This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This was kind of a meme week in Ontario.  Scott McLeod started the ball rolling with his post “We have to stop pretending“, a good read in itself.  If you’re not already reading his work, you should for a while.  It’s often not a comfortable read but his perspectives just might make you challenge what you think you know and that’s always a good thing.

Ontario Educators were up to the challenge, listing their own five, and tagging others to extend the conversation.  I was tagged by Brandon Grasley and that was the inspiration for my post “Stop pretending … #MakeSchoolDifferent“.  That was my launchpad to find out what other Ontario Educators were thinking about.

Kudos to Scott, not only for starting this, but he appears to be visiting every blog and commenting.

Obviously, the conversation didn’t stop with Ontario Educators.  There’s a Google Document where the points from all the blog posts has been accumulated.  135 people have written as I write this post.  Wow.

There’s no expiry date on the challenge so if you haven’t shared your thoughts or have been tagged and haven’t found the time yet or you just need the impetus to start your own blog, go for it.

More #sylvianotes

If you’re one of the three people on the internet that didn’t see Sylvia Duckworth’s recent work and retweeted or favourited them so that I got notified, she released a couple of new ones that really seemed to resonate with folks.

Two more gems for her collection.  She keeps them all in this stream on Flickr.

Sides of the Mountain

If you need one thing for a nice start to your day, then you need to visit Paul Cornie’ blog for that shot of inspiration.

He’ll give you one thought and a question to kick your brain into motion.

This appeared on Monday and is so true.  It made me reflect on a few people who, I’m sure in their minds, have reached the top.  It’s so sad to see that they’ve stopped climbing.

I wish everyone a good climb for today.

Please take a moment to visit and celebrate all of this Ontario goodness this morning.  You’ll be thinking at such a fantastic level.

The entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers can be found here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s always fun to write this post.  There are such great things coming from the keyboards of Ontario Educators.  Some of the noteworthy posts I read this past while appear below.

The Joy of Learning?

You know, if you could determine the answer to the question “What motivates students?”, you could bottle it and sell it to every school in the world.  They’d all be glad to pay for it.

Erin Little reflects on the topic and shares some of her thoughts.  They’re good thoughts, but in the back of my mind, I keep seeing the spectre of accountability and perceived accountability that just permeates everything in education.  How do you balance that and motivation?  Does one have to suffer for the other?

Looking Back

A good look backward really helps focussing and looking forward.  Sue Dunlop did so in response to Vicky Loras’ “What’s Your Story” challenge.

The post documents a pretty rich career in education.

This is a good reflection and probably one that everyone should do every now and again.  I think it helps put what is done daily in your personal and professional life in perspective.  Vicky has a great premise and I’m happy to see that others are taking the challenge.  Are you up to it?  You can flip through the stories here.

I still can’t get over eight moves in eight years, Sue.  It reminds me of university…

GAFE and iPad app-smashing video project
App smashing is always a fun event at conferences.  In this post, Sylvia Duckworth shows how her Grade 5 students are smashing apps with Google Applications for a Quebec project.

She includes complete instructions for students (and parents) to help make things a success.

I’m so impressed with the work that schools and districts that have adopted GAFE as a platform.  They’re not hesitant about sharing great ideas and are open and visible about it.  It’s more than just working with a word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation package.

I’m sure that there will be a #sylvianote fall out of this project somewhere along the line.

makeschooldifferent: My Five Things We Need To Stop Pretending

Donna Fry was inspired by Scott McLeod to think about things that we need to stop pretending in schools.  She listed her five:

  • That we know what school is for;
  • That it’s okay to determine access to future learning based on a two digit number assigned by a secondary school teacher to a graduating student.;
  • That it’s okay for any student to be stuck and not learning.;
  • … you’ll have to visit her blog to see the rest of her musings …

Her post inspired Aviva Dunsiger to list hers here “MakeSchoolDifferent: What We Need To Stop Pretending

She thought:

  • That we’re all on the same page;
  • That we’re all making changes;
  • That kids are kids;
  • … of course, you’ll have to visit her blog for the rest …

And, Tina Zita got in on the action “makeschooldifferent: My Five (or close to it)

To date, she has less than five but they’re high quality thinking:

  • That technology is an option;
  • That we don’t have enough access.
  • … you know what you have to do …

I’m sure that they all would appreciate you dropping by and adding a comment of your own.

Session Preparation for OTRK12

As you read this, the On The Rise Conference is on and Brandon Grasley is presenting.  He’s going to talk about How To Be an EdTech Leader.  I can think of many who think they are already who definitely need to attend his session.  In a blog post, he shares his planning.

I wonder if it will go as planned?  My sessions never do; I’m easily side tracked.  I hope to follow the hashtag #otrk12 and find great educators and their ideas as they are motivated to make significant changes to their own practice.

Ever Tried an Edcamp? #edcampham
You know, you never hear of people write enthusiastically after a full day of “sit n git” Professional Development.  Maybe it’s the type of people that I hang around with online, or it’s just the premise of an edCamp, but these are always exciting posts to read.

There was an interesting addition to the day as Beth Hulan noted in this post.  A secondary school student asked and attended.  Maybe the attendance of more students would add more power to an already powerful format?  Let’s face it; we talk about student voice a great deal but how much does an individual voice get in a class of 24?

Sitting around the discussion table discussing the issues with their teachers could be the ultimate outlet.

The complete agenda for the day is located here.  Google documents were used to organize the day and notes were kept in separate Google documents.  Ever notice that nobody ever uses Office 365 for these things?  There even was a session comparing the two platforms but the record wasn’t terribly complete.

Thanks to those above who shared their insights.  It made for another week of fascinating reading.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Learning and Sharing never seems to stop with Ontario Educators.  In case you missed them, here are some of the posts that caught my attention this past week.

Useful Twitter Resources for Educators

It’s hard to think that there are people who still haven’t seen the value of being connected to other educators via Twitter.  Sometimes, it just takes a good starting point.  The Cube for Teachers blog puts together a pretty comprehensive list for the beginner or those who wish to extend their abilities.

There’s also a selection of educator accounts offered as samples at the bottom of the post.

This post is a great share in your school conference and just might inspire more of your colleagues to join Cube for Teachers for the resources and the networking.

Google Chrome Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve sipped from the extensions/addon functionality well supporting your favourite browser, you’ll never stop.  A great browser goes over the top when you extend its abilities with the right tool.  Nicole Beuckelare shares some of her favourites in this post.

She also attended the Ontario Google Summit and shares her observations from that event here.  I like her analogy of a “gatherer”.  I feel like a hoarder at times…

My EdTech Team GAFE Summit Ah Ha Moment!

The neat thing that happens when you get a bunch of motivated to learn people together in one space is the massive learning and sharing.  It can be humbling when you think that you’ve “got it” only to realize that there’s so much to learn.  describes it like this…

I think the race analogy is so appropriate.  I have the same feeling and also the suspicion that the people holding the ribbon are running away from me way faster than I’m running towards them.  Never stop learning.

Microsoft EDU Summit 2015

The Google Summit wasn’t the only summit in the province last weekend.  Andre Quaglia had the only post that I could find about the Microsoft event.  Andre presented at the summit and shares his resources through this post.

The two hashtags from the weekend of learning were:  #ongafesummit and #msftedusummit.

They should have had a Hangout or Lync smackdown to close their events.

My Marvelous Mentee

Diana Maliszewski was involved in an AQ course on mentoring.  It sounds interesting and I’m going to do some more digging to find out just what the course entails.  At the very end, though, she posted some thoughts about one of the professionals that she worked with.

I like the list of attributes identified and attributed to Salma.  These are qualities that everyone should be proud to have and I hope that she wasn’t embarrassed.  She should be proud that Diana identified them.  This is the good stuff.

Could you say this about yourself?  If not, what could you do to put yourself into that position?

Amazing Things Do Happen

The best part of professional learning happens when the right people are in the right place at the right time.  Amy Bowker writes a post of just this happening at an edCamp.

Her takeaway was a renewed interest in the Google Educational certification program.  It sounds like obtaining this certification is important to her, so I wish her luck.


I had the awesome opportunity to conduct an interview with Anita Brook Kirkland this past week.  These are some of my most enjoyable posts and Anita was certainly delightful and shared so many things.  Read it here.  All of the interview that I’ve done are gathered together in the Interviews link above in case you want to dig into the archives for one.  Ditto for the “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” posts.  Such wisdom is contained in those posts.

There’s always something happening on the blogs of Ontario Educators and great thinking/sharing.  Why not jump in, read, and add your thoughts to these wonderful blogs?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This week was marred by the sad news that my first principal had passed away.  I’ve made reference to some of the happy points of my computer science teaching on this blog and much was made available by this man, Peter Mudry.  If any of us could have a fraction of the impact that he had on his educational community, we’d really be doing something.

My Not-So-Perfect Classroom

Earlier in the week, I had evaluated my computer science classroom in a blog post after reading an article about the “Perfect Classroom“.  It inspired a number of comments about classrooms from around the networked Twitter community.  Of course, Mr. Mudry was my principal at the time.  In this post, Aviva Dunsiger reflected upon the various attributes in the article and confessed to having a number of different schools in her history.  I knew of two but there are more! 

How does your classroom stack up to hers?

We are not algorithms!

I wasn’t the only person inspired by an article to create a blog post.  Heather DeWaard shares some thoughts on various points raised in this article from The Atlantic. 

In responding to some controversial concepts in an article by Michael Godsey written in The Atlantic, I can confirm that there are many roles teachers are asked to take on – sage, guide, facilitator, model, coach, designer, developer, promoter, supporter and activator to name a few.

She presents a well reasoned argument and I recommend it as a good read and, certainly, at a Faculty of Education, fodder for the discussion about just what it means to be a teacher.

After all, if the human condition was just an algorithm, then anyone could be a teacher.  You’d just need the teacher guide, some powerpoint presentations, a few standardized tests and then just proceed through the curriculum in an even paced manner.  There’s no need for individualization, personalization, revisiting difficult topics, or looking for items of motivation.

I guarantee that you’ll feel good about your professionalism after reading this post.

Fractions, baking and lowest terms: real-world math

The winner in the category “having kids eat up math” has to be this post from Heather Pennie.

The blog reads like an exciting episode of Masterchef Canada.  Give the basics and let the cooks figure out the rest.

When broken out ingredient by ingredient as done in this post, it’s amazing to see how much mathematics goes into cooking.

If you’re looking for a recipe for “Bread in a Bag”, you’ll find it in this post.

Explain Everything Math Learning Journey
Explain Everything Angle & Triangle Journey (Part 2)

There’s nothing like having to teach something in order to deeply learn the concepts.

Take it one step further than your classroom.  Try to teach everyone connected to the internet a concept.  That’s what Kyle Pearce is trying to do with Grade 9 Geometry.  Using Explain Everything, he’s created some videos with the concepts embedded.

The challenge with doing something like this is that you have to be very precise in your efforts.

And, of course, when you shift the creation to the students, deep learning happens.

Explain Everything isn’t the only game in town.  I’m partial to ScreenChomp.  Another player that I haven’t worked with yet is Explain3D.

The Problem with Deeply Held Ideas

Heidi Siwak is always good for a post that makes you extend your thinking.  I think we all think of positive experiences when we think about the concept of “Prior Learning”.

What happens when that Prior Learning is flawed?

Heidi takes on this concept in the blog post.  I wonder how many classroom problems could be solved if we truly thought about this when things don’t go exactly as planned and you just can’t “get through” to her/him.

Please take a moment and follow the link to these great blog posts.  Make them part of your moment of learning for today.  I so value the fact that these Ontario Educators continue to share their thoughts and insights.  Then, check out the list of Ontario Edubloggers here for even more.  If you’re blogging and not on the list, use the form to add yourself and you will soon be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Good Friday, leading into the long weekend.  Got time to get caught up on some blog reading?  Check out these.

The iPad & Accessibility (FI too)… No Apps Required

It wasn’t until I had a broken home button on my iPad that I started to get serious about the accessibility features with the device.  It changed the way that I do a number of different things with the device.

Blayne Primeau puts together a pretty comprehensive post of a great of things that you can do with the accessibility features built into the iPad.  It’s a pretty comprehensive list when you see them all in one spot.

4 Lessons in Sharing

One of my pet peeves about people attending conferences are the “I’m here and you’re not” messages on Social Media.  They’re essentially messages of geography and ego.  One of my appreciations for people attending conferences is the sharing of the thinking and ideas from the event.

Myria Mallette shares her thoughts about sharing from her recent conference attendance.  I think any would-be Tweeters would be well advised to take into consideration her four lessons.

I’ve always felt that, if you’re serious about sharing at conferences, that your audience gets more (which is obvious) but that you get even more from the experience with your thoughtful and relevant messages that you share.

It Makes You Wonder

I was looking through the agenda for an upcoming conference and, without a word of a lie, just about every session descriptor had the word “inquiry” in it.  I’ve actually seen the same descriptors at other conferences before.  The word “inquiry” just seemed to be inserted because it’s the “term de jour”.  I’d bet that the session would be the same as it was without the word injected!

I wonder – do people really fall for that?

Kristi Keery Bishop does some of her wondering out loud in this wonderful post.

Aviva Dunsiger bought in immediately with a reply…

Maybe if we all made our wondering visible, things would change for the better and we’d have deeper discussions and better answers.

I wonder….

#OSSLT 2015

I love this lady’s thinking.  I keep waiting for a classroom professional to write a blog post titled “Standardized Testing and Why It’s Good for Students”.  It would start with something like “I’m so excited that my students get to write this test….

I’m still waiting.

One piece of the logic in her piece got me to drop a final exam for computer science in my second year of teaching.  If it takes two weeks to write and debug a program, how can I expect them to write perfect code in two hours.

Read Jamie Weir’s post and see if you don’t find yourself nodding, point after point.

Are You Where You Want To Be?

Sue Dunlop is participating in a “blog a day” challenge.  I wish her luck and will check in periodically to see if she maintains her goal.

I wonder if her musings will pair up with some wondering?

Report Cards: Cycles of Change?

Sheila Stewart takes a bit of a reflection on report cards.  It was interesting to see her handwritten exemplars.  They were short, and certainly wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s world.  Instead, you get something like this.

“(student name) independently reads, represents, compares and orders whole numbers to 10,ooo in standard, expanded and written forms with accuracy.  He should continue to practice solving more complex problems involving the addition and subtraction of multi-digit whole numbers. (student name) is able to clearly measure angles using a protractor.  He identifies quadrilaterals and three-dimensional figures and classifies them by their geometrical properties. (student name) should continue to practice using mathematical language to describe right, obtuse and acute angles and geometric figures. (student name) can precisely describe, extend and create a variety of patterns with accuracy and complexity.  He should continue to practice creating, describing and extending a variety of repeating, growing and shrinking number patterns. (student name) is able to thoroughly collect, organize and read primary data represented in a bar graph, pictograph, circle graph and table.  He should continue to practice collecting and organizing data by conducting surveys on a variety of topics of interest to him.”


Somehow I just don’t see a kid doing a survey in the change room after hockey about pet preferences of dogs versus cats.  Don’t you just wish you could see society another 40 years from now analysing these comments?

This just in from Peter Cameron.  I was just about to schedule this post but thought this would be something everyone should see and consider.

Want some musing, wondering, serious learning?

Again, such awesome work from Ontario Educators.  Give them some congratulations, visit their blogs and then visit the big list of Bloggers here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Earlier this week, I was participating in the #csforstudents tutorial (we were flipping a coin and keeping stats) and I got a notification that someone had send me a message.  It was from Donna Fry who had posted this to Twitter.

That generated a bit of discussion

I was going to jump in and share the link to my collection of Ontario Edubloggers but only had one eye on Donna’s conversations which she had tagged #eLearnONT.  (Sorry, Donna)  As I look through the collection that came through in the conversation, I don’t think you can go wrong following any of these blogs.  Here’s what they’ve each written recently along with a link to those I’ve interviewed on this blog.

What a wonderfully diverse and rich collection of posts!  No wonder they were identified.  If you haven’t read them, they’re all worth the click to inspire your thinking and learning.

And, Donna throws together a pretty mean blog herself….

I apologize if there were any additional Twitter messages that I missed.  I was otherwise engaged at the time and went through Donna’s timeline to see if I could capture them all.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Origins as Bloggers

Even before Donna’s post, I had tagged Royan Lee’s blog post as something that I wanted to highlight here.  In this post, he shares an interview with Joanne Babalis.

The conversation digs into their thoughts about their own blogs.  I love this stuff.  It’s like a blogging version of “Inside the Actor’s Studio”.

Save the Elementary TLs in TCDSB

I have always had trouble commenting on blogs written in Blogger.  After reading Diana Maliszewski’s post, I felt compelled to comment.  It turned out to be rather longish so I made sure that I made a copy of it in case it didn’t “take”.  It didn’t; I messaged Diana who checked that it wasn’t on her system even through I had tried posting with my Google account and my WordPress account.  It’s got to be one of the extensions that I use acting badly.  Anyway, I’m reproducing it here to tack on to Diana’s wonderfully passionate original post.

This is a well crafted post and letter, Diana.  Hopefully, it will be read in the spirit that you wrote it; not wanting to erode the educational experience for students and blaming it on funding.

I had to smile at your comment that I wasn’t a teacher-librarian.  You’re absolutely correct with that.  Going through elementary school, we didn’t have a teacher-librarian at all.  The library was just a book exchange room.  We didn’t know any difference.  It was just like the public library downtown that my mother took my brother and me to weekly to get our limit of two books.

At secondary school, I did have the benefit of a librarian.  She was wonderful at pointing us in the right direction.  

The tipping point for me was as a young teacher, having just a terrific teacher-librarian.  He did a terrific job.  We were always receiving memos of new resources and he would clip articles from the newspapers and put them in our mailboxes.  He constantly stirred the pot and was integral in bringing all forms of media to the classroom.  He was like the colleague teaching the same material which is important to a Computer Science teacher, the loneliest teacher in any school.  When I would have my students in the Resource Centre for research, he truly was a partner in the classroom.  He made my class so much relevant to students.

Later, as a teacher-consultant, I got to go from school to school and did a whack of workshops that always was attended by teacher-librarians.  They were always interested in what was new and would always be pushing for understanding the latest and greatest in the realm of technology.  What so impressed me was the global perspective of their school that they brought to the conversation.  They knew who was teaching what and how they could support their colleagues.  They were always the extra mind in classrooms and, usually, the first person to be consulted over curriculum issues.  I had a computer contact from every school and many of them were teacher-librarians.  I had the honour of presenting a couple of sessions at the OLA Superconference, always in partnership with one of these marvellous people.  The ones I worked with were just such natural partners.  They take content and push it past the academic into the relevance.

Decision makers need to visit libraries/resource centres/learning commons and really understand the dynamics of that most important area of the school.  I know that it’s tough for trustees to do so but they really need to do so to understand what will go missing if they make the cuts.

The elimination of us

I’ve got to file Rusul Alrubail’s post under the category “I had no idea”.  It was a tough post for me to read.

I always had the benefit of being a member of OSSTF.  Yes, there were dues but there was collegiality, professional learning, newsletters, insights, connections, and security.  I’m sure that there will be a great deal more as this unfolds.

Social Media Basics

Do you know someone who’s interested in finding out about Social Media and all the networks that are common conversations these days?  Or, perhaps they’ve noticed that television shows now show Twitter handles or Facebook pages or Instagram accounts for more detailed comment?

Send them over to this slideshow from Joan Vinall Cox.

She’s got you covered!

As I wrap up this post, I just marvel at the insights that are shared by Ontario Educators all the time.

Please take the time to read the excellent commentaries.  And, why not share the links with your connections so that others can enjoy as well?!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday the 13th and last Friday before the Spring Break.  It’s been another week of incredible reading from some of the Ontario Educators’ blogging that I enjoyed.  I hope that you’ll find these motivating.

Keep Focused

My morning inspiration is always a look at Paul Cornies’ blog.  I don’t know how he does it but he’s always able to find something relevant to kick-start the brain.  Have you considered starting your class thinking about some of the wisdom he shares?

Paul’s morning blog is like the perfect Christmas present.  You don’t know what to expect but you can’t wait until morning to upwrap it.

TVO on the Road: Thunder Bay

TVOntario took its The Agenda show on a road trip and ended up in Thunder Bay.  Colleen Rose drove in to town for the taping and shared her thoughts about her experience there and the projects that were the topic of the show.  (With, of course, a slant towards The Arts)  She had already had connections with the show and had previously blogged about it when her students had the opportunity to interview Roy MacGregor.

As a result of the show, she’s inspired to be involved with the projects.

Of course, she’ll be blogging about it so that we can follow along.

Good News ~ More and more eBooks are “arriving” into the Education Library

I’ve always been impressed with the social presence that the Education Library at Western.  I did have a wonderful opportunity to interview the brains behind the social, Denise Horoky a while back and follow the Twitter account and the blog from the library.  There’s always something new happening in that library as you’ll notice from this post.  It’s not just about books; a recent post is asking for input about the strategic process for libraries at the university.


If you’re a teacher-librarian and looking for a model for how you might continue to promote your library or learning commons, you can’t go wrong by following the posts here and using them as a model for your own.

And, if you believe in social media convergence, this was just posted to my Twitter timeline as I’m writing this post.

Reflections on a Successful EDTech Day for Teachers

Jennifer Todd-Casa is one of my frequent contacts on social media and she posted about an EdTech Day held last weekend for educators from the York Region Catholic District School Board.


As I read her post, I thought to myself – wow, they have everything.  Ignite sessions, breakout sessions, a Director of Education who showed up to support them on the weekend and even a CoffeeEDU modelled after the Learning Space from the Bring IT, Together Conference.  I know how many details go into that conference so couldn’t help but be impressed with the amount of work that went into this.  Shouldn’t all school districts be doing something like this?  There’s so much to learn and so little time.  Kudos to the professionals that showed up on the weekend for some professional learning.  Jennifer has volunteered her experience if you’re interested.

A Google Site was created to shared the resources from the day.

Oral Presentation Descriptive Feedback
Selection_132If there ever was a condemnation for assessment in the past, Jamie Weir has it nailed in this opening paragraph in her blog post.  It reminds me of the use of a couple of terms that I’ve heard recently – feedback and feedforward – the difference between commenting on what’s done versus commenting on the process to improve.

With this challenge, Jamie takes the rest of the post to share how she plans to address this and change the student mindset.

I think it’s a worthy challenge for teachers and students everywhere.

Classroom Makeover – Part 1

I don’t know about your place but, around here, when I lose control of the television remote, the channel quickly changes to one of those shows where homes, rooms, and/or people get madeover.  So, I’m somewhat acquainted with the process.

Maybe a new series could be created to show classroom makeovers!  If so, Heather Theijsmeijer’s classroom would be up for an episode.

Here’s the original picture of the room…

You’ll have to read the rest of Heather’s post to see what a little IKEA can do in classroom transformation.

Heather does a quick pro/con about the changes and, since this is a Part 1 post, there’s bound to be more to come.

p.s. I had those chairs, only mine were orange and black.

I Chose a Few Small Over One Large

There’s some really good advice in Eva Thompson’s post although if you follow here on Twitter, the recent pictures tell a different idea of small than what I would have!


I like the logic in what she says.  I know that some computer science classrooms assign huge massive programs/assignments to test the concepts in class.  I understand part of the logic because real life applications are seldom small.  On the other hand, not every computer science student is going to write the next workable spreadsheet application.  The bigger the assignment, the more involved it becomes, and the more opportunities for frustration with no exit point.  My preference was always a collection of problems to solve that are smaller in duration.  I always felt that many opportunities gave more chances for success and satisfaction.  And, if an assignment set had five or six programs, students could put one on the back burner and work on another.  I think we all know that the mind continues to work in the background and revisiting the frustrating problem a bit later all of a sudden can result in success.

An Interview With @MrsKonecny – My Grade 1 Students Have Become Coding Experts

Brian Aspinall posts the results of an interview with a teacher of Grade 1 students experiencing coding in the classroom.  It was great to see examples of LightBot.  The curriculum connection was in mathematics…


…and certainly LightBot shines (groan) in the application.

There was also an off-computer portion which was terrific to see.  One misconception about computer science is that it’s just a bunch of nerdy activities on computer.  Computer Science teachers know that it’s much more than that.  Off computer simulations, tracing, logic and design yield much better results than sitting at a computer wondering what to do first.

Please take the time to check out these posts and all the great efforts from Ontario Educators.  There’s always some good sharing happening.