Spread seeds of happiness and buy chalk!

During my summer vacation this year I had the pleasure of visiting Kelowna, BC and spending a morning with one of my mentors, Susan Crichton.   Dr. Crichton was previously faculty at the University of Calgary and a member of my doctoral committee.  She is now director of innovative learning and an associate professor in the faculty of education at the UBC Okanagan Campus.


Susan gave my son and I and tour of the beautiful campus and open work spaces. I didn’t think visiting a post secondary campus would be exciting for a 13-year old but he seemed particularly interested in viewing the fitness facilities, high tech medical classrooms and the education maker spaces.  Susan also shared her work in organizing Maker Days, “a facilitated event that requires participants to thoughtfully and fully engage in design thinking and creative problem finding and experience hands-on activities.” Read more about Maker Days ….http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.itabc.cahttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadseventshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsmaker-day

She also shared the  “Maker Day Toolkit” that she created along with PhD candidate, Deb Carter. The toolkit is available as an EPublication and PDF at http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.itabc.cahttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadssiteshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsdefaulthttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsfileshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsdocshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsdiscoverhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsFinal%20MakerDayToolKit.pdf

This is a great resource for educators interested more details about maker days (great links and docs that can be tailored for your own use).

The best part of our visit was when we were sitting in one of the collaboration spaces and were discussing the value of having open spaces for writinghttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadscollaborating with others.  On campus, it was evident markers are used to write on the glass walls and whiteboards that surround the classrooms and learning spaces. There is no lack of spaces for collaborative writing and sharing. I shared how one teacher I know buys large pieces of plexiglass for her students to write freely and share ideas.  It was at that moment that Susan contemplated using chalk on concrete walls.  She literally jumped out of her seat to go and retrieve a box of white chalk.  Within minutes, she had everyone adorning the concrete walls in chalk zentangles.  We were part of a true moment of serendipity. I can’t wait to visit the campus again and see how the chalk zentangles spread!


IMG_0972       IMG_0971

Krahula, B. (2012). One zentangle a day: A 6-week course in creative drawing for relaxation, inspiration, and fun. Beverly, MA: Quarry Books.

As a token of appreciation, I gave Susan a small strawberry ornament from the Krause Berry Farm http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.krauseberryfarms.comhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploads in Aldergrove (another stop in my travels this summer) to remind her how important she is in spreading seeds of happiness.  When I saw the strawberry seeds of happiness ornament it immediately reminded me of Susan and her positive impact on others in cultivating learning!



Reflecting on year after defense…

Some might wonder, what happens after graduate students complete the oral defense.  I will share my experience over the past school year (2013-14) following my oral defense examination.  Three stages can be used to describe the year: (1) finalizing the dissertation in preparation for graduation, (2) sharing the work, and (3) exploring research interests.   During the oral defense, the examiners provided some valuable feedback about the dissertation and areas for improvement.   Prior to submitting the final version of the dissertation in digital format for sharing publicly it was necessary to make minor edits.  Once all changes were complete, the final version of the dissertation was submitted to fulfil graduation requirements.  There are also some administrative tasks required to apply for graduation especially if attending the convocation.  In my case, the convocation took place over two months after completing the oral defense.   Second, it is important to share the study beyond the dissertation.  I submitted a paper for presentation to http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.csse-scee.cahttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsconferencehttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploads The Canadian Society for the Study of Education Conference held in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in St. Catherines.  The paper was accepted and I attended and presented the work at the conference at Brock University in May 2014.  Currently, I am preparing for another presentation in August 2014 and drafting a manuscript for publication about the research.   Last, the year has been filled with numerous teaching and collaborative learning opportunities, such as: continuing to teach online graduate courses in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, conducting research and PD with the Galileo Educational Network, co-writing a literature review about technology in higher education for the Provost’s Learning Technology Task Force, and working with a team to develop a STEM course for pre-service teachers.   I also had the opportunity to co-present conference sessions throughout the year including the following sessions: