Tag: ontario

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Labour Day Weekend.  Anyone else going to the Harrow Fair? We go every year so that my wife can get her fill of banty hens.

If not, settle back and read some of these interesting blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Why Twitter? Response

Have you ever made someone create a blog post?  I did and Jennifer Casa-Todd responded nicely.  She started with an innocent enough question….  I think it’s probably a question that everyone would like the answer to.

 

That opened the door for me and a blog post inspired by her inquiry.  Read her post and you’ll understand her motive for the original question.

She’s looking for some data for her research so if you have literally 15 seconds to help her out, answer her three question survey.

I’m hoping that she shares the results; I know I’m interested.


#BIT15Reads: Joining the club and choosing a book

Last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference, a self-directed learning/discussion book talk was introduced with great success. 

Alanna King is getting a head start on the concept this year.  Using her expertise with Goodreads, she’s started the process.

I think it’s a natural progression.  Not everyone can attend and join in the discussion face to face at the conference.  But, anyone with the book and an internet connection can read and participate.  This could go world-wide – please consider sharing her initiative far and wide.  The more that are involved, the better the results and proof that our connections are so powerful.


Neil Postman Had It Right—Back in the 80’s

The year is 1987 and the location is Tel Aviv.  Peter Skillen reminisces about a conference with the theme “caution versus enthusiasm”.  In this post, Peter shares some of the thoughts from Neil Postman on the topic.

Even though the years have passed, there’s still so much common sense in Postman’s observations.

What’s changed?

Innovation and big business.  Attend any computer conference or visit any technology store.  The amount of technology available to schools and teachers back then was minuscule compared to the offerings today.  Add to it the number of people who work on commission and you have a huge intrusion into schools and school districts trying to sell the latest, greatest, and shiniest.  That’s not going to go away soon but it wouldn’t hurt to step back and question why.  If the answer is “because so and so is doing it” or “it’s the standard in business and industry” or based on a theory of questionable origin, then I’d suggest that the wheels are wobbly and need to be tightened.


Curricularize Coding? Not a New Question!

Peter must be clearing out his personal library.  In the next post, he shares evidence that good Ontario educators understood the value of programming in 1986.  Of course I was, because as a secondary school computer science teacher, that was my job.  Peter reminds us that there were elementary school teachers who understood the power as well in this scanned article from ECOO Output, an eagerly awaited publication from ECOO when it had Special Interest Groups and was more than just a conference.

His inclusion of this picture of Ontario Educational Technology leaders brought back some memories of people I’ve worked with over the years.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Ron Millar wear anything but black.

Oh, and Peter also includes a nice article from the SIG-LOGO group.  I’ll confess to being completely distracted and spending quite a bit of time going through the above picture before I read that though.  Sorry, Peter.


Back-To-School 2015: Your Creative Advice

Stephen Hurley’s latest post is both a smile and a plea for help.

I find myself wearing two hats on this one. The first is the hat of an educator who has had the opportunity to witness quite a few opening days. But I’m also the father of two children who, at 8 and 6 years of age, are just beginning to negotiate their way through the formal school system. Truth be told, I find myself favouring the father hat these days.

Being a teacher and a parent is an interesting combination, and really challenging at times.  Going back to school is just the beginning.

But, with young kids, it’s a challenge for everyone.  Indeed, how do you make it an exciting and non-threatening event?

Stephen offers some suggestions and is looking for more.

Do it quick; school starts on Monday.

The smile part – I’m sure that he’s yet to experience the situation where a student / teacher conflict happens and the teacher is a friend and the student is, well your kid, and you know what she/he is capable of.


Case Method — classroom catalysts, from story to discourse and back again

You might have missed this post from Richard Fouchaux because he neglected to include the word “free” in the title.  But, make sure you give it a read.

He’s putting it out there – if you’re interested, show a little online love and follow his blog for the results.


As the return of school is nigh, it’s great to see that Ontario Educators are still learning and sharing.  Please take a few moments to click through and support these wonderful bloggers and all of the Ontario Edubloggers.  If this is the year for you to start sharing your wisdom with others, please add your blog URL in the form provided.  There’s so many good things happening.  Be a part of it!

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

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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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I can’t believe it’s Friday already.  The RCAC Symposium was just last week and it was another very inspirational day.  But the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers kept on coming.

I ran into one of those Internet/Blogging memes by being named.  I guess it’s a fun way to get folks who are blogging to interact with each other and gives them a chance to let folks know a bit about them.  A few people have already responded.

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Joint Work in the Digital Staff Room

This one was from Brian Harrison who actually was the person who tagged me.  Read the original piece at the link above.  To whet your appetite, here are 11 Random Facts about Brian.

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The second one that I found came from Royan Lee.  He called his post:

Dean Shareski’s Homework

And, 11 things you might want to know about Royan.

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Interesting.

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Brandon Grasley calls his Joyful Blogging in Response to @fryed

brandon

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Donna Fry “Brings Back Joy

Donna

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Just Laugh…

Aviva Dunsiger shared her thoughts about what happens when technology goes wrong in the classroom.  You see a lot of frustration from folks when technology doesn’t work.  It means that perhaps the lesson has to go to a “Plan B”.

It’s a cruel reality when working with technology and everyone who has ever tried to use technology has run into it.  In the staffroom afterwards, you’ll get the inevitable “That’s why I don’t use technology.”  It’s difficult to take on that discussion as you’re banging your head against the wall.

But, let’s not let it interfere with the process.  Our profession has always had points of failure that mess up good lessons.

  • assemblies that make the school run on shortened days;
  • students “sick” on the day of their presentation;
  • bulb blown on whatever projector you’re needing;
  • early dismissal for the sports team;
  • and everyone’s favourite – snow day!

The one thing that we keep hearing is how it’s not the technology; it’s the teaching; it’s the connections; it’s the collaboration…

Maybe we should step back from the technology more often and practice what we’re preaching?

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Thanks, everyone for being so open and sharing with your thoughts.  Please enjoy these and all Ontario Edubloggers at this Livebinder.  If you’re an Ontario Educational Blogger and your work isn’t listed, add yourself via the form!

 

Documenting the #RCAC13


During October and now December, I’ve had the privilege of co-chairing two conferences with two amazing folks – Cyndie Jacobs and Doug Sadler.  Both events were instrumental in bringing together Ontario Educators for an event of learning, sharing, and reflection on practice.  The most recent event was the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2013.  Hashtag for the event was #RCAC13.

This is a really unique event.  Unlike ECOO which tries to reach out to the province, the RCAC Symposium’s audience is Directors, Superintendents, Principal/Vice-Principals and technology leaders within districts and schools in Southwestern Ontario.  There are lots of PD events for this type of people but the RCAC Symposium allows for a smaller, intimate, intensive, one day learning event about technology and teaching.  I’m not aware of any professional learning event that attempts to do this in the same way.

It’s always nice to sit back and reflect on a conference when it’s complete.  If you have more “that worked wells” than “wish we’d done thats”, it’s a success.  My sense is that we had more “that worked wells”.  It wasn’t perfect – as my co-chair noted, “if it’s all working perfectly, you’re not using enough technology”.

The biggest thing, and it’s always a technology conference bugaboo, is that the internet worked – and worked well.  We’ve gone through a number of different attempts over the years with the Lamplighter Inn and this year’s implementation seemed to work nicely.  I had only one complaint and it was shown to me on a computer that was connected and we looked at an email together so…

In this post, I’d like to share three ways that the conference was documented for me.

The first was just one of those things that fell into place.  My co-chair, Doug Sadler (@sadone on Twitter) and I were having a last minute check of things on our “minute-by-minute” document on Wednesday night after all of the helpers had headed off to bed.  We were pretty happy with the way things were shaping up and, as we typically do, we were sharing our latest technology finds.  He showed me this new app (Noom Walk) that he was using as a pedometer on his phone.  I showed him a graphing app that I used (My Tracks) for much the same thing but I thought it would be a hoot to try out the app that he showed me.  Besides, my old pedometer had gone through the wash and no longer works!  He indicated that his goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day.  My dog would love being with him!

Next morning, I was up and working on things at 4:30am and I just slipped my phone in my pocket as I was out to check the setup in the ballroom, the foyer, and the breakout rooms.  The restaurant in the hotel wasn’t open when I was ready for breakfast so I hopped in the car and headed out to Tim Horton’s.  I had to get some donuts for a purpose during the conference anyway so it was no biggie.

Then, Symposium hit and the typical tasks were done.  Checking that presenters were good to go, moving door prizes in and out of the big ballroom, walking and talking with people, attending a session, etc.  At day’s end, it was a matter of packing up all the stuff, filling the car, and heading home eventually to be greeted by the dog who needed his evening walk.  Later, I had a chance to sit on the couch and wondered why my feet hurt.  I remembered – Doug’s app – I looked and it had indeed been counting for me.  12,157 steps!  That’s a lot of walking.

The second documentation was pictorial.  Yes, I had my phone and took some pictures but they pale in comparison to having it done right.  But, here’s a picture I took anyway – the Lamplighter Poinsettia tree.

Poinsettia

Andy Forgrave had his amazing camera and tripod on the go.

Now, I know he probably would have taken a ton of pictures but he put together a nice collection in a Flick gallery.  If you couldn’t join us, or if you just want to remember, take a look here.

And, finally, what’s a technology conference without Twitter.  We used the hashtag #RCAC13 and put it right on the cover of the program. There was no excuse for not knowing what the hashtag was.  People didn’t miss the opportunity.  Tweets were flying from all over the place.  Certainly, the majority of them came during the two keynotes but you’d find them in every breakout session as well.

All the way home, I could hear my smartphone chirping away letting me know that there was another tweet in the works.  I was dying to read what was happening but, of course, you don’t tweet and drive.  Upon my arrival, there were a lot of private messages but certainly even more to add to the activity from the day.

To keep track of things, I created a Tagboard of the day’s tweets.

I also put together a Storify document of all of the Twitter activity.

What a great collection and it’s interesting to work backwards through the timeline to remember what a great day we had.  If you’re not into Tagboard or Storify, certainly just a Twitter search for #RCAC13 will get the job done.

I know that those in attendance, and those who were ineligible for door prizes but joined us virtually all found that something that expands their understanding and learning about how technology makes a difference for students in the year 2013.  After all, to paraphrase keynote speaker Gary Stager, you can’t be teaching the 21st Century learner if you’re not a learner yourself.

And, I’ll award the “Tweet of the Day to Rodd Lucier”…

If you attended the conference or were just following the hashtag, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please add them below.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The frustrating thing about my Friday post  is boiling down the great writing that’s happening with Ontario Edubloggers into three or four of the best articles!  I did and these really caught my interest.

Sign Up For The January Blogging Community Session Now!

Blogging is good; building a community based on that blogging is even better.  Check out this global opportunity from Kristen Wideen’s blog.

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WEBTOOLS: NO REGISTRATION NEEDED FOR STUDENTS

Nathan Hall has curated a list of “no registration” resources for student use.  There are two advantages to this – one is respect for student privacy and the other is the ability to just use the tool rather than worrying about registration, logging on, passwords, etc.

We’ve got to get him to add Brian Aspinall’s work to this list!

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Three Steps to Better Leadership

I love this post.  It takes a very reflective educator and leader to do some reflection and make admissions as well as a “next steps” plan online.  Sue Dunlop shares what she considers three steps to becoming a better leader.  It’s hard to argue with any of her thoughts but I think we can ALL benefit right now from her third step.

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“WHY WOULD I WANT TO LEARN FROM SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO LEARN FROM ME?”

This is the million dollar question for education.  Read Donna Fry’s thoughts about the topic.  Life was so much easier when we just plain acknowledged that teachers were the holders of all information and students arrives to get their share of it!

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Use of Language

This is a little different.  I’m going to highlight a response in one of my posts.

Brandon

Brandon Grasley had a very thoughtful reply to a post that I had about language.  On the surface, his recommendations make a great deal of sense.  Spot and an error?  Just go back and fix it.  If you look further back in my blog this week, I did an analytic that included how many people read this blog.  The number that have opted to receive it via email far outweigh those who visit online.  Plus there’s the RSS readers and reader surfaces like Flipboard.  These may get their copy from the original post so even if I go through and fix any mistake that I find, those who are readers of the blog not using the blog, will have the original copy which has the errors!  Maybe there should be a warning that if you subscribe by email that you may get errors!

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Please check out these blogs in their entirety.  There’s some great reading and room for reflection there.

As always, my complete collection of Ontario Edublogs is located here.  Check them all out!  The list continues to grow and, if you’re in Ontario Education and not listed, add yourself to the form and you will be.