This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I hope that everyone has recovered from the snow storm and done so safely. My right shoulder is killing me; this was the heaviest snow I think I’ve ever shoveled. But, you’re here to read great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers so here goes…


Wouldn’t you be …?

Yes, I certainly would be and I suspect that we all would.

Sheila is following the work of Dr. Naomi Fisher and contemplated an image that was posted about a mother’s anxiety about sending kids to school.

Sheila no longer has children in the Ontario school system but that doesn’t excuse her for having some concerns about kids and what they’re dealing with at school. Looking forward, there may well be grandchildren, Sheila!

I found the post pretty serious and timely as it lead nicely into Bell Let’s Talk Day. Stephen and I had a nice chat about it on the show Wednesday morning.

Will we ever get it right? Probably not because the world and society continues to change but we all need to keep our eyes open and speak out when appropriate. Sometimes, it goes unseen by those who could actually do something about it.

It always seems that we’re playing catch up.


Teachers, YOU ROCK!

I often wonder if Kelly knows that I write about the great content she shares since she doesn’t appear to have a Twitter handle.

Teaching is an interesting profession. Not everyone could do it; not everyone wants to do it. If you think you just check in at 8:30 and check out at 2:30, you better keep on moving. The job is much more than that and requires some serious commitment, both in time, dedication, empathy, and emotion.

I was sorry to read about the challenges she had in her placements – I was the exact opposite and was paired with incredibly supportive and inspirational teachers and environments. My only challenge was commuting in the GTA. There’s another layer to add onto the level of stress.

I’m glad that she’s happy with her decision to land in this profession.

More people should blog or let the world know of their great decision.

Kelly’s post would be a great inspiration.


Daily Math Talks with Young Children

I’m old enough to know the term arithmetic.

The mathematician in me just loves this post.

I still remember a university professor who talked to us about how some baseball players become good at their job. “Practice, Practice, Practice”. How do students get good at mathematics? “They do the odd numbered questions on page 37 and then go outside and play baseball.” What if they could experience the joy of mathematics?

That’s not how it works in Deanna’s class. Absolutely, they “do” mathematics, whatever that means but they actively talk about it. In the post, she describes how the students sit and talk inspired by her. Here’s an example

From mrsmclennan.blogspot.com

I’m just inspired by her super neat printing! Numeracy is important but it shows up in many different ways in this example. I can just picture myself sitting on the floor eating this up.

This is an insightful post and composed of a lot of pictures of chart paper and activities.

I’ll bet that she has a computer and access to a data projector but there’s something extra special about hand written content like this.


Growing Age Gap

As I said in the promotion for the voicEd Radio show, the older you get, the older you get.

It’s a fact of life.

Matthew is starting to realize this.

Every September he welcomes kids of a certain age into his class. They’re always the same age. However, he’s just another year older.

And that is the realization that teaching suspends time. Halfway. I mean, only one side.
– Matthew Morris

I wish I could offer you a rap version of this, Matthew. But, I grew old. Rod Stewart offers some advice.


Leading by Example or What’s Good for the Goose…

Last week, I attended my wife’s aunt’s funeral.

If there ever was a setting where you have collection of people who might be at risk of getting Covid, this has to be it. Lots of elderly friends paying last respects in a small location and who knows what kind of ventilation there was. I’ll give credit to the funeral home; they had masks beside the hand sanitizer. We brought our own. I can tell you that we were definitely in the minority wearing it though.

But, wait! There’s another setting – schools.

Marie is the voice of safety and yet the closest to ensuring that everyone is safe is this sign.

From apuffofabsurdity.blogspot.com

If you follow the Kitchener news (I do and it drives my daughter nuts), there isn’t agreement there any more than there is anywhere else. Folks, Covid is not over. We’re just not reporting about it.

Marie takes a look at the set of rules at the Davos World Economic Forum where there is a three page document outlining Covid rules and regulations. That doesn’t play out the same way in her schools.

We seem to be all over the map on this. How will we ever kick it?


#LearningInTheLoo: Feedback w/ Voice Notes feat. @DeannaToxopeus

This was a little different from the regular things from Laura’s blog.

It’s a “Learning in the Loo” created by Deanna. A guest blogger!

Here’s a snippet.

Of course, you’ll have to click through to get the whole document!


But…I Just Want Checkmarks

I’ll just leave this here. I did read her post and tagged it for this post.

Sadly, the site seems to be down. Maybe it will come back with time. Daphne is at FETC so undoubtedly busy doing something else.


Please find some time today or on the weekend to click through and enjoy these blog posts.

Drop off a comment if you’re inspired.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Daphne McMenemy – @McMenemyTweets

This is a regular Friday morning post around here, celebrating the best in Ontario blogging. You can find all of the past posts here.

Advertisement

Designing a new logo


This article caught my eye this morning.

How to use Canva’s text-to-image generator

I wondered if my beloved Minnesota Vikings might need a new logo. Probably not; there’d be another uproad.

But, my old employer might be interested.

Stuff hit the fan around here recently as a repost was presented to the board about school names, mascots, and logos.

Windsor-Essex public school board to consider renaming schools, changing mascots

We see this pop up now and again as districts take a look at what is in place. My old secondary school changed its logo. I totally agree with the decision that was made. Even when we were going to school a number of us weren’t comfortable with its branding.

Queen Victoria Public School was one of the schools with a logo that was reported as offensive. Maybe if the Minnesota Vikings were more like the description, they would still be playing.

I know the gentleman who designed the logos. He did what he was instructed to and the Queen Victoria logo certainly resembles Minnesota’s.

Now, he was an artist. The idea of typing a description and having a program generate an image for me was intriguing.

For laughs, I worked my way through the procedure in the Canva article above and asked for the artificial intelligence built into to it to create for me four “modern Vikings logos”. This is what came back.

I gave it a second shot with “A peaceful Vikings Logo”.

The results were definitely different.

You can go on and on asking Canva and TextToImage to draw various pictures, images, or sketches. Once you find one that you like, you just bring it into the regular Canva editing area and personalize it.

It’s a powerful tool and like all Artificial Intelligence, you have to be aware of GIGO. (Garbage In, Garbage Out)

Yes, I’m still impressed and will be filing this under tools that I might want to use. Until now, I had to rely on my own limited abilities. I now have an option.

How about you? Could you find something like this useful?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There was no voicEd Radio show this week. Those that know, know why.

That didn’t stop the curation of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers though. Read on!


How to help older students learn how to read:

I found this interesting as it combines the work of a great thinker (Deborah) and ChatGPT to address this topic. My first thoughts when I read the title was:

  • how could this possibly happen that someone slips through the system and
  • how big is this problem

I found the discussion really interesting and the two of them discussed

  • Explicit instruction
  • Guided reading
  • Reading aloud
  • Independent reading
  • Collaborative reading
  • Vocabulary instruction
  • Assisting with text decoding
  • Promoting a love of reading

The descriptions above really didn’t provide new information for me; your mileage may vary.

The discussion gets deeper with the research from The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. There are some ideas to dig into there.

The post is presented so you don’t really know who is writing it – Deborah or ChatGPT but I liked her approach. Sure, you could sit back and let ChatGPT write the post but I liked her use of the topic and the tool to help her with the writing.

This is one of the best, practical leading by example posts that I’ve seen to date. If she hadn’t been open and honest about it, you’d never know that it was a partnership.


#OneWord2023

A post NOT from Mark as he counts down the top 500 songs. It was a nice and interesting diversion.

In the past, he’s used the one words Revitalize, Mindfulness, Cultivate, Persist, Discomfort, Ameliorate & Appreciate.

This year, he has chosen Vitality and has been very open about how he plans to address it. I got tired and hungry just reading them!

Not only is he open about his plans but he shares a lesson that he uses with students to encourage each of them to find their own one word. We’ve all seen the concept of SMART goals – this is his spin on how to get students to set meaningful goals.


Slice of (21st Century) Life

Lisa’s post hit a little too close to home for me.

I’ve had a number of dear friends and colleagues pass or fall incredibly ill recently. I’ll admit that I got a call from a dear friend notifying me of another dear friend last night while in the park walking the dog. I did not take the news well.

In this post, Lisa shares her story that had her “transported 40 years into the past”. Lisa does give us a personal insight into her thoughts and the process of a virtual funeral. Likewise, I had to attend a virtual funeral of a best friend from high school and room mate from university. Funerals are hard at the best of times but when you do it virtually, I find it even worse. At a regular funeral, there is an opportunity to gather with family and friends. At the end of a virtual funeral, there’s just nothing. It just stops.

She closes philosophically about virtual funerals but it’s just not the same and surely there’s got to be a better way to handle them.

In the meantime, I’m sending you a big hug, Lisa.


The Best way to start the New Year with your class!

I suspect that everyone was expecting the return to face to face teaching as being an opportunity for teachers and students to shed the awfulness of Covid and get back to being their best in a classroom situation.

I’m hearing stories all over the place about how that hasn’t happened.

A couple of years ago, Amy had created this product for sale through her personal store and has updated it for 2022 and the new reality.

If you’re interested in a little support about hoe to “Be Your Best Self Now”, this might just be what you’re looking for.


Top Gun: Maverick and Authentic School Leadership

I had to smile a bit as I write this.

I almost didn’t read to the end of this post because it read like a movie review. But, I’m glad that I did stick because the concept of school leadership does come up!

As I think about it, I can think of some who became school leaders and it was all about them. It seemed that getting that leadership role was the ultimate goal.

Then I think of so many who became school leaders and did it well. People would apply to change schools to have this person for a leader. Or, if they were leading a workshop, their sessions were always full and a waiting list. The others, not so much.

A common theme among educators is that 2023 is a year like no other. Strong leadership is needed everywhere if everyone is going to succeed. If you see yourself as a leader or you aspire to be a leader, this is a beautiful read that will make you feel good and will inspire you to do better.


What an interesting collection this week. I loved reading them all and they all inspired various emotions in me. Please click through and see how you feel.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Deborah McCallum @Bigideasinedu
  • Mark Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Anthony Perrotta – @aperrottatweets

This is a regular Friday post on doug — off the record. You can check them all out here.

Don’t get fooled


It’s hard to get into serious news reading with all the ChatGPT stories in my newsfeed every morning. I keep thinking I need to filter it out but it’s somewhat interesting with all the different takes on it. I mainly will click through and read something that looks like it’s advise for education and there’s no shortage of that, for sure. Heck, I even wrote a post of my own here. I was just speculating and giving my two cents.

This morning though, this one really caught my eye.

Don’t Get Fooled Into Paying $7.99 a Week for ChatGPT (Which Is Free)

I guess when there’s an opportunity, there are people ready to go for it.

Now, my first thought when reading the article was that it was on the Apple system and I had to smile because most things there cost money. Sometimes, a lot of money. Cheapskate me did bring my open-source mentality to my MacBook Pro and so I don’t have many paid apps installed there although I’m sure that I paid for the Apple ones with the price of the computer.

Now, lest I come across as too smug, I did take a peak into the Windows Store and found that this platform isn’t immune to opportunities to spend money.

As my friend Bill would say, there are Ferengi opportunities everywhere. Jumping ahead of the game for an application to interface to a free resource that is still in Beta? The people behind this did a nice job of promoting it in the link. It looks just like any other application in the store.

Apparently, there are lots to pick your way through.

In the cloud of excitement surrounding ChatGPT, some shifty actors have sought to cash in. An avalanche of unverified mobile apps claiming to be ChatGPT have popped up in both the App Store and Play Store, but none are actually associated with OpenAI.

I wonder – does ChatGPT have an open API that makes these happen and let you jump the queue? I’ll be honest; until I read this story, I hadn’t even considered that concept.

It would be interesting to see screenshots or a movie or two of these things in action.

In the meantime, apparently, OpenAI is working on its own app for iOS.

It does beg the question – if ChatGPT does such a good job of doing things, including writing software, why doesn’t it just write its own iOS app?

In the meantime, a wide-open question – would an application that runs on your phone or tablet outside of a browser be something that you would want? Would you pay money for it?

Hacking


This really makes me angry.

Toronto hospital network issues ‘code grey’ as digital systems go down

While it’s not been confirmed yet, this is the second time that the systems went down and the first time was as a result of hackers wanting money.

Photo by Azamat E on Unsplash

The concept of hacking into computer systems isn’t new. It’s something that network operators need to be aware of and actively work to prevent.

As I reflect on the use of computers in my classroom years ago, I was not immune. There was always the chance that a student was looking over my shoulder as I logged in. If they could read my fingers, they might be able to determine my password. If I happened to be using an administrator or root account, they could have access to everything.

I ended up giving myself a regular user account in addition to the administration account. The account came with a warning that they’d have to stay at lunch and do my marking if they ever got into my regular account. The penalty would be more severe if they gained administrator access. I had great kids anyway so I don’t ever recall anyone taking advantage of my offer.

Later, when I had a close relationship with the IT Department, we had a gentleman whose job it was to make sure that the systems were secure. He even was sent away to take courses on “ethical hacking” and spent considerable time trying to hack into the local systems to see if the security measures that were put in place worked.

Sadly, the idea of hacking into computer systems has gone global with the internet and connections that are available. As a result, if it turns out to be a security breach, it could be someone on Yonge Street, a kid in their basement in Saskatoon, or a person from any country in the world. All that is needed is a connection, the right tools, and a disregard for others’ digital property.

There is a level of ethics that does rise positively as shown in the first attack when a hacking group offered to help restore the systems.

It still makes you wonder though, what kind of person or organization would hack its way into a hospital system?

It’s just infuriating and I hope that they’re caught and prosecuted heavily. I truly hope that no patient was adversely affected

This can’t be condoned by anyone no matter whether you’re wearing a black hat or a white hat.

UPDATE Wednesday morning

It was confirmed that the second incident at the hospital network was not one of hacking. That’s good but still doesn’t excuse the first incident. In other news, reports are the LCBO was hit.