Day 135 (of 186) my ongoing thoughts (worries) on education connected to #420Day

Day 135 (of 186) my ongoing thoughts (worries) on education connected to #420Day

April 20th – the unofficial “celebration” of all things narcotical. I am not a fan, as previously written:

I state that in general, I do not care what most 35 year olds ingest but I am very worried for how it will be portrayed for our youth – after all, the “coolness” of smoking via TV and Movies helped generations of people get hooked on the habit. We know that marketing and social media pressures work – but commercials don’t have to deal with the after and ongoing effects that do happen. When the government gives approval for legalization of a product, does the government also take the responsibility for its use and mis-use? Especially since many males in that 35-45 age range connecting mental health issues with self-directed drug use and suicide. And we always need to be aware: kids do what they see – which is why there are so many second/third generation smokers – I avoided that habit, but know I’m in the minority.

My problem is that I know too many lives that have been lost due to drug use and I struggle putting a tax revenue line connected to those losses. Self Medication is not advisable at the best of times, but there have also been times that dependence on non-prescription drugs makes “poor choices” easier to make. And I will also admit that misuse of prescription drugs has it’s own legacy of evil – but at least here there is (supposed to be) a three-way conversation between patient, doctor and pharmacist to watch for any “bad mixes” that can too easily occur – when anxiety’s best friend is panic – using drugs that enhance paranoia is not a good idea. And any sense of “initial calm” that is felt is too often lost and then “chasing that remembered feeling” becomes the obsession – heck I still remember how a demerol shot melted my back pain the one time I received it and that was long before I had my kids! But at least with a medical doctor involved I can see how medications may mix and what the positives and negatives will be – not via experimentation but by knowing how they actually work and interwork. Too often an initial sense of relaxation is followed by a sense of paranoia and discomfort – just like the sugar high & sugar crash we can connect with candy bars and soda pop, what goes up must come down and what goes down tends to come back up.

And if a medical doctor were to prescribe marijuana for specific reasons – (aka real – not glaucoma for a 30 year old “sufferer”) I’d be okay with that. For people dealing with the pain of cancer (and the pain of cancer treatments) there has been some positive results (but again, not for all which is why I’d still rely on the advice of a doctor).

I have seen too many lives change after drug use. And not enough friends on Facebook celebrating X years sober/clean – though I am damn happy with seeing those that have survived to share their journeys. Recovery is difficult – and acceptable – and with Canadas upcoming stance to legalize marijuana – there will be even more pressure to keep using, because it’s legal – the government has said it’s use is approved, no matter what the social, emotional or metaphysical the cost may be. I’ve lost family and friends to the streets and to the grave. “It’s just weed” is a hollow statement to me – and a dangerous belief.

Marijuana is addictive (as is coffee, as are sleeping agents – anything can be addictive – it’s important to be mindful of why we use what we use and how much we use no matter what it is). It is well documented that its use does impact the development of the human brain. Even though a “timely” article says its effects only last 72 hours – the biggest problem are the users who can’t go 72 hours in between use. and while the headline of a study conducted by a pro-marijuana group has some evidence to show the effects diminish after 72 hours – bigger studies still raise bigger issues:

Organized Crime is (and will continue to be) involved in the distribution and production of marijuana – this raises a range of moral and ethical issues beyond what the drug use itself can lead to. The “profits” that are promised with the legalization are spent before they are earned – community policing, business licence bylaw enforcement, extra education enforcement (same as tobacco or same as alcohol or different? in a K-12 learning environment) medical costs – fentanyl connections have already cost too many lives and too many dollars are trying to be found to help on make the kits available that help save lives.

I am nervous for this Canada Day – the day where the advocates for greater drug legalization see their advocation come to fruition. I know that for a large number of people, this justifies their campaign, and I hope the victory they get is the one that they want….but I worry that the future we are moving to may not be what it could be…and I hope I’m wrong.

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Day 134 (of 186) eLearning (a PDF’d worksheet is NOT eLearning)

Day 134 (of 186) eLearning (a PDF’d worksheet is NOT eLearning)

Interesting to have a flurry of tech + Educ questions and thinkings sent my way. I have long advocated the blending of technology and education as technologization – and my belief is that tech should not be about making “old things easier” – math times tables on games vs mad minutes….NOR should it be a way to save photocopy costs (project a story rather than run from a class set of readings) not that these can’t be helpful: especially as the “complexity” of math can be personalized easier online than on a piece of paper – and there is value in not only having a book-on-screen, but using “bonus tools” such as speech options.

I love that one of my boys has literally “found his voice” with help from his iPad. Some preprogrammed words and phrases help him express his wants and needs. We don’t always get every word or thought, but its a lot better than when he didn’t have words to choose from! It is easy for his thought to move way too fast for his mouth to catch up (still working on what YouTube he may have been referring to with what I thought sounded like Barnaby X – maybe barnacle-ly but definitely not barnacle bear!!)

I love that typing continues to help writers who get distracted by neatness and over-erasing – the ease of highlighting and simple deletion can be very calming. And everyone’s font prints just as neatly as everyone else’s. But those are easy differentiations- it’s better when you can add things that can’t be duplicated by a typewriter…like voice-to-text options (Love how Siri and Alexa learn your speech idiosyncrasies) and the portability where you aren’t all in the same room – hoping that inspiration strikes at the same time the computer lab is booked. But we can go beyond that – ideally our tech should allow us to enable our learners to show what they know in ways not possible without tech – while still being aware that what may be “old school” for us (PowerPoint keynote prezi) may still be innovative for “them” (so we can stop bad habits like too many words on a screen) before they become bad habits.

F’r instance:


Websites for ____

Visual presentation on ______

Music video using ppt/iMovie/variety of apps

Live casts

YouTube (my son is still confused why we don’t teach how to best create a presentation for this format)

Still of value….

Typing (but also voice to text) but flexible about what “best typing strategy”” may be…..

Word processing (but also adding graphics – info graphics are cool – how many traditional essays do we read vs news-style stories)

PowerPoint presentations (but minimal words) – see Presentation Zen

Books on mp3 (picture books read as movie….many on YouTube)

Coding – a coding mindset does not require electricity…..but it can sure accelerate the interest and output!

Learning connected to games – lots previewed on my virtual assignments page:

What might be next

Virtual field trips – 2nd life reborn? Inspiration from the Oasis from Ready Player One…?

Online dissections (or engineering, or coding – working out tests in a virtual world before moving onto prototyping in the real world)

3D printing – as much as we are getting more 3D printers into schools I still think we are at the starting line for this technology! Looking forward to food replicators so that Canada can join every other G8 nation and have a food program for its students.

Completely online learning portals that are not PDFs of old correspondence courses – as much as I believe in face-to-face educational interactions in brick and mortar schools…..I could have a pretty swag avatar….

As I sometimes will do – this list will continue to be expanded upon (in a new blog page)

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Day 133 (of 186) ah….nuts

Day 133 (of 186) ah….nuts

Anaphylaxis shock isn’t fun. Especially in schools. Its the reason why so many classrooms and schools have become ‘nut aware’ – and that’s a good thing. Not because we are trying to keep all nuts away from children – but because we have enough variety of choices, that we can help students become better aware over how to control their exposure to allergens. When children have significant health concerns connected to allergies, we can and should be doing what we can to limit that exposure. As kids get older, they can better understand and advocate for themselves – after all, we can’t keep peanut butter or dogs or pollen or or or away from everybody…..

But we do need to be aware of what may set off a bad reaction to our learners. One of my students brothers has a significant peanut allergy and as such I try to make sure that our students don’t have nuts in their lunch because it is possible for oils to be passed on and on via touches – so accidental or not, it is possible to trigger an allergic reaction from afar.

And of course where there is smoke there is fire: I’ve found but allergies to be very curious – sometimes it’s “all nuts” sometimes it’s specifically one type. Sometimes it evolves – and that was shared via a university professor who shared that due to his diving experiences he developed an allergy to a creature that (apparently) the first sting is free but each additional one makes you worse and worse.

So it’s always a important – especially with foods – and even more so at schools where kids will come in contact with foods they may never see at home – that if someone (especially younger students) is comparing after being around food, well – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Is a this because we did have a young boy have to go to the hospital because of a reaction. And I’ll support that we can’t (and shouldn’t) be so overprotective that we don’t do anything, but when there is something we know we can be proactive of…..

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Day 132 (of 186) secret missions

Day 132 (of 186) secret missions

Everyone has a secret mission. There are always desires people have that they wish would come true. Especially in education.

A lot of people would love to write a book (but the editing process can be painful)

Many are trying to get on better shape (but temptations are everywhere – and so often more affordable than choices that would help us on our mission)

Some learners secretly wish that they could read for enjoyment the way many others do….sometimes even teachers

Sometimes secret missions are conducted because while there is something desired, to not achieve the mission could be embarrassing, but like in spy movies, unsuccesses can be disavowed – like it never happened….

Secret missions are the hidden part of risk taking. Sometimes they need to be partially visible to gain support. Every mission deserves a support team…..someone who can be a cheerleader – or identify connections you might just miss.

In other words, whatever your “secret” mission is, don’t be afraid to utilize a support team – even the spy movies have a team supporting the hero…

…although the team needs to be people you trust – because there has to be trust when sharing a risk being undertaken! You don’t want to be laughed at or having a secret shared….at least not until it’s been successful, right? Same in life as in the classroom.

Be mindful that more secret missions are being undertaken than you may know – so keep an eye open to see if there are people working on something that you might be able to support – or even encourage!

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Day 131 (of 186) why don’t I follow my a(choo)dvice?

Day 131 (of 186) why don’t I follow my a(choo)dvice?

There has been a nasty cold/flu rubbing through our district. My typical advice has been if you don’t have 100% to give the kids, don’t be a superhero and take a sick day. But in an era of “no replacements” due to a lack of TTOC (teachers teaching on call) it makes sick days backed up on a weekend a big gamble. One I wasn’t willing to take, because extra cough syrup and two pack of throat losanges should get me through…..

(Cough cough)

And then with a discussion with the class we figured out the different levels of “sick”

Level one: We have a girl away – she’s been here and away on alternating days. Based on her headache yesterday, her being away….. seems legit.

Level two: got some cranky kids marching their cranky-ish teacher – we all are becoming aware that being at school may not be the best choice, but we should be able to make it through the day. Maybe – one boy just texted mom to see if he can be picked up early – even though his favourite “genius hour” ends the day….. seems legit

Level three: my son stayed home. One specific boy is also away – and much like my wife, she contacted the school with the heads up- maybe not sick but not wanting to push it because when they are a little sick it makes self-regulation that much more difficult. Not that they don’t want to stay home (okay – not that they always want to be at school either, but we’ve been getting good but in from my student – less so with my son)…..seems semi-legit (but may not be as sick as they appear in the presence of adults…)

Level four: one boy has been away all week. His friends are saying “sure he’s home ‘sick'” making air quotes as they say it. Even his brothers are saying that they doubt he’s sick – but could be a case where it is better to take one more day “off” than pushing it and getting sicker. His brothers are now rolling their eyes…..seems less than legit – and the difficult part in a project based learning classroom –> what work can he do at home? My bias – if home sick, they’re not well enough to do school work – get well and get back here!

Okay. Made it. Now I need to take some more pills and get under the blankets.


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Day 130 (of 186) #JerseyForHumboldt Day

Day 130 (of 186) #JerseyForHumbolt Day


Sigh.  A day many of us are putting on Hockey Jerseys – or (via differentiation) sports jerseys of other types, gold & green clothes/ribbons/hair ties/etc  to show that the families who have been impacted by the bus accident that has cost so many Humboldt Broncos lives. But while the symbolic gesture of wearing jerseys/green & gold may be important, we can’t let ourselves think that people without jerseys or colours don’t care – we need to expand our understanding of how people deal with death – and how some people view symbols – my view of the importance of the Remembrance Day Poppy means I limit what symbols I wear – I don’t do a button-of-the-month on my coat, but will often wear pink ties during specific dates or not shave for awhile to raise awareness of issues.

But I also have an awareness that an accident on a highway won’t stop us from travelling as a group – in fact this morning before I went to my school, I took my oldest to a bus to take her to her final Okanagan Music Festival. Did I think about the irony of putting my kid on a bus on the day that we are marking a bus tragedy? Absolutely. But I’m also aware of the conversations that this tragedy has opened up:


Vehicle safety of course. But also organ donation – something that one Bronco was passionate about and was proud to mark that down on his drivers license – and unfortunately/fortunately was able to have his organs save six other lives – yet as parents, we had no idea what our kids would want (and as one mom whose child needed an organ said – you can’t hope for an organ to be available because that means some other family just had an unthinkable tragedy) And as my Baba said when my dad passed – no parent should outlive their child.


And I’ll confess to having not wanted my organs to be harvested….but the words of some of the kids who survived, and the “Logan Boulet Effect” is making me make some tough thinking and maybe be one of my “beliefs I have that is likely wrong and eventually I’ll change my mind” on.


The survivors and families will be in my mind – but as grief does what it does – it will fade over time – at different rates and speeds for everyone. Some will experience closure sooner than others – and that does not mean they care any less. We all handle stress and grief differently – though the predictable stages include:


Shock (hard to believe that what happened is real)

Denial (trying to avoid reality)

Anger (frustration – wanting to assign blame….)

Bargaining (hoping a deal can be made)

Depression (it happens – much more than being sad)

Testing (feeling better, but sometimes feeling guilty about a change in feelings and thinking)

Acceptance (finally finding a way to move forward – not forgetting, but accepting the new reality)



All our best to the Humboldt community – for those in Humboldt as well as the many communities who have sent young men to play hockey in the community (even reaching into our classroom as one of my students’ family has taken in billets including some who have gone on to play in Humboldt. Our thoughts are with you – and as a Canadian icon has said: keep your stick on the ice (unless of course you want to #putyourstickout)


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Day 129 (of 186) #LoveMySchoolDay thanks @casas_jimmy

Day 129 (of 186) #LoveMySchoolDay thanks @casas_jimmy

Culture is important. And @casas_jimmy book Culturize is a great read:

Today was declared #LoveMySchoolDay and I do like making the school community I am part of the “best in the district” where people want to be (even if they sometimes don’t).

I like that my students like coming to school. I really liked that an itinerant came back to visit and work with my class and pulled me aside to say that she has seen significant improvement in becoming a “learning community” from fall until now.

I like that these are OUR kids and a CEA (education assistant) can take the lead in intervening when a learner needs help – both academically as well as emotionally. Especially emotionally.

I like that when my students note that the day was rough….that we both know that tomorrow is another day and we don’t have to carry grudges.

I like that when other students are having a challenge they know they can talk to me (or hide in my room for a “break”) and that it’s okay because we are a team – no matter how old we are – and we are working together for the inclusive benefit of all! (I love that we don’t send kids home from school – unless sick – willingly)

I like that the community is interested in learning more and doing better to work with our students…and our parents….and each other!

I love that my learners are becoming better risk taker – focusing better on using design thinking strategies to think like a coder: identify a problem, take a risk and know it won’t be a problem if it doesn’t work and “when you don’t know what to do… something” and follow our class rule: “be cool”

I love that our school is not satisfied with the status quo and will continue to work to both encourage support each other on the variety of personalized learning journeys we are all on!

Nice to spend some time thinking about just some of the things I love about my school! And looking forward to what others have shared via #LoveMySchoolDay

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