Life’s A Beach

Well, painting. Sorry, I haven’t been posting about my painting progress.  A bit of a recap.  My goal for the semester is to complete about eight paintings.  So far I’m just over halfway.  My most recent painting was of a beach scene.  Needless to say, not overly impressed with how this one turned out.  I followed one of Allison Prior’s painting tutorials again.  They are really excellent as they provide great detail and break the paintings into easy multiple part videos.  To put in simple this painting was a beach.

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I followed one of Allison Prior’s painting tutorials again.  They are really excellent as they provide great detail and break the paintings into easy 10 part videos. Needless to say, I am not overly impressed as to how this one turned out. I decided to try to complete this one on a smaller canvas to vary the sizes of my paintings.  However, with my brushes I could not get the palm tree leaves to fall like I had wanted them too.

One of the major techniques that I focused on in this painting is using wet-on-wet.  As you have probably guessed it is using wet paint on wet paint. By using this technique you are able to blend the colour together.  I used this to blend the sun reflecting on the water as you can see above.

Above of the video playlist that I used to paint my beach scene.  If anyone wants to check out how to paint using acrylic paints I would highly recommend doing so!  Something exciting did happen this week, Allison Prior has her own Twitter account, and she has said that when you finish painting to send pictures of the finished paintings to her.  I am going to send her photos of my paintings to possibly get some feedback on my learning project.

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Using Twitter for #socialactivism

People use social media for a variety of different reasons.  Keeping in touch with family, friends, or simply to avoid awkward situations such as avoiding the BMO people offering me a credit card.  However, social media is becoming more and more prominent in promoting social activism.  An article by HuffingtonPost promotes Twitter as a tool that has the potential to call out injustices, inaccuracies and misrepresentations and brings about understanding of other cultures and people.   Some of the common Twitter hashtag campaigns that have gained plenty of attention include #ALSicebucketchallenge bringing awareness to mental health issues, #bringbackourgirls focusing on Boko Haram and the kidnapping of many girls in Nigeria, #blacklivesmatter bringing attention to racism and racial profiling faced by black people in the United States, #whyIstayed focuses on women who where involved in abusive relationships.  #IStandWithAhmed became a symbol for islamophobia after a 14-year-old was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. The hashtag was shown support from Barack Obama encouraging him to stick with STEM and inviting him to the white house.

It is clear that social media campaigns can raise awareness of issues that are need attention in society.  One of the issues my friend and colleague Raquel Bellefleur raises is the getting the Regina Indian Residential School cemetery commemorated.  Many children are buried at this location, many in unmarked graves.  This would allow us to contact MPs and MLAs in Saskatchewan to raise attention to this little issue and as Raquel states, make connections to the call to actions.

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Through this campaign, I believe we would be able to get some response from MPs and MLAs focusing on gaining awareness.  Social media provides a voice that is able to be heard.  As the article by HuffingtonPost states, by creating a hashtag campaign, people from all over Canada, and the world can become involve in important conversations.

Why Reconciliation is Important

On February 24th, we had the opportunity to listen to Justice Sinclair speak at the University of Regina.  It was a “sold out show” that was free to attend.  As an educator, I believe it is important that we take a lead role to move forward through reconciliation.

What I can do to as a teacher is develop culturally appropriate teaching materials and follow through with teaching treaty education.  In my own personal schooling, I did not have an authentic experience of treaty education.  I think that Ryan McKillop makes an excellent point in his blogpost.  He states, “the issues is not whether you attend school in an urban or rural setting.  Instead, the issue is whether or not teachers take the time to educate themselves and access outside resources, such as elders, that can help assist with the learning.”  Teachers have to continue to grow in their own knowledge in order to provide authentic learning opportunities for reconciliation and treaty education.  Growing up in Weyburn, I did not get the opportunities in treaty education.  I believe this is a major flaw of my schooling.  I believe that since students did not receive treaty education they are furthermore going to perpetuate the stereotypes and challenges facing Indigenous people. One thing that is important is to provide rural and city locations. This is why I believe this tweet below is so important.

Treaty education is important to all students, not just First Nations students.

Canada is a collective.  We have a collection of experiences.  For us to move forward we need to honour and recognize the experiences and the traditions of Indigenous people.  Reconciliation starts with education.

I think that when Justice Sinclair gave this analogy it was clear that teachers are at the forefront. It is important to teachers that we start to plant this tree.  Right now we are being selfish, we need to have put this behind and move forward for the betterment of Canada, and all people in our country.

Experiencing Ways of Knowing

Throughout this week, I began to think about my experiences with Indigenous culture throughout my life, in my schooling, and throughout my time at university.  I have had very limited experience being exposed to another culture in my schooling.  My experience of learning about First Nations culture was very narrow.  We learned about the “feather and beads” but not the impact of colonization, or residential schools until grade 12.  The University of Regina has opened my eyes quite a bit when it comes to learning about Indigenous culture and developing my own critical thinking skills.  Coming into university and never being taught about the treaties I find to be very problematic.  Coming into university and not having an opportunity to talk to or listen to an elder I find is problematic.

Growing up in a community where white privilege is rampant, I was never exposed to the ideology of an idea of a white person having privilege.  I was ignorant to my knapsack of privileges that Peggy McIntosh talks about in her article.  I believe that this a gap of our education system.  Growing up in a predominantly white community and not having a chance to discuss race issues is a problem. Weyburn is situated about an hour from the nearest First Nations Reserve.  Being exposed to First Nations culture, and elders are what I feel is crucial to a community such as Weyburn.  Without the proper discussions and without the first-hand experience, and knowledge of Indigenous cultures in my view perpetuates stereotypes.

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a drumming circle, as well as a Pipe Ceremony and feast, as well as had the opportunity to listen to Joseph Naytowhow in my ECS310 class. I have never had an experience like what I had participated in.  These experiences allow me to grow my understanding of a culture I need to learn more about. It allows me to grow as an educator because I am able to draw upon strategies such as a drumming circle to include First Nations perspectives.

22620684161_e966cf7d5dPhoto Credit: SUNY Geneseo via Compfight cc


Support for #LGBTQ and #DigitalIdentity

Yesterday I decided to do an in depth Google search on my name.  As a pre-service teacher it is important to make sure to keep up a positive and appropriate digital identity. Through my sleuthing of my own digital identity I experienced the nostalgia of my hockey playing days, and discovering the my old school MySpace account.  However, this wasn’t the only thing that I had come across.  I was referenced in two articles for a tweet that was posted in April of 2014.

Some background, back in 2014 there was a issue of Peter LaBarbera, an anti-gay and pro-life supporter, coming to Regina to promote their anti-LGBTQ, and pro-life agenda.  Needless to say, they were not greeted with loving support from the University of Regina, faculty and students.  LaBarbera and his partner in crime (literally speaking), Bill Whatcott, were arrested on campus for trespassing.  Many students were pleased to have these men removed off campus for spreading an agenda that the many in the university community did not agree with.  I was one of them who tweeted in support of the Regina Police and Campus Security escorting these two off campus.

However, not everyone has the same ideals as the “liberal” community, as I am often labeled.  Many pro-life, anti-gay supporters backlashed and said that their arrest was hindering on their right free speech.  Some even extended their labels to the supporters of gay rights, as homofascists.  I was surprised to be one of the ones labelled in a couple articles as my innocent tweet began to make international attention.

Barbwire with Matt Barber, an American news and opinion blog/newsfeed that focuses on a biblical worldview. Barbwire decided to give me a shoutout.  They referred to me and many others as a homofascist. A label that is I felt was a wee-bit exaggerated.  As well as a gay activist on another article on the Israel, Islam & End Times, newsfeed.  However, in my eyes being labelled a gay activist is a much more appropriate than a “homofascist”.

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As you can see from my tweet above I don’t feel as I didn’t deserve the attention I did from the situation as it was grouped in with the following tweets.  At first I was a bit nervous of having my name labelled with these articles and being grouped with the following tweets, as they are quite aggressive.  I think if we were to play “which of these things is not like the other” I hope mine would pop out.

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The lessons I have learned through being a social justice educator, and a “homofacist”/gay-activist with regards to my digital identity.

  1. Anyone can pick up your tweets and refer to them without your permission.
  2. Expect backlash when supporting gay-rights, and anti-oppression.
  3. The amount of ignorance and inequality when it comes to privilege, and admitting the privilege that you have.  As a society it is improving but we still have a way to go.
  4. Stand-up for what you believe in.

Overall, the posts humoured me.  I did not find them overly intimidating.  Being a supporter of human rights is what I feel is appropriate and important as an future educator.  Our students need to feel as they belong.  Some of our LGBTQ students often already feel ostracized in our schools, and community, I believe it is important to stand with them.  I will continue to support all people and students regardless of who or what we identify as because we are people.



Project-Based Learning

One of my goals for ECMP355 is to develop my personal learning network and to participate on Twitter Chats.  Sadly, I have a night class during #Saskedchat.  Compromise was needed.  On January 31st, I participated and followed along with #bcedchat.  The topic that was being discussed was project-based learning.  I have heard project-based learning in a class that I was taking in my second year, and I think it fell off the radar after that.  I was excited and interested to get more information on project-based learning.

Here is a couple of ways how we defined project-based learning on Twitter.

“The actual definition of project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.” – Edutopia.

The nice thing about PBL (Project-Based Learning) is that it is a form of differentiated instruction just by its design. PBL is student-centered, and student-driven.  Wow! Sounds great, 21st Century Teaching at its finest. Students create something that demonstrates their learning.  They learn through trial and error.  An example of project based learning is below.

It is a very similar approach to inquiry-based learning. Project-based learning focuses on the development of the product or creation, whereas inquiry focuses on the critical thinking and problem solving.

Have you implemented PBL in your teaching?  What advice do you have?  What were your experiences through PBL?

Effective Shade

I couldn’t come up with a name.  But, thank god for the internet.  There is abstract art name generator.  Needless to say it spit out, the title “Effective Shade” and I said good enough!20160120_113719

For this beautiful nighttime scene I followed a tutorial by Clive5art.  This guy makes it look easy.  Well… It isn’t easy.  I couldn’t get the clouds right, the trees right, or the sky the way I wanted it.  But it turned out okay. I really enjoy the shading of this piece.

This painting I did on a 8″ by 10″ canvas purchased at the dollar store.  It took me roughly 45 minutes for this painting. Clive5Art is a British artist, who posts lots of different art tutorials.  They are quick and what he calls “easy” paintings. One thing that I really liked about this video, is the set up of it.  You can always see what paint he is using and what brush he is using.  However, he moves very fast through his work.  I ended up watching him three or four times, to check to see what I had missed.  I think I will also go back and check out some of his other tutorial videos to see what he has done in his other “painting challenges”.



Landscape Painting, The Waterfall


This is my first painting following a tutorial on YouTube, I was very impressed with the result.  I found a fairly detailed painting by artist Allison Prior. At first I thought I was a bit ambitious because I thought the painting looked so difficult.  However, following Allison Prior’s videos was a great aid because she took the time to tell you what brushes to use, as well as how to use different techniques in creating the different elements of the piece.

A couple of things I am really proud of in the piece include the bottom half of the canvas.  The rocks and the the detailed water below the waterfall I believe turned out very well.  Something that I am not impressed with is how the rocks and the water turned out above the waterfall.  I feel as I tried to overcorrect myself with this painting and it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  However, for my first “painting” (where I somewhat know what I’m doing) I think it turned out pretty good.  Overall I think I spend, two and a half hours to three hours on this painting.

For Allison Prior’s first lesson of this painting check it out below.  She does a great job of going step by step for beginning painters.  She is very detailed, and the viewer is able to keep up with her.  I will definitely try and check out other paintings by her in the future.  One thing I that I struggled with in this video included the lighting, and the quality of the video was not always the best.  At some points it was difficult to tell exactly what she was doing with the paint.   This painting is divided into ten parts, so the viewer can take it slow and go back to focus on the areas that are needed.

When does Education become Indoctrination

Teaching social justice is no easy task as I found out in my  internship. Right away in my internship I had came up with questions such as, how far can teachers take their views on social justice?  Can teachers share their views on social justice?  How can teachers be protected from parents that feel as you are pushing a “social agenda”?

Teaching in a predominant white school, I was excited to tackle and critique some of the privileges that I felt that my students had (as social justice is a passion to me). At the University of Regina we have a social justice based education program that focuses on recognizing discrimination and focuses on teachers critiquing their own status and privilege as well as analyzing social constructs around us and in schools.  However, my views on social justice and my role of a social justice educator were not always shared with my other teachers, or majority of my hometown.  2015 was an election year, and thus we had plenty of issues pop up that we needed to tackle, ISIS, racial profiling, the niqab issue, Syrian Refugees, the changing drug policies, indigenous peoples rights, housing issues, and women’s rights. I found it very difficult to try to present these issues in a non-biased way because we are taught about critiquing privilege and the importance of empathy in university.

As a new teacher I was unsure how to tackle some of these issues how to talk about them in a way that would get students to think critically about social justice, without having parents complain that we are pushing a “left-wing” perspective.  One of the major issues we talked about in our school was the Syrian Refugee crisis, and how we need to show empathy towards these people. A grade 8 class decided to send a letter in support of Trudeau in bringing the refugees over that students could sign.  As a result, our school was slandered on Facebook because we supported Justin Trudeau and bringing the Syrian refugees over, the letter was pulled and the grade 8 students were unable to send their support because parents felt as the kids were forced into supporting a petition.  Based on our education at the U of R I was shocked to see the tension that this issue brought to our school.  I became confused after we had parents come in and complain that these issues were being taught at school and my role as a social teacher orientated teacher. I became confused how that we can teach about inequality and injustice in our world if we can’t teach empathy.

Do we take social justice education to far? When is too much education turn into indoctrination?  How do you have a healthy conversation on these issues and to critique some of the opposing racist, ignorant comments and perspectives that our some of our students have?

Exploring the Joy of Painting

The Project

In #EMCP355 one of our major projects is the #LearningProject.   I will be sharing online something significant that I would like to learn, and share my progress through my blog and as well as Twitter. The catch is that we must learn this skill through online sources.  I struggled to come up with an idea of what to do.  I knew coming into the class that I had to complete this learning project.  After some thought I decided that one of the skills that I think would be neat to attempt to learn is how to paint. Specifically I want to get into painting using oil paints. However, as young painting legend, and fellow friend Kelsey explained it may be wise to start out with acrylic painting.

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After some consideration and some careful deliberation I decided it might be wise to take up Kelsey’s advice.

My Experience Painting

I have never been much of a painter.  In the few attempts that I have tried I found painting to be very frustrating because I was unable to manipulate the paint the way I wanted it.  I remember growing up and doing little painting crafts with mom, and a little bit of painting during school.  Other than that I would say my painting is very limited.  I have have not taken an art class since I was in grade 7.

One of the reasons why I want to begin trying to paint is because of the painting legend Bob Ross.  Watching Bob Ross paint is oddly enough one of the most satisfying things a person can do.  There are many painting tutorials posted on YouTube, some of which I am excited to explore.  In the painting tutorials that I have watched Bob has a very laid back attitude. While Bob is painting he does not have a care in the world.  In a conversation with Bob someone once said, “‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ [Bob replied], ‘ Thatbob-ross_18‘s why I paint.  It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it'”.   I feel as Bob uses painting to share not only his passion but also as a way to cope with stress in his life.   I hope that through painting I find a way to find peace and maybe a way that I can deal with stress.

I am very excited to get started with painting, exploring different techniques, and sharing my learning with others along the way.  I managed to scrounge up some acrylic paint I found at the back of my desk, and bought some new paint brushes, and some cheap canvases from the Dollar Store.  After consulting the Acrylic Painting for Dummies Guide I noticed that it would be wise to invest in a palette knife, and a palette, but student budget says paper plates will have to do for now.

Keep posted for videos, photos, and tweets as my painting experience begins!

And remember,

“You too can paint almighty pictures” – Bob Ross