Time to blog

What if the industrial revolution is about to trickle away to an end when the boomer generation dies off?  What if the last few generations of human were special because they had just the perfect combination of boredom, needs, and ingenuity to stimulate intense creativity?  What if that mix of genetics and environment is going extinct due to the very changes it brought?  What if it was no longer the lone designer or small team working in relative isolation, studying everything and working furiously towards a goal, a veritable vision that would bring further progress?  What if the only way to work out improvements to society and our lives will be through communicating our individual ideas to the world in bursts and the responses?

If this is the case, then all the children must learn to blog and respond to blogs thoughtfully. This form of communication will help them to learn from each other and together. To have online conversations via blog and comment is the way we will bring empathy and understanding to our world of machines and industry. This will produce a new generation of global citizens who are not merely users of technology and consumers of information, rather the progenitors of a super human neural net  or Collective Consciousness. Each of our brains connecting with each other multiplies the power of our ability to think making the resulting process million fold more powerful than a single thinker could ever be.

This is the true power of ‘social’ media if we use it with care. This is why I have decided to blog and tweet and why I am teaching my students to blog.


Five things we need to stop pretending in order to improve education:

1.  Stop pretending that it’s okay for 30+ nearly adult sized bodies to sit at desks all day in a regular sized classroom.  The room starts to stink after an hour, the blood pools in the feet of the students, and it’s all downhill from there.  We need new schools with an inspirational new design with large, airy, natural light filled rooms that facilitate inquiry, motion, and flow.  

2.  Stop pretending that parents have the knowledge and skills to provide proper nutrition, good role modelling, and guidance on good study habits and organization.  I hear teachers blame parents for not teaching a lot of skills that we don’t have time to teach because of the density of the curriculum.  However, I think it’s time we stop blaming them and start picking up the slack if we want to prevent the problem from perpetuating.  We can’t teach the parents these skills so we need to teach them to the students so they will have a chance to pass them on to their kids.  And if this means that less of the curriculum gets covered, then so be it.  Working parents spend precious few hours with their children so it is unreasonable for us to expect them to have time to teach a lot of what stay at home parents made it their business to teach in the past.  

3.  Stop pretending that our profession in Ontario isn’t ridiculously over regulated.  QECO, Ministry, Board, Union, OCT, EQAO, and OPSBA.  Layers upon layers of bureaucracy to regulate a highly independent group of skilled professionals who do not require micromanagement and who work in relative isolation, is overkill in the extreme.  Every one of these regulatory bodies has a finger in the pie which all take away from what we have to spend on actual education.  All these entities and we can work without a contract for months on end because they can’t agree and so students, teachers, and society should suffer for it!  

4.  Stop pretending that creativity isn’t the most important element we need in society.  Creativity is treated by too many educators like its a cherry on top of the cake when it’s actually the fire that heats the oven that bakes the cake.  The possibilities for boundless creativity with technology makes this truly exciting.  We need to teach the students how to use the tools and then watch what they do with them rather than telling them what to do with them.  Creativity needs to be made the essence of all education and a teacher’s job should be to fuel that fire.  

5. Stop pretending that we can be hypocrites and still be effective.  As teachers, it is our duty to be good role models for the students.  This means living up to the expectations we set for them.  If we expect them to participate in gym, then so should we.  If we expect them to listen, then so should we.  If we expect them to eat healthy, get enough sleep, be on time, be organized, be kind, be considerate, be open-minded, be interested in learning, etc., then so must we be.  

I could go on but I have to clean my house.  These are just the first five to pop into my head.  Thank you to @hpennie for tagging me.  In return I tag @teachontheverge and @mraspinall.


The iPads are coming!  The iPads are coming!  I’ve been madly researching suitable iPad apps and techniques ever since I signed up to borrow a set of 15 to use with my core French classes.  It’s a bit daunting to consider how to best use the brief 30 minutes a day with each class and still manage to coordinate partners, safety, appropriate use policies, and lessons, on top of curriculum.  In fact, this is a struggle without the iPads.  My hope is that the iPads will breathe new life into these rushed and boisterous classes.  I teach a triple split of grade 4, 5, & 6 with 32 students in the very last 30 minute period before busses whisk them home.  

The bundle of joy is coming tomorrow and I will configure them for Tuesday deployment after the Easter long weekend.  I compiled a list of plausible FSL activities with an emphasis on cooperative and oral rich opportunities for practise and assessment.  Once I have tried a few, I will have to report back on my findings.  Here is a list of what I have so far:

French as a Second Language Class Learning Activities involving iPads 

Activities are listed in alphabetical order in the format 
strand: description; adaptation or extension

Adobe Voice – Show Your Story by Adobe [ https://appsto.re/ca/7vp0Y.i ]https://appsto.re/ca/7vp0Y.i[ fcp://@rainbowschools.ca,%231015407/Mailbox/Link to App Store/ca/7vp0Y.i ]
speaking, listening, reading,  writing: students record their voices and insert pictures and text to complement their message; pass the iPad around and have different students add a slide in their turn.

BrainPop Francais
Listening, reading:  students watch the French video of the week and answer the quiz questions together; they may take a screen shot of the quiz results and submit this to the teacher.  

Listening, writing:  students take turns trying to spell the words they hear and then review the words they studied; play in teams or partners; two play modes.

Reading, writing: students write a scrambled sentence using text boxes with each word on its own page and airdrop the file to another group who will put the words in the correct order; students can embellish the text, then record themselves saying the sentence, add images to convey the meaning and share with the class.

4 Images: Quel est le mot en Français? by Second Gear Games [ https://appsto.re/ca/atO3K.i ]https://appsto.re/ca/atO3K.i[ fcp://@rainbowschools.ca,%231015407/Mailbox/Link to App in App Store3K.i ]
speaking, reading, writing: students work in teams to correctly spell mystery words to earn points

Speaking, listening, reading: practice target vocabulary with a partner.

Sock Puppets
speaking, listening: students record their own voices having conversations with a partner

Speaking, listening: students record themselves asking a video question and the next students record a response.

Speak & Translate
speaking, reading:  students speak or read French into the translator to see if their pronounciation is accepted correctly by the computer.  

Speaking, reading, writing: students take a photo of their work and record themselves reading the contents; students add their voices to describe a selected background image.

3 Letters
Reading:  students on teams take turns competing the word families using the letters provided to earn points for their team; provide access to the Internet on another tablet at the same time so teams can search for answers in the dictionary

Do you have any to add?


I would like to thank my #edtech Twitter friends for inspiring (perhaps it is no coincidence that the word spring can be found in the word inspiring and today is a beautiful spring-like day after an exceedingly bitter cold winter) me to commence a BLOG:  this blog.  This is my second blog.  I started one many years ago for fun and lost interest upon the arrival of my first offspring which had a tsunami like affect on most of my hobbies (such as cooking, dancing, attending parties with friends, reading books, and travelling).  Fortunately, I have been able to successfully infuse my most practical hobby, using technology (and hoarding stationery which I have no intention of using – perhaps that’s more of a fetish than a hobby), in to my every day life.

Recently I have become particularly infatuated with the concept of peer pressure.  Having two kids entering the teen years may have something to do with this.  I have become continuously aware of how peer pressure is not just a teen phenomenon.  Pay attention to the casual conversations of adults and you may discover how difficult it is for a person to politely disagree no matter how trivial the instance.  It amazes me that people will agree with each other on topics that are utterly meaningless and hardly worthy of breathe.  For example, someone will make yet another a complaint about how incessantly long and cold the winter has been.  And others will feel compelled to chime in with their ‘I know what you mean’s and their ‘I know, right?’s before you can shake a solstice date in their general direction.

I should clarify that I have been making a concerted effort to be less negative and to refrain from entering into drawn out moaning sessions regardless of how much milk has spilled.  Perhaps this has made me more acutely aware of the transgressions of others against my own inclinations.  Whatever the impetus, the result is that I have realized more intimately how strong is the ‘urge to herd’ within us humans.

Rather than fighting this, I thought it would make more sense to take my peer pressure from people who have garnered some of my respect.  On an aside, I used to say that my dream job would permit me to work with people who respected me; now my dream job is working with people whom I respect.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter have blogs and today I read some posts specifically urging teachers to write blogs.  SO HERE IT IS!  And thank you for the pressure. I intend on tracking my musings on this process of tech-ifying my teaching even further.  I’m doing this for me.  If you are interested in having an argument (not just a mundane disagreement or a catty contradiction, mind you but an actual argument), please write me.  My self-assigned nickname is “Bickerson” for a reason.