Next week


This is a modified “post from the past”.  Last year, I ran this for Hour of Code 2018.  I’ve created a new Flipboard document of resources for 2019.  There are some new resources there and some updated from the past.  And, quite frankly, there are some classics.  After all, hours haven’t changed! 

If this is your year to jump or if you’re building on last year’s efforts, hopefully there’s something here to help your cause.  You don’t have to fly in an expert to lead your class; there are lots of terrific resources and ideas here. DIY.

Enjoy.


Next week, December 9-15 marks yet another Hour of Code, part of Computer Science Education Week.

This has been going on for a few years now.  It’s an opportunity to try coding exercises in the classroom and perhaps create an interest in Computer Science and future studies. In Ontario, there are formal courses for secondary school as described in this document.

Depending on who you are, it might be:

  • something else in education to ignore
  • a first opportunity to try some coding activities
  • a change to follow up with what you did last year
  • an opportunity to celebrate the coding that happens regularly in your classroom
  • or for Computer Science class where coding is done daily, an opportunity to reach out and try something new

Hopefully, if you’re reading this blog, you don’t fall into the first category!

All this past week, I’ve been toying with some of the offerings for this year and, like I do annually, I have created a Flipboard document of some of the things that I’ve found.  It’s certainly not inclusive but just might generate some interest or inspiration.

All of the past years’ collections are available as well.  I haven’t checked all of the links to see if they’re still active so clicker beware.

There should be no shortage of ideas.

I would encourage all educators to get involved whether it’s getting started or enhancing whatever it is that you’re doing or have done.  Everyone benefits when you do.

If you’re a social media user, take and share pictures, videos, blog posts, etc. so that we can all enjoy what’s happening in your classroom.

So, what are you doing this year?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Black Friday, if you observe. There’s nothing discounted about the great posts coming from Ontario Edubloggers. You get full value for your reading.


Good Tree Stories

This week starts off with a post from Sheila Stewart. Maybe it’s a little less “education” than normal but it might make you look at your Christmas tree in a different way. She was inspired by a story about Halifax donating a tree to Boston which led her to thinking about trees in Kenora.

It got me thinking about Christmas trees in my life. As a kid growing up, it was always down to the trees sold by the Kinsmen and Kinettes. The tree had to be the perfect height with the perfect amount of symmetry. Lots of mathematics to consider when you’re freezing…

In our town, there’s always a big show as our natural tree is lit. The mayor, town crier, shooting of the town cannon, fireworks, hot chocolate, and of course the RiverLights.

These days, we’ve found the perfect solution for our rec room – an artificial tree which is absolutely symmetric. It makes the perfect backdrop for our Christmas picture.


If not now, then when?

From Rob Cannone, the best wisdom for professional learning.

With students, they learn something and immediately put it into practice. Can you imagine the disaster if you taught something and then didn’t get into projects, assessments, or any of that good stuff until a month or two later?

So, why as teachers, do you attend professional learning events and then not implement things right away?

Rob notes some steps that he feels should be done.

  • One thing at a time
  • Open the box
  • Share learning with others
  • Practice makes progress (accept it won’t be perfect)

His third point is even more important in this day and age. There was a time when you might learning something and then share it with a colleague in your school. With social media and its power, your best new learning partner just might be online.


Q is for Questions and Not Getting Caught in the Quagmire

From Lynn Thomas, another post that I thought moved nicely from kids to yourself in the argument that she builds.

We all remember our days at the Faculty of Education and the advice that we got about questioning – never ask a question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No”. Aim for something deeper and richer so that the student can provide evidence of learning.

Then, for me, the post took a turn.

When we ask questions of ourselves, do we aim for the richer questions or are we happy being able to respond “Yes” or “No” or ticked off on a to-do list? Or, updated to 2019, anything that can be answered quickly by a search engine.

Other than the fact that Quagmire also starts with a “Q”, I like her logic of avoiding getting stuck.


KEEPING BIRDS SAFE INQUIRY – GRADE 1

From the STAO blog, something a little different from Laura Collins. It’s actually a unit of study about birds and safety.

We have a couple of bird feeders in the back yard. We know that you have to reliably fill the feeder. We’ve learned about ways to avoid birds flying into windows. We’ve learned how to keep the squirrels off the pole. There’s so much more in this unit including the CN Tower.

And we get so excited to see Blue Jay, Cardinals, Woodpeckers. Squirrels, not so much.

There’s a real wealth of activities, literature, and learning opportunities here. Wow!

Most definitely shareworthy.


Guided Reading with Adolescent Readers

I thought that I was going to be like a fish out of water with the post from Deborah McCallum. After all, I didn’t teach reading. That’s for the younger years; by the time we got them in secondary school, they should know how to read, right?

But, are they all really accomplished readers?

Deborah points to a lack of extensive research in this area. In our voicEd Radio show, Stephen shared some of the challenges that he had as an adolescent reader. Do we make the assumption that because they’re older, they just are all natural readers or have at least mastered the skill successfully?

Deborah offers a few things to think about. Good for beginning readers but certainly worth keeping in mind for the older ones.

  • Low knowledge of vocabulary
  • Inadequate word recognition strategies
  • Lack of schemata or background knowledge to interpret text
  • Poor use of strategies to comprehend what they are reading

HTML/CSS with Canada Learning Code

My neck snapped when I read the title to this post from Alanna King. Then, I thought, we’ll turn her into a programming geek yet.

In a previous post, she mentioned how he was excited about learning about design and interface but now she’s rolled up her sleeves and is digging into code.

Her description of the activity matches the activities that we used to set up in our “Women in Technology” workshops for Grade 7/8 girls. There is something magical about looking behind the scenes to see exactly what’s going one. You might remember the inspirational “a pixel here, a pixel there”.

These days, there isn’t a huge need to be able to code many things from scratch since we have such great, purposeful editors to work with. And yet, there is the odd time when you need to look behind the scenes because something isn’t working just right. I can’t imagine how long it would take to write a blog post without an editor.

But, I still maintain, that’s not the ultimate goal. To be sure, the power behind programming and coding is knowing that you can absolutely be in charge of that page, that site, that device, that electronic thingy. Once you know, realise, and understand that, you can’t be pushed around by a wannabe or a particular device.

Learn and take charge – Alanna’s on a wonderful trip.


Equity Tech’quity

There’s real frustration in this post from Matthew Morris.

the kids in my classroom were in the middle of completing their short stories and the laptops they had been writing short stories on were booked – for the entire week. 

In his school, the supply doesn’t meet demand when it comes to technology and that’s the TLDR;

It’s the sort of thing that legitimately turns teachers off using technology in a meaningful, reliable way. Imagine any subject area where you can only do what you need to do every other Thursday if you remember to book things.

“We are teaching students born in the 21st century. We need to meet them on their plane.” Round of applause.

How many times have we heard this? Some self-important speaker on the speaking route commanding a fee that could otherwise have bought maybe 10 Chromebooks. Or, in Matthew’s case looking at a neighbouring board where a commitment to the concept has resulted in every student being given a device. I can understand the frustration.

Somewhere along the line, the people who allocate the dollars have to decide whether they’re prepared to fund a significant program or be happy with periodic low-level activities.


Thanks, once again, to these wonderful Ontario educators for blogging and sharing their thoughts. Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. And, make a blogger happy – leave them a comment.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @SheilaSpeaking
  • @mr_robcannone
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @staoapso
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @banana29
  • @callmemrmorris

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

AI fun for the classroom


We read so much about how AI is the future. At times, the things that pop into the news seem so far fetched that it’s easy to write off as the sort of thing that only the truly geeky can appreciate.

Then, something comes along that brings things down to our level – you know the sort of thing that you can experiment with on your own personal computer and get some interesting results. This makes you think that maybe there’s something about this for the future after all!

My preoccupation for the last while has been the Teachable Machine.

The tutorial talks about a three step process – Gather, Train, Export.

Gather is kind of fun sitting here in my computer area all by myself. I’m not sure that I’m ready to do this in front of the family.

Train is at the heart of it all. Once you have gathered enough information, you get the opportunity to see how your model recognizes new things.

Export lets you take the results of your hard work (or seemingly hard work since I was learning more than just working the tutorial) for purposes beyond the tutorials.

I’m not sure that I can claim to be all that more of an expert in this as a result but I sure learned a great deal about this Teachable Machine. The site isn’t one to leave you to fend for yourself. There are tutorials to help along each step.

Not surprisingly, since it’s a “withgoogle” project, there is a great deal of YouTube video to support you. Above and beyond the actual work, there are articles that will let you do some more in depth reading. In particular, the Ethics article was interesting.

If you’re looking for a product to dabble with in your classroom, you need to check this one out.

100 days


There are a lot of challenges shared on/to social media. You’ve probably seen them. Write a blog post daily for 10 days. Or post a picture you’ve taken daily f0r 30 days. Depending upon your devotion, these can be easy or difficult to go the distance.

In the program for the Bring IT, Together Conference, Peter Beens offered a session about 100 Days of Code. Not 10 days; not 30 days; but 100 days. This was like waving a red flag in front of me. I had to check it out.

The session was small which made for an intimate discussion with Peter.

So, off we went. Peter’s presentation resources can be found here.

I went to the session with a particular interest to finding out what Peter was learning about coding and how he found the inspiration to stick with it for the 100 days. He kind of headed away from that discussion by pointing out that, while the process was based on https://www.100daysofcode.com/, the key to success was to make it personal. He had bought into that concept which was the major takeaway from the session, not what he had done personally. I’ll buy that and in the slidedeck, you’ll find some of the challenges that he undertook.

He also encouraged us to think bigger. I found that interesting; use the concept but apply it to something that you’d like to pursue.

Using this approach, he offered these suggestions…

There were a couple of things that he demonstrated that I know that I need to do more and then there are a couple of things that have been nagging me all along that I haven’t addressed properly.

  • of course, the coding. I need to find projects of personal interest and code for more than random things every now and again
  • I do have a GitHub account, but I need to do more with it. Something Peter mentioned of note that really resonated was the more readable links for sharing
  • I’ve always meant to look into GitHub as a blogging platform. Mike Zemansky demonstrates this well with GitHub pages. https://cestlaz.github.io/
  • investigate GitHub for use in the classroom

These are not quick and easy things to address and I don’t see them coming to fruition any time soon.

But, we all need inspiration to move and keep learning. Peter provided that inspiration for me in this session. Thank you, sir.

Coding for Young Mathematicians


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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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.


Cyber Dissonance: The Struggle for Access, Privacy & Control in our Networked World

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.


A Journey with Sketchnotes

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.

Miserably.

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.


Walking in a New Way – the Ottawa Indigenous Walk

This is a very powerful and insightful post from Paul McGuire. He’s pulling all the stops out on opportunities for his teacher-candidate class.

In this case, he took them on a walking tour of Ottawa. What a rich setting for Canadiana and Canadian history. He’s done it many times.

But, this time, he had a indigenous community member lead the walk. What a concept.

We can all walk and look at and read the plaques but having someone who knows the story behind the story would be priceless.

Is such an opportunity available in your community?

Why not reach out and see if it is?


Autumn Math Walk

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.


How To Self Engineer A Learning Community?

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.


30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26 – The Perfection in Imperfection

As a Clinton boy, I took a little pain from reading about Heidi Solway’s trip to Goderich with her husband. Goderich? Really?

You have to smile at the little things that were supposed to happen but didn’t on this getaway. It happens to all of us.

But what a nice description of a getaway to celebrate 25 years. I loved the list of the things that they did not do. And, of course, they did…

  • enjoying conversation over dinner at a quaint and quiet pub
  • hiking along a decommissioned railway under a canopy of trees
  • studying the activity at the salt mine as a barge made entry, then exit the next day
  • driving along the beach at night listening to the power of the waves, feeling immense presence in the moment
  • sleeping in perfect silence with no thought of waking to the wonderful racket of kiddos
  • browsing through books in the most perfect independent book store which seemed planted there awaiting my arrival
  • reminiscing, even just a little, over crazy and comical things from the past

I’ll be honest; when we return to Huron County, we do go to Goderich. It really is a delightful and beautiful place to visit.

And Heidi and Paul – congratulations on 25 years.


Hit By A Car

This post closes on a rather sad note from Diana Maliszewski.

Her husband and son were struck by a car in a crosswalk. She even reconstructs the accident scene for us.

Diana does go into great detail and I would encourage you to read this post to get the complete story.

For all of us, pedestrians or drivers, there’s a powerful message about paying attention and being alert at all times. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense that nothing will happen – until it does.

I’m sure that there will be more details from Diana in the future but if I could make one plea – put down that damn phone and pay attention.


Please take the time to click through and read these terrific blog posts. As always, there’s great learning to be had.

And, make sure that you’re following on Twitter…

  • @tk1ng
  • @tina_zita
  • @mcguirp
  • @McLennan1977
  • @rolat
  • @HSolway
  • @MzMollyTL

This post originated on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I almost did it again.  Instead of “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”, I started to type the title as “The Week in Ontario Edublogs”.  I’ve done it before and that’s why this post’s numbering doesn’t reflect the actual number of times I’ve written this post.  Sigh.  Let’s just say I’ve written it a lot.

And here’s what I was excited to read this week.


An Alternative To A School Cellphone Ban

After a bit of a dry spell, Andrew Campbell is back blogging.  What caught my eye about this post was that he claimed that the Premier made reference to it on social media.

As Andrew notes, this isn’t a problem that schools have created, it’s one that parents and students have brought into schools with them.  So, Andrew offers the simplistic solution – have parents make students keep the devices at home.

I suppose that such a simplistic approach is doable.  After all, there are other things that are not allowed in schools and there are heavy handed consequences for doing so.  The same could apply to cellphones.

I think back to my schooling and we actually had to purchase a sliderule for use in school.  One of the wealthier kids in the class came with an electronic calculator and was absolutely forbidden to use this device which gave exact answers in favour of using a device that approximated the answer.

Calculators were introduced with some folks screaming about the demise of civilization (at least the Mathematics part of it) and yet these devices are just taken for granted these days.

I suspect that years from now, people will look back and laugh at how we anguished over the issue of BYOD and bringing powerful and enabling devices into the classroom.  The issue they might be debating could be about whether reading about Einstein or interacting with a holograph is more educationally sound.


Back To The Map Of Canada: What Do You Do With That 2%?

This post from Aviva Dunsiger brought me back nightmares about quicky PD sessions given in staff meetings.  Often they’re about 15 minutes long, totally out of context for me at least and ultimately we wrote them off as filler.

As you read Aviva’s post, you can visualize her heart rate climbing as a result of anxiety.  I’m surprised that she didn’t bring in something to do with self-regulation.

Personally, I can recall such PD sessions where I got my colours done in that 15 minutes to tell me that my learning style was something other than what I thought.  Then, there was the time we all had to sing and, believe me, you don’t want to hear me sing.  After the meeting I approached the superintendent and offered to lead a session to have everyone create a program and was turned down.  I guess there are priorities.

It seems to me that doing something in a staff meeting with teachers from various grades and subject areas is actually a very hard task.  It needs to be generic enough to be meaningful enough to everyone and yet valuable enough to justify the time devoted to it.

Not an easy task.


This week we did…something

It’s the time of year for Progress Reports – the things that go home in advance of Report Cards.  There was a time when these were a quick glimpse about socialization and a status report on work habits.  Now, they’re substantially more than that.

This post from Lisa Corbett paints an interesting picture of the challenge of making something worthwhile at this time of year, given her approach to the teaching and learning done in her class so far.

Because of the work I’m doing to spiral in math this year I am feeling like I don’t have a lot of things to use for comments on progress reports. I’ve decided to focus my commenting on some of the mathematical process skills.

I think that, when you read it, you’ll empathize with her plight.

Perhaps for the Mathematics subject area, she could just put a link to this post in the student progress report and have the parents read what’s going on here.


Focus on Trees – Part One

Absolutely every now and again, it’s really important to take a look at the learning environment and that’s what Ann-Marie Kee does here.  In particular, she identifying various trees and their significance on her school property.

Could you do that?

I think to some of the new builds where a bulldozer comes in and flattens everything and a boxy school building appears.  A little later, perhaps some grass and a few trees as part of a planting or community partnership.

You’d never be able to say this with that approach.

I think of our trees as keepers of our culture.

And, I just have to include this.


Preserving the Cup

Skip to the end and Beth Lyons says it well.

But our educators can not pour from an empty cup.

One of the things that Beth has observed is that this year is a bit different from others.  She claims to be an optimist but is struggling to have optimistic thoughts these days.

She sees teachers stretched thin already.  Herself included.  And, it’s only October.

Who better than a teacher-librarian who has interactions with every staff member in the school to make that observation?

Is there a magic potion that can be taken to turn this around?  I think we all know that the answer is no.  I can’t help but wonder if the recent election hasn’t contributed heavily to this – we live in a time when positive messages take a back seat to the negative.  It has to take a toll.

Caring for others is important but Beth notes many times that it’s also important to take care of yourself.  It’s not being selfish.

We need to get beyond that.


100DaysofCode

Peter Beens is participating in very active pieces of personal learning.  Earlier this week, I noted that he was part of the WordCamp in the Niagara Region?  This is different.

When you click through, you’ll see that this whole project is very comprehensive. Much like other challenges like the 30 days of photography challenges, Peter has to work on something every day. He’s doing so and documenting it.

You’ll also click through to see the activities and Peter sharing his notes on his work.

Wow!


‼️‼️ELECTION DAY‼️‼️

And, finally, a new Ontario Blogger. This is from Indigenous Awareness.

Essentially, this post is a summary of positions about Indigenous issues from the major political parties in Canada. When I first read it, I was feeling badly that I hadn’t read it in advance of the election.

And yet, now that we have a minority government in place, perhaps the messages and positions from the parties are even more important. Will they be held accountable?

By themselves, each of the parties have shared their positions. But, since no one party will be able to pass legislation without assistance from another, looking for common threads or close to common threads might be a good indication of what might happen.


As I say every week, please take the time to click through and read these posts in their original form. There is great thinking and sharing of ideas there.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter to stay on top of their future thinking.

  • @acampbell99
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • @pbeens
  • @indigenousawrns

This post appeared originally on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.