All about squirrels

And now for something completely different ….

I learned more about squirrels yesterday afternoon than I ever thought I would, just watching the CTV News. There was a segment about squirrels – or rather an application written at the University of Guelph that you’re encouraged to take and use everywhere.

As you observe squirrels doing something, you add it to the app and the information is gathered for future study.

You can take a look at the results as they are gathered here.

The story was completely different from what you expect from the evening news so we were riveted to the television.

We have a love / hate relationship with squirrels around here!

We love seeing them jump around and climb on branches. So much energy. We don’t love them when they’re hanging upside down eating from the bird feeder or they’re digging away at the mulch in the garden. I learned last night that they might not necessarily be burying things but might rather be faking others out.

The application has just been launched and so is just starting to collect data. There are already people observing and sending what they’re seeing to the project.

More details about the project are available on the University of Guelph news site.

You can download the app here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy first Friday of April. Have you rolled the dice to see what kinds of weather we’ll get today? One thing is predictable – this post! Enjoy. No fooling.

Researcher’s Journal – Coming up with a question

I like to think that this is a big advantage of social media. It happens when people ‘get it’ and share openly expecting a reaction and input from their community. Paul gets it.

Normally, I wouldn’t get excited about History – sorry Paul – but his big question intrigued me.

Developing a National Identity through the teaching of history

I think that’s an admirable target one moment and then, the next moment, I wonder about that identity. In recent times, we’ve come to learn so much about parts of Canada that I certainly didn’t learn going to school.

Locally, we are trying to come to grips with the person who our town is named after.

We’ve dealt with issues like this in Canada before – the naming of Kitchener comes immediately to mind.

So, Paul had me intrigued and yet, his big question might change as he tweeted during the voicEd Radio show.

Digital Citizenship In 2022

I clicked through to Daphne’s post to see if there were some new insights about ‘Digital Citizenship’. After all, I think we all know what that means and we work at it or should work at it regularly. When she went looking to the internet and a couple of her favourite resources, she found lots of stuff. But that’s not what she’s looking for.

She’s looking for citizenship ideas for students in K-12 with iPads in all corners of the room, robots roaming, and the care and feeding of this technology up front. Forget about going online; what does it mean to be on top of things in this primary setting?

When she gave up, she used some old-school traditional messages to create the model for what digital citizenship should mean in her classroom.

She shares her paper and marker creation in the post and it’s worth a look to make sure that you have the same type of community in your classroom and, as Stephen noted during the show, it applies whether you’re using technology or not.

The big message from Daphne’s post is that sometimes it’s easy to skip over those first steps and make assumptions that may or may not be helpful. She’s really thought this through.

AML in Action (PS Retired Folx Are Eveready Rabbits!)

This is a two parter post although the first and second parts are nicely related. The first talks about the current activities that the Association for Media Literacy is involved with. It’s an ambitious list and I give kudos for a subject association doing something so useful anytime but particularly at this time.

  • Offering an AQ Course – AML is actively delivering – others aren’t
  • New Mini-series in Mediacy Podcast – shoutout to Stephen Hurley for providing assistance
  • International Council for Media Literacy IMLRS Conference – Diana and Neil Andersen
  • Advocacy for Media Literacy Updates to the Ontario Curriculum – curriculum dated 2006

Diana notes that it’s not just her doing these things but gives a shout out to some great educators who are ‘retired’.

  • Neil Andersen
  • Carol Arcus
  • Carol Koechlin
  • Anita Brooks-Kirkland
  • Stephen Hurley

I put the retired in quotes because, for so many educators, leaving the paycheque doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the profession. With years of experiences, it’s wonderful to see that they’re providing insights for upcoming teachers.

Oh, and in the post, you’ll see Stephen Hurley wearing a shirt and tie as he receives an award.


I’d have to go way, way back in my mind to see an ECOO event in particular where Martha and Dustin aren’t there working with educators. They’re always there and certainly online pushing the envelop on ideas and concepts that might be old hat to some and brand new to others. We need people like this.

On their company blog, they’ve recently interviewed Dean Vendramin about esports and the club that he has in his school in Regina.

I was riveted to the post because it’s an important concept and not one that’s easily embraced in the curriculum. So, it’s a slide in through the back door! Participants go above and beyond to be part of it.

If you’re in the mood to start a club in your school, there are great ideas here. If you’re looking to make connections, FairChanceLearning and Dean would be good candidates.

Hello World

Computer programmers will understand the context of ‘Hello World’ as it’s traditionally the very first thing that you have a computer do when you are learning a new language. From Anne-Marie, it’s an acknowledgement that she’s been away from her blog for a while.

I can’t help but think that this is a model for all principals – get onto a blogspace and share with the community and whoever else happens by what you’re excited about. Every school is unique and, to parents and students, very special.

There’s a wonderful collection of bullet points in Anne-Marie’s post that give a sense of where her priorities lie.

The biggest excitement is actually buried in a paragraph after the bullet points. She’s excited to see student faces again. What a simple and yet powerful statement.

Now, your school will not be the same as Anne-Marie’s which has a farm but there’s so much happening to be excited and to share, so why not?

And, for those local newspapers and other media outlets that are always looking for great local stories, this could be the kickstart for something really good. Reference to it made this blog afterall!


Writing on the TESLOntario blog, John has an interesting insight on the concept of accessibility. I think most people have a certain audience in mind when they hear the term. John wants you to think bigger.

As I read, I was reminded of a CODE initiative from years ago, “Essential for Some, Good for All”.

Accessibility enhances the web experience for all. John’s going to be leading a couple of webinars on the concept in the future.

In the meantime, there are some things that he addresses here that may well have you thinking differently about how they might be used by all students.

There’s a huge list of suggestions in this post. It’s not an easy and quick read but certainly worth the time.

THE trick to get your students reading

The more books they can be exposed to the better in my opinion.

This is a timely reminder as things return to action in schools that ‘choice’ is such a powerful option for students in their choice of reading materials. It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but it doesn’t hurt to look to see if and how you’re doing it.

Amy covers a lot of that here and also shares an online resource (free) to assist in the process.

There’s a subtle or maybe not so subtle message that she describes and shares a picture of to push the process. It’s a simple concept – a request list for books by students and it’s posted on the wall for all to see. I saw a pretty strong message there that maybe I should be requesting a book if I was in Ms. Bowker’s class!

Another Friday and another great collection of blog posts. Check them out and then follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Daphne McMenemy – @McMenemyTweets
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Fair Chance Learning – @FCLEdu
  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • John Allan – @mrpottz
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker 

This Week’s voicEd Radio Show


A number of teachers are using Wordle in their classrooms as a challenge and an opportunity to do some collaboration for solving the puzzle. I find it a wonderful way to start my day and I have made it part of my routine.

Wordle is perfect for the reasons that teachers are using it.

What if you wanted a bit more?

Spello might just be the answer.

The landing page gives you a hint of what makes this application different.

It comes with one list of words for solution – Top 10 misspells.

And then, the button “Create New”.

Yes, you can create your own lists for solution. In the classroom, you might find it the perfect way to introduce new words for students based upon your priorities.

Yes, it’s for teachers and one of the menu options specifically addresses them.

Once you have the word list, play looks like so many other word games so if your students are used to Wordle, they’ll make the switch to the new application with ease.

I thought that this was a great addition to the world of Wordle spinoffs/enhancements and added it to my collection which you can find here.


A shoutout goes to Doug Belshaw and his Thought Shrapnel newsletter for this piece of inspiration. If you don’t follow it, you should. He takes you to places that you don’t know exist and his thoughts about what he sees when he gets there are worth the click.

In the most recent newsletter, he shared a resource that took me back, way back.

In our work area at school, a lady who sat in the opposite corner of the room was a big Dungeons and Dragons player. She was really into it and I’ve never quite figured out whether it was for the DnD stuff or if it was a chance for her to make connections to her university life where she studied History among other things.

The resource that Doug found and shared was a Medieval Fantasy City Generator. Now, I’ve messed around many city designer applications but they tend to be for modern cities. This is different.

Playing around with it, navigating through various cities, and becoming a city redesigner by using the tools in the Menu took a great deal of time away from me this weekend. It’s fascinating and the connection with Dungeons and Dragons had me thinking about design and the purposeful construction that was done both in fantasy and real life.

It takes me back to a different time where planning wasn’t designed around freeways and subways. It was just a nice diversion to everything else that’s going on around here and that’s not a bad thing at all. Plus, the coder in me appreciated the efforts that went into design and I started thinking about how I might be able to do the same thing.

Totally unrelated and yet related … there was a dragon on the garage floor created by some melting snow. Coincidence?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Hello and welcome back to a stroll around the province to read some blog posts from Ontario Educators. If you have a blog of your own and it’s not on my list, please let me know.

sometimes nothing is all you have and all you need

If you’re like me, you got into university because of high marks from secondary school. Then, you got admitted to a Faculty of Education because of high marks from your university. It’s how the education game is played.

But, what happens if you have a “lack lustre transcript”? Will’s words, not mine.

He went shopping for a Faculty that would admit him and use other metrics than marks for entrance. Will doesn’t tell you the university but you can ask him …

“Experience is a terrible teacher, because it forces you to take the test before the lesson.”

That pretty much sums up the teaching profession and it’s most amplified during your first years of teaching.

Nothing could really prepare you for your place at the front of the classroom but, if you’re still teaching, you’re still there. If that’s true, then certainly absolutely nothing prepares you for what’s happened the past couple of years.

This is a nice feel-good post about you and the profession lived through the eyes, mind, and keyboard of Will. You’re going to feel great for Will with his perseverance and his desire to be part of the profession.

I wonder how many other Wills are out there who didn’t stick to it?

I’m a Hacker

I’ve got to apologize to Tim. This post goes back to December and somehow I missed it. I’m glad that I found it because there’s lots of good food for thought here. He concludes his post describing his work with students and When I was in the classroom, we had students involved locally with the Touche-Ross Programming contest which we were able to take to the Ontario Science Centre for provincial programming as part of the ECOO Conference.

But the interesting thing to me was a Grade 9 student who proclaimed to Tim that he was a “hacker” because he could download and run scripts designed to do damage to others. That isn’t hacking; that’s just possibly criminal activity. Tim mentioned that a keynote speaker had told his students about a career in penetration testing. That’s an incredible job and well worth pursuing if that’s your interest. That’s a case of using that knowledge for good instead of evil.

Tim uses the opportunity to diss on scripts. I agree with him if the goal is just to download something evil and run it to see what happens and/or maybe do damage. I go back far enough to have a subscription to 80Micro where there were programs in there that you could key in (carefully) and run on your computer to do various things. I attribute that activity to increasing my understanding of programming. I know that, in the classroom, we would often take a look at someone else’s code to see how they did things. An uncompiled program or script can be marvellous when used in that manner.

I absolutely agree with Tim that we need to be looking at making ethics, coding, and cyberliteracy a compulsory part of the curriculum. Before COVID, the limiting factor was access to technology but we’ve kind of got around that – if your district has made wise decisions in the technology that it acquired.

Annual Reading Challenge – 2022 #TLchat

Laura’s always coming up with unique ways of professional learning. Often, it’s in the Loo but this time, it’s a bookmark – and a reading program.

Each staff member got a bookmark and a challenge to read 11 books over the next 11 months but just not any old book. On the bookmark are topics consistent with the school learning plan.

Culturally Responsive Teaching in Science

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since Shelly last blogged but she confesses at the beginning of the post. It’s good to see her back; she does give us some thinking points and that’s always a good thing.

In this post, she hangs her hat on inquiry and there’s no question that that should appeal to all educators. She notes that we have a good Ontario Curriculum and when you apply good things like “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy” and “Universal Design for Learning”, you can make it do some amazing things that go far beyond the words in the curriculum.

The notion of Culturally Response is easier for me to see in some subject areas than it is in others. She could have taken the easy route with her approach but she didn’t. She digs into a strand in Grade 8 science and provides ideas and inspiration for marrying the two. She notes that it isn’t a huge leap to head into Mathematics.

I thought that it was an interesting and insightful post and could inspire you to do things differently and make the strands that much richer in content.

More/Less & Before/After Questions

On the surface, I pegged a certain grade level for some of the big list of ideas that Tammy includes in her post.

  • What comes after a funny joke?
  • What comes before you say, “I’m sorry”?
  • What comes after the telephone rings?
  • What comes before the victory parade?
  • What comes after the electricity goes off?

It was pondering how to make this a discussion for the voicEd Radio show that the curtains drew back and I could see uses for it everywhere.

Particularly in Computer Science, it’s what we do. If you do calculations or processes out of order, you get unexpected results. You see it most when you allow student to compose at the keyboard rather than sitting down and planning appropriately. The ability to sequence is crucial.

The bottom line here is that there’s inspiration here for everyone.

“I have been forced to celebrate Valentine’s Day all my life!”

When she asked her class about a research activity for her class and they turned to February, this was the list of things they came up with.

  • Black History Month
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Lunar New Year
  • Groundhog Day
  • Family Day

February is indeed an interesting month. There are all kinds of things available though. As a football fan, I’m disappointed that Superbowl Sunday didn’t make the list but perhaps the mindset was things that you celebrate in school.

I like how Kelly probes further with each of these topics. But, I couldn’t get past the title. There always was something Valentine-sy in my schooling. Even at secondary school, student parliament used sending roses and chocolates a fund raiser and class disrupter.

I really like the idea of doing the research and seeing what comes from it.

Friday Two Cents: A Wonderful Reminder

Reflection: You know when you have a feeling that you are loved and respected by someone? Well, I felt that from a lot of students in that school this week.

I think it’s probably easier not to have this reflection. After all, there are a lot of things that are wrong in this world at this time. Paul elects to reflect on the positive and this turns into an inspirational blog post.

And from an occasional teacher as well. Is there a more challenging position in education these days?

I’ve provide the links to each of these posts. Click through and enjoy.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Tammy Gaudun – @MsGaudun
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Canada