Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward


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Hashtags, Tweeters and Bloggers

After spending amazing family time in Quebec during the holidays, I am now back in the Prairies. The routine is slowly starting back for everyone; going back to work, back to school, back to doing the activities you might of put aside for the holiday season. Unfortunately, I am not going back to the university this semester. I say it like it is a bad thing, but it is actually pretty amazing to have a little more time to breathe until fall comes around.

Since I will not be in school, I will have more free time and want to use it wisely. I want to follow up on hot education topics, follow my tweeters as well as participate in #cdnedchat, and I want to keep writing blog posts about topics that interest me. I noticed that my Twitter was kind of hectic, people I follow are not in specific categories, and I would like to organize people I am following in lists. This will be a long task but it will then be easier to organize my TweetDeck once this is done. I have started to add columns to my Deck with the hashtags (#) I want to keep an eye on during my time off such as: #cdnedchat, #regteach, #skteachers, #edchat, #edtech, #frimm, #langchat and #elemchat. Not quite sure this is the perfect list, but if you have any suggestions feel free to comment on my post or tweet me!

Furthermore, I would love to take the time and read more educational blog posts and write responses or reflections related to them. Reading and learning is important to me, it is important to shape the future educator I want to become. I have recently been offered a casual position as a special educational assistant with Regina Public Schools, and I am very anxious to see what I will learn from this experience. This is a great opportunity for me to learn, as I am not necessarily familiar with all the requirements needed for this position, and it is also a great opportunity to create more connections with students, teachers, principals and the community. Keep checking up on my blog, posts will come, and if you do not follow me on Twitter yet, do it right here. Wishing you all the best for 2014, cheers!

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Happy Holidays!

The stress of final exams is now over and I am back in Quebec to spend the holidays with my family. I plan to eat a lot of food, see my friends and go to the ski hill! I just wanted to say a little “hi” since I will probably not be posting anything relevant during my vacations, but will be back at it when January comes around. I want to wish all of my readers a happy holiday season and I hope that you will take this time to enjoy all the precious moments you spend with friends, family and loved ones. I wish all of you health, love, happiness and that all your wishes come true!

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Communication And Students Are Key to Change Education

As I was reading Students Ask: Why So Few of Us at CEA’s Calgary Conference?I was shocked. Why wasn’t I aware of this Canadian Educators Association? Of course I knew there were teacher federations for each province in the country, but I had never heard of this one association. And they had this gathering in Calgary? So close to me. I would be interested in participating in such event, but their online upcoming events calendar does not seem to be working, so I am unsure of when and where the next events will take place. It was very interesting to find out that people who attend the conferences have name tags that only display their names. The titles and surnames of individuals are left out so that participants can have meaningful conversations about education matters without feeling judged or left out for where they stand in society. At each table, students, educators and others are mixed to have different perspectives and ideas. I really like this aspect as it represents really well the current approach in teacher education at the University of Regina about how important social justice is and how we are still far from this in today’s society. Everyone has an opinion and can bring meaningful insight even if they are not an important director of a district, board or school. Individuals are given the opportunity to have a voice and to bring ideas to the day light and discuss them with amazing educators, directors, teachers and students. I would personally love to attend one of these conferences as I would have the opportunity to grow and learn, even if I’m “just” a student.

The CBE (Calgary Board of Educators) students also mentioned the important lack of students at the conference. This poses some problems as students are in “training” to become open-minded and socially just educators that will bring change to the country’s current education system. The majority of students in the classroom hope to make a change, they want to change education for the best. Yet, most of the time they are not at those “important” conferences that focus on changing education and communicates these issues. Some students are not as privileged as others and unfortunately, are not informed about the importance of the changes that are made to improve the education system. I do not like to brag, but we are the future of education, we are important too. Tell us about these conferences, tell us about the changes, give us feedback, have meaningful exchanges with us. I have said it before and will say it again, feedback is so crucial! Feedback helps us improve ourselves, we learn and grow from it. Change can be scary, but who said it was going to be easy? Students need to be more involved in these meaningful events that take place all over the country. It might be a bit intimidating to go to one of these conferences, as you might not know anyone, but it is good to get out of your comfort zone and to make changes, you will definitely need to cross some lines and be uncomfortable. But guess what.. When we are uncomfortable, we learn. We all have a role to play into changing education for the best, we all have the power to make a difference, even if you feel you are insignificant. Things take time, but if we all get together and work together, we are powerful. We really can make a difference. Be involved, inform yourself, connect with educators (Twitter is great for that
) and do not be scared, your opinion matters.

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The NeuroOn

The NeuroOn is a monitoring sleep mask that switches you to switch from monophasic to polyphasic sleep. Monophasic sleep is when you only sleep once a day, like the traditional sleeping patterns of many of us that consists of 6-10 hours of sleep. Polyphasic sleep means that you sleep many times throughout the day without having a particular sleeping schedule. The mask and the application allow you to plan your “naps” for the day while giving you way more productive time during the day than you would with monophasic sleep. The people who put this prototype together figured that with this device, they were able to get an extra 24 hours of productivity every single week. How crazy is that? When you put the mask on, it can send some light or vibrations to wake you when you are well rested, not waking you in your deep sleep. I recommend you check out the video in the following link as it tells you so much more and you can also back up the project on kickstarter here. Productivity junkies, get ready to be even more productive and taking advantage of every single minute during the day, literally.

 


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Active Learning All Around The World

I highly enjoyed this talk by Daphne Koller where she tells us about the importance of online learning communities, more specifically via online courses offered by big universities for free. This is possible through the online platform Coursera where 545 free courses are offered and already taken by 5,599,670 students. We explored this website with our professor in ECMP355 and I remember being amazed by the variety of courses that were offered and how you would even get certificates from some of them! Koller emphasized the importance and the amazing results of active learning in the classroom and with online classes. Studies have shown the increase in the amount of knowledge acquired/retained when the learning was actively done by the student. We cannot offer tutors to every single person who wants to learn on the planet, but we can give them the technology to have access to one, wherever they might be! This is one of the elements why I love education and technology, there is so many possibilities when you combine the two. If you have not watched this video yet, I suggest you give it a try 

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This also touches part of my personal learning summary in ECMP355 as this morning, I was browsing the highlights of the amazing things I have learnt throughout the course and came across Coursera. Since I will not be taking any classes next semester for personal reasons, I am considering following one course on the platform in addition to the continuation of my Italian language learning. I am curious of everything the world has to offer.


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Cancer Has Got Me Thinking & Learning

After reading this story I found on CBC News, I found myself relating and thinking about what Dr. Nikhil Joshi chose to share with the rest of the world, with all of his readers. He starts his story by explaining how he has to make himself injections in order to stimulate his bone marrow to produce cells, how he came to discover he had cancer, how he feels and how the majority of the population has a very dramatic perception of cancer. While I was reading his post, I understood the majority, if not everything he was telling us about his cancer. If  I would have read his post three months ago, I probably would not of understood half of its content.

As some of you might know, my mother was diagnosed with leukaemia at the beginning of October, and it has been a rough semester. But the good news is, she is pulling through and the cancer cells are mostly non-existent right now, but she still has to continue her chemo treatments so that it does not come back. Even though the medical staff cannot see malignant cells with the microscopes, it does not imply that the cancer is all gone, it could come back at any time. I do not want to explain in details my mother’s disease, but I want to share with you what I have learnt and make connections with Dr. Joshi’s post. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they could have had symptoms for a really long time before being diagnosed, or the symptoms can appear as late as a week before the diagnostic. Then, they get you in the hospital where they can treat you, and they start by doing intense chemo that brings your whole immune system down, aiming to kill all the cancerous cells. When they do this, the bone marrow cannot produce enough, if any, white blood cells that will help fight external infections, as little and insignificant they might seem to a non-sick individual. Having your immune system down is an invite for little infections to attack you, so you might be isolated during this period. Individuals might undergo several chemo treatments before the doctors are not able to see any cancerous cells under the microscope, and like I have mentioned previously, you might still need to do chemo for a while to make sure the cancer does not come back. This is called remission.

I might have skipped many important elements of an individual’s treatment, but I shared what I have learnt through personal experience and you have to know that the treatments can differ from one person to another, as we all have different bodies that have tolerance to different elements. I was very devastated when I first found out that my mother had cancer, it is still a little hard today, as I want her to be completely healed, but I progressed. Yes, indeed, cancer can sound very dramatic and people’s interactions change when they are around someone who has cancer. I have changed and so has my mom in some ways. I was never really close to my mother, some say it is because we are too much alike, I think of it as we just do not get along. When the cancer happened, my whole perspective changed. I was not ready to lose my mother and I found myself stupid for not getting along with my mother for such a long time, but I was given the chance to think about my past and make changes. The disease has brought us together and I can assure you that I am indeed closer to my mom now. When I went home to spend time with her, I only wanted to be with her because I was worried of the remaining time we would get to spend together. We went for walks, lounged on the couch watching her soaps, made suppers together and I made sure the house was always clean enough for her (it has to be immaculate!) and that she was not pushing herself too much, as she is a very active woman who loves to constantly be busy. I am very happy that I chose to go home and be with her, when all the way from Quebec, she told me to focus on my studies and to not worry about her.. Yeah right mom, as if!

Cancer is scary, but I was able to get good things out of it. I chose to make my bond with my mother stronger than ever and I was able to see how strong of a woman she really is. I knew she was strong before, but she is a “tank” now! She has kept a very positive attitude towards the whole situation and she knows that she will beat the darn thing. I am worried, but she is not. This right here is very inspiring and I have learnt from her to not let anything get to me, to always enjoy life and its beautiful moments, that there is always positive outcomes, that there is always a solution or an alternative. We all perceive cancer differently, but I would like to tell all of you who are reading this, to look for the positive, as it is always nearby. Smile, laugh and love, these are more powerful than anything else in the universe!

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Why Are we Stuck in 20th Century Learning?

After reading Tom Whitby’s 20th vs. 21st Century Teaching last week, I posted his article on our ECMP355 Google+ page and my prof asked me the following questions that I started reflecting on: “Tom does a good job of differentiating. So, why are we so stuck in 20th century learning? Is it because we teach like we are taught? Is it too difficult to break out of the routine? Is 21st century more difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts”.

While 20th century teaching is focused on teacher-centric learning, in the 21st century it sure seems like everybody is focused on student-centric learning, including myself. Although the schools are slowly changing to 21st century teaching and we are trying to teach new educators to go towards student-centric learning, many educators and institutions are still stuck in the teacher-centric learning era where students learn throughout lectures and whatever information teachers stuff them with, literally. As a university student who is taking a full load of classes, I can assure you that at least 3 out of my 5 classes are based on reading textbooks from cover to cover and listening to information the teacher is delivering to us, and we are expected to “memorize” this information and fully understand it. Not only is this boring, but I do not feel like I am actually learning anything. Yes, I remember some information, but I will probably forget all of it when the next semester will start and will be presented to similar classes where memorizing and brain cramming are dominant.

On the other hand, I have my education classes. I feel very privileged to be here in second year, as all my other classmates from the French Bac are in Quebec City. Because of this particular situation, I am required to take my education classes in the English program this year, which is amazing as it is a renewed education program. Every time I go to these ED classes, I feel inspired and I actually learn so much! Teachers present us some facts and general information and then we discuss it as a group, after some reflection. We are also asked to look at things on our own at home then post what we retained. By doing this, it allows us to do our own research and construct our own knowledge, and I personally find it easier to retain the information I found because I did it on my own. I would be curious to know how other students feel about those classes and if they like these education classes better than their complementary classes, as well as how their other professors teach them.

When I first started in the education program, when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I did not know there was anything such as teacher-centric learning or student-centric learning. I just thought, like probably the majority of first year students’ that I would learn how to teach/give information to the students in my classroom and expect them to retain the information to pass their exams. Oh, how wrong was I! I believe that some teachers are “stuck” into 20th century learning because that is how they were taught in school and because they are comfortable with the way they are doing things. It is definitely hard to part with a routine where you feel comfortable, but we need to learn how to get out of our comfort zones and how to take on new challenges every single day. We learn so much more this way. Of course teachers will always be needed, as students need someone to motivate, challenge and support them. Giving little information to the students in order to trigger their curiosity is the most powerful learning tool. A child who is curious will be eager to learn, will be eager to find things on their own. I do not think that 21st century learning is more difficult. Yes it might require even more research, time, effort and learning of our own, but in the end it will make us feel good about what we have accomplished and students will remember the teachers that had an impact on their lives and what they learnt from them. I might be wrong on certain things I mentioned in my post, but it is my opinion and I am still learning about being an educator, as it is a lifelong learning process. I would love to hear your thoughts on education and if you have some ideas or feedback to give me, go ahead!

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