7 weeks and 13 classes in 3:46

For my summary of learning, I wanted to demonstrate not only my learning from the course, but my #learningproject as well. I watched some other past projects that had parodied songs, and I came up with the idea to use my newly developed skill of playing the guitar, rewrite the lyrics and perform a song to summarize our learning.  I chose “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel because 1) it is a favorite of mine, 2) it was already in my Chordie.com list of songs that I had been practicing, and 3) although not a melodic masterpiece, it continues to stand the test of time with numerous parodies, covers, derivations and takeoffs.

As I started writing about the different technologies and concepts that we had covered in class, various lessons and experiences came to mind. It occurred to me that our individual journeys through the course had been just as varied as our backgrounds! I considered our special edition #saskedchat, and reflected that how we each felt about the experience had ranged from comfortable to cautious to chaotic! In reality, specific aspects of the course had offered a steeper learning curve to particular students. But, our class had created a supportive learning environment for everyone. That was the purpose in “contributing to the learning of others” and I realized that it was the effort I put into my online interactions that had led me to acloser understanding of some of my fellow classmates and their #edtech journeys.

I set about writing my lyrics; concepts, technologies and ideas pummelling the screen from my keyboard. There were so many that I had to decide what was most important, how to group them, and make them rhyme!  And as these ideas flooded out, they reminded me of different classmates. I had a brainstorm and sent a quick message to McKaila:


I once told my daughter that I really knew around 95% of the students in my Middle Years cohort. When she asked me, “What about the other 5%?” I became determined to get to know them too. It was the same with this project. I realized that it wasn’t enough to just randomly match a person to a idea, I wanted to choose something that was meaningful to that person.

I asked another classmate for a selfie, and then another. I thought of Val, and her frustrations with YouTube when uploading her videos. I remembered Brayden and his love of the Zoom Breakout rooms.  In typical “Amie” style, it became obvious that if I wanted to showcase my classmates, I would have to include them all.

So what started out as a quick video compilation turned into a long, interesting, insightful exploration into the blogs, tweets, comments and reflections of all of my classmates! I wanted to really listen/read/understand their struggles and accomplishments.  My goal was to try to capture and honour their learnings, but in the process I found myself responding to their inspirations, struggles and successes.

As my lyrics developed, I couldn’t stop there. I reached out to our guest speakers, to honour and include those who had made our class meaningful and relevant. I approached my PLN, taking to heart the idea that in life-long learning, we are both students and teachers.

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Believe it or not, all that I’ve mentioned so far was the easy part! Having never created this type of project before, I settled on Windows Movie Maker 2012. Although a steep learning curve, I found it was easy to use. While I awaited content from my peers, I borrowed a Capo from Kendra Leier and recorded my song using Zoom. Billy Joel once said, “It’s a nightmare to perform live, because if I miss one word, it’s a train wreck.” Considering his comment, I don’t feel so bad that I wasn’t able to record my version straight through. Adding all the pictures, changing the timing, and adding/merging 8 different music clips successfully all proved to be challenging tasks on their own. If I had to do one thing over, I would include subtitles because some of the lyrics aren’t as clear as I would like. However, at the end of the day, I am satisfied that it is a respectable compilation of our #ecmp355 learning experience.

So what will I take away from this experience for my future as a teacher?

  1. A big part of who I am is about making connections. Until this project, I don’t think I realised just how important it is to me to understand those around me. My favorite part was digging into my classmates’ reflections and trying to identify something that would have meaning for each of my peers. I hope I succeeded.
  2. I will definitely use Movie Maker again. I will also be looking for creative ways to incorporate technology into Grade 6, 7 and 8 Arts Ed projects in the fall. If you have ideas or lesson plans, I would love to hear them!
  3. Learning the guitar was a process! I started out very frustrated, and really thought I wouldn’t be able to reach my goals. However, I was determined, and I have developed the callouses to prove it! Learning a new skill as I head into internship is a valuable reminder of what it feels like to struggle. I will remember to treat my own students with empathy and encouragement, especially when they are learning new skills.

Finally, I am so glad that I decided to learn how to play the guitar! I set out to learn for both professional and personal reasons, and it paid off. I have improved significantly, and I know enough chords to accompany myself and others. I have found online apps like Chordie that will change the key to G or D, something easier for me to play.  Most of all, it gives me a creative outlet to express myself, which is perhaps the greatest reward of all.


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