This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great reading of blogging thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers. OK, they’re not necessarily blogging thoughts; maybe it would be best to say that they are thoughts that are then blogged?

Regardless, enjoy…


First Day Back

This may well be a post, albeit a two-parter, that every educator could write. After the Christmas/New Year’s Break, it’s a return to school. If you were thinking about writing this post, Diana Maliszewski beat you to it.

There’s an interesting observation in one of the messages that she includes in the post “Connection over curriculum”. That’s an important concept; not everyone celebrates the break in the same way, if at all.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine over the break and he was quoting a letter to the editor of a local newspaper where the advice was that the big presents under the tree shouldn’t come from Santa because it only invites a comparison of gifts and a feeling perhaps that Santa might like you more because you got a Ferrari and I only got a book. Making the connection first could lead to better things.

Part 2 of the post reveals that it was a successful first day back, although with an interesting note about morning announcements. The big takeaway that has some discussing things is Diana’s dismal attempt at hitting green lights on the way to work. It’s a mathematical inquiry project in the making.


TESOL’S ELECTRONIC VILLAGE ONLINE

I hadn’t heard the term “Electronic Village” for a long time. It takes me back to when I joined the Ontario one where I got the “dougpete” handle. John Allan, writing for the TESOL blog, tells us about their village.

In particular, it’s interesting to note the range of professional learning opportunities for members.

  • Getting Online as a Teacherpreneur
  • Mother Tongue Use in the EFL Classroom
  • Are You a Fair Tester?
  • Seamless Classroom Management with EdTech

and a number more. There are 14 courses in all (although there are actually 16 choices when you go to the registration page), some which can lead to a certificate or you’re invited to audit them.

It’s also interesting to see someone use the PBWiki resource so effectively. I thought I might be the last person using it. It turns out I’m not.


Elevate your Audience

I wish that I had someone with Noa Daniel’s approach when I was in school and we had to do presentations. Yes, with my dumb luck, I would always be the 16th of 16 presentations in a class.

When I look back on how I developed this part of the BOB approach, I recall being upset by the yawns of some students during presentations. That’s when I first decided that there were to be no more than 3 presentations on a given day- enough time before a break was required. How is it fair to the presenter who goes last in a long line up of presenters if the audience has grown tired of sitting and listening to presentations? 

While not explicitly stated, Noa does address the problems with the traditional approach to presentations – if you’re old enough, you remember those numbered recipe cards that you read from for your presentation. For those not old enough to remember, think of people reading Powerpoint or Google Slides presentations.

What about the audience? We’ve all nodded off during such presentations or university courses, I’m sure.

Audiences have the power of making a presentation into a shared experience. If the audience is listening and has a chance to interact with the content, the product and/or the presenter, we can do more with our classroom presentations, turning presenters into co-teachers and the audience into co-learners.

Could she be turning out the next generation of powerful speakers using an approach that engages the audience so that there’s no sleeping?

The only thing left to do is to approach the notion that all projects are assigned, worked on, and then presented at the same time. Just like in the “real world” – NOT!


Friday Two Cents: Positive Thoughts For The New Year

Paul Gauchi notes that many people use January 1 as the date to start life-changing decisions. You know – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, …

As he says, these noble thoughts are pretty much history by Super Bowl time. (Wow, people last that long?)

He encourages you to think about being 90 and looking back on what seems so important right now.

Maybe that will help put things into perspective.

If you need more, consider the quote from Willie Nelson that he closes with.


Has inclusive education gone too far? – The Globe and Mail debate

What I appreciate about Paul McGuire’s writing is that he shares it from the perspective of a principal. I never had that perspective and many principals are not this open with their sharing of thoughts. Certainly, current principals have to be careful.

It is another world and those assistants and teachers that deal with challenging students are certainly becoming more vocal it seems. It’s a message that Paul wants to take to his voicEd Radio show dealing with “important public issues” in his Class Struggle Podcast along with his partners Heather Swail and Stephen Hurley.

Consider this observation from one impacted that Paul included in his post.

Over those years my job changed dramatically; from helping students (with varying needs) achieve their potential in class, to keeping students with often volatile behaviours from being a threat to others while in a “regular” classroom.

It’s an important discussion to have – the post is full of Paul’s thoughts – and won’t be solved anytime soon.

But, it will never be solved if it’s not discussed and that’s the point.


Supporting Struggling Students in Math

You can’t take a look at education issues of the day without looking at mathematics. It’s always been a target in education with ideas for “reform” and I suspect will always be.

Deborah McCallum explores the Lawson Continuum in this post.

A neuro-typical student might start with less efficient strategies on the Lawson continuum, and over time, master more efficient strategies that help them develop mastery of the skill. The hope is that students that are developing ‘normally’, will be able to choose the most appropriate strategy for the specific problem they are working with, and will continue to be able to do this as problems get more and more difficult.

Looking back, I think (I hope) that I was a typical student. In my world, getting the answer was important. I don’t know that I was particularly challenged to finding “more efficient strategies” until I hit Grade 13 and then university. It was at that point that I think I fully appreciated the beauty and elegance of mathematics.

I struggled, sure, everyone does at times but not to the extent of the student that requires intensive support.

Deborah does a nice job of outlining a variety of strategies that might help that struggling students.

The list is most certainly of value but I think, even more importantly, reading this post for any teacher who is dealing with struggling students will feel a sense of knowing that they’re not the only ones dealing with this issue. The value of a big list like this is providing alternatives for students – if they’re at this level, it may be necessary to work through a number of strategies.

If there was only one way, teaching mathematics would be easy.


A New Year, A New Semester

One of the big takeaways from my interview earlier this week with Terry Greene was his sharing of the big list of bloggers as part of the Ontario Extend program. I’m going to look forward to going through them.

So, I started and landed on this post from Lisa Koster. The title caught my attention because it really describes one of the best parts of being an educator – having do-overs periodically. New faces, new subjects, new courses, can all renew enthusiasm for the job.

As you depart one in favour of another, it’s always nice to do a little reflection and Lisa does that in this post. There was one comment that reminds me that we are indeed in a different time.

 I’ve had a number of challenges trying to motivate students to not only come to class, but stay and participate. I’ve also had some great successes where I saw students actively participating and having fun with math.

That does bring out a couple of thoughts about higher education.

  • Students are a little older and are held to a higher standard as well as the instructors/professors. They can elect, at their peril, to vote with their feet on a particular topic or class
  • When I was at university(ies), and maybe this is the cheap Doug talking, I never skipped or left classes early that I can recall. I paid for it, darn it, and I’d better be taught!

Is there a higher sense of entitlement? It’s interesting to ponder and, certainly in K-12 where attendance is taken and enforced, a whole different world.

It’s interesting to read and reflect on.

Next for Ontario Extend is the mOOC and I’ll look forward to reading Lisa’s and other thoughts as they embrace that.


I hope that you’re having a terrific Friday and that you take time to click through and read these posts in their entirety and drop off a comment or two.

And, add this bloggers to your Twitter network

This blog post is part of a regular Friday series. You can check out previous posts here.

This post originally was posted to:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.

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