OTR Links 07/24/2016


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

A couple of poor efforts


Every time I think that I’ve “done #FollowFriday” and I’m ready to move on, I get inspiration to not do so.

The past couple of weeks were poor efforts on my part.

First, I was off to San Diego to the CSTA Conference. For a week, I was living on California time so my usual 5am get up was 8am Eastern time.  It’s pretty late to do it, plus I certainly wasn’t up at 5am there.  Thursday night was a great chance to meet up with old friends.  So, I thought – here’s my chance.  Hopefully, nobody will miss me and I can be done this.  As it turns out, I got all these private messages wondering what was happening.  People were missing my Friday morning spam and the chance to make new connections.

Then, there was this Friday.  Like many people, I was up late on Thursday night to hear the speech at the Republican Convention.  I sure wasn’t alone.  I was determined to get back on track – I like the fact that we’re connecting Ontario Educators – and there are some summer courses ongoing and what better way to make new connections.  I didn’t realize it but – I have many politically minded friends!

While the process isn’t fully automated, I do have a routine that “harvests” the most recent Twitter messages from my Ontario Educator Twitter lists.  Normally, that gives me a good sampling of the most recent posters which lends credibility to the adjective “Active”.  What’s the point of acknowledging someone who isn’t active?  The sampling wasn’t as generous as it normally is!  A few of these politicos had “taken over” the stream with their thoughts/observations on Mr. Trump’s speech.  And, I did get engaged with their thoughts in the process.  Republicans should note – Ontario is watching you.

So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Maybe things well return to normal next week.  Oh yeah, there’s another political convention.

I’ll apologize in advance.

OTR Links 07/23/2016


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s mid-July.  Forecasted temperature today is in the mid-30s.  Who in their right mind would be suffering from a cold?

Your humble blogger, of course.  This is nuts.

So, I’m not in my right mind is a good way to sum up how I feel as I type this.  The sun is rising; Friday is coming; dog needs to walk; there’s no time for self pity.

My first instinct is to run in and buy everything in the cold aisle at the pharmacy.  My personal advisers are telling me to “Suck it up and gargle with salt water”  or “Walk it off”.

Anyway, here’s some of the great reading from Ontario Edubloggers that I enjoyed recently.


THREE LESSON IDEAS FOR TEACHING YOUR CLASS ABOUT EID AL-FITR

Through a personal connection, I learned a great deal about Eid this year.

It’s after the fact now but this is a post from Rusul Alrubail that’s worth tucking away because it makes so much sense and can be adapted to any religious holiday.  She originally wrote and published the article elsewhere and was good enough to put it on her blog for us to enjoy.


My Favourite Things

How’s this for a lead in to a blog post from Kristi Bishop?

I’m just back from an extra long weekend at the cottage with my family.  I love that all of my kiddies still look forward to going (even though internet connection is sketchy at best!) despite their busy lives.  One of our favourite holiday games is “Top 5…”  Sometimes it is something as mundane as Top 5 Beaches we’ve been to.  Other times it is a little more bizarre, such as the memorable Top game of “Top 5 foods you have eaten off the ground”.  (I declined to participate in this one, just so you know).

I don’t know about you but I would have liked to have known about the food off the ground bit.

Instead, she takes a turn to education and gives us a top five list of being an educator.

It’s a good list; What would be your top five?


Follow Opportunities, Not Dreams

When I saw the title of Tim King’s post, I thought that it might have been about summer motorcycling.  Instead, he uses a concern about a lack of digital skills in the United Kingdom as a launchpad into thoughts about education.

He provides an interesting observation about why students take certain courses and avoid others.  (obvious with a secondary school focus)

It’s interesting, because in Ontario, we have a high quality curriculum that offers a bit of everything.  Reading Tim’s post reminds me that there are those that will game the system just to get through.  Fortunately, there are compulsory courses that provide at least a base to get started.  The comment about guidance is interesting.  I recall in high school the annual checkup with my own guidance person.  It really was more about making sure that my marks were OK rather than a serious planning for the future.  Later, as a home room teacher, we would have our home rooms held four or five times a year so that we could talk about futures.  Tim’s observation is true; I took the five year academic route in high school followed by four years at university, another year for an education degree, and then summer courses for additional qualifications.  I’d never been in a tool shop or a full time farm labourer (which are big in Essex County).  How could I give a legitimate set of advice for those who might want to head in those directions?  Driving around now, I sure wish I could have afforded to get into the greenhouse industry.  It’s HUGE.

On the other hand, the fact that I had all this schooling allowed me to follow a dream – I always wanted to be a teacher but certainly there were not many opportunities at the time.  My success was more like by being in the right place at the right time.


Follow the ETFOSA16 Path to Excellence

Diana Maliszewski makes it clear, in this post, that this session was in the big city.  Where else would directions be given by subway stops?!

Libraries, Resource Centres, Learning Commons, Makerspaces – whatever terminology you’re comfortable with are one of the most adaptable locations in any school.  Sadly, there are even some that don’t have them.  But imagine a collection of great minds getting together to scheme for the future.  In some cases, the target of these discussions isn’t necessarily literacy but to convince those in charge that the library should be the hub of everything at a school.  As I picture so many schools that I visited, the library is so often the first educational place that you see when you enter the building.  Designers had it right.  It would have been interesting to have been part of Diana’s conversation or at least be a fly on the wall.

Great pictures complement the post.


Cottage Thinking 1: Leadership in a Canoe

The fact that there’s a “1” in Stephen Hurley’s post is an indicator, I hope, that there will be more to come.

Often, we think of leaders as being the ones who are out front, encouraging folks to follow along. They are the visionaries, the ones that have a clear sense of direction and the are able to identify the targets for which the crew needs to aim if things are going to go as planned.

The canoe analogy is great.  I’d never thought about position within a canoe and its importance.

Stephen does make you wonder about leadership in other areas.

Is the leader always in front?


You Have to Start Somewhere

Of course you do.

Andrea Kerr’s recent post is a reminder of that

as educators, we really do have all of the strategies and tools we could ever need.

So, as a starting point, she offers an analysis (and questions) for thought.

  • Start with Action
  • Start with Value
  • Start with Listening

I used to work with a person whose advise was “Ready – Fire – Aim”.

The conservative me never really thought that made sense for me.  My inclination would be to “Start with Listening” or “Start with Reading” to understand the situation before acting.  Andrea’s post should make you think about the approach.


Get this Train Moving! ~The Journey of the MakerSpace

Joanne Borges offers a blog post with more questions than answers.  There is, in some camps, a real rush to be able to claim that your school has a “Makerspace”.  If you read and believe some of what is out there, you’re failing if you don’t have one.

To turn the idea or concept into reality, you need to get moving.  But, movement alone doesn’t get the job done.  Why and How are two important questions.  From her planning:

  • Some key questions we considered in planning:

    • What is the experience we are trying to create?
    • Who will lead the experiences?
    • How will learning be shared?
    • How will experts, partners, mentors be utilized in learning?
    • What funding is available to us? What other sources can we seek out?
    • How will we ensure this is a student owned space (student voice?)
    • How can this tie to curriculum expectations and deep learning experiences?
    • How can we promote STEAM principals?
    • How can we best create a culture of risk taking, respect, inclusivity, and pride?
    • How can we ensure this becomes a hub for deep learning?

I think this is a great set of questions that everyone who wants into this space need to be asking and answering.


Thanks again to so much great thinking and sharing from leaders in Ontario education.  Please support their efforts by reading their original posts and dropping off a comment if you’re so inclined.

I’m out of here to “walk it off”.

OTR Links 07/22/2016


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

Doug gets cultured


One of the things that I really like to do anywhere I go is explore.  There’s so much to see if you just take the time to do so.  I don’t know, for sure, if my wife enjoys it but I certainly do.  With Google’s “new” Arts & Culture application, I can extend my exploration into places that I’d never think possible just be being connected.

It’s not that there’s a shortage around here.  Just across the border is the magnificent Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village complex.  So much to see and yet so little time.  And, as we know, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In Windsor, we have museums and galleries of our own.  I’m certainly not an expert at any level, but I do enjoy looking and resist the urge to touch. 

Given what’s happening in the US political process right now, it’s a interesting to take a look at “Electing Lincoln” from The Henry Ford.

Of course, politics isn’t the only topic in this curation of culture. 

One of my all-time favourite visits was the Harry Houdini museum in Niagara Falls.  Sadly, it’s gone now but artifacts from Houdini live on as a result of a simple search within the application. 

And, it’s not just stuff.  Check out the categories.

Even just poking around, you get the sense that there could be more categories and the use in education just smacks you between the eyes.  You’re only limited by your imagination and desire to inquire.

Check out the details and launch of the app on the official Google Blog.

What really puts it over the top for me is the integration with Google Cardboard and Streetview.  Some of what you’ll have seen may be a one off situation just exploring on your own.  The application brings it all together.

Download the application here.

When you do get your copy, you’ll absolutely want it installed on your device and your classroom devices.  If the time isn’t right for your district’s IT Department, you can always plan to enjoy it on the web here.

OTR Links 07/21/2016


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