OTR Links 09/25/2016

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

An important reminder

In the beginning, or at least close to the beginning, there was Yahoo!.  It’s still here today.

For many of us, it was how we searched.  Later, it was the best place to go for news.  It still is a terrific news portal and my dentist has it on the computer monitor to read while I’m waiting in the chair. 

Then, along comes the offer of free email.


How could I go wrong?

Just provide a little information in case you forget your password and your email account is created.  It’s just for you, and protected by your email and password combination.

What could go wrong?

Well, unless you’re hiding off the grid, we know today that many login credentials were stolen from the service.

Oddly enough, any story or even a mention of the situation was missing from the Yahoo! Portal today.

If you dig around enough, you’ll find instructions about what to do if you think you’ve been hacked.

There’s good advice there and also from this CNN report.

It’s good advice for everyone and certainly worthy of a discussion with students who are old enough to be signing up for internet services.  It is something to be worried about; if you’ve ever taken a course on ethical hacking, you know how powerful the good guy tools can be.  Can you imagine what the criminals have?

There’s plenty of advice about what to do when things like this happen.  It is important to secure that account – it’s not just your login and password that is at risk.  It’s every other system that you may have used the same information on and, if you truthfully answered things about mother’s maiden name, birthday, etc. a user profile about you can be created.

It’s also a reminder that, if you are self-hosting things yourself, you need to be constantly keeping things up to date with security patches.  For many of us who prefer not to get involved with that on an ongoing basis, using a service like WordPress which has a great deal more to lose than I do, makes so much sense.

In all this, I can’t help but wonder.  If someone broke into my house, I’d call the police and there would be an all out attempt to capture whoever did it.  What happens in these hacking cases?  Stories indicated that it might have done by a “state-sponsored actor”, whatever that is.  It would certainly be comforting to read a story that police or other officials are busy tracking this actor down.  After all, there are claims that this person is selling the information.  As they say on television, “follow the money”.

In the meantime, it’s just a wakeup to us all to do good things to protect our own information. 

OTR Links 09/24/2016

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It most certainly is autumn.  Pumpkins for sale everywhere; mums coming out in bloom; and lots of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a bunch of what I caught this week.  Enjoy.

Growing Pains

It’s the time of year to start afresh.  Even if you’ve taught the same subject or grade for a number of years, it’s always a new start and there’s that awkward first little bit that happens at the beginning of the year.  In Eva Thompson’s case, she’s taking on a new job and trying to fill the shoes of someone who had been in that position for a number of years.  That’s a “double whammy”.  But, I’m sure that her enthusiasm will make the transition complete, given a little bit of time and patience.  It doesn’t sound like there’s anything else standing in her road.

Now, if I can translate my pure enthusiasm for this job, to the people who might witness these temporary blips on the radar, I’m sure I can convince people I will be great at this job. If I see someone who loves what they do, even if they can’t solve my problem that instant, I know they will at least put the effort in to get me the answers I need. I hope others feel the same way!

Higher Education is Pushing More Professors into Poverty

This moving post, from Rusul Alrubail, may well be an eye opener for those of us who don’t work full time in higher education.  In K-12, we are so fortunate to have strong teacher federations that keep things honest.  Just like Rusul describes, there are activities that everyone does that they don’t get paid for.  There are some statistics that she quotes that I wish had some reference for follow up, like so many professors living in poverty.  It was a wakeup read for me.

No one talked about the changes. It happened behind closed doors. Teachers were hurt. We said goodbyes and shed some tears, all behind closed doors. And that hurt the most. Many full time faculty didn’t even know what was happening with their colleagues. Hence the phone call from my chair. Each contract faculty apparently got one. The college didn’t want to go on email records and let people know this was happening.


I had a bit of private discussion with Sheila Stewart who read and contacted me when I talked about blogs that have seem to have stopped publishing.  She was considering pulling the plug on her own efforts.  But, she still has a couple of posts in her!

It would be sad if she calls it a day and so I’m hoping that she doesn’t.

Her blog is one of the ones that come to mind when I think of one that has developed so much content over its lifetime.  It truly would be sad if it went away.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost – A Lesson in Leadership Paths

Who hasn’t heard this expression.  In this blog post, Tina Zita uses the quote from Tolkien to do her own thinking about leadership, particularly as it applies to education.

Education seems to have a pretty clear pathway for leadership: step 1 leads to step 2 leads to step 3, the quicker the better. Like the city walls, they become a constant reminder of a common path I haven’t chosen to take yet.

I have to totally agree with her analysis and summary.  That’s the current reality.

At the same time, I think that it speaks volumes about why we don’t get the massive changes in education from those who aspire to be leaders.  It seems to me that so much time is spent playing the game that valuable time is lost discovering just where your true talents lie.

One of the concepts that is in vogue with students is Genius Hour.  I wonder if true professional wandering wouldn’t be the equivalent for teachers and shouldn’t be perceived as the traits that would inspire an educational organization.  I think that we’ve all seen those “Google Interview Questions” that are completely out in left field to try to identify those candidates that would bring effective change and new thinking.  Why aren’t they honoured in education?

The Current on Homework

If you have a minute, check out this blog post from StepfordTO and then spend the next half hour listening to the interview made with Anna Maria Tremonti.  The focus is on homework, a topic that nobody is neutral on these days.

It’s much easier to implicitly blame kids for their own troubles and individualize the problem of stress (by offering coping mechanisms and time management guidance) than it is to acknowledge one’s complicity perpetuating a school culture of overwork that harms kids. So once again there’s an elephant in the room of the debates about teen mental health. (Spoiler: its name is homework.)

It’s too bad that there aren’t any comments to this blog post at present.  Why not leave one and share your thoughts.

Where did that teacher go? Helping students to make their own decisions

I really like this post by Kristin Phillips.  As I was reading it, a few things came to mind.

  • the problem with math, particularly on high stakes tests is that some of the questions are “tricky”.  Now, I like a good puzzle as much as the next person but should a problem that’s “tricky” be included in such a test?  Is the goal not to test the understanding of mathematics?  Why not test the mathematics abilities and leave the “tricky” to the classroom activity where time to think and analyse things is more liable to be successful.  Is the inclusion on a test an effort to keep scores down?
  • Bandwagons – we’ve seen them all (to date) and there are more to come.  Who determines which one to jump on?  Is it worthwhile to jump on the latest and most fashionable when you’re not ready to go all in with it?  Kristin sums it nicely –

We may give lip service to critical thinking and open-ended tasks.  But I urge us all to think about whether our classroom practice is really training our students to be independent thinkers, or whether we actually train them to rely on our guidance.  It’s hard to be a teacher and watch your students struggle.

Change takes time and care

The title here from Melanie White says it all.

Then, she goes deeper.  What a great concept – share with her Grade 9 students who she is, where she’s from, and why she’s a bit nervous herself.

The information is given in what appears to be a number of slides from a presentation.  It was interesting to see her history so I’m sure that the students appreciated it.

The most powerful slide – the last one, call to action, of course.

Engagement in Professional Learning

Nicole MordenCormier’s post is a reminder that effective schools is a balance of things and, this time, she takes on the concept of learning – both from the student and the teacher perspective.

A tension that has once again emerged in this process is the need to balance the urgent learning needs of our students with the learning interests of our educators.  We know from our Conditions for Learning that to achieve that permanent change in thinking and behaviour that defines learning (Katz and Dack) the learner needs to see the learning as important to them, relevant to their world, and job-embedded.

I like the fact that she addresses the needs of the teaching professional and their desire to grow and learn and suggests ways that it might be addressed in a learning plan.   I wonder if this would include wandering?

Whoo hoo! BreakOutEDU is coming to #BIT16

Of course, you come to the Bring IT, Together Conference for the learning.

This year, that learning includes a BreakOutEDU session.  What’s that?  Check out the SketchNote.

Then, get your registration in.

As always, it’s been a wonderful collection of reading this past week.  Why not drop by the blogs in this post and read them in their entirety.  And, drop off a comment or two!


OTR Links 09/23/2016

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

New to Google Classroom – Resources

For the new school year, there will be many who are using Google Classroom for the first time.  The concept of a Management System, along with the desire to go digital and use less paper, has been a desire for many for a long time.  

There are a number of similar learning environments but many are going with the familiar way of doing things the “Google Way”.  After all, most people have been using Google resources for years and, certainly, with the influx of Chromebooks for students, it makes a great deal of sense.

Like any tool, there are a myriad of ways to use it.  

Yet, you have to start somewhere.

Hopefully, your district has been providing teaching resources and workshops to make sure that you get up and running quickly.

To that support, you may wish to add this document from Steve Wick.  It’s titled simply “Google Classroom Tips and Tricks“.

In a testament to the web and collaboration, the document isn’t complete.  Visitors are dropped into Suggestion Mode.  That allows the document to grow and become even more useful.

If you’re using Google Classroom, or contemplating using a Management System, or even using another system, drop by and check it out for ideas.

There are many ways to get the job done and reading all about great new ideas is always helpful.

OTR Links 09/22/2016

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