This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for a weekly wander around the Ontario Blogosphere. Normally, the voicEd Radio show would have been broadcast on Wednesday morning but an internet outage in Milton meant that we had to pull the plug. The first five posts below would have been discussed and then, as always, there are a couple of bonus posts.


Teaching Loss and Recovery

I’d been sitting on this monthly post from Elizabeth Lyons because I saw so much in there and really wanted to do it justice. It’s tied to her concept of the monthly word and this time it’s “Recovery”.

In the post, I felt that she beat up on herself due to the back to the classroom/library reality that she’s facing. I don’t take any issue with the points that she raises; I’m sure that she and thousands of other educators feel exactly the same.

It’s the ownership and blame part that has me thinking. I remember going out for practice teaching at the Faculty and the question was raised in class as to why we went to different schools and the answer made sense “it was to see different teaching realities in action”. We were to work in them so that we were better prepared for classrooms of our own. At the end of the first period, I thought I was in big trouble. My associate didn’t “teach” in the traditional front-of-the-room sense – the students worked their way through assignment sheets and that allowed them to go at their own pace. I was so angry when the report said that “he didn’t teach in the traditional way” and I figured that I was going to have to do an extra assignment. In reality, I learned so much by working along with students and watching them work at their own pace.

I’ve had many “the kids are not alright” discussions and that made me think of successful classrooms. As a secondary school teacher with six different classes, it wasn’t ME that set the tone in the class – it was the students. Even teaching the same subject content to two different classes saw a disparity in how I taught and the pace that we went. When I thought it through, it made so much sense and later, as a teacher consultant, I recognized that every school had its unique staff, students, and way of doing things.

In a return to the classroom, we have teachers who have been working in an entirely different way and a variety of ways that students have worked, skipped, ignored, etc. Teachers really are driven by their students and any issues there (and Elizabeth was inspired by Pav Wander’s Learning Loss post) may make a teacher challenge their abilities. It seems to me that it’s normal and should be expected. Nobody was prepared for this.

There is no quick rush to the way that it was that will work in this case. It’s going to be a case of carefully working through things because of the step aside that everyone was forced to take.


Peculiar, Chancy & Fluid

When I saw the title of Tim King’s post, I thought “what the heck is he talking about?” He explains it nicely when he reminds us that he went from teaching English to teaching Technology. The English background will give him a license for befuddling this mathematics, computer science guy.

His inspiration comes from Soulcraft by Matt Crawford. The post does bring across a couple of really important and yet sad points. He notes that his lovely wife attended a Professional Development session and came back with the observation that the administration isn’t walking the walk at this time.

He features a couple of stories will tear your heart out – if you know Tim, you know that he’s passionate about education and I could absolutely see him with an infra-red light or tape measure distancing all the desks in his room to embrace social distancing and the kick in the teeth that he would feel when directed to add more desks to accommodate even more students.

I still struggle with envisioning what 2.5-hour classes look like and keep wondering if the final grade will have an asterisk attached to it. Responsibility is properly attributed to those who are making some of these decisions.

This is a very sobering post from Tim and I would encourage you to read through it; I suspect that Tim is speaking for so many educators in the province right now.


My Experience Teaching In The “Hybrid Model”

Tammy Axt is next up with a summary of how life is going after 20 years of experience and it’s no surprise that she defines it as “this was by far the worst model for learning”.

I think it tacks on so nicely to Tim and Alanna’s thoughts about administrators being removed from the classroom and yet making decisions about how they are to run. Clearly, sitting in front of a camera and delivering a 20-minute inspiration talk to a system has all kinds of benefits. Or maybe even doing it in front of a small audience.

But, it doesn’t translate in any sense to a classful of students working in the classroom and a group of students watching in from at home. Particularly, these days, sit ‘n git is fading away in the rearview mirror. Active learning experiences and immediate feedback have proven to be the best piece of technology in your arsenal.

It’s a sad post as Tammy goes through and explains in the first person exactly what it means and how it works or doesn’t work. It’s an emotionally difficult post to read, I found.


10 Math Concepts that Children Learn from Puddle Play

I love that Deanna McLennan is back at her keyboard and sharing her thoughts. Who doesn’t like a good inspirational post about mathematics?

It’s the notion of “play” that I think could apply to all classrooms. I know that, teaching computer science, that there were the academic requirements. But the students that rode to the top of that elevator and wanted more just “played” around with code wondering if they could do this or that without being specifically instructed to do so.

In this post, Deanna shares her thoughts about learning mathematics through play and puddles and gives some great discussions and pictures to support her premise.

  • Patterning
  • Opposites
  • Temperature
  • Measurement
  • Cause and effect
  • Comparison
  • STEAM
  • Counting
  • Reflection
  • Area and perimeter

Finding A Pair of Socks in the Dark: Recreational Mathematics and Using the Pigeonhole Principle with Young Children

If you’ve ever studied mathematics and probability, you’ll have done this but I’ll bet that you’ve never done it with socks.

If you’re like me, you’ve done it with a bag and black and white balls. Go deep here or read on to Matthew Oldridge’s experiment with socks in a closet in the dark.

There are 20 black socks, and 20 white socks in a drawer. If I get up and get dressed in the dark, to avoid waking my family, how many socks must I pick out of the drawer, to be sure I have a pair?

There’s a simple knee-jerk answer to the question and you’re probably wrong if you chose it.

l love Matthew’s discussion and analysis. It’s a fun activity to introduce the concept of probability.

It also made me appreciate my mother who made my brother and me tuck our socks together and fold them after they came off the clothesline. Our socks were always available in pairs!


Which One Doesn’t Belong? (WODB)

Melissa Turnbull apparently makes great use of the images in the https://mathbeforebed.com website. And why not? I clicked the link to make sure that it was still active (it was) and immediately found my way down a sinkhole of great activities.

In Melissa’s kindergarten classroom, she uses the website and an activity to get her student’s minds on thinking and mathematics before the actual lesson. In the example given here, she’ll prompt with an image and the students determine which one doesn’t belong and she’s prepared to take any answer with a good explanation showing a great deal of thinking.

The activities are nicely fleshed out in the post

  • WODB shows students that there are multiple ways of solving problems 
  • There are multiple entry points
  • WODB promotes mathematical thinking and the use of mathematical language 
  • WODB can be used in any grade level 

Reading this post made me loop back to Elizabeth’s post above as a way to engage students and get them thinking to start the learning in our new reality.


What Are Your “Scaling The Mountain” Moments?

Aviva Dunsiger is afraid of heights so I guess a field trip to the CN Tower is not in the cards for her students. Apparently, she shares this fear openly with her students and they took advantage of the opportunity.

In the post, she shares her “mini-mountain” in the playground. It doesn’t look too difficult to me but apparently, it’s a challenge for her. The other challenge was for her kids to get her to suck it up and climb the hill with them. From the picture, it appears that the word “mountain” is used pretty liberally!

The mountain climb might seem like a small one for many, but for me, it was a big deal and our students know that. 

When I think of the Hamilton area and mountains, I think of that waterfall on the 403. But, it was her mountain to climb and the kids got her to do it. Kudos to them.

To provide you with perspective as to the height of the mountain.

As a result, Aviva is interested in your thoughts about mountains that you might need to climb and how to show vulnerability to students.

My mountain, and I never climbed it, was in my first year of teaching. It probably was more of a line in the sand but crossing it seemed to make it mountainous. My Grade 13 students were only a few years younger than me and some were of drinking age. I was invited to go out with them to one of their dad’s bars before a football game or prom or something. It was a mountain that I chose not to climb. All I could see was having to call it a career ending move. The sad thing was that it didn’t happen just once. There were a number of times that they would gather there and I always seemed to get invited and had to decline.


Please take a moment to click through and enjoy all these terrific posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Matthew Oldridge – @matthewoldridge
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

2 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

  1. Thanks Doug for always connecting Ontario Edubloggers each week through this post. Yes, the “mountain” is very small, but one of our kids called it that last year, and the name stuck. While it’s the height that scares me, the bumpy terrain is also a little scary too. I always see the potential to fall. Thanks for sharing your mountain story! Knowing which risks to take and which ones not to, are important. I would have said, “no,” to yours too.

    Happy Friday!
    Aviva

    Like

  2. Pingback: My Week Ending 2021-11-14 | doug — off the record

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