This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for my weekly wander around the province checking out great blogs posts.  Enjoy the works from Ontario Edubloggers.


I Was a Bad Teacher Today

Everyone has an off day.  What makes it rise to the elevation of “bad” though belongs in the eye of the first person.  That first person in this post is Peter Skillen.

I’ve had many a conversation with Peter about the good, the bad, and the ugly in education.  He definitely is a person that you want to make that type of connection with.

I also think I know where some of the buttons are that you can push to get him going.  Recently, a blogger pushed one of them and Peter pushed back.  The sacred moment this time around?  Failing to recognize the big shoulders of those we stand on today.

This educator was absolutely well-intentioned but there were errors in the definitions and in the representation of educational pedagogies of previous recent decades.

If you do a study of the history of teaching pedagogy, it is rich with solid research.  If you look at the recent efforts, there’s more of a rush to get them out instead of researching them properly.  Just because it’s the newest and shiniest doesn’t always equate into the best.

We do stand on the shoulders of giants.  All of us should recognize this.

The Importance of Being Civil to Others

This is a natural followup to the above.  You can disagree without being disagreeable and that’s what quality people do.  However, you must remain civil in a kind society.  That wasn’t the case for Paul McGuire.  His words…

In a world that is growing crueler and less civil …

Paul’s good intentions drew him into a post from Andrew Campbell and a Twitter discussion that he captures and shares in this post.

Being civil should be the way things are done whether online or not.  I’m saddened deeply to read of Paul’s experience.

Free & Easy Green Screen Editing – How to Make Transparent Backgrounds

Here’s a tech tip from Laressa Aradj.  Green Screening isn’t a new concept.  We’ve been doing it for years.  I can recall going out and buying big screens of green velvet and our Clay Animation kits and the magic that we were able to make happen with the technique.

I always started my workshops by telling people that we were going to discover the secrets of being a weather person.  But, you have to be careful with what you wear; I remember my friend Nazreen volunteering me as a dummy for Hall Davidson’s keynote at ECOO a few years ago.  I was wearing a blue/green chequered shirt and the results were, well, disastrous.

But with the right clothes and the right tools, you and your class can be magic makers as well.  For Laressa’s post, the right tools are:

  • Mac, iPad, iPhone – “Instant Alpha” in Pages or Keynote
  • Chromebook or the Web – “LunaPic”

She’s also offering a challenge from her class to others to get involved with Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge.

Playing Games

What activity can’t be enhanced with the appropriate use of a game?

Peter Cameron has a number of observations from the success in his class.


It’s the last one “Math talk” that caught my attention and I read on to see how he uses the game Shut the Box with his class.

There is indeed so many great mathematics ideas in this activity.  Who would have thought that there could have been so much applied probability for students of this age?

Imagine the conversation when you roll a 4 and a 3.  Should you play a 1 or a 7?  Why?

And, they want to challenge classes outside their school to a game or two.  I think you just need to be warned that they’ve had some practice.

Additional Options for Programming/Coding Sphero

Sphero is one of the more popular robots that you can acquire for your classroom and program to do various things.  Derek Tangredi offers this post as a source for three additional applications to make your little roller do things.

Included in the post and with tutorials, you’ll find

1) Sphero Edu (aka Lightning Lab)

2) Coding with Chrome

3) Swift Playgrounds

The original inspiration for the post came from the fear that a common application was no longer going to be free.  (If you check the URL, you’ll get a hint)  I only have had experience with the first two applications.  I have a number of other applications that I’ve accumulated on my iPad for the purpose of playing around with Sphero.

The goal shouldn’t be for students to become fluent with more than one application as a way to add rigour into the process.  I’d evaluate all of the options available to you and choose the one that completely addresses your reason for coding with Sphero.

Alfred Thompson, just today, shared a terrific link in a blog post. The 5 Worst Ways to Teach Computer Science.  That, and Alfred’s post How to Teach Computer Science offer great advice for anyone teaching programming or coding.  Alfred’s sixth point is important – you don’t do everyone on the computer – is important.  Students should have solved the problem before they ever go near a computer or device and have a reasonable feeling that they’ll be successful.

Derek’s recommendation?  Well, you’ll have to click through to his post to find out!

Walking Forward Together

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

What a wonderful piece of wisdom and it summarizes this post from Laurie Azzi perfectly.  We’re treated to the hectic life of a teacher and I’m sure that all can empathize.

But the story also involves a flight to Toronto for an OECTA CLC project.

What strikes me, as I read the post, is how those who are successful, those who want to go far, pull together a fabulous team in order to make it happen.

Reading this post may take you to a different location but, if you’ve gone far, you’ll have made your own team.

Give her a read and you’ll want to take a moment yourself to reflect on all that goes together to make you successful.

An Interview with Hazel Mason

Have you ever sat in your classroom and thought “What are they thinking at the board office?”

I had the opportunity to interview Hazel Mason and found out.  For those of you who missed it, check it out.

Screenshot 2017-06-12 at 14.57.14

I hope that you enjoyed and took the opportunity to check out these posts.  Drop them off a comment if you have a moment.

Then, check out all of the great Ontario Edubloggers.

OTR Links 06/16/2017

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