Summary of Learning Presentation

Here it is guys! Thanks for being wonderful classmates all semester long.

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Social Activism Online

Can social activism be meaningful and worthwhile online? Yes, it can. There is a concern that internet activism is creating a generation of lazy, good-for-nothing re-bloggers and re-tweeters who will do nothing more than click a button. I will not argue against that fact because it is true. There are plenty of instances in which the modern brain has tricked internet-goers that re-tweeting #blacklivesmatter is the same as actually doing something about the systemic racism and inequality that society faces today. However, the modern brain is not entirely wrong, either.

By re-tweeting and sharing movements, you are doing something. Granted, you could do more, and you should do more, but by tweeting and spreading the news, people will do more. By sharing and spreading these stories, people increase the involvement and population of the movement. By creating an online community that supports whichever movement it may be, it will extend the lifespan of the movement by keeping its followers up to date with any new information on the matter. Internet activism spreads information across the entire world. Therefore, millions more people can become involved. Compare it to the past:

Did information get immediately cast across the world through articles in a newspaper? Did delivery boys teleport across the world to get a letter to somebody? You know the answer to that. While it was not impossible to spread such information, it could take way too long for the information to spread, and it could easily be silenced. Letters burned, journalists fired, all sorts of things could prevent social justice movements from happening. With the internet however, it is nearly impossible to prevent the outburst of information. Even if an article is taken down, millions of people had the opportunity to respond to it, or take a screenshot to store the information for themselves. People cannot be effectively silenced on the internet, which means social activism has its place on the internet.

People take action when injustice has taken place to promote change in order to correct the injustice. Silencing the people is what prevented social activism. The internet considerably makes that less of a problem.

So yes, there is #slacktivism happening, but those who complain about it may guilt or spur any number of people into serious action because deep down they know that merely re-tweeting something about #feedthestarving or #blacklivesmatter doesn’t actually solve the problem.

Social activism and the internet get along great. It makes many things possible which haven’t been possible before. It gets more people involved, and it extends the lifetime of movements.

Online activism is more than worth it. 

My Favourite Show Used to be Code Lyoko

I’ve done the show a disservice.

I just tried to up my code game by frantically trying to code a mini scene in Scratch. It is a really cute website designed to get kids hooked on coding, but I must say; it is for all ages. I had a lot of fun doing the tutorial, trying out some games, and then trying to create on myself. It was honestly more difficult than I had imagined, and I learned that I knew nothing about coding. Here is the video evidence:

I had fun though; you can hear me giggling whenever something went wrong.

Serious thought though: Why do we not teach more coding to our students as a mandatory practice? The exercise it gives your brain is fantastic. You’re forced to think about cause and effect in a way that immediately takes effect as you’re doing it. It helps students become more familiar with thinking about their actions and their words. Also, it is a practical skill to have regardless. Our western culture is entirely dominated by technology yet we know so little about how it works or why it works. Teaching more students coding like this may help create young and innovative inventors. Teaching coding in such a way may help more women and young girls get into coding. The website does not market coding in any way to one particular gender; it is open to all!

This is a short post, but long story short: more teachers should teach their students coding, and the website Scratch is a great resource to implement such lessons into your classrooms.

Thanks for checking in!

Making Realistic Characters

In light of my previous post, I’ve done some research on how to make and draw characters that are more believable. The first link that I investigated immediately gave me a lot of insight:

Time to Collect Yo’self and Make Yo’self

For my art class we have a month to complete our final project. As always, I like to tie my art class into my learning project because I have to really push myself to be better and to try new things. Without naming any names, I’ve noticed a few people in my art experience fail as artists because they refuse to draw anything with character, and they refuse to draw anything new. They draw what they “think is cool,” but fail to realize that every decision the artist makes is fully up to them.

Every decision an artist makes must not be without purpose.

I thought I was working away from this; I was trying to make every decision count in every piece. It started with my keys drawing from this post. I was putting so much thought into every little object and colour choice, and although I was not happy with the end result, I feel as though I succeeded in taking control over my art work. I pushed myself until my brain hurt and I wanted to cry, and the result turned out better than I expected.

However, when I started my final project, I was stumped. This is what I first began with:

IMG_7336Done on Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Bamboo Tablet!

I watched multiple YouTube tutorials but I’m posting my favourite below:

CRITIQUE TIME!

I find that watching a YouTube tutorial like the one above is the best method for me to learn how to draw. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. I’ve noticed over the past few years that the best way to get me to learn something immediately is if the person in charge of teaching me thinks out loud. This way, I understand the process and the mindset and what to look for in order to do whatever it is that I am learning to do. I need mental checklists and guidelines, then I replicate what my tutor has done, do it a few more times, then I know I’ve learned it when I can do it on my own. However, this can be excruciatingly painful for some people to do.

When I was little, I quite piano lessons and asked my dad to teach me how to play songs by ear. I learned, but I had to have my dad sit and show me how to play each song note by individual note, and it would take hours. Granted, my father had the patience of a saint with me, so it was possible, but not everybody wants to set aside three hours to grind out a lesson with me until I get it wholly. The next best possible replacement is to watch a YouTube tutorial that essentially does the same thing.

The difference is this: I can pause, stop, and repeat as many times as I would like, and in doing so I do not feel guilty about asking somebody to dedicate so much time to me. What I’m trying to say is that YouTube tutorials and incredibly detailed books accounting for the thought process is the best way for me to learn. For the rest of my learning project I’m going to try to continue to use the book I bought at the beginning of the semester and watch YouTube tutorials so that I can learn on my own time.

However, that is not all that I have to say!

While working on my triptych I just had the image of the blonde woman (I’ve named her Fate, stay tuned to find out why), but there is hardly anything that sets her apart. There are a few interesting things to take note of, like her bare feet, the rosary, the pose itself, but other than that, her actual physical body is nothing out of the ordinary. She fits into the cookie cutter shape of every character I’ve ever drawn. When I came to realize this it saddened me because the whole point of my learning project was to learn how to draw more dynamic but also diverse characters. This means I have some more research to do. I don’t actually know how to create a diverse character, so I feel like some research into this matter would go a long way.

That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in!

Differentiating Instruction w/ Screencastify

Yes, that was a long title, but bare with me here.

I chose to review Screencastify, as it is a tool that I have invested myself in for the purpose of my learning project this semester. I’ve already mentioned it in this post in which I used the tool to record my work on a digital drawing of mine.

Overview: Some basic information

It is a chrome extension that allows users to record everything that is happening on their screens at the time. It connects to your mic as well, so you can provide spoken instruction in conjunction with the recording. It has a free version available, but there are obvious limitations. On the download page it says, “The free Lite version limits recording time to 10 minutes per video, has a watermark, 50 videos per month, and has certain features turned off like mp4 export and editing tools.” 

The paid-for version has no limitations. Personally, I think this tool is worth spending the $20-30 on, because I know it will be something that I plan on using extensively as both an educator and an artist.

Pros & Cons

Pros: This extension is really simple to use. It appears as an icon at the top-right of your browser and if you have the full version, it organizes and saves all of your videos and has them up for easy access through the chrome tab/extension. It is easy to edit the length of your video, crop it, save it, and share it, as the app provides all of these services at the click of a button. Another benefit is that the program allows you to annotate what is on your screen, giving you the benefit of underlining or highlighting specific items.

Story time! Here’s another example of how I used the app:

I had my friend record a presentation I did on my mom’s art, and the video was too big to email or send through Facebook messenger. I had her post it to her Facebook page with tight privacy settings so I was the only one who could view the post. Now, I wanted to save it so I could send it to my mom and for whatever reason I couldn’t get Facebook to let me download the video, so instead I just used screencastify to record the entire video. Now I have it saved to my google drive and I can send it to my mom, who can also download the video and actually view it. Neat!

Cons: If you don’t pay for the full app, its not really that great. Ten minutes recording time may be well enough for short little tutorials, but can really limit your opportunities in regards to what you want to share. Another con: The app claims to be “pixel perfect” but in my case I found that it really wasn’t as clear/focused as I was expecting it to be. There is a tiny chance that I am doing something wrong, but the app has such a simple interface that I’m fairly sure I’ve explored all possible solutions to my pixel problem. However, its not bad. Its just not excellent. There are definitely apps out there that could record a clearer picture, but there are not nearly as many screen-recording apps that make it so easy to use, crop, and share.

Why Teachers Need This Tool

You will be doing all of your students a huge favour by using this. If there is ever some kind of visual instruction that students miss due to illness, skipping, etc., you can record the same lesson without losing any of your presentation notes and the like, while making sure students who were not there that day still get all of the information.

Another benefit is that anyone can watch it. If you record yourself doing anything informative really, you never know who could benefit from your tutorial. It is worth it to upload your videos to YouTube, because chances are, another educator could use the video you’ve made.

Another benefit: Students can re-watch it as many times as they want. Some students can remember what the teacher said after the first time it was said, but most students need to hear it twice, or more. With screencastify, you can upload the video to YouTube, email it out, whatever works, and students can watch it repeatedly until they get the lesson at hand. This has many benefits for students of all levels and capabilities. This can be especially effective for students with auditory-learning disorders. Some students that you will encounter throughout your years will have real difficulties processing information that is heard. The information must be accompanied with notes or images for the student to look at later. With screencastify, they will get more than just notes or images. They get the best of both worlds combined, working together to create a solid learning tool that benefits nearly all students.

Another benefit: When differentiating your instruction in this way, it also does not single out any one student. Sometimes when differentiating our instruction, we struggle to find a way to do so in which the student is not singled out, embarrassed, or made to look like they are any “lesser” than students who may not necessarily depend on these extra resources. With this tool, teachers can make it mandatory to watch it once for homework (have you ever heard of a flipped classroom?) but it is up to the students if they need to watch it more than once. Another thing: their peers will have no idea who watched it multiple times to get it. It allows for privacy, in a way.

Another benefit: You can annotate your recordings in a way that highlights exactly what students or viewers should be focusing on. This allows for more precise tutorials, because it adds another layer/style of learning: text. If you annotate your videos, you are providing three different ways all at once for your students to process this information. They will be viewing, listening, and reading. And, hey! That’s three strands of the English curriculum! (See pages 28 and 32 of this ELA 9 Curriculum document to check out what I’m talking about.)

 Overall Rating:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which is equivalent to, I think, 8 out of 10. 

It’s pretty great, and I highly recommend that educators use this tool to benefit their students.

Thanks for reading!

Most People Miss the Point of PowerPoint

When I was in elementary school, nobody ever used PowerPoint. What even was it, anyways? All presentations were done with poster boards, cue cards, and shaking hands gripping a piece of paper that had all of your presentation notes on it. When I entered high school, PPT presentations became more popular because teachers got sick of listening to the same report on the same topic when they knew we all copied the same information from the same site. The only saving grace for these teachers was a unique PPT presentation that had visuals for them to sadly stare at as yet another student cites Wikipedia as a source. PowerPoint Slides are not necessary to create a presentation, yet teachers so often expect their students to use this tool (or something similar) when they do. Why?

According to this document, which ironically is a slide-sharing tool as well, it lists some reasons as to why PPTs can be fantastic:

  • It keeps the presenter organized
  • They present the information in a neat and organized manner
  • Slides can be printed out ahead of time

These seem like legitimate reasons to appreciate a PPT, but there is nothing saying that students can’t do those exact same things with a handout that they wrote out themselves. HELLO! Students can scan their notes and print off copies of it, too!

Teachers making their students dependent on PPT is my greatest pet peeve. There is a misconception that if students use PPT their presentations will become magically more organized and interesting, but this is not true. Students often copy and paste text, read the text off of the slides, and everybody watching the presentation will be furiously copying down the information off of the slides because they have nothing better to do. There is no point to a presentation of this style. There is no power. There is no point. You couldn’t even call it a PowerPoint at this point.

The essence of presenting is to display and dish out information in unique and amusing ways. Students will not touch Microsoft PowerPoint and magically know how to present.

 

Teachers, you still have to teach students how to present. PowerPoint will not do it for you.

You have to supplement the PPT with discussion and visuals. In my online class, we did an entire class period using PPT slides, but for every topic there was some form of discussion or train of thought that went with the slide. We would open up a web page to check out the subject, or we would watch a video, and so on. We did more than just sit and painfully absorb mountains of text that were blandly presented in bland ways. This is effective.

There is a reason there is a page full of PowerPoint Presentation memes, and that is because they can suck pretty hard when the presenter doesn’t know how to use it. Such as reading every single word from every single text-filled slide. This is not effective.

Teachers should still create a mini unit or lesson on effective presenting skills. Teach students how to keep their cool. Teach them how to summarize and narrow their topics down into easily consumed bullet points. Teach them how to upload images and gifs to the slides so that they can include some visuals to make the PowerPoint unique. One more thing– PowerPoint (Or prezi or google slides) can be incredibly fun to use. Teachers need to show students that and demonstrate the many effective uses of the tool so that students are not floundering around trying to make a presentation without actually knowing what they are doing.

Here is a Google Slides Presentation I did on one of my favourite artists. It was kooky and interesting, and had shocking photographs/memes in it to grab my classmates’ attention. I got a great mark on that assignment, because I did not read off of the slide. In fact, I hardly even looked at it, because I still knew my presentation and my content off by heart.

My point is that PowerPoint can be an excellent tool, but this does not mean it makes any presentation great. You, as the educator, still need to model, demonstrate and teach how to use the tool. Do not assume that because students are growing up in the digital age that they know how to use the tool perfectly. They may, but most likely they may not. They may know how to navigate YouTube better than you, but this does not mean they have foundational knowledge of presentation skills. Technology is not the teacher; you are.