Did you say Furniture?

I am well into stripping the paint from my old wood dresser now. I have wondered if this is something I would enjoy doing as a side hobby so I looked into people who do! I found this fabulous podcast by The Zibra Blog where he interviewed Fallon Yates. Fallon gave her top five secret places to find/ buy old furniture for refinishing projects. I already had my dresser on hand, hiding in a dark corner of my basement so I am sure there are many people out there in a similar circumstance! These pieces of furniture are often advertised on Facebook Marketplace, auctions, yard sales, second hand/ thrift stores, or random people just give them away. I have also been looking at refinishing artists for tips and things that have worked for them. Jeanne’s work used a lot of color such as pink and blues, which surprised me. I feel excited to get to the stage of covering my dresser in color but I am still stripping off the old, ugly green paint!

My dresser project, tipped on its end for ease of stripping old paint

I have not decided if I want to paint or stain this dresser when I am done. I looked at the many online pictures and many seem to be painted. This must be the fad right now, however, I just stripped paint off and it is really hard work. I worry that the paint colour will go out of style and then I am right back to where I started! Look at this example I found online:


I think stain would be nice but then as I was watching a YouTube video, she suggested using something called “Tung Oil”. Now I really feel overwhelmed with options! And today I just discovered there is something called “chalk paint”! YIKES! Too many options. So let’s delve into what each one is!

Tung Oil has been around for thousands of years, originating in China. Because of its versatility, it can be applied to concrete, wood, stone, brick, or even metal surfaces. It requires anywhere from 3-5 coats and takes time to dry but is still popular because it is environmentally friendly and easy to use. I like that! How do you think it would look?

Left side of the dresser, tilted on its end

Stain. What is stain and how is it different from Tung oil? Well, wood stain is meant to enhance the colour of the wood enabling the natural wood grain to be visible. Stain is technically tinted, therefore the process is similar to painting. Therefore, stain actually changes the colour of the wood, unlike Tung oil. I am not sure what to think of this. Do I like the colour of the dresser? Here is a close up picture:

Chalk paint is meant to allow for more freedom and creativity so that painters can change their mind part way through. Chalk paint does not require a priming coat and is used to create a time-worn, vintage finish which is very popular right now.

I am content saying I am not interested in chalk paint and that I am leaning towards Tung oil. I think that is the look I am wanting! Within the next week I will get to go shopping for new hardware! This is starting to take shape! It has been a massive effort to remove the old green paint. I was not expecting it to be as difficult and time consuming as it has been but it has been very rewarding. I like that I can see immediate results each time I work on it!

A Whole New World?!

In Michael Wesch’s talk, he quoted the fact that 88% of videos uploaded to YouTube is “new & original content”. This is simply incredible, there is no other way to describe it. I looked at my own YouTube channel and realized that I have over 30 of my own “new & original content” uploaded there, all of which have been uploaded in the past 3 years. Again, incredible. The reason I find this so incredible is because I think back to my childhood when camcorders became popular. They were bulky, expensive, and awkward. I was six the year these were invented and they looked like this:

Camcorder, 1983
Image credit: SSPL | Getty Images

Now, my family did not own one of these because family’s of the 80’s, as mine pictured below, did not get extra’s like camcorders because they were so expensive. I remember watching America’s Funniest Home Video’s as a child, in awe of the possibilities being recorded.

Ferguson Family, early 1990’s.

Fast forward 22 years to 2005 (I am now 28 years old) and YouTube is born. This becomes important because, as Wesch states, this becomes a “celebration of new forms of empowerment”, a “celebration of new forms of community that we had never really seen before”.

What becomes even more astonishing is that two years after the birth of YouTube, the first iPhone is born, hence the beginning of the ability to film/ record video with a device that fits inside our pocket that no one ever leaves home without and 85% of people own.

Yes, I am older than most university students, but this all happened within less than 2 decades! I am sure the younger generation will easily look back in their older years and be astonished at the technology that emerged because it develops at ever increasing rates.

So what does this mean for me and my future classroom? The first thing I think about is privacy. I need to make sure I have the proper permissions before I ever post anything on any social media. I love the fact that educators can, and should, use technology in their classrooms. Students are using it so let’s meet them where they are. I reflect on Katia’s slide displaying all the popular social apps youth are using right now and it overwhelms me. YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, Among Us, Discord, Reddit, and Twitch are just a few. Wesch describes this as “linking people in ways that we have never been linked before”. I need to be aware of what technology my students are using.

So, sounds awesome right!? I agree. But as with all good things, we need to take precautions. This new way of interacting in our world comes with risk and we need to be aware of these risks and talk openly about it with our students because if we aren’t talking, who is?

In our class lecture we discussed what is known as the “mediator” and that this mediator has disappeared in our new digital age. Parents, as an example, used to act as a mediator when the house phone rang. Now, parents do not even always know who their children are talking to. In these virtual communities, who knows who a child is talking to and where in the world that person is living. And there are predators lurking in not so dark corners anymore to lure youth in.

What does this mean for schools in general? Schools will certainly need to rethink things because the world now consists of “user generated content”. We have an “integrated media scape” that students are embracing. Wesch’s comment “when media change(s) human relations change”. Educators are going to need to be creative on how we develop relationships with our students because of this shift and change. Schools will need to adapt and be flexible. And many teachers and schools are!

To rethink the idea of schooling and education in our networked, participatory, and digital world I need to not be afraid of it! Sometimes fear of not understanding how some technologies work limits me. By choosing not to participate in this digital world, we limit ourselves as well as our students. Educators should meet students where they are at, and they are all using some type of technology. I think about the in class example Katia gave of teens eating Tide pods or participating in the black out challenge. We definitely need to re think how to participate in this digital world because sometimes our students can be misled in the big, digital world and they need educators to understand and not judge their digital realm..

How can we balance the challenges of our new digital reality with the possibilities that it offers? Balance is difficult in most things and I have found it comes mostly through trial and error. There is not a recipe to follow or a one size fits all solution for every classroom/ teacher. Choosing to not engage in any technology is not the right angle and yet trying to tackle too much is unrealistic! It is trying one thing and exploring and playing on that to see how it goes. Luckily “information is no longer guarded by institutions”, as Katia reminded us in class. This enables us the freedom to explore and try at least a few new things within the school year.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And it’s……….. Fotobabble!

I am so excited to have discovered Fotobabble! And what a cute word! I am fairly familiar with Davinci Resolve and Audacity, which are open source tools that Katia gave as suggestions but I really wanted to delve into something I knew nothing about. I considered Puppet Pals and Little Bird Tales but these are both applications for iPads or iPhones. I own both these Apple products but I prefer to do my school work on my desktop computer (which is not an Apple desktop). So I tried Fotobabble and this is simply awesome! I LOVE it! You have to try it! I love that it is sooooooo user friendly. I did not need to google or YouTube anything in order to learn how to use it. It is extremely straight forward to use. It is a program that uses your recorded voice overlapping pictures of your choosing.

I began by uploading pictures I wanted.

Learning how to add pictures to Fotobabble
Add your desired photos easily

I then choose to create a caption (optional) for my photos.

Add a Caption (optional)

Next I recorded my voice that accompanies each picture. The picture automatically displays for the entire length of my voice recording.

Learning how to voice record
Voice record to accompany the selected picture

Disadvantages of Fotobabble is that I could not edit my audio at all; if I didn’t like the recording I would need to re record all of it (per picture). It cannot be uploaded to YouTube either. Another disadvantage of Fotobabble is that when I give the link of the project to someone, it forces the viewer to Fotbabble’s website to view it. I would rather it be available directly on my blog instead of it being a link.

In comparison to Davinci Resolve, this program is more powerful and I can do far more with it, including uploading to YouTube. That said, it was extremely time consuming for me to learn and figure out. I also find the audio will randomly cut out, which seems to be a program glitch. It does allow for far more editing though. In Davinci Resolve I can upload audio, video, and pictures, unlike Fotobabble (pictures only).

Fotobabble, in comparison to Audacity, there is no comparison with audio quality, especially if I used a Zoom H4n recorder with Audacity, as seen here:

High fidelity sound recorder to upload to Audacitiy.

Audio that is created in Audacity or elsewhere can be uploaded to Davinci Resolve but not to Fotobabble. So Audacity and Davinci Resolve can be used together, unlike Fotobabble, you need to use Fotobabble’s own voice recorder, which is low fidelity.

I still think Fotobabble is awesome for small projects! I was easily and quickly able to create a project that is fun, interactive and catches attention. I was able to give my viewers a ‘tour’ of my project.

Fotobabble can be used in the classroom as an alternative form of journal writing. Students could take pictures and then record their thoughts regarding it, used to expand grammar, voice fluctuation, and pronunciation as opposed to just spelling. Or teachers could take pictures of their students work, particularly projects, and then voice record their assessment of the work. This gives the student the ability to see and hear the teacher’s feedback. These uses of Fotobabble fall under M, Modification, in the SAMR model because it changes what teachers are able to do in the classroom because the student created something. Fotobabble is especially useful as a form of remote assignments because it can be handed in and viewed online as compared to in person.

All About Twitter!

Twitter as a professional development tool is an excellent choice because I get to choose who I would like to follow on Twitter. I choose like minded people therefore their tweets are in alignment with what I am looking for. For example, I follow Syndey Hoffman and she tweeted an article that provides alternatives to traditional book reports. I love this because I enjoy out of the box thinking for classroom assignments and this article provides that. Due to a lack of time I would never have enough time to sort through all that is available online, therefore, by relying on those I follow, they help give me access to things I value.

I would attempt to use Twitter in my classroom because it is a fun and interactive way for my class as a whole to interact online safely. I imagine my class tweeting about a place-based project we are collaborating on. Or they could request resources for assignments such as this that was tweeted.

The #SaskEdChat was very interesting and fast paced. I have to admit, I felt completely overwhelmed with it at first. I felt I had to read every single comment that appeared on my screen and the comments were coming very quickly because there were so many people participating. I loved the learning environment though. I want to participate again! I like that chats are safe and convenient, we can stay at home rather than rushing out the door for yet another meeting. I appreciated that the chat was moderated therefore I felt that comments would not get out of hand/ inappropriate.

I actually like Twitter. I can see why Katia finds it so useful. At first I had a hard time understanding its purpose and role in my life because there is so much content available. I was reminded of Katia’s comments though: take what you can for now. I can save the rest for later! I can do that! My favourite thing about Twitter is that I get control over who I follow. This sounds simple enough (all platforms give you this option!) but it is significant to me because I choose like minded people that help me ‘sort’ the internet for practical and useful things in my career. Other platforms do not do the same level of ‘sorting’, even with AI.

Let’s get started!

I am so excited about my learning project that it has been hard to reign myself in and take the necessary steps! I just want to get my hands dirty! As my first step I had to learn how to remove paint from my old dresser. This great YouTube video was a huge help to me.

I learned what I need to buy in order to get started. I need: CitriStrip, a paint brush, gloves, a mask, rags/ paper towels, a spray cleaner to remove wax and grime, a 5 in 1 painters tool, sandpaper, paper bag, Tung oil, slideez lubricant (for the drawers), and a stain or wood paint of my choosing.

Something I had to learn about was the language I was using. Was I refurbishing? Refinishing? Restoring? This article helped me understand the lingo!

Front view of the dresser I’m going to refinish
Back view. If you look closely you can see this dresser used to support a mirror. Too bad I don’t have that mirror!
Close up view showing a good view of the hardware that I am going to replace with something modern.
Inside drawer view displaying the layer of wall paper I need to remove.

This user on Tik Tok demonstrates how she removed stain:


1st video. In this video, I show you how I was able to remove the old dark stain from the table. #fixerupper #diy

♬ original sound – Cecy

New Blogs I am following

This has proven to be rather challenging to me, learning how to follow blogs! I first started with Feedly. I am an arts education student passionate about infusing arts into the classroom so I began searching for arts educators. I discovered “2 Soul Sisters” that have several ideas regarding art projects they have included in their own classrooms. One idea that I really liked had the students colour an ink stamped post card (designed by one of their own students) that they coloured. The students were then encouraged to write a note of gratitude to someone and then the post card was physically snail mailed. This is helpful because it is an excellent example of cross curricular (ELA, visual art) learning infused with art. Their students loved it! 2 Soul Sisters is relevant and helpful because their ideas have been tried and tested in their own classrooms. Their blog includes a list of arts education blogs they follow. I have just discovered there are millions of possibilities connecting this way. I had not realized the power of blogging until now.

Feedly screen shot

The second thing I did was google “best arts ed blogs” and by sorting and eliminating I came to Mini Matisse’s blog. The author, Mrs. Hahn, is an elementary arts teacher and her posts are directly related to teaching elementary school children, or, as Mrs. Hahn calls them, “mini’s”. Her blog is recent and includes ideas related to the seasons or special circumstances (ex: Earth Day). Mrs. Hahn’s art projects are detailed often with YouTube tutorials embedded directly to her blog, and her projects use easy to find art supplies. Additionally, one great thing about Mini Matisse’s blog is that she has a huge list of blogs she follows!

Learning Project Outline

I am so excited about my learning project. It took me a long time to settle on a project but I am pleased to announce that I am going to learn how to refurbish a very old wood dresser. I was walking down an aisle in Home Depot and a spray can caught my attention because it had a picture of a refurbished dresser on it.

Home Depot inpiration!

I realized I have an old dresser in my basement that we do not use because it is so ugly. Then I remembered my cousin had recently posted on Facebook that she had just refurbished two of her old dressers. So voila! That is what I have decided to do. My husband and I dragged the heavy wood dresser to the garage and I am ready to get into it. The problem is I do not have any idea where to start! We bought a sander but now I think the dresser is actually painted, not stained. I do not know. As my first step, I need to investigate how to remove both stain and paint. I will need to buy the supplies (and hope for some good weather!). This week I plan to remove the stain/ paint. Inside the drawers there is a layer of fabric that also needs to be removed. Learning how to remove the current finishing and completing that work will take up week 1.

Week 2 I anticipate will be a continuation of removing the current finishing from both the dresser and the drawers. I will need to remove the current hardware.

Week 3 I expect I will need to cover any scratches, dints, and damage with wood filler. I have never done this before either so this will take me some time to figure out.

Week 4 I hope to be able to apply a new finish. I do not know if I will use stain or a paint made for furniture.

Week 5 is when I intend to install the new hardware.

Meet Jana!

My name is Jana Ross. I am a wife and mother of 4. I finish my arts education degree (my concentration is in music) this December following my internship. I have no experience with education technology although I have taken two creative technology courses at the University and I really enjoyed them. I have blogged 20% of my university experience but I am embarrassed to admit I really do not know how to use the blog site properly. The blogging I did was sufficient for my instructors, and in many cases, was an “advanced” form of submitting assignments. Through a lot of trial and error I have figured out how to link websites, add videos and photographs, but the rest is a mystery! Taking EDTC at the beginning of my degree would have been much more helpful to me! I am excited to blog and learn more about it. I enjoy documenting my thoughts and feelings along my journey. I have kept a physical journal my whole life so blogging is another source for me!

A recent picture of me, taken by me!

My husband I have lived in Regina for 6 years after having enjoyed the rocky mountains and this picture reminds me of British Columbia.

Photo by Philip Ackermann on Pexels.com

This is a fun picture of a family camping trip.

A few of my children: Tyana, Tyler and I camping at Riding Mountain Provincial Park, Manitoba, summer 2019

Follow me on Twitter, check out me playing my piano, learning guitar, or observe one of my time lapse!

Me playing “Send in the Clowns” on the piano