Why are we doing this?


It’s a question that every teacher has had to answer way more than once.

Because I told you so

It’s good for you

Both seem logical but they may well have worn thin as those are the answers often given at home as well. Well, at least around here.

It may well be that this question is being asked by parents of students who are doing at least part of their work online. Some, even more than that.

For those using Google products, Google has produced a TechToolKit for parents and made it available here.

In the document, it addresses:

Each of these sections can go a long way toward demystifying all the jargon that can come into play with technology use.

Photo by Niclas Illg on Unsplash

Now, it’s obviously Google-centric and not everyone works in that world or even solely in that world. It seems to me that this is a good model for school districts, schools, or individual teachers to use as they look to further communications between home and school about just what tools are being used to work with students.

There’s even a consolidation at the bottom of the document of a template that could be used in email communication to get the word out.

Does your district or do you communicate clearly in this manner with your parents? Do you have a similar resource to share?

Climate Time Machine


This is a fabulous visualization from NASA. There are many similar resources but what intrigues me is that this is quick and direct and there’s no question about the data as it’s displayed over time.

Find the resource here.

You select your concern – Sea Ice, Sea Level, Carbon Dioxide, or Temperature…

… and then you’re presented with the visualization.

Here is the visualization for world temperature.

The first time through, you’ll probably be tempted to just press play and watch the visualization from beginning to end.

The power though is that there’s a little scrubber bar that lets you control your walk through time. This would allow you to stop at a particular year to discuss in class what was happening at that time.

It’s a quick and clear to use resource.

If you’re looking for more, much more, visit the complete NASA Climate Change and Global Warming site here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs. #twioe It’s cool here but I’ve heard reports of you know what in other places. Stay warm and read some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Living in the age of incivility Part 3 – The Iron Cage that is the school system

This is a rather longish post from Paul McGuire and even longer if you click through and read about “The Cage” and I would encourage that and thank Paul for including it.

As teachers, I think we’re all aware that a school district sets a direction and all teachers are expected to follow those directions. There are consequences for not playing along. I couldn’t help but think about this skit from Monty Python.

On one hand, people are encouraged to be creative but one the other hand, only when it’s within the rules.

As teachers, we always had the ability to contact our federation if we felt that we were treated improperly. Paul’s experience reminds us that principals are not part of any federation and are basically on their own.

In my mind, “The Cage” has become more of a thing with the amalgamation of school districts into super boards. More than ever, it’s easier to manage from the top if everyone follows the dictated rules.

The question should be asked – what type of school system results?


Back to Life, Back to Reality…

When a blog post starts with bad news and then good news and there’s still a great deal to read, it’s hard to predict!

Jen Aston lived with the message that she would be in a portable classroom for the school year. That really isn’t good news. There was a glimpse of sunshine when she was directed not to do too much setup. Because things change. In 2020? Really? <grin>

It sounds like she ended up in a better than expected classroom – a large room in the primary area of the school. That’s good news.

What’s in the rest of the post? It’s an interesting discussion about what’s happening in Mme Aston’s classroom in the various subject areas. If you know Jen, you just know that beekeeping would end up being part of the discussion.

Click through to see how!


Student Virtual Room Tutorial à la Bitmoji Classroom

Larissa Aradj shares with us an idea that she used from earlier this year. She had students design room; not with a drafting tool but in Google Slides.

She includes some pictures of what has been done by her students. They don’t need to maybe draw their own personal room but the room they’d like to have? It’s interesting to explore these images. As you might imagine, if you take a quick look, you might miss a great deal. Take some time, blow up the pictures, and see all the messages that are there.

Since it’s done in Google Slides, it seems to me that there are some interesting additional things that could be done. Make some areas hot spots so that you could open the books on bookshelves or any of the other objects in the room.

I’m also thinking that if this just one big collaborative slidedeck, the teacher could be hiding that Elf on the Shelf within student’s rooms and have them looking for it regularly.


Deciding whether or not to make the switch…

This really is a sign of the times in the fall of 2020. Some students have elected to start the year face to face and others have decided to do it online.

Depending upon the first decision and how it’s going, it should come as no surprise that students may wish to change their mode of learning. No surprises there and the rise in number of COVID people in the province might be forcing a new reality.

To manage this, school districts have set a date by which families must declare how it is that their children will go to school. That date determines the last date that they can switch, at least for now.

Kelly McLaughlin lays out the reality in her district where the date is November 3. To help parents, she’s created a pro and con information resource for them.

Of course, I know just what everyone is thinking – another reorganization of the schools and classrooms.


7 Reasons Why I’ll Miss My 7s

I fell for Diana Maliszewski’s teaser for this post

So I cried at school on Monday and I cried again at school on Friday. Different reasons; apologies to my in-person colleagues who were worried/alarmed at 1st. (Consider this a “teaser trailer” for this Monday’s blog post.)

— Diana Maliszewski (@MzMollyTL) October 10, 2020

and I held a spot for it.

You can feel her emotions come through in the post and I wish that I could be there to give her a hug. Split grades are a reality more than ever but imagine a school that looks like this…

JK-SK, 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 and 7-8

The staff got together and reorganized as

JK-SK, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8

In this reorganization, Diana ended up having to pass off what sounds like a great group of Grade 7 students.

Now, keep in mind that in the TDSB, things have been in a flux so she hasn’t had a stable classroom since the first day of school. And yet, she is able to identify a bunch of attributes for these students and how they wished her goodbye. Hence the tears.

You just have to read the post.


Slice of Life: ***

I gained even more respect for Lisa Corbett after reading this blog post. Truly.

It brought back advice from my father – you can do the wrong thing and you can do the right thing. The wrong thing might make you friends or help you through a situation but doing the right thing will let you sleep at night.

The bottom line is that you have to live with yourself when things are done and you should never have to apologize for doing the right thing.

Do the wrong thing and you might be doing some explaining for a long time to come.


Bicycles for the Mind

It was great to see Helen DeWaard back blogging again.

This time around, she reflects as a result of watching the Social Dilemma.

This film, ironically warehoused within the Netflix collection, is touted as a “must watch” docudrama bringing a critical view to the impact of social media on the cultural fabric of society

She makes the connection for analyzing the moving using resources from the Association for Media Literacy and shares her questions with us.

A discussion of this also appeared on #OnEdMentors. Read the post for her analysis of things and check out the podcast on voicEd Radio for the group discussion.


Please take the time to read these posts in their entirety.

Then, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Jen Aston – @mme_aston
  • Larissa Aradj – @MrsGeekChic
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Helen DeWaard – @hj_dewaard

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

How tall?


One of the things that you can see for miles and miles around here is the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. I’ve been there a few times over the years for conferences in Michigan and I stand in awe (and dizziness from looking up) just outside as you go in. Actually, if I stand across the river in downtown Windsor, I still stand in awe!

Photo by Jameson Draper on Unsplash

Just looking up and down is so impressive. Wait a few minutes and the People Mover will go by. Like most big buildings, it’s well lit for a nighttime view and the colours will change depending upon events of the day. I absolutely can’t wait until the Tigers win the World Series. There will be a lot of orange, to be sure. At present, General Motors and the Detroit Marriott are major tenants.

But just how tall? I can tell you from personal experience, “really tall”! Research indicates that it is 73 stories tall.

It would be nice to put “really tall” into some sort of perspective and you can at The Measure of Things. According to the Wikipedia, it’s 750 feet to the top of the antenna. The Measure of Things offers suggestions as to other things that might be that tall.

For this old football coach, the one that really rang my bell was the comparison to a football field.

Now, if you’re staring up at the Renaissance Center, it’s just normal to look at things on this side of the Detroit River.

Back to the Wikipedia and the tallest building in downtown Windsor is the Augustus Tower at Caesar’s Windsor with a height of 364 ft.

Of course, it’s half the height!

I’ll be honest; it’s fascinating to go through the results and look at the various descriptors used to help visualize the height.

The Measure of Things isn’t just for heights. Check for area, pinches, pennyweights, pints, or any type of measurement that you can think of.

This is a really rich resource which should be able to spawn all kinds of ideas for classroom use.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I can’t get over how we seem to be speeding into winter. Cooler nights, the furnace got turned on, and it’s easy to detect the shorter days. On the other hand, it makes for a cooler dog walk…

Please enjoy these blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, there are some great thinking in there.

The voicEd Radio archive of This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcasts is located here.


We’re back and it feels…

So, school is a month in and people are experiencing the new reality. Some teachers had a choice of teaching face to face and some online. Will Gourley decided to take the face to face route.

He describes his experience as CAGE.

  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Elation

and expands on each of them. It’s an interesting read and I suspect that Will speaks for thousands of teachers this year.

This year is definitely different and yet the descriptions that Will uses might well be the reality of any different year. But, the reality this time around is that everything is amplified and teachers are much more cognizant about everything that’s happening in their world. Normally, a routine is established in classrooms in that first week. It’s definitely taking longer this year. They don’t cover this at the Faculty.

Prepping to teach this September has matched the level of confusion and effort of my very first years. 

Give Will a read and see if he’s not describing your reality.


Mask Productions

Around here, we turn on the Windsor and Detroit news stations to find out what’s happening around us. Because these stations are part of a big network, often they will bring in stories from the rest of the province or the country so that we get a sense of what’s happening elsewhere.

Of that, I’m sure that you can imagine the out of district news settles in on what’s happening in Toronto and/or Ottawa.

I think the last time that news from the northwest of the province came in a celebration for Terry Fox.

Certainly, nothing COVID from Thunder Bay or westward makes the news because their numbers are miniscule. That’s great news. So, I appreciated this post from Sheila Stewart letting us know how things are going from her perspective.

We are a big province indeed and bloggers from different locations help bring the entire picture into focus. In the post, we get a look at Sheila’s crystal ball for how long masking will be around.


Get Jamming with Google Jamboard – E022

I’m a big fan of digital visual aids in the classroom. Those lucky enough to have SMARTBoards or some other interactive product hopefully feel the same.

When Jamboard was announced, I actually thought it was for music but I was wrong. It’s Google’s idea of what an interactive whiteboard should be.

The EduGals share their insights to the product via both a podcast and this blog post. The podcast is nice but I’m more of a fan of the post. They include a number of screen captures and walk throughs of the functionality of the product. Man, we’ve come so far from the days of being excited about Microsoft Paint!

So, what makes this product different? To me, it’s the Google element. It’s enhanced for the web and that makes a huge difference. It takes away dependency on installing and maintaining software and it just works. As the EduGals point out, it’s very friendly and functional regardless of your platform. That makes it worthwhile.

If you’re just getting started with Jamboard, this is a pretty definitive walkthrough. Make sure that you check out the resources that they’ve included and their usage advice. You’ll leap from functionality to pedagogy almost immediately!


Finding my joy

I thought that this was a masterful piece of writing from Amanda Potts. The first time I read the post, I read it picturing it with the scenario that she describes. On the phone and working with a special needs student and helping the student decide between what they could control and what they couldn’t.

It was an emotional read and I put myself in her shoes and could feel the reality of dealing with that student. Any teacher could empathize. You could even feel the pain of having the phone pinned to her ear that way.

Then, I read the post again.

This time, I felt that she was telling us a story about herself and the reality of teaching these days – those things you control and those you can’t.

The first read was powerful; the second read was even more so.

I do hope that she continues to find her joy.


Apple Strudel: Family Recipes and Rituals to Heal an Aching Heart

Debbie Donsky bases this post around Apple Strudel. Normally, I would read and move on but there’s much more here than the strudel.

It came as a result from her father’s request when asked the question

Is there anything you want to eat?

The balance of the post describes how she goes about fulfilling this request.

These days, if I wanted apple strudel, I’d go to Sobeys in town and buy it in a package all ready to go.

That wasn’t Debbie’s solution and what she described was more or less the routine that my mother would have followed. (Except we wouldn’t have travelled to Niagara). The jar of canned peaches reminded me of the rows we would have in the basement once the fall canning blitz was over.

There really is something special about homemade. The results aren’t always perfect; they aren’t always even symmetrical. But they were awesome and a real treat.

So, please read Debbie’s post where she reveals the “secret ingredient”.


Covid Education Is What The Unicycle Is To The Bicycle

This is such an interesting title for a blog post and generated by Matthew Morris. I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one who was unable to master riding a unicycle although to my defense, I only tried twice.

I can vouch for his premise – riding a unicycle is nothing like riding a bicycle.

The first days of school were nothing like dusting off that old 4-speed and taking it for an easy ride down a familiar path. The first days back to school, under Covid education, felt like someone told me and all teachers, “You know how to ride a bicycle, right? Good, here’s a fucking unicycle…it’s basically the same thing.”

It’s a good comparison and would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Even online learning in the time of COVID is different from online learning during regular times.

The difference? It goes back to the message from Amanda above. There are some things that you can control and some you can’t.

Is anyone in control these days?


A year later…

So, this is my official check in with Ramona Meharg.

As she reminds us, it’s been a year since she lost her mother and is taking time to think about the past year.

I’m told the first year is the most difficult as I pass these days and events without her for the first time.

I hope that the advice works out for her. I can share that, in my experience, the first year may be a collection of milestones but it’s certainly not the end to the memories. In fact, I would suggest that something is wrong if those memories ever do end.

Ramona is correct in her thoughts – going through this in the time of COVID is awful. In our family, some final meetings were through an external window. Nobody should have to do that.

Ramona’s post should serve as a reminder to all – make sure that you’re checking in on friends and loved ones. It’s always important but never more than right now.


I hope that you can find some time today or over the weekend to do a read of all of these wonderful blog posts and then share them within your network.

And, follow these awesome bloggers on Twitter.

  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Ramona Meharg – @RamonaMeharg

This post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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