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?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s time for a weekly wander around the Ontario Blogosphere. Normally, the voicEd Radio show would have been broadcast on Wednesday morning but an internet outage in Milton meant that we had to pull the plug. The first five posts below would have been discussed and then, as always, there are a couple of bonus posts.


Teaching Loss and Recovery

I’d been sitting on this monthly post from Elizabeth Lyons because I saw so much in there and really wanted to do it justice. It’s tied to her concept of the monthly word and this time it’s “Recovery”.

In the post, I felt that she beat up on herself due to the back to the classroom/library reality that she’s facing. I don’t take any issue with the points that she raises; I’m sure that she and thousands of other educators feel exactly the same.

It’s the ownership and blame part that has me thinking. I remember going out for practice teaching at the Faculty and the question was raised in class as to why we went to different schools and the answer made sense “it was to see different teaching realities in action”. We were to work in them so that we were better prepared for classrooms of our own. At the end of the first period, I thought I was in big trouble. My associate didn’t “teach” in the traditional front-of-the-room sense – the students worked their way through assignment sheets and that allowed them to go at their own pace. I was so angry when the report said that “he didn’t teach in the traditional way” and I figured that I was going to have to do an extra assignment. In reality, I learned so much by working along with students and watching them work at their own pace.

I’ve had many “the kids are not alright” discussions and that made me think of successful classrooms. As a secondary school teacher with six different classes, it wasn’t ME that set the tone in the class – it was the students. Even teaching the same subject content to two different classes saw a disparity in how I taught and the pace that we went. When I thought it through, it made so much sense and later, as a teacher consultant, I recognized that every school had its unique staff, students, and way of doing things.

In a return to the classroom, we have teachers who have been working in an entirely different way and a variety of ways that students have worked, skipped, ignored, etc. Teachers really are driven by their students and any issues there (and Elizabeth was inspired by Pav Wander’s Learning Loss post) may make a teacher challenge their abilities. It seems to me that it’s normal and should be expected. Nobody was prepared for this.

There is no quick rush to the way that it was that will work in this case. It’s going to be a case of carefully working through things because of the step aside that everyone was forced to take.


Peculiar, Chancy & Fluid

When I saw the title of Tim King’s post, I thought “what the heck is he talking about?” He explains it nicely when he reminds us that he went from teaching English to teaching Technology. The English background will give him a license for befuddling this mathematics, computer science guy.

His inspiration comes from Soulcraft by Matt Crawford. The post does bring across a couple of really important and yet sad points. He notes that his lovely wife attended a Professional Development session and came back with the observation that the administration isn’t walking the walk at this time.

He features a couple of stories will tear your heart out – if you know Tim, you know that he’s passionate about education and I could absolutely see him with an infra-red light or tape measure distancing all the desks in his room to embrace social distancing and the kick in the teeth that he would feel when directed to add more desks to accommodate even more students.

I still struggle with envisioning what 2.5-hour classes look like and keep wondering if the final grade will have an asterisk attached to it. Responsibility is properly attributed to those who are making some of these decisions.

This is a very sobering post from Tim and I would encourage you to read through it; I suspect that Tim is speaking for so many educators in the province right now.


My Experience Teaching In The “Hybrid Model”

Tammy Axt is next up with a summary of how life is going after 20 years of experience and it’s no surprise that she defines it as “this was by far the worst model for learning”.

I think it tacks on so nicely to Tim and Alanna’s thoughts about administrators being removed from the classroom and yet making decisions about how they are to run. Clearly, sitting in front of a camera and delivering a 20-minute inspiration talk to a system has all kinds of benefits. Or maybe even doing it in front of a small audience.

But, it doesn’t translate in any sense to a classful of students working in the classroom and a group of students watching in from at home. Particularly, these days, sit ‘n git is fading away in the rearview mirror. Active learning experiences and immediate feedback have proven to be the best piece of technology in your arsenal.

It’s a sad post as Tammy goes through and explains in the first person exactly what it means and how it works or doesn’t work. It’s an emotionally difficult post to read, I found.


10 Math Concepts that Children Learn from Puddle Play

I love that Deanna McLennan is back at her keyboard and sharing her thoughts. Who doesn’t like a good inspirational post about mathematics?

It’s the notion of “play” that I think could apply to all classrooms. I know that, teaching computer science, that there were the academic requirements. But the students that rode to the top of that elevator and wanted more just “played” around with code wondering if they could do this or that without being specifically instructed to do so.

In this post, Deanna shares her thoughts about learning mathematics through play and puddles and gives some great discussions and pictures to support her premise.

  • Patterning
  • Opposites
  • Temperature
  • Measurement
  • Cause and effect
  • Comparison
  • STEAM
  • Counting
  • Reflection
  • Area and perimeter

Finding A Pair of Socks in the Dark: Recreational Mathematics and Using the Pigeonhole Principle with Young Children

If you’ve ever studied mathematics and probability, you’ll have done this but I’ll bet that you’ve never done it with socks.

If you’re like me, you’ve done it with a bag and black and white balls. Go deep here or read on to Matthew Oldridge’s experiment with socks in a closet in the dark.

There are 20 black socks, and 20 white socks in a drawer. If I get up and get dressed in the dark, to avoid waking my family, how many socks must I pick out of the drawer, to be sure I have a pair?

There’s a simple knee-jerk answer to the question and you’re probably wrong if you chose it.

l love Matthew’s discussion and analysis. It’s a fun activity to introduce the concept of probability.

It also made me appreciate my mother who made my brother and me tuck our socks together and fold them after they came off the clothesline. Our socks were always available in pairs!


Which One Doesn’t Belong? (WODB)

Melissa Turnbull apparently makes great use of the images in the https://mathbeforebed.com website. And why not? I clicked the link to make sure that it was still active (it was) and immediately found my way down a sinkhole of great activities.

In Melissa’s kindergarten classroom, she uses the website and an activity to get her student’s minds on thinking and mathematics before the actual lesson. In the example given here, she’ll prompt with an image and the students determine which one doesn’t belong and she’s prepared to take any answer with a good explanation showing a great deal of thinking.

The activities are nicely fleshed out in the post

  • WODB shows students that there are multiple ways of solving problems 
  • There are multiple entry points
  • WODB promotes mathematical thinking and the use of mathematical language 
  • WODB can be used in any grade level 

Reading this post made me loop back to Elizabeth’s post above as a way to engage students and get them thinking to start the learning in our new reality.


What Are Your “Scaling The Mountain” Moments?

Aviva Dunsiger is afraid of heights so I guess a field trip to the CN Tower is not in the cards for her students. Apparently, she shares this fear openly with her students and they took advantage of the opportunity.

In the post, she shares her “mini-mountain” in the playground. It doesn’t look too difficult to me but apparently, it’s a challenge for her. The other challenge was for her kids to get her to suck it up and climb the hill with them. From the picture, it appears that the word “mountain” is used pretty liberally!

The mountain climb might seem like a small one for many, but for me, it was a big deal and our students know that. 

When I think of the Hamilton area and mountains, I think of that waterfall on the 403. But, it was her mountain to climb and the kids got her to do it. Kudos to them.

To provide you with perspective as to the height of the mountain.

As a result, Aviva is interested in your thoughts about mountains that you might need to climb and how to show vulnerability to students.

My mountain, and I never climbed it, was in my first year of teaching. It probably was more of a line in the sand but crossing it seemed to make it mountainous. My Grade 13 students were only a few years younger than me and some were of drinking age. I was invited to go out with them to one of their dad’s bars before a football game or prom or something. It was a mountain that I chose not to climb. All I could see was having to call it a career ending move. The sad thing was that it didn’t happen just once. There were a number of times that they would gather there and I always seemed to get invited and had to decline.


Please take a moment to click through and enjoy all these terrific posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Matthew Oldridge – @matthewoldridge
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca