Getting serious about privacy

I think we’ve all heard of the stories – I mention that I was looking to buy this or I did a search for that product and then, lo and behold, advertisements for that product appears on your desktop. Coincidence or not, it’s pretty freaky when it happens.

A long time ago, I took action around here to block advertising and third party cookies. When I want to purchase something, I would like to do my own research and come to my own conclusions about products. Plus, I didn’t like all the bandwidth that these advertisements were using. It definitely slowed things down here and my internet access is slow enough to begin with.

If only this setting, which is available on all modern browsers, did the trick.

Basically, websites are on their honour to recognize this and do something about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a banner that told you that they respecting you. Actually, search engines like DuckDuckGo that do respect you make that claim up and front. Thank you for that.

For the others, I guess we’re on our own. Allow it to happen or do something to prevent it like installing an advertising browser blocker.

Fortunately, for us, latest releases of browsers are helping the cause.

Opera has advertising blocking built right in and also offers a free VPN.

Brave also has advertising blocking as a key component. It also has an interesting feature – most modern browsers allow you to open a “Private Window” which has a limited privacy protection. But, Brave also allows you to open a tab using the Tor network. That’s very handy instead of using the Tor Browser.

Chrome is promising a feature that will block what they’re calling “heavy” advertising. Where the advertisement blocking extension fits into this remains to be seen.

This weekend, I’ve been playing around with the latest in Privacy protection from Firefox. It’s labelled as “Enhance Privacy Protection”. Rather than just taking their word that they’re blocking things, a graph, by day, shows what they’re blocking. As I write this, Firefox claims that it has blocked 47 trackers. For the record, it’s 11:15 on Sunday morning. I’ve been on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, my blog, and a couple of newspaper websites. I haven’t even checked my email yet; it’s the weekend…

So, what’s it blocking?

There’s a warning that some sites won’t work with this level of paranoia. That’s always been the concern when you’re using blockers. For those special times when I absolutely need to go to a website, I’ll open it in a Private Window so that it can set all the cookies it wants and they’ll be gone when I close the window.

If you do one bit of learning today, read the corresponding documentation from Mozilla.

Trackers and scripts Firefox blocks in Enhanced Tracking Protection

Maps, oh my!

I drove home from Leamington the other day and, as I put things on the counter including my phone, I noticed that the home screen game me the temperature from Marshfield, Ontario.

I mentally retraced my path and I had no idea where Marshfield was.  I thought that I knew of every place in Essex County.  So, I said to myself

Well, Google will know

As it turns out, Google didn’t.  Marshfield, ON gave me a reference to some place in Massachusetts.  Marshfield, Ontario struck out on the Marshfield part but it was able to find Ontario.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 at 06.55.06

That wasn’t terribly helpful.

I tried DuckDuckGo – it had never heard of it.  I tried Bing and got a hit!  And, a link to a map showing me where it was.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 at 06.52.18

Or, from a Vector perspective.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 at 07.01.10

OK, now it makes sense.  I had driven by it on County Road 18 or as longtimers call it, The Pike.

But, more interesting than now knowing where Marshfield was was the map that showed where it was.  The link was

The best part comes from the pull down menu titled “Switch Map”.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 at 06.52.07

This is a definite keeper for me.  For those times when you might want a second opinion or just another look/representation of an area.

Note that Map of the World is a menu too.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 at 07.05.56

Oh my!


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Whew!  I spent some time and made sure that I got the title right this week unlike last.

Please take a few moments to read and think about these posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Community or Cohort?

Lisa Cranston continues a discussion that she started about Community and that Stephen Hurley and I talked about on our voicEd Radio show.  Just because you have a group of people in the same place at the same time (or relatively in the case of being online), does that mean that they’ve created a community?

We think not and offered up the term Cohort instead in some cases – connection by circumstances rather a meeting of the minds – as an alternative way of looking at things.

With this in mind, Lisa digs into her own past and determines times when she was in a community and when she was in a cohort.  This, after doing a little Latin research.


I’m reminded of the popular PLC concept so often found in education.  You’d like to think that people are there because of a sense of community and a unified direction.  In another place and time, I had PLC explained to me as an event involving coffee, doughnuts, and supply teachers and not necessarily the goals that the organizer had originally intended.


Any discipline has its own jargon and Lisa Corbett takes a look at it in Mathematics.

The context was three students showing how they would share 10 granola bars.  I loved the pictures that she includes; you can just envision the students thinking.

Getting the answer is only part of the puzzle; communicating how you got it factors in as well.

I’ve had students who use manipulatives to show how they got an answer, but then not have the words to explain. They just point and smile.

The entire package involves getting the answer and then explaining it.  Lisa notes that she’s got lots of time ahead of her to work on this!

Election Signs – Easy Media Lessons for Elementary Educators

This is a timely post from Diana Maliszewski on the Association for Media Literacy blog.  It’s a reminder that media is everywhere and what better time to take advantage of the upcoming municipal elections than between now and next week.

She offers a big list of possible tasks…


and possible questions…


But, hurry and get it done to take advantage of all the lawn signs that will go down after the election.  And, while you’re at it, bookmark her post for any future elections that come our way.  This never gets old.

To help out, Diana also shares Ontario Curriculum Expectations that can be addressed with the activities.

The role of “practice” in mathematics class.

Like any skill, you only get better through practice.

In this post, Mark Chubb shares his thoughts about the concept of practice.  I can identify with his description of practice as it applied to my youth, growing up and learning the concepts by “drill and kill”.  Truth be told, I enjoyed doing many problems.  Mathematics was always the first subject area that I attacked at night because I found it relatively easy and I guess got me into a success mindset for everything else.  Later in life, as an educator, I can now look back and wonder about the time/benefit ratio.

Whether or not it increased my prowess as a mathematician or just a user of mathematics is up to debate, I suppose.  Even to this day, I enjoy doing mental mathematics.

Embedded in Mark’s post is a chart identifying the concept on “practice” in two categories – rote and dynamic.  When I think back, I definitely nailed the rote part and it was only after success that I was able to see and do the dynamic stuff on a personal basis.  I don’t recall it ever being part of my schoolwork.  It just happened at some point.

Mark offers a framework for mathematics proficiency and challenges you with a number of questions designed to have you look at your own practice.  The conversation continues in replies to his post.

Know When To “Just Google It”

Do you notice how easy “Just Google It” rolls off the lips rather than “Just Bing It” or “Just DuckDuckGo It”?

Matthew Oldridge’s post takes me back to a time when none of the above phrases was possible.  In my day, it was “Just Think About It”.  Or “Don’t You Remember?”.  The mind was the place where you accessed facts that you should know.  If you didn’t know or remember the facts, it was time to head to the library to research.  However, there can be limitations.

I recall a time when I was going to create a project and had to change it when I went to the library and the book on the subject was already booked out.

Today, as Matthew notes, we have access to a firehose of information which presents a different set of challenges and possibilities.  Kids today have it easy.

Is it a good thing that

Our memories have gone external

“I haven’t lost my mind. It’s backed up on tape somewhere.”

If You’re Having A Bad Day, Cause A Flood

If you’re not tired now, read this loooooong post from Aviva Dunsiger.  You’ll have an immediate need for a nap!

Here’s an outline.

  • The forest was busier than usual.
  • I had a prep period 2.
  • Paula and I were both feeling a bit dysregulated.
  • There was additional noise.
  • It was Pizza Day.
  • With duty for me during the second nutrition break, Paula had to leave for her lunch early, which meant that the play hadn’t fully settled before she left.

How’s that a framework for a day?  Of course, in Aviva fashion, she fleshes out each of these as only she can with embedded images and descriptors from her social media feed.

Somehow, she pulled it off and would still go home to continue the discussion.

You’ve got to be curious about the notes to the caretaker.

But what else can you do but do your best to make every day a great day.

Despite the odds.

Adjusting on the Fly

This week I had some real life coming at me fast. My mind wasn’t quite able to multi-task as fast as the changes were coming, and as a result, I burst out laughing in front of students as things seemed to be falling off the rails.

Just to prove that kindergarten isn’t the only place where things come fast and hard, Eva Thompson offers this post that tags on nicely to Aviva’s.

While pictures could have easily documented the trials that Eva had, she does a wonderful job of describing her own day in her own words.  And, what teacher can’t identify with the analogy she uses of a skater who falls but has to get up and finish the routine.

Haven’t we all had those moments?  I think it goes to a different level with Eva because it wasn’t with her “own class” where we all know that you get a do-over.  So, she had to continue.

Harkening back to Lisa Cranston’s post above, Eva describes the support of colleagues

ON. WITH. THE. SHOW.  The staff in the building were very gracious. They kept giving me the “keep going” signs – thumbs up, head shakes, hand waves, circling the room to help.  They knew this was the best that it was going to get. I wasn’t particularly faltering, this was a tough crowd. I’m a stand up without a laugh.

Isn’t it a tribute to her professionalism that she picked herself up from the ice and skated through to the conclusion?

Awesome posts again, folks.  I’m so happy that you elected to share your thoughts and experiences with the world.  We’re so much the richer for having read them.

Please take a few moments and visit the blogs above and share a little blog lovin’ via comment if you’re so inclined.

Follow these folks to find out what they’re up to next.  I do!

This post is part of a regular Friday feature on this blog.  Pick a Friday and you’ll find this post.  Or find them all here.

Searching 101

Yesterday, the US President made reference to this “report” indicating that there was a problem with Google searching for him and the results returned.  Is it rigged?

I wonder.

Common social media wisdom is that you should “Google Yourself” periodically to make sure that your online presence is appropriate.  I’m sure that’s what he was doing.  Actually, I’d be willing to bet that he was made aware of the article and then did a search.

So, if the president of the United States has issues, how about this little guy blogging away on his Chromebook?  I decided to test it out.  We all know that Google has its “magic sauce”.  Is it friendly to me?

I put Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to the test – just simply looking for myself.  To make things easier (or skewed), I made sure that I was logged into my Google and Microsoft accounts.

Here are the results.


Two of the top 10 results were of me.  The number one result was actually a football coach who spells his name differently.


One of the top 10 results were of me.  That football coach appears again.


Wow, there are a lot of people with similar spellings.  In fact, DDG thought that I made a mistake and wanted to search for “Pederson”!  I didn’t appear in the top 10 results but eventually reference to my Twitter account appeared.

So, rigged?

Now, all of this was interesting (kind of) but is certainly not representative of how I do searches.  Even when I was responsible for the Student Reference Portal for my district, I’d never suggest going to the simplest of searches.  Every search engine has advanced search abilities that lets you find the most relevant resources.

Screenshot 2018-08-29 at 11.40.28

This is where anyone who is serious about the results of searching should begin.  It’s “Searching 101”.  In fact, by using the advanced search properly, I was able to generate 10 results that were all me.

Could I be so bold as to suggest this should be the first lesson on searching skills for the upcoming school year?

And, if you don’t want to bookmark a particular site, you’re well advised to learn how to use search operators.

If you’re going to use the tools, use the tools to their max.