This Week in Ontario Edublogs

As noted in yesterday’s post, the voicEd Radio show didn’t go perfectly this past week but Stephen Hurley claims that you can’t spot his splicing job. That’s a good thing.

Here’s some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers that I ran across recently.


Student-Centred Blogging

It was during the discussion on Amy Bowker’s post that the connection between us dropped but we reconnected and finished our discussion. It was a great discussion and I love anything that supports the concept of student blogging. It’s such a powerful and, sadly, under used technique.

Maybe reading Amy’s post will inspired others to get involved. As she notes, she had concerns that she was doing the majority of the work in class and wanted to shift the responsibility to her kids. So, a class blog with random grouping was formed after polling students for ideas about how to better engage their parents. The kids got it! Blogging won out.

And so, the Grade 5/6 blog was started. You can click through via Amy’s post to see the student writing and get a sense of where she wants to head next with the blog.


Strand A, Coding, and the new Ontario Mathematics Curriculum

I honestly don’t know what I enjoyed better – reading this blog post from Jim Cash or the open and frank private discussion that we had yesterday evening after Jim listened to our discussion. We definitely are of a like mind on this.

We both agree about the concept of coding with students. But, it’s just not the sense of writing a program. It’s the joy that comes from creating something from scratch and then just tweaking it to make it do exactly what you want it to do. In our perfect world, no two student projects would be the same.

The notion of coding was dropped into the Mathematics Curriculum and there’s an ongoing adoption often by teachers who are doing it for the first time, without professional learning. There’s a great deal of sharing of formal lessons or presentations that encourage every student’s project to be exactly the same.

Jim’s thinking is driven by Mitch Resnick and the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Group and I like the way he uses joy and passion to describe what kids can do.

My take is that the joy comes first by creating something from scratch and making it your own, customizing where appropriate. Passion follows when you develop the desire to do more of it. The key though is that teaching from templates makes it very difficult to achieve these things. Big, wonderful problems need to be developed.

Personally, I see why game development fits nicely into this. No two games should be the same as each student throws in her/his take on how to play


Mentoring Moments: Celebrate Teachers in Education!

I was delighted to find a couple of blog posts about mentoring this week. It’s such a powerful concept – heck – it may be the most powerful concept for professional growth in an educator.

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art of Education Blog, this post comes from Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge. After reading it, I felt so validated because she shares thoughts that would be so similar to mine if I wrote a post about mentoring. If you’re in education, you’ve got to love the Lee Iacocca quote:

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generations to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone could have” 

I’ve seen it work so well when the learning mindset is there. I’ve seen it fail when the mentee figures that he knows more than the mentor and doesn’t contribute. When it succeeds and goes over the top, the mentor actually shifts gears and becomes the mentee.

I also love her insights about how to network

  • Social events in professional development
  • Growing your social media PLN to build opportunies to connect
  • Building capacity digitally with Blogs, Pod casts and engaging conversations

When Cyndie Jacobs and I co-chaired the Bring IT, Together conference, these were some of the concepts that we worked on providing for attendees.


WHY DO WE NEED A MENTOR?

The second blog post about mentoring comes from Bei Zhang and I couldn’t find a Twitter handle for her.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I read the title. Would it be just another directive to do something based upon some sort of research. I was delighted when I clicked through and found that this blog post was actually a very open and honest discussion about how mentoring worked for her.

This is the best advice for success from the post.

Don’t bombard your mentors with millions of tedious questions. Mentors can guide you, but they can’t do your work.

For success, mentoring needs to be humble and cooperative. A good mentor knows this going into the process and a wise and embracing mentee comes to learn this if they’re going to succeed.

The context for the post is ESL which is an area that I have no experience but I can only imagine the challenges and the potential for a myriad of backgrounds and prior learning that would make it a challenge for the educator.

I don’t think that it is unreasonable that there may be people in this position and being the sole person in a school teaching ESL. In the post, there is a reference to TESL Ontario and a program that they have for mentoring.


“Maybe The Tooth Fairy Uses The Pronoun, ‘They’”: A Kindergarten Look At Gender

There’s always a little blogger joy in me when I announce that one of Aviva Dunsiger’s posts is going to be mentioned on a particular week. Since she’s a frequent blogger, she tries to guess out loud (on social media) which one I chose. So, here we go…

For me, fairies have always been female and I blame Walt Disney.

As long as I can remember, Tinkerbell was there and she was clearly female. In fact, as I reflect, Disney’s productions were always binary.

We’re living in a different time and the discussion from Aviva’s class indicates that her students are open to all possibilities. She captures the discussions nicely.

There is a delightful and yet sad moment in the post for me. Aviva shares a video of learning in her classroom and you can clearly see the social distancing and barren environment. It’s unlike your traditional kindergarten classroom and perhaps explains why her students are more comfortable outside playing in the mud.


Forestry resources from Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC)

From the STAO/APSO blog,

Calling all teachers and educators in Southern Ontario! If you are looking for a unique opportunity to bring forestry into the classroom, the Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC), in collaboration with the CIF-IFC 7Southern Ontario Section, is organizing a Forestry Teachers’ Tour on November 19, 2021 in Waterloo, Ontario, and you are invited to sign up!

I think this is an interesting and unique opportunity for Canadian educators wanting to bring forestry into their classrooms. It’s an actual, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face professional learning opportunity.

It’s subsidized at $20 and will be held in Waterloo.


Learning to Code – An Invitation to Computer Science through the Art and Patterns of Nature (Lynx and Snap! Editions)

I’m humbled to include this post from Peter Skillen this week. He takes to his blog space to share two new books written by David Thornburg. Both of these gentlemen have been so instrumental in helping me get my head wrapped around the potential and the benefits of having younger and younger kids coding on computers.

I’ve had the good fortune to being in the audience listening to both of these gentlemen and of dining/drinking with both to expand on their messages. Both have had a huge impact on me.

Lest I get too sappy …

I’m really impressed with the modern and inclusive approach for Canadians with the various languages the book was written in. This has Skillen written all over it. He wouldn’t have done the translation himself but he’s so well connected, he’ll know who could.

Lynx is available in Canadian English, French, and several Indigenous languages including Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Mi’kmaq, and Mohawk—with others to be developed when CanCode funding is renewed. With CanCode funding, it is also available at no cost to Canadians. (For others, after the Trial version, it is quite affordable.)


I hope that you can take the time to click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts. Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Jim Cash – @cashjim
  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Bei Zhang – writing on @TESLOntario
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – @staoapso
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen

5 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

  1. Thanks, as always, for connecting Ontario Edubloggers each week. It’s always interesting to see and hear what you think of other people’s posts and the connections that Stephen and you make to them. While I think that the freeness of the outdoor environment definitely appeals to many of our kids, they’ve also largely come to love the indoor one too (as have we). There’s surprisingly more connecting opportunities than you might think. It doesn’t look the same, but it’s still full of possibilities. My Friday morning positivity, perhaps. 🙂

    Aviva

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: OTR Links 11/06/2021 | doug — off the record

  3. Pingback: My Week Ending 2021-11-07 | doug — off the record

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