This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great week of blogging in Ontario.  Here’s some of what caught my attention this past week.


Unplugging the Hour of Code

Brian Aspinall’s recent post is a good piece of advice for new and experienced teachers introducing coding to students.  It really asks you to answer the question “What is the purpose of doing this?”

If it’s just to put together some code to get a computer to do something, there are so many tutorials available.

If it’s to do some thinking about instructions and how they make objects interact, then perhaps your first stop is anywhere but the computer.  He includes his thoughts and shows how non-computer activities fit in.  He gives a modern approach to a game like “Simon says”. 

Even in a full-blown computer science class, the first step isn’t to sit at the keyboard and start to code.  It involves thinking through the logic and design an appropriate algorithm. 

Maybe the sweet spot should be “two hours of code” – one offline to think through just what you want the computer to do and the second actually working the keyboard, mouse or screen.


We Started Coding Today!

Busted!

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And so Rolland Chidiac and his class are off and participating in the Hour of Code.

In this post, he describes the full experience for his students.  Interestingly, the students head to the off-computer experience to help their planning and thinking.

They’ve got it.


Leadership and the Fear of Innovation — A Call to School Principals and System Leaders

Debbie Donsky’s post is one that everyone who is in a leadership position should read.

She provides a nice rationale and suggestions about how it might happen.

Of course, the easiest thing to start the change would be to remove everything from a staff meeting that could be done with an email and focus on learning instead.  As she notes, and it’s so true, so often an expert is someone from out of town.  You fly them in for a day, they give an inspirational talk for an hour, get their money and then leave.  Where’s the followup?  Is everyone in that huge audience all at the same time and place with their learning to get the benefit from the talk?

What would happen if you looked around your staff recognizing all the genius that is there and you gave it time and opportunity to shine?  Yes, there will be the glazed over eyes at the beginning but if the culture is one of supporting innovation and learning together, that too will pass.


Library Day at Queen’s Park 2015

At the risk of offending my friend Anita Brooks Kirkland, what better group than teacher-librarians to go to Queen’s Park and shush the politicians to listen to an important message about Ontario literacy both inside and outside schools?  Their recommendations?

In today’s digital world, I’ve mentioned it many times.  Every school needs a teacher-librarian.  Take the very best teacher in the school and assign them to the library and get with the program.  Literacy isn’t a one-time 30 minute workshop for teachers or 30 minute lesson for students.  It’s something that needs to be deep and ongoing.  Point #2 also highlights the important notion that it’s just not schools that need access to digital resources.

I continue to find it amazing, that with the world class Ontario Curriculum, that this position and approach isn’t consistent across districts and schools.

In Anita’s post, check out the Storify document that she created for that day.


A Note on Teacher Certification…

I found this blog post by Matthew Morris interesting.  He shares his implementation of a Young Men’s Club at his school.

I think that many of us can picture exactly the students that he describes.  In my case, it would have been grade 9 and 10 students.

Then, the blog post takes off in an interesting direction when he talks about one guest speaker, in particular, who could never be a teacher.  Read the post to find out why.


#LearningIsLike… ?

So, Colleen Rose tagged me in a message and click baited me over to her blog.  I read her very short post that she’s hoping to get input on through the hashtag #LearningIslIke.

I figured that I would help the cause and reply.  Learning is like …

And then my mind went blank.

I didn’t know how to respond.  It’s not like I haven’t learned.  I’ve learned a lot and I plan to learn a lot more!

As a teacher, it’s like the old saying “I don’t know how to describe it but I know it when I see it.”  Remember the other saying “Not the same way, not the same day”.  There are times when I learn immediately.  There are times when it takes a few minutes.  There are times when it seemingly takes forever.  Then with sketchnoting, it appears that it never will happen.

So, Colleen, I don’t have a single answer.

The next step, in education, after learning is of course the demonstration of that learning.  For the most part, we call these tests and exams.  Given all this, if we can’t describe how learning happens in one way, it really seems presumptuous to think that evaluation can be done in a singular event either.


Should we be done with the debate?

On the heels of reading Colleen’s post, I read this from Kyle Pearce.  His blog, Tap Into Teen Minds, is always a good resource for ideas about how to inspire students in mathematics education.  Recently, he attended a session that has him asking two big questions.

The whole post is a great read and is guaranteed to make you think.

Perhaps the answer is that we’re all screwed up because we went through an educational system.  In that, we most recently went through a university system that honours the lecture.

If you’re lucky, you can land your first job in education at the age of 24.  Can you unlearn 19 years of education so that you can relearn and start afresh?

Of do you stop beating yourself up over this and make slow and steady process to where you want to be?


Third Teacher Checklist

Maybe Deborah McCallum has an answer that could help.  She synthesized this checklist from the Ministry of Education’s monograph “The Third Teacher”.


Once again, it’s been another great week of reading and inspiration from those blogging throughout the province.

Please take a moment or two and click through to read the entire blog posts.  Then, head over to the big list and see what else is posted from great Ontario Edubloggers.

3 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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