This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and a chance for me to share some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers that got me thinking this week.  Please read on.  You’ll soon be thinking about their content too.

It’s Time To Speak Up: My “White Ribbon” Blog Post!

Aviva Dunsiger takes on a topic that I think every blogger has to come to grips with when they sit down at the keyboard.

I use Twitter primarily to share about and connect on education and classroom related happenings. I’m always reluctant to tweet about anything else. I know that I have Twitter followers from educators to administrators to parents, and I’m always very aware of this diverse audience. What will others think about my tweet? Is this topic too political? It was with these very thoughts in mind that I didn’t tweet about the Muslim travel ban.

Last week, I had included Rusul Alrubail’s post where she shared some of her very personal thoughts on the topic of the U.S. travel ban.  Aviva took the time to read Rusul’s post and then decided it was time to share her own thoughts.

She shares an interesting thought about what it means to be quiet on a topic.

Should Cell Phones Be Banned in Classrooms?

The “biggest image in a blog post” this week goes to Andrew Campbell where he shares his thoughts on cell phone use.  There has been a great deal about this topic since news reports hit social media about a Toronto school “banning” cell phones.  Well, that’s the part that hit the news; the reality is somewhat different.

In fact, the so-called ban was really just providing a set of restrictions around when students could and could not use their personal devices. Students could still bring their phones into class if their teachers wanted students to use them. Otherwise, they should be stowed in their lockers.

Andrew shares his current thoughts on the topic and I, and many, heard him talk about it on Ontario Morning on the CBC.  Andrew hasn’t always had this position – I recall a previous post from him What is the ‘D’ in BYOD? Discrimination? Divide?… where his thoughts were different.  We had discussions about this at time.

I’ve always been a proponent for their use and can recall banging the administrative wall as a school district consultant.  I’ve also tried to understand the other side.  One real concern was expressed was “What happens when students provoke a teacher and a student captures it on video and then puts it online?”  We’ve certainly see that happen.  Kids will be kids.  Not innocent myself, I can also remember in my own Grade 5 or  6 class where all we students agreed that we would begin coughing at a particular time of day.  Today, the anger of that teacher might be on social media before we got home.  Our class just got to enjoy extended contact time with our teacher at recess.

There is no simple answer but the whole umbrella of digital citizenship does indeed lay at the heart of this.  As with all tools, there needs to be an appreciation for when the technology is to be used and when it isn’t.

We both agree that the best possible solution occurs when the school or school district provides all the technology needed.  That’s not always possible so why wouldn’t you be used that powerful device in the student backpack?  (Or realistically, in their left hand)

“Mr. A is always on his phone in class…”

It isn’t just students.  Cal Armstrong is always on his phone in class apparently.

To the naive, I supposed it could be viewed as a non-stop opportunity for him to stay up to date with Facebook.

If you know Cal, you know two things – one, it will be very professional and two, it will have something to do with Office 365.

I also created a Microsoft Form ( to track learning skills and other observations of learning.  What’s nice is that everything gets pushed into an Excel Spreadsheet and I can pull out by day, by section, by student, by learning skill — and because it’s automatically date/time stamped I can also match pictures to anecdotes.

Long gone are the days when teachers have to stick around after school or at home to do those sort of observations that can help later with assessment.  The technology using educator, and Cal is certainly is one, captures it the moment that it happens.  He describes the process in this blog post.

A great technology tip that he includes in the post is to get yourself a swiping keyboard.  He uses Swiftkey; I use the Google keyboard.  I find it far more reliable than the traditional hunting and pecking and certainly the value is seen when you’re walking.

Unlike a computer or a laptop that locks you at a place to hold the keyboard, the phone makes so much sense since it sits in the palm of your hand and is perfect when you’re moving around the room.  Thinking about doing it? – check out this post.  You read a lot about digital leadership; here’s an educator modelling it.


Peter Cameron set the stage for deeper understanding with his class as they walked the “Secret Path”.

Over the past three weeks my students and I walked the Secret Path with Chanie Wenjack, a young 12 year old boy who ran away from the Cecilia Residential Residential School in Kenora, Ontario in 1966. Our journey with Chanie can be read in our blog post: ‘Walking the Secret Path’.

For complete context, you also need to read this post “Walking the Secret Path“.

In addition to the classroom activity, which is worth reading the post to begin with, Peter’s reaching out to additional classroom resources should serve as inspiration for all educators, no matter what the topic.

It’s another great example as to how Peter continually takes his students beyond the traditional resources and they really dig into things.

Who Makes the Biggest Difference?

This post, from Mark Chubb, is one of those posts that should make you stop, think, and then maybe align your priorities.  In the context of an Olympic skater, the question is posed:


This led into a nice discussion about assessment versus evaluation.  Sometimes, you get so wrapped up in the day to day, that you may need to step back and rethink.

This post will help you with that task.

Be Their Cheerleader

And, another timely message from Megan Valois.

The message comes through strongly in the title and she nicely describes what it means to her in the content of the blog.  It’s a touching story that involves a sweaty basketball jersey.

I love sharing good news stories about my students and shouting their successes from the roof tops! I use my social media presence (including Twitter and Instagram) to promote them and brag about them!

Further to that though, I had a personal moment with another friend this week.  It was  Pączki Tuesday and she had purchased boxes and boxes of them for her class.  It was a treat that many of her students may not have known existed and one where their parents may not have been able to afford to treat the family to.  She shared a wonderful story about how even the most challenging of students was onside, at least for that day.  Kindness and knowing that you have someone in your corner cheering you on can make all the difference in the world.

Reflecting on the Unintended Outcomes that Boosted My Learning

Can we agree that learning comes best and perhaps stickiest when you didn’t intend to learn?  Annette Gilbert shares her thoughts on this as a learning coordinator.

After years of facilitating a variety of professional learning opportunities, I have come to realize that sharing your writing, especially personal stories, accelerates relationships because it requires vulnerability and authenticity to build connections. I could not have predicted the power this had.

What have you learned unintentionally lately?

Then, there was this.

I received a flurry of new followers, all education students from Brock University.  It looked like Camille Rutherford had done it again.  So, dutifully like I do with new followers, I checked them out to see if they were Ontario Educators so that I could add them to a list.

In addition to the Faculty reference, there were four in a row that leaped out at me because they had included a link to a blog.  So, I checked out their blogs.  It appears as though they had been given a writing assignment – read one article from the newsletters generated from one of the lists and write a reflection.  What a great idea.

Not only does it get them started with blogging, it allows them to see Ontario Educators in action.  Learning and refining the teaching craft doesn’t stop after the days at the Faculty.  What a way to show a commitment to lifelong learning to those who will soon join our profession.

You can check out their thoughts here.

It looks like they’re off to a great start.  Why not include these students in your network so that they can learn along with you?

Thanks for dropping by.  I hope that you can find the time to visit these blogs to read these posts in their entirety.  There’s always something new to learn along with Ontario Edubloggers.

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