This Week in Ontario Edublogs

What a week! It was so warm hot here. I guess that I can’t complain too loudly though. The Sun Parlor was not the hottest place in the province. It looks like it’s going to get cooler for the weekend. Isn’t that doing things backwards?

Read on to enjoy some of the recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Simple Steps to Reopen Schools

This post comes from the mindfulness side of the Stillnesshub blog and written by Safina Hirji.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently about how to re-open schools. They’re typically full of ideas about the mechanical and logistical side of things. All of that is really important for safety and I’ll admit to reading many of them.

This post takes a different tact though.

It focuses on students. What a concept! But, it’s not the sort of thing dealing with assessment and evaluation, content, and other teacher things. True to the theme, Safina deals with student mindfulness. She touches on four areas.

  • Mental Health and Well-Being through Mindfulness
  • Individualized Learning Opportunities
  • Mindfulness with acquiring knowledge and building skills
  • Accessing the right Tech Tools for Collaborative, Synchronous Learning

It’s a good read and a powerful reminder that opening schools is more than unlocking doors.

How Not to Start Math Class in the Fall – 2020

Mark Chubb’s post is a nice followup to Safina’s. Like her post, he’s got a great deal of concern for the student and their re-introduction to school, specifically for mathematics.

I suspect that most teachers go through a process of pre-testing to assess strengths, weaknesses, and current levels of understanding in the first part of a mathematics class.

But this is not a regular year, whatever that is. We know that things have been less, far less, than idea over the past while. Then, add two months for summer holiday.

Mark takes these notions and expands with recommendations about just how to start and a list of things to reflect on.

We’re still an unknown period of time away from knowing when and how things will open but there’s some great inspiration here to get things going in the back of your mind at least.

The Way I Felt

Amanda Potts says she “hate the poem I wrote” and that’s a shame because it’s a very power piece of media.

Inspired by the recent announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of spring, her first reaction was that the air had been sucked out of the room.

I’m not a big poetry critic but I really felt that she laid her teaching soul bare with her thoughts and I’ll bet that you’d feel the same way.

It starts…

No more waiting
for people who don’t know me
to make a decision about
my life
my family’s life
my students’ lives
my community’s lives.


From the Our Dad’s Shoes blog devoted to issues about Fathers and Fatherhood comes this post, from Will Gourley. It is actually a post he’d written in the past and brought forward at this time. It fits nicely into the theme.

He discusses four attributes of fathers:

  • Consistent
  • Fair
  • Honest
  • Protective

and does a great job about it and offering a tribute to his father.

There is a natural connection to teaching because, as we all acknowledge, our first teachers were our parents.

My List Of 10 Self-Reg Things That I’ve Learned

From the Self-Regulation blog, Aviva shares a list of things that she’s learned about self-regulation and herself at these trying times.

  • Exercise
  • Breaks
  • Fidget toy 
  • Too much social media
  • OK to put yourself first
  • Social stressors are online
  • Why and why now?
  • Stress behaviours multiply online
  • Saying hello
  • Importance of routine

Aviva joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs, did a nice job and got a chance to elaborate. There were three of these topics that I singled out to hear her speak about, in addition to writing about it.

Fidget Toy – she sees a need for one of these in her future as she hesitates to jump into discussions with students. I had to smile, I play with my mouse when I’m listening to others

Social stressors are online – we all know about the stresses due to social media but what about the social interaction that goes on in the online classroom. When to jump in, when to lay back, …

Saying hello – Aviva notes that it’s OK for some students to jump into a class and not necessarily be active for the entire session. It’s OK just to say hello and sit back and watch. Just being there can be enough at times

Good Coffee Activity

From the STAO blog, this is a really interesting resource unit.

Who doesn’t get up and get a daily charge with coffee?

This is a free to download secondary school curriculum complete with the expectations that can be addressed with its use.

Pandemic Reflections: Surrender as a Survival Technique

I know that Tim King speaks for thousands of teachers in this particular post. He lashes out at many things, many people that are players in this “absolutely terrible school year.”

I like the success story that he shares (and had pictures on Facebook documenting it) when he and family were allowed into the school to put together some computers for colleagues.

I can understand his feeling of exhaustion but was taken aback when he indicated that he was feeling defeated. I’ve never heard that from him. Then I look at my own household. My wife is delighted when she needs to leave the place to address some essential service in town.

There are so many lessons to be learned from those on the front lines during this time. As Tim notes, our leaders had assumptions about the readiness for a shift in teaching and it’s been proven wrong over and over again.

For me, the low point of all this was the political statement about expecting teachers and students to be regularly engaged in synchronous communications. For that to work, so many assumptions had to be made. I know that many teachers have tried and some have been successful but I suspect they would have been successful without the directive anyway.

Please click through and enjoy these posts in their entirety. There’s so much great thinking.

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

  • Safina Hirji – @SafinaHirji
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – staoapso
  • Tim King – @tk1ng

This post originated on:

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

OTR Links 05/29/2020

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

Back in the sulky

One of the things that I treat myself to are harness races. It goes way back to the first days in Clinton where the track is right next to the swimming pool, where I worked.

It’s a magnificent sport with incredible athletes in the sulky but, more importantly, pulling the sulky and driver. Over the years, I’ve visited many tracks in Ontario…

Afternoons/Evenings at Windsor, Leamington, Dresden, Clinton, Goderich, Hanover, Elmira, Western Fair, Grand River, Mohawk, Greenwood, Garden City, Flamboro, Barrie, Orangeville, Kawartha Downs, Rideau-Carleton all come to mind.

Windsor, in particular, was great with its big races and so many farms. When Google Earth was big, we’d use it to locate farms that have tracks for training. It’s way more than you might think.

Sadly, many of the tracks above have permanently closed. Because of the situation with COVID-19, those that remain are currently closed. Normally, I’d be looking forward to Sunday drives to Dresden and later this summer to Leamington to enjoy an afternoon at the track. For the longest time, it looked like racing wasn’t going to happen.

But, like many things, there’s a ray of sunshine in terms of opening. Ontario Racing has done their work and released conditions under which tracks might open. You can read details here. Like most things that are re-opening, they’re not going back to business as usual any time soon.

A day at the track is more than just the races for me. I like to think of myself as a people watcher and an analytic. I’ll get there way early to find a spot to analyze the program and watch people come in and prepare for the afternoon. Since Dresden and Leamington are smallish tracks, you get to know the faces that are there regularly and how and where they spend the afternoon. We’re such creatures of habit.

Small tracks try harder too. It’s a big event for the t-shirt toss, local apple growers giving away apple and cider, hot buttered corn on the cob, watching a budding teenager have the chance to call some races, reliving the excitement that Marty Adler brings to the race when he calls or the special day when Roger Huston does a guest appearance at the track.

Race tracks are great places to have a bit to eat. Hamburgers, sausages, and breaded dill pickles are delicacies in Leamington. I remember a long time ago going to Mohawk with my dad and wife and ordering hamburgers. My wife mentioned how tasty they were and was enjoying it until dad told her this is where the slowest horses end up.

If you know Essex County, you know that we’re just flat. My watch gets a workout counting floors as I go up and down the steps in the grandstand for every race. You pass a lot of people this way, often sitting in the same seats week after week.

The common thread for all these events and activities within the event is there are a lot of people all together at the same time. That luxury shouldn’t exist anywhere in our current environment.

During the shutdown, all of these things went away. Eventually, there was some racing available from Sweden and Denmark to watch. I got a real appreciation for the announcer skills as I tried to follow a race in another language. It was through one of the sites that I read ( – not for the faint of heart) that I heard that racing was about to re-open in Scioto Downs in Cincinnati.

With great anticipation, I watched the races there via live stream on Monday night. It’s not quite the same – not sitting in a grandstand with all those people and dill pickle Pringles chips instead of the real stuff but it was nice to see. Just like going grocery shopping these days, things have changed. It wasn’t racing as per usual. Ohio obviously has their own set of rules but this is what I noticed, watching from afar.

  • there were no spectators lining the fence watching
  • there were no horse people in the back stretch watching from the barn
  • when warming up, the drivers kept their horses away from each other rather than driving next to each other chatting or trash talking or whatever happens normally
  • the only close contact I witnessed was a starter’s assistant who helped line up a horse who needed some help
  • the owners and trainer did not show up in the winner’s circle for the mandatory winner’s photo. The driver essentially slowed down for a quick picture and that was it for the celebration
  • there were no stream of horses out warming up between races

Other than that, it was a nice night of racing. The program was online so that I could check the past performance of horses and driver. The times were impressive. I saw a race go in 1:52 which is very fast. World record is 1:47. I read somewhere that the total amount bet was the second most in the track’s history. If success is defined by getting the horses and drivers on the track, engaging an audience, and handle wagering, then it looks like things worked out well.

I think I’m going to enjoy watching races from Dresden and Leamington, even if it’s at home on the computer. It’s definitely going to be different. I’ll miss the nice drive to get there, chatting with people sitting near me, and watching the winning owners getting their picture taken. I won’t be able to catch a t-shirt or have a cup of cider sponsored by someone else.

We already know that rules are different for grocery shopping or any of the other things that we have been accustomed to. Potentially dangerous activities like getting a hair cut or dining at a restaurant are still on the horizon.

The bottom line is that these folks are making things work in the different world. It would be super easy to just close everything down and blame it on the virus. But, with reasoned people and thinking in place, they’ve made it happen.

I think by now you know where this post is headed. Schools aren’t racetracks. It’s certainly going to be more different in terms of the logistics to re-open schools. But, I would suggest that it can happen if we decide to re-think everything. Those making plans need to put their feet into little shoes and work their way through an entire day. It doesn’t just begin and end at the school’s entrance. Teachers need to be vocal about the issues and realities they see each and every day. Their voices, wisdom, and experience need to be valued more now than ever. I think we all know that a top-down made-in-Toronto solution won’t suffice. All voices need to be heard.

It won’t be school as usual. We have an opportunity to re-think everything. All input needs to be accepted and valued.

It’s not going to be perfect at first but step by step, refinement by refinement, a solution that works can be found. It should be found. It needs to be found.

OTR Links 05/28/2020

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

Sounds good

I hope that your current classroom has a nice breeze or you’ve given in and turned the air conditioning on. It’s been brutal here the past couple of days. For the record, no air conditioning yet but there was a discussion.

Regular readers know that I’m out pounding the pavement with my walking buddy at least three times a day. With little else to do, we’re up to about 17 000 steps a day.

With the changeover to the warm weather comes another change. All winter, I wear over-the-ear headphones to listen to tunes/podcasts while walking. They’re paired with the iPod that I got for Christmas and do a fabulous job. In the coldest of weather putting them over my toque, they also serve as ear muffs.

Once the heat and humidity comes along, it’s time to shift to ear buds. Like everyone, I’m sure, I have a big collection that comes from every new device that I’ve acquired plus swag from conference tables.

There was a time when I didn’t have any with me though.

It was on the return flight from Omaha and the CSTA Conference. I had put my headphones in my suitcase instead of my computer bag. As typical, I’m at the airport way early and so decided to sit down and listen to a session that I’d recorded. At that point, I realized I didn’t have anything to plug into my phone. I know how I feel when people play music without regard to anyone else.

Fortunately, I went to the variety shop in the airport and they did have some for sale. But, who wants another white set?

As I looked over their big collection and I noted that there must be a lot of people that find themselves in my position! I also found the there was a Bob Marley brand of headphones/ear buds. How cool is that? I treated myself to a set of Smile Jamaica Rasta buds. They’ve been with me ever since. I now know enough to make sure they’re in my computer bag while travelling.

So, yesterday, I made the switch to them. It didn’t go well.

Unlike my headphones, there wasn’t sound everywhere. There was mostly sound in my left ear and faint sounds in the right. So, I started to do some PWW. (Problem-solving while walking) I pulled out one and then pulled out the other. The right side was barely audible. Had I gotten old all of a sudden and lost my hearing?

It was with relief that I switched the left bud with the right one and the good audio followed it. Phew! It wasn’t my ears.

Continuing to walk, I pulled out each bud and looked to see if there was anything in them to block the audio. Nada.

Then, I thought, maybe there was a balance control on the iPod itself. Without missing a step, I located the balance control (it wasn’t where I thought it should be) but sure enough it was centred. So that wasn’t it.

I made a mental note to write a letter to Apple thanking them for the explanation of what “Mono Audio” meant. Since the balance didn’t work, maybe I could just switch to mono and enjoy things the same in both ears? A quick tap and nope.

I tried adjusting the audio jack to see if maybe it was a little out of alignment of something. No success there. I was determined that there had to be a solution because there’s no way that I’m going to pay anyone $250 or more for wireless ear buds.

I got home and swapped my Marleys for a pair of plain white ones and the problem persisted. I plugged them into my computer and played music locally and they worked beautifully. Both sets. By the process of dividing and conquering, I had isolated the problem to the iPod. Once again, I checked to see if the balance was centred and indeed it was.

Maybe Dr. Google has a fix.

audio is loud on one ear bud quiet in another ipod

Lots of words and hopefully I had covered all my bases.

The first hit actually looked interesting because it linked to an Apple discussion page. The generally means that I’m not the first one to have the problem. At times, I find the discussions pages far more interesting than support pages that have to give the party line.

The topic was specific to AirPods but might be helpful. The top suggestions blew me away. They recommended putting the AirPod into your mouth and then sucking it to get wax out. How stupid! But it appeared many times. Doesn’t Apple moderate this? Or maybe AirPod users have really bad hygiene? I will admit looking at my buds again but they’re clean (I bathe) and the problem was the same with two different sets so it’s not likely that’s the solution.

So, I scrolled through the recommendations from these Wax Suckers just to see if there was something else. There was person after person who reported that it worked. OK, maybe that’s why the thread remains…

At the bottom, there was an indication that there were more replies so off I went. Someone had taken their AirPods back to an Apple Store and got one replaced. Someone else recommended rubbing alcohol on a cue tip which generated a reply about voiding a warranty. A recommendation to check the balance again. Been there, done that. Then, a recommendation about the Audio Mono switch. Been there, done that but tried it again. No solution.

Folks, there are 37 pages of suggestions on this topic. Most with different variations and suggestions about sucking on your AirPods. Talk about low hanging fruit! I resist.

Anyway, after enjoying the comments too much, I moved on. It turns out, I had been so close. It surrounded the Mono Audio setting. I had switched it back and forth thinking it would do the trick with no success.

The second link in my search results took me to a Quora page which had my solution although it was for a different device!

It makes no sense. It’s for a different device; the navigation is similar but just a bit difference. The thing I didn’t do previously was leaving the iPod in Mono for 5 seconds. I must have been in too big a hurry?

And, guess what? My ear buds are equally as loud now and the music sounds great. Just to confirm success, I have my iPod set to randomize songs and it wanted to prove to me that it was well again! It played Reba McEntire’s duet with Linda Evans “Does he love you” where they sing on the separate channels. It was perfect.

It all sounds good and I have no unsightly wax issues!