A List for Learning

Any day now, there are many educators that will be starting Additional Qualification courses over the summer.  There are a couple of things that will be certain to happen during these courses.

  • Some sort of goofy ice-breaking, get-to-know-ya activity.  This activity will definitely take up at least the first hour of any course.  They are a necessity since you’ll be learning with others in a concentrated period of time;
  • What’s your Twitter handle?  Any AQ leader worth their muster will be gathering these names and/or encouraging those who are not online learning to do so.  Then, there’s the mandatory “Hello World” Twitter message followed by “Is this thing on?” and then often little more.

The challenge with additional qualification courses lies in generating value after the course has ended.  This value comes from professional relationships or professional conversations after the last day.  Having taken a large number of these courses, I was bad with that.  At the time, working in groups was a necessary activity since the presentations that you did in for class required group work.  But, once the class was over, that was it.  We departed; often never to see each other again.  I was an out of towner, taking the courses in London and Toronto so it wasn’t even like I could car pool with a co-learner.  When it was over, it was over.

I was recently reminded of this by @pmcash.  We took the Data Processing Specialist course at the University of Western Ontario more years ago than either of us will admit.  I just received a message from Peter that he had found an assignment of mine.


I hope that he hangs on to it so that I can take a look at it.  It will affirm how far we’ve come!  If you know Peter, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he was about the only person I can remember from those courses.  As computer science teachers, our paths have crossed a few times over the years but the rest of the class – sadly, I don’t remember.

Back to the current AQ course.  Your instructor will have asked for your Twitter ID.  For some, that will be as far as it goes.  Why don’t you take it further?

Follow everyone in your class.  For the duration of the course, use that as a way to share resources and enhance your learning.  How do you keep track?  Put them into a Twitter List.  I’ve mentioned the concept of a Twitter List before.  Particularly if you’re a regular Twitter user, it’s the best way to keep track of the conversation.  Put them all into a list and then follow the postings to the list in your Twitter browser.  What a great way to share the learning (and the load) of your class!  Hopefully, all will find it so useful that the sharing continues after the course.

It’s also an immediate way to monitor any back channel that you’ve got going during those hours of presentations that typically form the core of these courses.  Of course, your AQ course supports BYOD and connectivity and encourages a back channel – right?

But the learning and connections shouldn’t stop there.  There will come a time when the course ends and summer enjoyment ramps up.  Keep the list alive.  If your learning is good enough for the AQ course, it should be even better when September returns and you’re all back in your classrooms – maybe even teaching that subject or that grade level for the first time.  Share your resources and ideas – don’t do what Peter and I did and leave it until years later, if at all.  To our defence, we weren’t preparing to be 21st Century teachers!  The concept wasn’t even conceived of at the time.  It would be completely different if we were in Prof. Walsh’s class now.

But you are!  The greatest gift and learning that you may walk away with from your course is your own Instant Personal Learning Network that extends far beyond your few weeks in the summer.


Getting Started with Planboard

In our daily phone conversations, ECOO Conference co-chair Cyndie Jacobs and I cover so much.  Today, we were talking about some of the exhibitors and I was excited to learn that the company behind Planboard would be attending the conference.  I had met one of the people involved, Suraj Srinivas, at the Ontario Google Summit where I got a quick introduction to the product and was inspired to follow up with things.

I should point out that I was a real fan of the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner when it came along.  Having access to all of the expectations in the Ontario Curriculum and the ability to manipulate them as a unit was developed was just genius!  Sadly, that product hasn’t been maintained for a while.  That’s where Planboard steps in.

In a world where we’re moving to the cloud and sharing so much, it makes sense that lesson planning heads in that direction.  That’s where Planboard fits into things.  It’s already caught the eye of a few organizations:

and the relationship with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation was announced at the recent Curriculum Forum.  This is exciting news for Ontario Educators!  It doesn’t stop there though; expectations from TEKS and Common Core are included as well.

Signing up is free – create an account or use your Facebook or Google login to do the deed.

From there, it’s just a matter to start planning your day – all saved online so that you can plan at home, on public transit, wherever, and access your planning at school.

If you can work a wordprocessor (or more likely a blog editor), you can develop in Planboard.  Notice the intuitive menu items above.  If you need to include an image or a video to share with your class, adding it to Planboard is just as easy as adding one to your blog.  (Try doing that with a paper planner!)  If you believe in the real power of collaboration, you’ll notice the green public button above.  As educators take to Planboard and create their best lessons, they’ll be in a position to share them with others (or the world, if they care to).

Sharing is important and a variety of ways to share your efforts is made available.  I can see places where each of the ways would work but sophisticated people will just share the link to the lesson.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, try doing a search to see if someone has already created and shared a lesson.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are some computer science plans already shared at the site.

Of course, a lesson gains its context when you take a look at the curriculum expectations that are addressed during the lesson.  Including the appropriate expectation when you’re designing a lesson is just a matter of finding it and then clicking the add button for inclusion.

The basic, free accounts allows for 500MB of storage with an option to upgrade.

There are also campus and school licensing options.

If you’ve been in search of a lesson plan tool designed for the cloud with the inclusion of the curriculum and other tools for lesson preparation, then you need to take a look at Planboard.  It may be just what you’re looking for.

Filling a Dance Card

If you’ve been monitoring the Twitter stream since Sunday evening, you’ll notice that there have been many happy posts from people whose presentation proposals have been accepted for the #ecoo13 conference, BringIT,Together.  Indeed, part of the ECOO 13 Dance Card has been filled.  Here’s how…

Potential presenters were asked to submit their sessions online.  All of the information was collected in a database and there was an overwhelming total of entries exceeding 300.  These needed to all be independently reviewed and such was the task assigned to each member of the committee of 14.  In fact, each submission had at least three reviewers.  That meant that each committee member had 60-65 proposals to review.

All of these reviews were collated and a smaller group of 6 got together in Milton on a Friday night/Saturday morning to revisit each of the proposals, consider the evaluations already submitted, make suggestions and ultimately arrive at the portion of the proposals that would receive an invitation.  At this time, this included English language presentations.  Still to be decided will be the French language presentations and the presentation given by exhibitors.  The committee is excited by the selection of offerings to be delivered in French.

Sadly, not all of the proposals could be accepted.  There’s just so many rooms and timeslots!  The committee is working on a schedule designed to maximize the number of sessions offered.

For program purposes, each of the sessions were tagged by the committee and one of our members created a Wordle to give a sense of the content.


So, invitations have been extended and, as they’ve been confirmed, they’re added to the #ecoo13 Lanyrd site.  You’re certainly welcome to visit the site and watch as it fills with confirmation from presenters.  While there, if you’re going to join us in Niagara Falls on October 23-25, please indicate so.

If you can’t get enough of this, make sure that you install the Lanyrd  app or follow the site on your smart phone.  (It’s HTML5 enabled)

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Now you’re hopefully excited!

After all, keynote speakers Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap plus all of these great sessions offered by Ontario educators (and beyond!) promise that #ecoo13 will be a great conference.

The registration process is being tuned and will be available for use by registrants in June.  Stay tuned to social media experts @pmcash and @aforgrave as they provide the latest details via their Twitter accounts, in the Facebook group and the Google Plus Community.  Make friends online now and plan to meet them face to face at the conference.  Got a colleague who needs a little prompting to get a Twitter account?  Perhaps this is the opportunity to sit at their side and get them signed up!

If you’re reading this post and presenting, why not add a comment and let folks know your area of expertise.

Checking Out the Big Social World

Now, before you read on, a disclaimer.  This is in no way an encouragement for you to do all of this.  Remember that you have a life, a dog to walk, a family to hang with, a job that needs attention, a garden that needs weeding, …

You get the point.

It’s very helpful to use the same brand name across social media platforms.  It carves out your identity and make is easy for people to find and follow you if they’re so inclined.

How do you know if a name or what you’re proposing as your brand is available on social media services?

One way is to visit each site and see if it’s available.

OR, just use namechk!

It’s as straight forward as can be.  Enter what you’d like for a username and Namechk checks to see what’s available.

When I ran it, it checks 158 different resources.

This is addictive!  It’s so useful at so many levels.

  • It’s a great way to find new services.  I had no idea of some of them.
  • It’s humbling for people with big egos like me to find out that I’m not the only “dougpete” out there.  I wonder who was the original?
  • It’s also a nice check to find some resources that I might have signed up at one time and haven’t used for a while.

So, if you’re interested in the motherlode, this is a great place to start.


There is Hope

I don’t know about you but I’m sick of winter. I don’t know why this winter was so particularly annoying but it was. We didn’t have a great deal of snow but the cold and the wind just continually would make things so unpleasant. As a three times plus a day dog walker, I got to feel the miserable weather so often.

This past weekend, things started to look up. We were up to 17 degrees for one day before the bottom fell out again. The long range forecast doesn’t look all that promising.

I ganged up on Wiarton Willie for a bad forecast on Facebook. It made me feel better for a bit but the next walk reaffirmed that spring was still a ways away.

Then, another stormageddon smacks Ontario this week.  Enough already.

That’s why I found this recent article from The Atlantic as a real spirit pickerupper.

It’s a collection of 33 photos from around the world. These are incredible images – the type I wish that I could take. It requires being in the right place at the right time with the right camera and the settings just right.

Enjoy it here.