This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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Decisions, decisions


Somehow, I ended up being notified about this post yesterday. I’m in good company indeed with those who were originally tagged.

It’s an interesting area to look at and brought back memories of various things that I’ve been involved with over the years.

I might as well date myself and indicate I go back much further than this – to the era of the Icon Computer where not only were the decisions not classroom based but by the Ministry of Education for an entire province. As a teacher, I also was the technician installing new computers and software, connecting a printer, setting up spoolers, etc.

Of course, over the years, things have changed as grant money allowed individual school districts to set direction for technology use. There were a few different players in the Grant Eligible field and decisions were still influenced at the provincial level if you were going to use their money.

Eventually, the decisions became more and more difficult as classroom technology became more than the computer in the corner. It involved portable technology, various displays, the presence of tablets, internet drops, wireless access, programmable devices, BYOD, and so on.

There also was a time when licensing software was crucial for success. I was a member of the OSAPAC committee for a while and we made recommendations to the Ministry for software to be licensed. At that point, we had to consider the various platforms in use in the province, the official languages, etc. We were also keenly aware that recommendations would only be successful if they had a purpose and so every licensed piece of software was analyzed for the curriculum expectations that it could be used to address. It was a very time consuming and intensive process.

As the number of devices in school districts increased, the planning process became so much more involved. In the case with my district, we had Computers in Education School Contacts (CIESCs – one per school) who would spend a full day of active professional learning with me for a day once every other month. I was able to introduce the group to new software and ideas and they provided regular and frank feedback to help set direction.

Amidst all this, there was another player. As the number of devices expanded, so did the need for support. It was at this point that I ended up becoming more of a mediator between the technology side and the classroom side. It made for interesting times with everyone truly having a horse in the race.

There always were wins and losses. A great win was getting Firefox installed on the image as an alternative to Internet Explore and getting sites like Twitter unblocked. A great loss was me hijacking a few computers headed for recycling that I installed Edubuntu on and showing that they still had lots of life left in them. That was, until “it won’t run Microsoft Office”. This was, of course, in a time where there had to be a local application for everything; things are much different in a web-connected classroom where excellent resources don’t need to be installed – just access them online. As an aside, I still use and love Libre Office when I need something locally installed.

Resources are evaluated and chosen all the time. You’d like to think that every facet and implication is addressed to come up with what’s best for teachers and students. And, most certainly, reliability and repair turnaround has to be part of any planning and acquisition process.

I hope that the original message that started all this wasn’t entirely true in its face value. More than ever, partnerships and working together are needed for success. Particularly with technology, decisions have to be supported with professional learning opportunities. School districts can hardly stand still and always need to be looking for the answers to the questions that technology addresses. But acquisition without support and a plan for strong educational use is just throwing money away.

Without everyone having a voice, you’re going to come up short.

A Chromebook simulator


I could have used this when I got my Chromebook.

Now, a computer is a computer is a computer but there are little gotchas with various operating systems that take a bit of getting used to.

Like MacOS not liking the ALT key but uses the Windows/Super key instead for some tasks. Or the difference between a backspace key and a delete key. They’re easily learned once you set yourself on a path to actually learn them.

I suspect that my learning with a new Chromebook was the same as others.

  • what’s that magnifying glass doing on the CAPS LOCK key?
  • how do you CAPS LOCK anyway?
  • is there a files manager?
  • is there a Task Manager?
  • where did all the Function keys go and what do those new symbols mean?

And other things. Of course, they’re all easily found with a simple Google search but they’re all nicely laid out in this Chromebook Simulator.

Work your way though the menu on the left and see the results appear graphically in the main part of the screen. Although I’ve used this Chromebook for a couple of years now, there were still a few new things to learn. In this case, I learned a few more multiple-finger actions.

You might want to tuck this away as an introductory lesson for Chromebooks in your classroom.

Bonus tutorial – Pixel Phone Simulator

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday everyone. And, it’s a 13th too. And a full moon to boot. Actually a “micro” Harvest Moon. In football, we call it “piling on”. Read about it here.

But you can tough it out.

Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy some posts from these fabulous Ontario Edubloggers.


Minding the Children

OK, I’ll confess to be guilty of doing this.

Sharing memes in June about sending kids back to their parents or in late September about parents shipping kids back to school.

In this post, Sheila Stewart suggests that doing so is not the best of ideas.

I am also not sure if such humour does much to support working relationships and respect between teachers and parents.

I guess I never saw it much more than a bit of fun poking at our profession. I’ve never really thought of them as serious; more of a look at reality in the school year.


This Blog is not Dead it’s…

I guess I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief when Jennifer Aston indicated that she hadn’t abandoned things – she was just carrying through on promises to a family about not doing school work in July.

I don’t think it’s an unfair demand; after all, kids deserve family time which can be so difficult to find during the school year between working, after school professional learning, coaching, and so much more. Why not demand a little mom time during the summer.

I’m not surprised that many of her activities mirrored what my summers were like when my kids were younger – going to the beach, going to swimming lessons, potty training, but I drew the line at soccer. My kids were baseball/softball players! (Still are)

Read the post; many bloggers would have made this into a number of smaller posts but Jennifer throws her entire summer at us.

And, she’s promising to get back on the blogging scene again. Great!


L’ADN d’un leader

This is an interesting post from Joel McLean, again about leadership.

He talks about the DNA of a leader and ties in the 17 basic abilities identified by John Maxwell.

From the 17, Joel identifies three specifically and expands on them.

  • Ability to think
  • Creativity ability
  • Production capacity

The call to action is to question yourself, if you see yourself as a leader, about how you would increase these abilities.

I’m curious though about his use of the term DNA. To me, DNA is part of your make up and not something that you can change. (I watch a lot of Law & Order). To me, it begs the question. If these skills are truly DNA, can you actually change them? Maybe an idea for a future post, Joel?

With a little tongue in cheek, maybe blood tests replace interviews?


Exploring Classroom Expectations while using WipeBook Chart Paper

Congratulations to Joe Archer…he entered a contest and won a WipeBook Flipchart. It’s part of a series of products you can find here. http://www.wipebook.ca.

Joe talks about the product, but more importantly, talks about how he uses it with his class. For me, it’s the description of the pedagogy that is exciting.

At times, and for selfish purposes, that can be overlooked when people go product bashing.

I can’t help but think about the high profile keynote speakers a few years ago who went on a rant a few years about about Interactive Whiteboards. Like anything in the classroom, they can be used well or poorly. It’s not the product itself; it’s how it’s used. “Oh, and buy my book.”

I remember years ago in my planner having a write-on cleanable whiteboard page along with the traditional paper. In my mind, the paper was good for notes that I thought would be “permanent” whereas the erasable product was more transient in how I used it. My use mirrors somewhat the classroom activity that Joe describes.

I also like the fact that Joe uses the expression “Exploring”. It conveys a message that he’s doing his own research into the product and not just following the crowd.


A Career Marked by Change: Learning the Big Lessons in Some Small Places

Debbie Donsky takes on a new role this September and uses her blog to reflect on a career – so far anyway…

I’ll confess that I was expecting something different from her title when she made reference to “small places”. I had thought that she’d be referring to the small communities that school can be in the middle of big towns or cities. But, I was wrong.

Instead, she takes the opportunity to identify 15 Big Lessons and develops each along with a picture or two.

I could identify with most of the 15 but there were three that really resonated.

  • Be where you are – reminded me of my first trips to schools as a consultant – none of them are the same and you are most effective when you recognize that
  • Be authentic – especially with kids – they have a sixth sense when you’re faking it
  • Everyone you meet can help you – and reciprocate! Together we’re better

For more Debbie Donsky, read my interview with her here.


Goodnight, World

This is the latest review of a book from the CanLit for Little Canadians blog authored by Helen Kubiw.

I’m always astounded when I talk to Language teachers or Teacher-Librarians as to how connected and insightful they are with new books or ones that have been around for a while.

The latest reviews include:

  • Goodnight, World
  • The Starlight Claim
  • Harvey Comes Home
  • Spin

Violence in Ontario Schools

There have been a number of articles released in the traditional media about a report identifying the grown of violence in Ontario schools. Sadly, the articles are not very deep except to report their sources. Then, they move on.

On the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston takes a really deep dive on this. Not only does she identify the research but she shares her insights about the issue.

She notes that there are no quick and easy solutions. In particular, she addresses a couple of the techniques often given as solutions to the problem.

Self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do help some students develop their social and emotional capacity but self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do not compensate for the myriad of causes and complex intersectionality of environmental, developmental, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, and mental health needs that may be at the root of students’ behavioural outcomes.

I would encourage all teachers to read this and look at the implications. I would also suggest that the worst thing that you could do is to ignore incidents. They need to be reported so that they can be addressed, not just in your classroom, but Ontario’s school system at large.


Like any Friday, there are always wonderful thoughts and ideas shared by Ontario Educators. Please take the time to read all seven of these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, make sure that you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • @sheilaspeaking
  • @mme_aston
  • @jprofNB
  • @ArcherJoe
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @HelenKubiw
  • @dr_weston_PhD

This post originally appeared on this blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

The toys are back in town


I’m a big fan of customization and I’ve always played around with Power Toys for Windows. Just to do stuff.

With Windows 10, the toys went away but there are a lot of other customizations that can be done right in Windows.

But now the Power Toys are making a return.

Granted, it’s a very early beta (Version 0.11.0) when I downloaded it but it was invigorating just to see what else can be done with Windows through the eyes of people that want more than just stock.

I grabbed it and the first toy is Fancy Zones. The concept is to make working with multiple windows more productive. Now, when I’m working normally, I have an external monitor to host a window but being able to have multiple windows on the main screen of my laptop is intriguing. Plus look at all the layouts that are available.

And, they’re all customizable. If nothing else, it was fun to play around with. Who says working on a computer can’t be fun? A detailed discussion of this toy can be found here.

Today’s wider screen monitors do have a lot of whitespace with our traditional applications that were designed for smaller screens. Why not put this extra space to work? And save a bunch of alt-tabbing in the process.

ROT-ting


I found this comment to my Enigma post from Alfred Thompson interesting and it took me back in a couple of ways.

I have had students program Caesar cyphers which are of course simple rotation cyphers. This reminds me – do you remember ROT-13 which in the early days of the Internet was used to hide spoilers of all sorts in messages? Seems like everyone had a piece of code to encode or decode ROT-13 back then. Today’s kids will probably never know this trick.

A couple of things. I absolutely remember teaching cyphers to students and, of course, ROT-13 was one of the mainstays. As always with every program I used in class as a demonstration or a problem that I assigned for solution, I wrote the code myself. It gave me a sense as to how long it would take to write and also a chance to make sure that it didn’t use a feature or technique that hadn’t been taught.

The second memory was a conversation with a principal about why Computer Science should be offered to students.

Hasn’t every program been already written and we’re just re-inventing the wheel?

It lent to an interesting conversation which also could be applied to just about any subject area. It also illustrates a program that today’s Computer Science teachers face. While not every program has been written, so many that you’d might actually use in class have and the connected student is only a moment away from copying and pasting the code.

In the case of Alfred’s reference to ROT-13, there’s even a website with that name!

The algorithm is readily available anywhere as well as the code. Heck, just got to this website and view the source of it to see how the developer coded it.

What’s a teacher to do?

  • I know that many are constantly creating new programs or variations on old faithfuls that hopefully don’t exist online
  • Changing their philosophy of marking – I know that myself, the actual program was only worth so much and the balance of the marks came from external documentation to prove to me that the student understood what the program did
  • Part of the problem to be addressed hinges on BYOD where students bring in their own devices; that makes it difficult to prove it’s original work but sitting next to the student and asking for a modification to the code shows whether or not the student understands
  • Use a hosting/sharing feature like GIT or Scratch repository to get to the reality for so much of what happens today – modifications to existing code (which can be more difficult that writing your own from scratch at times)

I’m sure that Computer Science teachers can add their own techniques to this list as well.

So, yes, the classics and the standards may well have been already written but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn and grow with them. There are always so many ways.

Plus, and here’s the biggy – there’s always the euphoria one feels when you get a program, any program, that you’re writing to run successfully!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As we head deeper into September, there’s no doubt that autumn is on its way. From Fall Fairs to cooler nights, you can’t question it. And, of course, crickets.

It’s a wonderful time to be outside though. It’s one of my favourite times of the year. When you’re inside however, check out some of these blog posts from Ontario Educators.


A Self-Reg Look At “Preparing Kids”: Is It Time To Change The Conversation?

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.


2019-20: Persistence and Possibility

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?

Tim is.

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?


First Week of Math: Resources to help make connections & build relationships

If I had to guess what resources that teachers of MBF3C wanted, I might have guessed:

  • new textbooks
  • better worksheets
  • higher end technology

Not so, according to Heather Theijsmeijer.

They wanted ways to connect with the students and build a good learning relationship. My suggestions above would be anything but, I think.

To assist, in this post, Heather provides links to a number of resources from a who’s who in modern mathematics instruction, including Ontario educator Jon Orr.

Follow the links for some truly inspirational ideas. I’ll step out on a limb and indicate that, with a little customization, they could apply in other areas other than Mathematics.


Teachers tell stories

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!


Snippets #1

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!)


New Beginnings, New Adventures

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.


No First Day Jitters This Year!

Things are about to change with Brenda Sherry as well. It’s not a return to books and other things for her…

She’s not headed back to a traditional school which she notes she has done for so many years. Instead, it’s education in a different direction.

This isn’t to say that jitters might not be coming, but from a different direction. You’ve got this, Brenda.

I wish her all the success with this very ambitious future.


Please take the time to visit these blog posts and check out the sharing from these terrific Ontario Educators.

Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @Self_Reg (@avivaloca)
  • @tk1ng
  • @HTheijsmeijer
  • @albertfong
  • @pbeens
  • @mcguirp
  • @brendasherry

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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