This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’ve been resisting turning on the furnace this week. I will confess to wearing my Bring IT, Together jacket, a toque, and gloves while walking the dog in the morning. The promise is that this weekend is going to be great weather. I hope so as we have an outdoor wedding to attend.

Happy End of September.


More Than an Educator

As I mentioned on the voicEd Radio show, this is a concept that isn’t taught in depth at the Faculty of Education but really should be.

Every teacher wants to be the best that they can be. That goes without saying when you enter the profession.

However, Amanda’s post reminds us that you are more than that as a person. Your job is only one part of you and there’s so much more that you have going on. Teaching is a profession that will entirely eat you alive if you let it.

Amanda tells us that mindfulness is something that helped her. You’ve got to believe that it makes her that better person she wants to be and I can’t help but believe that it makes her a better teacher as well.


it can wait

I really enjoyed this post from Will. It should serve us all as a reminder that, as we rush to return to normal, what’s the rush? Is there a rush for returning too quickly?

Thank you for resisting those urges to get down to business so quickly.
It can wait.

As the teacher in the room, you’re not the only one who has been off your game for the past few years. Those kids are too. I’m reading all over the place that concentrating on work and getting the job done is so hard for students, particularly from teachers who want “normal”.

Will includes a pretty interesting list of things that would be second nature four or five years ago and now seem strangely useless in the context of this whole post.

It’s time to stop and reflect on what’s really important. Giving up a little of the hard-core academics and focusing on relationships will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.


Food for Thought

There have been a lot of reviews (thinking Michelin here) about restaurants in Toronto. Oddly, none of them have a drive-through…

Diana gives us a lovely collection of thoughts and wonders about a number of things restauranty.

  • Famous Food
  • Surprise Food (including kitchen duties)
  • Connecting over Food
  • Photographic Food

It’s a great discussion about food but there’s a deeper message here.

  • this is a terrific example of writing and then pausing to wonder about each of the writings – could you use this technique in class?
  • something that isn’t talked much about anymore is copyright infringement of images – read the post and you’ll see how she deals with that personally

I can’t help but think that her experience mirrors many elementary school throughout the province.


Creating a Sensory Wall for Children

This secondary school computer science teacher was completely out of his element here when Deanna talks about the process that she uses to create a sensory wall as the focal point in her classroom.

I enjoyed reading about how she gathered, measured, and crafted this.

Thanks, Deanna McLennan

Why?

Because it’s the right thing to do. She has students that need it.

Read the post and celebrate the success that she enjoyed and then perhaps think about the things that you’ve personally done to make things better at your own expense and efforts. Deanna and I had the same employer and I don’t recall any of this being on the bulk order list.


Wordlers rejoice! This one’s for you!

Trust Doug to write something completely off the wall.

In this case, it’s an article for/about Wordle fanatics (of which, I guess I’m one) and there’s a little editorial content from Doug here.

At least I think so.

He’s taken what’s probably a good blog post and replaced all the five-letter words with Wordle-like puzzles to solve.

I spend far too much time reading and trying to “solve” this blog. He didn’t say that all my guesses were wrong; just the one that I used six letters for.


Coding in the Classroom

I’ll confess and admit that I started typing “Derek” and probably only a Floyd or an RCAC member would understand…

So many educators throughout the province are cutting their teeth with “Coding” in the Classroom this year. Some may have never thought it would ever happen but it has.

The Floyds have created this resource on the TVO Outreach site with resources for people looking for a nice, Ontario way to get started. They address our curriculum and talk about strategies that should be part of everyone’s teaching toolkit already.

All you need to do is pick a place to start.

Coding in K-12 Education

Primary (Grades 1-3)

Junior (Grades 4-6)

Intermediate (Grades 7-8, 9)


September Leaves

Diane’s post wonderfully describes the experience that many second or more language learners have once dropped in a classroom where other languages are spoken.

I loved the reference to how important our first language is and how it helps define an identity. Through the eyes of “Farah”, she describes some classroom experiences and responses that could have happened in any classroom. When the eyes “widen”, your teacher heart has to warm up.

There’s a wonderful description of the process of moving from an “English-only school environment to a framework of multilingualism”.

The blank leaves are a powerful point in this whole post.

Click through, read, and enjoy.


I hope that you can find some time this weekend to click through and enjoy all these terrific posts. Drop them a comment and then follow them on Twitter. Also, follow their blogs in your blog reader.

  • Amanda Hardy
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1
  • Lisa Anne Floyd – @lisaannefloyd
  • Steven Floyd – @stevenpfloyd
  • Diane Kim

This Week in Ontario Edublogs
Wednesday mornings on voicEd Radio

Style


I was going to title this “What would Kernighan and Plauger say?” but thought that the reference might be a little obtuse.

There’s an old saying that goes back to my early days “If a computer program was hard to write, it should be hard to read” or something like that. I still remember a professor leading into the topic of documentation with that and then convinced us that programming should be anything but that. You should be able to pick up anyone else’s work, look at the documentation and the code, and understand or modify to your own needs.

The book “The Elements of Programming Style” by Kernighan and Plauger was a required book for the course. I’ve read and discarded more textbooks than I should but I still have that one on my bookshelf. It was required reading for the course.

Throughout, there is a really deep discussion about how the appropriate style makes a program more desirable and readable. They inject bits of advice into the Fortran and PL/1 code. (yeah, I know…)

  • 10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.
  • 7/8 is zero while 7.0/8.0 is not zero.

And, of course, there’s lots more.

On Saturdays, I have a “Zoom Beer” with my friend Philip who teaches Computer Science at the university level. We had a chat about the style or lack of it that so many new students have when they’re writing code. His concern was the use of drag and drop programming languages which, while they can do amazing things, don’t necessarily force you to develop a style.

Some students take time to organize and kind of document their work.

Others come from the mindset that as long as it works, it’s good. Or, close enough is good enough.

I think that it’s worth consideration for all those who are going to incorporate coding into their classroom. It’s easy to sit in a presentation or a workshop and make something do some cool things. But, should students and teachers be satisfied with that? Does this develop enough skill to move on to bigger and better things?

We talk about design and style in all subject areas. There are expectations about what it should look like and how to assess things.

How do you assess “close enough is good enough”?

Technology fits that big void


There’s a big void around here this July. For the almost past 20 years before COVID, I would be somewhere in the United States at a CSTA Conference.

In all that time, I’ve never gone as a formal learning attendee. Chris Stephenson invited me to my first which was the second or third conference ever as a committee member. I’ve been going back to serve on that committee up until the past two years. I was even conference chair a couple of times, the most memorable was in San Antonio, Texas. Or maybe Omaha, Nebraska. Or maybe Grapevine, Texas. Or maybe…

Not surprisingly, I took a number of photos and shared them to Facebook and they’ve been coming back daily over the past bit. Here’s a picture from 2016. The locations blur since most convention centres are similar but according to this, we were in San Diego.

Thanks, Alfred Thompson

I’d seriously have to go looking for my notes for what I actually learned at that conference. But, I can name everyone on that committee. That’s such a big thing for me.

Being on the committee, you don’t get a lot of time to attend sessions except during the breaks but that’s OK. There was always time in the evenings to have some social time with some great educators. I think that most people would agree that the real enduring value is the connections that you make. Even to this date, there’s a small group that meet for a “Zoom Beer” on Saturday afternoons.

I had another important role on the committee – as the only Canadian, I was responsible for bringing treats that my American friends coud have. The first time I did it, I made sure to bring the receipts to the Ambassador Bridge crossing to declare. I’ve watched enough episodes of Border Security to know that you need to be above and open when declaring things. At the very least it amused border agents who would always tell me that they were looking for something more important than $100 of ketchup potato chips, Crispy Crunch bars, Purdy’s Hedgehogs, or Oreo chocolate bars. They didn’t last long at the conference when word got out that I had goodies.

This year, I really wrestled with the concept of going. Unlike every other conference where I would fly and be packed into an airplane, this event was in Chicago, only about four hours from here on I94. It definitely would have been the first face to face conference since COVID. Precautions were taken on the registration side apparently and masks were expected to be worn everywhere. I had followed the discussion after the ISTE conference and the spreading that happened after that event. It was a family decision and there wasn’t a great deal of support of being without me.

I even contemplated going for one night just to hang out for supper and chatting but a number of other things popped up.

Years ago, that would have left me out in the cold. However, that’s not really the case in today’s world. The hashtag #CSTA2022 was active with both content and pictures. The real gold mine for me has been Alfred Thompson’s blog. He’s been very good to post content there with a number of links to slidedecks and resources. Cybersecurity is of real interest to me these days and you can never have enough of it.

Of course, it’s not the same but I think there was a sigh of relief around here that I didn’t go.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to a Friday morning, the first one back from the Break, and I hope that everyone is well and looking for some great reads. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place.


How Bout Now

A title like that calls for a music intro…

I wonder just how many people feel the way that Matthew does in this post. He talks about kids with their technology competing for value with the paper and other types of projects and assessment that Matthew keeps and distributes to students at the end of the school year. He indicates that he fears that they don’t see the value and they go as far as the recycle bin. It’s a sad and interesting observation.

That brought back memories of my first end of year when we held home rooms on the last day with garbage cans placed in the hall and we were to encourage students to get rid of what they didn’t want. I thought it was a noble idea until the drive home and then I got it. With some students, opening the bus windows and throwing papers out to cover the road and the ditches as a celebration of the end of the year.

His observation extends to frustration in that the tools in his toolkit don’t get him to the end of the school year any more. I think we’ve all been there; when the students see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s tough to keep things going. It’s an interesting read and I would bet that Matthew would appreciate your insights and suggestions.

I totally see his assertion that it’s amplified with the lack of “normal” in the past couple of years.


Friday Two Cents: Multitasking Can Kill You 

Right off top, I’m glad to hear that the COVID challenge has been met and overcome.

Oh, and I hope that you sold your house.

If those two items aren’t enough to get you to click through, it’s worth reading to see Paul’s reflections about mental and physical health. Teaching is an interesting profession in that you can work 24 hours a day if you want to and you let yourself do so. I’m in the same boat as Paul; I can absolutely pinpoint the sickest that I ever got as a teacher and I can tell you that I did feel like everything was ganging up on me at the time.

He also shares an interesting viewpoint about why students recover quicker than teachers.


ETEC 544: INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTION #8: GAME DESIGN 101

I enjoyed reading this post from Mike and the questions that he posed about game design. My complete answers are too long to include so I’ll give you one from each.

  • Your Life as a Game: List five areas of your life that could be games.
    • Going from Point A to B. I don’t typically follow the instructions from my GPS but opt instead for a longer, more interesting, less 401 path
  • Your Childhood: List ten games you played as a child, for example, hide and seek, four square, and tag.
    • Baseball is my first response but I have many more
  • List five games, and in one sentence per game, describe the objective in each game
    • Doom. Gather resources, map the playing area and shoot anything that moves and growls
  • Name three games that you find particularly challenging and describe why
    • Chess! It’s always portrayed in the media as such a quick and easy game
  • List ten of your favorite games and name the objective for each
    • Current one is http://www.crazyphrase.com and the objective is to guess the phrase as you work your way selectively through the alphabet

Digital History Tools: Making Timelines

There’s so much for me to love about this post. The background was that Krista applied for and got a grant, succeeded, and then needed to find a way to meet the goals in the grant. In this case, Krista was looking for someway to create a digital timeline.

Now, we all have created Timelines in schools, typically in history class, although there was a topic in Computer Studies about the history of computers. It was illustrated nicely with a timeline.

The post goes through the problem solving and evaluation process for a software solution and the thinking was just like the type of thinking that I go through.

The solution is amazing and is free and you’re halfway there if you know how to use Google Sheets and who doesn’t these days? This is a solution ideal for the single teacher, a group of collaborators, or for students assigned a timeline project. When I clicked through to the Timeline maker page, it was featuring a Women in Computing timeline. Awesome.


Deported #SOL22 20/31

Amanda had me at “guns”, “beer”, and “tears”!

I’ve never been to Europe so to put myself in her shoes, I thought about the movie “Murder on the Orient Express“.

This post is a wonderful recant of a trip through Europe with friends, one who is a Canadian, and crossing into a new country and being “deported”. I won’t spoil the whole story but it’s an engaging read and I’m glad that Amanda felt the pressure to write it.

It’s another testament to blogging – get your thoughts and memories out there before you totally forget. I do know that I wouldn’t have been as calm and cool as she comes across in the post


Thoughts about Motivation

It was great to see Jonathan taking a break from marathon running to sit at the keyboard and blogging again.

In the post, he takes an analytic and medical approach about how to motivate that student and we’ve all had them at one point or another.

So, what do you do when your wit and personality isn’t getting the job done? Jonathan openly admits having ADHD and so can give a more first person approach to motivation for others.

Motivation is about creating experiences for students so that their brains create those dopamine patterns and in the end even create dopamine in anticipation. So how do we do this? 

He shares an interesting experience with a cartwheeling student and how that student was reached and that leads into four things to think about. It’s good consideration for planning learning experiences and reaching all students.


Dairy of a Disenfranchised Coder

I’ll confess up front that I’m a sucker for blog posts that deal with programming and computer science. In this post, Tim traces his route from starting with a VIC-20 to getting certified to teach “computers” this summer. I don’t know what that means, whether it’s Computer Science or Computers Across the Curriculum.

I can empathize with Tim; we didn’t have access to computers in high school at all. I pre-date him in that we had a keypunch and we’d send card decks to London to be run on an IBM 1130 at Althouse College overnight and we’re get the results next day.

I don’t know about Tim but we thought that we had the world by the tail simply because we didn’t know any other reality. These days, we’re all living in a different world, at least at home. Some school settings have ideal setups and others are still sharing these things as precious resources.

If you search my OCT profile, you’ll see that I have qualifications in both Data Processing and Computer Science. Nowhere does it say that computers should be programmed to solely solve mathematics problems and Tim describes his frustration when required to do so.

I wish him well in his endeavour and hope that he can engage students that might otherwise get turned off like he did. They can do amazing things when you help them with the skills and see them take off.


There’s a wonderful collection of writing from Ontario Edubloggers again this week. I hope that you can find some time to click through, read them all, and drop off some of your thoughts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn
  • Krista McCracken – @kristamccracken
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Jonathan So – @MrSoClassroom
  • Tim King – @tk1ng

Coding in Ontario


If case you hadn’t been aware of the link to the Mathematics Curriculum dealing with coding, it was reinforced yesterday with changes to the Science and Technology Curriculum.

Mathematics – New math curriculum for Grades 1-8
Science and Technology – Key Changes – Science and Technology, Grades 1–8 (2022)

As with most curriculum documents, it’s a look from 10 000 metres as to what should be taught. The actual details will become apparent as writing teams hunker down with the task of making things implementable in Ontario schools this fall.

I can’t help but think about my own journey. I took programming with Mr. Cook in an “experimental course” for a couple of years at secondary school, studied Mathematics and Computer Science at University, and made Data Programming and Computer Studies as teachable options after a year at a Faculty of Education.

Photo by Roozbeh Eslami on Unsplash

As I reflect on my path, it really seems to be old school. Well, maybe traditional school. The skill set though can easily be morphed into something that’s usable today. I don’t regret the path that I took at all. Far beyond the actual skill set, it has introduced me to educators with similar passions and that’s always inspirational.

I’ve always had the ability to see the importance of learning to write instructions to make some object do something for me. It started pretty simply with computer cards to the way things are done today with computers, tablets, phones, televisions, kitchen appliances, personal assistants, my car, and the list just keeps on going.

I like to think that I took to it well and that I did my best to pass along my passion to students that I had the honour of teaching. That passion that was instilled by Mr. Cook remains with me today.

Now, we’re going to have a school system that will make this available to students starting at Grade 1. A number of progressive educators have already gone this route and brought that sort of thing into their classrooms for some time now. Some have done it in a traditional manner programming a computer; others have encouraged principals to buy robotic devices or have made the purchase themselves. They saw the importance of students being in control of a device instead of the other way around.

I’ll confess; for the longest of times, I was focused on the what and how it was good for me. It was only later in my life that I really tried to understand the why and why it was good for kids immersing myself in the works of Seymour Papert. I’ve often wondered if I’d spent time with Papert’s work first, if I would have been even more passionate about it for kids.

I’m sure that there will be a lot of different thoughts about this new initiative and how the new strand is added to the Science and Technology curriculum without removing anything else. I can’t believe that there would be anyone who would argue against the concept; just about how long it took us to actually get here.

If there’s ever a need to rationalize this, you need to read Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program or Be Programmed. There’s also a free study guide.

The immediate pressure will be on subject associations to step up and develop appropriate learning materials and resources to make this a success.

And it needs to be a success. To be anything else fails our kids.