Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2010

Changing directions

(I thought I should squeeze this in given a link from a popular blog, Continuous Everywhere.)
I closed off my teaching this June for a year; in the fall I'll be returning to life as a PhD student at OISE, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. I'll be working in the Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development program -- two big areas of interest for me. Stay tuned for updates.
I'll hopefully have considerably more time to write & reflect. The only external responsibilities I've kept are the Auxiliary, the ECOO conference in November and PCMI, of course. For me, that's not a lot. And I'll be commuting in on the GO train (public transit) so there will be about 90 minutes of downtime each day in which to put pen to paper (electronic, that is).
I'm looking forward to have the time to "think deeply of simple things". My focus will be on teacher development, an interest developed over my time with the folks at…

Made the paper!

Okay, I didn't quite make it into print... but the electronic version isn't half-bad. I was working on the waterfront when, during one of those brief-but-violent thunderstorms, a sign fell onto the walkway, narrowly missing a number of pedestrians. So I got to stand in the rain to make sure no one else would get hurt until they managed to get the sign removed and the other reinforced.
Working with the police is a great experience 95% of the time. Even getting soaked in the rain just standing there has a charm of its own although most of the time it's just helping the public with questions and concerns. Halton is a pretty safe area so we don't have the problems of major urban centres; most evenings when I'm on duty the computer lists only a few calls through the night. The remaining 5% of the time is both depressing and disappointing -- people in serious trouble. But, we're there to help regardless of the perceptions of those involved. My only regret is …

Where is everyone?

While I admit to being quickly on board most things (except the iPad, that is... that's a tool for my 65-year-old Mom) I'm disheartened by the slow pick up of online learning networks (via Twitter, Ning, Facebook, etc) by my colleagues. We're a 1:1 school and the faculty are pretty comfortable with technology -- but I see very few of them (well, okay, maybe 3 out of 100) that are actively engaged online. Is it really just an issue of time, given that independent school teachers have a very long academic & athletics day followed by the same prep time all teachers require? Are they unaware of the benefits of connecting and collaborating online? Or does that beg the question?

Conway's Law

I ran across this a few weeks ago; now I've got some time to put some thoughts down:

Conway's Law
...organizations which design systems (in the broad sense used here) are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. Link

Now, this isn't a law like Murphys; it actually has some basis in research. Conway was talking about computer systems but it seems to be applicable to larger systems. What ramifications does this law have for educational change? Given that communication in most schools is (strictly) hierarchical, moving down from above, are we caught in a design loop that will only reinforce a teaching environment that is predominately lecture based, even if it's online? Although we've been a 1:1 environment for ten years, most of us are still teacher-centric, eyes-forward in the classroom. Is Christensen (from Disrupting Class) right in that we have to start new schools rather than try to change existing…

But I like the cookie...

One of Seth Godin's recent blog posts (The Reality of Digital Content - lose the cookie, lose the fortune) has been reverberating in my mind over the past week.
What happens when the people with great ideas start organizing for themselves, start leading online tribes, start creating micro products and seminars and interactions that people are actually willing to pay for? ...
I have the challenge of working on the Editorial Panel for an academic journal -- while I enjoy the reading and editing of articles and the community of professionals that surround the journal, I've found the process of acceptance, publication, distribution and commentary to be out of date. My greatest fear is that, as Godin mentions, the journal will be rendered irrelevant in an environment of PLNs (through blogs, twitter, nings, webinars, etc) developed spontaneously by teachers who see a need, share ideas and engage in deep discussion of pedagogy, content and technology. But, in order to remain tight c…

PodcampTO 2010

Another little conference this weekend; close to home, fortunately.It turned out to be a lot of same-old, same old though:The powers-that-be don’t want us to use social media, or if they do, they haven’t a clue how to do it they just want a Twitter account or Facebook page.There are huge issues with privacy.We’re not really sure of the effectiveness of the money we’re investing but very vocal people tell us it’s working.Interestingly enough, this wasn’t an education conference; it was for entrepreneurs and marketing folk.PodCamp Toronto 2010 was an un-conference in which people put themselves down as presenters on whatever topic they wanted and the costs were picked up by generous sponsors such as Rogers and GM.A call-out to Rogers for setting up a recharging station for devices – a nice touch if you forgot your charger at home.What I took away, and this is a big tent, was that businesses are very serious about making money using social media, that they desperately want to get at the …

My Olympics Contribution

Fortunately, we're doing slopes in our MPM1D course and I knew I'd be away for Educon for a day so I continued the adaptation of a slope assignment from last year. Last year things were strictly 2D.First, they went into groups, each with two sheets of blank 8.5x11. On each page, they were told to place two dots randomly (next year, maybe only one dot). From there, they were to draw concentric rough circles. A few students picked up that they looked like topographical maps -- sure enough, when I had them count from 0 going up by 500ft (yes, feet) they quickly agreed they were topo maps. I then quickly dropped the maps into my scanner at home and posted the JPGs to our Ning. From the digital copy, each student planned their own ski run, taking into account whether they were looking for something easy or hard. I'm not a skier but there was lots of discussion of diamonds and circles and green and black. They then worked on analyzing their runs... what's the slope of …

Online assessment

Sorry... I forgot I was supposed to write things here :)And thanks to David Cox's recent post on ExamView to prompt me to return to writing ... not to mention that I'm at Educon this weekend and everyone there is a prodigious blogger. But back to ExamView. ExamView seems to be another online assessment tool and David writes how he is using it in his classroom and how he plans to use it. I've been using an alternate tool, MapleTA and had considerable success with it. I think the strength of MapleTA over the other assessment tools is that it is based on the computer algebra system Maple -- and therefore, when you ask a question or the student enters a solution, it can involve any manner of mathematical content. Not just numbers but also algebra and graphs. And we managed to jury-rig Geometer's Sketchpad to provide dynamic diagrams (yes, we'll be switching over to GeoGebra when I find some time). I think the most important aspect of online assessment is the use o…