This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It looks as though Spring may finally have arrived around here.  It’s not hugely warm yet but that will come with time.  In the meantime, warm up with some inspirational thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Resources for Outdoor Classroom Day

Most school districts have a program for Outdoor Education.  That’s important and provides wonderful opportunities for students.

But, what about the concept of just taking your classroom outside for some learning?  Consider thinking of things that could only be done outdoors.  Lisa Cranston reminds us this as well as providing a nice collection of resources.  I did it recently.

At the recent OTF Curriculum Forum, we paired up with a partner for an Alphabet Photowalk devised by Cameron Steltman and Peter Beens.  The idea was to find letters in the environment around us.  Off we went with our phones.

Bob and my efforts?


I originally had a word made just from the second picture.  It was a good example about how to use those devices for good…

And there was a great deal of learning…

  • actually finding something that looked like a letter
  • taking a picture that would be appropriate (not shaking and in focus)
  • cropping the picture to actually display the letter
  • finding the picture on the device once you’d saved and cropped it
  • locating the collaborate Google Slides document
  • uploading the letters
  • adjusting/aligning the letter so that it looks good
  • guessing everyone else’s word

More ideas and a place to commit to Outdoor Classroom Day are available in Lisa’s post and here.

Access & Abundance

This is a delightful post about books.  Not the e- kind.

From First Book Canada, the books absolutely had to go into the hands of children.  So, no library or book sales here.

There really is something special about the paper book.  It’s flexible; you can read it anywhere.  New ones just smell nice.  The battery doesn’t run out.  You can easily turn the pages and forward is just as functional as backwards.  Hyperlinks don’t take you away to a place where it might be a challenge to get back to the original.  They’re not all the same; you can be attracted to a book by the title or its appearance.

I do find this statement curious…

First Book Canada states on their website that 25% of Canadian households have not one book.

The balance of the post is typical Beast format with a conversation between Andrea and Kelly.  If you’re feeling overly digitized in your reading, this will definitely make you feel good.

The Importance of Contexts and Visuals

You hear this frequently, almost to the point of ignoring it completely.  People nod “wisely” as if they understand.  But do they?

Mark Chubb had me at Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup in this post.  The conversation back and forth with his wife will make you smile.  After all, the people at Lipton have spent years and years perfecting the perfect procedure for making the perfect soup, right?

Every package comes with detailed instructions; you just have to follow them to get the taste that they want.  In this case, there are even visuals to help you along.

Now, it’s not a big reach to go beyond this example to everyday classroom routines.  The post features a research report from Knowing and Teaching Mathematics.  The results that Mark pull out will get you wondering which group you would belong to.  He concludes with a number of probing questions to further your thinking about this topic.

Teachers learn to grieve

Albert Fong gives us a very sobering post about the realities that most teachers will experience at least once is their career – the passing of a student.

His memories of Madeline describe a fun, active young lady.  And, a blogger.  Albert was able to eventually bring himself back to a post to revive her memory.

It also inspired to think about this for the future.

Madi may not be with us anymore, but she will live on, through me. As I continue to work with young people, I will forever strive to be better at what I do. When I face moments of weakness, Madi will give me strength to keep getting better. That’s how I will honour her.

Character Education for May is INTEGRITY

Most school districts have a Professional Library.  I’ve yet to find one that is as open and sharing as the folks from the TDSB.

The latest post identifies a number of resources for May where the theme is Integrity.

In today’s society, I think it’s an attribute that we all are in search of for those who we deal with and to develop in ourselves.

A complete listing of titles from this school year will take you to different monthy resources.

Audio Notes in Google Keep

At #ECOOcamp Owen Sound, Emily Fitzpatrick led a pop-up session on Google stuff due to the absence of another presenters.  One of the things that she touched on was Google Keep.

In particular

In Google Keep you are able to take a voice note, this is helpful to record sound that is happening around you but it is also a quick way to write reminders.  Google Keep takes it one step further though.

There are lots of tips here including a Ninja one!

I had to smile just a bit – one of the things that I use Google Keep for is note taking while I’m in a conference session.  I think a lot of people do.  What happens when we all want to talk to our devices while we take notes?

I think of those cone things that a court stenographer uses.  Could that be the next personal device on the market?

OK, probably not, but if you’re a Google Keep user, there might be a new tip or idea in this post.

NCTM 2018 Annual Conference — and OneNote

Speaking of conference note taking, Cal Armstrong devotes a post to how he handled things at the NCTM 2018 conference.  His blog post is going to take you to a shared OneNote document here.


The best way to describe this is that Cal goes far beyond taking notes.  He curates everything here, including the Conference Program.

So, as he’s preparing his proposals for BIT 18 or any future conference, he doesn’t have to go looking through bookshelves for the original program for inspiration; it’s all in the OneNote document.

How’s that for a nice collection of blog posts for a Friday morning?

Please take some time to click through an enjoy these fine pieces of work.  There should be a little there for everyone.  Then, check out the big list of Ontario Edublogs here.

And hey, if you have a blog and haven’t written a post for a while, here’s your challenge.  Let me know on Twitter – @dougpete.

Lastly, make sure that you’re following these Twitter accounts to stay in touch with these folks.


Big? Or juicy?

Who hasn’t seen a bumper sticker or t-shirt or just a sign that says:

He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins

It’s kind of cute and pokes fun at those who have to acquire everything.

Last week, on Twitter, there was a discussion about the value of a Personal Learning Network.  If you use the Twitter service for networking with great educators, then you absolutely know all about the value of having that network.  But, having that network is only the begging.  Milking it for all it’s worth is worthwhile.

A really good, and critical thought for the day, is “how big should it be?”

Some observations:

  • there are bots and services that will sell you additional users for $$$
  • you can follow every user that you can find
  • some people use follow accounts and never post anything personally
  • you can read those posts that appear online every now and again “Top ## educators to follow on Twitter” and then follow them
  • you can find someone you respect and see who they follow and follow their follows

and there are probably other ways to pick those you choose to follow.

There does come a time when the sheer number that you follow becomes unmanageable.  The actual “number” is tough to define.  Follow too few and a looking at messages would let you think that the whole exercise is not worthwhile.  Follow too many and there’s so much going on that it’s hard to know where to start.

In the local newspaper recently, there was a very appropriate story.

Apple picking time: Crop not as big but apples will be larger, juicier than last year

It’s kind of a big deal here in Essex County.  Today, for example, I’ll be heading out to Leamington and will buy things from the stands that line the roads.  I like to support local farmers and I know that the fruit will be fresh and not stored in cold storage before being put out on shelves for sale.

I can’t help but think that the same logic applies to Twitter followers and how to manage them.  There was a time when you’d definitely want to have the biggest list of people to follow.  I’ll confess to doing that myself.  I’ve come to realize that value comes from selecting any future people to follow by checking out their timeline to see if they’re “larger and juicier”.  Metaphorically, of course.

Or, start to use the tools of Twitter to make it better.  If you check out my Twitter profile, you’ll see that I do follow quite a few.  That number hangs around from past history.  Quite frankly, I seldom look at the big stream.

Instead, I’ve tried to make my reading juicier.  If you did look at my profile, you’ll see that I have a number of lists of users there.  Of course, I’m so vested in my Ontario Educator lists.  They form the basis for my FollowFriday stuff and the newsletters.  It also lets me divide and conquer the list of Ontario folks – 4 lists of 500 versus 1 of 2000 to see what’s happening.  And, of course, it’s Ontario!  The lists that you see were either curated by me or I just follow someone else’s list.  If they’ve done the heavy lifting, who am I to complain?  BTW, you’re welcome to follow mine lists if you’re so inclined.

And, I’ll tweak your curiosity.  Everything working properly, you see the lists I’ve elected to make public.  There are others you shouldn’t be able to see!  Curious now?

Using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck allows for a separate column for each of the lists to try and keep an eye on what’s happening.

Screenshot 2017-09-24 at 08.29.53

From my Hootsuite screen…

That’s how I try to manage things to make it “larger and juicier”.  But, I’m not above taking advice from others.  Do you have a better scheme to manage things?

If you do, I’m a quick learner.  Please share.

Planning, revisited

I’ve got to give a shoutout to Lisa Noble who dragged out this post from my past.

The post comes from Labour Day, 2012 and was titled “Plan Now for a Year of Success“.  Looking back, wow, that was five years ago, it’s still worth a read and so I’m reblogging it today as a “Post from the Past”.

As I re-read it, I still believe firmly in the message.  If you’re serious about social and building connections, you might also want to add a couple of contemporary resources like Instagram or Facebook to the mix.  You can certainly apply the logic there.

Labour Day!

The last day before getting back at it. Flash forward 9 months and the school year will be just about over but you’ll be scrambling for content for the yearbook and/or end of the year assembly. A little planning now could make that so easy and social media is the answer.

All that is will take is a Twitter account and a blog. Done properly, all the pieces will just fall into place.

You can read the post in its entirety here.

As you head to work tomorrow, here’s an updated wish for the upcoming school year.

When it happens to you …

You hear of stories like this but they’ve always happened to others.  Until now.  The scourge of the Internet decides to impersonate you.

Previously, I had felt sorry for Alec Couros who had run into problems like this and they’re apparently continuing.  It did lead to an interesting interview with Zuck Markyburg.

My story started with a communication from my son.

“Have you created another Instagram account?”

“No, why?”

“Because I got a request from an account that looks just like you”.

Then, a similar question came from my daughter.  Then from some friends.  Something indeed was up.  So, I asked for the name of the account and checked it out for myself.

Sure enough, there was my normal profile picture staring back at me and the username was a permutation of the name I use in many places (including this blog).

The damage?  Well, they were all sent this message.

Screenshot 2017-06-21 at 11.06.39

Thanks to those who took a screenshot and sent it to me.  It’s a variation of so many scams that we see online.

I checked out this phony account.  There’s a couple of things that should give an indication that it wasn’t me.  First, it was a social media account with no content.  Everyone knows that I’m noisy online.  Secondly, I do take pride in my writing.  I might make the odd slip and might forget to capitalize an i but not every one throughout one paragraph.  In hindsight, that’s not one paragraph; it’s one long sentence!  Had proper punctuation been seen, you’d also have noticed two spaces after a period.

The sad part was that this account had sent out these friend requests.  A good friend of mine and myself sent messages to those who had accepted the requests indicating that it was a phony account.  The response was great with people dropping the connection and even blocking the account.

Will we see the end of this?  Sadly, probably not.

But, it’s a reminder that you should “choose your friends wisely”.  Just don’t blindly accept friendship requests without a bit of research.

This article “HOW TO SET YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS ON SOCIAL MEDIA” should serve some as a reminder and provide some tips to be secure online.

You can’t be too careful and I just hope that it doesn’t happen to you.

A reminder

Every now and again, something comes along and serves as a reminder for all using social media.

There are people watching and they care.

Take a few seconds to read this story.

School district’s social media coordinator fired for mocking student’s tweet

On first blush, you might think that this is a bit of overkill.  But I think that there’s a great deal that can be read into that.

Many school districts coordinate accounts on social media.  A good question to be asked if you’re applying or actually in such a position is “What is the goal for this account?”  and “Why are we doing this?”

Photo Credit – –

Anyone who has that job has to realize that they’re speaking for an entire system.  There are certain latitudes that come from a personal account but I would suggest that it’s entirely different when you’re speaking for that system.

Contributions to social media need to be informational and professional at all times.  Inside jokes or put downs need to be kept to personal accounts and not through a bigger system account.  A rule of thumb is to remember is that you’re speaking for thousands and not just yourself.

But that’s not the only thing.

Parents may well be connected to the classroom through a classroom account or a teacher account.  That’s where they should be going if they’re looking at what’s happening today there.  A system account that just retweets every teacher account as they pop up quickly becomes a spammer and ignored.  It’s nice to promote happenings and I would propose a once a day Storify post titled “What happened yesterday” would make be appropriate.  You could even accumulate them into a blog so that they don’t get lost.  It’s a way to show the best of a system and not to make fun of any individual.

Back to the issue addressed in the story – teachers know that it’s wrong to make fun of learners as they learn.  There’s no way that a system account should engage and do the same thing that teachers try to avoid.  It has the potential to go far beyond the classroom walls, which is bad enough, but once it’s out there, who knows where it will end?

I do feel sorry for the probationary social media person.  You can’t help but think that the district needs to take part of the blame for not specifying what’s appropriate for that account.  There should be clear and definite instructions about how to use the account to address the district’s goals for having that account in the first place.

In the meantime, it’s a reminder for all of us about the power of social media and its reach.

How about your organization?  Is its approach to social media professional and something a district can be proud of?  If not, what could be done to make it better.