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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This is the third post in a row written using Windows Live Writer.  That means that I’ve been using Windows for three days in a row.  That’s a modern day record!  I notice that it’s Live Writer 2011.  I wonder if there’s been an upgrade?  I recall reading recently that it might go open source.  That would be awesome.

Back on topic … here’s some great posting from Ontario Edubloggers from this past week.

A Letter to a New Teacher

On the Voice of Canadian Education blog, Stephen Hurley issued this challenge.

image

If you could write a letter to a first year teacher, what advice would you pass along.

He gives some perspective – what an administrator might say, what a student might say, what a teacher might say, what an outsider might say, …

I think it’s a great idea and I’m going to accept the challenge and write a blog post over the weekend sharing my thoughts.

Thanks for the inspiration, Stephen.


My Thoughts on the Peel District School Board’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Teachers

Fred Galang shares some of his thoughts about the Peel DSB’s social media guidelines.

Recently, the Peel District School Board released their social media guideline for staff and teachers. As much as I applaud their initiative (they’ll be the first to outline such guidelines for social media use in detail), there were a few items that sparked a healthy convo with my Tweeps over the last two days. Without the risk of repeating myself, I’ll simply address the most contentious for me.

In the beginning, teacher use of social media was really experimental.  I can recall being involved with the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century series.  In some quarters, there was a wish that there would be rules or guidelines.  I remember having the discussion at the time and we agreed that you just couldn’t put it all into a one pager.  The best advice we got still applies to day “Don’t do stupid things.”

I absolutely agree with Fred’s concerns.  I never was a fan or rules.  They always define a line between someone’s concept of what’s right and what’s wrong.  If you’ve ever been in a classroom, you know that’s an immediate red flag for students to determine where that line actually is. 

My sense is that the document still has the mentality that social media is a “think” that can be clearly defined and all the negatives drawn from it.  The document does identify concerns, particularly about student privacy.  Instead of a social media document that defines that, wouldn’t it make more sense to expand any existing privacy resource to include cautions? 

I do wonder about the concept of having a person and a professional account.  We’ve all seen people try to manage that and post from the wrong account.  What would happen if students actually found out that you’re human and are a fan of the Detroit Tigers?  Certainly the world wouldn’t end.

I still like the original advice “Don’t do stupid things.”

Royan Lee also wrote about the same thing and garnered some comments from Ontario Educators well worth the reading.


How BYOD/T is Getting Easier, How it’s Getting Harder

Not to belittle Royan’s other post, I really like what he did when he tackled the topic of BYOD/T again.

It’s to his credit that he’s identified in one of the comments as a “pioneer”.  He’s certainly been very vocal and open about his experiences over the time that devices were welcomed in his class.  He addressed these in detail in an interview that I had with him.

Royan’s just generally a great guy.  I recall sitting next to him watching his kids swimming and we were just chatting.  I still remember thinking “this guy is going to change the world, one class at a time”.  He’s very vocal but not the sort of evangelist that exudes a “follow me or begone” approach.

In a world where some are debating the merits of BYOD, Royan speaks with the mature voice of experience. 

If you’re collecting a list of definitive resources about BYOT, you need to include this post. 

Dean Shareski did.


Yearning For The Printed Photograph

Facebook friends know that I had a major life event this past week.  I was there with my phone taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook with friends.  It’s fast and efficient and you get to see them all just as quickly as I can post them.  Not all of them were absolute perfection but they were from my eyes.

My wife, on the other hand, goes a more traditional route.  Even though she has a digital camera, it’s off to Shopper’s to get printed copies of them.  She likes the more permanent record of them and the fact that she can put them in an album and leave them on a shelf.

Aviva Dunsiger reflected on the value of the printed photograph.  I couldn’t help but think that this approach (and grudgingly my wife’s) will stand the test of time.

image

I think it’s testament to family history and the eye of the photographer that someone later on can use the word “incredible” to describe their efforts.

It makes you wonder about the legacy of images that those of us share online.  I know that I do keep a copy on backup here but there still a trip into town away from being put in an album.  There’s merit in that – one of my own favourite throwback pictures is of two buzzcut kids with their grandmother. 

There probably is a preferable half-way meeting of the technologies to satisfy both worlds. 

Check out Aviva’s entire post as she takes a look at both sides of the discussion.  There’s some pretty wise insights and, as per Aviva’s normal, a bunch of questions to ask yourself.


Thanks everyone for continuing to write and inspire.  Please take the time to enjoy the entire posts and all of the postings from Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always some great writing happening.

And, while writing this, I downloaded the latest Live Writer to see if I have the latest.  I might have to hang around Windows for another day or so…

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I had someone ask me why this blog post every week and also, why on Friday?

Two questions, and there’s not a scientific reason for them.  I do this post to help direct people to the blogs of great Ontario Education Bloggers.  Sometimes, your voice can just get lost so this is my attempt to help shout it out.  Secondly, why Friday?  I suppose that it could be any day of the week – it just made sense to me to do it on Friday since it complements the #FollowFriday or #FF shoutouts that people give.  Nothing more or nothing less.  It’s not earth shattering; it’s just something that I decided to do.

Here’s some of what I enjoyed reading this past week.


Queen: Youth wasted on the young – really?

OK, how timely was this post from Michael Redfearn?

queen

I spent some time alone this week and played my way through some of my vinyl album collection.  And, I did play some Queen.  And, yes, one of the albums was “A Night at the Opera”.

Michael’s post deals with his thoughts from a recent concert in Toronto.  It’s difficult to think of Queen without Freddie Mercury but it sounds like the new Queen works.

I wonder if they’ll be playing locally?


Huron Skill Gap

A while back, Robert Hunking blogged questioning his blogging future.  Thankfully, he did not give it up.

In a recent post, he touches on an area of importance to many communities – a shortage of skilled trades.

Hunking

Having grown up in Huron County, I read his post with interest.  Later, having worked two doors down from the Technology Consultant, I know how much effort goes into making that particular pathway important.  There are valuable life skills that  come from that discipline.  Robert points out that it’s awareness of guidance counsellors, teachers, etc. to make enrollment in these courses desirable and suitable for students.  I think it needs to go further though.  Parent need to know the importance.  Partnerships with post-secondary institutions need to be on board.  Money is required to make the facilities contemporary so that skills learned are modern and not left over from years old mentality.  At the CSTA Conference, when we toured the Universal Technical Institute, the message was clear and repeated numerous times.   They want Computer Science students in their programs.  Take a look at any modern car or walk into any modern plant and you’ll see that form of technology everywhere.  This type of thinking is required.  Are our schools prepared for it?


A Lesson from Baseball

Think about this…

kerry

Kristi Keery Bishop did.

While watching a baseball game, she made a comparison to the classroom.  It certainly is a good analogy for teacher to student, or administrator to staff.  Can the message stick for the school year?

When you think about it, it really is a nice parallel.  Except for the salaries of course…


Bending People to the Data

Tim King finishes his blog post with this bit of advice.

tim

The rest of the post deals with data in our world, and of course, Tim takes it to education and makes some interesting points.

Give his post a read and see if it doesn’t give you some ammunition the next time someone wants to talk “data” with you….


What a great collection of posts.  Thanks to all the bloggers.  I hope that you can take a few moments to check them out.

Remember, if you’ve started a blog of your own or if there’s one that needs to be added to the collection, there’s a form available for the task here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s too cold to go outside these past couple of days so people are taking time to blog!  We’re beneficiaries of their thoughts and opinions!


There is a space…

Sheila Stewart is pondering about his quote:

Going back in my mind to university days and psychology courses, I’m not sure that the statement could be taken literally.  But I think that there’s a great deal to think about – particularly in this digital age.  I smiled and thought of my recent post “You have about five seconds…”  In the digital world, I do find myself making decisions quicker – at one point, they might have been tempered by a long walk, but not necessarily now.  Maybe I should up that to six seconds.


Art Busking for Cancer!

Colleen Rose, a frequent blogger on her own Northern Art Teacher blog had an increased presence on Facebook recently.  She’s painting at the Thunder Bay Health Science’s Centre, collecting donations as she goes along, and her painting will be auctioned off at the end – all in the name of fundraising.  Awesome.


How To Create QR Codes To Use In Your Classroom

A few years ago, at EdCampQuinte, I led a session where we discussed the use of QR Codes.  The concept was very new at the time but there were a number of reasons, we decided, that made it worth the time and effort.  Now, they’re everywhere – enter a contest by scanning a code here, see the complete details of a new car by scanning there…  it takes away the necessity of waiting to get online and typing in a URL.  Just scan it and go.

In Belleville, we all agreed that the most painful thing in the world is to watch a primary or junior student type an address on the keyboard and get it right, the first time, and without mistake.  It’s even worse on iOS for young fingers since you have to go to special characters to just get the “/” key.  (not so on Android…)

So, speed and accuracy, are two great reasons.  And the fact that you can place QR Code anywhere makes for instant access as long as you have a QR Code reader.

Kristen Wideen explains how she creates and uses QR Codes in her classroom.

This post is definitely worth a read and share with colleagues interested in codes.  Now, there are so many utilities to help you create QR Codes.  There’s no excuse for not doing it.  Rather than a website, I have an extension in my browser – QRUTILS.com to do the trick for me.  Before and after EdCampQuinte, I had created a Scoop.it resource where I’ve tucked away things that I’ve found helpful.  I’ve added Kristen’s blog post to the resources.


Principals

I can remember when principals where members of Teachers federations and there was no question that they were true teachers in the profession.  I was so fortunate, having had three principals at my school and then a couple of supervising principals later on, to have worked with some of the best educators that I know.  Either that or they left me alone to avoid talking about computers.

But, I have seen principals take on different personas when they sit in the chair in the big office.  Some take the budget and spend to get the best resources into the school; some become the ultimate manager of the building; some become single-focused with EQAO within the building; some balance priorities; well, you get the point.  That they’re so diverse should be expected – after all they’re human too.

There were some interesting blog posts surrounding principals this week.

When Principals Meddle

Andrew Campbell takes on the diversity of skills and approaches among principals and questions the professional decision making that teachers are allowed to make.

Can’t We All Just “Get Along?”
Does “Getting Along” Mean That We Have To Agree?

Aviva Dunsiger jumped into the conversation with a couple of her own posts, including a comment from her vice-principal.  She seems to think that there might be some sort of middle ground where everyone “gets along”.

All three blog posts are interesting to read and think about.  I would suggest that anyone who will be taking on a position of added responsibility read and think – what kind of administrator do I want to be, keeping in mind the old adage about pleasing all the people some of the time…and really put a focus on what it’s going to take for true student achievement.


And then, there’s principals learning…

Technology – SAMR for Administrators The Edutopia series
Technology SAMR Model for Administrators – Part 2: Community Interaction The Edutopia Series

Paul McGuire is digging in to how the SAMR model could apply to administrators.

Before moving to any particular tool, Work makes a great point – time is a precious commodity for any school staff and we need to really examine if there are other ways to convey information beyond the traditional (yawn) staff meeting.


Becoming a Google Educator Vice-Principal…

Kelly Power is spending her energies becoming “Googley”, but in an administrative kind of way…

KellyThat’s a lot of Google.


I hope that you get a chance to read all of the above.  Some great resources and thinking from Ontario Educators.  You can check out my entire list here and please, please, if you’ve started your own blog, take a couple of minutes and complete the form so that your blog can be added to the list.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Sure, it’s summer, but at great time for reading and blogging…check out these from Ontario Edubloggers.


Can You Change Someone Else’s Belief?

Jennifer Aston tries to answer this question as a result of her summer reading.

It’s a good question and one that I suspect some administrators expect from a successful coach.  Of course, if it was completely possible and successful, all educators would have the same beliefs.  Are we not richer by our diversity of ideas?  Would a better question not be “Why would we want to change someone else’s belief?” or “Could we not build on the strength of our current belief?”

Understanding what can and can not be done, it seems to me, is one of the powerful strengths of a coach.


Everything I Know And Do On Social Media I Learned From My Students

It was the title that had me hooked to read this post from Royan Lee.

I suspect that the title was written with a bit of tongue in cheek but the points that he argues most certainly are refined by interaction with students.

It is an enjoyable read and does make you think.


If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, How Many Lessons is That?

I can’t remember which racetrack it was but with two minutes to post time, marching music would play over the in house audio.  As an observer of human nature, I was amused with how the music would inspire people to get up and get in line to place wagers if they hadn’t already.

We experience music all over the place.  We experience sounds all over the place.  At the CSTA Conference, I was walking into the hotel – now you have to know that we were in the heart of St. Charles with wonderful Chicago traffic and noises somewhere.  And yet, this robin was sitting in a tree just singing her heart out.  Both my wife and I stopped in our tracks – it was in the middle of a driveway and so some traffic stopped as well – and we just listened to her.  There’s something so wonderful about hearing nature singing in that setting.

That’s the point of Rob Ridley’s post.

The question is – why not?  It can be so relaxing and non-distractive.

Of course, our recording would have been interrupted by the jerk who honked his horn and gestured for us to get moving from the middle of the driveway.  We did but the robin had left by the time we got safely to the side of the road.


Canadian Canoe Museum Paddle Found!

This post isn’t from my usual list of Ontario Educators but it just flowed so nicely from Rob’s post that I felt compelled to do it.

If you’re going out recording, keep your eye out for paddles!


The Void

Robert Hunking asks the questions that many of us bloggers do all the time.

Regardless, I hope that he can answer in the affirmative.  It’s sad when you see reflective or commentary blogs go away.


I really do hope that you can take the time to support the above bloggers with a quick link to their blog post.  I’m sure that they’ll appreciate it.  Check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  And, if you’ve started a blog this summer for whatever reason, add the link in the form so that we can all enjoy it.