Tag: Educators

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Labour Day Weekend.  Anyone else going to the Harrow Fair? We go every year so that my wife can get her fill of banty hens.

If not, settle back and read some of these interesting blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Why Twitter? Response

Have you ever made someone create a blog post?  I did and Jennifer Casa-Todd responded nicely.  She started with an innocent enough question….  I think it’s probably a question that everyone would like the answer to.

 

That opened the door for me and a blog post inspired by her inquiry.  Read her post and you’ll understand her motive for the original question.

She’s looking for some data for her research so if you have literally 15 seconds to help her out, answer her three question survey.

I’m hoping that she shares the results; I know I’m interested.


#BIT15Reads: Joining the club and choosing a book

Last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference, a self-directed learning/discussion book talk was introduced with great success. 

Alanna King is getting a head start on the concept this year.  Using her expertise with Goodreads, she’s started the process.

I think it’s a natural progression.  Not everyone can attend and join in the discussion face to face at the conference.  But, anyone with the book and an internet connection can read and participate.  This could go world-wide – please consider sharing her initiative far and wide.  The more that are involved, the better the results and proof that our connections are so powerful.


Neil Postman Had It Right—Back in the 80’s

The year is 1987 and the location is Tel Aviv.  Peter Skillen reminisces about a conference with the theme “caution versus enthusiasm”.  In this post, Peter shares some of the thoughts from Neil Postman on the topic.

Even though the years have passed, there’s still so much common sense in Postman’s observations.

What’s changed?

Innovation and big business.  Attend any computer conference or visit any technology store.  The amount of technology available to schools and teachers back then was minuscule compared to the offerings today.  Add to it the number of people who work on commission and you have a huge intrusion into schools and school districts trying to sell the latest, greatest, and shiniest.  That’s not going to go away soon but it wouldn’t hurt to step back and question why.  If the answer is “because so and so is doing it” or “it’s the standard in business and industry” or based on a theory of questionable origin, then I’d suggest that the wheels are wobbly and need to be tightened.


Curricularize Coding? Not a New Question!

Peter must be clearing out his personal library.  In the next post, he shares evidence that good Ontario educators understood the value of programming in 1986.  Of course I was, because as a secondary school computer science teacher, that was my job.  Peter reminds us that there were elementary school teachers who understood the power as well in this scanned article from ECOO Output, an eagerly awaited publication from ECOO when it had Special Interest Groups and was more than just a conference.

His inclusion of this picture of Ontario Educational Technology leaders brought back some memories of people I’ve worked with over the years.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Ron Millar wear anything but black.

Oh, and Peter also includes a nice article from the SIG-LOGO group.  I’ll confess to being completely distracted and spending quite a bit of time going through the above picture before I read that though.  Sorry, Peter.


Back-To-School 2015: Your Creative Advice

Stephen Hurley’s latest post is both a smile and a plea for help.

I find myself wearing two hats on this one. The first is the hat of an educator who has had the opportunity to witness quite a few opening days. But I’m also the father of two children who, at 8 and 6 years of age, are just beginning to negotiate their way through the formal school system. Truth be told, I find myself favouring the father hat these days.

Being a teacher and a parent is an interesting combination, and really challenging at times.  Going back to school is just the beginning.

But, with young kids, it’s a challenge for everyone.  Indeed, how do you make it an exciting and non-threatening event?

Stephen offers some suggestions and is looking for more.

Do it quick; school starts on Monday.

The smile part – I’m sure that he’s yet to experience the situation where a student / teacher conflict happens and the teacher is a friend and the student is, well your kid, and you know what she/he is capable of.


Case Method — classroom catalysts, from story to discourse and back again

You might have missed this post from Richard Fouchaux because he neglected to include the word “free” in the title.  But, make sure you give it a read.

He’s putting it out there – if you’re interested, show a little online love and follow his blog for the results.


As the return of school is nigh, it’s great to see that Ontario Educators are still learning and sharing.  Please take a few moments to click through and support these wonderful bloggers and all of the Ontario Edubloggers.  If this is the year for you to start sharing your wisdom with others, please add your blog URL in the form provided.  There’s so many good things happening.  Be a part of it!

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Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall


Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

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?

A Great Symbaloo Mix


It’s not secret that I’m a real fan of Symbaloo.  I’ve talked about it before and have a number of webmixes tied to my account.  My only challenge is writing about it and making sure that I spell it correctly.  Two Ls or Two Os?

At times, I’ll explore the public webmixes for a number of reasons.  I might add it to my own in a new tab or I’ll use it as an answer when someone asks “Can you recommend something for this…?”  I like to encourage others to create their own.  In the classroom, it’s a very functional and engaging way to direct students to appropriate and pre-selected resources.

For the well connected educator, it’s a great one stop portal to all of the things that might be happening in your classroom.  You know – your wiki, your blog, student blogs, homework helper, YouTube page, …  Anything that transports the class to where they need to be with a single click is great.

During my recent search, I came across this webmix.  http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/computerlab4  It’s a collection of lab links for Oak Grove and Valley View”

Updated this summer, you can be relatively assured that all of the links are active.

For some, this may be too much on a single screen.  For others, it might be just perfect since you’ll be directing students to one particular button during the lesson.  It’s also a good answer to the parent question “What are some websites we could use at home with our child?”

Symbaloo is free; there is an educational version here; there’s an iOS version and an Android version.

There really aren’t any excuses to give it a try!

 

Technology Integration Matrix


The Technology Integration Matrix is an interesting resource.  For the experienced teacher who is using technology well, it offers a confirmation that things are done well.  For the teacher struggling to engage students through the use of technology in lessons, it offers a world of ideas from the simple to the rather complex.  For the new teacher, or especially teacher candidates, it offers a complete interative overview of what should be, might be, could be…

Across the top, levels of sophistication include Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion, and Transformation.

Each of these levels deal with a type of technology use:  Active, Collaborative, Constructive, Authentic, and Goal Directed.

As I worked my way through the matrix, I found myself agreeing with a great deal of it.  At the same time, I pictured people by name who I knew would argue, not on the concept, but on the label attached.

Regardless, if you’re a technology using educator, a person who supports others using or trying to use technology, or a person who just wants to glean more ideas, it’s time well spent to work your way through the resource.  There are some great ideas along with movie clips to demonstrate the concepts.

Share it with your colleagues.  It may just be enough to push them to the next level of sophisticated use.

 

A Library for New Teachers


Just stumbled across this article.

The Best 50 Books for New Teachers

I recognize quite a few of them but certainly not all.  I think that the collection would be a nice starting point for a lending library at the district level for new teachers.  At the school level, a teacher-librarian would be immediately of value to the new staff members by populating their professional corner with titles from this list.

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Nimble Classrooms


For a great read, check out “How Will Classrooms Change With the Use of Computers?

One of the quotes really resonated with me.

“It’s going to be more about teachers having nimble classrooms.”

To me, this means a number of things and many teachers are embracing it already although they may not have considered their classes “nimble”.

I’m seeing:

  • No need for a traditional computer lab which conveys the notion that computers are a distinct subject;
  • Portable computers that are invited into the learning environment at the point of instruction;
  • Engaging students in learning activities that are truly different – not just the same old stuff transposed to a computer;
  • Considering smart phones, tablets, etc. as just another computer;
  • Conversations within and without the classroom with teacher as guide not as the dispenser of information;
  • Creating new content to address expectations where the old content just doesn’t cut it;
  • Students confident in their abilities so that they become the experts and geniuses in a subject area;
  • A blend of face to face and online learning experiences becoming the norm;
  • A classroom that can be reorganized on a moment’s notice as required;
  • Traditional literature pieces replaced by multimedia including podcasts, videos, broadcasts, hangouts;
  • Classrooms complete with a suite of tools where students elect to use the most appropriate one;
  • Students not only using the technology but can describe critically why they choose to use it;
  • This point intentionally left blank – if a classroom is truly nimble, this list should never be complete.

What does “nimble classroom” mean to you?