Summary of Learning…Anchorman Style

Well my final summary of learning has come and it was a blast to do. Durston and I put our heads together and talked about the take-aways we had from this course. We had a little fun doing it too. Hope you enjoy. Special thanks to Chris and Gillian for the added content and to the other classmates we touch on in our video. We also had ED Tech alumni Brad Raes make an appearance. It was so fun following everyone else’s journey on their major learning projects. So many neat ideas and growth happened over the course of the semester!


Summary of My Learning Project

My Initial Thoughts…

When I first started my project I thought it would be a quick process and I would need to tackle another reno in order to make my hours! Boy was I wrong. This project took a lot longer to do and I am not just talking about the actual process. The research I needed to do before each step took a lot longer than I thought. I originally figured I would just watch the video and then tackle the task. In a way, it started like that. The first stages of this project were pretty simple and did not require much thought. Cutting the hole in the way was basic but looking back now some things were overlooked. I am not sure if I had found better videos if these things would have been caught but at the same time it was pretty specific to my project. For example, cutting the hole to account for the new drywall to match the line of the other opening that was already there. That is pretty specific to my job and it would be hard to find a video that matched that suggestion when at the time I didn’t even think of it. That is more or less just something I know now from experience. I think that wasn’t something I accounted for in the beginning. All the things I would learn from the experience of carrying out this project rather than learning from youtube. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from the videos and research I did but because of the nature of the task I picked, I learned from the experience too. The process started off pretty quick but as I moved along, the tasks became more complicated and therefore more time consuming. I did not take this into consideration when I first began. Knocking down the wall also was a drastic change. We got to see how much it changed the space and it was the most dramatic change. The rest was minimal so that also made me feel like things were moving slowly.

How Things Changed…

Once I got into the process of demo, I realized how inexperienced I was and how little I knew about using power tools in a comfortable and proper way. The skill required for this takes time to learn. Once you are comfortable with a power tool the results become next level. I watched youtube videos to help me understand the process of running the plunge saw but yet I still felt uncomfortable. I understood how it worked but it wasn’t until my later cuts that I actually relaxed while cutting. I am not sure if this is unique to me or if this would be the case for everyone. We all learn differently and that is something we need to remember when we are teaching our students. I know that watching the youtube videos helped prepare me for using the powertools and made me more comfortable than I would have been if I hadn’t watched them. I just think the experience of actually using them was when my understanding really clicked. I relate this to students learning math through videos. They may need to watch it a few times in order to understand the lesson. Then once they think they have the understanding they could work on actual questions. Working through the questions would help solidify the learning. This is likely no different than if a teacher was standing up front and teaching. However, for those that need to reference the lecture a few times or watch it a few times to improve their understanding, they can by rewatching the video. With instruction done without a video students are required to absorb everything in one shot. That can be really tough for some students, especially those with special needs.

I also found that my learning from each phase helped prepare me for the next steps. I liked that I was able to focus on one task at a time and then enter the weekend ready to take them on. I found a routine in researching all week and then executing it on the weekends. It helped me focus on one thing at a time and really grasp an understanding for it. It wasn’t overwhelming.

As the process worked its ways into the final stages and the work became more intricate, I found I was relying more on our contractor for his personal experience and expertise. I watched the videos and learned how to use the tools but I had to be very specific about the tasks I researched. It was hard at times to find videos that explained exactly what I was doing. For example, making the thickened edge for my counter. I either did not know what to search to find the videos or they just did not have one that was close enough. So instead, I ended up asking Chris for some guidance. This may have just been because my project was so specific and it was hard to find something I needed. I think of students and how they might struggle with knowing what to search for or just not finding what it is they are looking for. This might be a skill worth teaching our students. How to properly search for information they are after. I was able to find videos explaining stuff close enough to what I was trying to do and then I just transferred that knowledge to suit my needs. This is a skill some students might struggle with and it is something to keep in mind when asking our students to learn through social media.

My Final Thoughts…

This project was so much more than learning how to build my breakfast nook. For me, I learned a lot more about how I need to help my students understand what I am teaching. Using technology is a great tool that can help further our students knowledge but as teachers we need to make sure we are providing opportunities for our students to add to that learning. This includes through experience, discussion with teachers and other students and also just practicing the skill. Understanding that some students may require extra time to re-watch lessons can help with understanding. We have known for a long time that students learn in different ways and I think sometimes we forget that when we implement technology. Some students may learn really well with the help of technology while others may struggle. I know at times I have thought, “Great, I used technology, the kids will be hooked!” but yet for some it becomes another obstacle in their journey. So making sure we still provide differentiation and supports even with the use of technology is important. I loved this project, not just because I gained some confidence when using power tools and I was able to create a functional space for our family, but because it has helped me grow as a teacher. It has given me a new understanding and approach I take when teaching in my classroom and how I can help the students on my caseload, especially since they are all requiring extra support or have special needs. I honestly never thought I would get so much joy out of a school project but this assignment was the best way to finish off my masters degree. Pretty sweet that my whole family gets to enjoy the final product too! Check out my Major Learning Project tab for my journey blog by blog! Thanks for following along, all the support was encouraging!

Early morning breakfast watching cartoons!

I DID IT!!!!!!!

I cannot believe it, I have finally reached the end of this project. This last little step took about a week to complete and then the staining process alone took about three days. I think this may have been my favourite phase because it was rewarding but also something I had never done before. I had little experience with the previous phases as it was similar to stuff I had dabbled in before. It was the finishing and most obvious piece to this puzzle so it was exciting to see it come together. This is how it all rolled out.

Cutting to the Width:

You can see the amount that comes off with the corners cut!

This was actually a time consuming process. We had an idea of how big we wanted the counter to go but until we saw it in the actual space we were not totally sure. We had originally thought the counter would be 24″. However, once we got it into place we felt it was way too big. It hung over too far and it made the coffee counter in the corner seem out of place. So we instantly cut down to 22″. We liked this better and knew we wouldn’t be able to go too much smaller because then we would have a crowded counter and with young kids… the juice would be on the floor 9 times out of 10. The biggest issue was that it was still in the way of my coffee machine. It was awkward and just wasn’t going to work. So we deicded we would cut the corners. We did this and man it was a game changer. I am sure it is still a little crowded there and it will take some getting used to but it was way better. Plus when little ones run into the corner they are less likely to draw blood!:)

I had ordered the brackets ahead of time because I wanted to make sure I had them for when they were needed rather than waiting on them. We measured everything out but after the changes we found they weren’t quite right. See the picture below. I was panicking. Thankfully my husband was able to work his autobody magic and shaved off the tiny amount that was too long. They were going to work after all. Screwing the brackets into the wall wasn’t as simple as just screwing them into the wall. We had one bracket going into a stud so it could just be installed using a wood screw. The other two required extra support since they were only being screwed into drywall. With little ones leaning on the counter I knew I had to make sure the supports held and didn’t tear down my wall. I did a little research and found that a hollow wall anchor screw was my best option. As an added bonus, the top screw in the brackets fit into the top wood pieces that are laying horizontal so they are secure there too. At the end of the day it took a little more work but it all went smoothly. Everything is level and didn’t even need to be shimmed. I was pretty pumped about that.

The Thickened Edge:

Since the boards we used for the counter top are not as thick as we would like, we have decided to create a thickened edge look. This is why we cut all the edges at a 45 degree angle. We will then cut another piece at a 45 degree angle to make the edges appear thicker. This is what our contractor, Chris did for our other counters he built using the same process. Since we want them to match I copied his approach. I asked him to make youtube videos for me but he declined! So I set off to do some research. I found this video to help me use the miter saw and get a nice clean cut. The nice thing about the Mikita saw Chris lent me, was that it has automatic brakes to stop the saw at common angles. This way it is accurate everytime and I didn’t have to look super closely about making sure my angle was exact. I kept trying to get the angle correct and it would never line up. I was getting super frustrated. I called my contractor and was begging for help. He ended up stopping over. Since we cut the corners off the angle I needed to be cutting at was no longer 45 degrees. Instead, I needed to cut them at 22.5 degrees. I never clued into that and my high school math teacher would be so disappointed. After that slight hiccup we were off. My husband and Chris stayed and watched me plug away at this and found humour in my struggles. In the end it ended up being a pretty fun experience and it all turned out pretty good. I had one slight moment where the blade hit a rough patch and pulled the wood I was cutting. Scared me a bit but no fingers were lost. This happened when I had to hold with my right (dominant hand) and cut with my left. It was an easier way to get the cuts I needed but still was a bit awkward. My measurements and cuts were pretty darn good. They all lined up nicely. I used wood glue and a finishing nailer to attach each piece to the counter top as they were cut. Chris stayed to help with this process as the extra hands for my rookie skills were helpful. It was also nice to have the company and guidance. All edges were attached except for the two sides. We will attach those once we know exactly how much space we need for the wall. It will be easier to do once the counter is installed.

Filler and Sanding:

Now that the edges are installed it is time to make the counter top look good. This means making sure the finishing nails are flush with the board and using wood filler to fill all the gaps and pin holes from the finishing nails. The first step was making sure the finishing nails were all the way in. This little tool of Chris’ helped with that. It is called a Spring Nail Set. You basically put the nail head in the one end. Pull back on the other and then release it to gently hammer the nail in. This is done with little movements. It bounces a bit and if you miss the nail it will leave an imprint on the wood. It took some getting used to but it worked well. Learning the little tricks from Chris has been super handy. Next up, we added wood filler into the center crack to fill the slightly unlevel or gap between the two boards from when we attached them. We also filled the seams from adding the thickened edge. This helped to create a nice finish.

Installing the Counter:

With the counter all prepped and ready we can finally install it. This just means placing it onto the brackets that are already installed and shooting a nailer into the wall section for added support. I needed to add more wood filler for those little holes. After I let the filler sit overnight, I got out the sandpaper and sanded the whole counter. This included the edges. Instead of having square sharp edges, I created a slightly rounded edge. Not only is this nice to touch but it is also less likely to chip through wear and tear of life. When installing the counter we had to adjust the one bracket as it wasn’t quite where it needed to be. I loosened the screws and wiggled it up a bit. It was good to go. I also used a nailer to secure the counter on the wall. I filled the holes with wood filler and gave them a quick sand. Now we keep the kids away from using the counter until it is stained and sealed.


This was a fairly quick process. With the board all prepped I was able to tape the edges and put the stain on. I followed the steps provided in this video I found. I wanted to work quickly so that it didn’t stain too dark and lose the nice grain look that it had. The application worked well and I didn’t drip anywhere. I was able to do this process in about 20 minutes. Wiping off was easy but I did find that some of my sanding was not moving with the grain and it left scratch marks. This was super disappointing. I thought I had done this but apparently I did not in a few spots. Also the wood filler took the stain for the most part except a few spots that I felt it was too thick. This made for a finish I was not totally thrilled about. In the end it all worked out though. For now I need to let the stain dry and then I will put on three coats of sealer. Here are some pictures of the blemishes that showed up after staining.

Finished Product:

Overall, I am pretty happy with the way this all turned out. I cannot wait to use it and let the girls enjoy breakfast or whatever else their imaginations come up with at this spot. I know we will be spending a lot of time here. Now that the counter is installed, I am loving the height it is at. I find it is the perfect height to stand by and have a drink and chat. If you have followed along on my journey I want to say thank you! It has been fun! It will get a little darker with the sealer on but here is the final product!

TEDed…Lessons Worth Sharing!

This week I scrolled through a few of the OERs on the class list. I found Merlot to be interesting and full of resources. I know Lynette wrote a great review on it already! I have heard a lot about Khan Academy so I scrolled through its resources but I didn’t totally dive into it. Then I came across TEDed. I enjoy watching the occasional TedTalk so the name caught my interest right off the bat. Once I got into the site and started scrolling around I was hooked. I knew this was the OER I wanted to spend a little more time on. I still feel I need to spend some more time exploring the site to really understand what it is capable of but I will share what I found so far.


Overall, I found the site easy to navigate and appealing to the eye. When I was on Merlot I felt like I was at a Ivy League school and was a little intimidated. Seems odd but that was my initial response. Khan I found was really basic and did not pull me in. TEDed was more my style. Simple, but still catchy. I liked that it asked if I was a student, teacher or parent right off the start. That was it. From there my path would change. I checked out both the student and teacher side of things. First, I explored as a student. I liked that the home page was full of lessons that might catch your attention. It reminded me of Netflix and how it has a bunch of titles/images to choose from. I felt interested in some of the videos on the page and hadn’t even begun searching yet. I channeled my inner student and thought about how some kids might open this up and say “Hey, Look! Babies playing video games!” Then they would click on it and the lesson would begin. As you can see there is a variety of videos that can be found. The next student might get more excited about learning about bugs!

The one thing I did find in my short experience of looking, is that the content is for various ages. This means it might include some topics that aren’t exactly school appropriate. The age of students searching might affect the response to the videos that come up on their homepage. I found that once I created a profile as an educator I was able to change my settings to primary aged students.

Setting up a profile as an educator was fairly simple and was completed easily. I then was trying to figure out how to add students to my profile. This was a little more challenging. I ended up googling it because I could not figure it out. This is what I found:

I guess my understanding is that anyone can comment on your lessons not just those in your own personal classroom. This didn’t appeal to me as much. I wanted to be able to track the students in my classroom and the lessons they were looking at. Maybe I am misunderstanding this. Once I get the chance to try this with a few of my own students I may realize this isn’t as it seems. I am hoping that once the students I work with are done swimming lessons in another week, I will be able to give this a go.

How I Would Use it:

As Curtis mentioned, these lessons might only be a hook or part of a lesson. It might not be the whole lesson. It does give you a starting point and with the videos being so engaging, hopefully it can generate some really great discussions. As a student support teacher I find my approach to using this may be a bit different than if I were a classroom teacher. Direct instruction on a topic might be one way to approach this. So look for a video on landforms or a specific topic in history could be one way to do this. With guided reading or reading intervention books you may ask students to find a video on a topic that matches the book we are reading. They could focus on compare and contrast or maybe make connections to self, text and world using the videos. Another option might be to use it as a writing prompt for journals, blog posts or other writing activities you might use. In my browsing I found that a lot of videos would fall under social or science outcomes. I love that the multiple choice questions are provided and so are discussion questions.

The dig deeper portion also provides more resources to expand on their thinking and help driving higher level questioning and discussion. I think the more routine these become in the classroom the students might end up guiding the direction that the discussion goes. You might end up taking the lesson in a completely different direction that intended.

Overall Grade:

I am excited about finding this tool to use in my classroom. I do have some questions that I need to clarify with some more exploration of the tool. I think the way I utilize this in my classroom will determine how well the learning is achieved. It isn’t as simple as just giving them something to do on their own. There still needs to be some two-way communication happening. I do think there is a lot of potential here and monitoring what students are watching would be interesting. I loved how Leigh took this for a test drive and used it with her own class. I didn’t have the opportunity to do that but I plan to use this moving forward. In fact, I have already shared this resource with some of my staff members. I enjoyed this little exploration of TEDed and I hope to find ways to use it in my own classroom very soon. I see the potential here and I hope it can be something I use regularly.

Working on the Last Part!

I am so excited to begin building the countertop. Not just for the purpose of having a counter top and a functioning spot but also because I am pumped to learn how to do it. This is all very new to me and I get to try out some new tools I have not experienced before. Plus this will be my second last post before I share my final product! YAY! The thing with our countertop is that I am copying other counters we had made for our bootbench and laundry room area. Due to this I relied on my contractor a lot to help me with how he did it to try and match the same look. I was still able to learn through youtube but it required some next step guidance from Chris. I will try and keep it short.

First Step:

I had to buy the same wood from Rona. I tried to pick the best ones with smooth edges and lots of knots for a interesting look when things were all complete. Once we got the two pieces we got to start cutting them down to size. This is where I got to research how to use a Plunge Saw. The nice thing was I found a video for the exact saw I would be using:

I required my contractor, Chris, help with the set up. Since I am using his tools I felt it was only fair to make sure I didn’t wreck them. I helped him through the process and he was a great teacher. He reviewed how to use the saw and sent me on my way. The first cut was to make the two straight edges in the middle of the boards. This would be where we connect the two boards together to make the full width of the counter. The reason we are doing this is because then it matches the other areas of the house and it was cost effective, especially with lumber prices these days and would do the trick for what we needed. Cutting these two straight edges was pretty simple. Measure both sides to make sure we are straight. Confirm with a level and cut.

Angled Edge:

Once I was done making the two straight edges. We moved on to cutting the edges. We cut them at 45 degree angles. The pieces we cut off will then be used as the last piece of the puzzle. They will go on to make a 90 degree edge. By doing this the counter will appear thicker than it actually is. We had to adjust the angle of the saw but it still attaches to the track in the same way. It was a little awkward to hold at first because I am not comfortable with the saw but I got the hang of it and gained confidence as we moved forward.

Biscuit Cut:

The next step was to create the biscuit cuts to join the two sections together. I felt a little nervous about this task because I knew I needed to have the cuts line up correctly for the seam between the boards to not show. I wanted to make sure I did my research and came in prepared. The video I found on youtube seemed to clarify the process for me. Check it out here. For this I borrowed a special tool from Chris. It is specifically used to create this style of cut. It was fairly simple to use. I measure out the distant I need and made the ticks on the board. Then I lined up the tool and cut.

Gluing and Clamping:

The next step was to add some glue to each biscuit and shove them in the nice new holes I made. All of them fit in perfectly. I was pretty pumped. I then ran a bead of glue along the other board and squished the two together. I got Chris and my husband to help hold them in place as we add some clamps to hold everything in place while the glue dried. We left them overnight to dry. The next day I took the clamps off and cut the board down to the length we needed. This was a little nerve racking as I wanted to make sure I was not off on my measurements and cut it too short. Once the cut was done we took it inside to see how it looked. It was a pretty darn good fit. A slight gap since the walls weren’t perfectly flat but overall I am happy with the fit.

Next Steps:

The final steps are coming up. We need to cut the width to the width we want, put the supporting brackets under the counter, add the edges all around to make the counter appear thicker than it is and then stain it all and apply a finishing sealer coat. Seems like a lot but a lot of the prep work is already done. Our base is fairly level so we won’t need to shim the counter much at all so that is exciting. I really cannot wait to see this all come together in the next week! Thanks again for following along!

Testing it out with a plate to help give us an idea for size. Only issue is how it cuts off our coffee corner!

Mudding, Sanding, Repeat x 3

This was a week long next step and I was absolutely dreading this part. I knew it would get messy and it would require some skill. I was also dreading it because I knew my husband would struggle watching me attempt this because this is something that comes easily to him. He is an autobody mechanic so he uses a similar product called filler on cars to help repair them after a crash. This experience was helpful as he eventually helped me by providing me with tips once I admitted defeat. After numerous attempts at trying to make a smooth surface he showed me a different approach and it proved to be beneficial to have him near. He also did the top beam because I was getting tired of doing it and was getting frustrated. Since we had the supplies out he just hammered that section out for me. I also found it helpful to observe and learn in person versus watching a youtube video 10 times in order to try and perfect my technique.

My Research and Plan

Coming into this week I was watching quite a few videos on the best approach to mudding and sanding drywall mud. I found that there were a tonne of videos out there and some were better than others. I came across the Vancouver Carpenter and really enjoyed his videos. He talked slowly, provided good examples, explained why it may not be working and seemed to have a good understanding of the job. I still found myself rewatching the videos but that was just because I felt there was a lot to think about. I also enjoyed that I was able to find a few different videos that worked specifically for what I was working on. I did not have to keep scrolling to the spot I was on. I was able to focus on one skill at a time then go and watch the video to refresh my memory before starting the next step. In our case, the area we have to mud isn’t that big. I needed to apply a corner bead for all the edges, feather out the edges for less sanding, coat the drywall screw holes and sand the drywall. After some research I felt I was ready to tackle this on the weekend!

Installing the Corner Bead

I hit up our local hardware store and grabbed the paperface corner bead. I miss calculated the length I would need and had to go back and grab one more! They only cost about $6.00 each so that was nice. They make the corners look so much better and honestly they were pretty easy to install. I basically followed the steps provided in the youtube video by Vancouver Carpenter.

At first I found I wasn’t putting enough mud also known as compound on. Once I added a bit more the corner fit a whole lot better and allowed me to adjust it accordingly. I enjoyed this process and kept the mess to a minimal I swear! The stuff I dropped I was able to wipe up pretty quickly!

I found it interesting that he talks about the job being more difficult well when you leave the mud on the wall for longer than a professional might. I made a comment to my husband that I found the drywall was drying too quickly. After watching him do the work in real time I realized how much quicker my husband was working and remembered that I likely was letting the mud dry a little bit because I was being pokey. I guess in a way working slow and careful was actually working against me in this situation!

Sanding Equals Drywall Dust Everywhere!

And now the final stage before I head into painting… at least I was hoping so. I went ahead and sanded to see if it would be ok without doing a third coat. Since it was a small area it seemed to turn out. Sanding was an absolute disaster. If you are familiar with drywall dust then chances are high that you know how it can get everywhere. It was in my kitchen and living room, dining room, other living room and likely my office too. I swear some found its way to my car. The process went pretty smoothly as we had the right sanders for the job and it was a small area. My husband was smart and suggested I tape over the heat registers and lay some poly down over the carpet. This helped but it still got everywhere! The clean up took much longer than the actual process did. However, my daughter loved helping out with the mopping!

After a busy week it is nice to have this stage over! Now I get to paint which is something I have done a million times! The next update will be one of the last! All we have left is the counter top and it is an important one. I have some research to do this week on building my counter top and then getting some help from our contractor friend. I am all about learning this process but when it comes to the bigger and more fancy power tools I think a beginner like me should have some supervision from a pro! Looking forward to sharing the next phase! If you made it this far…thanks for following along!

Open Education and the Culture of Sharing…

The timing of this topic couldn’t have come at a better time. I am a month back into being in the classroom and it has been a blur. The start of the school year is always interesting but coming back a month late and basically starting fresh has been challenging. I felt like I was finally settling in and then I had a conversation with a colleague about how I wasn’t happy with how a few of my groups were running. She then proceeded to tell me about a resource fill she would share with me on our google drives. It has a million different resources that she has accumulated over the years and now other teachers have added to. There is a lot of resources to go through but I am already pumped and amazed at what I am seeing.

After last weeks class it got me thinking about how I am so fortunate that her response was open to sharing the resources she had. Like Bret also mentioned in his post by discussing the importance of “not reinventing the wheel – working smarter, not harder.”  This teacher could have patted me on the back and sent me on my way. Instead, she helped me out and said hey try this. In return, I showed her some of the resources I had that might be helpful to her and also add to similar ones we had. We brainstormed ideas and at the end of the day, I became excited about the direction my groups were heading but also some very important people benefited from this open sharing! THE STUDENTS! Lynette wrote in her blog “many educators still feel the need to control, hoard, profit, compete, whatever you want to call it.  Why do educators still do these things?” I totally agree with this. It feels like sometimes we compete for who has the best ideas and who thought of what. We compete over test scores and who has the nicest classroom. Instead, as educators, we need to discuss who we as a whole can make everyone better. Through the sharing of OER’s we can all use the same resources and common languages. Our students would move through the school and not have to start fresh each year. Obviously this would depend on what types of resources we are talking about because some resources aren’t as easily shared among staff. If schools focused on using OER’s they could share more resources and not have to worry about copyright issues. Think of the money we could save too if we did not have to buy multiple licences or resources that have similar purposes.

Show Me The Money GIF

As we were talking last week in class I was thinking about the legal aspects of open education and OER’s. Knowing what to share and what is not allowed takes some understanding. As discussed in class, most resources bought on Teachers Pay Teachers are for single use only. Sharing them among staff is not allowed but yet it still happens. I found it interest in the TedTalk video by Lawrence Lessig that he clarifies when a student remakes a video using music from one source and animations from another, it isn’t piracy. This is because they are “taking and recreating, using other people’s content, and using digital technologies to say things differently”. It also emphasis this is how our children understand and think now. This made me think of Tik Tok and how there are videos after video that use audio from other peoples work. People recreate their own version of the audio. But through this experience, in some cases, they are learning through the recreation. This brings us back to previous classes where we have talked about how social media can be used in a positive way within our classrooms.

I really do believe that open sharing of OER’s is an opportunity to build success but getting everyone on board and finding resources that allow for this to happen could be challenging. So often as teachers we become stuck in our ways and continue doing what we know “works”. I know of teachers that are still using worksheets that they used at the beginning of their career. Instead of adapting to the way students think in their class, or the skills they need to focus on, the teacher continues to use what has worked in the past! (Even though it isn’t working now!) So with this in mind I question if we could get everyone on board to open sharing? Will people hoard all the good resources for their own personal use so younger students haven’t seen them before they get to their own classroom? Will people be reluctant to share in fear of having bad ideas? All I know is, thanks to a colleague, I have now revamped the way I am teaching most of my groups that I pull by simply taking a conversation and some resources and adapting them to make them my own!

Slow and Steady…

This weekend my goal was to get a lot accomplished on my project. I found that I was very nervous to start this step and knew that it would take some time to do it properly. It wasn’t something I could rush. It seemed like the task was simple yet it took hours. I think the part that took so long was measuring multiple times to make sure I had things correct. Once I knew the board fit into the space I was working in then I was able to put it in. Screwing a screw into place isn’t new to me. I have done this numerous times. Have I done it well? Probably not but it works. This time though, I needed to drill the screws in using an angle screw. I could have gone out and bought the kits you can use but instead I challenged myself to learn following a technique I found on YouTube.

The kit I could have used if I wanted to buy it!
The video I found on Youtube to guide me through drilling angle screws.
Me attempting the angle screw…getting better each time!

The time it took to make sure everything was level was very time consuming and a bit frustrating. As I drilled and fought with the drill a bit the boards would get sucked out of position. I used a screw in the middle of the board to help hold it in place. I would get my husband to hold onto that screw while I drilled the screws into place. With each board I was getting better and gained more control. I know this will come with practice but man was it a pain. In the end we were happy with the results and knew the dry wall would hide some of the mistakes. The bottom wall was one we really need to do well. For the most part it turned out ok except it was maybe high on the west side. We were sure to level it running north south or lengthwise. I am not sure if we took enough consideration to each board being level width wise. Here is the end product.

Day 2

Sunday morning I tackled drywalling the space. I anticipated this wouldn’t take too long. I was wrong. I think I measured things out four or five times to make sure it was good. My first cut fit really well. The two side pieces needed a little extra shaving after I was done. In the end I was happy with the cut. In order to cut my drywall I found a youtube video guiding me through the process. It is fairly simple but I also had to make sure I was cutting straight lines. I know my drywall corners would fix any uneven edges but I still wanted to do a good job. I used a piece of versatek siding that we had on hand to keep a straight line. I ran the utility knife along the edge a few times. Then I bent the drywall and ran the knife along the edge to get the final cut. I moved slowly but my cuts turned out pretty nice. That was the end of the work for the weekend as it was time to go trick-or-treating!

Things I learned:

  1. The more experience I get, the more comfortable I become with power tools. This comfort makes a world of difference. I found as I made my threw each board I became more and more comfortable with the power tools and therefore the product was cleaner. The signs of a good contractor are those that can finish well. We walked into houses when we were looking and so often the finishing was so sloppy we lost interest in the house. If that is what the workmanship looks like where we can see it..what does it look like behind the walls? This is something I thought of often during this project and therefore was feeling the pressure. This needs to look clean!
  2. This leads to the little tricks and tips that come from being in the trade. Most of the videos I have found don’t go into the details around use of the tools or in specific situations what you can do. I had my husband helping me and he has a great deal of experience using power tools so he shot me a few tips to help me in the moment. This is something you do not get from social media learning experiences. The instant feedback specific to you.
  3. Having a second hand to help hold things proved to be very valuable. This was most evident when I was trying to drill the screws into the top wall. The boards tended to shift as they bit into the studs so they would move and we would lose the level edge.
  4. Using the vacuum when cutting the drywall was very important. That dust gets everywhere and we forgot. It was a disaster. Plus it clogs your vacuum so using your household one is not a good idea.

Overall, it was a good weekend. It seems like little was accomplished but what we did do was time consuming. Next up, researching mudding and taping. Then sanding and mudding and sanding and mudding. I might look for our countertop this week too in order to get that process started.

I Am Committed Now!

Smashing the drywall on Thanksgiving weekend was still a commitment to this project but I felt like once those studs came down there was no turning back. I was way more nervous and hesitant during this process than I anticipated. I watched the youtube video I previously shared numerous times. I wanted to make sure what I was doing was right. I found I google searched multiple times to confirm my process. Before I finally made the cuts I reached out to our contractor to make sure that I was doing the right thing. To confirm that I wasn’t cutting down studs that were carrying the load of all the weight of our upstairs. Finally I took the plunge and I am loving the open view.

Our new view to the living room
The view to the kitchen!

We had my daughters first birthday on the weekend and we were forced to bring it inside due to poor weather. This meant we had 9 kids that were three and under running around our house. PURE CHAOS sums it up. As I prepped lunch in the kitchen I found I was so thankful for this massive hole in my wall. I was included in the living room fun, I was able to stay connected to our guests and it just opened it more than I thought. This was the first test and we still have a long way to go. I found people still sat at the stools even though the counter was not there. This made me excited to get going on this project. Time to put my research into action.

Next Up…

My plan now is to cut and fit the studs into the gaps along the edges of my hole to brace and support the structure. The video also talks about how this is used to fasten the trim for the final steps. Without the wood there, I will not have anything to nail the drywall to. The video went a different route than I am for completing the next steps of the project but it has been super helpful up until this point. I am super nervous about this step as it will be tedious and be one that I need to make sure is done well. This is especially important on the bottom section because I will need to make sure it is level for the purpose of adding my countertop. I think I will cut the drywall back to the stud that is on the south side. The rest I need to cut the supports and then screw in using an angle screw approach. I could cut the studs down further and put in a full length board but then I would be fixing drywall larger than need be. I guess we will see how this goes and if it is unsuccessful then I will cut down more of the wall. Here is how I plan on drilling my screws at an angle.


One thing I keep thinking as I tackle this project is that we need to up our tool game in this house. We have the beginner tool set like drills, screw drivers, wrenches and a few others but the fancier tools we haven’t added to our tool kit. I know I want a multitool for our own use but a saw and some others could come in handy. Then I came across this reel on instagram and thought I would share with you all. I think Santa might be seeing a few of these on my list!

Social Media Activism

Throughout my masters journey, the ED Tech courses I have taken with Alec have changed my views on social media. I found I came into my courses with a negative view and felt that social media was causing more harm than good. Now, I have started to see the good that can come from social media through building connections in various communities and much more. One area I still find I struggle with is around Social Media Activism. In some cases it can be a pro-active cause. It can bring good and positivity and awareness to a large group of people. The thing that I struggle with is the amount of negativity and courage it can give to keyboard warriors. So often we see hate spread on social media because people will say things they would never say to someone’s face.

I have noticed that since I have started following people on twitter that I woujld usually never follow that my feed is filled with people using their accounts as a political platform to shout their thoughts and opinons from the rooftops. They are likely to have followers with the same mentality and all of a sudden they gain the traction and attention they seek. This is especially apparent during this pandemic and during the election. People are able to attack others and say whatever they want without facts or reasoning. This isn’t a super big deal but when people tend to believe whatever they see on social media without researching the truth behind it, they can sure influence a large group of people. In the article I found that focused on Public Attitudes toward political engagement on social media it talks about how “Social networking sites have also emerged as a key venue for political debate and discussion and at times a place to engage in civic-related activities”. This was made evident in the #MeToo” movement and #BlackLivesMatter. The study that this article focuses on is based out of the States but I am sure there are many similiarities here in Canada. As Canadians, we are strongly influenced by the Americans so this data is still relevant to us.

Roughly four-in-ten social media users say these sites are important for finding like-minded users

Even though the article shares that Americans found social media to be a positive place for underrepresented groups to gain traction, it also states that it can also distract us from more pressing issues. In a way it reminded me of the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The more traction they get the pressure is put on the government to take action. The second article I read, Introduction to Social Media, Activism, and Organizations, it talks about how we learn from previous social media movements and with each new protest we build a stronger platform. This got me thinking that as we enter elections and more social justice movements, that the influence will focus more on social media platforms than other media fronts. This will target younger generations and may work in the favour of some parties over others. It will be interesting to see how things unfold in years to come.

Where I Stand

I am not one to get involved in social media. As previously mentioned, I find there is a lot on social media now between the election, pressure on the government due to the pandemic and people sharing their views on the pandemic in general. It allows for arguments to take place. Sometimes they are respectful and educational but often it turns ugly and takes a different direction. This is where I struggle. I do not enjoy conflict and this is not something I engage in online. As teachers, we often talk about where we should get involved and where we need to watch what we say. In EC&I 830, our final debate argued that educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. Check out my blog post on this topic here. It feels like there is a lot of outside pressure to have a voice and speak up for those that can’t. However, this can often be silenced by those that are higher up in our divisions. So do we risk our job and say something on social media? It often feels like we are held to a higher standard as teachers. Is this right? Katia’s post about silence speaking louder than words discusses the debate and I question… is social media the place for us to speak up? Or can we find ways to guide a meaningful discussion without risking our livelihood?