Where Streetview ends…


…people kick in.

Yesterday was such a beautiful and so we thought that we’d take a drive to Leamington and visit the beautiful Point Pelee National Park.  The temperature was in the low 20s and the sun incredibly bright and it was just perfect for taking some photographs.

Off I went with, as friend @pbeens would say, my good camera.  I think that I got some great shots that afternoon.  I put them all together in a set here on my Flickr account.

Welcome

I even paused and held my camera steady enough to capture a little of the action at The Tip.  The Tip is really unique as the water from the east meets the water from the west.  It results in wave action that you’ll never see anywhere else.  The whole area is a unique study as you can walk from an east beach to a west beach in a matter of minutes and see the difference that prevaling winds can make on sand.

West Beach
West Side "Beach"

East Beach
East Side Beach

No trip is complete without a walk through the Boardwalk which takes you into the marsh.  On a regular summer day, you can see all kinds of birds, water snakes, and turtles. 

Boardwalk

Oddly enough, all that was around was a little frog and he hopped across while I had the lens cap on my camera.  I really did have my hopes up for some wildlife shots as the "Turtle crossing" signs were up.  No luck.

The real treat is to get to The Tip.  South of the 42nd parallel, it is the southern most part of mainland Canada.  It is a living, moving entity and always a surprise to see.  It’s in a very protected area of the park only accessible by foot or a shuttle from the Visitor Centre.  A few years ago, The Tip was actually a little nub as erosion and water levels had covered most of it.  It was terrific to see it back during this visit.  When we first arrived, we were about the only people there, resulting in a great photo opportunity.

The Southernmost part of Canada

Much more appears in the complete photo set.  As I was admiring my pictures, I started to get curious.  Google’s Streetview is virtually everywhere.  I wonder if they had photo-mapped the park.  As I moved my little yellow dude around, it appears that the camera didn’t make it past the gates.  Instead, the entire park is documented with pictures contributed by others.  Of particular interest is The Tip and there are many images that you’ll find there from all seasons.  I like this particular one as it clearly shows the different shape of the tip.

What a terrific demonstration of how this unique location changes.  Look how there are waves coming on shore from both directions.

Also, what a great spirit of pulling together.  Between Streetview and the contributions of others, we can investigate areas and entities together.  Is there no end to our quest for exploration?

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links for 2010-09-29


Special Education Gateway


The Ontario Teachers’ Federation has made available an incredible resource for Ontario teachers.  It’s called the “Teachers’ Gateway to Special Education”.

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At the opening splash screen, enter the English or French side to a wealth of resources.  In one spot, you can quickly zero in on any need, exceptionality or diagnosed condition.

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For each, you’ll be presented with teaching strategies, suggestions for classroom organization for best results, and suggestions for assessment.

The resource is absolutely huge and can’t help but be a valuable toolkit for teachers and classrooms making the adjustments necessary to allow each student to achieve her/his potential.

What  I found interesting as I explored the resource was that many of the suggestions and resources would be helpful for all students.  This is a real goldmine with all of the content in one location.

If you have a strategy that isn’t found within the resource, the site has you covered there as well.  There is a mechanism for you to share what works for you.  The promise is that it will be professionally reviewed and then incorporated in future revisions to the site.

Special Education teachers will undoubtedly find the resource something that they turn to regularly.  However, the wisdom and resources are something that are of benefit to all.

http://www.teachspeced.ca

links for 2010-09-28


Lost in the Clouds


A couple of weeks ago, Miguel Guhlin posted an entry that made me sit up and think about Diigo.  His reflections were about the decision that Diigo had made to start to offer premium accounts and how he was going to handle it personally.  He’s a pretty sharp guy and his post really should be read and thought through.  As you use web based services, have you really planned for every eventuality?

In many industries, we see cycle growth and I think that we all know about the bubble and burst that is common in business.  And yet, we continue to use the free resources that are available to us without a whole lot of thought about their continuity.  Then, all of a sudden, a major decision like the one that Ning made recently hits and there is outrage and feelings of betrayal for all of the loyalty given to a brand for their free offering.

There is a danger and it could happen at any moment.  As end users, we don’t necessarily know or care about a business plan.  We look for easy sign up, snappy response, functionality, and the reliability that the resource (and our data) is available the moment that we need it.  What happens when that’s not there?  We screen and holler and click harder to get it to work.  When it’s not available, it can seem catastrophic.  Witness the reactions when Facebook was unavailable last week.

Once we step back from the passion that we have for these free services, we really need to take a common sense approach to its use.  The glamour of having everything in "the cloud" is there.  Of that, there’s no question.  But, what’s the real cost?  Yes, there are those services available for an extra fee.  But, as Mr. Guhlin notes, we all have limits on our disposable income.  If that’s not there for the masses, what’s a company to do?  Not everyone can sit around and wait to be bought out by a Microsoft or a Google.

The price that we all seem to be OK with is embedded advertising.  While there were times that we wrestled with the concept of providing advertising for applications that students use, it seems to be an annoyance that we can put up with.  As school districts embrace social networking, it’s will be more "in your face".  A simplistic solution would be to ban its entire use; a more realistic one is to help students recognize it for what it is.  It’s the same reality that they’re going to have when they get home so it’s an opportunity for a little media literacy.

It’s also an opportunity for a little business plan literacy.  I awoke this morning to an article that indicates that Xmarks will be closing down its services.  The blog entry entitled "End of the Road for Xmarks" can be read here.  It’s not a quick or easy read but rather a history of the popular bookmark synchronization service.  While it doesn’t offer answers, it does open a window for insights to the other side of the story.

I found both articles referenced in this post very interesting and helpful to frame the issue.  I’m no closer to solving the ills of the online world, but both articles do provide some very well articulated insights.  If I’m teaching a BTT, BTA, or BTX course that uses or relies on cloud services, it would be a great starting point for debate, discussion, and hopefully a deeper understanding of how things really work.

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links for 2010-09-27


Career Aspirations


I spent a couple of hours yesterday watching #educationnation and reading and participating a bit in the Twitter back channel.  All of this while the Minnesota Vikings were playing football and that should give you an indication of my passion for teaching.  If you know me, you know how much I like my Vikings…

But, I stuck with the show and the back channel.  I didn’t participate at the level that I would normally since the discussion was around the American educational system, teacher unions, and a number of things that I really couldn’t comment on without context.

The notion that teachers were not necessarily organized was really foreign to me.  All my teaching career, I was a proud member of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation first with District 34 and then District 9.  I can’t imagine a system where working conditions and benefits aren’t collectively negotiated for the benefit of the system.  I believe that it leads to stability in one’s life and ultimately one’s community knowing that you’re not a transient worker and that you can invest in home and community.

It quite bothered me listening to some of the comments coming from some of the panel members and, indeed, from teachers stepping up to the microphone.  Some of the negative comments about colleagues will undoubtedly make for interesting staff room discussions today.  The personal attacks really surprised me.  I thought immediately of a comment that Wayne Hulley once made along the lines of “nobody wakes up wondering how I’m going to screw up today”.

It seems to me that true professionalism will only come when those involved are all on the same side, all rowing in the same direction.  This includes teachers, administrators, principals, parents, and the bonus comes when you manage to get students onside as well.  Maybe I’m just an idealist but I’ve always felt that way.  As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.  I’ve admired the teachers that were in my life and wanted to be just like them.  Playing an online game with my daughter tonight led me to this screen.

occupationsFrom:  Family Feud Online

I thought it was so appropriate since one discussion point in all of this is a movie entitled “Waiting for ‘Superman’”.  Where in this list is the greatest profession of all “Teacher”?

If you watched the show, and believed the content, you’d walk away with the wrong impression.  I can tell you – there ARE incredible classrooms, there ARE incredible teachers, there ARE incredible administrators, there ARE supportive parents – you know that.

In a way, I suppose that having the conversation is good.  People are talking about education and that doesn’t happen regularly.  But, I would implore those having the discussion – let’s also focus on what’s working and working well and could be working better.  I don’t think anyone is naive enough to think that there’s not room for improvement for everyone and every situation.  Let’s also celebrate the successes and understand why they are that way.  Let’s replicate it with best practices that we know work and work well.  Let’s offer workable solutions that will reap the benefits.

It would be nice if things would turn and “Teacher” becomes the #1 answer when the above question is asked in the future.

links for 2010-09-26


Money


Aw, money.  Something that we all work for and something that you can never have enough of.  It’s a topic that is so rich in materials and concepts.  It is something that all students not only are exposed to but should master.  In fact, it’s a work in progress from the Ministry of Education.  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/surveyLiteracy.html.

Don’t students learn about this in Business class?  Absolutely.  The problem is that it’s not a compulsory course for secondary school students.  Not to leap too far from the topic at hand but I do believe that at least one course in business literacy and another in focused computer literacy should be compulsory – it was for my kids…

Back to the topic.

At our disposal, we have some incredible resources:

The history of money and coins has alway fascinated me.  These resources are a start to more great reading.

For classroom ideas?  This resource hosted by the University of Western Ontario provides some terrific resources for use by Ontario educators.  If you’re looking for ideas, check it out.

links for 2010-09-25