This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and an opportunity for me to celebrate some of the wonderful pieces shared by Ontario Educators recently.

3 Ways I’ve Used Google Apps to Help my School Run a Bit Smoother

As I mentioned in my post last week, the Google Apps community is great for sharing the good things that they’re doing with Google products.  In this example, Jason To talks about using the technology to streamline things at his school.


Jason calls the examples “modest” but I would think that anytime you put together something that makes even the most routine tasks easier is worth it.  I’m sure that his list will continue to grow.


Reading and Writing Google Style

Speaking of Google…I feel awkward using the Google voice search for things.  The only time I feel comfortable is when I’m alone.  When I’m with others, people pause to look and wonder what I’m doing talking into a box.  So much for privacy.  Read Aviva Dunsiger’s post to see how students in her class are making out with this and see some of their observations.

The world panicked when the talk was about about dropping cursive.  What’s next?  Keyboarding?

I realized that most of the iPads and our two ChromeBooks have a microphone option. I showed the students how to use this option. My one minute lesson was all it took!

Physical phenomena for quadratic relations

Brandon Grasley is looking for real, physical examples of quadratic functions…

One of his examples appears below…

I’m intrigued by one of the other examples that he’s given in this post and he’s looking for ideas.

Hey, how about some experimentation with Hot Wheels?  The only downside I can envision is hate notes from the Driver’s Education instructor.

Reporting from the heart!

I don’t think there are too many teachers that enjoy report card time.  It’s a very work intensive time and I know that so many just labour over them like they’re creating a work of art.  Afterwards though, it’s relaxation time and then the cynical question “Do they even read these?”  There are even suggestion in some camps to ban them completely and just do interviews with parents.  But this is education.  We love paper.

There’s this mentality that they’re just read and discarded – a moment in time, if you will.

Sue Bruyns’ post about report cards takes a different look at them.

I found it interesting as to how they remain permanent artifacts in her parents’ place.

It’s just too bad that they take so long to create.

iGeneration – 21st Century Education

Tom D’Amico is a Superintendent with OCSB who really gets it.  This is link is a wonderful example of another way to share your learning other than the traditional blog.  If you follow Tom on Twitter (@TDOttawa), you’ll find references to great resources, not to just one or two focussed things every now and again.  Tom appears to have an open mind and is collecting resources in three ScoopIt! areas.

This morning was a perfect example of why you need to get connected.  This time, it potentially saved money.

Tom had shared a link to News-O-Matic which I then reshared so that it would get bookmarked and perhaps be a resource for others.  I got a reply about a $20 price.  To that, the News-O-Matic Twitter account had a response.

It’s a great lead.  Thanks, Tom.

An interview with Doug Peterson

Last weekend, I had conducted one of my online interviews with Sylvia Duckworth.    She jumped in and did a nice response to my questions and showed the power of our Ontario network by giving credit to others.  As soon as she was done though, she asked to interview me.  What could I say?  Paybacks are a ….

So, I did my best to answer her questions.  It was actually fun to be on the receiving end for once.  I know that, when you’re asking the questions, you feel like a bit of a stalker at times trying to do your research and pose questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and to appeal to the readership.

In my interview, I was selfish and really wanted the scoop about how to do Sketchnotes.  Sylvia claims that it doesn’t exist so I guess Lisa Noble and I will have to wait until we corner Sylvia and get her to teach us!

In the meantime, enjoy this Sketchnote that Sylvia created from some of the other interviews that I had conducted.


My compliments to those who continue to share their learning so openly online.  Please visit the blog posts above and check out the entire Ontario Edublog collection here.

In Case You Missed It

Unlike certain of my family members, I don’t sleep with my phone.  That saves me from the onerous task of turning the sound down or off if you leave it in your bedroom.  I can’t imagine a smartphone disrupting a good sleep.

A couple of days ago, I installed the Twitter client and told it to give off “Chirps” when a notification comes from Twitter.  That’s about how deeply I dug into it for the moment.  For the most part, I get a chirp every now and again and I take a look at it when I can.

Today, I’m going through my morning learning routine.  Doing some reading and sharing some of the best reads to Twitter in case others might be interested.

Then, I read this article.  “7 Real Ways Blogging Can Make You A Better Teacher And Learner” from FractusLearning.  It was one of the better articles about the rationale for blogging that I’ve read in a while so I read it twice, shared it, and then moved on.

Holy Cow!

Within about 30 seconds, my phone was going nuts chirping.  Was something broken on it?

It turns out that I didn’t dig deep enough with this new Twitter client.  In addition to getting a notification every time my name is mentioned, it gives a notification for every retweet or every time someone adds the message to their favourites.  The article seemed to really resonate with folks.

The seven “Real Ways” are:

  • Idea Generation
  • Community Building
  • Motivation and Inspiration
  • ….

You’ll have to go to the article and read the rest as well as the details that are fleshed out for each.  I just read it again.  It’s a really good article.  It reminded me so much of a presentation about reflective teaching that my friend Philip and I gave at a  CSTA Conference a couple of years ago.  (He called it the Doug and Pony show…)

The challenge from the author is to consider creating a blog personally, for your class, or for your school.

It’s not a big leap to take those seven ways and use them as rationale for students to be blogging.

The thing to keep in mind is that you’re blogging – not creating the next big epic novel or research paper.  It’s such a powerful tool and is easily done.  In addition to the seven ways itemized in the article, it’s a very tangible way of showing to yourself (and others if you care to) that you’re continuously learning and growing.  What more could a professional want?

The sad thing is that those who were retweeting and favouriting the original article or those of you who read this post already get the power of blogging or micro-blogging. 

My challenge to you would be to share the original article to at least seven people in your school who haven’t got on board yet.  It’s just a matter of forwarding the link or sharing it in your school’s online communal learning space.  Your school does have one, right?

If it matters to you, your learning network may expand.  More importantly, theirs may use this as a kickstart to get theirs rolling.


A Different Time

The story that malware was installed on hard drives was everywhere this morning.  Here’s an example.  “Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program”.  There’s no doubt that this is scary stuff, although the article indicates who and what were the targets of this software.  It still is something to be wary of.  Presumably, it’s in the “right hands” now but what happens if this technology is reverse engineered (and it will be) and falls into the “wrong hands”?  It does serve as a reminder to make sure that you are installing updates as they come along and run security scans on your computer regularly.  At present, it appears as though current technology wouldn’t catch this vulnerability but you just might catch something else hiding on your system.

This, and my masterpiece creation for calculating wind chill earlier this week reminds me that it wasn’t always this difficult.  Now that we’re connected so often and installing, sharing, and just visiting web resources, it’s easier to catch malware than it is to catch a cold, it seems.  As I was plunking around looking for the state of the BASIC programming language, I stumbled into this website, Vintage BASIC.  It is a reminder of the old days.

In the old days, one of the things that we were all so fascinated with was the ability to take this inanimate object and make it act like it was human.  The best way to do this was to have it play games.  If you long for those days, you’ll love the collection you’ll find here.

Now this is quality and classic.  None of this 3-D realism and surround sound that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the battlefield.  The program and your mind did the thinking and virtualizing!


And, you were safe doing it.

The programs were written in BASIC and you typed it into an editor and then ran it on your system.

In addition to developing keyboarding skills, you were learning a second language.

100 N=100
110 Q=100

If there was a statement that made your computer reformat your hard drive, you knew it immediately and just didn’t key it!  How’s that for the original malware checker?

Things were so much safer and black/white.

We didn’t have to be so paranoid but it wouldn’t enable things like Graham Culey’s “Targeted Attacks for Dummies”.

But we live in a completely different place and time.

When was the last time you scanned your computer for malware?

Digital Footprint by Sylvia

Sylvia Duckworth has created another interesting Sketchnote.  This time, she takes on the concept of a student developing a Positive Digital Footprint.  See the Sketchnote below…



The content for this comes from the Queensland Government.  I searched for, found, and hopped over to see the resource.

Sylvia actually used the resource for the elementary school student.  There are three resources there worth checking out.

What I liked about this is that it’s straight forward and to the point.  I’ve seen so many resources that go on and on and try to address each possible scenario online.  They’re so long that you just lose interest after a while.

On this Family Day, why not spend a few moments talking to the young online person in your house?  These are five terrific things to consider.

Teachers may wish to consider posting this in their classroom as a constant reminder to be safe.

You can check out all of Sylvia’s Sketchnotes in a Flipboard document here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

In a conversation with Sheila Stewart yesterday, she asked what Valentine’s theme I was going to have in TWIOE.  I went along with it although I had no idea what she was talking about.  As I started this post, I figured I’d better take a look back at last year.  I guess I did make a reference to it.  This year?  I’ve got nothing.  But, there were some good reads to share, none the less.

Moving Beyond the Elements and Principles in #ArtsEd
What are you doing this weekend?  I may poke around with Zeega. I’d never heard about this until I read Colleen Rose’s post about it.  She’s always doing really interesting things in the arts and I was hooked when she said “These visual remixes allow the user to form new meaning by appropriating material that is free to play with.

Thanks, Colleen.

Learning From Today

In a regular year, visiting southern Ontario from the north is probably a warmup experience.  Well, maybe this year I’m told that it’s still warmer here in the south but you can’t deny brutal.  Aviva Dunsiger and her students had some northern Ontario visitors and, of course, she blogged about the experience.  I never minded visitors – in fact my door was always open and people would come in periodically and watch.  I do recall a visit from a superintendent my first year of teaching.  She was in the school for other reasons and I guess figured she’d knock off one of my observation requirements with a surprise visit.  You’d never get away with that these days.  She dropped in and it was life as usual.  A group of students on the computers, another group working on a problem in the classroom, another group doodling on the chalkboard, and I still remember her comment.  “I’ll come back sometime when you’re teaching”.  Be still my heart.

Anyway, Aviva shares her experience and reflects on her classroom technology practice.  It’s a nice read with her observations.  I also enjoyed the comments to the post and added my own.

What a wonderful story and opportunity for your students, Aviva. There’s a hidden message there that I think needs to be spelled out. Many time classroom visitors get to come and see a special lesson. The students are like fish out of water and you can really tell that it’s contrived. Your blog post and Richard’s comment reinforce to me that everything there was natural and part of their daily routine. I think that’s important to note and it’s this success that others should strive to achieve. Congratulations.

Serendipity: The next chapter of my story

Serendipity is sort of like the weather.  We all experience it but do nothing about it.  Joanne Marie Babalis takes it on and shares a really intriguing story of how serendipity changed her teaching practice, involving teacher-librarianship.  And, the post certainly ranks as one of the most colourful ones that I’ve enjoyed.  There are pictures of her serendipity everywhere!

Selection_092Check out what bigger “plan” is in store for her.

AirDropping Files in the Classroom

File David Carruther’s post under a solution to a problem.  I’ve heard people complain and give up because the wireless connection isn’t strong enough or consistent enough to use OneDrive or Google Drive in the classroom and have just given up.  David provides another solution – use the AirDrop feature and explains how it works.


To me, this is one of the great things about social media and sharing.  Rather than give up, look for alternatives and then share the best of them.  I’ll bet that this solution would be helpful to so many.  (There may be people who don’t even know that they have the problem!)

The always controversial “RT”

Earlier this week, I had been inspired by Tom Whitby’s post and responded with one of my own. 

I think some people would be happier if there was a rulebook about how to use social media.  Well, there isn’t, so we’re making the rules as we go.  Sheila Stewart took issue with the use of the RT.

Selection_094It’s another example of the self-promotion that seems to raise the ire of some folks.

As I was walking the dog this morning, enjoying the cold blast from Thunder Bay, I was thinking about her post and tried to equate it to real face-to-face life.  Picture three people at Tim Hortons.  Person 1 talks to Person 2 and Person 3 and says “I really liked what Person 2 says”.  Person 2 turns to Person 1 and Person 3 and says “Did you hear that? Person 1 really likes what I say.  Let me repeat it for you.”.  Picture yourself responding as that Person 1 or Person 3.  I can’t imagine it working in real life.  Why do we expect it to work in our digital lives?  What does work though is to use the moment to extend the conversation.

Pondering Professional Learning

I hate it when I miss a good discussion and I missed this one about professional learning.


Diana Maliszewski recounts a rather long discussion about professional learning and its impact on her.  The content is great and it sounds like she’s taking an AQ course that she’s happy with.

But, I think that the bigger issue is that she’s writing about it, interacting online, crediting a learning network, demonstrating growth in her profession, and an ongoing commitment to getting better.  All at the price of free.  That’s the bigger message being delivered here.  Are those who do creditation watching?

Grade 9 Learning Looks Like This!

And now for something completely different!  I sure don’t remember my Grade 9 being anything like this.  It’s an end of class reflection in Julie Balen’s class.


Flip your way through the embedded Google Slides document to see some summaries of growth mindset and learning.  I like it!

Again, another spectacular week of blogging, sharing, and professional growth from Ontario Educators.  Check out these posts and all the great sharing from Ontario Educators at this Livebinder.

This Might Change Everything

Like many folks, I suspect, I’m a creature of habit in the morning. 

At least until the coffee kicks in and the dog is walked. 

I like doing some reading for my own purposes.  I’ve always done this and tucked the best of the stories away for future reference.  My Diigo account is the perfect place.  The stories are there for later research and also my first place to go when I need to do a search on a topic since I’ve already vetted the content.

For the longest time, Zite has been my go-to reading application in the morning.  A while ago, it was acquired by Flipboard but it’s still alive and well giving me my morning reads.  However, as noted in the blog post, it’s not going to be around forever.  I always lived in fear of the day that the other shoe would drop and I’d have to change things.

Zite is an application for the iPad and Android.  For my morning reads, I grab my coffee and sit in my chair and do my reading.  Like many iPad owners, I’m frustrated with the state of the wifi and the recent iOS upgrade did nothing to fix it.  The problem is well documented and the chain on the Apple Support Forums is the longest that I’ve encountered when I turn there looking for a solution.  I’ve tried all of the suggestions there but there are, quite frankly, days when I can’t use the iPad because of problems.  It’s not that it’s a long distance from the WAP to the iPad (maybe 25m?) and I do have a technique for at least a partial solution by orienting it in a particular direction but that’s not always successful.

However, there’s good news!  I’ve always known that I’ll have to move to Flipboard but that move may be sooner rather than later.

I logged in and poked around.  This really looks promising.

All my created content, of course, is there.

It’s not that I’m new to using Flipboard.  All the topic areas that I would normally follow on the iPad are there and ready to read.

The presentation is a bit different.  Rather than flipping through the stories like you would on the iPad, it takes advantage of the infinite scrolling ability of a modern browser.  I’ll need the discipline to set a limit on the amount of scrolling time rather than testing out the definition of infinite.

Most importantly, I’ll be able to ditch the iPad for reading and just use a laptop instead.  It doesn’t suffer from the wifi woes.

I am excited about this movement.  Zite has promised to incorporate some of its searching technology into the Flipboard product as part of the acquisition.  This promises to give the best of both worlds and, without the wifi frustration, what could be better?

That’s just about me.  This might be the tipping point for schools as well.  Rather than trying to maintain a webpage with new content, the school’s web person could create a Flipboard magazine for the school and flip resources and content there for parents.  With both mobile and web options, a Flipboard solution become readily available to everyone.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for my weekly walk around the province to see what Ontario Edubloggers are thinking about.  Keep on reading for some good stuff.

Blogging Beginnings

I got a referral to this blog from Jen Aston the other day.  Dawn Teffler has seen the light and is taking the leap into blogging.  It looks like the focus of her blog will be around the evolution of a traditional library to a contemporary Learning Commons.  The good thing about this is that there will be lots of helpers should they know about this journey.  If you’re a teacher-librarian yourself, hop on over and share some of your thoughts with Dawn.

I know that a school can be simply thought of as a four walled structure.  But we all know that it’s what goes on in side that makes a building a school.  I find it fascinating when I see pictures of people’s learning spaces.  No two are the same and there’s always something to be learned – “Why didn’t I think of that?”.  In this initial post, Dawn has provided a look inside for us to enjoy.


Whether you’re currently a blogger or not, please drop by and lend some support for her blogging efforts so that we can enjoy even more writing.

Thanks, Jen.

Thank you Eastwood Community: A Letter

As you read this, James Cowper is enjoying his last day at the principal of Eastwood Public School. 


James uses this post as a final message to the Eastwood community.  On Monday, he takes his enthusiasm to Kingsville.  Best wishes to him with the move.

Standards Based Grading GAMIFIED With Badges

Readers of this blog will know that I’m a fan of the concept of badges in education. 

There are thoughts all over the spectrum about the value and implementation.  There are some, quite frankly, dumb implementations.  You know that you’re on the right track when you think carefully before you leap.

In this blog post, Kyle Pearce does some heavy duty thinking about the concept and acknowledges the leadership from Jon Orr and Alice Keeler.  It’s a long post but deep in thought.

In the best interest of sharing, Kyle has created his own Google Document to illustrate his thinking in this matter.  Even the spreadsheet isn’t a quick read but certainly worth the time if you’re interested.


That science project photo

Who doesn’t hate science projects?  I suppose people without kids?

Sheila Stewart makes interesting points about science projects and her involvement and asks the question “Does it have to be this way?”

Is this a conspiracy with bristol board manufacturers?


I don’t have too many fond memories.  I enjoyed actually doing the projects but found that you’d spend about as much time again trying to make your project stand out and then the judges gave it a quick once over.  The whole process didn’t seem to make a great deal of sense so the question “Does it have to be this way?” really is a million dollar question.

Preservice Teacher Leadership In Action

Teacher candidates at Brock University recently had a great experience.  Camille Rutherford blogs about the day but doesn’t focus on the Technology showcase.  In this case, she focuses on the opportunity for the candidates to show off their leadership skills to an audience filled with members from outside the faculty.  What a great experience!


As you would expect, it was self-documenting with a Twitter feed and a collections of images displayed in a Google Slides presentation.  The interactive whiteboard is prominently featured but if you look carefully, it wasn’t the only piece of technology.

Thanks once again for all of the Ontario Edubloggers for writing and sharing their thoughts.  You can check out the complete list here and add yourself if you’re blogging and not already in the list.