Statistics come to Hallowe’en

I wish that I had found this resource earlier so that I could have shared it before this.  Well, better late than never and it’s not too early to start stocking up for next year’s event.  The annual question, particularly if you live in a highly populated subdivision is “how much candy do we buy for Hallowe’en?”

The question is based on a number of assumptions…

  • kids like candy
  • you leave your porch lights on and invite scary visitors
  • you predict just how many of these visitors you’ll get

and, of course, this is one time when it’s not all that painful to over estimate visitors.  The overage that you buy won’t go to waste.  My strategy was always to give our the Snickers bars last.

Teachers know that, for the next week, you’ll be finding candy wrappers stuffed into locations throughout your classroom.  In my classroom, I always brought in an extra waste paper basket to encourage proper disposal (it didn’t always work) and also a big bowl where kids could drop off candy they didn’t want and pick up something new and interesting to try.  At the end of the day, I had a couple of options – one to add to my collection or two to take out to football practice as treats.

But, back to the original question.  How much to buy?

You can go with experience or, if you’re new to your neighbourhood, ask a neighbour what to expect or make a data driven decision based upon data from Statistics Canada and available through  Let’s say you lived in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.  What is the breakdown of Trick-or-Treat Children per Dwelling?

What a great planning guide for your candy purchases!  If you’re reading this early, you can still visit the local grocery store.

Or, in the aftermath to see how accurate your prediction was!

Or, in the mathematics classroom, a great answer to the question “When will we ever use this stuff?”

If K-W is not your community, just change the location in the search box available in the top left corner of the screen.


OTR Links 10/31/2015

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great week of sharing thoughts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always something to engage and get my mind thinking and, for that, I’m so grateful.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

The Undervalued Sense

We always talk about getting the perfect title for a blog post to hook potential readers.  This one by Diana Maliszewski had me hook, line, and sinker.  I tried to guess what sense it might be before visiting and I’ll confess to drawing a blank.  It could be any of them.

“I smell you. I smell you Ms. Molly.” I’m pretty used to my personal space being invaded by little people, who touch, grab, and hug me constantly, but this scent examination unnerved me at first.

OK, from the first paragraph, I determine that maybe she didn’t bathe or something.  Sorry, Diana.

She expanded on the concept and brought in so much that we now take for granted – perfume-free workspaces, for example – and then how to encourage the use of this scent in the classroom.

This approach totally took me by surprise but I’ll admit; I enjoyed the read and thinking.

The value of grades?

Speaking of thinking, Jamie Reaburn Weir’s post challenges the notion of a number given to a student.  Does the number define the student?

Any teacher worth their salt would answer the definition part with a resounding “NO”.

It brought back a memory of an absolutely genius young lady that I taught for three years in Computer Studies.  She couldn’t do anything wrong, it seemed.  I remember once giving her a 99 on some sort of assessment that was drop dead on target for what was required.  Not only was she smart, she had just the nicest way of approaching things.  She waited until the entire class had left and then asked me to show her what she missed so that it would never happen again.

I also remember a small handful of students in my education class who obviously had done the bare minimum for the assessments (and got the appropriate mark) and then went directly to the Dean about it.  When the Dean and I reviewed their submissions, I was not only supported but got into a great philosophical discussion about assessment.

The conclusion is an interesting tack on to Jamie’s post – we don’t let the number define the student; the student allows the number to define themselves.

Either way, as Jamie notes, there are other ways of thinking about assessment and her students had ideas.

But, for now, we have these hurdles that society has accepted as proof of accomplishment.

I think real change has to go beyond just the school system; it has to be a change in societal attitudes about what defines success in education.  That will be a much tougher nut to crack.

Do people do well if they want to, or if they can?

OK, maybe Sue Dunlop has the answer or at least can take our thinking along a different road.

I think we had the same parents…

So, with respect to students, what can be done to make them want to.

Then, in an unexpected turn, Sue talks about the other partners in education.

What can be done there?

Apple Watch and all about Complications

After reading Anne Shillolo’s post, I can safely say I know much more about the history of watches than I ever thought that I would.

It took me on a tangent to read about Patek Philippe & Co. and the effect on the Apple Watch.  How could a company created in 1851 impact a modern wearable device?

It’s all in the complications.

The website for Patek Phillippe watches states, “A ‘complication’ is any additional horological function to the display of hours, minutes and seconds.”

“Complicated watches made by Patek Phillippe are assigned to one of two categories.”

I’m just having visions of educators at the Bring IT, Together Conference next week comparing and contrasting complications.

Just Two Words

Another smile to my face.

Sue Bruyns starts this post with reference to the cliche “Have a nice day”.

Years ago, there was a gentleman that worked in another part of the school who came to my desk and asked for a bit of advice or a favour or bite of my sandwich or something.  I don’t recall.  I just remember that we somehow interacted and, as he left, I said “Have a nice day”.

I still remember his response.  He turned back and said “Why?  Do you really care?”

I didn’t have the heart to say “No, not really and I have less inclination now to ever care…”

Years later, and I’m reading Sue’s blog post.

Now that I’m wiser, I realize that the statement is just a collection of words, non-committal, and just done because it was expected to be.

Maybe I should have said “Now that you’ve eaten my sandwich, or now that I’ve helped you, how are you planning to make the rest of the day special?”  Or something.  A question is really a prompt for further thinking and interaction.  A statement indicates that we’re done and there’s no further interaction expected.  If the goal is relationship building, maybe the focus should be on asking a question instead.

Sue may be on to something here.

Playing With Green Screen (…finally!)

Of all the computery things that you can do, is there nothing that’s more fun than working with a green screen?  In this post, Colleen Rose talks about her experience setting things up in her classroom.

Selection_435Plus, she’s bringing it to the Bring IT, Together conference next week.  Is there any place that uses a green screen better than Niagara Falls?  How many places can you purchase a picture of yourself going over the falls using the technique?

I have lots of fond memories of working the green screen myself.  Once, at the professional learning lab at Dowswell, I wanted to play but had no green screen available until I realized that the data projector shining on a SMART Board provides a nice one.  Plus, you can get some interesting 3D effects if you spend a lot of time at it.  (or so I’ve heard)

I also recall an ECOO conference a few years ago when my friend Nazreen brought me on the stage as a stunt dummy for a Hall Davidson green screen demonstration.  Sadly, I had worn my green/blue chequered shirt that day.  We successfully answered the question “who don’t weather forecasters ever wear green?”

This could be a great deal of fun next week.

The more we learn, the more we QUESTION?

In an interesting followup to the field trip to the dump, Peter Cameron’s class had questions.

Selection_436Lots more questions had arisen from the outing and are available in this post.

Of course, this could lead to some variability.  What if Mr. Cameron owned an F-150 instead?

Thanks to all of the above for their wonderful posts.  Lots of thinking on my part here and writing a response in a blog post makes it even better!

Please click through and enjoy their original thinking.  There’s great stuff there and in all of the Ontario Edublogs.  Check out some of the great writing and thinking and add yours to the list if it’s not there already.

OTR Links 10/30/2015

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

Flipping learning – #FlipboardEDU

There’s a concept that has been making the rounds lately – FlipboardEDU.  I was going to use the adjective “new” but great educators have been using the concepts for a long time now, both with Flipboard and other curating tools.  Personally, I started with Zite which is now part of Flipboard.

Follow the hashtag #flipboardedu.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that Flipboard is one of my favourite stops for morning reading.  By pulling together topics and other things in a manner that I find “strategic” for me, I’m able to pack just an incredible amount of learning into the time spent with my morning coffee. I’m constantly finding new resources and/or fine tuning my current collection for the best results.

Here’s a bit of it.

Now, I’m not too proud to show that I follow myself too!  Even paranoids have enemies. It’s actually a nice way to follow up on stories that I read on the iPad but I need to actually sit down at a computer to try things out.  Whatever works, right?

What continually impresses me is how effortless the process is.  I’ll also share some of the reading that I do to Twitter and, as I’ve mentioned before, it all trickles back to being bookmarked to my Diigo account.

As I was looking at things today in the context of FlipboardEDU, I really see the value.  My learning is richer because of the boards, topics, people, and lists that I follow.

Why not use it for more than that?

Ideas like:

  • Creating a Flipboard of articles for a particular subject area and make it available for students as they work.  They can spend less time finding things and more time on task actually using it
  • Creating a Flipboard of articles for that topic for yourself – make it private – and fill it with “teacher-type” resources to support the classroom teaching and activities
  • Creating a Flipboard of media articles where your school is in the news and make a link to it on your school or class website/wiki
  • Creating a Flipboard of tips and tricks to master a task so that all a student has to do is access the Flipboard to get answers
  • Creating a Flipboard of homework assignments and answers?  Flip a picture of the answer or solution for completeness
  • Creating a Flipboard of photos from around the school or taken while on field trips.  Nothing speaks louder than pictures.  Or speaking of speaking, add audio tracks and movies to this or any Flipboard you’re creating.  You’ll have an incredible resource for open house or Grade 8 night or …
  • Running a conference or an EdCamp?  Flip resources, pictures, Twitter messages into one place
  • Flip a Twitter chat into one document by searching the hashtag.  I know that many progressive boards are using the medium to bring their learning together.  #peel21st comes to mind.  Why not archive it and show it off to demonstrate learning or to engage new people to join in?
  • Create a Twitter list of staff members and then a Flipboard devoted to following that list to stay in touch with everyone’s learning
  • Actually create a Twitter list of anyone dealing with your school (teachers, parents, community, students) and have all the results sitting in one spot

I’m sure that you can come up with more ideas once things get rolling.

On the Flipboard site, there’s a great article about the how-to if you’re intrigued “Enhance Your Class Magazines with Flipboard’s Compose Feature“.

Much of this can be accomplished within the Flipboard application itself but there are times when you find a resource elsewhere.  Flipboard has you covered there “build & SHARE your Flipboard“.  I’ve got the bookmarklet ready to go in every browser that I use.  And, to see what I’m collecting, it’s just a matter of clicking the Flipboard link that you see to the right to get to a list of my public magazines.

I know that, for some, it will be “ok, here’s yet another tool” and to a certain extent that’s true.  But in the big fire hose that’s the internet, making information useful and immediate makes at least investigating worth your time to see if the concept fits your needs.