This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I really like it when I can add a new blogger to the list of Ontario Edubloggers. 


What George and Basketball Have Taught Me

Please welcome Andrea Gillespie to our group.  She has put her toe in the blogging water and starts of talking about change and included her daughter and George Couros as some of the catalysts for change from her perspective.  It’s a great introductory post.

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It also affirms our decision to bring George to conduct a leadership session and close the Bring IT, Together conference with a keynote address.  Hopefully, the inspiration that Andrea felt will be shared by a whole new group.

For Andrea, welcome to the group and please make it a point to share your leadership thoughts with the province.  Thanks for the tip, Donna Fry.


Speaking of Donna….

Exploring Digital Literacy and the Importance of Confidence

Her recent posts talks about a whole lot of Cs.  First, she identifies the 6Cs from Michael Fullan from his “Great to Excellent” document and then Doug Belshaw’s 8 Elements of Digital Literacies. 

Her discussion of the overlap is interesting and I really liked the focus on Confidence.

There’s a a great deal to consider about confidence. 

Teaching is an interesting profession.  We are extremely confident in the classroom with working with students.  It’s our confidence in our materials, content, and approach that make students want to get onside and learn.  But, put us in a group of colleagues and it’s a different story.  “You go first”.  “No, you go first”.  Is it because we know that we’re all judgmental by design that we’re hesitant to say anything lest we’re wrong?  If we mess up, everyone will know! My goodness.

What’s wrong with being confident in what we know and confident in the knowledge that we have a lot to learn from each other?


PhotoMath Answers Incorrect Homework Questions, Correctly by @mraspinall

I think many of us were intrigued with the announcement that PhotoMath was available for download to your iOS and Windows device.  It was all over the online news.

I’ve started a post of my own to share some thoughts.  Hopefully, I’ll finish it and get it posted over the weekend.

In the meantime, Brian Aspinall was all over it in a post that appears yesterday afternoon.  Straight from the classroom, read the post for his thoughts.  One of the flashpoints for him was this quote from CNN.

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How sacred tests can be!


I Did Get Better!

When I first read this blog post from Aviva Dunsiger, I thought to myself “This should be required reading at every Faculty of Education”.  I love this list.  It could apply to every first year teacher.

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I wish that I had had only two classrooms my first year of teaching!

If it wasn’t for improvement, probably none of us should have lasted beyond that first year.

There’s been a lot written lately about “Growth Mindset” like it’s some sort of new thing.  Pffff!  Read the rest of Aviva’s post to see how she grew in the profession.

I’ll bet everyone can empathize.


Getting Started with PLCs – A Protocol for Group Collaboration

Starting out anew in any organization can be a daunting task.  In her most recent post, Brenda Sherry shares a protocol she used at a first staff meeting as an opportunity to learn about staff and start to build effective learning networks.

In this case, she used the Compass Points Activity and focussed on:

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I like the concept and can only imagine the discussion.

It’s certainly far removed from some of the dictatorial approaches that I’ve experienced in the past.

It will be interesting to see if the approach generates rewards for the staff learning.  Keep us informed, Brenda.


Once again, it’s been a great week of professional reading and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.

Check out the entire list of the here.

A Digital Citizenship Resource from Edmodo


Online savvy educators incorporate solid digital citizenship activities into their classroom and activities on a regular basis. 

But, what of the newly connected educators wanting to do the right thing.  Or, perhaps you’re using things wisely but are also interested in new resources or activities to breathe some new excitement into the topic.  Edmodo, in partnership with Common Sense Media has made available a “Digital Citizenship Starter Kit”.

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This is a nicely packaged teaching resource that includes not only the kit but digital citizenship teaching modules.

You’ll need an Edmodo account in order to access the material but once you do, you have access to a poster and lessons surrounding privacy, copyright, and citizenship.

I think that these resources will serve a great purpose in the connected classroom concerned about the teaching of these issues.  Your use might also spur colleagues to get on board. 

Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall


Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

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.

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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.

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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.

Interview with Richard Byrne – Keynote Speaker at #BIT14


Michelle Cordy (@cordym) has been doing a series of online interviews with educators.  Starting on Tuesday evening, look to her efforts in putting a human face to the Bring IT, Together conference through the interviews.

I was honoured to be invited to share the microphone with her as she interviewed Richard Byrne.  (@rmbyrne)  Richard will address the group on Thursday morning in a keynote titled “The Power of Technology to Prepare Students for the Future” and then will offer a breakout session “Ten Common Challenges Facing Educators and Tools to Address Them”.  He promises this to be a practical edtech approach in the classroom.

Those who tried to watch live know that there were a couple of challenges – Richard was in one Google Hangout Room and Michelle and I in another wondering where he was!  We eventually solved the problem and were able to complete the interview, albeit a bit late.  If you missed it, or would like to enjoy it again, it’s presented below.

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