This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’m not quite sure what to say here. Normally, I’d wish everyone a good return to school on Monday after the March Break. But, it’s April and nobody’s going back to a school building on Monday although classes resume in some places and teachers are getting ready for the day to resume online classes on Tuesday. I think we should just relish the fact that it’s Friday and just pretend that it’s a good day. Agreed?

Oh, and read some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


How To Easily Create Bitmoji Stickers in Google Drawings

Wednesday was a special edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs. Since educators are on holiday which involves not going anywhere, I reached out to the EduGals who joined Stephen Hurley and me on our voicEd Radio show. They were absolutely delightful to have a conversation with and I gained an extra level of appreciation from where they’re coming from and their positive approach to education and technology in education.

This post from them I think is timely now that we’re returning, in Ontario, to a bout of learning from home which means a whole lot of digital. While everyone appreciates a numeric mark or a letter, how about something a little more exciting and digital? Stickers!

It’s a long post, full of screen captures that will take you through the process along with descriptive text. Alternatively, they’ve prepared a YouTube video if that works better for you.

This might be just what you need to change your game.


The good, bad and ugly of online learning

Charles Pascal pretty much has it covered in the title of this post. The comments to this post add even more fuel to his premise.

To be clear, there really isn’t anything wrong with online learning. As Charles notes, it’s been done for over 100 years in Ontario. For students, the ability to take a course online is a real solution for scenarios like a course not being offered at their school for whatever reason, the need for an additional credit, the ability to keep up with studies if forced to be home for sickness reasons, etc.

For those who are not educators, the shift to requiring four courses for graduation or to just pull the plug on a return to school and doing everything online is seen as an easy educationally valid “pivot”. (Gawd, I hate that word)

If we’re learned anything from what’s happened over the past year, it’s that a seemingly simple change to online learning for everyone just isn’t a quick and easy solution. There is so much to be factored in. We’re now seeing some school districts taking next Monday as an adjustment day. As my old employer has on their website:

On Monday, the 19th, both elementary and secondary teachers will connect with their students to make sure they’re ready for the following day and determine any technical needs and access to resources. They will also provide students with some work for the day they can complete, independently.

from https://www.publicboard.ca/News/ourstories/RemoteLearningUpdate/Pages/default.aspx#/= April 15, 2021

Clear and supportive efforts from a government are needed at this time and Charles shares his thoughts about what he see and what he doesn’t see right now.

A very good read.


The Lab That Isn’t A Lab

Normally, a post like this would get a read from me and then I’d move on because I like to have current blog posts on this Friday post of mine. From Tim King, this goes back to 2012 but I think it’s worth another look.

I can’t speak for Tim’s reality but, in my old school, when scheduling came along all the department heads were brought together to try to allocate classes to appropriate rooms and resources. Personally, even as computer science teacher, I wouldn’t want to be in a computer lab. There is a need for planning, collaboration, problem solving even before a finger is laid on a keyboard. If you think of the typical hard technology classroom, it has two distinct areas – desks and then the saws, lathes, welding, equipment, etc. in another. In my old high school, we had a program where students could learn to sew or cook and they sure weren’t plunked into a room full of sewing machines or in the kitchen!

Tim ended up being assigned to a computer lab and he didn’t want it. You see; his subject to be taught is computer engineering, which if you care to look at the expectations, is all about the nets and bolts of tearing apart computer components and putting them back together. It’s hardly the setting that the district IT Support Team would want done on a computer lab that would have been installed and customized over the summer. You can read “customized” as meaning that all the fun as been taken out of the computer so that they are reliably working day by day.

I know that we used to invite computer engineering teachers to a warehouse where the computers to be retired were housed so that they could select an appropriate number and type for their program.

There are all kinds of permutations for how this could happen.

But, beyond the discussion of Tim’s classroom and I’ll bet he’s not alone, there’s a bigger message about top down efficiency decisions made arbitrarily and expecting good intentioned teachers to make it work. You wouldn’t put a French class, for example, into a room outfitted for English classes just because there are a lot of new books there without seeing if they’re appropriate.

It really is a matter of understanding all the courses and all the resources and listening to those involved to come up with the best solution.


It’s Getting Ridiculous

I love the reference to basketball that Matthew Morris starts out with. After all, I’m not a Kings fan but there’d be screaming if he ever said something about the Pistons.

In the post, he shares his feelings about going into a school of 200 people every day during our current situation. High in his mind is the case of the Toronto teacher who is intubated in a hospital.

I’m glad that he brought up the news stories – everywhere it’s the same. Local doom and gloom and COVID numbers for the first 10 minutes or so and then a shift to something else. I can’t help but note that the stories are the same and that I could match his CP24 with CTVWindsor and there wouldn’t be much of a change.

Ridiculous is his summary word for what he’s seeing. I agree but would add a couple of colourful adjectives before ridiculous if I was writing this post.


The 500 – #375 – Late For The Sky – Jackson Browne

First up, an apology. Apparently during the voicEd Radio show, we got Marc Hodgkinson’s name wrong. That should never happen.

I check in with his blog when my RSS reader flags that he has a new post. I’m really enjoying his working through “The 500” Greatest Albums of All Time.

This time, it’s the “Late For The Sky” album by Jackson Browne. I was pleasantly pleased with this post. I thought that I knew much of Browne’s work. As it turns out, I was completely wrong.

From the album, I only knew Before the Deluge

But the rest was new music for me. This album was released in 1974. Man, I missed so much!


Nothing is Better Than My Classroom

It was wonderful to see Sarah Leroux back and contributing to her blog.

This post is a reflection of her teaching from at home. It sounds like she has a great workspace with all the amenities and that’s a good thing. But, apparently it pales when compared to her classroom.

Can you agree with this sentiment?

I understand that it may not be the safest place for us to gather, at the moment, but as a passionate in person teacher, I live and thrive off the energy of my students. Their Aha moments, their jokes, their collaboration. Not only do I TEACH better, in class, but I truly believe, for most of my students, they LEARN better in class. 

Click through to her post and read her thoughts.

I’ll be willing to bet that you can’t disagree with her.


The P3 Ends- But the Memories Live On

You’ve got to feel for Noa Daniel.

She had a real niche in the blogging, podcasting space with her P3 collections. Three songs are submitted and Noa crafts them into a discussion for the podcast. Between the interview and the post-production, you can tell that she’s put so much into each episode.

I had the honour to be on her show and I was number 61. Her complete collection at Spotify is 158 episodes. That’s quite impressive. Sadly, it has come to an end and Noa explains why in the post.

My songs were:

  • Blue Hawaii – Elvis Presley
  • Growin’ Up – Bruce Springsteen
  • Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

It was a great experience to be asked to join Noa for the show.


On this Friday, I hope that you can click through and enjoy these posts as much as I did.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Sarah Anne Leroux – @sarahanneleroux
  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Congratulations on making it to the first end of the week in September. This year, everyone is in different positions for the return to school. Some in buildings; some online. Some may have started with students already; some may still be waiting. Good thing we have a plan. Sit back and check out some greater blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.


Intentional Teacher Printable

Amy Bowker shares some advice for new teachers and wisdom for all teachers in this post. I had to smile at her chart and the year-long attitude for new teachers – Anticipation, Survival, Disillusionment, Rejuventation, Reflection, Anticipation. Thinking back to my first year of teaching and I totally concur with her observations.

The Reflection piece is great for all educators and she offers some printable for you to use.

Great advice all way around here.


Online/ Distance Learning

Jonathan So has been back to school for a bit now and shares some of his thoughts as he starts to pick up momentum. I like his setup that he shares in pictures. I can’t speak highly enough for the concept of having two monitors if you’re interested in productivity and ease of information flow.

Sound is crucial for success when communicating with others. I’ve used the microphone in my laptop and the microphone in a headset. They are both functional but you cannot beat a professional grade microphone. Jonathan uses a Blue Snowball Microphone. A good microphone helps provide a higher grade of audio which serves to engage.

I agree with the four elements that he describes in the post as key to successful teaching online. He shares some of the challenges of teaching and assessing at a distance and describes the tools that he uses. It’s a great selection.

If you’re looking for more, check out this article This Teacher’s Hack For Sharing Documents With Students Is Easy and Affordable.

The more that experienced teachers like Jonathan share, the better all that are teaching at distance will be.


My Podcast Playlist

As I would say to my friend Alfred, here’s another list I didn’t make! Laura Wheeler has caught on to using podcasts as a way to learn and to keep up to date.

In this post, she shares some very high quality podcasts that she follows and a quick review of some of the impressive shows that she’s listened to.

Laura points out that there are numerous players for podcasts; she recommends Podcast Addict. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bambuna.podcastaddict

If you’re getting into the concept of listening to podcasts or you want to enhance your current list of shows, you really can’t go wrong with her choices.


Y is for YOU and other Y’s

As Lynn Thomas weaves her way through the alphabet, she ends up on the letter Y. And, not just one word starting with Y but a bunch.

You is one of her words and her advice at this time stresses the importance of you paying attention to yourself. Your attention to personal wellbeing is so important during these times but also for those students in your charge. As any teacher will tell you, students are alway watching and listening and take their lead from you.

Yearn for yesterday was another pair of Ys that she expands on in her post. I think that so many of us feel this; even if the “yesterday” was just six months ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just toss the last six away. Of course, we can always dream.

Lynn takes on more words using the letter Y and shares her thoughts so click through and enjoy.


Myers Briggs personality

I’ll confess here that, when I saw this title for Amanda Potts’ post, I thought it might head in a different direction. I suspect that all of us have takes the Myers Briggs test at some point. I’m sure that I must have but I can’t remember the results.

Amanda can’t remember the results other than the letter E and takes us on a little memory of a boyfriend.

Then, there’s a switch to an article that talks about The Definition Of Hell For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type although the link in her post takes you to The Definition Of Heaven For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type.

But she pulls this definition –

ENTJ – Somebody is wrong, and they’re directing a large group of people! You can’t do anything about it and will have to obey whatever inefficient policies they decide to implement.

Gulp! As she notes, it’s a sign of the times.


Anti-Racist Educator Reads

Sketchnoting is a technique that I admire in others. It says as much about their learning style as it does the actual content. My inability to be able to do that myself speaks volumes about my learning style. I prefer a bulleted list that chronologically takes me through whatever I’m listening to.

In this case, Debbie Donsky sketchnotes her way through a series of podcasts from Colinda Clyne.


Self-Care for Teachers

From the TDSB Professional Library comes this very timely blog post.

Now, more than ever, teachers need self-care strategies to stay strong physically, mentally and socially. Here are some strategies and tips, drawn from the links below, for teachers to enhance their self-care during this unusual school year.

There are quick suggestions dealing with

  • Physical Self-Care
  • Mental Self-Care
  • Social Self-Care

Of course, we know all this but take a moment for yourself and review the recommendations.

Sources for the recommendations are provided for further reading.


Please do yourself some professional good and read these blog posts.

Then, make sure your’re following these educators.

  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Jonathan So – @MrSoClassroom
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts 
  • Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
  • TDSB Professional Library -@ProfLibraryTDSB

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I can’t believe it’s Friday already.  The RCAC Symposium was just last week and it was another very inspirational day.  But the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers kept on coming.

I ran into one of those Internet/Blogging memes by being named.  I guess it’s a fun way to get folks who are blogging to interact with each other and gives them a chance to let folks know a bit about them.  A few people have already responded.

======

Joint Work in the Digital Staff Room

This one was from Brian Harrison who actually was the person who tagged me.  Read the original piece at the link above.  To whet your appetite, here are 11 Random Facts about Brian.

image

======

The second one that I found came from Royan Lee.  He called his post:

Dean Shareski’s Homework

And, 11 things you might want to know about Royan.

image

Interesting.

======

Brandon Grasley calls his Joyful Blogging in Response to @fryed

brandon

======

Donna Fry “Brings Back Joy

Donna

======

Just Laugh…

Aviva Dunsiger shared her thoughts about what happens when technology goes wrong in the classroom.  You see a lot of frustration from folks when technology doesn’t work.  It means that perhaps the lesson has to go to a “Plan B”.

It’s a cruel reality when working with technology and everyone who has ever tried to use technology has run into it.  In the staffroom afterwards, you’ll get the inevitable “That’s why I don’t use technology.”  It’s difficult to take on that discussion as you’re banging your head against the wall.

But, let’s not let it interfere with the process.  Our profession has always had points of failure that mess up good lessons.

  • assemblies that make the school run on shortened days;
  • students “sick” on the day of their presentation;
  • bulb blown on whatever projector you’re needing;
  • early dismissal for the sports team;
  • and everyone’s favourite – snow day!

The one thing that we keep hearing is how it’s not the technology; it’s the teaching; it’s the connections; it’s the collaboration…

Maybe we should step back from the technology more often and practice what we’re preaching?

======

Thanks, everyone for being so open and sharing with your thoughts.  Please enjoy these and all Ontario Edubloggers at this Livebinder.  If you’re an Ontario Educational Blogger and your work isn’t listed, add yourself via the form!

 

Ontario Edublogs Scooped


When I originally started the concept of putting all of the Ontario Edubloggers together in one spot, I thought that ScoopIt! would be the tool to provide a solution to this task.  The promise and descriptor sounded so good.  ScoopIt! would wander the web and report back to me links that it found.  So, I asked it to find me Ontario Edubloggers, bloggers, education, Ontario, Ontario bloggers, and a bunch of other things.  ScoopIt! returns links to me daily but they’re not what I’m looking for.  I guess Ontario Edubloggers aren’t tagging in the manner that I thought.  It does support a thought that I had that we need to be teaching students how to tag so that their content can be found by others.  Anyway, that’s not the point today.  ScoopIt! does return great stories for me but just not what I was looking for.  So, instead, I created the Ontario EduBlogger LiveBinder instead.  That works out nicely and with the incorporation of the Google Form, I have been adding to the collection as new blogs are created and shared.

I still wanted to do something with ScoopIt! though.  At the same time, I wanted to dig into QR (Quick Response) codes more.  I’ve heard speakers and certainly read from others about how QR Codes are going to revolutionize everything but have seen very few examples that really turn my crank.  I’m not sure this is a crank turner yet but I did create a QR version of the Ontario Edublogger list that is fully accessible by your Smartphone camera with the appropriate software.  I use something called Barcode Scanner and Google Goggles (thanks, @pbeens) on my Android and it works nicely.  If nothing else, you can do a demonstration of the website with your camera for others to show how the concept of QR works.  And, just for the record, the old fashioned mouse clicking on the link works too…

So, here’s the deal.  Go to the website http://www.scoop.it/t/ontario-edublogs or scan here.

chart

Each of the blogs has its own unique QR Code.  Just scan the code for the blog that you want and away you go to read it.  As I was doing this, I was reminded of being with my friend Johanna as students checked out books from her library.  She would flip in her binder to the student’s name to scan their info as she checked their books out.

I must admit that it took a bit of time to put this together.  However, those that know me know that I can be a little obsessive and compulsive and so I did stick to it until I was complete.  Here are the steps in case you ever want to do something like this.

0) Install the QR-Code tag for Google Chrome and open the Original LiveBinder.  Create a new ScoopIt! page.

1) Click on a link to open it in the LiveBinder and then right click to open the original blog.

2) Click the QR-Code tag to generate the QR-Code in a new window.  Save the code to your hard drive.

3) Go back and copy the URL to the blog.

4) In ScoopIt!, create a new post.

5) Paste the URL into the appropriate field.  ScoopIt! is neat now as it visits the URL and harvests info about the blog including an image to identify the blog.

6) Override the image that ScoopIt! provided above and upload the QR-Code in its place.

editor

7) Save the entry.

8) Repeat a ga-zillion times.  It was only after creating about 5 of these that the concept of ga-zillion kicked in but I really liked the look and so decided that it was worth continuing.

9) Test the images to make sure that you haven’t missed one and that they all go to the desired resource.  If there are people watching while you’re doing this, be prepared for all kinds of comments as you hold your Smartphone up to the screen.

Eventually, you hit ga-zillion and you’re done.

So, the ScoopIt! page is now created and I can use it (and you can too) should the time and place be necessary to demonstrate QR codes.

The process wasn’t actually painful.  Putting together the original LiveBinder took longer and it served nicely as source material for this page.  With this page, viewers can subscribe to an RSS feed and even suggest other content to be added.  These suggestions go to the curator (me) and I add them when notified.

So, if you have a Smartphone, give it a shot.  Any suggestions or corrections should be sent to the curator!

Follow Ontario Edu-Bloggers, Part II


Last #FollowFriday, I used Montage to put together a visual representation of Ontario Edu-Bloggers based upon their RSS feeds.  I like the effect and suggested that it might be an interesting starting page should you want to see what the folks throughout the province were blogging.  The content of the entry was based upon the results from Rodd Lucier who had originally posted the list on his blog.

For the past week, I was musing about other ways to display collections like that.  One resource that I’ve always wanted to create something of substance is LiveBinders.  So, in tribute to the Ontario educators who blog, here’s another way to bring these resources together.  Starting with Rodd’s list, I kept an eye on my Seesmic Desktop column of Ontario Educators and when I found a new Twitter message, checked the profile to see if there was a blog attached.  If there was, I added it to the LiveBinder that I’d created.  Now, I can copy and paste with the best of them but the folks at LiveBinders have created a little Bookmarklet that makes things so easy.  Just find a page and click – tell LiveBinders where to store it in the popup window and move on.  It was an incredibly quick way to pull them all together.

I maintained the original categorization that Rodd started, just taking a little liberties in order to get the titles to fit in the tabs and the result is an interesting way to categorize and display all of the blogs from a single page.  LiveBinders doesn’t spawn a new window with each link – it displays the results in a frame in the same window.  I found this very handy as I browsed around to make sure that I didn’t mess up when putting things together.

So, there you have it … a nice tribute to Ontario Bloggers for this #FollowFriday.  You can check it out live at this link.

Obviously, I created it for this blog entry.  But, I keep thinking of the best way to manage a class of bloggers and think that this might be another easy way to keep tabs on each of them with minimal navigation