This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First

OSSTF

Some OSSTF members will be participating in a one day strike today.•

• Keewatin-Patricia District School Board
• District School Board Ontario North East
• Moose Factory Island District Area School Board
• James Bay Lowlands Secondary School Board
• Rainbow District School Board
• Bluewater District School Board
• Upper Grand District School Board
• Wellington Catholic District School Board
• Durham District School Board
• Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
• Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board
• Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
• Upper Canada District School Board
• Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Grandes Rivières
• Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien
• Provincial Schools Authority

As well as members from Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario, and Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario.

Details here.


The predicted storm did manage to hit the province yesterday with many school districts cancelling bus transportation. It’s always a controversial move. I hope that everyone was safe.

Check out some of the great blogging efforts from Ontario Edubloggers.


The Best 75 Minutes of My Day.

Ramona Meharg starts with a simple statement.

Music is magic

Then, off she goes to describe how her guitar brings a unique environment to her Special Education Classroom.

The students get a choice from over 200 songs that she has on her playlist. That’s impressive. In the post, she describes their interactions with her, the music, and other classmates.

It doesn’t stop there. Like any good teacher, she can completely describes what she does and, most importantly, how it addresses curriculum expectations and elements of student IEPs.

Play this video! I bet you can’t sit still or, if you know the words and the tune, feel free to listen and enjoy while you read the rest of the post.


I Wish I Knew: How Does My Child Learn To Read?

Posted to the voicEd Radio blog, Tina Berman shares her first attempt at blogging (that I know of), inspired by a voicEd Radio podcast.

For the longest of times, I didn’t really put much thought into this. I was teaching Computer Science at the secondary school level which, by itself, appeals to a certain element of the school population which do know how to read.

Even as a child, I never thought about it. My parents read to us and weekly we would go to the town library to get a couple of books. We just read.

It was only later, as a member of the Program Department working with my superintendent and various elementary school literacy consultants that I dug deeply into the “how” rather than just the assumption that all children can read. So much research has been done, and Tina touches on some pretty important concepts in this post.

She also includes a nice collection of supporting references.


From Failing to #DisruptTexts

As I typically do, I make myself notes on the blog posts that I read for use on the radio show and in this post. The first thing that I wrote when I read this post from Melanie White was:

Might be the most important thing you read today

Maybe it’s what I consider my analytic mind, but her pie graphs really solidified her message for me.

I guess, growing up, the choice of reading and studying in the classroom really didn’t make me think. We just assumed that the teacher was instructed to use that one novel or it was one that he/she liked or had notes for. As long as we could buy the Coles Notes version of the book, we were good and didn’t have to actually do all the reading. One of the few books that I remember was The Great Gatsby. Maybe not for the story, but for the fact that we had a field trip to London to watch the movie.

It was a real yawner. And, it was far beyond us. We didn’t have an East Egg or a West Egg but we did have an East Street.

Back to Melanie’s post. She did an analysis of her book room and her results weren’t unexpected. Lots of stories written by white men. Does her collection go back in time to the days when I was in high school? Unless you haven’t been paying attention for the past twenty-thirty years, today we have a different society and a different sensibility.

Should our collection of literature change? Melanie sure thinks so. Read her post. Also, this story from the Ottawa Citizen.


T is for Teaching & Time

If nothing else, Lynn Thomas’ post about time should have you nodding your head. Embedded in it is an infographic from BusyTeacher.org that highlights so many of the things that teachers have been trying to impress on the current government about the profession.

I think that every teacher knows that, if they didn’t force themselves to sleep, there are times when the job could consume exactly 24 hours of your day.

Fortunately, we live in a time when we recognize the importance of personal well-being. How many times do we see the word “balance” promoted as a teacher one-word for the year? And, I think that we all know, that won’t be reached. For teachers, the job is just too darned important. Those that see the profession as a filler between university and retirement are usually out of the profession in their first couple of years.

There are way less stressful jobs to do. And, of fairness, more stressful ones as well.

The job is always evolving too. Every time someone who isn’t in the classroom comes up with a new research or theory and administration thinks it’s a good idea, you need to adjust. Flexibility – I think that needs to be added to that list as well.


Reflection from an E-Learning Teacher

I would have to think that common sense would dictate that those who would be successful in an eLearning course would be those that need a credit to get into university. Probably their course interest was one where an individual school didn’t have enough students to offer a face-to-face class as well.

The observations from Dave Lanovaz is interesting. He taught the Grade 12 Data Management university level course. That isn’t a course that appeals to everyone so having it available online seems like a nice alternative for those that don’t have it offered at their school.

His own data manages to make me think.

The course started with 32 students enrolled and ended up with 15 students who were successful in gaining the credit. Read his post for greater details about the enrolment throughout the course. We know there are always drops and adds.

It would be easy to blame the students and move on. But, Dave is looking inwardly as any good teacher does to see what he could do better and hopefully get better results. In particular, he touches on elements that need attention to in an online course.

  • Independence
  • Relationships
  • Community

I wish him good luck in this endeavour trying to make this course better for all.

But, go back to the original premise and think about the proposed eLearning courses for all requirement. With this success rate with university bound students, what does that predict for others?


OLA Super Conference – My First Time #TLchat #OLASC

Laura Wheeler recently received a certification as a teacher-librarian specialist so congratulations for that.

What do you do as you learn the profession? – go to the OLA SuperConference.

And she did! This is an interesting post where she shares her thoughts about the conference, Toronto, and downtown walkability, noise and smoke.

It sounded like a lonely experience – she only knew 2 people there. Come on Teacher-Librarian Personal Learning Network. Reach out and get her connected!

She managed to sketchnote many of the sessions that she attended and that makes this kind of a slow read if you’re like me and like to work your way through the notes. Here’s one…

It’s time well spent.


My “Gradeless” Bookshelf

The concept of going “gradeless” is a hot topic in some areas these days. Of course, it will require a systematic change in educational philosophy. Pick your system.

Terry Whitmell writes this post to:

I’ve been hearing many requests for my list of books that inspired my research.  Here are some of the books I’ve been sharing with my teaching colleagues, to support them in their shift in assessment

It’s an interesting collection. I’ve read the work of some of the authors and there were some new ones for me.

If you’re in a position of supporting professional reading in your system, you might find some of these books as interesting acquisitions for your professional libraries.


Another Friday, and it’s another interesting collection of writing from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take the time to read these posts and maybe drop off a comment or two.

You can hear the Wednesday voicEd Radio podcast here.

Then, follow these people on Twitter for even more.

  • Ramona Meharg – @RamonaMeharg
  • Tina Bergman – @blyschuk
  • Melanie White – @White Room Radio
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Dave Lanovaz – @DaveLanovaz
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell

This post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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.

Free Sound Clips


If you’re a digital storyteller or podcaster, you know the value of having sound clips in the middle of your creation.

They can work as a lead in, a seque between moments, a concluding bit, or just something to spice it up in the middle.  Depending upon the program that you use, it may come with a good library of clips, a minimal selection of clips, or no clips at all.  You’ll also want to check the copyright of any sound clips that you choose to use.

Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to model for students.

My preference has always been to create your own but that’s not always possible or feasible.  So, where to turn?

The internet, of course.   But keep in mind the need to respect the copyright of the creators.

One site that is very friendly is SoundBible.

Culled from public domain and creative commons, look to this as a nice collection of sound media for your productions.

Playing Pool (.mp3, public domain)

Armed with these new resources, your podcasts will never be the same again.  Sounds are available in .wav and .mp3 format.  Make sure you properly attribute the resources licensed under Creative Commons.

 

Learn to Play Guitar


Perhaps your New Years’ resolution is to learn how to play the guitar.  That’s an admirable goal.  Here’s how to do it online.

Getinstinct is your online tutor.

Register to create an account and you’re ready to start learning.

The learning is interestingly interactive.  You can play with your own guitar or the onscreen virtual guitar.

When you’re playing with your own, the program uses your built-in microphone to listen to what you’re playing.

As you work your way through the tutorials, they’re presented in small learnable chunks.  Feedback is immediate and you really are encouraged to work your way through things.  At the time of this writing, I had worked my way up to the Mexican Hat Dance.

So, if learning to play guitar or just to meddle with some music, give Instinct a shot.

Resources like this are really dedicated to the life long learner in all of us.  You’re not along in your learning.  Check out the scoreboard to see how you stack up against all the other learners.

 

When doing the right thing bites you


It was announced this week that Yahoo! will be shutting down its DRM servers on September 30.

What does this mean?  (I sound like Dick the Bruiser (George Baier version)…)

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and may represent one of many schema designed to protect against piracy of materials.  In this case, it is some music from parts of the Yahoo! Music Store.  In a nutshell, DRM protected music checks a signature against a DRM server to make sure that you have the legal rights to play the music.  On the surface, it sounds like the the right thing to do and people who have purchased DRM protected music just assume that there will be no issues.

As long as you continue to play the music on the original configuration that it was originally purchased and installed on, there should be no problem.  But, what if you reinstall the operating system or upgrade to a new computer?  When you migrate to the new configuration, your music needs to be re-validated.

Herein lies the problem.  If the server isn’t there to do this, you’re left with music that you can’t play.

Now, there are ways to circumvent DRM and the Yahoo! website has an FAQ page that suggests some ways to preserve the music including the details about the movement of Yahoo! accounts to Rhapsody.  There are also rumours that Yahoo! will be looking at ways to compensate those who purchased the music.  No details yet though.  This is all fine and dandy, but should it be necessary?  After all, people bought the original music in good faith.  Perhaps “bought” is just an assumption.

Personally, I’ve always felt that DRM was the price that we pay for the ability to download music from music stores at a reasonable price.  I’m happy to pay the price; talented artists deserve to be compensated for their talents.  Without these talents, we don’t have the enjoyment from their skills and abilities.

Microsoft made a similar announcement earlier but ended up backing away from it.  Will Yahoo! do the same?  I’m not sure that it will happen.  It sounds like Yahoo! has a more comprehensive plan.

This announcement should give every music loving person pause to think.  Yes, we all know that we should be doing backups all the time, but do we?  Personally, I figure that my music player is a perfect backup for my music.  But is it truly?

I like the concept of the online music store – it lets me only purchase the tracks that I really want from an album.  However, buying the original CD-ROM instead of going online does provide you a natural backup source where tracks can be restored.  It just seems like such a big step backward.

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