Concept Map

For our educational psychology class one option for our final assignment was to create a concept map describing the connections between our seminar inquiry project and the topics we covered in class. In doing my research I had already started connecting these concepts together so this was a no-brainer for me.

Putting it together started to make me a little crazy though. Redrawing it several times was frustrating, because I wanted it to make sense and also not look like a complete hot mess. I did a bit of googling and found It’s definitely not perfect and could use a lot more user-friendliness but I got the job done and it worked out fairly well. It has some of the same rigidity that a lot of flow charts do in terms of limited linkages, and a directional organization structure that is better suited to flow charts than concept connections. It reshapes and resizes everything as you add more items, which is kind of good but mostly annoying. But it maintains linkages and is fairly easy to use without a tutorial. And you can publish to the web right from the website, so I thought I would share that here!

And finally, Chocolate Babka

I’ve been meaning to try making chocolate babka for a couple years now. After putting it off for so long, and it being our last day of tech class today, I knew this was the push I needed. So yesterday I picked up some yeast and extra chocolate just in case and headed home to make the Bon Appetit Chocolate Babka recipe.

This was my first time using the dough hook on my electric mixer, but I followed the recipe dutifully and tried it. I wouldn’t say it did the job super well and I might just knead by hand next time. But on further reading I also found out you don’t want to over knead babka dough either, so maybe the light touch of the dough hook was the right call. I found the dough VERY sticky though, and when I turned it out to knead by hand it was impossible to work with without incoporating a lot more flour. So I ended up adding an unknown amount of extra flour, the dough was still sticky but workable. Then I proved it for 2 hours, and chilled for a 1.5 hours (dinner time with the kids got in the way). I wish I had buttered the bowl even more than I did, because I had some sticking, and next time I will put the plastic wrap cover directly on the dough to stop a skin from forming.

When I got back to the babka, punching the air out and rolling it to 22″ by 12″ went fairly smoothly. As did melting and spreading the chocolate. I think I should have pulled it tighter when I rolled it up though because it ended up so think I had trouble getting the right number of twists. So there were only 3 twists as opposed to 5. I left it to prove again while I made the streusel topping. I baked it for 50 mins, but it came out of the oven quite dark. My oven usually runs cold so this was a bit of a suprise but oh well!



I took the babka into our class today to share, and when I sliced it up the inside looked perfect! It had a nice fluffy texture and people seemed to like it overall. I guess sweet chocolate bread is always going to be appreciated but I was a bit skeptical on how it would actually taste.

Aside from the babka taking MUCH longer to prepare and prove than I was expecting (and the timing being exactly the opposite from what was going on with my family and dinner and chaos), it was not too taxing to make and it was super delicious. I’ll try it again, and add more streusal topping for sure!


Notes on a Distributed Learning Experience

Last week we met in a video conference room on campus for a distributed learning experience Dr. Verena Roberts (@verenanz) conferenced in from Calgary

  • She is an educational technology expert, and recently finished her dissertation in Open Learning Design Intervention – How to Expand Learning in High Schools Using OEP – expanding learning beyond the walls of the classroom
  • Experience from pre-K to grade 11
  • “real learning begins when we are left to figure something out, to problem solve, to collaborate and discuss with people with experience” – quote from one of Dr. Roberts’ students
  • Students have opportunity to access people, content and ideas that were previously inaccessible
    • real and preconceived barriers to accesssing digital networkds outside K-12 classroom walls
    • Not all teacher have experienced open learning and they looking for ideas and examples of expanding learning – need a framework
  • Learning is learning – online, blended, flipped, multi access
  • Influenced by Vygotsky, Dewey, Barth, Scardamalia & Bereiter
  • Also newer researchers as well
  • Kids creatively change what they are doing all the time
  • She wanted to bring this concept to the learning environment
  • Introduce digital literacties – interactions, collaborations, connections
  • Need framework: Be reflective in order to:
    • Stage 1. Building Relationships – find out who they really are. Do some prior assesment, learn about their personalities
    • Stage 2. Co-Designing Learning Pathways
    • Stage 3. Building and Sharing Knowledge – podcasts, websites
    • Stage 4. Building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
  • Need to scaffold inquiry
  • Inquiry questions: How do I search & communicate online? Who is my online audience” How do I solve a community problem? What is my story and how does my story inform my identity?
  • Lots of resistance from students about finding own information online and embracing the new methods of documenting their learning (they all stuck with PowerPoint initially)

BUT the video conferencing connection was very clunky in the end. It was choppy and Dr. Roberts didn’t seem to know when the connection was frozen which was frustrating for her I imagine.

  • Developing digital literacy with helps them expand with the digital tools they use, give them choice in who they want to expand AS, i.e. maybe as a group with anonymous identities
  • They expanded in the tools they were able and willing to use – from Google Slides, to making their own videos – let them decide what they feel comfortable sharing and with whom

This was as far as we were able to get with Dr. Roberts as the connection failed so much, but she shared her slides with us so the rest of the notes were what I gleaned from reading through them

  • It is possible to start this at kindergarten – “K-12 Open Learning Continuum”
  • Principles of open learning design

Take away – need high speed internet (preferably wired!) for video conferencing.

From Michael – how to increase student interest – bring in more technology for a diversity of modes of learning. Teachers should talk to each other so that they can draw on what has happened before and start making links between what students are learning and interested in. Doing inquiry with different levels will take scaffolding along the way. Then Michael gave a talk on distributed learning

  • Distributed learning can be used in our teaching practice and also in our professional development
  • In regular classrooms – you are either there or not – even when you can move the furniture, there are still barriers
  • Other options: asynchronous, fully online or blended
  • Teachers are new to online teaching too, so the system kinks have not always been worked out yet, they are sometimes assigned to teach this in this format without any *scaffolding*
  • Peer responses can be difficult with the impersonal format
  • Video conferencing needs special technology – sometimes in specific rooms, or with portable equipment
  • Synchronous is when students are online together with a multi-way video chat
  • Second Life-style with avatars – some ended up being traditionally look classrooms, hilariously
  • Blended is a combination of face-to-face and online
  • Multi-access – bringing robots in where necessary
  • Some learners will never be able to go to school they way we expect, good to provide more opportunities for how they can learn – mental, physical health needs, remote or rural students,
  • And what about climate change! Reduce transportation emissions


More cookbooks

I went to the Nellie McClung Library a couple weeks ago to get some books for my Literacy learning plan. Since I was by myself, I stopped by the cookbook section to see what the selection was (last time I tried to do this I had two wild kids with me and abandoned all hope of trying to get an idea of what was there). This is the Middle Eastern cuisine section at this branch:

They were all super inspiring and delicious to look at. It was hard to decide what to get! I ended up selecting Levant by Rawia Bishara, a Palestinian-American chef who opened the restaurant Tanoreen in Brooklyn in 1998, and Honey & Co. by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, two Israeli chefs who opened a restaurant with the same name as their book in 2012.

One of the things that jumped out of Levant was several recipes for “Kibbie”. I didn’t know what this was, but it is a dominant thread through the book. Turns out it’s the national dish of many middle eastern countries, and is traditionally a mix of lamb and bulgur wheat that is baked, fried, grilled, eaten raw or covers in sauce or broth. Kibbie has now expanded to also use chicken, fish or vegetables too. The spices use are generally allspice, coriander and cloves. In this one cookbook, she provides recipes for baked pumpkin kibbie,  baked chicken kibbie, baked fish kibbie, with leg of lamb eaten raw, as kibbie cups with eggplant hash or grilled corn, with potatoes in lentil stew, and an Aleppo-style kibbie stew with carrots. It really sounds like I need to try this!


From wikipedia

SInce it was the end of term and things were crazy I didn’t get a chance to make any thing from Levant yet, but I just renewed the book on my account so hopefully sometime in December I will get there! It’s a gorgeous book and the recipes seem like they will really push me further into authentic middle eastern cuisine.

Honey & Co. is also mouth watering to look through. Not quite as decadent looking at Levant, but the recipes also seem a little simpler and approachable. Lots of recipes for pickled foods and fish which is exciting. The book feels very personal for the authors. It’s filled with stories of their life together (they are married), and the process of moving to London and slowly becoming the restauranteurs they are today. You can tell that their restaurant is truly their baby and their staff and customers are like family. They have another cookbook called Honey & Co. at Home that I would like to check out some day. I made a chicken recipe from this cookbook that I will post about shortly.


Pomegranate molasses again, with chicken!

I made the pomegranate molasses chicken recipe from Honey & Co. for dinner this week. Because it was a weeknight I prepped and marinated the chicken the night before. I learned something about pomegranate molasses that I wasn’t expecting – all the solids had settled in my bottle so even though it looked like I had a lot, only a small amount of liquid was actually left. I think I was supposed to be shaking it before use each time? Lesson learned, because then I didn’t have enough for the recipe, but only by a little bit. Back to Fig to get more I guess!

It was super easy so I will definitely be making the chicken again. The recipe also included a bulgar wheat salad with pomegranate seeds, toasted pistachios (only toast them for 10-12 mins, not 15 because they will go too dark!), mint, parsley, and more pomegranate molasses. Since I was out I just used some of the juice from my pomegranate. You serve the chicken on top of the bulgar and pour some of the sauce/juices from the pan over the whole thing. I would add more salt next time overall, but it was excellent. I really love mint and need to plant much more in my garden in the spring.

Bonus: my kids love pomegranate seeds almost too much, and it made great leftovers

Middle eastern flavours

A post I’ve been working on all term (and it will probably never be truly complete so here it is anyway) is a summary of the common spices and flavours used in Middle Eastern food. Other than the traditions and stories behind the food, the flavours are always a defining feature of any cuisine. I’m still learning and am no expert but fro m my reading and exploring these are some of the ingredients that weave throughout Middle Eastern food:

Cumin seedsCumin – popular all over the world, and very prevalent in the Middle East. Strong, fragrant spice, probably reminds most people of falafel. I love it with coriander, and basically everything. Cumin is actually related to parsley. It’s often used in meat and bean dishes or stews.

Harissa – a blend of hot peppers, oil and spices. I haven’t tried this one out yet because my kids won’t eat spicy food and I don’t get a chance to cook food very often that they don’t also need to eat .

Aleppo style pepper – a mild pepper that can replace red pepper flakes or even paprika. The heat is only moderate and it has a cumin like flavour and salty undertones. It’s named after the city in Syria.

Preserved Lemon – used throughout the middle east to add umami style lemon flavour. Basically it’s pickled lemons. Apparently they are easy to make, they just take time to cure. I have some store bought ones in my cupboard that I need to get around to using. I love lemon and pickled things so I assume I will love these.

Dukkah – from Egypt, a mix of nuts, seeds and spices that are crushed up. Often used as a topping on bread, dips, salads and fresh vegetables.

Za’atar – wild thyme mixed with sumac, salt and sesame seeds, kind of used as a jack of all trades spice that’s sprinkled on anything. It has a nutty, citrus and herbal flavour.

Sumac – dried, powdered berries with a sour lemon flavour and a dark purple colour. It can be substituted for lemons in recipes actually. It’s used in meat dishes, stews and dressings.

Baharat – truly a “mix of spices” – black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg and paprika.

RosewaterLemon and Semolina Syrup cakes, or Ghraybeh

Orange blossom water – fruity syrup that can be stirred (sparingly) into drinks and desserts, but can also be used in savory dishes, like lamb

Pomegranate molasses

Tahini – sesame seed paste, one of my favourites!

Cardamom seeds in a bowl

Cardamom – usually used ground, in desserts or in coffee. Sometimes used as pods, toasted. It has a fairly strong warm,  flavour with. It’s expensive, just behind saffron and vanilla in price by weight.

Saffron – as seasoning and colouring agent in food. The threads are stigmata from the saffron crocus flower. It gives food a yellow-orange flavour and is one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight. Famously used in Persian Rice, which I still haven’t tackled yet.

Close-Up Of Turmeric Powder By Bottle On Wooden TableTumeric – a bright yellow ground spice that adds colour and earthy flavour.

Also: cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, allspice, aniseed, cloves, coriander, honey and more!

Info and photos from here and here

Notes on Coding

We tried out the website scratch and made a ghost catching game using a tutorial. It’s a cool program for learning the steps that go into creating code. It’s module based, when you can click and drag commands to create a program. This definitely would teach students all the tiny pieces that make up  the animations, games and videos they like the watch. I could see that students who want to learn more would be able to transfer these basics into how to learn what scripting and creating code and go wild!

Ed Tech Inquiry Presentations Day 3

We had our third day of inquiry presentations today.

First, Tessa, Jess, Denee and Dane presented about using technology in outdoor education.

  • There are lots of apps to help students explore nature – citizen science, surveying, constellations, species identification, climate and weather
  • Pros:
    • It can enhance learning, students can collaborate, encourages digital literacy, they can see and learn about places, plants and animals they’ve never seen before
  • Cons:
    • They need access to mobile device or ipad – not all schools will have, or all students
    • Causes increase screen time and reliance on technology
  • Risks:
    • Tech could detract from time outdoors is used inapprpriately
  • Recommended apps:
    • iNaturalist – can upload photos and record observations, helps with identificationsImage result for inaturalist
      • Created at Berkely
      • Collaborate with other to collect information
      • Access observational data from other users
      • Your data can become “research grade” if it’s backed up by other users, people can leave comments and ask for more information
      • Goal: connect people to nature
      • It’s free
    • seek – by iNaturalist – quicker and more simple than iNaturalist, also free
      • Uses the research grade survey info from iNaturalist
      • Easier for younger kids
      • Doesn’t contribute data, just draws on the information
    • iTrack Wildlife – learning about animal tracks
      • Easy to use, provides information about different species (habitats, animal  behaviour)
      • Not free
    • Merlin – bird identification app from Cornell
      • Free
      • Website has game and webcams
    • Marine Debris Tracker
      • Contributes to citizen science, adds info to a database about marine debris
      • From NOAA and University of Georgia
    • Seaweed Sorter – makes identifying seaweeds more easily
    • PeakFinder – names the peaks around youImage result for peak finder
      • Just hold the camera up and it will identify them based on the view, labels show up on the screen
      • Useful for orienteering
      • Not free
      • Works offline
    • Peak Visor – like PeakFinder but free, not quite as many features
    • Globe Observer
      • Data collection for weather, mosquitoes, tree height and land cover
      • Need an account
    • NASA appImage result for nasa app
      • lots of content
  • Skype A Scientist – website, connect on webcam with a scientist, hundreds to choose from
    • Can watch previously held sessions on youtube
  • “BioBlitz” – a communal citizen-science effort to record as many species within a designated location and time period as possible – can use iNaturalist

Then Sioned, Colin, Laurel and Alicia presented about language and learning technologies

  • They looked at tools for ELL learners and for students with learning impairments
  • For students who don’t speak the primary language in the classroom, it’s very exhausting
    • 30% of people in B.C. have a first language that is not english
    • Google Translate: live transcribe function & Google lenseImage result for google translate app
      • Translate is used a LOT in the Saanich school district
      • There is an app with a lot more features that just using it online
      • You can use it to translate text, or even conversations, and either make it into text or even read it out
      • You can save phrases, and download specific languages you use a lot
      • The camera can look at text and it will translate it
      • There are pauses, quiet voices don’t get picked up as easily
      • If you are using it a lot would be helpful to have a specific device if you are using it a lot
    • WT2 Translator
      • Wireless headpohones that offer instant translation in real time
      • 36 languages, 84 accents, 3 modes
      • One set has two headphones so two people can use if for a conversation
      • But wouldn’t want students to use it all the time since then they wouldn’t be picking up english
      • Probably limited by location of data centres around the world
    • Office 365 – in Powerpoint, the computer can listen to you talking and add real subtitles in a different language as you are talking. It’s wild!
      • The class needs to be quiet, and able to read for this to help
      • You also need to speak quietly
      • You can also record your slides with audio, and let students have the file so they can go back to it
    • Also youtube does offer subtites
  • Assistive technologies – for students who have limited speech abilities
    • Tools have been around for a long time, but with limitations
    • Touch Chat – Augmentative and alternative communication (AAc) – non-verbal and students on autism spectrum
      • Pairs language with images, can be uploaded photos to personalize it
      • $400
      • Success depends on the individual
    • Rewordify – helps to explain text, needs to be copy & pasted or typed in
    • Teacher to student communication
      • Video modelling
      • Daily visual schedule (digital)
  • Best practices and tips:
    • Use visuals
    • Newest not always most effective
    • Keep tech for language and learning separate from tech for games and play
  • Universal Design – “accommodations are necessary for some, good for all!”
    • Have everyone in the classroom learn how to use technology so interactions between students are facilitated, shouldn’t just be used with a student and the EA
    • As teachers, we should be the ones leading these efforts

Next, Fran, Lauren, Hailey and Emily presented about digital storytelling

  • The internet plus low cost distribution tools led to more digital media storytelling capabilities
  • Storycenter in Berkley CA trains people in digital storytelling
  • multimodal literacy that enables students to create a deeper understanding and emotional connection with their audience through narration, music and images
    • Narrative, historical or instructional stories
  • 7 elements:
    • Point of view
    • Dramatic question
    • Emotional content – how to connect to the viewer
    • Voice recording
    • Soundtrack – music to compliment story
    • Economy – a picture tells a thousand words, effects can change meaning too
    • Pacing – consider the rhythm (2-4 minutes long usually)
  • Fran made one with iMovie about her dog and it is amazing
  • Digital storytelling can be easily linked to the core competencies
  • It could be easier to let students tell a story they don’t write themselves first to explore the making of the video and then later transfer more of the responsibility as they start to write more personal stories

  • Pros: multimodal, student voice and engagement, digital literacy, promotes critical thinking and decision making, promotes deeper thinking, a way to work on communication
  • Cons: time consuming, need a lot of scaffolding, limited by what technologies are available to different students, students may have barriers to opening up about personal stores (need psychological safety)
  • Risks: technology can fail you, where will the final product be kept, students need to konw about copyright infringement
  • iMovie, Google slides/screencastify, Animoto, powerpoint
  • Also: Comic Life (for slightly older students), Imagine Forest (free, focuses on the story aspect a lot), Speech Journal ((simple and well linked to oral literacy, recommended by speech therapists too)
  • Tips: use storyboards to make a plan, set criteria about what elements are needed, but leave room for creativity, scaffold learning around apps with repeated practice sessions over time, allow personal creativity and inquiry, don’t try to learn tech and storytelling at the same time
  • How students can use it: language arts, social studies, science, math, art
  • How teachers can use it: flipped lessons, reinforce subject matter, resent new information in a fun, accessible way, promote increased participation from sick and absent students, comprehensive way to assess students’ takeaways

AND, Janel and John presented about using video in the classroom

  • Video improves digital literacy
  • You can take your class everywhere!
  • Can make subjects seem more real
  • Identify visual learners in your class
  • How: replace written text to keep material diverse and exciting, use student made videos (iMovie, Shotcut for PCs, iPads, youtube (need to be 13)
  • Link videos to Big Ideas in the curriculum
  • Multiple viewings can help students make deeper connections
  • Keep it short, or break up longer videos
  • Use 3rd party tools like edpuzzle, Flipgird
  • As a tool for assessment: pedagogical narration, how-to videos, digital portfolios
  • Cautions: preview videos, have a purpose, euqipment dependant, don’t just play a whole video without engaging them about it
  • Can use “start at”


Ed Tech Inquiry Presentations Day 2

Today we had our second day of educational technology inquiry presentations.

First, Hannah and Ruth presented about using OpenED to locate resources for lesson planning

  • The philosophy behind OpenEd is to produce, share and build knowledge
  • presentation slides, podcasts, syllabi, images, lesson plans, lecture videos
  • Pros: accessible, increases equity of knowledge, eases collaboration, reduces costs, keeps content timely, students can supplement their education along their interests
  • Cons: quality issues, information could come from non-experts, bias, technological issues, IP or copyright concerns, sustainability, lack of student/teacher interactions
  •, lumen, curriki and more
  • Common Sense
    • Independent non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids learn in a digital world
    • designed to assist parents, educators and advocates
    • For teachers: webinars for professional development (like digital citizenship, universal design, privacy training)
      • Also lesson plans for teaching about digital citizenship, or that use and integrate technology, or find media and apps to use in the classroom (reviews will include information about what ages they recommend it for, ratings, actual teacher reviews), relevant articles
      • Apparently they have LOTS of lesson plans so this will be worth checking out in the future

Next, Kathleen, Sydney and Anna presented about how the integration of technology affects students

  • When technology integration is seamless – students are more engaged and take more control of their learning
  • One Laptop per Child Study
  • Don’t assume kids know how to use tech – not all kids are digital natives
  • Screen time – appropriate? meaningful? empowering?
  • They played this near & far clip from Grover

  • Unplug – reduce stress, relieve eye strain, promote healthier lifestyle
  • Pros: human experiences, not always passive (gaming is a way to connect with kids), gain skills and understanding of the real world, assessment through gaming could be a way to reduce stress (doesn’t feel like assessment)
  • Cons: screen can be distracting in class, important to be aware of what students are accessing online, parents have concerns, missing out on real life experiences
  • Risks: content more than the screen, few children are actually watching harmful amount of tv or other screen time (more than 4-5 hours)
  • They talked about a pretty extreme case of kids being guided astray y the internet: the Slender Man attach on Payton Leutner in 2014
  • Best Practices: use guided access security settings, talking abotu staying safe on the internet, test-drive all equipment
  • You need: routine and transparency, accessibility and availability, focus on curricular goals

Then, Jamie and Nick presented about 3D design and print

  • 3D printing is turning a digital model of an object then printing one layer of material at a time to create the object
  • Model gets “sliced” into two dimensional shapes and send instructions to printer
  • Printing is slow – 4-18 hours
  • Usually some post-processing required to get the right surface finishing
  • Software –,, fusion 360,
  • Pre-designed model sites:,
  • Hardware: 3D printer, filament, computer, 3D print software
  • (They are starting to talk about 3D printed homes, what!)
  • Materials – PVA (polyvinyl alcohol, recyclable), TPY (Thermoplastic Polyurethane, slow to print, flexible, will break down when wet), PLA (polylactic acid, biodegradable, used at UVic, wide range of finishes)
  • 200°C when printed, need supports or they will bend before they cool
  • Pros: easy fabrication of complex shapes, few start up costs, easy customization, prototyping, less waste production, support material melted down and recycled
  • Cons: temperature is very high so could be unsafe to have around kids unsupervised (camera showing live video could be a way to get around this), time to print can be long, especially for cheaper machines, size of objects limited by size of printer (and cost of printer too), for high production amounts – injection moulding is much cheaper still
  • Online services (like the UVic DSC) is an affordable and time saving way around setting up your own system if you aren’t going to be using it a lot
  • Could be used in : engineering (prototypes), architecture (models of designs), history (artifacts), graphic design, geography (topography), cooking (moulds), automotive (replacement parts), chemistry (molecules), biology (cells, viruses, organs), math
  • Universal Design considerations
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