A Scurry of Squirrels

Squirrel with relax

It’s time for Learning Squirrel v2.0!

Bigger!  Badder!  And now with more nuts!

Learning Squirrel started out its life here on WordPress.com.  You can still find the first few posts that were the start of the scurry right here.

I was given the opportunity (aka. nudged by Terry Greene, our guru and guide to the Extend experience…  thanks Terry!)  to set up a Reclaim hosting site through Ontario Extend while participating in the Extend East cohort.

Learning Squirrel will be relocating to its new digs over the next week or so.  For now, you may still see a few posts here.

Learning Squirrel landing page http://www.learningsquirrel.ca (under construction)

Learning Squirrel blog http://blog.learningsquirrel.ca

Learning Squirrel videos http://videos.learningsquirrel.ca

And more to come….

Moving to my own domain opens up a whole host of opportunities and will allow me to explore and to participate in Extend to the fullest.   I’m really excited about this opportunity and hope you’ll enjoy the new digs.

Watch for changes and updates as I add new features and explore this larger space to work!

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Organizing Knowledge w/ Cornell

Woman surrounded with paper KZ4LB


In the Organizing Knowledge section of Ontario Extend‘s Teacher for Learning Module, we’re invited to try using Cornell Notes as an alternate way to take notes.  I’d never used this method, so I decided to give it a whirl.

These days, it seems easiest to just start out with a YouTube video, so I took advantage of this freely available resource to find out the basics of the Cornell System.  After watching Jennifer Desrocher’s How to take Cornell Notes, I felt like I was armed with the knowledge I needed to try it out.

Now I just needed a topic.  The Activity Bank entry suggested perhaps taking notes on a conference keynote or a video.   Great idea!  Back to YouTube.   I’d been intrigued by the Tweets being exchanged in regards to Open Educational Resources and the OER Commons so I looked for a video that would fit with that theme.  I came across a TED Talk: Knowledge Belongs to Everyone: David Ernst at TEDxKyoto 2012 and thought it gave a great (now historical) perspective on Open Textbooks.

My thoughts on using Cornell Notes:

  • The essential question and summary made me put my arms around the topic as a whole.
  • I like that it encouraged spacing out of the material, rather than dense blocks of notes I often take.
  • The format allowed use of colours and graphics which are very appealing to me. (I’m a big fan of mind maps for certain types of notes).
  • The left-hand column would be a big plus during studying.  You could scan down the column and quickly identify areas you were confident with and those where you needed to go and read the notes on the right.
  • It worked great for a short video.  Not sure how it would be for longer materials.  That said, I tend to get caught up in the creative part which slows me down.

Cornell Notes

Cornell Notes – Extend Activity

Template for Cornell Notes from Template Lab.  http://templatelab.com/cornell-notes/

“Woman surrounded with paper KZ4LB” flickr photo by Kathleen Zarubin   https://www.flickr.com/photos/64204416@N02/5847087749 shared under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license.

Syllabus Concept Map – HLTH 326

I’m working on the Teacher for Learning Activities at Ontario Extend and have just encountered the Syllabus Concept Map activity.  Inspired by Greg Rodrigo’s map (found at Rocket Fuelled Squirrels on an Adventure), I decided to give it a try using HLTH 326 – Information Systems and Technology, a course I developed for Fleming College.  The course covers both IT and IS, but is also a repository for a variety of other topics which didn’t fit anywhere else in the Health Information Management Program.   This means that topics such as Workflow Analysis are found in the syllabus.   As you’ll see from the concept map, this course covers a lot of ground.

I often advocate the use of mind maps and similar approaches to my students as a way to make notes and encourage recall.  For the Extend Activity, I decided not to use Mind Map Pro which I have at home and try out a tool that may be of use to my students.  I tried out Bubbl.us which is a free (up to 3) web-based mind-mapping tool.  It was very easy to use and I’ll be adding that to my list of tool recommendations for my students.



The results of creating the concept map only confirm my thoughts.  That there is way too much to cover in this course.  I’d previously identified that some of the topics that could be shifted to other parts of the HIM program and work on that was initiated.  The concept map makes me realize I need to look at it again and see where else balancing can be done.



Working through the Extend Teacher for Learning Module, the activity Misunderstood resonated with me.  It seems that there are one or two concepts which persist as issues year after year.  Even when explained once, they are often immediately confused.  One of the concepts my students tend to have a lot of trouble with is Goals vs. Objectives.   I can explain it one week and the next, there is confusion again.

After a few years of showing a slide with text that explained the difference and having no success in having it stick in student memories, I went to a new graphical format.

Ahhhh!  That seemed to do the trick!  Make it visual, make it a story.  Then students will remember.

My new approach shows Frodo setting off to drop the One Ring into Mount Doom.  The mount has a goal post and shows the ring dropping in – reaching a goal.  The goal is something that is further off and defines the direction that they must go in.   The objectives are a series of measurable steps that must be taken to achieve the goal.  So in my new description, Frodo and Sam have to complete a number of objectives before they can get to the goal.  These objectives show tangible things they need to obtain or do.  Obtain food for the trip, sharpen Sting, walk the first leg of the journey to Rivendell.  These objectives need to be accomplished before they can get to the goal

Extend Activity - Misunderstood

My learning from this is that when students seem to be stumbling with learning a concept or coming back repeatedly to ask for clarification, it means that the story needs to change.  Misunderstood concepts need to have a new perspective that’s relatable in order to achieve that “Oh!  I get it now!” moment.

I’m an Extender!

ExtendEastToday I joined the ranks of previous Extenders to take part in the latest cohort of Ontario Extend.  As part of Extend East, I’ll have the opportunity to explore new practices in online and technology-based learning.   This fits right in with the work I’m doing developing and leading online courses.   It will enable me to expand my teaching practices, try new things, and become part of a growing community of educators who are exploring the intersection of education and technology.

Meeting this fantastic group of people as we prepared for and participated in the kick-off activities today has given me a boost of enthusiasm.  There are so many creative minds out there.  I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone!

I’ll be documenting my activities here as I progress through the modules, take part in the daily Extend and the Activity bank.