This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Sit down, grab a chair and get ready, er, grab a chair, sit down and get ready for some great blog reading from Ontario Educators.

The Maker Movement: It’s about ‘making up’ your own mind

At the Bring IT, Together Conference, Peter Skillen and I had a chat about various things. One of the topics was about the wide variety of resources and opinions about good pedagogy.  Some are absolutely great and best of breed.  Some others are not as good and may miss the point.

In this post, Peter tries to address this by helping frame the concept of “making”

The maker movement is not only about making with electronics and coding. Building poems, art, music, mathematical solutions, etc. are all part of the maker movement. This interactive conversation will unpack how to create knowledge-building classrooms where students are empowered with “making up” their own minds.

and then providing a very nice collection of resources to support this concept.  If you know of Peter and his passion, you know that these will be the best of the best.

Spicy Snacks: On Daughters

It’s tough, as a parent, to turn on the news and take in the latest of the news stories.  If you’re a parent, part of the deal is how to grapple with this and explain it to your children.

Royan Lee has two daughters …

I have two daughters and they are the best in the world. They are courageous, kind, and don’t take crap from anyone (least of all me). I worry about them and all of our daughters.

The post features some great “spicy things” that support his concerns.

What’s nice is that Lisa Noble replied to Royan’s post and shares an equally as worthwhile link to read.

ECOO 2017: building your Edtech house on shifting ground

Earlier this week, I had shared my thoughts about this post from Tim King.

About software and branding

I stand by my thoughts in that post and I find it sad that we’re still having to have this conversation.  Wouldn’t you think that we would have come closer together in thoughts?

I’m sure that you have a thought about this; after all if you’re reading this, you’re a technology using educator.  Can you solve all the ills of the computer education world?  If so, read Tim’s post and drop off your solution via comment.

A Remembrance Day to Remember

This was a year for some very elaborate Remembrance Day observances.  Around here, there were horses and a huge collection of service people.  It was the biggest one that I can recall.

It was a first for Susan Bruyns in her new school.  In the post, she describes how the event played out at Sir Arthur Currie.

Despite the observances, it’s important to remember the message.  Susan captures it so well in the post.

We honour those who lost their lives in battles, who never had the chance to return to their children. We honour those who are currently fighting battles, who pray each day that they will be able to return to their children.  But more importantly we focus on Peace in the hopes that our children will never know the pain of loss of a parent as a result of war.

This reinforces the importance that we continue to remember in our communities and in our schools.

Web Content into OneNote

Taking notes on computer has always been a challenge for me.  I think I’ve tried them all – Evernote, Notes, Text Edit, and I’m currently revisiting OneNote.

I look forward to posts from Cal Armstrong about some tip for using OneNote that I might possibly use.  He takes the concept past the simple Post-It note sticker of years gone past, to be sure.

In this post, she takes about putting Web Content into OneNote using not one but three different approaches.

  • OfficeLens
  • OneNote Web Clipper
  • Microsoft Edge browser

I like the flexibility that his approaches shows and will be trying these out to see if they somehow are the silver bullet for note taking that meets my needs.

Don’t Tell Me What the Learners Are Doing

I felt a little bit like I was baited and switched in this post from Terry Greene.  He started out talking about the Open Faculty Patchbook.

It’s an open, online book where post-secondary instructors reflect on their practice.  I rather enjoyed reading the content.  The “Sheets Ain’t Cheats” story was a great description of me as a brand new teacher.  So many hours wasted memorizing lessons so that I could come across as educated and knowledgeable in front of the class without referring to notes.

I’ll bet that you find a story or two in there that describes your professional life.  I enjoyed it and was really impressed with the design and accessibility.  Then, I remembered that I had just been distracted by a click in the first paragraph and went back to the original post.  I was just so impressed by educators that were showing their openness in reflecting on their practice.

But, back to the post, Terry had changed the lay of the land.  He wanted more – he was more interested in learning how students thought they learned, not about teachers thinking about how they teach.


Are we clear with all stakeholders about why we are posting to social media?

Let’s be truthful.  The answer is clearly no.  Do we even know who “all the stakeholders” are?  Jennifer Casa-Todd uses this inquiry as an opportunity to respond and shares it in this post.

I was hoping you could help direct me.  I have small children in preschool and the school uses social media for their marketing purposes.  While a highly effective marketing strategy, I’m concerned with their lack of guidelines, considering small children are involved.  Do you have any resources you could direct me to which would help highlight do’s and don’ts in using social media as an advertising technique in schools?

Follow any school or teacher or district that uses social media for this purpose and look at it critically and you might want to answer that yourself based upon your observations.

Read the post to see how Jennifer responds.  Do you agree?

Speaking of Jennifer, she was the first “Featured Blogger” on the new ECOO website.   You can find more about her and what she considers her top five blog posts here.

I hope that you stuck with me as I looked at these very powerful blog posts.  There’s always something going on with Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take the time to click through and read the original posts in their entirety and drop a comment or two. These authors will appreciate it.

And, make sure that you follow these authors on Twitter.

If you can, join Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio on Wednesday mornings or repeated through the week where we use some of these posts as a launching point for discussions.


OTR Links 11/24/2017

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

Nothing’s ever permanent

at least around here when it comes to technology.

In a world where Internet Explorer was king, I always found that I moved over to Netscape as a browser.  Then, it moved to Firefox.

For the longest time, my world featured Firefox as my browser of choice.  Excellent addons, it had the greatest of compatibility features when browsing, it seemed to be just perfect.

Then, it seemed to get slow and sluggish.  In hindsight though, I wonder if it really did get slow.  Perhaps it was that the other browsers that I had at my disposal got faster.  The other browsers pretty much settled in to be Google Chrome and Opera.  I felt someone loyal to Firefox and kept it around but, quite frankly, it seemed to just feel old.

Then, I read about the new Firefox, named Quantum.

From curiosity, and because it’s what I do, I downloaded and started to play with the Beta versions.  It immediately felt more modern.  It claimed new features and new speed.  I don’t know if I was just a sucker for the advertising but it really did seem to have speed.  I became a sucker for news stories like this – Firefox Quantum vs Chrome:  Which is Faster?  

There was, however, one thing that kept me from switching.  I do have a collection of addons that make any browser mine.  Firefox had changed the rules for the creation of addons and there was no support for legacy code.  Things like this happen when a technology embraces new standards.  It leaves you holding the bag and you have to decide what to do.  I tracked down the addons that I regularly use and noted that they were going to be updated.  This is good so I kept Quantum on my radar.

Then, it was release day and I upgraded my Beta to Release code.  Happily, a couple of the last addons that weren’t available now were!

The performance is indeed fast.  I supposed I could run the benchmarks and prove it to myself but I’m not feeling the need to.  In reality, it’s the user experience that drives the use and I’ll tell you this user is liking what he sees.

So, Firefox Quantum has taken over my computer and I’m pretty happy.  As they say, the ball is now in Chrome and Opera’s court.

When increased performance comes along, typically developers up their game to get back the interest in a particular product.  Ultimately, we will all be winners.

In the meantime, I’m now a sucker for articles like this – How to tweak the new Firefox 57 Quantum browser to suit your preferences

OTR Links 11/23/2017

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

Convert them back

I don’t know who said it but I remember someone saying once that “PDF Files are where good ideas go to die”.

The meaning and you’ve probably done it yourself is that you take a document, say Microsoft Word and save or print it to PDF format.  It’s a common way to share a document with others and guarantee that everyone will be able to read it.  There’s another advantage – once it’s in PDF format, nobody can change the contents of the document.

But suppose you wanted to?

There are lots of ways; I know that I have a copy of Adobe Acrobat handy to do the deed.  There are other tools and typically you have to have a copy of some piece of software on your computer to help with the task.

But in the world of the Chromebook, software installation may not be an option.  What to do then?

Turn to the web.

Here’s one solution – Free Online OCR

It’s a simple concept.  Upload your PDF file and get a .docx file back in return.


There are other alternative that you can find in the FAQ.  The ability to change the language may be helpful as well.

When I tested it, I didn’t get a completely perfect conversion but the resulting .docx file was easily edited to put it back in its original form.

I did have a practical need for this; I had a PDF file that I created a long time ago and actually needed to get the original.  Not having it available, the service was of immediate help.

OTR Links 11/22/2017

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

Prompting with emojis

On Sunday, my morning reading included this post – Creative Writing with Emoji Prompts.  I thought it to be a cool concept.  Personally, I don’t tend to use emojis when I’m creating things but I recognize that many do.

And, for our students, it’s just a natural thing for them.  I thought I’d share it and tuck it away for myself if I ever need to revisit the concept.  As soon as the sun was up, Jaimie and I were out to put some steps behind us.  At a stop on the way, Jaimie gets to go off leash and release his inner inquiry.  Dog noses are amazing.  Not wishing to rush him, I pulled out my phone and re-read the blog post.  I still like the concept so I had time; I thought that I’d try out the link that was provided.  Sadly, it didn’t work!

A quick search and I found it.  I shared that new link just in case others had read the original message, tried it, got frustrated, and gave up.  In my mind, there are lots of reasons why you’d want to try this as a way of inspiring writers.

And, I tried it out…


It works as promised and deals up random emoji.  As I was worried that the original author had taken down the app, I wondered about alternative ways to generate a string of emoji.  And, perhaps even have a bit more control over what appears.

Here’s a great resource – iEmoji bills itself as an emoji keyboard for computers.  What would my American friends use, given this time of year?


Oh yes!  This works nicely too.

But you don’t even have to stray that far.  The options may be sitting there in your favourite word processor.  Just look to “insert” them.

Microsoft Word Online


Google Doc


The nice thing about having access and being connected is that there are often options to fit everyone’s different needs.