OTR Links 06/29/2016


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

The best qualifications


I guess Lisa Noble was getting caught up on her blog reading over the weekend.  In two successive messages, I read:

and later

It was the second message that really made me happy and got personal.

One of the things that you don’t necessarily see are the comments that you get when you share a Google resource or a Microsoft resource or a something else resource.  The “fan-people” from opposing technologies’ camps sometimes leap in with some nasty stuff.

But, Doug, aren’t you a certified distinguished exemplary expert whatsit?

The answer is “partially”.  A few years back, my superintendent had me take a certification course from a vendor to see if it would fit into our district’s plans.  It was fun to meet the new people and certainly the online connections have persisted.

But there were a few things that nagged me and the superintendent when we met to go over the course materials in our debrief.

  • it wasn’t necessarily required but we were encouraged to take issue when someone talks about a competing technology and show how it could be done with the one we’d explored in the course
  • the course was full of really neat features (the geeky me actually enjoyed that) but other than showing them off, you’d probably never use them in a real classroom
  • the focus was on the technology and any curriculum connections were only mentioned in passing
  • in our debrief, we focussed on the fact that we weren’t a training facility and to focus on one technology at the expense of all others was a real disservice to teachers and students
  • and probably a whole bunch of other things

The bottom line was that we thought it would ultimately be a limiting factor for education if it was only about the technology and only about that technology.  So, we passed on going any further and reverted to in-house sessions that focused on a wide variety of things, mostly district purchased, Ministry of Education licensed or freely available, and always starting and ending with the curriculum.  The driving force was to help teachers/students pick the best available tool to address the curriculum.  We thought at the time, and I still do, that this was the very best and responsible approach.

So, when Lisa used the expression “equal opportunity”, I felt really good.

But what’s a district to do?  Certainly, we in education like our credentials.  Who hasn’t gone to the OCT site and searched for a teacher to see his/her qualifications?

There is another route and I would suggest it’s of the best value.  The Scouting movement has known it for years.  I’ve mentioned it here on this blog a few times.  It’s the concept of badging.  With a couple of current educational events recently, Doug Belshaw has shared some of his thoughts about it.

I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and explore these links and wonder – “why aren’t we doing this in my district?”  After all, when you apply for a new position, you bring your portfolio with you and share your learning with a new principal or superintendent.  The parents of your students have no idea what you’ve done and what you could do.  Wouldn’t an accumulation of badges on your blog or wiki be helpful?

A comprehensive badging program wouldn’t be limited to just technology either.  Think of all the learning opportunities that could be celebrated in this manner.

After all, the badging system would be based on what’s important locally instead of for a big corporation?  There may well still be a desire to learn more.

Certainly the other option might serve to enhance but isn’t learning that’s consistent with the local goals and aspirations the best and most important qualifications?

OTR Links 06/28/2016


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

Time to reflect


Teaching is such a busy profession.  In the last week before the summer break, it becomes even busier.  Teachers are:

  • finishing administrative work
  • packing and cleaning classrooms
  • planning to take home so many personal artifacts that you brought in this year
  • finding things in places that you didn’t know existed
  • some are packing to move to a new classroom
  • some are packing to move to a new school
  • some are packing to move to a new job/position/life choice
  • doing inventory
  • getting ready to take summer courses
  • planning to deliver professional learning opportunities
  • and so much more…

I think that it’s time, in Ontario, to take a collective sigh and read this article from the Kenora Daily Miner and News.

More high school graduates in Ontario today than ever

It’s an uplifting story and I hope that it gives you pause for reflection.

Statistics like those included in the story aren’t generated by accident.  They’re a result of great efforts by a system, a school, and importantly, the group of teachers that impact on student learnings and attitudes.

In no small part, this means you.

This is such a powerful message from Lord Baden-Powell.

That’s what good teachers do.

As you’re going through the hectic things that you’re doing, consider all that you did during the past year to make things better for your students.

It’s a worthy activity to make your own Top Ten List.  Whether or not you share it with others is up to you.  

Through all the trials and challenges of teaching which can sometimes monopolize so much of your thinking, there’s been so much good that happened.  Focus on that as you wrap things up and it’s the nature of the profession that you’re already planning for September.

OTR Links 06/27/2016


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

Whatever happened to …


… Clay Animation?

The time frame was during what many call the golden years of Saturday Night Live.  One of the popular segments was featured Mr. Bill.  The skits were hilarious. About the same time, a recurring television commercial featured the California Raisins.

One of the CAITs that I had the honour of working with attended a Clay Animation workshop, came back, and shared the concept with us.  Basically, it was frame animation.  You know the type…you take a picture of something, adjust it just a bit, take another picture, adjust it a bit, take another picture, etc.  When you were done, you’d stitch them together and export a movie.

We experimented with the concept and purchased kits to further our exploration.  It was good and it delivered on the promise of technology.  You couldn’t just sit down and just do something computery.  You had to have a story line, sketch out the actors, perhaps even plan for an audio to go with the movie, sculpt the characters, …  Then, it was to work.  And, work it was.  The kit contained sculpting tools, coloured plasticine, and other goodies including what we called googly eyes.  You know, those big white eyeballs with the black centres.  We had a whale of a time making our own movies and decided that we’d roll it out to the system.  So, we purchased one of the kits for every school and making movies became a regular activity at our CIESC meetings.  It was quickly adopted in some places in schools and they purchased additional kits.  But, the best part was when teachers and students looked around the classroom and found all kinds of other content for their stories.  It was making at its best.

Movies could be shared easily in the saved format.  The class wiki or school website was the perfect place for this.

With the provincial licensing of software, there were wonderful applications licensed for us in all Ontario schools to support the cause.  I’m thinking Hyperstudio, Frames, Photoshop Elements, …

While the kit came with its own stage, students really enjoyed colouring and creating their own backgrounds.  It was a natural launchpad to working with green screens to create environments that were difficult to create manually with classroom tools.  Of course, green screening itself became popular – I remember my friend Nazreen bringing me up to the stage at an ECOO Conference as some sort of embarrassment/payback with Hall Davidson as keynote and I was to be transported somewhere.  Sadly, I still remember the blue and green chequered shirt I was wearing.  It was a teachable moment that every weather forecaster knows; don’t wear anything green when you’re doing green screen.

Green screening has made a comeback – it was a popular and fun event at last year’s BIT conference but, sadly, Clay Animation not so much.  Perhaps we’ve moved on; perhaps it just requires too much time/planning; perhaps it’s too messy; perhaps digital animation is easier to implement, maybe the only focus is only on being a good digital citizen?  Regardless, you don’t hear much talk about it any more.  I was at an event this past week and made some old connections and Clay Animation and other workshop topics were part of the conversation which brought all this back to mind.  So much fun and so many great movies, Public Service Announcements, comedy sketches, etc. were created.  I wonder if anyone even uses the kits anymore.

It certainly wasn’t a quick and easy activity like some of the follow up lower hanging fruit activities.  But the learning was fantastic.  Perhaps with the current love affair with “making”, it will return?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

  • Do you do Clay Animation with your students?  Have you ever?
  • Are there more popular alternatives for movie making?
  • Do you see animation of any form having a place in your classroom, library, or maker space?

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 06/26/2016


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