Author Archives: mrsksimon

Tik Tok in Education: Yes or No?

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I’ll admit that I really had no idea what Tik Tok was when I created an account over a year ago. I kept hearing about it from colleagues and students so I thought I would check it out. However, fast forward a year, I still feel like there is a lot more to discover about the social media platform. First, I thought I would do a little historical research to figure out more about this worldwide app. Brandtastic’s blog gave a great overview about the history of Tik Tok. Some interesting facts I learned was that it was created in 2016 as a lip sync app in China. In 2022, over 60% of users were under the age of 25. Tik Tok is not without controversy as it has been pushed towards being banned in the United States and off of government employee phones. However, it continues to be one of the dominating social media platforms in the world.

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All I have used it for is watching videos which in the evening can turn into a full hour session in an instant! I still have not made my own videos and truthfully don’t think I ever will! If I were to take the plunge, this getting started video would be very helpful to those just starting out on Tik Tok, though.

I learned from this instructional video that to create a Tik Tok video it is a three step process of recording, editing and posting. However, the process of adding filters and music seems to be daunting. I am more in the discovery phase of Tik Tok. After downloading the app, I used it solely on a personal level to watch funny videos at the end of the school day or check out a trend a colleague or Professor suggested such as Pot Roast’s Mom.

However, recently I have started to explore it professionally as well. I have found many helpful tips and even funny videos on #teachertiktok. Some of my favourite accounts to follow professionally on Tik Tok include @farmerlovesphonics who has helped me research and provide strategies and instructional practices to staff that align with the Science of Reading. I also enjoy the tips and ideas regarding addressing challenging behavior and social emotional learning from @behaviorconnection. These accounts are just a couple of my top followers for professional use.

Something new to me as I explored Tik Tok further this week was creating collections. This is a feature I found very useful instead of simply saving them to favourites, you can create categories. This week I created a gardening category to support my major project for this class, a general school collection for professional ideas and a motivation collection that I could use with students and staff during discussions and meetings.

Speaking of students, I was thinking about how Tik Tok could be used safely, to support student learning. I would probably use some of the motivation videos in lessons with students to support social emotional learning. I might also use funny animal videos to increase engagement. As I currently work with younger students up to Grade 4, I believe this would have to be mainly teacher controlled. As I sit in my office at school, I can’t seem to get onto Tik Tok at the school which makes me wonder if it is blocked for usage at the school level. This could be a problem when trying to use it for educational purposes. However, with older students, perhaps you might engage them by challenging them to create a video for a project or topic they might be learning about. Again, strong guidance and safety protocols would have to be adhered to as many parents may not feel comfortable with their child using Tik Tok.

So, after reviewing the social media platform, I still have many questions about how to use Tik Tok appropriately in schools. As a mom of an 11 year old, I am working to teach my daughter digital citizenship and internet safety but she still believes a lot of what is out on the internet even though it might not be factual. Therefore, for the students I work with I would primarily use it as an option to share appropriate videos with them during a lesson or on google classroom. I will continue to use the professional ideas and accounts I have found within Tik Tok to support my role as an Administrator and Teacher. I will continue to use Tik Tok both personally and professionally as a place to watch interesting and humorous videos. I like to check out the newest challenges such as #skipping challenge. However, the next Tik Tok star will not be me!

I would like to know your thoughts on Tik Tok. How do you use Tik Tok on a professional level? Do you allow students to access it? What are some of your favourite Tik Tok accounts to follow?

Thanks for reading and sharing your answers!


Planning Time!

The long weekend seemed like a great time to start planning my raised garden bed build. I always get the itch to start planting and greenhouse shopping around this time. I really need to reign myself in and budget wisely otherwise I could easily end up with way more plants than I need. I believe this approach will be needed for planning my raised garden bed as well.

I started by researching the best types of wood to use for my garden build. I went straight to my favourite planning social media platform Pinterest. I had already started a board titled “Gardening That I Love” so I decided to browse and add to my search of what type of wood I should use to build the garden bed and any designs I liked. I especially enjoyed this blog post from Deanna at Homestead and Chill titled “7 Ways To Make Wood Garden Beds Last: Nontoxic Sealer & More”. I decided that I wanted to use cedar as I thought it would be easy to find. Boy, was I wrong! Rural Saskatchewan it turns out is not the best place to shop for cedar. I spent most of Saturday morning calling local lumber yards all within an hour of my home with little or no luck in sourcing cedar fence boards.

In the midst of this calling adventure, I began looking at different designs that I might like to use as inspiration or plans for my own raised garden bed. The look and simplicity of this design was something I was really interested in.

However, the location I chose in my garden area was a corner section where the grass was spotty and the land was flat. Therefore, I wanted something that would meet in the middle providing a garden bed on each side. I did not have any luck finding a design to match the area I wanted to build the raised garden bed in.

Area to build my raised bed by Kendra Simon

I guess it was time to design my own! After calling around to several places, I finally found luck in Regina sourcing 6 foot cedar fence boards. Using this information, I planned my design around using the 6 foot cedar fence board for my original plan. It seemed to resist rot and was budget friendly upon my research.

Garden Bed Design by Kendra Simon

Now, I wondered what this design would truly look like plotted out and when I would be able to get to Regina which is almost 3 hours away from where we live. So, I started by plotting out my design, with a little help from my husband! The visual provided great clarity as to whether or not my design was what I was looking for. It turns out, I wanted to make some adjustments to my original design as noted in this video.

Updated Drawing of Design by Kendra Simon

I realized that 6 feet did not provide enough room on either side for a large amount of space for plants to grow and develop. It would really limit the amount of plants I could put into the raised bed. Adding an additional 6 feet on each side seemed to be the best plan to go with. Now, all I needed was a plan to get the wood! I called a few family members to see if they were going to the city soon. However, no one was planning a trip. So…with no big plans for our family this weekend before our weekends become full of sports events, we decided to take a Sunday road trip to Regina for wood and a few other household items.

Doing a little price comparison, we found that Rona seemed to be the best deal in the city for cedar boards. I am thankful for the knowledge my husband has in this area as I was given a mini-lesson on picking the best boards for the project. Each of the 36 boards (a few extra for good measure) were inspected to ensure they were not warped or cracked. After combing through two different bundles, we were able to pay and load up!

After, accomplishing our task, we couldn’t resist a little stop at McDonald’s for our daughter and of course Costco for the whole family. These are luxuries to those of us who live in rural Saskatchewan!

The next steps in my learning journey will be researching all about safety when using power tools and actually practicing before trying to cut into my precious cedar boards! Stay tuned for my next post about how I overcome my fear of the power saw. Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions to help me along the way to building my raised garden beds.

Thanks for reading!

If I Dream It, Maybe I Can Build It!

The warm weather has me dreaming about gardening as I begin to think about my major project. I have decided to tackle the learning project and learn about carpentry. Since I want to be outside as much as possible in the Spring, I figured what a better way to combine my love of gardening and learning about carpentry than to build a new raised garden bed in my current garden area. I love watching DIY shows but haven’t been brave enough to tackle anything on my own. I often have these big plans for my husband to build things for me but not this time! I am going to tackle this learning myself and even conquer a bit of a fear of power tools.

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Although I remember taking an Industrial Arts class in high school, I do not recall any of the skills I learned back then. I have often held boards for my husband but that truly has been the extent of my carpentry skills. I do know how to use basic tools such as hammers and screwdrivers but that is all I know. I have used the power drill but often sink in the screws too far! I have never wanted to go near the saw. So I am thinking I need to start at the beginning and watch educational videos on tools and safety. I’ll admit that my biggest fear is using the power saw! This article from wikiHow is a great place to start my learning. Once I feel, I have a grasp on this information, I believe I will need to head to the garage and get a live lesson from my husband on using these tools. I believe I will need to practice using these tools until I feel confident to move on and start my carpentry project.

The next step in my learning process is to research and find answers to some inquiry based learning questions. Here are my essential questions I will be researching as I begin my learning project:

  • What are some different garden bed designs that I would like to build?
  • What type of wood is most durable for garden beds?
  • What additional materials will I need to complete my project?
  • Do I have all the tools I will need to build and complete my project?
  • What dimensions will my garden bed be based on the outdoor area it will be placed in?
  • How will I need to prepare the area for the garden bed?
  • Are there any plans I could follow or step by step directions to complete my project?
  • What types of plants and flowers will I fill my garden bed with?
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I have the dream of being able to create a beautiful garden bed for our yard. However, I think it is going to take perseverance and a lot of patience to develop my learning and skills. Perhaps, this learning and skill development will give me the confidence to try other carpentry projects in the future! So, here I go diving into this adventure with a lot of hope and the excitement that I am going to learn to create something for our yard that we will enjoy for years to come! Stay tuned as I walk you through my weekly progress on this project. I look forward to your feedback and tips if you have any knowledge in this skill area. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!


Social Media: A Love, Hate Relationship But Mostly Love

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I have always been intrigued by social media and use a few different platforms both personally and professionally to connect, learn and keep up with the current world. The first social media platform I joined on a personal level was Facebook. I loved being able to see pictures and posts from family and friends. It was a great way to keep up with my sister and watch my nephew and niece grow up even though they lived five hours away from me. One of my favourite features on this platform is the memory section! It is interesting to see that I used to post a lot more and it has saved me on occasion by helping me remember birthdays of those I care about.

However, I have found in recent years, my use on Facebook has declined. I no longer post what I am up to. I find the feed to be quite sparse with posts from family and friends. Instead it has become filled with more ads connected to my searching habits. During the pandemic, I began to search for a sense of community professionally. While working from home, I enjoyed watching live talks from Dr. Jody Carrington who helped myself and my school staff through navigating online teaching and trying to feel connected during such a trying and isolated time. Recently, I have started using Facebook for more professional communities. I have a strong love of literacy and have joined several groups based on current research. It has been a great experience seeing what other schools across North America are implementing into their literacy programs.

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Instagram has been my go to platform for all things related to healthy lifestyles such as recipes, fitness ideas and a little fashion inspiration! I find it is a platform, I mainly use to scroll for ideas and not so much as a connecting piece with others. Once again, I do not enjoy how my feed becomes inundated with ads related to my searches. One look at a clothing website and suddenly several ads pop up daily related to this website.

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I’ll admit when I first heard of Twitter, I thought to myself that I didn’t understand it and was never going to join. However, I attended a conference in March of 2017 which I just looked up on my profile for reference and to learn my Twitter anniversary. George Couros was speaking and he challenged the audience to get connected to Twitter as a professional learning community. This platform has been my main professional outlet to connect and learn from other educators and scholars ever since. I am not good at creating my own tweets very often but enjoy retweeting a positive message and/or quote. Recently, I found myself watching an Ed. Tech tournament on the feed which had people voting for their favourite Ed. Tech tool. I watched and voted daily. I am proud to say that Canva which is one of my favourite Ed. Tech tools was the champion.

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Social media has allowed me to learn and grow from others based on my individual interests and choices. It allows me the opportunity to feel connected both personally and professionally with people I wouldn’t normally be able to on a daily basis. However, the downside is that I often find myself navigating through ads and have seen an increase in propaganda and political divides filling up my feeds on all of my social media platforms. I need to remember to unplug once in awhile because time passes so quickly when you are scrolling in the evenings! I am curious to see how these platforms change and which new platforms emerge in the future. As my thirteen year old niece informed me, “Auntie, Facebook is only for old people, you need to join Snapchat. I’ll send you my username so you can connect.” So far, I haven’t accepted her invite but who knows what might happen in the future! Which social media platform do you use professionally? Thanks for reading!