Monthly Archives: October 2010

Great video & website on why math is a good thing

My kids are great students.  They both enjoy math – but – they *will* still sometimes come out with a, “Why in the world do I need to know *this* ???? I will never use this again!”.

So – for my guys, and for all the other parents and/or teachers who hear those words…  here is a video for all of us.

And don’t forget to check out the website too.






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Minister puts special needs on front burner

From the Montreal Gazette.

Quebec – Private schools and public ones with a special vocation are being asked to play a bigger role in the integration of special needs students.

That was one of the solutions announced by Education Minister Line Beauchamp Monday following a brainstorming session with dozens of education officials.

Those two types of schools must re-examine their way of operating and admit special needs students and ensure their success during their education, said Beauchamp, who noted that some private schools already admit struggling students.

Beauchamp said she wanted to sit down with the network of private schools and talk about their “contribution as a corporate citizen” to the success of special needs children, just like public schools that select students.

“There is an obligation for results,” Beauchamp added.
Read more at The Gazette…


My own take on special needs in our schools:

We need to educate everyone. And we need the resources to do so.  Integration “At Any Cost” is a mistake for everyone involved. But integration as an ideal serves the greater good for society as a whole.

We need to listen to our teachers and our administrators and provide the resources that they are begging for so that we can meet the needs.  No excuses – let’s just do it, but the only way to succeed is to provide appropriate funding for appropriate resources.



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QESBA: Quebec City summit on “The integration of students with handicaps or difficulties”

From Newswire.

Quebec City summit on “The integration of students with handicaps or difficulties” – QESBA priorities: local Board flexibility, intensified focus on students with behavioural problems, enhanced classroom support and training

MONTREAL, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ – The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) looks forward to joining some 30 educational partners in Quebec City next Monday at a summit convened by Education Minister Line Beauchamp on “The integration of students with handicaps or difficulties”. QESBA will focus its interventions throughout the day-long session on three key messages:

(a) Individual school boards must be given the fullest possible latitude to deliver tailored educational and complementary services that match the needs of their particular student population; a “one-size-fits-all” approach to integration of students is a recipe for failure.
(b) Specific and focused attention must be placed on addressing the specific issue of students with major behavioural problems. The integration of students with other handicaps or difficulties remains, to the greatest extent, the most promising and feasible strategy. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that new training strategies, resources and learning models must be explored to address the behavioural issue.
(c) University teacher training programs must better prepare teachers for the integrated classroom. Ministry of Education statistics demonstrate that anywhere from 10-30 per cent of students in today’s classroom are experiencing some handicaps or difficulties. Managing that reality is demanding of our teachers; they need the training and additional support resources to perform their duties well.
“Overall, Quebec should be proud of its progressive and student-centred approach to addressing the needs of students at every point on the spectrum of potential,” QESBA President Debbie Horrocks insisted. “That said, the demands on our school network are enormous, and the time is surely right to validate how we are doing things, and to assess how we might improve. QESBA will be using this summit to highlight some particular English sector accomplishments as well as challenges in addressing the needs of all students. We will highlight a high school graduation rate in our network of close to 80 per cent – the target set by the Ministry for the year 2020, and we’ll point to the steadily-improving outcomes of our students with special needs. All of this is being accomplished by favoring a balanced and focused approach to integration.”

Among the other points QESBA will be raising are the following:

– The discussion on integration, and finding the right balance between students with special needs and those who do not have specific difficulties, must always be centred on the needs of students and not framed solely as an issue of working conditions for teachers and professionals.

– While students’ welfare must be at the centre of these discussions, QESBA acknowledges that our teachers, as well as administrators, professionals and support staff, must be given the pre-service instruction, in-service training and support resources necessary to the practice of quality teaching.

– The summit must acknowledge the complexity and variety of current integration models. There is a wide spectrum of current models; it is simplistic and unhelpful to frame this discussion as a debate between “Integration and closed classes” for students with handicaps or difficulties.

– QESBA absolutely opposes any wholesale suggestion of a system of “capping” the number of students per class with handicaps or difficulties. This is not, in the Association’s view a realistic or responsible (or, perhaps even legal) approach to current challenges.

– QESBA urges all summit partners to remember that some 70 per cent of its member board schools are small schools, where classroom groupings do not even allow for the possibility of closed classes; any model for solutions must take that major reality into account.

– Integration, implemented intelligently and with necessary support resources, is not a zero-sum game. Our English school boards, in all their diversity, place a priority on including all students in the development of a sense of community, civic responsibility and pride. QESBA maintains that this approach, with an emphasis on parent involvement and extra-curricular activities, is contributing positively to the ultimate goal of student success for all.

– The Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) should take steps to promote the sharing of best practices in balancing special needs services with quality education services to students at every spectrum of potential. It should (a) provide financial resources in a strategic manner that facilitates this outcome and (b) encourage the creation of a labour relations environment that promotes such tailored solutions.

– The particular realities of the English sector must be fully considered. For example, access to supporting health and social services in English is increasingly problematic, especially in rural regions but in many metropolitan regions as well. There is a definite need for more collaboration between the education sector and other Ministries and public establishments responsible for related services to students in need. Also, there are specific challenges caused by the increasing number of students with difficulties or handicaps at a time when over-all enrolment is dropping.

– School boards should be sharing – and getting MELS support for – best practices in addressing diverse student needs. For example, there are English school boards employing roving resource teams to work intermittently with students with serious behavioural difficulties outside of the regular classroom; others are operating small and focused alternative programs for at-risk students; others are developing teacher and principal “shadowing” or mentoring programs to better equip new educators to deal with new classroom realities. All of these strategies, QESBA believes, are contributing to average high school graduation rates that are substantially higher than the Quebec average.

“We hope that this summit will be a springboard to important improvements in services to students across Quebec, and at every level of potential,” Horrocks concluded. “For that to happen, the government, school boards, parents and teachers will have to make sure we are working in partnership.”

For further information:
Kim Hamilton
Director of Communications and Special Projects
514-849-5900, ext.: 225

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A very cool collaborative educational experience

Tonight, I saw the following tweet on twitter:

Within 40 minutes, 50 collaborators from around the world had contributed to a google docs document, filling it with great ideas and thoughtful remarks.

Links, questions, answers – it’s all there.

Vancouver.  Montreal.  Philadelphia.  Waco.  California.  Alberta.  To name just a few.

It’s actually one of  the neater ed tech things I have seen.  Twitter, Google Docs and People.

No smart boards. No class rooms even – just simple tools and intelligent collaboration.

While adding my own note in the doc, I was of course reading other notes. Building. Thinking. Reading, and looking things up.

So 40 minutes after the original tweet, a complete document was on hand. Formatted. Well presented. International input.


How cool would it be if we applied this to note taking in class? Different students pick up on different points. Some things may be more important to one over another. But all together, in one document – shared by all of the students.

Would one or two not contribute? Sure. Lurkers is what we often call them. But is it possible that they would learn though? And isn’t that the actual goal?

Would the class as a whole benefit? I think so.

And what about that student who missed that class because she was home sick? She wouldn’t have to scramble around and try to find notes from someone who can maybe scan them or maybe fax them or maybe just have missed some of the more important points that were actually made in that class.

This *is* what we can do.  This *is* what is available – now.  This *will* result in greater learning.

I was thrilled to take part in this tonight. And I was especially happy to see the note on one of my two additions suggesting that this point would be the presenter’s closing point.  🙂



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How to Help Students Use Social Media Effectively | Edutopia

“Banning” social media is not an option.  Some people probably think that they can do it; they cannot.  It will not work.  And it shouldn’t  What we really need to do is educate students on how to use it.  Funny, eh?  Education is the answer.

Reprint from Edutopia

Today more than ever, people are capable of publishing their thoughts to a vast audience. Comments, tweets, and status updates are ubiquitous and constant. However, are we really focusing on the quality of the message we are putting out there? Are we really providing useful information or are we just adding to the noise?

Simply giving students a blogger ID and a twitter username is not enough. Unless they are working to develop the skills necessary to effectively convey their message to a receptive audience, then the value of the message is diluted. If that same student stood at a podium with a microphone, yet has not prepared a speech and has trouble using proper grammar, this student’s message could be lost on his or her audience. However, in this world of instant communication our students have the opportunity to engage and share with a global audience. As educators, we cannot let this chance slip by.


Read the full article:  How to Help Students Use Social Media Effectively | Edutopia.

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The Khan Academy

I was turned on to The Khan Academy a couple of years ago.  The Khan Academy hosts over 1800 videos on a huge variety of mostly math and science topics.  Oddly, even though I have “heard” Sal Khan speak on so many videos, I had never heard him speak.

This video is a great intro to who this guy is, what he does and why he has seen so much success with his online tutoring videos.

Sal Khan at Gel 2010 (founder, the Khan Academy) from Gel Conference.

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It gets better

Bullying is obviously very much in the news.  Homophobic bullying is at the top of that list, and it’s good to see so many people and companies coming out to support the victims of this type of bullying.

This video produced by Google by Google employees is one of the best I have seen yet.






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