Canva: Being Creative CAN be easy.

I tried out all of the online creation tools, but I rather enjoyed the program Canva.  Canva is a great tool to help a person create a graphic visual.  I really enjoyed browsing through their free images, their creative layouts, and the other tools they display.  I really enjoyed this program because it allows you to make creative posters that look great and it is… easy!   I can see myself using this program as an aide to making signs, posters,slideshows, etc. in the classroom.

The creation I made was simple, but got the point across. One problem that I had with this program was that when I would save my creation, the alignment would goof up.  When I view it on my computer on their website, it looks great.  When I save it and reopen it, the bullet points become unaligned.

Guitar Facts

Using graphics like this are valuable in a classroom for many reasons.  One reason is that the images are appealing and use fun shapes, colors, and designs.  They can be simple but they also look appealing. This helps students become interested in the subject.  If the information looks appealing, they will likely be attracted to the look of it, and be able to focus better.  Another way that this program can be valuable in a classroom is because it is so simple to use. It is quick and easy for a teacher to utilize.

One thing about this assignment that was a struggle to me was that I had to think on my feet. I had to think up an idea regarding my independent project.  I didn’t know what to expect when I read the assignment until I read the tech learning portion of the assignment.  I did enjoy this project and I can definitely say that I will be using these different programs to help my classroom teaching.

Technological Mindfulness

Now, I don’t do a lot of things the right way, and I am guilty of being a tech-nerd at times.  However, I truly think that I use technology mindfully. After watching the TED talk about quitting the internet, and reading the article about simplifying, I realized that I am right on track.  I can find balance, and I hope that children can learn to find that balance as well.

We need to stop multi-tasking when it is evident that our mind is split in half, preventing our brains from successfully focusing on anything at all.  Many of us can fairly easily  multi-task. But we need to learn to step back and ask ourselves: “am I successfully focusing on any one subject, or am I just ‘skimming’ multiple subjects?”  Once in a while I will catch myself listening to a lecture, skimming a separate article, and working on a homework assignment all at the same time. I have to make myself slow down and backtrack.  Look back at what I worked on and make sure everything was absorbed from the lecture, I have to re-skim the articles, and generally have to double proof-read my assignments.  I generally find myself slapping myself in the forehead because it takes me twice as long to have to go back and re-do all that I’ve done than it would if I would do one at a time.

I believe that we lose a lot from being permanently attached to our different devices.  For example, just the other day my aunt was reading a story/explaining a heartfelt message to her daughter, after she read the article, she looked up and realized that her daughter “was listening” but was also flipping through Facebook. First of all, she was not present in their conversation.  Second, she was multi-tasking at something that should not be multi-tasked.  Just because this young girl could not put her phone down for five minutes, there were hurt feelings.  Our mobile devices help us damage relationships, help us become unfocused, and assists us in the ability to spread our minds thin across multiple tabs.  Technology can do a lot of damage if used wrong.  But flip that situation, and our mobile devices help us build relationships that we may never have been able to build at long distances, they help us relax by removing ourselves and indulging in different medias, and they can assist us in the ability to multi-task successfully.

Technology used mindfully can be the difference between damaging and building.

Independent Learning Project. Ouch.

For my independent learning project, I thought it would not only be a good idea to learn the guitar to challenge myself, but also to use my knowledge to be able to apply to my future job.  But to be brutally honest, I am at a stand still. Stuck in the mud.  I have watched videos, read articles and books, I have had a friend attempt to help me.  To my own defense, I am much further than I expected to be, and I AM making progress.  (Sort of.) But I am still frustrated at how slow the process is.  I am sure this may sound redundant and whiny, but I am struggling with how long this is taking me to learn.  Granted, I am busy, and I am distracted at times, but that is not a good excuse.  I need to be more understanding.  I have gone from only knowing about the physical guitar itself, and knowing the concept of playing, to now being able to play small bits at a time.  (Not melodically, rhythmic, or easy to listen to, but I can pluck a chord out when need be.)

One thing I want to continue on bettering myself in is being able to memorize the chords.  I want to learn all of the notes and finger formations for each common chord.  I’ve downloaded a game that is similar to flashcards.  It tells you a chord and you place the fingering formations where they should be, it tells you if you are right or wrong, and gives you a chance to fix what you’ve done wrong.  This is what I have spent my last week working on.  I have put up the guitar and gotten out the pen and paper (and Kindle.)  I am going to devote some time learning the chords so that having to read them becomes natural.

So beyond the mumble-jumble, I will close with a positive thought.  I am learning something new on top of all of the other things going on in my life, and that is pretty awesome.  I am proud and excited to be able to test my skills, patience, and time management skills.  I am grateful that I have this opportunity to learn something new.  I am grateful that I have my own guitar, that I have a Kindle to do research on, and I am grateful for this project.

Digital Activism

After reading some articles about digital activism, I realized that it is a bigger deal than I imagined.  I never really understood how important and how large these teen activists have become. They are such wonderful kids with hearts full of purpose.  I am proud of each and every one of the kids and young adults that are standing up for what they believe in.  One of the teen activists that I really enjoyed following is the young girl that goes by WhyToStayStrong.  Here is her page:

WhyToStayStrong.

This young girl is standing up for her belief in the idea that every person matters.  She posts several encouraging articles, quotes, pictures, etc., that can encourage so many struggling people.  I think that both young and old could be touched by this girls’ kindness and advice.  She focuses on helping people realize that they matter.  That everyone makes mistakes, everyone has hardships, and everyone is loved.  She has multiple articles about depression.  I really enjoyed this young girl’s Twitter page.  It took some time to sift through everything she has posted, but I can say that there was not one post that I didn’t enjoy.  I believe that this activism page is a success.  Every person that is struggling needs to know that they are worth more than they know.  This girl encourages that, defines it, and keeps posts positive.  When a person is struggling, they don’t need to be nagged at, they may just need some inspiration.  This is a lighthearted way of  handing out inspiration and positivity.  People can either take it or leave it, but I think many people will find themselves thinking about those quotes or posts later on in their day.  Smiles, happiness, and positivity are contagious and hard to forget.

Digital Citizenship: The Dangers of Cyberbullying

Digital citizenship is an important subject that I believe people too often brush under the rug.  Social media can be dangerous.  There are so many predators online that are lurking behind lies.  In today’s world, I believe that we not only need to inform students of the dangers, but also be sure to practice what we preach.

I look at digital citizenship as being social media etiquette.  This includes all forms of technology.  A person can suffer in many different ways from being improper or improperly treated on the internet.  For example, if a person is to post a racy photograph, many people will see it, and it can happen upon a boss or future boss.  This automatically can change a person’s mindset of another.  Using the internet in the wrong way can also cause cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying in itself is harmful.  There are many cases of cyberbullying that go unknown.  I read a wonderful article pertaining to cyberbullying, and how to help prevent it.  7 Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying. A lot in this article sounded as if it would be helpful, but one piece that hit home to me was when the author suggested to restore the “victims” self-respect. Amen to that.  I have seen first hand these horrible things that can happen and what is unsettling is thinking of what is going on in the “victims” mind behind closed doors. It is a natural defensive move to close off and act as if we feel fine.  In truth, it is a dark and lonely world when you lose self-respect.  No person, young or old, should go through that.  Especially not alone.  If we can help these people cope with their problem and reattach their self-esteem, they will naturally gain self-respect for themselves.  It is a long process, and I believe that many people understand the concept of restoring self-respect, but what many don’t understand is that it takes time.  It is a waiting game, a patience-tester.  Be patient, be kind, be positive, be loving. It is much harder to hate yourself if you are so loved. Cyberbullying is not above or below any other form of bullying.  It is equally as hard. Many people assume that it is the victims’ fault for endulging in social media that they know is untrustworthy.  But the truth is, people can be conniving. A person can post a picture of a puppy (all puppies are cute.) and yet somewhere, somebody is thinking a negative thought about that specific picture.  One negative thought and one tiny action is all it takes for cyberbullying to begin.

Googling Myself. Creepy!

I spent as much time as I possibly could “googling” myself yesterday.  I have come to multiple conclusions.

First, I am a boring person.  I found about eight articles about me.  Probably about six of them were from when I played college softball and was in the paper every so often.  One was from when I was selected for an honor band, and another was a photo of my engagement photos that  my professional cousin took.  The last of those eight pieces is slightly less boring. But to be honest, I did not find as many things out about myself as I thought I would.  I like to think that I should be proud of this??

Second, it is entirely, 100%, creepy to think about how much a person can find out about somebody online.  We can research a person  and discover so many things about them with never having to speak to them.  I am not concerned about my boss or future boss finding “dirt” on me if they were going to try to google me.  I always make a point to think through everything that I do both online and offline.  I am part of the early generation that grew up as technology grew up.  I had a childhood that didn’t revolve around technology, yet as a teenager I became to appreciate technology.  I believe that this helped me learn to trust the internet a little bit, but realize that is is a vast hole for anybody to dig around in.  Kids today trust the internet, and that can be dangerous if it is not guided in the proper way.

Lastly, I had a personal experience with this situation just today and my aunt and I had a discussion about how unsettling, yet handy, it is to be able to google a person’s whereabouts.  She lost the address to  friend from high school, so I helped her find this friend’s address.  It took less than one minute to know this woman’s address, name, phone number, and spouses name. It even came packaged with a detailed map from my location to this woman’s house.  I joke about how this is such a strange concept, but in all reality this can all tie back to our discussion of Digital Citizenship.   Be careful of what you do and what you post because you can be found online. We are open books, choose your words wisely.

Daily Create: Boundaries

This challenge asked me to find two spaces that share a boundary and do something to alter that boundary. I am not sure if this is exactly being asked of me, but I decided to stack some dice.  The boundary was between the line of dice and the table.  Here is the process of my alteration!

Line of Dice: 1
Line of Dice: 1
Line of Dice: 2
Line of Dice: 2
Line of Dice: 3
Line of Dice: 3

A Reflection on Podcasts and Digital Storybooks.

I’ve spent a lot of time viewing different digital storybooks and listening to several podcasts. I enjoyed the digital stories, but I think I would have enjoyed them more if I could have found one that interested me more.  They are fascinating and amazing to think how much work goes into creating a digital story.  Sewing together each clip to make a smooth sailing story.  I listened to a couple of episodes of the “Serial” podcast and I was hooked.  I am a book nerd and love listening to audio books when I travel.  I personally enjoy listening without having a picture in front of my face.  It forces a person to create their own image.

There are benefits and downfalls to using both podcasts and digital storybooks in the classroom.  When it comes to podcasts, not all students can listen and stay focused without having the material in front of them.  On the other end of things, finding a podcast series would be a great way to keep students motivated and excited about listening.   Using digital storybooks in the classroom can be great because they are fascinating to watch and fun to learn these people’s stories.  However, on the other hand, it is not as creative to have students watch a video with audio attached.  It can be a bit like spoon feeding.  But in the end, we all know that not all students learn the same way and that not all lessons are one hundred percent comfortable for students, and a class should not be deprived of a great opportunity because of the different learning styles.  If a student is truly struggling at understanding or following a podcast, the teacher could allow the student to listen at a different time, with headphones on, where it is much easier to focus.

One of the things that I took away from reading/watching/listening to these articles is the amount of energy and effort that go into them.  So creative and what a wonderful way to link technology with schoolwork.  I also enjoyed these podcasts and plan on researching more to listen to, and maybe even getting ideas of podcasts I can show to my future students!

Week Two on My Independent Learning Project: Sigh.

We are into week two of my attempt to teach myself guitar.  To be honest, this week has been much harder than last.  I graduated from learning the strings and small things like such.  I am attempting to learn the chords and I’ve run into a slight snag.  I have itty bitty, tiny hands.  I need to find some fantastic finger stretches to relax my hands.  But don’t be fooled.  I have not given up and I will not use these small hands be an excuse.  Small children can play guitar, then so can I.  Right?

Right.  I am determined to master this art someway or another. I have purchased a beginner’s book for guitar.  This week I kept becoming frustrated with myself when I was practicing guitar.  I had to sit down and give myself a pep talk.  And then I reminded myself that this is going to be a process.  I have a tendency to expect things to come easily to me.  This often isn’t the case and sometimes I forgot that.  I forget that most of the time a person has to spend many hours learning one simple task.  When it comes to learning the guitar, there are a lot of little aspects that make up the big picture.  I need to slow down and learn these little aspects instead of opening a piece of music and expecting my guitar to play music.

So after that internal debate with myself, I told myself that I am going to take a different approach to this project.  I need to have a goal of the big picture, but not be overly focused on the big picture. I need to allow myself to focus on the small details (such as learning one chord at a time until it is comfortable, and then moving to the next.) Even if this is frustrating and time consuming, I know that it is going to better in the long run.  I know that if I continue on the path I was on, I would end up in the same place as years ago when I tried to learn guitar.   I am going to break this project down even more, into tiny segments until I can comfortably complete each portion.