The Journey is Not Over Yet!

In early May I set out to learn more about the Art of Decluttering. I have been blogging about my progress from week to week. This post signifies the end of my learning project, but not the end of my progress with clearing the clutter from my home.

Week One – The Art of Decluttering started out by me admitting I have a need to declutter my home. I searched the internet for some benefits of decluttering , such as reducing stress, saving money and improving family relationships. I also searched for a strategy I would use. I decided to try the KonMari method.

Week Two – Clearing Out to Getting Out  showed how much extra STUFF I had been storing in my home. As we loaded up our travel trailer for our first season at the lake, I did a major closet overhaul. I have not missed or needed anything that I took out to the lake. It was great to get rid of so much stuff. This procedure did, however, show how we can get accustomed to hoarding way more than we need.

Week Three – Clothes That Spark Joy surprised me a bit. I thought my own clothing was an area I kept fairly minimized. I was so wrong. What added to the amount of clothes I gave away was that the KonMari method suggests you purge by category and not simply by room. I went to our storage room and dug out boots and shoes I had not worn in a while. I went to the back of our front closet and got rid of three jackets. It sure adds up fast. Everything went into a pile on my bed and then I began the purge. Watch the video of my process to discover that I had four recycling bags full of clothes and shoes that I no longer needed.

The KonMari method suggests decluttering by categories and not by rooms. These categories, that have worked well for many people, are:

      • Clothing
      • Books
      • Papers
      • Komono (Miscellaneous)
      • Sentimental

It was during this week, however, that I also found some cons of the KonMari method:

  1. The process may not be realistic for larger spaces or families.
  2. Category sorting may not be as effective if you have a family.
  3. Untagging clothes and immediately hanging them does not always make sense (kids clothes the next size up).
  4. The book doesn’t address how to deal with kids toys.

Week Four – Do Not Take Away My Books brought my family joy!!! I was realistic with my process of decluttering that I can not go through each category in one week as a household of five. So for the books category I focused on my children’s books. They have a beautiful collection of books and some of them are likely to end up in my future classrooms. I got rid of less than two dozen books but what was really special was that after rearranging all the books, my children were so excited for story time. They rediscovered favourites and uncovered hidden gems. One book I found in my collection has an interesting title. I do not think there is such a thing as too many books, though.

 

Week Five – Clear The Desk and Digital Clutter had me take on an important task, especially for a student. Rummaging through unorganized files can be a headache. Spending time to declutter files and emails can save you time and energy in the future. If you are not convinced it is important, check out these articles I found: How to Organize Computer Files and Marie Kondo Tries to Help a Digital Hoarder Get His Life in Order. Aside from the clearing digital clutter, I also cleared my desk!

Week Six – Embrace Wanting Less had me taking time to evaluate what I would want others to know about the art of decluttering. I created a Piktochart on the benefits of decluttering with a family. And used Canva to create an additional visual. I also helped my husband organize our garage and I cleared more stuff out of our storage room. I cleared out some Komono, but nothing was really photo worthy.

Source: Mary-Anne Blenkin via Canva

So for this final post I said goodbye to some sentimental items. This is a tough one! Check out the short video I made with some of the highlights of what I went through.

If you wonder why the potato dishes from the video were sentimental to me, the reason is they reminded me of my great aunts. The two sisters made ceramics and had made similar dishes. The set my mom passed along to me reminded me of them, even though it was not made by my Aunt Tina and Aunt Lena. My son kept the cookie monster (he got it when he was a baby so I am okay with that) and he asked for the Smurf plushy as well. Do not declutter in front of your kids! Lol. I did get rid of half a bag of other plushy’s so I made good progress on that. There were other items I found, such as a grad sweater that has been in a box for years and I sorted through some of my children’s art work and other crafty creations.

The process of decluttering is hard, but it is worth it! Keep the stuff that brings you joy and clear the stuff that clutters space and can cause you stress! Too much stuff can cause anxiety and family tension. Thank you for joining me on my journey. I hope I have inspired you to do a bit of your own decluttering. Feel free to contact me if you would like some encouragement, advice, or more motivation. Until next time…

Advertisements

Saturday Morning Coding

On Thursday evening we were asked to experiment with coding and then blog about it. As I tucked my seven-year-old daughter in to bed I told her that we were going to do this. She was so excited! We did not have time on Friday to experiment but Saturday morning came around and my daughter asked first thing to get set up with the Hour Of Code.

Elizabeth was not even out of her pjs yet!

Elizabeth loved it!!!

There are so many options but thankfully the options are categorized. You can chose Pre-reader, Grades 2-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9 +. There is also the choice to chose beginner or the more advanced comfortable option.

 

Elizabeth started with a Barbie Music Video by Tynker.

The length of this one is a few hours so Instead of trying out the other five Barbie career choices, Elizabeth decided to try another game.

This time she was making pizza. This one used JavaScript and was more complicated than the previous coding challenge. She learned that she had to type exactly what was asked of her and she could not miss a “;” or the function would not work.

She finally stopped for breakfast and when she came back to coding she decided to move on to another option instead of finishing the pizza. I wanted to explore more of the options available on Hour of Code so I was fine with that option (this time). She chose Minecraft and had so much fun. It got harder as she went along and she did ask for help. I think she simply skipped ahead without reading some instructions. She had discovered the option to switch the language to French and being that she is in French Immersion had chosen that. When it came time to me helping her I had to get it changed back to English so I could read what we had to do, lol. Take note French Immersion teachers, some of the programs give you the option of French instead of English!

We will definitely be doing more coding in our home this summer. My daughter wants to check out more options and my five-year-old son will be trying a Pre-Reader program soon. If you still are not sure if you should include Hour Of Code in your classroom, or even like I did at home with my kids, check out this video:

I absolutely plan to use this activity in my future classrooms as well! How do you feel about incorporating Hour of Code in your classrooms?

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends!

One thing I enjoyed about EDTC 300 was the community of learners that was created through our interactions with each other. We were all asked to do our part to contribute to the learning of others.

  1. Blog Comments
    Here are a few examples of the comments I made on my classmates blogs:

    By Serena Lowry

    Reagan Fedak

    Karter Lafontaine

    Caleb Lueck

  2. Twitter
    I also stayed active on Twitter throughout the course.

     

    https://twitter.com/MABlenkin/status/1139903190458130432

  3. Slack
    Our Slack community was also important to me.







    Thank you to each and every classmate for your contribution to my learning. Your encouraging words, advice and discussions meant a lot.

Summary of Learning

We were asked to create a video to summarize what we learned in our EDTC 300 class. Check out my video here:

I decided to use this project as another learning opportunity. I tried out Powtoon and started creating my video. Halfway through my creation I discovered that the free version does not let you create a video longer than three minutes. The requirement for our summary was 4 – 6 minutes. I took a couple deep breathes and then decided I could either make two animated videos and put them together once created, or I could download the created slides and use Screencastify.

I was wanting to try out Screencastify so that is the option I choose. It was very simple to use and worked great. It downloaded quickly to YouTube which was a bonus. In YouTube Creator Studio I was able to add background music to my video.

EDTC 300 was an elective I chose to take. The content I learned was so valuable and thought provoking that I think it should be a required course. If you are an Education student, take this course!

Embrace Wanting Less

This week in my art of decluttering project I have taken the time to reflect on why I chose to declutter. There are many benefits to clearing the clutter out of our homes and living a more minimalistic lifestyle. There are also advantages to clearing a bit out of our calendars so our lives do not feel so hectic. If you have been considering learning the skill of decluttering, here is what you need to know.

3 blogs to follow:

ALL THINGS KONMARI’D

Source: onthebubbly.com

Marie Kondo has developed a system of decluttering known as the KonMari method. It is very popular and offers the advice to clear out items by categories instead of by rooms. Kondo teaching that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. She believes tidying your space can transform your life.

BECOMING MINIMALIST

Becoming Minimalist is designed to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions. I find that following Joshua Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist helps me stay focused on my goal of minimizing my life. His posts resonate with me and I especially like that he includes information on how to declutter with a family.

CLUTTER-FREE CLASSROOM

Jody Durgin blogs specifically about keeping your classroom organized. This is as equally important as keeping your home decluttered. Durgin is passionate about helping teachers be the best educators they can be in a classroom with less mess and less stress.

Source: Mary-Anne Blenkin via Canva

Top 3 Reasons to Declutter

Decluttering reduces stress and anxiety

Decluttering gives you more space

Decluttering saves you time and offers flexibility

WhY is it hard to let go of your possessions

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

After spending money on an item it can sometimes be hard to let it go if you feel you have not gotten your value out of it

Saving items for the future  because of the fear that you might need it someday can cause you stress today. A multitude of items can be stored in every room of your home and take away from truly enjoying the space today.

When it is time to declutter, sentimental items can be the hardest to part with. I remember being sad when we sold my children’s crib. I considered converting the crib into a desk but I decided I was not that attached to it. I was able to part with the crib and I do not regret that decision. I still have a long way to go in this department.

Mindset changes

Gratitude – materialism is a behaviour born out of discontent with the possessions we own.

Contentment  – discontentment opens up our heart to unhealthy habits

Less is more – learn to embrace wanting less

Photo illustration by Alexandra Floersch / Forum News Service

I was encouraged to create a video or digital poster. I checked out Glogster which I will likely use in the classroom, however it did not seem to fit a minimalist message. I made the declutter for mental health poster at Canva. I also checked out piktochart, let me know your thoughts on the infographic I created.

Let’s Teach Fake News

“Fake news” is becoming prominent and educators have a responsibility to teach students how to decipher truth from falsehood. Even if the curriculum does not explicitly require us to cover this topic, we want our students to have the ability to decipher fact from fiction. There are many ways to incorporate this topic into your classroom, but first let’s discuss why we all need to learn more about this topic.

Claire Wardle with First Draft has an excellent article on this topic,  Fake News. It’ Complicated.  Wardle breaks down “fake news” into misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false). She goes on to list three elements that can be used to break down information:

  1. The different types of content that are being created and shared
  2. The motivations of those who create this content
  3. The ways this content is being disseminated

Check out this great visual. Have you encountered all 7 types of mis-and disinformation? I certainly have.

Source: First Draft

Claire Wardle goes on to pose the question, “what can we do?” We all play a crucial part in this ecosystem of misinformation. “Every time we passively accept information without double-checking, or share a post, image or video before we’ve verified it, we’re adding to the noise and confusion. The ecosystem is now so polluted, we have to take responsibility for independently checking what we see online.” As an educator and a parent, I add that we are also obligated to teach others about the prevalence of mis-and disinformation…or fake news.

The School Library Journal offers another great way to break down the questions to use when deciphering fake news. They believe educators can counter fake news with information literacy. They promote teaching about fake news in schools and involving parents in the discussion. They ask these questions in their smell test:

Source: School Library Journal

If you still are not convinced this is important, read Developing Critical Literacies: What we Need to Know in a “Fake News” World by Katia Hildebrandt and Alec Couros. They state that there is often sinister intent in the creation and distribution of fake news. I found the media bias chart very interesting. Check it out and let me know your thoughts on it. They also give advice on how to deal with the phenomenon.

Strategies and Techniques for Dealing with Fake News:

1. Develop and employ investigative techniques

2. Use rich example

3. Nurture a Critical Disposition

So, how do we teach students about fake news? I can envision many ways this topic can be brought into the classroom. I taught a Grade 7 Social Studies mini-unit on Democracy in Canada. I only had 5 classes to teach on the topic and there was so much more I wanted to discuss. Fake news and media bias would easily fit in this unit. Additionally, there are many avenues with ELA to incorporate this information. When covering non-fiction reading, fake news articles could be throw in to the mix to help students develop the skills of deciphering facts from fiction. How about letting students manipulate a digital image in Art class so they realize how easily it can be done. Ideally carrying the theme throughout all the subjects  as a thematic unit would be optimum. What are some of your examples of implementing discernment skills in the classroom?

The Oatmeal has an awesome comic presentation: You are Not Going to Believe What I am About to Tell You. Please check it out! I am serious, check it out. It is excellent. Teachers can use this for a variety of grades. It walks us through some of the emotional friction we can experience when we learn uncomfortable truths. In fact, some information can make us so uncomfortable that we refuse to believe it.

Another option to add to the classroom is an online game by Factitious. It tests our ability to tell if an article is fake news or actual news. This could be done as a class with the questions on the smart board or by having each student complete the quiz independently. I also think this could be a good link to send home to parents and have the parents continue the discussion at home with their children. Students may be surprised to know that even their parents can be mislead.

Source: Facebook, Unknown

Starting off the discussion in a comical way can help ease into the topic. How about the above spoof that was posted on Facebook. I especially like that they actually admit the post is a joke. It would be interesting to know how many people only read the first couple lines and believed the message. Although a bit of satire and comical jests can be fun. There are indeed real dangers to the ecosystem of misinformation.

What can we do? We can be responsible in crediting sources before we spread fake news to others. We can teach our students to develop critical literacy. Regardless  of how you teach about fake news and mis-and disinformation it is important to start the discussion.

 

 

Digital Sleuthing

The last few classes of EDTC 300  have been focusing on digital identity. It is important for educators to teach students about their digital identity from a young age. Students use social media as a main source of networking and being aware of how one represent themselves to others is important. It is also important to be aware of our own digital identities. Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. Some people choose to have multiple social media accounts so they can separate their professional network from their personal accounts. Others try to keep their personal accounts private. No matter how you choose to navigate your social media accounts, always consider the fact that what you think is private could one day become public.

Employers are turning to social media as an extension of one’s resume. With that in mind, we were tasked with sleuthing a classmate to discern if they keep their digital identity professional. I partnered up with Brooke George. I have not had the privilege of meeting this soon to be educator but we do follow each other on Twitter. Twitter is where I started and her first tweet states the account is her professional twitter account.

I was unable to find any additional accounts which she may or may not have. Her twitter account links to her blog, which I enjoyed reading. Her name is a bit popular but I did find her Facebook profile. Any posts that are public all reflect Brooke in a positive light. When Googling her name I found news articles that state she has won scholarships and bursaries. I think Mme George does a great job of keeping her digital identity professional. Her positive digital identity will benefit her next spring when she begins her job search.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

If you want to find out more about teaching students about their digital identity, read Character Education For The Digital Age. There are many more great resources out there and they will be ever changing. I find it important for teachers to stay knowledgable about social media trends. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing today’s youth in this digital age?

Clear the Desk and Digital Clutter

I have my desk back! I am working on decluttering my home and I have finally gotten to my desk.  In following the KonMari method, the challenge this week is to sort paper. I thought it best to start with my desk. The past two University semesters had crazy workloads and “stuff” piled up on my desk. As the end of the winter semester approached everything was ending up on my desk. When the semester was finally over, I needed a breather and walked away from my desk. I am now asking myself why did I not just take an afternoon and clear my desk. I HATE CLUTTER! Of course, to my defence, we did have three weekends of dance recitals and competitions along with other family commitments and I started two spring classes. The good part is the job is now done! Moving forward, my desk will not be a dumping ground. To see the before picture check out my first decluttering post.

My favourite find on my desk was a gift from Denise Lovas and her Grade 5 class where I pre-interned this winter. She purchased a book and had all the students write a message…so sweet! I do not trust my youngest to not colour in it once she sees other pen marks so I am keeping it off the main bookshelf for now. It does come out occasionally at story time though.

To go along with the decluttering paper theme, I went into my Google Drive and organized some files. I am actually very good at keeping my digital files organized. To keep up it is important to clear out junk and file appropriately on a regular basis. I like my main drive very clean and I have found this useful when pulling up file while connected to the classroom projector during my pre-internship. Students do not see much in my Google Drive, aside from the name of the other classes I am currently working on.

If anyone needs advice on organizing your digital files check out the How to Organize Computer Files article. I also found Marie Kondo Tries to Help a Digital Hoarder Get His Life in Order helpful. Who else is in the habit of regular email organization and purging? Much the same way that physical clutter can cause anxiety, digital clutter can do the same. If you spend even 5 minutes, once a week, you can have greater organization and less stress.

Do Not Take Away My Books

I love books! I love reading! I try to instill a love for reading in my children. I plan to do the same for my future students. Has anyone else ever fantasized about having a large home library with a rolling ladder?

The KonMari method of decluttering your home suggests sorting through your books as the second step of the process. You can learn more about the KonMari method in my previous post. I set out to declutter my children’s books this week. We have books in the living room, the children’s rooms and in the basement play area. We were given a large portion of my niece’s book collection once they outgrew them. We also do not mind spending money on books for the kids and we have therefore ended up with quite a few books. For myself, I have started reading on my Kindle reader. I am also happier to take a book out of the library versus buying books for myself because I am likely to only read a book once.

Abby Lawson blogged about Organizing Books with the KonMari Method.  She describes the four-step process as:

STEP 1- GATHER ALL BOOKS AND PUT THEM IN PILES ON THE FLOOR.

STEP 2- HANDLE EACH BOOK AND DECIDE WHICH ONES SPARK JOY.

STEP 3- DISCARD ALL BOOKS THAT DON’T SPARK JOY.

STEP 4- STORE REMAINING BOOKS NEATLY.

My goal with this process was to not take any more space than I was currently using to store our books. I sorted through the books as per the KonMari method. Pretty much my whole collection sparks joy or has the potential to spark joy! I mean if my family doesn’t read them my future classroom may. I took away some books that were damaged, some baby books, a few that were simply bulky and some that were older and not likely to be read. It ended up I will only be giving away a few books.

Books to give away

I did store my books neatly though. Part of the decluttering process is organizing your home well. Even though we have hundreds of books, they are now easier to look through. On the bedroom bookshelves, I sorted the books according to the ones I thought each child would currently enjoy at story time. The evening after I was done sorting our books my children were very excited to look through the collection I left in their room. Storytime has had more excitement this week.

I was a bit amazed at the collection of wonderful books we own. I realized we have an amazing collection of Robert Munsch books (which went to Elizabeth’s collection), Disney and Cat in the Hat books (from when my nieces were in a book club program) and Step Into Reading and similar books (which Daddy likes to buy for the kids).

Robert Munsch

Step Into Reading

Disney & Cat in the Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The excitement my children expressed got me thinking about my experience with classroom libraries. Rotating or reorganizing your classroom library on a regular basis is a wise idea. When it comes time for students to pick a new book, their excitement and interest can wane if the library stays the same old, same old.  Michael from The Thinker Builder blog writes about How to Keep a Classroom Library Thriving. He says to build excitement around “what’s now” and “what’s next.”

When my children lose excitement over the books in their bedroom library I can exchange with books from our other shelves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One book I found in our collection has a fitting title, “Too Many Books.” What do you think, did I keep too many books? Should I have downsized my collection further? Is there such a thing as too many books?

Up For Debate

What would a discussion around technology in the classroom look like between a teacher and a parent? We tested it out…who is we: @mablekin and @johnsonlarea. Larea played the role of the teacher and Mary-Anne played the role of a concerned parent.

EDTC 300 is teaching us the importance of having positive conversations with our students regarding social media. Our classmate Serena shared a great resource about Digital Citizenship. Let us know your thoughts!