This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Wow, it’s still dark outside as I write this and I read about a winter storm warning for Alberta for today. Could it be?


GO! Explore!

Me commenting on Peter Cameron’s post could have two things happen.

  1. More people get involved with Peter’s current project
  2. The project gets so big that it becomes unmanageable

Of course, there’s a third option but I’d prefer not to think about it.

Peter has been known for a while for initiating and getting involved with projects that extend his classroom walls – a long way. I’m a big fan of the ideas that he has and how he shares them so openly.

This time, he’s sharing an exploration project world-wide where classes check in

Seeking Ts interested in establishing an explorer mindset with their students

Click through to see how you can get involved. The mapping aspect of the results is really intriguing to me and I look forward to seeing this project unfold.


Reflection and Self-indulgence

Much has been written and said about the concept of #EDUknowns and #EDUcelebrities.

In this post, Jennifer Brown shares her thoughts on the issue. I found the post to be very open with her thoughts and interesting to think about her perspective. She’s also brutally honest and I’ve never seen any of the social media compatants mention this at all…

But I also enjoy the attention that posting gives me.  I appreciate the comments, the “likes”, the retweets. My ego is fuelled by these digital interactions. Posting THIS is an inherently self-indulgent act.

So, are all of us who are active on social media guilty at some level in this?

Does it make a difference when there’s money involved for some and not for others?

While I don’t have any t-shirts to sell, I’m currently wearing a Tilley shirt that is no longer available for sale on their site. I wonder if I can promote it and sell it on social media?


School year start up

From the ETFO Heart and Art blog comes an interesting post from Kelly McLaughlin.

Now, given everything that is currently happening in the province, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to complain about the way things are shaping up. She does anything but complain.

Instead, she share a story about the great things that are happening in her start to the school year. There’s a really positive collection of things and ideas. But one really caught my attention.

I have offered students homework to complete every night which will help them prepare for grade nine. 19 out of the 26 students have taken this homework and completed it each night

Now, kids are not immune to what’s going on and couldn’t be blamed for acting accordingly but this success is remarkable. After all, beyond the fact that kids are kids, it’s been a wonderfully warm fall. I’m not sure that, even if I was that age, I would be concerned about next year’s Grade 9 this early in Grade 8. I’d still be outside swimming, biking, playing football, … until the sun went down.

I hope that the success rate continues. Hopefully, she shares updates with us.


Leadership & Goal Setting for Math Learning

You can’t help but feel a bit smarter every time that Deborah McCallum blogs and you read it. I feel that way about this post.

I’ll admit that whenever someone else mentions “Goal Setting”, I pause and the hair goes up on the back of my neck. Methinks someone just went to a seminar and is now prepared to let me know ways that I can improve myself.

It’s not that I don’t set goals personally. I do it all the time. It’s a way that I ensure that I don’t lose sight of the prize and that I’m not spinning my wheels and wasting time. And, after all, if you don’t know where you’re headed, how will you know when you get there?

She nails my thoughts about going beyond working with myself.

I find it can also be very difficult to co-construct goals sometimes.

Maybe it’s the thought that I have to be judgy or maybe that I have to be accountable to someone else. But Deborah’s post does make me feel that there is rationale and reason for wanting to give this a shot.

Then, she takes the topic to mathematics and offers a scenario for all teachers. I like what she has to say.


Wondering About WHMIS: When Compliance Training Makes You Reflect On Assessment & Evaluation

It was with a goofy mindset that I dug into Aviva Dunsiger’s post. I tried to think of all of the great WHMIS sessions that I’ve attended over the years.

And drew a blank.

I remember my first one and this will date me. I went with a friend of mine who was a science teacher and gave me the advice “Don’t drink the ditto fluid”.

Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to the importance of WHMIS but Aviva takes us on a trip about assessment and delivery that hasn’t kept up with the current thoughts. In her district, she must score 80% on a test within three attempts. (she doesn’t share the consequences though)

I do like the thinking of Aviva and her principal about assessment, evaluation, and testing. Could the same principles be applied board wide on WHMIS training? Despite everything, it can’t be an easy job certainly without the supports everyone else has.


Snowbirds

It was kind of a big event around here a couple of weeks ago…

Snowbirds to make a Windsor fly-in visit Thursday

Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day. I’ve never seen them take off or land so whether they do it in formation remains a secret to me!

Peter Beens grabbed his good camera and headed out to take some photos when they visited Niagara Falls recently. This post has a link to a Google Photos collection where Peter shows off his photography expertise with some really good pictures.

Do yourself a favour and check them all out. You’ve got to admire the clarity and crispness of the images.

Thanks, Peter Beens

This is definitely going to be a great way to start your day.


Hallway Connections: Autism and Coding via @maggiefay_

On his blog, Brian Aspinall shares the news of Maggie Ray releasing the book she has written dealing with Autism and Coding.

“Follow Lucas and Liam’s coding adventure as they make a new friend! Lucas and Liam have been assigned a coding project by their teacher. At first they are more excited about working in the hallway than doing the project, until they meet Lily, a girl who has autism. The boys learn that not everyone communicates in the same way, but with the hallway coding activity, making friends is easy and fun!”

Now, I haven’t read the book but the whole premise not only sounds interesting but sounds important. I think we all have seen students in the hallway working on coding activities. But the element of inclusion of all students makes me wonder if this isn’t a book that should be in the libraries of every school in the province.


And, there’s your Friday collection of great writing from around the province. Please click through and enjoy the original posts.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • @cherandpete
  • @jennmacbrown
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @avivaloca
  • @pbeens
  • @mraspinall
  • @maggiefay_

This post appears on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


From the blogs of some of Ontario’s Edubloggers, check out some of the latest. And, by the way, if you are in Ontario an are an educational blogger, there’s a form there so that you join this amazing collection.


Another One Bites the Dust?

From Jennifer Aston, a story that occurs too often with educational software/web resources.

She put considerable time and energy into learning a particular software product, teaching her students how to use it effectively, shared the resource with a parent community that she wants to engage with, and then it’s gone.

When I saw the title, I thought it might be a lament about the passing of Google + but no. In this case, it was a piece of software that she and staff members had devoted time to learning to create and share student portfolios.

You can read her entire experience and see the software titles that are involved in the post.

Such a situation has happened to me more than I would like. It’s part of life for technology users, it seems. I wonder if it’s more pronounced in education. A first response is typically like one that Jennifer includes in this post. In education, moments are precious and those lost during a change in software can be painful. Knowing Jennifer, I suspect that she’ll fall back a bit and then pick up her game with the new software.

It’s still frustrating though. As it would happen, Anthony Carabache had shared a post he had written a while ago that applies … “Embrace the Beta“.


Roll Out The Red Carpet

This was an interesting approach from Heidi Solway. Normally, I visit a blog and start reading. Not so in this case. Before I got to the content, there was a disclaimer.


SPECIAL NOTE: This blog post is unique from all other posts.  I am writing it for my Teaching English Language Learners – Part 1 additional qualification course. The assignment is to, create a mock blog post entry that supports educators with creating a classroom environment that welcomes and supports newcomer ELLs. 

I guess the point was to let us know that it wasn’t part of her job or her regular blogging routine.

But, stepping away from that, it’s a fabulous post that is worthy of note, not only to ELL classrooms but to all classrooms. There are tips and suggestions for welcoming new students, starting from the beginning, setting the classroom environment, designing appropriate activities, and more.

Personally, I think that it’s a great post worth sharing despite the disclaimer. There’s nothing there that I don’t think any teacher wouldn’t want to embrace. Faculty of Education students might take particular note.

Doesn’t everyone expect a “Red Carpet” treatment when they go somewhere new? It lets you jump right in. I’ll challenge Heidi right now to roll out the red carpet at EdCampLondon this weekend.

The only thing that was missing from her thoughts was how to post political action posters…


For Mrs. Barkman

“Where were you when … happened?”

I think that we all have memories like that. Such was the case for Amanda Potts who shared a memory of her teacher during the Space Shuttle explosion. For her,

The space shuttle exploded sometime between the end of Algebra 1 and the beginning of English.

Two of my own memories came back as a result of Amanda’s post.

  • I was in the living room at our Minister’s house when news came across the television about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • I was setting up for a workshop in a computer lab in Essex when my support person called and told me to turn on the television and the news because of the airplanes flying into the World Trade Centre

While I still remember these vividly, I don’t think about them daily. It’s only when prompted.

For Amanda, her prompt came from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Click through to read her thoughts. It’s a very powerful post.

It will get you thinking. That’s gold for bloggers like Amanda.


No Wifi: Pretend it’s 1993

Huh?

WiFi is ubiquitous, isn’t it? In fact, I know people that buy smartphones without a data plan because it’s everywhere they want to be and they can live without being connected in others. Like driving a car, for example.

Now, Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of the more connected educators that I know – except apparently at her dinner table. (Mental note in case I’m ever invited to dine with her)

Her story, in this case, was about springing herself from self-imposed isolation while doing some research and wanting to go somewhere where there were people and she could also get connected.

She ran into a sign that had a message she wasn’t comfortable with.

Apparently not the actual sign but close enough to make her point.

So, the question becomes:

  • is the sign condescending?
  • is the sign humour?
  • is the sign there to stop people from ordering and then complaining that there was no WiFi?

I don’t suppose it’s one of the world’s greatest questions but Jennifer answered with her feet and went somewhere where her needs could be addressed.

If I was the owner of the place, I’d put a piece of chalk out and let people express their opinions about the policy.

Wait – that’s so 1993 – today we rate service on Facebook or Yelp.


EdTechTeam Ontario Summit 2019

Zélia Capitão-Tavares describes herself as:

Artist | Proud Mom | M.Ed. | TDSB Hybrid Teacher – Digital Lead Learner | Passionate about Digital Literacy | Google Educator & Innovator #TOR16

So, what does she do to fill her weekends?

For one, she goes to the Ontario Summit and apparently enjoyed the learning. She offers a description of the messages from the keynote speakers, the CSFirst Sessions she was involved with and an acknowledgement of the EdTechTeam that lead the event.

All this, plus she was a Spotlight Speaker too! It’s always nice to be recognized for accomplishments and abilities as a leader so kudos to her for reaching that level.

She also mentions something in the post that often goes unaddressed by conference goers. Definitely, during the event, you’re hit over the head with the message of sharing your learning with others via Social Media. I suppose there’s the selfish purpose of the organizers to be “trending” but often that’s about it.

Zélia mentions that, when she had a chance to recharge, that she went back to take a look at the learning and sharing that happened. That’s something we all can do. The sharing on Twitter happened here.


The Courage to Teach

Thanks, Deborah Weston, for alerting me to your latest post on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

This is another post that brought back memories for me.

I had no problems accepting the job offer for my first teaching position. After all, it was the only one on the table and I had no other alternative if I wanted a job. I walked into my classes on that first day knowing I was going to be the best thing that ever happened to those students. I knew stuff, a lot of stuff, and my job was to teach them a bit of what I knew.

That was Day 1. Everything went downhill from there.

I think that the biggest thing I learned was that teaching was not about me. It was about everything else that circled around me. Students, colleagues, curriculum, Ministry directives, politics, Federation involvement, coaching, … I could go on but, if you’re a teacher, you know all this.

It also was sobering when one of the people I attended the Faculty of Education tried to organize a reunion five years after we graduated. Some of us were teachers, some had become teachers and left, and some never got into the profession.

It was the ones who had become teachers and left that was the most powerful to me personally. I think that Deborah sums it up nicely in her section “Why do teachers lost heart?

It’s an important message to reflect on as things are anything but idyllic in Ontario Education these days.


Keep It Simple. (thanks, Rachel)

There were two things about this post from Colleen Rose that challenged me.

  • there are a few pictures in the post that don’t come through and I’m guessing that it’s because I’m not friends with the original poster. I was able to visualize because of Colleen’s comments
  • Colleen is a dear friend and such a talent. I have half of one of her painting here in my office. Another friend has the other half.

She received advice advice about using her gifts

My friend Liz (a retired teacher who is adventuring and teaching in China) spoke to me about using our gifts, and that there is a reason why they’ve been given to us.  It’s true — when I create, and especially when I paint, I feel that I am living life to its fullest.

This is such a powerful message, not only to Colleen, but to us all. What is your gift? Are you using it? If not, why not?


Please take a few moments to read these inspirational blog posts in their entirety. You’ll be glad that you did.

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

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

That’s been around for years


How many times have you heard that?

And then maybe you went and Googled it to see if it was true or not?

I like stuff like that. Often, it’s a never ending reminder that there were some very clever people inventing things a loooooong time ago.

So, that’s why I found this story intriguing and had to go through each of them and check them out. From Popular Mechanics, it’s a listing of the best inventions from the last 65 years.

If you were born in 1956, for example, what was a key invention from that year?

……

……

If you said “Hard Drive'”, you’d be correct.

Wow! Who knew? On the consumer end, it wasn’t until my third or fourth home computer before I had one with a hard drive installed. Then, if memory serves me correctly, it was a 5 MB drive for my TRS-80. Fact check here. It sure was better and more reliable than my dual floppy disk drives!

So, check things out. You might want to check what major invention came out in your birth year. How about your students? How about a timeline for students from their birth to present? How about their parents?

That won’t make you feel old at all!

Care to share the invention of your birth year?

I’ll tag this post with both humour and inspiration. I see a big of both.

6 Signs That You Are Not Meant to Be a Teacher


With sincerest apologies to the author of “6 Signs That You Are Not Meant to Be a Programmer“, as I smiled my way through the article, I realized that these signs are not unique to them.  They apply equally as well to teachers.

  1. You Lack Experimental Creativity
    • Those boring old lesson plans that are passed along from teacher to teacher or textbook to teacher or those that we had to prepare for marks at the Faculty of Education don’t cut it in the real world.  Every teacher begins with a concept and then think, think again, and then overthink in order to make the lesson interesting, challenging, and relevant for students.  There’s nothing more useless than plain vanilla in the classroom.  Be honest now – do you ever pull out last year’s lessons and use them without revision?  Bonus:  creative lessons make teaching fun
  2. You Are Not Self-Driven
    • Perhaps it’s not something that you think about but consider this:
      • why else would you go to work when sick yourself
      • there’s no concept of “knock off early” in education
      • who hasn’t experienced the euphoria that you feel when that student finally “gets is” and immediately start to work on a plan to maintain momentum
      • who else would work on a lesson plan at night, while sleeping, when you wake up, in the shower, and then on the trip into work?
  3. You Hate Logic Problems
    • Perhaps it’s not the standard mathematics or logic problem but every student in your care is a puzzle in her/himself.  Successful teachers are constantly looking for the key that unlock the genius and potential within every students.  And like a good puzzle, there’s immense satisfaction with every success
  4. You Can’t Sit for Long Periods
    • Ironically, sitting still isn’t something that’s usually possible in school hours (see normal work hours below).  You’re up and about all the time helping here, solving problems there.  It’s the commitment to lesson plans and marking tests, assignments, doing report cards that require one to be stationary for extended periods of time and focused.  Is there a more superlative word than extended?
  5. You Want Normal Work Hours
    • This is immediately obvious if you’ve ever had a teaching gig, you’ve been the brunt of the jabs about 9-3 and 2 months of holidays.  If only that was what the job was.  Consider that the starting point.  To the base hours, you need to tack on hours for classroom preparation, lesson research, marking, coaching, interviews, report cards, professional learning, additional qualifications, evening phone calls and emails … you get the idea
  6. You Expect to Get Rich Quick
    • Truthfully, the salaries that Ontario teachers get are good and the result of hard working efforts by teacher federations and school districts wanting the best.  It’s so sad to hear about the state of affairs from some of our colleagues in other jurisdictions.  Still, those big houses on the hill and imported European sports cars aren’t owned by teachers.  And, lest you think that you’re getting ahead, what teacher can avoid the dollar stores, Scholar’s Choice, Staples, etc. to make a few purchases to enhance what is already in place in the classroom?

That was great inspiration and fun.  What would you add to the list?

Could I suggest that the only thing that’s even worse is a programming teacher?  They get the best of both worlds!

Taking the challenge


I can’t ignore a good challenge.  Recently, Alfred Thompson challenged me to test out Microsoft’s new CaptionBot application.  He said that he had been having great success with it and challenged me to try it.  The premise is simple; you send it a photo and it describes what it sees.  It’s important to not send personal photos in times like this.

It’s learning so I’ll use my best teacher empathy.  We always try to find the best in our learners, right?

Don’t tell the rest of the Bring IT, Together Committee but I had it open in another window during our meeting last night and was playing around with it so see what I could do with it.

Here are my results…I just dug around some photos from some trips that were on the hard drive and decided to see how they worked.

The Famous Crab

A friend gave me this photo of a crab from a Scuba trip he’d been on.  It was a fond photo for sharing and editing in my Photoshop workshops.  If that was indeed a plate of food, arrangement needs to be revisited!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls at night is one of the most spectacular things to witness (and capture with a camera).  I’m thinking the bot needs to go out more!

Philadelphia

Well, if you look past that big bell with the crack in it, there is a man walking with the person with the umbrella in the background.

St. Louis

I guess I was distracted by that large arch thing when I took the photo.  There is indeed a building off to the right. 

St. Louis (again)

This sports fan was fascinated with the chance to take a photo of classic Busch Stadium.  I completely missed the elevated freeway in the background.

San Antonio

I’ve been to San Antonio twice and never fail to be humbled by the Alamo Shrine which served as a mission.

Phoenix

Bingo!

Well, that was fun.  I don’t think I’m ready to start not tagging my own photos anytime soon though.

Have you tried out the Caption Bot with your own pictures?  What kind of success did you have? 

I’m sure that this student will get better over time and learns.  We just need a bit of patience.

How Geeky Are You?


So, just how geeky are you?

I’m a regular user of the How to Geek website.  I don’t like anything “out of the box” and like to customize everything that I use to try and get the most from my experiences.  (I have locked myself out of things in the past but I’ll just glance over that…)

I do like the fact that most technology isn’t just a black box.  You can configure it to your liking, change colours, add/remove features, add extensions, and the whole bit.  This is a great place to look for resources and inspiration.

It’s also a place for some trivia to see just how geeky you are.

Being wrong can be embarrassing.

Being consistently wrong can send one back for some remediation.  Hmmm.  Even here, my spell check is telling me that’s not a word.  

So, sit back and try out your geekish trivia here.  I’m wallowing around 40% so I shouldn’t be too tough to beat.

Nerd Test


OK, you may need to take a break from the family and turkey.  (making an assumption here)

Or, maybe you just want to be the life of the party this Thanksgiving.

Or, maybe you always wanted to know your level of nerdiosity.

Self-help and analysis quizzes are pretty popular on Facebook these days.

But, they just scratch the surface.

Do you want to dig deeply into the inner you?  If so, then you need to take the Nerd Test, ver 2.0.

It will have you thinking…but you can have a badge when you’re done, if you want.  Here’s mine.


NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber-Dorky Nerd God.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and talk to others on the nerd forum!

And, I am classified….

If you have compulsive tendencies for things like this, don’t look at the menu on the left side of the screen.