Tag: Blog

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

Thinking about technology investments


From the New York Post this morning, check out this story “A Lot Changes in Tech Over Four Years and 1,000 Blog Posts“.

It got me thinking about things.

According to the dashboard for this blog, I’ve made 4,255 posts.  The very first one goes back to January 8, 2008 and was titled “Blogging on First Class“.  It was an encouragement for people to look at FirstClass’ new blogging platform.

The post was actually the second written for this blog – the first one was “I hope this works” and was written just to test WordPress to see if it would do the trick.  While I really hoped that people would use FirstClass for blogging, I needed to test out WordPress.  It turned out to be a better blogging platform.  More importantly, the writing of my first few posts was quite funny.  It was almost infantile which I guess describes my blogging efforts back then.

Anyway, a lot has changed over the course of four years as noted in Bilton’s blog post.  He notes that the iPad wasn’t around then.  Yet, it’s so popular and universally present these days.

It really is the change over the course of four years that is of concern to me.  Four years ago, I bought a computer and, with fingers crossed, assured my wife that this is the last computer I’ll ever need.  It had an i7 processor with 8 cores, 4MB of RAM and a fairly substantial hard drive.  Admittedly, it can run just about anything that I want.  It was, as promised, a laptop that’s a desktop replacement and that’s basically where it’s used today.  Dual booting, I can run Windows 7 and Ubuntu and if you’ve been reading, it’s typically running Ubuntu.

Indeed a lot has changed in four years.  I think of the power and the storage on the machine and it’s a sad commentary that they really aren’t as important to my regular use these days as it was four years ago.

Four years ago, I needed a computer and software to do the word processing and spreadsheet documents (among other things) that I had on a regular basis.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I opened LibreOffice to do any such work.  In fact, as I type this blog entry, I’ve got a notification that there’s an upgrade to the LibreOffice program.  Four years ago, I would rush to get the upgrade.  Now, I use my Google Apps on the web to handle these things.  Google takes care of the upgrades for me.

Post Christmas, every store that I ever bought anything online is pummeling my mailbox with notifications of great bargains and deals.  I look and don’t feel the need to even wish and dream.  After all, I spend my days in a browser.  As I write this, I’m in one tab with a bunch of others open.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with any plausible reason to go computer shopping tomorrow.

In fact, the more I try to think this through, do I really need something as powerful (expensive) for the future?

How about schools?

I know many school districts are experimenting with Chromebooks and some with Surfaces.  From where I’m sitting, and for my particular use, it seems like a very smart (and affordable) solution.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The frustrating thing about my Friday post  is boiling down the great writing that’s happening with Ontario Edubloggers into three or four of the best articles!  I did and these really caught my interest.

Sign Up For The January Blogging Community Session Now!

Blogging is good; building a community based on that blogging is even better.  Check out this global opportunity from Kristen Wideen’s blog.

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WEBTOOLS: NO REGISTRATION NEEDED FOR STUDENTS

Nathan Hall has curated a list of “no registration” resources for student use.  There are two advantages to this – one is respect for student privacy and the other is the ability to just use the tool rather than worrying about registration, logging on, passwords, etc.

We’ve got to get him to add Brian Aspinall’s work to this list!

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Three Steps to Better Leadership

I love this post.  It takes a very reflective educator and leader to do some reflection and make admissions as well as a “next steps” plan online.  Sue Dunlop shares what she considers three steps to becoming a better leader.  It’s hard to argue with any of her thoughts but I think we can ALL benefit right now from her third step.

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“WHY WOULD I WANT TO LEARN FROM SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO LEARN FROM ME?”

This is the million dollar question for education.  Read Donna Fry’s thoughts about the topic.  Life was so much easier when we just plain acknowledged that teachers were the holders of all information and students arrives to get their share of it!

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Use of Language

This is a little different.  I’m going to highlight a response in one of my posts.

Brandon

Brandon Grasley had a very thoughtful reply to a post that I had about language.  On the surface, his recommendations make a great deal of sense.  Spot and an error?  Just go back and fix it.  If you look further back in my blog this week, I did an analytic that included how many people read this blog.  The number that have opted to receive it via email far outweigh those who visit online.  Plus there’s the RSS readers and reader surfaces like Flipboard.  These may get their copy from the original post so even if I go through and fix any mistake that I find, those who are readers of the blog not using the blog, will have the original copy which has the errors!  Maybe there should be a warning that if you subscribe by email that you may get errors!

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Please check out these blogs in their entirety.  There’s some great reading and room for reflection there.

As always, my complete collection of Ontario Edublogs is located here.  Check them all out!  The list continues to grow and, if you’re in Ontario Education and not listed, add yourself to the form and you will be.

Tips for Bloggers to Remember


My Sunday morning reading included the article “Ten Things Every Blogger Should Remember“.  If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know that I’m a sucker for posts like this!  I find the perspectives very helpful as I try to get my head wrapped around my own blogging.

I also like to think that the tips and exercises are valuable for those who would have students blogging in their classroom.  It’s one thing to provide an assessment (and I’ve seen a great deal of them that I don’t particularly agree with) but it’s quite another for students to sit back and reflect on their own efforts.  The fact that it might be criteria not teacher generated lends an additional level of credibility.  Have the students read the original post with its criteria and then even write their own blog post analysing their own efforts.

So, I’m going to take a look at the 10 tips from this post and see how I think I stack up.  Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong in the comments.

1) You will probably not become famous from this project

This is absolutely true.  I’m reminded of the television commercial talking about US college football players that talks about how so many of them will go on to be professionals in a sport other than football.  The same applies here; but it should never deter you from your blogging efforts.

2) The majority of your readers will be other bloggers

I never thought about this.  I know that the bulk of people who offer replies are bloggers and for that I’m appreciative.  It does beg a question though – what is a blogger?  Do micro-bloggers count?  Does it really matter?

3) Nobody will ever read every word on your blog

There are days when @SheilaSpeaking or @NobleKnits2 will send me a DM with a typo or missing/extra word in a post.  I guess not even I read every word!  I think this reinforces the writing tips that I learned in high school – start with a good title; bring the reader in with an interesting first paragraph; close with a good summary.

4) Trolls will come

There is a big dark side of the blogging web.  Thankfully, Akismet keeps most of them from public view.  I think there’s about 100 of messages that are awaiting my attention.  I do find that most of the replies that are legitimate are polite and helpful.

5) It does take work to make the blog worth your time

I’ll agree that it does take effort.  I’m not at the point where I consider it work though.  If I did, I think I would pack it in.  I don’t make any money from this blog (although I’m open to offers…) so I don’t set a time to blog.  It just happens when I feel the urge.

6) You get what you give

There’s a great deal of truth to that.  While I read daily and try to reply, I’ve scheduled Fridays as a concerted time to give back to the great Ontario Edubloggers who take the time to share their thoughts.

7) Make your blog as much about the content as it is about the person writing the content

I agree totally.  If you want to know about me, you’re further off being friends with me on Facebook.  My blog entries  here are about my thoughts and opinions.

8) Remain consistent

I like to think I’m consistently random in topic but I do try to schedule a little something at 5am every day.  That lets me write any time I have the opportunity.  That is one of the concerns that I have about blogging in education.  Unless they develop a passion, will students only blog during class when required to?

9) Don’t rely on words alone

This can be difficult at times.  Sometimes, there’s just no image or video that’s appropriate.

10) Be yourself

Yes.  Mistakes and all, this is me.  You won’t confuse this blog with something really academic.  It’s just my thoughts and opinions on whatever the topic de jour is.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It was another wonderful week of reading the great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here is a sampling of the great articles that appeared there this week.

Restarting the Blog Thing

First of all…welcome back…@peachyteachy

As a result of some discussion on Twitter about the value of blogging as a professional endeavour for educators, she’s started to kickstart her own blog.

The message behind her first post was about needing to get started again and to use it in conjunction with her Masters’ studies.  That sounds like a good solution to me.  Part of the Twitter discussion surrounded finding the time to blog.  That’s a challenge for every blogger.  Where do you find the time?  There really are only so many hours in the day.  I read of people who purposely set aside a period of time to blog.  That might work for some but it doesn’t work for me.  I have to have the inspiration and so I’ll blog at night or in the morning or I may be waiting in line somewhere and dictate ideas into my phone for later assembly.

I did reply to this first post and I do have problems periodically with Blogger.  I’ll start the reply and then when I go to save, it will require that I’m logged in to WordPress in order to save the reply.  So, I flip to another tab and log in, return and wham.  The comment is gone.  I’ve now got into the habit of selecting and copying the content before logging in so that I can paste it when it goes away.  Now, if I could only remember to log in before replying…

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Can We Stop Longing for the Good Old Days?

This is the post that I think that many educators would have like to have written.  I know that I sure did.

I might have called mine “Things Were Better Before Sliced Bread”.  It’s a very personal response by Tina Zita about an article in the Globe and Mail about kids and learning.  Tina describes what her modern classroom looks like and it makes sense to me.  But, in football terms, there seems to be a great deal of piling on lately whacking students, teachers, and education.  After all, we all went to school when it was so much better.  We respected our elders.  We were quite and faithfully copied everything from the blackboard to our Scribblers.  We never cheated.  There was no need for computers – we could recite the results from the 10×10 multiplication tables without hesitation.

And, if you believe that…

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Use of Twitter as a Presentation Tool

Marshall McLuhan would be proud of Terry Whitmell’s post.

At the Peel DSB’s Leadership Launch, Alec Couros presented to a group of educators.  But, it wasn’t his presentation that caught her attention.

It’s interesting that the presentation technique was the message that she blogged about!

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Digital Citizenship “Pathway”

It’s nice to see a CIO working on a plan that includes all learners within a school district.  Recently, Mark Carbone shared an infographic illustrating the Waterloo Region District School Board’s framework.

You’ll have to visit his site to see the entire infographic.

Nicely done.  I can see the influence of many of my friends involved in libraries and technology at the Waterloo Board.  Catching up with them at #ECOO13 will be a highlight and I’m sure that there’s a great story behind this graphic.  I look forward to hearing it.

Thank you so much to these bloggers for sharing their current thinking.  Please follow the links above to read and reply to their original posts.  They’ll appreciate it; you’ll be wiser; and all will be well in the blogging world.

Check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  There are so many K-12 Teacher blogs there that I just know I’m going to have to do another division of tabs so that the screen is more manageable.  As I seem to be saying a lot, this is a nice problem to have to solve.

Making Your Blog a Success


Much has been written about blogging in education.  I read a couple of posts this morning that got me thinking more about it.  One was from George Couros titled “Isolation is now a choice educators make“.  Given how easy it is to get connected and how I can speak from experience to the number of ideas I personally get from this self-help market,  I can never say it enough – thank you to all the people that I interact with regularly.  You are so appreciated.

Much of George’s post relates to the concept of blogging and that’s great.  I would just note that that’s not the only way to escape from isolation.  There are a number of tools that people use and that’s great.  The choice should be the user but the results are so well described in his blog post.

If you’re a regular reader here, you know that the blog is one of my favourites and, as luck would have it, immediately after reading George’s blog post, I read this one.  9 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Blog a Success.  If you’re a blogger, I would encourage you to give it a read and then see how you stack up.  If you’re contemplating starting blogging personally or with your class, it does provide some points to ponder.

Here’s how I think I stand up to the 9 points.  (Regular readers know I love these things…)

Do: Blog Regularly

I absolutely agree with this.  There’s nothing that’s worse than loading a great looking blog’s RSS and then wait months or maybe never for the next post.  In the beginning, I struggled with this.  It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time.  At least until I started to do it and then reap the benefits.  When I turned blogging into something that I did to record one piece of thinking on any given day, the process took on a life of its own.  I now have the opinion that, if I’m not blogging, I’m not thinking and I never want to do that.  Consequently, if I’m reading something or exploring something, I write about it.  It forces me to think deeper about the topic and the blog post is now on record and I know that I can always dig into the archives if I remember that I once looked at or thought about something.

Don’t: Switch Topics All the Time

I’m guilty of this and I don’t think I want to apologize for this.  If I chose the same topic day after day after day, I think it would get boring and repetitive.  I do try to keep my thoughts roughly educational.  Does that count?  As mentioned above, if I’m thinking, I’m blogging.

Do: Have a Contest

No budget.  Can’t do it.  This operation is run lean and mean.

Don’t: Be Mean

Well, not that mean.  I understand the concept here and I’ve seen blogs that are just mean and the content is just scathing for whatever topic is being discussed.  I think that’s so counter productive.  You can disagree without being disagreeable.  I know that when I run into a blog that operates that way, I just keep on going.

Do: Connect with Other Bloggers

Absolutely.  Bloggers are among the best group that you can connect with.  We’ll comment on each other’s blogs, interact on other social media and always search each other out if we know we’re going to be in the same place at the same time.

Don’t: Post “Just” a Blog (with no planning)

This is great advice.  If all that you’re doing is posting to say that you’ve posted, it takes the excitement out of it.  You need to blog when you’re inspired to write.  In schools, if you “go to the lab” and blog during the 40 minutes that you’re there, you won’t be universally successful.  I think that’s a major reason why I like the concept of BYOD or other ways to get computers in the classroom.   You need to brainstorm, research, do your rough drafts, and then finish the product when inspired.

Do: Use Images & Video

Used properly, they do serve to break up large bodies of text.  While I like to include things that I’ve created myself, like drawings, pictures, or screen captures, there are wonderful copyright free resources on the internet should you need it.

Don’t: Forget Links & Tags

One of the really nice features of working with WordPress is its ability to analyse your work as you type.  Based on your content, you’ll get a nice collection of tags recommended and related articles.  I think the related articles, in particular, help to extend the conversation that you’ve started in the blog.  And, it’s equally cool when you end up linking to yourself.  I’ve got nothing against circular references!  Remember the old days with endnotes to support the thesis of your paper?  Think of inline linking as a step up in reference.  The resource is readily available as you read – not at the end of the content!

Do: Have Fun with Your Blog

I think this is the best advice of the nine.  I’m often asked “When will you quit blogging?”  My answer has always been “When I want to stop learning” but the answer may well be answered better as “When it stops being fun”.

I know that there are many classrooms that will be making blogging an integral part of any program this year.  At first blush, it may seem to be perfectly designed for Language classes – and it is.  But it’s equally as helpful in Mathematics, Science, … in fact anywhere where you want students to dig deeper.  I think it’s perfect for blended learning classrooms.  That’s just in the classroom.  Circle back to George’s blog post about professional growth and isolation.  What better way to show that you’re learning, ask questions, engage others, create a call to action, define just where you stand, share your vision – the possibilities are endless.

Regardless of how or where you see blogging, you want yourself or your students to be successful.  These nine tips can be very helpful getting started and also used periodically to take a deep breath and reflect on the way things are.