This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Thank goodness it’s cool to blog.  All the traditional ways of getting cool have had limited effectiveness this week.

Thanks to Ontario Edubloggers for keeping the thinking going, even in the heat.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.


The Big Ideas in Education (Hint: Pokemon Go is not one of them)

This one line from Deborah McCallum’s blog should bring everyone back to reality.

Unless you’ve been off the grid this summer, you have to had crossed paths with this phenomenon.  There have been stories of mishaps, funny discoveries, people doing really stupid things, people going places that they shouldn’t, traffic accidents, and goodness knows what else.  There even was a full-page article in this week’s local newspaper.  And, of course, educators writing about this latest of “game changers”.

Now, I have no qualms about meeting students where they are but, unless the class is about writing the next viral application or a marketing class trying to reach unreachable markets, it’s just another application.  Nothing more.  Deborah writes a wonderful post that should bring everyone back to reality.

I’ve used the expression “geocaching for dummies” to describe what I’ve seen while walking the dog.  I’ve seen entire families out discovering, running from location to location, my dog “discovering” and there’s a great deal of good things to note but it’s a game.  I wonder how many schools will use the concept for an orientation for students.  If you think mobile phones in the classroom were a distraction before…

In the meantime, read about her five steps and step back into reality.

If you’re not prepared for reality yet, then enjoy her curated Flipboard collection of stories.


Digital Citizenship, Learning, and Student Voice

If you’re thinking about digital citizenship for the fall, then Jennifer Casa-Todd’s recent post should give you great fodder for your thinking.

There isn’t a single educator who would argue with the fact that we need to teach kids how to navigate online spaces safely and critically.  What I have noticed however is that there is an extremely huge variance in what educators think this should look like.  In my research this week I am overwhelmed by the number of different definitions of digital citizenship as well as the different components.

The concept is even more important now that ever.

I’m a people watcher in addition to dog walker and this summer seems to have really upped the ante in terms of people walking (yes, and driving) while connected.  The dog and I have dived for the ditch as cars veer towards us, been forced off paths as people search for those thingys in the park, read every angle or take on the American election to date, heard people quote “facts” as true because they “Googled” them, and so much more.  It’s actually been a summer of bizarre digital behaviour by humans.

Perhaps more than ever, common sense and reason needs to enter the picture.  I think that Jennifer has nailed it nicely when she observes that

We continue to treat Digital Citizenship as discrete units in school. 

There are still “computer lab teachers” and schools that don’t embrace the BYOD concept.  Both reinforce the notion that there is a time and place for computer use and only there.  Yet, in the real world nothing could be further from the truth.  As long as “Digital Citizenship” (whatever that means) is a discreet thing, we won’t get the results that we should.  Typically, when it’s a discreet thing, it’s based on what might go wrong.

It seems to me the notion will only be effective when it’s treated positively in every subject area where it’s appropriate.  There’s so much good that can be realized that it most certainly outshines the concept of a lesson on the negatives.

Sadly, her resources are generated by technology entities trying to inform the masses.  Why wouldn’t a mathematics or science or languages organization create lessons about the positive returns of good digital citizenship and show how to embed it in their curriculum?


Could it be “about the comments?”

My “Whatever happened to …” series last weekend inspired this post from Aviva Dunsiger.

I’m reminded of our age difference and teaching experiences.  When she started teaching, electronic report cards were just the way that the job was done.  Well, there was a time before electronics, Aviva!  Teachers today have it so easy.  <grin>

What impressed me was that the discussion took an interesting turn beyond the technology but the actual “look” of the document.

 As Mr. Mepham mentions in his comment, the look of our current report card is somewhat “sterile or uninviting.” This doesn’t mean that the content in it needs to be.

I remember reading Les’ comment and thought that report cards could resemble a legal document with the teacher being the “party of the first part” and the student “party of the second part” or some other legal connection.

In that context, it reinforces the importance of the teacher/parent interview as being more important and the report card just being the conversation starter.  I also like Aviva’s observation that the content doesn’t have to be “sterile or uninviting”.

What is your board’s policy on comment writing? Does it reinforce the sterile or is there room to do something else?


Remembering That One Child …

Another interesting post from Aviva’s blog.  “That One Child”.

I’m reminded, as I read it, that my teaching reality was considerably different from hers.  By the time a child has been through elementary school, so many interventions have been tried and documented.  In that way, we had it differently.  If there was a child of concern, we could always go to Student Services and read the OSR reports to help devise a plan.

There are some powerful messages to take away from her post.

  • never stop learning about new techniques to reach students
  • just because you haven’t found the way to reach that one child, never stop trying
  • people outside the profession have no idea.  Classrooms aren’t like in the movies
  • technology, used appropriately, may be an effective way to reach a particular student

Are All Kids Able to Choose?

If you ever have the discussion that “the Ministry doesn’t say that I have to use technology”, pull out this post from Donna Fry.

While her post specifically mentions Apple products, it isn’t a huge reach to pick your own favourite technology and plunk it in.

In the post, she does ask some really good questions that I think all teachers should ask themselves and start thinking about answers for.  I think there’s yet another one for teachers – are you prepared to try something and fail but are ready to learn from the experience going forward?

Absolutely, a document that’s 11 years old should not be taken word for word in lesson preparation.  Talk about obsoleting yourself and your classroom.  Still, it could have been written two years ago and references to specific technology would be out of date.  I will give the original authors kudos though – the language that was carefully chosen can include what we all deal with regularly.  Just don’t interpret the words so literally.


Does Teaching Math Feel Like Pulling Teeth?

So, I guess if you looked into Peter Cameron’s classroom, you’d recognize that he’s not taking the Mathematics curriculum literally.

Over the course of the following years I slowly strayed further and further from the math text to the point where I am today; the math text collects dust on shelves in the back of my room. Finding content is easy! Math is all around us and we have tools at our finger tips to bring real math to our students!  My favourite tools are a camera, SMART Notebook, iMovie, QuickTime GarageBand, Photo Booth and Explain Everything.

It makes you wonder, again, the relevance of textbooks in the year 2016.  Well, except for substitute teacher assistance.

As I look out the window as I key this, I see mathematics everywhere.  Really and truly.  Let me give a shoutout to Geometry.  You rock.

I can’t help but think that if, for an AQ or other course, students just walked around for a single day and record all the math that they see and put it into a class wiki that you’d have the best, most authentic, resource ever.


THE LEARNING SPACE – PLEASE SUGGEST TOPICS FOR CONVERSATION

A popular event over the past few years at the Bring IT, Together Conference has been the “Learning Space”.  It’s an unconference within a conference.


We are looking for topic suggestions for this year’s Learning Space. Please use this form to make recommendations:http://goo.gl/forms/db4H3AWQGAoqZNzY2  

Some topics are pre-planned; some happen on the fly.  If you want to stir the pot in advance of the conference, here’s your chance.


Take a moment, before you head out for the long weekend, to drop by these blogs for some inspiration and leave them a comment or two.  They’ll appreciate it!

Thanks again, Ontario Edubloggers.

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