This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Good Friday morning. I hope that all is well in your little part of the world and that you’re looking forward to reading some quality thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers. There’s great stuff ahead.

Let’s Explore Math: A Journey in Four Parts

You know, even though I have a degree in Mathematics, there are times when I have to sit down and scratch my head to help out with homework. Gone are the days when the techniques that I used are the way mathematics in done. I like to say that we’re part of the toughest mathematics generation; we switched to metric during my school years but not 100% so it helps to be fluent in both. We’re also subject to the latest revision of the “new math”.

We recognize now the anxiety that some students experience and are working to address it in school. But, as we know, mom and dad often get called upon to help out these days. Maybe even more.

Alice Aspinall as written a book to help the cause and gives us a preview in this post. Back in my day, mathematics resources were printed in black and white. Any drawings were typically done by the teacher on the chalkboard. In Alice’s book, it looks like it’s filled with colours and illustrations to help with the cause. I know that the targeted audience is kids but I can’t help but think that parents would benefit from this very graphical approach to concepts.

Successful Secondary School Online Learning

From Terry Whitmell, a rather long-ish blog post where she shares her thoughts about teaching online in the secondary school. She addresses;

  • Consistent Structure
  • Posting using Multiple Modalities
  • Chunking
  • Being Available Online
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Sharing a Master Agenda
  • Clear Expectations
  • Taking an Inquiry Approach
  • Communicating Regularly with Students and Parents
  • Monitoring Participation
  • Breakouts to Connect
  • Allowing for Fully Asynchronous
  • Team Teaching
  • Ergonomics
  • Learn and Share

I suspect that, if you scan the list before you click through, you’re saying to yourself that much of this is just good teaching. It is and Terry paints a picture and shares ideas about what it looks like online. It’s a great discussion.

One really leapt out at me – Ergonomics. We know that school districts pay thousands of dollars to equip classrooms with appropriately sized desks and chairs. We know the physical pain that comes from using inappropriate furniture. But, what happens at home? I know that some dining room tables are now serving double duty as workspaces. If you’ve every tried it, it can be painful when you’re there for long periods of time. In the blog post, I love the picture that Terry shows of a workspace and I can see it working. (note the note pad)

I suspect that many people are concerned about computers and reliable WIFI as being the big needs to be addressed. They need to step back and also take a look at the physical workspace. I’m so pleased to see that she included this in her post because it’s no small issue. The longer students are at home, the worse it’s going to get.

This article has some tips –

Sympathetic Teachers

After reading this post, I now know that Tim King does yoga. I had no idea. Maybe this contributed to his being named an Everyday Hero by his district!

Tim tells us how they threw a curve ball at him. (do they use curve balls in yoga?) His regular teacher was replaced by another who had a completely different approach and that caused him some grief.

Ultimately, Tim reminds us that teachers are not all the same. It would be pretty boring if we all were.

The standardized, generic teacher who follows the lesson plan template using the educational philosophy of the moment is no teacher at all (though you sure could pay them less!), and they would be teaching to a standard student that doesn’t exist. 

Perhaps this is why teachers sometimes challenge the messages given by keynote speakers, principals, district consultants who have a limited period of time to deliver a messsage about some sort of pedagogy.

The post brought back a bit of a smile from years ago when we listening to a speaker trying to encourage all to be “discovery teachers”. I was sitting next to a carpentry teacher who noted that “this would never work in my class. You can’t discover safety …”.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2021

I’ve learned so many things over the years from Peter Been and this past week, even more.

I saw the title about Pinhole Photography and it immediately brought back an activity that we did in Scouts that involved a cardboard box, a pinhole, and real photo film. I could actually see him making something like that.

That’s not the deal here. Here, he’s taking the same kind of picture but with a modern twist – putting an adapter on his camera where a regular lens would appear. The results are quite impressive and Peter shares many of them.

It’s just like looking at oldie pictures. It’s an impressive collection.

You can actually make your own pinhole camera fairly easily –

Grade 4/5 Science in Minecraft: Education Edition

My learning started before reading the post as Shawna Rothgeb-Bird has a new Twitter handle. Then, I dig into the post.

Many people try to incorporate Minecraft into their classrooms. Like anything though, there needs to be a reason.

In Shawna’s grade 4 and 5 classes, there were very specific things that they were addressing:

Grade 4 – food chains, predators and prey, appropriate shelter, biomes.
Grade 5 – which organs were part of the system

In the post, she includes some images of the student work and they’re quite impressive. You can immediately see the connections to the topics.

This isn’t a “one and done” activity. Shawna closes off the blog with other examples where they’ve used Minecraft.

Virtual Schools Moving Forward – E047

I used to work with a lady who, when we’d brainstorm, always lead off with “Doug, if you were king of the world, what would you do?”

That moment came back when I read the notes from the EduGals supporting a recent podcast. I suspect that everyone in the province has their own opinions about virtual schools. Everytime there’s a notification of a news conference, you have to ask “what now?”

Gut reaction: it needs to implemented properly and purposefully, with a budget to reflect that it is a priority. 

Standing behind a podium, never having been in a classroom, it’s a simple thing to say that we’re going to offer both face to face and online education. Maybe even both at the same time. York Region has shared their vision here.

Anyone who has ever stood in a classroom knows that there are challenges and hurdles to address. I thought that the EduGals did a nice job discussing it in their podcast and that this blog post goes the extra mile explaining just what it’s going to look…potentially. Set aside some time for reading and listening. It’s a well considered discussion.

Empowered Digital Leaders Spring Cohort & Teacher Appreciation Week

How’s that for a nice, long title for a blog post – this one from Jennifer Casa-Todd.

I clench every time someone talks about a bullying incident with a child. They don’t always have the tools and the skills to address it and defer to the wisdom of a parent. Jennifer set the stage with a recent personal discussion.

Jennifer and Adam Hill have paired to offer an Empowered Digital Leaders course (it starts tomorrow) to address the situation. It’s a four week course that addresses:

  • What is Digital Leadership
  • Learn and Share Learning
  • Celebrate Others/ Promote Important Causes
  • Make a Positive Difference in the World

I hope that you have the time to click through and read these terrific blog posts. There’s lots of good learning there.

Then, make sure that you follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is live on voicEd Radio Wednesday mornings and the show downloadable as a podcast later. This week’s show is available here:


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