This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Just like that, we’re into December. I’ve often wondered if the holiday seasons might get people away from their keyboards. That may be yet to come but, for now, there’s some great content from Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s a bit of what I read this week.


Our Kids’ Spelling is Atrocious.

As long as there have been schools and teachers, there have been red pens and circles surrounding spelling mistakes. Look it up. (well, you don’t have to really)

I found this post from Peter Cameron so interesting. It’s a transcript of a conversation between he and a parent who has a concern and was looking for an app or other solution to help the cause.

Peter does give some educational suggestions and guidance.

Upon further reflection, I looked at myself. I’ve always considered myself a fairly good speller. And yes, I suffered through those Friday morning dictation tests in elementary school. I hated them at the time but can now appreciate them for what they are worth. I’ve memorized the words, the rules, the exceptions to the rules, … I was not hooked on phonics.

And then I go onto Social Media and see misspellings and misuse so often, I start to question myself. Is this the beginning of the end of literacy for me?

In the meantime, thank goodness for the squiggly red line under the word misspellings above (actually at the time I typed it, it was mispellings) to keep me on the literacy straight and narrow.


Baby It’s Cold Outside: The Saga of a Song

There was no date on this post on the Association for Media Literacy website. I thought it might be recent and timely for the season but I reached out to one of the authors, Diana Maliszewski to be sure.

In fact, it was about a year old and part of a commitment to post 40 blog posts along with Neil Andersen. After a bit of a back and forth and encouragement with Diana, I decided to include it on the Wednesday podcast and on this post.

In reading, I learned so much more about the song besides the fact that it appeared in an old movie. Lots of media literacy implications (which explains why it’s on this blog) and a real comparison between society and media, then and now. There was a reminder that the song was banned on the CBC for a time and so much more. It’s a really good read and the authors encourage it to be used in the classroom.

I also found that Lady Gaga had covered the song.

And so many others. If the original was controversial, then how would the more modern covers be received?


From Compliance to Commitment Takes Personal Accountability: The Aspirational Nature of Equity Work

With a title like that, you just know that there’s going to be a long post to follow…

And Debbie Donsky doesn’t disappoint!

If you’re looking for something to challenge the way that we do things in education, this is a great motivator.

I mean, we’ve all done it. You get the memo that there will be an assembly on a topic or that homerooms will be held so that you can lead a special session with your students on a timely topic. I’m thinking bullying here.

As a dutiful educator, you do it. You’re accountable to do it. At what level of buy-in do you actually have though?

That’s where Debbie left me in the dust when she addresses rules and policies and applies the concept of aspiration to the situation. After a read, and you’ll read it way more than once, I think you’ll find yourself questioning a number of things. That’s a good thing and something that good writing should do.

The richness doesn’t stop with Debbie’s content. There are lots of connections made and links to external resources. She’s really done her homework in preparation for this post.


Thinking about Feedback

I almost didn’t read this post from Helen DeWaard because I made the assumption that it was going to be all about red pens, circle, and comments to students. Goodness knows that we’ve addressed that so many times.

But, no, that wasn’t the point here and why I felt so good about indeed reading the post.

Helen’s focus is on the other side of the coin.

What do YOU do when you receive feedback?

She embeds this graphic that will take a bit of time to really work through. But it’s worth it.

Think about how you receive feedback. We get it all the time. Sure, there’s the inspection piece from administrators but we get it from students with every lesson. It’s just a matter of really understanding it.

I remember a story attributed to B.F. Skinner from a Psychology of Teaching course where students ended up making a teacher work from a corner because of their actions. Every time the teacher moved towards the corner, the students all smiled and nodded like they were learning. Move away and the students dropped interest. The truth value of the story is in dispute but it is a good story nonetheless.

Feedback is indeed powerful. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to take a course on Peer Coaching and then found a partner who really understood and we worked together so well coaching each other. We still do today.


One-Hole Punch Puzzle Templates

I’m almost positive that I’ve done this mathematical activity described in this post from Mark Chubb. It involves paper and a paper punch. It might even have been as an ice breaker at a workshop. It might have been an online application that didn’t require physical paper or punch at all. It’s a really worthwhile challenge though.

If all you want is the activity, go to Mark’s post and skip to about halfway through it where he describes the activity.

But, if you do that, you’ll miss the important part at the beginning of the post and the why to the reason why you’d want to do this with your class. And, I would do it with everyone, either singly or in groups for the discussion value.

It’s a great activity to use those papers that are in your recycle box. There really is no need for brand new paper to do this activity.


History in the Making – Creating Digital History Techbooks

Paul McGuire had reached out to share with me this culminating project that he called “History in the Making”.

The last assignment we worked on was called History in the Making. I had this idea that it would be really cool for students to develop a digital textbook along the lines of what Discovery Education has created for math, science and social studies.

He was particularly proud of one project dealing with The Oka Crisis. He wanted me to take a look at it for my thoughts. In the post, he shares a couple of others that he thought were exemplary.

Everything seems to be created in a Google Site under the University of Ottawa’s umbrella. I hope that the students also make a copy in their own personal space for use when they graduate.

Some of the things that sprung to my mind while wandering around the resources here.

  • are other Faculty of Education professors encouraging publishing like this?
  • hopefully, they don’t land a job where Google Sites are blocked! (There are alternatives in that case…)
  • particularly in social studies with our new learnings, digital techbooks have the chance of being more relevant and up to date than other resources that might be available
  • certainly resources like this added to a digital professional portfolio would be impressive for a job interview
  • the concept of open sharing of resources is so powerful. It makes school districts that hide behind login/passwords seem so dated

I’m impressed with Paul’s forward thinking and I hope that his students appreciate both the explicit and the not-so-explicit lessons that can be had from this activity.


Thirty one days – my social media detox

If you’ve been missing Sarah Lalonde online, this post explains it all. She has done a personal social media detox.

All the details of her process are found in this post. It wasn’t all just an easy exercise. There were challenges.

Under the category of TMI, she also shares how and where she cheated…

And to address boredom…

One thing I found the most difficult was the “dead time”. For example: waiting in car, in line at the grocery store, waiting for an appointment…). My brain felt like it needed to be entertained. Was I scared to face my thoughts? Why did I need to feel busy? Why couldn’t I just sit there waiting and doing nothing? This is something I had to work on. 

She even extends the concept to students.

I think the big learning here is in perspective. Social Media is something that can be as big or as minimalist as you want it to be. I can’t see one answer that fits everything.

Regardless, it was interesting reliving the experience with her.


I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I did. Please take a moment to click through and send some social media cred to these bloggers. If you’re a blogger and not in my Livebinder, please consider adding yourself so that I know about you.

Then, make sure you’re following these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • @cherandpete
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @mediasee
  • @A_M_L_
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @hj_dewaard
  • @MarkChubb3
  • @mcguirp
  • @sarahlalondee

This post originally appeared on…

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Black Friday, if you observe. There’s nothing discounted about the great posts coming from Ontario Edubloggers. You get full value for your reading.


Good Tree Stories

This week starts off with a post from Sheila Stewart. Maybe it’s a little less “education” than normal but it might make you look at your Christmas tree in a different way. She was inspired by a story about Halifax donating a tree to Boston which led her to thinking about trees in Kenora.

It got me thinking about Christmas trees in my life. As a kid growing up, it was always down to the trees sold by the Kinsmen and Kinettes. The tree had to be the perfect height with the perfect amount of symmetry. Lots of mathematics to consider when you’re freezing…

In our town, there’s always a big show as our natural tree is lit. The mayor, town crier, shooting of the town cannon, fireworks, hot chocolate, and of course the RiverLights.

These days, we’ve found the perfect solution for our rec room – an artificial tree which is absolutely symmetric. It makes the perfect backdrop for our Christmas picture.


If not now, then when?

From Rob Cannone, the best wisdom for professional learning.

With students, they learn something and immediately put it into practice. Can you imagine the disaster if you taught something and then didn’t get into projects, assessments, or any of that good stuff until a month or two later?

So, why as teachers, do you attend professional learning events and then not implement things right away?

Rob notes some steps that he feels should be done.

  • One thing at a time
  • Open the box
  • Share learning with others
  • Practice makes progress (accept it won’t be perfect)

His third point is even more important in this day and age. There was a time when you might learning something and then share it with a colleague in your school. With social media and its power, your best new learning partner just might be online.


Q is for Questions and Not Getting Caught in the Quagmire

From Lynn Thomas, another post that I thought moved nicely from kids to yourself in the argument that she builds.

We all remember our days at the Faculty of Education and the advice that we got about questioning – never ask a question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No”. Aim for something deeper and richer so that the student can provide evidence of learning.

Then, for me, the post took a turn.

When we ask questions of ourselves, do we aim for the richer questions or are we happy being able to respond “Yes” or “No” or ticked off on a to-do list? Or, updated to 2019, anything that can be answered quickly by a search engine.

Other than the fact that Quagmire also starts with a “Q”, I like her logic of avoiding getting stuck.


KEEPING BIRDS SAFE INQUIRY – GRADE 1

From the STAO blog, something a little different from Laura Collins. It’s actually a unit of study about birds and safety.

We have a couple of bird feeders in the back yard. We know that you have to reliably fill the feeder. We’ve learned about ways to avoid birds flying into windows. We’ve learned how to keep the squirrels off the pole. There’s so much more in this unit including the CN Tower.

And we get so excited to see Blue Jay, Cardinals, Woodpeckers. Squirrels, not so much.

There’s a real wealth of activities, literature, and learning opportunities here. Wow!

Most definitely shareworthy.


Guided Reading with Adolescent Readers

I thought that I was going to be like a fish out of water with the post from Deborah McCallum. After all, I didn’t teach reading. That’s for the younger years; by the time we got them in secondary school, they should know how to read, right?

But, are they all really accomplished readers?

Deborah points to a lack of extensive research in this area. In our voicEd Radio show, Stephen shared some of the challenges that he had as an adolescent reader. Do we make the assumption that because they’re older, they just are all natural readers or have at least mastered the skill successfully?

Deborah offers a few things to think about. Good for beginning readers but certainly worth keeping in mind for the older ones.

  • Low knowledge of vocabulary
  • Inadequate word recognition strategies
  • Lack of schemata or background knowledge to interpret text
  • Poor use of strategies to comprehend what they are reading

HTML/CSS with Canada Learning Code

My neck snapped when I read the title to this post from Alanna King. Then, I thought, we’ll turn her into a programming geek yet.

In a previous post, she mentioned how he was excited about learning about design and interface but now she’s rolled up her sleeves and is digging into code.

Her description of the activity matches the activities that we used to set up in our “Women in Technology” workshops for Grade 7/8 girls. There is something magical about looking behind the scenes to see exactly what’s going one. You might remember the inspirational “a pixel here, a pixel there”.

These days, there isn’t a huge need to be able to code many things from scratch since we have such great, purposeful editors to work with. And yet, there is the odd time when you need to look behind the scenes because something isn’t working just right. I can’t imagine how long it would take to write a blog post without an editor.

But, I still maintain, that’s not the ultimate goal. To be sure, the power behind programming and coding is knowing that you can absolutely be in charge of that page, that site, that device, that electronic thingy. Once you know, realise, and understand that, you can’t be pushed around by a wannabe or a particular device.

Learn and take charge – Alanna’s on a wonderful trip.


Equity Tech’quity

There’s real frustration in this post from Matthew Morris.

the kids in my classroom were in the middle of completing their short stories and the laptops they had been writing short stories on were booked – for the entire week. 

In his school, the supply doesn’t meet demand when it comes to technology and that’s the TLDR;

It’s the sort of thing that legitimately turns teachers off using technology in a meaningful, reliable way. Imagine any subject area where you can only do what you need to do every other Thursday if you remember to book things.

“We are teaching students born in the 21st century. We need to meet them on their plane.” Round of applause.

How many times have we heard this? Some self-important speaker on the speaking route commanding a fee that could otherwise have bought maybe 10 Chromebooks. Or, in Matthew’s case looking at a neighbouring board where a commitment to the concept has resulted in every student being given a device. I can understand the frustration.

Somewhere along the line, the people who allocate the dollars have to decide whether they’re prepared to fund a significant program or be happy with periodic low-level activities.


Thanks, once again, to these wonderful Ontario educators for blogging and sharing their thoughts. Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. And, make a blogger happy – leave them a comment.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @SheilaSpeaking
  • @mr_robcannone
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @staoapso
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @banana29
  • @callmemrmorris

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There never seems to be any shortage of good blog pieces from Ontario Edubloggers. Friday is my opportunity to share what I’ve read recently.

Here goes…


Arguments for Teacher Performance Pay in Ontario

This wasn’t the first time that Kyleen Gray has blogged about the merits of Performance pay for teachers. See the older post here. In this post, she argues five areas where she feels how performance pay would improve the profession.

  • Will support retention of effective teachers
  • Improve teacher performance
  • Positively impact student learning
  • Public perception of teacher professionalism
  • Vet poor teachers from the teaching profession

Personally, I have a difficult time seeing how it would play out in the long run.

  • Who would make the judgement about who is effective and who isn’t?
  • What is the baseline against which performance would be judged?
  • Particularly in her fifth point, would there be an opportunity for a “poor teacher”, however that is defined, to improve?
  • Are some subject areas more valuable than others?
  • How do you compare performance across grades, across subject areas, across a school district, indeed across a province so that there is a consistent standard?
  • Do we place higher value on coaching than we do on a person upgrading their qualifications or the experience and wisdom that comes from longevity?

There are so many issues that I just can’t see a solution to with this premise. The value of teacher federations goes beyond pay – it also involves security, benefits, social activism, collegiality, pension … How does that survive?

Stephen Hurley also blogged about the issue here.


Slice is of Life: Who Needs Me?

I would argue that teachers work all year long to get to the point that Lisa Corbett describes in this post.

In a mathematics class, she found herself on the outside looking in. But in a good way!

No student needed her assistance and yet all of them were engaged with whatever activity they were assigned. (See the image with the smiley faces in her post)

My first note on Lisa’s post was “this doesn’t happen by accident”. It’s the result of a great deal of hard work creating the environment, developing the skill set, and finding engaging activities to have the students working in this manner.

I suppose that she could have left and got herself a coffee but she found other equally valuable things to do in the classroom. What’s not to like?


WHEN LAST PLACE FEELS LIKE FIRST PLACE

In the first sentence in this blog post from Mike Washburn, I had to open a tab and find out just what he was talking about when he claims to have finished a race on Zwift.

Then, I was able to read on and put things in context. I had already had my eyes drawn to the spreadsheet-like construct that appeared in the post. So, Zwift allows him to compete against others in a MOOC for cycling and running. He was competing against people from who knows where and who cares where with the goal of pushing himself to do better things.

It’s an interesting concept and he admits that he had some pretty strict competition but it was a fellow competitor by the name of Lisa that kept him going. A lesser person might have just given up.

So, he stuck with it. Then, he turns his eyes towards the classroom. Is there personal learning that he could take from his experience to get the same results from his own students?

It’s an interesting read. I think it is a good reminder that we all need others to support us in our endeavours. As adults, we hopefully can realize this. How can we set the table so that students get the same understanding?


Find A Vision

Joel McLean offers a video well worth the time watching.

We can’t all be visionaries. I think we all know that.

But, how do you work for/with/along with someone who is.

Joel offers three suggestions…

  • Ask questions
  • Put on a different pair of glasses
  • Have faith

And, there’s another piece of advice that a visionary that I worked with told me once which was one of his attributions of success.

Surround yourself with smart people

I think we should all learn that we just might be that smart person that they want with them. If we use Joel’s advice, you just might be able to make them better.


Perseverance, struggle and a little grit: How running a 53km race relates to Education

Seriously? 53km?

Even biking that distance is an edurance. Jonathan So did this race and it took him 06:16:49.

The numbers and the distance just blow me away.

So, what does it mean in education? I like his quote

if we want our students to _____ than we need to show it.

He shows endurance, grit, partnerships, and all those things that we value in education. What a great testimonial about how he undertakes these things in personally.

It would take a brave student to refuse to do a lap of the track or gym in Mr. So’s classroom after this.

And that smile!


Do We Need A Scaffolded Approach To Bullying?

Coming from an educator in Hamilton, Aviva Dunsiger, served to put a great deal of context to her thoughts about bullying, particularly at this time.

On the eve of a bullying prevention assembly, she’s musing about ways to get a suitable message across. It’s NOT an easy topic. If it was, we would have solutions in place already.

Maybe this message is a utopian ideal. Maybe it won’t work in every grade. I wonder though if there needs to be a scaffolded approach to bullying. Would a book like this one be a good start in kindergarten, and what might the impact be as the kids progress along the grades?

I’d love to see a Language teacher or a teacher-librarian take a read of Aviva’s post and provide a continuum of books for students to help the cause.

While we may not have the ultimate answer, I love the fact that teachers are thinking, talking, and through this blog post, advocating for the cause.


New Journeys

This blog post, from Lisa Munro, gives us an insight into education that we don’t always see. She’s a Superintendent of Education and blogging. As she notes:

I have hesitated to blog too much in this system role because, misguided or not, I sometimes feel people expect me to be the expert and that is not a great feeling.  If you have ever blogged you know there is a certain vulnerability in putting your ideas into a public space; a vulnerability and a commitment.

There absolutely is a vulnerability when you’re blogging. It’s something that I think that we all come to wrestle with the concept periodically. In Lisa’s case, she’s only two months into this new role so can be justified to be feeling that way a bit.

I can’t help though, but think that there’s real value in pairing this post with Joel’s post above. Nobody is in the position of being the all-knowing expert. But you can surround yourself with supportive and wise people and what better platform than a blog to make this happen?

Lisa does invite you to converse with her via blog and Twitter. Why not take her up on that?


So, absolutely, there is another wonderful collection of blog post for this week. Please do take the opportunity to read their thoughts in their entirety.

Then, make sure you follow them on Twitter.

  • @TCHevolution
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @misterwashburn
  • @jprofnb
  • @MrSoClassroom
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaMunro11

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It would be hard to start this post and not talk about snow. It’s been a heavy week around, especially for a November. Buses were even cancelled one day and, in typical Essex County fashion, the main roads were dry by noon.

It’s time to share some of the great posts I read recently from Ontario Edubloggers. And, by the way, if you’re in Ontario and blogging or know of someone who is, please add it to the form that’s there to collect for the purpose of growing the list. Or, directly here.


Did you get your flu shot yet?

Your public service notice this fall from the Heart and Art Blog and Deb Weston. It’s personal for her.

In 2009, my students invited their classmates to a birthday party. One of the students had the H1N1 flu virus. In a class of 24 students, 18 students missed a week of class due to this flu. Their teacher, me, was then hit with the flu. I missed 4 days of work. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Upon hearing I was diagnosed with H1N1, my partner got his flu shot and slept in another room until I was well. The flu compromised my immune system and months later I contracted Whooping Cough.

It’s hard to believe that, despite the facts, we have this conversation every year.

Since you can get it at a pharmacy now, there’s no “waiting for a doctor” excuse any more. Just do it.

I’ve got mine.


He talks about me at home

There was a time when student-led conferencing was solely an elementary school thing it seems. So, it was with real interest to read that Amanda Potts had mom and a family of three show up for parent/teacher interview – two students that she taught.

From a reading perspective, I found myself bouncing back and forth with empathy from teacher to student who had just been outed that “he talks about me at home”.

From an education perspective, I thought that it was a real winner that this parents wanted to talk about the choice of reading that was selected for this class. I don’t imagine that happens a lot.

The timing of reading this post and an invitation to listed to a new podcast from Amanda and Melanie White made it full circle here. I enjoyed both.

You can read more about this podcast on Amanda’s blog as well.


A Stitch in Time

I knew about much of this from Colleen Rose through private conversations. She wasn’t going to be going back to the classroom to start the fall semester after having had a great summer.

Colleen goes very public with details, including a TMI warning in this post.

I think that it’s cool that she’s turning the whole thing into a learning event – how much more “teacher” can you get than that. In this case, it’s teaching herself to knit. Kudos for doing that.

What impressed me about this post is that there’s a common thread running through it – yes, it’s pure Colleen, but there’s technology everywhere. Mapping a trail, taking pictures (lots of them), medical technology, Dr. Google, listening to podcasts, and YouTube tutorials for learning her new skills. Way to go, Colleen.

The post even includes a shoutout to her union for taking care of things for her.


Parlons Minecraft BIT2019

Jennifer Aston delivers an interesting post about a session that she and her daughter delivered at the recent Bring IT, Together Conference about how Minecraft has found its way into her French classroom.

Her slidedeck, which she freely shares is here: http://bit.ly/parlonsminecraft

Unlike many of the sessions that I attended where the slides were filled with text and drawings, etc., so that the speaker becomes redundant, Jennifer recognizes that she’s very visual in presentation and that the slides, by themselves, doesn’t really tell you what’s happening.

So, she clumps her slides together with speaking notes so that we can follow and understand the message.

Nicely done and it’s great to know that the practice of ensuring that presentations in both Ontario’s official languages are still offered.


Detentions

Matthew Morris doesn’t give detentions. That’s interesting. Maybe he doesn’t need to? Or maybe he’s got another way of handling the things that detentions would claim to solve?

What I found interesting was his note that he’s asked by students “do you give detentions?”. Even that question speaks volumes that the students are coming from a school culture that includes them.

I can’t recall giving them out. In fact, we were specifically told not to since most of our students were bused to school and after school detaining would open a can of worms. I remember noting that there were still lots of after school sports, clubs, and activities. But, as a new teacher, I wanted to follow the rules.

This ran through my mind after reading Matthew’s post

beatings will continue until morale improves

If the goal of detentions is to improve things, maybe there’s a better way to reach that goal.


Secret Truths of Empathy While Learning to Advocate

Hmmm. Thanks to this post from Ruthie Sloan, the secrets are now revealed!

The big takeaway, if you need it is that

empathy is not sympathy

It certainly isn’t accumulating the number of check boxes on a student IEP either.

What might happen if we began our meetings and our journey with deep and genuine curiosity (beyond check boxes on IEPs but about the ‘whole-child’ and those who are also learning how to support)? How might this affect our capacity to cultivate empathy? What might it do to our filters and translations?

If we truly believe in working with the “whole-child”, then a more global approach is essential. Ruthie uses the term “moral imperative”.

I can’t help but think that the suggested approach would be deemed to be too inefficient and not cost worthy in the eye of the bean counters. Plus, with cutbacks in support…

I think you can fill in the details.


Community Archives and Identity

This is actually a very short message informing us about a presentation that Krista McCracken is delivering to an Algoma sociology class.

Slides are available here.

Unlike Jennifer’s approach of not including speaker notes, Krista does have speaking notes to go along with each slide.

Of course, looking through a slidedeck isn’t the same as being there but this was intriguingly interesting and I used a search engine to find out more about the Archives talked about in the slideshow.


Please take the time to click through and enjoy the original blog posts. As always, there’s some great sharing going on.

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

  • @dr_weston_Phd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @ColleenKR
  • @mme_aston
  • @callmemrmorris
  • @Roosloan
  • @kristamccracken

This post appeared at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Yesterday doing the voicEd Radio show was fun. Ramona Meharg joined Stephen and me live to do the show. She shared a number of things that I think Stephen and I would have overlooked. It was great.

Great, as well, was all the new equipment that Stephen had. Instead of my clip on headset with condenser mic, we had real radio quality stuff. So new and fresh, that he and Derek Rhodenizer were unpacking them for the first time. Everything worked out well. As always, it was a fun show and we chatted about these blog posts from great Ontario Edubloggers.


Cyber Dissonance: The Struggle for Access, Privacy & Control in our Networked World

From Tim King, a not-so-quick-and-easy post to read. He unloads his thoughts about everything dealing with this topic.

I have a theory about why it’s an increasing issue important to teachers and students and others in education.

Unless you’re teaching this stuff and staying up to date like Tim does (he takes courses), you don’t worry about it. Why? Because there’s nothing you can do about it.

Networks and computers in schools tend to be locked down and managed by others so you couldn’t make healthy decisions about setup even if you had the inclination. This leads to a mindset that carries on to home and personal setups. Think about it!

I wanted to attend Tim’s workshop but it was on at the same time as the voicEd broadcast. I found it telling that Tim had a packed house but when he asked how many were teachers, there were none. They were all IT professionals.


A Journey with Sketchnotes

I felt like Tina Zita wrote this post with me in mind. It’s all about the power of the Sketchnote and she goes kind of deep into the concept. The big message, as all Sketchnote posts seem to be, is that anyone can do it.

I’ve tried; I’ve failed.

Miserably.

Ramona chimed in with an interesting observation when I asked her if you should Sketchnote along with the topic being presented or should you wait until later and draw something from your notes.

She felt that people were in the former camp. I think that puts me even further behind because my attention is focused on the message and I don’t handle distractions real well.

I have great admiration for people that are indeed able to pull it off. If you’re interested, Tina summarises her plan that she had to indoctrinate others.


Walking in a New Way – the Ottawa Indigenous Walk

This is a very powerful and insightful post from Paul McGuire. He’s pulling all the stops out on opportunities for his teacher-candidate class.

In this case, he took them on a walking tour of Ottawa. What a rich setting for Canadiana and Canadian history. He’s done it many times.

But, this time, he had a indigenous community member lead the walk. What a concept.

We can all walk and look at and read the plaques but having someone who knows the story behind the story would be priceless.

Is such an opportunity available in your community?

Why not reach out and see if it is?


Autumn Math Walk

Autumn is such a beautiful season. Everything is in the process of change. Things that were great in the summer and preparing for winter. Things to come in winter are just around the corner.

What better way to inspire inquiring with students than going outside and checking things out.

That’s what Deanna McLennan did with her young students.

Young kids learning about the Fibonacci sequence?

Why not! It occurs in nature. Somehow, I feel cheated. I didn’t learn the concept until much later in my educational career. Wouldn’t it have been nice to understand that there was this thing in nature – as opposed to the here’s something else about mathematics that you need to know approach that I and so many others have traditionally done.

Of course, there’s more than that. Living in Essex County, we have this wonderful opportunity to see the Monarch butterfly migration. See everything that her students explored in this post.


How To Self Engineer A Learning Community?

For the population who think that kids just show up at school, sit in rows, absorb content and then graduate, they need to read the thoughts from Rola Ribshirani.

Written back in August, she shares with us feedback from last year’s students. Of course, everyone could do this. But you they? Do you?

It seems to me that this is a terrific opportunity if you truly believe that you’re growing as an educator and that you want to understand those faces in front of you. It’s also worth noting that what they see and feel may not be 100% accurate when held to the actual standard. More importantly, it’s IS true in their mind. When the two don’t meld, I would suggest the second concept is more important.

Rola also takes a bit of space to talk about bias. That’s an area that we can all appreciate and learn from.


30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26 – The Perfection in Imperfection

As a Clinton boy, I took a little pain from reading about Heidi Solway’s trip to Goderich with her husband. Goderich? Really?

You have to smile at the little things that were supposed to happen but didn’t on this getaway. It happens to all of us.

But what a nice description of a getaway to celebrate 25 years. I loved the list of the things that they did not do. And, of course, they did…

  • enjoying conversation over dinner at a quaint and quiet pub
  • hiking along a decommissioned railway under a canopy of trees
  • studying the activity at the salt mine as a barge made entry, then exit the next day
  • driving along the beach at night listening to the power of the waves, feeling immense presence in the moment
  • sleeping in perfect silence with no thought of waking to the wonderful racket of kiddos
  • browsing through books in the most perfect independent book store which seemed planted there awaiting my arrival
  • reminiscing, even just a little, over crazy and comical things from the past

I’ll be honest; when we return to Huron County, we do go to Goderich. It really is a delightful and beautiful place to visit.

And Heidi and Paul – congratulations on 25 years.


Hit By A Car

This post closes on a rather sad note from Diana Maliszewski.

Her husband and son were struck by a car in a crosswalk. She even reconstructs the accident scene for us.

Diana does go into great detail and I would encourage you to read this post to get the complete story.

For all of us, pedestrians or drivers, there’s a powerful message about paying attention and being alert at all times. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense that nothing will happen – until it does.

I’m sure that there will be more details from Diana in the future but if I could make one plea – put down that damn phone and pay attention.


Please take the time to click through and read these terrific blog posts. As always, there’s great learning to be had.

And, make sure that you’re following on Twitter…

  • @tk1ng
  • @tina_zita
  • @mcguirp
  • @McLennan1977
  • @rolat
  • @HSolway
  • @MzMollyTL

This post originated on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And just like that it’s November. With the first Friday, it’s time again to share some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.

There’s a little more reading than normal with the post. There are a couple of bloggers who contributed their thoughts in two posts rather than one.

Why not use this as a chance for two coffees this morning?


Esports with Primary Students – Part 1: Jumping In
Esports in Primary – Part 2: Next Steps

From Rolland Chidiac, a couple of posts describing how he’s using sports software in his classroom. There’s a great deal of gaming and application of the concept throughout these posts.

In the first post, Rolland describes how he used a piece of software in his class with a bent towards going beyond the game and making a connection to Mathematics. All games have some way to keep score of your progress in the game. That’s what they’re all about. How else would you know if you won or not otherwise? In this case, Rolland’s students capture their scores and create their own collection of data to analyse. It reminds me of the time clocks kept during Formula 1 auto races. Then, based on this data, students predict how they could make their scores better.

In the second post, Rolland gets a little bit constructive with an unused Xbox from at home that arrives at school. The Xbox is an amazing device; I recall once at a Microsoft event where some students from Seattle had created a Fish Market simulation.

Rolland’s post, in this case, gets a bit technical about how he actually sets things up in his classroom. He provides an interesting list of the expectations that he has in mind.

I wonder if there might be a third post where the focus turns to students writing their own games.


Making Kindergarten Media Projects with Meaning

From Diana Maliszewski that actually could become a three parter by itself. It’s a collection of stories about kindergarten use of media due to Diana’s guidance.

One might expect that the whole focus could be on electronic technology but that’s not the point. Diana analyzes the interest of the three classes and shares activities involving…

  • making stuffed dinosaurs
  • skinny pigs and connection to literature
  • creating a Mystery Box video

Above and beyond the activities, it’s clear that Diana honours student voice in these activities.

And it sounds like a great deal of fun.


Indigenous Institute Blends Tradition & Tech to Preserve Anishinaabe Teachings

I think that you’ll really enjoy and be impressed with the project described in this post. Fair Chance Learning partnered with Seven Generations Education Institute to create virtual reality content to help preserve community traditions. Personally, I spent a great deal of time doing some background about the Seven Generations Education Institute so that I could truly appreciate what was happening.

The context is the Fall Festival which traditionally celebrates how the Anishinaabe prepare for the winter. The post talks about:

Like years before, local elders, volunteers and SGEI staff demonstrate wild rice preparations, tell traditional stories, sing at the Grandfather drum and cook bannock on a stick. Unlike in years passed, Fall Harvest 2019 incorporated virtual reality to help preserve these vital cultural teachings and enrich the education of our students.

I’m intrigued and will try to follow the results from this initiative. Hopefully, Fair Chance Learning will document it all on their website so that other communities can enjoy the benefits and do something on their own in other locations.

If you’re going to the Bring IT, Together Conference, there might be an opportunity to see this first hand?


Irene learns about teaching: Part 1a
Irene learns about teaching – Part 1b

So, here the other two-parter from Irene Stewart and her work at St. Clair College.

In the first post, she talks about those favourite teachers and how they become a model for you. It was quite an easy process for me and two teachers most certainly sprang to mind. I have no question about how they were models for me as I became a teacher. I felt badly though because what I remember most is their lecturing approach. I like to think that my classrooms were more of an activity based environment. I do struggle to think of activities from these teachers. I know that they were there but they’re not what first springs to life.

The second post describes a pilot and then ultimately an implementation of a course, THRIVES, that delivers on the awareness of the college environment and what it will take for students to be successful. The numbers she describes blew me away. 1 000 students in a pilot. Then nine sections with a total of 6 000 students.

There is an interesting reflection about activity in the course and the quizzes involved in the timeline throughout. It’s a nice reflection and I’m sure helped move her thinking as she went from pilot to implementation.


P is for Patience

I check in with Lynn Thomas periodically as she works her way through the alphabet and shares her insights on the work she chose. In this case, the word is “Patience”.

Is it a requirement to be a teacher?

I’d go further than that … it may, in fact, it may well be the best attribute that any person who aspires to be a teacher should have. After all, as teachers, we absolutely know the content. The students, not so much, or not at all. Success comes as a result of the transfer or attitude, knowledge, and skills.

Every students proceeds at his/her own speed. There is no one speed fits all. The best teachers recognize this and exercise patience to make everyone successful.

Education, as we know it, can be counter to this at times. We have defined times for courses and grades and an assessment has to be given whether you’re ready or not.

As I noted last week, I’m not necessarily a fan of PD at staff meetings because it isn’t always applicable to all. This concept, however, would definitely be worthwhile doing.

I’ll bet this post gives you some inspiration for thought – both as teacher and as student.


Math Links for Week Ending Oct. 25th, 2019

If you are in need of a weekly shot of inspiration for Mathematics, then David Petro’s blog is the place to head.

This week, look for ideas about:

  • Desmos, turtles, and graphing
  • Autograph graphing software
  • GPS
  • Polar co-ordinates and patterns
  • Tetraflexagons
  • MakeMathMoments podcast
  • Tessellations

Even if you don’t use the ideas right away, there’s just the beauty of Mathematics to enjoy.


Dreaming is Free

Terry Greene uses a Blondie song to set the stage for a professional learning session.

I would have gone with Supertramp.

Terry got the chance to run a keynote address to staff. My guess is that this doesn’t happen all the time so he decided to make the most of it. (His slides are available here)

In the course of his talk, he addresses:

  • Learning Technology Bank
  • Digital Learning Allies
  • Ontario Extend 2020
  • Ontario Extend but for Students
  • Alternative Assessment Bank
  • Open Badging
  • Collaborative Word Spaces
  • Lecture Capture
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Design Sprints
  • The Teaching Hub
  • The Open Patchbooks
  • Lecturcizing
  • Always Open Digital Meeting Room

I’m tired just assembling that list! Of course, I wasn’t there but I can’t help but believe that any one of those topics would be keynote material.

I’m still pondering Lecturcizing.


I hope that you can find the time to enjoy all this fabulous content by clicking through and enjoying the original post.

Your last to-do for this morning is to make sure you’re following these accounts on Twitter.

  • @rchids
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @FCLEdu
  • @IrenequStewart
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @davidpetro314
  • @greeneterry

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

An Interview with Andrew Dobbie


Andrew Dobbie is a teacher with the Peel District School Board.  To get his attention, all that you have to do is express an interest in sustainable activities or reusing computers for the benefit of students.  I had the opportunity to interview Andrew.

Doug:  Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Andrew.  My first question is always the same; do you recall the first time that we met in person?

Andrew: Thanks for inviting me to chat Doug! My memory is fading in old age🤣 but I believe we first met when BIT was held in Toronto before the shift to Niagara Falls.

Doug:  We’ve been following each other on Twitter for a long time.  Why would you want to follow me?

Andrew:  I thought it was pretty obvious why people follow you, Doug.  You help me sift through current media and provide me with useful, sometimes actionable resources each week🙌

Doug:  Your passion for sustainable things is very evident to anyone who follows you on social media.  Can you give us a sense of where your passion is with this?

Andrew: The root of my passion for sustainability is in providing learners with a quality education through equitable access to computers in their classrooms.  My students needed help, so I researched a way to help them. Then, my students and I agreed that we should help everyone else.

Granted, the supportive team working with us exists throughout North America, Europe (in its infancy) and Iceland. We all work together to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Doug:  My interest in following you comes from the conversations and interactions that we’ve had online dealing with Linux.  You use it to breathe new life into old technology, often discarded. My interest was personal. I just wanted an alternative to Windows 10 for my 2010 Sony Vaio laptop. 

Do you use Linux personally?

Andrew: Yes! I use Linux every day with my students. I am also well versed in Win10 and MacOS too🤣  I need to be comfortable with all operating systems because some of my students bring in their own devices and I need to be able to assist them with daily operational challenges/troubleshooting.  I also dabble a bit with Android OS too just for fun. More along the lines of experimenting with converting different computing devices into hybrids running other operating systems. I’ve built some ChrMacbooks, converted old Windows computers into Linux devices, and even built one of the largest Android boxes using a massive desktop computer (as a joke- and it continues to be in operation today🤣).

Doug:  Now, when a person dips their toe into the world of Linux, it can be a bit frightening.  Long time Linux users go back to working the command line. apt-get, sudo, etc. Did you start that far back?

Andrew: I remember when I first tried terminal coding. I had no idea what I was doing. I have no formal training at all. Just YouTube, blogs, and Google Hangout guidance from a Linux expert, Aaron Prisk👍  

Aaron continues to be a very patient and supportive teacher. He listens to my coding frustrations and helps me to find parallel understanding between our common language and that of terminal coding. I started to learn the verbs of the language and it helped me learn how to install, move, package, and assembly Aaron’s student-tailored Xubuntu OS.  I still haven’t met Aaron in person. All our work has been completed remotely via Hangouts, Facebook IM, and now mainly via text message. So, yes. I use raw code in the terminal when constructing Linux FOG Servers and student-tailored Linux workstations.

Doug:  Linux comes in many flavours.  My first distribution was Ubuntu 4.04 and then the Edubuntu fork.  What was your first?

Andrew: Oh wow! You’ve been at it a little longer than me. I started with Cub Linux and Lubuntu initially because they were packed so small and could fit on a 2GB USB for installations.  Then, as I started dabbling with install on many different systems, I worked all the way back through history to Ubuntu 10, BSD, Linux plop, and all flavours after Ubuntu 10. Over the past 3 years, I have used and installed dozens of flavours to learn more about their unique strengths and differences but followed Aaron’s lead in using Xubuntu 16.04 for the first version of the student-tailored workstations.

Doug:  Since that time, I’ve changed my allegiance and now run Linux Mint.  What’s your favourite distribution?

Andrew: My friend Ryan, who is a data analyst and Linux junky, loves Mint too but my favourite continues to be Xubuntu because it provides me with all the necessary packaging tools to create the Linux student workstations.

Doug:  You talk about using Xubuntu.  Why this distribution?

Andrew:  Aaron Prisk introduced me to Xubuntu (a developer version of Linux) because he was already using it to create his own districts’ student image for all of their computers in Pennsylvania.  Lucky for me he was working through the process when I showed interest in learning it, and he took me under his wing (so to speak).

Doug:  It’s golden when you find someone with that amount of interest and patience. If someone else was interested in getting started in this area, how do they get started?

Andrew:  If anyone wants to learn how to install any Linux operating system, then I would suggest beginning with the USB installation technique.  We created a gForm to walk new learners through the process:

bit.ly/reimagewithlinux

It’s a little dated but it will help guide a new learner through the process.

Doug:  I like the way that you’ve used the Google Form as a tutorial for the end user. Well done.

You’ve forged a number of partnerships over the year, especially with Renewed Computer Technology of Ontario (RCTO).  How does that work?

Andrew: rcto.ca is an outstanding not-for-profit business who provide learning facilities with free desktop computers.  Initially, I needed computers in my classroom because our school didn’t have the budget for them and I couldn’t afford to buy them. RCT Ontario helped us.  We were lucky because they had tons of available computers back in 2016 when we first asked. They also had lots of LCD displays, which are a hot commodity and not easily available currently.

Essentially, if any learning facility needs free desktop computers, then they need to go to rcto.ca and request them. You will need to fill in a few online forms but be sure to request the free computers. They do offer some very affordable paid computer options as well (including a 1 year warranty), so they are a much better idea than buying new.  The first batch of 150 desktops we received for free in 2016 is STILL in service, supporting student learning needs in our classrooms!

RCT will also be happy to answer your questions by telephone too, so if you need help just call them.

In September, I was asked to assist their IT department in establishing a Linux line of free computers, so I created a Xubuntu 16.04 FOG Server clone, and a Xubuntu 18.04 FOG Server clone. Both of which can deploy the student-tailored Xubuntu operating system on any computer 10 years old or newer.

Doug:  One of the stumbling blocks that some might have with school districts is putting non-district computers on the network.  How have you handled that?

Andrew: All school boards have always been open to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, so we explored and found success with multiple school boards by signing Linux computers onto board networks as BYOD devices. I was invited to York Catholic and Toronto Catholic boards to show their IT department heads how this process can work, and at that time (in 2017-2018 I believe) I created FOG Server clones for them to more efficiently deploy the student-tailored Xubuntu operating system onto their computers. 

I think it’s important to note that all of this is free, and always will be.

Doug:  That’s always been the claim for Linux and there are so many talented people driving that ship. We could always remind them that the Chromebooks that people buy new are running ChromeOS which is based on the Linux kernel!

How do you address concerns from teachers that running Linux doesn’t given them all of the applications that they would have on a Macintosh or Windows computer?

Andrew: Most teachers and students are running cloud-based programs these days anyway.  My students never have a problem using Linux to run any gSuite, Office365, or any other web-based tools like Scratch, Robocompass, Explorelearning.com, you name it.  They all work!

Some teachers have asked for special photo editing tools, so I showed them how pixlr.com runs perfectly through Google Chrome, and is easy for students to use.

Essentially, if an educator is resourceful enough, then he/she will find a comparable and free software tool that will run on their Linux systems. Yes, Minecraft too👍

Doug:  Your plan also involves your students.  How much training do they require before they are experts?

Andrew:  Experts? Hmmm. I’m not an expert and they would say they aren’t either, I think.  However, after having about a month or 2 of troubleshooting exposure and experience within our Tech Stewardship program, our Stewards are able to repurpose old computers easily.  In fact, 3 of our newest Stewards just repurposed a teacher’s old laptop this past week and they just started in the program in September.

Granted, our Xubuntu FOG Server does make the repurposing process extremely easy to transform multiple computers into Linux machines with only a few key strokes.  

Doug:  What is the minimum requirement for a computer to be refurbished for your purposes?  Do you limit it to old Windows computers or have you put Linux on Macintosh computers?

Andrew:  Current minimum requirements for excellent performance running our Linux image would be 4GB RAM and about a 2.4GHz processor (not that much really). It will run fine with only 2GB of RAM as well but 4GB RAM and learners WANT to use Linux instead of brand new computers because they are faster.

Also, I recommend installing our Xubuntu student-tailored operating system on computers 10 years old or newer.  Older than 10 years and we usually run into compatibility issues with hardware drivers and hardware begins to fail at times.

At this point in time, we have FOG Servers that can deploy Linux onto Windows computers easily.  Regarding Macs, students love ChroMacbooks the most, and I used to hand code each one because the FOG server wasn’t designed for Macs😓. Each student-tailored ChroMacbook took about 2 hours to code about a year ago.  Now, I simply open up the Mac. Remove the hard drive. Put the Mac hard drive into a windows computer. Change the hard drive to Linux using the FOG Server, then put it back into the Mac👍 Only takes about 15 minutes depending on the build.

Doug:  You will be doing a session at the upcoming Bring IT, Together Conference.  Can you give us a sneak peek?

Andrew: A sneak peek😕 

(FREE COMPUTERS!)  

On Wednesday morning, I will be bringing some of my special FOG Servers to make FOG Server clones for anyone that wants one.  You just need to bring an old laptop (that turns on🤣) with you, and stop by. I will even show you how easy it is to use it. You can use it on site to repurpose any other laptops you bring with you🙌

When I’m not teaching the process, I can repurpose up to 50 computers an hour by myself. So, if you just want some help repurposing your laptops for student use in your classrooms, then bring them by on Wednesday morning.

I will also be sharing some of our work highlights at IgniteBit2019 on Wednesday evening, so feel free to connect with me there too👍

If you can’t attend the Wednesday session, then my students will be joining me on Friday morning to help attendees repurpose their computers with Linux too. So, we can build you a FOG server or student-tailored Linux laptop at that time as well.

Finally, I believe I will be bringing lots of free mini desktop computer towers for attendees to take back to their classrooms for their students to use.  These mini desktop towers have been donated by rcto.ca and will include the tower, keyboard, mouse, and power cords (but unfortunately not LCD monitors due to short supply at the warehouse).

Doug:  Wow. Come to Bring IT, Together and leave with a free computer. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Andrew.  If people want to follow you on Social Media, where would they turn?

Some great ways to start connecting: