This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

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Mozilla’s Web Literacy Standards Released


Mozilla has just released its set of Web Literacy Standards and it’s something that everyone who uses the web personally or in the classroom needs to look at and try to understand.

Many people are comfortable with just accessing the web and siphoning off what they need for the moment.  But, that’s only part of the picture.  The web literacy standard identifies three strands where you might be navigating, creating for, or participating on the web.  See the table below.

It’s not a big task.  It only takes a few minutes to read the attributes.

But, where are you?  Are you stuck on the left?  If so, there’s so much more that you could be doing.  Shift your eyes to the right.

In the classroom though, this should serve as a plan to scaffold the type of activities that you have in your classroom.

Where do you fall on this chart?  I wish that I had found this to share at the open of the #ECOO13 Conference.  It would have added so much value to just about every session that was offered.  Certainly, it should help as folks plan for ECOO14.

For more details, check the Mozilla Wiki and the Web Literacy Standard page.

Kudos to Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) and team for release 1.0.

Literacy Visually


There are times that I really worry about my sense of literacy.  I read so much on line and there’s no guarantee that any of it is going to be properly written or constructed.  Liberties seem to be taken with the language regularly and there are some that just don’t appear to care.  It irks me to see signs outside of stores or on the street with “there” where “their” should be.  Or, gasp! the inappropriate use of the apostrophe.  I’ve even been known to go to into a store to help the cause of literacy and report mistakes.  It’s always to the embarrassment of my wife “You’re such a teacher”.

Of course, there’s spelling, but grammar also figures high on the scale as well.  Even as a computer science teacher, I required my students to submit a written description of their projects.  After all, not every computer science graduate will end up being a coder.  Someone has to write the documentation or work the support desk and communication is key to the best of supports.

Visual.ly had a fabulous blog post recently.  Titled “11 Infographics That Will Help You Improve Your Grammar and Spelling“.  I thoroughly enjoyed the post and found myself nodding at many of the tips and reminders in the infographics.

Now, I had been chastised once for supporting great efforts like this.  “So and so says that you’re supporting the company that created them.”  To that end, my response was a question as to what “so and so” has done recently except complain.  To me, anyone that supports the literacy cause in an LOL world can’t be all bad!

As I was taking a look at the infographics in the article, I was checking the source.  One of the sources caught my eye.

It was to the web resource Grammar.net.

Wow!

Talk about hitting the literacy infographic jackpot.

It’s infographic after infographic about all kinds of use of the English language like this little snippet from the graphic about adjectives and adverbs.

Adverbs

You name a literacy lesson and I’ll bet there’s an infographic at the site to support it!

Each of the infographic comes with code to embed it into your class wiki or you could just send your students to the graphic being discussed during today’s lesson.

Language teachers, and we all should be one, should immediately check out the wealth of resources here.  Your going to love it.

(I can’t believe I just did that.)

Hmmm


On my Wiki, I have a link that I used when talking about media literacy.  I call it Sites That Should Make You Go Hmmm.  It’s devoted to the notion and, for some, the awakening to the fact that not everything you read online is true.  (no kidding, you mean the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is endangered?)

I know that many people have used the page as part of a web literacy unit with students.  That’s what it’s there for and you’re welcome to it.

Whenever I’m reading online anymore, I find that it’s more important than ever to have your BS filter locked and loaded.  Such a story hopped to my reading today.

It seems like more and more people are looking for and expecting the outrageous, the new, the exciting and they want to be on top of it.  I guess a particularly easy target are the “Apple Fanboys“.  They hand on every hint of a new product from Apple and just have this desire to be the first to break the news.  Even if they have never seen or heard of it, they’re quick to blog or vlog about how great and awesome it is and how it’s the newest and greatest thing going.  And, to their defence, Apple is noted for some incredibly innovative types of things.  I mean – roll back the clock a few years and who could imagine a telephone slash media player slash computer slash PDA?  Well, except Star Trek.

It was with great interest that I read the story “Swedish firm’s Apple hoax shows gullibility of online readers” in the Los Angeles Times.  I had to read it a couple of times just to be sure that I was reading what I thought I was reading…  Then, to verify, I had to track back to the original blog post from this Swedish Company.  “How we screwed (almost) the whole Apple community” and then to the Reddit link.  What’s unique about this is the explanation of how it was done.  To my knowledge, this was the first time such a thing was documented.

Ah, it was done in good fun and I’m sure that there was some joking around a water cooler somewhere.

The real gem from this whole story is the graphic at the bottom of the post where they plot “Perceived Level of Truth” versus “Distance from Source”.  I could see that being a very valuable discussion piece in the classroom when talking about media literacy.

Other than the use of the story for literacy terms, the whole incident did have a bit of value for the company from me.  I backed off the URL to the root to discover just what this company was and what it does.  Thankfully, Google Chrome has built-in translation features.

So much information


I awoke yesterday morning to a message from my friend @aforgrave who had just seen my #FollowFriday messages about Ontario Educators.  He wanted to know if this was yet another automated thing I had going on and, if not, had I seen the new about the earthquake in Japan.

As a matter of fact, I was awake doing my Friday routine and hadn’t checked into the overnight stream of information as of yet.  I had just roused myself and was doing this before I got distracted with some early learning morning news and learning.  As we know now, the events of yesterday were horrible and the effects of the earthquake were being felt in the Pacific and on Americas side of the Pacific all day.

Once again, Twitter had served to be the perfect conduit of information as it happened.  It absolutely trumped RSS for providing the information to the world and the news channels seemed puzzled as to the importance of what was happening.  In my quest for news, I found that television news was incomplete and I was switching all over trying to find the latest details.  The traditional US cable channels were doing their best and yet the reports were intermixed with weather trivia, the price of gasoline, and an analysis of what the US response to the crisis would be.  I found that for the most considered reports, that I settled on Global’s Vancouver channel and BBC World.

and Twitter.

My saviour for the television news was the remote control.  My saviour for Twitter was the hashtags #japan and #tsunami.  As would be expected, the demand for information forced these types of searches to the top of the suggestions.

There was no shortage of resources reporting on situation.  It really was disconcerting and one of the reports I watched interviewed a professor from Simon Fraser University who was asked if we were experiencing more earthquakes given the Japan and recent Christchurch situations.  I was surprised at the response which was no, we’re not experiencing more of them – they’re just happening in populated areas where we’re equipped with the ability to cover it better.  Certainly, we experienced that yesterday and it continues this morning with the reports of damages to nuclear plants in Japan.

Classroom treatment of situations like this is important.  In this case, watching and dealing with live information may not always be age appropriate given its nature.  One resource that immediately came through was actually a recycled activity from CBCLearning.  It was designed for the disaster a few years ago in the Indian Ocean and was equally as appropriate for yesterday.

Links to this and so many other resources made this form of news aggregation so powerful.  For me, one of the most powerful moments was actually an image.  This was not necessarily an infographic but did convey a powerful message.

There was so much information.  The world will be solidly behind and hoping for a quick recovery from this disaster.  There will come a time when there will be educational reflection on the events.  There will be classrooms where teachers and resources were right on top of this as a teaching opportunity.  There will be other classrooms where access to these resources were blocked and so another opportunity is lost.  There will be incredible opportunities to turn this into lessons about media literacy and global citizenship and awareness.

If you’re an educator reading this, how did you handle it?  How will you handle the next steps as Japan recovers?

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Doug Never Says Anything


and with this utility, you can get to the point quicker!

The web resource Summarity is “Software that Summarizes”.  The premise is pretty simple.  Select some text, paste it to Summarity and let it do its thing.

Its thing is to analyse your content and summarize it to save you reading the entire content.  So, I decided to put it to the test.  I went back to my blog post about my first look at the Apple iOS 4.2, copied all of the text, pasted it into the entry box and asked Summarity to summarize it for me.  The result?

That’s kind of cool.  Plus, once you do get a summary, you can adjust the shrinkage factor to give more verbose or shorter results.  Ever looking for the educational angle, I turn to literacy and one of the important concepts is having students learn to summarize a piece of reading.  Using Summarity might well be an engaging hook to compare a computer generated summary with one that’s done manually.

But, there’s another component to this resource that I find even more helpful.  It’s called Skim Mode.  With Skim Mode, it’s like a computer generated highlighter where the Summarity highlights by making the phrases that it deems important become bold.

This feature, I find really interesting.  Just like the process of reading text and identifying the salient points, you can focus on the highlights, but also still read about it to put the reading in context.

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog and want me to get to the point — just summarize my entry and get to it!

Learning with the folks from Waterloo


Last Friday, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to do some learning with 75 Waterloo Region teachers at a presentation led by David Warlick.


David, checking out the setup

The message was a powerful one.  His presentation “Redefining Literacy” is one that makes you rethink most everything about education and his examples of how to use the tools of the web as a new literacy put things very nicely in context.


Ron, with his ever present camera

The session was hosted by the ITS Department of the WRDSB and is part of a continuing effort to keep pushing the envelope.  In addition to the great PD with David, it was announced that a new server running WordPress software was recently launched to allow teachers and students to blog in house as opposed to using other resources.

I live blogged David’s presentation using Coveritlive.  My observations appear below.

David Warlick in Kitchener (0pens in a new window)

It was a great day to learn and a good group to learn with. My thanks to Ron, Harry, and Mark for including me.

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