Alright, Let’s Do This One Last Time

 Your last post should be an in-depth reflection on how your inquiry went. What you learned. What advice you’d give someone starting a similar inquiry.

Image result for marvelSince January, I have focused my free inquiry on superheroes and how they can reflect North American culture. I have covered topics like the difference between Marvel and DC, Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and finally, how women are portrayed in comics. I had in mind to talk about many more topics, like the representation of people of colour, anti-heroes as a literary foil, and how the X-Men represent the struggles of LGBTQ people in the 80s.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to talk about the subjects. Although, if you are interested, there are plenty of video essays on these topics. I will link some at the end of this blog post (along with some that I enjoy about comics in general).

Overall, I think I learned a lot over this blogging series. The biggest take-away for me is that nothing should be taken at face value. Dig a little deeper, find the hidden meaning or the easter eggs. The world is more exciting than you could ever believe sure, we don’t have superheroes but, our world is still full of wonderful things. Use a critical eye and question everything but, still have fun.

Comics are a wonderful medium that can be written for children or adults, depending on what you take away. Much like animation, comics are often pushed aside as something for children, don’t believe that. Take a leap of faith, find joy in reading comics and imagining yourself as the hero. For anyone else considering looking at comics, do it. Start with the fun stuff then delve deeper into the societal elements shaping comics (or really any form of media).

I’ll leave you with this, one of the best Spider-Man stories ever told.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned some new things.

For more information on comics and comic book movies, here are some of my favourite video essays:

One Last Time

 

Image result for birdsHere it is, folks, the last post for our music class. It’s been a rocky road getting here, especially with the pandemic on everyone’s mind. Still, I would like to imagine that everyone is choosing to be kind and practicing distancing. For me, distancing meant lots of more time to spend playing my ukulele, maybe I will also have time to pick up the piano again.

Although, for this class, I am happy to report I have finished both songs on my ukuleles. My original song took longer than expected, and my cover didn’t take as long as I thought. As I originally expected, I wrote a love song. Although, not a very happy love song. Here is a video:

 

For my next song, here is Birds by Thomas Sanders:

Thank you for joining me on this journey, I hope you enjoyed my singing and playing. I loved getting the chance to practice my instruments and fine-tune my skills.

Until next time!

Coding (Scratch)

Image result for scratch

Today in EdTech, we learned about coding and using scratch to teach coding.

I have used the Scratch coding program before in Grade 10 during my Technology class. I made two stories using scratch at the time. Although I am unable to find them know, which is probably a very good thing. For today’s class, I followed the Hour of Code’s Google Doodle tutorial.

Because I did not create an account, I do not know how to share my creation on this site. Still, I had a lot of fun creating my doodle, I made all the letters follow each other in a circle starting from the end. My prior experience with Scratch and coding made this experience a little easier.

Scratch could be beneficial for creating a cross-curricular lesson plan in Computer Science and Language Arts. Students learning a second language (like French, Japanese, or Spanish) could create a dialogue between two characters while also learning the basics of computer coding. Students in English Language Arts can recreate a scene from a novel/play they are reading in class. Much like Twine, students could also create their own stories if they want to be creative.

Community Resources

In summation, all three of these cloud-based servers offer valuable resources for both educators and students. There are paid resources, like Microsoft, and also free resources, or those with little to no cost, like Google. It is up to the school district or principal to decide which system will be implemented and is best for their learners. It is important to keep in mind the budget of the school and grants that are available to support technology in the classroom. 

Here are some useful links to decide which system will work best for you: 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/

https://education.microsoft.com/en-us

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/05/02/microsoft-education-empowering-students-teachers-today-create-world-tomorrow/

https://products.office.com/en-ca/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/apple-teacher/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/products/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teaching-tools/

https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teacher-resources/

https://teachercenter.withgoogle.com/

https://www.google.ca/docs/about/

Happy Learning,

Kiya, Catrina, and Madeline

Music (Quarantine-Style)

For a lot of people, myself included, the past few weeks have been crazy. Which is probably the reason why I haven’t been posting as much as I should. With school being moved online, my mystery illness (probably the flu), and general panic about the pandemic, it’s been hard to focus on music and songwriting.

Image result for wave the good place

Quote from “The Good Place” picture created by Yeekonline on Redbubble.

Songwriting, I have come to realize, is incredibly difficult and very vulnerable. Personally, I believe that the best songs tell a story. Which is why I want to tell a story with my song, a love story.

As I posted in my last blog, I want these lines to act as a chorus, “Together they lived, together they died, together they departed this life. They say that death is the crown of life. But this is the story of how they died.” Yes, I’m aware that I am rhyming the same words but, who cares?

I’d like there to be a circular narrative in the story, starting and ending with the idea of the permanence of death. Starting with a graveyard, the graveyard I went to visit. On a sunny day, with no other sounds but birds.

1.

Birds, the only sound.

Sun creeping through trees and clouds.

People dead, tucked safe in the ground.

There’s no way they’re coming back now.

2.

The rainy day dampened the mood,

But still, the girl began to swoon.

She knew that they’d meet again soon,

She didn’t know that the world was cruel.

Twine and Zoom

 

Image result for zoom

For today’s class, we all stayed home. Although, there’s a little bit more to it than that. Because of the current pandemic with COVID-19 and health officials recommending social isolation, UVic has closed for the remainder of the term. No need to panic, since we still have video conference calls. Last week, I was a guinea pig for video calling for a possible shutdown, we used the BlueJeans system. For today’s class, we used Zoom. As the New York Times puts it, “teenagers have jokingly referred to themselves as ‘Zoomers’ online for years; now the name is literal.

Since most schools across the world have been shut down, many professors are turning towards conference calling as a solution to lectures. Zoom is a pretty good system that also allows for screen-sharing. This feature came in handy for our class, as we were doing group presentations. One pitfall of Zoom, and all other video-conferencing systems, is that it requires a laptop/tablet and a stable internet connection, which not every home has access to. I do think it is a really cool operating tool, and it could be interesting to see whether more people decide to use Zoom in the future.


Image result for twine website

Not only did we use Zoom, but we also looked at Twine. Twine is a story-telling website that creates choose your own adventure stories online. Twine also introduces the idea of coding to students. I think that Twine would be beneficial for Grades 5 and up. In my schooling experience, we started writing our own stories in Grade 6. I believe Twine would be good for students who don’t want to draw pictures and would rather focus on the story. Twine would be good for combining computer science and English language arts, by teaching students about how the system works, and how computers/coding helps build the system.

As a fond reader and storyteller, I really enjoyed playing around with Twine. I got really into my story and will probably keep writing it after I post this blog.

How Each Platform Supports Education

Microsoft

 

 

As a university student, I have used many Microsoft applications in my schooling thus far. For the most part I have used Microsoft Word and Powerpoint for all my note-taking, paper writing, and presentation-making. It is a real advantage as a Uvic student that we get these products for free. In terms of how Microsoft supports education they often offer their application bundles at a discounted price to schools and districts around the world. Additionally, their website had this to say “Microsoft introduced a set of educational products and services, inspired by teachers and students, including a new Windows experience, called Windows 10 S; new experiences in Microsoft Teams for modern classroom collaboration; new features in Minecraft and mixed reality to spark creativity; a range of Windows 10 S PCs for K-12 classrooms; and the perfect Windows 10 S device for college students—Surface Laptop.” Other than these educational products and services, Microsoft offers a useful feature for teachers called “Educator Center”. In the “Educator Center,” teachers can make use of many features to better their classrooms. The first feature is Courses which helps teachers learn how to use Microsoft technology effectively in the classroom to engage students. The second feature is Learning Paths which focuses on skill development or mastery of Microsoft products and offers a collection of courses for deeper learning in a topic. The third feature is resources and lesson plans which offer ideas, classroom materials, and ready to use lesson plans to guide students in their development of future-ready skills. All in all,  Microsoft has been around the longest and considering that it is continuously updating and getting better with time, it is the most reliable software we should be using in Victoria schools. 

Microsoft Education: Empowering students and teachers of today to create the world of tomorrow

Microsoft Educator Center

Apple

 

 

 

 

Apple supports both K-12 education and post-secondary education. For post-secondary students, Apple provides discounts on their devices (such as Mac and iPad). Apple stores also provide sessions to teach coding and talk to creators that use Apple products to create art. Apple also provides discounts for buying class-sets of iPads for schools, learn more about how iPads can be used in the classroom here https://www.apple.com/ca/education/products/. This link also provides statistics on how iPads in the classroom contribute to student achievement. 

Similar to Google, Apple offers an Apple Teacher https://www.apple.com/ca/education/apple-teacher/ learning program to help teachers build confidence in using technology in the classroom. Apple also has created two apps to support digital learning in the classroom. These apps are called schoolwork and classroom https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teaching-tools/

Apple provides many resources for teachers https://www.apple.com/ca/education/teacher-resources/. One unique resource is Everyone Can Create, which encourages creativity through photography, art, video, and music to incorporate into any lesson. Apple provides Teacher Guides with sample lesson ideas and integration techniques for different subject areas. Apple also is a part of ConnectED since 2014 and has donated 100$ million to schools to improve their technology education.

Google

 

 

 

 

Google Classroom was launched in 2014 and allows teachers to build a virtual classroom where they can invite all of their students to join. Classroom allows teachers to distribute information to students and parents easily, and post and grade assignments online. 

The Google Forms feature allows teachers to conduct quizzes through Classroom, as well as grade them for efficiency. There is also a Google Classroom app that allows students to stay connected even when they do not have access to a computer, so it is a great option for teachers who want to have an online platform for their classes, so that students always know where to find dates and resources for the class. Classroom is well-organized and even has an “upcoming” box at the top of the page where students can view upcoming assignments.

Google has many fantastic resources that support education. While they inevitably require the use of technology, they are accessible for students, teachers, and parents. Google also provides courses and Google Educator certification for teachers who wish to use the many tools Google provides to their fullest potential. In Google’s Teacher Centre (LINK : https://teachercenter.withgoogle.com/ ) found on their website, Teachers can find information about these courses and certification, resources from other teachers as well as Google, and groups of like-minded educators they can meet and collaborate with. 

During the current pandemic that is causing the closure of many schools, universities, workplaces, and even national borders around the world, Google is going above and beyond to support distance learning. Google is providing Hangouts calls for up to 250 people, live streams for up to 1,000 viewers, and the ability to record and save meetings to Google Drive, and all of these features are free until July 1.

One note is that since Google keeps its information in the United States, teachers should be cautious of what information they put on the classroom. They may need to have information release forms signed if they wish to release any images or identifying features of their students.

Danger of the Femme Fatale

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog! I did not update last week, so, this week there will be two updates on my blog. Today’s blog relates a bit to last week’s topic on Wonder Woman, and as it was International Women’s Day over the weekend, what a better time to talk more about women in comics. Although, as I said last time, women in comics have not had the best history. Today, I would like to focus on the over-sexualization of women superheroes in modern comics.

The over-sexualization of characters started to become more prevalent in the late 1980s, and it occurred with both men and women. Male superheroes were drawn with bigger muscles and broader shoulders, while women superheroes were drawn with bigger breasts, long legs, and impossibly thin waists. While both were more sexualized, women were given more revealing costumes and were drawn in more sexualized positions. One example from 2014 includes the first variant issue of Spider-Woman, which I have included to the left. Lots of people were not happy about this cover. So, how was this cover created in the first place?

What I believe the main problem is with blatant over-sexualization of women in comics is that is there are not enough women artists and writers in the field. The cover above was created by Milo Manara, a comic book artist that is also known for his work in erotic comics. While I appreciate Marvel’s attempt to add more women into their regular rotation of superheroes, this cover would not instill any confidence in the women I know in my life. The history of this sexualization started with the fact that mainly men were reading comic books. So, why would they need strong or accurate female representation in comics?

Maybe men in the past didn’t want to see it, but now more women and girls are reading comic books. For me, I would love to more superheroes that looked like me and the women I know in my life. I would also like to see female superheroes with realistic armour and proper protection for their battles.

I will end this post with a photo of the marvel men drawn like women.

Slideshow Presentations

Microsoft – Powerpoint

Microsoft has one of the most widely used presentation applications for businesses and schools everywhere. Microsoft Powerpoint was initially launched in 1987 by another company named Forethought, Inc but was soon acquired by Microsoft for $14 million. Powerpoint is identifiable by the trademark orange colour and capital P logo. The use of Powerpoint is to allow users to display information from simple presentations to complex multimedia presentations. In Powerpoint, text, graphics, movies, and other objects are placed on individual “slides” to present. “Slides” is a reference to the old fashioned slide projector.

As a Uvic student, I use Powerpoint daily. Almost all of my professors exclusively upload Powerpoints to our class websites (coursespaces) for download. We use Powerpoints as class notes, explanations for assignments, as a visual reference for presentations and for many other functions. While making my own presentations I prefer PowerPoint templates to other competing presentation software and I find it the easiest to use and navigate. 

The only issue with Powerpoint is if groups want to collaborate they would all need Powerpoint. As I mentioned last week with the surge in Mac users in universities, most students have Keynote by Apple. Moreover, whenever we collaborate in groups for presentations we often find ourselves using the collaboration function of Google Slides because all of us have G Suite accounts. I think this is most likely because most people do not know that Microsoft offers collaboration, or at least one member of the group doesn’t have Microsoft apps. 

 

Apple – Keynote

Keynote is the native presentation application for Apple. Keynote was first introduced in 2003 to compete with the most common presentation software at the time, Microsoft Powerpoint. Some of the features of Keynote include adding transitions between slides, including graphs from Numbers or photos from your iCloud devices, embedding YouTube videos, customizing the toolbar above the slides, and using another iOS device as a clicker while still being able to read presenter notes.

Keynote has a similar set-up to Pages and is still very user-friendly to children. Once students learn how to work with these tools, they could create a multitude of projects on slideshows. Students could create slideshow presentations on projects and subjects that spark their interest. Students could also create storybooks using Keynote, using each slide as a page to tell their stories. In some of our classes last semester, people created posters and handouts using slideshow presentations by changing the size of the “paper.”

Similar to Pages, Keynote can only be useful for collaboration if everyone has an Apple device. If the school uses Mac or iPadOS, then Keynote would be an effective presentation application to use. Although, I believe most students lean towards Google Slides or Prezi for presentations.

 

Google – Slides

Google Slides was created in 2006, approximately 20 years after Powerpoint, and just three years after Keynote. It inherited many of the perks that come with being part of the Google empire and is an easily accessible application for users. It is free with a Google account, which is a manageable standard to meet for anyone with access to technology. Google Slides shares similarities with the other Google applications in that it gives the option of sharing and working simultaneously with others. It also is available on any device, and refreshes instantly, eliminating the hassle around switching devices and updating versions on a USB every time an edit is made. This allows groups to collaborate easily, even from afar. There are also applications available for IOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry which increases accessibility. Google slides has some catch-up to do regarding their bells and whistles, aka transitions and effects. The design is still sufficient for those who want a well-laid-out presentation, but someone looking to pull out all the stops might opt for one of the above programs.

As well, media can be embedded into Slides presentations, but videos are limited to Youtube or those saved to your Google Drive. This is slightly more constrictive compared to Powerpoint, where you can embed videos from any source. If these pitfalls are a problem for you, or if the platform is crucial to your presentation, remember that Google Slides is compatible with Powerpoint. This means that you can collaborate and create with your Google project, then convert it to a Microsoft presentation if needed. This process works vice versa if you do not have internet connection or prefer to do your work on Powerpoint, before converting it into a Slides presentation. 

Overall, Google Slides is a solid option for creating presentations, whether they are for professional or leisure reasons.

From Kiya, Catrina, and Maddie

Remote Learning with Minecraft – Week 10

Today, I was not in class because I have a not so great cough. Instead, we used a platform called BlueJeans that allowed me to have a video/audio feed of the class. Downloading BlueJeans was fairly easy. Although starting our class, the audio did not work until we switched laptops. Overall, BlueJeans was a good system. There were a few times where the video or the audio would cut out for a moment, and I would have to wait a bit for it to come back in.

However, that was not the main topic for today’s lesson. In class, we learned about Minecraft from a Middle Years teacher who has used Minecraft in her class for several years. Heidi James spoke to the class about how she used Minecraft as an educational tool and how she allowed students to complete projects using Minecraft over the traditional slideshow presentation.

Heidi allowed our class around 5-10 minutes to just explore the controls and the world of Minecraft before freezing their avatars. An effective method for classroom management when using games as learning tools. She told us how Minecraft can engage learners who might struggle in traditional learning environments but focus whenever they are playing the game. Although she did stress that the students are playing under strict guidelines from the teacher. Her students usually play in a private world that they helped build.

Heidi brought some of her students along to talk to the class about what they can learn using Minecraft. One student mentioned building landscapes in Minecraft then painting them, and another mentioned that Minecraft sparked his interest in architecture. Minecraft can also be used to teach students about math, specifically perimeters/areas, ratios, and coordinates. Students could also build Ancient Civilizations as a part of the Social Studies curriculum.

Finally, we visited the Minecraft Education website and looked at some of the lesson plans they have available. I love history, so I looked at the ones they had available there. I found one about creating a Coat of Arms that I think would be cool if you were studying Medieval England. You could have all the students pretend to be knights or lords and ladies of the court.