This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Check out these recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Watch Birds and Savour Books

From Jessica Outram, two terrific suggestions for what to do when you’re at home and not going anywhere.

The entry point for both is low but the payback can be very high. Around here, we have two bird feeders hanging just off the patio and, as the temperatures get colder, it gets very popular. Neither of the neighbours have a feeder so we’re the only place around here to eat. So, it’s not uncommon to see the whole gang as the weather gets colder.

It makes Christmas gifts easy to give. A book on identifying birds, bags of sunflower seeds to attract Blue Jays, …

If it ever gets boring (and it doesn’t), there are always quick trips to Point Pelee or Jack Miner.

I enjoyed Jessica’s story telling of how things play out for her with birds. At times, it seems like you’re looking down at a vibrant community. Are people watching us in this way? Do any of the birds that dine here make it to her place? Like most of her posts, she tells an interesting story and you’ll want to read it all.

Then, there are the books….


OneWordx12: Are you in?

A New Year. A New Word.

There are actually a couple of interesting and relevant blog posts from Beth Lyons to check out this week.

The first one proves that she saw something coming in 2020 by doing the whole #oneword thing a month at a time instead of choosing one word for the entire year. I found it really interesting to go through her list of 12 words and try to map out (or guess) what was happening in her personal and professional life.

Then, she starts off 2021 with her word for January. I thought that this was an interesting choice. Yes, it’s one word but she uses it in a number of different contexts just to illustrate how complicated things are these days. I’m not going to mention it here because I think you owe it to yourself to visit her blog to see her writing.

I am going to use one of her thoughts as inspiration for a future blog post. Maybe tomorrow.


Ask

Wow! That’s all that I could say when I was done reading this post from Amanda Potts. What an opportunity for her and for her students!

So, she’s bought into Beth Lyons’ concept of a word for a month and “Ask” is January’s word. After reading the post, I’m guessing that it wasn’t in place on December 31 but it’s certainly advice with a real example of success for all.

I know that people are looking for mega-inspiration activities for students to keep them engaged in online learning. So, out of boredom? or inspiration? Amanda wrote to a number of authors of the books her students are reading in class.

In 20 minutes, she had an confirmation from one of the authors that they would drop in virtually to her class and interact with them. What an opportunity.

Amanda summed it nicely when she said that all she had to do was Ask. Awesome.

During the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on Wednesday, I asked Stephen Hurley is he was willing to share his expertise in Podcasting to a class that was interesting in taking the leap. He was very enthusiastic about the prospects so if you’re considering it, why not ask? He’s on Twitter as @Stephen_Hurley.

No pressure, Amanda, but I’m looking forward to a blog post from you sharing with us how your online guest worked out.


SIMPLIFYING ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION WITH GOOGLE ASSIGNMENTS – E033

The EduGals are back!

They have an interesting approach to sharing this message. It comes as both a podcast and a blog post.

I had to do a screen capture here just to show you that apparently they’re everywhere you get your podcasts.

I was doing some other work and listening to them in the background and was actually quite interested in their marriage of Brightspace and Google Assignments.

I’ll be honest here; I can pick up quite a bit by listening but this is so rich in content that I needed the blog post to completely understand their message. I thought that they had done a nice job in their explanation complete with their own documented captures.

If you’re using this combination of services, there’s probably some wisdom here that will make your job easier.


Saltwater

I’d only recently followed Hema Khodai’s blog and was pleased when my RSS program indicated that there was something to check out.

Interestingly, the content didn’t come from her but from another educator, Tharmila Apputhurai. The post is only a couple of paragraphs long but I’ll admit that it was one that brought out so much emotion in me.

During 2020, I think I’ve heard so many different personal reflections about what COVID means. But, nothing like this.

I felt as if I had been ordered by my acca to stay in the bunker until the sound and sight of the violence was gone.

I did have to look up “acca” since it was a new term to me and that even further personalized the message for me.

I hope that the message of healing in 2021 rings true.


What’s Your Superpower? Mine Is Teaching!

If there’s a testament to why I follow people on Twitter, this is it. I’ve followed Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge for a while now and, quite frankly, she’s been a person that pops up on my FollowFriday list regularly.

Recently, she shared that she had a blog post for us to check out. And I did.

I can’t imagine that, after 2020, there isn’t a teacher who hasn’t felt being pushed further in their profession than at any other time. Nilmini is that boat and shares a list of 10 things and reflections about her feelings.

  • Strike a Balance
  • Discover Your Network
  • Ah, this thing called Technology
  • Be Yourself

You’ll have to click through to discover all 10! I’m betting that you’ll find out all kinds of things about her and probably yourself in these days.

I don’t know if I could agree with “Discover Your Network” more than I do as I write this. I’ve had my network for years now and daily I’m inspired and uplifted by the connections that I’ve made.

Since Ontario Educators are connected anyway these days, why not created your own Personal Learning Network for ideas, inspiration, and people to plan with?


A #VisibleLearning Look At My Playing Reality: Finding Joy In Remote Kindergarten

I’ve always said that they don’t pay kindergarten teachers enough. I’ve often felt exhausted just walking by their classrooms.

In this post, Aviva Dunsiger pulls back the curtain and gives us an inside look at her classroom, activities, and all that it takes to pull it off. It’s a long post but worth putting time aside to read.

There are interesting personal thoughts about what she thinks she’s doing. I always found it interesting to compare what I thought I did with my principal or superintendent in the debriefing after being supervised. My thought always was that I was overly hard on myself. How about Aviva?

So, she lays it all out there in this long post full of thoughts and documentation and she’s looking for advice. Do you have any?


It’s been another great experience to read these posts and then share my thoughts with you. There’s such a wide range of topics. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the originals.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Amanda Potts – @ahpotts
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Hema Khodai – @HKhodai
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

If you need a break


and who doesn’t these days? Sometimes, it’s just nice to fire up a game on the computer. The programmers at Google have been great providers of distractions for a long time.

When I find them, I’ll often give them a play. At times, perhaps maybe too much. It can be an obsession and at other times, it can be a quick diversion.

For today, I thought that I’d share a few of my favourites.

Rubik’s Cube

For the longest time, you couldn’t just go into a department store and get one. They were always sold out. I finally got one as a gift from my aunt. After an infuriating start, I learned that the stickers were well glued on! It became the toy that you’d pick up when bored and it passed the time on long rides in the car. I did solve it at one time and resolved that I would never play again – until Google put it on its landing page.

Use the Front, Left, Right, Back, Up, Down, X, Y, Z keys for movement and the SHIFT key for the direction.


Crossword Puzzle

Who doesn’t like a good Crossword Puzzle?

Try to solve this one – Google style. This Doodle was created to celebrate 100 Years of Crossword Puzzles.


Pac-Man

This game was big. It seemed like it was everywhere – pool hall, arena, drug store, almost anywhere with an electrical outlet.

It was also available for sale as a very popular game going way back. It was also the inspiration for game writing in computer science class. As long as you could peek into a memory location, see what was there, and then make a move depending on that, you were good to go.

So, if you’re looking for a bit of digital recreation, give these a try. Not for too long though, you’ve got other things to do.

Another A-Z


I’ve been a long time fan of the work that Peter Beens (@pbeens on Twitter) has done in keeping tabs of everything Google. It goes way back to a post from 2012.

Google A-Z

Sadly, Peter has had a bit of a challenge from Google itself keeping the document online. But he describes it as a labour of love and, as of the writing of this post, it’s online for all to use here.

I had to smile on behalf of Peter when I read that Google has created its own A-Z list! This list is devoted to Artificial Intelligence.

Like Peter’s list, it’s a great reference to bookmark and stay on top of.

Maybe Peter will even add it to his list of Google resources!

You can check it out at this link.

OK, Google


OK, Google…

  • what’s the temperature outside?
  • what’s next in my calendar?
  • tell me a joke
  • good morning
  • convert $100 Canadian to US dollars?
  • set a timer for 45 minutes?
  • what’s the difference between a Home Mini and a Next Mini?
  • how old is Justin Bieber?

Such are the conversations between my Google assistant and me. To be honest, it’s not a very exciting back and forth. At this point in time, it’s more of an amusement than a real change in the way I do things. It’s fun but I haven’t reached that sense of revolution yet.

There’s always this nagging feeling that I could and should be doing more with it. It’s a lot like me with a television remote control – I don’t just want to know what’s on but what else is on.

Fortunately, rather than trial and error, there’s a wonderful resource site at:

https://assistant.google.com/explore/?hl=en-CA

So, as an example, I could be asking better questions like…

Anyone who has used the Assistant know that it be helpful and can comes up with surprises.

My logic is that, as long as I have it, I might as well get the most from it. So, I’m indeed going to be doing some serious exploring.

What’s the most off the wall thing your assistant has done for you?

A safety checkup


Sometimes, things just go along swimmingly and it’s possible to let your guard down. We all do it.

Here’s a quick check to see if your protection detector is in gear. Or, you might wish to use this in the classroom to raise the awareness of students.

The resource is call Safe Page from Google.

While this doesn’t cover every trick the bad guys use to try and hijack you into bad places, it does a pretty good job reviewing some of the things that you should be aware of.

The tutorial and facts page are interesting and, yes, there will be a test!

I challenge you! Of course, the tech savvy reader who visits this blog will ace the quiz.