1…2….WAIT…Take Caution!

Michael Wesch speaks of the first people to dance in front of a webcam and share it with the online world. He connects this dancing to celebrating newfound online empowerment and network possibility.

Although the internet scares me sometimes (I struggle with technology), I do agree that online potential is something to celebrate! We spoke a lot in class about the rapid change that is happening from year to year in the technological world. The tools that I used in school differ greatly from those which my parents used, and the tools that my future students will use.

There are times at work when I am working on a particular project with students, that I clearly see the benefit of many online resources. On the other hand, I really prefer to run the other way at the mention of certain unfamiliar internet tools! I can be quite stubborn and have a tendency to cower at the thought of change.


Change is good though right? I think so. I also think that it comes with some risks. In particular, online participation is almost inevitable in our society and it can be consequential in a very negative way if precautions aren’t taken. Even with limited internet knowledge, I have the ability to reach out to people all over the world in a matter of seconds! If I am not careful about the things that I choose to share in this way, it may be too late to correct the issue by the time I realize that I made a poor choice. Today’s culture of participation is very dominantly online. Networking has its benefits, but it needs to be used with discretion. WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR KIDS!!

A few years ago, I would have laughed at you if you told me that I would want to focus on the internet in my classroom. Today though, I dream about informing kids of the wonderful array of resources that are at their fingertips. I dream about speaking to my class of the dangers of online networking and the precautions that need to be taken. I dream of doing my part to prepare children as they embark on their personal journeys through this ever-changing world.

Am I fully equipped and ready to fulfill these dreams? NOPE! That is what this class is for though, so I am confident in the ability of my future-self!


Good Things are not Always Easy

It’s time, to be honest with you all. This last week has been fairly unproductive in my Banjo practice.

If my progress is a reflection of my effort, and I think that it is, I seriously need to kick it up a notch (or five)!

My plan: PRACTICE HARD! This site has some great tips to use for making practice time more effective (it’s like it was made for me). I am going to double my previously determined (before I knew what I was getting myself into) practice time for the next couple of weeks.

This isn’t going to be easy, but I really want to do it because I really love the banjo and I know that I will love it even more once I can actually play something… especially if it’s like this:

I thought back to my early piano playing years when practicing felt like nothing but a chore. I do not want to fall into the same pattern with the banjo, so I went looking for inspiration. What I discovered is awesome… playing the banjo may actually make my brain work better!

I am driven and I am inspired. I will progress this week. I will practice with all my heart and I will master this fantastic instrument one day. I truly believe this… even if it is potentially unrealistic. But hey, unwarranted confidence can be a good tool for success!

Please feel free to cast your vote or leave a comment with some musical stories of your own! I would love to hear from you.

Until next time… stay inspired in whatever area you may be struggling with!

“Writing the Self 3: [Do I Have To Smile?]”

It wasn’t as though I was underprivileged and it wasn’t as though my parents didn’t treat me well. In fact, I had way more than I needed and a loving family to top it off. So why did I feel so different?

I felt like an orange among a bunch of donuts. The orange is appealing on its own, but amid those delectable desserts, it doesn’t stand a chance. I became absorbed in thought as my friends chatted excitedly around me. I bit down and felt the familiar emotional sting as my bottom teeth tucked behind my top ones. I wonder if they notice it like I do… my thoughts trailed off as the commotion around me became a blurry background.

My mom worked so hard. My step-dad worked so hard. Why did it seem more difficult for them to do this? My pulse was fast, my eyes were moist, and my jaw was tense.

My friends didn’t seem to notice, nor did they even notice the factor that was causing this internal conflict. I felt my face turn a deep shade of pink as I opened my mouth to speak. Talking was safe, talking would not remind them of my difference. Before long, I began to laugh… hard!

I needed to trail back. This was exactly what I was trying to avoid. It was too late though and, although none of them ever pointed it out, they had to have noticed the obvious proof of my family’s economic class.

I could never confess my disappointment of course. After all, many of my classmates had less than we did and I knew that this was not a crucial use of our family income. I was old enough to understand priorities, so why did I still feel so glum?




B     A     N     J     O,

B     A     N     J     O,

B     A     N     J     O,

and… Banjo makes her grin-oh!

Let me guess, you simply read those first few lines. If so,  listen to this and then start reading this post all over again…

Okay.. that’s better!

I really am enjoying learning the banjo (check out this blog to see why)! I was unable to put in as many hours as I had hoped this week, so I have to admit that my goal was not met in regard to practice time. I am not giving up though- I will master the banjo and I will find time (need some time management tips too?) to practice more!

This week, I have been inspired by Willow Osborne:


You can probably see why! Although it will presumably take me years to come close to her level, she makes me want to keep trying!

This week, I went through lesson 2 of the “Learn to Play Bluegrass Banjo” channel by Jim Pankey on Youtube.

The first setback that I faced was accessing the video itself. The speaker on my laptop has stopped working, and I did not want to try using headphones while playing. Thankfully, I was able to connect to my Youtube account on our TV:Capture

This lesson taught me two new techniques: a hammer-on and a slide, which I have attempted to demonstrate in the following video. Jim’s teaching style works well for me, as he is encouraging while stressing the importance of practice. He begins lesson 2 with a review of lesson 1, and stresses that viewers should be able to play the basic patterns while holding a conversation at this point (I think I need to step back and practice for longer before I move any further)! Even though I these are not face to face lessons, he keeps me focused and gives adequate time for me to catch on (not perfect or make it sound good, mind you) to what he is teaching.

If you feel like witnessing my okay-ish attempt at these new techniques, as well as my (not so obvious) progress with the lesson 1 techniques, take a look at this video:

Thanks for staying TUNED (get it?) in on my banjo playing journey! Until next time, take care and enjoy my music (I use that term very loosely here).

The Intimidating TweetDeck…

Imagine… you are entering the third Zoom chat for #edtc300; a class that is so far out of your comfort zone, that it feels as though your body is working ahead of your brain. It is as though the concepts of the class have you racing ahead in action, before understanding actually sinks in. Each time you prepare to engage in a class, you hope and pray that you will be able to figure out how to use the technology presented to you in a timely manner.

Fast forward… you are feeling confident, courageous, brilliant even! You have mastered the art of tweeting, blogging, chatting, and zooming… or so you let yourself believe. It is now time for the fourth Zoom chat. You feel good. You feel adequately prepared. You are wrong…

This week, we had to take part in a twitter chat for #edtc300. We were ensured that it would be okay, that we would have a test run, and that the overwhelming feeling would pass eventually. Although this may be correct, it did not sound promising to me at the time. I CAN’T do a twitter chat, I thought to myself as my classmates seemed to ease into the class chat. I can’t even find anyone’s names to add the proper columns to my TweetDeck! How will I conquer this step in my learning process??

As usual, it was not as bad as it seemed. After some assistance from my instructor, and some deep breathing, I was able to engage with my classmates in a totally new format with relative ease.

Baby steps. I made it through class and now it was time to explore the Twitter Chat world all on my own! This process did not go totally smoothly, but here are the steps that I took:

  1. Search through list of twitter chats to pick one that I can attend.
  2. Realize that almost none of the listed times work with my schedule.
  3. Get frustrated.
  4. Search for other lists.
  5. Fail at properly using a time zone converter and temporarily give up.
  6. Search the new list provided in our Slack community.
  7. Choose the chat that interests me most.
  8. Tweet to see if the #fcpslearn chat was still on and plan to attend.
  9. Realize, once again, that I messed up the time zone.
  10. Return to chat list.
  11. Pick #2PencilChat and realize it is starting right then!
  12. Frantically try to find out who the host of the chat is, in order to add the correct column.
  13. Search the host’s name and find out that the chat name was sufficient.
  14. Join the chat.
  15. Answer the questions, to the best of my ability.
  16. Try to respond to others’ insights, but settle for liking the comments that I agree with in my rush to keep up.
  17. Complete the chat and breathe… breathe deeply!

In the end, that chat experience was pretty good. The topic was incorporating African American history in the classroom (in honour of Black History Month), but my takeaways are directly linked to incorporating First Nations history in the classroom.

This site gives many good examples of twitter chat benefits, as well as a list of rules to follow. Gaining knowledge from others and sharing my expertise are the two benefits that speak to me most deeply. I am passionate about expanding my personal learning network and I think that twitter chats will help me to do so. I am excited to keep trying these chats, and to discover the ones that I am able to participate in regularly.

I would love to hear from you! What are some of your favourite twitter chats?

Because Actual Notes Just bring Opulence

B…A…N…J…O… not the easiest letters to work with in creating a title…

Anyway, my journey in banjo playing has begun and I would like to share with you my progress thus far, if you would like to be enlightened.

Here are some pictures to help you get a sense of the tools I am working with, as well as my feelings as I pulled my banjo out of its case.

I began with this video as my first lesson.

So far, I have been taught three basic patterns, all of which are solely using the right hand. I will be practicing these patterns for a couple of days before I attempt anything else.

Here is a video of my progress thus far:

As you can tell, these basic skills need some work, but I will get there!

To sum it all up:

Challenges: My phone will no longer connect to my laptop, so I had to learn how to use my computer’s camera feature to take photos and make videos. It went better than I anticipated though!

New skills: 1) 3 basic banjo patterns (although they are not perfected yet)

2) uploading videos to my Youtube channel

3) wearing finger picks properly

Realizations: I am going to need to not only practice, but tune my banjo as well!

Thanks for following along!

Feed Me? Oh… Feedly!

Feedly… That’s a word that was completely foreign to me last month. Today’s status? It is a website that has made online networking SO MUCH EASIER for me!

Like any mature, logical student would do at the thought of trying something new, I panicked. At first, I felt as though this requirement would be impossible for me! I was told to download an RSS  and all I could think was this will be impossible to learn, it sounds scary, I don’t want to…

Okay, so I calmed down eventually and pulled up my socks so to speak. Do you want to know the truth? RSS sites are awesome! At least, Feedly is awesome… that is the only one that I have tried so far. However, I do plan on exploring other options moving forward to compliment my experience.

I chose to make three separate feed categories on my account. I have Education, Culinary Adventures, and Children’s ministry categories. I chose these things because they are my current employment focuses. I am an educator and a learner, a beginner caterer, and a Children’s ministry director. I am hoping that the resources I follow will help me learn in these areas, as well as give me opportunities to share rich resources with others… sharing is caring right?

feedly screenshot

Some of my favourite resources so far are Education Week, Educational Technology, Kids Ministry, and The Daring English Teacher.

Follow me on Twitter , where I will be sharing many of the great resources that I come across on Feedly@danicafehr !