Podcasts for Teachers

Podcasts are a great way to develop your teaching practice for free. I downloaded the free app Podcast Addict from Google Play so that I can listen on the bus or while doing the dishes. The thing I love most about Podcasts is the ability to learn something new while doing those everyday chores. Something tedious becomes entertaining. Listen and develop your understanding of the world while you clean, cook, travel or relax. As a pre-service teacher I glean as many new bits of educational insights as I can and podcasts have become my main medium for expanding that knowledge base. Podcasts are made to be listened to, so in this post I will share some great shows that you can add to your own podcast playlist. I will go into depth with 3 shows but you can find a list of other great podcasts to make you a better teacher here and here.

The 3 shows that I have chosen are Five Moore Minutes, Moving at the Speed of Creativity and Learning Transforms. Programs focused on inclusion, digital literacy and educational research.

Max Pixel – Podcast – CC BY SA 2.0

Five Moore Minutes

The first show I listened to Five Moore Minutes was suggested to me by Nat, one of the other members of my Tech Inquiry group. Hosted by Shelley Moore @tweetsomemoore, this podcast is brimming with practical ways to make your classroom an inclusive space. Based out of Vancouver, Shelley created a website and videos dedicated to promoting learning for ALL students. As she says “Inclusive Education: it’s not more work, it’s different work”. As a Special Education Teacher she understands that teachers don’t always have a lot of time on their hands to watch or listen to the full 30 minutes episode so each video is split into 5 minute chunks and then expanded on in her podcast which includes interviews. Inclusion resources, research, inspiration and professional development activities all in one place!

Here is the Five Moore Minutes project’s video introduction

I listened to her first episode The Evolution of Inclusion, the script for each episode is available on her website for those that prefer to read, true inclusion! Shelley traveled to Prince Rupert, a school district that is an exemplar for inclusive education. This episode talks about integration vs inclusion, the necessity of creativity and collaboration in making inclusion possible and the excitement surrounding the new BC curriculum and the potential it holds to finally move our schools towards full inclusion even at the high school level.

There is no course in our program focused on Special Education so tuning in to podcasts like Five Moore Minutes can help future teachers to develop a better understanding of what inclusion looks like and how to make our future classrooms and school a truly inclusive place. As a member of the LGBTQ community Shelley is an advocate for safe spaces in all school and asks listeners to email her at shelleymoore79@gmail.com with any questions regarding not only inclusion but the SOGI 123 initiative.

Moving at the Speed of Creativity

Dr. Wesley Fryer has been producing and hosting the podcast Moving at the Speed of Creativity since 2005. This show has been broadcasting Edtech know-how since the beginning, with 463 episodes in 14 years, the podcast focuses on providing guidance for teachers as they navigate the blending of the physical and digital classroom. The podcast focuses on educational technology and digital literacy in the classroom, but sometime includes episodes on history, science and math. @wfryer also produces a podcast called Fuel for Educational Change Agents that provides “lightly edited” audio recordings of workshops, conference presentations and key note speakers related to educational technology topics.

I listened to episode 459: Highlights from Ohio Educational Tech Conference which took place in Columbus between February 12-14th 2018. Follow @OETC19 for this years conference. This episode consists of 3 interviews from the conference, the first with high school students that have created interactive games using Scratch and Makey Makey. The second with Arthur Bodenschatz and his “mobile storyteller”RV interviews. The last interview is Arthur interviewing Wesley, which gives the listener a deeper understanding of Fryer’s personal aspirations and philosophies around the making of Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

In this episode Wesley curates a list of edtech tools for improving writing presented by @ericcurts. Here are Wesley’s conference notes for episode 459 (CC BY 3.0):

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Follow Wes Fryer on Twitter: @wfryer
  3. The EdTech Situation Room Podcast (@edtechSR)
  4. Eric Curts on Twitter: @ericcurts
  5. Generate random student writing prompts with emojis!” (using a Google Sheet and script) by @ericcurts
  6. Google Drawings for Graphic Organizers by @ericcurts
  7. Rhyme Finder Google Add-On via @ericcurts
  8. Read & Write for Google Chrome (extension and free/paid service)
  9. Language Tool Add-on for Google Chrome via @ericcurts
  10. Highlight The Music – Google Docs add-on via @ericcurts
  11. Writeful (Thesaurus Google Extension) via @ericcurts
  12. Addressing student cheating in Google Apps by @ericcurts
  13. Hour webinar by @ericcurts“Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Docs”
  14. Sample comment banks for writing feedback by @timbowers33 via @ericcurts
  15. Recommended touch-screen enabled Chrome laptop: Acer Chromebook Spin 11 via @ericcurts
  16. Playback a Google Doc’s revision history with the free extension “Draftback” via @ericcurts
  17. Create basic/simple student writing / project rubrics with WriQ Google Add-On via @ericcurts
  18. Create more customized writing project rubrics “Orange Slice Teacher Rubric Add-on for Docs” via @ericcurts
  19. Todd Beard on Twitter: @teacherbeard
  20. Video: OETC 2018: The Casady School- Dr Wesley Fryer
  21. Video: The Mobile Storyteller of North Canton City Schools, Ohio

Learning Transforms

Learning Transforms is a podcast from the Faculty of Education and Association of Graduate Education students (AGES) here at Uvic that brings in experts from our community to talk about topics like Indigenous Resurgence and Inclusive Education. The association strives to create community within the Faculty of Education and share research information within Uvic and beyond. The show which began in 2018 is hosted by Cortney Baldwin and Ted Riecken. Ted, a researcher and professor for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction has been a podcaster since the medium first took off in 2004 when he began creating his podcast Islandpodcasting . Cortney is a graduate student in Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies and is doing her research on reconciliation. Together they create informative podcasts about local, current research here at Uvic.

I listened to the Building a Trauma Informed Community episode with guest host Dr. Tim Black for free on Soundcloud, a great way to listen to just about any podcast without a monthly fee (if you want to be able to download and listen to episodes offline then you can pay $9.99 a month). Tim is an expert on trauma education and Associate Professor and Department Chair for Uvic Faculty of Education Psychology and Leadership Studies.

This episode investigates the many different ways that people experience trauma and the different forms that PTSD can take. The takeaway from this episode for teachers is the importance of your response to an individual sharing their traumatic experiences with you. Black recommends responding with “I’m so sorry that that happened to you” and then just BE QUIET but attentive. Social responses, though well meaning may have a negative effect on how that person heals from the traumatic experiences. As educators , fostering a kind and supportive classroom helps to build safe places for all students. Give the episode a listen for more aspects of a trauma informed community.

Open and Networked Learning

I wasn’t able to make it to our class on Tuesday for the video conference with Verena Roberts on open and networked learning but I was still able to take part via Blue Jeans Network, a video, audio and web conferencing tool that works anywhere with any device. Blue Jeans was easy to use and I didn’t miss out on the amazing learning opportunity. What a great way to expand the learning community beyond four walls! An open education experience during #openedweek.

Flickr – Global Water Partnership-CC-BY-NC-SA2.0

Through the video call our class was able to take part in a conference in Edmonton (co-located session) led by Verena, here are her slides and Resources. Her talk made me think about what learning opportunities are available beyond physical experiences and the possibilities of networked learning that connect our students to the wider, possibly global community and how I can bring this concept into my own classroom. Her slides laid out indicators of open educational practice based on her own research:

  • Designing for sharing
  • Participatory learning
  • Learning networks
  • Safe learning spaces
  • Expanded learning environment

Open and networked learning makes Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) possible, an opportunity for students to connect to community opportunities outside of their classroom. In IBL students are not given the answers, the responsibility for finding the information is on the learner, which means that we have to ensure that our students have the proper digital literacy skills necessary to succeed. By starting early with guided inquiry we can help our students learn to not only follow their curiosity and build their digital literacy but to become independent learners.

A Deeper Look into 6 Native Plants: Part 1

In my last post I wrote about the Native Plant Workshop I attended last week put on by the Campus Community Garden. Elder Earl Claxton Jr and Education Coordinator PEPAḴIYE Ashley Cooper  came from PEPAKEN HAUTW (Native Plant Nursery and Garden) and brought with them 4 potted plants as well as Thimbleberry clippings and Stinging Nettle seeds. In this post I will dive a little deeper into each of the 6 plants, detailing their properties, traditional uses and where they can be found. Saanich Ethnobotany includes the SENĆOŦEN names for each plant but I will not be adding them as I don’t have access to correct letters with their accents. Check out the book if your interested in seeing each plants SENĆOŦEN names.

Devil’s Club

Flickr-Kathy Neufeld – CCBY-NC2.0
Flickr – Forest Service Alaska – CCBY2.0

Devil’s Club is an erect to sprawling spiny shrub that can grow up to three meters tall, with thick often tangled light-grey stems. The wood has a sweet odour. The large leaves are shaped like maple leaves; they alternate along the stem on long stalks. Each leaf has seven to nine pointed, toothed lobes and the undersides are spiny long veins. The small whitish flowers grow in a dense pyramid shaped cluster at the top of the shrub. They ripen into bright red, strong smelling berries.

Where they are found: Not known to occur on the Saanich Peninsula, but is found in the mountains of the Malahat and Sooke Hills. It is very common on the wetter parts of Vancouver Island and the mainland. It grows in moist, shaded woods, in wet seepage areas, along streams and in avalanche tracks at low to mid elevations.

Traditional Uses: Elsie Claxton said that Devil’s Club spines are poisonous, and that you should not touch them. She said she would never drink or eat something containing it because she believed tat the entire plant was poisonous. Violet Williams thought that Devil’s Club was used to make a medicinal tea for diabetes. Dave Elliot said that “The roots were pounded, boiled and used as a poultice for rheumatism and other aches. The prickly stems were beaten against the skin for sore limbs.” Elsie, Violet and Dave all recalled that the charcoal from this plant was used as a (ceremonial) face paint for dancers. It was powdered and mixed with grease. It was also used for a bluish tattoo. (Saanich Ethnobotany pg. 92-93)

Nodding Onion


Nodding Onion is easily recognized by its onion-like odour if if you crush the leaves or stems, and by its grassy leaves and pink, nodding flower heads. The bulbs are long and narrow with a flat plate at the base from where the true toots grow. The bulbs divide readily, so that often you will see a cluster of plants growing together. The leaves are somewhat succulent and grass-like, growing up to about 20 cm in length. The flower stalks are often taller than the leaves, some reaching up to 40 or 50 cm. The stalks bend over at the top so that the flower heads no. The flowers are pink in round topped clusters of 10 or more on one head. Flowering occurs from May to August depending on the elevation. The mature papery seed capsules release hard black seeds when ripe.

Where they are found: Nodding Onion thrives in open sites (such as coastal bluffs), in dry open woodlands and on gravelly beaches above the tideline. It is often associated with Douglas-fir and Garry Oak. Its distribution is somewhat patchy, but it can be found in many locations in W̱SÁNEĆ territory.

Traditional Use: Christopher Paul said that the W̱SÁNEĆ people used to paddle or row across Saanich Inlet to harvest Nodding Onion from the Bamberton area before the cement factory was built. The bulbs could be washed and eaten raw. But more often they were cooked and eaten with other foods due to their strong flavour. (Saanich Ethnobotany pg.117 – 118)

Blue Camas


Blue Camas is in the lily family, and have edible bulbs located deep in the soil. Bright green leaves grow from the base of the plant and appear grass-like. The flowers are usually deep blue but sometime pale blue or even white. Plants usually bear many flowers, all six-petalled and arranged in an elongated spike at the top of the flowering stalks. The seed capsules are elongated and split onto three sections to release black, glossy seeds. After the seeds have germinated,it takes several years for the plants to grow old enough to flower.

Where they can be found: The blue camas species can be found on grassy slopes and moist meadows, at low to mid elevations.

Traditional Uses: Blue Camas was the most important root vegetable for the
W̱SÁNEĆ people. It was the only widely available source of carbohydrate in a diet that consisted of mainly meat and fish. The W̱SÁNEĆ used to dig up many of their bulbs on the smaller Gulf Islands. Areas over rock such as along rocky cliffs by the sea were preferred harvesting sites because the bulbs were not too deep. Bulb beds were usually dug between June and August. The entire family including men, would be involved. The harvest usually lasted for several days. Sometimes harvesting was done in connection with fishing trips to the islands or to Boundary Bay. The bulbs were dug up with a pointed stick of Yew or Oceanspray and placed in baskets carried on the back with a tumpline over the forehead. The soil was lifted out in small sections, and only the largest bulbs, at least 5 cm across were removed. Bulbs were collected when seed pods were dry. This is when the bulbs are the largest and most nutritious. Bulb beds were usually burned after harvest to increase yield in the following years. The bulbs were usually cooked in enormous circular steaming pits on the beach. (Saanich Ethnobotany pg. 118-123)

Science Podcasts in the Classroom

I recently listened to and reviewed 3 different science podcasts, Brains On!, But Why and Tumbler. All shows provide provocations in the form of an unknown sound or a question, these are opportunities to press pause and reflect either as a class, in pairs or independently. When listening to podcasts kids can close their eyes and focus on the content of the show, cutting out the visual sensory information of a video. All the shows break information up into smaller chunks and speak in calm unhurried voices, which allows for time to practice listening, digesting and reflecting on the information. I have provided links below to all the shows and episodes that I reviewed if you are curious.

flickr Ky – CCBY2.0

Brains On!

Brains on! is an award winning science podcasts for kids and curious adults from American Public Media. At Brains On! they are very serious about being curious.

Each week a new kid co-hosts with host Molly Bloom to find answers to captivating questions about the world. Their mission is to ” encourage kids natural curiosity and wonder using history and science”. The questions are generated by listeners, questions can be uploaded to the website with the possibility of being featured on the weekly show.

Check out listeners favorite episodes here.

The creators of Brains On! also have a history podcast called Forever Ago and a debate podcast called Smash Boom Best .

You can listen to Brains On! online at NPR radio , through podcast apps like Podcast Addict or wherever you get your podcasts.

I listened through the NPR radio link to the December 18th show, Soil: Can you dig it. Some features of the show:

Whats that sound? – a short sound clip that has to do with the episode topic in some way. When listening to the podcast with your class you can pause at this point and discuss their ideas.

Moment of um – a question provided by listeners that has to do with episode topic. A good time to pause and reflect as a class.

But Why?

But why is a show from Vermont Public Radio where kids ask the questions and they provide the answers. Listeners can submit question by recording an audio file and emailing it to questions@butwhykids.org

Hosted and produced by Jane Lindholm with help from producer Melody Bodette But Why? tackles questions big and small about nature, words, even the end of the world.

I listened to Why do days start at 12 o’clock , a mind blowing episode that tackles questions on time including sundials, base 12 and physics.

wikimedia – Calder Sundial

In this episode host Jane Lindholm introduces the big questions of time. But Why has received questions from listeners in 48 different countries over the past two years, that’s 17520 hours! Questions like….

How does time work? How do people decide 1 hour is 60 minutes? How is time created? Why do clocks have to go clockwise? All these questions are answered in the episode. The show features:

Guest speakers – Each episode brings in a guest speaker. This episode on time brings in Andrew Novick an engineer from the time and frequency division of the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Further Research – Jane frequently suggests asking an adult for research help if interested in discovering more about one of the subtopics in the episode. She also encourages kids to keep curious about the question, possibly becoming the adults that answer them.


Tumble is a podcast hosted by husband and wife duo Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla. At Tumble they believe in two things:

  1. If kids understand how science works, the world will be a better place
  2. Let’s make more podcasts to help kids understand their world

Science isn’t a body of facts, its a process. At Tumble they see podcasts as a powerful education tool for a better future. The show tackles questions like ….Whats at the edge of the solar system? and…..What would earth be like with no volcanoes?

I reviewed the episode Discover the Wildlife of Your Home, a look into the bugs in YOUR home or neighborhood.

The episode asks listeners what bugs they see in their homes and what they do when they see them. Guest host ecologist Rob Dunn, along with other scientists started tracking bugs found in houses. They found an average of 100 different species of bugs in the average house!Things like spiders, dust mites and mites that eat dust mites, a whole ecosystem in the nooks and crannies of your home.

Lindsay and Marshall suggest going on your own indoor bug expedition, starting at the light fixtures and windows, areas of light that bugs gravitate towards.


This episode asks kids to contribute to the body of research by documenting and uploading pictures of the bugs in your home to the app inaturalist a      ( citizen science projects), where other people can help you identify the bugs in your home.

The show encourages scientific exploration and features a new activity at the end of each episode.

Tumble believes in constantly asking questions, a theme in all of the Podcasts reviewed….stay curious

For EVEN MORE great Science podcasts you can listen to with kids click this link. And here is another list of great podcasts that cover all sorts of themes.


Our cohort had the opportunity on Tuesday to visit Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt’s class at George Jay Elementary. Rebecca is co-author of the book Inquiry Mindset, a guide to “harnessing the power of curiosity to foster students learning from their youngest years”. Since our visit to PSII I have been wondering what inquiry would look like in an elementary classroom so not only did I find this visit inspiring, it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how I might use inquiry in my classroom .


Rebecca gave a great presentation on #Inquirymindset , we learned about moving from guided to independent inquiry and the importance of curiosity in learning. Curiosity leads to questions which leads to discovery and learning. There are so many ways to inspire curiosity, what Rebecca calls a “provocation”. Her resources are jam packed with tools for guiding inquiry for all ages.

Rebecca gave us some provocations that may inspire questions in our students…..

A photo

Wikipedia Zairon – CCBYSA4.0

A Giphy

A book

There are many other provocations that may stimulate students curiosity, rekindle prior knowledge or tap into what they are passionate about. Rebecca suggested pairing these provocations with the questions below.

Rebecca was full of great advice, one thing she mentioned a couple of times that really stuck with me is that it may take a couple of years to fully embrace inquiry into our classroom and that is OK! Many thanks to Rebecca for not only having me in her class but providing me with some simple ways to support inquiry based learning in the elementary classroom.

Native Plant Workshop

 One of the other future teachers in our cohort Shaylin sent me a link to a Native Plant workshop put on by the Campus Community Garden here at Uvic. The event featured elder Earl Claxton Jr. and PEPAḴIYE Ashley Cooper from PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ Native Plants & Garden Program located at the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School in Brentwood Bay. ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ has 279 registered students from the 4 W̱SÁNEĆ  communities, TSARTLIP. PAUQUACHIN, TSEYCUM and TSAWOUT. The garden program teaches W̱SÁNEĆ kids and youth about traditional food skills which includes traditional food ecosystems as well as vegetable gardening.

Facebook- Community Campus Garden

It was Earl Claxton Jr’s father Earl Claxton that wrote The Saanich Year (the book used I in my post on The 13 Moons of the Saanich Year ) and grandmother Elsie Claxton who collaborated with Nancy Turner on the book Saanich Ethnobotany which has been my guide for my inquiry into the native plants of the Saanich Peninsula.

Education Coordinator PEPAḴIYE Ashley Cooper (TSARTLIP First Nation) is a graduate of the W̱,SENĆOŦEN,IST and Indigenous Language Revitalization Program (UVic). Ashley has worked to infuse SENĆOŦEN into the Native Plants and Garden program, she has also developed curriculum for the program. Her online educational resources foster the interconnections between language and land and can be found here or you can email her at
pepakiye@gmail.com for more info on resources for your classroom.

Earl and PEPAḴIYE brought four plants with them from the greenhouses at PEPAKEN HAUTW . Ashley told us a bit about the plants, using their
SENĆOŦEN names and Earl told W̱SÁNEĆ  legends and stories about his life on the Peninsula.

Below is a picture of each plant along with its common name. In my next post I will dive a little deeper into the traditional knowledge around each plant with the help of my Saanich Ethnobotany book.

Wild Strawberries

Nodding Onion

Devils Club

Blue Camas

Ashley also brought some Stinging Nettle seeds and Thimble berry cuttings. After the talk we were all invited to plant the cuttings and seeds with pots and dirt provided by the Campus Community Garden.

Earl handed out his business card, text him for your lesson or event

A set of Plant Knowledge Cards have recently been published through Strong Nations. The 72 card set highlights 65 edible and medicinal plants that can be found on southern Vancouver Island. The cards describe the traditional uses and harvesting details of each plant and features 3 Indigenous languages. These cards would make a great classroom resource and can be purchased at strongnations.com .

The Uvic Campus Community Garden (CCG) provides services like the Giving Garden program that delivers fresh vegetables to Uvic students at no cost, they also put on regular free skill building workshops, like the Native Plant workshop I attended throughout the year. Some of you may have heard about the UVSS referendum coming up on March 6th to 8th. CCG needs you to vote in the upcoming referendum to increase the amount of funding they receive so they can continue to provide services to the the Uvic community.

Creative Commons

We spent our last class learning about copyright and creative commons. If your like me you have probably heard the word copyright or seen the little symbol but are unclear about what it all means. While doing a bit of my own research I came across this site that breaks it down and makes it easier to understand. Here’s the basics….

So what the heck is copyright anyway? Copyright provides legal protection for original work that you create in a “tangible medium of expression” (picture, painting, written work, data file etc.). As soon as you have created it, it has instant legal protection.

Once you have written it you can either keep it all to yourself or you can give it away. If you decide you want to give it away there are many many ways to do that and they all fall into two categories: licences and assignments.

The first way to give your copyright away is as an assignment. You can think of an assignment as selling your copyright. Whoever purchases it can do what they want with it.

The other way to give away your copyright is through a licence. A licence means you are lending the rights to someone, you decide how they use it and for how long.

This is where Creative Commons comes in…. it is a licence that is applied to work protected by copyright. Essentially a way to easily share copyrighted work.

Creative Commons symbol

Creative Commons, a non-profit organization allows people to licence their copyrighted work to anyone who is willing to follow the licencing terms.

How do you use Creative Commons (CC)?
Follow this link and search for media, pictures and more that you can share, use and/or remix. Creative Commons licencing uses four basic restrictions or rules that need to be followed when using copyrighted work from the commons. These four restrictions each have symbols that will come up when you search CC for a copyrighted work to use. The four symbols/restrictions are:

Attribution: This requires people who use your work to let all other people who see it that it is yours and not theirs. No cutting out your name. All Creative Commons licences carry the attribution requirement.

CC Attribution symbol

Non Commercial: This means they are not using your work commercially which means “no private monetary value” gained.

CC Non Commercial symbol

No Derivatives: People can use your work as long as its not modified.

CC No Derivatives symbol

Share Alike: Allows other people to modify your work as long as they allow others to use and share the work they created from your work.

CC Share Alike symbol

Here is a link to a Wikipedia page on best practices for attribution that can help you properly attribute pictures you may use on your own blog.

Here is an example of attribution which follows this sequence – where you found it/ username of person/ licence type

flickr@USDAgov – CCBY2.0

Musical Growth

It took me a while to choose a song for my musical growth plan. I wanted a song that was challenging (voice cracks on the high notes) yet achievable (no Florence Welch or Whitney Houston). In 2010 a friend of mine played a Youtube video of Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg covering folk band The Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song while sitting in the forest with a guitar, their voices in perfect harmony. Soon after this video was posted on YouTube the sisters (then teenagers) formed the band First Aid Kit and I have been a fan of their music ever since. They have released four albums since then with so many good tunes but Emmylou is still my favorite and the song I chose to perfect over the next couple of months.

My midterm goal was to sing the whole chorus in tune with First Aid Kit.

I was given the opportunity to have one on one voice instruction with Ines our Music in the Elementary Classroom Professor. The chorus starts off on a high note and I found it a challenge to to get my voice there on the first note so Ines gave me some visuals to help me “place my voice” and use my “head voice” (singing voice) instead of my “chest voice” (speaking voice).

Sing through your eyes

Imagining that the sound is coming out of your eyes focuses the sound into your head rather than your chest which will help you to reach those higher notes by thinking above the note

Project your voice

Picturing a person jumping off of a diving board while you sing can help you to project your voice into those higher notes

Breathe in as though you are drinking out of a straw

In order to have enough air in your lungs to push the notes out, put your mouth into the same shape that you would if you were drinking out of a straw. This makes your breath go into your stomach rather than your chest allowing for deeper breaths. You will know you are breathing into your stomach when you can see/feel your belly rising with each breath. If your shoulders are rising it means you are breathing into your chest and not your stomach and your breath will be too shallow.

Originally I had planned on allocating half an hour to my singing practice every day. I found it was difficult to find time each day to practice singing, especially half an hour! I don’t have my car on the road anymore (a place I did most of my singing) so I decided that I would practice every day while I did the dishes, playing the song 3 times, practising just the chorus, a much more manageable time limit.

Sing while you clean

For some reason I thought that when I took a breath in between lyrics it had to be silent so that the future microphone would not pick up the loud inhale of breath which means that I was not getting enough oxygen to sing. During my second lesson Ines told me not to worry at all about being loud when breathing in. As soon as I focused more on getting enough air in my lungs instead of the sound my singing vastly improved, not only was I able to get enough oxygen I was able to hit the notes and sing the chorus in tune!

My goal for the end of semester is to be able to sing the verse (everything that is not the chorus) in tune. There are some higher, longer notes than the chorus but practice makes perfect.

13 Moons of the Saanich Year

Seasonal rounds refers to the the WSANEC peoples movement from one resource gathering area to another, this movement is cyclical following the cycles of the moon. In the spring, summer and fall the people would be moving throughout their territory collecting and processing different resources while in the winter they would gather in their winter villages. The seasonal harvesting activities depended on abundance, if there was a great abundance of a resource they would stay longer and if there was insufficient resources they would move on to the next area.

Here is a link to a unit on The Saanich Year put together by SD 63

SSIS,ET – The Elder Moon (December)

The Elder’s hair holds and shields the elderly people who share the teachings, the beliefs, the history and the culture with the children who are gathered in the warmth of the firelight.

The winter moon, with short days and stormy weather, the people spent most of their time indoors. Travel on the ocean was unpredictable and potentially dangerous.Dried fish and berries stored from the previous year sustained the people during this time.” People ventured out to gather fuel and to hunt the overwintering ducks and geese, to fish for code and grilse (young salmon), and to collect clams and other shellfish”. (pg.25) Time indoors was spent making netting (from nettle stems), carving canoes as well as making baskets for the upcoming harvesting seasons. Children spent the short days listening to stories told to them by the elders about the right way to live. During this time spiritual and cultural activities took place in the longhouses.

NINENE – Moon of the Child ( January)

The face of the young man represents youth, a new beginning, the rebirth of the animal world, and the new edible shoots. This is the Saanich New Year. The moon’s yellow hair is the returning light to the world.

The days are getting longer and the world starts its rebirth, this is the beginning of the Saanich year. The days are still cold and stormy but there are a few sunny days. Families begin to assemble their reef nets for the coming fishing season. They still relied mostly on their stored food but would begin to venture out, fishing for spring (chinook) salmon, halibut and seals. This is the season when fawns were born, so the people stopped hunting doe’s at this time. Story-telling and ceremonial dances continued long into the night.

WEXES – Moon of the Frog (February)

The frog on the face of the moon represents DOLUANW – The keeper of the sacred season

It is during this moon that the frogs wake up and start to sing at night, announcing the coming of spring. The earth is beginning to warm up, people are putting their canoes back into the water and travelling longer distances. They fish for cod, gilse, Spring Salmon, halibut and especially herring. They harvested herring roe by placing cedar boughs in the water where the herring spawned, the earliest runs of spawning herring were in Fulford Harbour off of Saltspring Island. While collecting herring row the people would also catch ducks, putting duck nets in the narrow passages between islands. Potential reef net sights were surveyed as the nets were beign repaired and assembled. The winter ceremonials dances were coming to an end as people began to spend more time outside.

PEXSISEN – Moon of Opening Hands, Blossoming Out Moon (March – April)

All plants and trees are opening up their hands again and the moon meets their welcome

Blossoms and leaves begin to open. The days are getting longer, there is more sun which is necessary to dry the food being harvested. People used floating nets to hunt and preserve the Brant Geese (XELXELJ) in their feeding grounds. Mussels, clams and oysters were also harvested. Cedar trees were felled and the women stripped the bark for weaving clothing and mats. A long time ago people had small, wooly dogs and this was the time of the year when they began to shed. The women would collect and spin their fur for blankets.

SXANEL – Bullhead Moon (April)

This moon represents the visibility of SXÁNEL or what westerners call Orion’s Belt. The moon’s hair represents a strong wind that comes at this time and the swallows that arrive with the wind.

During this moon big bullheads (large-headed bottom fish) appear on the shore and a big wind arrives. People spent most of their time on the water. The older women would spear the bullheads (SKA) from under the rocks. This was also the time to harvest seaweed. People stopped fishing for halibut because they spawned during this moon but they could snare almost full grown grouse in the woods. Around this time young shoots of horsetail, cow-parsnip, salmonberry, and thimbleberry were harvested and eaten. They provided the people with vitamin C and were welcomed as fresh greens.

PENAWEN – Moon of the Camas Harvest (May)

This moon is the moon of the camas harvest. It is time to dig KLO,EL (camas). The camas bulb illustration is shown on the cheek of the moon and in the palm of his hand. The blue plant with the bulb underneath the ground is the whole camas plant.

People traveled all over their territory to dig camas bulbs or “wild carrots” and other root vegetables. Seagulls nested in the camas grounds on many of the islands so the people would gather fresh egg at this time as well. Purple and green sea urchins were also gathered to eat. During this moon people would fish for cod, Spring Salmon, grilse and deep water halibut.

CENTEKI – Sockeye Moon (May -June)

This moon is the same colour as the pale grey sockeye salmon. The sockeye returns during this moon. The Salish art design represents the tide running swiftly through the reef net which is tied to the two canoes (SXELSCET).

The sockeye salmon returned during this moon. The reef nets that the people had been working on were put into place and a ceremony was held when the first salmon was caught. This is also when you will hear the Sawnson Thrushes singing. Strawberries, salmonberries and other berries are beginning to ripen. It is said that it is the song of the Thrush that puts the color into the salmonberries. The WSANEC people were able to catch sockeye about a month before other First Nations because they had access to the straits, during this month the WSANEC people traded salmon with other nations.

CENHENEN – Humpback Salmon Return to the Earth (June -July)

The illustration is half salmon and half human. The darts show the tidal waters that are used to catch salmon. The child carrying the salmon represents the first salmon ceremony in honour of the salmon. Saanich People humble themselves to the salmon.

During this time the grass and forests are dry and fire is a danger. People travelled far, both around their own and others territory to fish for humpback salmon. Great feasts where the WSANEC people shared their harvest with neighbours and relatives from other villages were held where ‘people traded, courted and exchanged ideas and informaiton” (27). Men hunted elk and deer while women collected blackberries, strawberries, red huckleberries and wild gooseberries.

CENTAWEN – Coho Salmon Return to the Earth (August)

The illustration shows the face of the Coho and the human together. The face of the Coho/human is to remind the Saanich Peoples that the salmon were human at one time. The swift running tide picture illustrates where the salmon travel. The camp is the home away from permanent home for the Saanich Peoples.

The Coho return to their streams as the rains help to fill the creeks and rivers. People fished for lingcod and tomcod. The weather is beginning to cool and deer hunting season begins. Indian Celery seed is harvested and stored, it has medicinal and ceremonial uses as well as for flavoring fish and meat. This is prime time for Salal berries, saskatoon berries, thimbleberries, blackcaps, stink currants and other fruits. These berries would dried in cakes for winter use and eaten fresh. 

CENQOLEW  – Dog Salmon Return to the Earth (September)

The colours are Dog Salmon (ochre red). The men are returning the bones of the salmon to the sea, with thanks, in the belief that the bones will come to life and replenish the salmon stocks. The man raises his oar to show honour and respect to our relative, the salmon, who helps us survive.

Dog (chum) salmon return to the rivers to spawn as the windy, rainy weather begins. Seals and Sea Lions are hunted on the sea and deer and grouse are hunted on land. Cod fishing is at its peak. The people smoke the fish they have caught to preserve them for winter. Wild crabapples and hazelnuts would have been picked at this time. Root vegetable like silverweed and springbank clover were dug. Women gathered clams, made blankets and rush mats from tule and cattail. They began to stockpile wood for the winter months.

PEKELANEW – Moon that Turns the Leaves White/Faded (October)

This is the moon of the turning white season (frost). This moon brings the first frost. The leaves lose their colours and turn pale. Deer hunting is the activity during this moon. The earth is cooling down and the people turn their efforts to hunting

This moon represents the end of the harvest season. The leaves are beginning to fall to the ground as the nights become longer and cooler. People split logs for fuel, canoes and building materials. They hunted seals and sea lions in the San Juan Islands and prepared for elk hunting season. The very last of the berries and fruits are harvested.

WESELANEW – Moon of the Shaker Leaves (October – November)

The leaves are ready to fall. The wind comes. Turbulence is felt in the waters and the skies. The earth is cooling down.

People keep close to their winter villages during this month as the winter weather begins. Most of the harvested food had been preserved and stored away. People only fished close to home. After the first snowfall the people would hunt elk in the mountains as they were easier to track. Winter gatherings began at this time.

SJELCASEN – Moon of Putting your Paddle Away in the Bush (November – December)

This moon is the season of strong winds. The weather is unpredictable, making it unsafe to travel. It is time to put the big sea canoes and paddles away. It is time to honour the paddle for carrying one safely all season long. Snow is possible at this time of year. The long house activities start.

The winter months, people stayed home sheltered form the winter storms. Sometimes they would venture out at low tide to dig clams. All the materials that had been stored during the months of harvest are brought out and worked. The women wove mat, capes and baskets while the men made their fishing nets, boxes, tools and fishing gear. The people began to eat the food they had stored during the harvest season. Winter ceremonies began and the children once again got to listen to stories from their elders.