In Appreciation of Drummers

I remember the drummer in my first band.  His drum set was a number of different sized overturned cardboard boxes and I’m pretty sure that I remember him using some sticks gathered from a tree in the back yard for drum sticks.  He didn’t have any formal training but then, he didn’t know my friend Cyndie.  Well, we didn’t have the internet either so that would have made a recent share from her pretty difficult.

However, a combination of her recommendation, this computer, and the internet shows how important a good drummer is – and how hard it is to keep the beat.

My guitar teacher always had a metronome at my lessons and one summer he encouraged learning a second instrument so I chose the drums.  Both really reinforced the need for a steady beat and, quite frankly, how I didn’t have it.  So Max Weinberg has nothing to fear from me.

If you want to test your drumming abilities, then you need to check out “Got Rhythm?“.

The premise is pretty simple but incredibly humbling if you think you have any musical abilities.  You start by clicking along with the program in your browser.  That’s the simple part.  Then the program sounds fade and you’re on your own to maintain the beat.  I tried – the best I could do –

Maybe I’m better suited as an airline pilot?

It’s very simple to get started and you’ll want to improve your score.  I think it’s an excellent example of how to gamify music.  Maybe it’s a way to identify the next drummer in your class?  At the least, your students will get a sense of how important rhythm is.

While you’re at the site, make sure that you check out all of the other musical applications on “The Sound Board“.  It’s a great deal of fun and very well crafted.  I really enjoyed “100 Years of Rock” and “The Capacity of an iPod Visualized as Vinyl“.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Things certainly have heated up in Ontario this week.  Weather-wise and blogging-wise.  Here’s some of the reading I enjoyed this past week.

The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

The Diefenbunker was certainly something that we discussed in school.  It was part of Canada’s concern about the Cold War.  I did not know that it was a public museum where you could get a sense of the fear and paranoia that was a part of the day.  Andy Forgrave and son took a trip there and posted pictures and his reflections on the visit.  This is a very interesting read for me.

Why Children Misbehave —- Under Construction

You know, if you could bottle the answer to this question, you could sell millions to educators.  FlyOnTheClassroomWall (not her real name, of course, but she’s not public with it on the blog so I won’t mention it here) takes a look at a number of reasons from the book Theory and Practice with Adolescents and shares some of her insights.  Towards the end, she concludes with a list of accommodations…a good list.

Step 8 in Going Green: Remain Calm! Remember Al Gore: ‘Despair is not an option’!

Hill of Greens was a new blog discovery for me this week.  Written by Julie Johnson, this is a documentary of her work in “going green”.

At present, there are eight posts to the blog but they’re very personal and certainly has inspired this reader to reflect on my own habits.  I’ve followed Julie on Twitter for some time now, but didn’t know this blog existed.  I’m glad that I found it.

I Can’t Do This

This post is a wonderful poem written by Dr. Muriel Corbierre.

The content is a reminder that those faces in front of you all bring different skills to the classroom.  It’s also a reminder to students that not everything is as equally “easy” for everyone.

I’ll bet you can find a lot of uses for this poem.

Holistic approaches for Learning with Technology

This post, from Deborah McCallum was a refreshing break from some of the mindless posts about SAMR that you see so often these days.  She takes a reasoned approach about teaching in general.  It’s a reminder that analyzing the use of technology isolated from everything else really is a disservice.  Teaching and learning is a complicated eco system.  Big reminder here “Who owns the learning?”

Sunset Reflection

This is something that we all can do.  I can take sunset pictures from the end of the driveway any day that I want.  Sheila Stewart shares here thoughts, not only on the beauty of the sunsets that she enjoys in NorthWest Ontario but what they symbolize to her.

It’s a good reminder to us all that we need to take more pictures.

An Interview with Tom D’Amico

In case you missed it, I recently had the opportunity to interview Tom D’Amico, superintendent from the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  Tom actively models what I believe educational leaders should.  For me, it was a great chance to ask some questions that I had about what he does and why he does it.

Doug:  From my perspective, you’re “leading by leading” in this field and I really admire that.  Do you ever get questioned by colleagues for being so open about your learning and sharing?

In addition to the content that Tom generates and shares, he also shares many of the links to resources that he uses regularly.  There’s a great deal there for you and you might just want to pass the link along to your own leaders.  What more could they be doing to support the cause of learning?  Are they modelling the sort of thing that you need them to?

Thanks, everyone for continuing to blog and lead the charge for Ontario Educators.  Please check out their blog posts at the links provided and the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.

Digital Citizenship Resource

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Tom D’Amico from the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  If you haven’t had the chance to read the interview, I’d encourage you to do so.  Then, why not pass it along to your own principal, superintendent, or director to encourage this sort of progressive, open thinking.

I really like the open concepts and sharing of resources for the benefit of those in the OCSB.  But, the advantage for those of us who don’t work with the OCSB is that the resources aren’t hidden behind some educational equivalent of a paywall.  They’re there for anyone to access and use.  Follow Tom’s Scoop.IT resource to find the latest things that he’s found, bookmarked, and shared for anyone to dig in to.

If you read the entirety of the interview, you’ll see that Tom has given us some insights into how he finds the resources that he shares.  Links will take you to the resources online if you’re interested in following.

There is one link that I think is worthy of special recognition.  In the interview, I ask Tom how the OCSB handles the concept of Digital Citizenship.  I know that’s a big concern for many districts.  Ottawa Catholic has that covered already in a project they’re calling “Samaritans on the Digital Road“.


It’s a terrific example as to how a Google Site can be used to collect such a resource.  Many people who have adopted the Google platform in education have created their own resources for these purposes and certainly this from the OCSB shows how to do it.

This complete site addresses the concept of digital citizenship from JK/SK right through Grade 12.

Navigation to a grade is accomplished through a menu on the left side of the screen.

Within each grade, you’ll have a menu to the resources similar to this.  (Grade 12 menu)

You’ll see the actual lesson plan along with SMARTBoard and non-SMARTBoard resources just a click away.

Each of the lessons indicated which of the Ontario Curriculum Expectations can be addressed with the lesson.  As OCSB is a Catholic school district, you’ll also see references to the Catholic expectations addressed as well.

I know that many people are doing summer AQ courses or are already planning for lessons in the fall.  This resource may well serve as inspiration for your own works.

Where Have You Been?

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Law and Order, you know the importance of cell phone pings to solve various crimes.  As a phone moves from location to location, it needs to connect to a service in order for the phone to work; that’s just how it works.

Now, Google has a similarish service called Timeline.  Clicking this link should take you to your timeline if you’re logged into your Google account and you have your location history enabled.  I gave it a shot.

The first map that was displayed sort of showed that I’m an Ontario-type of traveller with most of the travelling done along the 401, with a few sidetrips to the Niagara Falls area.  None of this was any big revelation; I know where I’ve gone and I always take my phone with me.  The little red dots that are displayed are cell phone location check-ins as I travelled.

There were a couple of outliers though and those were interesting to check in to.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog or a CSTA member, you know that I was the Program Chair of the recently concluded CSTA Conference in Grapevine, Texas.  That would explain the red dots in Texas!

Clicking a dot reveals the location underneath.

So, it was no surprise that I was at the airport, then there’s the hotel/conference centre, and then a couple of interesting location.  Fireside Pies.  I swear; I wasn’t there.  But, as we were driving around looking for a parking spot for the Mexican restaurant that we ate at, I remember seeing it!  And, the Bookstore at the University of Texas at Dallas wasn’t on our agenda but I remember seeing it as we went to the Computing Centre.  So, I guess close does count in this case!

Google assures us that only we can see the locations in the description of the service.  Of course, those of us who are foolish enough to blog about our trips have already revealed the locations to those who read the post anyway. 

Make it stop!  If this is a little freaky, then it’s probably time for you to check out your privacy settings.  This blog post explains how to do this and more.  In the meantime, on your location history timeline, you might be interested in seeing most visited places.

I seem to have a weakness for parks and ONRoutes.

In the classroom, this would be a very engaging and visual activity for students (they all have cell phones, right?) and a great launchpad to an awareness that there are things out there unseen.

In the meantime, if you’re going to commit a crime, make sure you turn off your phone so that you’re not leaving digital tracks!

Response to Spammers

It’s always a dilemma as to whether or not to comment on responses to blog posts.  My philosophy is that I’ve given it my best shot in the original post and now it’s other’s turns if they’re so inclined.  But, there’s a very special group of replies that need addressing periodically.  These are the comments that WordPress has trapped and set aside as “spam”.


Yeah, I’ll get right on this.  How about posting it publically on the blog for everyone to contact me?  Anyone who knows their way around a keyboard can find it easily.


If only my high school English teachers had felt this way, my life would have taken a completely different direction.


Sometimes, random words can form meaningful sentences.  This isn’t one of those times.


It happens this time every year when teams are out of the playoffs.  “Maybe next year”


If only they’d made reference to what the heck they were talking about!


Well, that’s the best I could do.  I’d love to see Noeline take on these spammers with her wit and wisdom.

It’s always a pleasure to whack this button.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s great to see that summer has finally arrived.  The rain has stopped and things are warm.  Does it get any better than that?

Yep, read some great thinking from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this past while.


This is a classic post from Tim King from a year or so ago.  It came to mind from an online Facebook discussion among a few of us about the new HP laptop and ensuing discussion about teacher certification and the concerns about putting all of your eggs in one basket.  I was able to reshare Tim’s post which I think absolutely nails it.

In the rush to provide digital experiences for students, school districts often focus on just one set of tools or software package.  We all understand that education is about teaching concepts but complete immersion in one eco-system can put blinders on creativity.  Are we so sure that there is only one solution?

Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft TCG with Standard Playing Cards

So, what do creative people do in the summer time?

Become even more creative.

Brandon Grasley, gathering inspiration from his son takes a shot at a new card game using imagination and a standard pack of playing cards.

I’d never heard the expression “French Deck” before.

Can There Be Many Ways?

Teachers spend all their summer hours on glorious trips and sunny beaches, right?


Check out this post by Aviva Dunsiger where she and a bunch of friends got into a long discussion about self-regulation.  Fortunately, she captured it all in a Storify document for safe keeping so that we can relive the conversation.

In typical Aviva fashion, she quickly turns the blog post into one of reflection and then lots of questions.

I would suggest that these questions are good for all for a reality/possibility check.

Hard Questions and Second Chances

Diana Maliszewski had me hooked with her first question “How do you measure wetness?”

My first thought was “you don’t”.  However, any parent knows that you ask and answer that question a million times in a number of different scenarios.  (Let your imagination go here…)

The rest of the post deals with a very interesting inquiry set of questions/activities surrounding water.

While Diana may not be able to do the activity directly, she’s laid it out nicely so that any classroom looking for an inquiry along these lines certainly could.

Thank her!

Now I know how it feels

Wow, this is such a powerful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd.  It sends a strong message to me about juggling the theoretical with the practical.


Haven’t we all been there – banging our head trying to get wrapped around some theory or digging into quantitative research where the dots are just not connecting.  In the blog post, she shares some of the riveting page turning research she’s reading and positions it against some practical professional learning activities.  I feel for her since the weather has turned so nice and I’m sure it does require an immense amount of self-regulation to meet deadlines.

Tech tools I want to try.

Summer’s here and the time is right for …

… planning to use some new tools for the fall!

Olivia Skibinski has laid out some personal goals in terms of software to try for the fall.  Making her list are:  Edmettle, noredink, and OneNote.  Check out the post as she’s tried to explain the why she’s focused on these products.  The rationale is there and the implementation isn’t going to be small.  

What’s interesting, in additional to her descriptors, is the response from other educators who have used the software.  

The really nice thing about participating in a network of like minded learners is that she shouldn’t have to look too hard for any assistance should it be needed.

I can’t help but be amazed with the diversity and wonder of the blogging activity happening with great Ontario Educators. Take a moment and visit the entire posts to enjoy their genius.

Have you started a blog of your own?

Please consider adding it here so that we can all enjoy it.

Playing for Speed

Do you ever wonder if, somehow, you could make your computer work faster?  I wonder about that constantly.

Since I seem to do so much on the web, it’s a natural that I start there.  I recognize the limitation of my Internet Service Provider and I’ll gladly sign any petition to allow for cable or fibre optics to be pulled down our road.  In the meantime, I tweak and wonder and head into town to mooch fast internet from my daughter when a major update is needed.

In the meantime, I dance with what I’ve brought to the dance.  That largely means using the Firefox or Opera web browsers.  Every now and again, I’ll go under the hood and see if I’m not shooting myself in the foot.  I do have an addon fetish …

and that’s just what’s available for viewing.  There’s more hanging around that don’t place a one-click icon in the browser.

I read about a new (to me anyway) browser called Citrio.  I did a quick download (and it really was quick) and I was up and running in seconds.  Citrio is based on the Chromium browser so there was just about no learning at all to get started and it wanted access to the Chrome content already on my computer.  Users of Chromium, Chrome, and Opera would have no problem making the move.  I gave myself license to play around with it after reading Alfie Kohn’s post “Five Not-So-Obvious Propositions About Play” which every educator should read and ponder.  I’m basing my freedom to do this under his point #3.

I’m also mindful of a gentleman that I worked with for a summer job on a farm and his advice “Curiosity killed the cattlebeast”.  Everyone should work on a diary farm at least once.

Citro lived up to its billing as really fast to download and start.  There’s nothing as empty looking, however, than a newly installed browser.

Well, OK, I had to install Scribefire in order to write the post!

There was no doubt that Citrio had the clean look of a new browser but I’d have to put it on a testing suite in order to compare actual speeds.  Rendering of pages did feel nicely but the pages were still slow to complete.  You know why?  Advertising.

It’s noticeable because I’ve learned to read content faster than being distracted by flashing graphics that so often accompany advertising.

Thanks to the OLDaily read yesterday, I learned of this student from Simon Fraser University “Adblock Plus Study“.  It’s a good reminder that there are potentially more things alive on the internet than what you’re looking for.  (They also pay the bills for some companies)  It’s a good read.

It’s also a confirmation that a different browser may not make a huge difference in the speed with which a page appears in front of you.  It’s also a function of everything else that comes along with the desired content.  For those who pay dearly in dollars and time for bandwidth, the lesson is data savings from SFU is really worth noting.

So, the bottom line here is that I haven’t found a magic speedup bullet in a new browser but have confirmation that blocking advertising is one of the best things that I’ve done for myself.  There still is a place for a browser without addons installed though.  There are times when a page appears broken and it turns out that what’s being blocked is crucial for success.  For those events, it’s nice to have a Plan B!