This is why we do it


I was actually out of town yesterday but my phone was still connected to back home. It was getting a workout with notifications.

The whole thing started innocently enough…for me anyway.

It was in last Friday’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs post here that I took a real interest in a post by Debbie Donsky.  She had a rather long title for it “Listen with Compassion and Act with Love The Roles We Play and the Impact We Have as Educators“.  It was a rather long post, consistent with the length of the title.

It caught the blog reading eye of Aviva Dunsiger who shared her thoughts…

… a nice reply by Debbie…

As a result, Aviva was inspired to write a post based on her thoughts inspired by the original post.

This Is My Story. What’s Yours?

I enjoyed reading both posts.  They represent the thinking of two passionate educators.

Stepping back from the posts, I can’t help but think about the bigger social media part of all this.  I know Aviva personally and through her interactions online; I know Debbie but only from her thoughts that she elects to publish.  I can’t comment on whether the two ladies know each other.

But what made this all happen?

It wasn’t like the two of them happened to sit down together at a school staff meeting.  It wasn’t even something more social than sitting together at a coffee shop.

Instead, it was one person who decided that she would share her thoughts with the world.  Then, it was another person who happened to find the post, promoted it, and then was inspired to write a blog post of her own.  It’s the sort of professional dialogue that education has wanted to have for years.

How many times have we all sat in a lecture hall or district provided PD and listened to a certain extent to someone who talks, gets their money, and then goes home?  Interaction optional.

This whole interaction between the two of them wasn’t passive.  It was incredibly interactive and brought anyone who was connected into its midst.  Although my phone was beeping and vibrating, I couldn’t be part of it in real time.  It was only when I got home and got caught up that I found it.  That’s OK too; we can’t be online 24/7.  If you weren’t part of it on Sunday, follow the links above.

I can’t help but ponder over how many other great thoughts and sharing goes on; but by policy or choice, it resides behind some school district’s wall of protection.

Had Debbie originally written and posted her thoughts that way, the world would never have had the choice to read and reflect about her message.

Both messages didn’t get vetted by a superior officer and there was no disclaimer that “this message doesn’t reflect the values of anyone else”.  It was just two professionals speaking from the heart.

Isn’t this just a great wakeup message for those making decisions?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday, everyone!  It’s time to take a wander around the education web as seen though the keyboards of Ontario Edubloggers.  And, once again this week, I had a discussion about what I had collected at that point with Stephen Hurley on Voiced radio on Wednesday.  He pushed me to do some thinking about the topics and you’ll note his influence, I’m sure.


Quebec City Vigil

The first post is on a serious topic.

Jennifer Aston happened to be vacationing in Quebec City when the attack on the mosque happened and it was so close to where she was staying.  The post should have you rethinking just what we are and who we are.

I can’t imagine what this parent with her family was thinking about at that moment.  Thankfully, she wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There’s wonderful advice here.

But we have to do the opposite of that.  We need empathy not indifference to fight the fear mongering that is relentless in the news these days.  We need to build bridges, not walls…


Listen with Compassion and Act with Love

This post, from Debbie Donsky, will challenge your beliefs as an educator.  She sets the stage with this statement of her personal belief…

Every child who is in our care, every caregiver who steps through our doors, every staff member who supports the important work we do, has potential to change the trajectory of another person.

Into the discussion, she brings a different perspective dealing with helicoptering parenting.  She challenges an article and its take on parenting.

I found myself agreeing with her.

Hopefully, when you’re done, you’ll be checking your own sense of empathy.


Always Prepare for Teaching; Always Prepare for Surprises

This post from Enzo Ciardelli brought a smile to this Computer Science teacher’s face.  But first, his experience.

I do not want to downplay the importance of precise planning. I can recall a huge sign in teacher’s college that read: “Those who fail to plan also plan to fail.”

Trite advice from a Faculty of Education!

But we all paid attention to it.

How does it look in reality?  You’ll smile as you read his discussion of “reconciliation” with his students.  His amazement is a reminder that, no matter how hard he planned, he didn’t see the discussion coming.

In Computer Science, you plan thorough lessons.  There will be times when you work through a problem with a class, modelling what you think will be the best way and algorithm to solve the problem.  Then, you give them a problem to solve on their own and in a class of 25, you might end up with 26 different approaches.  Were they not paying attention?

The bottom line is to remember that you’re teaching students – not machines.  Everyone has their own baggage, er, perspective and good teachers will not be blindsided by those surprises.


What do you choose to learn about when you’re not at school?

Brandon Grasley starts this very short post with this interesting question that led to a discussion with one of his students.  It culminates with an appreciation for curiosity.

Every teacher is in a position to customize any lesson for students.  It’s what separates real people teaching from computer teaching.  Why wouldn’t you take the time to understand their interests and modify your lesson to embrace that?

But, let’s go further.  Why wouldn’t a teacher share with students just what it is that they’re learning when they’re not at school.  The easy answer would be to talk about lesson preparation for the next day.  But what about personal interests?  Why wouldn’t you want students to know that you’re studying for a Masters degree, learning how to curl, understanding how to knit, trying to understand how a new programming language works, …

Imagine a classroom where everyone is recognized as a real human being constantly learning – and not just at school.


Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had

I remember my Grade 13 Calculus teacher.  I’ll admit – hey, I’m proud of this; I did well in mathematics.  On one exam, I got 99%.  I missed one little thing that stopped a perfect score.  She took the time to comment.

“You Idot”!!!!!

Spelling mistake hers!  I guess that you can take a spin on what the intent of her comment was.  I kept that exam in a filing cabinet for years until a spring cleaning saw it head to the recycling bin.  Regardless, I always thought that if I got a chance to teach mathematics, I’d want to be like her.  But I’d check my spelling.  <grin>

Kyle Pearce takes the time to review this book written by Tracy Zager.  Actually, his review isn’t about the content; it’s about the author describing a number of different ways to read the book.  My first thought was that it might be a good book study for mathematics teachers.

In my discussion with Stephen Hurley about this, he made reference to a report that he co-authored for the Canadian Education Association. Teaching the Way We Aspire to
Teach: Now and in the Future.  It’s a very good read.

Of course, Kyle will want to teach the way that a certain university professor modelled for him.


Positive or Negative: There is always a choice

I now have confirmation that Jennifer Casa-Todd is a better person than I am with her recent post.  As the father of two girls, I took huge offence to the comment and hashtag #dresslikeawoman.

She notes, “The easiest response is to take offence”.  I guess I took the easy route.

We did share this thought in common “What does that even mean?”

Jennifer takes the time to put things into her own context and shares her own thoughts.  In the meantime, I was still stuck on the words.

The post has some interesting supporting likes and Jennifer created a Storify document to accumulate some of the comments from the hashtag.


The message from the top educational systems in the world

This was a new blog for me to read.

Bill Ferguson does a nice summary of the educational messages from his reading.

The countries I looked at are almost always near the top of the educational standards lists. Finland, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, China, Shanghai, Taiwan, and Poland among others. All have amazing similarities.

I found it a very interesting read and found myself agreeing with most of what is contained in the post.  It doesn’t come as a surprise since Canada was on the list.  It’s an interesting inclusion since education in Canada is a provincial responsibility.

The post concludes with some recommendations.  I’m not sure that I agree with all of them; they add great financial expenses onto teachers but if systems agree that they’re important enough to do, they should find a way to make them affordable.  Or, even better yet, as a part of the professional learning program.


The Teaching Hub: Week Six, Winter 2017

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I’m a big fan of being open with professional learning.

This post from Fleming College shows that they’re out in the open with plans for their upcoming Teaching and Learning Day.

Take a moment to check out their agenda for the day.  It’s got to be comforting to read that they’re dealing with the same issues that you are.


I always say this but it really is an interesting collection of reading from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take a moment to drop by these posts, do a read, and then add your thoughts via comment.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday!  Are you looking for some great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers?  Look no further; here’s what I caught recently.


“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?

Royan Lee offers his thoughts about mental health.  His personal history on the topic I’ll bet mirrors most everyone’s.

He concludes with a powerful promise to his kids.

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On perhaps a less serious bent, is it a coincidence that Ontario report cards are done during the “Let’s Talk” event?  It is a stressful time for educators and sacrifices are made to get this task done.  Aviva Dunsiger notes her compromises in this post “My Blogging Break Is Over … And It Will Not Be Happening Again!”  It’s a thoughtful post with an additional thoughtful reply.


The Case for Teaching Integrated Skills vs Separate Subjects

Deborah McCallum writes an interesting essay on this topic.  It’s not a quick and easy read but will get you thinking.  A common message is “we do it for the kids”.  We do it for success in “real life”.

How much of “real life” is presented in distinct topics.  A well rounded citizen takes everything on and not just having a focus on a particular thing before moving on to the next.

There is a strong message when you look at a school timetable where each separate subject is given the same amount of time.  Does this honour the fact that some students need differing times to understand?

For many, the current focus is on specialist teachers for subjects like mathematics.  This post may help you frame a different approach.


Safer Internet Day – what will you do?

Helen DeWaard reached out to me to help promote the concept of a Safer Internet Day in Canada.

So, here it is.

To support the cause, she’s asking us to use the hashtag #SaferInternetDayCA.

If you want to get involved, and who wouldn’t, this post provides a large number of resources to help the cause.  There’s some great stuff there.

What are you doing for Safer Internet Day on February 7?


From Grade 8 to Grade 9

I’ll blame Heather Theijsmeijer for a sleepless night after reading her post itemizing everything that is “new” when a students moves from Grade 8 to Grade 9.

It brought back so many nightmares for me.  We had a Grade 8 teacher who told us that we were going to have problems when we went to “collegiate” even though our secondary school hadn’t been a collegiate for years.

I also remembered Initiation Day where we had to wear our mother’s nightgown and were forced to do the bidding of the Grade 12s and 13s if we were caught in the halls between classes.  A valuable lesson learned was that classrooms were safe havens!

Her post addresses so many of the concerns students have or shortly will have.  Are schools and school districts addressing them?  Sure, there are Grade 8 nights but does that do the trick?

School realities extend beyond that as well.  What about schools where Grade 7s and 8s are already members of the secondary school for accommodation issues?  Or schools where students go from Kindergarten to Grade 12?    Or IB programs?  Or even a choice of schools?

It’s not easy being a kid these days.  I guess we had it so much easier.


RESOURCES TO TEACH ABOUT THE #MUSLIMBAN

Many educators are often afraid of discussing “controversial” issues in the classroom. The word “controversial” here puts a shroud on many relevant topics, such as politics, daily events, history, social justice issues, equality, and many others.

This quote, from Rusul Alrubail, should be the motivation if required to talk about the current reality falling from the executive order from the United States president last weekend.

I’ll confess; I never really paid all that much attention to the fact that things like this can be done without going through regular government channels.  It did bring back a memory of the Canadian War Measures Act.

Living near the border makes it a frequent news story here.  So many people need to cross the border just to get to work.

In the post, Rusul provides a nice collection of resources if you’re looking for somewhere to start.  Obviously, I can’t guarantee this, but I’ve always found her open and responsive to questions.


Au Restaurant: Menus

Thanks to Jennifer Aston, I was recently made aware of this blog from Bruce Emmerton.

He presents an interesting approach to authentic learning – restaurant menus.

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What wonderful opportunities we have in our connected world.  I can’t remember the last time that I went to a new restaurant without checking them out online first.  Why not turn the process into a learning experience.

How’s this for the inspiration to learn “Read and understand or go hungry”.


TED Ed in the Classroom

Have you ever used TED in the classroom?  I know that many of us have learned so much and have been so inspired by watching a TED video on a particular topic.  It’s been a terrific platform for so many who have a message or lesson to share.

Will Gourley writes about how to use TED Ed in the classroom in this post.

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Separate sections devoted to TED Ed Clubs and TED Ed Lessons are sure to give you background to think about working in this realm.  A link to the TED lesson editor will be of great value.


Free images done right

This is a post that appeared on this blog.  It introduces readers to an image search and attribution service that I think would work nicely for some students to do so properly and as an introduction to referencing properly.

While I think it’s a great concept for the classroom, Stephen Downes doesn’t. He calls it “free images done wrong“.

You’ll have to be the judge.


Yet another wonderful week of great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take a moment or two to click through and read the entire messages and drop them a comment or two to let them know that you appreciate their work.

Whatever happened to …


… Netscape?

From the Padlet.

The actual rich history of Netscape, and its browser, can be found in the Wikipedia article.  There’s really no purpose for me to rehash the actual history of the browser here when something more formal exists.  It does have an interesting history including its impact on the use of the web and related technologies.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the impact that Netscape had on me.

When the web was young, I poked around with some of the earliest browsers – Mosaic, Lynx, Internet Explorer, … under Windows.  In our reality, there was no other operating system for computers.  Even though my internet connection was statistically slow by today’s standards, it was fast and almost magical to me.  With a few keystrokes, you could be at any of the few internet websites and were immediately smarter with content.  For the most part, everything was text based and advertisement free.  It was all about the reading; interactivity was just a dream.  It was very different than what we experience today.  My go-to browser was Lynx.

If you really wanted photographs, you had to download them and view them offline in a different program.  The very best of content creators used ASCII art – enjoyable from this collection site.  It’s worth a visit and poke around for a couple of reasons – first, it confirms how far we’ve come and, secondly, if there is any doubt that there are creative people, it comes through with what’s possible given the restriction of ASCII characters.

I was drawn to Netscape for a couple of reasons.  After the amalgamation of school boards, I had to get serious about also using a Macintosh computer which meant finding software for both platforms.  It was a real bonus when you’d find something that was cross-platform and Netscape fit the bill.  The other driving force was a desire from our Director of Education to have a website for the board.  Well, there was a whole new skill set that I had to learn.  Netscape was perfect since it wasn’t just a browser; it was also a web editing program.  Not only that, you could do your email right in the browser rather than a separate program.  What a wonderful experience!

The web was young and developing.  From my perspective, this new web that included images had two players – Netscape and Internet Explorer – the first Browser war.  The odd part was that they had differing standards.  It became very common to see pages labelled with “Best Viewed by XXX” where XXX was a browser.  It actually became necessary to have more than one browser on hand to get the complete browsing experience!  For nostalgia purposes, this Google search gives a nice collection.

Once the board had a website, schools and individual teachers wanted to have their own online identify and, as the prod above says, many of us went about the work of teaching folks how to develop a webpage and then how to upload it to the server.  This was well before the Ministry of Education licensing of Dreamweaver and easy to use systems like FirstClass or WordPress for an identity.

We also ran an interesting project for schools that was labelled “Women in Technology”.  It was the genius of a group of women working at IBM where they would visit a school and work with middle school girls and develop a website.  We weren’t near a city with a big IBM presence so we invited women from the community to work with the girls.  The takeaways were many – just talking to mentors about what they did for a living, developing a website without the boys there trying to take over, and then doing a presentation to the group afterwards to show off their learning.  I would be there to help with the setup but when the event happened, the boys were off to do other things without their female classmates.  I still remember a comment from one young man “This is racist“.  It was a teachable moment to explain what it was and what it wasn’t.

For the purposes of the day, the web tool in Netscape was excellent.  It had a low learning threshold and the results were pretty impressive.  In some cases, the groups went on to develop their own class website and helped out with the school website.  The real message was to not close any doors to the future and consider everything.

If you read the Wikipedia article, you can see that there were a number of takeovers of Netscape and it did become just a fond memory for some users while other browsers rose in popularity.  Today, the Netscape brand is an information portal available here.  A download link will let you have your own copy but it’s not wise.  The web has developed so many standards and, quite frankly, requires a modern browser with all kinds of security built in to it to make sure that you’re safe when online.

These days, we reap the benefits of the early browser wars while the new wars rage on.  Today, I use Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge depending upon the mood and what computer is at hand.  As with Netcape’s beginnings, today’s browser is more than just a browser.  They can do so much more and, with the power of extensions, even more. We all benefit from innovation.  Could you imagine working with just a text browser now?

So, it’s over to you this Sunday morning.

  • Did you ever use Netscape for browsing or as a web editor?
  • What is your choice of browser today?
  • Do you have a web presence?  Do you start from scratch, program your own, or use some form of a content management system?

Please share your thoughts via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts.  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your ideas.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday.  It’s time for me to share some of the wonderful reading from the fingertips of Ontario Edubloggers.  Read on and click through to read some exceptional blog posts.


Sick

There may well be more information about sickness and being sick in this post from Debbie Donsky than you would ever want to read in one place.  I waffled between smiling and getting worried about myself.  I’m certainly glad that I took the time to get the flu shot.  Now, if I could only shake this persistent cold and cough.

My worries are grounded in my insecurities about my worthiness, ability, strength and body. I have heard that if we don’t listen to what our body needs, our body screams back at us. Hopefully this time I heard it.

She shares her thoughts about sickness and a support network that’s in place.  It’s wonderful that that network exists and I hope that things work out for her.  Do you have such a network?


Stop the Insanity – Redefining Success For Exceptional Learners

An embedded thought that runs through this post from Laurie Azzi is that of “YET”.  For everyone, there is that moment when “YET” is met.

Albert Einstein spoke to this reality when he said, “ Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

There is no YET for that fish and for some students, there will be no YET unless we redefine what success means in the education system.  We need to redefine what it means to be a reader and writer in this digital age.

Laurie speaks to the need to understand what “YET” means for every student.  As long as a standard is defined that applies equally to all students, there will be those that never reach it.  This post, including the story from Helen Keller and a powerful moment of insight, will get you thinking and hopefully gain an insight as to just what success might mean.


Developing Thoughts on Multilingualism

Jennifer Aston concludes this post with this thought.

We are not a “melting pot”.  We have the right to practice different religions, celebrate different cultures and speak different languages in Canada.  And if I can borrow the idea from a colleague from a few years back, we’re more like a salad.  We can retain our identities.  While French and English are important, we also need to recognize that we are more than this.  So how can we reflect this better in our school system?

Given what’s happening in the world at this time, it’s a very profound message that should make all pause and feel good about being a Canadian educator.  But, are we doing enough?  So many efforts have gone into promoting bilingualism.  Do we stop there?  Thoughts from the post dig into Danish, Oneida, and Arabic.  What is the cultural price to be paid when a school system chooses to overlook?

You’ll leave this post thinking.


The inauguration in my school library learning commons

Why indeed would an Ontario school choose to broadcast the inauguration of a United States president?

Alanna King addresses the “why” from a literacy perspective.

Living on the other side of the U.S. border has its challenges for a small town teacher-librarian.  While we dance around the idea of Canadian identity and what that means when our culture is represented, Canadian publishers in all media forms are still driven by American markets and American values.  So populating a library with well-loved material of  CanCon isn’t always what pleases the staff and students because we’ve been  gorging ourselves on the fire hose of American content.  But the direction of Trump’s politics is certainly affecting my library just 150 km from our border.  It is our mandate to give equal weight to the voices in my school respectfully, responsibly and compassionately.

Alanna concludes by confirming to us that she made the right choice.  The questions of inquiry from the students are very important.  If they follow through looking for answers, it may be the most important civics lesson that they learn this year.

There’s a big renewed interest in George Orwell’s 1984.  I wonder how many copies are in Alanna’s library.

Want to read it online?  Check it out here.


Doing It For The Likes

The opening question from Matthew Morris is something that all teachers who deal with technology in the classroom must come to grips with.  Whether it’s school computers or that little invasive device in their pockets, there will be times when you don’t have their undivided attention to the current classroom task.

What do you do when you teach a classroom of students who are more concerned with the number of likes they get on a selfie than the number of percentage points they earn on a math test?

If there ever was an insight into the rationale that we need to blow up what schools have traditionally done, it comes through loudly and clearly in his post.  Sure, we give lip service to embracing technology but how effective can it be if only done every now and again, a school district chooses a set of tools that were designed for a generation ago, contemporary tools are blocked from entering the building, …

I’m not sure that we’re looking for students to “like” a lesson delivered via an LMS (although the concept is intriguing), there’s a strong message here that all need to read and relate to their own reality.

Do we need to offer more of this?


Beyond Shapes

This was a new blog for me to read this week.  It deals with mathematics and coding and this article is written by a teacher candidate at Western University.  There’s a very comprehensive report on the experience of teacher candidates working with teachers in Thames Valley to investigate coding in their classroom. It sounds like an awesome experience for all.

The post concludes with this…

While creating shapes in Scratch works as a tremendous introduction to coding, the potential in Scratch extends much further than simply movements and drawings.  It’s easy to be tricked by its simple, colourful, block based user interface, but the fact of the matter is that Scratch is a powerful tool with endless possibilities.

I think this nails the experience for so many.  It’s easy to hop on the “Hour of Code” bandwagon or have an expert come in to work with teachers and/or students for an hour or two to check off the box that says “We did coding”.  How many times do you see a Twitter message or a superintendent let everyone know that “we support coding”?

If it’s going to make a substantial difference and have an impact in the classroom, more digging is required.  Is your system just doing it for the moment?  The real impact will only come when a committed effort is made to ensure that there is ongoing and persistent professional learning opportunities for all.  Every school district has a Computer Consultant and/or teacher coaches devoted to technology or mathematics or literacy.  What have they provided for you lately?


#1 Trick for Beating Procrastination

Have you noticed how your most insightful and creative ideas that have nothing to do with your work only come to you when you are on a deadline? For example, in the middle of you working on your project, suddenly it dawns on you that you need to wash all the dishes in the sink or else you can’t work on your project.  Or you glance at your home office and notice it’s too messy and it needs a vacuum right away.

I thought I was the only one that this happens to!  It happens to me all the time.  I thought it was just me being easily distracted.

Now, I can add Shadi Yazdan to the group.  How about you?

I like the trick that is described in the post.  It may well be worth a shot.

In the time that it took to write this, I think I have about four or five ideas that need addressing….


Wow!

Yet another wonderful week of reading and inspiration from Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take a few moments to click through and read the original posts.  There’s a lot of good thinking there.

Beyond Blogging – Aviva Dunsiger


As mentioned on Monday, I’d like to try something a little different so please hang in there with me.

You know that I’m a big fan of Ontario Educators and their blogging efforts.  I have no intention to drop that because there are so many that have poured their deepest thoughts into personal blogs and continue to do so.  A look through the Livebinder will show you the wit and wisdom of so many.  It continues to grow and I fully intend to continue with my Friday TWIOE posts.

But there are some great things that appear other than in the traditional blog.  I’d like to take this week to identify and share other media that is being used to share thoughts.  It’s certainly not complete but should serve as a nice inspiration for you to consume and, hopefully, branch out to something different for yourself.

Since we’re in education, we know that there have to be rules.  So, my rule in order to make this list was that you have to show evidence of doing multiple things in the media.  I think we’ve all done one ofs.  Those are experiments.  Do it more frequently and it becomes a series and makes it eligible for this series.  Hey, my blog, my rules.


Many educators use Twitter to share what’s happening in their classroom with the world.  It’s a way for parents and friends to get a glimpse of just what is happening .  These can be wonderful memories for families and a nice start to the conversation “What did you do at school today?”  It’s a way to challenge the response “nuthin” because you have visual proof!

For all the ease of Twitter, its power is seizing the moment as it happens; looking back over a period of time can be a difficult chore.  Particularly, if your timeline is full of content from everywhere.

This post from Jenny Luca has alway stuck with me – especially the image.  Evolution of an Information Junkie

If you follow Aviva on Twitter, you know that she is involved with conversations all over the web.  During her working hours, she is indeed providing educational stories and imagery from her classroom.  If you’re a parent, you can just leave your Twitter feed set to Aviva and you’ll get a good idea of how the day went.

Seriously, though, who has the time or inclination to do that?

To help the case, Aviva uses the power of Storify to memorialize each and every day that she calls Marvellous Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, Wonderful Wednesdays, Terrific Thursdays, and Fantastic Fridays.

Storify is a very powerful utility.  I’ve used it in the past to collect Twitter messages for a conference, as an example.  Rather than weave your way through message after message, Storify presents it all at a single link.  In my example, it was easy to extract messages from so many different people because they had all used the same hashtag with their messages.

In Aviva’s case, every day in her classroom has been captured here.  https://storify.com/avivaloca

Personally, I think this is a technique that many people could make use of.  It doesn’t have that steep of a learning curve and you have everything captured for as long as you want.

The immediate benefit is the sharing with others that can happen.

But it could go further.

You could take a look back and reflect on an event, series of events, or learning experience and make plans going forward.

Imagine going into a performance appraisal, job interview, or a parent/teacher conference with all this evidence of learning in hand!

Beyond Blogging – Alice Aspinall


As mentioned yesterday, I’d like to try something a little different so please hang in there with me.

You know that I’m a big fan of Ontario Educators and their blogging efforts.  I have no intention to drop that because there are so many that have poured their deepest thoughts into personal blogs and continue to do so.  A look through the Livebinder will show you the wit and wisdom of so many.  It continues to grow and I fully intend to continue with my Friday TWIOE posts.

But there are some great things that appear other than in the traditional blog.  I’d like to take this week to identify and share other media that is being used to share thoughts.  It’s certainly not complete but should serve as a nice inspiration for you to consume and, hopefully, branch out to something different for yourself.

Since we’re in education, we know that there have to be rules.  So, my rule in order to make this list was that you have to show evidence of doing multiple things in the media.  I think we’ve all done one ofs.  Those are experiments.  Do it more frequently and it becomes a series and makes it eligible for this series.  Hey, my blog, my rules.


Alice Aspinall

This morning, I’d like to focus on the works of Alice Aspinall.  She is a secondary school mathematics teacher and apparently loves the subject.  At least, that’s what her YouTube handle says.

https://www.youtube.com/mrsalovesmath

Recently, she reached 100 followers of her channel which enabled her to have the custom URL.  So, congratulations on that.

The focus of the channel is to solve mathematics problems – from beginning to end and record/explain every step.

I’m impressed with this work at so many levels.

  • First of all, it can be difficult to go from beginning to end without making a mistake.  Any teacher who has ever tried to solve a problem in front of a class at the chalkboard knows that.  (How many of you have used the line “just checking to see if you’re paying attention” as you erase a mistake)
  • Unlike the traditional short video of 30-60 seconds, a complete mathematics solution can take some time.  Most of her videos fall in the range of 4-10 minutes as demonstrated here.  Try replicating what she’s done and you can’t help but be impressed.

  • Her printing is perfect.  As a terrible writer any more, I’m impressed with that.  In addition, you’ve got to appreciate her ability to write in a straight line on unlined paper while explaining the solution.  Throw into the mix keeping an eye on the recording to know when to adjust the paper to keep everything in sight and there are many possible points of failure!

The result is a nice collection of explanation videos.

How to use them?  There are a multitude of ways.

  • introduce a concept
  • students can review the procedures at home
  • students who don’t “get it” in class don’t have to embarrass themselves by asking to have it explained again
  • students who miss a class for whatever reason can use this as part of their catch up activities
  • flip the classroom using content on her terms
  • and I’m sure that you can think of other ways

There are huge benefits for her students in the explicit instruction that is given.  There’s also another message here that’s important.  Anyone who takes the time and considerable effort to pull this together must truly “love math”.

Her students will be the immediate users of this content.  But, because they’re online for all to see, you can use these as well if they’re appropriate.

You can follow Alice on Twitter at @aliceaspinall.