This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I always enjoy reading blogs from Ontario Educators and sharing them during this post.  It’s a constant reminder that there are so great thinkers out there and we’re so fortunate to have them sharing their thoughts with us.


Music, millenials and the lost art of curation

Tim King takes us back, way back, in terms of the way that we collect music.  Then, he gives us a history of music in his life from cassettes to CDs to streaming music.  Along the way, he notes that we may have lost something in the process – the deep tracks.  When you bought a cassette, you listened to all eight songs and enjoyed them all.  Now, with streaming, you just go directly to the latest hit.  And the service recommends what you listen to next.  Are we losing something?  I think so.  I can’t tell you how often my favourite song on an album never made it to the radio.

Streaming on the web contains some issues as well – distraction if you’re driving, and the cost of streaming which we know is high in Canada.

Where Tim dropped the ball though was he didn’t go back far enough – to vinyl records which just might be making a comeback!  And, to show that we didn’t always think outside the box, I saw something like this at a car show recently.

Record players were the infotainment systems of the 1950s and ’60s

What’s really cool about Tim’s post is the interaction on Twitter.  This post is now going to be considered a media resource for an AQ course.  I’m impressed.


Turning Reading On Its Head!

Speaking of Media…

I found myself thinking that my concept of reading is the same as Aviva Dunsiger.  I pick up a book, start on page one, and then read until I get done.

Full stop.

That’s reading.

Apparently not, as Aviva found out over dinner at the BIT Conference.

Michelle gave an alternative perspective. She said that maybe the problem is how we view “reading.” We’re looking at reading as “finishing a book,” but what about the reading that happens in video games? Some games require so much reading and thinking that completing a game would be equivalent to finishing an incredibly long book. And students need to read, and think about what they read, in order to meet with success, finish the game, and get the points.

I’m not totally convinced but there is a certain amount of logic that rings true.  Click through and read Aviva’s post and see where you stand.


Making Connections – Edcamp Ottawa, Voiced Radio, MADPD

One thing you can say about Paul McGuire – he’s not afraid to take a chance.

In this post, he shares his story about Edcamp Ottawa and the 75 educators there that spent a day learning.  It’s good reading and Paul identifies what he calls “new learning”.  In that bundle he includes voicEd Radio, MADPD, … The fact that the observation comes from an Edcamp adds that layer as well.  It wasn’t just the blog; he was podcasting from there too.

But there was one paragraph that rubbed me the wrong way and I called him out on it.

I would love to see some of the big school boards promote MADPD or Voiced Radio on their Twitter feed or take a leading role by encouraging their educators to take part in these new approaches.

My challenge is with him identifying only big school boards.  While they may be big in organization, the typical teacher is most impacted by the work world around her/him.  So, in a school with a school population of 500, does the need change if you’re in a large board or a small board?

I hope not because when you look, it’s all about professional growth for individual teachers and the learning that happens with that one student.


Creating the Conditions to Empower

I’m not a real fan of Ignite formats as it seems to me that they’re the exact opposite of engagement with an audience as the presenter focuses on getting the message out in the  time limits and according to the speed of the slides.  Very often, a good message can get lost in the technicalities.

But, never lose the sight of a good message and David Carruthers had a wonderful set of content for his Ignite talk.

  • Don’t Lower the Bar to Meet Diminished Expectations
  • Publicly Celebrate Achievements
  • Connect to the Heart by Cultivating Relationships and Instilling Trust
  • Lead by Example
  • Listen to Concerns

There’s some terrific ideas there that would be awesome for a full blown presentation with lots of give and take with an audience.  He breaks out his thoughts about each in the post.


BIT17 Non Conference Observations

After the BIT17 conference, Eva Thompson fired off three blog posts outlining her experience.  Any one of them would be good enough for a conference report to her supervisor and I’d encourage you to read them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post of random thoughts from a conference.  I pulled out four that really resonated with me.

 

  • Elevators
    • Me too.  My hotel had five floors and over the course of the event and going in and out of the hotel many times, the elevator was NEVER on my floor.  Now, I get that it might not be on the fifth floor where my room was but you’d think just once it would have been sitting on the ground floor.  And then it was slow too!
  • Sitting in the last row of the theatre
    • That’s absolutely me.  Particularly if there’s a speaker that I want to hear, I like being able to just focus.  And, there’s something creepy about taking notes on your computer with someone looking over your shoulder.
  • Chocolate chip muffin for breakfast
    • Why not treat yourself?  Family’s not there to see that you’re breaking the rules a bit.  That’s my rationale anyway.  I did pay attention this time; there were so many IHOP restaurants in Niagara Falls.
  • My laptop bag is not comfortable
    • I have a knapsack and a pull bag.  I prefer the pull bag that follows me on the floor.  I typically have two of three computers and the chargers that go with them.  They’re really heavy.  Don’t criticize me – I see others who shift from shoulder to shoulder to ease the pain.  If you get good with the pull bag, you can easily get on and off an escalator without breaking stride.

 

8th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit 150

If you weren’t able to attend this summit, Zelia Capitão-Tavares shares a pretty inclusive summary of the day with links to the speakers.

It sounds like a typical day where “futurists” were telling the audience everything that’s wrong in education and how “change starts with you”.

The real meat for me in this post were the comments from Zelia’s students.

As each of the speakers shared virtually or live on stage, my students attentively listened to the messages, making connections to their own experiences and reflecting on potential for changes in their own environments. Sure, I smiled every once in awhile as they turned to me and whispered, “Ms.T we are already doing this”, “Ms.T you have already set us up with these choices”, and “They are talking about our classroom”. However, our side discussions were more intriguing as they asked questions of clarification, “why are they saying only star students get to do things”, “what do they mean by pockets of innovation”, “why do teachers teach to the test” and “what does teaching and learning in silos mean?”

Are these speakers out of touch with the realities today’s students face?  Maybe these students need to invite them to their classroom to get a dose of reality.  Good teachers ARE doing these things.

I hope that Ms. T. took the kids to McDonald’s or for ice cream afterwards. What great comments.

It sounds like they truly get it.


How many do you see? (Part 1)

I love this post from Mark Chubb for many reasons.

He starts with a picture of a Grade 2 geometry activity.  It’s pretty straight forward.

All he asks is a simple question.  Pick a shape and report how many of them you find in the picture.

In the real teaching world, you’d just turn to the back of the book and get the answer.  Would you actually do the activity yourself?

But the responders to Mark’s post are all teachers and they have many different answers and takes on the question.

Now, let’s go back to the concept of testing where you’re not looking at a process – just to get the right answer.  After all, this is mathematics, right?

If teachers have all these questions, how can we possible blame a child for being confused?


I hope that you’ve stuck with me this far.  It’s yet again another great week of reading.  Please click through and read the entire posts and drop off a comment.

And, join Stephen Hurley and me Wednesday mornings at 9:15 on voicEd Radio where we chat about some of the great posts of the week.

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At the Annual General Meeting of ECOO last week, the membership installed a new Board of Directors.  You can read about it and see the list of the members here.

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Not wanting to wait, things are already in motion.

If you haven’t visited ECOO.ORG in the past week, you will have missed the launch of the new web presence.

The Board of Directors is committed to bringing value to ECOO members between Annual Conferences.

One of the new features will be a “Blogger of the Week” where the website will feature a different Ontario blogging voice regularly.  This will provide a new way at looking at the concept of a Blog Roll.  We wanted to start the process well and invited Jennifer Casa-Todd to be our first.

Follow the link above to the Blogger of the Week to learn more about Jennifer where she’s also been asked to hand select her five “best” blog posts.  “Best” comes from her perspective.  We hope that you’ll quickly become a “Jennifer fan” and follow her blog for updates.

Speaking of blogging, guest blogging will soon be available for members using our platform to potentially reach a different audience.  This will be available for people who already have a blog and are looking for an additional audience or for that new blogger who thinks they just have one post in them for now and are looking for a place to put it.

You’ll also notice that there’s a calendar on the website.  We’re devoting this to promoting technology conferences, edcamps, mini-conferences, and anything that would be on a technology related topic for ECOO members.

If you’re not following @ECOOorg on Twitter, you need to be!  It’s here where you’ll find announcements from the organization and other features recently added like The @ECOOorg Daily newspaper.

That’s the beginning.  If you poke around, you’ll get a hint of what your organization has planned for you.  These ideas will become formally announced once details are finalized.

If you’re new to ECOO, or even if you are not, you might enjoy the rich history of the organization.

We want to hear from you.  A contact form has been created to let you provide input.  We want ECOO to be the best it can be for you.

Big takeaways


I can’t believe that I’m taking the time to blog tonight but I am.

It was a very tiring day at Minds on Media.  But, tiring in a really good way.  Just about everything went exceedingly well with the Wednesday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” program.  The five people were there; the plan to rotate them through their blogs and to engage in conversation with Stephen Hurley and me worked nicely.  We dug deeper than normal into the blog posts that were featured.  That was always the intention and I think it worked well for those who were in the audience on Minds on Media floor.  The audio was great; we had the three microphones and they were working well.

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My view from the stage of Peter Skillen addressing the audience.  You can see the various stations in the background of the room.  Our panel would occupy those five chairs.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t be enjoyed by the internet audience.  At the last minute, there was a software “update” to Stephen’s Windows 10 computer which broke one of his audio drivers.  You can read his side of things here.  All the planning seemed to work nicely.  We’re already talking about doing it again somewhere.

The whole incident lead to the takeaway that you should never apply updates just before you really need your computer to do something!

There was another big takeaway for me.

I have my own micro:bit and enjoy playing with it.  I can totally understand the enthusiasm that students have when they’re engage in coding.  I’ve played around with it; looked into the menus and done little projects and snippets with it like any good timewaster would.  That’s what we do, right?

But there was something that I’ve always wanted to do – use more than one micro:bit to have them talk to each other.  It’s tough to do when you only have one.  This was my chance.  There were a few stations that had multiples of these little guys.  I ended up at Jim Cash’s station.  I even had a simulation that I wanted to see if I could create.

I wanted one of the micro:bits to be a controller and three (or more) wirelessly connected micro:bits to work as reels on a slot machine.  i.e. press the controller and have the reels spin and dial up the results.  Together, we learned a great deal about how the Radio feature works and how one unit can communicate with more than one other unit.  The answer:  surprisingly easy.

Needless to say, the energy is always high at professional learning events like this.  You want to pack as much learning and meeting folks as you can … there was Beth, Eva, Ramona, Jim, Peter, Peter, Cam, Aviva, Seamus, Paul, Paul’s new boss, Erica, Matt, Sara, Andy, Alana, Kim, Mark, Harry, Lisa, Lisa, Carlo, and I could go on longer but my brain has had it for today.

Tomorrow’s going to be another great day of learning.

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?

2017-05-25_0905

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.