This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Michael Frankfort joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host for the voicEd Radio show on Wednesday morning. It lent to a great conversation about the five blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that we featured. Read on to see them and a couple more bonus posts.


Family Reunion

Don’t we all have family reunion stories tucked away in our memories? I remember the first time I took my wife to ours and her comment on the way home. “It’s hard to imagine that you’re all related.”

On my mother’s side, it was a big summer event, more often than not landing on my birthday but nobody brought presents. We did bring millions of butter tarts though and had to be there pre-6:00 so that Dad could go to the golfing tournament and the rest of us slept in the car until people started to arrive at 9 or so. Dad’s family reunion was a big gathering just before Christmas which changes the entire mindset. Instead of being outside and enjoying the weather, we’d rent a hall and go inside to avoid the weather.

Despite all that, we were within a couple of hours driving to get to the events. I can’t imagine doing what Amanda did (read the post) just to get there. Then, there’s the whole mixture of her family and I’ll bet that everyone has stories about their own personal mixtures. Her family has mine beat.

I loved the post and it made me think of faces and names from reunions so long ago and how so many of them are no longer around. Despite it being such a lovely story, it was a great reminder to remember the current moments because they are so special.

But, 18 people in one house for a week? You’re a strong woman, Amanda.


Fighting Disinformation

In the beginning, disinformation was easy to spot and actually kind of fun to explore. One of the more famous ones that I remember was the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Over the years though, the concept of the fake website has skyrocketed and taken off in a very sad direction.

We’re now in a time and era where everyone with an internet connection and the desire can put up a website for whatever the cause. We have so many of them, some consistent with our beliefs and others not so much. Some, after doing a bit of digging, can be debunked.

The ones that I personally have trouble with are those who have a dissenting opinion and do their best to create a plausible story from their perspective. Finding the truth used to be so simple; just go to the library and grab the encyclopedia. Not so anymore.

Then, throw into the mix the concept of a second or third language learner doing their best to research. If we as English First Language people have problems at time, imagine their situation.

Jennifer shares some great thoughts on the topic and the bottom is a wonderful collection of resources that can be used to help determine if something is truthful or not.


Reflections on “Sometimes it is enough to look back to see the Future clearly” presentation by Dr. Georg Marschnig

I’m really enjoying Paul’s doctoral work and how he’s openly sharing his work and his research. This is a very personal post about his own thinking. He organizes things and discusses each.

  • How do schools frame notions of citizenship;
  • What kind of relationships in schools and in educational decision-making processes foster real learning;
  • How do power structures affect learning? – Paul’s question
  • How were race, class, gender differences framed in the event?
  • What connections can you draw with readings, lectures, and discussions we have held in the class?
  • What creative ideas or astute analysis about education did you encounter in the event?

I enjoyed reading all the sections but the section about power structures affecting learning was a real thought generator for me. Like you, I grew up in a school environment where the teacher was always right. My parents came to their defense all the time when I’d challenge facts or other things. Later on, I came to realize that it was the game of school and you had to play by the rules. It sure made the day easier to handle.

Of course, like all things, we’ve got better at it all and we’ll continue to get better. On a personal level, I’ve made a note to learn more about “Youth Participatory Action Research.”


Slice of (Experential) Life

I’ve mentioned it many times; they don’t pay teachers of our youngest students enough. This blog post will have you laughing, smiling, and being thankful that you don’t teach the youngest. Or, if you do, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement throughout this post.

It was a 20-minute bus ride to the field trip location. For some of the students, it might have been a three-day road trip as they got out and looked around and remarked that they were in a different world!

Now, before I get too righteous, I enjoy community dog walks and there are always new things to see and explore even though I’ve lived here for 45 years.

I will be adamant though; we still have the same water tower.


Experience Sustainability

Our guest on Wednesday had written and shared this blog post to the STAO blog.

It was about a Webinar that Michael had co-delivered with Teresa Huang about organizing an eco-fair at your school. The post comes with appropriate resources to replicate the same activity at your school.

The concept is unlike the traditional science fair with its judging and ribbons that I remember. This was about doing good by doing good. (one of my dad’s favourite expressions that I’ve always tried to keep in mind) Today’s students can be more socially aware and responsible and this post honours that.

Look for links to replay the webinar and a slide deck packed full of ideas, resources, and connections to the Ontario Science & Technology and other subject areas Curriculum.


Our month in Bordeaux, France (June 2022 –FINAL month!)

There’s probably a fine line between being a stalker and an internet friend.

I’ve been following Sylvia’s adventure as she’s headed to Europe and shares so many pictures and stories on social media. Does living vicariously equal stalking? <grin>

I can’t imagine how long it took Sylvia to assemble this piece. There are so many pictures and she uses her technical skills to provide a mapping of routes for us.

Food, wine, and the biggest croissants I’ve ever seen are highlights. It really does look like it was a spectacular event for her.

Don’t read and look at the images on an empty stomach!


Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 8th, 2022

Finally, David always has lots of cool mathematics things in his weekly post. This week, he shared a couple of wonderful visuals.


Thanks to all of the above for sharing their learning and thinking. Regular readers know the routine – read these posts and follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Jennifer Hutchison – @TESLOntario
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Michael Frankfort – @mfrank_76
  • Sylvia Duckworth – @sylviaduckworth
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Sit back and enjoy some writing from great Ontario Edubloggers.


Becoming a Better Person for Others: Faith into Action

I really appreciate when bloggers are so open and transparent. In this case, Rolland shows the best of this. He takes a look at his role as re-engagement teacher and marries it to his understanding of social justice.

In particular, he identifies four things in his role.

  1. Dignity of the Human Person
  2. Call to Family, Community, and Participation
  3. Rights and Responsibilities
  4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

With each of these, he analyses making connections to his job and to education. Then, for each he provides a next step for himself. I couldn’t help but think that blogging about it and making it public really makes himself accountable for these changes to his approach.

The word “brave” kept running through my mind as I was reading.


Learning from Each Other — Destreaming Across Ontario: Waterloo District School Board

This is another very brave and open post about learning and planning for action. Alexandra thinks that there are three things that will make destreaming effective.

  1. Smaller class sizes to support students
  2. Equipping teachers and administrators with the correct tools and professional development
  3. task force to “inform the design, implementation and monitoring of de-streaming

Ultimately, any success will result from the practice and acceptance of classroom teachers. After the past two years, it’s going to take a great deal of effort to do the necessary learning and then implementation of new approaches.

Alexandra shares her notes and thoughts from a Google Meet conducted by Jill Hicknell and Jillian Waters and some reading to support their thoughts. A big takeaway is a Google Resource site and a Twitter handle to follow.

Check it out.


New Twitter Communities: Will this better our Twitter experience?

Do you ever have one of those moments where you’re thinking something but you keep it to yourself and it’s only when someone else notes it that you realize you’re not alone?

I had that moment as I read Jennifer’s post. There are times these days when I feel like I should be getting more from my Twitter community than I am. It was somehow comforting to note that she felt the same way.

Lately, I have been a little dissatisfied with my Twitter feed to be honest. Unless someone tags me, I feel like I have been missing out of many of the powerful voices I once had access to. And whereas I felt like my own voice reached many before, I feel like unless I tag people, they rarely see my tweets either.

At about the same time that I started to feel this way, Twitter rolled out the concept of Communities. I took a look and felt it was too much like the Twitter lists that I’ve been curating. But, again, Jennifer takes it a bit further and offers a way that we may fall back in love with Twitter again.

Nicely done, Jennifer.


Self-Reg Havens

The big takeaway for me from Susan’s post was that her concept of a haven isn’t necessarily

 just a location

For the longest time, a safe haven for me was a place to think and I guess I’d always put it in personal terms as a location. With a busy life, often the thinking was done in my car commuting to and from work.

The post is a look at what that haven just might be and Susan takes us to these attributes

  1. Safe
  2. Rooted
  3. Balanced
  4. Capable
  5. Trusted

If nothing else, it will give you lots to think about.


OBSERVATION IS A NEW REFLECTION!

From Wayne’s World…

I think that most of us did our quality observation as student teachers having placement with an experienced teacher. I don’t know about you but it was one of the first times that I thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. Thankfully, I persevered.

It shouldn’t stop there and Setareh talks about observing a colleague in their teaching. I did that a couple of times and I think that you get a new lens when you are in the profession. Setareh talks about observing a very extroverted teacher, knowing that that would be a real challenge and maybe an impossibility.

Still, there are lots of things to learn and we should never stop.


Coding Fireworks!

From the Fair Chance Learning blog, Barb offers a project (along with a solution) for creating a program that will emulate fireworks on a Micro:Bit.

Now, if you’ve already done something like this for Victoria day, you might want to move along.

Or, how about setting off some fireworks to celebrate the end of the school year?


Importance of Context and Concrete Manipulatives From Kindergarten Through Grade 12

Kyle shares a wealth of information here that’s applicable to all grade levels.

I like his start and confession. We all had it. When we started teaching, we wanted to be copies of the very best teacher that we ever had. If you’re honest, you’ll realize that their classroom often doesn’t resemble the successful rooms we have today. We’ve learned so much about effective teaching and learning and it’s just not the same.

This is a long resource but well worth the read and thinking. We want the best for everyone after all.


Please take some time to enjoy these posts and then follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Alexandra Woods – @XanWoods
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Susan Hopkins – @susanhopkins5
  • Barb Seaton – @barb_seaton
  • Fair Chance Learning – @FCLEdu
  • Kyle Pearce – @mathletepearce 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs Show

Coding in Ontario


If case you hadn’t been aware of the link to the Mathematics Curriculum dealing with coding, it was reinforced yesterday with changes to the Science and Technology Curriculum.

Mathematics – New math curriculum for Grades 1-8
Science and Technology – Key Changes – Science and Technology, Grades 1–8 (2022)

As with most curriculum documents, it’s a look from 10 000 metres as to what should be taught. The actual details will become apparent as writing teams hunker down with the task of making things implementable in Ontario schools this fall.

I can’t help but think about my own journey. I took programming with Mr. Cook in an “experimental course” for a couple of years at secondary school, studied Mathematics and Computer Science at University, and made Data Programming and Computer Studies as teachable options after a year at a Faculty of Education.

Photo by Roozbeh Eslami on Unsplash

As I reflect on my path, it really seems to be old school. Well, maybe traditional school. The skill set though can easily be morphed into something that’s usable today. I don’t regret the path that I took at all. Far beyond the actual skill set, it has introduced me to educators with similar passions and that’s always inspirational.

I’ve always had the ability to see the importance of learning to write instructions to make some object do something for me. It started pretty simply with computer cards to the way things are done today with computers, tablets, phones, televisions, kitchen appliances, personal assistants, my car, and the list just keeps on going.

I like to think that I took to it well and that I did my best to pass along my passion to students that I had the honour of teaching. That passion that was instilled by Mr. Cook remains with me today.

Now, we’re going to have a school system that will make this available to students starting at Grade 1. A number of progressive educators have already gone this route and brought that sort of thing into their classrooms for some time now. Some have done it in a traditional manner programming a computer; others have encouraged principals to buy robotic devices or have made the purchase themselves. They saw the importance of students being in control of a device instead of the other way around.

I’ll confess; for the longest of times, I was focused on the what and how it was good for me. It was only later in my life that I really tried to understand the why and why it was good for kids immersing myself in the works of Seymour Papert. I’ve often wondered if I’d spent time with Papert’s work first, if I would have been even more passionate about it for kids.

I’m sure that there will be a lot of different thoughts about this new initiative and how the new strand is added to the Science and Technology curriculum without removing anything else. I can’t believe that there would be anyone who would argue against the concept; just about how long it took us to actually get here.

If there’s ever a need to rationalize this, you need to read Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program or Be Programmed. There’s also a free study guide.

The immediate pressure will be on subject associations to step up and develop appropriate learning materials and resources to make this a success.

And it needs to be a success. To be anything else fails our kids.

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 https://www.cybertitan.ca/. 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

Computer Science Education Week


CSEdWeek is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field.

This is an annual “week” to help promote the study of Computer Science in education. The original goal was to inspire educators and systems to incorporate more Computer Science or at least Computational Thinking into the curriculum. It has succeeded in some classrooms, been ignored in others, and yet others do at least some computer sciencey things.

For many education resource websites, it’s a chance to throw out a pile of links to different places around the web where there are activities for students. If you follow them, they typically end up back at one or more of these sites.


CDEdWeek

The rationale for why CS Education Week exists and shares ideas for advocacy. It’s an annual read for me to revisit the history of the initiative and the ultimate goal. You’re not going to make anyone a Computer Scientist in a week as it takes a lifetime of work to continue to realize how little you know and how much we appreciate the efforts of those who have stayed the course and provided us with this discipline.

You’ve got to start them somewhere. For educators, there are learning and advocacy events for every day in the week.

Code.org

At the Code.org website, you’re going to probably want to end up on the “Introducing CS Connections” page. Here, you’ll find some great resources and activities specifically for the classroom and designed to fit into the notion of success after a little bit of work and effort.

It’s always humbling to see the activities and work my way through them. I would have written my first program in Fortran in Grade 11 and I’m sure that it’s some sort of ancient “Hello World” type of thing. After seeing where my career went, I do kind of wish that I’d held on to it!

CSTeachers

The Computer Science Teachers Association has a weeklong set of learning opportunities for educators. It’s based in Chicago so make sure that you use the UTC time to attend.

fair chance learning

In Ontario, the folks at fair chance learning have a learning opportunity that is really unique. You’ll be going virtual…

“Each experience includes a 1-hour virtual tour of an Amazon Fulfillment centre, and a 30 minute post-tour classroom visit with FCL to talk careers, technology and innovation! Students will discover how algorithms, machine learning, and more power our fulfillment process and gain workplace exposure.”

Make sure that you download the resource and student workbook.


Wherever you turn for resources, it’s a great opportunity to be onside with a good initiative and to do something new or different with your students and exposed them to new opportunities. And, hopefully, Computer Science activities end up having a permanent place in your classroom.

What’s happening in your classroom this week?