This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This has been Computer Science Education week.  There have been some great ideas and thoughts blogged on that topic but also on other things from great Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a bit of what I caught this past week.

Making Space for Inquiry-Focused Maker Spaces at School

There’s been so much said about inquiry focused activities as well as maker spaces as of late.  In this post, Camille Rutherford ties the concepts together nicely and even extends her thoughts to include the greater community.

I like the connection and idea that she shares.  I could see this being a collaborative research centre, not only for the concept of making but for parents and community groups to get a better understanding of just how a child’s mind works and why there’s a need for play and inquiry in activities inside and outside school.  I’m not seeing how this would work with too many schools though; the costs of supervision and maintenance being the sort of practical things that would be show stoppers.  Then, there’s the cost of consumables which would have to be borne by someone/something.  A first knee-jerk reaction would be that this would be ideal for the local public library, community groups, or universities/colleges.  But, that wouldn’t have the universal appeal of doing it right at the child’s school.  Maybe it’s a take home concept where the concept is shared with parents who provide activities for kids in the neighbourhood?

At the bottom of the post, Camille refers to another article worthy of a read and understanding as well.  The Philosophy of Educational MakerspacesPart 1 of Making an Educational Makerspace

Draft Starting Points…

Eva Thompson concludes with

I like doing things I say I will do, even if I open myself up to scrutiny. I said I would post, so I have. At the very least, you can say Eva stands by her word, even if you don’t agree with those words.

She’s a braver person than me.  In the post, she gives us a look at things that she might eventually blog about.

I could never do that; some of my thoughts that I think would turn into interesting points would make absolutely no sense to anyone but me.  Here’s one that I just happened to add this morning.

  • Whose parking spot?

I’ve got it mind mapped to an Early Years’ teacher, school principal, and owner of a grocery store.  It probably makes no sense to you and it’s making a great deal of sense to me except when I think I should write about it.

This post, in rough form looks like this –

At least Eva’s fleshed out her potential posts a great deal better than that.  I look forward to reading them, especially the one about her Twitter concerns…

Giving Dash Some Markers: Exploring Coding Options For ALL Students

OK, Aviva Dunsiger blew a perfect opportunity and I told her so!

If you follow Aviva on Twitter, she’s forever sharing what’s happening in her classroom, often with pictures to demonstrate the activity.

For the Hour of Code, she proved to herself that kindergarten students could code, at their level, just as well as any class.  She provided her students Dashes and markers and made what sounds like an absolutely fun activity drawing artwork with the robots.

So, I yanked her chain a little bit for not taking and sharing pictures of the final products.  She claims that her students cleaned up before she had the opportunity and that the process was more important than the product.  I absolutely agree but a picture or two would have been nice.

Instead, though, she posted a couple of YouTube videos that show the activity in action.  I love them!  Listen closely in the background and you’ll hear laughter and student discussion about the activity.  You couldn’t really ask for much more!

Ban the Pencils! Someone was stabbed!

Heidi Hobson very nicely builds the case for digital technologies in the classroom.

If there’s a way to bend the rules or do something else other than expected with anything, students will find it.

I think the title is perfect to set the mindset.  If we banned anything because it could be abused, there would be nothing left.  A favourite activity in my classroom with the shag carpet during the dry days of winter was shuffling your feet and tapping your neighbour on the ear to give them a static electricity shock.  We certainly didn’t ban wearing certain types of shoes because they worked nicely for the activity.  We dealt with it.  Of course, static electricity can do terrible things with technology so we developed the rule that you had to ground yourself by touching the metal door before going into the computer room.  (which had tile flooring, in case you were wondering…)

I think that any educational management that tries to block or ban certain technologies belittles the abilities of their teachers to teach students to use the technology properly and appropriately.  I would argue that it’s even more important, in this day and age, because these technologies whether they’re BYOB, home computer, public library computers or something else operate outside the classroom as well as within.  Students need to learn how to be discerning technology users.  Teachers are in the best position to help that.


And to confirm this, check out the post by Peter Prochilo – Intention.

He lays out his school’s plan for the Hour of Code but then turns it into a reflection about how the school’s students have embraced the tools provided in their Google Classroom environment.

It’s a philosophy that I certainly embrace.  Technology can no longer be left as some sort of happenstance.  Its use needs to be purposeful and as Peter says, “with intent”.

Anyone want to take the other side of that argument?

I didn’t think so.

It doesn’t have to be complicated

“An expert is someone from out of town”

The town?  Weatherford, Texas

The Expert?  Jennifer Casa-Todd

What a wonderful opportunity for these students to talk to one of the nicest Canadians that they’ll ever meet.

Jennifer shares some of the questions that they asked of her.  Sounds like fun.

If you look at the young man in the bottom right corner, he’s probably looking in the dictionary for CoffeeEDU

Innovation in Schools

Jamie Reaburn Weir is a doer.  She’s also a researcher and a deep thinker.  From her latest post, check out what her 3UU class is doing.

Currently, my students are working on passion projects that are about a topic they chose as meaningful to them as individuals. They are then ask a question, use the social sciences inquiry model to look for answers to the question, examine various aspects through the lenses of sociology, psychology, and anthropology, and express their thinking somehow verbally, in formal writing, in a media piece, all with the underlying idea of comparing and contrasting their various sources. It sounds intense and it is.

The list of topics the students chose from her post is quite impressive.

Her motivation for this post came from a reading – “Bottoms Up” which focuses on where real innovation originates.  Both her post and this article are good reads.

But, being on the frontline can also make one look at perceptions and challenges.  Jamie takes a look at both in the post.

It’s really a good read and worth sharing with administrators who are talking about change and innovation.  Do they really understand all the issues?

What a wonderful collection of posts again this week.  Thanks to the authors of each. I hope that you take a few moments and click through to read the original posts.  There’s something there for everyone.  Then, head over to the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always something there to inspire.

OTR Links 12/11/2015

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