Learning ASL has been a great journey that has only just begun. As our class comes to a close I know that I will continue to commit to the goal of becoming fluent in ASL. Lately, I have been very busy as summer moves in; family time gets busier, work gets busier, and internship is fast approaching, I’ve found it difficult to take the time to work through my Learn ASL in 31 Days Unit. I need a tool that keeps me practicing and applying my learning, but also something I could do on the go.
I decided to explore a few different Apps that are downloadable to my iPhone and easy to access.
This app is very basic. Similar to the app I first discovered in earlier blogs: Spread the Sign, The ASL app serves as a pocket dictionary of sorts. What I like about this app more than Spread the Sign is that there are more options available to you for searching common phrases and conversation pieces. The only challenge is that after a certain amount of phrases, the app requests that you purchase each phrase you want to learn afterward.
This is a new one that I just discovered and am very curious about. There is an app for my phone and a website to visit on my computer. What I love about the app is that there is a wide variety of options for learning new signs. There are the ABC’s, 123’s and a large list of topics that break into different categories. The app for iPhone serves as a great pickup and practice quick tool.
When I have more time to sit down and work through something more challenging, the website is set up into units, quizzes, and interactive videos! This layout is similar to Rochelle Barlow’s ASL in 31 days. However, it is easier for me to access, I like the visual layout more, the quizzes are more interactive, and the videos use a variety of people rather than just one. This might be my new favorite resource for learning ASL! Stay tuned..
This app is identical to others but what makes it so engaging is that fact that Marlee Matin off Switched at Birth created the app. She is a deaf actress and advocate for the deaf community. Her app has a neat layout and color scheme and videos of her doing certain signs. The great part is she makes all the basic and important conversational signs part of the free lessons. However, If you want to learn more you have to purchase more lessons.
This week I plan to dig into the Sign School website and use at least one ASL app on my phone a day for 15 minutes. Blog to follow!
WOW, am I glad we are talking about this. A few days before last class I was contemplating my digital presence on Facebook. I have many family and friends who have very different views on the world than I do. And so it goes.. the continuous battle of what to post, what not to post, how much to post about certain subjects, etc.
I have been told many times that I am hypersensitive or hard to talk to because of my position on many social issues. This bothers me. I seriously considered withdrawing from posting articles related to “controversial” topics recently because of how bothered I am. I was and still kind of believe.. I am too “uptight” (If anyone has suggestions on how to combat this.. please fire them off in the comments).
I crept carefully through her words and considered the comments of the users below. I read the post and the comments over and over trying to figure out where I stand. On one hand, I agreed with not telling others what they use the internet for but on the other, I found a resurgence of personal discovery. As I read on in agreeance about the amount of privilegeI possess and the duty I have to the digital world as an educator, I could feel my confidence rise. I could feel that space again where advocacy felt right and silence closed in on me like a dark chamber.
Here is my argument on why it is important to stand up in real life and online:
I don’t want to be hard to talk to but I honestly don’t think life only extends to cheering for your favorite sports team or traveling to see the seven wonders of the world. While these events are grand and make people happy.. it is important for those of us who have the privilege to recognize it and do something positive with it rather than acknowledge it and scoff at their gift.
As an individual, I value caring about and being passionate about things outside myself. Therefore, I’m not okay with racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. kind of jokes. The love in my heart extends to diverse people around the world and I will go to bat for them at any time to make the world a better place.
I have valued these things for awhile now… but in the beginning, I valued them in silence (for the most part). Until I was told by an admirable professor that “when you say nothing in the presence of something you believe is wrong.. you give power to the oppressor”. you take the side of the oppressor by default…and so began my years of making my voice heard in a room. I don’t often get taken seriously and I do often have my beliefs held against me. I still struggle with how to present who I am in a less “aggressive” and clean cut way. i.e. knowing what to say to someone when they say something you don’t agree with, without getting into an argument.
Que, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are two places where I have no fear or anxiety sharing my thoughts and the things I believe in. It is so easy for me to just click share and off it goes into the world. I feel good when I do this because it is less scary and it makes me feel like I’m exposing people to ideas they may not have been aware of. I believe people have certain feelings about diverse groups of people due to lack of exposure, knowledge, and empathy. By sharing posts online I hope that I can extend new information to my audience, even if they are on the -against–side of my beliefs.
Does using social media as a platform for activism make me a “poser”, “fake”, or a “slacker”?I don’t think so. I use the internet as a platform for these things because I know exactly how powerful it can be. There are times where I can stand up for what I believe in, in an effective and assertive way but I’m still young, still learning, and still practicing the action of being an activist. I would also argue that social media has motivated me more now than ever to physically participate in activist events. Based on what I like and post, I get notifications for similar events going on near me. Now that is cool.
Social media gives me an out for discussing the things I care about until I can feel confident in my ability to do it in person. I believe that you cannot change anyone’s mind in a battle of yelling or criticism. I often say that “calling people IN”, rather than “calling them OUT” is more useful. No one has open hearts, minds, or ears when they are angry. For themoments I feel confident in my knowledge and ability to have a dialogue with someone I will do so. For the moments I am lacking, and the moments where I am just doing my digital justice duty, I will post about social issues and feel confident that someone has been reached or made aware of something new.
I must apologize that I could not screencast for this blog. The mic on my Mac is broken and for some reason screencast would not cooperate with my headphone mic. If anyone has details on how to combat this please comment below!
I learned about coding when I was thirteen years old, although I didn’t identify it as such. At the time, the social media hype in Alberta involved a web page called Nexopia. On this page, you could type in codes to create your profile appearance. As a thirteen-year-old, I wanted nothing more than to have fancy font and glitter pictures to flash on my homepage for everyone to see.
I was completely fascinated by the power of coding.Typing words and brackets to create images and fancy letters? That’s almost as perplexing as the idea of speaking into a phone in Canada and someone hearing you in Austrailia.
My days of code retired once Facebook was created. Unfortunately, that social media platform does not have a place where you can code and create a custom profile. But then… we were assigned to learn about coding in ECMP 355. Honestly, I’m amped up about re-learning to code. I remember in my teen years coding so fast. I can hardly fathom working that fast now. It has crossed my mind to take on coding as my second learning project after learning ASL.
I experimented with multiple modes of coding to get a feel for all the options out there:
I found this web page was easy to navigate in general. When I learn something new, it is important for me to understand the WHY of it. Not only does this give you step by step practice in coding, it explains why you type each code or what the words and symbols mean in that particular code. I also like that you can do a quiz on your knowledge acquisition from the units as you go. Finally, the best part of it all is the “I can statements”. How cool is that? They aren’t even working the SK curriculum and they have the I can statements figured out!
What could be improved:
I would say Code Academy is geared towards an older audience. For this purpose, it is close to perfection. However, the language used can be too complex and advanced for a young learner possibly even high school aged. This would be a great tool if there was a modified version for younger years. Something as simple as the layout or word choice.
This is a kid friendly and engaging way for students to experiment with coding. I had fun creating my little cartoon. There are endless options for themes, characters, and items to choose from. There is something for everyone to code about via Scratch which is basically a gold mine for me as an educator of diverse minds.
I see Scratch as an opportunity for students to demonstrate learning through coding whether it be directly related to coding or a cross-curricular project using code and information from another topic. i.e. playing an instrument using recordings, images, etc. and importing it into the code box.
Learn is a branch off of code.org just like Scratch. Through Learn, students can practice code for one hour a day that is split up into 20 segments. This is a great way to get students interested in coding. They use cartoons and media geared towards students specifically which promote high engagement.
I could see this as a useful downtime activity for students to work on if they find they have finished their work early in class. In order for it to be purposeful for learning, I would have students document their progress every time they practice coding i.e. having a progress duo tang or folder where they screen shot progress and reflect on the learning.
What could be improved:
The only thing that I don’t quite get yet about Learn is how much it really teaches kids to code. Below you can see the different puzzle pieces that the student must attempt to put together in the proper sequence to achieve the task:
I would say that this is a very basic introduction to coding. Although there is a section where you can view the actual coding used to create the movements and images, these codes seem less articulate than the codes I was learning about in Code Academy or Scratch.
Coding is definitely something I see as useful in the classroom. For the older years, This would fit great in a business class or some kind of technology course. There are many jobs in the tech area and it’s only going to get bigger as tech advances in our society.
For the younger years, the current curriculum would suit a literacy area or math. For example, the coding games on learn deal with turns, lines, and angles, etc. (Math). While the codes themself require some literacy skills.
I remember how much I enjoyed coding as a teenager. If I had known there was a career path you could take with coding I may have pursued it!
I remember reading the news headlines and hearing the name: Amanda Todd. I never took the time to explore it until now. Before today, I avoided the topic. I have this thing against negative news.. not that I never read a negative headline. Sometimes exploring what’s going on is important to understand the environment students are being exposed to or living in. However, many of the comments I hear relating to this incident were vulgar and involved critical shaming of the girl, and placing blame on her and her family. Because of these comments I disengaged from the event and refused to explore what happened.
To be honest, I was hesitant to watch the documentary about her story. Suicide is uncomfortable for me, it makes my stomach flip whether it’s someone I know or not. Eventually, I was able to click the play button and I’m happy I did.
I had no idea what the depth of her story was. After watching the film I felt overwhelmed, distraught and brought myself back to where I felt about technology the first time I thought of bringing it into the classroom: fear and loathing. The predation on Amanda Todd by internet blackmailers was the first to make my head spin and next was the comments towards Amanda after her private photo was leaked to the public.
My most prominent thought while watching this documentary was how much I did not want my future children to have access to the online world. I felt an anxiety so great that I couldn’t imagine ever allowing them to use a digital device under my roof.
BUT…reality is, children will not stay off the internet just because you tell them not to or do not give them devices. They will find a way and use the internet despite any effort you make. Ohler mentions in his article The Digital Age, “-both approaches (expulsion and website blocking) reaffirm to students that they should pursue their digital interests outside of school, while adults are not around”.
The only thing that scares me more than youth on the internet boat is youth on the internet boat without a paddle (education).
Life is full of decisions and you better believe that children begin to make those decisions at any age. Providing students with education about how to use the internet responsibly and with purpose is critical. That begs the question though… what happens when education doesn’t work? You would be right if you said that education won’t prevent 100% of the world’s problems. Does that mean we ignore the ones it didn’t work on? Do we say too bad for Amanda Todd, she brought it on herself? I don’t think so.
Monica Lewinsky gave some perspective in her TED talk about how the digital world changes the consequences of a person’s actions. We are all human, we all make mistakes but the digital world makes those mistakes viral to a world that didn’t have much business knowing about the situation in the first place.
She describes this digital attention as online shaming. Online shaming takes a person’s poor decision and amplifies it in an uncontained and permanent way. Both her and Amanda Todd experienced online shaming so severe that she describes it as being “humiliated to death”.
Shortly after Lewinsky’s public announcement of her affairs, her mother slept beside her every day, made her shower with the door open and kept an eye on her for many months. Hearing her say that made my heart ache. The shaming does not end at these two women. She notes in her video that cyberbullying in 2012-2013 went up by 87%. That number is staggering and the suicides are certainly not limited to Amanda Todd.
With these incidents in mind, I wondered how it could be possible to prevent and protect our people from the digital horror of public humiliation. Lewinsky gave me hope. She referred to “clicking with compassion” as a way to combat the online world. Clicking with compassion means that with every click we make a choice. We think about what we are exposing ourselves to and viewing. We can decide whether to be a bystander(reading articles and contributing to slander) or to be an upstander(reporting cyberbullying, etc.).
There were so many positive notes that she made which easily shot down the anxiety festered in me after watching the Amanda Todd documentary. What happened to her was heartbreaking and gut wrenching. I would never wish this upon anyone but it is a wake-up call to me as an educator.
Not only do we need to educate on safe internet use but we need to educate on upstanding and fighting against being victimized.
While I am still learning many different words in sign language, I am beginning to put words together in sentences which are really cool. When I watch Switched at Birth, I can pick up a few signs but I cannot always follow exactly what they say because they often sign fast.
Here is a video of me signing some different sentences:
Last week I posted my second challenge to the ASL Facebook group. This time, I received plenty more feedback on my video than the first. I think this may be because I am playing a more active role on the page by liking and commenting on other people’s videos. Like Katia mentioned in class, if you want more followers on Twitter,you need to pump the tires of others! Okay.. she didn’t say exactly that. but something to that effect.
Engaging with others online in this journey has kept me motivated to stay on top of daily signing and documenting my progress. I feel a sense of accountability to my online community and support from those who are in the same learning process as me in ASL.
I mentioned a few blogs ago that I joined an online Google + community called The Sign Language Community. I posted to the group and received no feedback. However, when I scroll through the news feed of the community, I am still gaining access to more resources that others are posting on.
In this community, I will continue the strategy of commenting on others posts, asking questions and helping others learn(even if my knowledge of ASL is still limited in retrospect). By reaching out, I am hoping more people will be willing to grab my hand or reach out to me so I can make some more meaningful learning connections.
A challenge I would like to set for myself is reaching out to someone in the community and asking them to Skype with me. I have mentioned this idea before but have not yet fulfilled it. I can be very introverted. I love doing work on my own and stepping out to talk to others (especially new people), can sometimes be difficult for me. I know if I make this move it will not only make me a stronger individual but will also add more depth to my learning with ASL. Practicing signs and random sentences is one thing, but attempting to keep a conversation going with a person signing in real life is a level higher that I would like to achieve.
As technology grows to be the leading topic in society today, I believe it is important to teach students how to use it not only for social reasons but as a tool that impacts the environment they are in and society as a whole.
When I think about teaching digital citizenship, I immediately think of safety online. Teach students how to avoid predators, keep their identity safe, etc. However, there is so much more to it than that. Digital citizenship is:
The piece I want to draw your attention to in this definition is, “prepare students for a society full of technology.” Reflecting on this definition and considering the reading from Jason Ohler, technology is part of our identity. Everyone is impacted by it in different ways and everyone can create an impact with it in different ways. Therefore, learning about online safety is not enough.
Jason Ohler mentions that the “One Life” model of tech in the classroom invites students to use technology in the classroom but also discuss it’s greater use as a society. I have not seen digital citizenship taught in the classroom much, and if I have it is limited to online safety.
I believe this is happening because:
1) Teachers have limited knowledge of technology
2) Teachers are afraid to teach about technology
3) Teachers are against technology in the classroom (The two lives model from Ohler).
So, what do we do about that? Well, we could start with having classes and subject areas dedicated to digital citizenship. While I see a place for digital citizenship in all areas of the curriculum, I believe it is so engrained in our society and so fragile if not handled properly, that we need to teach it exclusively by educators who are specialized in that area. In a dream world you’re thinking… am I right? Most likely you are thinking that especially if you come from small town Sask. and felt the effects of the budget this year.
So….what do we do about THAT?Funding is complicated and being a teacher can be tough on a small budget. However, a little creativity can go a long way… AND if there is anything I have learned from this class, it is that technology is a teacher. We have access to the internet where we can LEARN to do anything.
Make student book holders out of tomato boxes, use cans as pencil holders, etc. the list goes on! Digital citizenship is still a new topic that is also difficult to understand, navigate, and teach in an effective way without the proper training. Fortunately, there are great articles like the Nine Elements, that can give us a little help along the way.
With consideration of these Nine Elements, I think I could sit down and begin planning something great for teaching digital citizenship with success. The rest is up to plenty of trial and error and many more internet articles to work from!
When you’re online, you can be anyone you want to be. Just ask Brad Paisley:
Seriously though… digital identity is something that I have been very mindful of since graduation. I began with using high-security settings on social media but still having my leisure time public to my friend group.
When I got into the education program I became hyper vigilant about what or how I post online. You might say that I was scared into cleaning up my digital presence. There are many horror stories about teachers losing or not getting jobs and the more administrators I meet, the more they say social media is a number one go to for first impressions.
Having said this, I refuse to take photos with anyone or anything I think someone may have second thoughts about. I play it safe. Some people have said.. online pages are not genuine. They paint an “ideal” picture of someone. If someone wants to know me.. they can accept me for who I am; faults and all. I would have to agree with this on a certain level, but to me first impressions are everything. I want future admin. and staff to look at me and say, she takes her job seriously. I would also argue that teachers have a difficult time as it is fighting the stereotype of “glorified babysitters”.I believe this is a professional career and I need to represent it as such.
Most importantly, I am mindful of my digital presence because my students will find me. It is not a matter of if, but when. When my students do find me… I want to be a positive role model. I want them to see the things I advocate for and represent.
Facebook and Instagram are used for mostly personal ventures, but I still post on topics related to education often. I keep my privacy settings high on these pages but am still mindful of the language and topics I post about because like I said, I want to be a positive role model and I want to represent education in a professional way.
Twitter, on the other hand, is dominantly used for education purposes. I have a beef with Twitter drama. If I look on Twitter outside education it appears to be the modern day news channel so I try not to venture far from it being educational only.
As a future educator, I want to teach my students about digital identity and creating a positive and purposeful online presence. Of course, we are all human and we all want to have fun. However, the internet is the limelight of your identity and it can have an impact on your future. This is critical for students to understand. The internet is just the touch of a button. It is instant and forever (as of right now). This is some heavy fire for young children and teens to be playing with without a little help along the way.
This week I searched Twitter for some articles that might help me figure out how to teach digital identity or where to start. Here is a couple I really liked:
This resource is a fantastic break in program for young learners. It goes through the very basics of personal identity and digital identity. It is thorough in describing certain terms like private information vs. information that is open to share with most people. The difference between these two I think is important for kids to know when they have access to public chat rooms etc.
I NEED to experiment with this in the classroom! This is such an engaging way for students to learn about digital identity and safety online. They use games and motivational sentences to bring kids in. What better way to get kids into learning?!
This week I am on to challenge #2 for the ASL club on Facebook! Challenge #2 entails finger spelling 10 words– without posting the answers– and getting a chance to network with the other learners in the club through their guesses and answers. Next week I will post the answers in the comment section of my video!
Can you guess what I’m saying? I challenge you to learn the ASL alphabet and get back to me 😉 Take a shot and comment below if you think you know what I am fingerspelling! There are 10 words, good luck 🙂 I’ll post the answers next week!
When I began my journey, the first resource I found and continue to use the most is Rochelle Barlow’s ASL in 31 days. Through her program, I joined a facebook challenge group and.. as promised, I completed my first challenge: Introducing myself to the challenge group!
In this video, I introduce myself by finger spelling my name, sharing my age, the country I’m from, and what I do for fun and work.
After posting my video to the challenge group, I left it open for feedback from my fellow learners and teachers:
How cool is this?! I love that I can connect with people online who sign and get feedback. I’m hoping as I continue to post challenge videos I can make more connections. It would be really neat to make a friend online through learning ASL.
The work does not stop there! Of course the learning in a learning project.. never ends! I am continuing to dig through the online world hunting for resources and communities related to learning ASL. In my recent post, I attempted to join a Google + community for individuals who use ASL or are learning it. Unfortunately, I was denied access.. sadness..
Fear not, I don’t give up that easily! I found an open Google + community: The Sign Language Community. This group allows members to join their group as soon as they request! I reached out to the group and asked for a little help with resources. I am hoping that by doing this, I can meet some ASL learners to network with via Skype or video chat. This way I can have some raw practice with conversing in ASL and connecting with learners around the world.
I also explored some pages my colleagues follow on Facebook related to sign language (fan pages, sayings, etc):
Whyisign: I love this page because it has inspiring videos, memes, and videos of people who post themselves signing and describe the reasons they sign.
We Love Sign Langauge: This page is very diverse! There are memes, quotes, shirts you can order, and videos here as well. What I love most about this is that they post resources for ASL learners as well such as the alphabet, and signs related to time.
InVisible REvolution: This page is more of an advocacy and awareness page than it is a resource for learning ASL itself. It’s actually a page for a documentary that will soon be released called Invisible Revolution. The documentary is about a mother who fights for the survival of her culture and her son in a hearing world. This page is just as valuable to me as the others that I use to learn ASL because I think the deaf culture and history behind ASL is so important to learn about and understand.
One of the hottest topics of education today and the globe in general is technology.
Where is the line between addiction, use, misuse, abuse? Is it good or bad? How old should you be to use it? Is there too much information online? Are the children growing up to fast in the hands of tech? What are the possibilities of using tech. in a purposeful way? How do we control predators? On and on it goes..
There is no doubt technology has changed our lives. Whether it has done human beings a favor or not is likely debatable. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts you will know that I am sitting on the fence between the two arguments. After our web chat with Alec Couros, I found myself leaning further toward the benefits tech. has provided.
Here are some highlights of what Alec discussed with us:
What has changed since entering the network world?
i. Content- there is endless information out in the world that is accessible at the click of a button (whoa).
ii. Information literacy- it is hard to desipher what is real or not on the internet. Of course there are many ways to prove or disprove the reliability of an article, but you just never really know.
iii. Identity verification- this was a fun one. We talked a bit about “cat fishing”. If you do not know what this is, here is a link to the documentary that coined the term:
In short, “cat fishing” usually involves people online who pretend to be someone they are not. They may use false images, false information, etc. They may attempt entering a romantic relationship with a person online and later ask for financial help for their own personal gain, or they may just want some connection. YIKES. That is what the internet subjects us to?! Yes… it can be scary, but such is life. Whether you are virtual or not, you always run the risk of challenges coming your way. Hiding from conflict and challenges can make for a pretty boring life… I think anyway.
Note: I found it interesting how laid back Alec was about how many people online have tried to pretend to be him and use his identity to target people on the internet.
However, if you take a minute to really think about it, it is not something that will end your life. If you are still super paranoid about this happening.. you can always highten your security settings on your social media presence but again that doesn’t always work.
My advice? Just do your best to use the internet as a hub for pumping out beautiful words, thoughts, and images. The rest is beyond your control.
iv. One for all to all in one- The biggest change we have seen in technology is the past: you needed a phone, a computer, a calculator, and a notepad to do three different tasks, compared to today: you have a phone that is built with all this and more into one device.
With each of these changes in mind, we know that our culture as a society has changed. In the beginning of this journey, tech was doom and gloom and scary to me. As I progress in this class, tech has become more of a friend rather than a foe. If you are in a similar place of fear and resistance, I hope you can someday find the beauty in tech.
Who ever would have thought we could go on virtual tours with our classroom in different parts of the world, video chat family you have not seen in years, connect with millions of people around the globe about anything you may need help with, generate new and engaging ways to teach and learn?
Where do we go from here?
There are so many positive contributions the networking world has made to our lives if only we can take the time to learn to use them in a meaningful and positive way. Here are some closing thoughts we had in our talk with Alec on how to move forward with tech:
Embrace and model connected literacies: show others how social media engines like Twitter can be used to learn for teachers and students i.e.posting articles, participating in chats, creating assignments via Tweets. Just because we are on social media does not mean we need to disconnect from humans and connect to computers.. be social, share your thoughts, meet new people, it can actually be amazing (perhaps you could meet some people you network online with in real life sometime?).
Make learning visible- tech allows for self directed learning. This does not only apply to our young ones but to ourselves and the older generation too! Read articles, critique them, share your thoughts, share your knowledge!
Develop student identity and voice- the internet can seem like a dangerous place. Teach students about positive digital identity and model it. Create real change.. if students are exposed to something they think is wrong or needs to be changed, let them act on it! Change goes beyong liking posts, it needs to turn into action.
For myself.. I am not yet entirely converted to the benefits of technology. I am heavily swayed, but still challenged by the drawbacks and disconnect that I so often witness in society. I plan to continue on my journey and find a way to revolutionize the internet and spread the word on the impact of quality digital education.
The tech world is a wand that sparks good or evil, it all depends on who is holding the stick.