What is right or wrong? You have to speak

Digital citizenship, online activism, slacktivism, privilege, marginalization, racism, discrimination, social justice, human rights, and silence. These are all topics we must consider throughout our everyday lives. As we sit down with our morning coffee and complete our morning ritual of the Facebook scroll, we must consider these topics. Why? You may ask. Because it is a privilege. It is a privilege to be able to scroll through Facebook and have that morning coffee without being attacked. How many times have you scrolled through your news feed and saw/read something unsettling or aggravating? I assume pretty often. But how often to you make a response to this? Do you share this unsettling or aggravating thing? Do you reply or respond in some way? Or do you remain silent and just keep scrolling? If you just keep scrolling you are most likely pretty privileged. Is your newsfeed full of cooking videos or funny memes? Or is it full of political injustices in the world? These questions in itself are indicators of how you use your privilege.

We keep scrolling because it is comfortable. We want to remain silent because then we are not judged, ridiculed, or even questioned. Instead, we remain neutral. But are we ever really neutral? I think not. There is a definite line between what is right and what is wrong. Take this video that appeared on my Facebook newsfeed this morning for example. Was this right? I think not.

Yes, this mother in this video probably wanted what was best for her child. I understand that. What I don’t understand is how race comes into play. Why are these Doctor’s being marginalized for their race or ability to speak English (Heck maybe some of these Doctor’s first language was English, but again why was that questioned? Because of their race?).

If we remain silent on issues such as this what does that show? Does it show that we are appalled by the inequities of the world? No. Now, I’m not saying if you don’t share or respond in some shape or form to these inequities that you are a bad person. I am saying that by not sharing or replying you are guilty. Guilty of being silent. Of not giving the marginalized your support or agreeing that they were wronged in any way. You were simply remaining neutral, but there is never neutral when it comes to right and wrong. No, liking, sharing, or responding on social media doesn’t change the world but it does help get rid of the stigma. It starts a conversation, it starts an opportunity to learn.

The Secret Code

CraigTaylor74 Flickr via Compfight cc

Coding. An interesting part of educational technology. For some, it is scary but for others, it’s exciting; it’s a new way of thinking. In class, we were introduced what is referred to as the ‘hour of code’. When implemented in the classroom students are given a device where they can practice the skills required to code or even practice coding!

For this blog post, I chose to do what is referred to as the “Hour of Code” for a few reasons. One because it is FUN, two because it makes you think, and three because it is something I would really like to do with the students in my classroom. So needless to say I started playing around with this website. It is terrific, both student and teacher friendly! Watch this video to see how anyone can learn to code.

To show my progress I took a screencast in student mode. While I did do a full hour of code these screencasts are only snippets of my overall learning. The screencast of the beginning of my hour of code (click on the link to view my screencast) is Puppy Adventure in student mode.  During this I learned as the student progresses, more options will be made available. Such as unlocking new puzzles or coding scenarios to try out based on the level they are at. Which is both neat and somewhat disappointing. If you are anything like me then you always like to finish what you have started, which could be an issue for some students. On the other hand, it is also good because you want your students to be improving their coding skills as they do their ‘hour of code’ instead of staying at the same level.

Underneath is a YouTube video the is an introduction to coding for the Frozen Hour of Code scenario:

Through this website, I also learned that students are able to create their own profile and save their learning! How great is that! Not only are students able to save their learning and track their progress but they are also able to personalize their account, save projects, and most importantly learn to code! Also, when you are first deciding which coding scenario you wish to go on there are categories that help you to find what you are looking for, for example, what grade you are in, what subjects you are interested in, the length of time you will be coding, what classroom technology is made available to you etc. Overall, this is an excellent resource to introduce to your class to get them started on coding. Happy coding everyone!

The Night Sky

This week I out my focus towards painting the night sky. While I have tackled other forms/variables of sky (i.e. painting clouds, sunsets, etc.) I have not yet tried painting the night sky, up until now. This week was also the week where I wanted to try and form my own timelapse. Some parts went well and others, well, I learned from them. As for my inspiration this week I followed this YouTube video by MarsupialPudding:

I absolutely loved this artist’s technique! I definitely learned a few tricks! For example, how the artist in the video uses a fan brush to form the tree tops.  By using the fan brush in this way the artist is able to manipulate the paint in a way that makes it look like real trees with ease and efficiency. If you were to use just a really tiny brush the paint each branch of the tree it would be very difficult to get the same effect in that the branches would be very defined, looking either like they don’t belong or ‘too perfect’ for what a real tree actually looks like. A real tree isn’t uniform, it is perfectly imperfect. Secondly, I learned that when painting a night sky it works the best to paint your background first and add in color afterward, as it is easier to make a picture lighter and more colorful after than it is to make a picture darker while trying to keep the bright colors. Thirdly, I learned to make stars it works well to dab either a fan brush or a smaller brush in white paint and tap the end of the brush (as shown in the video) to create tiny specs (STARS!) over the desired area of your canvas… p.s. wear something you won’t mind getting tiny white specs of paint on.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to create a timelapse for this painting. So, I did my research and tested out the time-lapse option on my iPhone and everything worked out well. I was good to go! And then I ran out of storage… once again finding out after I was already into my painting. ARG! Another learning experience I suppose. So for all of you people out there that are about to create a time-lapse make sure you have enough storage! Anywho here is a glimpse of my painting getting started in a time-lapse format (click on the link to view).

Overall, I would say I am happy with my progress this week. I learned some very useful tips; as well I learned to make sure you have the right amount of storage. Here are my final results for this weeks painting:


Sextortion and The New Culture of Public Shaming

fmgbain Flickr via Compfight cc

A few decades ago the idea of public shaming was basically limited to three things the newspaper, TV, or radio; as mentioned on Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk. Today, public shaming can be everywhere, especially if you are the one targeted. With social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Instant Messaging etc. it is no wonder that the battle to get away may seem endless. Then there is the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All you have to do is enter in what you want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results.

Then incorporate the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All one has to do is enter in what one want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results. One can see how easily this may become a problem especially with the sexualization of children, teens, adults, etc. that is apparent in the marketing, and media, these days. As mentioned on the documentary Sext Up Kids (there is sensitive content), this market is targeted directly at kids and their desire to look ‘older’ and ‘sexier’. Younge children go from wanting to be the ‘prettiest princess’ to the ‘hottest girl’ in a number of years. It is the effects of marketing, such as these, that pressures and influences are surrounding our students at ages as low as nine to things such as watch porn, sext, or a variety of other things. Ultimately, those acts when noticed online can lead to detrimental effects on children, teens, and adults through things like sextortion and public shaming. Which makes it so crucially important to address the situation if it ever occurs. Teachers and parents must teach their students and children what is appropriate/not appropriate, but most importantly how to be safe online.

As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware and to teach kids about the dangers of being online and what protective measures we need to take to ensure our students are being safe online. In order to do this, we must talk about subjects that are ‘taboo’ or uncomfortable to talk about. But if we don’t have these difficult conversations with our students we are basically telling them to deal with it on their own. It is our responsibility to teach our students to make smart decisions, that it is okay to make mistakes (article thanks to Kim Thue’s, twitter handle @thuekim), and how to be safe online.

Digital Citizenship: Learning about the World

Stefans02 Flickr via Compfight cc

People of all ages are online today. From young to old and everything in between the world as we know it has become forever increasingly an online space. There are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts for just about everything. We are becoming an increasingly online world. It is in these times where educators use social media to increase classroom engagement amongst other things.

After reading this article I couldn’t agree more. Students need to live one life, not two. Meaning that, as educators, we should promote the use digital tools such as social media in our classrooms instead of banning them. Incorporating technology into the classroom means letting students have one life where digital citizenship is encouraged. Incorporating technology means bringing in learning from around the world into the classroom.

When thinking about digital citizenship it can be broken down into many sub-sections. Though digital citizenship may not be explicitly implied, it is part of the hidden curriculum. Meaning, even though digital citizenship is not listed it should be taught. Just like how in the early years of education we learn to tie shoes, share, and treat each other as you would want to be treated. Though things such as these aren’t listed in the curriculum they are still taught in schools. It is the same with digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship includes:

  • Safety and Security
  • Balance
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Copyright and Plagiarism
  • Access
  • Etiquette

Safety and Security: Have students question what is right, what is wrong, what a good source is, what an unreliable source is, how to evaluate digital sources, and how to be safe online. It is classroom experiences such as these that help create digital awareness, a positive digital identity, and digital literacy in today’s world. As well as how to keep devices safe.

Balance: There needs to be a balance between time spent on and offline. Like everything time should be spent on a multitude of things (i.e. learning on an iPad, playing outside, etc.).

Cyberbullying: As unfortunate and cruel as it is cyber bullying does happen. When it does or before it happens it is important to take the right measures, to have an action plan. As I’m sure you all know bullying (online or offline) can detrimental effects on children, teens, and even adults. I wanted to point out this resource, a twitter/ online community, that is a bullying prevention campaign designed to influence social change. It is a great place to start for parents, teachers, or students. Their account @i_am_stronger posts numerous resources and influential posts. As well, there are also many ways to contact (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.) listed on their website for anyone who is wondering what to do to take the next step in addressing a bullying situation.

Sexting: A taboo topic with startling statistics. But an important one to address. It is our job as educators and parents to talk about this topic even at a young age. With the introduction of things such as Snapchat, instant messaging, and apps a picture sent is only a click away. It is of the utmost importance that we educate our students and ourselves in the best way we know how in order to reach our students before something, like a sext is sent out.

Copyright and Plagiarism: With tools such as copy and paste on the computer copying someone else’s work is very easy to do. For some students they may not know what they are doing is plagiarism, which is why defining what is and is not is so important. For example, googling an image and copying it and pasting it somewhere else is technically illegal, even if no one came hunting you down. However, when you select the creative commons option on search engines such as Google or my now personal favorite CompFight, as long as you cite the picture it is okay to use.

Access: Who is able to get online and when they are able to use it. It is essentially the digital divide. Not all students have computers, iPads, or phones use at home. What happens when those students go home? How do those students connect at home? For some students, the only place they may be able to use technology may be at school. Which is why it is important to consider all students accessibility to the online world before assigning homework that requires an internet connection. As educators, we need to find a way to make technology accessible after school.

Etiquette: When it is appropriate to do certain things online, what to do vs. you shouldn’t do, when to use social media, etc. For example, when in the middle of a physical conversation it probably isn’t appropriate to be texting someone else at the same time.

Digital citizenship is about so much, but it cannot be accomplished without tech integration. Which is why I plan on incorporating not only the use of technology in the classroom but also digital citizenship.

Progress with Time-Lapse

Learning from last experience with the Time-lapse, I focused my work last week on exploring different methods to do a Time-lapse ( using apps, a phone camera, etc.).


Lukas Vermeer Flickr via Compfight cc

Thanks to Chesley for mentioning on her blog that iPhone has a Time-lapse option and thanks to Tanya for providing a link to MacWorld I have learned quite a bit about iPhone’s Time-lapse option. From fooling around with this Time-lapse option on an iPhone 6 and after reading Mac World’s article I learned the following:

  • How to turn on the Time-lapse mode on
  • Which iPhone and iPads can use the Time-lapse feature in ios 8
  • Just because you record longer doesn’t mean the video will be longer
  • Some tips for shooting Time-lapse videos:
    • Keep the iPhone still
    • Record movement
    • Capture something that changes slowly OR record something that changes quickly

Some Interesting Apps:

The article 5 Best Apps to Record Time Lapse Videos on Andriod, ios, and Windows Phone explores the five apps: Lapse it, Timelapse, Microsoft Hyperlapse, Framelapse, and Overlapse. Each of these apps are in different stages of development here is a breakdown of each.

Lapse it:

While I didn’t physically download the app (as it is not free). I did learn the following:

  • Pros: Easy to use, functional, shoot up to ten frames per second.
  • Cons: There is a supposed ‘blind spot’ when filming.


  • Minimal editing features
  • Constructs the Time-lapse as it goes rather than storing hundreds of pictures.
  • Pros: Provides a player and gallery, supports high and low resolutions.
  • Cons: Potentially may still have some bugs.

Here is an example of a Time-lapse:

Microsoft Hyperlapse:

Is still in the testing process, there is a google plus community anyone can join if they wish to use/test Microsoft Hyperlapse. From what I can tell it is relatively easy to use. Here are a few of the things I learned:

  • Pros: good video stabilization
  • Cons: Only shares to Facebook or Instagram, and it can’t apply it’s effect to existing videos.


Framelapse is probably, in my opinion, is probably one of the most advanced of these apps. It has many features to choose from. They do offer an upgrade to the Pro version (for a price) but may worth it depending on what you are looking for.

  • Pros: Fast to process a Time-lapse after it is created, all can be done on a phone, both the free and upgraded option provides many features.
  • Cons: Doesn’t save photos, no video-editing options, pro version is somewhat expensive.


Overlapse promotes an “easy to use” Time-lapse creator.

  • Pros: Easy to navigate
  • Cons: Gallery is lacking in comparison to other apps

After reading and testing out these apps/features I plan to use the iPhone feature or Timelapse to show my learning progress this week. Read my next learning project post for more information on how (specifically) to create a timelapse officially and to view my progress with painting landscapes!

Sleuthing: Take One

Sleuthing. Not a word I would have known before today. But now I do! Sleuthing is, in a technological context, basically looking up someone online and digging around to find something, or as some of the younger generation would call it, “creeping”. Anywho, for today’s blog post I will be sleuthing a fellow ECMP355 classmate, Darren Brinklow. After doing some searching on Google and Duck Duck Go I drew the following conclusions about Darren’s online presence.

Professional (job-related):

  • Science and Math Teacher at Radville Regional High School in Radville, SK
  • Science Honours at Trent University (Dean’s List) in 2011
  • Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University in 2013
  • Athletic Director at Radville Regional High School

Biographical (age, birthday, location, family, appearance, etc.):

  • Born May 4th
  • Lives in Radville, SK
  • Grew up in Warsaw, a small farming community in Southern Ontario
  • Wife (Kayla)
  • Son (that is newer to the world)
  • Physically: blonde with blue eyes

Personal (hobbies, activities, likes/dislikes, etc.):

  • High School Athletics
  • Coaching Volleyball and Track and Field
  • Enjoys playing lacrosse, hockey, and baseball
  • Enjoying working on vehicles and drag racing
  • Enjoys spending time with wife (also an educator) and son
  • Outdoorsman

Where are they on the web (Social Networks etc.):

Overall Impression:

Very professional and positive online presence. I certainly have found more activity in the creation of your online presence in the last few months, as there was not too much before then. Great progress Darren and keep up the good work for the remainder of the course!

Quite an experience sleuthing is! I can see how some people may see it as an invasion of their privacy. Hence, why it is so important nowadays to have your privacy set as you desire. In today’s world where your digital identity is forever it is crucial that we have a positive online identity both for ourselves and to set a good example for our students. As educators, it is imperative that we take the preventative measures needed to portray the digital identities we want for ourselves.



Time, Paint & a Lake

For the past week, I have been tackling one of the most time-consuming paintings I have ever done. Even though it is only one painting it took me three sittings (each for approximately three hours) to complete this painting. This past week’s landscape was a campfire/cabin by the lake. This landscape enabled me to practice what I have learned about in previous weeks (i.e. clouds and trees) but in a different context.

This week I chose to learn from Chuck Black: Wildlife and Art. His YouTube channel features a number of different videos ranging from what you need to paint, time-lapses, and painting tutorials. This past week I chose to learn from one of his time-lapses and while his painting skills are phenomenal I think I would have to try a different video, maybe one of his painting tutorials, next time as there was a visual of what he was doing but no audio or direction to learn from otherwise. Here is the video of what I learned from this past week:

Along with the painting this week I tried to document my learning in another form. My own time-lapse! However, this did not go as planned 😦 I chose the app Quick Lapse HD to perform my lapse. I downloaded the app and set it all up (very easy to do so- the app guides you through it), setup painting supplies, pressed the play button and started painting. Little did I know that unless you buy the upgraded version that you only could record a time-lapse for 20 seconds… I found this out after I was three hours into painting… whoops! Oh well, I learned for next time!

As I mentioned earlier, I had to break my painting sessions up into three. At the end of each session, I took a photo. Day one was mostly laying the groundwork for the painting. Which actually takes longer than it looks. Here is my progress after day one:

As I mentioned earlier, I had to break my painting sessions up into three. At the end of each session, I took a photo. Day one was mostly laying the groundwork for the painting. Which actually takes longer than it looks. Here is my progress after day one:


Day two began and the painting slowly started to become more intricate. This session was more so about adding to the water by blending as well as defining the trees and cabin. Here’s my progress after day two:



And last but not least, the final day! After nine hours of work, this painting is complete! And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with it. If I were to paint it again I would add something more to the right side of the painting. Only because I feel the left side is busy and full and in comparison, the right side looks bare. Maybe some trees/rocks/land to the right side just above the water line would make it look more full. Anyways here is my completed painting for this week’s post!


Culture of Participation

On May 25th our ECMP 355 class had a guest lecture, Dr. Alec Couros. While our class was only an hour and a half long we discussed many things to do with technology such as online presence, digital identity, and the culture of participation. I would define the culture of participation, in a technological context, as the interactions/relationships one builds through online connection/communication. Thus, this culture of participation creates community. Michael Wesch’s YouTube Video:

Throughout this video, Wesch talks about his experience with his relationships and technology. He stresses that at the center of our mediascape (which are things like YouTube, blogs, email, Facebook, Myspace, etc.) that surrounds us is in fact us. He explains that media is not content but rather media is mediating human relationships. As a result, when media changes so do human relationships. Which is where the whole idea of cultured participation comes in. The world is changing. It already has. For example, look at the advances of these technological devices below:

Change is not always bad. It is simply different. Technology has changed the way in which we participate in the world, in our culture. During Alec’s lecture, he talked about how in previous years people lived in smaller communities, shopped at local stores, or when they wanted to talk to someone you either had to physically go and see them or call them up on the telephone. It is participating in examples such as these that had created a sense of community, culture. Today, you see more people living in larger centers, driving the extra hour to go to Walmart instead of local stores, and connecting online in multiple ways. This shift from then to now has impacted the ways in which we interact with one another. Thus, how we participate in the culture of the technological age.

Now, what does this mean for future classrooms you may ask? ALOT. The possibilities are neverending from using apps that help children learn to spell and write cursive to communicate with parents and so much more! Follow me on Twitter at @kplacatka to find more information on how you can integrate technology purposefully into your classroom!

Tick Tock Goes The Clock – Exploring 1-Click Timer

bintAdam Flickr via Compfight cc

For this blog post I decided to explore 1-Click Timer. This Chrome extension is essentially a timer, but rather than reaching for your phone, googling a link to find an online timer, or physically setting a timer (as in on that you have to turn) it is only a click away once installed.

After playing around with the extension I have to say that I LOVE the actual timer. I find the guitar chords quite relaxing/calming; which is different from the regular alarm/breaking out of prison timer. I think that timer the sound it is would be a nice way to bring back students attention slowly and calming rather than stopping students abruptly and in a hurry.

One of its weaknesses would be that it doesn’t go higher than 60 minutes 😦  I would have to say its most predominant strength is that it is convenient, quick, and easy to use! But most of all very user friendly! There is also a variety of sounds to choose from which is nice. Especially if someone didn’t care for this one, however I think it’s lovely!

As for potential 1-Click-Timer has in the classroom, I would say it’s limitless. I can’t think of a time when a teacher isn’t saying five more minutes, two minutes, one minute etc. 1-Click-Timer provides a clear visual that is easy for both teachers and students to use. It’s definitely something I will be including throughout my teaching practice. I would highly recommend this to other educators! Check it out!