Pathway to Poetry

My goal is to write and perform poetry. For the major assignment for ECI 831, I have decided on option B – to learn something complex, worth learning and of great interest to me. I am intrigued by spoken poetry with a social justice message. This blog post documents :

  • my assessment of my experience and skill in poetry writing and reading
  • my digital exploration of poetry resources
  • my chosen pathway to poetry
  • and finally my Poem #1

Down the garden path of childhood verses: self- assessment

I don’t recall studies of poetry or creative writing from high school English. I just don’t think I connected with our teacher or the Shakespearean sonnets. I realize that everything I learned about poetry was from elementary school. I remember memorizing poetry to recite to the class. Why does one poem in particular stick out in my mind? Someone by Walter de la Mare is particularly memorable. We also had choral speaking competitions at the music festival. I remember dressing in a black skirt and a white shirt,  lining up shortest to tallest, walking on to the big stage at the Tisdale Civic Centre, while Miss Pearce in haystack hairdo, stood down at audience level conducting while our Grade 3 class recited in unison.

Do children memorize poems nowadays? Do you have any poems committed to memory from your school days?

My internet exploration and discovery

These past few weeks I have been cruising the internet, fishing around on Google, YouTube and websites to find the pathway to achieve that lofty goal of writing  and performing poetry. There are some excellent videos that can provide short lessons on the structure of poetry, different forms of poetry and examples of poets reciting poetry.

Becoming overwhelmed by the vastness of digital advice, and realizing  my tendency to get easily distracted by the bells and whistles of the world-wide web, I narrowed in on a few digital tools and sources that may be helpful in my quest to write and perform poetry.

  • delivers a poem a day to read via email – so I may learn from the published poets
  • B-Rhymes is a free rhyming app to help me sweeten the melody of my poetry
  • YouTube poetry teachers and poets will help me to understand the structure and components of poetry
  • Websites such as Penny Kittle provide dynamic examples and specific guidance with spoken word social justice poetry. Thanks James Jones.

My chosen pathway is…

Coursera – Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

Ultimately, I signed up for free “self- directed, on-line experience”. Sharpened Vision: Poetry Workshop is delivered through Coursera and brokered from the Californian Institute of the Arts. For $61 I would have received a certificate upon successful completion of the course but I opted for the free course. I will have access to the curriculum and participate in all the activities. I just won’t have a fancy certificate to frame.

I have just started and the course seems like it is structured to keep me on a productive poetry path to believeing that: “The best writing happens after the first draft.” I am excited. I have never taken a MOOC.  The course creators seem to have a good recipe to guide the success of their 65,000 + students taking this beginner poetry wiriting course. I am also confident that my poetry writing will improve with Coursera’s MOOC’s guidance.

Have you ever used Coursera or other MOOCs? What did you think? Were you satisfied that theplatform helped you achieve your learning goals?

Poem #1: My first few stumbles

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is catty.jpg
My assistant – Belinda

Poem #1 is the grande finale of this blog. I wrote then created an audio file of Poem # 1 as a record of my first few stumbles toward my goal of creating and performing meaningful and dynamic, spoken word poetry.

Please listen. Critics, feel free to rate it as corny, cringy or cool or just a valiant beginner’s attempt.

Brenda Ives

Poem # 1: Poet? You know it! by Brenda Ives

Am I right? To say I’ll write

A poem sententious, ernest, not pretentious?

Am I sane? To feel the pain

And put to words the world absurd?

I’ll explore curiously and write so seriously.

But seriously?

This voice of mine has too much rhyme.


Hickory Dickory Dock

TikTok and me: What in the world!

by Brenda Ives

This is a late addition to the assigned blog post on a social media review. I am (much too) slowly building confidence in understanding social media and applying skills to blogs etc. Here is my blog on TikTok – what it is and how it might be used to enhance learning.

Yes. I downloaded the TikTok app to see if there might be something educational or useful to a teacher or students in this entertaining app. I am definitely older, much, much, older than the 16-30 age demographic that typically use the app. Still, I am curious to learn about the TikTok craze.

Photo by cottonbro on

At first I glance I really disliked the videos – but soon I was scrolling for over an hour watching video after video. The videos are so short, strange and seemingly senseless choregraphed to annoying music.

Belinda, my cat

TikTok first gave me a taste of funny and not-so-funny cute cat videos- which I was able to relate to because I have a very cute calico cat. The next minute I was watching over-enthusiastic educators and silly, sarcastic teachers. Finally, I landed on therapy videos! Yikes – two hours on TikTok and I am already seeking help?

What is TikTok and how does it grab our attention?

Tech and Learning‘s Luke Edwards descibes TikTok  as a social media app, where users create and edit videos of three to 15 seconds, or string together videos of up to 60 seconds – if recorded in the app. Longer videos can be uploaded from another source. Jay Tolentina of the New Yorker Magazine describes how TikTok holds our attention: “in esscence it is an enormous meme factory compressing the world into pellets of virality and dipensing those pellets until you get full or fall asleep.” The app’s artificial Intelligence is a “machine learning system” that watches you watching the videos and takes you to those places where you stop, look and listen.

Using TikTok in the classroom

Edutopia had an interesting article about teachers using TikTok in the classroom. The article contends that TikTok can be useful to enhance learning for the following reasons:

  • Bite sized lessons – Teachers can create mini lessons in video on TikTok. I watched a 30 second videoand learned an Excel tip on creating a yes/no drop down. That was a very useful lesson! The photo below is a capture from a 60 second grammar teacher’s TikTok lesson.
Courtesy of Claudine Sanders James
Claudine James uses TikTok to teach the basics of grammar to more than 900,000 of her followers.
  • Increased particpation of students -Assign a TikTok video post as a supplement to a written assignment or as a stand-alone digital assignment. The use of TikTok may be seen as something novel and therefore engage student interests. Using a familiar medium that is relevant to the times could increase participation of students.
  • Connecting with students – If teachers take the time to create and post on TikTok, perhaps students will get to know teachers better. Teachers also can follow student accounts to learn more about their students, their interests and their creative talents.
  • Just for Fun -This is a creative platform that students can relate to and probably already use for fun.


Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

Teachers are cautioned to:

  • set up a closed group on TikTok so only those invited can see the images uploaded by students.
  • turn off the dual function so that people can’t comment
  • know that students may stray from the task
  • be warned of the “TikTok Challenges” to harm school property and school staff
  • critically examine the power of algorithmic interests and how the algorithm may shape young minds

TikTok: to use or not to use. That is the question?

If TikTok enchances learning while minimizing potential harm to students, then yes, teachers should consider using TikTok.

Personally, I would not use this app in the classroom with children 18 years of age or younger because the risks to privacy, exploitation and cyber bullying. I would use this app with adult students however. Adult students are probably better at staying on task and understanding the underlying manipulation of the algorithm. I think that the bite-sized lessons could increase participation and student engagement in the curriculum. I also think that adult students could also use this platform to demonstrate creativity and really have some fun.

One more thing

TikTok Celebrity? Jagmeet Singh

What about Jagmeet Singh? Why the heck would a respected leader of a federal party engage in making videos on what some think is a very goofy TikTok. Was he just craving the attention? Judging by his profile stats and the demographic of TikTok users, perhaps his plan was to reach the young voters who have not cemented their political preferences. Maybe he is on to something with 848.8 K followers and 8.1 M likes. Perhaps social media such as TikTok can facilitate fan and voter engagement.

What do you think? Are there serious, legitimate uses to TikTok or is it just a medium for celebrity influence? Can the magic of TikTok be applied to the classroom?

What we write may be medicine to someone else’s needs

This blog title is a quote from Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate Carol Rose GoldenEagle. She also said: “I encourage those who embrace the written word not to censor their thoughts and feelings, and experiences. It is the purging of truth and wisdom, often in the form of poetry which can be ingested and shared by those who read and thereby experience and remember.”

My digital learning project for EC & I 831 is learning to write and perform poetry. My desire to learn to write poetry is compatible with my desire to communicate transformative ideas with the potential to transform – or at least make people stop, think and feel. My poetry writing project will focus on Spoken Word poems which are intended for performance and typically about community, issues and social justice.

Creative commons photo by THINKGlobalSchool 

I have been fascinated by poetry that vividly paints a picture of mood and ideas through the clever, yet parsimonious use of language. A neighbour, my friend’s mom, who lives down the road from my childhood home in rural Saskatchewan is a poet. I remember reading her poem about emptying her teen son’s pants pockets before she put them in the washer. In the poem of this simple, ordinary act she was able to capture a mother’s wonderment, joy, and pride in her son as well as fear and worry over what the future may hold. Such a talent!

Spoken word poetry is particularly fascinating. Watch Maya Angelou reads an emotional poem about racism and the black American experience. This is a performance poem by Canadian Katerena Vermette as she flips the common negative narrative about Winnipeg’s North End.

Of course, I can only aspire that eventually a poem of mine may have that type of impact. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So today, I will take my first step in spoken word poetry writing.

making peace with social media

How would I describe my relationship with social media? I have mixed feelings about social media. I maintain my distance but appreciate social media’s usefulness. I appreciate the infinite connections to people and ideas but am concerned about social media as a tool for consumerism and commodification. Most certainly my attitude about social media does affect my personal and professional life. Here are my reflections on my current practices in social media and my desire to use social media to enhance my personal and professional life.

I like to read, watch and learn but am not so keen on reciprocal communication and avoid sharing, writing, posting, commenting, creating or blogging. I have disabled most notifications because I do not want to be at the beck and call of social media on my phone.

I follow politics and critical perspectives on Twitter because I care about, and am curious about progressive policy and science-based discussions that are not always available through mainstream media. Like many digitally connected people, I waste considerable time reading and watching videos on social media. Since Covid-19, the climate crisis, and 1000’s of graves found at Indian Residential School sites, I find myself mostly doom -scrolling on Twitter. I realize that this can harm my mental health.

How has social media affected my personal life roles as a mom, grandmother, co-worker, friend, cousin, sister and daughter? Facebook and Instagram have helped me to connect with far flung friends and relatives and remain up to date on their comings and goings, their weddings, funerals, births retirements. Photos and posts of children, pets and nature entertain and elicit positive emotions.

Personally and professionally, I am concerned about shameless marketing through social media. The internet is like a giant shopping mall. We are enticed to buy, buy and buy. Yes the apps may be free but consumerism will cost society dearly when our earth becomes a garbage dump of carbon and plastic.

On the other hand…The internet is like a FANTASTIC shopping mall. I appreciate the convenience of online shopping.

I am also aware that our dependence on digital communication and social media to deliver education has the potential to dehumanize and commodify education. This is a concern.

Social media is a great tool for teachers and students to expand knowledge, skill and communication. When schools shut down face to face instruction in March 2020, networks of social media facilitated continuity of education. Although it has been a challenge for me to shift to teaching (and learning) on line, I am hopeful that #eci831 will strengthen my craft and comfort in appropriately using social media to facilitate stronger connections with students, enhancing my personal and professional life.

Social Media and Open Education

Clickety Click -9/6/2021

So I am freaking out! I am definitely vacillate between being overwhelmed and terrified by this course – Social Media and Open Education and being proud at my accomplishment in the very basic baby steps. My motto will be: ” A mistake is an opportunity to learn” even though fixing mistakes or getting lost in unfamiliar territory is so time consuming. Positive self talk: “You got this. It may take you 3 times as long to learn but you will eventually figure it out. Think of the worlds you will be able to explore!” I am annoyed by lots of clicking and passwords. I am frustrated by my lack of skill and knowledge of the lingo. I am overwhelmed by the infinite apps to communicate in social media. I am nervous about participating and responding intelligently and in a timely manner, keeping up the fast pace of social media. But….I am excited that I will be able to create a learning project through open education.


Brenda Ives

Hello I am a University of Regina Master of Education student learning- by- doing social media and open education.

I am a semi -retired educator. Grammy to Jack, Millie, Olive and Conor.

I am a Saskie (born, raised and worked in Saskatchewan, Canada) now living among the coulees and cacti of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

This blog will document my course journey applying social media and open education.

How it started ——- How it’s going

Top- How it started: Brenda Ives (teacher), Lucy Henderson (EA) and our students in 1987 –
Bottom – How it’s going: Brenda Ives- instructor and my students in 2020