Category Archives: learning project

Wâhkôhtowin (Kinship)

Tansi classmates,

This week I have been working on expanding my cree vocabulary. If you recall from my last post, my goal for the week was to learn question words and expand my vocabulary. I decided to start with vocabulary before learning questions words because I felt that I needed to have the vocabulary before I could formulate questions.

I started to search for the words to describe family. This turned into a whole new discovery. In my mind, I was going to create a “family tree” with all the words for different family members. Instead, I have had a cultural learning experience.

To give you a glimpse, check out this screen cast:

Needless to say, I realize that the family tree is much more in depth than just translating simple words from English. The most important concept to understand is the concept of wâhkôhtowin or kinship. Family is a central part of Cree culture and family values are central and embedded into the language. Chelsea Vowel (the author of this blog) described kinship as follows:

“I was taught to think of my mother’s sisters as my mothers.  Not my birth mothers, but as women who definitely held that maternal role in my life.  There was a closer bond to them than there were to my mother’s brothers.  If you need to relate it to English, just think of it as ‘the women in your life who are related to you in a way that gives them a maternal role’.  Those women are my mother’s sisters and my father’s brother’s wives.”

Family includes both extended and immediate family and extended family plays a very important role in raising children. By studying the terms used for extended family members, you will see how important they are. This page gives a great overview of the meanings of the extended family words. Here is a screenshot:


This particular page is describing the meaning behind the words for cousins. However, the meaning of the word is actually the same word as sibling. Chelsea Vowel describes this further on her blog. She says: “the terms are the same as they are for our siblings, because in fact, these cousins are like our siblings.  They are the children of our mothers and fathers.  They are closer to us than the anglo understanding of ‘cousin’.  Though I did not grow up in a super traditional household, this aspect of my upbringing certainly is true.  My mother’s sister’s children were as close (and annoying) to me as my own brothers, while there has always been a distance between me and my mother’s brother’s children.”

To summarize, I learned the following about Cree terms for family:

  1. Similar to the introductions, the family words have root words. From these root words the cree speaker places the root words in grammatical structures called paradigms.
  2. Gender and number are important because the Cree language is spoken in number-gender agreement

The root words are as follows:

Ōhtāwīyimāw for father

Okawiyimaw for mother

Ostesimaw for brother

Omisimaw for sister

From these root words, you add the prefix to form a paradigm. Chelsea Vowel explains them well in her blog. This screenshot explains the prefixes as follows:


This video provides a great lesson on the words for family members using the “my” prefix. In addition, it provides an example of the pronunciation.

If I were to take all of those words beginning with “ni” and replaced the prefix with “ki” then I would be saying “your” as opposed to “my.” What I have yet to learn is why the root word is not just a formation of the root plus the prefix. For example, is the root for Okawiyimaw mother and “ni” is the prefix but the word for mother is nikâwiy and not nikâwiyimaw. This is something I have to figure out. I do, however know that the “O” that is at the front of the word for mother is the general third person prefix. If any Cree speakers read my blog, could you please clarify this for me?

I am happy that I have learned a lot more about the words for family and the meaning of Wâhkôtowin. I feel that I have learned more about the language but also about culture, which was a personal goal.

What are you thoughts on the words for family in Cree? If you speak another language, what are the common practices for family names in your language? What did you learn from my learning? If any Cree speakers read this, can you tell me more or correct any misunderstandings I may have?

I did not make it to question words this week but my goal will be to work more on vocabulary including verbs, numbers and other basic foundational pieces.

Thanks for reading!


Project Change

After reading my colleagues posts as they venture along their learning journey’s, I feel that I have chosen a project that is “safe.” One in which I could easily learn the skill and see immediate results; one that required minimal “help” – I guess that speaks to my quiet, independent nature. Like many others in … Continue reading Project Change

Blogging about Blogs

So I have been spending some time plotting the implementation of my major project. I started by looking at my goals and then seeing what tools I have available through the software on my school computers. We have access to laptops, desktops, and iPads and, in looking at the programs installed, I have access to various web browsers and Zoom to help my students contact experts. I have also found an expert. I still need to organize and arrange but, at a meeting I attended as Career Counsellor, an anthropology professor stated he would love to talk to high school students. I want to figure out more of a timeline before I contact him about “Zoom”-ing into our class but I hope to arrange a conversation.

via Zoom

I have also started to set up blog accounts. I decided to go with Edublogs as it is based on WordPress but allows me to approve all comments, at least until my students get the hang of things. I have also sent home a parent information letter explaining how I will be using blogs in the classroom. I can’t wait until I can start setting up the blogs!


It’s All Fun and Games Until You Start Cutting…

Some shirts laid out for my blanket design!

This week was not what I anticipated.  I was going to FINALLY start my real project- the blanket.  However, things did not go how I planned and this is the first time I questioned both my sanity and ambition for starting this HUGE project!  Cutting.  Not as easy or straight forward as I thought.  I’ve had a lifetime of practicing cutting paper and really, how hard could measuring and cutting out a few t-shirts be?  HARD. REAL HARD.  Mostly it’s the process that’s difficult  It’s time consuming, tedious, and requires a lot of patience which as previously stated, I do not have much of.

My week consisted of some more research as to what step to really take next which all began after a conversation with my grandma at Thanksgiving dinner. She told me I could borrow her tools for my little adventure which I was grateful for, but then I got confused.  Don’t I have scissors?  What else do I need?  Turns out, a lot!  A lot included a very fancy cutter called a rotary cutter, measuring boards and this material called interfacing.

The Materials (Courtesy  of Grandma)

Welp, to Google I go!  I had to do some research about this new information.  Turns out the rotary cutter would actually make life much easier as I am left-handed and struggle significantly with scissors.  It makes incredibly precise cuts and I realized I would need to cut to specific dimensions, which I chose as 14 inches by 14 inches for simplicity but also sizing.  Squares are nicer to work with, and the large squares both fit all my t-shirt designs and gives me more room for error (which at this point is very probable).  So the measuring boards were to be used to lay out the t-shirts and to cut on, and to make sure the rotary cutter had a straight line to follow!  Simple so far, but then there was this mysterious stuff called interfacing.  Apparently, it restricts stretching of material which is necessary for a t-shirt blanket as t-shirts are quite stretchy so this is supposed to make things easier for me. Supposed to being the key word.  You have to iron this stuff onto the back of the t-shirt before you can sew it all together.  So, I have to cut and iron on this interfacing to the middle of my design of my t-shirt without actually looking at the design.  Urg.

The first cut is the hardest…

This was the beginning of a long night.  Cutting the interfacing was simple, (just 14″x14″ squares) but placing them in the middle of the design was much more difficult.  It took a lot of patience and meticulous placement.  Then came the actual cutting of the t-shirts of which there are 30…

The following two hours consisted of cutting the interfacing, ironing it onto the back of the shirt, measuring a perfect square on the front of the shirt, and then cutting the shirt out on the cutting board.  I got 8 shirts cut to my dismay.  The first one was shaky and not as straight as it should have been, and I also learned you can’t take shortcuts and cut more than one at a time…(see pictures below). I didn’t expect this part of the process to take such a long time, so I have a lot more cutting to do this week!  And then there is the placement of the shirts to do as well.  This process is going to take a lot longer than anticipated!!  More to come!


Click to view slideshow.


Let’s Get This Show on the Road.

Hello friends,

I’m moving ahead with my learning project and so far I have 17/24 permission slips back (here it is again if you want to peek it :University Class Media Release Note) meaning I have 17/24 kiddos ready to take over our Facebook page as Jr. Author’s and Photographer’s.  😀

Before we officially kick off the project I wanted to go over internet and computer safety with the whole class so we all were on the same page as far as how we need to conduct ourselves online!  I knew my class had varying degrees of experiences online so I was already aware that some would know exactly what I meant, and some wouldn’t have the slightest!  The varying degree of involvement with the online world happens at this age for many reasons – 1) kids sometimes just don’t have a lot of access to computers at home either because they don’t have the technology for money or personal beliefs, or their families limit the hours of screen time, 2) kid’s have only ever had access to sites that are strictly monitored and selected for them making it unnecessary to learn safety guidelines or 3) some are just online all the time with no guidelines or rules and just do as they please without regard for safety…therefore never learning them.  We started with a “Show what you know” on the board – I asked for help answering the following question..


Some of the responses were : “Not sharing information about yourself”, “Asking permission”, “Not going on things you don’t know”, “Being safe”, “Don’t talk to strangers”.  Those are kids who have spent time online and have even a little bit of an idea of what it means to be safe on a computer.  Some other responses were, “Hold the computer with two hands”, “Don’t run and hold a computer”, “Don’t colour on the computer screen because then you won’t be able to see what you’re doing”, “Shut the computer down properly”.  The children who provided those answers were still stuck in the “Computer safety” phase and had a harder time wrapping their head around the idea that we need are taking about safety once we are logged into our computers.  After this discussion we watched a video from the American website, Brainpop Jr. that specializes in short educational videos for kids on a variety of subject matter.  Brainpop uses fun, funny characters to explain concepts to kids that are sometimes hard to otherwise and they do so in an engaging and exciting way.  Brainpop Jr. is geared for primary, but there is also a Brainpop site geared towards middle years as well.  The yearly subscription is around $225 CAD but in my opinion, worth every cent.  With each video there are quizzes, activities, word work, art activities, etc.  The video I linked below is the one I showed my class around Learning About Internet Safety.  This video is among the free resources you can access on their site – check it out!

Once the video wrapped up, we spoke a little more about the idea together and then set off to create posters to advertise to others how we can be safe online!  Below are a few examples of the poster’s my little’s are working on:

Once we complete the posters I plan to shoot a short video of the kid’s sharing their ideas – keep your eyes peeled for that! 🙂


All in all, I’m excited at how this project is shaping up!  My kid’s are looking forward to it and feel like they had a hand in creating it which I think is so important in education.

Thanks again for reading,

Dani ❤

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all”



Check In #2 You too Can Search YouTube for “How to Use YouTube.” Another Thesis Title Bites the Dust.

Well here I am again. Included in this post is the very first video I have ever uploaded. I wanted to include some different types of media into my blog, so here it is in all its glory. In the interest of full transparency this process has been a bit terrifying, but not for the reasons I originally suspected. Prior to this class I really hadn’t had much to do with social media. I’ve have used Facebook for a number of years but mostly as a third party observer ( as I type this I am suddenly acutely aware of how creepy that sounds). What I mean to say is apart from a status update every few months and the odd hilarious cat video, I haven’t been an active participant within the realm of social media ( there that feels better!).

So to move from being a social media neophyte to recording videos of myself making a record of my fitness goals has been a very new process for me. I’m learning some interesting things about myself. The following is a list of observations I have made since my last check in:

  1. I think I can finally confirm that I am in fact an introvert. Yes, it is true. Every week I sit down to write on this blog and feel a strangely invigorated and terrified at the same time. I guess this is kind of like keeping a journal. On the internet. Where everyone can see it. If you listen carefully you can hear the muffled screams of my inner introvert. At the same time this is a powerful means of connecting with my classmates and colleagues. I would be very interested to hear what other people’s experience has been.
  2.  I’m learning a lot. In truth, it hasn’t been what I expected. Allow me to explain. Have you ever tried to start a YouTube account, then realized you had no idea what you were doing and then found yourself searching YouTube for ” how to use YouTube?” Yes, it turns out I am that guy. At any rate I found out all that I needed to know. I suppose this is what happens when an observer of social media takes the first steps toward becoming an active participant. I look forward to learning more about this process.
  3. The things I’m learning have less to do with diet and fitness and more to do with how to incorporate these things into my life. I’m learning that the internet is a great provider of ” what to do” to be healthier. It is up to me to determine ” how” best to do it. I hope this makes sense. In a way this is not unlike what I have written in this blog about principles of use of social media for nursing students. I a very real way I am having to sift through online information and determine ( in my case about health and fitness) determine what meets my needs and how to incorporate  into my own life. Whoa. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see that one coming.
  4. Lastly, I will jot something down about progress. As mentioned in the video I am down 10 lbs. For my next entry, I’m going to attempt to record a snippet of one of the workouts I’m doing and talk a bit more about some of the tools and resources I have found helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope your projects are going well and I look forward to reading about them!

Sewing… Where Do I Start?

I might be getting ahead of myself, but my goal to learn to sew has morphed into a desire to sew a “simple” quilt.  Is there such a thing? I will find out…

Prior to beginning my journey of creating a quilt for my little one, I need to determine, where to start?  I have the sewing machine, and I am ready to plug it in and turn it on.  So I googled “steps for learning to sew” and The Spruce provided me with a basic to do list for getting going.  Then upon further search, I realized that prior to turning on the machine, I should build my ‘tool kit’.  Simply Modern Mom offered a great starter list for a sewing kit.  So, I could order these online in the spirit of online learning, but I will likely head to Walmart this week, since it is on the way to work, and I need to get going on this project!


My next step was to contact a friend of mine, Nicole, who actually owns an online quilt shop (lucky me!).  Country Rose Quilting is the name of the shop that I plan to support when purchasing my material and quilting specific supplies.  In keeping with social media and online learning, this will be a great way to #supportlocal.

So that is where I am at, I have about 49 hours of work and a long to-do list before completing this project, but I am getting excited!  Prior to my next post, I also plan to review the below video about threading my sewing machine along with finding some resources for how to sew a simple stitch (if that’s what it is called, I will find out) and piece together some scrap material as a practice run!  Lastly, I will have to learn how to create a YouTube video to document my project and progress.  The irony of ‘YouTubing’ a ‘How To Create a YouTube’ video makes me smile.  Wish me luck!


Thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes

I decided to randomly explore some videos and blog posts on hand lettering to have a better idea of the open resources available on the topic.

Image by Child at Heart

The huge majority of the videos and blog posts on how to learn hand lettering mentioned that we must make downstrokes thick and upstrokes thin. This is ridiculous, I thought. I can make the strokes as thick or thin as I want!

Not convinced of the veracity of this information, I decided to contact one of the lettering designers who, in my opinion, makes the most beautiful hand lettering strokes. Even though Argoos Letters’ hand lettering upstrokes are thinner than his downstrokes, his hand lettering style is unique and gorgeous!

Screenshot 2017-10-13 17.58.02.png
Beautiful example of Argoos Letters’ hand lettering style

And his Instagram feed is carefully designed:


This was his advice on how to learn hand lettering:

Argoos Letters‘ answer to my message “Hi, I am new to hand lettering. What practice sheets, tutorials, and websites/Instagram accounts do you recommend?”

Indeed, Argoos Letters, I do not want to “‘clone’ somebody else’s handwriting”. Bingo! Now I know what to do: avoid practice sheets and learn how hand lettering works.

And how hand lettering works?

Well, there are basic strokes that must be learned: downstrokes, upstrokes, c-strokes, and o-strokes. Elizabeth, from the Destination Decoration YouTube channel, explains how to make these strokes:

Jennifer Coyle also explains the basic strokes but uses technical vocabulary:

I love watching this short Instagram video showing basic upstrokes and downstrokes:

If the video above does not work on your screen, click here.

Great lessons! Now it is my turn. I decided to start with brush lettering, so I tried all the brushes I had at home to identify my favourite:


I had more control of the strokes with the small Crayola marker, but I really enjoyed the smooth feeling of the Winsor & Newton brush (green) on the paper.

I was not very patient that day for making upstrokes and downstrokes, and I found extremely hard to do c-strokes and o-strokes. I was disappointed. For some reason, I thought hand lettering was going to be the easiest and funniest part of my day. It wasn’t! Hand lettering is hard!

Screenshot 2017-10-13 18.41.59.png
I expressed my disappointment through this “artwork”

I had some fun, though, with the letters “l” and “u”, as you can see here:

If the video above does not work on your screen, click here.

Lessons of the day:

  • Practice makes perfect; there is no short way.
  • I need to be more patient; there is no need to rush.
  • I want to find a way to make the process of learning hand lettering less arduous.

Follow my hand lettering practice on Instagram!

Filed under: Learning Project

Learn Cree: The Foundations

Hello classmates,

As you have seen in my previous post and on my twitter feed, I have decided to learn Cree for my ECI 831 Learning Project. This post is going to be about my learning process so far. I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take, the things that I have learned, and what steps I plan to take to further my learning.

First of all, I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take to learn Cree. As mentioned, I have acquired a second language before (Spanish). I began learning Spanish in high school and then continued studying in University. It was an academic approach to learning the language. By that, I mean that I studied in a textbook before I had an immersion experience. I found it helpful to have a base of the language before I engaged in an immersion experience. As this is the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) approach that I am most familiar with, I decided to take the same approach to learning Cree.

Before the actual language acquisition process began I wanted to become more familiar with the regions and origins of the Cree language. Like with many other languages, Cree has different regional dialects.

Cree Dialects

I took this screenshot from

 I like it because it provides a visual for the different dialects of Cree that are spoken different regions. My learning will focus on Plans Cree as that is the most prominent in our region in Saskatchewan.



After becoming more familiar with regional dialects, I began working on familiarizing myself with the letters and the sounds. The Online Cree Dictionary is one of the first places that I started to look for learning resources.

Check out my screencast for more information about The Online Cree dictionary here:

Once I became more familiar with some of the sounds and the vowels I began to look for resources on basic Cree words such as greetings and introductions. I met Bill Cook on Twitter. He is a Cree instructor at FNU.


Image via:

He sent me a link to his Quizlet.

This was the first time that I had the opportunity to interact with this technology. I must say that I enjoyed using the tool as a learner and I could see it being a great tool, in particular for learning a language. The Quizlet that I began with was the one for introductions.

I loved that I had the chance to hear the words. I know that pronunciation is going to be one of my biggest challenges so it was good to have the model.

So far, I have acquired the vocabulary for the following basic greetings and introductions:

Hello: Tānsi

My name is Colleen: Colleen nisthihkāson (Ni means “Me” and thihkāson means “to be called”)

What is your name?: tānsi kisithihkāson(Ki means “you” and then the root of thihkāson meaning “to be called”)

I know that this doesn’t seem like a lot but it has taken me time to get adjusted to the sounds, the roots of the words and the subject pronouns to be able to understand the words.

This YouTube video was where I learned the subject pronouns:


My goals for my next step in the learning process is to move to asking questions such as “what is your name?” and “where are you from?” I will have to figure out how the who/what/when/where/why questions are formed and then try to understand the structure of the sentences.

Also, I would like to expand my vocabulary. I am going to look for common words such as household items and family members to add to my vocabulary.

Wish me luck!