This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Before you read the rest of this post, take a moment to read this article.  “20 Ideas for Professional Development in the Digital Age“.  I thought that the article really touched many bases and became increasingly more relevant to those who are contemporary and continually learning as the list got longer.  The concept of developing a Personal Learning Network is really something that everyone should seek to do – because it’s 2016 – and there’s no better place than connecting with Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I’ve caught recently.  Please read on and see if you agree.


What If…?

A common theme that you run into all over the place and certainly it’s been blogged over and over is the concept of students and teachers being co-learners.  That’s the concept that Alison Bullock talks about in this post.  It’s undeniably a powerful approach but is it easier said that done?  The last time any of us were students in a formal setting would have been at university.  Unless you were a research assistant, your classes would be so far removed from this concept.  Today, you’re accountable to your school, board of trustees, Ministry of Education, — are they supportive of this concept or is it just lip service?

I totally agree with her here.

If I were a student, it would be comforting to watch my teacher learn along with me; it might even be a great opportunity for me to teach him/her, upping my self-esteem, and letting me consolidate my own learning.

Not satisfied with one, Alison concludes the post with a few other interesting wonders.


Inquiry Begets Inquiry

It’s customary, after a workshop or any PD session, for participants to give thanks to the presenters for a wonderful session.  You see it all over the place.

What about the other way around – Diana Maliszewski gives a shout out to those who were in a session that she lead as co-presenter.

Why don’t we see more of this?  Particularly when the teacher becomes the student and does the co-learning that Alison describes in her post!

I think that it really affirms the concept that we’re all in this together.


3D printing

Jonathan So has a new experience to tack onto his personal skillset.  3D Printing!

I can still remember the amazement of watching a dot matrix printer work.  Somehow, your words and pictures turn into dots and then magic happens.  After reading this, I’m impressed that the amazement is still there.  The technology certainly is more sophisticated.

I’ve seen a lot of 3D printing posts and pictures but Jonathan takes this one step further and it’s really a step that should always be taken.  I remember the advice given to me by my first superintendent.  You can do all the whiz bang stuff you want but, it’s educationally useless if you don’t tie it to some curriculum.

Now on the whole this project may look simple but it covers so many curriculum expectations.

The connection is very nicely done and we’re the recipient of his shares of screen captures and pictures of the final product.  Awesome.


The 2016 #BulldogsLiteracy School Day Game

Is there anything more Canadian that hockey?  Is there anything more important in education than literacy?

Aaron Puley gives us a great story of what happens when the two of them come together.  It sounds like a huge undertaking and would most certainly require a great deal of cooperation throughout his district.

This past Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, I was proud to have once again worked closely with The Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club to provide an engaging day of literacy and hockey for 6,000 of our elementary students (Grades 4-6) representing 51 of our schools. In total, over 9,000 students, including those from HWCDSB, descended on FirstOntario in Hamilton, Ontario to watch the annual School Day Literacy Game. The Dogs may have lost but EVERY student in the building won!

What a great opportunity for the students and, of course, since this is 2016, it was all captured on social media.  Embedded in the post is some student reading and it’s all captured in a Storify document.


OSSEMOOC Blog Hop – What if…

Paul McGuire hopped on the blog hop with thoughts from a principal’s perspective.  Kudos to him for doing this and being so vocal.  It’s not always easy to take this stance.

Paul was an invaluable team member on the Bring IT, Together conference when I was co-chair.  He started the blog basically to document that experience but it’s great to see that he continues to blog about his learning.  If you’re not afraid to take a risk and be labelled a “rogue”, Paul’s school just might be the place to be!


My Brother is Autistic: Part 5

Many of we faithful readers have been waiting for Royan Lee’s next part of his “My Brother is Autistic” series.  It’s now online.

If you haven’t been reading, don’t start with this post.  Go back to Part 1 and start from the beginning.

I know that you’ll find the entire series insightful and well worth sharing with colleagues.


Create your own Google Search Engine

I’ve done workshops on this in the past.  If I recall correctly, it was called “Create your own subset of Google” or something.  It was for a couple of purposes – one to teach students how to become effective searchers and avoid the uneducational things one might stumble upon on the web – not all ***s are ***.  Fill in your own topics.  It was also embraced by teacher-librarians to create topic or subject specific starting points for students.  It has always been received well and is one of the most powerful ways to teach about digital skills without most of the challenges.

I’ll be honest; I hadn’t thought about Custom Search Engines for a while but Deborah McCallum’s post brought it back to the front of my mind.  It really is a skill that any teacher should add to her/his set of abilities.  This post is wonderfully done with lots of pictures and descriptions.  If you haven’t created a Custom Search Engine take the time to do it and see if you agree that there’s a place for it in your classroom.

Deborah shares a Custom Search Engine that she calls Learning and Research and another ones called Canadian Kids Research Sites that is being crowd sourced.


From What if….. to What’s Next?

Sue Bruyns provides us with a wonderful description about how Thames Valley is welcoming Syrian students to their system and a description of their GENTLE program.  I really like the way that she describes the approach…

Nor do I have any doubt that the educators, volunteers and everyone else involved in this initiative will ever forget that they were responsible for the first impressions of school in Canada, in London and most importantly in Thames Valley, in an innovative, response and caring way.

The post is a reminder that this is an ongoing process.  So, they’ve moved beyond “What if?” and are now asking the question “What’s Next?”

Those are challenging questions.  I know that passionate educators in the Valley will rise to the occasion.


We LOVE Google Classroom…but is there anything to be wary about?

I’ll confess that, when I scanned the title, I thought “oh no, not another post about how the big bad evil empire is going to steal kids”.  Thankfully, after reading the post from Kristen Phillips, I was wrong.

Instead, it’s a reflection about the tool itself and the impact that it might have on teaching practice.

Any digital tool should be held up to this reflection.  Early and often and ongoing.

The interesting thing about anything from Google is that it’s never done.  We’ll look back at Google Classroom five years from now and may not even recognize it.  The one thing that will be consistent though is good teaching and learning with students.  That consideration should always remain paramount.

So, asking these questions now and going forward is a good thing.  Are you doing it in your practice?


How’s that for some great thinking and learning from Ontario Educators.  Drop by the original blog posts for the complete stories.  You’ll be glad that you did and then head over to the big list for even more.

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