This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday.  Check out some great articles from Ontario Edubloggers.

Tweeting as an Organization

I think I’ve been insulted by this post from Royan Lee.

I’m part of the group that he calls an “underground party of misfits”.  Well, maybe it’s a badge of honour instead of an insult?  I can remember fighting to get Twitter unblocked; I can remember trying to get people see the value of connecting and learning on Twitter.  I probably failed more than succeeded at the time.  I’ll bet there are lots of dormant accounts.  In a technology world, we expect to get immediate gratification.  I’m sure that not all people “got it” at the time.  Success only comes when you work it.

As Royan correctly continues, things have certainly changed over the years.  I have to smile when I see people who “don’t want to see a picture of what you had for lunch” now becoming active.  What does it mean as an organization though?  Used properly, I think that it is absolutely the sign of an organization that is growing and learning together.  But, to be effective, it has to be more than just retweeting thoughts of others.  Are members also reflecting and creating new knowledge?  Are they sharing their professional reading and learning as a result?  Are they recognizing the best practices?  Are they promoting the great things that their colleagues are doing?

We Just Clicked

And, if you want to see it in action, check out this post from Diana Maliszewski.

I’ve mentioned so many times about how it can be lonely within a school.  Going outside the physical walls, using social media and the power of its connections, can result in amazing things.

You’ve got to check out this post – complete with a collection of Twitter messages to validate her message – and use it to convince anyone who questions the value of being connected.  When you make stellar connections like this, there’s no stopping you.

Diana definitely reinforces the message that you don’t need to learn alone.

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

Maybe this is the place to start.  Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a blueprint for success that begins at the humble staff meeting.

How many of these will you suffer your way through during your career?  This is a plan for engagement of staff who perhaps expected another sit and git and listen to the reading of recent memos.

Could it change the culture in your school?

Could it model what could be done if you decided to bring the concept into your own classroom?

Could it be a lesson for a principal’s course?

Conversations about parent-teacher interviews

It really is the season.

Here, Sheila Stewart pulls together older blog posts from Nancy Angevine-Sands, Rusul Alrubail, and me about our thoughts on parent-teacher interviews.  There were some interesting points about the process.  It might serve well as an inspiration or refresher before the next event.  Most teachers are getting ready for them over the next few weeks in the province.

Design Process Thinking: Mind Mapping

I’m a big fan of Mind Mapping.  I’ve used many mind mapping tools over the years and have had a lot of favourites.  Maybe it’s the fact that I learned how to program and document coding with flowcharts but the essence of what can be done is so powerful.  Consequently, I really enjoyed this post from Colleen Rose.

What was so powerful about this post, after setting the context, was Colleen sharing some of the mind maps that her students created and then reflected on each.

These show real evidence of complex thinking and connections.  Check them out.

Analyzing a Bike Rim in 5 Days

Alex Overwijk is on a mission to bring the practical and just plain fun and engaging activity into his MHF course.  It involved a trip to the local bicycle store for manipulatives and he effectively set the table for the students to “discover and experience more of the Trigonometry in the course”.

My original intent for this activity was to redo the radian plate activity and the radian war activity from this site. This is where I have grown. I am thinking what else can I do with this (thank you #MTBOS for #WCYDWT) This post reflects my creative juices in squeezing curriculum out of an activity. Hope you enjoyed. Honestly – this activity feels like what I envisioned for a spiraled course and wrote about back in 2013. #makeitstick #spiraling #activitybasedlearning #interleaving

The post is, in effect, a very complete lesson plan for the activity.  It can’t help but be a great deal of fun and learning for the students.

Why 50?

Have you ever wondered why the Bring IT, Together conference has 50 minute sessions?  Read this post to find out.

How’s that for a start to your Friday morning.  Great posts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and read the entire posts.

Have a great weekend.

OTR Links 10/21/2016

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

Why wouldn’t you use the tools you can?

You can’t know everything and nobody should be criticized for using the best tools to get the answer to your question.  

The tool that many people use is, of course, Google.  And, we know that’s not the only tool at our request – Lycos, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo!, and so many more.  Go to your browser settings to see all that are currently available and how to add more if your favourite isn’t there upon installation.

People’s use of these things can generate answers and, perhaps at times, a smile.

For the smile, check out this story.  “How-To Questions Each State Googles More Frequently Than Any Other State”  It’s fun to take a virtual tour of the US and I feel sorry for those in Michigan.  And, for those in Florida, head north.

As I smirked and toured around, it struck me how we have come to rely on things online to generate answers for us.  Suppose you’re sitting in a train station and a question comes to mind.  Certainly, you can’t turn to the person sitting next to you on a bench for a guaranteed reliable answer.  You have no idea what level of expertise they might have.  They might give you a wrong answer.  Or, they might give an answer based upon a popular misconception.  

Of course, the same problem might exist if you go online but the joy of different searches and multiple results let you validate any answer before proceeding.  Try asking the person at the train station for a second opinion.

What brought all of this to my mind was a problem that I had yesterday.  Actually, two problems!

First, I’d been reading about people using Ubuntu 16.10, their experiences and how Unity 8 was now available for preview.  I found this kind of bizarre because I hadn’t even been notified that the update was available for my system.  It’s not that I wasn’t happy with 16.04 but I like to play around with new things.  What to do?  What to do?  

Certainly, I could go and download a copy, put it on a USB and try it/install it.  But, I shouldn’t have to do that.  One of the powerful things about Ubuntu is being able to upgrade in place.  (Then, go and install a fresh copy later if needed)  Why wasn’t I notified?  As I pondered, my mind was filled with screen shots and I remembered one.

Right at the very bottom is an option of when to be notified of any new versions.  With 16.04, I had explored this and somehow had left it to only notify me of any new long-term supported versions.  A quick change to the new version, run the updater again, and voila.  16.10 was indeed available for me.  I felt pretty darn good for problem solving, and even better that my memory was still intact.

Then, something more difficult happened.  As I ran the installer, I got an error message.  It was kind of cryptic.

Can not run the upgrade. This usually is caused by a system where /tmp is mounted noexec. Please remount without noexec and run the upgrade again.

This, I had no memory or recollection of.  Temporary directories exist on all systems and sometimes even within a directory of an application.  I most certainly would have had no need to go and mount it as noexec.  So, I wouldn’t have had a clue as to how to reverse it.

How would I solve this?

The only other breathing thing in the room was the dog waiting to go for a walk.  I had intended to do the download and installation while we were out and then be ready to go when we got back.  

I knew, from a high level, what needed to be done to solve my current problem.  It’s not major surgery but does require modifying attributes to the directory. 

So, like the folks in Nevada, I needed advice on how to survive this apocalypse.  Hello, my little online helpers.




I was concerned a bit about the last one figuring the answer would be to upgrade to Windows 10.

There were some areas of comfort here.

First, I wasn’t the only person who had ever had this situation.  There were lots of questions about it and the situation wasn’t new to 16.10.  

Secondly, the same results appeared highly (2730 in Bing, 1780 in Google) so the problem/results appeared to be validated.  

Normally, I would be cautious about doing something like giving a directory executable permissions.  But, Ubuntu wanted it and there were lots of articles to support the concept.  I opened a terminal, copy and pasted the text, and ran the upgrade.  

I’m here this morning typing this to let you know that I’m starting to catch on to this computer thing.

With help from the community of course.

So, in response to the questions asked in the original article, “There are no dumb questions”.

OTR Links 10/20/2016

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

A tale of three contracts

Collective agreements between worker groups and their employers have been in the news at various levels this past while.  Every employee wants to be compensated fairly and the agreements ensure that, as well as ensuring that the employer can count on effective and reliable work.  Agreements outlines the conditions of work, level of pay, and benefits.

I find it very interesting to read the news stories and the message from the media about each.  The newspaper also has the option to comment on the story and that can be interesting in itself and telling of the local community.  Used properly, it can be a place to get thoughtful discussion.  Used improperly, the trolls appear.

Here are three that I followed with some interest.

FCA workers vote in favour of new deal; Ford next

A huge employer with a huge workforce in three Ontario locations, including Windsor.  Ratification on an agreement happened over the weekend giving raises, signing bonuses, and a promise of a $325M investment in updating a paint shop in Brampton.  This will ensure that products will continue to be produced in Ontario.  Lately, a big investment was made in the Windsor plant to build the new Pacifica.  As a former owner of two Caravans, it’s a beautiful update.  You’d think that the workers would be pleased but the agreement only had 70% agreement.  The comments to the article give a public forum for workers and also people in the community to have their thoughts on the agreement.  Not all is postive.

Catholic school board strike disrupts some classes with picket line delays

On the heels of the successful agreement and ratification of the FCA deal, comes news that custodians, secretaries, clerical workers, technicians and maintenance workers for the local Catholic School Board have withdrawn their services.  They have been without an agreement in place for a couple of years and have decided that enough is enough and have moved to the next level.  In advance of the withdrawal of services, the board indicated that any student who didn’t cross the picket line would be marked absent.  While there are no talks scheduled, management will be doing their best to keep the facilities clean but they can only go so far.  

County treasurer projecting budget surplus for 2016

Normally, you would think that this is a good news story until you read why.  Some of the surplus comes from the fact that the county librarians have been on strike since June.  For residents, it’s been a summer without a place to get your traditional summer reads.  There doesn’t appear to be any end in sight over this one; even an attempt at mediation of both sides have failed.  As part of the public awareness plan, the local library is on the list for rotating strikes by librarians.

Now, nobody denies that anyone should be compensated fairly for their efforts.  It’s interesting that big business can somehow find a way to reach a collective agreement and also invest heavily in infrastructure to ensure continued success.  Literacy and education, things that I and I know many hold near and dear to our hearts, isn’t treated nearly as well.  Obviously, we won’t know the final details as negotiations are technically ongoing, but I’d be willing to bet that the librarians aren’t asking for a $325M new library in one of the communities to ensure jobs into the future.

OTR Links 10/19/2016

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

An internet simulator

I’ve been working my way through’s CS Principles widgets and having a terrific time.  There has been some great thought and originality put into the design and implementation of the individual widget. 

I’ve worked my way down to the Internet Simulator.

If you’re interested, you’ll undoubtedly be advised to read the lesson plans first.  These not simple activities without some background and understanding but then the internet isn’t a simple thing to begin with!

This is a great simulator to gets hands on and learn about internet communications.

If you’re teaching the concepts, you’ll definitely want to add this to your toolkit.