Oscars literacy

For educators that address media literacy in the classroom, Super Bowl advertisements are the Super Bowl of resources.

But the Oscars Awards on Sunday night opened a whole new realm of possibilities.

Sure, everyone was talking about the misannouncement at the end of the show or the routines that Jimmy Kimmel’s had throughout the show.  Or the political message from Asghar Farhadi who did not attend the awards.

If you didn’t have snacks falling from the ceiling of the room that you were in, you might have left the room to grab your own.  In that case, you may have missed some of the commercials that were played.  They were full of opportunities for analysis on content and message just like you would expect from the traditional Super Bowl advertisements.

Thanks to YouTube, we have them easily available for use and analysis.

Carry: Cadillac 2017 Oscars Commercial

Audible Oscars Commercial: Zachary Quinto – “1984”

What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like A Celebrity – GE

For A World of Understanding | World of Hyatt

TV Commercial | The Truth Is Hard | The New York Times

A huge collection of YouTube videos showing many segments from the show are available here.

OTR Links 02/28/2017

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

Signal strength

Just a warning that this might be something that:

  • you may already know
  • you don’t care
  • it goes beyond “it just works” and makes quantitative interesting (at least to me)

First of all, I’d like to point out that I didn’t start out looking to learn/relearn this.

I actually stumbled into it reading a story for some other information.  The story was “Review: eero Wi-Fi is a solid option for Apple’s outgoing AirPort“.  Darn.  I like my currently working AirPort.  Oh well, time and technology move on…

The story was interesting and might have had more relevance if I lived in a mansion and wanted to have wireless extended everywhere.  As I type this, I’m sitting right under my AirPort and if I opened the curtains here and in the rec room, I could see my other chair where I do what passes for remote computing these days.

Anyway, the article itself was interesting and, when I win the lottery, it might have a practical purpose for me.

What was interesting and sparked my learning (or relearning in this case) was the section that talks about the strength of the signal.

There was a time when that was important and I knew all that.  Sadly, I had forgotten.

But I was curious enough to continue.

These days, I’m lazy enough not to dig into that.  Like most people, I suspect, I use the little WIFI indicator to show signal strength as a divining rod.  The more little bars, the stronger the signal.  It gets me through the day and as long as there is a bar or two, I can connect and Play Words with Friends and write the occasional blog post.  Life is good.

Now I’m curious though – how good?

I go to take a look at what networks are available to me.  There’s the three that I’m broadcasting from my AirPort – two at 2.4GHz and 1 at 5GHz.  Why?  On a regular day, there are only two of us connected.  So, the answer is “because I can”.

I can also see the two networks that my one neighbour is broadcasting in his house.  They’re weak and they’re protected anyway.  The neighbour on the other side doesn’t have internet access so there’s nothing visible.  Depending upon the day, I can see the network from two houses over.  It’s really weak and protected.  We’re all good on this street; no unprotected wireless.

So, I come back to my own.  Where on the quality scale shown above am I?

I should be really good.  This computer is less than a metre from the AirPort.  I open a terminal and check.

I probably didn’t need to black out the AirPort details – if you come over, just ask for the password and I’ll give it to you.

The confirming key to me though is the signal strength.  In the scale above, that is “high quality”.  Life is indeed good.

If I get ambitious, I might just walk about and see what happens to the signal strength in various locations.

If I get really ambitious, I may dig into the other statistics to see what they are telling me.

As you would suspect, there are all kinds of browser extensions that let you investigate as well.  Utilities like WIFI Analyzer are very interesting.

I’m thinking that this would be a good learning experience for students. Perhaps it would help them with better placement of their access point at home.  In the original article, the author mapped out the various locations within his house.  Wouldn’t it be a neat exercise to have students map out the entire school?  Are there any dead spots that need to be reported to the support department for addressing?

In case of practicality, I know that there have been venues where I question the signal strength or I see more than one access point broadcasting under the same name.  This bit of information should give me a little more information to make an informed decision.

Unless I forget it again.

More related reading:

OTR Links 02/27/2017

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

Whatever happened to …

… acid rain?

Thanks to an anonymous contribution to the Padlet for this idea.

I had to have a quick smile when I read this.  Acid rain a concern in the 90s?

As a high school student of the 70s, it was of high concern then as well.  I can recall the concern for lakes in Northern parts of Ontario (and Canada).  We heard of the term “dead lakes” and “dead rivers” caused by acid rain.  It was a time to point blame at anything that put byproducts into the atmosphere.  I can recall concerns about Lake Huron (a short distance from home) and the paint job on your car being affected.

In school, it was lessons that put pH into perspective for me.  Before that, I worked at the local public swimming pool and testing the water was a regular task that we did and recorded at least three times a day.  Even more when there was a great deal of sunlight and warm temperature.  We measured for both chlorine content and the pH of the water.  It wasn’t only until later when I took the Royal Life Saving Society’s Award of Merit and Distinction courses, that I really understood the total implications of pH in pool water.  In the early days, we just attributed it to the little kids who were swimmers.  (if you know what I mean)

You could see the effect of pH when people would leave the water.  From our perspective, we tried to keep the pH somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6.  It was a practical way to understand the difference between acidity and alkalinity.  

Thankfully, we learned so much about acid rain in secondary school science and, in particular, chemistry.  It was amazing what we could do with experiments and just a drop of this or a drop of that.  We had living things to experiment with (plants) and studied the varying affects of pH on them.

While we learned a bit about the concepts, society bit the bigger bullet.  I think back at those days and remember:

  • we filled our cars with leaded gasoline that was largely free of taxes – $2 would fill up my pickup truck
  • I know it was an older truck – 1959 Chevrolet – but fuel mileage was never a concern
  • outside of town, we had the garbage dump which burned the garbage after garbage collection
  • I can remember a comedian talking about catalytic whatchamacallits 
  • recycling wasn’t even a thing
  • generating electricity was important with the building of businesses and coal burning facilities was part of the solution
  • acid rain provoked further discussion about pollutants everywhere – how can we save the earth from ourselves?
  • schools modified their curriculum to include all kinds of topics dealing with the environment
  • we really became concerned about the quality of the air that we were breathing – respiratory issues became big news
  • as the anonymous poster notes, we now concern ourselves with global warning
  • David Suzuki and others became a voice of authority on various environmental topics
  • we identified and honour a Greenbelt around the GTA
  • carpooling has become a popular activity
  • we seek alternative and renewable forms of energy like solar and wind power
  • and the list goes on and on

So, to answer the original question; I hope that our concerns are still there but have morphed into the bigger environmental picture.  It most certainly can’t be summarized in a single blog post.  The topic has become big the in the news with the promise of the newly elected US president to deregulate things.  Will the environment suffer?

How about you and your thoughts about acid rain?

  • as the originator of the idea noted, is it now just history as we focus on Global Warning?
  • when did you first become aware of the concern?
  • does your school have an environmental program like Eco-Schools?
  • do you carpool?

As always, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Please comment below.

As with this anonymous post, if there’s a topic that you’d like to jog my memory about, please consider adding to the Padlet.

Additional Reading Resources:

OTR Links 02/26/2017

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

Who matters to you?

Angela Maiers’ and my paths have crossed a number of times over the years.

I can recall the two of us being invited as media at the Microsoft Partners in Learning event in Washington.  We sat in the front row and I learned just as much from my conversation with her as anything else from event.

I’ve been in the audience to hear her presentation.

At the Western RCAC, we invited Angela to keynote the event with us.  We shared ketchup potato chips (she didn’t like them) and a fierce London winter storm with her.

Throughout, she’s been consistent with her message “You Matter“.

Unlike many keynote speakers, whose message is essentially “I’m smarter than you are and here’s why…”, Angela encourages all to look at your inner genius.

Now, there’s a way to share that message with others who matter to you.  How about sending them a Mattergram?

You can access it from the Choose2Matter website or directly through the Mattergram site.

For my Ontario Educational blogging friends …you matter.

OTR Links 02/25/2017

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another week and another opportunity for me to gather some terrific thoughts from the keyboards of Ontario Edubloggers.  Please read on and catch some of what I found and enjoyed.

A Simple and Powerful Leadership Truth

Sue Dunlop uses a Twitter message to a hashtag as the launchpad for sharing her thoughts about context here.

Greatest learning this year: never take context for granted. Always check in and explain.

Particularly with issues in education with its huge diverse perspectives, things do have to be taken in context.  I found that myself this past week with a story from the local newspaper dealing with EQAO results.  Of course, the official line is that the tests provide a snapshot in time and should never be used to compare schools.  But that doesn’t make a headline.  Identifying who’s best and who’s worst makes a story that’s lure-worthy.  As a consultant who visited every school in the district a few times every year, I know that there’s much more to the story behind each school other than just a number.

Where do you access this data?  From a website called compareschoolrankings, of course.  You can then see who scores a perfect 10 and who didn’t.  How?  There’s no explanation.  Perhaps even a sample test would educate us.

Who uses this stuff?  Well, Real Estate agents, to name a category.  The site even goes so far as to plot school stores on Ontario with a Bing map.  You can see the results and it should generate questions.  Like why do we have one school south of Michigan, near the Ohio and Indiana border?


That’s not a 10.


The impact on the travel ban to the United States hit close to the Ontario educational blogging community.  Rusul Alrubail shows us how personal it got for her.

The Educon conference happened in Philly the same weekend the Muslim ban happened.  I was supposed to present there ironically on racial violence, policing and student agency.

The net result was that she elected not to attend.  The post shares her thoughts and reasons why and her thoughts about why the topic wasn’t discussed at the event, even in her absence.

When it is time to drop your lesson and talk about world events….

Earlier this month, Zoe Branigan-Pipe had authored this post.  The answer will vary from teacher to teacher but should always be “yes” when questions arise from students.

Zoe writes a fairly long post inspired by the Women’s March in Washington.  Given the amount of news coverage, it was a natural that students would want to discuss.

Further than the topic and the rationale, Zoe digs into the curriculum reasons why you would want to do this.  It’s a good read and easily applies to any world event that comes along and has students asking questions.

Learning about Canada’s Truth

On another topic of the day, Heidi Solway offers an approach to teaching about Canada’s past.  I like the comparison to comic books that the traditional approach has taken.  I can completely understand it.  That’s how I learned.  You too, I’ll bet.

But is that the truth?

Not only that, as teachers, we would never talk about when the unthinkable happened. My goodness, I didn’t learn about the “truth” until Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology. I was shocked and disgusted by the news.  How would I roll this out to my own students?

The post digs into how the teaching and learning has changed in her class.  She gives a summary of the research assignments that her students took, complete with links to the final product.

Let’s Go Phishing!

I got a request from Peter Beens to update my Livebinder of Ontario Edubloggers with his new address.  He’s pulled all of his content together in one spot.

I was glad to do this; nobody hates dead links more than I do.  While I was there, I checked into this post – a comparison about how he uses Gmail and Hotmail.  One of the major reasons was the way that the different email servers handle phishing attempts.

I had to smile when I took a look at one of the screen captures that he shared.  It was from a “bank” that had warned him about problems with his account and that it had been frozen.  I think I got the exact same message!  Similar messages are caught here regularly.

But, sometimes, your spam/phish filter can be a little aggressive so you do need to check it periodically.  Just this morning, a long comment to a post on this blog got flagged and sent to never-never land.

It’s a good post from Peter and certainly should be part of any discussion about digital safety.

New Approaches: #DiveIntoInquiry

Much has been written and shared about inquiry.  Colleen Rose shares how she approached the concept in her Art’s classroom.  It was an activity designed to give students a voice.

How she did it was interesting to me.

She took the students into the Ontario Curriculum and had the students read the expectations and create a document indicating their interpretation of what the expectation means.

It’s an interesting approach and she shares some of the student thoughts.  There are interesting interpretations.

Perhaps this could be done in more courses.


No, not that wall.

A digital wall to your ideas

Donna Fry asks that question and gives a couple of suggestions as to why you might want a digital wall around your thinking.

Even better though, she shares some links to others who have thought about Open Practice.

I’ve written recently on my own thoughts about being in the open.  In a world where ideas grow exponentially, I would suggest that hiding behind a wall makes you less relevant.

Some great reading, don’t you agree?

Why don’t you drop by, read their complete thoughts, and keep the conversation going?

Also, join in on Wednesdays at 9:15am to hear a conversation with Stephen Hurley on Voiced about This Week in Ontario Edublogs.

OTR Links 02/24/2017

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