There’s nothing like the first snow of the year to bring out your inner-Husky. Now, having grown up in the snow belt, I know that it’s heresy to call what we’re experiencing this morning as “snow” but it’s the sort of thing that gets students here up and checking to see if buses are running or delayed. Teachers have already done that.
Nothing says more than “winter in Essex County” than walking past the school that we do every morning and seeing the caretaker out in a short-sleeved t-shirt sweeping snow off the sidewalk for students and staff. Or, Santa Claus arriving by canoe.
If you want one last winter-ish activity for the Hour of Code, check this out.
No matter what the weather is like where you are, I hope that you can take a few moments to read some of the great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers I ran across this week.
Preserve Our Language Project
When Stephen Hurley and I were discussing this on voicEd Radio, he noted that he hadn’t seen me this excited about something before. It’s a true statement. This is an awesome project and I found out about it by being tagged by Mike Filipetti last week during Follow Friday time. I checked out the project and was just blown away.
So, here’s the deal. When you get a new computer and set it up, chances are it will have an American English keyboard by default. You can always change it for your preference. I always opt for Canadian English. I’ve also experimented personally with a Dvorak keyboard and it delivered as promised. But, I dropped it for some reason. I can recall a conversation with a French teacher who indicated that it was important for French students to see a French keyboard when they’re typing in that language. Fair enough; that can be done easily enough. Everyone should be able to keyboard in their language.
What if that language is Ojibway? On my Macintosh, I’d be out of luck. Scrolling to the Os reveals…
So, what excited me about this project was that one of the features that they’ve developed is an Ojibway keyboard and made it free to download. Think it’s not a big deal? Try this then – switch the keyboards in your class to another language like Persian or Polish and have the students come up with a workaround to be able to type in their own language.
I am excited about this project and some of the other things that you’ll find including videos. Importantly, check out who all is involved with the project.
It’s a project worth following and please give them a little social media love by sharing this post.
5 ways to turn the ‘hour of code’ into the ‘year of learning’
This post, from Jim Cash, is timely for the end of Computer Science Education Week. I hope that everyone had a chance to do at least an hour of coding with students. I also hope that you’re asking yourself “What’s next?”
If you are, this post has some suggestions for moving forward.
I’ll share three with you here…
- Learn to code by starting your own coding project
- Think of coding as a literacy
- Plan a design-thinking, project-based learning activity
You’ll have to click through and read Jim’s entire post to get all five. His vision of coding as a literacy started an interesting discussion on Twitter. Personally, I think that if coding skills are going to become successful and valuable, it needs to be more than a literacy. How about it becoming a fluency?
As the Hour of Code wraps up and people are thinking of great successes and next steps, ECOO is hoping to engage you in a Twitter chat next Tuesday evening at 8pm with the hashtag #ECOOchat. I hope to see you there.
What EQAO Doesn’t Know
Just as Jim’s post was timely, this one from Peter Cameron is equally as timely given the Ministry of Education’s review of assessment and curriculum in the province.
This is a long post but well worth the read and to share with others. Passionate educators will also pause to recognize all of the fallout from testing that certainly couldn’t have been predicted when EQAO was first introduced.
Peter’s post reminds us that there are more than score-buckets sitting in desks in Ontario classrooms. They’re eager learners who have a whole year to demonstrate their learning in various ways for their teacher. Yet, there comes that moment in time when they have a pre-determined about of time to write a test for someone else.
If this is deemed to be important, are we doing it properly? I’d suggest that you forget the notion of the test when you read the post. Put yourself in the position of the students that he describes. Would you consider yourself fairly assessed?
Midterm Reflections: #BIT17, PD Day, Midterms, Student Feedback, and Tracking Observations
I had to smile when I read the title to this post from Amy Szerminska. If I had that many concurrent thoughts, I would have broken it down into five different posts and schedule them for successive days. There’s a whole week of blogging there!
It was confirming to read her observations of #BIT17 and the importance of connections. You know that Amy is not alone in her thoughts. We’re more powerful educators when we make these connections. Hopefully, school districts recognize this when an application is received to go to a conference. Go beyond the title and what you have always thought about the host; think of the connections that go far beyond the conference.
What I really found interesting was the discussion around the Professional Development Day. Embedded in the post is her presentation.
It’s a wonderful click through and those in the audience must really have appreciated the conversation that it would have generated.
Speaking of assessment, you have to love this student’s quote
“It’s weird but if I can negotiate my way to a good grade I don’t mind.”
LONDON GOOGLE SUMMIT: Presenting Google Classroom, Meet Entrepreneurship
In case you were wondering whether or not the Thames Valley District School Board was using Google or not, this presentation from Heidi Solway and Jason Bakker will give you a definitive answer. I really do like it when presenters make their slide deck and other resources available for those who couldn’t attend to enjoy.
Ignite the passion in your classroom by developing your students into entrepreneurs through Project Based Learning (PBL). This project has students producing product, designing marketing, and handling sales at a Business Fair. We will share how to disseminate steps of the project via Google Classroom, having students manage their business in: Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, and Classroom. We will also touch on how students might create advertising pieces using tools such as Garage Band, green screen with DoInk and/or iMovie, Please bring a Chromebook or laptop.
Of course, the folks at Google might take issue with the final statement and the use of the word “or”.
The slidedeck links to a thing popular with the Google crowd right now – Hyperdocs. In this case, they are worksheets to support the concepts from the project.
For the Office 365 folks, a big project like this could easily be adapted to using the O365 tools.
Classrooms Should Be More Like Trains
A “quiet table” in a noisy classroom is rather like a smoking section in a restaurant. I understand that the noise doesn’t stop when it gets to the table (oh, for the ‘cone of silence’!!) Ideally I’d prefer a room where students could go and work quietly if needed. Putting a table in the hallway or some other quiet corner of the school is also a possibility, but obviously supervision and safety is a concern. At the very least, the “Quiet Work Table” shows students that if they need quiet, that’s acknowledged and addressed in some small way.
When I read this post from Andrew Campbell, I recognized how fortunate I was with my classroom setup. At the time, I had the ability to organize my students according to activity.
The main classroom had tables with movable chairs and wonderfully, a carpeted floor. Behind us was a room that was supposed to host a mini-computer that never arrived. It had tiled floor (which was great to avoid the static electricity from the classroom) and more tables to hold our computers. Behind that was supposed to be the computer operator’s office. It turned into a seminar room for my class. And, of course, we had a hallway for additional organization. All of the rooms had huge windows so you could stand in one and see what was happening in all three. For those who needed another level of isolation, I was not against the use of headphones.
I really was fortunate. Andrew makes excellent points and it’s a reminder that the traditional school design never really takes all this into consideration – how are you making for quiet spaces in your classroom for those that want/need them?
OTF and the Professional Learning Ecosystem
If you’re not aware of everything that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation offers, you will be after reading this post from Brenda Sherry.
I think that I knew about all of the various pieces that she touches on in her post but I’d never seen them arranged all together at once. Looked at this way, it really is impressive.
TLLP – The Teacher Learning and Leadership Program
OTF Connects – live webinars in the evenings
OTF Summer Institutes – 3 day summer sessions
Pedagogy B4 Technology Conference – 3 days of learning
TLLP – Provincial Knowledge Exchange
Teacher Learning Co-op (TLC) – Collaborative teams
Are you aware of these opportunities? Read Brenda’s post and then head over to the OTF Learning Page. Check the left sidebar for even more!
Whew! Yet again, this is a wonderfully relevant and current look at things from Ontario Edubloggers. We’re so fortunate to have these people sharing their thoughts with us.
Make sure to add all of the above to your list of accounts that you’re following.
If you’re blogging and not in the list of Ontario Edubloggers, please take a moment to visit and add your details.