This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another wonderful week’s worth of reading from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a sampling of what I caught this past while.

Why We Should Care About Equity & Social Justice as Educators

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and you were the only one that looked visibly different? If you haven’t, chances are you’re lucky, maybe even privileged to not have ever been in this position, but I encourage you to read on and walk in my shoes for a bit. If you have, I know how you feel.

Rusul Alrubail paints an interesting scenario above.  My first reaction was no, I haven’t.  But, upon further reflection, I do remember that I did at university a number of times.  Studying Mathematics and Computer Science at a big university with smaller tutorial sessions does generate some interesting smaller work groups.  I think that the operative point was that we were there to work and social justice wasn’t the thread that brought us together so I can’t fully appreciate her point.

Her story should be a stop and ponder for educators.  I do find it interesting to people watch – at a shopping mall, on a city street, or a park.  It doesn’t seem to be an issue for today’s youth.  You’ll see an amalgam of faces and cultures as they walk about chatting and laughing.  Maybe there’s hope for humanity after all and we older people are just late to the party.

Regardless, it’s still no excuse and there are some excellent suggestions at the end of Rusul’s post for all to consider.

Stress Symptoms and Strategies

Unless you’ve lived the life of a teacher, you don’t really get it.  The critics point to the short at-work day and the holidays.  Of course, they’re not teachers so it’s easy to be on the outside looking in and judging.

Diana Maliszewski shares a post about a bit of her life outside of the classroom.

Since this is right smack in the middle of report card writing, I thought the topic of stress was rather relevant!

The stressors that she identifies are, admittedly self-inflicted, but reinforce that the educational world is so much better for the things that teachers do outside the classroom. 

Certainly, she didn’t have to do these things but Diana wouldn’t be the Diana that we all know and love if she didn’t.

Screen time guidelines and education

I love this graphic that Jennifer Casa-Todd included in her latest post.

So much discussion and criticism falls on technology being so evil for kids.  I recently had a discussion with a friend who complained that the kids in her neighbourhood all just stayed in doors and “played on their devices”.  Somehow that was all the fault of the kids.  Jennifer thinks that we could substitute parenting with teaching in the above. 

It’s a good reminder that we all make choices and we all have defaults.  If the default is not to be concerned and provide rich and engaging alternatives, is it fair to blame the kid who makes her/his own choices?

Battle Cry for Student Voice: Peer Assessment using @audioboom & QR Codes

If you know anyone who has difficulty seeing how technology can be used seamlessly and with great purpose, send them to read this post by Heather Durnin.

Peer and self-assessment helps develop a greater sense of responsibility, as students not only honestly reflect on their peers’ work, but also on their own. In terms of summative assessment, I found my students’ ratings of their peers to be honest and kind.

At the end of the exercise, one of the students asked if I was going to be marking the assignments as well. After confirming I would, he responded with, “I wish we could do this all the time.” The battle cry for “student voice”.

So often, technology is seen and used as a separate activity even though most schools have got beyond going to “the lab” to do things.  By itself, that’s not necessarily bad, but there can be so much more.  This post is a wonderful example of just what it might look like. 

What isn’t said here is that the students obviously have risen to a level of sophistication and responsibility to make it work. 

What a wonderful testament to a year’s worth of effort by Mrs. Durnin.

The #LearningLine Challenge

A number of people responded to Colleen Rose’s #LearningLine Challenge.

In the post, she shares the lines drawn by Lindy Amato, Rodd Lucier, Peter Cameron, and Joanne Borges.  They each provided a different picture of what learning meant to them and Colleen reflected on each.

Of course, everyone’s lines ended by going up.  How they got to “up” makes it worth the read.

How do you make it to the top of the slide?

Speaking of “up”, Aviva Dunsiger made it to the top and shared it in this post.

I can strike another off the ol’ bucket list.  Thanks to technology, I’ve now seen her go down a slide courtesy of Instagram.

Somehow, I think I’ve cheated my Computer Science students.  We never went on a field trip like that.

Getting social at #BIT16

One of the things that Cyndie Jacobs and I are proud of was bringing after-conference-hours social events to the Bring IT, Together conference.  We started with what we thought were neat things like the Niagara Falls after-dark PhotoWalk, the Mindcraft event, the BIT Jam session, and Run with Alana.  Sure, you always get a chance to meet up with old friends at conferences, but there are still those who don’t have the connections (yet) that are looking for something to do.

The tradition continues with some interesting twists this year – including an event that will be limited to 100 participants.  Leslie Boerkamp contributes a post to the BIT Blog outlining what she’s got planned this year for participants.

I won’t spoil her surprises – head over to see what she’s got planned for us.  Registration opens really soon so you’ll want to get in early.  You don’t want to be locked out of that group of 100, do you?

Yet again, it’s been another wonderful week of reading.  Thanks to everyone who takes the time to blog and share ideas.  Please click through and read their efforts and drop them a comment.  I’d appreciate it if you shared this post so that more people realize what amazing things are happening in Ontario.

Ziglar Quotes

I got on a bit of a roll because of a few things.

Saturday, a number of us on the Bring IT, Together Conference committee met in London to evaluate the sessions submitted for inclusion in the conference.  There were so many great proposals, including a couple that talked about how to make better presentations instead of the regular “Death by Powerpoint” ones.  (One of their terms, not mine.  Any tool can be used to bore your audience)

Another thing was the quite interesting collection of quotations from Wititude that I used as the basis for yesterday’s post.  There are some great things there and the current format for creating memes with a graphic and a quote are featured there nicely.

Then, this morning, I read this story “Top 51 Motivational Quotes From Zig Ziglar“.  Now, I’m not sure these are the absolutely top 51 but they’re all good and I can see using them in a number of scenarios.

Including as a slide in a presentation.  Just because I hadn’t done anything in Canva for a while, I thought that I’d turn a couple of the quotes into a slide.

First this one…

and then this one.

The proposals that have been accepted for the conference are going to be awesome.  The first round of invitations should be sent out shortly.  If you’re in that last list (or just have to do a presentation or would like to enhance something that you’re creating), you might want to consider the quote meme.  It can be very powerful and attractive.

Now, if I could only come up with something pithy to say, I might just end up being quoted.

In the meantime, check out the 51 quotes in the link above.  I’m sure you’re find a use for some of them.  And, if you can’t find any there, go to the top of the site to see quotes from many others.

What’s next with #BIT16 proposals?

Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal for the Bring IT, Together 16 Conference.  This three-day event will feature a wide variety of topics and presentations geared for Ontario Education.  The presentations submitted are guaranteed to make this excellent educational technology conference even better than ever.


What’s next?


The next steps are in the hands of the conference committee.  There are far more presentation proposals received than there are time slots!  So, the entire committee will be evaluating all of these and attempting to put together a slate featuring the best of the best.

It will take about …

Read the rest of the post on the Bring IT, Together website.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy April Fools’ Day.  It’s time to keep an extra eye looking over your shoulder…but the good thing is that it leads into a weekend and that’s always good.  There was no fooling around with Ontario Edubloggers this week.  Check these blog posts out.

Anatomy of an internet scam

As more and more commerce is done online using freely available services, Sylvia Duckworth points out that there are those out there just waiting to take advantage of you.  It’s an interesting read and who hasn’t had an attempt made on their money through fake messages from the likes of people impersonating Paypal.  It’s a reminder for all of us and may be a starting point for students.

Sylvia uses the post as an opportunity to repurpose her sketchnote.  In this case, #9 is of importance.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education – A Review

There’s an interesting trend of sharing book titles among Ontario Educators and doing book talks online.  It’s an interesting concept.  Perhaps this title, reviewed by Brandon Zoras would be a title to consider for the future.

Brandon indicates that there’s a book signing opportunity in the near future if you’re interested.


My first reaction, upon reading this post from Peter Cameron, was to realize that I wasn’t in the same game.  I know that there’s a whole science behind the concept of cross-country skiing and the wax that you choose.

To be honest, I have the other type of ski.  It has a tread on it rather than requiring waxing and I get along quite nicely, thank you.  I suppose that my experience pales in comparison but does that really matter?  Is it a mindset that we have learned from education that there are winners and losers and how we compare performance?

In the competitive world, skiers have standards to meet and races to run.  What’s wrong with the rest of us getting outside for some fresh air, enjoying the trip, and not spilling the wineskin?  There’s my definition of success.

Are Algorithms the New Media Literacy?

I went over to Royan Lee’s blog this week to see his #workflow series and found this post instead.  He’s sharing his thoughts about Instagram’s proposed notifications change.  As he notes, we’re all the recipient of changes that networks make despite our wishes/complaints.

I’m a big fan of choice but recognize that that’s not always an option.  The goal of services is to make money and if a change to their algorithm results in success for the provider, that’s the end goal.  We have two choices – be assimilated or drop it.  I like his concept of taking control of things according to his rules with Evernote and IFTTT but we all need to realize that there are other forces at work.  Therein lies the connection to Media Literacy and he’s dead on with that.  Time to read Program or Be Programmed again.

Innovation vs Consistency

Jared Bennett’s post here will have you thinking.  I wish that he’d used a different term than “innovation” though since that one has been used/abused in so many contexts but you’ll get his message with the post and his questions.

I love the expression and his self-definition of being the rogue.  I think we need to honour the rogue.  Without the rogue, life would be pretty darn stale.  Without the rogue, we’d not be seeing excitement about anything.  It would be the same ol’ stuff, year after year.  Think back to your first year of teaching.  Could you imagine teaching the same way, with the same tools?  It could be considered malpractice.  (well, maybe that’s too harsh a word)  Personally, I don’t know where I could even buy punched cards these days.

I think that a progressive school district needs rogues to help set the direction.  The rogue needs to try things and succeed.  The rogue needs to try things and fail.  The rogue needs to identify other rogues and feed off each other.  This now network of rogues needs to prove that what they’re experiencing will engage and prove to be valuable to others.  These rogues needs to lead the best by example.  There are so many non-rogues that aren’t willing to put their time and effort into learning and failing but, will gladly learn and succeed if they’ve been shown the advantages.  To do otherwise would be accepting complacency.

The Case Against School Internet Filters

Andrew Campbell’s post starts, interestingly enough, by his description of being the school spy.  Those who follow Andrew are probably having a bit of a smile right now given his proven stance against spying and protection of rights while connected.

I can’t fault his logic.  We want students to be careful and wise users of any/all technology, including what they do online.  It does raise the question though, is the school system ready for this?  There’s a certain feeling that by blocking certain sites that you can put a checkmark on the wall and indicate that the school district has done its job – they’ve protected the free world against everything that’s bad.  So, if a student manages to get around the filter either purposely or accidentally, who is at fault?  I think that we all know.  We’re not about to suspend the network manager for three days because of it.

In his post, Andrew makes reference to another interesting read from Jane Mitchinson.  “Big Brother in our Schools“.  She offers the use of School Connect to monitor student screens.  That keeps them on task and lets the teacher monitor what’s happening.  In this case, it puts the teacher on task as the moderator of all things flying about the room.  It still makes the teacher as the guard to information though rather than circulating the room helping students.  I suppose the teacher screen could be displayed on the data projector or television so that she/he could keep an eye on things.  The downside is that everyone in the room would be able to enjoy a misstep.  In the bigger picture, what happens in BYOD situations or with devices like tablets that aren’t connected to the same network the teacher is monitoring?  You know it’s political when trustees get involved as Jane notes.

All this addresses the content and situations that we know and can identify and do something about.  What about the rest of it?  I would encourage you to re-read Deborah McCallum’s “Critical Literacy and the Internet” post.  I was delighted that she accepted my BIT Challenge and will be talking about this at the BIT 16 Conference.

Until we reach that level of sophistication, if you’re an entrepreneur and can come up with a solution that’s perfect, you’ll be rich overnight.

There’s no end to the good thinking and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please check out these posts and then head over to the big list for even more great reading.

#ICYMI – Call for Proposals – BITBlog Posts


The Call for Proposals was announced February 16 and closes March 31.  We have made numerous BIT Blog posts to support you and in case you missed some of them, we have gathered all them into this list:

Thank you to those who have already submitted a session proposal.  To those who have yet to submit, please do it soon!

Who did you challenge?

Happy First Day of the March Break.

If you’re a Twitter user, hopefully you’re following the hashtag #BIT16.  It’s only here that you can enjoy the discussions from now until the November conference.

It’s also here that you can follow “The Great BIT Proposal Challenge“.  This is a combination challenge to get people who might not otherwise consider presenting at the conference or presenting on “that” topic and also an opportunity to publically acknowledge the great things that Ontario Educators are doing.  The bottom line is what better way to do both than on social media?  After all, it is 2016.

The format is pretty straight forward.  Just send a Twitter message in this format.  “I challenge @xxxxxx to submit a proposal to talk about xxxxxx at #BIT16”  (or some variation).  And, if you see a good challenge, don’t hesitate to retweet it.

I know that I’ve done my fair share of challenges.  These are people that I truly think have ideas that the rest of the province should hear.

You can see all of the challenges by following this link.  (or at least those who followed the rules so that my search could find them.  Ontario Educators are so great because often they don’t follow the rules.)

This is a search result that I scan on a daily basis.  From the results, it’s interesting to see….

  • people who I’ve never seen present before being identifed
  • recognition for awesome projects and ideas that I’ve only heard about but now I want to know more
  • the wide variety of topics reaching into virtually every classroom
  • Ontario Educators are so creative

If all those challenged were put on the agenda, it would absolutely be the best conference ever with all kinds of ideas and inspiration. That’s one of the reasons for going to a conference – the other is to make new connections.  This would have it all.

It’s not too late; if there’s someone you work with, have heard about, or interacted via social media or on their blog, acknowledge it and give them the push that they might need to submit a proposal for the conference.  Make the selection committee really work.

And, of course, if you’re doing something worth sharing, just go ahead and submit your own proposal.  If you want to be publically embarrassed, let me know.  I’m not above that!

But don’t wait too long – proposals end March 31.

How to write a successful session proposal

This post originally appeared on the Bring IT, Together website.

For the upcoming Bring IT, Together Conference, the committee expects to review over 500 session proposal (50 minutes sessions on Thursday and Friday) and offer about 150 to conference attendees.

This post will help you become one of the chosen few after a committee reads and reviews each and every submission.

Don’t Procrastinate
It’s OK to submit your proposal at the last minute.  But, that doesn’t mean you write it at the last minute.  Start mind mapping what you want to submit now.  That will start your brain thinking about it and help you write a successful proposal.

A Great Title
It’s the first thing that people see.  You need something that’s going to grab the attention of those looking for sessions to attend.  Look for something that will intrigue and encourage further consideration.

You – A Great Bio
While sessions aren’t judged by the name of the proposer, a solid background on the topic speaks volumes.  Include your background, social media presence, internet resources that you’ve developed, your work in Ontario education, …  All this counts for a strong presenter.  If you’re co-presenting, make sure that you treat all presenters in the same way.

Don’t Name or Theory Drop
Unless you’ve written or co-written some educational theory, adding a line describing it doesn’t add anything to a successful proposal.  Focus on you and your presentation instead.

This is Ontario
And your audience will largely be Ontario educators.  You know what the priorities are for Ontario schools and your own district.  Identify these as solid reasons that your proposal should be accepted.  If you have a unique way of teaching geometry with technology, we want to read it.

The Proposal is Electronic
There was a time when proposals were done on paper and there was a 200 character limit to save on paper printing costs.  Your proposal is electronic and the conference program is as well (Lanyrd).  Use the technology to its best to explain exactly what the session will cover.

What will the audience leave with if they attend?  Specifically identifying the takeaways will make it easier to understand your proposal.  Too often, reviewers will say “I wish they had explained it in more detail.”

If it is your intention to create a community of learners or sharers, make sure that you include that.  Will there be a Twitter list or Facebook/Google+ group created as a result?  Are you looking to share resources?  What will be the URL to your blog/website/wiki?

Exhibitor Connection
Do you have connections with an exhibitor or other commercial entity?  Include that.  The worst thing you can be accused of is being an advertisement for XYZ if people didn’t know that going in.  Let them know up front and they can choose to attend not attend.

Have another set of eyes
Share your proposal with a colleague and ask for their opinion.  “Would they attend something like this?”  “What wording is needed to convince them?”  

Intended Audience
There is a really good chance that your proposal isn’t for everyone.  Clearly identify that the audience is for “Grade 5 Special Education teachers” or “Superintendents in charge of technology use”.

How will you engage your audience?  Unlike the Wednesday workshops, chances are you won’t be hands-on – you’ll be presenting to an audience seated and focused on you.

Good luck!  Please consider these points as you prepare for your proposal submissions.  We want you to be successful.

Check back to this blog regularly for additional tips and information as we lead into Bring IT, Together 2016.  Follow #BIT16 on Twitter and Facebook.

Related stories that have appeared on the BIT Blog