This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Things certainly have heated up in Ontario this week.  Weather-wise and blogging-wise.  Here’s some of the reading I enjoyed this past week.

The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

The Diefenbunker was certainly something that we discussed in school.  It was part of Canada’s concern about the Cold War.  I did not know that it was a public museum where you could get a sense of the fear and paranoia that was a part of the day.  Andy Forgrave and son took a trip there and posted pictures and his reflections on the visit.  This is a very interesting read for me.

Why Children Misbehave —- Under Construction

You know, if you could bottle the answer to this question, you could sell millions to educators.  FlyOnTheClassroomWall (not her real name, of course, but she’s not public with it on the blog so I won’t mention it here) takes a look at a number of reasons from the book Theory and Practice with Adolescents and shares some of her insights.  Towards the end, she concludes with a list of accommodations…a good list.

Step 8 in Going Green: Remain Calm! Remember Al Gore: ‘Despair is not an option’!

Hill of Greens was a new blog discovery for me this week.  Written by Julie Johnson, this is a documentary of her work in “going green”.

At present, there are eight posts to the blog but they’re very personal and certainly has inspired this reader to reflect on my own habits.  I’ve followed Julie on Twitter for some time now, but didn’t know this blog existed.  I’m glad that I found it.

I Can’t Do This

This post is a wonderful poem written by Dr. Muriel Corbierre.

The content is a reminder that those faces in front of you all bring different skills to the classroom.  It’s also a reminder to students that not everything is as equally “easy” for everyone.

I’ll bet you can find a lot of uses for this poem.

Holistic approaches for Learning with Technology

This post, from Deborah McCallum was a refreshing break from some of the mindless posts about SAMR that you see so often these days.  She takes a reasoned approach about teaching in general.  It’s a reminder that analyzing the use of technology isolated from everything else really is a disservice.  Teaching and learning is a complicated eco system.  Big reminder here “Who owns the learning?”

Sunset Reflection

This is something that we all can do.  I can take sunset pictures from the end of the driveway any day that I want.  Sheila Stewart shares here thoughts, not only on the beauty of the sunsets that she enjoys in NorthWest Ontario but what they symbolize to her.

It’s a good reminder to us all that we need to take more pictures.

An Interview with Tom D’Amico

In case you missed it, I recently had the opportunity to interview Tom D’Amico, superintendent from the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  Tom actively models what I believe educational leaders should.  For me, it was a great chance to ask some questions that I had about what he does and why he does it.

Doug:  From my perspective, you’re “leading by leading” in this field and I really admire that.  Do you ever get questioned by colleagues for being so open about your learning and sharing?

In addition to the content that Tom generates and shares, he also shares many of the links to resources that he uses regularly.  There’s a great deal there for you and you might just want to pass the link along to your own leaders.  What more could they be doing to support the cause of learning?  Are they modelling the sort of thing that you need them to?

Thanks, everyone for continuing to blog and lead the charge for Ontario Educators.  Please check out their blog posts at the links provided and the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.


OTR Links 07/31/2015

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

About Professional Development

I was really excited to see the title for this article fly by on my reading this morning.

What Does the Research Say on Professional Development, Anyway?

I’m looking forward to doing the reading.  What works; what doesn’t?  That would be the sort of thing that you’d expect from an article like that.

As I’m reading the results of other research, I see this paragraph.

As I read the article, I got the distinct sense that the forms of professional development that they’re talking about involved activities that are “done to you”.

So, I continue to read with expectation of where it might be headed only to suffer the disappointment that the results wouldn’t be released until August 4.

Until then, we can speculate and guess.  After all, the internet is built on speculation and other treatments of pseudo-truths and opinions.  <grin>

In my mind, I know what didn’t work for me.  I’m thinking the big, mass indoctrination events that teaches everyone everything in one full-day drive-by professional learning session.  At the end, the system can brag “We’ve all trained our teachers about #########”.  As I’ve noted many times, you train dogs, try to train cats, but you don’t train teachers.  You should be helping them to grow professionally.

Or, let’s go with the current in vogue concept of not training everyone at once; let’s train a select few and they can hit the classrooms and coach.  Will this generate the best results?

Or will it be something else?

I fully recognize that my background is in the maths and technologies.  I’m hard pressed to think of any concept that can be fully developed in a single session. I’ve been to training sessions lead by a person who certainly knows her/his stuff but had difficulty reaching and engaging an audience.  Again, with the training. 

I recognize that it’s expedient but is it effective?

I’ve been exposed to many formats on both sides of the professional learning.  My thoughts?

Professional learning works best when:

  • it’s self-selected;
  • the teacher identifies a need and seeks a solution;
  • it’s continuous and ongoing – no one shot deals here;
  • there’s a mechanism for connections with attendees after the formal session for continuous learning;
  • everyone in the room brings and shares an element of expertise;
  • you leave inspired to learn more and change your practice.

What I’m viewing as the most effective way to learn, at present, is an amalgam of a number of things.  For the formal face to face piece, I’m a huge fan of the edCamp model.  I distinctly remember my first edCamp.  It was edCamp Quinte.  I drove all the way to Belleville (after a twitter message to my friend Andy “Headed East”) and I spent the day learning with a group in the Belleville library.  I didn’t go for the personalities that might be there; I didn’t go with a specific learning goal; but I came away with a wealth of knowledge and, more importantly, the inspiration to learn more going forward.  I also went with the full expectation that I’d be a sponge and yet ended up leading a discussion about QR codes in the classroom.  Was it effective because I didn’t prepare a Powerpoint Presentation to step through but instead had a group sitting around a table sharing their ideas and thoughts?  I remember thinking afterwards on the drive home that the total was most certainly greater than sum of the parts.

Even more powerfully, I maintain connections with some of the people that I met there.  The learning and the connections didn’t end just because the day did.

As I talk to folks, this sentiment seems to be very popular.  They recognize that any model for professional learning needs to inspire, invigorate, and provide some mechanism for growth and learning into the future.

So, I’m really interested in the results that will be shared on August 4.  Am I on the right track?  Is there a better way?

We’ll see.

OTR Links 07/30/2015

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

Digital Citizenship Resource

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Tom D’Amico from the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  If you haven’t had the chance to read the interview, I’d encourage you to do so.  Then, why not pass it along to your own principal, superintendent, or director to encourage this sort of progressive, open thinking.

I really like the open concepts and sharing of resources for the benefit of those in the OCSB.  But, the advantage for those of us who don’t work with the OCSB is that the resources aren’t hidden behind some educational equivalent of a paywall.  They’re there for anyone to access and use.  Follow Tom’s Scoop.IT resource to find the latest things that he’s found, bookmarked, and shared for anyone to dig in to.

If you read the entirety of the interview, you’ll see that Tom has given us some insights into how he finds the resources that he shares.  Links will take you to the resources online if you’re interested in following.

There is one link that I think is worthy of special recognition.  In the interview, I ask Tom how the OCSB handles the concept of Digital Citizenship.  I know that’s a big concern for many districts.  Ottawa Catholic has that covered already in a project they’re calling “Samaritans on the Digital Road“.


It’s a terrific example as to how a Google Site can be used to collect such a resource.  Many people who have adopted the Google platform in education have created their own resources for these purposes and certainly this from the OCSB shows how to do it.

This complete site addresses the concept of digital citizenship from JK/SK right through Grade 12.

Navigation to a grade is accomplished through a menu on the left side of the screen.

Within each grade, you’ll have a menu to the resources similar to this.  (Grade 12 menu)

You’ll see the actual lesson plan along with SMARTBoard and non-SMARTBoard resources just a click away.

Each of the lessons indicated which of the Ontario Curriculum Expectations can be addressed with the lesson.  As OCSB is a Catholic school district, you’ll also see references to the Catholic expectations addressed as well.

I know that many people are doing summer AQ courses or are already planning for lessons in the fall.  This resource may well serve as inspiration for your own works.