This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and a time for a blogging tour of the province.  You don’t have to look any further for the good stuff than that created by Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I read and had stick lately.


Letting Go Again

We often hear that “students own the learning” and adjust the classroom to honour that.  It’s great to read about those who now respect that philosophy and adjust things accordingly.  But, the learning is the only thing that happens in the classroom community.  There are all kinds of other things that make for a smooth running environment.  Aviva Dunsiger itemizes some of the things that come to her mind in this post and then, in Aviva fashion, asks questions and wonders…

I can’t help but wonder (now she’s got me doing it) if this isn’t a good activity for everyone to do with their own classroom.  Sure, the students own the learning but who owns every other element for success?  Isn’t that part of the learning as well?  Why not treat it as such?  If there ever was a “call to action” post to refine your classroom, this is it.


Bringing Back 10 Posts

Speaking of calls to action, check out Tina Zita’s latest.  If you need that shove to get consistent with your blogging or even starting, consider opting in to her 10 posts in 10 days challenge.

It may sound daunting but it really shouldn’t be.  She’s not asking you to write the next great epic novel.

Just jot down 10 things and turn them into 10 posts and away you go.  You don’t even have to commit 10 days if you are busy.  You could write 10 posts in one sitting or spread them out a bit and schedule them to appear for 10 days in a row.

The key is just to do it.  It will make you grow as a thinker and blogger.  You have that special genius that makes things work in your classroom or you have observed 10 things that you’d like to write about.  Why not do it?

It might just be the start of something beautiful.


Equation Strips

David Petro shares a very interesting lesson plan for Grade 7s involving a method to visualize linear equations.

In Ontario our grade 7 students are introduced to solving simple equations in the form ax + b = c where the values of a, b and c are whole numbers. We think it’s a good idea for them to start by having some sort of visual representation of each equation. In this activity, students are given 16 cards that correspond to 16 equations represented as strips (the top and bottom of the strips represent the left and right sides of the equations). Students solve for x given the strips and then rewrite the algebraic form equation.

I’ll bet that so many use a graph as the first option when dealing with this topic.  This is an alternative that might well turn into a quicker understanding of the concept.

Resources included!

I like the concept for classrooms and it’s a terrific example for all as to how to share resources via Google Drive and FirstClass.


Listen and Be Honest

Powerful advice is included in this post from Sue Dunlop.  She’s honest and open about her position in life.

The post will hopefully give you pause to think about this topic.

Sue provides a nice collection of relevant links to support her position.


REFLECTIONS ON #YRDSBQUEST

From the KNAER-RECRAE blog, a look at the YRDSBQUEST event through the eyes of Melinda Phuong, an intern with the organization.

If you weren’t able to attend, check out what caught her attention.

  • RECONCILIATION WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF CANADA
  • A STUDENT MESSAGE ON REFUGEES
  • REFUGEE EDUCATION
  • A CULTURE OF “YES” TO BRING BACK THE JOY OF LEARNING
  • ISSUE + GIFT = CHANGE
  • DEEP LEARNING ON AN INTERNATIONAL SCALE
  • ACCESSIBLE LEARNING
  • LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

Do Cuts Hurt?

Unlike Matthew Morris, there were times when I did get cut from a particular sporting team.

I do remember the teams that I did make though and, if I think hard about it, some of the ones that I didn’t.  There were also teams that I just didn’t try out for.  They were just not for me.  I specifically remember football and the irony that I ended up coaching it at secondary school.  It’s a unique sport; I don’t think we ever cut anyone.  It’s nice to have big numbers for practices.  Where the real issue kicks in is when you realize that you really have to work hard at getting everyone in to play during the season.  There are other sports that never existed when I was in school as well.  I’m thinking about skipping in particular.  A friend of mine has a son who really excels at competitive skipping.

Some sports will take every body that shows up and that’s great for inclusion.  But, as Matthew notes, there are some sports where only a limited number make the team.  His observations of watching students come to see if they “made it” are a real POV for educators.  I’ll bet that he’d appreciate comments about how you handle the situation in your reality.


Do students think we should be using social media in school?

Jennifer Casa-Todd finishes off a post that she’d started earlier.  It was about the use of social media in school.  She admits that her sample may be skewed but that’s OK.  It was interesting to see her statistics and analysis of it.  I thought that the comments were interesting.

As I read the responses, I can’t help but wonder if these are original thoughts from students or are they parroting when they hear from their teachers or parents or other media.

There’s a link in the post that is supposed to go to a summary but does go instead to her questionnaire.  It’s worth clicking through to see what was asked and, if Jennifer reads this post, hopefully, she’s share the link to results with us.


Yet again, this has been for me another wonderful collection illustrating the great thinking that goes on throughout the province.  Please click through and show each some blogging love with a comment or two.

OTR Links 01/20/2017


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

A place for your photo


When I played around with this site, I found that I was retroactively kicking myself.

How many times, when you visit this blog, do you see this image?

At times, when doing presentations, I’d find that I’d want that image (or any other) placed neatly inside a bigger image.  Since the presentation was always about something technical, it’s always nice to see your image on a computer screen.  

My typical routine would be to take that computer or phone image and bring it into Gimp or Photoshop and then add a layer with that image on top.  Then the tweaking, resizing, rotating, etc. would begin as I would spend all kinds of time trying to get it right.  Imagine actually spending that time on content…

If I’d only know about Placeit.

In seconds, rather than minutes or more, I could have an image that looked like this.

The process is simple.  Pick the picture you want and then upload your image to their template when prompted.

The selection of devices is amazing.

And you could scroll for even more.  Not interested in a computer image?  Picture yourself on a t-shirt or any of the other options.

As you could imagine, this is largely a commercial site.  But, if you’re in the need for large, high quality images, you might find the cost worth it to replace the time that you would normally spend tweaking!  There is a free option if you can live with smaller images.

 

OTR Links 01/19/2017


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

Interactive Maps


Over the weekend, I ran into this story

How to make awesome interactive map using Google Sheets in under 1 minute?

Of course, I had to share it with my friends.  It was interesting to see it being favourited and shared.

And, of course (2), I had to try it myself.  Here’s my result as an image.  I was really impressed with the stats popping up as you would mouse over various countries.

map

Did it take more than the minute promised?  Probably; I’m a slow reader.

It was fun and would have been the sort of activity that would have been done at a computer contact meeting.  There’s a lot there like finding and copying data, moving to a spreadsheet, copying it and then using the magic Google pixie dust to turn the data into the map.

I was ready to bookmark and move on when I got a message.  “Hey, Doug, we’re an Office 365 board and can’t use Google.  Will it work with Office 365?”

I didn’t know the answer right off but it seems like it should be possible.  I don’t have an Office 365 account so I can’t be sure on that platform but I do have my regular Microsoft account.  I decided to give it a shot and go pure Microsoft.  That meant using Windows and the Edge browser.

I didn’t get far before I ran into challenges.

The first challenge came after I selected the data from the Wikipedia article.  It copied all right but wouldn’t paste into Excel Online properly.  Instead of honouring the various cells, everything from that country pasted into the same cell.  This would take a lot of fixing to get right.  I tried a few times to see if it was something that I was doing wrong.  No dice.  Then, I opened a new sheet in Google Sheets and it pasted properly.  I copied again and pasted back into Excel and it went well.  So spreadsheet to spreadsheet was OK.

The second challenge came when I wanted to draw the map.  The selection of charts in Excel Online didn’t include an appropriate map.  There was this…

book-6-xlsx-microsoft-excel-online

It wasn’t the same.  I poked around and looked for some add-ins that might do the trick but I couldn’t find something that looked like it would do the trick.

I’m now well over a minute.

I turned to OneNote.  Bringing the data in generated an error that only 100 items could be pasted.  I went with a smaller set of data but couldn’t find a way to generate the map.

So, for this example, it looks like there was only one choice.

OTR Links 01/18/2017


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

A New Concept – Opera Neon


I find that it doesn’t hurt to try out new things that will challenge my way of thinking or doing things.  There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut.

Over the weekend, I had read about Opera Neon, a concept browser from Opera, and read their rationale that the web needs a new browser.  I was definitely intrigued so I immediately set off to download and check it out.

I installed the Macintosh version and was up and running in a few seconds.  And, in that few seconds, I realized that I was in a different world.

In my world, I turn off bookmark bars and status setting so that I get more room to read content rather than constantly scrolling.  So, I was really interested to see what would happen as the information indicate that Opera didn’t have tabs in the traditional sense.  Traditional tabs do take up screen real estate.

But before I got there, I experienced “newness” just in the setup.

Neon, rather than taking a traditional approach to a browser mimics a desktop.  In fact, you can bring in your desktop image as its background.  So, I did that.  Interestingly, like most browsers upon installation, you’re invited to bring in settings that are already there from another browser.  I expected to be able to import from Opera Next or Chrome since it’s based on the Chromium project.  Instead, the only option was to import from Firefox.  Not a problem.  I wonder if I had the actual production version of Opera that I could pull from there.  No matter.

And I was off.

My next step was to look for a few of things that I have come to rely on with Opera Next – Turbo Mode, ad blocking, and the VPN.  They don’t appear to be available.  That didn’t come as a big surprise; after all, it was a first download of a concept.  I did look to install some extensions – notably LastPass and Scribefire, two which I use daily.  Extensions aren’t available either.  OK, not a real problem, I can use WordPress’ internal editor and do an Option-Tab to copy and paste from Opera Next.  It’s still early days.

Instead of lamenting upon what wasn’t there, I decided to poke around to see what was there.  Exploring was really a pleasant experience.  Here’s a screen grab.

2017-01-16_0642.png

Regular browser users should notice a few things.

First of all, there are no tabs at the top of the screen.  Instead, take a look to the right side and you’ll see a number of bubbles.  These would correspond to the tabs that I would normally have open.  And, yes, you can have more than six.  I’d be dead in the water without all the tabs that I normally use.  Add more and you get scrollbars to go through them.  It was an interesting experience; I thought that I’d be scrolling forever but I wasn’t.  The latest used tab goes at the top and the browser works to identify the tabs that you use most and they bubble to the top.  I didn’t find the need to go looking; perhaps that says more about my untidy browsing habits.

On the left side, you’ll see a number of icons that let you quickly access media, crop part of the screen, check downloads, etc.  That’s a very nice touch; I often have to go searching for the features in the menu or use an extension.  As with Opera Next, videos can pop out and play while you go about your business.  If only I had fast enough internet access to truly enjoy that.

But look in the centre.  Here is where I was really blown away.  You have the ability to have side by side browser screens open.  That is a feature that I took to immediately.  When working in a Google document, it’s often so nice to have another resource handy.  In the screen capture, I have Monday’s post on the left and today’s editor on the right.  See how productive I can be?  The reality is that I might just have Twitter or Facebook open in one so that I don’t miss a thing!

The new tab takes on an interesting format for Opera’s Speed Dial.  The new address reminds me a bit of the Edge  browser.  But the floating bubbles for bookmarks stole my attention.

2017-01-16_0645.png

Click one and you’re on the site.

It was an interesting and yet uneasy tour of the browser.  I liked that there was so much new to explore and play with.  I didn’t like the frustration when I would reach for something that I would do in a traditional browser and it wasn’t there or worked differently.  I guess we just get engrained with a certain skillset.

If you don’t like any of your existing wallpapers, the Neon browser has a couple of new wallpapers “inspired” by Neon that you can download and use.  They are very well designed; I may end up using one of them eventually.

If you want to explore and possibly get thrown out of your comfort zone at the same time, download it for Windows/Macintosh from here.

Is this a look at the future of browsers?  In a world where every browser works essentially the same way to the end user, it was a refreshing experience.  I can’t wait to see where Opera takes it.