A day at EdCamp Victoria!

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This past Saturday, I attended my first edcamp which was organized at Lamberick Park Secondary school. It was a day of learning, sharing, and excitement. For those of you who are unfamiliar with edcamp, it is a user-generated conference that does not follow any rigid schedule for workshops that are planned in advance. It is commonly referred to as an “unconference”. Ideas for topics of discussion are determined by registered guests at the beginning of the day.

Instead of a single person presenting for an hour, attendees are encouraged to participate in group conversation. People are  organized in circles to facilitate conversation among all the members. The demographic of attendees range from pre-service teachers, actual teachers and parents.

The edcamp topics I attended throughout the day were 1) Promoting creativity in the Science and Math Class 2) Teaching to indigenous students 3) “grit” in the classroom.

As a person who plans to teach science and mathematics at the secondary level, I was extremely excited to participate in the “promoting creativity in the science and math classroom” discussion. In summary, we addressed the difficulty of making math come alive to students. According to many teachers, math has the reputation for being a motivation killer and tends to be a subject that most students dread. The traditional ways of teaching math through rote learning from a textbook seemed to be the culprit for such experiences. Some suggestions included incorporating art in math. One grade 9 math teacher assigned a project whereby students had to create a self-portrait using geometric shapes. Students had to plan this portrait on graph paper with Cartesian coordinates, and had to plan which shapes and shape sizes would be needed to create an ideal self-portrait. This was very neat way to incorporate art into mathematics.

During my second workshop, we addressed the relatively low graduation rate of indigenous students. We came to the conclusion that teachers must have a firm understanding of the difficulty that most of these students face daily. This doesn’t just look like support in the classroom, but actively seeking the root of such issues in these students’ lives at home.

The last workshop I attended was on “grit”. Grit is passion and perseverance. We discussed how kids who have grit always end up successful in their adult lives, no matter their grades in school and upbringing. This is because these students understand that life is a marathon and not a sprint. When these kids fail, they try again. They ignore the doubt from themselves and others. We discussed ways to teach grit in the classroom.

Edcamp was a fantastic way to learn and discuss topics relevant in today’s classroom. The insight given by educators of all types was extremely valuable and eyeopening.

 

 

Passion Project Blog Post #1

This week I learned about the main positions of Brazilian Jiu jitsu: Mount, Guard, and Back.

The mount position is one of the most dominant positions and any type of self defense. In the mount, you shift your entire weight onto your opponent’s hips. Anatomically, this makes sense as you take away their center of gravity. Without your opponent’s ability to lift their hips, it makes it very difficult for them to get up, or generate any torque to significantly harm you. Your head, which is the most vulnerable part of your body as it contains your brain, is more than an arms length away from your opponent, no matter your height. In this position, you have full range of motion to maneuver your opponent, as well as being able to strike your opponent with your arms.

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The guard, is a common defensive position in Jiu Jitsu. Here, you lie underneath your opponent, with your back on the mat. Your legs are wrapped around their body, and your arms are ideally hooked underneath their armpits. When you are pulled this close to your opponent, it is tough for them to achieve any range of motion to strike you. By holding onto them in this way, you can generate your own leverage for submissions. It looks like a vulnerable position, but there are actually dozens of submissions that can be performed from the guard.

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Another great position, second to the mount, is having someone’s back. From the back, your opponent cannot hurt you at all. This is a completely offensive position, and your opponent is vulnerable to strikes to the head and susceptible to the most famous submission in BJJ: the rear naked choke. Your opponent is trapped by your legs being wrapped around their mid section and your arms holding onto their arms, or wrapping around their neck. This position is akin to an anaconda wrapped around their prey.

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Wolfram Alpha Review

Wolfram Alpha is a browser-based computational engine that can be used for parsing through data in seemingly limitless subject areas. First popularized for its use in solving differentials and integrals in calculus, Wolfram has expanded in its niche to become useful in applied sciences such as physical chemistry, but also as a research tool in the social sciences.

By engaging the engine to process “Phenolphthalein”, we were given an overview of the organic molecule’s physical characteristics such as chemical bonds, boiling point, reactivity, and uses in organic chemistry.

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In other subject areas such as Social Sciences or the Humanities, it can give brief summaries of prominent historical figures such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau, or more recent celebrities like Justin Bieber.

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In Applied Mathematics we see it handle a simple calculation of compounding interest. It utilizes multiliteracies by expressing the output in both a graphic and a numerical form to reach as wide an audience as possible. There is also potential with Wolfram-Pro to engage users in manipulative three-dimensional models.

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While Wolfram should not be considered as a primary learning resource such as Khan Academy, it can be a useful supplement by making “systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone”.

Wolfram is a classic example of how technology evolves dramatically from its initial use. As computing capabilities become more powerful, so does the boundless potential of programs such as Wolfram. During its early years, Wolfram’s use primarily was in the realm of math and calculus classrooms. Today, teachers can harness Wolfram’s capabilities in chemistry, physics, and history classes to  support the learning of students. The rate of expansion of Wolfram is staggering, and it’s exciting to see what this program is capable of in the future.

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Thai Nguyen and I am currently a teacher candidate at the University of Victoria. My journey to becoming a teacher was paved mostly by my love of science and science education! This site will be a place where I will blog about my experiences in the Uvic teaching program and my exploration of ed-tech tools. I will also be posting about a recent passion project I started: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I have always wanted to learn this martial art, however, my undergraduate studies took up too much of my time. Now, with a little more time on my hands, I’m going to take a dive into this new project!