Active Citizenship in Digital Spaces

After an in-depth conversation during our last class session, and considering what is going on in the world right now, I have had sometime to think about my role as an educator for promoting anti-oppressive behaviour. Much of our class’s discussion revolved around the Black Lives Matter protests, and some of the social media trends that have risen from this. As a Black man, it is uplifting to see so many people bond together by creating awareness about what the Black Lives Matter movement is about. The online world is a great way to convey information to people in a short period of time, and it can be very powerful. I have seen more people sharing resources and doing their best to educate themselves about the oppressive issues that Black people have endured for centuries. It is unfortunate that the murder of George Floyd has just now opened the eyes of some to how the racial discrimination of Black people has to change.

In our class discussion last night, we talked about how there is some controversy about whether to stay silent on social media platforms and online spaces in general when it comes to social justice issues. Most of this controversy comes from a place of discomfort because people do not want to say the wrong thing, or offend anyone. Personally, I feel as though speaking out in a professional manner is beneficial, but to be cautious with your language and word use. Speaking out shows that you’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in, but choosing the right words and conveying a professional message is extremely important. As a future educator, I believe in providing resources and interacting with people in a non-condescending way is the best approach to posting online content.

On the other hand, what you post online is important, but acting on and staying consistent with your beliefs that are conveyed to others via social must be replicated in the real world. Teachers and people in general can post just about anything they want to create a positive identity for themselves online, but can contradict those posts with their behaviour. It is also important to educate yourself and be sure of the content that you post. There is a lot of false information and underlying meanings in resources and posts. Gathering information from trusted sources is crucial, especially when you are sharing content on your own personal accounts.

Lastly, opening up conversations with students in a classroom setting is going to be the difference that we want to see in the world. The next generation of people are largely in the hands of educators, and providing them with an opportunity to learn about race and equality is only going to help them. It is an uncomfortable topic for everyone, but race needs to be acknowledged. Understanding that there is difference in the world, and accepting that difference is what we need to strive to achieve. Introducing race and the acceptance of race to students from early on in their schooling can be as simple as picture books and colouring activities. It does not always have to be an extremely intelligent and political conversation, especially with younger students.

Grandma’s Bun Recipe

This week for my learning project, I was faced with a bit of a challenge by using different technology to document my cooking. I have been just taking pictures of the step by step process of the recipes I have been using, so making a video was a new experience for me. Last week, I made shrimp jambalaya, which was a big success (but very spicy). This week was not as complicated of a recipe, but the process was longer because there was a lot of waiting time between certain steps. It was a nice change of pace, and good to learn how to make a simple food that is very versatile.

As for the tool I decided on, I contemplated a few different apps while exploring the EDTC300 collaborative tools list, as well as looking at some of my other classmate’s blog posts. I ended up settling on InShot after looking at Tracey Beaven’s blog post. InShot was very easy to use and I found it very fluid. The app is free, and has many features to edit photos and videos. I was able to add some of the music that the app provided, but there was also an option to add some of your own personal music from your iTunes library.

The app is homepage is very simple and gives you three options to choose from. When I picked the video feature, I just had to pick previously recorded videos from my iPhone. From there, it gives you the options to add text, music, add more videos to the existing video, crop the video, and a whole bunch of other awesome features. Adding and deleting content was also very simple just by clicking on the portion of the video you want to edit, and the pressing the delete button.

For the recipe, I only needed my grandma’s brain for help, but luckily she also had it written down on a piece of paper so I could follow along a bit easier. I was fortunate enough to have her guide me (and also videotape) because I have eaten a lot of her baking, but have never learned how to make any of it. I laid out all of the ingredients and followed her lead. (The recipe is the middle one).

The process itself was not very long, but putting all of the steps into one smooth transitioning video was the challenging part. It would still take me a few more tries to make the buns on my own, but this was a good start:

The simplified version of the process was captured in about 4 steps, but there was a lot of work in between. I definitely have a new appreciation for the work that goes into the buns that I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember. After reflecting on the baking, the entire process took a lot longer than I expected. The buns turned out very well and were very filling. The recipe ended up making 3 dozen buns.

Participatory Culture

In today’s world, there is always a new trend or some sort of new wave of something popular that catches the eye of people. A lot of this has to do with how accessible new information is by using the internet. Social media and YouTube are two of the most powerful influences in the world, and this has resulted in people feeling the need to fit in and be trendy. This phenomenon is described and given examples in Michael Wesch’s video “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube.”

The video raises some good points, and shows how the popularity of certain videos like “Charlie bit my finger- again!” can lead to a massive following of people replicating the video. Wesch bring up a solid point about how technology gives people an opportunity to express themselves and create an identity for the public to see. With the many forms of social media and technology, this helps others to gain ideas from the creativity of other people that they follow.

As it pertains to the classroom, I think that technology and participatory culture is going to help students and teachers because of the ability to collaborate and share ideas through different platforms. For teachers, it is awesome to see so many resources shared on places like Twitter, and it is almost like a small community. One of my EDTC classmates made a great analogy that teachers are borrowers. I think that is very true, and if you follow the right people and begin to network and build connections, it only helps to have more people to help out your career. Lesson plan ideas are one thing that really sticks out to me as an extremely helpful part of gaining other ideas from fellow teachers.

For students, technology is useful because it allows them to connect with different people as well. As a university student, there have been many times that I have had to use Google Docs to work on group projects. There would have been other ways that I could have gotten the group projects done without technology, but it is very convenient to have because all group members could work at their own pace and on their own time. I have had the benefit of seeing how technology has helped me as a student, and now as a future teacher, I can start thinking about how I am going to incorporate it in my class.

With that being said, it is important to find the right balance of the use of technology and finding other methods to get work done. Balance is key because obviously technology helps with the efficiency of many aspects of our lives, but to become to reliant on it reduces the amount of free thinking.

To follow someone’s lead is great, but keeping one’s individuality and unique characteristics is what makes people different and come up with new things.

Shrimp Jambalaya

After a simple recipe in week one where I made chicken caesar wraps, I was happy with my result and was eager to try something a little more complex. I decided to use a different source other than an online recipe, so I started looking through some cookbooks at my Grandma’s house for some ideas.

For the second week of my learning project, I made shrimp jambalaya. I got my recipe from Mario Batali‘s Big American Cookbook, on page 235. The book has over 250 recipes that are commonly used in the United States. It has everything from appetizers, main courses, and desserts. The recipe goes as follows:

Shrimp Jambalaya

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 pound of smoked sausage cut into half inch slices (I used farmer sausage, but andouille or kielbasa sausage is recommended)
  • 3 cups of basic tomato sauce
  • 4 cups Brown Chicken Stock (or water)
  • 2 cups of uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1.5 pounds shrimp
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Hot sauce for serving

There were a few components of the recipe that I wanted to search for some sources to learn how to make the process a little more efficient. The two videos that I found that where extremely helpful were:

And:

These two videos were very helpful to show a fast and safe technique to cut the onions properly. I also used a similar technique to cut the celery for my dish.

The step by step process for the jambalaya goes as follows:

Step 1:

Lay out all of the ingredients. (the shrimp is in the green bowl with water in it to defrost).

Step 2:

Cut up the green onions, onion, celery, and sausage

Step 3:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once it is warm, add the onions and the celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes.

Step 4:

Add the sausage and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Next, add the tomato sauce and chicken stock, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 5:

Bring the liquid to a boil, add the 2 cups of rice, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, and then stir. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 18-20 minutes until the rice has soaked up most of the liquid.

Step 6:

Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve!

The jambalaya turned out awesome. It was pretty spicy, so take caution when adding the cayenne pepper if you’re not a fan of spicy foods. I’m happy with how this turned out and would definitely make this again. This ended up serving about 8-10 regular sized portions.

Twitter Thoughts and SaskEd Chat

I have had a Twitter account since about 2010 when it was just starting out. My experience with twitter has been a very positive one and I find it very easy to navigate my way through the app. In the past, I have mostly used it to follow my favourite sports teams and keep up to date with what’s going on in the world, but I have never thought about using it as an educational tool until I took this class. From just 2 weeks of use for educational purposes, I see how Twitter can be beneficial in the classroom. There are a ton of resources for teachers, as well as connections to be made.

In my opinion, if used properly, Twitter can be a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom. During trying times like right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter is just another great online source for people to share ideas quickly. I am very fortunate to be in a time where things are so accessible through the internet and that I can make connections through websites. 

One dimension of Twitter that was new to me was the SaskEd chat that took place on Thursday, May 14th. I found the chat was a bit confusing to follow and difficult to find my classmates’ tweets, but I did like that it brought us all together and brainstorm ideas. From a professional development standpoint, I liked that it gave the opportunity to view some of the opinions of fellow teachers and engage with people who have similar or different thoughts compared to myself. 

Chicken Caesar Wraps

For the first week of my learning project, I decided to stick with something familiar by using chicken in a recipe. Chicken caesar wraps are a quick and healthy option for lunch that I’ve always enjoyed, but haven’t had the chance to make on my own.

I got my recipe from the Taste and Tell Blog, that has pictures throughout the process. I also found a short one minute video by Taste and Tell that outlines the steps in a fluent matter.

The only adjustment I made to the recipe has to do with the caesar dressing. I found a dressing recipe that I thought would be good by Just a Taste which is normally used in pasta salad.

Step 1:

I laid out all of the ingredients for the dressing, and the the wrap portion.

Step 2:

I mixed the dressing into a medium sized bowl. (Just a Taste recipe)

Step 3:

I cut and washed one head of Romaine lettuce, then let it sit. (I didn’t put the lettuce in the already mixed dressing because I didn’t want it to get soggy while I finished making everything else).

Step 4:

I cut up 2 chicken breasts into small cubes. Next, I put some olive oil in a pan, then cooked the chicken over medium high heat until fully cooked.

Step 5:

I crushed the croutons into smaller crumbs. I put them in a plastic bag, and used the palm of my hand to break them up.

Step 6:

I added the cooked chicken, crushed croutons, and romaine lettuce to the bowl of dressing, and mixed everything together.

Step 7:

I added the chicken caesar mix to a wrap, rolled it up, and then finished! For a quick video on how to roll a wrap properly, there are instructions in this clip.

Overall, this whole process was a good learning experience. I enjoyed making the dressing from scratch because I really wanted to experiment with a little bit of a different taste from a grocery store pre-mixed caesar dressing.

The wraps tasted delicious, and there was enough for 4 very full wraps split between 2 people. I would definitely use this recipe again. It was the perfect amount for a light lunch, but if I were to make this again I would add a small side dish for a little bit extra.

What Will Teaching Look Like in the Future?

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised many questions about the future of teaching, and society in general. The questions that many of us have are being speculated because there is no concrete answer to what lies ahead. I have had many discussions with family and friends about the possibilities that are potentially in store for us, including a discussion that took place on Tuesday night with Dr. Alec Couros’ class with some of my EDTC300 classmates. 

From the discussions I had in my small group of 4, as well as the discussion we had as a large class, a lot of us came up with similar answers. The Fall 2020 semester has already been announced that it will be taught using remote teaching in Saskatoon, and I’m sure Regina will follow Saskatoon’s lead. This has given me some time to debate the possible directions that teaching can go in the years to come. Remote teaching may be the case for some classes, if not all classes in the future depending how the Coronavirus situation develops. We also discussed the possibility of smaller groups of students coming in on certain days and teaching certain subjects on specific days to these small groups. The situation has also raised some thought about how parents would manage to have their kids at home more often than previous years. Adjusting to less in person class time would be something that teachers would have to consider, but also parents. 

At this point, it is difficult to imagine what the future holds for the world, as well as how teaching would look like. Fall 2020 will definitely be an adjustment for many students, and by 2025 there will be even more adjustments and technological advances. If we do end up going back to face to face teaching, there is a strong likelihood that there will be more options for teachers to use technology in the classroom. I’m looking forward to accessing more technology resources and getting more tools in my toolbox because the world is becoming more technology based.