An Interview with Stephen Hurley


Screenshot 2017-10-16 at 12.15.47Stephen Hurley is one of the reasons why I love Twitter and the concept of creating a Personal Learning Network.  I’ve learned so much from him, I’ve driven by his community so many times, and yet we’ve never met face to face.  Yet, I feel like I know him so well.

Stephen is an educator, creator, and above all a thinker whose work and efforts have really pushed my thinking for so long.  For that, I’m so grateful.

Doug:  We’ve certainly never met face to face but we’ve been connected for so long.  Do you recall when our paths first crossed online?

Stephen: It has seemed like close to forever! I believe that we first encountered each other virtually when I began my journey into Internet broadcasting through #ds106radio. That would have been after the very first Unplugged gathering that Rodd Lucier et al convened at the Northern Edge of Algonquin Park. That event led me to Andy Forgrave and so many others.

Doug: One of the areas where you’ve pushed me is in using more than blogs and text has been in the area of multimedia, specifically audio. This certainly has ties to your years in the classroom. Can you share a bit of your background?

Stephen: You know how to get me talking! I realized that I wanted a career in radio when I was in grade 4. It was the mid-60’s, just after the release of the Hall-Dennis Report here in Ontario. Things were changing. I was in an open concept classroom that year and the teacher recognized something about me that led her to hand me a microphone and cassette tape recorder. I recall being allowed to sit in an area of the classroom for hours at a time (well, it seemed like hours) creating my own “broadcasts”. My bedroom at home became my studio. Radio Shack eventually became a second church and I spent years nurturing an appreciation for the sound of the human voice (not just my own). In high school, I listened to talk radio, applied to become a summer reporter with CFRB and wanted desperately to go to Ryerson for Radio and Television Arts (I still long to enrol in that program). At the time, Ryerson was a Polytechnic Institute, and my parents wouldn’t have anything to do with the idea. This, of course, made my passion for this stuff even stronger.

When I finally began a career in education, the love of audio continued to influence how I taught, and how I spent my time preparing for lessons. I used to spend hours during the year and entire days during the summer months at our District AV/Tech facility, looking for multi-media resources, using their technology to create my own resources and imagining how sound, music and video could be combined to create powerful learning experiences. My assignments and projects would always include a multi-media option and I was always excited when students got excited about exploring the tools and technology available to them for creation.

My love and appreciation for media and, in particular, radio has only become stronger and I’m excited that, today, students and teachers have so many more ways to bring a sense of voice to their work!

Doug: You’re very active with the Canadian Education Association. Can you give us an example of some of the things that you contribute there?

Stephen: I encountered the CEA for the first time when I attended one of their annual symposia in Montreal back at the turn of the century. I knew immediately that this was an organization that I wanted to work with at some point in my career, but it wasn’t until a few years later that the opportunity presented itself. I started blogging for Edutopia in 2008 and it was through that work that Max Cooke, communication director for the CEA got in touch with me to do some writing for their magazine, Education Canada. I took that as an opportunity to reconnect with the organization and submitted a proposal to begin a series of podcasts under the banner, Teaching Out Loud. The idea was to raise the voices and stories of educators right across the country. Well, one thing led to another, and I soon found myself working with the CEA on some fairly robust research and facilitation pieces, including Teaching the Way You Aspire to Teach; The Challenge to Change and, most recently, the EdCan Network Regional Exchanges. Each of these projects has allowed me to move across the country and talk to education shareholders at various levels, listening to their aspirational stories and, in a very real sense, help the organization keep its ear to the ground across the country.

Doug: What prompted you to take the leap into voiceEd Radio?

Stephen: Leap is the right word to use. It’s a great description for most things that I do. Sometimes I make it across the moat, and sometimes I don’t! Back in December, I was reading The Age of Discovery by Chris Kutarna. It’s all about how we’re living in a period of Renaissance and there was one line, in particular, that caught my attention and imagination. It had to do with the idea that, in a period of renaissance, the lines between creator and consumer are blurred. Internet radio is one way that the lines between listener and broadcaster have been blurred.

I thought of my foray into the world of Internet Radio a few years ago with #ds106radio.
Something clicked and I quickly began to connect some possibilities.

5 years ago, I started voicEd.ca—a multi-author blogspace dedicated to deepening and broadening some of the conversations that we have about education. It wasn’t a great leap to begin to imagine how that writing space could be transformed by the addition of a radio space.

Within 24 hours, I found myself owning a radio station!

Doug: I was pleased when you asked me to do a regular bit on there and talk about some of the blog posts that I feature on my regular Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”. What made you think of inviting me?

Stephen: That was easy! I had been reading your This Week in Ontario Edublogs feature for a long time and, as I tried to imagine the type of content that we could bring to life on voicEd Radio, you were one of the first people that came to mind. Why couldn’t we use the radio to deepen the story around your featured blogs, their impact and the people behind them. We’ve never met face-to-face, but the weekly conversation make it seem like we’ve known each other for a long time.

Doug: I recall my first attempt at getting connected; I needed to really think about the gear on my end. I had the wrong browser, a microphone that didn’t give the results that you wanted, a reminder to close the door and keep external noises out, and so more including turning the fan off on hot summer days. Now that we have a routine, it’s pretty simple. Just the correct browser and my noise cancelling headphones and I’m good to go. But, things are far more sophisticated on your end. Can you share what’s in your studio to make it work?

Stephen: I broadcast from “the cave” in Milton and it is pretty simple. I have an iMac computer with a 27” screen. That gives me enough visual real estate to keep everything in front of me from a software perpsective.

I also have a PreSonus Firepod that allows me to plug in up to 8 mics. This connects to a simple piece of software called NiceCast. That drives the live broadcasts.

In terms of gathering guests in the room, I use Zencastr as a type of virtual “kitchen table”.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to integrate my electronic music software into the mix in order to create some original intro and outro music for broadcasts.

I’m just starting to gather the resources to allow voicEd Radio to head out on the road. At the beginning of November, we’ll be broadcasting live from 3 separate events, and we’re pretty excited about that!

Doug: The results certainly are very professional and I enjoy digging into the archived programs available on the voiceEd site. As I write this, I’m listening to your interview with Paul McGuire. We’ve chatted and you indicate that this is a personal project of yours. All of the setup is totally funded by you?

Stephen: voicEd Radio is a non-commerical/non-monetized project. Currently, it’s completely self-funded. I’m spending the first year playing with concepts and ideas in an effort to create a sense of value in the community. After our first year anniversary, I will begin looking for alternative structures, some funding models and some governance structures that work for us.

I’m actually looking for folks that might have some interest in helping me imagine how BlockChain technology might allow us to create a different metaphor for funding and value.

Doug: So, it’s a project that’s just gone wild! I do recall a conversation that we had once about the music on voiceEd. Many, including me, might guess that you just take license with YouTube but you go the whole distance with licensing. Can you tell us how and why it’s so important to you?

Stephen: I believe in attribution, but I also believe in making sure that I’m contributing to the livelihood of those artists whose work we use. My work on the Board of Directors for Access Copyright has attuned me to some of the copyright issues that are “out there” in the content ecosystem. It’s very important to me that I’m respecting those conversations, as well as the laws currently in place.

From the very start, we’ve had a non-interactive music license with SOCAN. Under our license, 80% of our station content can be music. We play very little music, with the exception of the work of some education-related singer/songwriters. But we also use music clips for intros and outros.

I’m not sure whether we’re in full compliance, but I’m working to explore with SOCAN what all of this means for us and our podcasters/broadcasters.

Doug: Recently, in looking for new blog posts, I fell into the blog area on voiceEd Radio and recognized some of the names there and found a few new names. What does it take to become a voiceEd Radio blogger?

Stephen: Simply a desire to share your thoughts and ideas in a respectful way. Currently we have contributions from some of our radio personalities, and some folks who would just like to write. I’m working on nurturing the blogging side of things in the months to come.

Doug: You even now have a Community Manager. Can you tell us about her and what her duties are?

Stephen: So, Sarah Lalonde is in the second year of her teacher preparation program at the University of Ottawa. She has been involved with voicEd Radio right from the start and has been instrumental in supporting its development.

Sarah has enthusiastically agreed to be our Community Manager. Sarah has embraced our social media presence, creating promotional materials for a variety of platforms, ensuring that social media announcements are up-to-date and helping me program the live stream each day. She is also a great sounding board for some of the crazy ideas that I sometimes have!

But Sarah is also a wonderful contributor to the voicEd community. She hosts her own podcast, is an active participant in others and is a great advocate for voicEd Radio.

Doug: voiceEd Radio continues to grow and you’ve given us an indication that it will expand again in November. What should be on our radar?

Stephen: As I’m writing this, we have so many exciting projects coming on to voicEd Radio. We have a 4-week series coming up with writer Ann Douglas, a six-week series with an Australian-born parent, Lois Letchford. We’re working with the Ontario Ministry of Education to launch season two of our mathematics exploration with Cathy Fosnot. Nancy Angevine-Sands is coming on to do some work on Parent Engagement and, in November, we’re launching the voicEd Radio Mobile—live broadcasting from events around the province and, eventually, around the world.

But those initiatives don’t tell the whole story. What started as a personal project has turned into a community and voicEd Radio is taking on a life of its own. It’s quickly becoming the open-space environment that I hoped it would become. And, as that happens, my name will fade a little more into the background and others will begin to emerge!

Doug: I am excited that we will actually meet. Plans are for us to do an episode of This Week in Ontario Edublogs live at the Minds on Media event at the Bring IT, Together Conference. It’s one thing to use your home studio but how will you take all this “on the road:?

Stephen: So, we’re looking to use the sound facilities already in place at conferences in events. A small USB interface will allow us to take sound right from the mixing board and feed it into a laptop computer. Then, hopefully, we have a live broadcast. I’m excited to explore, take some video of the process and share that with others.

My dream is to create a cadre of people across the country who would be available to do similar things at events in their areas. If I’m able to get some funding for this, we’ll be able to provide some of that equipment for people.

Doug: Recently, you had a Radio-a-thon at Voiced Radio. What was the inspiration for this? How did it go?

Stephen: Ah, 15 hours straight of live radio. What could be better? This was one of those ideas that came up in conversation over the summer. Several of us were thinking about back-to-school and how we might leverage the excitement of this time of the year to gain some traction for voicEd Radio. We actually had to expand our original plan for 12 hours as the requests to participate kept coming in! So, we began at 9:00 am and held the stream for 15 straight hours. It really solidified the community feel for this place, and we look forward to having more of these events in the future.

Doug: Even though you’ve left formal education, family life keeps you well grounded in the day to day education routine. Here’s a chance to brag about your family that you bring into our show regularly.

Stephen: It is a real gift for me to remain connected to the education system through my two boys, Luke and Liam. They are so different in the way that they approach the world that they’re allowing me to see their school experience from two totally different perspectives. Liam has a really vivid imagination and plans each and every day in his head before it even begins. Luke, on the other hand, is a puzzler—he loves codes, puzzles, intellectual challenges and the like. Both of the boys push the capacity of the system in different ways and it has been interesting to watch them grow from children into students. My wife, Zoe, is a middle school visual arts teacher and allows me to stay connected with the day-to-day life a practicing teacher. I love to think at the 30 000 foot level. My family keeps me close to the ground for at least a few hours a day.

Doug: Do you see a time where voiceEd radio gets too big for you and your Community Manager to manage? What happens then?

Stephen: That’s already started to happen. So, I’m starting to rely more on the community to offer ideas, advice and support. We’re just about to launch a request for voicEd Radio folks to contribute to a series of online tutorials under the “PodCamp” banner. We want to be able to gather together to support people that may want to become part of our radio team, but may be reluctant. Technical support, interviewing skills, bringing ideas to life, etc—these will all be part of what we hope will be a dynamic and vivid set of resources!

I’m also on the lookout for an effective way to grow the infrastructure, so that it continues to draw educators, parents, researchers and community members to this space. Lots of work to do, and lots of thinking to do. But I believe that we’re off to a great start!

Doug: Thank you so much for taking the time to share these details with folks, Stephen. I really appreciate it and I hope that people take the time to listen and perhaps even get involved with voiceEd Radio.

Stephen: I appreciate the opportunity to think out loud about all of this. I would encourage people who want to know more, or who have specific ideas about how they might become involved to reach out. Our tagline at voicEd Radio is: Your voice is RIGHT here!

You can connect with Stephen in these ways:

On Twitter, @Stephen_Hurley and @voicEdcanada
Stephen’s personal website: http://www.stephenhurley.ca/
voiceEd Radio: https://voiced.ca
The voiceEd blog: https://voiced.ca/voiced-blog/

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Coding with Emoji


I’ll admit; I was not a fan of drag and drop coding in the beginning.  After all, I learned to program using Fortran and learning that knowing syntax was key to success.  I learned all the instructions and eventually understood all the nuances that can get in the road of a successful program.

Even programming for young students via Logo was text based.  So, there you had it.  Coding = Knowing the Language.  Done.

Even working with HTML was best done with a text editor.  Sure, there were WYSIWYG editors where you could just drop things into place and they worked for about 95% of what you needed.  A tweak here and there often required going into the source code the editor generated to make it perfect.

Well, as we know by now, that mentality has long gone.  There are many drag and drop options; probably Scratch and Blockly are two of the more popular.

Recently, I ran into a site, Codemoji,  that supports and offers courses for HTML, JS, and CSS – using Emojis!  The courses range from Beginner to Expert.  There are options for free access and premium access for a fee.

I really was taken by the environment.  Here’s part of the HTML collection.

Screenshot 2017-10-15 at 09.37.32

It truly is drag and drop from these tools to the work space.  For those of us who like our code, there’s the option to switch to a code only work space to see what these emoji tell the computer to do.  Quite frankly, when you choose an emoji, the description given is among the best descriptions that I’ve seen.  You’ll have to give it a try to appreciate it.

Of course, you’re not limited to just the HTML as part of the playground.  There’s an option to create your own animations (complete with sound effects).

There’s a great deal of fun to be had here; you should check it out.  Oh, and it’s really educational as well.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another issue of This Week in Ontario Edublogs, a chance for me to share some of the great reading that I’ve enjoyed recently.  This week is no different.  Here are some terrific blog posts to enjoy.

Don’t be intimidated even if it is Friday the 13th.


Why do we need heroes?

So many schools in Canada use September as a chance to celebrate the Marathon of Hope and Terry Fox.  This post from Heidi Solway is a wonderful post sharing her thoughts about Terry Fox as her personal hero and the need for all of us to have heroes.  What makes it so important, particularly since the Marathon was a long time ago, is that there are times where students need to be assisted in finding their own heroes.  Left to their own choices, they may be overly influenced by other things.

Heidi also shares a beautiful poem that she penned personally.  On the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio program, Stephen Hurley and I talked about all this.  As we turned to this poem, I’ll admit to choking up and shared the moment with Heidi.  She noticed it as she listened to the program!


We have the technology…We can build Schools of the Future

I was a bit skeptic when I read the title to Ramona Meharg’s post.  Heck, we’ve had “the technology” for years and the schools that we see today are the future that that technology has built.  Are they significantly better?  A case could be made that they’re actually worse today.  We now have environments where parts of the technology have been locked out or disabled by IT Departments.  It’s a survival mechanism for them since we have so much technology and they’re charged with keeping it functional.  We also have school systems that buy it as quickly as they can without providing quality professional learning to go along with it.

Beyond the technology of things, Ramona talks about the technology of humans which makes the concept so much more appealing and obtainable.  She talks about what’s possible when you marry the technology of stuff with the technology of humans.

The result?

Students would be banging down our doors, begging to come in and learn. I wanna teach at THAT school.

Doesn’t everyone?


One Month In…

… only nine more to go?

Jennifer Aston takes us into the reality of her September.  As a secondary school teacher, the concept of “reorganization” was foreign to me but even I have empathy for someone who goes from a class of 23 in Grade 6 one day to 30 in a 5/6 split the next day.

Read about her story and the technology that she has lined up to help her meet expectations from two grades.

I went through elementary school in split classes.  We were told that the logic of being in the split class as opposed to the other straight class was that we were thought to be motivated, self-starters.  I’m almost positive that I shouldn’t have been in that category!  But it’s easy to see that technology support should make management of things easier.

The neat thing is that student blogging is on her horizon.

Sounds like things are going to be exciting in her class.


Are We Enabling Students to be Explorers of Deep Learning?

I’d hazard a guess that, if you asked every teacher that question, just about everyone would say “Yes, of course”.

Rola Tibshirani talks about what it means to her and offers three other questions.

  • How have we been shaping up the learning?
  • How are students owning the process?
  • How are students focusing on a purpose for their learning?

I think these are better questions.  I really like the examples that she shares.  They’re simple concepts but require some really deep thinking, research, and understanding.  They’re also grounded in culture, empathy, and a scenario that I would guess most students would never have personally experienced.

Some worked on designing a toy for children in refugee camps. The teams who are working on science began exploring the design thinking process by looking at an injured bird with a missing a leg.

Lots of pictures and descriptions go along with her reflection.


On Connections and being Connected

Peter Cameron was on voicEd radio and the discussion got around to talking about “connections” and “being connected” via Derk Rhodenizer’s #WordinProgress show.

I think what I am having difficulty understanding is the difference between how be define a “connection” and a “relationship”.

To me, the answer looks pretty easy.  You can have “connections” to basically anyone.  Or, anything.  But a “relationship” or “being connected” means so much more.

To me, it implies that there’s a give and take and both (or all) parts of those “being connected” are all the richer for the experience.  A “connection”, on the other hand, could be a one sided interaction where the value is siphoned off in one direction only.

I think the concept gets blurred because there are people who self-identify as “connected educator” or “connected learner” where, in reality, they may take things in but contribute nothing back in return.


Exploding Dots for Global Math Week

You’re probably aware of Exploding Dots if you’ve been following Global Math Week.

Kyle Pearce write a rather lengthy post chocked full of ideas and activities to support things from his end.

2017-10-12_0841

Dig in.

Mathematics can and should be fun.


Twitter, Educators and Dissent

I’ve been in a lot of Twitter chats and online discussion where the duration of the talk can be, oh, ten minutes or so.  Some Twitter chats force it to an hour with a Q&A format which allows everyone to come in and show their knowledge by entering as much edubabble as they can.

But, last weekend, a provocation from Paul McGuire turned into a three day marathon discussion where everyone was shooting from the hip.  It didn’t matter what time of the day or night you looked into the stream, there was always an interesting discussion.  sans hashtag too.

It inspired me to write a few posts summarized what I gleamed from the discussion.  Paul wraps up his thoughts in this post and gives credit to many of the participants.

And, it all started with a simple question.

What does Twitter do for educators? Content creation? Constructive feedback? Displaying work? Ideas? https://t.co/iUZ5TeBg9D via @mcguirp

— Paul McGuire (@mcguirp) October 8, 2017

In the post, you’ll find a link to a Storify document that Paul generated to keep the discussion in one place.  I think it would be an interesting exercise to diagram the discussion as well.

Is there a tool already created to do that?  Please let me know of one if it exists.


There are always great things coming from the blogs of Ontario Educators.  I keep that Livebinder updated as I find new content but I can’t find them all.  Please use the form there and add your own if it’s not there.  And, if you find a blog post from an Ontario Educator that you think should be highlighted in this weekly post, please let me know.

Your call to action – click through and read all of these wonderful blog posts.  Share one of them with colleagues.  Together, we can build groups of fans to support these wonderful thought leaders.

The right to tweet


The conversation behind the “P” in PLN post I made yesterday continued into Sunday.  And, because I was in the original message, I got notifications for them all.

The content had changed as well.  Participants had got away from PLN for learning and the conversation got around to discussing whether or not teachers should be or are free to converse about anything they wanted.

I had half an eye on the conversation but my real focus was on the Japanese Grand Prix.  Once Vettel’s red car left the race though, I spent more time paying attention to what was going on.

I caught the conversation when it turned to administrators monitoring individual teacher accounts.  I’ll admit that I was skeptic; is that really a task for someone who is running a school and making all that money?  But, it wasn’t just one of two side notes; there were a number of people who indicated that this was a reality.  Even the troll who chooses to be anonymous that I had previously blogged about left a comment.

It was interesting as well to see the conversation turn to more people choosing to become anonymous.  Quite frankly, they get zero credibility from me.  If you want to have credibility and a believable voice, it needs to be personal and accountable.

This isn’t the first rodeo around this topic and I’m sure that it won’t be the last.  I can remember an OTF session years ago about this and the advice from Bob Fisher “Don’t Do Stupid Things.”

In the discussion, Andrew Campbell pointed us to a recent update by the Ontario College of Teachers and its advice.

PROFESSIONAL ADVISORY – USE OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL MEDIA

But there are issues.  Do you challenge a decision made by a school or a district by taking it to Twitter?  In the fire hydrant of tweets, will it really be caught by those who could make change?  Is there not a better way to bring a topic forth than tweeting about it?  Any school or district worth its salt will have a process for input.

Also into the discussion, we had a principal, Twitter user David Garlick.  I asked him, as a principal, what his approach would be.  I captured his thoughts in this Storify document.

https://storify.com/dougpete/principal-role

There was a great deal of solid discussion and I’d encourage you to follow it if you’re interested.  Paul McGuire has created his own Storify document to save the discussion.

https://storify.com/mcguirp/what-does-twitter-do-for-educators-content-creatio

What are your thoughts?  Twitter never closes down so you’re able to jump into the continuing conversation where you feel appropriate.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The wealth of information and thought generated from Ontario Edubloggers continues to grow.  Check out these posts for your weekly bits of inspiration.


Three Chains On

So many people justify what they wear as a need to “be me”.  In this post, Matthew Morris talks about why he wears three chains to class when he teaches.  (Picture included)

According to this post, it’s not a fashion statement but an attempt on his part to change the hero mindset that he sees in his students.

A lot of what I find important in my practice happens beyond the classroom lessons in Math, English and Science. Every single day, I push to elevate the importance of learning academic skills in my classroom but I am also aware that not every student I encounter is going to find his or her happiness through a college degree and an elite-status profession.

After reading his post, I understand his position.  It would be interesting to see if his rationale is understood by his students.


Three Ways To Fix EQAO

In the light of news that the Ministry of Education will be rethinking a number of things about education in Ontario, Andrew Campbell steps in with some suggestions.

Selection_001

When I originally saw the title to the post, I think I probably expected some very off the wall suggestions or perhaps even a tongue biting post.

Instead, Andrew offers three common sense and reasonable suggestions.

  • Randomized Testing
  • Only Publish School Board Results
  • End High Stakes Testing

Read his developed thoughts on each of these points.  I think it would be difficult to argue against any of them.

A school system that is highly strung because of the pressure to perform should welcome these suggestions.


Exhausted but Worth It

Every teacher will tell you that there are huge benefits for starting the school off on the right foot.  It sends positive messages to everyone, including the teacher, who will have a long range plan for that learning environment.

Imagine going to school only to meet this!

Our morning began with us being locked out of our classroom (wink, wink) when I realize that I have mistakenly placed my keys in the BreakoutEDU box. The students were up for the challenge of solving “Oh, The Places We’ll Go” to retrieve the keys! Why would I do this on the first day…. for FUN of course

Such was the start for the day for Zelia Capitao-Tavares’ students.

Of course, it didn’t stop there.  This is a very complete recount of an incredibly busy first day.

No wonder she was exhausted.


Musings Of A New(ish) Teacher On The First Days Of The School Year

More news from the first days of school, this time from Arianna Lambert.

Gone are the days of finding your seat and staring at the front of the room wondering was was in store.

With new students come new name tags.  But, these aren’t ordinary name tags; they are STEAM inspired.

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It’s activities like this and the promise of more that keep students running back to school.


Creation Can Be Agony: Thoughts on Crafting a TEDx Talk

I am in total agreement with the message from Matthew Oldridge’s tale of how to create a TEDx talk.  That could easily be extended to a lesson, a presentation, a blog post, even walking in and buying a new car.

Sitting down and systematically creating your product may well be the least productive way of doing these sorts of tasks.

Instead, give your brain the opportunity to do its thing – in the background.

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So, maybe we shouldn’t make fun of the presenter who makes “one last change” to a presentation moments before going live.

It may at that point that the subconscious has put the finishing touches on the thought!


Neglect Nothing…Or so we thought!

What an exciting opportunity that Sue Bruyns has.  She’s the principal of a newly opened school in the Thames Valley District School Board.  What’s there to worry about?  Here’s a picture of the construction from April.

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What struck me about this post was that it really had two different themes.

Stuff

Delays in furniture deliveries, ongoing construction projects, missing resource orders, partial pieces of this and that

People

active learning happening in classes, numeracy assessments, Terry Fox Run, soccer games, planting trees in our community and even a school wide event wherein we all painted a memory piece for future generations are just a few of the amazing first month accomplishments

The stuff will come eventually.  But, a great base of people interested in the cause of seeing the school succeed will beat a lack of “stuff”.


An Interview with Mary-Ann Fuduric

Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Mary-Ann Fuduric, Executive Director for the Learning Disabilities Association of Windsor-Essex County.

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If you didn’t have a chance to read the interview in the original post, you can do it now.


Thanks, again, to all the above for sharing their thoughts with us.  Please take a moment to click through and read the original posts.

While you’re at it, make sure that you follow these folks on Twitter.

If you’re an Ontario Education blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Friday!  And another chance to take a wander around the province looking at the great things that have appeared on the blogs of great Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find time today or on the weekend to check these out.


Un système d’excellence, pas une brosse à poissons

I thought that I had read every possible angle to professional learning until I read this post from Joel McLean.  I understand, and actually live, his description about keeping dandelions off my lawn.  The lawn does indeed look good when it’s freshly cut.  But then, they come back.  <grrrr>

I think that most professional learning facilitators can see their world in this way.  For that moment during the cutting/learning session or immediately afterwards, things look good.  But then, the dandelions come back.  It takes a bigger, systemic approach to really make the change to your lawn that you want.

I’d actually seen this analogy before.

But, what I hadn’t seen was the discussion of cleaning the fish tank.  Read it and see if it doesn’t bring to mind professional learning sessions you’ve attended.

You’ll smile; I’m sure you’ll nod; and you’ll now have a great analogy for change.


Keyboarding

Andy Forgrave jumped in with a post in response to my post bemoaning the lack of formal keyboarding instruction.  And, I think he agrees with me judging by his concluding sentence.

Touch-typing/copy-typing remains a valuable skill in 2017, and kids should learn it early on, to supplement the continually improving methods of voice-input.

But, in getting there, be prepared for a history of keyboarding efforts in the province.

  • Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
  • Almena
  • Dragon Natural Speaking
  • Read and Write for Google Chrome

We saw eye to eye on the hunter and pecker approach but he offered a new mode – the Columbus method.

The bottom line is that we need to find some way to have students acquire these skills.  In the past, we’ve learned to print and then learned cursive.  Cursive is all but gone.  If we think the natural transition is printing to keyboarding, there has to be a way to support it.

Our discussion turned to programming where you use brackets and parentheses quite a bit and Andy shared this resource if you’re going to use Siri for dictation.

http://www.siriuserguide.com/siri-dictation-guide/


Defining Moments

The meme continues!

This time from Tina Zita who apologizes for not having five.  That’s OK; the three that she offers could easily be expanded to five if meeting quota was a requirement for posting.  Fortunately, it isn’t.

Check out her thoughts about

  • Wait
  • Community

and the other one.

Once again, I’ll bet that you see elements of yourself in her post.  This meme has been great for reflection and further thinking.

If you haven’t written a post of your own, please consider doing it.


Appreciating My Circumstances

I love this post and its honesty from Eva Thompson.  I made myself a note – everyone should be able to write a post like this.

And, if you can’t, you should consider getting a different job.

Selection_001

Experience is always priceless in teaching.  Oh, and the ability to see the future.

Regardless of how difficult or challenging the current moment might be, good teachers always see the best on the horizon.

Take a moment and reflect on how you appreciate your current circumstances.  You may not put it to a blog post like Eva did, but I’ll bet that there are so many things that you value.


Conferences Long Ago and Coming Up as Practical PD

Diana Maliszewski takes us on a trip of her professional learning experiences for this fall.  I think it’s exciting that she and her daughter will be headed to Phoenix.

This is why I decided that for this school year (2017-2018) the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) conference in Phoenix would be my only big library conference. I am paying all the expenses associated with attending AASL myself (flight, registration in ALA, registration for the conference, accommodations, and food). That’s a lot of money, especially considering that my daughter will be accompanying me as a co-presenter!

Is Phoenix ready for them? What costumes will they wear?

I recall a NACOL Conference that I attended there years ago.  It’s hot!  But, I had to visit the University of Phoenix Stadium to see the grass.  We were lucky; it was outside when we visited.

What’s even more interesting is that Diana dug up a conference report from a long time ago and has scanned the pages and shared them with us.  It’s actually quite interesting reading.

Do you ever wonder if the principal, union, or superintendent that you submit these to actually reads them themselves?


Make Your Students Love Books As Much As You Do

Stepan Pruchnicky had a learning experience as a LTO “Teacher Librarian”.

The job was “Teacher Librarian”, and I had no idea what I was doing. I remember confiding my fears to my principal. Her advice: “make kids love books as much as you do.” The advice stuck. I have kept it in mind for the past twelve years.

Of course, this is premised on the fact that he loved books.  And, what educator would not agree?

The balance of the post lists six suggestions that he offers to help the process.  They’re all good advice and the very best education will definitely make #6 happen.


How does this happen?

And, we close on a sad note.

Aviva Dunsiger’s father passed away and she took to her blog to let us know about it.  It’s not something that I would do but does illustrate another way that people use the blogging space.

She offers some advice from the experience.

Today’s heart-breaking experience has reminded me of something important: savour the small moments.

My sympathies go out to Aviva.


Please take a moment and click through and enjoy this collection of blog posts from Ontario Educators.  There’s some great content and reflect there.

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 paper.li 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.