Student Engagement and Techniques Course – Blog 1

First blog since my last course 2 years ago.  Life got in the way and I didn’t follow through with “my world of blog”.  Well I am back… so here we go.

The other night I sat at a Community Education meeting with my First Nation Band.  I recently moved back to my home territory and decided it was time to give back and be an active member with the band especially in the field of education.  I am lucky and have been working in the public education system with Aboriginal youth for nearly two decades.  During our round table discussion we were asked to say one word we would like to tell our youth about the future of education.  A man sitting a couple of seats down from me talked about he’s experience in the education system.  He talked about the feeling of helplessness, racism, discrimination and wondered if any adult cared.  He said “If I felt that way, what do the youth today feel?”  As he was talking I was jotting down notes because I was remember the first couple of chapter of the book, Student Engagement and Techniques by Elizabeth F. Barkley (2010) on intervention techniques, especially the part about ‘At Risk’ students and disengagement.  I thought about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and where the basic fundamentals like sleep and food need to be met before higher levels needs can be met.

Tamsin McMahon (2014) talks about the horrifying facts of Aboriginal children and youth living on reservations in Canada.  In her article she outlines the unfair distribution of education funds from the federal government to on reserve schools, the conditions of the these schools and the lack of curriculum needed for students to get their education.  But these aren’t the only barriers to the young people on reservations.  Poverty, isolation, drugs and alcohol, lack of proper housing and adequate drinking water are just the tip of the iceberg.  When Tamsin interviewed a former at risk youth, Mike McKenzie said he felt there was hope for the young people and future opportunities.  He says… “You don’t have to be condemned from day one just because you were born on a reserve.”

Victor Rios (2015) on Ted Talks brings to the forefront how the education system ignores the most vulnerable students.  He says there are three strategies the education system needs to mindshift when it come to working with ‘At Risk’ students;

  1. Deficit perspective of education.
  2. Value the student’s stories – welcome into the classroom.
  3. provide more adequate resources to youth ie., job training, counseling, mentorship programs.

The one thing Mr. Rois said that hit home for me was “When you teach from the heart the mind will follow.”

These students have the potential and ability to change and so do we – the educators.

Barkley, Elizabeth F., Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculity, 2010, Jossey-Bass

McMahon, Tamsin, Why Fixing First Nation Education remains so far out of reach , Aug 22, 2014, Macleans

Rois, Victor, November 2015, Help for Kids the Education System Ignores, TED Talks Live



Week 9 – Blogging


“Blogging is like the eagles flying high above the sunflowers sending messages to the Creator.”  Faye


So what have I learned in the “Secret World of Blog?”(reference to Pierre Burton’s book “Secret World of Og.”)  I’ve got to say that if it wasn’t for this course I would have never adventured to the underworld or blogging but now I am glad I did it.

The first thing I did when I knew I had to create a blog was search the web and read some amazing references (see below) and great resources from the course.  I noticed most people were using WordPress so I decided I would also.

These are the things I learned about creating a blog;

  1.  It it scary!  OMG!  What is blogging?  First thing I did was ask my daughter… nasty look… figure it out for yourself mom?  Second, the students will know at school.  Wrong!  Third, the young teacher I work with will know.  Yes, help… well a least more than I got from my daughter and the students.  Fourth, research, research, research.
  2. Tackle my fears.  OMG!  OK.  Where do I go?  What is a domain?  What site do I use?  Fear… that knot in my gut when I don’t what the heck I’m getting myself into.  Breathe… everyone else in the course has to do this also.  It will be okay.  What do I say to the students?  Don’t let fear control your destiny and reach for the moon.  Remember my goal.
  3.  I was living in denial.  Hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I can do this.  I did need to get out of my comfort zone.  Now maybe I’ll tackle snapchat… not!  I still don’t understand ‘hashtag’ on my Twitter account.
  4.  I had to get creative.  What do I post?  Why does everyone else’s look better than mine.  After reading Joshua Becker’s blog ‘A Simple, Helpful Guide to Start Your Blog’  I feel better knowing that as my confidence grows blogging, I will become more creative and comfortable with my site.  I am even thinking of blogging on a regular basis.
  5.  I became a better researcher.  I had no idea that the blog world was so big and interesting.  I realized I like reading blogs more than articles.
  6.  I enjoy reading other’s blogs.   A new world of connecting with others.  As a life long learner, I know I will continue to grow reading other people’s blogs.  Maybe I even get brave and reply to some of them.
  7.  I have to be a more thoughtful thinker.  Blogging is out there forever.  In the Cloud, cyperspace as I call it.  Be careful with my words.  I can’t take them back.
  8.  I’m a better person.  Blogging has expanded my horizons has taught me not to limit my mind and extend my imagination.  It has opened the doors to the world without leaving my house.  As I write and read other’s blogs, I have become more inquisitive.  I feel more balanced.

What classmates’s blog did I learn from?

I looked at several different classmates’ blogs and found them intriguing.  Ian’s blog made my mouth water because I could clearly see right away that he was in the food industry.  His blog about learning disorders in adult learners made me think about all the students I have worked with that had learning disorders.  Their challenges would continue through post secondary but their determination to push on will make them succeed.  Kate and Laura’s blogs were similar because they are both in the medical profession and they both had great information about technology in the health care profession and how important it is for new nurses and professionals to be learning it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a partner but I feel that I benefited because it gave me the opportunity to review more classmates’ blogs.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of my blog?

Now looking about other classmates’ blog, I definitely can see I need to reference and link my information better.  Being more creative with my site is going to be the next step.  I have a difficult time with a white background so it must be difficult for others to read mine.  Will be my first priority.  I need to be more open-minded and more confident.



Abdullahi, (n.d.)

Becker, Joshua, (n.d.) 15 Reason I think You Should Blog

Reich, Daniel, (Oct. 15/11) 9 Reasons You Should Blog


Week 8 – Preparing for Instruction 5 – Transformative Learning


Paulo Freire – Critical Pedagogy

I picked Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedegogy because of the personal connection to working in the Aboriginal community and the school system.  Freire said that “… my social condition didn’t allow me to have an education…”  But he also believed that oppression shapes one’s learning and can be the transformation to better things.  Freire empowered the less fortunate to bring their own knowledge and experiences into the learning process so that they could think critically about their situation and take action to liberate themselves.

How do I bring this knowledge into a classroom setting.  By understanding that first I need to know the individuals.  This may be difficult if the class is online but in a traditional classroom a strategy may be to do an ice breaker of getting to know individuals like introductions, talking circle, games, etc.

Another thing to remember is not to go into the ‘banking concept’ (student has no knowledge and teacher has all).  Remember that the student has knowledge and something to contribute, that there be ‘back and forth’ critical reflection, and that there is a horizontal relationship (Taylor 1998 p. 18).

One of the first things I bring up in School Base Team Meetings and Care Team meetings is the environmental factors of some families ie, single parent, unemployment, etc. and to come up with goals and supports for the individual.   I know from the holistic approach and the hierarchy of needs, if the fundamentals needs like food, shelter, water are not met, learning will not happen.



Preparing for Instruction 4 – Cognitive Science for Learning

IMG_1211Strategies for Improving Memory by Cherri Straus, MPH

Well it is good to know that after reading Straus’ article I can now say that I am not losing my memory as I creep closer to age 55.  Distraction seems to be my enemy and I need to control and strengthen my skills and utilize more of the strategies set out in Straus’ article.

So how does this all look in a classroom?  As an instructor to adult learner, reducing some of the anxiety will be a start.   Giving the learners strategies to develop and strengthen their memory skills is also another factor.  Keeping open communications with the learner is also important.

Assignment 2 – Preparing for Instruction 3 – Motivation

How to keep motivation of the adult learner going in the learning environment?  As I read Chapter 8 – Motivation and Learning, from the assigned book, Adult Learning, Linking Theory and Practice by Sharan B. Merrian & Laura L. Bierema and an article called ‘Nine Strategies to Spark Adult Students’ Intrinsic Motivation’ by Ludmila Battista & Verlinda Ruble, I realized that the instructor needs to keep the student passionate about learning.

Battista and Ruble’s article focused on Intrinsic motivation and suggested strategies to encourage the learner.  Strategies like sharing experiences on the part of the learner and the instructor, inviting guests in to talk about experiences that are relevant to the course, taking students on field for the visual connection, providing other avenues of resources like mentorship and counseling services.

It will be my job as the instructor to keep the student passionate about tIMG_1674he material and course.  One way I can do this is by getting to know the student, share my experiences and reason I am teaching the course, invite them in to share openly and freely in a safe environment and to encourage an open dialogue.

This is no different than I do right now with the students I work with.  When we share in the talking circle, students are encouraged to share and express their feelings, concerns and opinions with the teachings of the seven sacred teachings; respect, truth, love, courage, wisdom, humility and honesty.  It’s about building a relationship of trust.

As the instructor I will hopefully realize when the student may be struggling and help them get back the passion of learning again.

Nine Strategies to Spark Adult Students’ Intrinsic Motivation

Preparing for Instruction 2 – Creating a Postive Learning Environment


The article I picked for this blog is from James Ballou called “Creating a Positive Learning Environment for Adults”. Edited by Jacqueline Chinappi (7/11/2011).

He talks about the importance of knowing the difference between pedagogy and androgogy when it comes to a positive learning environment for adults.  To remember that adults are coming in the course with experiences, knowledge and a desire to learn whereas children are fresh learners and are being taught the information with no experience and probably no knowledge.

Some keys points I need to remember from Ballou’s article are trust, open communication and a shared learning environment with my adult learners.  I need to engage with the learner and get to know individuals, what are their interests, knowledge, reason for taking the course and what they want to get out of it.

One thing I will need to be careful of is not to go back to the pedagogy teaching environment which I am so accustom of.  I need to have clear expectations, an open dialogue and when it comes to feedback, it must be done privately and in a professional manner.



Week 4 Assignment

My partner decided to delay this course until the fall so I am without a partner.  What I did get to know about her was that she had been in her job for many years with a financial institution.  I may even know some of her colleges… didn’t have a chance to ask.  I wish her the best and maybe we will be partners again in another course.