This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I really like it when I can add a new blogger to the list of Ontario Edubloggers. 


What George and Basketball Have Taught Me

Please welcome Andrea Gillespie to our group.  She has put her toe in the blogging water and starts of talking about change and included her daughter and George Couros as some of the catalysts for change from her perspective.  It’s a great introductory post.

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It also affirms our decision to bring George to conduct a leadership session and close the Bring IT, Together conference with a keynote address.  Hopefully, the inspiration that Andrea felt will be shared by a whole new group.

For Andrea, welcome to the group and please make it a point to share your leadership thoughts with the province.  Thanks for the tip, Donna Fry.


Speaking of Donna….

Exploring Digital Literacy and the Importance of Confidence

Her recent posts talks about a whole lot of Cs.  First, she identifies the 6Cs from Michael Fullan from his “Great to Excellent” document and then Doug Belshaw’s 8 Elements of Digital Literacies. 

Her discussion of the overlap is interesting and I really liked the focus on Confidence.

There’s a a great deal to consider about confidence. 

Teaching is an interesting profession.  We are extremely confident in the classroom with working with students.  It’s our confidence in our materials, content, and approach that make students want to get onside and learn.  But, put us in a group of colleagues and it’s a different story.  “You go first”.  “No, you go first”.  Is it because we know that we’re all judgmental by design that we’re hesitant to say anything lest we’re wrong?  If we mess up, everyone will know! My goodness.

What’s wrong with being confident in what we know and confident in the knowledge that we have a lot to learn from each other?


PhotoMath Answers Incorrect Homework Questions, Correctly by @mraspinall

I think many of us were intrigued with the announcement that PhotoMath was available for download to your iOS and Windows device.  It was all over the online news.

I’ve started a post of my own to share some thoughts.  Hopefully, I’ll finish it and get it posted over the weekend.

In the meantime, Brian Aspinall was all over it in a post that appears yesterday afternoon.  Straight from the classroom, read the post for his thoughts.  One of the flashpoints for him was this quote from CNN.

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How sacred tests can be!


I Did Get Better!

When I first read this blog post from Aviva Dunsiger, I thought to myself “This should be required reading at every Faculty of Education”.  I love this list.  It could apply to every first year teacher.

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I wish that I had had only two classrooms my first year of teaching!

If it wasn’t for improvement, probably none of us should have lasted beyond that first year.

There’s been a lot written lately about “Growth Mindset” like it’s some sort of new thing.  Pffff!  Read the rest of Aviva’s post to see how she grew in the profession.

I’ll bet everyone can empathize.


Getting Started with PLCs – A Protocol for Group Collaboration

Starting out anew in any organization can be a daunting task.  In her most recent post, Brenda Sherry shares a protocol she used at a first staff meeting as an opportunity to learn about staff and start to build effective learning networks.

In this case, she used the Compass Points Activity and focussed on:

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I like the concept and can only imagine the discussion.

It’s certainly far removed from some of the dictatorial approaches that I’ve experienced in the past.

It will be interesting to see if the approach generates rewards for the staff learning.  Keep us informed, Brenda.


Once again, it’s been a great week of professional reading and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.

Check out the entire list of the here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here are some of the great thoughts from the fingers of Ontario Edubloggers recently…

Guided Reading Should Be Happening Every Day

Bill Forrester’s blog is a new addition to the Ontario Blog collection.  In his most recent post, he talks about supporting colleagues with guided reading and admits that it wasn’t always a regular routine for his classroom.

Now, as a support person, he’s seeing the value of this as a regular activity.

In the post, look for some online resources to support the technique.


Volume = Length * Width * Height

Alex Overwijk’s blog is another new one to the group.  Welcome, Alex.

I thought this was a rather unique approach.  He shares a lesson that his students did dealing with volume and how they addressed the concept of volume using manipulatives.

Now, that’s a great approach but not entirely new.

What I liked though was taking the image and posting it to Twitter to get some thoughts from other connected educators.  He shares some of the responses.  Very interesting.  Would you be so bold as to post pictures of your hands-on activities in this manner?


Discovery in Primary Math

I think that the power of social media for sharing goes well over the top when lessons are shared.  Alex did above and Jen Aston describes a three-part math activity that she did recently with a split 1/2 class.

Check out the video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuIJQsV-L5s and then head off to Jen’s blog to read the rest of the story about her activity.

It sounds like so much fun.


How Social Media Can Help Increase Social Capital For Students and Their Families

I think that Tracy Bachellier nails it when she talks about the use of social media and “social capital”.  I love this quote that she embedded in the middle of her thoughts.

“It allows me to organize people a lot faster, to check people out for things I might want them to do. It allows people to find me, or if I want to get advice from people, the fastest way is to get them through facebook or twitter. There’s a lot of convenience involved in interacting with people over social media.” ~ Aimee Morrison, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature (Digital Culture), University of Waterloo

Traditional media takes so long to get results.  By the time it’s researched, vetted, edited and ultimately published, the original premise may well be old news.  Tracy identifies a number of benefits in her post that go well beyond that.

  • Social media helps overcome time and distance barriers
  • Social media builds upon existing ties and relationships
  • Social media facilitates new connections and collaboration
  • Social media provides a platform for advocacy, collective practice and action
  • Social media enhances social participation and engagement

Think about the traditional, controlled techniques of the past.  Buy a book, read it, implement it, review the technique sometime.

The immediacy and potentials that social media affords, as Tracy notes, are just too many and too big to ignore.  If we’re really going to stay on top of the latest and most effective techniques, being connected has to be the solution.  The downside is, as always, equity but we’re getting around that.  I did a quick look around the county here and there are some communities that are using internet voting for the upcoming elections.  A community obviously sees the power and is making it available for all – why can’t we model that in education?


La voix des élèves

You know, a lot of people talk about Student Voice.  Others ignore it.  Some pay lip service.

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This blog post reinforces the need to listen to what is said.  Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make such a big difference.


Using Intelligent Agents in D2L to Enhance Your Online Course

One of my favourite activities when was the DeLC for my district was going to regional meetings and partake in the learning and sharing that was happening.  It’s easy to feel so inferior because there’s so much to learn about online learning.

The Desire2Learn LMS was continually evolving but we thought that we’d struck gold when we first learned how to set release conditions during a course.  In this blog post, Rod Murray shares a number of resources about the “Intelligent Agents” in D2L.  Whether you know them all or not, it’s still a nice review.

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Again, there was some absolutely wonderful thinking and sharing in my reading this week.  I hope that you can take a moment or to and give these posts a little social media love.  Their thoughts are only a click away.  The complete collection is located here.  There’s always a wealth of thinking and sharing happening there.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Ah, Friday.  Time to share some of the wonderful reading that I enjoyed on the blogs of Ontario Educators this past while.


Know the Difference Between a Good Online Course and a Poor One

Anthony Carabache wrote this post to describe how and where you should take Additional Qualification courses.

In the post, he identified 4 “culprits” that should be red flags for you.  As I read them, I started to think of any course that uses technology and I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t think that Additional Qualification courses have a monopoly on them though.  If you’re using any technology whatsoever, you’d be well advised to analyze using these “culprits”.

Culprit #1 – PDF’s and Word Docs - A wise man once shared with me “PDFs are where ideas go to die…”.  Today, that has even more relevance.  Any LMS or sharing device should allow you to have dynamic content that can be changed at a moment’s notice.  I’m an over the top zealot for wikis.  But then, maybe I’m just so unprofessional that I don’t get it right the first time.  If it was perfect, a PDF would suffice because you can use it over and over and over, ad nauseum.


September: New Beginnings

The last sentence in this paragraph from Heather Touzin is disturbing…

Of all of the areas of education with the promise and the actual delivery of technology in the classroom, the use of Assistive Technology has made absolute and complete changes with students.  The technology has never been better.  With faster processors on computers and more sophisticated software and peripherals, school should hold so much promise for these students.

Unfortunately, at the secondary school level, it’s not uncommon to see students abandoning its use.  To be frank, given BYOD initiatives and effective use of technology in all areas, the student using Assistive Technology should fit into the classroom easier.  Technology for everyone has learned from the use with students who require assistance.  Smartphones and now smart applications use voice recognition are a way of doing business.  Results from devices like GPS speak the results to the user.  Bluetooth connects your phone to your car’s stereo.  We’ve all become reliant on this.

I wish Heather luck as she invigorates Lambton Kent classrooms.  I know from following her on social media that she’s keenly interested in technology and I hope the students and parents that she works with take advantage of this.


Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 46 Understanding Slums Through Local Wildlife Habitats

In this post, Rob Ridley takes a spin on the United Nations World Habitat Day.  His post focuses on wildlife other than humans.  The theme is Voices from the Slums.

In his post, he identifies conditions that could be considered slums for animals.

Ideas like:

This, and the rest of the points raised, give real pause for reflections.

They would be good starting points in any classroom – followed by a call to action.


Step Away From the Lite Brite Pattern
How We Can Move Beyond The Lite Brite Pattern

File this under “asked” and “answered”.

I had coffee this morning with my former superintendent, a man I have the utmost respect for.  He challenged everything.  In the beginning, it was frustrating, I’ll admit.  His favourite saying, it seemed, was “That’s tweaking.  I want to destroy and rebuild.”  We were encouraged to bring forth big ideas and projects.  He didn’t want little pilots; he wanted plans to change a system.

I had to go back into my post and add the above to add context to the first link above which is a post from Kristi Keery Bishop.  Her post is inspired by a direction in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Aviva Dunsiger, who used to work with Kristi, took the challenge and wrote the second post – answering the challenge.  Make sure you read both!


It’s Not a Quick Fix

As a new teacher, I never had the luxury of an instructional coach.

I remember trying to get advice about classroom management sitting with a colleague in the staff room.  Heck, I was a new teacher – the students knew it – I was only a few years old than the students in my class.  I didn’t grow up in Sandwich West so I didn’t know anything about the community.  I didn’t know that there was a difference between LaSalle and River Canard and that they were mortal sporting enemies.  I didn’t know that they didn’t play with a J5V football.  I didn’t know the traditional rivalry between Sandwich and General Amherst and that it went further than just sports.  I didn’t know my fly was open.

I didn’t know much and I was a prime target.  Like most first year teachers, I struggled.  It would have been so helpful to have had a person like Jen Aston that I could have called and made an appointment with.

In her latest post, she identifies a whole slew of wonderful ideas about student behaviour and, ultimately, classroom management.

She recognizes that, even with this list, she doesn’t have all the answers…

Make yourself a friend.  Forward the link to her post to a new teacher!


Controlled by the Clock

Eva Thompson is kicking back this school year.  I think that every teacher can empathize with her description about timeliness…how it applies in education and spills over into real life.  I was fortunate in my first school.  We had no bells.  You were expected to move students at the end of a period but our principal noted that, in schools with bells, students would close their binders and get up and leave when the bell rang.  Our philosophy was a bit different.  Yes, the class was over at whatever time it was supposed to be but there was five minutes travel time between classes and you could impinge on it just a bit rather than being cut off in mid-sentence.  

I hope that she does relax a bit.  


Thanks, again, to the wonderful Ontario Edubloggers who continue to write and share ideas.  There’s always something inspirational to read.  I hope you take the chance to read these posts and check out some of the others.

If you’re a new blogger this fall, please follow the link and add the details about your blog.  I’d love to add it to my reading as well.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I really enjoy writing these Friday posts.  There is such great thinking and sharing going on in the minds of Ontario Edubloggers.  As they say, never a dull moment!  The only challenge is finding a way to share the love and narrow it down to a readable selection!


Effective Professional Learning

Stephen Hurley threw out a challenge to readers of the VoiceED.ca community.  What constitutes “effective professional learning” from your perspective?  Obviously, “effective” is in the eye of the beholder.  I think everyone should weigh in on this.  Stephen has a big presence on social media so perhaps an amalgam of great thoughts will be inspirational to Professional Learning leaders to change things up so that your learning experiences become more valuable to you.

Regular blog readers here will know that I bit and wrote a post sharing my thoughts yesterday.


Getting Connected

Chantelle Davies and her co-author of this post could have written it in response to Stephen’s challenge about Professional Learning.  Read this post to see their thinking about Connections, PLNs, Leadership, …

Any disagreement on their assumptions?


Throw a Tablet into the Mix!

I had to really smile while reading Rolland Chidiac’s post.  Those of us who are long time users of technology take so many  things for granted.  But, there was a time when the learning and use of the technology was brand new.  In this post, Rolland shares the excitement that happens in his classroom on the first day using a Nexus tablet.


What Parents Can Do

Lisa Munro reflects on a document that she read recently “Parent Tool Kit: What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Develop Healthy Relationships.”  She pulls out a number of interesting points that made an impact on her both as a teacher and as a parent.

i like the way that she extended the concepts by providing additional resources on the topic.


Who Does the Imposing?

The question of the day comes from Robert Hunking…

Does the education system impose itself on society or does society impose itself on the education system?

In his post, he itemizes many of the current conversations and discussions to support his rationale for asking the question.  I do think that the question is a good one.

I’m going to answer his question with the answer – depends.

I think it depends on when.

I grew up in rural Ontario – actually in Robert’s neighbourhood.  At that time, I would suggest that the education system did indeed impose itself on society.  We were learning so many things that didn’t really exist in our community at the time.  That was our vision of education – go to school, learn stuff, and then use that knowledge to make the world better.  I still remember my dad saying that if I didn’t want to do that, I might as well just quit now and get a job on a farm.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve been by a farm lately, but there’s more technology there than I could ever have imagined.  In my youth, tractors had four wheels and were painted red.  There’s so much happening these days and it’s constantly changing.  It’s not just there, of course, what we’re teaching in schools doesn’t even come close to the changes happening everywhere.  As an example, this morning I saw a 10 page document explaining how to fix your Microsoft Outlook when it goes bad.  It’s no wonder that employers care less and less about graduates with specific skills – they want graduates who have the ability to learn at a breakneck speed.  They want graduates who can think for themselves and this is imposed explicitly on those who would be graduates.  If you don’t believe me, go spend some time with a student in an experiential learning program.

As always, it begs the question to the classroom practitioner – what are you doing about it?


Wonderful thoughts and sharing again this week, folks.  Thanks so much.  Make sure to check out the complete blog posts from these folks and add your own thoughts.

Until next week…

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and time to reflect on some of reading I did from around the province this past week.  There are some new (to me) blogs featured this week and an old friend.  When you’re done scouting these, make sure that you read the complete collection of Ontario Edublogs.


It’s a Slow Process

Thanks, Brian Aspinall, for giving me the heads up on Nicole Beuckelare’s blog.  It was nice to find something new and to add it to the Livebinder and the Scoopit! page

Her latest post reflects on the length of time that it takes for change to happen.

I had to smile – anyone who works anywhere in education is quite aware of this phenomenon.  It’s amazing to think that computers and related technologies have been around in the classroom for over 30 years.  Yet, there are some people that are just finding this out!  Ditto for the concept of making to learn.  It’s not a new concept; teachers of technologies have known that creation is the best possible way to learn for years.

In her post, Nicole mentions that she had taken part in the PLP Group five years ago.  That brought back memories for me.  I submitted two cohorts years ago.  Both of the cohorts grew incredibly from the experience.  It really helped the eLearning teachers incorporate more web technologies in their online courses.  The elementary school teachers developed a culture of sharing and celebrating everything among themselves.  It didn’t happen over night but it did happen with the intense supports put in place.

But, how about the hundreds of others that didn’t have the experience?  They work hard every day with the tools, knowledge, and understanding that they have.  Change is a longer process here.

The whole concept, again, reinforces the notion that ongoing professional learning is required for all if we want significant change.  Just how many opportunities does your district give you this year?  If there are few to none, are they really serious about making change happen?


My Promise to You

This post flows nicely from Nicole’s.

Aviva Dunsiger is extremely visible about the change that she wants to make.  There’s always a new post of interest about something on her blog.

Her recent post shares some of the techniques that she uses to try to ensure success for all of her students.

It’s important to note the totality of her efforts.  It’s not just technology that’s the answer.  I think that’s an important message for all to hear.  It’s a great tool but isn’t necessarily the only one.

Aviva reflects on the complete package.


The New Wave of Vocab Games

Communication is what it’s all about in the language classroom, whether first or second language.  Interestingly, oral communications, which is so important may well be the less precise of all the communications.  When the recipient of the communication can interpret not only the actual communication but also the intent, you can be “close” and still be understood.

If you want to see this in action, watch me butcher the French language and yet still get the message across.

To be really precise, use a computer!  Ironically, this precision can be very motivating for students.

In this post, Myra Mallette shares two applications that she’s using this year – Quizlet and Kahoot.

If you know of a French teacher looking for a way to further engage students, send them this link.  Well crafted gaming can do so much in the classroom.


New Book ~ Reflecting in Communities of Practice: A Workbook for Early Childhood Educators

When I finished my time at the Faculty of Education, there really wasn’t any way to continue the learning through them.  I guess that the logic was that once you’ve jumped the fence and got your BEd, it’s time to move on and grab the next class.

I’m not sure that the intent of the Faculty of Education, UWO’s blog is to reach out to the entire teaching profession but why not?  Check out this blog to find the latest and greatest resources that have been added to their library.  If it looks good and you have access to that library, great.  If not, forward the title to those who look after the professional collection wherever you work and ask that they purchase the materials and make them available to your organization.

After all, we all know that learning shouldn’t stop just because you graduated!


Thanks to all of the bloggers who continue to share their thinking and push us all to new and exciting things.  There’s always some great learning shared by Ontario Edubloggers.

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’ve got to start this post with a big round of appreciation to Aviva Dunsiger.  Even though she lives 4 hours from me, she knows my blogging habits.  When a post didn’t go through yesterday, she knew it immediately and let me know.  I had to do some work – for some reason WordPress always goes to April in the Chrome browser.  I still don’t know why.  I’m back home to Firefox to write this post so I’m hoping that there are no glitches.  In the meantime, check out Aviva’s blog – she’s always good for an interesting post and you’ve probably seen many references to her blog from mine.

On to some of the good stuff this week from Ontario Edubloggers.


Life in Uganda

There’s a lot being said about Visible Thinking these days.  In this post, Jaclyn shares some of the questions that her class are asking about Uganda to phrase their thinking and research.

Often, we see this sort of thing at the end of the activity.  By placing it up front, students have them at home and at school for reference, parents see what’s happening and it’s bound to make the thinking deeper.


Singing the Homework Blues

Could there be anything that says “back to school” more than worrying about homework – whether as a teacher or a parent?

It’s a tough topic.  If you’re doing any reading about homework, you’ve probably noticed the discussion around the value of it.  In fact, there are some districts that are banning it altogether.

I remember, as a student, having to spend an hour after school in my room “doing homework”.  I recall a variety of activities like writing, colouring, drawing, or my favourite – doing mathematics.  Now that I’m blogging, I wish that I’d paid more attention to writing – I keep getting nailed as a passive writer.  Grrr.

After supper, I had to go back to my room for another hour.  This time, it was to practice playing the guitar.  We were paying for the lessons and I guess my parents were determined to get their money worth.  It probably worked – playing the steel guitar, I’ve known more Hawaiian or Country & Western songs than any student should have to.

As I think about it, the guitar and most of the homework was painstaking practice and repetition.  You’ve got to love the drill and kill – not!  But the fun was in finding a new way to solve a problem or to create a new song on the guitar.  That stuck with me.  As a new teacher, I thought that I had to assign homework.  I can’t remember what was the most useless activity; taking it up or going around checking to see who had done it and who hadn’t.  Later, I ditched the drill homework.  I had subscribed to “Games” magazine and used it as inspiration to give puzzles for homework instead.  Immediately, there was an uptake in doing these puzzles and coming to class on time was a priority since that’s when we solved the puzzle as a class.  And, when you peel back the onion, what’s computer science if not solving puzzles?


Making My Thinking Visible…the MMM Goes Public!

Donna Fry gave me a heads-up on this new blog.  I’ll be honest; I don’t even know who the author is but the first post is interesting.

At first blush, I think it goes beyond just making the thinking visible.

It’s about making the leadership visible.

It definitely goes out on a limb.  Everyone gets a chance to see the message and respond to it.

I wonder why more leaders don’t do this.  (Actually, I know the answer to that and I’m sure that you do too.)


GBL beyond Minecraft

When I read the title to Diana Maliszewski’s post, I thought that maybe she was going to talk about the recent Microsoft acquisition but, in fact, it turned out to be about Bop It!

I’d never heard of this before but really enjoyed Diana’s description about how she’s been using it.

If you’re teaching Drama and Dance, you might just want to check this out.

It sounds like fun.  I wish I was in this class.  I wonder if Diana will bring it to the BIT Conference for a little more social fun.


What a great collection of shared learnings from Ontario Educators this week. Please check out the original posts and all of the work from the Ontario group. There’s always something exciting happening.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been another great week of reading Ontario Edublogs.  I’m actually going to include a post that I read more than just last week and I’ll explain why.

Here’s what caught my eye…


More than a meme to me

This summer, there wasn’t a day that you would log into Facebook to see someone doing the ALS ice bucket challenge.  I thought that I might escape the whole thing except that my friend Peter Skillen challenged me late August.  So, I did my thing.

The whole meme was kind of cute but the deeper meaning was the attention that it brought to ALS research.  I’ll be honest; I don’t know anyone suffering from the disease but I have done research and it just sickens me.

Lisa Noble took it to a personal level in her post.  I was going to reference it last week but somehow it didn’t see right given the “back to school” posts that I included.  She really spoke from the heart about her own personal experience with this horrible disease.

For the cause, she did take part in the challenge and I’ll say right up front – it was the classiest of all that I’d seen.  You can see it in her post.


What if we had a song?

Kelly Power asked a really interesting question.  What I found most powerful was a memory that I’d experienced years and years ago.  It happens in a hospital every time a baby is born.  Music is broadcast through the speakers.

Music has such power – as I reflect, I always seem to have music on when I’m working or thinking my best.

Music in school can be something different.  I remember my computer lab and a request from students to have music playing while they were working.  It sounded like a good idea to me – until we tried to some up with a genre that would please everyone.

I still remember a student comment “Sir, I now understand elevator music.”

Music can move lots of people.  I’ve been at horse tracks where marching music is played with two minutes to post time.  Its purpose is to get everyone on their feet and moving to get their wagers in.

So, her question, put in context is a good one.  What if you played a song over the PA network within a school?

Could you move a student body to focus on a common purpose?

I hope that Kelly tries it at her school and shares the results.


Governance Roles of School/Parent Councils

I know that the concept of Parent Councils is a topic near and dear to Sheila Stewart.

What I didn’t know was that she would be reading research about the Australian system.

The original article that she referenced is very interesting reading.

Imagine a system where the Parent Council formally assesses principals.  I honestly can’t.

The concept is so foreign to my thinking.  I wonder how this will work.


This really was another nice collection of articles this week.  Please check out the articles and all of the efforts of Ontario Edubloggers.