HELLO {digital} WORLD!

When I was in grade 7, our Math class had one computer in the corner of the room. It mostly collected dust, but a few times a year the students would have a turn “coding” – going through a progression of instructional cards that would “teach” us how to make the computer do things. BASIC was a good word for it, because it was so directed and specific, it wasn’t even fun! Honestly, it felt like a foreign language. But, I would take my turn, follow the directions, and couldn’t care less when I successfully produced “Hello World” or this one below… (do you get it?)

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Photo Credit: nichestitch via Compfight cc

Once the digital age exploded in the 90’s and 2000’s, I was actually good at coding. In 1995 my employer asked me if I could recreate a job search app using Microsoft Access 2.0 – by copying the database architecture of a similar DOS-based program. Through lots of trial and error, I did it! In later jobs, I continued to be “computer-savvy”, and I eventually learned HTML, CSS and SQL, along with hardware, many more software programs (apps) and networking. People used to ask me how a university degree in Music had led me to be in the IT field, to which I replied that Music is very logical and mathematical. In fact, over 2000 years ago music was known as one of the areas of Science. The fascination with music and its affect on our world is still alive today:

 

So why do I digress into music, when I started by discussing coding?

I recently read the article This is Why Kids Need to Learn How to Code, and the author concludes that teaching coding develops problem solving, (digital) confidence and understanding the impact any of us can have on the world. I would speculate that developing these skills has always been important, and that they are simply repurposed skills which have evolved into the digital framework that we now need them to function within. The benefits of learning an instrument, which used to be so important in school, is perhaps evolving into coding.

Now, I may get some backlash supporting the continuation of music programs. I absolutely appreciate music and believe that it, like learning an additional language, develops different, important parts of the brain. We do need these subjects in schools. Perhaps a better way to frame my proposal is that the connections between music, languages, science and coding, offer a variety of cross-curricular opportunities that can enhance learning for students.

The benefit of coding is that students love it! There are a variety of apps available that allow for exploratory, differentiated learning that can engage everyone in the classroom. I have used Hour of Code before, so today I played around with Scratch, and found the  interface, although complex, has tutorials to help students learn how to navigate the program and their code. At the same time, it is possible to just play around and discover on your own, while building on the skills that you do have.

Staying on my music theme, I started with an alternating drumbeat on counts 1 and 3 for 8 beats. Then I selected Singer1, recorded my voice singing C, D, and E notes, and assigned them to the computer keys 1, 2, and 3. Then I threw in a backup choir singing a G note, a cowbell and if I didn’t have a lawn to mow, I could have kept going! The tutorial was interactive and gave me tips that I needed as I progressed. This definitely would appeal to the creative student, while organically teaching them coding at their own rate.

Scratch screenshot

Although this is a far cry from my first “Hello World” program, much of the logic is the same. Teaching our students to code using programs like these, in whichever capacity engages them, can develop the transferable skills they will need to confidently problem solve in the evolving digital world.

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The elephant in the room plays the guitar

So I wanted to give everyone an update on my #learningproject. You may have seen my last rendition of Brown Eyed Girl, recommended as an easy campfire song, courtesy of this site. I have still been practicing that one, so here’s a little update – with traditional chord fingerings, which is tricky with the C major chord:

 

Now you may be wondering, “where is the new material?” After my last post, I sent out a tweet to poll the Twitterverse as to what song I should learn next.  I was pretty excited that the winner was “Sweet Home, Alabama” by Lynard Skynard. It was listed as an easy Campfire song, however, when I went online to learn how to play it, this was the video I pulled up.

Frankly, as soon as I heard the picking, I thought, “what the heck did I get myself into!” Now, this video focused on the strumming, but to be honest, I was really overwhelmed by the speed of this video and after 20 minutes of struggling through this, and only kind of getting the strumming down, I totally bailed on this song (and hoped that no one would remember my poll!)

I went back to practicing other songs that I had been working on – mostly by the Beatles: I Want to Hold your Hand, Yellow Submarine, Let it Be and Hey Jude. It was pretty rough at first, but here’s a video of how it sounds now.

Since I was still struggling with some of my transitions, I decided to google “easy guitar chords youtube”. Much to my delight, I found Andy Guitar! Not only did he solve my transition issues, but he had a tutorial for Sweet Home Alabama! The elephant was still in the room, and he was playing a guitar! After a few minutes working through this video, I knew I would be able to tackle this song!

 

So here is my attempt, after only 1 day of practice!

So, granted, I was still super rusty, but I felt like Andy’s chord transition would help me with so many songs! I was pumped to be back on track and dying to see if it would help with my Brown Eyed Girl transitions. Here’s how it sounded, what do you think?

My next goals are to keep improving my transitions, and also finger placement. Andy has a tutorial about sore fingers caused by poor positioning, so I want to work on being more comfortable while playing.

I am building up a repertoire of songs that I practice, and I plan to keep Sweet Home Alabama in that rotation. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on it, even when it seemed impossible. Sometimes coming at things from a different angle is all that’s needed to get back on track.

Slow and painful plays the chord?

I officially have bruised my fingertips. I am definitely coming along with learning the guitar chord fingering, but boy, it is time for a break today! I am sure I will build up some callouses soon – the quicker the better in my book.

The upside; I am starting to memorize the chords. And I am having fun.

Want to witness what progress looks like? Take a listen…

And if you want to help choose my next song attempt, visit me on Twitter to choose from my 3 song choices:

 

 

Matthew Leupold, a work in progress

So my task this week was to cyber-sleuth a classmate, the lucky guy being Matthew Leupold! A simple Google search of “Matthew Leupold” brought up his Twitter handle and his blog. My guess is that these are the pages he updates most frequently.

In addition, Facebook generalized with a link to ALL the Matthew Leupold’s on the site. Being able to eliminate the others based on location (BC and Wisconsin were both out) and occupation (I wasn’t aware of Matt’s history as a Plumber or Drywall Hanger), I was no closer to finding a link to the Matt I was looking for, since his name is different on Facebook. If I wasn’t already friends with him, I would be hard-pressed to find him on Facebook.

When I searched ‘Matthew Leupold’ without quotes, I had to sift through the tennis player in California and the weight lifter in Akron, Ohio. That seems tedious, so I added double quotation marks around his name, along with Regina. The results were MUCH more likely to be our Matt, and in fact, mostly Education-related  as well. Same thing in Bing – matthew leupold without quotes returned a billion optical scopes – for rifles, I think. Add in the quotes and Regina, and you get a much better picture of our Matt!

Matthew Leupold… without quotes.  A Leupold scope, I presume!

matt leupold scopes

 

‘ “Matthew Leupold” Regina’ search… Much better!

Matt Leupold

As far as Matt’s academic career, there were a few discoveries I was able to glean from the internet:

  • He graduated from Luther High School in 2007
  • His fall 2014 placement for ECS 100 was at St. Bernadette School
  • in 2015, Matt uploaded a cool video reflection for ECS 302 on his YouTube Channel
  • He was recognized by the Faculty of Ed on April 6, 2016 for his achievements in the program.

And I can also share a fun fact about Matt:

  • In 2011, Matt played hockey in an adult rec league for the “Keg Sparkens” team. The player stats show that Matt scored 5 goals and 1 assist that season. I am guessing that was while he was employed at The Keg.

Overall, I found that Matt’s online presence is mostly about Education – through Twitter, his blog, and I can confirm that he attended U of R. I don’t think Matt has anything to worry about if his students, or a potential employer, want to dredge up his past.

 

 

Striking a pose, and a chord

So the #learningproject I decided to tackle is playing the guitar. I decided to dress the part, because as Edith Head said:

So I am dressing for it, at least today!

I am finding that there are many other skills I need to learn in order to document my learning! Just in preparing to learn, I needed to get really familiar with the Screencastify extension for Chrome… and found out that I can do tab, desktop AND cam recordings!  I recorded the video below all at one time, but I am not sure what I will do if I want to combine bits of video together or add voice overs afterwards.

I also needed a place to upload my videos to, since I have never uploaded videos online. During my pre-internship, April Hoffman and I recorded video reflections, like this one after “Wacky Wednesday” at our school. We just used April’s channel. Therefore, step two to produce this video was creating my own YouTube channel.

Lastly, I managed to upload my video to my YouTube channel, and edit the title and description. I even changed the video thumbnail photo using YouTube Video Manager and found all kinds of other things I could edit! Despite our course title, I was not expecting to have so many types of technology to catch up on in order to learn something that’s not technological! Also, I came into this thinking I was pretty tech-savvy. Even for an online learning project, there is a lot more to it than just googling resources!

So without further ado, here is my first video. You may have seen that I can “strike a pose”, but you will have to watch the video to witness my first chord.

 

Stay ‘tuned’ for more of my learning reflections, and please comment if you have any suggestions for me on the guitar learning. Oh heck, even the wardrobe is fair game.