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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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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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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Clipping, Saving, Reading and Sharing with Evernote

I was introduced to Evernote for the first time in my ECMP355 class and I could tell that my teacher really enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a try. Indeed, Evernote is awesome! With this program, you can clip web pages, pictures, articles or just text that you want from a page, and organize it in different notebooks. Clip now, read and organize later. I find it is a great tool when I am doing research for a paper, as I can do all my research first and find information, then go through the information I gathered and select the ones I really want to use for my project at the time. I have also downloaded the Evernote Web Clipper for Google Chrome, which allows me to clip on the little elephant icon and pops up the clipping menu.
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With the Web Clipper I can save an article, a simplified article, the full web page, bookmark a web page or a screenshot of the page. There are tools that also allow me to “doodle” or highlight directly on the document I am clipping, so that when I am reading over it again in Evernote, I can easily find what I was previously looking at.
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I can crop, zoom in, zoom out, tag, anything I could not really do with a simple paper notebook. The Web Clipper also gives you the option to share whatever you are clipping on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or by email, as it provides you with a URL you can simply copy and paste. When you open your “note” in the program, the information tab gives you the date the note was created/retrieved, the URL, the size, as well as the location (if you have the app turned on). You can therefore clip now and read later, which is very useful for individuals who love to multitask, people who are organized/disorganized, it really is good for everyone to use.
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I highly recommend it for all types of learners as it is a free program and browser “widget” and you can also download the free app on your smart phone. The information from your account will sync with all your devices (laptop, web clipper, smart phone) which allows you to gather information on the go and to always have the data you need at the tip of your finger, literally. On the smart phone app, you can add reminders and sync information with your calendar. I imagine you can do the same with the computer program, but I have yet to try it. Evernote also gives you the freedom to snap pictures or take audio notes and save them on the program as well, although I have not tried it yet, it might be something I would consider using for outdoor or home projects that require more “hands on” than written information (this could be useful for those who are doing artsy learning projects #ecmp355). Overall, I believe Evernote is a great platform to keep organized and have everything you might need all in the same place! 🙂
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Google Docs & Sharing

As I was sitting quietly in the residence building this morning, I was browsing through numerous blogs and looking at what was happening on Twitter. At the top of my feed was the following Tweet from @shareski :

I did not know what the document would be about when I clicked on the link, but I soon found that the document was named “Thoughts on Innovation” and in the document was about 4 questions where people could post links and add their Twitter name at the end for contribution recognition. Within the first minutes, I watched anonymous animals type down links underneath the questions, and good ones too! I am once again *wowed* by Google Docs and the endless possibilities that can come from it. If you have many Twitter followers or Blog followers and are looking for ideas for a presentation or a lesson, Tweet a link to your Google Docs and everybody who follows you and feels like contributing will take the time to look at your document and help you out. Ideas from all around the world in the SAME document for you to use as a learning tool; amazing. This could very well be something I would do in the future if I needed more ideas or some inspiration to get the little hamster in my head to start turning the wheel. I have used Google Docs for the first time with a group last week and I loved how easy it was for all of us to work on the same document/project even though we were not necessarily together. So if you have tried Google Docs before and you are not a big fan, I suggest you try again and consider the many outcomes. If you have not tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

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Experimenting with Piktochart

Today in class, we had the opportunity to experiment with an application that allows you to present information, graphics and data in an interesting way. In order to do that, we used Piktochart, a free online platform that offers you different themes you can play around with, many icons, images and backgrounds that will help you making a visually appealing presentation. You can sign up for free or sign in with your Facebook or Google+ account. I chose to use a template that was already made and I changed the colours to colours I liked, switched some icons (the console, pc and smartphone ones) and I entered my own data in the chart (yes, you can put whatever you like in there). As I am part of the “female gamer population”, I chose to compare the percentage of women and men who played video games and threw in some facts. I was very surprised that the female gaming population is so high and that many women who play video games are over the age of 18. Please try out this new and fun way to present your data in the classroom, as you can personalize it as much as you like with the free version! Rose Gamers


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Should “kids” really Ask.fm?

After reading a couple articles about the frightening facts of Ask.fm and teens committing suicide because of Ask.fm, I am wondering if this platform is really worth using. Ask.fm is an anonymous platform, where people can ask each other questions about themselves and respond to the questions, without ever revealing who is who. Although this platform is intended for people to interact in a “common sense” way, many teens seen this Ask.fm phenomena as another social tool that permits them to bully others anonymously.
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I was blown away when I found out that some teens used it to bully themselves. Wait, what? Yes, teens will log in anonymously and bully themselves, and then respond to this bullying with their own account. I can see this platform being a problem for all types of individuals, and I am very surprised that people will harm their very own person, but this is nothing new. Ask.fm is only available for people above the age of 13 (as well as Twitter and Facebook), but I am certain it is a program that is easy to access, and someone has to show the proper online behaviour to these kids that navigate the internet and use social medias. Wether it is a teacher, a parent, a guardian, whoever is present around a child that uses social media, has the opportunity and responsibility to raise awareness about the online community.

“If you would not show this to your grandma or your family, do not post it”, it is not because we are behind screens that we are invisible. Wether the words are spoken or typed, they have an impact, and they can be harmful. If a teen is being bullied on social media, mental support should be available to help them out, and there is always the option of deleting an account. But remember, everything you post online leaves a digital print, it never really disappears. So think twice, no think three times before you post something. It could be harmful and you could regret it in the future.
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