My Contributions 

“How have you contributed to the learning of others?”

That is a very good question. It has been a long semester filled with ups and downs, indecision and a rather hectic schedule for me.

I will say that this is my weakest link. When my life got busy, my responses and comments got pushed to the side. I also have a tendency to lurk, seeing how others have solved the problem rather than answering the question being asked. I also felt limited by my lack of knowledge in this topic of technology. It took me awhile to actually comment on Google+. Below are some screenshots from comments I made and posts I shared on our Google+ community.

I began the semester hating Twitter. I had tried using it as a personal account and I just didn’t “get it” but thanks to this class, I now love twitter! I love learning new things (especially about teaching) and meeting new people.

I shared a few sources with my #ECMP355 classmates like Love, Joy, Feminism and Youtube extensions for teachers (see embedded Tweet above). I also helped a few classmates learn more about a particular ed tech tool- Flipgrid by Tweeting about the tool and created a topic using Flipgrid on which my fellow ECMP classmates could use Flipgrid as a student and respond to a prompt.

I also participated in a few Twitter chats such as #CVTechTalk and #imaginEDchat and I would love to keep participating in chats such as those in the future (when I can, Spring and Summer are hectic times for me due to our ranch. We start calving in mid-March through May and then there’s seeding in the Spring and haying in the Summer in addition to our branding and helping our neighbors with theirs).

I love the Twitter chats because you see so many different opinions from a variety of sources (which I could see easier thanks to Tweetdeck!). These chats are also a way to expand your network  based on your interests (Social Studies, anyone? Social Justice? Teach like a Pirate??) which I think is great, I can learn better methods that are catered to the issues that pop up in a Social Studies/History classroom.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I could have commented on more posts, but as I’ve said before, my life got busy and I pushed the interaction part of this class to the side. It is a terrible excuse, but I am owning that this was my weakness and I could have done better.

My next post will be all about what I’ve learned! Stay tuned!


News Flash and Google Books

I found a great source today. I was browsing the engraving forum when I stumbled upon a post of Techniques and Resources that are an inexpensive way to give it a try. 

One of those links (I haven’t checked all of them out yet!) was a book on Google Books about drawing acanthus leaves (what the heck is that?! See my post about engraving terms if you just asked that!). According to the author of the post this book is a “must Havel for drawing scrolls and acanthus leaves. 

I downloaded it. 

I discovered it was published in 1896. Years language reflects that. There is a bit of a learning curve on reading what the author is saying and taking directions from it. 

The example the book gave and what I ended up with based on the written directions

This is going to take some time. Time that I have since I forgot to order a vise to hold my engraving projects. 

At least I’m learning something while I wait?

This reminds me that we all have different learning styles. No two students learn exactly the same way and we need to acknowledge that while teaching. 

We also need to help our students when they are struggling. They need encouragement and the tools to keep going and trying even when the task is difficult. 

What roadblocks has anyone else encountered for their learning projects? 

Who am I?

Who am I?hat

I struggle to really know myself as my identity seems to vary depending on the hat I am wearing. I seem to wear many hats these days. I am a teacher, a barrel racer, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a Christian, a resident of a small town in southern Saskatchewan, a ranch hand, and a student, among other things.

Mostly, I juggle between two personalities online: on Instagram and Facebook I wear one hat, and on Twitter I wear another. On Instagram, I am a rodeo competitor, Jellybean’s paparazzi (Jellybean is my barrel horse), and a tea enthusiast. On Twitter, I am a teacher and a barrel racer, I barely posted on Twitter before this class, but it was mainly about barrel racing topics. I am now a follower of mainly educational blogs and profiles.


Jellybean thinks she is a celebrity since she has her own personal paparazzi. Photo courtesy of Country Monkey Photography

Thanks to this dichotomy, I have two blogs and sometimes it feels like I have two lives, but I am one person with a few different hats. I own three horses: Buzz (who I share with my husband), Jellybean (she’s my best friend!), and Belle (she’s the baby, she’ll be two in April). I grew up in Pennsylvania, moved to Montana after graduation (my family lives in Montana), and now I live in Killdeer, Saskatchewan(the middle of nowhere, and I love it!). My closest friends are fellow barrel racers, and they are scattered all over the U.S. & Canada. I enjoy reading, crafting (sewing and leather work, mainly) and helping out on the ranch.

My teacher hat includes two degrees from Montana State University (Social Studies Broadfield with a teaching minor of government and a degree in History). I enjoy teaching history and political science, mainly to high school students but I am starting to enjoy interacting with the middle years students too. Subbing has helped me expand my teaching horizons on my own terms while giving me some valuable classroom experience (my principal called me a veteran today!). I do eventually want to teach full-time, but I am enjoying this stage in my career while taking classes for certification.

While I was attending Montana State, I took a class titled Educational Technology (EDU 370). For the class I had to create a digital learning portfolio and it is still up and running! During the course I had to participate in an after-school program and teach elementary students about computers. It was a fulfilling activity and I learned a lot! I enjoyed integrating some of the things learned in that class during my internship and I plan on taking what I learned and implementing it in my own classroom.

I did attempt to blog during my internship, but I did not have a whole lot of time while student teaching and after graduation, I stopped blogging about history and teaching. I do have a (non class-mandated) blog about barrel racing that I share with one of my friends and fellow competitor. I enjoy writing about topics that interest me and I plan on continuing my teacher blog now that I’ve set it up. Hopefully I can establish a groove and stick with it!

In addition to a blog, during my internship I used a google site to help my students stay up to date on what was going on in class. I uploaded worksheets and maintained a calendar so my students who missed class could get their homework and see what we learned that day. I also had a page of resources that I am currently bringing over to this blog. They are disorganized so it is taking time to put them into categories and make sure the links work. I really liked having a teacher website and I feel it helped my students stay on top of classwork and it helped the parents feel involved- they knew what was going on in my classroom and how to contact me. 31423840296_1bebc414db_m

Blogging presents great opportunities to learn more about topics that intrigue me and formulate my own ideas. It also can lead to great learning conversations with other people interested in the same topic. It is a great learning tool and I hope to keep blogging throughout my teaching career, I just have to make time to blog!

Until next time, keep learning!


While I’m Waiting

While I wait for my new tools to arrive, I figured I would talk about why I chose to pursue hand engraving for my learning project. In some ways, I have been around hand engraved items all my life. I love the style and beauty of engraved scrollwork on the western  belt buckles, spurs and conchos that I’ve seen all my life thanks to horses and rodeo.

I have competed in rodeos since I was four years old. My older sisters were involved and whatever they did, I wanted to do too. I still compete in rodeo and barrel racers. It is something that I want to be involved in for the rest of my life. Rodeo is how I met my husband, I was on a rodeo scholarship through college, my sisters and the rest of my family are all involved in rodeo in some way. I have spent weekends in the stands watching my niece and nephews compete on the junior high and high school levels and countless hours in the pickup traveling with my sisters to events across Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.



A photo from my early barrel racing career. Photo courtesy of the author.

Rodeo has its own culture (and it is a facet of the western lifestyle). Belt buckles hold meaning in the western world, it is a representation or a résumé, if you will. Belt buckles are often given as awards in rodeo.  They come in many different sizes and styles, with different types of metal, stones and engraving. Buckle makers each have their own style and are distinctive. Engraving is not just for belt buckles, but it is seen on conchos, spurs and other metal items used by Cowboys and cowgirls daily.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have won too many buckles to count. Most are displayed in our living room, but some are stored away- we simply do not have the room to display all of them in our little house.


Buckles displayed in my home. Photo courtesy of the author

Being surrounded by this beauty made me want to look into how they’re made, or at least how to complete one step in the process. I never really thought it was a skill I’d pursue, but thanks to ECMP 355 I get that chance!

There are other skills I could have chosen that are related to rodeo, ranching and my life, but I am pretty spoiled by my family- they are a talented bunch. My father-in-law and both sisters-in-law create custom leather pieces, my husband draws and sculpts, my mother taught me to sew, and my husband’s grandma knits and crochets. I wanted to try something different, something that is tied to the western way of life and my thoughts turned to hand engraving!



Photo courtesy of RKLeather via Facebook

I am looking forward to learning more about engraving. I’ve watched a few videos and read posts on engraving forums, but there is only so much I can do until my supplies arrive! The weather has been nice and so I’ve been filling my time (when not in the classroom) by riding my barrel horse and dreaming of Springtime!

Until next time, keep learning!


Personal Learning Project: the Beginning

As a part of my ECMP 355 course (Computers in Education), I am to engage in a personal learning project this semester. It was difficult for me to choose a subject! There are so many things I want to learn, but I wanted a skill or hobby that I’ve never tried before

As my husband and I drove from Calgary on Thursday we bandied a few ideas around, but many of our ideas were things I’ve tried before (such as sewing, leather tooling and painting). As we drove by Brooks, an idea hit me! Metal engraving! I’ve never worked with metal and I can incorporate those skills with my other hobbies (mainly leather work, I can create conchos to place on my leather work!) and I can share my newfound skills with my family and friends!

After I decided what I wanted to do, I needed to find information on how to get started. This took some googling while my awesome husband drove (thanks, honey!). Wikihow is the first link to pop up, followed by an article titled “how to do engraving easy and make it look decent” on The second article was about labeling tools with the owner’s name, rather than the art of metal engraving.

Wikihow recommends the use of a pneumatic graver (what the heck is that?) but other options are a hammer and chisel, a Dremel tool or a craft knife. I began the search for a pneumatic graver, they come highly recommended by a few different websites and engraving forums. One problem, I am just learning and this is a professional tool (not to mention out of my price point at the moment). More searching found a forum post on titled “A Beginner’s Progress Plans, Tutors Tips and Informational Link” and it is gold. I would have spent a lot of money on a tool that I am not ready to handle without this post! The author shared pictures of his hand gravers that were his first tools, before he moved on to a pneumatic graver.

Although the Wikihow article had simple steps and urges the reader to learn more about engraving, it left many details out (like the hand graver). In addition to learning about hand engraving, my first foray into learning on the internet made me realize a few things: keep digging (sometimes more information is needed), there are people out there that are willing to help you get started, bookmark anything you make think is relevant to your subject (I now have a folder in my bookmarks for engraving information so I don’t lose it!).
I am looking forward to learning more about metal engraving and sharing my journey with you! I can’t wait until my tools arrive in the next few weeks (thanks to Amazon!).

Until next time, keep learning!