This edition of the post is just a bit special. It comes from my hotel room in Niagara Falls on Day 2 of the conference. Day 1 was unique for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. Stephen Hurley and I had invited five of our regular blogsters to a live discussion of their blogs at the Minds on Media event. Technologically, it didn’t go perfectly. From a human point of view, it was far beyond my expectations. I felt that the people we invited were very confident, proud of their blog and very true to the message that they delivered.
So, right off the top, here’s a description of what happened from Stephen Hurley. During our show, he discovered that we weren’t broadcasting live but hoped that there might be a recording anyway when he got home.
Sadly, there wasn’t. Here’s a description as to what he thinks went wrong.
Best quote in the comments came from Aaron Puley
I actually just retweeted a tweet of a school sign that said something along the lines of “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying” (or something along that lines).
The best thing as I blogged yesterday was that all of the planning gave us a big picture look at things and we hope that we get the opportunity to try the concept out again soon.
First up on the show was Aviva Dunsiger. She was also running a station of her own at Minds on Media devoted to blogging and messaging with social media. What she does has become second nature for her and the families of her students.
You never know when a blog post might come from Aviva, but one thing that you can count on is a flurry of activity from her at night as she documents the learning that happened that day in her classroom. Many examples are included in her post. Like this one…
I like how she’s challenging herself to consider the time spent on the class blog versus the time she wants to blog professionally. Is there a working compromise?
We were delighted that Eva Thompson could attend the conference and agreed to be on the show. It was very late when she got the confirmation that she could go but that’s OK. The important thing was that she was there.
In her post, she talks about a 20 hour field trip from Sarnia to Chatham to Ripley’s Aquarium to the CN Tower and Canada’s Wonderland and back. Phew! I get tired just thinking about it. If you’ve ever taken a group of students on a bus, you’ve got to have a great deal of empathy.
Eva asks how to judge success.
She offers a great selection of criteria that she considers in deciding if it’s going to be a success along with some personal reflections. I’ll admit; there were a few ideas there that I hadn’t considered.
The writing that makes her blog so unique comes through loudly and clearly.
Stephen and I met one of our goals – we got Eva Thompson on the radio.
A while back, on a Sunday post, I had asked Whatever happened to … webquests? At the time, the internet was young, access was spotty, computers were limited, and people really were truly just learning how to search.
The idea behind the Webquest was to use information and not necessarily find it. It was one of those uniquely pedagogical ideas courtesy of Bernie Dodge. Then, Webquests kind of faded from our teaching and learning conscience.
Recently, though, the premise has resurfaced in something known as a Hyperdoc and Google using people are going nuts about it. Cal Armstrong read one of the fansites about it and realize that there wasn’t anything Google-y about it. True! Heck, we used wikis and websites for our original Webquests.
Cal writes about an alternative in this post and it comes as no surprise that he offers a OneNote alternative. After all, the document is just a launching point to resources.
But, and this is a big but, there are two real advantages of using OneNote.
- You can still do it without internet access
- Since students can’t see each other’s private sections, they don’t know if you’ve modified the reading level for some students – can customize for various students
These are two huge reasons to engage with this platform. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and one size fits all. If your school is using Microsoft products instead of Google, you should be all over this. If not, you might want to give it a shot anyway.
In the post, Cal shares a link to a document that he created in OneNote.
I love this post from Ramona Meharg. Not only because she’s a country girl and proud of it but because she reaches to a very important concept.
It’s particularly relevant when you consider that she’ll be doing a presentation on the Internet of Things at the conference. Technology is not the answer to everything.
The Thames Valley District School Board is foresighted enough to have outdoor learning centres and Ramona describes an outing to Jaffa. She sees it as very important for city kids to realize that there’s another world and these visits lead to great exploration opportunities.
There are awesome pictures and a story to go along with them. By itself, that makes the read worthwhile.
You have to check out the picture of the beetle!
I’m glad that I had the chance to talk with Ramona. Until now, I had just taken a guess as to how to pronounce her last name! My only regret was not asking about why she uniquely formats her posts the way she does. Maybe today or tomorrow.
And, finally, Jim Cash takes us on a coding trip. It comes as no surprise, I hope, that I would want to invite a coding blogger to the event.
Jim describes an activity that he uses with students to draw geometric figures on the screen. I congratulated him on not doing the square example that you see so often. Students need to know that there are angles other than 90 degrees.
If we stopped there, there really isn’t anything that distinguishes this post from so many of the others that you might have seen with drawing using Scratch.
But, Jim takes it over the top from there.
He describes about how he talks to the student about the program and, in particular, the mathematics involved. In Jim’s class, just drawing something doesn’t mean being done. The student needs to be able to describe what she’s done.
It doesn’t stop there.
Students are then moved to their blog where they write a post about their activity.
“I’m going to write my blog post now,” Marie said. She knew that was always part of the process and a reflective blog post was a requirement not only for consolidation but also for later reflection during a future time when this experience could be used, transferred, incorporated, remixed, and so forth.
If you’re using Scratch in the classroom, read this post and see how you can raise the bar with your own teaching. You’ll be glad you did.
If you weren’t in the audience at Minds on Media or, even if you were, please click through and drop off a comment to these wonderful bloggers. They accepted the challenge and all did a marvelous job.
If you’re a blogger yourself, put yourself in their shoes. They’re sitting in the “hot seat” – on one screen is an image of our questions; on the other screen there’s their actual blog post and we’re asking/talking about their thinking in front of a group of their peers.
My thanks to them for taking the risk and being part of this. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I hope that they did too.