Steph’s Final Reflection

Final Course Reflection

I’ve been putting off writing this because I still feel like I’m deep into it. I’ve been working away everyday since we’ve “finished”. Even during the actual classes I was spending every afternoon working on assignments. Thank goodness we have until Sunday to get everything complete because it wouldn’t have happened for me otherwise. I find it a lot of work. I’m continuously toggling back and forth between blogs, our notebooks, twitter, storify, and still researching what the heck to do for a complex explainer. I will knock one out before Sunday but I’m still not sure what it’s going to look like. I think like the presentation, I’m totally overthinking it.

I came into Ed366 with concerns about missing some time. It was fortunate to see on our learning contract that there was room for variation. So in an attempt to make up for missing class participation points, I decided to do everything possible on the rubric.

I didn’t count on how much fun I would have in the course. Not only by meeting (and liking) everyone, but having fun and gaining confidence figuring out the course material. Once upon a time, not long ago, if a website wanted me to “sign-up” or enter my email address I’d bail immediately. But a week later and I’ve signed up for Padlet, Jing, Prezi, Storify and Slack and become more familiar within my existing (but often neglected) google docs.

One aspect of the course that hit home for me that I never really chatted about was the “digital citizen” discussions. Over the past few years I’ve had a few experiences of struggles in that arena. A relative of mine is a very public figure who came under a ton of public scrutiny and was humiliated and bullied in the media for several years. I would choose not to watch certain segments on TV or read certain articles on the internet but it was impossible to escape the negativity all together. Unknowing fb friends would post stuff, leaving me with the dilemma of do I report? Block and delete? Ignore? Argue back? I didn’t necessarily know which was the best route.

So within the frame work of this course when that topic arose it was refreshing to hear positive comments about sticking up for people and remembering those that are the target are still people with feelings too. And just because something appears online or in the media doesn’t mean it’s true. There are two sides to everything.

I think Dave is a great instructor and I think our class gelled awesomely. I was honestly a little bummed when it was over. I’m glad to hear a number of us are reunited in a few weeks for the assessment course, although I’m doubtful it’ll be the same fun atmosphere we experienced in #ed366!

Over and out peeps

Steph’s Article #2 Response

The second article I chose to read and respond to was written by another UPEI professor, Greg McKenna. It is titled “Can learning disabilities explain low literacy?” This was a study done in 2010 and I’ve chosen to focus on the report that came as a result of that study.

Learning disabilities can be defined as “a condition giving rise to difficulties in acquiring knowledge and skills to the level expected of those of the same age, especially when not associated with a physical handicap.”
Those who meet diagnostic criteria often have the benefit of government grants, tax incentives and the mandatory legal provision of their specific accommodations to be met by educational institutions.

While, “low literacy is a hidden problem. Many adults with low literacy have developed coping skills that enable them to function quite well in most situations. Low literacy does not mean low intelligence. This group does not receive additional supports educationally or financially.

They are two separate issues, however both have a similar outcomes. A deficit in the area of reading. While one group benefits from government assistance, the other does not. I ask your opinion, is that fair?

This study differs from most because it focused on adults as opposed to children. It looked at variables such as gender, age, education, income and employment status. It also looked at secondary variables such as parent’s level of education, co-occuring disabilities, remedial reading, and reading practices at home.

Some interesting findings were that gender was found not to be a considerable variable, however age was. Also there was a strong correlation between LD’s and co-occuring disabilities with vision or hearing. Educational attainment and level of income were found to be significantly and negatively associated with LD.

Given the number of individuals with low literacy skills, a significant concern is that only a relatively small percentage are receiving remedial services while in school. The study found that intervention should not be contingent on a specific diagnosis of LD, nor should services be withheld until a formal assessment and diagnosis is complete. (McKenna)

I agree with this as diagnosis can be a lengthy and expensive process that many families choose not to go through. But it would be beneficial to access supports and services.

Steph’s Article Response #1

The article I chose to read and respond to was one of Dave Cormier’s. The title is “Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum”. The link can be found here.

Rhizomatic Education : Community as Curriculum

In this article the traditional concept of education is challenged. What we think education should look like. How curriculum outcomes must be met and measured by an expert at the front of the room who’ll assign your work a number grade. Is that really the best way? Or just the way it’s always been done?
Also Dave explains further the concept of rhizomatic learning. I touched on that term briefly in a previous blog post and was interested to read up further on the topic.
“The rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions.” (Cormier)

The challenge herein is that one must be mentally prepared to stretch and think more globally. I personally love the idea of community knowledge sharing. I think some of my best coursework has been completed in that way. However, I recognize not everyone will embrace a change in that direction. It means accepting fluidity, and fluid can mean messy. It can mean giving up control and shifting toward negotiation.

Whether we were aware of it or not, we were in the midst of rhizomatic and community learning throughout our Ed366 course. The first email outlining our choice of optional assignments, was laying the groundwork for the negotiations that were to follow. Recall our discussion on changing point values for different assignments. Not too often to students have a voice in the grading rubric. Then some assignments were nixed all together for one reason or another. But the plan was flexible and able to be modified as our circumstance as a group changed.

I’m sure for many of us, things seemed overwhelming at first. It was new. It wasn’t clear cut. But it gave us the flexibility to choose an entryway and exit strategy that was right for each of us.
Some questions came to mind as I was reading and I’ll pose them to you all now. If communal learning is key and of benefit, then why is Wikipedia not recognized as a valuable or credible resource? I have my own opinion but I’d like to hear yours.

Secondly, will anyone implement a negotiated rubric/learning contract into their own classes? Why or why not?

Steph’s Slacker Blog

Haha, how fitting that this post be a day late. Organization has never been a strong suit of mine. I’ve literally re-done reference letters and other documents because my logic was, it was easier to re-do them instead of storing them and later having to find a workable copy.

I currently save everything to my desktop. This is not a great practice, and the IT guys tell me not to. (I do it anyway). Then when the course ends or a student graduates, I can delete the file and never have to look at it again. Out of sight out of mind. Maybe that’s a visual learner thing?!

I think part of my problem is, not understanding why my work has a T-drive and a G-drive and all that stuff. I’m certain there are lots more, but like I said I avoid them. And folders, ugh….that’s another layer of invisibility and frustration. Maybe I need a separate course just on that stuff.

I too am guilty of not naming anything. During this course, when we opened up our Google Docs, I near panicked at the quantity of documents in there, unlabeled. Some Sociology some Ed stuff. I think it’s great that Google just saves stuff automatically. But I’m learning that too can quickly pile up into a mess if you ignore it long enough.

So Dave is right about making time to organize. It may be painful for those of us who don’t naturally do that sort of thing.

But….”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” –Quote from my Grandma

Steph’s Long Distance Blog Post-Self Assessment

Hi All,

Wow, missing a day really throws me off. I find I’m a very auditory learner. I retain most of what we say in class everyday, and I usually sit down to write these blogs easily.

However not being there for the discussion has put me at a disadvantage. Simply reading the article is not nearly as fulfilling as being there and being a part of it.

Perhaps you could say I’m in the process of “Overcoming Isolation”. Maybe not super well, because I’ve isolated myself in a hotel bathroom while my family sleeps to write this post. But really, I have experienced this as a student before. I’ve often chosen distance courses. The have lots of perks like scheduling work and family commitments. But they are usually the courses I get the lower marks in. I chalk it up to, they don’t get to see my winning personality and therefor my work is just another paper in the stack.

I definitely prefer a more “Active Learning” environment. But I think this is tricky, you need to be engaged in the topic, and be motivated to do well. I think many students are used to having the answers spoon fed to them, they’ve got to remember them for a short time, and then they can let it go. Whereas if they had chosen to actively seek out knowledge that they wanted, I think it would rank higher on Bloom’s revised taxonomy and therefor stay in their brains longer.

Controlling Learning Behaviors – This sounds more like some Jedi mind trick stuff that I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around. So the method of assessment, can play a role in defining student achievement? If so that’s interesting and I hadn’t thought of that before. Maybe I’m totally missing the mark but my way of looking at it was, ok students now “get it or they don’t” and then assessment of that happens independently from that. Hmm
(I’m going to read up more on that).

Diagnosis and remediation. – I can see this happening in the adult years. When people have had time to gain confidence and maturity and have had time to reflect and self diagnose. In Wycliff’s blog he spoke about his experience with having an LD. Those who took Special Needs of Adult Learners taught by Greg McKennna may recall that I’ve since self diagnosed as having a math related LD. Now I can’t speak for Wycliff, but I know that wasn’t something I was aware of or ready to tackle as a youth. Even as an adult the remediation side of things is not something I’m prepared to take on at this point. (Perhaps someday though, if I ever change careers to be an accountant.)

Student Responsibility for Learning. – We had a side discussion in class earlier in the week where some of us chatted about students not always being prepared for college, or not even really wanting to be there themselves. Parents had “made them go”. I’d bet those students are not actively learning, nor are they really taking responsibility for their own learning. Perhaps they’re just a warm body in chair waiting for the bell to ring. However, despite that frustration instructors may feel, there is the other side of the coin. The students who do really want to be there. The ones who upgraded, and got volunteer hours and reference letters written so they could be there. Those are the ones who’ll work on these topics and strive to do the best they can.

Wooo, sorry got a little long winded there. Perhaps it’s a situation of, I’m not super clear on what to write, so say a whole bunch and hope some of it makes sense…


Steph’s Day 4 Blog-Holy Cow Mind Blown….

Soooo, I read Dave’s article and thought to myself…”What the heck is rhizomatic learning?” So I googled it. Here is the definition…

“Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads”. -Nov 5, 2011

I thought to myself, YES! This is totally the way I love to learn. I am a creeping root stalk. This is great, now who said this quote? Where did this definition come from?

Guess what? it was our own Dave Cormier!! I think that’s pretty cool.

As a student I like having the choice a scaled rubric provides. I like to know “If I do (x) amount of work, I’ll receive a grade in the 90’s”. It seems to work really well in adult learning. Many of us have other commitments with jobs and kids etc, and a course we’re taking may not be priority #1 everyday.

My first experience with this style of grading was with a course I took last summer. There was a lot of work to be done if you wanted to land near the 90’s. Most opted for a comfort zone of a decent grade while still having some evenings free and a little less stress. I chose to challenge myself and aim high. Basically if you attempted the upper levels you’d get there. It meant an additional research project and presentation in front of the class. Fortunately it paid off. But what stuck with me was, some people were kicking themselves later for not having tried the higher level.

At the high school where I work, teachers are beginning to co-construct rubrics with their students. It’s a collaboration and negotiation, much like we all experienced today in class. Now I’m finding that some students who have a history of struggling are finding it much easier, now that they know what is expected of them.

In closing, I liked this lil pic…

Steph 🙂

Steph’s Day 3 Post

I thought today was really fun. We as a class had a lot of laughs. I saw a lot of people helping others around the room, and I for one learned a lot. My partner Nik and I worked really well together, there seemed to be a mutual respect that happens with adult learners, where we find value in each others experience. Unfortunately our presentation ran into some glitches but hey, live and learn right? Now that I’m home on reliable wifi, I can see the back end stuff of our google doc form. It’s pretty neat the way it tallies responses. More on that tomorrow.

I thought the Jing session was neat, I’ve never attempted to use voice over software, but have benefited from it before while watching tutorials (mostly for boring “how to cite blah blah blah” type stuff.)

Slack was cool too. I was finding it kind of tricky, like I was in “random” instead of “general” and I may have been chatting to a “bot” at one point. Then I just got kicked out altogether, but it is something I’ll check out further another time.

I was interested in Prezi too. I’d seen them presented, but had never been familiar with the process and how it rolls out. Khan Academy is something I’d be interested for my own kiddos. Powtoon I had a tiny bit of experience with, but I’d taken a different approach than Christine and Brent. I had used pre-made sample videos then edited them to fit my needs. The way they demonstrated in class seemed way more user friendly.

Great Job Everyone!


Steph’s Day 2 Blog- Article Response

While reading Dave’s article titled “WHY WE WORK TOGETHER – CHEATING AS LEARNING” I found myself thinking about Bloom’s Taxonomy. Specifically as it pertains to recalling information as opposed to understanding it and being able to apply and analyze it.

If you’re not familiar with Blooms old or the new revised version I’ve included a pic which helps to make sense of it.  Basically the lower on the pyramid the smaller the likelihood of students using it in the future in a meaningful way. PS The pyramid on the right is the newer version used today.


The further I read down the article, the more I began to challenge my preconceived notions of what learning “should” look like. In my brain, there’s like a stock photo of a student at a desk with a textbook and a teacher at the front of a room at the chalkboard. (How dated is that?!) When in real life, the “Aha moments” that have stuck with me throughout my education are of times when I was having fun, challenging myself, working either hands on or in collaboration with other people.

This thought lead me into “Learning Styles”. I know I’m very auditory, when I’m engaged and hear what is being said, I’ll recall that for a very long time. Whereas on the flip side, I can remember virtually nothing I read out of a textbook. I’ve included a link to a quick survey that determines ones learning style. It only takes a minute so feel free to check it out and see if it applies to you.

In the article Dave also mentioned the term “student centered” which is a term I hear a lot within the school system. I think this concept must be increasing challenging for teachers to meet all the various needs and skill levels of learners, all while recognizing everyone learns differently.

Steph’s First Day of ED366

I’m feeling the flow of a lot of learning and networking happening. It seems to be a supportive, work at your own pace environment. Today I’ve resurrected my long forgotten twitter account. It was good to see some familiar faces from previous classes, and the opportunity to meet and work with some new people.

The idea of blogging is still brand new for me. In the past my only blog experience was reading the odd mommy blog I’d seen linked on Facebook. Oh, and my friend’s daughters blog about her adventures teaching in Vietnam. Although I enjoyed those I never thought I’d be writing one of my own.

I like stretching out of my comfort zone. I was actually surprised at my growing confidence with technology since starting courses here at UPEI. I’m becoming more comfortable with Blackboard Collaborate, Google Slides, Powtoon, Power Point and Twitter. Today went rather smoothly for me technologically. A year ago I would have had a minor panic attack at the thought of anything computer related (outside of Facebook that is). I’m now at a place of, hoping to expand on and learn some new techie skills. As well as some new platforms to use.

I really like having choice when it comes to assignments for this course. I like the flexibility the syllabus provides. However,  I did feel like a bit of a tool when I learned classes were over on Tuesday the 12th. I was really thinking they went until Friday the 15th. Ooops!

It seems as if there will be a lot of content to cover in a condensed time frame. The shift away from the online moodle courses, where tests are given in a multiple choice format, with lots of heavy textbook reading is refreshing for me. I like the idea of a course like this one. More open concept and challenging that encourages you to think for yourself. I think we’ll really get out of it, whatever we choose to put in.

Thanks for reading my rookie blog post!