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Overview of Course Prototype

I have taken my passion for the outdoors and have transformed it into the beginnings of an online informational course for students in outdoor education. Outdoor ed. is an extracurricular club and the prototype is not meant to operate on its own but complements the trips students take every year. As I mentioned in my outdoor education course profile the goal of outdoor education is to:

  • Provide learning and volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
  • Create authentic outdoor experiences 
  • Appreciation for nature – leave no trace
  • Teach students how to safely hike, canoe, ski, fish, backcountry camp, and be good human beings
  • Challenge students both physically and mentally in terms of the nature and difficulty of our trips
  • Create leadership opportunities
  • Provide the confidence and skills for life long adventure
  • Have fun

Course Protoype Overiew

Before taking the EC&I 834 course it had been five years since I have planned an actual lesson and it felt like it took a while to knock the rust off. My course, much like a grade 9 student in their first year of outdoor ed. took time to gain some confidence. I am happy with how the prototype turned out and I look forward to the opportunity to implement the modules I have created into our program, reflect on how it went and make changes as necessary. The course and modules I have begun to design are not meant to operate on their own but complement the trips students take every year by providing them with prerequisite knowledge, confidence, and safety.

Course Walk through

Creation Process Overview

Reading other’s blogs, tweets, and conversations in our class provided me with a lot of resources and made it difficult to choose my direction and use the appropriate technology that fit my pedagogy. For my course LMS, I chose Google classroom. Google Classroom has a lot of interactive features built into it and many others that you can download.

A lot of the trips we take are within bear country, thus the reason for my first module on bear safety I designed this module to help students identify the differences between a brown and black bear, what to do in the event of a bear attack, and how to safely set up and operate your campsite. All of these skills are necessary when we take students into bear country. In module 1, I used Google Slides paired with Pear Deck to create an interactive presentation. The Bear safety course was meant to be completely asynchronous. At the end of the course, students competed in a bear safety team challenge, where they unpacked, set up a mock campsite and then repacked their gear. To provide some background knowledge I used WeVideo to demonstrate the challenge before students began.

Module 2 is an Outdoor Survival Skills unit. Three survival skills are focused on, fire, shelter, and water. There are both group and individual tasks in this module. The first task is used to get students thinking about what they already know, as well as create some interactions amongst the group members. I created multiple jamboards for each group to place sticky notes on.

Example of my Jamboard and sticky notes

I used google forms for students to individually access the prerequisite information. At the end of each form, students submitted they have read and understood the information (accountability).

Example screen shot from my lesson

At the end of the moduel, students were tasked with completing a survival scenario. I created the survival scenario and information using Canva. Students would present how they would survive using the information they learned about fire building, shelter, and water. Some research is involved as they can only use what can be found in the environment they have been given.

Scenarion built using Canva
Guiding Questions

Students have choice in how they wanted to present their scenario. They could choose from but were not limited to a 3D model, Google Slides, Canva, WeVideo, Tik Tok, and Flip Grid. After the presentations I asked students to comment using flip grid on two presentations using the 3Cs and a Q method that I talked about in another blog.

If you are interested, you are welcome to check out my SCCHS Outdoor Education Course here.

~ Gerod

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Engaging Students to Interact

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

The digital landscape has made an impacted the way we communicate. Within this digital landscape, social media platforms are often engaging and have become the norm for communicating faster and easier. This week, I have been trying to figure out a way to incorporate social media into my course prototype to create more engaging student interactions. As I thought about it, and there are a couple of platforms that I see more students use than any other and they are TikTok and Instagram.

In Chapter 4 of the Bates text “Teaching in a Digital Age” he talks about developing meaningful discussion through online collaboration. Bates provides multiple principles that should be considered to have successful online communication a few are:

  • Appropriate technology – be sure the technology allows you to accomplish your goals
  • Student orientation and preparation – purpose for the discussion
  • Clear guidelines – ensure students know how to accomplish the task and the parameters to be successful.
  • Meaningful feedback – Students need guidance and at times redirection to provide meaningful feedback.
  • Regular Instructor presence – The instructor should encouraging participation, keep the discussion on topic, and monitor progress.

Appropriate Technology

What is TikTok? TikTok is a platform the requires usesers to be at least 13 years old to use all of th features. It requires parental or guardian consent for anyone under the age of 18. According to TikTok, their mission is “to inspire creativity and bring joy”. This creativity and joy is delivered to you in a 60 second or less video often with music in the background. With TikTok you have the option to have a private or public account, which moderates who can view, comment, downlaod, and duet your videos.

I am familiar with the TikTok platform, and admittedly had to delete it from my phone as my screen time rocketed (who knew that a 60 second video would turn into an hour of scrolling and watching). With any social media platform there are a lot of cringey avenues one can find, but used in the right way it can be very informational. I have used TikTok to discover new cooking recipies, built construction projects, and maybe tried the odd dance or two.

How would I use TikTok to have student interactions? To create student interactions, students would create their videos (individually or as a group). These video will be educational to creatively teach or inform other outdoor ed. members of what they are doing on their trips or how they are preparing for the trip. Some of the ideas I have thought about are: how they are preparing/packing for their trip, meal ideas, meal prep, teach skills, and potential gear they will need. Other activity ideas might be, assign student(s) a random trial/location then ask them to select 5 items they would bring and explain why.

Student Orientation and Preparation

Why I choose TikTok over other video platforms? I chose TikTok over Flipgrid because of student familiarity. The majority of students have either recorded a video or watched videos using TikTok app. Students can download the app, record, and post using their phone or computer. With the majority of students already familiar and comfortable with the app it would reduce the amount of time needed teaching how to use the technology.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Clear Guidelines

Privacy laws and digital citizenship are integral when using social media in education. A course such as Kelly’s or Jennifer’s would need to be incorporated first to teach students how to use technology responsibly and appropriately. As Kelly said in her January 31st blog post, “it is important that we teach our students how to engage in a digital world safely, responsibly, and appropriately”. In our division we have to fill out an application each year to use social media. We have to provide the platform that we want to use, why we are using it, how we are using it and how to access it.

To help protect student privacy, I would use a private and protected Instagram account for students to upload their videos to. I like this option as it would allow the moderator control over who has access to view and comment within the account which should protect students information. Instagram would also provide the opportunity for students to comment and ask questions on other members videos.

Meaningful and Supportive Feedback

Students need guidance to provide quality feedback. This is a skill that we take for granted and I think by high school, we believe students should be competent at. If we want to have quality and meaningful feedback we have to model what this looks like when we provide feedback on student work. I really like #TAG ME feedback that Jennifer O. uses for students. I also like another framework called “3 C’s and a Q”, which is the picture to the left. Both provide structure and a framework to guide students comments. I like that both frameworks have prompts to help students provide meaningful feedback to each other.

I would be interested to hear if anyone has used Instagram or TikTok in their classrooms before. Perhaps you have used other social media platforms to create interaction among your students that you could share? If you have any constructive criticism about using TikTok and Instagram as a way for students to interact I would appreciate it.

-Gerod

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Attributes to be a Succesful Online Learner – Is Online/Blended Learning for Everyone?

Photo by Mabel Amber on Pexels.com

This weeks blog prompt allowed me to dive further into a topic that has been nagging me since the beginning of the pandemic and that is, “who is online learning meant for”?

In the division that I teach, we are lucky to have our own cyberschool that initially offered high school courses to rural schools within our own school division. Since the pandemic, it has morphed into an online school that supports learners within the division K-12. What it doesn’t support, is students who require modified outcomes and I have been asking myself, why not?

I came across a study, The Relationship betwen Self-Regularion and Online Learning in a Blended Learning Context”that talked about the attributes necessary to be an online learner.

In this study Dembo and Lynch (2004) referred to five self-regulatory attributes that are necessary to be successful in online learning:

  1. Intrinsically motivated – students need to be motivated to learn and have the confidence in themselves to successfully complete the course.
  2. Self-efficacy – students need to be confident using the internet and the learning platforms provided. If they are not effective at using technology it will make it difficult to learn. Students need the internet and appropriate devices (desktop/laptop) to work on.
  3. Time management – online learning typically takes place asynchronously. Students have to be able to manage their time effectively along with the other demands they have in their life. It is important to set a schedule to provide some consistent times that you are to be focused on your work.
  4. Proper study environment – students should have a designated work space away from any distractions. Everything a student needs to accomplish their online learning tasks need to be easily accessible in the work space.
  5. Ability to seek help – students need to know how to ask for assistance as well they need to know when they need help.

Coursera provided eight effective tips for online learning:

Photo by Serpstat on Pexels.com
  1. Set Daily goals for studying – set clear and achievable goals that you can accomplish each day. When you have reached these goals take time to reward yourself.
  2. Create a dedicated study space – information is easier to recall is the same place that you learned it. There needs to be a clear divide between where you work and where you take breaks, so avoid the couch.
  3. Schedule time to study on your calendar – set aside a consistent time each week that you will dedicate to studying.
  4. Keep yourself accountable – blog and post about your achievements and what you have learned on social media. People reading about your work and cheering you on provides motivation to continue.
  5. Actively take notes – taking notes allows you to internalize what you have learned, increases comprehension and boosts your attention span.
  6. Join the discussion– “research shows that learners who participate in the discussion forums are 37% more likely to complete a course”.
  7. Do one thing at a time – when you multitask you are less productive. Turn off any distractions as they may reduce how much you absorb and process.
  8. Take breaks – rest is crucial for high performance. After a period or time or if you are stuck on a topic, go for a walk, talk to a friend, take a shower, this may provide the energy you need to finish strong.

These tips may be something that we as educators have to teach students to do and we may have to incorporate some of these tips into our modules, especially at the beginning. This may be similar to how Tik Tok sends you a message to take a break after you were just going to watch that one video one hour later.

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Is online learning for everyone? I read a blog from “The Learning Scientists” written by Megan Sumeracki and she talked about online learning may not be ideal for all students. There are upsides and downsides to online learning. Initially online learning creates excitement as it provides a lot of opportunity for different course formats. A variety of course formats provides flexibility for students to learn and allows students to move at their own pace. Some of the downsides to online learning is the absence of visual cues that teachers use in a face to face class to identify students who are struggling. When students do need help they may not receive it instantaneously which could cause them to lose motivation.

To answer my question, is online learning for everyone? I think the answer to this question is, it depends. I don’t think we should be looking at a students profile to determine if they fit the online/blended learning model. Instead we should be looking at the characteristics the student has as a learner. Some of these characteristics are, self-awareness, self-discipline, time management, organizational skills, and a preference to learn visually.

The Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute published an article in 2018 about supporting students with disabilities online and blended learning. In the article they talked about course designers like face to face teachers are experts in their field. Course designers are obligated to provide quality instruction to meet the goals and objectives of the curriculum. How do we provide quality instruction online for students who are modified or have a specific learning disability? Deschaine suggests the following criteria to support these students:

  • Slow the rate of pace. Provide students the opportunity to review missed content
  • Incorporate assistive technology and teach the students how to use it.
  • Students who have a specific learning disability often have a great deal of variance in their academic performance. Know what academic needs your student will require for them to be successful.
  • Make sure the instruction is written at a level they will understand.
  • Allow students to demonstrate their knowledge using a variety of methods and student options.
  • Slow down any verbal instructions or chat sessions and check in often.

To me, this makes a lot of sense. The above criteria is good teaching practice when teaching all students. From what I have read, online/blended learning classrooms are not for everyone. We need to evaluate the characteristics of each learner to determine if they are a good fit. However, I don’t think we should be exclusionary to students who have specific learning needs or students who require modified outcomes.

Image from Pixabay

What are your thoughts? How have you supported students with specific learning needs in your online/blended learning?

-Gerod

Reference:

Deschaine, M. (2018). Supporting students with disabilities in k-12 online and blended learning. Lansing, MI: Michigan Virtual University. Retrieved from https://mvlri.org/research/publications/supporting-students-with-disabilities-in-k-12-online-and-blended-learning/ 

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Musings on Module 1

I was really impressed with the courses that Trevor, Jennifer, and Jamie presented this week. Trevor and Jennifer both used OneNote but different versions and Jamie used Canvas. I really liked how user friendly OneNote was, students could complete all of the work right on the LMS and didn’t have to hand anything in. It was very easy to follow along and find the assignments. Jamie used Canvas and I had considered using this LMS at the beginning of the class but decided to stay with Google Classroom. I was really impressed with the choose your own adventure that Jamie created and this is something I would like to try in the future. Again this week I am constantly reminded of how little I know about incorporating technology into education or just technology in general.

Instead of writing about my experience I thought I would try a screencastify. It ended up being a little longer than I intended but I tried to give a quick overview of the Google LMS, Google Slides, and Pear Deck.

In the video I reflected on some of the things that I would do differently if I was to redo this module in the future and some things to consider for my next one. There will be no Golden Globe handed out and I definitely don’t have a hypnotisizing voice like David Attenborough, so feel free to watch or skip as much as you want.

For the Bear Safety Team Challenge I created a video using WeVideo. Although it was a time consuming process I found it rewarding. I really enjoyed making and editing the video and at times it was humbling. I think including videos of myself or students adds value, as well as personalizes the content hopefully increasing student engagement.

Thanks for checking out my module this week. I look forward to hearing any constructive criticism you may have!

~Gerod

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Icograms Designer: The New Digital Lego?

This week I choose to research and explore Icograms Designer. It was recommended to us by one of our consultants in the division and instead of hitting the delete email button as I normally would, I decided to give it a try.

Could Icograms Designer be considered the digital version of Lego block building that you remember as a kid or as an adult? Surely there won’t be any ER visits using Icograms like Lego. For instance, when your kid finds a nice green cylindrical piece that fits perfectly up their nose, and they just can’t resist the temptation to see if it will fit. Ahhhh…parenting fails and memories, I still have no idea how she managed to get it that far up!

What is Icograms Designer?

Icograms Designer is a platform that uses 3D objects to build maps, diagrams, and infographics. The platform has already contsructed templates that you can download and use. I really like this option for students as it is less time consuming than building their own from scratch. The templates also allow you to make adjustments so plenty of room to make it your own. You also have the option to build and design your own palette. You can find more information about what Icograms is by watching this short video.

Link Courtesy of: htt
ps://icograms.com/templates.php
Copied from: https://icograms.com/pricing.php

There are four plans available, as you can see above. From my exploration, the basic plan gives everything that students and teachers need to start designing.

What I liked about it:

  • I was really appreciative of all the templates that were already built. I can see how that it would speed to process up to make your own custom designs within these templates.
  • It would be a great alternative for projects.
  • I could see some students really getting into it allowing their creative sides show.
  • The icons are grouped into preexisting palettes making them easy to locate.
  • It is entirely online/web based. Students should be able to use any device to create and access it.
  • In my opinion the program would be most suitable for students in grades 7-12.
  • It felt a bit like designing a video game (take into account that I am not a video gamer).
  • I was very user friendly and didn’t require a lot of time to get started.
Image Retrieved from: https://icograms.com/templates/infographics-stay-home.png

What I didn’t like or could use some more refinement:

  • If you don’t use the provided templates it could be very time consuming to design.
  • There was no search capability to simplify looking for specific templates. This makes looking for a template quite time consuming.
  • I couldn’t find an option to download alternate icons. It appears that you have to purchase additional ones for $.25.
  • You can’t design unless you have internet access. This limits students who have limited internet or not internet.
  • On the basic account you can only have a max of 8 Icograms designs and max of 3 uploads.
  • Exports have the Icograms Watermark on them and to get rid of this again you have to upgrade to the Pro.

Review

I could see a couple uses for this tool. Students, along with teachers, could co-construct on a Smart TV or Board. For example you could build the water cycle or carbon cycle. This may be a fun way to engage students in learning. If you could print off your finished product for students to keep so they may review that would be an added benefit. I also like this tool as an alternative to google slides or power point as it would allow students to access their creative side.

Has anyone every used or seen this before? Do you have any creative ideas on how this could be incorporated into your classroom? Look forward to your thoughts!

Gerod

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Overview of Course Profile: Outdoor Education

Image courtesy of Pinterest: https://images.app.goo.gl/GVEzpHsHhDJUnVtRA

Outdoor Education Overview

  • Extra-curricular club
  • Typically between 90-120 members
  • We travel all over Western Canada 
    • Four major trips per year
    • Provide learning and volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
  • Authentic outdoor experiences 
  • Appreciation for nature – leave no trace
  • Teach students how to safely hike, canoe, ski, fish, backcountry camp, and be good human beings
  • Challenge students both physically and mentally in terms of the nature and difficulty of our trips
  • Create leadership opportunities
  • Provide the confidence and skills for life long adventure
  • Have fun

The course will run throughout the year with the modules in the course coinciding with the four trips and activities planned for the year. Our very first trip is an orientation trip designed to welcome our new members. This trip will introduce them to how we operate, to ensure they have some basic skills, and to make sure we establish a sense of trust and respect before we head out on our bigger trips. Preceding this trip is a hiking or flatwater/whitewater canoe trip. Every two years we take students on a larger fall trip alternating between the Salmon Run in Adams River, BC and the polar bear trip to Churchill, Manitoba. In the winter, we alternate between Fernie, BC and Lake Louise, AB to take the group skiing. In the spring, we are either hiking or canoeing depending on our fall trip.

Grizzly Bear Foot Print

Target Population

The course is open to new and existing outdoor education members who attend Swift Current Comprehensive High School in grades nine to twelve. Student ages typically range from 14 to 18. 

Course Format

The course will be blended, with a combination of online, as well as face to face interaction. The online portion of the course will be asynchronous, as this is an extra-curricular activity. Along with the online portion there will be set times during the month at lunch that students will need to attend. Students will be expected to complete the online asynchronous tasks before going on a planned trip. The courses essentially are a type of flipped classroom. Students will gain knowledge, terminology, and safety to prepare them for upcoming trips.

Nistowiak Falls – Stanley Mission, SK

Course Toolset

I had some difficulty deciding what platform to use. I originally thought about using Canvas or Moodle, however, our division and students have invested a lot of time to become familiar with Google classroom and by using this as my LSM my hope is to actually utilize these modules in our club in the future.

To communicate with the students I will use google chat, meet and the announcement feature within the classroom. Using parents email addresses provides the ability to attach parents to announcements sent out to the students. Having parents receive this information at the same time should save a lot of time for the advisors. I like the google chat for a couple of reasons. The first reason is the division monitors and supports connecting with students in this way. The second reason is you can create a community where students can help eachother out. Lastly, the ability to move from a chat to a meet is seamless.

Google docs and sheets are also great tools that team members can use and work together from anywhere. This will be useful for planning gear and menus for upcoming trips. Students will share their docs/sheet with advisors so we may monitor their progress and provide suggestions as they plan.

I don’t consider Google Classroom a true LMS so I will also need to consider additional tools for asynchronous instruction such as:

Backcountry hike – Castle Mountain, AB

Course Content and Learning Objectives

The course content and learning objectives will be introductory in nature to provide confidence to the members, as well, reduce some of the fears that parents have letting their children on these excursions. We want to create independence. This is a tough one for students and parents especially when it comes to meal preparation and packing their own bag. I can’t count how many times students don’t know what they have in their bag or blame their mom for not packing something.

Some of the content and learning objectives to be used:

  • Meal prep and menu planning – a place for recipes and snack ideas for other members to access
  • Gear – proper clothing, tent, sleeping bag, shoes, and backpack. Would also provide a way to see what other group members can provide to the group. Eventually linking to gear reviews on the internet.
  • Tent set up – Basic set up and take down. Tent and ground sheet selection. Picking a proper spot to setup while camping.
  • Bear Safety – A lot of our trips do take us into black bear and grizzly country. Bear safety is essential.
  • Fire Starting
  • Canoe terminology, safety and rescue

Assessment

For the purpose of this class I will be focusing on bear safety and tent setup, although all of the above objectives are necessary for an enjoyable outdoor education experience.

Students will be required to have knowledge in bear safety. Examples of bear safety are: identifying and knowing the difference between a black, brown and grizzly bear. How to protect yourself in the event of a bear attack. Procedures for storing food properly in bear country, and hiking in bear country. Students will have to pass a summative online exam, (my thought is to use google forms) before going on any trip that we may come into contact with a bear.

I will be using formative assessment for tent setup. Students will be required to form a tent group and source a tent. Students will either video themselves, complete at noon or after school setting up and taking down their tent. Videos submitted will be turned into google classroom to be reviewed by an advisor. This could also provide an opportunity for students to create a Flipgrid or WeVideo describing the features of their tent, (size, material, seasons, the pros and cons).

During initial tent set up in camp, student groups will meet with an advisor to conference about the pros and cons of the spot they chose. Students will make the necessary adjustments as needed.

Considerations for Common Concerns

Outdoor education can become quite costly which causes a barrier for families of lower socioeconomic status. To support families, the orientation trip is included in their initial fee. Students can pick as many or as few trips as they want, as well, we have payment plans for all trips.

With there being an online portion, students will need to have a device that can access the internet and record videos. Students can sign computers out from the school if they don’t have their own device, or use the computers in the library before school, during lunch, and after school. For the tent setup, anyone in the tent group with a device can video and upload the video to classroom. Alternatively, we will provide a time at lunch or after school to assist students who need help with their tent or those who do not have access to an electronic device. In our school, students have access to free wifi, as well, students can access the library downtown for free wifi if they have a device without a data plan.

I look forward to your questions, comments, wild ideas, and outside the box thinking!

-Gerod

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Experiences and Perceptions of Blended Learning

What are your experiences and perceptions related to your own use of blended learning and/or technology integration in your professional context? What challenges and opportunities have you experienced?

At first, looking back I couldn’t really remember using a whole lot of technology, unless you would consider an overhead projector. I can still remember trying to use different coloured markers to be ‘creative’ and the struggle to move the transparency correctly, or how many times I burnt my fingers trying to change a bulb.

I applied for and received my first SMART board in 2014 for my Alternative classroom. I can clearly remember having it installed in my room, they taught me how to turn it on and off, and then walked out. That was it! I remember spending a lot of time on Youtube and google trying to figure out how to build interactive lessons, or how to reconfigure the pen when it wouldn’t line up. I spent a lot of time on Smart Exchange searching already made lessons and then editing it to fit my students learning needs. Ultimately, I can say I never fully utilized the SMART Board to its full potential.

Kirksey Cougars - Where is the Google waffle? What is it... | Facebook

Gone are the days of Microsoft Word, Power Point, etc. and bring on Google Docs, Google Forms and everything else with the name Google. Our school division has almost completely transferred over to the google platform. I don’t know if any of our computer labs are Windows capable anymore. I have become comfortable with using google, but the transition wasn’t easy. Students on the other hand seem to really like it. As a teacher, I appreciate that students can access their work anywhere with internet service.

Now as student services teacher, I have had limited opportunities to design or use blended learning. The experiences I have had, is supporting students in using other teachers blended learning and/or technology integration within their classrooms. This experience has been good for me, as it has pushed me to learn along with the students in a different capacity.

In Riley’s blog, he compared teachers transitioning to the online world to being in a blender. Although a lot of students are tech savvy, they too are feeling like they have been tossed into the proverbial blender. I can’t count the number of times I have had to re-teach students how to turn in assignments, how to scan a document using their Iphone, then upload it to their drive, and then find it in their drive and so on. I have found Google classroom a good place to store documents, communicate with students, and hand assignments in. However, it is not an excellent online teaching platform. Students find it confusing to navigate and have a difficult time finding assignments or instructions from previous units. I don’t believe we have prepared students to for this shift. Is anyone else finding in their school that students are struggling with this shift in teaching? What has your school/division done to prepare teachers and students to use technology in the pandemic?

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A little About Me

Well, this is my fist every blog, and like everything else I do when I have to write, I spent a lot of time staring at a blank white screen. Ok, to be honest it took me a long time to even get to this white screen as I tried to set up my blog for the first time. A little about myself. My name is Gerod Wiens and I was born and raised on a farm near Wymark, Saskatchewan. Athletics and the great outdoors have played an integral part of molding me into the person I am today. I am a Student Services teacher at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School in my 11th year of teaching. I have been married to my wife Stephanie for 13 years and yes, we were high school sweat hearts….We have 3 awesome children, Emmerson 9, Keaton 7, and Everett 3. Three goals I have in this class is to become more comfortable and proficient with online teaching, learn with and collaborate with others in eci 834, and utilize technology to support the students I work with. I don’t have a lot of social media myself but if you want, you can find me on Twitter , you can also click on the Twitter logo on my blog homepage to access my Twitter acount there as well.

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