This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Zoe Branigan-Pipe was the guest host on the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show this week. Our paths have crossed so many times in the past. Probably our biggest togetherness was hosting the Great OSLA Faceoff, repeated again for an ECOO conference, and then for a local elementary school. She was interviewed for this blog here and you can check out a picture of the Beauty and the Beast.

So, it was nice to chat again; normally, we would meet up at the annual ECOO conference but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year. For me, the big value of spending money on professional learning comes from face to face connections.

Zoe has been a long time social media leader; she’s like the poster child for making authentic connections. And, of course, she’s among the amazing group of Ontario Edubloggers.


BlackLivesMatter. No Time for Silence.

We started the show by taking a look at Zoe’s post. I was quite surprised when she mentioned that she had to tone it down upon advice from colleagues that it might not go over well with others in her district. I found this disturbing in the summer of 2020.

What remains is a post full of links to resources across the web. Teachers who are looking at addressing Black Lives Matter in their classrooms this year would find this a treasurer trove of content.

Some of it will take some modification for a particular purpose in an Ontario classroom but the gold comes from the resources developed by ETFO linked to by Zoe.


#ETFOProud

Speaking of ETFO, the Heart and Art Blog features a new blogger this week, Velvet Lacasse.

The post was essentially an introduction to Velvet post but I had a Wayne’s World moment when I read her thoughts about becoming a Union Steward in her first year of teaching. There’s no way that I could have found the time to do that.

In my first year, OSSTF was just a deduction from my paycheque until the New Teachers’ Night where I learned a little bit more about what District 34 was all about. Eventually, I did become part of the Collective Bargaining Committee but I wouldn’t have dreamed it for my first year in the profession. Her observations about attending the Annual Meeting is bang on. You get the real provincial perspective there.

Velvet brings a wealth of social activism to the blog and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.


Education Will Never Become What It Should Be Until It Is Freed From Politics

This blog post, from Tim King, is about as long and involved in content as the title of the post. TLDR; is this statement.

To further complicate things, education is run by politicians. 

That sets the stage as Tim pulls apart so much of what’s actually going on and what could be happening. Of course, this would only happen if decisions were based upon the advice of those educators that are actually in the classroom. As we’ve seen this summer, that’s so far removed from what we see about the decision making process.

As an almost daily follower of the 1:00pm Premier news conference, I keep waiting for something other than “best plan in Canada”, “we spent this much money”, “union bosses are the problem”, etc. Sadly, it doesn’t come.

Tim sees a world where education is best served by a removal from political connections. This is firmly embedded in the BNA Act and so it won’t be happening any time soon. Besides, what’s an election campaign without addressing education?

It’s still a good read and I’m sure that many educators will agree with Tim’s points so it’s comfortable that someone has taken the time to write them out. At the same time, it’s just difficult to ever see significant change being made.

Unless we create the “Teachers’ Party” and somehow get the majority of seats.


Math Games – building a foundation for mathematical reasoning

I have a fondness for mathematics and really enjoy posts like this from Mark Chubb and others in the mathematics education realm. I do check out the links to the resources that are shared.

Now, I’m old enough to remember multiplication charts and memorization. I remember doing word problems ad nauseum; I knew enough about mathematics to recognize when my teacher really knew her/his stuff and when they were struggling to get by.

When I think back, mathematics was always about gaming for me. Like any good game, there was a real sense of accomplishment when you got it right. It was almost strategic. I never did tests top down; I picked and chose those questions that I knew I’d be successful with.

While it was about gaming, I don’t recall actually playing something that might formally be defined as a game. That’s a relative new concept and today’s student has that advantage with the wise teacher picking and choosing the best of the best from so many choices.

In this post, Mark shares a number of games that are worth evaluating for your own classroom. I like the reference to using them as part of a distance learning program; may you elementary teachers not need to consider that this school year.

Yet, there’s something about a hip pocket.


Let’s Get Explicit

In a million years, I don’t think I would have made the connection between Open Educational Practices and hip hop artists on my own.

But, Terry Greene does in this post and it’s a fun read. He addresses the five essential elements of hip hop.

  • Lyricism (Rapping)
  • Turntablism (DJing)
  • Breaking
  • Graffiti
  • Knowledge of history

I immediately zeroed in on the concept of “turntablism” but I shudder when I think of using my own personal record collection…

For those in this world with Terry, there’s an element of wisdom and reality in each of these elements. The biggest message is that the same ol’, same ol’ doesn’t have to continue.

Your first inclination might be to take a pass on this post but at least give it a read and see another side of teaching.

Warning, Terry uses bad words in this post.


What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Education loves a good buzzword. Recently, I ran across this

15 Words Teachers Officially Never Want to Hear Again

If you check it out, you’ll find a collection of words that you’ve probably heard from a keynote speaker somewhere. They have this ability at times to use words and make it part of their presentations and you feel badly that you didn’t know that.

Then, there are some words where you need to sit up and pay attention to. Deborah Weston takes on new terminology that we’re going to see in Ontario Curriculum as it’s revised, starting with the new Mathematics Curriculum, addressing mental health.

Deborah digs into the roots of this and shares her thoughts. A note that should make you sit up and notice

SEL is now also a distinct section of the updated curriculum

She does a nice job of stepping through the curriculum pointing out where it occurs in the elementary school curriculum, by grade. The question whether or not it’s a learning skill or will have to be reported on separately is addressed from her perspective and offers come questions for the future.


Footage of the Falls: Back Then and Now

You know, if I lived in Northern Ontario, I’d visit visit Kakabeka Falls regularly. As a family, we’ve been there a few times – once going to the Calgary Stampede, a couple of times on the way to relatives in Minneapolis, and a couple of times just as a married couple looking for an interesting place to camp. I can agree that there are all kinds of things out and about at night!

As Sheila Stewart notes, it never gets old. Our context these days from Southern Ontario is visits to Point Pelee, Erieau, and the “Niagara of the South”.

What a find it must have been to have discovered some footage from the 1950s and, in the spirit of good sharing, doing some editing and putting it on YouTube.

Much more commonly are modern videos of Kakabeka Falls.


Thanks to these terrific bloggers for continuing to share their thoughts and ideas in their blogs so that we can all share in the learning.

Make sure that you’re following them all on Twitter.

  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Velvet Lacasse – @velvet_lacasse
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Can you believe that it’s August already? I could swear that I saw my breath while walking the dog this morning. That’s not right either.

I’m also trying out a new resolution that I used to expouse all the time but don’t do it enough myself until I fell into the trap last week – save early, save often.

What is right are the great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on…


Final Thoughts

I just found out about this blog from Shyama Sunder. It’s a wrap up summary and reflection of her time in EDU 498, a course taken a while ago at a Faculty of Education. Unless I missed it, the actual name of the Faculty didn’t appear anywhere but that’s OK.

The content is a summary of four modules taken. There is a nice summary of each of the modules and the enthusiasm she has comes through loudly and clearly.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a fan of the SAMR model but it was included as content. If it had any value, I would see if as helpful for experienced teachers trying to embrace technology. I don’t see the wisdom of talking about it to teachers learning how to teach. Why not just teach how to do it properly to begin with? What value is there in demonstrating less than exemplary lessons?

In the post, Shyama makes reference to a book that everyone needs to read “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job” by Yong Zhao, Goaming Zhang, Jing Lei, and Wei Qiu. That’s a book that should be in every school library and would make for an awesome and progressive book talk.

This blog is referenced on her Twitter profile and there’s no forwarding address. It would be interesting to see her pick up blogging in her professional life.


BOOKMARKS ON TWITTER

Jamey Byers wrote this post so that others wouldn’t have to!

I remember being at a conference once – I think it was in Denver – and Robert Martellacci came up to me and asked if I knew that one of the prominent speakers had liked a link from an adult film star showing a picture of herself. I hadn’t noticed; I’m not in the habit of checking out what people have saved as liked. Maybe I should?

Actually, maybe I should check what I’ve got in my likes! Phew. Other than some egotistic stuff, I think I’m good. (I’m also snooty – go back to the very first one!)

Jamey points out that there’s a new, more private feature available to us on Twitter.

With the addition of the bookmarks function in Twitter you now have the ability to not only like a tweet, but to save it to your private list of bookmarks that are strictly just for your eyes only.

I wonder how many people are using the feature. I’m certainly not. Maybe I should.


The Playful Approach to Math

Matthew Oldridge is now playing in the big leagues with this post on Edutopia. I remember when he was a guy I interviewed for this blog.

He brings his obvious love and passion for Mathematics to this new forum and I hope that people are inspired by his wisdom. Comments are not allowed so there’s no traditional way of knowing.

Truer words were never spoken than these…

The amount of play in “serious” academic topics like mathematics is inversely proportional, it seems, to the age of students, but this does not have to be the case. A playful pedagogy of mathematics can be codified and made real, rigorous, and authentic.

I’ve studied a lot of mathematics over the years and certainly those teachers/professors that I remember best love mathematics; it came across that way, and their playful approach made learning fun and worthwhile.

Can you think of a better testament to give an educator?


My device. My terms. 3 strategies for finding balance.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of those people that I’ve seldom met in real life and yet I feel like I know so much about her. She was another person I had the opportunity to interview. I also had the opportunity to help with her book Social LEADia. This should be on bookshelves everywhere.

I enjoy her writing and most of her posts come across as a personal message to me. Such in the power of her writing.

I struggle with the notion of “balance”. The current context is that it involves being connected and not doing other things – like reading a book. I’m always leary of people who make such claims. Isn’t it just exchanging one form of engagement for another? And, hasn’t social media engagement earned its way into our lives?

I like Jennifer’s reasoned approach…

Social media is here to stay and is a part of the fabric of business, politics, and education. Instead of a fast, I suggest the following strategies:

You’ll have to read her post to see if the strategies make sense to you!


When friendship lasts

without warning or explanation, they started talking and, just like that, resumed their friendship from three years ago when they were six. Hours later, after the park, the corner store, the house; after basketball and jungle gyms and ice cream; after talking and laughing and wrestling, they parted reluctantly, already asking when they could see each other again.

Here’s a quote from Amanda Potts’ recent post.

I’ll bet that you could drop that sentence into any conversation or writing that you might have and provide your own characters.

It might be:

  • meeting up at an annual conference
  • a class reunion from your old high school
  • reuniting with a staff after a summer vacation

and the list goes on. Friendship is such an tangible and yet intangible concept. This post describes a pair of friendships that easily fall into the above.

Those on Facebook will know that a friend to many will be returning to Canada after a couple of years overseas. I’ll bet we all will reunite in this fashion at the Bring IT, Together Conference.


The #UWinToolParade: Open Pedagogy as #OER

In the beginning, there were shiny things. People flocked to shiny things and made a place in the classroom whether they were good or not. I’m looking at you – Clickers.

As shiny things kept on invading classrooms, the good thinkers got us thinking that maybe we should be looking beyond these things into exactly how they are used, are they effective, are they worth the cost, etc.

We never looked back. Well, at ISTE there are still 30 tools in 30 minutes sessions. For the most part, we never looked back.

So, now comes Bonnie Stewart and

I have a new project I’m really excited about. Even if it kinda goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve said about tech in education over the past, uh, decade.

I’ve read this post at least a dozen times and there are so many out of post links that will take you to rabbit holes that didn’t know they were hosting rabbits!

The proposed results?

The fact that it’s 2019 is loud and clear with the inclusion of “data surveillance”.

This looks incredibly interesting and will use social media for good for the description and dissemination of content. Read the post and get ready to follow. And, Bonnie is looking for some pilot locations if you’re interested.


Reflections from the Tech Guy

This TWIOE post seems to have been focused on people I’ve interviewed! This time, it’s David Carruthers.

As we’ve noticed recently, David is going to be doing some magic as he returns to the classroom after having been the “Tech Guy” at the board office for a while.

He sets the standard with his bottom line.

Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.

Some words of advice here – you’ll always be known as the “Tech Guy” so wear it. There are worse things to be known for. You’ve built relationships throughout your district so don’t be surprised when you get some panic emails for help. I still get them. The most enjoyable are about report cards which have had many incarnations since I last formally supported them. The really cool thing happens when these relationships develop your learning because someone wants to share something new with you.

On a political note, things are likely to be difficult for a while as cutbacks affect districts throughout the province. I hope that school districts are wise enough to continue to put insightful “Tech Guys” in areas of support centrally. We know that anyone can click a mouse or use a keyboard these days. True progress comes when you have people like David that see the connection and the potential because they bring a strong background in teaching to such a support position.


As always, there’s a powerful collection of thoughts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers. Make sure you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @ssunderaswara
  • @mrJameyByers
  • @matthewoldridge
  • @jcasatodd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @bonstewart
  • @dcarruthersedu

This post originated on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Looking for someone I used to know


I still can’t find him or her.

But I’m looking.

I’m not really looking for anyone specific.  Just anyone I used to know.

Anyone who has ever walked through a shopping mall knows that there are so many different faces.  I recall once that Vicky Loras told me she saw my Doppelgänger in Switzerland.  I could swear that I saw Lisa Noble’s double in the Devonshire Mall in Windsor one day.

So, here’s my logic – such that it is.

I was inspired on this crusade using the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.  Created by Phillip Wang, it generates lifelike human faces from an algorithm.  You can read all about it here and by following a few links followed by a few more links to get lots of details.  Plus some interesting code to read, if you’re so inclined.

Abstract: We propose an alternative generator architecture for generative adversarial networks, borrowing from style transfer literature. The new architecture leads to an automatically learned, unsupervised separation of high-level attributes (e.g., pose and identity when trained on human faces) and stochastic variation in the generated images (e.g., freckles, hair), and it enables intuitive, scale-specific control of the synthesis. The new generator improves the state-of-the-art in terms of traditional distribution quality metrics, leads to demonstrably better interpolation properties, and also better disentangles the latent factors of variation. To quantify interpolation quality and disentanglement, we propose two new, automated methods that are applicable to any generator architecture. Finally, we introduce a new, highly varied and high-quality dataset of human faces.

Selection_015

She doesn’t exist

So, all weekend, when I felt the urge, I kept whacking CTRL-R to get a new face.  I’m here to report that I haven’t found someone I used to know yet.

I can see some interesting uses for this in the classroom.   For those higher end computer science students, the reading is interesting just to see what is possible.

In terms of basic media literacy though, it presents a concrete example as to how things can be created from nothing more than a few electronic bits (and some pretty awesome programming).  It also poses an interesting inquiry to generate a face and then very closely analyse it.  Are there clues that would let you know that it’s not a real photo?

Quickly find a Wikipedia article


I was intrigued by this Google Chrome extension.  (It also installs in Opera).

As in the “About” function, it only does one thing…

My immediate thought about a use for it is to check essay content if you suspect that a bunch of text has simply been copied and pasted from the Wikipedia.  Of course, content can certainly be legitimately used within writing provided that it’s properly referenced.

Further than that though, Qikipedia is Open Source software and so clicking on the “View Source” like directs you to the source for the project.  It’s good reading for the programmer in you.

You can find the extension on the Chrome Webstore here – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/qikipedia

But Is It Art?


I know what Cubism is.

I don’t “get it” but that’s OK.  There’s a great deal of artistic expression that goes over my head.  I’m not hating here so Picasso fans relax.

Let’s step it up digitally by reading this.

Called Kubist, you can turn your traditional images/pictures into your own Cubism originals.

It’s all done through this web application.

Upload your own image and watch the magic happen.

So, what’s the fun of dog ownership if you can’t have a little fun.  Jaimie was up for the task.

Let’s Kube him!

At 50 points, he’s pretty abstract!

But at 1000 points, he’s stylin’.

For model #2, I turned to Jaimie’s cousin.  Instead of white, he’s a beautiful mixture of boxer brown and black.  Check out the difference between 1000 points and 100 points here.

As you can see from the adjustments on the right hand side, you have some control over how things will appear.  They’re a great deal of fun to adjust and see the results immediately.

Want to talk mathematics?  Flip between triangle style to cell style and back again.  Grab a vertex and resize elements.  Based on the number of points in the image, can you create a formula that will determine the number of distinct objects?  The original article is a pretty fascinating technical read in itself.  The source code for the project is available on github if students are so inclined.

After abusing the family pet, where else could you do this?  How about a cubism representation for your school logo?  Or a further appreciation for the original artists who created the original cubism art?

Set aside a bit of time to play with this.  If you have any ideas, please be sure to share them.