Category Archives: Decompression of Ideas

Some photos with a touch of reflection

It’s strange how the framework of a situation can so dramatically drive the direction of events. I feel that the last couple of weeks have been very inconsistent. With assemblies and exams and pi week the students seem unnerved. I had attempted to go back to the beginning and revisit rules and needs and behavioral expectations, but I got quite the backlash. Fortunately I had some great support from pat and Thursday Brenda. Tomorrow I’m going to focus on lots of routine. I will emphasize basic skills out the wazoo. For those that are done I can get them to look deeper. But I need to still make it fun. The problem is when it gets fun, the structure suffers. I know that they crave structure and simple what do I do exactly. Well, it seems I do now what I need to do, but just need to get to it instead of blogging, watching rent and taking pictures of outside! As soon as rent is over, I’m going to plow through!







Lights, camera, fail.

My amp build got finished Friday afternoon, but was less functional than expected. I had light from the vacuum tubes, the camera was on, but no action. Not all is lost, my next step is to find a better schematic online and see where the directions went wrong. Maybe I need to FaceTime with an expert cough Tom Hughes??? image
The drums are coming along, but the snare setup is proving difficult to do right. It looks a bit sloppy, but I’ve got a couple more to do, so I get to practice.

Time flies when you’re making instruments

It is already thursday, and I don’t think I will finish on time. I’m also concerned that will be some left over parts from the amp making. Nowhere in the instructions does it say where to put the diodes… image
I reclaimed some hardwood from the dump on the weekend for the bracing of the drums, and went back to get another. There was so much more dumped and scraped and piled that the wood I saw was buried. I did find some nice table legs that I can plane and cut down though, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.
I’m feeling a little disappointed in this week. My blogging has gotten bland and I feel like no one is reading, save my mom and a few key relatives. At least everyone knows I haven’t been devoured by a polar bear. I hope to be more interesting in the future.

Day two- spinning wheels

Day two is at an end and I feel like I haven’t accomplished much. This morning, I spent most of my time cutting pieces out for the interlocking drum. This took almost all of the time. The result is less than desirable. Because the drum works on air pressure, the unexact cuts and poorly filed edges won’t make a very good sound. I thought it might work as a travel canon, but it doesn’t stay together on its own. So, I’ll have to glue or silicone it together to get a tighter fit. At the end of the morning I was getting frustrated, so I thought I would just plane down the other two boxes… Mistake… I was impatient, so I went to the power plane, and it ripped part of the plywood off that was going the other way. Boo. So more work to do tomorrow.

The afternoon didn’t seem very productive either. I kept having to reposition the vacuum tube slots, but I did get them soldered together.

At this point I have two thoughts. One that I’m not going to get finished/ around to the didgeridoo organ, and these are not projects for students. Perhaps it would be good for advanced students framed in an instrument making unit. Lower ability students can create other projects like the hose-a-ma-phone… Tune in tomorrow for more updates, and later this week for my trailer!

Pi week – day 1

Day one of five:
I think I had a good start to the week. I’ve got all the exterior wood cut, the hole for the back cut, except for one of them… I can cut that tomorrow. I’ve got two of the drum glued, and will dry overnight.

I’m a little worried about keeping a flat surface on the front, but there’s always planing.
This afternoon it’s amp time.
Keep your eyes open for a sweet trailer using iMovie!

Amp making is hard!
This afternoon I completed my first turret board soldering job.

Not too bad for minimal instructions and no help from google! Google started working at the school near the end of the day, which helped. Thanks Steve! I am having a blast. How do I know? I look at the clock and it’s 5:30… I thought I would have a better idea of scheduling, but I still don’t know how long these projects are going to take…
Half of the fun!


Pi week

I love professional development. The idea that as part of my job is to better myself is amazing. I suppose some pd is more exciting than others, for example, learning to assemble Peruvian box drums has more pizazz than school effectiveness framework developing. So when I was told that here in Nunavut teachers get a week of self directed professional improvement, I just about fainted.

It was hard deciding what angle to follow in my pd spectrum. I thought about my peeps at plp, and all the fantastic work I did last year, but I’m working on implementing that in my daily routine. I thought about learning throat singing and Inuit drum making. Unfortunately making an Inuit drum is a very labour intensive project, and it’s not really the right time of year for it.

So my plan for this week is as follows:

  • cajon -Peruvian box drum
  • 18w tube amp header-
  • didgeridoo organ
I don’t have a specific order and I’m not sure that I need to.  I think I will get a better sense of the pace I need to have if I devote Monday morning to the amp, and the afternoon for the box drum.

The parts for the amp came in yesterday! I would like to thank Karen for checking my mail and lugging it back to the school for me, I was only expecting to have my pay stub there!
The nice wood is still en route, but my test of the good one side c grade from umingmak (local lumber store) is waiting to be made into a box drum. I also have to look into the PVC for my didge organ. I was a little worried about getting all of the materials, but things have come together. I’m tempted to get an early start this weekend on these fabulous projects.

I will be updating more than usual,this next week to keep an almost real time, more pics to follow!


you just started?

It feels like being in a time warp…

no, not that kind of time warp, it’s less of a step to the right, but everyone is starting school now.  Meanwhile, I’ve been slugging away for three weeks.

So it seems like a good time to reflect; here are my observations:

  • I’m still guaging the level of the kids.
    • they’re still lower than my expectations, and the effort level slips day after day
    • attendence is an issue that I have to address.
  • I’ve gotten through a unit, but my culminating tasks need to be more hands on.
  • I’ve got to start planning my butt off – the kids need lots of hand holding (scaffolding)
  • With this new unit, I think the kids need a physical component.  Something to make it concrete and do.
  • PI week – no that’s not 3.14159269…. Professional improvement, what am I going to do?
    • Last year I was involved with PLP, and it was wonderful, but should I try something new?
    • I think I’d like to do something with music.

ok, I’ve got to start into this, so, I’m off to do some research on inuit music, and who I can get to teach me.



Questioning full transparency

This post is inspired by Sheryl NussbaumBeach’s tweet about dopamine and expectancy.

Picture this:  You are a student, and you walk into your English class.  You glance at the  board and see your teacher has diligently posted the learning goals for the day:

We are learning to write a five part persuasive essay.

You say to yourself, well, I already know how to do that,  and turn yourself off.


Does this happen, I’ve seen it but not with everyone.

Why take the chance? (Especially with zombies)

I have been told that posting learning goals for the day is a good thing, but have always questioned the idea somewhat.  I thoroughly enjoy the eureka moment when a student uses their prior knowledge to wrap their head around a new concept to have a greater understanding.  Much better than the point blank range effect.  I think this also promotes self directed learners and if the new brain research translates into the way I’m interpreting it, a dopamine enriched learning experience.


Sheryl goes on to say “Create opportunities for 50/50 chance of reward.” and ” include failure as a learning construct.”  The idea of failure is hard to take at first until you realize it happens all the time.   The failure to fully understand at first is surmounted later by the dopamine rush when success and understanding is achieved.

I’m not saying we need to fail students, but if they can’t fail, there’s no incentive to succeed.

Apathy = Zombies.

Say no to Zombies.

Seriously, there should be a sequence of safety nets when dealing with possible failure, that’s why we as teachers are there.  The power of mystery coming into a class can be used effectively.

I guess posting learning goals are simply tools in an arsenal.

Tools each have a use, and you don’t always use the same one all the time – they wear out too easily.  Plus you don’t know when you need a pick axe for the next zombie invasion…