Tag: classroom

Olympic Resources

The Sochi Olympics are on!

There have been some interesting Olympic activities over the weekend.  The Opening Ceremonies were so interesting and of course, hockey has been wonderful to watch.  The most painful to watch for me has been the moguls.

In a post “Look for it” in January, I had shared that the Canadian Olympic Committee would be posting and updating classroom resources for use throughout the games.

They have come through as promised.

Whether you’re looking for ways to dress up your classroom or looking for ideas for fitness and well-being, the site has you covered.  In particular, download and print the Teacher’s Guide for ideas.

I particularly enjoyed the section dealing with individual athlete profiles.  Given the Gold-Silver finish of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters on the weekend, it certainly was compulsory research to find out made them so successful.  Having students create their own Olympic profile modelled after this would be interesting.

If you’re looking for a way to track the efforts of Canadians at the Olympics, this is definitely the place to go.


Hour of Code Resources

As I noted in yesterday’s post, I hope that classrooms continue to incorporate coding into learning activities.  There are so many benefits and anyone with any kind of crystal ball can only see that the importance of being able to take control of one’s sure isn’t going to decrease.

To aid the cause, I have created a Pearltree of Resource for the Hour of Code.  There have been so many blog posts, newspaper articles, and class pages devoted for the advocation and sharing of successes.

I tried to focus on just the classroom room resources that one could use.  There were many developed and I’m not naive enough to say that this is the definitive list.  However, I am bold enough to say that this is a great place to start!


You can access the Pearltree here.  Alternatively, I created a Learnist board with the same materials.

If you know of a resource that should be included, please let me know the resource.  I’d be happy to add it.

Playing with nkwiry

Brian Aspinall has done it again!

Brian is rapidly gaining fame as creating free, incredibly student friendly web resources.  The hallmark of his products are ease of signup for teachers who just create a class and the students just use the class.  No collection of student information of any kind is done and no student email is required to use the service.  Too often, concerns about student information are enough to scuttle technology in the classroom plans.  That won’t happen here.

His latest production is called nkwiry.  nkwiry is a very classroom friendly social bookmark curating service.  There are many similar services on the web but they do require some involved account creation and then a bit of work (read explaining grown up sevices to students and the frustration therein) to get started before you can enjoy some success.

Using nkwiry is as simple as the three images below.

  • teacher creates a single account for the class;
  • students are added to the class;
  • students login with the class code and begin sharing.

Brian originally created nkwiry to supplement the inquiry process in the new Social Studies curriculum.

However, as a classroom teacher, you’re not locked into just Social Studies.  Your starter classroom curation looks like this.

Of course, you can add/remove subjects or topics as needed.  Adding a link to any category looks pretty familiar if you’ve used any of the popular bookmarking services.

The only thing that appears missing at this point would be creating tags for the bookmarks.  Perhaps in an upcoming release?

It’s as functional as that.  While the big services may have more features, Brian’s design is specifically for the elementary classroom and provides “just enough” features to do the job.

My first reaction was that this has potential far beyond the single classroom.  Instead, if you’re doing a project with another school, consider adding both sets of students into your classroom.  All that’s needed is the class name and student code.  Perhaps you’re blogging or creating online presentations with another class. nkwiry easily lets you create a functional list summary of all of the participants.

If you’re looking for a simplified interface for curating resources and aren’t interested in having your students wade their way through the features of the current big services, nkwiry may be “just enough” to help you get the job done.

By way of declaration, Brian was a student of mine at the Faculty of Education.  Regardless, I am a fan of his approach to creating simplified tools for the classroom with a minimum of registration and respect for student information.  You can read an interview that I did with Brian here.

If you like what you’re seeing, make sure you check out his other products, all free and specifically written for the classroom.

And, if you are attending the Western RCAC Symposium this Thursday in London, drop by and meet Brian.  He’s presenting in the morning about how he introduces his students to coding.  Maybe we’ll find out that his students actually wrote this?

Classroom Management Challenge

Yesterday, I read and shared this article.  “15 creative & respectful ways to quiet a class.”  It’s packed with great ideas and is a good read.  The best advice appears at the bottom.

Remember there is no “magic bullet” what will get all students’ attention all of the time. Don’t get frustrated! Constantly having to refocus your class is a normal part of teaching. Take a deep breath, smile, and and keep encouraging your students. You can do this! And please, share your favorite tips for guiding students to quiet down in the comments!

My Twitter friend Linda Aragoni was all over this in a heartbeat.

She’s got a point.  I know that when I used to sing a song for my Grade 12s, that would increase the noise as they tried to drown me out.  Back and forth, she suggested…

And even offered to help.

How’s that for a challenge?  So, to you middle or secondary school teachers or college/university professors, how do you quiet a class?

I’ll start with a couple of things that I found worked for me in Computer Science classes.

  1. Consider your expectations.  In my Computer Science classes, I didn’t have the traditional “solve three problems” and then hand them in.  The programming requirements was actually a continuum of things that ran from mid-September until mid-June.  When a student had a problem to be assessed, they just called me over and we looked at it together on their computer.  More often than not, this resulted in students getting to class early, loading their program and asking me to mark it;  (added bonus – no marathon marking sessions…)
  2. Give the students ownership of the society curriculum requirement…instead of me providing examples of computers in society, students were encouraged to bring in their own stories or to talk and assess a current teachnology issue – even how computers might have been portrayed on a television show from the previous evening.  Students do have respect for each other when they own the floor.  As blogged previously, students got to show off their research with bulletin boards as well.

Having said all that, I’ll admit that my Computer Science classes were among the noisiest going but I like to think it was good noise.  There’s nothing better than students working/arguing in groups all the while on topic.  Having said that, there were days when I wished for a magic potion.

So, gentle reader in the older classes, please consider sharing your tips in the comments below.  Linda has promised to promote your wisdom.


Too Noisy

Under the category of “I dunno about that”, comes the “Too Noisy” app.

With a slider to control the sound threshold, the concept is to set a suitable noise level for the classroom and let the app monitor what’s happening.  Once the noise level exceeds the threshold, you’re alerted.

Now, how do I test this?

It’s shortly after 5am at dougpete labs, my wife and dog are sleeping, and the only sound that I can hear is from the cardinal outside welcoming the sun and the news on television.  You’ll see from the time on the screen captures that I took the high road and didn’t do the testing until they were up.

I set a much higher threshold and gently increased the volume on the television until I did set off the alarm.

Then quickly turned it down before I got into too much trouble!

My first two reactions were:

  1. I could just picture a few of my former students who would view this as a challenge to see if they could make the alarm go off;
  2. In the computer science classroom where collaboration is so important, I’d actually be disappointed if the noise level wasn’t high.  It’s the sound of great ideas and arguing over algorithm development.

Do we need an app for this?  What do you think?  Does it have a place in your classroom?


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to Friday, friends, and to a quick summary of some of the things happening this week from Ontario Educators.

Revisiting a Philosophy of Education

Not many people speak publically of their philosophy of education.  At times, it may run counter to the stated direction of their employer or the latest government initiative.  Brenda Sherry takes the time to go totally public with her thoughts.  It’s a good read about her thoughts of schools, classrooms, teaching, and students.  The benefit of doing this is to make sure that everything that you do is true to your ideals.  I had a superintendent once who encouraged us to write our philosophy and to carry it everywhere we went.  In my case, it was folded into the front cover of my Franklin Binder.  His advice, and it’s still good to this day, is that when you reach a point where you need to make a decision, re-read your philosophy and see if it fits.  The logic served me well in a number of instances.

Learning Beyond Grades

I love this idea but just can’t imagine the logistics of doing this.  Tracy’s thought involved inviting parents into the classroom and throwing the whole nine yards of assessment at them.  “What if we took this grading backlash as an opportunity to invite and share with parents all the innovative and creative ways teachers are facilitating learning in the classroom? We could show parents what we mean by 21st century learning skills, show them inquiry based learning, anchor charts, outcome expectations, a level 4 rubric, collaborative and project based learning, demonstrate what creative/critical thinking and problem solving learning looks like, what self-reflection and evaluation looks like, tech savvy classrooms, the flipped classroom, classrooms that Skype with other students around the world, show them all the different formative and summative assessments used, whatever they may be.”

Would parents then want to be part of the conversation or would they run away from the classroom screaming?

Resources for Compass For Success Presentation

Mark Carbone shares his recent presentation given to the Compass for Success organization.  You miss some things not having Mark’s insights and comments as he goes along but the slides give the gist of his presentation.  He doesn’t give any indication as to how it was received.  Next time I’m with Mark, I hope that I remember to ask him!

Classroom Tadpoles Live Stream

Science comes alive in Kristen Wideen’s classroom.  The wonderment of life continues as students can check into their classroom while at home!  What a great opportunity!

Damned Statistics & Digital Meta-cognitive Opportunities

Tim King takes a look at Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (or at least the educational equivalent)

He does ask an important question.  Are we looking at all of the possible data?  If not, why not?

Please support these great bloggers by visiting their websites and viewing their entire posts (and video).  You can check out all of the great content produced by Ontario Edubloggers by visiting the LiveBinder here.  http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=52544  If you are an Ontario Educational Blogger and your blog isn’t there, please consider completing the form so that you can be added.

Thanks for visiting.  Have a terrific Friday and a great weekend.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Another week of great reading from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what caught my eye.  Make sure that you click through and enjoy the complete posts and all of the great things that are shared by Ontario Educators.

More NaPoWriMo

This isn’t a link to a particular post but to Brandon Grasley’s blog.  Yesterday, I noted that TheBookyBunHead is participating in the National Poetry Writing Month.  It turns out that Brandon is too!  I’m in complete awe of these poets and wish them good luck in the next 26 or so posts!

Learning Stories – Parts 1 and 2

This is actually a pair of posts from Konrad Glogowski.  The series started with a simple? question that I think all educators have or should have asked themselves.

He then offers an answer from a policy document from New Zealand.

That served as a launch pad as he focuses on what’s important and what he’s passionate about as an educator.  It’s a fascinating read and I’m sure that you’ll be nodding in agreement many times.  The concept of the Learning Story is so powerful.  I’m sure that you’ll want to share this resource with all your professional colleagues.

The Noblest of Fruits

OK, maybe it’s an Essex County thing.  Drive anywhere along the south shore and you’ll find apple orchards everywhere.  Paul Cornies honours this “noble” fruit with a wonderful collection of quotes.

He starts off with a quote that I’d never read before but I’m filing that in the ol’ grey matter and hope that I will find an opportunity to use it.  Thanks, Paul, for the great reads and keep them coming.

Using the iDiary for Kids App As A Thinking Book

I had to smile just a bit about this.  Mrs. Wideen’s classroom is “for the most part paperless” and yet the first reaction to a challenge was to think that the purchase of notebooks might be a solution.  It’s probably a natural choice for all of us; after all we were paper trained.

But, if the goal is to become paperless, the answer is to find an electronic solution or, in this case, an appropriate App.  The balance of the post is a tutorial about how iDiary for Kids ended up being the solution.  I wish that more educators would take the time to think through a problem and share their solution online for others to read and potentially adopt.

I think that, even with all the technology at our hands, evaluating the role of paper is an important one.  Are we ready to get rid of it totally?  Is the best solution always a technological one?  When is one more preferable than the other?  Is the system ready for a classroom devoted to that and then next year get passed on to a classroom not at the same level of sophistication?

I hope that you agree with me that there was some great reading this week, that you take the time to enjoy these complete blog posts and share your thoughts with the authors.

Check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here and please add your details if you’re a blogger from Ontario and not on the list.

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