OTR Links 09/13/2014


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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.

OTR Links 09/12/2014


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

A New Start with Education


I had lunch yesterday with Charlie Wright (@cerwright on Twitter).  Charlie is the deputy mayor of Leamington.  Leamington certainly has been in the news in the recent past with the announcement that the 100 year old Heinz facility was being closed.  Reports are that 740 jobs in that industry would be lost.

The recent good news is that the plant will be assumed by Highbury Canco and that it would require 250 people for its operations.

As could be imagined, such a big hit to any community the size of Leamington (~30 000) would have a huge impact on the community.  Not only is the impact felt by those who worked in the plant, a Leamington institution for as long as I can remember, but for the farming community and the retailers throughout the town.

If those jobs are gone, what can you as a community do?

You would hope that education might provide an answer.

Another problem is that Leamington isn’t easily accessible to Windsor or Chatham, the two closest places with educational opportunities with St. Clair College and/or the University of Windsor.  It’s about a 45 minute drive to either location.

You might that a distance education solution would be appropriate but, in this case, it’s not viable.  So, if you can’t get to the mountain, bring the mountain there.

In partnership with St. Clair College, the town has made an educational arrangement that could be very helpful.

St. Clair College will be physically coming to town and offering a diploma program in Business Computing Applications.  The program, composed of 10 courses will be offered in the evenings from 6-9:30 over the course of the year.  Topics include accounting, computing applications, and more.  The logic is to provide a program of marketable skills for a movement into other industries.

Apparently, there is also an interest from existing businesses to upgrade the skills of other employees.

If you check Charlie’s Twitter timeline, you’ll see that he’s been busy going from door to door promoting this offering.

This provides a unique opportunity for those affected to take control over their careers and their learning at this difficult time.

I hope that enough of the residents see this as a solution and take advantage of it.

OTR Links 09/11/2014


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Data Spoils a Good Walk


I know, not original, Doug.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.- Mark Twain

But, it’s still an appropriate spinoff.

Today’s the day for Apple’s latest, big event.  The internet is alive with stories and speculations about what might be announced.  I’ve been watching, with amusement, the content from the big Apple fanboys and girls.  It goes even so far as to making indications about what they’re going to buy – even before it’s announced???

Anyway, one of the speculated new devices is the iWatch.  So, it just seems appropriate that today is the day to write a blog post about my birthday present.

My daughter demanded that I blog about it so here goes…  For you, Weaze.

Four years ago, we adopted the world’s best pet.  Ever since Jaimie came home, my walking patterns have changed dramatically.  I’ve gone from a nice stroll down the block to three power walks a day.

“I always crash after a good walk”

A while ago, my friend @sadone told me about an app that I could install on my phone that would count the number of steps I take in a day.  So, Noom Walk was installed and, at the end of the day, it was with curiosity that I would check the number of steps made.  I double the count and that’s Jaimie’s score for the day.  Doug’s advice to me was that I should take 10 000 (20 000 dog steps) a day.  It was always a bonus when that happened.

Mid-August was my birthday and the kids all chipped in to buy me a Fitbit Flex.  Essentially, it’s this rubber device that you wear on your wrist and it counts steps and, if you configure it properly, you can have it monitor your sleeping patterns.  There’s no digital display – it has five LEDs that let you know your progress towards your daily goal of steps.  I configured it for 10 000 steps and so each LED lights up at 2 000.  The band syncs with a computer or smartphone via bluetooth.  I started syncing to my laptop but switched to the phone which seems somehow more convenient.

A green one?  Of course.  You were expecting some other colour?

I’m coming up to about a month of wearing it and here are some of my observations…

  • It’s easier to hit 10 000 than on the phone.  I put the Fitbit on in the morning and just leave it on.  The phone is only counting when it’s actually in my pocket and I’m (we’re) moving.
  • I haven’t worn a watch in years.  Even before I had a smartphone, there were clocks everywhere and so never had the need.  Now, all computers and smartphones have easily visible time devices.  And yet, even though it’s been years, I must look at my wrist a dozen times a day to see what time it is.  There’s got to be a long lost brain synapse connection somewhere.  It amuses my wife who is constantly asking what time it is just to see me look at my arm.  Grrr.
  • I don’t monitor my sleep.  When I first got the device, I tried it and just found it annoying.  I know that I’m a light sleeper as it is, but this seems to make my sleep habit worse.  It was concerning to note that I was restless 30 times at night.  I now take the device off for bed.
  • I find it interesting to take my phone and the Fitbit for a morning walk when they both start at zero.  At the end of the walk, they never report the same number of steps.  Weird.
  • It’s 4 200 (8 400) steps to the firehall and back.  It’s 2 100 (4 200) steps around the Navy Yard in town.  It’s 3 200 (6 400) steps if I extend the Navy Yard walk to include going up to Sandwich Street by the Tim Horton’s.  I’m now becoming a fountain of even more useless trivia.
  • You can game it by taking longer or shorter steps. I can now confirm that not all steps are equal.  You knew that.  I have quantitative data.
  • The best episode on Pawn Stars was the step counting one where Corey attached his device to a paint can shaker…
  • My interest in walking data has changed.  With Noom Walk, at the end of the day, I’d check in and see how far I walked.  Now, I’m forever tapping to light up the LEDs to see how close to my goal I am.  I’m not sure I like that – it’s ruining a good walk!  But it does help set a goal.  There is a nice feeling to sync and get the congratulatory message that you’ve achieved your goal.

So there you go, Weaze.  Unlike the tie that hangs in the closet, this present has become part of my life and has made some changes to the way I do things.

OTR Links 09/10/2014


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.