Arduino Motor Controller Part 1: Making a Plan

I am not sure exactly how many parts this series will be. As I publish more of the parts I will return to this post and modify it to have links here to the other parts.

The first thing I did is decide on a goal. I wanted to have a potentiometer control the direction and speed of a motor as I turned it. The reason I wanted this was because my next project is going to be having the motor respond to inputs from sensors that I have not used before, so I wanted to make sure that when the time comes to learn how to wire and program with those sensors that I will have the wiring and programming already correct for the motor part. Everything is baby steps.

After coming up with the goal I reflected on what I already knew and what I would need to adapt from this.

  • I already knew how to use LEDs and I knew that putting a stronger resistor with an LED will make it glow dimly while putting a weak one will make it glow strongly.
  • I also knew that a potentiometer is a variable resistor. This means that as you rotate the dial it will go from being a weak resistor to being a strong one.
  • So what I needed to do first was figure out how to make it so that the potentiometer is set as an input with the middle value set as a neutral and anything below that value triggering a red light and anything above that value triggering a green value.
  • I had found good tutorials for Arduino at Learn Sparkfun before and decided to look there for a potentiometer tutorial. I found one, copied it and within 5 minutes had a blinking LED. As I turned the potentiometer the light blinked faster or slower. (I used their code exactly as it appeared, so if you are trying to replicate this. Follow their wiring guide and their code.)
  • Now to figure out the motor. I knew that the motor and motor controller were from FingerTech Robotics in Saskatoon, so I thought I would start with their website. They had a video of a guy using the ESC (electronic speed controller) with a RC controller (a radio controller) not an arduino. Hmm. I knew from the robot competition last year that I saw students from other schools using an Arduino to control their motors, but how? I googled Arduino TinyESC tutorial and found a tutorial at tech valley projects, it looked hopeful so I dutifully copied it.
  • The motor started to turn. That is fun. I have no idea why. So I think I have the hardware setup, now I have to figure out the programming.

Figuring out the programming turned out to be a lot harder process. Join me in part 2 as I go through the tech valley programming and discover that while the hardware setup is correct that the programming is almost completely wrong and I need to go in a different direction if I actually want to have control over the motor.

The other thought I have about all of this is that it reminds me of one of the lessons from my ECI 831 class on the importance of remixing. There was a great video series that I watched on remixing and the role it plays in creativity and learning called Everything is a Remix. Right now I am in the copy stage of the copy –> Transform –> Combine. Part 2 I will enter into the transform portion of the project as I start to change things in the code.

Original image Available for download at Everything is a Remix

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the read.

Arduino Motor Control

Okay, this is going to be a quick post with much more detail to follow. For the last two weeks you have likely been wondering what is up with the Arduino project. Well I have been working on it, but I kept holding off on posting because I kept thinking just a few more minutes and I will have something worth sharing. Every few minutes I would hit a new roadblock and it would take me a little more time to work around that roadblock. I finally got the project to work, and I am going to post how I did it in a series of posts that walk through each of the roadblocks. We are looking at probably 15 hours worth of learning on this one. (I know please do not judge me when you see how simple the solution is.)  Writing those posts so that you can understand the learning process and hopefully so that you can learn along with me will take a little bit but I plan on having them all up in the next few days. In the meantime though here is what I accomplished.

I was able to wire up and write a program that would control the direction and speed of a motor with a dial called a potentiometer. So if I turn the dial to the left the motor goes backwards, if I turn it further it speeds up. If I turn the dial to the right it goes forwards, if I turn it further it speeds up more.

I know that sounds so simple, and in the end the program actually is simple. That does not mean that the learning process to figure out how to make it do that was simple. There were definitely moments where I started to question if I would figure it out or if I was going to have to find a computer engineer to help me. The good thing is that I very much understand the system now and will definetly be able to help others with this, which is why I chose this project in the first place.

Alright, enough talk. Here is the video.

Okay. So that might not look like much, but seriously it took me about 15 hours to figure all of it out. I had to use a ton of internet resources, and I now know a lot more about how the arduino uno works. Also there is something called PWM which is really neat. So check back in the next couple of days to learn all the things I had to overcome to do it.

My True Story of Openness

Hello my ECI831 friends and beyond,

This week I chose to make a quick video and share my true story of openness.  In my video…as you’ll soon find out if you choose to watch it, that I am aware of how “off topic” my story is based on the content of the course, but it’s my story none the less!  I watched this video on True Stories of Open Sharing and loved the idea – so in addition to this story I am also going to post a video of myself reading a favourite book of mine in hopes that it will come in handy or touch someone, somewhere one day.  Watch for that later this weekend! 🙂  I think this post ties into my Learning Project as well as I am encouraging my kiddos everyday when they get a chance to be our Facebook Author and Photographer to tell the stories that matter to them…the ones that catch their attention, make them feel happy or catch them off guard.  I am asking my littles to step out of their comfort zones, so I should do the same.



Thank you for bearing with my rambles.

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

Is no education at all.”


Want to see me speak Cree?

Tansi Classmates,

I have been building up the confidence of offer you a video of me speaking Cree. Here you have it folks! 200w_d

Please view this video with very little judgement and lots of grace:

(In the video I say “Hello, My name is Colleen. I am from Regina. I am a student.”)

I am thankful for all of the resources that Bill Cook has put online and that he was willing to share his resources. The quizlet (that I mentioned here) and the Online Cree classroom have been my go to resources. I have also accessed the 100 Days of Cree in an online book which has offered learning Cree words in themes ( there will be more to come on the 100 days of Cree book).

Following up on my work last week,  I have been working on my numbers. Here are the numbers from 21-50. After 20, the numbers go from their base (20,30,40,50) with the numbers 11-18 following the base number. For example, number 20 is nistanaw and number 21 is nistanaw-peyakosāp which means 20-11. It was a bit confusing for me at first because 20-11 in my mind is 31 but it is just 20-11 not 20+11. Once you reach 29 it is kêkâc-nistomitanow or almost 30 (kêkâk means almost). Again, I find that writing them out helps me comprehend and remember them a lot better. Check it out: 20-50.JPG

Now for the preverbs. In Cree, preverbs can be used to change meanings of verbs. Most cannot be used alone but are inserted between the Person Indicator and the rest of the verb. Two or more can be used at one time (source).

A sentence is structured as follows:

Independent mode

The person will represent what we would use as the subject pronoun in English (at least this is how I understand it). I studied the subject words and blogged about them when I leaned about the basics and when I learned about family words and kinship. This table of the independent mode formula includes the person and the endings: IM Formula(source)

Following the “person” is the tense of the verb (for now I only know present tense) and then comes the preverb. A list of possible proverbs can be seen below.

Preverb list


After the preverb comes the root of the verb and then the ending. I know this sounds so complicated but do not fear! I will share some examples.

If I use the verb “to write” (which is masinahikê in Cree) and I want to say “I am trying to write” my sentence would be as follows:

ni- kakwê-masinahikan (I-to try to-write)

Now, we take a minute to celebrate because I have learned to write a sentence in Cree!


Before we get too excited, there is an additional rule that is important to remember when writing. It is called the t-connector rule. The t-connector rule states that you cannot have vowels side by side. In order to separate the vowels you have to use a “t”. However, this only applies when you are using first person, second person, first person plural (we), and second personal plural (they). The t-connector rule does not apply to third person third person plural. With this rule in mind, let me walk you through another example.

If I use the verb api (to sit) and I want to say “I sit” then I will have to use a t connector because the “ni” in the pronoun “I” will create a double vowel between the “i” in ni and the “a” in api. Therefore the sentence would be as follows: nitapin. “ni” is the subject pronoun, the “t” is from the t-connector rule, “api” is the verb and “n” is the ending.

One final rule is the ê/î to â rule. This rule states that if the verb ends in ê/î you have to change it to â. This rule only applies in the 1st, 2nd, 1st person plural, and 2nd person plural. For example, if I want to look back to my first example ni- kakwê-masinahikan (I-try to-write) you will see that the verb (masinakikê) changed to masinahikan instead of “en”.

Full confession is that I secretly love grammar. I have enjoyed leaning about grammar structures and I feel so accomplished now that I can write sentences! Stay tuned for more!


CK-12….where have you been all my life??

Alright, so as a current special education educator, I work with students in one classroom, spread throughout 4 different grade levels on “paper” (currently grades 5-8), but who academically are spread from grades 1-8 with their academic needs.  This makes it very difficult to plan lessons that can be taught to the entire class that are meeting curricular outcomes for those particular grade levels.  I am constantly searching for assistance to help my students develop their skills and academics, while continuing to engage them.

The discovery of CK-12 is a perfect solution. I began looking at the website, and what initially caught my eye was the CK-12 MAP. Upon clicking it open, I quickly realized the network of educators and students using this resource.

Source: CK-12 Maps

I mean look at this… it is absolutely amazing how many users are engaged in this resources from around the world.  I did notice there wasn’t a ton of Canadian users, so wondered if the content was applicable to the Canadian, and Saskatchewan Curriculum. But I thought it had to be good, with this many red dots.

Testimonials are important….to hear users opinions really matter to me. I found this video which made me even more intrigued to investigate CK-12 and why I could love it or hate it.

Diving deeper into CK-12 I was able the subjects offered, and the list is extensive.

Source: CK-12 subjects

From various grades, to various subjects, I was intrigued to explore more. th website itself was extremely user friendly. I quickly created an account using my email and password. From there I was able to navigate through the various subjects and grade levels, exploring with CK-12 had to offer.

Looking at several subjects I noticed many student friendly and teacher friendly options.  There are a lot of visual resources through videos, and graphs.  There are also discussion questions which occur frequently to engage students in the learning process. Activities also accompany the lessons which encourage the students to be active learners. The website is extremely clear and visually appealing as well.

Some great things that stuck out to me were:

  1. Flexbooks – online textbooks which were subject specific
  2. Simulations
  3. PLIX

Seriously, these are amazing.  I am very excited to use these in my classroom and with my students.  I am also very excited to share this with my colleagues and co-professionals.  What a fabulous resource!! I suggest you check it out.

Teacher GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Source: Giphy


OER Use in the Classroom


I chose to evaluate Open Learn with the idea that I could use it for some of my high school business courses. Although it is a UK site here is what I found:

  • It is user friendly and well-organized.
  • I felt that the resources were of good quality, and the site was easy to navigate and search. I easily found Accounting, Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship courses. 
  • Although the main page is visually appealing once I signed up and started a course I found that it was not as appealing. It was very text heavy with lots of reading. 
  • I would consider it a valuable resource for educators to pull information from. Especially since you can download the courses in Microsoft word or in PDF format without even signing up for a course. 
  • The quality of the materials was great but the actual course was not as interactive as I had hoped. There was text and questions, that was about the extent of it. It could have been improved with a slideshow, video, graphics and quizzes. 
  • Although, it does not meet my expectations of being a good resource to direct students to for an independent type study on a certain topic it would be a good resource for a teacher to pull information from. 


excel 2


I have had a great experience using GCF Learn for Free with my Accounting 20 students. The site has a tutorial on Excel that students are to complete independently. Within each module there are videos and text detailing each step. To keep students, on track and avoid some unnecessary information students complete a worksheet with guided questions while they go through the tutorial. Here is a link to the word document that students are to utilize Excel 2016


At certain points in the tutorial students are required to complete excel spreadsheets. The tutorial provides partially completed spreadsheets that students download and complete according to the specific task.

I think that OERs are very valuable with the proper format and set-up. While the Open Learn site had lots of good content and information for teachers it would take some work for a teacher to organize that material into an engaging format. The GCF Learn for Free site was very user friendly, and while I created a document to go with the tutorial it was still very engaging and user friendly.

OpenStax: Mathematical Goldmine

When looking at the list of Open Education Resources (OERs) this week, I wanted to take a look at something that I do not have a lot of experience with and that I may actually use in the future, I am all about practicality in assignments where possible.

Bedarra Island
Banfield1 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I already have some experience with some of the OER repositories such as Khan Academy and TED Ed which I use in the classroom as supplemental support and visuals for my students. Khan Academy has great videos for mathematics where concepts are mapped out and taught in a method that I would use, but often with much better drawings. TED Ed also has great lessons for that “filler time” at the end of a lesson in their puzzles, my students LOVE them, but I find that although many these lessons come complete with Questions, Dig Deeper, and Discuss sections (see link for example), they are often what I refer to as “island lessons” where there is no way to make them all flow together to create a unit of sorts.

I first looked at American Institute of Mathematics. I found that they had quite a few open textbooks available but that most of the content was at a university or college level meaning they are not overly useful for a K-12 educator, outside of some of the Precalculus 30 outcomes. I did look through two of the textbooks, Precalculus and Precalculus – College Algebra – Trigonometry,  and found they were not bad but were very wordy, something that I often find students struggle with.

Next was MERLOT, I had never heard of this one and I was drawn to its name for some reason……… I did not like the look of this one, it was not very user-friendly in my opinion as there were a lot of things going on and it was not very easy to tell what type of resource each item was before clicking to open it. Probably the most critical downfall was that most of the math resources I clicked into were applets and interactive, needing Adobe Flash Player, and support for Flash Player is being phased out, my division is not updating our Flash versions any longer.


Then I hit the open jackpot (for math anyways). I took a tour through OpenStax and I loved the layout, it was very easy for me to find an area that contained their math resources. I skimmed through all of their Algebra textbooks, through their Precalculus and the first two Calculus textbooks and, I was impressed.

  • The textbooks were available in several formats: PDF (with high and low-resolution options), web-based, and print for a small fee.
  • Textbooks cover content from my Grade 7 to university Calculus, meaning that I could find outcomes from every curriculum hidden in one of the courses!
  • The PDF was hyperlinked so that you did not have to do the “long scroll of death” to find what you were looking for.
  • There was a good balance of visuals and text through the textbooks, enough visuals to keep you engaged and to understand concepts but nothing for the sake of an image.
  • Textbook examples and solutions are well-described, colour-coded to help with understanding, extensive and thorough.
  • Problem sets contained a comprehensive list of types of questions including word problems, real-life applications, technology applications, review of basics, and the list goes on. This is the part that I was most impressed with by far as often I find that textbooks do not contain enough varied practice for students.
  • Odd questions have answers provided to help students guide if they are completing the exercises correctly.
  • At the end of many sections, especially in higher level courses, there were links to Youtube videos which further described certain concepts that may be difficult to comprehend if just reading examples.

Overall, I was very impressed with the diversity of these textbooks and their quality and will 100% be sharing them with my math colleagues for additional exercises and supports for students. My only critique would be that I would like to be able to download portions of the PDFs at a time instead of the whole thing but, all in all, I don’t really think that is a true thing to complain about.

I took a peek at the Physics textbook which seemed good for the above reasons but I do not teach Physics so feel that I was not able to state whether it applies to our curriculum, it is for AP Physics so there may be some units that would apply. The Social Science and Humanities textbook offerings do not align with Saskatchewan curricula so I did not look too far into these.

I love the idea of OERs but unfortunately, our educational system has become very monetized, I am afraid to know how much is spent on textbooks each year in the North American K-12 system. Getting a textbook on the “approved” list for a curriculum is not always the easiest and some of the approved textbooks are less than desirable. What benefits do you see to moving towards OERs in Saskatchewan in our current economic situation? Do you think that they would be a “hard sell” to prove that they are just as valid as textbooks from the “big companies” or do you think that most people would accept them easily?

Learning Project Update… Every Little Bit Counts

In the interest of full disclosure, the past week has been a challenge. I am happy to report that I am down two 214lbs this week. This is in line with what my goals are on my fitness pal. Getting to the gym has been a struggle the last week ( it is a busy time of year and I was feeling very much like I was spending more time marking papers then  I was pursuing fitness goals. I am also teaching a clinical rotation which can add to the challenge).

To combat this I came across a method of training called greasing the groove . This is a method of training popularized by  Pavel Tsatsouline. I first became aware of Tsatsouline when listening to The Time Ferris Show ( link to the particular podcast can be found here.) The following video gives an overview of the training technique:

I tried incorporating this this technique into my daily routine. It was quite simple really. I did 6 push ups ( please don’t laugh) every hour on the hour while at work (except while teaching or at clinical. Trust me you don’t want to push ups on hospital floors) Math is not a strong point of mine but that worked out to roughly 48 push ups a day times 5 work days that works out to be a around 240 push ups a week. I have to say I didn’t mind it. I wasn’t sweaty and gross ( like I was interval training ) and what’s better I didn’t need need to set aside time for training. In the end, I got some training in and I am continuing to trend in the right direction. My work load remains the same until the end of the term, so I am excited to continue to experiment with this method.

I know you can’t tell but that right there is a large shirt. Not extra large. Thanks to my co worker Dan for helping with the photo. I’m still selfie impaired.

Although the progress hasn’t been fast it has been pretty steady. I would like to thank everyone for the support and encouragement. I’m learning a lot. Unfortunately I’m still a far cry from realizing my dream of becoming Mr. February in the next Men of Nursing Calendar (don’t worry that was a joke). See you all tonight!

Lessons with animated videos: TED-Ed (part 3)

[You can read part 1 of this series on TED-Ed here, and part 2 here.]

After learning so many great things about TED-Ed, I believe it is important to understand the usage policy of these TED-Ed lessons.

TED Talks Usage Policy

TED Talks are under a Creative Commons License. This means we can share TED Talks on blogs (if sharing TED Talks is not the main purpose of the blog) with a visible link back to We are also encouraged to stream TED Talks in classrooms for discussions and share links to on class platforms.

TED-Ed Usage Policy

TED-Ed animations (videos) are made available through YouTube. This means TED-Ed videos are under YouTube’s standard usage policy. I was not able to find where it is clearly stated that educators can or cannot stream YouTube videos for educational purposes. So I asked my Twitter friends for help. I got zero responses. :(

Image by verygooddesign/fotolia

The Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement and TED-Ed as an OER

Christer Gundersen put OER projects that have influenced the OER Movement in an interactive timeline. The concept of OER is new to me, but since I support Kelsie’s belief that “education should be open and available to everyone,” I strongly believe that OER is a great way to make education more accessible to more people. I believe we are still too far from equity in education, but OERs are a great step towards this. I believe I’ve tried to complete some courses offered through OER in the past, but nothing too extraordinary comes to my mind. However, this week I came to know about two courses offered by two important Canadian Universities through Coursera: Indigenous Canada, by the University of Alberta, and Aboriginal Worldviews and Education, by the University of Toronto; I am planning to audit at least one of them (both start this month).

TED-Ed makes a great contribution to education by offering high-quality animation videos on a wide variety of topics. The videos are short and easy to understand.

I have been an educator for more than 20 years now, and I have never used someone else’s lesson in full with my students since I strongly believe we need to develop lessons to meet OUR students’ needs. Thus, I am not sure if someone will use a full TED-Ed Lesson in a classroom without any modification, but they are available mostly as suggestions to educators and, maybe, as complete lessons for self-taught students willing to expand their knowledge.

This 3-part series on TED-Ed took me more than 12 hours of research and writing, but I’ve learned useful information beyond the TED-Ed Lessons. Since my #eci831 classmates are going to analyze other OERs, watch our blog hub for the upcoming blog posts.

Additional information:

Now, it is your turn. Let me know how you liked this 3-part series on TED-Ed. :)

Filed under: EC&I 831, Weekly Reflections

The Big “But”

Hi classmates,

As I reviewed the open educational resources this week (many of which are fantastic) I couldn’t help but think about the big “but.”


What is that big but? For me the big “but” or the big disclaimer is that we have access to open resources but will employers and/or universities recognize time spent studying these courses? If the answer to that question is no, then do open educational resources really offer a more competitive advantage to those who may not be advantaged enough to pay for a university education?

In adult education, researchers talk a lot about offering credit for lived experiences. Adults have a vast knowledge base for their work experiences and lived experiences that younger adults may not have. To me, the credit for lived experiences and credit for OE courses is a similar discussion. The student has acquired knowledge (albeit in a non-traditional way) but they still deserve to have that knowledge recognized. Going forward there are many implications for higher education (HE) to adapt to OE trends and policymakers will need to embrace these changes and create appropriate guidelines around credit for OE courses. If not, then I believe that the HE institutions will have a difficult time remaining competitive.

Moving to the review of an OE platform, I looked at OpenLearn with OpenUniversityOpenLearn

I had no trouble navigating this webpage. I was able to discover the large library of topics. I like that they had “Skills for Work” and “Skills for study. These are some of the skills for work topics that were available:

work skills .png

I was drawn to the work resources because they could be fantastic for PD opportunities (to save money) and they would also be great for those who are searching for jobs and trying to grow their professional skills.

In terms of learning based on your interests, there is a vast library of topics to explore. Furthermore, there are various mediums to explore the content in. For example, you can watch videos, listen to audio, tv. etc. See the full list to the right: types of resources

I took a look at the French content when I was exploring the personal interest learning section and I was quite impressed. I can definately see myself using these resources in the future. I really like that each subject has clearly defined learning objectives, reviews and an overview of the course content.


Overall, I consider this to be a fantastic resource. Having OE available is advantageous to HE as educators can tap into free online resources to augment learning opportunities, save money on resources and offer supplementary material. Furthermore, as mentioned in my previous post about intergenerational learning, I think this content would be excellent and easy to use for people of any generation. In addition, it could provide valuable and free PD opportunities for any organization looking to provide learning opportunities that don’t come with a huge price tag attached to them.

Has anyone ever received credit for an OE program?
Has anyone ever taken an OE course for PD?
Does anyone use an OE platform for personal interest exploration or personal learning?