A community service idea


Ah, kids and their technology. Well, I came up with an idea to turn their expertise into community service hours.

The idea came to me in a morning dog walk. An oncoming car was drifting over the centre line and we could also hear a car coming up from behind us. I was about to start waving when the oncoming car must have noticed the car approaching and she took a sharp turn to the right. Right as in right at Jaimie and me. Quickly, we headed for the ditch at the side of the road before she straightened her vehicle out. But not before we noticed that she was talking on her cell phone.

Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash

As you can imagine, we were a little more attentive for the rest of our walk where we noticed three or four more people with a phone stuck to their ear. I guess the threat of a fine wasn’t having an effect.

And here’s the thing. All of these vehicles were new-ish so you just know that they had bluetooth built into them. For whatever reason, these folks have elected not to connect their phone that way.

So, here’s my idea…

What about the concept of having an open house in town, even right at the high school, where people are invited to show up with their car and cellphone. Much like baby seat clinics, this clinic would be run by students and they would connect people’s cell phones to the bluetooth in their car. Then, they would call the newly connected person to show them what an incoming call looks like and how to answer the phone and have a conversation hands-free. I’d go out on a limb here and suggest that the students wouldn’t even need training. They’d just tap options on the car until it worked. I’ve connected a number of phones to a number of vehicles. It’s pretty intuitive, doesn’t take long and the benefits pay off in safety.

I don’t know if this would work but perhaps a partnership with the local police who recommend the service to folks that they see and might normally have let them off with a warning.

What do you think? Would the concept fly? The purpose of community service is to impress upon students the importance of civic responsibility. It seems to me this would be a great and practical opportunity.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Decisions, decisions


Somehow, I ended up being notified about this post yesterday. I’m in good company indeed with those who were originally tagged.

It’s an interesting area to look at and brought back memories of various things that I’ve been involved with over the years.

I might as well date myself and indicate I go back much further than this – to the era of the Icon Computer where not only were the decisions not classroom based but by the Ministry of Education for an entire province. As a teacher, I also was the technician installing new computers and software, connecting a printer, setting up spoolers, etc.

Of course, over the years, things have changed as grant money allowed individual school districts to set direction for technology use. There were a few different players in the Grant Eligible field and decisions were still influenced at the provincial level if you were going to use their money.

Eventually, the decisions became more and more difficult as classroom technology became more than the computer in the corner. It involved portable technology, various displays, the presence of tablets, internet drops, wireless access, programmable devices, BYOD, and so on.

There also was a time when licensing software was crucial for success. I was a member of the OSAPAC committee for a while and we made recommendations to the Ministry for software to be licensed. At that point, we had to consider the various platforms in use in the province, the official languages, etc. We were also keenly aware that recommendations would only be successful if they had a purpose and so every licensed piece of software was analyzed for the curriculum expectations that it could be used to address. It was a very time consuming and intensive process.

As the number of devices in school districts increased, the planning process became so much more involved. In the case with my district, we had Computers in Education School Contacts (CIESCs – one per school) who would spend a full day of active professional learning with me for a day once every other month. I was able to introduce the group to new software and ideas and they provided regular and frank feedback to help set direction.

Amidst all this, there was another player. As the number of devices expanded, so did the need for support. It was at this point that I ended up becoming more of a mediator between the technology side and the classroom side. It made for interesting times with everyone truly having a horse in the race.

There always were wins and losses. A great win was getting Firefox installed on the image as an alternative to Internet Explore and getting sites like Twitter unblocked. A great loss was me hijacking a few computers headed for recycling that I installed Edubuntu on and showing that they still had lots of life left in them. That was, until “it won’t run Microsoft Office”. This was, of course, in a time where there had to be a local application for everything; things are much different in a web-connected classroom where excellent resources don’t need to be installed – just access them online. As an aside, I still use and love Libre Office when I need something locally installed.

Resources are evaluated and chosen all the time. You’d like to think that every facet and implication is addressed to come up with what’s best for teachers and students. And, most certainly, reliability and repair turnaround has to be part of any planning and acquisition process.

I hope that the original message that started all this wasn’t entirely true in its face value. More than ever, partnerships and working together are needed for success. Particularly with technology, decisions have to be supported with professional learning opportunities. School districts can hardly stand still and always need to be looking for the answers to the questions that technology addresses. But acquisition without support and a plan for strong educational use is just throwing money away.

Without everyone having a voice, you’re going to come up short.

They had books back then?


There may not be too many uses for this in your classrooms since students are graded by age and so most answers would be the same but I’m sure that you can find a use for it.

Or just enjoy it at a personal level.

The Most Popular Children’s Book The Year You Were Born

Now, I’m too modest to tell you the book of my birth year. I was just pleasantly pleased that it was in colour …

Nevertheless, curiosity abounded and I had to click my way through all of the pages in this slideshow embedded in the article from 1950 to the present.

Of course, I checked the books for the years of my kids.

The teacher and reader in me recognized so many.

How about you? I’ll bet you can’t resist peaking and then clicking your way through the collection …

A Chromebook simulator


I could have used this when I got my Chromebook.

Now, a computer is a computer is a computer but there are little gotchas with various operating systems that take a bit of getting used to.

Like MacOS not liking the ALT key but uses the Windows/Super key instead for some tasks. Or the difference between a backspace key and a delete key. They’re easily learned once you set yourself on a path to actually learn them.

I suspect that my learning with a new Chromebook was the same as others.

  • what’s that magnifying glass doing on the CAPS LOCK key?
  • how do you CAPS LOCK anyway?
  • is there a files manager?
  • is there a Task Manager?
  • where did all the Function keys go and what do those new symbols mean?

And other things. Of course, they’re all easily found with a simple Google search but they’re all nicely laid out in this Chromebook Simulator.

Work your way though the menu on the left and see the results appear graphically in the main part of the screen. Although I’ve used this Chromebook for a couple of years now, there were still a few new things to learn. In this case, I learned a few more multiple-finger actions.

You might want to tuck this away as an introductory lesson for Chromebooks in your classroom.

Bonus tutorial – Pixel Phone Simulator

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday everyone. And, it’s a 13th too. And a full moon to boot. Actually a “micro” Harvest Moon. In football, we call it “piling on”. Read about it here.

But you can tough it out.

Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy some posts from these fabulous Ontario Edubloggers.


Minding the Children

OK, I’ll confess to be guilty of doing this.

Sharing memes in June about sending kids back to their parents or in late September about parents shipping kids back to school.

In this post, Sheila Stewart suggests that doing so is not the best of ideas.

I am also not sure if such humour does much to support working relationships and respect between teachers and parents.

I guess I never saw it much more than a bit of fun poking at our profession. I’ve never really thought of them as serious; more of a look at reality in the school year.


This Blog is not Dead it’s…

I guess I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief when Jennifer Aston indicated that she hadn’t abandoned things – she was just carrying through on promises to a family about not doing school work in July.

I don’t think it’s an unfair demand; after all, kids deserve family time which can be so difficult to find during the school year between working, after school professional learning, coaching, and so much more. Why not demand a little mom time during the summer.

I’m not surprised that many of her activities mirrored what my summers were like when my kids were younger – going to the beach, going to swimming lessons, potty training, but I drew the line at soccer. My kids were baseball/softball players! (Still are)

Read the post; many bloggers would have made this into a number of smaller posts but Jennifer throws her entire summer at us.

And, she’s promising to get back on the blogging scene again. Great!


L’ADN d’un leader

This is an interesting post from Joel McLean, again about leadership.

He talks about the DNA of a leader and ties in the 17 basic abilities identified by John Maxwell.

From the 17, Joel identifies three specifically and expands on them.

  • Ability to think
  • Creativity ability
  • Production capacity

The call to action is to question yourself, if you see yourself as a leader, about how you would increase these abilities.

I’m curious though about his use of the term DNA. To me, DNA is part of your make up and not something that you can change. (I watch a lot of Law & Order). To me, it begs the question. If these skills are truly DNA, can you actually change them? Maybe an idea for a future post, Joel?

With a little tongue in cheek, maybe blood tests replace interviews?


Exploring Classroom Expectations while using WipeBook Chart Paper

Congratulations to Joe Archer…he entered a contest and won a WipeBook Flipchart. It’s part of a series of products you can find here. http://www.wipebook.ca.

Joe talks about the product, but more importantly, talks about how he uses it with his class. For me, it’s the description of the pedagogy that is exciting.

At times, and for selfish purposes, that can be overlooked when people go product bashing.

I can’t help but think about the high profile keynote speakers a few years ago who went on a rant a few years about about Interactive Whiteboards. Like anything in the classroom, they can be used well or poorly. It’s not the product itself; it’s how it’s used. “Oh, and buy my book.”

I remember years ago in my planner having a write-on cleanable whiteboard page along with the traditional paper. In my mind, the paper was good for notes that I thought would be “permanent” whereas the erasable product was more transient in how I used it. My use mirrors somewhat the classroom activity that Joe describes.

I also like the fact that Joe uses the expression “Exploring”. It conveys a message that he’s doing his own research into the product and not just following the crowd.


A Career Marked by Change: Learning the Big Lessons in Some Small Places

Debbie Donsky takes on a new role this September and uses her blog to reflect on a career – so far anyway…

I’ll confess that I was expecting something different from her title when she made reference to “small places”. I had thought that she’d be referring to the small communities that school can be in the middle of big towns or cities. But, I was wrong.

Instead, she takes the opportunity to identify 15 Big Lessons and develops each along with a picture or two.

I could identify with most of the 15 but there were three that really resonated.

  • Be where you are – reminded me of my first trips to schools as a consultant – none of them are the same and you are most effective when you recognize that
  • Be authentic – especially with kids – they have a sixth sense when you’re faking it
  • Everyone you meet can help you – and reciprocate! Together we’re better

For more Debbie Donsky, read my interview with her here.


Goodnight, World

This is the latest review of a book from the CanLit for Little Canadians blog authored by Helen Kubiw.

I’m always astounded when I talk to Language teachers or Teacher-Librarians as to how connected and insightful they are with new books or ones that have been around for a while.

The latest reviews include:

  • Goodnight, World
  • The Starlight Claim
  • Harvey Comes Home
  • Spin

Violence in Ontario Schools

There have been a number of articles released in the traditional media about a report identifying the grown of violence in Ontario schools. Sadly, the articles are not very deep except to report their sources. Then, they move on.

On the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston takes a really deep dive on this. Not only does she identify the research but she shares her insights about the issue.

She notes that there are no quick and easy solutions. In particular, she addresses a couple of the techniques often given as solutions to the problem.

Self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do help some students develop their social and emotional capacity but self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do not compensate for the myriad of causes and complex intersectionality of environmental, developmental, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, and mental health needs that may be at the root of students’ behavioural outcomes.

I would encourage all teachers to read this and look at the implications. I would also suggest that the worst thing that you could do is to ignore incidents. They need to be reported so that they can be addressed, not just in your classroom, but Ontario’s school system at large.


Like any Friday, there are always wonderful thoughts and ideas shared by Ontario Educators. Please take the time to read all seven of these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, make sure that you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • @sheilaspeaking
  • @mme_aston
  • @jprofNB
  • @ArcherJoe
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @HelenKubiw
  • @dr_weston_PhD

This post originally appeared on this blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Student Vote 2019


Well, it happened yesterday. The Prime Minister visited the Governor General and asked to have the legislature dissolved. As I write this, the 2019 Election isn’t the lead story on the local newspaper. I hope that I’m not going to be reading an opinion piece about how disengaged the public is when the newspaper didn’t see fit to have it as the lead news story of the day.

Hopefully, soon!

Anyway, we’ll be going to the polls on October 21.

In education, it’s also a perfect opportunity to engage students in the election process and, in the larger sense, an understanding of how government works in Canada.

A wonderful opportunity exists for all Canadian schools in Student Vote Canada.

Opportunities and resources abound here. Two sections devoted to elementary and secondary schools feature comprehensive resources for the classroom. These resources include video, PDF, and editable documents in these categories

  • The Basics
  • Information Literacy
  • Federal Elections

There are no shortage of resources and ideas for the classroom.

You also have the opportunity to register your school and have your students engage in the Student Vote itself held the week before the Election. The process doesn’t stop with the Election as there are also activities post Election.

Here’s your call to action today.