Major Project #eci831 Continues!

Just a quick update--I've graded all the tutorials that cover 3 different units, we have 3 tutorials per unit. Some of them are absolutely stellar and the others provide a good alternative if you need more!

We hope to wrap up classes, methods, and arrays so that in January we can work on remixing the class notes, exercises, and solutions, and provide some quizlet quizzes as well! We'll post the entire course with tutorials and everything to Wakelet for anyone's use!

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! Stay tuned for a link to Wakelet!

Nancy Smith Grad Studies 2019-12-11 04:57:00

Summary of Major Digital Project

For my major digital project for EC&I 831, I completed Option A: to undertake a major digital project that involves the integration/development of open educational resources related to my practice.

Specifically, I worked on creating a parent education initiative on social media.  

In March of 2018, I self-published a book, Social Citizens: A Positive Approach to Social Media & Parenting in a Digital World.  I wrote the book in response to a negative experience I had attending a parent session on social media safety at my son's school.  The session focused on all of the dangers of social media rather than explore how parents can help guide their kids in responsible use.  I found the session to be very extreme and the audience was left with many frightening examples of cyber-bullying, sexting and child pornography.  The advice was to discourage kids from using it as long as possible.

That advice did not resonate for me, so I shared a post on Facebook about my frustration

The response was overwhelmingly supportive (63 post reactions, and 48 comments).  My friends and family encouraged me to share the knowledge that I have as a practitioner and social media educator and apply it to help parents.

My focus was on speaking at schools, education conferences and for parent groups.  I had a business coach who was encouraging me to find ways to "monetize my knowledge" and that there were great opportunities to reach a large audience and profit from this.  This advice never resonated with me.  It wasn't the reason I was motivated to do this project, nor did the advice align with my values.

So, when our professor Dr. Alec Couros challenged us with creating a major digital project, I thought it was a good opportunity to leverage the work I had done and build out more resources that would be free/open to all.
I used the materials I wrote and researched for my book as the core content for my project.   
The digital project would build my website and my Facebook page 

I shared my project idea with our class in this blogpost on September 24:

It was validating to get feedback from other students that my idea would be valuable as a resource:

Little did I know at the time that this would be the easiest part of the project - coming up with the idea.  The hard part would become a reality over the month of October.

A few weeks later, I wrote this blog as an update on my progress:

I realized I had no idea where to start. So, I created a list and determined the priorities I would need to learn to complete.

1. I would need to learn how to use the website platform Squarespace so I could add pages to my website and build out the content

2. Determine content plan for my website, which I divided into two phases:

Phase 1: build out content for my existing book.  I spent over 10 months writing and researching the material, so it is important to leverage this.  Specifically, I will:

- record audio version to be uploaded as either an audiobook or podcast (still in research mode to determine which I will do)

I was eager to learn about podcasting, and it was beneficial that this timing coincided with the week in our course where we were reviewing tools & technology that could help build open education content.  Several students, including myself, wrote blogs about the app

I had tried recording using Audacity and Garageband, but found the process to be confusing and overwhelming.  I had previously I reached out to a friend who is a podcaster Ernest Barbaric , and who runs an annual Podcasting Conference called Podsummit.  He helped me get a professional recording microphone and gave me some great advice on the audio recording process.  However, I found being the perfectionist that I am prone to, I was overwhelmed.  Instead, I committed to trying the app I had reviewed,

The actual research and recording process from start to finish took me approximately 20hours.  I rehearsed, recorded, re-recorded and finally published the series of podcasts that would act as an audiobook

Here is the audiobook/podcast series

I was surprised when I looked at the analytics that I have had over 150 plays of my podcast episodes.  I was happy to see that they were all on the Planet Earth (I love that the app is FUN and easy to use) but was really interested to see that 60% of my listeners were in the United States!

Here is the blog post update after I completed my podcast series:

My November update

Realizing my goal of learning how to add to my website proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.  I found some resources online that I used including on, Youtube and Udemy.  And I was successful in building out the framework and content of the site.

I have added new pages, and have continued to work on content but must admit this did not get close to my goal for completion.

I guess the good news is, now I know how to do it, and I can continue to make progress and add to it every month.

I am pleased with the efforts I made on my Facebook page - during the timeline of this project I shared 27 facebook posts - and my Facebook analytics show that my content reached over 1,400 people across North America.  I am always amazed at how social media can help share your message!

In summary, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my ideas/opinions/knowledge with these resources that are open for anyone to access.  

The End is only the beginning. The Journey Continues…

I am sad that this semester is at an end.  I looked forward to the EC&I 831 Tuesday night Zoom sessions and catching up with my classmates/colleagues on Twitter each day.  I’m sure the Twitter relationships will continue, but I am going to miss having our weekly session!  It would be fabulous to just open my classroom door and go visit these amazing folks to see what they’re doing with their students and collaborate on a more frequent basis.  Our PLN has been an incredible gift the past few months.


Continuing my journey

One thing that I know will not be coming to an end is my major learning project, because there is simply no end to my journey for truth and reconciliation.  There are important milestones to reach within the journey I have undertaken as an educator; what I have learned thus far has changed my approach to learning and teaching.  Since deciding to undertake this journey (which I blogged about in Can I be a Witness? and Starting a Journey of Reconciliation) I have immersed myself in history and witnessing all I can possibly witness within the time I have available.

Here, then, is a brief summary of my learning journey…


I re-read large sections of Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools by J.R. Miller and A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System 1879-1996 by John S. Milloy – books that I read years ago during my undergrad degree.  Simply put, I have found these two books to be quite an extensive history of the Residential School System in Canada, and they are excellent primary sources for any questions I have (or my students have) about the schools.

I also read a variety of novels and plays and began incorporating them into my teaching.  Some of my new favourites:

I’m also reading Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline… and it is likely to be on my favourties list in the near future.


I enrolled in a MOOC through the University of Alberta entitled Indigenous Canada.  I have completed 10 of the 12 modules (13 out of 15 course hours) and am really looking forward to finishing the course.   In my research and my curation of content for my Wakelet collections, I’ve found another MOOC through the University of Toronto that I intend to enroll in for next semester entitled Aboriginal Worldviews and Education.  I’m very thankful for the Open courses that are allowing me to learn so much from the comfort of my home without high tuition charges.


I joined a Truth and Reconciliation PLC (Professional Learning Community) in my school division, thanks to Curtis Bourassa and our FNMI consultant Raquel Oberkirsch.  We met for a full day of sharing and working together, with more meetings to come over the course of the year.  We are, collectively, working with resources and developing connections to curricula.  The high school (grades 10-12) teachers in the PLC have been tasked with examining the Treaty Outcomes and deciding which course(s) they best fit with to ensure they are thoroughly and respectfully embedded in appropriate content areas to provide meaningful treaty education.



There were two major cultural events that had a large impact on me during the past few months – the Jeremy Dutcher concert on October 19 and the chamber opera, Missing, on November 8.  I blogged about the Jeremy Dutcher concert in Enrolling in MOOCs and Enjoying Live Music and discussed the opera in Where are they? MMIWG.

A new thing I learned is the making of Tobacco Ties or Prayer Ties.  Raquel (our FNMI consultant) demonstrated how to assemble the ties, discussed the colours of cloth and string, and we talked about the preferences a knowledge keeper or elder may have surrounding these.  The basics of making Tobacco Ties can be found HERE.  The most important piece to remember is that the making of Tobacco Ties or Prayer Ties should be done with reverence and respect, with good thoughts for the intended recipient.

Tobacco Ties
An example of Tobacco Ties


Another treasure I found is the movie The Grizzlies, based on a true story.  In a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America, a group of Inuit students’ lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse. (source)  With suicides among First Nations in the recent news, the movie is an excellent vehicle to get students to think about this critical issue.  The movie is powerful and moving.  Besides being an excellent film, the story about how the film was made is also inspiring.  Everyone involved in the project was committed to portraying the story in as authentic a manner as possible, from choosing the setting to casting the actors.  (To learn more about the making of the movie, see the article HERE).



With my love of writing and stories, which I’ve discussed in numerous blog posts over the last few years, I was thrilled to meet and listen to Ernie Louttit.

“Indian Ernie” – a name he was given on the streets – is the author of three books.  In his talk with our students, he described how:

  • he joined the military and became a police officer despite being on his way to the bar!
  • language is power and he has a huge love for learning.
  • to be a good law enforcement officer, one must be a good story teller and have the ability to use words to recreate and tell the story about an incident.
  • being able to communicate effectively is important for ALL future goals and career aspirations.

As one of the key figures in seeing that justice was served in the Neil Stonechild case and who was instrumental in bringing down the “big guys” in the solvent huffing epidemic in Saskatoon, Ernie stated that he “doesn’t care who gets the credit, just so long as the job gets done.”  He challenged our students to “Be a Leader every day!  Encourage the people around you!”



Learning about Wakelet has been an absolute game changer for me both personally and professionally.  Saving tweets, teaching ideas, resources, articles to read, coaching ideas, Instagram posts… I have 25 collections right now with over 366 bookmarks.  I’ve downloaded the app on my mobile devices and added the extension to my Google browsers on each computer I use.

The collections I curated to document and enhance my learning project are all set to “Public” and can be copied for anyone wishing to use the resources I have collected.  I am adding to the collections as I discover new resources that I can use with students in my classes and would love to have contributors to my collections – please reach out to me if you would like to be a contributor to any of my collections and I would gladly add you!

Here are the links to each of the Wakelets that relate to my learning project:

It looks like a long list, but quite honestly, I feel like I have only scratched the surface and there is so much left to learn.  But, I have a lifetime in which to learn and I know I will continue to add to the collections as part of my ongoing journey.



“When we know better, we do better” as the saying goes.  I don’t know if I’m a “master” teacher yet or if I will ever get there.  I still make a LOT of mistakes, lessons sometimes flop, I lose track of time, my pacing isn’t great sometimes … but I’m pretty good at learning!

The truths I have learned and the amazing stories I have witnessed over the past couple months while on the journey of my learning project will be shared with my classmates, my students, my colleagues, and anyone who wishes to use my Wakelets.  I hope that the collections can teach others and help them with their own learning journey.

As an educator committed to truth and reconciliation, I will use what I have learned to aid in building students’ capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

Thank you for this opportunity to learn.  


P.S. Visit me on Wakelet!

QE Rockstars!!!

I have already said many, many times that my students did amazing learning how to play the ukuleles this fall. They have made so much progress throughout the year. When we first started lessons we did many reps of playing chords over and over and over again. I will admit that during the first couple of weeks I was questioning why I thought learning to play as a class was a good idea. However, slowly I started to see improvement in myself and my students.

We started to learn the chorus of “Let it Be” by the Beatles and the students were doing good, but I could see that they were starting to get a little bored. I bought myself a Kala ukulele and got access to the Kala app with it. At first, I was using the free functions within the app, but quickly realized that all the good stuff was hidden in the “need to buy” part of the app. I decided to pay for a monthly subscription to see if it was going to be a tool that was useful in the classroom and for myself. Well, it has been worth every penny! My students became so much more engaged when we started using the app. We have been able to project the videos on the whiteboard and follow along to so many songs. Here is a little video of how my students sound playing a couple of songs this week.

When we first started to learn “Satisfaction”, we were not doing the strumming pattern and had to slow the tempo way down on the app. Now, we play the song at full tempo with the strumming pattern! I wish I would have had thought to record them playing these songs for the first time, but alas, I didn’t have that much forethought.

Overall, I have met the goals that I set out for myself. I have learned around 8 chords (some I don’t like) and feel like I have mastered two strumming patterns. I am so glad that I decided to do this project with my students. We were able to set aside time each day to play our ukuleles, which was very helpful when time outside of work became very limited. The one struggle that I faced with my students is trying to motivate anyone that didn’t like the ukulele lessons. We still are trying to get a few of the students to fully buy in, but one thing that has helped is allowing the students to pick a song that they would like to learn. I feel like I keep repeating myself, but I have absolutely loved working on the major learning project!

Digital Project Learning Summary

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As I think about my masters journey I think what a great way to end it…with CROCHET!! I have always been a woman who likes to do…I enjoy furniture restoration, decorating, painting, gardening…really all things I can do with my hands. Even when I am sitting, which isn’t often, I like to be productive. Crochet is a craft that allows me to stay focused and keep busy when I have some down time and what a great craft to learn in my final class. Here is my crochet journey!

Blog 1: What matters to me…

This blog allowed me to contemplate what I would like to learn and how I was going to achieve this. I knew right away I would be choosing crochet as my final project-but how was I going to get there? How could I incorporate digital learning into this craft?

The few weeks before this blog was created was big learning…I had opened a twitter account, figured out which blog site I wanted to create my blog on, created an account with WordPress and finally stepped into what I wanted to do. As many people in this class, I work and finding the balance between taking my final 2 masters classes and working was a struggle. I work full time with Saskpolytech as a Clinical Advisor in the SCBScN program, mentoring new staff and assisting struggling students. I wear my uniform every day and head out to various clinical sites, either hospital or community, assisting as needed. I also work as an RN every few weeks at the Regina General Hospital – I truly love being a nurse and staying casual reminds me why I chose nursing as a career. In a typical day-the most I spend online is looking at Facebook and Instagram…maybe 30 minutes. This was a huge learning curve for me.

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What did I learn?

  • that my laptop at home needs updating and won’t even handle WordPress or Zoom to be downloaded 😦
  • Twitter account
  • WordPress Blog
  • inserted a YouTube video into my blog
  • incorporating images into my blog
  • how crochet can be a stress reliever

Blog 2: Crochet 101

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These weeks were spent more tackling the logistics of researching yarn online, heading to the local Micheal’s store to buy yarn and my first crochet hook, searching out other yarn stores in Regina, researching crochet on Pinterest for free patterns, tutorials, stitches and ideas as well as signing up for free online crochet patterns.

What did I Learn?

  • that despite watching tutorials on Pinterest for step by step guides–i am a hands on learner who needs someone to give immediate feedback 😦
  • Micheal’s can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure what you are starting with…colors, weight, cotton vs. wool vs. acrylic vs. many other choices
  • it’s ok to ask a real person for help

Blog 3: Jumping In

This week was a busy week of learning. Once I got the hang of a stitch I didn’t want to put my project down. I just needed to get less clumsy with my fingers and more adept at managing the wool and the hook. I found myself picking up project everytime I sat down and could really focus.

What did I Learn?

  • met with my “crochet elder”
  • I started my first project- a cotton dishcloth…when it didn’t go according to a square dishcloth plan-i flipped it over and started stitching on the other side

Blog 4: Learning the Ropes

I spent this time thinking about how I could take my project further and explore more online. I figured out the time lapse feature on my phone’s camera, so did a quick video. I also searched on my favorite social media outlets of Instagram and Pinterest to get digital.

What did I Learn?

  • By this time, I had been going to visit my “crochet elder” weekly for some tips and to get feedback on my progress.
  • I was able to take a quick time lapse video but until the last 2 weeks didn’t know how to embed it … so here it is!
  • I researched on Pinterest the crochet abbreviations and how to read a crochet pattern
  • I also joined some crochet online communities through Instagram and Facebook

Blog 5: A new level

I had a bit more time this week in my office, so was able to explore Wakelet and start a collection of Crochet ideas as well as figure out some ways on WordPress to make my blog more visually appealing.

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  • critically reflected on my crochet journey
  • finally figured out how to block color my headings on WordPress and organize my posts into categories:)
  • started a Wakelet account to organize my crochet ideas
  • incorporated GIF’s
  • decided thrifting for an afghan may be easier than spending the time, however, realize that the good things aren’t always easy
  • Watched crochet podcasts and created my own YouTube channel to follow podcasts

What did I Learn?

Blog 6: Learning from Mistakes

By this time I was frustrated with my journey and realizing how exhausted I was. I knew it was time to either undo my entire project or call it a day and realize that it was an infinity scarf. So-I learned how to end the project with a couple of knots and started my christmas list early by sending my niece a scarf made by her favorite auntie!

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What did I Learn?

  • follow a pattern
  • ask for advice
  • don’t mix up your stitches
  • it’s ok to realize that you need to start over with new yarn
  • explored Wakelet more and added more to my collection
  • look out the front windshield, not the rearview mirror

Blog 7: Quick update

My first YouTube video

What did I Learn?

  • that it’s ok to learn at my own pace…what may seem huge to me is day 1 for others
  • record a YouTube video and create my own YouTube channel
  • embed a YouTube video onto my blog
My final Project in progress 🙂
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Major Digital Project 9: In Summation

So I’ve finally hit the end of my attempt to learn Spanish, at least formally for my class, EC&I 831. Fortunately, I fully intend to continue learning Spanish going forward, especially through Duolingo and hopefully with some travel and an online course for credit to come.

I figured the most authentic way to assess where my Spanish is now at would be with the Unit 2 Progress Quiz in Duolingo. Here are the results, for better or for worse (spoiler, I passed!):

I also decided to retake the Spanish Proficiency Test I did at the start of the course where I failed miserably with 21% (on a four option multiple choice quiz which would have an average score of 25% for someone just guessing…).

I still didn’t do well (it’s very difficult for a beginner), but I was able to nearly double my score at 40% correct. I think an accurate way to describe my grasp of Spanish at this point is: almost passable.

So, looking back, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs. To recap chronologically:

Major Digital Project 1: Options, Oh, My! — Maybe other people were more decisive than me, but I struggled in choosing a learning project idea in the semester. It wasn’t so much a lack of ideas, but rather too many to chose from. Learning Spanish was ultimately chosen because it aligns best with my personal, professional, and educational goals.

Major Digital Project 2: Option B Underway! — After testing my Spanish proficiency (21% on a multiple choice exam…), I started using Duolingo, a language learning app, daily–I’m now on a 60 day streak!) . This would prove to be my most reliable source of learning, and one that relates well to the ideas of social media and open education explored in the course.

Major Digital Project 3: Duoling-whoa! — I dove into Duolingo’s features and really explored them from an educational lens that the class provided. I also learned how to use a phone screen recorder, which is proving to be a very useful tool, such as on my Summary of Learning.

Major Digital Project 4/5: Hola YouTube! — In this mega post (my version of a classic rock double album), I continued chugging along on Duolingo and added YouTube as a method of learning Spanish. I found the series Spanish for Beginners to be a very accessible way to understand Spanish more conceptually. However, it never became more than a complimentary piece of my learning because it lacked the interactivity needed to truly learn a language.

Major Digital Project 6: Gaming the Gamification — I kept up with Duolingo and and explored the elements of gamification present in the app. It’s very clearly designed to maintain the commitment of its users and works quite well in that regard. I also kept using YouTube resources, and began speaking a bit of Spanish with a few of my students and coworkers.

Major Digital Project 7: Hard Times — I struggled to remain committed to this project during my busiest week of the semester, and reflected on how to cope with those challenges. I also explored an open education Spanish resource suggested by a classmate and gave it a bit of a review (it’s useful, but not especially engaging).

Major Digital Project 8: Tallying the Progress — I used this post as an opportunity to trace my journey so far, especially the time I had committed to Duolingo. At this time, I had estimated a usage of 33 hours in the app alone. At the time of this post, I’m up to 40 hours! That wouldn’t include any of the supplementary work, of course.

So that’s that. One of the key takeaways of this project for me is the observation that recording my learning progress probably took almost as much time as the learning itself. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Reflecting on your progress is a form of accountability that kept me focused on the task and helped me remain committed and motivated. It also introduced me to new tools like Screencastify, Wevideo, and AZ Screen Recorder. The value of interaction with classmates cannot be overstated either. I leave this course inspired by the work of others and committed to continuing my learning, both as an educator and a learner (and really, they are one and the same).

I’ve Had the Time of my Life…

I am so happy that my teaching partner was open to teaching my students and me how to play the ukulele. It has been so much fun! I have loved watching my students become more comfortable each day and the joy they feel when they have mastered a new chord, new song and new strumming pattern. It has been great working through the learning process with them. Last week we were learning how to play “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”, which has a new chord in it, and I was having difficulty with it. One of my students said to me “Just keep practicing Ms. B, you’ll get it!” Not only have the students been encouraging me, but they also have encouraged each other, which is the best part of this whole process. I am amazed at how much we have learned in such a small time and look forward to keeping it up in 2020!

I’m not sure how many chords we learned, but it was quite a few. We also learned how to do two different strumming patterns in some songs. On my own this week, I also learned a song (Cecelia by Simon and Garfunkle) that required me to play two different chords within the strumming pattern. There were definitely times that my brain couldn’t keep up with all of the things that my hands had to do, but I am very proud of my success. I have included a video that has a montage of some of the songs that I learned this term.

I forgot to record audio of my students playing some of the songs, so I will add that in tomorrow!

Learning project journey

I chose to learn some aspects of Project Management as my learning project this term. In my opinion, the topic was a bit dull and abstract, but I tried to take advantage of the time allocated for this project to learn something I wanted to learn for a long time, as I explained in detail in my first post. Also, I tried to learn different tools along the journey to show my learning progress, as follows:

  • How to identify the critical path and the process of scheduling a project. I created a video explaining the process and steps of how to draw the network diagram and find the critical path. I used the Ipad pro and Zoom to record the video

Despite the knowledge I gained leaning the topic, I feel I am more aware of the resources around me that I can use to learn anything I want.

  • Blogging with my classmates and their recommendations and inspirations through breakout rooms or comments were a huge help.   I think we form a very nice community. The Twitter lists of previous students of the course would also be an excellent resource to build a bigger community sharing the same interests.
  • The massive amount of open resources on the internet; Journals, articles, books and videos
  • Twitter was another great resource when I looked for #projectmanagement. I was able to identify a few of the “influencers” on the topic such as who they also have a list of videos on project management that are very helpful
  • Youtube was my go-to resource when I am stuck with understanding a new concept or tool
  • Different hashtags (such as #projectmanagement ) on different platforms (twitter and youtube)  were an excellent resource for finding out links, videos, presentations and media that described the topic.
  • The Career & Professional Development workshops at CCE  were an eye-opening experience that I learned a lot from and enabled me to connect with many project managers and experts in Regina.
  • and the Regina public library were my way to go if I wanted to dig deeper into a specific concept or borrowing books

The only thing I failed to do is getting responses to my request for a recommendation on Twitter, but I know this is due to the small number of followers I have and the fact of being an introvert who get panicked every time I use social media.

I used Wakelet as per Dean’s recommendation. Take a look at my first Wakelet.

I feel it was a time very well spent in learning something I will continue to use in my professional and personal life. I plan to keep the other aspects of Project Management to connect the dots in my head.


Major Project – Coles Notes

As I looked back at all of my posts to help me summarize my major project, it has made me realize how far I have come with my knowledge, abilities, and confidence in playing the clarinet. I have not only impressed myself, but my two mentors (my daughter and my niece) are equally amazed at what I have accomplished. Although I haven’t reached all of the goals I have set throughout the process, I feel inclined to continue practicing using some of my online resources, such as I abandoned this early in my journey as I felt it was too difficult too soon. However, I would like to revisit it.

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Week one consisted of finding resources to help me along my journey. I came across, which helped familiarize me with how to put the clarinet together as well as how to hold it properly. I particularly liked the visual of the proper fingering for each note. I printed this off for both my daughter and I to use.

I also came across, which gave me a free glimpse at some videos related to their Learn to Play the Clarinet: Beginner to Pro in Under Five Hours course, for which I enrolled in within the week.

In addition to finding these two great resources, I had some help from my daughter to play my first two basics songs (Hot Crossed Buns and Mary Had a Little Lamb) using the notes E, D, and C. Lastly, she taught me how to properly clean the instrument after use, which I didn’t even consider needed to be done, and correctly put it back in its case.


I enrolled and embarked in my  lessons. I started off with a review of things that my daughter had taught me such as the parts of the clarinet, how to put it together, take it apart, and clean it properly. I also started to learn the first few notes (E, F, & G) but struggled with my embouchure, breathing, tonguing (articulation), and refraining from showering myself and my instrument with spit.

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The struggle is real!

Through my course, my instructor was using a metronome to keep a beat. I decided to download my own app rather than replaying the lesson video. This was by far one of the best decisions I made as I found it difficult to do on my own, especially as I learned quarter, half, and whole notes in the weeks ahead.

Lastly, I continued to utilize the step-by-step guidance of my daughter’s Standard of Excellence book that she uses in band class as it allowed me to practice the first introductory notes and fingering techniques that my course did not provide.


Articulation continued to be a trouble spot for me during the third week. I did some more research and found a video on YouTube that helped me with this issue. This was very helpful and even provided me with a good visual of some of my tonguing difficulties and how to correct them.

I continued on with my course and learned intervals or scale in thirds. This was a challenge as I had not practiced at all with my music theory (reading notes) and that is what was used as a reference on the course for me to follow. Thanks to my rockstar classmate, Brad Raes for giving me permission to forgo learning the theory and simply find other ways to compensate for this, such as using tabs like a guitar. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as clarinet tabs, so I replayed the video lesson over and over again until I could watch the instructor’s fingering as well as listen to the notes being played until I memorized it. Not the fastest way to learn, but it worked for this lesson.


During the fourth week, I brought in another expert, my 14-year-old niece. This idea was brought on by another wonderful classmate, Brooke, who commented that it is sometimes easier to have an “instructor present to help you through the struggles or to ask questions and receive immediate feedback.” My niece gave me credit for the things I was doing well and then adjusted some of my embouchure techniques, specifically breathing across the reed rather than down into it. She also stressed the importance of music theory and gave me some tips on how to read notes. Although this contradicted what Brad had told me, I trusted her expertise and decided to focus on reading music.

I found a website that provided me with some acronyms for notes on the lines and notes between the lines. Who doesn’t love a good acronym to help imprint something on your brain?


Retrieved from Teaching Ideas

Retrieved from Teaching Ideas

I also found a printable musical Mad Minute worksheet as well as an interactive website that provided me with more practice on music theory.


This week I realized that I needed to have an end goal in place to know exactly what I was trying to achieve by the end of the semester. I started to admit to myself that the course was not the be-all and end-all that I was thinking it was going to be for me. It moved way too quickly for my amateur skills, and I was coming to terms with this. Matteo made mention in one of my posts that he has had a few adult students, and he found that they really learned things sort of differently; they were slower learners compared to most kids. Now that I had things put into perspective about adult learners, I set some goals.

Ultimate Goal
Be able to play at least 5 different songs using my labeled sheet music that incorporates only the notes A-F (notes played with the left hand only).

Steps to Achieve Ultimate Goal
1. Be able to fluently label notes A-F on sheet music to help learn music theory.
2. Be able to efficiently identify and play quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes in a 4/4 time signature
3. Be able to “master” my embouchure, articulation, and breathing.

With this in mind, I continued to plug away using my daughter’s Standard of Excellence book and recorded another song.


My face muscles just don’t have the stamina and strength that they need to allow me to play as much as I want in one session. I found a video describing some difficulties with maintaining a good embouchure and it was recommended to slice playing sessions into smaller chunks with short breaks incorporated throughout. This would allow face muscles to rest and recharge.

I also started to practice labeling sheet music and was starting to get better at recognizing notes. I would then use this labeled sheet music to practice and take away the stress of trying to read and play notes at the same time. What a lifesaver! This was meant to be a short term solution to music theory.

More songs were recorded and more feedback was given from my daughter, who was starting to get tired of “helping” me learn to play. The novelty was wearing off.

I set more goals since some progress was made:

  1. Play more often in smaller time chunks that are sliced to allow for my facial muscles to have a rest yet build stamina.
  2. Play songs that incorporate all eight notes played by the left hand (A-G).
  3. Continue to practice labeling notes (A-G) on sheet music to build fluency in recognizing and reading.
  4. Attempt to play songs without the use of labeled notes using only notes C, D, & E.


I sought out my niece again to get some specific feedback this week as my daughter had lost interest. Am I ever glad I did that as she recommended that I increase my metronome to be 120 beats per minute (bpm) instead of the 60 bpm that I had been practicing with all along. This would mean that I wouldn’t have to hold a note for as long, which would have a positive impact on my articulation, breathing, and embouchure difficulties. Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t fix everything, but it helped tremendously.

I reflected on my goals and realized that I was not going to make progress with my music theory and that labeled sheet music was the way to go. However, I still wanted to make one last-ditch effort but committing to playing the song that my daughter would be playing at her winter band concert, Beethoven’s Ninth, without it being labeled. A tall feat perhaps, but I was committed to the challenge.


As I continued to practice the step-by-step guidance using the Standards of Excellence book, I came across a song that could be played as a duet. The interesting thing about this is that Catherine had mentioned in a previous post that I should play a duet with my daughter. Due to her lack of interest and the fact that we both shared one clarinet, I decided that I would create a duet on my own. I recorded both parts and joined them together using WeVideo and voila! My very first duet!

In addition to this duet, I had progressed so far in my lessons that I was being introduced to the scary B note. This is a note that is played with the right hand. I had only been learning notes that are played using my left hand and that was my end goal. Do I continue on? Am I even ready? Should I go back and repeat lessons like I did for Of course, I was ready!

I adjusted and set more goals and was eager to make more progress.


Unfortunately, with preparing and facilitating 3-way conferences as well as planning three family birthday parties within two weeks, I came up short on my goals. That’s just the way things work sometimes. However, I am super impressed with the progress I made with learning to play the clarinet and I have so much more respect for all musicians.

I also have a lot of respect for band teachers. I attended my daughter’s band concert last week and they have over 100 grade 6 students to coordinate with over 10 different instruments. I was shocked by how well they played at this time of the year already. I’m excited to see how much more they improve by the end of the year. I’m also interested to see if my daughter will continue on with band next year.

Lastly, I have shared my journey with my family over the semester and they’ve been very supportive. Supportive in my family is making fun of someone who is going out of their comfort zone. However, my parents have invited all kids and grandkids to bring their instruments (three clarinets, one trombone, and one piano player) to their house during our Christmas gathering to have a family music jam sessions. This is going to be an interesting Christmas!

Family Band

Wrapping Up the Learning Project

Over the past 4 months, I have decided to learn how to code Python.  I set my goals very high, although I did not reach all of them due to the level of difficulty I did learn a lot.  In this post, I am going to highlight the successes and the struggles of my journey in learning how to code Python.


  • I spent time learning the syntax (the rules of Python) and this itself will prove to be beneficial as I will be able to Python scripts, and I will also be able to learn a little bit about other coding languages as well.
  • I have learned how to successfully log in to a website by running a Python script.  Although I could not ger my Python script to successfully complete the action of liking some #eci831 tweets I was happy to use Python to automate this process.
  • I created a text-based video game that the user had to defeat the “Monster” this was a very involved process that I was glad to see worked out in the end.
  • On my RaspberryPi, I bought a camera.  I was successfully able to take a picture with this camera and upload it block by block into Minecraft.  Although not applicable to many things I did have fun testing out my creation.
  • One of the highlights was for me to understand how to create a Graphic User Interface.  These are the actual windows that pop up on computers. I was able to create a working calculator, and I am continuing to try to create some sort of game using Python.
  • I utilized two apps to learn how to code Python, Sololearn and Py.  These apps helped me learn the syntax for coding Python


  • I really struggled with the ability to not see success right away.  Coding is a complex skill that requires problems to be broken down into small problems.  I struggled to get many components to work and got frustrated in the process.  (Reflecting on this, this process was important for me to experience as many of our learners also face these problems.
  • In my current job, it already requires a lot of screen time.  I struggled with the fact that some days after spending a large portion of the day working on the computer that I would have to come home and work on some coding.  (On reflecting, it might have been beneficial to learn how to do something more relaxing, for example, how to use my Cricut to decorate for my wedding)

Thanks for tagging along on my coding journey!

For all my Python posts check out my ECI831 Category: Learning Project 2.0.