Whatever happened to …

… lawn darts?

This is another from the collection that Sheila Stewart forwarded my way. Thanks, Sheila.

I think the answer to this one is pretty easy. The plastic fins on the end were smart for accurate throwing but the metal tip that stuck in the ground had the potential to be a killer.

MushyDay 361 – lawn darts at an elementary school rummage sale!! (I didn’t buy ’em)
A package of Franklin brand lawn darts. Photo taken at an elementary school yard sale in Washington state, United States, with a Kodak Z650 Zoom digital camera.

I’ve also seen them called Jarts.

They came with a yellow plastic circle that was the target. Play, as I recall, was like a lighter game of horseshoes.

Now, playing by the rules was something that we did when my parents were around. Left to our own, we had other uses for them.

  • catching them
  • throwing them overhand for distance
  • being merciless when a friend would climb up a tree and become a target
  • using a newspaper as the target and trying to hit the pictures
  • and probably a few other things

Despite these uses, I don’t recall a serious event happening in our side yard with their use. We weren’t allowed to take them off our property though.

I do recall an incident once with someone else while we were camping. He came into the camping office bleeding from the forehead. A couple of bandages and he was off again.

Eventually, they were banned in Canada. They aren’t in the same deadly category as Kinder Eggs, but I don’t recall anyone being upset when they were banned. Sometimes, it’s just common sense.

For a Sunday, your thoughts…

  • did you ever own or play with lawn darts?
  • do you have any accident stories to share?
  • do you have any non-standard games that you played with them?
  • interestingly, real darts are still a thing. I’d argue that, in the wrong hands, they could be even more dangerous. I mean arming people with these things while they’re drinking in a pub? Your thoughts?
  • can you think of any current toy in production that should be banned?
  • is there a safe way to implement the lawn dart concept? (Answer is yes, there are alternatives)

Please take a moment and share your stories in the comments below.

This post originated on:


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

OTR Links 02/16/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Finding open resources

I found this resource courtesy of Stephen Downes’ OLDaily. It really struck me as unique, wonderful, and potentially very useful at the same time.

The Open Syllabus Explorer claims to map college courses with over 6 million syllabi.

I know that there are some college and university instructors that read this blog and I would encourage them to take a look at what’s available and might be helpful to them.

My focus is in K-12. In this case, it’s Computer Studies.

One of the powerful mailing lists that I follows comes from ACSE where Ontario Computer Studies teachers are sharing resources, asking for assistance, and looking for inspiration.

Teaching Computer Science is kind of an oddity. Unlike many courses where you just buy a textbook for student use, there aren’t that many textbooks for Computer Science teachers, particularly in 10-12. It’s a bit different if you’re teaching the Advanced Placement courses but for the regular Ontario courses, finding a textbook is incredibly difficult. Personally, I never used one.

Instead, I was always making up my own resources. They probably weren’t generic enough for others to use them but I felt they met my needs and the local interests of students. As such, I was always looking for new resources and ideas. It was always a hoot to find a new problem and work through it with students.

So, why college resources? There’s another dimension to all this. Sadly, not all students see the light and take Computer Science courses until they get to college / university. As a result, at post-secondary, there are often introductory courses. The ideas and inspirations there can be used as well.

I took a look and a search for a very popular programming language – Python. There are lots of filters to narrow your search if needed.

And the list goes on. Now, individual teachers would have to take a look for resources and test them for suitability but it’s a giant start beyond having nothing to work with.

At the least, you owe it yourself to check this resource out.

OTR Links 02/15/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs



Happy Valentine’s Day to ETFO members who are striking in:

  • Kawartha Pine Ridge
  • Near North
  • Rainy River School Boards.

No comment is necessary about the current situation in Ontario. If you’re a teacher in any publicly funded school, you know.

How about some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers instead?


Only an English teacher could be excited and motivated to use all caps.


What a great start to a new semester for Amanda Potts and her Grade 12 English students.

If you’re a secondary school teacher, you’ll absolutely appreciate Amanda’s observations about the difference between the enthusiasm of her Grade 12 students and those of her Grade 10s.

Her words speak to her professionalism. Only a teacher could immediately make observations about reluctant or even fake readers. The sooner this can be observed, the sooner something can be done about it.

From Day 1, she had them reading and she’s excited about that. She notes that the books are in “no discernible order”. Maybe that adds to the excitement of finding something interesting to read. You have to find it first.

Oh, and I was kidding about the pens and pencils. All teachers appreciate that. My method of encouragement to bring them was a box of golf pencils that I had on hand to lend those who forgot their own.

The Education Reform Most Needed for the New Decade

Before you click through and read this post from Anne-Marie Kee, think about what your personal answer would be to that statement.

Anne-Marie makes it clear that she is a supporter of technology and its use in her school but that wasn’t her answer.

Her answer came as a realization of the power of music and community that originated from a New Year’s concert celebration.

Her description of the service took me back to my youth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the big ol’ pipe organ. There’s just something special about being among the community with that one single instrument filling the church with music.

Why I Strike.

Zoe in 1980 from her blog

Teachers: Cuts hurt kids

Government: It’s all about money

If only it was that simple.

If you do nothing else, head to the bottom of Zoe Branigan-Pipe’s blog post where she gives a bit of a history of gains made by unions dealing with teacher working and student learning conditions.

Throughout the post, Zoe chronicles her various activities as a social activist.

I know that it’s easy to wax philosophy about the good ol’ days when we were in school. But, put yourself in the shoes of your old teachers and society as it was. The good ol’ days really weren’t that good. The job has evolved; society has evolved; the conditions under which teachers must work and students learn need to evolve as well.

Teacher Performance Appraisal: Advice for New Teachers

Speaking of the good ol’ days. Those of us who are long in the tooth can reflect back now about the process that we went through as we were being evaluated for the first time as really being a crap shoot. It truly was that and the TPA of today doesn’t come close to my experience.

I didn’t know what “they” would be looking for. I hoped that it was the teaching and learning that went on in the class. My Computer Science classroom was hardly a lecture hall. With limited resources, students were at various points of turning their inspiration into programs that worked. As it turned out, one of the superintendents wanted to actually see a lecture. Fortunately, I was able to turn a “history of computers” into a sit ‘n git instead of a research activity.

In this post, Laura Bottrell summarizes what is appraised during these sessions and clearly points out that it’s not a one shot, winner take all process.

Hopefully, new teachers are well schooled in the process before the it begins through their Faculty of Education, Program Departments, local administrators, and local federations.

Thank you

I really did some thinking about whether or not to include this post from Patti Henderson. Sadly, her mother passed away recently and this is a celebration of her life and the eulogy that she and her sister wrote and delivered.

Beyond their words, it’s the presentation in this blog post that is so powerful here.

Patti manages to weave a story in words and pictures of a life and story that is a tribute to her mother. It’s very well done and the collection of artifacts is amazing.

I find myself a little envious; my own mother didn’t like to have her picture taken so the few that we do have are so precious.

My condolences, Patti.

Here’s what I know about class sizes

I’m taking a lot of liberties with this one from Beth Lyons. It doesn’t appear on her blog. Rather, it’s more of an insight that she posted on Facebook. So, you’ll have to be a friend of Beth’s to read it.

I thought that, throughout this entry, she really showed some deep insights about what class numbers mean to good planning, good teaching, and good contacts. Keep in mind that Beth is a teacher-librarian so she reaches out and touches every student in the school. In the process of this post, she bounces between that and her previous life as a classroom teacher.

About determining reading level per child

Remember the class of 23 kids? Right. I’m only working with one of them. For 20 minutes. That means I need to have an interesting and compelling enough activity that the other 22 can do on their own. For 20 minutes.

A new student

Also, there’s a new student moving in on Monday. Better find a desk. And a chair. Don’t forget to buy supplies because your budget is already used up.

Concerns about well-being

Did that student you were keeping an eye on bring a lunch today? You haven’t seen them eat in a few days.

What about the other student that always wears their “favourite” sweater. Every day. And their pants are too short. And their toes are sticking out of their shoes. I wonder if they’ll have boots or mitts this winter.

And much more. Beth’s community really chimed in nicely with support and comments about this. Hopefully, we can convince her to move it to her blog so that more can enjoy and share it.

Friday Two Cents: I Fought The Good Fight

This post, from Paul Gauchi, is a little different than a story of a typical teacher striking for better working conditions in their classroom.

As readers know, Paul is an Occasional Teacher so he doesn’t have his own classroom or a permanent school. Potentially, he has every classroom in the district! Since he’s not assigned to one particular school, he has his choice as to where he would like to go and support colleagues. He makes an interesting and well-reasoned choice.

And yet, there was a nagging in his mind of another issue in another time and place where he wasn’t supported by colleagues.

It’s actually quite a sad story that he shares. Ever positive though, he recognizes that he can’t change the past but does have at least a partial say in his future.

Please take the time to click through and read all of these posts. They’ll inspire and give you some thoughts as you start your day.

And, follow them on Twitter.

  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Laurel Bottrell – @L_Bottrell
  • Patti Henderson – @GingerPatti
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This post originates on:


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

OTR Links 02/14/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The original fake news?



One day strikes by ETFO members will take place in: Bluewater, Grand Erie, Hamilton-Wentworth, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Ontario North East, Ottawa-Carleton, Peel, Penetanguishene, Protestant Separate, Simcoe County, Superior-Greenstone, Trillium Lakelands and York Region School Boards, and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre

Details here.


OSSTF members will strike in the following districts: Algoma District School Board, Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, Superior-Greenstone District School Board, Greater Essex County District School Board, Avon Maitland District School Board, Peel District School Board, District School Board of Niagara, Limestone District School Board, and Renfrew County District School Board as well as numerous worksites in Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario, Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, and Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario.

Details here.


A one day strike by AEFO members will take place across the province.

Details here.

Is fake news a recent thing?

Maybe not.

According to historynet.com on a February 13

Now, this might be a tough concept for kids today. Before there was a television in every home or in every room in a home or viewable on your device, there was radio. Listening to radio shows was often a great family pastime.

Media Literacy wasn’t something that was totally dissected like it is today. For the most part, people took it as a truthful source of information. Or entertainment. Or of the world coming to an end.

Orson Welles was a popular media producer both in movies and on the radio. Like much in the media, you get ahead by finding a niche and making it yours. He was a genius. Welles had a radio series and used it to experiment. One of his experiments was the famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast on Hallowe’en. It was a radio adaption of H.G. Wells’ work and was broadcast on Hallowe’en in 1938.

Legend had it that Americans listening panicked in many ways believing that this radio enactment was actually a real-time news story detailing an invasion from Mars. You can read at the link above all that happened – truthfully, and according to legend.

Because of the panic, people apparently didn’t consider the date that it was being broadcast, that the events started on the hour, was sponsored on the radio, and it took an hour to happen.

In my personal record library, I have a recording of Welles’ War of the World along with a collection of him playing the role of “The Shadow”.

the weed of crime bears bitter fruit

On this day in 1939, a Spanish version was broadcast leading to the burning at the radio station.

If only Media Literacy had been a thing at the time…

Would your students be fooled?

If nothing else, it’s a reminder not to come into the middle of a show…