Author Archives: bradraes7578

Summary of learning.

What a tremendous class. I loved the idea of the debates and the conversations that it started. I feel lucky to have worked with the people in this class… all my classes for that matter. I have often said that I don’t pride myself on knowing a lot of information… but I have a lot of friends. You have all joined the ranks of my Personal Learning Community.

Links to the debate blogs.

Please watch my video!

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

What a time to be talking about social justice in the classroom. Many people in the world saw things through a different lens these past few weeks.

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Of course teachers should be teaching about social justice issues and it shouldn’t just be in the wake of such heartbreaking news either. In the article Alec shared there was a quote that will get us talking about this.


Talking about, advocating for and being outspoken about social justice issues is undoubtedly going to help marginalized people. These types of conversations should be happening in classrooms all over the world, these conversations are shaping our future.

Should we be using Social Media to promote Social Justice?

Well.. I think social media is a terrific place to find current events. Using social media to stay informed could be a powerful tool. Promoting students to engage in online debate or activism is something that I would tread extremely lightly with. I fear that you may be setting young people up for failure as far as being trolled.. or worse turning into trolls.

Encouraging students to be vocal about their beliefs modelling responsible behavior and treating the inevitable internet troll as a teachable moment is certainly an arguable point… but… jeeeeeeze I think this is opening yourself up to a lot of potential kickback. Which is also arguably the correct response when dealing with social justice issues. SOOOOOO…… here I sit….. at a loss.

Slacktivism is a real thing in our society so, would using social media at this young age be better or worse for future slacktivists. There are so many teachable moments within all of this, and I suppose my reluctance to join the ranks of social media activism probably says something about my own journey to understanding privilege… I just think there are many things to consider with regards to students engaging in social media activism.

The video embedded above talks about some interesting connections to online social media activists and the real world… worth listening to.

To further my role as devils advocate… Tuesdays debate brought up the ideas of teachers shaping a students digital footprint.. So…. that should be considered as well… they road you lead them down better be righteous because the footprint could be there forever.

To sum up… I hope the video is well received as Michella and I are both advocates of social justice education but wanted to argue these points with a bit of humour.

Is Sharing Caring?

I really enjoyed this debate as there were some great points brought up by both sides. The point brought up by Altan and Melinda about EAL families signing release forms they may not fully understand is a good one.  Sheri and Dean argued that we need to teach positive online behavior and embrace it the new tech. world that we live in.

Altan and Melinda shared some articles about a recent studies show that a large percentage of toddlers already have a digital footprint which may or may not be a bad thing. One one hand who cares… everyone has funny baby pictures sitting in a dusty album the only difference being accessibility, which you could argue putting these pictures online will be wonderful for future generations of family. The cons being just because we can share everything… should we share everything?

I am on the fence because I personally wouldn’t care if my baby pictures were available online. However, I am pretty thankful my teenage years and all the silly things I did are not readily available. Kids do weird things… they will continue to do weird things.. but now with the digital age, they may not be able to escape it.

How much do we really know about digital media?

Is my toddlers digital footprint going to have adverse effects on him down the road? Lets ask this doctor,

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The point is…. Opinions change as we gather more information. This doesn’t mean that I am going to start fear mongering. Alec brought up a good point that although this data isn’t false there is a very small chance that in reality a child’s photos or data would be stolen especially anything school related.

I don’t know where exactly I fall on this spectrum… but I do give credit to both sides as there is validity in all of it.

Should cell phones be banned in the Classroom?

This is a controversial topic with many teachers; as we saw with the results of the vote it is an even split with teachers that want them VS. teachers that want them gone. There were great arguments made by both sides.

Skyler and Alyssa argued that cell phones were a positive addition to the classroom while Jill and Tarina took that the stance that cell phones should be banned in school. I feel like I have a fairly unique perspective on this. I have spent half my career in high school and half in elementary. I have taught in what would be considered Moose Jaw’s most affluent Elementary School and currently work at a Community School. With this experience brings a lot of perspective. My answer to the entire thing… at the risk of repeating myself, balance.

No.. not yoga balance. Balance between analog and digital. I have been beating this drum in Alec’s ECI classes for two years. I believe the key to technology in Education is balance. We live in an increasing digital world however, this should put even more importance on some analog skills. Like Art, Music, linguistics, Practical and Applied Arts and many others. I believe that an increasingly digital world means we need to balance that with skills and hobbies that use different preceptor parts of our brain. Its good for the soul to work with your hands…. not just to type on a keyboard.

So… In a world that everyone has a cell phone in their pocket… It would be silly to think they shouldn’t begin to learn basic cell phone etiquette from their teachers. Perhaps the reason we see so many adults with poor etiquette is that they got these phones when they were young adults and nobody ever talked to them about proper use and social expectations. If we want to break this cycle it needs to start young. We have driver training class and a supervised plan of action when it comes to operating a car, I am not making direct comparisons but surely you can see how this could be similar.

I am not saying that we should give kids cell phones in grade school, I am not saying the responsibility lies solely on teachers… but I am saying that banning their use teaches them nothing. It is a short term solution that doesn’t line up with future expectations.

Is social media ruining childhoods?

I have a few conflicting ideas about this. If you haven’t guessed I am a bit of a hopeless romantic when it comes to the past. So I am sure you can guess that side of me doesn’t care much for social media. I would love to see young people develop a sense of analog-self before taking on the pressure of navigating two worlds. Kids have enough going on in their lives before you throw in the added stress of maintaining an online persona.

Now before you start arguing with me… let me argue with myself. My Great Aunt Thelma is a published historian, author, poet and is generally pretty philosophical. She has always been a great influence on how I think about things, especially those associated with history. I remember we were having a conversation about something that related to “way things used to be” and her response has stuck with me through the years. She said “Brad, I have interviewed 5 generations of cowboys and ranchers and every single one of them think of themselves as the last of their kind”.

This statement can be used to describe social media as well. We are very romantic when thinking of the past and children outside playing and living carefree lives… But people have been saying that for 50 years… you know… since the children of the 60’s did something different than their parents.

Kids these days..

So are kids navigating a different landscape than we did growing up? certainly…does that make it worse? I don’t know… It certainly makes it different. Now, will today’s children ever grow up in our version of childhood? Unlikely.

So, should we be preparing children for a future that no longer exists? Or should we be working to try to create balance in their lives between digital and analog. We should be trying to understand the complexities of this new modern and ever-changing thing we call life.

Should we stop teaching things that are Google-able ?

If star trek/ star wars has taught us anything, its that they still need pilots in space. This tells us that there will always be a need for the human factor and computers can’t do everything for us.

If you are asking the question “should we stop teaching google-able things in school I would counter with what do we teach that that isn’t google-able? Not very much… So I think you’d be trying to argue the wrong point. Should we stop ASSESSING things that are easily google-able? In my mind that is a better argument. In the end both of these arguments come down to outcome based assessment and putting much more importance on the journey than the destination.

The real world connection.

Before my career as an educator I was a mechanic. I still tinker and do a lot of mechanic work on the side. I have forgotten a lot of little details and am constantly searching little details like torque or voltage specs. Googling the answer to these things doesn’t mean that I have lost the greater understanding of the big picture. I can still rebuild that engine, or troubleshoot your electrical system… Let me give you a quick example. I replaced the fuel tank in my 1968 C-10 this weekend. However I didn’t want the original tank that is behind the seat so… I used the internet to search tank dimensions and found that a 1968 mustang fuel tank will fit in the rear sub-frame of my truck. Long story short I have a ford duel tank in my Chevy truck. BUT… there is always a but with these darned out hot rods. The gas gauge for Ford and Chev trucks are different. In fact they are opposite, the Chev tank is 0-90 Ohms while a Ford is 87-8 Ohms. Follow me? (the gauge would be backwards, would read full when empty). However my understanding of electricity goes further than memorizing Ohms Law or total Ohms for each fuel sending unit (I did not know that the gauge would read backwards… I had to google it).

If we based understanding on memorizing facts then I would have failed. However, understanding that I can’t simply switch the wires and make the gauge work backward because that would be bad… (then I would have sent an electric current into my fuel tank… how do you think that story ends??) Instead I need to reverse the resistance of the sending unit in the tank.. Boom. done. (that’s a boom pun… cause there wasn’t a boom… get it?).

So as I show my kids these things I am not focused on the easily google-able fact of what is the Ohms range on the ford/chev fuel sending unit… I am going to make sure they understand the difference between volts and ohms and the significance of how this circuit works.

Equity and Technology

This was another great debate and some true colors came shining through as people had to overcome some technical difficulties. I admit I never really considered the equity of people with disabilities and how tech could help close that gap before this debate. Of course I have seen this in real life as talk-to-text brings students words to life but to be honest… physical disabilities aren’t what come to mind when I think of equity in technology. My mind jumped right to socio-economic status and affordability. I was happy to have those viewpoints challenged a little bit within this debate. Jacquie Murray made some good points drawing on previous Indigenous studies classes and how our privilege shape how we see things. Being self-aware is certainly the first step in being more open minded and aware of the needs within your school/classroom.

Nataly and Kalyn did a great job talking about accessibility and adaptability and how we need to do better.

I love a good argument and Victoria and Jasmine  did not let me down. I doubt I was the only one that hadn’t heard the term techno-colonialism . I liked this term and knew immediately that the idea would encompass several concepts covered in ECI832. Who’s flag will fly over this virtual world? How will big companies ensure that they continue to control the digital enterprise? Are open source ideas be nothing more than a Utopian dream? As big corporations fight for control of the internet how will that effect the technical divide?

I think there were some great points brought up by both sides and I still don’t know where my vote falls. I am hopelessly optimistic about the potential of technology to create equity in learning and expression… However, I do not believe we have seen the end of the struggle for control and money that will inevitably keep many marginalized people away from technology.

Does Technology In The Classroom Enhance Learning?

It was a great debate and several great arguments from both sides. Thank you to those people that opened up the battles!

In my humble yet accurate opinion, there is no scenario where the classroom is not made better by some form of technology. That being said there must be balance between digital and analog learning.

Before I started my career in education I worked in the trades, went to trade school worked as an industrial mechanic and then carpenter. I still work as a carpenter and as a backyard mechanic. I almost always have a project on the go and have turned into the “old knowledgeable” one for many of my friends. My grandfather Claude used to say “let me show you how to do that, it won’t be heavy to carry with you”. I love that point of view and it has been something that I’ve tried to personify ever since.

I was lucky enough to spend most of my teaching career in a shop and tried to pass on this growth mindset to students. I had countless parents in my shop expressing their regret at not learning to work with their hands. I think that in today’s society we have very little closure, we work on small aspects of large jobs without ever seeing something through start to finish. It is good for your mental health to have the gratification of a job done. Something you can see and touch and know every detail of.

So what does this have to do with technology in the classroom? Balance. You can’t turn your back on technology, we can’t pretend that technology is going to be a huge part of students lives…. forever. Sheltering them from it now and then thrusting it at them later in life would be no different than procrastinating teaching your child to swim because they are going to be in the water everyday when they are adults… ridiculous. Instead, lets teach them balance, lets explore some analog activities where they work with their hands, lets spend time outdoors. Lets make art, play music, complete tasks start to finish and talk about digital citizenship in real time.

A Day In The Life Of Brad

This year has been a balancing act, the past few months have thrown a bizarre twist into an already crazy year. For any of you with aspirations of becoming an administrator, please keep reading. Unbeknownst to you these past few months have been preparing you for your first year in administration. Not because of the social distancing, or the supplemental learning, it is’t even the work from home model. You are probably wondering what it is about this pandemic that is preparing you for being a principal.

Well… It is getting by without knowing the answer to anything. It is waking up everyday not knowing what will happen, and learning to adapt to a constantly changing environment where people are possibly emotionally unstable and at times even hostile. It is taking you from a place of comfort and putting you in a place of chaos. Of course, I approach this with a bit of humor. However, if you were like many of the teachers I work with, you have most likely been forced to learn on the fly during these changing times. You have been forced to improvise and adapt and to be understanding of diverse student needs, to do things completely different from your initial expectations, and to be ok with that. Finally, to do not what you want… but what needs to be done.

My days at the beginning of the “supplemental learning” were heavily skewed towards the IT department. I am very grateful to have taken so many of my masters classes focusing on ED TECH. Finally, I knew the answers to some questions! I was lucky enough to be a part of what is (hopefully) the largest impromptu PD event in our lifetime. Suddenly and without warning teachers were a step behind and needed to completely change how they deliver their lessons. In the past weeks as teachers became more comfortable with technology like zoom, google classroom and countless others my job has shifted again…

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Now I get to be a part of online classrooms, I get to read books to children, I get to play songs on the guitar for students, I drop off/pick up for students and teachers and maybe even help a caretaker move tables.

Like all of you, I am doing the best I can. I don’t know the answer is, but I am open to all possibilities. Brick by brick I will balance and carry the load.