Common Voice – A Request from Lisa Noble

I got this request from Lisa Noble…

Well, of course, I had to check it out.

Not only is it a “lot of fun” as Lisa notes, it addresses a big bug-a-boo of mine.  There has to be a much more sophisticated and reliable approach to voice recognition.  You should hear me sometimes screaming at the voice recognition unit in my car as I try to get it to do things.

On the other hand, my Moto 360 watch and my Samsung phone don’t seem to have a problem.

So, in this project, you can help validate submissions and contribute your own voice.

Listening to the submissions and checking them off was actually a great deal of fun.  I thought here was a nice selection of various accents.

When you create your own, you’re asked to self-identify a number of things.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 at 17.33.59

The project is focused on English and you get to select your accent.

I have to smile.  Recently, I caught up with a number of friends from various locations world-wide at the CSTA Conference.  I think of listening to friends in discussions from New Hampshire, Arkansas, Iowa, and Ohio.  To my ear, they all have a different type of accent.  I wonder how they can be clumped together as “United States English”.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 at 17.38.09

I then turned to myself.  I don’t have an accent!  Or, at least I don’t think I do.  But, I supposed I’d qualify as “Canadian English”, whatever that ultimately means!  I do know that I have a very nasal voice.

So, I’ll contribute a couple of sentences.  If it makes my future voice recognition things work better, I’m all for it.

Project Common Voice can be accessed here.

Thanks for the lead, Lisa.  Hopefully, others can find a moment or two to chip in.

OTR Links 07/22/2017

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to my weekly wander around the blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  As always, there’s some terrific reading.  For those of you who expected also to hear the Wednesday show on VoiceED Canada, Stephen is currently off the grid.  We’ll return when he gets back on the grid in August.

A Mathematics Blueprint: Designing a Comprehensive Mathematics Program

Rochelle Tkach offers a nice post that nicely summarizes so many things about the curriculum designing process.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 at 11.54.57.png

She ties it so well to Mathematics but certainly the principles apply in all areas.

Do we need to learn how to play?

There’s a great deal to think about in this post from Aviva Dunsiger.  She reflects on the experience of people leaving her workshop that was first a post of hers that I talked about last week.

I Packed. I Came. I Shared. And Now I’m Left Wondering.

Both generated some nice discussions.

The big message in all of this is about participants indicating that they were through by leaving a session.  I think that we need to respect people’s choices and decisions, even though they may not follow our expectations as to how things should end up.

I have to give Aviva credit for taking her thoughts online; it could have all kinds of different responses from people.

Even more important, in addition to her thoughts, there are a large collection of responses varying with all kinds of messages and support.  These thoughts are truly gold and should help Aviva and others design the very best professional experiences.

Map Out Your Online Course

Continuing on the theme of planning and learning, I offer this post from Tracy Sherriff.

Her context is about an online course …

So where do you start? Well, I always tell my clients to start with creating a mind map. A mind map is really just a visual brain dump of all the things that you could teach about. You can create your mind map on paper or use the digital tool of your choice. Use colour and imagery to enhance your map. It’s actually quite fun!

… and that’s certainly her intent and it makes reading the post worthwhile.

But, what if you opened the door to other things?

Wouldn’t the same principles apply to designing professional learning experiences?

Differentiated Instruction: comparing 2 subjects

There’s differentiation, and then there’s differentiation.  Are they different?

You may not have thought of it in those terms but Mark Chubb has and does in this post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to meet the various needs of students in our classrooms lately. If we think about it, we are REALLY good at differentiated instruction in subjects like writing, yet, we struggle to do differentiated instruction well in subjects like math. Why is this???

The rest of the post will hopefully have you thinking differently about differentiation.  Does one size truly fit all disciplines?

This is a very interesting post and there’s even more rich content in the replies.

Good Leaders Read…A Lot

Perhaps this is the litmus test to apply to those who would be leaders in your life and especially for yourself …

Sue Dunlop asserts that

Great leaders also always seek to improve. They want to learn and to get better. They’re never satisfied with good enough. Reading is part of that continuous improvement. How else can you explore new ideas and create new schema?

Here’s an idea.

For the first staff meeting at the end of August/first of September, instead of going around the room asking “How did you spend your summer holidays?” you ask the question “What did you read over the summer?”.

Don’t let your principal off the hook either.

What Does an Innovating Leader Look Like?

OK, so we’ve established that leaders read.

I challenged Paul McGuire to expand on his thoughts about leadership in education.  And, he delivers in this post.

His perspective is as principal and one of his suggestions surrounds professional learning.

Teachers should be in control of their own learning, just as students need to be in control. Educators need to know that their voice matters and that the running of the school is a collective endeavour.

We’re all familiar with the Annual Learning Plan and hopefully, it’s not become a piece of lip service.  Does the ALP allow for the type of growth that Paul describes?

It’s not an easy scenario to manage.  On the one hand, you have to respect the wishes for teachers and their personal learning.  On the other hand, you have the directives from the Board Office and the Ministry of Education.

How, indeed, does the Innovating Leader make it?

I’m going to continue to challenge Paul on this and have plans to write about my own thoughts.  I think that this is a discussion that can only improve things among leaders.

Nudging the OneNote Staff Notebook Permissions

Long time Evernote user here.  But, I’m giving OneNote another chance this summer.  For me to learn how a new program works, I have to use it exclusively for as many tasks as possible and sometimes struggle when I hit a bump in the road.  In addition, I try to read as much about it as possible.

Part of my morning reads include having a section on Flipboard devoted to OneNote and another very important part of my learning is reading Cal Armstrong’s blog when he shares his tips and trick about the software.

I see so many who use OneNote at such a cursory level.  That would include me, I guess.

In this post, Cal takes us on a tutorial with Staff OneNotes and sharing workspaces.

The post is a good tutorial for how to set this up.  If your school uses OneNote, you might want to take Cal’s post to heart and give it a shot.  If it makes everyone more productive, winners all around!

Please take the time to click through and read all of these posts in their entirety.  There’s great learning to be had.

Did you start or restart a blog this summer?  Please add it to the Livebinder of Ontario Edublogs.

OTR Links 07/21/2017

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

When you’re determined …

I thought that yesterday’s post about the YouTube video preview was kind of neat.  I even demonstrated it with this screen video capture.


Now, as Paul Harvey would have noted – there’s more to this than you would think.

I mean, how hard could it be?  That was my thought as I started to write the post.  Actually, quite a bit later, I had a solution.  But, it wasn’t easy with the computer that I was using.

I had booted my computer into Windows 10 to do something else when I thought that I would write the blog post.  It should be easy; it’s just text and I throw in a screen capture.


I seldom do new things on Windows 10, opting instead for working in Linux Mint on this computer.  But, I was in Windows, so why not?

Writing the post was easy.  Now for the screen capture.  At present, the feature only works with Opera and Chrome.  I loaded Opera and did the mouse over and it worked fine.  Now to capture the video.

I was stumped.  I don’t typically use Windows for something like that.  But, for a quick capture, Jing is my go to application on the Macintosh.  It does capture a part of the screen and there is a video capture element but I’ll be honest; I hadn’t used it in a long time.  So, I was off to download the Windows version, installed it, and then did the process of animation and capturing it.  When I went to save the result, there was only one file format for it.  .swf

Sigh.  Well, I could always beg forgiveness.  As I tried to upload it, WordPress indicated that it didn’t like this file format.  That’s probably a good thing, for a number of reasons.  It’s actually too bad since the file size was pretty small.  I had to find something different.

I popped up the Application Menu and started to look for something that looked like it would do the trick.  Nothing I had installed set off any bells until I got to the Xs.  There’s the XBox application.  I remember reading somewhere that this application could do screen capture.  That makes sense for gamers who want to do their thing.  I found the article; did a quick enough read to get a lead on how to do it.  Off I went, the animation in the browser looked good but when I asked Xbox to do the screen capture, it complained about the video driver on the computer.  It was a fair enough complaint; this is an older machine.


What to do?  What to do?

Then, I remembered that I had installed the Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Video Recorder extension in the Chrome browser.  Down went Opera; up went Chrome.  Maybe this will do the trick.  I’d never used it to capture video before.

I went through the process again and it worked perfectly.  I had myself a .mp4 file that did what I needed.

Back I go to WordPress and try to upload the file.  Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow for uploading .mp4 files in the free version.  Rats.  When I look at the size of the file, I could see why.  Even though it was a small video clip, it still was a fair sized file.

Maybe I could just ask you, the reader, to try the experiment for yourself.

Nah, that’s the coward’s way out.

There has to be a better way.  Maybe .mp4 isn’t the best solution after all.  Really, I just needed to show the video from 10 000 m.  It’s the description that is the most important part.

How about .gif format?  I wonder if I still had that .gif maker on this computer.  But, before poking around and looking for it, I remembered my old web friend, Zamzar.  Its claim to fame is to convert one file format to another and, sure enough, there was a .mp4 to .gif option.  I just had to wait a bit for an email link to grab the resulting file.

That’s OK; I had other things to do.  Within seconds though, I had the notification that the file was ready.  So soon?  I downloaded it and it worked beautifully.  WordPress liked it; it was small; and it did the job I needed.

And, as Paul Harvey would have said, now you know “the rest of the story“.


OTR Links 07/20/2017

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

A quick preview

Who doesn’t like a good YouTube video?

Who hasn’t wasted all kinds of time watching a video that isn’t what you expected.  If you’re like me, you’re a sucker for a good bit of click bait.

Video previews coming to desktop

Now, there’s a little preview that will give you a sense of what the content of that video might be – provided you’re using the Opera or Chrome browser.

It’s simple.  Just hover your mouse over the thumbnail of a YouTube video and wait for a second.  You’ll soon be treated to a 3-5 second preview of the video.

So, to test it out, I headed to YouTube and the content from the excellent MrsALoveMath channel.  I found a video that looked good “Equation of a Line Given Two Points”.

I placed my cursor over the desired video and voila!


Trust me; fire up Opera or Chrome, find a video you want, place your cursor over it, and see what happens.

You’ll be making quicker decisions about what to watch.




OTR Links 07/19/2017

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

The case for your own computer

You know that someone’s having a bad computer day when you see them rubbing their trackpad in desperation.

That was the case for me for one of the sessions that I proctored at the CSTA Conference.  To her defense, this presenter did ask me if she could connect her computer to the data projector over the lunch hour to make sure that it worked.  That’s the way that I handle things myself; I hate scrambling at the last minute and so, of course, I said to go for it.

Maybe it was premonition but I felt myself drawn to the room earlier than I normally would and that’s where I found her rubbing that trackpad.


“Yes, the computer won’t display on the data projector.”

I looked and, yes, everything was connected.  The computer was an ancient computer running Windows 10 so it was really slow to respond.  I thought that it might be even older than my clunker.

As if anticipating my next question, she said “No, it’s not my computer.   It’s the university’s and the presentation is on here, given to me.  I’m much more at home with my own computer running Linux.  Can you help?”

So, I went into the controls and made sure that the computer thought it was duplicating itself.   It thought it was, only, it wasn’t.

No problem, I thought.  I’ll just put the presentation on my computer and let her use it.  I pulled out a memory key and she said “I don’t think that will work”.  True to her word, it didn’t.  Mounting external devices had been disabled by the university IT Department.  OK, on to Plan B.  I’ll just get her to email it to me.  “I can’t do that.  The machine is limited to connecting only to the university wireless”.

I had this urge to start rubbing the trackpad.

People were now starting to come in for the presentation.  One in the audience came up and let us know that he had been in a previous presentation and the SVGA video in wasn’t working on the data projector.

Rats.  (or some such similar words)

I noticed that the data projector also had a connector for HDMI and a cable attached.

Mr. Helpful from the audience spoke up again.  “The last presenter had to use that.”

So, I grabbed the cable and headed for the HDMI port.  It didn’t fit.  The computer had a mini-HDMI port.

But, we were getting warm.

I made a connection with the AV supplier and he did have a mini-HDMI to HDMI converter.  A second later and we were good to go.

The presentation went well and, as we were packing her things, I asked why she didn’t use her own computer.  It was her partner’s computer and, rather than moving the presentation over, it seemed easier at the time to go this route.

“I’ll never make this mistake again.”


OTR Links 07/18/2017

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