Nic on February 8, 2017

I’ve been playing around quite a bit these days with the various programs – both online and on my computer, to learn to manipulate graphics and create enhanced visuals for my teaching.  It has taken both time and effort to figure things out; slowly but surely I’m getting it.  One of the big things I noticed today was that some programs, such as Adobe Photoshop which is a district license and available on my computer, are much more complicated and difficult to use for the novice graphic artist.  I initially didn’t even know I had the program to use and started with SumoPaint – the free online version.  Turns out I got better at using that version (even though today I switched to what I have on my computer) and like the graphics it produces better.  I think it’s more a question of skill though and the possibilities and potential with Adobe Photoshop are likely much more than the free online option.  

I have a sense of the magnitude with which one could alter a photo or an image and think that perhaps an entire university course could be dedicated to learning how to use one program effectively.  For the time being however, I’ve appreciated learning how to size an image, crop it effectively, use text to enhance features of the photo, layer images and import and link graphics.  I have created a series of graphics with a focus on breaking down the components of “Whole Body Listening” for use in my work and look forward to gaining more skills as I go.  I’ve begun playing with Movie Maker too – creating small video snippets of my students modeling the skills they need to learn.  I’ll let you know how they like being the star of the show after I show them tomorrow.  

The extra time spent working with HTML this past week and seeing how it is connected to graphics was interesting and helpful.  I spent some time with Sasha at work discussing how we achieved the goals of the week and what we learned.  I have to say that I’m still a fan of the “blended” learning community – having Sasha nearby to bounce ideas off and share learning is tremendously helpful and motivating.  How do we build more of this in a strictly online sense?  It’s hard because of the asynchronicity of the online learning and the “disconnect” between “virtual” people.  I wish I had more to add to enhance all of your learning – and do greatly appreciate your comments when you have time to give them.  I suppose this is the nature of the beast and I should be happy to have some F2F with Sasha!


A light went on for me today with layering and graphics and I think I’ve figured out how to start using them with my teaching.  I really struggled with understanding the “concept” of layering – though get the idea but until I played around a bit with Adobe Photoshop and read, and then re-read Keith’s information I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea.  The concept is straight forward now that I’ve read a little and played and do see the use in education.  I’m not sure at this point how to create something as professional looking as Usman’s chemistry diagram, but think I could get there with time and practice.  I’m more comfortable playing with photographs and haven’t tried using diagrams.  Would a diagram search be something like – “expected behaviour in images”?  I’m going to try and see what I find…

Please have a look at the “Social Skills Visual” I created and let me know your thoughts.  I’m actually wondering if this truly is a layering exercise.

Background –

Layer 1 – 

Layer 2 – 

Layer 3 – 


I would love some feedback/direction on how to add more detailed images (i.e. smaller more refined glasses) and better drawn silly glasses to images.  Having the light come on with regards to how to use the “eyeball” as a way to hide “events” that I created on top of my background image was fun.  I feel like this whole online learning process is a lot of trial and error and is self-driven based on my needs.  It’s a lot of problem solving and when I persevere and something clicks, it’s very rewarding.  Now – can someone please validate that I did actually understand the concept of layering to a degree?  Ready for the critical feedback and looking to improve!  Thank-you!!

Nic on February 4, 2017

Affirmation – Click to Enlarge

OMG!  I can’t believe I made this work!  Keith – I followed your instructions and html code and cut and copied into “text” in my new post to make this work.  I’d be surprised however, if I can redo this if I ever wanted to again.  I was able to resize the image (I think appropriately) to a thumbnail size (are there specific dimensions usually used for thumbnail?) using Sumo and then uploaded the original image and the thumbnail image into my media on my dashboard.  I did as you instructed and with some playing around in html managed to make it work like yours.  I don’t think I could do it again on my own though.  Does one always need the code to do this?  Am I supposed to be learning/writing down the code so I remember?  Is there a way to do if from the “visual” screen and not use html to get it to do what we did.  Sorry I have so many questions.  I found this very challenging and am surprised I was actually able to make it work.  



That of an active, game, hardy, small working terrier of the short-legged class; very free in its movements, strongly but not heavily built, standing well forward on its forelegs, deep in the ribs, well coupled with strong hindquarters and presenting a well-proportioned build with a medium length of back, having a hard, weather-resistant coat; head shorter and wider than any other terrier and well furnished with hair giving a general foxy expression.


Skull – Broad in proportion to length with a decided stop and well furnished with hair on the top of the head, which may be somewhat softer than the body coat. Muzzle – Strong but not too long or heavy. Teeth- Large,mouth neither overshot nor undershot. Nose – Black. Eyes – Set wide apart, rather sunken, with shaggy eyebrows, medium in size, hazel or dark hazel in color, depending on body color, with a keen terrier expression. Ears – Small, pointed, well carried erectly, set wide apart on the side of the head. Free from long hairs.


Well-muscled, strong, active body with well-sprung, deep ribs, coupled to strong hindquarters, with a level back of medium length, giving an impression of strength and activity without heaviness.


Shoulders, Legs and Feet: A sloping shoulder, medium length of leg, good but not too heavy bone; forelegs should not be out at elbows, and be perfectly straight, but forefeet may be slightly turned out. Forefeet larger than hind feet. Legs must be covered with hard hair. Pads should be thick and strong and dog should stand well up on its feet.


Hard and weather-resistant. Must be double-coated with profuse harsh outer coat and short, soft, close furry undercoat.


English Language Arts – Curricular competencies: Comprehend and Connect – reading, listening, viewing: grade four

Learning Objective – Access and integrate information and ideas from a variety of sources and from prior knowledge to build understanding

Type of Educational Graphic: Organizational: convey structure or sequence, hierarchical, sequential


  • The principle of coherence where extraneous words and pictures are eliminated and important information I want the students to focus on is highlighted.  Specific parts of the Cairns body are highlighted with a number and then information is presented describing the important anatomy – a principle known as signaling.  Key terms are in bold under the image and information is highlighted to describe the body part.


  • Contrasting colours used to make text stand out


  • Simple graphic with contrasting text colour to highlight specific body parts
  • Bold face title
  • Bold-face headings to describe important terms
Nic on January 29, 2017

I chose a photo of Kona doing “shavasana” with some of my students at the end of a laughter yoga session.  She is an amazingly intuitive dog who naturally joins the students with calm, relaxed energy when needed.  The students love being “chosen” because sometimes she will decide to lay on top of them.

The first photo is the original version.  The second was cropped to draw more attention to the students and Kona, and less to the background.  

deeply relaxed1                             deeply_relaxed1

This is another cropped image of Kona doing what she does best with kids!


My intention is to embed this YouTube video into my wiki site as a reference for my students and families who want to learn a little more about Cairn Terriers.  It is a fun, light tutorial including funny scenes, specific facts, and interesting information about “the Toto dog”.


Dogs 101 – Cairn Terrier


Media used:

  • Video – live cairn terriers, interviews with adults/professionals in the field, references to famous dogs and people,  appealing video of puppies and adult dogs
  • music, engaging sound effects,
  • Cartoon images, map highlighting origin of the cairn, animated cartoon rats depicting prey
  • Uses humour and “cut out graphics” to demonstrate left pawed characteristic of the dogs


Educational Context:

  • Moodle wiki site showcasing our animal assisted intervention dog – Kona who is a Cairn Terrier
  • It’s a great, short video highlighting key traits, characteristics and interesting facts about the Cairn
  • Good for kindergarten-adult audience
  • Nothing in the video that would limit the use


Pedagogically Sound:

  • Correct facts
  • Engaging
  • Good length
  • Specific vocabulary


Software required to produce:

  • Specific movie editing software would have been used to add interesting clips, insert graphics, music, audio – modified sound effect, enhanced screen view with bold words, uses call outs and asides to highlight important traits, etc.
  • Graphics program


Hardware required to produce:

  • High quality video equipment  


Skills required to produce:

  • Professional level movie making


Nic on January 22, 2017

Please visit my Google document to see what I’ve been up to in my wiki.




Nic on January 16, 2017

Hi Gang!

I had fun over the weekend playing with Padlet.  Please have a look at my link and make comments on the posts I created.  I’m curious to see if it works!

My Introduction using Padlet

Nic on December 9, 2016

For the things we have to learn before doing them, we learn by doing them.


I read that quote somewhere along the way, this term and return to it now as I reflect on the past few months of learning.  It’s near the end of a really busy week at my school, and the end of a busy day.  As I stand here at my desk contemplating my learning,  I actually clicked on the Jing link, thinking I might have it in me to try it, and after glancing over the resource quite quickly opted for the blog response, because I’m so tired.  My brain is in overload and I can’t quite believe I’ve managed as much as I have.  To be honest, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction with the progress I feel that I have made considering where I began, though can quickly swing to overwhelm when I consider how much I have left to learn – the thought of trying Jing now, to end (or rather continue my learning) with something new just about shut me down!  I’m lucky that I’m learning to take things one day at a time and breathe.  For the things I need to learn before doing them, I am learning by doing them – Jing can wait because when the spirit moves me, I’ll get to it!

I’m not sure if I ever shared that through the early weeks in my position, with several people advocating for both me, and my position we were able to garner more teacher time.  I went from working two and a half days a week, to four-full days.  We increased my resource teacher time by .1 and my teaching time as well.  I couldn’t be happier.  I have found a space with a group of people I respect, and value.  They work hard for the students who chose a distributed learning context for their education.  I have committed to learning the online skills to become a knowledgeable, skilled, facilitator, and to securing a teaching position for the long term in this program.  As a .8 teacher I am much better able to be a part of the team and to adequately meet the needs of my students.  It has been a wild ride and I have been put to the fire.

I think the most relevant skills learned have been the technological ones.  I have always been a “thoughtful” teacher in the sense that I do most things with intention based on my education and research and try to be as creative and open as necessary when it comes to moving students forward.  The more theoretical  work we did was interesting and generated good conversations with my colleagues and peers, however I feel that the practical skills, such as learning about specific programs to develop units,  online communication and organization skills using things like Google apps, Adobe Spark, RSS feeds, etc., structures to develop rubrics and the consideration of assessment was also incredibly practical and useful for me.   I laugh now as I look back on work I’ve done and can visibly see the time period from before Google docs to after – so much easier to track my documents and work seamlessly from device to device than before when trying to figure out where I had saved things on my computer!  

It was interesting to examine best practices in a DL context and to consider the cross over between what works in the classroom and what works best online.  It was hard to integrate a lot of what I learned in the beginning of the course because I had yet to establish a context to apply the tools or consider the application.  As the course unfolded, and my job developed I was better able to pair the two and feel that I am both understanding the course content better, and able to use it at work.  Using both this course, and the other online course (EDDL 5101) together as good models for online learning design and teacher practice I have been able to structure many of my developing ideas, beliefs and practices about the role of a DL teacher and continue to reflect back into the courses to remind, reflect and continue to learn important facets of the calling.  Even writing this summative blog post forces me to consider the process, and reinforces things that might not yet be formed.  This learning is quite the undertaking!

I enjoyed blogging and particularly benefitted from reading the blogs of my peers.  I appreciate their thorough review of the readings, their well-thought out responses, and questions to generate deeper thinking.  The experience of being a student in an online course allowed me to have that perspective and taught me many things about the importance of developing online community, teacher presence, online learning experiences (learning design), and assessment.  It also makes me whimsical and wishful that I was still a full-time student able to commit so much more time to my learning!  It’s not easy to balance work, life and school!  

As I look into term 2, and the upcoming months of learning I am trying to decide how much to bite off and what will be best for my learning and life.  I’ve decided to pursue a Master’s in Education now, as a result of starting this online trajectory, and absolutely love learning new things to help my students.  I just downloaded a new app to my phone – “Life Cycle” which tracks how much  time I spend doing different activities in my day and over time will break down the information to better help me set and reach my goals, as well as maintain the needs in the rest of my life.  Two weeks ago when I was neck deep in designing my unit I was not so keen to keep pursuing this learning goal.  Now that I am “through the tunnel” and back “in the light”, I know I can do it again, and look forward to what will come.  My thanks to everyone in this course for helping me along the way.  I’ve learned a lot, and am really looking forward to my Christmas break!  Happy holidays to you all!

Nic on December 5, 2016

The topic of “technological determinism” came up for me during an interesting week in this course.  I was in the middle of creating my first online course on the LMS Moodle platform because my school subscribes to this format, and I needed to get familiar with it.  The exercise was incredibly useful and educational for me as I learned how to navigate through the platform creating a variety of lessons and activities for my students to eventually use.  It forced me to explore the courses my school uses, and then to create my own unique unit of learning.  The question “Do the tools you use guide your choices as an educator?” was timely because they most certainly do, and because of the nature of the tool, I am bound by the structures and design of the program as I construct my lessons.  Most certainly, the tool guides everything I do.  To a degree, there is only so much that can be done within the LMS and thus student learning  and teacher creativity is limited.  ‘Adams references McLuhan and “suggests that all media, indeed, all artefacts, exert invisible ‘lines of force’ that tend to develop into predictable trends” (2006).  That being said,  at this point in my learning I am deeply grateful for the structure, and modeling I can do by accessing this course, and others that operate in Moodle as examples for how to proceed with designing online learning activities.   As a beginner, the structure has helped me be successful.

As an aside, while I was building my unit I can across an amazing pedagogically beautiful and sound website to support Aboriginal content and learning in the BC Curriculum that suddenly could not be accessed.  I was dismayed because I had intentions to reference it in my unit.  I continued to work through the unit development, and ironically toward the end discovered that the site had been re-imaged into a Moodle platform and looks better than ever.  Things can only look so different when the platform is the same (bound by structures dare I say?) Please have a look and see what you think!  An phenomenal resource, to be sure, and recognizable because of it’s Moodle influence!

The discussion around being mindful about the technology use (i.e. Powerpoint, LMS systems, etc.) is important because by being thoughtful “one way or another, teachers hope they are pointing their students in a right or worthwhile direction” (Adams, 2006).  My son recently completed a term 1 social studies project where he had to answer the question “What is social studies?” from a personal perspective linking his life philosophy, childhood, talent/interests, family history, etc. to the bigger question.  He used Google Slides (a close cousin to Powerpoint) and developed the entire presentation online with a friend.  The collaboration that occurred, communication skills that improved, comprehension and critical literacy skills developed and technology use to enhance presentation and provide a structure all point to a successful use of technology.  Vallance argues “that digital presentation tools can be utilized to facilitate conversational dialogue between students, their instructor, and their peers without much additional knowledge or effort” (2007).  Nathan’s partner’s mom commented however that she was “a bit sad” that the boys did not have a concrete artifact to share with parents and that their presentation might have been enhanced with more of a blend between technology and traditional presentation techniques (i.e. posters, timelines, etc.).  I asked my son why he chose to do it all “online” – his response was that it would be better saved for the long term and more convenient (i.e. accessible from home for both parties, easy to transport, etc.).  All good reasons I think.  Whether his teacher was thoughtful about the choice to allow the boys to use technology to “enhance” their presentation (or just provide them with choice), and whether they missed out because they didn’t have a more traditional presentation I’m not sure.  From my perspective as a teacher in this case the boys were definitely not “limited” by the structure of the Google Slides program, instead took risks by using a whole variety of tools within the presentation to make it original, engaging and fun, and they learned a ton along the way.

The next question for the boys needs to be: “What habits of mind are being encouraged in students through the ubiquitous use of PowerPoint in their learning and class assignments?”  (Adams, 2006).  I disagree with Adams statement that: “Powerpoint supports a cognitive and pedagogical style inconsistent with both the development of higher analytical thinking skills and the acquisition of rich narrative and interpretative understanding” (2006).  I think both boys achieved the opposite with their use of Google Slides and given the correct context, these tools definitely help grow the brain!  Now the teacher needs to bring their awareness to the why, “informed use” (Vallance, 2007)  and keep critical literacy forefront in the educational process.  “When pedagogy is in the driving seat, the supporting and integrated use of ICT allows intellectual space to be created around learning tasks… develop higher intellectual thinking skills and positive habits of mind, respond positively to the unexpected, and allow significance to be highlighted in information gathering and knowledge construction” (2007).  The task we have before us is an important one.  Onward I tread.


Adams, C. (2006) PowerPoint, habits of mind, and classroom culture. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38(4), 389–411.  Retrieved from

Vallance, M., & Towndrow, P. A. (2007). Towards the ‘informed use’ of information and communication technology in education: a response to Adams’ ‘PowerPoint, habits of mind, and classroom culture.’ Journal of Curriculum Studies, 39(2), 219–227. Retrieved from

Adams, C. (2007). On the ‘informed use’ of PowerPoint: rejoining Vallance and Towndrow. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 39(2), 229–233. Retrieved from