This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great week of sharing thoughts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always something to engage and get my mind thinking and, for that, I’m so grateful.  Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

The Undervalued Sense

We always talk about getting the perfect title for a blog post to hook potential readers.  This one by Diana Maliszewski had me hook, line, and sinker.  I tried to guess what sense it might be before visiting and I’ll confess to drawing a blank.  It could be any of them.

“I smell you. I smell you Ms. Molly.” I’m pretty used to my personal space being invaded by little people, who touch, grab, and hug me constantly, but this scent examination unnerved me at first.

OK, from the first paragraph, I determine that maybe she didn’t bathe or something.  Sorry, Diana.

She expanded on the concept and brought in so much that we now take for granted – perfume-free workspaces, for example – and then how to encourage the use of this scent in the classroom.

This approach totally took me by surprise but I’ll admit; I enjoyed the read and thinking.

The value of grades?

Speaking of thinking, Jamie Reaburn Weir’s post challenges the notion of a number given to a student.  Does the number define the student?

Any teacher worth their salt would answer the definition part with a resounding “NO”.

It brought back a memory of an absolutely genius young lady that I taught for three years in Computer Studies.  She couldn’t do anything wrong, it seemed.  I remember once giving her a 99 on some sort of assessment that was drop dead on target for what was required.  Not only was she smart, she had just the nicest way of approaching things.  She waited until the entire class had left and then asked me to show her what she missed so that it would never happen again.

I also remember a small handful of students in my education class who obviously had done the bare minimum for the assessments (and got the appropriate mark) and then went directly to the Dean about it.  When the Dean and I reviewed their submissions, I was not only supported but got into a great philosophical discussion about assessment.

The conclusion is an interesting tack on to Jamie’s post – we don’t let the number define the student; the student allows the number to define themselves.

Either way, as Jamie notes, there are other ways of thinking about assessment and her students had ideas.

But, for now, we have these hurdles that society has accepted as proof of accomplishment.

I think real change has to go beyond just the school system; it has to be a change in societal attitudes about what defines success in education.  That will be a much tougher nut to crack.

Do people do well if they want to, or if they can?

OK, maybe Sue Dunlop has the answer or at least can take our thinking along a different road.

I think we had the same parents…

So, with respect to students, what can be done to make them want to.

Then, in an unexpected turn, Sue talks about the other partners in education.

What can be done there?

Apple Watch and all about Complications

After reading Anne Shillolo’s post, I can safely say I know much more about the history of watches than I ever thought that I would.

It took me on a tangent to read about Patek Philippe & Co. and the effect on the Apple Watch.  How could a company created in 1851 impact a modern wearable device?

It’s all in the complications.

The website for Patek Phillippe watches states, “A ‘complication’ is any additional horological function to the display of hours, minutes and seconds.”

“Complicated watches made by Patek Phillippe are assigned to one of two categories.”

I’m just having visions of educators at the Bring IT, Together Conference next week comparing and contrasting complications.

Just Two Words

Another smile to my face.

Sue Bruyns starts this post with reference to the cliche “Have a nice day”.

Years ago, there was a gentleman that worked in another part of the school who came to my desk and asked for a bit of advice or a favour or bite of my sandwich or something.  I don’t recall.  I just remember that we somehow interacted and, as he left, I said “Have a nice day”.

I still remember his response.  He turned back and said “Why?  Do you really care?”

I didn’t have the heart to say “No, not really and I have less inclination now to ever care…”

Years later, and I’m reading Sue’s blog post.

Now that I’m wiser, I realize that the statement is just a collection of words, non-committal, and just done because it was expected to be.

Maybe I should have said “Now that you’ve eaten my sandwich, or now that I’ve helped you, how are you planning to make the rest of the day special?”  Or something.  A question is really a prompt for further thinking and interaction.  A statement indicates that we’re done and there’s no further interaction expected.  If the goal is relationship building, maybe the focus should be on asking a question instead.

Sue may be on to something here.

Playing With Green Screen (…finally!)

Of all the computery things that you can do, is there nothing that’s more fun than working with a green screen?  In this post, Colleen Rose talks about her experience setting things up in her classroom.

Selection_435Plus, she’s bringing it to the Bring IT, Together conference next week.  Is there any place that uses a green screen better than Niagara Falls?  How many places can you purchase a picture of yourself going over the falls using the technique?

I have lots of fond memories of working the green screen myself.  Once, at the professional learning lab at Dowswell, I wanted to play but had no green screen available until I realized that the data projector shining on a SMART Board provides a nice one.  Plus, you can get some interesting 3D effects if you spend a lot of time at it.  (or so I’ve heard)

I also recall an ECOO conference a few years ago when my friend Nazreen brought me on the stage as a stunt dummy for a Hall Davidson green screen demonstration.  Sadly, I had worn my green/blue chequered shirt that day.  We successfully answered the question “who don’t weather forecasters ever wear green?”

This could be a great deal of fun next week.

The more we learn, the more we QUESTION?

In an interesting followup to the field trip to the dump, Peter Cameron’s class had questions.

Selection_436Lots more questions had arisen from the outing and are available in this post.

Of course, this could lead to some variability.  What if Mr. Cameron owned an F-150 instead?

Thanks to all of the above for their wonderful posts.  Lots of thinking on my part here and writing a response in a blog post makes it even better!

Please click through and enjoy their original thinking.  There’s great stuff there and in all of the Ontario Edublogs.  Check out some of the great writing and thinking and add yours to the list if it’s not there already.

11 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

  1. As always Doug, I really appreciate how you connect educators through this weekly blog post. I’ve now had a chance to re-explore some of my favourite posts from the last couple of weeks and read some new ones. I know that I’m not alone in enjoying this weekly post of yours.

    One post here that I have read before and really enjoyed (and commented on) was Sue Dunlop’s one. This year, I’ve also started to think and learn more about Dr. Ross Greene’s CPS approach. I found your thoughts on Sue’s post really interesting (so much so that I had to reply). You wondered, “what can be done to make them [the students and our colleagues] ‘want to’?” I wonder, does the answer (and our thinking) change if the question becomes, “what can be done so that they (the students and our colleagues) ‘can’?” I’d be curious to know what people think. It’s a question that I’ve been considering a lot since learning about CPS.

    Thanks for giving me more to think about, Doug! Happy Friday!


  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aviva. I think we’re all wondering the same thing as a result of Sue’s post but playing wordsmith to get the words right. Let me try a football analogy. What can we do to set them up for the desire to “want to”?


  3. I can see what you’re saying Doug. I can’t help but wonder though: don’t we all have the desire to “want to?” If “people do well if they can,” then is not doing well, a result of not wanting to, or not being able to? As I’ve read and thought more about CPS, I continue to wonder how important these words may be. I’d be curious to know what you and others think. Thanks for the continued conversation!



  4. You’ve opened the door to a few more angles on this, Aviva. I can tell you that, in the secondary school classroom, there are times when students are perfectly capable but elect not to. I can recall a few specific students who did the math before the exam to determine what they needed to get the credit and then stopped working there. Way up top, Jamie talked about marks and, to me, this was a perfect argument for not having marks.

    If marks are the ultimate landing spot, then I think it needs to be reconsidered. I’ll go Maslow on you – shouldn’t the ultimate goal always be self-actualization? How does that work in a world governed by marks?

    There are some people who volunteer to work with communities overseas, for example. What is the motivation to make them “want to”. It certainly isn’t for what education is famous for – marks. It’s much more personal than that. Shouldn’t understanding why some people “want to” do that (or any other example) be fodder for making it work?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doug, you just changed the context for me (i.e., second school and marks), and now you’re giving me more to think about. When I read Sue’s post, I was thinking about it in terms of the CPS method, which stems from the belief that, “kids [people] do well if they can” versus “want to [wanna],” and so if they’re not doing well, it’s a result of a lagging skill or unsolved problem. For some students, could marks be that “problem?” Is it student choice to not put in the effort anymore (and not do well), or is the fault, a system that possibly increases stress or does not provide that engagement (that ultimately decreases a desire to learn)? If students, at this point, stop working, is this a case of “not wanting to do well” or “not being able to do well,” as the system isn’t in place to inspire (or support) them in doing so? Or is this whole mark example outside of the CPS model, and only enters it if issues surface. Is not doing well an “issue,” or is it just a “behaviour” (for lack of a better word) that only counts as an issue in this kind of model? I’m not sure. I think that I need someone with a better understanding of CPS to weigh in here … or maybe even Dr. Ross Greene himself. You certainly have me thinking tonight, Doug!


    P.S. It really is amazing what a difference a word can make!


  6. Doug and Aviva,

    Interesting line of discussion. Full disclosure, I’m a firm believer in the fact that “people do well if they can”. When addressing the question of “how do we make kids want to do well?”, the answer is simple: they already want to do well.

    Does this mean that every kid wants to do exactly what we put in front of them? Certainly not. But as my friend and colleague @vkbennett just posted on twitter, it is important for us to ask ourselves about the value of the task or expectation. Doug – your example about calculating the % required on the exam in order to do the least amount of work possible…how clever! While it may not be the compliant response that we’d expect, it is a sign of creativity, planning, and prioritizing.

    If I’m not going to be an engineer and I need to pass grade 11 math, an efficient effort:mark ratio IS an adaptive response!

    In the past, I’ve adjusted Greene’s aphorism to “people adaptively respond if they can”, because it seems a bit more respectful of differences that might be reflected in gender/race/class/sexual orientation etc, since everyone’s definition of “doing well” will be influenced by these factors.

    As Aviva mentioned, a description of CPS would be remiss to not include the idea that lagging skills AND unaddressed concerns can get in the way of “doing well” or “adaptively responding”. An approach that is grounded in CPS seeks first to understand what might be preventing a student from an adaptive response. Whether secondary or elementary, we need to ask the question: what is getting in the way of this student doing well? Sometimes it is a lagging skill (e.g. difficulty expressing thoughts in words), sometimes it is an unaddressed concern (e.g. this history lesson doesn’t reflect/respect my culture), and sometimes it is the situational demand (e.g. a mundane fill in the blanks worksheet). Most often, if a student is not meeting an expectation, then it is a combination of all three – and making them “want to” by dangling grades, rewards, etc (you can see my Kohn influence coming out here) in front of them to “make them want to” misses this point.

    So I agree with Ross Greene when he says he’s never met a kid “who just doesn’t wanna do well”.


  7. Hi Doug and all,

    I saw Aviva comments and had to chime it. Been working with CPS since this summer. My daughter is that kid and Dr Greens book has really helped.

    As Andrew has stated kids are adaptive to the situations. It isn’t that they don’t want to but that they have another agenda. The problem often is that we as adults do not listen enough to our kids to hear what they have to say.

    My daughter is the prime example. We were told she didn’t know her sight words because every time she was asked to play the game she just stared at the wall. However when we worked with her she did them fine. We asked her why she didn’t do it at school and she said to get friends. We asked her to explain and she said all of the bad kids have friends so if I act out I will have them. She was doing this and other things just to get friends but it appeared that she was doing it out of spite.
    We have a hard time listening to kids.

    When we do this they will tell us amazing things even in high school. My other problem with high school is that many of these kids have had years of adults telling them that they are problems and have just excepted it as what they are.

    I am a firm believer that all kids want to be good or want to do well, some jusy don’t have the skills or just don’t do it the way we want them too. Is that wrong? Should they be blamed?

    By the way I have loved CPS and it has worked so well this year it is scary.

    Thanks for the food for thought Doug.


  8. This is my first time reading your blog. Thank you for all the insight. A couple thoughts:
    The Value of Grades – I’d recommend reading Todd Rose’s book The End of Average for some clear, cut ways we can begin to address our reliance on numbers for assessment.
    Playing with Green Screen…finally. Take a look at TouchCast. This video creation app does much more than provide a built in green screen newsroom but its a fun place to start.


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