Collecting data

I got excited when I saw this article:

The Ultimate Guide to Data Collection in the Classroom

I’ve worked with people who talk about “data driven decisions” but really talk about it at the 10 000 foot level. People leave from talks like that frustrated since they often feel like the target was missed. That’s easy to happen when you have a generic talk but there are eager people who want to get to the practical.

If you follow the link in the article looking for the examples, you’ll end up at the Teachers Pay Teachers website with a broken link. (like I did). This link should be a bit more successful. This second link will take you to EducationWorld with a number of free templates.

The best advice from the original article was this

Before you can begin collecting any data, you need to know exactly what you are trying to learn from the data that will be gathered.

There’s a great deal of wisdom in that statement.

For purposes like data collection, it has me a hater disliker of the golden template and the distribution of it as the ultimate answer. No two teachers and no two classrooms are identical with the same needs and requirements.

I actually think that a better approach is to go beyond the “Big Idea” and consider that it’s time to get your hands dirty. Take a template if you must and truly analyse it to see if it does what you need and what you require. Then, spend some time making it yours. That will probably mean removing some suggestions and adding your own.

For those navel gazers and their 10 000 foot level approach, there needs to be a level of practicality. If your approach is to use a Spreadsheet for the task, the true value comes from showing how to customise the tool for the desired purpose, not just how to fill in the cells.

Once that’s mastered, then the original article has a nice collection of suggestions for collecting and using the data. But let’s not forget that the reason why there is a human in the room. It’s not to fill in a form for someone else, it’s to truly glean insights from planning and observation.

It works best when you have the perfect tool and only you can make that decision.

OTR Links 11/30/2019

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Black Friday, if you observe. There’s nothing discounted about the great posts coming from Ontario Edubloggers. You get full value for your reading.

Good Tree Stories

This week starts off with a post from Sheila Stewart. Maybe it’s a little less “education” than normal but it might make you look at your Christmas tree in a different way. She was inspired by a story about Halifax donating a tree to Boston which led her to thinking about trees in Kenora.

It got me thinking about Christmas trees in my life. As a kid growing up, it was always down to the trees sold by the Kinsmen and Kinettes. The tree had to be the perfect height with the perfect amount of symmetry. Lots of mathematics to consider when you’re freezing…

In our town, there’s always a big show as our natural tree is lit. The mayor, town crier, shooting of the town cannon, fireworks, hot chocolate, and of course the RiverLights.

These days, we’ve found the perfect solution for our rec room – an artificial tree which is absolutely symmetric. It makes the perfect backdrop for our Christmas picture.

If not now, then when?

From Rob Cannone, the best wisdom for professional learning.

With students, they learn something and immediately put it into practice. Can you imagine the disaster if you taught something and then didn’t get into projects, assessments, or any of that good stuff until a month or two later?

So, why as teachers, do you attend professional learning events and then not implement things right away?

Rob notes some steps that he feels should be done.

  • One thing at a time
  • Open the box
  • Share learning with others
  • Practice makes progress (accept it won’t be perfect)

His third point is even more important in this day and age. There was a time when you might learning something and then share it with a colleague in your school. With social media and its power, your best new learning partner just might be online.

Q is for Questions and Not Getting Caught in the Quagmire

From Lynn Thomas, another post that I thought moved nicely from kids to yourself in the argument that she builds.

We all remember our days at the Faculty of Education and the advice that we got about questioning – never ask a question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No”. Aim for something deeper and richer so that the student can provide evidence of learning.

Then, for me, the post took a turn.

When we ask questions of ourselves, do we aim for the richer questions or are we happy being able to respond “Yes” or “No” or ticked off on a to-do list? Or, updated to 2019, anything that can be answered quickly by a search engine.

Other than the fact that Quagmire also starts with a “Q”, I like her logic of avoiding getting stuck.


From the STAO blog, something a little different from Laura Collins. It’s actually a unit of study about birds and safety.

We have a couple of bird feeders in the back yard. We know that you have to reliably fill the feeder. We’ve learned about ways to avoid birds flying into windows. We’ve learned how to keep the squirrels off the pole. There’s so much more in this unit including the CN Tower.

And we get so excited to see Blue Jay, Cardinals, Woodpeckers. Squirrels, not so much.

There’s a real wealth of activities, literature, and learning opportunities here. Wow!

Most definitely shareworthy.

Guided Reading with Adolescent Readers

I thought that I was going to be like a fish out of water with the post from Deborah McCallum. After all, I didn’t teach reading. That’s for the younger years; by the time we got them in secondary school, they should know how to read, right?

But, are they all really accomplished readers?

Deborah points to a lack of extensive research in this area. In our voicEd Radio show, Stephen shared some of the challenges that he had as an adolescent reader. Do we make the assumption that because they’re older, they just are all natural readers or have at least mastered the skill successfully?

Deborah offers a few things to think about. Good for beginning readers but certainly worth keeping in mind for the older ones.

  • Low knowledge of vocabulary
  • Inadequate word recognition strategies
  • Lack of schemata or background knowledge to interpret text
  • Poor use of strategies to comprehend what they are reading

HTML/CSS with Canada Learning Code

My neck snapped when I read the title to this post from Alanna King. Then, I thought, we’ll turn her into a programming geek yet.

In a previous post, she mentioned how he was excited about learning about design and interface but now she’s rolled up her sleeves and is digging into code.

Her description of the activity matches the activities that we used to set up in our “Women in Technology” workshops for Grade 7/8 girls. There is something magical about looking behind the scenes to see exactly what’s going one. You might remember the inspirational “a pixel here, a pixel there”.

These days, there isn’t a huge need to be able to code many things from scratch since we have such great, purposeful editors to work with. And yet, there is the odd time when you need to look behind the scenes because something isn’t working just right. I can’t imagine how long it would take to write a blog post without an editor.

But, I still maintain, that’s not the ultimate goal. To be sure, the power behind programming and coding is knowing that you can absolutely be in charge of that page, that site, that device, that electronic thingy. Once you know, realise, and understand that, you can’t be pushed around by a wannabe or a particular device.

Learn and take charge – Alanna’s on a wonderful trip.

Equity Tech’quity

There’s real frustration in this post from Matthew Morris.

the kids in my classroom were in the middle of completing their short stories and the laptops they had been writing short stories on were booked – for the entire week. 

In his school, the supply doesn’t meet demand when it comes to technology and that’s the TLDR;

It’s the sort of thing that legitimately turns teachers off using technology in a meaningful, reliable way. Imagine any subject area where you can only do what you need to do every other Thursday if you remember to book things.

“We are teaching students born in the 21st century. We need to meet them on their plane.” Round of applause.

How many times have we heard this? Some self-important speaker on the speaking route commanding a fee that could otherwise have bought maybe 10 Chromebooks. Or, in Matthew’s case looking at a neighbouring board where a commitment to the concept has resulted in every student being given a device. I can understand the frustration.

Somewhere along the line, the people who allocate the dollars have to decide whether they’re prepared to fund a significant program or be happy with periodic low-level activities.

Thanks, once again, to these wonderful Ontario educators for blogging and sharing their thoughts. Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. And, make a blogger happy – leave them a comment.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @SheilaSpeaking
  • @mr_robcannone
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @staoapso
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @banana29
  • @callmemrmorris

This post originally appeared on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

OTR Links 11/29/2019

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

Outing the trackers

Earlier this month, I had written about Firefox and its new “Enhanced Privacy Protection”. If you follow me around, you know a couple of things:

  • I’m concerned about websites tracking me as I spend my time online reading various things. I want to be in charge and don’t want options that something or someone else has decided are good for me
  • I’ve used an advertising blocker for a long time. My current tool is uBlock Origin or the actual blocker built in and enabled in the browser I’m using

The browser I’m currently using is Opera and version 65 takes it to an interestingly new level. So, of course, I have its anti-tracking feature turned on. It’s actually the first thing you find in Opera’s preferences so you can’t miss it.

Now, that’s been around for a long time.

What’s new is the next step in openness. In the URL bar, there’s a little shield to let you know when blocking is active. It gets really interesting when you click on that shield.

I went to the landing page of a newspaper that I read online.

By this count, 23 ads and 10 trackers were blocked. Each of those would require a bit or a lot of bandwidth to download if they weren’t blocked. My internet access is slow enough as it is so I appreciate any opportunity to speed it up. In this case, by blocking. Opera claims “up to three faster” by using its tool.

I can’t confirm or argue the time claim except to note that it definitely appears faster when I load the page. And, maybe a calculated value isn’t all that significant; the fact that I think it’s faster is enough.

This window goes further.

When you click on the “List of blocked trackers”, you get a sense of just what is going on. Without this tool, I’d miss it completely.

At this time, because of the novelty and the ease to view this list, I’m spending time looking at what appears in this list. I recognize some but certainly not all of them. Just who owns them and what do they do?

All of this just affirms what I’m doing by using the blocking tools.

How about you?