Learning Danish

In anticipation for my trip to Denmark I have been learning some basic Danish through the DuoLingo app ! It has been really fun. I created an Explain Everything video to record what I have learned. I used pictures from my favourite children’s author Oliver Jeffers – all the drawings in the video are his. 

Explain Everything is a great app to become acquainted with as a teacher. There is tons you can do with it and I’m sure my little video hasn’t even gotten close to all the awesome things. It was however, a nice little introduction into the app. I will be sure to use it again – maybe I will be able to use it during my practicum and to add to my Danish knowledge. Here is my video… 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi9chkeGlWg

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Code.org

I was introduced to code.org earlier this year. It is a great tool to encourage problem solving skills for students. It has also proved very effective in my tutoring sessions. Students really react well to it as it feels like they are just playing a game, when in reality they are developing crucial problem solving skills – used all through life. I have never been too good at computer science but code.org makes it easy and accessible for even those of us who never thought we’d understand computers. One student I tutor loved it so much he was trying to get his mom to call me on the weekend because he wanted to do more coding. It helped me connect to him and we built a strong tutor-student relationship because of code.org. 

Here’s a link to our bounce game:

http://studio.code.org/c/82003997 

Using Sport as a Political Platform

I have been passionate about exploring politics within the realm of sport since my undergrad. I had the opportunity to research this topic even more for an online class I’m in right now, here is the presentation I created. I used Quicktime screen capture, a portable voice recorder, and garage band to put it together. It was really quite easy and very accessible to use these types of tools in the classroom. I would definitely use this idea in the future with older grades – especially for those students who don’t feel comfortable presenting in front of the class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h4oK4Al_Sk 

Fear = Thinking + Time

My first lesson idea is inspired by a new podcast from NPR called Invisibilia. The Invisibilia podcast investigates the invisible forces that act on our lives and control our behaviour, such as ideas, emotions, assumptions etc. The episode I will be exploring delves into the wonders of fear.

Many (surprisingly not all) of us feel fear. It happens inexplicably, and is often a difficult emotion to understand. It was the TED Radio Hour podcast entitled “What We Fear” that describes this emotion in a way that really struck a cord with me.

The speaker was explaining a scenario where you are walking through the jungle at night and hear a rustle in the bushes; you jump back and begin to run. It could be the wind playing tricks on you, but there is also the deadly possibility that it is a hungry creature waiting to pounce. It is your initial, fearful reaction that enables you to survive. In other words, fear has evolved with us to allow us to survive as a species.

Fear is often stigmatized; a person who is fearful is frequently seen as weak or pitiable. Explaining fear as an evolutionary trait can help relieve the fearful from feelings of shame. Fear isn’t always negative – being afraid of snakes or the dark may, in fact keep you alive (if the snake is poisonous or there is a murderer lurking in the dark). Though fearing too much can be debilitating. Here sits my first idea for bringing this podcast into the classroom. Part one of the podcast looks into a young woman’s world with no fear, and can help fuel this discussion. Ask questions that lead to a philosophical debate – which would have a more negative effect on your life, fearing too much, or fearing too little? Each would exhibit its own unique consequences – but which one is worse? You could also use this as an opportunity for a writing activity – “What I would do if I couldn’t feel fear.”

Fear can be extremely debilitating and can take control over our lives. I’ve been trying to think of some of the most common fears in a classroom setting, such as public speaking, math exams, or rejection from peers. These are events that happen everyday in school and may be having a larger effect on your students than you realize. Bringing these ideas out into the open can help students acknowledge them and then try and move past their most draining fears. This discussion could turn into a writing exercise. Have students write from the perspective of their deepest fear – maybe a poem or a short story.

For science, you could study the part of the brain that enables you to feel fear – the amygdala. This could also lead nicely into a lesson on stress and the fight-or-flight response.

Another idea I had was to do a book or novel study on a text with fear as a key motif. For example, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Witches, Hamlet, Life of Pi etc. explore fear in a variety of ways. I’m sure there are many picture books that explore this as well.

Here are some of the resources I used to come up with these ideas:

http://www.npr.org/2015/01/16/377517810/world-with-no-fear

http://www.npr.org/2015/01/16/377519199/disappearing-fear

http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/312542881/what-we-fear

http://blog.ted.com/2013/01/02/the-top-10-classic-fears-in-literature/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/kasiagalazka/invisibilia-episode-two-fearless?utm_term=.ghJ8MDrDWx#.dyWoXAmBbn

Happy learning,

ms.p

Are you Listening?

Last semester I created a podcast about supporting introverted students in an extroverted world. I provide a number of suggestions – some that come from the professionals (Susan Cain and Julian Treasure), and others that are just reflections of my experiences as an introverted learner. I hope you find it helpful !

ms.p

podcasts

Well, as anyone who has spent any time with me knows… I love podcasts. I listen constantly, and have found quite a few that have me anxiously awaiting the next episode. I even made my own podcast last semester (and will share it just as soon as I learn how…). I started listening to podcasts this past summer on account of my excruciatingly long drive to and from work. I felt awfully unproductive during those hours spent in my car and thought I might as well be learning something on the drive. The first podcast I listened to is called Radiolab – and it is still by far my favourite. Radiolab appeals to the science nerd in me while interlacing aspects of philosophy and humour.

Although I first started listening for my own interest and benefit, the teacher in me is proving to slowly but surely take over my mind. Now, every time I listen to a podcast I’m thinking of potential lesson plans, or ways that I can bring ideas of the episode into my future classroom.

I have decided to adhere to my inner teacher and write these ideas down in the form of a blog. I will be posting links to the podcasts I’ve listened to with potential ideas and lesson plans that correspond nicely. Please feel free to use what you’d like and ignore what you don’t.

Happy listening,

ms.p