This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here we are.  The last collection of awesome reading from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers for this school year.  It’s another inspirational collection.


Flip or Flop? – Student Perceptions of Flipped Teaching

I wouldn’t normally include a post that is just a slideshow presentation.  But, I was really intrigued by the information here from Camille Rutherford.  It’s a very nice summary of attitudes and observations about the various components of a flipped classroom environment.  There’s lots to think about in this collection of Student Perceptions.

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I don’t have the greatest of Internet access speeds so could really identify with the thoughts about video.  Short and concise works.  Great advice if you’re thinking of exploring this concept.


I am still in a silo.

This post, from Chris Cluff hit a little close to home with me.  I’ll bet that it does with you too.  Our silos are our comfort zones and it really takes a strong person to break out of that silo and see what is in other’s silos.  I found that when I would do presentations to particular groups, that I’d have to think my way through their silo and what was in there to be effective.

For Chris, it wasn’t a huge leap from a personal silo to reflect upon the silo that comes from building one’s brand and how that springs from having a book deal hit social media.

I hadn’t thought about it; but when you’ve put your thoughts into book form, it’s pretty permanent and you need to be true to that.  I know that, for this blog, I’ve given myself license to change my mind depending upon what I’m currently thinking/exploring.  If I’m wrong or change my mind, I can just delete the offending post or offer a correction.  If it was in permanent form, I’d have to say “Buy my new, improved book”.


My not-polished list of signals to think through

This is an older post from Brandon Grasley.  When I first read it, I didn’t know what to do with the content.  As we approach summer holidays, I revisited it and can see some interesting spins on his not-polished list.

In particular, I cherry picked these…

  • Analog renaissance
  • Quiet
  • mental health awareness
  • Inefficient activities

They sounds like a pretty good plan for the summer as teachers re-charge.  Check out his post where he addresses each with specific examples.


How do you define success?

Answer that question in your mind before you go any further.

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You probably came up with at least some of the first three ideas from this blog post from Joel McLean.

  • Learning
  • Failing
  • Inspiring someone

With apologies to Joel, those are pretty standard fare.  Good concepts but I suspect you can see them easily.

It’s actually the fourth point that he makes that really got me thinking.  The message is even stronger when you look at the graphic that goes with it.

  • You are not a leader until you have produced another leader who can produce another leader

If you pause and think this through, it’s a pretty powerful and yet tough order.  How would you even measure that?  Perhaps he’ll flesh that out in a future post.


The Feelings Part of Feedback

Eva Thompson gives a think through about feedback and its importance.  If there’s one thing to take away from her post, it’s this.

My point is feedback elicits an emotional response.

I immediately thought of an experience that struck me emotionally.  It was first year university in one of those big classes.  You write the final exam and the professor or teaching assistant let me know that I can get a marked copy of my exam outside the professor’s office on such and such a date.

Well, it turns out that that date was after the marks were submitted to the registrar.  I did go to get my copy and there were big cardboard boxes outside the professor’s office.  I had to find my section and then look for the Ps.  They were wrapped in an elastic band.  Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to get to the Pets but I saw a lot of other names and marks on the way.  When I finally got mine, there was one mark on the outside and a couple of dash marks on the inside.  There’s my feedback.

When you consider that new teachers go from university to the classroom, there really is a need for professional learning about the importance of feedback and how best to do it.  Eva’s got a great post to get them thinking…


Ontario Math Links

David Petro gives us a neat collection of mathematics links.  Yes, I know, as you read this you don’t have any students to enjoy them with.

So, enjoy them by yourself!

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Check out this graph showing super heros at the box office.

Can you tell who is:

  • Wonder Woman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Batman v Superman
  • Man of Steel

I won’t spoil it … you’ll have to click through to the original post to see the answers.


Putting others first can cost lives in emergencies

It’s never like this in the movies.  In the movies, the hero throws caution to the wind and fights the elements and the environment to be the saviour.

This research from the University of Waterloo suggests that’s not the best way to handle emergencies.

The study, which used computer modeling of a flooded subway station

I hope that you’re never in a situation where you’re called upon to choose.

It’s an interesting read and may not be quite what you would predict.


Please take the time to click though and read the posts in their entirety.  There’s some great thinking and writing there; all originating in Ontario.

Check out the complete collection of Ontario Educational Blogs.  There’s always some great stuff there.  If you start a blog over the summer, make sure that you fill out the form and get it added to the Livebinder.

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OTR Links 06/30/2017


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

Standards


At the ISTE Conference this year, a revised version of the ISTE Standards for Educators has been made available.

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You need to register for a free account and give ISTE an idea of your teaching status and what you plan to use the standards for.  In my mind, there are so many opportunities.

Now, the standards aren’t enforceable on Ontario Educators but there is no equivalent here.  Our focus is largely on good teaching principles and there should be no apologies for that.  However, these standards mesh nicely with those who wish to be well rounded educators, advocates, leaders, and learners.

What stands out for me are the concepts of:

  • global learning connections
  • ways to enable student voice and competencies
  • effective use of technology in the classroom with a section specific to design

The actual document is a short read and a quick skim if you’re so inclined.  But, if you’re serious about this, each of the points in the document should serve as a launch pad to your own personal approach and philosophy of teaching and teaching effectively with the use of technology.

Beyond that, there’s a very serious message for school districts.  With a workload that is absolutely full, teachers can’t be expected to do all this on their own.  A comprehensive system of support and professional learning opportunities will support educators in their quest.  Professional learning departments should sit back and ask themselves if they’re providing the environment and setting the table for educators to enjoy success.  Are you providing opportunities for classroom teachers to learn and become leaders?

For the educator, I think that the standards provide a wonderful guide to designing a portfolio of learning.  Can you provide personal examples of proof and comment on each of the standards as they relate to you?  If not, does this provide a framework for your own learning this summer and to the future?

Are you the “Empowered Professional?”

 

OTR Links 06/29/2017


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

The whole package


I’m one of the legions of people that are not in San Antonio for the annual ISTE technology conference.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy going; I’ve been to my share – Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Antonio more than once.  I may have forgotten a couple locations.  That’s the problem with lists.  I even got the ghost room in San Antonio when I was last there.  Of course, I blogged about it.  On a previous San Antonio conference, I got material for a Photoshop workshop; taking a picture of the famous building but there was work being done and a worker on a ladder spoiled the picture.  We learned how to edit the person out.

What’s unique about this conference is that it’s at a horrible time for Ontario Educators.  It’s typically held during the last week of classes.  You have to pull in a few favours in order to make attendance possible.  Or, if you’re supporting Report Cards, you have to promise to forego some opportunities and go online in the evenings in order to attend.

The exhibit hall is always interesting.  It’s a mixture of tried and true technology and a look at shiny, new things.  It’s an opportunity for technology firms to make a big influence on educators – like convincing them that you don’t need a keyboard on a computer to make it in a classroom, or you don’t need lots of local storage when you have the cloud, or robots can be round and very programmable.  There are lots of other things that were touted as the “next best thing” that never quite cut it.  Discerning educators and decision makers need to think deeply before going off the deep end.

Then, there are the speakers.  Ultimately, here is where you get the new information, the new insights, the cautions, the flavour of the year, the message of what changed a particular class, …

So often, the presenters are names that you have never heard of.  They may be local or from a distance and this may be their one and only time in the spotlight.  The message is true, honest, and authentic coming from experience in their own little world.  I like to think that the presentations I made there put me in that category.

Then, there’s a category of speaker that makes trips throughout the country delivering the same presentation either as a breakout person or a featured/keynote speaker.  Many are not educators but they deliver a message that some want to hear.  “600 apps in 60 sessions”, “what’s new at Google/Apple/Microsoft?”, etc.

And then, there is another category of speaker that most appeals to me.  They may not necessarily be “in the classroom” educators but they’ve been involved in the deep thinking behind the things that we take for granted.  What’s special about this group is that they’re not there to sell anything but good ideas and common sense.  They become a Doug-Magnet.  I took a wander through the online program and I see some of these people again there to guide a conference of educators.  Oops.  I just started a list and deliberately deleted it.  The danger in lists lies in excluding someone.  But it’s worth noting that Gary Stager is presenting at his 30th ISTE Conference.

The one common thread that runs through this, and any conference that offers variety, is not being able to attend them all.  Sure, some of the presenters are good enough to post their presentation online.  It’s nice but certainly not the same as being there.

It would be nice if there was a magic bullet that allowed anyone to have it all.  I’ve tried; it’s just not there.  The best I can do is suggest our old friend Twitter and rely on the kindness of learners/attendees.  It should be a requirement of anyone who receives funding to go to a conference.  Learning and sharing all around!

If only people would use them (and only them)!

And, what would a technology conference be without a little advice…

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OTR Links 06/28/2017


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

Done, but not finished


It’s that time in the school year.

No, not exams or graduations, but retirements.

Now, if your district honours the contributions made by people who have left active employment and keep them in the digital social circles, you know who is retiring.  But, your district might have cut you off at the knees the moment that you left employment.  In that case, you may well remain connected via Facebook or other social media mechanism.  If that doesn’t work, you might get an email from friends still there.  Or, a dear friend might give you a specialized personal invitation.

In my case, this morning, I found out about a retirement via a Facebook post but it was pictures of the celebration so definitely was after the fact.  I can’t help but think, though, that teachers are a special breed of people and that the connections do remain after the long days, the endless lesson preparing, the testing, and the assessing.

Where it’s particularly rewarding comes from former students who reach out to say thanks; some many years after you parted ways.  It’s always interesting to see where they may land.  I’ve had contact with many who have landed careers in computer science but there have been others that have become teachers, engineers, politicians, first responders, doctors, nurses, musicians, actors, actresses, homemakers, parents, …  It’s interesting to see them reflect about times that we were together in the classroom although in much different roles.  Some even comment back on coaching experiences.  What always impresses me about my mind is that, when the contact is made, I’m able to dig up images and bits of memories of these students.

It’s not just the students that make the contact.  There have been teaching colleagues who like to make the contact and talk about experiences.  It’s nice to know that, even years later, they appreciate the all-night email support that I was able to provide.  True teaching professionals don’t work 9-3, but if you’re a teacher, you know that.  It’s also true though that teachers are generally kind to each other and certainly to students.

Then, there’s something that hits you right out of the blue.

On Saturday night, a teacher from 30 years ago called to indicate that she and her husband were in town and they would like to get together and have a chat.  We agreed to meet at a Tim Horton’s that certainly wasn’t there when they were last in town.  It was a great time to get caught up although certainly you don’t do all those years justice in a couple of hours.  There was a moment that totally took me by surprise and I certainly hadn’t thought about it except for probably a moment in passing when it happened.

I still remember when you introduced me to ***** and I kept it in mind during lesson preparations and marking.

Wow.  Needless to say, I had no independent recollection of that.  So, folks, don’t ever ask me to be a reliable witness.  It wasn’t the event that I think struck me the most.  It was how something this small could remain with her all these years.  It gave added meaning to some of the anecdotes from contacts that I’ve had with others.

At the same time, it serves as a reminder to be kind and understanding.  What you think might have been just a passing gesture may well be the thing that is remembered about you.

I hope that those who are retiring take a moment to think about all the lives that they’ve had the honour to influence, whether it be students, colleagues, parents, or community.  Yes, you’ll be out with your kids and see spelling mistakes on posters in a store and have this uncontrollable urge to look for a red pen to circle it – or today’s equivalent – take a picture and post it on social media.  “Daaaaad, you’re such a teacher”.

Resist the urge and just consider it a reminder that you reached out and influenced so many.  They’ll come back somewhere along the line to let you know how much they appreciated your work.

My best, in retirement, to Mrs. C. and all those who make the big move this week.