How We’re Connected


It’s no secret that I love exploring with maps.  I think it can be the ultimate infographic! 

If you spend a lot of time exploring a map, there are so many great stories behind it.

This resource is just plain fascinating.  It’s called “Greg’s Cable Map“.

The map, created in Google Maps, shows under water cable connections, current and future. 

Navigate the map by mousing over a cable and the name and details of the cable appear at the bottom of your display.  On the right, click on the name of the specific connection for details and further links.  There is a caution that the details may not be completely accurate in location.  That’s completely understandable.

If you want to take the politics out of things, switch from the basic map to a satellite representation.

I’ll bet that you’ll find yourself being a connected global navigator in no time at all.  Of course, it makes for wonderful classroom discussion!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and time to reflect on some of reading I did from around the province this past week.  There are some new (to me) blogs featured this week and an old friend.  When you’re done scouting these, make sure that you read the complete collection of Ontario Edublogs.


It’s a Slow Process

Thanks, Brian Aspinall, for giving me the heads up on Nicole Beuckelare’s blog.  It was nice to find something new and to add it to the Livebinder and the Scoopit! page

Her latest post reflects on the length of time that it takes for change to happen.

I had to smile – anyone who works anywhere in education is quite aware of this phenomenon.  It’s amazing to think that computers and related technologies have been around in the classroom for over 30 years.  Yet, there are some people that are just finding this out!  Ditto for the concept of making to learn.  It’s not a new concept; teachers of technologies have known that creation is the best possible way to learn for years.

In her post, Nicole mentions that she had taken part in the PLP Group five years ago.  That brought back memories for me.  I submitted two cohorts years ago.  Both of the cohorts grew incredibly from the experience.  It really helped the eLearning teachers incorporate more web technologies in their online courses.  The elementary school teachers developed a culture of sharing and celebrating everything among themselves.  It didn’t happen over night but it did happen with the intense supports put in place.

But, how about the hundreds of others that didn’t have the experience?  They work hard every day with the tools, knowledge, and understanding that they have.  Change is a longer process here.

The whole concept, again, reinforces the notion that ongoing professional learning is required for all if we want significant change.  Just how many opportunities does your district give you this year?  If there are few to none, are they really serious about making change happen?


My Promise to You

This post flows nicely from Nicole’s.

Aviva Dunsiger is extremely visible about the change that she wants to make.  There’s always a new post of interest about something on her blog.

Her recent post shares some of the techniques that she uses to try to ensure success for all of her students.

It’s important to note the totality of her efforts.  It’s not just technology that’s the answer.  I think that’s an important message for all to hear.  It’s a great tool but isn’t necessarily the only one.

Aviva reflects on the complete package.


The New Wave of Vocab Games

Communication is what it’s all about in the language classroom, whether first or second language.  Interestingly, oral communications, which is so important may well be the less precise of all the communications.  When the recipient of the communication can interpret not only the actual communication but also the intent, you can be “close” and still be understood.

If you want to see this in action, watch me butcher the French language and yet still get the message across.

To be really precise, use a computer!  Ironically, this precision can be very motivating for students.

In this post, Myra Mallette shares two applications that she’s using this year – Quizlet and Kahoot.

If you know of a French teacher looking for a way to further engage students, send them this link.  Well crafted gaming can do so much in the classroom.


New Book ~ Reflecting in Communities of Practice: A Workbook for Early Childhood Educators

When I finished my time at the Faculty of Education, there really wasn’t any way to continue the learning through them.  I guess that the logic was that once you’ve jumped the fence and got your BEd, it’s time to move on and grab the next class.

I’m not sure that the intent of the Faculty of Education, UWO’s blog is to reach out to the entire teaching profession but why not?  Check out this blog to find the latest and greatest resources that have been added to their library.  If it looks good and you have access to that library, great.  If not, forward the title to those who look after the professional collection wherever you work and ask that they purchase the materials and make them available to your organization.

After all, we all know that learning shouldn’t stop just because you graduated!


Thanks to all of the bloggers who continue to share their thinking and push us all to new and exciting things.  There’s always some great learning shared by Ontario Edubloggers.

 

A Great RPN Calculator


We were having company for supper last night. 

To make it special for the little ones, we decided to serve Kentucky Friend Chicken.  Now, there hasn’t been a store in Amherstburg in years so guess who got to drive into Windsor to get it?

As I stared at the menus, I remembered the good old days when they served chicken and cole slaw.  Things really have changed.  The menus are huge.  So, I’m standing there doing a little, actually a lot, of mental math to try to determine what the best value would be.  I selected and ordered.  There would be a fifteen minute wait while they cooked the chicken!  I looked at the clock – it wasn’t anywhere near one o’clock, the traditional end of the lunch hour!  How could they be out?  <grin>

Well, we wanted to do it so I decided to order and wait.  To kill some time, I pulled out my phone and started doing some math with the pricing on the menus.  It wasn’t a horrific task; there were math questions all over the place.  What’s the best value?  Is the price of a bowl of cole slaw the same with every order?  What’s the best value for pop that’s available in three sizes? As my kids would point out, these are the reasons I sit alone in public places.

There were so many things to calculate, I soon find that I’m doing the math on the standard calculator that comes on my Android and realize that it wasn’t efficient use of my time.  Then, I clued in.  I was using an algebraic calculator.  I could be much more efficient with an RPN Calculator.  You may recall that I’ve blogged about this before and before.  I thank my university statistics professor for recommending my original HP21 calculator. 

Chicken isn’t cooked so I’m off to the Google Play store to look for an RPN Calculator to download.

It turns out there were a LOT of them.  One in particular caught my eye because it was the spitting image of the HP products that I was so fond of.

 

 

I became really engrossed with this program.  It’s such a nice and faithful copy of the original – even to the LED display that couldn’t be read in bright sunlight!

Other than just using the calculator, the whole experience brought back a few problems from my computer science classroom.  First, you have to teach students just what RPN is and then have them write the code.  The HP 21 had a nice rolling stack of 4 which led right into another sort of topic that you’ll only find in a computer science classroom.  And, the nice thing about writing your own calculator program is that you can add feature after feature, including printing graphs.  Function keys extend the function of any of the buttons.  It’s just a shame that we had to use a mouse to press the buttons at the time.

Sir, your chicken is ready.

Well, the moment has passed but I’ve been inspired to get the application and play with it.  Who says mathematics can’t be fun?

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.

Open Source Whiteboard Software


Recently, I downloaded the Open-Sankore software.  I needed a piece of software to do some drawing and got way, way more than I expected. 

I think that I went well over the top when I read that the software was the same and worked the same on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux.  You don’t see that range of support often.

Upon installation on Linux, I immediately was curious as to support for my Wacom Bamboo tablet.  I wasn’t disappointed. Everything worked as you would expect.  No configuration or extra drivers to install.  It just worked. I wish that I had other equipment to try it on and test their claims of compatibility.

The software is so intuitive.  If you’ve ever used any other type of whiteboard software, you’ll pick this up immediately.

I was impressed trying the application on different computers.  It goes full screen and you wouldn’t know what computer platform you’re working on.  To me, that’s the sort of transparency that we can appreciate.

The tools and tool sets are really obvious.  Pick a tool, pick a colour, and go to it.  Speaking of tools, the toolbar can be moved to the top or bottom of the screen.  They recommend the bottom for whiteboards.

Projects can have multiple pages.  Add a place and title it in the left panel. 

The installation comes with a big collection of resources for creating your multi-media document.

Nothing is proprietary to the software.  If your computer can play it, Open-Sankore can play it.  So, include audio, movies, or graphic images with easy.  Can’t find it in their collection – facility is there to search for it on the internet.

Objects are dragged onto the workspace where resizing, rotating, etc. are all well defined in the frame around the object.

Selection of language was a bit inconsistent. 

The software has its roots based in the French language.  Even though I was able to change the language and restart in English, there were still a few elements that remained in French.  But, I’ll be honest.  The iconage and the display was so graphically intuitive, I didn’t really notice until I started to write this post and give it a thorough test.

I’ve worked with a number of whiteboard software in the past and so there was really no big learning curve digging into this one.  In any classroom, this will be a welcome addition.  It will be really welcomed to a classroom where students bring their own laptops and you’re looking for software like this for presentation, displays, and just plain creativity fun.

Networked News


About 3am this morning, the dog was up.  I think he wanted to go outside to see if he could see the Aurora Borealis.  As I returned to go back to bed, I checked my iPad.  There was a message there from my friend Allison about the overnight event in Clinton.  I couldn’t ignore it and so started to read.

I flipped on the television and scrolled through the 24 hour news channels, looking for details.

Nothing.

And yet, online, there were reports from the local media – CKNX, CFPL, Blackburn News, and some I’d never heard of.  The story was still early but what details were available were being reported.  In our Clinton group on Facebook, people were aggregating news reports as they happened.  As it turns out, Twitter is serving as an excellent aggregator of the news, once you filter out the references to other “Clintons”.

This morning, the local stations had provided more details.  I did turn to our national news stations and there were no reports at all.  It’s like it didn’t happen.  The closest that I could find news was on Canoe.  As a former resident, I was so anxious for details.

As I sit here fidgeting for details, I think of traditional news media.  I remember Walter Cronkite as “the most trusted man in America“.  I recall watching the daily news read from the likes of Knowlton Nash, Peter Mansbridge, Lloyd Robertson in the evening.  These news shows had a definite starting and ending times with the contented carefully edited to fit in between.  They really weren’t about reporting news as it happened; they were entrusted to provide us with a summary of the day’s news.

News coverage has certainly changed.  Yes, we still have the nightly news summaries but most news sources now have their own 24 hour news channels.  For me, in this case, for the most part, the traditional media dropped the ball.  As I sat there anxiously flipping through channels looking for news, I saw repeats of previous newscasts as well as stories that could best be described as infotainment.  The best news reports were online.

Is this a message for the big, traditional news organizations?  What happens when you’re bested by smaller, more nimble news sources?

This certainly has not been a good week for humanity.  What news that was on was focused on much that was in the headlines. This is now old news.

There is a learning theory about connectivism that I’ve totally bought in to from my experiences and needs.  From Wikipedia (1)- “As Downes states: “at its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks”.

I think this describes perfectly what I was experiencing.  When I worked with Allison, we had a wonderful network of co-learners and we shared so much.  She continues in that vein.  Her efforts led me to a network of connections that I would never have known otherwise.  They were providing the best of the learning that was available at the time.  For that, I’m so grateful.  As I write this, I’m still so concerned about what is happening and am continually monitoring resources.

(1) Reference:  “Connectivism.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

Later on – it’s now later than the original post – the story seems to be covered by all the major Canadian news sources.  Details are still sketchy.

Encouraging Girls


We’d like to think that the sky is the limit for all students.  But is it?

Career Girls is an online resource to help girls, and their teachers, explore options for the future.

Various advocacy groups will have sections on their internet presence devoted to a specific subject area or discipline.

What I like about Career Girls is that it has a wide variety of career options.  If the goal is to explore various options for the future, this needs to be added to the list of resources.

In addition to teacher resources, the site is bound to engage today’s connected young ladies.  From a pull-down menu, the student selects a profession.  Each profession is described via video.

Sadly, at the time that I visited, there wasn’t a section devoted to becoming a computer programmer.  Hopefully, that will be added as the site grows.