Free images done right

I’m always keeping an eye out for sources for images and photographs suitable for the classroom.  “Photos for Class” is something that foots the bill and handles things in a very unique and appropriate manner.

Off I went to check it out and did my standard search for “House”.

I got a nice selection of interesting photos.

You’ll read about the details and the goals of the project on the front page.  The results come from Flickr, are licensed under Creative Commons for public use and are school appropriate.  

Looking good.

I did what any student would; I selected the first image that came back.  A nice house and the Download link put it on my computer.  

The result?

It’s a nice, full sized image that could be used or adjusted as needed.

But look at the bottom of the image.

Photos for Class does the work of providing the reference and attribution by attaching it to the image.  For many uses, this is just perfect.

I’m still a big fan of students creating their own images but it’s not always possible or necessary.

Also, there will be a time and a place where you want to formally discuss attribution and licensing.  But, if having it done for you automatically suits your needs, check out this resource.

OTR Links 01/31/2017

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

Post from the recent past – Your country – in languages

In light of the recent events over the past weekend, I know that there will be pressure to address culture and immigration in the classroom.  

To assist, I’m reposting something that appeared here a couple of weeks ago.  It was my look at the Localingual resources.  It may be helpful in celebrating cultural differences.

You may find the following resources helpful as well.

Localingual is another terrific way to explore the world.

And contribute back, if you are so inclined.

Visit the site  and you’re presented with a nicely coloured world map.

So, pick a country – any country. In my case, I chose Denmark.

Then, check out the sidebar to the right.

Look at the variety of languages.  Click on either the female or male icon to here the name of the country spoken in that language.

But there’s more.

Beside some of the languages, you’ll find what I would call a conversation cloud.  Click it to open a new panel showing various phrases or more.  Each of these are playable as well.

I’ll bet that you give your mouse and speakers a good work out.

What an interesting and engaging way to explore the world!

The whole project is incredibly well done.  Sure, we’ve all seen maps online but this takes it even further – what more can we do with maps?


OTR Links 01/30/2017

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

Whatever happened to …

… Netscape?

From the Padlet.

The actual rich history of Netscape, and its browser, can be found in the Wikipedia article.  There’s really no purpose for me to rehash the actual history of the browser here when something more formal exists.  It does have an interesting history including its impact on the use of the web and related technologies.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the impact that Netscape had on me.

When the web was young, I poked around with some of the earliest browsers – Mosaic, Lynx, Internet Explorer, … under Windows.  In our reality, there was no other operating system for computers.  Even though my internet connection was statistically slow by today’s standards, it was fast and almost magical to me.  With a few keystrokes, you could be at any of the few internet websites and were immediately smarter with content.  For the most part, everything was text based and advertisement free.  It was all about the reading; interactivity was just a dream.  It was very different than what we experience today.  My go-to browser was Lynx.

If you really wanted photographs, you had to download them and view them offline in a different program.  The very best of content creators used ASCII art – enjoyable from this collection site.  It’s worth a visit and poke around for a couple of reasons – first, it confirms how far we’ve come and, secondly, if there is any doubt that there are creative people, it comes through with what’s possible given the restriction of ASCII characters.

I was drawn to Netscape for a couple of reasons.  After the amalgamation of school boards, I had to get serious about also using a Macintosh computer which meant finding software for both platforms.  It was a real bonus when you’d find something that was cross-platform and Netscape fit the bill.  The other driving force was a desire from our Director of Education to have a website for the board.  Well, there was a whole new skill set that I had to learn.  Netscape was perfect since it wasn’t just a browser; it was also a web editing program.  Not only that, you could do your email right in the browser rather than a separate program.  What a wonderful experience!

The web was young and developing.  From my perspective, this new web that included images had two players – Netscape and Internet Explorer – the first Browser war.  The odd part was that they had differing standards.  It became very common to see pages labelled with “Best Viewed by XXX” where XXX was a browser.  It actually became necessary to have more than one browser on hand to get the complete browsing experience!  For nostalgia purposes, this Google search gives a nice collection.

Once the board had a website, schools and individual teachers wanted to have their own online identify and, as the prod above says, many of us went about the work of teaching folks how to develop a webpage and then how to upload it to the server.  This was well before the Ministry of Education licensing of Dreamweaver and easy to use systems like FirstClass or WordPress for an identity.

We also ran an interesting project for schools that was labelled “Women in Technology”.  It was the genius of a group of women working at IBM where they would visit a school and work with middle school girls and develop a website.  We weren’t near a city with a big IBM presence so we invited women from the community to work with the girls.  The takeaways were many – just talking to mentors about what they did for a living, developing a website without the boys there trying to take over, and then doing a presentation to the group afterwards to show off their learning.  I would be there to help with the setup but when the event happened, the boys were off to do other things without their female classmates.  I still remember a comment from one young man “This is racist“.  It was a teachable moment to explain what it was and what it wasn’t.

For the purposes of the day, the web tool in Netscape was excellent.  It had a low learning threshold and the results were pretty impressive.  In some cases, the groups went on to develop their own class website and helped out with the school website.  The real message was to not close any doors to the future and consider everything.

If you read the Wikipedia article, you can see that there were a number of takeovers of Netscape and it did become just a fond memory for some users while other browsers rose in popularity.  Today, the Netscape brand is an information portal available here.  A download link will let you have your own copy but it’s not wise.  The web has developed so many standards and, quite frankly, requires a modern browser with all kinds of security built in to it to make sure that you’re safe when online.

These days, we reap the benefits of the early browser wars while the new wars rage on.  Today, I use Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge depending upon the mood and what computer is at hand.  As with Netcape’s beginnings, today’s browser is more than just a browser.  They can do so much more and, with the power of extensions, even more. We all benefit from innovation.  Could you imagine working with just a text browser now?

So, it’s over to you this Sunday morning.

  • Did you ever use Netscape for browsing or as a web editor?
  • What is your choice of browser today?
  • Do you have a web presence?  Do you start from scratch, program your own, or use some form of a content management system?

Please share your thoughts via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts.  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your ideas.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 01/29/2017

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

Beyond Blogging – A New Tab

This past week was fun pulling together some examples how Ontario Educators have gone beyond the blog.  It was so interesting to explore the efforts of:

  • Rolland Chidiac
  • Alice Aspinall
  • Peter McAsh
  • Aviva Dunsiger

I then decided that I wanted to make sure that their efforts didn’t just fade into blog scrolling history.

So, I added a new tab to my collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

Four links hardly make a collection so I’ve added to the list.

I just know that this is the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re an Ontario Educator creating media that’s publically available, is a series, and taps into Ontario education like these do, please complete the form here and I’ll happily add you to the collection.

OTR Links 01/28/2017

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to another Friday.  It’s time for me to share some of the wonderful reading from the fingertips of Ontario Edubloggers.  Read on and click through to read some exceptional blog posts.


There may well be more information about sickness and being sick in this post from Debbie Donsky than you would ever want to read in one place.  I waffled between smiling and getting worried about myself.  I’m certainly glad that I took the time to get the flu shot.  Now, if I could only shake this persistent cold and cough.

My worries are grounded in my insecurities about my worthiness, ability, strength and body. I have heard that if we don’t listen to what our body needs, our body screams back at us. Hopefully this time I heard it.

She shares her thoughts about sickness and a support network that’s in place.  It’s wonderful that that network exists and I hope that things work out for her.  Do you have such a network?

Stop the Insanity – Redefining Success For Exceptional Learners

An embedded thought that runs through this post from Laurie Azzi is that of “YET”.  For everyone, there is that moment when “YET” is met.

Albert Einstein spoke to this reality when he said, “ Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

There is no YET for that fish and for some students, there will be no YET unless we redefine what success means in the education system.  We need to redefine what it means to be a reader and writer in this digital age.

Laurie speaks to the need to understand what “YET” means for every student.  As long as a standard is defined that applies equally to all students, there will be those that never reach it.  This post, including the story from Helen Keller and a powerful moment of insight, will get you thinking and hopefully gain an insight as to just what success might mean.

Developing Thoughts on Multilingualism

Jennifer Aston concludes this post with this thought.

We are not a “melting pot”.  We have the right to practice different religions, celebrate different cultures and speak different languages in Canada.  And if I can borrow the idea from a colleague from a few years back, we’re more like a salad.  We can retain our identities.  While French and English are important, we also need to recognize that we are more than this.  So how can we reflect this better in our school system?

Given what’s happening in the world at this time, it’s a very profound message that should make all pause and feel good about being a Canadian educator.  But, are we doing enough?  So many efforts have gone into promoting bilingualism.  Do we stop there?  Thoughts from the post dig into Danish, Oneida, and Arabic.  What is the cultural price to be paid when a school system chooses to overlook?

You’ll leave this post thinking.

The inauguration in my school library learning commons

Why indeed would an Ontario school choose to broadcast the inauguration of a United States president?

Alanna King addresses the “why” from a literacy perspective.

Living on the other side of the U.S. border has its challenges for a small town teacher-librarian.  While we dance around the idea of Canadian identity and what that means when our culture is represented, Canadian publishers in all media forms are still driven by American markets and American values.  So populating a library with well-loved material of  CanCon isn’t always what pleases the staff and students because we’ve been  gorging ourselves on the fire hose of American content.  But the direction of Trump’s politics is certainly affecting my library just 150 km from our border.  It is our mandate to give equal weight to the voices in my school respectfully, responsibly and compassionately.

Alanna concludes by confirming to us that she made the right choice.  The questions of inquiry from the students are very important.  If they follow through looking for answers, it may be the most important civics lesson that they learn this year.

There’s a big renewed interest in George Orwell’s 1984.  I wonder how many copies are in Alanna’s library.

Want to read it online?  Check it out here.

Doing It For The Likes

The opening question from Matthew Morris is something that all teachers who deal with technology in the classroom must come to grips with.  Whether it’s school computers or that little invasive device in their pockets, there will be times when you don’t have their undivided attention to the current classroom task.

What do you do when you teach a classroom of students who are more concerned with the number of likes they get on a selfie than the number of percentage points they earn on a math test?

If there ever was an insight into the rationale that we need to blow up what schools have traditionally done, it comes through loudly and clearly in his post.  Sure, we give lip service to embracing technology but how effective can it be if only done every now and again, a school district chooses a set of tools that were designed for a generation ago, contemporary tools are blocked from entering the building, …

I’m not sure that we’re looking for students to “like” a lesson delivered via an LMS (although the concept is intriguing), there’s a strong message here that all need to read and relate to their own reality.

Do we need to offer more of this?

Beyond Shapes

This was a new blog for me to read this week.  It deals with mathematics and coding and this article is written by a teacher candidate at Western University.  There’s a very comprehensive report on the experience of teacher candidates working with teachers in Thames Valley to investigate coding in their classroom. It sounds like an awesome experience for all.

The post concludes with this…

While creating shapes in Scratch works as a tremendous introduction to coding, the potential in Scratch extends much further than simply movements and drawings.  It’s easy to be tricked by its simple, colourful, block based user interface, but the fact of the matter is that Scratch is a powerful tool with endless possibilities.

I think this nails the experience for so many.  It’s easy to hop on the “Hour of Code” bandwagon or have an expert come in to work with teachers and/or students for an hour or two to check off the box that says “We did coding”.  How many times do you see a Twitter message or a superintendent let everyone know that “we support coding”?

If it’s going to make a substantial difference and have an impact in the classroom, more digging is required.  Is your system just doing it for the moment?  The real impact will only come when a committed effort is made to ensure that there is ongoing and persistent professional learning opportunities for all.  Every school district has a Computer Consultant and/or teacher coaches devoted to technology or mathematics or literacy.  What have they provided for you lately?

#1 Trick for Beating Procrastination

Have you noticed how your most insightful and creative ideas that have nothing to do with your work only come to you when you are on a deadline? For example, in the middle of you working on your project, suddenly it dawns on you that you need to wash all the dishes in the sink or else you can’t work on your project.  Or you glance at your home office and notice it’s too messy and it needs a vacuum right away.

I thought I was the only one that this happens to!  It happens to me all the time.  I thought it was just me being easily distracted.

Now, I can add Shadi Yazdan to the group.  How about you?

I like the trick that is described in the post.  It may well be worth a shot.

In the time that it took to write this, I think I have about four or five ideas that need addressing….


Yet another wonderful week of reading and inspiration from Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take a few moments to click through and read the original posts.  There’s a lot of good thinking there.

OTR Links 01/27/2017

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