This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And just like that, it’s another Friday. I hope that this post finds you, family, and friends healthy and ready for some great reading from Ontario Edubloggers.

A New Appreciation

Sue Bruyns is just steaming ahead with her goal of writing daily for the month of May. This post caught my eye because she made reference to a post that I had written for a Sunday “Whatever happened to …” post as she was inspired to blog about drive-in theatres. I’m humbled that she remembered the post from two years ago.

Drive-in theatres make a great deal sense as a way to provide entertainment and yet still maintain social distancing. After all, you’re in your car and only exposed to those who are with you. What was nice to me, in reading this post, is to see Sue be retrospective to drive-in theatres from the London area. I remember them as well as the one near Grand Bend that see alludes to.

Of course, the technology has moved on from VCR to DVD to pay per view to streaming … but there was still something special about going to the drive-in. Ramona Meharg joined the social media conversation as she grew up in the same area. That led to some interesting reminiscing back and forth.

Like any outings will be though, the elephant in the room will be what to do when nature calls. As long as you have an empty tub of popcorn, guys won’t be too hard pushed but Sheila Stewart sealed the conversation with an exclamation point and a costly option.

Then came this – Yankee Stadium Will Turn Into A Giant Drive-In Movie Theater And Concert Venue This Summer

I started thinking – typically schools have one side (usually the gym) which is just a big brick wall and a big parking lot. Could the concept be replicated locally?

Moving Forward With Grace

Beth Lyons is looking like a genius by not selecting a single word for 2020 but allowing herself to choose a word per month.

For this month, she has chosen the word “Grace”. What a lovely word. And it’s so incredibly important for the way that she’s thinking and it might be appropriate for you as well.

Read her post to think of all the ways that she’s thinking of “Grace” and how it is important to her right now.

What is meaningful work?

This is a good question. Students wonder about it all the time. Teachers should wonder as well.

In fact, I suspect that we all wondered when, as students, something would be placed on the blackboard for us to do.

So, he posted this as a question for his students in their learning management system and shortly received 21 answers.

As a teacher though, wouldn’t you like to think that anything you’ve taken time to have planned, decided what expectations it addresses, and the be prepared to allocated your precious resource of time towards assessing it, is meaningful?

To help determine this, you might want to ponder this…

“Work that overlaps with real life skills by putting on individual talents and interests”


This is a new project from Chris Cluff

Ramona Meharg wrote a piece for the blog talking about her father. If you’re like me, you might get a bit emotional reading this.

Ramona shares a delightful and warm blog post as a tribute to her dad who she still gets to golf with.

During his work years, he put in hard labour and Ramona has memories of it and the smells associated with it. This is a truly personal and emotional post.

COVID-19 & Education: Part 13

In the seemingly never-ending blog post series by Shelly Vohra, Part 13 lets her take the time to think about what the future of education looks like. She addresses five things in this post.

  • Wellness / Social and emotional learning
  • Personalized learning
  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Conferences
  • Teacher professional learning

She addresses each of the topics thoughtfully.

It’s the last two that I think need special attention at this time. It’s during conferences and professional learning opportunities that all else can be addressed.

When I was president of ECOO, I introduced the concept of the #ECOOcamp. We know that the big conference can be a challenge for some people in terms of release time and costs. Our concept was to offer the same sort of experience on a smaller, local basis. Unlike an EdCamp which can be a hit or miss proposition, the #ECOOcamp had a defined schedule with topics so that you knew what to expect when you devoted a day (we chose a Saturday) to the event. We had a successful event the first year in Owen Sound, and it was repeated a second year there and expanded to include another event in Peterborough. The current leadership of ECOO showed no interest that I could see in continuing this year and, of course, now that we’re all bottled up, travel just isn’t possible.

But great minds should be able to come up with all kinds of alternatives. We certainly have a province of people becoming familiar with the concept of presenting/teaching online! OAME has already done a virtual conference. Connect 2020 is offering its conference online. I’ve registered for that.

It’s time for all subject association and school districts to come forward with an explicit description about what value they assign to their conferences and their support of professional learning for their members.

As if I wasn’t editorializing enough, I find it frustrating to watch colleagues throughout the province trying to work with different learning management systems. Why wasn’t the Ministry tasked to license a common platform so that everyone could learn and grow in the same space?

</rant> Shelly promises to develop her thoughts on these topics as she continues to share her thinking. I look forward to them.

The Long Spring: (1) Blank verse
The Long Spring: (2) Teens on screens/Co-VOID -19

Heather Swail writes a pair of posts on a theme that everyone is experiencing right now; I’d never thought of the term “The Long Spring” but it is so, so appropriate.

During this Long Spring, Heather is spending it with teenagers. You know, those “Digital Natives” that take to technology like ducks to water because they grew up with it. It’s us old people that have challenges because we immigrated to this environment. I never agreed with Prensky’s model – then or now.

Yes, these natives may know how to use technology but education is more than just using technology and Heather shares her observations in this pair of posts.

Fluency is in short supply and fancy is in quarantine. All my energy goes to the screen. The Silver Screen? The Silent Screen. Like everyone else, I am trying to find a way to make virtual personal, and engage across spaces that are physical, emotional and existential. By 4 pm, I do not want to even see a screen door. I do not want to see my phone. I do not want to write.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned with teens on screens (and middle-age teachers on screens):

Leave your Doritos and trail mix (at home?): crunching on an open mic is really loud and distracting

Watch your mic: whispering loudly to your hovering mom that “this sucks, how long do I have to stay on?” when your mic is on – not great for your teachers’ self-esteem

And that’s just the start. Click through and read the rest. As teachers, we all observe what’s going on. I love Heather’s observations. It also makes me a little more thoughtful when I have my Friday afternoon Zoom Beer with friends.

Students, a Zoom Session – and Loss

If you think Zoom teaching is all pyjamas, coffee, little windows, digital assignments, digital marking, and then call it a day, you’re not paying attention.

I’ve had friends share with me the challenges that they’re experiencing every day. It’s not going well for everyone despite the success stories that we’re hearing all over the place. I wonder if all this glad-handing isn’t being interpreted by some as confirmation that online courses are a good thing for everyone.

Learning is damn hard; learning online is even harder.

I have to give a shout out to Chris Vollum for putting this story out there for all to read. And, I hope all those who think that everything is just rosey takes the time to read and empathise.

Chris describes a Zoom session that started out like so many and maybe even threw in some extra goodies for the whole experience.

Then, for one young lady things went wrong, terribly wrong.

Read the post and see how Chris arrives at the conclusion

Thirty students from different schools with all grades represented taught me – and each other – a great deal; that there is no substitute for human connection. And that the new normal is a massive adjustment that swings opposite to every instinct we have about the innate need to connect, in-person with one another.

Please take some time today or on the weekend to click through and read these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, make sure you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @suebruyns
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Ramona Meharg – @ramonameharg
  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Chris Vollum – @cmvsocialmedia

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


OTR Links 05/22/2020

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