This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The dog had an incredibly brisk walk this morning.  (Thursday – you do know that I don’t get up in the middle of the night for these 5am postings, don’t you?)  We had been watching the news from Toronto as per our normal routine and both the host and the weather person referred to Friday as a PA Day for teachers.  That was it.  No clarification of exactly what that means.  I was so disappointed.  If they got that fact wrong, can you actually trust any of the stories that they report?  The actual event of Friday would be so easy to fact check.  In fact, if it was true that the teachers had negotiated a PA Day, it would be a great teacher bashing story – negotiating for the day before a two week vacation?  It’s just a reminder that so many people don’t get it.  They need to read this post “Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science. It’s Harder.”

And, maybe some of the awesome blogs that Ontario Educators write to demonstrate the ongoing work that it takes to get and stay on top of things in Education.
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Friday’s event didn’t pass by Brandon Grasley who took to poetry at:
Brandon
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Let’s lighten up things a bit…
Debbie Axiak shares some of the things that made her laugh this week.
Debbie
How many other professions can do that?
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This post, by Brian Aspinall, reminds me of an activity that I used to do with Grade 11 Computer Science students after they’ve “learned” how to do a sort in their programs, in Grade 12 and at the University pre-service class to reinforce the notion that they might be able to code a sort, but do they really understand how it’s done?  In this case, Brian incorporated Procedural Writing in Language Arts and Computer Science with this activity.  I like the way that he described the activity.  BEFORE you click through and read his post, just write down the steps that you think you need in order to make toast.  Now, read the post!
Brian
BTW, this isn’t the first step.
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Those of us who use technology so regularly know of the power that can be brought to the classroom and for students.  In this post, Mary-Ann Fuduric takes the time to itemize the power in the Assistive Technology realm.  In particular, she talks about
  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Decoding Skills
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Writing Skills

maryann

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’tis the season…

Not necessarily…
Tim
Tim King shares some of his thoughts about the Holiday season reasoned over time.  It serves to remind us that there are many takes to the season.  There’s nothing like trying to keep a lid on the container called Home Room with the school edict that this is just another school day when you’ve lived every morning since September with these kids and you know that, if there are 30 of them, there will be 30 different ways that will experience the break from the school routine.
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Normally, I do like to spread the acknowledgements for my TWIOE post around but had already tagged this post from Brandon Grasley for inclusion.  Then, he posted the Friday post and I felt compelled to include it as well.
brandon2
I was going to make a comment similar to what I did with Tim’s but I’m going to change direction just a big.  I think that it’s just testament to blogging and the power that goes along with it.  As I visited the post this morning, there were a number of readers who had taken the time to “like” it.  While “liking” may not necessarily be the best response to the post, it’s the only one other than leaving a comment that’s available to the reader.  I look at it as a way for folks to acknowledge that someone has bared their inner thoughts and to show that, despite whatever isolation we might feel at moments, we’re all in this together.
And, we sure wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for our social media connections.
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Having broken my own arbitrary rule, I’ll see your Brandon and raise you two Avivas.  Her blog was on fire this week.  There’s some good, thoughtful reading there.
Aviva
Aviva’s exploring ways of incorporating inquiry into her classroom.  This is quite an interesting approach.  Check her blog for details and I’m sure a reflection will be on its way.
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Amy Bowler got tagged in the Sunshine Blog Award meme.  Her Tumblr blog was a new find for me so I was curious to find out more about here.  Here’s what I now know!
Amy
Loblaws is such a classy place to meet a spouse.  I wonder what aisle?  What would the choice have been if she had gone to No Frills instead?
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Last week, I talked about a meme that was running around Ontario and North America.  It’s a fun little activity to get to know other just a little better.  As it typically happens, people end up getting double and triple tagged for these things.  To help avoid the situation, although apparently I didn’t do it completely, I tagged some folks in Europe that I deal with on a regular basis.  In fact, one of them, Marisa Constantinides and I have a number of Words with Friends games on the go at any time and this lovely lady clobbers me all the time.  So, I wanted to know more about her and included her.  She was good enough to play along…
Marisa
Well, I know so much more but I’m still puzzled at her amazing capacity to know words….
Marisa’s blog “TEFL Matters” is located here.
This just in…I also had tagged Vicky Loras in the same meme.  Vicky is an Ontarian taking up residence in Zug, Switzerland now, owning her own school.  Here are her answers to my questions.

Doug’s Questions:

  1. When was the last time you backed up your computer? I think it was in March – unfortunately, it crashed and asked me if I would like to back it up. I wish I had done it earlier, but I managed to save the majority of my files.
  2. If you could speak any language other than English, what would it be? I wish I could speak Turkish and Finnish fluently. They have always been languages that I would love to learn. I started off with Turkish and hope to start Finnish too.
  3. Where would you go for your dream vacation? I would love to go to Corsica, because I have been told a lot and shown lots of photos by a French student of mine.
  4. Have you ever received a parking ticket? No, because I don’t drive! Ha ha!
  5. You’re in control of the thermostat. What’s your ideal room temperature? Really warm, because I get cold easily.
  6. Have you ever taken an online course? I have – it was a 60-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course which I enjoyed immensely, and a Grammar one too.
  7. What was the last educational conference that you attended? It was the IATEFL BESIG (Buisiness English) conference in Prague, in November. I loved the sessions, the conversations that emerged from them – but my only disappointment was that I didn’t manage to see Prague almost at all, as I was there for only two and a half days.
  8. When was the last time you were in a public library? Very recently – it is one f my favourite places to be : )
  9. Have you ever dabbled with Linux? No ; )
  10. What would you consider to be the best photo you’ve ever taken? A sunset over Lake Zug. The colours were astounding and I was really surprised it came out that good, as it was with my phone.
  11. What, and where, is your favourite park? I love the parks in Niagara-on-the-Lake (well, actually the whole place : )

I had to smile when I read her answer to question 4.  Toronto would cure me of driving too.

Vicky’s blog is located here.

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Thanks for dropping by.  This is the last TWIOE post before Christmas so let me wish you the best for the holidays however you celebrate them.  Please click through and read the blogs at the links provided and check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  This week was actually a highly productive one for bloggers so you’ll see and read lots!

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Hour of Code Resources


As I noted in yesterday’s post, I hope that classrooms continue to incorporate coding into learning activities.  There are so many benefits and anyone with any kind of crystal ball can only see that the importance of being able to take control of one’s sure isn’t going to decrease.

To aid the cause, I have created a Pearltree of Resource for the Hour of Code.  There have been so many blog posts, newspaper articles, and class pages devoted for the advocation and sharing of successes.

I tried to focus on just the classroom room resources that one could use.  There were many developed and I’m not naive enough to say that this is the definitive list.  However, I am bold enough to say that this is a great place to start!

coding

You can access the Pearltree here.  Alternatively, I created a Learnist board with the same materials.

If you know of a resource that should be included, please let me know the resource.  I’d be happy to add it.

What Will You Do Now?


Last week was Computer Science Education Week.

Many people were involved with the Hour of Code.

If you read the blogs and stories that permeated the media, you’ll know

  • kids had a whale of a time;
  • teachers hopefully made the connections between coding and their regular curriculum;

For me, I enjoyed the Angry Birds activity from Code.org

I downloaded and really enjoyed Codecademy’s iOS app.

But, I wonder.  Are things done until there’s a similar push next year?

I sure hope not.

Hopefully, students and teachers have seen the benefits of coding.  Hopefully, school administrators will be supportive of more coding initiatives within their schools.  Hopefully, schools and school districts will recognize the need for solid professional learning opportunities for teachers.  One excellent opportunity is the CSTA’s Annual Conference.  This year’s event will be held in St. Charles, IL, July 14 and 15, 2014.

Let’s hope that people find a way to keep the momentum.  Search and bookmark Hour of Code Resources.  There’s a great deal just waiting to be used.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I can’t believe it’s Friday already.  The RCAC Symposium was just last week and it was another very inspirational day.  But the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers kept on coming.

I ran into one of those Internet/Blogging memes by being named.  I guess it’s a fun way to get folks who are blogging to interact with each other and gives them a chance to let folks know a bit about them.  A few people have already responded.

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Joint Work in the Digital Staff Room

This one was from Brian Harrison who actually was the person who tagged me.  Read the original piece at the link above.  To whet your appetite, here are 11 Random Facts about Brian.

image

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The second one that I found came from Royan Lee.  He called his post:

Dean Shareski’s Homework

And, 11 things you might want to know about Royan.

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Interesting.

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Brandon Grasley calls his Joyful Blogging in Response to @fryed

brandon

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Donna Fry “Brings Back Joy

Donna

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Just Laugh…

Aviva Dunsiger shared her thoughts about what happens when technology goes wrong in the classroom.  You see a lot of frustration from folks when technology doesn’t work.  It means that perhaps the lesson has to go to a “Plan B”.

It’s a cruel reality when working with technology and everyone who has ever tried to use technology has run into it.  In the staffroom afterwards, you’ll get the inevitable “That’s why I don’t use technology.”  It’s difficult to take on that discussion as you’re banging your head against the wall.

But, let’s not let it interfere with the process.  Our profession has always had points of failure that mess up good lessons.

  • assemblies that make the school run on shortened days;
  • students “sick” on the day of their presentation;
  • bulb blown on whatever projector you’re needing;
  • early dismissal for the sports team;
  • and everyone’s favourite – snow day!

The one thing that we keep hearing is how it’s not the technology; it’s the teaching; it’s the connections; it’s the collaboration…

Maybe we should step back from the technology more often and practice what we’re preaching?

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Thanks, everyone for being so open and sharing with your thoughts.  Please enjoy these and all Ontario Edubloggers at this Livebinder.  If you’re an Ontario Educational Blogger and your work isn’t listed, add yourself via the form!

 

Playing with nkwiry


Brian Aspinall has done it again!

Brian is rapidly gaining fame as creating free, incredibly student friendly web resources.  The hallmark of his products are ease of signup for teachers who just create a class and the students just use the class.  No collection of student information of any kind is done and no student email is required to use the service.  Too often, concerns about student information are enough to scuttle technology in the classroom plans.  That won’t happen here.

His latest production is called nkwiry.  nkwiry is a very classroom friendly social bookmark curating service.  There are many similar services on the web but they do require some involved account creation and then a bit of work (read explaining grown up sevices to students and the frustration therein) to get started before you can enjoy some success.

Using nkwiry is as simple as the three images below.

  • teacher creates a single account for the class;
  • students are added to the class;
  • students login with the class code and begin sharing.

Brian originally created nkwiry to supplement the inquiry process in the new Social Studies curriculum.

However, as a classroom teacher, you’re not locked into just Social Studies.  Your starter classroom curation looks like this.

Of course, you can add/remove subjects or topics as needed.  Adding a link to any category looks pretty familiar if you’ve used any of the popular bookmarking services.

The only thing that appears missing at this point would be creating tags for the bookmarks.  Perhaps in an upcoming release?

It’s as functional as that.  While the big services may have more features, Brian’s design is specifically for the elementary classroom and provides “just enough” features to do the job.

My first reaction was that this has potential far beyond the single classroom.  Instead, if you’re doing a project with another school, consider adding both sets of students into your classroom.  All that’s needed is the class name and student code.  Perhaps you’re blogging or creating online presentations with another class. nkwiry easily lets you create a functional list summary of all of the participants.

If you’re looking for a simplified interface for curating resources and aren’t interested in having your students wade their way through the features of the current big services, nkwiry may be “just enough” to help you get the job done.

By way of declaration, Brian was a student of mine at the Faculty of Education.  Regardless, I am a fan of his approach to creating simplified tools for the classroom with a minimum of registration and respect for student information.  You can read an interview that I did with Brian here.

If you like what you’re seeing, make sure you check out his other products, all free and specifically written for the classroom.

And, if you are attending the Western RCAC Symposium this Thursday in London, drop by and meet Brian.  He’s presenting in the morning about how he introduces his students to coding.  Maybe we’ll find out that his students actually wrote this?