This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday.  Check out some great articles from Ontario Edubloggers.

Tweeting as an Organization

I think I’ve been insulted by this post from Royan Lee.

I’m part of the group that he calls an “underground party of misfits”.  Well, maybe it’s a badge of honour instead of an insult?  I can remember fighting to get Twitter unblocked; I can remember trying to get people see the value of connecting and learning on Twitter.  I probably failed more than succeeded at the time.  I’ll bet there are lots of dormant accounts.  In a technology world, we expect to get immediate gratification.  I’m sure that not all people “got it” at the time.  Success only comes when you work it.

As Royan correctly continues, things have certainly changed over the years.  I have to smile when I see people who “don’t want to see a picture of what you had for lunch” now becoming active.  What does it mean as an organization though?  Used properly, I think that it is absolutely the sign of an organization that is growing and learning together.  But, to be effective, it has to be more than just retweeting thoughts of others.  Are members also reflecting and creating new knowledge?  Are they sharing their professional reading and learning as a result?  Are they recognizing the best practices?  Are they promoting the great things that their colleagues are doing?

We Just Clicked

And, if you want to see it in action, check out this post from Diana Maliszewski.

I’ve mentioned so many times about how it can be lonely within a school.  Going outside the physical walls, using social media and the power of its connections, can result in amazing things.

You’ve got to check out this post – complete with a collection of Twitter messages to validate her message – and use it to convince anyone who questions the value of being connected.  When you make stellar connections like this, there’s no stopping you.

Diana definitely reinforces the message that you don’t need to learn alone.

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

Maybe this is the place to start.  Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a blueprint for success that begins at the humble staff meeting.

How many of these will you suffer your way through during your career?  This is a plan for engagement of staff who perhaps expected another sit and git and listen to the reading of recent memos.

Could it change the culture in your school?

Could it model what could be done if you decided to bring the concept into your own classroom?

Could it be a lesson for a principal’s course?

Conversations about parent-teacher interviews

It really is the season.

Here, Sheila Stewart pulls together older blog posts from Nancy Angevine-Sands, Rusul Alrubail, and me about our thoughts on parent-teacher interviews.  There were some interesting points about the process.  It might serve well as an inspiration or refresher before the next event.  Most teachers are getting ready for them over the next few weeks in the province.

Design Process Thinking: Mind Mapping

I’m a big fan of Mind Mapping.  I’ve used many mind mapping tools over the years and have had a lot of favourites.  Maybe it’s the fact that I learned how to program and document coding with flowcharts but the essence of what can be done is so powerful.  Consequently, I really enjoyed this post from Colleen Rose.

What was so powerful about this post, after setting the context, was Colleen sharing some of the mind maps that her students created and then reflected on each.

These show real evidence of complex thinking and connections.  Check them out.

Analyzing a Bike Rim in 5 Days

Alex Overwijk is on a mission to bring the practical and just plain fun and engaging activity into his MHF course.  It involved a trip to the local bicycle store for manipulatives and he effectively set the table for the students to “discover and experience more of the Trigonometry in the course”.

My original intent for this activity was to redo the radian plate activity and the radian war activity from this site. This is where I have grown. I am thinking what else can I do with this (thank you #MTBOS for #WCYDWT) This post reflects my creative juices in squeezing curriculum out of an activity. Hope you enjoyed. Honestly – this activity feels like what I envisioned for a spiraled course and wrote about back in 2013. #makeitstick #spiraling #activitybasedlearning #interleaving

The post is, in effect, a very complete lesson plan for the activity.  It can’t help but be a great deal of fun and learning for the students.

Why 50?

Have you ever wondered why the Bring IT, Together conference has 50 minute sessions?  Read this post to find out.

How’s that for a start to your Friday morning.  Great posts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and read the entire posts.

Have a great weekend.

An internet simulator

I’ve been working my way through’s CS Principles widgets and having a terrific time.  There has been some great thought and originality put into the design and implementation of the individual widget. 

I’ve worked my way down to the Internet Simulator.

If you’re interested, you’ll undoubtedly be advised to read the lesson plans first.  These not simple activities without some background and understanding but then the internet isn’t a simple thing to begin with!

This is a great simulator to gets hands on and learn about internet communications.

If you’re teaching the concepts, you’ll definitely want to add this to your toolkit.

A cipher widget

Another widget from takes you on the route to encrypting messages.  If you’re going to send a message, you need to do something a little sophisticated than what we did in elementary school which, if I recall, was as simple as moving each character in the message one ahead.  So, DOUG becomes EPVH.  Then, you’d pass the note along to a friend who would roll the characters back one to get the original message.  And, you’d also have rules like what to do when you use a Z or punctuation mark.

You’d be hard pressed to decrypt my message of the day.  “FBFVXGYXCFWOHAWKCEHINF”, I’ll bet.  But if you use the Vigenere Cipher Widget, it’s a piece of cake.

You need to provide a couple of things.

  • your message
  • your secret key

Then, let the widget do its thing.  

Using your secret key, it will take the original message and code it for you.

When you press the play button to make the magic happen, you can see the widget at work as it determines how to encrypt your message.  

Of course, the process can work in reverse as you take your encrypted message and decrypt it.  

Falling from this could be a great discussion about how you do banking and make online purchases safely.  Or even something as simple as sending an encrypted message to someone that they would later decrypt and read.  Of course, you don’t send the key and the text in the same message.

The best thing to happen?

After poking around for a little while, the inspired Computer Science student will want to write a routine of their own.  That always puts activities like this over the top.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, everyone.  I hope that today finds you in great shape with your classes after this short week.

Continue this happiness with some great blog reading from Ontario Edubloggers.


I was intrigued by just the title of this post from Rusul Alrubail.

Then, I had to check to see if I was on the right site.  This wasn’t written by her!  In fact, it was an introduction to a podcast interview between Rusul and Rolland Chidiac.

Once I got my head around this, I listened to this 45 minute interview.

It was indeed very interesting and I learned so much more about both Rusul and Rolland.

How Learning To “Get Down” Changed Things For Me!

Aviva Dunsiger wrote another wonderful post that was really a narrative and then a reflection on a real life experience for her.  The whole post is worth reading twice.  Once to understand the situation that Aviva describes.  Then, take a second read and inject yourself into the situation.

Would you be asking yourself the same questions that Aviva asked herself?

Would I have focused on punishment instead of focusing on solving the problem? Would I have seen this behaviour as “misbehaviour” versus “stress behaviour,” and would this perception have changed my actions? 

Riding Around Town

How can you not like a post that includes the words “I have a wonderful job”!  Sue Dunlop rang the bell with those words recently.

She tied her thoughts into International Walk (or Roll) to School Day.  I didn’t know one existed.  I certainly could never have biked to the locations that I needed to be at, for the most part.  But I suppose there were a few.

But, I’ve got to tell you — I had this vision of her flying down the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton.  My geographic knowledge of Hamilton isn’t all that good.  Would that area be classified as downtown?

Teaching cell phone photography

The title to this post from Brandon Grasley is almost as long as the post itself!  But, it’s well worth the read because there’s a link to his digital photography handout.

Race to Nowhere

While we’re on the topic of short posts, check out Royan Lee’s latest.

I watched Race to Nowhere with some friends. Here’s a little doodle about it.

I hope that you’re curious enough to click through and see his little doodle.


We’re getting closer to the US Election.  But, more importantly, we’re getting closer to the Bring IT, Together Conference.  In this recent post, Peter McAsh gives us a lay of the land for the sessions on Thursday and Friday.

There are really three things to fill your calendar.


  • the sessions
  • the keynote addresses AND
  • the social events on Thursday evening

Don’t plan to do anything else; make sure that you’re registered for everything!

Hopefully, you’ll find as much enjoyment in these posts as I did when I read them.  Please drop by and leave these wonderful bloggers a comment or two.

Then, check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

Some math help for everyone

Technology delivers on so many levels when you think about it.

How many of us can remember when “multimedia in Mathematics” meant using coloured chalk on the chalkboard?

And things like chalkboard protractors, compasses,  and straight edges to develop a solution on said chalkboards.  The two tools, combined together, were great in the hands of an experienced Mathematics teacher.  I can still remember some of the very best having the skill to draw a circle freehand, without the assistance of a compass.  I was so impressed with their skills.

As a teacher, you could start at one side of the chalkboard and work your way across the room.  Maybe there was even back to back Mathematics classes and the words P.L.O. would be left in big characters so that you could reuse the artwork!  But, when the class ended or when the chalkbrush did its thing, the multimedia went away.

Hopefully, that’s just a long ago faded memory.  With today’s tools, there are so much better and effective ways.

MathHelp is a commercial service that retails its services for those who need a little more help with Mathematics.  It may come to that.

However, in the category of multimedia, check out its YouTube channel.

Here, many Mathmatics concepts have been reduced to short, digestible videos .Click through and sample some to get the concept.

Using this strategy, the multimedia doesn’t go away.  Using any device, anywhere you have connectivity, the videos can be played and reviewed to assist in the learning.  In the privacy of their own learning space, students can play and replay and enjoy the learning without the embarrassment of having to interrupt the lesson and ask the teacher to repeat the concept again just for them.  How many students just don’t ask the question to avoid the situation of admitting to the entire class that they don’t understand.  Similarly, teachers who are looking for a different approach to a concept can see other teachers in action.

In these “days of the link”, it offers powerful support for learning.

But I’d suggest that you don’t stop there.  

The learning is in the making.

Why not create your own Mathematics channel?  You could do it yourself but, even more powerfully, have it created by students.  We know that we learn best by creating content; why wouldn’t it apply here?  

Instead of your typical mindless set of problems given for homework with the hope that solving the same problem five times will reinforce the learning, have the student create a short video explaining and developing the concept to be learned.  I think it’s obvious that it wouldn’t apply everywhere but certainly could be used in many cases.

It’s not an unheard of concept.  Check out Kyle Pearce’s collection.

Some resources:

There would be a learning curve to get started but, when you evaluate the benefits, it’s learning that’s good and will serve you and your students for years.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s always great to read the good stuff shared by Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

Super Secret Society

Rodd Lucier acknowledges that it’s been a while since he last posted upon his return in this post.  And, it’s a wonderful post.

While no one was paying attention, a large proportion of our teen community has decided that free time is meant to be spent along, in private, with a glowing screen.  Whether connecting on social media, binge-watching video, or playing video games, our young people have retreated to their bedrooms.

Rodd identifies what potentially has gone wrong and offers some suggestions about to tackle this.  It’s an interesting concept.  Read his complete post to get the details.

Are you in?

Rich Ta$ks

No, that’s not a typo.

From Andrew Morris, a post about rich tasks and financial literacy is featured in this blog that he’s using as a portfolio.

He gives credit to a concept from Kyle Pearce and spins it into a webinar, slideshow, resource collection, and a discussion of the topic.

What better use is there for a “rich” task?

From Behind a Screen to an Out Front “Hangout”

There’s a great deal to be learned from this post by Jen Aston.  My first thought is that it’s a reminder that we all start with baby steps and then proceed from there.  In her case, she describes her journey from tweeter to blogger to video.  Along the way, she gives a shout our to “Who’s Who” in Thames Valley technology leadership.  With those people on her side, I have no doubt that she’ll be successful.

About three years ago, during a conversation with my Learning Supervisor Susan Bruyns, she encouraged me to start sharing what I had been sending her as written monthly reflections as a blog.  My response at that time was: “No thanks, I’m good with 140 characters”.  I was happy Tweeting.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being “happy Tweeting”.  However, she’s discovered that there can be much more.

The key, it seems to me, is that throughout, it’s not necessarily about the technology but how she’s sharing and making her ideas and learning so visible to others.

Who Matters?

It naturally flows then to take a look at one of Jen’s inspirations, Sue Bruyns.

There can be no doubt that, with that philosophy and support, Jen and others “who matter” will be well supported and challenged to greater things.  How many other leaders do this and are so open about it?


Donna Fry’s message here is interesting.

On first blush, I totally agree with her premise.

Then, I look around and realize that It’s not the reality for so many.  I still remember visiting a school and told by the principal to “go and do your computer thing; I don’t want to know”.  We really aren’t “there” yet.  Whatever “there” means.  Interesting read here.

Things are moving though and that’s a good thing.  Some concepts like having an online school presence and communicaton with parents are taking on an increasing role.  Nothing grinds my gears more though, than a district buying a piece of software that essentially is a template for all schools to use; it’s populated one or maybe annually and then ignored.  The tools provide for an instant communication standard.  Why isn’t it used in that manner?

Is Your Classroom Learning Centred?

I was thinking about Mark Renaud the other day as I drove through Petrolia.  I was desperately in need of a coffee and wondered why there wasn’t one on the main highway.  Surely every teacher knows where to get a good coffee.  I was tempted to private message him but it was really late at night.  I did the next best thing; I read his blog.

What follows is a checklist of questions about classroom learning.

Some of what you read may be old news to you but new news to others.  In all cases, they could be used as reminders.

The content is worthy of sharing with your colleagues and also to print and just have around for those moments when you’re reflecting and wondering if you’re doing things right.

And the answer to the coffee question is that there’s one just up the road in Reece’s Corners.

Rethinking the traditional High School Book Club #HSGBC

How many times do you read about a good idea and that’s about it.

Not so in this post.  Jennifer Casa-Todd lays out a complete game plan as she takes the traditional book club global.

It’s well thought through, with timelines, and connections to social media to make the read truly global.

Interested?  Read the entire post then.


Have you got your registration in for Bring IT, Together yet?  Don’t forget to register for the Wednesday sessions as well.

We are pleased to announce that one of the centres will be hosted by 4 educational “legends” – Roger Wagner, Sara Armstrong, and David and Norma Thornburg – “HyperDuino, ArduSat & other STEAM fun!”

Details on MEGA Minds On Media can be found in Lanyrd here.

I hope that you find this collection as interesting and inspirational as I did.  Start your Friday with this read and share with your colleagues around the school and around your network.

Encourage them to read and reply.  Bloggers like replies!

And, don’t forget to check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

While I do read a lot of blogs, I can’t possibly read them all.  If you’re an Ontario Edublogger and you’ve written the next epic post, please let me know.  On Twitter, I’m @dougpete.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.

Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.

Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.

Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.

Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!

How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.

Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.

Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.

What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.