Q and A Catch-up day: TTCT, Technology in Education and Blogging

Q and A Catch-up day: TTCT, Technology in Education and Blogging

Tonight’s class was helpful b/c together we were able to review all the technology that we have been using.

In some way or the other, it’s nice that we can see each other’s triumphs and struggles with technology. Our blogs will be a way for us to see our progression in this class, a keepsake if you will.

As Carmen Holota said during the class discussion, I forgot how much I miss blogging.

For this class, I have been taking the time to do my weekly posts and I am enjoying them. I have also been enjoying reading my fellow classmates posts. I appreciate all of my classmates, Katia and Alec’s feedback.


(Thanks guys)

Last night Alec asked me and fellow TTCT members about teachers collaboratively working together to improve our teaching practices.

TTCT stands for: Thom Technology Catalyst Team (TTCT)

It formed in January 2012 by an awesome Instructional Consultant named: Erik Vandusen. Today, we are still a group of teachers and consultants at Thom Collegiate, who get together, looking for meaningful ways to integrate technology into our practice.

We are always looking to find new ways to engage our students in their learning. We seek meaningful connections to the subjects we are teaching. We are also a dedicated group who meets on a monthly basis, to share what we have experienced with our students in all subject areas. We take risks and experiment with a variety of technology tools in our classrooms.

Our goal is to increase student engagement; we adopted BYOT in our classrooms which became a school-wide policy. We discovered how powerful it is to collaborate, take risks and learn from each other’s experiences.

Just today, members got together to help plan #edcampthom for our morning PD on November 10th. It’s very similar to an “unconference” where teachers can have informal conversations based around their areas of interest. It is also a PD where learning is self-chosen.


Our hope is that others will learn from our experiences and form a Technology Catalyst group at their own school.

Give us a follow at: @ThomTechteam

ttct twitter

As a French Immersion Language Arts and Spanish teacher, I teach students everyday on language acquisition and learning.

To learn a second or third language is an important skill to take on, as well as there are many benefits to learning an additional language. Keeping languages learners motivated in the classroom, is something that I have struggled with from time to time, but I am always keen on learning new technology that helps engage and motivate the language learner.

I believe that technology is here to stay and it is not going away. As a teacher I have embraced technology in my classroom because there is a benefit to having it in my classroom on a daily basis. Technology is not a novelty; it is also not an outcome. It’s a tool to engage my students in their language learning.

The word “change” comes mind and it’s something that teachers have to be willing to accept and to change within their teaching practices. Change will not happen overnight. The integration of technology in the classroom is a learning process which can be done easily with some time. There will be discomfort and risks when integrating technology in the classroom, but taking little steps at a time, can be a very positive experience.

As educators using technology in many different ways, it’s super important that we continue to be lifelong learners, to collaborate, and continue to live as connected learners!

As teachers, we need to continue to have relationships with our students at school! We need to find ways to encourage kids to want to be in the school setting and remember that relationships among teachers and students are connections to learning. The place of school is a location where you can connect with students. At the same time, when the school day gets busy, teachers need to take time to reflect! (Blogging and journaling will help me with this process.)

So I am asking fellow #eci831 classmates: Do our teaching practices follow the 21st century learning, or are we still teaching from the past and not moving into the future?



Strumming the guitar!

Strumming the guitar!

guitar pic of krista

I am using a new vocabulary word now: strumming!

Never heard of this word until a week ago and now I am actually learning how to strum a guitar! I have been learning from Anthony Iglesias via his You Tube channel at:


He has also taught me how to properly hold the pic for the guitar, and this has been helpful for me because using my own “man hand fingers” has been tough.

Rhythm in strumming is key!

Down stroke

Down stroke

Up stroke

Up stroke

Down stroke

Up stroke

It’s important to let the pic glide down the strings. I have been trying to let my hand stay loose and try to relax

Eric Branner also has a great You Tube page on strumming techniques:

When strumming, I have been practicing the motion in my arm, my wrist and my rotation.

-wrist moving up and down

-practice rotation

-practice each strumming pattern individually.

Super Easy Guitar Links You Tube channel has by far been my favorite site:


Not only is he helpful in my guitar learning, but he has also been instrumental in my guitar strumming technique!

Have I mentioned how much my fingers hurt? They say that eventually as you keep playing and keep practicing, that your fingers get used to the pain and eventually the fingers stop hurting! Here’s hoping!

guitar pain

Here is a video of me practicing my strumming this week while at school.

Slowly but surely; I can start to hear some music!



Will I be a Spanish guitarist?

 First time I ever heard the song “Bamboleo” I fell in the love with the sound of the guitar. I’ll never forget it. I was 19, moved abroad to Mexico City to study Spanish for the year at UNAM the National University of Mexico City. The Gypsy kings are one of my most favourite bands! I hope one day…. down the road that I will be able to play this song on guitar.

But for now, it’s back to Feliz Navidad. Here is a clear sound of the chords that I have mastered so far without stopping:

CGD chords are now kind to me!

Again, I am quite proud of myself that I even picked up the guitar and I’m looking forward to moving along past this stage. The goal is to use these chords but to a faster pace and to move along with strumming! Practice and dedication will help me achieve this.

Did I mention I have man hands? Sausage looking fingers?

man hands

Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfield when Jerry goes on a date with a woman with man hands….those are my hands.

Moving along the fret and neck board have taken some getting used to with my man hands….but slowly and surely it’s coming along.

Speaking of which, I am now learning parts of the classical guitar instead of making up names for it.

Classical guitar parts

Classical guitar parts




Networking my identity: @kristabgates

Networking my identity: @kristabgates

Bonnie Stewart was a great guest speaker for tonight’s  #ECI831 class. She discussed our identities and asked how do we want to contribute? What gifts would we like to share out there?

When I look at my identity, I think:

Krista Brockhill Gates:




-Masters student

-new guitar player (I’m getting there slowly but surely)

As Bonnie discussed tonight, we can’t just put labels on our identities. It’s about  putting yourself out there and making an identity. As a mom and teacher, my goal is to have my students reach their full potential and the same time make learning meaningful and engaging to them. My contribution is and has been to put myself out there.  To learn and network with others and as well as share what has been working in my own classroom both the success and the not so successful moments in my teaching career.

I have experienced networking first and foremost from Twitter. I met people and continue to meet people on a daily basis via the Twitterverse. Through Twitter, I have shared resources and have connected with other educators from all over the world.  For myself, Twitter is a place to connect with others on a daily basis professionally and personally.

With Twitter and other social media networks, we all have what’s called: Network identity roles.

My role is a professional teacher but I also play the role of mother. With twitter I have been able to stay an active and also a connected educator. I have also been able to actively engage in my (PLN) personal learning networks, attain meaningful learning and engagement with my students, as well as be able to connect with staff and the community.

Katia, Alec and Bonnie talked about “Digital dualism” and I was intrigued by this. I checked the link that Alec sent out from Nathan Jurgenson.


It talked about the idea that online and offline are complete separate and different worlds. The real and virtual worlds can sometimes be misleading and this is something we all need to be aware of when networking out there. For example, when I’m on my teacher Twitter with my students, it’s not always the same conversation that I would have on my personal Twitter account. The conversations are sometimes different then they would be with adults vs. students. (This can also be linked with “connect and collapse” when we change our thoughts when we have different audiences.)

Bonnie also talked about digital communication signals and showed how they can be so easily copied, replicable, searchable and can easily go viral. One good example I have of this, is when I went to Mosaic last year and ran into Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at one of the Pavilions. I took a picture of him and I and posted it on my personal Twitter account. Sure enough it was copied, searched and it went viral via CBC. This just goes to show how digital communication signals are quick like a blink of an eye!


Check out this link where CBC used my image and tweet: http://www.cbc.ca/1.2667349

Everything that we say, do in life in person, through the internet, television Twitter is attached to names everywhere. I feel as though it has become part of our identity. Social media is part of our identity. (Even if we like it or not)

I currently have 3 Twitter identities:

*One is my Teacher/Personal/learning account – @kristabgates


*One is my French Immersion Teacher account (to connect with my students) @MadameGates


*One is for my Spanish teacher account- (to connect with my students) @SenoraGates


When looking at my 3 Twitter accounts, I think about our social media identity and how it is truly linked to our own personal daily lives and interactions that we all face on a daily basis. I like to promote my classroom activities, student learning, and future upcoming activities that are going on in my classroom via my student/ teacher Twitter accounts. This is an awesome positive association between social media, the teacher and the student because we are making positive connections with each other. But then as always there are the negative associations with social media.

Last year, many will recall the negative association with Twitter and Instagram with the U of R Cheerleading team. After a stereotypical and racist image was sent out by the U of R team, Twitter was bombarded with many negative, racist and angry comments about the picture taken from the U of R cheerleading team.

This article below gives a sample of some of the many negative things that were said: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/cowboys-and-indians-cheerleaders-photo-sparks-regina-furor-1.2574979

This is a perfect example of how your twitter/ Instagram identity can have a negative association when put out in social media. People need to be very careful, and aware of what they put out into the social media universe because once it is out there, it’s there…you will not be able to take it back.

This is why teaching our students and others about Digital citizenship are so very important. Many students and people don’t always realize that you need to protect your social media identity and practice being good digital citizens. We are living in a time where our identities are linked through social media and our own personal daily lives. Who you are in the real world, is also linked to your social media identity. It is super important that we all be very careful and protective with our identities on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and so forth.

Here is a link on how to use the internet in a responsible, ethical manner: to be a positive “netizen”!


So fellow EC&I 831 classmates what are your thoughts? Are our social media identities the same as our own personal “real world” identities?



Follow me 🙂

Practice makes perfect….but in a slow and consistent way!

Practice makes perfect….but in a slow and consistent way!


Practice does make perfect but for me and my guitar learning it has been slow but proud to say consistent. Just picking up the guitar for the first time over a month ago was a bid deal for me! The excitement has worn down, now it’s about getting into the learning fully! Being a fulltime mom, teacher and taking two Masters classes this semester has been fun! Did I mention I am learning tot play the guitar too!?!?

I hope you don’t mind, but you will see my family or hear my family in many of my past or future videos. They are my “entourage” and my support in this major digital learning project.

Chords have become my new best friend. Without this beautiful digital cheat sheet I would be in big trouble. I have been researching many different sites from time to time on chords. I found that by reading up on them, I know what chords are easy, medium, difficult and which ones I will eventually learn.



I am also enjoying a couple of other You Tube videos for Guitar beginners such as:

-Guitar Chords for beginners:

(Clear and slow for me!!)

-Beginner guitar chords :your first chords and strums:

(He has been teaching me about strumming and this has been helpful even though I am at a lower level still!  (Super helpful and he makes it look easy!)

A few things that I have noticed:

-wow…… my fingers are sore!

-My son and daughter come and play the guitar with me and automatically they know the “exact song” I am trying to play. I think it’s forever embedded in their brains! My daughter said “there’s no snow yet and you’re already singing Feliz Navidad”?

-My husband goes downstairs as soon as I take out the guitar….I know he’s proud of me:)



Sylvia Martinez : Maker Movement in Education

I feel super energized after having listened to Sylvia speak tonight! I admire what she said when she talked about how we can invent in our learning and at the same time, we can make learning fun! Sylvia discussed Maker Movement in Education which she talks about in her current book Invent to Learn that discusses tinkering, making and engineering in the classroom. She was super encouraging tonight and encouraged us to let our students play, to build, to think out of anything they can get their hands on. To let our students be their own creators and to always let them learn through play.

Katia and Sylvia brought up Makey Makey kits and I was intrigued and researched it online! I was shocked to see what a cool kit this was! Check out this cool You Tube video on Makey Makey:

I am not an expert with my students; in regards to integrating technology in education. I am always learning with my students on a daily basis. Not only are my students learning from me, I am also learning from them!

After having listened to Sylvia speak, I think that this can be implemented in the classroom. It can start with cardboard and sharing as learning takes place! As teachers we are always setting the stage for learning to take place for our students. For learning to take place, we need to let our students play and tinker. We need to take a step back and let our students think on their own while the project based learning takes place. As the project continues, see how much the students learn, stand back and when they need help, give ideas. Encourage these students, give the time and material and see where it goes.

Have you ever seen the video about Caine’s arcade? It’s a great video that teaches us that we need to let our students play. Sometimes as high school teachers, we forget this but we have to remember that playing is also a shape and form of learning.

Here is the video on Caine’s arcade:

Making and creating piñatas is no circuit board, but it’s something that is meaningful for my students learning. For my Spanish 30 students near the end of the semester, they are given the opportunity to learn about the history of piñatas within the Mexican culture. My students are also given the time to make a list of things that they find meaningful and what they enjoy celebrating within their families and their cultures. They then narrow down their list to one idea and make a visual representation of it. After having done their reflections on this, my students create a piñata through observations and their own personal experiences.

pinata 3

My students are essentially through making a piñata celebrating something meaningful in their lives by using paper mache, newspaper, and balloons and cardboard. After their project is finished in its design process, they add paint and tissue paper to their piñata. Later my students partake in the  tradition of a Mexican fiesta where they get to break their piñata if they so choose. It’s a wonderful and creative project for my students and they quite enjoy it every year.

pinata 1pinata 2

When I first introduced this project 8 years ago, I would close my classroom door, afraid that teachers would think that we do “nada” in Spanish 30! Then I realized, this is project based and meaningful learning for my students. Later I began to invite my admin to see what my students were doing because they were quite proud of this meaningful learning project that took place.

As Sylvia discussed, this is a great time in our Education system for constructivism, learning, collaboration and sharing. It’s a time to help teachers collaborate and adapt their curriculum to make learning engaging and appealing for our students.

I have always felt even more energized after attending ED Camps, Mooc’s, TTCT (Thom Technology Catalyst Team) meetings because together we are collaborating, sharing and getting ideas on what is working in the classroom for meaningful learning.

By making a relationship between a teacher and student they are connecting and understanding the learning that is happening. To create opportunities for open learning, tinkering, sharing and playing!



Change of song for the new guitar player: Feliz Navidad!


As part of my ECI 831 course, we are required to work on our major digital project on a daily basis! Again, what I chose was guitar learning via the internet!

WARNING AGAIN: I have never picked up an instrument in my life! I cannot sing nor am I an artist of any sorts!

This learning project requires time, commitment and courage! I am basically learning an instrument that I have never played and guitar chords that I know nothing about. But I am super excited about learning how to play an instrument that I have always been curious about!

For our project we also have to document the learning process. My choice of documentation is pictures, videos and blog. I am actually shy about posting my learning via video, but I will see my progression from the start to the finish line….hopefully I will be able to play the song Feliz Navidad!

Speaking of song, did I mention I changed my original song from La Bamba to Feliz Nadidad?!?! Originally when I first began working on this project, I decided upon La Bamba via the Tabs learning method. After more research via the guitar online learning world, I realized that for a newbie like me, Chords are easiest to learn with and in end I chose the new song: Feliz Navidad!

Now why on earth would I choose a Spanish Speaking Christmas song you ask? Well for starters, I am 50% Mexican and 50% Canadian. I am trilingual in the French, Spanish and English language and a teacher of the Spanish language! Every December, I teach my students the Feliz Navidad lyrics and we partake in a traditional Mexican fiesta. This year, a I look forward to teaching them via live music from their own teacher me…Sra. Gates!

guitar 6

So far the sources that I have gathered for my learning are:

The author of this You Tube site is Andy Collins who has a sexy English accent…. (Makes learning fun for me!) He also has a Blog called: http://www.nailguitar.com

Now I have been checking out: Thomas Michaud at:


And also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5N08mHpkZU

(She is extremely visual in her teaching for me because I am a visual learner!)

So this learning project is extremely new for me! A total guitar newbie! Because I am a newbie, I know my learning demonstration of learning will be a slow but a gradual one! I am also very positive that I will be able to play this song fully by Christmas!

So far I have mastered the G and C chord!




Google Apps for Education in the classroom


I really enjoyed listing to Micheal Wacker’s energy while he spoke in regards to Google Apps for Education during Tuesday’s class! I agree with him when he discussed that by using different apps within Google it truly maximizes learning opportunities, engagement and interest amongst students and teachers. Michael is huge role model on how teachers can be and stay connected leaders/ teachers in the classroom for engaged student learning.

The only Google app that I used up until 2 years ago was the search engine. I was introduced to Google Apps in Education by another amazing Google Apps for education teacher Joanna Sanders. When I first saw all the amazing Google Apps I was amazed and was literally blown away. I was also shocked by all Google Apps and how easy and useful they were for myself and my students.

I remember working on a presentation via Google apps and I was amazed on how I was able to interact on the same document with other staff member at the same time. I was also able to share our presentation with other teachers and at the same time, they were able to add on and wok on it at the same time.

Google apps for education are interactive tools for planning and sharing amongst teachers and students. For my fellow French Immersion teachers that I work with, we hold our meeting minutes and goals for the year through Google Apps for education. For out TTCT (Thom Technology Catalyst Team), it is a way for us to go back and look back to see what we have accomplished over the years in regards to tech integration in the classroom.

I have used Google Drive with my students as a digital portfolio with my French Immersion students as a way to keep track of their French Language learning and progression with the language. This is a way for them to look back, keep track of assignments for future references. It’s nice to know that all of their work is saved, less stress for them as a student and for me as a teacher.

I am finding that more and more students are coming well equipped with the knowledge and usage of Google Apps for education. When students do presentation for my classroom, I am finding that many of them are at ease with Google Drive and the other awesome Google Apps. I find that because they are at ease with this application, they are more at ease with technology in the classroom.

During our class presentation tonight from Michael, I took back some more info which is awesome; I had no idea that Google Drive could be used offline. Our bandwidth at school is decent, but in case we had issues with the internet, this would be helpful for my students and I.

In the end, I really do cherish and love Google aps in Education for my students and I because the work we do is backed up and saved, there is privacy which is enormous in the education world and the different apps are engaging, useful and meaning for all learners.

When I am finished my Masters, I will definitely want to be a certified Google Certified Teacher! (Looking forward to it!)




Blogging for the student and the teacher…love Sue Walters!


It was nice to hear from Sue Walters again tonight. I first met her two years ago at ETMOOC and found her extremely fascinating! I truly believe in what Sue believes in…to use technology in education and help others use technology in the classroom for meaningful learning.

I created my very first blog as a “trial and error blogger” two years ago. Check it out here:


I was very open to this concept and wanted to learn more about it with my students. I’m an extrovert! I love sharing and collaborating with others, so I had no problems sharing information about my learning and my learning from others. I wasn’t afraid of blogging and I instantly fell in love with it. I really enjoy creative writing and I enjoy sharing about my daily life on social media in regards to my family and everything that I do in general. I like to share and collaborate and I also like to meet new people so blogging fit right in for me.

Blogging for this class has been awesome! I’m really enjoying reading other fellow #eci831 classmates blogs as well as reading my classmates feedback on my blog. I also enjoy venturing out on the web to find other educator blogs. Ones that I really enjoy are:

Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/ @edutopia

TeachThought: http://www.teachthought.com/ @TeachThought

Mind/Shift: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/ @mindshiftKQED

***Check them out! Great resources, learning and sharing!

Since I began blogging and using Twitter, I have been constantly on the lookout for something new to learn. After having listened to Sue Walters (Edublogger master) and Alec Couros (Ed Tech master) during ETMOOC two years ago, I began to learn new techniques and ways on how to make my blog more appealing. I have added pictures, websites, videos, widgets and have linked to my Twitter account. I am no professional at blogging whatsoever, I consider myself a beginner-to intermediate learner. I enjoy blogging because it’s a way to share and make meaning from my learning and my students learning.

The classroom is no longer a closed door room. Blogging is a way for our students to share and grow from their own learning experiences.   It is also a great way to collaborate and share learning resources with millions of teachers out there.

During this class, it’s been great hearing feedback on my Blog from my fellow classmates. There is so much potential with blogging because it reaches out to others in a meaningful way and helps enhance one’s learning. Blogging is also a feel good, loving and supportive community! It’s nice to know, that there are other teachers out there wanting to share resources and experiences in their classrooms. Collaboration is blogging and it rocks. I love blogging and look forward to integrating E-portfolios and blogging into the classroom with my students.

Check out Edutopia’s Blog on: Blogging in the 21st century classroom


Here are the top Educational Blogs to follow for 2014