This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I think I could spend an entire week writing this post.  There are so many great things being shared and thought about by Ontario Educators.  But I do my best to keep track of things as I find them and pare them down to a reasonable amount.  Here’s my offerings for this Friday.


I was a refugee. I’m haunted by today’s images of child refugees

For most of us, the concept of the refugee is something that we haven’t lived.  We may read about it, see reports on media, and perhaps an interview when it percolates to the top of the news stories of the day.

In a recent blog post, previously posted to PBS NewsHour, Rusul Alrubail paints a picture of what it’s like to live in a city hit by war.

The entry puts a face to things; Rusul is a popularly connected individual on social media.  It’s an emotional post about a real person, a real family, and not just another report that you see on the news.


How Do You Create A “Yes, You Can” Mentality?

As I read this post from Aviva Dunsiger, I couldn’t help but think about how transient teachers are.  In addressing the concept of deficit mindset, she reflects on her own experience of changing schools and having students who have a different background coming into her classroom.

I was reminded of a conversation that I had with a former superintendent once on a trip to London.  We’d always get into these deep discussions and I was so much the richer for them.  In this case, we were talking much along the same lines; it probably was in September.  His solution was that any school district should hire the very best teachers that they could and they teach those students all the way from kindergarten until they graduate in Grade 8.  That would get away from the time wasted getting to know new students and covering things that you would expect to be taught in previous grades but weren’t.  You were responsible for learning in every area of a child’s life.

The closest I ever came was being in a split grade where I had the same teacher two years in a row.

In a perfect world, it makes sense and would put the responsibility for each student’s success with that one teacher.  Of course, that’s not the reality and there are all kinds of reasons why different teachers each year are equally as good.

But, when the day is done, it’s a real reminder that any school is actually driven by a team of professionals.


14 Considerations for Inquiry Based Learning

Any post by Deborah McCallum makes me stop and think.

This time, she takes on Inquiry and has an interesting angle in her thoughts about just what curriculum documents are and what they are not.

She identifies 14 conditions for inquiry although the list says 12.  I’ll bet that by putting her thoughts down. it generated more along the way.  Interestingly, she encourages responses to her post via a padlet instead of the traditional blog post reply.

That, in itself, is a statement about feedback.  Why should it be linear when you can just post everything to a wall and let your visitor decide how she will read the thoughts.

The padlet is an interesting read.  Check it out.


Bringing it (All) Together

So, I was tagged in this post by Anna Bartosik which made for an interesting reminisce about our recent discussions about pączki and dill pickle soup.  For the record, she shared with me her recipe for the soup along with strict instructions about not deviating from her instructions.  She brings into the post references to a couple of other educators that serve to demonstrate that connections could be world-wide.

But, beyond that, there was one thing that really grabbed my attention.

A random post by someone in a chat yesterday inspired today’s blog. The comment in the chat was about profiles on Twitter, and how this individual didn’t see the importance of having one. The reasoning behind it was: she uses Twitter for professional, not personal, reasons, so doesn’t want to share anything on Twitter that’s about her.

I absolutely hate that approach.  I think that we’ve all seen these “professionals”.  They climb out of the woodwork to lead a Twitter chat as a resident expert on some thing.  Other than that, they are invisible.  Sadly, when anyone interacts with them, it gives them credibility.  They’re no more connected than that box of old cables that I have sitting over there in the corner.

Those who have credibility are those who are there interacting constantly.  They’re encouraging, supporting, learning, sharing on a regular basis.  And, most importantly, they’re real people.  You know from their profile and it truly does give other context for their thoughts.

Anna’s got it right.

Now there’s a person to follow and her profile tells why.  The dill pickle soup just happened to put her over the top.  I’ve never seen a post from her telling us to “Buy my book” but instead is engaging at so many levels.  Think of your staff lounge.  Do you engage with the person who never talks about things other than their latest self-promotional creation?  I didn’t think so.  Why should it be any different online?


Genius Day?

There’s been much written about Genius Days and their value.  Student driven, student engagment, student motivation, student inquiry, student …

As Peter Cameron notes in this post, it’s so powerful and the concept is always about “student” driven events.

He’s got a different take.

What would it take to expand the concept?

I’m not sure that I totally agree with “the catch” that he describes.  I could see that becoming another checklist for accountability and another session of sitting and listening to someone else’s ideas.  What’s wrong with being passionate about your own learning and putting it out there via blog or video and let others check in if they truly are interested and passing if they weren’t?

I also believe that most educators are doing it already.  It’s just not formally recognized in collective agreements.  That’s probably a good thing because then language would have to be drafted to build in the accountability part.  By the same token, it shouldn’t be relegated to something that teachers do by themselves in the evenings or on weekends or edCamps either… If professional learning is important to a system, then they should find every opportunity to support it.  One massive event per year doesn’t cut it.


#nf10for10 “Home”

How’s that for a lead in to a blog post?  This one is by Julie Balen.

In the post, she shares and reviews 10 books that she’s identified for just those students.

I’ll bet that those students are in your school as well.  Are these books in your library?  If not, why not send the link to someone with a budget and make them part of the resources?


My If/Then Statement about Infographics

I had a conversation this morning about the so called “digital native” and their ability to do effective research.  Their answer is, of course, “Just Google it”.  Gosh, I hate that expression.

Melanie White has an answer.

While her solution is one that works for her classroom, the creation of the infographic shows some really good advice for students.  (and I’ll bet she had a bit of a revelation creating them too!)  Check out the pair of infographics that she shares.  There’s great advice there for all classrooms.


How’s that for a great collection?  I hope that you enjoyed them and are inspired in your practice.  Why not drop by and give them a comment or a notation on a padlet?  Then, check out the rest of what Ontario Educators are thinking.

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