What’s Your App Count?


Have you ever kept track of the technology you use in a day? I did a little experiment to keep a record of all the apps and websites I use in an average day. The results were fascinating. I had no idea how many apps and online tools I use as an educator, a Master’s student, and a millennial. It made me realize just how much I value technology and use it on a day-to-day basis. Not only do I use it for educational purposes, but I also use technology to connect with my friends and family. One of the first things I do in the day is check my text messages. Why? Because I want to check in and connect with those around me… especially now when I can’t see them in a physical setting. I am grateful for the ability to connect with my loved ones through technology.

I was curious how many apps other people use in the day, so I took my question to Twitter. Little did I know that my “app” count might be a little higher than most. Do I feel bad for the amount of technology I use during my day? Absolutely not. However, on Twitter, Trevor replied and brought up an interesting point. He said, “have you tracked your screen time at all?” Even though I use apps and websites to better my teaching and learning, I think it’s still important for me to be aware of my screen time and take breaks when needed.

To further my “app count” experiment, I documented my day and compiled the apps and online tools that I use in a short video. My final app count was 33… and I probably even missed a few! Check out the video and then let me know if you can relate. I would love to know your “app count” in an average day. Enjoy!


The Podcast Playback: 5 Ways that Seesaw Stands Out

EdTech Tools

Seesaw has been a part of my classroom for quite a few years, but most recently, it’s become the primary mode of learning for my students. If you aren’t familiar with Seesaw, it is a digital platform that engages students, demonstrates and enhances their learning, and shares and communicates with families. It’s essentially a digital portfolio, but it goes even further than that. Seesaw is an app and website that can be used on IOS and Apple products, Chromebooks, computers with Chrome and Firefox, and android devices. It’s compatible with countless apps and websites like Drop Box, Google Drive, Evernote, Keynote, Book Creator, and so much more.

I recently became a Seesaw Ambassador, which means I took some training to grow in my skills and learn more about the platform. I learned a lot of valuable information and even some new tips and tricks, so I wanted to share that in some way. What better way to share my knowledge than through a podcast episode!

In this episode, I talk about the benefits of using Seesaw, especially now in a time of online learning and remote teaching. I also bring up 5 ways that Seesaw has stood out to me and some of the new features that I learned about in my Seesaw Ambassador training.

In case you want a quick recap of the episode, I will break it down here, post the links, and even time stamp it for you. However, the podcast episode goes into more detail about each topic. If there is something that you specifically want to learn about, you can just fast forward to the time beside each topic and listen to the portion that you want to. So, here it is:

1. The Creative Tools (2:37)

Students can post to their student journal, which is essentially their portfolio, in 6 different ways: Camera, video, link, notes, files, and my personal favourite, the drawing tool.

Tips for the Drawing Tool:

  • Click the camera icon to take photos or upload saved pictures from your camera roll and directly import them to the drawing board without leaving the drawing tool.
  • Add shapes and backgrounds.
  • Lock your shapes or text so they can’t be easily moved.
  • Click the draft button in the top right corner if students aren’t done with their work so that they can come back to it later.

2. Seesaw Activities (6:07)

Students can individually respond to an assignment that you create and you can see who’s handed it in and give individual feedback.

Seesaw Icon Shortcut – Seesaw Help Center
Seesaw Help Centre

Tips for Seesaw Activities:

  • Schedule the assignments for specific dates and times (Seesaw Plus or Seesaw for School users)
  • Use Seesaw icon shortcuts to add images to your directions. (7:50)
  • Use the Community Library to access the already made activities.
  • Share your activities with colleagues when you’re done by email, social media, and with the link.
  • Archive past activities to limit the work on your students timeline. If something happens that you need to access them again, you can always un-archive them. (9:18)

3. Privacy Settings (10:20)

One thing that was made very clear to me during my ambassador training, was that privacy and security settings are a priority with Seesaw.

  1. They never sell your data or students data
  2. They never advertise within Seesaw
  3. They don’t own the content you add to Seesaw
  4.  Student work is private to the classroom by default
  5. They use the latest security and best practices to protect its users
  6. They vow to be transparent about their practices and will notify its users if something changes

You can check out their full list of privacy guidelines on their website.

4. Seesaw Blogs (11:55)

This is an easy way for students to share their work with the global community online. Check out my previous podcast episode with Kathy Cassidy to learn more about the benefits of blogging.

  • Go to your class settings and click “enable blog”.
  • Once you’ve enabled the blog, students and teachers can select the work from their Seesaw portfolio that they want to be displayed on their class blog.
  • It’s safe, secure, and teacher-moderated.

5. Choice Boards (13:23)

Essentially, a choice board is an easy way to have multiple links in one activity for students to click on.

  • If you have a specific theme or topic that you want students to learn about and have more than 1 avenue for them to learn about it, like videos, articles or websites, you can add them to a Choice Board to easily organize and access it.
  • In order to make your choice boards, you’ll create them in Google Slides and input your links there and then eventually upload it to the multimedia link in your activity.
  • Check out the Choice Boards Webinar, led by Kris Szajner, to learn more.

There are so many more features I could talk about, but I’ll save it for next time! If you want to learn more about Seesaw, follow them on Twitter, Instagram, or join a group on Facebook.

If you have any questions about Seesaw or anything else I talked about in the podcast episode, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter (@amandajebrace).

Check out the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Anchor.

Happy listening!


The Final Chapter: Summary of Learning

#ECI831, Summary of Learning

Can you believe it? We are almost at the end of a semester. EC&I 831 has come and gone (minus a few small tasks that need to get finished, along with a real life hangout!), but other than that, the final chapter is almost complete.

My very first Masters class is coming to an end, and I am feeling proud of what I have accomplished in the last three months. It’s hard to believe how much I experienced and learned through the duration of this course. I am incredibly grateful for my classmates and professor who motivated and inspired me along the way. To demonstrate what I have learned throughout the course, I created a Summary of my Learning.

I had so many ideas of where to go with this project, but in the end, I am glad I went with a tool that was easy to learn and for the most part, easy to use. I heard about the tool Video Scribe from the media creation list that Alec suggested. I tried to use the free trial version, but it had the company label as the background for the whole presentation, so instead, I paid a hefty $35 for a one month subscription. Fortunately, in the end, it was worth the money because it was convenient and fun to use!

Even though the program was easy to use, my project still took a lot of time to plan and develop. I spent a lot of time writing my summary, figuring out how to use the program, recording my voice on Garage Band, finding all of the images and clip art, timing the presentation, exporting it, and the list goes on. However, all of my hard work paid off because my Summary of Learning is ready to watch!


Keeping the “Act” in Social Activism


Can a hashtag have impact? Can social media really cultivate change? In my experience, social media has enlightened me, inspired me, and has brought me awareness on various issues and topics, such as:

The power of social media has brought people together to fight for these issues (and more), created discussion and conversation surrounding the topics, and brought awareness to mass amounts of people. In other words, these movements were propelled through social activism.

Social activism can be broken down into two parts.

Social: It refers to using social media for activism. Social media becomes unique in the story of activism because, like Catherine says, it can “gain traction very quickly and draw in a large audience” due to its ability to share instantly.

Activism: According to Wikipedia, it is the “efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in socialpoliticaleconomic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society.” 

So in turn, social activism plays a large role in our society today when it comes to social justice issues.

However, is it enough? The current topic of debate in our #eci831 class is: Can social activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Daniel brings up an important point by saying “activism requires concrete actions and changes in behavior.” He goes on to say that using social media, such as changing a profile picture or retweeting a social justice issue, is the easy part. It’s much harder to spend time face to face, or doing something concrete, in order to bring change to a critical issue. In a Macleans article by Scott Gilmore, the term #slacktivism is highlighted. If you are new to the word, it’s “showing support for a cause with the main purpose of boosting the egos of participants in the movement.” In the article about #slacktivism, he writes:

“A slacktivist is someone who… will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head. The one thing slacktivists don’t do is help by, for example, giving money or time to those who are truly making the world a better place: the cancer researcher, the aid worker, the hospice manager.”

These are all valid points, especially since social activism can lack two big components: time and money. In saying that though, it’s important to remember the benefits that social activism can bring to our communities, our classrooms, and our world. Social media brings relevance to social justice issues through conversation and online discussions because “in today’s digital age it provides a voice for others“, a valuable point brought up by Curtis. Not only does it provide a voice for many, it also gives the opportunity to stand up for the marginalized on a larger level because it has the capacity to reach millions.

Yes, it can be dangerous to encourage social activism without action, but can it be meaningful and worthwhile? Of course. There are a lot of things to be critical about when it comes to social activism, but in the end, it’s important because it creates awareness, draws support, and brings forth a greater community for the cause.

Digital Citizenship in Social Activism

Digital citizenship plays an important role in social activism, especially in the classroom. However, the way that many educators have seen digital citizenship is much different than how it should be used in our classrooms today. Some may say that “digital citizenship can be defined as engaging in appropriate and responsible behaviour when using technology.”

Appropriate and responsible behaviour. Is that all digital citizenship is? Is that what it should be?

In my opinion, it goes far beyond the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the internet. In the words of Katia Hildebrandt, “Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online. It’s about participating in meaningful ways to promote equity in networked spaces.

If we want to raise a generation of young people who are inspired and motivated to create change, then we need to instil “digital leadership” in our students. In my latest podcast, I discussed the idea that George Couros brings up about moving from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership– “using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”

Using the internet in a responsible and ethical way is good, but using the internet to inspire and improve the lives of others is better.

Jennifer Casa-Todd brings up five important ways to use digital leadership in the elementary classroom:

  1. Empower others who have no voice
  2. Address societal inequality
  3. Promote important causes
  4. Learn and share their learning
  5. Be a more positive influence in the lives of others

Citizenship vs Digital Citizenship

Instead of separating citizenship and digital citizenship so distinctly with our students, we need to remember that technology and social media are integrated into their day-to-day lives. We should encourage them to be leaders in every aspect of their lives, including social media. Christy Fennewald brings up an interesting point when she says “citizenship doesn’t end when you shut down the laptop or silence the smartphone. It’s all around us. And it’s just citizenship, period.” As educators, we have the opportunity to cultivate student leaders and citizens who aren’t afraid of making positive change through social media.

Joel Westheimer talks about the 3 types of citizens:

  1. Personally Responsible
  2. Participatory
  3. Justice Oriented

In a recent presentation, Dr. Alec Couros draws attention to some examples that fall under the three categories of citizens, specifically online.

Image from Dr. Alec Couros
(from Catherine Ready‘s blog)
  1. The personally responsible citizen might sign online petitions, share inoffensive articles, or donate online to their favourite causes.
  2. The participatory citizen might develop and/or share petitions, initiate online fundraisers, or actively share or create information for the social good.
  3. The justice oriented citizen might share articles that disrupt normative thinking, engage in controversial and uncomfortable discussion, or campaign to work toward social change and equity.

The important difference between the three types of citizens is that the justice oriented citizen looks at understanding the underlying issue and acts to solve root causes.

How do we raise these types of citizens? As a primary teacher, implementing social justice in my classroom seems overwhelming at times. However, it helps when I start with empathy. Fostering a community of empathy and understanding is where I always begin. Once students have empathy towards others, they can start to create change.

It’s important for students to know that they are not too young to make a difference and their voices matter in the movement of social activism. As educators, it’s our responsibility to empower our students so that they can use their online presence to do something positive for our world.

So, is it possible for a hashtag to have impact? Yes, but it doesn’t just stop there. Let’s model and teach our students to move from participating citizens, to engaged and justice oriented citizens. We don’t want to forget the act in #socialactivism.

The Piano Project: Week 7- Experience Fuels the End Result

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

I had a glimpse of hope this week when I was reading sheet music and I didn’t have to say “All Cows Eat Grass” every time to remember the notes. That’s what I call progress! It helped that I practiced recalling notes through the Mad Minutes that Daina suggested. In my piano video this week, I displayed some of the work I have been doing to remember the notes in the Treble Clef and Bass Clef. Sometimes I feel as if learning an instrument as an adult is very difficult, and almost impossible, but then I receive encouragement like this: “The adult brain is also chock full of life experience, which can actually be beneficial when learning to play an instrument.”


I have realized that all of my past experience in music, such as playing guitar, singing in choir, or just listening to music intently on a daily basis, actually helps me in my process of learning the piano. Even if it takes me a while to learn the notes, know the keys, or remember the chords, I still have a vast amount of background knowledge and skills to give me the motivation I need in order to learn this new instrument. So as I near the end of this project, and when I feel discouraged that I don’t know enough, I will rely on the beauty of my experience.

So with that, here is the video of my experience from this week.

The Small Victories:

  • I was reminded by a colleague to play one hand at a time, because then I can focus on a smaller task rather than get overwhelmed by doing many tasks at once.
  • Knowing the finger placement for the Treble Clef notes is becoming more natural and efficient.
  • When I take time out of my day to play, I feel refreshed. I am realizing that playing music is a way for me to take a mental break.

The Challenges:

  • I feel as though I have been too ambitious when starting to learn a new song. Instead of learning a lot of information at once, I need to remember to break it into smaller chunks.
  • The new song I learned had sharps and naturals in the sheet music, which took me a long time to figure out how to play them properly.

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

  • I referred to the poll I put in my last blog post, which told me to learn the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” A friend found me the sheet music from the website Music Notes.
  • I practiced reading music notes with the Mad Minutes again this week.
  • I referred to the people in my life who could answer my piano questions and interject when I needed help on the spot.

Goals for Next Week

  • I am going to try using the app Trackd for collaborating on the song that my classmate Brad and I are going to play. I will add a piano track and vocals track so that Brad can add a bass guitar track. I have never used the app before, so here’s to hoping it’s user friendly and efficient!
  • I am going to focus on the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and make that my final piano song.

I am looking forward to spending the last couple weeks perfecting “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I am going to make this my main priority, instead of giving myself several small goals. Within this one song, there are many new things I can learn. Besides, who doesn’t want to get into the Christmas spirit?


The Piano Project: Week 6- Getting There…

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

Another week of my Major Learning Project has come and gone and I finally feel like I am getting somewhere. Instead of working on a variety of separate tasks, I focused on practicing “Part of your World“, the Little Mermaid song that I introduced last week. As I was practicing the song, I took into account all of the things I learned in my lesson with Danielle.

I focused on proper finger placement and reading the sheet music properly, both of which weren’t easy. I also added another goal this week- learning the chords of the song with the left hand. Even though it wasn’t an easy thing to do, with a lot of practice, it started to come more naturally. By the end of the week, I felt comfortable playing most of the chords while playing the melody with the right hand. I still feel like I can become even more fluent in playing the song, but I am proud of how far I have come in two weeks time.

If you want to see my progress with the song “Part of your World“, check out my recent video!

The Small Victories:

  • Even if it looked like a struggle, it only took me a short time to learn the chords for Part of Your World.
  • I spent a lot of time practicing this week, which helped me become more confident in my skills.
  • I am becoming more comfortable with reading sheet music!

The Challenges:

  • I am having difficulty remember the notes on the Bass Clef.
  • I need more practice with the C minor and the B minor chord.
  • It’s difficult to know the proper finger placement for new songs that I learn. I still need to refer to my piano-playing friends and Youtube videos for that part.

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

Goals for Next Week

  • I will keep practicing the Bass Clef notes with the Mad Minutes I used this week.
  • I am going to keep practicing the chords for the song that my classmate Brad and I are collaborating on. Who knew B minor 7 was so difficult?!
  • I want to learn a Christmas song! I created another poll for you to help me choose.

Thanks for being a part of my piano process so far. I have learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go. However, I have realized that even if I haven’t reached a particular end goal yet, I am getting there, and that’s just where I need to be.


Creating a Symphony Through OEP: Open Educational Practice in the Primary Classroom


“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock

Isn’t this the case with learning? We need community and connection with others to enhance our skills, passion, and depth. When we do this, similar to a symphony, something beautiful is created. How can we do that in the classroom? Through Open Educational Practice. Although you may question what this is, my guess is that you’ve probably used it without knowing, just as I did.

According to Catherine Cronin and Iain MacLaren, Open Educational Practice (OEP) is the “collaborative, pedagogical practices employing social and participatory technologies for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation and sharing, and empowerment of learners.”

K-12 Open Educational Practice (Roberts, Blomgren 2017)

In other words, in a primary classroom setting, OEP looks like giving students the opportunity to co-create their questions and end goals, take charge of their learning through online sources and platforms, and share their knowledge and experiences beyond the classroom to inspire others. In the words of Loreli Thibault, the intention of OEP “is to broaden learning from a focus on access to knowledge, to a focus on access to knowledge creation.”

There are many elements that make up this type of pedagogy in a K-12 Learning Environment, and Dr. Verena Roberts lays out the steps that can take you there through the Open Learning Design Intervention. I am confident that at one point or another, you have taken part in and facilitated some of these key elements of Open Educational Practice.

Stage 1: Building Relationships
Before starting any project in the classroom, a safe space needs to be established for students to feel like they belong and their voice is heard. This step is all about setting the stage and reassuring students that learning means making mistakes and growing from them. As educators, this should be our top priority in the classroom. Our students voices matter and building connection within our own community is key. Reminding kids that, throughout this whole learning process, they matter – a message that remains on my classroom door everyday.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways
This is where students can take part in co-creating their learning and sharing their desires for the learning process. Criteria is discussed, questions are posed, goals are set, choices are given, digital citizenship is instilled, and motivation begins. I really like how Dr. Verena states that this is where the deep learning occurs, which is sustainable, rather than limited and surface level. BC Campus says that “instead of using disposable assignments that offer no value to the student or the instructors, your students, under your direction and supervision, can build a resource designed to improve the learning space.” When students are asked to come up with their own questions and are given the responsibility to do their own inquiry, they show up and engage deeper.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge
Evidence of learning is displayed more formally in this stage. Throughout this whole process, students are expected to connect with outside resources, topic experts, and use Open Educational Resources online. The learners are able to engage with outside learning environments to gain valuable skills, knowledge, and experience, and then can represent their learning process in creative ways. When I asked Twitter for some examples of Open Educational Practices, one of the suggestions was a Gamified Classroom. Dean Vendramin does a great job of incorporating game-based learning in his classroom to increase engagement and life-long learning. Online tools and experiences, like this one, are a great way for students to show their learning processes and discoveries during this stage. Social media, blogs, podcasts, infographics, or digital storytelling tools are just a number of online options that enrich the learning experience.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks
How can we take our learning one step further? By allowing students to connect with others to build Personal Learning Networks, which expands their learning experiences beyond the classroom. This stage allows the students to share their voices with other students and outside sources. It brings the stages full circle, because it’s now building the relationships and trust outside of the classroom. They are able to reflect on their learning and use their voices and shared experiences for activism, connection, and empowerment. Kristen Wideen, an educator and author, went on a journey with her students called “Kids Can Create Change”. It allowed them to build Personal Learning Networks in order to promote “innovation, empowerment, risk taking, commitment, and skilled problem solving”. Through Twitter, they invited other classrooms to “identify a need in your school, community or in the world that you want to make better.” They created a global collaborative document on Book Creator app on how #kidscancreatechange so that other classrooms could share their experiences and ideas online. They wanted everyone to know that “even though they are young, they can create a huge impact.” This is an engaging yet simple way that students can develop empathy while empowering others around the globe.

OEP in the Primary Classroom
When I think of the type of learning that takes place in Open Educational Practice, I can recall some examples from my own experiences in my grade three classroom:

  • Skype Guess Who
    A game that connects classrooms in a fun and engaging way, similar to an experience like Mystery Skype, “an education game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype.
  • Twitter Challenges
    I have taken part in city-wide Twitter challenges, like the #yqreggdrop and #rbedropzone, which allowed students to use inquiry learning in order to connect and share experiences with other classrooms online.
  • Connecting with Experts
    With the internet, we have endless access to go beyond the four walls of our classroom. Instead of only reading information in textbooks, we are able to learn valuable information from the source themselves! My classroom connected with Barbara Reid, an author and clay illustrator, through Twitter. She responded to our learning process and gave us valuable information and feedback. She became a part of our journey, even though she wasn’t physically with us.

By accessing the Open Educational Resources of her website and Youtube videos, we created our own plasticine artwork based off of the type of illustrations she makes in her books. We completed the Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8: “Create art works using a variety of visual art concepts, forms and media and use “three-dimensional materials such as clay to create real textures.” When we completed our projects, we took pictures and displayed our learning on Twitter for others to see.

Even though I’ve taken part in Open Educational Practices in my primary classroom and have used pieces of the OEP stages, I have not yet completed the whole process of this type of learning. Sometimes it feels daunting to use OEP in an elementary classroom, and sometimes even impossible, but I believe that with dedication and an open mind, it is possible! I want to show you an example of how to apply it with your younger learners so that instead of it feeling intimidating, it feels motivating. By no means am I an expert with the concept, but it is something that I want to become more familiar with and encourage others to become familiar with as well.

Since I was close to hitting the target of OEP by connecting with the author and artist Barbara Reid, but didn’t quite use it to it’s full potential, I am going to show you how I would use this experience, or another art project experience, again using the stages of the Open Learning Design Intervention according to Dr. Verena.

Stage 1: Building Relationships

Before introducing the Visual Art Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes, set the stage for your students to understand that this learning experience is a process of sharing their voices and having their voices heard. Start with an informal, one-period, introduction lesson to build community in your class. Just as Barbara Reid tells stories through artwork, students should have the opportunity to share their own story before beginning their project.

  1. Display various art media for students to choose from, such as clay, pastels, water colours, paint, crayon, etc. Give them the choice of using the art medium that they connect with and enjoy using the most.
  2. They will create a visual representation with their art medium to tell a story about them, such as who they are or what they love to do, that they will later share with their classroom community.
  3. Once they have created their artwork, they will have a chance to share with their community. The class can gather in a circle and share their artwork and stories while they receive encouragement and support from one another.

Through this opportunity, students are able to listen to their community member’s stories, share their voices, build empathy and understanding, and create connections with one another.

Stage 2: Co-Designing Learning Pathways

In this stage, students will be introduced to the outcome, but instead of giving them all the same task, they will have choice in how they get there. They will have a chance to choose which artist they want to study and what type of art they want to model after. Not only does this apply to the original planned Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcome CP3.8, but it now applies to Saskatchewan Curriuclum Outcome CP3.7, which encourage students to “generate questions that arise from the investigation of a topic or area of interest to initiate inquiry” and “use guided Internet searches to investigate how artists use different art forms and media to express their ideas.”

  1. Create a virtual art gallery with an online tool like Book Creator app, or use a website like Bear Claw Gallery. Students will browse the artists and their style of art.
  2. As students are observing the art , they will decide which piece stands out to them or which artist they connect with the most.
  3. Once they have chosen the artist they want to study and the art they want to learn how to make, they will start asking questions.
  4. In the past, I have created “Wonder Walls” for students to pose questions, but in this project, I would use an online tool like Padlet to create questions on an online board so that teachers and other learners can be a part of the inquiry process. They will create questions they want to ask the artist and questions about the specific type of art the artist creates.

Stage 3: Building and Sharing Knowledge

Once students have their questions created, they will start building their knowledge in more explorative ways.

  1. Connect with artists (experts) online through Twitter, Skype, Blogging, or email. Skype in the Classroom is a great way for kids to meet the artists they are learning about, especially since there is a whole program dedicated to Guest Speakers. Since this is an art project, they will also use sources like YouTube to figure out how to create the specific style of art they are learning about. If the artist is not living anymore, they can reach out to other artists who use the same type of style or medium to teach the student about the process.

2. Primary students need more guidance when it comes to asking questions and finding answers, so using Guided Inquiry is a beneficial way to support younger learners. Read Write Think has a helpful Inquiry Chart template that “enables students to gather information about a topic from several sources.” Ross Todd and Lyn Hay also developed a Guided Inquiry Template that gives guidance to the learning outcomes and questions. You can also create an online guided inquiry template, like a journal, for your students through Google Docs or Seesaw.

3. After the questions have been researched and explored, it’s time for students to display their learning. Like I said earlier, students can use things like  Social mediablogspodcastsinfographics, or digital storytelling tools to display their learning. Instead of using closed platforms like Seesaw, try to use something that can go further than the classroom.

Stage 4: Building Personal Learning Networks

Now is the time to extend the learning beyond the classroom. Students will use their inquiry process and the knowledge that they built to teach students around the globe through the internet. They are now to take on the role of the teacher so that other students can learn from them in their own classroom.

  1. Use the tools of Time Lapse or Stop Motion to share their projects and to make artwork tutorial videos. Lori Thibault does a good job of using the feature of Fast Forward to share her learning and teach others about Unicorn Art. Once students create their tutorial video, they can share it on Youtube for other classrooms to watch and learn from.
  2. Students can also step foot into other classrooms virtually with a tool like Skype or Zoom. They can be the teachers in real-time and give a step-by-step art lesson. This connection now builds Personal Learning Networks for the students to take part in.

The WHY…

This is just one example of how to use the stages of Open Educational Practice in your primary classroom, but there is always deeper learning that can be done. As I become more familiar with this concept, there are still questions that linger…

  • How do we go even deeper when building Personal Learning Networks amongst classrooms? Are there enough classrooms committed to this type of learning in order to have an online community for our students?
  • How can we facilitate a learning environment for our students where they are encouraged to think critically and responsibly?
  • Are there enough resources for primary students to be able to take part in OEP in a rich and meaningful way? What happens if we don’t have all of the resources or don’t have the connections to all of the experts in our learning?

These are some questions that I have thought of throughout my time of using Open Educational Practice in my classroom. There are always challenges that arise, and there will always be obstacles that come up. However, do the benefits of this type of learning outweigh the negatives? Absolutely. When you use Open Educational Practice in your classroom, “you are inviting your students to be part of the teaching process, participating in the co-creation of knowledge.” Using OEP in your classroom deepens the learning experience, the community, and the connection. Students deserve the opportunity to create networks and build knowledge that extends past the classroom, because when they take part in this OEP process, they are actually creating a beautiful symphony!

To Share or Not to Share: A Teacher’s Take on Open Education


There is something to be said about the beauty of sharing. We teach our kids at a young age that the right thing to do is share with others. As we get older, the concept becomes even more prevalent in our lives. Sharing our time, resources, and wisdom with the people around us is vital.

Just a few weeks ago, I was half way through baking a pumpkin loaf and I realized I was missing an ingredient. So what did I do? I asked my neighbour if she could share some cinnamon with me. Without a question, she was over in minutes to deliver my missing ingredient. After she dropped off the ingredient, she ended up staying for a while to talk about her life and catch up on mine, which all started with the fact that she was willing to share with me.

Created on Canva

Sharing builds community. Sharing develops connection. Sharing inspires creativity.

As teachers, aren’t these the themes that we want to reiterate to our students? If we want to encourage our students to share with each other, then as teachers, we need to lead by example.

As educators, we can share our knowledge, ideas, content, and resources through Open Education. According to Blink Tower, Open Education matters because it is “a global movement that aims to bring quality education to teachers and students everywhere”.

To be more specific, Creative Commons states that Open Educational Resources are “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others”. In other words, when people are willing to share online what they created, they are contributing to the benefits of Open Education.

There’s no doubt about it: having access to so many resources and opportunities online has made my life as a teacher and my classroom environment WAY better. When it comes to planning lessons for my students, I have the ability to use online sources to help me teach rich and engaging lessons. When I need ideas or inspiration, I reach out to others for help online. All thanks to Open Education.

With everything, though, there is give and take.

As educators, it’s our responsibility to give back to the online community. In a video called “Sharing: The Moral Imperative”, Dean Shareski asks a thought provoking question- “Why would we hoard good teaching and learning?” Shouldn’t we be a part of the sharing process? I, for one, was challenged by this statement.

In the past, I have felt hesitant to share my ideas online. Here are some things that have gone through my head:

  • “my work isn’t good enough to share”
  • “what if others criticize it?”
  • “what if someone had that idea before me?”
  • “I worked too hard on this to just give it away for free”

Have you ever had these thoughts?

Self doubt is expected when it comes to sharing online. It just comes with the territory. However, the benefits of Open Education far outweigh the downfalls or negative feelings. When we are able to put our selfishness aside for the betterment of society and share what we have created, along with using what other educators create, we will see that, like Curtis Bourassa says, “teachers can and will make a positive difference”.

In my journey of learning about Open Education, I have come to realize that I have so much more to share. I want to contribute more to the online community of educators with my ideas, lessons, and talents. I have to agree with Matteo when he says “we should be a lot more mindful of the fact that we have benefited so much from others posting online, that we should ensure we set aside some time to share things we have created as well”.

So, now that I am motivated to share more online… how do I go about doing that? I have decided to start a list of some of the ways I know how to take part:

1. Blogging
First of all, blogging is a great way to learn from other teachers on specific topics or content, and share your own learning. Blogs are an informal way to get your message out there. Did you teach a cool science lesson to your students? Blog about it! Did you find a new strategy to teach in literacy? Blog about it!

Kathy Cassidy is someone who used blogging as a way to share what happened in her classroom so that other teachers can be inspired. Even though she is now retired from her classroom teaching role, her ideas still remain on the internet for others to learn from. Blogging allows your story to be told to countless people online for many years to come.

2. MOOCs
Did you know there is a way to get a high quality, free education, in the comfort of your own home? A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), can “provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale” that are completely free for anyone to enrol in. I had the opportunity to take part in a Digital Citizenship MOOC (DCMOOC) in 2014. I was motivated to learn skills around Digital Citizenship, so I was excited to join the community of life-long learners. At the end of the course, I created a video to demonstrate my online learning and inspire others to join a MOOC too.

3. Google Drive
I know it seems simple, and somewhat informal, but Google Drive is a great way to share resources as a teacher. Whenever I want to collaborate with other educators on a project or lesson, I use Google Docs or Google Slides. With its “View Only” feature, it allows other people to view and copy your resource without editing it. If you are looking to edit and collaborate with others, there are accessing levels within Google Drive that allow you to do so. David Boxer lays out the accessing levels clearly in his blog post, “Access levels in Google Drive when Sharing: View, Comment, and Edit”. There are many teachers who use Google Drive to share their ideas and lesson plans, and Aaron Warner does so in such an effective and productive way. Most recently, he organized an Election Resource for other Middle Years teachers to use. He has the ability to update the resource as he adds more links and lessons, and shares the new content through Twitter. Sharing through Google Drive is a way for educators to gain knowledge and discover new lessons in an accessible way.

These are just a few of the ways you can engage in Open Education.

What are some other ways you share your ideas online? Do you use Open Education to gain knowledge and ideas from others? How are you contributing to it?

We have an amazing opportunity to make a difference in education, but not just in the buildings we teach in. The beauty of Open Education is that we have access to people all over the world to teach us, to inspire us, to collaborate with, and to share with.

So, if you’re still wondering: to share or not to share? Be the neighbour. Share freely, create connection, inspire creativity.


The Piano Project: Week 3- Technology Trials

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

Has technology ever failed you? Has it ever frustrated you or let you down? Well, this week it did for me. Let me explain…

I was SO excited to have an online lesson with my friend through FaceTime this week. I loved the convenience of learning piano without leaving my house. During the call, I showed her all of the major chords I have learned in the past two weeks, and most recently, the B major chord that I had so much trouble with last week. We talked about goals I was having difficulty achieving, and what I wanted to learn more of.

She spent a lot of time teaching me about chord inversions, which according to Uber Chord, are when “notes of a chord can be reshuffled in any order… (and) will still remain the same chord but no longer be in ‘root position’”. I practiced chord inversions through the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the song that I learned the first week, and played it for her during the call. As she listened to my piano playing, she gave me tips and advice on how to improve my skills.

via giphy

After the call ended, I was thrilled with what I learned from her and how helpful the FaceTime piano experience was. Which brings us to the part in the story where technology failed me.

Did you know that when you use the screen record feature on your iPhone, it doesn’t automatically record the audio?

I probably should have done a little more research before I dove right in. Fortunately, I am going to take this as a learning experience. I did some digging afterwards and found out that all you have to do is change a setting on your phone. Conner Carey lays it out really clearly in his article “How to Screen Record with Audio on an iPhone”. All you have to do is hold the Screen Record button with 3D Touch and click “mic on” for the audio to work when you screen record. It’s as simple as that!

I found another silver lining through all of this. I learned how to overlay a video in iMovie! I watched the tutorial video from CalTalks Tech and quickly picked up on this new skill. Now you can take note of this amazing feature too!

Other than my screen recording mishap, I feel like there was a lot of success this week. I am becoming more comfortable playing notes and chords because of the practice I am doing with scales. I continue to gain more confidence with my skills and I am becoming more fluent with my piano playing. I hope that you notice my improvements and see just how much I have learned in the past three weeks in my latest vlog. Enjoy!

The Small Victories:

  • I can play the B major chord and the B major scale!
  • I learned how to play chord inversions for the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • I figured out how to turn audio on for Screen Recording on the iPhone
  • I learned how to overlay a video onto another clip in iMovie

The Challenges:

  • Technology… enough said
  • Playing more than 3 major chord inversions
  • Reading sheet music properly for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, since I am used to playing piano by ear. Similar to Daina’s experience with the clarinet, I have also “not spent enough time becoming familiar with sheet music”, which makes it hard to understand the notes I am supposed to play

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

Goals for Next Week

  • I want to learn another song with the focus on reading sheet music and using proper finger placement, considering I only played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star again this week
  • I want to have another lesson with someone through FaceTime, Skype, or in person, but with the technology working properly this time!
  • I want to learn and play all major and minor chords comfortably. I was thinking in order to practice the chords, I could get someone to say a chord to me (in person or through FaceTime again), and I will have to play it on the spot with my keyboard.

So my question for you is:

  • What song should I learn next? Should I start preparing a song for Christmas? Should I do a classic? Answer in the poll and I will choose the winner!

I am looking forward to my fourth week of learning piano! It’s been a learning experience so far, especially since I am using a vlog to document my process. Hopefully my improved piano playing skills next week will be music to your ears.


The Piano Project: Week 2- Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

#ECI831, Major Learning Project

Have you ever practiced something over and over, but still had trouble succeeding with it? That’s me and the B major chord. The B major chord is the bane of my existence. This week, my goal was to learn the tonic triad of the 6 major scales- C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. Some of the chords were simple and easy to learn. Other chords, like the B major chord, took a lot more practice. They say practice makes perfect, but at this point, it sure isn’t perfect.

Luckily, you don’t have to “master every skill you learn” and “you can usually achieve the goals you set yourself in around 20 hours of deliberate practice” according to the article by Josh Kaufman called “It Takes 20 Hours Not 10,000 Hours to Learn a Skill”. Thanks to my classmate Brooke for posting this article on Twitter to encourage and help us with our Major Projects. With a little persistence, I’ve realized that just because I don’t master something within the first week, it doesn’t mean that I won’t succeed at it. So as for the B major chord, I won’t let it get me down.

Just like week one, I created a Vlog to demonstrate my process and experiences, including the frustration with the B Major Chord. I hope this video gives you a little more insight on what I’ve been learning this week.  

The Small Victories:

  • I learned the melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the right and left hand with proper finger placement. Thanks to Catherine for suggesting the idea of speaking the notes out loud as I play the song. It really helped me learn the notes quicker!
  • I learned how to play the tonic triads with 6 of the major chords
  • I can confidently play the D scale with proper finger placement

The Challenges:

  • The B major chord!
  • I found it hard to read the notes in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star instead of playing it by ear (which comes more naturally to me)
  • I still need a tripod… which means filming can be a balancing act at times!

The Resources:

This week, I used these tools to help me learn:

  • I also used Thomas Lemmon’s video to help me understand the finger placement for the D scale

Goals for Next Week

  • In Josh Kaufman’s article about learning a new skill, he suggests that we will have more success if we “break the skill down into smaller parts” through “deconstruction”. I have decided that, since I am still not confident in playing the B major chord, I will learn the B scale next and tackle it head on so that I know the notes that go into the chord
  • I want to meet with a piano player in person, over Skype, or through FaceTime to make sure I am on the right track and to learn more about finger placements with scales and chords
  • I will learn the melody of another basic song so that I can practice reading sheet music and finger placement

Even though I have a desire to master the piano, I know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. So here goes another week of practice, patience, and soon enough, triumph over the B major chord. Stay “tuned’!