Beyond the Glass

Reflections on education in a connected world. Jackie Sakatch

A song that filled my heart.

Four years ago my class used the song The First Time I Saw Snow by Jared Sagal as the foundation for our performance at the winter concert.  The words of the song rang true for so many of  my students who were new to Canada and snow was a novelty and a challenge.

I remember contacting Jared Sagal by email and asking if we could use the song in our performance.  He was surprised that I had found it and told me to use the song and enjoy.  He asked that I send a copy of the performance to him so that he could enjoy it.  I was so excited and grateful for the use of this magical song.

I took pictures of my students and created a slideshow that played on a screen behind them.  During the interlude of the song each of my students spoke into a microphone and finished the sentence the first time I saw snow…  Unfortunately,  I do not have a copy of our presentation anymore but it was well received by families.

I had not thought about Jarad’s generosity for a while but after completing #eci831 and exploring open access resources, I once again am grateful to Jared Sagal for allowing me to use his music to share our story.

I hope you take a couple of minutes and enjoy the song.

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My Magic Carpet Ride

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Wesley Fryer

I have just completed the  sixth of the ten required courses to receive my Masters in Education degree from the University of Regina.  A few years ago I could not imagine myself on this educational journey.  For the longest time I never imagined enter a Masters program.  Frankly I didn’t think I was smart enough to get a Masters’ degree and I wasn’t sure I had the time or that I wanted to invest the time into reading journal articles.  I started to consider the possibility when my sister completed her Masters’ degree and my husbands work situation changed and my ability to bring in more income become vital in order to help support my family I needed to get my Masters’ degree. An administrator gave me the final nudge and suggested to me that I should consider getting my Masters and she wonder why I hadn’t already.  I had a lot of excuses why I couldn’t go back to school I was a mom, I worked full time, and I was scared.  Twenty years ago when I completed my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Saskatchewan you had to go to the library, use a big book to find search terms, and go to the shelves to get the journal article you wanted to read.  When you wanted to register for a class you stood in line all night to get a number so that you could stand in another line to register.  I had no idea how to get an article from the library in my living room or to register for courses from my computer at midnight.  I think I was at least two or not three versions of APA style behind.  I was positive I had lost my academic voice and would not have a clue how to write a research paper.

Then My Magic Carpet Ride began.

I took my first class from Dr. Shauneen Pete.  My eyes were opened to issues of social justice and the crisis facing First Nation and Metis children in a way that changed me.  The first two page reflection I wrote for that class must have taken me twenty hours to complete.  The annotated bibliography assignment we had I could have complete fifteen times over with the amount of resources I gathered and look through trying to find the perfect fit.

My next class laid the foundation of educational research.  Thanks to Dr. Paul Hart and my classmates I began to understand phenomenology, grounded theory, narrative inquiry and so much more.

In my next class  I started to believe that I could be successful in the Masters’ program, that I wasn’t faking it.  I did belong.   I must thank Dr. Andrea Sterzuk for helping me become a better writer.  I started to realize what I was thinking did matter and that my teaching experience provided a unique perspective into classroom discussions.  That what I was wondering about and the time I was willing to take to research my question was a valid response to the material being presented.  I stated to realize that this learning opportunity was for me.  I wasn’t interested in playing at learning I was interested in learning.  I had questions that I wanted to examine.

The ECE summer institute with Dr. Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace changed me personally and professionally.  To be immersed in the process of learning and creating was amazing.  To be free to learn and experience in a risk free environment without the worry of how will I be marked on what I was creating. I did not have to ask myself is my participation worth an 80, 85 or 90 was incredible freeing.  What mattered was the process of being present not how well you could dance, sing or tell a story.

This fall I decided to try an online course which was a new experience for me.  Connecting online with my peers and the world gave me the gifts of numerous professional development opportunities.  I started to synthesize the information from the Summer Institutes and the ideas of creativity and connectedness.   My world change again.  Dr. Alec Couros, someone I had heard so many great things matched and surpassed his reputation.

Now my carpet ride would not be possible without the support of my husband, Keith, my niece, Kelsey and my parents.  Knowing that Ben, my son is well taken care of, loved and developing his independence makes the carpet ride that much easier.  I am forever grateful to you for allowing me the time and space to peruse my educational dream.  Ben, I hope that I am teaching you something about the importance of education, the importance  setting priorities and of making a commitment and sticking to it.  Thank you Ben for waiting that minute while I finish reading an article.  I love when you  sit and watch a TED talks with me.  Your insight always amazes me.

I am blessed to have had wonderful, passionate, knowledgeable instructors to guide my journey.  I am excited to continue my learning adventure next term.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Leland Francisco


Wow – That is Cool!

After summarizing my digital project, reflecting on being a connected educator and providing an overview of my learning throughout #eci831 I realized that I had written some blog posts that where important and I wanted to document that growth as well.

ds 106 Haiku it Up!  – The ds 106 assignment bank provides suggestions for daily creativity.

Playing with Puppet Pal 2 – An app that is fun and easy to use to create stories.

Fun with Makey Makey – An opportunity to explore the maker movement.

Minecraft –  I was curious about Minecraft and wanted to know more about how to play and how violent the game was.

The Scoop on & Flipping with Flipboard – Two different ways to curate.

Reddigifts for Teachers 2013 – My first unboxing video.  I received a great gift for my classroom.

A way of sharing classroom activities – Smilebox

Giving the Greatest Form of Communication –  A powerful video about generosity that I was able to connect to the idea of open access at the end of #eci831.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Petras Gagilas

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Summary of Learning

My goal for this term was to develop an understanding of how to use social media and open education with children in grade one and two  and to begin to use the material I was using in my classroom and at home with my son.  When I thought about creating my Summary of Learning, I felt that it was important to stay with the theme of working with children online so I decided to have my son interview me about my experiences in #eci831.   Below is the interview outline that I created.

Today we are going to about my mom’s social media and open education university class. 

What did you learn about social media? 

What did you learn in your class that you can use in your classroom? 

  • Updated the classroom blog, added Twitter, and have started tweeting with my class.
  • I am thinking about how I can experiment with the Makey Makey in my classroom.
  • I talk to kids about Mindcraft and other games that are important to them and try to include the things that kids learn from games in my teaching.

How do you help your kids stay safe online? 

  • Model how to be safe
  • Talk about being a good citizen – on and offline – you need to be the same on and offline.  Both interactions are real.
  • Monitor students activities
  • It is important not just to create content but also to comment on other people’s content.
  • Computer equipment stays in an open place in our house.
  • Monitoring and posting Ben’s videos on YouTube

What is open education?

  • Sharing and using materials that have been licensed to be used.  You need to look at the license that a picture or song is put online and be respectful of the person that posted it.  You need to be aware of copyright.  Creative Commons Search
  • Do you know when you brainstorm – and one person has an idea and then the next person adds to that idea – being an open educator means you are part of a community where you add to the ideas of others, you might reuse their materials in a different way and you let others use your materials.  You use pingbacks in your blog to build on and support ideas in your blog.  You are generous with your ideas and materials.
  • MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – Two types – One that focuses on teaching you content from a prescribe course outline and the other where you work as a community to generate and support each other.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Mary St George

My Commitment to Further Learning

  1. Continue to use Twitter in the classroom.  Develop a 140 square grid to help my children create tweets.  Add a Twitter job to our classroom jobs so that tweeting becomes an embedded part of my instructional practice.
  2. In my classroom follow and comment on other classroom blogs and learning.
  3. Continue to work with my son to develop his digital identity and YouTube channel.  When he is ready, I would like to help him develop his own blog.
  4. Be respectful and mindful of copyright.  Search for and use materials that are licensed through Creative Commons.
  5. When I upload material, I will use a Creative Commons license so that I communicate my intentions for that material.
  6. Continue to be an active community member on Twitter by adding members to my Professional Learning Network, contributing materials and ideas, and participating in chats.
  7. Explore and experiment with new online tools and ideas using my PLN for support if I require help.
  8. Continue to follow and read blogs created by other educators.
  9. Continue to blog.

The Gift of Openness


Slide from:

David Wiley will be presenting to our #eci831 class on November 26, 2013.  In his Ted talk, he speaks about openness, generosity, and sharing in education.  David Wiley concludes that the more open we are in education the greater the improvements will be to education.

In the #eci831 class, we have experienced and benefited from the generosity of openness from these presenters:

Each of these presenters has exemplified their understanding and commitment to open education by sharing of their time and talents with us.

I believe another example of openness occurs on Twitter during a chat.  This Saturday morning I participated in #satchat I was looking through the overnight tweets, saw the hashtag and thought it was a great opportunity to follow the conversation.  The topic of the day was how to engage your staff in free professional development.   A few things that I thought during the chat was how consistent the message of the importance of educators being connected.  I was impressed with how open and giving the people participating were.  People shared strategies and blog article freely, and how it was easy to participate.  I think many of the people participating in the chat understood the concept of openness in the advancement of education.

Robert Munch  shares a humorous look at how we encourage sharing in the Kindergarten classroom in the book We Share Everything.  Occasionally I have worked with teachers who view sharing as a negative and wish to keep materials and ideas to themselves. I wonder what happens as we move through educational institutions and potentially become less willing to share resources, time, and energy than we expect a five year old in Kindergarten to share.    During his presentation on Open Education Alec Couros mentioned the website Teachers Pay Teachers a website where teachers can purchase materials created by other teachers.  Alec also shared the Open Educational Resources (OER) organization where content is  Creative Commons licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-ShareAlikes unless otherwise noted that teachers may access  instructional materials.  I plan to spend more time exploring the resources available on the OER website.

At the beginning of the course Alec Couros asked us to consider how are you contributing to the learning of others?  At first, I thought this meant commenting on other students’ blogs and being active on Twitter.  I think it is broader than that now.  I think what needs consideration is how you will be open and generous as you educate.  What will you be willing to share to advance the education of others?

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Gideon Burton


ds106 Haiku it up!

Alan Levine introduced #eci831 to the ds106 site.  I decide to try a random assignment and the Haiku assignment was generated.   The assignment is to pick an image and create a Haiku.  The Riders game was on TV so I decided to use that for my Haiku inspiration.  I went to The Daily Shoot Pool and I admit entered Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Saskatchewan Roughriders Logo in the Endzone

Chamblin lead the men

For a Trip to the Grey Cup

A cold dream home game

I think that the ds 106 website provides exciting assignments that could be used in elementary school classrooms at the middle years level.  I think this is a great way to encourage risk taking and connect students.  I am wondering if anyone has tried this in their classroom.


Playing with Puppet Pal 2

Alan Levine, cogdogblog, inspired my #eci831 class with his What Mean Ye Storytelling  presentation on November 12, 2013.  Alan provided us with a number of interesting links about storytelling.  One of the key points that he made was that the creation of the story was as important or more important than the tool you use to share your story.  This being said the Wiki space Web 2.0 50+ Ways to Tell a Story provides a 1-2-3 process for telling  a story.  The resource links are amazing!

My son was watching me search through the numerous tools on the 50+ Ways to tell a Story Wiki space and he grew impatient with me trying to find a tool and organize a story.  There is something to be said for the spontaneity of children opposed to my desire to find the perfect outcome.  He suggested we make a story using  Puppet Pal 2 app which was recommended by Jessica.

We sat down together and at first had selected the space theme but we were disappointed that their is not a space ship to choose.  The space background also does not scroll like the town one does.  Ben thought it was important that we could move our puppets.  Here is our silly story about Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

Now I want to give the 1-2-3 process for telling a story as suggested by Alan.

What storytelling processes have you tried?  What are the keys to your writing process?  What tools do you like to use?


Blog Renovations and Improvements

tools of the trade

This weekend I started to make this blog my blog instead of a blog that I am creating for a University course.  I started by adding a tag cloud and a widget that shows the blog I follow.  I also personalized the blog by adding a Professional Development page.  All teachers in Regina Public Schools are required to document their Professional Learning and Development.  In the past, I have completed a goal form that I have shared with my administrator and colleague.  I wanted to show my learning in a digital format.  I have added the University classes I have taken and the Provincial Math Learning Community that I am a member.  I am thinking about the format that I want to use to add my Professional Development goals to the page.

Another decision I made was to add a digital citizenship resources page.  I thought it was important to compile some resources for teachers and parents to help them feel comfortable having their children become members of the connected world. While I am helping my son develop his digital identity through his YouTube channel and I work with my students to send out Tweets and comment on blog posts I often thought about what I needed to say to make sure that the children and I had the necessary skills to be good digital citizens.   I created a blog page for this and started to embed videos and links but I found the list complicated and hard to scroll through so I decided to try livebinders. I have had a livebinders  binder posted on my literacy links page of my classroom blog for the last number of year.  I had never created my own livebinders binder.  As I was reading blogs, I noticed that Greg, Lyane, and Rochelle  all mention using it to organize resources.   I liked the tutorial livebinders provides when you first create your account.  I found them helpful but not too complicated.  I embedded the binder into my digital citizenship page and deleted all my other links that I had added earlier.

I would love to hear any comments you have about my blog improvements.
Children at school


Pigtails? A Piggy Back? No a Pingback!

When I first read the course assignments for #eci831 and read that I need to include pingbacks.  I admit the first thing my brain thought of was pigtails.

Pink Eye and Pig Tails

I quickly realized we weren’t going to be spending our time learning how to style hair (unless of course you choose that as your learning project).  My brain quickly jumped to the idea of a piggy back.  Now the more I learn about a pingback the more I think that the visual image of a piggy back ride is not so far off.   Sue Waters explains a pingback as including a link to another blogger in your post.  (Just like that!)

Piggy Back

How do I connect a pingback to a piggy back?  Well when you are brainstorming we often “piggy back” off of an idea of what the person before us says.  We add, modify or give an example of the idea that the person before us has suggested and deepen our understanding and perhaps create a new idea that solves the problem that lead to the brainstorming session.

I sent Alec Couros an email asking him about plagiarism and group discussions.  Some of the text of the email is below:

 I remember last year in a class I was taking we were put into groups to discuss our plans for our final project. People were really reluctant to share their ideas. Then we started to talk about why they were uncomfortable and it came back to the new online program that they had to take before they started their Master’s program about plagiarism. One of the things that someone in the group shared was that it was considered plagiarism to use an idea a group member shared in a discussion in your paper or project. I was in my Master’s program before the online course was implemented so I am not 100% sure of the accuracy of that statement.

It’s not accurate. If you cite where you got the idea from if it fact it is not your own idea, then it is definitely not plagiarism. I think most people are simply not confident enough about their ideas, or they think that they have nothing new to contribute. I often show them this:

I participated in a webinar hosted by The Daring Librarian where Sue Waters was presenting.  One of the points that people at the webinar made was that you should never apologize for what you are blogging or how often you post.  This reminded me of the blog post by Shauna Drackett where she questions if what she is blogging about is interesting enough and relevant?  Shauna concludes that in her blogging all she can guarantee is the satisfaction of a completed blog post and the thinking that she has done to complete that post.

As I was thinking about education and the idea of how intellectual property and wondering if one person owns an idea or if all ideas are a reworking and built on ideas of those who came before us.  I discuss some of these ideas in my own blog post Creativity, Play, Technology and FUN!

My email continues

If it is a true statement it opens up for me the idea of how education is changing to something much more collaborative and connected. I know that through this course I was intentionally looking for new/different content because I did not want to copy an article/idea that my peers had used. I think this might go back to the social constructed learning you were talking about. Oh. Might be an Ah-ha moment.

You may want to look at Stephen Johnson’s book titled, “Where Good Ideas Come From”. Here are quotes from the book. Also, here is a short video about the book.

After watching this short video clip I was curious about what Stephen Johnson had to say about ideas.  I found a longer TED talk and I purchased his book.

I started to reflect on what Dr. Richard Schwier had said about communities and how a community is a community it doesn’t matter if you spend most of your time online or in person the core of the interactions and the connection with people is what creates the community.  I then thought about what George Siemens‘ ideas about the relevance of higher education and what will happen as Open Education becomes more common place to universities as we know them today.  What information will be considered relevant?  Will the type of assignments and examinations that students complete be different?  Will the research essay lose it relevance and be replaced with work that incorporates the classical theorist but is then used and adapted by students and scholars today to meet the needs of the 21st Century?  As Stephen Johnson says in his video is this what we have been doing for centuries?  With the inception of the internet we are able to connect faster and farther than ever before. We are able to brainstorm and piggy back (and pingback) on the ideas of minds of academics and the person you would meet in the coffee shop.

On the first night of #eci831 Alec showed us these two slides
Carteasen_view_of_learning                                                           Socially_Constructed

When I first saw these slides I understood them and I thought I comprehended what socially constructed learning was.  Now that I have experienced building knowledge socially through the blog hub and my Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter I realize I have experienced the power of collaboration and being connected.  Here is one concrete example

This blog post gave me six new ways to use a teaching strategy I currently use in my classroom and make it better. I was able to have instant professional development that linked a current teaching practice with technology all before I had finished my morning cup of coffee.  I realize my responsibility once I have tried these suggestions is to leave a comment on the blog post so that I can move forward the learning of others.

The pingback allows you to cite and acknowledge where an idea comes from and it also allows you a window into the conversation to make suggestions and build onto the ideas of others.  I joined the Google + Connected Classroom Workshops  the number of members and posts that arrive in my inbox is amazing.  The desire to connect and be connected is strong and educators are finding ways to make those connections possible.

I think your idea still holds up. I believe that education IS changing to something much more collaborative and connected. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on this.

I hope this helps!


Thanks Alec, it does help, in fact it has begun to transform my teaching practices.


Fun with Makey Makey

On October 22, 2013 Sylvia Martinez spoke to our EC&I 831 class about the Maker Movement.  One of the many tools that she spoke about was the Makey Makey .  After seeing the Makey Makey I knew that my son would love it and I thought it was neat too.

My family decided to play with the basic Makey Makey kit today.  I found a piano program on the Scratch website that looked like it would work.  In order to get it to work on my laptop I needed to install a driver the sparkfun website helped me out (my husband too!).

Here is our Makey Makey experience.

I look forward to continuing to play with the Makey Makey with my family.


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