This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to this blog and a regular post around here. Friday mornings are an opportunity to take a look at a number of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. They’re always inspirational so let’s go…

Educational Bourgeoisie

Tim King was the guest host this week on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show on voicEd radio. We talked about this post, inspired by a podcast that he did with his wife Alanna and his reading of Starship Troopers.

Tim sees a lot of parallels between the book and his life and shares them with us. In particular, “Everybody works, everybody fights”. Does that apply to education?

Tim uses this as an opportunity to think about teachers in Ontario that aren’t in classrooms. He estimates this to be 20%. He feels that when cuts come along, they apply to the classroom and the 20% bourgeoisie are unaffected.

As a person who spent part of my career in that 20% group, I know that we all have challenges in education. When you’re not providing a viable service to those who are in the classroom, it’s only fair that stones are thrown.

I wonder though … given that there is a desire for student population in classrooms to be at 15 … are there enough teachers available to hire or will the districts use those bodies at the board office to help with numbers. It will be a real statement on how a system values those in those positions.

Stunt Riding is Easier Than You Think in Ontario (and everywhere else evidently)

Tim actually has a couple of blogs. In addition to Dusty World where I pulled in that first post, he also blogs at Mechanical Sympathy. A recent post there has me thinking and wondering even more – on a different topic.

Tim tells a story about a motorcycle outing (complete with pictures) which lead to a discussion with another biker.

There was someone that ended up getting a Stunt Driving ticket for standing on the pegs of his motorcycle. If found guilty, the penalties are pretty severe and expensive.

Until this point, my understanding of stunt driving had been about those who get caught on the 401 particularly around Chatham for doing excessive speeds.

It never occurred to me that standing up on the pegs was problematic. I’ve seen it all the time and just figured that it was a chance to “unstick” yourself or, er, um, air things out. I would have thought some consideration would have been given to what the person was actually doing while in this position. I could see if you were swerving or driving dangerously otherwise. A ticket for that makes sense.

Tim takes on the situation and the Ontario laws in this post.

Scared, But Certain

Aviva Dunsiger is a person who I would suggest is one of the most positive and upbeat educators I know. Read her blog and you’ll see that she generally loves her job and enjoys her interactions with children.

In fact, at times, I wonder to myself if she’d feel the same way in a Grade 11 mathematics classroom. She makes reference to a blog post from here where I had noted that hugs are often currency in the younger years. I can honestly say it isn’t in Grade 11.

Teaching is an acquired taste!

School re-opening in whatever shape it occurs in Ontario and Hamilton-Wentworth will undoubtedly be different.

So, back to her title – in the post she lets us know that she’s scared and for sure questioning things but she’s certain that she’s going to make it work.

Black Hands Doing Mathematics

This post from Idil Abdulkadir left me with my mouth open just a bit when she described an observation made by her students.

Using a document camera to demonstrate things in her classroom is a way of getting the job done. I get that. I used to use an overhead projector all the time. It’s a great way to do things; you never turn your back on a class and you’re able to recognize hands that go up or puzzled faces immediately. Personally, I also found it easier to write neatly than on a chalkboard. My older technology didn’t try to do anything fancy; it just took what was there and projected it.

But her students noticed that something that was happening in Ms. Abdulkadir’s class that wasn’t in others. The camera was adjusting the colour balance because of the colour of her hands. Let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a lot of ways that this could be interpreted but she felt that it means something.

I want my students to see Black hands doing delicate work.
I want my students to see Black hands solving equations.
Black fingers counting.
Black hands doing mathematics.
Black hands making beautiful things.
Black hands and Black people thriving.

To that, I would add “I want students to see Black hands writing computer programs”.


Lisa Corbett missed the opportunity to talk about her son being a “child of the corn” when making an emergency pit stop. There were trees though.

The tree in question was near the community arena’s parking lot and that led to some observations and some social understanding during this time of COVID. Like every arena in the province, there was no ice, and the facility was used to give the homeless a place to isolate.

Now that the municipal plan of using the arena from April to June is over, those who would normally use the service have to look for other places. Lisa uses the opportunity to talk about the invisible homeless.

They’re there in every community. COVID has eased but has not gone away. Perhaps this will force communities to come to grips with this issue in a more permanent way.


Although I had talked about this post from Alanna King in a previous post, it never was done on the TWIOE podcast. Tim wanted to give his lovely wife a shout out, so we did.

In the post, she offers three recommendations for secondary school students for the summer.

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian
  • Buy yourself a new notebook

You can’t argue with that logic so it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. As I rethink this post, it may be even more relevant. As Tim noted during the show, he noted a drop off in student engagement with the Minister of Education indicated that marks wouldn’t count.

So, perhaps the Summer Slump started for some students even earlier than usual.

C’mon students – take her advice.

Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 24th, 2020

I’m guessing that I’m part of the choir that David Petro preaches to. I enjoy his Friday look around at the world of mathematics. I do wonder about his abbreviation for July though.

This time, he’s encouraging engagement in a couple of Twitter discussions in addition to his regular collection of:

  • Resource Links
  • Video Links
  • Image Links

The discussion and images in the Image Link is a reminder that skillful people can make statistics say just about anything – including incorrect things.

Please take the time to click through and read each of these wonderful posts. Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter for further engagement.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tim King – @mechsymp
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Idil Abdulkadir – @Idil_A_
  • Lisa Corbett – @lisacorbett0261
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This post was originally posted at:

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


OTR Links 07/31/2020

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

An Interview with The Staff Room podcast

A “new-ish” podcast (at least to me) has been added to the voicEd Radio broadcast team.  Called The Staff Room Podcast, it’s hosted by educators Pav Wander and Chey Cheney.  They took a break from the heat to agree to be interviewed.  So, thanks!

Doug:  I always start with the same question – do you remember when we first met – face to face or digitally?

StaffRoom: We know for certain that we first met you on Twitter by seeing your Follow Fridays featuring Active Ontario Educators. It was such a pleasure to be featured on that list for the very first time by you!  

Doug:  And, why would you ever want to follow me on social media?

StaffRoom: Doug, we think of you as a big “connector” of people. We have made so many valuable and incredible connections because of you and your recommendations. We feel like you will be promoting teachers and educators that have so many good things to say, and this is very valuable to us, as relative “newbies” on the scene! 

Doug:  For those that don’t know you, can you give us a little background about yourselves?

Pav: I’m an elementary school teacher in the northern part of Toronto, Ontario. I’ve been teaching for 15 years, most of which has been in the middle school area, all in the Rexdale area of Toronto, which is also where I was born and raised. I will be teaching a grade 1/2 split this year for the first time, which is a huge change! An interesting tidbit is that my very first teaching job was in the very same middle school that I attended as a student! Many of my teachers from that time were (and ARE) still teaching there! It’s all come full circle!

Chey: I’m from the Ottawa area and moved to Toronto when I was offered a chance to interview with the Toronto District School board. It was my first interview, and I got it right away. It was a blessing to be able to move to such a richly diverse place to start my teaching career, but it has taught me so many things in my 20 years of teaching. I teach middle school Health and Physical Education, and I teach 8th grade core subjects. 

Doug: What was your inspiration for creating your own podcast?

StaffRoom: The podcast was essentially born out of an idea to do a podcast as a culminating task for a Genius Hour project in Chey’s class. Pav has a friend she attended middle school with that has a very successful podcast, complete with a copy editor, a producer, a graphics designer, and full-fledged professional studio, that was interested in giving back to the community in which we teach. He asked if we would be interested in collaborating and we agreed without hesitation! We did a small interview with him first to set the scene for the listeners before the students did their podcasts, and we fell absolutely in love with the idea of being able to talk about teaching so openly and freely. We thought for sure we needed to start our own – and we did! 

Doug:  What is your intended audience?  And what’s your inspiration for topics?

StaffRoom: Our intended audience was teachers when we first started. And although that still is our major intended audience, we have received lots of feedback from educators working in central roles, administrators and even parents that have found our insights to be very helpful in assisting them in understanding what is happening in education and in our schools day-to-day. 

Doug:  Since your show is relatively new to me, I did some research and saw that you’re all over the place as noted here –  Do you have an idea as to where your biggest fans come from?

StaffRoom: Firstly, we don’t like to think that we have fans. We KNOW there are people out there that share our thoughts, and our messages often resonate with teachers because we are often going through many of the same obstacles. We like to be able to have these conversations with as many educators as we can from all over the world. We have really grown our professional learning network (PLN) since we’ve been on Twitter, and I think it’s in part due to the fact that we love to have conversations with educators from all walks of life. 

We have built a huge network from participating in chats – almost nightly – so that we can meet as many teachers as possible and interact with their content as much as they have interacted with ours. The Drive on VoicEd Radio has really been doing so well consistently since we started the show, and it is growing every week, and we have a very strong and consistent following with The Staffroom Podcast as well. We love to see interaction with every avenue we go in, and it’s really always been about sharing in the experience together, rather than collecting a particular following. We think we are doing pretty well with that goal. 

Doug:  Given that you have a great deal of experience in this field, the million dollar question is – just how does one learn to be a podcaster?  And why would someone want to be a podcaster?

StaffRoom: We will answer the first part of this question first. Why would anyone want to be a podcaster? To share your voice. We all have a story to tell. We all have personal experiences and anecdotes that allowed us to become who we are today, and that is something that is ever-changing. We decided that podcasting was the way that we were going to archive our thoughts and feelings, but this isn’t the only route that individuals can go with sharing their voice. Many teachers and educators also share their voice through blogs, poetry, video blogs on youtube, short video clips on youtube, and other means as well. Regardless of what method we choose to express ourselves, it’s important that we do, even if we are the only ones reading this work. Reflection is a beautiful byproduct of podcasting and it has ultimately made us better teachers and citizens along the way. 

Doug:  I have really slow internet access so often streaming doesn’t work that well but I did listen to your show The Drive live (at least until it gets unlistenable).  I did hear most of one of your dedication shows and have had to just download the others.  So, some questions about the shows …

Where do you get your energy?
Chey gets his energy from scoops and scoops of pre-workout in the mornings, and Pav just feeds off that energy. We are both exhausted by the end of the show! All jokes aside, we really do feed off of the audience. The adrenaline starts pumping the night before The Drive, when people are sending in their requests. The fact that we know people will be listening in to hear their requests really gets us amped up and ready to give the audience an amazing show. 

Do you ever have creative differences?
We do, but often we can communicate through them to find a happy medium. We are usually not so far off that we can’t find a center for all of our conversations. The differences really do offer us some additional talking points. Usually, it just means that there is a perspective that we haven’t considered and so we always bring it into the mix. The show would be very boring if we both thought in exactly the same way. So far we have done a pretty good job with staying afloat, so we think it’s working! 

What kind of equipment do you use for the show?
We use a macbook and the software “Audio Hijack” for recording and also for broadcasting. We use two Apex Condenser mics with portable booms and pop filters. Our most prized piece of equipment is a RodeCaster Pro, the ferrari of soundboards. It allows us to be able to record 4 different mic tracks, plus we can attach our computer as an input device, a cell phone, and any other bluetooth device. It has made our lives so much easier when it comes to recording and broadcasting. 

How do you handle copyright issues?
Stephen Hurley, the founder of VoicEd Radio, has taken care of the copyrights for the music. The license belongs to him, and as broadcasters on his station, we have the creative permission to play what we like. 

Do you have a scripted show?
We only use an outline for the Podcast, and we usually develop that outline 30 minutes before the show. We really prefer an authentic and raw conversational feel to the podcast, so often times, our topics and points will arise during the recording, and we think it adds to the quality of the show. 

For The Drive, we decide on a topic together, we release that topic to our Twitter audience on Thursday evenings so that people can send in requests, and then on Friday morning before the show, we make a few notes on talking points. There are no scripts anywhere, and we think it works better for us that way. 

Do you listen to other podcasts?  Which ones? 
For educational podcasts, we love Teachers on Fire, as Tim Cavey has given us so much direction and has helped us out so much along the way. We also listen to Teach Better. Jeff Gargas and Rae Hugheart have been so helpful. We also listen to some non-educational podcasts like “Revisionist History” by Malcolm Gladwell, or Pardon the Interruption, just to get some ideas on how to build on our authentic conversations the way the hosts do. We really wish we had more time for more podcasts.

Doug: Were you inspired in style or content by someone else? 

StaffRoom: We would say our biggest inspiration was probably the “Pardon the Interruption” podcast, which is a sports podcast, but we really liked the way the hosts provide analysis on so many different topics. We try to do something similar on our podcast. 

Doug:  Since we’re all working at a distance these days, what impact did that have on your show?

StaffRoom: Working from home actually gave us a little more opportunity to record and broadcast a bit more, since our timing was a little bit more flexible. The Drive used to be a 30 minute show from 8:00-8:30 on Friday mornings, and now we broadcast from 9:00-11:00 on Fridays. It will be quite tough to go back to a 30 minute format once face-to-face school starts again! 

Another impact was the fact that we had so much more content to talk about with distance learning. We really were in crisis at the start of it, and many teachers were expressing frustration that they were struggling and so were the students. The podcast and radio show really gave us an outlet to express not only our own concerns, but the concerns that so many educators were also expressing. 

Doug:  As middle school teachers, you lived the teaching/learning at a distance life these past months.  I think we all know of the challenges that everyone has.  Feel free to comment on that but I’d be interested in knowing if your past experience as podcasters gave you a leg up on others.  How so?

StaffRoom: Podcasting didn’t necessarily give us a leg up, but the network we have developed on Twitter really did. We have made so many great connections that we have really utilized to help us navigate through our feelings, and create a plan on how to get through distance learning effectively and efficiently. 

Doug:  What lessons from podcasters could educators learn if they’re back to Learning at Home at least in some way, shape, or form for the fall?

StaffRoom: We all need to be reflecting on our practice more. We need to have more conversations with other teachers, not just in our building (although that’s a great place to start) but also within networks that we can build outside of our buildings. Now is such an amazing time to connect with people across the country or the world, and so we should try and do as much of that as we can so that we can continue to better our practice! 

Doug:  Thank you so much for the interview and I wish you continued success with your podcasts.  If people were to follow you on social media, where would they go?

We are on Twitter: 
Staffroom Podcast: @StaffPodcast
The Drive: @TheDriveVoicEd
Chey: @MrCCheney
Pav: @PavWander
We are on Instagram & Facebook: the_staff_room_podcast

Periodically, I interview interesting people like Pav and Chey.  You can visit all the past interviews here

OTR Links 07/30/2020

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

Creature of habit

I’ll freely admit that I am that – certainly first thing in the morning.

At 4:44, I’m up and walking quietly down the hallway careful not to wake the dog. Into the kitchen where I start the coffee going and pour myself a bowl of cereal.

Coffee done, I grab it and the cereal and head to the rec room where I turn on the morning news. It’s now 5:00am. Beside my chair is my Chromebook and I open it to go to the Flipboard tab, refresh, and then I dig in for some morning reading. It was different this morning.

That was strange. Maybe I’m not connected. Nope, that’s not it. I was able to refresh another tab and it worked well. While my internet speeds typically tank when the rest of the world wakes up, it’s actually pretty good at this time of the day.

So, I do what any rational computer user would do; I refreshed the screen to get nothing. I clicked harder and it still doesn’t work. I feel a little silly because I know the dirty looks I’d be getting if others were watching.

A couple more times and then I decided to give up on Flipboard. I’d never run into this before. Over the time that I’ve used it, I’ve added many categories to it to give me a good look at the news. I actually have 256 categories which is pretty awesome if you’re a computer user.

I do have a couple of backup plans which I’m forced into using this morning. News360 it is. I typically use it just to feed me news about Chromebooks and Chrome OS so I just have those categories and a few morning.

Then, I flipped over to Google News. I use that even less frequently so have even fewer categories there. So, I did a category search from memory about what worked for me with Flipboard and I did get a few.

I did my typical reading until 6:00 at which point in time the other creature of habit was up and needed to go outside.

The whole thing did get me thinking later on. I do this every morning except for Friday and have done so for years. It was my way to stay in touch with things that I should know about. I’ve always been a devotee to the concept of shared learning and this is my humble way of contributing. I learn a great deal from the interactions that others have to the stories that I’ve read. It’s fodder for my Sunday post where I look back on the week of learning.

It was just so weird this morning and I have a real feeling of loss when things weren’t available for me.

Later in the morning … Flipboard is back up and running again. I’m that creature again.