This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Here’s some of the great things that caught my attention this week from the fingertips of Ontaro Edubloggers.

Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories

Sylvia Duckworth produced a very helpful instructional blog showing yet another use for Google Forms.  This time, she gives a step by step set of instructions for creating an interactive Adventure.

And, it comes as no surprise that her demonstrations include one adventure in English and another one in French!

This was but the beginning – she continues to show how to create interactive stories in Presentations, Google Docs, and YouTube.  If you’re looking for a little something different, there’s a great deal here.


The Appearance of Credibility and Other Useless Pursuits

There was a gentleman in my first school who had this assessment myth attributed to him.  Come report card time, he would call each student to stand in front of his desk, look the student up and down, and then generate a mark for the student.

Of course, that’s the stuff of staff room lore and had no basis in truth.  But, it was a good story!  Assessment and Evaluation have been hot professional development topics that have been “done” recently.

In this post, Tim King spins his own thoughts about assessment.


#ecoo13 review

You can’t beat a good blog post.  But, what is a blog anyway?

Does it have to be something that’s done in WordPress or Blogger?

Or is it the content and the message that’s important?  Of course, it is.

Lisa Noble, instead of using a traditional blogging platform, used a presentation format to share her thoughts and takeaways from the recent Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference.


The 3-D MakerBot Arrives at F.E. Madill

Very cool things are happening in Heather Durnin’s class.  She blogs about the 3-D MakerBot’s arrival and ultimate setup at the school.  If you read the blog and see how the setup was done, you’ll be confident that the “kids are alright”.  This will be a very nice addition to her classroom.  I’m jealous.

I cracked a big grin when she asked if these two printers could co-exist!


#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:


Please take a few moments to read this posts and check out all of those in the Ontario Educational Blogging community.  My collection can be found in the LiveBinder located here.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to Friday, friends, and to a quick summary of some of the things happening this week from Ontario Educators.

Revisiting a Philosophy of Education

Not many people speak publically of their philosophy of education.  At times, it may run counter to the stated direction of their employer or the latest government initiative.  Brenda Sherry takes the time to go totally public with her thoughts.  It’s a good read about her thoughts of schools, classrooms, teaching, and students.  The benefit of doing this is to make sure that everything that you do is true to your ideals.  I had a superintendent once who encouraged us to write our philosophy and to carry it everywhere we went.  In my case, it was folded into the front cover of my Franklin Binder.  His advice, and it’s still good to this day, is that when you reach a point where you need to make a decision, re-read your philosophy and see if it fits.  The logic served me well in a number of instances.

Learning Beyond Grades

I love this idea but just can’t imagine the logistics of doing this.  Tracy’s thought involved inviting parents into the classroom and throwing the whole nine yards of assessment at them.  “What if we took this grading backlash as an opportunity to invite and share with parents all the innovative and creative ways teachers are facilitating learning in the classroom? We could show parents what we mean by 21st century learning skills, show them inquiry based learning, anchor charts, outcome expectations, a level 4 rubric, collaborative and project based learning, demonstrate what creative/critical thinking and problem solving learning looks like, what self-reflection and evaluation looks like, tech savvy classrooms, the flipped classroom, classrooms that Skype with other students around the world, show them all the different formative and summative assessments used, whatever they may be.”

Would parents then want to be part of the conversation or would they run away from the classroom screaming?

Resources for Compass For Success Presentation

Mark Carbone shares his recent presentation given to the Compass for Success organization.  You miss some things not having Mark’s insights and comments as he goes along but the slides give the gist of his presentation.  He doesn’t give any indication as to how it was received.  Next time I’m with Mark, I hope that I remember to ask him!

Classroom Tadpoles Live Stream

Science comes alive in Kristen Wideen’s classroom.  The wonderment of life continues as students can check into their classroom while at home!  What a great opportunity!

Damned Statistics & Digital Meta-cognitive Opportunities

Tim King takes a look at Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (or at least the educational equivalent)

He does ask an important question.  Are we looking at all of the possible data?  If not, why not?

Please support these great bloggers by visiting their websites and viewing their entire posts (and video).  You can check out all of the great content produced by Ontario Edubloggers by visiting the LiveBinder here.  If you are an Ontario Educational Blogger and your blog isn’t there, please consider completing the form so that you can be added.

Thanks for visiting.  Have a terrific Friday and a great weekend.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was a return to school like no other this week in Ontario.  Normally, there’s a real enthusiasm to get back at it and see the excitement in students’ eyes after their break.  But, the cloud of a contract forced upon Ontario teachers robbed them from that.  Nonetheless, it didn’t stop some great blogging.

Evernote for Student Audio Feedback

When I find another Evernote fan, I’ve got to hand out the kudos!  Joan Vinall-Cox explains in this post how she met her students half way.  After all, the students had to create and share audio files with her so it only makes sense to Joan that she learned how to use audio for feedback to them.

It’s a noble approach and, on the surface, only seems to make sense.  It’s only when you realize that for each student, they create and submit one audio file.  In a class of 30, the instructor has to listen and evaluate their work and then create and send back 30 audio pieces of feedback.  It doesn’t seem fair!

What makes a great deal of sense though is to spend the time to determine how to do this efficiently.  In this post, Joan explains her process for doing it and is looking for suggestions for improvement.  I know that there are many teachers teaching online who could a) either benefit from Joan’s post or b) offer suggestions to improve efficiency.

As you can see, she’s done a nice job with screen grabs, arrows, and description about how to do each step.

Reflection: on entering the library

One of the joys about blogging is that it gives you a platform to say just about anything you want and you’re not censored by anyone else!  It’s your own personal soapbox and you have only yourself to please with the results.

You’ve got to love it when someone climbs on their soapbox to proclaim to anyone who cares to read “I love my job”.  I’ve gotten to know Alanna King, “that quirky girl with all those crazy ideas”.  What better attributes to have for a teacher-librarian.  You just know that walking into her resource centre is going to be different.  I know that it can be a challenge at times – “you don’t have students of your own” is thrown at teacher-librarians all the time.

The real answer is “you’re right; I have all the students in this school AND all the teaching staff”.  What better position to be the force for change and to teach the latest and greatest of technology and research techniques.

In her post, Alanna elaborates on just appeals to her about her job.  It’s a good read.

Reading is More Than Just Reading

David Fife took on the statement that “students can’t read” in a post where he shared some of his experiences with Literature Circles.  Many of his observations echo conversations that I’ve had with educators in the past.  He shares the roles for the process in the report.

I really like the concept of the tape recorders on the table and revisiting the discussions to see just how deeply the discussions go.

Activity: Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing with Decimals

When I taught Grade 9 mathematics, I used an activity similar to this.  Rather than recycle all the flyers that showed up in the blue bags at the end of the driveway, they can form a resource for authentic calculations.  Things like working within a budget to feed yourself or your family.  It’s a fun activity and I was always amazed the appreciation for just how much it costs to feed a family.  Of course, you then extend it to include a vehicles, gas, entertainment, rent, … yep, it costs a lot of money to make ends meet.

So, reading A Fly on the Classroom Wall’s latest post had me smiling and remembering the activity.  The first two topics were pretty typical “My Favourite Meal” and “A Birthday Dinner”.  It was the third one that really had me going!

I thought this was a really interesting twist on the concept.  One could only imagine the conversation that this generated!

It might be a good idea to carefully check any end of the year cookie gifts!

Stellar work without a bonus?

Tim King’s latest post is worth reading at least twice.

One of my favourite quotes I’ll attribute to Wayne Hulley “Nobody wakes up wondering how they’re going to screw up today”.

Certainly that applies to teachers.  Teachers lie awake at night going through the next day in their minds, visualizing their lessons plans, trying to determine how to reach all students, hoping that there are enough supplies, praying that all the computers will work and that the internet will be good, …

It was different going to work this past Monday.  Tim shared his thoughts Sunday night.

If you’re a teacher, you need to read the post for confirmation about why you entered the profession and just what keeps you going back.

If you’re one of the idiots that are using social media and newspaper website as a way to spew your poison, you need to read and realize that those charged with the education of your children are passionate about what they’re doing.

All that they’re asking for in return is a little respect.  Enacting and then revoking a law is the ultimate show of lack of respect.

Read all of these posts at the links above and dig into all the Ontario Edublogs here.

This just in….

Hot off the Twitter wire, Angela Harrison pointed me to a new entry in her “We Can See” project.

In this case…

We Can See Snow!

Ms. Fynes AM and PM Kindergarten friends shared a look at their Mississauga schoolyard after the snow.  The results are in book form.  Click each of the images for a larger, readable one.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight some of the great content that Ontario bloggers are creating.  It’s not that I’ve given up reading the blogs – I still enjoy them daily – but I took the time to do some other Ontario things.

The list of Ontario blogs that I know about is available here through this Livebinder, which by the way is a great way to read them all.  All of the links take you to the blog embedded in the Livebinder so you don’t get lost.  In addition to the list of bloggers, there are also two list of Ontario Twitter users that you may find helpful.  List 1 has 499 people and List 2 has 38 and growing.  Recently, I’ve been spotting a number of new names and I’ve been adding them to the lists as I find them.  So, don’t let anyone tell you that nobody uses Twitter!  If you’re an Ontario educator and want your blog listed or your Twitter name added to the lists, just go here and complete the form.

Here’s a bit of what I had the pleasure to read this week.


How to Share a Dropbox Folder in an iPad Classroom

If you’ve heard about Dropbox but are in need of a little inspiration and a tutorial to get you started, head over to Kyle Pearce’s blog.  He’s written a combination tutorial/editorial about how to use it and, at the same time, why you should be using it.  He’s done a great job with text, screen captures, and embedded movies to give a complete guide.

If I could offer another read, I recently wrote a post called Deja Drop.  It extends a previous post I had made about using Dropbox as a hand-in folder and offers ideas about how to use it with an iPad now that iOS6 has been released.

I totally agree with Kyle – there are so many advantages to using Cloud storage and you can’t beat the feature set of Dropbox.


An Teaching Out Loud Exclusive: I’m A Big Boy Now!

There are three great ingredients to look for when reading a blog.

  1. Good news
  2. Cryptic messages
  3. Humour

Stephen Hurley’s recent post had them all.

In Ontario, there seems to be a scorecard passed around educators to let you know when someone is approaching the 85 factor.  Stephen rationalizes some of his personal thoughts in a post that includes all the successful ingredients.


Between a rock and a hard place

I’m really bad at reading blogs and not commenting immediately.  For that, I apologize to all whose blogs I have enjoyed but neglected to leave a post.  But Tim King’s recent post struck a nerve with me.  How many times is the computer science teacher weighed down with the responsibility of being the go-to person in the school when something computerish breaks?  I know that it happened to me many times and I think that’s why I found my head nodding as I read Tim’s post.  My scenario was like this – I was in the middle of dealing with a student’s problem and a colleague came between the student and me mid-conversation, looked me straight in the eye and complained “My printer doesn’t work”.

In the rush to have everyone class computer savvy, students and teachers are at times, pushed into the deep end in implementation without learning to float first.  Thank goodness for the computer science teacher.  I’ll just go bug him.

And yet, we still do it.  Are computer science teachers just that noble?


Minds on Math – Learning as a Community

In September, I had the chance to interview Shannon Smith when she was just a Newby in her role as principal.  One of the things that we discussed was her use of social media and how would it extend to her new school and its community.  She promised that she would be very transparent with parents, staff, and students.

Can it work when the day-to-day workload kick in?

Shannon’s school recently had a professional learning day and they were “all-in” for mathematics.  It would have been easy for her to have blogged “We did math stuff”.  Instead, she shared a complete set of details about what happened on that day.

I really like it.

If I’m a parent in that community, I know that the staff is dedicated and now I know what might be happening in my child’s math class.  It’s a great read and if any other principal is wondering what sharing with the community could be (other than when the next hot dog day is…), this is a perfect model.


The Trustee Dilemma

Trustees are people too.  In theory, they make the decisions that set governance and policy with school districts.  As you know, many things have been thrust upon local school districts by the Ministry of Education this fall.  The one voice that we seldom hear when it comes to this situation is that of the individual trustee.

We hear from teachers, we hear from the federations, we hear from the government, we hear from the school district, we certainly hear from newspaper reporters, and of course from the public that reply to their opinions.

But what about the lonely trustee sitting around the table at board meetings?

Robert Hunking took the time to share his thoughts about what’s happening in Ontario now.  For a completely different perspective, you should take the time to read this post.


This was a fun post to write.  I get a rush reading the great things that Ontario Educators write about.  Please check out the above and all the great things happening and made available through the LiveBinder.