OTR Links 12/11/2016


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

What next?


Hopefully, everyone is relaxing from a successful Hour of Code event in your school as part of Computer Science Education Week.

Students learn so much about coding and each other; teachers learn so much about coding and their students.  

There’s something extra special about being able to apply your skills to make your computer or robot or device do something on your command.

Once you get success, you want more.

So, a good question is “What comes next after the Hour of Code?”

As I mentioned previously, I truly hope that this isn’t a one hour activity that you check off and then move on.  That defeats the whole purpose and reduces what could be a fascinating experience to just some unit that’s done out of context of the bigger picture.

Indeed, what does come next?

This will be unique for everyone but hopefully it’s forefront in your mind.

Some ideas:

  • expand on the concepts of your hour.  Could coding or the thinking behind it become a regular routine used for problem solving and analysis in the class?
  • start a school computer coding club
  • bring in guest speakers from the community to talk about how coding is important for them
  • take a look at other Hour of Code activities – not necessarily to learn another language but to get ideas about what sort of problems lend themselves to computer solution
  • join the ACSE Community – Association for Computer Studies Educators – a really helpful group of Ontario Computer Studies teachers whose goal is to help each other become better and more connected Computer Studies and Computer Technology teachers
  • check out the new Edugains resources for Coding in Elementary schools

Whatever you do, don’t stop.  Computers are everywhere in society and the sooner that students recognize that they can be in control with their set of skills, the better.

Stay tuned to the recent announcement from Ontario Ministry of Education who has committed to support schools with $150 Million dollars over the next three years.

My Hour of Code 2016 collection can be found here.

OTR Links 12/10/2016


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As I wandered around the Ontario Edublogger community recently, some of the stories stood out for me.  I’m happy to share them here.


Teaching Visual Art and Computational Thinking

Michelle Cordy ties these two concepts together in a post that

includes a 5 minute video, a lesson plan and examples of student that show integration of visual art curriculum and Computational Thinking in my grade 3 classroom.

Given the source for inspiration of the concepts, it’s not surprising that she makes reference to Keynote, iMovie, and Swift Playgrounds but the concepts are certainly transferable to your own reality if you don’t have access or a desire to use these products.

The post is rather long but includes all kinds of good stuff, including links to the Ontario Curriculum, classroom concepts, homework, all tied together in a nicely designed lesson plan.  Even if you don’t use her actual lesson, I think that it’s a terrific exemplar as to how to design a lesson using technology.


CREATE A SAFE SPACE FOR STUDENTS TO BE HEARD: A WORKSHOP

Rusul Alrubail shares a post outlining a workshop that she shared with students at The Hun School of Princeton students in New Jersey.

I love this quote that she includes to draw us in to read the entire post.  Maybe all bloggers and sharers should adopt this philosophy.

The workshop focused on storytelling and she includes these nuggets

  • Share your own story
  • Define words
  • Regroup & Share
  • Reflection Time
  • Share & Takeaways

In the post, she elaborates on these concepts, along with suggested timelines, for the workshop.

I think this is a good reference for teachers in so many ways.  Perhaps you’re leading a workshop yourself or you’d just like to address the concepts in your classroom.

Bookmark this one.  I probably say that to most of her stuff.


Occasional Teacher Trainings

Could there be a more challenging part of the teaching profession than that of the Occasional Teacher?  The cover someone else’s class, teach someone else’s students, and then move on.  The lucky ones may get a chance to cover for a long term leave.  Generally, though, it’s a day to day profession.  It’s one that I never had to take on myself; I was fortunate enough to get my own classroom and students right out of the Faculty of Education.

At Edcamp Ottawa, they took on this topic and Amy Bowker uses this blog post to give us the details.

We are sending around the below form to ask you what you want to learn about. We are hoping to put together a bunch of sessions that will help OT’s learn relevant information to help them in their future classrooms and with their future students. We are only collecting your email so we can email you when we figure out when these sessions will be.

Hopefully, the results will be placed online.  I’m sure that many Occasional Teachers would benefit.


Grrrr.  There’s nothing worse than the batteries in your keyboard going dead in the middle of a post.

Five Minutes later – OK, I’m back with fresh power.


Spatial Reasoning and Student Success

Deborah McCallum offers another nice post tying content from the Ontario Ministry of Education supporting her notion of Spatial Reasoning.

Those of us who love Mathematics have known for a long time the power of this sort of reasoning.  It helps to understand the sometimes pretty abstract concepts.

So, I read on nodding about her references to mathematics.  She’s nailed it.

But, I didn’t see her conclusion coming and it makes a great deal of sense.

To me, I think this behooves us to ensure we have access to makerspaces – regardless of where they are located in our schools – to promote visual spatial reasoning skills.


The Octopus of Events

If you’ve never worked centrally for a school district, you may not necessarily understand the message in Eva Thompson’s post.  But I sure did.  It brought back memories of the challenges of trying to work equitably with all schools.  I used to use the analogy of trying to keep a whole collection of corks under water.  I know that’s not original but I think that it’s the reality when you have so many different schools, locations, schedules, and quite frankly, culture.

I know that, for administrators, they like to think that every school is the same.  But, if your job is to visit each and every school, you know that they all have their unique identities.  I would suggest that that makes for the best situation; one size definitely doesn’t fit all.

I was also there when two school district amalgamated into one.  There were definite cultural differences there.

But you forage on – once you understand and work at it, it does get better.  I had to smile at her summary though.

I’m trying to find the best common denominator with 12 secondary schools in two counties. The school day/bells are close, but have some overlaps. They have different school events in terms of  sports, assemblies, trips, visitors. Travel time from one zone to another can be up to an hour in length. This makes it challenging to find a day and time that works for most. I won’t even attempt to write “all” because you truly can’t please everyone!  Add in promotion, posts, permission forms, money collection, confirmation calls, invoices, cheques, budgets, and if I throw in more than one department to work together, then all those octopus arms are moving around at once!


Turn the “Hour of Code” into the “Year of Learning”

As you read this, Computer Science Education Week 2016 is on its last days.  I hope that everyone has had a chance to do something.  More than that, I hope that people are asking themselves ‘What Next?”.

It would not be a success if the statement was “I’m glad that’s over”.

Jim Cash is helping the cause by curating a collection of Scratch activities that he’s calling Mathland Challenges.

This is definitely worth the bookmark and activity for students.  Don’t let the Hour of Code concept die over the weekend.


The Teaching Hub: Post 15, Week 14

The Teaching Hub at Fleming College is always full of great content and ideas to keep the curious up to date on the happenings there.  This issue continues with that.  There’s some really interesting things.  Some of the things are hidden behind a login so that can be frustrating.  I really wanted to check out the “pretty laid-back College Department of the Week competition”.

But, of academic interest was reference to the Open Textbook Project.

I suspect that many might be interested in this sort of approach.  They’ve broken their analysis down into 18 key points.  They’re well worth reading and understanding for their project – maybe your own project – just for any resource that you may elect to acquire.


There’s lots of great thinking, ideas, and resources here.  Please take a few moments to click through and discover just what is happening.  You won’t be disappointed.

Then, check out the big list of Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always some great thinking happening.

OTR Links 12/09/2016


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

A puzzle to start your day


Here’s a little ditty to get your brain cells working this morning.

It’s called the Hour Maze.

The rules are pretty simple.  You have the numbers 1 through 12 that you have to put into the maze.  Select a number and then click on an empty cell.  In the early levels, you need to use each number twice.  Don’t worry; if you breeze through the early levels, it gets much, much more challenging later on.

The only catch when you’re putting the numbers in place is that they have to be surrounded by a number that would be next to it on a clock face.

Keep in mind that the number 1 is next to the number 12 at the top of the clock.

Isn’t logic fun?

OTR Links 12/08/2016


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