## This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I had a free Wednesday morning this week as Stephen was off and away. However, we’re back next week and Amanda Potts will be joining us.

The Level of our Systems

I know that Donna is technically not in Ontario any longer but when she writes, I read. I worked for a superintendent who was big in setting and trying to achieve goals. I had always worked on setting and working towards goals but it’s not always easy in the staffroom where conversations wander in different directions. What was special with him was that he would meet with me periodically to see how I was progressing and he shared his goals with me and asked how I thought he was progressing. After a while, I did become more honest!

In the post, Donna lists four goals from James Clear’s book.

• Make it obvious
• Make it attractive
• Make it easy
• Make it satisfying

There are a couple of things that I’ve always tried to do as well…

• Make it visible – your next learning friend might just find you
• Make it measurable – if you can’t measure it, how do you know if you’ve reached it?

Happy New Year: Back to School Part One

Shelly has been promising to write a blog post for a while now and she delivered! Yes, the summer has gone by so quickly but we know that it always does. I can tell you that, when you have a birthday mid-August, it’s even worse. You wait all July for it and then it happens – usually on a family reunion day – and the gifts are often back-to-school clothes! But enough about me.

This post is clearly written from an elementary school perspective. I had to smile when I think of the difference as Shelly lays out three things for us to consider. If you want to read her thoughts, they’re well described and laid out in her post. Read it. Here’s how her points would translate to my classroom.

• Desks/Chairs – I had the smallest classroom in the school. It sat 24 comfortably which is perfect for Computer Science. The year I had 36 in a Mathematics class was nuts. I had tables which sat two people, three rows deep and two tables on each side of a centre aisle. The first period of the first day of class was the only time the chairs were normal, facing the front. After that, the chair would be moved into different collaborative working spaces. (and often social gathering spaces…)
• Bulletin Boards – I never did a bulletin board in my entire career. Computer Science is a communications program of study and so students would sign up to make a bulletin board over the course of our time together. The Marketing room with all its resources was just across the hall and so convenient. There were some amazing things put on display about some sort of computer topic. (they typically had to research it; shhh, don’t let them know it’s educational)
• Student Materials – I never had the opportunity to teach students with their own laptops taking notes but I think I’d do it in a heartbeat and spend some time talking about folders and organization for saving things. In my time, students brought their own binders, etc. and a quick look around the classroom let you know who had money for fancy binders and who didn’t or just didn’t care.

Real-Life Math: 2 Simple Strategies for Joyful Math Talk

I love this from the concluding of the post.

The important thing to remember when doing math talks is that they should be natural and not too forced. What I mean by this is that memorizing a script of questions will not necessarily produce the results we want as educators. With practice (by you and your students), the conversation will begin to flow, and the questioning will become more organic. What matters is that we are trying to present these everyday scenarios to our students so that they know that math is all around them and part of their lives beyond the classroom.

I’m not completely unbiased with this since I went to university to study mathematics but I’ve had my share of mathematics teachers over the years. When I think of the ones that really inspired me, problems were always framed in the narrative of a story. The very best ones had a puzzle element to them as well. There’s a different feeling you get when you’re involved in a story or a puzzle. You end up enjoying things and there was no quote to get X number of questions done before moving on.

This article is rich in a philosophy that I can really appreciate. She gives concrete examples from photographs and nature and that just seems to be so natural. The talks can turn towards the abstract in the hands of a great mathematics communicator.

Uprooting

I’m a sucker for Amanda’s one-word titles and they always draw me in, unlike some titles that can be a paragraph long and I can just say pass. I know that the advice is to go the other way but what she does works for me.

So, uprooting what?

If you’ve been following Amanda, you’ll know that she’s been on holiday and that’s awesome. One of the big concerns about holidays is keeping your homestead under control while away. Apparently, dandelions were kind of a big deal here!

Amanda, you brought back a memory of a trip from my youth. We had a dog named Peter. Yeah, I know Peter Peterson. Anyway, we drove to see the Calgary Stampede, Banff, Jasper, and then the Pacific Ocean. We had intended to camp every night in this heavy canvas tent. Our luck was terrible; it would rain and so the next night we’d be in a hotel rather than camping. It wasn’t a great trip but we were away for two weeks. I’m not sure where Peter was boarded but, when we came home, our house was alive — with fleas. Without a dog and flea powder to keep them under control, they went nuts.

Having a house sitter or someone devoted to maintaining things makes so much sense for extended holidays.

Project Learning Tree – Seeking Teachers Grades 7-12

This is more of an opportunity (and you have a week to apply) for educators looking to do some curriculum writing to benefit the profession with a focus on forests. Topics to include.

• Global perspective on climate change and the role of forests in mitigating climate change.
• Carbon footprint and carbon offsetting, with a focus on how these relate to forests
• Sustainable forestry practices and how they can help fight climate change and enhance forest resilience.
• Indigenous perspectives on climate change and forests.
• Implications of climate change to local forests and communities
• Benefits of urban forests for tackling climate change and impact of climate change on urban forests
• Environmental careers related to forests that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
• Action being taken to protect trees, and forests in the light of global climate change projections and actions youth can take.

“Ungrading” is one of those buzzwords that you hear periodically. I’ve been in the audience of plenty of educational speakers who talk about upsetting the educational system by ungrading students.

The problem with doing this, it seems to me, is that you need a plan. You can’t go to a PD session on a Friday and come back to work on Monday and implement ungrading.

What I like about this podcast and show now is that Rachel and Katie provide a plan. It includes a how-to and importantly, who should know that you’re actually doing it. They have a fan on Twitter with their advice.

I really enjoyed reading their thinking on this but there’s still a question that nags at me and that is “at what point”? Could a teacher new to the profession pull it off? My initial reaction is no but that prompts a follow-up question – ok, then at what point in the teacher career is it appropriate? Are there other resources that could guide the process?

The timing of their post is useful; it seems to me that going into an ungraded class in September makes a great deal of sense.

Naming system for heat waves being considered

Before I start, a little warning that if you get offended by bad words, this might not be the post for you to read.

However, if you like a little satire to reflect back on the warm summer that we had in 2022, you might enjoy reading and his suggestions for naming heatwaves.

dougzone22’s Alphabetical/Chronological Heat-Wave Naming Algorithm

How hot has it been this summer? Usually, my birthday starts the discussion about when we should start thinking about closing the pool. Not this year. Heck, we didn’t even put the cover on last night. 29 degrees is just too warm.

I hope that you can find some time to enjoy these posts. Click through and enjoy.

• Donna Fry – @fryed
• Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
• Alice Aspinall – @EveryoneCanMath
• Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
• Michael Frankfort – @mfrank_76
• The Edugals – @EduGals
• Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1

This is a regular Friday feature around here. You can check out the past episodes here.