Category: Computers

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Friday morning is cleanup time in my browser.  I typically have the blog posts that I want highlighted in this post open since my This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on voicEd Radio on Wednesday.  It’s always a clean start when I’m done!

What would we do in a world without browser tabs?  Oh, yeah, have a multitude of bookmark files…

Creators of Content through Gaming via the micro:bit

There really is nothing like playing around with a micro:bit connected to your computer.  You can do all kinds of things with it, and it’s priced so affordably.  In this post, Derek Tangredi takes us a little further.

The greater benefit I see in making games is that it provides ample opportunity for subject integration.  Attempting to create fully immersive experiences while adhering to intended outcomes can be daunting for some and these “maker” based projects can provide that landscape.

This post is a true “maker” post.  I can say that because the project starts with a cardboard box.  When you’re done, you’ve created your own arcade.

Derek includes a couple of videos to help you thought the process.

Google Input

I had previously talked about the Preserve our Language Project and the amazing job that these students had done with creating an Ojibway keyboard for the Macintosh computer.

This project is a team effort by Rayne, Gene, Tarcisius, Joan, and principal Mike Filipetti.

The latest check in to their site reveals that the project continues and their efforts are now available in the Google Input Tools.


You can try it out online or get the extension or Android application.

This project continues to amaze and impress me.  When was the last time you did something that will change a part of the world?

Leading to Win or Leading to Grow

Those who would post quotes to social media and then hope that others share them would be well advised to read this post from Anne Marie Luce.

After reading her post, I think that the best advice for anyone who plays in the “leading” area needs to think about the long run.  The short little blast that gets you some sort of fame quickly fades.  The leader that works hard to create more leaders by bringing out the best in people are in there for the right reasons and for the duration.

Building leaders and capacity is hard work.  Anne Marie links to a blog post that inspired this one and it’s certainly equally as inspirational.

I like her notion of a healthy organization.

How do we create a healthy organization that ignites passion in others and allows them to take risks to explore it?

As the March Break comes to an end, perhaps a few moments to reflect on your own organization is in order.  Would you consider it to be healthy?  If not, what can you do about it?

Analogy for ‘Learning’

So, Helen DeWaard shares her homework for Ontario Extend in this post.  It was in response to a provocation


You’re probably thinking about your own discipline right now and I’m sure that the answer to that question could lead to a number of discussions.

One of the areas that Helen brings into play is that of prior knowledge.  I think that most of us assume that this is a good thing.  But, is it always?

In our radio show, Stephen Hurley and I talked a bit about mathematics and the challenges that can exist.

  • going from one teacher to another or one school to another with different approaches to mathematics
  • mom and dad helping with homework
  • the after school paid homework services
  • …  add your own

How many variations on a topic is possible?  Any chance that there’s a misunderstanding anywhere?


Last week, we looked at “Filled to the Brim”.  The concept was to get together and talk professionally outside of the school.  This is a nice continuation of the concept by Tina Zita where she describes a Saturday afternoon with a nice bunch of Ontario Educators.  I’d call is a “school of Ontario Educators” but that sounds a little fishy.

The topics, as outlined in the post seemed to settle around.

  • Relationships
  • Balance
  • Ideas

As I looked around the boardroom table picture from the post, I see some familiar faces, lots of food and no technology.

I thought this was a bit peculiar since the meeting was hosted by startup Soapbox which has an interesting application that looks like it could be used to start or continue these conversations.

Student Digital Leadership in action

One of the faces around the table was Jennifer Casa-Todd who blogged to make the connection between student social activism and some of the points in her book SocialLEADia.

I particularly like her advance warning because I feel the same way.

I have been watching the #NeverAgain movement over the past week. I am always reluctant to share anything overly political; especially when it comes to American politics, because I know that as an outsider things look simplistic when indeed they may be very complicated.

The actions that happened this week prove, without question, that students have a voice and can be passionate about their cause.  I happened to be at a television set and flipped through a number of news channels during the walkouts on Wednesday.  It was interesting to note which news channels had coverage and actually reporters on the ground reporting live and honouring student voice.  There was one news channel that didn’t even mention it.

No wonder students are so frustrated looking for a solution that, as an outsider, seems so easy to resolve.

Politicians need to be keenly aware of the message of students signing up to vote for the first time and to vote for those who have a viable platform based upon their safety.

Temporal Prejudices

Tim King was inspired by a sharing of a story about Winston Churchill to write this post.

He sets the context.

I’ve seen people time and again criticize those who lived before them as being immoral and somehow answerable to the laughable ethics of our own time. That article on Churchill, a man who lived at the end of the British Empire and spent much of his career trying to hold the tattered pieces of it together, often using the same kind of bombastic rhetoric you still see today, is no doubt accurate, but the re-defining of statements made over a century ago based on modern values is neither fair nor particularly useful, unless you’re a politician trying to win a point.

The whole blog post got me thinking, in particular how education handles topics like this.  I’m thinking, in particular, of a Grade 11 History class.  For our studies, we had “The Book”.  It was given to us at the first of the year and it was “the truth” and we just learned what was enclosed in the book.

I like where Tim takes this.  I suspect, that under scrutiny, we didn’t view topics from the enlightened view of an objective historian.  We did try to picture the past and relate it to the life that we were currently living.

Even when we would research the biography of a historic figure, it was through the eyes of the biographer and they wouldn’t have been chosen for their objectivity but for their ability to write something that’s pleasing.

In today’s world, not only do we have a Biography Channel on television, but we have more news and resources that would just be unfathomable to those in Churchill’s time.  We have so many versions of the truth available for any topic.  If we don’t like the coverage on a particular channel, we just change the channel until we get something that we want.

What will those who follow us think of us?

Why It’s Time to End Publicly Funded of Catholic Schools in 2018

When I talk to my US friends, they really find it unbelievable that we have so many publically funded schools in Ontario.  We’ve just been accustomed to it.  As an aside, they’re really impressed that we have a Computer Studies curriculum available for every school.

In this post, and consider that it’s posted on an ETFO website, Deborah Weston takes on this question and provides opinion and statistics to argue for a change.

We’re coming up on a Spring Ontario election.  Will this be a position that one or more of the political parties adopt?

And, with one final click, I’ve closed off the last remaining tab and I think my computer is breathing a sigh of relief.  Between the original blog posts and the supporting resources, I had almost 30 tabs open.

But, please do take the time to read through and check out all of these wonderful posts and drop off a comment if you’re inspired.  The, check out the rest of the Ontario Edubloggers in this Livebinder.

And, follow these great bloggers.


Obscure and really interesting

If you’re not off on vacation this week, you might want to poke around here.  Chances are, you’ll have a lot more interesting virtual holiday than those who just went to Florida to lie in the sun.

Last week, we went off for a tour of Disney locations with Google Streetview which was great.  But you can do more interesting that than at Atlas Obscura.

Before you go world hopping, consider poking around the 336 entries from Canada.

Amherstburg even made this list with Boblo Island.

Screenshot 2018-03-12 at 07.07.41

If you’re more of a map picker, you’re in luck.  All of the places from the Atlas are plotted on a Google map.  That makes it interesting to plan your day trips.

Screenshot 2018-03-12 at 07.11.30

And, if you’re just a happy go lucky traveller, you might just be happy transporting to some random place.

No matter how you traverse the site, you’re bound to find something really interesting and will learn a great deal along the way.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to a very special Friday.  In addition to getting ready to take on whatever lies for you for your March Break, it’s a chance to check out some interesting blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

So, read on!

Radio Reality

If I had to pick one field trip that I wanted to go on, it would be something from Diana Maliszewski.  She plans one big media project annually and this year, her students got to visit CHUMFM and Ryerson University.  Along the way, the students got a sense of what it takes to make a radio show happen.  What an awesome experience!

I like big, engrossing, complex topics to explore.

In 2013, it was media-tie in products related to movies.
In 2015, it was food and restaurants.
In 2017, it was clothing and fashion.
For 2018, it’s all about radio.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?  (and educational)

The post features a nice collection of pictures to document the trip.  Nice technology!

Filled to the Rim

When I first started teaching, we didn’t call it “Pub PD”.  It was more like “want to come to the Michigan after work for a drink?”.  But, time moves on.

There are a number of variations of this concept including “Coffee PD” but the message is the same.  It’s about meeting with colleagues outside of the four brick walls and without students.  If your spouse isn’t a teacher, it can be difficult to have the sorts of discussions that teachers have when they get together.  Either the topic is deemed to be so trivial or so deeply academic, often they just don’t get it.

The post is a Q&A format between Kelly MacKay and Andrea Kerr.

A: I love our people.  So lucky to work in a place where collaboration, idea bouncing, and I’ll-do-that-for-you is a given.  Pub PD is icing.

K: The feeling we get when we are planning with the white board – the place where people come to learn and are open – this feels different but just as open.  The purpose is quieter.  No clock, no need to get this finished.  No end game.

When was the last time you did something like this for yourself?

New Job

New jobs are a reality in education.  It might be teaching a new grade level, subject area, assuming a position of added responsibility, or something else.  One thing that is typical though is that the change to a new position is typically done over the summer to keep disruptions to a minimum for all involved, especially for students.

In education, it’s more than just picking up your briefcase and moving to a new desk.  There’s all those resource in filing cabinets and closets.  There’s moving digital resources around and deciding amongst all the “stuff” that you have which were purchased by you personally and which belong to the school.  It’s a task.  To do so in the middle of a year and bringing your replacement up to speed sounds like a daunting task.

Given all that, this post from Stepan Pruchnicky kind of broke many of these norms.  He started a new position as Experiential Learning Resource Teacher last Monday.  In the post, he shares some of what went into his application for the position.  No wonder he was successful.

It will be interesting if he chooses to share his experience in the new position via his blog.

Using the Microsoft Bot Framework to Create Educational Bots

This project, as related by Camille Rutherford, is very intriguing.  I remember my university days and they most certainly weren’t 9-5.  If I had an inquiry when I was working on something in the middle of the night, I would make a note and hopefully remember to follow through the next day when the professor or teaching assistant was in their office and on the clock.

Brock University is working on having a bot on call 24/7 to answer questions.  So, we can add concepts like this to the growing trend of digital assistants.

The use of Microsoft Office 365 facilitated a collaborative and dynamic process by allowing all staff members to provide insight into the content and context of the types of questions that were to be included in the knowledge base.

It makes so much sense; I can’t imagine the task of building that knowledge base and then make it interactive.  Will it ever be complete?  If it’s successful, what’s next?

In Ten Years….?

This post, from Peter Cameron, flows so nicely from Camille’s.

It’s easy to look back ten years and see how things were then.  Really easy and you might well have pictures and artifacts that will help you remember.

But, what happens when you gaze into your crystal ball and look forward 10 years?

What do you think?  Bots everywhere?  It’s not a totally strange concept.  Can you remember the first entry into the field of language processing, Eliza?  I don’t know who frustrated me more – Eliza or Clippy.  You had to start somewhere.

This is us living in the speed of innovation.  Peter then turns to the pre-school student and the perceived effects of technology on these students.  There’s been lots written about this and solutions proposed like banning them or limiting screen time.  If you’ve ever had kids or taught students, you know that by design these approaches will fail.  We need to find some way to co-exist.

It’s a great post and I’m sure that Peter would appreciate reading your thoughts.

Together we climb

Laurie Azzi continues her series dealing with mental health stories.  This time, the focus is on anxiety disorders.


Those numbers always scare me.

Laurie includes the inspirational writing of Chris Nihmey in her post.  It’s a story of anxiety from a teacher perspective.

Do you relate?

Even at some level?

Creativity: Every Classroom a Maker Space

Well, yeah…

Makerspace has kind of dropped from my reading recently so I appreciate this post from Zélia Capitão-Tavares bringing it back.

I think we learned a great deal about pedagogy from computer labs.  We speak ill of the concept now but the reality was that in the beginning computers were expensive, networking was expensive, and there might really have only been one teacher in the school that was conversant enough with computers to put them to good use.  I’d like to think that’s well behind us.

As we turn to the notion of Makerspaces, there have been the early adopters of the concept.  This time, though, we’re not limited by cost; we’re limited by a desire to do this.  So, why not indeed in every classroom?

Zélia describes a PD session as part of the TDSB #MentoringMondays program on Makerspaces.  The takeaway – not something physical but a pedagogy tuneup.

  • What curriculum connections can you make with your grade?
  • What does it mean to be a maker in this space?
  • How will you embed this within your classroom culture?

Please take a few moments and click through and enjoy the postings from their great bloggers.  Drop off a comment or two as well.

This is part of a regular Friday series “This Week in Ontario Edublogs“.  Find them all at that link.

Finally, your call to action – make sure that you’re following these great bloggers.

Digging without leaving home

I remember, a long time ago, digging a hole in our back yard.  My dad came out to see what was going on and asked if I was digging a hole to China.

It was a funny question but I also recall going into school and looking at a globe and realized that that would be pretty much impossible from where we lived.  I put my finger on the globe and then looked to see what was on the other side.  It was actually in the middle of an ocean.

I don’t know if it happened at the same time or not (it doesn’t really matter) but I remember studying about the “Earth’s Crust”.  That always seemed a bizarre term.  My only context for “crust” was on bread.  I made no connection!

Anyway, all this leads up to an engaging web resource from the BBC called “Journey to the Centre of the Earth“.

Screenshot 2018-03-05 at 10.32.06

Like most things that are well out of my comfort zone, this was so engaging.

It’s a long way down there.  I started with scrolling my mouse and quickly gave up – I’m not going to wear out my mouse for this.  I moved to tapping the space bar that took me on the trip a screen at a time.

Each screen is full of great learning and enough trivia to make sure that you win the next contest.

Screenshot 2018-03-05 at 10.37.46

But definitely keep digging.

I’m here to tell you that you will indeed reach the centre of the earth.  And, if you had been paying attention all along, you’ll be a lot smarter than when you started.

Just making a song

Turn up your speakers and let your musical creative genius flow with Google’s Chrome Music Lab.

If you can work a mouse, you can make music.

If you can make music well and can work a mouse, you’ll be over the top.

Choose your instrument and compose by drawing.  There are lots of other features to like changing tempo, the length of the bars, the scale, and more.

There’s so much to experiment with and you do reinforce the language of music to get the most from this Google Experiment.


The Chrome Music Lab is located here.  Make a song and share the link to it via comment.

Here’s mine!

Make sure you have your aspirin handy if you’re going to turn a class loose on this!  But do so – there’s so much learning and experimenting to be had.

If you want more, go to the complete Music Lab.

April – a month of computer professional learning opportunities

There are four major events happening in Ontario (that I’m aware of) for those wishing to engage in a little computer professional learning.

  1.  Ontario Google Summit – April 7, 8
  2. Thunder Bay Google Summit – April 14, 15
  3. #ECOOcamp Owen Sound – April 14
  4. edCamp London – April 28



#ECOOcamp Owen Sound Call for Proposals

The Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board and the Bluewater District School Board, in partnership with the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, are pleased to host an #ECOOcamp for technology using educators.

The #ECOOcamp model is a unique combination of learning environments – a Microsoft Strand, a Google Strand, a Device Agnostic Strand, and an Unconference Strand.  The format is designed to present learning opportunities for all educators.

When:  Saturday, April 14, 2018

Location:  St. Mary’s High School, Owen Sound

Twitter hashtag: #ECOOcamp


  • Coding
  • Mathematics
  • Robotics
  • Social Media
  • Assessment Triangle
  • Global Competencies
  • Digital Pedagogy
  • Virtual Learning Environment
  • Cutting edge TLLP projects


If you have an idea for a session, please submit it by completing this form.
Submissions close on March 11, 2018.

Please noteECOO: A Culture of Safety, Respect, and Trust

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This week was a bit different.  Quite often, I’m tagged by a person to let me know that they’ve created a blog post.  In this edition, I was tagged twice just to make sure that I knew about their efforts.  I think that it’s kind of neat that people would do it.  It lets me know that they’re proud of their writing.

If you look at the URL to this post, you’ll see a 297 at the end of it.  When you have a post with the same title, WordPress appends a number to make sure that the URL is unique.  So, according to the numbering system, we’re approaching 300 posts with the the same title “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”!  Now, there is truth in numbers.  There have been times where I’ve messed up with the title so the number is actually a bit higher.  Who knows?  This might actually have been the 300th post.  Or 301st.  Or…

It doesn’t really matter; it’s just a celebration of the great thinking that gets posted to the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Measuring or mattering?

The first such tag came from Lisa Noble who relates a story about her son and the Honour Roll at school.  With a show of empathy, his concern was about the reaction that came from others.

I have a fairly resilient kid, so he wasn’t particularly shamed by what was posted, but I also have an empathetic kid, who was looking at friends who were crying (or trying not to), and obviously struggling. One very talented child, who had achieved an average above 90, was repeating “it’s not good enough” to herself.

I know that around our supper table, it was a standing joke with my father who always asked when I got an 89, “why didn’t you get a 90?”  I remember joking back once letting him know that I wanted to leave some room for improvement.

I’m sure that the school felt the posting was a celebration of excellence but when the comment from a child says that her high mark wasn’t “good enough”, you have to wonder if there might be a better way of doing things.  A list with names could end up being a platform for shaming for more than just those who didn’t make the list.

Leadership is Oft-time Sensitive

The second tagging with a blog post came from Sylvain Lacasse.  This tagging stood out because he noted that this was going to be his first post in English.  I tried to find the original Twitter tagging and, as I mentioned on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show, I couldn’t find it.  Sylvain was good enough to listen to the show and share it with me again.


Now, Sylvain and I don’t know each other but I suspect that we’re pretty close to years of experience with technology because as he notes

When I first became a teacher, YouTube did not exist. Google stocks were not newsworthy. Apple was just a fruit… well, the tech savvy company existed, but everyone instinctively thought of apple as a fruit, nothing else. USB keys were the new technology. WordPerfect 5.1 was phenomenal and computers were, thankfully, operated by Windows 95.

Let me just stand on a soapbox here and note that WordPerfect 5.1 was the best word processor ever.  Still is.  Bar none.

I wonder, back in those good old days, if folks were as fascinated with the study of leadership as we are today.  That’s the real message in Sylvain’s post where he compares Fixed and Growth Mindset through a lens of time management.  I’d never made, or even tried to make the connection before.  Read to see if you buy into his premise and you might have a whole different approach to things.

Personal Reflection – Stage – Week 1

Another thing that didn’t exist back in the WordPerfect 5.1 days is the concept of blogging.  Sarah Lalonde (interviewed here) uses her blog to write about reflections of her new job.  Congratulations, Sarah!

The titles that she chooses to reflect on include

  • Building relationships
  • Confidence
  • Cell Phone usage
  • Looking forward

They’re all good topics and noteworthy.  I think it’s important that she’s not focussed on a subject in particular or testing.  Instead, she’s stepped back and taken a meta look at the past week.  I think this approach, done regularly, will serve her well in her career.

I guess it’s our current reality that “Cell Phone usage” makes the list for a new teacher.  Sigh.

Documenting and reflecting is good.  I wonder how many others in her class are doing the same thing?

We’ll have to follow her growth in the profession by following along in her blog.

I’m a Podcaster!

Congratulations to Ramona Meharg for taking the leap, after having been prodded by Stephen Hurley at the Bring IT, Together Conference last fall.

I hated podcasting.  It wasn’t the media form or the tools or the software or the results.  It was generating the results.  I found myself searching for perfection and editing/re-editing content to get it right.  I recognize that I have certain mannerisms and the recurring desire to cough.  With the right tool, in my case it was Audacity, I could spend all kinds of time editing these things out.

For me, doing the radio show on Wednesday mornings with Stephen Hurley is so much easier.  There are no retakes, if I make an audio uuuuuhhh, it stays in.  If I need to cough, I mute myself while he’s speaking and then unmute.

But, enough about me.  In Ramona’s first podcast, she interviews Heather Jacobi (audio link here).  I thought that the execution of the recording was quite impressive.  Both came across as being very professional in their discussion with each other.  So, nicely done, ladies.

Ramona has an interesting niche for the talk which I hope turns into an ongoing series – “I Wish I Knew – EDU“.  Interviewing experienced teachers and learning what they wish they knew back when.  It could be very interesting.

Opportunities Abound Outside Your Comfort Zone

Of course they do.  But, how many people take advantage of them?  It’s so much easier to stay in that comfort zone.  After all, that’s how it got its name.

Lynn Thomas talks about how she embraced this.  There is a sad story of some family history and then she turns to her personal opportunities as a member of a Digital Learning Team.

I think that we can all agree that mastering technology for yourself can be a challenge.  I’ve always found that the way that I approach technology use personally has a “Doug” slant to it and isn’t necessarily applicable to others.  On a personal level, “whatever gets the job done” is often good enough.

Things change when you work with others.  They have different skill sets, attitudes, approaches, desires, and varying levels as to how far they want to go in their learning.  Lynn talks about taking on the challenges of  D2L, OneNote, Class Notebook, and Flipgrid as a start and then much more.

It is indeed challenging to reach out to people at so many different levels, so many different technologies, and so many different directions.  Kudos to her.


Lisa Corbett describes an interesting activity she used for a no-bus day but it would work for any mathematics class on any day.

#WODB stands for What One Doesn’t Belong.  I remember activities like this being a pretty regular thing in my primary class.  It requires observation, logic, pattern/shape recognition, and then the ability to explain your choice well enough to convince others that you have the correct solution.

Because, you see, the best of these puzzles don’t have one absolutely correct answer.  How dare it call itself mathematics?  (tongue in cheek)

Can YOU determine which one doesn’t belong and come up with a convincing reason?

My 31 Flavours Dilemna

Of course, with a title like that, you know that ice cream is going to factor somewhere into this post from Eva Thompson.

Now, while we don’t have the store that made the number 31 famous, we do have the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlour in town and they have a layout that resembles what Eva describes.  The “problem” is in having so many choices.  You see, the lineup to get served snakes around the front of the cases and, on a hot summer night, it’s really long.  So, you have to choose wisely when you see it or you may have passed your choice and there’s no going back without bothering those following you.

Now, Eva’s blog is about education and the ice cream story is nice.  But, the relevancy lies in the educational planning that she’s doing.  A whole semester of it and it appears that it’s a little overwhelming for the students.

I have the whole semester planned out, but the students aren’t really ready to have it presented to them in this fashion.  In the past, I tried to just mention 2 things at a time and get immediate sign ups. Students will not sign up for an event at the end of May when it’s on the beginning of February. Who knows what can happen between now and then? And frankly, I don’t blame them.

It’s an interesting scenario but, as I read how Eva’s presenting it, I can see that there may be just too much for students to process at a single sitting.  I’d be willing to bet that she’d be interested in your suggestions via comment.

As I noted in the introduction, this week was a bit different.  I’m impressed that I’m concluding by noting that it’s been another great collection of blogs again.  As always.

Check out the original posts and drop off a comment.  They’ll appreciate it.  And, tagging me works – look at Lisa and Sylvain.

Finally, your call to action – make sure that you add these Twitter accounts to your learning network.