Peeking under the cover

Looking at technical details on an industrial machine

The idea of having a space of my own on the internet is compelling but also daunting. There is so much to know and too much I don’t know. But in the last three weeks, I have had a chance to peek under the cover and learn about how I can have a digital identity that I control.

Early on in my professional development involvement with OntarioExtend, I was offered a Reclaim Hosting site and I said “maybe.” I had never blogged before and I didn’t know if I would like it or be any good at it. I didn’t know if I would want to keep doing it.

As you can see from my 60 some odd posts, I have something to say. Lots of different somethings to say. So I took the plunge and accepted a Domain of One’s Own. However, the deciding factor was not that I liked blogging but rather, that there going to be Domain Camp. Domain Camp, led by Alan Levine (@cogdog) is four weeks of activities and instructions for those of us that are new at webmastering.

Domain Power

Close-up of the dial of an old voltmeter
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Now, I have a landing page, a blog and a splot for cats. I have email… try it, email me at! I have ideas. Ideas about subdomains based on my varied personal interests. Ideas about student success training I could release under creative commons license. Ideas of how I might involve my student tutors in curating content. So many ideas!

I am crazy proud of myself. It feels weird to say that but it is true! I am more capable than I thought possible and I credit OntarioExtend for helping me see that!

Featured Image: Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Reflecting on Experimenting

Reflecting is an important part of extending. I am finding that I am changing a little bit every day because of this process, because of being part of OntarioExtend. If I don’t occasionally look back, I could miss that. I am becoming a bit more open, through my experiences and through the ideas and perspectives of my ExtendWest my cohort and PLN. This experimenting and practicing out loud is becoming a habit.

My first Daily Extend, my first experiment in extending was on April 26, 2018. I have been extending for just over a month. In that time, I have done 42 daily extends. You can see my work on the Daily Extend Leaderboard. I am proud to say that, at the moment, I am in the Top 10 of all time Daily Extenders!

top ten

Through the Dailies, I have:

“If I ask a student to take risks, I should too. In fact, I should go first.” Irene Stewart     *Photo by Delfiero Brahmantya on Unsplash
  • found creative common resources to share
  • learned to take some of my own photos creating some original content
  • wrote some poetry and a story
  • made a gif, a video, a meme, an infographic, a poster and a superhero
  • tried free and interesting online services

I also got over my fear of tweeting, found some fellow educators to connect with and have become a part of a community that extends beyond Ontario.

Some of the tools I used:

  • Snagit by Techsmith
  • YouTube with Advanced Search
  • Giphy
  • Marvel SuperHero Creator
  • Open Culture website
  • The Noun Project
  • Randomness Story Generator Widget
  • Imgflip Meme Generator
  • FlipGrid
  • Twitter

Not every experiment went well. Sometimes, I made spelling mistakes. Sometimes, I posted in the middle of the night and no one noticed. And while that is okay, it is nice when someone likes your tweet. My first gif was rough and looked a little odd. A couple of my pictures were out of focus. And while these things may or may not be noticeable, I don’t think I would change it because it is part of my process of learning and extending. I have the privilege of failing, nothing bad is going to happen.

“It is okay if I am not perfect, I can be a work in progress.” Irene Stewart  *Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

I will keep experimenting through the Dailies and through the Extend Modules. It feels uncomfortable at times but that is part of extending, stretching and growing. But I will be aware what I have learned so far and work to improve my dailies, my extend activities and my blog. I will also look to be inspired by some of my experimenting to find ways to incorporate what I am doing here for myself to benefit my students and my institution.

If you have not yet tried the Daily Extend or any of the modules, I invite you to join us. It is unlike any other professional development opportunity you are likely to experience this summer!

Featured Image Photo by Rebecca Oliver on Unsplash

Good for students; Good for us too.

Catch them doing something right. I remember this advice from when my children were small. The idea was instead of always pointing out the mistake a child was making (negative attention), I should actively watch for the actions, behaviours and attitudes I valued and give praise (positive attention). It worked.

Here’s the thing, it works with students too. In addition to the correct knowledge that we want them to have, we have skills, behaviours and attitudes we value. When we are assessing their work, we need to be looking to catching them doing something right. I was reminded of this when reading patches from the Open Faculty Patchbook. My nugget is:

Give affirming feedback, where you highlight what the student has done well. This can be a powerful means of building student confidence and engagement, and can directly reinforce good performance. ” (Awwad & Bali, 2017)

This is sage advice for us in Extend West as we seek to grow in our knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes. We should give and seek affirming feedback in our learning cohort. I have been considering asking for feedback on my blog and thinking about what kind of feedback would best help me learn and grow. One technique I have used with classes is Stop, Start and Continue.


The basic model is to ask for three types of feedback. A stop, something I should stop doing. A start, a new idea to incorporate, to start. And finally, a continue, something that is good and that I should continue. The continue is always the part that makes me feel better after hearing all the things I do that I should and all the things that I don’t do that I should.

For blog posts, the model could be used by asking a critical friend the following questions:

  • Stop – what is something that is detracting from my blog?
  • Start – what is something that you have seen others do, or you do yourself that could improve my blog?
  • Continue – what is something that you like about my blog that I should keep?

Structuring our request for feedback in this way can ensure that we get information that we can use and that affirms. When I think about my extending experiences, I feel a bit like the climber in the featured image, I am working my way up and even though I have some safety equipment, it still feels scary. I need advice like don’t put your foot there and use your guide rope as well as the keep going, you can do it. I need the stop, the start and the continue.

If you would like to explore how to use Stop, Start and Continue in the classroom, Boston University has a good explanation of getting feedback using this model. And here is an approach on using the model for team building from Retruim.

Featured Image Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash


Awwad, A. & Bali, M. (2017, May 25). Patch nine: Shifting your design of assessments. Retrieved from

It’s a beach party!

Dear friend,

You came to the Extend West kickoff, but I can’t find you! Maybe you don’t like water! Maybe all this talk of dipping your toes in or getting submerged is too much and a cannonball??? No way! That’s okay, just grab a towel, spread it out on the sand and watch! And when you are ready, let us know you are here.

I know you are already busy. I know this seems strange and unstructured. I thought Twitter was stupid too. But seriously, this Extending stuff is fun! It’s a beach party! Here’s how you can come out on the sand:

  1. Get or open your twitter account.
  2. In the search box, type Ontario Extend, click on Ontario Extend to go to their twitter page – click on the follow button.oext1oext2.png
  3. Go back to the search box, type #ExtendWest, click on #ExtendWest to see the posts that contain that hashtag and click on the names of some of the posters to follow them.oext3
  4. Log in once or twice a day and see what Ontario Extend and the Extenders you have followed are doing!
  5. Watch for the Daily Extend. Search the #oext tag with the number to see what others have tweeted in response. Follow them. Click the heart button if you like it. oext4
  6. When you see one that peeks your curiosity, try it. Tweet it to @OntarioExtend.
  7. Navigate over to the Extend West blogs, read a few. They are both informative and FUN!oext5

Come out from the shade, and join us on the beach! The weather is fine! And you can stay out of the water if you want to.

Featured Image: Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

Nerding out Extend

Wow, I had no idea it was that easy for just about anyone to make and up load a video in response to a prompt. Today’s Extend asked us to make a short video about something we are passionate about, something that makes us Nerdy.

I chose to talk about my love of the online browser game, Travian. I have played this game for nine years and every day for more that 3 years. I even have a youtube channel of instructional video about the game which have been viewed by people in 120 countries. If you are interested, you can find the link to the International English server here (link opens in new tab).

But as fun as it was to talk about something I love, the learning piece was finding out about Flipgrid. An online service for educators that  is crazy easy to use. It took me less than 10 minutes to record and upload a short video and all the recording software was part of the site. It got me thinking about ways this could be used in the classroom and the ease at which students could participate. I even got to create a selfie with stickers to act as the front page for my video!! Check it out for yourself at

Here is screenshot of my video listing long with a couple others posted by Extenders!


It can feel risky to make a video and put it out there. It can be uncomfortable to see yourself in a video and hear what you sound like. This is yet another way to stretch and extend. If we, as educators, want to ask our students to take risks, we should be willing to ourselves.

E is for Extend & E-Juice

Today’s Daily Extend from Ontario Extend, a Learning and Teaching professional development project, was to emphasize the letter E in a picture taken with my phone. I was to play with editing this photo to highlight and isolate the E.

E in e-juice
This excellent e-juice is almost e-mpty!

I had already decided that I was not going to overthink these exercises and would just do it. Sometimes, when taking a risk, I can get caught up in thoughts of “what do others expect” or “what if this is not good enough.” Bleh! My eye fell on the e-juice sitting on my desk. I quit smoking on December 23, 2015 with the help of e-cigarettes. I received my first mod as a gift, smoked my last two cigarettes reading the instructions and have not had a smoke since. I continue to enjoy vaping and recently, Canada E-juice opened a Vape Shop in Chatham, Ontario so now I have excellent e-juice available just minutes away! I took a picture of Strawberries and Creme with my phone.

It was a bit of a challenge to get my phone to focus on the bottle and not the background. Thankfully, I had a handy envelope and a container of Catnip! Here is the original photograph.


I don’t have many photo editing software packages on my home laptop, but I do have Techsmith’s Snag-it. Using Snag-it, I played with the magic wand feature after cropping the photo. Then I used the magnifying glass to enhance the E. I am fairly ecstatic with the result. I enjoyed trying a little editing!

Check out:

Ontario Extend

Canada E-juice

Techsmith Snag-it

All links open in a new tab and I used 21 E words in this post!