This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to June!  Once again, it’s my honour to share with you some of the great reading from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  As always, there are some really good things to get your head around.

Construction Zones to Classrooms

We all know that there are two seasons in Canada.  Winter and Construction.

Sue Bruyns uses a construction re-routing to give some pause for reflection.  She saw this sign on a lawn.


It wasn’t a big leap for her to reframe the question for the classroom “Teach Like Our Own Kids Go Here”.

I would suggest that we’re part of the way there.  Think of yesterday.  Did you, in talking about your class to colleagues, friend, or spouse start a sentence with “Today, my kids did …”  If you did, you’ve got the ownership part right.

Best quote on this post comes from Sarah Sanders “Each student who walks through the door is someones everything. We have to treat each one like the gem they are.”

Decoding School Dress Codes

This is a post that should make administrators and parents stop to think about your school’s dress codes.  Matthew Morris observes:

I think we can begin to draw some conclusions here, one being that dress codes sexualize the female body and racialize the black male body.

He builds a good case in this post.  It should, at least, make you think about the dress code in your own school.  I suspect that many would rationalize it as saying that it’s good for kids and discipline.  One thing is true; it adds policing it onto a heavy teaching workload.

What if you were to waive the dress code for a week and objectively look at the effect?  Would it make a difference?  If the answer is no, then is it worth having to hang it over the heads of those affected – both students and teachers.

Escape Room / BreakOut in OneNote

Cal Armstrong is a big advocate for making Microsoft’s OneNote your educational Swiss Army Knife.

With the recent updates to the software to make the interface similar across platforms, it’s getting harder to deny it.

And this post will take you even deeper.

One of the big concepts in education right now is BreakoutEDU.  Dubbed as immersive, from their website, it’s described as:

The Breakout EDU kit allows for the facilitation of games where players use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open the locked box.

Cal takes us in an interesting direction here.  Not using the kit, but using the premise behind the game and marrying it to OneNote.  The idea is to create a challenge for students that can carries various levels that can only be unlocked by solving mathematics review questions.  He reports complete engagement with the activity. (and a big workload on his part in the creation)

It’s not a big leap to see this being a new concept for educators to share these activities.  Heck, you could even assign a group of students to create their own review questions for the rest of the class to solve.

I really like this concept and hope to hear more from it.

Google Data GIF Maker: Not Ready for Prime Time?

I read about this new tool from Google last weekend and made sure that Andy Forgrave knew about it.  He’s the king of GIFs in my world.

While I had done some exploration of my own, Andy was already all over it.  My example was a goofy collection of random coin tosses in a spreadsheet that I applied to the application.

Andy, with a little help, he analysed the different in the number of  Twitter messages from the ECOO organization account versus the conference account.  He shares his collection of data so you know what to expect in advance but it’s still interesting to see the results as generated by the tool.

Not satisfied with the Google tool, Andy does a little post-production in Photoshop.  His complete post is an insightful read.

Communicating in Algorithms: Connecting coding to literacy

This should be of interest to all those who use computer coding activities with students.  Is your experience limited to drawing a rectangle on the screen as some examples have you do or does it have the opportunity to go deeper than that?

Deeper is the answer from Deanna McLennan.  What about ties to literacy?  YES!

From her big list of exemplars, I pulled these as being particularly relevant.

  • Coding requires accurate language in order to be successful
  • Coding uses symbolic language that children will be able to read and write even if they are not yet fluent using letter and sound relationships.
  • Coding builds confidence and fluency in early readers and writers
  • Coding can become an expressive language, much like the arts, helping children to articulate their ideas and show their comprehension to others

Visit her post for her complete list and her explanation behind each.  It will bring added value to any coding that you might do with students.

And, a rationale for having kids.  Her inspiration for the post came from family!

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable…..

The last week I spent transitioning to my new position as Elementary Principal at the Canadian International School of Beijing.

What a way to lead into a blog post?

Anne Marie Luce takes us on a leadership ride that will have you appreciating the process a leader goes through as she moves into a new position.

It’s certainly not

“I’m in charge now”

She talks of a process of honouring the efforts of those who were in the position in the past while looking forward with anticipation of the future head.

This really is a unique read; I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone be this openly reflective of moving to a new position.

The best of luck to her and a wish for every success.

Finding a Balance in Math

Heather Theijsmeijer opens up a great deal of thought about the teaching of mathematics and how discovery differs in her eyes between elementary school and secondary school.

Her description reminds me of a quote I heard once.

In elementary, we teach students; in secondary we teach subjects…

Hopefully, we’ve put that logic behind us but there may still be room to move when it comes to the concept of discovery.

Then, there’s the whole approach to mathematics and she notes…

Partially because of this, in secondary we are seeing students who struggle more and more with basic math facts. That struggle leads to frustration, cancelling out any gains that may have been made from understanding the math initially discovered in earlier years.Her words inspired a number of replies and comments.

So, she’s asking about the balance between the two.

What’s even more interesting is reading the comments to her post.

It’s a reminder that we don’t know all the answers yet.

Please take a moment to read these inspirational blog post.  Hopefully, they’ll get you to reflect on your own practice.  Make sure that you drop off a note via their comments.

OTR Links 06/02/2017

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