This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday and Happy Last Friday if it applies.  Welcome to my weekly roundup of stories from Ontario Edubloggers that I was privileged to have read this past while.  Please enjoy.


EQUITY IN COLLABORATIVE SPACES

If you’re in education, you’ve had plenty of exposure to group work or, as Rusul Alrubail describes in her title “Collaborative Spaces”.

There’s a wonderful lesson here as Rusul extrapolates a personal experience into advice for every educator and/or potential worker in this space.

We’ve had groups a plenty as students and used it as a class organizer as a teacher.  We know that there will always be those who don’t pull their own weight; we know that there are some students that we can’t place with other students; we know that we need to be constantly monitoring the groups to ensure that everyone is working; we know that the great equalizer at the end of it will be the “group participation mark”.

But what happens when that space takes place online?  In this post, you’ll see Rusul’s insights where some of it is a refresher but some of it is new news.  Have you really considered what collaboration looks like when you take it online?  How do you handle it when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain and you’re left holding the bag?

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She provides a really insightful list of things to attend to in order to have success.  I’d hope that people would consider sharing this with students at a Faculty of Education.  There’s so much common sense wisdom in the post.

I’m also reminded as I read her post that equity doesn’t always mean equality.


Learning Design by Making Games

Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere, you know that the Hour of Code has been so big in schools the past while.  Sadly, for many, it’s on the par with watching a Christmas video.  Classes put in their hour, it’s checked off, and now it’s time to move on.

Jim Cash has been rightfully vocal about doing better than that.

In this post, Jim uses inspiration from Yasmin Kafai to suggest that it needs to be taken to the next level.  He gives an example of one class…

In the new year, they will be challenged with a complex task that closely mirrors that of Kafai’s study: designing an interactive game using Scratch to make the learning of fractions easy and fun for younger students.

This is crucial for success and making the time spent coding worthwhile.

If you “did” an Hour of Code, what’s your next step?


You Got This! Coding and the Empathetic Teacher

OK, one more post about coding and maybe this will be the one to inspire you to greater efforts.  This time, from Steven Floyd.

For me, the biggest takeaway from this is a reminder that none of us were born with the innate ability to teach.  We had to learn how to do it.  In today’s classroom with today’s challenges and today’s students, we are constantly learning and relearning how to teach.  That’s why schools have professional activity and professional development days.

So, why should teaching coding be any different.  Sure, there are “experts” who go around telling you how “easy” it is.  Don’t you just hate them?

The reality is that all computer science teachers are constantly on the learn.  Not much of what we learned at university is directly applicable in today’s K-12 classroom.  There are so many interests and opportunities to apply the concepts to the curriculum.  Or, perhaps you land at a school where they teach a completely different coding language.  Ask any computer science teacher and they’ll tell you that they are up at all hours learning and trying to find that technique that will make it appropriate for every student in the classroom.  One thing remains consistent across all grades; we’re interested in solving problems.

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So, if you believe that we are all lifelong learners, why not include some meaningful coding as part of your learning?  And, why not learn along with students rather than taking on the traditional role of imparter of everything worth learning?


How Reflecting On My Last #OneWord Goal Led To My New One

Aviva Dunsiger bought into the #OneWord meme last year and this post is an opportunity for her to reflect on her choice of “hearing”.

It’s nice to see that she’s comfortable enough to let us know that not everything was hunky dory with her choice.  Sure, there were successes but there were also some challenges.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I think that if there weren’t those challenges, she wouldn’t have been pushing herself enough.

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As I finished reading her post, I almost convinced myself that her one work for 2017 was going to be “amaze”.  But, a slower read reveals that it’s actually “perspective”.

What do you think?  A good choice?


The Progression of Multiplication

With apologies to David Rueben, Kyle Pearce’s post could easily have been “Everything you wanted to know about multiplication but were afraid to ask”.

It’s a long post but Kyle really takes on multiplication in a serious way.  It’s a great reminder that, despite what some people think, there isn’t just one way to learn mathematics.

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While I understand all the concepts addressed in the post, colour me a user of the “Standard” Algorithm.  How old does that make me feel?  At least he didn’t call it the “Classic” Algorithm.

So, if you want to get a history of everything multiplication from K-10, it’s a nice read.  I’d have no problem assigning it as reading for a student at a Faculty of Education.  There’s great stuff in here as well.

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And, hooray!  Despite what we read from the naysayers, there still is room in the curriculum for “paper and pencil”.  If only those people would read the complete message; we want all students to be successful in mathematics.


What Inspires Me

I think that everyone should take a moment and do a reflection like Matthew Morris does in this post.  What is it about “you” that makes “you” “you” in the classroom?

The answer is, I believe, a desire to reach every student at whatever level is necessary.

The best teachers always do this – sacrifice and work the angles, shuffle the blocks, and basically do whatever it takes.

These positive jabs slowly got this student to put more effort into his work. I then brought an old duotang of mine into school. He looked through it and looked at me as if he was saying to himself, “This guy did this in school but he is still kinda cool?”

I’m sure that I never made the status of “kinda cool” but I did try.


An Energy User’s Scavenger Hunt

I’m not sure who the author of the STAO blog is but this is an interesting concept.

After all, we are all energy users, right?

Read the post and then click through to a lesson plan.  It’s in .docx format so you can edit/adjust to suit your class.

A scavenger hunt can be used by teachers to direct student learning at any grade level. In this case, a set of carefully worded questions will introduce students to a new topic, ‘Energy Users’.


Thanks to all these wonderful bloggers for sharing their thoughts and ideas.  Please click through and enjoy the original posts.  You’ll be glad you did.  Oh, and drop them a comment before heading off to the big list for more great inspiration.

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Hour of Code 2016


The Hour of Code was started a few years ago to provide an opportunity for more students (and teachers) to get exposure to coding and programming.  It’s been an overwhelming success and here we are at the brink of Hour of Code 2016 held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11.

The initiative has seen some pretty substantial levels of success…

  • there are more languages and robots to code with today than ever before
  • teachers who might never have ventured into this area are giving it a shot
  • in Ontario, there are many TLLP projects with their roots in the Hour of Code
  • it’s not a strange thing to see a Computer Science club at schools where inquiring students go beyond the hour
  • coding has come a long way from the days of learning commands and evolved to block programming
  • and I’m sure that you can add your observations to the list

The mother ship, if you will, is the Hour of Code website and the links to rationale and many activities.

There is lots of discussion about the “why” to the Hour of Code.  One that you hear constantly is that there are 200,000 technical jobs unfilled in Canada.  If you need that as inspiration, go for it.  Somehow, I think that the Grade 2 student doing a bit of Scratch isn’t quite ready for it yet.  As I was out this morning, I saw a big tube television left at the side of the road.  You know the ones that dimmed the lights in your house when you turned it on?  I have no doubt in my mind that the owner thought this might well be the last television that they’d ever buy.  Technology is such a fickle partner.

But it’s the deliverables that were important.  A huge screen let them see ever detail.  The audio was stereo.  Awesome.  The analogue signal pulled in by antenna was probably the best they’d ever seen.  Try to find something with the same specs on sale in a store today!

Ditto for learning code.  If you just focus on the code, you’ll miss the point.

Check the deliverables.

Student

  • student can learn some new commands
  • student can make an object move on the screen on command
  • student might even get the computer to make a sound or play a song

Teacher

  • students work collaboratively to solve problems
  • students explain their thinking and explain/debate the logic with other
  • students take a big problem, break it into its component parts, and solve it
  • students ask “what happens if I do this?”
  • students demand “what next?”

Every subject area would die for these opportunities.

Hopefully, everyone will be involved in the Hour of Code in their classrooms at whatever level works.

Please don’t consider it 60 minutes to check off to say that “we did it”.  Please do consider that this is the launchpad for something pretty amazing.  It’s there that you make a difference and set students off to benefit from all that coding offers.

Once again, I’ve cobbled together a collection of resources that I’m happy to share.

Hour of Code 2016

Good luck.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Black Friday, folks.  How many are you reading this on your phone while waiting in the cold in line for some sort of deal?

Me neither.  When you’ve got great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers, why would you want to do anything else?

Read on to catch some of the posts that I read recently.


My Transformed Classroom

This is something that doesn’t happen often enough.  Not necessarily the “transforming” part but taking a picture, sharing it, and reflecting on the success and use of whatever you’ve put together.  It’s definitely much easier if you’re the only teacher using the room but it can be done.  Someone should start a challenge to have teachers reflect on classroom design by showing what they’re doing.  You just need something to record video and then upload it to YouTube.  You could even call it a Classroom Design Challenge. I know that Faculties of Education could use that so well.  And, it’s something that any teacher can use to make their own environment better.

Thanks to Peter Cameron for showing off his digs.  It looks really rich.

How does your room stack up to this?


Coding in 2004 – Looking back to move forward…

I love this reflection from Brenda Sherry about her first steps into coding dating way, way back.  Of course, it didn’t go back, back, back as far as Peter McAsh was kind enough to mention on Twitter to the days when he and I were teaching programming as first year teachers.  It’s interesting to reflect on the evolving use of the tools that we have to work with students.  Brenda offers some advice…

My biggest advice to teachers, in this time where many voices are telling us that we must have coding put into the elementary curriculum, would be to take the freedom you are given with our Ontario curriculum and innovate your own examples to go along with overall expectations!  I’m so glad that I didn’t wait and many other teachers like the ones at Quest and ECOO (BIT) are not waiting either.  Don’t wait….Innovate!

It’s good advice.

I’ll tag on some more advice.  Don’t wait until the next conference to hear classroom success stories or some speaker who is trying to get rich by doing the circuit repeating the same old story.  Coding or programming doesn’t require huge amounts of learning and expensive tools or the advice of someone who claims to be an expert.  It just requires inquiry.  There are plenty of interesting starting points; we’re coming up to the 2016 Hour of Code and you’re about to be swamped with resources.  Pick one, give it a try, turn the controls over the students and just be prepared to ask questions “What would happen if you did this?” or “Can you make it do that?” and step back.  You know the curriculum you need to cover; students have the inspiration.  What more is needed?


Thoughts prompted by Andreas Schleicher’s (OECD) Keynote

When you can’t go to a conference, there are a couple of good ways to get the message in other ways.  Sometimes content is live streamed, sometimes presenters share their slide decks, sometimes people write blog posts to share their thoughts.

That’s what Heidi Siwak did for this keynote address.

She shared a question that she asked…

I asked one question grounded in conversations I have had with numerous educators.  We know change is needed, however current timetables and school structures allow only token changes.   I wanted to know what interesting timetables he had seen in his travels.

I found the comment of “siloed subjects” an interesting observation.

It begs the question “If we have to have XX number of minutes a day in Mathematics or English or Physical Education” as proclaimed from the mount, are we doing it wrong?


STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning

Best. Idea. Ever.  I used something like this years ago when I taught Computer Science.  I would share job offerings or descriptions with students to answer the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

Deborah McCallum brings the concept to a wider audience.  i.e. everyone.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Here’s an excerpt from a job posting where she’s highlighted the sorts of skills that would make a candidate successful for the job.  (Read her post for the complete context)

Why wouldn’t you have a bulletin board highlighting jobs that require specific skills?

Why wouldn’t curriculum planning teams use this as a resource when buying or creating resources?

It’s an idea that you can use immediately.


Overcoming “Test Mystique”- My Principles For Mathematics Assessment

Part of the frustration of students and educators in Mathematics is the mindset that there’s only one right answer.  Textbooks reinforce the notion with the answer key.

This may be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when searching for success in the Mathematics classroom.  Matthew Oldridge takes on the topics and offers six things that can help overcome the concept of “Test Mystique”.  It’s all good stuff.

Now, if he could only rework the concept of the standardized test…


5 Ways to Use Explain Everything in Math

There are a lot of people who really see the value in the “Explain Everything” application.  You really get a sense of its power when you see it in action and it can inspire some great ideas.  That’s the concept behind this post from Lindsay Leonard.

What a great example of using the application to solve a real problem with a strong student voice!

Doesn’t that just inspire you to give it a shot?

What’s nice about this concept is that it doesn’t have to be the next big three hour epic.  In a minute and a half, this student did a wonderful job of explaining.


I know that I say it every week at the end of these posts but what wonderful thinking and ideas shared by Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find time to click through and enjoy all the original posts.  There’s some really wonderful things to enjoy.

Make sure I know about your blog.  Fill out the form at the site above to get added.  And, if you’ve got a great post that should be featured here, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Learning HTML all over again


If you’ve been around constructing content for the web for a while, you’ve undoubtedly created your own using a plain ol’ text editor.  

That was me, in the beginning.  I had a printout of all of the HTML tags available to me along with the source code of a website or two that had impressed me.  That’s how I learned to develop for the web.  There was a great deal of typing, saving with a .htm or .html extension and then opening it in a web browser to see how badly I had been.  Then, back to the editor for a tweak here and a tweak there, save, reload in the browser and see if that fixed it.  Talk about your step-wise refinement.

Then, along came an update to Netscape and its Composer.  It was a huge improvement although it felt like cheating!  We used it at the heart of our Women in Technology program with a great deal of success because you could be up and running pretty quickly.  Next, through OSAPAC, we licensed Dreamweaver and never looked back.  And yet, despite the tools we have today, the skills from those early days of learning all the HTML tags is still one that I use with this blog to tweak content here and there.

So, I guess the bottom line message is that there still is a need to learn HTML at some level.  I know that many use it with their Hour of Code strategies because it’s easy to publish for the web and see familiar results.  At the teaching heart of it, though, you need to keep in mind that typing text just doesn’t have the motivation factor that dragging and dropping coding has.

Until you give Codemoji a shot.

When you enter the site, you do have a choice of going to a Playground or take some Lesson.  The ego in me said to go and play but I quickly learned that maybe that wasn’t the best of choices so I went back and took some lessons.

Essentially, you have an open workspace where you drag and drop some emoji to program your webpage.  Think of it as Scratch-like for HTML.

You’ll see that each is attached to the familiar (at least to us) HTML tag.  Like other drag and drop languages, you essentially drag a template for an instruction onto the workspace.  Then, with your keyboard you modify it so that it does what you need it to do.

Once selected, each of the emoji has details about just what it does and how it’s used.

Quickly frankly, it was a nice review for me to go through and click on each of them to refresh my memory as to what each tag does.

Of course, the proof is to actually run your code to see what happens and you do it right in the environment.  Certainly, the web doesn’t always run on emoji so you can flip to see the actual code that you’re generating.  

I actually quite enjoyed poking my way through the lessons.  There is a great deal of the basics that I hadn’t had to remember for quite some time.  Today’s tools have largely made things “behind the scenes” invisible.

The more I poked around, the greater kick I got from the choice of emoji to represent the HTML.  Get the hamburger reference?

I would encourage you to kick the tires to see if this has a place in your coding plans.  It’s a rather unique way of presentation.

I’ll bet that it wakes some memories of your own.

A framework for success


Unless you’ve had your computer turned off for the past few years, you know that one of the bigger movements in Computer Studies has been the Hour of Code.  It has inspired teachers of all grades and particularly, of the younger student, to get their feet wet with coding. 

Coding applications have been written and made available for anyone wishing to code no matter what devices are available to them.  People like me have made collections of the resources that are available.  I’ll admit; it’s been tough to keep up.  There are so many good applications and so many educators are writing about the successes and inspiration that their students have had working through the various Hour of Code activities.  I’ll confess to doing them myself as well.

Then, it’s over.

Best. Hour. Ever.

A good description I’ve heard about the process is that it’s like a good field trip.  It’s highly motivational and exciting but you return the next day to the regular routine.  There might be a bit of a followup but that’s about it. 

Computer Science is a discipline and not just an hour of educational time.  Many teachers ask the important question – what’s next?

A collaboration by professional Computer Science organizations are working to answer that question.  This week, they’ve released a review copy of their Framework for K-12 Computer Science Education.  You’re invited to take a look and comment on the work in process.  It’s available here.

http://k12cs.org/review/

To reinforce the notion that Computer Science is a continuum, each “Practice” ends with a curriculum expectation for the Grade 12 student.

But don’t fret.  You don’t start with Grade 12 and work backwards.  A suggested progression is presented by division.

As with any curriculum, this isn’t a quick read and by asking for feedback, it’s acknowledged that the document isn’t final yet.  I would encourage anyone who has tried or even considered the Hour of Code to preview the document and provide feedback to the writing team if you’re so inspired.

This review period was kicked off this past Friday and recorded via YouTube.

It looks like we’re well along the way to answering the question “What’s Next?”

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s the Friday before March Break. 

Why not enjoy some writing from Ontario Edubloggers?  I know that I did.  Here’s some of what I read recently.


Coding Morning in Grade One

One of the types of blog posts that I really enjoy reading are those from a teacher introducing coding to students.  The younger the student, the more interesting the read.  I didn’t get a chance to write my first program until Grade 11 and, even then, it was the type of program that gives coding a bad taste in so many people’s mouths.  It was hard core writing of instructions in Fortran where syntax and semantic rules were king.  To increase the pain, my next language was COBOL which I still maintain taught me how to keyboard faster than ever before.

Things are completely different these days as this post from Jenni vanRees attests.  She’s chosen the best of the current best as coding centres for her students.

Scratch, Tickle with Sphero, Daisy the Dinosaur, Kodable…  oh to be a kid again!

I’m not sure what her test is for sharing with a “global audience” but every time I got something to work the way it was supposed to, I wanted to share it with anyone within ear shot!

The entire post is a recipe for success and well worth the read and the time to share with administrators who might be sitting on the fence.  Spheros and other programmable devices have never been as affordable and the rewards when used properly are immeasurable.  They should be in technology acquisition plans – they have purpose for all grades.  Once the students are a little older, kits like Raspberry Pi, HyperDuino, extend the concept.

It’s time to get past debating whether coding has a purpose.  Make the move – this blog post should serve as inspiration for those not yet convinced.


3 Teaching Hacks That Are Going to Blow Your Mind!

I’ll confess that the title pulled me in.  I hate the term “hack” as it seems to be watered down and used all over the place to draw people into a discussion that might be somewhat unique.  I go back to the traditional use of “hack” as my dad would say when I was coughing “Is that you hacking upstairs?” or the concept that computer hackers could somehow bypass security and access a system.

This sets the stage.

*Warning: This post contains snarky and in-your-face concepts to shake up the teaching world as we know it!

The rest of the post from TESLOntario talks about three strategies (yeah, I like that better than hacks) that would guarantee success with a particular activity.

The three strategies are actually pretty smart and would be good advice to follow.  I think that the message could be nicely summed up as “just don’t try to over teach”.  The strategies are wise – stop doing what you’ve been doing – and consider another approach.  That’s always good advice.  It makes sure that you’re not in a rut and that you’re doing your best to reach every student.

Who could ask for more?


Three Easy Tips for Teachers on Twitter

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you don’t need to be convinced.  But, if you’re new or know someone who is new, this post from Rusul Alrubail is just perfect.

If I was writing the post, I might have called it “PD after dark” or something.

Whatever you call it, Rusul identifies three ways that Twitter can enhance your skills as a teaching professional.  In particular, take a look at her third easy tip.  That’s the one that I think more people should be encouraged to realize.  It’s the power of THEIR voice and not that of the big commune.  You have to be prepared to be wrong.  It’s so easy to do when you stick your head out and become so visible.

But consider the other side of the coin.  Even I can’t be wrong all the time.  Why not share the great things that you’re doing, share your wealth of knowledge, ask questions, provide possible answers, suggest alternatives, and make positive differences in others’ teaching lives.  You’re the expert with what you do from 8-4 and, if you’re going online to learn, so are others.  Nobody has all the answers.  Together, we’re better.  Jump in.


Including Student Voice in the Curriculum

“Student Voice” is a commonly viewed phrase these days.  It means so many things to so many people.

There are those that will only focus on the use of technology to amplify this voice.  Others recognize that student voice can mean so many other things.

Amy Bowker writes:

I decided to print out the Grade 6 curriculum about Space, our next unit we needed to cover. In Google Classroom, I gave them a shared document where the whole class could write and I asked them 2 questions: ‘What do we need to know about?,’ and ‘What do I want to learn about.’

Notice the sneaky attempt to reinforce technology skills?

The post shares a checklist and a rubric for the topic. 

It’s a nice looking model that’s easily replicable.


Taking a drink from the waterfall

If you’re a connected educator, you aren’t just another faceless voice.  If you’re truly connected, you’re an integral part of things and your friends know when you’re missing in action.

Sometimes, as in the case of Greg Pearson, it’s on purpose.  Sometimes, as in the case of me, it’s because I’ve messed up on a setting and things like my blog posts aren’t automated.  I have my conscience Aviva ready to send me a message when it doesn’t appear.

So, Greg decided to take a break; that’s a choice that many people do periodically.  It’s his life; he should be entitled to kick back if he wants.  His observations, though, serve as a reminder that we’re all part of this big collaborative learning machine.

I was amazed by some tweets and DMs asking how things were because they hadn’t heard from me in awhile. It’s amazing how those “impersonal”, electronic, virtual connections still managed to turn into something so personal and real.

His insights take us past of some of the moronic “I gots me a PLN” messages and to the real heart of learning together.  People genuinely caring for each other.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


How old is he?

This is such a powerful post from Debbie Donsky.  If you’re easily made emotional, grab a tissue before clicking through.

She sets the stage nicely for her message and I really love her list of:

He is old enough to …

While she’s talking about her own father, you’d be more than welcome to replace He with She and focus the questions on your mother – or your grandparents.

Debbie may not have shed a tear but I certainly did while reading this very powerful post.

It’s also made me think that there are always better ways to ask questions.  Thanks, Debbie for your very personal sharing.


The Nostalgic Appeal of Teaching Cursive

The topic of teaching cursive is one of those things that you see pop up for discussion on a regular basis.  People have strong arguments for and against.

Andrew Campbell was responsible for the current round of discussion in a blog post.  He takes an all too familiar tact for why things remain in the curriculum — “nostalgia”.

The reluctance of some to let go of cursive is evidence of a powerful force in education. Nostalgia.

How we teach and the schools and classrooms we create are, in one way or another, heavily influenced by our experiences as students. If those experiences were positive, we seek to recreate them for our students. If we were told, as a student, that having perfect cursive writing was crucial to your future success, and you were successful, you ascribe some of that success to cursive, and you want those same benefits for the students you teach. The same influences also affect parents and policy makers.

It’s one of those things that we who are discussing it have, in fact, learned and mastered at varying skill levels.  I’ll be honest; I never heard the term “cursive” until the past few years.  In my schooling, it was just “writing” as opposed to the alternative “printing”.

In my world, I learned to print and then learned to write.  I was a slow learner when it came to writing but eventually got the knack of it.  My writing surprisingly looked like my mother’s although not entirely as graceful as hers was.  Then, in Grade 9 and 10, I learned to type.  Hard core typing.   aaa ;;; sss lll ddd kkk fff jjj ggg hhh fff jjj ddd kkk sss lll aaa  ;;; Then, there were the reaches and the numbers and all that good stuff.  In Grade 11, I learned how to print neatly again as I learned to write computer programs in Fortran.  You had to make sure that you didn’t exceed the number of characters per card, had things in the right column, it was actually readable, and all that good stuff.

These days, I keyboard a great deal and print for the most part when I have to put pen to paper.  It was my wife’s birthday recently and handwriting a message on the card was brutal.  I actually felt badly that I couldn’t give it the script with a flourish that I could in the past.

Those who would get rid of cursive writing point to the fact that people keyboard with greater speed and accuracy.  Yet, we’ve removed formal keyboarding from the curriculum as well.  We laugh at silly predictive spelling and misinterpretation of voice commands but somehow they become accepted. I’m sure that mathematicians rue the day that QED will be replaced with LOL.

I find it a little disconcerting that we seem to be skirting around the issue – the issue as I see it is just where the heck are we going to end up?  Students and parents rely on a curriculum that clearly maps out skills for student growth.  Where are we headed with this?  Andrew’s post is interesting to make you think and he offers links to related discussions on the topic.

Where, indeed, will our students be when they graduate?  If we don’t formally teaching cursive writing and keyboarding, do we just accept that they may stumble into acquiring these skills? “OK, class, today’s inquiry is cursive writing.”

Maybe that’s why professors put all their Powerpoint presentations online.


I can’t believe that I made reference to Fortran twice in this post.  Could Andrew be right and I’m hung up on nostalgia? 

I hope that you can take a few moments and click through to read all these wonderful posts.  They will get you thinking for sure.  Thanks to all for their contributions.

Have a wonderful Spring Break.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday and my week-ending post where I share some of the great efforts of Ontario Edubloggers I’ve read recently.  This week features another great collection of thinking starters for you.  Please read on…


Student-Teacher Bond

Here’s your feel good post to read this week, courtesy of Jamie Weir.

She was inspired by another’s blog post to do some thinking and renewed connections with her own students.

Do they teach stuff like this in teacher’s college?  I know that they sure didn’t when I was a student there.  It was all about learning how to teach the content that we would be using when we “got our jobs”.

Today’s thought – You can paint all you want but if you don’t have a canvas, it’s all wasted time and energy.


WOVEN – 21st Century Communication

Denise Nielsen introduces me to the concept of WOVEN.

It’s an interesting take on understanding contemporary communications.  The goal is to work towards the creation of an infographic.  I think that the result could be extremely interesting and serve as a model for more teachers.  As she says, “stay tuned”.


Seven Great Extensions for Google Chrome

I’m a sucker for blog posts like these.  I don’t have the time or the desire to explore and evaluate every extension/add-on that’s available.  So often, I take the coward’s way out.  I let others do the heavy lifting and I just benefit from their experience.

In this post, Mike FIlipetti shares some of his favourites for Google Chrome.  Now, Chrome isn’t my go-to browser – I prefer Mozilla’s Firefox but so often the extensions/add-ons are available on both platforms.

Sadly, it sounds like he hasn’t evaluated them all either!

Regardless, this is a nice collection and they’re worth experimenting with to see if they fit with your reading flow.  Unfortunately, the list contains Evernote’s Clearly, which according to the recent news and the host site is no longer supported.  That’s really too bad; it’s a very useful tool.


Why Edgorithm?

Education is full of words that have been contrived and, I’m convinced, used to make things difficult for the end user.  In a post on Brian Aspinall’s blog, Enzo Ciardelli explains the thinking behind the creation of the name and the logo.

It’s an introduction to the new resource a few Ontario educators have created to support elementary school coding, Edgorithm.

Their rationale?

If you’re interested in this area of computer science, check it out.  As always, you get more from the resource if you’re contributing back.


Student choice vs. “you are still the teacher”

Kristin Phillips gives us her take about student choice and student voice.

I think she gives a compelling explanation of where voice and choice can be important and yet someone needs to remain in charge in her closing paragraph where she takes the concept to a personal level.

It makes me think, however, about when and where student voice and choice should come into being and how we interpret this as teachers.  It reminds me of parenting.  I always gave my children a choice about the pajamas they wore.  I never gave them a choice about going to bed.

This is a very interesting and well argued post.  It’s definitely worth a read if you’ve read all the arguments for and against and still need another look at the topic.


Your Digital Footprint

I think we’ve all heard the arguments “What do you want to find when you’re Googled?  or Binged?”  “We want our kids and our students to be well Googled.  Or Binged”.

I think it’s a discussion and understanding that all educators need to have.  But you don’t always hear it from all educators, just the informed or paranoid ones.  You seldom hear it from a principal.  But Mark Renaud, a principal, blogs about it and includes references to stories about student acceptance to higher education and the institutes that “Google/Bing” their applicants.

It’s good fodder to have when you hear the argument, “Yah, in theory they could…”

The references are all American.  I’d love to see some Canadian sources addressing the same topic.


The Physical Environment and it’s impact on learning

In this post, Kristy Luker gives us a tour of the Hamilton-Wentworth’s Enrichment and Innovation Centre.  It’s an interesting collection of learning spaces.

It’s part of their gifted program.

Success for an environment like this depends upon someone championing the cause.  I think back to the Technology Learning Centres that my former employer had.  It was a great opportunity for students – in our case all Grade 7 and 8 students got the opportunity to experience learning outside the traditional classroom.  Sadly, when its champions left, the program went away.

I do like the concept of letting students experience alternative learning environments.  It needs to be available to all students.


If your head isn’t spinning with all kinds of ideas from reading these posts, you’re doing education wrong.  To continue on the thought that I started with this week – these folks are truly walking on their bridges as they build them.  Drop them a comment to show how much you appreciate their efforts.