doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

This year, off the record

The year end is the perfect time to give thanks and have a little reflection.

My sincerest thanks to any of you who happened to drop by and read a post or two here on the blog.  While a hobbyist doesn’t blog to increase numbers (there are lots of blogs that have advertising to fill that slot), it’s always rewarding to think that in the wild west of blogging, a few of you stop by here daily or every now and again.  I’ve been writing about my passions – teaching, education, technology, technology in education, etc. for a long time now.

In the early days, my former colleagues might remember the paper newsletters that used to come out monthly.  I’ve always thought that anyone who has learned something or thought about something should share it with others.  Together, we get smarter.  The bigger the together, the smarter we get.  My first superintendent used to put the newsletter in the bundle of paper provided to trustees at board meetings.  I thought it was just filler until I got summoned to his office when he forgot to include it once and he had heard about it!  Of course, it was all my fault.  Maybe it gave them something to do during the meetings?  <grin>

With the popularity of internet services, my newsletter went digital so collecting paper was no longer a show stopper or excuse for killing trees.  When blogging functionality came about on the FirstClass system that we used within the district, the game changed again.  Sadly, that ended and I think a lot of blog posts went away with it.  But, back in 2008, I believe, I started blogging on this platform (and on the Blogger platform) and haven’t looked back.  It’s kind of humbling to skip back and read some of the earlier posts, knowing that I was just learning to use the platform at the time.  I continue to learn, through updates, various third party clients, the native clients, file formats, embeds, movies, and the list seems to be never ending.

But above and beyond this, there are a couple of really important personal things.  I’ve met so many people virtually and face to face as a result of them reading my posts or me reading theirs.  Bloggers/sharers are a very special type of people.  I’ve also learned that there are so many other eager learners who believe in the philosophy of sharing what they know in order to learn from others.  It’s sort of the old “take a penny, share a penny”.  Surely someone remembers pennies.

In particular, I’ve learned that there are so many wonderful Ontario Education bloggers.  Yes, there are bloggers world-wide but it’s important to know what’s happening at home first.  This really struck me as important when a noted Ontario educator who can always find the dark side of anything started reading and informing anyone that would listen that No Child Left Behind was coming to Ontario and it was doom and gloom for the Ontario school system.  So, to so many that I read regularly – the Alannas, Amys, Andrews, Andys, Avivas, Brandons, Brendas, Brians, Cals, Colleens, Danika (there really is only one), Davids, Debbies, Deborahs, Dianas, Dianes, Dougs, Donnas, Enzos, Evas, James’, Jamies, Johns, Julies, Jennifers, Jens, Lisas, Michaels, Muriels, Pauls, Peters, Richards, Robs, Rogers, Rusuls, Sheilas, Sherrys, Staceys, Stephens, Sues, Sylvias, Tims, Toms, ….  thanks.  For the complete list of those I’ve found and read, click the link above.

This year, I’ve tried again to do my part and I’m so thankful that I have and continue to have this opportunity.  Since I do my best to post daily, I do try to mix up my writing styles so that no two posts are too terribly similar.  Sometimes it’s a software review, sometime a comment on an article I’ve read, my thoughts on an event, … my secretary used to say often “You’re such a teacher, you have an opinion on everything.”  Damn straight!  And I’m going to get me some more.  There’s so much to learn.  You can’t stay ahead or even abreast of the curve but you sure can stop falling behind just a little bit.

There are a couple of formats that I do try to work with and refine regularly.

One of these formats is the online interview.  In 2015, I had the selfish opportunity to interview a number of people.  Why?  I just like their online persona or a project that they’re involved with and want to learn more.  These folks were so kind and unselfish to answer questions from this guy that many even haven’t met.  I hope that you enjoyed the interviews as much as I did.  p.s. they’re easy posts to write; just come up with interesting leading questions and watch them shine in their responses.

Stay tuned; I’ve got one in progress and another done.  Because the interviewee is a minor, I’m just waiting for parent consent.

I think I’ve mentioned recently that I really enjoy Stephen Downes’ format of commenting on blogs in a post of his own.  It puts all the comments together in one spot and certainly is a little off the beaten conventional track.  I’ve stolen his format and use it once a week in a post I call “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”.  (TWIOE)  I think his format leads to an interesting post to read and it’s another opportunity to promote the great thinking and blogging coming from Ontario Edubloggers.

One morning, while walking the dog, I had only one of those revelations that only a geeky dog walking blogger could have.  You could actually do a search of your own WordPress site, save the link and use it in your blog.  Now, you may have known that but I didn’t.  It works out well if every 14th post has the same title. I liked it so much that I’ve included it in the hamburger menu at the top of this page.  Or, if you want to see them all directly, just click here.

You’ll find a year’s worth of the best that Ontario Educational Bloggers have to offer.  (along with my thoughts on their posts)  I’m always looking for new blogs to follow so please let me know what I’m missing.

Finally, no year end reflection would be complete without a Top whatever list.   Using the analytics that comes with WordPress, here’s sort of a rough idea of the posts that were popular.  I think it’s misleading since there are also others that get the blog post via email or with some sort of aggregator.  Consequently, you never really and truly know the actual numbers and reach of a post.  I want to differentiate this from those “Top Blogger Lists” that you so often see.  When you discover the list, you find people on there that haven’t posted anything in a year or two but live on by reputation, I guess.

This Top 12 list is done and verified by yours truly in a truly scientific manner as I watch the birds fight over sunflower seeds at the bird feeder outside.  I’m looking at the analytics of blog visits because I don’t have anything else to go by.  These are voted for by you, the clicking public.  I personally think everything I write is wonderful otherwise I wouldn’t have written it.  Remember my secretary’s opinion?

So, here goes.  The past year’s posts by click popularity.

December – The Holidays

School districts have the last day of school before break at various times.  I think the most popular date was last Friday but I know of at least one friend who has today as the last day before kicking back.  Regardless of when it is, enjoy. I always had a holiday tradition.  I got sick. […]

November – My Hour of Code 2015 Collection

OK, so I’ve been poking around adding things to a Flipboard document to support the Hour of Code 2015, December 7-13. 

It’s nothing compared to the TDSB resource that I had written about earlier this week but I like to collect hoard things.  I hadn’t told anyone about it; I just keep flipping things into it as I find them. 

The document wasn’t super secret or anything like that so I hadn’t made it private; I just hadn’t told anyone about it until now. […]

October – Advice for all bloggers

Recently, Donna Papacosta updated her 2014 post “Advice for new bloggers“.  It’s a good read and certainly worthy of passing along to someone interesting in blogging themselves, including students.  As I started to read it again, it seems to me that there’s good advice there for all bloggers, whether you’re new to the party or […]

September – Assumptions

I still remember my brother’s first day of high school.  There are three years of difference between us so there were lots of differences.  His frustration at supper that night was all of the teachers that said “Oh, you’re Doug’s brother.  You must be …. ” and rambled off a list of attributes that they […]

August – When You’ve Lost Integrity …

It was with real disappointment that I read Shelly Terrell’s post “When Education Leadership Fails You #Edchat” the other evening.  It wasn’t actually her post – it was well written – it was the content.  I wasn’t aware of the origin of the post but, as it turns out, I “know” the student work involved.  […]

July – Stop It Already

I didn’t attend the ISTE Conference this year.  As I noted yesterday, it’s never held on a July 4 but it was on a July 1.  I enjoyed time with family and fireworks instead.  At the same time, social media does allow you to track the conversations.  Fortunately, you can follow the discussions with the […]

June – Mindset and More

Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) has released another new Sketchnote.  I know, because she tags me in the release of new notes and I retweet her message to help spread the message.  So, whenever someone else retweets it, I get notified. Given the amount of notifications since this was released, this may be her most popular one […]

May – Etiquette and Protocol

I’ve got to give a big shoutout to Tom D’Amico for finding and sharing this resource. “How to Use Your Smartphone Like a Professional”  I think copies of it, or even better, your own take on the concept should be printed and placed in all meeting room areas and classrooms that have elected to adopt […]

April – My “Perfect” Classroom

I enjoyed reading this post over the weekend.  “The Perfect Classroom, According to Science” By its standards, my old classroom was a little less than perfect.  I’m sure that those who joined me in B41 can agree.  At secondary schools, you don’t typically have your own, devoted classroom but I mostly did.  No other teacher […]

March – Twitter in the Primary Classroom

“One Best Thing is a collection of books created by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) that demonstrate the use of Apple technologies to transform teaching ​
and learning. Each One Best Thing book shares a unit, a lesson, or a best practice and is designed to help another educator implement a successful practice. It’s a professional learning idea championed […]

February – The Beauty of Fibonacci

Once is nice; twice calls for blogging about it to save it. Earlier this week, Brian Aspinall had blogged and shared a YouTube video that he had created showing how the Fibonacci Sequence works in the programming language Scratch.  I read the post (liked the reference to Computational Thinking) and enjoyed the video. If you […]

January – Disagreeing

I had conversations and a memory on a theme this week that serves to make me wonder about a particular topic – that being how to disagree socially. The comments didn’t take this form, a Saturday Night Live skit, but they might as well have. In one conversation, we discussed how valuable having conversations online […]

Phew!  That’s more copying and pasting than one person should ever have to do!

Did you stick around to the bottom of this post?  If so, thanks.  If not, I hope that you abandoned me in favour of one of the other wonderful Ontario Edubloggers.

Thanks for reading this and I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and wonderful 2016.  Please come back!


2 responses to “This year, off the record”

  1. Always a pleasure to read your insights, Doug. As I’ve mentioned before, you’ve become my channel for professional development. Thank you for continuing to share your passion with the world. All the best for 2016!


  2. […] This year, off the record | doug — off the record […]


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