As you know, this post is finalized on a Thursday and scheduled for Friday morning at 5:00. It’s raining a bit right now and so I’m getting a jump on things. I’m downloading another Macintosh update (they keep threatening to stop supporting my 8 year old machine but the updates keep coming) and my radio station is playing “Magic Man” by Heart in the background. The only thing that’s better would be to check in on some blog posts from amazing Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s some of what I caught this past week. I’m delighted that so many of them were new to me.
Melanie White was a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs (download the podcast here if you missed her live) As a Department Head, she is responsible for things happening in her department and she forced herself to do an “audit” of the yearbook after an email concern coming from a student in her school.
It was like a previous blog post that I had read on the Heart and Art blog from Arianna Lambert. The student was concerned about the lack of representation in the yearbook of events that happened during Black History Month and that an image covering that was put in the “School Spirit” section.
This threw my mind back to my own high school yearbooks and how I addressed them. I was essentially a consumer since I never worked on it but I did what I suspect most people did. I eventually looked at it from cover to cover but first I checked out places where I expected to see myself. Home room, basketball team, wrestling team, … After all, the yearbook covers a school for a year but it should also document what I did during that year. It’s not an easy job. To overlook my contributions would be a slam. Every student should see themselves there and not just a subset of the school.
Melanie goes on to talk about some of the research she’s done (with links) and how it’s impacted her thinking. One of the new terms that I picked up from the post is the concept of the “inclusive yearbook” and what that should mean.
Her post may end up having you pull a yearbook off your bookshelf and taking a look at how your own school is represented. There’s nothing wrong with a new lens.
This is an important read for you this week.
Jason Lay has an underlining couple of messages in this post.
First, everyone was thrown into this emergency learning environment as a result of school building closures. I think that it’s important to mention this all the time. The building closed but the school didn’t shut down.
Good teachers taught; those students that stayed with the program learned. Most people will acknowledge that it wasn’t the same and wasn’t as effective but they made it work to the level that they could. It’s a new school year in September and, while we don’t know what it might look like just yet, the expectation should be that it will be better than this past spring since everyone has more experience in the emergency learning environment.
The second point is a not-so-subtle dig at the way that technology has traditionally been used in schools.
“Inadequate professional development and training” discloses that it may not have been used well face to face and so didn’t really have a fair start in the emergency. School districts need to learn that throwing iPads at a student audience, loaded with apps, and sending them off to “play with it” isn’t effective for the long haul. I should note that the word “training” above grinds my gears. I’ve mentioned many times that you train a dog, not teachers.
Many subject associations have stepped up to the plate to offer professional learning opportunities for teachers. Jason will be sharing his story late in August; the timing scares me because there are all other kinds of things that will be happening in the teaching world as people prepare to return to whatever turns out.
There is a big missing piece in all this and that is all the new teachers that will be going into their first classroom this fall. Are they prepared and equipped?
The title to this post from Franziska Beeler intrigued me and so I just had to read her thoughts.
Virtual classrooms probably aren’t the same as regular classrooms but they’re the only game in town for the past months.
Teaching in-person versus teaching online isn’t just a matter of a different delivery system. Teaching online not only changes the outcomes but also the very product of education as we know it: the classroom.
Into the discussion, she brings McLuhan. I thought this was both fair and unfair.
Fair because truly people were working in another medium although it often appears to function differently depending upon the device chosen.
Unfair because I always felt that McLuhan’s message implied that people had a choice of medium to use. In this case, there was no choice. The classroom indeed had become virtual.
A serious point to consider as well is that a classroom shouldn’t just be a vehicle for delivering content. It may have been that way this spring as a result of convenience but I’m sure that teachers all over the province are planning to do more than just deliver content this fall.
Author of “Everyone Can Learn Math“, you’d think that Alice Aspinall would have all the answers. The recent events with the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movements have made her look at her own classroom and subject area.
Add to that the rationale behind the ending of streaming in Grade 9 in Ontario schools and you have all the pieces for a deep reflection and she took to the EduMatch Publishing blog to share her thoughts.
She notes that she’s long been an advocate for involving girls in mathematics and that seemed natural to her. It’s her “place of confidence and comfort”. Stepping back, she’s now become aware of the lack of Black, Indigenous, and students of colour in her classrooms. Where they’ve chosen mathematics as a course option, they’ve been streamed away from the higher level classes. I can understand how this is a difficult issue to embrace and admire her efforts to bring it forth in this blog post so that all can share in her observations and wisdom.
It’s a wonderful reflection and will undoubtedly ramp up her enthusiasm for exciting all students to engage in all mathematics courses.
I would think that this is the type of reflection that all parent, students, educators, principals, and importantly guidance counsellors should engage in. It will be interesting in a year to follow up and see if she can indeed make a difference.
Around here, I have nothing but respect for teacher-librarians and how they’re reinventing themselves. It doesn’t take long to find a teacher-librarian who blogs about their move away from the traditional library.
While this is the topic studied in this post from Laura Beal, she approaches it from the perspective of a visitor to the learning commons and what it can do to support her work in literacy.
Coming from Upper Grand, it only makes sense that her paths had crossed with Alanna King and she cites Alanna’s Master’s work. In particular, she focuses on the notion of transliteracy which is an amalgam of “information literacy, critical literacy, digital literacy and citizenship, cultural literacy”. Instead of considering these as distinct literacies, the notion here is a blend of the concepts.
Laura indicates that she’s on the way to become a teacher-librarian herself and has embraced Alanna’s and the Canadian Library Association leadership. These are definitely two terrific resources.
Good luck with your coursework.
And Laura’s post led me to the teacher-librarian guru’s blog herself where she’s sharing some advice for secondary school students for the summer.
For everyone, it’s going to be a different summer. For students though, it may be especially difficult. Normally, these students pick up on various jobs throughout their communities. What happens though when those jobs don’t exist?
What’s a librarian going to recommend to avoid just sitting in a lawn chair?
Sit in a lawn chair and
- Read widely
- Read Canadian
- Buy yourself a new notebook
Alanna has a rationale for each of those points.
Alanna has suggestions there for each
Teacher-librarians have all the answers.
For me, it was always Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”. But for Tammy Axt …
Over the past 15 years, I have played a little Kool and The Gang’s Celebration to kick off summer. I usually do a little dance down the hallway and groove my way out of my classroom. This year, I got up from my kitchen table, closed my computer and walked 3 steps to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Ce-le-brate Good Times Come On!”
Then she has her own advice for educators for this summer, concluding a spring like no other
- Be kind
- Be calm
- Be safe
and she elaborates fully on each of them. Terrific advice.
(I’m sorry to read that she fell at home. I hope she can take her own advice and be safer.)
Please take the time to click through and read these posts at their source. Note that Laura has changed the address of her blog if you’re bookmarking things.
Then, follow them on Twitter.
- Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
- Jason Lay – @jlay02
- Franziska Beeler – @franziskabeeler
- Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
- Laura Beal – @BealsyLaura
- Alanna King – @banana29
- Tammy Axt – @MsAxt
This post originated from:
If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.