Technology Can Be Inspiring !

 

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The more I read, listen to and watch – the more I become convinced that using technology in the classroom is an excellent way to engage learners.  My engagement in this technology class is a prime example.  Even out of my comfort zone, I find myself drawn in by all the exciting tools that ignite the imagination.  I believe that if a professor had shown me a screen like the one above to explain some of the biological information about cells during my science degree – I would have been hooked in a different way.  I am becoming inspired to learn to use technology in the classroom and hope that I might spark student engagement in different ways than with the traditional teaching methods I have used in the past.

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Better Late than Never !

 

I was searching for online articles that show how technology in the classroom and having students engaged in their own learning can be inspirational.  I found a TED Ed talk by a woman named Shelley Wright in Vancouver who used to teach traditionally, like I did, and then she took a class with a man by the name of Alec Couros that inspired her to teach differently.  I really resonated with her opening and then, when she said who her teacher was – I could hardly believe it.

 

So you see, it must be a story more common than I realize. Teacher is going about their same old sameness until they realize that something could make a significant difference in their students lives – as well as their own.  Most teachers that I know, care enough about their students to want to make changes when they realize it could really help their students – so they give it a try. Here I am, walking a similar path to many who have gone before me, and I’m sure there will be many more to follow.

 

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In our reading last week, Bates suggests that teachers should consider their instructional approach, what content they want to include, as well as the skills they want students to develop. So now what lies before me is to do what Bates suggests: look at my audience, decide what I want them to know and how they will learn it, and then pick the style of lesson that will best meet learner’s needs.

This week I read a number of articles that lead me back to a term from a couple of years ago – student centered learning.  Underneath the discussions of online and blended learning there are ideas of having students be able to choose what they are interested in.  Also, they are able to work at they own independent pace, learn in different ways, and show their learning in a variety of ways. This is an example of one of the posts I read that reminded me of student-centered learning.

 

When I read Elizabeth’s blog this week I had a funny thought…  I have been feeling so inspired to explore the technology route, that I had not considered that people would write articles outlining the downfalls of using technology in the classroom.  Of course there are many things that could be considered ‘drawbacks’. One article indicated in her blog talks about how educators are not always properly set up for success with technology.  I would consider myself in this situation.  Yes, the responsibility is mostly mine, but there are many logistical factors that make using technology at our school difficult.  Firstly, there are computer carts that are shared by all teachers.  We are only allowed to book twice in two weeks for one hour of classroom use.  Then, there is the difficulty that not all students are able to successfully log in.  By the time the hour is up – sometimes, very little can be accomplished.

I am grateful for the technology education that I am getting at present.  If there were no online courses offered, perhaps I would not have been able to have access to this class.  Online learning allows people who are working and have families to have access to higher education.  What could be the downside to that ?

 

Print, Audio, or Video – What’s Your Preference?

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      Do you like to look at text?

 

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                                                                                                                               Listen to a recording ?

 

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Or, watch a video ?

 

The more I review what Bates has to say in Chapter 7, the more it makes me think about how technology – with all it’s variances – carries potential to reach more students.  We know that individuals have different learning preferences/styles, so teaching using a variety of print, audio, and video presentations will provide opportunities for students to learn in a way that best suits them.  The idea of  blended learning   where students can have a combination of direct teaching, watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading books in print,  watching instruction at home on the computer, blogging and other technological outlets –  seems to me to be an ultimate idea behind educational diversification. In Bates’ words:

A large part of learning requires the mental integration of content acquired through different media and symbol systems.

 

I like reading information in text, but that is mostly under ideal conditions.  It can be frustrating to have to read something in print when conditions are not just right (lighting, external noise, time pressure, fatigue level etc.)

 

I have been trying to think about any audio that I have enjoyed other than listening to music.  I remember listening to an audio book that I really liked called The Alchemist.  Also, I remember listening to a children’s story on tape called Mozart’s Magic Fantasy: A Journey Through ‘The Magic Flute’,   

… but I think much of that enjoyment was due to the music as well as the story.

 

I found an interesting set of podcasts this week for teaching in the area of visual arts and they had been created using something called acast+.  I am not usually one who goes for auditory learning, but I found the few that I listened to quite enjoyable.  Then I found some videos done by the same person, and that confirmed it… I definitely have a tendency to want to see and hear what I am learning.

 

The persuading factors for video playing an important role in education can be see in the following You Tube video: Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education.  There is mention of flipped education and concentration on ‘mastery’ of any given area before moving on to the next level.

 

Lots of interesting thoughts in class blogs this week.  Both Stephanie and Chalyn got me thinking about how important it is to present a wide variety of learning options so that students can get a sense of what works best for them.

After this week’s zoom demonstration of how to use Tube Chop, I was able to chop the video but when I tried to get the chopped video into this blog – I was unsuccessful.  So I just included the whole thing video

If there is anyone who might be able to suggest how to do that – it would be great. Thanks.

Lots of Decisions to Make

Lots of Decisions to Make

Lots of Decisions to Make

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     I was talking to a friend who knows I am still trying to decide on a platform.  Today she said to me – “just pick one and move forward”.  I think she is right, so I hope to do that in the next couple of days (notice any irony here ? ).

According to Bates, it is important to pay attention to the “unique pedagogical features” of text, audio, and video when creating educational content. He suggests taking time and carefully choosing which is best in a given situation to deliver specific content.  I have not tried making a screencast before to deliver content, so this week I took on the challenge…

I chose Screencast-O-Matic, which is fairly easy to use and it is free (for the basic package). You can watch the following You Tube video if you want to find out more about it:

 

It gives you the choice of 3 different options : screen only, webcam only or both together. I created an example of each option as you can see below:

 

My ‘Screen only’ example:

 

 

My ‘Webcam only’ example:

 

My ‘Screen and Webcam’ example:

I tried a lot of different ways to get these files to play in WordPress.  I ended up creating You Tube videos, (which was a another new process).  I found a good You Tube video to explain how to upload videos from Screencast – O – Matic to You Tube.  You can check out Stephanie Davis’ demonstration here if you are interested in trying it yourself.

I feel pretty darn pleased with myself for accomplishing these feats this week. Come to think of it – I think these might classify as Vlogs (that I have heard others talk about). Yay! (now I sound like my students – making a ‘little deal’ sound like a ‘big deal’ 🙂

I checked out lots of great blogs from my classmates this week and learned many interesting new things.  One thing that really interested me was Ed Puzzle posted by Carla this week, where she explained that you can crop existing videos and then add an audio track or audio notes. She also drew my attention to something called Playposit where you can add text to an exiting video.

There were other things that interested me that I would like to try sometime.  Stephanie and Twana talked about using Adobe Spark, which I would like to check out in the future.  Also, Benita and Roxanne talked about GoAnimate, which intimidates me but intrigues me at the same time.  I am learning lots from my classmates.

If anyone is familiar with Screencast – O – Matic and wants to suggest other ways to transfer screencasts to my wordpress blog – that would be great.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning to Use See Saw for the Course Prototype

Hard at work

Hard at work

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      After Ellen and Samantha and I decided to create our project around the topic of Gr. 3 Visual Arts, Ellen suggested we use something called See Saw.  I have been doing some research and it appears to be a great tool to use for young students in the area of art.   I read that See Saw is a student driven digital portfolio where students can document their learning through photos, videos, drawings, text notes etc. A benefit to teachers is that student work can be uploaded, organized and available from any device or computer.  Student work can be shared with parents and peers in a private or public way.

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According to our assignment, See Saw will be an appropriate tool for our target population and demographics.  Considering the topic of visual art, it will allow students to create their product in a variety of ways and provide easy assessment.  A teacher could potentially use one ipad and pass it around for students to use individual logins (not ideal but has potential). Finally, this tool is great to use with EAL learners.

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     With all the tools out there, why did we choose See Saw?  For the many reasons that they advertise:

  1. gives all students a voice
  2. makes thinking and learning visible
  3. creates ownership in learning
  4. builds reflection
  5. supports creation
  6. builds strong communication between home and school
  7. provides authentic assessment opportunities
  8. there is an embedded blog
  9. can invite co-teachers
  10. great for EAL learners

I think another big plus for me personally, is that I like the idea of investing this time and energy into something that I will actually use with my students.

Was just watching a screencast on  Nicole’s blog this week.  She and Amy are also using See Saw, but drew attention to Weebly to oraganize the information online.  It seems like a great idea so I will be talking to my group about it and we may follow suit…? (thanks for the info.)

So Many New Things to Process

So many new things to think about!

So many new things to think about!

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     I really feels like I am learning a new language.  Even though I know it’s not true, it seems l am the only one having to start near the beginning of the technology continuum.  I feel like I am learning words such as and, the, at…. while others are able to use this language to speak another one.  I have to spend so much time researching the meanings of the terminology, then I have to turn around and try to figure out how to create an online course (all the while – trying to remember to ‘have fun’).

     I am grateful to my colleagues who continue to generously offer help and suggestions.  Ellen and I have decided to base our prototype on the Saskatchewan Grade 3 Arts Ed. Curriculum . We have not made any final decisions about the particulars, but will be doing that in the following weeks.  As Natalie said in her blog this week, I too feel “fairly overwhelmed with the “how-to” of the process.”

     Danielle posted something on Twitter that was good for me to read this week.  It talks about 4 ways to personalize learning .  It peaked my interest about Genius Hour with  “…a few of [their] favorite online tools to use include Google Slides, Sway, Buncee, Thinglink, Padlet, and Powtoon. I’m sure after checking these out, we will have a better idea about what we might use in our project.

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     I enjoyed the article The Myth about No Significant Difference this week.  I think it is clever how the authors point out in each paragraph the potentially important roles that technology can play. Then turn around and ask at the end of each paragraph ‘if technology makes a vital difference’.  Information like this gives me faith that increased implementation of technology into the classroom can be a good thing for students. Ideas like: “it allows students to interact with experts and work on real-world problems”, and “simulations allow students to learn by doing”, and “users receive information, but they also comment, collaborate, and create their own content.”

     Stephen Downes post also contains some information that helps me to think about why moving towards having a blended classroom might be a good idea: ” In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves.”  I think his final paragraph is so important, where he talks about the fact that people need to be able to learn on their own in order to become ‘effective’ learners.

And finally, I end this post with an idea I got from reading Kara’s blog this week – and try to embed a GIF. (thanks Kara 🙂

If anyone has any good ideas for platforms that would be good to use for visual art – please let me know.  Thank you kindly !

Lean On Me by BubblezwithaZ

 

via Gify

 

 

 

 

Resistance…

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All I have to do is dive in

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Thankfully I don’t feel as isolated from technology as I used to. Before taking my first Ed. Tech. class, I was feeling left behind and somewhat lost.  There has always been a  resistance to my embracing technology. I was one of the last to use the internet, email, and even a cell phone.  This resistance comes from a number of different beliefs: I like to keep things simple, I like to have face to face human interactions, and also – fear of the unknown.

Since my previous Ed. Tech. class,  I have noticed a new confidence around technology that I feel good about. I have a small, but growing sense of wonder and curiosity. I am happy to say that Andres words this week are with me as I try to ‘have fun’ with this class.

Goal number one for me this semester is to try to relax and to overcome the intimidating feelings I have around technology (… like trying not to compare myself with others , and learning how to use Twitter). Goal number two is to understand more about blended learning, which I’m sure will come about in assignment number one. Finally, my third goal will be to try to maintain a balance between home and school and University.

Thanks to Kyle for suggesting my first look at blended learning .

I am on my journey to trade in resistance for persistence.

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I can do this!

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You can find me on Twitter @angelaswitzer5

Unplugging is NOT necessary!

Above is the opening we created for our debate (Nicole, Tayler, and I).

Our side of the debate this week argues that it is not necessary to unplug from the internet. There is a vast amount of information at our finger tips that can enrich our lives. Do you need to know how to get to a specific address? – just  “google” it. You could maybe even look at the street view so you can safely arrive at your destination. Do you want to check with the Mayo clinic about certain symptoms you are having and decide how to proceed? Just google it. You can find a community of like- minded people to discuss any topic you desire. Your family physician can double check possible drug interactions before they choose which medication to prescribe you. Google calendar can help you put your mind at ease by remembering dates and times, so you don’t need to worry. You can book your airline tickets on ‘google flights’. If a part on your lawn mower breaks – you can order it on amazon and have it delivered to your house in a few weeks. If you are looking for the perfect mate, you can specify your wishes to the minutest detail so you end up with a great match. This online technology class would not be possible if it weren’t for the internet. Can you imagine having car trouble on the highway with no cell phone? Worse yet – can you imagine going back to a time when there were no cell phones at all?

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Can you imagine not being able to look up an address on google maps? Think for a moment what it would be like to go back in time when there was no Skype to have a video chat with far away loved ones. The list of benefits is endless. These are some of the many reasons we argued that there is no need to unplug!
Tim O’Reilly,  owner of a global internet operating system claims that The internet connects humans to everything! Our plugging in is an extension of ourselves. You can take a look at the first 15 minutes of this Youtube video if you like.

The other side of our debate brought up the idea that people who are on technology might have a tendency to be ‘lonely’.  One article they posted points to the fact that people need to become better listeners, engage in communication, and practice conversation.  Our side would say that you don’t have to unplug in order to be able to do these things. It’s all about balance and choices – just like with everything.

The other side also suggested that being plugged in might lead to loneliness. I believe that is a matter of perspective.  I think people need to find a way of being comfortable and happy with themselves instead of looking for substantiation and affirmation from others.  Or – as the video they suggested says “measuring their self worth with numbers of followers and likes”.
When we ended up with this topic on the first night of class, I felt disappointed because I thought I was very much on the other side of this debate. As we got into it, I realized how much I value technology and would be very disappointed to go back to a time with no cell phones or computers.

There is a great article called “The Disconnectionists by Nathan Jurgenson .  He would suggest that our opponents might say that being connected to technology represents “dangerous desire, an unhealthy pleasure, an addictive toxin to re regulated and medicated”. They might argue that when plugging in we repress our “true selves.  We disagree – being connected in a balanced way enhances our realities and gives us opportunities to become our “best selves”.

Summary of Learning, EC&I 830, Spring 2016

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Here is the link to the summary of learning that Nicole and I made for EC&I 830. We used Imovie to create the video.  We used cue cards to express our learning as the weeks went by, then added music as the finishing touch.  The format was inspired by a scene in the movie “Love Actually”.

(click on the link below to see our Summary of Learning)

 

https://vimeo.com/home/myvideos

[Song Credits:    “We’re Going to be Friends”  by The White Stripes, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”  by Billy Joel, “I Won’t Back Down”  by Tom Petty, “Stressed Out”  by Twenty One Pilots, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”  by Bobby McFerrin, “Fly By Night”  by Chilliwack, “Doin’ It Right”  by April Wine, “A Hard Days Night”  by The Beatles, “With A Little Help From My Friends”  by The Beatles.]

 

This class has been an interesting experience from beginning to end.  I was intimidated and nervous about taking a technology class because of my lack of technological experience.  I have learned many important things from the debates, and from my classmates.  Most importantly, for me, this class has resulted in a miraculous change for the better.  Somehow, I have gained strength and confidence that was not there before.  I think there are many reasons for this –  including the constructive feedback from peers, as well as the actual ‘doing’ (practicing).  I have realized that technology does not have to be scary, but just like everything else, if you practice – you will get better.  I know that this change will benefit me and therefore in turn, will benefit my students.  I am grateful to have taken this class.

I would like to thank Nicole Putz for being  a wonderful partner on this project.  I would like to thank Alec and Katia for facilitating this class, and for their support and encouragement.  I would also like to thank my classmates for their inspiration and encouragement along this ‘technology journey’.

🙂

all good

angela

ps

here are the words that went into my part of our project:
What Have I Learned?

if someone said i would take a technology class at university
i would have said “…no way!”

not because i don’t respect and appreciate technology
but because i am intimidated by it

once decided
i know that jumping off a cliff is always scary

this class seems to have a supportive community
…people willing to share and encourage

this is no different
than anything else that must be PRACTICED before it can be strengthened

create a blog – check
(sounds quick and easy…. but it wasn’t ! 🙂

worried about being successful with the logistics of the first “zoom room”
relieved that it went smoothly (impressive… and exhausting)

settling in to the flow of climbing this mountain
steep learning curve – onward and upward

Carol Dweck sums up my present relationship with technology
NOT YET  🙂

two blog posts this week
learning lots

a few people responded to me last week…
Yay !!

Nature Disorder – interesting !
it speaks to some conflicted feelings I have about screen time vs outside time

still a bit nervous about zoom sessions
worried in advance about how our debate will go

added an actual you tube video to a blog yesterday
Yay !!

a neighbor came over for technology help
and guess what? ….
ihelped her…..ME !

gaining a bit of confidence  🙂

more screen time than I have ever experienced
my eyes are burning

continuing to learn a lot of interesting things
trying not to feel guilty about my previous lack of participation in technology

trying not to be stressed….
but sometimes, compfight and wordpress don’t work for me

feel less intimidated and more willing to experiment with technology
need to encourage the same thing for my students

students really need to hear from me about digital citizenship
i am going to be a better role model from now on
digital footprint…
takes some work – but seems important and well worth it
posts, blog, plug-ins, hashtag, URL, hyperlink, meme …
i feel like I am learning another language
as I build confidence …
technology is not my enemy anymore

zoom sessions …
no longer intimidate me

debates have been relevant and informative
i learned how to download a Youtube video to my desktop

i learned how to use a program called Audacity
then, convert it to an
mp3 and import it into another program
i learned how to covert a file to a different format
and to use software like Vimeo and Powtoon

i have already used
some of the many classroom suggestions from my classmates

it has been interesting to reflect on the weekly topics
then formulate my opinion and blog about it
last week’s debate
pushed a few buttons  🙂

group work for debate has been great…
lots of beneficial collaboration

so many important things
for a classroom teacher
to consider …

i am really starting to understand how technology can be beneficial
in more ways than I knew

I AM GRATEFUL !  🙂

 

 

 

 

Who Owns Our Education Soul Anyway?

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This debate topic did not engage me at first glance.  I am one who likes to stay far away from the ‘politics’ of things.  When the debaters brought up their points this week – I realized that this topic is not something ‘out there’ … but  right in our ‘own backyard’.  I had not thought about the fact that vending machines in schools promote certain companies products. Then there are the textbooks and the laptops…

According to Andrea Peterson, “Google is tracking students as it sells more products  to schools…”.  In the US (and here too) schools have Chromebooks “cheap laptops that run Google software.  The company offers ‘free word processing and other software to schools.’  One of the problems is that Google tracks students and uses that information to ‘sell targeted ads’.  Another problem is that “because of the arrangement between Google and many public schools, parents often can’t keep the company from collecting their children’s data…”.  I also thought this is interesting : “Google only considers some services part of it’s education suite — such as Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs–but not others such as Search, Maps, Youtube, and Google News.  So if students are logged into their educational account and use Google New to find stories for a report or watches a history video on Youtube, Google can use that activity to build a profile about them and serve them advertisements outside its educational products”.

I think it is astounding how much money some companies are investing to provide their products to schools. In their article How Corporations Are Helping To Solve The Education Crisis, Schiller and Arena give some specific examples.  In the Us, big corporations are giving millions to support education., but these authors remind us that there should be a “role beyond just providing money.  Vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Eduction, Anthony Salcito says that they “need to bring a culture of sustainability to the process of transforming education.”

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Let’s talk a little about the Pearson Company. I naively thought that having textbooks online for students to access at home was a good thing. I know that the school pays for access and that each student has their own password. What I did not realize – is how Pearson gets paid at many different steps. (thanks to Justine and Tyler for finding this video).

According to Alan Singer, Pearson is a multinational company that makes more than a billion dollars a year. He says that “In education, (Pearson) is involved in curriculum and materials development, and public policy development. That is scary to me.
I agree with Jeremy, who points out that “when our school boards invest a huge chunk of their budget to companies like Pearson, the goal isn’t student success, so much as it is the need for classroom/school/division accountability in the eyes of whatever higher power that calls the shots/holds the purse strings, and the ongoing goal of using data as a means to make classrooms/schools/divisions run more efficiently.

Audrey Waters  (who refers to herself as a ‘troublemaker’), bring ups some good points.  She reminds us that partnerships between corporations and schools have been around for a long time.  It was also interesting to hear her say that schools are always on the ‘hotseat’ and blamed for ‘what’s wrong with the education system’.  It has been bothering me for a long time – how our society does not ‘invest‘ in education, so teachers end up feeling like they are not valued (in many ways).

Again,  a debate to broaden my knowledge.

all good

Social Media and Loss of Childhood Innocence

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I just watched the Sext Up video.  It was informative, disturbing and depressing.  It reminded me that exposure to sexual content is much easier now than when I was a child. In elementary school, there used to be ‘playground talk’ where people shared all their sexual knowledge(limited as it usually was), and some boys even shared their access to Penthouse and Playboy magazines.  But that was the extent of it (as far as I know).

It is so unfortunate that children are feeling pressure to be ‘sexy’ and feel the need to play that role.  As a grade three teacher, I see young girls wearing clothes that I wish they wouldn’t. Rebecca Sweat notes this in her article What Happened to Childhood? where she says that “…designers have simply shrunk teenage styles to fit younger girls.”

I think that the ‘sexualization’ of children has been happening for a long time (for example JonBenet Ramsey). But the internet makes it so easy now for young people to access whatever they might be looking for. Music videos and clothing are designed to interest youth and make them want to have ‘sex appeal’. The ease of access to pornography on the internet has young men and young women looking for and expecting sex to look a certain way.

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Photo Credit: Javcon117* via Compfight cc

I know it ages me, but as much as I am coming to appreciate the internet and the amazing things it can offer, I yearn for the simplicity of the good old days (from my vantage point). It seems that children now have an immense amount of pressure to look and act in certain ways. Not to say that this has changed immensely, but internet access has definitively not helped. Imagine that a Lingerie company in France is making garments for girls as young as four.  Does this not encourage child pornography?  Does this not encourage young girls to be thinking and dressing inappropriately for their age?

This debate is charged with emotion for many people. Especially those of us with our own children. How can we protect them from the inappropriate things they have access to on the internet?  I know that we can educate children to make wise decisions, but there are so many temptations and at some point, peers become more influential than parents.

Right now, I know a seventeen year old who thinks that because of freedom of expression, and showing her comfort with her own sexuality, that it is okay to be sending naked pictures to people. What this class has showed about our digital imprint being permanent,  makes me sad because I care about this girl, and for the many young people who seem to be doing this kind of thing indiscriminately.
Does this make me narrow minded? – maybe some would say so – but I wish they had the wisdom to make better choices.