I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.
Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.
I love this quote from the blog post.
“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light. The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity. Relationships truly matter.
Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.
I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.
But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?
A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.
This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.
Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.
I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.
Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.
With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.
And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!
Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!
That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.
The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.
I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.
Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..
I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?
An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.
If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?
Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.
I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.
I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.
This post was different though.
There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.
She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.
You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?
The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.
I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)
What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?
Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.
What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.
Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.
But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.
While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.
BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?
It was interesting to write yesterday’s post about the beginning of coding for me. It was a true story. My programs did have to travel for an hour to London just to run.
While I eventually got to use terminal devices to program at university, when I landed my first job it was back to writing programs on cards and sending them to the Windsor board office to run for the students. Legend had it that the nice room at the back of my classroom was supposed to have an IBM 1130 of its own but the cost was too prohibitive.
I don’t think it was all bad. Because of the 24 hour (or more) delay to get a program run, we programmers became very thorough in our programming. None of this “let’s try this and see if it works”. We had to plan and trace our way through a program. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting 24 hours only to realize that you missed something silly.
The bottom line was that our devices (and us) were truly disconnected in the process. Of course, it’s not that way today. There really is something satisfying about seeing things happen right in front of your eyes.
After another day of playing around with the micro:bit, it’s a bit humbling to see how things that we take for granted can come to fruition. Who doesn’t have a device or used a device that is connected to something else wirelessly? It’s life as we know it.
With the micro:bit, you can easily program it to communicate with another wirelessly using the built-in radio. Look at those commands.
For the longest time, I had one micro:bit and I longed for the time when I had another just to try this. Of course, you can do it with the online simulator but there’s something about touching it.
A real breakthrough for me happened at a Minds on Media event. Jim Cash was running a coding booth and he had lots of micro:bits. I told him of my desire to just test the concept of sending a signal from one to the next. It was dead simple. I was impressed.
Then, I shared with him a project that I’d wanted to try – build a slot machine! The concept is relatively simple – there would be one master micro:bit that would be equivalent to pulling the lever. Once the lever was pulled, the other micro:bits would display the results. If I ws really greedy, I could have designed cherries, apples, pears, etc. but I settled for 1s, 2s, and 3s. We were up and running in a matter of minutes and I thanked Jim profusely for the use of his gear.
Alas, I’m without a collection of micro:bits. But, I do have a project in mind that would be fun.
When we were kids, we would play a game of “Chase the Ace” around the kitchen table with my parents. It would be interesting to implement that game on a set of these units.
Kids have it made for learning coding these days!
My Hour of Code collection for 2019 is located here.
In particular, I’ve got my micro:bit out and am playing around with it using the Python programming language and the tutorials that can be found here. It’s lots of fun for me and I don’t hesitate at all when using the word “playing” in this paragraph.
If you’ve ever programmed in Python, you know that it’s a text-based language and I keep having to make sure that the syntax that I’m using is correct. There is a lot of room for error.
And, growing up learning to program, error was just part of the game. You learn to check and double-check to ensure that everything is correct.
I first learned to program in high school. Wait, Doug, they had computers back then?
Yes, indeed. Ontario even had a curriculum. It was called RP-33: Data Processing and was released in the 1960s. In 1970, there was also Informatics, Intermediate and Senior Division.
We didn’t have a computer at our school actually; we wrote our programs on punch cards and they were shipped to Althouse College in London to be run over night. The next day, we had a chance to see how well we did. Our programs were run on the computer (if I recall correctly, it was an IBM 1130) We programmed in the Fortran IV language and most of our programs were related to business functions. i.e. writing cheques, doing payrolls, inventories, etc. To think that this guy could write a program that would make a computer do something productive blew me away at the time and it still does today.
There were two elements that had to fall into place for success. First, the program had to compile successfully and secondly, it had to execute and generate the appropriate results.
It’s when I think about this that I get so impressed with the opportunities that the beginning learner has today. The second part – doing things correctly will always be the acid test to your programming skills. But, with the drag and drop interfaces that are so common, the first part actually becomes a non-starter.
Instead of learning the instructions and then the parameters needed, you just drag an action to the desktop. If the steps that you’re thinking about using actually fit together, they well, actually fit together.
From the Makecode website, I took a long look at micro:pet. It’s simple enough to get started – you’re creating a pet for a friend. But the whole package is a really rich experience. Yes, there is the coding part but beyond that, there’s making, language, interviewing, etc.
It’s the whole package.
I reflect back to how I learned to program. Typically, it was by learning one or two command or concepts and then doing a few examples and experience the success or lack of it and then move on. Even the simple act of running a program took 24 hours.
It’s just an entirely different world where beginning learners can do what I did and so much more inside an hour. It’s a great time to be learning how to code. I hope that it’s happening in your class.
As noted in this post from last week, I have created an updated Flipboard of resources for 2019. If you’re looking to join a professional organization of like minded coding teachers, consider the Association of Computer Studies Educators.
I summarized my thoughts about Lisa Floyd’s presentation at the Bring IT, Together Conference like this.
Calculators are successful in Mathematics not because we learn how to write the code to create a calculator but because we use it to get a deeper understanding of non-trivial Mathematics
When I saw this in the program, I knew that I wanted to attend. Lisa has been doing a great deal of research into Mathematics and Computational Thinking and was a keynote a few years ago. I didn’t know what to expect but I was hoping for something other than a “Let’s do something cool in Scratch and then try to tie it into Mathematics or some other subject area”.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ve attended many a session like I described above. I always enjoy them (despite the sarcasm) but I always wonder about the claims of how students all understand coding and Mathematics as a result. Is that really true?
I was hoping that this wouldn’t be another like that. Plus the fact that she mentioned Scratch AND Python was intriguing.
As she notes, “Ontario does not have coding in K-8”. Of course this is true but we sure have all kinds of Mathematics! She gave us a number of different examples featuring Geometric Art, Gtowing Patterns, Plotting on a Grid, Probability, … In the presentation, she gave us lots of examples and talked us through the process that she uses.
None of the examples started with a blank screen! She stressed the concept of having students remix her content. By running what she distributes, the students see a Mathematical concept and then their understanding is pushed and enhanced by working with the code to make things something better.
Her approach is very visual by showing the results of the program and then takes on the Mathematics concepts. Tweak this, change that, what happens when you do this? How can you make the output look like this. The primary focus was purely on the Mathematics and the coding was secondary. It was a refreshing approach.
Lisa’s approach was cemented for me on the Friday. I attended a session where we were programming robots using a drag and drop language specifically written for those robots. We were to program them to do a task without knowing just what was happening. Often the tool that we needed was in another menu and we were encouraged to try some numbers to see how far in one direction we could make it go. Turning wasn’t a matter of turning 90 degrees, but applying force onto one wheel going in one direction while the other went in the other direction. We eventually figured it out but lost considerable time in the process. There were something like six groups in the room and nobody got the right answer; some were closer than others. Lisa’s concept of remixing would have fit right in.
I really do like her approach. I made myself another note…
Instead of debugging the program, she could spend time debugging the Mathematics involved…
You can check out some of the examples she used, in Scratch, on her website. Type the URL correctly; Lisa notes that a person with a similar spelling as chosen a different career path.
I had an opportunity to interview Lisa. You can read it here.
Yesterday doing the voicEd Radio show was fun. Ramona Meharg joined Stephen and me live to do the show. She shared a number of things that I think Stephen and I would have overlooked. It was great.
Great, as well, was all the new equipment that Stephen had. Instead of my clip on headset with condenser mic, we had real radio quality stuff. So new and fresh, that he and Derek Rhodenizer were unpacking them for the first time. Everything worked out well. As always, it was a fun show and we chatted about these blog posts from great Ontario Edubloggers.
From Tim King, a not-so-quick-and-easy post to read. He unloads his thoughts about everything dealing with this topic.
I have a theory about why it’s an increasing issue important to teachers and students and others in education.
Unless you’re teaching this stuff and staying up to date like Tim does (he takes courses), you don’t worry about it. Why? Because there’s nothing you can do about it.
Networks and computers in schools tend to be locked down and managed by others so you couldn’t make healthy decisions about setup even if you had the inclination. This leads to a mindset that carries on to home and personal setups. Think about it!
I wanted to attend Tim’s workshop but it was on at the same time as the voicEd broadcast. I found it telling that Tim had a packed house but when he asked how many were teachers, there were none. They were all IT professionals.
I felt like Tina Zita wrote this post with me in mind. It’s all about the power of the Sketchnote and she goes kind of deep into the concept. The big message, as all Sketchnote posts seem to be, is that anyone can do it.
I’ve tried; I’ve failed.
Ramona chimed in with an interesting observation when I asked her if you should Sketchnote along with the topic being presented or should you wait until later and draw something from your notes.
She felt that people were in the former camp. I think that puts me even further behind because my attention is focused on the message and I don’t handle distractions real well.
I have great admiration for people that are indeed able to pull it off. If you’re interested, Tina summarises her plan that she had to indoctrinate others.
Autumn is such a beautiful season. Everything is in the process of change. Things that were great in the summer and preparing for winter. Things to come in winter are just around the corner.
What better way to inspire inquiring with students than going outside and checking things out.
That’s what Deanna McLennan did with her young students.
Young kids learning about the Fibonacci sequence?
Why not! It occurs in nature. Somehow, I feel cheated. I didn’t learn the concept until much later in my educational career. Wouldn’t it have been nice to understand that there was this thing in nature – as opposed to the here’s something else about mathematics that you need to know approach that I and so many others have traditionally done.
Of course, there’s more than that. Living in Essex County, we have this wonderful opportunity to see the Monarch butterfly migration. See everything that her students explored in this post.
For the population who think that kids just show up at school, sit in rows, absorb content and then graduate, they need to read the thoughts from Rola Ribshirani.
Written back in August, she shares with us feedback from last year’s students. Of course, everyone could do this. But you they? Do you?
It seems to me that this is a terrific opportunity if you truly believe that you’re growing as an educator and that you want to understand those faces in front of you. It’s also worth noting that what they see and feel may not be 100% accurate when held to the actual standard. More importantly, it’s IS true in their mind. When the two don’t meld, I would suggest the second concept is more important.
Rola also takes a bit of space to talk about bias. That’s an area that we can all appreciate and learn from.
On the Merit Centre blog, Aviva Dunsiger shares her thoughts about the concept of preparing kids for the next grade. She takes on the role of student, teacher, and parent and builds the case about the stressors that she sees with each of these groups.
It’s an interesting concept to tackle. I would suggest, though, that our school model isn’t set up to fully embrace the concept of looking ahead. After all, every grade and every subject has expectations that need to be addressed. We’re not a big continuum from K-12.
I had to smile when I looked back on an experience that I had teaching Grade 9 Mathematics. There was a small collection of students that were obvious in their lacking of skills from Grade 8. Upon further research, their elementary school had a history of being weak in Mathematics. I was advised by my department head that I needed to do some catch up work with them. So, for a few weeks, they got to dine with me in an empty classroom. It was actually kind of fun to help them fill in the gaps but I can’t imagine the increased stress that they had knowing that they were behind classmates and had to give up lunch with friends for lunch with their new friend.
I like how Aviva notes that the focus should be on the child and, while she doesn’t explicitly state it, she’s talking about differentiation or customization to help each student achieve. And that, after all, is why teachers get the big bucks.
If there’s a class in the province that I’d love to audit, it’s Tim King’s. Why?
Well, just read this post. He took a couple of classes over the summer including one dealing with Cyber Operations. I’m fearful that, with the lack of direction in some districts, kids are just tap, tap, tapping on their iPads and calling it technology integration. You have but to just read the technology news to know that it’s an increasingly ugly world out there. How are you supposed to keep up? Are you preparing your students for heading out into that world?
I can’t help but remark what a terrific learning experience Tim’s students had with a guest from IBM coming in to work with them and the Watson AI.
Check out his entire post and ask if you’re school is providing this opportunity for your students. If not, why not?
Confession time here … I booked this post from Albert Fong a little too quickly. I saw the August 15 part and tucked it away for the voicEd show and this post.
What I hadn’t noticed was the year! The post was from a year ago. During our live show, Stephen Hurley made a comment that the post look familiar. I guess I thought that it was as well. But, I still like the concept as a Business educator and the Entrepreneurship shown along with the teacher Q&A of a student baking cookies.
So, yeah, it’s a year old and I’ll apologize for the timeliness (actually it’s previously made this blog here). But, I won’t apologize for the content and message. It’s still as good as ever!
beens.org has long been a destination for me to see what Peter Beens is doing in his classroom. Now, he’s registered beens.ca and is taking a new direction.
Welcome to the first of hopefully a series of “snippets” blog posts. I have to admit I’m poaching the idea from @dougpete with his “My Week Ending” series [example]. My life seems to be too hectic to publish “real” posts so let’s see if this works as an alternative.
I like the concept and it dovetails on my philosophy of learning nicely. If I learn something of value, why not share it in case it’s of value to someone else? If it isn’t, they can just ignore it.
I’ve got to believe though, that when Peter’s Solo EV arrives, it will generate a “real” post (whatever that is!)
Paul McGuire has been busy this summer with his participation in the Climb for Kids and a couple of recent posts share his thoughts and images about the climb.
However, the latest post reveals a complete change in his life. He’s going back to school.
Not as a student though. He’s going to work at the University of Ottawa and in the Faculty of Education. That’s going to be an immense change.
This blog is about to get much busier. When life takes a radical change learning happens that really should be accompanied by reflection. Things now are so new I really don’t know enough to reflect, but I think that will change pretty quickly.
That’s great news for those of us who follow him on his blog. We’ll look forward to the things that he’s about to share.