This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It most certainly is autumn.  Pumpkins for sale everywhere; mums coming out in bloom; and lots of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a bunch of what I caught this week.  Enjoy.


Growing Pains

It’s the time of year to start afresh.  Even if you’ve taught the same subject or grade for a number of years, it’s always a new start and there’s that awkward first little bit that happens at the beginning of the year.  In Eva Thompson’s case, she’s taking on a new job and trying to fill the shoes of someone who had been in that position for a number of years.  That’s a “double whammy”.  But, I’m sure that her enthusiasm will make the transition complete, given a little bit of time and patience.  It doesn’t sound like there’s anything else standing in her road.

Now, if I can translate my pure enthusiasm for this job, to the people who might witness these temporary blips on the radar, I’m sure I can convince people I will be great at this job. If I see someone who loves what they do, even if they can’t solve my problem that instant, I know they will at least put the effort in to get me the answers I need. I hope others feel the same way!


Higher Education is Pushing More Professors into Poverty

This moving post, from Rusul Alrubail, may well be an eye opener for those of us who don’t work full time in higher education.  In K-12, we are so fortunate to have strong teacher federations that keep things honest.  Just like Rusul describes, there are activities that everyone does that they don’t get paid for.  There are some statistics that she quotes that I wish had some reference for follow up, like so many professors living in poverty.  It was a wakeup read for me.

No one talked about the changes. It happened behind closed doors. Teachers were hurt. We said goodbyes and shed some tears, all behind closed doors. And that hurt the most. Many full time faculty didn’t even know what was happening with their colleagues. Hence the phone call from my chair. Each contract faculty apparently got one. The college didn’t want to go on email records and let people know this was happening.


Moving

I had a bit of private discussion with Sheila Stewart who read and contacted me when I talked about blogs that have seem to have stopped publishing.  She was considering pulling the plug on her own efforts.  But, she still has a couple of posts in her!

It would be sad if she calls it a day and so I’m hoping that she doesn’t.

Her blog is one of the ones that come to mind when I think of one that has developed so much content over its lifetime.  It truly would be sad if it went away.


Not All Who Wander Are Lost – A Lesson in Leadership Paths

Who hasn’t heard this expression.  In this blog post, Tina Zita uses the quote from Tolkien to do her own thinking about leadership, particularly as it applies to education.

Education seems to have a pretty clear pathway for leadership: step 1 leads to step 2 leads to step 3, the quicker the better. Like the city walls, they become a constant reminder of a common path I haven’t chosen to take yet.

I have to totally agree with her analysis and summary.  That’s the current reality.

At the same time, I think that it speaks volumes about why we don’t get the massive changes in education from those who aspire to be leaders.  It seems to me that so much time is spent playing the game that valuable time is lost discovering just where your true talents lie.

One of the concepts that is in vogue with students is Genius Hour.  I wonder if true professional wandering wouldn’t be the equivalent for teachers and shouldn’t be perceived as the traits that would inspire an educational organization.  I think that we’ve all seen those “Google Interview Questions” that are completely out in left field to try to identify those candidates that would bring effective change and new thinking.  Why aren’t they honoured in education?


The Current on Homework

If you have a minute, check out this blog post from StepfordTO and then spend the next half hour listening to the interview made with Anna Maria Tremonti.  The focus is on homework, a topic that nobody is neutral on these days.

It’s much easier to implicitly blame kids for their own troubles and individualize the problem of stress (by offering coping mechanisms and time management guidance) than it is to acknowledge one’s complicity perpetuating a school culture of overwork that harms kids. So once again there’s an elephant in the room of the debates about teen mental health. (Spoiler: its name is homework.)

It’s too bad that there aren’t any comments to this blog post at present.  Why not leave one and share your thoughts.


Where did that teacher go? Helping students to make their own decisions

I really like this post by Kristin Phillips.  As I was reading it, a few things came to mind.

  • the problem with math, particularly on high stakes tests is that some of the questions are “tricky”.  Now, I like a good puzzle as much as the next person but should a problem that’s “tricky” be included in such a test?  Is the goal not to test the understanding of mathematics?  Why not test the mathematics abilities and leave the “tricky” to the classroom activity where time to think and analyse things is more liable to be successful.  Is the inclusion on a test an effort to keep scores down?
  • Bandwagons – we’ve seen them all (to date) and there are more to come.  Who determines which one to jump on?  Is it worthwhile to jump on the latest and most fashionable when you’re not ready to go all in with it?  Kristin sums it nicely –

We may give lip service to critical thinking and open-ended tasks.  But I urge us all to think about whether our classroom practice is really training our students to be independent thinkers, or whether we actually train them to rely on our guidance.  It’s hard to be a teacher and watch your students struggle.


Change takes time and care

The title here from Melanie White says it all.

Then, she goes deeper.  What a great concept – share with her Grade 9 students who she is, where she’s from, and why she’s a bit nervous herself.

The information is given in what appears to be a number of slides from a presentation.  It was interesting to see her history so I’m sure that the students appreciated it.

The most powerful slide – the last one, call to action, of course.


Engagement in Professional Learning

Nicole MordenCormier’s post is a reminder that effective schools is a balance of things and, this time, she takes on the concept of learning – both from the student and the teacher perspective.

A tension that has once again emerged in this process is the need to balance the urgent learning needs of our students with the learning interests of our educators.  We know from our Conditions for Learning that to achieve that permanent change in thinking and behaviour that defines learning (Katz and Dack) the learner needs to see the learning as important to them, relevant to their world, and job-embedded.

I like the fact that she addresses the needs of the teaching professional and their desire to grow and learn and suggests ways that it might be addressed in a learning plan.   I wonder if this would include wandering?


Whoo hoo! BreakOutEDU is coming to #BIT16

Of course, you come to the Bring IT, Together Conference for the learning.

This year, that learning includes a BreakOutEDU session.  What’s that?  Check out the SketchNote.

Then, get your registration in.


As always, it’s been a wonderful collection of reading this past week.  Why not drop by the blogs in this post and read them in their entirety.  And, drop off a comment or two!

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I was at a bit of a crossroads with my collection of Ontario Edublogs last week and so sought some advice from readers.  Those that responded in public and in private were very convincing.  I’ll leave things the way they are for the present.  There are some new things that I read this week.  Check them out.  You may notice a theme.


Teaching as a creative act

Even as I create this post, I’m chatting with a friend about the use of a template as a way to use technology in the classroom.  Jim Cash, in this post, talks about relationships and learning.  There’s also the element of respect.  When you’re working with a template, you expect that most results will be reasonably similar.  Does that illustrate respect for the learner?  Allowing students to become creative honours their efforts.  As the title to the post implies, it can only happen when the teacher and teaching is creative.  There’s nothing much creative about photoglopping a black line master or the digital equivalent – handing out a template of a file for completion.

I see relationships and learning as very closely related; both are creative acts. They are creative because every day they need to be nurtured, utilized, examined, improved, and remade. The heart of constructivism is that knowledge, skills and values are built over time in socially safe and growth-focused environments. Knowledge building is never done.


Teaching is a Creative Act

In Jim’s post, he indicated that he was tagged along with a number of others to get involved with the discussion about teaching being a creative act.  The original tagger was Matthew Oldridge and he shared his thoughts in this post.

I had to smile at this paragraph in his post.

When I started out teaching, I thought I was “supposed” to come up with brand new lessons every day. That’s what I thought the job was, but then, if I was stuck for ideas, I would feel bad.

I know that, as a new computer science / data processing teacher, I absolutely had to come up with new lessons and ideas.  There was no formal curriculum; there was no textbook; there really was no experience I could draw on except for my own.  It made for some very short nights, making up content for all the classes.  In the long run, I think it worked out for the best.  It was only after I got my permanent contract that I found out that there was a department budget for resources and then dared approach my department to get my share.  To be honest, I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.  So, like I would suggest virtually every computer science teacher does, I did a backward design from what I wanted the students to learn to the activities, to the lessons, to the introductions.


Blog Challenge: Teaching as a Creative Act

Also tagged in the post was Brandon Pachan.  It was a chance for me to add another name to the Ontario Educator list and the Ontario Edublogger list.

The post starts off with an insight that only teachers will get.  Parents just think the magic happens.

Teaching is a creative act because you are balancing the process with the product while engaging an audience that is diverse, unique and also part of the cast. Creativity thrives on limitations and obstacles.

He then identifies and comments on what he feels are limitations.

  • The Physical Space
  • The Cast & Crew
  • The Transition

I think that it’s also important to add “The Resources” to the list.  So many people are having to rework old resources to try and get new and contemporary results.  Or, perhaps you have the new resources but have had no time to determine how best to use them.  That, of course, leads to “time to collaborate”.


Sharing Interests to Prompt Self-directed Writing

Related to the theme is this powerful post from Tim King who, quite frankly, I’ve always pictured in the role of a technology teacher.  But, talk about teaching and creativity.

I’m back in the classroom again and teaching English for the first time in more than a year.  I took a senior essentials English class mainly because few people want to teach it (teachers like to teach people like themselves – in this case academically focused English students), and it fit my schedule.  Essentials English is just as it sounds.  These are weak English students who are getting what they need to graduate and get out into the workplace, they aren’t post-secondary bound and tend to find school pointless.

Huge kudos to Tim for reaching out to those students in this way.


Keep A “Plans and Ideas” Google Doc Open In A Tab, Always

While poking around Matthew Oldridge’s previous post, I found this one.  He describes a technique for never losing an idea by always having a tab open in his browser to curate those ideas.

I’ve tried a number of utilities including a Google document, Google Keep, Microsoft’s OneNote (grudgingly after somehow I lost all those notes at the Microsoft PIL Event), Evernote, in a blog editor, and in just a text document.  Ideas come at the strangest of times; for me it’s often while walking the dog which means a mobile solution.  I’d forget by the time I got home and he’d lose focus at the next mailbox.  I can access both OneNote and Keep on my watch and audio capture is so good.  Of course, if you use Office 365 instead of Google, you could do this with an open instance of Word.  The key is to find something that works reliably for you so that you don’t lose those gems of inspiration.


Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper

This is Part 3 of a three part series reviewing Minecraft for Education.  Check out the post for links to Part 1 and Part 2.  The post is attributed to @GumbyBlockhead but if you poke around, you’ll see who is behind this.

The whole three posts are a very complete look at the Education version of Minecraft, something I don’t have access to.  So, I do appreciate the walkthrough.

I learned so much – like how to change the weather.


An Interview with Matthew Oldridge

In case you missed it, earlier this week I had the chance to post an interview that I had with Mr. Oldridge.

I found it interesting to take a look a little deeper at what makes him tick and to get some of his thoughts about mathematics.

All my interviews can be found here.


Please take a moment to click through and read all these wonderful posts.  There’s always great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, it’s one week down and how many more to go?  It’s been cruel for those of you who are part of this heat wave in non-airconditioned schools.  Hopefully, that will end starting today.  In the meantime, sit in front of the fan and check out these great posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


BACK TO SCHOOL – #BIT16 TO DO LIST

First off, check out the Bring IT, Together together site (follow the link above) to get a quick navigation lesson from Peter McAsh about how to get up and running for the November Ontario conference.  This is our conference, packed with presentations from fellow Ontario educators.  A few years ago when Cyndie Jacobs and I were co-chairs, we decided to add evening social events as part of the complete experience.  Now that I’m back on the committee, it’s exciting to see that the tradition is continuing.  I’m excited to participate in the BreakoutEDU event and to catch up with long time friends.  And, remember the Minds on Media experience?  It’s gone on overload and is now affectionately known as Mega Minds on Media and you have to check out the facilitators.  The program is shaping up nicely and all the sessions are posted to Lanyrd for you to check out.

Will I see you there?


My Phone

Heck yes, Royan Lee.  I completely sympathise with each and every point you describe in your post.  The post could have been called “Ode to Doug’s Phone”.

As Royan notes,

My mobile phone is with me at all times. Have you seen those posters at public swimming pools which remind parents to be at an arm’s length of their little children? I basically take that approach with my phone.

I would add that my own Moto 360 is useless without my phone in listening distance.

And, my two factor authentication requires the phone to be at hand.  I’d hate to get locked out; how would I ever blog?

My current fascination is to watch Penn and Teller’s Fool Us television show and look up the hints that Penn gives during his assessment of the performers.  Guess how?

How did I live before this?

And, if it’s good for us to learn and use the tools, why isn’t it the same for students?  Daily, there are new uses for the technology for us.  There are also times when we know that technology use is inappropriate.  Why shouldn’t we honour that with students?


Cover Artists

I like it when people share their deepest thoughts on topics and Colleen Rose does so in this post about Cover Artists.

I don’t necessarily agree with her.  If bands didn’t cover others, could you imagine a bar or a high school dance that couldn’t afford to bring in the original but can afford to bring in a band that covers others.  And sometimes the cover is better than the original in a tribute to them.

I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan and really enjoy the “Cover Me” show on Tuesday evenings when they play music from bands that have covered the E Street and songs that the E Street Band have covered.  I like to think that cover bands are pushed to be at least as good as the original.

To make my point, Colleen, please enjoy this cover of John Fogerty’s Rockin’ All Over the World.


What is a Mindset, more specifically, a Growth Mindset

As the school year starts, if you need a kick start about growth mindsets, check out Michael Quinn’s post to parents.

It’s not a huge post and certainly doesn’t dig too deeply into the academics of a growth mindset.  But, it does set the table for parents and students to understand what’s happening in his classroom.  

I think it’s a good start towards keeping parents in the loop and would suggest that it would be a nice way to start a parent/teacher interview.


Teaching Hub: Post Two, Week One

I think that any person or department whose reason for existence is to support instructors could take a lesson from this post from the Learning Design Department at Fleming College.  I found it via a post from Alana Callan so I’ll give the first credit to her.  If you follow the link on the site, you’ll see that she’s part of a support team.

It’s awesome to see the supports that they’re putting into place for the staff there.

And they have badges.  What’s not to like?


MENTAL HEALTH AS A PRIORITY: WHAT’S DIGITAL IDENTITY GOT TO DO WITH IT?

I mentioned this post, by Donna Fry, last week and I think it’s important enough that it’s worth repeating.

It’s about a presentation that she shared with North Bay and DSBONE.

Of course, there are varying levels to consider.

She was kind enough to share her slidedeck on the post.  It’s intriguing to click your way through and I can almost hear her voice in the background.

Take a few minutes to click your way through and think about this so important topic.


Teacher Learning and Leadership Program Project – Part 1

These projects are always interesting to read about and imagine just what the results might be.  So what if it was delayed by a work action or a pregnancy?

The important part is that the project is back on the rails and this lengthy post gives Jennifer Aston a chance to talk about it

The goal of our project is to connect students with other French speakers beyond the walls of the classroom using iPads.  Each of the lead team teachers has received 5 mini iPads, a VGA lightning cord, 5 Belkin Splitters and Otterboxes for the iPads.  We are going to be measuring the effects of this type of authentic French speaking and listening opportunities on FSL learning with pre and post surveys for teachers and students as well as some digital documentation and blogs.  Will student confidence increase?  Will their understanding of “why” learn French increase?  Will they see themselves more as French speakers in the world?

And the best part is that she’s headed to the BIT Conference (see the instructions above to get registered) and will be looking for connections.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


As always, thanks to the great thinking and sharing from these bloggers.  If you’re blogging yourself, please take a moment to complete the form here and I’ll get you added to the collection.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s time, again, to take a look at the roundup of blogs and content that I enjoyed this past week contributed by Ontario Edubloggers.  Please follow along and see the thoughts/insights from these folks.


Remembering Seymour Papert in Ontario Education

I like to toss in Peter Skillen’s direction some of the superficial references to Seymour Papert’s work that are so often referenced and increasingly used to indicate why students need to code.  I guess it’s our society of 140 characters and sound bits that generate it but it really does a disservice to the amazing work of one of the owner of shoulders that we should all be standing on.

In this post, Peter reflects on some of the time that he spend with Dr. Papert and how Peter sees his influence on Ontario education.  I think that it’s a worthy inclusion to your reading.

Peter and I have been bantering back and forth about the opportunity to recognize Dr. Papert’s influence at the Bring IT, Together conference in November.  I hope that we can put together something appropriate to celebrate one of the great minds in education.


It’s not about the Tech…..

With apologies to Jonathan So, I really hate it when this is used as a title or in most references.  

The inspiration for his post came from a podcast and, in particular,

There was a line that I heard in the post that I just hit a big aha moment. Peter mentioned that the OTF Summer conference was titled “Pedagogy before Technology” and that he wasn’t fond of the title but that it was something that was current in education.

I think that, even the discussion, demeans the efforts of educators who are doing the best they can.  I keep thinking of a quote from Wayne Hulley “Nobody wakes up wondering how they’re going to screw up today”.

I think the last quote from Jonathan sums it up nicely…

I know that as teachers we also need time to learn new tools and how they work but first and foremost we need to understand what their purpose is and why we would be using them in the classroom. Love to hear your thoughts on this and if you haven’t heard it already listen to Rolland’s podcast some fantastic educators on there.

It’s a chicken and egg thing but has any other tool in technology been so scrutinized and criticized?  If you search history, there was a huge concern that ball point pens were just the “beginning of the end”.  Some teachers are new to effectively using technology and they need to be supported in their endeavours.  Those that have used it should be those who are supportive with examples and ideas.

Curriculum consultants and district leaders should constantly be providing learning opportunities for staff to learn no matter where they are in their learning.  If they’re not, well … you get what you get.

Education has toyed with the concept of Programmed Instruction, abandoned it, and moved on.  I just wish that the conversation would as well.


TELL 2016

Mark Renaud attended the Technology-Enabled Learning & Leading Institute 2016 this summer along with about 1000 of his closest colleagues.

In this post, he shares his highlights from conference.

It’s interesting to read his observations and hopefully further blog posts will give us an idea as to how they’ve made an impact in his school and to his leadership style.

There are lots of links to slidedecks from some of the presenters at the TVO website.  There’s much Google stuff there, most of the sessions are tagged “Beginner” and kudos to the presenters from my former board.


Collaborating with Colleagues using OneNote Staff Notebook

What about boards that have used Microsoft Office 365 instead of going the Google route though?

Andre Quaglia recently added his blog to the Ontario Edubloggers collection and I went back to a post of his from February.

I recently discovered the advantages of using OneNote Staff Notebooks as a collaborative tool to keep the momentum of conversations flowing after department meetings with teaching colleagues.

In the post, he shares three examples of using OneNote Staff Notebooks.

  • Creating an inventory of instructional technology
  • Verifying class textbook and planning
  • Discussion about how to allocate new classroom workspace

Time

One of the great things about blogging is that you can be or create anything you want.

In this post, Joan Vinall Cox shares a short poem about “Time”.

It’s a reminder to all of us that we’re getting older.


Squirrel!

My classroom was probably the least desirable room in the school.  I don’t know whether it was the block design or the fact that we were air conditioned but there were a few rooms that had no outside windows.  I had one of them.

So, I can’t really empathise with Ashley Soltesz’ first day of school.

It’s actually distractions rather than squirrels that form the basis of the post.  We all have them.

She does end with a question that we all have – how do you handle distractions?


The question is not, “how best to teach mathematics?” The question, educator, is “how best for YOU to teach mathematics?”

After the title, the rest of Matthew Oldridge’s post is pretty much redundant!  When you’ve taken as many courses in mathematics as I have, you’d like to think that you’ve seen it all.

I’ve been drilled, investigated, explored, charted, drawn, programming, puzzled, heard mathematics jokes, …

Unfortunately, for most teachers, their last formal kick at mathematics would have been at a Faculty of Education which has to include that in amongst everything else for some teachers or focus on the teaching of difficult mathematics for those who would aspire to be secondary school specialists.

So, it comes as no surprise that some folks think that they have to chalk and talk in order to get their dollar and a quarter for the day.  Fortunately, we’re having the discussion about teaching and I really enjoyed the approach in Matthew’s post.  In true mathematics tradition, he illustrates with a chart…

I think that it’s a good read and anyone who will be teaching mathematics, at whatever level, would be well advised to read and consider their approach.  And, question when you’re advised to embrace “high impact strategies”.  To be sure, they can be good research, but don’t necessarily address your skill set or the learning needs of your students.


It’s absolutely another great week of reading.   Thanks to all the bloggers who contributed to my learning.  Please take a moment and drop by their posts (I’ve given you the links so it’s easy) and extend their conversations.  If you’re a blogger yourself, do what Andre did, and add yourself to the list.  I’d really like to have you included.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been another great week of reading blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Some of what I caught appears below.

Please take a moment to click through and read their complete thoughts.


My New Work Flow

David Fife made sure that I didn’t miss this post from Jennifer Aston.  Jennifer and I had actually exchanged some thoughts about the topics she blogged about so it was like another deja vu to see it in that format.  But, the nice thing about blogging is that you get to see the thoughts completely in context.

If you read the post in its entirety, there is a great deal to be learned.

  • when you move your files and data to the cloud, “who” really owns it?
  • a decision made by the folks at the board office, or what was referred to with my former employer, “downtown” can have cascading effects throughout the district
  • related to that, it’s fair to ask “Is there a master plan?”
  • if you live by the cloud, you can die (or at least get a bit injured) by the cloud
  • YOU need to be in charge of everything or there are consequences
  • Linux isn’t a four letter word and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your computer
  • it’s nice to have a cadre of people that you can ask when these questions arise

There’s another one that I think that all educators need to consider.

When your students “check out” at Grade 6 or 8 or 12 or whenever, do you provide a mechanism for them to check out their work as well?


Literacy Tests: Not Just Kids’ Stuff

When I first read the title of Stephen Hurley’s post, I got myself ready for another rant and rationale to ditch standardized testing.

So, I felt like the victim of a bait and switch when I read the post.

He draws an interesting parallel between the literacy tests that we subject students to and the wedding speeches that so many of us have had to give.

So here’s to all of you who have been asked to give a speech or a toast at a wedding this summer. Embrace the opportunity, embrace the anxiety and remember—literacy tests are not just for kids. Whether we realize it or not, they are part of all of our lives—for the rest of our lives!

It’s a fun read and yet makes so many sense.

With the exception, of course, that students don’t go and do shots when the testing is over!


Advice for New Teachers

Who knows how many new teachers will be entering classrooms for the first time this fall?  Or how many people are making a career change by moving from one school to another.  Even that can be a culture change.  Matthew Oldridge has a wonderful post just full of advice.

He concludes with:

The post is full of good advice.

Except…

Well, maybe there will be a followup post about Parent/Teacher nights.


Coding in French

Larissa Aradj shares to her blog, a guest post from French teacher Ashley Soltesz, and an interesting take on teaching coding in French.

As noted, French teachers don’t always have access to the same collection of resources as the regular classroom teacher but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t find a way to make it happen.  In this case, it was to create Coding Blocks in the French language and allow students to create projects without the benefit of a computer.

What’s not to like?  It gets rid of one more excuse.

You don’t have to start from scratch.  <groan>  Check out the resources in this shared folder.


It IS about the Tools!

Opening Up My Technology Can Of Worms

I’m going to clump Peter Skillen and Aviva Dunsiger’s posts together here.

I’m not neutral on this topic.

It’s Not About the Technology

It Better Be About The Technology

and a bunch of others.  It’s a regular theme around here.   I still love this graphic.

I deliberately chose the word “neutral” above because I believe that the use of technology is not a neutral activity.

I touch technology every day.  It touches me every day.  I can only remember one moment where I wanted to scream and it was at one of those PD sessions that you’re forced to attend.  Normally, that doesn’t bother me but the presenter started out by asking, no demanding, that people turn off their technology so that we could listen to her.  Then, having shut that door for me, she went on to ramble about learning styles or something.

Technology isn’t neutral.

  • In the hands of a master teacher, you can have students create, explore, and do things that aren’t possible in any other way.  This is where the magic lies.
  • In the hands of a teacher that uses it for some menial task, it turns off students from even trying.
  • If it’s never used by a teacher, it’s just opportunity lost.

We lost one of the great Edtech minds this past week in Seymour Papert.  There was no bigger advocate for the technology using student.  By inheritance, we include the technology using teacher.  It’s 2016 – we shouldn’t have “computer teachers” – that belongs to our past where we had limited access to technology and an entire profession that was learning.  Those excuses just don’t cut it today.

Never has the profession had so many great things happening and discerning teachers using technology to its greatest ability.


An interview with Michelle Cordy

I’m going to call my own number here.

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Michelle Cordy who delivered the closing keynote at the recent ISTE Conference.

Of course, I had to wait for her to return from a trip to Berlin to get things together but it did come together nicely.

We chatted about teaching different grades, research, 1:1 iPads, delivering the closing keynote at the ISTE Conference, and much more.  She gives a shout out to her five biggest influencers.  I think it’s a great read and I hope that you take the time to do so.


Thanks to all of the above for continuing to provide great thoughts for educators.  Drop by each blog for the complete content and leave a comment of your own if you’re so inclined.  They’ll appreciate it.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday.  It won’t be long now.

Please check out some of the great works of Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve read recently.


WHY MY PLN IS MY MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE

In response to the challenge that I issued earlier in this week, David Carruthers poked a couple of members of what he considers his own PLN and shared some of what resonated with his from Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnote.

While I tagged people in my original post, he highlights concepts.

It works well and I’ll bet you’ll be in agreement with his post.

There are a few districts that really work the concept of the digital Personal Learning Network.  Sure, there are lots of individual Twitter accounts sharing classroom pictures with parents, but Thames Valley has always been a great place to go to see educators nicely engaged and learning with each other and indeed the educational world.


20 Ideas for Celebrating Aboriginal Culture in Your Class

Just in time for next Tuesday, some ideas about Aboriginal Culture for your classroom from David Sornberger.

  1. inviting an Indigenous guest speakers, e.g., an Elder, to speak on local history as well as on contemporary issues
  2. plan a community activity with a partner (partners could be an on-reserve school or school district)
  3. arts and crafts display or workshop
  4. Indigenous language workshop
  5. playing traditional or contemporary games (e.g. lacrosse)
  6. preparing a display of items such as treaties, arts and books

More at his original post.


Minecraft: Spatial Sense, Structures & Growing Patterns

Brian Aspinall’s latest post is actually a YouTube video dealing with this topic.

After watching the video, if you’re in search for more, check out a new creation from Brian.  It’s a separate blog called “Hour of Curiosity“.


Hour of Curiosity

Who’s Brian trying to kid?

If you can do all this in an hour, then put on your super hero costume and head to the front of the line.

You have to feel just a bit sorry for those trying to play catch up with all the excitement that coding and other activities offer.  In this one spot, look for some supporting materials and a desire to collect even more.

The Hour of Curiosity is not a scheduled event. Rather it is a place for teachers to get comfortable with coding, augmented reality, Minecraft and MaKey MaKey. Some resources are meant for PD opportunities, some are classroom activities and some are student examples.


5 Vintage and Powerful Teaching Moves That You Don’t Need an App For

Royan Lee is always on the move and he’s done it again.

Stepping back from the App obsession, are there indeed things that need to be considered for their merit in the classroom.  We have 1:1 classrooms, 1:1 wannabees, 1:1 wishers, lab walkers, shared devices, and all the rest.  But is that all?

Royan argues successfully, with examples, about great alternatives.

I shudder when I think of computer science classrooms where students get a problem, sit down at the computer, and begin coding.  When they hit the wall, and they will, often they don’t know why.  If they’d only planned first…

Technology can lead to powerful results but that shouldn’t be the only game in town.

Drop by Royan’s blog and drop off your most powerful non-app idea.


A world full of materials!

Joanne Babalis’ is a natural followup to Royan’s.

The world is filled with materials, and I have already started to introduce them to my five month old son.  Each day he discovers new objects, colours, books, and makes it quite clear what interests him.  When I was invited back to the Louise Kool & Galt, a company that specializes in early childhood furniture and materials, I thought that it would be a great chance for us to explore!  While I was there, we also planned one of our upcoming #CTInquiry sessions that will be held within their board room.

The pictures are from a visit to the company so don’t be too jealous that this is passed off as a typical classroom.  However, it is full of ideas.

There’s not an app in sight.  Well, except for the one that took the pictures, perhaps.


Ça prend du développement professionnel peronnalisé

Another argument for personalized professional development from Joël McLean.

He makes, once again, the argument for why professional development isn’t always successful.

I think that it’s time to encourage all who would be involved in professional learning opportunities to consider his points.

If it’s not personal and relevant, it’s going to be less likely to have long term effects.  So often, professional learning leaders run sessions that are of interest to them.  How about the audience?  Aren’t they the most important people in the room?  How many times do we need to sit and listen to someone pontificate about the works of <<blah blah>> and his theories.  How many times is that message forgotten on the drive home?  Or how many times do you go to a summit to see someone show off some obscure feature of a piece of software that has no useful purpose other than to show off during the session?  If that’s the case, isn’t there a better way?

A great Sketchnote introduces us to the post.


SOLVE THE QUESTION

From the TESL Ontario blog, Laila Al-Sbeinati shares a lesson in conversation that has worked for her.

It’s not your typical Q&A but rather A&Q.

It’s a powerful technique in computer science; give the students the answer and they have to determine how it was generated.  It forces deeper thinking than going the other route where they may already have a partial plan in place.  So, I can see why it would work so well for her.  I like her descriptions of how she actually made it work.  I think that it’s more of a puzzle presentation which adds even more engagement potential.  You’re left with a starter collection of eight answers.


Thanks again everyone for sharing your thoughts and blog leadership.

Please make sure to drop by these blogs to read them in their entirety and leave a comment or two.  Bloggers like that sort of thing.

Choices and decisions


Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnote about Teacher PLNs is a wonderful thought starter for me and I hope for others as well.

It reminded me of a conversation that we had in planning years ago.  The question was thrown on the table.

“Why would I want a teacher to connect with someone half way around the world when they won’t talk to their colleague down the hall?”

It wasn’t posed by a luddite; it was meant to get us thinking deeper about just what it was we were planning to do.  And, what we were planning to do was to replace an ancient email system that I had installed on a trial basis for a few of us to investigate just what we could do and to prove the value of it with others.  By today’s standards, it was pretty lame although functional.  You could send and receive email messages and that was about it.  Looking back now, I’m not sure it would even do CC or BC.  It really was primitive but it was free so hey.

We wanted so much more.

Not only did we want to be able to talk to the teacher down the hall but we wanted to be able to talk to teachers with the same passion throughout the board.  Some of us had worked with and I had actually run a Bulletin Board System for my students and for anyone else who wanted to join.  We knew that when you set aside discussion areas that people would jump at the chance to talk and collaborate.  I had also set up a BBS on the local network at school and turned the keys over to a group of students to manage it.  They did a wonderful job and learned the challenges of approving and denying messages and standards and so much more…

All of this was a drop in the bucket to what we have today.

When you get past the mindset that the only person that you want to work with is the other teacher down the hall, Sylvia’s Sketchnote takes on new and deeper meaning.  But, if you’re reading my blog, you know that.  You’re connected to the internet and either intentionally or accidentally stumbled onto this post.  It’s a choice and a decision that you’ve made if you’re doing this from at home.  It’s a choice and a decision that you’ve been allowed if you’re doing this from your place of work.

There are many educators that aren’t able to make that choice.  The choice and decision made by their employer have prohibited this.  It’s an intentional act to block access to blogs.  It falls into the same category of blocking Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, … as a choice and a decision.

There are times when decisions and choices are made that make it just inconvenient to the point of discouragement.  You might have to load this to get email, that to get discussions, this to get to Twitter, that to get to …  There are only so many minutes in an educator’s day.  In this case, priorities are set and getting to collaboration has to rank behind checking out job postings or finding out what to wear on crazy shirt day.  The savvy educator will work at developing solutions to get around this.  For example, subscribing and bringing all these things to your mailbox is a great way to do this.  According to my WordPress statistics there are far more subscribers than people that actually visit the blog directly.

And that’s just one drop in the big internet learning bucket.

Go back and take a look at the Sketchnote.  How much of the discovery, connections, collaboration could be accomplished if you only had email as a tool?

Is that sufficient when we’re talking about 2016?  Shouldn’t the whole buffet of tools be available to all teachers and classrooms?  Shouldn’t the choice and decision be made to promote as much ability to learn and communicate as possible?  Can we really expect to barricade the outside world and then wonder why we’re not doing anything innovative?  After all, if you’re blocked from doing so, so is that teacher down the hall.  So much for learning at the point of instruction.

What’s in your toolkit that makes all this possible? Mine lies in tabs that are pinned and logged in in my browser.

Selection_822

Can you do it all at school or do you have to wait until you get home?