Author Archives: Dean Vendramin

I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying

My ECI journey has come to a successful completion. I’m excited for what’s next and what that is I’m not 100% sure, but I love teaching and I love learning. This class (and program) was such a great experience and I’m full of a lot of emotions right now. Mostly, gratitude! I just finished view all the summary of learnings from everyone and I am so impressed by the quality of presentations and learning from this crew (filled my cup). I’ve put together a little final vlog about my ECI 833 experience and ECI adventure as a whole. I also share the summary of learning that my partner, the Marvelous Melinda Demeter, co-constructed. A shout out to my mom as with out her I’d not be here literally 🙂 but without her encouragement and nudging I would not have had this amazing experience (wish she could have been here to celebrate with me … she is just in a different way).

Melinda and Dean’s Summary of Learning –

Thank you and God Bless!

Let’s ‘Make’ It Happen

Co-Written By Dean Vendramin and Melinda Demeter

There are couple of movements, which although not entirely new, deserve a push, poke, and a plug.  These movements are coding, and makerspaces being infused in the classroom.  Recently, in an Education Master’s class, we examined the learning theories, tools, and complexities of these movements.  We were listening to a podcast recently about making and coding in the classroom.  It went along the lines of this … ‘the mindset that we need to prepare students to climb that ladder and be able to win the race is no longer relevant in today’s world, the ladder has been replaced by a maze that students need to be able to navigate, pivot, and create their own path in’.  We believe that this reality is true and that it is education’s responsibility to provide students with learning opportunities to best prepare them for their future. Both coding and makerspaces provide these opportunities. 

Coding in the classroom usually gets designated to Computer Science classes and maybe a math class.  However, coding should not be just relegated to a couple of specific classes.  Also, coding isn’t just a 0s and 1s thing or advanced coding language, block coding makes the entry point easier and one can even do coding ‘unplugged’ where one can use paper cutouts to create computational learning opportunities.  Exposing and engaging students with computational thinking opportunities provides them with skills to solve wicked problems.  The goal isn’t to have all students become computer scientists but to allow students to construct their learning and grow a valuable growth mindset skill set.  

As both Dr. Bryan Sanders and the Codebreaker Brian Aspinall highlighted during our interviews ( ), coding has a lot to offer when it comes to teaching various subject matters, for example Language Arts. Hour of Code ( ) offers a variety of examples that can be easily implemented into teaching. Scratch ( ) is an amazing tool for story writing as well as Minecraft Education where the stories can come to life. Saskcode ( ) offers different ideas and lesson plans on coding as well as PD sessions. Using the Bee Bot, Ozobot, Arduino, etc. are fun and engaging ways to take learning to the next level. Having coding infused into our classrooms also helps reaching the various needs of our students. One might even call them a type of Assistive Technology.  

If you are asking yourself if implementing makerspaces is truly worth the trouble, you need to listen to Jennifer Gonzales’ podcast ( ) where John Spencer not only describes the importance of constructionism and connectivism makerspaces offer but the depth they give to the process of learning and teaching by being fully immersed in the beauty of creating.  In the above mentioned podcast, John Spencer also provides a few ideas on creating our own makerspaces and incorporating them into teaching various subject matters to help all our students play an active role in their own learning. 

Hope this provides some insights and resources that one can use to start or continue their coding and makerspaces journey.  For more resources and tips check out .  You don’t have to be an expert or have all the bells and whistles to start being a part of this journey.  There are many entry points and many people willing to offer their time, talent, and treasures.  So next time you are thinking of having your classroom experience level up, make it happen. As always you can reach out to the two of us on Twitter @vendi55 and @Melinda74108321 

Reality Doesn’t Bite

Our final ECI 833 topic was Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality in the classroom. Alec brought I an amazing guest presenter, Brett Salakas from the ‘land down under’.

I appreciated Brett’s message about VR/AR/MR tools not needing to be ‘over the top’ and inaccessible to most.  His presentation focused on his top five tool to integrate these tools into the classroom.

First up was This tool allows colouring pages to ‘come to life’. I noticed a few of our classmates were trying this out with great success the next day  I saw a landmarks pack that would go well with the civilization unit I’m currently teaching.

Next up was which takes you on some amazing tours of cities and landmarks around the world.  We might not be able to travel in this time of COVID but we can scope out some future travel plans and take in some amazing sights.  Let’s go globetrotting VR style.

We then checked out Talk about getting to the heart of the matter.  One of the products from this site is an interactive inside the body t-shirt that was out of the world (along with the space products available.  It was so cool that I shared this with a Health Science teacher at my school and we ordered a t-shirt the next day.

Ready to hold the digital world in the palm of your hand?  Check out and see it for yourself.  Many STEM and other applications are available with this tool and they even have a headset that looks very engaging.

I have played a bit with and see great engagement opportunities with this. I want to create Castle Museums of the Middle Ages with my social 9 class. I’m hoping draw some help from our Digital Fluency Consultant Jen Owens for this one 🙂

The last tool Brett shared was With a 360 camera, one can upload and create interactive panorama environments.  I checked out one that involve trigonometry and I see a lot of potential to make math more meaningful.  This is something I hope to pursue in the future.

Brett also shared his Teacher Guide to Virtual reality.  This infographic provides a nice over of this topic

It would be great to see VR become a reality in our classrooms.  I have some in my classrooms and love to use them for some amazing immersive tours but would like to take them to another level.  I also think that these types of tools will become more implemented in our society and it is important to provide students with opportunities to learn and create in these environments.


Following a great presentation by the Assistive Technology (AT) group, this week’s blog post focus on the importance of understanding and providing students AT opportunities. To examine this topic, I took to my school/classroom to see where AT are at in my ‘own’ backyard. I was fortunate to connect with our school’s Learning Resource Teacher (she compiles our Records Of Adaptations and more) and a student that has benefited from AT (especially on the computer). They were great conversations (have a listen).

AT w/ a LRT

As part of my look at Assistive Technologies in the classroom, I interviewed our school’s Learning Resource Teacher (LRT) and discuss AT at our school.

AT w/ Nico

As part of my look at Assistive Technologies in the classroom, I interviewed Nico (Nico is 18 and have his permission to post), a student has used AT in his education, about how the use of AT has impacted him.

AT in My Classroom

As part of my look at Assistive Technologies in the classroom, I look around my room and examine some of the AT I have access to and use.

I loved sitting down with my two guests and talking about the way AT can impact students. The AT in my classroom tour helped me see that I’m on the right track, but could always do more.

One app that I am aware of and used (but would like to use more) is Immersive Reader. Since we use Microsoft products in my school division, this app is accessible AT embedded in many of the online tools I use such as Office 365, OneNote, Teams, Flip Grid, Wakelet, and yes even Minecraft Education Edition .

Microsoft has some great training on this and other AT in their education community – go here to check out this course – Accessibility tools: Meeting the needs of diverse learners

It’s amazing what a powerful addition this app can be for so many.

After reading the suggested passage from Assistive technology: Impact on education, employment, and independence of individuals with physical disabilities, I could only think about my talk with Nico. AT has allowed him to succeed and wish that for all students. Nico wants to be a Math teacher (even after getting taught by me) without AT I’m not sure he’d be able to follow his dreams (I told him I’ll stick around teaching so I be lucky enough to have him as an intern :-)). I also looked at the information on SETT and this helped me reflection on the interviews I did and my room AT overview. I always feel I put the Student first and I’m more than willing to make accommodations that will help students be successful, I feel the physical aspects of the Environment in my class lend themselves to AT opportunities (but I also feel there is still so much more that could be available), I try to provide opportunities to complete Tasks in a variety of ways that can play to student strength and I try to supply the Tools both electronics and non-electronic (with some knowledge of how to use as well). This was a useful video I found that brought SETT all together for me.

This article snap, from the reading Leveraging Emerging Technology to Design an Inclusive Future with Universal Design for Learning, sums it all up for me and my reflection AT.

Get In The Loop

I love using and exploring formative assessment tools.  I am a huge proponent of formative assessment.  I believe that formative assessment can take on many looks, but in the end it is a chance for students and teachers to create a dialogue that focuses on the learning process not just summative assessment, that tends to take a snap shot of where one is at a certain time and signifies an end to learning about that concept. 

“The word assess comes from the Latin assidere, which means to sit beside. Literally then, to assess means to sit beside the learner.”


Here’s an excellent article on the trend that sees a shift to assessment for learning. “Consistent with 21st Century learning and the benefits brought on by better assessment tools, assessment is becoming more student-centric, offering educators the insights that will help them determine the best instructional next steps and how to make learning more personal for the individual student.”

I was fortunate enough when this post prompt came out to find a tweet on formative assessment tools.

I have explore many of them before but the first app on the list, Loop, was something that I was not familiar with.  So this gave me an opportunity to explore Loop.  This app, developed by a company in Australia, provided a simple way to communicate with students and stay ‘in the loop’.  It’s look is clean and simple as it allows you to ask student questions with either a text, rating, emoji, or multiple choice response. 

As advertised, this app provides
1) app based on-the-go communication
2) private responses
3) anonymous responses
4) ability to respond quickly and easily

Creating an account was fairly easy to as one could sign up using their Google account.  Once in, I was guided how to set up a class, invite students, ask a question, gather results,  respond to feedback, and post an announcement (Quick Set Up Guide was provided with videos, how tos, and sign up pdfs).

Start Up Guide Provides Easy to Access and Understand Resources.

I was fortunate to have my work place 30 students test out the app with me.  It was timely as we were winding down the first quadrant and it was a great opportunity to as for feedback on what they needed help with, how they were feeling, class feedback, and even slipped in what they thought of this app.  Overall, students found it easy to sign in either thought the email invite I sent or by using the class code provided.  Once logged in, the student found the questions easily and were able to respond.  They appreciated the ability to respond anonymously and liked the discussion loop that was created.

Student Reviews of Loop

“I don’t mind using loop, on here I can tell my teacher what I need help with most and how he’s able to help me.”

“I think it is a good way to communicate with you. and a good way to ask questions.”

“It’s good to see what we think about the class and how we are doing.”

“I like loop and I like how the teacher only sees the answer and no one else.”

Got approval from Nico (and he’s 18 – so all good sharing :-))

I used and would continue to use this app (which one could use on a desktop or download on iOS or Android) for simple yet important feedback on how students are feeling either in general or on a topic.  I have other tools that are more effective at gauging how they are doing with more specific content. I also wish they had a more apparent ‘dashboard’ button rather than just clicking on the loop logo at the top right of the screen.  The anonymous feature is something I like as well, but could see concerns with it as well (great time to teach some digital citizenship). Still the simple set up of the app was a win.  It’s not flashy put it does keep one simply ‘in the loop” which is huge for understanding and relationship building.

In my ‘travels’, I stumbled upon this great Chrome extension, YiNotes,  which allows one to watch a You Tube video, take notes, and get timestamps / screen shots of when you took the notes.  I found a review of Loop and decided to test out this extension on this review.

Take time stamped notes as you watch You Tube. Check out my pdf notes on this Loop Review below.
Get screenshot, edit notes, annotate notes … then export the file to pdf, google docs, one note, and more.

Check out my video reviews of Loop Desktop Version and the iPhone App

Desktop Version
iPhone App Version

Bonus Material

Check out my goformative on how to use goformative, what formative assessment is, and a few other tools

The Social Dilemma … Is It Really A Dilemma? Is There Hope?

Social media is woven into the fabric of our society, whether we like it or not. The documentary-drama hybrid, ‘The Social Dilemma,’ on Netflix looks at social media’s impacts on the world today.  The summary for the show is as follows:

Dilemma is defined as,

“a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.”
Source  – Bing Search

As I watched ‘The Social Dilemma,’ I wondered if a dilemma is the right word to use. Dilemma implies there is a choice. As each tech expert’s stories, which previously worked for social media giants unfolded, it appeared to me that we no longer have a choice when it comes to being a ‘slave’ to the algorithms of social media. Social media’s model is built on based on three pillars: engagement, growth, and advertising.

The analogy used was that of a magician.  Just like a magician uses our minds against us to perform illusions, social media algorithms can tap into those same parts to perform their ‘magic.’

There was also a reference to social media design being like a slot machine.  We become addicted to ‘spinning’ the social media’ slot machine’ to see if we will hit the ‘jackpot’ even though the result of the ‘spin’ is already predetermined. 

The documentary implied that the subliminal effect that social media has on us is massive. Another analogy used was a bicycle. A bicycle is a tool because it waits until we decide when we want to use it, but social media does not wait for us as it has goals of its own.

Even the tech experts interviewed know what is ‘behind the curtain’ and are still addicted to social media platforms themselves

Social media was likened to a drug that affects our dopamine levels.  The documentary examines the effects that social media is having on our youth.  Developing minds were not taken into consideration when social media was initially designed.  But now we see more and more adverse effects on self-image and self-worth. The documentary shared a timeline that illustrated the correlation between the advent of social media and increased self-harm and suicides (especially in pre-teen girls). 

The human mind is no match compared to the math and social media teams understanding of psychology. References were made to sci-fi movies like ‘The Terminator’ and ‘The Matrix’ suggesting AI (Artificial Intelligence) already runs the world, has a mind of its ‘own,’ and is already in control of our minds. 

The Centre for Humane Technology points out that AI knows our weaknesses and can overpower human nature. In a reference to the movie  ‘The Truman Show,’ people are apt to accept the reality presented; like how magicians guide you to pick the card they want you to choose (even though you are lead to believe in picking any card, the reality is that the choice has already been made for you).  The documentary suggests that people are purposely fed different slants on information when access social media. 

The information feed each person is getting is tailored to create polarization.  Social media is more effective and efficient than the news creating divisiveness and appears to be widening the gap.  Designed to take people down ‘rabbit holes,’ social media’s algorithms have led to movements such as ‘The Earth Is Flat’ and ‘#pizzagate.’

In fact, the documentary offered that social media platforms, such as Twitter, spread ‘fake news’ six times faster than real news.  Myanmar’s example was given to show how Facebook can become an easy and cheaper tool for propaganda.  This mindset led to the persecution and death of Muslims in that country.  Facebook was put on every phone that was sold in that country, becoming the ‘defacto’ web and allowing the government to spread its propaganda with ease.  According to the documentary, social media is responsible for the global assault on democracy and is willing to sell our freedoms to the highest bidder.  


Originally based on a business model, social media has no laws regulating it and the wealthy that run them have little or no interest in changing the model. So, social media is now being used against us. The documentary used Russian interference as an example, noting nothing was ‘hacked,’ they just used the ‘tools’ available. Our futures are becoming available to the highest bidder, and a few of the tech experts could spell the end of civilization.


At the end of the documentary, the panel of experts suggested a few ways we can ‘combat’ the adverse effects of social media on society:

  • Turn Off Notifications
  • Delete Social Media Apps
  • Get over the impulse to check, scroll, and post
  • Make a plan with children (no phones until 16, no phones in the bedroom overnight)
  • Get outside and see the world for yourself

So what does all this mean in the world of education?  Will we stand by and say,’ that’s not our problem,’ ‘does not belong in the classroom,’ ‘ban technology from the classroom,’ or be part of the solution?  As the internet has evolved at a rapid pace, has education kept pace?  If the world of education sticks to the status quo, will that help or be detrimental to how social media affects our youth?  I feel that education must recognize that social media has a significant influence on society.  A concerted effort to inform, explore, and apply critical thinking strategies can help students understand and make positive decisions.  One important step would be for teachers to know how social media works themselves.  I think a mandatory class on social media in university education programs would be a good start. Should digital citizenship guidelines be infused into all classrooms (Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools) or left to chance that it will hopefully be ‘covered’ by a ‘tech’ related class?  Is an all-out ban the answer? For some, the answer is yes. But if education does not offer a plan, where and how will students learn about and how to effectively use social media.  The documentary pointed out mostly social media ‘pitfalls’, but did mention a few advantages. Getting an Uber ride wasn’t my first choice as an advantage, but I have seen youth do incredible things using the power of social media (take Greta Thunberg, for example).  For something to be a dilemma, there needs to be a choice; with the way social media and those who run them are designed, if we do not offer an option through education, there will be no dilemma.

What Other’s Are Saying About The Social Dilemma


The Social Dilemma Fails to Tackle the Real Issues in Tech

What Is The Social Dilemma: 6 Things To Know About The Netflix Documentary Before You Watch

The problem with The Social Dilemma

What They Are Saying About The Social Dilemma On Twitter

What ECI 833 People Are Saying About The Social Dilemma

Lisa Fraser

Quote – ‘this ad continually popped up. To me, that seemed like it was a huge invasion of privacy. It seemed to go beyond my phone. Almost like it was real and reaching out into my living room. Like a real life horror show’

My Reflection -Thanks for sharing your personal story.  Many times I think we think these things happen to other people not us, even though we know that the power of the algorithm exists.  I also appreciate your take on how gender roles are still exploited and defined and that this was a key message in the documentary. Thanks for a great read and share.

Jocelyn Wigmore

Quote – Fact checking and making sure our resources are coming from valuable sources seems to be a thing of the past. I know I have people I know and follow on social media that have fallen into this trap.

My Reflection – Great post.  I thought about Inside Out when watching those ‘algorithm’ guys manipulate Ben too.  I’m glad you saw that it was really one sided in the video and I guess that’s what they needed to do to drive their point, but I’m glad you brought up the debate from ECI 830 because there are more counter points than the documentary shared.  It really didn’t seem like a dilemma because there really wasn’t another choice.  Thanks for the share and I also appreciate you bringing your own experience into your post.

Meira McNevin

Quote – There were many negative tradeoffs to using social media mentioned in the documentary The Social Dilemma; tech addictions, body/self-image dysmorphia, and corporations selling us the product to the highest bidder. For me, the scariest part was the misinformation causing alarming polarization in our world.

My Reflection – Great Post.  There is a lot to unpack from this documentary for sure.  You hit on many of the same points I got as well.  The polarization is real.  Don’t get me wrong we have our share here in Canada, but when I look at what is happening in the States; this upcoming week will be a gong show for sure. Your title caught my attention as well.  When the algorithm guys were controlling Ben, he sure did look like a puppet getting his strings pulled.  It was like he had no choice at all.  Scary stuff but stuff we should be talking about together and in the classroom.  Thanks.

My Sketchnotes

Online Tools, Tips, and Tidbits

I have been extremely fortunate to have embrace learning how to use technology tools and how to effectively teach with them throughout my career. The ‘crisis learning’ that happened in the spring was not ideal but I was not scrambling as I was ready to go virtually and remotely. I only had two math classes that I had face to face at the time and unfortunately with the option to pass/take the grade many did not engage in the supplementary learning that was available (I didn’t take it personally but it was unfortunate many didn’t want to continue). But with the few students I did have we continued with the learning and had a great experience including doing a few Minecraft projects (check out the pandemic hospital we made)

There was a lot of learning going on here.

I provided updates on my remote learning experience including this vlog.

You can see some of the tools and how I used them in the spring.

So when we started this school year and knew we were going on a quadrant schedule, I moved my class to be able to access the entire class using Microsoft Teams. This is my one stop shop and whether we are face to face or remote students have a hub in which they can access the resources, assignments, and communication they need to be successful. I made a vlog that takes you on a tour of how this looks and a video that show you how to record your screen using Microsoft Teams.

A look into my online/remote toolkit.
How to record a lesson using Microsoft Teams.
Extra bonus for me as I will be helping teachers at my school with this for our Teacher Institute.

So I’m ready to go back to remote if need be, but I still love the face to face experience. I also teach online classes as part of Regina Catholic School’s Online School. We use Moodle for this. I’m not even close to where I’d like to be with this experience but for now, I can do what I need to get done, but hope to get better. My ECI 834 experience,

a MOOC I took through Athabasca (which was mentioned as one of the first distance learning universities in Alberta created in 1972) Learning to Learn Online (LTLO) MOOC

browsing through Twitter,

looking at the ADDIE Model,


learning from my peers blogs,

Once those routines and relationships are built, it comes down to remembering to go with the flow and as we talked in class on Tuesday, keeping a growth mindset is vital!

Great post Shelby.  Your growth mindset continues to serve you well.  Not only does it appear that you understand how to use the tools (the ins and outs of the apps), but you understand how to use the tools (to provide students with effective ways in which to learn).  Being able to maintain student engagement is critical but it looks like you have built the relationships and the skill sets necessary to succeed no matter what life may throw at us. 

I would argue that we go the distance and do what we do because we care about the students and their learning.

Great post.  I agree that teachers need to be flexible and be able to pivot like never before.  It is a challenge to build those relationships if you haven’t met the students before and something I know I am working on getting better at in the online teaching environment I have.  Communication is the key in any classroom situation but it does take on higher importance online because you do not have that daily ‘forced’ contact.  Also, the more organized the better for sure, and with that, less is usually more.  Thanks for sharing the tools you use and tools you are interested in.

So far this year we have utilized all the tools mentioned above on a daily or weekly basis within the classroom – which has allowed my students to become quite comfortable with these technology tools.

Nice post Matt.  I use many of the same tools and I think that being consistent with the same tools helps the students a lot (especially in high school).  I find the Microsoft suite of apps does a nice job of working together which really helps the kids.  It’s great that you are already using these tools that will and have helped with the transition to a remote situation (definitely a perk to being a connected educator).  Thanks for sharing examples as well. 

and checking out resources

Resource Sheet For Distance Learning

Best Tools for Distance/Virtual Learning

Microsoft Teams Resources

Online Teaching Resources

The Great Presentation on Oct 20, 2020
(will need the password from discord to watch)

There is great potential in online / hybrid learning. It won’t be the same as face to face, but it can be very effective and engaging if we learn the tools and how to implement them. But just like face to face, the key is relationships. As Kareem Farah points out

… despite the challenges, we know that teachers can still make school count. Focus your class time on human connection, and it will.


Thanks for reading and being part of my learning journey.

Let’s Dive Into Prod…. Squirrel

Ok, that video was funny yet also hit the mark on so many ways multitasking is multi-distracting.  I know I’m a bit of a procrastinator myself (I’ve been working on this blog in my mind for the past few days … even today as I write this I’ve found ‘ways’ to put it off just a little longer … but I digress … just got a Twitter notification on my phone … hang on please … awesome thanks Amanda for the great share… ok back to the blog). Ok, is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?  Let’s see what I can find on our friend Google on this (should really switch to Duck Duck Go).  The first thing that came up was a blog post by former ECI 833 Logan Petlak.  He posted a great video called ‘Can We Autocorrect Humanity’  and made this point on the video (which I agreed with).

Literacy rates have increased substantially since the advent of increased global connectedness in the past fifty years, and while I believe he may feel we are more distracted, I would be inclined to disagree.

Good points to reflect on in this video.

(Hang on just got another Tweet – should probably turn off notifications – brb – wow read this thread I was tagged on and come back to my blog (go ahead the 5 minutes will be worth it I think) it’s really interesting and something maybe we should discuss in class as I’m not 100% sure what exactly is going on here – This.Is.Important.)

Ok, found this on another past ECI833 participant Channing Degelman, “Can Kids Multitask’.  Great read. Great list of tips that the author offers to share with your children, but I’d say even us adults in the room as well.  Here’s one tip:

Explain to your child that his or her brain is like a spotlight. It can only shine on one thing at a time. Share the research on multitasking with your kids.


I try sharing this with my own kids to but have also witnessed some work by both of them that makes it hard to prove this point. But I know they get it too and I have seen both of them work hard to chunk out time to focus on what they need to get done. This tip does relate well to the article on Connectivism that the Productivity Group provided. As technology can help us learn in new ways and hopefully more effecient ways.

Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.


I do believe we have evolved when it comes to learning and helping students learn how to learn, focus, and harness the power of technology are some of the most important skills we can help instill in students (and I’d argue ourselves). 

(just stepped out for a second to get a glass of water … I’m back … hang on  just want to change my Spotify playlist (from 80s to Rock Anthems) ok that’s better)

Was excited to try adding this block haha – may have to sign up to listen too.

I was having a great discussion with a colleague of mine and we were talking about the value of time and how really it’s the most precious commodity we have.  He mentioned to me the Parkinson Law which states

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.


Watch this video to learn more about Parkinson’s Law (found myself nodding a lot to it (not nodding off but in agreement haha). 

I can totally relate to this concept and it’s something that I have struggled with my whole life.  I’m have been very fortunate that I don’t really stress out and say to myself it’s ok it’s going to get done and it always does, but it has cost me a few nights’ sleep along the way.  One of the tweets I shared on productivity was replied to by Shelby and it was ‘nice’ to know I’m not alone. 

The struggle is real.

(sorry stepped out for a second had to check on the smoker … mmm brisket) 


I appreciated the great work the Productivity Team did on Tuesday (great resources in their Wakelet). It was another trip down memory lane.  I have worked with a lot of tech tools in my ‘day’ and I honestly just try to use the tools I have available to do the job.  I’m lucky that I have had the good fortune to feel comfortable with learning and applying tech tools in my personal and professional life.  Learning and using technology has become a great passion of mine and I don’t mind investing time into learning how they work or adapting to changes that may occur.  I have used Microsoft, Google, and Apple products (I’m a part of the teacher programs for each which has led me to have met so many great people, had so many great experiences, and learned a lot about not only how to use these tools but how to integrate them effectively into the classroom – check out the Microsoft Education Community for example and become a Microsoft Innovative Educator here’s a list of some of the training I have received in this community) and appreciate the Jamboard Activity that we did and reading through a few of the comparison articles the Productivity Group provided. The Schools Leverage Apps and Easy-to-Manage Suites of Learning Tools article for example reinforced that you need to maximize the tool whatever it is to the best of your ability and in the interest of your students.

Tuesday night showed a great use of Jamboard.

For the most part I feel that all this productivity tools have been a benefit for me personally throughout the years (I remember printing out essays on a dot matrix printer from a basic word processor on my Commodore 64 still – so I know the advancements have been good in the long run). 

Long wait time haha

Still there are ‘hiccups’ along the way and we get a little reliant on technology sometimes and are not happy when Murphy’s Law is applied.  

 (Another twitter notification … gotta take this (what social media is designed to do)… thanks Catherine glad you liked this Tweet which actually leads in me into my last section).

The Productivity Team shared many tech tools (Alec has also shared a great list and love the collection Curtis shared with us the other day Techflix).  In my google search of the initial question, I stumbled upon this list of tools that promises to help to stay focused.

15 Tools That Will Help You Stay Focused

Here a couple that caught my eye (disclaimer there is one app on list that has a swear word in it):

Proud – organize your to do list, schedule in time, adjust list, very interesting

Flowstate – I would have lost my blog if I used this haha

HazeOver –  Focus on one app by dimming all the background windows

Interesting list for sure, but sometimes a written to do list or a paper calendar work best for me too.  I also like the analytics I get from my phone and school email.

Ok I made it through my blog with limited distractions and I found all the links I needed to complete this (I’m a ‘tab’oholic what can I say

thanks to OneTab for helping me declutter once in a while … sometimes I’m not even sure how my mind works when using the internet and social media – I’m not really a clutter type of person otherwise – make sure my desk at work is cleared off every day for example).  Now to get the rest of my prep and correcting done … there’s always tomorrow … right? #teacherlife

Until Next Time … Stay Safe and Healthy

Hey, Wait A Minute Mr. Postman … This is not what I ‘Faustian’ Bargained For

To start my blog I wanted to know a little more about Dr. Neil Postman (liked him off the start when he said ““Every teacher,” Postman said, “must be a history teacher.”), but after ‘attacking’ the educational value of Sesame Street … that had me signing – ‘Hey, Wait A Minute Mr. Postman‘. So I went to the internet to learn more (something I found out would be something Postman himself may have challenged me doing). I found an interview that he did that was thought provoking and gave me some insights into Postman’s mindset. 

He challenged the use of technology as a crutch (in some ways he was ahead of his time) that we rely on too much whether it is not interacting with fellow citizens and just engaging in interactions from home, changed the format of debate (he referenced the US political TV debate’s new format and how that is not really a debate (how timely is that)), and even that technology is replacing faith and that may be the ‘solve’ the problem of death. 

But how can I listen to a person who challenged my love and faith in Sesame Street (click on the link to read a great counterargument to Postman – but also look at who owns the site it is from – make your own conclusions people) . Also check out this ultimate Sesame Street playlist (lady bug picnic, ain’t easy being green and more) for your listening pleasure (ah good times :-)).

On a quick aside, how they were ok talking with a giant 7 foot bird and a monster that lives in a trash can but were not ok with believing in Snuffy but I digress.


So again I went to the internet to find the context of Postmans’s ‘outrageous’ statements.  I found the article in which this ‘blasphemous’ claim was made.  However as, I read this article it, I found myself nodding my head in reluctant agreement.  This quote brought into focus the ‘preposterous’ propositions put forth by Postman (I’m even impressed with my alliteration here haha).

Whereas a classroom is a place of social interaction, the space in front of a television set is a private preserve. Whereas in a classroom, one may ask a teacher questions, one can ask nothing of a television screen. Whereas school is centered on the development of language, television demands attention to images. Whereas attending school is a legal requirement, watching television is an act of choice. Whereas in school, one fails to attend to the teacher at the risk of punishment, no penalties exist for failing to attend to the television screen. Whereas to behave oneself in school means to observe rules of public decorum, television watching requires no such observances, has no concept of public decorum. Whereas in a classroom, fun is never more than a means to an end, on television it is the end in itself.


Yet another great quote from Postman that was also brought up in our class put everything in perspective for me.

New technology is a kind of Faustian bargain. It always gives us something, but it always takes away something important. That’s true of the alphabet, and the printing press, and telegraph, right up through the computer.

What is the Faustian Bargain? – Check Out This Video to Learn More

I appreciated the messages in this video. Though most of my formal education growing up would be considered ‘traditional’ (and I was relatively successful with this), I know that implementing learning opportunities in coding and makerspaces that would go back to big picture learning like what happened before the Industrial Revolution (as mentioned in the video) would be beneficial to how we actually learn best. One big reason I am a proponent of seeing this more  regularly in the classroom (and I’m learning a lot in our presentation prep on these topics).

So I now better understand Postman’s claim of how Sesame Street undermines school and how that relates to the technologies of today. Postman passed away just as the ‘smart’ phones were starting up. I’m sure Postman would see past the ‘bells and whistles’ of apps, You Tube, and other education technology and would ‘double-down’ on his claims today.

What a bargain!

The Audio Visual Group on Tuesday did a great job. Thanks Lisa, Tammy, Tarina and Caleigh  (I also appreciated extra resources they provided )

Great Presentation.

I enjoyed (for me) a trip down memory lane (not ancient history honest) and I interacted and still interact with many of the audio / visual materials that were presented.  I know I was always happy when the TV/VCR combo was rolled in (such an upgrade from the filmstrip projector – always volunteered to advance the strip at the beep so I’d be awake (didn’t always work though haha).


One quote, from a suggested reading, had me thinking about the use of AV in the classroom.

Not exposing children to different forms of technology is depriving them of vital learning opportunities that could benefit them in later life for example through increased career opportunities. AV lessons should not just consist of children working in pairs on a PowerPoint presentation or rewriting a piece of work using Word, ICT should be challenging, exciting and fun.


I don’t think it the fact that they are using technology that is the main point of this statement as it is the people skills that are promoted to make it ‘challenging, exciting, and fun’.  It’s not about the technology it is about the learner experience and technology should be a tool not an ends to a means.  I think that is a main underlying layer to Postman’s dissertation that if we use technology to learn with what are we depriving the learner in return. I feel a tweet I found recently and the corresponding article does a great job of reminding educators of this point.

As always, I learn so much about this and other topics from our #eci833 tribe (the collective wisdom in this group exemplifies connectivism in my opinion).  Catherine wrote a great blog (as usual).  It was full of great research and points, but I really appreciated her sharing her personal experience and her point (which we can never hear enough of) and is : “The biggest lesson I took away from the Spring 2020 remote emergency learning period was that we need to keep. it. simple.” I love integrating technology into my craft and practice, but I always reflect on what is the trade off like Postman suggests.  Catherine’s simple yet effective point is something I honestly try to put at the forefront of the educational decisions I make for me and my students.  Which led into the great question that Shelby posed about audio / visual in her blog. “What I believe it comes down to is engagement vs. entertainment.” Her points about not over using and using the SAMR model when planning to use audio / visual materials were very much appreciated.  So to make sure that we make sure the trade-offs and give and take of using audio/visual positive, I will take Lisa’s advice …

“So to sum it up, we need to use technology in meaningful purposeful ways. We need to not worry if sometimes our lessons or content is boring to kids because that is ok too. But what we do need is powerful, meaningful daily connections in a safe, caring, risk-taking environment where kids know that everything is going to be ok.”


Coding It ‘Old School’ and ‘Extending’ The Browser Experience

Revisiting Logo was a great experience for me.  I remember taking an ECMP 355 class many years ago.  I was in my first or second year teaching and I signed up for the class as my first job in education was being a computer itinerant in an elementary school.  I thought I needed some more training to be more effective in the position. In some ways taking this class was a foreshadowing for my relationship with education technology.  I always wanted to learn more in this area and I remember doing some Logo projects in that class. 

Example of Logo using the word Logo

I had done some coding before on my Commodore 64, a little bit on Commodore Pets in high school, and in the Computer Science class I took in university. So playing with Logo was a fairly easy transition. But thinking about Papert’s constructionism learning theory and how that relates to coding was new for me. My limited coding experience was even drawn upon early in my high school teaching career as I was asked to teach a computer science class (using QBasic). I didn’t know everything about this but that has never stopped me in the past and it was a great learning experience for me and the students. I was able to draw upon the work of Papert in this experience as well as we focus a lot on the learning process in this class. Even when I taught Communication Media learning and playing with HTML code became very useful when making webpages.

Having that constructionism learning style has served me well and I continue to promote learning opportunities like this for my students through Hour of Code, Canada Learning Code, Lego Mindstorms, microbits, Minecraft Edu, and more. I’m hoping to learn more in this area and feel that this is a trip down memory lane was important to reflect upon. I’m also excited to present on coding and maker spaces in a few weeks. I was also happy to read that last week’s Logo experience (and other retro ed tech programs) were shared with the a new generation of learners (sometimes there is no school like old school).

My Logo experience reminded me of my learning project from ECI 831.  The concepts and even results of coding and creating with Logo was similar to my coding and creating with the Agent in Minecraft Edu.

Logo Square Coded w/ Turtle
Minecraft Edu Square Coded w/ Agent

I found an interesting video from a Gary Stager a mentor of Papert. He lauds of Papert’s brilliance, predictions, and connections to learning.

Papert – Inventor of Everything

My three go to extensions are:

One Tab – I’m a bit of a ‘tab’oholic so using One Tab has helped me organize my browsers

Google Translate – This has come in handy to translate a few pages in different languages

Wakelet – one of my favorite tools is Wakelet and the extention saves me a few steps and allows me to create and curate collections quickly

I have not done a lot of this with my students, but this activity has me thinking I should.

Here’s an Edutopia list of 10 extensions to use in the classroom –