This Week in Ontario Edublogs

What better way to end the week than by reading some inspirational thoughts from Ontario Educators.

Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

One Thing Everyone Needs

This message is something that everyone needs to take to heart.  It’s from a recent post from Sue Dunlop.  It’s not a long read so take a moment.

We all want to be noticed, valued and to belong. A big fanfare is not always needed, but those moments of quiet recognition that say, “I see you, and you are valued” are powerful.

In the education context, I think that we naturally think about a teacher’s recognition of a student.  Of course.

Then, you might want to turn to an administrator’s approach to staff.  Of course.

These are important reminders for everyone; it’s far too easy to forget when you get wrapped up in the course of the day.

But I think of one other time.

What if students were accustomed to coming up to a teacher at the end of a class and gives a similar message?  Wouldn’t that be something?  In education, we get it at Christmas time or at the end of the year.  How motivating it would be if the message came after a particularly challenging lesson where the teacher has laid awake for nights preparing and then really has to work it in the class..

Some advice I give my students

That’s a perfect lead in to this post from Brandon Grasley.  He shares his words of wisdom that he shares with his students.

Gems like:

“You won’t look back in ten years and wish you had been meaner in high school. No matter how nice you think you are now, when you’re older you’ll see it differently. So be kinder than you think you should be now.”

That niceness should also include an approach to the teacher.  We’ve all taught things that we weren’t 100% sure of.  Certainly, students recognize that they struggle with their learning at times.  Is teaching any different?

Leave Work at Work

These words of advice are fleshed out in this post from Matthew Morris.

I think that all educators are compassionate and want to do the very best.  They will bring home thoughts about the day and even reflect on how to cherish them or think of ways to avoid it in the future.  It’s the nature of the beast.  It’s a good suggestion; personally, I don’t think I could ever totally do it though.

Many Unanswered Questions About EQAO Online Test Failure

I don’t think there’s an educator in the province who wasn’t either directly affected or unaware of the issues that arose from the attempt at putting the EQAO OSSLT test online.  Andrew Campbell pulls together a number of his own thoughts and Twitter messages from people affected.  If you’re looking for a collection of them all in one place, it’s here.

It’s a huge undertaking when you think of all of the students accessing the test online at once, with different browsers – heck even getting enough computers available for students can be a challenge at times.  Consider all of the regular bandwidth use that a school district has on any given day and then this is added.  There were reports of success but, for the most part, there were issues resulting in the cancellation of the test.

I would love to be a fly on the wall as discussions are made to ensure that it doesn’t happen again when the stakes are even higher.

All of the reports are about the technology failures and finger pointing ensued.  There’s another aspect to all this; what about the students who anguish over their success?  After all, they need to pass the test in order to graduate.  So, they get started, or try to get started only to have the rug pulled from under them.

Andrew follows up on this post with another.

A Kids’ Guide to Canada – By Kids, For Kids Un guide du Canada – par des enfants, pour des enfants

In case you missed it, Cathy Beach was a guest blogger here yesterday.  If you’re any elementary school teacher looking for something unique and connected for Canada’s 150th, this might be the perfect project for you.


One of my favourite activities with learners is the “All About Me” exercise.  I’ve tried a number of different approaches over the years with success in all of them.  I’ve always felt that how learners respond is almost as important as the content of their response.  Rusul Alrubail shares here own thoughts and provides some questions of her own.

This certainly ties back to Sue’s post about about wanting to be recognized.  I think it’s also important to give an opportunity to explore their own thoughts about important global events of the day.  In the area of computer science, for example, the exercise can give students an opportunity to reflect on their own personal ethics.  There’s so much about privacy to get the conversation started.

Teaching Hub: Post Nine, Week Eight

This post, from the FlemingLDS team is rich in support for their clients.  Beyond that, they lay out a plan for a flipped learning event.  Would the same plan work at your school?

Do you know what “flipped learning” means? If you ask the Learning Design & Support Team, they’d probably tell you that it is either learning how to do a flip, or that you can learn anything whilst flipping on a trampoline. They try, they really do, but sometimes you gotta wonder about them.


Two things that make the Bring IT, Together conference unique go beyond the workshops, keynotes, and breakout sessions.  In this blog post, take a look at other ways that you can interact and grow with other Ontario Educators.

  • The Learning Space is a place for conversation. Facilitators are booked in to guide the conversation around some debatable topics.
  • The Innovation Stations grew out of a need for networking, conversation, and informal sharing. These are booths set up around the dining area during the lunch break on Thursday and Friday.


So, you’re going to go to the conference.  Great.

Beyond the learning, the conference is a terrific place to meet those people you interact with online.  Here are some tips to make the most from the event.

There. That’s got to do it. Your weekly fix for what’s going on around the province.  Did you know that you can read all of the past issues here?  If you’re an Ontario education blogger, consider adding yourself to the list.  Also, while I do a lot of reading, if you’ve written something you’d like me to read, please let me know.

A Kids’ Guide to Canada – By Kids, For Kids Un guide du Canada – par des enfants, pour des enfants

This morning, I’m so proud to feature a guest blog post from Cathy Beach.  (@beachcat11)

You’ll find details here about “A Kid’s Guide to Canada“, a project to help students and schools connect for Canada’s 150th birthday.

Check it out; you don’t start today – the kickoff is January 1, 2017.  It’s something that Canadian classrooms and Canadian students worldwide can become partners with.


Canadian elementary school teachers:  Have you been wondering how your students could celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in both an educational and meaningful way?  

How about challenging your students to use their personal genius and create some real Canadian history in the process?

 A Kids’ Guide to Canada invites all JK-8 classes in Canada to investigate the land and people of the local school community and then to create introductions of these to teach the 5 million children across the country. By contributing hand-crafted and digital artifacts of their own design about topics important in their daily lives, students from across Canada are about to co-create the very first multi-lingual interactive guide to Canada which has been created BY kids and FOR kids.

The project is

  • no-cost
  • entirely voluntary
  • cross-curricular
  • open-ended
  • multi-lingual (French, English, and Indigenous languages)
  • inclusive of all cultures, languages, special needs, and school systems

It capitalizes on 

  • Student interests and talents
  • Critical Thinking about Canada at 150
  • Rich tasks for an authentic audience
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Curriculum connections
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Connected learning and digital citizenship
  • Innovative collaborations
  • Outdoor & experiential learning
  • Character Education, Learning Skills, and 21st Century Skills

The project begins by challenging students to investigate their own identity, to wonder what they would like the children of Canada to know about growing up in their community, and to realize what talents they have to introduce them. Canadian classroom teachers will have the ability to post their students’ community introductions to an interactive map of Canada donated to the project by ESRI Canada. Both students and the public will then be able to click on any location and discover the information about that community created by the local school children.

The last part of the project involves teachers using a new registry created on the Digital Human Library to find and connect with other classes across the vast physical and mutlicultural landscape we call Canada. Through this new registry, our children have an unprecedented opportunity to meet and get to know their peers, to learn to work and play together, and to truly help to create a new culture of mutual understanding, empathy and respect.

Inquiry and authentic audience, collaborating to create a Canadian first, building new values and relationships for the next 150 years, discovering children truly matter – if you are a Canadian elementary school teacher, please have your students join in!

10 Different ways Canadian JK-8 teachers can get involved right now:

 1. READ the A Kids’ Guide WEBSITE for full information

 2. SIGN UP on the MAILING LIST to get regular updates and early notification of

official registration opening

 3. Have your students CONTRIBUTE to the PROMOTIONAL VIDEO

 4. START NOW with your students to LEARN ABOUT and RECORD EVENTS

in your home community  (generally, the area within your school catchment area)

 5. LEARN about the cultures of people who live in your own area with your students.

 6. FOLLOW the PROJECT on TWITTER or FACEBOOK, and share the project

with your colleagues, family, and friends.

 7. PROMOTE the PROJECT within your school, family of schools, school district,

Trustees, your Teachers’ Union/Federation, friends, family, etc.

 8. OFFER TO HELP your provincial committee or the national organizing team by


 9. SIGN UP on the Digital Human Library to begin connecting your class with other

classes and experts on different topics.  

10. READ the TRUTH & RECONCILIATION Summary Report and its Calls to Action

And this is how change happens:

one person, one gesture, one moment in time.

~ Libba Bray

In one spot

How vested in social media is your school?

Do you have a Twitter account?  Many Twitter accounts?  Are teachers blogging?  How frequently?  Sharing activity picture via a picture sharing service?

Chances are, you’re doing it at varying levels.  Some contributors are more active than others.

How does the world or, at least the parents and students, know where to find the latest?  

No doubt, the class blog or other social media link was sent home in a September newsletter.  By continuous monitoring, anyone can get a picture at any point in time of what’s happening.  Digging backwards does take a little bit of effort.  And, you certainly don’t want to miss anyway.

Is there a better way to make sure that nothing goes amiss?  Is there a way to look at the “big picture”, i.e. everything that’s happening in the class or at the school?


Consider creating a Flipboard to capture all this (and maybe even more).

The net result is that, out of the great storm of information that goes flying by, you can curate what’s important to your class or, thinking bigger, your school.

A good question would be – isn’t that a lot of work?  Short answer – no.  If you’re reading it, it’s already on your screen.  Into your browser, add the Flipboard extension and you can tuck it away in a couple of clicks and it’s instantly posted.

Here’s what I see for my account – you’ll note that I have three pages of Flipboard collections.  (Including at least one that you see here that’s private)

Now, all that you need to share is the link to your class or school’s Flipboard.  Articles that are flipped there appear in reverse chronological order so it’s just a matter of flipping through to get caught up.  

Flipboard is available through the web or there’s an app for virtually every available platform.  Imagine how easy it is for student, parents, staff, administrators, the world to see what’s happening.  And, the articles are there permanently unless you elect to delete them.  Have you flipped a particularly good article that you’d like to individually share?  Social sharing buttons are available for every article.

The promise of social media is connectedness and the immediate sharing of information.  In today’s busy world, the easier it is to achieve these goals, the more effective you’ll be.  Flipboard may well be the perfect answer for you.

The Collatz conjecture

One of the recent reads took me down the mathematics path.  This is always a bit of fun.  The story was:

6 deceptively simple maths problems that no one can solve

I remember the Collatz conjecture from years ago.

Basically, it says to take any number.  If the number is even, divide it by two and continue with the result.  If the number is odd, then triple it, add one, and continue with the result.  The conjecture says that, if you repeat it enough times, you’ll eventually get the number 1.

During dog walks yesterday, I found myself mentally doing the problem.  When I didn’t lose track, the sequence of numbers always did end up at 1.

When I got home, I thought; this is silly to do all this mental math.  I should write a program.

Here it is in Small Basic.  I’ve tried to make it readable and over-commented to explain the steps.  I think it should be readable enough.


And, of course, I ran it to make sure that it worked.  I played a lot of “kitten on the keyboard” to test it out and sure enough, the answer is always eventually 1.

For simplicity, here are 6 and 7.



Another observation include that, in addition to the answer being 1, any number I tried over 6 ended in the sequence 10 5 16 8 4 2 1.  Of course, I didn’t try every number.  However, I did modify the original program to loop the original number tested instead of just working with a single input.

After writing the program, I like the programming concepts that it includes.

  • Asking the user for input
  • Looping until an exit condition is met
  • A little mathematics
  • A little branching
  • Displaying the answer
  • Enhancing the original by providing another form of input
  • A program doesn’t have to be huge and time consuming to have a lot of concepts
  • It’s actually a bit of fun trying to understand the mathematics while doing the coding

There will be a place for something like this in one of your courses or clubs.  The puzzle is intriguing because you can run it on a calculator or do it in your mind, in addition to writing a program.  It’s nothing so obscure that you can’t get your head around it.

A hugely mathematical explanation of the conjecture can be found here.  It doesn’t necessarily make it tougher to understand but it’s a nice confirmation that we don’t have the answers to everything.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday.  Check out some great articles from Ontario Edubloggers.

Tweeting as an Organization

I think I’ve been insulted by this post from Royan Lee.

I’m part of the group that he calls an “underground party of misfits”.  Well, maybe it’s a badge of honour instead of an insult?  I can remember fighting to get Twitter unblocked; I can remember trying to get people see the value of connecting and learning on Twitter.  I probably failed more than succeeded at the time.  I’ll bet there are lots of dormant accounts.  In a technology world, we expect to get immediate gratification.  I’m sure that not all people “got it” at the time.  Success only comes when you work it.

As Royan correctly continues, things have certainly changed over the years.  I have to smile when I see people who “don’t want to see a picture of what you had for lunch” now becoming active.  What does it mean as an organization though?  Used properly, I think that it is absolutely the sign of an organization that is growing and learning together.  But, to be effective, it has to be more than just retweeting thoughts of others.  Are members also reflecting and creating new knowledge?  Are they sharing their professional reading and learning as a result?  Are they recognizing the best practices?  Are they promoting the great things that their colleagues are doing?

We Just Clicked

And, if you want to see it in action, check out this post from Diana Maliszewski.

I’ve mentioned so many times about how it can be lonely within a school.  Going outside the physical walls, using social media and the power of its connections, can result in amazing things.

You’ve got to check out this post – complete with a collection of Twitter messages to validate her message – and use it to convince anyone who questions the value of being connected.  When you make stellar connections like this, there’s no stopping you.

Diana definitely reinforces the message that you don’t need to learn alone.

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

Maybe this is the place to start.  Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a blueprint for success that begins at the humble staff meeting.

How many of these will you suffer your way through during your career?  This is a plan for engagement of staff who perhaps expected another sit and git and listen to the reading of recent memos.

Could it change the culture in your school?

Could it model what could be done if you decided to bring the concept into your own classroom?

Could it be a lesson for a principal’s course?

Conversations about parent-teacher interviews

It really is the season.

Here, Sheila Stewart pulls together older blog posts from Nancy Angevine-Sands, Rusul Alrubail, and me about our thoughts on parent-teacher interviews.  There were some interesting points about the process.  It might serve well as an inspiration or refresher before the next event.  Most teachers are getting ready for them over the next few weeks in the province.

Design Process Thinking: Mind Mapping

I’m a big fan of Mind Mapping.  I’ve used many mind mapping tools over the years and have had a lot of favourites.  Maybe it’s the fact that I learned how to program and document coding with flowcharts but the essence of what can be done is so powerful.  Consequently, I really enjoyed this post from Colleen Rose.

What was so powerful about this post, after setting the context, was Colleen sharing some of the mind maps that her students created and then reflected on each.

These show real evidence of complex thinking and connections.  Check them out.

Analyzing a Bike Rim in 5 Days

Alex Overwijk is on a mission to bring the practical and just plain fun and engaging activity into his MHF course.  It involved a trip to the local bicycle store for manipulatives and he effectively set the table for the students to “discover and experience more of the Trigonometry in the course”.

My original intent for this activity was to redo the radian plate activity and the radian war activity from this site. This is where I have grown. I am thinking what else can I do with this (thank you #MTBOS for #WCYDWT) This post reflects my creative juices in squeezing curriculum out of an activity. Hope you enjoyed. Honestly – this activity feels like what I envisioned for a spiraled course and wrote about back in 2013. #makeitstick #spiraling #activitybasedlearning #interleaving

The post is, in effect, a very complete lesson plan for the activity.  It can’t help but be a great deal of fun and learning for the students.

Why 50?

Have you ever wondered why the Bring IT, Together conference has 50 minute sessions?  Read this post to find out.

How’s that for a start to your Friday morning.  Great posts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and read the entire posts.

Have a great weekend.

An internet simulator

I’ve been working my way through’s CS Principles widgets and having a terrific time.  There has been some great thought and originality put into the design and implementation of the individual widget. 

I’ve worked my way down to the Internet Simulator.

If you’re interested, you’ll undoubtedly be advised to read the lesson plans first.  These not simple activities without some background and understanding but then the internet isn’t a simple thing to begin with!

This is a great simulator to gets hands on and learn about internet communications.

If you’re teaching the concepts, you’ll definitely want to add this to your toolkit.

A cipher widget

Another widget from takes you on the route to encrypting messages.  If you’re going to send a message, you need to do something a little sophisticated than what we did in elementary school which, if I recall, was as simple as moving each character in the message one ahead.  So, DOUG becomes EPVH.  Then, you’d pass the note along to a friend who would roll the characters back one to get the original message.  And, you’d also have rules like what to do when you use a Z or punctuation mark.

You’d be hard pressed to decrypt my message of the day.  “FBFVXGYXCFWOHAWKCEHINF”, I’ll bet.  But if you use the Vigenere Cipher Widget, it’s a piece of cake.

You need to provide a couple of things.

  • your message
  • your secret key

Then, let the widget do its thing.  

Using your secret key, it will take the original message and code it for you.

When you press the play button to make the magic happen, you can see the widget at work as it determines how to encrypt your message.  

Of course, the process can work in reverse as you take your encrypted message and decrypt it.  

Falling from this could be a great discussion about how you do banking and make online purchases safely.  Or even something as simple as sending an encrypted message to someone that they would later decrypt and read.  Of course, you don’t send the key and the text in the same message.

The best thing to happen?

After poking around for a little while, the inspired Computer Science student will want to write a routine of their own.  That always puts activities like this over the top.