OTR Links 10/05/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

More than fixing the egg

Last week, George Couros and I got an interesting request from Donna Fry.

Apparently, this is part of an activity that’s happening with an online course that she’s teaching about using Twitter.

For anyone monitoring her account, it should come as a reminder that, if you’re going to make the most from a Twitter account, you need to be interesting to others who might decide to include you in their collection of online learners, sometimes called a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

When you join Twitter, you’re given a set of defaults, one of which is a profile picture that looks like an egg.  There is lots of advice about “changing the egg” to a picture of yourself.  That really personalizes the account and has the added advantage of making you recognizable when you run into someone at a conference or a coffee shop.  I still remember meeting @safinahirji for the first time at an ECOO Conference.  Not only did she look exactly like her Twitter profile picture, it looks like she had just taken the picture 10 seconds ago!  Often, people will temporarily change their profile picture to support a particular cause but eventually those who are serious about the online connections will change it back.

But, if the goal is making meaningful connections, it has to go beyond a glamour shot.  You also have the opportunity to write a brief descriptor of yourself, your interests, your goals, your organization, etc.  I know that when I get a new follower, the challenge is always “do I follow you back” or “do I add you to a list”?  This is important to me since I now have three lists of Ontario Educators.  I need to know two things immediately – that you’re involved in education and that you’re from Ontario.  Make that immediately obvious and you’re on the list.

Since it was a Friday when I read the request from Donna, I had my focus turned to Ontario Educators.  So, who did I recommend?  I flipped to Hootsuite and took a look at recent messages and suggested @Dunlop_Sue,, @msjweir, @gpearsonEDU, @misssgtpickles, @ReneeVil, @HandsOnilm, and @dianahalezoux.  If you check these accounts (and they’re good to follow), you’ll see the information that you need quickly and there’s no doubt they’re educators, they’re from Ontario, and they’re more than just educators – they’re just plain interesting.  That’s a good thing.  It’s also a wonderful source for me to add to my collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

The same logic would apply if it’s an organization rather than a person.  Check out AutismONT, ONTSpecialNeeds, or westernulibsEDU.

The concept is fairly simple.  People don’t have all day wondering whether or not you’re worth connecting with.  You can help the cause immediately with an informative and interesting profile.  Other things that come into consideration is how often you send Twitter messages yourself and how many other people have found you interesting enough to follow.

Donna used some of my recommendations here.

It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be one and done.  Have you added a new blog?  Did you create an AboutMe page?  Would others like to know where your wiki is?  This is the perfect place to let the world know.

Have you checked your profile recently?  Is it telling the world all that it could?

OTR Links 10/04/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

TDSB Computer Science Resource

Ontario is a big province.

From the Ministry of Education, teachers are provided curriculum documents that outline the expectations that are the foundation for the content of the course or grade.  There may be district or school writing teams to boil that down and make it close to practical and workable.  But, ultimately, what happens in the classroom is based on the professional judgement of the teacher.

In the area of Computer Studies, it can be an extra challenge as programming languages, equipment, relationships with local college/university, teacher background and experience, etc. means that there can be a wide variety of implementations all addressing the same things.

I know that, in my Computer Studies teachable course, students wanted to know “the answer”!  I could sense a level of frustration when I couldn’t give it to them and think fondly of the practice lessons where one week we’d be looking at Scratch, the next week Java, the next week C#, etc.

Consequently, many Computer Studies teachers are constantly searching and bookmarking great resources for their use.  One that needs to definitely be added to the list comes from the Toronto District School Board.  It’s simply called CS eResource.

The concepts and glossary are well presented and then you dig into any of the five courses offered in the Computer Studies curriculum document.

Within each subject area, topics are broken down nicely into reading / researchable chunks.  As an example, here is the 3U section on repetition.

Each of the clicks takes you to roughly a single screen of resource.  What’s nice is that the examples are shown using pseudocode, video, or graphic.  The presentation honours the fact that there will be various languages used in the course and so the language syntax stays out of the way.  There are language specific examples but you have to intentionally go looking for them.  They’re located at the bottom of the page along with links to additional resources, check your understanding, etc.

Computer Science teachers will spend considerable time working their way through this resources and both new and experienced teachers will find new ways to enhance their lessons.  There is the mandatory warning that the site is under continual review and that’s a good thing!

Beyond the excellence of this resource, I think that it should be held as a model to all school districts in the province.  Every teacher is using the same curriculum documents; why aren’t all districts developing and sharing resources like this openly and publicly on the web.  This was developed as a Google Site – anyone can create their own site and start developing immediately.  It’s only when we’re all rowing the same direction that wonderful things can happen and we build on the collective experiences of each other.  Kudos to the team behind this resource.

OTR Links 10/03/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s yet another Friday and a chance for me to share some of the excellent thinking from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please read on and show some online affection by clicking through to read the entire posts.

Why we Protest…Class of 42 students (My Story)

In every round of collective bargaining, the members have a chance to speak and offer suggestions for improvements to a collective agreement.  Of course, what hits the main stream media is the demand for more money if it’s included in the list.  In my time working on the Collective Bargaining Committee, I had the opportunity to take a look at what members would suggest as things to bargain for.  I do remember one person who always submitted humorous suggestions and found out later it was done to see if anyone actually read the ideas.  Well, yeah, we did read each and every one.  What remains stuck in my mind is that very seldom did the requests focus only on compensation.  By and large, the suggestions were about improved working conditions.

The current two layer set of negotiations makes things different but that shouldn’t stop the desire to improve things in schools.

In this post, Zoe Branigan-Pipe tells a story of having a class of 42.  That sounds like a double class and I can empathise, having had a Grade 9 math class with 35 students in a room that comfortably sat 24.  It’s the educational version of sticker shock.

Please read and share Zoe’s story.

Data in the classroom

Jamie Weir’s post should be required reading for those who write the Fraser Report that generate those School Report Cards that allow parents, students, and sadly uninformed newspaper reporters to compare schools.  There’s no consideration in those cards for the fact that the carbon units within each are human with various needs.  Somehow, they can all represented by a number.

It’s a great read.  Find out how she views each of her students as more than a number.

Switching Gears

This is a nice post by Eva Thompson who I think has indeed made a concerted effort to shift gears and, I suspect, will be far better off afterwards.

I can actually put faces to the type of person that she describes here.  I will always remember my father’s advice “you do well when you make others look better”.  It’s unfortunate that there are some that fit Eva’s description and have succeeded in elevating themselves (at least in their own minds) within their own organization.  Behind them are trampled individuals, others with knives in their backs, and they truly are looked at with suspicion by sensible people when they visit schools.  As a new teacher, I got good advice – they’re just climbers – nod and smile and they’ll go away because there are others that they need to suck up to.

The true leaders are those who know their own abilities and shortcomings and work to address them and, along the way, work with others to share their learnings.  Those are the people to which you need to align yourself.  It sounds like Eva’s approach to her students will be terrific.

Just another quote and I wish I knew where this came from but it’s stuck too.  “An expert is someone who knows more and more about everything until they know nothing about anything”.

Syria Crisis

This is one of those posts that make me proud to say I know Colleen Rose.  How many teachers would use their own personal blogging platform to celebrate the words and thinking of their students?

There’s not more that I want to say about this – read Colleen’s words and visit the blog to celebrate the student thoughts.

3 Things my Blog Titles Need to be Better

I know that Ontario is a big province but I never fail to be humbled by the smallish community of bloggers and connectors that we have here.  Recently, I had gone on a tangent about blog titles wondering if I could do better.  Sue Dunlop did a far better job in analysing her own work and offers her own ideas.

In this post, the title which got an A+ by the way, Sue explains her thinking.

It’s hard to argue with any of those points.

I was mindful of this while doing my morning reading.  I love the randomness that Flipboard provides for sources all over the digital world.  I certainly skip over way more stories than I actually take the time to read.  The ones that I do read absolutely fall into the guidelines that Sue describes.  To that end, I think she’s nailed it and that is what drove my reading.  Stepping back, I just wondered – how many absolutely wonderful resources did I miss because of a lousy title?

There’s also another side.  There are awesome bloggers that I know are always good for a thoughtful post.  They could type the alphabet in the title box and I’d still read it because I know and appreciate their abilities.

As an aside, I see that this topic was great for a conversation among some Hamilton-Wentworth educators last night on Twitter.  Sadly, I had gone to bed but I did catch it this morning.

When the Pupil is Ready, The Master Will Appear

I wish I could recall when I first heard this but I can’t.  Tim King shares his own thoughts about 8:35-2:34 education and the allotment of students and teachers to time slots.

The option to be formally uneducated isn’t available in Ontario nowadays, we’ve institutionalized education into a mandatory process. This regimented system reduces student readiness to engagement and throws the concept of patiently waiting for student readiness out the window. That patience suggests a process where student learning is the main focus. Have we lost the freedom to patiently wait for student readiness to the systemic efficiencies of regimented grading?

Maybe we should take this as a challenge.  Can this philosophy fit into Ontario’s “institutionalized education”?  If so, how?

Responsibilities of the Primary Teacher in Ontario

Maybe Tim and Muriel Corbierre should get together and see if there’s a common ground.  In her ABQ course on Primary Education …

In the balance of the post, she elaborates on Planning, Teaching, Curriculum, Assessment, Classroom Environment, Management/Discipline, Professionalism, and Leadership in the Community.

Does the concept of readiness fit?

Where?  How?

Is it different in the primary grades versus secondary school?

Wow, what a wonderful collection of recent thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find a few minutes to click through and read the complete thoughts on these blog posts.

OTR Links 10/02/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.