doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was great getting back to the microphone for the radio show / podcast this week. After two weeks, the boom arm on my microphone was dusty and Stephen caught me cleaning it during the show…

Here’s what we talked about and a couple of bonus posts.

Hurting? Ask For Help!

I’m a big fan of how Cameron uses his blog as inspiration for students to write. And, because they’re writing on the blog, they’re truly writing for an audience.

This time, the topic was bullying and anti-bullying. Of course, he used the opportunity to remind students of

After setting the stage, the students had a choice of two ways to respond…

For your blog post this week you have two choices: 
1. I want you to imagine a student in grade five who is struggling with anxiety, stress, or bullying and write them a letter that you think could help them get through the tough times. 
2. Write a paragraph that explains your strategies or ways that you deal with stressful situations or tough times. 

The responses are honest and open and I thought really rich for a Grade 5 class. This is well worth checking out and maybe replicating in your class.

The Many Benefits of Mud Play

I remember, as a kid, playing in the mud and catching all kinds of heck when I got home. Things would be wild if I had been in Deanna’s classroom.

It didn’t come out in the post but parents are so supportive of students playing in the mud that they chipped in and bought a class set of boots. How’s that for support?

Deanna gives us a lovely description of what she’s expecting as teacher when the kids get muddy.

  • Playing with natural materials like mud and water help children build a relationship with nature.
  • Mud play encourages problem-solving and innovation.
  • Children explore many math concepts authentically through mud play
  • Mud play bolsters children’s oral communication.
  • Playing with dirt and mud strengthens children’s fine and gross motor skills.
  • Mud play appeals to sensory learners and can be a calming and enjoyable activity for many
  • Research shows that playing in the dirt can strengthen children’s health and immunity.

Each bullet point has a detailed description and pictures to show what it looks like in real life. Fun!

Deanna is so devoted to the concept that she’s written a book about it  Muddy Math: See, Think and Wonder.

Despite all this, there was room to grow. During the show, I got this message from Colleen Rose.

Mud = clay = ART CLASS!!!

Routine. Familiar. Customary. Methodical.

Elizabeth continues to find ways to attract my attention and wanting to read her blog posts. This time, it’s a series of four words all punctuated with periods.

I thought this was a very brave post to put out in the open. It’s one thing to talk about great things happening in your class but quite another to talk about challenges that you’re having. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have thought that her challenges would be where she identifies them, coming from a library position.

First of all, in the subject area where many people have challenges – mathematics – she seems to have wrapped it nicely into a routine fo the students.

  • Monday “Minds on”
  • Tuesday and Thursday “Roll and Write”
  • Wednesday “Number Talks”
  • Friday “Esti-Mysteries” from Steve Wybourney’s blog from Oregon

As an aside, the Esti-Mysteries was a real sinkhole for me. Great stuff!

The area where she identifies challenges is Literacy. That surprised me but here we are.

She’s working on building a framework for that class. I really love the openness in this post.

Icky But Interesting Facts About Poop

This is an incredibly important topic and everyone should be aware of it. Kudos to STAO for posting it to their blog.

Just the other night on the evening news, I saw a report about the growth in the number of cases of colorectal cancer. It’s scary.

Do yourself a favour and read this –

As noted in the blog, your body can tell you a lot about what’s going on and all that you have to do is look.

The post gives a short description of things to look for – what’s normal – and what could be happening.

Meet the PhDs

The podcast this week comes from Vicky Loras. Vicky is on her own way to earning a PhD and along the way she’s interviewing others who have already completed that journey.

This episode was with Dr. Thanassis Godelitsas.

I found his story very interesting. I guess, coming from education, I see most PhDs as those who completed a Bachelors’s and Masters’s degree and continuing in education. There was no straight path for Dr. Godelitsas and his bio as you’ll see on Vicky’s website shows studies in so many areas.

Beyond the content, it was interesting to listen to Vicky conduct the interview. She’s constantly prompting to keep the conversation alive. Unlike a few others, she doesn’t just give us a pat set of questions; she adjusts based on the conversation. It’s a nice style and if you’re a podcaster who interviews others, you could learn a lot just by listening.

NU#17 – Leading Teams These Days…

One of my superintendents was big in leadership and he did so many professional activities with us – because he wanted us to become leaders in our own rights.

He was always talking about change and how we need to evolve with the realities that are happening in schools and society. Nothing stands still.

That was the strong message coming from this post from Jen.

Leadership needs to look a lot different these days. It’s the people around us that matter most – now more than ever- and I think we’re all just trying to figure it out as best we can, as we go along.

Over my career, I worked for many leaders. Each of them was strong and powerful in their own way but no two were the same.

As I read Jen’s post, I could easily see that they would fail as leaders in our world today if they continued to use what worked for them back then.

If you’re a leader or you aspire to be a leader and wonder what might work, you will find this an interesting read.

Phone home

This is one of the most difficult things for teachers to do – make that call home because something has gone amiss at school. This has a nice ending to it.

“I’ll call again and let you know how it’s going,” I said.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she replied.

Amanda is short of specific details and that’s a good thing for the privacy of the student. I think we’ve all had that moment when we know that we need to make the call and dread it. Nobody likes to be the bearer of anything but very positive news.

I can’t help but think that this is one of those very powerful reasons why we blog. We anguish, over-think, fret, worry, … and blogging is a release. You can talk to a spouse but, unless they’re an educator, they don’t really get it.

Amanda shares her thoughts with her blog and with us if we care to read. If you’re like me, you’re going to want to send her a virtual hug and celebrate a happy ending that came unexpectedly.

Please take the time to click though and read all these wonderful posts. Dropping a comment while you’re there is always appreciated.

Then, follow them on Twitter

  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Elizabeth Lyons@mrslyonslibrary
  • Claire Zuliani & Michael Frankfort @MsZuliani @mfrank_76
  • Vicky Loras – @vickyloras
  • Jen Shirley – @jen_shirley
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This is a regular Friday morning post around here and a live radio show appears Wednesday mornings at 8:45 and available as a podcast later.


2 responses to “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”

  1. Dear Doug,

    Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and your lovely words – and for including me here!

    Have a great weekend,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Friday – This Week in Ontario Edublogs […]


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