This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Didn’t we just have a Friday the 13th? But what a beautiful moon! The nice thing about full moons in the winter is that the skies seem so much clearer and the moon so much bigger and crisper.

It’s time to share another week’s worth of reading and posting from around the province from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, some great writing to inspire thinking for you.


It’s a Matter of Relationships

I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.

Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.

I love this quote from the blog post.

“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light.  The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity.  Relationships truly matter.

Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.

I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.

But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?


What do trees have to do with well-being? (Trees Part Two)

A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.

This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.

Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.

I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.


Shoulders of giants

Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.

With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.

And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!

Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!

That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.

The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.

I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.


Hour of Code Is Coming…

Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..

I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?

An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.

If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?

Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.

I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.


My Look At The Holidays: What Are Your Stories?

I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.

This post was different though.

There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.

She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.

You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?


The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.

Bonus Posts

Easy Money

I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)

What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?

Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.

What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.

Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.

But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.

While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.

BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?


The 500 – #452 – John Prine – Debut

This is a cool concept from Marc Hodgkinson. He says

I was inspired by a podcast called The 500 hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian Josh Adam Meyers. His goal, and mine, is to explore Rolling Stone’s 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

What an ambitious project.

What stood out to me from this post was this new (to me, anyway) musician. I read Marc’s post and then headed over to YouTube for more. Wow, when Robert Plant names a favourite song of yours …


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the original posts. There’s some really wonderful reading to be done here.

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

  • @redknine
  • @tmolouba
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @WillGourley
  • @MsALambert
  • @avivaloca
  • @tk1ng
  • @Mr_H_Teacher

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Most certainly couldn't do this


It was interesting to write yesterday’s post about the beginning of coding for me. It was a true story. My programs did have to travel for an hour to London just to run.

While I eventually got to use terminal devices to program at university, when I landed my first job it was back to writing programs on cards and sending them to the Windsor board office to run for the students. Legend had it that the nice room at the back of my classroom was supposed to have an IBM 1130 of its own but the cost was too prohibitive.

I don’t think it was all bad. Because of the 24 hour (or more) delay to get a program run, we programmers became very thorough in our programming. None of this “let’s try this and see if it works”. We had to plan and trace our way through a program. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting 24 hours only to realize that you missed something silly.

The bottom line was that our devices (and us) were truly disconnected in the process. Of course, it’s not that way today. There really is something satisfying about seeing things happen right in front of your eyes.

After another day of playing around with the micro:bit, it’s a bit humbling to see how things that we take for granted can come to fruition. Who doesn’t have a device or used a device that is connected to something else wirelessly? It’s life as we know it.

With the micro:bit, you can easily program it to communicate with another wirelessly using the built-in radio. Look at those commands.

For the longest time, I had one micro:bit and I longed for the time when I had another just to try this. Of course, you can do it with the online simulator but there’s something about touching it.

A real breakthrough for me happened at a Minds on Media event. Jim Cash was running a coding booth and he had lots of micro:bits. I told him of my desire to just test the concept of sending a signal from one to the next. It was dead simple. I was impressed.

Then, I shared with him a project that I’d wanted to try – build a slot machine! The concept is relatively simple – there would be one master micro:bit that would be equivalent to pulling the lever. Once the lever was pulled, the other micro:bits would display the results. If I ws really greedy, I could have designed cherries, apples, pears, etc. but I settled for 1s, 2s, and 3s. We were up and running in a matter of minutes and I thanked Jim profusely for the use of his gear.

Alas, I’m without a collection of micro:bits. But, I do have a project in mind that would be fun.

When we were kids, we would play a game of “Chase the Ace” around the kitchen table with my parents. It would be interesting to implement that game on a set of these units.

Kids have it made for learning coding these days!

My Hour of Code collection for 2019 is located here.

Next week


This is a modified “post from the past”.  Last year, I ran this for Hour of Code 2018.  I’ve created a new Flipboard document of resources for 2019.  There are some new resources there and some updated from the past.  And, quite frankly, there are some classics.  After all, hours haven’t changed! 

If this is your year to jump or if you’re building on last year’s efforts, hopefully there’s something here to help your cause.  You don’t have to fly in an expert to lead your class; there are lots of terrific resources and ideas here. DIY.

Enjoy.


Next week, December 9-15 marks yet another Hour of Code, part of Computer Science Education Week.

This has been going on for a few years now.  It’s an opportunity to try coding exercises in the classroom and perhaps create an interest in Computer Science and future studies. In Ontario, there are formal courses for secondary school as described in this document.

Depending on who you are, it might be:

  • something else in education to ignore
  • a first opportunity to try some coding activities
  • a change to follow up with what you did last year
  • an opportunity to celebrate the coding that happens regularly in your classroom
  • or for Computer Science class where coding is done daily, an opportunity to reach out and try something new

Hopefully, if you’re reading this blog, you don’t fall into the first category!

All this past week, I’ve been toying with some of the offerings for this year and, like I do annually, I have created a Flipboard document of some of the things that I’ve found.  It’s certainly not inclusive but just might generate some interest or inspiration.

All of the past years’ collections are available as well.  I haven’t checked all of the links to see if they’re still active so clicker beware.

There should be no shortage of ideas.

I would encourage all educators to get involved whether it’s getting started or enhancing whatever it is that you’re doing or have done.  Everyone benefits when you do.

If you’re a social media user, take and share pictures, videos, blog posts, etc. so that we can all enjoy what’s happening in your classroom.

So, what are you doing this year?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Warning!

Posts ahead that will push you to think, laugh, and want to share with other educators.

But, what else would you expect from great content from Ontario Edubloggers.


Routes to Roots

At the BIT 18 conference, I sat across the table from this educator who was preoccupied with taking notes during Stephen Hurley’s half-day session.  They weren’t regular notes and since I was across the round table, they were also upside down.

Well, it turned out this educator was Kelly Mackay, one half of TheBeastEDU, and the notes she was taking was this sketchnote.

Do you see yourself or your values in there?

I find myself agreeing so much in the posts and the Q&A with her partner in TheBeast Andrea Kerr who I also got to meet at the end of the session.

There was a time when the big reason for attending this conference was to see “stuff”, the newest and shiniest.  These days, you can do that at your local computer store.  Most classroom teachers don’t have control over what is purchased for their room anyway.  Having said that, it doesn’t stop me from wandering the Exhibit Hall.

There has been a more substantive reason for attending these days and it’s the people, the connections, and those things that can’t be done as effectively online.  Click through to read Kelly and Andrea’s thoughts on that.


Media Literacy Week 2018

I know that, for some classrooms, “the Google” is the place to turn for resources.

As much as good searching is a skill to have, curation and sharing the best of the best can be so helpful and that’s what Helen DeWaard does in this post.

For Media Literacy’s sake, she’s curated a nice collection of resources for classroom teachers, potential teachers, and students.  And, they’re annotated.

I’d encourage you to bookmark this post or at least cherry pick the resources that Helen has identified for your own use.

How sad is it that I’m still comforted by the fact that the Pacific Tree Octopus never grows old.


Supporting Struggling Students in Math

Deborah McCallum doesn’t blog all the time but when she does, it’s worth sitting up and taking notes of her carefully crafted thoughts.

I suppose you could sit back and say to yourself, “yeah, another post beating up on teachers and students about mathematics”.

If you did that, you’d be doing yourself a disservice.  There’s a great deal to this post in her content but I suspect the real value will be the thinking in your mind that it generates.

In my mind, this comment stuck…

Provide Choice: Encourage students to use their own strategies, or strategies that work best for them.

Choice is one of those buzzwords that can be used and nobody challenges it because its use is so in vogue these days.

I think that Deborah breaks it out nicely and for me, there’s a message that comes through.  If we consider that students build this bank of strategies, we need to support the wisdom that comes from choosing the appropriate one at the appropriate time.

Strategies can be developed in many ways but I think that developing the wisdom to choose is a great deal more difficult.


Let’s Not Start from Scratch: Some Early Research on ‘Coding’

This post, from Peter Skillen, is a year old but worth bringing forth for consideration at this time during Computer Science Education Week and the popular Hour of Code.

For those that know about Computer Science as a discipline, they know that it takes much more than an hour to get it done.  I still remember a quote from Gary Stager “What next?  A Minute of Code?”

There were lots of things happening this week; social media was full of activities in the classroom.  It was a facilitator’s dream to be hired to do a couple of activities with teachers or students and then leave.  Throw in a Papert quote or two for credibility and you’re off.

Hopefully, students, teachers, administrators, parents, etc. are asking “Why are we doing this?”  Nowhere else in the curriculum do we do something for an hour and then move on.

If they’re looking for the “why”, it’s important to remember that advocacy and research in this area is not new.  It’s been thought of very deeply for years by those who are passionate about it.

Peter offers a very nice collection of resources to help answer that question when it’s asked.


Friday Two Cents: Don’t Stress: Laugh And Have Fun

It’s the time of the year.

Paul Gauchi notes that Christmas music in the Toronto area has been on CHFI since the Santa Claus parade.

That channel doesn’t reach here in the southwest but all you need to do is to walk into just about any local store if you need a fix.

Or, if you have SiriusXM radio, they have 16 channels devoted to Christmas Music.

Still looking for more?  Paul points us to YouTube and a reminder that you have the opportunity to laugh to relief the stress that often comes at this time of year.  He shares a video.

I still smile at this one.


Creating the ideal writing program

I don’t know why this is so hard, Alanna King…blogging.

<He said smiling and ducking>

It’s obviously too simplistic to have a one word answer to a topic that she’s thought a great deal about, including this…

It should allow for collaborative work manifesting a classroom culture of trust and reliance among students. Peer assessment and feedback that is timely and constructively critical should be the goal. Multiple modes of expression using various levels of technology should be promoted. Above all various community experts and authentic audiences should be employed to heighten the authenticity of the writing program.

I’m intrigued about the comment “classroom culture of trust” as part of this.

I think I might know what she means but I don’t understand her view of her big picture.  I hope that she drops by to read this comment and perhaps generate a new blog post from her about what it means and what it looks like in her classroom.


Why The Unit Of Measure Matters

From Kyle Pearce, a long and insightful post on the topic.  Warning – don’t read the first part on an empty subject.

OK, so we’ve skipped over the candy part although it does lay down an important part of the message that Kyle is sending.

2018-12-06_0904

I found it interesting because I grew up learning about inches and feet and miles and pounds and the like and then moved to the metric system which almost all of the rest of the world uses.  I remember the rationale but …

If mathematics wasn’t a challenge enough concept, we still (or at least some of us) …

  • give our height in feet and inches
  • use speed signs in km/h but have both systems on our cars speedometers
  • watch or listen to weather forecasts that give both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures
  • wonder what the difference is between Celsius and Centigrade
  • order meat by the pound at the grocery store over the counter but have it in grams when it’s prepackaged
  • know that mph is an exact figure and l/100km is an estimate
  • wonder just what a hectare is

Then, throw in Kelvin as a subversive plot to upend the educational system.

Anyway, this is just me getting way off track from Kyle’s post where he applies the concepts of mathematics and working with units in the context of the Ontario Curriculum.

It’s part of an ongoing series that he’s working on.


Please take a few moments to click through and enjoy all of these posts in their original form.  There’s great thinking involved.

And, follow these bloggers on Twitter at:

Next week


Next week, December 3-9 marks yet another Hour of Code.

This has been going on for a few years now.  It’s an opportunity to try coding exercises in the classroom and perhaps create an interest in Computer Science.

Depending on who you are, it might be:

  • something else in education to ignore
  • a first opportunity to try some coding activities
  • a change to follow up with what you did last year
  • an opportunity to celebrate the coding that happens regularly in your classroom
  • or for Computer Science class where coding is done daily, an opportunity to reach out and try something new

Hopefully, if you’re reading this blog, you don’t fall into the first category!

All this past week, I’ve been toying with some of the offerings for this year and, like I do annually, I have created a Flipboard document of some of the things that I’ve found.  It’s certainly not inclusive but just might generate some interest or inspiration.

Screenshot 2018-11-30 at 10.30.27

All of the past years’ collections are available as well.  I haven’t checked all of the links to see if they’re still active so clicker beware.

There should be no shortage of ideas.

I would encourage all educators to get involved whether it’s getting started or enhancing whatever it is that you’re doing or have done.  Everyone benefits when you do.

If you’re a social media user, take and share pictures, videos, blog posts, etc. so that we can all enjoy what’s happening in your classroom.

So, what are you doing this year?

 

Emojify the holidays


My computer is marking “Emojify” as a spelling error.

So much for 21st Century Learning.

Today, an Hour of Code for the younger (or older) crowd.  We know emoji are everywhere but can you ever find the perfect one when you want it?  I know I can’t.  They don’t make them handsome enough to show the real me!

The Made with Code group from Google has this terrific little exercise.  It’s called Emojify the holidays.  There’s no writing a game or other application as a result.  In this case, you’ll use a block based interface to build your own emoji.

The blogs make things easy.  Just drag the appropriate one out to the editor.

Screenshot 2018-11-28 at 13.56.38

In the process, you’ll have to work with variables, encapsulation, sequences, and objects.  Plus, there are layers there to let you place things on top of other things to get you desired effect.

There are a nice choice of characters; I went with Rebecca.

Screenshot 2018-11-28 at 14.00.26

Then, of course, I had to experiment with everything.  Well, lots of things.

My result?  Let me blow you a kiss.

download

Of course, sharing results is always important and that feature is here as well.

Viewing the code and have it clickable via context was a nice touch.

Screenshot 2018-11-28 at 14.03.24

Is that mathematics and coordinate work I see in there?

Have fun.

An ode to coding


Continuing along with the prepared for the Hour of Code, I’ve been working my way through the “playlist” from the Europe Code Week.  This time, it was enjoying a little bit of Scratch coding.  I suspect that most classes will do their introduction to coding via Scratch.

This project called “Ode to Code” was prepared for the Europe Code Week 2015 but I don’t think that it will grow old.

The presentation is in the form of a tutorial…

  • Choose a Backdrop
  • Add Music
  • Play the Music
  • Add a Dancer
  • Code the Dance

Now, this being  European, it comes as no surprise that the backdrops feature a quick tour of Europe.


Ah, classic Copenhagen!

And the music … it’s worth visiting the site to play the music and enjoy.

Then, it’s time to do a little dancing…

Getting the moves right and synchronizing to the music is a good activity.

If you’re getting ready for the “Hour”, then check out this activity and see if it suits your needs.