An annual event, this year’s Computer Science Education Week is December 7-13. It’s an opportunity to work with students to either introduce or push them further in studies dealing with Computer Science Education.
As we know, it’s been a strange year and so it may not be possible to order those kits of micro:bits or robots or even get down on the floor to do the traditional programming activities that might be done at this time of the year.
That’s OK. We all get that. However there may be other opportunities. First of all, the big question is “Why Computer Science?” and the answer has never been so seemingly obvious. My go to resource is Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed. I first heard Mr. Rushkoff at a CSTA Conference in New York City. I’d like to say that he changed my life but I’d always been of that philosophy and could never understand why the Grade 10 Computer Studies course, at a minimum, wasn’t required for graduation.
What student today doesn’t pack a powerful computer in the form of a smartphone in their pocket? At the very least, they should be able to program that device and make it to their bidding.
At his website, Rushkoff even includes a study guide to accompany his book.
Here are a few more resources to supplement and help the cause.
Just recently, Peter McAsh alerted me to a resource created by Amanda Deneau showing the connections to the Ontario Curriculum.
A couple of years ago when I was president of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, Peter Skillen was good enough to create a resource we called #ECOOcodes. It’s not currently linked to any of the menus but you can access it directly here. From Peter’s blog, there was an insightful post about why the topic should be addressed “now“.
The CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) along with a group of other associations have developed a website to support teachers for the week. The focus is on Social Justice and opens with a panel discussion on Monday night. In addition to all the resources shared, there is a collection of downloadable posters.
Canada Learning Code
This is full of ideas and resources to support Learning Code and more. They recognize the varieties of ways that students, teachers, and family are connected and learning in these times and have you covered. Their highlight is Digital Citizenship but poke around for more. Registration is required to access some of the resources.
Hour of Code
It may well be that the Hour of Code may be one of the resources that leap to mind when you think of Computer Science Education Week. The content here continues to grow and has so much covered.
CODE to LEARN at home
A Canadian resource, they have been very active with online webinars and philosophy about programming with a wide scope with a little something for everyone. There are some really unique ideas here.
Maybe the granddaddy of them all for programming at all ages is the Scratch resource from MIT. It just continues to grow and is rich with all that is available to and created by the Scratch coding community.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to the micro:bit for your class and students, there are some really amazing interactive opportunities and inspiration for programming.
I think it’s quite obvious that the collection above is certainly not all-inclusive. If you can think of a resource that should/could be shared with a wider audience, please do so in the comments.
I’m still saddened by the lack of Hallowe’en things in parts of the province as laid out by the Premier last week. Hallowe’en is the last fun event before Christmas and was always a day that I looked forward to as a child. Even in areas like around here where we aren’t the recipient of the mandate from him, everyone is encouraged to find alternatives.
Since it’s a Friday, I’d like to share with you some great blog posts that I read recently and would encourage you to check them out yourselves. As always, if you’re an Ontario Edublogger, let me know; I’d love to add you to the collection.
If you follow Aviva Dunsiger on social media, you know that this time of year, she follows the “Snails Across the Curriculum” resource. Amidst all this, she shares a story about the importance of time and how she and her partner are reminding each other to slow down so that students have more time on task.
It’s an interesting piece of advice but I’d like to see it further extended that their classroom.
Personally, in these COVID days, I find myself rushed all the time. And for no particular reason. In normal times, I linger while grocery shopping and I impulse buy; I like to browse the aisles at the LCBO; and, as I’ll talk about later, I’ll spend all kinds of time wandering bookstores when we’re at the mall.
These days, though, there’s none of that. I’ve got the floor plans of any place I’m going in to memorized and I’m basically in and out with what I had planned to do. Nothing more or nothing less. I haven’t even experimented with a new wine.
Aviva’s post and her stories about snails have got me doing a personal reality check. Maybe it’s time to slow down a bit and think about what I’m missing while I’m in such a rush. The things we learn from snails.
For Lisa Corbett, the month of September flew past. I’m hearing the same thing from all kinds of people. With all the angst that abounds, schools are now in the second month of the educational year.
Time flies when you’re having fun!
She shares some of the ways that she plans for curriculum – on her own and with personal experiences – and some of the things that have been covered in the mathematics classroom. I was a bit surprised when she talked about the use of manipulatives; many others are finding more pen and paper ways of doing things. But, we know from past experience that there’s so much more insight that can be had with hands-on activities. Yet, it’s not life as usual with them as she describes the nightly routine that she goes through to make sure they’re disinfected for the next day.
Next up – robots from the Education Centre. I wonder how you sterilize a robot?
As I read this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd, I was reminded of an incident in my first or second year of teaching. I was walking outside the English hallway and met one of the teachers.
Me: “How are you doing?”
Him: “Why? Do you really care?”
I don’t recall what my response was but I hope that I was nice. I shared the experience with a colleague who left me know “Oh, that’s so and so”. He’s like that.
For me, it was never like that before or since. The moment still sticks with me as a result.
I still will asked people how they’re doing when I run into them. I do kind of care.
Jennifer’s post reminds us that it’s important to do these check-ins and they’re obviously much more serious these days. She shares her thoughts about the importance of doing this and also a Google document template that you can borrow and modify to make it unique to you. It’s certain to take on more importance as more classes go online. She’ll even take you to the level of mindfulness and its importance.
I hope that it’s reciprocated and that friends and colleagues are also checking in on Jennifer.
I felt compelled to include this post from Melanie White since she mentioned me! and also came down on the side of Elizabeth Lyons and centred writing!
But, I’ll be honest; I’ve read the post probably a dozen times and I’m sure that the message that she intends still eludes me.
Despite that, there still were some takeaways for me – I now know the word “chiasmus” although I’m not sure how I’d use it – and I really like the paradox that she talks about with her Grade 12 students and
the ability to intellectually hold two contradictory ideas which can both be simultaneously true;
That pretty much sums up two party politics in a nutshell.
Maybe if I’d become a librarian, I would have had some better insights to the rest of her post!
Speaking of Elizabeth Lyons, this post outlines another cheat of hers in the “one word” for the year activity that many educators take on. She’s already diverged by insisting on “one word” per month for 2020 except for October where she’s taking on the two words in the title to the post.
And she rationalizes it nicely.
Imagine being a teacher-librarian in a school. In a normal year, you’re fully booked with classes coming in for research, book exchange, readings, technology, and teachers coming in for curriculum planning assistance.
The traditional isn’t happening this year but Elizabeth is still trying to make a similar or better impact this year. The opportunities may not be as scheduled or as planned but moments that they become available are her opportunity to make her presence known.
This post from Matthew Morris might have been about me. It was his observation of an older white man in a bookstore. Matthew shared his thoughts about just what this man might be.
I checked so many of the boxes.
blue jeans. Absolutely. I don’t know that I actually have any others anymore except for some really dressy ones for fancy occasions. Except, my wife would never iron my blue jeans
plaid shirt. Maybe, although since the weather is cooler these days, it’s more likely a sweatshirt but definitely something comfortable
grey hair and glasses – check
cottage – no
mid-size sedan – does a Ford Fusion count? Check? I bought mine used
football – yes; golf – not for years – a real divergent here
green lawn – yes, but by dumb luck; I don’t water
retired – check
Matthew was surprised to see this man in the “community and culture” section. That could be me. For me, book stores are a place where I can go without an agenda. It’s just a nice place to spend time and just wander aimlessly throughout just looking at book titles and covers.
The part that I think that went missing was that Matthew didn’t stop and talk with the man as it sounds like he wanted to. I can’t help but think that that was an opportunity lost for both of them.
But that would be too judgmental. I put myself in Matthew’s shoes and I could understand standing back and doing nothing.
Matthew’s post brought back a memory of this one from Deborah Weston. I’m wondering that if my comments about Matthew’s post don’t come from within my own personal Invisible White Backpack.
My knowledge of my family tree doesn’t go back very far, nowhere near what she describes in the post. I know where three of my grandparents came from – Denmark, Germany, and Great Britain and that’s about it. It never occurred to me in my younger days to dig deeper and maybe that’s because it didn’t matter. I was born in Ontario and I like to think I fit in nicely into my community.
As Deborah’s husband notes:
He knows that White people have more privilege and “it has always been that way.”
I found it interesting to read Deborah sharing her heritage and her understanding about appearances and fitting into society. A great takeaway from her post though are the activities and resources about the topic that she shares.
Please do take some time and read the blog posts from these great Ontario Edubloggers. There’s so much there.
Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter.
July kicked off the summer months and This Week in Ontario Edublogs was there to enjoy the day. On the voicEd Radio show, guest Amanda Potts joined Stephen Hurley and me for the hour. You can listen to the show via Podcast here.
Our guest Amanda Potts took us through this very personal post. Because of the issues happening in the US and indeed, Canada, at the moment, people are taking the time to write about their feelings and sharing their own view of their personal privilege.
There was an interesting reflection on her view of the difference between n0n-racist and anti-racist and we had a chance to discuss that on the show.
In the post, Amanda shares two wonderful stories and paints a vivid picture in each. One was about a student whose mother kept her at home when she got angry to keep her from getting into trouble. The other story was about accidentally assisting a person who she had cut out of her social media life. Of course, both were learning experiences.
Throw in reference to a couple of podcasts on the topic and it’s quite easy to see that she has done considerable thinking about this.
It’s a long-ish post and very rich in content. I’ve read it a few times now and fine something new each time through.
One of the truly remarkable things about being a teacher is that, in a thirty year career, you have 30 different starts and stops to your workflow. I can’t think of any other job that can make that claim.
School is full of routine. We know that students succeed better because of this. And, because teachers are there every minute, they run through the same routine, at least while at work.
I can recall the end of school years gone by. You run for an entire school year living and breathing the routine of daily life. Then, on that last day, it all changes. The school year routine goes away FULL STOP and summer begins. Some people take the first week or so to kick back and relax. I always liked the concept of continuing with the energy and going on a holiday or attend a conference at the first of July.
As we know, this year is different. Lisa Corbett claims that she has a lot to do and shares some of it with us. She admits that, upon proofreading, she found her post “aimless”. As a result of teaching at home, the home part continues, sans students. I hope that her family helps reset her priorities.
That was what I needed to reset my school brain so I was ready for summer brain. Somehow I need to convince my family to do this on Friday night.
She does call the post “aimless” and I can understand. I also suspect that there are thousands of teachers that are feeling the same way and will need to kick start the summer months differently somehow this year.
As I was doing the show yesterday, I looked at the title and noticed the spelling mistake. I thought that was odd and that I had typed it incorrectly. But, Larissa Aradj, it was a copy/paste job from your post.
The post is about a terrific classroom activity that uses a Google Slide presentation to provide choices for students to select, based upon what they might find should they beat Brandi and Jarrod to win a locker.
What was unique about this was Larissa didn’t share her original template. Instead, another teacher, Leslie Mott, had taken Larissa’s concept and ran with it and Larissa chose to share Leslie’s idea in her post.
That stuck me as really unique. So many of us create and share concepts on social media. But, do we ever get a chance to share what someone else did with our idea? (Think about it for a second) It seems to me that this is how good ideas become great as a result of community improvement.
There actually was a bit of discussion on Social Media where Leslie identified Larissa as a mentor and a sharer of great ideas. I’ve been in a PD session led by Larissa and completely agree.
Well, this has to be one of the more emotional blog posts that I’ve read in a long time. Many of us have dealt with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s incredibly tough.
As much as I had to deal with it, it pales to the way that Judy Richards is. I had the advantage of being face to face, hand to hand, hug to hug. I can’t imagine the pain of being locked outside looking in at someone who is locked inside dealing with it.
Staff do try to make an effort by doing the communications via iPad thing but assuredly, it’s not the same. That’s even true if both ends of the communications are effective users of the technology.
There is a brigade of fire fighters caring compassionately for my mom, doing their best to comfort her, and keep her safe.
The above is actually two posts from Cal Armstrong. I know that it looks a bit messy with the formatting but I don’t want to point to one without pointing to the other.
As I read both posts, I’m impressed with the support that Cal is providing for staff members in this. Lots of details, lots of screen captures. When I worked with a group of CAITs, we did this a lot and called them “One Sheet Wonders”. The rules were to make it clear, make it efficient, but keep it to one sheet of paper so that people are able to easily follow through the concepts.
In this case, Cal is showing readers how to connect resources using Microsoft’s Flow. I like his analogy to IFTTT which has been around and so functional for so many people. The comparison is immediately obvious.
Both examples were really easy to go through. The first one shows how to easily manage Microsoft Social-Emotional Check-In via Forms through to Excel and the second one features how to be smarter than Excel. (Cal’s words)
I know that many people are really handy with Forms. They’re probably equally as handy with Excel. The value from this post comes from showing how to connect the two, making you that much more efficient.
As a result of the COVID virus and the Learn at Home initiative, a lot of people are thinking about a lot of things that are happening and things that are hard to make happen. In this post, Arianna Lambert thinks about things that maybe shouldn’t be happening at all.
She got me thinking of my own high school. At Grade 12 graduation, I got a School Letter. In Grade 13, I got a Major School Letter. The “Letter” wasn’t actually a letter; it was actually a crest of the school mascot. At the time, the school mascot was a profile view of a character that we wouldn’t even consider these days. The school has since changed its mascot retiring this one. If only professional sports teams would follow the same lead. Getting a letter was important at the time. It was one of those institutional things that the school had always had. I can’t remember the numbers now but if you joined X number of clubs, Y number of sports, or Z number of honours, you got a badge. Get enough badges and you were eligible for a letter.
In her post, Arianna Lambert identifies things that are common to many schools in a way to encourage spirit. She shares a story of a little girl who felt the activity made it hard to participate in. Of course, nobody asks students how they feel about the activity. It is just assumed that what was done in the past is good going forward.
Now on the other side of the desk, she’s asking good questions that the institution and those that support it need to consider and possibly act on. If there is no good and equitable way to make it work for all, why perpetuate it?
I really enjoy sharing my thoughts about the great posting from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can take some time to click through and enjoy the original posts.
LIke the resource that I shared yesterday, this also takes the form of a create your own adventure. At each stage, you’re presented with a number of options which require a bit of role playing and thoughtful consideration of how to respond.
You know, you don’t really appreciate something until you lose it. I’m feeling that this week in my loss of freedom to just go and browse my way through a store. It’s not that I do it a lot but the important part is that, in another time, I actually could if I wanted to. I just can’t now.
I did have a fulfilling moment last night. A childhood friend of mine had a crashed iPad and I was able to give her some advice and she’s back online now. My price was very affordable compared to what Apple would have charged. I got:
On to some of the great things that crossed my keyboard this week from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.
Shelly Vohra offers some candid advice about attempts by the Ministry of Education to promote e-learning or online learning or what you may wish to call it. She echoes some of the observations that have been talked about here and in other places. It is in stark contrast to the comments coming from some of the right-wing news sources in the province. They just don’t have a clue. The sad thing is the number of anonymous comments. I don’t reshare because I don’t believe and yet I can’t resist the urge to read the garbage that they are spewing. Like I indicated previously on this blog, you can’t equate one person with a computer from their employer and an internet connection with a teacher trying to teach a class of students with varying needs and just as many varying computer configurations. That is, of course, if the student is fortunate enough to have a computer and an internet connection.
Shelly points out, with respect to the Minstry’s assumptions that this is a good thing:
The first is that educators were not consulted in the creation of this ‘resource’
Secondly, the ‘resource’ doesn’t take into consideration the diversity in our student population
my third issue with such a ‘resource’ – the issue of equity.
We can’t overlook that this will be a good resource for some and certainly school districts are, or have been directed to, share on their website.
Shelly promises a followup post with some of her ideas.
From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Michelle Fenn makes some observations based on the current reality and some of the realizations that can come from it.
We all have experienced the various scenarios in Michelle’s post. We have indeed dragged ourselves into work when we should have stayed at home.
We all have those emergency lesson plans that are tucked away for such an occasion and hope that we never need them.
We all know the panic of going to bed well and waking up ill. What will the kids do?
At some point, we’ve all had the experience of going into work when we really shouldn’t. As Michelle notes, we’ve made gains through collective bargaining about how to take care of ourselves. Sadly, there are employers that want to cut into this. There’s a huge difference in workplace activity between dealing with a full timetable of students who might be sick and some other professions that are nowhere near this. I still can’t get over that moronic Twitter message that I read indicating that teachers will get through COVID-19 because the experience of dealing with coughing the spreading a of germs of the classroom will help them.
Ironically, we have an entire province that has shut itself down due to a virus and those that are really worried about the impact of the lack of doing their jobs and the students they’re charged to work with are the teachers.
Tim King follows up on a previous blog post where he addressed the challenges of having insufficient internet access at school for his needs with this post.
Now, he takes the concept of connectivity globally. I found his reference to the Loon project interesting. Note that this video is at least three years old.
And, of course, you’ll need a computer to attach to the network. He cites two sources; one being the unused computers at schools right now and the second being the Computers for Schools project.
I would suggest that all this is a start but won’t get us where we ultimately need to be. My internet service provider uses LTE and Satellite; it’s part of Canada’s rural solution. I had to send a warning to Stephen Hurley earlier this week that our voicEd show might be in danger when I ran a Speedtest and got this.
Stephen recommends at least 2MB for success. Fortunately, it was a bit better for Wednesday morning. Had I needed the speed when I ran the test, I would have been out of luck. Imagine being a student at home relying on synchronous connections with a teacher.
The second part of the equation involves getting computers in the hands of students. One solution is to provide repurposed computers with a Linux environment and have them connect to a network with those specifications. The problem with older computers is that repairs and getting parts can be a challenge when things go wrong. I have a Dell (not exactly a generic machine) with a flashing orange light indicating that it doesn’t recognize the battery that it came with. It’s not likely that I’m going to shell out money for a new battery for this older computer.
On top of all of this, we make reference to this as a solution to those students whose families cannot afford their own technology. So, the poorer get a bandaid solution?
Despite my negative points above, a solution like this needs to be found. Traditionally, we’ve looked to public libraries as an evening solution but when they’re closed, that option is out.
Looking for a solution while living the problem really isn’t the solution. A proactive solution like hospitals have in hand needs to be in place. Smart educators like Tim should be given credit for their thoughts, along with a budget, and come up with a permanent solution should a similar situation ever arise again. And, even if it doesn’t, who wouldn’t want a solution where every student in the province has reliable access to the internet.
From the TESL Blog comes a post from Martina Finnegan that includes one of the best thinking moments for me this past while.
“Skillful teaching is the teaching that is contextually informed” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20). We teach what we assume students should be learning in their particular situations, and sometimes this requires veering away from a syllabus and taking hold of alternate methods to help students learn what is required for their field
In today’s reality, I think of teachers that are now thrust online to continue their teaching.
I’ve been in conversation with a friend in the States that is teaching his Computer Science courses online. The connection to the student is through video conferencing from his living room to goodness knows where. I do know that one of those locations is in China.
One of my superintendents was a big believer in Management by Walking Around. Great read here. He believed that the best teachers are always walking around, looking at student progress and then let the alternate methods that Martina alludes to kick in. Educators know what the end game is and will do whatever is needed to get there.
I would hope that the best of the best meet Martina’s standards of a “Skillful Teacher”. She’s got some great references for additional reading in the post.
She’s looking at a glossy magazine that describes her neighbourhood. The pictures that she sees in the magazine are drastically different from what she sees when she looks out the front window or around her neighbourhood.
It’s difficult to believe that this is happening in Canada in 2020. Judging by the comments to Melanie’s post, she’s not the only one who sees this and want to take action.
Letter writing to the magazine is a good start. Letter writing to those businesses that advertise in the magazine, cc: the magazine and to social media would even be more effective.
When I read the title, I thought it might be about a Degree in the Arts and a Degree in Education like so many teachers in province have and how could that be a post.
But I was wrong.
It’s a wonderful story about a relationship and professionalism that brings in a running kindergarten student and how grade 5 students ended up being more effective than the vice-principal in her role of authority.
Now, I’ve heard (and watched) 6 degrees of separation. I had to do a bit of research to find out just what was meant by 2 degrees. I hope that this is the context that they use in the post because I used it to understand their message.
There are specific spaces around each of us: 1. private space is the immediate space or circle – you. The next circle or microsystem is: 2. close family, friends, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. The next circle would be the mesosystem: 3. to a lesser degree of closeness, extended family, acquaintances, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. Circles 2. and 3. are the combined social space. Next is the exosystem, public space: 4. community, county, state, nation. The final circle, macrosystem, would represent: 5. the world. In Karinthy’s concept of six degrees of separation, a person would be six steps away from any one person in the world. This is the interconnectedness of dependent-origination. We are all connected. One degree of separation would place you solely in the inner most social circle or microsystem. This would lead you to a very select few within that social space closest to you.
When her direct message was ineffective, she turned to the connections of the 2nd degree and they were indeed able to be effective in stopping the running behaviour.
Then, in true Beast fashion, we’re witness to a discussion between Andrea and Kelly about this and their relationship.
In particular, I’m interested in this concept of a “2 degrees pilot”.
And, again, a wonderful collection of thought from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take time to click through and read the original posts.