Michelle’s Been Busy – #BIT14


Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to join Michelle Cordy in an interview with #BIT14 keynote speaker, Richard Byrne.  You can read about it here.

Since that time, she’s been busy with a couple more interviews related to the Bring IT, Together Conference.

In addition to Richard, she’s interviewed George Couros and talked about his keynote address “Leading Innovative Change” and his leadership session “The Networked Leader“.  If you missed the interview, you can enjoy it here.

Her microphone had barely cooled off when she was back at it again.  

This time, she connected with Heather Durnin and David Hann.  At the #BIT14 Conference, Heather will be presenting “Three Dimensions in Student Learning“.  David will be presenting “How to make use of a Makerbot 3D Printer in Your School – Year II“.

You can enjoy that interview here.

Excitement is building as we get closer to the Bring IT, Together Conference.  Michelle nicely works the interview process to really tease us about the great learning that will happen.

Registration is still open – you can register through the website and read about these sessions and all of the other great happenings at the three day conference here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here are some of the great thoughts from the fingers of Ontario Edubloggers recently…

Guided Reading Should Be Happening Every Day

Bill Forrester’s blog is a new addition to the Ontario Blog collection.  In his most recent post, he talks about supporting colleagues with guided reading and admits that it wasn’t always a regular routine for his classroom.

Now, as a support person, he’s seeing the value of this as a regular activity.

In the post, look for some online resources to support the technique.


Volume = Length * Width * Height

Alex Overwijk’s blog is another new one to the group.  Welcome, Alex.

I thought this was a rather unique approach.  He shares a lesson that his students did dealing with volume and how they addressed the concept of volume using manipulatives.

Now, that’s a great approach but not entirely new.

What I liked though was taking the image and posting it to Twitter to get some thoughts from other connected educators.  He shares some of the responses.  Very interesting.  Would you be so bold as to post pictures of your hands-on activities in this manner?


Discovery in Primary Math

I think that the power of social media for sharing goes well over the top when lessons are shared.  Alex did above and Jen Aston describes a three-part math activity that she did recently with a split 1/2 class.

Check out the video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuIJQsV-L5s and then head off to Jen’s blog to read the rest of the story about her activity.

It sounds like so much fun.


How Social Media Can Help Increase Social Capital For Students and Their Families

I think that Tracy Bachellier nails it when she talks about the use of social media and “social capital”.  I love this quote that she embedded in the middle of her thoughts.

“It allows me to organize people a lot faster, to check people out for things I might want them to do. It allows people to find me, or if I want to get advice from people, the fastest way is to get them through facebook or twitter. There’s a lot of convenience involved in interacting with people over social media.” ~ Aimee Morrison, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature (Digital Culture), University of Waterloo

Traditional media takes so long to get results.  By the time it’s researched, vetted, edited and ultimately published, the original premise may well be old news.  Tracy identifies a number of benefits in her post that go well beyond that.

  • Social media helps overcome time and distance barriers
  • Social media builds upon existing ties and relationships
  • Social media facilitates new connections and collaboration
  • Social media provides a platform for advocacy, collective practice and action
  • Social media enhances social participation and engagement

Think about the traditional, controlled techniques of the past.  Buy a book, read it, implement it, review the technique sometime.

The immediacy and potentials that social media affords, as Tracy notes, are just too many and too big to ignore.  If we’re really going to stay on top of the latest and most effective techniques, being connected has to be the solution.  The downside is, as always, equity but we’re getting around that.  I did a quick look around the county here and there are some communities that are using internet voting for the upcoming elections.  A community obviously sees the power and is making it available for all – why can’t we model that in education?


La voix des élèves

You know, a lot of people talk about Student Voice.  Others ignore it.  Some pay lip service.

johanne

This blog post reinforces the need to listen to what is said.  Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make such a big difference.


Using Intelligent Agents in D2L to Enhance Your Online Course

One of my favourite activities when was the DeLC for my district was going to regional meetings and partake in the learning and sharing that was happening.  It’s easy to feel so inferior because there’s so much to learn about online learning.

The Desire2Learn LMS was continually evolving but we thought that we’d struck gold when we first learned how to set release conditions during a course.  In this blog post, Rod Murray shares a number of resources about the “Intelligent Agents” in D2L.  Whether you know them all or not, it’s still a nice review.

Rod


Again, there was some absolutely wonderful thinking and sharing in my reading this week.  I hope that you can take a moment or to and give these posts a little social media love.  Their thoughts are only a click away.  The complete collection is located here.  There’s always a wealth of thinking and sharing happening there.

Nerd Test


OK, you may need to take a break from the family and turkey.  (making an assumption here)

Or, maybe you just want to be the life of the party this Thanksgiving.

Or, maybe you always wanted to know your level of nerdiosity.

Self-help and analysis quizzes are pretty popular on Facebook these days.

But, they just scratch the surface.

Do you want to dig deeply into the inner you?  If so, then you need to take the Nerd Test, ver 2.0.

It will have you thinking…but you can have a badge when you’re done, if you want.  Here’s mine.


NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber-Dorky Nerd God.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

And, I am classified….

If you have compulsive tendencies for things like this, don’t look at the menu on the left side of the screen.

LEARNstyle at #BIT14


LEARNstyle has long been a good friend of ECOO and they will return to offer a full-day’s worth of activities this year.

In the past, you may have associated LEARNstyle with its Google and Assistive Technology content and training.  As we discussed a partnership this year with LEARNstyle, we pointed out that there are other offerings being used throughout the province.  LEARNstyle was quick to respond.  Their offerings this year will go far beyond a series of Google workshops.  (although there’s still plenty of Google there if you wish)

With their offerings, they’re truly headed to the Cloud.

There are essentially four areas where you’ll find LEARNstyle’s presence at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

  1. In the Exhibit Hall.  Again this year, drop by the LEARNstyle booth to talk with the Cunninghams and their staff about all of the areas that are supported.
  2. LEARNstyle’s CLOUD STYLE Conference (Google Focus)
    • Google Classroom, Google Chrome in the French Language Classroom, Strategies for Flipping a Classroom using Google tools
  3. LEARNstyle’s CLOUD STYLE Conference (Microsoft Focus)
    • Introduction to Microsoft in the Cloud, OneNote in the Classroom, Office 365 in the 21st Century
  4. LEARNstyle’s CLOUD STYLE UNconference-ENGLISH AND FRENCH
    • This will be a truly unique learning experience.  The format will follow that of an unconference where you can join conversations with others from around the province.  There will be an additional twist – some Ontario educational startup companies have been invited to demonstrate and talk about educational offerings that just might impact your classroom some day.  Here’s an opportunity for you to see things first and provide initial feedback about design and usability.

If that wasn’t enough, D.J. Cunningham, the CEO of LEARNstyle and Joe Wilson, Educational Strategist from the MaRS Discovery District will deliver keynote style presentations to all in attendance for the LEARNstyle events.

This is a really fluid, unique opportunity for Ontario Educators.  If you are interested in more than you can learn by yourself or through what your district currently offers, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so.  If you’ve never been to an unconference event like an edCamp, you can experience it here with the potential of making connections from all corners of the province, in both languages.

Maid of the Mist and #BIT14


This blog post from Google Canada came just in time.

From Sea to Shining Sea (and a whole lot in between), visit more of Canada’s Iconic Landmarks in Google Maps

Coast-to-coast, there’s now more of Canada’s amazing national and provincial parks to explore online. Today, Google Maps introduces over fifty new destinations to virtually visit in Street View. From Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, Canadians and people from around the world can now take in more of this country’s natural beauty in Google Maps.”

It was timely because I received an inquiry from a registrant from outside the BIT Conference wanting to know if the conference was going to be anywhere near the Falls as she had never seen them before and wanted to. Well, let me tell you…this offering from Google fills the bill nicely.

One of the “Iconic Landmarks” Google now makes available is Niagara Falls as seen from the Maid of the Mist boat!

So, hop aboard and navigate around and check out the awesome scenery.

Then move in nice and close to the falls — not too close.

Then, look up and to the right.

What are you looking at now?  Why, you’re looking at some of the conference hotels.

The conference centre is just behind them.

If you’re doing the Photowalk or Run with Alana, you’ll undoubtedly end up on the Falls side of the hotels so that you can see right into the beauty.

This offering from Google is awesome.  Follow the link and check out many famous places in Canada with the promise of more to come.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Ah, Friday.  Time to share some of the wonderful reading that I enjoyed on the blogs of Ontario Educators this past while.


Know the Difference Between a Good Online Course and a Poor One

Anthony Carabache wrote this post to describe how and where you should take Additional Qualification courses.

In the post, he identified 4 “culprits” that should be red flags for you.  As I read them, I started to think of any course that uses technology and I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t think that Additional Qualification courses have a monopoly on them though.  If you’re using any technology whatsoever, you’d be well advised to analyze using these “culprits”.

Culprit #1 – PDF’s and Word Docs - A wise man once shared with me “PDFs are where ideas go to die…”.  Today, that has even more relevance.  Any LMS or sharing device should allow you to have dynamic content that can be changed at a moment’s notice.  I’m an over the top zealot for wikis.  But then, maybe I’m just so unprofessional that I don’t get it right the first time.  If it was perfect, a PDF would suffice because you can use it over and over and over, ad nauseum.


September: New Beginnings

The last sentence in this paragraph from Heather Touzin is disturbing…

Of all of the areas of education with the promise and the actual delivery of technology in the classroom, the use of Assistive Technology has made absolute and complete changes with students.  The technology has never been better.  With faster processors on computers and more sophisticated software and peripherals, school should hold so much promise for these students.

Unfortunately, at the secondary school level, it’s not uncommon to see students abandoning its use.  To be frank, given BYOD initiatives and effective use of technology in all areas, the student using Assistive Technology should fit into the classroom easier.  Technology for everyone has learned from the use with students who require assistance.  Smartphones and now smart applications use voice recognition are a way of doing business.  Results from devices like GPS speak the results to the user.  Bluetooth connects your phone to your car’s stereo.  We’ve all become reliant on this.

I wish Heather luck as she invigorates Lambton Kent classrooms.  I know from following her on social media that she’s keenly interested in technology and I hope the students and parents that she works with take advantage of this.


Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 46 Understanding Slums Through Local Wildlife Habitats

In this post, Rob Ridley takes a spin on the United Nations World Habitat Day.  His post focuses on wildlife other than humans.  The theme is Voices from the Slums.

In his post, he identifies conditions that could be considered slums for animals.

Ideas like:

This, and the rest of the points raised, give real pause for reflections.

They would be good starting points in any classroom – followed by a call to action.


Step Away From the Lite Brite Pattern
How We Can Move Beyond The Lite Brite Pattern

File this under “asked” and “answered”.

I had coffee this morning with my former superintendent, a man I have the utmost respect for.  He challenged everything.  In the beginning, it was frustrating, I’ll admit.  His favourite saying, it seemed, was “That’s tweaking.  I want to destroy and rebuild.”  We were encouraged to bring forth big ideas and projects.  He didn’t want little pilots; he wanted plans to change a system.

I had to go back into my post and add the above to add context to the first link above which is a post from Kristi Keery Bishop.  Her post is inspired by a direction in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Aviva Dunsiger, who used to work with Kristi, took the challenge and wrote the second post – answering the challenge.  Make sure you read both!


It’s Not a Quick Fix

As a new teacher, I never had the luxury of an instructional coach.

I remember trying to get advice about classroom management sitting with a colleague in the staff room.  Heck, I was a new teacher – the students knew it – I was only a few years old than the students in my class.  I didn’t grow up in Sandwich West so I didn’t know anything about the community.  I didn’t know that there was a difference between LaSalle and River Canard and that they were mortal sporting enemies.  I didn’t know that they didn’t play with a J5V football.  I didn’t know the traditional rivalry between Sandwich and General Amherst and that it went further than just sports.  I didn’t know my fly was open.

I didn’t know much and I was a prime target.  Like most first year teachers, I struggled.  It would have been so helpful to have had a person like Jen Aston that I could have called and made an appointment with.

In her latest post, she identifies a whole slew of wonderful ideas about student behaviour and, ultimately, classroom management.

She recognizes that, even with this list, she doesn’t have all the answers…

Make yourself a friend.  Forward the link to her post to a new teacher!


Controlled by the Clock

Eva Thompson is kicking back this school year.  I think that every teacher can empathize with her description about timeliness…how it applies in education and spills over into real life.  I was fortunate in my first school.  We had no bells.  You were expected to move students at the end of a period but our principal noted that, in schools with bells, students would close their binders and get up and leave when the bell rang.  Our philosophy was a bit different.  Yes, the class was over at whatever time it was supposed to be but there was five minutes travel time between classes and you could impinge on it just a bit rather than being cut off in mid-sentence.  

I hope that she does relax a bit.  


Thanks, again, to the wonderful Ontario Edubloggers who continue to write and share ideas.  There’s always something inspirational to read.  I hope you take the chance to read these posts and check out some of the others.

If you’re a new blogger this fall, please follow the link and add the details about your blog.  I’d love to add it to my reading as well.

News and Weather


There was a great deal of hubbub yesterday when word got out that Google had released a copy of its News and Weather Application for iOS.  It had been previously available for those who use the Android system.  I gave it a download to see what it looked like on iOS.

I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised when, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, … but other than the default dark display install of the familiar white of the Android, it looks and functions exactly the same way.  In fact, the first thing I did was go to the menu and add “Education” as a category.  Now both versions should pick up the same content.

But other than that I was off to the races.  Of course, location is important when you’re looking for the weather and there was no issue quickly picking up me at home.  A quick change of location and you’re pulling in the weather from wherever you want.

Like good news reading applications, a collection of “Top Stories” occupies the home for the application.

Tapping the now familiar hamburger menu lets you see the default news categories.  There is a nice selection to get started – World, Canada, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, Health, and of course the local stories from Amherstburg and Windsor.  Amherstburg just doesn’t have a whole lot to report so the application appears to pull in stories from around the country to fill.

With each story, a down arrow exposes related stories which is a very nice feature.  Once you’re done with the top stories, swipe left and right to work your way through your defined categories.

Clicking on a story takes you directly to the story.  There’s a navigation bar at top that will bring you back to the application.  Therein lies a problem for sharers.  Unlike other reading/sharing programs that connect directly to Twitter or Facebook, News and Weather doesn’t.  Fortunately, in this day and age, most sources have a way to use social media on their website.  The problem is that there’s no consistent way to access it.  It would be nice to have a native sharing button.

The layout is clean and you know that with Google who is already indexing things anyway, you’ll get relevant and fresh content.  For those on the iOS platform looking for a reader, I’d suggest downloading it and seeing if it has a home on your device.

Android Download

iOS Download