The Answer is – Nuthin’


The question is “What did you do in school today?”

It was the answer that I gave my parents when they asked.  I can still remember my dad “Those darn teachers – how much are we paying them and you did nothing?”

It was the answer that my kids would give when asked.  At that point, I was a teacher myself so I knew how much they got paid and they still did nothing.

On the other side of the fence, my wife would regularly ask ‘What happened today?”  As only a teacher could, I would leap off onto an excited rant “We did such an elegant program today in class.  It perfectly demonstrated the elements of sequencing, selection, and repetition.”  Then, I’d wake her and continue “I think they really got it.”

Just in time for back to school, there’s a wonderful post on the Huffington Post.  “25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?‘”  There are some absolutely terrific ideas in this post.

1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.

3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)

4. Where is the coolest place at the school?

5. …

You’ll have to read the rest of the post to see all 25.

The timing is perfect.  If you’re reading this, put a link to the post on your class blog, wiki, or webpage.  I know it’s too late for that paper newsletter but nobody does that anymore, right?  Going electronic lets your message be immediately responsive.  Anyway, your parents will thank you!  You’ll be getting the messages from school sent home and, once the child starts talking, the parents just need to extend the conversation.

Or, you could put the ideas on the wiki one week at a time.  That would give you 25 weeks of fresh content!

Or, even better, use the post to inspire your own ideas to get the home/school conversation started.

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OTR Links 08/31/2014


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

I Used To Be In Charge


In the beginning, there was the command line. 

If you were new to computers, you had to learn a lot of things.  Like directories, where things were actually stored, execution paths, location of applications, how to change directories, the difference between a slash and a back slash, a # prompt, a $ prompt, etc.

In fact, you can still do that, if you are so inclined.

Whether you’re using Windows, Mac OS, some version of Linux on your home PC, or some other OS, there’s that moment of Zen when you drop out of whatever graphic shell you’re using and you’re walking around your hard drive doing powerful things, peeking here and there, and these days mostly wondering what the heck that does.  There’s also libraries everything and you just know that there is all kinds of duplication.  With hard drives being so cheap, it’s eliminated the need to be efficient enough to store anything on a limited device…

We’ve become so used to just launching things.  I know, in my case, I seem to care less and less about where everything is and how I get to it.

or

or

I do get it.  Developers are working with portable and touch in mind.  One tap to load and away you go will be our future.  Of that, there is no question.

I just think about “how’ every now and again.

Above are the three launchers that I use regularly.  I could have them all configured to work exactly the same way, but I don’t and I often wonder why.  Mac and Ubuntu are vertical on the left side of the screen; Windows is horizontal on the bottom.  Mac hides when I don’t use it; Ubuntu and Windows are always showing.  The things I use regularly on Mac and Ubuntu are in the launcher; Windows I still go looking in the menu.  (Ditto with Gnome when I use it)

I guess it boils down to – I am either waiting for the perfect interface or I just don’t care to take total control any more.

Yesterday, I read this article about the upcoming Ubuntu 14.10.  Embedded in the article is reference to UnityNext/Unity8.  I wonder – is this going to be enough to push me to take back control of things again?  I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

OTR Links 08/30/2014


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I just flew in from Niagara Falls and, boy, are my arms tired.  Yeah, I know, it’s an oldie but I think a goodie.  Henny Youngman?

Anyway, it was a day of planning for the Bring IT, Together Conference with my co-chair Cyndie Jacobs and we’re excited about the event.  It’s a chance to bring together Ontario educators for three days devoted to technology and, of course, a chance to catch up with some of the Ontario Edubloggers.  They’re always talking about something – here’s some of what I read this week.


A million thank you’s all the way from Greece!

Joanne Marie Babalis checked in reporting “a million” from her online presence.  I’m not sure if it’s hits or followers but that’s certainly a big number so congratulations.

Of course, the goal once you hit a million, is to hit two million so click through and add to her numbers!


“Boom! That just happened” – My Experience at the Google Teacher Academy

I remember my first look at the Google Campus.  I’m sure that my chin had hit the ground hard and was dragging.

Read about Rolland Chidiac’s experience here.  He shared 10 things that stuck with him after his visit to the Google Teacher Academy.


Things We Learn From Our Students

Lorraine Boulos shared an interesting take on a guest blogger for her blog.  She asked a retiring teacher to share some thoughts.  So, Mark Whinton penned three things learned from students.

It’s amazing advice as we head into the 2014-2015 school year.

Sadly, not everyone is listening. Kudos to those that are.


When is something worth writing about?

I really enjoy reading the leadership thoughts from Sue Bruyns.  Reflection has always been job #1 for me – I think it lets you learn from the present and plan for the future.  With social (and traditional) media, there is no shortage of places to write and share your thoughts.

As Sue expertly notes….

Maybe the question isn’t “When is something worth writing about?” but “When is something not worth writing about?”  There certainly is the public forum and there are no shortages of readers.  There’s also the private domain and that can be just as rewarding.

If it’s not memorialized somehow, it may just get lost forever.


Readers, this has been a wonderful week of reading and reflecting.  Thanks so much for continuing to share, think, learn, and grow.

Please take the time to check out these posts and the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

And, most certainly, all the best next Tuesday.

OTR Links 08/29/2014


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

Q&A – Jeopardy Style


One of the favourite tools that was shared during my university class was a Flash based version of the popular game show, Jeopardy.  We talked about using it as a diagnostic tool or as a way to have students challenge their classmates during the research of a particular topic.  It certainly isn’t something that you base an entire course on, but it’s nice to shake things up a bit.  Paired with a SMARTBoard, it also helps students with their presentation skills.

These days, not all devices effectively use Flash anymore and so that opportunity is lost.  Plus, if you created a game at home, you had to remember to bring the questions to school in order to use it!  If there was an application that screamed for a web-based solution, this was it.

Enter Flipquiz.

Like so many things these days, there’s a free and a paid (pro) version. The free version has the features that you need to give it a fair shakedown.

Visit the site and try out the demo quiz that’s online.  Six categories with five questions in each category.

If you’ve watched early evening television in the last 50 years, the presentation is so familiar.

Choose a category and a value…

I’ll take NBA Teams for 400…

I’ll buzz in with the answer “Utah”.  A reveal shows the answer is true.

Selecting student responses can be done a number of ways – hands, call on a student, or I used to use those “That was easy” devices from Staples.

That’s about it! 

You’re not going to use it daily – it would lose its lustre – but add it to your arsenal.