Category Archives: Musings

CCOW Week 1 Wrapup- About Me.

About Me Project

My About Sean McGaughey scratch project is the final assignment for week one of the Creative Computing Online Workshop.

What was surprising about this activity? 

While I was making this project I used several other tools: to find images, Audacity and Reaper for sound editing, and GIMP for image editing.   These are all great tools, but I was surprised by Scratch’s built in paint and recording tools.  They are more limited than full featured editors, but they definitely can get the job done.  In the future, I may use of the paint and sound recording tools in scratch as an introduction to graphic and sound editing, before I showed them more dedicated tools.

How might you adapt it for the learners that you support?

This project is open ended, so it can easily become huge for overachievers (busted), while other students may need more structure before they design their program.  I think I might present the class with these questions before they began?

  • What do you want to share about yourself?
  • What images and sounds do you want to include?
  • How will your audience interact with the program?
  • What style will you present it as (ie. a game, a presentation, a story, a movie, etc. ).

Wrap-up of my week

This is my first experience taking a MOOC and I am enjoying it so far.  One thing about taking an open-ended, independent study course is that I am going to have to take care to set clear boundaries on the size and scope of my scratch projects or this course is going to take way too much of  my limited available time.   June is one of the busiest months at school here with report cards, Grade 8 graduation, and tons of end of year activities.  I wish the workshop would have started in July.

I began the week by moving my blog from edublogs to it’s new home at   

Here are the rest of my posts for the week.

    1. Time to Get Scratching
    2. I Love A Parade- Step by Step Intro
    3. I Know an Old Lady– with 10 blocks
    4. Week 1 Scratch Studios Activity
    5. Week 1 DeBugIt

I’m looking forward to next week’s activities and to getting to know some of the other participants.



My Brain is Bent by #k12online

November 29  Day 2 K12 Online Conference Reflections.


It’s only the second day of the K12 online conference and already I feel like my brain has been bent by all the fantastic ideas in the presentations I have watched.

I prepared a 5 minute podcast ramblecast of some of my reflections from the presentations so far.


Listen Here.


You can follow along with the conversation on twitter using the hastag: #k12online  and be sure to also check out My #K12 Online blog and twitter list.

The Grandma Rule

One of the sessions at Edcamp Toronto this weekend was, “What is a 21st century learner? And what are the skills needed to be a 21st century teacher?”  During one of the conversations, I thought  we might get insight into 21st century students by looking back.  I tweeted, “How do 21st century learners differ from 20th century learners?… or 19th century learners?”  Later I realized that in my family, we had experience of education going back to the early 20th century.

My Grandmother was born in 1918 in Mannville, Alberta, and spent most of her 93 years within half an hour’s travel from the village.  In the thirties, Grandma and a friend rode an Indian motorcycle 120 miles to Edmonton to college to become teachers.  When she completed her teacher training, she began teaching in one room rural schools.  Although, it was well into the 20th century, her initial experience of education and teaching was firmly rooted in the 19th century.  Although she took some time off to raise four children, Grandma continued to teach until the early 80s and saw many changes in education throughout her long career.  She finished her career teaching English in a rural grade 7-12 high school in Vermillion, Alberta.

I began teaching in the early 90’s and now find myself a teacher in the 21st century.  I am currently teaching a Grade 4-8 Gifted class.  The large range of grades is in many ways similar to the one room schoolhouses where Grandma went to school and begaun her teaching career.  Technology has changed rapidly in the 30 years since my grandmother retired from teaching, and I am now teaching children whole new ways of communicating using the internet and online tools.

During another session at Edcamp Toronto, we had a lively discussion about teaching social media to children.  The general consensus was that even very young children need little instruction on how to access social media.  They pick up on how to use it very quickly.  What they need is instruction on online etiquette and the social norms and rules around interacting with people online.  During this discussion, I tweeted, “Kids are using social media anyway. Teacher’s need to guide its proper use, rather than teach them how to use it.”    On twitter, @tanyasaidso  responded, “replace *social media* with *life* and call yourself a parent.” I completely agree.  I think that both parents and teachers need to teach 21st century children the ethics of how to treat others with respect both online and off.

During the discussion on teaching social media to children, I mentioned that in my classroom I have a rule which is quite effective with teaching preteens that language and behaviour that is be used in some situations is not appropriate in other situations.  “The Grandma Rule” is:  “If you would not say something to Grandma, Don’t Say it at School.”   As soon as I mentioned it, about 3 people retweeted it, then after about 20 retweets over the course of the day, it morphed into, “If you wouldn’t say it to Grandma, don’t say it online”.  If we could only have one rule for how we should behave online, I choose this one.

Thanks again to the organizers and sponsors for making Edcamp Toronto a great success.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.


Making Connections

Several years ago, the focus of our school-wide literacy initiative was making connections.  We worked with the students in all grades to identify when they could make a connection between a given text and their own experience, another story, the media, or the larger world.

The other day, Facebook prompted me to check out other people who went to the same high school as I did.  I graduated over 25 years ago (ouch) , so I was delighted when I found, Mr. K., my music teacher from Junior High and High School. When I was in grade 8, Mr. K. was in his mid 20s. He moved to northern Alberta to teach music in 3 junior high schools and direct the all-city marching band.  Over 5 years, he made a large impact in my life, and the lives of my classmates.  I remember fondly the 7:30 am jazz band practices, although I was not as fond of them at the time.  Mr. K. took us from novice musicians to a functioning working Jazz band who played concerts and dances all over northern Alberta.  He also orchestrated (get it) a 10 hour bus trip so we could see Mo Kaufmann and Dizzy Gillespe perform live.

I dropped Mr. K. a short email filling him in on my life, that I am now a teacher with a family of my own, and that I kept my interest in music and became a folk musician and singer-songwriter.

Thirty years later, Mr. K. is still teaching music at a high school in central Alberta.  He is instilling a life long love of music in his students.  His facebook profile has a picture of a chalk drawing on his driveway that declares, “Our beloved band director lives here.  He’s the BESTEST”.  Now that’s the kind of award I would like to receive as a teacher.

It was fantastic to use new media to re-connect with a teacher who had a positive impact on me in my youth.  Today I was able to make another kind of connection.  I follow the #edchat hastag on twitter to keep up with new resources and online discussions about teaching.   A random tweet led me to @Elle_Gifted and her Gifted Teachers Exchange wiki #gtew.  The Gifted Teachers Exchange is a place for gifted teachers of grades k-12 from all over the world to collaborate, and share resources.  You can sign up here to request access to the wiki group, and also the companion Diigo Group, for sharing links and resources.  I am looking forward to collaborating with@Elle_Gifted and other gifted class teachers from around the world.