In one spot

How vested in social media is your school?

Do you have a Twitter account?  Many Twitter accounts?  Are teachers blogging?  How frequently?  Sharing activity picture via a picture sharing service?

Chances are, you’re doing it at varying levels.  Some contributors are more active than others.

How does the world or, at least the parents and students, know where to find the latest?  

No doubt, the class blog or other social media link was sent home in a September newsletter.  By continuous monitoring, anyone can get a picture at any point in time of what’s happening.  Digging backwards does take a little bit of effort.  And, you certainly don’t want to miss anyway.

Is there a better way to make sure that nothing goes amiss?  Is there a way to look at the “big picture”, i.e. everything that’s happening in the class or at the school?


Consider creating a Flipboard to capture all this (and maybe even more).

The net result is that, out of the great storm of information that goes flying by, you can curate what’s important to your class or, thinking bigger, your school.

A good question would be – isn’t that a lot of work?  Short answer – no.  If you’re reading it, it’s already on your screen.  Into your browser, add the Flipboard extension and you can tuck it away in a couple of clicks and it’s instantly posted.

Here’s what I see for my account – you’ll note that I have three pages of Flipboard collections.  (Including at least one that you see here that’s private)

Now, all that you need to share is the link to your class or school’s Flipboard.  Articles that are flipped there appear in reverse chronological order so it’s just a matter of flipping through to get caught up.  

Flipboard is available through the web or there’s an app for virtually every available platform.  Imagine how easy it is for student, parents, staff, administrators, the world to see what’s happening.  And, the articles are there permanently unless you elect to delete them.  Have you flipped a particularly good article that you’d like to individually share?  Social sharing buttons are available for every article.

The promise of social media is connectedness and the immediate sharing of information.  In today’s busy world, the easier it is to achieve these goals, the more effective you’ll be.  Flipboard may well be the perfect answer for you.

OTR Links 10/25/2016

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

The Collatz conjecture

One of the recent reads took me down the mathematics path.  This is always a bit of fun.  The story was:

6 deceptively simple maths problems that no one can solve

I remember the Collatz conjecture from years ago.

Basically, it says to take any number.  If the number is even, divide it by two and continue with the result.  If the number is odd, then triple it, add one, and continue with the result.  The conjecture says that, if you repeat it enough times, you’ll eventually get the number 1.

During dog walks yesterday, I found myself mentally doing the problem.  When I didn’t lose track, the sequence of numbers always did end up at 1.

When I got home, I thought; this is silly to do all this mental math.  I should write a program.

Here it is in Small Basic.  I’ve tried to make it readable and over-commented to explain the steps.  I think it should be readable enough.


And, of course, I ran it to make sure that it worked.  I played a lot of “kitten on the keyboard” to test it out and sure enough, the answer is always eventually 1.

For simplicity, here are 6 and 7.



Another observation include that, in addition to the answer being 1, any number I tried over 6 ended in the sequence 10 5 16 8 4 2 1.  Of course, I didn’t try every number.  However, I did modify the original program to loop the original number tested instead of just working with a single input.

After writing the program, I like the programming concepts that it includes.

  • Asking the user for input
  • Looping until an exit condition is met
  • A little mathematics
  • A little branching
  • Displaying the answer
  • Enhancing the original by providing another form of input
  • A program doesn’t have to be huge and time consuming to have a lot of concepts
  • It’s actually a bit of fun trying to understand the mathematics while doing the coding

There will be a place for something like this in one of your courses or clubs.  The puzzle is intriguing because you can run it on a calculator or do it in your mind, in addition to writing a program.  It’s nothing so obscure that you can’t get your head around it.

A hugely mathematical explanation of the conjecture can be found here.  It doesn’t necessarily make it tougher to understand but it’s a nice confirmation that we don’t have the answers to everything.

OTR Links 10/24/2016

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

Whatever happened to …

… that nice, new, clean, keyboard?

There’s always something glorious about unpacking a new computer although it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance around here.  There’s that wonderful smell of new plastic!  Then, over time, reality clicks in.  The smell goes away.  The keytops get shiny from repeated use.  Especially if you learned and practiced keyboarding properly, there’s that thumb print worn into the space bar.

And maybe a bit of a piece of toast that you had for breakfast sitting on the shift key.  If it’s your keyboard, it gets broken in and begins to take on your keyboarding personality.  I read once that you might even be able to guess a person’s password from the wear and tear on the keys.  In the above, you can clearly see mine which is ASTCN. 

I clearly need to work more Qs and Zs into my typing

But above and beyond that, there may be some germs that are lurking there.

In my classroom, I was always a bit concerned about that.  There, computers don’t belong to the current person typing.  It’s passed through many hands (fingers) during the course of the day.  There was a time before BYOD where, as a teacher, even you would contribute to the wear and the germs on a keyboard.  In addition to dropping your own, you may be picking up those of whoever used it before you.  Just don’t tell me that your students have never sneezed while typing.

Schools are a nice community of germs.  It never seemed to bother those buying or installing the computers or the administration of the school, for that matter.  I guess it was just seen as the cost of doing business.  I tried to promote safe computing and would buy my own disinfecting wipes and leave them in the computer room for myself and any student who was concerned.  After all, if it was good enough for hospitals, it was good enough for my class. 

I don’t know if it did a perfect job; I seemed to still get my own fair share of colds.  But at least it made me feel a bit better.  When I had a couple of labs for professional learning spaces for educators, I would repeat the process there before any workshop started.  It only took about five minutes to go around the room and wipe down the keyboards and mouses.  If I got there even earlier, I would wipe the screens as well.  In addition to the germs, it also made them a bit cleaner.  I remember a teacher telling me once that she monitored student respect for technology with clean computers versus the alternative.  She felt that the students treated the clean ones better.

Now, I don’t want to go all Mandel on you here but it was just a thing I did and always wondered about.  Cleaning and disinfecting keyboards is never on anyone’s job description.

Over to you on this Sunday…

Look down.

  • Do you have a nicely broken in space bar?
  • Do you have a concern about spreading germs via keyboard?  Do you have an approach?  Hoping to hear from teachers of primary students too….
  • How about your tablet or phone?  Can you use it as a mirror or does it track every swipe or tap you make

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

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

OTR Links 10/23/2016

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

Going beyond

This was to be a two part set of blog posts but This Week in Ontario Edublogs got into the middle of things.

If you think back a couple of days ago, I wrote a post titled “Why wouldn’t you use the tools you can?” where I discussed how I had encountered a problem upgrading my instance of Ubuntu.  I had this obscure looking error message

“Can not run the upgrade. This usually is caused by a system where /tmp is mounted noexec. Please remount without noexec and run the upgrade again.“

and basically had to solve it before I could go any further.

Rather than tinkering around, I copied the message exactly as it was displayed and pasted it into a search engine.  I got lots of hits for answers, found the one that made the most sense

sudo mount -o remount,exec /tmp

opened a terminal and ran it.  Problem solved.

As I continued to think about this, I realized that, while I had solved my problem, I hadn’t learned very much.  I had done what we tell students not to do.  How many times do we hear “Just Google it”.  Heck, it was even advice given in the latest presidential debate.

So to complete the learning process, I needed to dig a bit deeper.  

I could make some pretty good guesses about what happened.

SUDO – This is required knowledge when working on a Linux machine.  By default, many of the commands that could destroy your system are not available to the regular user.  Imagine a school computer with no restraints.  There does come a time when you need to do some major surgery and so you elevate the process with this – “SuperUser do”.  My time managing a QNX system paid off.  A complete discussion is available here.  ROOTSUDO

MOUNT – I knew what was happening here too.  Basically, in order to read and/or write to a drive or device, it needs to be mounted.  The key though, and why it applied here, is that you have to have the proper permissions.  In this case, I needed to make the /tmp folder executable.  The mount command includes the ability to add options (-o) to it.  That completed the puzzle.  A complete discussion is available here.  mount – Unix, Linux Command

Therein is my learning for this event.

If it happens again, I’d probably search and copy/paste like I did this time but my background knowledge means that I’ll be a little more confident doing so.  

It was a good time and thing to learn.  Without the actual need to solve a problem though, if I was in a class, I think I would be justified to be taking notes and asking “When will I ever need this?”