This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s the first Friday of December.  It won’t be long now.

Check out some of the great reading that I enjoyed recently from Ontario Edubloggers.


Paper Twitter: Why and How to Teach Digital Technologies with Paper

Royan Lee suggests a way to teach about digital technologies, specifically Twitter in this post.  He also shares a number of resources for this in his Google Drive account.

It’s an interesting approach that undoubtedly will allow to teach the basics and keep the focus of those learning rather than all the distractions that can come from the real thing.

The purpose of Paper Twitter is not only to deconstruct how the technological aspects of the social media machine works, but also to tone down the figurative volume so that the point of it as a personal, social networking tool can be grasped through, well, social interaction, not initial solitude behind a screen.

I just hope that people don’t get sticker shock when they move on to the real thing.


Recognizing a Reluctant Writer in the Mirror

Jen Aston turned me to this post from Annette Gilbert.  It was a reflection and action stemming from a professional learning opportunity for teachers called “Inspiring Reluctant Writers”.  Part of the learning was to have the group create their own blogs to share reflections.  It’s an interesting approach and she had a couple of questions moving beyond the workshop.

Those are some interesting thoughts and it would be a nice followup to see if she gets answers to those questions.

Hopefully, the blogs extend beyond the course and we have a whole new batch of bloggers pushing the profession.


Effective Facilitating and Blogging

I had mentioned this post by Diana Maliszewski earlier, a person I still have to copy and paste her last name to get it right.  The latter part of the post dealt with her analysis of her own blog in response to a post I’d made of my own earlier.  This time, I took some time to think about the first part of the post where she’s part of a workshop from ETFO called the Presenter’s Pallette.

With the growth of the use of teacher-coaches and consultants helping educational systems grow, it sounds like a fabulous opportunity for her.  Stepping back a bit, it looks like a great opportunity for all teachers.  Even if the ultimate career goal isn’t in that area, the skillset can’t help but benefit any classroom teacher.  Hopefully, it’s made available for others to attend.


Every Day Is Unique

I don’t think that you can argue much about the title of this post from Rola Tibshirani.

Worthwhile of note are her thoughts about growth mindsets – a topic that was really in vogue for a while but seems to have dropped from the radar as of late.  It’s too bad because that’s a concept that’s worth hanging on to and building success from.

Included in the post are numerous quotes and ideas including a Google Presentation.

You definitely need to put this on your “must read today” list.


Do we see poverty in our schools?

Thoughts and sentiments about this are very prevalent at this time of year.  There’s a bigger message in this post from Paul McGuire though worth keeping in mind.

Now, I don’t see this as good enough.  I have been very fortunate to work in a high poverty section of our city – for me this is a first.  I am ashamed to say that I really didn’t know the extent of the poverty in these communities in our own very wealthy city.

For some, it’s a way of life 365 days a year.  A friend of mine notes that it’s more noticeable in the winter since you notice more when kids wear the same clothes day after day and hunger is more apparent.  It’s not as noticeable in the warmer weather when t-shirts and shorts are the order of the day.

It’s something to keep your eyes open for – even if you’re not teaching in a “high poverty section” of your community.  It’s everywhere.

Thanks, Paul, for keeping our eyes open.


Amaryllis Thoughts

I had to smile when I read this post from Kristi Keery Bishop.  I only ever had one class in my entire teaching career with a window.  It was an Accounting class and there were two windows in the back and our caretaker was a bit of a green thumb type person.  Sure enough, on the ledge, he had some plants that enjoyed the sun and thrived.  My regular classroom had no such luck.  It makes all the difference in the world.  The sad part was that being an early arriver and late leaver, there were entire days in the winter that I never saw the sun during the week.

Anyway, Kristi turns her amaryllis experience into an analogy for professional learning.

My PD thoughts turned to my amaryllis.  While I was focused on watching the stem (not) grow to great heights, I completely forgot about what might be going on under the soil.  Maybe my amaryllis has spent it’s energy these last ten days spreading roots so that when the stem does start to grow tall, the bulb will be strong enough to support the height.  You need strong roots before you make great surges in growth.

I think it’s a terrific analogy in our world of accountability where deliverables from PD matter so much.  How many times have we completed an application to speak that starts with “By the end of this session, participants will be able to …”  Maybe it’s more realistic to that “By the end of this session, I will have planted the seed for participants to be able to … on their own”


RETWEET OR SHARE?

Donna Fry shares some of the thinkers that influence her –

Other curators help me sort through the unfathomable amount of information on the web.  Stephen Downes, Doug Belshaw, and Audrey Watters are examples of thought leaders who filter, curate and share information regularly.  I know that there will be value in their curations.

But the real message was her being taken to task for retweeting a message.  I think that it’s part of the consideration that we all need to understand.  Hopefully, nobody retweets or likes a message based solely upon a title.

I don’t totally agree with her assertion

An algorithm, which you have no control over, determines what content reaches your eyes.

I suppose it’s true if you’re a passive reader of content and don’t aggressively look for the good stuff.  But, I would challenge it at least based upon my personal experiences.  I like looking for content on my own, from original sources, based specifically on topics of interest to me generally and for what I’m currently curious about.  I make no bones about it; if you follow my sharing and my blog posts, they are definitely tainted by my foci.  I make no claims about sharing both sides to any story or concept.  I may do so in my mind but that never goes public.

The topic is of particular importance right now with stories of social media getting their houses in order after accusations of phony stories arising during the recent US elections.  Will it make online reading a better place?  Probably a bit better but there’s so much and so many sources publishing daily that the best thing you can do is learn how to fine tune your BS detector.  More than ever, the skills of a knowledgeable teacher-librarian should be in high demand in any school or school system that wants to consider themselves best of breed.


Thanks, again, to the wonderful Ontario Edubloggers above for sharing their thoughts and insights again.  Please take the time to click though, read their entire thoughts and then drop a comment or two.  Or, if Donna’s blog post doesn’t scare you again, retweet or share their writing.

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.

Starting or reflecting on a blog


I love these types of posts.  I’m certainly not new to the concept of blogging but advice like this wasn’t available when I started.  Blogging has become part of many people’s way of thinking, reflecting, organizing, remembering, promoting, and selling.  The selling part is an integral part of successful businesses and there’s lots of advice available for them too.

I’m not starting a blog or starting a new blog, but I still think it’s an interesting exercise to reflect on an existing blog with metrics like you see in a post like this.  “5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting a Blog“.  After all, don’t we want to be happy with what we’re doing?  I know that I do.

I’ll take the “5 Things” from this post and see how I think I fare.  And, if you have a moment or two, please comment and let me know if I’ve got it right.  If you’re a blogger yourself, I challenge you to analyse your own efforts.

1. Having a plan is essential for making your blog a success

I’ll admit that I didn’t have a plan when I started.  I was in a workshop at MACUL where the presenter was extolling the value of blogs as the 21st writing tool for students.  It seemed to make sense at the time so I started.  Very slowly I started.  It was tough to come up with ideas at first.  Then, I realized that I was doing it wrong.  I wasn’t a traditional student where the teacher would lay out a topic and individuals or groups of students would write about that topic.  I had to come up with ideas on my own.  Once I realize that, blogging became easier.  Then, the light bulb went on.  I needed to have quick and easy information about a resource.  In the past, I would have had to start searching and relearning.  But, I had already done the research and blogged about it.  I went back to the post, re-read it to refresh myself and I was good to go.  That moment has stuck with me ever since and remains the number one piece of inspiration today.  I may not need the information right now but maybe some day…  I now have a plan.  I’ve always learned by writing as my reinforcement.

2. Your blog is more likely to succeed if it is social

I like to think that I do this right.  It’s posted here; I try to make sure that it gets posted at 5am daily and is automatically sent to Twitter to let the world know about it.  I have learned the value of scripting so immediately, it’s cross posted to Facebook.  I also share it to Google+ and I have a Pinterest Board as well.  I supposed that it might result in increased readership but the real value for me is that it can generate comments and thought from others.  I also like it when my ideas are challenged or confirmed.  The real challenge is staying on top of things.

3. Content is king!

In the beginning, I tried to have a very narrow focus of ideas.  Quite frankly, that became difficult to maintain and come up with variations on a theme on a regular basis.  I think that’s the death knell for many would-be bloggers.  There was a moment that I thought – why do I need to focus on just one topic?  Why not write about whatever comes to mind.  That turned me loose to write about anything that caught my interest and I live/blog by that mantra today.  It released me to try and experiment with various things.  It also enabled me to do regular posts that I enjoy like “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”, or “Whatever happened to …” or “Response to Spammers” or “Interviews”.  It also reinforced the notion that blogging doesn’t have to be a painful writing exercise, it can be fun.

4. You may have to learn basic Search Engine Optimization

I probably don’t do this very well.  I do enter categories for each blog post and I try my best to come up with a good title.  I try to use words with each post that are descriptive and get to the point that I’m trying to make.  Does Google like me?  I’m not sure.  That’s about the extent of what I do myself.  But, I have good friends.  People like @NoelineL, @avivaloca, @vickyloras, @DavidFifeVP, @jen_aston, @ProjectPupil and others who regularly reshare my posts.  That’s the best optimization a person could want.  I respect their efforts and, by inheritance, the efforts of their networks to maybe decide to click over and read the post themselves.

5. Relationships matter

Relationships do, in fact, matter.  That may well be the number 1 personal benefit.  I enjoy it when folks take the time to comment or retweet a reference to a blog post.  I’ve mentioned many times how lonely education can be.  Social media and the connections/relationships that it affords is something that education has wanted forever.  I sit back and am humbled with the relationships that I’ve made over the years and can’t help but thank social media for being that big enabler.  There’s something so impressive when you go to a conference and immediately strike a conversation with someone you’d never make a connection without the impact of social media.

I think that these five are a great start but there’s a few more that I can add.

6. Commit to posting regularly

How many blogs have 1 or 2 blog posts and then stop?  Or you wait for months for the next sharing of thoughts from someone?  If you’re going to be successful, you need to be regular.  Whether it be daily, weekly, commit to a schedule.  It sounds difficult until you actually do it.  Those that care know that it doesn’t have to be perfect or the definitive word.  I think that’s part of the educator’s mindset that can be a blocker.

7. It doesn’t have to be in print

If you didn’t take keyboarding in Grade 9, never fear.  Typing a blog is but one way.  If you have a phone or tablet, create your own blog using audio/video media.  It can be your source of content if keyboarding isn’t your thing.  You just can’t easily correct mistakes.

8. Take risks

Blog about something you’re just learning about.  You don’t need to be an expert to have an opinion.  And, being wrong can be a great way to start a conversation.  (or so I’ve heard)

9.  Reciprocate

If someone is good enough to drop by your blog, visit them back.  There are absolutely wonderful thought sharers who do a great job.  Just like you appreciate the comments, thoughts, or analytics on your blog, they do on theirs as well.  Looking for a place to start?  Try Ontario Edubloggers.

10. Look for a niche not already done

Continuing on the thought of Ontario Edubloggers, why not look for something that nobody has done.  For me, I’ve alway had a list of my favourite blogs available on this blog.  That list became pretty big and yet I wanted to continue to share links to other blogs.  I stumbled onto Livebinders and saw an immediate use.  Sure, I could have had a big list but visit this list and you can read for hours without ever leaving the site.  Or use Diigo to create a post automatically of what you’re reading and sharing like my OTR Links?

There you have it.  My current reflection and thoughts about blogging.  Thanks to Lifehack and Dmytro Spilka for the original post.

What are your thoughts?  Do I have myself analysed correctly?  What about your own thoughts about blogging.

Please share below.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There are always great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.


#BIT16 takeaways : Flippity

In the first of a pair of posts about takeaways from the recently concluded Bring IT, Together conference, Johanne Ste. Croix was impressed with the tool that underscores Alex Trebek’s contribution to education.

A game of Jeopardy anyone? Need to pick teams? A name at random?  Check it out : Flippity.net!

I remember this demo from the slam and it was effortlessly demonstrated for us.  Good choice, Johanne.  I remember sitting next to someone at the Slam and asked if today’s kids really appreciate what Jeopardy is all about like we long time viewers do.  Regardless, it’s a good tool and can be used effectively in the class.

#BIT16 takeaways :  Breakout EDU

I’m a little jealous that Johanne got to attend one of the BreakoutEDU events.  I had every intention of attending at least one of the sessions but duty called me away to other things.  The neat thing about folks who blogged after the event is that we can share at least part of the experience.

In this post, she shares her thoughts on the experience and how she sees it fitting into her classes.  They pretty much echo the comments that I heard from others.

If you check out her blog, make sure that you scroll back and forth; there are many reflections about other events that inspired her.


Breaking At #BIT16: My Self-Regulated Conference Experience

Aviva Dunsiger makes a long case for her self-regulating at the BIT Conference.  It seemed to hit a positive note with readers with plenty of comments coming through.  She offers some tips for those who feel the need to self-regulate.

It’s an interesting list of things to do.

Personally, I find that I do anything but self-regulate when I’m at these things.  I want to take it all in and then use my time post-conference to regain whatever control that I have.  I think it’s important, as she notes, to identify your own stressors.  Mine is just time at these events.   There isn’t enough of it.


Who’s On First?

If you want a smile and a chuckle from a BIT Conference attendee, then check out this post from Daphne McMenemy.

I think that the big thing to take away is don’t take any of this stuff too seriously.  She focused on the brag tags.

I’ll confess; there were many of us who didn’t know what “Je gazouille” meant.  Even when you do a search, the results come back in French which didn’t help much.  Thank goodness for Google Translate.

It was just so good to hear about the good times enjoyed at the learning experience.


A bit after BIT16 – reflections from a cave

Helen J. DeWaard gives a very lengthy summary of her experience at the conference.  What struck me most was the people connections that she seems to have made.  I think that most of us added a new word to our vocabulary.

The mobile picture frame definitely was a hit.  There’s a huge story about debate and careful carving that goes along with it.

It’s also nice to be mentioned in someone else’s blog post – she made reference to my post Observations from a Conference.

On a very serious note, the Remembrance Day break was noted as well.  For many teachers, it may be the first time for a very serious reflection instead of classroom management during it.


ECOO16: the DIY approach protects you from the tyranny of technology

Tim King absolutely nails it with his reflection on his session at the BIT Conference and technology use in schools in general.  It’s not a quick and easy read but it pushes you to think about things.  He tied his personal history and love for motorcycles together to make a powerful message

The difference between digital technology and automotive technology is that the digital stuff insinuates itself into your relationships and becomes a 24/7 part of your life.  It affects your thinking rather than your muscles.  Not knowing how a car works might occasionally inconvenience you and cost some money, but not understanding digital technology when you spend hours a day socializing through it or (worse) teaching with it, is a disaster waiting to happen.  It isn’t a disaster for tech driven multinationals who live off your data though.  They will happily convert you and your students’ ignorance into profit.

I really thought that his observations about Chromebooks should give you pause to think.  Recently, in the ACSE discussion group, there has been a discussion about Chromebooks being dropped into Computer Science classrooms and the challenge that it poses for CS teachers.  There may have been a time when the devices should have been managed by someone outside the classroom but increasingly that’s becoming something that is dated.  Educators like Tim are on top of things; students are more sophisticated than ever before; why does education still need this dated thinking.  Why shouldn’t building and maintaining your own class computers be seen as valuable?

It leads nicely into his next post – ECOO 2016 Reflections: maker spaces and iteration

If you’re still interested in this them, take a read of a recent Gary Stager post – How Educators Should Understand Hillary Clinton’s Server


Making video work better for you

Since we’re talking about learning at the conference, I’ll make reference to my best takeaway (other than meeting so many new to me people)

It was Carlo Fusco’s demonstration at the BIT Slam that really reinforced how you can make great technology even better.


Why do you want kids to code?

Jim Cash created this terrific graphic to set the stage for his discussion about the difference between “learning to code” and “coding to learn”.

It’s a definite keeper as are Jim’s comments.  Coding seems to be the “current thing” in education and often is just demonstrated with some flashy example and claims that every child is a particular classroom could write the code.  As we all know, your mileage may vary.

I think many computer science teachers would take issue that secondary school computer science courses and their approach are somehow different.  I don’t know of too many who think that what they’re teaching is the definitive answer in programming.  We all realize that there are many languages and syntaxes.  What remains, after the rules are stripped back, appears in the right column.  I think it’s good advice for everyone.

Just why do you want kids to code?

It would make for a great panel discussion somewhere.


What to do when things don’t go as planned….

This is something that EVERY technology teacher needs to understand.  It’s not a matter of “if things don’t go as planned”; it’s “when things don’t go as planned”.  I would suggest that, if everything goes as planned, you’re not doing it right and you’re not taking chances and pushing limits.  It’s not just technology; every teacher of every subject always has a Plan B in their hip pocket.  But what happens when you need something bigger than that?

Adele Stanfield talks about things going wrong at a bigger level than just today’s lesson.  As a result of reorganization within her school, a major rethink was in order.  She lists these options.

Those are some pretty major decisions to be made.

I’m pleased to see the alternative that she chose and wish her all the best.  You’ll have to read her post to know the answer.

I think every teacher can read this post and empathize at some level.  If we only lived in a perfect world.


What an amazing collection of thoughts from Ontario Educators!  Please click through, read their thoughts and leave a comment.

Until next week…

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday from the Bring IT, Together Conference!  It’s a wonderful day to share some of the great reading I enjoyed recently from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  It’s always a pleasure to share some of the great thinking that’s happening.


Finding the Motivation

It’s easy to “fall off the blogging wagon” at times.  Life and other commitments sometimes get in the road.  This post, by Jaimie Reaburn Weir, is a reflection on her personal blogging situation.

It’s good to see her blog back up and active again.  She regularly shares insights about teaching and certainly is high on my reading list.  Her emphasis on empathy is a great lesson for all.


ECOO16: Virtual Reality & The DIY School Computer Lab

I got a chance to stop by Tim King’s Minds on Media session yesterday.  It was hard to miss.  Many sessions were involved with people sitting on the floor operating robots or in chairs working with a piece of software.

Tim’s session was considerably different.  Participants had virtual reality headsets and folks were waving their hands as they were immersed in a virtual universe.

Tim has become a very important part of the conference in the past few years.  In this post, he shares thoughts about his Minds on Media session and his Friday breakout session.  Both definitely are off the straight and easy path.  If you’re looking for something completely different…


Best BITs: Wrestling with math in School 2.0

Alanna King takes on the topic of mathematics and where/how it fits into schooling.

Math does need to infiltrate all disciplines to be authentic. It would be best not taught in isolation. Embed it into art, dance, science, social studies etc. . . make it real by pondering real numbers and real questions.”

We talk about across the curriculum needs in so many subject areas.

Who better to offer a suggestion than a teacher-librarian who actually sees it all.  They’re in the best position to take the pulse of education and the pulse of the culture within a school.  I found her observations powerful and found my head nodding in agreement as she relates first her own personal experience with mathematics (which wasn’t negative in the beginning) and then extrapolates her current school.


Learning is a drug…no really, it is

David Carruthers made sure that I didn’t miss this post from Heidi Solway.  So, with Roxy Music playing in my head, I clicked to check it out.

I’d like to think that the concepts that she touches on describes my fascination for continually looking for and learning new things.

Learning is a drug. No really, it is. If you find the right ‘stuff’ to learn about…you get hooked! You keep coming back for more, just like a gambler keeps hitting the casinos.

There are things that have to fall into place for the mindset of addiction to be effective and you shouldn’t feel a need to apologize searching for it.  After all, nothing succeeds like success.  It’s definitely worth the hunt.


Social Media is Not Real Life

Really?

You only have to turn your thoughts to two things in our recent past.

  • the US election
  • Pokémon

Could we agree that social media is a way to report on or enhance real life?

Yet, at the same time, we have to whip out our BS detector.  Is effective literacy instruction a matter of helping students draw that line between real and not real life?


Student-Paced mode in @PearDeck for #3ActMath tasks

There are so many right in this post from Laura Wheeler.

I make no apologies for loving mathematics.  I always have.  I’ve always thought of every mathematics problem as a puzzle to be solved.

But, growing up learning mathematics, we never had things like PearDeck or the internet or the pedagogy of the 3 Act Math task.

So, reading this post was exciting for this guy.

I liked the concept of the lesson that she develops and shows how she works with, groups students, and implements the 3 Act Math.  Mathematics teachers – take note – does it work for you?


Just a Project. Just a Mark.

I had a quick talk with Colleen Rose about this post.  She called it just a short quick one.

But there’s so much there if you’re willing to think about the traditional approach to projects.

It sounds like she’s opened a door for that student and is now feeling the pressure to support him in a manner that she hadn’t expected.

So often, we think of blog posts has having the answer to a problem.  What if they became the genesis for new thinking, learning, and teaching?

Love it.


Please take the time to drop by and check out these wonderful blog posts.  Then, head on over to the Ontario Edublogger list for even more.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Real thoughts.  Real concepts.  Reality from the blogs of Ontario Educators.  Check out some of these posts.


I Love My New Job

Didn’t we all have that emotion when we got a new one?  After all, that’s why you said yes to the job offer.

After a couple of months into her new job, Eva Thompson reflects on her experience.

I think that it’s positive in her growth as a professional that she feels that way and that she’s continually learning.  What more could a person want?  It also speaks nicely of her employer to put her in such a position and support her doing this.


Be More Salmon

I’ve never been a fan of eating salmon as a food but I’ve always been intrigued by the traits of the salmon and its pereverance at getting where it needs to be.  Who hasn’t seen videos of this?

Matthew Oldridge takes us to the Credit River for this thought.

It leads to a great question.  Should we all “be more salmon”?


The ABCs of October

It’s a trip through the alphabet with Sue Bruyns.

We’ve all experienced them before and interestingly enough, when I did some research, women are more prone to them…..  Earworms!  You know when a song gets stuck in your head and no matter what you do, it plays over and over again.

She uses the alphabet to reflect on what October thoughts that she had.

There’s some great thinking here and I suspect that her thoughts might resonate with many people.

And, she managed to find a thought for a Q as well.  You’ve got to love that.


What Does “You Don’t Know… What You Don’t Know…” Really Mean?

I feel like this is how I live my life.  By exploring and playing around, there’s so much more to learn.  I think that it’s particularly effective for me because there’s that satisfaction that comes from learning about something new, learning more about it, and either mastering it or having at least enough success to get that “Aha” moment.

This post, from Mishaal Surti, should get your thoughts moving about yourself and your students.

There’s an excellent conclusion in the last paragraph and a reminder that, if it wasn’t for this condition, there would be no need for a school system or teachers.


Talk Less, Listen More

Kyle Pearce addresses his own bit of learning in his new role.

He describes an interesting approach to backing away from expressing his thoughts in favour of listening to others.  I hope that he thinks this through.  In education, listening isn’t necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be.  For any topic, in his case mathematics education, there are all kinds of experts for any particular slant on the topic.  I think that you have to be discerning about what you listen and retain.  I’ll throw in a couple of quotes of my own.

  • An expert is someone from out of town
  • An expert knows more and more about everything until she knows absolutely nothing about anything

I think that it’s important to realize that the real genius may well be you.

Talking, blogging, other social media can be very powerful.  (as is listening)  I think that there’s a healthy balance that needs to be found.  Nobody likes a siphon.  Similarly, nobody likes a know it all.  In my opinion, the key to success is to both listen and then “talk” in whatever mode works for you to encourage discussion to help you sharpen your thoughts and approaches.  Give yourself license to be wrong, to change your mind, and to morph towards the goal.


When Peeing And Pooping Enter Play, What Do You Do?

Given that this post from Aviva Dunsiger was posted yesterday, I was wondering if this was click bait to get me to include it in TWIOE!  After I got that, I thought about the comments that a colleague shared with me once about the problems of teaching in a portable classroom.

As I dug into Aviva’s post, she described the very real situation that teachers of our youngest students deal with daily.

Nothing is more amusing to them than “peeing” or “pooping,” and they like to discuss these topics while eating, while playing, and while doing everything else in between.

Anyone who has ever had children of their own know all to well what an important and frustrating time this can be as a child grows.

Of course, the topic never goes away.  But it does pose a continuum of ways that educators need to address it with students.


My epic fail and other learning

What a beautiful lead in to Jennifer Casa-Todd’s recent post.

Now, before you get all excited to find out what the real biological problem is, let’s head it off.

Spoiler Alert.

It’s still an interesting read but deals with Google Keep.

But don’t you just wonder about supper conversations in their house?


SOCIAL EVENTS!

The latest addition to the Bring IT, Together blog outlines all of the social events for attendees.

  • MEGA-MINGLE
  • HyperJam Open Mic Session
  • #BIT16 Reads Book Club Breakfast
  • Thursday ‘AfterSLAM’ Reception
  • BIT’s Got Talent Contest
  • Breakout EDU
  • BIT Minecraft Party
  • Social time at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
  • Rise and shine it’s exercise time!

Oh, and there’s a pretty good conference wrapped around all this social stuff.

It’s tough to think that, a week from now, it will be all over.


There’s always some pretty amazing thinking and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you take the opportunity to click through and read the original posts and share a thought or two with the authors.  They’ll appreciate.

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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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

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


One Thing Everyone Needs

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

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

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

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

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

But I think of one other time.

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


Some advice I give my students

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

Gems like:

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

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


Leave Work at Work

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

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


Many Unanswered Questions About EQAO Online Test Failure

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

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

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

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

Andrew follows up on this post with another.

http://andrewscampbell.com/2016/10/26/eqao-lying-october-20th-ddos-attack/


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

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


WHO AM I? HELP STUDENTS EXPLORE THEIR IDENTITY

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

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


Teaching Hub: Post Nine, Week Eight

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

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


LEARNING SPACE AND INNOVATION STATIONS AT #BIT16

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

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO MEET?

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

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


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