Do’s for Student Blogging


I read this blog post this morning and really enjoyed it.  “Top 20 Do’s and Don’t’s of Blogging”.  The focus was to the professional blogger and so some of the topics may not necessarily apply for student blogging.  The other thing is that it contains a lot of don’t’s which sound a lot like rules and you know students (and teachers) when it comes to rules – they want to push to see how far they bend before they break.  Inspired by this, I thought I would take a look at putting together a list of Do’s specifically for schools.  It’s all positive!

DO – Follow the school’s acceptable use policies for social media.  This might include just using student first names and last initial or a particular tool.  No problem.  The goal is the writing after all.

DO – Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm thoughts before sitting down to actually blog.  I’m a big fan of Popplet.

DO – Use all the components of the writing process.  After all, you’re writing – Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Publishing are all nicely done online and “pass the laptop” peer editing with elbow partners works well.

DO – Publish for others to read and comment.  Parents always enjoy the opportunity to see student work live and immediate and can comment right on the spot.  I had an advantage explained to me once by an eLearning teacher that I hadn’t thought about but it sure makes sense.  By publishing so that others could read, plagiarizing went away totally – first of all the original author might find it and secondly classmates would rat them out!

DO – Use the hashtag #comments4kids.  There really are kind souls that like to support the blogging process by adding a comment now and again.

DO – Simplify the writing process.  Depending upon student age, why use a big, full-blown word processor with every bell and whistle known to human kind unless you like the myriad of teachable moments when the question “What does this do?” comes up?  Your blogging environment may have just the right number of options for most writing!

  • WORDPRESS

wordpress

  • BLOGGER

blogger

DO – Use the writing tools that comes with your blogging platform.  As a WordPress user, I totally rely on WordPress’ assistance!  (I’m still trying to avoid writing in the passive voice…)

proof

DO – Include images.  Not the “go to Google Images page and right-click the first one” ones though.  Discuss Creative Commons resources (including Google’s) or, even better, have students create/photograph/scan their own artwork for inclusion.  Make it theirs.

DO – Blog in other languages.  What a great way to promote a second language than to publish it in the best possible, polished format.  Don’t forget that mathematics is a wonderful second language too.

DO – Blog regularly.  I would suggest that “one and done” is just a waste of time.  Make it a regular place to publish or journal what’s happening.  A comparison of writing at the end of the year will show how the writing has matured.  Don’t forget also to create a BlogBooker so students have a record of everything in one spot.

and a bonus…

DO – Consider your back.  Instead of loading up your personal knapsack full of papers to take home for marking, do it online!  You can easily use all forms of assessment publicly on the blog or privately through your wiki or email.

What do you think?  Blogging in the classroom is positive.  What did I miss?  Add them in the comments below.

Google SPOT at #ECOO13


The Educational Computing Organization of Ontario is proud to partner with LEARNStyle to present a full day, intense series of workshops dealing with Google Apps for Education.  The sessions, led by Google Certified Educators will delve into all aspects of using Google Applications in your classroom.  Sessions will be offered in both French and English.  Pick from the sessions offered to tailor your own professional learning needs.  These sessions are ideal for educators interested in using Google Apps for Education in the classroom.  We know that many were unable to attend the recent Ontario Google Summit and that a large number of school districts have adopted Google Apps for Education recently.  This comprehensive program is for you!

The complete #ECOO13 program may be viewed on Lanyrd here:  http://lanyrd.com/2013/ecoo13/

Register for #ECOO13 here:  http://www.cvent.com/events/bring-it-together/event-summary-e02f22e3d9144718a73faba35000266f.aspx


Google SPOT: A custom-designed Google Apps for Education Program

Google SPOT is a three-tiered program designed by LEARNstyle to introduce, engage and build skills around Google Apps for Education. Participants will gain foundational knowledge and specific examples of how Google Apps for Education can impact and bring excitement to their school boards, classrooms, and professional lives. Tailor your learning experience by choosing the workshops that best fit your classes and lesson plans!

Tier 1, Keynote: DJ Cunningham – CEO LEARNstyle

The Google SPOT keynote will showcase the power that Google Apps for Education has to support your teaching, through the innovative use of collaboration, cloud computing and apps.

Tier 2: Hands-on Foundation Course

This hands-on foundation course is designed to provide you with the core skills you will need to make Google Apps for Education a reality in your classroom. Participants will receive a practical hands-on introduction to Google Apps for Education, guided by 3 of LEARNstyle’s Google Certified Trainers.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and learn about Google Apps for Education with our hands-on interactive instruction!

Tier 3: Breakout Workshops Participants in these breakout workshops will have the opportunity to tailor their learning to suit their personal preferences. Choose from the following 8 Google SPOT workshops offered in 2 time slots to enhance your learning with Google Apps for Education!  Two of the sessions will be offered in French!

Break out sessions 1

1.1: Google and Accessibility presenter, D.J. Cunningham

1.2: Google Next Steps for Certification, presenter: Joe Carsdale

1.3: Using Google for Formative Assessment, presenter: Teresa Greco

1.4: French Topic TBA, presenter: Lize Galuga


Break out sessions 2

2.1: Making Videos with Youtube in the Classroom, presenter: Jen Daniels

2.2: Workflow, the Google way, presenter: D.J. Cunningham

2.3: Must have apps & extensions, presenter: Joe Carsdale

2.4: French Topic TBA, presenter: Pierre Sarazin


I Repeat–Don’t Do Stupid Things


Yesterday, the Ontario College of Teachers, the professional body that oversees the teaching profession in Ontario issued a news release announcing a “Professional Advisory on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media” for its members.  As could be expected, conversations were immediately abuzz with with thoughts and comments about the content.  It was interesting to see the initial take by readers and the media.  Teasers are all over television with content that would make you wonder if the script writers had actually read the content of the advisory.

In addition to the PDF document, a video was posted to YouTube supporting the content of the advisory.

 

 

Before you dig into the advisory, I would recommend reading the backgrounder that the College of Teachers provides as a lead-in to the advisory itself (PDF Document).  Read the document carefully.  In particular, three sections lay out the key advice to members: “Interact with students appropriately”, “Understand privacy concerns”, and “Act Professionally”.  The next steps for teachers who wish to use Social Media come in the form of “Important questions to ask yourself”.  Without identifying itself as such, the document really asks educators to analyze and consider their own digital footprints and its implications.  Even the most fervent of users would have difficulties challenging any of the common sense messages conveyed.  I do wonder, though, if all of the educational scenarios have been thought through carefully.  In particular, I wonder about those teachers who are teaching courses online and use these tools as part of the courses.

None of this should be new information.  Check through the content of Ontario EduBloggers and you’ll find that virtually all of them have talked about and carefully crafted their own online presence.  There isn’t a professional gathering in the province that doesn’t feature presentations and discussions about Social Media.  In particular, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation has educated its members about the appropriate use and the power of online resources.  Through the Curriculum Forum, all of the subject councils are well aware of the power of these technologies when used properly.  OTF has also hosted two 21st Century sessions, the most recent being the “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century” session this past February.  It was at this session that I had the honour of chairing a panel discussion about these technologies.  Teachers, a student, an administrator, three of the four Teacher Federations, and a passionate speaker were on this panel where a thorough discussion about the topic engaged the audience.  The biggest message for me from that discussion came from Bob Fisher from OSSTF whose best advice still applies “Don’t Do Stupid Things”.  After the event, I blogged about it and am reposting it here.  I think the message is as relevant today as it was when originally posted on February 12, 2011. 

The title was “Don’t Do Stupid Things”.

Isn’t that great advice?  I received it from my parents, I’ve given it to my own children, and I was reminded about this on Thursday night.

On Thursday night, as part of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Professional Development event, I was asked to chair a panel after supper.  I agreed to do this and a great deal of preparation went in to the event.

I decided that I would script the event using a Google Document and laid out the evening as I thought that I would like it to go.  Once I was ready, I shared the document with the project manager for the event, Siria Szkurhan who went through and helped tighten the language in the questions.  We also talked on the phone to make sure that we got the maximum value from the panel of experts to make the event the most beneficial for the participants.  So that the panelists could be prepared, they were shared the agenda as well, in advance of the event.

With as big an audience as we would have (potentially over 200 educators), I felt that we also needed to have some visuals to put the questions in context and so went about doing some research that would complement the questions posed to each of the panelists.  My friend Peter Skillen volunteered to man my laptop and go from tab to tab as the event unfolded.  He did a great job and the visual helped put a context to each of the questions.  I put links to all of the resources together into a bit.ly bundle and shared it here if you’re interested.

During the panel, we encouraged the continuation of the conference backchannel on Twitter and there were many comments flying about from the tag #OTF21C.  There weren’t any specific questions that appeared but we did have microphones for the audience to take advantage of the expertise on the stage.

First up, was Will Richardson who would lead a full day on Friday.  The goal here was to set the stage for why we were here and to break the ice for the rest of the panel.  I know that Will is widely travelled and asked him to share a couple of examples of the use of Social Media that he felt was exemplary.  I liked the answer that it was a great deal easier to find uses today than it was three years ago when he first spoke at another OTF event.  And, the panel was off.

We next heard from a couple of Ontario Educators.  Kelly Moore, an elementary school teacher from Greater Essex County shared some of the successes that she enjoyed as a Teacher Librarian.  She gave some examples as Peter showed off her wiki on the screen.  Through example, Kelly explained how getting online was so helpful for the students that she reached.  I did get her to explain how she used Social Media to help her differentiate the learning process for her students.  After Kelly, we moved to Danika Barker, a secondary school English / Media teacher from Thames Valley.  I think that I had talked with her personally once or twice before this event but I sure knew all of the interesting things that happens in her classes.  She is very open with her comments on Twitter and through her blog.  What I was most interested in getting her to share was how she used Social Media in a blended format with her classes.  There were great answers and I think that the audience may have been surprised to hear that she had the luxury of an English class booked into a computer lab for an entire semester.  That opened all kinds of opportunities to move everything that she did online.  After their individual responses, I did ask both Kelly and Danika about balance and how they managed to learn these new things while at the same time having a real life.  There were interesting responses that reflected the professionalism in both of them attempting to reach every student in their charge, all the while looking for new and innovative ways to motivate.  At one point, Kelly noted that this was her hobby.  Imagine having a hobby that also turned into accelerated learning opportunities for students!

What would be an educational learning event if we didn’t have a student to talk about things?  Jaxson Khan was a very well spoken young man from a Peel Region school.  I didn’t know Jaxson going in and so decided to lob up a softball to get things started.  I had checked before he took the stage and yes, he was packing a smart phone.  What I didn’t expect was him to pull out a knapsack filled with the technology that he uses on a daily basis, including “his baby”, his Macbook Pro that he had worked for and paid by himself.  I suddenly felt badly that I wasn’t wearing a tie.  He then proceeded to share how he connects to his school network both inside the physical building and outside on the yard.  He freely talked about access to technology and how it didn’t seem to be distractive to him or his friends.  Jaxson is also a leader through the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association and talked about a recent survey of Ontario students and their attitudes towards the use of smart phones in school.  Jaxson also shared some insights about equity and even offered suggestions about how to put personal technology into the hands of all students.  Plain and simple, for me, this gentleman stole the show.  You couldn’t help but feel humbled knowing that he was speaking for thousands of students.  We owe it to the Jaxsons in Ontario to provide the very best.

Next up was a guy with a tie.  Mark Carbone is the CIO for the Waterloo Region District School Board and he had his black tie with his Twitter name silk screened on it.  Mark and I have a long history of talking and debating educational technology issues.  I know that he and his district anguished long and hard about what parts of the internet provide the best educational relevance for students.  It was this relevance that led the district to not only unblock Facebook, but to develop strategies for using that as a community learning environment within their schools.  Mark talked about the successes but also reminded us that this project also had questioners within the district, particularly as it launched.  The administrative team is behind this effort and the audience got to experience the visionary approach taken under Mark’s leadership.  If you’re interesting in providing this type of learning environment, then you should cast a look at what Waterloo is doing.

Three of the teacher federations had representation on the panel.  At the first event three years ago, Bob Fisher from OSSTF had delivered his thoughts at that time.  As Bob noted, the big concern then was whether we should be using email to communicate with students.  Things certainly have changed since then!  Bob, Joe Pece from OECTA, and Jennifer Mitchell from ETFO shared some great advice from their individual federation perspectives.  Joe cautioned the group about keeping things in perspective and under control.  Bob talked about professional boundaries which is always a concern whether you’re using technology or not.  Finally, Jennifer talked about the differences between a personal and a professional appearance on services like Facebook.  It may not have occurred to the audience that you could manage two identities for specific purposes.  All three had great reminders that educators are very visible and that people are watching what we do and how we do it online and off.  All federations regularly provide advice to members about important issues.  ETFO provided a paper handout with reference to bulletins from Toronto about how to handle yourself online.  She encouraged all to take a look through the memos.  It is good advice for everyone.  All three representatives noted that their mandate was to stand behind and support their members.  We were all reminded that it is very easy to create videos or podcasts and quickly post them online for good and sometimes not so good purposes.

Coming full circle, I had the opportunity to ask Will Richardson about transparency and the teaching profession.  Just how transparent should an educator be?  Will shared his thoughts while we checked out what things that Danika has on her class blog.  There were specific directions for students and for parents as they use her resource.  As you’ll note in the article that Will wrote recently for ASCD, he pulls no punches in his thoughts about where all learners should head in their approaches to learning that take advantage of the network.  Will loves to talk about his kids and we closed by discussing parts of their Christmas gifts – personalized domain names for his children that he hopes they take advantage of in the future.  He did share with us that they were a little more excited by the other packages under the tree!

As you can imagine, with this great discussion, we had gone beyond our one hour timeline but nobody was leaving.  The discussion was first-rate from the panelists and we opened the mics on the floor to the audience for some great questions.  One that really interested me was a question about making schools hot spots.  There was a good discussion about equitable access throughout the province for all students to bring personal devlces and engage in their learning.  After all, they use them outside school hours and it’s just part of what they do.  Mark took us on one of those cart/horse stories with the neverending question of what do you buy first – connectivity and infrastructure or the devices?  Waterloo is in the enviable position of having their technology budget topped up to cover for the Ministry cutbacks in grants to school districts.

I was so happy with the way that the panel discussion went.  All of the panelists were on their game and shared successes, cautions, and strong doses of reality.  Time and technology are such precious commodities that they have to be managed intelligently.  With all that can be done, a considered approach does need to be taken.  I think that Bob spoke for everyone when he offered the best advice of all.  With all the good that can be done,  ”Don’t Do Stupid Things”.

In closing, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation is offering a complete slate of professional development activities again this summer, including another “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century”.  I would encourage you to monitor the OTF website and take advantage of the offerings.

Rainy Days


Do you remember the old saying about saving things for rainy days?  I had the opportunity to reap the benefits of my own personal rainy day savings yesterday.

It was the Minds on Media event in Toronto.  The event was a full day of professional development for over 200 teachers.  There were no traditional sit ‘n git sessions but rather the event was an Open Court for those in attendance.  In the large ballroom, we had 8 learning sessions available for participants.  Some sessions were structured and others were truly drop in and talk about where you are in your learning and where you wish to go.  I was at a centre with @kellmoor to help consolidate the learning from the previous two days.  We thought that it would be about doing a little work with Twitter and that was that.

In fact, there was a lot to do with Twitter.  Kelly had her camera and was helping new Twitter users break out of their shell and replace the default egg icon with a real photo.  The next step was to find someone to follow.  The traditional route is to search and find people but I had a stash that helped out immensely.  It was the Ontario Educator list that I’ve been curating for a while.  There was real pleasure and surprise when people would recognize others already on the list.  So, folks, check your account today – there may be a bunch of new followers! Welcome them and follow them back.  Let’s keep this thing going.

As I check my form this morning, it’s cool to see that there were a number of people that have signed up at the LiveBinders site.  I hope that there are more great Ontario blogs to read as a consequence.

That was pretty much what my partner and I expected but we were really wrong in our expectations.

In fact, the only time throughout the day we got to talk was before the event and at lunch.  For the rest of the time, we headed in separate directions at separate tables.  I did sneak a look over once and it was classic Kelly.  She had her camera out taking pictures and had some of those at her table working their bling magic updating wikis and webpages with things that sparkled and shined.

Over at mine, we got into the whole concept of social bookmarking.  Again, my rainy day kicked in and I was able to show how Diigo and Delicious works with my own examples.  I explained how I post to Diigo which posts to Delicious which posts to my blog.  It was kind of cool to be able to explain this chain of electronic events rather than just blog about it as I’ve done recently.

Oh, blogs?  That opened the door to a comparison of platforms and we took a look at a number of different platforms.  The popular choice seemed to be WordPress.  We dug into the analytics and talked about the value of analyzing just who is visiting your site.  The question then turned to looking for something simpler.  We took a look at my Tumblr account that I’m using for my DailyShoot images.  Someone had been digging around and I had to explain what my Posterous account is all about.  That’s a place where I just tuck away links to media that I might use in presentations.  BTW, my favourite snag of all time, dedicated to that little guy who hangs out at our house some time.

The conversation just kept getting richer and richer.  We dug into wikis and tools for class organization and establishing a web presence. I had a few exemplars tucked away for that too.  There was a stumper too.  A Desire2Learn question made me “call a friend” and fortunately, there was a current DeLC in the audience and when I last looked, @techguy1717 was doing some noodle scratching as he looked at someone else’s configuration.

And, we did some video embedding and some editing and some configuring and probably a great deal more.  It was wonderfully engaging as a facilitator and so comforting to know that there are such awesome people so dedicated to getting their students connected to these powerful tools.  It’s so difficult to believe that only a few years ago, we tried to host everything on a server at the school level.

The folks that dropped by really seemed to understand the concepts and had a desire to take advantage of it.  I think that it’s a testament to the profession that there were no complains about time and effort to learn these things.  Don’t overlook the fact that this was done on a Saturday when there were a million other things that could have been done.

If people who attended truly follow though, I hope that they’ll take the opportunity to create their own resources so that they have their own rainy day examples that they can share with others and that the learning just keeps on going and going and going.

Thanks, @aforgrave – CC- BY NC SA

That’s the power of Minds on Media.  Kudos to @brendasherry and @peterskillen for keeping the pot stirred.

Don’t Do Stupid Things


Isn’t that great advice?  I received it from my parents, I’ve given it to my own children, and I was reminded about this on Thursday night.

On Thursday night, as part of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Professional Development event, I was asked to chair a panel after supper.  I agreed to do this and a great deal of preparation went in to the event.

I decided that I would script the event using a Google Document and laid out the evening as I thought that I would like it to go.  Once I was ready, I shared the document with the project manager for the event, Siria Szkurhan who went through and helped tighten the language in the questions.  We also talked on the phone to make sure that we got the maximum value from the panel of experts to make the event the most beneficial for the participants.  So that the panelists could be prepared, they were shared the agenda as well, in advance of the event.

With as big an audience as we would have (potentially over 200 educators), I felt that we also needed to have some visuals to put the questions in context and so went about doing some research that would complement the questions posed to each of the panelists.  My friend Peter Skillen volunteered to man my laptop and go from tab to tab as the event unfolded.  He did a great job and the visual helped put a context to each of the questions.  I put links to all of the resources together into a bit.ly bundle and shared it here if you’re interested.

During the panel, we encouraged the continuation of the conference backchannel on Twitter and there were many comments flying about from the tag #OTF21C.  There weren’t any specific questions that appeared but we did have microphones for the audience to take advantage of the expertise on the stage.

First up, was Will Richardson who would lead a full day on Friday.  The goal here was to set the stage for why we were here and to break the ice for the rest of the panel.  I know that Will is widely travelled and asked him to share a couple of examples of the use of Social Media that he felt was exemplary.  I liked the answer that it was a great deal easier to find uses today than it was three years ago when he first spoke at another OTF event.  And, the panel was off.

We next heard from a couple of Ontario Educators.  Kelly Moore, an elementary school teacher from Greater Essex County share some of the successes that she enjoyed as a Teacher Librarian.  She gave some examples as Peter showed off her wiki on the screen.  Through example, Kelly explained how getting online was so helpful for the students that she reached.  I did get her to explain how she used Social Media to help her differentiate the learning process for her students.  After Kelly, we moved to Danika Barker, a secondary school English / Media teacher from Thames Valley.  I think that I had talked with her personally once or twice before this event but I sure knew all of the interesting things that happens in her classes.  She is very open with her comments on Twitter and through her blog.  What I was most interested in getting her to share was how she used Social Media in a blended format with her classes.  There were great answers and I think that the audience may have been surprised to hear that she had the luxury of an English class booked into a computer lab for an entire semester.  That opened all kinds of opportunities to move everything that she did online.  After their individual responses, I did ask both Kelly and Danika about balance and how they managed to learn these new things while at the same time having a real life.  There were interesting responses that reflected the professionalism in both of them attempting to reach every student in their charge, all the while looking for new and innovative ways to motivate.  At one point, Kelly noted that this was her hobby.  Imagine having a hobby that also turned into accelerated learning opportunities for students!

What would be an educational learning event if we didn’t have a student to talk about things?  Jaxson Khan was a very well spoken young man from a Peel Region school.  I didn’t know Jaxson going in and so decided to lob up a softball to get things started.  I had checked before he took the stage and yes, he was packing a smart phone.  What I didn’t expect was him to pull out a knapsack filled with the technology that he uses on a daily basis, including “his baby”, his Macbook Pro that he had worked for and paid by himself.  I suddenly felt badly that I wasn’t wearing a tie.  He then proceeded to share how he connects to his school network both inside the physical building and outside on the yard.  He freely talked about access to technology and how it didn’t seem to be distractive to him or his friends.  Jaxson is also a leader through the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association and talked about a recent survey of Ontario students and their attitudes towards the use of smart phones in school.  Jaxson also shared some insights about equity and even offered suggestions about how to put personal technology into the hands of all students.  Plain and simple, for me, this gentlemen stole the show.  You couldn’t help but feel humbled knowing that he was speaking for thousands of students.  We owe it to the Jaxsons in Ontario to provide the very best.

Next up was a guy with a tie.  Mark Carbone is the CIO for the Waterloo Region District School Board and he had his black tie with his Twitter name silk screened on it.  Mark and I have a long history of talking and debating educational technology issues.  I know that he and his district anguished long and hard about what parts of the internet provide the best educational relevance for students.  It was this relevance that led the district to not only unblock Facebook, but to develop strategies for using that as a community learning environment within their schools.  Mark talked about the successes but also reminded us that this project also had questioners within the district, particularly as it launched.  The administrative team is behind this effort and the audience got to experience the visionary approach taken under Mark’s leadership.  If you’re interesting in providing this type of learning environment, then you should cast a look at what Waterloo is doing.

Three of the teacher federations had representation on the panel.  At the first event three years ago, Bob Fisher from OSSTF had delivered his thoughts at that time.  As Bob noted, the big concern then was whether we should be using email to communicate with students.  Things certainly have changed since then!  Bob, Joe Pece from OECTA, and Jennifer Mitchell from ETFO shared some great advice from their individual federation perspectives.  Joe cautioned the group about keeping things in perspective and under control.  Bob talked about professional boundaries which is always a concern whether you’re using technology or not.  Finally, Jennifer talked about the differences between a personal and a professional appearance on services like Facebook.  It may not have occurred to the audience that you could manage two identities for specific purposes.  All three had great reminders that educators are very visible and that people are watching what we do and how we do it online and off.  All federations regularly provide advice to members about important issues.  ETFO provided a paper handout with reference to bulletins from Toronto about how to handle yourself online.  She encouraged all to take a look through the memos.  It is good advice for everyone.  All three representatives noted that their mandate was to stand behind and support their members.  We were all reminded that it is very easy to create videos or podcasts and quickly post them online for good and sometimes not so good purposes.

Coming full circle, I had the opportunity to ask Will Richardson about transparency and the teaching profession.  Just how transparent should an educator be?  Will shared his thoughts while we checked out what things that Danika has on her class blog.  There were specific directions for students and for parents as they use her resource.  As you’ll note in the article that Will wrote recently for ASCD, he pulls no punches in his thoughts about where all learners should head in their approaches to learning that take advantage of the network.  Will loves to talk about his kids and we closed by discussing parts of their Christmas gifts – personalized domain names for his children that he hopes they take advantage of in the future.  He did share with us that they were a little more excited by the other packages under the tree!

As you can imagine, with this great discussion, we had gone beyond our one hour timeline but nobody was leaving.  The discussion was first-rate from the panelists and we opened the mics on the floor to the audience for some great questions.  One that really interested me was a question about making schools hot spots.  There was a good discussion about equitable access throughout the province for all students to bring personal devlces and engage in their learning.  After all, they use them outside school hours and it’s just part of what they do.  Mark took us on one of those cart/horse stories with the neverending question of what do you buy first – connectivity and infrastructure or the devices?  Waterloo is in the enviable position of having their technology budget topped up to cover for the Ministry cutbacks in grants to school districts.

I was so happy with the way that the panel discussion went.  All of the panelists were on their game and shared successes, cautions, and strong doses of reality.  Time and technology are such precious commodities that they have to be managed intelligently.  With all that can be done, a considered approach does need to be taken.  I think that Bob spoke for everyone when he offered the best advice of all.  With all the good that can be done,  “Don’t Do Stupid Things”.

Western RCAC Symposium 2010


Every year, the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee hosts a one day Symposium of teaching with technology for leaders in the South Western Ontario Region of Ontario.  The plans have been finalized and we’re looking forward to the day and welcoming ~400 principals and educational leaders on Thursday, December 9.

RCAC Logo

The venue is again the beautiful Lamplighter Inn in London, Ontario.  The events of the day include a couple of external perspectives through keynote addresses and then breakout sessions highlighting some of the great things that are happening in schools from Windsor to Waterloo; St. Thomas to Owen Sound.

Keynote addresses this year will focus on our students.  Ian Jukes (@ijukes) will explain why today’s students are not the children that our current schools are designed for and will offer suggestions about how to address this.  And, Angela Maeirs (@angelamaiers) will help us understand the “Habitudes” of a 21st Century Learner so that the table can be set for success for them.

Breakout sessions will provide ideas for motivation and leadership for schools showing actual practice in Ontario.

  • Literacy is not Enough; 21 Century Fluency for the Digital Age
  • iPad in the Classroom
  • Tapping into Your Curiosity, Imagination, and Expertise
  • Facebook in Waterloo Classrooms
  • A Personal Learning Network for Principals
  • Knowledge Ontario Update
  • Live Scribe Pens in the Classroom TPAC Project
  • Getting it Right: Aligning Technology Initiatives for Measurable Student Results
  • Young Minds, Digital Times
  • Getting Along Digitally – WECDSB Peer–Led Electronics Awareness Program
  • The Writing Process and Assessment with Turn-It-In.com
  • Read Alouds and the Interactive Whiteboard
  • Have you seen the OERB lately?

We are excited by the program this year and know that the audience for the day will leave inspired and motivated.  Registration is now open and complete details about the day are available on the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee website.

Where did it all start?


Blogger Paul C created an entry yesterday that asked, in general, what your life’s legacy would be.  If your life was lived between ####-####, he asks what would the dash represent?  Most people, I would suspect, would focus on things towards the end of the dash, as that’s where the culmination of your efforts would be.

Waxing philosophically, I thought that perhaps most people would have at least two start and finish dates representing not only their entire lives but also a work life.  What would you see as the dash in that era of things?  While this would apply to any profession, in or out of the house, I tend to focus on my profession when I think about these things.

One of my favourite quotes is from Henry Adams – “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”  Again, the focus is on the end of things, your legacy.  It really hit me between the eyes recently when reuniting with one of my first students.

While the end of the career is something of import, to be sure, even more vivid in memory is the beginning of my career.  Here I was, fresh from the Faculty of Education, relocated to Southwestern Ontario, living in a mouse infested rental, just turned 24 years of age and my first home room had students in Grade 12. They themselves were 18 or 19.  In many ways, the only difference between them and me was that I was wearing a tie!  I was in a great facility – we had air conditioning whereas so many other schools didn’t.  I was in one of the world’s great rooms for teaching computer science and data processing – B41 – a carpeted classroom with no windows, but had an adjoining room designed specifically for computers – glassed in with a door to close to keep the sound out.  It was the most perfect of settings.  We could develop our programs collaboratively, on paper with pseudo-code, flowcharts, etc. before ever going near a computer.

So, I threw out the question on Twitter and Facebook and just asked the simple question.  Do you remember your first classroom?  I received a number of replies.

  • Mine was room 4. I haven’t thought of that in a LONG time!
  • mine was Building 3, Rm 11
  • 114
  • 6
  • Room 142. Computer lab full of PETs and not a single window. Now I work on a laptop in a passive solar home.
  • Garfield Elementary School, 3rd grade Room 208 http://tinyurl.com/9eheec
  • Taught my 1st 3 years in Portable #3 at Philip Pocock CSS in Mississauga.
  • M6 was my first home room (stiil have the clunky heavy wooden backed chalk board duster too)
  • mine was 3-11
  • B41

Interesting collection of responses.  Thanks to those who took the time to reply.

I’d bet that, if pressed, each one of these had some great stories behind them that helped shaped the legacy that will be left at the end of their dashes.

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