Designing a new logo

This article caught my eye this morning.

How to use Canva’s text-to-image generator

I wondered if my beloved Minnesota Vikings might need a new logo. Probably not; there’d be another uproad.

But, my old employer might be interested.

Stuff hit the fan around here recently as a repost was presented to the board about school names, mascots, and logos.

Windsor-Essex public school board to consider renaming schools, changing mascots

We see this pop up now and again as districts take a look at what is in place. My old secondary school changed its logo. I totally agree with the decision that was made. Even when we were going to school a number of us weren’t comfortable with its branding.

Queen Victoria Public School was one of the schools with a logo that was reported as offensive. Maybe if the Minnesota Vikings were more like the description, they would still be playing.

I know the gentleman who designed the logos. He did what he was instructed to and the Queen Victoria logo certainly resembles Minnesota’s.

Now, he was an artist. The idea of typing a description and having a program generate an image for me was intriguing.

For laughs, I worked my way through the procedure in the Canva article above and asked for the artificial intelligence built into to it to create for me four “modern Vikings logos”. This is what came back.

I gave it a second shot with “A peaceful Vikings Logo”.

The results were definitely different.

You can go on and on asking Canva and TextToImage to draw various pictures, images, or sketches. Once you find one that you like, you just bring it into the regular Canva editing area and personalize it.

It’s a powerful tool and like all Artificial Intelligence, you have to be aware of GIGO. (Garbage In, Garbage Out)

Yes, I’m still impressed and will be filing this under tools that I might want to use. Until now, I had to rely on my own limited abilities. I now have an option.

How about you? Could you find something like this useful?


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was great getting back to the microphone for the radio show / podcast this week. After two weeks, the boom arm on my microphone was dusty and Stephen caught me cleaning it during the show…

Here’s what we talked about and a couple of bonus posts.

Hurting? Ask For Help!

I’m a big fan of how Cameron uses his blog as inspiration for students to write. And, because they’re writing on the blog, they’re truly writing for an audience.

This time, the topic was bullying and anti-bullying. Of course, he used the opportunity to remind students of

After setting the stage, the students had a choice of two ways to respond…

For your blog post this week you have two choices: 
1. I want you to imagine a student in grade five who is struggling with anxiety, stress, or bullying and write them a letter that you think could help them get through the tough times. 
2. Write a paragraph that explains your strategies or ways that you deal with stressful situations or tough times. 

The responses are honest and open and I thought really rich for a Grade 5 class. This is well worth checking out and maybe replicating in your class.

The Many Benefits of Mud Play

I remember, as a kid, playing in the mud and catching all kinds of heck when I got home. Things would be wild if I had been in Deanna’s classroom.

It didn’t come out in the post but parents are so supportive of students playing in the mud that they chipped in and bought a class set of boots. How’s that for support?

Deanna gives us a lovely description of what she’s expecting as teacher when the kids get muddy.

  • Playing with natural materials like mud and water help children build a relationship with nature.
  • Mud play encourages problem-solving and innovation.
  • Children explore many math concepts authentically through mud play
  • Mud play bolsters children’s oral communication.
  • Playing with dirt and mud strengthens children’s fine and gross motor skills.
  • Mud play appeals to sensory learners and can be a calming and enjoyable activity for many
  • Research shows that playing in the dirt can strengthen children’s health and immunity.

Each bullet point has a detailed description and pictures to show what it looks like in real life. Fun!

Deanna is so devoted to the concept that she’s written a book about it  Muddy Math: See, Think and Wonder.

Despite all this, there was room to grow. During the show, I got this message from Colleen Rose.

Mud = clay = ART CLASS!!!

Routine. Familiar. Customary. Methodical.

Elizabeth continues to find ways to attract my attention and wanting to read her blog posts. This time, it’s a series of four words all punctuated with periods.

I thought this was a very brave post to put out in the open. It’s one thing to talk about great things happening in your class but quite another to talk about challenges that you’re having. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have thought that her challenges would be where she identifies them, coming from a library position.

First of all, in the subject area where many people have challenges – mathematics – she seems to have wrapped it nicely into a routine fo the students.

  • Monday “Minds on”
  • Tuesday and Thursday “Roll and Write”
  • Wednesday “Number Talks”
  • Friday “Esti-Mysteries” from Steve Wybourney’s blog from Oregon

As an aside, the Esti-Mysteries was a real sinkhole for me. Great stuff!

The area where she identifies challenges is Literacy. That surprised me but here we are.

She’s working on building a framework for that class. I really love the openness in this post.

Icky But Interesting Facts About Poop

This is an incredibly important topic and everyone should be aware of it. Kudos to STAO for posting it to their blog.

Just the other night on the evening news, I saw a report about the growth in the number of cases of colorectal cancer. It’s scary.

Do yourself a favour and read this –

As noted in the blog, your body can tell you a lot about what’s going on and all that you have to do is look.

The post gives a short description of things to look for – what’s normal – and what could be happening.

Meet the PhDs

The podcast this week comes from Vicky Loras. Vicky is on her own way to earning a PhD and along the way she’s interviewing others who have already completed that journey.

This episode was with Dr. Thanassis Godelitsas.

I found his story very interesting. I guess, coming from education, I see most PhDs as those who completed a Bachelors’s and Masters’s degree and continuing in education. There was no straight path for Dr. Godelitsas and his bio as you’ll see on Vicky’s website shows studies in so many areas.

Beyond the content, it was interesting to listen to Vicky conduct the interview. She’s constantly prompting to keep the conversation alive. Unlike a few others, she doesn’t just give us a pat set of questions; she adjusts based on the conversation. It’s a nice style and if you’re a podcaster who interviews others, you could learn a lot just by listening.

NU#17 – Leading Teams These Days…

One of my superintendents was big in leadership and he did so many professional activities with us – because he wanted us to become leaders in our own rights.

He was always talking about change and how we need to evolve with the realities that are happening in schools and society. Nothing stands still.

That was the strong message coming from this post from Jen.

Leadership needs to look a lot different these days. It’s the people around us that matter most – now more than ever- and I think we’re all just trying to figure it out as best we can, as we go along.

Over my career, I worked for many leaders. Each of them was strong and powerful in their own way but no two were the same.

As I read Jen’s post, I could easily see that they would fail as leaders in our world today if they continued to use what worked for them back then.

If you’re a leader or you aspire to be a leader and wonder what might work, you will find this an interesting read.

Phone home

This is one of the most difficult things for teachers to do – make that call home because something has gone amiss at school. This has a nice ending to it.

“I’ll call again and let you know how it’s going,” I said.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she replied.

Amanda is short of specific details and that’s a good thing for the privacy of the student. I think we’ve all had that moment when we know that we need to make the call and dread it. Nobody likes to be the bearer of anything but very positive news.

I can’t help but think that this is one of those very powerful reasons why we blog. We anguish, over-think, fret, worry, … and blogging is a release. You can talk to a spouse but, unless they’re an educator, they don’t really get it.

Amanda shares her thoughts with her blog and with us if we care to read. If you’re like me, you’re going to want to send her a virtual hug and celebrate a happy ending that came unexpectedly.

Please take the time to click though and read all these wonderful posts. Dropping a comment while you’re there is always appreciated.

Then, follow them on Twitter

  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Elizabeth Lyons@mrslyonslibrary
  • Claire Zuliani & Michael Frankfort @MsZuliani @mfrank_76
  • Vicky Loras – @vickyloras
  • Jen Shirley – @jen_shirley
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This is a regular Friday morning post around here and a live radio show appears Wednesday mornings at 8:45 and available as a podcast later.

Digital media

One of life’s little joys around here is in the afternoon when I get an email blast from Stephen Downes. He does a lot of heavy-duty reading and sharing so that I don’t have to. In addition to sharing a number of resources, he provides his own commentary on things.

Yesterday, he shared his thoughts about this article Digital Books wear out faster than Physical Books. I thought that it might be a bit of digital fluff until I read the articles and then Stephen’s take on it.

As luck would have it, I made reference to a Mathematics book on my bookshelf and included an image.

Yes, it’s hardcover and has real pages made for turning as I enjoy it.

For yucks, I wondered about getting a copy of it today. As it turns out, a simple search reveals that it’s available for purchase at Amazon, among other places. And, a free PDF version of it is available here.

So, paper and PDF are pretty good at standing the test of time.

As Stephen notes, we, as consumers, have endured changing media over the years. The first formal eBooks might be a challenge to read these days. Specifically, he did mention buying Beatles albums in a number of formats. I had to smile a bit since I do have a number of Beatles albums on LP down in the rec room and CD-ROM copies in a binder. I wanted them because the music is enduring and quite frankly, I enjoy it. Well, the music might be available but the format may not be usable. This, my latest computer, doesn’t have a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. My car does but I fear that the next vehicle probably won’t. My wife’s Jeep certainly doesn’t. It’s turned our listening there back, way back, to over-the-air radio and commercials and a playlist that’s at the beck and call of someone else.

Earlier this summer, I had a need to look up a name in a database that I used to keep registrations for the Western RCAC Symposium. Back then, thanks to my superintendent who was a fanatic about it, we kept everything in a Filemaker Pro document. Of course, I didn’t have it installed on this computer but I think I have an original on CD-ROM but then how to open it?

I was ultimately able to open the document in a text editor and go trolling for what I was looking for. It really was like banging your head against a wall because it felt so good when it was over. This should always be a last chance option.

So, what’s a person supposed to do?

I had done all the good digital stuff and the file is backed up on an external drive. That doesn’t solve any problem but I do have a backup.

It got me thinking about PDF files. We used to turn our noses up and say “PDF is where good ideas go to die”. That was before the ability to edit PDF came along.

That really doesn’t solve every problem. Sure, you can probably turn just about anything into a PDF file but you lose the original functionality of the document.

So, what I originally thought had the potential to be something fluffy has me wondering what the real answer is. A smack to the head to anyone who suggests printing the documents. The more I think about it, the more important the original post becomes.

It would be a great discussion for a Computer Science classroom…

“I have this file on this CD-ROM that I need opened … $20 to the first person that can do it”

Blowing in the wind

Yesterday, I drove to Port Stanley to have lunch and a great discussion with my voicEd Radio boss, Stephen Hurley. It was cold but we really can’t complain because it’s been such a warm fall so far.

I don’t take the 401 unless I absolutely have to and I didn’t so I took my time to drive on Highway 3. There is just something so relaxing as watching Lake Erie as it’s never the same twice.

There was a great deal of wind which makes for interesting waves and effects on the beach.

After lunch, I retraced my steps but I had some extra time and so stopped at Port Glasgow just to see the Lake and relax for a bit. As I’m wont to do, I took some pictures.

Here are a couple of images.

So, here’s the deal.

One of those is a real picture taken by my Samsung Smartphone. The other is computer-generated by artificial intelligence.

I used the website DeepAI and specifically this URL I asked it to generate an image using this description “The wind is blowing strongly on Lake Erie with a sandy beach in the foreground”.

Which one is real and which one is computer generated?

This is a wonderful site to play around with to generate an image where you might not have an actual picture for.

Give it a shot; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Learning to paint

On This Week in Ontario Edublogs, we featured one of Colleen Rose’s blogposts and she was listening to us during the show. Not only was she listening, she was also creating and blogging. You can see the results of what she was doing on her blog at this post.

I was humbled that she included me in the discussion and was super interested in the activity that she describes in the post. I don’t have an Etsy account but my daughter who was sitting on the couch so I gave her a $1 coin and she downloaded the picture that Colleen had made available. You can see the original on her website as the first thing you’ll see when you land there.

There is just so much detail. I expanded the picture and marvelled at what I saw. I can only imagine what the original painting looks like.

So, all we have to do is paint like Colleen. I’m guessing the preferred direction would be to bring it and then use crayons or paint to do your best.

Another alternative would be to do the job digitally which is what Colleen did. She used an old iPad as her tool; my iPad is even older than hers, I’m sure. I do have Gimp and a Wacom tablet on my desktop but the skill to make the magic just wasn’t there.

Maybe I’ll have better luck with my Chromebook. With a touchscreen, I can draw with my finger. I downloaded Krita (for free) and installed it since Procreate isn’t available on that platform.

I’ve always been intimidated by painting programs as they have so many features.

The functionality is like so many paint programs I’ve used in the past. Yes, intimidating but the key to use is to understand that you don’t have to use all the features.

It’s installed and I’m working with Colleen’s project. I’m having at least a bit of success but nothing share-worthy when I look at the original. But I’m going to continue to work at it. I hope to get proficient but this is going to take a while. I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination and I’m sure that mindset would be very helpful at this time.

My takeaway for you – download Colleen’s colouring piece and see what you can do with your favourite paint program. If you’re looking for one to start, Krita might be just what you’re looking for.