Summary of Learning for EC&I 831 – Share More!!!!

I decided to look back at my very first blog post before sitting down to write about what I have learned during my time taking EC&I 831. I mentioned that I was quite comfortable with social media but always felt a step or two behind when it came to technology in general. I have always been very open to technology but have found it difficult to incorporate it into my teaching practices as a senior mathematics teacher. I still struggle to find interesting and practical ways to integrate technology into math but after taking this class I have an even deeper appreciation for the power of connected learning and open education. I have always known how powerful social media can be but my experiences in this class have only confirmed this belief and even expanded it through learning about new social media outlets and tools.

The first new experience in the class was the introduction to Blackboard Collaborate. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that such a tool existed. I was impressed with how easily video, audio, and text were integrated. It allowed people from all over the world to instantaneously interact. This was amazing to me.

The next experience was becoming a part of the EC&I 831 Google+ community. This was another very easy way to connect and interact with Alec Couros and all of the other participants in the class. We could share video’s, articles, pictures, and of course our blog posts with the google+ community. Commenting on other’s post as well as getting feedback on your own was an important part of the learning experience.

For some people in the class, Twitter was a very new and somewhat scary aspect of the class. This was not the case for me. I have been on Twitter for about 3 years now and know what a wonderful social media tool it can be, especially in the realm of education. Twitter is yet another way to connect with educators from all over the world. What an amazing resource for teachers to have to be able to share with and ask questions of educators from all disciplines and backgrounds. The world is literally at your fingertips.

After familiarizing myself with Blackboard Collaborate and the google+ community, and continuing to connect of twitter, the next phase was to create a blog. I had never blogged before in my life but was very open to the concept of blogging. Coming from a performing arts background, I have no problem sharing myself with my family, peers, and colleagues, and doing so in an entertaining way. So blogging was right up my alley and I fell in love with it almost instantly. I have always enjoyed creative writing and also sharing myself with the world. Blogging…where have you been all my life?!? But honestly, I have really enjoyed blogging each week and found myself really tuned into what was going on in education. It was like a new sense was turned on inside me and I was constantly on the look out for something to blog about and I never had trouble finding something to write about. And when Alec and Sue Waters (the Edublogger guru) instructed the class on how to spice up their blog posts and blog pages, I was even more hooked. Now I was adding widgets and adding links, pictures, and videos like nobody’s business. I now had a Twitter feed and an About.Me link. I thought I might even be giving my good friend George Couros (Alec’s brother) a run for his money in the blog world. (Just kidding George, you are still the king).

Since I started my blog on September 16th of this year I have had nearly 1500 people view my blog, from 28 different countries, representing every continent, (with the exception of Antarctica of course). I have had 103 comments on my 14 posts, many of those were from me responding to others that posted, but nonetheless, I have been quite surprised and pleased with the response that I have received from my blog. I had no idea the potential outreach blogging had. In my brief experience with blogging, it is a very inclusive and caring community. I have absolutely loved my blogging experience and plan to continue long after this class is finished.

I could go on and on about everything that I have learned in this class and detail all of the people, apps, tools, and sites that I encountered and learned from but I fear that I have gone on too long already. So why don’t you check out the song I wrote, and posted to Youtube, summarizing what I have learned in this class. I re-wrote the words to the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and then edited the video in the style of Pop Up Video. As I said at the end of the video, I hope that you enjoy the song as much as I enjoyed this class. The name of my version of this song is “Share More”. Enjoy!

 

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Hard Work and Perseverence are the Keys to Success!

Hey Beatles fans! This is my final post for my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831. For this assignment I choose to do a Learning Project. The basic idea of a Learning Project is to learn something new and to document and share how you learned it and your progress along the way. For my Learning Project I choose to learn to play and sing the song “Blackbird” by the Beatles. This is not my first time singing or playing guitar but “Blackbird” is a song that I always wanted to learn and is more difficult than the songs I normally play on the guitar. So I gave myself two weeks to learn the song and filmed myself at the beginning, at the halfway point, and again at the end. Here is a look at my very first attempt after learning the song through this Youtube video and then practicing for just a couple hours. This was filmed on Monday, November 18th.

After filming this I was not sure I would be able to pull it off in two weeks but it really motivated me to practice and improve. I haven’t taken on a difficult song like this in a very long time so I was both scared and excited at the same time. The competitive side of me wanted to take on the challenge and prove I could do it, but the practical side of me wasn’t sure I could in such a short time. Regardless, I persevered and practiced my fingers to the bones, (almost literally), and began to see improvements in just a couple days. I was practicing at my school, at home, at friends houses, you name it. I was highly motivated to get better. For my second attempt, after about a week of practicing, I decided to sing as well as play. My guitar playing had improved significantly but adding the lyrics was an added challenge. Here is my second attempt with guitar and singing filmed on Tuesday, November, 26th.

Not bad for a week of practicing but I still felt that I could improve. I was comfortable with playing most of the song but there were some trouble area’s that I really wanted to get better at. However, I kind of hit a wall after practicing a lot over a short period of time. I went back to Youtube and found an another instructional video that offered a slightly different fingering pattern for the parts that I was struggling with. This was enough to renew my excitement and I instantly improved on some of those trouble spots. I certainly wasn’t playing the song perfectly, but I was making far less mistakes which made me very happy. So here is my final video which I filmed on Tuesday, December 3rd. Hope you enjoy it!

As I said, the song wasn’t perfect but I thought that I did pretty well. I made far fewer mistakes than the previous attempt and really cleaned up some of the trouble spots. Overall, I was quite pleased with the final result. And the best part about taking on this Learning Project is that now I can actually play and sing “Blackbird”!!!

Taking on this Learning Project has reminded me that not everything in life is easy and sometimes you really have to work hard at something to get better. This is true in all aspects of our lives, whether it be relationships, career, or hobbies. You must work hard and take risks to improve and grow. And the pay off is the amazing feeling you get when your hard work pays off and you are able to accomplish the thing you set out to do. Nothing feels better than setting out to do something, and accomplishing that goal through hard work and perseverance. We all have a Blackbird inside of us that wants to be set free and fly. So don’t hold back. Take on a new challenge, take a risk, work hard but be willing to fail. And if you accomplish your goal, no one can take that away from you.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Can Be Good For Your Soul!

In my last blog post I introduced my Learning Project for EC&I 831. The basic idea of a Learning Project is to pick something that you would like to learn, (it could be to learn a new skill or to learn about a new topic of interest to you), and then learn said skill or topic and document the way in which you learned and of course your progress. For my Learning Project I chose to learn the song “Blackbird” by The Beatles. I have been playing guitar for about 18 years now but “Blackbird” is a song that I have always wanted to learn and never took the time to try. The difficulty of the song is definitely out of my comfort zone but I wanted to challenge myself and learn this classic guitar song.

On Monday, November 18, I watched a couple YouTube video’s and learned the basics of the song. I practiced for a couple hours and recorded my first attempt. In this first recording I only played guitar and didn’t sing. Here is my first attempt to play “Blackbird” from that first night.

Yikes! That is hard to watch! Since that night I have been practicing a lot and I also learned the lyrics so that I can both sing and play. I also watched and played along with another YouTube video that has an original recording and the lyrics. (I would share that video but apparently it was recently taken down because of copyright infringements). So after a lot of practice, and learning the lyrics, here is my latest attempt at playing “Blackbird” which I filmed last night on Tuesday, November 26th. Enjoy!

 

I have to admit that when I first decided to learn this song in such a short time, (about two weeks), I wasn’t sure that I would be able to pull it off and as a result I have been playing my guitar more in the last week or so than I have in probably the last year! Even though it has been a little scary, I am enjoying the challenge. I think that often we get very complacent in our daily lives and don’t always challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zones. This Learning Project has reminded me that we have to challenge ourselves if we ever want to grow. This is true in all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. Sometimes we have to push ourselves or have someone else give us a little nudge in order to see things in a different light or to simply light a fire under our butts! So don’t be afraid to try something new or take on a new challenge. You might be surprised at how rewarding it can be! And as I said in the title, getting out of your comfort zone can be good for your soul!

What have you done lately that is a little scary or out of your comfort zone? It doesn’t have to be something big like jumping out of a plane, it could be something small like trying a new technology or singing karaoke! Let me know, I would love to hear about it!

My Learning Project Begins!

As part of my EC&I 831 course with Dr. Alec Couros, we are required to do a major digital project. The project is pretty wide open as far as what we can choose to do. One of the choices is to do a “learning project”.

I found a great description of a learning project on Howard Rheingold’s Blog which just happened to be about Alec Couros and The Connected Teacher. The basic idea behind a learning project is this:

1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning.

2. Document the learning. Write about it, video tape, audio record, whatever.

3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources.

4. Take an early baseline snapshot of your understand at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze.

My learning project is not exactly to learn a new skill but to challenge one of my existing skills. I have been playing guitar for almost 19 years and I would rate my skill as a guitar player as adequate. When I started teaching myself to play, my goal was to be able to play around a campfire. I accomplished that goal and I have gone beyond the campfire and regularly sing and play my guitar on stage with The Saskatoon Soaps Improv Comedy Troupe and with the Red Hot Riot show here in Regina, Sk. I also have written and performed several parody songs that I have posted to my YouTube channel and also the Saskatoon Soaps YouTube channel.

As I said earlier, my guitar playing is adequate. I have gotten better over the years but I have plateaued long ago. My skills as a guitar player are very utilitarian. I play just well enough to get by. I can pick up most songs by ear but I would categorize myself as a “strummer” and not a “picker”. In other words, if I were in a band, I would definitely be the rhythm guitar player and not lead guitar. I can play the chords to most songs but cannot play the screaming guitar solo’s.

One of the songs that I have always wanted to learn was “Blackbird” by the Beatles. I have always been a huge Beatles fan and this summer I was able to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert. It was the thrill of a lifetime to see one of The Beatles on stage and relive my childhood and teenage years listening to The Beatles. Even the title of my blog, Live and Let Learn, is a play on the Paul McCartney song Live and Let Die.

So even though I have been playing guitar for a long time, taking on a classic like “Blackbird” is a huge challenge for me, not to mention that the song is all picking and fast chord changes. Not what I am used to playing at all. To learn how to play I went to YouTube and found several tutorial-type video’s and ended up looking at these two video’s.
I spent a couple hours learning and practicing and here is my first attempt at playing the song. WARNING: This attempt is not pretty. I apologize to The Beatles and Paul McCartney and anyone else who has ever played this song properly.
So there you go! My plan is to get much better over the next couple of weeks and post one more intermediate video and a final video. I think that my learning project is a good analogy for this course. I am taking a skill that I already have and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on that skill, very much like this class. I am taking what I already know about technology and social media and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on my knowledge base. Hopefully it all goes well on both fronts!
Stay tuned…..

 

I Love TED Talks!

For those of you that know about Ted Talks, I probably don’t have to convince you that they are both amazing education tools and just plain fun and interesting to watch! For those of you that have never heard of TED or never watched a TED Talk, I hope I can convince you to have a look, because not only can you grow your own curiosity and knowledge base but also that of your students and colleagues. And for those of you who are not teachers, you can watch for the shear entertainment and educational value, even if you don’t share it with anyone.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, started out as a conference in 1984 which brought together people from these three worlds to share idea’s. Not surprisingly, the motto for TED is “Idea’s Worth Spreading”. TED

TED Talks are short video’s, usually about 18 minutes long, in which a speaker talks and presents on a specific topic. The speakers are experts in their respective fields and the presentation is generally short, educational, and entertaining; and these three adjectives are really what make TED Talks so great. You don’t have to invest a lot of time and they are very entertaining and educational, perfect for a school setting, but also perfect for the average person who wants a quick bit of entertainment while they work out or wait for the bus. Also, there are currently over 1600 TED Talks available, so you can find a TED Talk on almost any subject. Some are very funny and light hearted, some are very somber and serious. Whatever your interests, there is a TED Talk for you. So instead of me just talking about TED Talks, why don’t I share some with you.

I will start with a TED talk that falls under the topic of education but is also related to the most recent EC&I 831 on-line class which featured guest speaker Sylvia Martinez. Sylvia talked to the class about the Maker Movement in education which she features in her book, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. She is encouraging teachers to let their students simply build things out of junk and odds and ends. Let them be the creators and engineers. Let them learn through play. Technology is integrated using things like Makey Makey and Arduino and the end result can be unbelievable. I believe that this is very closely related to the first TED Talk I would like you to watch. The video features Dr. Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher, who discovered, through his “Hole in the Wall” experiments, that children can teach themselves, and each other, in the absence of formal teaching. He hooked up a computer in a slum area of urban India, protected by a wall, and simply let the neighborhood children experiment with absolutely no training on how to use a computer. Watch the video below to see what happens.

What an amazing story! And this is just one of many education related TED Talks. There are also subject specific TED Talks that a teacher may use. I am a math teacher and here is TED Talk I shared with one of my classes.

Here is a very interesting TED Talk that could be used in a biology class studying the environment.

Here is a TED Talk that made the rounds on social media that could be used in a language arts class studying poetry or maybe a social studies class studying social justice or bullying.

How about music class? Here is one of my personal favorites which features Bobby McFerrin. I love this one.

There are so many more that I could show you but I think that I have maybe shared too much on this post as it is. Even if you watched just one of these video’s I hope it was enough to get you to go and check out some more and maybe see if there are any that would fit into your subject area or specific topic you want to cover.

Please let me know what you thought of any of these TED Talks or maybe share your  favorites with me. I would love to hear from you in the comments area below!

 

Hi, my name is @jojo7415!

I wonder if this is how we will introduce ourselves in the near future, using our twitter handles or other various social media names. Many people already include these on business cards or websites. We see twitter names along side proper names on television and in magazines. It is becoming a part of our identity, of who we are. We are beginning to associate people with their social media identity. Twitter handles and names are beginning to become synonymous with each other. The question is; is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I have recently started listening to a podcast called Mohr Stories, starring comedian and actor Jay Mohr. In the podcast, Jay Mohr interviews and has conversations with other comedians, musicians, and actors. I find it very entertaining and funny, but what I found really interesting is that Jay repeatedly tells the listening audience the twitter handle of that days guest, and almost uses it interchangeably with the guests name. Jay, an avid “tweeter” himself, uses twitter to promote his podcast and his upcoming shows, and by continually using his guest’s twitter name helps them to gain more followers and do the same. This is what initially got me thinking about our social media identity and how important it is to our daily interactions.

Just this weekend I was involved with a comedy variety show here in Regina called Red Hot Riot, and the show featured a young up and coming musician named Danny Goertz. After hearing him play and realizing just how good he was, my very first question to him was, are you on twitter? Followed by, what’s your handle? I told him that I would love to help him get his name out there and help him to promote upcoming shows. Once again, I began to think about our social media identity and how it is linked to our daily lives and personal interactions. For entertainers like Jay Mohr and Danny Goertz, twitter and other social media such as Facebook and YouTube are natural ways to promote oneself, and they hopefully create a positive association between the social media identity and the actual person. But what about the negative associations?

The most recent example of negative association with twitter occurred last week with the crowning of the first Miss America of Asian descent. After she was crowned, the twitter-verse was bombarded with negative and outright racist comments about the new Asian Miss America. The article below gives a sampling of some of the horrible things that were said.

http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/post/61388585374/americans-call-first-indian-american-miss-America

This is a perfect example of how your twitter identity can have a negative association. People need to be careful of what they put out into the social media universe because once it is out there, you can not take it back. The thing that many people don’t realize is that you need to protect and uphold your social media identity just as much as you do your personal identity, because we are coming to an age where the two are interchangeable. In many ways, who you are in the social media world, is representative of who you are in real life, so you better be protective of that identity. If you want some tips on how to manage our social media identity, check out the link below.

http://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=12449

So what do you think? Is our social media identity the same as our real world identity? Will we soon be introducing ourselves with a name and a twitter handle? These are question I will continue to ask and examine as we move forward. That’s all for now, @jojo7415, signing off.

No Day Like Today!

I thought I would title my first Blog ever with one of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite musicals of all time, Rent. It is useful in so many situations, whether you are giving up a bad habit, making a positive change in your life, or just deciding to live your life to fullest, there is “no day like today”. In my case, there is “no day like today” to write and share my first Blog ever!

I will start with a little bit about myself, however, I always find it hard, when writing a bio, to find that right balance of interesting personal information and pertinent professional information. It is somewhere in the middle between an online dating bio and a professional resume, you don’t want to get too personal but you don’t want to come across boring either. Anyway, here goes. My name is Ryan Josephson, and I am a father of a beautiful 4 year old daughter. I have been in the education business for 15 years, teaching high school (mostly senior math), with a little coaching on the side (mostly basketball), and some drama directing thrown in for good measure (mostly musicals). In my spare time I love to golf and play other sports. I am also involved in the performing arts. My main love is improv, but I also like to sing and play the guitar and do a little acting when I can. There is something very addicting about the stage to me and I can’t get enough of it.

EC&I 831 is my 5th masters class and the first elective I have taken thus far. I am really looking forward to a different style of class than my previous 4 classes. As far as my comfort level with technology, I have always felt as though I have been a few steps behind but I do feel as though I am beginning to catch up a little bit. As far as social media goes, I think I am fairly tuned in, especially in my personal life. I use Facebook and twitter quite extensively to stay connected with friends, colleagues, and educators, and to promote the various shows and endeavors I am involved with. I hope to share some of my many social media experiences as we move forward in this class and in my Blog’s. Beyond social media, I feel like I have a lot to learn. I am excited to learn more about all the technology available to make my classes more interesting and engaging. I firmly believe that making connections to people is a an amazing way to learn, and this can be accomplished face to face or through social media.

My goal for this class is to continue to connect with and learn from other educators and to open myself up to all the possibilities that technology may hold for my teaching practices. My personal hang-up with technology is related to my subject area. I have always found it difficult to adapt many of the technological tools to mathematics, and I have always felt that it would be too time consuming to do so, and the pressure to cover curriculum in a timely fashion often over-rules my desire to incorporate technology. However, I know that there are senior math teachers out there that are doing it, and it is time for me to just give myself over to the process. So that is what I am going to try and do. No day like today!

I know that we are only a week in, but I am thoroughly enjoying this class so far! I look forward to getting to know all my classmates better and continue to connect and share. Live and let learn!