My inner Spanish rocker

Hello EC&I 831!

I can’t believe we have two more classes left! My major digital project is coming to a close. Please be sure to check out a video of my guitar playing (Feliz Navidad) on my Summary of learning.

Meet my son Connor:

connor rock

He’s a happy and energetic 4 year old boy who is channelling his inner rocker while his mom practices and plays her guitar.

My thoughts on this project have been that I envy anyone who can easily grasp a musical instrument. Had it not been for this project and class, being the busy mom and teacher that I am, I would have put the guitar playing to the side.  I am thankful that I had the opportunity, the time, the finger beatings on my fingers to learn to play the guitar via online learning and face time supplements in my guitar journey.

My guitar journey


  1. The first thing that I did was research and choose from various guitar instruction websites. There are millions and millions of guitar learning websites on You Tube. I found that some of the sites were free and some will cost some money. The free websites were just as good as the paid websites and most were designed with in-depth instruction for beginners, intermediate and advanced guitar playing.

These are my top 5 sites that I enjoyed using at a beginners level:

– Thomas Michaud at:

Jose Felicianno at:

2. Second, when I chose my song “Feliz Navidad” I realized that I had to also learn about parts of the guitar even the term “strumming”! While learning online I picked up terms for various guitar parts like: fret, fingerboard, heel, turning peg, sound hole, rib and all the lovely chords of the guitar.

3. Third, I have short “man hands” so I had to also learn about adjusting my fingers in the right position while keeping my wrist loose on the fret hand positions. The G, C and D chords were my best friends and the only way I was able to use them properly was with continuous daily practice….sometimes even hours! Practicing for hours also embedded these finger positions into my busy mom/teacher brain. Eventually, I began to figure out if it was the correct sound and pitch coming from the guitar. And if the sound was wrong, I knew I had to work on my finger placement while strumming the guitar. The finger pain, the finger indents eventually went away because my fingers were getting used to playing.

4.  Practicing in front of the camera, friends, family and my face to face supplements Mr. Warren and Miss McDivitt (Teachers and fellow colleagues from Thom Collegiate). While practicing the guitar, I would also go over all the chords over and over again. I always looked and stopped at my finger placements on the guitar but eventually I got the hang of it.

5. There were a few times that I wanted to throw the guitar against the floor like the United Airlines throwing and breaking guitars video. It’s normal that there were frustrations during this learning process but eventually the guitar playing began to link with the humming and singing of the song.

In summary of my Digital Learning project, I believe that you can theoretically learn to play the guitar via online learning.  You can actually LEARN anything that you are truly passionate about via the internet. For example my daughter Madison who is 8 years old, has learned how to create Rainbow loom bracelets via the internet. She found the instructions useless via paper based instructions, and motivated herself to learn online with You Tube videos.  She is currently addicted to making them.


I also found that as long as you have the persistence, motivation to learn online, you can learn how to dance to even learn how to fix a timing belt on a car. During this project, I watched and read about fellow EC& I 831 classmates learn via the internet on numerous things from language learning, learning via Mooc’s to even sew and make fashion bags!

Looking back on this Major Digital project, I have had a lot of fun in my guitar learning journey. I look forward to learning new songs…..perhaps one day down the road; I will want to teach guitar playing as a hobby. I know that I am not the perfect guitar player, but I am supper proud of myself. And now that I have this motivation, I will definitely continue my online learning with the guitar in the future….I can’t stop now….I have my inner Spanish Rocker in me now.



Krista Gates (Brockhill)

Listen to my voice!


It’s been a busy and crazy week with extra curricular at my school with our fall musical. It also took me a while to gather my thoughts and feelings from Tuesday’s night class with Audrey Watters’ session when she spoke about gender inequalities in the technology world.

I am going to be honest and say that I was uncomfortable during the session. I am quick to post on my blog after our night classes, but that night I decided to play and practice with my guitar. I was bothered and avoiding this blog post because of many reasons. I was also bothered that I kept quiet during the chat discussions that evening. I’m an extrovert of a person and I believe in sharing my voice on many different issues. So I was bothered with myself…… that I kept quiet during the chat discussion that evening as I watched the discussion coming along.

I felt as though the workplace for women had changed for the positive and the good. But after having listened to Audrey speak, we FOR SURE still have quite a ways to go.

Audrey’s narratives on her experiences with death threats made me look closer on the evil side of the internet. Audrey speaks her mind on her blog and has the full right to. Her strong voice as a woman was not favoured by many, so she was made to feel uncomfortable with these awful threats which are ridiculous! She has the full right to state her opinions and I fully support her amazing blog.

It makes me mad to think about the sexism, the threats, the harassment, the violence that women and minority groups are facing on the internet. Audrey shed light also on the fact that the internet that we all use, is designed by wealthy and privileged men whose main focus is to be geared toward the male population. She discussed how women and minority groups continued to be marginalized groups and are not equally represented on the internet. If you think about and look closely, it is all around all of us. May it be from advertisements, politics, and social groups it’s cyclical.

We all have the right to state our opinions, feelings and thoughts. In the work place professionally speaking, we always need to be aware of what we say on the social media and the internet.

I love my teaching profession. I am vocal on my job, but to be honest, I am very aware of the “politics” that surround me in regards to gender. I have heard comments about “boys clubs” and “girls clubs”, comments about gendered position advancements in our system and to be honest it’s very frustrating to hear. I have heard these comments for a long while now, and frankly I have tried to be quick on responding with questions to make others have uncomfortable discussions. Why can’t we just work together gendered friendly? Why are these comments even around? Why is it even an issue?

I am just as qualified in our teaching profession as another other man and woman is. Why do we hear these comments……it always bothers me so I am letting this steam out!

We need to have uncomfortable discussions with each other, in order to let these gender inequalities out in the open, instead of sweeping them under the rug….like the internet has. No more side discussions or walking away when these comments are floating around. These gender issues need to be addressed and make people uncomfortable like Audrey’s session did.

This is the hardest blog post that I have ever written. I know some of you will relate to the comments that I brought about. We all need to take a better look and look closely at what surrounds us and also on the internet. Not just look and think about it, but to also use your voice and have these uncomfortable discussions.


Krista Gates


P.S. Please continue to support student travel who may not have the opportunity and chance to do so. Did I mention Saskatchewan is in the lead? Thanks for your continued support on this. You can vote once a day here: here until November 30th. Share with friends and family….let’s do the “internet wave”.


Hello fellow EC&I 831 classmates!

I work with some pretty awesome people at Thom Collegiate. I may sound biased because this is the school where I teach, but I truly do believe this.

Yesterday while most of the School Divisions were off for the long weekend, Regina Public Schools still had its employees come in for a professional development day.

Our Leaders had approached the TTCT a month ago to create a morning of engaging and meaningful learning for our staff, so we all gladly took on this challenge.

For the past month, our leadership and TTCT planned our very first #edcampthom


Some of you may be wondering, what is this word: TTCT?

TTCT stands for Thom Technology Catalyst Team. TTCT formed in January 2012 and to this day, we are 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, seeking out deep, meaningful connections to the subjects we are teaching.

We are 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.

To increase student engagement, we adopted BYOD/T 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.

We hope that others will learn from our experiences and form a Technology Catalyst group at their own school. Since forming, there are have been other schools who have adopted a school technology team such as: Campbell Collegiate, Scott Collegiate and as well as Sheldon Williams.

Back to the #edcampthom………what is an #edcamp?


When I Googled Edcamp it states:

Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs. What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event.

Prior to #edcampthom I have been to and presented at #edcampyqr on a couple of occasions. I really enjoy #edcamps because you have the freedom to attend sessions that suit your needs and you are also able to have informal conversations with other teaching colleagues.

Another bonus is, if you aren’t interested in some of the sessions, you can offer a session that you would like to share and discuss with others as an alternate.

For an #edcamp the law of two feet applies. This is PD geared to your needs.  If the sessions don’t apply to what you were looking for, you can always move to one that works for you. (No feelings will be hurt)


It is also:

-Informal conversations based around areas of interest

-Professional learning that is self-chosen

-If you and a colleague want to show something that you’re doing or if you want to meet about something that wasn’t brought forward, you free to run your own session.

At our #edcampthom we had many useful sessions offered to fit the needs and interests of our staff members such as:

-iGo (beginners, intermediate and advance levels)

-Smart Board learning

-Educational apps in the classroom with one device

-Google Classroom



-You Tube capture, Stop Motion and We video for the classroom



-Hot Yoga

-E-Books with Overdrive

-How to use the Elder in your classroom

-Using the resource “Clearing the Plaines” by James Daschuk in the classroom

As the morning went on, teachers also offered up session’s last minute on resource sharing.

The curiosity of #edcampthom planning had fed out via the social media website Twitter and Facebook

Because of our #edcampthom planning tweets, we had guests from Campbell and Scott Collegiate come out to participate! The more the merrier, because some of these staff members presented sessions as well.

#edcampthom was a great way to connect and share resources!


In all, it was a successful PD morning. The feedback from some staff was, that they found it useful. The were some downsides such as not enough time and information overload. Perhaps at the next #edcampthom, it can be a full day of PD.

Check out the We Video that I made about #edcampthom :




Confessions of the guitar player

Confessions of the guitar player

In September for my Digital project for EC&I 831 class, I decided that I was going to learn to play the guitar!

I must confess that after hours and hours of practicing, I am still not an expert at playing this beautiful instrument, though I am proud of how far I have come.

For this project, the song that I am learning to play is Féliz Navidad. I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar; I just never really had the time or took the time to try. With the snow on the ground and Christmas around the corner, I hope that by the end of this project, I will be able to play the whole song in its entirety.

I have never in my life played an instrument. Growing up, I was into a lot of sports like swimming, ringette and volleyball. I have been playing the guitar for close to 13 weeks now. I have been watching You Tube video’s and have been learning the beginner’s lessons on guitar playing with the Acoustic guitar. Some more videos that I have enjoyed learning from are from:

He speaks in full Spanish while he teaches, but because I am fluent in Spanish, I have no problems in learning from him:

Another great video has been from Christian from

He has been clear on the finger placements on the strings and as well as timing your rhythm.

I am finding that I am still very stiff with my wrist, so I have been trying to keep my wrist freer while strumming. I have also recently found a soft guitar pick and this has been helping me with the strumming. Because of my short man hand fingers, I have also been working hard on the placement of my fingers.

Here is my face to face supplement in helping me with my guitar learning: Mr. Brian Warren:

I work with Brian at Thom Collegiate. I have been going back and forth with Brian, having him listen to me play as well as receiving supports, tips and advice from him.

Brian is a guitar and Native Studies teacher by day and a musician by night. You will see him playing drums in the video bellow with an awesome band called Andino Suns.

Check them out:

Here is a little clip of my progress thus far and with humming….because I can’t sing. But eventually for my final video, I will sing along while playing the guitar!



What’s the story?

It was great having listened to guest presenter Alan Levine speak tonight!

I have heard of Pechaflickr but tonight was the first time I saw it action. This is something I will for sure try with my student’s in the languages area that I teach in. It’s a great way to encourage active learning and listening in the French and Spanish language.

As Alan AKA @cogdog said when working with storytelling there are important characteristics when creating stories. For example, the characters play an important role, a great hook that also creates a sense of anticipation. Sometimes stories will contain Juxtaposition where you put things together that do not belong.

*Check out my new Storytelling video via the Lego Movie app that I made tonight!

As Alan suggested, a great story is telling, it has a performer that explains everything and fills in the blanks. The story is a communication that grabs the audience’s attention.

For me when I look at Storytelling, it looks a digital time capsule.  In February 2013, I took on my first ETMOOC (MOOC) with Dr. Alec Couros. I was terrified and scared but I jumped right in and tried various apps and programs. Dr. Couros had also introduced myself and his ETMOOC followers to Digital Storytelling. After having used myself as the guinee pig, I tried using this with students and it was an amazing experience for them. My students dove right in and told me they found their digital story learning projects engaging because it was a fun way for them to share their own personal stories.

When I look at the term “Digital Storytelling” or “Storytelling” I see a way in which I am able to tell my story. It’s also a way in which my students are able to share their stories and their ideas. It can also be a way in which my students are able to express themselves in an educational setting. The “bristle board” presentation days are starting to fade away in my classroom.  For my French Immersion Language Arts and Spanish classes, my students continue to find different ways to demonstrate their learning in my classroom.  Presentations can be shown via You Tube ,Animoto  andGlogster

Whenever my students use different types of technologies in my room, you can see the excitement in the room when they are presenting them. It’s also a way for me to see them in a different light. Not just a student, but another human being with a past and a story to tell. (It’s a wonderful way to make connections with our students.)

I teach 9-12 French Immersion Language Arts & Spanish at Thom Collegiate High School in Regina. I have been learning that any teacher can integrate technology in any subject matter across all subjects’ areas in the curriculum as a tool for meaningful learning.

In my classroom, I have let my students’ use different types of social media as a way in which, they are able to share their stories. When students are given the task of using Digital storytelling or Story making, they are taking full ownership of their project, researching and analyzing their own work, using their own ideas, thoughts and expressions. It’s a neat way for any student to express themselves!

Here is an example of a student project for Storytelling that was done in Spanish 10 this semester. Students were to share their stories in the Spanish language:

I am also sharing my own Digital Story, a PERSONAL story that I created to tell my story. I find it fitting as it tells the story of me, my friends, my family and who I am. It’s my narrative that I recently shared 5 months ago with my Narrative as Pedagogy class.

Feel free to share or use Animoto to make your own Digital stories or story making. I used Animoto and pictures from my home. If you do attempt to make one, please share with me fellow #eci831 classmates! I would love to learn about “you” and your stories!



It’s never too late to learn the guitar! (Strumming with a Pick)

It’s never too late to learn the guitar! (Strumming with a Pick)

So I realized it is never too late to learn the guitar!

I am no Carlos Santana by any means but it’s awesome that since September, slowly but surely I’m starting to hear a tune on my guitar.

Being a mom of two, a full time teacher it’s been hard to practice every day, but somehow I have been managing to squeeze time in for guitar practice.

The picking of the guitar has had some challenges for me. But to play the guitar I have learned that you have to:

1-pick a great song

2-know your chords

3-practice (a lot)

4-know the strumming and rhythm technique together with using a pick.

Eventually I will add some singing to my guitar playing which I am sure you are all excited to see and listen to.

I recently checked out Jerry at :

Jerry suggests using your arm instead of just your wrist and this has been a helpful hint for me, b/c I am still such a stiff guitar player

Here are my latest videos:

Me practicing the chords of the guitar:

Me practicing the strumming with a pick technique:

Can you here a bit of “Feliz Navidad” fellow EC & I 831 classmates?



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:

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:

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?



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