This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, as noted yesterday, it’s been a tough couple of days. As it turns out, despite all of the troubleshooting undertaken, the voicEd Radio edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs ended up not being saved. Such are the challenges of live radio.

Never fear though – today is another day and here’s the blog version with the five posts that Stephen and I had a nice chat about and a couple of more.


Class Size and Composition Matters

On the ETFO Heart and Art blog, Deb Weston shares her thoughts backed with plenty of research and a lesson in history about classrooms. The key message is right up front.

Much has changed in the last few years with the promotion of student integration and inclusion of special education students into mainstream classrooms. This integration policy further resulted in closures of contained classrooms thus limiting alternate options for students with significant learning and behaviour needs.

I’m not sure who her intended audience is with this. Those who go to a classroom later today know what realities and challenges they face. Old timers like me will remember self-contained classrooms and even schools where specialized teachers could intensively help every student. We knew that not every student had the same pathway.

That’s not the reality today. In a few years, there will be teachers that will just have to listen to the stories of the good ol’ days. I certainly hope that Teacher Education is staying abreast of this; I know that my Faculty days didn’t cover anything about how to deal with such classrooms.

I think that the most shameful part of this post is the recognition of some parents that they can’t wait for the school system to test students for appropriate modifications and are paying for it themselves.

Students, Education Assistants, Teachers, Parents, Principals, School Districts are all aware of the challenges. It seems that it’s the province which guides the funding isn’t. Or isn’t listening.


Exam

Well, you know what they say about paybacks!

Amanda Potts takes a little retro-educational trip to take a course for upgrading. Kudos to her for that.

But, there’s one thing. Assessment, er, final exam!

Three hours of it.

I haven’t written a three hour exam since university so I felt for her. My most striking memory was hating those that finished early and got up and left. Are they really that much smarter than me?

Writing the exam at home bring in modern comforts like a tea for company during the time period but that also brings up new challenges.

I’ll admit to smiling when she describes the exam and how she attacks it just like we tell students to. Nobody starts on question 1 and then moves on. You plan strategically as she describes.

There are a couple of takeaways.

I’m lucky because I know I did well, but I have renewed empathy for my exam-hating students.

So congratulations to her and let’s hope that her “exam-hating students” will be the recipient of a different form of final assessment.


Digital Breakouts Using Google Forms

The concept of the breakout room has been big over the past couple of years. And, if is good enough to gain the attention of the general public, why not the classroom?

Shelly Vohra shares how she implemented a breakout strategy with her students. I think there’s a great deal of value for those of you who are considering this because Shelly describes step by step how she implemented things when she did it.

Since it has a digital component, Shelly used Google Forms as a strategic tool to do the deed. If Google products are used regularly, technology wouldn’t get in the road and mess things up.

There, except for a combination, lies the prize.

She describes a successful venture with her class.

Would such an approach work for you? Check out this site for even more details.


O is for Outside the Box

I’m not sure when I first heard the expression about “thinking outside the box” but I’m pretty sure that if I had a dollar for every time I heard it, I’d be fairly wealthy.

Lynn Thomas goes way beyond the superficial treatment often given by keynote speakers. Quite frankly, it’s used with the intent to inspire but I don’t know that it ever worked for me. I was always looking for exciting things to do; without them teaching can be a pretty boring profession. When you inspire students with thoughts about different things from a progressive and creative teacher, good things happen.

Have you ever seen a child take a big box and turn it into the coolest fort ever? No one said your box had to or should remain as is, using the box in a new way is all it takes.

I love the fact that she encourages you to consider that box and might have some success just modifying the box!

Of course, my focus is typically about technology and I think an Exhibit A might be those Breakout lessons described above.


Feeling the Ground by Getting Some Air

Terry Greene apparently has a fan club and members of that club asked him to blog on the WCET Frontiers website.

In this blog post, he shares the what, who, and how of his passion for podcasting.

What – just what is a podcast and why would someone want to create something like this? In particular what is “Gettin’ Air”, Terry’s podcast.

Who – now he’s just name dropping! Terry gives some indication of people he’s talked to and why. I like his criteria – Every one of my guests does important, interesting, and fabulous work

How – for the uninitiated, Terry shares his tools of the trade. Podcasting really isn’t a new thing and I had to smile thinking about the Snowball microphone. I used one of those in the 2000s. The problem I always had for long stints talking was feeling that I was nailed to the chair in one position because you don’t want to fade in and out!

I was glad to read that Terry is continually planning for the future. It will be interesting to see what he has in mind.


If we want our students to (insert word) it starts with us

Before I even read Jonathan So’s blog post, I tried a few different words – succeed, pass, win – of course, I used positive words.

Then, I read the post and got his message. Dare I say he’s thinking “out of the box”?

So, as a premise as both a parent and teacher he wonders how he can get students to try new things and will he have better success if he’s trying new things himself?

It’s an interesting concept that had me asking a couple of questions…

  • do the kids or students actually have to see you experience those new things or is just knowing that you doing them are good enough?
  • does trying something new give you empathy for something else – like, oh, writing a three hour exam, for example

Every now and again you’ll hear about the “need to fail in order to succeed”. I think the message here goes much further than that – there’s a meeting of the minds taking place that raises the stake significantly.


Slice of Life: Published

Really short blog post here by Lisa Corbett and I’ll summarize it.

She wrote something and got paid for it.

The comments to her post are much longer than Lisa’s actual post. That’s always a good thing.

You can fact check me if you wish but I’d bet real money that Tolstoy’s first writing wasn’t “War and Peace”.

In Lisa’s case, I can see all kinds of things.

  • she’s now published – things like that are important for resumes
  • her ego just got stroked – someone likes her stuff enough to publish it
  • she’s going to be more likely to write something publishable again
  • a whole lot of people that Lisa doesn’t know just read her thoughts
  • she’s on her way to being an authorative voice in another medium beyond her blog(s)
  • she probably had a professional proofreader to make her content look masterful
  • that ice cream is going to taste extra special

So, congratulations, Lisa! Remember us little guys struggling to write blog posts on your way up the publishing ladder.


What a lovely collection of blog posts! There’s a great deal of terrific writing and a little something there for everything. Please take the time to click through and read the original posts.

Follow these people on Twitter:

  • @dr_weston_PhD
  • @Ahpotts
  • @raspberryberet3
  • @thomlynn101
  • @greeneterry
  • @MrSoclassroom
  • @LisaCorbett0261

I’m sorry that the radio version didn’t go live. You missed Stephen with a bad case of the hiccups.

The blog post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

OTR Links 10/04/2019


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.