Draw and Tell

This week we were tasked with finding and reviewing an app.

I used a few different ones last semester in my ECI 834 that I quite enjoyed.  My focus at that time was for a middle years classroom.

This semester, I decided to look for something elementary, as I am spending a decent amount of time in a 1/2 room.

My first approach was to google search education apps. Initially I was quite disappointed.  Everything that came up were consumption apps for lack of a better term.  In my opinion, gamification of flashcard type activities.  I tried searching best children’s creation apps, and found blog.ed.ted.com had a listing of some adds that were listed as creative.

I read through the list, there were a few on there like Animoto, that I had played around with last semester, but the one that stood out to me was the Draw and Tell.  Our early elementary teachers have been using a professional resource called Talking, Drawing, Writing.

It is a great resource, and I thought I would check out the app and see if it would be possible to blend the two.

What I liked:

I liked that it was free.  When I downloaded and opened the app, it is in partership with Khan academy, which I really like.

I liked that the kids can pick background paper or plain blank paper.  They have the option of crayons, pencil crayons, or paintbrushes in a variety of colours.  They can also use photos they have on their device in their stories. There are several stickers that the kids can add to their story and can manipulate them while they record their voices.  There are some pictures there for colouring that may help reluctant story tellers get an idea.  It would also work for having students tell stories using a picture.

The app itself is super easy to use, and I like that it counts down out loud to the kids so they know when they need to start talking.  The kids can illustrate several pages and create a mini book as well.  It is easy to save the photos/video and then just upload them in SeeSaw or whatever LMS or sharing system you may be using in your classroom.

For little kids, the limited ability to share easily is a plus in my mind.

The downfalls:

I don’t think there are enough stickers.  It would be nicer if you could also take photos from the internet or your device and use them as stickers.  I think that may be somewhat limiting for story-telling.  I also wonder if several students are using the app, it only saves to photos on the device, there isn’t an option to save to a certain file.

Overall I liked the ease. I think for kids grade 1 and under it is great.  It can work for grade 2 depending on the level the student is working at.



Crocheted it till my fingers bled….

I got my first real cowl yarn,

Bought it at the Michael’s store,

Crocheted it till my fingers bled

Was the summer of ….


Ok, it’s actually winter.

Come on, no Bryan Adams fans in the group?

I can keep going for another stanza…


Me and some books and YouTube,

I concentrated and I tried real hard.

Didn’t quit, didn’t get angry,

Who would’ve know I’d ever make it this far.

Really- my finger did bleed.  Small tear in the nail got caught in the yarn and before I knew it, ended up with a very short, and very sore nail.  It made for some difficult crocheting from then on.

I am about 2/3 of the length of the cowl now.  It is pretty easy to see the beginning is the top of the picture.  My stitches have gotten quite a bit better as I have continued on.  Reading ahead in the pattern, I will have some figuring out to do on joining it together, and then on the stitches around the circle.  It is all single crochet at that point, and I’m good at the stitch now, just not too sure on following the pattern with it yet.

I am actually quite enjoying the project.  I have no doubt that this will not be the end of my crocheting.  I don’t know that I will ever get to the same level that I am with knitting, but I’ve been liking it none the less.


It might be a long, cold winter…

I have to say that I have been enjoying my project a little too much.  Too much time going into playing around with different stitches, and likely not enough on other things.

Where I am so far:


I can single crochet, double crochet, half double crochet and create a granny square.

I decided the weather is getting chilly, and who doesn’t like a scarf.  I found some nice yarn and decided that I would start on a project.


Apparently on a scale of easiness, this one shouldn’t be so bad.

and it turns out it isn’t.

Knowing how to knit and how to read a pattern was very helpful to me.  Even though the stitches are different, the idea is the same.  I also borrowed this book from a friend and it helped a lot with how to read the pattern and the abbreviations.

After about 4 hours, this is where I have gotten to:

The tension isn’t amazing, but generally it does look like the pattern is supposed to.  After completing the long straight part, there is an edging that goes around.  I’m hoping that will make it look a little more finished.

I have to pick up the pace a little to get this thing completed by the end of class.  It doesn’t move along too quickly!

Are My Ideas Worth Sharing?

I wouldn’t always say immediately- but in a general sense… yeah they are.

Do I always share them- face to face…yeah I do.


So what’s my problem with sharing them online?

I honestly think it is all about comfort level.  And not comfort level of sharing with people I don’t know.  I love attending conferences and always have meaningful discussions with people at my table group, or people I sit with for meals.

Somehow, the sharing I have experienced online is just not the same.  I have found great information, and followed some great blogs and interesting people on Twitter.  I find excellent information, which I immediately connect to and question by watching the videos assigned each week.  I take the information, and share it with friends and colleagues face to face.  Sometimes I will send them the link, and then we discuss it face to face after they have had a chance to look at it as well.  I recognize that this type of sharing limits who I am able to share ideas with, and this is very likely limiting my interactions and opportunities for personal growth, but sharing online just does not feel authentic in some way to me.

After reading several blogs, I am certainly able to make connections.  I completely agree with Ashley that more time has to be set aside so more sharing can happen within schools and meeting time.  I’m with Marley that I love to talk about teaching and resources, but somehow for me it’s still a stretch for me to make that interaction work for me in the context of the online world in this format.

This weeks TedTalk video was likely my favourite this semester.

Johnson asks the question, “What is the space of creativity?”  Continually we look to schools to produce students who are creative thinkers, yet we often don’t provide the space.  As we have read and viewed in the last several weeks, ideas are seldom our own, rather we build on others ideas, change and shape our thoughts into new ideas that we continue to build upon.


If this is true, that the greatest ideas are built on others ideas, and that original ideas often morph into something else- then we are unlikely to build creativity and great ideas at school.

I love how Johnson talks about ideas being likely to come together in chaotic environments.  I think that schools have started to really look at ways in which we have our kids collaborate more, not have to sit in structured rows, and work quietly on their own all the time.

In schools we have a strong push to make it OK for kids to make mistakes, we even say that it’s OK for professionals to make mistakes- but in both scenarios mistakes aren’t talked about a whole lot, and when they are talked about, it is more about correcting it, which implies that the answer was known all along, not inquiry.

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If ideas take time to come together, and I know they do for me, we often don’t allow for it.  We only have 2.5 months to get through the Earths Crust unit.  Questions or ideas that come from that will no doubt have to wait for 3 years until the curriculum spirals again.  Same goes for meetings.  If you can’t figure it out in the 3 hours allotted, then wait 5 years until the policy or AP is revised.

We do a great job in education with intellectual property, not sharing so much. Who has had nothing but success with group work?

Group Project Dillemma

Inevitably someone, or someone’s parent is not happy with the mark.

Is university different- nope.  I think we have all done a couple projects for other people to get marks.

The thing with sharing- is that someone is always going to have more to share or give on certain things.  And we have to be OK that sometimes we will give more, sometimes we will get more, and in the end there will be mutual benefits.  In our world though, that means a lot of the competition would have to leave, and I’m not sure that we are ready for that.

In the end, do I share enough online?  NO

Will I start?  I hope so.  I think that it is something that I have to continue to work on.  It’s learning a new communication skill, that I currently need a lot of practice with.  The benefit of learning to share online is that you are able to connect with those people who share your passions and interests, even if they are a half a world away!

granny square, granny square, what’s wrong with you?

My learning project is progressing.  I can’t say smoothly.

I was going back and forth between videos and written instructions.  This is because the video moves too fast for me- or too slow in some cases.  Some people clearly have created these things simply to hear themselves talk.

This is the video that I finally decided upon.  The music will grow on you I promise.  I found videos that last anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 minutes to complete the same task.  This one was somewhere in between, which is really why it became a main contender.  I don’t want to sit and listen for 10 minutes about why you took up crocheting on your own, or why you prefer one solid colour to the starburst pattern.  I am not a patient person that way, and just want to get to what I want to learn.  I also struggle with videos that have kids crying in the background, dogs barking, etc.

The pace on this video was good for where I am at.  If I hadn’t yet figured out the chain stitch and the double crochet stitch pretty decently, then I would really have struggled with the pace for these directions.  I find the videos helpful because I can just pause them until I catch up, although, like I said, this one worked out pretty well with the exception of the corners initially.  I have heard people say that the granny square is the first crocheting that they have done.  Not impossible, but I would suggest if you are learning it through a video, that I would start with the double crochet before attempting the granny square.

In the last few weeks I have been able to get the hang of both single and double crochet stitches.  As of late I have been tackling the granny square.  (Below is the photo of what it should look like, completed in one colour.)

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According to many websites, It’s really easy to crochet a granny square.

I wouldn’t be bold enough to say they were lying- however easy is a relative term.  I will agree insofar as to say that it is getting easier.

To begin, I wasn’t able to get a square.  I was working more on a granny round.

I’m not going to lie.  It took many attempts to get a square going.

Even after finishing one full round and making a corner to start the next round, I continued to struggle to get onto the next round.  Once I discovered that my mistake was in the corner turn, it worked out.  Eventually, I was able to make it work out and complete one.

The stitches aren’t hard once you’ve figured it out, however getting the right tension remains slightly elusive for me. If it weren’t so frustrating, I could see how this would be a relaxing pass time!

This week I am going to complete my granny square Christmas dishcloth- wish me luck!

you get what you pay for?

How many times have you heard that said?

And how many times has it been true?

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Where do I stand with these quotes?  Somewhere in the middle….

The best things in my life are my kids and my husband, are they free?  Sort of.

I didn’t pay up front, but they haven’t been free for the past 25 years either.

When I go back to thinking about my kids, I can’t help but recognize the privilege that they have enjoyed simply by being born to us.  They have fairly well educated, decently paid parents.  That has allowed many advantages. One of the few, is the ability to come up with money to pay for education for them, and not come out of university with the same massive student loan that we did for 15 years.Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have the loans available, but I can’t help but question how many companies profited from my degree- certainly there were greater benefactors than the UofR.

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This weeks assignment had us look at some open education sources.  I of course looked at them from the perspective of what I could use as a teacher in my classes.  I have used Khan academy in the past with middle years students for math and it has been effective.  My kids always enjoyed using it, and I found that it worked well within a math classroom where I had groups working on different assignments.  In addition, I used it to supplement my instruction: I’m not a math scholar, and I found that the explanations were good.  Many of my more independent students used it almost like a tutorial.

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I looked into the TedEd this week.  I’m not sure why, but I had never used it. I, like Dani found that it was very easy to use.  The search was great, I could choose a subject, choose an academic level, and could do additional learning if I chose.

It was also interesting to me to read about how TedEd is used by students in Vietnam in Thanh’s post. The fact that it is being used around the world speaks to the diversity and global interests that are served and represented in the different videos.

TedEd reminded me quite a lot of EdPuzzle, which I used in my class a few times after being shown it last spring. Many of the same capabilities exist, such as clipping the video, having questions etc.   In some ways, I still prefer the EdPuzzle for a traditional classroom, because it allows you to stop and embed the questions right into the video, or add additional information in the exact spot in the video that you want, rather than referencing and returning to that part of the video if you need hints after.

I liked that as soon as I created my TedEd account, I immediately got an email with some “getting started” advice which certainly was user friendly.   TedEd is certainly something I would use, and I did share it with a couple teachers on our staff.

One thing that seemed the same for many of the OER’s that I scanned through this week is that they are post secondary focused.  There wasn’t much I found in terms of using in a K-12 setting.  I’m wondering if it is because there isn’t really a market at a school age level as education is free in Canada anyway?

The other difficulty I can see is accessing and finding credible sources.  I did a google search just for “free textbooks online”.  While there were many (554 000 000) results, I’m not sure that I would know where to start looking.  It would take a lot of leg work to trace back for credibility.

I go back to nothing in the world being free- and although I notice donation tabs on a few of the OER sites, it may be time consuming to find out where the money comes from to fund the resources, I can’t imagine that many people write entire textbooks out of the goodness of their hearts.

With funding comes bias, and my questions continue….

I’m willing to share: just not my cookies or my toothbrush

But do I have things that you would want?

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Like I’ve said before, I do a lot online in terms of finding resources, doing professional reading, following Twitter for ideas.  Do I share a bunch?  No.

I’m on there looking for ideas to do things differently and better, what do I do, or what do I know that could possibly benefit someone else?

I’ve never really created anything 100% on my own, I’ve taken ideas from all over the place and made them work.  Why would I share that?  Especially with people I don’t know, and who didn’t ask for it?  These people can surely compile the same information that I have.

Dean Shareski makes some key points in his Moral Imperative video.  Education is about sharing.  I share with teachers in my buildings, give them unit plans that I have made, send them links of resources that I have found, gone into classrooms and team taught concepts, and modeled lessons for teachers new to a grade or subject that I had experience with.  Shareski talked about the “Obligation to teach outside the building”.  This struck me in a couple ways.

  1. If what I’m doing in my own building is helping other teachers within my building, it would likely help those in other buildings
  2. The second one is more thought provoking for me, as I teach in a building that has high rates of absenteeism. Although I believe attendance is key in education, it isn’t always happening that kids are attending school.  My first response to sharing in education was with other professionals; however, the impact of sharing classroom lessons and resources online with non-attending students could be life-changing for some.  As a teacher, absenteeism was my nemesis- that hasn’t changed as an administrator.  I constantly hear, “I can’t teach them if they aren’t here”.  Not really true in this day and age.

Shelby talks about how as adult learners we look to the internet to understand new concepts, and use it like a tutor.  I think we are getting better at teaching students to be proactive in their own learning somewhat- but I still see a lot of teacher centered instruction happening as well.  Most of the students that I encounter are not able to take responsibility for their own learning of school work, it continues to be the teachers fault if they are not successful. Interestingly enough, they are learning about many things outside of school on the internet, and creating content and posting to things like YouTube complex learnings and ideas.

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Where is the disconnect?  Could it be that 12 year olds are not interested in the GDP of Canada? Is it because the younger generation is more willing to share their ideas without being paid for them?  Is it because they are more at ease with connecting with people from all around the globe? Is it because they don’t get caught up in copywrite? Maybe it’s just that they like to see themselves online?

I think the disconnect in sharing willingly and effectively online is with adults. Adults like compensation for sharing, and although the idea of teaching being about sharing is true, sites like Teachers Pay Teachers are bringing in a lot of money for sharing resources.

I think another disconnect may be because there is a different value placed on the learning that happens at school and the learning that happens as a “hobby” for lack of a better word in my opinion.  Ze Frank’s notion of life being lived “out there” in virtual spaces is how most all people are interacting now- young and old alike.  And why not, you can access people who have similar interests, learn from experts in the field, connect with friends and family that you otherwise wouldn’t.  Yet somehow, in my opinion, these interactions and learnings are somehow viewed as lessor than those that happen face to face. To me they are also lessor for young people than older people.  If I spend 2 hours online looking for ideas for work or reading professional resources, I am “working”, when kids spend hours online, they are just lazy and unable to interact with their peers without technology.  What is considered to be knowledge is also determined by society.

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I believe that learning in our society isn’t real unless you end up with a diploma/certificate, or a grade. It still appears to me that knowledge is something that in our society requires that you have paid for it for it to be acknowledged.