Could Doug Actually Change My Mind?

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the need for originality in art, and illustrated my point by judging cover bands.  They were judged a bit harshly, and Doug caught me.  I found out by reading his blog this morning, and I have to admit that he made a good point.  Many good points, actually…  you really need to read what he had to say.

Doug made me do my homework too.  After hearing Bruce Springsteen’s cover of John Fogarty’s Rockin’ All Over the World, I ended up doing some research on YouTube and found the original performance by Fogarty (I hadn’t been familiar with the song at all before this point).  It’s hard to say which artist has done a better job, but maybe that’s because I’m a bit stubborn and might not want to admit defeat quite so easily.

The thing is, after thinking about it, I realized that I do enjoy some cover bands (a green eggs & ham moment, maybe?).  This one is dedicated to Doug.


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Cover Artists

This morning I was watching CTV’s Morning Live (Ottawa) — the best morning show since CTV canceled Canada AM…  but I won’t get into that.  Morning Live shared a short performance by a cover band that pays tribute to the Tragically Hip (one of Canada’s greatest bands).

I am not a fan of cover bands, simply because I prefer to support the original artists.  If the original artists did not create their art, there would be no art for the cover bands to …cover.  I feel the same way about impersonators.  Sorry to the fans of cover bands and impersonators, I’m sure there are some fabulous Elvis performers who are spectacular.  They’re just not my thing.

The thing is, if we teach students to produce art in the style of a famous artist, are we not encouraging them to become nothing more than cover artists?  Mimicry has its limits, and I doubt that anyone who wants to develop artists with integrity would challenge them to become skillful impersonators.  Skillful, yes.  Cover artists have developed skill.  Some artists have developed so much skill that they can even make you question the legitimacy of an original artwork to their own.  There is also the consideration of plagiarism and copyright…

So, rather than developing skillful forgers, consider what artists must do to develop into the historical and contemporary figures we admire today.  What inspired them?  What challenges did they face?  How did they continue to pursue their curiosity and their passion?  How did they evolve?

The art we see today is simply the result of their creative processes.  Let us esteem their creative processes while celebrating their art, and encourage our students to begin their own journeys too.  Get to know your students; their interests, their questions, even their dislikes.  Help them respond to the world around them in their own way, one that respects others while maintaining and developing their character.




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Inspired by Amy

I wanted to give a shout-out to Amy Burvall.  She is easily one of the most creative educators I know… and I’ve never even met her (yet).  She can’t seem to help it; creativity oozes from her in multiple forms:  Instagram images, blog posts, artwork created on Paper by 53, YouTube videos… the list is endless, thank God.

Her digital sketches influenced some of my own work, most notably this image, which was created in response to the Orlando massacre:

#LoveIsLove Inspired by #AmyBurvall #Orlando #OrlandoUnited

A photo posted by Colleen Rose (@colleenkr) on


Amy has used the symbol of a tear drop to create a number of beautiful artworks:



A photo posted by Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) on

#paris #parisstrong #parisattacks

A photo posted by Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) on


So, I guess I just wanted to make sure to give credit where credit was due.  Austin Kleon encourages us to steal like an artist, and I love appropriation, but I also love respecting the original thoughts & creations of artists. Thanks Amy🙂








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The Learning Environment: Time for a Change?

Today was my last day of work.  As I prepared to leave my room for a lovely summer break, I took a few pictures for a couple of reasons:  1) I wanted to capture the image of my super-shiny, clean room & post it on Instagram, and 2) I wanted to get some advice from other teachers, especially those who have experience in a TAB classroom.

Next year, Lindsay, Stephen and I are beginning our TLLP journey together, and part of the journey involves assessing and restructuring our classrooms.  I can’t think of a better time to take stock of my learning environment, get advice and begin to plan for changes in the coming school year.  In fact, I’m going to challenge my friends to do the same thing.  Stephen & Lindsay (and anyone else who would like to join us for the ride):  Take a picture of your classroom, write a blog post with your images & ask for advice from others.

I’ve learned that other people have amazing strengths that we can benefit from, especially when those strengths balance our own weaknesses.  My weakness:  organization.

How should I organize my classroom?  What is the best way to use the space I work in every day?  How do I prevent tossing materials in a location that I know about, but my students don’t?  How do I create centres (or is this advisable for high school)?  Is it better to simply organize & label materials and equipment for easy access & storage?  What about anchor charts that could be displayed near certain storage areas?



Please leave a comment below!  (thanks)





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The #LearningLine Challenge

A few weeks ago, I invited people to participate in a new project.  My post was called “Draw a Line for Me“, but my very clever friend Rodd Lucier thought of a better way to share the project:  a hashtag.  *Thanks Rodd!*

Lindy Amato was the first person to respond to the challenge.  I love her decisive vertical line that represents her appreciation for all forms of learning, especially those we can cherish in the present moment.  Her perspective on negative experiences along with mistakes is so refreshing, and one that I intend to share with both my children and my students.




Rodd Lucier‘s Learning Line was next, and came in two forms; first on Instagram, then later (and more spectacularly) on YouTube.  “I thought I knew a lot, but I relied a lot on the things that previous teachers had done that I loved as a student…”  As Rodd recounted his stories, I began to remember my first years of teaching as well.  What an amazing journey that you have captured and shared with us here, Rodd ~ thank you!



Peter Cameron’s blog post was amazing to read for many reasons.  Not only was I happy that he had taken the time to create an amazing timeline with colour-coordinated stories, but his questions revealed so much more about his priorities as a teacher-learner than I had anticipated.  “What do my students who are now thirty years old remember most about grade 6?” <– wow!



I have to admit that Joanne Borges’ blog post had the coolest title ever:  “The Learning Tornado” is such an appropriate description of our educational experiences!  I’m glad that her “nightly ‘learning journey’ via Twitter” led her to create her fabulous #LearningLine that was characterized by wonderfully dramatic changes.


Joanne says it beautifully:

The digital world has changed the way that I learn and has caused my learning line to become a bit of a learning tornado. I have never felt so invigorated and passionate about education and the opportunities that are available to us, should we decide to grab on.


Thank you so much to Lindy, Rodd, Peter and Joanne ~ your reflections are brilliant, and so beneficial to other educators.  I sincerely hope that others will be inspired by your stories and that they will want to create their own learning lines as well.






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Art + Innovation

Every now and then, a student will surprise me.  My grade 9 art class is studying the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr as part of their final task.  They have some written work as well as a creative component to complete:  one that is somehow inspired by or related to the work of the artists we are studying.

Dylan smiled when he told me that he woke up at 5:30, packed up his phone and the tripod he borrowed from class, and went down to the Red Rock Marina to capture the sunrise with time-lapse photography.

I was floored!  He showed me the video this morning, and I told him he should upload it to YouTube so we could share it with our township (and the rest of the world!).  Who knows, maybe it might be used to tempt a few people to make the trip to Red Rock!  If you’d like to leave a message for Dylan, feel free to post a comment.







Posted in Art Education, NorthWestern Ontario, Ontario, Regional Art, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Draw a Line for Me…

Every Saturday morning, my kids and I jump in the car and head to Thunder Bay for swimming lessons.  It takes just over an hour to get there, so we usually listen to CBC radio to help us pass the time.  On the morning of May 21st, as the kids were reading, I listened to Fresh Air’s Mary Ito talk about relationships with her guest, Amy Muise.


Wikipedia provides a short intro to the self expansion model:  “The self-expansion model is based on two key principles. The first is that humans have a primary motivation to self expand. The second principle is that individuals often achieve self-expansion through close relationships which allow the inclusion of the other in the self.


The concept of self expansion intrigued me, not only for its obvious connection to human relationships, but also for its possible relevance to teaching and learning.  This is where you come in.  If you are reading this post and you are an educator, I hope you will participate.  You will be required to make a drawing for me, but don’t worry:  you don’t have to be artistic.  

I want you to draw a line.  Just one line.  Start at the left side of your page.  This line will act as a timeline for your educational career:  the direction & quality of your line will determine how you learned over a particular time.  Your line will end depending on the length of your career or the size of your paper…


Don’t read any further until you finish drawing.  Give yourself time to think.

What does your line look like?  Does your line change direction at any point?   When did you learn the most?  Why did you learn more at these times compared to others?

I’d like you to share your drawing, along with a short explanation.  I want to hear your story of learning, because we all benefit when we share our knowledge and experiences. I also want to hear how the theory of self expansion could relate to your career and your growth as a learner.

Please share the link to your drawing (copy & paste the url into the comment section under this post — your drawing can be shared wherever you enjoy sharing: Instagram, Twitter, etc.) along with your explanation or story.  I’m looking forward to seeing your lines and hearing about their meanings!


My motive for this post:  a new learning journey.  I have been teaching since 1999, and have recently gained much interest in leadership.  I work with a fantastic group of aspiring leaders, who are learning to set clear goals while considering the necessary criteria and reasoning behind their vision.  I also enjoy my time learning alongside my fellow Tech Champions within our school board, who fearlessly explore the digital world and act as translators for their colleagues who are excited to speak a new language.  Fortunately, I am sharing both of these experiences with my friends Lindsay and Stephen, who are part of my TLLP team as well!

…and next week, I’ll be interviewed for a Lead Learner position in our school.  Competition for these roles is tight, which is both good and bad:  good, because we have a strong staff with phenomenal leadership skills; bad, because I might not get the role I’m hoping for.  I’m hoping to highlight a drawing or two (or more!) during the presentation portion of my interview, to celebrate our collective learning as well as the qualities we should consider when designing educational experiences for others.


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