post, you will see that I decided to add pictures and step by step descriptions, as an alternate form of teaching. This got me thinking about how important this is within a school. Having different strategies to teach something is super important because not all students learn the same way.

Through that entire week, I felt like I was really growing a lot in many aspects.

 

Closing:

To end I just want to say how much I enjoyed this experience, and I believe that this gave me the motivation I needed to start playing the guitar again. It also showed me the value of the internet when it comes to finding help and resources, and without this class, I don’t think I would’ve had the knowledge to go looking for them. I think one of the reasons for not picking up the guitar before, was because I came to a place where I wasn’t learning anything anymore, and I just kept playing the same five songs over and over. With the knowledge I have about technology though, through this class, I think it will give me the motivation to start exploring new ways to challenge myself, which will hopefully mean I keep playing guitar for a long time.

Thank you to Katia and all my fellow EDTC classmates who followed me on this journey, and for the kind words and support in the comments. I had a lot of fun learning alongside you!

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“How have you contributed to the learning of others?”

This is the question we all knew we would be asked at the end of the year, and the time has come to show what we have. To start, I will talk about my experience with networking, from where I was before, to where I am now when it comes to Twitter and blogging. After I will share how I was able to help others in their learning.

Twitter:

Coming in, Twitter was not something I really used, other than to follow sports accounts and YouTubers. It was something I would mindlessly scroll through when I was bored and never took anything out of the experience. This class has changed how I see the platform now and has made me realize just how useful it is for teachers. I have not only gained so much from others, but I also feel like I am able to help others as well. I was even referenced in an article for Education and World Today when sharing a resource on critical thinking. This was really cool to see and shows just how quickly you can begin networking with others, even those you don’t know. Below are a few examples of how I was able to help others through Twitter:

Showing Mr. Smith that he may not have to keep hoping for long!

Sharing some important advice that I was taught

 

Sharing a neat activity/ game that I found

Mentioned in Dr. Frank Clint’s article

“Education and World Today”

My next experience was with blogging, which I had no experience or knowledge of AT ALL coming into the class. With that being said, I have found that it was another fun way to network and help others out, and I really enjoyed the experience. Here are some examples of how I helped others when it came to blogging.

Teaching guitar through videos and charts

Teaching guitar through pictures and descriptions

 

Helping Bruce in “The War Against Fake News”

Giving Alexa some advice on how to play a tough chord

Showing Ben a resource to help him kick off his learning project

This class has helped me grow as an educator a tremendous amount, And I plan to hold onto everything I have learned about networking, and how learning should be a two-way road. I hope I truly have helped others throughout this class, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

The End Of My Journey – Part 1

Well everyone… this is it! This is the final step on my learning journey, and I just have to say, I had a lot of fun. As you can see from the title though, this is only part one. This post will be just like like my previous posts, where I will summarize where I am at up to this point, and part two will be an overview of my entire journey. With that being said, let’s jump right into it!

This last week or so, I knew exactly what song I was wanting to play because, first of all, I really like it, and also, it has a really cool tab for it. The song I am referring to is “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur, and if you listen to the first 10 seconds of the song, that is what I was learning to play as it repeats throughout the whole song. I chose it because I felt I gave a good summary of where I am at right now with the guitar. It also introduced a new skill that I had never tried before which was called a “Pull Off”, which in simple terms, and how I’ve come to understand it, is a way to change the note you are playing quickly without having to pick the string twice. (You will see this as a ‘p’ on the Tab). Here is a video demonstrating a pull off

I wanted to explore some new places online to find the tab, which led me to GuitarTabsExplorer.com which I believe is a great site. It has chords for a massive amount of songs, that are uploaded and ranked by its users, which is really great because, for some songs, there are multiple different versions. Because they are ranked though, you are finding the best one every time.

The link to the tab for “Say You Won’t Let Go” that I used is linked here

I must say coming into this project, I didn’t think I would be able to make it as far as I did, but I am super happy with what I’ve been able to achieve in such a short time, not just in my ability to play guitar, but also in my ability to find resources on how to learn and present my learning journey. With that being said, again, here is my video on how to play the song. I hope you enjoy!

 

Coding Made Fun!

This week in EDTC we explored a few different websites that taught coding in fun and interesting ways. Going in I was pretty nervous about hearing the word coding, because I know that is the kind of stuff my brother does and it can get super complicated. With that being said, I really enjoyed doing this activity. The website I chose was called Code.org, which is a great resource. It has full courses for teaching coding if you wanted to use it throughout a whole school year, but the section I used was called “Hour of Code” which is exactly what the title says. They have hundreds, maybe even thousands of coding activities for every grade level. They also make it really fun as you can do Minecraft, Star Wars, and many more themed challenges. The one I chose was one that was mentioned in class and was probably done by a few others, but it was called “Flappy Code”. In it, you get to go step by step to create your own unique Flappy Bird game! You can customize the sounds you make, the background, the obstacles, and even the player you play with. Below is my step by step process showing you how I did, with a video of my final product:

Here is the link to my end product if you would like to play for yourself!! (Warning, you may get addicted to the game all over again)

What I learned through this experience was that coding can be made fun and simple. I loved that it promoted creativity and problem-solving skills that I think are super important when it comes to a classroom environment. I am not so sure that a full course on coding would be really necessary unless someone wanted to use it as a special credit or it was for a specific coding class, but I really like the idea of doing the Hour of Code activities for the reasons I listed above. I am still not good at coding in any form, and if I tried to do the things my brother did, I would probably end up crying in a corner. With that being said, I had a lot of fun doing those activities, and I know students would as well. That is why I feel that this will end up in my classroom at some point down the line.

Digital Literacy in a World of Fake News

Digital literacy is so much more important in our world of fake news and information 24/7. With that also comes the need to teach that literacy within our schools. News and technology have taken over every aspect of our lives, meaning that no matter what subject we are in, or age group we are teaching, it is so important that we are implementing digital literacy into our classrooms. This week, we were tasked at looking into what that means for us as teachers. Myself, being a high school Math and Phys Ed. teacher, it was challenging, but I also found that there are always ways to fit it into the curriculum. These are the ideas I came up with and I hope they can help you as well.

Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz Flickr via Compfight cc

Mathematics was something that was at first really tricky for me when thinking about how digital literacy and spotting fake news could be taught within the curriculum. When I took a deeper look into it though, there are many places that it can be taught, the main one being: Statistics. Companies and journalists are great when it comes to skewing data or hiding important factors to make their product, argument, etc., seem better or worse than it actually is. Mark Liddell has a great video on this subject called “How statistics can be misleading” which outlines the various tricks people use within their statistics to promote their own ideas. Statistics are a huge part of mathematics, and using proofs to determine if certain sets of data are really as true as they are leading us to believe is a great activity for students.

Phys Ed is a bit of an easier look at, as it has a very large health-related aspect to it, which includes dealing with mental health and our emotional responses to things. An activity that could be helpful for teaching digital literacy, which also follows the NCTE framework on “critiquing, analyzing, and evaluating multimedia texts”, would be getting students to look at articles they come across on social media or online. They could then write down how they felt when reading it or their thoughts on the subject before and after. Then when they have a few articles chosen, they can then dig deeper into them, checking for validity, arguments on both sides, etc. This activity not only helps when fighting against fake news but is also connected to the ideas explained in the comic “You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you” that says we can have strong emotional responses to the things we read online. In fact, feeling like we are being attacked by the information we read online triggers the same emotional response in our brain as being attacked physically. Students need to be aware that not everything they read should be taken as a fact, and instead of lashing out, or even just taking everything it says as a fact, they should be willing to listen to both sides and dig a little deeper.

The fact is, digital literacy can be taught in every subject, at every grade level. If you are having trouble finding ways to implement it, there are so many resources and activities you can turn to such as this article called “Why do people fall for fake new?”, which explains concepts such as bias, clickbait, fact-checking, and provides you with multiple resources that you and your students can utilize for spotting fake news.

If you have any comments or feedback or would like to share your own ideas and resources when it comes to teaching digital literacy, feel free to leave a comment below and it would be much appreciated! Stay safe everyone!

Learning Journey #5 – Want To Play Yourself? Well You Can ‘Count On Me’

Welcome back to another learning journey! This week though, the student is becoming the teacher. That’s right, I am putting on my teacher hat and showing you how to play a fingerstyle pattern. This was something I actually learned when I began taking guitar lessons a few years ago and was one of the only things I still remembered, so I decided that it was the perfect thing to teach you all!

I’m not going to lie, I hate watching myself teach on video and it gave me a new respect for Katia, who does it every week in EDTC. What I am saying is that I am super awkward in the video, so you’ll have to forgive me, but I hope you enjoy and learn a bit about fingerpicking as well!

Also, here are the chords that I used in my video if you would like to try it out yourself:

Chords:

Count On Me – Bruno Mars

Riptide – Vance Joy

Picture representation:

Step 1: Find your chord – This will change as you play throughout your song

Guitar chord

Step 2: Pick the 5th (A) string with your thumb

Finger Picking 1

Step 3: Pick the 2nd and 3rd (B and G) strings together with your two fingers

Finger picking 2

Step 4: Pick the 4th (D) string with your thumb

Finger picking 3

Step 5: Again, pick the 2nd and 3rd (B and G) strings together with your two fingers

Finger picking 2

Repeat Steps 2-5 throughout the song. Hope you Enjoy!

Your Google Search Results Say A Lot About You…

This week, I once again teamed up with my boy Karter. We were tasked with cyber-sleuthing one another, or on other words, seeing how much we could dig up on each other just from a few quick google searches.

Like Katia has mentioned a few times in her presentations, our online life has become public by default, and private with effort. And as the world becomes more digital, how we present ourselves online becomes so much more important. I think looking yourself up every so often is extremely important for everyone to do because, for most people, they don’t know they’ve made a mistake until its too late. This was the case for those like Monica Lewinski, who in her Ted Talk “The Price of Shame” talks about how she went from being a nobody to public enemy number one in the eyes of the world. Justine Sacco is another example that I believe is more alarming because she was just an ordinary person like us. Jon Ronson in his Ted Talk talks about this further, how she was just one person with 170 twitter followers, but after posting one off-color joke on Twitter, she was mocked, abused, threatened, humiliated, fired from her job, and pretty much dead to the world. The fact is, we need to be careful about what we are doing online, and learn from those whose lives were ruined by their mistakes online.

Photo Credit: Visual Content Flickr via Compfight cc

So with that being said, and like I mentioned earlier, Karter and I decided to team up to try and dig up as much dirt as we could on each other. It is honestly a really addicting thing to do, and you end up down some weird rabbit trails, but it is an important thing to do. After an hour or two of searching and thinking of every angle I could to find information on Karter, the final conclusion I came up with was that he has done an INCREDIBLE job at keeping a professional online identity. When it comes to social media, he has done a great job in every area – from the things he posts, to his privacy settings, to even monitoring what his friends tag him in. Like Nicole Lee says in her article, it is very common to have multiple social media accounts, but if Karter did have any accounts that he didn’t want others to see, then he sure did a great job at making sure they weren’t connected to his name. With this being said, he has also done a great job of showing off his interests and hobbies, and everything else that could be important to an employer. The fact is, Karter’s online identity is what I believe we should all strive for, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little upset that I could find any dirt on him (other than he is a Canucks fan, which is pretty shocking). But great work Karter, you have done an excellent job of maintaining a professional identity. And to everyone else reading this, if you haven’t done so already, I recommend you take the time to look yourself up because, in the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Learning Journey #4 – Taking a Stab at Tabs

This week, I decided that instead of letting other people tell me what to play, it was about time that I got to chose what I wanted to play. Because of that, I decided to learn how to read tablature, otherwise known as ‘tabs’.

When you first look at a tab sheet, it just looks like a bunch of lines random lines and letters, but it turns out, it isn’t as complicated as it seems:

Example of a Tab

Photo Credit: sonicdeviant Flickr via Compfight cc

To learn how to play Tabs, I turned to a few different sources. The first was from the website GuitarLessons.com, which have a large selection of free lessons and tutorials for all things related to guitar. The specific page I ended up on, was, of course, their lesson on How To Read Guitar Tabs, which was super helpful as it had a written explanation with diagrams, as well as a video to help explain it further. This YouTube video was one that I also enjoyed because it put it into really basic language.

Once I had an idea of how to read tabs, the next step was to choose what tune I wanted to play. I had a bit of trouble deciding what to play but figured that I might as well pay tribute to the greatest show ever created: The Office.

The tab I used from the website Ultimate Guitar, which I used a lot when I first began playing guitar, as it was super easy to find chords for pretty much any song I could think of. This website also has tabs for many songs, and luckily I was able to find The Office Theme on there.

I will admit, this one took a bit of time to learn, as The Office theme song is really fast-paced and uses most of the strings, but I was eventually able to figure it out. I may have slowed it down just a bit for the sake of my sanity, but overall, I was impressed with the end product. I hope you enjoy!

 

YouTube in Classrooms – An Ideal World

This week I teamed up with my pal Karter Lafontaine, where we had a fake parent-teacher conversation about the use of Youtube in schools. We decided in our “school”, students had access to Youtube, and Karter (The parent/ grey text) had concerns with Me (The teacher/ blue text) allowing it. I also wanted to use some of the conversations we had in class about teaching students internet safety as well as the extensions we were shown for Youtube such as DF Tube, that makes being on the website safer for students. The whole idea was for this conversation to be the ideal scenario for schools, where they make sure they do everything they can to make sure students are safe online, but also not just blocking every website because we can’t trust our students (which is what my school did).

The fact is, our students are going to be using these sites like YouTube outside of school, so I feel that educators need to teach kids how to be safe and smart on them while they are in school. I agree schools should do everything they can to make the websites as safe as possible, but I don’t feel like blocking them completely is going to teach the students any lessons. With that being said, here is my “conversation” with Karter Lafontain on Youtube in schools:

Cast:

Concerned Parent/ Grey Text:  Karter Lafontaine

Teacher/ Blue Text: Caleb Lueck (Shameless Plug)