This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s a Friday and what would a Friday be without This Week in Ontario Edublogs?  Don’t tell anyone but I’m writing this on Wednesday morning.  I’ll be attending to more Santa-ish things this morning.


Should we all be Literacy Teachers?

I could answer Deborah McCallum with one word – ABSOLUTELY.

I would also add on – today, more than ever.

When I went the Faculty of Education, the concept of “English Across the Curriculum” was big and was a message in all of my courses.  I also had the opportunity to volunteer at the time with a program offered through the YWCA to help women with learning to become more fluent in the language.  Many were new Canadians picking up a new language; some were people who went through the school system without learning reading and writing skills and found that they were not easily employed.

As a Computer Science teacher, I required that every program that was submitted came with a few paragraphs written formally in the students’ own voice telling me what the program did.  And you know what?  I marked for spelling and grammar.  So many times, I’d hear the argument “Sir, this isn’t English.  What does it matter?”  Well, it matters dearly to me.  It gave students the ability to get some marks even if they couldn’t get the program to work perfectly; it gave them some insights as to how their logic worked by trying to explain it to me; it gave them some help debugging it because there were times when they’d put their thoughts into words and that revealed a flaw in their code.  And, I still remember a university professor telling us that most of us would get jobs related to computing that didn’t involve programming.

The real challenge to Deborah’s thinking is to describe exactly what she means by the term “literacy”.  I think that it should be taken as widely as possible to include mathematics, science, English, French, computer studies – heck you know what?  There comes a time when it becomes impossible to differentiate “literacy” from “education”.

I don’t see that as a bad thing at all.


Is the EdCamp model right for all learners?

Jennifer Casa-Todd was a mover and shaker for an EdCamp offered only to those teachers within her district.  It came across as 180 degrees from the event from the district across the street which has offered an ongoing professional learning event of its own with a more traditional approach.

In this post, she takes time to write, at length, as to what they did and how they did it.  There is a certain reservation in her words and that’s probably expected for doing one’s first event of this magnitude.  Even I made it into her post with my reference to door prizes.  I personally think that they’re an opportunity for the community to thank teachers for professional activities on the weekend when they could be doing a million other things.  When put in that context, it’s not that difficult – you just have to ask.

It was her “aha moment” that really reinforced the value of the EdCamp model for me.

When you’ve been around the block a few times with technology, you know how where to find answers and you know how to phrase the question so that you get good answers.  But, if it’s your first rodeo, for many anything less than 100% can be frustrating.  We don’t often say it out loud, but we know that with technology there are times when 90% is all that’s needed before you move on.  If only everyone had exactly the same skillset and the group was truly homogeneous.  Then, professional learning would be so easy.

The premise behind an EdCamp is that you come with more questions and you’re looking for kindred souls.  You learn what you need and then move on as opposed to the big board events that bring in a one size fits all speaker which is wonderful for some people and the ultimate in frustration for others.

I hope that her group of organizers learns from their experience and makes it continue to grow.  The advantages of keeping the audience in house is that everyone has access to the same resources and can make learning friends that don’t go missing after the event.


Math Links for Week Ending Dec. 18, 2015

If you’re teaching or interested in Mathematics, then you really should follow this blog.

This week features a very nice collection of links to enhance any classroom.  Thanks to David Petro for pulling this all together.

Since school is on holidays, there are just a bunch of fun links there to mentally mess with, and a blast from the past name for me, Don Fraser.

But, once things start up again, you might look at these resources in a totally different light.


TeachOntario – TVO and Virtual Community

Did you know about TVOntario’s Professional Learning Series?

I didn’t until I read Diana Maliszewski’s post.

She teases us with a bit of the topics that will be available.  They look interesting.

You’ll recall earlier that she was having personal questions about continuing with Minecraft but it looks like she’s back.  She’s leading a session called “Minecraft in the Classroom: Connecting Creepers to Curriculum”.  Sound intriguing.

I wonder if she dresses up when she does webinars?


Why I Love GAFE: The Custom Webstore

Katie Maenpaa offered a short description as to how her district manages extensions and applications for their Chromebook implementation.  It’s not wide open but students can request something be added.  Teachers, on the other hand, have full access.

It sounds like a process that they’re happy with.

In the post is a list of the ones approved so far.  It’s an interesting list and includes an advertising blocker.

I think it would be tough to take issue with any of them.  Of course, as a GAFE board, once they get into the Google resources, it’s another ball game adding utilities into the applications.


Love Thy Neighbour

I know that it’s not specifically a blog post but it’s indeed worth sharing.  Sylvia Duckworth has released a Holiday message of peace in another of her wonderful sketchnotes.


Change Ahead

I like the intro to this blog post from Jen Aston.  It’s all about change ahead for her.

Of course, that’s just part of the job for people in her position.  You never know what you’re going to run into when you support a teacher or a classroom.  But, that’s nothing compared to what’s in her future.

2016 sounds like it will be a special year for her and her family.


What a Merry Blogging Christmas!  Thanks to those who continue to keep sharing their thoughts and resources.  Check out the complete posts and all the Ontario Edubloggers here.

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