This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I often wonder.  If there was a week when nobody from the Ontario Edubloggers LiveBinder posts, do I get the day off?  Fortunately, I haven’t had to test that hypothesis yet.

The Learning Games

Sheila Stewart wrote an interesting post about the use of the “real world” when it comes to educational discussions.  I had a few smiles at the use of the term.


First, I thought of my Grade 8 teacher who told us daily that we’d never make it in Collegiate.  Her pronunciation “Kaleeeeeeejit”.  When it came time to sign up for high school, I was actually intimidated against English classes and chose a bunch of maths and businesses instead.  When I took some English, I rather enjoyed it.  The teachers didn’t get into drill and kill and learning all of the weird things of the English language.  I wonder if I hadn’t been intimidated by the words whether things would have turned out differently for me.

But, in mathematics, we had our own expression.  “Reductio ad absurdum” – which we were told meant any idiot could see the end of the solution.  I think that “real world” is often used for the purpose of stopping intellectual debate.  After all, how can you argue with “real world”?

And, it leads nicely into another word that you never, ever challenge – “authentic”

Where is Your Authentic Audience?

So, Scott Kemp used the word “authentic” in the title of a post.  It’s got to be important then!

He challenges himself (and we the readers) about the audience that we blog to or tweet to or read to and does make you think.  I think his questions would be really important if everyone was reading or blogging or tweeting but as he notes, not everyone is.


I like his last question.  In my case, the answer is “me”.  I get a kick from the fact that a bunch of people read my blog or my tweets but, at the end of the day, I’m the audience that benefits from this.  I use it to recognize my own personal learning.  Everything else is gravy.  But, it’s good gravy.  I’d be kidding myself if I relied on you, yes you, to read this blog every day and that’s my reason for writing.  I know that I can count on myself to create this; proofread it; publish it; and then check that it’s made live when it’s supposed to.

Explain Everything iPad Video Apps for the Classroom

This post, by Kyle Pearce, actually goes back a couple of months but it’s a good one and every iPad teacher should take a look at it.  Explain Everything is one of a few applications that let you create a video screencast of what you’re doing on your iPad.  There’s also “Show Me” and my favourite “Screen Chomp”.


They all record the screen and your voice and let you play it back.  I would think that this is a required app for mathematics whether it be face to face or online.  It’s a great product that will let you record your thinking as your thinking it and then play it back.  Sort of an educational rewind.

Book Club Revisited with HT Recorder

Heather Durnin shares a “back to” story from her classroom.  As you read the article, her use of the HT Recorder mirrors what “Explain Everything” does in the mathematics class.  One of the things common to both is to pick up on the nuances of thinking in a particular activity.  Through playback, you hope that the students notice it.


According to Heather, this recorder picks up even the most quiet voices in a discussion.  That sounds like a great tool to bring everyone into the conversation.

Learning Together

There are a couple of things that I brought out in a post of my own this week.

1)  One Tab is an incredible extension for Google Chrome users who end up with a huge number of tabs open over time.  It will collapse them all into a single tab and release some memory to the system.  Both are desirable results.

2)  I shared the link to One Tab and Brandon Grasley picked up on it.  From a distance, the two of us went back and forth testing the extension and sharing our results.  We did it all in the open and more than a few people found out about it as well.  The whole concept of learning and sharing with the world was just so powerful and really confirmed why connections matter.


Digital House of Mirrors

Tim King is wondering just what sort of presentation that he’s going to deliver at #ECOO13.  He mused about Web 1.0 and then moved to Web 2.0 and now Web 3.0 on the horizon?


In my comments to Tim, I wondered about the state of those who have not jumped on the bus so far – can they get on when Web 3.0 rolls around?  (whatever that is)  Tim gave a nice reply putting it into the perspective of the industrial age.  But, I suspect it’s going to come a lot faster.

Please take the time to read the highlighted blogs above and share a comment or two.  The authors will appreciate it.  You can check out the rest of the Ontario Edublogger collection here.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

There was some heavy-duty blog posts from Ontario Educators this week.  They were really thought-provoking and just reaffirmed why it’s so difficult to go it along these days.  Thankfully, we have the abilities to network and troubleshoot among ourselves.  Here’s a sampling of the great reads that I enjoyed.

Important Considerations for Gifted Learners
So, how do you treat the gifted learner in your classroom?  Are they even identified?  Do you have a hunch about what you’d like to do with them?  Do you just give them more of the same or do you use their abilities to push them to even higher levels of thinking.  That was the message in Deborah McCallum’s recent post.

She starts by helping to identify the gifted learner

Once identified, Deborah talks about the sort of activities likely most successful to engage the students.  Everyone has this sort of student – this post may give you some thoughts about moving them to higher order thinking.

Feedback – Helping a Classmate
I think we all like to think that we set environments for this sort of activity.  I know that my wife would jump at any opportunity that uses sticky notes.

It seems like a natural in the art classroom to not only create your own best work but to look at the work of others in a critical fashion.

Colleen Rose described what I’m envisioning as a gallery walk in her classroom.  The description of collages, Powerpoints, and a Prezi shows a nice mix of media with students presumably choosing the best tool for the task.

The blog post quite nicely describes the process.  I really like how she describes that the whole activity was designed to have students look critically at both their own and others’ work.  She really describes how her students own the learning.

Student-Led Conferences
In my mind, there’s no better way to demonstrate that the students own their learning than via a student-lead conference.

Those of us who are parents have done this thousands of times.

“What did you do in school today?”


I often joked with my kids that I was going to apply for a rebate and get my education tax dollars back if “nuthin'” happened.

But, being a parent at a conference led by your child is an experience.  You work it.  From the moment you enter the school, the student leads the way, points out artifacts, directs you to her/his classroom, points out his/her desk, and then proceeds to lead you through a demonstration of what they did, talk about what they can do and then what they’re going to do.

Rick McCleary describes the process perfectly.  What a great experience for students and their parents.  “Nuthin'” should never be an answer ever again!

The Quest for Self-Selection
So, what’s wrong with a library with 44 computers and 7 netbook computers?

Alanna King describes her reality so well.  I can just picture the room.  At one time when the desire was to have a “cross-curricular computer lab”, this may well have been utopia.  Thankfully, forward thinkers like Alanna and her husband Tim are questioning continuing the status quo.

If a library caters to an entire school population, it’s just silly to think that one solution fits everyone.  To drive home the point, she shares this video.

Beyond the humour, replace Sheldon with a good teacher-librarian.  We’ve traditionally looked to them to provide the best books, customizing the reading experience by student interest, abilities, levels, etc.  Why shouldn’t they also customize the approach to technology in today’s Learning Commons?

Stop the Excuses, Your Students Could Be Blogging
It seems bizarre that, with all the demonstrated success, that a title like this even needs to be used.  Shouldn’t it be “Your Students Could Be Blogging More” or “Students Who Blog Write More and Think Deeper” or …

Kristen Wideen shares a wonderful story about success in her classroom.  I think this pretty much sums it up.

I just can’t imagine the Christmas feeling coming from a brand new pencil writing a piece to be read by a single person, the teacher, marked and returned.

If there are any principals reading this post and looking to inspire those wondering if blogging is worth it, send them a link to this blog post.

I really hope that you take the time to read the full posts above.  Great thoughts, folks.  Then, head over to the Ontario Edubloggers Livebinder and read all the rest of the great materials from Ontario Edubloggers.  If you are in Ontario and blogging, please fill out the form there and I’ll add you to the Livebinder.  If you want, I’ll create your own spiffy Ontario Edublogger badge.