OTR Links 02/14/2016


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

Anatomy of a tweet


Just for fun.

This Twitter message flew across my timeline the other day.  Now, the first inclination is to “favourite” or “like” it.

Until I checked the message sender’s profile, that is.  (name withheld)

The person is a new Twitter user, with very few messages, at a university studying education and the timeline is all about resources available for teaching.  That sound you just heard was my ego deflating.  The message wasn’t inspired by my insights and over the top writing style; it was probably a class assignment.

I know the routine – I used it as a way to get teacher candidates interested in taking a look at what’s available and, hopefully, get the message that being isolated in education these days is a choice that they can make for themselves.  It doesn’t have to be that way; there are all kinds of educators sharing and connecting.  You just need to jump in so the activity is a very helpful one.

So, let’s analyse this message.

  • “Check out”
    Always a good lead in.  It’s a call to action right up front.
  • “@ https://t.co/sckBTQQvlu
    This could be a challenge to this person’s classmates if they’re new to Twitter.  You don’t typically precede a URL with a @.  That’s reserved for usernames.
  • “very interesting thoughts”
    Perhaps a little redundant.  The opposite would be “very boring thoughts” and hardly worth a recommendation.  I’ll live with “very interesting thoughts”.  They typically were at the time that I wrote them.  (at least to me)
  • “variety of topics”
    The blogger obviously has a lack of focus on a particular topic.  Or, perhaps, the blogger has an opinion about everything.  Or, perhaps, the person has a wide variety of interests.  Let’s go with that one.
  • “witty”
    Finally!  Someone recognizes that.  It’s a far cry from the Christian Science Monitor that called me “snooty”.
  • “veteran educator”
    I remember the first time I was called “veteran”.  I had just turned 30.  I’m sure older than that now.  I’m glad the high road was taken and the term “old fart” not used.

Enough of this silliness. 

Let’s go back to the original assumption that it was a class assignment. 

I really do think it’s a good assignment for teacher candidates.  I’m humbled that either this student or the professor involved chose to look at doug — off the record for this purpose.  It’s also a reminder that there are people who do read your blog.  So, if you do blog yourself, it’s your incentive to keep on keeping on. 

Hopefully, at that education school, teacher candidates are encouraged to get actively connected to other educators – veteran or not – because there’s so much to know and learn to be the best in your profession.  While at it, I think it would be a great idea for them to create a Twitter list and a Blog Roll of their classmates so that they can remain connected after graduation.

The more connections; the more options.

OTR Links 02/13/2016


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and a time to share some of the reading that I did this past week from Ontario Edubloggers.  I know that I say it every week but this really is a wonderfully intriguing collection and insightful group.  Are you from Ontario and blogging?  Click that link and get yourself added.


Resources for #BlackHistoryMonth & Beyond

Rusul Alrubail says it all in her introduction to this post.

February is #BlackHistoryMonth and many of us feel conflicted in teaching lessons specifically designed for #BlackHistoryMonth since we should be teaching about Black History throughout the entire school year. I wanted to share some great resources for teachers who are looking to implement lessons on Black History throughout the year, and what better time to start then now?

The balance is a wonderful collection of resources, not just for this month, but ongoing. 

Important, because it’s local to south-western Ontario, is the African-Canadian Heritage Tour.  There is a great deal of history here, including the Amherstburg Freedom Museum and a month’s worth of activities.  A phenomenal collection of resources can by found on the Black History Canada website.

You’re going to want to check out Rusul’s post and most certainly bookmark her references.


Snapshots from Helping a Syrian Family

There were a couple of readings this morning that put this blog post in perspective for me.

Jennifer Aston is known as an instructional coach.  With this post, I think we should elevate her to a coach for social conscience.

It starts as:

Helping a Syrian family is…

You’ve got to read her list.  It’s a great model for conversations in other classrooms and at home.

Equally as important are the closing comments.

This is not a family of refugees anymore.

They are new Canadians.


Virtual Classroom visit with Cmdr Hadfield!

OK, here’s a wonderful opportunity for students.  Nadine Persaud’s class had the chance to listen to Canada’s famous space traveller.

And, it’s recorded in a couple of YouTube videos!


Professional Learning… how do I get started…

Alana Callan shares some great ideas for her faculty at Fleming College (I still find it awkward to call it that…).  But, it’s good to see that she’s taking this seriously and taking staff along for the ride.  She models her own learning by sharing her current reading.

Of particular interest to me is the Faculty Competency Framework.

It’s coloured to show the stages of a faculty member’s career.  It’s very interesting and puts aside the notion of one size fits all.  I like the way that it respects experience.


My Brother is Autistic: Part 4

Last week, I made reference to Royan Lee’s then three part story “My Brother is Austic”.

This week, he’s added Part 4 with a promise of Part 5 to come.

In the meantime, we have more stories of Royan’s dealing with autism.

Timothy was autistic. Anything would set him off. A sound, a movement, a word, a look. In a room with half a dozen other kids with serious self-regulation issues, he was the bellwether. Looking back, I realize that Timothy had a sixth sense for anticipating conflict in my class.

If you’re just jumping in, do yourself a favour and visit Part 1 and the subsequent posts to get the complete picture.


VR Bubbles are Cool!

I can always rely on Andy Forgrave to teach me something outrageously cool, cutting edge and then ask myself when I would ever use this.

This time around, he took inspiration from Colleen Rose and used an application called Bubbl.  Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be an Android version.  Maybe soon.  In the meantime, my learning phrase for the week is “dynamic spherical photos”.

The Bring IT, Together Conference could be a great deal of fun!


News from CMEC

Education students at Western University (I still find that awkward too) were informed of the release of the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) on the history of residential schools in Canada.  A link is provided to the final report.  Thanks, Denise Horoky for sharing this for potential educators and the rest of us who happen by your blog.


Semester change

Do you remember those cartoons “Happiness is”?

It sounds like, in Brandon Grasley’s case, the answer is “having his own classroom”.

I have my own classroom! That’s pretty sweet. I haven’t had that happen in a long time. I have to make it more inviting though. It’s a bit sterile for my taste. Nothing a Star Wars poster (or mural…hmmm…) can’t fix.

I can totally agree. There’s nothing more inhibiting than sharing a classroom. You can’t get into the room early to prepare. You can’t stick around and give students a bit of extra help. If anything goes wrong, you know exactly who was sitting where. You get to do your own decorating (Star Wars?) You don’t have to keep a clean desk. You don’t plan on a resource being there and finding out that it’s gone. Yes, happiness is …


Isn’t that just an incredible collection of great reading and sharing again from Ontario Educators?  Please take the time to drop by each post for the entire story.

The big list of Ontario Edubloggers is located here.  If you’re not on the list and are blogging, please consider filling out the form to add yourself.

OTR Links 02/12/2016


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

The textbook redefined


Where would education be without textbooks?

I think about just about every course that I ever took and there it was.  In fact, it was a part of the ceremony of the first day of class.  You get the textbook – it’s numbered so that you’re accountable for it – you sign for it and then use it in the course for the term/semester/year.  At university, there’s a rush to go to the bookstore because they really don’t trust you and you have to buy your own.  I know that there was a used bookstore but they never seemed to have the books that I needed.  And forget the library; textbooks were on the shelves but you couldn’t borrow them to take home.  They were restricted for use at the library only.  Later, as a teacher, I was on the other end of that numbered list distributing and recording textbooks on the first day of class, collecting them on the last day of class except for the students who wanted them to study for the exam, and then going to the exam room and collecting them.  Then, you have to reconcile the collection with the original distribution list and identify those texts that have to be rebound or replaced over the summer.  Also, there’s the occasional call home to ask mom and/or dad to make sure that it’s returned.  Textbooks are hard work.  We’re now even concerned about back issues with students who put them in their knapsacks and carry them to school and back over one shoulder.  Whew!

At my university courses, we didn’t have a textbook.  Everything was done on the class wiki.  Since all the class had read/write abilities, we were actually writing the book as we went through the course.  Students would attach their presentation packages, links to resources, and links to Google forms and other online documents for quick and easy access.  But, if the truth be told, if we really had to, we could have sent the content to the printer and everyone have their own paper copy.  At least for the most part – because the course was Computer Science, there would have been links to programs or snippets of code to run to demonstrate a learning concept.  At this point, the traditional approach didn’t serve our needs.

The past couple of days, I’ve been reading about a new Google initiative called “Editions at Play.’

There’s even a Twitter account to follow.

Read The Verge‘s take here.

At present, there are two books available for purchase.  Under the two, there’s a section where people are crowdsourcing/brainstorming ideas.

Naturally, my thoughts turn to education.  There are those advocates who talk about change by saying that we should “ban the textbook”.  There’s a great deal to be said for that.  The traditional textbook, by design, is linear and builds on concepts.  Of course, there are questions and problems at the end of each concept so that students can practice what they’re supposed to have learned.  I’m looking at you, math textbooks.  Of course, there has to be the teachers’ answer key to accompany.

For a moment, throw out all the textbooks and think about your subject/students and what really should be happening in class.  For that same moment, forget that this concept requires that every user has a smartphone to function.

If you could be “champion for the cause”, could you describe a book for your subject area that couldn’t be printed?  Does the concept take us any closer to the change/revolution that engages and champions all students? 

What does it look like?

Chances is, if you’re a teacher, you’re drawing a blank because you went through the system described above. 

What would your students say?

OTR Links 02/11/2016


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