This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Black Friday, folks.  How many are you reading this on your phone while waiting in the cold in line for some sort of deal?

Me neither.  When you’ve got great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers, why would you want to do anything else?

Read on to catch some of the posts that I read recently.

My Transformed Classroom

This is something that doesn’t happen often enough.  Not necessarily the “transforming” part but taking a picture, sharing it, and reflecting on the success and use of whatever you’ve put together.  It’s definitely much easier if you’re the only teacher using the room but it can be done.  Someone should start a challenge to have teachers reflect on classroom design by showing what they’re doing.  You just need something to record video and then upload it to YouTube.  You could even call it a Classroom Design Challenge. I know that Faculties of Education could use that so well.  And, it’s something that any teacher can use to make their own environment better.

Thanks to Peter Cameron for showing off his digs.  It looks really rich.

How does your room stack up to this?

Coding in 2004 – Looking back to move forward…

I love this reflection from Brenda Sherry about her first steps into coding dating way, way back.  Of course, it didn’t go back, back, back as far as Peter McAsh was kind enough to mention on Twitter to the days when he and I were teaching programming as first year teachers.  It’s interesting to reflect on the evolving use of the tools that we have to work with students.  Brenda offers some advice…

My biggest advice to teachers, in this time where many voices are telling us that we must have coding put into the elementary curriculum, would be to take the freedom you are given with our Ontario curriculum and innovate your own examples to go along with overall expectations!  I’m so glad that I didn’t wait and many other teachers like the ones at Quest and ECOO (BIT) are not waiting either.  Don’t wait….Innovate!

It’s good advice.

I’ll tag on some more advice.  Don’t wait until the next conference to hear classroom success stories or some speaker who is trying to get rich by doing the circuit repeating the same old story.  Coding or programming doesn’t require huge amounts of learning and expensive tools or the advice of someone who claims to be an expert.  It just requires inquiry.  There are plenty of interesting starting points; we’re coming up to the 2016 Hour of Code and you’re about to be swamped with resources.  Pick one, give it a try, turn the controls over the students and just be prepared to ask questions “What would happen if you did this?” or “Can you make it do that?” and step back.  You know the curriculum you need to cover; students have the inspiration.  What more is needed?

Thoughts prompted by Andreas Schleicher’s (OECD) Keynote

When you can’t go to a conference, there are a couple of good ways to get the message in other ways.  Sometimes content is live streamed, sometimes presenters share their slide decks, sometimes people write blog posts to share their thoughts.

That’s what Heidi Siwak did for this keynote address.

She shared a question that she asked…

I asked one question grounded in conversations I have had with numerous educators.  We know change is needed, however current timetables and school structures allow only token changes.   I wanted to know what interesting timetables he had seen in his travels.

I found the comment of “siloed subjects” an interesting observation.

It begs the question “If we have to have XX number of minutes a day in Mathematics or English or Physical Education” as proclaimed from the mount, are we doing it wrong?

STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning

Best. Idea. Ever.  I used something like this years ago when I taught Computer Science.  I would share job offerings or descriptions with students to answer the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

Deborah McCallum brings the concept to a wider audience.  i.e. everyone.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Here’s an excerpt from a job posting where she’s highlighted the sorts of skills that would make a candidate successful for the job.  (Read her post for the complete context)

Why wouldn’t you have a bulletin board highlighting jobs that require specific skills?

Why wouldn’t curriculum planning teams use this as a resource when buying or creating resources?

It’s an idea that you can use immediately.

Overcoming “Test Mystique”- My Principles For Mathematics Assessment

Part of the frustration of students and educators in Mathematics is the mindset that there’s only one right answer.  Textbooks reinforce the notion with the answer key.

This may be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when searching for success in the Mathematics classroom.  Matthew Oldridge takes on the topics and offers six things that can help overcome the concept of “Test Mystique”.  It’s all good stuff.

Now, if he could only rework the concept of the standardized test…

5 Ways to Use Explain Everything in Math

There are a lot of people who really see the value in the “Explain Everything” application.  You really get a sense of its power when you see it in action and it can inspire some great ideas.  That’s the concept behind this post from Lindsay Leonard.

What a great example of using the application to solve a real problem with a strong student voice!

Doesn’t that just inspire you to give it a shot?

What’s nice about this concept is that it doesn’t have to be the next big three hour epic.  In a minute and a half, this student did a wonderful job of explaining.

I know that I say it every week at the end of these posts but what wonderful thinking and ideas shared by Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find time to click through and enjoy all the original posts.  There’s some really wonderful things to enjoy.

Make sure I know about your blog.  Fill out the form at the site above to get added.  And, if you’ve got a great post that should be featured here, don’t hesitate to let me know.

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