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.

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?

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.

 

Images Resources Becomes Unbalanced


But it’s a good thing!

Earlier this summer, I shared a Symbaloo mix that I had created of the Images Resources that I’d gathered from here and there.  It is my go-to spot when I need an image for a particular reason.  I worked very hard to make sure that it was balanced so that it just looked nice when displayed in Symbaloo.

But, life goes on…

Recently, I discovered another incredible collection of images.  This time, the collection consists of 12 million-ish copyright free historic images.  Read the article above to find more about the collection plus the use of OCR to tag the images.  We know how important tagging is to find anything.  It’s also so humbling to think that there are really smart people using their skills to help the rest of us.

The problem is – where do I put it in my Symbaloo collection?

I decided to bite the bullet and extend my beautifully balanced collection by another row.

That bottom row does look a little lame at this point. 

But, I look at it this way.

This resource was just too good not to add.

I know that there will be more to come.

The actual URL hasn’t changed so if you’ve added this to your own Symbaloo collection, you don’t need to change a thing.  If not, create your own account and add it from there.

In the meantime, and most importantly, I now have quick and easy access to this collection of historical images.

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.

Q&A – Jeopardy Style


One of the favourite tools that was shared during my university class was a Flash based version of the popular game show, Jeopardy.  We talked about using it as a diagnostic tool or as a way to have students challenge their classmates during the research of a particular topic.  It certainly isn’t something that you base an entire course on, but it’s nice to shake things up a bit.  Paired with a SMARTBoard, it also helps students with their presentation skills.

These days, not all devices effectively use Flash anymore and so that opportunity is lost.  Plus, if you created a game at home, you had to remember to bring the questions to school in order to use it!  If there was an application that screamed for a web-based solution, this was it.

Enter Flipquiz.

Like so many things these days, there’s a free and a paid (pro) version. The free version has the features that you need to give it a fair shakedown.

Visit the site and try out the demo quiz that’s online.  Six categories with five questions in each category.

If you’ve watched early evening television in the last 50 years, the presentation is so familiar.

Choose a category and a value…

I’ll take NBA Teams for 400…

I’ll buzz in with the answer “Utah”.  A reveal shows the answer is true.

Selecting student responses can be done a number of ways – hands, call on a student, or I used to use those “That was easy” devices from Staples.

That’s about it! 

You’re not going to use it daily – it would lose its lustre – but add it to your arsenal.

A Sign for Trustees


Jaimie and I were out for our morning walk and we saw a red and white election campaign sign on a neighbour’s lawn.  We thought – hmmm, a politician who wants to align themselves with the Liberal Party.  As we got closer, it turned out to be a sign for a candidate for the local Catholic School Board.

For my non-Ontario readers, a quick briefing. 

In Ontario, we have three major political parties:

and a collection of other parties.

We also have four publicly funded school boards.

  • English Language Public School System
  • French Language Public School System
  • English Language Catholic School System
  • French Language Catholic School System

In addition, each municipality has a mayor, perhaps a deputy mayor, and councillors that are elected every four years.  School board trustees are elected at the same time.  Social media made for some interesting moments at a previous election when people started to take pictures and send a copy of their ballot out on Twitter.

It’s interesting how social media permeates so many of the things in our society.  During the last municipal elections around here, the buzzwords were “transparency” and “openness”.  Even though our community retains the fame (and signs) of being the Safest Community in Canada, there have been issues that have arisen that I’m sure will result in a higher than normal turnout of voters.  So, it seems to me that it’s more important than even for candidates for the school boards to be very visible.

During the last municipal elections, many turned to social media.  I thought, at the time, this was a great idea.  It’s free – but a blog, or Facebook presence, or Twitter presence would raise the visibility of candidates.  I actually started a list of candidates on Twitter and followed the discussion about the election and their thoughts on education. 

Then, the election was over.  Down came the lawn signs and the efforts to talk about issues on social media.  To be fair, there are still three local trustees that maintain a presence and do interact on social media.  But, from my perspective, that’s about it.

I wish I could properly attribute this quote but it’s stuck with me.  “The Primary Goal of any Politician, once elected, is to get Re-elected”.

As we walked by the lawn sign, we mused that it will be up for a couple of months and then taken down.  Similarly, how many social media accounts will do the same?

When you think of the things that could be done…

  • promote events at your representative schools;
  • check-in when you do school related activities;
  • share your rationale for school board votes;
  • share pictures of educational events;
  • promote the cause of school/district initiatives (Green Schools, etc.);
  • support fundraising activities;

In fact, here are a bunch of reasons why you should tweet.

Doesn’t it make sense to develop an educational digital footprint, care and feed it during the campaign, and then continue after the election?  Your constituency won’t learn about you from a random lawn sign; they’ll know your record, your successes, your passions, your dedication….