Surprise! I Like Coding!

Last week I had never even heard of coding in the classroom, and now it turns out I actually don’t mind doing it all. Whenever I thought of coding, I always imagined some hacker in a dark room typing really fast creating “codes” without exactly knowing what they were. Turns out, they are just instructions for what they want the computer to do.

I began exploring the Hour of Code and found it so intriguing I had to do a second one. I did a quick little screencast (my first one I might add) of the first couple steps of the Frozen hour of code to give you all a little taste of what it’s like. Check it out through the link below.

I think I like coding because it’s so technical and logical. That’s the way my brain works. I like math and science – things that have a right answer, and that you can use formula’s so figure things out. I think coding follows that pattern and you have to logically think things out.

I think that’s why it’s so beneficial in school. It allows kids to critically think about the things in the world around them – including computers which are such a huge part of our everyday lives. We can’t take those things for granted without trying to investigate how those things work. It’s important to have a critical mind that is always learning – this is just another opportunity to do that in a fun and engaging way. I encourage you all to check out coding and see you how do!




KAGOY – Kids Are Getting Older Younger


Image source

I know I’ve seen picture like this often and give a little nod in mutual understanding, but this essentially makes light of a much larger issue. The acronym above is from the documentary ‘Sext up Kids’ by the Doc Zone that I watched earlier this week. I also watched, for a second time, ‘Sextortion of Amanda Todd‘ by the fifth estate. We only had to watch one of them for our ecmp355 class, but after the first I needed to continue to understand what was happening. And I’m a sucker for documentaries.

Both documentaries really make a person look around and open their eyes in a way to the world. Kids are being bombarded daily by social media, toys, clothes, and books pushing sexualization. One of the scariest things from that first documentary was that advertisers have found ways to advertise straight to kids rather than through parents. Whether that’s online, through tv, or toys kids are wanting to look and be older when they should be outside, using their imaginations, or playing with their friends.

Because, I think when we look at the sextortion of Amanda Todd, this is just one result of this sexualization. Boys have expectations of girls and can find them online, and girls have ingrained in them what they think boys want. This sexualization at a young age is becoming ingrained in kids when they are at such a crucial point in their development. Before they have time to figure out who they are and who they want to be we have everything telling them what they should be. I would compare it to the picture of a frog in water, if you throw him in a pot of boiling water, he will obviously jump right out. But if you put him in and slowly turn the heat up, he doesn’t even realize he’s boiling to death. I think society as a whole has been increasing the sexualization of EVERYTHING, and now all of a sudden it’s at a point that is impossible to control.

With technology becoming so widespread and common (it’s now rare if someone doesn’t have access to the internet 24/7), if kids want to go online they will. We can put all kinds of filters and restrictions up, but at the end of the day kids are sneaky. Now part of our job is teaching these kids how to be kids. Giving them real, authentic experiences and expectations. Giving them the freedom to be kids, and to figure out for themselves who they are and who they want to be. However, this is difficult. So let me ask, what are some things you think we can do to change this generation of sext up kids?


You Are Too Kind

Not you. Well, maybe you. I may not even know you so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. I’ve been continuing on with my learning project of learning the countries and their capitals (yes, all 200).

So far I’ve nailed all the countries and their spelling (98% of the time). The capitals are proving to be a bit of another story. For one, they are not talked about or as familiar as the countries. Most of us can recognize the names of countries and even probably tell you what continent they are on, but the capitals – most of them I’ve never even heard of. Which is crazy! Well, maybe not crazy but I do feel more educated the more I learn.

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So here’s how I’m doing – from this quiz – I’ve got the countries down, and the capitals…I have a ways to go. I find that when the capital is given to me, I can usually figure out what country it belongs to. It’s when i look at a country and try and figure out what the name of the capital is that I struggle.

So back to the title. I was working through the capitals of Oceania in the library while studying (or not studying) for a test with a friend. As I was complaining about how difficult it was, she plainly asked why I would even try to do this. Which was good for me to look back and remember why I started this process. I want to have an increased global awareness and to be able to relate even on a small level with the news that constantly bombards us on twitter, facebook and tv and even to people as Canada has such a diverse place. I help out with a conversational english program, and we have people who come from China, South Korea, Ecuador, El Salvador, Uganda, Spain, Uruguay, and India to name a few. I love that I actually know where these places are. Maybe it’s selfish to just be happy that I know things – but I think it’s more than that and it’s increasing my awareness and also desire to learn more about global culture.

So I told my friend that in not so many words, and she said how incredible it was that I could memorize all of them and she would never try. She was too kind. But the fact is there are many things I cannot do. That’s the point of this learning project – we are stretching ourselves and trying new things, and developing new skills. Whether it’s building on a previous one or starting from nothing.


What’s Your Role in Changing the World?

I think one of the best uses for technology has been when it is used for positive change. What a better platform to spread your cause than the world?

As I was sifting through my feedly account this week, I came across an article called Changing a Changing World : Teaching Social Media for Social Activism. What a great connection to what we’ve been learning about in our ECMP355 class. I wanted to share the most powerful line from the article with you because it’s too good to just keep for myself.

“Facebook and Twitter will never replace voting or marching, but it’s a tool to organize; a way to convince your friends to register to vote or be aware of a cause.”

Though technology does not replace certain rights and ways of supporting a cause, it can provide awareness and empowerment to others who are passionate about the same cause as yourself. One organization that has embodied this is called World Camp and I had the opportunity to be a part of it in the summer of 2014. This organization was founded by a group of college student in 2000. They saw a need for improved access to quality health services, education, and resources through community-driven initiatives in Malawi, Africa. I found out about this organization through technology and the university.


Above is one of my classes that I had the privilege of providing education too with the assistance of my translator, Chimwemwe. This organization has been able to expand and grow to include not only an education program, but a healthcare program as well. It has grown through the use of blogs, twitter, instagram, facebook and email. This organization was started with a group of college students who wanted to do something to better the world, and then acted on it. I encourage you all to check out their website. They are doing incredible things in Malawi and working to bring about local leaders of change! With international women’s day happening yesterday, I wanted to share another photo with you. We were able to spend time with all the women in the school for an hour each day we were in the villages to give them encouragement, answer questions, and empower them.


What incredible women!

Now a word of empowerment to you kind folks. I’d ask you read and consider another article, What Role Were You Born to Play in Social Change? Yes, technology is able to spread awareness about the social issues we are passionate about, and we can encourage our student to get involved and to become socially aware. And then they can act on it! Through technology we also have countless opportunities to choose from. Start your own organization, your own campaign, your own world-trending hashtag, or your own blog simply raising awareness. The article I just mentioned has the different roles in social change – the advocate, the helper, the organizer, and the rebel – and how they can be used positively or negatively. So which role will you play?

I can't get enough of these smiling faces!
I can’t get enough of these faces!

Too Much Information? You Decide.

It takes about 142.18 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie pop.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

A normal raindrop falls at about 7 miles an hour.

In a world where we can google almost anything, and with limitless information at our fingertips, how do we decipher what is important and what isn’t? The facts I shared above are interesting and weird, yet also completely useless. I mean, who cares if “stewardesses” is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand? Or if catfish are the only animals that naturally have an odd number of whiskers?

I’ve been thinking about these things as a result of my learning project (which is going great by the way). I’ve learned the names, locations, and spelling of all the countries of the world, and am pretty well done the same with the capitals of all 200 of those countries. Then I thought to myself, what should I learn next? The flags? Other important cities? The currency used? The main language? Maybe I should learn a language. Or sign language. Or brail. Or maybe I should learn morse code. That could come in handy one day.

I’m currently taking a history class as my elective on Ancient Rome. Why do I need to know anything about ancient Rome? Will it help me in my life to know that Appius Claudius Caecus created the manipular army formation that won them the Third Samnite war in 290 BC? Probably not.


If you’d like, here is a whole site with 77 ways to learn faster so you can pack as much knowledge (useful or not) into your brain as you want. But don’t be fooled. There are also articles dedicated to the opposite, such as this one called “Know Your Limits, Your Brain Can Only Take So Much.”

So how do we pick out useful information and discern what is worth our time learning? Or what is worth remembering? I’ve asked a lot of questions in this blog that I don’t have the answers to. I’m simply pondering and sharing those thoughtful insights with the world at large. I would, however, love to hear (or read?) your thoughts!

What Does Your Commitment to Reconciliation Look Like?

Last Wednesday evening, I tuned in to a live stream of a lecture given by The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair who is the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The following bio was taken from the TRC website.

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He was such a powerful speaker and said a lot of things I think every educator and resident of Canada needs to hear. He talked about the impact of residential schools, and he described them not as educational institutions, but rather welfare systems. The more I think about what I already know, the more sense this makes. They (we?) didn’t want to educate these kids to their full potential, they wanted to get rid of the “problem”. Every child was abused in some way. I’m going to say that again so it sinks in. Every CHILD was abused in some way.

Justice Sinclair also talked about the hiding of aboriginal identity from others, as well as themselves. I don’t think anybody can argue that identity is unimportant. If you have to hide your identity, what does that leave you? I’m not going to answer that but I would invite you to think on it.

I don’t feel like I can do justice to this talk. It was powerful, inspiring and an eye-opener. However, I will briefly touch on his call for us. He mentioned we need to understand each other and that this is not a one-sided conversation. Yet we also need to be realistic and that we can’t carry around this anger forever, but we must never forget, which I think is the essence of the TRC and what Justice Sinclair was speaking too. He declared that we have a lot of work to do (which I don’t think anybody can deny), and that we need to make a commitment to reconciliation. I would encourage you to take a look at the TRC, and to make your own commitment to reconciliation. I would also ask though, what does your commitment to reconciliation look like?