This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and a chance to wander around the province and take a look at some posts from awesome Ontario Edubloggers. Listen to the Wednesday show for five of them but it’s only here that you get those extra two as a bonus.

Not the same Christmas

First up is Melissa Turnbull writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog. This post should serve as a reminder that not all students in your classroom celebrate Christmas or celebrate it the same way. Some classrooms more so than others but …

She nails it with three observations that generate my comments here.

Not all students are celebrating Christmas – I think we all know that but if you’re old enough, you’ll remember the outliers in your classroom that didn’t join in. When I went to elementary school, it was all about Christmas. We even all piled into the gym first thing in the morning to sing Christmas carols. Except for one of my friends who had to stay in his classroom and do seat work…

Students may be worried about being away from school – As bizarre as it might seem, we now know that a school may be the safest and most comfortable place for students these days. For some, it may also provide the best meals. Then, to be gone for two weeks takes all this away…

Some students will receive gifts – some will not – That is so true. I can still recall the conversations that would typically start with “What are you getting for Christmas?” Some had great expectations, including going to Florida or something.

Melissa concludes with a number of things that she does in her classroom. It’s a good read and reminder; I know that experienced teachers have been around the track a few times and should know all this but it might be new to younger teachers.

Shelving the Elf

After reading Sue Bruyns’ post, we now know what exciting things that she does on a Sunday afternoon and, sadly, it doesn’t appear to be watching football. She writes about the week ahead in a memo to staff. That brought memories for me of the “blue memo” that would be in the mailbox on Friday afternoons and essentially laid out what was going to happen next week, day by day.

Sue has morphed her message into one of reflection and I think finding that memo on my mailbox on Monday morning (or in my email), could be inspiration to start off the week on a positive note.

The topic of discussion here was the use of Elf on the Shelf in classrooms. Since this concept comes late to me, I was interested in reading her take and talking about it with Stephen Hurley on our Wednesday show. Now, I’m not above a good scavenger hunt to find things hidden around places. In fact, there’s a treasure hunt going on in our town now based on the light displays. It makes you look just a little harder and pay attention. There are a few there to denote the religious part of the season for some but many are there as part of a seasonal light show that extends over a period to cover many of the religious celebrations.

I’ll admit that having this creepy thing hidden on shelves spying on you as an attempt to modify behaviour was a little strange. Stephen indicated that, even if you did find it, that you were forbidden to touch it.

Sue addresses it this way.

It would have been easy to turn a blind eye to the situation and quietly shake my head and avoid the conversation. But over the years I’ve learned that the easy path is rarely the right path.

Her message is based in the concept of the Elf and religious connections and is a good read and a time for reflection as to whether this is a wise move. Sort of like her memo would be.

Limit #SOL2021

I’m going to steal this image from Melanie White’s post.

Isn’t that great advice for any educator?

Teaching is a profession that takes everything that you have and then asks for more. How many teachers realize it when they feel like they’ve given it their all and then something or someone asks for “just a little more”?

Can you say everyone?

The simplest solution is to “learn how to say no” but that seldom works as we all know. The result, and I think the Christmas season is the worst for it, is the sense that you’re drained and feel like you just can’t give any more and yet a system requires more.

Imitation Isn’t That Flattering

Tim King writes a post that I think that a lot of teachers of technology and Computer Science have experienced so many times. When an administrator who doesn’t have background in the discipline looks at what you’re doing and then asks you to make it easier, it’s an affront to your professionalism.

All teachers observe and understand when the going gets tough. I love the quote “When a problem happens, a teacher appears”. Technology teaching is unique in that there is so much background that must be developed before work of any substantial quality and quantity is possible. That is different from some other subjects where you can ease into things.

In Tim’s case, it was having students program an Arduino.

Photo by Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

Others might use a Micro:Bit; in my time before this, we had kits with wires and boards and LEDs. You need a great deal of understanding in order to make it work and I can remember the frustration of trying to get the first couple to work and then I got it. It was fun later on to push the envelop. A definitive essay on this is Seymour Papert’s Hard Fun.

I hope that Tim sticks to his beliefs in this one. I don’t know how you’d address the curriculum expectations otherwise.

Taking Care of Myself

It’s been a while since Jennifer Brown had blogged and she addresses this before dropping the message about personal health issues on us.

She has support as demonstrated in the comments from dear friends and that’s so good to see.

The issue that she describes is hereditary and that drops on so many of us. For me, it started on my father’s side of the family and strong prescriptions for glasses. I think we all can empathize with Jennifer and send her some virtual hugs to start her on her journey to control things.

Her blog post should be a reminder to all to stay on top of things during COVID times. I appreciate, although was freaked out by all the plastic draping at my dentist, and I’ve maintained my other doctor’s visits albeit by telephone for the past, it seems like forever.

You need to be an advocate and you truly do need to take care of yourself and Jennifer nails it in a powerful post. And, trust a Teacher-Librarian to not place her trust in Dr. Google, but reach for a book as a credible source of information.

I most certainly extend my best wishes and encouragement for her to continue to stay on top of things.

To Move Or Not To Move? That Is The Question.

I thought that we were finally going to get a look inside Aviva Dunsiger’s classroom and not have pictures of her students outside. She did relent towards the bottom of the post.

As a secondary school teacher, when I would drop into elementary schools for visits, kindergarten classes always befuddled me. There’s activity everywhere. I have amusing memories of being outside in the play area where it’s just mayhem to my eyes and the teacher next to me described what every child was doing and why, even those that were behind her. Kindergarten teachers really do have eyes in the back of their head.

We live and teach in different times. Around here, and I know that Windsor and Essex County is currently faced with high COVID numbers, accountability has never taken on so much importance. In the post, Aviva starts off by describing the process of seating plans. Now, it’s old hat for most grades but it’s not something that you’d think would be so thought provoking in a kindergarten class. We were told that the plans were important for supply teachers and the principal when they would come into the class to do what they do. It was also invaluable when learning new names at the start of a course. Now, it’s also the way to contact trace and ensure safe distancing between students.

The current Kindergarten direction is so play-based that the notion of having and sitting in a sitting plan setting just seems so wrong. And yet, these days, its value is so right.

Aviva’s blog posts are often so revealing about her current reality and insightful as to just what is happening in her classroom. It seems so different these days compared to the past.

This kind of nails it.

With COVID restrictions, free-flowing movement and interactions in the classroom are more challenging.

But, good Kindergarten teachers will find a way to meet that challenge.

Knitting, Crocheting and Loom Knitting

Another post from the Heart and Art Blog got me really appreciative for the work that people are doing to reach out to every student and to bring new experiences into the classroom.

Tammy Axt takes us into the area of knitting and more.

For many people, knitting is used as a relaxing pastime to calm emotions and focus energy and I have seen it have a great impact at school

My mom was always knitting. It is a repetitive activity, to be sure and it can be so creative. Of course, we hold our parents on pedestals and I’m no different. She could knit anything. I got a lesson once and made a badly formed scarf. There is so much skill to make things so cohesive and consistent. I think that the biggest appeal for me was that it was so mathematical in the shape and form of the knitting involved.

The closest thing that I ever came to what Tammy describes in this post was a field trip to a museum where we got to try out a loom. It was kind of cool and insightful for the few minutes that we were there and then we moved on to something else.

I’ve recently found out that my former next-door-office-mate is a big knitter and has opened her own store online to sell what she’s doing. My wife and I actually went out to one of her shows and her stuff is amazing. (Don’t tell anyone but we bought a Christmas gift from her)

In my family, knitting died off with my mother and mother-in-law being the last of the big knitters. Certainly, my kids have expressed no interest at all.

As a result, I appreciate Tammy’s message and those students that experience it may well get an insight from her classroom that would be available nowhere else.

I hope that you can find the time to click through and enjoy these original posts and appreciate the wisdom and sharing that Ontario Edubloggers do.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter

  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Jennifer Brown – @JennMacBrown
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This week’s voicEd Radio show is available here –


4 thoughts on “This Week in Ontario Edublogs

  1. Thanks Doug! It’s always great to hear what others see and think about your posts. This weekly post of yours not only connects Ontario Edubloggers, but also shows the role that interpretation and reflection can play when reading what others wrote. I so appreciate how you take the time to blog in this way each week, and how it often makes myself and others have different insights around the posts we’ve read and written. (I feel as though this last sentence is grammatically wrong, and yet, I don’t know how to fix it pre-coffee. 🙂 )

    Happy Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

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