This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Is it really a Friday the 13th?

What a great weather week it’s been. Also a great week for reading blog posts. Check them out.


It’s Never Just a Bike Seat

Sue has been on fire recently on her blog. I had originally pulled a post from her about assessment but this one caught my fancy.

If you’ve been to EdCamp London, you’ll have been to Sir Arthur Currie Public School. It’s really new and is in the middle of a community that is building houses as quickly as they can. Consequently, there are 17 portable classrooms onsite and the school appears to be desirable for transfers. They had 22 candidates apply to move there and Sue takes us through the process she uses. I can’t do it justice but Sue certainly does in the post. Teaser – it involves a bicycle seat.

I think we all have interview stories. One of my favourites was a school board trustee who tries to distract interviewees by wearing one shoe and one boot. I don’t know for sure whether it’s one of those legends but I still wonder how I would have reacted.


Post-Covid Educational Reform

As ever, Marie’s writing will have you thinking.

In this case, she has a cautionary message about the desire to return to “normal”. Was it always that good? She gives us her thoughts on the writings from Jonathan Kurtz. Could we make school systems better by learning from the pandemic?

She shares her thoughts about

  • TIME
  • EMPOWERMENT
  • ACCESSIBILITY
  • SCHOOLS, NOT PRISONS

I found it interesting reading and I wonder if all teachers and administrators shouldn’t take a reflective look at these things in the manner that Marie did. Also, don’t forget to read the comments; the discussion continues there.


Survive and Advance

Matthew’s post took me well back with his reference to Jim Valvano.

Interestingly, most professional sports have playoffs that are series. Best 3 of 5, 4 of 7, etc. Baseball, Hockey, Basketball…

It’s only professional Football and, as Matthew notes, NCAA basketball where your ability to move to the next level is based on the results of a single game. It does make for an exciting experience and “do or die” is the way it’s done.

Or, as Matthew notes, Valvano called it “Survive and Advance”. He then applies it to his personal situation in education. I think that many will nod their heads while reading it but it’s particularly disturbing how Matthew now answers the question “How are you doing?”


the eyes tell our stories

The best and most powerful part of education comes from discussions with a student and you do your best to see them “eye to eye”. What happens when the eyes that you’re looking at have been clearly crying?

That’s the message from Will’s post where he describes an interaction with a student who would normally be described as “bright and optimistic”.

With a lack of mental health support in schools, teachers are supposed to pick up the slack. But they’re feeling it too – Will makes reference to 9 teachers away at his school on a particular day.

Will has made a commitment to check-in more frequently with the student but it begs the question – who is checking in on the teachers?


SOS: TACKLING MID-CAREER MALAISE

On the TESL blog, Heather sends out a reminder that mid-career, which she describes as someone in their 40s, can be a difficult time. Have you made the right career decision? Is your career indeed plateauing? Are you feeling overwhelmed and lethargic?

She identifies five areas that you can look at and some suggestions about what to do.

  • Discover the root cause of your discontent
  • Consider the mindset you adopt at work
  • Consider the ways you can have your microenvironment altered
  • Consider how your motivations have changed
  • Consider what non-work-related activities give you self-worth

I know that, personally, taking or leading professional learning activities was always a good pick-me-up. For a while at least.

While this is posted to the TESL blog, the message is applicable to everyone.


LearningInTheLoo: Curating Instructional Videos for Interactivity

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes you know that someone is reading your blog because they write about it, a reference is made, and you get a ping back. That was the case with Laura. It wasn’t something that I had written but a reference that I had made to the EduGals about curating educational videos.

They had listed 10 and Laura zeroed in on three more that she thought would be applicable in her situation. Between the two sources, there definitely is a leading towards using Google products and that’s probably just a result of their board’s decision making. It’s frustrating when you recommend something that can’t be used for one reason or another.

I love it when a conversation is started and then a followup which makes it deeper and more valuable.


The 500 – #318 – Back Stabbers – The O’Jays

Marc is actively keeping up with his posting about the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. This post took me to an album with music that I hadn’t heard for far too long. I would have gone with this song.

Instead, he chose this one.

That’s an equally good suggestion. I think I’ll take his suggestion and use it for the TWIOE voicEd show next week.

Thanks, Marc. That took me back.


I hope that you can find the time to read and reflect on these great posts.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Heather Donnelly – @TESLOntario
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to Friday and another amazing collection of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Enjoy!


Hometown

While many people live in their original hometown, Sheila may have you longing for a return if you moved away. I lived in mine for 18 years and then left never to return except for a couple of times to tour the place, visit the cemetery, and relive some memories.

If you moved away, there might be something special to remember – maybe it’s because we were kids and biked everywhere, played everywhere, and didn’t have to worry about work and family? I feel like I know my original hometown better than my current. I’ve got to get the bike out.

In the post, she brings up some music videos that got me thinking. The first one was Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown

and then there’s one where he actually did as a tribute to his hometown but notes if you listen live that there are some bad words in it.

Hometown is an amazing thing to consider and I thank Sheila for the post. Long-time blog readers around here might remember this post from 2010. https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/a-multimedia-childhood-tour/

I still think that it’s a great activity for the classroom. Lots of room for research and also a chance to apply some computer skills.


The Importance of Student Self-Reflection on Their Own Learning

Reflection is an important part of education and Gonul certainly drives that point home in this post. There’s no room for argument.

I would suggest that, while it’s important to be ongoing, this time of year it’s especially important to reflect on an entire year and the growth and learning that has happened.

She offers a great list of advantages of reflection:

  • Determine their strengths and weaknesses in skills they have developed
  • Analyze their learning process and style
  • Learn to be more independent
  • Understand how they learn
  • Monitor their learning progress
  • Set realistic learning goals
  • Respond positively to feedback to improve performance
  • Take ownership of their own learning

What do you have planned to reflect on a year’s worth of learning?


Becoming a Better Person for Others: Faith into Action

I’ve written a lot of blog posts in my time but, after reading Rolland’s at least four or five times, I leaned back in my chair and just said “Wow!” to myself.

It’s appropriate that it follows Gonul’s post about reflection because this is truly what happens there. Rolland takes four concepts from a resource that he’d read and does an amazing job of internalizing them.

  • Dignity of the Human Person
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Given his work, he makes the connections to the Catholic Leadership Framework. In addition to analysing the concepts, he identifies next steps for himself.


What is right is more important than who is right:Speaking Truth to Power

Of course, leaders should get a copy of Charles’ book on leadership. He’s been using his blog to go through the messages and podcasting on voicEd Radio in conversation with Stephen Hurley at the same time.

“Being right” seems like such a simple concept. We all want to be right but, as Charles notes, he’s seen so many instances of “deleterious short-termism”. Haven’t we all?

The complete discussion with Stephen can be listened to here.

I’d be interested in listening to a follow discussion about what happens to staff and the community when the decision made goes wrong because it was important for the decision-maker to be right whether it was the right decision or not.


Expat or Local?

While she was a principal at a school in China, Ann Marie was great at blogging and sharing her own thoughts about life and leadership. Many of her posts ended up her for discussion.

Things change though.

Upon returning home for the Chinese New Year, she didn’t return to China but rather spent the rest of the school year doing the principal thing remotely. There’s been a lot of that done lately – the remote thing.

The bug to travel again is starting to bite and Ann Marie shares her thoughts there along with her vision of a “dream job”.

Certainly, things have changed thanks to COVID for all of us. Travel is more of a conscious decision than ever. Read about how it affects a principal that likes to move around!


Unfilled Jobs = Increased Guilt: Reflecting On Needing To Be Away

As teachers, we all know the hassles that being sick or away from the class can make being away more pain than actually going in. And yet, there are some times when that isn’t an option.

Such was the case with Aviva who had to take three days away. This is probably a better scenario than most since she does have a teaching partner so continuity should/could be good. I know from experience that the experience may be better or worse depending upon who got called in during my absence.

It’s not easily handled anywhere…

This means that educators are missing preps, volunteering to take on extra duties, and juggling schedules to make sure that there’s a teacher for every class.

When someone misses a preparation period due to you being away, there’s always this feeling of owing them something when you indeed do get back. I read Aviva’s post and I can totally understand where she’s coming from. It’s the story for all teachers who are away.


Math Links for Week Ending Apr. 15th, 2022

There’s nothing like a good mathematics challenge and David is good every Friday for some inspiration.

My big takeaway was kind of mathematics How many calories do people really eat at Chipotle? but it was more about a presentation technique called “Slow Reveal Graphs”.

How many times have you seen a presenter throw up a screen of information and then use a laser pointer to talk you through the information? This is a much better way of presenting the same information with better results and less information overload.

And, it’s not all that different! You already have the content; this is just a better way of handling it.


As you head into the weekend, I hope that you can click through and enjoy all of these posts and follow these great bloggers.

  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Gonul Turkdogan – @turkdogan_gonul
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

The devil


made me do it.

I’m old enough to remember laughing like crazy at the genius of Flip Wilson and his character Geraldine Jones.

Every sketch eventually had her blaming the devil for her actions.

Fast forward to today and the message that we’re hearing all over the place that the government would extend the masking requirement if the Medical Office of Health would recommend it.

I never was big into politics but I do remember a high school teacher telling us that the number one priority of any government, once elected, is to get reelected.

Daily, I’m seeing people on social media indicating that they’re coming down with the COVID virus as students and colleagues stop wearing masks. Don’t get me wrong; I hate wearing a mask when in public but I would hate to catch or spread the virus even more.

Absolutely, we all want to return to normal. But is a decision made as an election looms and putting the blame on someone else the answer? We’re hearing now that hospitals have the capacity to handle an influx of cases if need be. Is that really the plan? It’s predicted that the province will need it.

How about using that capacity to deal with the treatments that have been put on hold for the past couple of years?

It’s frustrating sitting here seeing numbers being reported knowing that this could include friends or family. Of course, since we’re no longer getting real numbers reported, we’re finding out other ways like in wastewater.

I applaud the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s recent decision to bring back a masking requirement. Will there be more districts to follow? It’s been recommended here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Please take some time to enjoy these wonderful posts from Ontario Edubloggers. You’ll be glad you did!


Getting Ready for Destreaming

These are the show notes for podcast 81 from the EduGals. Before I get to them, a big acknowledgement needs to go out to appreciate their podcasting efforts. They’re now two years into their efforts putting out interesting content regularly. That’s pretty impressive when you consider they both have full time jobs.

I was drawn in by the title. As all know, Mathematics was destreamed for Grade 9 this year and Science comes next this fall. That’s four months in the future.

I was disappointed that they didn’t have insights and specific things to deal with with the new curriculum. Truthfully, it’s not their fault; the curriculum hasn’t been released yet. At this point, it’s just speculation about what might be coming. In the podcast and the show notes, they do talk about some of the best of breed techniques that will go far to supporting people in these new classrooms. It’s not just science; it’s good stuff to apply everywhere.

I thought there was huge value in the list of people and resources to reach out to so that you’re not starting from square one in the fall.

With COVID, we haven’t had much discussion about these topics so I was really pleased to read and listen to the podcast. They are doing their best to stay on top of things. Join them.


Attention and Focus in the Classroom

It was awesome to see Jennifer back at the keyboard. As she notes in the post, there have been other things that have been keeping her off her game. I hope that melting snow and more sunlight can really help out.

What I think is so powerful is that Jennifer doesn’t lecture us about focus and attention but rather shares her personal observations about her own classroom. Your mileage may vary.

She identifies what’s happening when students aren’t paying attention and what’s happening when they are and shares strategies that she’s using to have more success with the latter.

I found that it’s a reminder that the most important person in the room is the teacher who does her best to set the stage for quality learning situations.

I like to think that we’re all thoughtful and reflective but I’ve always maintained that you take it to the next level when you share it publically. There’s just something so powerful about putting your reflections into words and sharing htem, hoping that you get feedback and make yourself better by doing so.

There’s your challenge to read her post and connect with Jennifer.


Food Or No Food? Re-Thinking Our Fairy Bakery.

If I had to relive my kindergarten years, I think I’d want to be in Paula and Aviva’s class. Not only do they set the stage for innovative play, but they do it thoughtfully considering all kinds of external things.

Into the discussion this time around, Aviva brings in the concept of fasting which has impacts on students and classrooms and can’t be ignored. Even though they have no students celebrating Ramadan, it is forefront in her mind as she embarks on this unit.

The centre for this discussion is the “Fairy Bakery” which includes a provocation dealing with doughnuts and she had pictures of Krispy Kremes. Is there such a thing in Ontario at this time? I know that there was one store in Windsor a while back but it’s now closed. And, after further checking, there are still a few in Ontario – https://krispykreme.ca/find-a-store/

That side diversion took me away from Aviva’s post for a bit but I did come back. In typical Aviva fashion, there are lots of pictures of this activity and a great deal of her thinking that will inspire you as well.


…and in this corner

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art blog, Will shares some of his thinking about how the lifting of the mask mandate has affected his school. It must be satisfying to see that most of his students continue to wear masks.

Sadly, we’re not getting official figures from the Provincial Government. I suppose the political thought is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Yet, all that you have to do is turn on the evening news and you’ll find out that there are other ways of testing and reporting numbers in the province and these reports tell us that the numbers are not good.

The removal of required masking, limited cohorting, mandatory hand sanitizing protocols, and social distancing have not provided me with the peace of mind that the return of such “freedoms” pretends to promise.

I’ll admit that I truly was hoping that things would return more to normal two weeks after the March Break but it doesn’t seem to be happening with the speed that would make one feel comfortable.

I’m betting that Will speaks for so many teachers that go into that situation every day. At least in the Public School system.


PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

Vera’s post took me back to my days at the Faculty of Education where we spent time drafting out own philosophies based upon years as a student and a couple of weeks out practice teaching. We were experts. Not.

We were told that it was a personal thing and would drive up professionally. So, I did some sort of naive gesture and tucked it away in a binder. I think we all develop our own philosophies and they will evolve over time. I will admit that I used to turn to it in preparation for a new school year or an interview. I found that it did indeed ground me.

I felt for Vera as she said that she was asked about her philosophy during an interview. I could just see myself stuttering ‘ba ba ba ba’.

The experience inspired her to revisit things and she shares it with this blog post. The nice thing about blogging is that you can also include comics!


Outdoor Education – Resource Guide, 2022

Just in time for some exciting outdoor education possbilities.

If the snow would ever just give up, there are amazing things to be seen and smelled outside as spring comes in. It’s my favourite time of year.

For TDSB educators, this post automatically takes them to resources that are collected and that’s a good thing for them. For others, maybe check to see if your district has licensed them or make a suggestion that they go ahead and do so.


The 500 – #323 – Ghost In The Machine – The Police

I’m a big fan of these top 500 albums blog posts that appear on Marc’s blog. He’s taking me to places that I hadn’t though about for a while and I truly appreciate that.

This post was a big different – Marc didn’t write it but one of his students, Austin, did.

What would a student know about Ghost in the Machine?

I made the connection to his observation immediately. I hadn’t thought of that computer game for a long time but Austin’s insight clicked.

This brought a smile …

My age at release: Mr. Hodgkinson was 16, I wasn’t born

Just because you were late to the game doesn’t mean that you can’t do a review and I thought that Austin did a great job. What a writing inspiration!

I wonder … would other teachers let students post to their blog?


Please take the time to click through and enjoy these posts and then follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Edugals – @EduGals
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Vera Teschow – @schlagzeug_usw
  • TDSB Professional Library -@ProfLibraryTDSB
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

This week’s voicEd show…

Caution


Don’t get me wrong; I’m like most people, I can’t wait until I can go places without having to wear a face mask. Over the past two years, I’ve gone from a home made mask, a Veteran’s Canada Mask because I didn’t know if we were going to be buying the traditional poppy, a package of masks my daughter bought me from Old Navy, and most recently disposable medical masks once we were told that fabric masks weren’t just cutting it. Every coat I own has a mask and a doggy poop bag in a pocket and there are a few of both in the console of my car.

I hate my glasses fogging up every time I’d go into a store during the winter and I hated fogging up while watching the horse races at Leamington last summer. I hate turning on the evening news and the lead story is about numbers of COVID cases and the impact on hospitals. I hate public relations news reports where things are cherry picked for consumption by those watching.

I’m dumbfounded that the decision in the province was made to largely drop masking requirements today. Today, of all times, when students and families have been out enjoying the break and so many have made their way to warmer places to vacation and have fun in big, unmasked groups. Even one week later would have given things the opportunity to give us a good idea whether or not we should be concerned.

I really hate the fact that there isn’t a hard and fast rule. Reading this article makes one think that you’ll need a roadmap, at least in the short term.

Here’s where masks will still be mandatory in Ottawa when Ontario lifts the mask mandate

I liked the fact that a couple of school districts had indicated that they were going to continue masking requirements but then I hate the fact that they ultimately bailed on the decision. I do like the fact that Hamilton-Wentworth is going to exercise a bit of caution going forward.

I hate the fact that friends are headed back to classrooms amidst all this. Of course, we’ll never really know the extent of an upturn or downturn in cases since, as a province, we don’t report that any more. It’s only when hospitals get in trouble that we might really know.

For years, I’ve seen the odd person wearing a face mask in a terminal at the airport. It always seemed a little strange but it was their decision and it didn’t make any difference to me. I really like the fact that I haven’t had a cold for the past couple of years so maybe they were on to something.

I truly am looking forward to not wearing a mask and that will probably happen next week, everything working out well. I know that I’m cautious and I don’t apologize for it.

I honour the fact that everyone who reads this post will be making their own decisions. I hope that, whatever you do, it works out well for you.