This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I hope that Ontario educators reading this have had a relaxing March Break and are now energized for the home stretch.  Some folks have been keeping the learning and sharing alive lately.  Check out some of the recent readings that I’ve enjoyed.


Rusul Alrubail keeps the conversation about current events and her activity in social activism alive in this post.  Sadly, she’s had online attacks to her message and shares a couple of things well worth noting in this post.

First, she reminds us that you can mute Twitter accounts if you so wish to keep yourself from ever reading content from those.  This, in addition to out and out blocking them as I noted in yesterday’s post.  But, of course, be aware that there are ways around this.  For the most part, Twitter is open by design.

If you’re going to work in the activist environment, she offers excellent advice:

If you’re a social justice activist, or you want to get into this work, my biggest advice to you is to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

and concludes the post with additional words of advice.

The #OneNote Grand Tour – Evolving Questions

I remember one of the first looks into my mailbox as a beginning teacher.  The school had tried to provide us with a number of resources, including a blue and red Bic pen.  I still enjoy going into a Staples or other store to see their full line of products.  Bic even has its own world.

I think that every teacher and student understands the purpose of the red pen.  It was to ensure that mistakes that were identified were easy to find.  Of course, these days, we prefer to think of the process as one of providing feedback.

All this leads into this post from Cal Armstrong.  As I mentioned on the Voiced program, Cal is my first stop for interesting insights about Microsoft Office 365 and OneNote.  Finding support for Google stuff is easy; O365 and OneNote not so much.  Sure, there are technical notes from Microsoft that some feel “support via retweet” is sufficient.  Cal takes us further, digging into it as a designer and educator.  In this case, Cal takes a look at the concept of digital ink and feedback.


His question is important.  If digital technology delivers on its promise, then you should be constantly asking yourself “How have you changed as an educator?”  If the answer is “not much” or “I don’t know”, then either you’re not living the promise or just not paying attention.

Is Bell Work Still A Thing?

This is an interesting question from Matthew Morris.

I know that, as a secondary school teacher, the concept of “bell work” didn’t really apply.  As a computer science teacher, I can remember three types of students:

  1. the ones first to class to guarantee a computer or the best computer
  2. the ones that treated the class like every other one and dragged themselves to another day with me
  3. the ones that pooled in the hallway and required a special invitation to join their classmates

Fortunately, most were from the first group.  Every time I hear the term “bell work”, I can’t help but think of the industrial model where things start and stop with a bell or buzzer.  It didn’t really apply since our school didn’t have bells.  In the next thought, I have this image of Fred Flintstone…

I’ll bet that Matthew would appreciate you dropping by his blog and sharing your own personal thoughts about bell work.


The question about the use of cell phones in the classroom seems to be one that won’t go away.  It seems not as long as it makes the news, Andrew Campbell gets a microphone and an audience, and Donna Fry has a blog!

I think that one of the more unfortunate images that I saw (and I can’t remember where) is that of a student holding a book on his desk to look like he’s reading but instead has a cell phone hidden behind the book.  I think every teacher should take offence to the image as it perpetuates the notion that the teacher is sitting at his/her desk at the front of the room indifferent to the actual learning that is supposed to be happening.

  • teachers are always circulating to help students so this scenario shouldn’t happen
  • teachers are concerned about the issue of cell phones and other technology.  They aren’t duped by student use

The topic seems to always be presented in a binary format.  Either you’re for cell phones or you’re against them.  Ask any teacher and you’ll know that they live and work in shades of grey.

Donna’s current take is in this post.

Meanwhile, we have schools banning “cell phones” because they are a “distraction” from learning.

Or could we rephrase this as schools banning “powerful pocket computers” that give students access to the best teachers in the world?

Continuing the Conversations on Cell Phones

Melanie White runs with the conversation and certainly shows us that there are many shades of grey in this conversation.

I would agree with her assertion that students don’t even think of the devices as “powerful pocket computers” but more of a social connection.

Therein lies the root of any issue that people would have with technology in the classroom.  Many have fought for change for years with the notion of Bring Your Own Device as a way to scaffold the traditional learning and acknowledge that students have expertise in their personal choice of tools.

In the post, Melanie shares her own personal story of action research with her students.  It’s good reading and I would suggest that his brings you closer to that fence that divides the two sides of the argument.


The Power of Quiet

The setting is in a car headed to Florida and the action is listening and doing a book study with Sarah Sanders’ children.

I remember a comment from my own kids “Dad, you’re such a teacher” if I tried something like this.

Anyway, the book of choice was “Quiet Power – The Secret Strengths of Introverts” by Susan Cain.  As both a teacher and a parent, I could think of lots of ways to use the book as well as the website.

It’s a good starting point for discussion with anyone.  What kind of “vert” are you and what does this mean.

But, later on in the post, there’s an interesting question posed about education.

Does our leadership model focus and promote the “extrovert” more often?

I’ll bet you have a thought about that and sharing it on the post is certainly in order here.



Taking a drink from the waterfall

Have you ever taken a break from social media?

What does it look like?

In this post, you’ll see what it meant to Greg Pearson.


For many, I suspect, it would  be a challenge.

I know that it would be for me.  I enjoy reading; I enjoy learning; I enjoy being pushed in my thinking; I enjoy being part of a bigger thing.

Besides, if you are connected this way, and you elect to turn it off for a bit, you’ll get flooded with queries “Where are you?”  I’m anticipating this because I just may have to go dark myself in the next little while.

Greg’s take is an interesting read.

This has been another interesting collection of reading from the past while.  Thank you to those who elected to continue to share their thoughts.  Please take a moment to drop by and thank them personally.

And then, check out the big list of Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always some great reading there.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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