Google Earth – Wow

Not very often am I so amazed that all I can whisper is WOW… and that is exactly what I did when I found out Google Earth is now in browser format. It can be accessed by any device with Internet!

Once downloaded you can choose adventures in “Voyager” or explore on your own. You can use Google Voice from your phone to verbally command where to go. You can choose from a plethora of Lit Trips as well. 

You can zoom to any distance, making this a perfect resource to show kids, who struggle between the concrete and symbolic, that a map/globe is just a small version of a much bigger area in our world.

I think Google Earth could be a promising resource in my elementary internship for social studies and I look forward to learning more about what it can offer!

Create-Abilities Math Webinar I Attended

Square Root of 558919216881 found on my fridge!

Photo Credit: byzantiumbooks Flickr via Compfight cc

I credit my ECMP355 class with getting me so active in finding online PD opportunities. I saw a webinar advertised on Facebook and, instead of scrolling past it, I decided I would give it a shot. I am glad I did. The website name-drops for math resources alone were worth it:

You can read my whole summary of learning here! If you take part in the webinar in the next few days you will even get a PD document to keep for your portfolio!

Check out the site here.

Summary of Learning – The Ultimate TL;DR Guide to My Semester

Ways to interact with my final project:

  1. You can watch the videos on this screen, but right click each “Letter Link” on the Image Map and select “Open in New Tab” so the video will keep playing as you look at each letter. If you open any link on the Alphabet Image Map, it takes you to the Powerpoint so you can just scroll through the letters on there!
  2. You can ignore the video altogether and explore the Image Map at your own pace
  3. You can ignore the Image Map and only watch the video for a snapshot of my learning!

Masterpiece in the making. Click on each square to explore what I have done so far – it is interactive and uploaded in such a way that the progress will be tracked (I do not have to keep re-uploading my progress on WordPress because I have linked each slide and it uploaods automatically)!

If you cannot access the image map (I tried from my phone and it does not work) click here to see the Powerpoint by itself.

Although I love coding from scratch, for time’s sake I used Image-Map.net to help me create my image map. I still did a bit of coding when I ran into a problem (image was not showing up) and, instead of jumping ship and starting the project in another way, I stuck with it and trusty Youtube saved the day. (You can read more about that here.) Let me know what you think of it so far in comments below. I am so happy I pushed myself to be creative. Usually I favor substance over style and opt for the essay if any assignment choice is given, but I wanted to do it differently this time around. Using educational technology (Google Drive, Google Slides, Image-Map.net, and Adobe Photoshop), the “style” part of this project was easy and relatively fast to make. Imagine how long it would have taken to develop all of my photos, do an alphabet on each piece of paper, etc. back in the 1970s. Imagine how, back in 1999, I could not have linked my Powerpoint slides directly to my image map for easy access and sharing! There is no excuse not to add a bit of life into the projects you make – and, most important of all, have it help you tell the story. In this case, I used ABC photos because it pertains to my Learning Project. I used Google Slides and Image-Map.net to do a fancy presentation to show how versatile it can be as an edtech resource for the classroom. Everything I have needed to upload from my phone or computer, I have done through Google Drive. There was a purpose to my style, as much as my substance.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ABCs of EdTech

Photography Learning Summary & Final Reflections

If you look at my Flickr account, I don’t believe you can really trace a progression of “worse” to “better” photos. Part of this is because I deleted the not so good photos – I realize now that, in future learning, I need to keep those bad examples to show students because they are just as much of a learning queue as seeing the good examples.

The other part is because I opted to try such a wide variety of photography that I didn’t really have time to perfect it – I would just do it and move on. I discovered as I was learning that I wanted to take the approach of comprehensive learning and experimenting – trying to take photos in as many different ways as possible. I introduced myself to many avenues (portrait, landscape, lightbox closeup) and basic tips, so that I have a solid base to go forward from. I thought that would be a better use of my time and learning than taking one path and really perfecting it. This way, I know which avenues I like most. After I put myself out there and tried different things, I still realized I like landscape photography the most. Next steps forward would be exploring landscape photography in more detail, and trying to get those breathtaking shots you see online and in museums and on travel brochures, etc. I have been told by those close to me that my photos are good, and I know their opinions may be biased, but it still gives me confidence to keep trying and expanding my horizons.

I have been trying to get my photos out there through sharing them in groups and contests. I think it has increased my views a little bit, but sharing my photos on Facebook and my blog have generated the most traffic. I will need to keep pushing for feedback on public platforms like Flickr to get more noticed.

One major point I reflected on as I did each mini project was how photography requires both a reactive and proactive mindset. You have to be an opportunist who simultaneously sees something beautiful as it is and react to it, but you also have to have tools and the eye for how to plan and stage a scene for when 100% natural beauty is scarce (something I learned when I prepped for portrait photography, when I made a lightbox, and when I took photos at different times of the days to play around with lighting).

Below is a list of my most important blog posts and a concise summary of my learning in each.


20170123_200938.jpg

1 – Beginning of my Journey Pt A

Beginning of my Journey Pt B

Me rambling on about what I am hoping to get out of this learning experience. I was also very excited to try out the new photography technology I bought online!


done

2 – Puddle Photography and Double Exposure Idea

My Face, My Yard, and I

Really Cool Photo of My Eye

This first progression of blogs shows my interest, and then pursuance of double exposure-style photo editing. I counted it as part of my photography journey because, ultimately – why are we taking photos, if not to do something with them? Whether we frame them, edit them, combine them… we are always creating and improving.


20170206_193646.jpg

3 – In Person Learning with Corla Rokochy – Definitely Worth a Read!

I am friends with Corla through The Lyric Theatre. I knew she was a professional photographer, but she actually approached me through Facebook after I put it out there that I was taking photography for my class. Thanks so much Corla!!!


Portrait Photography in Colour!

4- Preparing For Portrait Photos

After the Photoshoot

Further Reflections

I only did portrait photography once (not counting my self-portrait photography which you can find on my Learning Project page) and my friend was my reluctantly willing participant. We both ended up having fun and the photos turned out great. We both learned more about posing and working with light. Our favourite agreed-upon photo is the one above – I followed the tips of shooting when she wasn’t locked into a pose and got this gem!


5 – Making a Lightbox (Mini Photo Booth!)

Using the Lightbox

I loved this project (another idea from Trish) and am so grateful I have a resource I can use whenever I want, to take crisp, professional photos of objects on a white background.


Night and Day... Comparing 11 am shots to 8 pm shots of same place.

6 – Flickr Friend Advice on Photography (Great Resource For All!)

Day and Night Comparison

I was blown away by how this woman did not know me at all, but saw I was beginning to learn photography and, out of the kindness of her heart, shared her photography experiences and tips she has learned! She gave me project ideas, theories on good photography (the Fibonaccci sequence, having an asymmetrical amount of objects in focus, and so on), and a lot of motivation to keep on shooting. In the second blog, I document me following her project idea of taking photos of the same place at different times.


Landscape Photos March 5

7 – Landscape Photography Tips

Landscape Experimentation

The first blog shows a great resource that helped focus my attention for taking landscape photos instead of just snapping at “whatever looks good”. You can see the fruits of my labor in the second blog post.


Spur of the moment sunset photos turned out better than the (poorly) planned ones! I remembered the tips of using foreground elements and silhouettes. The train light in the distance is a nice touch!

8 – Photoshop Tutorial on Editing Layers

Timelapses and Sunset Photos

Sundown Photos (Showing Learning and Progress)

This selection of links show a progression in my use of Adobe photoshop to do timelapses, and also show my progression in photographing dusk/sunset scenes. If you look at the bottom of the 2nd link you will see a photo of a colorful sunset, and I think that symbolizes the end of my learning journey perfectly. The sun goes down as this class ends, but will be back again tomorrow as I continue my passion of photography outside of class!


9 – Tracing the Progress of my Alphabet Project

I thought it would be fitting to incorporate my learning project into my final summary of learning so I decided to make an alphabet poster that would be transformed into an interactive image map of different things I learned in this class!

You can view my journey in its entirety documented here, on my Learning Project category page. I did not include all blog posts in my summary above – only those I thought were most important.


Important links to check out, where I documented my learning and final products:

My Padlet

My Flickr Albums

All photos on this page were taken by me. If you want to relax and scroll through some photos of what I perceive (and you may perceive) as beautiful, please be my guest!

Please leave a comment, either on my blog or on my photos!

Corporate Digital Etiquette – A Comparison

In my short time on Twitter, I have noticed an incredible range in the digital etiquette of different edtech corporations/organizations. It can become clear quite quickly who really cares about their customers and who does it to see the betterment of society due to their product, and who simply is asleep at the wheel!

The two sites I noticed the big difference between are Flipgrid, a brand new and exciting resource I was introduced to through ECMP355, and WordPress, the blog I have been using semi-faithfully since 2nd year education. I also used WordPress when I was a kid and it was more of a journalism site for reading and writing fiction – so I have a long and rocky history with it!

I love WordPress as a site because of all that it has to offer for blogging, but it goes with its share of frustrations. I had two questions which I thought were fairly simple. I even repeated one once (the first time it was just a tweet of utter frustration).

No replies by WordPress. This is how I felt.

Other people like and retweet which is proof, to me, that these questions are valid to be asked and that, if WordPress answered these questions, they would be helping out more than one person. I also understand I can possibly get the answers through trial and error, reading FAQs on their site, or by Googling for others’ solutions – however, if you are on digital media, why not really be there to help a girl out quickly?

WordPress only tweets every few weeks, and if you look at their Twitter page it has no retweets to their followers’ pages. I think the site needs to hire a full time tweeter to get people more excited about what WordPress has to offer, and answer all of our questions!

 

Flipgrid, on the other hand, is the coolest organization around when it comes to social media presence. I follow them on Twitter and they are proactively sharing their resource as well as reacting instantaneously to people (customers) with answers or positive comments/likes/retweets. They help their customers get noticed, educated and connected on Twitter in the meantime. I got 25+ likes on one of my tweets and I am sure it is because they retweeted it! Just check out these tweets below. Here, they answer a great question:

They re-tweeted this, and a few other tweets I put out about them.

I even learned something new about Flipgrid while writing this post – people do face-to-face educational chats with other professionals!!! What!!! This could be a way to expand my professional development and PLN. I am using this as an example, showing that they retweet what other Tweeters have to say about them – they are interested in what is being done with their product.

They liked every tweet I made that had their handle in it – even one that didn’t (my blog post):

This is how Flipgrid makes me feel:

So, How Does This Apply As A Teacher?

From this, I reflect that, as an educator, I need to be available in diverse ways to my students. It is no longer acceptable to ONLY have a phone number and an office to meet face-to-face. Even an e-mail is starting to seem lacking. I think teachers should still have their down time (students shouldn’t expect e-mails back until next work day – although the reality is that many teachers will reply back before then out of the kindness of their hearts!) HOWEVER I realize now how it makes a difference, as a student, when you can just ask a simple question through writing (or a short video!) rather than bothering with a phone call or calling a meeting. Becoming connected in more technology won’t mean more of a hassle, it can mean LESS of a hassle (quick answers) for both teacher and student.

I think it is wonderful that students, staff, and parents can now reach me through my blog, Twitter, or e-mail.

Flipgrid “Fever” with Robbi!

Over the weekend I decided to Search up Flipgrid because I kept hearing about it in ECMP355 but really had no idea what this “flipping” was all about. I found an infographic that summarized it perfectly and Tweeted it in hopes of helping others who were lost like me. Robbi then told me she had used it, and I wanted to help myself and others by getting her to say HOW she used it. She explained she used friends as mock-students, and so I retweeted this with the further idea that it would not have to be face-to-face friends but could be people in our PLN (online educator friends). She then went one step further in helping ME learn by suggesting we actually do it. Too cool! So she chose a topic that relates to education and asked me to answer. We have the link to the lesson on Twitter so others can see how it is set up as well – and no accounts are needed to answer the questions!

I found it extremely difficult to answer in 1 min 30 seconds. So I answered in 3 min (two videos haha!) Like Twitter, this is a GREAT way to focus students on summarizing accurately and getting to the heart of the matter. Short and sweet.

Here are our Twitter convos, which Flipgrid graciously liked and retweeted! (Just click on the live feed to see all of the replies.) I got a bunch of likes. Woohoo!

Here are my video responses (I answered my own initial question in the first video – there is a share button as soon as you finish publishing your video):

https://flipgrid.com/4779ca

https://flipgrid.com/48fe04

Scratchtastic Coding Adventures!

My Masterpiece:

My Scratch Creation (Activity on World Continents)

How Did I Get There?

Feel free to check out my lengthy reflections, interspersed with screenshots.

Why Do I Love Scratch?

It is FUN and the opportunities for building are virtually ENDLESS. As a teacher there are endless opportunities for building closed or open-ended learning games and resources for students. Even better, students can build resources as a platform to share information with other students, and learn digital literacy in the process! It works WAY quicker than Powtown did on my computer, and there are infinitely more possibilities for what you can do in regards to animation to get your points across. You can work by trial and error, and share your creations with others, creating an awesomely-accessible network of learning for all.

Criticism?

To my knowledge, you cannot see the actual text coding of your Scratch projects – therefore you really are only doing half the work and seeing half of the full picture. (IF I AM WRONG PLEASE CORRECT ME!) The fact that we can’t see our text coding AFTER we make our project (and learn backwards how to design from text) is a bit upsetting because I like full transparency in my learning. I want to know how to do it ALL. I don’t just want to pull out “the right” card in the magic trick, I want to learn how to recreate the magic trick and learn how to place “the right card at the right time”. Get my analogy?

I do, however, like this format better than the An Hour of Code that Katia introduced us to. I do recognize that I may not have seen all of the site’s capabilities, but I wasn’t really impressed by the young children’s coding games. I can see how for VERY beginning students, this is a good level of activity for them to get their feet wet. However it is also confusing, because I wonder if, at that young of an age, they will not know if they are coding (building the game) or just playing part of the game. I fell in sink or swim with HTML coding (if you wanted to see something, you made it from “scratch”) and I feel like I learned (and even retained) a lot of knowledge because of it.

When I played Sprite Box I kept hopping in and out of game-mode to build-mode so often that I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was doing, either. In Scratch I at least have freedom to do what I want, whereas in the Spite Box game  I was locked into doing a special string of events. I couldn’t trial and error learn until I got what I wanted, but I feel that trial and error and independence is always the best form of learning, rather than being spoon-fed the right way to do everything.

When it comes down to it, I know me – individually – I would like a site like Code Academy which lets you build from scratch – from smaller to bigger projects. However I had loads of fun on Scratch and it at least gives you a good chunk of the idea of what coding is all about, and especially why it is so important.

Why is coding important?

We need to know coding to build any kind of program on a computer. We wouldn’t have websites, games, any kind of computational organization without coding – and we have come a long way from entering text prompts (“commands”) into MS DOS but everything we do (clicking the mouse, typing on the keyboard) has a hidden language behind it. It is just perhaps more hidden, now, than it was in the times of MS DOS. The people who know and can “speak” that hidden language of coding have an immense amount of power over those who don’t, because the digital world is – as we have said multiple times in ECMP – integrated and inseparable with our “real” world.