Who I am

profileHello there! My name is Robbi Keller and I am a full-time teacher in a rural school in southern Saskatchewan! I am currently teaching ELA, History, Social Studies, PAA and Art, although our semester is about to change.

I was raised in Pennsylvania, went to school on a rodeo scholarship (yes, that is a thing) at Montana State University where I earned a Bachelor’s of science in Secondary Education-Social Studies Broad Field (teaching minor in political science) and a Bachelor’s of Art in History. national_champsAs a member of the women’s rodeo team, I finished top ten in the nation three years out of my four years of eligibility. Also, I was a member of the national championship women’s team for Montana State. The coolest thing about all that is that my picture is on the wall in the MSU Fieldhouse!

Before I was married to a Canadian, I was pursuing a teaching minor in Spanish, but dropped that when I decided I was moving to Canada. I  miss speaking Spanish and am currently dusting off my skills thanks to Duolingo and Tinycards!

I am currently taking EDTC 400 for professional development and I really like learning about education technology. I took Katia’s class Winter 2017 and really enjoyed it so when I saw this class was offered this semester, I jumped at the chance to learn more!

I’m considered the “techy” teacher in my little school, introducing my colleagues and students to tools such as Powtoon, Google Drive, and Evernote! I want to begin integrating tools such as Google Classroom to help streamline procedures such as handing in homework  and giving my students feedback on their writing assignments. I feel like the “right” technology tools can really aid a teacher in providing quick, meaningful feedback and help in recognizing where the student is at on the learning scale. Also, students can benefit from tools that might make learning easier (such as speech-to-text for writing papers or text-to-speech for students who struggle with reading, but are more auditory learners)

In my spare time, I still enjoy barrel racing and break-away roping at rodeos, reading (what kind of English teacher doesn’t like to read?!), sewing, and helping out on my husband’s family ranch in southern Saskatchewan. I’m addicted to chocolate and tea, all things Harry Potter (and Game of Thrones, I guess!)

I am married to a full-time cowboy, part-time artist named Shay. He is currently working on a few bronzes for the Calgary Stampede, which I think is super cool! I am little jealous that my husband is so artistically talented when I have to be content with stick figures and and word art!  gorgi

We currently have five horses, a few dozen cows, and a “Gorgi” (Golden Retrieve x Corgi) named Grace that we adopted in October.






I Am Determined.

Our little school had a “character day” where we learned about character and what characteristics make a person have character. We split into multi-grade mini groups and talked about characteristics (we had a word bank) and which ones we think we have, and what characteristics we think we need to work on to improve our character. We also had to define a few words that my students knew, but they didn’t quite know how to express the word’s meaning. IMG_5522

In my little group of eight students, I have taught (or am teaching) six of them. So when it was my turn I asked the group of six what characteristic (in their opinion) describes me. The vote was unanimous: I am determined.

I must say that I agree– I am determined.

I am determined to give my students the best education. I am determined to give it my all everyday. I am determined to be the light in someone’s day. I am determined to make the world a better place to be. I am honored that my students think of me as a determined individual.

How do I show determination? That is a very good question. I show my determination when I leave my house at 6:30 AM and make the fifty minute drive to school. I show determination when I ask my students “how are you,” and when I give high-fives in the hallways. I want my students to know that I care. At the end of the day, my students should have learned something, yes, but they also should know that someone, anyone, in their school cares how their day went.

“Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.”

I think it is awesome that my students think that I am determined. The other contenders for my feather included: loyal, caring, and kind. I feel like I am determined to show those characteristics to my students. I am determined to create an environment here at school that showcases characteristics such as loyalty and kindness. I am determined to be the best teacher I can be, and I embrace the journey.

Sweet Summertime

Summer is almost over. Time has sped by unbelievably fast, I’m still in July mentally. I’m really excited to start the school year, this will be my first year as a full-time teacher! I have a pretty full schedule, but that does nothing to dull my enthusiasm.

In part, I think my Summer was so busy because of all the learning I did! It was common to find me at a rodeo with a book in my hand, taking notes. Part of my philosophy of life is to be a continual learner. I learn best through reading, so I did! I read texts on teaching English Language Arts, teaching Shakespeare to high school students, and I read quite a few novels and other pieces of literature that I’ll be teaching this year.

On top of reading, I traveled to several rodeos with my horse, Jellybean. It was her first year on the rodeo road and it was a learning experience for the both of us.


Jellybean and I. Image courtesy of Country Monkey

I learned patience, and to scaffold things for her. Both skills that can be used in the secondary classroom!

What did you learn this Summer?

Learning About Teaching While at a Rodeo

Yep, you read that correctly. I learned a few things this weekend, while traveling roughly 2,000 km with my husband to a handful of rodeos through Saskatchewan and Alberta.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a barrel racer. It’s a sport I’ve competed in since I was 4 years old and it’s one that I enjoy immensely. It keeps me sane while keeping me on my toes.


My early barrel racing career

This year I am competing on a horse that was raised by my sister and trained by yours truly. Her name is Jellybean. She is 5, will turn 6 on the Fourth of July. We have had our ups and downs and things are truly uncertain when hauling a young horse to rodeos.

She and I made a run at a semi-pro rodeo in Saskatchewan on Friday. We were placing (which is super exciting, considering this was her 6th rodeo ever) against some of the best horses competing in Canada. We then traveled to a few rodeos to watch my husband compete. We returned to Saskatchewan on Sunday to compete at a different semi-pro rodeo.

I was so excited on Sunday morning, we were at an outdoor arena, one of the first of the season, and we were still hanging in for a cheque at the first rodeo of the weekend.

About twenty competitors before I was set to go, Jellybean began to limp. I got off, called my husband over and we began checking over what was wrong. We couldn’t find anything visible but I unsaddled her and we began caring for her.

My husband’s horse is also a barrel horse. I’ve competed on him several times over the last year or so. We get along pretty well. So when my husband suggested that I jump on Buzz to make my run, I went with it.


Video screenshot of me and Buzz in action on Sunday

Teaching, like barrel racing, sometimes presents scenarios where Plan A isn’t working and we need to move on to a new plan. We shouldn’t be afraid of improvisation and responding to the needs of our students. At the end of the day, we can create beautiful lesson plans that hit every indicator and outcome that do always engage our students. What works for one class may not always work for another group of students.

Don’t stress. Assess the situation, respond and try your best. That’s all we can do as human beings. Sometimes the most memorable material or skills are the ones that pop up unexpectedly.

Teachable moments are priceless and we should engage in those moments every chance we get.

I know, this is a silly post. I legitimately had a light bulb-epiphany-ah-ha moment while driving home on Sunday and I just had to share!

Around and Around We Go

Fidget spinners seems to bring out the emotions in teachers. Some teachers seem to love them, and some seem to hate them. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between.


Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

I dwell in that space between loving the toys and hating them.

I should probably expand on my position a little more; I love the idea of them but hate how the toys perform (for a lack of a better word) in my classroom.

I love fidgets, I even use one everyday to keep my focus. The problem I have with the fidget spinner is the fact that the students don’t really fidget with them. They begin the spin and watch it (or listen to the thing make lots of noise- a whole other problem that I have with them). They aren’t actively using their hands all the time so in my mind, it isn’t a fidget at all. More like a top from my childhood that looks like it came from space.
So Mrs. Keller, if you like fidgets but hate the fidget spinner what kind of fidgets do you like?

That is a very good question! My personal favorite fidget is the spinner ring (also known as a meditation ring or an anxiety ring). I am not going off of educational journals and research, just personal observation. I wear a spinner ring everyday. It rests either on my right thumb or my right index finger. If I am having trouble focusing, am frustrated or bored, I spin the ring. Sometimes I fidget with it while lecturing for the lack of something to do with my hands. I cannot name how many college classes and meetings that my spinner ring has helped me through.


my spinner ring

I like the spinner ring for its simplicity and unobtrusiveness. I told some of my students that I have and use a fidget on a regular basis. They were stunned and fascinated that it was my “cool ring” that looks like rope. The first thing one student said to me was, “I didn’t even realize you used a fidget or were playing with it.”
So what other fidgets do you like in your classroom?

Also a good question, I don’t have a personal preference other than that they must address the students’ needs and not be disruptive to everyone else. I find fidgets that make a lot of noise are disruptive to classroom flow and grab the attention of the other students.

I’ve had a couple of students say that they’d love to have a spinner ring or something similar. One student even tried my spinner ring for a period and said it helped him concentrate. I’m not blogging about this to say that spinner rings are the must-have fidget in your classroom, and I’m not saying fidget spinners are the devil. Both things have their purpose and help different students. I just want to share my (personal) success using a fidget other than the much talked about fidget spinner, and to commiserate with those teachers who find their classroom invaded by these toys that look like they came from outer space.
The important thing is that we help our students to achieve the best they can and give them the tools that help them on their learning journey.
If that tool happens to be a fidget spinner, that’s OK as long as my classroom remains on environment conducive to learning. I love that my students have tools to help them concentrate and stay focused. I’m fine with students moving and working towards staying focused. I want my classroom to be a fun-filled learning environment that my students enjoy. If I have a student that learns best by playing with a fidget spinner, then my classroom will be a fidget spinner friendly environment!
On a fun side note- there is a fun fidget spinner STEM activity for those teachers who want to bring the fidget spinner into their science classroom!

I want to ditch the textbook

Just an update on what I’ve been doing since my ECMP355 class ended, I am on a temporary contract in a small rural school in southern Saskatchewan. I am teaching world history, middle years social studies, and a few other courses. Needless to say, I am pretty busy.

21395471761_c9ee04d057_m Photo Credit: Catface27 Flickr via Compfight cc

Since I am so busy, I have been relying on the textbook for the world history course. I kind of hate it. The textbook is almost as old as I am, and rather outdated. I also really hate how one sided it presents “world” history. Right now, we are learning about imperialism in Africa (I really want to expand that to imperialism across the globe, because the way it is presented it seems like imperialism only affected Africa). In the few chapters of imperialism in Africa, the textbook gives us three (3!!!!) paragraphs about resistance to imperialism. Did I mention that those three paragraphs are short and stilted? There isn’t very much information contained within those sentences.

My plan is to shift my approach as this unit goes on. I plan on using online sources such as Ditch That Textbook, TED Talks, the Fordham University Internet History Sourcebook , Stanford’s Read Like a Historian, and quite possibly a few other sources that I find along the way! I want my students to be able to ask questions and explore other viewpoints rather than just the one that is presented in the textbook. I want them to realize that not every source is reliable. Most of all, I want them to learn more than what gets them a good grade on the next test.

I will (hopefully) keep this updated as I move away from the textbook and focusing more on critical thinking and inquiry in my classroom.

Adventures of ECMP 355 (Summary of Learning)

I’m not sure one post or one video can explain all that I’ve learned this semester, but I worked with Brooke Stewart on creating a video or two where we tried to fully summarize what we have learned on this journey that is ECMP 355! Rural internet limitations means that we had to break up our summary of learning into two parts: the first being a Powtoon video where we go on a journey about learning about technology and the second, we reflect on a few things we couldn’t include in our Powtoon including coding, cyberbullying and a topic that is special to us- technology and rural schools.


I sincerely hope you enjoy our videos as much as I enjoyed creating them with my friend and neighbor Brooke!

Online Activism and Social Justice

Our world is imperfect. Privilege is afforded to a select few and exclusion happens all around us. Although it is imperfect, it can be changed. We can change our world. Change can happen in a variety of ways, not just by marches, protests and voting booths, but by opening dialogues, teaching others and accepting a diversity of voices and viewpoints. Change is difficult, change can be seen as threatening and online dialogue can get muddled with trolls, irrelevant comments and dissension.

Photo Credit: justine warrington Flickr via Compfight cc

This week we were presented with a few questions: “can online activism be meaningful and worthwhile?” & “Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?”

My answer is yes. Yes, it can be meaningful and worthwhile and productive, but there are ways to go about talking about a specific cause in such a way that educates the public and opens dialogues.

First, conversations should be conducted in an appropriate venue with an appropriate audience. A dog owner forum would be a great venue to talk about no-kill shelters and spay/neuter clinics while those members might be less receptive to talks about social justice and other non-dog related topics.

Photo Credit: Geraint Rowland Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Conversants allow others to voice their opinions in a respectful, meaningful manner. Hopefully the dialogue stays free of over-generalization, name calling and other disrespectful habits that detract from the topic on hand. Openly discussing differing viewpoints allows others to see the different sides of the story and synthesize any information.

According to Caralee Robertson, we need to engage in these conversations to be good digital citizens and that these conversations need to be based on facts, not blown up assumptions. 

Online activism can be deeply meaningful and can reach individuals across the world. I think there are a few key things that can keep the dialogue on a meaningful level: knowledge, authenticity, informational about the issues and maintaining an open dialogue with others.

Those supporting a particular issue should be knowledgeable about said issue and about how to solve the problems surrounding the issue. It is one thing to bring light on a problem, but it takes a solution to bring people together and unite them for a cause.

To me, authenticity is a huge deal. If I feel like a cause is “just a fad” I’m less likely to invest my time, money or thought on it. But if a person comes to me with strong feelings and information on why the topic is important , then I’m more likely to learn about it and contribute.

32407024424_de44f576f7.jpg Photo Credit: chrisjohnbeckett Flickr via Compfight cc

In addition to authenticity, maintaining an open dialogue is also important for both authenticity and in acknowledging a variety of view points that exist. Diversity makes us stronger, our multitude of voices leads to a more complete narrative and more wholesome solutions.

Please, engage in dialogue, support a cause and discuss social justice. Help the world change, be the change you wish to see! But be prepared for trolls to disrupt the dialogue and for others to not see eye-to-eye with you, acknowledge differences and respect opinions for it is by our differences that we make our world a better place.

Learning Project Summary

When this semester began and I learned that I had to work on a “learning project,” I was doubtful. I figured it would be a drain on my time and that I would hate it. I was wrong. I enjoyed learning about engraving and I’d love to learn more about it. There are three day courses I can take from professionals to hone my technique. I am saving up for one of those courses!

If I had to describe my learning project journey in one word, it would be “roller-coaster.” On my trip from Calgary, I was sky-high with my expectations and how much I was going to accomplish with this project this semester. To say that I overestimated myself- is an understatement. I learned lots about engraving, more about myself and tons about online learning.

To kick off my list of things learned, I will start with organization. It is important to organize your research materials as sources can be scattered across the internet with various authors/contributors and information can differ depending on the source. I have an “engraving” folder on Chrome and my Safari browser on my iPhone. This really helped me stay organized. I also utilized Evernote to write notes, save websites and save pictures for inspiration. It even has a handy-dandy Chrome extension to help you!

Access to certain pieces of information may be limited and information is not always free. Sometimes you have to buy or rent a digital copy of a video, pay for a membership or invest in private lessons via video conference or phone call. This isn’t new to me, private lessons via phone call or video are common in the barrel racing world.

Having a network is important. I didn’t get the opportunity to establish an engraving network like I have for teaching, though I did gain information via online forums available to me. I believe the quality of my learning project suffered from my lack of network. I did gain some great sources from Twitter thanks to the Hobo Nickel Society. They responded to my tweet!

This reinforced another idea- don’t be afraid to ask for help! Someone in your network may be able to help you!

Don’t forget to reflect and learn from failure. Accept failure when it happens, explore why it happened and move on with what you learned from the experience. I know I failed mostly from a lack of practice and a lack of tools (you need the right tool for the job!), but I can still improve my skills with the tools I have and I can always buy more tools.

My last project is incomplete. I began engraving a pair of stirrups (See my post with stirrup inspiration!), but life got in the way. I plan on finishing the pair, but it might take me awhile to get them completed while we are calving and I am working full-time. Below are some photos of my process and a few of my projects this semester! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did when it came to their learning project this class! I’m considering a new learning project in the Fall, I just have to decide what I want to pursue.