This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to Friday, friends, and to a quick summary of some of the things happening this week from Ontario Educators.

Revisiting a Philosophy of Education

Not many people speak publically of their philosophy of education.  At times, it may run counter to the stated direction of their employer or the latest government initiative.  Brenda Sherry takes the time to go totally public with her thoughts.  It’s a good read about her thoughts of schools, classrooms, teaching, and students.  The benefit of doing this is to make sure that everything that you do is true to your ideals.  I had a superintendent once who encouraged us to write our philosophy and to carry it everywhere we went.  In my case, it was folded into the front cover of my Franklin Binder.  His advice, and it’s still good to this day, is that when you reach a point where you need to make a decision, re-read your philosophy and see if it fits.  The logic served me well in a number of instances.

Learning Beyond Grades

I love this idea but just can’t imagine the logistics of doing this.  Tracy’s thought involved inviting parents into the classroom and throwing the whole nine yards of assessment at them.  “What if we took this grading backlash as an opportunity to invite and share with parents all the innovative and creative ways teachers are facilitating learning in the classroom? We could show parents what we mean by 21st century learning skills, show them inquiry based learning, anchor charts, outcome expectations, a level 4 rubric, collaborative and project based learning, demonstrate what creative/critical thinking and problem solving learning looks like, what self-reflection and evaluation looks like, tech savvy classrooms, the flipped classroom, classrooms that Skype with other students around the world, show them all the different formative and summative assessments used, whatever they may be.”

Would parents then want to be part of the conversation or would they run away from the classroom screaming?

Resources for Compass For Success Presentation

Mark Carbone shares his recent presentation given to the Compass for Success organization.  You miss some things not having Mark’s insights and comments as he goes along but the slides give the gist of his presentation.  He doesn’t give any indication as to how it was received.  Next time I’m with Mark, I hope that I remember to ask him!

Classroom Tadpoles Live Stream

Science comes alive in Kristen Wideen’s classroom.  The wonderment of life continues as students can check into their classroom while at home!  What a great opportunity!

Damned Statistics & Digital Meta-cognitive Opportunities

Tim King takes a look at Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (or at least the educational equivalent)

He does ask an important question.  Are we looking at all of the possible data?  If not, why not?

Please support these great bloggers by visiting their websites and viewing their entire posts (and video).  You can check out all of the great content produced by Ontario Edubloggers by visiting the LiveBinder here.  If you are an Ontario Educational Blogger and your blog isn’t there, please consider completing the form so that you can be added.

Thanks for visiting.  Have a terrific Friday and a great weekend.


OTR Links 05/31/2013

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

A Source for More Reading and Analysis

This morning, as I was waiting around, I got a notice that Alfred Thompson had written a blog post titled “You Never Know Who The Computer Science People Are“.  What a great title so I clicked through the read the post and it’s about Justine Bateman going to UCLA to study Computer Science.  I had to click through and read her new blog about her studies and some of the colourful language reminded me of my own studies in Computer Science.  Cool!

Back to Alfred’s post.  It was a shorty and I was still waiting and so scrolled down the page on my phone.  I actually paid attention to the content in his sidebar.  This isn’t something that I normally do.  One of the things that caught my eye was a badge from  Apparently, they have a listing of Teach 100 blogs.  I thought – poor Alfred, he’s number 163!

Well, you know what I had to do next!

I’m always in search of a good train wreck.  I wonder if I was on that list as well.  In fact, I was.  I was number 172.  Boy, I wish I was good like Alfred.  How’s that for a 100 list?!  I kind of got a kick of the number anyway – I had won a triactor using 1-7-2 once.

Still waiting, I took a look around to see the criteria for being on that list and how the ranking was done.  There are four elements to the score you get.

  • Social (40%) – Engagement as determined through its combined Facebook shares, Tweets and StumbleUpon visits to the blog and its most recent posts. Ranking weighs shares pointing back to the blogs 10 most recent posts as well as for its main domain.
  • Activity (20%) – The frequency of a blog’s updates. The more frequently a blog is updated, the higher its activity score
  • Authority (20%) – The overall authority and influence relative to the rest of the web as determined by the number of sites linking to the blog. This methodology is one of the foundations of the Google Search Algorithm and is a commonly used measure of a website’s authority.
  • Teach Score (20%) – This is the single subjective factor in the evaluation of the Teach100. The Teach Score considers how media is used throughout a blog, how topics in education are discussed, the timeliness of blog content, the capacity to inform, and the overall presentation of the blog.

The scoring algorithm claims to be dynamic and changes so maybe someday I’ll be 171.  The scores for this blog in the above four categories is:  10, 15, 8, 13.  So much for my dreams of becoming an authority.  You can even get your own badge for placement on your own blog if so desired.

So much for the kloutifying of blogs.

More importantly for me, is the actual collection of blogs.  As I was still waiting, I started poking around and looking at a bunch of blogs.  For me, that was the real goldmine.  I’ve got a whole new set of reading.  For that, I’m very happy.

If you’re an educational blogger, you know you want to visit and see how you’re ranked, right?  Go ahead.

OTR Links 05/30/2013

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

Successful Blogging

I read a great “help blog post” yesterday titled “10 Maxims of Successful Blogging“.  I really enjoy reading posts of this type and I’ll often use them as inspiration to do a little reflection on my own habits and how I measure up.  So, here goes…

1. We live in an increasingly information-dense world. The only way to stand out is to dig down deep and bring your own story to the world. Your point of differentiation is you. You have no competitors.  Write a blog post that only you could write.

This made me smile.  As I mentioned recently to someone, nobody could write like this.  They would probably be much more literate.  The “me” that writes this is a rural and proud of it, computer science teacher and now hobbiest, district computer consultant, photographer wanna be, always reading and would like to think always learning.

2. The biggest challenge to blogging isn’t having the time, the ideas, or the resources to do it. It’s having the courage to do it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in front of the world. You can’t learn that. You just have to do it.

I totally agree with this.  I have no doubts that my thoughts and rants may not be universally accepted but they do reflect my experiences and thoughts at the time.  If I’m wrong, convince me.  I’ve always felt that sharing and refining your thoughts is helpful to personal growth.  I’ve worked with people who know they’re always right and sometimes feel sorry when they just keep on digging.

3. Stick to a theme. You don’t want to confuse your readers. It’s possible to use your other interests to tell your story but pick to a theme and build an audience around it.

I’m bad with this.  Just take a skim through my posts and you’ll find education, technology, formula 1, family, teaching, and goodness knows what else.  I always thought that the unpredictable blogger was an interesting one.  I’m wrong by this maxim.

4. There is no greater gift than when somebody takes their precious time to leave a comment on your blog. Never take that for granted. Love on your readers.

I’m wholeheartedly behind this.  I watch the statistics as they come though and really appreciate it when you drop a comment here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  My biggest challenge is deciding whether it’s important to comment on each one.  I’ve always felt that the original post should contain the major content and just enjoy the way that it creates interaction after it goes live.

5. Be positive.  Lift people up. Negative blog posts are like seeing a car wreck. You might peek out of curiosity once in awhile but you certainly don’t want to see that every day.

I would like to think that I’m positive.  I hate going by blogs where there is venom spewed from beginning to end.  You just know that it’s not going to lead to productive conversation.  If someone posts negatively, you’re going to have a challenge making them see the positive side.  The flip side is a little easier.

6. Even the most talented and popular people in the world get criticized. If you attract criticism, you’re provoking thought … you’re doing job. Stay centered. Overall, the people in the blogosphere are very kind and supportive.  If you do good work, you will be rewarded.

I’ll vouch for this.  The readers that drop by here ARE kind and supportive.  And, when we actually get to meet, those awkward first steps of acquaintance are already breached.  You just know so much about each other already.

7. If you consistently create content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining — you will be creating shareable, conversational blog posts. Of these, I believe the most important over time is “interesting.”  Boring is death to a blog.

I think this is why I mix up the topics of my blog.  I’m always trying to write “interesting”.

8. The most important part of the blog post is the headline. As people scan headlines, it better be a great one that gets attention or nobody will even make it to your first sentence. The second most important part is the first sentence. Don’t waste people’s time. Tell them why they are there with you today.

I remember that from Grade 5, I think.  You can’t beat a good title, open with a strong sentence, do you writing, and then wrap it up with a conclusion.  If memory serves me correctly, good writing was described as a sandwich with a top, a bottom, and the filling.

9. The most effective way to build community is to become part of other communities. You have to give to get. Find a few other like-minded bloggers who are just starting out and support each other through sharing and comments. You have to actively work to build community, just as you work actively to build content. Spend some time building your network.

Absolutely.  We have a great network of educators that interact daily on Twitter.  I like to support the Ontario Educational Blogger by giving shout outs on Fridays.

10. The hardest part of blogging is beginning. Think about any difficult work task you have faced. It may have seemed daunting at first but over time you built a competency and it becomes easier. Blogging is no different. You just have to start and commit to it and it will become easier (and more fun) over time!

My most difficult part of blogging was to find the right platform.  At the time that I started blogging, I tried to toe the party line and use the platform that my employer provides.  I then moved and had to decide on Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, or WordPress.  In actual fact, I have blogs on each of the platforms.  Because you’re here and sticking with me, you’ll know that I settled on WordPress as my main platform.

Well, that was therapeutic!  Thanks, Mark Schaefer for the original post for the inspiration for this post.

I’ll turn it over to you, reader.  Do you agree with my self-assessment?  I’ve got a thick skin.  Let me know your thoughts.

If you’re blogging with your students, do you see this as an activity for the students to reflect on their blogging experiences?