Archive for February, 2017

Examining UNESCO’s Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy

Posted on February 21, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Masters, online safety, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

I read an article this week that discussed UNESCO’s launching of it’s framework for media and information literacy. I found it very intriguing.  Especially considering our EC&I 834 discussions around media, media platforms and Learning Management Systems (LMS). It gave me some insight into international thought regarding these learning outlets.

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It’s main purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration on these matters. Their 5 Laws have to deal with media engagement, creation, transparency, communication and acquisition. I am going to walk through each of the laws and discuss how I think it pertains to myself as teacher and the students who will be accessing my material for my online course.


Photo credit: Alton Grizzle and Jagtar Singh via

Law 1- I love how it mentions that information and communication are for use in critical civil engagement and that all media and information are equal in stature. Just because technology has come a long way, does not make books irrelevant. All types of media and information (MIL) are useful to help citizens engage critically. I also think Law #1 is trying to reveal that certain types of information are not more valuable than others. In the 30’s the German Student Union ceremonially burned books that did not agree with Nazi ideologies. This MIL law would condemn that practice and encourage all forms of information and media providers.

Our online course modules are trying to promote student’s critical civil engagement. In fact my module is going to be focusing on works cited and digital citizenship, which relates to this law quite well!

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-15-11-pmLaw #2- Media and Information literacy is for everyone! What a great statement! Men, women, and children all deserve access to new information and should be allowed to express themselves. China and North Korea are examples of countries that don’t believe in this MIL law. China censors their citizens through “strict media controls using monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists” (Xu and Albert, 2017). Basically anyone that can/will speak against the Chinese government is stopped. Have you seen this video of a BBC journalist trying to interview an independent candidate running for office in China? It’s terrifying.

North Korea has similar but perhaps worse censorship with their citizens. The Kim Jong-un dynasty spends millions of dollars each year indoctrinating their citizens with government propaganda that the Kim dynasty is infallible. They entirely restrict access to any outside media and information, and people like Kang Chol-hwan go to great lengths to smuggle it in. Read about that in The Plot to Free North Korea with Smuggled Episodes of Friends.
Law #2 seemingly empowers students to be creators of media and express themselves through it. In our course’s modules, each of my group members and I have decided that we will have a blogging/journalling component so that students are producing and publishing their own content on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. We are also trying to use many different tools that promote content creation rather than content consumption.


“Consolidation” photo credit: Sam Churchill via Flickr

Law #3- Is basically talking about all news we see today isn’t it? It seems that if the screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-6-35-48-pmcurrent Facebook article we are reading or sharing isn’t fake news, it is still riddled with some type of political undertones or journalistic bias. I could be exaggerating a bit, but I definitely feel like today’s news articles aren’t as cut and dry as they used to be.  It seems harder and harder to just report the facts, and easier for the journalist/author to choose “a side” and go with it. (I wonder if that’s because practically all of our news outlets are owned by the same people! See infographic above!) That said, if we don’t want our media outlets and information to support indoctrination and/or propaganda, we should make sure that we are teaching students (and parents) how to critically engage with media. They need to be taught how to question the message, and understand the information that is trying to be communicated… Especially if/when there are political


“Trump’s Fake News” photo credit: outtacontext via Flickr

undertones or hidden agendas. Can students (or teachers for that matter) spot Fake news? You can take Globe and Mail’s fake news quiz to find out! (I only got 4 right! But in my defence, I mistook some satire news for fake! …but still :|) Furthermore, this article discusses how the top fake American election news stories generated more Facebook engagement than the top election stories from the major news outlets. Scary right?

My group member, Adam Krammer is going to be doing part of his course module on quality research, finding reputable sites, and evaluating resources. I imagine he will touch on what students can do to avoid some of the aforementioned pitfalls.

Law #4- I actually need some help figuring out what this law means. screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-42-24-pmSo is it saying that
everyone wants knowledge even if they say they don’t? I’m not really sure I understand. Who or why would someone say that they don’t want to engage with new information or knowledge? Would this be like my North Korea example? They actually want new knowledge even if their government says they don’t? Please help me out friends, I don’t think I’m reading this one clearly enough!

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-48-48-pmLaw #5- I completely agree that media and information literacy are not acquired all at once. Classes like EC&I834 are great examples of this! Every time I take a class with Alec and Katia, I learn more about technology and its different tools. I am also challenged on the pedagogy behind the technology and how it pertains to teaching and learning. It has definitely been a lived and dynamic process for me, and my learning is ever changing and shifting. I don’t believe my MIL is complete as I don’t have knowledge in every area of access, evaluation/assessment, use, production and communication of information. I try to pass what I do know on to my students, and we grow and learn together from there.

Because I am focusing on digital citizenship and works cited skill development in my online course module, I have decided to try out some pre-made dig cit activities to engage the students within their level of media and information literacy. One of the activities my students will do in my module is take part in an online game by Common Sense Media. The game takes students through a “choose your own ending” type experience where they get to navigate through cyber-bullying, privacy, memes, ads, spam, good sources, behaviour and copyright to name a few. It is a fun and easy way to take a quick look at these various topics and test their knowledge on what they have learned. It is by no means comprehensive, but is designed to get students thinking about this content and how it pertains to them and their online media literacy.


“Information Literacy” photo credit Ewa Rozkosz via Flickr

When I was in high school there was a class called Media Studies. I didn’t take it, but imagine it was doing what this post is talking about- engaging with Media in a critical capacity.  High school teachers, is this still a class? If not, is it because critically looking at media belongs in every class? The more I dug into these MIL laws, the more I realized how important media literacy really is.  The term “literacy” no longer just means traditional reading and writing anymore.  It is our job as teachers to guide students into examining media and information literacy at a deeper level… in EVERY class.


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De-pathologizing refugee children’s ECE experience

Posted on February 15, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, eci814, educational, Kindergarten, Masters, teaching and learning |

This week’s chapters struck a chord with me as I was reminiscing on the types of play/activities I encouraged when I was teaching Kindergarten, and even grade one. I am embarrassed to say that it definitely did not reflect the culturally sensitive practices I read about this week.

In his book, Early Childhood Curricula and the De-pathologizing of Childhood, Luigi Iannacci speaks about how culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students are pathologized ece-bookbecause of their lack of English language. He encourages teachers to approach curriculum by asking, “Who are my students? What resources do they possess? Are these resources being accessed or ignored in lieu of experiences that may render them deficient?” (Iannacci, pg. 233)

Unfortunately I think my experience has been to mostly ignore these student’s culture, and try and help them learn English language and ‘Canadian’ culture. Don’t get me wrong…  We did country projects where students could learn about whatever country they wanted and bring a meal that represented that country etc. but I wasn’t honouring or upholding individual’s backgrounds and diverse experiences from home. I guarantee I was looking at these students from a deficit point of view, trying to figure out what they lacked and how I could help them “catch up.”


“Knowledge” photo credit: Sebastien Wiertz via Flickr

Iannacci speaks to how teachers can potentially help students become curriculum informants rather than information recipients. He encourages teachers to look at who the child is rather than what the child is. He believes that students should not be, “recipients of knowledge deposits and pathologized for their inability to meet pre-established expectations” (Iannacci, pg. 233). This caused me to reflect on my own practice and what I can be doing differently when I head back to the classroom after my mat leave.

Anna Kirova, in Children’s Representations of Cultural Scripts in Play, gave me some practical ideas on how I could start supporting intercultural learning within an early childhood classroom. She starts by suggesting that we get to know exactly what cultures/languages are represented in your class. Often times the information in the CUM folders is misleading and/or erroneous. We should be asking our students, their siblings or their parents about what country they are from and what language(s) they speak.  If at all possible, we should be bringing in people/family who speak these children’s native tongue. This shows that we value the child’s first language, and the adult may give us some amazing insight into cultural practices from their home country. It also signals the children that language “code-switching” is acceptable and an important part of learning a new language.

Another suggestion was to set up some play centres that encourage cultural practices within the classroom. The tea centre was an excellent example of this for me.  Many cultures/families drink tea, and though they may go about it in different ways, it provides


“Tea Party: Ms. Jen’s Classroom” photo credit: Meriweather Lewis Elementary via Flickr

an opportunity for students to role-play what they see at home.  Each child can model and explain to the other students how their family prepares tea, and a ‘tea party’ is such a natural way for students to invite their classmates into their experience.  The market centre was another excellent example of this culturally sensitive practice that invites a new and different understanding of this universal task of gathering food. The only issue Kirov alluded to with this centre was that if your refugee students were born in Canada they may not have first hand experience in any other market except the grocery stores here in Canada, so an adult or sibling with experience could come in to help.

The last and extremely easy suggestion these chapters gave was labelling the room in the children’s first languages. A parent or even Google can help with this! Labelling things like door, window, toilet etc. I appreciate this simple step to help students and parents feel like they are not only welcomed, but an integral part of the classroom.

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The Media Medium

Posted on February 12, 2017. Filed under: Eci834, educational, Masters, teaching and learning, Technology |

“Different epistemological positions and theories of learning affect the design of teaching, and these influences will also determine a teacher’s or an instructor’s choice of appropriate media” (Bates, Teaching in a Digital Age)


“Medium” photo credit: Steve Dashiell via Flickr

Quick rabbit trail: Canadian communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan, (1911-1980) proposes an interesting idea that the medium is the message. Read more about that here.


Ashley and Andrew both speak about how we need to be conscious of what media we 4016867844_ba341f087d_zchoose when we think about what’s best for our learners.I completely agree with them. When I was in my first year of education, I remember learning about multiple intelligences and how that affects student’s learning, but this is piggybacking onto that idea in a whole new digital realm.

I know that I am an auditory learner. I tend to retain more information through listening than I do through visuals or kinaesthetically. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that audio is my medium of choice when I think about learning digitally. I learn through listening when I am in a room with a person who is teaching me, but if I am learning digitally, I find that I need many more ‘links’ and ‘connections’ to make the same learning happen.

First of all, I find that learning digitally can sometimes be distracting. I find that multi tasking takes over and I sometimes don’t engage as deeply with content as I would have had I been in a face to face conversation.  That said, it does not mean that learning digitally isn’t better or just as useful. I love opportunities to learn digitally, often from the comforts of my own home. As a new parent, I love watching all sorts of YouTube videos about baby hacks like this one:

I also love listening to sleep training podcasts rather than sitting with a book.  I am a big fan of taking online classes where I can log on to my computer and not drive all the way to the University. I believe that when we learn digitally, the instructor needs to think critically about how they are presenting the content.

Bates says that teachers need to ask themselves 5 questions when selecting appropriate media/technologies:

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

These are important questions for any teacher to ask before we choose media options for our student’s learning. There are different tools/mediums to use depending on the situation.  No one tool will work every time. I can’t even say that I prefer one type of media to another. It all depends on what I am doing/learning.

One thing I appreciate is when professors/teachers give students choice when asking for them to display their learning. U of R professor Christine Massing has allowed this in her critical pedagogies of preschool class. She is allowing the students to respond to the readings through different mediums- text, audio, video, etc. I have taken advantage of this opportunity to use these different mediums, and each week I have tried to use a different form of media- written response, visual art, music, and video blog to respond to the


“Journalism and media students” photo credit: City College Norwich via Flickr

readings. I have tried to respond in a medium that is sensible and seemingly connects to my understanding of the readings that week. It’s been great how it seems like a different media can help you get across what you want, depending on the topic. It has also caused me to go deeper into the content and connect with the content in more ways. I wonder what this looks like for our students?

Speaking of choice, this article reminded me of Katia‘s tweet a couple weeks ago that shared how she wants to blog her dissertation. I totally understand this desire! I love blogging way more than traditional writing, as I find it can engage your audience in so many more ways. I love seeing a picture every few paragraphs that makes you think. I think referencing people/content with a hyperlink is so much more valuable and accessible than a reference list at the end of a document.  When you spend so much time thinking and researching a topic, as you do for something as big as a dissertation, I love the idea of it being shared with more people than the select ivory tower few. I think blogging is an excellent way to share knowledge, opinions, and information, and this is exactly why I use blogging in my elementary class.



All that said, it still comes back to epistemological positions and theories around teaching and learning. Media can support one’s beliefs, but should be rooted in solid “best practice” pedagogy. In my experience, if media is still just used as an add-on rather than a medium, it is not that beneficial to the learning experience and retention of content. What do you think?

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Children Who are Selectively Silenced (Muted)

Posted on February 8, 2017. Filed under: eci814, Masters |

After this week’s readings about selective mutism, I was moved to write a song. This was a song that was trying to describe the pain and tension in a child’s life when they are labelled a ‘selective mute’ even though they are just an English as an additional language learner. Here is a breakdown of the song. You will need to open it in a new tab, and then follow along with the breakdown.

  1. Measures 1-4 Depicts a baby.  The child is just finding their vocal chords and learning how to respond to their caregivers.
  2. Measures 5-8 The child is moving to toddlerhood where he/she is interacting and learning at an exponential rate.
  3. Measures 9-12 The child has learned a large extent of their language. They can dialogue, play, and interact within their language. The child has a wide vocabulary (depicted by the quick 16th notes and a few new notes added to the arpeggio)
  4. Measures 13-16 The child’s main tongue is developed and strong, but the tension builds (the notes get lower) as the child enters school. There is a definite tension as the child enters the new surrounding, and chaos builds as the child is thrown into something unknown and foreign.
  5. Measures 17-20 The child’s language abruptly stops. The child begins to acquire the additional language. Teachers think this is selective mutism, but the child is not choosing when to not talk per se, they are in a silent period where their thinking and learning doesn’t stop, but requires a silence that helps them learn and grow in this new language. (The left hand chords have changed and there is less of a minor sound, and more of a major chord which depicts hope rather than tension.)
  6. The last chord is held until there is no more sound left. This is to show that it is not the end of the story. The story and the languages continue…


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My failure with Garageband

Posted on February 8, 2017. Filed under: Eci834, Garageband, Masters, Technology |

This week I chose to dive a little deeper into Garageband, and I’m a little disappointed I did, as I did not end up with the amazing project that I was hoping.

I started with writing a song on the piano. I originally wanted this as the background music for a podcast type recording. I recorded it with GarageBand’s microphone on my MacbookPro.


First negative: The sound quality kind of sucked because I used my Macbook. On the loud parts of my song, the song becamscreen-shot-2017-02-07-at-9-32-31-pme distorted. When I have recorded piano music on my iPhone using Voice notes, this has not happened before. Note to self: always record piano music with the iPhone’s mic.

After I had the track in Garage band, I wanted to add some strings and synth sounds. Perhaps even some drums! I have used Garageband on my iPad before, and this was file-feb-07-9-52-42-pmextremely easy. T
he iOS version has “smart
instruments” where you barely need to know music and can make some pretty great mixes. I looked to add instruments on the Macbook’s Garageband, and foscreen-shot-2017-02-08-at-4-49-34-pmr the life of me I could not figure out how to get it to play! I could see the instruments, but all that showed up was knobs, and I was not sure how to make these play along with my music.


I figured the next step would then be importing my track from my Macbook to the iPad. Also a fail. After a ton of Googling how to’s, apparently you can’t do that! You can use the “lesser platform,” the iPad, to import to the Macbook, but not the other way.

After some more research, this worked. In fact, it worked better than I would have thought! Apparently there is an app that is called Logic Remote. It is built to connect your iPad’s Garageband to the Macbook’s Garageband.


Positive: Logic Remote connects your iPad to your Macbook wirelessly and allows for music live! I was able to play the smart instruments on my iPad in real time, and the sound came through on my computer.

BUT… there was one issue. It wasn’t sounding right. The smart instrument, though in the right key, was not blending with my piano score.  I tried to switch keys, and the music was still not blending.  This is when I realized my fatal mistake. Apparently I had left the default key of C major on my original piano track when I recorded even though it was written in E major. I figured I could switch it later- but it was too late. When I tried to switch the key once my track had been recorded, Garageband actually transposed it up and down. I had no idea it could even do that! There was no way of blending the music in the original Garageband track.

Negative & Positive: Garageband has the capacity to transpose your music. It’s great if you need it to be transposed, but crappy if you don’t want it to be.

So after numerous tries, and copying and pasting my track into another Garageband file with the right key selected (where it wouldn’t play anyways by the way) I gave up.  Unless I want to re-record my piano piece, (which is practically impossible to do again without mistakes) I decided to just leave it. I learned a lot about Garageband through this process, and that will have to be good enough for me.

Summary of pros and cons


The iPad has a very easy to navigate Garageband interface.

Logic Remote was an excellent tool to connect the iPad to the Macbook’s GB.

Garageband has the capacity to transpose your own music, mostly likely using Midi.


I wasn’t able to navigate the Macbook Pro’s Garageband very easily. Could not figure out how to add instruments to my track.

The quality of recording through Garageband on the Mac was not good. It distorted the loud parts of my song.

Garageband transposes your music to a new key if you want to change the default key after. This is problematic if you don’t know music well, and don’t know which key you are playing in, OR you don’t change it immediately which is what happened to me.

Garageband would not let me sign in with Google to share to SoundCloud. I had to use Facebook to sign in, which I don’t usually like doing.

It was time consuming, so I didn’t even get to my original plan which was making a podcast. I’m sure that part would have been the easiest part anyway!

One last con… I am trying to embed my track into this post, and everything I have looked up says there should be an embed tab on Soundcloud’s share page. Well mine doesn’t have one, so you will have to click on the link to hear my piece if you want.



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Moving to an Asset Based View of Special Education

Posted on February 1, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, educational, Masters, Privilege, reflection |

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