This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Not a week goes by that I’m not amazed at the quality of posts and insights of Ontario Edubloggers.  I can’t help but keep wondering how many more are out there that I haven’t found yet.  If you’re blogging, please use the link above to add your resource.  The more, the merrier as they say.

In the meantime, please take some time to enjoy some of the great things that I read over this past while.


In search of a flattened taxonomy for tech integration

One of the Ontario personalities that I always enjoy meeting at conferences is Alanna King.  But for all the times that our paths have crossed, I’d never seen her present.  When I saw that she was on the schedule for the OSSTF Technology Conference, I realized that I had my chance.  I wasn’t disappointed, and as a matter of fact during her presentation, I turned to Peter McAsh who was sitting next to me and told him that here was a presenter that could be a keynote for the upcoming BIT Conference.  Her talk about literacy and comfort/discomfort had words of wisdom and advice for everyone in the room.

On behalf of everyone there, I apologize for all of us sitting at the back.  But that’s what we do.

Previously, I had mentioned to Peter my thoughts about SAMR and so he was generous enough to interrupt Alanna to get her to ask my thoughts.  (They’re documented here in the blog)  After the conference, Alanna and I had an ongoing discussion about the topic and I had sent her my references and a “whack” of others.  She created a Flipboard of some of the documents and then mused about the message in this post.

Why is everything in education either a ladder, a pyramid or a target? Do we not know any other 2-D shapes? I see the complexity of the issue of integrating technology effectively into learning as more of a sphere.


Leadership: Faith in Others

The actual keynote from the event didn’t disappoint either.  Colleen Rose did a magnificent job of addressing fear and hesitancy in using technology in the classroom.  And, she threw the whole group into some of our biggest fears – trying to be creative with crayons and PlayDoh without any preparation.  The group did pretty well and Colleen put together a nice Padlet of the results here.

What I found interesting was that, unlike some keynote speakers who beg, borrow, and steal from others without proper attribution, using the same presentation over and over, Colleen came across as fresh, honest, transparent, open, and caring.  She was very quick to recognize those who lent her support in the process, complete with lots of pictures/selfies.

This blog posst also included something that I’d never considered.  Her trip south included the TLLP event so it was a long stint south.  Lesser people like me would just pack more and more clothes.  In this case, Colleen called in on the kindness of friends and stayed at their home so that she could do laundry.  Who knew?

If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s advice in the closing line.

“You learn leadership by doing leadership” ~ Carol Campbell

What will you do today to “do leadership”?


Dear Apple, Google & Microsoft

Jim Cash addresses his concerns about the current fascination of badging/qualifications with the big three in education.  His concerns?

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I don’t think that you can take issue with any of these.  Jim does have some of the qualifications but has elected not to show them off.  I think that’s a good move for a system leader because of the optics of being in one company’s pocket.

On the other hand, I supposed that it is a good thing that people are taking technology in the classroom seriously enough to spend the money and invest the time to get these badges/qualifications.  But, is there another way?

How about the Computers in the Classroom qualification?  It’s made in Ontario and should address the Ontario Curriculum.  Unlike some of the things that the other qualifications deal with, this course shouldn’t deal with some sort of obscure software/hardware feature but rather effective teaching.  Or, how about the professional organization ECOO?  Could that organization offer some sort of badging?  A concern is that sometimes qualifications like this can be dated.  Remember when Kidpix was the big application?  Can you be current or should the qualification have an expiry date?

Check out this recent Twitter message from the OCT.  They’re doing their best.

If you do decide to go ahead and get the Google certification, this post from Sylvia Duckworth might lend you some inspiration and tips.


Blue Whale App: What is it and what should I do?

This post, from Jennifer Casa-Todd, was an eye opener for me.  I had never heard of it before but she tells of a story that involved a discussion at a parent group in Newmarket.

The claim is that this app contains a number of challenges culminating with a suicide challenge.  This is a tough topic for parents and teachers.  While this alleged app is new, the concept isn’t.  In the post, Jennifer relates her learning about the application.

In the post, her fact check on the topic lead to an article in the Daily Mail.  I did some fact checking on my own:

Beware of the Blue Whale App

‘Blue Whale’ Game Responsible for Dozens of Suicides in Russia?

I was unable to track down the app so, if it does exist, it’s not available in the traditional stores.  As we all know, we need to keep our eyes open since things like this can resurface under a different name or spawn clones.

In the meantime, Jennifer offers wonderful advice about how parents and teachers should be reminded that taking care of children should be job one.


Socks, Mathematical Thinking, and the Pigeonhole Principle

If the image in Matthew Oldridge’s post is truly of a dump of his sock drawer then I’m really impressed.  Those are the whitest socks that I’ve see in a long time.

He talks about a wonderful thinking problem that I’d long since forgotten so thanks so much for bringing it back.  The premise is simple – 10 white socks, 10 black socks in your drawer and they’re not rolled up.

In the dark,

  • how many socks do you have to select to get a pair of the same colour?
  • how many socks to you have to select to guaranteed pair of white socks?

Great examples and I enjoyed his question about whether students of different ages would solve the problem differently.

And, another kudo for making reference to Martin Gardner, part magician, part mathematician.  His writing should be in every teacher’s collection.


We are all Mathematicians!

So, Donna Fry did well in mathematics in school.  Knowing Donna, that didn’t really come as a surprise to me.

She’s relearning mathematics through a different set of eyes.  Like so many, she claims that her original learning was rote memorization – plug this into that and get the expected result and 100%.

I might have had the same teacher.  I know that I always did well in mathematics but I don’t know that I can make the same claim to excellence that she does.  I know that I always enjoyed mathematics; I’ve always considered it a discipline of puzzles and I like to solve puzzles.

Could there be a more vulnerable subject to attacks than mathematics?  Every generation has their iteration of the “new math”.  We’re seeing it again and there are great educators that are taking on this new concern with enthusiasm.

Sadly though, while we may all be mathematicians, we all don’t have the same teacher or same resources.  Nowhere is it more apparent than in the Grade 9 classroom with students coming from a number of different Grade 8 classrooms.  I can recall reading about “bluebirds” and “buzzards” while at my time at the Faculty of Education.  I later had a chance to work with a teacher who gave me a bunch of bluebirds and tried to get him to confess his secret.  I still remember his comment “there’s no magic, you just have to enjoy mathematics and let the students know it”.

It sounds like Donna is experiencing the same thing.  Can systematic change be made without everyone going through the same thing though?  She shares the wisdom of the #notabookstudy project via Storify in the post.


Fidget Spinners, Take 3: Could “Banning” Sometimes Be The Right Thing To Do?

Just when you’ve been convinced by the writing of Aviva Dunsiger, she’ll write another post talking about the opposite position and offering even more questions!

But it’s a good thing and a reminder that we need to explore all sides of an issue before making a firm decision.

Her latest take?

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With a smirk on my face, I substituted “cellphones” for “fidget spinner” and, while the distraction has a new name, the question remains the same.

Will we “be done” when we resolve the fidget spinner deally?  Of course not; there will be another distraction weaving its way into classrooms.  I suspect that the real answer lies in establishing sound expectations and sticking to them, recognizing that there needs to be some understanding on all sides.


I love the thinking of Ontario Edubloggers.  This week was no exception.  Please take the time to click through and read the original posts in their entirety and drop these authors a comment.  And, ask Aviva a question.

We all get smarter and learn better when we’re all involved.

What could be


Thanks to Andrew Forgrave for the inspiration to write this post. Last week, he wrote a couple of posts that appeared on his blog:

Support Your ECOO
How Does ECOO Get Its Board of Directors?

The title of this post was going to be “What a subject association could be”. In Ontario, the Ontario Curriculum Forum organizes meetings of a number of subject associations. I’ve created a Twitter list of the associations here. In the middle, you’ll find ECOO – the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario. It’s an organization of computer using educators but not really a subject association, hence the revision to my title. If your school is treating it as a separate subject, you’re doing it wrong. There are specific subject associations that handle the Computer Science Educator or the Technology Educator.

I’ve had a long history with ECOO dating right back to its inception. I’ve had so many fond memories of the value of the organization to me. I looked forward anxiously to the ECOO Output magazine, the resource sharing from connections, the learning from the Special Interest Groups, the value of the mini-conferences, and the annual conference. Over the years, I’ve written for the magazine, attended the mini-conferences and annual conference as a delegate, organized the provincial programming conference, presented as an educator, been a featured speaker, and co-chaired the annual conference with dear friend, daredevil Cyndie Jacobs.

My conference attending habits were the butt of jokes from a friend of mine. I became known as the champion of the “How ClarisWorks changed my life” sessions. Given a choice between sitting and hearing a big-time speaker recite the same presentation that has been delivered many times without modification, I’ll search out the classroom teacher who has tried something new and enjoyed personal success.

I’ve had great memories over the years. I remember being trapped in a Toronto hotel with the electricity (and air conditioning) gone out, I remember the fantastic setting for a conference at the Regal Constellation and its starry rooms, I remember attending the first sessions at OISE, I remember technical problems appearing in presentations, and I remember carrying a desktop computer in to do a presentation! Through the highs and lows, I’ve always appreciated the vision of the original organizers who thought that it would be a good idea to get learners to help each other master the technology. We truly have stood on the shoulders of giants.

Looking back, I realize that the organization, and all that it offers, had been just a tremendous and continuous source of personal inspiration.  There’s so much in terms of possibilities and it’s great that I can take and learn personally & also give back and learn.

It was in 2012 when Cyndie and I were approached to run the 2013 conference (and later the 2014 conference). The president at the time, gave us free reign to design a conference and times really were a-changing. The previous venue didn’t have the internet capacity for any type of growth in numbers, there were concerns yet again that the organization was on its last legs, and there was an opportunity to partner with OASBO-ICT (Ontario Association of School Business Officials – ICT). We accepted the challenge and investigated a number of different locations, concerned about a location that would support the technology, a location that would be teacher-affordable, and a location that would support a vision for the conference. As you know, we ended up in Niagara Falls.

Cyndie and I spent a great deal of time working on that vision. She had an amazing collection of connections from throughout the province and that helped put together a program that was both wide and deep. We both agreed that we needed to fully embrace all Ontario educators. When we chose our conference committee, we ensured that we had a French representative who would help us provide a strand of sessions that would appeal to those teaching in French and an administrator to ensure that we had sessions that would appeal to principals and other district leaders. As we planned, we were offered guidance that we needed to keep “ECOO, The Organization” separate from “ECOO, The Conference”. That was good advice; there was enough we had bitten off working to get the conference to what it ultimately became. We were delighted with the success of the conference in 2013 and 2014. I periodically look into the Internet Archive to get a sense of what was accomplished. Together, we developed our vision and shared it with an eager committee and pulled it off.

Two years at the helm of something like that is enough to drain anyone and so we passed the leadership on to new folks, hoping that they would similarly take the conference into a new and exciting direction.

It was Andy’s comments in the blog posts about “ECOO, The Organization” that should be of concern to members. A few years ago, the board added new positions to be able to offer new things to Ontario Educators. Roles and responsibilities can be found here. You’ll note, in Andy’s post that he shares some frustrations. Gone are the SIGs, the mini-conferences, the newsletter, the initiatives, …

Looking down at 10 000 metres, the organization seems to be one that is focused on its annual conference. We all know that sitting in a session for an hour once a year really isn’t conducive for effective learning. It’s time for the organization to look at “What could be”. If the goal is to provide the province with an annual conference, then they’ve got it nailed. Couldn’t it be more?  Could we learn from the past with an eye to the future needs?

Last year, I had the opportunity to sit with the president and I shared some of my thoughts about the above. I know that there are amazing and powerful educational leaders in the province. Yet, we allow an organization to come from outside and, at great price, provide a couple of days of learning. Sadly, the money doesn’t stay to build further Ontario capacity. Last year at the conference, I had a conversation with an OASBO-ICT leader where I shared my thoughts that the conference was very Google-centric. He responded with a similar frustration; he indicated that half of the province was using Office 365 and yet there were very few professional learning opportunities for them.

We have fantastic things happening in classrooms throughout the province. Powerful learning and teaching is happening. Formerly, we could have learned about this in an issue of ECOO Output. Many people have blogs and, if you’re lucky, you might stumble onto a story or two. Beyond that, there are thousands of great stories that just go unnoticed. ECOO could be providing its web site to share these stories from the field. For many, all that it would take is contact and a persuasion to get involved. Teachers are always welcome of a Scholastic gift card; technology using teachers are always welcome of a Best Buy gift card!

There’s a wonderful opportunity to step in and be the technical answer for a real or perceived educational problem. Schools across the province are struggling with the goal of improving scores in Mathematics. ECOO could be providing solutions with software reviews or sharing of resources illustrating the best of teaching in that subject area. Next year, it might be something else but there are always leaders that can be reached out and encouraged to share their best practice. A web presence is already in place; it’s just a matter of publishing. The desire to learn always lies in the hands of teachers; support for Ontario educators leading the way on a Saturday or online webinar are always options.

Resources and repositories are a valuable commodity for the connected educator. Success breeds more success. It just takes that first step to start the momentum. A recent entry on the ECOO website indicates that the Board of Directors is seeking direction from members via an online survey.  Here’s your opportunity to influence the direction of the organization, all the while letting them know where your personal learning priorities lie.

I would encourage all computer using educators to complete that form if you’re not happy with the once-a-year conference concept. We talk about continuous learning with students; why shouldn’t it apply to ourselves?

Just imagine – what could be…

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always fun to be able to share some of the great inspiration that I read from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this past while.


OER Repository on the Commons: A “Brief” History

Last week, I got on a bit of a tear about the ExplainEverything application.  Aviva Dunsiger had shared a new-to-me resource that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board had placed online.  I checked it out and decided that it was too good to not share and so blogged about it.  Enter Aviva again and she tagged a couple of folks behind it.  Consequently, I made a new friend, found a couple of new blogs and inspired Jared Bennett to write this blog post.

I think that this should be a role that teachers seconded from classrooms should be doing.  I certainly did it when I was a consultant although it’s all been taken down now.  As a consultant, you see more than your classroom, you see the great things that are happening in your district, you’re supporting initiatives, and much more.  Rather than just point people to Google and “get lucky”, why wouldn’t you filter and collect the best as it applied to the Ontario Curriculum and to your districts initiative.  That’s what you’ll find here and it’s great that it’s not hidden behind some educational paywall/portal.  It’s out in the open for all to see, use, and contribute.  This is how great ideas start; not by hiding everything that you’re doing.


Which of these systems is not like the other, Part 1

There’s a great comparison between a church loyality and a classroom loyalty in this post from Lisa Noble.  She describes the diversity that lies in her community of worshipers and we know of the diversity in the typical Ontario classroom.  That’s what’s in common; what’s not in common is the commitment by those at times.

The community I worship with is there because they want to be, and many of my students this year make it abundantly clear that they don’t want to be at school. That breaks my heart, and spurs me to continue my efforts to create a space as safe and engaging as the one that welcomes me on Sunday morning.

It’s not a completely fair comparison; those in her community of worshipers are there by choice; those in her classroom are there because they haven’t reached the age of 16 and so don’t necessarily have the same level of devotion.

However, those on the religious end, do have alternatives like walking away or going to another church and yet they stay with hers.

Lisa wonders, rightfully so, if there isn’t a strong message here for education.  What types of systemic change can be made to get the same devotion?  We know that it exists with some students; how can that be extended to all?

We’ll have to wait to see how she extends her thoughts in Part II.


Professional Development: What should it look like?

Mark Chubb opens a whole can of worms in this post.

I would suggest that it’s in a good way.  His observation that district professional development is often focused heavily on the pedagogical side of things.  Honestly, I think it’s probably the easiest way to go since a single speaker can stand up in front of a group of teachers and point to the research of blah, blah, blah, blah, and make everyone feel guilty that they’re not onside or that they hadn’t learned the current theory-de-jour.  Oh, and here’s the handouts and/or a link to the presenter’s slides.

Go forth and change the world.

What happens about the actual knowledge or skill that is being taught in the classroom?  Is it assumed that every teacher entering the profession knows their subject matter, any new course/unit/grade being taught, any new technology being adopted or that they can do so in the evenings on their own?  We know that will have varying levels of success.

It’s a really good argument for balance and almost a plea to reconsider how professional learning should be delivered within a district.

The post isn’t a short read but does give you much to mull about and some great topics for reflections.  I’ve got to believe that you’ll agree with many of his personal beliefs.


Support Your ECOO

Over the years, many good educators have devoted time and effort to making the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) what it is today.  One very active participant is Andrew Forgrave (read my interview with him here to see his passion).

A few years ago, Andrew was part of a group that revised the constitution of ECOO and it had already included the rights of members to attend board meetings as an observer.

Frustrated with the lack of updates on the ECOO website, Andrew decided that he would like to attend a meeting as an observer and see where the current board’s priorities lied.  This post tells of his background with the organization and the challenges that he had trying to get into the online meeting.

He closes with a reminder that session submissions for the 2017 close today.


TECHNOLOGY MISCONCEPTIONS OF YOUNGER TEACHERS

OK, we can blame Mark Prensky for starting the conversation about Digital Immigrants versue Digital Natives.  I never bought into the concept but did like the fact that it was one of the things that inspired experienced educators to start seriously using technology in the classroom.  Mr. Prensky has since changed his tune and I think it’s a good move.  But, back to the original premise, David Carruthers claims that he has actually seen the opposite.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t see a greater number of younger teachers turning more to technology in their teaching is because they are modelling the teaching practices that were used when they were in school. They replicate how they were taught not that long ago. They are led to believe that this is standard pedagogy.

I don’t know why this should be the case.  David makes reference to himself 16 years ago and he claims that he used technology at every turn.  So why isn’t everyone like David?

Things have never been this good.

  • Classrooms are more Internet savvy and connected today than ever
  • School districts have faster connections today
  • There is more technology available for everyone due to purchasing patterns
  • Technology is more reliable than ever with more technicians and better equipment
  • You don’t need to be “wired” to get onto the Internet
  • There are more professional learning opportunities via subject organizations and local edCamps
  • Stories about technology uses and successes abound
  • Who hasn’t played with a Sphero or other classroom robot?
  • Libraries are working hard at becoming supporting makerspaces
  • I could go further but the point is to get you to actually read David’s post

If you’re a younger teacher, get over there and prove him wrong.  If you’re an experienced teacher, get over there and share your story so that others can learn.


The frontierland of secondary school eLearning: Conquering fear and fostering courage

One of my definite highlights of heading east to professional learning opportunities is to run into the Kings – Alanna and Tim – they always have something new to share or talk about.

In this post, Alanna shares that she’s off to the west coast to speak at a conference about an action research project that she is part of.  It sounds interesting and she shares her slide deck (although I don’t have access to the video)

The session will show you the results so far of our action research project in improving student motivation. Through teaching strategies for increasing student curiosity, control, collaboration, scaffolded challenges and recognition we are conquering fear and fostering courage in the frontierland of secondary school elearning.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Alanna stylin’ with a cowboy hat, click through.


Moshie below Kilimanjaro

Finally, last week I noted that Paul McGuire was off to conquer Mr. Kilimanjaro.  His latest update talks about a side-trip to Moshi (typo in his title) and a visit to an orphanage

Two young men who are running a small orphanage, taking little children off the streets of Moshi. This is a truly incredible story that I just started to learn about last night.

These stories are repeated all over the Global South, and for me it is important to dive back into the lives of these people and witness how they struggle to make lives better for themselves and their community.

and the experience of walking through an open market.

It’s a blog to follow to learn what Paul experiences.

I had a “Google Maps moment”; I wanted to make sure that I knew exactly where Mt. Kilimanjaro was so headed there.  I was hoping that there was a Streetview  – wouldn’t that be awesome – but the answer is not yet.  However, there are plenty of spectacular pictures from amateurs and also from tour companies that show just what a spectacular view and challenge that Paul faces.

Sort of related, how good is your spelling of countries?  Try this quiz.  I got 23/23!


What a collection!  Please take the time to click through and enjoy.  You’ll be glad that you did.  Then, head off to read more from Ontario Edubloggers.

Before the storm


It’s the day before the Bring IT, Together Conference.  Your hard working conference committee is at work making sure that everything is under control.  I took my phone for a walkabout.

Everything looks so professional and on topic during the event.

I thought it might be interesting to document it before the doors open to the learning public.

Walking down Stanley Avenue…

Hey, they knew we were coming.

The conference committee will be wearing royal blue jackets, modelled here by everyone’s friend Cyndie.

A typical meeting room.

Going up to the second floor.

Coffee is ready to go.  Teachers must be coming.

Enjoy a stimulating conversation in the Learning Space.

The Mega Minds on Media lives up to its billing.  This room is indeed mega.  I wish I’d counted the number of learning centres.

 

Take the steps to the Port Coborne Lounge.

Where you’ll learn here with a beautiful view.

The exhibition hall is starting to take shape from the second floor.

and from the ground floor.

Don’t forget to get your brag tags.

See you at the conference.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.


Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.


Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.


Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.


Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!


How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.


Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.


Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.


What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been another wonderful week’s worth of reading from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a sampling of what I caught this past while.


Why We Should Care About Equity & Social Justice as Educators

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and you were the only one that looked visibly different? If you haven’t, chances are you’re lucky, maybe even privileged to not have ever been in this position, but I encourage you to read on and walk in my shoes for a bit. If you have, I know how you feel.

Rusul Alrubail paints an interesting scenario above.  My first reaction was no, I haven’t.  But, upon further reflection, I do remember that I did at university a number of times.  Studying Mathematics and Computer Science at a big university with smaller tutorial sessions does generate some interesting smaller work groups.  I think that the operative point was that we were there to work and social justice wasn’t the thread that brought us together so I can’t fully appreciate her point.

Her story should be a stop and ponder for educators.  I do find it interesting to people watch – at a shopping mall, on a city street, or a park.  It doesn’t seem to be an issue for today’s youth.  You’ll see an amalgam of faces and cultures as they walk about chatting and laughing.  Maybe there’s hope for humanity after all and we older people are just late to the party.

Regardless, it’s still no excuse and there are some excellent suggestions at the end of Rusul’s post for all to consider.


Stress Symptoms and Strategies

Unless you’ve lived the life of a teacher, you don’t really get it.  The critics point to the short at-work day and the holidays.  Of course, they’re not teachers so it’s easy to be on the outside looking in and judging.

Diana Maliszewski shares a post about a bit of her life outside of the classroom.

Since this is right smack in the middle of report card writing, I thought the topic of stress was rather relevant!

The stressors that she identifies are, admittedly self-inflicted, but reinforce that the educational world is so much better for the things that teachers do outside the classroom. 

Certainly, she didn’t have to do these things but Diana wouldn’t be the Diana that we all know and love if she didn’t.


Screen time guidelines and education

I love this graphic that Jennifer Casa-Todd included in her latest post.

So much discussion and criticism falls on technology being so evil for kids.  I recently had a discussion with a friend who complained that the kids in her neighbourhood all just stayed in doors and “played on their devices”.  Somehow that was all the fault of the kids.  Jennifer thinks that we could substitute parenting with teaching in the above. 

It’s a good reminder that we all make choices and we all have defaults.  If the default is not to be concerned and provide rich and engaging alternatives, is it fair to blame the kid who makes her/his own choices?


Battle Cry for Student Voice: Peer Assessment using @audioboom & QR Codes

If you know anyone who has difficulty seeing how technology can be used seamlessly and with great purpose, send them to read this post by Heather Durnin.

Peer and self-assessment helps develop a greater sense of responsibility, as students not only honestly reflect on their peers’ work, but also on their own. In terms of summative assessment, I found my students’ ratings of their peers to be honest and kind.

At the end of the exercise, one of the students asked if I was going to be marking the assignments as well. After confirming I would, he responded with, “I wish we could do this all the time.” The battle cry for “student voice”.

So often, technology is seen and used as a separate activity even though most schools have got beyond going to “the lab” to do things.  By itself, that’s not necessarily bad, but there can be so much more.  This post is a wonderful example of just what it might look like. 

What isn’t said here is that the students obviously have risen to a level of sophistication and responsibility to make it work. 

What a wonderful testament to a year’s worth of effort by Mrs. Durnin.


The #LearningLine Challenge

A number of people responded to Colleen Rose’s #LearningLine Challenge.

In the post, she shares the lines drawn by Lindy Amato, Rodd Lucier, Peter Cameron, and Joanne Borges.  They each provided a different picture of what learning meant to them and Colleen reflected on each.

Of course, everyone’s lines ended by going up.  How they got to “up” makes it worth the read.


How do you make it to the top of the slide?

Speaking of “up”, Aviva Dunsiger made it to the top and shared it in this post.

I can strike another off the ol’ bucket list.  Thanks to technology, I’ve now seen her go down a slide courtesy of Instagram.

Somehow, I think I’ve cheated my Computer Science students.  We never went on a field trip like that.


Getting social at #BIT16

One of the things that Cyndie Jacobs and I are proud of was bringing after-conference-hours social events to the Bring IT, Together conference.  We started with what we thought were neat things like the Niagara Falls after-dark PhotoWalk, the Mindcraft event, the BIT Jam session, and Run with Alana.  Sure, you always get a chance to meet up with old friends at conferences, but there are still those who don’t have the connections (yet) that are looking for something to do.

The tradition continues with some interesting twists this year – including an event that will be limited to 100 participants.  Leslie Boerkamp contributes a post to the BIT Blog outlining what she’s got planned this year for participants.

I won’t spoil her surprises – head over to see what she’s got planned for us.  Registration opens really soon so you’ll want to get in early.  You don’t want to be locked out of that group of 100, do you?


Yet again, it’s been another wonderful week of reading.  Thanks to everyone who takes the time to blog and share ideas.  Please click through and read their efforts and drop them a comment.  I’d appreciate it if you shared this post so that more people realize what amazing things are happening in Ontario.

Ziglar Quotes


I got on a bit of a roll because of a few things.

Saturday, a number of us on the Bring IT, Together Conference committee met in London to evaluate the sessions submitted for inclusion in the conference.  There were so many great proposals, including a couple that talked about how to make better presentations instead of the regular “Death by Powerpoint” ones.  (One of their terms, not mine.  Any tool can be used to bore your audience)

Another thing was the quite interesting collection of quotations from Wititude that I used as the basis for yesterday’s post.  There are some great things there and the current format for creating memes with a graphic and a quote are featured there nicely.

Then, this morning, I read this story “Top 51 Motivational Quotes From Zig Ziglar“.  Now, I’m not sure these are the absolutely top 51 but they’re all good and I can see using them in a number of scenarios.

Including as a slide in a presentation.  Just because I hadn’t done anything in Canva for a while, I thought that I’d turn a couple of the quotes into a slide.

First this one…

and then this one.

The proposals that have been accepted for the conference are going to be awesome.  The first round of invitations should be sent out shortly.  If you’re in that last list (or just have to do a presentation or would like to enhance something that you’re creating), you might want to consider the quote meme.  It can be very powerful and attractive.

Now, if I could only come up with something pithy to say, I might just end up being quoted.

In the meantime, check out the 51 quotes in the link above.  I’m sure you’re find a use for some of them.  And, if you can’t find any there, go to the top of the site to see quotes from many others.

Whatever happened to …


… SIGs.

Special Interest Groups – at least the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario ones.

Thanks to Peter Skillen for inspiring this thought with his comment about SIG-Logo from last week. 

There was a time when SIGs were a very active, in fact the most active part of ECOO.  I can’t recall them all but I’m hoping that people hop in with memories.  I do remember SIG-Logo (I learned so much there), SIG-ELEM (their mini-conferences were awesome), SIG-CS (I was very active in that one and we moved the Provincial Computer Science contest to the Ontario Science Centre), and then the memory fades.  I can’t recall whether or not there was a SIG-Hyperstudio or if it was just so big in SIG-ELEM.

ECOO also had a newsletter (ECOO Output) that you could set your calendar to filled with articles from members and the SIGs.  It was always read from cover to cover here and was a source for many ideas and activities.  For the most part, we were all constructivists if for no other reason, all that we had were tools!  You could make contact with the leaders or members within the SIGs and very quickly get answers.

Then, a few years ago, the SIGs went away.  Computer Science is still there, only listed as an affiliate.  Instead of a newsletter, a website is in place and you can see the updates, typically minutes from a board meeting.  The conference is in place and a great way to connect with other Ontario educators.  Rather than the SIGs promoting and nominating speakers by their specialty, a conference committee seeks to provide a balanced program of content.

Technology learning is different these days.  You make your own connections of a like mind through social media, edcamps, or some physical gatherings. 

There are such big issues right now that I can’t help but wonder if the very constructive SIG format couldn’t be of value.

  • Principals wishing to be digital leaders
  • We have two major directions in the province – districts implementing Google Apps for Education or Microsoft Office 365 – where do they learn and share?
  • Coding throughout the curriculum beyond the Hour of Code
  • Effective digital literacy education with a specific focus
  • Support for software licensed by the Province
  • Effective use of Web based applications
  • Effective use of portable computing devices
  • Student and Teacher privacy

Every day when I connect to my network through social media, I see requests for help on particular topics.  The answers, if they come, are sometimes good but what can you cover in 140 characters?  There are awesome Ontario Edubloggers solving the problems of the world one post at a time.  But just try to tack down one particular item from beginning to end.

As you read this on your long Victoria Day weekend (hopefully by the cottage or on the patio), what are your thoughts?

  • Were you ever a member of a SIG?  If so, which one(s) and do you have any special memories?
  • Are we OK with learning topics that are a mile wide but not very deep?
  • Is learning through social media, district PD, subject association, or the annual ECOO conference enough for you?
  • If you were to create your own SIG from scratch, what would you do?

In closing, thanks so much for Peter for stirring the pot for me.  I’m liking this Sunday post and want to make it a “Whatever happened to …” regular feature, at least until I run out of ideas!  I’ve put a link at the top of the page here so that you can see them all.  I’ve also added a link to a Padlet if you want to stir up stuff for me like Peter did.

As always thanks for reading and I’d love to read your thoughts below.

The Great BIT Proposal Challenge


This has been cross-posted to the Bring IT, Together website with the intent to reach as many people as possible.  Please share within your network.  Look for more cross posting in the future.


The Conference Committee for the Bring IT, Together Conference has opened the doors for the submission of session and workshop proposals, English and French.  Let’s make BIT16 the best conference ever.

Through social media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, other conferences and PD events, there are a lot of great things happening in Ontario classrooms and school districts.  How many times have you said to yourself “I wish that XXXXXX would present about this?” and unfortunately, it doesn’t happen!

So, let’s make it happen.

The BIT16 Conference Committee would like to see you challenge those who you would like to see present on a topic to actually do so and submit a proposal.  It’s a simple process.

Just send a message on your favourite social media network and challenge them to submit.  A sample Twitter message might look like this.

I challenge @xxxxxx to submit a proposal to talk about xxxxxx at #BIT16

Make sure you tag them so that they don’t miss your challenge.

Let’s get the best in Ontario education submitting and make this the best conference ever.

You’ve got about a month to get the proposal in.  Due date:  March 31, 2016

A quick link to the submission form is here.

Lots of highs and a low


It’s always refreshing to think about a conference once it’s passed.  I have a to-do list of things to follow up with in the upcoming weeks.  I love stuff like that.

Fortunately, most Twitter users have been using the hashtag #bit15 so that the list of potential learning grows based upon the experiences of those who attended sessions that I couldn’t attend.

As I sit here, my friend Colleen Rose is reminding me how little artistic ability I have as she warms up for Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnote session that we’re going to attend.  I’m so worried that I’m going to be left back at the end of the session!  As it turns out, first session was full so I didn’t get the whole experience.

Many takeaways include tech things to discover for sure.  More importantly, I have social takeaways.  I had a chance to meet or catchup with people face to face, including a former student.  We sat together at the magic show and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also had a great opportunity to meet Jennifer Casa-Todd in person.  She owed me a coffee and I took her up on it.  It was probably the quickest hour of the two days that I was here.  In my mind, she’s exactly the sort of leader that a school district should have in a position of responsibility.  She has a vision, insight and just exudes the passion for her beliefs.  Her district is so lucky to have her on staff.

As long as I’ve known Cal Armstrong, I’ve never seen him present.  I really enjoyed his session on OneNote.  It’s amazing how a tool really shines when demonstrated by someone who knows it inside and out.  I’d never heard of Delve before – if you’re an Office 365 school, you really need to make it available.  Apparently, it isn’t by default.  I like the concept of the class notebooks but I don’t have an educational account so can’t really experiment.

Brenda Sherry and Karen Buetler gave an important session about Digital Citizenship from the OSAPAC perspective.  The resources seem to be very complete and all districts would be well advised to take these in.  It makes you wonder why any individual district would want to write their own.  These are ready to go or you could remix them if there’s something missing.

I chose sessions wisely.  Nobody, in the sessions that I attended, tried to sell their ideas with that tech theory that so many people have embraced without really thinking it through.  For that, I’m so thankful.

I was tired, at one point, so didn’t walk out in the middle of a session.  I normally would – it was a vendor session where the presenter bad mouthed a competitor product.  That’s never a good idea.  Oh, and another good idea for presenters … turn off Twitter notifications while you’re presenting!  Digging through the distraction though, it was mildly interesting.  There should be guidelines!

I did get into Sylvia Duckworth’s second Sketchnote session and, while my culminating activity looks like a dog’s breakfast, I now get so much more.  I’m starting to think that I could actually do one of these things.  Stay tuned.  Of course, Colleen shone here as well.  The big winner?  I got a new image for my Twitter profile thanks to her skills.

Heidi Siwak was dynamite as the closing keynote talking about her work with students and integrative thinking.  This presentation could be canned and made required understanding for all educators.  I hope that this launches something good for her.  ISTE needs to consider her as a speaker; her message needs to be spread wide and far.  We all are wondering just what is contained in the other 40 slides in her presentation.

I couldn’t help but think that this should be on a banner over the entrance to her classroom.  I loved the way that she described her classroom and the dynamic of learning and working together on Wicked Problems.

“Together, we’re smarter than Google”

The low?

Yes, there was a low.  Normally, takeaways from a conference range from great to really great!  I learn so much.

However, in this case, a presenter elected to use this blog and how it’s managed as a bad example in a session.  I remember a quote from my first vice-principal “nobody’s completely useless; they can always be used as a bad example”.  So, I guess the rainbow here is that I’m not completely useless.  In addition to what transpired in the session, this individual elected to take it online via Twitter; I guess to make sure that I (and the rest of the world) got it.  So, if the intent was to be hurtful, it succeeded.

It was a strange year with the job actions throughout the province.  Kudos to those school districts who supported the continual professional learning of their teachers.  Overall, there were a few empty seats and that’s sad.  Hopefully, for the organization going forward, it’s just a little blip in the big scheme of things.

Having co-chaired this conference for the past couple of years, I know at a personal level how much effort, time, and organization it takes to be successful.  It was considerably more relaxing to enjoy the event as a participant and I was happy to help with the promotion of the things I saw.

My congratulations to the organizing committee.