Ontario voices


If you listened to This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio yesterday morning, you would have heard Stephen and me make reference to a new series of podcasts that Stephen was involved with.

Stephen was commissioned (volunteerissioned?) by ECOO to have interviews with a number of Ontario educators who are on the front lines, teaching in these challenging times. The series is titled Ontario: Learning Together at Home.

I did know that Aviva Dunsiger had been on the podcast as I’d already listened to her thoughts and that was all that was posted.

Soon, a number of other podcasts appeared

  • Aviva Dunsiger
  • Tim King
  • Jason Trinh
  • Colin Jagoe
  • Alanna King
  • Danika Tipping

The list of names wasn’t terribly surprising. Many of the individuals have been presenters at provincial conferences for years. Jason was a new name for me so I listened to him with extra interest. To this point, he was a name on one of my Ontario Educator lists. Now, I know a great deal more about the gentleman.

I found their insights interesting. They come from different disciplines and panels (I was surprised there weren’t more elementary educators). Even geographically, they were nicely spread across at least Southern Ontario. Of course, the husband and wife team are a great deal closer!

Stephen let it slip that there’s another one in the pipeline.

Their stories are short and I think you will immediately empathize with them. They do reveal some important insights about how they’re getting through the current situation.

I would encourage you to visit the voicEd Radio site and listen to one or more of these. It’s a nice reminder that all teachers are on this ship together.

On a personal note, as a person who doesn’t get out much these days, it was absolutely terrific to hear all these recognizable voices again and visualize them in the rolls that they describe. I’ve been in sessions led by them all. Thank you to each of you so much for sharing your stories.

Professional learning changing


We had another mixed emotion day here on Sunday.  There was a birthday in the family. Normally, we’d all gather somewhere and celebrate.  Of course, in these days, celebrations have to take on a different form and we adapted. We celebrated but a family grouping in Zoom just isn’t the same.

It’s not just family celebrations, of course, that are hurting.  

There are professional learning events as well.  It seems to be a little funny to discuss these things when schools aren’t even in operation but here we are.  The biggest technology conference sponsored by ISTE (International Society for Teachnology in Education) has announced that it’s re-scheduling its annual conference to November.  https://conference.iste.org/2020/attend/COVID19.php

I wonder if the big crowds that normally attend will do so this year with the change.  Educators and vendors from everywhere descend there. I’ve been to many and have made many enduring friendships over the years.  It’s so expensive to attend between registration, hotels, and flights to get there but I’ve always found a way to make it happen.  The only one that I ever drove to was years ago in Minneapolis and we turned that into a family visit. I keep hoping that some day they’ll see the light and recognize that Detroit has a superb facility right down on the river.  

I wonder about the “getting” to the conference though.  I know that, from here, it would be a four hour plus flight to California.  After September 11, the airline industry really changed. Because of the current fear of spreading disease, airlines are going to need to up their game again ensuring safe seating and safe air for breathing in their airplanes.  Add to that the wait at security and the large gatherings in airports where these areas are like the anti-social-distancing model.

But, kudos for having a plan and communicating it with the world.

A similar challenge has faced the CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association).  As with ISTE, they have an annual conference in the summer. This year’s conference was scheduled to be held in Arlington.  Plans for a face to face conference have changed and the conference will now be held virtually. https://csteachers.org/Stories/we%E2%80%99re-going-virtual

Both organizations are committed to the concept of providing professional learning to their members.  There is a danger in missing a year. People tend to forget and move on to alternatives. There’s much to be said for loyalty.  

Just recently, I got a message out of the blue asking me when the BIT20 Conference would be.  I’m certainly not in the loop these days other than by clicking on the website but can offer some thoughts.

As a former President of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, I wonder about the logistics of our normal November conference here in Ontario.  If there is any professional learning money left, will it still be directed to the benefit of Ontario educators?

A couple of years ago, we experimented with a new concept – #ECOOcamps.   The idea was to hold a professional event on a Saturday with a minimal cost to teachers.  It would be held locally – our case in Owen Sound and really celebrate the expertise of those local educators.  We had tremendous support from the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board and Bluewater District School Board. From my perspective, it went over well (who can forget the weather?) – and over well enough that it was repeated the following year and expanded to Peterborough.  The design was to fit into the middle between an EdCamp and a formal conference. It included keynotes, exhibitors, breakout sessions, informal sessions, breakfast/lunch and no hotel stay all for the price of $25.

In a perfect world, we’d be hearing about a gearing up for an #ECOOcamp and the Bring IT, Together conference itself with calls for proposals, etc.  The website currently has a thank you for attending last year – https://bringittogether.ca/.  

ECOO has had an annual learning event(s) since its inception.  It’s an opportunity for Ontario Educators to get together and share best practices with each other and push each other to greater things.  As I look at the picture on the website, I really do enjoy viewing people that I know or at least recognize. They represent the best for looking for great ideas for the use of technology in Ontario schools.  I can give you a long list of people that I look forward to reconnecting with every year. Plain and simple, it’s just the place where we’re all together in one spot.

Certainly, we’re living in challenging times and educators have been challenged in ways like never before.  They really need to see that their professional association has their backs in some manner so that the quality learning, in whatever form it might take, continues.

Can anyone share the status of other conferences from your professional associations? We do live in a time like no other with schools on hold. As a person who has always thrived on learning opportunities, I hope that the powers that be find some way to make them continue.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday!

Check out some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.


My “20 for 2020” List

This was an interesting read provided by Sue Dunlop. I think we’re all seen people post about “one word” or various spins on the concept with the goal of self-improvement or at least self-change.

Sue’s approach is a little different and inspired by Gretchen Rubin.

Sue has goals and shares 20 of them with us. There are some interesting choices in her list. Some look like fun; some are pretty serious; some are things that I can’t do …

You’ll have to hop over to her blog to see her list.

I was a bit disappointed that cycling down the Red Hill Valley Parkway didn’t make the list!


How Do You Write with Honesty and Courage?

Jessica Outram starts this post with an interesting collection of questions.

What does it mean to write with honesty and courage? What is the relationship between the writer and her work? Do you sometimes step back and look at what you are writing as an opportunity to gain self-awareness or as a practice of self-development?

Those are interesting questions that, quite frankly, I hadn’t even thought about – at least until now.

I immediately thought about the difference between writing fiction and non-fiction. It seems to me that fiction would be more difficult to write since you wouldn’t necessarily have exact facts at your fingertips. You’d have to remember the characters and facts (or otherwise keep track) so that you’re consistent. Non-fiction would be easier, I think since you’re writing from real life experiences.

In terms of her last question, personally I think I’d select self-development but just the fact that she includes self-awareness in the question makes me wonder just how much I’m missing.

In the post, she reveals how she writes. It’s a great provocation and I think I need to pay more attention to my routines.


The Art of Questioning on Math Assessments

You have to stop and read this post from Heather Theijsmeijer! It may well change your practice for good when it comes to asking questions in mathematics.

I don’t care who you are. You grew up learning mathematics old school. Or, as Heather identifies it “Traditionally”.

Basically, your teacher gave you questions and you generated answers. Mathematics as we know it.

But what if there’s a different approach and Heather describes this so nicely in the post. What if the student could choose the level of their question in advance?

There’s a great argument for a change in practice here, along with rationale. Good stuff.

I’m also wondering if there’s an opportunity for teacher to monitor student self-efficacy over time. An increase in this would speak volumes about a teacher’s effect and a student’s confidence in the material even before working through a problem.

I’m not aware of any textbook that is available using this approach. Writing opportunity?


Street View Photography and Land-Based Learning in Peawanuck, Ontario

I don’t know when I’ve been this excited reading about a project. We all know about Google Street View and mapping. We know that you can use real pictures to tell stories about a community.

Years ago, I had written a post about My Childhood Community. I was so proud of it at the time.

Now, I’m totally embarrassed after reading about this project.

The blog post is really a teaser to get you to click through to the project results. Since I’d never heard of Peawanuck before, I used their map (after zooming out) to determine just where it is.

Then you dig into what the students did and how they share their work.

What an opportunity to tap into local resources and share the story with the world!


Bottlenecks

My sympathies go out to Tim King as a result of running into many walls trying to do something in his school. The same type of thing has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit.

But that was then, this is now.

As Tim notes, there was a time when we would have to limp along because the computers that we were trying to use were underpowered.

We currently live in a world where we have dynamite kick-butt computers and we have lesser powered machines like iPads and Chromebooks and yet we can do amazing things because the common thread is being connected to the internet.

What happens when that doesn’t work?

Read Tim’s post of frustration and you’ll see from his perspective.

I find an important question from all of this is just who determines what applications are important enough to make sure they work and what other non-critical things are allowed to run at the same time.

Bandwidth is important. I remember when I was chair of the Bring IT, Together conference. We kept asking and were assured that they had enough. That was until the opening keynote and looking down at over 1000 educators all with computers, tablets, phones, on and at the ready. It’s our reality in this day and age.


Her Story

The huge message coming from Peter Cameron’s post to me is to acknowledge that there are resources far richer and more contemporary than what you’re going to find in any textbooks. Student in Mr. Cameron’s class are real beneficiaries of his vision and planning.

It has been a while since Peter had blogged but it certainly looks like he’s been busy. Really busy.

Peter’s connections have built such an interesting collection and he shares a wonderful story along the way. Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of his work.

Be prepared to follow a large number of links that will take you to the things that Peter has done over the last while.

Sharing one person’s story and connecting with them can create ripple effects that can turn into a wave of action and change.


Learning Environments

If you find any post that references David Thornburg, you know that it will be strong in research, very observational and with the best for students heading into the future at the forefront.

David was brought to the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee as a keynote speaker a number of times. I always looked forward to subsequent meetings with my superintendent because I always did my best to ensure that he was at the sessions. He listened to David and was inspired by his thoughts.

One of his biggest complaints was school districts that would build new schools without regard for input from parents, students, and teachers. I still remember him saying “How can you leave the most important people out of that conversation?”

Shelly Vohra brought back so many of these powerful memories of those discussions in this blog post.

She addresses learning environments and making the idea learning space. Spoiler – it isn’t all about the “stuff”.

This is a longer post but is absolutely worth the read and to forward it to colleagues if you’re in the position of being able to design learning spaces.


Oh yes! Another wonderful collections of blog posts.

Please take the time to click through and read them all in their entirety. There’s great thinking happening here.

Then, make sure you’re following these people on Twitter.

  • Sue Dunlop – @Dunlop_Sue
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Heather Theijsmeijer – @htheijsmeijer
  • Melissa Lavoie – @MelizzaLavoie
  • Tim King – @mechsymp
  • Peter Cameron – @cherandpete
  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3

This post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First…

Members of OSSTF, ETFO, AEFO, and OECTA will be on a one day strike today.

Reporting here.


It was a great reading week for blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Here are some that I caught up with.

Annual Teacher Observation

Aviva Dunsiger was inspired by last week’s post from Laura Bottrell about TPA, NTIP … goodness know that education loves a good acronym.

But first, this video courtesy of Stephen Hurley…

In Aviva’s case, she shares how she managed to escape the evaluation process in those early years. Of course not on purpose; this was long before TPA and NTIP. I didn’t miss that in my professional career. As important as it purports to be, it really was a contrived classroom experience. Typically, you know it’s coming, you make sure that most things are neat and organised, and you prep the kids. Just don’t repeat a lesson lest the comment “We already did this, Sir” comes out.

Interestingly, Lisa Corbett chimed in via reply that she had the same situation when she moved to Ontario for a career. I wonder if this was before superintendents learned how to use spreadsheets.

Fortunately, we’ve gone beyond that one shot evaluation and the whole New Teacher program is an expanded and worthwhile activity now. At least, in my old board, it made Harry Wong a name that all new teachers immediately recognized.

Despite Aviva being overlooked in those early years, she has now earned the classroom cred and now serves as a mentor for new teachers herself.


Class Size Matters: Then and Now

In 1973, Deb Weston was in Grade 5. The class had 29 students. These are her good ol’ days. She even included a picture but didn’t identify which one was her.

Hands up silently if you remember…

  • Your classroom teacher wasn’t qualified
  • You sat in alphabetical order and faced the front; no talking
  • Students who needed special education had their own separate class
  • Sometimes, there were students who “failed” or “skipped” a year
  • There were Education assistants but they were in the Special Education room
  • Discipline was meted out with a strap or a belt
  • There were 29 or some other number students in your class

Fast forward to today and so many of these things have changed for the better. Way better.

So, maybe the good ol’ days weren’t so good after all. It’s a message for those who would like to see education in the province return to this way of doing business.

Of course, the good old days weren’t necessarily like this in private schools.


Which Steps Will You Take?

Rola Tibshirani is back blogging. Yay!

This is kind of a long blog post as she catches us up on what’s going on in her professional life. The first part reveals a great part of her philosophy of teaching and the students she greets every day.

There is so much in that one paragraph! You’ll find that that is but a start when you read her post.

In addition to all this, Rola shares a couple of presentations that she gave during the fall…

  • BIT 2019 – How Does Collaborative Learning Support Social Emotional Learning
  • TransformEd – Unlock limitless learning

And slidedecks that go along with this. I found the second one particularly powerful since it’s a collection of Twitter messages. The messages themselves are powerful but even more power lies in the ability for a teacher to reach out to a network to support their work.

By itself, that’s an important takeaway message.


Slice of Life: Feedback

Why can’t we be more positive with each other?

This section is actually two posts – one from Lisa Corbett and the other from Paul McGuire. Both deal with feedback although in a couple of different ways. Yet, there’s a common thread that binds.

In Lisa’s post, she shares her frustration with getting inadequate feedback from a university professor. In the process, she mentions APA style which formed the direction of the professor’s comment. I had to smile a bit; I remember in high school studying APA, Chicago, and Turabian styles. We learned (or memorized) the fussy bits and at the end were told to just formally learn one. I think I chose Chicago and then got clobbered by a university professor whose life revolved around Turabian.

The point should be mostly on content; shouldn’t it? Published professors send their content off to a company to get the job done. Lisa’s post reminded me about how good a job K12 teachers do in providing feedback. They recognize that it should be ongoing, inspire improvement, and often is geared for an audience of more than one person. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the same from a university professor.

After all, when you live and breathe it and it becomes part of your professional practice, It shouldn’t be different anywhere else.

Paul’s post took a couple of different directions. Public disclosure; I was the anonymous friend that Paul included with Heather in having comments made publicly that were like “smacking you in the face”. I’m so sorry to read that Heather went through a similar situation in public. Have we evolved to an online world where one-up-person-ship rules and the last stinging comment wins?

That takes us to the second part of Paul’s post where he shares some of the feedback from his Faculty of Education class. It’s almost scary to think that these two are on the verge of becoming teachers.

So unfortunate to have an instructor with a traditional lens on history.

Sorry, but we stand today on the shoulders of giants who paved the way before us. Too often, the latest and greatest theory is just a fad.

there were too many presentation assignments

Come the fall, these presentations will earn you a pay cheque! Instead of complaining, why not craft your skill before a “friendly audience” before it gets real. This person would have been floundering in my university class. Not only was every student expected to teach a topic but the rest of the class designed the assessments.

In defence of the students, it’s important to remember that they’re transitioning from a university experience to one that’s in K12. I hope that they remain in touch with Paul to share how things turn out for them.


Out of My Mind and Into My Memory Bank

There’s so much described in this post from Sue Bruyns. First, she’s leaving her office to drop in and watch classes in action – there’s no indication that this is a NTIP deally…. Secondly, the teacher doesn’t shift gears from what she’s doing just because the principal is in the room. Thirdly, the students weren’t distracted either and were so riveted on the story that it sounds like they ignored Sue and their snacks because they wanted to listen to the story being read to them.

Anyway, back to the post … Sue was riveted as well and went out and bought the book so that she could read it. It took her back in time to a classroom with a couple of special needs students. And, that brought back some thoughts about that time…

Oh how I wish I could go back in time. I was never unkind or mean to Debbie, like Claire or Molly, but I didn’t step up and take the time to get to know her like I wish I had.

Don’t we all wish that we could go back and relive things?

There’s a wonderful comment added to this post.


3 Identical Ornaments

If you are fortunate enough to still have your parents, you may not be as impacted by this blog post from Ramona Meharg.

I struggled whether to include it or not. It’s very personal to Ramona and I’m hoping that my thoughts are received as very understanding of her writing.

I’m also struggling with my own emotions as I type this.

One of the saddest things that you’ll ever do is clean out a house or room after a beloved family member passes. Everything that you touch has a memory and an importance attached to it.

Imagine this.

Do Ramona a favour and read her entire post.


Do you know what is happening in Ontario?

This week’s “State of the Province” comes from Jennifer Casa-Todd.

Sorry, right wing Conservative types; there is nothing in there about Jennifer wanting a raise or increased benefits.

She’s explaining for those who care to read a couple of the issues that are important to her.

  • Class sizes
  • Mandatory e-learning

In the post, Jennifer expands on each from her perspective. This perspective, as she notes, may be biased.

Actually, I would hope that her perspective is indeed biased. Without bias and a passion for the position, it would be more difficult to withdraw services and march a picket line in the middle of winter.


Please take some time and click through and enjoy all of these wonderful posts.

Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter to stay in touch.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Deb Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Ramona Meharg – @RamonaMeharg
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

The voicEd Radio show appears here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There never seems to be any shortage of good blog pieces from Ontario Edubloggers. Friday is my opportunity to share what I’ve read recently.

Here goes…


Arguments for Teacher Performance Pay in Ontario

This wasn’t the first time that Kyleen Gray has blogged about the merits of Performance pay for teachers. See the older post here. In this post, she argues five areas where she feels how performance pay would improve the profession.

  • Will support retention of effective teachers
  • Improve teacher performance
  • Positively impact student learning
  • Public perception of teacher professionalism
  • Vet poor teachers from the teaching profession

Personally, I have a difficult time seeing how it would play out in the long run.

  • Who would make the judgement about who is effective and who isn’t?
  • What is the baseline against which performance would be judged?
  • Particularly in her fifth point, would there be an opportunity for a “poor teacher”, however that is defined, to improve?
  • Are some subject areas more valuable than others?
  • How do you compare performance across grades, across subject areas, across a school district, indeed across a province so that there is a consistent standard?
  • Do we place higher value on coaching than we do on a person upgrading their qualifications or the experience and wisdom that comes from longevity?

There are so many issues that I just can’t see a solution to with this premise. The value of teacher federations goes beyond pay – it also involves security, benefits, social activism, collegiality, pension … How does that survive?

Stephen Hurley also blogged about the issue here.


Slice is of Life: Who Needs Me?

I would argue that teachers work all year long to get to the point that Lisa Corbett describes in this post.

In a mathematics class, she found herself on the outside looking in. But in a good way!

No student needed her assistance and yet all of them were engaged with whatever activity they were assigned. (See the image with the smiley faces in her post)

My first note on Lisa’s post was “this doesn’t happen by accident”. It’s the result of a great deal of hard work creating the environment, developing the skill set, and finding engaging activities to have the students working in this manner.

I suppose that she could have left and got herself a coffee but she found other equally valuable things to do in the classroom. What’s not to like?


WHEN LAST PLACE FEELS LIKE FIRST PLACE

In the first sentence in this blog post from Mike Washburn, I had to open a tab and find out just what he was talking about when he claims to have finished a race on Zwift.

Then, I was able to read on and put things in context. I had already had my eyes drawn to the spreadsheet-like construct that appeared in the post. So, Zwift allows him to compete against others in a MOOC for cycling and running. He was competing against people from who knows where and who cares where with the goal of pushing himself to do better things.

It’s an interesting concept and he admits that he had some pretty strict competition but it was a fellow competitor by the name of Lisa that kept him going. A lesser person might have just given up.

So, he stuck with it. Then, he turns his eyes towards the classroom. Is there personal learning that he could take from his experience to get the same results from his own students?

It’s an interesting read. I think it is a good reminder that we all need others to support us in our endeavours. As adults, we hopefully can realize this. How can we set the table so that students get the same understanding?


Find A Vision

Joel McLean offers a video well worth the time watching.

We can’t all be visionaries. I think we all know that.

But, how do you work for/with/along with someone who is.

Joel offers three suggestions…

  • Ask questions
  • Put on a different pair of glasses
  • Have faith

And, there’s another piece of advice that a visionary that I worked with told me once which was one of his attributions of success.

Surround yourself with smart people

I think we should all learn that we just might be that smart person that they want with them. If we use Joel’s advice, you just might be able to make them better.


Perseverance, struggle and a little grit: How running a 53km race relates to Education

Seriously? 53km?

Even biking that distance is an edurance. Jonathan So did this race and it took him 06:16:49.

The numbers and the distance just blow me away.

So, what does it mean in education? I like his quote

if we want our students to _____ than we need to show it.

He shows endurance, grit, partnerships, and all those things that we value in education. What a great testimonial about how he undertakes these things in personally.

It would take a brave student to refuse to do a lap of the track or gym in Mr. So’s classroom after this.

And that smile!


Do We Need A Scaffolded Approach To Bullying?

Coming from an educator in Hamilton, Aviva Dunsiger, served to put a great deal of context to her thoughts about bullying, particularly at this time.

On the eve of a bullying prevention assembly, she’s musing about ways to get a suitable message across. It’s NOT an easy topic. If it was, we would have solutions in place already.

Maybe this message is a utopian ideal. Maybe it won’t work in every grade. I wonder though if there needs to be a scaffolded approach to bullying. Would a book like this one be a good start in kindergarten, and what might the impact be as the kids progress along the grades?

I’d love to see a Language teacher or a teacher-librarian take a read of Aviva’s post and provide a continuum of books for students to help the cause.

While we may not have the ultimate answer, I love the fact that teachers are thinking, talking, and through this blog post, advocating for the cause.


New Journeys

This blog post, from Lisa Munro, gives us an insight into education that we don’t always see. She’s a Superintendent of Education and blogging. As she notes:

I have hesitated to blog too much in this system role because, misguided or not, I sometimes feel people expect me to be the expert and that is not a great feeling.  If you have ever blogged you know there is a certain vulnerability in putting your ideas into a public space; a vulnerability and a commitment.

There absolutely is a vulnerability when you’re blogging. It’s something that I think that we all come to wrestle with the concept periodically. In Lisa’s case, she’s only two months into this new role so can be justified to be feeling that way a bit.

I can’t help though, but think that there’s real value in pairing this post with Joel’s post above. Nobody is in the position of being the all-knowing expert. But you can surround yourself with supportive and wise people and what better platform than a blog to make this happen?

Lisa does invite you to converse with her via blog and Twitter. Why not take her up on that?


So, absolutely, there is another wonderful collection of blog post for this week. Please do take the opportunity to read their thoughts in their entirety.

Then, make sure you follow them on Twitter.

  • @TCHevolution
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @misterwashburn
  • @jprofnb
  • @MrSoClassroom
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaMunro11

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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