Monday, July 31, 2017

Activity 5.2 Blog Post Resources

So my Integration of Information & Computer Technology (IICT) course for York U wants me to make an entry here about and educational blogger that floats my proverbial boat. But I'm feeling contrary and I'm not going to do (quite) that. I want to point to a couple of other non-blog internet sources I use that fulfill some of the same functions as blog.

I go to every day. It's usually the place I go to first on the Internet. Is avid the right word to describe my use? On the most superficial level, Reddit is a link aggregator. Users (redditors) post links to things they find. The community (other redditors) can vote those links up or down. The most popular links end up on the front page.

That's reddit on a superficial level. Reddit is also a collection of communities organized as subreddits each of which has it's own focus some of which are moderated and many, many of which are not. Redditors can subscribe to subreddits and its posts will end up on their main feed. Some of the subreddits are pretty rough and tumble. Some are completely offensive. Some are brilliant.

There are lots of education related subreddits or ones that support my teaching or computer interests.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Meeting on the digital commons

It's worth expanding on my previous post and exploring a bit more the notion of Open Source and it's relation to this blog and to teaching. describes Open Source in a document called The Open Source Way. It organizes the Open Source Way around five different principles.

The first is Open Exchange. This is the idea that we all learn more when the exchange of information is open. The free exchange of current ideas is critical to the creation of new ideas.

The second is Participation. This is the idea that freedom to collaborate encourages creativity. Problems can be solved together that cannot be solved alone.

The third is Rapid Prototyping. This is the idea that rapid prototypes may lead to rapid failures but rapid failure lead more quickly to solutions that work. The Rapid Prototyping motto is "Fail early and fail often."

The fourth is Meritocracy. This is the idea that the best ideas win. When everyone has access to the same information, successful work determines which projects get input, effort, and further work from the Open Source community.

The fifth is Community. Communities form around a common purpose and bring together a broad range of ideas and share the work of the project. The community as a whole can create something greater than any one individual is capable of.

The principle that attracts me the most in the context of this blog is Open Exchange. On a face to face basis, most of the significant improvements in my classroom practice have been the result of the exchange of ideas with other teachers. A blog is a digital forum in which I can reflect on my own practice and kick around the ideas which interest me and if they merit the attention of others in my learning circle then we can learn from the exchange of ideas.

In the context of my actual teaching practice, I want to embrace Rapid Prototyping. One of the biggest challenges in improving my teaching practice and implementing new ideas is finding a path from my current practice to my desired goal. But if I embrace the ethos of Rapid Prototyping then a certain amount of failure is not only to be expected. It's to be embraced. I should just try a lot of different things and if they don't work, reflect on why, modify them and try again. I shouldn't need to be fully assured of success before proceeding.

Welcome YU17CO21!!

Hey all, this blog hasn't seen any action in all the years it's been out there but of course you're all gonna visit fellow IICTers.

I've called it Open Source Teacher and that's an explicit shout out to the Open Source Software movement which, in turn, arises out of the early(ier) days of the internet. Open Source Software is software whose source code (the actual computer language code used to create the software that the user interacts with) is openly available usually under a copyright license that allows others to study, change, and distribute it without restriction. One of the mottos of the early Internet was "Information wants to be free!" and Open Source Software explicitly adopts that ethic. Apache Open Office is an example of Open Source Software. It's a full office software suite that parallels many of the capabilities of MS Office. GIMP is a full blown open source image processing software that rivals Adobe's Photoshop in features and flexibility.

So why call this blog Open Source Teacher? Because the intent is that my/our teaching practice should follow the open source ethic. The source code (foundations, theories, reflections) should be openly available and shared with anyone to study, change, and distribute.

So there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth No. 1

I'm hoping to quote and then comment on each of Bruce Mau's items in his brilliant Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. Sometimes, in order to really absorb something, I just need to copy it down and repeat it to myself. Mau's manifesto is a concrete inspiration both personally and to my pedagogy.

"1.) Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to
grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: openness to experience events and the
willingness to be changed by them."

It's difficult to be open to growth. I spend a lot of time trying to keep e/thing the same. Growth is difficult and painful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Point of Grade 9 Math...

...might not be the math. Just listened to a CBC Ideas broadcast featuring Jean Briggs, an anthropologist, talking about Inuit strategies of child rearing and teaching and, somehow out of that it occurs to me that my focus in Grade 09 math doesn't necessarily have to be the math. It's about learning to learn and about seeing the world differently. It's about the mental equivalent of what a good masseuse might do to your spine in loosening it up and allowing you to move not just more freely, but differently altogether as a result.

Just remembered a connection to the Inuit. According to Briggs, children were often asked things like "Do you (incorrectly) imagine that such and such is the case?" The method is extremely open-ended and non-prescriptive and forces/expects that the child will generate their own response. Prescriptive right and wrong responses are eschewed.

Also, according to Briggs, some variation of counter-factuals are used. An answer might be given that is intentionally wrong with the expectation that the child will know it is wrong and deduce the "correct" and opposite answer.

Imagine if, in my math class, I said to one side of the room "For this class, I want you to only give me wrong answers." And, at the same time I tried to lead/push/divert them into productively wrong answers. Maybe I could (a) make them less afraid to be wrong and (b) get some good insights out of it.

I wonder how some of my super-keen kids would take to this?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Technology whenever!

I like technology. I like the web. I like computers. But as a math teacher I'm on the blackboard all the time. When I read about all the cool stuff that other teachers are doing, I get jealous. So why don't I book some lab time and do it?

The answer is in the last sentence. I have to book lab time and that's not a trivial exercise since the horizon for available time is something like a couple of weeks. I'm a new teacher. I really don't know exactly where I'm going to be in two weeks. Plus that's not the way I work with technology. I want my technology here and now when I think of it and as I think of it. I need to be able to use it spontaneously because using technology is about creativity and I need spontaneity for that.

Until I'm in a wired classroom, I think it's the board for me. I can improvise on the board.