This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s always fun to be able to share some of the great inspiration that I read from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this past while.

OER Repository on the Commons: A “Brief” History

Last week, I got on a bit of a tear about the ExplainEverything application.  Aviva Dunsiger had shared a new-to-me resource that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board had placed online.  I checked it out and decided that it was too good to not share and so blogged about it.  Enter Aviva again and she tagged a couple of folks behind it.  Consequently, I made a new friend, found a couple of new blogs and inspired Jared Bennett to write this blog post.

I think that this should be a role that teachers seconded from classrooms should be doing.  I certainly did it when I was a consultant although it’s all been taken down now.  As a consultant, you see more than your classroom, you see the great things that are happening in your district, you’re supporting initiatives, and much more.  Rather than just point people to Google and “get lucky”, why wouldn’t you filter and collect the best as it applied to the Ontario Curriculum and to your districts initiative.  That’s what you’ll find here and it’s great that it’s not hidden behind some educational paywall/portal.  It’s out in the open for all to see, use, and contribute.  This is how great ideas start; not by hiding everything that you’re doing.

Which of these systems is not like the other, Part 1

There’s a great comparison between a church loyality and a classroom loyalty in this post from Lisa Noble.  She describes the diversity that lies in her community of worshipers and we know of the diversity in the typical Ontario classroom.  That’s what’s in common; what’s not in common is the commitment by those at times.

The community I worship with is there because they want to be, and many of my students this year make it abundantly clear that they don’t want to be at school. That breaks my heart, and spurs me to continue my efforts to create a space as safe and engaging as the one that welcomes me on Sunday morning.

It’s not a completely fair comparison; those in her community of worshipers are there by choice; those in her classroom are there because they haven’t reached the age of 16 and so don’t necessarily have the same level of devotion.

However, those on the religious end, do have alternatives like walking away or going to another church and yet they stay with hers.

Lisa wonders, rightfully so, if there isn’t a strong message here for education.  What types of systemic change can be made to get the same devotion?  We know that it exists with some students; how can that be extended to all?

We’ll have to wait to see how she extends her thoughts in Part II.

Professional Development: What should it look like?

Mark Chubb opens a whole can of worms in this post.

I would suggest that it’s in a good way.  His observation that district professional development is often focused heavily on the pedagogical side of things.  Honestly, I think it’s probably the easiest way to go since a single speaker can stand up in front of a group of teachers and point to the research of blah, blah, blah, blah, and make everyone feel guilty that they’re not onside or that they hadn’t learned the current theory-de-jour.  Oh, and here’s the handouts and/or a link to the presenter’s slides.

Go forth and change the world.

What happens about the actual knowledge or skill that is being taught in the classroom?  Is it assumed that every teacher entering the profession knows their subject matter, any new course/unit/grade being taught, any new technology being adopted or that they can do so in the evenings on their own?  We know that will have varying levels of success.

It’s a really good argument for balance and almost a plea to reconsider how professional learning should be delivered within a district.

The post isn’t a short read but does give you much to mull about and some great topics for reflections.  I’ve got to believe that you’ll agree with many of his personal beliefs.

Support Your ECOO

Over the years, many good educators have devoted time and effort to making the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) what it is today.  One very active participant is Andrew Forgrave (read my interview with him here to see his passion).

A few years ago, Andrew was part of a group that revised the constitution of ECOO and it had already included the rights of members to attend board meetings as an observer.

Frustrated with the lack of updates on the ECOO website, Andrew decided that he would like to attend a meeting as an observer and see where the current board’s priorities lied.  This post tells of his background with the organization and the challenges that he had trying to get into the online meeting.

He closes with a reminder that session submissions for the 2017 close today.


OK, we can blame Mark Prensky for starting the conversation about Digital Immigrants versue Digital Natives.  I never bought into the concept but did like the fact that it was one of the things that inspired experienced educators to start seriously using technology in the classroom.  Mr. Prensky has since changed his tune and I think it’s a good move.  But, back to the original premise, David Carruthers claims that he has actually seen the opposite.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t see a greater number of younger teachers turning more to technology in their teaching is because they are modelling the teaching practices that were used when they were in school. They replicate how they were taught not that long ago. They are led to believe that this is standard pedagogy.

I don’t know why this should be the case.  David makes reference to himself 16 years ago and he claims that he used technology at every turn.  So why isn’t everyone like David?

Things have never been this good.

  • Classrooms are more Internet savvy and connected today than ever
  • School districts have faster connections today
  • There is more technology available for everyone due to purchasing patterns
  • Technology is more reliable than ever with more technicians and better equipment
  • You don’t need to be “wired” to get onto the Internet
  • There are more professional learning opportunities via subject organizations and local edCamps
  • Stories about technology uses and successes abound
  • Who hasn’t played with a Sphero or other classroom robot?
  • Libraries are working hard at becoming supporting makerspaces
  • I could go further but the point is to get you to actually read David’s post

If you’re a younger teacher, get over there and prove him wrong.  If you’re an experienced teacher, get over there and share your story so that others can learn.

The frontierland of secondary school eLearning: Conquering fear and fostering courage

One of my definite highlights of heading east to professional learning opportunities is to run into the Kings – Alanna and Tim – they always have something new to share or talk about.

In this post, Alanna shares that she’s off to the west coast to speak at a conference about an action research project that she is part of.  It sounds interesting and she shares her slide deck (although I don’t have access to the video)

The session will show you the results so far of our action research project in improving student motivation. Through teaching strategies for increasing student curiosity, control, collaboration, scaffolded challenges and recognition we are conquering fear and fostering courage in the frontierland of secondary school elearning.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Alanna stylin’ with a cowboy hat, click through.

Moshie below Kilimanjaro

Finally, last week I noted that Paul McGuire was off to conquer Mr. Kilimanjaro.  His latest update talks about a side-trip to Moshi (typo in his title) and a visit to an orphanage

Two young men who are running a small orphanage, taking little children off the streets of Moshi. This is a truly incredible story that I just started to learn about last night.

These stories are repeated all over the Global South, and for me it is important to dive back into the lives of these people and witness how they struggle to make lives better for themselves and their community.

and the experience of walking through an open market.

It’s a blog to follow to learn what Paul experiences.

I had a “Google Maps moment”; I wanted to make sure that I knew exactly where Mt. Kilimanjaro was so headed there.  I was hoping that there was a Streetview  – wouldn’t that be awesome – but the answer is not yet.  However, there are plenty of spectacular pictures from amateurs and also from tour companies that show just what a spectacular view and challenge that Paul faces.

Sort of related, how good is your spelling of countries?  Try this quiz.  I got 23/23!

What a collection!  Please take the time to click through and enjoy.  You’ll be glad that you did.  Then, head off to read more from Ontario Edubloggers.


OTR Links 04/07/2017

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