This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, everyone.  It’s been a short week here in Ontario but that didn’t stop some great thinking appearing in the blogs of Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

Summiting Kilimanjaro

The Barranco Wall – Don’t Look Down

Why we climb

Asante sana to our guides and porters on Mt.Kilimanjaro

Back from Kilimanjaro

Last week, Paul McGuire’s blog was very quiet.  There were no reports about his assent to Mt Kilimanjaro.  But, he certainly made up for it this week.  Above, you’ll see that he has unloaded on us with stories of his final climb.

Not only that, but there is a beautiful collection of pictures that he’s taken and a video.  I liked the map that showed the path that they took to the top and I’m getting at least a look at the trail on Google Maps.

It’s so impressive.  I would encourage you to read these posts and, if you haven’t already, look at his previous posts to get at least a blog reader perspective of what he and the 28 of them experienced.

We did really well – 28 climbers summited at Stella Point. The general overall success rate is around 65%, so we did much better than the average. I think our success has a great deal to do with the incredible training and leadership of our Canadian guide team – Shawn Dawson, Kristi Johnston and Jason Colley and the amazing support of our families and friends back home.

The climb is over, we are safely home, we have achieved something special.

When Should We Put The Devices Away?

Readers of Aviva Dunsiger’s blog will recognize that self-regulation is a topic in virtually every post these days.

In this post, she collects some of the wisdom of her network to help frame her thoughts about the use of technology and the amount of “screen time” in her classroom.  For the record, I hate that expression.  But I do understand her point.  She identifies what I would call really bad practice in the use of technology.

I’m sure that you can come up with additional ideas.  Things like:

  • discover this new program and tell me how to use it
  • we have 10 minutes left in this period, you may play on the computers
  • go on the Internet and see if you can find something

Silly?  Yes, particularly when you take it out of any classroom context.  But, you don’t find a music teacher who runs 10 minutes short and says “Discovery Learning – learn how to play a new instrument” or a Transportation Technology who says “We’ve changed the oil in the principal’s car and there is 10 minutes left over.  You can take it for a spin”.

We wouldn’t do those dumb examples above so why would we do it with computers?  In many cases, I suspect, the teachers are new to technology in the classroom and just don’t have the wealth of experience and resources.  Bringing in an expert for a one hour workshop on Scratch doesn’t make someone a coding expert.  Aviva makes a great observation and school districts should continue to be serious about providing ongoing professional learning opportunities so that activities are meaningful and not just some mindless recreation time.

For those moments when technology shouldn’t be used, why not do what my wife does?  Get yourself a smartphone jail.

Screenshot 2017-04-19 at 13.54.16

Put Your City on the Map!

From Peter Cameron comes a wonderful example of what a complex classroom task could be.  It follows nicely with the stage that Aviva has set.

We have used descriptive writing, our research skills, visualizing, visual arts and a combination of tech tools to put our city on the map. Each student picked one of their favourite places unique to our city; Thunder Bay. Their task was to write a descriptive paragraph about their place, capture it using a variety of media forms and then literally put their place on an interactive map of Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is such a wonderful place to visit.  I haven’t thought about Kakabeka Falls for a long time.  If you visit, the area, you definitely have to drop by there.  Thank you to the student that put it on the map.

As I was working on this, I had an interaction with Peter about an upcoming M.A.D. PD event on May 7.  You may want to check it out.  Some of the usual Ontario suspects are there but there’s a delightful collection of new names and faces for me.


All caps mean shouting, right?  Read this post about intersectionality and you’ll probably imagine Rusul Alrubail shouting as she typed it.

In this case, she analyzes a conference devoted to gender equity in education.  Her thoughts:

If a conference that focuses on gender diversity in education hardly has women of colour in attendance or represented, that’s inexcusable. We also can’t afford to hear excuses and defence. We didn’t have time… the topic was not on the agenda…we didn’t know who to reach out to…

Excuses show nothing but sloppiness, inconsideration and a lack of recognition of one’s own privilege.

If you ever will have an opportunity to organize an event, any event in Ontario, she’s right.  Those excuses don’t have a place with any planning committee.  If you are truly reaching out to an entire province, then you need to make sure that you are inclusive.  If your answer is “we didn’t know who to reach out to…”, then you’re just not paying attention.  If “the topic was not on the agenda”, change the agenda to put it there. Getting the right people involved will guarantee success.

One of the reasons why I’m a fan and regular reader of Rusul’s blog is that she does have a strong voice and her blog serves not only to educate us on the issues but to model what an advocate looks like to others.

Don’t we have enough White men speaking on almost every issue? It’s time for them to give that platform to people who need to be heard.

Certainly, blogging is a platform where everyone can participate where they feel comfortable but there needs to be more.  Conferences can provide that powerful opportunity.

A Little Lost Dog

What would you do if you looked out your front door and saw a dog sitting on the porch wanting to get inside?  Such was part of the Easter Weekend for Diana Maliszewski.  Read on to hear how she handled it; including some work on social media although it’s not clear whether that had an impact or not.  The story does have a happy ending (she thinks).  It’s a reminder to all dog owners to keep their animal on leash and get them chipped in case the worst happens and they do get off the leash.

Then, Diana turns to her social media porch.

I also need to realize that my doorstep is a lot bigger than I envision. I’ve noticed lately that two books in my school library collection have been panned by others in the FNMI community (see recent tweets by Angie Manfredi, aka @misskubelik and Colinda Clyne aka @clclyne) . This has happened right at my Twitter doorstep. It’d be easier to ignore it or dismiss it as just one opinion. I shouldn’t and I can’t.

There’s a strong message here beyond the two books in question in her library, folks.

If your school doesn’t have a qualified teacher-librarian with his/her ear to the ground, how do you determine the relevance and appropriateness of any materials that have been acquired for your school?  Is it just a order form that comes from a publisher or distributor and someone runs up and down the list looking for titles that sound good?  If you don’t have that teacher-librarian who immerses her/himself in the role, what are you left with?  Can your school’s conscience live with that?

Hoarding vs Curation in the Digital World

In this post, Debbie Donsky takes on two interesting topics.  She could have split this into two separate posts and I think she would have done justice to both.  Let me talk about my take on them.

Hoarding vs Curation

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you probably notice a real flurry of posts that come from me between 5 and 6 am.  That’s my private, devoted web-reading time.  (Except on Fridays when it’s FollowFriday hour)  I have a big collection of topics that I’ve amassed over the years in my Flipboard account.

I just roughly counted and it’s something like 210 different categories.  I let Flipboard pick the latest stories and display them for me.  I’ll spend that special hour reading and sharing the stories if you care to join me.  But, there’s more.  I used to do a workshop on this.  Every link that I share to Twitter also gets tucked away into my Diigo account.

At one time, someone called me a digital hoarder.  And if that’s all that I did with it, they’re probably right.  But I do more.  My default browser search engine is my Diigo account.  So, when I’m doing research, I don’t start from scratch by going to Google and feel lucky.  I’ll search my curation first to see if there’s a resource that I’ve already evaluated and tucked away.  It saves so much time.

Personal Domain

The second topic deals with the purchase and ownership of a personal domain.  You may recall an incident that happened here a couple of years ago.  I’m not going to rehash that.  I have my own domain and there was a time when I purchased my own space and created my own web presence.  But that’s not all that it cracked up to be for me.  It’s actually a great deal of work and you have to get up to speed on a lot of things very quickly.  I like to share this story; my old employer purchased a system, installed it, and it was up and running.  By the time that I got home, hackers had found the new system and defaced it because of a missing patch.  It was a learning experience for all.  So, my domain is still registered but now resolves to a Google Site where I let people far smarter than me take care of updates and patches.  Google’s not the only game in town but having a reliable host is important if you’re not ready to do all the work yourself.

Positively Encouraging: Teachers Doing No Harm

So, Tim King programmed in Grade 10 on a “freaking computer punch card reader”.  I guess that’s the bad part; the good part is that he did well.  I’m not terribly sympathetic; my first programming was done on an IBM 026 card punch.  This was state of the art at the time.  The 029 was a major upgrade.

But, it’s not the technology used that makes this blog post such a sad one to read.  It was the subsequent treatment of this young student that makes it educational malpractice.  I think every teacher should read and reflect on Tim’s words.  If you see anything in yourself as Tim did with his teacher in Grade 11, you need to shake your head and think about just what it is that you are doing for a profession.

I hope that we can write this off to a dated educational system.  Especially in computer programming, different approaches to problem solving and implementing a solution should be celebrated and not put down.

What started all this?  Tim misread a message from the Ministry of Education.  That’s about the only smile you’ll get when you read this post.  Other than that, you should just get angry to think there might be teachers like Tim describes.

What another great collection of reading from Ontario Edubloggers!  Please take the time to click through and read the posts in their entirety.


OTR Links 04/21/2017

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