EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Networked Learning – Contributing to the Learning of Others

One of the aspects of EDTC 300 that I most appreciated was the opportunity to connect with my classmates, other education students, lots of professional educators, and so many others in the education community. All of these connections I made have helped me build a professional learning network (PLN) that I hope to maintain for years to come. At the same time that I have been building my PLN, I have had the opportunity to contribute to the learning of my classmates by commenting on their weekly blog posts and Twitter posts, tweeting articles and resources I have found through Feedly or others I follow on Twitter, and answering questions/connecting using Slack. I have also begun collecting educational resources that I or my classmates have found and placing them in a Resources tab on my eportfolio that anyone and everyone is welcome to use. Besides these regular online connections, I was also able to connect every week on Zoom during our weekly class. I really appreciated the breakout rooms we were put in each week and the opportunities to connect in smaller groups to discuss various issues and topics. Here is a summary of ways I contributed to the learning of my classmates through each of these platforms.

Slack

Slack was a useful tool for connecting one-on-one with my classmates and with Katia when I had technical issues or questions. I shared some resources on Slack closer to the beginning of the semester. As the semester went on, I found Twitter a better platform for sharing resources because I’m on Twitter daily and I can connect with a larger and more diverse group in my PLN. But I really liked Slack for engaging with individual classmates, especially when it came time for group assignments and finding partners.


Twitter

For me, Twitter was the most effective way to connect with classmates and the education community on a regular basis. Always using the hashtag #EDTC300, I contributed to the learning of others on Twitter by:

  1. Tweeting resources and articles that I found using Feedly
  2. Commenting on classmates’ tweets with encouraging words or appreciation for resources they shared
  3. Retweeting interesting/useful/heartwarming/funny/inspiring tweets from users that I follow
  4. Tweeting my own personal experiences/learnings/questions/thoughts/feelings 

I connected using Twitter at least twice per day everyday, and often more than that. Here is a screencast of all of my tweets and replies to the #EDTC300 hashtag this semester.

These are some examples of specific tweets highlighting the contributions I made as per the list above:





Twitter Chats

In addition to daily interactions on Twitter, I participated in two Twitter Chats. To be honest, I would have liked to have participated in more, but finding the time was very challenging for me. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the two that I did have the chance to participate in. I made so many connections during these chats and was able to grow my PLN substantially because of them. The second chat I took part in I found to be really good for me psychologically because it was right after my pre-internship was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I was feeling very uneasy and unsettled. Hearing that so many others were feeling the same way was comforting. I think I offered some good insight during that Twitter chat as well.



Blog Comments

Everyday I would open the Voices of EDTC300 webpage and read one of the most recent blog posts for that day. I was always so impressed by the quality of the posts my classmates put on their blogs. I tried to always tell them what I enjoyed about their post as well as how I personally related to something they had mentioned in their post. I learned a lot from my classmates through their learning project journeys and weekly blog responses. I tried to encourage them and leave positive feedback. I always felt very lifted up when I received positive comments on my posts on my blog and wanted to do the same for my classmates. This is a video summary of all of the comments I left for my classmates on their blog posts this semester.


Resources Page

Throughout the semester I shared and collected educational resources that I saw on Twitter or found through Feedly. I collected these resources not only for my own future use, but to share with my classmates or anyone else who would like to use them. I posted these resources on the Resources tab of my eportfolio.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my education degree, and especially during this class, it’s how much we can learn from each other and grow as teachers if everyone is willing to share what they’ve learned and lift each other up. This has been one of the most motivating and positive classes I’ve taken and I have my classmates and Katia Hildebrandt to thank for that. I hope I was able to contribute to the learnings of my classmates as much as they’ve contributed to mine. Thank you to everyone in EDTC300!

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Crab-tivating Coding

I attempted to use Scratch to code some crabs (called sprites in Scratch) moving back and forth across a beach. I had an image in my head of what I wanted them to do so kept coding until I got them to the point I envisioned. This is a quick summary of what went into coding the two crabs moving back and forth on the beach.

I started by just coding one crab moving to another specified spot along the x axis while keeping the y axis the same (to show it moving in a straight horizontal line). I added some sound with the movement and then a word bubble. After I figured out how to get it to move from one spot to another, I added some more code to have it keep moving along that x axis across the beach. It took me a while (not to mention a lot of code) to get the crab to move all the way from one side to the other and then back again. I was surprised how much code it takes to make such a small movement. But I guess it makes sense as the computer will only do exactly what you tell it to do.

Once I accomplished that, I decided I wanted to add another crab. To do this, I had to duplicate the first crab by right-clicking on the crab sprite and clicking “duplicate”. This created another crab with the exact same code. I wanted this crab to be located at a different spot on the screen, so I had to go through each motion code block of the duplicated code and change the y axis so the second crab would be “higher” up on the background. I also wanted this second crab to start at a different spot than the first one so they weren’t in unison. To accomplish this, I had to rearrange the code a bit so that crab #2 started at a different spot along the x axis.

Here is a bit more detail about my code:

I learned a lot about how to use Scratch as far as adding code and duplicating sprites. One of the biggest lessons I learned during coding, is that it would be way quicker and easier to perfect one sequence of code before trying to replicate it. For example, in my code, I should have figured out exactly what I wanted the crabs to do each time they moved before duplicating blocks of code. I did things the hard way and decided to add the “pop” sound after I had already coded everything, so I had to insert that block over and over after each movement. Another big takeaway from this exercise is that when it comes to coding, you have to think in as simple and uncomplicated steps as possible. You have to remember that the computer is incapable of guessing your intentions so if you forget one little command in the code, the computer can’t fill in those blanks (like a word processor would). Feel free to try my program and/or manipulate the code.

I think Scratch is an amazing program with so many capabilities. I know I just “scratched” the surface of what a person could do on it. I think that it is something where the more you use it, the easier it becomes. I’m sure there are ways to save blocks of common code that you could reuse for new projects so you don’t have to start from “scratch” every time. I didn’t do a ton of exploring as far as the different sprites and backgrounds available, but I know there are lots there. 

From an educator’s perspective, I think Scratch and other similar coding programs are invaluable when it comes to their benefits for kids. At one time, this sort of technology was only available to actual computer programmers. But with free online versions, such as Scratch, available to anyone, everyone can try their hand at coding programs. Other programs such as Hour of Code are perfect for younger grades and provide the scaffolding necessary to work their way up to more advanced programs like Scratch. 

The benefits of coding are explained succinctly in the article 5 Reasons Why Coding is Important for Young Minds but to summarize, coding is beneficial for:

Learning another language

Fostering Creativity

Helping with math skills

Improving writing academic performance

Helping children become confident problem solvers

The skills that are developed while coding are so unique and help kids think in completely new ways. Coding is similar to composing music and they share a lot of benefits. I noticed that writing my code and running the final program reminded me of composing and playing a piece of music. 

Besides all of these benefits, coding is fun! What kid doesn’t love playing computer games?

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Science Education and Digital Literacy

As a future high school biology/science teacher, it will be extremely important for me to help students develop digital literacy skills. Technology and science go hand-in-hand so having a solid foundation of digital literacy will serve students well in their science classes. Students in any class will naturally come from a diverse range of backgrounds and belief systems, often adopted or passed along from their parents. As Camila Domonoske points out in It’s Easier to Call a Fact a Fact When it’s One You Like, people are more likely to believe an opinion statement if it aligns with their political beliefs. The same is true for kids and the beliefs they are exposed to in their homes. Students often mirror the opinions they hear from their parents and when students’ parents don’t have digital literacy skills, it’s important to help students understand why they need to develop those skills.

To help students understand how to become digitally literate and stop the spread of fake news, I would start by having students practice looking critically at where they are getting scientific information from. Everytime they find a source of science information or news, they should be asking themselves lots of questions such as:

Who funds/runs the site?

What do other reputable sources have to say about the site/source?

Does the information sound correct or outlandish/extreme?

Why is this information considered important?

Who is being privileged by this information?

Who is being silenced by this information?

The TedEd video How to Choose Your News offers a few more suggestions on how students can critically consider the legitimacy of information. One fantastic suggestion is instead of using the article that interprets scientific results, students could use the actual original material or data. The video also suggests reading coverage from many different outlets or sources instead of just relying on one. And one suggestion that I think might be most important when it comes to digital literacy is teaching students to verify news before spreading it.

I would also introduce students to concepts such as clickbait and pseudoscience that “fake news” sites use to manipulate readers. Media Literacy for Citizenship includes these types of misleading news in their 10 Types of Misleading News graphic. Science students should be well aware of the pseudoscience fake news that spreads like wildfire, especially when it comes to hot topics such as vaccinations and climate change. An example of a pseudoscience website, that even Facebook has banned, is Natural News. Sites like this spread misinformation and conspiracy theories that some students may believe and share on social media.

Data analysis images such as graphs are a big part of science and interpreting scientific information. Teaching students how to properly read graphs is an important skill as science students. It is quite surprising how misleading graphs can be when not read correctly. The TedEd video How to Spot a Misleading Graph does a great job of explaining how graphs can be misleading and sources of misinformation.

Using digital tools such as blogs and online forums to research, interpret, and express scientific information can intersect with the NCTE framework by encouraging development of writing and discussion skills. There are a multitude of technology education tools that can help students make connections between social and physical sciences while increasing both language arts and digital literacies. These are not exclusive of one another.

The Saskatchewan Science 10, Health Science 20, Environmental Science 20, and Biology 30 curriculums (and others, I’m sure) state that “[t]echnology should be used to support learning in science when it is pedagogically appropriate; makes scientific views more accessible; and, helps students to engage in learning that otherwise would not be possible”. The curriculums discuss how technology should be used to support student inquiry but must also be “based on sound pedagogical practices”. The inclusion of digital literacy with science education in the curriculum is a clear indicator that science teachers need to know not only how to incorporate technology into the science classroom, but how to teach students to be responsible digital citizens through digital literacy and the ability to spot fake news.

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Cyber-Sleuthing Saturday

I have spent the past few days digging up all the dirt that I could on Brooke. I found her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, Prezi, SnapChat and of course her blog/website

It was fairly easy to find Brooke on these social media / websites by just doing a Google search of her name. In fact, the first page of the Google search brought up each of the sites listed above.

The information Brooke has shared on these websites informed me where Brooke is from, her physical appearance, some of her likes and hobbies, and the musical instruments she plays. Based on what I saw on these sites, I would assume Brooke is responsible, friendly, a loyal friend (the same group of friends were featured multiple times), and that Brooke loves her family a lot. She appears to have been very involved in her school and is creatively inclined. It is also very obvious that Brooke is looking forward to being a teacher. I would definitely trust Brooke and, after doing an online search of Brooke, would not hesitate for a second to hire her. 

Doing this activity helped me understand how much one can glean about a person based on their digital identity. I don’t think Brooke uses social media in anything but responsible ways, but I was able to find out quite a bit about her. 

While searching Brooke’s profiles, I began to reflect on my own digital identity. I don’t spend a ton of time on social media as I legitimately don’t have the time to be on my phone. I also have made an effort to limit my personal screen time. I’m totally okay with not being super visible online as I grew up in a time without smartphones and social media so it is not something that has been ingrained in me as important or even all that necessary. I have become a lot more active on Twitter since starting my education degree and a lot less active on Facebook. Facebook has always been where I shared personal information (to a lesser extent as I’ve gotten older) but since starting school I’ve been more inclined to avoid “rocking the boat” and share less about myself. I have a lot of strong opinions when it comes to political or environmental issues but I really do not like arguing with Facebook “friends” about these opinions and so have opted to just not share them. 

I could definitely relate to Nicole Lee’s article regarding having multiple online identities. Although I have never had multiple identities on any one social media site (i.e., two Facebook profiles, two Twitter handles, etc.), I do have different identities from Facebook to Twitter (the two social media sites I use the most). As mentioned earlier, Facebook is private and my Facebook friends are people in my private life. Twitter is where I am building my PLN and so 99% of my followers on there are in my school/professional sphere. I agree with boyd in Lee’s article that “[d]ifferent events involve different segments of your network and involve different protocols and behaviors. The same is true online.” I have no problem keeping these parts of my life separate, because as mentioned earlier, I don’t place a lot of importance on my digital identity. As I build my PLN on Twitter, I anticipate the importance I place on my digital identity will change.

I briefly touched on why I don’t like debating online when it comes to my personal opinions. As Ted Ronson mentions in his TedTalk, women have it much worse online than men. As he states, “ when a woman gets shamed, it’s ‘I’m going to get you fired and raped and cut out your uterus’”. This is pretty extreme and I have never received any sort of backlash even close to this, but I do believe that women are treated way worse online than men are. Thus I would rather avoid the day-ruining comments and replies that I have gotten in the past from people I hardly/don’t know. An example of this just recently happened to me. I replied to an RCMP tweet on Flag Day mentioning the importance of remembering First Nations peoples for whom the Canadian flag means something completely different than us settler-descendents. Immediately I began receiving replies full of racism and bigotry. Even though these comments were from people I don’t know and will never meet, it still really bothered me to the point where I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I eventually deleted the tweet as I didn’t want to attract anymore negativity to my day. Some people really enjoy this sort of online debate, but I’m far too sensitive and internalize a lot of it so it’s just way healthier for me to avoid even starting anything.

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Talkin’ YouTube

Grace and I had the following conversation this week where Grace was acting as the teacher and I was acting as a concerned parent. In this scenario, I was worried about my daughter being featured in a YouTube video for a social studies project. As the parent, my biggest concern was regarding safety and control over who could watch the video. Grace outlined the security settings on the video and that anytime students had access to it, they would be monitored very closely. Grace explained to me why it is important for students to be exposed to technology such as this and linked it to teaching them about digital citizenship. She also provided a link to the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document.

Although my sensationalist comments about perverts getting off on watching little kids on YouTube seem extreme and are obviously exaggerated for the purposes of this assignment, as a parent myself, it is not all based in fiction. My husband and I have restricted our children’s exposure on YouTube for reasons similar to these. Although we would never not allow them to be visible on a school YouTube video, when it comes to their friends’ YouTube channels, we have maintained a pretty strict policy. We do not have control over the security settings that other children may or may not have set on their channels. Although we completely trust that their parents are monitoring their YouTube activity, we’d much rather be safe than sorry when it comes to our own childrens’ online safety. I think it’s important for both teachers and parents to be diligent about online safety. As long as the proper protocols are followed and security settings are all in place, there is no reason that teachers can’t use technology, such as YouTube, in the classroom.

EDTC 300, Learning Project, Weekly Blog

Learning Project: Shape 6

I “Rose” to the Occasion

As promised, this week I ventured away from the animal kingdom and looked for a good origami flower video to try. I thought I’d try a different approach this week and went onto Pinterest and did a search for flower origami. As per usual, Pinterest did not disappoint and there was a plethora of projects that popped up. Most looked way beyond my ability level but I found a couple that I thought I could handle. Unfortunately they did not include video instructions (which apparently is key for me) and instead just had step by step photos. I won’t get into it too much but here are my failed flower attempts.

Back to good old reliable YouTube. I found a flower video that I thought looked much more manageable by YouTube user Ventuno Art. This was by far the most aesthetically pleasing origami video I’ve seen yet. The video itself has an almost nostalgic feel to it with a beautiful piano melody playing. It’s like watching a music video. The video went through the steps pretty quickly so I had to pause a lot during it, but any shortcomings in instructional quality is made up by the cinematography of the whole thing. The music really is beautiful!

To document this week’s shape, I was tasked with using an app or tool that I had not used before. I don’t even know where to start with this task. This turned into a three-hour long wild goose chase. I have a Chromebook so I did Google search after Google search trying to find a good (free) video editor for Chromebooks. I must have downloaded and deleted about five different apps. Every time I tried one, it either required a paid subscription in order to have any useful capabilities (even though it was advertised as free) or it just wouldn’t work. I don’t know if it’s my inexperience showing or what, but I was getting frustrated to no end. I also have a Windows-based desktop PC so I thought it might work better to try a Windows-based app. I found one called VideoScribe that uses photos instead of video. This app “draws” your photos for you that you can put together into a video. You can set it to music and even add text. It was getting a bit late in the day (on a Saturday night no less) and I was getting pretty tired so I’ll be honest, I didn’t explore this app as thoroughly as I would have liked to. The way it works is you import your images into the app.

There are different options for how you want your picture to appear. They can slide in from the side or appear to be drawn. I chose “draw” for all of my pictures.

For each picture you can change how you want it to appear, how long it stays, and how it transitions to the next picture. These changes can be made when you import the photo or there’s a quick option to make these changes.

At any time you can also rearrange the order of photos.

Overall I thought this was a very user-friendly app. It had a lot of stock music options to choose from (although I wish I could have found that beautiful piano melody from the flower YouTube video) and it was very easy to export for me to share. I didn’t explore the text option but from what I can tell there is an option to add text to each photo as well. I would recommend this app to anyone looking for this sort of capability. The biggest downfall is you have to pay for the app in order to remove the watermark and use this app for more than a week. I downloaded the trial version and only have it for one week. Here is my final result.

As you can see from the video, I ended up making three of these flowers. Each flower is folded from five different pieces of paper. Needless to say I had become extremely proficient at folding the petals by the time I got to the fifteenth petal. In my first Learning Project post I had mentioned I wanted to work my way to a multi-piece project so I’m happy to say I’ve achieved that goal. 

If anyone has any suggestions for good (free) Chromebook video editing software (that actually works), I would love to hear from you!

Oh and as an aside, because this was the day after Valentine’s Day, I tried folding a heart which I think is super cute. These little cuties might be popping up around the house, in my kids’ lunch boxes, in birthday cards, in the envelopes when I pay my bills…

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

All A’Flitter for A’Twitter

I had been using Twitter for a few years before starting this class. I think up until joining #edtc300 I had about five followers. I went months in between sending any tweets and my activity mainly consisted of liking or retweeting other tweets. Mostly it was a place for me to get quick local and international news (@cnn) as well as see cute dogs (@dog_rates) or cats (@bodegacats) or have a laugh (@signsfun). I mostly used Facebook (although sparingly) if I was going to post any typical social media content. Now that I’ve begun forming my PLC, I’ve been surprised multiple times by how quick and easy it is to find relevant Twitter users to follow. It doesn’t take much to fall into a rabbit hole of following one user after another after another. I have found new podcasts, professional development resources, learning strategies, and assessment ideas – not to mention many, many #edtech ideas – that have become such fantastic resources for me as a student and a future educator. One thing that I really like about Twitter over most other social media platforms is it seems to be more about sharing information and less about the politics and privacy issues that other platforms (**clears throat) experience. I like that the most recent Tweets show up at the top of the feed instead of Twitter somehow deciding what it thinks I want to see (**clears throat again). 

I’m really not sure if I would use Twitter in the classroom with my students. I definitely will continue to use it to build my PLN and for all of the reasons I mentioned above, but I think I would rather keep my students separate from it. That being said, I might post pics of classroom activities and experiences (with consent of course), but I don’t think I would have my students sign up for Twitter and communicate with them through it. The security and safety reasons make me hesitant, not to mention that they are already on so many social media platforms…I would rather not add to it.

I genuinely enjoyed the Twitter chat experience that we participated in. I marvelled at the broad range of answers the participants gave and the thoughtfulness that went into them. I had about ten ah-ha moments during the chat and bookmarked some of the responses for future reference. At first I felt a bit intimidated knowing there were graduate students chatting, but I got over that very quickly when I realized their responses were on par with mine (confidence issues…blah!). I found I was extremely engaged in the conversation and the time flew by really quickly! I had no idea what Twitter chats were or how they worked previously but had seen a few people that I follow take part in them. I will look at the list to see if there are future chats I would like to join. I noticed there is an eight minute chat that I might have to check out. With my current schedule, eight minutes is about all the spare time I have right now.

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

What is the Digital World Really Doing to our Students?

I am a bit torn on the culture of participation that has sprouted from the online world and social media. On one hand, I can understand how the “participatory nature of YouTube” can become a “celebration of empowerment” as Michael Wesch states in his presentation, An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube. I, too, find it very easy to get caught up in the joy of watching so many people make connections and meet on common ground by imitating and remixing the same videos, dances, or digital moments. YouTube has brought people together from all around the world and provides an agent for them to connect. It somehow transcends ethnicity, age, gender, or any other distinction we can come up with. 

All of this connection and sense of community seems like a really positive thing on the surface. However, from a purely objective standpoint, the culture of participation is not as wonderful as it initially seems. Wesch talks about “building community through webcams and screens”. When I really think about this phrase, I feel like it’s a bit of an oxymoron. To me, community is something that is authentic and personal. When one of Wesch’s students mentions how uncomfortable it is to talk to a webcam like it is a person, that doesn’t sound like a community-building experience to me. Not to mention the one-sidedness of a YouTube video. The isolation that is going on in reality in the videos does not equate to the foundation for a healthy community. It’s scary to imagine that a lot of the producers of YouTube videos do sincerely believe they are making connections and are part of a community. But these feelings of community are artificial. We discussed in class some of the mental health issues that come with “living online”. The psychology behind “likes” and comments on posts has been explored in many articles and research papers. There are also the issues with online “challenges” and cyber-bullying that we discussed during the “Intro To Our Digital World” presentation in class. Online bullying has opened up an entirely new dimension to bullying that educators and parents now have to keep tabs on. 

As future educators, I think it’s really important we are aware of not only what the research says about the culture of participation and living online, but also aware of how we model our own personal relationships with online media. I think we have to find a balance in the classroom between looking at a screen and having real, face-to-face interactions with each other and people in our real community. I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that the inter-mingling between education and technology will slow down anytime soon, but I think it’s crucial that we don’t allow authentic connections to become second to connecting on technology. There’s no going back on technology now that it’s here but as educators and role models we have to always take an objective look at whether the digital culture is helping or hurting our students.

Okay so with alllll that being said (and I’m sorry to rant), I will say that technology does offer some very exciting opportunities in our classrooms and schools. I definitely see the benefit of professional learning networks for educators as well as classrooms using technology to connect with people they otherwise would never have the opportunity to connect with. Classes talking online to classes from the other side of the world, for example, or having the opportunity to connect with a professional or scholar in the field of study your unit is on is extremely exciting (see the video below of Chris Hadfield talking to students from space). There’s also all of the fantastic educational content that can be found on sites like YouTube that can accompany and bolster teaching. I know I certainly rely on TedEd or Crashcourse videos!

Technology has brought people together in exciting ways that enriches students’ days and excites and engages them in very meaningful ways. As long as digital media is not replacing actual human connections and is being used responsibly, then I think it’s a great addition to the classroom.   

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Feedly-ing My Soul

I decided to give Feedly a try to connect with some articles of professional and personal interest to me. I had to resist the temptation to subscribe to feeds related to celebrities and movie news because these are my guilty pleasure. Instead I decided to create feeds for technology in education, general education, science education, and social justice issues. The technology in education feed was a no-brainer because of the theme of this class. I was able to find some really informative sites by typing #edtech into the search bar. I am excited to explore the Ted-Ed videos as I’ve seen a handful of them and they are always really interesting and engaging. I’m also hopeful I can find some resources to help with future science lessons amongst these videos. 

I found the science education feeds by trying out some different science education-related hashtags in the Feedly search ( #science education worked the best). I think the NSTA (National Science Teaching Association) Blog will be a really useful resource for both my current science curriculum classes and my future science classroom. My science curriculum instructors have referred our class to the NSTA previously so I know this is a reputable site. 

The Social Justice feed is one that I am very excited to explore. I got the idea for this feed from looking at Katia’s example and noticing she follows a feed called “Feministing” (which it sadly appears has closed down). I was intrigued and thought a feed related to different social justice issues that are important to me would be very engaging. I was able to find some feeds that related to feminism, racism, and Indigenous issues that I hope to explore. As a potential future social studies teacher, these feeds will be very useful for bringing current and relevant topics for discussion into the classroom.

Screen shot of the feeds I’ve started following

**Real-time update: As I was typing about the NSTA Blog, I noticed on the right hand side of the Feedly page they offer some recommended sites to follow under “You Might Also Like”. There is a feed called “Science Teacher”. Ta-da! Now I’m also following the Science Teacher feed which also looks to be very useful. And now I see “The Art of Teaching Science” as a recommended feed. Yikes! I may get caught in a continuous loop…   

EDTC 300, Weekly Blog

Allow Myself to Introduce….Myself

Hello to all of my fellow EDTC 300 classmates. I’m Lauren Carlson. I’m in my second year of the Bachelor of Education After Degree program. I’m in secondary education with a major in biology and a minor in social studies. I received my first degree in biology from the University of Regina back in 2005…so yes, I’m what one would call a “mature student”. I have spent the years since earning my degree working for organizations such as the Prairie Conservation Action Plan, a little known Canadian organization called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (in the forensic lab…yes it was pretty cool), and currently I work at Stantec Consulting as a Project Coordinator. More importantly I found and married the most wonderful person in the world and together we have three really cute boys who keep us busy and happy. You can find out more about me in the “About Me” page.

I made the decision to make a career change about a year and a half ago when I applied for the Faculty of Education. I decided consulting is not for me and had a pretty big realization that I needed to make a change. My biggest fear is having regrets and not following my career aspirations had been a pretty big regret of mine for some time. I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I was going to make a change, now would be as good a time as any. I had been thinking for years that I should have pursued a career in teaching because education has always been extremely important to me. I also felt a pull towards a career where I could make a difference in people’s lives and, seriously, who influences more people than teachers? I firmly believe in the power of kindness and empathy. I love nature and everything in the natural world. I am environmentally conscientious and a promoter of sustainability even if it just means switching from plastic to reusable produce bags. I hope to one day spread my message of kindness and sustainability to my future biology or social studies students. I cannot wait to get into the classroom and connect with my future students. 

Educational technology was extremely limited in my school days. When I was in elementary school, we still used floppy disks (those big ones with the hole in the middle) and the extent of our computer literacy was learning to type and playing The Oregon Trail (that game was the best!). In high school I took a computer science class and learned the basics of coding. I really enjoyed it as I have a pretty analytical mind. Social media was barely invented at that point…I think MySpace may have been around but I never hopped on that train. Nobody had cell phones that I knew of and we most certainly did not have any sort of devices like laptops or tablets in the classroom. 

Blogging is something I had never tried until a year ago when we had to create a blog for my ESCI 302 (environmental education) class. I had read many blogs before but I had never tried one for myself. I really like using my blog and I think it’s a great way to collect work from my classes. I don’t have a portfolio but my blog is a good summary of my growth through my education degree. I am becoming more and more comfortable with it as I use it more and more. I hope to continue using my blog to express my education philosophy and opinions as I finish my degree and beyond.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, my twitter handle is @lcarlson01. I follow a lot of people on Twitter but have been a bit of a lurker until now. My goal is to become more active on Twitter as I grow as an educator. I would recommend following @Eduporium as they are a good resource for education technology and STEM tools.

I’m so excited to be on this journey with all of you and so grateful to have this opportunity at a career that I feel so passionate about. I sincerely look forward to working with all of you in this class and afterwards as colleagues in this beautiful profession. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and please never hesitate to say hi!