This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Learning and Sharing never seems to stop with Ontario Educators.  In case you missed them, here are some of the posts that caught my attention this past week.

Useful Twitter Resources for Educators

It’s hard to think that there are people who still haven’t seen the value of being connected to other educators via Twitter.  Sometimes, it just takes a good starting point.  The Cube for Teachers blog puts together a pretty comprehensive list for the beginner or those who wish to extend their abilities.

There’s also a selection of educator accounts offered as samples at the bottom of the post.

This post is a great share in your school conference and just might inspire more of your colleagues to join Cube for Teachers for the resources and the networking.

Google Chrome Tips and Tricks

Once you’ve sipped from the extensions/addon functionality well supporting your favourite browser, you’ll never stop.  A great browser goes over the top when you extend its abilities with the right tool.  Nicole Beuckelare shares some of her favourites in this post.

She also attended the Ontario Google Summit and shares her observations from that event here.  I like her analogy of a “gatherer”.  I feel like a hoarder at times…

My EdTech Team GAFE Summit Ah Ha Moment!

The neat thing that happens when you get a bunch of motivated to learn people together in one space is the massive learning and sharing.  It can be humbling when you think that you’ve “got it” only to realize that there’s so much to learn.  describes it like this…

I think the race analogy is so appropriate.  I have the same feeling and also the suspicion that the people holding the ribbon are running away from me way faster than I’m running towards them.  Never stop learning.

Microsoft EDU Summit 2015

The Google Summit wasn’t the only summit in the province last weekend.  Andre Quaglia had the only post that I could find about the Microsoft event.  Andre presented at the summit and shares his resources through this post.

The two hashtags from the weekend of learning were:  #ongafesummit and #msftedusummit.

They should have had a Hangout or Lync smackdown to close their events.

My Marvelous Mentee

Diana Maliszewski was involved in an AQ course on mentoring.  It sounds interesting and I’m going to do some more digging to find out just what the course entails.  At the very end, though, she posted some thoughts about one of the professionals that she worked with.

I like the list of attributes identified and attributed to Salma.  These are qualities that everyone should be proud to have and I hope that she wasn’t embarrassed.  She should be proud that Diana identified them.  This is the good stuff.

Could you say this about yourself?  If not, what could you do to put yourself into that position?

Amazing Things Do Happen

The best part of professional learning happens when the right people are in the right place at the right time.  Amy Bowker writes a post of just this happening at an edCamp.

Her takeaway was a renewed interest in the Google Educational certification program.  It sounds like obtaining this certification is important to her, so I wish her luck.


I had the awesome opportunity to conduct an interview with Anita Brook Kirkland this past week.  These are some of my most enjoyable posts and Anita was certainly delightful and shared so many things.  Read it here.  All of the interview that I’ve done are gathered together in the Interviews link above in case you want to dig into the archives for one.  Ditto for the “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” posts.  Such wisdom is contained in those posts.

There’s always something happening on the blogs of Ontario Educators and great thinking/sharing.  Why not jump in, read, and add your thoughts to these wonderful blogs?

Heritage Minute Contest

You know, it’s too bad that you have to be sceptical of things on the internet.  I was watching television Saturday night when I was notified of a new message from a Canadian Prime Minister.  I raised an eyebrow.  After all, Sir John A. MacDonald died in 1891.  I just got a message from his Twitter account.

I’m interested but need to do a bit more work to convince myself this is a legitimate request.

Actually, doing a bit of digging, the account is “Stories of Sir John A.” and it’s powered by the folks at Historica Canada.  These are the folks behind the wonderful Canadian Historical Minutes that we see on television.

With registration at the Historica Canada website, you can access them, and more, online.

So, back to the request, I felt reasonably safe going forward to check out the recommendation.

The site is, in fact, an announcement for Canadian students to create their own Heritage Minute.

What a great opportunity for budding historians, young movie makers, or Canadians just wishing to have a voice recounting a moment in Canadian history from their perspective!

You’re not left on your own; there are both student and teacher resources for this project and would nicely compliment any Canadian History classroom.  Immersion tools are available as well.

Back to the original request – I certainly passed it along via a retweet and there were some positive responses from educators almost immediately.  We all know that Twitter messages can be fleeting and just there for the moment, so I decided to write this post to give the message a bit more longevity.

Please pass the information along to colleagues.  This sounds like an exciting event to be part of and, in our very connected global world, it’s specially nice to see something uniquely Canadian.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This week was marred by the sad news that my first principal had passed away.  I’ve made reference to some of the happy points of my computer science teaching on this blog and much was made available by this man, Peter Mudry.  If any of us could have a fraction of the impact that he had on his educational community, we’d really be doing something.

My Not-So-Perfect Classroom

Earlier in the week, I had evaluated my computer science classroom in a blog post after reading an article about the “Perfect Classroom“.  It inspired a number of comments about classrooms from around the networked Twitter community.  Of course, Mr. Mudry was my principal at the time.  In this post, Aviva Dunsiger reflected upon the various attributes in the article and confessed to having a number of different schools in her history.  I knew of two but there are more! 

How does your classroom stack up to hers?

We are not algorithms!

I wasn’t the only person inspired by an article to create a blog post.  Heather DeWaard shares some thoughts on various points raised in this article from The Atlantic. 

In responding to some controversial concepts in an article by Michael Godsey written in The Atlantic, I can confirm that there are many roles teachers are asked to take on – sage, guide, facilitator, model, coach, designer, developer, promoter, supporter and activator to name a few.

She presents a well reasoned argument and I recommend it as a good read and, certainly, at a Faculty of Education, fodder for the discussion about just what it means to be a teacher.

After all, if the human condition was just an algorithm, then anyone could be a teacher.  You’d just need the teacher guide, some powerpoint presentations, a few standardized tests and then just proceed through the curriculum in an even paced manner.  There’s no need for individualization, personalization, revisiting difficult topics, or looking for items of motivation.

I guarantee that you’ll feel good about your professionalism after reading this post.

Fractions, baking and lowest terms: real-world math

The winner in the category “having kids eat up math” has to be this post from Heather Pennie.

The blog reads like an exciting episode of Masterchef Canada.  Give the basics and let the cooks figure out the rest.

When broken out ingredient by ingredient as done in this post, it’s amazing to see how much mathematics goes into cooking.

If you’re looking for a recipe for “Bread in a Bag”, you’ll find it in this post.

Explain Everything Math Learning Journey
Explain Everything Angle & Triangle Journey (Part 2)

There’s nothing like having to teach something in order to deeply learn the concepts.

Take it one step further than your classroom.  Try to teach everyone connected to the internet a concept.  That’s what Kyle Pearce is trying to do with Grade 9 Geometry.  Using Explain Everything, he’s created some videos with the concepts embedded.

The challenge with doing something like this is that you have to be very precise in your efforts.

And, of course, when you shift the creation to the students, deep learning happens.

Explain Everything isn’t the only game in town.  I’m partial to ScreenChomp.  Another player that I haven’t worked with yet is Explain3D.

The Problem with Deeply Held Ideas

Heidi Siwak is always good for a post that makes you extend your thinking.  I think we all think of positive experiences when we think about the concept of “Prior Learning”.

What happens when that Prior Learning is flawed?

Heidi takes on this concept in the blog post.  I wonder how many classroom problems could be solved if we truly thought about this when things don’t go exactly as planned and you just can’t “get through” to her/him.

Please take a moment and follow the link to these great blog posts.  Make them part of your moment of learning for today.  I so value the fact that these Ontario Educators continue to share their thoughts and insights.  Then, check out the list of Ontario Edubloggers here for even more.  If you’re blogging and not on the list, use the form to add yourself and you will soon be.

Early Bird Registration for CSTA 2015


Did you know?

With the Computer Science Teachers Association’s annual conference coming up in July there are a few things we thought you should know now that we’ve sprung into spring:

– Online early-bird registration is ending on April 15, and it saves you $50

– There will be NO onsite registration for workshops, so if you are interested you must sign up online in advance

– Housing reservations close on: June 17

– The online registration deadline is drawing near: June 26

– We will be providing workshop and conference certificates for CEU’s (check with your state board for regulations/requirements)

The bottom line is, we don’t want you to put off registering any longer. This year is sure to be amazingly wonderful and memorable. Please come join us at DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas, July 12-14.

Time is running out, we only one week left for you to take advantage of our early bird pricing!!

If you have any questions, please contact Tiffany Nash at:

The CSTA 2015 Annual Conference is generously sponsored by:


Registration for the 2015 CSTA conference is open. Don’t miss the early-bird rates that end on April 15.  Look for more announcements and follow #CSTA15 on Twitter.

CSTA is the voice for K-12 computer science and its educators.

My “Perfect” Classroom

I enjoyed reading this post over the weekend.  “The Perfect Classroom, According to Science

By its standards, my old classroom was a little less than perfect.  I’m sure that those who joined me in B41 can agree.  At secondary schools, you don’t typically have your own, devoted classroom but I mostly did.  No other teacher really wanted to be there and asked for room changes if one was available.  As a new teacher, I was just delighted to get a job!  Plus, the prospects of having the room to myself save for one period was just over the top.

To try to describe it, the school was divided into blocks or areas.  We were in the B area for Business.  It was on the second floor; there was room for an elevator but I don’t recall it ever being used.  So, in the B block, most of the rooms were around the perimeter of the block except for B41.  It was an interior room with no windows.  The room itself was a regular classroom, albeit smaller than others with two rows of tables that just fit in there and sat 24 students nicely.  The year I taught Grade 9 math with 36 students was interesting.  Behind that classroom was a room that was to be devoted to a computer, rumoured to have been an IBM 1130, but it never materialized.  So, we had this extra space where we put the computing devices that we could in there.  My classroom had shag carpeting and the computer room was tiled so the sparks really flew as you shuffled from the classroom to the back room.  Coming from a university setting, it was a natural transition.  I didn’t notice much difference.

OK, stage is set, here’s how we stacked up against the Perfect Classroom in the article.

Light – as an interior room, natural light wasn’t possible!  So, fluorescent lighting had to do.  For the most part, I left the door open and we could get even more artificial light from the hallway.  It was so nice at the end of the day to go outside and coach football.  Fresh air and natural sunlight.  Aahh!

Noise – I’ll admit – with the exception of the music room, this was the noisiest in the school.  After all, it was computer science and students were brainstorming and planning together.  As well, we had adjacent rooms that added to the noise – the staff room was at the back and we were only separated by a door.  Other neighbours included the student newspaper, student council, and the resource room.  Not that we used pins, but you’d never hear one drop if it did.  Fortunately, the shag carpeting did soak up some of it, I’m sure.  I was not adverse to a little music; I know it helps me think so we had a portable player in the computer room.

Temperature – If you’ve ever enjoyed Essex County in the spring, you’ll know that I was so happy to be in an air conditioned school.  When it worked, you could hang meat in the room.  I swear the design was to pump cold air into my room first and then let it drift to the others.  Or maybe the design was to keep the computer room cold?  It was not uncommon to wear a sweater there while it was over 30 degrees outside.  Now, the operative thing was “when it worked” which, I’ll be honest, was most of the time.  But, when the air conditioner went on the fritz, it was unbearably hot with humidity doing its thing to the walls and streams of water appeared!

Accessibility – This was never a need for me.  However, it wouldn’t have been difficult.  Tables and chairs were the sitting arrangement and they could be moved to accommodate any needs.  You couldn’t rearrange them for pods because the room was small but we made do.  You could sit on both sides of the table and make little groups or some would make seating arrangements on the floor.

Layout – In theory, you could arrange the tables however you wanted.  The previous occupant had the tables arranged so that the room was narrow and long (three rows of 8).  My first move was to turn the orientation so that it was wide and shallow. (two rows of 12)  It definitely was easier to move the chairs than the tables.  In the computer science classroom, it really didn’t matter because we didn’t sit for long anyway.

Plants – While the caretaker we had, had a real green thumb and put plants in all of the classrooms, mine just didn’t allow anything to grow with no natural light.  Once, I recall bringing in a poinsettia after Christmas and I don’t think it lasted more than a day or two.  One year, a class chipped in for a plastic plant to spruce things up but it really didn’t work.  (I appreciated the effort…)

Wall Decorations – I had two walls of blackboards, half a wall of windows looking into the computer room and half a wall of cork board.  There wasn’t much room for decoration but the cork boards were each assigned to a class.  For each Monday, a small group would be in charge of changing their class cork board to something computer or technology related.  It kept changing the look and it gave me another source for assessment other than coding.  (there are more computer science careers than coding)  The Marketing room was just across the hall (with their outside window) so we never had a problem getting design materials.

Soooooo…. my “perfect classroom” doesn’t stand up terribly well to the metric in the original article.  Fortunately, for the students, they would move from class to class and our room was only home for 50 or 55 minutes a day.  The person most affected would be me!

But, you know, when I truly think about it, the room is just a place for a bunch of people to be at a particular time.  What really makes a classroom perfect are the occupants and I had some of the very best students pass through.  It’s so interesting to connect with them on Facebook or see them in the community.  That’s what is really important and to that extent, things were darn near perfect for us.

So here’s a blogging challenge for you, bloggers. 

How does your classroom stack up to the perfect classroom in the original article?

What Connected Learning Looks Like

Or, as Daniel Beylerian says “Twitter just got real”.

I had the wonderful opportunity to witness some connected learning among educators last night.  I was a “fly-by” participant, having been tagged in the Twitter post that started it all, just kept half an eye on the discussion while doing other things, and going to bed before the learning was over.  In between all of this, there was a problem definition, problem focus redefined, reach out to learners, a couple of selfies, brainstorming, trial and error, and finally, success!

In the process, the actual product went from this analog original:

to this digital drawing in a Google document.

I was able to visit the iterations leading to success and captured the entire learning to a Storify document I called What Connected Learning Looks Like.

And, the very best part?  I got to add another Ontario Educator to my lists.

Welcome, @NoraBeylerian.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Good Friday, leading into the long weekend.  Got time to get caught up on some blog reading?  Check out these.

The iPad & Accessibility (FI too)… No Apps Required

It wasn’t until I had a broken home button on my iPad that I started to get serious about the accessibility features with the device.  It changed the way that I do a number of different things with the device.

Blayne Primeau puts together a pretty comprehensive post of a great of things that you can do with the accessibility features built into the iPad.  It’s a pretty comprehensive list when you see them all in one spot.

4 Lessons in Sharing

One of my pet peeves about people attending conferences are the “I’m here and you’re not” messages on Social Media.  They’re essentially messages of geography and ego.  One of my appreciations for people attending conferences is the sharing of the thinking and ideas from the event.

Myria Mallette shares her thoughts about sharing from her recent conference attendance.  I think any would-be Tweeters would be well advised to take into consideration her four lessons.

I’ve always felt that, if you’re serious about sharing at conferences, that your audience gets more (which is obvious) but that you get even more from the experience with your thoughtful and relevant messages that you share.

It Makes You Wonder

I was looking through the agenda for an upcoming conference and, without a word of a lie, just about every session descriptor had the word “inquiry” in it.  I’ve actually seen the same descriptors at other conferences before.  The word “inquiry” just seemed to be inserted because it’s the “term de jour”.  I’d bet that the session would be the same as it was without the word injected!

I wonder – do people really fall for that?

Kristi Keery Bishop does some of her wondering out loud in this wonderful post.

Aviva Dunsiger bought in immediately with a reply…

Maybe if we all made our wondering visible, things would change for the better and we’d have deeper discussions and better answers.

I wonder….

#OSSLT 2015

I love this lady’s thinking.  I keep waiting for a classroom professional to write a blog post titled “Standardized Testing and Why It’s Good for Students”.  It would start with something like “I’m so excited that my students get to write this test….

I’m still waiting.

One piece of the logic in her piece got me to drop a final exam for computer science in my second year of teaching.  If it takes two weeks to write and debug a program, how can I expect them to write perfect code in two hours.

Read Jamie Weir’s post and see if you don’t find yourself nodding, point after point.

Are You Where You Want To Be?

Sue Dunlop is participating in a “blog a day” challenge.  I wish her luck and will check in periodically to see if she maintains her goal.

I wonder if her musings will pair up with some wondering?

Report Cards: Cycles of Change?

Sheila Stewart takes a bit of a reflection on report cards.  It was interesting to see her handwritten exemplars.  They were short, and certainly wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s world.  Instead, you get something like this.

“(student name) independently reads, represents, compares and orders whole numbers to 10,ooo in standard, expanded and written forms with accuracy.  He should continue to practice solving more complex problems involving the addition and subtraction of multi-digit whole numbers. (student name) is able to clearly measure angles using a protractor.  He identifies quadrilaterals and three-dimensional figures and classifies them by their geometrical properties. (student name) should continue to practice using mathematical language to describe right, obtuse and acute angles and geometric figures. (student name) can precisely describe, extend and create a variety of patterns with accuracy and complexity.  He should continue to practice creating, describing and extending a variety of repeating, growing and shrinking number patterns. (student name) is able to thoroughly collect, organize and read primary data represented in a bar graph, pictograph, circle graph and table.  He should continue to practice collecting and organizing data by conducting surveys on a variety of topics of interest to him.”


Somehow I just don’t see a kid doing a survey in the change room after hockey about pet preferences of dogs versus cats.  Don’t you just wish you could see society another 40 years from now analysing these comments?

This just in from Peter Cameron.  I was just about to schedule this post but thought this would be something everyone should see and consider.

Want some musing, wondering, serious learning?

Again, such awesome work from Ontario Educators.  Give them some congratulations, visit their blogs and then visit the big list of Bloggers here.