Category Archives: 21st Century Education

General thoughts on 21st Century Education practice and tools.

Wednesday PI update

A productive day, but mind numbing none the less… I did enjoy the networking section, which gave me some ideas about our school’s wireless situation. Not sure if I should talk about it publicly, so it will stew for a bit longer. Besides, the networking course is next.

Well….. After the second part of the A+ course, cause I’m finished the first half. The most tedious section by far was the professionalism section, likely because to me it was all common sense, dealing with difficult people, know it all, and business email protocol. It may have also been because the internet kept glitching, and I had to wait probably two minutes between sections… It doesn’t seem like much, but try reading this blog, two sentences at a time with even one minute between sections. It gets old.

The week is going so quickly, that I kind of want to skip the second half of the A+ course, and go on to networking. I think I’ll be confused like crazy with the networking, so maybe I shouldn’t skip ahead. Well, I need to go decompress. Have a good night.

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PI Week: 2014

Hello everyone…

ok, so no one is likely reading this, but that’s ok.

So, my PI week challenge was to become more officially versed in Computers, Networking and Security.

How: CompTIA to the rescue!  – they had a 3 course package that included the A+ certification: a basic intro to computers (220-801, and 220-802), Networking+ and Security+.

So today started out slowly, Java was not up to date on both my school computer and my Government computer.  Fortunately, I have the ability to update my school computer (yay Administrator rights)  As most of you know downloading large files from the internet in the North is atrocious at best, so I went and got my coffee.

As I proceed to finish with Java and work on the popup blocker, an announcement comes over the PA… “There will be a generator test, and we will be on generator power”… which means computers won’t work properly… Everyone else here at the school had a hissy fit too, but fortunately, we only had to wait 25 minutes in the dark.

Starting up the e-learning course was a bit confusing, but I finally got into: CompTIA A+ 220-801: BIOS and Motherboards, which was a good review, and could potentially be used for grade 10 modules here at the school…

As the computer generated voice droned on, interrupted by my impatient clicking to the next section, my brain began to swell, filling with facts of POST checks and BIOS and CMOS and every acronym under the sun, North bridge and south bridge and Sandy bridge and more busses than Central London and wireless specs and speeds, Ghz, and Mbps, and speeds all twirling in an infinite spectrum.  The worst was the motherboards…. ATX, microATX, miniATX, BTX, NLX, PicoBTX, MiniITX, eATX, and each of them have different physical sizes!!!

Sooooo… needless to say I’m going a bit insane.  Most of this I know already, so it’s not bothering me, but there’s so much to memorize and know.    But, on the other hand, I have an appreciation for my students.  It is a bit different, one subject all day… long…

I am glad that this will be available for 6 months, because I can’t take the test here for the certifications.  I’ll probably do one at Christmas, maybe two.

So stay tuned… for tomorrow brings more eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (read as high pitch squeeling of inaudible sounds)..




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.

Hump day

Day three of pd, and things are looking up. The cajons are coming along… I still don’t like the log style one, but that’s ok. I had some success with the reclaimed wood! I found a piece of wood with some feet I intend to put on later, and after cutting it in quarters and planing, it is perfect for the reinforcement behind the tapas (front hitting surface).
I considered planing down the tapas to 4mm called for in the plans, but we’ll see how the 6mm boards sound. The sample piece seemed to stand up, but I won’t if I don’t have to.
I hope I will have enough time this week to finish my projects. I know that I can work on my spare time, and I might put all my effort in to finish by Monday.
The amp is also coming around. I think if I have time I will make an enclosure for it.
More work. Yay!


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

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.




So a thought came to me while I was doing some meanial task a la Einstien today.


These are the factors I was considering:

  • Out of work \ under employed teachers (Personally relevant)
  • PD sessions that are out of touch
    • Learn it, but then doing it later….
  • Inaccessibility of new tech ideas and practices to existing teachers
  • Tutors for students and places like Sylvan and Oxford learning centres.
    • Stagnant and kids aren’t dealing with “classroom” situations
  • Spreading and collaborating new ideas, techniques and tools.
  • Parents disengagement from their kids learning.

So, what if I created a place where teachers came to get

PD from each other AND imported experts in the first session.  Then co-planned and co-taught a

group of students with a specific focus in mind -literacy, numeracy, math, science, etc.  The students would be enrolled in a tutoring program with a co lesson for


parents, they would be given a similar lesson, but aimed at extending the learning to the home environment.  This environment would be supported by a social learning network, that comprises of teachers, students and parents.

I Loved the idea of job embedded PD from PLP, and wondered how new teachers could take advantage of it, without having the kind of environment they needed.

 How is this going to fly?  Ideally no one pays, but money makes the world go round.  So, if Teachers pay for their  PD and can work off part of the PD cost through implementing their PD in tutoring sessions; AND Parents pay for ground breaking new tutoring methods, and get the Parent component for free(incentive to be involved in their kids education = everyone wins).


So, back to reality – What is it going to take to get something like this up and running?

  • CA$H – need a storefront of some kind, desks, environment, computers, internet connection, etc.
  • Teachers willing to spend time doing this – Weekends, evenings, and summers.
  • Students and parents willing to spend some time and money for their children’s education.
  • Hardwork and dedication === CHECK – not a problem

Wonderful idea eh?  but with the financial constraints of everyone involved, a grant is probably the only way to go.

Why Can’t I make money and do things I Love.


Thanks for listening to my Crazy ideas.


Darren Kools