How big?


You never know where your next bit of inspiration comes from.  I was looking around to see the entries for next Sunday at Leamington Raceway and then got into a stream of Twitter messages from harness racing people.

In the midst was this …

In terms of Toronto, it identified two of my favourite places.

  • downtown Toronto
  • Woodbine Raceway

and placed them together for comparison of size. 

I would never have guessed.

But, of course, there’s teachable opportunities here.

Fire up Google Maps, switch to Earth view so that you can see the area to be measured, right click a starting point and then click an ending point to create a measurable distance.

So, OK, Leamington is just a bit smaller!

But think of the possibilities when you’re discussing other areas, regions, etc.  Measure something known (like your school yard) and the do the math to see how many of your yards it would take to fill your topic.

There are so many computer skills to master to make the task worth and then the good stuff.  Calculating area, doing the measurements, …

It’s a great answer to the question “When will we ever use this stuff?”

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.


Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.


Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.


Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.


Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!


How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.


Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.


Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.


What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.

DIgging through the map archives


As Aviva Dunsiger notes, I’ve been doing a map thing this week.

It’s the advantage of doing your own blog. You can write about whatever you want. As I’ve noted before, I like to document my learning through blog posts and all of what I wrote this week was part of my ongoing learning.  It’s been fun.  Unlike Aviva who claims to have an aversion to maps, I find them fascinating.  I’ve always loved reading maps but what Google, Bing, and OpenStreetMap have done in the digital era just puts it over the top.

To close off the set of posts, I’m going to do something that I don’t do often – show a Post from the Past.  But it’s consistent with the theme and one of the posts that I really got into.  It was all about using Google Streetview to share some places from my youth.  It goes back to 2010.  Have I been blogging that long?  

Just a quick commentary; if I was doing this with students today, I’d perhaps use Streetview for inspiration and see if the timeline feature would be helpful.  I’d take it even further.  So many have cell phones these days; why not send students out to get their own pictures?  There has been a great deal of discussion lately about banning homework – why not take it one step further and have the student go out for an ice cream and a tour of their own with their parents and use mom or dad’s cell phone to take some pictures and do some family storytelling along the way.  Either way, bring back the pictures to create the final story.

Here’s the original post:

My Childhood Community

I was inspired to do this from a project by ZeFrank called “A Childhood Walk”.  I think that it’s a terrific concept and I’m going to try to replicate some of it here.  As a child, we occasionally went for walks but were always on bicycle tooling around town.  Recently, I was actually in my childhood town of Clinton and went out to take a picture of the Cowper Street sign for a friend of mine, @cowpernicus, who used it on his blog and shared it with his father who had never heard of a Cowper Street.  Hey, we had that in Clinton, and more.  What blew me away as I was sending him a Google map showing the place was that this small Ontario town had been mapped by Google’s Streetview.  That makes today’s entry possible.

Read the entire post here.

And, a related post.

Another unique option


The past couple of days has seen me taking a look at a couple of mapping options.  To the list, I’d like to add a third – OpenStreetMap.

It’s considerably different from the other two which are managed by Google and Bing.  OpenStreetMap is created and built by the local community.  

Consequently, the community decides what gets added and, probably is more frequently updated as new locations become available.  Heck, just like Wikipedia, it could be edited by you and/or your students.  Details are available here.

I went back to Lasalle and started poking about.  What I found really intriguing here was the various mapping options available via the overlays.

It was kind of interesting to poke around and look at the cycling trails that have been built into the town’s infrastructure.

As for transportation, you can’t take a look around Essex County without checking out the uniqueness that is the Tunnel Bus from downtown Windsor to downtown Detroit.  It makes for interesting trips to Comerica Park, Ford Field, Cobo Hall, Greektown, and all of the other wonderful things to see in downtown Detroit.

Because the integrity is managed by the community, in theory, a chance in bus routes should be changed almost immediately.

One thing that I really enjoy with all three of the services are how clean the display is.  I think it’s important to recognize that there should be more than one tool in your mapping toolkit.  OpenStreetMap definitely is one to add.

Size matters


One of the things about having part of your life open to others is they start to feed you the good stuff.

It happened yesterday when my friend Alfred Thompson shared this image.

His friends joined into the discussion and soon, two URL were shared that kept me busy for a while.  Remember me and maps?  Alfred was good enough to tag me so that I didn’t miss these two.

I say this a lot and I won’t apologize – this is addictive.

The True Size of…

Upon visiting, you’re plunked in the middle of an example.  In the dialogue box, top left, clear the map and start exploring.  In the search box, you have the opportunity to enter either a country or a state and then drag/drop it anywhere on a world map to look at the relative sizes.  So, to answer Alfred’s question about Alaska and Europe…

And I was off.  How does Canada compare with Australia?  Clear the map, select Canada and drag it to the southern hemisphere.

That was fun.  There were a couple of observations in doing so.

We know that the world map we’re accustomed to seeing on classroom walls is flat and distorted to compensate for a rounded earth.  As you drag big ol’ Canada near the equator, you see it shrink and then expand again as you move further south.  Whether or not the level of resizing is accurate can’t be proven; you just have to accept that the resource does it correctly.  Even if not, it’s a good visual of what should happen.

The other thing that’s of real interest is, once you’ve selected your state or country, mousing over the image generates a popup that provides the data about the land size selected.  That can be very helpful.

Map fanatics will enjoy this.  Formula 1 fans will really have to zoom in to pick up Monaco.


Not to stop there but another link was shared in our discussion.

My Life Elsewhere

This takes the option of comparing countries beyond the visible. 

Visitors to the site are invited to compare one country to another.  In my case, it was off to Denmark.

Salary is but one way to compare the two countries.  Look for data like life span, environment, etc.  It’s a great comparison and, of course, you’ll want to compare the two in size.

The mapping tool is interesting although not as flexible as The True Size.  The worldwide etiquette is interesting, to say the least.  I now know about tipping in Australia.

Thank you, Alfred, for opening the door to this exploration.  I had a wonderful time exploring.   The classroom applications are many and I could see the crafted educator using these tools in a discussion of world events.

Visualising population


Give me a good map and I’m occupied for hours.

Such was the case with the World Population Map.

This resource maps population growth and much more.

Check out the bottom of the screen for a scrubber bar that lets you visualise the growth of population from the past to the present.

The coloured lines point to various themes along the way.  Mouse over any of the white triangles to get a description of a specific event.

So often, in History and Social Studies, we may focus on the topic and location, forgetting that there’s a whole rest of the world that may be affected or is affecting the topic at hand.

My first exploration was of Canadian milestones.

1812 (Mandatory if you live in a War of 1812 community
1867  Confederation and Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario join
1870  Manitoba joins
1871  British Columbia joins
1873  Prince Edward Island joins
1905  Saskatchewan and Alberta join
1949  Newfoundland and Labrador join
   
1870  Northwest Territories joins
1898  Yukon Territory joins
1999 Welcome Nunavut
   
1967 100 Years old already
   
1914 World War I
1939 World War II

Use this resource to see the changing landscape – Historical Maps of Canada

And that’s just a start.  Check out the world population for your favourite historical event. 

Or just play with the scrubber bar to visualise how the population grew along the timeline.  It’s fascinating.

What would a resource like this be without educational support?  There is indeed a section devoted to Teacher Resources.

This is definitely something to bookmark and pull out to use at the appropriate time.

Gone skiing …


… at least virtually.

This may be old news to some but I just found it the other day and have been playing with it ever since.

There was a story on the news about Wasaga Beach.  That got me thinking about some of the great beaches that Ontario has to offer.  Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine, Southampton, Sauble, …  And that’s just on Lake Huron.  In my youth, I used to visit them all.  These days, I have more of a Lake Erie focus.  Max Webster did their research.

Anyway, back to Wasaga.  If someone was interested, you could start in Grand Bend and follow Highway 21 along the coast to Highway 26 and scoot over to Wasaga and hit all these great beaches en route.  Admittedly, it is quite a bit of a scoot.  A more direct route for me would be to take Highway 4 and enjoy the drive through Wingham, Walkerton, Hanover, Durham, Flesherton, … 

I was “in” my car driving the route on Google Maps.  But, as I left Flesherton, I saw a squiggle to the north. 

Whaaa?  Has Google Maps got a hiccup?

So, I took a detour and zoomed in.

Those squiggles were actually ski runs!  I’d never noticed this before.

I took to zooming in and looking around at the names.  Could it get any better?  Could it?  I grabbed the Pegman from the draw and I’ll be darned if all the trails didn’t turn blue.  They’d been photographed!

You know what I did next.  Well, second.  I first checked to see if the Pegman had grown skis.

Seeing none, I went skiing.

It’s been a few years since I’d been to the Beaver Valley.  I’d forgotten how beautiful it is.  I spent considerable time and bandwidth just running the hills.  I didn’t fall once.

What a trip!  It certainly was a new experience for me.  For my friends from Grey County, how long has this hidden gem been there?  Are there details about how it was mapped?  Snowmobile? 

My apologies to Wasaga … I got sidetracked.