Boring? I’ll take it

On Thursday, the latest release of Ubuntu was made available for installation.  I was excited – I always like upgrades and the new features that come along – and was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get the announcement that it was available for me when I loaded the Software Updater.  So, I was going to force the upgrade after looking for and finding this article.  In the meantime, I did look to see just what a Xerus was, as in Xenial Xerus.  (I also had to look up Xenial)

How to Upgrade from Ubuntu 15.10 to Ubuntu 16.04 on Desktop and Server Editions

But doing so would have to wait until after breakfast.  When I returned to my computer, there was indeed an announcement that I could upgrade on the spot.  Thank you Waterloo CS server.


You bet!  I clicked the “Go ahead” button and figured to spend the day watching the download crawl with the really slow internet access that I have here.  Off the dog and I went for our morning walk.  I was pleasantly surprised that the download was complete when we came back.  It was actually raining a bit so we didn’t do our full walk.

Off the installation went; I was doing other things and there were a couple of prompts to answer including a prompt to change grub but the old one worked nicely as a switcher from Ubuntu to Windows 10 so I left it along.  After the installation, a reboot and I was good to go.  I’d been reading about the upgrade features all along.

What’s New in Ubuntu 16.04

Since 16.04 is an LTS release (long term support), the wisdom was that it would be pretty conservative in features.  To be honest, there really wasn’t much to be excited about as an end user.  Some people were excited about the ability to move the Launcher on the screen.  I figured that if I wanted a Mac look, I’d just use a Mac.  I like my screen to display as much information from top to bottom as it can so having it on the side of the screen and hiding continues to work fine for me.

For the most part, I think it’s just business as usual – quick to load – quick to run – and it doesn’t kick the system fan into overdrive like Windows 10 does.  

There was a time where I’d do my best to break the system but I was happy with things before the upgrade and was happy afterwards.  This article put it into perspective.

Has Ubuntu become a boring distribution?

I don’t know.  Maybe it has.  But, if boring means a quick, responsive, and secure system, I’ll take it any day.

And yet, the geeky in me will probably tweak things here and there.   I have Unity Tweak and the Tweak Tool installed for that.  Also bookmarked are a couple of great looking articles.

Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 16.04

16 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

That should keep me busy tweaking and testing this weekend.

OTR Links 04/23/2016

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to the end of the week/start of the weekend.  I hope that it’s been a good one for you.  In case you missed them, here’s a nice selection of offerings from the keyboards of Ontario Edubloggers.  Enjoy them.  I know that I did.

#MyWorkflow: Brian Harrison

The Wordflow series from Royan Lee continues with the latest interview with principal Brian Harrison.

I find it fascinating to see inside the minds and work habits of people I regularly follow on Twitter.   Brian is no different.  I had to smile at his answer to this question.

I’ve been in his backyard and can really understand why he likes working there!  Click through and read his answers to Royan’s questions.

This Year’s Model

So, let’s check out Brian’s latest post.

No self-respecting principal in the province should be going without thinking about the announcement from the Ministry of Education about the $60M to support mathematics education and how it might impact their school.  There’s been so much written about it recently illustrating that the public and education are all over the map philosophically.  I know that there’s an element that would like to spend the money to support old school teaching.  That would buy a great deal of thumbscrews.  Brian offers a more considered approach and, as you see below, offers up some examples of people doing the job right now.

Any takers?  I wonder…

How Will I Use My Wild and Precious Life?

I think everyone would be wise to stop what you’re doing and read this post from Sue Dunlop and then just reflect on yourself and your own life.

You may come out of the session with a slightly different focus on things about what truly is important.  In life, and in education in particular, there are so many distractions – including infringement on your time and efforts – that it might just be time to sit back and refocus.

Thinking About the Term Reflective Practitioner

Eva Thompson does a great job with that sort of thinking, not in her personal life, but in her professional life.

I like her thinking and I think that there’s a great deal of philosophy that is consistent with mine when it comes to going online with blogging.

Throughout my career, I was always posting my current thoughts.  The format has changed from the annotations at the bottom of lesson plans, to sharing with CIESCs in a FirstClass conference, to online forums, to Twitter, to this blog…

I didn’t use to be this way.  I used to keep things bottled up, confident in the knowledge that I could recall it at a moment’s notice.  It was all about me.  I think we all know how that approach works.  For me, once I realized that didn’t work, writing things has always been a release.  I can put my thoughts to words – in whatever format – and then stop worrying about remembering it.  Now, I know that I can always go back and find it.

I’ve been doing this for most of my career, but revisiting what it’s like to be a student, maybe I had that extra patience for the push back? Maybe I had more encouraging words for that reluctant student? When I’m too distracted making sure I get all MY “t’s crossed and i’s dotted” I may overlook the fact that I’m also a teacher, not just a technology consuming droid.

I think she’s got her priorities in order.

Now’s the time to be a heroin addict

On the heels of Eva’s thoughts, turn to Debbie Donsky’s latest.  What a great reminder through her story to get all of our priorities in order.

Celebrate what you have built. Celebrate your legacy of love and success and courage and resilience. Celebrate all that you are and all the people who you have affected.

3. A Kids’ Guide to Canada – DETAILS

I love it when people think out loud.  @beachcat11 (she keeps her real name out of media so I will respect that) lays out her thinking for an ideal project for students.  This is part 3 of a 3 part series – you can read a “part 4” too!  It also wouldn’t hurt if you go back and read parts 1 and 2.

To honour student voice, an initial pilot project in the fall of 2016 will see elementary students from every elementary grade and every part of Canada participating in each step of the project design and field-testing process.

Then, beginning in January 2017, school-aged children from JK-Gr 8 will create digital artifacts to celebrate and introduce their home communities to their peers right across the country, and then post these on a national interactive map.

The link above points to the third part which lays out a timeline, activities and contact information.

MDM4U Creating dice game simulations

Who says that Mathematics can’t be fun?  This link is to Brandon Grasley’s MDM class but I caught it and spent some time doing the activity myself.  It was a hoot.  I’ve never taught this class but did similar problems with my Computer Science classes.

It was fun just to muck about with a Google Spreadsheet and also in Small Basic.

But, kids today have it so easy.  Whatever happened to int(rnd(1)*6)+1?

Are Your Students Problem Solvers and Innovators?

This just in…

I’m assembling this post on Thursday morning and Aviva Dunsiger sends a link to her latest blog post.

In-house professional learning happened for her at her school.

As with many of Aviva’s posts, there are questions as well as answers.

She concludes with a great thought that I think all educational leaders need to be concerned with the next time the latest and greatest initiative comes along.

If developing these skills matter, then we likely need to “let something go.” What might you let go? What might you add? What benefits do you see this having for kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So often, this is overlooked and more, “better” ideas are thrust upon teachers.  In football, it’s called “piling on” and there is a substantial penalty for doing it.

There are lots of calls to action in this post.  Do some thinking, some Mathematics, and be proud to be a Canadian.

Oh, and reply to all of these posts.  They are reply-worthy.

And, when you reply to Aviva, ask her a question!

OTR Links 04/22/2016

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

Is that a big number?

Let me see here.

According to my step counter, yesterday I had 14,157 steps.  According to my data driven dog, he had 28,314.  -ish.

This translates into 8.1 km.

While the numbers tell the same story of how I spent part of my day, one is certainly bigger than the other.  It’s interesting to look at it from two different lenses.  A third number is that it took 1 hr 57 minutes or 117 minutes.  It could have been quicker had we not made so many stops along the way.

Three sets of numbers.  Are they big?

The website Is That A Big Number helps put it into perspective.  I love this philosophical descriptor.

An optimist will tell you the glass is half-full; the pessimist, half-empty; and the engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be

Actually, the page is worth reloading just to see the random “numbers” quote generated each time.

If you like numbers, check out the blog entries and the related stories when you visit the site but absolutely “run your number” to see how big it is.  14,157 steps?  Let’s see.

With the results…

This utility will easily make you the queen/king of numeric trivia.  No question about it.  

Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  (Except to press the Publish Post button)

And of course, all the geeky goodness comes to the answer to this question.

OTR Links 04/21/2016

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

Interactive Word Walls

Kudos to Joe Sisco for sharing this resource from the Tools2Go Windsor Essex Catholic DSB wiki.

If you know how to use Google Drawings (Extension) or web. you’ll dive in immediately after poking around in this shared Google Drive folder.  If you don’t, it’s only a very short learning curve before you’re up to speed.

As soon as you start to poke around, you realize that there’s a little something there for everyone.  It’s not labelled “READ ME FIRST”, but it probably should have been.  Open “How to Use Folder” and take a look through to see how to use things and some helpful suggestions.  The most important first steps is to make a copy of the resource in your own Google Drive.  The originals are Read Only and you’ll want to make changes for sure.

Or, perhaps even create your own.

Here’s a screen capture of a document in the Mathematics folder titled Number Systems.  What you don’t see in this capture are some suggestions and ideas for how to use and modify the various documents.

And, most certainly, the interesting part of any readme document is the inclusion of the word “Posterize”.

The whole resource is a nice starter package for just about any classroom.  Of course, once you get the knack of things…

A good resource like this gets great when the community gets involved and starts to share.  You can see the focus on Mathematics and Science now but the project is just begging for other subject areas and French versions.  How about in the school Resource Centre?  Faculty of Education?

The open-endedness of something like this is quite obvious.  It doesn’t all have to be teacher generated in your class.  I can think of all kinds of formative and summative ways to get students involved.

Take a look around and see if there isn’t a fit for your classroom.