New insights


Ontario to launch enhanced COVID-19 data page

Ontarians are now promised to be able to see the same data that those in Toronto use to make decisions for the province. When you head over to the COVID page on the Ontario website, you have access to just an overload of information. There’s just so much that you can lose yourself in the information if you wish. (and I did)

The thing that caught my interest was the ability to compare the numbers from your health unit with up to five others throughout the province. I decided to check it out and see where we stand compared to others.

Now, those figures are complete totals. All things being equal, you would expect that Toronto Public Health would lead the pack. There is an option to get a look at numbers per 100 000 population.

The totals are also available for plotting over time

There is no legend here but when you mouse over the graph, the totals for that particular day pop up. The colours are consistent throughout. So, I could see the spike in little ol’ Windsor-Essex County that caused us to remain in Stage 2 over the summer for a bit.

This is just the tip of the data iceberg. Keep on scrolling down for more information and details. All of the data is available for download as images or as .CSV files. I couldn’t help but think of mathematics or computer science classes where you might be interested in real, relevant data for analysis. It doesn’t get much more relevant than this.

Back to Stage 2, apparently that’s all going to change to a new classification for levels of severity.

  • Lockdown:
  • Red-Control:
  • Orange-Restrict:
  • Yellow-Protect:
  • Green-Prevent:

This will kick in on November 7.

A description of each can be found here:

Ontario unveils new system for COVID-19 shutdowns. Here’s how it will work

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As I indicated earlier this week, this Wednesday didn’t have the regular radio show / podcast on voicEd Radio. I got bumped by some principal thing. So, this is the only opportunity to find out what I’ve been reading from Ontario Edubloggers.


6 FREE Resources for Anywhere Learning

Jennifer Casa-Todd leads off this week with some resources for people to use that hopefully will help out no matter what your return to school looks like. Her list includes:

  • Google Resources
  • Microsoft
  • Eduprotocols
  • Hybrid Teacher Survival Guide
  • A Digital Librarian’s Survival Guide
  • OISE Learning Webinars

Some may be obvious and some might provide some insights that you may have not seen before.

I suppose the Google thing might be in the “obvious” category, but the big takeaway should be following the @GEGOntario folks. Jennifer indicates that there’s a panel in the planning to help teachers.


Do You Want to Go Back?

What a bizarre concept!

A leader in a school district in Ontario asking a student if they want to go back and on what terms. That was the case for Sue Dunlop and she was surprised at the answer her niece gave her.

Then, Sue turns to the reality that not all students are the same and not all come from the same background and not all have the same wishes. It brings her to ask some interesting questions.

  • Who benefits from the way we’ve been doing things?
  • How can the voices of all students be amplified?
  • What does it mean to use an anti-racist lens when working on early reading and progress towards graduation?

Much talk has been made about the return to school building as a return to a live pre-COVID. Those that wish for this are going to be disappointed, at least in the short term

As Sue notes, the status quo isn’t good enough.

I hope that this philosophy is ringing in the ears of all educators and educational leaders.


ADVENTURES IN SUMMER SCHOOL

From the TESL Blog, an interesting look at summer school this summer written by Svjetlana Vrbanic. It wasn’t a year off. It wasn’t life as we know it. But, apparently, it was quite an adventure.

Of course, it’s different. I think back to my own summer school experience – it was for additional qualifications. It was like regular school, only hotter and I was increasingly aware that there was a lot else going on while I was in class. Then, there was the commute to London and back.

I found this quite interesting. Obviously, the students wouldn’t be in a single place so it was learning online. And they didn’t have to commute. Zoom was the answer. But still, the adventure continues and I suspect that many can sympathize with the challenges.

  • Test-time Technical Difficulties
  • Student as Host (whoops)
  • Mystery Students

Where do I start?!

So, here’s the thing about people that like and enjoy mathematics. They want to share their passion and interests with others. Such is the message that comes through in the post from Melissa D, the Dean of Math!

So, she talks about getting the question “where do I start?”

In the post, she describes an activity that promotes a whole bunch of Cs

 classroom culture of connection, collaboration, conjecture and community

I like the activity and I like how she describes how it could work to create that desired culture.

If you’re in search of inspiration, this is worth checking out.


How Are You Finding Control?

I was drawn to Aviva Dunsiger’s post by the word “control”. In education, it could mean so many different things. I wondered what her take would be.

The post is a really big picture look at her and her teaching partner’s professional life. She takes on the word “play” in the post because it may well one of the most misunderstood words in education. Especially, if you have embraced it in your classroom.

She gives a bit of reflection about what control in her classroom means. My wonder is it truly a loss of control or a more strategic way of handling things? I’ve had this discussion with many early years teachers as they address it in both French and English. It’s a humbling conversation for someone coming from secondary school.

Right now, every educator has lost all kinds of control. Some that come to mind:

  • something as simple as being able to go to the school and set up a classroom
  • what type of schedule will be run in the province, in your school
  • what is mathematics going to look like?
  • will the students play nicely by the new COVID rules?
  • how many students will actually show up face to face?

I totally understand her message. A wise person, one of my superintendents, advised me to let go of those things that I can’t control and take charge of what I can. It’s been good advice that has stuck with me.

I feel for Aviva who is so concerned about a policy directive from the board office about social media that may well change so many things that she’s been a leader in.


Legacy Pedagogy Baggage

OK, so Matthew Morris is making me feel badly with this one. While I wasn’t an A+ student in all subject areas, I did do reasonably well in school. In elementary school, I was always in a split-grade classroom because supposedly we were motivated self-starters.

In fact, when I think about it, being in that split-grade classroom may well have helped me understand the educational system better. I think I learned the “game” of education and that the road to success was easier if you just played by the rules.

It only takes a couple of hours in a classroom practice teaching situation to realize that the game book is different for different students. We no longer ask if a student is smart but we ask how they are smart.

As teachers return to another school year, and this will be one like no other, I would suspect that student abilities in various areas will be amplified. I suspect that they’re going to want to hang on to school, teachers, and friends like never before except the concept of hanging on will be different from necessity.

Maybe from necessity, teachers will be willing to throw away some of that old baggage too.


Anticipation and Imagination

Melanie White’s post follows so nicely on the heels of Matthew’s. She closes so powerfully.

The anticipation of teaching that has roots grounded in the individual student experience and identity which is essential to realizing one’s genius. There is a vision that I can anticipate and radically imagine for teaching this year.

Every time I read something from Melanie, I end up walking around and replaying her thoughts in my mind. (usually while walking the dog)

It would be so easy for teachers to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth. The level of uncertainty has never been so high. Melanie did something so good for herself and attended a seminar that “converted my anxiety to anticipation”. You can see her outlook changing in her words as you go through the post.


Even without the voicEd Radio show, this was a powerful collection of reading for me. I hope that you can find time to click through and read them all … and be inspired.

Then, follow them on Twitter

  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Sue Dunlop – @DunlopSue
  • TESLOntario – @TESLOntario
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Melissa D – @Dean_of_math
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio

This post appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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.

Come back a magician


Who’s planning back to school routines already?

<ducking>

OK, then just bookmark this for later.

There’s nothing quite so nice as to be astonishing in the classroom. Here’s a good one and you can finally put the smartphone to good use.

Tell your students to type a three digit number on their phone calculator. You are going to guess each and every one of their numbers.

Tell them to multiply that number by 9191.

They now tell you the last three digits of their calculator’s display.

You somehow, mysteriously, tell them the number they started with!

If you’d like Mathematics to come across as magic!

Details about how it’s done (and a chance to dig into the Mathematics) is located here on Quora. Just make sure that you present it with flourish.

Now, I know that Computer Science teachers are looking at this and saying “This is a wonderful exercise to program a solution for!”

Of course, this is also an opportunity to add flourish into the program too.

Don’t just stop with the top story … read on … there are some other great Mathematics examples to try.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Didn’t we just have a Friday the 13th? But what a beautiful moon! The nice thing about full moons in the winter is that the skies seem so much clearer and the moon so much bigger and crisper.

It’s time to share another week’s worth of reading and posting from around the province from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, some great writing to inspire thinking for you.


It’s a Matter of Relationships

I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.

Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.

I love this quote from the blog post.

“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light.  The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity.  Relationships truly matter.

Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.

I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.

But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?


What do trees have to do with well-being? (Trees Part Two)

A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.

This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.

Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.

I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.


Shoulders of giants

Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.

With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.

And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!

Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!

That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.

The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.

I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.


Hour of Code Is Coming…

Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..

I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?

An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.

If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?

Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.

I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.


My Look At The Holidays: What Are Your Stories?

I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.

This post was different though.

There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.

She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.

You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?


The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.

Bonus Posts

Easy Money

I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)

What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?

Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.

What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.

Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.

But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.

While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.

BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?


The 500 – #452 – John Prine – Debut

This is a cool concept from Marc Hodgkinson. He says

I was inspired by a podcast called The 500 hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian Josh Adam Meyers. His goal, and mine, is to explore Rolling Stone’s 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

What an ambitious project.

What stood out to me from this post was this new (to me, anyway) musician. I read Marc’s post and then headed over to YouTube for more. Wow, when Robert Plant names a favourite song of yours …


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the original posts. There’s some really wonderful reading to be done here.

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

  • @redknine
  • @tmolouba
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @WillGourley
  • @MsALambert
  • @avivaloca
  • @tk1ng
  • @Mr_H_Teacher

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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