The New Smoke Signals by Rachel Mishenene


There are many benefits to working in an education library including reading many great books and working with some leading edge technology.  Once you are immersed in the collection, sometimes you find special interests that merit some study.  For me, I am always on the look out for ways that the indigenous people of Canada bolster the connection between young people and the elders of these communities.

The importance of keeping the language and the stories of the past alive with younger generations and the capturing of these narratives in their original language is essential to begin the healing and to grow a strong future.

There is a powerful digital world out there that can be harnessed to capture these stories and connect indigenous communities together.

The New Smoke Signals: Communicating in a Digital World by Rachel Mishenene  is a small but powerful book that links the indigenous world to the digital world in a easy, uncomplicated way.  The book has a variety of information in it.  She says, “First Nation, Inuit and Metis people across the country have embraced this relatively new way of communicating with each other, learning new things and preserving the old teachings.” (p.5) And so begins a look at modern technology like cellphones, social media like LinkedIn and blogs, to help tell the stories that are important to indigenous communities.  I especially liked the example of the blog, where a free-lance writer named Stan reflects on the life of his aunt in a blog post after she passes away.  Contained within this section are the reasons someone would blog and the fact that most blogs are read in the morning along with a complete reprint of Stan’s tribute story about his aunt.

This book is from a small publisher called Ningwakwe Learning Press ( but does a fine job of bridging the gap between young and old indigenous people.


Maker Faire 3.0


Five hundred and twenty-five students.  Five design processes and many problems of practice.  Two Super Librarians and a passion for learning. Those numbers sum up what the February 9, 2018 Maker Faire at the Doucette Library looked like although you would need the Bruno Mars music in the background to really get a sense of what was happening.

For three years now, the Doucette Library has hosted the final day of classes for the 2nd year undergraduate education students for Werklund School of Education.  The library hosts some of the many sections of EDUC 546, elementary specialties in the morning and secondary specialties in the afternoon, within the library walls and all the other classes are to be found here on the 3rd floor of Education Classroom Block.

The air is electric with learning, collaborating and sharing of ideas.  Students are also treated to a fair-like atmosphere conjured up by Tammy Flanders and Paula Hollohan of the Doucette Library.  These two have worked with many of the students to match ideas with resources through the students’ two-year term at Werklund.


Many students took part in the limbo, guessing fairy tale endings on the Wheel of Fortune, walked on stilts and visited with Meccanoid the Robot.  Puppet shows were all the rage with many students donning various puppet characters to play out hilarious scenes.  The dress-up corner with many Alice in Wonderland inspired costumes served as a make shift photo booth with many students creating memories with their classmates.

It was a party to celebrate the transition of student to teacher as Werklund classmates spend one of their final days on campus enjoying the hospitality of the Doucette Library.


Design Thinking – Wrap-up

We finished up by teaching 11 workshops based on Design Thinking (the IDEO way) to around 225 second year Werklund students and Tammy and I have a few takeaways from the experience.

  1. The sooner the better.  If we could teach “The Three Little Pigs” design thinking scenario to every student in the second year program during the first week of classes in January, everyone would benefit.  There comes a time in the third week where students have already looked at the 5 possibilities (Design Thinking, Discipline-Based Inquiry, Project-Based, Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning) to solve their problem of practice where our workshop is really too late.
  2. No matter how much time you give, students want more.  In this case, we actually had students prototype an advertising “pitch” for a product or program that would solve “The Three Little Pigs” scenario.  Last year our feedback was that students wanted to prototype.  We allowed time this year for prototyping and presenting (testing) and then used Today’s Meet to collect feedback from the other students in the class.  Because of time limits, feedback was not rich with information to give groups ideas to change or rationalize why not to change their product or pitch.  Students still felt we did not allow them enough time to digest the feedback.
  3. Instructors in the program should know what they are getting into.  We should have clear information about the workshop we offer since we are now considered to be “the experts” on staff for Design Thinking.  We tried to get students to come independently to the workshop in time away from class time.  We had very little buy-in for students doing the workshop without their classmates.  Given that students want to only come with their class, please see #1.

And we are already talking about changes we would make for next January.  I still think that Design Thinking, the process and the workshop, are valuable tools to give students in Werklund School of Education.  We would love to have a whole day, in the first week of January, with instructors and students to walk everyone through the process fully and completely but we are managing to give a good experience to those who sign up early and immerse themselves in the workshop.

Coding – Where Do I Start?


Well I actually know where I started coding and it was the Daisy the Dinosaur App. Although I know that I should be ashamed to say it, I’m not. For my age, I think any kind of coding is a bonus. Something I never, ever thought I would be learning and, yet, here I am.


And, because the focus in the Doucette Library is to take this educational technology out to the K-12 environment, I think walking the walk and talking the talk is where it is at.

Moving forward was a tougher decision. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be options to learn coding at the next level. Python seemed a bit of a stretch, like speaking Greek before learning Greek. Thanks to a couple of robots, though, my decision became more evident. Ozobot and Dash and Dot both use Blockly (and there is also a Blockly Jr.) So I learned some great terms like looping and moving of robots with simpler click and drag commands.


Alas, there are larger programming needs on my horizon. For the wearable workshop that we are working on, I would like to, also, invest some time with Scratch. This language also calls upon the click and drag method to watch what happens and that suits me fine.


My experience with Arduino taught me that I was trying to gallop before I knew how to walk. Much of the coding for arduinos is open source but I am not yet able to predict what the outcome of downloading much of the code will be or how to make minor changes to affect the downloaded code. And, yet, I keep at it, learning step-by-step. I also know that I am not an intuitive coder.

I’ve collected a few good websites, apps and resources to help you begin to bring coding into your classroom or to try something to connect with other coders out there in the world. Take a look here to see where to start.