Positively Tweeting


A while back, Visual.ly had an infographic generator that claimed to analyse your Twitter patterns.  The resulting image gave some facts and I could, of course, save it.  I did and it’s on my About Me page on this blog.

One of the things that it found, and I’m proud of was this.

It’s not necessarily for the offset geeky grin (although that’s kind of cool) but that I “tweet” more 😉 than (:.

That’s not by accident.  My foci and interests surround education/learning and technology.  If one looks, and wants to find both positive and negative perspectives, one certainly can.  In fact, reading and learning is best when you’re looking at both sides of an issue.  I find that incredibly healthy.

From my perspective, there are a couple of important things.

  • First, with both education and technology, finding negative things to say is a piece of cake.  Neither area is perfect and there’s so much room for improvement.  I think it’s testament to the professional that they look for these areas of improvement, identify them, and make positive suggestions for improvements;
  • Secondly, dissenting opinions can help shape your understanding and give insights that might not be found otherwise.  For those who share these insights on a regular basis, I’m infinitely appreciative.

Discussions are so powerful when you identify both sides of an issue and discuss them civilly.

I did some mental math today during one of my dog walks and I think that I’m up to five now of individuals I do follow (and originally did with best intentions) who absolutely do nothing to help seek answers.  Message after message is constantly negative or demeaning, even spewing venom, with not even a crack open and available for discussion.  It comes to the point where the content is either immediately disregarded by me or an affirmation that I’m thinking 180 degrees in the other direction.  Heaven help you if you make even the slightest error in your facts.

Fortunately, there are a great deal more people who are experimenting, trying, refining, and searching for solutions.  Positive support and ideas encourage their work; curating their content and the best of the best pushes the cause forward.  Now, I’m not advocating for the proverbial echo chamber.  There’s danger in that as well.  However, you can disagree without being disagreeable.

The sad thing is that, by their nature, you can’t engage in a conversation with this type.  They might well have some great ideas but I’m not interested at all if there’s nothing positive coming back.  This is one of the cases where we need to heed the advice that we give our students – think before you post!

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OTR Links 03/31/2013


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

Highlight Your Reading


Recently, I read an article that listed 4 Tools to Simplify the Blogging Process.  Yeah, I know, they don’t come much simpler than me.

As I read the article, I thought – OK, I’m doing this. Feedly, One Tab, Evernote and then a new one – CruxLight.  Never heard of it.  I took a quick read of the descriptor.  I’m very interested.  It reads the webpage on your screen and summarizes the main points.

I’m really interested.  This was a skill that was taught throughout school in English and French classes.  Of course, on paper, you would use a highlighter.  That made reviewing for tests and examinations possible.

I’ve got to check out this Chrome Extension.  Off to the Google Chrome store I go.

A quick download later and I’m ready to go.

I decide that the first thing I’ll do is check my instance of Hootsuite.  I’m not sure that I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting this!

The page you are trying to view is loosely connected. Try summarizing wikipedia articles, news articles, etc.

Although, when you think about it, it makes sense.  A typical Hootsuite screen is really a collection of usually non-related topics.  I figured that I’d try a different page – I tried one of my blog post pages and was immediately impressed.  It seemed to be able to instantly understand when I was making a point and when I was providing background information.  The points were highlighted so that I could focus just on them.

Here is my post about Symbaloo after the CruxLight treatment.

Symbalo

A click again and I’m into a layout with only the most important parts visible from the post and on the right side, CruxLight pulls out what it was determined to be the Focus of the page.

And, the second layout.

Symbaloo2

It’s an interesting extension.  Over the time that I’ve had it, I just leave it running and let it highlight what it thinks is important.  I’ll be honest; I don’t trust it 100% yet and I do skim through the non-highlighted material just to see what I’m missing.  To date, it really does seem to do a good job.  I wonder if I’ll ever fully trust it.

In an English class, I could see this being a very interesting tool to be use when you’re teaching how to read articles online.  It does ignore advertising and seems to do a pretty nice job of pulling the important points from an article.  I’d be very interested in any language teachers’ thoughts on its use.  For me, I’ve added it to my version of Chrome and am enjoying it.

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OTR Links 03/30/2013


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Good Friday, everyone.  Here’s some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers this past week.

Our Schoolyard in February
I’ve mentioned this before but I really like this kindergarten project that Angie Harrison has on the go.  What do you see out your classroom window?  Recently, Angie as people to talk about their schoolyard this spring.

I smiled and thought of one thing – mud.  I had visions of muddy schoolyards, blacktop recesses, and boots caked in mud in the hallways of schools everywhere.

But, upon further inspection, this really is a magical time for young students.  Where else can you see this in the morning?

and this in the afternoon?


I would encourage all classes to get involved with project – it’s got it all – photography, storytelling, sharing…


This is the Way We Start Each Day (&#3: A Surprising “Assessment Tool”)
Keeping with her Twitter handle @FlyontheCWall shares some of the ways that her Grade 5 class gets started.

There’s some great ideas and links to resources in the post.  It sounds like an amazing way to start the day on a high note.

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Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on this classroom wall?


How Can An Airplane Fly?
I’ve always been curious about that myself!  

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Jocelyn Schmidt made that a challenge to her kindergarten class and recorded some of the answers that she received and shared it in this post.  It’s some great reading.  It’s great to read and visualize the young minds at work.

I’d never cut it with this crew.  My two answers would be “Magic” or “I dunno”.


Flip This:  Film Yourself Teaching to Deconstruct Your Instruction

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Actually, Royan, I have.  

I’m a big fan of reflection on one’s profession.  My interest started as a new teacher.  I had no idea whether I was effective or not.  In fact, I probably was more on the not side.  When you’re coasting from one day to the next and working an additional 4-6 hours in the evening just preparing for tomorrow, it’s really difficult to determine whether or not you’re improving.  My first principal was great about this – there were two of us hired that first year – me, a computer science teacher and Lise who was a French teacher.  He did the mandatory administrative observation stuff but encouraged us to sit in on each other’s classes and talk afterwards.  It was a little unnerving at first – me a computer nerd and she a French instructor but we quickly realized that the content didn’t matter.  It was how we functioned.

Later on, I took a course on peer coaching and another consultant and I would observe each other facilitating professional development sessions.  We were brutal to each other and our superintendent seemed to delight in our discussions but would always use us as examples when he was talking about growth.  We weren’t real fans of being exhibit A and B but we went with the flow.  I think it turned us to becoming better at our craft and we remain lifelong friends to this day.

When he left for another job, I was by myself and I did turn to the camera.  The technical merit of the filming wasn’t the greatest – audio is always a challenge but the resulting tape makes for some good (and even funny) looks at yourself.  In my case, it was the mannerism of flailing my arms around like I was ready to take flight.  I think I cured myself of that through video!  Now, I used a Panasonic camera on a tripod…these days it’s so easy with your smartphone or even the camera on your laptop.  Your class doesn’t even need to know that you’re doing it.

To get back to Royan’s question, why aren’t you?  I would echo his thoughts.  It might be filming and self-analysis or it might be a partnership with a peer.  Either way, it’s always good to get feedback as you ply your craft.


What Worked? What Didn’t? Where I’ll Go From Here!
One of the compelling reasons to read and follow Aviva Dunsiger’s blog is to just get a sense and an appreciation for how she just tries stuff.  It’s not random stuff – it’s always with the best interest of her students each time she does.  

Recently, her students took the Hot Seat on the Hive to talk about some of their most recent book readings.  What a great concept!

Now, I’ve seen people take on adventures like this with little preparation of themselves and their students and have limited success.  It should come as no surprise.  What you get from a project is directly proportional to what you put into it.  

In this post, Aviva shares some of the graphic organizers that the students used to prepare for their event.  She didn’t allow them to fly blindly through the experience.  The organizers they created are embedded in the post.  You’ll see that they were really ready going in.  As the consumate professional, Aviva reflected on the experience with the goal of making it even better the next time.

Aviva


Please take some time to read and enjoy the posts above.  A great deal of time and effort when into the creation and feedback to them will certainly be appreciated.  Check out the entire collection of Ontario Edublogs here.  If you’re an Ontario blogger and not on the list, complete the form and you will be!

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OTR Links 03/29/2013


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

Symbaloo – Before and After


It was just a week ago that I blogged about Symbaloo and webmixes.  I have Symbaloo set as the start page for my computers.  I have tried a number of like utilities in the past and, with the retirement of iGoogle, have found it indispensible as a portal to the places that I want to go.  I absolutely think it’s the best place for me to start.

As I opened my computer this morning to wake it from sleep, I checked my email to read that there was an opportunity to take a preview look at what Symbaloo is going to look like when we all get migrated to the new interface in April.  How could I not take the opportunity.

As I said yes, a new tab opened with a dialogue to let me choose the new interface.  Yes, I said.

At that moment, I had a very unique opportunity.  Since the new layout opened a new tab, I actually had both the old layout and the new layout sitting there in front of me in adjacent tabs.  Does that scream “blog post”?  I just had to take a couple of screen shots and away I go.

Here’s my original Symbaloo layout.  It’s still as good looking and as functional as ever.

Right next door, I have the new layout.  There are a slew of new icons that I’ll probably get around to exploring at some time but my first blush had me looking at the functionality.  There were no immediate changes available in the preferences but the screen presentation was noticeably different.

On the left side, a pull down menu gives access to my webmixes.  I have a modest collection because previously the only way to get to one was to scroll through the names at the top of the screen.  Here heading directly to a webmix looks like it’s going to be very quick.  I can see myself starting to add webmixes and maybe even curate a few more of my own.

Speaking of webmixes, check out the ways that you may now edit a webmix.

Searching for new material is going to be easier now.  You now have more control over just what it is that you’re searching for.  This is going to be nice.

I’m really liking the new presentation.  I think it’s a nice step forward for the product.  However, there’s this nagging feeling after reading the announce and seeing point number five.

5. Symbaloo secrets
There’s more… Did you already discovered something new?

That’s a challenge for a guy like me.  Got to continue to dig.

At this point in time, the iPad version of Symbaloo has not been updated.  However, the web version looks very nice and hopefully there’s an upgrade for mobile shortly.  For educators, this is such a valuable tool to make sure that students all launch and end up in the right place.

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