Category Archives: rankin

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!


Something is sticking around…

So many things are on the go that it seems I have been neglecting my blog.First it was I had lots of pictures and not much to say, then everything else has occupied my time. So I will spatter this post with pictures that may or may not be relevant to what I am saying. First relevant picture is the first snow that decided to stick. A couple of days ago I did manage to catch a brilliant sunrise that woke me up and shortly after disappeared into the cloudy arctic sky. I prefer the sunrise to the snow, but I’ll see much more snow than sunrises this winter.

In the beautiful weather that we were having I did get another chance to take a walk out on the land out past the airport.
Of course these have been tampered with a bit – thank you intagram… But it was quite amazing the scenery, the jellyfish and the water. There was one jelly that was in the middle of its lunch, having minnow sushi, but the water was murky and the picture didn’t turn out.
You can also see the environmental impact of people. Gasoline leaking into the puddles looks pretty in the right light, but it also reminds us that up here there’s a balance between what’s right, and what’s needed. 4 wheelers are a necessity to get out on the land and hunt. I couldn’t imagine bringing back a caribou by hand by yourself. Before you jump in with “that’s the way it been done before” things are different these days. You wouldn’t want to have to churn your own butter..
environmental stewardship is in fact very important to the people up here. There are traditional IQ values that are taught by elders and reinforced in schools. Unfortunately just like the south factors of cost and convenience have started to wear down these traditional values.
Next post: the raspberry pi – not what your thinking, think geekier…

Nice cans

Spam has its place, even if it brings images of a flooded inbox.
Corned beef is nice on bread, flaked chicken is wonderful to make chicken salad sandwiches with and even love those little Vienna sausages In the easy open tin with some mustard.


The other day I saw this in the canned food isle…
I don’t quite know what to make of it. A whole chicken in a can! How could this be good? Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, and maybe even a necessity for long cold winter blizzards, but I’m skeptical. Look at the graphics, they probably haven’t changed them since it was introduced in the 70’s. Not that Shackleton would have turned down chicken in a can in favor of penguin… And yes I know, other side of the world, but it’s still cold.

All this talk of food has made me hungry, I’m going to rummage through the cupboards and leave you with this sunrise.



Some good news lately

  • my pay will soon be adjusted!
  • choir is going well, and growing
  • the rest of my stuff is going to be here soon, hopefully this week!

Unfortunately, I notice the days becoming much shorter, and the nights much longer. It’s almost alarming how quickly this is turning. My hope is that I don’t become a sleeper. Someone who sleeps in and goes to bed early. I have been invited to run/walk in the mornings, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I have been getting an enormous amount of planning done in the mornings, which I know I need to keep on top of. I continue to keep myself busy through practicing the guitar, my photographic eye keeps me on the lookout, and just cause I don’t have enough, I started learning how to knit. I’m not going to show a sample because it’s kind of embarrassing, but each row is getting better and less holey. With all of this to do, I’m still glad to be able to throw the t.v on and vegetate or play my garbage-picked xbox360. I will leave you with some pictures of frozen mud just to remind you that it’s frickin cold up here. Even though it’s cold it can still be nice, I haven’t gone crazy yet. At least not any crazier than I was before.





This is a test to see if the auto update feature for facebook is working.

I’m also trying the facebook comment feature.  Hopefully it will give people another option to leave their ideas and comments.

As an added bonus, video of the snow that was flying on the 17th.. yes that’s last week.


Disappointed in myself so others aren’t.

I am a music teacher with a secret.

I’m sorry for all of those music teachers out there who also have this secret, but I have to expose it.
I don’t play the piano well.
Yes, a music teacher who doesn’t play the piano is more common than you may think. I love listening to the instrument, and am super envious of those who can play, but when it comes down to it, I suck.

I’ve always kinda known this, but I’ve learned ways to work around it, learn the guitar, improvise on simple bass lines a la cannon in d. Shame on me. As a kid I took a couple of weeks of “keyboarding” classes… Melodies were ok, but my unfamiliarity with treble clef was my bane. I became uninterested especially when both hands took action. Thinking back it was probably the dyslexia.
Fast forward to first year university, enter piano proficiency class Aka piano deficiency. Yes I learned a whole lot, but it didn’t get me to where I should have been. It threw my brain for a loop.
The guitar had foiled me for the longest time as well, but just recently(4 years ago) I managed to pick it up, and now am a decent player. Being thrown into teaching guitar courses and clubs helped.

Yesterday I failed the 88 keys once again. Wednesday morning I was approached to see if I could do some accompaniment for the Missoula play “the secret garden”, which has its performance friday in front of other teachers, the entire school and parts of the community. In my defense, yesterday I practiced my little butt off and managed to “learn” three of the 12 songs in this mini musical. My favourite of which is “honk if you love geese”, hilarious! Given another week and rehearsals with the kids, I could have pulled it off. So instead of going out there and possibly making a fool out of myself, I decided that I had to bow out.

I feel bad that I can’t do it. People expect that a music teacher can play the piano, and that disappoints me. The best I could have done is not embarrass myself a do a mediocre job. This would have little impact on how people see me. The worst that could happen is I screw up everything and make things worse, and people see me as less because I can’t do it.

I know I’m not a failure, and most likely this is just another skill on the pile of to do for those long blizzardy nights.

On the upswing I made the most amazing pizza last night!

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.