doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to another edition of “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”.  It’s a chance to share some of the great reading that I’ve been doing from Ontario Edublogs.

Here’s a bit of it …

Just Give Me a Worksheet

This may well be the worst comment that a teacher could get after preparing and delivering the most kick-butt lesson that they could for students.  You know the type – you lie away trying to find ways to formally induct students into the beautiful world of mathematics, do your research, design the activity, manage everything, and then it’s show time.  Students have the next time period(s) to enjoy your work.

So, it’s a great story that Matthew Oldridge tells of his work with some Grade 10 students – a difficult grade level to deal with at the best of times.

Truer words were never spoken about Mathematics than this from Matthew:

The problem is, worksheet mastery is more traditionally valued.

So, when you have a group of Grade 10 students, how many years have they had this traditional approach?  Textbooks don’t help the cause either.  You know the routine; the answer is in the back of the book.  So, if you check and the answer is “6”, then it’s clear that there’s one right answer and all others are wrong.  The focus is on the answer and not the whole problem solving process.

How would you respond to a student who asks:

Next time, just give me a worksheet

How Long is a Paragraph?

We’ve all done the drill when given a writing assignment, I’m sure.  You get the assignment and your first question is “How long does it have to be?”.  Other than “Can I go to the washroom”, it might be the most common question asked of teachers.  In this entry, Stepan Pruchnicky strikes out to address this.

Who hasn’t seen this picture on the wall of a classroom?

I know that I did but, thinking back, I guess we lived in a poor community.  Ours just had two slices of plain bread and a slice of cheese in the middle.  Kids today get sesame seeds on a bun and lot of healthy supporting sentences like lettuce, tomato….

Students today have all kinds of writing/publishing options and I tend to think about blogging, naturally.  Do the same rules apply there?  Generally, there are two things you want in a blog post – a catchy title to attract the reader and then a call to action at the end.  Do the same rules of formality and content apply here?  Because it’s a more relaxed forum, what’s different?  How about the embedded images, links, videos, etc.  Don’t even get me started on emoji.

Does our model need to change?

The power of listening

This is a terrific post for all educators.  Sure, it’s a personal story from Jonathan So, but it could apply to so many.

The inspiration came from a classroom community circle discussion where he noted “how much my students have grown up”.  The responses made for some great reading but there’s a wonderful message there that I’m sure that he would never have guessed….

They affirmed my thoughts and said yes but this year you listen.

It’s so easy to “fake” listening or only partially listen to stories or …

Teaching is a busy profession and it’s not surprising but there’s a strong, really strong message here.

Perhaps the call to action here for everyone is to make a conscientious effort over the course of a day or a week to reflect on whether you truly listened to students or, even more importantly, actually heard what they had to say.

Is Cell phone Banning equivalent to Book burning?

Sticking with Jonathan’s blog, he jumped into the discussion that just won’t go away.

Cell phones in the classroom.

It’s been talked about, debated, argued, and people are so passionate about it.

Consider this paragraph…

It’s a great example and you have to admire how his daughter took on the problem and reached a solution.

Here’s the kicker.  Take the YouTube video part out of the paragraph.

How would the story end?

Doesn’t that justify why we need to be able to feed student curiosity, research, and the determination of when a tool is appropriate to use?

Let’s Have Classrooms Full of Books!

Every time I read a post from Sue Dunlop, I just have this vision of her flying down the Red Hill Valley Parkway on her bike.  Context?  Read a previous TWIOE.

Before you head off to read her post and leave her a comment, think of your own classroom or classrooms you’ve visited.

Some classrooms will very clearly have a good selection of books; others not so much.

Even in a digital world where most things are possible, there still is nothing like setting yourself aside from everything else that’s going on and losing yourself in a good book.

She closes with an important call to action for everyone.

Every teacher, every educational assitant, every principal, every educator needs to make a literacy rich environment a priority in our classrooms and schools. Reading is for everyone. How can you help make this a reality?

Can anyone even offer an argument to the contrary?

If Sue came into your classroom looking for books and literacy, what would she find?

If the Shoe Fits

From Eva Thompson comes a wonderful post which could serve as a reminder, an inspiration for others, and a lecture for those who need to read this.

It’s all about the Gifted student in our schools.  This is a fairly long post but addresses so many myths and misconceptions about those students who are identified as gifted.

In the post, Eva speaks passionately about their needs – they can’t be ignored just because they’re gifted – they still have needs and should have resources and content that will be appropriate for them.  The goal of an education system should be to push everyone.

Are you doing it?

What more can you do?  What more concerns should you have?

Eva addresses so much of this in the post.  You should read this.

Innovation Reality Check

Jennifer Casa-Todd’s most recent post will leave you feeling a bit guilty because you might have a little bit of lust for the school down the street that might have something that your school doesn’t.

But imagine this school:

So, when you think about “innovation”, you probably think in terms of your reality.  Does innovation always revolve around stuff?

How about this school that she’s helping?

Click through to read the details.

There are always wonderful writings and thinking from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take a few moments on this Friday to click through, read them in their entirety, and drop a comment or two.  Your efforts will be appreciated.


Please share your thoughts here. I’d enjoy reading them.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: