Last Saturday was the latest installment on a series of blog posts called @voicEd #twioe Playlist. In it, I try to recapture the radio shows from voicEd Radio. I wish that I had kept a tally of which blog I featured most. I have my suspicions but that’s all that it is. It really isn’t a competition; just a chance for me to share some of the great writing that I had experienced in the previous week. It’s a sort of maintenance and finality to the content.
It’s also the last day of the month. Now, for you with your high speed and unlimited internet access, have some empathy for those of us who live in rural Ontario with a cap on both speed and the amount of internet use that we can have in any given month. On the last day, I typically check the usage and, if there’s a lot left, I’ll do some maintenance and force all the devices to look for and apply updates.
Since I’m in a maintenance mindset, I also will take a poke around my Ontario Edubloggers collection. In this case, I’m looking for blogs that have disappeared from the online landscape so that I can remove them from my collection. I’ll also go through and mark some that haven’t been updated for a long time. I’ve mentioned before; I’m hesitant to pull the plug on them just in case the author decides to bring it back to active status. The content was relevant when I first bookmarked it and so, while the date may not be current, the content often still is.
As I’m doing this, I reflect on why people blog in the first place and, if there are 1 000 blogs, there are probably 1 000 reasons. It’s not up to me to make value judgements – some are created for a course, some are created because it seemed like a good idea at the time, some supported an initiative that is done, some … You get the concept.
Around here, there was a time before I blogged. And yet, I still made a record of things. It might have been in a binder, in a file on my computer, in a FirstClass conference on the board’s conferencing system, but there was always something. One of the trite things that I think we have all heard is that we should “be learning everyday”. That stuck with me but I had this nagging feeling that I could indeed learn but I could just as easily forget. I made a personal commitment to myself to try to learn something every day and then keep a record of it. When the memory failed, I could always look for it in the blog history somewhere. Over time, blogging became the thing to do and so I use it personally to keep track – this blog for everything – my reading and writing, and https://dougpete.blogspot.com/ for my reading. Redundant, I know, but hey…
I know that there are some blogs that have just gone away. I have no doubt that there will come a time when my blogs will disappear too. But, how will people know? Will people even care?
I always figured that there should be some sort of blogging protocol that says you should make one final post a sort of Hitchhiker’s post. It would be a tribute and a thanks to all those who supported the blog while it was active and an opportunity for people to have a reason to stop visiting.
So, what did I learn today. Quite a bit, actually.
and when I go away to a conference for a week like I did earlier in the month, there’s lots of data left over at the end of the month. Good thing too because there was a big Windows 10 update to apply.
The “I” in ISTE stands for International but it isn’t necessarily Ontario friendly in terms of its timing! Schools are still in session in Ontario so, for the large part, the only Ontarians that are in attendance in Philadelphia are centrally assigned people and exhibitors.
So, the next best thing is to follow the hashtag on Twitter, right? There are three that are important to follow…
The actual #ISTE2019 hashtag is pretty good if you’re there or you’re looking for selfies of people that are or invitations to special events and promotions. For the rest of us, #NOTATISTE and/or @NOTATISTE19 are really good hashtags to follow.
There is another resource that you might find really helpful.
Welcome to our fun journey of capturing ISTE for those who can’t be there and for those that are there but can’t see everything!
Just like actually being at a big conference like this, the collection can be pretty overwhelming. But, unlike going to the conference and attending the sessions that you can, they’re all archived there for current and future enjoyment.
There are some amazing things that can happen when you share the best of ideas and opportunities. Brenda Sherry does this in this post.
She’s been well versed in the Exploring by the Seat of your Pants project in a number of professional learning events that she’s been a part of. Recently, she actually got to bring the power of connections to a classroom in her own school.
Junior students got to participate in an interaction with a Canadian marine biologist. Along with students from many other diverse places.
When you think about the traditional guest speaker, they drop in and talk and leave. The power in this model is that it’s recorded and shared via YouTube. In this way, you can revisit the event and also use it in other years. Heck, since it’s publically available, you’re not just limited to the one that your class used.
It sounds like a wonderful learning experience happened. The big takeaway for you, reader, is how to get involved in your own classroom by bringing an expert into there. Details are included in Brenda’s post.
You can’t argue with statistics. In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Michelle Fenn sets the stage.
According to a recent report* by ICTC (the Information and Technology Information Council) Canadian women represent about 50% of the overall workforce but represent only 25% of the technology industry workforce.
We’ve known this forever, it seems, and yet the inequities still exist. Michelle offers some good suggestions to help change things in your own school.
I think it needs to go further though. If we know that this is a problem then there should be an educational way to fix it. But, until it becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum, we’re left with good people trying their best. That pales in comparison to what can happen if it’s done systemically and supported well with a common set of tools and pedagogy.
In addition to the suggestions in the post, check out the NCWIT website for updates on their activities and for free resources.
Until the situation is formally recognized though, students will still be subjected to hit and miss approaches and cutesy little standalone professional learning activities.
A secondary school teacher who is doing something about this is Tim King. This post details his efforts and observations as he takes an all-female team to the Cybertitan competition.
Tim weaves an interesting story involving both observation and action.
Some of these observations are disturbing.
– where are all the girls?
– A number of people (oddly all male) grumbled about the all-female wildcard spot
– taking an all-female crew to this event had me constantly seeing micro-aggressions I might have otherwise missed
– we were only there because we’re a girl’s team
– as she reached for the pen a boy from another team stepped in front of her like she wasn’t there
And there’s more. You need to set aside a significant amount of time to read this post where even creating the learning environment was not supported by the school district and the students had to build their own computers.
My apologies, in advance, to Sue Dunlop. When I saw the title of this post, I thought it read “Youse guys” and that it was going to be a fun little post about literacy.
Instead, it’s about the expression that is used to refer to a group of people.
yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one
From the post, it’s clear that Sue has either been in a group that was addressed this way or she saw it being used in that way. Either way, it inspired her to write about it.
She offers some alternatives to use in the post.
Most importantly, it’s a reminder that our choice of words is important. It serves as a reminder to me of the importance of an objective peer coach.
This applies to writing as well. I hope that I don’t use expressions that would offend; I would hope that readers feel comfortable enough to let me know when I do; and I would hope that I would take that as an opportunity to avoid doing it again.
One of the powerful things about blogging is that, at least for now, your thoughts will be there forever. (or until you delete it or the service goes away or … well, you get my meaning)
One of the things that Patt Olivieri will have a chance to do with her son is share this post when he’s old enough to fully appreciate it.
In education, we know all about assessment, evaluation, and data points. Our system and our jobs thrive on it. It’s one of the things that separate education workers from other workers. It’s scientific, artistic, and humanist all at the same time.
It’s not as powerful as a mother’s love for her child.
You see, my love, there is no test for all of this, no grade, no level that can ever capture the everyday, ordinary stuff that accumulates to the only stuff that can ever be measured in immeasurable ways.
Alanna King didn’t post this to her personal blog (at least not yet) so I kind of stumbled onto it on the Canadian School Libraries site.
It was great to see a former colleague quoted in Alanna’s post. A bit of trivia – her office had a window, mine didn’t.
There are two major topics that Alanna addresses in this post.
Why should teacher-librarians self-direct their professional development?
How should teacher-librarians find sources of professional development?
It was good to see that the Bring IT, Together Conference and #ECOOcamp made her list. It goes much further than that and you’ll find yourself tired when you read about Alanna’s endeavours and recognized that they’re all tacked on top of her day job, including writing this post.
There was another area that I thought she could have addressed more completely and, perhaps it’s in a future post, but in addition to her involvement as a participant in things, she is also a highly sought after presenter.
If you’ve ever been a presenter yourself, and what teacher hasn’t in some form, you know that the research and preparation that goes into that can be some of the best professional learning that you’ll ever do. Unlike the professional that repeats the same session over and over again, changing your topics and focus regularly keeps you from going stale.
Now, here’s something completely different from James Skidmore. It falls from a reflection on student abilities from a course that he just taught. He notes that they’re good readers but …
What they can’t do, however, or at least not do very well, is identify passages or quotations from the novel that can be used as the cornerstone for a commentary on the larger text, and then build a commentary based on that passage.
I’d never really thought about this. Now that I have, I would like to think that that is part of what I’m trying to do with these regular Friday posts. I guess it’s a bit of a confession that I try to apply this technique to blog posts which are, by design, short and typically focus on one thing. How would I make out in a larger text? I’ve never thought about it and I wonder.
James has done some research and finds that there isn’t much that has been done already. What to do? He’s going to make it a project for eCampusOntario Extend mOOC . You can read about it and there’s a link to a collaborative document in his post.
I wonder if there are any other teachers of Language that would be interested.
And that’s a wrap.
Like always, some great thinking from Ontario Educators. Please take the time to honour their efforts by clicking through and reading the original.
Lynn Thomas is on a personal project working her way through the alphabet and is up to the Fs. An F word that could have been used here as well would be failure!
Lynn takes a look at the original intent of Victor Frankenstein and how the plan actually failed badly. She ties it to the current plan to require four courses of eLearning for graduation in Ontario. You can easily see that it’s a “Make in Toronto” solution where connectivity isn’t a problem should you choose to afford it.
Supporting her cause are a couple of maps of the province showing where connections lie. This one, shared by Lynn, is from Connected North.
The discussion never actually gets around the appropriateness of students to work in that environment – it’s just getting that horse to water in the first place that will be the first challenge.
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle that teacher-librarian Beth Lyons ties together in this post. The concept of a Maker Space shouldn’t be new to anyone these days.
There’s a twist here worthy of note.
First of all, there’s the connection to the Forest of Reading. That was an important twist for me and I’m sure will appeal to other teacher-librarians.
Then, there’s the analysis of what making actually means. Like so many schools, making in Beth’s world could easily involve booking the library and having a making period. Early models of computer implementation were done this way and we knew that there had to be a better way.
Beth follows along with making making (yes, I just said that) come to the students as opposed to students coming to the making. This is accomplished with her concept of Genius Carts.
It’s well thought through, she includes a link to a presentation she made about the topic and she’s also indicating that she’s collecting data to provide proof of concept.
As a followup to the original concept, Beth is looking at a podcasting bent to the next iteration. I like this approach.
If you want the spoiler, go to the bottom of this post from Jessica Outram.
She’s already an author, although currently unpublished. The plan is to write another novel and publish it this time.
What strikes me as so unique in this is a personal analysis of her family, history, traditions, immigration and DNA research. It’s sort of a marriage of old and traditional with new and cutting edge.
I won’t spoil the result for you – click through to read her post for more.
Other than outlining her plans and I hope she gets published before someone rips off her idea, she does a wonderful job of personal storytelling that leads to her thinking about this project. There’s a wonderful retelling of parts of her history in the post.
I could see this being a very powerful novel and noteworthy for reading and studying in the classroom.
I hope that this actually happens; I’d buy the book.
A couple of Twitter messages was the inspiration for Lisa Cranston to write this post about going to school now and measuring time until the end of the school year.
The reality hit a little close to my memory of me as a first year teacher.
Obviously, it was my first time through the curriculum but I can recall returning from March Break and started to panic thinking that I might not get the curriculum covered before the end of the school year.
Oh no! What to do!
I suspect that people who are teaching in the EQAO years have the same level of discomfort.
Lisa offers a reality check for all and will make you think – just what is it that you’re in the profession to do?
There’s a lot to be pulled from this post from Heather Theijsmeijer.
Her context is as a mathematics leader within a school district and a focus on mental mathematics.
A good annotation can also help uncover student misconceptions, and help them realize where they might have gone wrong. Or, it might lead to a completely different way of thinking about a problem. In either case, that visualization can be quite powerful.
I think we can all agree about the concept and the need and importance for visualization when attempting to solve mathematics problem. In the post, she goes through a great deal of sharing about how she thinks her way through what goes into the creation of a drawing to help with that visualization. There’s a lot of thought that goes into this.
If you think about the “good old days” when we learned mathematics, I’m sure that there was nowhere this amount of thought that went into the drawings that helped us visualize and understand.
This was an interesting post from Matthew Morris. Last week, you’ll recall that he shared with us five suggestions for the classroom for Black History month.
Now, he’s throwing out a wondering about whether Black History Month still holds meaning.
I can’t help but think of this…
“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.”
In my mind, there’s no question – the answer is a resounding yes.
It seems to me that there are two important and yet somewhat different tacts on this. There is that element of history that everyone should know. As Matthew notes, “Our students know about Martin and Rosa and Muhammad and Slaves.”
But there’s another element and Matthew referred to it in last week’s post. There’s the element of history that shapes your local community. It serves two purposes; one to understand the history of events that happened but more importantly, helps to develop an understanding of why your community is what it is today.
If you’re in education, you undoubtedly will be in and out of whirlwinds for your entire career. It’s the nature of the beast. You’re always outnumbered and it requires some terrific planning on your part.
Sue Dunlop offers a suggestion for helping to deal with it.
It’s a tack that I used myself and I can vouch that it works. It involves prioritizing things but the number one step is:
Maybe you can step away from the whirlwind for 30 minutes and create the time.
If you prioritize things (I used A-Z, 1-9), then create your time first before anything else. I always made mine A1 and put it into my timetable as a first step in planning. That time, to me, was sacred and couldn’t be touched.
In theory anyway – if you have a supervisor with their own schedule of things – well, I guess that’s why they put erasers on pencils!
Boy, this post from Noa Daniel took me back, way back, to Grade 5 and speeches. I don’t recall any school event that caused me more stress and anxiety than speeches.
Years later, I’m comfortable presenting and talking to groups of all sizes but that speech on sweaty recipe cards in front of 30 classmates was the thing that nightmares were made of for me. When I think about it, perhaps those recipe cards were good things. They would have kept my arms in place rather than flinging then around while I’m talking!
Of course, we live in a completely different world these days and Noa describes an approach that she uses that is far more humane than the “you’re going to do a speech” approach! It is also a different time. We didn’t have the advantage of watching a video to even understand what this speech thing should be like as we were planning. Looking back, it seemed like the goal was to talk monotone for five minutes
Not in Noa’s class.
Using the concept of the TED Talk, Noa shares how she provides opportunity for student to brainstorm significant issues of the day for her students in their graffiti board. But it’s not then headed direct to the talk; students have a chance to make a pitch to their classmates. It seems to me that it’s a lower stress entry point designed to make this far richer than a one shot activity.
And, if you worry about today’s kids, take a look at the topics that they’re contemplating addressing. The kids are alright.
Plus, there’s mathematics involved. Does it get any better or more authentic than that?
Diana Maliszewski click baited me into reading this post. Generally, I get a sense of a blog post in the title shared but I had no idea what to expect this time around. Quite frankly, the word “microaggression” was new to me.
Diana uses the post to celebrate some of her recent learning and sharing and then turns her eye back on herself. In the busy world that she creates for herself, I don’t know that I would consider the events that she self-identifies as anything more than a slip. Goodness knows that we have all made them.
I did find the challenge that she and Michelle Solomon had made on them interesting and made me think…
Someone called us out on our choice of visuals and examples and said that we focused too much on the negative, and not enough on positive representations.
I would suspect that it would be the sort of thing that many of us would be guilty? of. Very often, the negative is easier to make a point if nothing other than for its shock value. Positive representations over and over may not deliver the intended message. I’ve got to think my way through this. I know both Diana and Michelle and I have no doubt that, in their planning, they would both be working on an important theme and would have check and double-checked each other during their planning.
I need to think more about the term microaggression.
The academic in me is intrigued with the openness that he shares about a new course offered this Winter. I can’t ever remember taking a course the first time that it was offered.
I can see a 21st Century learning approach to the course … he got me thinking about tagging my learning
We think of learning as acquisition: “Look! A piece of information! Let me acquire it (ie, let me learn it) and make it my own!” I encourage students to move beyond this rather limited view and instead approach learning as an exercise in categorization.
We all know, I hope, that students learn better when they create something new as a result of their efforts.
Read James’ post in its entirety and follow the links to see how he wants this to play out.
Does your brain hurt as much as mine? Make sure that you click through and read these interesting posts in their entirety.
Then, add these educational bloggers to your Twitter learning network.
If you think you know the internet, Google, and searching, here’s your change to try it out.
Just click the link and away you go.
You’ll be prompted with a search topic and have the ability to choose from some, at times, equally possible out comes. It sounds interesting but it’s not about you and your searching patterns. It’s about what the world is searching for.
You’ll probably end up making some choices on topics that you never have thought about. Me, anyway. Healing clay?
Oh, and the bonus rounds and trending concepts. This year or last?
It’s fun and engaging and the answers actually provide some fun, humour, and additional facts to make you that internet genius that you know you are.
Much has been written about blogging in education. I read a couple of posts this morning that got me thinking more about it. One was from George Couros titled “Isolation is now a choice educators make“. Given how easy it is to get connected and how I can speak from experience to the number of ideas I personally get from this self-help market, I can never say it enough – thank you to all the people that I interact with regularly. You are so appreciated.
Much of George’s post relates to the concept of blogging and that’s great. I would just note that that’s not the only way to escape from isolation. There are a number of tools that people use and that’s great. The choice should be the user but the results are so well described in his blog post.
If you’re a regular reader here, you know that the blog is one of my favourites and, as luck would have it, immediately after reading George’s blog post, I read this one. 9 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Blog a Success. If you’re a blogger, I would encourage you to give it a read and then see how you stack up. If you’re contemplating starting blogging personally or with your class, it does provide some points to ponder.
Here’s how I think I stand up to the 9 points. (Regular readers know I love these things…)
Do: Blog Regularly
I absolutely agree with this. There’s nothing that’s worse than loading a great looking blog’s RSS and then wait months or maybe never for the next post. In the beginning, I struggled with this. It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time. At least until I started to do it and then reap the benefits. When I turned blogging into something that I did to record one piece of thinking on any given day, the process took on a life of its own. I now have the opinion that, if I’m not blogging, I’m not thinking and I never want to do that. Consequently, if I’m reading something or exploring something, I write about it. It forces me to think deeper about the topic and the blog post is now on record and I know that I can always dig into the archives if I remember that I once looked at or thought about something.
Don’t: Switch Topics All the Time
I’m guilty of this and I don’t think I want to apologize for this. If I chose the same topic day after day after day, I think it would get boring and repetitive. I do try to keep my thoughts roughly educational. Does that count? As mentioned above, if I’m thinking, I’m blogging.
Do: Have a Contest
No budget. Can’t do it. This operation is run lean and mean.
Don’t: Be Mean
Well, not that mean. I understand the concept here and I’ve seen blogs that are just mean and the content is just scathing for whatever topic is being discussed. I think that’s so counter productive. You can disagree without being disagreeable. I know that when I run into a blog that operates that way, I just keep on going.
Do: Connect with Other Bloggers
Absolutely. Bloggers are among the best group that you can connect with. We’ll comment on each other’s blogs, interact on other social media and always search each other out if we know we’re going to be in the same place at the same time.
Don’t: Post “Just” a Blog (with no planning)
This is great advice. If all that you’re doing is posting to say that you’ve posted, it takes the excitement out of it. You need to blog when you’re inspired to write. In schools, if you “go to the lab” and blog during the 40 minutes that you’re there, you won’t be universally successful. I think that’s a major reason why I like the concept of BYOD or other ways to get computers in the classroom. You need to brainstorm, research, do your rough drafts, and then finish the product when inspired.
Do: Use Images & Video
Used properly, they do serve to break up large bodies of text. While I like to include things that I’ve created myself, like drawings, pictures, or screen captures, there are wonderful copyright free resources on the internet should you need it.
Don’t: Forget Links & Tags
One of the really nice features of working with WordPress is its ability to analyse your work as you type. Based on your content, you’ll get a nice collection of tags recommended and related articles. I think the related articles, in particular, help to extend the conversation that you’ve started in the blog. And, it’s equally cool when you end up linking to yourself. I’ve got nothing against circular references! Remember the old days with endnotes to support the thesis of your paper? Think of inline linking as a step up in reference. The resource is readily available as you read – not at the end of the content!
Do: Have Fun with Your Blog
I think this is the best advice of the nine. I’m often asked “When will you quit blogging?” My answer has always been “When I want to stop learning” but the answer may well be answered better as “When it stops being fun”.
I know that there are many classrooms that will be making blogging an integral part of any program this year. At first blush, it may seem to be perfectly designed for Language classes – and it is. But it’s equally as helpful in Mathematics, Science, … in fact anywhere where you want students to dig deeper. I think it’s perfect for blended learning classrooms. That’s just in the classroom. Circle back to George’s blog post about professional growth and isolation. What better way to show that you’re learning, ask questions, engage others, create a call to action, define just where you stand, share your vision – the possibilities are endless.
Regardless of how or where you see blogging, you want yourself or your students to be successful. These nine tips can be very helpful getting started and also used periodically to take a deep breath and reflect on the way things are.