Author Archives: bradraes7578

What is normal?


My project for EC&I 832 is going to be social awareness piece based on Normative Center and the unconscious biases that form it. The first time I was introduced to the idea of Normative Center (NC), was through this article by Graham and Slee. It was in a curriculum class and how NC relates to First Nations (FN) culture and FN education. I have discussed this article and its ideas with a lot of friends and colleagues since then as I find the idea thought provoking and believe that it needs talked about more openly.

Normative Center is an interesting concept that can be applied to many different areas of our lives. NC is based on individual and cultural biases, so it can be a sensitive subject and a conversation that you cannot force someone into. A person must understand their own biases to reflect on how they may have influenced past decisions, or the way you talk to and treat other people.

To better understand my own biases and hopefully open the floor to some discussion about it I am going to talk to some people that can offer unique perspectives on aspects of Normative Centers in Canadian culture. These talks will look at but not be limited to: physical/mental disabilities, First Nations culture, race and gender.

I am excited about the response to this idea and have been able to line up several experts willing to be interviewed. These interviews will discuss the Normative Center and how it relates to them personally, professionally, culturally, and what this means in an increasingly digitally world.

I hope these conversations will further my understanding of bias and NC. I also hope that this will help others to identify the need to discuss this and become more aware of the deep reaching impacts of unconscious bias.

Musings of the future.

Conversations of the future have always been intriguing to me. I often wonder what the future will bring and make a conscious effort to challenge my teaching practice with a growth mindset.

People have pondered the future since the beginning of time, this is evident in early literature and has expanded even more in modern culture. I think it is difficult to imagine what culture would be like without imagining school. School, for better or worse; shapes a large part of our early life. What would your life be like without the influence of school and the people within it? It is interesting to think just how far reaching peer relationships are, this study outlines a few examples.

Besides the writers of “The Simpsons“, not many of us can predict the future. I think it is always fun to consider how our predictions of the future has evolved. For instance, with modern technology having already invented driver-less cars, would future shows still include pilots and drivers? What does it say about modern culture when most futuristic shows written are post apocalypse? Based on many of these futuristic movies, education will either be a non existent (people are literally just trying not to die), or a marvel of modern technology and Zen-like students. Not a lot of middle ground, or mention of curriculum or agricultural based calendars.

Anyone that hasn’t seen this little gem… you can thank me later.

One thing is for certain, education is not developing as fast as new technology and teachers should be working hard to become as literate as possible in regard to technology and its uses in the classroom.

It is impossible to predict what public education will look like in 50 years, but there will always be a need to deliver it. I agree with the 9 things that will shape the future of education, as many of them are already being implemented now. The brick and mortar buildings most of us work in are essential to our current economy, many families rely on dual income and this leaves children with no place to go. Some of the 9 points from the article stuck out to me as a large steps away from the standard of education as we know it. The project based learning,field work and student mentoring sections in particular. This reminded me more of a tech/trade school approach. This sort of public education system is what I envision if we moved towards a system that Elon musk and many others predict will eventually happen in North America.

I believe that there will always be a need for face to face teachers, but their role in public education may look very different in the future. I think the best way we can support young learners is to teach them to be self motivated,critical researchers that are flexible to changing work/learning environments.

Celeb talks with Mary Beth

This was an exercise in self control for me, It’s hard for me to be professional for that many minutes in a row, so I didn’t ask to many questions… I kinda think this could have been an interview Zac would have been proud of.

All jokes aside, the conversation we had with Mary Beth was a great example of a guest speaker facilitating a conversation between a group of people. I enjoyed the way she presented resources and thoughts but left it up to the audience to draw their own conclusions.

The amount of tech that youth use on a daily basis has skyrocketed within the last decade. With this increase there needs to be equal growth in the education surrounding digital citizenship and literacy. Mary Beth, Alec and the rest of the class raised a lot of interesting points and I was able to walk away with a lot of great resources to pass along to teachers in my school. (please add any other relevant links to the document).

Like Michala I found the talk on COPPA, to be informative as I know very little about that. It prompted me to do a little further research and thought this was an interesting video as I remember being intrigued when the video upload requirements changed on youtube.

Fake news, reading laterally vs. horizontally and teaching students to be critical thinkers is something I really enjoyed talking about as I think it is extremely important in our society. These are subject that should have far greater importance placed on them, so I always look for ways to gain perspective and resources from like minded people.

Thanks for sharing!

Major Learning Project week 1

I had a bit of a hard time narrowing down an idea that would fit into the parameters of the options available. I wanted to do something both meaningful and challenging. My journey thus far in the EC&I classes has proved useful in my daily teaching by greatly improved my understanding of technology in the classroom. This growth was not the easy for me and came through a great deal of work, mostly because of my own inefficiencies with technology.

This term will be no exception, I plan on doing a project that will challenge my understanding of technology and some deep seated social intricacies that I would like to get a better understanding of.

The Inspiration

This little hairball is Luke Claude Raes. He is currently 2.5 years old and is quite a little character (like me). He is your typical kid, makes a big mess, says funny things and cries when he doesn’t get his way, (like his mom). When Luke was born it was a warm day in August and everything went well, Lacey has a family history of quick births, so quick in fact that two children have been born on the way to the hospital. SO, being a car guy I toyed with the idea that it may be kind of neat having your kid born in the car… you know, name him something funny like Silverado, Skylark or Lincoln… depending on which vehicle he was born in. I am sure we can all agree this is unique opportunity and would be a great family story down the road. Like most of my good ideas, it was quickly rejected and we compromised and decided to have a more traditional birth. So as we sat and ate our lunch that Sunday afternoon I remember the feeling of great anticipation as Lacey told me that we needed to leave. We arrived at the hospital and the contractions were increasing in speed and intensity. The nurses told her calmly that everything was on track, but left the room to tell the doctor he needed to come immediately. Less than 30 minutes later Luke was born. What an amazing roller coaster of emotion, on one hand I was agonizing watching the woman I love go through so much pain and the other so proud of the little life we had just brought into the world.

As Luke was born the doctor called the nurse to help, it turns out there was a complication with the umbilical chord. It had tied itself in a knot, after a few initial tests were done the doctor informed us that Luke was a little miracle baby. He explained that in the 20 years he had been delivering babies that this had only once before happened where there weren’t considerable health complications as a direct result. This comment was burned into the back of brain and still surfaces from time to time.

As Luke grew older we began to notice that he was left handed, like really left handed. He often wouldn’t open his right hand to hold his bottle… enter doctors comment from the back of my mind.

During Luke’s regular checkups it seemed he was not meeting some of the milestones typical in child development. Our doctor explained that it is not normal for infants to show such strong left or right handed tendencies, he recommended that we see a specialist to help diagnose why he was falling behind. I remember leaving that appointment feeling very different, I was not sad, or upset because Luke was my son and and a diagnoses wouldn’t change that. But, at the same time I could see some of those little daydreams of Luke playing the guitar, or being the high school quarterback slipping away…

So off to the specialist we go, after months of physiotherapy and talking to a long list of specialists (who were all wonderful, and get to play with infants all day… what a great job) it was determined that Luke has Cerebral Palsy, (almost certainly due to his oxygen supply being cut off from the knot in his umbilical chord). Some of the language they used to describe it was extremely lucky, fortunate, minimally disabled… these will come into play later.

I know this is a long and unsolicited look into my personal life. I don’t often talk about it because I don’t like the idea that Luke isn’t normal. He is a funny little character just like everyone else his age, he is minimally effected by this as he has been meeting all cognitive milestones and due to his physiotherapy he has started getting more mobility in his right arm. However, he is not “normal”. So, my project will be a social awareness campaign based around the “normative center”.

Some of the things I would like to explore are:

  • What is the Normative Center?
  • How does the Normative Center affect people both “in” and “outside” of it?
  • Who decides what normal is?
  • Why do people feel the need to “fix” someone outside the “normative center”?
  • How do students/adults feel that don’t fit into this definition of normal?

Please feel free to add some points that could be addressed. I would love to hear your point of view around some of these thoughts so please open a dialogue with me about them!

EC&I 832

Good day fellow EC&I students! My name is Brad Raes, I grew up on a cattle ranch on the edge of the Grasslands National Park near the village of Wood Mountain. I am looking forward to this term as I have found the other Ed. Tech classes extremely useful in my daily teaching. I hope to be able to continue my journey in Ed. Tech and hope there is an opportunity to help you out with some of the tips and lessons I have picked up from colleagues along the way!

Anyone that has spent much time with me understands that I typically enjoy taking a lighthearted approach. I believe that there is a time and a place for being serious and I will let you know when I find it!

Major Learning Project Final Post

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EC&I 831 has been a wonderful journey this term. Being part of such a knowledgeable group of people was a great opportunity to improve my digital literacy. I am always a little nervous to be a part of these types of learning communities, technology is still a foreign language to me. However, I am a strong believer in growth mindsets and strive to be the person that can one day answer some tech questions rather than just ask them.

My project, like many journeys was not about the destination, it was about the journey. I began with a simple goal in mind, to increase my chops on the bass. Something I have been wanting to do for a while now, and this year it became more important. I play in a “dad-band”, which I would compare to the sandlot in more ways than one. We have one talented player, we do it more for fun than anything and finally when someone moves away we don’t replace them, we just keep playing. When our bass player moved away, it fell on me to take his place in the rhythm section. I would like to think that its because I have broad shoulders and was able to fill his shoes… but in the end I think it was largely due to me being the worst guitarist in the band.

This idea began a self serving one but grew into three major ideas. Exploring gamification, collaborating with people online and learning to edit music and video with different audio/video editing software. The bass guitar turned into a vessel that would guide the direction of these three big ideas.


It sounds made up, and according to my computer it is spelled incorrectly. However, what it means is learning using games. This idea isn’t a new one, the game of chess was designed to teach strategy.During WW2, fighter pilots were encouraged to play squash to sharpen reflexes and learn how to assess and exploit opponents weaknesses quickly.

Image result for classic mavis beacon typing game

Moving closer to our time, how many of you used Mavis Beacon as a child to increase typing skills? This could be used as an early example of gamification in the digital age. It used games to make learning a mundane task more fun. This has evolved into an entire market, companies develop games that attract people by learning a task in a non-traditional way. These types of games include everything from music to complex science or math games.

The games and online learning platforms that I explored were:

I don’t believe there is a conclusive answer as to which one is the best learning platform, as that would greatly depend on individual learners. In my opinion, no one tool has everything needed to grow into a competent bass player. The amount of practice time needed to become proficient is extraordinary. However, if you look at it from a cost vs. learning standpoint I think youtube is the winner. Youtube has thousands of lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, what they may lack from a teaching perspective they make up for in cost effectiveness. Yousician and Rocksmith are games designed to be fun and are a great introduction to guitar/bass playing. Rocksmith lacks some essential ideas on music theory and in my opinion gets a little boring after a while. It requires a gaming console, and game/chord, both can be purchased for under $100. Yousician closed some gaps in the theory section that Rocksmith left, but lacks enough interesting lessons to keep me motivated and is rather expensive @ 10.00 per month for a one year subscription. For more info on the comparison between Yousician and Rocksmith please read my week 2 blog.

Fenderplay, Udemy and Youtube would not fit directly in to the “gamification” category but would be considered alternative learning platforms. These would all be wonderful suppliments to Yousician and Rocksmith. All three platforms have pre-made lesson plans from beginner to advanced and if followed would ultimately lead to a well rounded bass player. These online lessons are great, however they are not without their flaws either. I found Fenderplay lacked song selection and was over $100 for a one year subscription. Udemy’s bass lesson package was a terrific source of music theory but lacked song selections that I enjoyed but was a good deal $35 for the lesson package. That being said you could easily find similar lessons to both these sites for free on Youtube. For more info on this comparison please read my week 3 blog.


I used a few different editing platforms for this project, both of which were new to me. For the video software I used apple clips to submit several vlog posts as part of my learning journey. Apple clips was easy to use and their were several helpful instructional videos. Because our school has several iPads I was able to teach a few teachers how to use this in their classroom. I also used screencastify to show some editing progress… with what I will describe as limited success.

I went to twitter and our course community to ask some of my peers what music editing software they had used and liked. One of the stipulations was that I wanted free software. A few classmates recommended Audacity and a quick internet search proved that it was a top recommended software for PC computers. I have access to a mac as well, but I feel much more comfortable on a PC, taking advice from my high school science teacher I thought it would be wise to “only change one thing at a time”. One setback that I quickly realized was I needed much more than just my computer mic to record audio. I was able to borrow all the necessary gear from a friend who also became my mentor and an irreplaceable teacher in my journey to editing music. This was by far the most difficult and humbling experience of my learning journey. I underestimated every aspect of this project, playing instruments to a metronome without any visual cues is difficult, then adding several instruments on top of that just seemed to compound any mistakes. Setting levels and lining tracks up was difficult only because the program is visually overwhelming when you have more than 5 tracks on it. This gave me an entire new appreciation to even the simplest of recordings.

Once I started putting video clips together for the final project I quickly realized that windows moviemaker did not have the options I wanted. A quick search for software turned up Movavi . I watched some instructional videos, some of which were done by promoters, some hobbiests and even a few kids. I was blown away at how well done some of these videos were by people that sound as though they are no older than 12. Movavi does have some good features, but it was easy to be overwhelmed with the split screen option. I had a lot of small technical problems that cost valuable time, and I hope that a fresh start will shed some light on the cause. It has a screencastify option which could turn out to be very helpful. I had to buy a subscription after I found I couldn’t post split screen videos with the free trial software… I found this out after I had finished editing…. of course.


This was definitely my favorite part of the project, I was excited to work with some people out there in internet land. I appreciated Alec’s callout for musicians and although there were some interest, I was unable to line anything up. I was however able to trick Amanda Brace into working with me… She was working on piano and after some discussions about a song that would be a good fit, we landed on The Beatles, “I wanna hold your hand”. Amanda was great to work with, helping me with this was more work than she will likely admit, so please join in helping me thank her. I did manage to work with some other people, during a zoomroom lesson with Brooke Alexander I was able to share some helpful hints and resources to help her along her guitar learning journey.

The Bass

Learning an instrument is a labor of love, there is no finish line. You could play for an entire lifetime and never be finished learning. Saying that, I have a lot left to learn about the bass, but I am really enjoying the journey so far. I am happy with my progress, I spent a lot of time on the couch practicing scales and boxed methods while watching the beat bugs with my 2 year old. Improving my skills on the bass was the starting point and now seems like a small part of this project. I look forward to each part of this project carrying on in different parts of my life. Audacity and Movavi will come to play in my professional life as I will pass along my newly acquired skills to my rockband project at school. I think recording a song and doing a video for it could be a really cool project for the kids in my club.

Check out the finished project!


Blog posts

Summary of Learning

This class has been a wonderful experience. It gave me the opportunity to work with like-minded people that challenge my viewpoints and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to class discussions.

I am very grateful for the resources that were brought forward by Alec and my classmates. I often compare this class to a really good P.D opportunity, I say that because so many things from this class directly transfer into my role as a teacher and learning leader.

In approximately 37 tries I was unable to fully capture my learning journey in under seven minutes. I undoubtedly missed several important points, but please give it a watch! Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to my peers for being a part of my journey!

Nov. 25

This week has been a busy one... Lots of lessons learned. It seems I undershot the amount of work music editing is. Not only is it an incredible amount of work, if you don’t have access to the equipment needed it would be very costly to get started. So I guess my dreams of working at Abbey Road Studios have come to an end.

As you can see from my video, recording instruments through the computers microphone is probably not going to help you land a record deal in the near future. I will break down the cost of everything needed that I have been using so far… for fun.

So recording a song could be a pretty pricey en devour if you don’t have access to the proper equipment. I am fortunate to be able to borrow things that I don’t have and not be out of pocket for anything, just something to consider. There are plenty of videos out there that will help answer what gear to buy.

I hope the final recording goes well! Thanks for everyone that has helped along the way.

Social Activism and Education

Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

Social Activism has taken on an entirely new meaning in the past few decades. A social activist according to the Oxford dictionary is defined as: “a person who works to achieve political or social change, especially as a member of an organization with particular aims.”

This is not a new idea, however the platform has changed from an old wooden crate to social media. This change has given voice to millions and is an unprecedented medium for reaching the masses. This has proven to be an extremely powerful tool in many cases, and in the right hands can be the foundation for social change. I believe the best thing social media has to offer is the potential for authenticity. It can allow stories to be shared by people directly effected by the issue, and not filtered through mass media moguls. I know this idea of authenticity doesn’t necessarily line up with reality at times, but the potential is there… or perhaps was there at the beginning.

The is an exert from an article on social media: a tool for social justice.

Activist DeRay Mckesson spoke at John Hopkins University last year at a student-run symposium: Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. Here, Mckesson refers to social media being used as a method of advocating for the self and not relying on media giants to accurately portray protesters, in the context of the Ferguson protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. “People of color are always facing issues of erasure, and erasure operates in two ways — one, the story is never told, or it’s told by everyone but us,” Mckesson said. “And in this moment, we became the unerased.”

Sometimes activism takes a while to pay off. Nike is an ideal case study.

Researchers at Northwestern University found that other cases of social justice centered around major corporations can be powerful tools as well. Bringing light to social injustices that corporations are perpetrating have both long and short term effects.

“Initially, it may be that organizations want to buffer themselves from future attacks from activists,” King says. “But the result is that they end up creating a real pathway for change inside the organization.” The corporations initiate “a cycle that reinforces the values of the activists.” source

These examples of change brought on by bringing awareness through social media are only a few examples of the positive side to social activism. Unfortunately it is not all sunshine and rainbows. For every person trying to do something positive there will be a troll working to undermine it. This raises question, is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? I believe it is. However, there needs to a major education piece aimed at social etiquette and online accountability. If you look at the comment section of basically any controversial issue it is typically a hotbed for ignorance, online shaming and hot-headed comments. These types of keyboard warriors raise important questions as to why people feel the need to lash out online. Where is the disconnect between physical and online personas?


The fascinating thing about social media is that its greatest attribute is also its biggest flaw. When everyone is talking, nobody is listening. Twitter, facebook and other social media platforms have the potential to be wonderful tools of collaboration. Yet, in many cases; they seem to be little more than extensions of school yard popularity contests. A place where “likes” and followers equates to social status. Although this particular article is outdated, I would like to see more modern research on social class vs. social media.

This study from 2009 asks “Is there a class divide online? Research suggests yes. A recent study by market research firm Nielsen Claritas found that people in more affluent demographics are 25 percent more likely to be found friending on Facebook, while the less affluent are 37 percent more likely to connect on MySpace.”

What would this study look like now? Is there a correlation between your social class and the social media platform you choose?

The past few months I became hyper-sensitive to being bombarded with political articles on social media. Advertisements and articles aimed at smearing different political parties/ leaders, all of which left a very sour taste in my mouth. It seems the political divide in our country has reached an all-time high (at least in my lifetime), and I believe that social media is playing a large part in that. I would wager that the political influence of facebook is outreaching some major news media channels. So, in essence we have replaced the influence of one major corporation with another…

Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

So… IF you are following my train of thought so far this is a difficult question to answer. Yes, online social activism can be meaningful and worthwhile. IF you take time to consider some factors such as: the source, the intent, the influence of the social media platform it is on and of course your personal bias. After all these are considered, what will you do about it? Press a like button, pass it on and be put on the long list of slacktivists, Or enact life changes suggested by social media trends. Not that I want to start an online debate here, but I think #slacktivism isn’t all bad. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see more people (myself included), making positive lifestyle changes based on the values of global citizenship. However, the spreading of awareness on social media necessitates people hitting the like button.

What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

I think it is our responsibility as educators to talk about both the good and bad. I would be hesitant to engage students in being socially and politically active online. I feel like encouraging social activism without a foundation of responsible online global citizenship would be irresponsible. I think we should work hard at building the foundation for responsible online citizenship. Like fact checking, educating yourself, not relying on social media platforms as your sole source of information… finally, I would try very hard to understand and teach social etiquette and why people seem to forget basic social values when commenting in online forums.

Warning, the following video has some harsh language.

November 19th.

I finally understand the reason behind Paul McCartney’s signature bass. I always found it a little ugly, however after practicing bass scales and trying to play the album version of Johnny B. Goode, I realize that Paul’s short scale bass would be so much easier to play. The difference between a long and short scale bass guitar is about 3 inches. The neck being three inches shorter would really help me out as I am trying to stretch across 4 frets. I see a lot of improvement with playing these scales but I know the journey is nowhere near done.

As I continue practicing this it is time to start looking for some free music editing software… and someone that can do the solo for Johnny. B Goode. If you have any suggestions with the music editing software… please let me know.