Back to the Kitchen… Kids in Tow

Hi all, it has been an interesting week. With Thanksgiving last weekend and then the dreaded stomach flu going throughout our household I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked to have been on my learning project.  Although I was able to catch up on the daily decluttering challenges, I did not get to implement  the organization solution in our front entryway as planned.

Instead, I got some much needed down time on the couch. For an active busy bee like me, that was hard to do. I did enjoy the extra snuggles with my little ones though! It was at this time I was able to really reflect on their growth since the summer. I think I may be underestimating their potential to contribute to the daily household chores. My daughter, who is 3 1/2, and son, 20 months, have the ability and the desire to help in the kitchen, but as a busy family I do not often give them the opportunity, or independence, to. According to WebMD children as young as two need responsibilities in the household to feel like they are making a contribution.

Upon Reflection…

I remember a learning experience my son and I had a few weeks ago. It was the usual busy weekday morning. Getting the kids ready for daycare/preschool, unloading the dishwasher and loading the washing machine all the while trying to remember where I was supposed to be that day. Clearly, I need to be more organized!

I turn to see my son trying in frustration to wrangle a spatula out of the dishwasher. Cute, he is trying to help, I think. At the time, I remember being frustrated. We didn’t have time for him to play in the dishwasher. I instinctively reached out to free the utensil for him, but something stopped me. “Wait… ” I say. “Slow down city slicker. You got this.” I grab my phone to document his learning…


I also learned something very valuable that morning. By simply engaging with him in a simple household chore, he was working on his problem-solving and fine motor skills and his success brought him joy! I still try and encourage his growth, but I believe consistency will be key going forward.

I had seen some great tips on Do it on a Dime’s YouTube channel that I want to implement in our kitchen to help continue my children’s contribution and learning experience.

I have moved the children’s dishes down to their level and will start the routine of getting them to set their own place at the table and put their clean dishes away. I also gave my daughter the task of feeding the cat earlier this week (only because the smell of it made me very queasy!) and she has been asking to feed the cat almost everyday since. That is going on the chore list for sure!

My family and I got back on the healthy train this weekend, so I am looking forward to a happy and healthy upcoming week!

Goals for this coming week

  • Continue to follow the declutter challenge with Clutterbug
  • Share my daily progress on Clutterbug’s Facebook page
  • Continue to identify areas that would benefit from organizational systems
  • Implement organizational systems – Front Entryway bench, overhead shelf, and coat hanger
  • Continue to identify ways in which my little people can help

Thank you for respectfully sharing in my journey!

The link to comment is below the title of this post. 

Fake News, the Millennials, and the Classroom

via Giphy

It’s hard not to think of President Trump when you consider the concept of fake news.  As a prominent global figure, who is quick to label most media outlets that do not speak favorably of him or his Administration, it is hard not to think of him. As a Gen Xer who grew up watching network news, I am quite offended by his accusations and a little alarmed.

Although not our leader, he is considered the leader of the Free World, and as such a role model for our young people. In my view, the bizarre statements and erroneous claims are troublesome. Recently, Trump claimed he ‘came up’ with the term fake news in a recent interview with former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee on TBN. This claim being disputed by, CNN Editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, in a recent article. I have had practice discerning credible media outlets, and more specifically,  what political bias or point of view they are presenting. However, this was a skill learned with time and without the constant suspicion of false reporting. How would that have affected my worldview as a youth of the media? of power? of justice?

In our EC&I 831 session on October 10th, our professor Dr. Alec Couros pointed out that although we may think certain information as fake, others may believe it. Satire is no exception. I found an edited version of a recent interview between President Trump and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. As you will note in the clip, Governor Huckabee is replaced with Stephen Colbert from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Clearly, this is satire. However, when I say “clearly”, I am making a lot of assumptions about the viewers. Who do you think would be prone to believing this? Perhaps people in other nations who are not familiar with Colbert? Thoughts?

Here is the original interview with Gov. Mike Huckabee on TBN.

[Fake] News on Social Media meets the Classroom

My classmate, Ryan, shared in his blog post on this topic recently that the Millennial generation, those born in the 1980s to the mid to late 1990s, are more likely to get their news using social media. As this is the demographic that I teach it had me wondering how these young adults interact with the news they receive on social media.

Pew Research Center conducted a study that confirms Ryan’s source in that Millennial’s aged 18 to 29 years old are more likely to turn to online platforms for news. However, of all adults accessing their news using social media, for example, only 30% have some confidence in its accuracy.

Few have a lot of confidence in information from professional news outlets or friends and family, though majorities show at least some trust in both, but social media garners less trust than either

If I can take this at face value, then I speculate that at least 66% of the population use either common sense, critical thinking skills or fact check when consuming news on social media. In that 30% who have some confidence in news on social media I wonder who are being blindsided by fake news and bringing that into our discussions in the classroom. If you note from the study above, 77% of us trust at least some or a lot of what our friends and acquaintances share with us. I wonder what will happen to this statistic over time with the increase of fake news in social media.

If fake news becomes so convincing that even the best ‘sniffer’ in the classroom doesn’t question it’s authenticity then aren’t we contributing to the distortion that fake news can generate? If we become increasingly aware that fake news is out there will we become suspicious of anyone who shares with us? How does that change the dynamics of trust in relationship with others? To be honest, Grad studies has already started to open my eyes to a new way of thinking about my world! Now I need to be extra careful in what my friends/students/acquaintances tell me in case they have been infected by the Fake News virus?!? Alec shared a great quote in class and I truly feel the affects of it:

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

― Garry Kasparov

What to do?

I see great opportunities to demonstrate methods of fact checking mainstream articles that students wish to use in assignments. One great resource we have are our librarians. Students can certainly contribute to this as well. Furthermore, building into the assessment piece the process in which the student determines they are relying on a credible source may be beneficial. I can see how this holds the student accountable to their audience when sharing information. Again, going back to being a good digital citizen.

Do any teachers or adult educators build the process of fact checking, or otherwise verifying, sources into their assessment? Has that been successful in holding the student accountable?

The link to comment is below the title of this post. 


Organization Starts with Decluttering

15 plates (2)I am not a caterer, but you might think I was one by the amount of small plates and wine glasses I have – strike that – HAD. Why was I keeping 15 mismatched small plates and 14 wine glasses?! No clue! I have NEVER used all of them in one single day, let alone one single setting.  Following Clutterbug’s 30 Day Decluttering Challenge, along with hundreds of other like-minded people around the world, has been the perfect ticket to help kick start my journey to becoming more organized! What was more helpful was posting my purge pile, or my new organized and decluttered space, to Clutterbug’s Facebook page. The social support here has been amazing! At the end of the first week, I had two boxes loaded for charity and one bag for our local Food Bank.

Starting with the Kitchen Cupboards

I am a visual learner and this is one of the main reasons I am drawn to following Cassandra from Clutterbug on YouTube. Each day of the challenge she posts a few minutes of her process in decluttering that days assigned space, followed by a personal story or inspirational message. (trust me, Day One’s story will have you in stitches!)

In addition, her highly organized home is providing great ideas that I can adopt in my own. I found her recycling system under her kitchen sink to be a great idea, one in which I wanted to implement. Efficiency is the goal! Although our outdoor recycling bin is about 15 steps from my kitchen sink it was a real chore to continuously travel there while cleaning the kitchen. This idea reminded me of Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management  I learned in Business school. Applying those principles to the task of cleaning my kitchen should certainly save me a lot of time and energy. (Side note: Sadly, I didn’t just invent this notion. Apparently, Christine Frederick did almost 100 years ago!)

Finishing under the Kitchen Sink

It was late last Friday afternoon and I decided to tackle the installation of my new recycling bin under the sink. My mom was scheduled to come over to assist. Why my mom? She is super handy! But I decided I was going for it – alone. I grabbed the cordless drill, two Halloween candies, the instructions and went for it. The instruction sheet said it should take 15 minutes. I laughed. An hour and a half later….

I figured using an electric screw driver… um cordless drill… would be easy enough, so I didn’t bother YouTubing a “How To” video. This might have contributed to the longer than predicted time to complete the installation. I ran into a couple frustrating moments that might have been prevented had I watched Bill on YouTube.

First, tightening a drill bit in the keyless chuck is counter intuitive. You need to turn the chuck counter clockwise to tighten it. Righty Tighty doesn’t apply here! Second, stripping a screw can be avoided by adjusting the torque. How do I know I was stripping a screw and that it is bad thing? I remember the high pitched sound and my mom’s reaction: “ROBERT, stop! You’re stripping the screw!” In his defense, he is a bit hard of hearing. Thanks to Bill I now know one way to prevent it!

The drill will be an essential tool with the upcoming organizing systems I plan to install. In light of the little I have learned so far on YouTube about the drill, I certainly plan on tapping into other resources to become more efficient.

The Dark Side of Sharing on Social Media

Sharing a personal journey to becoming more organized requires vulnerability. In my exuberance to share on Clutterbug’s Facebook page the momentum I have gained in my own journey, I did not for one moment expect that others may be Facebook shamed. This past week I witnessed a mother, who posted a photo of her over cluttered kitchen to seek advice, shamed for the way she lives. Online shaming is real my friends, and it is ugly. What is more shocking to me is that most, if not all, the people sharing on this page are adults.

While this incident was ‘contained’ to Clutterbug’s Facebook page and didn’t go viral, it still happened. Shouldn’t adults know better? It is increasingly becoming apparent to me, as an adult educator, that there is a need to promote appropriate digital citizenship in adult education. Online shaming is being done by adults, not just the youth. And that is a shame.

Goals for this coming week

  • Continue to follow the declutter challenge with/ Clutterbug’s
  • Share my daily progress on Clutterbug’s Facebook page
  • Continue to identify areas that would benefit from organizational systems
  • Implement organizational systems
  • Identify ways in which my little people can help

Thank you for respectfully sharing in my journey!

The link to comment is below the title of this post. 




Concerns of an Educator in the Digital (social) Media Age

This week we are asked to reflect on what we, as educators, feel are concerns about teaching in the digital (social media) age. And, further, to reflect on how we can balance these concerns with the need to prepare children (or other learners) to succeed in a rapidly changing world and uncertain future. I will address these concerns and possible solutions as an adult educator and as a mother of a preschooler.

As an adult educator at the post-secondary level, I try to be mindful of the types of digital media (including social media) I use to facilitate learning. As with most  educational institutions we have heavy curriculum, and tight timelines, that may not lend itself easily to utilizing certain types of digital or social media.  Micheal Welsh’s Tedx Talk on moving from students being knowledgeable to knowledge-able really struck a cord with me. Welsh shows a picture of a lecture theater full of (disengaged) students presumably being ‘taught to’. Welsh rightfully argues that this does not engage students in learning.

What really struck me was Welsh’s ideas of engaging students and enriching the learning experience. Welsh argues that students must be given the opportunity to practice obtaining knowledge. He advocates that educators present real problems to students, where the answer is not necessarily known by the teacher; give the students the opportunity to collaborate with others (even on a global scale), share and collect information, and publish it for others to learn from; and do all of this with relevant and available media.  So many ideas are buzzing in my mind in how this can be incorporated in some of the courses I teach… but only a few…

The challenge, as I have experienced, is in courses with very heavy curriculum, tight deadlines, and where the major assessment piece is a set standard test that uses the multiple choice bubble sheet. Faced with this, the student’s number one question is definitely “Will this be on the exam?”.  What then? How do we address the need to educate young adult learners to become critical thinkers, to practice creating knowledge, when we are only asking them to demonstrate their ability to understand what is in the course textbook?

I realize this is a dire picture to paint for higher education, and not all courses are like this, but I believe part of the limitation is instructor lack of understanding and use of digital media for educational purposes. In my opinion, institutions need to put more energy into encouraging and educating instructors in the multiple ways in which digital and social media can be used to open the world of possibilities for student engagement and enriched learning. Additionally, institutions need to understand the barriers educators face in understanding and implementing digital and social media in the classroom and address those concerns, such as heavy curriculum, anxiety of learning new technology, or work-life balance.

Concerns about young children and digital media

 Photo source: Pixhere

As a mother of a preschooler, I am concerned with the amount of screen time little children are being exposed to. If I remember correctly from our conversation during Tuesday’s (October 3rd) online class, children’s screen time averages 6 hours per day. Although my preschooler averages much less, she is still exposed. I have noticed that too much screen time causes overstimulation and her inability to regulate emotions when interacting with us. Marley, a teacher in the K-12 system, expresses similar concerns of her students being overstimulated by exposure to digital media, at home and in the classroom.

The insight I gained into a teacher’s thoughts on this issue, makes me wonder how I can ensure my preschooler’s exposure is meaningful. Because, let’s face it, digital media is, and will continue to be, a conduit to higher learning and connection to others. As a parent, I am one of my daughter’s first teachers and with that I have a responsibility to ensure the online content my daughter is consuming is both safe and appropriate. I need to consider ways in which I can help my daughter recognize the value of what and how she is learning by becoming more involved in her interaction with digital media.

I will admit as one who has intermediate skills when it comes to utilizing digital media, including social media, I still feel behind in what are the most current and innovative tools and apps that can facilitate meaningful learning for children or young adults. Embracing new ideas and exploring new-to-me digital media applications is opening a world of possibilities for me to facilitate improved learning experiences not only for my daughter, but also for my students at the post-secondary level.

Finding the Golden Ticket to Getting Organized

I like to consume…. I enjoy materialistic goods, as is apparent in my closets, drawers and kitchen. I also like to consume information. I am a curious cat! When embarking on this project I went on a journey to find the golden ticket to getting organized, the perfect solution to the state of my disorganization. I went to the smorgasbord of organization strategy and had a feast! I sampled so many organizational resources, both in print and online, but did not find the perfect one. What I did find was a workable combination, and that makes me excited!

Resources – You could eat for a lifetime!

If I am continuing with the smorgasbord analogy – you could eat for a lifetime with the amount of organizational resources that are out there. From mommy bloggers, to professional organizers (books), to mommy bloggers who went pro and now offer online courses for the low price of $100USD. It’s true!  On that note, I’ll have….

A huge helping of Overwhelm, with a side of Indecision

As I already identified in my first post for this learning project, having a disorganized and cluttered home can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed and can impair decision making. However, it is not just my current state of disorganization that has me  paralyzed…. It’s also my perfectionism…. there I’ve said it. This all to familiar trap of not wanting to start a major project until I have found the right (a.k.a. perfect) solution.

Image adapted from Organized Enough

Here, the author of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting–and Staying–Organized has set out realistic expectations that even this perfectionist can handle. I am going with being organized enough!

Getting, and staying organized, is a mind shift to a new perspective on how your living space best works for your lifestyle. I have discovered through the readings this past week that even though I don’t know what the finished product is going to look like exactly, it’s a journey in self-discovery and it just might get messy before it gets sorted!

Starting with a Network of Clutterbugs

I have discovered some great tips from fellow Canadian, Cassandra Aarssen of Clutterbug on home organization. Fortuitously, on October 1 she launched the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge! Each day, I can follow along with Cassandra as she illustrates on YouTube her methods of decluttering each of the spaces listed below. As a bonus, I can tap into the very active ClutterBug Organizing Advice Facebook group, which has over 23,000 members, for advice and to showcase my wins. I am excited about this social learning opportunity!

Photo source:

What to keep, what to toss, what to donate… oh my…

When decluttering I need to decide what I keep, toss or donate. This can be a challenge – I mean for the most part, the items in my home were brought in for a reason. To help me make these decisions I can follow Clutterbug’s S.P.A.C.E Method, aided by the anti-perfectionist’s list of questions:

  • Do I need it?
  • Does it belong here?
  • Does it fit with who I am now?
  • If I were to let it go, would I end up replacing it?

On a side note, I did consider Marie Kondo’s advice to hold each item and quietly ask myself, “Does this spark joy?”, but then I would have to throw out my can opener, and most definitely my Spanx… both of which I need!

Goals for this coming week

  • Continue to follow the declutter challenge with Clutterbug
  • Share my progress on Instagram
  • Identify areas to that would benefit from organizational systems
  • Identify ways in which my little people can help.

Thank you for respectfully sharing in my journey!

The link to comment is below the title of this post. 

Sharing and Learning Using Social Media in Formal Education

This week in our Social Media and Open Education course we are invited to think about the positive and negative aspects of student learning, and sharing the products of this learning, using social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, or blogging. In reading about this topic, I have identified both opportunities and challenges in sharing and learning using social media. I have also set out goals for myself as an educator to address some of the challenges listed. Finally, I leave you further questions for consideration.

Social media

Image Credit:

The integration of social media in education can provide a child with a deeper connection, not only with classmates, but with other students across the globe in the pursuit of knowledge. As illustrated in the article Is Your Child Ready for 21st-Century Learning?, results in enhanced critical thinking skills and social connection can be profound. As a high school student of the 90s, inquiry based, self-directed learning had its limitations. We had ONE computer in the library that ran the Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM. There was a line up to access the information! Furthermore, our education was very much teacher-centered and connection to other students nationally was facilitated through snail mail.  Today, as an adult educator in a post-secondary institution, where the method of teaching still resembles more of a didactic approach, I am both challenged and excited to learn ways to integrate inquiry based learning through social media. What a powerful tool!

Below I explore in more depth the opportunities and challenges faced by educators in using social media to enhance learning.

Opportunities for sharing and learning using social media

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

Photo credit:

Challenges for sharing and learning using social media

  • Impact of the digital divide
  • Social media may become a distraction – i.e. excessive non – academic use during classtime
  • Time in monitoring online activity for evaluation (post-secondary, in particular)
  • Discerning source credibility: Fake News
  • Privacy issues (primary education, in particular)

Addressing challenges using social media in my teaching

As an adult educator, my initial goals in social media integration are two-fold. First, connecting the use of open learning through social media to the course objectives in a meaningful way is paramount. Shifting from a lecture based, teacher-centered learning environment to one that promotes inquiry based learning using social media will be a welcome challenge. I found Ashley Jamison’s re-tweet on the difference between using technology and technology integration a great starting point.

Second, as an educator I would need to understand the full scope of digital citizenship, recognizing that it goes beyond basic netiquette rules. What about access? How does the digital divide impact my students? Can I assume that each student has quality physical access to the internet or devices? More importantly, what impact does the student’s digital literacy skills have on their ability to learn in a social media environment? Being aware of these challenges my students may face is an important factor in how I introduce and evaluate learning using social media.

Questions for further consideration

As an adult educator I have encountered adult learners who are hesitant in, and sometimes opposed to, using social media in education. Beyond introducing the endless possibilities of learning with this medium, can I expect them to comply?

With respect to younger learners in the K-12 system, at what age can we realistically expect them to understand the responsibility of being a good digital citizen? How do educators address the concerns of parents who may be hesitant in having their children’s work or identity being shared publicly? Should parental consent be required?

What are your thoughts?

The link to comment is below the title of this post. Thanks!

Proposed Learning Project

Does it bring joy? Getting to a purposeful and mindful life….

As an adult, I sometimes take informal learning for granted. There are times when I learn without even realizing I am learning. Can anyone relate? As I am reflecting on my summer as a stay at home mom with my two very active and curious children – my daughter, who is three (turning thirteen) and my son who is twenty months – I am amazed at how much I learned about them as individuals and us as a family. For example, I learned that my daughter has an amazing capacity for empathy and even though my son isn’t speaking intelligible words yet he can communicate. I feel incredibly blessed that I could spend this time with them and get to know them better. Here’s the but… the rub… the 21st century/1st world problem….

I didn’t spend as much time with them as I could have. Why? Because I was consumed by organizing a lifetime worth of stuff! My house is full of STUFF. Please do not get me wrong, we are not certifiable hoarders. Although on busy days, or during our current home office renovation, you would think we might be. I believe we are an average North American family who have unwittingly, and at times knowingly, subscribed to the materialistic culture we live in. Bothered by the impact it has had on my life, I turned to Google and started my journey of learning about this culture and how it impacts families.  I was not surprised to find a University of California study documenting how American middle-class abundance has lead to a cluttered life. This study confirmed my belief that clutter leads to higher stress levels in women.

Furthermore, Regina Leeds claims that parents who exhibit disorganization in their homes can lead to disorganized children. It can also lead to indecisiveness for those who live in this environment. This makes sense, if my daughter has 13 pairs of jeans it may be hard for her to decide which pair to wear! How does this affect her decision making abilities in other areas of her life? Thankfully, “the essential organizational skills, to eliminate, categorize, and organize, are learned and can be applied to all areas of life.”

This brings me to my major learning project proposal. I want to start living a more purposeful and mindful life while minimizing the impact of a materialistic culture. More importantly, I want to learn how I could negotiate a life within this culture that doesn’t rob me of my time with my children, my husband and even with myself. I believe the start of this journey is to get my house in order! I am purposing the following learning outcomes:

  1. Identify and implement sustainable organizational systems and processes with the view to create an efficient and healthy household.
  2. Explore methods of engaging my young people in the process of becoming organized and mindful in a materialistic world.
  3. Identify methods of disposing of material goods with the least environmental impact.

Proposed learning resources

Too Messy?

As this is a journey of self-discovery and a new way of being, it just might get a little bit messy (literally and figuratively). I do have a concern of finding the right balance of sharing visual evidence of my learning without infringing on my family’s privacy.  Also, wondering about an appropriate hashtag. Something light and fun, perhaps.

Feedback on my proposal is appreciated!