Meaning of American Pie by Don McLean (w/lyrics)


Recently, a high school friend shared this YouTube video.  With my really slow internet connection, I don’t watch a lot of videos but I sure did for this one.

In our high school days, you could count on this song being played at least a few times a day.  It was often the last song of a disk jockey’s shift – my theory being that with a long song, they got to leave work early.  This was popular for that purpose as well as Stairway to Heaven.

In the beginning, it was just a great song to listen to and sing along.  

Then, as we got older, we realized that it was a song with a powerful message.

Now, with this video, it goes well over the top.  As you listen to the video, watch the imagery that the author has synced to the music.  Even years later, I made new connections with the lyrics.

This is definitely worth the time to bookmark.

I’ll bet that you play it more than once to make sure that you take it all in.  There’s so much there.

OTR Links 04/30/2016


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday and a chance for me to share with you some of the spectacular reading I enjoyed recently from great Ontario Edubloggers.  I had some self-inflicted damage to my regular process.  Normally, as I read things, I just keep the blog open in a tab and minimize them with One Tab until Thursday morning when I actually write the post.  However, this was a week of maintenance and browser shuffling and I lost the posts that I had tucked away.  I think I remember everything that was saved but maybe not.  I had a better plan when I stuck the URLs into Keep or Evernote.  Perhaps that’s my biggest learning of all.  Shortcuts can come back to bite you.  If you wrote a great post and I neglected it, please send me a message “Hey dummy, you missed this…”


Taking Chances

I’m not sure that much more needs to be said than how Denise Buttenaar closes this blog after a pretty active reflection session on her personal practice and what it meant to her.  I don’t think that anyone should expect that a blog post is going to be the “next great novel”.  However, a year from now if she continues to share her thoughts to herself, it may be the “next great professional diary” and I don’t think an educator can ask for more than that.  Blogging shouldn’t be an all encompassing event.  It’s the accumulation of thoughts that leads to the impressive.


Oh boy, here it is!

Donna Fry gave me the heads up on the birth of this new blog and here’s the first post from Kelly Colter.

I think that the first “way” is something that we all need to ‘fess up about.  If we weren’t influenced by others, it would be a pretty lonely connected life.  It’s the connections and the shared learning that makes it so powerful.  Of real importance to me is the selection of the connections – regular readers know of my passion for those who blog about Ontario Education.  That’s not the only influence – another that easily comes to mind is the cadre of Computer Science teachers that serve as inspiration.  By joining, hopefully Kelly can keep it up and, with her words, influence whatever group she wishes.  She’s now in my little group of Ontario Edubloggers.


Moments of Empathy

If someone asked me who I would like to write like, I could name quite a few and certainly near the top would be Rusul Alrubail.  She doesn’t necessarily whip out the thesaurus or come across as pretentious, but it’s just the way that she strings her words together that touches the reader at a different level.  I can’t think of a post from her that doesn’t give me pause for serious reflection and I can’t think of a better compliment to pay to a blogger.

So, I thought – who would have been my favourite teacher?  A number of really good ones came to mind and I could create a short list.  When I thought just a little harder, the “favourite” had some un-favourite moments so I moved on to the next on my list.  I’d find issues here and there too.  Instead, I changed my thinking.  What if I took a bit of him and a bit of her and a bit of her and made my favourite a teacher an amalgam of the best parts.  Wow, that was a great teacher and, the common thread was the empathy that each showed.

For any teacher whose goal is to reach every child, (whether or not you want to be their favourite is a personal, competitive activity) take a read of Rusul’s post.  We all have our bad days and those stick out because of the lack of empathy.  Could that be a gutcheck for success?  Recognize it and deal with it before it unduly negatively affects students.


Thanks for your leadership and support!

When you think of people that are centrally assigned as resource teachers – what do you immediately think of?  Hot and cold running coffee and an endless supply of doughnuts?  After reading Jennifer Casa-Todd’s post, you may wish to change your opinion.

In the post, she nicely ties things together and may give you an insight to what they actually do.

The one thing that she isn’t explicit about and I’m sure that it’s true in her job and others, and certainly was key to mine was getting out of the central location and visiting schools.  When I took over that role, I never wanted to be accused of being “out of touch” with the classroom because it’s so easily done when you’re not in one on a daily basis.

My favourite quote from my former superintendent was “Where is he today?” as he came into the Program Department area looking for me.  I wish I’d heard it first hand because it could be interpreted so many different ways.

If you don’t see your centrally assigned person often enough, why not sign up for professional activities or just extend an invitation to her/him to come and visit your classroom?  You might be pleasantly surprised at how eagerly they’ll jump at the opportunity.


#TBT: Is Our Focus On Assessment Taking Away From Our Children’s Education

If nothing else, Stephen Hurley’s latest post is worth visiting just for the image.  What the heck, here it is, complete with his credit to the author.

It’s a throw back post that is just as relevant today as when he originally posted it.

This is an interesting look at assessment and evaluation.  I can’t remember a year where it wasn’t “the board’s focus” and it certainly is important.  It informs what is done for student achievement.  It’s just that it changes so frequently.  I remember a person new to my department whose theory was that by changing focus annually, it kept the pedagogues in business as the pendulum swings back and forth.

If you need some moments of reflection today, make sure that you get to the bottom of the post and reflect on Stephen’s questions.


The End of Average

A book, a TED talk, and an infographic fill this post from Erica Armstrong.

This is the perfect followup to Stephen’s post.  Play the TED talk as you go about things this morning.  You’ll be glad you did.

Do you agree with the affirmation that “the average hurts everyone”?

What are you going to do about it?


What’s the hardest thing a teacher does?

If you read Kristin Phillips blog, you’ll read this more than once.

“Try something new; no one will die”.

I recall a mathematics teacher of some infamy whose choice of worksheet for the day would rival the accuracy of any calendar!

Kristin gives us five bullet points (paragraphs) as to what she feels has worked with her schools.

Would they work in yours?


I say this every week and I never tire of it.

What an amazing collection of blogs.  Please click through and read them in their entirety and drop them a comment.  They deserve it.

Then, check out the rest of the Ontario collection here.  If you’re blogging and not listed, just complete the form and you will soon be.

OTR Links 04/29/2016


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

Taking the challenge


I can’t ignore a good challenge.  Recently, Alfred Thompson challenged me to test out Microsoft’s new CaptionBot application.  He said that he had been having great success with it and challenged me to try it.  The premise is simple; you send it a photo and it describes what it sees.  It’s important to not send personal photos in times like this.

It’s learning so I’ll use my best teacher empathy.  We always try to find the best in our learners, right?

Don’t tell the rest of the Bring IT, Together Committee but I had it open in another window during our meeting last night and was playing around with it so see what I could do with it.

Here are my results…I just dug around some photos from some trips that were on the hard drive and decided to see how they worked.

The Famous Crab

A friend gave me this photo of a crab from a Scuba trip he’d been on.  It was a fond photo for sharing and editing in my Photoshop workshops.  If that was indeed a plate of food, arrangement needs to be revisited!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls at night is one of the most spectacular things to witness (and capture with a camera).  I’m thinking the bot needs to go out more!

Philadelphia

Well, if you look past that big bell with the crack in it, there is a man walking with the person with the umbrella in the background.

St. Louis

I guess I was distracted by that large arch thing when I took the photo.  There is indeed a building off to the right. 

St. Louis (again)

This sports fan was fascinated with the chance to take a photo of classic Busch Stadium.  I completely missed the elevated freeway in the background.

San Antonio

I’ve been to San Antonio twice and never fail to be humbled by the Alamo Shrine which served as a mission.

Phoenix

Bingo!

Well, that was fun.  I don’t think I’m ready to start not tagging my own photos anytime soon though.

Have you tried out the Caption Bot with your own pictures?  What kind of success did you have? 

I’m sure that this student will get better over time and learns.  We just need a bit of patience.

OTR Links 04/28/2016


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

A rich problem


OK, I don’t do this often but I’m going to share my latest get rich quick scheme.  Everyone can do it and it’s perfectly legal.

I was inspired to share after watching this video yesterday.  It’s a lesson in Mathematics, Business, and Consumer Studies in itself.

It’s the 99 at the end that got me thinking.  The Canadian penny has been removed from circulation (or at least is in the process) and so prices have to be adjusted accordingly.  This information from the Canadian Mint explains the rounding rules for cash transactions.  The key is cash transactions.  If the transaction ends in .03, .04, .08, or .09, the transaction is rounded up to the next amount that is payable by the remaining currency.  (nickel, dime, quarter, dollar)  If the transaction ends in .01, .02, .06, .07, the final bill is reverted to the lower amount payable by the same currency.

Remember the signs on gas pumps when self-serve became popular “If you pump pennies, you pay pennies”.  Be careful if you’re paying cash.

My first inclination was to hoard until this appeared on Storage Wars.  “A Canadian penny?  That’s a hundred dollar bill all day long”.

If you’re not paying by cash and using debit or credit instead, the exact amount is paid.  So here was my plan.  I would come ready to pay both ways depending upon the final bill.  If it was going to be rounded up and I get charged the extra pennies, I would pay with debit or credit.  If I could make a penny or two by paying cash, I would pay cash.  Mental math was put on trial but you also have to wait for the taxes to be added so I just waited until the cashier gave me the final total.

It seemed to make sense and I tried it, lasting for like one or two days.  By then, it had become too much effort with not much benefit and I realized I could make more money collecting bottles from the ditch while walking the dog.

It really wasn’t original either.  A conversation at Tim Horton’s let me know that others had this plan too.  I wonder if they still are doing it.

Anyway, the wealth of the situation may not be a personal wealth but I think it would be a fun and relevant activity for a Computer Science program.  Write a program that obeys the rules and pays either by cash or debit/credit depending upon the total.  You’d just need some test data.

How about a class bringing in their grocery receipts for a week.  On second thought, it’s probably not a good idea as students would be bound to compare.  The worst would be to find out who buys Heinz ketchup and who buys French’s.  But, in reality when you think about it, it’s not the complete total that’s required.  Just the digits after the decimal.  That would be easily collected and put into an CSV text file.  Perhaps lastname, value.

Then, the program would run and determine the total paid if by cash or debit/credit and how much the savings/cost would be.  Total the value for the class.  What’s the net effect if everyone used cash or if everyone paid with debit/credit or if everyone paid with the best possible option?  It seemed like a fun idea so I whipped up my own in Small Basic.  I didn’t have a class of receipts so just generated some random numbers.  Not surprisingly, I ended up almost even in the process.  So much for getting rich quick.  As I was contemplating this, I realized that it would be a nice exercise in a spreadsheet not dissimilar to what Brandon Grasley did here.

I guess the bottom line is that sometimes the best problems are all around us.  We just have to think them through.  That’s far more interesting and relevant to Canadians since the demise of the penny.  If you’re an American reader, you might want to get prepared.  Word is that you’re thinking of following our lead.