Something about Leamington


There’s lots about Leamington that makes it one of my favourite places. 

And yet, it makes my satellite radio and GPS go wonky.

I love the town’s unique features.  Down to the dock, on the beach, out to the tip of Point Pelee, and one of my favourite gift shops is on the way to Point Pelee National Park.  You can always count on picking up a cardinal knick-knack for a gift.  There’s even a roundabout for a different driving experience.

But, try to listen to satellite radio and there are all kinds of drop outs.  You expect it when you’re surrounded by large buildings but not while driving elsewhere.  Similarly, it’s the only place where my GPS plots me driving beside the road instead of on it.

There’s just something about Leamington!  It’s one of my favourite places for all of the traditional things and now it’s a favourite because I enjoy solving puzzles!  Help me XM and Mio.

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How to Blog


Blogging is easy. In fact, Blogspot calls it one click publishing and it really is that easy.

To create your first blog and your first blog entry anyway.

The challenge is how to keep it up. That’s the hard part. Why are some blogs bookmarked or RSSed (ARgh! – my apologies English teachers) and others are dismissed? I know what I like and who I follow.

Chris Brogan’s post puts it in perspective.

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/10-blogging-tips/

They never quite cover this in blogging school! It also explains to me why I like some and ignore others.

It also explains why I’m the poster child for #6 in my own blog.

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Embarrassment to Improve School?


From this morning’s Toronto Sun comes this story.

http://www.torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2008/04/27/5401181-sun.html

In an educational world where schools receive ranking, there will always be a first, and there will be the others. The unfortunate thing is that when statistics and ranking are involved, there will be someone who is at the bottom of the list.

Ever the optimist, I can’t believe that an entire school population wakes up in the morning and wonders “How can we mess up today?”

I think that it’s a credit to the students, staff, and school community that they are taking exception to the results from the Frasier Institute and doing something about it.

It’s also not all about the academics. It’s great to see that the school now fields a football team. It’s the entire picture and offering that makes a school a community.

Kudos to the students and staff as they take on the challenge.

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Top tools for Learning


Interesting list of the top tools for Spring 2008. How many of these do you use?

http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html

It’s scarey to go through the list. I find that I use many of them for my own personal use to help me learn. Many are unavailable or blocked when I’m at work though. That means that we need to find alternatives?

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Teaching Logic


One of the frustrating things is watching someone go and perform an internet search with the simple tools. i.e. go to the front page of Yahoo! or Google or your favourite search engine where you have the most basic of search tools. Type in a word, cross your fingers, and hope that you find something. You’ll find something. Sometimes it’s even relevant. Many times, it isn’t. How often do YOU find what you want?

Every search engine has an advanced page. From this page, you can perform more advanced searching, limiting to certain types of resources, certain dates, etc. Unfortunately, not all advanced pages look the same. But, under the hood, they all essentially work the same way.

One of the most powerful features is that they all incorporate some form of boolean logic to help refine the search. Effective searchers know how to use boolean logic. How do you teach it? I’m old enough to know about truth tables. They have to be right up there with the very worst of all-time yawners.

Enter Boolify. With Boolify, not only do you have the ability to apply Boolean logic directly, but it’s done in full colour, with icons that you drag into place to build your search equation.

Incredibly SMART Board friendly, try teaching students how to become better searchers using Boolify. Heck, try it yourself to refresh in your mind just what logic can do for you. You’ll be glad you did.

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Live Blogging from ECO Schools


ECO Schools will be held this year at the beautiful Caboto Club.  We’re in the Windsor Room downstairs and the room is ready to go.  For three hours of the student and teacher time, literally weeks have gone into the preparation for today.  Yesterday, Don and I started setup about 1:00pm and I left at 6:30pm.  Facility Services and Media Services were still doing their setup and Don was going through last minute details with his ECO team.  No idea when he went home.

The place looks great.

This morning, we have reps from Riverside, Sandwich West, Sandwich, Century, Lakeshore Discovery, Eastwood, Western, Mout Carmetl-Blytheswood, LaSalle, Talbot Trail, PASS, Forest Glade, Hetherington, Concord, and Taylor in attendance.  In addition to the schools, there will be participants from the TD Bank, Point Pelee, Essex Region Conservation Authority, and the Ojibway Nature Centre.

There are round tables for the audience, displays, a stage with a couple of screens and four SMART Board stations positioned strategically around the room.  There are smaller breakout rooms ready but less setup was required for them.  Looks like it’s a go – all we need are the participants.

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ECO Schools


We’re about to embark upon an interesting adventure. With ECO Schools, this year’s focus is on greening. Not necessarily just going out and buying tulips but to analyze individual school ground for various patterns like sun/shade, wind tendencies, etc. and more. The goal is to make intelligent decisions about where and what to use in greening for sustainability.

I was approached by our Science and Technology consultant about how to do this.

The original though was to use overhead projector and marking pens. Quickly, we ditched that concept.

Geography is the world of layers. So, we threw that and SMART Boards into the mix and came up with what I think will be a killer day.

Here’s what’s about to happen.

We have created Notebook files with overhead images of school properties and created one for each school with their own images. Each school’s Notebook has multiple pages of their property. Working with a key teacher, principal, community partner and importantly, a group of students, they will analyze their school and create overlays. One will identify active and passive play areas; another looks at sun paths and shade areas in the morning, noon, and afternoon; another looks at permanent structures; another at existing growing areas; and so on. Using each page, the group will use the SMART Board and the legend that we created to outline the various areas.

Each one of these pages becomes a layer which will be added to a composite diagram. Eventually, all of the layers will be brought to the composite layer so that a complete picture of the grounds can be seen. They’ll be properly identified and from there decisions about greening can be made. There will be some interesting things that come from this, we hope. Why is that area of the playground so hot? If we had to plant a tree to protect from UV, where would it go? Certainly not in the middle of a pathway!

In addition to the mapping layers, there are a number of activities that we’ve pulled from the Gallery to incorporate mathematics, literacy, and social studies into the already rich area of science. Each mapping layer also has a page for taking notes. The completed document should serve as a starting point for future conversations about greening and sustainability.

So, each of the school groups will be brought to a central location to work through this and some other activities with corporate and environmental partners. It will take three days with each school taking half a day to get started before returning to the school to devise ways to collect the required information.

When it’s all done, the Notebook will allow for printing, creating PDF files or even webpages to display the results. I think it’s going to be exciting and it all starts in about four hours. I’ll update this post tonight to record my observations from Day 1.

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