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.

 

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.

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.

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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I just flew in from Niagara Falls and, boy, are my arms tired.  Yeah, I know, it’s an oldie but I think a goodie.  Henny Youngman?

Anyway, it was a day of planning for the Bring IT, Together Conference with my co-chair Cyndie Jacobs and we’re excited about the event.  It’s a chance to bring together Ontario educators for three days devoted to technology and, of course, a chance to catch up with some of the Ontario Edubloggers.  They’re always talking about something – here’s some of what I read this week.


A million thank you’s all the way from Greece!

Joanne Marie Babalis checked in reporting “a million” from her online presence.  I’m not sure if it’s hits or followers but that’s certainly a big number so congratulations.

Of course, the goal once you hit a million, is to hit two million so click through and add to her numbers!


“Boom! That just happened” – My Experience at the Google Teacher Academy

I remember my first look at the Google Campus.  I’m sure that my chin had hit the ground hard and was dragging.

Read about Rolland Chidiac’s experience here.  He shared 10 things that stuck with him after his visit to the Google Teacher Academy.


Things We Learn From Our Students

Lorraine Boulos shared an interesting take on a guest blogger for her blog.  She asked a retiring teacher to share some thoughts.  So, Mark Whinton penned three things learned from students.

It’s amazing advice as we head into the 2014-2015 school year.

Sadly, not everyone is listening. Kudos to those that are.


When is something worth writing about?

I really enjoy reading the leadership thoughts from Sue Bruyns.  Reflection has always been job #1 for me – I think it lets you learn from the present and plan for the future.  With social (and traditional) media, there is no shortage of places to write and share your thoughts.

As Sue expertly notes….

Maybe the question isn’t “When is something worth writing about?” but “When is something not worth writing about?”  There certainly is the public forum and there are no shortages of readers.  There’s also the private domain and that can be just as rewarding.

If it’s not memorialized somehow, it may just get lost forever.


Readers, this has been a wonderful week of reading and reflecting.  Thanks so much for continuing to share, think, learn, and grow.

Please take the time to check out these posts and the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

And, most certainly, all the best next Tuesday.

At OTF Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference – Hopscotch, Sphero, Social Reading


It was a terrific three days in Toronto working with a wonderful group of Ontario educator professionals. The Ontario Teachers’ Federation throws a great event.  The attendees were asked to self-identify as early users of technology.  I think that many left with their heads spinning, full of great ideas.  They were invited to learn where their interests lay because they certainly couldn’t take in everything that was offered.

What was offered was very quickly scaffolded and everyone was encouraged to learn, create, and push themselves to new levels.

Those that joined me got to experience from the following.

Hopscotch

We had a ball learning how to code on the iPad.  We started simply by controlling movement on the screen but very quickly added the elements of sequencing and repetition to our efforts.  By the time we were done, everyone was programming like pros and had learned how to branch programs from the Hopscotch website and modify them to do great things!

Here is the link to the resources shared are on my PD Wiki.

Sphero

Speaking of having a ball, it was only natural that we took the opportunity to learn a bit about programming a robot with the iPad. Many schools are adopting iPads instead of desktops or laptops. How can you continue to work with robots? Sphero fits the bill nicely.  I had a great conversation with Jeff Pelich from Waterloo and we both agreed that the Macrolab and OrbBasic are required downloads to support the programming.

Social Reading

One of things that I strongly believe is that when we read and share, we can all become smarter.  That was the basic message in the social reading station at Minds on Media.  This messy diagram shows the workflow, er, reading flow that I use.

We talked about a number of absolutely terrific sources for professional reading on a daily basis.

and, of course, Ontario Edubloggers.

But the message here was more than just reading.  It’s about sharing.  We identified the sharing links on any of these sources and learned how to send them to Twitter, Facebook, or Instapaper.

Again, the message was more than just sending it to these sources.  We talked about using Packrati.us.  The moment (or shortly thereafter) you send a link to Twitter, we talked about how Packrati.us would send the link to a Diigo account.  I love to use the analogy of a set of dominos tumbling over!  But, when it all works, the links are shared with others and they’re permanently bookmarked in your Diigo account.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  We talked about collecting the good stuff and having it all in one place.  Remember that great article you read last year?  Why retrace you steps to find the article by doing an internet search and hoping that you’re able to find it again?  Tuck it away in Diigo.

Once it’s there, you can do some amazing things other than just bookmarking.

  • Install the Diigo extension so that you’re one click away
  • Create a blog post with the links you’ve shared
  • Save your Diigo links to Delicious so that you’ve got a backup
  • Make Diigo the default search engine for your browser
  • Set up Diigo groups and use Diigo network
  • Get a Diigo Educator account

Yes, it can be messy but are the benefits worth it.  And, people seemed to buy in at their own personal level.  It doesn’t get better than that.  I met a secondary school teacher-librarian who was planning to set up Diigo groups for the various departments in her school; a lady who is planning to cultivate recipes; another lady looking to build a knowledge network about running; and a gentleman going to pull together resources for bass fishing.  How’s that for personalized?

I know that there were a lot of exhausted people who returned home Friday night, but it was a good exhausted.  You can’t beat a event of learning, sharing, and making connections.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As I write this post, I’m at the Ontario Teachers’ Federation “Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference.”  We’re at the end of the first day and what a day it was!  Great activities but it’s always wonderful to see so many professional educators interested in learning new skills and techniques to make the magic happen in classrooms across the province in a couple of weeks.

It’s a great opportunity to renew friendships and make new ones.  I shared my thoughts about “The Best PD” this morning and one of my slides described what I really feel about blogging.  BLOGGING = THINKING = BLOGGING.  I firmly believe that and look forward to seeing if some new blogs fall out of the event.  I know that Marie Swift did a session about making Blogging the Backbone of your Classroom.  I wish I could have seen it but I was doing my own session about Hopscotch at the time.

There definitely was a continuation of blogging happening across the province.  Here’s some of what caught my attention this week.

Spaghetti Bridge Teaser

You can never get too early a start and Brian Aspinall has already posted to his class website one of their first science investigations.

I hope his students and parents are following the blog and try this at home before school starts.  Then, the enrichment can begin from day 1.


A Tribute to my Dad on his Retirement from Education

Things will be different in the Avon Maitland District School Board with Jeff Reaburn’s retirement.  Jamie Weir wrote this wonderful summary to honour him on his retirement.

The #BIT14 committee will benefit as Jeff has volunteered to serve on the committee for this year’s conference.  He’s doing such a wonderful job and I can certainly appreciate Jamie’s kind words.

I know that all of us wish Jeff so many good things in his retirement.


The Wire 106

Coming soon to your internet radio, another education station!

Andy Forgrave writes a nice post announcing the launch of this new station initiated by Jim Groom.  This is such a terrific concept bringing together so much that’s available when you use the best of student efforts and marry it with technology.  It will be interesting to “watch” the launch.

If you’re interested more in this form of broadcasting, make sure you register for #BIT14.  Andy will be leading the learning there.


3 Reasons I Go to Edcamp

I think that some of the most compelling posts come from people who have attended an Edcamp.

This time, it was Sue Dunlop who attended Edcamp Leadership.

She commented nicely on the takeaways for her.  You can’t help but get onside when someone talks about being “challenged” and “stretched”.

I liked the list of three that she mentioned.

  • The Unconference Model;
  • Connections;
  • Learning.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could say that about every professional learning session?

Perhaps that should be the learning goal for all educators – attend just one edcamp in the upcoming year and make some new connections – particularly ones that are pushing you away from your comfort zone.


What another nice collection of posting.  Thanks to these people – take the time to read the entire post.

When you’re done there, check out the complete collection of Ontario Educational Bloggers here.