Love and Literature in School

Tech Task #7: a podcast from yours truly!

The examples I use in there relate specifically to teaching English literature, but I feel the principle is the same for any subject.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson poem at the end can be found here, along with the rest of his work.  The group of writings entitled ‘Conduct of Life,’ from which ‘Beauty’ originates, can be found here (‘Beauty’ is in part 8).

Enjoy!

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Edmodo vs. Schoology

Battle royale!

…Teachers have the most boring battles, it would seem.  This saddens me.

 

 

 

 

 

But! On to the topic at hand.  Edmodo and Schoology are both social media-based sites where teachers can connect and communicate with their students.  The sites are designed to let teachers give out assignments and feedback, deliver grades, keep track of attendance – all that good stuff.  In class, Ashley Parker and I got together to compare/contrast the two sites.  Now – everyone seems to prefer Schoology, but I found that I actually liked Edmodo better.

Both sites were free, and allowed teachers to give/students to view their grades.  On both sites, teachers and students could add resources to a library (from their own computers or from the internet), and both sites had simple, Facebook-like designs that just about anyone could navigate with a minimum of difficulty.  Teachers could send out assignments from both sites, and could send messages to specific students or a group of students on both sites.  However, I found that Edmodo had a few features that Schoology did not.

  1. Edmodo allows teachers to create tests and quizzes right on the site.
  2. The Edmodo help section was organized much better – it included categories and common questions, whereas the Schoology help section required us to use a search box to find a specific topic.
  3. Edmodo also provided a code for parents, so that parents could go online and look at how their child(ren) were doing, and so that teachers could contact them directly if necessary.
  4. On Schoology, grades had to be accessed from the home page, but on Edmodo, the link to a student’s grades could be accessed from any page on the site.
  5. Schoology allowed students to create a profile of interests and activities they enjoyed, like a Facebook profile, but Edmodo took it a step further. They allowed students to create a profile on how they personally prefered to be taught, which I think is much more relevant and useful on a school site. (This was my favourite feature.)

There were really only two things that I felt Schoology did better than Edmodo.

  1. Schoology allowed students to view their attendance records along with their grades.
  2. It was easier to delete my account on Schoology than on Edmodo.  For Schoology, I had to click a link; for Edmodo, I had to send an e-mail to tech support asking them to delete my account.

All in all, I found Edmodo provided a more complete service, and was quicker and easier to sign up for and use.  However, again, they were both designed in such a way that I think students would find them easy and appealing to use, insofar as education is ever appealing to most students.  Neither of them should be particularly difficult for parents, either, because even a lot of parents have Facebook pages, and these sites are likely quite a bit simpler than Facebook.

I could see myself using one of these sites in my own classroom.  The tools available on both sites would make at least a few of my jobs much simpler, and I do so hate to have my time wasted.  And that’s about all I have to say about these two sites, so…

…I was right.  That wasn’t really an exciting battle at all.

*sigh*

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Based on this documentary, I am going to answer this question from the study guide:

Do you think you can argue your creativity when it’s based on another artist’s work?

 

I would like to start off by saying that…people have overcomplicated this issue so much more than is necessary.  Well – I say people, but I mean corporations.  As far as I’m concerned, creative copyright should not extend to anyone who did not actually create something.  If it’s not yours, dear lord – just let it go.  It doesn’t belong to you.

But I digress.

I believe that you can argue your creativity even if it is based on another artist’s work – to a certain extent.  Yes, many forms of art and creative media are based on works from the past.  Artists learn their trade by watching other artists, picking up bits and pieces of what they like from everywhere.  That is only natural. Before I could draw, I traced pictures from other artists.  Then I stopped tracing and started simply looking at the way they drew forms and objects.  Even now, when I create only my own artwork, it would be a lie to say that the style I have now is completely my own and not cobbled together from a hundred different sources.  Somewhere along the line, everyone who creates something has looked at something or someone else and thought, “Hey…I like that.  That gives me an idea.”

But then, of course, I am reminded of something Mark Twain said:

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.  The world doesn’t owe you anything.  It was here first.”

The world does not owe you anything – including the tools you seem to think are necessary to your creative art.  There is no law that says your creative license is without bound.  Nowhere is it written that you or anyone else has the RIGHT to create whatever you want from any source at any time, no matter the situation.  I believe that there are certain copyright laws that should be upheld, especially if the artist is still alive and/or has asked that their material not be used.  I know for certain that if I found out someone had taken a piece of my writing or my artwork and used it without asking my permission or giving me credit, I would be upset.  There is such a thing as showing respect to other artists.

Of course, I think most people – including the makers of the Remix Manifesto – understand that some things should not be part of public domain – at least while the artist is alive.  This issue only really seems to get complicated when corporations claim the copyrights to things they had no hand in creating, and then expect everyone to treat them with the same respect due to the original creator.  In that case, I would say the corporations are being as disrespectful, if not more so, than someone who would take an artist’s work without giving them credit.  They have taken something that was created as a work of art and turned it into a tool for obtaining money for themselves, and as far as I am concerned, that is theft and a betrayal of the public trust.

In the end, I think what it comes down to is this: be respectful.  If the artist is still alive and they don’t want their material used, don’t use it.  If they ask that you give them credit, give them credit.  Even if they aren’t alive, or they don’t ask for credit, give it to them anyways, because that’s the polite thing to do.

And as far as corporations are concerned, well…as much as the past might try to control the future, it can’t hang on forever.  Right now our future looks like it will be less free, but just think – someday the people of our generation are going to be the ones running the corporations.

Nothing lasts forever.  Not even copyright.

Romeo Was an Idiot

Tech Task #6 said that we had to use one of the tools on the list to create a story.  My intention was to use Sketchcast, but the site wouldn’t work for me.  I tried out a few of the others, but they weren’t really doing it for me.  In the end I had simply decided to upload my own artwork onto ToonDoo to make a comic, but then I realized…that’s ridiculous.  I can just put the pictures right on my blog.

I sketched this out on paper, scanned it into my computer, and used my tablet for inking/colouring/text, so it is digital artwork.  I don’t know if that counts, but here we are in any case.

Romeo Was an Idiot…

…And Juliet Could Do So Much Better.

A.k.a. It’s Not Always the Prince Who Sweeps You Off Your Feet.

A.k.a. Don’t Trust Men in Obnoxious Yellow Capes.  (Except Robin.  Robin is Okay.)

A.k.a. I Have at least Ten Other Titles, But I Will Spare You (This Time).

(For the record, though, I don’t advocate kidnapping as the way to anyone’s heart.  Flowers probably would not actually go over very well in that situation.)

(Also, I coloured it that way on purpose; I was not just being lazy.  I like the way it looks.  So.)

….Anyways!

I think that storytelling in any capacity is invaluable in the classroom, whether it uses digital resources or not.  I have heard it said, and experienced for myself that it is true, that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.  Storytelling is a way of teaching – certainly it’s one of the methods I most prefer.  Often when I set up a lesson or a presentation, I design it like an act in a play.  There’s room for audience input, obviously, but overall I know my lines and I know the direction I want to go in.

That’s storytelling: knowing who your audience is, what you want to say to them, how you want to say it, and what medium you want to use.  I believe that everyone should be taught the ability to tell a coherent story.  After all, from sports to politics to schools to churches to our groups of friends, we are surrounded by tales and accounts and anecdotes on all sides.

As teachers, our job is to prepare children for the world outside the classroom.  Considering the world’s trend towards digital media, then, it is quite obvious how important it is to teach them digital storytelling.

….And that’s all I have to say about that.  Have an awesome day/evening/week/etc.!

Priceless: Mexico

I was having a difficult time trying to think of an idea for this video that hadn’t already been done – weddings and graduations aren’t really my cup of tea, as these things go.  And then I realized I was idiot, because I had the perfect thing sitting right under my nose the entire time.

In the spring of 2010, my Christian Ethics teacher took some of my classmates and I (about twenty-five of us in total) on a mission trip to Vicente Guerrero, a small city of about 20, 000 people on the peninsula off the west coast of Mexico.  We spent about a week there – ten days in total, including travel – building a house for an impoverished family of four: Gorge and Angelica, and their young son and daughter, who were named after their father and mother, respectively.  We weren’t there for long, but that trip was one of the most eye-opening, astounding, disturbing, wonderful experiences of my life – it was really and truly priceless.

(I have been informed that Mrs. Therese Durston, the teacher who took us on that trip, is taking 55 grade 11 and 12 students to the Dominican Republic this year on a similar venture.  These trips take ages to organize and fundraise for, so good luck to her!)

Credit for the passport picture goes to David Yamasaki on flickr, and it can be found here.  The rest of the photos are mine from the trip.