Category Archives: EC&I 831

Week 3: EC&I 831- Major Digital Project- Student Portfolios

Well this is late, but I’m finally excited to undertake this major digital project with a topic that I am excited about! After looking over the great examples of student work and having a Zoom meeting with Alec, I have finally decided on a direction for my major digital project. I’m excited to learn about student ePortfolios. I really wanted to find a topic that would align with my current position and be something that I could use in the coming years. While option B and learning to play the guitar or become a better photographer made my short list, I really wanted to narrow my topic to something that would be relevant with my job.

 With Student-Led Conferences (SLCs) moving away from the traditional parent teacher interview model with teachers in charge, SLCs are now student-led and are powerful “opportunities for students to prepare, reflect on, and discuss evidence of their learning and growth by way of student portfolios.”

After watching my wife, Kendra, make physical (paper copies) of student portfolios for roughly 5 years for her Kindergarten students, I remember the constant debate and questioning why not make use of digital portfolios. While initial expectations were for the physical portfolios, our division slowly evolved to allow for digital portfolios. As Kendra began using Seesaw to document learning in her classroom, it was obvious how this became a powerful tool to showcase learning to families.

Help me learn about your experience with student portfolios

How many of you have made use of digital portfolios?

With SLCs quickly approaching, I would like to work with a few of my high school teachers to begin piloting a few different e-portfolio tools. The goal of piloting a few different e-portfolio tools would be to eventually identify our school’s preferred platform for developing digital portfolios. Over the next few weeks, I would like to become more familiar with the following portfolio tools:

  1. Edbsy Portfolios
  2. MyBluePrint Portfolios
  3. SeeSaw
  4. Book Creator

I would then like to collaborate with others in my school to design the official process of what authentic student-led conferences could look like/ sound like in the high school setting. We are currently using a homeroom model for interviews and many teachers note that they do not teach their homeroom students. Consequently, the interview becomes more challenging because teachers cannot comment directly on the student’s learning. Therefore, to really make these homeroom interviews work, we need students to lead their interview and showcase and discuss evidence of their learning.

I will need to develop an implementation guide to help support teachers, students, and parents make use of digital portfolios.

While teachers are constantly bombarded with new ideas and waves, I want the use of digital portfolios to be beneficial to their practice. I hope that digital portfolios will allow teachers to move away from traditional product-based assessments and incorporate more authentic assessment opportunities, that might reduce workload and time spent marking. The use of digital portfolios will also support the growth and development of assessment practices in my school and will help teachers to integrate more observation and conversation assessments. Providing students with choice is key to their success, and hopefully the use of portfolios will allow students to communicate their learning in new ways.   Digital platforms use to capture evidence of learning will also be used to provide authentic and timely feedback.

I will seek to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of using student portfolios. Finally, I will seek to understand how senior students might be able to transfer artifacts of learning into a professional portfolio that could be used for employment. Drop me a comment or feedback below and let me know your thoughts on using digital portfolios with your students.

September 25, 2021: I Caved… I’m on the Tik Tok.

I had so much hesitancy about getting TikTok, yet it always intrigued me and I enjoyed watching them. When we were assigned to experiment with a social media platform that is somewhat, “uncharted territory” for us, TikTok seemed like a pretty solid option. In addition to my budding curiosity, TikTok has had multiple mentions in regard to its ability to entertain and educate.

These conversations have popped up in class discussions, Twitter, and our blogs. As a matter of fact, Curtis had commented on one of my previous blog posts about the educational opportunities TikTok has presented, especially during the pandemic. This prompted me to do a little reading on the subject. After taking a peek at some articles, I found one that resonated with me and posted it to my Twitter. After all of this conversation, it got the better of me and I caved. Folks, I’ve become (a very novice level) TikTok user.

Creating TikToks

To fully experience TikTok, I felt I needed to download the app, fall into the time waste trap everyone warned me about, swipe for endless entertainment, and then actually create some content. I wanted to experiment with trends and “original content” to see which of my videos got the most likes and/or views. When I was downloading the app I thought it was interesting that there is a prompt that asks you to choose what kind of content you would like to see. They offered a number of options and a lot of them appealed to me, so clickity click I went! Once my account was set up, I went to the Discover page and searched, “Cats of TikTok.” Wow. I was in heaven– endless entertainment of cats doing weird things. I honestly could have sat on my couch forever, just swiping away! The next day, I recruited my fiancé to help me capture some content of our feline fur baby, Salsa. I had felt like I watched enough cat content to make Salsa the next TikTok sensation and I went into full, “momager” mode (move over Kris Jenner). It was surprisingly difficult! I decided to start with a simple TikTok trend called, #kissyourpetshead. When working with animals, we learned that it is difficult to make them do things. We needed to wait for opportunity to strike. After multiple fails, we decided on another idea… If you own a cat, you need to try this with them! During the pandemic lockdown, my fiancé and I were on the constant pursuit for entertainment. We discovered something called, “Cat TV.” Basically, you just put on a video of squirrels running about and birds chirping, which in turn, provides endless hours of entertainment for a very bored self, fiancé, and cat. Salsa would sit at the computer and watch the birds and try batting them away. I think she was confused as to why she couldn’t capture them, which made it more entertaining! I sound like a crazy cat lady… and it’s because I am. Below is 8 hours of entertainment for the whole family… You’re welcome.

Once Salsa nestled into her spot on the stairs for the night, we turned on her Cat TV. It didn’t take long before she was on the kitchen table, fully engaged in her favourite feline show. This is how Salsa made her debut into stardom via TikTok:

Oh my goodness. Not only did we find it hilarious (I’m sorry, if you’re at this point in my post and don’t feel the same), but then we could also edit it! This presented a whole other facet of entertainment. We tried out all kinds of filters, techno music, you name it! Next, it was time to upload. Over the course of 24 hours, Salsa’s brilliance has gained 7 likes and 457 views. Stardom, here we come!

Since I was satisfied with how our first TikTok went, I wasn’t planning on making another. THEN, on Friday evening, Salsa was sitting on her cat tower. Opportunity had struck. It was time to give her a little smooch and examine her reaction. I got my fiancé to film me giving her a kiss and I got shot down. Hard. I think this was her way of telling me she’s had enough. FYI: We only have 16 views on this one.

Overall, TikTok was very user friendly and we didn’t need to do much research into how it works in terms of editing and uploading content. However, something that I found overwhelming was the sheer volume of content. When I say endless, it truly is.

The best helper…

I was reluctant to get TikTok at first, but I would be lying if I said that my fiancé and I didn’t have fun filming our cat and editing videos of her. Although, I don’t think Salsa felt the same. If anything she will probably be taking a step out of the lime light for a while, but not until she helps me finish writing this blog post.

Pros, Cons, & “Must Know” Info.

I’ve probably mentioned Common Sense Media a thousand times because I love their reviews on various social media platforms. I find their reviews are brief, cover the information people are most concerned about, and their information is framed in a way that makes sense to people who aren’t well-versed in social media lingo. Common Sense Media provides a very thorough review of TikTok, so I will speak to the pieces that stood out to me the most…


The safety piece was one of my biggest question marks, as I know lots of kids have TikTok. Common Sense Media highlights with any social media platform, there are always risks involved. However, it appears that TikTok has different rules depending on the age of the user. These rules include:

  1. Users under 13 years of age cannot post or comment on videos and the videos they are exposed to are curated for a younger age.
  2. Users 13-15 years of age accounts are private by default.
  3. Users 16 and over can livestream and use direct messaging.
  4. Users 18 and over can buy, send, and receive virtual gifts.

When I made my account, I don’t recall being asked about my age. It’s possible I missed something, as I am not an expert by any means. I guess I’m wondering how can TikTok monitor the ages of people using their platform and have these safety settings in place? I know kids who are under 13 years of age who create and post content, so I’m guessing that the, “work around” for this safety feature is quite simple. However, Common Sense Media also highlights that parents can enable certain settings such as Restricted Mode, Family Safety Mode, and limit the amount of time their child spends on the app. I also conducted a small survey with my students (more on that to come) and they explained that their parents also have created TikTok accounts and follow them in order to monitor their activity.

TikTok Challenges

Common Sense Media explains that these are basically trends or ideas that go viral and are copied by users of the app. I always thought they were more spontaneous creations or developed by creative TikTok users, but they are often planned by brands for marketing purposes. Some of these challenges are in good fun and seemingly harmless. They can even raise awareness about various causes. However, some can be dangerous such as The Skull Breaker Challenge, which we talked about in last week’s class. Common Sense Media shared an article outlining various challenges and the dangers associated with them. I don’t believe that all challenges are bad, but as parents and teachers it is imperative to have discussions with kids about these challenges and encourage them to be critical thinkers about the implications of them:

  1. Is this challenge funny at the expense of someone else’s feelings?
  2. Can I hurt myself or others doing this challenge?
  3. What is this challenge supporting? Is it for a good cause?
  4. Is this challenge disrespectful to others or involve the destruction of property?

This leads me to The Devious Licks Challenge. This article explains the challenge and highlights the value of teaching students about digital citizenship and the permanency of a digital footprint. In addition to these conversations, reading the community guidelines with kids to review expectations when using social media is a tedious task, but understanding the fine print is important.

Privacy and Security

My biggest hesitancy with getting TikTok was around the privacy and security piece. I’ve heard people voice concerns about this, which discouraged me from engaging with the app. However, I have other forms of social media, so I’m kidding myself if I think my information isn’t floating around out there somewhere. Although that may be true, I still think it is important to be aware of the privacy and security regulations about your social media platforms. Common Sense Media notes that some companies and the U.S. government are wary of TikTok being used as tool by China to spy on users of the platform in other countries. In addition to these concerns, they do have a bit of a shady record when it comes to managing their privacy and security…

Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (TOSDR) is a nifty little resource when you’re wanting to read the fine print that I mentioned previously, but don’t want to spend copious amounts of time on the task. According to the TOSDR, the privacy grade they gave TikTok was E. Grade E is not great… Actually, it’s the lowest possible grade you can get on TOSDR (check out their grading list here for more information). The “high flyer” areas noted are that personal messages can be read and TikTok can delete any content without notice or reason. Some of the, “good to go” areas are that personal data isn’t sold, you maintain ownership of data, and TikTok provides information about how your data is used. I think TikTok has a somewhat poor reputation, however, we need to keep in mind that other social media platforms that are commonly used (such as Instagram) were also given the same overall grade as TikTok on TOSDR. When I saw TikTok’s grade initially, I felt a little uneasy. However, after seeing that other social media platforms were in the same boat, it made me feel a little better, but also made me more cognoscente of the apps I use. I know that the above points sound somewhat negative, which isn’t necessarily my intention. My aim is to offer a critical perspective about TikTok to further inform my use of it, seeing as I now have the app.

Impact on Kids & Educational Value

When it comes to TikTok, kids are probably the best possible source of information. I was curious about my students’ use of social media and if any of them use TikTok or engage with the platform in any way. To dive into this a little deeper, I gave the students a survey. I was surprised to find that quite a few of my students did not use social media. Of course, the majority did, but there was a fair amount that did not. Overall, the kids mainly used TikTok, Snap Chat, and YouTube (on my survey I originally forgot to include YouTube, so the kids included it on their own if needed). Some responses from the student survey that I felt were noteworthy are:

  1. “I don’t use social media. I don’t even have a phone. I would rather read!” (I thought this was cute, so I had to include it!)
  2. “The coolest feature is the self-editor.” (2 students mentioned this.)
  3. “I like TikTok for the comedy side, but not the dance side.”
  4. Most TikTok users in my class create and watch TikToks. The rest mostly only watch on their own accounts or on an older sibling’s.
  5. “I like YouTube better because it’s like TikTok, but without the hate.” (2 students spoke to TikTok having more cyber bullying and strangers trying to connect with them.)
  6. “I like TikTok because it makes me known.”

After getting some feedback from my students, I started to think about the impact TikTok can have on kids. I thought comments #5 and #6 were interesting. TikTok is a way for kids to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging, but can also be isolating when cyber bullying starts or the platform becomes dangerous due to strangers with problematic intentions. The responses to these questions highlight the value of teaching kids about genuine relationships that they form, “in real life.” Not that relationships developed through social media are meaningless, but it is also important to share connections and relationships with people in your immediate circle. The self-editor comments caught my attention as well. Of course these features are fun, but I think it can skew what kids think they should look like… Or they see other TikTok users that look flawless, when in reality, it is just a filter or the effects of a ring light. Although this article is in relation to Snap Chat, it also shares connections with TikTok. It doesn’t surprise me that there is a connection between stress, mental health, and social media. I think managing your mental health and social media is all about balance and boundaries. Ridding yourself of all social media isn’t always the answer, but giving yourself a social media break or following accounts that, “spark joy” are helpful bits of advice to keep in mind.

The article I mentioned at the beginning of this post pointed out some interesting ways that TikTok can be used in regard to education. The mention of, “bite-sized” lessons was interesting to me. I find that I can ramble on in the classroom, but TikTok allows teachers to get the basics across in a short amount of time. In addition, by being open with students about engaging with social media platforms they use, it demonstrates a willingness to learn about their world. The most obvious benefit to me in regard to using TikTok is the relevancy of the app and connecting with students. So many kids use it in some capacity, making it more appealing to engage in their education. Kat shared a TikTok created by her school in this Twitter post. I appreciate that the creation of this TikTok brought the staff together with the common goal of enticing students to get their read on with the new books in their library.

Overall, I’m still learning about this app and how to harness its powers in the classroom… and even for my learning project! I’m still no expert, so please share any insights or clarification on the details I mentioned in this post. Out of curiosity…

  • Do you have TikTok? If so, how do you use it?
  • Do you have other social media platforms and not have TikTok? What are your hesitancies about getting TikTok, if any?

Thanks for making it through this very long post… Again.

Until next time,


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.


Week 3: EC&I 831 Major Digital Project

While looking over the options for our Major Digital Project, I was swarmed with the thoughts of many possibilities. While going through my options, I quickly noticed that all my options had a few themes in common. It became apparent, that I want to create something practical and usable within my classroom, something that includes one of my personal interests, and also something that will cause high levels of excitement and engagement with the students in my classroom. These themes lead me to choosing Option B and begin learning a new skill while sharing and documenting my progress. I’ve chosen to learn how to use a CNC router and incorporate it into multiple curriculums throughout multiple grade levels at our school.

As some of you may know, I’ve taken over the Drafting and Computer Aided-Design 10, 20, and 30 courses at my school. Initially, I knew very little about these courses, but being interested in computers and technology, I jumped at the chance to sign a contract that included teaching them. At that time, our school only had access to an 8-year-old 3D Printer. Similar with other emerging technology, 8 years in the 3D printing world is an eternity, and a few years after I took over the courses, we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a new printer that was over twice the size, and much more efficient.

Shoutout to Wave of the Future 3D in Saskatoon, SK. They truly helped me in every facet of my learning journey with our printer, and they are great guys to deal with. They are also the guys who 3D printed an entire camper trailer, that you may have seen online or on the news a couple years back.

Before I get too far on a tangent, let me explain that 3D Printers, CNC Routers, and similar machines are important in bringing ideas, and the plans you create in a Drafting and related classes, to life. They are one of the final steps in the design process, and I find it extremely important and rewarding when a student is able to see their ideas, and designs be actualized. A CNC router is going to be the next step in our improvement of our Drafting, and PAA programs, and will be another avenue, and material to allow students to gain experience with. Over the last couple of years, I have put hundreds of hours into learning and becoming proficient with our 3D printer, and I hope to take a similar path with a CNC router.

Some of the goals I hope to achieve during this experience:

  • Become moderately proficient with running and maintaining a CNC Router
  • Incorporate CNC router projects into PAA9, Drafting 10, and Drafting 20/30 (Next semester)
  • Understand the difference in router bits, both in cutting shape and quality
  • Experiment with different types and thicknesses of wood and aluminum (difficult for some CNC routers)
  • Document my progress through blogs, photos, and possibly short video
  • Engage students
  • Encourage teachers of other curriculums, to learn alongside me, and incoporate it into their classes where it may be beneficial
  • Create a beginner’s resource for other teachers/schools/individuals who may be in the market to purchase one. The goal would be to release this online as a free, open-source document. I have plans to include using the software Canva to create this resource. I have very little experience with Canva, so if anyone has some suggestions on how to use it, or other software to check out, I would love to hear about it!

Based on the research I have done so far, there is a very wide variety of manufacturers, software, hardware in the CNC router world. Personally, this led to an overwhelming amount of information to sift through while I was trying to find the CNC router that I believe would be of most benefit to our school. This also means that much of the learning material online is machine specific and is intimidating to work through for beginning users. If I can make this journey easier, more efficient, or more cost effective for other teachers, schools, or hobbyists in similar positions, it will be well worth it.

P.S. If you have any suggestions of resources, or experts that wouldn’t mind me picking their brain, I would love to hear from you!

So many choices … So little time!

From the moment we talked about our Major Project in EC&I 831, I knew that I would want to pick Option 2. How often do we get the opportunity to pick something we want to learn and actually get a little credit for it? I mean, this makes it feel like I am doing something I want to do, but on the clock!

As someone who constantly has a running list of things I would like to know how to do and be awesome at, I found it tough to select something for this project. First, I have always wanted to learn to play guitar. I was learning decades ago from an extremely passionate guitar enthusiast. But, eventually, that went to the wayside. I still love to sing and honestly would love to be able to play the guitar while I do it. However, I am not sure how much everyone around me would enjoy it.

Second, I love to bake. I used to bake non-stop and always said my dream job would be to own a coffee and bakery shop. The truth is, my husband is not wrong when he says I would NEVER be able to do the 4am wake ups in order to have everything ready. However, if I could just do fancy treats and cakes, then I could operate on my own time. Right?! I would truthfully love to learn the art of cake decorating! However, add in the amount of time and money it would take to do this, along with my annoying gluten allergy, and cake decorating seems like a pretty big hassle.

Third, I have always wanted to learn to crochet. Truth is, until I read Riley’s post on her learning project, I didn’t even know the difference between crocheting and knitting (she has a great visual comparison). I think I would enjoy it, but I honestly don’t have the time for it and would end up finding it stressful rather than relaxing.

So what? I have been forcing myself to try to enjoy golf for the last few months. As someone who again, likes to be good at things, I find the sport pretty frustrating. However, I am growing and enjoying it more now then I was a few months ago. I could sign up for lessons, watch videos and read pro golf tips, but is this really going to benefit me right now? Maybe I will leave that for the 2022 To-Do-List.

That led me to the question of “What can I dedicate time to learning that will not take me away from my family but will in fact enhance it? Possibly even invite participation?”

The Project

Meet Duke and Gryff (short for Gryffindor – full on Harry Potter geek right here). These are my fur babies. I have two human babies too, but these days they don’t need me nearly as much as they once did (at 19 and 10), and these little fluff balls give me somewhere to direct all my extra love.

After some serious consideration, I have decided to make these two a big part of my project. Duke is currently 6 1/2 years old and Gryff will be 6 months in October. When Duke was a pup, we did puppy classes and found he caught on quickly to a few basic commands. He is a loving, sweet dog who is generally easy to care for. However, as time went on, some annoying habits and behaviours came to light.

Duke is over-the-top excited whenever someone comes to the door. He will jump all over them and takes a bit to calm down no matter how many times he is scolded for this or how much we expect him to sit. I partly blame my mother for this as showing up with milk bones in her purse has really conditioned Duke to think everyone must be there for him. He has also not always been good around other dogs. I attribute this mostly to his over excitement, but it is still a challenge. He has often gone right to play mode without any caution when seeing another dog and as you can imagine, this does not always go well. Possibly for this reason, Duke is a terrible leash walker. He constantly has a “Me first” attitude and will not stop pulling no matter what we do! Despite these annoying traits, we love him and always considered him to be a pretty good dog.

We were worried about how this would go when we got Gryff though. However, from having him around our neighbours dogs, we knew he would calm down eventually. I really wanted another dog and kept at it until I got my way on this one. LOL. I am really so happy I did though. In many ways, Gryff has made Duke a much better dog.

Right from the start, Gryff was an easier dog. He loves to snuggle, eats well and didn’t bark. He balances out Duke’s slightly anxious nature and even calms him. However, now that Gryff is getting a little older, we are seeing the effects of each others behaviour. Duke has started to bark since Gryff arrived. At first it seemed to be just a warning bark if he had enough. Then it developed into more playful barking and now it is developing into a habit. Gryff has picked this up and is now starting to bark a bit as well. In addition, when company comes over, or one of us arrives home, we now have a whole new level of chaos. Finally, walks are terrible!! Now instead of one pulling, we have two, and often in opposite directions.

So all of this leads me to my choice of project. I have decided that I would like to try to learn what I can about dog training from online sources. I did not find obedience classes to be particularly useful, nor do I wish to commit to a certain time each week. This project gives me the flexibility to learn about this in a more individualized way. Through this project there are a few areas I am hoping to improve. I specifically want to target their behaviour around company, around other dogs and when walking on leash, but I do hope I am able to learn more that carries over. I feel this is a suitable project as it benefits my family, is something they can participate in and will allow me a chance to explore if it really is possible to learn a skill like this using social media outlets.

To begin, I have decided to create a Wakelet as a way to organize my findings. I started looking for frequently followed individuals or organizations offering pet tips on Twitter and Instagram. I plan to also explore Pinterest and YouTube. I will be organizing my findings in a Wakelet in an effort to keep it all in one place. I am looking forward to checking out all the resources out there and becoming a better puppy momma!

As for how I will document this process, I am still toying with ideas. I may see what Wakelet will do for me, compile a series of samples along the way and embed it all in one place. Or, I might compile it all in a iMovie or a Flipgrid. I’m still sorting these details out!

Are there any specific resources you know of that I should definitely check out? Do you have any training tips for me from your own experience? I’d love to hear about them if you do!

Finally, I must give a shout out to Curtis, who inspired me to spice up this post a bit with a hint of the flare he has added to his own! All of these can be found at Just click on the photos to go right to the source.

A Co-(Ad)Venture

I have often been the guy that has marveled at how others use technology in their classroom. Always watching from the fringes with trepidation and a lack of confidence that I did not have the skills, imagination, or creativity to incorporate it into my own teaching. Well, I still lack the confidence, I don’t have the skills (yet!), I don’t have enough imagination to even bring myself to watch Star Wars (no I have never seen any of them!), and my creativity is questionable at the best of times. But the time has come….to dive in head first….and hope it turns out a little better than this:

fat diving GIF

The last year of pandemic learning has brought educators many challenges, but has also allowed us to explore new horizons. It has opened our eyes to new ways of learning and creating connections. Technology in education is here to stay.

Online learning was difficult for teachers and students because of the lost face to face relationships. There is no doubt that teachers want our students in the building (particularly in an elementary setting where I teach), and a huge majority of students and parents feel the same way. Teaching and learning just aren’t the same when comparing being in the same room vs. being on a computer screen. But what if we explore the connections that can be made in a virtual setting? Can students form connections with other students they haven’t met before? Can students teach and learn from each other via online platforms? If viewed through a different lens, can we turn the potential positives of technology into valuable personal and educational experiences? This is exactly what @Farris0120 and I are seeking to discover.

Using my Grade 3/4 and her Grade 4 Health classrooms, we are setting out to make some personal connections while also learning some valuable social media and technology skills. While our ideas are fluid and will evolve as our project progresses, below is a summary of our plans so far:

Purpose: To explore the use of technology and social media to teach each other and establish connections between students in different schools in a common school community. Students will develop skills that enable them to understand the positive power of social media and technology as a personal and educational tool, that can foster relationships and friendships via asynchronous and synchronous communication.  We will use ‘real time’ communication on Microsoft Teams as well as personal video logs via Flipgrid, as a way of sharing with each other, teaching, and responding to peers, including the following –

*Virtual Teams meetings between classrooms.

*Student Teaching and Responding to Blog Posts – both written and recorded video

*Classes/Individuals will teach a lesson/share information.

*Analysis of the effectiveness of both written and oral communication, via technology.

Curricular Ties

– Health 3.2 Inner Self

– Health 3.4 Families

– Health 4.3 Relationships

Our ultimate goal is to teach children that open communication via technology can foster relationships beyond the digital world and can be a valuable learning tool.  Presenting social media and open communication in a positive way can affect how students will view and use technology in the future and potentially trigger the desire to create and maintain a healthy digital footprint.  While students will be learning about digital tools and communication they will be teaching their peers, albeit virtually, and sharing ideas that they can relate to, understand, and learn.

As this is my first venture into this world, I am both excited and nervous. I am excited to learn and hope our students can learn as much as I know I will.

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.

September 19, 2021: The Learning Project Outline

I’m one of those people who get a bunch of ideas in their brain (due to excitement), then begin to overthink everything and my brain turns into a hamster stuck on a wheel. That is how I’m feeling with The Learning Project already… In a good way! I am very enthusiastic about my topic, mainly because there are so many different avenues I can explore. However, because the options really are endless, it is going to take some organizing and narrowing things down. Strap in folks, because here comes my plan… With some other details!

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: The Inspiration

I believe everything happens for a reason and sometimes it is difficult to ignore common themes that continue to appear throughout your life…

Recently, I started working alongside a colleague who used to run a deaf and hard of hearing classroom. I think it is so interesting how deaf people learn to communicate and understand the world without experiencing sound. To me, it is truly amazing and speaks to the power of learning being a dynamic and complex process… One size does not fit all. In addition, my sister-in-law is a speech and language pathologist. When she was receiving her training, she was required to learn American Sign Language (ASL). Over the years, she has casually taught me some very basic ASL, which I found myself enjoying. I was also in choir all through elementary and high school. One of my music teachers would have us sign certain songs as we would sing. Signing and singing was my favourite. I felt like I could really capture the emotion of the piece in a meaningful way. Looking back through an educator lens, I also think it is an inclusive practice that we should see represented more frequently.

Taking a more personal angle, I’ve met two deaf people in my life. The first person I met was Mrs. T. I got to know her through my dad’s work and my mom sold Avon to her… Sidebar: Who remembers Avon? She had lost her hearing in adulthood and was able to read lips. I remember my mom explaining when my brother and I would go over to her house that we needed to make sure that she was looking at us when we spoke and that speaking loudly won’t help. She had a black dog who would alert her when her phone rang or if someone was at the door. My mom also said when they would talk on the phone, Mrs. T used some kind of voice-to-text device and had various pieces of technology that she used in her daily life. This would have been in the late 90s, so I can only imagine how many more developments in this area have occurred since. When I first met Mrs. T, I remember feeling nervous. I had never met a deaf person before and didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, there was nothing Mrs. T couldn’t do and if I didn’t know she was deaf, I probably wouldn’t have figured it out. When I teach the Grade 4 Sound Unit in Science, I love showing this video. I appreciate how honest and inquisitive kids are… They just ask whatever is on their mind! I also think this video takes the “fear/nerves” out of meeting a deaf person for kids, as it highlights helpful information about deafness that is beneficial to anyone (not just kids) who are meeting a deaf person for the first time.

In addition, I worked with a deaf man throughout high school and university when I worked at a local cafe. He was a master lip reader and could sign, but no one I worked with could sign with him, myself included. He would speak sometimes, but was difficult to understand, so he was pretty dynamite at expressing himself through actions. Communicating took a lot of patience and I began to realize that being a deaf person and knowing how to sign doesn’t do much good if no one else around you knows how. He was no shrinking violet and worked really hard to be part of conversations, but I would imagine this would have been exhausting and challenging. It honestly started to bother me that I couldn’t fully communicate with him and I wanted to do something about that, but just didn’t know where to start.

*Cue The Learning Project…*

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: Resources Collected… So far

Initially, I wanted to learn some basic ASL. I was thinking maybe signing the alphabet, some basic phrases, and possibly learning how to sign picture books and share this with my students. However, there is a whole deaf culture that I feel is important to acknowledge and engage with if I am learning their language as a hearing person. I have also been lucky enough to have gained a colleague who is extremely knowledgeable on this topic, so I started to consider learning about these classrooms in my school division. Who knows, maybe this project could lead to something bigger career-wise for me?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been gathering resources, following different organizations and people on social media and reaching out to different teachers in my school division to set up a time to chat and inquire about any resources they are willing to share. I have so many resources that I need to start looking through. So. Many. Below, I’ve created a document that is essentially a giant resource dump. Some of these resources might be more useful than others depending on where my project goes, but to help me wrap my brain around my project, I felt like I needed to at least go through everything to help me determine a starting point. I am almost positive this list will grow, so the creation of a Wakelet may be necessary! Since I haven’t had a chance to ask the individuals I contacted if I can share their names or resources as part of my project, I’ve used letters to identify them and I will share their resources if they grant me permission. For now, here is my own list and some of their websites/suggestions I plan on diving into.

The Learning Project: Resource Dump # 1

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: The Plan

At this point, I’m not sure what I would like my “final goal” to be. Essentially, I want to learn more ASL than I know now, about deaf culture, and about the deaf and hard of hearing programs in my school division. Going back to my choir days, I would love to be able to sign a song (or at least part of) and teach my students some sign language as well. My project is more process than product driven and I plan to document my growth through blog reflections, YouTube videos, creating a Wakelet to keep track of my resources, and connecting with educators in my division to (hopefully) experience a deaf and hard of hearing classroom.

I find making some kind of plan with dates and deadlines helps keep me stay accountable and on track. So, what I’ve included below is exactly that. However, please know this plan will change and evolve over the next few weeks. Since there are so many topics I am hoping to explore, I decided to focus on a specific topic for a week or so and then move on to the next, while continuing with my ASL practice throughout. To learn ASL, I’m going to start with lessons by Bill Vicars on his YouTube channel and begin with ASL 1, which is the beginner level for learning ASL. I also found another resource called Start ASL that offers free lessons to learn on your own, as well as paid options. Hopefully, my schedule starts forming more of a clear picture for you!

Tentative Schedule for The Learning Project

Bits and Pieces Collected: So Far…

As teachers we all know that conversations never actually get wrapped up– the bell rings, “*Insert Student Name* got hurt on the monkey bars”, *CRASH*… Any other interruptions you’ve experienced? That being said, I’ve been given lots of “tid bits” of information to further explore by colleagues, but haven’t had a chance to really have a conversation with anyone yet… Although I’m in the process of making arrangements for some of those! Nonetheless, I’m excited about what has been shared with me so far. Some of these bits and pieces are:

  1. The speech and language pathologist (SLP) at my school mentioned something to me about the difference between Deaf vs deaf and that there are varied views about using certain sign languages. Some groups do not use any signing at all, while others use a variety of ways to communicate (e.g.: ASL, lip reading, various technologies, etc.).
  2. Another colleague mentioned something to me about these two ladies on YouTube that… The conversation ended there due to a playground calamity. So I must find out about these two ladies…
  3. Cochlear implants and auditory processing… Two very new things to me! This was mentioned to me by an SLP I plan on chatting with in a few weeks.
  4. Also, a serious shoutout to Kelly is in order for passing along some resources and names of people who could help me out with my project!
  5. Self Advocacy… This came from one of the resources passed down to me. I feel like this is a very necessary piece to the puzzle when learning about deaf culture and navigating deafness. Furthermore, any difference or exceptionality requires self advocacy, which I think is the hardest thing for people to do with pride and confidence.

If you’ve stuck around this long, you’re a trooper, but you’re not off the hook yet! I’m curious…

  • 1. Has anyone taught a deaf or hard of hearing student? What was your experience?
  • 2. Does anyone have any resources they would be willing to share?
  • 3. Has anyone learned ASL or another language in general? If so, do you have any advice for me? I tend to bite off more than I can chew!
  • 4. Tell me about your project! How have you organized it? Or are you, “going with the flow” to see where it takes you?

Thank you for reading this very scattered blog post! I am excited to see where this project takes me and I look forward to following your learning projects as well!

Until next time,


Week 2- The Evolution of Social Media Within My Life

Social Media. An everchanging, ever evolving, much debated, topic that has been a mainstay in our lives for well over a decade. Personally, I’ve gone through a bit of an evolution when it comes to my own Social-Media use, and the more I think about it, the more I’m interested in how this came to be.

Let me start by saying I’m someone who loves technology. Growing up in an era of extremely rapid technological progress, I became enthralled in learning all about the “next big thing.” I’ve loved being able to watch VHS tapes evolve into streaming services, smartphones take over the roles of dozens of other devices, and the dimensions of a television undergo extreme change. I’ve been fascinated watching cell phones and headphones go from quite large in size, to quite small- only to start getting larger again. Technology trends and improvements spark my curiosity and have for as long as I can remember. This being said, my interest in social media has been more turbulent. During high school I purchased my first smartphone, a Blackberry Tour. My friends were quick to point out that I ‘had to’ download Facebook and Twitter immediately. Initially unsure of what I should post, I eventually got comfortable posting occasional status updates, various pictures, and the traditional writing of “Happy Birthday!” on my friends’ walls.

As I graduated, and moved on to university, my posting on Social-Media started to decline. I started to become hypervigilant of the content I was posting online.  My checklist of a quality post became longer and longer. As a result, fewer and fewer ideas became ‘good enough’ to post. Not only did I want to ensure I was receiving positive engagement numbers, I was also striving to ensure the content I posted online was a positive reflection of how I wanted to be viewed. I quickly realized it became easier and more comfortable, to simply not post at all, rather than be disappointed or regret a post later on. This furthered as I entered the College of Education. While I loved my time at the University of Saskatchewan, one of the reoccurring themes throughout my classes was to be careful of what you post, or have posted, online. Wanting to prepare myself for a future in the world of teaching, I realized not only was it easier not to post at all, but limiting my posts could also prevent potential harm to a future career.

As the university raised my personal bar for what was acceptable to post, the frequency of my posts decreased to nearly zero. I was still spending several hours a week on various social media platforms, but only participating with low level, inoffensive actions. I found this was a way to remain informed in the going-ons of my friends but was also something I wouldn’t regret later in life. As a result, my type of online presence is often described as a lurker. For those not familiar, a lurker is less ominous than it sounds, but is simply someone who observes or uses social media frequently but chooses not to participate/post.

This is the position I’ve been ‘stuck,’ in for the last few years. Taking this type approach towards social media has essentially allowed me to limit any possible effect social media could have on my life. The tough part to realize however is that in doing my best to prevent any negative effects, I truly believe that I have deprived myself of many of the positive affects. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly recognize the multitude of positive effects social media can have on a person. Never in the history of our planet has the information, teaching, opinions, and expertise of people across the world been available to us, nearly instantaneously. Additionally, the ability to maintain friendships over extremely long distances or breaks in face-to-face contact, is something I continuously take for granted. While taking this class, I seek to change some of my attitudes towards social media in an effort to seek out more of these positive effects.

  • I want to push my comfort zone.
  • I want to become more engaged online.
  • I want to grow a professional growth network and learn from the amazing individuals that are present online.
  • I want to build an online presence.
  • I want to improve my teaching, both in terms of methodology and knowledge.
  • I want to teach my students more about the positives of being online, while also teaching them aspects of Digital Citizenship.

 I believe this class can help me shift my thinking, and lead me to experience some of the positive effects that I’ve been forgoing for the better part of the last decade.