A Switch in Focus

I had previously written about a project that @Farris0120 and I had planned. While our classrooms will still be coordinating and working on many of the goals of that project, I have decided to complete a personal project as my main focus. I was having difficulty nailing down a specific focus for my initial project idea. While I see significant value in exploring blogging and virtual connections, I don’t foresee my teaching timetable providing my with ample time to explore it fully and properly with my students. I also would like to improve my own knowledge base before beginning a journey that large with students. With that said, Lynnette and I do still intend to do many virtual activities with our students. Hopefully they can establish some connections. I intend to continue blogging some of my learnings and experiences throughout this process.

Now, on to the new project:

Schitts Creek Comedy GIF by CBC - Find & Share on GIPHY

I live a fairly healthy lifestyle and am always conscious of taking care of my body. However, I have always known there is room for improvement. I have always had some changes I would like to make in mind, but have never found the motivation to do it. This class project presents the opportunity I have been looking for.

My two main goals are going to be to improve my eating habits, (particularly eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out some sweets/snacks), and losing 8-10 pounds.

I am going to use the website/app myfitnesspal to help me on my journey. The app will allow me to track my caloric intake and expenditure. More info. on the app will follow in my next post.

I will provide weekly updates on my progress (including data analysis based on my caloric intake/expenditure, weight loss progress, challenges and successes), and will also be completing a weekly wellness reflection to describe any changes in how my body feels.

I am excited about this project as it is something I am passionate about and I will have motivation knowing that it will improve my health and lifestyle. More details will be forthcoming as I prepare to begin my journey on Monday, September 27.

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.


Who Am I?

A Professional:

  • Currently a Vice-Principal in the Regina Catholic School Division
  • In my 13th year of teaching

A Learner:

  • Completing my Masters of Education in Educational Leadership
  • EC&I 831 is my first class outside of the EDL strand
  • Learning about social media and technology is pushing me outside of my comfort zone

A Family Man:

  • The best part of my day is coming home to my wife and two year old son

What we write may be medicine to someone else’s needs

This blog title is a quote from Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate Carol Rose GoldenEagle. She also said: “I encourage those who embrace the written word not to censor their thoughts and feelings, and experiences. It is the purging of truth and wisdom, often in the form of poetry which can be ingested and shared by those who read and thereby experience and remember.”

My digital learning project for EC & I 831 is learning to write and perform poetry. My desire to learn to write poetry is compatible with my desire to communicate transformative ideas with the potential to transform – or at least make people stop, think and feel. My poetry writing project will focus on Spoken Word poems which are intended for performance and typically about community, issues and social justice.

Creative commons photo by THINKGlobalSchool 

I have been fascinated by poetry that vividly paints a picture of mood and ideas through the clever, yet parsimonious use of language. A neighbour, my friend’s mom, who lives down the road from my childhood home in rural Saskatchewan is a poet. I remember reading her poem about emptying her teen son’s pants pockets before she put them in the washer. In the poem of this simple, ordinary act she was able to capture a mother’s wonderment, joy, and pride in her son as well as fear and worry over what the future may hold. Such a talent!

Spoken word poetry is particularly fascinating. Watch Maya Angelou reads an emotional poem about racism and the black American experience. This is a performance poem by Canadian Katerena Vermette as she flips the common negative narrative about Winnipeg’s North End.

Of course, I can only aspire that eventually a poem of mine may have that type of impact. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So today, I will take my first step in spoken word poetry writing.

Social Media in the Classroom

I have been racking my brain all week about the best way to integrate social media into my classroom in an authentic and meaningful way. I have decided to work towards social media integration in my classroom as I feel this will be the best use of my time and actively benefit my teaching, classroom management, and pedagogical growth.

Thus far this year we have used Twitter in a Canadian Art analysis and painting project…

… where students found a piece that spoke to them and used it as motivation to create their own Canadian landscape. We have not come to a place where my students have Twitter or have communicated with the artists or page at all, but in time, that is a place I would like to get to.

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!

Week 3 – Digital Project… “Welcome to…. PARENTHOOD!?!”

When I was mulling over what new skill I have been eagerly wanting to learn but haven’t had the time, or the drive to do,  I was drawing a complete blank!  I quickly realized that I would be learning one of the biggest and most important skills I have ever had to learn (whether I was ready or not) over the next 9 months; becoming a parent! 


Back in April, my wife and I got the exciting news that our family would be growing from 2 plus a dog, to 3 plus a dog – what a feeling that was!  Our lives were going to be forever changed in 9 months. 


Fast forward a few weeks, our first ultrasound checkup, we found out that our new little addition was due to arrive December 25 – a Christmas baby!  This is a detail that we did not consider at all and was completely overlooked during our careful planning. Hopefully they’ll be ok sharing their birthday with the excitement of Christmas?!? 


During the initial excitement, the sense of panic slowly crept in, which I am sure most, if not all, first time parents have experienced.  You mean I now have to care for a tiny human? How do I do that?  I struggle to care for myself at times!  All thoughts that I was flooded with once the magnitude set in!


We began our research and reading into what pregnancy may look like, with the hopes that this would alleviate some of the anxiety we were feeling.  One thing we overlooked, was the amount of information out there; the quantity and quality of the information did not help, it only seemed to exacerbate our feelings of anxiety.  How do we know what to believe? Who to trust? What is the best practice!? What is going to work for us and our little?


The idea behind my major project stems from this bombardment of information and will be focused on recording the ups and downs leading into parenthood.  Documenting what we learn, decisions that we have made and are trying to make, research we do, resources that we find, and questions we have and will continue to have. It will also pose as a unique keepsake to show our future child once he/she has entered the world, to show how their parents had to learn a new skill and to eventually instill the love of learning with them.  I am sure the project morph to include more aspects of the whole adventure, but these are my initial thoughts!

For the parents reading this(Aunt’s, Uncle’s, Grandma’s, and Grandpa’s advice welcome too); if you were to go back in time, have a conversation with your past self, being able to pass along 1 or 2 pieces of advice leading into parenthood, what would they be?


…and so it begins…

“Think back to when you were training to become a teacher. Did you become a more independent thinker when you were listening to your teacher or when you thought about how to get students to think about a subject while you prepared your lesson plan as a student-teacher and while you taught? How about when you were a child? Did you become a better independent thinker and decision-maker when your parents told you what to do or when you got more responsibility?” 

This important excerpt from Why Letting Students Teach, Works explains one of the reasons why I feel our joint venture will be successful and worthy of a project. Students love to feel independent, confident, and helpful, which is exactly what I hope this project instills in our kiddos….

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Chris Busby and I are embarking on a journey that will include our 2 classrooms, his Grade 3/4 Health class and my Grade 4 Health class.  The following briefly outlines our purpose.  I’m certain we will have some bumps along the road but oh what fun it will be documenting this adventure!! 

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.

Digital footprint | Digital footprint, Digital literacy, Education  elementary math

I must admit that I am anxious to get rolling but also nervous.  I have never attempted something like this before, but I do know that I have an excellent teaching partner in this venture, and the students may just love it and learn some cool things along the way!

Week 2

After our informative class this week, I was intrigued by Alec’s mention of the Brickit app, and Ublock Origin.

  •  Ublock Origin is a game changer!!  Wowzer on my browser!  No silly, annoying ads and Youtube is smooth sailing.
  • Brickit – Where was this 15 years ago??

So, I have a challenging student in my class this year. He loves lego. This is common between us. I love lego too. Perfect

I’m a lego Mom.

I actually tried to search for a definition of ‘Lego Mom’, and even went as far as the Urban dictionary (I do not recommend for various reasons), and came up empty handed.  The result? 

         Legomom:  an individual who devotes a selfless amount of time to building and creating with offspring, in preparation for:  instant destruction, painful tootsies, and hours of bonding.

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I could go on and on, but as a legoparent you quickly assume a huge financial commitment as well as organizational duties and storage solutions.  I was also a legochild, committed to spending time creating with my brothers.  We did not have instructions, which I both loved and hated because it took a ton of effort to try to build something even remotely close to my genius older brother.  However, I could build what I wanted in a fraction of the time and cruise on to something else.

I now house 8 tote bins of lego over 20 years of collecting.  I will only part with them when my boys have a need or desire to create, or become legoparents.  In the meantime I cannot let these tools sit idle.  There are many ideas I can incorporate into a classroom/school setting, and this may be the perfect way to build relationships with certain students.

Lego encourages interaction, sharing, creativity, mindfulness, and so much more. I did not realize there are lego therapy clubs, or lego therapy instructors. I think I would LOVE this as a retirement career!

Brickit is a very clever app, especially when those instruction booklets are lost and sets jumbled together.  I think I will bring a tub of lego to school and have the students chose their own small bucket of pieces, and I will assist with the app to see what we can build!  Students can present findings to the class and parents via Flipgrid or Seesaw.

Lego can also be a fantastic way to teach team work, patience, respect, sharing, and creativity, all while using a different medium in a mindful manner. Intramurals and after school clubs could easily include lego. A lego club would benefit anyone and is an excellent choice for those who do not enjoy or excel at sports, music, etc…

Adult Mindfulness – Now this speaks to me…who knew I could find this type of mindful lego activity! And even better since I’m already a crazy plant lady.

Every fall, our family orders a new Christmas lego set.  We still get together and rebuild them every year, although the packing away of lego gets more streamlined and strategic so the building process is easier.  Looking forward to this one soon…

I am continually grateful for an activity that is timeless, continually challenging, mindful, youthful, fun, nostalgic, and one that can be used with a fun app – something for everyone! This year in my classroom, I’m anxious to use lego as a connecting tool, a relationship builder, and something that just might inspire that introvert or challenging student.

Does anyone have any other fun lego ideas, or has anyone tried to incorporate lego into a school or classroom setting?