Summary of Learning


Chalyn, Kayla, and I decided we would have some fun with an animated video for our summary of learning.  After we did a quick google search we came up with the product Nawmal.  Kayla downloaded the free trial of the program.  We decided that we would each speak about different things that we had taken away from the course.  After we organized our thoughts on a Google Doc,  we were ready to start.

Here is the video:

Chalyn took the lead of compiling our thoughts into the Nawmal program in order to create the animated video. Here is her story of the struggles and successes using this program:

I figured I would be adventurous and attempt to put our video together.  I first selected a talk show setting which I thought would allow for back and forth dialogue using an interview strategy, this was perfect as we each could share our learning.

The next part of the process was selecting the characters.  I chose four characters to allow for a host and a representation of each one of our summaries. Seating the characters on the couch was a process in itself.  The next step was adding in the dialogue for back and forth question and answer type exchange.  As I got a few lines in, I figured I should listen to the dialogue between my characters.  I quickly realized they all had the same voice, so I explored around and downloaded different voices for all of the characters.  Some of the voices were very robotic and others were not so bad.  The download time was extremely slow, moving at 2% per minute.  After only one voice option showed up, I had to go back and download a certain voice for each character not just download voices and assume I could choose from a list.

I continued adding more dialogue for the characters until I had our script perfect.  I attempted to listen to my progress but as I continued to type dialogue, the buffering time increased to the point I was waiting for 3 minutes for it to playback.  I also realized that I could add gestures to the characters, making them move their hand and even look at the host.  This was sort of fun as some of the actions were bold.

I was nearing the end of my adventure and thought I should show Kayla my progress on our project, then we would have an idea about changes and the timing.  I also realized that listening to it allowed me to catch my mistakes.  Aaaahhh one final listen and we would we ready to put it on the web.  Kayla and I waited and waited and the buffering time was ridiculous, I had been saving along the way so I knew that I wouldn’t lose my work. After about 15 minutes of waiting for our animated video to play I decided to exported it.  I was confident that it would be alright and I could always go back to my saved version.

Well was I wrong.  After I pushed that export button our stomachs quickly sunk as a pop up appeared saying we needed to purchase the full version to see our video. We thought we could go back to my saved version and worst case, just record it as the trial version using a cell phone and upload it from there.  Kayla quickly whipped out her credit card as there was no other choice but to upgrade.  After deciding to buy the paid version for $9.99 US/ month we figured our problem was solved. After we attempted to open up the saved files, another popup appeared saying the version we paid for did not support the feature I had used.  There was another choice in subscribing but we did not want to pay the $99.00 a month so we opted for the discounted version.  After 3 hours of creating the video and buying the subscription we still had nothing.

Kayla had the bright idea to email for support.  I pointed out that it was 4PM on Friday, good luck with that.  Kayla quickly composed and email asking for help as we were sick about our project being trapped.  Within 10 minutes we received a reply.  Apparently we should have bought the expensive version.  The email offered to convert our file for us, if we sent it to them.  Kayla and I were so very thankful for the quick reply from Nawmal.

Nawmal Review

I will admit that this is an unedited version of our project, and we had no choice in going back and making changes.  This Nawmal experience taught us that we should definitely have read some reviews about the program, if we would have known that many of the features were not compatible with the free trial, we would have chose a different animation program.  

Final Thoughts

This digital experience has taught me how to use a number of different tech tools along with how to use a variety of social media platforms. Not only has EC&I 831 given me the competence to use social media effectively, but it has also provided me with the confidence to use it to try to create change.  I have used my blog and twitter as an outlet to advocate for the importance of #freeplay in nature and to promote my natural playground project.  Without the growing online support, this initiative would still be just an idea. Social media has helped my project gain momentum like a snowball effect.  Before my first blog post, #KitchenerPlayscapeProject was just an idea and today we have an enormous support base and a network of professionals that are working to make this idea a reality. I want to thank the whole EC&I class and Alec/Katia for giving me the confidence and competence to make this happen.


Here is a video to help raise awareness for the need of #outdoorplay at my school. The video really puts my idea of a natural playground into perspective, while providing student experiences on the current playground at Kitchener School. My hope for this video is to show others the importance of #freeplay in nature and to gain enough traction to secure a partnership to make this dream become a reality for my students. I also decided to create the hashtag #KitchenerPlayscapeProject for anyone interested in following this project beyond the end of ECI&831. Below is a few things that will be presented in the near future.

Things to come:
Week of April 18th – Video conference with landscape architects from Dialog Design
Detailed drawing design for #KitchenerPlayscapeProject

Children need to participate in #RiskyPlay opportunities


Since I do not have anything to report with my Playscape Project, I am going to write about something that was brought to my attention by Kayla through twitter this week. Here is the tweet:  

#OutdoorPlay in natural environments promotes children to be creative/imaginative and increases divergent thinking. It was very uplifting to see organizations supporting this initiative and was great to see the traction this article has received. Adding the element of risk to play also has a big upside; play environments where children could take risks promoted increased play time, social interactions, creativity and resilience. Although traditional play structures have decreased the amount of injuries, Psychiatrist Shimi Kang says,

“the more we protect our children, the more we are putting them at risk for danger”.

In risky play, youngsters dose themselves with manageable quantities of fear and practice behaving adaptively while experiencing that fear.  They learn that they can manage their fear, overcome it, and come out alive. So, if we do not provide these risky opportunities for children, how will our children learn how to adapt and manage fear when we constantly worry for their safety. This recent project is another key learning that supports my idea of play and my playscape initiative. Here are a few videos that advocate for #outdoorplay in nature:

Richard Louv: The Power of Nature

Adventurous play—Developing a culture of risky play

Risky Play and Creativity: Outdoor Classroom Design



The importance of online activism

Photo Credit: Top Images via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Top Images via Compfight cc

If you follow me on twitter or my blog, it is very clear that I have a passion for promoting physical literacy and advocating for #outdoorplay. Whether it is retweeting a recent news article of the benefits of risky play or blogging about my natural playscape project, you can see that I am trying to create an awareness for these issues. So does this make me a slacktivist? Well, slacktivism is defined as when people do something online in support of a certain cause or event, such as sign a petition or share a news article, that requires little time and/or thought. Before taking this class, I would only use twitter for posting pictures of my students engaging in physical activities or retweeting charity campaigns like #bellletstalk or #potashcorpcares. Although there was very little time or thought in retweeting these initiatives, these companies would make a donation for every tweet or retweet.

Now that I know how powerful twitter can be, I have completely altered the way I use this social media platform. I am more conscious of the digital footprint I am trying to create, which has connected me with many like-minded people/groups. Using twitter as an outlet for promoting my passion has also empowered me to push more boundaries. I have always knew that our school playground discouraged any form of play but never really did anything about it other than having conversations with people. It is crazy how much momentum can happen from a few likes on a tweet or giant conversations that can start from a simple idea. When fellow teachers or administrators are retweeting my thoughts and ideas, there seems to be a gain in awareness and my project takes shape a little more. Although I have “boots on the ground” working towards my end goal of creating a natural playscape for my school, social media has given me the power to help change the way people feel about the importance of outdoor play in a natural environment. Having more and more people become emotionally attached to this initiative has made it easier to accomplish what needs to get done. Whether it is a teacher using the playscape concept to teach a math lesson to their students or a coworker finding a landscape architect that is willing to design the playground for free, creating an emotional bond has started to make things happen.

So to answer the question, I guess you could call me an online activist…or a “slacktivist”. Even though I am trying to create change on more of a local stage, I think it is extremely powerful to get likes or retweets from those who are simply just clicking a button without much thought. Having more support online has transpired into people actively engaging in making this idea a reality.

Having said this, I will continue to click that four letter word “like” with the intention that it will help others who feel the same as I do. If you believe in something and can help the cause in anyway shape or form, even if it is liking something online because you do not have the resources to help in person, it helps put boots on the ground. Here is a short video about raising awareness through online activism:


Where do the children play

I want to start off this week’s blog post by showing the song “where do the children play” by Cat Stevens. I thought the song was fitting for what I am trying to accomplish and would be a great backdrop for the promotional video I am starting to put together in order to attract possible partnerships. 

This past Wednesday was an exciting day as I first met with an architect that will be helping with designing the playscape and also organized a survey for parents to engage in throughout the day. Having parents/community input is an integral part of the designing phase of this project. I started the day by sending out this tweet:

In total I had 20 families take part in the survey and every one insisted that the play space needed to be updated. It was reassuring to hear parents talk about having a space for their children to play that was safe and inclusive. When talking to families about the possibility of a more natural space for a playground, they were instantly excited. Parents also felt that incorporating First Nations artwork to the playground was very important for creating a space where the community could connect with their culture. Here are the results from the survey:

parentsurvey1 parentsurvey2 parentsurvey3 parentsurvey4 parentsurvey5 parentsurvey6








































List of things to complete:

  • send parent survey to architect
  • create promotional video with students
  • display playground design when finished
  • create a budget for playscape

Laws against online harassment

Photo Credit: LA VOCE DEL PAESE via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: LA VOCE DEL PAESE via Compfight cc

After learning about #Gamergate, #privilegeGate, and other online harassment, I decided to try to find out what laws there are in Canada to protect people from being victims of online harassment. Although we should “start by creating a culture that shames individuals who cross the bounds of decency” like Matt Rozza suggests, what happens when the perpetrator is anonymous?

Photo Credit: dataforgecanada via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dataforgecanada via Compfight cc

I also agree that “every personal attack must be done by someone who attaches his or her name to the charges and can, thus, be held accountable for them” but if someone has the option of remaining anonymous in order to remain “safe” from any backlash, they will continue to do so. No matter how cowardly or unethical the personal attacks are, as long as there is no accountability attached to online harassment, this epidemic will not go away.

After watching John Oliver’s video of online harassment,

I was in shock at how there was no federal law against someone from posting discriminating photos online without someone’s consent. When reading AnnMarie Chiarini’s story of being brutally humiliated by her ex boyfriend auctioning off nude photos of her on eBay, I could not believe that the police consistently told her that “there is nothing we can do. No crime had been committed”. Most people look down on her, saying that she should not have let her boyfriend take those pictures…and maybe they are right but how is there no consequences for publicly ruining someone’s life. Where is the accountability?

In the Canadian criminal handbook for police and crown prosecutors on criminal harassment, you can find a number of laws that are associated with online harassment. Here is the outline of cyber harassment: The terms “cyber-stalking” and “online harassment” are often used to refer to three types of activities: direct communication through e-mail or text messaging; Internet harassment, where the offender publishes offensive or threatening information about the victim on the Internet; and unauthorized use, control or sabotage of the victim’s computer. A few laws that are directly related to the types of online harassment from this week’s readings include:

  • Sending harassing messages (sometimes forged in the victim’s name) through e-mail or text message to the victim or to the victim’s employers, co-workers, students, teachers, customers, friends or family.
  • Attempting to destroy the victim’s reputation by engaging in “cyber-smearing”, i.e., sending or posting false or embarrassing intimate information about or, supposedly, on behalf of the victim.
  • Creating websites about the victim that contain threatening or harassing messages, or provocative or pornographic photographs.

To read more about Canadian laws related to cyber harassment, cyberstalking and cyberbullying go to:

When trying to find an example of a criminal case against online harassment, I came across this two piece story of a man who was brutally stalked and humiliated by his ex-fiance. Here is the full story: gives a list of things you can do if you are a victim of cyber-bullying/harassment:

  • Don’t reply to messages from cyberbullies
  • Inform your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or cell phone/pager service provider
  • Inform your local police
  • Do not erase or delete messages from cyberbullies
  • Protect yourself

Connecting with preservice teachers


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting at the HOPE (Health, Outdoor, Physical Education) PD day at the U of R. Myself along with other SPEA (Saskatchewan Physical Education Association) board members shared experiences and insights for promoting physical literacy using the outdoors. I took the opportunity to share my research in the area of the benefits of play, free play, and play in nature. I also talked about my Playscape initiative and my journey through this experience. Here are a few moments captured through twitter #HopePd:

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Outdoor Classroom

During SPEA’s presentation, I came across a few drawings of what an outdoor classroom could look like. Here are the drawings via twitter:

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photo credit:

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This past week was very exciting for myself and the Kitchener School community. A landscape architect from Dialog Design out of Vancouver is going to design and complete the drawings for Pro Bono work. We are so thankful for this unbelievable contribution and can now start forming a plan to secure funding.

I have also finished the survey for the parents to complete during conferences this week. My plan is to set up a table in the school entrance to attract as many parents as I can. Having the community involved in this process is critical for the development of the playground. I will share the results in my next blog post.

Should you be posting pictures of your kids online

The article Don’t post about me on social media, children say, gave me lots to think about this week. I am going to be a new parent in a few short weeks and having read this article along with researching this topic a bit more, I will definitely think twice about posting pictures/comments of my newborn online. Growing up in an pre-social media era, I was able to create my own digital footprint without having my embarrassing childhood moments captured online. Children born nowadays, do not have that luxury. Even before a lot of children are born, moms and dads are posting pictures of ultrasounds on social media and continuing to create a digital timeline of their child after they are born. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to see my first child and want to share him/her with the world… but doing this through social media could cause more harm than good for your child, later on in life.

Photo Credit: Douglas M. Paine via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Douglas M. Paine via Compfight cc

KJ Dell’Antonia mentions that,

“Parents often intrude on a child’s digital identity, not because they are malicious, but because they haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing”.

Those early posts from parents linger, not just online, but in our children’s memories — and the topics may be things we don’t see as potentially embarrassing. Melissa Willets provides 8 types of photos that you should keep private to protect your kids from harassment and harm. It is inevitable that your child will grow into a teenager, who will control their own digital identity and are going to see the digital footprint left behind by their parents. There is also potential for tension between parents and children to be inflicted later on in life because of childhood photos posted online. In a few years, children could easily take their parents to court for publishing photos of them when they were younger. This video shares how some countries like France are taking a stance on these privacy concerns. Parents could potentially get jail time or large fines for publicizing intimate details of the private lives of others.

Here is a list of 10 things to consider before posting your kids on social media:

  1. Your metadata and copyright are not protected
  2. The ‘Save As’ and screenshot options on every computer are very dangerous tools
  3. You can unwittingly identify your children
  4. Young children cannot decide for themselves
  5. Social media sites can be hacked
  6. Algorithms are more far-reaching than you think
  7. You are open to prosecution test cases
  8. You may expose your child to cyberbullying
  9. Your personal info is vulnerable
  10. Check your privacy settings regularly                                               

Read more: 10 things you should know before posting pictures of your children on social media

This video has a great message:

“If you wouldn’t post a picture of your child on the front page of the newspaper, you shouldn’t put it online”.





It is less Me and more WE

Photo Credit: jerry0984 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jerry0984 via Compfight cc

After hitting a dead end this week, I had to change my plan of attack. Last week everything was going according to plan, we met with a landscape architect to have a design consultation and things were starting to look promising. That was until we found out what a design would cost. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to go ahead with the proposed design. This was upsetting to me because this is only the start. In order to even begin applying for grants or reaching out for partnerships, you need a design for a budget. So, insteading of folding the tent, I decided to reach out at our staff meeting last week. Rather than trying to solve all of these problems alone, I thought it would be beneficial to see what solutions we could brainstorm as a collective. A number of great ideas were presented:

  • different ways of accumulating funds (Gofundme page, reaching out to organizations/companies within Regina, etc)
  • alternative playscape designer (one that might be cheaper or one that might be willing to do it Pro Bono)
  • create a video to help share our story with others

Creating an Awareness

Seeing that I could not accomplish much with my proposed schedule, I decided to reach out to others online and see what I could find to help bring this idea of a playscape to the forefront. I first took to twitter to find a great article tweeted out by Lee Shaefer: ‘Nature Is a Powerful Teacher’: The Educational Value of Going Outside. I was immediately hooked when I read the third sentence: “students spent recess in a disorganized, cracked, muddy parking lot” because it resembles recess out our school. The article goes on to talk about how a natural playground is much more than a place for kids to be active.

I also found a great video on Canada AM about natural playgrounds as a trend, which I tweeted out. Adam Bienenstock founder of Bienenstock Playgrounds shares this message:

 “If you care about your children’s safety, mental health, physical development, community engagement, and the future sustainability of our planet – natural playgrounds are the most important and intelligent choice you can make. Is there Art, Music, and Nature in your playground?”

I followed @Bienenstock on twitter and have intentions of connecting with him if needed. I also found this great example of a playscape developed from start to finish on his website:


Why you should google yourself



Digital Identity

Here is a great video that gives a brief description of what digital identity is and some tips to improve it:

Googling Yourself

After reading the article on reputation management this week, I instantly googled my name to see what all showed up. Here is what was on page 1:

google-dallas thiessenMy twitter page was first on the list followed by images, facebook profiles,  my hockey statistics, and my blog. Just by a simple google search, you can get a pretty good sense of who I am and what I have done in the past from the few pages listed.  By clicking on a few pages, you can see where I grew up, how long I played hockey and what teams, how many hockey fights I have been in, and my journey through teaching. Other than the online hockey stats and few pictures I have from teaching, my digital identity is somewhat scarce as my only social media platforms consist of twitter and more recently, my blog. Even though it may seem egotistical to google yourself, it can also be an attempt to identify and shape your personal online “brand”. After reading the article Why google wants you to google yourself, I learned that one of the concerns of googling yourself, is that you have no control over the search results…or do you? Google has a feature called “google profile/google + profile” which users can create so that a thumbnail of personal information shows up. Once users create a Google profile, their name, occupation and location (and photo if they choose) appears in a box on the first page of the search results for their name. Next to the thumbnail info, there’s a link to a full Google profile page that in many ways resembles a Facebook page. I also came across something called “Google Alerts”. This service sends you an email when your name, or other information you choose, pops up online. It’s great to watch your own reputation as well as those of any competitors. Here is a tutorial about how to use Google Alerts:

Protecting yourself

If I was that person who had a number of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, I might contemplate altering my privacy settings. According to Mary Madden and Aaron Smith, more and more people are becoming more vigilant in monitoring what they share and who they share with. Stories about reputational mishaps and wanting to only connect with specific audiences are big reasons for restricting what they share.  I can see why it might be beneficial for some people to take the steps to limit the availability of the amount of personal information online by:

  • changing  privacy settings
  • deleting unwanted comments
  • removing  their name from photos

As an educator and wanting to collaborate and share openly, I have no reason to make any changes to restrict what I share.