Photo instructions to build a Lego X-Wing Fighter from Brickmaster book’s pieces

Lego X-Wing Fighter

I like the Brickmaster Lego books that DK produces. You can sometimes get them for $15-20 Canadian (Winners, for example), and they have about 150 pieces that work nicely for a variety of models. That’s how the books work: you get instructions for building about four pairs of models (eight total) with the same 150 bricks.

I wanted to build a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter from the pieces in one of these books (ISBN 978-0756663117). I realize that it would be better with some other bricks, probably with other bricks that I already have, but I like the challenge of producing an alternative model from a single set. Here is a sequence of photos clumped together showing how the one I made is put together.

(If you’re interested, I took these photos with my iPad while I disassembled the model.)

X-Wing Build Photos


Upcoming #OTRK12 Session Highlights – Part 1

If you haven’t already heard, On The Rise K-12: Enhancing Digital Learning is a great meeting of educators from across Ontario on April 1 and 2, 2014. Representatives will be attending from every school board in the province: from Windsor to Moosonee, from Ottawa to Kenora. You can read all the details at If you want to attend, you can register there (the cost is $100 per person per day).

There is too much awesomeness

I’m going to point out some of the fantastic sessions we have scheduled (there are 80!). This is partly to encourage you to join us, partly to build your excitement, and partly to send kudos to the presenters/facilitators. I know many of the presenters, but not all of them, and I haven’t seen most of the presentations. I’m not being exclusive here; I’m just picking a few from each day of the conference. There are 9 other great choices for every session slot, so you’ll have to go the website for the full list. I’ve tried to steer away from “eLC/DeLC-only” sessions in the highlights below, since most eLCs and DeLCs are already registered (thanks everyone!).

Note: If you have already registered and wish to change your session choices, just send me an email with the new session code(s).


Session Block 1

D1S03: Bitstrips for Schools – Online Comic Creation

In this session you will learn how to use Bitstrips to create full-colour, professional comics. You will be guided through how to sign up for an account, build your avatar, create a classroom, add students, and design and assess completed work. This session is suitable for all grades and subject areas and BYOD is a must! Bitstrips for Schools is provided free of charge to all Ontario teachers by the Ministry of Education.
Intended Audience: All Teachers
Experience Level: Beginner
Presenter(s): Jennifer Ayres

Session Block 4

D1S35: How to Start Out With Blended Learning in The Primary Grades

This session is designed to help support our K-3 Primary Teachers as they move to extend the walls of their classrooms.  Come find out how the provincial Virtual Learning Environment can provide a safe and engaging space for you and your students.  Use these online tools to easily connect and communicate with parents.  Give your students a chance to explore rich multimedia.  Create interactive lessons for your class and your colleagues.  In addition to a quick tour, this session will give you opportunities to learn how others are using the LMS to engage their primary students in the classroom through blending learning.
Intended Audience: Elementary Teachers
Experience Level: Beginner
Presenter(s): Shelley Lowry


Session Block 1

D2S06: Customize the Look and Feel of Your Course

A great looking theme improves the vLE experience for everyone. Want to improve the look of your course but need some help? This hands-on workshop will demonstrate the basics of editing a course theme and provide time to work on your own theme with experts in the room to help you. Theme resources, ideas, and free images will be provided.
Intended Audience: All Teachers, eLCs/DeLCs
Experience Level: Intermediate
Presenter(s): Tim Robinson & Peter Anello

Session Block 3

D2S22: Say What? – “Oral Proficiency”

Oral communication is an overall expectation in many subject areas, but it is often the one area that is the most difficult to assess and evaluate. Why? From my own personal experience, it is difficult to speak with 28-30 students in an authentic assessment/evaluation situation. In this presentation, you will have the opportunity to try several useful tools/programs to see how Blended Learning can transform the way you assess and evaluate Oral Communication in your courses. Please be sure to bring headsets/microphones. This presentation will be interactive.
Intended Audience: All Teachers
Experience Level: Any Level
Presenter(s): Gillian Walker

Why I’m leaving the Board Office and going back to the classroom

Yup, it’s true: in September 2014 I’ll be teaching in a high school and I won’t be the e-Learning Contact for the Algoma District School Board. That means I’ll also be giving up the positions of Regional Chair for the Sudbury-North Bay Region, Secretary for the Northern e-Learning Consortium, and of course Chair for On The Rise.

This isn’t precisely news; I “made the announcement” in June of 2013, but a lot of folks are just hearing about it now. With On The Rise approaching I’m having a lot of conversations with eLCs and other edtech folks from around the province, so it’s come up a few times in conversation. I wanted to clear some things up and explain myself for everyone.

They’re not forcing me back

Just wanted to get that out of the way. No one is making me leave the eLC position, although that’s a popular misconception. I applied for and was offered a position as the Subject Area Head (department head) for Math at Superior Heights C. & V. S. in Sault Ste. Marie. That process happened in June, and the principal and I agreed to wait a year while I tried to transition out of the eLC role. We’re eight months into that year now.

I like being the e-Learning Contact

This is work I’m good at, and it’s work I enjoy. I have contact with every school in the system and lots of great people from around the province. The eLCs are wicked-awesome and it’s a pleasure to collaborate. I like planning conferences with them. I like getting free PD. I like having time to explore new ideas and talk to people with other perspectives and from different contexts.

But I’ve been doing this a long time

This is my sixth year in a central role, and my fifth year as the eLC (I spent a year in Numeracy support first). I last taught daily in a classroom in 2008. Think about how long ago that was. Really. Take a minute.

Wow, eh?

It’s a good idea to get back to the routine and rewards and challenges of daily classroom teaching. I don’t want to lose touch with what it’s like to struggle with content, with WiFi, with supervision, with all of the dozens and hundreds of things that teachers live with, deal with, and overcome each day.

I once had a teacher tell me I’d been out of the classroom too long and that I couldn’t understand what it was like to be a “real” teacher anymore. That was almost two years ago, and I want to ensure that she doesn’t become right about that.

And I have other things I want to do

I’m going to teach math. I like to teach math. I’m excited to try Blended Learning and e-Learning and using my YouTube channel and graphing software and graph paper (I miss graph paper) and….

I want to work with the math department at SHCVS. They’re good people and I’m looking forward to digging into our instruction together to make things even better for students and for each other. I want to spend time every day in the same place to help people. I want to go deep into instruction, not just wide.

And I also miss being part of a larger staff. Working on Program Team is fairly isolating in a lot of ways. I spend a lot of time in my office at my computer. That’s not the way it’s “supposed” to be, but that’s the way it is. I talk with most of the people who work in our building, but we’re not having after-work social gatherings as a rule.

Plus there’s a lot of travel as an eLC

I have a family. They don’t get to see me when I’m out of town, and although I have travelled less this year I’ll still be out of town over 20 days this year. I realize that’s not “bad” compared with some of the jobs out there, but it’s a lot more than what I’ll have as a classroom teacher.

I’m also tired of travelling. I’m tired of driving and flying during the evenings and on weekends. I leave on Sunday. I get back at 1:00am on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I have to eat out for three days. I work in the airport lounge. I have to get rental cars. We have to have two vehicles because I’m going East and my wife and kids are going West. I have to pay for stuff out of pocket and get reimbursed later. Six years of that is a little exhausting.

Also, someone else should do this for a while

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who can do this job. Then I look around and see that there are over sixty other people in the province who do the same job every day, often with fewer resources, more resistance, and less time. Perhaps I am the only person in our board with my skill set and experience. But I developed this over the course of years, and someone else can do the same (or better!).

Also, I probably have biases and baggage that prevent me from making progress in certain parts of the work. Maybe I’m not pursuing a project or strategy, or maybe I don’t know about a teacher whose work should be shared. Maybe I am stubborn about something that I really shouldn’t worry about. The problem with these gaps is that I can’t see them all, and only bringing someone else in to do the work can make them clear.

But who’s going to…?

The work will get done, or not, as the case may be. Frankly, it’s not all getting done now. I am a terrible bottleneck at our board. My to do list is mercifully digital, because if I was to record it on paper I might need a logging permit first.

Sometimes I think it’ll be good if someone coming in can’t do some of the things I do. This is a highly technical job right now, and I don’t think it should be. The eLC is a teacher, and the work should be work that only a teacher can do well. I feel that other kinds of tasks should mostly be given to the people who are best suited to looking after them.

Some things will be different. My successor will have other ways to accomplish stuff, novel approaches to tired problems, and generally a lot to offer. I certainly wish them well, and I’ll be here to support them in the transition and beyond, because that’s who I am.

I think I’ve done well in this role, and I can look back and see objectively that we’ve come a long, long way from 2008 by any measure. I’ll miss the near-constant contact with everyone in my Skype group most of all, and I hope that catching up at 3:00pm and on Twitter and at eSymposium, ECOO14, or OTKR12 will be enough to maintain those relationships.

I have four more months as the eLC, and I plan to cram in as much as possible (including OTRK12 and an EdCampSault). I want to leave things both easy and awesome for the new eLC so they can focus on effective instructional practice instead of technical issues and clerical work.


I’m not gone yet, but for the last few months of my eLChood I want everyone I work with to know how fantastic they are and how much it means to me to have been a significant part of what we’ve done in our board, in the North, and in Ontario.

Thanks for a great time, everyone.