Testing


I ran across this story in my reading this morning.

Parents concerned NDP considering elimination of standardized tests

I recognize that the story comes from Alberta but, as we know, all of the provinces keep an eye on each other and many ideas spread across the country.  Certainly, standardized testing is one of these things.

It has created a number of really scary things…

  • with Fraser Institute “School Report Cards”, we now can compare school to school
  • real estate agents use the school scores, where positive, as a selling point for houses
  • a great deal of finger pointing goes at school districts, schools, teachers when lower scores are reported
  • anxiety increases for students during testing periods
  • regular teaching has been modified to teach to the test
  • a whole industry of outside of school hours tutoring has risen

You can most certainly find all kinds of resources that try to address these concerns.

Designed to take a snap shot in time of the learning, entire educational careers can be wrapped up into these tests and their results.

What about the teaching and learning that goes on for the rest of the school year?  What about the learning that isn’t covered on the tests and yet is crucial for student success?

On the positive side, results have allowed the teaching profession to look inwardly at what and how teaching is done.  

What concerns me, I guess, is the implication that parent concern over these provincial testing seems to trump the daily assessments, the ongoing learning of the student, the improvement of the profession, the home to school connection.

Have standardized tests sold themselves so well that nothing else matters?

OTR Links 10/01/2016


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.


Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.


Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.


Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.


Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!


How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.


Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.


Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.


What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.

OTR Links 09/30/2016


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

DIgging through the map archives


As Aviva Dunsiger notes, I’ve been doing a map thing this week.

It’s the advantage of doing your own blog. You can write about whatever you want. As I’ve noted before, I like to document my learning through blog posts and all of what I wrote this week was part of my ongoing learning.  It’s been fun.  Unlike Aviva who claims to have an aversion to maps, I find them fascinating.  I’ve always loved reading maps but what Google, Bing, and OpenStreetMap have done in the digital era just puts it over the top.

To close off the set of posts, I’m going to do something that I don’t do often – show a Post from the Past.  But it’s consistent with the theme and one of the posts that I really got into.  It was all about using Google Streetview to share some places from my youth.  It goes back to 2010.  Have I been blogging that long?  

Just a quick commentary; if I was doing this with students today, I’d perhaps use Streetview for inspiration and see if the timeline feature would be helpful.  I’d take it even further.  So many have cell phones these days; why not send students out to get their own pictures?  There has been a great deal of discussion lately about banning homework – why not take it one step further and have the student go out for an ice cream and a tour of their own with their parents and use mom or dad’s cell phone to take some pictures and do some family storytelling along the way.  Either way, bring back the pictures to create the final story.

Here’s the original post:

My Childhood Community

I was inspired to do this from a project by ZeFrank called “A Childhood Walk”.  I think that it’s a terrific concept and I’m going to try to replicate some of it here.  As a child, we occasionally went for walks but were always on bicycle tooling around town.  Recently, I was actually in my childhood town of Clinton and went out to take a picture of the Cowper Street sign for a friend of mine, @cowpernicus, who used it on his blog and shared it with his father who had never heard of a Cowper Street.  Hey, we had that in Clinton, and more.  What blew me away as I was sending him a Google map showing the place was that this small Ontario town had been mapped by Google’s Streetview.  That makes today’s entry possible.

Read the entire post here.

And, a related post.

OTR Links 09/29/2016


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

Another unique option


The past couple of days has seen me taking a look at a couple of mapping options.  To the list, I’d like to add a third – OpenStreetMap.

It’s considerably different from the other two which are managed by Google and Bing.  OpenStreetMap is created and built by the local community.  

Consequently, the community decides what gets added and, probably is more frequently updated as new locations become available.  Heck, just like Wikipedia, it could be edited by you and/or your students.  Details are available here.

I went back to Lasalle and started poking about.  What I found really intriguing here was the various mapping options available via the overlays.

It was kind of interesting to poke around and look at the cycling trails that have been built into the town’s infrastructure.

As for transportation, you can’t take a look around Essex County without checking out the uniqueness that is the Tunnel Bus from downtown Windsor to downtown Detroit.  It makes for interesting trips to Comerica Park, Ford Field, Cobo Hall, Greektown, and all of the other wonderful things to see in downtown Detroit.

Because the integrity is managed by the community, in theory, a chance in bus routes should be changed almost immediately.

One thing that I really enjoy with all three of the services are how clean the display is.  I think it’s important to recognize that there should be more than one tool in your mapping toolkit.  OpenStreetMap definitely is one to add.