This Week in Ontario Edublogs

There were huge events happening in Ontario Education this past week and there’s more to come.  Those who would be naysayers would be well advised to get both sides of the picture before making decisions.  Blogging and sharing leadership thoughts and ideas are a standard with Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I read this past week.

Learning Perspective at Soccer

Kristi Keery Bishop writes a wonderful post that should make you stop, look around, and realize that things could certainly be different if you’re walking in someone else’s shoes.

It’s an important message to remember the next time you feel the need to complain about anything.

Three Easy Tips for Teachers on Twitter

It’s hard to believe in 2015 that there are teachers who still do not use Twitter or they do have a Twitter account and do not use it or they do have a Twitter account and use it so superficially that they might as well not have it. Rusul Alrubail shares a delightful post on Medium highlight three ways to not use Twitter in just a passive mode but to dive right in and take control of things that affect your professional life.

Messages like this should be shared and reinforced.  Collaboration and continuous professional growth and reflection can only improve the profession.

How To Become An EdTech Leader

Then, when you’re ready to take it to the next step, send them over to Brandon Grasley’s blog.

This post deals with his presentation at the On the Rise conference.  When you’re connected and learning, it really does become addictive.  The content here will help when the inevitable questions “What more can I do?” or “What else is there?” arises.

It’s a good, well argued thesis for what Brandon thinks a leader should be.

The only thing that I would add is “Don’t stop”. How many times do you see dormant blogs and social media accounts?

I think that the best of the leadership community could learn so much from leaders like Brandon.  As they say, keep on keeping on.

PB and J

No, this is not a luddite confessional.  Eva Thompson uses the PB and J metaphor in a nice way.  I can see her point; there are so many messages about being progressive and cutting edge with the use of technology that they could be interpreted as public shaming for those who might not be using them on a particular day.

Instead, Eva says, you need to have a balanced approach and use the proper tool at the appropriate time.

I totally get her message.  In my computer science classroom, I always kept a wide selection of magazines, games and other non-computer activities to bring out at the appropriate time.

There’s no need to feel the shame; I think gold badges should be awarded for mixing things up when it’s appropriate.

Great reality check post, Eva.

Walk the Walk

All of the posts featured this week seem to have a nice theme of reflection on the practice.  Colleen Rose’s post continues that them (and also includes some of her personal artwork.)

Thanks, @ColleenKR, Northern Art Teacher Blog

The whole post is focused on her thoughts around one guiding question “When I began teaching, did I stop learning?”

She tells a story of amplifying her own students’ voice and somehow her Director of Education got involved.

I hope that there’s more coming; she seems to be really encourage a mindset of growth and inquiry both personally and with her students.

Cancellation of 2015 EQAO tests

On the People for Education blog, Jacqui Strachan asks the question:

The Education Quality and Accountability Office has announced that this year’s EQAO tests will be cancelled in school boards affected by the teachers’ work-to-rule campaign and strikes. I’d like to hear what people think the impact will be. Will it affect classroom teaching and learning? What will happen to the reliability of the data collected this year? Is it a concern that some students will be writing the tests, while others will not be participating? Please share your thoughts.

There are some initial reactions to this.  Got a moment?  Add yours.

Thanks, everyone, for continuing to model the professionalism that is the teaching profession.  Great articles here, please click through and read them in their entirety.  You can read the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.  If you’re blogging and not on it, complete the form and you will be.

OTR Links 05/29/2015

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

CSTA 2015 Conference Announcement – UT Dallas Outing

Calling all 2015 conference attendees!

As we are nearing the final weeks until CSTA 2015, we’d like to highlight an added bonus to our attendees. All conference attendees are invited to join us on Monday, July 13, 2015, for an evening gathering at the University of Texas, Dallas from 5-8:00 pm. After Monday’s workshops conclude, be prepared to relax and mingle. Transportation will be included to and from the conference, as we enjoy the hosted reception, dinner buffet and tour.

With more than 1,300 bachelor’s-degree students, 1,100 master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 75 faculty members, UT Dallas computer science department is one of the largest CS departments in the US, offering a broad range of courses in almost every area of computer science and software engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Come and learn about our exciting research on cyber security, intelligent systems, data sciences, computer algorithms, computer networks and more. Learn about the largest University-based K-12 computer science outreach effort in the country, and our unique mentoring model that ensures that students actually learn.

Please join the UT Dallas Department of Computer Science faculty and students for an enlightening evening of conversation and computing project demos.

You must pre-register for this event, which you may do while you’re registering for the conference at:

A New Blog Editor

I’ve said for a long time now that the best blog editor on the market, bar none, is Microsoft’s Live Writer.

LiveWriter Home Menu


LiveWriter Insert Menu

It’s a real joy to create blog posts there but it’s got problems for my personal workflow.  It requires you to be running Windows.  I spend more time in Ubuntu or Mac OS so I’d have to specifically boot into Windows 7 to use it.  For me, it’s important to be able to write a post no matter what computer I’m using.  To that end, I either create the post in the WordPress editor itself or more likely, using the ScribeFire extension in a browser.  It’s there when I need it.

WordPress Editor

ScribeFire Editor

Both are great ways to compose, edit, and post blog entries.  The ability to save Drafts mean that I don’t have to create a post in a single sitting.  My proofreading team (hi Lisa and Sheila) would undoubtedly ask that I spend more time on that task but it is what it is.  At least I know that two people read my posts for content and meaning.

This morning, the field gets bigger.  I read this story.

Microsoft Announces New OneNote Partnership with WordPress

Right off the bat, I had to tip my hat to the commenters to the post.  You did make me smile.  But the ramifications of this are interesting.

OneNote already has a comprehensive set of composing and editing features.

OneNote Home Menu

OneNote Insert Menu

A great deal of energy has been spent convincing people to use OneNote instead of Evernote or Google Keep as your on-the-fly note taker.  Now, a plugin to WordPress ups the ante nicely.  Imagine using the same tool that you would use for notetaking anyway as a blogging editor.  Since Microsoft doesn’t have a public blogging tool that I’m aware of, the partnership with a biggy in the market seemed natural.  I’m assuming Blogger didn’t return their call?

Many school districts have adopted Office 365 as their productivity platform but have lamented the lack of a blogging tool which is so powerful in education.

Could this be their answer?

OTR Links 05/28/2015

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

On Pushback

I remember taking a course in university.  It was called the “History of Education” or something like that.  I also remember the textbook that we had to buy.  It was a very thin paperback with chapters devoted to educational researchers – Thorndike, Piaget, Montessori, Bruner, Skinner, …  If I recall correctly, there were thirteen of these education thinkers and we studied the works of each one, every week.  I like to think I’ve been most influenced by Montessori but I can see elements of the others.

I also remember the professor on the first night and his statement “We’ve been trying to understand how education and learning works for years and we’re going to study all of these but none have got it completely right”.  I remember my classmate turning to me and saying “Why didn’t he get us to buy the book with the person who did get it right?”  Yeah, we were way too young.

Even in my short period of time in education, I’ve seen various theorists come and go and we’re still in search of the magic bullet.  Fortunately, as a system, we definitely are getting much better at understanding how learning happens.

Aside from learning in general, there’s another system under research and that’s the use of educational technology.  If you’re a blog reader, you’ll have read about the magic bullets touted for educational technology, the latest being the SAMR model.

Miguel Guhlin caught my eye with his post yesterday “Tearing Down False gods: SAMR Pushback Begins (Updated)” and this morning Mark Anderson with “SAMR is not a ladder, a word of warning“.  Both are terrific posts and well worth your time to click through and read.  Both posts make reference to a couple of others “Why I’m Done with SAMR” by Mark Samberg and “What’s Wrong with SAMR in Education” by LeiLani Cauthen.  Read both these as well and then reflect back on your own thoughts on the topic.

There have been a lot of inane things that you see by those who have taken this model as an absolute.  “We got rid of SMARTBoards because of SAMR” and “I teach above the line” and “##### ####### has created an infographic of every educational app in the App Store and rated them according to SAMR”.  How can someone not in my district, my school, my classroom makes these decisions?  We’ve all read and seen the somewhat sarcastic, somewhat truthful posts about the need to study pencils in education with as much energy as we do other technologies.

I find comments like this and the way that people are using these things as just sad and, quite frankly, a discredit to the profession.  After all, do an internet search for “It’s not about the technology” and see what falls out.  More importantly, take a look at the focus.  It’s all about the teaching when the real focus should be on the learning.  When focused solely on the teaching, technology use becomes absolutes.  When focused on learning, it enables differentiation opportunities and, most importantly, increased the chance that students take charge of their own learning.

I’ve always chosen a simpler route.  As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways that you can use technology:

  • to do things differently;
  • to do different things.

all within the context of the subject matter being learned.

Of course, this is not the only “technology model”.  Miguel has a nice collection on his wiki.

Even this presentation takes me back to that university course.  There isn’t just one listed.  All of the researchers that we studied opened the door to our understanding of student learning.  None of them stand on their own.  Our understanding is growing and evolving.  So, it’s good to see pushback to those who would label this as the defining standard by which all should be evaluated.

OTR Links 05/27/2015

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