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.