Whatever happened to …


… the slide rule?

Well, mine is in the bookcase behind me, Aviva!  There’s my personal answer to your question that you posted in the Padlet devoted to this.

The educational year was my Grade 10.  We were required to purchase a slide rule for mathematics class.  We had two options:

  1. purchase a cheap plastic white tool or
  2. “if you’re serious about mathematics, you need to buy the upgraded yellow eye-saver metal one that comes with a finer hairline and a leather case.”  (My mathematics teacher no-so-subtle advice)

As you can see in the picture above, using my chair as a background, I went with option #2 – A Pickett N902-ES

We were only allowed to take the slide rule to mathematics class.  Apparently, it could be used as a weapon to avoid the boredom in other classes.  (or so I heard),  I remember the mathematics classrooms with a big teacher slide rule at the front of the class so that she/he could work along with us to solve problems with our slide rules.

We learned a great deal about mathematics from using that device including a new bit of language – “hair line”.  It was true; when we would compare the two slide rule options, the yellow one did have a thinner hair line.

What difference does that make?  It goes to the heart of using a slide rule.  Unlike a calculator, it didn’t necessarily give you the exact answer.  Instead, you learned the skill of estimation to get your answer.  Unless you were working with integers, the hair line would fall on a scale and you needed to estimate just what the answer would be.  I’ll tell you one thing; you sure learned about the beauty of numbers and decimal places.  As I look at it while writing this post, there was a special marker for pi.

Flipping the slide rule over, in very tiny print, there were instructions about how to multiply, divide, find logarithms, find the sine of tangent of an angle, and the importance of the NUMBER OF ZEROS.  You just knew that was important because, even back then, it was written in capital letters!  There was also a grid of important fraction conversions – i.e. 45/64 = .703125  (Yes, I just did check it with my computer calculator)

It got me through that class and others in high school.  Once I hit Statistics at university, it was incredibly clear that I needed to get with the digital age and purchased my first calculator – an HP21 How sad is that that even the calculator is in the HP Calculator Museum.

I have no idea why I still have the slide rule; it doesn’t conveniently get stored anywhere and I can’t remember when I last used it.

Oh, fact check.  Yes I do – re-read this blog post “Two nerds walk into a Tim Horton’s

OK, I can’t remember the last time I used it since then…

Does that inspire you to do some thinking/reminiscing?

  • have you ever used a slide rule?
  • when did you buy your first calculator?  Do you recall what features it had?
  • if you’re a classroom teacher, how best do you teach number lines and estimating?  Is it still an important skill?
  • I know some manipulative kits use slide rules or close cousins to it.  Have you ever used them?

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts like Aviva did? They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea. I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and a time for a blogging tour of the province.  You don’t have to look any further for the good stuff than that created by Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I read and had stick lately.


Letting Go Again

We often hear that “students own the learning” and adjust the classroom to honour that.  It’s great to read about those who now respect that philosophy and adjust things accordingly.  But, the learning is the only thing that happens in the classroom community.  There are all kinds of other things that make for a smooth running environment.  Aviva Dunsiger itemizes some of the things that come to her mind in this post and then, in Aviva fashion, asks questions and wonders…

I can’t help but wonder (now she’s got me doing it) if this isn’t a good activity for everyone to do with their own classroom.  Sure, the students own the learning but who owns every other element for success?  Isn’t that part of the learning as well?  Why not treat it as such?  If there ever was a “call to action” post to refine your classroom, this is it.


Bringing Back 10 Posts

Speaking of calls to action, check out Tina Zita’s latest.  If you need that shove to get consistent with your blogging or even starting, consider opting in to her 10 posts in 10 days challenge.

It may sound daunting but it really shouldn’t be.  She’s not asking you to write the next great epic novel.

Just jot down 10 things and turn them into 10 posts and away you go.  You don’t even have to commit 10 days if you are busy.  You could write 10 posts in one sitting or spread them out a bit and schedule them to appear for 10 days in a row.

The key is just to do it.  It will make you grow as a thinker and blogger.  You have that special genius that makes things work in your classroom or you have observed 10 things that you’d like to write about.  Why not do it?

It might just be the start of something beautiful.


Equation Strips

David Petro shares a very interesting lesson plan for Grade 7s involving a method to visualize linear equations.

In Ontario our grade 7 students are introduced to solving simple equations in the form ax + b = c where the values of a, b and c are whole numbers. We think it’s a good idea for them to start by having some sort of visual representation of each equation. In this activity, students are given 16 cards that correspond to 16 equations represented as strips (the top and bottom of the strips represent the left and right sides of the equations). Students solve for x given the strips and then rewrite the algebraic form equation.

I’ll bet that so many use a graph as the first option when dealing with this topic.  This is an alternative that might well turn into a quicker understanding of the concept.

Resources included!

I like the concept for classrooms and it’s a terrific example for all as to how to share resources via Google Drive and FirstClass.


Listen and Be Honest

Powerful advice is included in this post from Sue Dunlop.  She’s honest and open about her position in life.

The post will hopefully give you pause to think about this topic.

Sue provides a nice collection of relevant links to support her position.


REFLECTIONS ON #YRDSBQUEST

From the KNAER-RECRAE blog, a look at the YRDSBQUEST event through the eyes of Melinda Phuong, an intern with the organization.

If you weren’t able to attend, check out what caught her attention.

  • RECONCILIATION WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF CANADA
  • A STUDENT MESSAGE ON REFUGEES
  • REFUGEE EDUCATION
  • A CULTURE OF “YES” TO BRING BACK THE JOY OF LEARNING
  • ISSUE + GIFT = CHANGE
  • DEEP LEARNING ON AN INTERNATIONAL SCALE
  • ACCESSIBLE LEARNING
  • LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

Do Cuts Hurt?

Unlike Matthew Morris, there were times when I did get cut from a particular sporting team.

I do remember the teams that I did make though and, if I think hard about it, some of the ones that I didn’t.  There were also teams that I just didn’t try out for.  They were just not for me.  I specifically remember football and the irony that I ended up coaching it at secondary school.  It’s a unique sport; I don’t think we ever cut anyone.  It’s nice to have big numbers for practices.  Where the real issue kicks in is when you realize that you really have to work hard at getting everyone in to play during the season.  There are other sports that never existed when I was in school as well.  I’m thinking about skipping in particular.  A friend of mine has a son who really excels at competitive skipping.

Some sports will take every body that shows up and that’s great for inclusion.  But, as Matthew notes, there are some sports where only a limited number make the team.  His observations of watching students come to see if they “made it” are a real POV for educators.  I’ll bet that he’d appreciate comments about how you handle the situation in your reality.


Do students think we should be using social media in school?

Jennifer Casa-Todd finishes off a post that she’d started earlier.  It was about the use of social media in school.  She admits that her sample may be skewed but that’s OK.  It was interesting to see her statistics and analysis of it.  I thought that the comments were interesting.

As I read the responses, I can’t help but wonder if these are original thoughts from students or are they parroting when they hear from their teachers or parents or other media.

There’s a link in the post that is supposed to go to a summary but does go instead to her questionnaire.  It’s worth clicking through to see what was asked and, if Jennifer reads this post, hopefully, she’s share the link to results with us.


Yet again, this has been for me another wonderful collection illustrating the great thinking that goes on throughout the province.  Please click through and show each some blogging love with a comment or two.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to Friday and it’s a 13th too.  Check out some of the great reading that I enjoyed this past while.


SOCIAL MEDIA & DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP

So much in this post that Rusul Alrubial references from an article in the New York Times makes so much sense.  She nicely summarizes it at the bottom of the post.  Schools that wish to send home a message to parents about their involvement with social media would be well advised to take a read and incorporate it into their message.  Basically, it means that kids can definitely figure out the technology given enough time but it’s the parent and school interaction that add the “social” and the “responsible” part into the mix.

I think that this table from the post deserves more than a passing glance.  There’s much to be read into it and many takeways.


The Best Gift

Diana Maliszewski started the post in a fun way talking about a Christmas gift that she received.  Rather than run out and spend all kinds of money, it was created by her sister and shipped just in time for gift opening.  It was a nice, warm start to the post.  There was a bit of librarian critique to the content that was interesting to note but then it got a bit serious.

After a flurry of texts exalting her amazing gift, we discovered that there were actually more comics that she had created using Bitstrips, but when the site closed, she was unable to access or upload her work.

It was, for me, a sad reminder that the Bitstrips application was no longer available to Ontario Educators.  Acquired through the OESS process, it made a huge difference in how educators used technology in the classroom.  It was a creation, making application available to all long before the current focus on “creating”.  It was central to so many workshops and presentations that I gave.  Then, with a message on the OSAPAC website, it was no longer available.

In its place is Pixton for Schools.  Will it have the same impact?

Sadly, it wasn’t the focus of any presentations at the Bring IT, Together conference.  That’s too bad.  Back in the day, Ivan or Danuta and I would have made it a part of our “Freshly Minted Software” series.

Hopefully, school districts are rolling on professional learning for this application so that teachers can continue to enable students to create in the classroom.

In the meantime, I really feel for Diana.  I think we all know what happens when a favourite application is no longer available either by licensing or updates or closing.  All that time and effort learning its uses and nuances shot.


Professional Learning: Does it work?

Speaking of Professional Learning….

Deborah McCallum takes on this question with a well reasoned post.  I like her summary of strategies to avoid change.  My context is, of course, in education.

I think she’s nailed it with these points.  She concludes with a question.

What are your personal insights on this?

A topic near and dear to my heart.

My answer is “yes” but I need to qualify it with an “only if” …

Sadly, I think that schools and school districts by their action plans put into force a system where it’s so easy to avoid the change.  If Professional Learning is limited to the big one day PD Day and you get to spend an hour on a topic, you’re guaranteed to fail.  Attendance at these events are compulsory and an opportunity to put a check mark on the chart that says “Provides PD”.  Maybe next year, we’ll get to Step 2.

Professional Learning and change to practice needs to be ongoing.  Teachers are not adverse to it.  Success happens when school districts offer ongoing, continuous sessions on topics that allow for grow in confidence for whatever the topic is.  Once the confidence happens, change is more likely to take place.  It doesn’t have to be formal either.  In fact, it may well work best when it’s not formal.  Maybe it’s me but when the memo would arrive that “Tomorrow is PLC Day”, I just knew that I had other things on my mind.  Why couldn’t it be done on my terms?  Some of the best change I ever did for myself was to meet with colleagues for breakfast at 6am to share our thoughts.  I know that others met informally for book talks.  In my case, it was software talks.  I remember a superintendent telling me once that they was afraid that it was a subversive activity and that all PD had to be controlled centrally.  That way, the message could be controlled.

Sigh.


Instead of “Rich Tasks”, Try “Variations on Tasks”, or “Classes of Tasks”

As I read this post from Matthew Oldridge, I was so much in agreement.  The notion of a “Rich Task” has always bugged me.  We talk about differentiating instruction, working with students at their level, meet them where they are, and then throw a “Rich Task” into the pedagogy bucket.

Does the same level of “richness” apply to every student?  I sure hope not.  Of the alternatives, that Matthew provides, I prefer “Variations” the best.  It doesn’t imply that we’re ranking the tasks somehow.  I like the thought that variations show that there are many ways to approaching topics.

Many of these short and simple questions wouldn’t be considered rich tasks on their own, but then again, what is. There are no rich tasks without thinking classrooms full of talking, thinking, conjecturing, and wondering students. Context is everything. When we say context, with respect to classrooms, we might really be talking about culture. What sorts of classroom cultures promote richness?


A Review: Professional Capital:Transforming Teaching in Every School

Stacey Wallwin read the book so you don’t have to.

Or, perhaps because of this post, you’ll ask your teacher-librarian or principal to add it to the professional library at your school.

I liked her summary of the takeaways she had from reading.

  • You can’t do it alone.
  • Teachers need to be a part of authentic, professional learning communities that both support and challenge their  ideas and contribute and support ongoing professional growth.
  • To support the rich potential of a PLN/PLC educators need to have a voice in the implementation.
  • It is morally imperative that as educators we see all students as own and make ourselves accountable to the learning of all these students.

In summary, she shares some of her thoughts about the rules of empowerment.  I couldn’t help but wonder – we talk about students owning the learning; shouldn’t the same apply to teachers.  As Stacey notes, success won’t come as a result of budgets or top down edicts or chasing the latest and greatest.


Numberless Word Problems

Jonathan So had moved his blog from Blogger to WordPress and was good enough to let me know so that I could update my Ontario Edublogger list.  I figured that the least I could do is check out his latest writing and he does share a good one.

There’s no more depressing textbook than a mathematics textbook.  Only there in education can you work for 15 minutes on a problem, then turn to the back of the textbook, look for page 146 and then the answer to question 27 only to find that it is 6.  You didn’t have that; so you’re clearly WRONG.  How depressing.  Fortunately, as students know, they can still get partial credit for showing your work and your thinking.

What if you took all the numbers out of the equation and just focused on the problem?

That’s the message in Jonathan’s post.  It’s filled with lots of great ideas and I’ll bet that you know the ferris wheel that’s at the heart of it.

In a world where you’d have some “experts” telling you that computational thinking is a separate entity, you’ll be inspired with the record of discussion that ensues.


As Technology Advances…

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Mark Renaud starts this post with a bit of wisdom that it never hurts to revisit and share with others.  I’m struck with the number of new teachers entering the profession with only a bare minimum of “effective learner” tools.

It’s not necessarily their fault.  They typically have relatively good computer skills but that’s not enough any more.  Of importance is staying abreast of new advances of both technology and the latest insights into effective pedagogy.

There were a couple of other posts above devoted to professional learning.  They make a nice bundle to read.

When was the last time that your principal expressed these concerns like Mark has?


It’s been yet another great week of sharing from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take a few moments to click through and read the entire posts mentioned above.

Until next week!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This will be the last post in this series for 2016.  It’s been a great year of thinking and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.  

Again, the tradition continues with some of the great reading that I’ve read recently.


The Importance of Student Teacher Rapport

In this post, Jennifer Aston reflects on her successes as an Instructional Coach.  There’s so much good stuff there to pass along to new coaches coming on board, to existing coaches to reflect upon during their classroom times, and to the classroom teacher involved.  I really liked how Jennifer analysed the relationship that she builds with students and how challenging it can be when she visits a classroom that isn’t set up to support that.

I guess I’ve learned that one of my teaching (and perhaps even coaching) super powers is developing relationships.  I’ve grown to care about the students, teachers, coaches and administrators that I have worked with over the last 4 years.  I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard to leave.  But I also know that it’s time to build capacity in some other lucky teacher out there…

It sounds like she has a real wealth of skills and experience that she will take into her own classroom when her appointment as a coach ends.

I know that we all certainly wish her well wherever she goes.


Motorcycle Ride in El Salvador, March 2016

Over the years, I’ve come to respect and admire the photography of Peter Beens.  He’s one of those people who have all kinds of patience and does miracles with cameras that I could only dream of.  I realized I was in the wrong ball park when I was with him once with my camera that was my pride and joy and he was showing me some technique.  We stumbled upon a great photo opportunity and his comment was “I wish I had my good camera with me”.  I know that my camera didn’t measure up to whatever he currently had so I could only imagine what his good camera was like.

In this post, Peter shares some wonderful images from his trip to El Salvador captured from his point of view using a GoPro Camera.

As always, he takes so many pictures and through the “keepers” adds interest in what he sees.  The whole collection shared is worth the time to enjoy.


My Top 10 Sketchnotes in 2016

Another skill that I wish I could have is to create sketchnotes like Sylvia Duckworth can.  Hey, I even took her workshop and failed.  But she continues to amaze with her interpretations on a topic.

In this post, she shares the top “shares” of her sketchnotes from the past year.

Sadly, “Between the Ferns” didn’t make the list so I’ll include it here.

Maybe next year.


Just Start

I’m not actually a fan of New Years’ Resolutions.  Why that day?  Usually I’m watching football and could care less about any silly resolution.

Maybe it makes sense to start on January 2?

Or, as Matthew Oldridge notes…


Manipulatives in Secondary Math

I love this post from Heather Theijsmeijer.  Everyone who teaches mathematics is looking for that magic bullet that will put students over the top.

Working with manipulatives is big in elementary schools so why not in secondary?

Heather takes a pretty comprehensive look at Algebra Tiles and how they might fit into the secondary school curriculum.  Personally, I think it’s an important look.  If students have become reliant on manipulatives in Grade 8, it seems somehow unfair to cut them off at the knees just because they’re in a different building.  And yet, there’s still the notion that they do have to learn the concepts appropriately.

Heather asks some questions that I’m sure many would like an answer to.  If you have the answer, why not drop by her blog and share it with her.

  • Physically move the manipulatives INTO my classroom (out of storage) and have them in an easily-accessible spot for everyone to get to, not out of sight in an office or tucked away in a classroom closet.
  • Incorporate manipulatives purposefully into lessons – carefully choose which manipulative the students will be using and know why I’m choosing to use it. What process does it demonstrate? In what way will it help my students think/reason?
  • Make manipulatives integral to the lesson itself, not just have it as an add-on to what we’re learning. 
  • Challenge the students to whom math comes easily to use the manipulatives, and get them thinking outside of the memorization box. I hope this might also reduce the stigma of using manipulatives.

Using Technology to Facilitate Hands-on Learning

At least part of the answer to Heather’s question could be answered in this post from Camille Rutherford.  The post itself is actually a sharing of a slidedeck from a presentation.

I always enjoy Camille’s presentation; my regret at the past BIT conference was only being able to sit in for a bit of her presentation.

However, as I click through the slide deck, I can hear her voice and wisdom in my head.


An All Day Math Inquiry. Is it Possible?

I wouldn’t know where to begin to attack this provocation given to Peter Cameron’s Grade 5/6 class.

But his students did.

What follows in this rather long post is a capture of their thinking and exploring on the topic.  It’s a rather enjoyable post to read and picture students plunking away at it.  After all, where but in northern Ontario would you find experts on the topic of snow?

As you read through the post, you’ll realize that there is indeed a full day’s worth of inquiry crossing over many subject areas.

What a great experience for these students.


I think that it’s terrific that this set of blog posts “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” leaves 2016 on such a high note.  Please take the time to click through and read/react to the wisdom shared in these posts.

If you can’t get enough, the complete series of posts is available here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday and Happy Last Friday if it applies.  Welcome to my weekly roundup of stories from Ontario Edubloggers that I was privileged to have read this past while.  Please enjoy.


EQUITY IN COLLABORATIVE SPACES

If you’re in education, you’ve had plenty of exposure to group work or, as Rusul Alrubail describes in her title “Collaborative Spaces”.

There’s a wonderful lesson here as Rusul extrapolates a personal experience into advice for every educator and/or potential worker in this space.

We’ve had groups a plenty as students and used it as a class organizer as a teacher.  We know that there will always be those who don’t pull their own weight; we know that there are some students that we can’t place with other students; we know that we need to be constantly monitoring the groups to ensure that everyone is working; we know that the great equalizer at the end of it will be the “group participation mark”.

But what happens when that space takes place online?  In this post, you’ll see Rusul’s insights where some of it is a refresher but some of it is new news.  Have you really considered what collaboration looks like when you take it online?  How do you handle it when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain and you’re left holding the bag?

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She provides a really insightful list of things to attend to in order to have success.  I’d hope that people would consider sharing this with students at a Faculty of Education.  There’s so much common sense wisdom in the post.

I’m also reminded as I read her post that equity doesn’t always mean equality.


Learning Design by Making Games

Unless you’ve been hiding somewhere, you know that the Hour of Code has been so big in schools the past while.  Sadly, for many, it’s on the par with watching a Christmas video.  Classes put in their hour, it’s checked off, and now it’s time to move on.

Jim Cash has been rightfully vocal about doing better than that.

In this post, Jim uses inspiration from Yasmin Kafai to suggest that it needs to be taken to the next level.  He gives an example of one class…

In the new year, they will be challenged with a complex task that closely mirrors that of Kafai’s study: designing an interactive game using Scratch to make the learning of fractions easy and fun for younger students.

This is crucial for success and making the time spent coding worthwhile.

If you “did” an Hour of Code, what’s your next step?


You Got This! Coding and the Empathetic Teacher

OK, one more post about coding and maybe this will be the one to inspire you to greater efforts.  This time, from Steven Floyd.

For me, the biggest takeaway from this is a reminder that none of us were born with the innate ability to teach.  We had to learn how to do it.  In today’s classroom with today’s challenges and today’s students, we are constantly learning and relearning how to teach.  That’s why schools have professional activity and professional development days.

So, why should teaching coding be any different.  Sure, there are “experts” who go around telling you how “easy” it is.  Don’t you just hate them?

The reality is that all computer science teachers are constantly on the learn.  Not much of what we learned at university is directly applicable in today’s K-12 classroom.  There are so many interests and opportunities to apply the concepts to the curriculum.  Or, perhaps you land at a school where they teach a completely different coding language.  Ask any computer science teacher and they’ll tell you that they are up at all hours learning and trying to find that technique that will make it appropriate for every student in the classroom.  One thing remains consistent across all grades; we’re interested in solving problems.

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So, if you believe that we are all lifelong learners, why not include some meaningful coding as part of your learning?  And, why not learn along with students rather than taking on the traditional role of imparter of everything worth learning?


How Reflecting On My Last #OneWord Goal Led To My New One

Aviva Dunsiger bought into the #OneWord meme last year and this post is an opportunity for her to reflect on her choice of “hearing”.

It’s nice to see that she’s comfortable enough to let us know that not everything was hunky dory with her choice.  Sure, there were successes but there were also some challenges.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I think that if there weren’t those challenges, she wouldn’t have been pushing herself enough.

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As I finished reading her post, I almost convinced myself that her one work for 2017 was going to be “amaze”.  But, a slower read reveals that it’s actually “perspective”.

What do you think?  A good choice?


The Progression of Multiplication

With apologies to David Rueben, Kyle Pearce’s post could easily have been “Everything you wanted to know about multiplication but were afraid to ask”.

It’s a long post but Kyle really takes on multiplication in a serious way.  It’s a great reminder that, despite what some people think, there isn’t just one way to learn mathematics.

progression-of-multiplication-area-models-and-standard-algorithm-featured-image

While I understand all the concepts addressed in the post, colour me a user of the “Standard” Algorithm.  How old does that make me feel?  At least he didn’t call it the “Classic” Algorithm.

So, if you want to get a history of everything multiplication from K-10, it’s a nice read.  I’d have no problem assigning it as reading for a student at a Faculty of Education.  There’s great stuff in here as well.

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And, hooray!  Despite what we read from the naysayers, there still is room in the curriculum for “paper and pencil”.  If only those people would read the complete message; we want all students to be successful in mathematics.


What Inspires Me

I think that everyone should take a moment and do a reflection like Matthew Morris does in this post.  What is it about “you” that makes “you” “you” in the classroom?

The answer is, I believe, a desire to reach every student at whatever level is necessary.

The best teachers always do this – sacrifice and work the angles, shuffle the blocks, and basically do whatever it takes.

These positive jabs slowly got this student to put more effort into his work. I then brought an old duotang of mine into school. He looked through it and looked at me as if he was saying to himself, “This guy did this in school but he is still kinda cool?”

I’m sure that I never made the status of “kinda cool” but I did try.


An Energy User’s Scavenger Hunt

I’m not sure who the author of the STAO blog is but this is an interesting concept.

After all, we are all energy users, right?

Read the post and then click through to a lesson plan.  It’s in .docx format so you can edit/adjust to suit your class.

A scavenger hunt can be used by teachers to direct student learning at any grade level. In this case, a set of carefully worded questions will introduce students to a new topic, ‘Energy Users’.


Thanks to all these wonderful bloggers for sharing their thoughts and ideas.  Please click through and enjoy the original posts.  You’ll be glad you did.  Oh, and drop them a comment before heading off to the big list for more great inspiration.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been quite a sick week for me.  I always seem to get one big cold each winter and somehow I got this one before Christmas.  It came at a pretty bad time.  I had agreed to do a presentation with Leslie Boercamp’s Hour of Code group.  It turned out that she had three locations tapped in and we went ahead despite the weather.  It sounded like they had a wonderful learning experience with their Hour of Code event.  Activities in coding ranged from “Block programming” to “Javascript programming”.  The group had some terrific questions to ask and I croaked back some responses.  One of the groups was at the Bruce-Grey Catholic’s Centre of Innovation.  I’ve got to weasel my way into a tour someday.  When the snow ends!  A Storify of their event is available here.


The Snowflake

I had another opportunity to see some Hour of Code activity.  This time, it was Peter Cameron’s class….

The class used some of the thoughts I had shared earlier this week in a blog post.  I followed along on Twitter for a bit and checked out the details in this post.  It sounds like there will be more as they close into Christmas holidays.

My thanks to Peter’s class for proofreading my post and helping me get it revised.


World Class…. again

Everyone needs to read this post from Tim King.  It’s probably the Canadian mentality that we feel like we’re not doing well enough.  But consider the source that’s telling you otherwise.

The PISA results for 2015 have been published and Canada is once again top ten (6th) in the world.  I imagine this means I’ll once again attend a bunch of Canadian educational conferences with American (30th best in the world) speakers who want to tell us how we need to completely re-imagine our (their) failed system.

Even with this good news, nobody’s saying that it’s time to relax – working on improvement is always the best option.

Take the time to read Tim’s analysis and you’ll feel pretty good about things.


It’s About More Than Beading …

Every now and again, Aviva Dunsiger writes a title for a blog post that makes me go “Wha????”

This time, it was using the term “Beading”.  What the heck is that?

After reading this post, I learned more about beading than I thought I ever would.

And, in true Aviva fashion, she tied the activity directly into the curriculum and also got us going by asking questions.

As children bead, they often talk. Sometimes they talk about their bead work, sometimes they talk about topics of interest, and sometimes their talk surprises you. This is what happened on Friday. I overheard some students playing with silly rhymes at the beading table as I recorded another learning moment in the classroom. My attention then turned back to this beading table.

Lots to learn, to be sure, and another confirmation that I’d be joining Aviva in the ever so stressed group!

But I’m sure that her students love it.


Two Thumbs Up for OPSBA’s EQAO Discussion Paper

This graph summarizing survey results kick off Andrew Campbell’s thoughts on the discussion paper on the topic of EQAO.

From the report itself, Andrew provides a list of the recommendations and the launches into his own reflections.

It’s interesting reading; the bigger question will be will it have an impact?

Will something happen now that it’s discussed in this manner from OPSBA instead of Teachers’ Federations?

I know many educators that hope that it will.


A Step in the Right Direction: #DiveIntoInquiry

At times, it’s so refreshing to find a resource that either confirms a philosophy or launches you into a new direction.  Colleen Rose found such a resource in the book Dive into Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie.

His assertion that Trevor’s book could address questions that had been occupying space in my mind was more than enough to keep me interested.  The emphasis on authenticity in the school environment, “practical approaches [married] with …theoretical and philosophical understandings“, and a “solid pedagogical framework” promised hope for someone yearning to connect the dots and establish order within my unknown vision of an ideal classroom setting.

What I like about this learning is that it isn’t something that’s laid on for her.  It’s something that she’s pursuing on her own.

It’s a wonderful example of showing your learning for the world to see.  Hopefully, by posting about it, Colleen will get a few people looking for the same thing.

Colleen follows up with some additional points to demonstrate her growth as a result of the book.


Standing Desks and Other Classroom Micro-environments

Lisa Cranston is taking another run at blogging by rebranding hers and then sharing some of her recent thinking.

Many people are exploring the concept of non-standard learning environments and reporting some successes.  For some students, it’s a welcome change and for others, it may be just what they need for self regulation.  As she notes:

Having said that, one student was still having difficulty even while he was standing – he was banging his metal water bottle, he was singing, he was bumping into the desks. After a few attempts at redirection, I finally had to say to him, “Adam*, you need to go sit on the carpet for a couple of minutes until you can join us at the game without distracting me so much.”  He went to the carpet and sat quietly while we continued to play, then after a minute announced, “I’m ready to come back.”

Lisa correctly notes that many of the examples for alternatives come from elementary school classrooms.  But that’s not necessarily the rule.

Even at the secondary school and post-secondary school level, you can expect to see things a little different.

Remember the tour of Peter Cameron’s classroom?


The True Meaning of Educational Leadership

This post, by Sue Bruyns will get you thinking.  So often posts like this lecture you on things that may well be something that you could have predicted before reading.

This was a little different and a reminder that it ain’t easy and schools and school leadership is more, far more, than just improving mathematics scores.

The true meaning of educational leadership can’t be neatly wrapped with a pretty bow, nor measured by the number of green vs red markers on a moderated task.  It needs to be an honouring of our past as we venture through the present and look towards the future.  And one never knows who will inform our leadership ~ we need to be open to the possibility of a trusted friend, with a figurative security blanket, being the best source of inspiration.

It’s a good reminder that we shouldn’t miss the big picture and that we should be prepared for those important moments that may not get to us in the traditional means.


What another wonderful week of great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take a moment or two to click through and read the original posts.  There’s lots of great content there guaranteed to get you thinking.

Fun with snowflakes


Given the abundance of snowflakes that have fallen recently, it’s easy to be a hater.

But step away and enjoy the absolute beauty of the snowflake.  Hopefully, you enjoyed coding a few of your own yesterday.  I know that I did enough to make me want to write the post Coding Snowflakes.

You certainly were given enough tools to draw from the simple to the more involved.

and hopefully, came up with some beauties of your own.

It’s not a coincidence that your snowflake is displayed on graph paper.  

There’s mathematics everywhere and it would be a shame to not acknowledge this.  Your snowflake would surely display nicely on a data projector and interactive whiteboard or large screen display.  The set of additional tools there really lend to some further exploration and understanding.

  • Can you draw a snowflake with exactly 10 vertices?
  • Can you find a Line of Symmetry for your snowflake?
  • How many Lines of Symmetry does your snowflake have?  Are you sure?  There may be more. Don’t make assumptions.
  • Inside your snowflake, can you find other images – rectangle, square, triangle?
  • How many vertices (vertexes?) can you count?
  • Will the number of vertices around the outside of your snowflake always be an even number?
  • How many separate lines make up your snowflake?
  • Can you measure the angles inside your snowflake?  Which angles are always the same?
  • Why does Doug have green snowflakes?