It’s not Stratford

The closest I’ve come to Shakespeare is at the Festival in Stratford.  It was a compulsory destination in high school and an elective now that I’ve graduated from there.  In either case, it’s a fabulous destination.

More than the theatre, the community is terrific for walking and wandering about; the geese being the most serious obstacle!  But, the bridges and the shops and more make it a wonderful place to visit.

But, back to Shakespeare.  (and not the village outside Stratford)

Google’s Map History or the Wayback Machine certainly couldn’t take us back to the 1500s and London in Shakespeare’s time.  But, the Agas Map certainly can.

I have this romantic vision of London from that time.  I’ll confess; it’s largely based on Oliver Twist and other media references (movies, documentaries, books, …)  But, the Agas Map from the University of Victoria took me to a new level.

I love maps and I’m really intrigued with how this project was created using materials from the London Metropolitan Archives.  (it’s worth a visit for its own merits as well)

But, head over to the Map and be prepared to be amazed.

The copyright restrictions are very tight so there are no screen captures to share.  If you enjoy maps, you’ll love this.

The map uses an extensive collection of overlays to let you identify prisons, churches, neighbourhoods, etc. in the city.  Of course, I had to check out St. Paul’s Cathedral!  That had me hooked and before long I was zooming in and out, recognizing so many places I’ve just read about.  Each object is clickable to display a popup of further information about it.

This is just a terrific way to spend lots of time exploring and wondering.


OTR Links 07/31/2017

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

Whatever happened to …

… that school mascot?

Over the years, at different educational institutions, I’ve been a:

  • Warrior
  • Golden Hawk
  • Varsity Blue
  • Mustang
  • Lancer
  • Sabre

But it was a high school class reunion where we had a sports discussion, that I realized that I had another school mascot.  For the most part, the reunion was filled with people who had played on a number of sports teams.  The topic of discussion was that the school had a new name for the sports team since we were there.  They were now the Phoenix.

That wasn’t what we were when we played school sports.  We had either red or blue uniforms and we were the Redmen.  It wasn’t something that was displayed on our uniforms; I remember them as pretty bland. But, when we got school letters or awards, it had the image on them of the romantic notion of a First Nations people, complete with head dress.

I always thought that it was a strange thing; there were no First Nations peoples all that close to us.  The Saugeen Nation was north in Bruce County, the Chippewa Nation was south in Lambton County, and the Oneida Nation was in Middlesex County.  Yet, somehow, that was what we had at our secondary school.  I don’t know the history of it; you don’t have a choice when you go to school.  It’s just there.

The choice of moving to the Phoenix wasn’t a recent one.  It was a decision that was made a few years ago.  Changing made a great deal of sense, especially now that we are dealing with the whole concept of reconciliation.

Now, a small secondary school in mid-western Ontario isn’t going to change the world but it was the right thing to do.  There are more significant changes that could be made and I’ll ask for your opinion below.

So, for a Sunday, your thoughts …

  • Does your school use a First Nations’ representation for a mascot?
  • Can you name a school that made a change like my old secondary school did?
  • How do you feel about the refusal of professional sports teams to replace their logo in 2017 – Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs … ?
  • Is it important to retain tradition at the expense of offending others?

Please share your thoughts in the comment below.  I’d be very interested in reading them.

You can check out all of the posts in this series here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Let me know here.

OTR Links 07/30/2017

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

The wrong discussion

I saw it again.

I can best sum it up as having the wrong discussion. In terms of the experts, as Tim McGraw asks “Who are they?”

The first time that I heard this discussion was in the phrase “We got rid of SMARTBoards because of SAMR.  We replaced them with flat screen televisions”.

The most recent discussion was about how Chromebooks, by design, didn’t allow for teaching “above the line” with the SAMR model.  “We need MacBook Pros or full Windows computers.”

It’s just so hard to even begin to lend credibility to these discussions.

When I peel back the layers of the onion, the discussion really is:

  • “replacing data projector bulbs is a pain”
  • “I can only create movies with iMovie or Movie Maker”

I now have new material to use when I hear people espousing this model as the definitive answer for planning.  I’ve mentioned it many times; the problem with the way that people use the model is that it’s based solely on the actual technology and not addressing the real issue; proper understanding of student learning.

I prefer my thoughts about technology:

  • you can use it to do things differently
  • you can use it to do different things

With everything in the classroom, the use of the technology needs to revolve around student needs and not based upon a piece of technology or a piece of software.  A level for one isn’t necessarily a level for all.  Technology in the hands of a skilled teacher and motivated students is capable of amazing things.

There definitely are times and places for killer high end machines in order to address curricular needs.  But, those times and places aren’t everywhere.

What’s next?  We can’t teach electronics and coding with Spheros or Micro:bits because they’re not Arc Welding Robots?

School districts need to step back and focus on professional learning activities and growth/learning/networking opportunities.  Just throwing hardware or software at an unprepared classroom doesn’t cut it.

OTR Links 07/29/2017

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can you believe that we’re approaching the end of July already?  Where did the month go?  It’s going to be a nice weekend around here: Explore the Shore, and the Car Crazy Show.

It’s always a great week when there is lots of thinking from Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught.

#WeLeadBy Student Digital Leadership at its best

I had the honour of helping review Jennifer Casa-Todd’s book as she was writing it.  I do remember one disagreement that we had, albeit friendly, when I challenged her on some concept she wanted to include.  I remember my comment “Haven’t we got past that?”.  Her comment was that we hadn’t in some districts.  So sad.

On the other hand, there are some incredible things that are happening and Jennifer uses social media to showcase the best of it.  In this post, she illustrates how she practices what she preaches and tweets.  It’s all about the process for a province wide student Twitter chat.  There are interesting reflections on her process, background work, and the people that she’s met.

This is well worth the time to read and affirm to yourself that the kids are alright.

I’ve always been a social media and leadership fanatic. I’m honored to be able to combine the two and show my student digital leadership! What an amazing experience I know’ll known I’ll never forget.

IBL and learning

When was the last time that you seriously thought about what learning truly means.  All of us who have ever been in a classroom will think that we know.  As I read this post from Julie Balen, I can’t help but wonder if what we think might be too narrow.

Watt and Coyler tell us that IBL is influenced by constructivism (page 4), and they also acknowledge that IBL is only one pedagogy amongst many that we decide to use based on our knowledge of how our students learn. This point is important, and it is why I have begun the book study by thinking about what learning means.

As noted in the title, she’s focusing on Inquiry Based Learning and her observations will have you thinking.

The concluding paragraph of questions is set in the context of students in Grade 9 and 10.  I can’t help but think that it’s too late by that time but that can be reality for many.  It’s one of the few places where you pull together students from so many disparate backgrounds.

Hubbub! Coding a First Nations’ Game of Chance

Have you read any good code lately?  If the answer is no or you’re just curious, check out this project from Brian Aspinall.

The game is based upon a dice game and there’s a link to the background of the game in Brian’s post.

But then, follow the link in the post, and you’ll be playing.  After a moment, you’ll want to look behind the scenes to see how things are actually coded.


But don’t stop there.  The power of Scratch lies in the ability for you to remix his work.

Part1: Summers are for resting, recharging and retooling

Read this first.

This process really does take a week-and-a-half, or two. My body doesn’t recognize vacation mode until 7 days have passed…otherwise my body things it might just be a long weekend, or Spring Break. Once I’m grounded, present, and connected…I can move forward to reading and other intentional activities that make me feel alive, and help me to RECHARGE ! That’s for next time!
Thanks for joining me.

That’s at the bottom of Heidi Solway’s post of July 20.

It does take a while for summer holiday mode to kick in!  I loved reading about her summer routine.

Any bets on when Part 2 will be posted?


One of the joys about reading blogs is going places where you’d never go other wise.  This post, from Rusul Alrubail, is one of them.

Thanks to her wonderful blog, I now know about MGMC.

Muslim Girls Making Change, or MGMC, is a youth based slam poetry group that started over a little more than a year ago. As a group (us being four teens in high school), we often felt that our voices weren’t being heard or that they weren’t important.

And now so do you!

The post is an interview that will give you some insights about the why and how of this group.

Could the concept be replicated in your school?

Minecraft and Stop Motion Animation

I enjoy reading what teachers are doing with Minecraft in the classroom.  Scott Renaud shares what’s going on in his classroom and where he intends to take it.

It’s an interesting read and also a call for collaborators.

That is where we are going and what our plan is, we would love to connect and work with like minded educators from around the world, if this sounds like something you may be interested in please reach out to me and join our team.


From the TESL Ontario blog, here’s an interesting insight to teaching overseas.

I found teaching overseas enabled me to be far more vulnerable since nobody knew me. There was simply less reason to worry. After all, in two weeks, I would likely never see these students again. It was a very different perspective to approach the class with. To be honest, it was kind of fun and sometimes scary at the same time.

This was another concept that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to even think about and so enjoyed reading about the whole process.

The post concludes with four tips about things to consider if this appeals to you.

Thanks to all of the above for continuing to blog, post, and share their thoughts over the summer.  It’s appreciated.  How about YOU?  Have you blogged recently?

Please take a moment to show your appreciation to them by clicking through and sharing a comment on their posts.