Expanding the Network

Remember the great experience of #ECOO12?  So many great Ontario Educators all descending upon one location in Richmond Hill.  So many people all in the same place enjoying the presentations, keynotes, and panel discussions.  Those who were unable to make the trip could live it vicariously by following the hashtag.

In addition to the formal events, there was the powerful connections made among the attendees in the hallways, at lunch, in the exhibit hall, and during the fabulous social events.  You’d like to think that these connections make for powerful opportunities that last beyond the event.  That’s always the hope of conference organizers.

In addition to the renewed friendships, there’s the new ones formed on the spot.

Doug, meet Sandy.  Sandy, Doug.

How do you maintain the strength of the connections and expand people’s networks after the event?

I’ve written before about my thoughts of “Why #FollowFriday is so important“.

For a while now, I’ve gone through the exercise of identifying Ontario Educators who are actively tweeting and recognizing their efforts on Friday mornings with my own “FollowFriday” postings.  It’s not that they’re the only important contributors but there’s something special about making those Ontario connections.

Twitter easily facilitates global discussions.  But the Ontario Curriculum and current issues are the ties that bind we Ontarians and are not to be ignored.

So that’s why you’ll see messages like this:


from me in the early hours on a Friday.  Early, so that it doesn’t clog up the Twitter stream for those who don’t care – at least in the Eastern Timezone.  Sorry Europe and beyond.

I had a couple of interesting private Twitter messages today that helped frame this post.

1)  “Didn’t you use to post the #FollowFridays quicker?” – Yes, I did.  I had a pretty good set of scripts that harvested names for me and made it easy.  Twitter has changed the rules about how to access messages so I’ve had to scrap the original plan.  My current routine is a little more manual that I’d like so it does take a bit to pull this off but I’m working on it.

2)  “When I log into Twitter, seeing the other Twitter IDs clumped with mine is just like a face to face introduction.  I follow them immediately.”  That’s another activity that’s become organic with this.  Some people when they see a message with their name in it elected to reTweet the message.  I never thought of that but really like it.


What it does is amplify the concept.  It’s almost a decree to follow some new people.  And, doesn’t that allow us to expand the Ontario Network and continue the Ontario conversation?

If you missed the list of people identified this morning, I created the Storify below.

[View the story “#Active Ontario Educators” on Storify]

The complete listing of Ontario Educators is stored in two Twitter lists.

To get yourself added to the list, send me a message or complete the form located 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.

Perfect Ontario EduTweeters

Recently, my friend @alfredtwo let me know that I had made one of those lists.  This time it was the Top 55 Connected Educators and published by @mytowntutors.  Now, a lot of times these things are popularity contests or re-hashes of someone else’s blog post with a top 10 list or something.  Alfred and I kid each other when we stumble across a post like this.  This one was a bit different in that it actually uses an analytic for a name to be included.  Twitter Grader is from a commercial site that is devoted to help marketing businesses and looking at the reach of a Twitter account.

The danger when you create a “Top 10” list occurs when someone gets let off the list.  So, I first tested myself to see if it was true and then I checked Alfred and he, indeed, has a perfect score of 100 and should have made the list.  I guess you can’t please all the people all the time!

As I looked up and down the list, I recognized many of the names and was quite pleased that I’ve met many of them in person.  But, I was surprised that I was the only name from Ontario on that list.  That can’t be.  I wish there was a bulk upload feature for this because I’d really like to upload the Ontario Educator List 1 and 2 to see who else had a score of 100.  That would be helpful (and processor intensive on the host site) but it was nowhere to be found.  I was bored, just watching television, and decided to try out a few names.  I opened Hootsuite and went to the Ontario Educator columns and started to check out a few names.

I’m happy to say that I found some!  Here for public amusement and living proof that there are great Ontario Educators to follow on Twitter, I offer the following list in alphabetical order…  (sorry, Zoe)

  • avivaloca – Formerly @grade1. Went from 11 years of teaching K-2 to moving to Gr.6. Looking forward to this exciting new adventure! Ancaster · http://adunsiger.com
  • msjweir – I’m a high school English teacher who loves to geek out with technology! Also, a mommy to a beautiful little girl!ON, Canada · http://msjweir.wordpress.com
  • shannoninottawa – Mom, Wife, Elementary School Principal in Ottawa, Canada – playing around with learning out in the open every single day 🙂 Ottawa, Canada · http://shannoninottawa.com
  • thecleversheep – I am a teacher-learner-collaborator, eager to engage in conversations with other learners. Project-based learning and Creative Commons are always on my radar. Komoka, Ontario, Canada · http://www.thecleversheep.com
  • zbpipe – Teacher at HWDSB and Instructor for Pre-Service Education at Brock University~ Always looking for innovative /engaging teaching methods; Always learning.Hamilton, Ontario · http://about.me/zoebraniganpipe#

Didn’t make the above list?  Don’t despair.  I lost interest before I tested everyone on the lists!  While only a select few made the perfect 100 score, there were so many in the 80s and 90s.  I don’t care who you are – that’s good enough for anyone to pass an EQAO test.  You can do all kinds of other things at the site like find out who joined Twitter on the same day as you.  Or, just snoop around and see what the site says about your friends and followers.

You’ll want to check yourself out at the site.  If you end up with a great score, add it to the comments!