This Week in Ontario Edublogs

There’s nothing like the first snow of the year to bring out your inner-Husky.  Now, having grown up in the snow belt, I know that it’s heresy to call what we’re experiencing this morning as “snow” but it’s the sort of thing that gets students here up and checking to see if buses are running or delayed.  Teachers have already done that.

Nothing says more than “winter in Essex County” than walking past the school that we do every morning and seeing the caretaker out in a short-sleeved t-shirt sweeping snow off the sidewalk for students and staff.  Or, Santa Claus arriving by canoe.

If you want one last winter-ish activity for the Hour of Code, check this out.

No matter what the weather is like where you are, I hope that you can take a few moments to read some of the great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers I ran across this week.

Preserve Our Language Project

When Stephen Hurley and I were discussing this on voicEd Radio, he noted that he hadn’t seen me this excited about something before.  It’s a true statement.  This is an awesome project and I found out about it by being tagged by Mike Filipetti last week during Follow Friday time.  I checked out the project and was just blown away.

So, here’s the deal.  When you get a new computer and set it up, chances are it will have an American English keyboard by default.  You can always change it for your preference.  I always opt for Canadian English.  I’ve also experimented personally with a Dvorak keyboard and it delivered as promised.  But, I dropped it for some reason.  I can recall a conversation with a French teacher who indicated that it was important for French students to see a French keyboard when they’re typing in that language.  Fair enough; that can be done easily enough.  Everyone should be able to keyboard in their language.

What if that language is Ojibway?  On my Macintosh, I’d be out of luck.  Scrolling to the Os reveals…


So, what excited me about this project was that one of the features that they’ve developed is an Ojibway keyboard and made it free to download.  Think it’s not a big deal?  Try this then – switch the keyboards in your class to another language like Persian or Polish and have the students come up with a workaround to be able to type in their own language.

I am excited about this project and some of the other things that you’ll find including videos.  Importantly, check out who all is involved with the project.

It’s a project worth following and please give them a little social media love by sharing this post.

5 ways to turn the ‘hour of code’ into the ‘year of learning’

This post, from Jim Cash, is timely for the end of Computer Science Education Week.  I hope that everyone had a chance to do at least an hour of coding with students.  I also hope that you’re asking yourself “What’s next?”

If you are, this post has some suggestions for moving forward.

I’ll share three with you here…

  • Learn to code by starting your own coding project
  • Think of coding as a literacy
  • Plan a design-thinking, project-based learning activity

You’ll have to click through and read Jim’s entire post to get all five.  His vision of coding as a literacy started an interesting discussion on Twitter.  Personally, I think that  if coding skills are going to become successful and valuable, it needs to be more than a literacy.  How about it becoming a fluency?

As the Hour of Code wraps up and people are thinking of great successes and next steps, ECOO is hoping to engage you in a Twitter chat next Tuesday evening at 8pm with the hashtag #ECOOchat.  I hope to see you there.

What EQAO Doesn’t Know

Just as Jim’s post was timely, this one from Peter Cameron is equally as timely given the Ministry of Education’s review of assessment and curriculum in the province.

This is a long post but well worth the read and to share with others.  Passionate educators will also pause to recognize all of the fallout from testing that certainly couldn’t have been predicted when EQAO was first introduced.

Peter’s post reminds us that there are more than score-buckets sitting in desks in Ontario classrooms.  They’re eager learners who have a whole year to demonstrate their learning in various ways for their teacher.  Yet, there comes that moment in time when they have a pre-determined about of time to write a test for someone else.

If this is deemed to be important, are we doing it properly?  I’d suggest that you forget the notion of the test when you read the post.  Put yourself in the position of the students that he describes.  Would you consider yourself fairly assessed?

Midterm Reflections: #BIT17, PD Day, Midterms, Student Feedback, and Tracking Observations

I had to smile when I read the title to this post from Amy Szerminska.  If I had that many concurrent thoughts, I would have broken it down into five different posts and schedule them for successive days.  There’s a whole week of blogging there!

It was confirming to read her observations of #BIT17 and the importance of connections. You know that Amy is not alone in her thoughts.  We’re more powerful educators when we make these connections.  Hopefully, school districts recognize this when an application is received to go to a conference.  Go beyond the title and what you have always thought about the host; think of the connections that go far beyond the conference.

What I really found interesting was the discussion around the Professional Development Day.  Embedded in the post is her presentation.


It’s a wonderful click through and those in the audience must really have appreciated the conversation that it would have generated.

Speaking of assessment, you have to love this student’s quote

“It’s weird but if I can negotiate my way to a good grade I don’t mind.”

LONDON GOOGLE SUMMIT: Presenting Google Classroom, Meet Entrepreneurship

In case you were wondering whether or not the Thames Valley District School Board was using Google or not, this presentation from Heidi Solway and Jason Bakker will give you a definitive answer.  I really do like it when presenters make their slide deck and other resources available for those who couldn’t attend to enjoy.

Ignite the passion in your classroom by developing your students into entrepreneurs through Project Based Learning (PBL). This project has students producing product, designing marketing, and handling sales at a Business Fair. We will share how to disseminate steps of the project via Google Classroom, having students manage their business in: Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, and Classroom. We will also touch on how students might create advertising pieces using tools such as Garage Band, green screen with DoInk and/or iMovie, Please bring a Chromebook or laptop.

Of course, the folks at Google might take issue with the final statement and the use of the word “or”.

The slidedeck links to a thing popular with the Google crowd right now – Hyperdocs.  In this case, they are worksheets to support the concepts from the project.

For the Office 365 folks, a big project like this could easily be adapted to using the O365 tools.

Classrooms Should Be More Like Trains

A “quiet table” in a noisy classroom is rather like a smoking section in a restaurant. I understand that the noise doesn’t stop when it gets to the table (oh, for the ‘cone of silence’!!) Ideally I’d prefer a room where students could go and work quietly if needed. Putting a table in the hallway or some other quiet corner of the school is also a possibility, but obviously supervision and safety is a concern. At the very least, the “Quiet Work Table” shows students that if they need quiet, that’s acknowledged and addressed in some small way.

When I read this post from Andrew Campbell, I recognized how fortunate I was with my classroom setup.  At the time, I had the ability to organize my students according to activity.

The main classroom had tables with movable chairs and wonderfully, a carpeted floor.  Behind us was a room that was supposed to host a mini-computer that never arrived.  It had tiled floor (which was great to avoid the static electricity from the classroom) and more tables to hold our computers.  Behind that was supposed to be the computer operator’s office.  It turned into a seminar room for my class.   And, of course, we had a hallway for additional organization.  All of the rooms had huge windows so you could stand in one and see what was happening in all three.  For those who needed another level of isolation, I was not against the use of headphones.

I really was fortunate.  Andrew makes excellent points and it’s a reminder that the traditional school design never really takes all this into consideration – how are you making for quiet spaces in your classroom for those that want/need them?

OTF and the Professional Learning Ecosystem

If you’re not aware of everything that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation offers, you will be after reading this post from Brenda Sherry.

I think that I knew about all of the various pieces that she touches on in her post but I’d never seen them arranged all together at once.  Looked at this way, it really is impressive.

TLLP – The Teacher Learning and Leadership Program
OTF Connects – live webinars in the evenings
OTF Summer Institutes – 3 day summer sessions
Pedagogy B4 Technology Conference – 3 days of learning
TLLP – Provincial Knowledge Exchange
Teacher Learning Co-op (TLC) – Collaborative teams

Are you aware of these opportunities?  Read Brenda’s post and then head over to the OTF Learning Page.  Check the left sidebar for even more!

Whew!  Yet again, this is a wonderfully relevant and current look at things from Ontario Edubloggers.  We’re so fortunate to have these people sharing their thoughts with us.

Make sure to add all of the above to your list of accounts that you’re following.

If you’re blogging and not in the list of Ontario Edubloggers, please take a moment to visit and add your details.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for our weekly wander around Ontario and see what great Ontario Edubloggers have been up to.  There’s always something great going on and this week is no exception.

Read on …

BYOD. It’s not about the device until it’s the device.

Cal Armstrong builds a case for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) but under certain conditions.

Left unchecked, he sees a world of increased stress for teachers who have to support a multitude of platforms and issues.  Things like what application should be used could be crucial to this without careful planning.  Of course, a concerted effort to put everything in the cloud could solve at least part of this.

At Appleby College, all students have the same device in the classroom so one instruction like moving to tablet mode is similar for all students.  He points to how easily he was able to solve problems like a lost stylus or a discharged computer.  It was relatively easy to solve since the “D” was the same in all classes.

It’s a post that should give planners some thought.  Could Appleby’s solution fit into other schools by taking the “YO” out of “BYOD”?

The quick and easy answer is no – the big reason being financial – but the post is still worthy of a read and a way to think about how to change the way that you’re working with what you have.  Is there a middle ground?

Make sure that you keep the “B” though.


This is a very timely post from ECOO Past-President Mark Carbone as we’re on the eve of Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code.  There will be many people taking on coding next week and the school’s Sphero(s) may get a great workout.

Mark tells a story of two different Sphero challenges and explains why he likes how the process has evolved.

What I like is the mindset behind this.

For many, the activity could be “one and done”.  This whole process shows how people are rethinking things and making the challenge better.  There appears to be more rigor in the second version (don’t tell the students) and they’re up for the challenge.

Can you say that you’ve raised the bar in your Hour of Code activities?

The End of School Resource Officers in Toronto District Public Schools

Paul McGuire isn’t afraid to share his opinion on the issues of the day.  The current issue is around the Toronto District School Board’s decision to remove School Resource Officers from their schools.

Paul’s logic is based upon his experience of using the officers for what he sees as a positive experience, giving examples.

There is another side to the issue, of course.  Not everyone sees the presence of the officers in the schools as positive.  TDSB surveyed their clientele to find opinions to find that there were concerns that the program had an adverse effect on certain students.  If we want to see all students succeed, we must make sure that all students feel safe and supported in their school and recommendations were made.

Now that the program has been cancelled, the challenge will be for students to act responsibly and prove that the decision made was correct.

The whole thing has been an exercise in media literacy as well.  Search the contents of Toronto newspapers and you will find differing opinions.  It’s an opportunity to bring this into the classroom and talk about perspectives and perhaps even writing letters to the editors to provide things from a student rather than an administrative perspective.

Conversations about culturally responsive pedagogy

Deborah McCallum, who has been featured regularly on #TWIOE, was the inspiration for this post from the TDSB Professional Library.

Deborah McCallum writes, “I question whether I, as a White, female, Canadian, English-speaking person, can adequately facilitate the increase of assessment scores in math for students who have different identities and cultural groups.

The response?

A collection of resources to help answer the question.


Are these books available in your own district’s or school’s professional library?

It’s Conference Time!

It certainly is.  The fall is the perfect time for some professional learning that you can take back to your classroom with an eye towards improving classroom practice.

Arianna Lambert agrees and uses this post to elaborate.

In it, she identifies three things from her perspective as both a presenter and as an attendee.

  1. The Power of Story
  2. Being Open to New Learning
  3. Network, Network, and Network

This time, I get to agree with her.

  1.  I’m always impressed when a speaker takes me on a ride with her/him as relevant stories are used to deliver the message
  2. I always try to seek out sessions that I suspect will challenge me and push my thinking.  I can’t see going to a conference to attend a session that delivers a message that I’m already confident in
  3. In 2017, networking is key.  The value of a conference today goes far beyond sitting and listening to one or two people.  It’s about making those connections with others.  It’s almost a shame to go home without expanding your network and then make it work for you far beyond the two or three days of the conference

Important People, Disembodied Participants and Fun in the Sun

For some reason, Diana Maliszewski decided to go to warm and sunny Phoenix instead of joining us in blustery Niagara Falls to attend a library conference.

Her post affirms Arianna’s point number 3 above and shares with us some of the connections that she made while she was there.

The Ontario connection though is heart-warming.  She takes the opportunity to give shout-outs to the best of Ontario Educators that came across during this conference experience.

Great stuff.

Are you on Diana’s list?

Learning is Social

In time to affirm the messages from Arianna and Diana, comes this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd.

In a course that she’s taking, she’s had to do some reading and reflecting on some articles.

She does this nicely in this blog post.

Social media connections serve to complement in-class connections as well. Students’ shared experience connecting with others can bring a class together. I have seen this happen on several occasions especially when time is given to reflect on the process.

The post wasn’t hard for me to read since I am totally onside with her message.

But I had to give a bit of a smile as I read.  What would happen if we changed every reference to “teacher” to “administrator” or “professional developer” and every reference to “student” to “teacher”?  Does the post now become a blueprint for more effective professional learning?

If it does, what doesn’t it happen?

Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers above.  Click through to their original posts and read their wisdom in their entirety.  You’ll be glad you did.

And, why not follow these people on Twitter?

If you can, join Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio on Wednesday mornings or repeated through the week where we use some of these posts as a launching point for discussions.

Clicking publish

Where do you get all these amazing ideas?

This was the start of a comment from Vicky Loras to my blog post of yesterday.  There’s a lot of value in that comment for me.

  • Yay!, someone is actually reading this blog
  • Yay!, someone took the time to comment
  • Yay!, someone found the idea amazing

Writing wasn’t always something that I did.  In fact, going through elementary and secondary school, I either loved it or hated it depending upon the mood I was in and the activity that we were supposed to be doing.

In fact, in Grade 13, it was a failsafe for me.  I only needed six credits so I took three Mathematics and three Sciences and threw in English just in case I wasn’t successful in any of the others.  I didn’t mind the reading part of English courses; it was the actual sitting down and forcing myself to write.  For some reason, I had no problem reading in stops and starts but writing was all about getting started and finishing in the same session.

At university and beyond, I avoided writing as much as I could.

It was only later, as a program consultant, that I had a conversation with a good friend who I noticed wrote everything.  He was constantly writing.  It was just for himself but, unlike me, he never dropped the ball on things.  I think I did because there was so much to remember.  I remember a conversation over lunch where he explained his theory about writing everything down.  Obviously, the biggest payoff was not forgetting things but he felt he slept better because he didn’t have to worry about forgetting things.  I took his advice and have been notetaking and writing ever since.

Today it largely culminates in blog posts here.  I’ve committed my early mornings to writing and scheduling a post until the sun rises and I have to do more important things, like walking the dog.  Documenting things has just become a way of life.

I don’t do it for the comments but I’ll be honest in that there’s always a rush when someone comments.  Whether it’s something like Vicky’s comment or a mention in Stephen Downes’ daily or a mention in a major news source calling me a “snooty blogger”.

Speaking of snooty, a Canadian blogger named Doug Peterson was discussing the quandary he experienced on Thursday night  when faced with the choice of watching the Cubs – Dodgers game, the Canadian Prime Minister debate, or the U.S. vice presidential debate.

You get to know preferences too.  It’s about half an hour until the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  I know Ron Millar hates it when I talk about Formula 1 racing.  I also know that Paul McGuire likes being in my TWIOE posts but I do have to spread the love around.  I really get pumped when I find a blog that I’d never seen before.

But, holy cow, people actually read this stuff.  There’s something humbling to think of all the blogs that people could read but actually come and spend time on mine.

I like that it’s become part of my routine.  I enjoy the connections that I’ve made and I like thinking about new things to write about.  Maybe I should have been a daily newspaper editorialist.  A great compliment was being invited to be part of the “Media” at a Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum by friend Alfred Thompson.

There are minefields too.  Heaven help me if I make a typing error and my editors at large are there to correct me.  Or, if I fail to schedule a post properly and I get a private message from a friend telling me that I screwed up somewhere!   (and you’re usually right, Aviva)

But back to the ideas?  To answer Vicky’s question, I think it’s because of the advice from my friend.  Write everything down so you don’t forget it.  So, if I’m walking, driving,  or reading and there’s something that catches my attention for a moment, I make a note to remember it.  These days not on paper but by talking to my watch.

Having done that in advance, when I sit down to write, I’m not starting from scratch.  In fact, the mind is an amazing thing.  It must be formulating things in the background because most of the posts just seem to write themselves.  I just have to let my fingers loose.

Blogging has become the latest release for this hobby.  I’m not on a mission to change the world or even one mind.  What was a serious task in school has now become just an enjoyable thing to do.  I think that’s probably why I’m such a fan of student blogging with their own goals rather than something laid on.

There’s just something really satisfying when you finish proofreading and click Publish.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Sit down, grab a chair and get ready, er, grab a chair, sit down and get ready for some great blog reading from Ontario Educators.

The Maker Movement: It’s about ‘making up’ your own mind

At the Bring IT, Together Conference, Peter Skillen and I had a chat about various things. One of the topics was about the wide variety of resources and opinions about good pedagogy.  Some are absolutely great and best of breed.  Some others are not as good and may miss the point.

In this post, Peter tries to address this by helping frame the concept of “making”

The maker movement is not only about making with electronics and coding. Building poems, art, music, mathematical solutions, etc. are all part of the maker movement. This interactive conversation will unpack how to create knowledge-building classrooms where students are empowered with “making up” their own minds.

and then providing a very nice collection of resources to support this concept.  If you know of Peter and his passion, you know that these will be the best of the best.

Spicy Snacks: On Daughters

It’s tough, as a parent, to turn on the news and take in the latest of the news stories.  If you’re a parent, part of the deal is how to grapple with this and explain it to your children.

Royan Lee has two daughters …

I have two daughters and they are the best in the world. They are courageous, kind, and don’t take crap from anyone (least of all me). I worry about them and all of our daughters.

The post features some great “spicy things” that support his concerns.

What’s nice is that Lisa Noble replied to Royan’s post and shares an equally as worthwhile link to read.

ECOO 2017: building your Edtech house on shifting ground

Earlier this week, I had shared my thoughts about this post from Tim King.

About software and branding

I stand by my thoughts in that post and I find it sad that we’re still having to have this conversation.  Wouldn’t you think that we would have come closer together in thoughts?

I’m sure that you have a thought about this; after all if you’re reading this, you’re a technology using educator.  Can you solve all the ills of the computer education world?  If so, read Tim’s post and drop off your solution via comment.

A Remembrance Day to Remember

This was a year for some very elaborate Remembrance Day observances.  Around here, there were horses and a huge collection of service people.  It was the biggest one that I can recall.

It was a first for Susan Bruyns in her new school.  In the post, she describes how the event played out at Sir Arthur Currie.

Despite the observances, it’s important to remember the message.  Susan captures it so well in the post.

We honour those who lost their lives in battles, who never had the chance to return to their children. We honour those who are currently fighting battles, who pray each day that they will be able to return to their children.  But more importantly we focus on Peace in the hopes that our children will never know the pain of loss of a parent as a result of war.

This reinforces the importance that we continue to remember in our communities and in our schools.

Web Content into OneNote

Taking notes on computer has always been a challenge for me.  I think I’ve tried them all – Evernote, Notes, Text Edit, and I’m currently revisiting OneNote.

I look forward to posts from Cal Armstrong about some tip for using OneNote that I might possibly use.  He takes the concept past the simple Post-It note sticker of years gone past, to be sure.

In this post, she takes about putting Web Content into OneNote using not one but three different approaches.

  • OfficeLens
  • OneNote Web Clipper
  • Microsoft Edge browser

I like the flexibility that his approaches shows and will be trying these out to see if they somehow are the silver bullet for note taking that meets my needs.

Don’t Tell Me What the Learners Are Doing

I felt a little bit like I was baited and switched in this post from Terry Greene.  He started out talking about the Open Faculty Patchbook.

It’s an open, online book where post-secondary instructors reflect on their practice.  I rather enjoyed reading the content.  The “Sheets Ain’t Cheats” story was a great description of me as a brand new teacher.  So many hours wasted memorizing lessons so that I could come across as educated and knowledgeable in front of the class without referring to notes.

I’ll bet that you find a story or two in there that describes your professional life.  I enjoyed it and was really impressed with the design and accessibility.  Then, I remembered that I had just been distracted by a click in the first paragraph and went back to the original post.  I was just so impressed by educators that were showing their openness in reflecting on their practice.

But, back to the post, Terry had changed the lay of the land.  He wanted more – he was more interested in learning how students thought they learned, not about teachers thinking about how they teach.


Are we clear with all stakeholders about why we are posting to social media?

Let’s be truthful.  The answer is clearly no.  Do we even know who “all the stakeholders” are?  Jennifer Casa-Todd uses this inquiry as an opportunity to respond and shares it in this post.

I was hoping you could help direct me.  I have small children in preschool and the school uses social media for their marketing purposes.  While a highly effective marketing strategy, I’m concerned with their lack of guidelines, considering small children are involved.  Do you have any resources you could direct me to which would help highlight do’s and don’ts in using social media as an advertising technique in schools?

Follow any school or teacher or district that uses social media for this purpose and look at it critically and you might want to answer that yourself based upon your observations.

Read the post to see how Jennifer responds.  Do you agree?

Speaking of Jennifer, she was the first “Featured Blogger” on the new ECOO website.   You can find more about her and what she considers her top five blog posts here.

I hope that you stuck with me as I looked at these very powerful blog posts.  There’s always something going on with Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take the time to click through and read the original posts in their entirety and drop a comment or two. These authors will appreciate it.

And, make sure that you follow these authors on Twitter.

If you can, join Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio on Wednesday mornings or repeated through the week where we use some of these posts as a launching point for discussions.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I always enjoy reading blogs from Ontario Educators and sharing them during this post.  It’s a constant reminder that there are so great thinkers out there and we’re so fortunate to have them sharing their thoughts with us.

Music, millenials and the lost art of curation

Tim King takes us back, way back, in terms of the way that we collect music.  Then, he gives us a history of music in his life from cassettes to CDs to streaming music.  Along the way, he notes that we may have lost something in the process – the deep tracks.  When you bought a cassette, you listened to all eight songs and enjoyed them all.  Now, with streaming, you just go directly to the latest hit.  And the service recommends what you listen to next.  Are we losing something?  I think so.  I can’t tell you how often my favourite song on an album never made it to the radio.

Streaming on the web contains some issues as well – distraction if you’re driving, and the cost of streaming which we know is high in Canada.

Where Tim dropped the ball though was he didn’t go back far enough – to vinyl records which just might be making a comeback!  And, to show that we didn’t always think outside the box, I saw something like this at a car show recently.

Record players were the infotainment systems of the 1950s and ’60s

What’s really cool about Tim’s post is the interaction on Twitter.  This post is now going to be considered a media resource for an AQ course.  I’m impressed.

Turning Reading On Its Head!

Speaking of Media…

I found myself thinking that my concept of reading is the same as Aviva Dunsiger.  I pick up a book, start on page one, and then read until I get done.

Full stop.

That’s reading.

Apparently not, as Aviva found out over dinner at the BIT Conference.

Michelle gave an alternative perspective. She said that maybe the problem is how we view “reading.” We’re looking at reading as “finishing a book,” but what about the reading that happens in video games? Some games require so much reading and thinking that completing a game would be equivalent to finishing an incredibly long book. And students need to read, and think about what they read, in order to meet with success, finish the game, and get the points.

I’m not totally convinced but there is a certain amount of logic that rings true.  Click through and read Aviva’s post and see where you stand.

Making Connections – Edcamp Ottawa, Voiced Radio, MADPD

One thing you can say about Paul McGuire – he’s not afraid to take a chance.

In this post, he shares his story about Edcamp Ottawa and the 75 educators there that spent a day learning.  It’s good reading and Paul identifies what he calls “new learning”.  In that bundle he includes voicEd Radio, MADPD, … The fact that the observation comes from an Edcamp adds that layer as well.  It wasn’t just the blog; he was podcasting from there too.

But there was one paragraph that rubbed me the wrong way and I called him out on it.

I would love to see some of the big school boards promote MADPD or Voiced Radio on their Twitter feed or take a leading role by encouraging their educators to take part in these new approaches.

My challenge is with him identifying only big school boards.  While they may be big in organization, the typical teacher is most impacted by the work world around her/him.  So, in a school with a school population of 500, does the need change if you’re in a large board or a small board?

I hope not because when you look, it’s all about professional growth for individual teachers and the learning that happens with that one student.

Creating the Conditions to Empower

I’m not a real fan of Ignite formats as it seems to me that they’re the exact opposite of engagement with an audience as the presenter focuses on getting the message out in the  time limits and according to the speed of the slides.  Very often, a good message can get lost in the technicalities.

But, never lose the sight of a good message and David Carruthers had a wonderful set of content for his Ignite talk.

  • Don’t Lower the Bar to Meet Diminished Expectations
  • Publicly Celebrate Achievements
  • Connect to the Heart by Cultivating Relationships and Instilling Trust
  • Lead by Example
  • Listen to Concerns

There’s some terrific ideas there that would be awesome for a full blown presentation with lots of give and take with an audience.  He breaks out his thoughts about each in the post.

BIT17 Non Conference Observations

After the BIT17 conference, Eva Thompson fired off three blog posts outlining her experience.  Any one of them would be good enough for a conference report to her supervisor and I’d encourage you to read them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post of random thoughts from a conference.  I pulled out four that really resonated with me.


  • Elevators
    • Me too.  My hotel had five floors and over the course of the event and going in and out of the hotel many times, the elevator was NEVER on my floor.  Now, I get that it might not be on the fifth floor where my room was but you’d think just once it would have been sitting on the ground floor.  And then it was slow too!
  • Sitting in the last row of the theatre
    • That’s absolutely me.  Particularly if there’s a speaker that I want to hear, I like being able to just focus.  And, there’s something creepy about taking notes on your computer with someone looking over your shoulder.
  • Chocolate chip muffin for breakfast
    • Why not treat yourself?  Family’s not there to see that you’re breaking the rules a bit.  That’s my rationale anyway.  I did pay attention this time; there were so many IHOP restaurants in Niagara Falls.
  • My laptop bag is not comfortable
    • I have a knapsack and a pull bag.  I prefer the pull bag that follows me on the floor.  I typically have two of three computers and the chargers that go with them.  They’re really heavy.  Don’t criticize me – I see others who shift from shoulder to shoulder to ease the pain.  If you get good with the pull bag, you can easily get on and off an escalator without breaking stride.


8th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit 150

If you weren’t able to attend this summit, Zelia Capitão-Tavares shares a pretty inclusive summary of the day with links to the speakers.

It sounds like a typical day where “futurists” were telling the audience everything that’s wrong in education and how “change starts with you”.

The real meat for me in this post were the comments from Zelia’s students.

As each of the speakers shared virtually or live on stage, my students attentively listened to the messages, making connections to their own experiences and reflecting on potential for changes in their own environments. Sure, I smiled every once in awhile as they turned to me and whispered, “Ms.T we are already doing this”, “Ms.T you have already set us up with these choices”, and “They are talking about our classroom”. However, our side discussions were more intriguing as they asked questions of clarification, “why are they saying only star students get to do things”, “what do they mean by pockets of innovation”, “why do teachers teach to the test” and “what does teaching and learning in silos mean?”

Are these speakers out of touch with the realities today’s students face?  Maybe these students need to invite them to their classroom to get a dose of reality.  Good teachers ARE doing these things.

I hope that Ms. T. took the kids to McDonald’s or for ice cream afterwards. What great comments.

It sounds like they truly get it.

How many do you see? (Part 1)

I love this post from Mark Chubb for many reasons.

He starts with a picture of a Grade 2 geometry activity.  It’s pretty straight forward.

All he asks is a simple question.  Pick a shape and report how many of them you find in the picture.

In the real teaching world, you’d just turn to the back of the book and get the answer.  Would you actually do the activity yourself?

But the responders to Mark’s post are all teachers and they have many different answers and takes on the question.

Now, let’s go back to the concept of testing where you’re not looking at a process – just to get the right answer.  After all, this is mathematics, right?

If teachers have all these questions, how can we possible blame a child for being confused?

I hope that you’ve stuck with me this far.  It’s yet again another great week of reading.  Please click through and read the entire posts and drop off a comment.

And, join Stephen Hurley and me Wednesday mornings at 9:15 on voicEd Radio where we chat about some of the great posts of the week.

Leaving, wanting more

I’ve been fascinated with web analytics.  For me, it started when I wanted to do a bit of analytics on a website that I had created.  Well, at the time, it really wasn’t analytics.  I just wanted a counter to count the number of visitors.

I turned to Google to provide the tool through their Google Analytics.  What fascinated me at the time was that, yes I had a counter, but also the huge collection of everything else that the tool provided me.  I had no idea.

As we now know (hopefully) this whole concept has been enhanced and tracking and privacy is a huge concern.  Your phone knows exactly where you are because it has to so that it can connect to its network.  That knowledge can be used by other services for various things.  Your computer knows where you are if you’ve ever used any location service i.e. maps or you check in with any social media accounts.

We all know, again hopefully, that services follow your computer around as you interact with things.  Facebook is one of the current concerns.

So, it was with great interest in this field that I went to Michael Geist’s keynote address at the recently concluded Bring IT Together Conference. “From Opportunity to Responsibility:  Law and Privacy at the Intersection of Technology and Education”.  I was looking forward to answers, insights and recommendations.

Geist addressed the concepts of Access, Copyright, and Privacy.  And, he addressed the topics/sub-topics nicely.  If you were new to some of the concepts and were paying attention, you certainly would have left with a much better knowledge.

For me, because of my ongoing interest and with working with awesome teacher-librarians over the years on issues dealing with copyright and privacy, I think I probably was aware of most of the issues.  I’m hesitant to use the word knowledgeable because that certainly implies a different level.

Yet, I still left the keynote wanting more.

I’m aware of the issues.  I wanted answers.  I wanted advice for both personal and classroom use.

  • Is there a secure browser that could be recommended to address privacy and security issues?  I’ve always been a fan of Firefox but even Firefox supports addons for more security.  I supplement with Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, Disconnect, and HTTPS Everywhere.  Is that enough?
  • Firefox 57 (at least the Quantum pre-release) is fast and Mozilla claims to be your friend in privacy/security.  The short tutorial about the Private Window is impressive. Shot 2017-11-12 at 1.11.08 PM

  • Is Google really the bad guy because its relies on gathering information and everyone else wearing white hats because they don’t?  Or do they?  How do we really know?
  • With schools buying Chromebooks that use the Chrome browser, what are the issues for use in the classroom?
  • How do we stop all these web sites that follow us around the web?  Or is it not necessary to stop them?
  • With school districts moving so many resources to the cloud, what are the issues and concerns?
  • Is there a search engine that we should use that respects our privacy?  Does Duckduckgo really not track you?

Or, may there just aren’t any answers…

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This edition of the post is just a bit special.  It comes from my hotel room in Niagara Falls on Day 2 of the conference.  Day 1 was unique for This Week in Ontario Edublogs.  Stephen Hurley and I had invited five of our regular blogsters to a live discussion of their blogs at the Minds on Media event.  Technologically, it didn’t go perfectly.  From a human point of view, it was far beyond my expectations.  I felt that the people we invited were very confident, proud of their blog and very true to the message that they delivered.

Why a Tech Conference Might Just Be The Best Place To Fail!

So, right off the top, here’s a description of what happened from Stephen Hurley.  During our show, he discovered that we weren’t broadcasting live but hoped that there might be a recording anyway when he got home.

Sadly, there wasn’t.  Here’s a description as to what he thinks went wrong.

Best quote in the comments came from Aaron Puley

I actually just retweeted a tweet of a school sign that said something along the lines of “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying” (or something along that lines).

The best thing as I blogged yesterday was that all of the planning gave us a big picture look at things and we hope that we get the opportunity to try the concept out again soon.

My #VisibleLearning Around Pedagogical Documentation

First up on the show was Aviva Dunsiger.  She was also running a station of her own at Minds on Media devoted to blogging and messaging with social media.  What she does has become second nature for her and the families of her students.

You never know when a blog post might come from Aviva, but one thing that you can count on is a flurry of activity from her at night as she documents the learning that happened that day in her classroom.  Many examples are included in her post.  Like this one…

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.46.27 AM

I like how she’s challenging herself to consider the time spent on the class blog versus the time she wants to blog professionally.  Is there a working compromise?

Success and the Field Trip

We were delighted that Eva Thompson could attend the conference and agreed to be on the show.  It was very late when she got the confirmation that she could go but that’s OK.  The important thing was that she was there.

In her post, she talks about a 20 hour field trip from Sarnia to Chatham to Ripley’s Aquarium to the CN Tower and Canada’s Wonderland and back.  Phew!  I get tired just thinking about it.  If you’ve ever taken a group of students on a bus, you’ve got to have a great deal of empathy.

Eva asks how to judge success.

She offers a great selection of criteria that she considers in deciding if it’s going to be a success along with some personal reflections.  I’ll admit; there were a few ideas there that I hadn’t considered.

The writing that makes her blog so unique comes through loudly and clearly.

Stephen and I met one of our goals – we got Eva Thompson on the radio.

#Hyperdocs …. or, like, just a OneNote

A while back, on a Sunday post, I had asked Whatever happened to … webquests?  At the time, the internet was young, access was spotty, computers were limited, and people really were truly just learning how to search.

The idea behind the Webquest was to use information and not necessarily find it.  It was one of those uniquely pedagogical ideas courtesy of Bernie Dodge.  Then, Webquests kind of faded from our teaching and learning conscience.

Recently, though, the premise has resurfaced in something known as a Hyperdoc and Google using people are going nuts about it.  Cal Armstrong read one of the fansites about it and realize that there wasn’t anything Google-y about it.  True! Heck, we used wikis and websites for our original Webquests.

Cal writes about an alternative in this post and it comes as no surprise that he offers a OneNote alternative.  After all, the document is just a launching point to resources.

But, and this is a big but, there are two real advantages of using OneNote.

  • You can still do it without internet access
  • Since students can’t see each other’s private sections, they don’t know if you’ve modified the reading level for some students – can customize for various students

These are two huge reasons to engage with this platform.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and one size fits all.  If your school is using Microsoft products instead of Google, you should be all over this.  If not, you might want to give it a shot anyway.

In the post, Cal shares a link to a document that he created in OneNote.

Get Outside and Play!

I love this post from Ramona Meharg.  Not only because she’s a country girl and proud of it but because she reaches to a very important concept.

It’s particularly relevant when you consider that she’ll be doing a presentation on the Internet of Things at the conference.  Technology is not the answer to everything.

The Thames Valley District School Board is foresighted enough to have outdoor learning centres and Ramona describes an outing to Jaffa.  She sees it as very important for city kids to realize that there’s another world and these visits lead to great exploration opportunities.

There are awesome pictures and a story to go along with them.  By itself, that makes the read worthwhile.

You have to check out the picture of the beetle!

I’m glad that I had the chance to talk with Ramona.  Until now, I had just taken a guess as to how to pronounce her last name!  My only regret was not asking about why she uniquely formats her posts the way she does.  Maybe today or tomorrow.

Show me the math!

And, finally, Jim Cash takes us on a coding trip.  It comes as no surprise, I hope, that I would want to invite a coding blogger to the event.

Jim describes an activity that he uses with students to draw geometric figures on the screen.  I congratulated him on not doing the square example that you see so often.  Students need to know that there are angles other than 90 degrees.

If we stopped there, there really isn’t anything that distinguishes this post from so many of the others that you might have seen with drawing using Scratch.

But, Jim takes it over the top from there.

He describes about how he talks to the student about the program and, in particular, the mathematics involved.  In Jim’s class, just drawing something doesn’t mean being done.  The student needs to be able to describe what she’s done.

It doesn’t stop there.

Students are then moved to their blog where they write a post about their activity.

“I’m going to write my blog post now,” Marie said. She knew that was always part of the process and a reflective blog post was a requirement not only for consolidation but also for later reflection during a future time when this experience could be used, transferred, incorporated, remixed, and so forth.

If you’re using Scratch in the classroom, read this post and see how you can raise the bar with your own teaching.  You’ll be glad you did.

If you weren’t in the audience at Minds on Media or, even if you were, please click through and drop off a comment to these wonderful bloggers.  They accepted the challenge and all did a marvelous job.

If you’re a blogger yourself, put yourself in their shoes.  They’re sitting in the “hot seat” – on one screen is an image of our questions; on the other screen there’s their actual blog post and we’re asking/talking about their thinking in front of a group of their peers.

My thanks to them for taking the risk and being part of this.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I hope that they did too.