This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to another Friday.  Just a few short hours and it’s the weekend!  Check out some great reading to inspire from the keyboards of Ontario Edubloggers.


Is There a Best Way to Learn Mathematics?

I suppose that the best answer might be “we don’t know for sure”.  Otherwise, we would have mastered this years ago and wouldn’t be dealing with the issue yet again.  In this post, Kyle Pearce takes us through his thoughts about the topic.  It’s well thought through and reasoned.

The challenge is that most teachers need to teach Mathematics and yet many of them haven’t had to truly study it since they were in school themselves.  So, often, they use the techniques that worked for them.  Then, into the middle comes an expert, or a consultant who listened to an expert and in a workshop, they’re expected to change practice to something new.  The province is going to put more money towards the concept.  Hopefully, it’s with a unified direction and there’s enough time and support that everyone can get on board with and be effective.  The metric is the test; that’s consistent for all.  Teaching practice isn’t. If you’re caught in this, Kyle’s got some interesting thoughts from his perspective.


Using Poetry to Facilitate Discussions

I attribute my hatred for learning poetry to “The Lady of Shalott“.  For some educational reason, we had to memorize the poem (including the punctuation) and write three verses from memory every day, over a period of time.  I have no memory of its importance, and until I looked up the link above, I honestly couldn’t even tell you what it was about.  When Rusul Alrubail makes the connection to castor oil, I’m right there with her.  After this experience, I honestly don’t think I ever studied another poem.

When I read the rest of Rusul’s post, I’m so impressed with what more you can do with poetry.  I enjoyed reading about her three learnings and feel that I really missed something.  Most certainly, we never used poetry as a launchpad to important discussions.

I will confess to enjoying Andy Forgrave’s occasional Haiku although sometimes they go flying over my head.


School vs. Learning

To extend my thoughts above, it’s a natural that Colleen Rose’s post comes next.

Put me in a Mathematics or Computer Science class and I’m there.  Make me study poetry, and it’s not so much.  While Colleen talks about students not thriving, I think it’s also important to consider the student that is partially thriving.  Let’s make sure that we’re not overlooking them as well?


Thoughts prompted by Andreas Schleicher’s (OECD) Keynote

Heidi Siwak had the wonderful opportunity to attend the OECD conference and shared a thought or two about the keynote.

I had a couple of experiences with non-standard timetables and they were inspiring.  They also show how we’re limited by our structure.

One was just an “Education Day” when I was in high school.  Formal classes were cancelled and each teacher was in her/his classroom and had posted a list of their personal passions/interests/hobbies.  We were left to wander the school and drop in to the classrooms for a talk and to learn about their interests.  It had to be a real risk for the school administration to do this.  What if you threw a party and nobody came?  Well, everyone came!  It was like the original edCamp – we just followed our interests and had a terrific day.  Next day, it was back to normal.

The other timetable was followed during my first years of teaching.  We had a “tumbling timetable”.  On Day 1, Period 1 was first and the classes went 1-2-3-4-5-6.  On Day 2, Period 2 was first and we went 2-3-4-5-6-7  and it continued for the 8 days.  There were so many advantages.  No class was ever first thing in the morning every day and no class was ever last thing in the day and ended up being dropped or shortened because of assemblies or sports.  Every class tumbled off the timetable for two days before coming back on.  The concept was eventually lost when cooperative education came along and students needed to be on the job at the same time every day.  Then, came semestering.

In both cases, the model worked very nicely but had to suffer because of the structures that a system forces on them.  Is it time to rethink just what’s important – learning/success or a system that’s easily managed?


Practicum Reflection: Week 8

Who can ever forget their practice teaching sessions?  You step into the middle of someone else’s routine and take over.  You may go off with a completely different style or you might just be a continuation of the regular way that teaching/learning is done.  Some classes are well prepared to welcome the guest to the classroom; others want to push you just as far as they can!  I have the memories of both.

I’ve been following the reflections of Spencer Burton as he “learns about learning”.  It brings back some awesome memories for me.  The latest post will make you feel warm and fuzzy, I’m sure.

I won’t spoil the surprise…click through for pictures.  If you have some time, read his previous posts.  I’ll bet it stirs up personal memories.


Blog-gone it – that’s a Great Idea: Tagging Posts for the Reader

On the AMDSB Technology Learning Community blog, Leigh Cassell shares some advice for classrooms with multiple student posters.

I agree with her about the use of the Reader tool.  It can be a real time saver.  Her advice about using tags for filtering to easily manage things could be the time saver you’re looking for.


Keep rowing

Paul Cornies never fails to provide inspirational quotes (three at a time) and a question to personalize the quote.

What a fabulous reminder about the climb and its importance.

Don’t you wonder about the other quotes he’s provided?


If Everything is Social Media to teens…

There are a lot of important messages in this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd.  She provides a nice graphic as a reminder.

In the post, she takes us on a wander through various connected tools, including some that she notes as ones that we don’t normally throw into the fray as “social media”.  Her focus is on students; I can’t help but wonder if they don’t search out these alternative tools because the grups have invaded their traditional platforms.

I think there’s an important message in this post for everyone who would use connected tools and encourage students.  Nothing is quite as simple as you might think when there is the opportunity for abuse.  Her concluding sentence makes me wonder if we’ve been doing it all wrong.  Maybe we’re wrong when we focus on Digital Citizenship.  Maybe the focus should be on Digital Leadership instead.  Is it OK for students to just “get along” as a citizen and not do anything stupid or should they all be considering themselves “leaders” to demonstrate their skills and fitness to lead.  Is being successfully “Googled” and not finding anything bad enough?


Thanks, yet again, Ontario Edubloggers.  It’s another wonderful week of great reading and reflection.

Please take a few moments to click through and read these posts in their entirety.  Then head over to the big list for some more great reading.

4 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

  1. jencasatodd says:

    Hi Doug,
    Thanks for another great compilation of blogs and for including mine! I’d like to reflect on your musing, “I can’t help but wonder if they don’t search out these alternative tools because the grups have invaded their traditional platforms”. In the past few days there has been, it seems to me, and inordinate time being spent talking about Snapchat in the classroom. I even got convinced to add a few educators to my snapchat, but I refuse to use it or teach about it from that stand point, because my 16 yr old has explicitly told me not to! They use that platform to be social, and for fun. I think we too often think that if we get into these space, we’ll engage kids more. I think there is some merit to being in spaces with kids, knowing how the spaces work, capitalizing on spaces that can provide a powerful mechanism for social change…but at the end of the day, teens want (and deserve?) a space where they can be goofy and have fun without educators invade their spaces. It’s a tricky balance because we know that it’s important that kids be mentored in their use of these tools. Thanks for getting me thinking about that with your commentary (my favourite part of this series)! I see another blog post on the topic in my future. In the meantime, you can follow me on Snapchat🙂

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  2. Thanks, Jennifer. I think that you had a lot of great points and for people who say “we teach digital citizenship” a great deal of food for thought. Like most things, there isn’t a right/wrong solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heidi Siwak says:

    Hi Doug,

    It was interesting to hear Schleicher – he definitely pushed my thinking. Interestingly, the OECD document, Innovative Learning Environments, shares timetables from schools around the world, starting on p. 84. http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/innovativelearningenvironments.htm I certainly appreciate having time in my new position to read what is happening globally and locally. I think the timetable/school structure issue merits discussion. I would love to know how schools and boards across the province are scheduling to allow for interdisciplinary and student-directed learning. Making that visible might help other boards and schools with their thinking.

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  4. Hi Doug,

    Thanks so much for including me on your blog and for your kind words! I’m glad that my reflections about my student teaching can evoke emotions in other educators.

    You’ve complied some really great posts here and I look forward to reading more!

    Like

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