This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Good morning, everyone.  Or, good whatever depending upon when you access this post.  I’m delighted to share with you some of the inspirational thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve encountered recently.

My Last 10

I’m not sure what number it takes to create a meme but the people I know about bit on a challenge that I put in my post.  It was based upon a challenge from Alec Couros.  I wrote a blog post and challenged others to find and analyse their last 10 social media entries.

If you were summed up by your last 10 tweets or FB posts, what would that look like?

  • My Last 10 – Peter Beens was the first person to respond.  I wasn’t surprised that I might have guessed what sorts of things that he would share.  Peter is a big Google guy and does a lot of automation so it wasn’t surprising to see Google thoughts and references to his own creation.
  • My Last 10 – Next up was Lisa Cranston.  And, like Peter, I kind of suspected what she might share.  She’s heavily involved in self-regulation and still connected to initiatives that she started before she retired.  They’re reflected in her collection.
  • A Look At “My Ten,” And My “Strive For Five” Goal! – Aviva Dunsiger was the wild card in all this.  I thought that she might have included a number of videos from her classroom.  (I enjoy watching them in the evening)  Instead, there were a number of pictures from her class mixed in with her regular interactions with others.

I thought that the whole process was worthwhile doing.  It’s like a gut check to take a look at how you’re interacting with others.  Remember “You are what you Tweet”.  What about you?  Have you looked at your last 10 lately?  Why not write a post?  Tag me with it so that I don’t miss it.

And, just an observation – David Letterman has left the concept of 10 as the magic number for lists with us!

Toss An Idea Away

These are great words of advice from Matthew Oldridge.

Sadly, this is one person that just can’t/won’t do that.  I have so much baggage.  I have an old filing cabinet in the garage with every lesson plan and assignment that I’ve ever given.  I really should digitize them some day.

I have this blog that is full of every bloggable thought that I’ve ever had.  (Except for those that are posted elsewhere)

Is it a sign of being an educator that we never throw anything away because there may be a time when we could use it again?

Perhaps it’s good to partner with someone that will do the purging for you.

Building #ThinkingClassrooms

Laura Wheeler shares her thoughts on the works of  Peter Liljedahl

Via words and this wonderful sketchnote, she digs into things and I think that the sketchnote really illustrates what it means to her.

My biggest personal takeaway is the word “defront” as in “defront the classroom”.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about schools that I’ve taught in or visited.  They, by design, have a definite “front” to them whether it’s desk position, classroom door, student movement flow, electricity, ethernet drop, …  Defronting may well be more difficult than what it seems.


It took a little bit to get to the educational message in Sue Bruyns post.  Most of it was about real fires, her love of them, and conversations that she’s had about fires with others.

Then, there was this little gem.

You’ll need to read her whole post to understand the importance of space but I think that we can all sympathize with the notion of “piling on”.  It’s not just students; what about the workload that’s piled on teachers.

So, if students are choking trying to burn and teachers are choking trying to adhere to the latest missive from the board office, can we always expect fire to ensue?

Should we get it to start to burn, Stephen Hurley asked during our radio show – are we then guilty of extinguishing it – intentionally or not?

This is a great analogy and really worth thinking through for all.

TDSB Google Camp 4.0 SOLD OUT!

Congratulations to the organizers of the TDSB Google Camp.  Apparently, it sold out.  That’s awesome.

At events like this, often people are tweeting messages about what they’re doing but this really is one of those times when 140 characters just doesn’t quite cut it.  Fortunately, Zelia Capitao-Tavares took the time to blog and share her experience as helper, social media, and presenter and apparently a Slammer.  And, they had kids at the event!

I enjoyed reading things written from her perspective.  It sounded like a great day.

As always, there should be a real shout-out to the organizers.  Putting together an event like this is no small task.  Cleaning up afterwards isn’t a quick activity either.

On days like this, there are always too much available for learning and too little time.

BreakoutEDU Digital – Online Escape Games for Students

Last year, at the Bring IT, Together Conference one of the social events was a BreakoutEDU session for those who registered.  At the request of the session leaders, the session was capped at 100 people and so I didn’t attend, not wanting to rob a seat from others.  Sadly, as it turned out, I could have attended as there were many no-shows.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know about it until the next morning.

The concept still intrigues me and I do a lot of reading about it.

This post, from Larissa Aradj, really does a nice job to describe the process as she takes it digital.  In the post, she provides an example of how it looks, digitally, in both English and French.

What I appreciated from the post is that she takes the concept further to explain just why she uses this technique with her students and what she’s looking for as they work.  There’s a great deal in the post which makes reading and bookmarking totally worth your time.

Oh, and apparently Larissa won the demo slam at tdsb camp.

Many hands on the way to Kilimanjaro

Finally, a post that’s about as close to out of this world as you can get.

I first met Paul McGuire when I invited him to be a member of the Bring IT, Together committee.  We really wanted to ensure that there were topics that would appeal to those principals in attendance.  From that point on, I’ve remained in contact with social media, using Twitter and through his blog.  He is at the other end of the province afterall.

Paul has recently retired and one of his goals is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He’s using a GIS account to all those of us with lesser ambitions to follow along.

I know that I’m going to be following Paul’s blog and the map here.

Will you?

Please take a few moments and click through and read all of these wonderful blog posts.  Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to leave a comment or create a blog post of your own.

You can follow all of the Ontario Edubloggers here.  If you’re a blogger and not on the list, please add yourself.


OTR Links 03/31/2017

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

Getting prepared

I had a couple of coming togethers of things recently that made me start to wonder and then become a post.

It started innocently enough; a student wanted to know some advice for post-secondary plans in computer science.  The student shared his experience with a few of the languages that he knew. It was interesting and the passion is there.

I remember a couple of words of advice.

In my first year of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo

“Most of you will graduate from this university with a degree and will end up in a Computer Science job but very few of you will actually be programmers”

Later at a professional development day with a professor from the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Windsor when a secondary school teacher asked what programming languages that we should be teaching in order to prepare the students for university.

“We don’t care what language you teach.  We start with the basics of the language that we use and go from there.  We might be using a particular language this year but might change next year so don’t try to keep pace.  Just make sure your students know how to solve problems.”

I think they’re still great words of advice.

I do think that the student interested in programming has terrific options today.

  • Join GIT to get involved in projects, even if it’s just to read source code written by others
  • Get involved with a Linux distribution – understand open source and the opportunities that it affords developers
  • Install an application development tool at home to develop personal programs
  • Write a lot of little applications for personal enjoyment to extend what’s required in class – programming is fun – develop all kinds of algorithms
  • Listen and read whenever Linus Torvalds speaks – never has access to a programmer with a vision on the big goal been easier – what better mentor

But there’s more.

This morning I read this article “Read the email a Google recruiter sent a job candidate to prepare him for the interview“.  It’s a good read with lots of things to think about.  One of the questions was NOT “Pull out your computer and write a Python program to do this”.  Instead, it was things like this.

So, what’s a person supposed to do if they’re planning to study in this field?

I think there’s a great deal of advice in the above.  The actual programming ability undoubtedly is important but is it the only thing?

By this point, I’m sure that you know that the answer is no.

It’s the other things.

  • Can you solve a problem?
  • Can you look at a system and understand how it works?
  • Do you have an eye to the future?  
  • What’s trending and what will be the next big thing?
  • Can you deal with people?  
  • Can you write documentation or support a piece of software?
  • Can you work as a productive team member?

In the Computer Science classroom, where do these things fit?  

Is the course so complete with all the time devoted to programming skills and techniques that these things are overlooked or minimalized?

OTR Links 03/30/2017

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

100 year old inspiration

I get a kick from people who have discovered technology in the form of ExplainEverything.  People are creating videos for their students on all kinds of topics.  “This is new and a game changer”.  

Well, perhaps, if you just got into the game!

Before this application, there was ScreenChomp from Techsmith.  It was a personal favourite of mine but sadly was retired.  There are good alternatives but ExplainEverything appears to be the best replacement.

What a concept.  But new?  Game Changer?

Before you get on that bandwagon, you need to check out this archive just added to the New York Public Library Digital collections.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “How to draw an ellipse with string.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 28, 2017.

This is a fabulous collection.  It’s interesting how it was actually sponsored by a company.  

I couldn’t help but go through the collection.  It truly was enjoyable.

So, creating media to explain a concept isn’t necessarily new.  Sad to say.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not a worthwhile activity for the classroom though.

Certainly, there is value in teachers creating visuals like this for student use/consumption.  It works to add to a lesson presented online to explain a concept when words just don’t cut it.

Consider going further though.  What if the students created the activity and explained it for those who happen upon it?  Then, it becomes a consolidation piece.  I know that this isn’t new for many; they’ve been doing it for years.  But, if you’re looking to get into the explaining business, it doesn’t have to start with you.  It’s much more powerful in the hands of the student.

What to explain?

Well, just about anything.  Any lesson or concept or topic or …

If you’re looking for inspiration, why not take a wander through this wonderful digital archive.  Maybe “How to use up coal dust” might be a stretch in your classroom, but I’ll bet there are others that are just so spot on.  

Wouldn’t a student generated collection make for great looking bulletin boards or an explain page on your class wiki?

Don’t be held back – remember the mantra about using technology.

  • Use technology to do things differently
  • Use technology to do different things