doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Good Friday, everyone.  Here’s some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers this past week.

Our Schoolyard in February
I’ve mentioned this before but I really like this kindergarten project that Angie Harrison has on the go.  What do you see out your classroom window?  Recently, Angie as people to talk about their schoolyard this spring.

I smiled and thought of one thing – mud.  I had visions of muddy schoolyards, blacktop recesses, and boots caked in mud in the hallways of schools everywhere.

But, upon further inspection, this really is a magical time for young students.  Where else can you see this in the morning?

and this in the afternoon?

I would encourage all classes to get involved with project – it’s got it all – photography, storytelling, sharing…

This is the Way We Start Each Day (&#3: A Surprising “Assessment Tool”)
Keeping with her Twitter handle @FlyontheCWall shares some of the ways that her Grade 5 class gets started.

There’s some great ideas and links to resources in the post.  It sounds like an amazing way to start the day on a high note.


Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on this classroom wall?

How Can An Airplane Fly?
I’ve always been curious about that myself!  


Jocelyn Schmidt made that a challenge to her kindergarten class and recorded some of the answers that she received and shared it in this post.  It’s some great reading.  It’s great to read and visualize the young minds at work.

I’d never cut it with this crew.  My two answers would be “Magic” or “I dunno”.

Flip This:  Film Yourself Teaching to Deconstruct Your Instruction


Actually, Royan, I have.  

I’m a big fan of reflection on one’s profession.  My interest started as a new teacher.  I had no idea whether I was effective or not.  In fact, I probably was more on the not side.  When you’re coasting from one day to the next and working an additional 4-6 hours in the evening just preparing for tomorrow, it’s really difficult to determine whether or not you’re improving.  My first principal was great about this – there were two of us hired that first year – me, a computer science teacher and Lise who was a French teacher.  He did the mandatory administrative observation stuff but encouraged us to sit in on each other’s classes and talk afterwards.  It was a little unnerving at first – me a computer nerd and she a French instructor but we quickly realized that the content didn’t matter.  It was how we functioned.

Later on, I took a course on peer coaching and another consultant and I would observe each other facilitating professional development sessions.  We were brutal to each other and our superintendent seemed to delight in our discussions but would always use us as examples when he was talking about growth.  We weren’t real fans of being exhibit A and B but we went with the flow.  I think it turned us to becoming better at our craft and we remain lifelong friends to this day.

When he left for another job, I was by myself and I did turn to the camera.  The technical merit of the filming wasn’t the greatest – audio is always a challenge but the resulting tape makes for some good (and even funny) looks at yourself.  In my case, it was the mannerism of flailing my arms around like I was ready to take flight.  I think I cured myself of that through video!  Now, I used a Panasonic camera on a tripod…these days it’s so easy with your smartphone or even the camera on your laptop.  Your class doesn’t even need to know that you’re doing it.

To get back to Royan’s question, why aren’t you?  I would echo his thoughts.  It might be filming and self-analysis or it might be a partnership with a peer.  Either way, it’s always good to get feedback as you ply your craft.

What Worked? What Didn’t? Where I’ll Go From Here!
One of the compelling reasons to read and follow Aviva Dunsiger’s blog is to just get a sense and an appreciation for how she just tries stuff.  It’s not random stuff – it’s always with the best interest of her students each time she does.  

Recently, her students took the Hot Seat on the Hive to talk about some of their most recent book readings.  What a great concept!

Now, I’ve seen people take on adventures like this with little preparation of themselves and their students and have limited success.  It should come as no surprise.  What you get from a project is directly proportional to what you put into it.  

In this post, Aviva shares some of the graphic organizers that the students used to prepare for their event.  She didn’t allow them to fly blindly through the experience.  The organizers they created are embedded in the post.  You’ll see that they were really ready going in.  As the consumate professional, Aviva reflected on the experience with the goal of making it even better the next time.


Please take some time to read and enjoy the posts above.  A great deal of time and effort when into the creation and feedback to them will certainly be appreciated.  Check out the entire collection of Ontario Edublogs here.  If you’re an Ontario blogger and not on the list, complete the form and you will be!

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4 responses to “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”

  1. Doug, thank you so much for your kind words and for including me in your post this week. I’m honoured! It means a lot to me to have my post discussed alongside posts of other educators that I admire so much: Angie, Jocelyn, and Royan never cease to amaze me with what they do, and they all push me to try new things as well. And thank you Doug for always doing the same. You encourage all of us through your blog and through Twitter.

    In the interests of reflection and growth, you can read about how my teaching partner and I are going to take our learning from Thursday and where we’re going to go next week as a result: (Planning on March 28th). Can’t wait to see what happens!



  2. Oh my goodness! Just realized I missed @flyonthecwall in my comment, and I absolutely love what she does with her students. I read her blog regularly and can’t wait to meet her in person soon. So glad to see her featured in this post as well. You really do support and encourage all of us, Doug!



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