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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Italian Lessons

After much struggling during my last “preposition session”, I went on YouTube to try to find Italian lessons that related to prepositions, successfully. The first video contained really simple prepositions that I already knew how to use, but it was still helpful to watch it and review before attempting to complete my unit.

Not being able to find what I did not grasp at the time, I found another video. Lengthier, but it contained everything I was looking for. I skipped to about 6:00 minutes because the content was a little repetitive from the last video I watched. In this video, the instructor explained how del, delle, della, dello were formed and when to use them. It helped me a lot and I was then able to complete the rest of my prepositions unit! I think that from now on, when I do not completely understand some terms or grammar rules, I will turn to YouTube as there are many videos available that can help me in my learning process.

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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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Pet Peeve: Italian Prepositions

Last week, I learnt about Italian conjunctions and prepositions. Let me tell you, this is not an easy task. I thought I could manage pretty well, but I ended up having a really hard time learning the prepositions. The conjunctions part went pretty well and I am now able to combine phrases with words such as: e, ed(and), perché, ma(but), se(if), (either…or), o(or), oppure(or, otherwise, or else), che(what) and finché(as long as, while, until). 

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Prepositions are another story. I have a little difficulty matching the right preposition when the sentences/phrases are longer than three or four words. I thought it would be easy if I thought in French first, before translating to English in my head, but it is not so simple. I did not complete the whole unit because it consists of 8 lessons and I got a little discouraged after the 6th lesson, but I will continue and complete the preposition unit by the end of the week hopefully. If you notice on the picture above, there is a button that says “Test out of this skill” for people who already know some elements of the language they are learning, they can try to pass a short test that will allow them to go to the next level without having to do all the lessons in the unit. On the picture below, we can see my progress so far, I have almost completed two big sections of the Italian skill tree. If anyone has any tricks or tips for Italian prepositions, feel free to share them below. I will also look on YouTube to see if I can find a lesson on prepositions before finishing my unit. Have a great week!

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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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Curriculum as Narrative and Community: How I Contributed to the Learning of Others

As the semester comes to an end, it is fairly important to look back on the interactions that were made with classmates, instructors and presenters, either online or during face to face discussions, and reflect. To reflect on the thoughtful and critical interchanges one has had with others and to find out how this might have contributed to the construction of their knowledge. Throughout the semester, I have had many interactions with the online community on Twitter and read many educational, critical and inspirational blog posts and articles that have contributed to my personal learning. Feeling inspired by these new discoveries, I wanted to share the information that had contributed to my knowledge with the people who surrounded me, as it might also contribute to their learning. That is what I did.

Many individuals are life-long learners. Here I say many, because I personally believe that there are still people out there in the world who have yet to discover the beauty of learning and the concept of the happy learner. The concept of the happy learner is something I have come up with on my own, although it might already be out there and I am unaware of it. I believe that an individual who is learning what he wants to learn will be happy. By learning things he wants to learn, the individual remains curious, and I believe that someone who learns content that appeals to them will incite them to learn about numerous other things in addition to constantly be challenged. Something that many of us need to remember is that we also are at different learning levels, that we are not ready to learn the same things at the same time. Me and a few of my classmates had a meaningful discussion after our seminar one week where we discussed how we are at different learning stages, even at the university level. We discussed on how some people in our seminar group and lecture group might be ready to learn about social justice, respect, professionalism, the importance of stories, oppression, but that maybe some are not. Both of these situations are possible and nobody will hold where you stand against you. Everyone has a different background or living situation that influence their learning stage and engagement. Certain students might not even really know what they want to be doing in life, unsure if they want to be a teacher or not, and that is fine. I personally went through hair school, modern languages in college, translation in university before I even knew what really appealed to me. You need to try something at least once to see if you like it right? Things take time. This conversation permitted us to put ourselves in our peers’ shoes and to imagine different perspectives and different reasons why learning is very different from one individual to another. It was nice to see that everyone had something different to bring in the conversation, making many connections with all the amazing things we have learnt in ECS 210 this semester. All-inclusiveness, openness, critical thinking, justice, equity are elements that were touched during the exchange and it is really great to see our thinking and imagination blooming and shining through our conversations.

During his presentation on November 26th, Grant Urban put emphasis on how important our narrative curriculum is. Through our stories of personal experiences, people learn. If we all share our stories, the knowledge is immense. About a month ago, I commented on jordanlynnes Teaching Treaties and Disrupting Commonsense, in which he questioned the teaching of treaties and aboriginal content in Saskatchewan classrooms while pushing aside common sense. I shared with him that I was as well not introduced to treaties until my final years of high school in Quebec, and that we only brushed the subject, the focus being on the aboriginal peoples that were closer to our territories. In this short sample of my feedback, Jordan learnt that I attended high school in Quebec and that the content of our history lessons was completely different from the one taught in Saskatchewan. He might of also found out that the aboriginal groups that were established in Southern Ontario and Quebec were different from the ones that were found in the Plains. Furthermore, I informed him of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in British Columbia, where the devastating event of residential schools was brought and discussed to the daylight, where aboriginal people shared their stories with the thousands of teachers and students who attended the event. Many people attended this fantastic event, because people are curious and they want to learn, they want to be informed of all the horrible things the government was hiding in those places. The B.C. Teacher’s Federation also had in place a $100,000 program to help educators attend the presentation as we need to raise awareness of the many injustices that took place in the society and how it still impact the communities of today. Me and Jordan both agreed on the fact that “introducing aboriginal history or content in grade 11-12 is too late”, the content needs to be taught earlier on. If we are able to introduce our students to critical thinking, social justice issues as well as racial issues in grade 1, why is it not possible to introduce aboriginal content in the early years? The cultural diversity in our classroom will most likely be vast as many people have chosen to get established in Canada. Discovering the history of the land and all of its people is interesting, but discovering about other countries, cultures and languages can be amazing. If our students want to share, let them share and raise issues, this way they will learn and feel like they have also contributed to the learning of their peers, that it was not only “the teacher’s job”.

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This semester, I have been particularly fascinated by the online community, but specifically by Twitter and blogs, thanks to my amazing ECMP 355 class which I suggest every educator at the University of Regina should take. Even if you are not studying in Regina, he often travels places to give presentations and he is very interesting to listen to. In Teacher As Learned Practitioner by Jordan Grebinsky, she raises points about how teaching should not be a “comfortable” profession and that students should not be “comfortable” in the classroom, as many of them learn better when they are challenged and found in an uncomfortable situation. I told her : “There is no way that we know ‘enough’ as our profession consists of constantly learning about new things and growing upon situations that will shape us, and our teaching methods. As a teacher, it is important to get out there and also connect with the aid of social media, which allows the discovery of new techniques and knowledge from all around the world”. Educators have a dynamic profession. Every single day students bring content from their personal “backpack” in the classroom and raise questions that we might not have answers to. But what better way to learn than looking for those answers together and visualizing the many outcomes or possibilities one can come up with. I have grown a lot in the past couple weeks by connecting with amazing educators on Twitter, reading their blogs and others’, as well as watching some inspirational education TEDTalks. I would love if some people would take the time to make those important connections that allow us to share, grow, to collaborate with others, and this also gives an amazing example to the children. Take the time to connect, you will construct your own knowledge and it brings us a very gratifying feeling. I can recall many occasions during the semester where I have told some of my peers to try to connect on Twitter, “just to see” and I know that some of my colleagues read my posts from ECMP 355 that teaches them or gives them more information about how technology is a powerful educational tool.

Overall, I cannot be sure of the ways in which I have contributed to my peers learning, but I know I have tried and they greatly influenced my personal learning too. I always look forward to feedback from my instructors or classmates and the questions they raise in their comments. I keep writing because I can see that some of you are reading and this motivates me to share, even though I do not always think that the content is “good”. It is crucial to remember that information, as insignificant as it might seem, can teach a lot to somebody else. Remember, learn and reflect.


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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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The Headaches That Standardized Tests and Curriculums Can Cause

Standardized tests and curriculums are elements that have been the focus of many educational debates. Curriculums are made by the Ministries and authority figures, and are filled with standards that teachers and students need to meet in order to succeed on the standardized test, which is meant to measure the student’s capacity to retain the right information. These tests and curriculums send a message that if you do well, score high and have the right answer, then you are a good learner/teacher. This is wrong on so many levels for both educators and students. By having to meet standards and make sure that your students meet the test requirements, teachers are under constant stress and pressure. Knowing they will be evaluated on how well their students do, they will want to teach everything that could possibly be on the provincial test. To achieve this, they might have to follow a very strict schedule to ensure that everything that needs to be “learned” is taught and having little to no time for real learning, understanding and deep thinking. Under stress and pressure, educators might feel the need to have absolute control in the classroom and have a teacher-centric method, which rules out student-centric learning as well as transferring their stress to the student body, making the learning experience painful. Standardized tests and curriculums cause more harm than good, although some students are really good at memorizing information that will be on the test, allowing them to have high scores, but a poor understanding of the content. Teachers have a choice regarding what they want to teach in the classroom, but there is always the big test in the back of their minds that they need to prepare their students for and they need to adapt their content for it. “If the students score low, then the teacher is not doing their job properly” is probably what a lot of people in society think today. I firmly believe that, in most situations, those teacher consciously choose to drift away from the standards to prioritize actual learning, understanding and critical thinking of the students. 

Having lived in a province where I had to take standardized provincial tests, I can assure you that it is a very stressful experience, because if you do not have the right answer, you fail, you feel like a failure and you do not get to go to the next grade. It is not how I want my students to feel and I still do not completely understand why Ministries and governments think that standardization is the way to go. I’d love to know more about your experiences with standardized testing and curriculums and how it makes you feel. Please share!