My Summary of Learning + How It Was Made

Hi everyone! We’re at the end of the semester, so it’s finally time for my summary of learning!

Now I want to go over how I made this whole thing, because oh boy was it a process.

My initial plan was to go kind of with the same idea I went with in the end, but instead of the “novel” type of thing I was going to video the whole thing and just chroma key myself into the ‘white void’ thing using a green screen. However, after a lot of testing, I realized without buying nearly $60 in lights, it wasn’t happening, the green screen just wouldn’t play nicely. So, I needed an alternative. That’s when I remembered that TyranoBuilder existed!

Image of my half-finished TyranoBuilder project when I was recording the voice lines.

TyranoBuilder is a really cheap tool that lets you create what is known as a “visual novel” without the need to learn coding. It’s a simple drag-and-drop program, similar to Scratch, but even then a little more self-explanatory. The coolest thing is that the documentation on this program is excessive, so if you’re ever confused about something, you can just look at the documentation and you’ll likely find the answer to any question you have.

Alright! So I chose to do a visual novel, I had a script already written up from my initial plan, now I just needed to do some voice acting! This was a HUGE process, since each individual line of dialogue needed it’s own file. The result of this?

The voice file folder.

58 voice lines. Add the one line that I forgot to record initially and you get 59. A lot, huh?

Once those were all in, I had to add in the sprites, which are just the still images of me that sometimes change expression as I talk. This was actually the easy part. I had a friend of mine take some pictures of me and then I used GIMP – a free image editing software akin to Photoshop – to edit the background out of the photos. Then I placed those sprites over the voice lines where needed, and presto!

As for the piano song at the end, I made that using a free digital audio program called REAPER, virtual drums called Superior Drummer, and a piano plugin called Addictive Keys. I made a simple drum beat, played a chord progression on the piano, then recorded the “solo” piano over all of that. It’s not mind-blowing but I think it serves it’s purpose as the outro theme pretty well.

My REAPER project for the piano song.

And that’s really all there was to it. It took a while to get started, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

Thanks for a great semester, EDTC300. Stay cool.

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One Hand At a Time

Hey guys! We’re almost reaching the end of the EDTC300 class. It’s hard to believe we’re merely a couple weeks away from the end of the semester!

This past week I’ve been practicing the new piece I introduced last week, Canzonet. Specifically, I’ve been practicing the right and left hands separately and trying to get them a performance level that I think is acceptable. It’s been a lot more difficult than anything else I’ve played so far since I’ve started learning piano, since the rhythms switch between quarter notes, eighth notes, and even as fast as sixteenth notes which, up to speed, can be REALLY difficult. I’ve been trying my best however, and I’m getting closer and closer to what I can be happy with.

(video below is me playing through it in the right hand)

My plan for the next little bit is to focus mainly on Canzonet until I can play it fairly well hands together. After that, I plan to finally purely focus on my goal of I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1 that I set in my first learning project blog post. Thankfully, I set my goal to only be able to play the right hand part fluently, as I don’t think, at my skill level, I’d be able to play it fluently with both hands at the same time. However, I am changing my goal a tiny bit – I am going to learn the right hand part AND the left hand part separately, so I can play them both rather nicely. Then, using the magic of modern technology, I’m going to put an audio clip of the two together, so we can get a feel of what it would sound like IF I could actually play it hands together. It’s an unfortunate compromise, but one that I feel like I’m going to have to make for the sake of having it sound the best it can sound.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week where I’ll (hopefully) play Canzonet hands together!

Hour of Code: Learning How To Code, The Easy Way

Today, I took on one of the activities on the Hour of Code website. Hour of Code is a website with full of courses to learn basic coding through fun little mini-games.  You have tons of games to pick from, all of which can teach you very basic level coding that is rather common among the coding world.

The first screen I saw once picking my mini-game

Upon picking my mini-game – a variety of maze games – I was greeted with the above screen. As you can see, it starts off pretty basic. You drag the blocks on the left into the workspace on the right to make the bird reach the pig. Once you’re finished, you hit the run button on the very left and it runs the code, and if all goes well, you advance to the next level. Pretty basic, right? As you advance, the solutions to getting to the end of the maze become more complex, adding repeats, and if/else statements. However, it never really moves past “basic”, which is rather expected for something that’s geared toward absolute beginners.

When you come to a new level, if it introduces a new topic, you get a short video explaining how to use the new topic. The person introducing these topics are different each time, and range from Mark Zuckerberg to pro level NBA players. These videos are short and to the point, which is great for learning these topics. Something long-winded would just be exhausting to sit through and you may zone out throughout it.

Mark Zuckerberg explaining repeat loops.

So what do I think of Hour of Code? I think it’s a pretty neat way to introduce people to the world of code. I don’t think it’s an amazing teaching tool, but I think it’s a great gateway to dive into the world of coding, which is all it needs to be. Coding is super important in today’s world, as practically everything we do runs off code – websites, our phones, our computers, social media, and more. Using fun little mini-games like these are great ways to introduce people to coding, and may even convince some people to pursue it as a career. The world can always use more coders! Who knows, a coder that comes from Hour of Code might make the next big thing. Anything is possible in the world of code!

My hard-earned certificate.

The Self in Relation: Gender Roles

Part 1:

Reading through my classmates stories about gender, there was one thing that I found that stuck out. Many of the stories were about how they enacted their gender roles that society says is “proper” in an almost perfect way. While this wasn’t exactly shocking, it was a little different to see after just coming out of writing my own blog post about how I had acted against the norm. I think it goes to show how it is seen as kind of rare to not act like our genders are “supposed” to, even if we do it without meaning to. It just happens naturally as that’s how we were raised, to follow these societal norms that have been inflicted upon us from a young age.

An example of this normal narrative can be seen in Brennan’s post. In his post, he talks about a time when he asked a woman on a date. From the time he asked her out, he did everything that society expects out of a proper “gentlemen”. “Throughout the night, I took the lead role in directing the conversation and ensured that I was not at all dominating it. I made her the focus of the evening and of the conversation, as every good gentleman does.” This is just a small portion of the many examples Brennan portrayed of acting as a proper gentlemen. He knew how society expected him to act and acted as such.

Similarly, another example of gendered normal narratives can be found in Hayley’s blog post. In her post, she displays something quite similar to Brennan’s, but with the opposite gender norms. “I had allowed myself to become swept away in the beauty of the ritual. Every year the senior class celebrates their new graduate status. Every year the senior girls will throw special parties themed pink to signify our femininity. As if people had forgotten that the upcoming generation of girls is breaking the glass ceiling of inequality, but don’t forget, we’re pretty too.” While somewhat more self-aware in the moment (going as far as to question the gender norms she is replicating), Hayley’s post reflects the same type of enacting of gender roles that Brennan does.

These posts really show how hard it can be to break from the gender norms. While, generally, people don’t mean to follow these norms on purpose, they have just become so ingrained into our society that it’s hard to break from them.  While it can be hard, it is definitely not impossible. Regardless, it is generally second-nature to follow these gender norms, as it is what we, and most people, understand as “acceptable”.

Part 2

However, not everyone wrote about following these types of normal narratives. Some wrote about the exact opposite – breaking through the narrative, either intentionally or unintentionally. While these stories were rarer than ones that followed normal narratives, I feel like the ones that did had a lot more of an impact on me. This is likely just because they are counter to the norm, so they’re not what you expect, and a piece of work – like a blog post – that betrays your expectations is always a lot more interest than one that goes exactly as you imagine it to.

A post that I thought was really well done was Amy’s post on her experience of playing football in elementary school. She talks about, even though she was an extremely good football player and was able to contribute to the team, people still judged her based on the fact that she was a girl. “Yes, it was true: I was the only girl playing football in that field, and I started to think about why. Was it okay that I was the only girl playing football? Should I be playing on the playground with my other girlfriends? Why does it matter?” The fact that Amy was a person of wonder at the time since ‘Wow, a girl performed really well in a MANLY sport like football!’ is a problem with how society portrays how genders need to act.

Amy’s experiences are quite different than that of either Hayley’s or Brennan’s. In their case, they acted just as society expected them to; Brennan, a perfect gentlemen, being the dominant force in his date with a young woman, and Haley, a prettied-up woman, getting ready for her graduation with an expensive make-over and an expensive dress. Amy, on the other hand, was doing the exact opposite as these two – she was playing a ‘mans’ sport, and excelling at it. Yet, she was judged for it, just because she wanted to play something she found interesting, just because it isn’t seen as something that women are supposed to do.

As Hortense Smith cites from a “The Times” article, “…the brains of boys and girls aren’t really that different after all; it’s the social conditioning they receive that makes them pick up and internalize gender roles”. Knowing what’s ‘manly’ and what’s ‘girly’ isn’t something we’re born with, it’s something we’re taught by society. Knowing that these issues are all caused by an external force is extremely upsetting, as we’ve practically been raised to judge others if they don’t follow what society tells us is ‘appropriate’ for our gender roles. Even though modern society is getting somewhat better at not being as judgmental over these gender roles, it’s still a huge problem that likely isn’t going away anytime soon. The most we can do is make others aware of the issue, why it’s an issue, and encourage them to spread the word. The more people that are educated on the matter, the better.

Smith, Hortense. (2010, June). Girls Are Pink, Boys Are Blue: On Toddlers And Gender Roles. Retrieved from https://jezebel.com/5561837/girls-are-pink-boys-are-blue-on-toddlers-and-gender-roles 

Piecing It Together

Hello everyone! As we draw closer to the end of the semester, the way I start practicing the piano is also going to change a little bit. I need to start working on my goal, after all!

It’s time to truly start to become… a pianist! Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) Flickr via Compfight cc

This week has been more theory work than actually playing the piano. While I have been practicing the triads from last week a bit more, I have spent a lot of time working on a piece of music that I believe is called Canzonet, though I’m not completely certain since the copy I have has the top half of the title missing. It’s quite a different piece than any of the small excerpts I’ve been playing so far, since not only does the fingering change quite often, but the notes themselves are rather peculiar in key, with both flats and sharps intertwined. It’s quite nice sounding, at least from what I’ve been able to play through so far.

The piece I’m learning this week!

The little numbers written above the notes are the fingerings for that specific note. I mentioned fingerings for the first time in my second week blog post, but am just realizing I never really went into what that meant. Basically what it boils down to is the thumb is finger 1, index is finger 2, middle is finger 3, ring is finger 4, and pinkie is finger 5. The numbers on the page dictate which finger you’re supposed to use to play each note. So, for example, the first two notes of the piece are played with the thumb and then the ring finger.

That sums up what I’ve been doing this past week. Since it’s mostly been theory, I’m going to be saving a video for next week for when I’ll be able to hopefully play the piece with at least one hand. After that, I’m going to start working seriously at playing my goal piece.

Until next week!

What’s Real? What’s Fake?

In our society, fake news has always been something that has plagued the online and offline community. However, in the time leading up to the 2016 U.S. Election, and the time after it, fake news has been increasing at an alarming rate. As time goes on, it gets more and more difficult to differ what news sources are real and what is fake.

How can we tell the difference between fake news and real news? Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz Flickr via Compfight cc

Fake news is everywhere around you. An article by FirstDraftNews says fake news is sometimes shared “unwittingly by people on social media, clicking retweet [or share] without checking”. I have seen this first hand on my own Facebook page, where people I am friends with will share something either without even clicking on the article (and just sharing it from the headline alone) or without realizing it is fake news. More often than not, however, there is someone already in the comments telling the person of their mistake, which is followed by the original share-er saying “Oopsie!” but not doing anything about it, like deleting the post. Not everyone always checks the comments, so other people coming across the article may also fall into the believing this fake article and spread the information. This cycle repeats over and over until the news spreads like crazy, and many times some people aren’t even aware it is fake news until it’s too late.

A Stanford study talks about an exercise they performed on different levels of schooling (middle school, high school and college) to see how these groups reacted to things such as fake news, and the results basically boiled down to the majority of people in each of these groups were unable to differ real news to fake news. This study goes to show how imperative it is that we begin to teach students methods to determining what news is real and what news is fake. One way we can do this is to encourage students to look for sources if they find an article that seems suspect or surprising. If something seems off or unrealistic, it very well may be (though in a post-2016 U.S. election world, it may very well be real!). Check what resources the article used to check the validity of the claims being made. If these aren’t sufficient, look up other articles that may be making the same claims and check their sources. If there aren’t any sources, or the sources listed don’t back up the claims made in the article, you can likely claim the article is fake.

Some things to consider when determining if something is fake news. Photo Credit: IFLA via IFLA Blogs

It’s also important to just use some common sense and to be extremely cautious of anything you read on the internet. The internet isn’t a place full of pleasantries and truths; it’s one filled with falsehoods and doubt. Never take anything at face value on the internet; always do your own research before jumping to conclusions.

To Do Good, You Really Gotta Tri(ad)

Jesse here, back again with another title that just makes you wanna tell me to stop!

Please, just tell me pia-NO. Image from Pixabay.com

This week, my focus was on chords! Specifically, Triads. Chords themselves aren’t entirely new to me, as I was playing chords in the Radiohead song I played in last weeks learning project video. The triads that I’ve been looking at, however, are a little different. The chords I played last week were chords that were played among both hands, whereas the triads I looked at this week are three note chords played with one hand. They’re a little tricky, especially once you start getting into scales with many sharps or flats in them, since you have to position your hand a little awkwardly, but they aren’t too bad once you get used to them.

I’ve been working on these triads in a few different keys, specifically C Major and D Major. There’s also G Major, but its triads are the exact same as C Major just because of how triads are built. As musictheory.net puts it, a triad is built up of the root, a third, and a fifth. In my case, I am doing major triads, which ends up being built with a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. This might sound like random jargon if you don’t know what this means, so if you’re curious about it, I would recommend reading this small post on musical intervals. If you have no prior experience to music it may be a little daunting, but I just recommend reading it if you do want to know what all of this talk means.

Triads is really all I’ve worked on this week, so with that, I’m going to sign off. Next week, I hope to learn a part of a new piece of music, so look forward to that. See you next week!

YouTube in the Classroom – Discussion

[This is part of a 2-part blog post I wrote with Luke Anderson. You can find his post by clicking here!]

As technology has been progressing over time, it’s use in a classroom setting has become more and more commonplace. When you enter a classroom, you can almost guarantee that you will see at least one computer, if not more, and other technological items, such as a SMART board. The introduction of technology also brings along the resources that come with it. One such resource that I believe is an extremely useful tool for the classroom is YouTube. YouTube is a video sharing website that has hundreds of billions of hours of video that ranges from pure entertainment to educational. The educational resources that are available on YouTube are extremely useful for many different reasons, such as providing a different look into a topic that may have already been taught, but just from a different point of view. This can be helpful to students learning as having something explained to them in more than one way may be better from them to fully understand a topic that is being taught in class. The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using YouTube in the classroom, there are just rules that need to be followed to make sure students stay safe while using it.

When it comes to YouTube’s content, there is concern with what kind of content students will be finding and on whether they will be using YouTube for its intended purpose or not. In terms of content, if students are using it for the purpose they have been given which I believe, as teachers, we should have a little bit of faith in our students or at least be supervising them frequently. As long as we supervise them to nudge them onto the right path if they do happen to be goofing off, worries of inappropriate content shouldn’t be an issue if they are sticking to the topic they are looking for (which should be school appropriate anyway). As for students using YouTube for its intended purpose, that isn’t a YouTube specific issue. Students can go off topic on an assignment and not work on it/do other things even if they’re, say, writing an essay or doing a Math assignment. This also boils down to having some faith that students will stay on topic and, if not, we as teachers need to nudge them back on topic so they do not fall behind in their work.

Some have recommended alternate websites to YouTube, such as ROVER, to alleviate any possible concern of coming across inappropriate content while browsing YouTube. Even though we’ve established that, if the student is on topic, the possibility to come across inappropriate content isn’t likely, I still feel like this point should be addressed. The problem with a website like ROVER is that the videos are hand-picked. In theory, this sounds good, as all the videos are curated and are assured to be of quality. This is the heart of the problem, however. The amount of content, both educational and non-educational, that is being uploaded to YouTube each day is outstanding. The number of videos on a website like ROVER, while curated, pale in comparison to the amount of good, appropriate videos on YouTube. While I think ROVER would be a good tool to use alongside YouTube, I don’t think it should be used as a complete replacement, since YouTube has so much to offer in terms of educational content that ROVER just can’t offer.

In the case of a website like YouTube, the pros outweigh the cons. The potential behind a tool like YouTube is simply too great to be set aside due to a few overexaggerated concerns. Using YouTube, teachers can enhance their learning in ways that were once never thought possible. Bringing in resources from all over the world, teachers can explore different ways to teach their students to allow them to better understand the things they are being taught in school. YouTube is a beautiful tool that should be used to its fullest potential both in and out of a classroom setting.

Why Gender Binary is a Problem

Gender binary has always been an underlying issue in our society. This issue, however, has especially become more prevalent in today’s world of media, where ideas and issues are spread all over the world with just a few clicks of a button. Even though gender binary has been a problem for a very long time, it’s just now that people are beginning to realize it exists, let alone realizing it’s an issue. When the problem is brought to light, many people’s first instincts are to resist – “Gender binary isn’t an issue, people are getting too PC, just trying to make a scene,” and the list of excuses goes on and on.

The question is, what is gender binary? To sum it up quickly, it’s basically the understanding that sex and gender are one in the same. The reality of the situation is, however, that your biological sex isn’t necessarily the same as your gender. Sex is what you’re born with, gender is a social construct, something that can be chosen. The problem with this, however, is that most people aren’t aware of this fact. They believe that your sex is gender, and that’s that. This causes quite a few problems, especially with people

What needs to start happening is that people need to be more open to things that may disagree with their current world view. Instead of someone’s first reaction to argue with something that clashes with what they know, they should investigate the issue further and make an informed decision based upon evidence, and not based upon preexisting notions.

I believe an important method that should be utilized more often to dismantle the myth behind gender binary is media. “The media is the message, and the messenger. And increasingly a powerful one,” (Pat Mitchell, “Miss Representation”). Media has become so prevalent in our everyday life with practically every demographic imaginable and it influences each and every one of them. From a study Nielsen Company did in the US, we know that American’s devote more than 10 hours per day to screen time. Exploring methods to get this information about gender binary out into the open would be extremely effective.

Debunking the myth behind gender binary is extremely important for society. So many people are misinformed about the truth behind gender and sex that it’s almost shocking, but it’s not entirely unbelievable – the amount of information out, while at an all time high due to media and other technological methods, does still not scratch the surface of how widely known it should be. The information on gender binary must be spread with a new force, so people are aware of the truths and misconceptions behind gender binary so we can finally leave this old “truth” behind.