Archive for November, 2012

Edcamp Leadership BC

November 30, 2012 3 comments

I recently attended Edcamp Leadership BC with Tyler and Humaira. It was the second edcamp I attended (I summarized my first visit here). Like last time, I arrived in Delta at 9 am on only four hours of sleep so lack of sleep seems to be a trend for me the night before an Edcamp event… I forgot to prepare a topic to discuss and I was eager to discuss what do grades mean? Unfortunately no one else had proposed any similar topics related to grading.

My first workshop was Learning in the Digital Age. I thought the time could have been better spent discussing ideas. We watched a couple of lengthy videos (relative to the one hour we had for the session) that depicted how technology and social media were used in one teacher’s classroom. Furthermore we spent a fair amount of time discussing the technical details of running a class website (eg student emails, privacy issues, parental consent etc…). We also went over some assessment for learning practices:

  • clear learning intentions
  • student generated criteria
  • quality descriptive feedback
  • inquiry and asking good questions
  • self and peer assessment/feedback
  • ownership of learning

The second workshop was Strategies for Differentiated Learning. I hadn’t encountered the concept of differentiated learning so I decided to attend that session and see what it was about. The problem is every student is different so in any given classroom, there will be some students who are struggling with the curriculum while others find the material too easy and therefore lack the motivation to learn. Different students have different strengths and weaknesses so one way to address this is to have them present what they have learned in different ways. For example students can choose to present their understanding of Shakespeare in the form of a skit, painting or rap instead of the traditional essay. I didn’t realize it until the discussion, but I was lucky to have high achieving classmates in elementary school. Even in grade two, they went and learned a lot beyond the curriculum and shared that knowledge with the rest of the class. They did that without anyone asking them to and that motivated me to go beyond the curriculum as well.

The third workshop was 21st Century Learning and Teaching with Technology. This session was unique in that a student facilitated the discussion (I like to think of him as mini-Tyler). He mentioned teachers have to be better instructors in that simply lecturing on material is taking time away from student discussion and learning and that it’s ok for teachers not to have the answers to everything (ie it’s important for learning to be a two-way street). We also discussed the importance of self-regulation with regards to cell phone usage (ie refraining from checking one’s phone while in class) since banning cell phones in classrooms isn’t an effective practice. At the core, everyone, not just students, needs to learn how to prioritize things and internalize them. Banning cell phones is not going to change the fact if one values the importance of staying connected with friends over his or her education in a given moment.

The last workshop was Things that Suck. We had to pick sides (for, undecided, against) for various educational issues such as grades, standardized curriculum, bring your own device, use of Facebook as a classroom learning platform etc… Unfortunately there was very little opportunity for discussion. I will blog about these topics sometime in the next year…

I enjoyed the day very much. Unfortunately I noticed the same problems the previous Edcamp had. Again I was hoping for a bit more in-depth discussion and a more diverse crowd (the majority of the participants were teachers). Similar to last time, everyone I talked to assumed I was a teacher. It would be great if more students and parents participated in these discussions. For the next Edcamp I will make sure to prepare a topic beforehand so I can lead a discussion! Also check out the accounts of other participants who attended Edcamp!

EDIT: Also check out Edcamp Leadership BC by Tyler Nelson. He mentioned several points I forgot to…

Categories: Education

An Analysis of Nicole Westbrook’s It’s Thanksgiving

November 14, 2012 2 comments

As many of you might be aware of, Nicole Westbrook recently released a song titled It’s Thanksgiving. It was written and produced by Patrice Wilson (the same guy who rapped about driving past school buses in Rebecca Black’s Friday). Here’s the music video for those who haven’t seen it yet:


In the first scene where Nicole is marking off her calendar, we notice that it’s actually set to November 2013, not 2012. Here the music video is deeper than the lyrics would suggest. The problem today is that Thanksgiving holidays are relatively dull compared to others because there aren’t any songs associated with the holiday. Fortunately for us, Nicole and Patrice found a creative solution, by writing a song about Thanksgiving. The November 2013 calender symbolizes how future Thanksgiving holidays (not just this year’s) will be associated with the song similar to how we still and will continue to associate Christmas with songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

The highlight of the music video is when the Usher-look-alike-guy, wearing a turkey costume, unexpectedly drops by Nicole’s home and parties with the group of children. At first I was confused because Halloween already passed long ago, but the song is about Thanksgiving. However I realized later that the turkey costume is supposed to reference a popular internet meme. Possibly to avoid potential legal repercussions, the guy decided to wear a turkey instead of a bear costume.

Since the producer also wrote Friday, it’s not surprising that there are many resemblances between that song and It’s Thanksgiving. Both songs begin with the similar oooh-oooh-yeah melody that don’t really serve any purpose except to lengthen the songs’ runtimes. Also the bridge in Nicole’s song where she teaches us when the holidays are (notice that Halloween is missing), is similar to the days-of-the-week verse in Friday. Again there is a rap part, but this time done by Nicole herself (with a lot of swagger nonetheless). I think that these raps are better for children today instead of listening to people rap about sex, drugs or shoving a gerbil up one’s ass. Lastly we clearly see how both songs promote positive thinking as we hear the lines we so excited (Friday) and we are gonna have a good time (It’s Thanksgiving) several times.

I thought the biggest difference was that while Rebecca was indecisive and didn’t know which seat to sit in, Nicole knew exactly what she wanted to eat. We hear her referencing turkey and mash potatoes several times. What makes this song so popular (it received almost seven million views since being released a week ago) is the use of repetitive words such as we and thank you. This technique is seen in other hit songs like Ke$ha’s Tik Tok, Justin Bieber’s Baby and of course the song that inspired this one, Friday. This is the standard aspiring singers and songwriters should follow if they want to be successful.

If there’s one thing I learned from this video, it’s that you will have a good time if you dress up as a turkey and party with prepubescent children. I’m Canadian so my Thanksgiving already passed, but it’s not too early to start planning how I’m going to spend next year’s holiday.

Categories: Bulletin, Humour

Overthinking Much?

November 8, 2012 1 comment

Thanks Jason for sharing this comic from Drawing Board.

Categories: Humour

On Daily Inconveniences

November 6, 2012 2 comments

Thought Catalog recently posted an interesting article about how we use morality to justify our resentment towards people who inconvenience us. I agree that kind of behaviour isn’t beneficial.

The author even implies that the only person negatively affected by that kind of self-righteous behaviour is oneself. For example if a car cuts in front of me when I’m on my way to work, I could get angry at the driver. As a result, I might take out my frustrations at other coworkers and my productivity might decrease for that day. I end up going about the rest of my day feeling angry while the driver goes about his day without a care in the world. All that just because I believe it is morally right for me to be entitled to the space in front of my car.

Not everyone who uses those moral arguments seem to be self-righteous though. I believe that many times, we get angry simply because of our natural me-first attitude, that our immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. Like what the author mentioned, writing a book explaining why it is ethically wrong to cut in front of other people or to show up late isn’t going to improve the quality of your life. Learning how to react to these inconveniences will since we are going to encounter them on a regular basis for the rest of our lives. It starts with thinking differently because it’s not really about morality.

How other people act is their karma. How you react is your karma.

EDIT: A friend shared this quote shortly after I posted this entry:

By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences of your life. – Gary Zukav

Categories: Life, Philosophy