See you on the other side

Admit it.  You, like me, have heard and probably used the expression “Dig a hole to China”.  It’s based on the premise that if you started digging in your back yard, you’d come out somewhere on the other side of the globe in that country.

I remember it as a challenge in Geography.

But, when we took a look at the globe and spun it around, it turned out that we were a long way from China.  But it was kind of cool and an inspiration that the globe was attached at the top and on the bottom.  The next step was to create our own globes with styrofoam balls, sketch in the continents, estimate where we were in this globe and then, using a poker, go for a dig and see where we actually would come out.

These days, we can do it digitally.  This isn’t to demean creating your own manipulative globe and all the learning that goes along with the original activity, but there’s something cool about doing it on your computer.  I guess it’s the precision, but more interesting, repeated tries until you come up with a starting and ending point of interest.

It won’t happen though, if you start in Windsor, Ontario.

The other side of the globe to Windsor is somewhere in the South Indian Ocean.


If you look closely at the image above, (or open it in a new window), you’ll see that the co-ordinates that would normally be N and W to be in downtown Windsor, get changed to S and E and you’re now treading water.

The site is the Antipodes Map although you could do it manually yourself. Quickly, you dig that hole and see where you come out.  So, it begs the question, is there anywhere in Canada where you emerge on dry land?  Since both locations are plotted on a Google Map, zoom out a bit on each and do a little refined try to see if you can do it.

Don’t stop there though.  Scroll down the page and take a refresher course in Geography.  There’s lots of good stuff to read, including the paired cities.

And, depending upon your frame of mind, this might be a cheat or a real insight.

Antipodes: The Other Side of the World


It’s not Stratford

The closest I’ve come to Shakespeare is at the Festival in Stratford.  It was a compulsory destination in high school and an elective now that I’ve graduated from there.  In either case, it’s a fabulous destination.

More than the theatre, the community is terrific for walking and wandering about; the geese being the most serious obstacle!  But, the bridges and the shops and more make it a wonderful place to visit.

But, back to Shakespeare.  (and not the village outside Stratford)

Google’s Map History or the Wayback Machine certainly couldn’t take us back to the 1500s and London in Shakespeare’s time.  But, the Agas Map certainly can.

I have this romantic vision of London from that time.  I’ll confess; it’s largely based on Oliver Twist and other media references (movies, documentaries, books, …)  But, the Agas Map from the University of Victoria took me to a new level.

I love maps and I’m really intrigued with how this project was created using materials from the London Metropolitan Archives.  (it’s worth a visit for its own merits as well)

But, head over to the Map and be prepared to be amazed.

The copyright restrictions are very tight so there are no screen captures to share.  If you enjoy maps, you’ll love this.

The map uses an extensive collection of overlays to let you identify prisons, churches, neighbourhoods, etc. in the city.  Of course, I had to check out St. Paul’s Cathedral!  That had me hooked and before long I was zooming in and out, recognizing so many places I’ve just read about.  Each object is clickable to display a popup of further information about it.

This is just a terrific way to spend lots of time exploring and wondering.


Extraordinary sights at home

Yesterday morning, my friend Lisa Cranston tagged me with this post.

All of the World’s Extraordinary Sights on One Map

She knows that I’m a lover of maps and this one is fascinating.  While I’m not the world traveller in the family, I do like poking around looking here and there for interesting things.

And, sometimes, they’re just down the road.  For students, often the summer is filled with trips but there’s amazing things just around your community.  I decided to check out the local area and was quite disappointed.  You can go directly to the map here.

Here’s a zoomed in look at Essex County.

Screenshot 2017-06-20 at 08.35.20.png

Sadly, the only thing that made the map was the old Boblo Amusement Park.  It’s not a bad choice.

We know that there’s more and it makes the trip and touring interesting.

Here are ten things that I think should be added to the map.

  • Windsor Sculpture Gardens
  • Peace Fountain
  • The Tip at Point Pelee
  • The Ambassador Bridge (and all its traffic)
  • Historic County Road 50 and its collection of wineries
  • Dairy Freez in North Ridge / Cottam
  • Doll Museum in Malden Centre
  • Pelee Island (the ferry ride is worth the trip)
  • Dieppe Gardens and then on to Willistead Manor
  • Amherstburg Freedom Museum (formerly the North American Black Historic Museum)

And I could go on for a while.  Caesar’s Windsor, Baby House, Lighthouse Cove, Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens, Jack Miner Sanctuary, Amherstburg’s Navy Yard and Hostas Gardens …

Don’t even get me started on the amazing restaurants and the best pizza in the world.

Why not take a look at the original map and check out your own area for places for your students to enjoy via day tripping at home this summer?  Or take a trip down the 401 to Essex County.  Tell them Lisa and Doug sent you.


Whatever happened to …

… road maps?

There was a time when no car was complete without one.  In fact, there was a time when they were free for the asking at a gas station.  They were promotional in nature and came with advertising.

The real kicker was being able to fold it back up when you were done.  They didn’t really cause the distracted driving these days because you had to pull over to the side of the road just to unfold it, try to locate where you were, and where the next turnoff was going to be.  Paper road maps didn’t have the ability to track you.  That’s what road signs were for!

Going to multiple provinces?  Then, you needed gas when you crossed the boundaries to get the next map for your trip.  Fortunately, this was seen as a real need and the concept of a road atlas with spiral binding came along.

They were staples for any car; I always had one tucked in the glove compartment (which I don’t think ever held gloves), the centre console, or in the back of the passenger seat.  When I was looking for my first teaching job, I had one posted to the wall over my desk to make sure that I didn’t miss a county in the province with my standard “I wanna job” letter.  A really useful feature that the traditional road map had that isn’t as apparent today was that the county seat had a special character to make it stand out on a map.  The board office often was located there. The biggest drawbacks – new roads since the last publication and the dreaded “fold that becomes a tear”.

But, these days, it’s hard to find yourself a good road map.  Visit a Chapters and you might be able to locate some at the back of the store.  Technology has provided a better answer – first the GPS and then applications with GPS for your phone.

The demise of the road map meant the loss of a wonderful tool in the classroom.  Sure, you could teach map folding but there’s much more.  Estimation of distances, calculations of travel time, population growth, and the even popular calculate the shortest distance by writing your own software solution.  It was a great way to teach the concept of nodes and sophisticated algorithms.  I wonder if Scratch can do that…  The one consistent thing with physical maps was scale.  It remained constant as opposed to an application that adjusts depending upon your view.

It would be interesting to take a walk through a parking lot at a big shopping mall and see how many people even have one today.  I know that I don’t.

Instead, technology has provided us with another solution in GPS and digital mapping solutions, both browser based and web based.  You might have an actual GPS unit in your vehicle for on the go advice or you might use an application or you might even plan on a computer.

But things are never absolutes.  Let’s plan a trip from Leamington to North Bay.  (Two absolutely wonderful places to visit)

Here are three options and opinions about how to get there and how long it will take.

Google Maps


Bing Maps


Here We Go


It’s not quite an exact art with each tool having its own idea about time and distance and what makes for the centre of a community.

And, don’t forget configuration – do you want to avoid construction, bypass the 407, take the most fuel efficient route, take the more scenic route from Toronto to Barrie, etc?  You’ve got all the data available to make your route planning in advance instead of perhaps taking a vote along the way.  Current technologies also let you avoid accidents rather than sitting stuck in traffic wondering what’s going on.

I hope that there are some map connoisseurs ready to check in and share your thoughts on this Sunday morning.  I’d be most interested in reading them via comments below

To help the discussion, consider…

  • do you still own a paper road map?
  • what’s your favourite digital mapping tool?
  • have you ever been burned by a digital tool recommending something bizarre like turning the wrong way on a one way street?
  • do you mount your phone on your dash or do you have a dedicated GPS to help you along the way?  Of course, nobody here would have it in your hand while driving.
  • finally, and don’t search for the answer – do you know what GPS stands for?

Check out the entire collection of Sunday morning memories here. And, if you’re so inclined, add a suggestion through a suggestion in the Padlet.

Whatever happened to …

… PCGlobe?

Now that I’ve unlocked the lock that was keeping me out of Windows, I used it as an opportunity to do a backup.  Isn’t it sad that it takes a moment like that to job the memory?

Anyway, as I “watched” the files fly by, I was reminded that I seldom throw anything away.  There were so many presentations from the past that made their way to the external drive and I thought of one that my old partner and I, Grover, had given in so many places.

PCGlobe Across the Curriculum

The presentation, of course, was based upon the application PCGlobe.  It had a Macintosh version, MacGlobe, and a subsequent update was called PCGlobe Maps and Facts.

A couple of the instant recollections was that PCGlobe was one of the first applications that came on multiple diskettes.  Diskettes?  Maybe that’s another topic…

PCGlobe was my first digital atlas.  At the time, it was a fantastic collection of images and data about the world’s countries.

The first version used to run on the Icon computer with the PC emulator, although the 4 colour CGA emulation really made reading a bit challenging.  And, small countries were difficult to hit with the trackball.

By Carobeppe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Point and Shoot was such a popular feature.  It was a great trivia game when you’d identify a country and students had to locate it on the map.  Hello, Switzerland, Monaco, …  It could keep students busy for hours with the appropriately chosen country.  The database section was a great place to harvest data for Computer Science students to solve problems with real world data.  There were so many things that you could do in addition to the obvious Social Studies applications.  Many were mathematics based and there were no apologies given.  Every teacher is always looking for interesting things to do to interest students in mathematics.

As I think now, many of the activities that we demonstrated are now standard fare in Google Maps or your car or phone’s GPS.  The one drawback, of course, for an application that you just install and use is that it’s never (or at least seldomly) updated and so political changes or changes in country data can quickly go out of date.  Even today, Google takes a conservative approach to drawing some country borders.

As for PCGlobe, it was a very popular application in the early 1990s and there were many a teacher who used it as the first curriculum application in their classroom.  It just had such that appeal.

How about you?  Does this jog some memories?

  • Were you ever a user of PCGlobe/MacGlobe either as a teacher or a student?
  • What’s your current favourite mapping application now that so much is available online?  Google Maps, Bing Maps, Apple Maps, OpenStreetMap, Something else?
  • Do you ever rely on a GPS when driving, walking?  When was the last time you updated your GPS maps?
  • If you had to find a collection of data about countries of the world, where would you turn?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Check out the entire collection of Sunday morning memories here. And, if you’re so inclined, through in a suggestion in the Padlet.

It’s windy out there

Don’t you just love the expression “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it?”  It’s hard to give advice except “come in out of the rain”!

I enjoy watching the Weather Channel and the local weather.  It helps predict the future and what sorts of things that you might plan for the next day.  We know that the wind patterns give us an idea of what to expect. There are many options to try to understand this.

Windytv is all that and so much more.

It’s Saturday morning and this is what the winds are doing in North America.


All in beautiful colour and motion!  Now, normally, I could just watch this all day.  But, there’s so much more.

Across the bottom is a slider that would let me adjust to get a sense of the future.

But there’s more…so much more…visualizing in layers is something that we’ve come to expect from resources like this and WindyTV doesn’t disappoint.

And, of course, what would a map be if you couldn’t zoom in and out of locations.  You know you’ll want to check out your house.

All this weather coming in from the south promises a great day ahead!

But don’t stop there.  Click on a location or search for one.  There’s so data; so much information; so much to learn.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Good morning, everyone.  Or, good whatever depending upon when you access this post.  I’m delighted to share with you some of the inspirational thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve encountered recently.

My Last 10

I’m not sure what number it takes to create a meme but the people I know about bit on a challenge that I put in my post.  It was based upon a challenge from Alec Couros.  I wrote a blog post and challenged others to find and analyse their last 10 social media entries.

If you were summed up by your last 10 tweets or FB posts, what would that look like?

  • My Last 10 – Peter Beens was the first person to respond.  I wasn’t surprised that I might have guessed what sorts of things that he would share.  Peter is a big Google guy and does a lot of automation so it wasn’t surprising to see Google thoughts and references to his own creation.
  • My Last 10 – Next up was Lisa Cranston.  And, like Peter, I kind of suspected what she might share.  She’s heavily involved in self-regulation and still connected to initiatives that she started before she retired.  They’re reflected in her collection.
  • A Look At “My Ten,” And My “Strive For Five” Goal! – Aviva Dunsiger was the wild card in all this.  I thought that she might have included a number of videos from her classroom.  (I enjoy watching them in the evening)  Instead, there were a number of pictures from her class mixed in with her regular interactions with others.

I thought that the whole process was worthwhile doing.  It’s like a gut check to take a look at how you’re interacting with others.  Remember “You are what you Tweet”.  What about you?  Have you looked at your last 10 lately?  Why not write a post?  Tag me with it so that I don’t miss it.

And, just an observation – David Letterman has left the concept of 10 as the magic number for lists with us!

Toss An Idea Away

These are great words of advice from Matthew Oldridge.

Sadly, this is one person that just can’t/won’t do that.  I have so much baggage.  I have an old filing cabinet in the garage with every lesson plan and assignment that I’ve ever given.  I really should digitize them some day.

I have this blog that is full of every bloggable thought that I’ve ever had.  (Except for those that are posted elsewhere)

Is it a sign of being an educator that we never throw anything away because there may be a time when we could use it again?

Perhaps it’s good to partner with someone that will do the purging for you.

Building #ThinkingClassrooms

Laura Wheeler shares her thoughts on the works of  Peter Liljedahl

Via words and this wonderful sketchnote, she digs into things and I think that the sketchnote really illustrates what it means to her.

My biggest personal takeaway is the word “defront” as in “defront the classroom”.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about schools that I’ve taught in or visited.  They, by design, have a definite “front” to them whether it’s desk position, classroom door, student movement flow, electricity, ethernet drop, …  Defronting may well be more difficult than what it seems.


It took a little bit to get to the educational message in Sue Bruyns post.  Most of it was about real fires, her love of them, and conversations that she’s had about fires with others.

Then, there was this little gem.

You’ll need to read her whole post to understand the importance of space but I think that we can all sympathize with the notion of “piling on”.  It’s not just students; what about the workload that’s piled on teachers.

So, if students are choking trying to burn and teachers are choking trying to adhere to the latest missive from the board office, can we always expect fire to ensue?

Should we get it to start to burn, Stephen Hurley asked during our radio show – are we then guilty of extinguishing it – intentionally or not?

This is a great analogy and really worth thinking through for all.

TDSB Google Camp 4.0 SOLD OUT!

Congratulations to the organizers of the TDSB Google Camp.  Apparently, it sold out.  That’s awesome.

At events like this, often people are tweeting messages about what they’re doing but this really is one of those times when 140 characters just doesn’t quite cut it.  Fortunately, Zelia Capitao-Tavares took the time to blog and share her experience as helper, social media, and presenter and apparently a Slammer.  And, they had kids at the event!

I enjoyed reading things written from her perspective.  It sounded like a great day.

As always, there should be a real shout-out to the organizers.  Putting together an event like this is no small task.  Cleaning up afterwards isn’t a quick activity either.

On days like this, there are always too much available for learning and too little time.

BreakoutEDU Digital – Online Escape Games for Students

Last year, at the Bring IT, Together Conference one of the social events was a BreakoutEDU session for those who registered.  At the request of the session leaders, the session was capped at 100 people and so I didn’t attend, not wanting to rob a seat from others.  Sadly, as it turned out, I could have attended as there were many no-shows.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know about it until the next morning.

The concept still intrigues me and I do a lot of reading about it.

This post, from Larissa Aradj, really does a nice job to describe the process as she takes it digital.  In the post, she provides an example of how it looks, digitally, in both English and French.

What I appreciated from the post is that she takes the concept further to explain just why she uses this technique with her students and what she’s looking for as they work.  There’s a great deal in the post which makes reading and bookmarking totally worth your time.

Oh, and apparently Larissa won the demo slam at tdsb camp.

Many hands on the way to Kilimanjaro

Finally, a post that’s about as close to out of this world as you can get.

I first met Paul McGuire when I invited him to be a member of the Bring IT, Together committee.  We really wanted to ensure that there were topics that would appeal to those principals in attendance.  From that point on, I’ve remained in contact with social media, using Twitter and through his blog.  He is at the other end of the province afterall.

Paul has recently retired and one of his goals is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He’s using a GIS account to all those of us with lesser ambitions to follow along.

I know that I’m going to be following Paul’s blog and the map here.

Will you?

Please take a few moments and click through and read all of these wonderful blog posts.  Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to leave a comment or create a blog post of your own.

You can follow all of the Ontario Edubloggers here.  If you’re a blogger and not on the list, please add yourself.