This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to the last TWIOE in June and the school year.  As always, there is some inspirational content written by Ontario Educators.  Perhaps you’ll be inspired to start or re-start your own blog this summer if you’re not already a regular writer?


Rethinking End of Year Countdowns

File this post from Laura Bottrell on the Heart and Art Blog under “maybe I’ve been doing things wrong all this time”.

For many, it’s been a month (or more) of counting down until today.  I even remember a colleague who shared the countdown on his blackboard for all to see.

Laura reminds us that this countdown may not necessarily be exciting for everyone in the class.

I always thought that celebrating the end of the year was just adding to the fun and excitement of summer. I’ve always had a fun countdown for my class. Lately, I’ve been wondering if this is just adding stress on some of my students. It really hit me last week when I announced that we only had ten school days left and there were at least five children in my class that crumbled to tears.

Her suggestion turns the table and has you thinking about treating things differently.  A little late for this year perhaps but … it’s nice to have a reminder that things aren’t always what they seem.


Why do you want kids to code?

With apologies to Jim Cash, I read the title to this post a little too quickly.  Instead of “Why”, I read it as “What” and thought that it might be about some new things to code!

However, using the word “Why” changes everything.  Jim summarizes his thoughts in this graphic he created.

It generated some interesting comments when Jim announced the post on Facebook.

I understand his message but I also wonder if I’m on the same page with him because of having a background in programming.  As Jim correctly notes, there’s a certain bandwagon effect about coding that has people jumping on because it’s felt that it’s important or someone is keynoting about the cool things that kids are doing.

Coding goes well beyond the mechanics of getting the job done.  (Blue side) Until you’re looking at the big picture, you’re not doing it justice.  (Green side)

It would be interesting to find out how many people get pressured to “do coding” because it’s the latest thing and yet they may be doing it without a suitable background in coding.


Go Magic! Let’s do this! 🙂

And the winner in the “Who gets David Carruthers added to their staff” raffle is …

<drum roll>

Bonaventure Meadows.

It looks easy enough to get to.  (at least by driving)

Getting to the actual school placed David in a series of job interviews and he shares his reflections about that process in the post.  I can understand the need for standardized questions for all applicants for fairness.

But, the school really needs to be prepared to take advantage of the skills that David has refined over his time as a learning coordinator.

Maybe instead of “Go Magic!”, should read “Get ready, Magic”.

And, then there’s the whole Plugged-in Portable thing?  I guess we’ll find out in the future.


Reader’s Theatre = Experiential Learning

I read this post from Stepan Pruchnicky a few times and I absolutely understood his message.

In Language, it’s important to read and understand different texts.  The concept of reading a script was a new spin on it.  But, as Stepan digs into it, it has to potential to go very deep, rich in understanding and empathy for characters to be played in the script.

It was during the radio version of This Week in Ontario Edublogs and Stephen Hurley’s comments about the connections to David Booth and Stephen’s own experience that really put me over the top with the concept.

I’d suggest putting Stepan’s post on your list for summer reading.  This is an idea that could really generate mileage for you.  Perhaps a future post would recommend suitable scripts?


Context is Key

Of course it is, Ruthie Sloan.

But, I certainly haven’t thought about it as deeply as you explore in this post.

You take the notion of context and apply it to…

  • wardrobe
  • digital expression
  • body language
  • how we communicate

The post is a great discussion about each of these.

It’s also a reminder of so many things that may just pass us by as life goes on.  These are things that we do every day.  It goes beyond what and moves into how, when, and who.

I loved the collection of images that she includes at the bottom.


“I Don’t Have Time For That”

Joel McLean reminds us that this comes up too often when people are wondering about taking charge of their own professional learning.  I suggest that it’s an easy answer and often given to avoid things.

I also am reminded about my Covey training.  The first rule – schedule the important things first.  Then, let all of the other stuff fill your time for you.  Goodness know that, in education, there’s no danger of that not happening.

I remember also returning from my training and explaining the approach to my supervisor.  We still meet for coffee every now and again and he notes how this changed his professional life.  (Not my comment but after my experience, he went and took the course himself.)

There was only one caveat to my own implementation – I was never allowed to allow my priorities to supersede his priorities for me!  I shouldn’t have encouraged him to take the course.

Maybe Joel has some advice for how to handle that!


Observations & Conversations : Part 1 of many?

The structure of the Interstitial App, or, Observations & Conversations – Part 2

From Cal Armstrong, a pair or posts and maybe more to come.

After my session at the OAME Conference (link to Presentation), a few folks asked me how I had put this together, so I’m going to give a brief run-down here.

It sounds like the audience was really impressed with Cal’s use of Microsoft Powerapps.

I know that I was; I’d heard about it but really hadn’t done anything with it.  I guess that you need to have a reason and Cal used his mathematics audience as the target for his presentation.

If you’re curious, read both posts.  If you’re interested in creating your own, pay attention to the second post.  Here, Cal takes you through his process step by step.


And there’s your last day of school inspiration.

Make sure you’re following these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • @L_Bottrell
  • @cashjim
  • @dcarruthersedu
  • @stepanpruch
  • @Roosloan
  • @jprofNB
  • @sig225

This post was created and posted to:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, that was a quick week.  Best day had to be yesterday, at least in the morning.

For your next week inspiration, check out some of these great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Back in the day was better (because now is often unbearable)

Will Gourley’s post on the Heart and Art Blog made me smile as he wrote about the challenges that faced teenagers 40 years ago.  It was like a checklist of my teenage years except that I didn’t own headphones at the time.  But, I could crank up the radio…

Of course, we didn’t have social media back then.  Heck, we didn’t even have FM radio but who needed it when there was the Big 8 CKLW?

Will relates that part of his teaching load this year includes working with students in his role of Guidance Counsellor and shares that the same problems exist today.  Perhaps they’re even amplified.  We do have programs and supports in place but are they enough?

I like the disjoint that he describes between the education system and the medical system.  He’s right.  There’s enough disconnect between your own personal kids 1-2-3-4?  but consider all the students in your charge.  How can you provide the support that they so often need?

Will pleads

Our students need help.

Is anyone listening?


Counting

Given that it was March Break, Lisa Corbett was good enough to join This Week in Ontario Edublogs on Wednesday morning and I got a chance on the air to ask a question that has been bugging me and that was – who was the audience for her posts?

  • other teachers?
  • herself?
  • her parents?

Given that she has a 2/3 split, the audience could hardly be her students.  Listen to the show for her answer.

On the show, she shares what a gold mine she found at a yard sale!  It looks like castoffs from a Mardi Gras somewhere.

I found it interesting to read her take on a traditional French game in the classroom as she incorporates this jewelry into skip counting and other things.  Such good mathematics instruction and I had to smile at how she and her class was aware of modulo although not necessarily explicitly stated.

Only teachers can repurpose things found at yard sales for a class of students!


“You aren’t what I was expecting…”

If people were exactly what we thought they were when we first meet them, it’s hardly worth the effort.  There’s something special about meeting someone for the first time, particularly when you may have known their digital self for a long time.  In real life, they may be something different.

That was the situation Debbie Donsky found herself in and she makes the claim that the above was said to her by a host of a professional learning session that Debbie was to keynote.  I would hope that the person who said it intended it as a compliment.  On the other hand, it could lead Debbie to want to know the answer to “What were you actually expecting?”  The “looked at me — up and down –” was particularly disturbing.

In her mind, Debbie interpreted the situation to mean “you don’t look like a principal”.  So, she did what any 21st Century learner would do – she Googled the concept.  What does Google think a principal should look like?  Her screen capture is included in the post.  This was equally as disturbing because it looks like she should shave and wear a coat and tie.

I tested her hypotheses on a couple of other search engine and got a little more diverse results.  A little anyway.

Fortunately, Debbie has a good support team around here and it was great to see Ron St. Louis’ name pop up.  I hadn’t heard about him for a long time.  There is a positive message about taking on a new role to be learned from this post and it has nothing to do with clothing.


How Do We Use Our Powerful Words For Good?

TL;DR – use them to enhance the conversation and not close it off.

So, self-proclaimed “Educational Troublemaker” Aviva Dunsiger tells of a story where she was challenged by a colleague over a blog post.  It seems that this person saw herself, and not in a flattering way, in one of Aviva’s blog post.

Guess what?

All bloggers need a frame of reference when they create a post.  It may be themselves; it might be their environment; or often, an amalgam of various people and practices.

My suggestion is that anyone who finds offence may have very thin skin or may be reading more into things than are necessary or just personalizing it too much.  I think I know Aviva enough to know that she wouldn’t name names and then attack the person.  She would be challenging what she sees in action and then questioning it … in purple.

She correctly identifies the best approach to take if you can’t ignore it.  Engage in a conversation; perhaps there’s a misunderstanding or there’s an opportunity to learn and self correct.


Too Random, Or Not Random Enough: Student Misunderstandings About Probability In Coin Flipping

I love a good post that gets me thinking mathematically and that’s what this one from Matthew Oldridge did for me.  I get excited when others get excited about mathematics.

In the post, he talks about dice rolling, coins flipping, and spinners spinning.

All of them are excellent ways to create data collections, small and large, at no cost in the classroom.  Matthew encourages a deeper looking and includes a lesson about coin flipping.

Lots of concepts are there in living colour.  It could also lead to a discussion of dependent and independent events as well as sample size.  It also took me back to some really fun events in computer science talking about pseudo-random numbers generated by computer and how to use them to encode messages.  Of course, a real life example is a look towards encryption that we rely on every day.

All this was generated from a simple flip of a coin.  There’s some fascinating reading about how to understand the 50/50 assertion.  I love this stuff.


Writer’s Self-Regulation Project

One of the wins from having Lisa Corbett as co-host for the voicEd Radio show was that I found out about her “other blog”.

It’s a team effort created as part of a TLLP Project.  If there is any doubt about the value of the TLLP, it should dispelled after working your way through this very public sharing of learning.

and it goes back much, much further.  I have lots of reading to do to catch up.


Twitter – To Reply or Reply All?

A quick lesson to Twitter users appears in this post from Jen Giffen.

Getting a reply to a Twitter message which was obviously intended for one person but going to a group of people can be annoying – particularly when you don’t care or you have a thin skin.  (That’s twice I’ve mentioned thin skin in this post)

Twitter is different from email programs in that there is no specific REPLY or REPLY ALL options…

With a couple of screen captures, Jen shares how you can either be:

  • less annoying
  • the person that stops community building by including everyone in messages 😀

Your take?

At a bare minimum, it’s something that every Twitter user should know.  And, you should know how to do it in Tweetdeck and Hootsuite if that’s your tool of choice.


Please take a few moments to click through and read the original posts.

Then, for more, follow these great bloggers.

This post is part of a regular Friday feature.  Click here for all past issues.

This post was originally posted to:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The dog had an incredibly brisk walk this morning.  (Thursday – you do know that I don’t get up in the middle of the night for these 5am postings, don’t you?)  We had been watching the news from Toronto as per our normal routine and both the host and the weather person referred to Friday as a PA Day for teachers.  That was it.  No clarification of exactly what that means.  I was so disappointed.  If they got that fact wrong, can you actually trust any of the stories that they report?  The actual event of Friday would be so easy to fact check.  In fact, if it was true that the teachers had negotiated a PA Day, it would be a great teacher bashing story – negotiating for the day before a two week vacation?  It’s just a reminder that so many people don’t get it.  They need to read this post “Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science. It’s Harder.”

And, maybe some of the awesome blogs that Ontario Educators write to demonstrate the ongoing work that it takes to get and stay on top of things in Education.
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Friday’s event didn’t pass by Brandon Grasley who took to poetry at:
Brandon
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Let’s lighten up things a bit…
Debbie Axiak shares some of the things that made her laugh this week.
Debbie
How many other professions can do that?
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This post, by Brian Aspinall, reminds me of an activity that I used to do with Grade 11 Computer Science students after they’ve “learned” how to do a sort in their programs, in Grade 12 and at the University pre-service class to reinforce the notion that they might be able to code a sort, but do they really understand how it’s done?  In this case, Brian incorporated Procedural Writing in Language Arts and Computer Science with this activity.  I like the way that he described the activity.  BEFORE you click through and read his post, just write down the steps that you think you need in order to make toast.  Now, read the post!
Brian
BTW, this isn’t the first step.
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Those of us who use technology so regularly know of the power that can be brought to the classroom and for students.  In this post, Mary-Ann Fuduric takes the time to itemize the power in the Assistive Technology realm.  In particular, she talks about
  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Decoding Skills
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Writing Skills

maryann

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’tis the season…

Not necessarily…
Tim
Tim King shares some of his thoughts about the Holiday season reasoned over time.  It serves to remind us that there are many takes to the season.  There’s nothing like trying to keep a lid on the container called Home Room with the school edict that this is just another school day when you’ve lived every morning since September with these kids and you know that, if there are 30 of them, there will be 30 different ways that will experience the break from the school routine.
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Normally, I do like to spread the acknowledgements for my TWIOE post around but had already tagged this post from Brandon Grasley for inclusion.  Then, he posted the Friday post and I felt compelled to include it as well.
brandon2
I was going to make a comment similar to what I did with Tim’s but I’m going to change direction just a big.  I think that it’s just testament to blogging and the power that goes along with it.  As I visited the post this morning, there were a number of readers who had taken the time to “like” it.  While “liking” may not necessarily be the best response to the post, it’s the only one other than leaving a comment that’s available to the reader.  I look at it as a way for folks to acknowledge that someone has bared their inner thoughts and to show that, despite whatever isolation we might feel at moments, we’re all in this together.
And, we sure wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for our social media connections.
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Having broken my own arbitrary rule, I’ll see your Brandon and raise you two Avivas.  Her blog was on fire this week.  There’s some good, thoughtful reading there.
Aviva
Aviva’s exploring ways of incorporating inquiry into her classroom.  This is quite an interesting approach.  Check her blog for details and I’m sure a reflection will be on its way.
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Amy Bowler got tagged in the Sunshine Blog Award meme.  Her Tumblr blog was a new find for me so I was curious to find out more about here.  Here’s what I now know!
Amy
Loblaws is such a classy place to meet a spouse.  I wonder what aisle?  What would the choice have been if she had gone to No Frills instead?
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Last week, I talked about a meme that was running around Ontario and North America.  It’s a fun little activity to get to know other just a little better.  As it typically happens, people end up getting double and triple tagged for these things.  To help avoid the situation, although apparently I didn’t do it completely, I tagged some folks in Europe that I deal with on a regular basis.  In fact, one of them, Marisa Constantinides and I have a number of Words with Friends games on the go at any time and this lovely lady clobbers me all the time.  So, I wanted to know more about her and included her.  She was good enough to play along…
Marisa
Well, I know so much more but I’m still puzzled at her amazing capacity to know words….
Marisa’s blog “TEFL Matters” is located here.
This just in…I also had tagged Vicky Loras in the same meme.  Vicky is an Ontarian taking up residence in Zug, Switzerland now, owning her own school.  Here are her answers to my questions.

Doug’s Questions:

  1. When was the last time you backed up your computer? I think it was in March – unfortunately, it crashed and asked me if I would like to back it up. I wish I had done it earlier, but I managed to save the majority of my files.
  2. If you could speak any language other than English, what would it be? I wish I could speak Turkish and Finnish fluently. They have always been languages that I would love to learn. I started off with Turkish and hope to start Finnish too.
  3. Where would you go for your dream vacation? I would love to go to Corsica, because I have been told a lot and shown lots of photos by a French student of mine.
  4. Have you ever received a parking ticket? No, because I don’t drive! Ha ha!
  5. You’re in control of the thermostat. What’s your ideal room temperature? Really warm, because I get cold easily.
  6. Have you ever taken an online course? I have – it was a 60-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course which I enjoyed immensely, and a Grammar one too.
  7. What was the last educational conference that you attended? It was the IATEFL BESIG (Buisiness English) conference in Prague, in November. I loved the sessions, the conversations that emerged from them – but my only disappointment was that I didn’t manage to see Prague almost at all, as I was there for only two and a half days.
  8. When was the last time you were in a public library? Very recently – it is one f my favourite places to be : )
  9. Have you ever dabbled with Linux? No ; )
  10. What would you consider to be the best photo you’ve ever taken? A sunset over Lake Zug. The colours were astounding and I was really surprised it came out that good, as it was with my phone.
  11. What, and where, is your favourite park? I love the parks in Niagara-on-the-Lake (well, actually the whole place : )

I had to smile when I read her answer to question 4.  Toronto would cure me of driving too.

Vicky’s blog is located here.

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Thanks for dropping by.  This is the last TWIOE post before Christmas so let me wish you the best for the holidays however you celebrate them.  Please click through and read the blogs at the links provided and check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  This week was actually a highly productive one for bloggers so you’ll see and read lots!

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