My Year in Review for 2013!

Every year I normally do a “Year in Review” post on my Facebook page but thought I would blog about it this year. So here goes!

Started last year with a trip out to the thriving metropolis of Wishart to celebrate Malanka, or Ukrainian New Years. I had the pleasure of watching my girlfriend Corby dance with the Wishart Hopak Dancers and also ring in the new year in small town fashion. Here is a link to a video from the epic Kalamanka (group dance) that lasted well over 30 min.

 

In March I ventured into the wine making business when me and three friends of mine, who all met while teaching at Robert Usher Collegiate, made the first two batches of 4-Ush wine. We have since done 6 more batches for a total of 8 different wines!IMG_0657

Also in March, I got to see Great Big Sea on St. Patty’s Day, which was awesome!

At the end of March I took my first trip to Mexico with my lovely girlfriend Corby. We went to Puerto Vallarta and had an amazing time! A trip I will never forget.

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In April my daughter turned 4 years old! I can’t believe that she is going to be 5 soon.

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In May I enjoyed seeing my girlfriend Ukrainian dance once again at Veselka in Foam Lake.

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Then in June I got to see my daughter perform with her Italian Dance group at Mosaic in Regina. She did so well and was absolutely adorable! And I also got to coach my daughter’s very first soccer team. That was an adventure! Corby and I also got season tickets to the Riders. Little did we know back in June just how special the season would be.

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Before we knew it, it was summer and we were hitting the road. Our first trip was to Winnipeg to visit friends and celebrate the July long weekend. Here is a pick of Ava at the Winnipeg Zoo.

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Next was  the Craven Country Jamboree for Corby and I. We had a blast and saw some great concerts. Speaking of concerts, I also got to see Alice in Chains with my buddy Danny.

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Next was a trip to Lloydminster and Edmonton to visit friends and spend some time Corby’s family. I also got to golf with 4-Ush crew at Riverhurst.

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Took in a wedding on the August long weekend in Foam Lake and then it was time for the 20th anniversary of the Boys Golf Trip. This year we went back to where it all began, Fishing Lake.

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Next was fulfilling one of my childhood dreams, seeing Sir Paul McCartney in concert! It was maybe one of the best concerts I have ever seen!

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We finished off the summer with another wedding and then it was back to work. In September I started the 30th season of The Saskatoon Soaps and also joined the cast of a variety show called Red Hot Riot here in Regina. Corby and I also continued to enjoy going to the Rider home games. Which takes us into November and Grey Cup. We had a crew from Saskatoon and elsewhere come and join us for the festivities and then we took in the big game! What an amazing experience!

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Next we celebrated Corby’s birthday after the Riders big win and before we knew it, it was Christmas time. I had an amazing year and want to thank all the special people in my life for making it so amazing. Here’s to 2014!

 

 

 

 

Summary of Learning for EC&I 831 – Share More!!!!

I decided to look back at my very first blog post before sitting down to write about what I have learned during my time taking EC&I 831. I mentioned that I was quite comfortable with social media but always felt a step or two behind when it came to technology in general. I have always been very open to technology but have found it difficult to incorporate it into my teaching practices as a senior mathematics teacher. I still struggle to find interesting and practical ways to integrate technology into math but after taking this class I have an even deeper appreciation for the power of connected learning and open education. I have always known how powerful social media can be but my experiences in this class have only confirmed this belief and even expanded it through learning about new social media outlets and tools.

The first new experience in the class was the introduction to Blackboard Collaborate. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that such a tool existed. I was impressed with how easily video, audio, and text were integrated. It allowed people from all over the world to instantaneously interact. This was amazing to me.

The next experience was becoming a part of the EC&I 831 Google+ community. This was another very easy way to connect and interact with Alec Couros and all of the other participants in the class. We could share video’s, articles, pictures, and of course our blog posts with the google+ community. Commenting on other’s post as well as getting feedback on your own was an important part of the learning experience.

For some people in the class, Twitter was a very new and somewhat scary aspect of the class. This was not the case for me. I have been on Twitter for about 3 years now and know what a wonderful social media tool it can be, especially in the realm of education. Twitter is yet another way to connect with educators from all over the world. What an amazing resource for teachers to have to be able to share with and ask questions of educators from all disciplines and backgrounds. The world is literally at your fingertips.

After familiarizing myself with Blackboard Collaborate and the google+ community, and continuing to connect of twitter, the next phase was to create a blog. I had never blogged before in my life but was very open to the concept of blogging. Coming from a performing arts background, I have no problem sharing myself with my family, peers, and colleagues, and doing so in an entertaining way. So blogging was right up my alley and I fell in love with it almost instantly. I have always enjoyed creative writing and also sharing myself with the world. Blogging…where have you been all my life?!? But honestly, I have really enjoyed blogging each week and found myself really tuned into what was going on in education. It was like a new sense was turned on inside me and I was constantly on the look out for something to blog about and I never had trouble finding something to write about. And when Alec and Sue Waters (the Edublogger guru) instructed the class on how to spice up their blog posts and blog pages, I was even more hooked. Now I was adding widgets and adding links, pictures, and videos like nobody’s business. I now had a Twitter feed and an About.Me link. I thought I might even be giving my good friend George Couros (Alec’s brother) a run for his money in the blog world. (Just kidding George, you are still the king).

Since I started my blog on September 16th of this year I have had nearly 1500 people view my blog, from 28 different countries, representing every continent, (with the exception of Antarctica of course). I have had 103 comments on my 14 posts, many of those were from me responding to others that posted, but nonetheless, I have been quite surprised and pleased with the response that I have received from my blog. I had no idea the potential outreach blogging had. In my brief experience with blogging, it is a very inclusive and caring community. I have absolutely loved my blogging experience and plan to continue long after this class is finished.

I could go on and on about everything that I have learned in this class and detail all of the people, apps, tools, and sites that I encountered and learned from but I fear that I have gone on too long already. So why don’t you check out the song I wrote, and posted to Youtube, summarizing what I have learned in this class. I re-wrote the words to the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and then edited the video in the style of Pop Up Video. As I said at the end of the video, I hope that you enjoy the song as much as I enjoyed this class. The name of my version of this song is “Share More”. Enjoy!

 

Hard Work and Perseverence are the Keys to Success!

Hey Beatles fans! This is my final post for my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831. For this assignment I choose to do a Learning Project. The basic idea of a Learning Project is to learn something new and to document and share how you learned it and your progress along the way. For my Learning Project I choose to learn to play and sing the song “Blackbird” by the Beatles. This is not my first time singing or playing guitar but “Blackbird” is a song that I always wanted to learn and is more difficult than the songs I normally play on the guitar. So I gave myself two weeks to learn the song and filmed myself at the beginning, at the halfway point, and again at the end. Here is a look at my very first attempt after learning the song through this Youtube video and then practicing for just a couple hours. This was filmed on Monday, November 18th.

After filming this I was not sure I would be able to pull it off in two weeks but it really motivated me to practice and improve. I haven’t taken on a difficult song like this in a very long time so I was both scared and excited at the same time. The competitive side of me wanted to take on the challenge and prove I could do it, but the practical side of me wasn’t sure I could in such a short time. Regardless, I persevered and practiced my fingers to the bones, (almost literally), and began to see improvements in just a couple days. I was practicing at my school, at home, at friends houses, you name it. I was highly motivated to get better. For my second attempt, after about a week of practicing, I decided to sing as well as play. My guitar playing had improved significantly but adding the lyrics was an added challenge. Here is my second attempt with guitar and singing filmed on Tuesday, November, 26th.

Not bad for a week of practicing but I still felt that I could improve. I was comfortable with playing most of the song but there were some trouble area’s that I really wanted to get better at. However, I kind of hit a wall after practicing a lot over a short period of time. I went back to Youtube and found an another instructional video that offered a slightly different fingering pattern for the parts that I was struggling with. This was enough to renew my excitement and I instantly improved on some of those trouble spots. I certainly wasn’t playing the song perfectly, but I was making far less mistakes which made me very happy. So here is my final video which I filmed on Tuesday, December 3rd. Hope you enjoy it!

As I said, the song wasn’t perfect but I thought that I did pretty well. I made far fewer mistakes than the previous attempt and really cleaned up some of the trouble spots. Overall, I was quite pleased with the final result. And the best part about taking on this Learning Project is that now I can actually play and sing “Blackbird”!!!

Taking on this Learning Project has reminded me that not everything in life is easy and sometimes you really have to work hard at something to get better. This is true in all aspects of our lives, whether it be relationships, career, or hobbies. You must work hard and take risks to improve and grow. And the pay off is the amazing feeling you get when your hard work pays off and you are able to accomplish the thing you set out to do. Nothing feels better than setting out to do something, and accomplishing that goal through hard work and perseverance. We all have a Blackbird inside of us that wants to be set free and fly. So don’t hold back. Take on a new challenge, take a risk, work hard but be willing to fail. And if you accomplish your goal, no one can take that away from you.