doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Not a week goes by that I’m not amazed at the quality of posts and insights of Ontario Edubloggers.  I can’t help but keep wondering how many more are out there that I haven’t found yet.  If you’re blogging, please use the link above to add your resource.  The more, the merrier as they say.

In the meantime, please take some time to enjoy some of the great things that I read over this past while.

In search of a flattened taxonomy for tech integration

One of the Ontario personalities that I always enjoy meeting at conferences is Alanna King.  But for all the times that our paths have crossed, I’d never seen her present.  When I saw that she was on the schedule for the OSSTF Technology Conference, I realized that I had my chance.  I wasn’t disappointed, and as a matter of fact during her presentation, I turned to Peter McAsh who was sitting next to me and told him that here was a presenter that could be a keynote for the upcoming BIT Conference.  Her talk about literacy and comfort/discomfort had words of wisdom and advice for everyone in the room.

On behalf of everyone there, I apologize for all of us sitting at the back.  But that’s what we do.

Previously, I had mentioned to Peter my thoughts about SAMR and so he was generous enough to interrupt Alanna to get her to ask my thoughts.  (They’re documented here in the blog)  After the conference, Alanna and I had an ongoing discussion about the topic and I had sent her my references and a “whack” of others.  She created a Flipboard of some of the documents and then mused about the message in this post.

Why is everything in education either a ladder, a pyramid or a target? Do we not know any other 2-D shapes? I see the complexity of the issue of integrating technology effectively into learning as more of a sphere.

Leadership: Faith in Others

The actual keynote from the event didn’t disappoint either.  Colleen Rose did a magnificent job of addressing fear and hesitancy in using technology in the classroom.  And, she threw the whole group into some of our biggest fears – trying to be creative with crayons and PlayDoh without any preparation.  The group did pretty well and Colleen put together a nice Padlet of the results here.

What I found interesting was that, unlike some keynote speakers who beg, borrow, and steal from others without proper attribution, using the same presentation over and over, Colleen came across as fresh, honest, transparent, open, and caring.  She was very quick to recognize those who lent her support in the process, complete with lots of pictures/selfies.

This blog posst also included something that I’d never considered.  Her trip south included the TLLP event so it was a long stint south.  Lesser people like me would just pack more and more clothes.  In this case, Colleen called in on the kindness of friends and stayed at their home so that she could do laundry.  Who knew?

If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s advice in the closing line.

“You learn leadership by doing leadership” ~ Carol Campbell

What will you do today to “do leadership”?

Dear Apple, Google & Microsoft

Jim Cash addresses his concerns about the current fascination of badging/qualifications with the big three in education.  His concerns?


I don’t think that you can take issue with any of these.  Jim does have some of the qualifications but has elected not to show them off.  I think that’s a good move for a system leader because of the optics of being in one company’s pocket.

On the other hand, I supposed that it is a good thing that people are taking technology in the classroom seriously enough to spend the money and invest the time to get these badges/qualifications.  But, is there another way?

How about the Computers in the Classroom qualification?  It’s made in Ontario and should address the Ontario Curriculum.  Unlike some of the things that the other qualifications deal with, this course shouldn’t deal with some sort of obscure software/hardware feature but rather effective teaching.  Or, how about the professional organization ECOO?  Could that organization offer some sort of badging?  A concern is that sometimes qualifications like this can be dated.  Remember when Kidpix was the big application?  Can you be current or should the qualification have an expiry date?

Check out this recent Twitter message from the OCT.  They’re doing their best.

If you do decide to go ahead and get the Google certification, this post from Sylvia Duckworth might lend you some inspiration and tips.

Blue Whale App: What is it and what should I do?

This post, from Jennifer Casa-Todd, was an eye opener for me.  I had never heard of it before but she tells of a story that involved a discussion at a parent group in Newmarket.

The claim is that this app contains a number of challenges culminating with a suicide challenge.  This is a tough topic for parents and teachers.  While this alleged app is new, the concept isn’t.  In the post, Jennifer relates her learning about the application.

In the post, her fact check on the topic lead to an article in the Daily Mail.  I did some fact checking on my own:

Beware of the Blue Whale App

‘Blue Whale’ Game Responsible for Dozens of Suicides in Russia?

I was unable to track down the app so, if it does exist, it’s not available in the traditional stores.  As we all know, we need to keep our eyes open since things like this can resurface under a different name or spawn clones.

In the meantime, Jennifer offers wonderful advice about how parents and teachers should be reminded that taking care of children should be job one.

Socks, Mathematical Thinking, and the Pigeonhole Principle

If the image in Matthew Oldridge’s post is truly of a dump of his sock drawer then I’m really impressed.  Those are the whitest socks that I’ve see in a long time.

He talks about a wonderful thinking problem that I’d long since forgotten so thanks so much for bringing it back.  The premise is simple – 10 white socks, 10 black socks in your drawer and they’re not rolled up.

In the dark,

  • how many socks do you have to select to get a pair of the same colour?
  • how many socks to you have to select to guaranteed pair of white socks?

Great examples and I enjoyed his question about whether students of different ages would solve the problem differently.

And, another kudo for making reference to Martin Gardner, part magician, part mathematician.  His writing should be in every teacher’s collection.

We are all Mathematicians!

So, Donna Fry did well in mathematics in school.  Knowing Donna, that didn’t really come as a surprise to me.

She’s relearning mathematics through a different set of eyes.  Like so many, she claims that her original learning was rote memorization – plug this into that and get the expected result and 100%.

I might have had the same teacher.  I know that I always did well in mathematics but I don’t know that I can make the same claim to excellence that she does.  I know that I always enjoyed mathematics; I’ve always considered it a discipline of puzzles and I like to solve puzzles.

Could there be a more vulnerable subject to attacks than mathematics?  Every generation has their iteration of the “new math”.  We’re seeing it again and there are great educators that are taking on this new concern with enthusiasm.

Sadly though, while we may all be mathematicians, we all don’t have the same teacher or same resources.  Nowhere is it more apparent than in the Grade 9 classroom with students coming from a number of different Grade 8 classrooms.  I can recall reading about “bluebirds” and “buzzards” while at my time at the Faculty of Education.  I later had a chance to work with a teacher who gave me a bunch of bluebirds and tried to get him to confess his secret.  I still remember his comment “there’s no magic, you just have to enjoy mathematics and let the students know it”.

It sounds like Donna is experiencing the same thing.  Can systematic change be made without everyone going through the same thing though?  She shares the wisdom of the #notabookstudy project via Storify in the post.

Fidget Spinners, Take 3: Could “Banning” Sometimes Be The Right Thing To Do?

Just when you’ve been convinced by the writing of Aviva Dunsiger, she’ll write another post talking about the opposite position and offering even more questions!

But it’s a good thing and a reminder that we need to explore all sides of an issue before making a firm decision.

Her latest take?


With a smirk on my face, I substituted “cellphones” for “fidget spinner” and, while the distraction has a new name, the question remains the same.

Will we “be done” when we resolve the fidget spinner deally?  Of course not; there will be another distraction weaving its way into classrooms.  I suspect that the real answer lies in establishing sound expectations and sticking to them, recognizing that there needs to be some understanding on all sides.

I love the thinking of Ontario Edubloggers.  This week was no exception.  Please take the time to click through and read the original posts in their entirety and drop these authors a comment.  And, ask Aviva a question.

We all get smarter and learn better when we’re all involved.


2 responses to “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”

  1. Thanks, as always, for connecting Ontario Edubloggers each week. As I said in my tweet, this is my favourite Friday post. I really appreciate you giving me so much reading for the weekend.

    I find it interesting that you substituted “cell phone” for “fidget spinner.” Thinking about the elementary classroom context, would we ever give a student a cell phone to “fidget” with on the carpet during a meeting time? Both definitely lead to distractions, but are both tools used (and expected to be used) in the same way? Would we ever call a “fidget spinner” a “learning tool” — as we may call a cell phone — and is this distinction an important one? Three blog posts on fidget spinners may be enough, but you’re giving me more to contemplate. An experience from yesterday is giving me more as well. Will there be one more fidget spinner post in my future? That remains to be seen. 🙂



  2. […] Peterson recently spoke with Stephen Hurley on VoicEd Radio and together they discussed one of Doug’s blog posts which highlights some of the work by educators in Ontario.  I paused when I listened to these […]


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