This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was another great week of reading and learning from some of the spectacular Ontario Edubloggers that I follow. It’s like Christmas morning, writing this post.  Every Friday, I start a new blog post scheduled for the next week and, as I’m attracted to a post, I drop the URL and some preliminary comments into the document.  When it comes to writing this, I look back at the post and my initial comments before giving the post another read.

Here’s a bit that caught my attention this week.

Growth Mindset: Hacky Sack Style

I had to smile as I read this post from Colleen Rose as she describes her “out of her comfort zone” experience trying to learn to play with her geography students.

Maybe now she can fully appreciate how I felt sitting next to her in a Sketchnote workshop as she was whipping out her artwork and I was trying my darnedest to draw a straight line.  I’m getting pretty good at that.  Maybe it’s time to expand my skills!  What’s next?  A circle?

“We Can See” Project: Connecting our Classrooms Online via the Blogsphere and Twitterverse

Who says the youngest of learners can’t learn by being connected?  Certainly not Angie Harrison.  She’s started another round of “We can see” looking for connect with other classrooms to share just what the outside space around Early Years’ classrooms looks like.  It’s a relatively simple entry point and, of course, you could take it as far as you want.  The post is full of ideas and suggestions.

As you can see, the project is off to a great start.  Why not read and share with your colleagues to get involved?

Noticing inequity and taking action

There are times when you’re just proud of your kids and Jennifer Casa-Todd describes one of those moments with her daughter.

After dinner last night, my daughter was perusing an American Girl catalogue and occasionally looked up with dismay.  Not only had she noticed the fact that there was an inequity in the representation of the white vs visible minority dolls, but before we knew it, she had taken out her computer and asked for our input on a letter she was going to send.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that kids don’t notice.  Maybe we’d be in a better place if more took action on what they see as wrong.  After all, it’s our generation that so often lays the groundwork for them.  Does apathy imply agreement?

Why do we feel the need to abandon good ideas for the next shiny new thing?

While on Jennifer’s blog, I have to take issue with some of the statements in this post.

The irony that she was in a session on Periscope which didn’t exist until recently is not lost on me.  By the end of the post, I think she had taken issue herself and had an action plan for part of her learning.

The concept of “mastery” of something, anything in this context bothers me.  I’ve said this before but the last time that I think I fully understood how a computer worked was back in the DOS days when you had a manual and could work your way through all the commands.  Now, we just push a mouse around and rely on magic happening.  And, I’m really good with that.  I was going to try and corner a friend at the BIT conference and ask about the LiveScribe pen.  A few years ago, it was the absolute answer for students and notetaking.  Now, nobody talks about it.

My personal thought is that the state of educational technology would be pretty boring if we waited until we completely mastered something before trying to make it work for the learning environment.  Does anyone remember “Ready, Fire, Aim”?  I don’t think any teacher should ever apologize for learning something new and see if it fits in terms of curriculum, motivation, or engagement.  Think about it – we have people teaching Mathematics but haven’t mastered the discipline.  They teach; they learn; they get better.  I’d be more concerned with the other approach.  With all the money that school districts invest into hardware, there should be an ongoing program of professional learning so that the investment isn’t wasted.

5 Reasons Teachers Should NOT Use Twitter

OK, so I fell for Brian Aspinall’s clickbait title.  Then, in true bait and switch mentality, there is a different message conveyed.

Yeah, I did tweet the article and am including it in this post.  You’ll have to click on over to figure out what’s going on.

Hacks ‘n’ Apps: iMessage is the New Dropbox

If you think that you’ve mastered your digital lifestyle, then you probably just don’t get it.  In this post, Royan Lee takes us a great deal deeper into how he functions in his Macintosh environment.

Whether it’s a technique or an app, Royan shares some of his favourites and invites readers to add their own.

Isn’t this the true promise of personal in “personal computer”?

#peel21st Blog Hop: My One Best Thing

I’d never heard of the Blog Hop that Peel teachers are doing but I think it’s a great concept that all districts could use.

I’m equally as impressed that Tina Zite broke the rules for the event – but in a good way.

Read on to find out her memorable learning moment AND how she broke the rules.

Fair is Fair…or is it?

Remember the saying “floggings will continue until morale improves”?

As Brian Harrison notes in this post, we’ve moved on to a protocol that promises better results.

Included in the post is a link to a TED talk that puts so much into perspective.  It’s a must see.

Eek! Going Public With My Plan!

There’s nothing wrong with being transparent with your plans and Aviva Dunsiger most certainly does so in this recent post.  She’s garnered quite a few people commenting and writing encouragement.

She shares

All of this, leads to my big wonder…

I won’t spoil it for you.  You’ll have to read her entire post.  It’s a long one and you might need a couple of reads to fully digest the message but I think it’s worth the time.
It’s a “plan” that I think could be adopted for many schools and many grade levels.  If you’re looking for a place to get started, she’s done the heavy lifting for you.

Once again, I was able to benefit from a great collection of sharing and thinking from educators from throughout the province.  Thanks so much.

Please take a moment to click through and show how much you appreciate their sharing.

Pipesapp – not just the news

When I was at the Bring IT Together conference last week, I got a ping from an unknown (at the time) source …

I get unsolicited messages all the time and typically ignore them.  If fact, I just blocked an account yesterday that was trying to get me to buy something.  I like to have control over what I do and try to make informed decisions.

But, this message had me hooked at the use of the reference to the Zite app.  Until it was acquired by Flipboard, it had been my go-to reader in the morning. Plus, this long time user of Unix and Yahoo! Pipes was just intrigued by the name.  So, I downloaded it to give it a shot.  I’ll freely admit to being a news junky and had no shame in adding it to my folder of “News Apps” on my iPad.  There’s lots in there.

In addition to having an appreciation for different applications developed by talented programmers, this genre fascinates me.  Even if I tell two applications what my likes and preferences are, they often manage to find stories for me that come from different sources and are completely different.  In my mind, that makes it so important to have more than one source if you’re looking for the good stuff.  Plus the Pipesapp icon was the same colour as the Zite app icon so the two of them sit nicely side by each in the folder.

Out of the box, Pipesapp was not unlike so many other applications.  When I told it that I was looking for education stories, I got flooded with stories from the US.  They are interesting, to some extent, but I’m more interested in Canadian – particular Ontario – stories and that will hopefully come as the application learns what I’m reading and what I’m not reading.  There are other assumptions too – once I allowed it to know my location and that I like sports, I get all kinds of Toronto Maple Leafs stories.  Given my location, it would actually make sense to send me Detroit Red Wings stories but if truth be told, I’m forcing it to send me Montreal Canadiens stories.  Over time, it should learn and will get me right.

So, I launch the application and begin to add pipes to it so that it can get me what I’m looking for.

Sadly, finding the top stories and those related to it are all too easy for any news reading application given the events from yesterday.

You’ll see the pipes that I’ve added along the left side of the screen under the “Top Stories”.  Reading is as simple as selecting a pipe from the left and then the story of interest on the right.  Once you select the story though, the game changes from so many other news reading applications.

A long, long time ago in Grade 10 I had difficulties reading and understanding the content.  In today’s schools, there probably would be a program or assistance for me.  But in those days, there was only one solution and it included a red pen and lots of Xs.  I remember the exact moment when things changed for me.  I was in a book store in Goderich and saw and bought a book titled “How to Read”.  Or, at least that’s what I thought it was titled.  It might be better titled (or maybe it was ) “How to Speed Read”.  I wish that I still had that book but sadly don’t.  Anyway, I took it home and devoured it hoping that it would make me a better reader.

And I think it did.

I don’t think anyone would have predicted the huge amount of information that we would be bombarded with these days.  But I learned the technique of identifying key words, expressions, sentences, and ignoring the fluff that so often pads articles.  Education – you are the worst with all the babble that’s added so that you can meet your quote of 1000 words before an article can be published.  Rant off.

What blew me away is that the Pipesapp will do its own version of the speed reading technique for you automatically for many, not all, stories.  If you look to the left, you’ll see a summary of the article that they call “Quick News”.  It’s like the story has already been summarized for you.  I’d love to know how the technology behind that works.  It’s not 100% but the machine learning that’s involved is pretty impressive.  Now to get my attention to read an article, I’m first hooked by the title and then reeled in by the quick summary.  To the right, you’ll have the option to read the whole story.  The best part?  None of the advertising that you’d expect to see embedded in articles.  If you’re missing it, there’s an option at the bottom of the screen to see the story on the original site.  And, of course, there’s the suggestion to read related articles to help you expand your thinking beyond the original article.

Using the iPad’s hook to services, I can share the story to Twitter for others to read and have it automatically dumped into my Diigo account for later review.  I can also send it to the Flipboard document I call “Readings” so that I can bring it back there as well.  I’m a big fan of automation and Pipesapp fits nicely into my workflow.

There’s another feature that I’m not sure that I’ll use but who knows?  I could see this going over nicely in the classroom.

The application gamifies your reading.

As a new user and still poking around refining things, I’m definitely a Noob.  But as they say – the more you read, the more you know.  I’d be hesitant to point students to Pipeball.  Just sayin’.

I’ll admit to a slow introduction to Pipesapp installed just a week ago.  It’s different from other applications that I’ve used and so my reading was affected by my learning how the application works.  I also tend to read while on my computer or my Android phone, neither of which is supported at this time.  But, when I get moments with my iPad, it works like a champ.  I just have to use it enough so that it knows what my preferences are.

If you’re interested in downloading and giving it a test, it’s a free download from the iTunes store here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And, it’s Friday again.  Another day to share some of the writing from the excellent Ontario Edubloggers.  Read on to see some of the things that appeared this past week.

November Thanks

There are so many great ideas and calls to action online.  If you tried to do them all, you’d be so overly involved that you’d never get anything done.  Kristi Keeri Bishop has a simple concept.  Simple yes, but it can make all the difference to someone.

November is indeed a tough month to get motivated and excited.  So much is weather and climate related.  Let me add a secondary school element – football practices and games can get so unbearable.  I still feel it in my bones when I think of our championship game against Walkerville.  We won but it was still cold.

Can you use her suggestion make a difference?

Find a Remedy

I could swear that Paul Cornies had read Kristi’s blog post.  In this motivational post, he quotes Flora Whittemore, Mark Twain, and Henry Ford.

Paul taught me about serendipity.  I ran into a lot of it this week!

Sharing from #BIT15: Heidi Siwak’s Keynote Address

Donna Fry may not know this but she was in my line of sight during Heidi Siwak’s closing keynote.  Her head was bobbing in agreement throughout and I could see her taking all kinds of notes.

Fortunately, she turned it into a blog post so that we can all enjoy.

If you were unable to attend Heidi Siwak’s closing keynote at #BIT15 this year, you missed an amazing learning experience.

Let’s see if we can share the important points.

If you couldn’t attend, or you’d like a revisit, check out the post.  There’s a link to a post on Heidi’s blog to continue the discussion and to read Heidi’s own words about her talk.

It’s About the Shift, Not the Conclusion

Consider this quote:

Who said that?

If I told you it was a student in Heidi Siwak’s Grade 6 class, would you sit back and say “Whoa”.

Check out this post to see a collection of quotes from her class.  If you heard Heidi’s closing keynote at BIT15, you’d probably not be surprised.

These students appear to be wise beyond their years.

The essential @dougpete

Forget the dougpete part.

Instead, read the real message in Anne Shillolo’s post.  Like so, so many, the sessions sponsored by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation a few years ago changed things for so many of us in Ontario.  I remember talking to a new friend at a session and saying that they’ve managed to accomplish what the Ministry and School Districts have tried to do for years – teachers connecting to other teachers in other districts and having deep professional discussions on their terms – not something that was laid-on.  It makes going to conferences like the BIT Conference something to look forward to.  It’s a wonderful chance to talk with like minded educators from all over the province.  Without the OTF event, I certainly wouldn’t have had a chance of meeting Anne.  Now, we talk when we get to the same place and use social media to keep the conversation alive between times.

The other reason that I decided to include this post was through the serendipity that happened this week.  Even before I read Anne’s post, I included a link to a resource that Danika Tipping had provided for her workshop on Evernote.  It was a major bit of learning for me and it all stemmed from being in the right place at the right time.

As an aside, Anne’s site is another in a line of Blogger sites that I can’t comment on.  It’s comforting, doing my research, to find out I’m not the only one but I’d sure like to know why.

My Ever Growing and Changing Learning Curve

Case in point.  Eva Thompson.  Her blog is a regular stop on my reading and I finally got a chance to meet her face to face.


In an elevator in Niagara Falls.  Thank goodness that she’s one of those people that put a real picture on their Twitter profile.  I stepped in the elevator and I’m not one to stare at the floor.  I look around to see who is there.  On the other side was this young lady and I just knew that I knew her.  Or at least of her, her online persona, and her writing.  So, it was a quick introduction there and a promise to meet up later to chat.

In this blog post, she shares her feelings about presenting at the conference.  She concludes with …

I think she’s being overly harsh on herself.  It’s always good to be critical of your performance with an eye to improvement.

My thoughts about presenters at conferences are like this.

You go to hear a keynote speaker to be part of a crowd; you know that you’re going to hear generalities about big ideas and hopefully get that bit of inspiration.  But, I value the time that I spend in breakout sessions even more, and for different reasons.  These sessions are delivered by mortal teachers who just want to share real stories about real students about real learning.  Their passion about a topic is all that counts.  Style points, not so much.  So often, keynote speakers talk about great things in other classrooms or something they discovered on YouTube or some hypothetical scenario or some sort of research.  What makes the individual presenter session so special for me is that it’s based in solid reality and you could actually replicate it, with their support, if you wanted to.

So, I hope that Eva’s ready to offer her enthusiasm for teaching when there are calls for proposals again.  Maybe attend an EdCamp or lead a session with her school colleagues or lead an online seminar for a little more practice.  The learning world needs people who are this honest and open.

Math Links for Week Ending Nov. 6th, 2015

I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to discover David Petro’s mathematics blog.

I can see that I’m going to spend way too much time on this blog.  I enjoy doing mathematics puzzles just for the enjoyment of doing the puzzle.  The 50 cent puzzle that was making the rounds recently made it into this blog.  (along with a lot of other really good stuff)

Of huge interest is tagging resources to the Ontario Curriculum.  How can you miss?

I Don’t Read

This is a great story about what teachers do best.

They analyse the situation, consider the alternatives, the sources, and make recommendations that will make the student successful.

In this post, Jennifer Aston describes how she handles a student who told her…

Like I said, it’s a great story, with great dialogue, a plan, a followup, a next steps and, importantly a request for advice from the community of people who read her blog.  Oh, and her community responded.

I hope that you enjoy checking out these blog posts as much as I did.  There’s some really great stuff here.

Thanks to all of these bloggers for sharing their thoughts.  Together we learn.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great week of sharing thoughts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always something to engage and get my mind thinking and, for that, I’m so grateful.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

The Undervalued Sense

We always talk about getting the perfect title for a blog post to hook potential readers.  This one by Diana Maliszewski had me hook, line, and sinker.  I tried to guess what sense it might be before visiting and I’ll confess to drawing a blank.  It could be any of them.

“I smell you. I smell you Ms. Molly.” I’m pretty used to my personal space being invaded by little people, who touch, grab, and hug me constantly, but this scent examination unnerved me at first.

OK, from the first paragraph, I determine that maybe she didn’t bathe or something.  Sorry, Diana.

She expanded on the concept and brought in so much that we now take for granted – perfume-free workspaces, for example – and then how to encourage the use of this scent in the classroom.

This approach totally took me by surprise but I’ll admit; I enjoyed the read and thinking.

The value of grades?

Speaking of thinking, Jamie Reaburn Weir’s post challenges the notion of a number given to a student.  Does the number define the student?

Any teacher worth their salt would answer the definition part with a resounding “NO”.

It brought back a memory of an absolutely genius young lady that I taught for three years in Computer Studies.  She couldn’t do anything wrong, it seemed.  I remember once giving her a 99 on some sort of assessment that was drop dead on target for what was required.  Not only was she smart, she had just the nicest way of approaching things.  She waited until the entire class had left and then asked me to show her what she missed so that it would never happen again.

I also remember a small handful of students in my education class who obviously had done the bare minimum for the assessments (and got the appropriate mark) and then went directly to the Dean about it.  When the Dean and I reviewed their submissions, I was not only supported but got into a great philosophical discussion about assessment.

The conclusion is an interesting tack on to Jamie’s post – we don’t let the number define the student; the student allows the number to define themselves.

Either way, as Jamie notes, there are other ways of thinking about assessment and her students had ideas.

But, for now, we have these hurdles that society has accepted as proof of accomplishment.

I think real change has to go beyond just the school system; it has to be a change in societal attitudes about what defines success in education.  That will be a much tougher nut to crack.

Do people do well if they want to, or if they can?

OK, maybe Sue Dunlop has the answer or at least can take our thinking along a different road.

I think we had the same parents…

So, with respect to students, what can be done to make them want to.

Then, in an unexpected turn, Sue talks about the other partners in education.

What can be done there?

Apple Watch and all about Complications

After reading Anne Shillolo’s post, I can safely say I know much more about the history of watches than I ever thought that I would.

It took me on a tangent to read about Patek Philippe & Co. and the effect on the Apple Watch.  How could a company created in 1851 impact a modern wearable device?

It’s all in the complications.

The website for Patek Phillippe watches states, “A ‘complication’ is any additional horological function to the display of hours, minutes and seconds.”

“Complicated watches made by Patek Phillippe are assigned to one of two categories.”

I’m just having visions of educators at the Bring IT, Together Conference next week comparing and contrasting complications.

Just Two Words

Another smile to my face.

Sue Bruyns starts this post with reference to the cliche “Have a nice day”.

Years ago, there was a gentleman that worked in another part of the school who came to my desk and asked for a bit of advice or a favour or bite of my sandwich or something.  I don’t recall.  I just remember that we somehow interacted and, as he left, I said “Have a nice day”.

I still remember his response.  He turned back and said “Why?  Do you really care?”

I didn’t have the heart to say “No, not really and I have less inclination now to ever care…”

Years later, and I’m reading Sue’s blog post.

Now that I’m wiser, I realize that the statement is just a collection of words, non-committal, and just done because it was expected to be.

Maybe I should have said “Now that you’ve eaten my sandwich, or now that I’ve helped you, how are you planning to make the rest of the day special?”  Or something.  A question is really a prompt for further thinking and interaction.  A statement indicates that we’re done and there’s no further interaction expected.  If the goal is relationship building, maybe the focus should be on asking a question instead.

Sue may be on to something here.

Playing With Green Screen (…finally!)

Of all the computery things that you can do, is there nothing that’s more fun than working with a green screen?  In this post, Colleen Rose talks about her experience setting things up in her classroom.

Selection_435Plus, she’s bringing it to the Bring IT, Together conference next week.  Is there any place that uses a green screen better than Niagara Falls?  How many places can you purchase a picture of yourself going over the falls using the technique?

I have lots of fond memories of working the green screen myself.  Once, at the professional learning lab at Dowswell, I wanted to play but had no green screen available until I realized that the data projector shining on a SMART Board provides a nice one.  Plus, you can get some interesting 3D effects if you spend a lot of time at it.  (or so I’ve heard)

I also recall an ECOO conference a few years ago when my friend Nazreen brought me on the stage as a stunt dummy for a Hall Davidson green screen demonstration.  Sadly, I had worn my green/blue chequered shirt that day.  We successfully answered the question “who don’t weather forecasters ever wear green?”

This could be a great deal of fun next week.

The more we learn, the more we QUESTION?

In an interesting followup to the field trip to the dump, Peter Cameron’s class had questions.

Selection_436Lots more questions had arisen from the outing and are available in this post.

Of course, this could lead to some variability.  What if Mr. Cameron owned an F-150 instead?

Thanks to all of the above for their wonderful posts.  Lots of thinking on my part here and writing a response in a blog post makes it even better!

Please click through and enjoy their original thinking.  There’s great stuff there and in all of the Ontario Edublogs.  Check out some of the great writing and thinking and add yours to the list if it’s not there already.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Yesterday morning, Aviva Dunsiger asked about this post in light of the fact that I’d been blogging about searching all week.

I just wondered if the Edublogs you selected would even follow the more general theme of “finding answers.” Enjoyed your posts!

I hadn’t thought or planned it.  I just know that Ontario Edubloggers have the answers!  And they share them via their blogs. 

Here are some that I read recently.

Almost there! Bring IT Together 2015

The 2015 Bring IT, Together conference is just a couple of weeks away.  It should be an interesting environment with the current state of things in Ontario Education.

Regardless, some of Ontario’s best will be there to share their thoughts and insights.  One person that is definitely a “don’t miss” is Heidi Siwak.  She gives us a sneak preview of her plans in this post.

Time for a Computer Science (Not Just Coding) Focus

Enzo Ciardelli put together an interesting post.  He talks about all of the things except coding that go into Computer Science strategies.  So much can be accomplished in disciplines other than Computer Science.

But to do all this and not actually doing the coding is like taking the elevator to the second last stop, not going to the top, and calling it a trip.  Or endorsing a political party and not the leader.

There are a couple of reasons why I think that the whole package is needed.  We’ve all read the articles predicting a shortage of programmers in the future and that may be inspiration at some level, but consider this:

  • now, and into the future, we’re going to be device owners of some sort.  Individually, we’re not going to program the next big office suite but we sure will need to be able to take control of our own devices for our own purposes.  The complete package allows us to take control of things.  Imagine owning your own phone and only using what it came with straight out of the box.  That’s not my vision of the future.  I’m a big fan of Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed messages
  • I still remember the message that we received in Computer Science classes in university.  So many of you will get jobs in the Computer Science field and over half of you won’t be programmers.  That doesn’t preclude you from understanding how programming works.  You can’t understand unless you have an awareness.  I never thought that a mixture of watermelon, feta cheese, and sunflower seeds would be tasty until I tried it.  How will the next generation of students understand if they haven’t been exposed?

There’s a great deal of hype about the Hour of Code and it’s a worthy endeavour but it needs to go beyond the actual coding to get the maximum benefit.  Enzo provides a great list.

It’s a good topic to chat about.  Could you imagine a study of mathematics but let’s just gloss over the negative numbers part.  We really don’t need the full package.  Hah!

Ten Years Later, What Makes You Cringe?

Kristi Keeri Bishop asks a few questions about change and the big question might be “Why aren’t we changing?”  I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.  I think with initiatives coming from all over the place that everyone is changing and it’s a discredit to the profession to think that there are people that aren’t.  Maybe a better way to phrase it is “Why aren’t we changing quicker?”

What if, instead of a chuckle, we worry about being faced with malpractice claims?

Teaching is an ever evolving profession and that presents challenges, both professionally and in personal well-being.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It might even be that people don’t realize how much they’ve changed their practice.  Perhaps a worthwhile professional learning activity would be to pick a topic and identify how it was taught five years ago compared to today.  That might be the inspiration to make folks realize that they are indeed changing.

Since Kristi is in a leadership position as a vice-principal, she could take the lead and demonstrate to staff her changes in that leadership position from her first appointment to her current position.  There’s nothing more empowering than a leader who leads by example.

I think those that are on the cutting edge of leading the change must just shudder when the next “five year plan” comes down from the Ministry or the Board Office!

Taking the Learning Outside the Classroom

Field trips can head interesting places.  How about going to the local dump?

That’s what Peter Cameron’s kids did and it reads like a great adventure!

Check out this post to see the results from the field trip, as told by his students.  I know that, if I was on that field trip, I’d ask “Why is there a fence around here?  Does it try to escape?”

Stacking Paper

As progressive as Kyle Pearce claims to be, he obviously hasn’t made his school paperless!

So, in this mathematics task, the challenge is determine how many packages of paper it will take to reach the ceiling.

He’s tied the activity to curriculum so that anyone wanting the challenge can see where it fits.  Proportion?  Estimation?  I see the blocks on the wall behind that stack of paper and know how I’d start to attack this problem.

There are many different ways to take a shot at this but it looks like a fun approach and you know that all of the students will have their own take on it.  Kyle’s blog is a constant source of innovative ideas like this and well worth bookmarking.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Earlier this week, I had shared my thoughts about small schools and what they bring to the community and to students.  As a former student in a small community, the closing of Harrow District High School had a special place for me.  It was even more relevant for Brian Aspinall as he was a student at that school.

Read his blog to get his thoughts, ideas, and recommendations for the students as they face going to school for the balance of the year knowing that soon, they’ll be bused to another building.

Smashing Breaking News Generator Tool with Capzles, an Online Timeline

I’ll bet that developers are so impressed when people use their applications in new and innovative ways.  Anna Bartosik meshes a number of great standalone applications to make a very rich activity for her students.

She melds:

  • Breaking News Generator
  • Picography
  • Padlet
  • Capzles

to create the learning experience.  In the blog, she claims to have found some in the morning and then used them for this activity in the afternoon.  In her teaching situation, they all fit together nicely.

Her observations:

I’m not going to tell you what the exact activity is here.  You’ll have to click through to her post to enjoy it!

What another collection of incredible points of view and, yes Aviva, answers!

Please click through and enjoy the original posts.  All of the Ontario Edubloggers can be found in this Livebinder.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can this election campaign finish up quickly enough?  It’s been interesting; the focus doesn’t seem to be on “I want this”; it’s more like “I don’t want that”.  For me, I could just enjoy not having political commercials during the middle of baseball games.  Thankfully, you don’t see them on Ontario Edublogger sites.  You just see great thinking.  Here’s some of what I’ve read recently.

Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 71 Write Your Hike, Hike your Tale

I’ll admit – I didn’t know that Ontario had a Hiking Week.  But, I do now thanks to this blog post from Rob Ridley.  I know there’s a four legged friend here that would like to expand our three-a-days to celebrate. 

Even if you missed the week like I did, there’s some great ideas in this post to marry language arts, story telling, and hiking. 

And, really, the concept shouldn’t be limited to just one week.

Spills, Disagreements, and Messes … Oh My!

I tried to think of the computer studies equivalent to Aviva Dunsiger’s list of observations from kindergarten.  You know, the old adage, “everything I needed to know, I learned in kindergarten”.  I just couldn’t draw a lot of parallels. 

The best I could come up with was to agree on her opening statement – * classes are often busy places.

I had to smile at the list she provided and her conclusions about mistakes.  Maybe that should be the focus.  Mistakes across the curriculum and how they enhance the learning for everyone.

The Highs and Lows

Paul Cornies always starts the mind thinking in new directions with his quotes of the day and then his probing question.

Here’s a great one for you to think about today, and in fact, every day.

When your heart speaks, take good notes.  ~ Judith Campbell
– What does your heart convey?

From Printers to Posters to the Pacific Ocean

We all don’t have the opportunity described by Sue Bruyns in this post.  But, we can read and get a visual to start the thinking.

Even if you think you’re doing something innovative and progressive in your classroom, there’s a great deal to be learned just by visiting another location.  It might be the school across town or, in Sue’s case, in British Columbia.  I would contend that there’s always something new to see and learn.  By pulling these bits and pieces together and bringing them back home, you get better as well.

Read the post to see her observations and then I’d suggest considering the question “Couldn’t we be doing that?” 

What is the opportunity here?

And, don’t sell yourself short.  If you looked at your school with an objective eye, I’ll bet that you could come up with a pretty good list that would inspire someone visiting your digs.

Week 5: Fan Culture

Inspiration can come from some interesting places. 

I’ll bet you’ll wonder how this potential call to action from Janet Broder’s post ever happened.

You’ll have to read her post to see what made her think this way.  I would never have seen the connection and I really like the fact that bloggers will often share their thoughts about their takeaways. 

The Call.

From Room 121, a wonderful thought to end Citizenship Week celebrations…

This could be a great discussion point or writing point for this week. 

  • “How did you answer The Call this week?”
  • “Did you miss any calls?”

And yet again, another great collection of thoughts and thinking. Please take the time to check them, and all the blogs from Ontario Educators.  If your blog isn’t listed, please consider adding it so that we can enjoy it.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s Friday!  Happy long weekend everyone.  Check out some of the great thinking and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.

We Need Wonderful

This post from Kristi Keery Bishop was an eye opener for me.  I guess I need to plead guilty to using the word wonderful in ways not intended. 

It’s often used by many in all kinds of situations as she describes.

Have you ever thought about how we use the word wonderful?
There’s the nicey-nice way: “You have all been such a wonderful audience.”
There’s the sarcastic way: “Fridays are wonderful when you are short 3 teachers and 2 EAs, aren’t they?”
Then there is the one-word-when-nothing-else-can-be-said way: “Ms. Smith, here is the new student you weren’t expecting and don’t have a desk for. …. Wonderful!”

I know that it’s a commonly used term around here and I’m sure that it appears far too often on my blog.  I guess this superlative should be reserved for those moments that are truly “wonderful”.  Next time I get the urge, I’ll check my thesaurus for perhaps a more appropriate word.

Clarification (aka Moving Away from Minecraft Part 2)

Just recently, I had commented on Diana Maliszewski’s post about Microsoft’s acquisition on Minecraft.  This was the impetus for this followup post from Diana.  It was interesting as a clarification and I wasn’t the only one who had noticed her original post.  She brought other’s thoughts into it as well.

I have difficulties getting a reply to a blog post to appear on her blog.  I don’t know why but it’s been a situation I’ve had for a long time.  So, I tried to reply and couldn’t.  However, I did fire it off to Keep so that I could share it here instead.

Hi Diana …

I’ve been trying all day to think about how best to reply to this. I love that we’re having this conversation because you’re tapping into things at a very important level. Ultimately, it seems to me that you end up chasing your tail.

We live in a time where you have to wonder about innovation for the sake of being innovative. So many companies create their latest new and improved by copying/cloning others. If they can’t, and they’re big enough, they just go and buy it.

I think it’s a tough fight for someone like you who obviously wants to do what’s best for students and also something that keeps you true to yourself. (I respect Mr. Skillen too.)

At the end of the day, the message that’s coming through here loudly and clearly is that you’re interested in pushing your professionalism and enhancing the learning environment for your students.

For that, you don’t need to justify your decisions to anyone and I applaud you for it.

What’s next?  How about the rumours this week about Ubuntu?  The Ubuntu Conspiracy

#BIT15Reads: Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

Part of the reason why I blog and do my online reading in the morning is that my internet access goes right down the tubes in the evening.  Badly.  Even to the point that I can’t load speedtest to get a number to complain to my provider.  I’ve done that in the past and, their response generally is “sucks to be you – I can ping you so you’re connected.”

Anyway, one of the fallouts of this is that I’m not able to participate in the book talks that are happening as we approach the Bring IT, Together Conference.  But that doesn’t stop Alanna King from continuing.  Fortunately, she records them and also shares her thoughts about her readings on her blog.

Her latest thoughts are about ” Dataclysm” by Christian Rudder.

Using a Drawing App to Show Thinking

In a world of “there’s an app for that”, it’s always difficult to determine where to start and what to do.

You read so much about people talking about the application and what it can do.  Then, you try to figure out how to work it into the classroom.  (Read just about any post about people trying to wedge an application into the SAMR “research” and you’ll see what I mean.)

Kristen Wideen take the better approach.  Yes, ultimately it involves technology and the choice of an application.  But the thrust is about demonstrating thinking.

It’s a technique that we all probably use to demonstrate connections or trying to determine where to head next or how to illustrate the logic behind some concept or just to show ourselves or others what we’re thinking … there’s the whole genre of Graphic Organizers when students are ready.  But, to get them started …

In addition to the advice, she gives some examples of how to manage that in the classroom.

Fostering a Growth Mindset

So, I’m following my own advice.  Earlier, Donna Fry had asked me for some Twitter profiles that would be good exemplars.  I mentioned Safina Hirji’s for a number of reasons.  One of these reasons was that a Twitter profile, properly crafted, will send the visitor to the user’s blog.  It turns out that I didn’t have Safina’s blog in my big list.  Either I missed it or was asleep at the wheel.  So, I was happy to add her Emerging Thoughts to the collection.

In her recent post, she shares her thoughts about mindset and puts it nicely into perspective.

Key to this is “backed by research”.  That’s so important to take into consideration instead of jumping on the latest bandwagon.

It’s such a powerful concept.  Perhaps every teacher should blog about what mindset means to them.

Got Lists? Google Keep to the rescue.

Years ago, I was taken back by the number of people that had Post-it notes stuck on their computer monitors.  Occasionally, they’d fly off and be on the floor or, even worse for this computer nut, they’d have their logins and passwords written on them.  In my effort to change the world, I bought the digital version of Post-it notes for myself and my support person.  It was the handiest thing to do – if you’re doing something and an inspiration comes along or you need to create a quick list, bang another digital note on the screen.  They’re there tomorrow when you reboot.  This has spun a whole series of digital note software and to-do software.  Some are listed here and most operating systems include something as standard.

That was one of the times that I could really use the word game changer and really mean it.  The limitation was quite evident when you had multiple computers and wanted to share the notes.  That, too, is a whole new genre of software.  I remember attending the Microsoft Global Partners in Learning Forum in Washington and sitting with Angela Maiers.  We were alone because we were using Macs, I guess.  I was inspired to give OneNote another shot because of a keynote by Anthony Salcito.  I spent the whole conference using OneNote and enjoyed reviewing the notes later.  But, somehow they ended up being wiped!  That wasn’t good.  Since they, I’ve used Evernote but the recent news there is kind of scary.  Recently, I’ve been using Google Keep.  In this post by Mike Filipetti, he shares his discovery of Google Keep and how it’s made him productive and organized.

Don’t tell Google, but I use Firefox as my go-to browser and there’s a Google Keep extension there.  It works nicely and across platforms.

Certainly, it doesn’t have the many features of an Evernote or what OneNote is morphing in to.  But if all you want is a quick spot to keep notes, you might want to read Mike’s post and see if his logic applies to you.

Fridays are always so special to me.  It’s a chance to sit back and reflect on the learning that I’ve enjoyed courtesy of Ontario Edubloggers.  Thanks to all those who continue to share their thoughts, ideas, research, experiences online.  It’s appreciated.

Please click through and enjoy these blog posts and then have a wonderful restful Thanksgiving.