Tag: “ontario educators”

Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall

Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…


Yesterday in Ontario MicroBlogging

Normally, on Fridays, I share some of the wonderful Ontario Blogging efforts from the previous week.  I thought I would take a slightly different tact this week.  There have been a lot of “last day(s)” thoughts shared on Twitter on Thursday.  Here’s some of what caught my eye in case you missed them.

I’ve created a Storify of some of them.  I could have kept going and going but I’ll leave that up to you if you wish.

You can follow all of the Ontario Educators on my lists here and here.  It’s so good to see the professionalism of the discussion at the end of a very long and eventful school year.

If you want to be added yourself, visit here and complete the form!

Check out the complete Storify here.

(I think this is a record for the number of heres in a post!)




Just to finish with a couple of blog references.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Once again, there was some great sharing from Ontario Educators this week.  Some of what caught my eye…

Redacted, Frozen, Blocked, — and Saved
Andy Forgrave’s latest post brought a smile to me.  It was on the heels of a move in What’s the Phrase in a game with @tgianno.  She absolutely kills me in word games and the new game features the category “First World Problem”.  Fortunately, I won one round.  The answer was “Have to Change Password Again”.

Well, it seems to me that Andy’s run full steam into his own share of first world problems in the activities described in his latest post.

These things are the things that we bump our heads on regularly as we live in an online world.  Somehow, Andy’s post made me feel pretty good knowing that I’m not the only one!

Pause the World Daddy…I Have to Pee!

This is the sort of title for a post that I know that @Noeline would love.  It immediately catches one’s attention and you just have to drop everything and see what Stephen Hurley’s up to this time.

Stephen often talks about having children a little later in life that the rest of us.  In this case, I think that he’s able to pass along some wisdom to his son Luke that I wasn’t.

For me, there was no pause button.  Particularly in the spring, it was up and at ’em, drop the kids off at school and child care, go to work, run a workshop from 4-6, rush to a baseball diamond to hopefully catch up with my wife and kids.  If it was a “good night”, there was only one child playing baseball.  On a rushed night, one of us would go to one place and the other to another place.  The third forgotten, by her words, child would be tagged along to one or the other.  Then, it was home to baths and beds anywhere from 8:30-9:00.  And, finally some dinner and an opportunity to get caught up on each other’s day.  Pause wasn’t an option, it seems.

Hats off to Stephen that he’s being able to have the discussion about pausing a busy life.  For all of us, we know that things aren’t getting slower.

Hello (NapoWriMo #17) and Position of Responsibility
I normally feature teacher posts in the Friday Ontario Edublog posts and today I question that.  Why not a student post?  I’ve been following @bgrasley’s blog and TheBookyBunHead‘s blog as they attempt to deal with a month of poetry.  Both of them constantly amaze me with their insights and their ability to keep it up.

Two of their recent offerings showed some very inspirational things for me.

“Hello” includes an image and a quote before the poem.  The quote is awesome and should be posted everywhere that there are eyes to read.  In particular, any discussion on character.

“The only person you should try to be better than… is the person you were yesterday.”

Love it!

“Responsibility” kinds of ties so many things together.

“Should I lead?”

So many people opt for the easy way out and say “No”.

Highlight From Our Geometry Focus
There were two things that stood out in Marcie Martel’s latest post.

First there are some wonderful pictures showing the activities that her Grade One class enjoyed as they played, discovered, and learned all about geometry.

You can just visualize the classroom abuzz with activities as the students enjoyed the various areas for exploration.

I don’t care who you are.  You’ve got to appreciate hula hoops for a Venn diagram…

The second thing doesn’t seem to be planned and it deals with connectivity…a second grade class from Michigan happens along to comment on the blog post and the activities.  They’re studying the same thing.

Does it get much better than that?

Please take the time to read and enjoy the posts above and all of the good things coming from Ontario Educators.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Friday posts are my most favourite.  I like to take some time to honour some of the spectacular blog entries from the great collection of Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and support these folks.

The Impact of Culture on Feedback

I thought that this post from Royan Lee was one of the more important ones that I’d read in a while.  In the post, he explores just what feedback means.

This one needs to be shared far and wide.

He inspired a couple of blog entries from me on the topic.

Third From the Top


Meant to be?

I followed a tip for a blog post from the WordPress inspiration post and ended up at Royan’s post.  In the first of the entries, he made me reflect upon the evolving nature of formal (read that as report cards) feedback.

Hot and Sour Soup

It was a comment on that post that led me to the second.

I think that it’s great that we allow ourselves to tinker and think about so many things when it comes to feedback.  It would be so easy to just take the handbook and do what you’re told to do.  I included a dialogue between two Ontario educators about the paperless classroom as an example of the professional discourse that we are fortunate enough to see, if we’re connected.

It also reinforces the sorrow that one feels for those who elect not to get online and participate.

The Science of Passion-Based Learning

Writing an article for the PLPNetwork, one of Ontario’s treasures when it comes to educational thinking, Peter Skillen takes on some research and his thinking about passion-based learning.  He makes the argument that passion based goes beyond simple engagement.

He deals with the devil – memorization as a baseline for the discussion.

His post caused me to think about my own experiences.  This time, it was about the computer programs I’d written over the years.  At university, it wasn’t uncommon to nap in the evening and then head over to the computer centre for the middle of the night programming.  That was, for me, engagement.  (and the reality that the mainframes were much more responsive then).

But, passion appears when I would work all day, wolf down some sort of supper and then program and debug (admittedly more debugging than programming) all evening and then all night.  Yes, I was engaged, but it was the passion for the project that kept me at it.

In this post, I think that Peter really nails it.  Kudos, bud.

Persistence Pays Off….

They never had pottery in art class when I went to school.  But, if you were attending Nipigon-Red Rock District High School, you’d get an opportunity to be creative in this field apparently.

A recent post indicates that there’s more than just that.  Students had to experience what it was like to be a real potter and reclaim their own materials.  This post includes a nice collection of photos showing the process the students followed.  Wow!

Commander Hadfield Saw Us!

And, if that wasn’t enough, how about some out of this world experiences for the students!  They created a video and sent a Twitter message to Chris Hadfield in the International Space Station where he watched it and tweeted back!

The experience is captured forever in this post.  Also check out the reference to principal Donna Fry’s explanation about their involvement with the project.  Again, wow!

Please check out these posts at the links above.  You can check out the rest of the great things coming from the keyboards of Ontario Educators here.

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Where are We?

Happy #FollowFriday, Ontario Educators.  Hope that it’s a good one for you.

Have you ever wondered how far and wide our participants are?  I have too.  One of the things that you can do when you register your Twitter account is give the name of a community.  If you’re openly transparent, you can give your complete address or Geo-Locate yourself with your Smart Phone.  Or, you could play it safe and just give a general location or none at all.

As you know, I’m big about visualization and am constantly looking at ways to create them.

I always wondered if I could plot our little group on a Google Map given the information that’s provided freely in Twitter profiles.  The current list totals 314 of us.  Even I wouldn’t go through the list one by one and plot on a map.  I’ve always wanted to find some way to automate the process and I managed to put the puzzle together this week.  Here we are in the province.


And, here’s how I did it.

I needed a way to get at the data and it turns out that a service that I subscribe to does a wonderful job of it.  The service is called Export.ly.  It’s designed to let you access accounts or lists to pull the information.  So, I gave it the address to the Ontario Educators list at http://twitter.com/dougpete/ontario-educators/ and Export.ly does its thing.  One of the export options is to export in CSV format and it’s now sitting on my hard drive.  Cool.  If you ever have to work with data, you know that there often is some cleaning up to do.  In this case, there was a bit but Libre Office did a wonderful job of it.

First of all, not everyone had provided an easily accessible location so I deleted them.  That left me with 155 valid entries.  If I was concerned, I’d have to dig deeper but I just wanted to make sure that I could make it work.

Then, I needed to clean up locations.  There were some “Toronto”s and some “Toronto, Ontario”s and some “Toronto, ON”s and some “Toronto, Ontario, Canada”s.  Hmmmm.  This appeared to be a problem until I clued in that everyone was from Ontario anyway.  So, I did a Find and Replace for “Ontario”, replacing it with nothing.  Ditto for “Canada” and “ON”.  That cleaned up the list very nicely…except for the “ON” part.  It kind of butchered the “Toronto” folks but that was easily fixed.  A quick scan up and down the list revealed some folks who had misspelled their town.  Fixed.  So, that gave me a column of Ontario towns and cities.  Next, I want to be able to plot them on an Ontario map so in the column next, I filled a bunch of “, Ontario”s.  And, next to that I filled a column with the community concatenated with the province.  =A1&B1 in C1 composed things nicely.

Time to save the file.

Now, the question becomes one of how to get these communities on a map?  There’s a terrific service called Click2Map.  It provides a simple map editor and features a wizard that pulls markers (in my case the communities) from an uploaded file.  You can watch the wizard plot the points and soon there’s a bundle of markers where Ontario resides on the map.  Now, it’s just a matter of zooming to isolate the province and I have the map as shown above.

You’ll notice that what folks from Northern Ontario say is true.  Those of us in Southern Ontario are dense.  Or at least densely populated.  Let’s zoom in and get a better picture.


Isn’t that interesting?

And, not to ignore our friends in the north, we can zoom to reveal…


You’ve got to love Highway 11.

Back to Southern Ontario, Click2Map does recognize that there will be times when the markers are close together and you can bundle them.  Southern Ontario bundled looks like this.


I did have a great deal of fun playing around with the Export.ly / Libre Office / Click2Map combination.  Even though the entire database wasn’t useful, I suspect that the trends would be similar if everyone had their community located.

I can see all kinds of classroom applications flowing from this activity.

  • Go beyond the province and try to find other areas that are identifiable by location.
  • Talk about how much information that you provide online.  (Make sure to compare it with what’s already in a phone book for perspective)
  • Could telephone numbers or email addresses be harvested in a similar manner given the appropriate data?  What could you do with a file of email addresses?

In the meantime, scroll back to the top and see the distribution of Ontario Educators on Twitter.  I don’t imagine that the distribution comes as a surprise.  If you are an Ontario Educator and wish to be added to the list, please add yourself to the form at:  http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=52544.  I’d really like to add your blog to the list of great content that we’re generating in the province.  You can access the blogs added at the link above or at http://www.scoop.it/t/ontario-edublogs.

Forest and Trees – Ontario Educator Style

A couple of weeks ago, I released my LiveBinders effort which was a way of sharing all the Ontario Educators who also had active blogs in one form or another.  The LiveBinder format allows for the easy display of any kind of links in your browser and, through tabs, an easy way for me to categorize the blogs by content.  I was pleased with the results and I think it was unique way to showcase the results of some of the excellent works from folks throughout the province as they share their ideas with their colleagues, the rest of the province, and indeed, anyone in the world who happens to drop by their blog.

So, in one spot, you could navigate to any Ontario educator blog, read it, and then rather than wandering around, link by link, to see what else was new, catch it all in one spot.  They just appear in the LiveBinder window and the navigation remains at the top of the screen so that you can quickly reach out and see what someone else has to say.  So, if I wanted to see @jaccalder’s latest, it’s just a matter of clicking on her “Ramblings” title and voila.

Whenever you try to do something like this and be inclusive, you realize very quickly that you’re not inclusive by any stretch of the imagination.  Within minutes of posting the blog entry, I received a message from another Ontario Educator asking why their blog wasn’t included and could I add theirs?  The answer is twofold – first of all, I don’t know every blog in the province and secondly, absolutely.

I then came to the realization that this probably wouldn’t be the only person.  A little noodle scratching later and I thought – you know, the content in a LiveBinder is just webpages.  Why don’t I write one to collect information from anyone who wanted to contribute and put it into a table so that I could use the web to collect this data rather than waiting for anyone new to come along and have to engage in a dialogue to get the necessary information.  I could write an active server page with an Access database like I did years ago when I wrote the Webquest Locator to collect and display webquests according to subject level.  So, I got about the task of writing something. I’m always challenged by appearance and design but maybe I could at least do something functional.

Then, for whatever reason, I paused and thought – man – you are so old school.  Sure, given enough time and FTP services, you could make this functional BUT the whole premise behind LiveBinders is that it displays webpages in the window.  All that I’m looking to do is collect four fields of information.  There’s a far easier method.  Haven’t you been the one that encourages people to use the excellent resources available on the web?  Literally, in seconds, I had a Google Form created – and it looked good too.  There was, in fact a template that had almost Twitter-like colours and even included some birds in its design.

I could spend hours on design and not get anything that looked that good!  With the appropriate tool, it was done in seconds.  Since, with each tab in the LiveBinder, you have to land somewhere, I elected to land on this collection form.  It looks great and it is absolutely functional.  The results go into a Google Spreadsheet serving as a modern-day table for this simple project and I just make the document notify me whenever someone happens to make an entry.  Then, I check to make sure that it’s legit – spammers are always looking for new ways to spread their poisonous word – and it becomes part of the collection.

It worked well.  From the original layout, to date, about a dozen new blogs that I didn’t know existed have been added to the collection.  Since it’s up there and live, I’m hoping that it will grow so that we can showcase the efforts of as many Ontario educators as possible.  If you know of one that’s not there, please have the author swing by and fill out the form.  I’d love to have them included.

Back to the original concept though, there was an important takeaway for me.  Even with all the skills that I might have in my arsenal, I need to make sure that I look at a problem from all angles.  With so many great tools at my disposal, brute force should only be a last resort!  Think it through, Doug.  Hence the title of this entry.

A Fountain of Ontario Educators

Here’s a great way to showcase a collection on Twitter.  The utility is called TwitterFountain.  With a few settings, you’re up and running showing off a stream, your stream, or the results of search on Twitter.  I’m thinking that it would be an awesome way to showcase a Hashtag on a monitor.  The flow of entries is continuous and you just want to know what’s next.

It’s a matter of picking how you want the messages to appear (there’s a wide variety) and TwitterFountain can bring in background images from Flickr or Picassa to show a very nice background.

An embed code or URL seals the deal.  Unfortunately, the background images don’t always come across.

So, today’s tribute to Ontario Educators can be found here.  (Play around with the settings in the bottom right corner to see the possibilities…)