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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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday before the long weekend. I hope that you can check out these posts over the weekend. I think you’ll find them very inspirational. I know that I did.


Virtual Reality in the Math Class: Moving from Abstract to Concrete

I’ve been playing around with Virtual Reality off and on ever since I heard of the concept. Most of the applications are pretty predictable – you know – explore a world that may or may not exist in real life because you can. You might experience something unique and different.

One thing that I’ve tried every now and again with limited success is to create my own virtual reality environment. I think that would be the ultimate use of technology and the concept. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is something that I need to grow in to and to have better equipment.

But, back to this post from Deborah McCallum. Her posts are always inspirational and have me thinking about things I might not have ordinarily thought of.

She was inspired by a post from Kyle Pearce about moving from the concrete to the abstract in mathematics. She talks about the opposite – going in the other direction – from abstract to concrete. I like her thinking and it enhances the original thoughts from Kyle’s post.

I think that this may be a new frontier for exploration. In Kyle’s original post, he uses a doughnut example. I think I’d really enjoy Deborah taking on the opposite direction and perhaps show how a concrete approach could turn into consolidation. And, what sort of gear would be required.

Is there room for both Kyle and Deborah’s thinking? I think so.


Momentum and the positive side of constraints

As Beate Planche correctly notes, education is full of constraints – resources, time, and priorities. It doesn’t take too much thinking before you can identify them.

I find time to be interesting. In a perfect world, it should meld to be just the required length. The reality is far from it. If you have a 75 minute class, darn it, everyone is going to be there for 75 minutes. Not a minute more; not a minute less. It doesn’t matter if you don’t need that time, you’ve got to be there anyway. The opposite to that would be the concept of an EdCamp where you can use your feet to move to a different topic if you’ve got the current one mastered. Yet, there’s the classroom where the concept of mastery is the same length for everyone!

Like the canvas analogy she uses at the conclusion, it’s not the canvas that should be of concern; it’s a constraint, it’s what you do with it that matters. Complainers would complain about the size of the canvas and it’s limits; the innovative would think about how to make the best of what’s available.

When you get your head around the reality that whatever constraints you face are real and you look at ways to work within them, momentum becomes possible.


Another Day another EdTech conference! #ECOOCamp 2019

ECOOCamp Owen Sound

So, I found a pair of blog posts from two of the people that helped make the #ECOOcamp a success – one from Jen Giffen and the other from Ramona Meharg.

They had different types of contributions – Jen was one of the keynote speakers and Ramona was a workshop presenter (x4).

Participants had the opportunity to learn from either or both of them.

I thought about the difference between their contributions. Jen would have had to have a message prepared that would have reached out and touched everyone in her keynote address. They might have been secondary school or elementary school educator as their background or an administrator. The message would have to be crafted to appeal to everyone if she’s going to be successful.

Ramona, on the other hand, would have had smaller, more focused sessions. People would have been with her because they were interested in the particular topic that she was addressing. And, they could vote with their feet if they were ready to move on.

A tale of two approaches certainly and both would be necessary for a successful day for participants. A common thread though, they both left having learned enough to comment on a presentation from Leslie Boerkamp and Nicole Batte. The leaders become the learners. Does it get much better than that?

I created a Wakelet of the Twitter conversation about the #ECOOcamp so that you can read what people were saying about the day! https://wke.lt/w/s/P5Md2L


99 Needs and They’re All Student Related

Those that question the passion behind teaching need to read this post from Karaline Vlahopoulos.

First year teaching = VERY overwhelmed. Love listening to your discussions. Awesome words from two awesome people.— Karaline Vlahopoulos (@KaralineVla) May 15, 2019

Despite this level of “overwhelmedness” (is that even a word?), Karaline’s post overflows with passion.

She describes the thrill that she gets when students return to class on Mondays, excited to share their weekend…

She wants to make the kindergarten experience memorable…

She worries about students who have left her…

Don’t ever question her passion.


My ‘Why?’ …

Laura Elliott gives us a look inside the teaching profession that those on the outside might never realize. I don’t think I even thought about this until I landed my first job and had my own classes.

I think I probably entered the profession figuring that the toughest thing in a teenager’s school day was learning the content that I was teaching.

Laura opens our eyes to much more than that. Every teacher knows this – you’re with those students as they’re learning about themselves, about others, the interpersonal relationships, and so much more.

Laura’s focus in this post is about understanding their body. She speaks from experience having this directed her way from a gymnastics coach.

I will never forget my coach yelling into the change room during a snack break that he could “hear me getting fatter.” Wtf!?

If you’re a teacher, you need to read this to affirm that those things that you’re doing beyond your subject are so important. Students may not show up in your class because of this, but they can leave with so much more.

You might even shed a tear.


Water Walking

This post from Peter Cameron could easily pass as a tourist post for his beautiful area of the province.

Living in Thunder Bay, at the head of Lake Superior, provides ample opportunity to experience water at its finest. Cascading over large slabs of granite, tumbling over waterfalls, trickling through a moss lined creek or lapping at a sandy shore, water does something for my soul.

Peter takes this background and explains how it has impacted his teaching and his approach to the Junior Water Walker philosophy. I was going to use the word “project” but his approach indeed goes further than that – it truly is a philosophy that has had a big impact on his teaching.

Visit his blog, read his words, and use the images of his students to understand the complete package.


Every time I write this Friday post, I marvel at the depth and dedication to the teaching profession that come through in the thoughts featured. This week is no different. Please take a moment and enjoy the blog posts from these educators.

And, follow them on Twitter.

This post originated at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s time for my weekly roundup and sharing of some of the reading I did this past week from great Ontario Edubloggers.


F is for Frankenstein, Focus & Future Ready

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.


Maker. Space. Inquiry. Place. What might be the connection?

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.

It makes so much sense.


Moccasin Flowers: A Work-in-Progress

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.


We teach students not just content

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?


A Positive Climate For A Culture Of Growth

How could you not like a blog post that has a Superman reference?

Frustration is the kryptonite to healthy culture

So, just get rid of the frustration and things are good, right?

Joel McLean argues that you need to go further.

Much has been written and discussed about creating a culture of growth. If that was all that was done here, it wouldn’t be all that exciting.

Joel goes further, though, and asks how to maintain things. That’s a whole different animal.

And, if you work your way through the list, you can see that it’s pretty much a full time job. That’s a good thing. That’s why we have leaders who do good things.

I’ll bet that it’s a piece of cake to visualize people in leadership that don’t do these things. It’s also to see just how little they lead and have the respect of those who they’re paid to lead.


When a Drawing is Not Just a Drawing

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.


TTalks for Impact 2019

Noa Daniel is always good for a new, inspirational approach to things. In this case, she describes the process of a TTalk.

There’s an amalgamation of TED-like talks and Genius hour strategies as students reached out in solution for real-world problems.

In her approach, she sees a big list of 21st Century skills.

  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • information literacy
  • media literacy
  • technology literacy
  • organization
  • self-regulation
  • responsibility 
  • initiative 

Her students did buy in and blogging was an integral way of getting their thoughts organized.

Student voice is highlighted with their reflections at the conclusion. Could you use such an approach?


Please take the time to click through and enjoy these posts in their entirety. I think you’ll enjoy them immensely.

And, make sure that you’re following these folks on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

A Scratch curriculum


I found this particularly interesting. Yes, there are all kinds of Scratch resources available if you take the time and effort to find them.

Unfortunately, so many of them are single activities that have been done so many times or they’re a cutesy little activity that has no beginning, middle, or end. They’re neat activities in themselves.

If you’re looking for a curriculum, a continuity, then these resources from the Canon Lab at the University of Chicago may be just what you’re looking for.

Scratch Act 1


Scratch Act 1 is an introductory Scratch curriculum consisting of 4 modules, and about 10 hours of instruction. Module content is from SFUSD’s Green Workbook.

Action Fractions


Action Fractions is an integrated mathematics – computational thinking curriculum, designed using Everyday Mathematics. This course focuses on 3rd and 4th grade fractions instruction, providing 10–12 hours of instruction per year to augment any existing mathematics curriculum.

Scratch Encore

Scratch Encore is an intermediate Scratch curriculum organized into 14 modules, of 2-3 lessons each, to be completed across multiple school years.

Access to the resources requires a registration and a commitment to not sharing the resources further and respecting Creative Commons licensing.

A twist on a calculator


OK, a bit of a confession here.  It might be one of those cases where my background and nostalgia is influencing my opinion of this newly discovered (at least by me) application.

The background?  In high school, I took a course on Business Machines.  Later on, as a teacher, I also had the opportunity to teach it.  Essentially, it was how to use a desktop calculator.  Huh?  Follow the link.

The big deal was that the calculator printed on paper and some of the machines also had a seven segment LED display.

These days, unless you work in a bank or some sort of institution where someone audits your calculations, you might not even run across this device.  In my day, brand names like Burroughs and Olivetti were big in the field.  Now, perhaps you’d see this created by Canon or Casio or …

Anyway, the whole concept got me into full appreciation for calculators and the features that they add other than add, subtract, multiply or divide.  University got me completely convinced that the RPN calculator is the only way to go.

But still, I’m intrigued by new features and that’s what’s got my interested in Calculator Touch – with Handwriting Recognition.

These days, we don’t wait until we get to a spot where there’s a desktop calculator awaiting our use.  We either do the mathematics mentally or we pull out our phone and use the calculator installed on it.

The challenge at times is finding those little keys.  It’s even more of a challenge when you’re walking.  Voice recognition isn’t 100% yet but how about handwriting on your screen?

It’s kind of a neat concept.  And the pulldown history is kind of like those old paper printers!

Have you tried it or something like this?

A World of Mathematics


That’s the claim of Mathigon.  If you love mathematics (and who doesn’t), be prepared to spend all kinds of time at this web resource.

I actually stumbled into the World of Mathematics by accident but, wow, I’m so glad that I did.  I wa actually looking for some origami resources and fell into a link from the Mathigon website titled http://www.mathigon.org/origami/.  Like what so often happens, when I find a wonderful resource like this…

I’ll back off to the root of the website and poke around.

According to the About page, the site was designed by Philipp Legner and you only have to spend a few moments on the site to realize the passion for mathematics, particularly for the visual, that drives the design.  You’ll be exploring for hours.

Major categories of:

  • Symmetry and Space
  • Numbers and Patterns
  • Combinatorics and Logic
  • Probability and Games
  • Motion and Matter

open the doors for further exploration.

Who doesn’t like a good fractal?  Lots of gorgeous pictures when you explore.

And what would a good mathematics resource be without a discussion of the irrational pi?  My memory recalls 3.1415926 accurate to seven decimal places but that pales in comparison to the first 50 000 digits.

Mathigon has presence on all the major social networks including an extension for Google Chrome, if you’re so inclined.

Some of the resources are still under development.  Mathematics lovers, teachers, and students will definitely want to explore and keep reference to this site.  The site definitely digs into the topics deeply but I think that you’ll find a little something for everyone.

 

Fantastic Mathematics Resource


So, when Donna Fry gives an order, I do it!

The OAME (Ontario Association for Mathematics Education) has assembled a fabulous collection of mathematics resources that they’re calling mathies.ca.  It’s a really handy collection or games, tools, activities, and support pages for students and parents.

With all that’s assembled here, this should be the one stop resource for Ontario students and parents looking to bring mathematics into the home learning space.  If you’ve been a user of the CLIPS resources, you’ll recognize quite a few of the activities.  Heck, there may even be a few that you don’t recognize.  As a former OSAPAC Committee member, it was terrific to see links to The Geometer’s Sketchpad and Gizmos.  Some of these resources aren’t immediately usable as they’ll require a login / password to access since they are Ministry of Education licensed but instructions about how to get access to the codes are provided.

Some of the links let you download the software to work with locally.  Others run directly from the web.

As a mathematics lover, it’s just fun to play around with many of the activities.  So many of them are just fun to play with.

I’m always a sucker for a good calculator and I just had to check them out.  The computer science mentality naturally draws me to activities like taking the square root of a negative number or trying to divide by zero.  Just fun stuff that were standard for testing things…  I really like the ability to have quick access to a graphing calculator.  You do have to have Flash installed on your computer for some of the activities.  Hopefully, plans to develop for devices that don’t support Flash are under way.

This is an incredible collection of mathematics resources and, as Donna notes, needs to be shared widely.  Please take the time to do so.