Close Community

I am now amazed at the fact how all sorts of people can connect with one another. Yes, this is a realization that I think I’ve made a while ago but this recent incident made this concrete.

An educator blogger named Shane from New York mentioned me in a post and linked my “About” page to it. See the article here. He talked about me and what I taught in my internship and mentioned my interest in technology in the classroom. It’s so neat to have my blog mentioned in another person’s — and for an amazing reason! Reading his post made me realize that through technology and blogging, we are closer than we think to others around the world. We can share ideas and thoughts.

I thought it would be nice to mention him in a post, too. And he expanded my professional community by mentioning two other unique edubloggers in his post! Thanks, Shane!

This has been another thought process from Helyn.

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Coding

For one of our tech tasks we were required to check out some coding sites and play around with some of the codes and think about how it would work in a classroom setting.

First, I did the Flappy Bird one where you had to try and figure out what codes to put in. I was confused at first because it was more difficult. Then I tried a simpler coding exercise and below is a screenshot of what I started working on:

Image

This program was much easier to work with (and especially so because I’m just a beginner with no experience at all).

I think something like these exercises will help students with problem solving and give them a chance to understand how games work — especially the Flappy Bird coding exercise. It is also relevant for high school students who are thinking of going on to major in something like Computer Science. This would be a way for them to get a feel of the program and what it all encompasses.

If students have computers at home, their parents can become involved in helping the students solve some of these problems of coding and help their children understand how games are created. Programs like these would work well in a math class because they require problem solving skills — just like the Angry Birds game simulation I did above. You needed to look at the situation and figure out how you were going to get the Angry Bird to the pig.

Coding is a neat way to bring something new to the students. An almost “behind the scenes” look at how games are made. Maybe having your students code could be a way to introduce them to the field of Computer Science. So many possibilities.

Blogging in the Classroom

In my Education English class today one teacher-to-be brought up the discussion of using blogs in a high school classroom. She was talking about how we need to teach students what to post on the internet. This would be a step to teach students that they need to be aware of what they are posting on the internet. And that whatever they choose to post could affect them if future employees are looking for them. They need to be aware of what they are posting on the internet — especially on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Blogging is a great way to incorporate internet and get students thinking about their image in the online world. Instead of writing in a journal, they could blog.

One disadvantage to having students blog would be for some homes that don’t have the money for internet or computers/laptops. In my internship, I had a student in grade 10 who had a phone but it didn’t have data on it so he could only connect to WIFI. I’m not sure if he had internet at home but if I would have incorporated daily blogging into the class, he would have fallen behind if I didn’t give him class time.

However, I think if it’s possible, blogging should be incorporated into a high school classroom — especially English. I think it would be a great tool to utilize if you are able to as a teacher. You could give students topics to write about just like we’ve had in my ECMP 355 class this semester.

Padlet in the Classroom

I was introduced to a bunch of useful teaching tools that use technology. I was immediately drawn to the first one – padlet.com — where you have a wall and can post anything on there. Whoever has the link can post on there, too.

This would work great in any classroom because it would give students all students a chance to contribute to a class discussion. You could easily use it for brainstorming. For an English classroom setting you could brainstorm story ideas in a fun and unique way. For my first wall, I decided to do a “bucket list” style. Anyone could contribute their ideas on what would make a fulfilling life for them. I added a few ideas and I believe I’ll ask some of my friends to contribute their ideas. You can view and contribute to my wall here. Below I’ve posted a screenshot of what my wall looks like!

BucketWallStarting off a unit in English would be easy, too. You could have students brainstorm at the beginning of a new novel about what it was like to live in the 1930s (if you were doing Of Mice and Men). It would also be a neat to do as an ice breaker at the beginning of the school year.

I will definitely use Padlet when I am in my own classroom. Even if students are doing their own independent research project, it would be a fun way to display the information they find on the subject. It’s an awesome program!

Table for One – FanFic Assignment

“Table for one, please.” He says in a crowded Saturday morning where all the hungover kids scarf down their breakfast in an attempt to calm their stomachs.

Kevin Reowl’s six foot frame follows the waitress to the table and slides into the seat and stares at the other chair across from him. She hands him the menu and places a neatly wrapped fork, spoon, and knife beside him. “Anything to drink?”

“Water for now.” He says and opens his menu, green eyes lazily scanning the pages. He hated waffles and eggs and skillets. He just liked bacon and the odd orange juice. He’s kept one ear piece in and the other dangles around his neck. He’s supposed to, though. That was the plan. Go in, scope it out, and leave.

Kevin Reowl takes his position seriously. He works for someone who knows exactly when targets will be arriving at certain places. Then he’s sent out. Soon, she’ll arrive and the waitress has placed him in the exact spot he needed to be. Of course, the Boss knew that, too. He set an elbow on the table and rested his jaw in it, fingers brushing his short, curly, brown hair. He enjoyed sitting alone on missions like these. He was able to have some alone time to himself and think about his life.

He ended up with this position when a good looking woman entered his life and told him that he would be perfect. He must have looked confused. Perfect for what? Marriage? A doctor? An all-star quarterback?

Nope. An spy.

And so here he was sitting in a restaurant waiting for the next target to come into play so he could get the details he needed and leave abruptly. Maybe he would buy an orange juice. if the waitress ever came back with the water.

Whatever. He wouldn’t care either way. it was just something to make people think he wasn’t a creep or something.

Kevin heard her voice and his looked up above his menu. He glanced down at his watch and nodded. Right on time. Now he could finally complete this.

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There’s a short answer to that assignment for DS106: http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/creating-your-own-character/. I could go on for a lot longer but I believe I covered the majority of the criteria of the assignment. I really enjoyed this little assignment. This prompt came from actually hearing a guy ask for a table for one. I found it very interesting and decided to write about it here. Any feedback would be great on it. Can you tell I’m an English major? This might actually spin into a longer story for another class of mine.

Something like this I will definitely do in an ELA classroom of mine. I would love to tell students to just listen to conversations around them and something might spark a story. I’ve had this happen to me several times. Just seeing what a person looked like had a story spinning in my mind and I ended up writing it.

Writing about a character’s likes, dislikes, appearance, backstory, personality, and what their place is like in their world is definitely a great place to start for a character. If I were to continue this story I would add in more details about him but this will suffice for now. Again, an assignment like this is a great way to get students thinking about characters for stories.

Another great place would be to ask students to think up questions they would like to ask a character who lives in their mind. Tell them to think up ten questions and not just basic “What’s your favourite colour” ones, either. I’ve also had to do that for a creative writing class this semester.

Overall, I love writing exercises so whenever I get the chance to do them, I’ll do them. I’ll definitely continue writing some DS106 Fanfic or Writing assignments.

 

What’s in a Name?

My first name, Helyn, is a different version from my grandma’s name, Helen. My parents thought it was a beautiful name (and yes, I think it is) but it has created some irritation with me over the years. Why? Well, both ways are not pronounced the same. Ah ha! Yes, that’s the trick. You might think it’s like Helen but no. It’s actually, “Hel-lyn”, if you will. Just think of “Lynn”. Close enough.

I’m becoming more amused when I tell people my name and it takes them several times to find the right pronunciation. I still have some friends who pronounce it wrong. I’ve received all sorts of name variations from “Helain,” to “Helene” (a French version).

And then there’s the spelling of my name. I would say my name over the phone of for another person and they would stare at me with a blank stare, “Um, what?” Really, though, it’s not that hard to spell. H-E-L-Y-N. One time I had someone who put an “i” where the “y” is supposed to go. Close, but not quite.

When I’ve gone on first dates I usually ask them how to pronounce my name. I’ve become more amused with it over the years as they try to look like they know how it’s pronounced. But they usually get it wrong.

Anybody else have funky name problems? I could tell you about my long last name and the spelling of that but that might be for another post.

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This was an assignment for the DS106 (Digital Storytelling) assignment in Writing. http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/whats-in-a-name/

It is a really simple assignment that can be used in the classroom as an ice breaker for students. It’s a great way to let them write about themselves and talk about their name and the experiences they’ve had with it. As I kept writing the ideas and stories just kept flowing. This would work really well for a high school ELA classroom and would work well for a prompt to a character — the students could write about a certain character’s name and see what type of story comes from just doing that.

Teaching and Reffing

Recently, a fellow blogger posted his thoughts on Hockey and Teaching. You can read Donovan’s post here.

He talked about how reffing a hockey game relates to teaching.

Just recently I was at my hometown’s basketball game watching my brother play. The school I graduated from was, and still is, very much into basketball. So when it was the championship game and my brother and his team were up against a challenging school, the crowd became very involved in what the two refs were doing. They were constantly yelling at the refs who were just trying to keep things as fair as possible. Of course, it didn’t help that our team was losing but it wasn’t nice to yelling at the refs. Both the refs had been around the school lots. One graduated from there and the other taught there a few years ago. Some people in the crowd were calling out the ref’s names which is not being a fan of your own team.

Finally the refs became irritated and told one audience member that if he was going to keep it up then he would have to leave the gymnasium. That quieted the crowd. After the game, the one ref left the gym immediately and the other one broke into tears. It was horrible to see.

Even though our boys lost, it was still an intense basketball game to watch. As a spectator, you need to just cheer on your own team and not beak the refs who are doing their best to control the game. Same with teaching. Parents need to support their children in school and realize that the teachers are doing their best to help them learn.

I can also relate to this incident because I’ve reffed volleyball a few times and some of the audience members comment on the calls that I make. Being up on the stand, though, is very intimidating because you are the one making the calls and ultimately choosing whether or not the team wins. Same with teaching. We assess students’ abilities on learning certain subjects and, a lot of the times, choose whether or not they should continue onto the next grade.

Donovan’s point about teachers working together and coming together as a whole is very important. When I was learning to ref volleyball, I was with a senior volleyball ref every time I reffed a game. I was glad I had someone to answer my questions if I was unsure about what to do in a certain situation. That was the best way I learned how to ref.

Overall, there are many similarities between reffing and teaching. Both of them require patience, knowledge, and skill. Someday I will take up the challenge of reffing basketball.