A Look Back at My Professional Learning Network

How have you contributed to the learning of others?

It’s hard to believe that a few short months ago my ECMP 355 class met for our first online class, using Zoom. This video application that was relatively new to me.  The first class was a basic overview of what the class would be about, what tools we were expected to use to help grow our PLN, and we even participated in a “mock” class chat on Twitter using the #ecmpchat.

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The idea of a Twitter chat was not new to me.  During internship I had my class participate in a #myclasschat led by Miss Smith’s internship class at Pilot Butte.  However, before beginning ECMP 355, my participation in these types of chats have been limited and few and far between.  I was wondering why this was the case and I think the reason was my own self-doubt.  I did not credit myself enough to actively engage in these chats.  However, I have learned that this isn’t the case at all.  I have learned that Twitter chats are relatively safe spaces to share ideas, listen to others, and critically think about important concepts in a collaborative manner. One regret I have is not having the chance to participate in a #saskedchat. These chats take place on Thursday nights. The problem is that I had volleyball this semester on Thursday nights during the time these chats took place.  However, I did get the opportunity to participate in Twitter chats that S.T.A.R.S (Student Teachers Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society) faciliated.  Take a look below at an example of the #STARSchat where I engage with my friend and colleague, Meagan Dobson on the importance of creating an inclusive classroom, but the reality of feeling unprepared.

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The first time I remember creating a Twitter account for the purpose of expanding my PLN was in my second year of university for an education class.  If I am being honest, I rarely utilized this account. The only time I engaged with Twitter was when I was prompted to do so by my professor.  Skip ahead one year and I found that I was beginning to see the benefits of Twitter during my pre-internship year.  Although at this time I was not interacting to the extent that I had hoped on Twitter, I was able to learn from other educators using Twitter, interact with my colleagues, and use my account as a platform to share the work I was doing in my pre-internship. Now, as I am finishing up my final year of my education degree, I can see that ECMP 355 has encouraged me to be an active member of Twitter. Certainly I can continue to work on expanding my PLN through the means of Twitter. I would argue that every educator should have this same goal whether you have a network of five or five hundred.  The moment we stop working on our PLN is the moment we stop growing and learning as educators.  As a result we become stale for lack of a better word.  However, as I mentioned above, this class has allowed me to grow my PLN through Twitter by contributing not only to others in ECMP 355 and ECMP 455, but also by contributing to learning networks outside of this class.  Take a look below at a summary of some of the times I was able to contribute to the learning and growth of others.  It might be something as simple as a re-tweet, sharing an article, or responding to questions, blog posts, etc.

The other two areas where we were encouraged to contribute to our online community of learning were through blogging and Google Plus.  I was a lot more active on blogging than I was on the Google Plus community.  I struggled with this at the beginning of the course because I felt I was neglecting my responsibility to engage on Google Plus.  This is not to say that I never used Google Plus. I used the Google Plus community to respond to classmate’s questions or prompts.  Here is an example of me responding to Shaylane on a video she posted to the Google Plus community.

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However, my choice to engage more with my blog and the blogs of my classmates was a personal choice as much as it was a growing experience. In my first blog in ECMP 355, Why Blog? I shared my personal feelings with my own discomfort of blogging.

“To be completely honest, blogging is not something that comes natural for me. At times I find it uncomfortable to share my experiences with others on the Internet.  I am not one who posts or shares a lot on social media.  I am the type of person that would rather sit and have a cup of coffee with a friend to hear about their latest adventure or simply catch up as opposed to read it off the screen.  Therefore, I was a little skeptical of having to fire up my blog again for ECMP 355.”

I will admit that through ECMP 355, blogging is something I started to look forward to on a weekly basis.  It became a time when I could sit down and disconnect myself from everything else going on in my life and reflect on something that was meaningful, authentic, and important.  I thought less about what people might critique about my posts, and more about my personal feelings, emotions, connections; it became an outlet for me to speak in a relatively safe space, and a space where I could begin to unpack some significant issues alongside my classmates.  When I look back, some blog posts that I wrote that really mean a lot to me personally include the following.

I Dare You to Disconnect

What is Your Word?

Are Kids Losing Their Childhood?

The topics of my posts, whether chosen or given a prompt, to blog about allowed me to think critically.  I always appreciated seeing when people commented on my blog.  It means a lot to know someone is taking the time to read something you have put a lot of thought into.  Trust me, my blog posts were never something that were whipped together.  Although ideally that would have saved a lot of time, I always found I was reconstructing, editing, revising, and removing things from my posts before publishing.  Even when I did hit publish, I was never one hundred percent satisfied. However, I was able to take a lot away from the comments on my blog and I always made an effort to respond to those that took the time to leave a reply. Below are a few interactions that took place on my blog.

For me, reading other blog posts of classmates was equally important as writing my own.  It is amazing to think that a group of pre-service teachers, soon to be entering the workforce, are blogging about such meaningful and critical issues.  The fact these conversations are happening is an important step.  Blogging is more than just writing a post and closing the laptop.  Blogging involves being an actively engaged and valued member of an online community.  By reading other posts, commenting, and interacting with others in the class, I was able to challenge my own ways of thinking, learn new perspectives, and expand my knowledge.  Although I was diligent in reading and writing on numerous blog posts throughout the semester, I found that there were a few individuals in the class that became very valuable members of my PLN.

Gillian’s posts always inspired me to think beyond the issue with a deeper lens. Sometimes her posts challenged my ways of thinking. Throughout the semester, I noticed my blogs were often influenced by her thoughts, or adversely, I often found myself reading her posts after writing mine and realizing there was so much I did not consider.

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Larissa’s blog and comments always reassured me that I was writing posts that were somewhat worthy of reading.  I found comfort in reading her posts and was able to relate to a lot of the things she was writing about.

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Andrew’s post were deeply layered with critical thinking, humour, and maybe most important of all, the duel perspective of teacher and father.  He allowed me to view concepts with a double lens, one of which I was not able to provide for myself as I have no experience being a parent.

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Lastly, Ashton’s blog had a sense of easiness to them.  She was able to write in a way that spoke directly to her intent behind the post.  I especially appreciated her learning project posts because they gave me a sense of direction in my own project.

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It is a shock to me, but I found a sense of place commenting and interacting with other blogs.  By that, I mean that blogging created a unique network, where I felt comfortable taking part in valuable dialogue with others. Below is a couple more examples of interactions I made in order to help contribute to the learning of others and myself.

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As I sit here reflecting on my work in this class and consider how I have come to appreciate the art of blogging I cannot help but laugh. Thinking back to the beginning of this course, we discussed what makes a good blog post.  We talked about creating a catchy title, sharing personal insight, and not making posts too lengthy.  Ironically enough, this final blog post for ECMP 355 does not fit all the criteria. But as ironic as it may be, it is not the length of this final blog post that I want to emphasize. Instead I want to focus on my accomplishments.  I think this post speaks for itself.  This class, the platform given to create weekly blogs, and the contributions I made to the learning of others gave me the encouragement I needed to begin to create an online space to expand my digital identity as I move forward and continue to grow my PLN as an educator.

Here is a brief summary log of my PLN interactions.

Cheers ECMP 355.

My Learning Project Summary: A Personal Reflection

A PERSONAL JOURNEY…

My major learning project is coming to a close and I have really been reflecting on what I have accomplished over the last few months. When I think back to the beginning of this project I remember feeling nervous to begin. I also remember feeling a little bit embarrassed to tell people about my learning project. Was I embarrassed because I thought I would fail? Was I embarrassed because I did not know how to utilize a gym? Was I embarrassed because I felt vulnerable to let others see my journey? I was experiencing all of these feelings.

Vulnerability Quote

As uncomfortable as I was at times to share this personal learning project, I am thankful that I stuck with it. This journey became so much more than a simple learning project. As much as it was a journey of learning to use the gym and lead a healthier lifestyle, it also became a journey of self-empowerment. I feel more confident and comfortable. I no longer walk into a gym and lack confidence or feel like people are judging me. Throughout this learning project, I have never claimed to be a fitness expert. I am actually the farthest thing from it. I still have a lot of goals at the gym, a lot of learning to still be had, and a lot of growth that I still hope to see. This major learning project was the platform that I needed to begin this journey. It is not something that I plan to stop, but instead, it is a lifelong journey.

I started to think about the progress that I made. Physically, I notice that I feel better. Maintaining regular physical activity at the gym has improved my sleeping habits, I feel more energized, and I although not noticeable to others, I have gained some (not a lot) muscle mass. However, the biggest growth might have been mentally. Mentally, I have gained confidence, I became more knowledgeable about what I am doing at the gym, and I feel a sense of calmness. Although my physical transformation is not noticeable to others, my main goal was not to gain three inches on my arms or develop a six-pack. Instead, my goal was to gain confidence and feel comfortable using the gym in order to develop a healthier lifestyle. With saying that, I think it can be discouraging when we do not see results. At times, I felt this throughout my project. Realistically, I did not expect to see a huge physical transformation after a few months. This article was extremely important for me to read as I move forward in my journey. The article discusses how living a physical lifestyle is only a part of seeing a physical transformation. I know one area that I need to improve on is my nutrition. This is an area where I feel I lack knowledge and need to further educate myself.  My learning project has allowed me to see this as one of my weaknesses. However, it has also made it possible for me to be one step closer to making this change.

TAKING A LOOK BACK…

I accomplished a lot of things during this major learning project. Here is a summary of the exercises that I learned more about.

  • Cardio Exercises (treadmill, spin bike, elyptical, HIIT)
  • Free Weight Exercises
  • Lower Body Exercises
  • Upper Body Exercises
  • Circuit Training
  • Full Body Workout

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As well, I learned a fair amount through the different online articles that I read throughout this project. I think the resource I used the most throughout this project was Men’s Fitness. I found that Men’s Fitness was a great resource for finding various beginner exercise programs, it was a great resource for motivational pieces, and it was a great resource for quick tips. The Huffington Post was also an important resource throughout my learning project. I appreciated the articles related to fitness and health because they were quick reads, often wrote in numbered tips, and shed light on some of the fears I was facing throughout this journey.

You may have noticed that I kept referring to my major learning project as a journey. I think this is significant because it highlights that there is no end to this project. This was a project that pushed me outside of my comfort zone to gain the confidence to learn about the gym. How do I make the gym a part of my daily routine? How do I learn what works for me? These are questions that I have wanted to answer for years and this learning project was the encouragement that I needed. So, this is not the end of my learning. This is merely the beginning. This is a journey, and an important journey, that I aspire to continue.

Journey Quote

Final Tip of the Week: Don’t be afraid of to try something outside of your comfort zone. It can be the change that makes a significant difference in your life.

A Look into the Digital Playground with Carol Todd

Unfortunately I was unable to attend our live broadcast of ECMP 355 on Wednesday evening, but thanks to the power of technology, I was able to watch the recording of the class this weekend. Our prompt for our blog this week was fairly open ended. We were asked to respond to our guest presenter, Carol Todd. One would think that this would be easy. Carol Todd is the mother of Amanda Todd. For those of you who have not seen the 5th Estate documentary, The Sextortion of Amanda Todd, I highly recommend watching it. As I watched Carol Todd speak to the idea of digital citizenship, relating it to her daughter’s own experience, I was overwhelmed with her strength, her power, and her resilience. She was able to speak to her daughter’s legacy in a way that was uplifting. A way that shone light on what others can do to educate about digital citizenship, how to constructively use technology, and to think about how our actions can reflect who we are as human beings. But as I try to unpack everything that Todd shared with my class, I sit here unable to refine my thoughts.

I took the advice of my professor, Katia Hildebrandt, and watched the 5th Estate documentary, Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man in the Shadows. If you have any background with Amanda Todd’s story, this documentary follows the investigation of her online stalker. The disturbing part of this short, forty-minute documentary is the lack of commitment to finding this online predator. Could he have been stopped before Amanda Todd took her life? Watching this documentary helped me connect to some of the things Carol Todd spoke to our class about, mainly the steps that need to be taken by parents and educators in the technology literate world kids have come to know and love.

The Digital Playground

Something that Carol Todd spoke to our class about was this idea of the digital playground. This analogy she used was so effective because she was able to relate the world of yesterday to the world of today so to speak. She said that when her kids were growing up and going to an outdoor playground, she would take the time to make sure the park was safe. This means she would check the playground for broken glass, unsafe equipment, and document the other people using the playground. In the same way, parents need to take the time to check the so-called digital playgrounds that their kids are using. This means understanding the technology kids are using and teaching kids how to use them. Todd has an effective way of explaining this in her words below.

“Would you ever not teach your kids about driving a car when they are sixteen. As parents would we just hand over the keys and say ‘here you go, drive it, you’re sixteen now. We wouldn’t. So then why do we hand over cellphones and tablets without teaching them how to use it?’’

Digital Playground

via https://www.google.ca/search?q=Children+online&espv=2&biw=1440&bih=736 &source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj M2v3kk_PLAhVFsoMKHcEdDQoQ_AUIBigB#im grc=TBtKCZJ1qVA8NM%3A

The problem is that not all parents see technology in the same way as they view their child driving a car. Why is that? Is it because they do not understand the dangers of technology? Is it because they don’t want to take the time to teach their kids about technology? Maybe it is simply that they did not grow up with the same access to technology as their children so they are unaware of the measures that need to be taken. Whatever the reason may be, parents need to understand the risks of the digital playground and take the time to educate themselves and their children. Technology is not going away. It is a part of the world that kids will grow up in. The question that everyone needs to answer is how are ways of parenting and teaching going to shift to meet the needs of technology. If there isn’t a change, the story of Amanda Todd is going to become an all too familiar one.

A Week in the Life at the Gym

What works for me? This is something I have been thinking a lot about throughout my learning project. I have tried exercises at the gym that I really liked and workouts that just did not work for me. For example, I have come to realize that I am not a huge fan of machines. There are certain machines that I now use on a weekly basis, but I never spend an entire session at the gym using only machines. In general, I find that machines do not maximize my workouts and my goal every time I go to the gym is to use the time I spend there both effectively and efficiently.

So, what works for me? A question I have been trying to answer through learning how I can use the gym. Here is a 4 Week Full Body Workout for Beginners that I am interested in trying in the future. I am always skeptical of the workouts I find online, but this project has taught me to view online sources with a critical lens. Both Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness have become great online resources for me throughout this project. Of course, even with these two sites, I am critical of what I use. Given the time frame of this project and everything I have learned, I decided to focus this week on a total body workout that I created using the exercises I have learned thus far. One of my goals for this project was to be able to learn the foundations of a variety of exercises that targeted different muscle groups.  I had weeks where I focused on particular muscle groups such as the upper body and lower body. I also had weeks where I looked at particular types of exercises such as cardio and circuit training. I am not claiming, by any means, that I am some fitness trainer. Instead, the week at the gym that I created below is what I found worked for my lifestyle and me.

Take a look at what my week looked like.

Monday

  • 30 minute Cardio (Treadmill)

Tuesday

  • Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

  • Core Circuit

Wednesday

  • Circuit Training (lower body, upper body, high intensity intervals)

Thursday

  • Rest Day

Friday

  • 30 Minute Cardio (Spin)

Saturday

  • Rest Day

Sunday

  • Circuit Training (lower body, upper body, high intensity intervals)

You might have noticed that I am partial to circuit training. The reasons I like circuit training are because I can focus on more than one target area, I can continually change up the exercises I am doing, and it keeps me moving. I dislike going to the gym and feeling like I walked around for the majority of the time. I would rather go for thirty minutes to an hour and work hard  as opposed to spending over an hour feeling like I  wasted time walking around. I have learned that I like going to the gym with a plan. I rely on Men’s Fitness and YouTube videos to decide what exercises to include in my circuits for the day. This way I can decide what area I want to focus on, but still have direction and instructions for the particular exercises.

Tip of the Week: You do not have to be an expert to be your own coach! Use technology and other resources for direction, but make your own plan. It keeps you motivated and on task!

The Day I Became a Coder

Today I became a coder, or so I like to think. At the least, I began to learn the basics of coding. Coding is something that I have been hearing a lot about in the so-called education world. With a simple Google Search you can find a variety of resources to assist with coding in the classroom. This edutopia website provides five different articles that can help a teacher introduce the world of coding in their classroom. A good friend and colleague of mine, Mr. David Brown, is an advocate for the benefits of teaching students code in the classroom. I’ve been fortunate enough to have conversations with David about this topic, as well as attend his session at #TreatyEdCamp in the fall where he used code to develop an entire Mine Craft world based on Batoche. However, the idea of coding in the classroom has always left me feeling uncomfortable because I would never consider myself a coder. Well, that is until today.Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 4.50.00 PM

Today I participated in my first Hour of Code. I went in knowing nothing about this program besides seeing the odd tweet about classrooms taking part in the Hour of Code. I chose to do the Classic Maze tutorial with Mark Zuckerberg and Angry Birds. The tutorial begins with a an intriguing video that explains the benefits of learning to code. The Hour of Code I participated in included 20 puzzles. I was frustrated at the beginning because if I wanted the bird to move three times I had to drag and click three “move forward” blocks and it was time consuming. However, moving into the second stage of the game, I was taught how to repeat an action. This made the process run quicker and more effectively. I would also say that this is the benefit of the Hour of Code program. It teaches the skills in a progressive way that makes it easy for teachers and students to learn and follow. However, it does it in a way that still makes you have to think. Yes, I had a few puzzles that took me a few times to figure out.

STAGE 1: Below is the first few puzzles that I completed. The basic skills learned in these puzzles is how to move the bird forward, left, and right.

STAGE 2: As I mentioned above, I then was able to learn how to repeat a code. This way I did not have to drag five “move forward” tiles over. Instead, you can adjust the number of of times you want the code repeated.

STAGE 3: The levels continued with teaching me how to use the repeat mode until hitting a certain barrier.  This was the stage where I had some difficulties. The benefit was that is caused me to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to move forward.

Stage 4: This was the final stage of my Hour of Code where you can see below how a level of difficulty was added to the coding problems. In the end I was able to successfully complete twenty puzzles.

I was amazed that I was able to complete the Hour of Code. But I couldn’t help but wonder of I was actually learning code. During the puzzles I realized you could translate the moves I was making into JavaScript, the common form that code is written in (see below).

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As I reflected on my experience with Hour of Code. I also begin to ask myself why coding would be beneficial to teach in the classroom? The resources are accessible for teachers to use in their classroom. The best part is that teachers can learn alongside their students. In the same way I just completed the first stage of Hour of Code. But why is it important to teach? I reached out on Twitter and more specifically, to my friend, David, to understand his perspective.

So what did I learn? Maybe most important of all I learned that you should not limit yourself as a teacher. I always liked the idea of using Code in my classroom, but was held back due to my lack of knowledge. However, after participating in my own Hour of Code, I learned that I do not need to know everything about coding. Instead, I need to take the time to learn with the students. I need to remind myself that students can teach me as much as I can teach them. So I encourage all teachers to give the Hour of Code a try and stop limiting yourself based on your perceived lack of knowledge.

What Does Success Look Like?

Have you ever asked a teacher how they feel about assessment? If you have, I am sure this question has been met with frustration, hesitation, or possibly even confusion.  I would be shocked if the reply to this question was that they love assessment. Whether a teacher has been in the profession for one year or thirty years, assessment never seems to get any easier.   As time-consuming as assessment can be, the problem really seems to be how damaging labeling a student can be.  Besides, what does assessment truly tell us about a student? Is it measuring their growth? Is it reflecting their socio-economic background?  How can a teacher authentically assess each and every student?  Assessment is something I have always struggled to understand and I am beginning to think that it will be something I struggle to understand throughout my entire profession.

The reason I chose to write about assessment and its connection to success this week is because it is something I appreciate talking about with others in the profession.  During internship I would get so tied up with the idea of assessment. Am I being too hard on the students? Is teacher bias playing a role in my assessments? Are my assessments meaningful and authentic? What are my goals with this assessment? These were all questions that would constantly be on my mind.  Then I remembered a video that was surfacing the Internet at the beginning of my internship.

This video was just what I needed to hear as I was embarking on what seemed to be the most valuable semester of my university degree.  At the end of the day, a grade on a piece of paper is nothing compared to the relationships that I was able to build with my students. Students need their teacher to believe in them, to not allow them to give up, and to be there for them every single day.  What is truly more important? That students are able to memorize and regurgitate facts or that students learn to overcome adversity, build good work ethic, establish values, and become a respected member of society?  If we are only teaching students that success is a grade on an assignment are we really reaching all of our students?

I often find myself having similar discussions with one of my good friends and colleagues, Mr. Mike Schienbien. I remember reading his blog post, The Student Achievement Mountain: Do we celebrate the peak or the steps that get us there? this past summer.  Something that Mike writes about in his post is the fact that success is going to look different for everyone, but “success=success, regardless of how it may look. All success deserves to be celebrated.” Something that Mike demonstrates well is the power of building relationships with students and how it can result in a healthy learning environment.

It got me thinking about this Ted Talk by Rita Pierson, Every Kid Needs  a Champion.  This may be one of my favourite educational Ted Talks. No matter how many times I watch it, I get fired up. I love how passionate she is about helping students recognize their strengths and successes. When talking about handing back a math test to a student who received an “F” and putting a happy face at the top of the page, she explains “minus eighteen sucks all the life out of you. Plus two says I ain’t all bad!”  Something as simple as thinking changing the way you think can make all the difference.

So, what is the real purpose of assessment? In a Maclean’s article back in 2007, they published an article titled, Do Grades Really Matter? The basis of this article is talking about the connection between grades in schools and success later in life. More specifically that high grades don’t automatically count for successes in life. Sometimes a high grade only means that a student has “figured out the system.” How do we change the system so all students feel the success?  So, in conclusion what should our main concern be as teachers? Should we be concerned with making sure every student makes the honour role? Sure, it would be nice, but that shouldn’t be the definition of success. We have to be able to form genuine and caring human relationships in order to build success so that students can see their own potential not only in the classroom, but also in life.  As Rita says, “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

How are you going to make sure your students can see their success?

“What is Your Word?”

Audience members sat in a packed auditorium to await Justice Murray Sinclair’s speech at the University of Regina.  Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, delivered an impactful and thought-provoking lecture.  His words were moving and profound because of the weight of his message.  If you were unable to attend the lecture or watch the live stream, you could have seen some of the words Sinclair had to share on Twitter.  I have included a few of the tweets from individuals I follow on Twitter below.

Sinclair’s word resonated for me as an educator for a number of reasons.  Growing up in a small town, I was never exposed to a lot of culture throughout my schooling.  However, I distinctly remember a few of my teachers focusing on First Nations culture, including Treaty Education.  Having no representation of First Nations peoples in my school’s population, I think it was essential that as a student, I was exposed to these learnings.  I think it is a common misconception that rural schools, where there is arguably less multiculturalism in the classrooms, gain little to no exposure to multicultural teaching.  However, the issue is not whether you attend school in an urban or rural setting.  Instead, the issue is whether or not teachers take the time to educate themselves and access outside resources, such as elders, that can help assist with the learning.  I believe as an educator, we have to be willing to find authentic and meaningful learning experiences so student are not afraid to share their voices.  Something that I have always carried forward with me that I learned from my professor, Sean Lessard, is that we cannot be afraid to disrupt the narratives.  These words have influenced me in pre-internship and internship and will continue to influence me in my future as a teacher.  I actually have to credit the Education program at the University of Regina for providing meaningful opportunities, such as Sinclair’s lecture, to learn about reconciliation and the importance of Treaty Education.

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One idea that resonated with me during Sinclair’s speech was the fact that reconciliation involves both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal peoples.  This begins through conversations in order to “better understand one another.”  As a teacher, I think this includes continuing to educate myself in order to have these conversations with students.

Something that Horizon School Division has done is created a video to send the message that “We Are All Treaty People.”  Claire Kreuger, a teacher who advocates for Treaty Education, bases her first project of the year as a response to Horizon School Division’s video.  The idea is simple, the conversation that takes place as a result is significant.

Sinclair’s lecture further reinforced my belief to continue to learn and teach Treaty Education and First Nation culture to work towards reconciliation.  He mentioned that we must help students answer these four important questions about identity:

“Where do I come from?”

“Where am I going?”

“Why am I here?”

“Who am I?”

As an educator, I believe we have the responsibility to make all students feel included and acknowledged.  It is so important that as educators we teach about First Nations and Treaties in the classroom.  Even though, as Sinclair mentioned, it can often be met with resistance with parents at home.  Why? I think it stems from the fact that they were never taught.  They don’t understand that residential schools still have lasting impacts, they don’t understand the history of First Nations colonization; the assimilation and segregation that took place, and they don’t understand the systemic racism as a result of Canada’s history.  I recently had a discussion with my boss at my job about the comments a member was making about the recent tragedy that took place at LaLoche.  I disagreed with the comments he was making about the events that took place, about reserves, and about First Nations people in general.  I wanted nothing more than to argue with the member, but I reminded myself that I needed to act professionally.  All I could do was inform the member I disagreed with his perspective and politely suggested he educate himself further on the matter before making such comments.  The problem is that these ignorant ways of thinking stem from a lack of education.  The lack of education stems from a generation of First Nations people as being represented as inferior.

When Sinclair talked of residential schools, I was reminded of the Witness Blanket that began its tour at the University of Regina last year.  I had the privilege of bringing my pre-internship class to see this monumental project last.  Fortunately, the app allowed me to teach about the Witness Blanket again during internship last fall.  It’s these moments that allow me to feel empowered as a teacher.  Whether I am sitting with Joseph Naytowhow having a conversation about how I should teach about the residential schools and the Witness Blanket, participating in events like Treaty Ed Camp, or listening to Sinclair’s moving lecture, I always leave feeling empowered and refreshed about how I can help end the stigma and teach towards reconciliation.  If I have learned anything it is that the conversation must never end and we must all continue to learn.

The following is from a reflective piece I wrote last year after meeting with Emerging Elder, Joseph Naytowhow.

“A question, which I think many of my peers share, is how do we teach about First Nations history and culture when we were not part of the lived experiences?  Joseph’s insight on this was something that I was not expecting.  He said that he, too, shared the same fears when he began teaching because residential schools stripped him of his culture.  Therefore, he self educated himself about his own culture. We all have the responsibility to do the same.”  

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Students in pre-internship brainstorming their thoughts about residential schools. Later they created their own “Witness Blanket” on global issues. An idea inspired by Emerging Elder, Joseph Naytowhow.

I want to close in the same way Dr. Shauneen Pete did at Treaty Ed Camp.  She asked us to choose a word for the day.  She ended by saying, “remember your word and carry it forward.”  My word for today is empowered.  What is your word?

No Gym…No Problem

What happens when you don’t have access to a gym? Maybe you are away on a business trip or on a family vacation. In my case, I went home for the break to visit my family. As I mentioned at the start of my learning project, I grew up in a small town that does not have a gym. So how do I continue on with my learning project? Do I simply not work out for the week because I do not have a gym to visit? That would be the easy way out, but that is not reality. Reality is, there is a number of workouts that I can do right from my home. So, this week was all about working out from the comfort of my home!

The first thing I noticed when searching the web for at home or “no gym” workouts was that there is endless possibilities. I quickly learned that I needed to focus in on the areas I wanted to work on. Was I looking for cardio workouts or did I want to focus on strength exercises? Fortunately, my parents have a treadmill so I spent the first two days focusing on cardio. I used what I learned from the beginning of this project and did an endurance and interval training session on the treadmill. It was great for the start of the week where I was lacking motivation and needed a good sweat!

For the rest of the week I once again used Men’s Fitness to support my learning. This site provides “10 At Home Workouts To Build Muscle.” I think it is a misconception that you need weights to help build and strengthen muscles. That is false. Using your own bodyweight is actually an effective way of gaining muscle. I tried a few of the workouts found on this site and noticed that my muscles were sore the following days, which is interesting because my muscles have not been sore for the past couple of weeks. Maybe I have developed too much of a routine at the gym.


The fact of the matter is that there is not excuse not to workout. Whether you are at home or at the gym, you are still working towards creating a better and healthier YOU. It all comes down to preference. Some people enjoy the privacy of their own homes. Others need the gym for motivation and more variety. But all in all, one-way is not more RIGHT than the other. A workout is a workout no matter where you are. Do you prefer working out at home over the gym or vice versa? How do you change things up so you do not become too routinized?

Tip of the Week: Change it up! This week by changing up my routine, I felt different muscle groups being used. If you do the same thing over and over, you gain muscle recognition and your muscles do not have to work as much.

Why Plan for Physical Education?

Throughout my exploration of finding education blogs and other sources to follow, there is one in particular that I would like to share. The name of this website and blog is PhysicalEducator.com. You don’t need to plan for physical education right? WRONG! I think it is a huge misconception that people believe Physical Education is the easiest class to teach. They believe you can just have the students run around and play games. Sure, playing games is an essential component in Physical Education. However, the games need to be purposeful, have essential learning components, and be aligned with the curriculum. I am not a Physical Education major and during internship, I found it to be one of the most challenging subjects to plan for.

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The PhysicalEducator.com is a great resource for teachers that have to teach physical education. The site itself is organized into categories that can easily be followed. The reason I found this site to be so beneficial is because it provides resources that can be aligned to the Saskatchewan curriculum. For those of you that do not know, the physical education curriculum is organized into games described as: invasion, net and wall, striking and fielding, and target. This resource is categorized in the same way and provides lessons that are clearly explained and include illustrations for further comprehension. The blog itself provides ideas for backwards lesson planning, includes apps that the creators use in their own physical education classes, and is linked to Twitter (@phys_educator). I would highly suggest following this blog on your feedly and one of the creators @JoeyFeith.

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Joey Feith is one of the creators of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He posts vlogs frequently that you can find through his Twitter account. These vlogs follow his personal journey through teaching physical education and he talks about the professional developments that he attends. I would argue that this is a form of technological collaboration. Although you are not meeting face to face, you can take a lot away from Feith’s website and his vlogs.

If you are interested in making your physical education classes meaningful and innovative this is an essential resource is for you.

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Blogging 101: How to Follow Blogs

As a teacher, you have to constantly be finding ways to stay current. This can be difficult in a time where technology is constantly changing. This week in ECMP 355, we learned about tools that allow us to follow blogs and other sources. As an added bonus, we were introduced to Google Extensions, something I wish I were aware of when I began university.   I chose to use feedly to follow various educational blogs. Although I have only been following blogs for a few days, I have come to the conclusion that there is a number of ways you can find blogs to follow. My advice would be to start slow. Don’t just follow a blog or other source just for the sake of it. I would suggest that you take the time to scan the blog, read an article or two, and identify what the purpose of the blog is.

I began following blogs that were suggested by my ECMP 355 professor. Fortunately, I knew these blogs were valid and related to educational purposes. However, I did not just follow every single blog that was on the suggested lists. What would be the purpose of that? First I identified what my interests are and what I want to learn more about. I decided that it would benefit me the most to follow blogs that provide information about using technology in the classroom, blogs about differentiation and meeting the learning needs of all students, and blogs about everyday classroom practices (lesson planning, ideas, and specific subject content). I highly recommend taking the time to figure out what blogs will benefit you as opposed to aimlessly following a ton of blogs without knowing their purpose.

Besides following a few of the blogs suggested in my ECMP 355 class, I also discovered that feedly provides related feeds based on the ones I am already following. I found a few blogs that sparked my interest by using this feature. I also simply used Google to extend my search by using key words that pertained to the type of blogs and sources I was looking for. By doing so I was connected to ThePhysicalEducator.com, The Tech Savvy Educator, and the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. I also used Twitter as a means to find educational related blogs. I noticed what other students in ECMP 355 were tweeting about and found my way to We Are Teachers. The Internet is an amazing resource and if you are willing to put in a bit of your time, it does not take long to find some meaningful and valuable resources.

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The picture above is a screenshot of my feedly home page.