Category Archives: ECI833

Summary of Learning: Never enough time

I wanted to be thorough with this assignment, as I had a lot that I wanted to share, but as I have learned in several of my courses, brevity is key. The first draft of this assignment was exactly 14:00, and there was definitely some fat that needed to be trimmed.

4.5 minutes disappeared from the final cut. I would like to note that I ‘wung’ it and just self-edited on the fly.

Here. We. Go!

Final Week: Counting is not a strong suit.

This single class started off so strong! At least in my head, that was my plan, and then life gets in the way.

One can never quite prepare for the loss of a parent, but we all face the inevitable at some point in time. When this happens, we just need to put one foot in front of the other and do our best to continue moving forward.

Learning how to reupholster was a really enjoyable project to tackle. I have avoided the use of Chrome Tanned leathers in the past due to my preference to dye and finish Veg Tanned leathers, but due to the nature of needing a pliable medium, I took the leap.

At $1.63 a square foot, I was able to purchase two full hides in an attempt to tackle two big projects, which was down from the three that I had originally planned.

As I worked through my grief, I realized a few things about this project and life.

  1. We always think we have more time than we really do – I felt comfortable with the amount of time that I had been able to spend with my mother over the past year. I had hoped that things would work out for the better, but they worked out the best way that they could. Six weeks for this project seemed like lots of time, but with life taking up some of this last class, I am happy with the project that I was able to finish.
  2. Accept the cards we are dealt – Having my local fabric store close and not being able to get leather as quickly as I wanted, I had to let go of the initial plans that I had laid out. I focused on what I was able to get done, and accepted that I wasn’t going to get as much done as I had wanted to. Again, I know that I couldn’t change the trajectory of my mother’s journey, so I made the best of what I could.
  3. Appreciating what you have – My mom was a seamstress in her life, and I have always been rather handy with a sewing machine or a needle. I am now in possession of her sewing machine and some furniture that she had hand picked. I am able to take what I have learned over this past six weeks and make use of skills that I have developed over my life and combine them. Although I may not be fond of the fabric on the chair that I will tackle this summer, I am very appreciative of having it in my possession.

This learning project definitely provided me with the challenge of learning a new skill by leveraging online resources, but it also challenged me to slow down and just do what I can.

I may have stumbled over the finish line, but I made it.

Btw, this piece had been hanging in my parents bedroom forever, I thought it would only be fitting to include it here as my mom had been a big part of my Masters journey, she was pretty proud of my accomplishments.

Week 6: Education; behind the paywall

Education appears to no longer be about the betterment of a society, but an arm of capitalism to generate GDP and drive the economy.

Last semester, we examined an idea from Bourdieu around the concept of Capital. He suggests that there are three different species of power and the come in the form of:

  1. Economic Capital – money (or the ability to develop access to)
  2. Cultural Capital – the social assets of a person that promote social mobility.
  3. Social Capital – connections (who you know)

Access to quality education will have an impact on a person’s ability to access all three forms of capital, as has been laid out above. At its simplest, each of these three forms of capital are reducible to economics (Shmaus & Wimmer, 2013).

That means that the degree that you hold (and the one that you are currently working towards) are  forms of culture capital.  This culture capital allows you to access economic capital, or more simply, money.  Further to this, with this institutionalized access to culture capital, those families that are able to access further educational credentials will be able to pass on this culture capital to their children, giving them a leg up in their early childhood.

Part of the solution to this issue is remove as many barriers for universal education as possible. One of the ways that this can be done is through the concept of Open Education.

Open education is an educational movement founded on openness, with connections to other educational movements such as critical pedagogy, and with an educational stance which favours widening participation and inclusiveness in society.


A problem with this concept is that education has been offloaded to corporations through neoliberal practices and our entire education system is entangled in those resources.

So, where do we start?


  1. OER Commons
  2. Openstax
  3. Course Materials – Textbooks
  4. Merlot – 35K+ Course Resources

One of the ways that I have embraced this concept is by openly sharing my teaching resources with other teachers or prospective teachers. I have a relatively active Google Drive that I have built over the past ten years, and am quite open to sharing my own resources. I know that it isn’t much, but it is a place to start.


  1. Do you openly share your own resources?
  2. Can we untangle ourselves from the neoliberal practices of the West?
  3. Should education be free for all?

Enough Horsing Around!

I have been known for biting off more than I can chew. At work, I help run the following: Overseas Trip, Drama, Grad, Student Leadership, and the Year-End Sr. High Camping Trip. And then on top of that I have been doing my Masters. I had stated to my partner in crime at work that I would need to drop Drama or Leadership if I took on my Masters, but instead I picked up the other two responsibilities.

What does that have to do with this project, Brian?!

Well, I had three projects all planned out, but apparently five weeks is not enough time to lock all of those things down and stay on top of all the other responsibilities

This is a chair that my mom had reupholstered for my older brother over 20 years ago. When he no longer wanted it, it was passed on to me. In the last two moves from Hinton to Lacombe, and then into my apartment, this chair got lost in the shuffle. If I remember correctly, it sat in our basement in Hinton and collected dust. Currently, it is in my bedroom and is, more often than not, where I place clothing that isn’t quite dirty.

As you can see from the photos, the wood on this chair is in need of refinishing, and the fabric…is the alphabet; not exactly my style. When I told my daughter, Aeris, that I was planning on reupholstering this chair, she thought it was blasphemous to replace the fabric seeing as how my mom was the one who had last had hands on it. I am certain that my mom would be quite happy to see that I am adapting it to better fit what I want.

This radio is from my dad’s old collection. He used to go around from garage sale to garage sale buying this behemoths for 30-60 bucks and then bringing them home and refinishing them. He used to have 30-35 of these large radios in the room where we had the pool table, so we did not get to use that space for years. He really liked to refinishing of the wood, so I figure I will take a shot at stripping the finish off of the chair before I re-cover it.

With that in mind, I have been doing some research, looking for some websites to help guide the process. looks to have some solid resources for this. I have finished furniture before, but have never had to strip and sand to prep for a new coat of stain.

Now, this all seems like a fun project. But as I am working with a much larger object than my chair cushions, I will need to be looking at some different skills for this. I was able to locate this video on YouTube to help me understand the process.

(Strangely enough, the video won’t show, but click through on the link)

My only concerns are around the fact that the chair that my mom reupholstered is stuffed with horse hair, she wanted to keep the original filling. Horse hair? Seriously?

This is definitely a summer project for myself, as getting those four chairs done, while trying to balance the other aspects of my life, has been more of a challenge than I anticipated. Either way, I am excited for this next step. I have plenty of leather to tackle things as laid out in the video above, I just need more time.


  1. Would you consider upgrading a product that your parents had left their mark on?
  2. How do you balance life/work?
  3. What experience do you have with refinishing furniture?

Week 3: Hammers and Chat GPT.

For anyone who has ever had to do repairs around their home knows, a hammer is only good for certain tasks. Picture to hang – Hammer. Leaky faucet – not hammer. Besides, how many of us are willing to hold the nail while someone else is going to swing the hammer? Don’t get me wrong, hammers can be used to solve quite a few problems, but it shouldn’t be the tool that you reach for to solve all problems around the house.

The same could be said for the use of Chat GPT. In my short time using this new tool, I have found that it is great for asking some silly questions and then having some laughs around the answers that it gives. But, I have also been discovering that much like a Boolean search, the knowledge of how to seek information is almost as important as know what to ask.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Much like humans, the right questions with the right phrasing will net better results. Here are some resources that I have gathered to help guide people in the right direction:

  1. What to ask Chat GPT
  2. Tips for Better Questions

What can Chat GPT do?

To be honest, I haven’t spent enough time with this new tool to really be able to answer the question. What I am finding out is that if it can’t answer my question, the problem probably lies in how I asked the question, or even the time of day.

For example, this is from earlier today.

Then when prompted again.

And then finally, this was asked 4 hours later.

As you can see, there are some inconsistencies in the responses and this is something that a teacher will need to talk to their class about.

The example of having Chat locate quotes for students could be quite frustrating for them, as they may be lead to believe that this ‘hammer’ can do everything for them, but in this case, they need to know how to use it effectively.

This link has a great list of ways to leverage Chat:

  1. Generate leveled reading passages.
  2. Create Questions based on sources.
  3. Language Learning


  1. How have you used Chat GPT in your classroom?
  2. Are you worried about the potential use for ‘cheating’?
  3. Where do you see this technology being used in education?

Stretching and Sweating

So, this is technically week 4, not 3, of my major project. As I had previously thought, I had taken on too much for the time that I had/have. The goal of doing three separate projects was ambitious.

As I had picked up the leather last weekend, I was going to be using the same colour on both.

To assist with the replacement of the vinyl covering, I found multiple videos online to help better understand the process. The following video was one of many:

How to Reupholster Dining Seats

These videos were a great help when figuring out how to do the corners of the seats, as they can wrinkle and there can be lots of overlapping material that adds extra bulk to the bottom of the seat.

I used the old covers as a general size template for the leather before I cut it out. If I were running a business, I would definitely go bankrupt as I had a lot of waste as I was trimming the excess leather off of the bottom.

Apparently, when you do not clean your workspace/office it is difficult to find things that you need. I was able to locate my staple gun under some old leather scraps from last spring’s project for university.

I didn’t manage to take a ton of photos of the work in progress, but as I wrap up the final two chairs, I will highlight the process of doing the corners.

Overall, I am pleased with the quality of the two chairs. The leather, although cheap, feels extremely soft and much nicer that the previous covers.

My thoughts:

  1. This is a rather inexpensive way to upgrade the look of your chair.
  2. If the wood on the chair was beat up, I would not have bothered with the reupholstering.
  3. I am curious what the replacing of the foam would cost if I had a supplier closer.

Week 4: They call me the Ostrich.

Discussion from class this past week reminded me that I had started teaching (19 years ago) at a time when very little was understood about the role that Social Media (SM) would play in a person’s everyday life, let alone, how it would play out for a teacher. We were advised to avoid having any SM connections with students (at all!!) and that seemed to extend to a student’s parent as well.

From my experience, I did not want to live two lives online, a professional life and then personal. So, there I stayed for a very long time.

Photo by SHVETS production on

Let’s come back to this.

As an educator, have made little effort to have an online presence professionally. I had my school based website for assignments and resources, but had never created a SM account with the express interest of carving out a space for my students to interact with each other, or myself, under my eye.


  1. I did not want to be judged
  2. I wanted to end interactions with students at the bell
  3. I did not want to moderate conflict
  4. I did not want my personal/professional lives to blend
  5. People can be quite challenging in a place where they feel they have the right to say anything with little consideration given to the responsibility of their own words.

These were all very protective pieces for myself.

As mentioned above, I have now been questioning my own presence based off of an outdated understanding of SM. What happens online crosses into ‘the real world’ and vice versa. With that in mind, where I exist online needs to match where I exist in my daily life.

Previously, I would have dismissed the use of pronouns in my own SM profiles as it seemed like a possible source of conflict, but this past week has changed the way that I see that, as the exclusion of that information sends a signal to people (as does their inclusion).

In the same way that I must take a stance on matters of social justice in school, I must also online. I will not sit behind my keyboard and write essay responses to people who are just stirring the pot, I need to ensure that I walk the walk.

My daughter and I have conversations, weekly, about her TikTok posts. She listens, and although it may not change her behaviours immediately, I believe my words are important. I see behaviours (trends she participates in) that need attention and voice my concerns.

Twitter, I am still not a fan, but I get it.

TikTok, your comments section can be amusing, but also a huge source of conflict.

Facebook, you are filled with relatives who hold opinions that are varied and challenging.

Dear Instagram, I know that we should get to know each other better, but I don’t understand you. You appear to be FB’s younger sibling, but I really don’t understand the music that you listen to and why you need to keep asking me to check out all your friends posts.


  1. When was the last time that you felt you got a virtual smackdown from an internet stranger, and what did you learn?
  2. Do you have your student’s parents on any of your personal SM? How has that gone?
  3. What do you do to create a safe space online for those that need it?

Week 2: Tweeting, Twittering, and Twits

Social Media and I have been strange bedfellows; I consume, but tend to rarely create. Twitter was a platform that I avoided, and there is no solid reason why.

As I highlighted last week, I have mainly used FB as a way to connect with friends and family. I use it sparingly to date and probably mostly to just fire off a random message to friend or family member whose phone number I do not have.

Last summer, I fired up an account for Instagram as my daughter suggested it. I was off to a roaring start! I posted our trip in the summer and then promptly made no more use of it. Again, it is being utilized in the same way that I use FB.

Professionally, I have made use of TikTok over the past few years as ways to get students to present their ideas in English. The tool is familiar to the students, so there is little to no teaching required of the platform. The bite sized stories also require them to be succinct and creative.


I am attempting to take the plunge into the use of this tool.

In my time exploring the possible uses of this platform, there are some very unique and interesting ways that I have seen it been leveraged, and others that are a bit more mundane.

Simple Uses

While browsing the internet, I was able to locate the following uses:

  1. Classroom Progress – Keep parents and students updated on student assignments.
  2. Daily Highlights – Posting pictures of assignments and events.
  3. Student Accounts – Reflecting on assignments.

These are just some of the common ideas that stuck out to me, and they are the ones that are the easiest to accomplish. Please check out these two websites for other uses. Techhub and Elearning Industry

More Interesting Use

Currently, my Grade 11 class is reading Macbeth. For next year, I am going to leverage the use of Twitter.

A colleague, from 10 years ago, had decided to teach Romeo and Juliet using twitter as a tool to have students engage more with the material. She had created accounts for each of the main characters, and then had students interact with each other (through their characters) online. This webpage highlights what that would look like, and how much students understand the assignment.

Thoughts and Concerns

Since Twitter was purchased by Musk, I am far less inclined to make use of a platform that no longer appears to be as concerned about honesty and credibility. As highlighted by NPRs decision to step away because of the less stable direction that the new ownership appears to be heading.

There are so many different SM platforms that exist, the main benefit that Twitter used to offer was stability and verification. There was a much great level of trust a year ago with the platform, as it was very clear who was tweeting. With the changes that were made, anyone was able to (for awhile) pay to have their account ‘verified’ with a blue check, but this backfired in an extremely amusing way.


  1. How long have you had your twitter account and how often were you tweeting before class?
  2. Have you seen any creative ways to utilize this platform in your classroom?
  3. Are you less trusting of the platform with the new ownership?

Major Project: Week 2

This week threw me a curve ball for my project. I have been carrying out the

research necessary to better understand the process of reupholstering, but…

with the only fabric store nearby closing, I am definitely behind.

With that in mind, I have been gathering video resources to help me better understand the process, tools, materials, and skills necessary for me.

I discovered Tandy Leather two years ago when I first started my work with leather. They are an online retailer, but they also have physical locations in Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon that I have been to.

Leather Types:

As highlighted in this video, there are two main types of leather: Chrome Tanned and Veg Tanned.

Chromium leather is a relatively newer technology that allows a hide to be preserved in days, unlike Veg tanned which takes months. The properties of these two leathers are very different.

As I understand things, from my own usage and research, is that I will be using Chrome Tanned leather, mainly because it is soft and pliable. Veg Tanned leather can be extremely stiff and is far less pliable.


This is new territory for me. So the idea of choosing the right foam is not as important as procuring it. As I highlighted, Fabricland in Red Deer is closed, so I will have to do a bit of research to locate a supplier.


There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube for the process. I am not as worried about messing up the chair as I am in just getting the materials.

I am in Lethbridge this weekend, so my goal is to pick up at least two different sides of leather in two different colours. I will also be aiming to get my foams and adhesives to carry this out. I look forward to posting some real photos of what I am able to do this upcoming week.


  1. When buying your furniture, are you concerned about the quality of the product or the price?
  2. What’s worse, the seat cushion collapsing after a few years or for the fabric/pleather having premature wear?
  3. Is buying leather worth it?

Week 1: Plugging Back into the Matrix.

The more this loops, the more annoying I realize websites in the late 90s must have been!

Social Media has largely been a very passive activity in my life. It has been there to fill empty time when I haven’t really wanted to accomplish all of my adult tasks, and at other times I have used it as a platform to address some personal growth.

Way back in the day FB was a place that I updated regularly, added friends, rediscovered connections that had been lost. Those were the ‘good ole days’ of understanding the potential power of reconnecting.

The most powerful use of my social media was when I was going through a time of trying to figure out who I was, where I fit into the world, and how I could deal with my fear of being judged. As a teacher, I spent a fair bit of time in 2018-2019 coaching some of my students through their own personal struggles, and realizing that I was trying to address my own. Ugh! As I was terrified of judgement, I did what any sane person would do and entered a powerlifting competition.

I posted my progress on FB, added some positive messaging to the inner struggles, and worked through the discomfort of ‘being judged’. At the end, I didn’t know if I was or not, and it didn’t matter.

Starting this journey, I thought that I would love competing- I did not -but I had already signed up for a second meet to compete in and wanted to follow through.


Using twitter has never been a priority, and it turns out that I was ahead of the times in boycotting the platform, as Elon Musk has turned out to be a bit of a melomaniac with more money than common sense.

Originally my handle was something Transformers based, but two years ago I figure I should probably have something more professionally aligned. So, @BrianGrocholski it is. As of today, I am follow more than @courosa for the first time since I created this account.

Things to consider:

  1. How have you leveraged your social media personally/professionally?
  2. Do you spend some of your valuable time ‘doom-scrolling’?
  3. How has your social media usage changed over the years?


When class started, I was at a bit of a loss as to what I would do for this project. I wanted something that would bleed over into my classroom, but at the same time, I wanted to provide myself with a challenge.

Our math teacher is very passionate about the introduction of AI into the world of education, and he and I have been discussing the implications of platforms like Chat GPT in education. As an English teacher, I know that kids are playing with these platforms, and I want to ensure that I am prepared to help them navigate this world. So, my colleague and I discussed some possibilities of what I could do, as he has created several of his own chatbots for the online school that he runs.

Sounds easy!

I was feeling all in, but then I needed to switch gears.

My mom has been quite sick the past year, and with her passing on May 13th, I wanted to do something that was not going to drive me batty. So instead, I decided to leverage some of my leather making skills.

Obviously, I can’t pretend that I don’t know what I am doing, but when I was driving back from SK with an old chest that my mom wanted me to have, I came up with an idea- Upholstering. I had stumbled on a video a few months back where someone was re-covering a chair using leather, and that idea stuck with me.

As I had spend the last two weeks in SK with my mom and family, I am a bit behind. With that in mind, I have three projects that I am going to try and tackle. I have my kitchen chairs, which don’t need any love, that I am going to upholster first. There is a chair in my bedroom that my mom reupholstered years ago with this horrid alphabet fabric, and then the chest that was in my parents basement for years. The chest if the final project that I will tackle, as I will need to build a custom cushion from scratch, whereas the other two projects are refurbs.

With that in mind.

  1. Does anyone have any experience with upholstering? If so, add me on twitter @BrianGrocholski
  2. Has anyone else dabbled with leatherwork?
  3. Which of these three projects most interests you?

Is Virtual Reality Within The Classroom Beneficial?

Virtual Reality (VR) is something that has always intrigued me and I do believe it offers a wide range of possibilities. When Virtual Reality was first introduced to me, I thought it was the most fascinating thing and my friends and I would spend hours going to the beach, playing hockey and down rollercoasters, all in the comfort of my living room. VR is vastly emerging which is referred to Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) and sometimes even defined as extended reality (ER).

Let’s begin… What is VR and how is it used?

I must admit I am hesitant about bringing it into the classroom, after our breakout room discussion. I do believe that it offers vast opportunities for experiential learning, but I think there inevitably will be a divide if used in the classroom. First thing is money. VR is expensive and right now, we cannot even supply enough Chromebooks or iPads to the school, I am unsure how VR would be successful with limited supplies. Secondly, time. My students require sufficient scaffolding throughout lessons. Using VR would take up a lot of teaching time to teach them how to utilize it and how to effectively use it. Furthermore, Heller (2020) discusses serious concerns with VR such as privacy issues. Heller (2020) states, “Some researchers have found that autism in some young children can be gauged by irregular eye motion patterns. Other serious ailments, like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and concussions can also be diagnosed though eye tracking.” Through VR, our eyes are constantly moving to relate to what we are seeing. Heller (2020) goes on to say, “Performance on a VR game is not the type of information that those who created health privacy laws may have anticipated as related to one’s medical health – and imagine if those results were to be available for purchase by third parties, like insurers.” There is huge safety concerns and privacy breaches, as Heller (2020) discussed. It is “challenging to inform users of the deeper and full implications of collection of their data, since most people do not understand how involuntary bodily indicators of emotional responses, mental state, or health can be disclosures of fundamentally private information, like truthfulness, inner feelings, and sexual arousal.” In my opinion, I cannot be on board with bringing this into the classroom with so many harmful risks.

On the flip side, I do see opportunities to use it within different subjects that would supplement their learning. It is true that VR would “make learning a fun experience, in which both engagement and motivation are affected.” Makransky et al. (2021) discussed how appropriate instructional design is essential, to ensure relevant information is being taught or else students could be cognitively overloaded with the amount of information given at once. Within a variety of subjects, I do see potential like within science, going to space or being on an airplane (something my students have never had the opportunity of). In literacy, going on an adventure and writing about what you saw, how you felt, what you did, to expand upon their writing. In Physical Education, they could participate in different sports like hockey, football or baseball. I do see the possibilities within all subjects of integrating VR.

,Enjoyment benefits performance because the learner focuses attention on the task, which leads to higher intrinsic and extrinsic student motivation

But… is this feasible? Do these possibilities outweigh the privacy and safety concerns? My students struggle daily with living situations, is learning through immersive technologies the key priority?

Do you agree with this picture from ,,Tech Thought's blog? What negatives do you see with using VR in the classroom? Do you believe our educational experiences are moving this way?