This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Another great week of reading from Ontario Edublogs.  Here’s but a few of the things that caught my attention.

John Seely Brown at PLP Live and #ECOO12

Peter Skillen shares his thoughts about the chance to hear from John Seely Brown.  He will be one of the keynote speakers at the ECOO Conference in Toronto in October.  Registration is now open for the event.  I’m equally as exited as Peter for this and all of the speakers/presentations at ECOO.  It promises to be another great teacher-directed conference.  Have you registered?  You can do so at the ECOO website.

My “Welcome to School” Letter

Well, Shannon Smith is certainly off to a good, transparent start to her new job as Principal of Glen Cairn Public School in Ottawa.  In a recent post, she shares with the world her “Welcome to School” letter that is principally directed to the parents of the students in her charge.  She touches many important bases so important these days such as community of learners, critical thinking and problem solving, and of course, how all of this dovetails with her employer’s strategic plan.  How many other principals do this?  Why don’t they all?  After all, it is a message to staff and community of the direction the school will take.


So, if a public blog is good enough for a principal, why not for a classroom teacher?  Brian Aspinall let’s the parents know of his happiness of being a Sundevil.  At his own self-hosted site, he plans to keep everyone informed as to what’s happening in his classroom.  What a great concept.  He must have had a great education at the Faculty of Education.

In addition to all of the things that would happen in an intermediate classroom, his students should be in for a great ride.  Brian brings a very strong background in technology to the classroom.  This will be a good classroom to keep tabs on.

Why does school need to change? Because students have changed,

I admit that I’m a sucker for posts like this.  They very clearly outline what makes a classroom teacher so special.  If you believe the rhetoric that you’ll find as you read the teacher bashing that’s so common these days – teachers make a gazillion dollars, work from 9-3, get paid every day that they are sick and don’t take the day off, and teach the same way all 30 years of their time in the profession.  If you believe any of this, then you need to read and ponder Andrew Campbell’s post.

From his post, here are some truisms about this year’s crop of Grade 9 students…

Check out these great posts at the links above or all of the good things from Ontario Educators at the LiveBinder site.  If you’re an Ontario Edublogger, please visit and add your site to the list.



OTR Links 08/31/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Another Vote Against the “Good Ol’ Days”

I had to smile yesterday morning.

On Facebook, @doremigirl shared a mother’s thoughts as her daughter got on the bus for an orientation day to Grade 9.  It’s an emotional day for her and many more moms and dads everywhere as students head off to the great unknown.  Ditto to the younger ones headed to Kindergarten.

I reflected back on my own orientation to high school.

Orientation?  Hardly!

We didn’t need to know the layout of the school.  We moved as a class.  I was in the B&C (Business and Commerce) stream.  Our teachers would just tell us where the next room was and we headed as a pack to that room.

We didn’t need no orientation.

Instead, we had Initiation Day.

Thankfully, it wasn’t the first day of school or we’d never return.

It was organized by the Student Council and I’m sure that they convinced the administration that this day was good for us.  In fact, the rules were given over the PA at the end of the day before.  There was also a extra warning from the principal that attendance and participation was mandatory and that there were extra punishment for skipping or being sick.

Here’s the deal.

Initiative Day started 15 minutes before class.  The only safe havens were washrooms and classrooms.  In the hallways, or on the school yard, we “Grubby Grade Niners” were open game for any Grade 12 or 13 student.  If they caught us, we had to do what they instructed us.  It involved carrying books, opening their lockers, getting stuffed into lockers, eating dubious looking food, drinking dubious looking drinks, and maybe other things that escape my mind at this time.

How did they know who the Grade 9 students were?

We had to dress up.  The boys had to wear their mother’s nighties.  I don’t recall what the girls had to wear.

The whole day was a nightmare.

It was over fifteen minutes after the day ended.  Thankfully, I walked to school so I didn’t get the additional joy that must have come from taking the bus.

I suppose that the logic was this was an activity to welcome us to the school and to build some sort of community.  I didn’t get any of that.  But, I did learn how to quickly get from one class to another and learned where all the staircases were.

Given our decencies of 2012, how many things are wrong with above scenario?

So, remember your own initiation days the next time someone talks about how good education used to be and they pine for a return to the good old days.

In the meantime, I’m sure that students’ first visits and orientations are exciting as they embark on a new part of their lives.  And, for any that return home with a bad taste, just remind them that it could be much worse.

OTR Links 08/30/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Truffles for Financial Literacy


In Grades 4 through 8, Ontario students and teachers address expectations dealing with financial literacy.  In the Ministry document, there are some suggestions about how to integrate the literacy concepts across all subject areas.  To spice things up, you can’t beat a good simulation and The Great Piggy Bank Adventure fits the ticket nicely.

This simulation/game is all online and your bank is your personal piggy bank that follows you through all of the activities.  Start with a single game or in small groups of up to four users.  Choose your character and you’re off!

Of course, any financial planning involves setting goals and so you choose your goal right off.  The currency is truffles and you can’t eat them so you’re good to go.  As you earn truffles, they get plunked into your piggy bank and you move on through your virtual world, very nicely drawn.

Roll a die and your character moves along the path to adventures where there are financial activities and decisions ahead of you.

One of the options is Choose or Lose.  Various random things happen as you play the game.  You’ll need to make decisions along the way.  The results may generate truffles for you or cost you to be a player.  Some of the activities deal with being a good citizen.  I like how that is woven through the game.

You do have opportunities to spend your truffles along the way.  The developers also have build in some smile generation activities for the teacher like the “Howl of Inflation”.

I easily had some success playing the game because, as my kids will tell you, I’m the ultimate in frugal at times and my tendency was to cheap out when faced with decisions.  The alternatives to spend are there and I could see students balancing fun with saving.  In groups, I’m sure that it would generate lots of discussion.

In addition to Choose or Lose, quizzes pop up after some moves to test your financial decision making.  As you’ll see above, not only can you save your truffles, but also dig a little deeper investigating the topic at hand.

Eventually, you’ll reach the end of the path.  If you’ve made wise decisions along the way….

And also collect some badges showing your achievements.  A little video game action between the simulations brings a little pure play into the process but you can’t play unless you get through the level successfully.

You can play the game in an entire setting or create a Disney account to save progress rather than start from scratch next time.

If you’re looking for an interesting simulation for your financial literacy section, bookmark it and check it out.