Cassandra's Education Blog

Wander with me on my journey...

“The Girl” by Dallas Green – performed by yours truly

Listen while I play the guitar…

Minecraft in Education

Today in our ED Tech class we had the pleasure of learning from a Spectrum High School student, three Colquitz Middle School students and one of the teachers from Colquitz. We discussed gaming in education and learned about the benefits of Minecraft and how it can be used in a school setting. The game is designed with a student and teacher login access where the teacher can control specific settings, such as, personal settings, world settings, player setting and player management. Within these settings, the teacher has the ability to apply limits or not for the students, for example, there are five different game modes in Minecraft, Survival, Creative, Adventure, Spectator and Hardcore. In class we learnt about survival and creative mode. In survival mode, players are to gather resources, build a base and keep themselves alive by nourishment and avoiding death, whereas, in the creative mode players have unlimited access to every item in the game. The teacher can control the weather, the ability to enter other dimensions, and to bring villagers and monsters into the game. The teacher can also set a timer to allow students to work in a competition style towards a goal or simply any timed exercise. To ensure students are staying on task and listening during breaks for teacher instruction there are tools that can help aid in this.  The teacher can “fly” over the Minecraft world to oversee students working and if needed they can teleport to the student or vice versa. As well, the teacher can freeze the students from the game to quickly get the students attention to give other instructions and save from having wasted class time. In the event that students are misusing or require more freedom in the game than their peers, the teacher can individually select specific options to make available or unavailable to any individual student. Minecraft can be used educationally in mathematics, sciences, history, reading and writing, Minecraft will also further improve the students quality of creativity, problem-solving, collaborations and self-sufficiencies in learning and other life skills.

 

New Strings, New Song?

To give you an update since last time, these new strings are awesome in comparison to the last! I am going to have to ask my friend where they got their’s though, they still felt more fine and I didn’t have to press so hard, but, I should not complain, these ones are way better then the old ones. This weekend I’ve been enjoying practicing so much, my back and upper body is actually quite sore from playing so much, I should probably look into that and make sure that my posture and positioning is correct. I decided to change my route from my original plan, I was going to learn the song “Sweet Home Alabama”. I do not have any emotional connection to this song and simply choose it based on the fact that I knew it, it came up as a beginner song on the guitar and of course I wanted my goal to be achievable. In hind sight, I did not even think about how much I would be trying to play and listen to the song that I am learning, which I definitely should have. My song for the final is called “The Girl” by Dallas Green, I knew going into it that the second part of the song would be difficult just by listening and in our first couple weeks I had a peer help show me the chords and while we were working together. They listened to the song and explained how they, as a person with many years of experience playing guitar thought it sounded difficult and wasn’t sure if even they could execute that part. Since then, I have been practicing only this song and only the first part which consists of four chords and in my opinion a challenging strumming pattern.

We are creeping up to our midterm deadline and I am not exactly where I thought I would be, with that said, I am happy of my progress considering the road bumps along the way. I had one funny mistake happen that I haven’t shared, while waiting for my picks to arrive I wanted to practice more and with sore hands it was difficult to do so. I had a brilliant idea, or so I thought, I assumed long nails would help with my strumming since I didn’t have my picks yet, so, I decided to glue on fake nails. Oh boy was that a disaster, I didn’t even take my other hand into consideration and there I was for a whole week trying to practice muffled chords and transitions due to these talons I decided to glue to my fingernails. But, I will mention, it did help with the strumming…

Ciao for now, thanks for keeping up!

New STRINGS!!

Well, my picks came last week and boy is that a saving grace! My strings arrived today and I will be bringing them to music class on Friday in a couple days, one of my peers has offered to teach me how to string a guitar, so thats really neat, not only will I be learning how to play the instrument, I will also be able to have a deeper understanding of the mechanics, I am still working on tuning and my grandfather has lent me six harmonicas (two of them are in C), they are in chords A, C, D, E and G. I was on the phone with my grandpa telling him about school and how learning the guitar was working for me and he suggested to borrow these so that I could help gain a better ear for the chords and tuning by ear, currently my method has been asking someone with experience for help or using an app that a peer had suggested.

 

My practice time has still been in short durations due to my strings being so tough and making my fingers sore. It was nice to know that I’m not just being a whiner, I tried using a friends guitar and noticed a huge difference in the feeling of the stings. The guitar I have is my sisters and she has already had it for ten years, and she was the second owner, so I have no idea when they were last changed, if ever. I am really excited to get these strings on and start practicing more, as I said, this is my sisters guitar, she got it as a hobby in high school and took some lessons but never got to the point of playing a song, so the poor thing has pretty much just sat there collecting dust over the years. It spent a period of time with our best friend who also wanted to learn to play, she was trying to self teach and unfortunately did not have as much progress either. I feel like she needs to be played and enjoyed, I am excited to break the trend and let her do what she does best, plus, how cool will it be when I am up at the lake and can actually play something for my friends and family.

Anyways, see you soon!

Class Communication

Teaching is an interactive process involving the teacher and the students. Communication skills are lucrative and play a fundamental role in these relationships and can be communicated both verbally and non-verbally. Children pick up on our body language and facial expressions and interpret them at face value.

The way we position ourselves in front of children exposes our attitude, confidence, competence, interests and concerns and will create an atmosphere within the classroom. As teachers, we need to be in tuned not only mentally but also kinesthetically with our students and we need to feel how they are moving and be actively moving along with them.

Facial expressions are a great way to express emotions and direction to people of all ages and in general people are very responsive to these actions. Children particularly judge a person based on facial expressions, making eye contact and smiling are simple and trainable ways for one to encourage, and help children feel included in activities. Making eye contact in any setting with as many children as possible will help more individuals to feel included and ready to participate in the activity presented.

When in a larger or more spread out setting, it is important to enhance your expressions, one way in amplifying your direction is by using hand and body gestures along with your facial and verbal directions. These may be more exaggerated in particular settings, as well, it may be more beneficial to use no vocals and strictly rely on gestures, signals and a whistle or other attention-grabbing devices.

When and how we speak are very influential and can encourage or discourage children, or most people for that matter. Practicing effective speech with students while working with them will create a habit of having open dialogue with your students to allow growth and stimulation. This will also create an atmosphere where they are more aware of your presence and help enhance a productive environment and conversations.

Here is a reflection of my school visits to Glanford Middle School

I have had the opportunity to oversee a grade eight classroom at Glanford Middle School for the last three Wednesday visits. I want to begin by explaining how nervous and frightened I was to step into a class at that age as my first experience as a teacher’s assistant. After our first day with our partner teacher and students I was thrilled to be fortunate enough to be pushed out of my comfort zone, our partner teacher is demonstrating exactly what we are being taught to do when we have our own classrooms and students. Our partnering teacher has been an amazing role model to learn from, their use of various pedagogical approaches, exploratory speech in class discussions and their encouragement towards students learning shows how practical these skills are. In these short three weeks I have watched these children grow already and without a doubt it is in thanks to their teacher.

 

Growing up in school district 61 was very different when I was going through my K-12 education. I briefly went to Lakehill Elementary, McKenzie Elementary and finally Strawberry Vale Elementary which I graduated grade seven from. Following, I went to Colquitz Junior High and moved on to Spectrum High School for my final years. Looking back and comparing the grade eight students from Colquitz when I was a student to the grade eight students that I have been working with thus far at Glanford I can see the positive impact that has been made by the restructure of the school system. It has been an honour to work with these children and staff and has made me reconsider my “ideal” grade to work with in future endeavours.

 

Not only have I had the pleasure to work in an academic setting in the grade eight classroom, I have also had the opportunity to assist with the grade six dance club at lunch. I am looking forward to continuing this and gaining more experience with a school dance club that has a wide variety of levels. I was a competitive dancer and dance teacher at a studio, as well I was a teacher assistant at school dance from grade nine to twelve while in attendance. I hope to bring dance to any school I get to work with and am excited to get the chance to learn from the school dance teachers and see how they help to push and encourage students from all levels from beginners to skilled and competitive.

Already three weeks of practicing, I’m not very good, YET!

I have ordered picks and new strings!! I cannot wait to get them! I have been trying to practice but at the same time haven’t been very successful. My strings and picks aren’t here yet, so I am trying to practice bare hand and am getting sore fingers so quickly. I have already learnt how hard this skill is on one’s hands, this is something I didn’t even take into consideration. I hope my items arrive soon; they should help! Online, I can see that the picks should be here in the next couple days, which is awesome! Unfortunately, my strings will take a couple weeks to arrive, hopefully the company is overestimating the time expected and they get here quicker than expected. I really need them to get practicing more! My chord fingers are getting bruised and sore, when I practice it hurts and I have finger indents that are very tender. My strumming finger has lost its nail tip and my cuticles are torn up and tender, this shows me that when I am practicing my strumming with a sore finger I am letting it bend and using the top side of my finger rather then the tip. Until next time!

Update!! Here is how learning guitar is going…

Well, I have been so fortunate to connect with a peer in our cohort! He has a strong musical background. We connected and he helped me to tune my sister’s guitar, he showed me how to tune it myself, and then helped me with the second song I have choose as it seems to be more challenging. We worked on the chords I had to learn and although he wasn’t sure of the exact names of these chords, he was able to play the piece and help teach me. I took photos of his hands playing the chords in the same sequence they will be played in the song. I also videoed his hands so I can watch and practice along with the video. We “jammed” for a little while and I learned that, one, I needed picks! My fingernail and cuticula was getting torn up almost instantly, my chord fingers were also extremely sore from pressing down on the strings, we’ll have to see how this goes.

My first music blog, follow along while I learn the guitar

Welcome to my first music blog post! This is where you can follow my journey while I learn to play the guitar. I look forward to learning a new skill, but, at the same time I am nervous at how challenging this will be for me. I have never played an instrument before and would not consider myself musically inclined. With that being said, I was a competitive dancer for many years and also taught dance and choreographed pieces, so I know that I have a feel for music. This will be a completely different experience as I am the one making the music and not just moving along with it. I choose the guitar because my sister had one that I could borrow. Her and our childhood best friend both have tried to learn and have quit before becoming successful with enough skills to play a song. I hope to be able to teach them both one of my songs after I have mastered them myself. I am also a little nervous about how much my professor thinks I am able to do. I had a song with three chords that I chose to master. I thought I would work on the individual chords and strumming patterns without using chords for our midterm assessment, and then work at putting them together to make the song for my final. Our professor thought that I was capable of more, so we added another song to my syllabus. I was thrilled to hear that she thought I was capable of achieving more! I hope to accomplish all the goals I have set but do feel overwhelmed due to the amount of time I expect is needed to achieve these goals. Currently, I am enrolled in six classes at the University of Victoria and on top of that have a day for practicum, in order to stay afloat with my bills, I also have to work, I run my own cleaning company and as we all know business owners are very busy.

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