Yes, You Can

I had a chance to do a quick workshop at Tim Horton’s the other day. 

I ran into someone I used to work with and she showed me one of the summer projects that she was working on.

It was essentially to collect data from students and bring it into a spreadsheet for the students to analyse.  That’s always a fun and very useful activity and can be used to address expectations from the mathematics (and other) curriculums.

The tool being used to collect the data was a Google Form and it worked nicely.  The plan was to collect the data from there, export it in Excel format and then use Excel to work with the data, reformat it, draw some charts, reach some conclusions, etc. 

I asked this question “I thought you were an Office 365 Board”.

I got this response “Yeah, but you can’t do forms with it”.

Me – “I’m pretty sure you can.  Let’s take a look at your Excel Online.”

Now, creating a form isn’t as explicit as it is in Sheets but it’s right there in the middle of the ribbon of a new spreadsheet.

The term is “Survey” and it’s a clickable button.

And, you’re off.

You have all the functionality that you probably could use in a form or data collection tool.  The response types include Text, Paragraph Text, Number, Date, Time, Yes/No, or your own Choice.

The button itself has the options for viewing, editing, deleting, and most importantly sharing when you’re done.

It’s equally as slick for creating, publishing, and sharing.  The results are immediately gathered into an Excel Online spreadsheet which then can be shared, manipulated, filtered, etc. as you will.

The end result for the students will be exactly the same.  But, by doing everything in one spot, it’s a bit less work for the teacher and you don’t need to have two different online accounts to pull it off.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s the first week of July.  That’s always nice.  If things would just warm up, it would be even better!  While waiting, check out these recent posts from some Ontario Educators.

Makerspace, Inquiry and Minecraft – Enrichment and Innovation Centre

Zoe Branigan-Pipe took her wisdom and expertise south to the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia.

Ever notice that this “international” conference is never held on July 4?  There’s no qualms about part of it being on July 1 though.

Anyway, Zoe teases us with what she plans to cover in her session.  Hopefully, there’s a followup post coming to let us know how it went.

The Microsoft OneNote Project – Ensuring Success For All Students

There are all kinds of people sharing information about the use of Google Apps for Education online.  I’ve mentioned before how there’s a real shortage of ideas and tips for those who use the Microsoft equivalent.  Diana Mancuso shares a list of ways that OneNote helps students.  Part of the list appears below – go to the original post to see the rest.

It should be noted that the blog post was sponsored by Microsoft Canada.

Near the bottom, she shares a link to the TDSB Assistive Technology Blog.  This looks like a great resource and worthy of bookmarking.

I’m Sorry!

Well, at least we now know that Aviva Dunsiger is not perfect.

Could there be a place with more “ears” than a school?

Comments get shared quickly among students and staff and, of course, often the original message gets lost.  I’m sorry to hear that this happened to anybody but Aviva’s post is a reminder that our reputation and self-worth can be hurt so quickly with just a short comment or action.

Regrets, We’ve All Had a Few

Of all the years that I’ve known, David Fife, I didn’t know that he was a musician.  In this post, David shares his thoughts about not keeping up with his music.

That really struck home with me.  I wanted to play the guitar in Grade 2.  The only problem was that my fingers weren’t long enough to go around the neck of the guitar.  So, my parents bought me lessons on a steel guitar.  For about the next 8 years, I learned every country and western and Hawaiian song ever made.  When I hit high school, I most certainly lost interest.  I haven’t lost the guitar though.  It’s made every move that I’ve ever made.  I might just pick it up and see if I still have that ol’ twang.

A Voice for My Students

Vilma Manahan was a new blogger that I discovered this past week.

The first post really struck a note with me.  It’s a collection of notes from the students written to her.  It’s an opportunity for the students to visit them over the summer and take part of a summer challenge that she’s posed to the students.  It will be interesting to follow up in the fall to see if it worked.  In the meantime, the notes are just awesome to read.  Student voice can be so powerful.

As always, this has been just a wonderful collection of posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take the time to read them in their entirety.  If you’re taking an AQ course this summer and creating your own blog, please take a moment to let me know at the form provided.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

For many, this is the first day of the summer vacation.  Congratulations.  I hope that you’re kicking back and reading this with a coffee about 10am.  Here are some interesting posts from around the province I read this past week.

What social media are you on and what does it say about you?

How times have changed.  I can’t even picture my mother or father sitting in on a job interview.  After all, in the good old days, you went to the interview.  The interview didn’t come to you.

Check out Jennifer Casa-Todd’s post as she reveals how modern technology brought the interview into her house.  I can completely empathize with her struggle balancing teacher and parent.

Throwing Out Grades Isn’t a New Concept #ttog

I had to smile at Brian Aspinall’s post and thoughts about grades.  It reminded me of the legend that I was made aware of my first year teaching.  The folklore was this teacher never marked anything and didn’t keep a mark book.  When it was time to enter marks, he called each student to stand in front of him – he looked them over and then wrote down a number.  Truth or no truth?  Yanking the strings of a first year teacher?  I’m not sure but I enjoy remembering it.

Once Brian gets rolling in the post, he draws an interesting parallel between Physical Education and Mathematics.

He asks – why should the assessment be different?

Summer – My Time to Learn

Despite what you might read in these times of teacher bashing, summer time for teachers isn’t eight weeks of sun bathing.  It’s a time for professional work and professional learning at a pace that is self-determined.

In this post, Nicole Beuckelare shares what her summer priorities will be.

I hope that she enjoys success with her goals and, when you read her post, you’ll know why we’ll all benefit from her learning.

Making it work

I really enjoy reading posts like this.  It’s humbling and motivating to realize that, despite whatever set of skills I may have, there are others that have more.  For the eternal learner, it’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Helen DeWaard shows some of her learning in this post.

I’ve always thought that everyone should build on their skill set.  I remember computer contact meetings where there would always be a sharing of what folks or others in their schools had been doing.  Every little bit builds more confidence and abilities.  Before long, you look at the mass of learning and you have a pretty decent portfolio of skills.


I’ll confess, the title sucked me in.  I like a good puzzle and James Hewett’s opening link takes you to a puzzle that’s been tossed around quite a bit lately.  But, what caught my attention was the list of iPad applications that he’s asked the students not to delete.

You’ll have to visit his post to see the entire list.  It’s always interesting to see the collection that people use in the classroom.

It’s great to see Green Screen on the list – so much can be done with that application in so many differing areas.

Camera Case & Pads of Paper Weigh In

The teacher part of this 3 Act lesson from Kyle Pearce sounds absolutely deadly.

But, once you get past that and get to the actual activity, it sounds like a great deal of fun and you can certainly see how engaging it would be for students.  I really like the questions that he poses to extend the learning.

Liking life

This quote from Paul Cornies’ blog attributed to Maya Angelou is an absolute feel-good thought to help close off the school year.

You’ve got to feel good about yourself after reading that.

Such an inspiring collection of learning, thinking, and sharing again this week.  Please find the time to click through and support these bloggers.  You can check out the entire collection here and certainly add yourself using the form if you’re not already on the list.

Have a wonderful summer.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Always be reading….that’s me!  Here’s some of the great things from Ontario Educational Blogs I enjoyed this past week.

Educator spotlight: Erica Armstrong

There’s a great deal of value in being a Fly on the Wall of someone else’s classroom.

Follow Sylvia Duckworth as she goes on a road trip to Erica’s classroom to watch what’s happening there and to get ideas for her own class for the fall. Look for lots of pictures and focuses on doing them the right way – take the picture of the learning activity and not head and shoulders shots of the students.

Introducing Year of Code Waterloo Region #YoCWR

Susan Watt passed along this link.  Not tied to a specific classroom or school, the goal here is not an hour for a classroom, but a year for the community to learn coding.

It’s the perfect location.  I spent four years in Waterloo learning to code!

This is a really ambitious project.  How successful will it be?  You can subscribe to a mailing list to find out.  Not in Waterloo Region?  Look for the resources from the site.  The first is posted – Introduction to HTML Teen Toolkit.  (I got a 404 error when checking it out.  Hopefully, a momentary glitch or typo)

Report cards are not the problem here

This post by Ben Babcock kind of blew up Twitter and Facebook with shares and resharing.  I was part of it too – it showed up in my Flipboard reading stream.

The conclusion was similar to my conversation earlier this week while getting an oil change for my car.

I had hoped earlier that things would be resolved by now.  Now the discussions seem to be how schools will be affected in the fall.  Look for more posts on these topics in response to the masses sharing their thoughts on newspaper websites.  It could be a long summer.

Some Questions About Periscope in the Classroom

Periscope is one of the more recent applications available to all and, as Andrew Campbell notes, there are the early adopters who may well be seeing if it has a place in the classroom.  Broadcasting is something that is quite common and used to fit specific purposes.  I recall giving the keynote at EdCampSWO and having it simulcast at EdCampLondon.  It was rather easy on my part; I just did my thing and technology made it happen.  I know that a couple of friends of mind would be in London and made an attempt to include reference to them.  In that respect, it was an intentional action.  What happens when you broadcast without thinking through all of the issues?

Andrew takes on Student Privacy and asks about the Bigger Message in all of this.  I tried to explain what I see as the bigger message in our digitally consuming society.

It’s a good read if you’re considering going down that path.

As it would happen, there was a news report as I was working on this post this morning – the US Open has banned the use of Periscope.  I could see concerns from the broadcaster about their proprietory licensing but also the image that’s given to the public of the sport.  I recall walking the course once for a competition to see one of the golfers head into the trees to have a smoke.  That’s the sort of image that doesn’t make it to television.  There really are huge things to think through if you’re going to create your own reality television channel.

5 Significant Influences

Jennifer Aston has a post this week that could well take off as a meme with the right folks.  

My last post on 5 significant events had me further reflecting this week.  What 5 significant events or people have influenced me as an educator?  How neat would it be to do this in a room full of educators and see what commonalities come out?  What would that say about where we are in education?

My first reaction was this would be a no brainer.  Then, I tried to narrow it down to five for myself.  This isn’t an easy task.

Check out Jennifer’s five.

Does it inspire you to do five of your own?

What another great collection of thoughts and shares from Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you take the time to read these originals in their entirety and check out the entire collection at this link.

Voting Results Today

The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215.  It laid out so many things about democracy that we just take for granted these days.

I remember studying it in elementary school.  It wasn’t the sort of thing that appealed to all students but I had a curious interest in it.  Perhaps that was a precursor to the fascination that I have with the British monarchy.  Maybe it was the fact that something that was drafted so long ago could have such an impact on the development of Canada as a country.

Possibly the worst thing that today’s politician could be accused of would be to break the intent and be seen to or actually operate above the law of the land.

As I was doing my morning read, I found a number of articles making reference to the Magna Carta.  It makes sense; if you do the math it’s 800 years since the original signing and you know how we like birthdays.

In particular, I focused on this article.  “Internet ‘Magna Carta’ vote launched by British Library“.  When I first read the title, I thought that it was going to be a clause by clause analysis of the document and then have it crowd sourced or something.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

As it turns out, this is a project from the British Library titled “My Digital Rights“.  The project is intent to build a “Magna Carta for the Digital Age“.

Given the importance of the Magna Carta to society, it does seem like a real natural.  The British Library has the entire website devoted to the project.  In it, you’ll find videos, themes and resources appropriate for the classroom.  Of course, there are also a collection of teaching resources.

The site is also collecting student votes for an internet “Bill of Rights” using the Magna Carta and its anniversary as a launchpad.

What’s intriguing is that most “Rules for the Internet” are top down driven by teachers, schools, or school districts.  Here the end user will have their say.  The parallels are almost scary.

It’s an interesting concept and the anniversary certainly sets the stage for the project.

The results from the student voting are supposed to be released today.  I wonder what will make the list?  Privacy?  Safety?


“The attention span of your average teenager is now over.”

The above was a great quote from a friend of mine that has just sort of stuck in my mind.  It’s just one of those cutesy things that grabs your attention and makes you smile if you’re a teacher and maybe a little angry if you’re a teenager.  Or not, if they lose interest.

It’s the phrase that I always used on the first night of my Computer Science teachable course.  My audience was students who wanted to be qualified with Computer Science as a qualification.  By themselves, they were all highly successful in university, some with Bachelor and Master Degrees with a concentration in Computer Science or, at least, have taken a number of courses in the discipline.  For me, it’s a nerdy dream come true.  My ideal class and I always enjoy teaching it.

In the course, they have to sit through 4 or 5 sessions with me before they go out for their first real classroom experiences.  In that time, I do my best to take them back to Grade 10 or 11 and demonstrate how to teach the essential teaching concepts.  It involves a great deal of manipulatives, grouping, manipulating, diagramming, documenting, etc.  We do eventually get to a bit of coding.  One thing that I learned that frustrated me was the amount of pushback that I received from them for this approach.  Unsurprisingly, their model of teaching Computer Science was from their university professors and their mindset was that teaching was just a matter of taking that approach and replicating it.  Sit down and read my Powerpoint slides.  However, attendance is taken and they have to force themselves to sit through my examples.

As they leave for their practicum, I give them my email address and it always happened.  Either through email during their two weeks out or the first week back where we would devote the first hour to debriefing (blowing off steam), the message was the same “Sir, now we get it”.  “We have to change our way of thinking about how best to teach the concepts for these kids.”

Well, my work here is done.

It’s very interesting to follow what happens after the course.  Many were fortunate enough to land teaching jobs and they do stay in touch.  Each course had its own private wiki where all of the classroom resources created were shared with them.  They still log in and poke around. 

It’s wonderful to see the amazing things that they’re now doing and their students most certainly benefit from their efforts.  Even those that didn’t get Computer Science teaching jobs have made the use of technology make amazing things happen.  Now, before my ego makes my head explode, my role wasn’t all that spectacular.  They had it in them and just needed to change their thoughts to make the magic happen.

Earlier this week, I had shared another of Sylvia Duckworth’s wonderful sketchnotes.

It was a collection of mindset statements based upon the work of Carol Dweck.  Based on my post, it had spurred the blogpost from Aviva Dunsiger
My Concerns With The Growth Mindset” and Brian Aspinall had written previously about his thoughts of two students “The Fixed Mindset of Student A & Student B“.  What I particularly liked about this whole thing was the exchange of ideas and challenging of assumptions from professional educators.  The more we question and challenge, the closer we get to fully understanding things.  Brian’s post describes two opposite students which I hope were contrived.  I can’t believe that any student is completely one way or the other.  It’s my belief that we all are an amalgam of these differing thoughts and approaches.  That’s why it’s so puzzling to be a teenager.

In education, we love theories to explain the unexplainable.  But, sometimes, we leap to a conclusion only to find that the conclusion moved and that we were wrong.

I wish I still had this book to make the reference but I recall reading a text at university about “bluebirds” and “buzzards” to describe students.  Hmmm.

I once worked with a person who had gone to a training session about Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats.  Before a big presentation, she asked and we participated as crash test dummies for her work.  I still remember her statement of assumptions going into the exercise.  In particular, she noted that “Doug would be very concrete and sequential” because of his work with computers and helping people solve problems.  I’ll bet that he’s a white or blue hat.  She was quite surprised that green percolated to the top.  I was pleased, not only because green is my favourite colour, but it acknowledged that I was something more than the nerdy, computer guy that my school board had hired to do a certain job.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that most people who work so intensely with computers are like that in order to create something new or to go beyond a road block that would stop others.

Regardless, it disturbed me that a theory (and this is but one of them) could be used to categorize me in the eyes of others.  When you think about it, the educational path is littered with theories and ideas that well-intentioned people have created but never did the job perfectly.  Some were created by researchers searching for the concepts and, sadly, some are created by presenters/speakers who do their thing for a living and will charge you money to come and hear their latest money making scheme theory.

There’s a danger in hanging your hat on one particular theory that may well end up being disproved later.  Open minds are so helpful.

I think that this is why the concept of mindset is so intriguing to me.  It doesn’t attempt to classify students.  Instead, it takes a look at a particular statement or mindset and helps them develop an alternative.  For the teacher, working with students and helping them find the alternative is the recipe for success.  You can call it differentiated instruction or student choice, but the power of the approach lies in identifying the fixed approach and helping meld it into something that will help to engage and include the student, hopefully resulting in more satisfaction in learning. 

After all, isn’t that was teaching is all about?

You might find this research report interesting.  “Changing Mindsets“.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

When you take a course, learning does get tedious.  Most of the time, you know what’s next or can make a pretty good guess.  That’s helpful if you’re the type that likes to work ahead.  But when you’re learning by reading blogs, you never know where your next source of wisdom will surface.  Here’s some of what I tucked away from Ontario Educators this past week.

Being Gifted.. Poetry from Young People

Zoe Branigan-Pipe published a Google Slideshow of poetry from some of the Gifted students that she worked with.  I’ll admit that it was fascinating reading and worked my way through them slowly.  The students really shared some interesting insights.

She’s putting it all together into a book and there’s a link there for others to contribute and get involved.  I like the concept – call for crowd sourcing by seeding with some examples and then taking flight.  I hope that it works out for her and her students.

My Concerns With The Growth Mindset
The Fixed Mindset of Student A & Student B

Aviva Dunsiger stirred the pot, as she often does, by commenting on the Sketchnote from Sylvia Duckworth that I’d included earlier in the week in a blog post.

She particularly focuses in on the use of what she calls “Edu-lingo”.  That did generate a smile here since, without all this lingo, researchers and consultants leading workshops would be out of business.  Heck, bloggers would be too, I suspect.

I think that her concerns have an element of legitimacy to them and many educators feel the same although don’t use social media to share them.  In her post, she brings in a previous post from Brian Aspinall where he uses Student A and Student B to demonstrate what he sees as the difference between the two types of mindsets.  I get what he was trying to demonstrate but I see a danger in viewing/labelling students this way.  I don’t believe that any student completely fits the description that he calls Student A or Student B.  I think I need to flesh out my thoughts a little deeper than this and will probably do so this weekend.

If the terms “Fixed” and “Growth” really are offensive, then I would recommend going back to the original sketchnote and covering them with your finger.  Just read from each column.  I would then deny any educator to question the message.

Don’t Raise Your Hands Students

I had read the article, from Australia, on the same day as David Fife.  I immediately thought – Bueller?  Bueller?

This method has created some controversy and I can understand why. On the surface it does seem a bit extreme. The intent behind it may have some merit, but will it really help the struggling student, or will it just discourage them even more.

I think that the concept sends an important message beyond the simple raising of hands.  It digs into effective teaching practice.  I’m thinking of the huge (800) class sizes at university.  You didn’t ask questions – the prof might not know, the students were there because they forced, nobody liked being booed and hissed at for prolonging the agony.  The message was quite clear; save your questions for the grad student who runs the smaller study sessions.  The interaction there was far more effective because of the smaller, personalized groupings.

As a profession, we’ve tried all kinds of ways to make the traditional approach work and come to the conclusion that formal lecturing just doesn’t work for everyone.

Today, most teachers work in an environment where you do many things other than lecturing to a full class.  We know that it works better for all kinds of reasons.

In the comments, Sue Bruyns links to this as further evidence of how raising hands works – Instructional Strategies: Raising Hands in Class and the Outlier Effect.  It’s a good read and really extends David’s original thoughts.

Duty Calls

I’ll open this comment on Shaun Grant’s post with his concluding paragraph.

This is one of the best bait and switch posts I’ve read in some time.  I’ll admit, Grant, that you had me suckered in with your original thoughts and premise.  It’s a good read for all educators and then you need to draw your own conclusions.

I’ll bet you never saw all this learning coming.  Click through and read the entire thoughts from these great blog posts.  Thanks again, Ontario Edubloggers.