That’s been around for years


How many times have you heard that?

And then maybe you went and Googled it to see if it was true or not?

I like stuff like that. Often, it’s a never ending reminder that there were some very clever people inventing things a loooooong time ago.

So, that’s why I found this story intriguing and had to go through each of them and check them out. From Popular Mechanics, it’s a listing of the best inventions from the last 65 years.

If you were born in 1956, for example, what was a key invention from that year?

……

……

If you said “Hard Drive'”, you’d be correct.

Wow! Who knew? On the consumer end, it wasn’t until my third or fourth home computer before I had one with a hard drive installed. Then, if memory serves me correctly, it was a 5 MB drive for my TRS-80. Fact check here. It sure was better and more reliable than my dual floppy disk drives!

So, check things out. You might want to check what major invention came out in your birth year. How about your students? How about a timeline for students from their birth to present? How about their parents?

That won’t make you feel old at all!

Care to share the invention of your birth year?

I’ll tag this post with both humour and inspiration. I see a big of both.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy First Friday of 2019.

Please read and enjoy this selection from Ontario Edubloggers.


Chocolate by Trial and Error

Sheila Stewart writes a post that will bring out your inner Julia Child. It’s a real departure from her regular posts – the previous one was about Effective School Councils – but still an interesting read.

As we conclude the holidays, we might be looking back at the great (and sweet) treats from the past couple of weeks.

If you’re looking for something to bake this weekend, and you enjoy chocolate, Sheila shares her recipe for a Chocolate Mint Pie.


Hack the Classroom 2018

There are people’s favourite venues for showing off the latest and greatest things that kids can do. Unlike exhibitor sessions with professionals and pre-planned scripts, it’s always interesting to see what students can actually do when you give them the right tools.

As Zélia Capitão-Tavares notes …

WE need to create opportunities to immerse students within the Global Competencies to develop deep learning through experiences that integrate creativity, inquiry and entrepreneurship.

What leapt from this post as interesting, innovative, and true to Zélia’s premise above was a group of students developing games that students in the Deaf & Hard of Hearing classes could enjoy. The Micro:Bit was the tool of choice.

When you think about how much games depend upon background music and audio feedback to players, I’m sure that the students the games were designed for felt a great sense of being included.


The best present is one you can give year round

From the Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning Blog, Will Gourley shares an inspirational message for 2019.

Through the holiday season, there are charities and causes at every turn using the holiday season as inspiration for garnering support. Many try to get enough to sustain them through the upcoming year.

Although, traditional presents are nice, it has been my experience to savour the moments when we are able to strengthen our class community through quality time together. Long after the sweetness of a treat or period off for a movie has been forgotten, students remember being part of something special that benefitted others.

So, what would be the “something special”?

Read the post to get some ideas and inspiration that are both timely and most definitely worthwhile and would be well appreciated.


Fill Your Own Cup With Gratitude

Before reading Ramona Meharg’s blog post, I might have offered February as being the toughest of months in education but she builds the case for November. The holiday-less month.

Through a series of events, you can’t help but show empathy for what she describes and it might well be that you are/were in the same case.

Ramona’s solution was to reach out to her Marigold for support.

and a cup of tea?

If you have experienced the same thing and can offer a solution or just to share a story, Ramona’s looking for it in her comments.


An Oscar-esque thank you speech type of blog post

Or, maybe you could make an Oscar type speech to appreciate those things that have gone right and those who have been so supportive like Melanie Lefebvre did.

The big message in this post is the “autonomy” that educators have. Sure, everyone has curriculum and standards and content and … that have to be covered. That’s why we have courses and grades. But, the “how” of doing it honours the autonomy concept. That makes teaching the greatest of professions.

In the post, Melanie acknowledges …

  • Dean
  • JACS team?
  • IT Department
  • The Hub?
  • Health and Safety
  • Maintenance Team
  • Library
  • P and VP of Academics

as contributing to her success in the beginning of this new career for her.

It’s probably a good activity for all to do with a personal reflection that nobody can do it alone in education.

In typical Oscar fashion, after a while the music starts!


Making the Shift Toward Tracking Observations

Here’s advice from the bottom of the post from Heather Theijsmeijer …

This may feel like a lot of work, however keep in mind that not only does this process get easier over time (remember how much longer it took you to set a test when you first started teaching?), but the point of assessing observations is that it can replace a product-based assessment, on the road to triangulating sources of evidence. This is not meant to be done in addition to your current stack of marking. 

Hands up if you remember the days when final grades were calculated and assigned through three tests and a final examination.

That pretty much includes anyone who ever went through the school system 10-20 years ago and then to university. I still remember a picture from a university newspaper showing hundreds of students at desks in the gym writing final exams and the caption “Here, you’re just a number”.

How things have changed and we now focus on daily observations and progression towards understanding course expectations. In this post, Heather offers some suggestions, including a link to a previous post, as inspiration. Yes, there are brand names included but it shouldn’t take a huge leap to recognize that there are other products that you have access to that will have the same or better functionality.


Addition of double digit numbers

What if you threw a party and nobody came?

That was my first reaction when I read this post from Lisa Corbett.

She had her class all set and prepped to move along to number lines.

The best laid plans…

As I walked around I could see lots of kids with lots of right answers but no number lines. “How are they doing this??” I wondered. So I asked. And I was amazed! So many of them were using the mental math strategy of splitting. They thought about how many ones there were in each number, and how many tens were in each number, then they found a total.

I hope that she felt good that they had mastered their previous learning and felt confident enough to use it in this new situation.

So, what do you do?

To use a football analogy, you drop back 10 and punt.

You’ll have to click through to see Lisa’s professional judgement click in!


What a lovely collection of blog posts to finish off the Christmas Break. Please take the time to click through and enjoy them. And, drop off a comment or two if you’re so inspired.

If you’re an Ontario Edublogger and not on the Livebinder, please click through and add the link to your blog.

Then, follow the great bloggers references in this post.

This post appears at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you found it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

About Negative Behaviour


I got a little pushback today when I shared this article via Twitter.  “How To Address Negative Student Behavior in 1:1 Classrooms“.

In the article, the author Keith Sorensen did a nice job of identifying and describing potential areas for behaviour issues.

  1. Technology becomes the distraction;
  2. Distracting other students;
  3. Difficulty evaluating information;
  4. Less interest in the class;
  5. Loss of sleep;
  6. Increased incidences of bullying.

All of these are serious areas of concern, to be sure.

The pushback I got was that the readers didn’t feel that there were enough solutions offered.  So, I’d like to take a few moments here to try and share my thoughts about it.

Turn back the clock to the days when the only technology in your school was the computer lab.  At 10:30 on Wednesday mornings, it might have been your class’ “turn” in the lab.  So, you’d line up and head to the lab to do computer stuff.  It’s been my observation that it really was seldom that something curricularly relevant was ready to be done on computer at 10:30 on Wednesday.  Hence, it became a “computer class” that focused on learning some skill that was probably totally unrelated to anything else that might be happening in the class.  Or, even worse, a chance to play some sort of mindless computer game.

Fortunately, as educators, we matured in our use of the technology that was available and made those excursions to a computer lab somewhat more meaningful.  It got much better with the one or two computers located permanently in the classroom.  Even better, when laptop technology came along and you could use the technology when it was important, not when you were scheduled – and, at your desk.  A superintendent that I worked with had a wonderful phrase that has hung with me – it was called the “technology at the point of instruction”.  Even that became more descriptive when we really understood what was happening when we changed it to “technology at the point of learning”.

We’ve come a long way, getting better and maturing with each iteration.

But the 1:1 or BYOD classroom is a whole different thing.  We’ve got to refine our learning again.

As long as the technology is imported to the classroom or a student has to physically move to a computer, there is an element of control over the whole process.  But, 1:1 or BYOD takes all of that away.

I’m a firm believer that a total rethink of things needs to be done when you move to 1:1 or BYOD.  In fact, I would suggest that the issues outlined in the original article are the result of putting 1:1 or BYOD in the classroom and, at the same time, not really changing what’s happening there.  If students are bored and unmotivated before, you’ve just given them another outlet to demonstrate this boredom.

When I look at successful 1:1 or BYOD implementations, the environment changes.  Students take control of the learning with the use of the technology.  It is no longer an add-on that tries to make the same old, same old appealing.  When that happens, and it’s not easy – nobody is saying this is easy – the behaviours get minimized.

Successful teachers have a way to make this happen.  And yet, there are times when the 1:1 or BYOD is not appropriate.  Just like the old fashioned instruction – put your pencils down and listen, the successful teacher finds a way to make it happen.  One unique way of making this happen was to create a penalty box on the desktop with strips of masking tape.  When technology is not to be used, it goes into the penalty box and alternative class activity takes place.  A quick teacher glance over the room ensures that the technology is where it is supposed to be.

My mantra for these times is “don’t do things differently, do different things”.

Done properly, I think that the issues raised in the first four points can be at least minimalized.  Honestly, I don’t think that there is any solution that solves it completely.  Anyone who claims so should be pushed for their thoughts.

As for the fifth point, now we’re getting into the realm of parenting.  There was a great article the other day.  It takes the concept of the penalty box to the home! Does every family need a tech basket?

The sixth point is probably the most serious and everyone is searching for a solution.  I often wonder if part of the problem is that the person being bullied is ashamed or embarrassed to find themselves in the situation of being bullied and consequently just doesn’t want to admit it.  We’ve got to change that mindset and make it acceptable to come forth and ask for help.  Kids Help Phone is a great step in the right direction.  That should be the first thing that a student see when she/he logs onto a school computer to serve as a reminder that she/he is not alone.

There’s my reaction to the pushback that I received.  I’d be very interested in your thoughts.

Technology Integration Matrix


The Technology Integration Matrix is an interesting resource.  For the experienced teacher who is using technology well, it offers a confirmation that things are done well.  For the teacher struggling to engage students through the use of technology in lessons, it offers a world of ideas from the simple to the rather complex.  For the new teacher, or especially teacher candidates, it offers a complete interative overview of what should be, might be, could be…

Across the top, levels of sophistication include Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion, and Transformation.

Each of these levels deal with a type of technology use:  Active, Collaborative, Constructive, Authentic, and Goal Directed.

As I worked my way through the matrix, I found myself agreeing with a great deal of it.  At the same time, I pictured people by name who I knew would argue, not on the concept, but on the label attached.

Regardless, if you’re a technology using educator, a person who supports others using or trying to use technology, or a person who just wants to glean more ideas, it’s time well spent to work your way through the resource.  There are some great ideas along with movie clips to demonstrate the concepts.

Share it with your colleagues.  It may just be enough to push them to the next level of sophisticated use.

 

About Useless Gadgets


This article appeared in my Zite news feed this morning.  “Schools ‘wasting £450m a year’ on useless gadgets“.

Those of us whose job it was involved acquiring technology and helping classroom teachers use technology effectively live in dread of titles like that.  The really offensive term to me was “useless gadgets”.  For as long as I’ve been using technology in education, I’ve used just a whack of gadgets.  I wonder — what makes a gadget useless?

Reading the article from the Telegraph, they specifically identify tablet computers, computer software, and electronic whiteboards.  I  kept reading to see if the author actually would explain why the gadgets were labelled as “useless”.

I’ve certainly been involved with computer software all my career, even serving terms on the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Software Committee.  In that role, I’ve worked with many teachers helping them understand the functionality of the software and where it fits into the Ontario Curriculum.  The OSAPAC Committee, in fact, has a sub-group whose job it is to identify Curriculum Connections so that teachers using the software could get a sense of where it fits into the big scheme of things.  Within my own district, I was part of a team that rolled out IWBs to the system.  In our case, I had the eyes, ears, and candor of a group of Computers in Education School Contacts, a small but dynamic team of Early Years Literacy teachers, and a spectacular teacher-librarian who got the original SMART Board, nicknamed it “Big Bertha” and used it to raise her library program to a new level.  Even today, these leaders work with their colleagues to ensure ongoing implementation success.

Any time I talk about technology, one of the things I stress is that technology does allow us to do things differently but more importantly, it allows us to do different things.  In my mind, that’s the ultimate promise of technology and why we spend so much money, time, and should devote a significant effort in acquisition decisions and implementation once the technology has been purchased.

The article, in particular, takes some pretty tough shots at the implementation of tablet technology.  But, as I sit back and think, the one piece that’s missing in all of the scenarios that are described is the lack of support for teachers as they try to use them.  I can speak with confidence that the job of a teacher is absolutely jam-packed.  From knowing the curriculum, to differentiating for student success, to assessment and evaluation, to a changing curriculum in a changing world, to pressure from administration to raise test scores, to dealing with individual students’ social issues.  The absolute last thing, and probably the dumbest educational move, is to buy a bunch of technology and drop it off expecting it to perform all of the promised results.  It’s a formula for failure.

And yet, the article would have you believe that the technology is useless and that teachers are somehow pulled in to using it.  There is no mention at all about how much support was given or whether there’s an implementation plan or just who a teacher is to turn to for answers to questions.

I wish that the article had dug deeper.  I think more details about the actual implementation plan are needed before any piece of technology can be labelled “useless”.

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Nimble Classrooms


For a great read, check out “How Will Classrooms Change With the Use of Computers?

One of the quotes really resonated with me.

“It’s going to be more about teachers having nimble classrooms.”

To me, this means a number of things and many teachers are embracing it already although they may not have considered their classes “nimble”.

I’m seeing:

  • No need for a traditional computer lab which conveys the notion that computers are a distinct subject;
  • Portable computers that are invited into the learning environment at the point of instruction;
  • Engaging students in learning activities that are truly different – not just the same old stuff transposed to a computer;
  • Considering smart phones, tablets, etc. as just another computer;
  • Conversations within and without the classroom with teacher as guide not as the dispenser of information;
  • Creating new content to address expectations where the old content just doesn’t cut it;
  • Students confident in their abilities so that they become the experts and geniuses in a subject area;
  • A blend of face to face and online learning experiences becoming the norm;
  • A classroom that can be reorganized on a moment’s notice as required;
  • Traditional literature pieces replaced by multimedia including podcasts, videos, broadcasts, hangouts;
  • Classrooms complete with a suite of tools where students elect to use the most appropriate one;
  • Students not only using the technology but can describe critically why they choose to use it;
  • This point intentionally left blank – if a classroom is truly nimble, this list should never be complete.

What does “nimble classroom” mean to you?

Unplug? I hope not


 

Many thanks to @sheilaspeaking for proofreading and making suggestions for today’s post.

—–

I read this article three times yesterday morning during my reading routine before I elected to share it with my followers on Twitter and Facebook.  From TheStar.com, “Let’s unplug the digital classroom” is one professor’s thoughts about the presence of technology in higher education.

My first thought came in the format of a silly tweet that I had sent some time back asking people to refer to this resource “When someone whines about the good ol’ days in education”.  I had no idea when I shared that message just to share a smile with friends that it might actually be used in a serious blog post.

I find this statement so telling. “Almost all professors use computers, projectors, Power Point presentations and the Internet as part of their lectures”  His next sentence doesn’t deserve comment.  But the first, descriptive statement brings back memories of sitting in a lecture hall of 500 being treated as a learning vessel that could somehow be filled up just by the presence of the professor who sat at the front of the hall clicking his way through a canned lecture.

I didn’t have Facebook or a smartphone at the time but my mind managed to wander all the same and my notebooks were full of doodles at the end of the course.

In fact, I would suggest that my marks in university courses were directly related to the size of the classroom and the ability of the professor and teaching assistants to engage me in meaningful, active learning activities.

Elementary and secondary schools have fought this battle.  Students today own and understand different technologies, live in a different world, and have a different set of passions and social awarenesses.  Like it or not, you just cannot ignore it.  The author makes comments about the futurists who haven’t been in a university class for years.  I would ask if he had been in a secondary school classroom to see where his future students live and learn.  Here you will find a decidedly different approach to learning and teaching.  Students engage in smaller groups, invite technology to the journey, have and are encouraged to have different passions to pursue, and enjoy the educational benefits of education that respects personalization.  One size does not fit all here.

Thank goodness, we don’t have to dig through the “bowels of the university library” only to find that the one book is already checked out.  Today’s teacher-librarians are among the most progressive of educators.  They value the benefits of the research process and have updated it to leverage the technologies, and yes, student owned technologies, for the best results.

One of the most promising thing that technology does is provide a level and equitable playing field for students.  Not all schools are able to offer all courses to students and online learning now makes that possible.  How can we deny a student the opportunity to take a course prescribed by the Ontario curriculum just because they attend a school that doesn’t offer it?

Is it perfect?  I would question anyone who says that we’ve found all the answers.  But, I’ll throw my support behind anyone who is at least trying to meet students part way and recognize that the days that students sit facing forward, transcribing the wisdom of a single source in the room, and walk away filled with all the knowledge that they can absorb are long gone.