This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday.  Check out some great articles from Ontario Edubloggers.

Tweeting as an Organization

I think I’ve been insulted by this post from Royan Lee.

I’m part of the group that he calls an “underground party of misfits”.  Well, maybe it’s a badge of honour instead of an insult?  I can remember fighting to get Twitter unblocked; I can remember trying to get people see the value of connecting and learning on Twitter.  I probably failed more than succeeded at the time.  I’ll bet there are lots of dormant accounts.  In a technology world, we expect to get immediate gratification.  I’m sure that not all people “got it” at the time.  Success only comes when you work it.

As Royan correctly continues, things have certainly changed over the years.  I have to smile when I see people who “don’t want to see a picture of what you had for lunch” now becoming active.  What does it mean as an organization though?  Used properly, I think that it is absolutely the sign of an organization that is growing and learning together.  But, to be effective, it has to be more than just retweeting thoughts of others.  Are members also reflecting and creating new knowledge?  Are they sharing their professional reading and learning as a result?  Are they recognizing the best practices?  Are they promoting the great things that their colleagues are doing?

We Just Clicked

And, if you want to see it in action, check out this post from Diana Maliszewski.

I’ve mentioned so many times about how it can be lonely within a school.  Going outside the physical walls, using social media and the power of its connections, can result in amazing things.

You’ve got to check out this post – complete with a collection of Twitter messages to validate her message – and use it to convince anyone who questions the value of being connected.  When you make stellar connections like this, there’s no stopping you.

Diana definitely reinforces the message that you don’t need to learn alone.

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

Maybe this is the place to start.  Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a blueprint for success that begins at the humble staff meeting.

How many of these will you suffer your way through during your career?  This is a plan for engagement of staff who perhaps expected another sit and git and listen to the reading of recent memos.

Could it change the culture in your school?

Could it model what could be done if you decided to bring the concept into your own classroom?

Could it be a lesson for a principal’s course?

Conversations about parent-teacher interviews

It really is the season.

Here, Sheila Stewart pulls together older blog posts from Nancy Angevine-Sands, Rusul Alrubail, and me about our thoughts on parent-teacher interviews.  There were some interesting points about the process.  It might serve well as an inspiration or refresher before the next event.  Most teachers are getting ready for them over the next few weeks in the province.

Design Process Thinking: Mind Mapping

I’m a big fan of Mind Mapping.  I’ve used many mind mapping tools over the years and have had a lot of favourites.  Maybe it’s the fact that I learned how to program and document coding with flowcharts but the essence of what can be done is so powerful.  Consequently, I really enjoyed this post from Colleen Rose.

What was so powerful about this post, after setting the context, was Colleen sharing some of the mind maps that her students created and then reflected on each.

These show real evidence of complex thinking and connections.  Check them out.

Analyzing a Bike Rim in 5 Days

Alex Overwijk is on a mission to bring the practical and just plain fun and engaging activity into his MHF course.  It involved a trip to the local bicycle store for manipulatives and he effectively set the table for the students to “discover and experience more of the Trigonometry in the course”.

My original intent for this activity was to redo the radian plate activity and the radian war activity from this site. This is where I have grown. I am thinking what else can I do with this (thank you #MTBOS for #WCYDWT) This post reflects my creative juices in squeezing curriculum out of an activity. Hope you enjoyed. Honestly – this activity feels like what I envisioned for a spiraled course and wrote about back in 2013. #makeitstick #spiraling #activitybasedlearning #interleaving

The post is, in effect, a very complete lesson plan for the activity.  It can’t help but be a great deal of fun and learning for the students.

Why 50?

Have you ever wondered why the Bring IT, Together conference has 50 minute sessions?  Read this post to find out.

How’s that for a start to your Friday morning.  Great posts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and read the entire posts.

Have a great weekend.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, everyone.  I hope that today finds you in great shape with your classes after this short week.

Continue this happiness with some great blog reading from Ontario Edubloggers.


I was intrigued by just the title of this post from Rusul Alrubail.

Then, I had to check to see if I was on the right site.  This wasn’t written by her!  In fact, it was an introduction to a podcast interview between Rusul and Rolland Chidiac.

Once I got my head around this, I listened to this 45 minute interview.

It was indeed very interesting and I learned so much more about both Rusul and Rolland.

How Learning To “Get Down” Changed Things For Me!

Aviva Dunsiger wrote another wonderful post that was really a narrative and then a reflection on a real life experience for her.  The whole post is worth reading twice.  Once to understand the situation that Aviva describes.  Then, take a second read and inject yourself into the situation.

Would you be asking yourself the same questions that Aviva asked herself?

Would I have focused on punishment instead of focusing on solving the problem? Would I have seen this behaviour as “misbehaviour” versus “stress behaviour,” and would this perception have changed my actions? 

Riding Around Town

How can you not like a post that includes the words “I have a wonderful job”!  Sue Dunlop rang the bell with those words recently.

She tied her thoughts into International Walk (or Roll) to School Day.  I didn’t know one existed.  I certainly could never have biked to the locations that I needed to be at, for the most part.  But I suppose there were a few.

But, I’ve got to tell you — I had this vision of her flying down the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton.  My geographic knowledge of Hamilton isn’t all that good.  Would that area be classified as downtown?

Teaching cell phone photography

The title to this post from Brandon Grasley is almost as long as the post itself!  But, it’s well worth the read because there’s a link to his digital photography handout.

Race to Nowhere

While we’re on the topic of short posts, check out Royan Lee’s latest.

I watched Race to Nowhere with some friends. Here’s a little doodle about it.

I hope that you’re curious enough to click through and see his little doodle.


We’re getting closer to the US Election.  But, more importantly, we’re getting closer to the Bring IT, Together Conference.  In this recent post, Peter McAsh gives us a lay of the land for the sessions on Thursday and Friday.

There are really three things to fill your calendar.


  • the sessions
  • the keynote addresses AND
  • the social events on Thursday evening

Don’t plan to do anything else; make sure that you’re registered for everything!

Hopefully, you’ll find as much enjoyment in these posts as I did when I read them.  Please drop by and leave these wonderful bloggers a comment or two.

Then, check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

Some math help for everyone

Technology delivers on so many levels when you think about it.

How many of us can remember when “multimedia in Mathematics” meant using coloured chalk on the chalkboard?

And things like chalkboard protractors, compasses,  and straight edges to develop a solution on said chalkboards.  The two tools, combined together, were great in the hands of an experienced Mathematics teacher.  I can still remember some of the very best having the skill to draw a circle freehand, without the assistance of a compass.  I was so impressed with their skills.

As a teacher, you could start at one side of the chalkboard and work your way across the room.  Maybe there was even back to back Mathematics classes and the words P.L.O. would be left in big characters so that you could reuse the artwork!  But, when the class ended or when the chalkbrush did its thing, the multimedia went away.

Hopefully, that’s just a long ago faded memory.  With today’s tools, there are so much better and effective ways.

MathHelp is a commercial service that retails its services for those who need a little more help with Mathematics.  It may come to that.

However, in the category of multimedia, check out its YouTube channel.

Here, many Mathmatics concepts have been reduced to short, digestible videos .Click through and sample some to get the concept.

Using this strategy, the multimedia doesn’t go away.  Using any device, anywhere you have connectivity, the videos can be played and reviewed to assist in the learning.  In the privacy of their own learning space, students can play and replay and enjoy the learning without the embarrassment of having to interrupt the lesson and ask the teacher to repeat the concept again just for them.  How many students just don’t ask the question to avoid the situation of admitting to the entire class that they don’t understand.  Similarly, teachers who are looking for a different approach to a concept can see other teachers in action.

In these “days of the link”, it offers powerful support for learning.

But I’d suggest that you don’t stop there.  

The learning is in the making.

Why not create your own Mathematics channel?  You could do it yourself but, even more powerfully, have it created by students.  We know that we learn best by creating content; why wouldn’t it apply here?  

Instead of your typical mindless set of problems given for homework with the hope that solving the same problem five times will reinforce the learning, have the student create a short video explaining and developing the concept to be learned.  I think it’s obvious that it wouldn’t apply everywhere but certainly could be used in many cases.

It’s not an unheard of concept.  Check out Kyle Pearce’s collection.

Some resources:

There would be a learning curve to get started but, when you evaluate the benefits, it’s learning that’s good and will serve you and your students for years.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.

Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.

Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.

Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.

Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!

How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.

Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.

Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.

What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.

An important reminder

In the beginning, or at least close to the beginning, there was Yahoo!.  It’s still here today.

For many of us, it was how we searched.  Later, it was the best place to go for news.  It still is a terrific news portal and my dentist has it on the computer monitor to read while I’m waiting in the chair. 

Then, along comes the offer of free email.


How could I go wrong?

Just provide a little information in case you forget your password and your email account is created.  It’s just for you, and protected by your email and password combination.

What could go wrong?

Well, unless you’re hiding off the grid, we know today that many login credentials were stolen from the service.

Oddly enough, any story or even a mention of the situation was missing from the Yahoo! Portal today.

If you dig around enough, you’ll find instructions about what to do if you think you’ve been hacked.

There’s good advice there and also from this CNN report.

It’s good advice for everyone and certainly worthy of a discussion with students who are old enough to be signing up for internet services.  It is something to be worried about; if you’ve ever taken a course on ethical hacking, you know how powerful the good guy tools can be.  Can you imagine what the criminals have?

There’s plenty of advice about what to do when things like this happen.  It is important to secure that account – it’s not just your login and password that is at risk.  It’s every other system that you may have used the same information on and, if you truthfully answered things about mother’s maiden name, birthday, etc. a user profile about you can be created.

It’s also a reminder that, if you are self-hosting things yourself, you need to be constantly keeping things up to date with security patches.  For many of us who prefer not to get involved with that on an ongoing basis, using a service like WordPress which has a great deal more to lose than I do, makes so much sense.

In all this, I can’t help but wonder.  If someone broke into my house, I’d call the police and there would be an all out attempt to capture whoever did it.  What happens in these hacking cases?  Stories indicated that it might have done by a “state-sponsored actor”, whatever that is.  It would certainly be comforting to read a story that police or other officials are busy tracking this actor down.  After all, there are claims that this person is selling the information.  As they say on television, “follow the money”.

In the meantime, it’s just a wakeup to us all to do good things to protect our own information. 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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

Teaching as a creative act

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

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

Teaching is a Creative Act

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

I had to smile at this paragraph in his post.

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

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

Blog Challenge: Teaching as a Creative Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing Interests to Prompt Self-directed Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Interview with Matthew Oldridge

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

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

All my interviews can be found here.

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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


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

Will I see you there?

My Phone

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

As Royan notes,

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

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

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

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

How did I live before this?

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

Cover Artists

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

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

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

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

What is a Mindset, more specifically, a Growth Mindset

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

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

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

Teaching Hub: Post Two, Week One

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

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

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


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

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

Of course, there are varying levels to consider.

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

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

Teacher Learning and Leadership Program Project – Part 1

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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