Author Archives: Chris Brennan

EC&I 831 – Final Post – Major Learning Project

To begin, I will give provide a quick visual update of my major project for EC&I 831 that focused a basement stair renovation.

My major learning project was a long and intensive process of designing a concept, brainstorming tools and resources needed, and then applying this to my own contextual setting. To start this process in my first blog post, I viewed several YouTube videos to first create a design and see what might be possible in my situation with my stairs. To preface the above statement, I have never worked on stair renovations, and my basic handyman skills are quite limited, so this was a brand new experience for me.

However, I started to find certain YouTube channels, or social communities where I could search for various designs to fit my needs, but to also ask questions or seek feedback for the context of my personal design. Thus, one of the challenges of this process was being able to view such a variety of styles of stair designs and renovations, but then to bring into my own situation that limits certain options and possibilities. And, at the time, I had no idea how much that would matter, until I started to learn more about the intricacies of this specific home renovation.

The second blog post introduced me to the terminology that aids describing what exactly I am trying to do with this renovation. The treads refers to the horizontal board, the risers are the vertical boards behind the treads. If none of that made any sense, please refer to the following visual for an overview. The videos I watched in this blog became very insightful about what my potential design might look like when I could conceptually understand what this renovation could look like. Additionally, once I had my ideas collated, and organized , I could chat with the carpentry teacher at my school and seek his advice to my context. Moreover, this made such an impact on my process when I could have a dialogue about my project, and be able to articulate exactly what I imagined as a design, and how then I could create steps to follow based on his guidance. He was able to take all the ideas that I generated from various online communities and videos, and then apply it to my situation, and we could create practical steps to follow to achieve my target design.

My next blog post was designated to the practical side of buying new spruce wood to replace the old treads, and then installing all of these things in a smooth sequence. Spoiler Alert, this was not a smooth process, but the road to progress is never an easy sequence. I learned several things during this time period in my project and I will list them as bullet points below:

  • Never start pulling up the treads on your stairs at 10:30pm on a school night.. Never.
  • Sanding, jointing, and planing the new treads is tedious process that should not be rushed.. so sanding with higher grit paper will not make it go faster, but actually damage some of the wood and leave sanding circles.
  • PL glue needs to be utilized on the raw unstained wood when fastening to the stringers, so that is why I did not stain the boards before installed them first.
  • If you decide to stain your stairs, and let them sit for at least 24 hours between coats, please make sure all your laundry is up to date, and does not require the basement washer and dryer that the basement stairs lead too.. 😦
  • Be very careful lifting the old stair treads as you do not want to damage the existing strings. Luckily my old treads were only nailed in, so it was easy to pull them up with a crow bar, but if the have any adhesive on them, it can damage the structure below if you are not delicate in the demolition process.
  • Know a carpentry teacher, who in the midst of designing the musical theatre set, will help teach you how to use a router edging machine on Saturday morning at 9AM. Please refer to this photo to see how thrilled he was.
  • It is in your best interest to also have a teacher next door to your classroom who is an artist, and volunteers to paint a herringbone design on the risers with one days notice. She is an absolute champ, and if you would like to see some of her artwork, please give her page a follow @kh32flavours.

Concluding Thoughts:

This project was a lot of fun to work on, and required me to think from many different perspectives and designs that would best fit my home. I really enjoyed the problem solving side of finding the easiest and most cost efficient way to renovate the old stairs while for the most part completing the project on my own. All in all, I ended up spending just shy of $150 in total, and I could have certainly have done it cheaper in hindsight.

The Spruce Boards – $29 for a 14 footer, and $21 for a 10 footer. \

The Hardboard – $21 for a 4 ft by 8ft sheet that was used for my risers.

Floor Polytherane – $21 (250 mL) – I needed a new can but I only used a quarter of it.

Contact Cement – $15 – I used most of this for a 150mL can.

Epoxy Spray – $12 – 1 bottle and I used most of it for the stairs to not reduce sliding/slipping.

Paint Supplies – $35 – brushes, trays, and a few knick knacks. However, I had my own white paint, and a previous stain that I used for the risers so I did not need to buy that.

Total = $133

Although there were a few items that I had already that saved me some expenses such as: Brad Nailer, Stain, White Paint, Screws, Crowbar, and Reciprocating saw.

The social media platforms were certainly helpful in the design and concept process of this project. However, once I began the practical side of renovating, these mediums became less impactful, and skilled expertise and knowledge about my particular context became that much more prevalent. Although, social media and websites were extremely helpful, without the aid of personal expertise to apply the learning, it is slightly limiting to the authentic setting that my renovation occurred. Additionally, I found that having a face to face conversation with someone allowed me to feel more confident in the project to complete certain tasks with some emotional validation that even if I was completely sure that I could figure it out. And YouTube does not quite have that same impact on me personally, and I do not know if it ever could, but I was glad to have a balance of the virtual compiled with in-person learning to then begin the manual side of this project.

Additionally, I really value when I have time I am able to complete my own projects with guidance, and not simply watching someone else do the task. This has definitely been an interesting learning process because YouTube has certainly aided this style when I view a video and then I am inspired to and try it for myself. Moreover, this process of learning has inspired me more as a math teacher to allow students time and agency to make sense of the content without the pressure of having a product by the end of class to reveal their learning. It was and still is very tricky for me to wrap up all the different learning that occurred in this project, and it certainly could never be captured on a written exam that features multiple choice questions… So I love to work on projects such as this one to expand my own learning and comfort of trying new things without the fear of failure, easy answers, and pressure to have it all together when someone asks for it. And then how I can take what I have learned from this project and adapt it for my students to create more authentic, deeper, and creative way to foster, demonstrate, and reveal their own specialized way that they learn best.

Here is quick video below with a visual overview of my project as a whole, but I would really love to hear any potential feedback, comments, or questions regarding my learning project.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

EC&I 831 – Analysis of Internet Archive

Internet Archive… What is it?

The Internet Archive is a digital space that is a non-profit platform that functions as a library for data that may consist of websites, videos, books, audio, software, and images. As the Internet Archive’s mission states their goal is to “…provide Universal Access to All Knowledge”. The Internet Archive was created in 1996 similar to other newspaper resources, but these resources were slowly being saved online as a way to store and access this information at a later date. The online platform utilizes a program called the Way Back Machine to sort, organize, and access 25 years of web history.

Anyone can sign up for a free account at, and with that free account you have access to all resources on the platform, the ability to upload, and potentially revise articles or content. Therefore, this space meets the needs the requirements of the 5 R’s of Open Resources. However, I want to provide a bit of an analysis of platform from a teacher’s perspective.


  • Internet Archive provides multi-medium types of information and content that any teache could find useful in any subject that they teach.
  • The website is broken down into broad categories to easily select your desired type of medium to access the content.
  • The platform provides an “about” page to educate their users on what their program is about and why it is important in the world of OER’s. This is especially helpful as a classroom teacher in the education process with your students about the “WHY” of OER’s.


  • There is sooo much data and content on this page, and eve though it is broken into broad categories to sort it, it is still tricky to find exactly what you are looking for.
  • Having students access this website will be a teacher process to effectively understand how to find exactly what they are looking for without spending wasted time in this process.
  • Often a teacher needs very specific data or content that is connected to an outcome, so it can be dangerous to justify certain resources as evidence of that outcome, if it is not already linked to meeting that learning objective. This requires time on the teacher to explore this platform for its uses and connection to the desired learning outcome.

Here are a couple videos below that will visually depict a deeper understanding of Internet Archive and why it is an OER.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, please let me know what OER’s you have been using or researched this week and what their use may look like in your life/career.


EC&I 831 – Learning Project 4.0

This weekend I went full throttle with the practical side of completing my major project. Below are the videos that I gathered in the past two weeks that were quite insightful to fully determining my plan of action, materials, and execution of my steps to get full return for more free time that I had in this longer weekend. I will make a few comments on each video and how it helped my design procedure each time.

This video is extremely long for a typical YouTube Tutorial, but it was most insightful on the process of utilizing PL as a resource for installing the treads and risers for my stairs. And it helps to decrease the squeaky-ness in stairs when properly placed in position.

This video aided in my decision to simply replace my treads instead of trying to sand them down, or cover them based on the video’s depiction of knowing when to fix certain things, or start again. This was a long process for me to finally determine how I would redo these stairs, but I am glad with my decision to buy new treads using 2″ x 10″ x 14′ maple boards and cut to size to fit my context.

Although, this video’s design of the treads does not line up with my concept, I wanted to share it because I was more intrigued with their use of hardboard for their risers. I loved this idea, because hardboard is cheap, and they made it look amazing, so I had to give it a go for sure!!

Alas, here are some photos of my process thus far this weekend. There is still much too be done, but I am pretty proud of how far its come. I had a little help with my little shop teacher at my school with the use of a router, jointer, and planer to save myself some time. In case anyone was wondering, no injuries were had this weekend and no blood shed, so not bad.

Here we go!!

Maple 2″ x 10″ x 14′ and 1 sheet of hardboard
The hardboard needs to be sanded down on one side because it had a shine. This makes it easier to paint later.
The old steps looking for a face lift.. or to simply be lifted because they will no longer exist.
Yes, it was a messy process and it hurt my heart to not instantly clean it up.
I had some help from the shop teacher at my school to plane, joint, and router each of the board to give it a more finished looking so it was ready for install.
Everything goes perfectly until the final step… classic. Needed some far superior tools such a reciprocating saw and elbow grease to finally get to one out.

Well that was enough for one day!!

Day Two required some patience, finesse, and extreme flexibility that none of the Youtube videos revealed as I had to scale up the stairs as I began to stain the steps from the bottom upwards, so I was not trapped in the basement for the next 24 hours.

I choose to utilize a red mohagany finish for the stairs to give it a dark look that will complement with the mosaic floors below. As well, I have used this stain previously on a bench in the mudroom so I wanted to keep the colors consistent in the house.
Painting the hardboard white that will be used as my risers… Side note: Please measure each risers and do not assume they are all the same… or a 8×4 sheet of hardboard will be wasted very fast.. I learned this.. 😦

Well, I would love to hear your feedback, and maybe any tips or tricks or ideas you have moving forward.

I still need to coat the risers with multiple coats of polyurethane… and I need to find some that may be a bit grippy so I do not have any yard sales as I race down to the basement to do laundry. The above statement has partial truths in it, I will let you decide what it is.

Also, I need to finally install the risers after the treads are fully coated, but until then if you see anything that might need some tweaking, please let me know!

Until next time!

EC&I 831 – The Openness of Open Education

This week in EC&I 831, we discussed the topic of Open Education. In its very definition of the concept, open education can be simply put is an open door for anyone to access, walk through, and utilize at their leisure. However, most people would think that education, information, and access to it is technically “open” and free, so how does Open Education change any of this process or concept? This is where my understanding of Open Ed has changed and expanded this week with introductions to certain topics such as Creative Commons, Common Core Standards, and Online Sharing Laws are a few things that restrict, limit, and encroach on the concept of sharing, participating, and engaging with learning in online spaces.

A quote that resonated with me this week about Open Ed stems from Michael Wesch’s Anthropolical Introduction to YouTube where he states, “… the web is not about just information, but about linking people… linking people together in ways we have never done before”. Certain words that he brings to mind that connect the above concepts about the openness of Open Education start with: copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetic, rhetoric, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family, ourselves. Now there are a various words there that are connected deeply to what it means to share and link to one another, but the words that stand out the most revolve around authorship, ethics, and identity. I love the concept of sharing and being able to be connected to one another through our similarity and conversely through out differences.

Therefore, Open Education Resources for me should be centered about that idea of sharing with connections to authorship of knowing where it comes from, ethics about how the sharing process should look, and how your identity is shaped, molded, or changed as this activity of growth and learning occurs. As Dean Shareski referenced in his Talk, the more we are concerned about rights and privacy the further we steer away from the basic premise of education which is sharing! Those words hit deeply in my core because I detest when legalities and formalities disrupt and encroach on true authentic learning, and growth. Thus, I have compiled three main points from different Open Education Resources that I want to explore more as a teach with reference to some of the core values or authorship, ethics, and identity.

1.) Creative Commons:

Creative Commons is a platform that I want to utilize more with myself and my students as a data base to upload, share, and utilize content. A big part of this process requires understanding what creative commons is and why it exists and how that is uniquely connected to authorship, and ethics.

2.) Flickr:

Flickr is one of the largest image hosting websites. The goal of utilizing Flickr more would focus on how many images are not properly shared with google images, and why that is important when it comes to building a digital identity online with different platforms and designs.

3.Open Learn:

This is another platform that I would love to access with my students as independent studies or self learning projects to build more metacognitive processes in their growth. This space allows for choice to build, develop, and mold identity as student have access to a variety or topics and passions that they have invest their time in.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on

In closing, OER are great and accessible platforms and spaces for students and teachers to begin to expand their learning and continue to build their digital citizenship. However, conceptual understanding and deeper meaning of why these spaces exist are fundamental to its usability and effectiveness. Therefore, I will continue to share my thoughts and learning with reference to Open Education as it is at the core of learning in our education system.

EC&I 831 – Social Activism and Teacher Responsibility

In preparation for this topic, I read the following post this week that begs to ask the question what is the role of educators in online spaces with reference to social justice and anti-oppressive content. Now, this is a very challenging question to begin with, but perhaps breaking down what online spaces are and how they are included in this context will be helpful. Online spaces include things such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, Emails, Forums, etc. The above post is to suggest that silence speaks as seemingly loud as words therefore, it is vital that as educators to speak out and communicate about thoughts and ideas surrounding these topics. And, I agree with this statement 100%, but how this is carried out is very different from person to person. However, it is very difficult to know when a silence in one online platform speaks louder than words utilized in another platform.

I found an interesting perspective from Curtis Norman’s post that shared about defining the moment, or how a moment can define you. And to this extent, how silence in a moment can be defining. I really found this thought intriguing because as a teacher there have been plenty of times where my silence or lack of action has caused a challenging situation to arise because it had not been addressed properly beforehand. So this thought has resonated with me uin how I navigate the intricacies of social activism while not being labeled, defined, or viewed as unsupportive by my silence.

However, I draw back to the original post that discusses the agency of our privilege and how being about to make the choice allows us to better address and educate others on the topic in an online world. Thus, learning how to understand our own privilege and how to speak against oppressive or seek social justice is important to have a deeper perspective on these topics. I really like this idea of being able to utilize the privileges’ we have for the learning, sharing, and challenging of others, but I am perplexed by perhaps the various different types of digital citizens, and how they manifest in these situations. That is, I resonate with the comment the original post that states:

I believe that I connect the most with this comment because it is a tall task to be present on all online forms advocating and communicating anti-oppressive education and supporting social justice movements. That is to say, I think it does reveal how our own privilege to speak and communicate about these topics allows for variability and uniqueness. However, it is very challenging then to not to view a silence in one form as a a direct communication on how we truly feel/think on that topic.

I really value one on one, direct communication, face to face to engage in topics with social justice and anti-oppressive education, and sometimes it is very difficult to put words into writing as opposed to a connected conversation in the presence of others. I would love to learn how to branch these two worlds, but I think what comes up for me is if I’m not doing enough in an online world to advocate and and communicate my thoughts, then it reflects poorly on my character and thoughts on the issue.

In closing, I think it is possible for educators to model what it means to be an active responsible engaged citizens online, but it is trickier world to navigate and sometimes over-communication in this process is better than under communication, which I do believe is better than silence on hard topics.

EC&I 831 – Learning Project 3.0

So, I made a pretty lofty goal of renovating my basement stairs in my home for my learning project, and if you wanted to check out what they look like, give my previous post a read. However, this week I began by doing some more inquiry into what this project might entail and require of me… both physically and financially. Therefore, I did not realize the future challenge that arose in the wake of this great idea to give my stairs a face light. As evidence in the video and website below, to provides your stairs with a rebirth of colur and aesthetic appeal, it is going to really depend on the condition on the stairs prior. I have not had the time to extensively look over my stairs yet, but my house is old and my stairs are original to the house… so there might be some potential challenges and financial decisions with how I will provide with the project.

However, I did learn new vocabulary on this topic as the vertical boards on stairs are called the risers, and the horizontal boards are called treads. This was helpful when I began talking to my colleague who works in the shop department and he has no idea what I was conceiving to do with my stairs until I utilized the correct terminology… πŸ™‚

Upon chatting with the shop teacher at school, sanding down all the stairs seems like a do-able task to complete, but it will entirely depend on the condition of the stairs and how much maintenance they require.. and the time that I have available to work on them. Although, I watched the video below that provided a new way to possibly paint the treads and replace the risers. This provided hope on my original design, but still I will need to investifate more moving forward with the conditions of my stairs.

I have tried to find a couple of video on how to create different designs on the risers with parallel lines or triangles, but the most helpful one was this video that was posted on an instagram account that provided multiples visuals, and a step by step video story on the process which was very helpful. I will continue to investigate what it might require moving forward, but I hope to make it look like the photo below, however, the second photo may be a bit more realistic.

Please let me know your thoughts below and if you might have any pointers or area of interests/ideas moving forward!

Many Thanks! πŸ™‚

Trello!! Let’s Find Out More.

Photo by Christina Morillo on

I am looking the media app called Trello. It is an online organizational platform to connect, manage, and share plans with a large network…. You can find them on Twitter if you would like to see what they are up to.

Here is a quick overview of Trello.

Here are a couple of short observations I have, and I will share more in the video below:


  • Trello is very user friendly and creative.
  • The visual appeal of the design of each board attracts the eye and the user.
  • The use of colours and designs brings to life how you organize projects and establish roles.
  • Lists are customizable to fit your needs and structure of your plans.


  • Similar to other calendar and scheduling tool, so it might be difficult to align everyone in the same place.
  • The desired audience is geared to high school and beyond. Therefore, it would not be as effective for younger years, but still possible. However, administration and groups within a school would greatly benefit from its use.
  • Slightly limited controls over the various boards and how they can be implemented for your needs.
  • Challenging to manage several boards at once to within the main page.

Educational Opportunities:

This app is geared towards a more adult audience, and would be great for administration and organizing events, meetings, roles, and groups, but does not reach the audience of students to engage in a way to develop learning patterns and organizational skills. However, I do believe this app could be utilized in a classroom setting with the proper instruction and modelling of its effective to capture its use even though it may not feel relevant to students at that age group. Therefore, if it was implemented in a school, I would love to see staff utilize it with a strong understanding its effectiveness to then allow their students to connect this program within their own learning.

Here is my screen cast below reviewing the app and its feature within an educational context.

**Please let me kow your thoughts on the app, and if it may be relevant in your life, or in your classroom.

EC&I 831 – Learning Project 2.0

So, it appeared that 60% of this class shared the great idea that creating a podcast with a fellow classmate would be an original and authentic concept for a learning project…. Therefore my previous learning project post will be scrapped and I will start again.

It became apparent to myself and Durston Mckenna that a different learning project would better fit for us. Thus, I have decided to follow my other idea of a learning project that focuses on a home renovation of redo-ing my stairs to my basement. I have various idea of what this might look like, but the purpose of this project to seek various social platforms and groups to gain insight and concepts to how this project might look. I have never completed anything such as this. I have basic handy-man skills and will need to borrow tools for certain things in this project, but I am excited to expand my knowledge, network, and have something tangible as a product from my learning.

So, here are my stairs at the exact moment. They have an old nasty carpet on top that needs to go and I will determine what will work best for what is underneath based on my ideas and concepts that I develop from my connections to content and online communities.

Further, I have begun to starting building a learning community that will aid in the renovation of these stairs. This video was one of the first one I saw on YouTube that seem to fit for the desired location and appeal. This next video was heplful to provide more context on the pre-work before installation and how that may look in this context as well. Therefore, I will spend more time in coming weeks uncovering the stairs and utilzing the various techniques to begin my pre-work on this project.

would like to complete this project for the most part on my own and on a pretty strict budget of no more than $200 – $300. This may be loft goal at the moment, but I think it can be attainable if I ask the right people for wood.. and for future labour. I may need to borrow a few tools to complete certain aesthetic designs, but this should also be possible with accessing the shop at the high school that I work at. I will post a few potential designs below that have peaked my interest.

Additionally, I have joined this Facebook Group to follow along with renovation tips and tricks. And the group allows for people to comment, ask questions, and seek advice. This platform will work well as I can post photos and videos to my questions, so it will add clarity to anyone who will respond back to my questions. YouTube is great for understanding how to complete a task, but this platform aids in allowing multiple voices to add their expertise/opinion to how that task may be completed. I have not commented in this group yet, but as I uncover more of the project, then I will begin to start formulating a post that may seek understanding in my process.

So, if you have any ideas on potential designs that you like, feel free to share yout thoughts below, or if you have completed a similar project, I would love to connect with you.


EC&I 831 – Learning Project – Part 1

The premise of this project is to learn a new task, skill, or concept utilizing an online platform and or community to extend and enrich growth. Narrowing this project down to what would be worth learning, or meaningful to me in the context of my teaching year and the limitations that this offers. Sure, it would be great to learn how to play the guitar, but that is not really one of my passions, and if I were to invest significant time and effort into this skill I would want to get more something more out of it, then simply a new task to add to the “tool-belt”. Which reminds me of this Ted Talk, that discusses how anything can be learned in the first 20 hours. And that sounds great and I love the idea of it, but for me, it is important to prioritize what it is that I want to learn, and make sure its meaningful and hopefully can be utilized more in my life moving forward.

However, Durston Mckenna and myself have centered on the idea of learning how to create a podcast together that would connect within various topics in education. Now, it does seem that every one with a voice and a iphone decided to create a podcast during the long quaratine days/months/years.. etc. This is something that we are both intrigued by and want to invest more time in learning what this might look like, and how we can utilize our skills, extend our understanding and build a learning community together.

25+ Best Podcast Memes | Listen Memes, Joe Rogan Memes, Quickmeme Memes

It was helpful to check out this website that goes over the basics of starting a podcast and some potential gear that may be helpful to have in the startup process. A couple of the biggest take-aways as that having an actual microphone is super helpful as a phone and laptop’s mic are pretty junky, so it would not be a bad idea to invest in one. However, it may be wroth it as well to borrow one from someone who clearly had the same idea as we did, and then petered out after no one listened to their second episode… which is a huge fear that may occur in our case. Secondly, the easiest way to share your podcast with others is through the online platform SoundCloud. I have not worked extensively with soundcloud, but I am excited to learn more about it, and its capabilities.

So, any tips, tricks or funny Gifs/Memes that you have regarding a podcast would be greatly appreciated in the comment section below.