This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’ve got to start this post with a big round of appreciation to Aviva Dunsiger.  Even though she lives 4 hours from me, she knows my blogging habits.  When a post didn’t go through yesterday, she knew it immediately and let me know.  I had to do some work – for some reason WordPress always goes to April in the Chrome browser.  I still don’t know why.  I’m back home to Firefox to write this post so I’m hoping that there are no glitches.  In the meantime, check out Aviva’s blog – she’s always good for an interesting post and you’ve probably seen many references to her blog from mine.

On to some of the good stuff this week from Ontario Edubloggers.


Life in Uganda

There’s a lot being said about Visible Thinking these days.  In this post, Jaclyn shares some of the questions that her class are asking about Uganda to phrase their thinking and research.

Often, we see this sort of thing at the end of the activity.  By placing it up front, students have them at home and at school for reference, parents see what’s happening and it’s bound to make the thinking deeper.


Singing the Homework Blues

Could there be anything that says “back to school” more than worrying about homework – whether as a teacher or a parent?

It’s a tough topic.  If you’re doing any reading about homework, you’ve probably noticed the discussion around the value of it.  In fact, there are some districts that are banning it altogether.

I remember, as a student, having to spend an hour after school in my room “doing homework”.  I recall a variety of activities like writing, colouring, drawing, or my favourite – doing mathematics.  Now that I’m blogging, I wish that I’d paid more attention to writing – I keep getting nailed as a passive writer.  Grrr.

After supper, I had to go back to my room for another hour.  This time, it was to practice playing the guitar.  We were paying for the lessons and I guess my parents were determined to get their money worth.  It probably worked – playing the steel guitar, I’ve known more Hawaiian or Country & Western songs than any student should have to.

As I think about it, the guitar and most of the homework was painstaking practice and repetition.  You’ve got to love the drill and kill – not!  But the fun was in finding a new way to solve a problem or to create a new song on the guitar.  That stuck with me.  As a new teacher, I thought that I had to assign homework.  I can’t remember what was the most useless activity; taking it up or going around checking to see who had done it and who hadn’t.  Later, I ditched the drill homework.  I had subscribed to “Games” magazine and used it as inspiration to give puzzles for homework instead.  Immediately, there was an uptake in doing these puzzles and coming to class on time was a priority since that’s when we solved the puzzle as a class.  And, when you peel back the onion, what’s computer science if not solving puzzles?


Making My Thinking Visible…the MMM Goes Public!

Donna Fry gave me a heads-up on this new blog.  I’ll be honest; I don’t even know who the author is but the first post is interesting.

At first blush, I think it goes beyond just making the thinking visible.

It’s about making the leadership visible.

It definitely goes out on a limb.  Everyone gets a chance to see the message and respond to it.

I wonder why more leaders don’t do this.  (Actually, I know the answer to that and I’m sure that you do too.)


GBL beyond Minecraft

When I read the title to Diana Maliszewski’s post, I thought that maybe she was going to talk about the recent Microsoft acquisition but, in fact, it turned out to be about Bop It!

I’d never heard of this before but really enjoyed Diana’s description about how she’s been using it.

If you’re teaching Drama and Dance, you might just want to check this out.

It sounds like fun.  I wish I was in this class.  I wonder if Diana will bring it to the BIT Conference for a little more social fun.


What a great collection of shared learnings from Ontario Educators this week. Please check out the original posts and all of the work from the Ontario group. There’s always something exciting happening.

Bringing it Together


Last week, information about the Bring IT, Together conference was sent to all those who are members of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario.  It highlighted much of what will happen in Niagara Falls on November 5-7.  But, I know that not everyone is an ECOO member so I’m reposting the message here for the rest of you.  It would be wonderful for you to join Ontario educators for three days of learning, sharing, and making new contacts from outside your board.

 


 

In two short months, Bring IT, Together 2014 will be here.  After a year in planning, it will be exciting to see great Ontario Educators come together for three days of learning and sharing in Niagara Falls.  You’ll want to be one of them.

 

La conférence Bring IT, Together 2014 sera ici dans seulement deux mois! Après un an de planification, il sera intéressant de réunir les éducateurs de l’Ontario pour trois jours d’apprentissage et de partage à Niagara Falls. Soyez parmi nous!

 

BIT14 Logo.png

 

http://www.bringittogether.ca

 

The program for the event is posted for the world to see at:

 

Le programme de l’événement est affiché à l’adresse :

http://lanyrd.com/2014/ecoo14/

 

209 sessions of all sorts will be offered over the three days given by educators from all areas of the province.  You’ll see initiatives in classrooms just like yours and walk away with inspiration and ideas about how you can enjoy the same successes.  Wednesday is devoted to hands-on workshops, including the fabulous Ontario designed Minds on Media, with Thursday and Friday a mixture of keynote speakers and 50 minute sessions.

 

209 sessions de toutes sortes seront offertes pendant les trois jours. Ces sessions seront animées par des éducateurs provenant de toutes les régions de la province. Vous découvrirez des initiatives qui se passent dans des classes comme la vôtre, et vous repartirez avec l’inspiration et les idées qui vous permettront de jouir des mêmes succès. L’horaire de mercredi propose des ateliers pratiques, y compris le concept ontarien Minds on Media. L’horaire de jeudi et vendredi présente un mélange de conférenciers et des sessions pratiques d’une durée de 50 minutes chacunes.

 

And, of course, don’t forget the social events – receptions (Wednesday featuring the Kung Fu Lawyers), Minecraft, Photowalk by the Falls, Run with Alana, Jam Session, and ad hoc meetings that just spring up and take advantage of the location and also the Learning Space.

 

N’oubliez pas les événements sociaux – réceptions (Mercredi réception avec Kung Fu Lawyers), Minecraft, Photowalk près des chutes, la course avec Alana, Jam Session, et les rencontres spontannées vous permettront de tirer profit de l’emplacement pittoresque tout en apprenant!

 

An expanded exhibition hall will let you experience the latest and greatest and to talk with representatives.

 

Une salle d’exposition élargie vous permettra de découvrir des nouveautés et de jaser avec les représentants des commanditaires.

 

Much of what we know about children using technology in education comes from the research and work from Seymour Papert and his work at the MIT Media Lab.  Wednesday features an opening keynote address from Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman.

 

Une grande partie de nos connaissances au sujet de l’utilisation des technologies éducatives chez les jeunes vient de la recherche et des travaux de Seymour Papert et son travail au MIT Media Lab. Mercredi, nous vous proposons une conférence d’ouverture de Artemis Papert et Brian Silverman.

 

If you’ve ever searched for free educational resources, you’ve undoubtedly ended up on the Free Tech 4 Teachers website.  http://freetech4teachers.com/  Listen to Richard Byrne’s keynote and join him for a breakout session on Thursday.

 

Si vous avez déjà effectué une recherche pour les ressources éducatives libres, vous avez sans doute fini par trouver le site http://freetech4teachers.com/ Richard Byrne, auteur de ce site, prononcera la conférence d’ouverture et offrira une session de travail jeudi.

 

Ron Canuel speaks Friday morning and brings a global perspective from his 34 years in Canadian Education.  Ron is currently the president and CEO of the Canadian Education Association.  Ron will also specifically address the French educators at the conference.

 

Ron Canuel prononcera la conférence d’ouverture du vendredi matin. Il apporte une perspective globale nourrie de ses 34 ans en éducation au Canada. Ron est actuellement président et chef de l’Association canadienne d’éducation. Ron offrira ses commentaires, en français, aux éducateurs francophones lors de la conférence.

 

Bring IT, Together concludes with a keynote address from George Couros, the “Principal of Change”.  Supporting leadership and leaders, George will inspire us to use our learning and lead Ontario schools to even greater things.  http://georgecouros.ca/

 

La conférence Bring IT, Together se terminera par une allocution de George Couros, le »directeur du changement». Il nous parlera du leadership en action et nous incitera à utiliser nos expertises afin de permettre aux écoles de l’Ontario à effectuer un virage à l’ère numérique en douceur. http://georgecouros.ca/

 

For the second year in a row, ECOO and OASBO-ICT join forces to offer three days of incredible learning surrounding the use of technology in the classroom.  Plan now to join us in Niagara Falls, November 5-7.

 

Pour la deuxième année consécutive, ECOO et OASBO-TIC unissent leurs forces pour offrir trois jours d’apprentissage incroyable sur l’utilisation des technologies en salle de classe. Planifiez maintenant de vous joindre à nous à Niagara Falls, du 5 au 7 novembre.

 

Follow the conference

 

Suivez la conférence

 

Questions?  Contact email is conference@ecoo.org

 

Questions? Notre adresse courriel est conference@ecoo.org

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been another great week of reading Ontario Edublogs.  I’m actually going to include a post that I read more than just last week and I’ll explain why.

Here’s what caught my eye…


More than a meme to me

This summer, there wasn’t a day that you would log into Facebook to see someone doing the ALS ice bucket challenge.  I thought that I might escape the whole thing except that my friend Peter Skillen challenged me late August.  So, I did my thing.

The whole meme was kind of cute but the deeper meaning was the attention that it brought to ALS research.  I’ll be honest; I don’t know anyone suffering from the disease but I have done research and it just sickens me.

Lisa Noble took it to a personal level in her post.  I was going to reference it last week but somehow it didn’t see right given the “back to school” posts that I included.  She really spoke from the heart about her own personal experience with this horrible disease.

For the cause, she did take part in the challenge and I’ll say right up front – it was the classiest of all that I’d seen.  You can see it in her post.


What if we had a song?

Kelly Power asked a really interesting question.  What I found most powerful was a memory that I’d experienced years and years ago.  It happens in a hospital every time a baby is born.  Music is broadcast through the speakers.

Music has such power – as I reflect, I always seem to have music on when I’m working or thinking my best.

Music in school can be something different.  I remember my computer lab and a request from students to have music playing while they were working.  It sounded like a good idea to me – until we tried to some up with a genre that would please everyone.

I still remember a student comment “Sir, I now understand elevator music.”

Music can move lots of people.  I’ve been at horse tracks where marching music is played with two minutes to post time.  Its purpose is to get everyone on their feet and moving to get their wagers in.

So, her question, put in context is a good one.  What if you played a song over the PA network within a school?

Could you move a student body to focus on a common purpose?

I hope that Kelly tries it at her school and shares the results.


Governance Roles of School/Parent Councils

I know that the concept of Parent Councils is a topic near and dear to Sheila Stewart.

What I didn’t know was that she would be reading research about the Australian system.

The original article that she referenced is very interesting reading.

Imagine a system where the Parent Council formally assesses principals.  I honestly can’t.

The concept is so foreign to my thinking.  I wonder how this will work.


This really was another nice collection of articles this week.  Please check out the articles and all of the efforts of Ontario Edubloggers.

Interesting Learning with a Couple of Google Tools


Google Maps Gallery was a new resource for me.  It’s a place for organizations to make their maps public.  Why?  Read the reasons why here.

That sounds so good.  I decided to dig into the maps in the gallery just to see what people were posting.  One really caught my interest.  Most of the maps in the collection were in English which intuitively made sense to this English speaker.  But this one didn’t.

Quite clearly, it’s a map of Japan with markers all over it.  But, the description is in another language – presumably Japanese.  (nothing gets by me…)  Mousing over the descriptor reveals a link, I check the link to make sure it’s OK – it points to another Google Map so I click it.  I’m presented with a gallery of three – I check one of the links to dig deeper.

Interesting, but I’m really no closer to understanding the map.

Ah!  Time to Translate. 

I open a new tab, and head to Google Translate.

Back to this tab where I select the text above, copy it, and then over to the new tab with the translation utility open and paste the text into the left pane.

Google Translate immediately confirms that the text is indeed Japanese and then does its best to translate the text and make it appear in the right pane. 

I do listen to the original text by clicking on the speaker icon.  It’s a reminder of what a beautiful language Japanese is even though I didn’t understand anything.

I look to the right pane and read the text.  It’s a reminder that online translations are not entirely perfect but I’m able to read enough to understand the point of the map. 

Stepping back, it never serves to be humbling that I’m able to do all of that on my laptop while sitting in a reclining chair.  No matter your age, think back to an activity in school similar to this.  The best I could remember was working with a piece of French text.  The process was painful.  I can’t help but marvel that today’s students will have these sorts of tools at their fingertips.

In my day, in addition to snowing more, true research and exploration was done in English and limited by the collection in my school’s library or, if I was ambitious and walked downtown, in the public library.  If I really needed another resource and the library had it in a collection elsewhere, I could place an order and it would arrive within a week.  Today, speedy delivery is only limited by bandwidth!

Are these sort of research activities used in your class?  Shouldn’t it be if we want students to be global citizens in the best sense of the words?

Back to the original exploration of the Gallery.  This appears to be a new Google endeavour.  At the time of writing, only a limited number of collections are included.  (The numbering system confuses me.)  But, the collections are of really interesting content.  This will be worth monitoring to see it grow.

Thoughts?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s a week “back at it” and Ontario Edubloggers are sharing their thoughts.  Who knew? Check out and feel some of the excitement that was shared online this past week. Needless to say, Monday night would be sleepless but the sleep will come from the exhaustion Tuesday on.


Starting Over

After being quiet all summer, Brandon Grasley is back at it.  It’s in a different role though.  He’s back in a school.  It will be interesting to follow the successes that he’s bound to have.  I wonder how many brothers and sisters of former students he’ll run into?


My First Day Of Learning

You know, that those of us in the Aviva Dunsiger fan club, would have lots of questions as she changes school and grades.

  • Will she change her Twitter handle again?
  • Will she continue to do her daily shoots of classroom activities?
  • Will she share everything that’s going on with us?
  • Can she successfully park in a new parking lot?

We know that point number three will happen from her first blog post.

Read the entire post to find out the other things that she’s learned at the start of the new year.


First Impressions

Of course, we live in a world of priorities.  Diana Maliszewski’s biggest concerns was her new hair for school.

I still remember the ECOO Conference where she went right in front of me, waved, and I had no idea who she was.  She’s a lady of 1000 looks.

When you get past the looks, I’m sure that her students and their parents will really love her passion for gaming and how she expertly weaves it through the curricular content.  That’s the important part.


Reflections on the upcoming school year

Deborah McCallum is digging deeply into her thoughts about students, and particularly the use of technology in her latest post.  She includes a list of strategies and expands upon her plans using TPACK and SAMR to “help guide her thinking“.

This is a wonderful read and a good example to model if you’re using technology.  It’s not just there, it allows students to do different things and, for me, that should be the overriding rationale for doing anything.

If she’s able to pull off all that she’s covered in this post, I just know that it is going to be an incredible year of growth for both her and her students.  All the best.


Thoughts: Labour Day 2014

That we have the greatest profession in the world is a nicely kept secret sometimes. The good news stories, and there are thousands of them daily, seldom hit the press.  There’s the occasional report but often it’s a filler for the media or a reporter has a particular connection to it.

But, there’s nothing like the negatives in education to make the news.

In the midst of the excitement of back to school, Donna Fry reminds us that not everything is happy in Canada.

She quotes some wise advice from Catherine Montreuil.

“Teaching in isolation is no longer consistent with professionalism.”(Catherine Montreuil, August 2014).

There was a time when you’d laughingly say that once you close the classroom door, nobody knows what happens.  How old does that seem?

We live in a world where we celebrate our connections and our passions.  Donna points to some British Columbia educators as being on the forefront.  We can’t overlook all this just for the sake of some negative news stories.  There are real passionate teachers who just want to do the right thing for students and for education.  That can never be overlooked.


What an incredible collection of posts.  Thanks, everyone.  Please take a moment to visit and read the entire posts above and all those of the Ontario Edubloggers.  If you’ve started your own blog, please fill out the form at that link and I’ll get you added to the Livebinder.

Improved WordPress Editor


I think, like any blogger, once I wrote my first post I wanted to find the best/easiest/expedient way to create a post.  If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’ve tried Qumana, Scribefire, Ommwriter, Evernote, Google Writer, Blogilo, and probably others.  There isn’t a bad tool in the bunch for posting to this WordPress blog.

In addition to all of the above and probably others, I also use the editor that comes with WordPress.  The concepts are pretty much the same – do you writing, add pictures, add links, embed stuff, schedule and post.  My needs are simple.

I just want it all.

But more than that, I regularly get people asking for advice about how to start and maintain their own blog.  At that point, the rules of the game change just a bit.  They may not need it all at the moment, but if they’re successful and happy with their blogging experience, they’re going to want it all too.  It doesn’t make sense to give them a “starter editor”, knowing that they will eventually hit the wall and require something more full-featured.  Even if the message is “I just need to get started”, successful bloggers will eventually want more.

For those folks, I will pass on the third part utility and go right to the WordPress editor.  It’s got it all and all that you need is to be connected to the Internet and away you go.

Recently, even WordPress has given us alternatives.  The editor has always been good, and inclusive, but it does require a great deal of scrolling.

So, I was hooked when WordPress invited me to switch to the improved posting experience, I just had to give it a shot.

Yesterday’s WordPress looked like this…

Wordpress1

and now looks like this!

Wordpress2The presentation is indeed tidier and scrolling isn’t really necessary when you first get started.

The editing environment still gives you all of the powerful thinks that keeps people coming back to WordPress.

I think it will be the default editor for me for the next while.  Who knows?  It may become my one and only.

 

That’s Why I Do It


So, folks survived the first day of school.  Around here, we had a steady all-day rain which certainly meant that a long day was even longer with inside breaks.  Yet, the day’s events didn’t stop people from getting home, online, and continuing the sharing.  There were quite a few discussions about getting colleagues on Twitter for all of the benefits that we know can fall from being connected.

Lots of buzz about PLN, social learning, being connected, not being connected – and then there was a good question.  How do we show that there are tangible benefits to being connected and not just being another voice in the wilderness?  I think that people who have been connected for a while know that the learning may take some time.  But it comes.

Then, there are the naysayers who make the comment “I don’t want to know what you had for breakfast”.  It’s funny how one bad experience or a one liner from a late night comedy host lingers.  But, we know that it’s much more serious than that.

Recently, Twitter enabled a feature that will definitely help the cause.  If you haven’t, log in to Twitter through the web and then check out Twitter analytics on your account.  There’s enough analytics there to choke the proverbial horse.  The opening screen will have you poking around wondering what an “impression” or an “engagement rate” is.  I’m still scratching my head over that one myself! 

Instead, take a look at the second choice – Followers.  Now, it gets immediately interesting.

Where in the world are they coming from?

Location

(I think the MI is in the wrong place…)

What’s more telling is the interests that you share with your connections.

As I say in the title of this post – this is the real reason why I want to connect and stay connected.  The unique interests looks like this.

Unique

The top interests of those I connect with in general look like this.

Interests

It just begs the question – where can you have these types of conversations regularly and ongoing – on your terms, your own professional learning?  Like anything worthwhile doing, making the right connections makes it all worth while.

That’s a pretty difficult question to answer, methinks.