Tag Archives: datruss

An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2

I’ll start by saying, ‘Shame on The Canadian Press and shame on cbc.ca’, I thought this was a news source I could rely on. Next, I’ll say, ‘Shame on me’, since I reacted publicly, based on a single secondary source for information, and I did not go to the main source. As an educator who makes great efforts to use social media in appropriate ways, I feel embarrassed that I contributed in disseminating exaggerated and miss-informed hype! I will learn from this, hopefully others will too. 

But what was of greatest concern to me was the message to ‘not use’ social networks with students, and that is not the case!  

The Ontario College of Teachers DID NOT say teachers should avoid connecting with their students on Facebook or Twitter.

Here is a great video they have created: 

While I could nitpick and suggest some minor changes, I think that the advisory does an excellent job of saying three key things:

1. Interact with students appropriately 
2. Understand privacy concerns
3. Act professionally

And, they offer sound advice that will help teachers both think about, and understand, that their digital communication is public and therefore needs to be professional. 

Here is the actual advisory:

Download this file

I will end in saying, ‘well done’ to the Ontario College of Teachers! 
And again, my apologies.
Kind regards,
David Truss

ps. Special thanks to Ontario teacher Lorna Costantini @lornacost for questioning the news article’s interpretation and for pointing me to the sources provided above. 

An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media Fears

*Updated post and apology letter:
An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2
I request that you please go to my link above for clarification on this post. 
Thanks to Ontario teacher Lorna Costantini @lornacost for questioning the news article’s interpretation and for pointing me to the sources provided in the link above, and in the 6th comment below. 
Ontario teachers advised not to tweet with students
By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca, Updated: April 12, 2011 6:44 AM

Social media may be the new frontier of communication but not between teachers and students.

The Ontario College of Teachers says teachers should avoid connecting with their students on Facebook or Twitter.

They are also told to avoid contacting them on LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace.

The college issued an advisory to maintain professional boundaries, saying it’s vital to the public trust.

It also says some members have groomed a student for sexual purposes, using electronic messages to win their confidence.

Dear Ontario College of Teachers,

I’ve read the article above, and you have one thing worthy to note in your statement: “The college issued an advisory to maintain professional boundaries, saying it’s vital to the public trust.”

However, as a professional, I thought that was self-evident.

Beyond that your statement is nothing less than counterproductive!

You see, by removing educated professionals from the pool of participants who can actually ‘TEACH’ students about appropriate social media use, you invite students to be influenced, and bullied, and taken advantage of by less scrupulous people… including your members who are less than professional and likely to avoid your advisory anyway.

What’s vital to the public trust is that they trust teachers to be current and to teach students to communicate and relate to the current world they live in… or should we still be teaching students to use quill pens?


*Updated post and apology letter:
An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2


Beyond Good ~ Seth’s Blog: Moving beyond teachers and bosses

We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a ‘good student.’

We train employees to deal with bosses in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to do. Figure out how to do exactly what they want, with the least amount of effort, and the last risk of failure and you are a ‘good worker.’

Good enough is not good enough!

So many things about the structure of our schools today promote this… promote the next generation of worker bees who drone on and do ‘what needs to be done’ instead of ‘what’s possible’.

How do we UN-standardize our schools?

It starts with the smallest of points…
“A paragraph ‘needs’ to have 5 sentences.”
… Which produces a class full of mediocre 5 sentence paragraphs.

To the biggest of points…
I can’t
… Whether this is a response from a teacher or a student.

As Seth says at the end of his post: “The opportunity of our age is to get out of this boss as teacher as taskmaster as limiter mindset…”

What are our students capable of if we foster their creativity and get tests and curriculum and scheduled blocks and ‘busywork due the next day’ out of the way?

How do we move beyond educators as taskmasters?

Good enough is not good enough!

Can you spare some Bandwidth?

This is a plea to friends living places where internet bandwidth is not an issue. 

I would like a copy of this interview: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8649 to share with my Grade 9’s who are starting their Flat Classroom Project

And my digital colleague Lyn Hilt recently shared this link with me,  and I’m a huge Alan November fan. Related to that, Brian Crosby shared his TEDx video that I also can’t watch right now: http://learningismessy.com/blog/?p=1091 

So, with the internet all but shut down both at my school and at home… I’d love for someone to throw these in a public DropBox or share these with me in some other way that doesn’t require me streaming the video. I’m a huge TED & TEDx fan so don’t hesitate to throw a few of those (that you like & recommend) into the mix as well!  🙂  

DropBox won’t let me share a ‘public folder’ link, just a ‘public file’ itself (dumb, I miss drop.io!). I just checked to see what the public file link does, using a link to my Brave New World Wide Web video and it streams it rather than lets me download it… Uhhg! (I can’t even get past the opening Quicktime ‘Q’ without losing the connection and getting a ‘?’…  much less watch the video that way). So, if we use dropbox it will have to be through sharing a public DropBox file via invitation. If this doesn’t make sense, ignore me. If it does, invite me, I’m datruss on gmail, or ask me to invite you (that’s better for me, I get all the videos in one folder that way). 

I’m sure there are other file sharing options out there, but I just tried looking and my delicious bookmarks won’t even load right now… must be the extensive graphics on that page (he says in a tone dripping with sarcasm). 

Anyway, to anyone that can help me out: Thank you, thank you and THANK YOU! 

Oh, and I’ll owe you a cup of coffee, or a beer, when we next/first meet. 


The Karma Seed and Random Acts of Kindness

About 7 or 8 years ago I had an idea to do something like this. We were promoting Random Acts of Kindness and what we thought we would do is give individualized, numbered coins to every student and then have them pass it on with a random, kind act. The coin would have a website address and a number on it and each person that got it would tell what random act they received on the website, then pass the coin on. 

I sat down with my tech-ed teacher to plan the making and stamping of the coins, and sat with my computer teacher and tried to hammer out the technology details, and with my principal to figure out the budget. In the end, we couldn’t make it work the way it could work today without spending way too much time and money. We had a great Random Acts of Kindness program at the school that year anyway, thanks mostly to my teaching partner who coordinated it… We developed a RAKK – Random Act of Kindness Krew who were volunteer leaders that handed out RAKK coupons to people they saw doing nice things, and we had weekly draws for prizes. But my idea never saw the light of day.

Karma Seed is a very clever version of what I’d hoped for, but was totally unable to accomplish. See the story of the Karma Seed here

Seems that for now you need to be in the US to order them. With a name like Karma Seed, there should be an altruistic destination for the money… This is what the FAQ’s say on the topic:

As of now, the money from seed purchases will go towards covering the cost of the seeds, servers, our team of coding engineers and ninjas.
 We are currently exploring the option of starting a charitable foundation in which we will donate 25% of annual profits from seed sales! Check back for more details!

My first instinct was that 25% isn’t enough… but imagine if every company gave 25% of their profits to do good in this world!

I’m looking forward to some of the positive stories that comes from this! 

Twitter EDU

UPDATE: This post has been vastly improved on, and made into an ebook.

Click here to access a free copy of Twitter EDU.

Below, you’ll find the material that just one chapter of this ebook is based on. The ebook is much more comprehensive, just as easy to read, and engages you with Twitter while you read.

Pick up your copy here. 

Update: January 8, 2017


Some simple advice to set yourself up for success on Twitter– BEFORE you start following people:

1. Add a (tasteful) image.
2. Put something in your bio that says you are an educator.
3. Add a link. Don’t have a blog, use your district/school website, (this is the most optional of these 5 points).
4. Actually tweet a few times. Find a resource or two and share them.
5. Before following other people, add a tweet saying, “I’m an educator from (Country/City/State/University/Course/choose 1) trying to get started on Twitter.”


Do that and you’ll get WAY more follow-backs than if you follow someone with no details and a rookie egg image that Twitter gives you.


Follow me: @datruss (Do the 5 things above and you have a guaranteed follow-back from me!)


And follow some of these great people… I do!


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Related: The complete guide to building a digital footprint.

And still more about CHANGE!

Great quotes on CHANGE shared on George Couros’ blog

“If teachers and students know ‘why’ then the change or the learning is meaningful…”  Edna Sackson

“Change can be a lot of work too. Sometimes people also get frustrated when it seems that we constantly have to change, and then just as things are working, we need to change again.”  Aviva Dunsinger

“Endless conversation about change is the barrier. Actually committing to doing something and then acting is what is required.”  David Jakes

“When we have the autonomy to learn for ourselves and grow through our own desires, we can and will ultimately embrace change for what it needs to be…finding a better way of doing something.”  Justin Tarte

“Put teachers together in an organized way, with clear objectives, and they’ll move mountains. Alone, the mountains are just too big!” David Truss

“…what if I build something, in this case a website on the way to building an entire movement, and wondering, and what if no one comes? That haunts me.”  Miss Shuganah

“many others have seen “the newest and greatest” ideas come and go…….and to invest their time, (because it does take time) and their energy and also possible total rethinking of everything which was their foundation — has to have a reason.”  Jennifer

“The best change comes as a result of individuals realizing they need to change. If we believe that teachers are the right people in the role, we need to help them realize this on their own and not because they feel forced. True change is internal.”  Dean Shareski

“The change that is sustainable must be something that has a reason (answering the “why’) and something that everyone has a stake in. I can get one person to change, but can I make it systemic?”  Pete Rodriguez

“It’s dangerous to think we are ever finished or have attained mastery….. which is contrary to everything we teach students by giving unit tests, by graduating them after ‘x’ number of hours, etc.” Julie Cunningham

“They (educators) need someone who has been in the trenches, slogged it out, and can share the good, the bad, the ugly about where they’re going. Too often they get someone who’s just done the research or the book learnin’. There’s no credibility there. They need to hear the war stories.“  Katherine Mann

“…my role is to be the force of change vs. having change forced on me.” Carrie Daniels

“Teachers do not fear changes that they believe in…it is those changes that are forced upon us that make us skeptical.”  Kelly Alford

“It is not change that people fear, it is the transition between where they are and where they want to be.” Ian Cullion

“As a leader (any type of leader….not just administrator!) it is our job to help people find their way in this time of change. I for one, am excited and ready to go!”  Melissa Dallinger

Here is the flickr group George created to share these. My 2nd attempt to contribute, using David Jake’s quote, is below. (I like this better than my first attempt.)


(That’s me in the photo, at Ariel’s Point near Boracay in the Philippines. Ann took the photo.)

Why letter grades/percents?

Shared this on Remi’s blog post as a comment. I thought I’d share it here for now, before I expand it into a full blog post on Pairadimes some time (soon). 


Why letter grades/percents? It goes “Beyond TTWWADI” (Google it)!

Fear has a lot to do with it… what will the parents say? What will the admin say?

Well, I actually did it… and in Grade 10 too!

Students got 2 marks (percentages) all semester for Planning 10 in my class. They got a mid-term and a final mark, required on report cards, and I didn’t chose it, they did! They picked a mark and then we discussed it based on conversations, expectations and comparisons with what I thought was exemplary work. In 2 classes of 28 and 29 students, I helped guide a total of 4 or 5 of them up or down a few percents, and beyond that, they picked their own grade… doing a very good job of it I might add!

One interesting anecdote from that experience, I had one class that was almost all IB students where marks really mattered. Anecdotal feedback without marks attached drove them a bit crazy to start… but, one kid at the end of the term, after picking his own mark, told me, “That’s going to be my lowest mark this semester.”
But he wasn’t arguing, he was only making a statement. He knew he could have done better and he also knew he could have done more and earned a better mark, (you see I also allowed students to go back to their digital projects and improve them at any time, because Learning Outcomes don’t come with teacher timelines only semester timelines. He was willing to accept the self-imposed low ‘A’ rather than put more work into it.

So, what’s stopping us from purely anecdotal report card up to Grade 8? The marks are not needed for university… there are no excuses but FEAR and TTWWADI! 

New World Navigation

The early discoverers didn’t have a map to help them navigate from their flat world into a round world, and now it would seem that we really don’t have a map to help us navigate from our round world into a world that is suddenly flat again.