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.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I hope that everyone is enjoying the break from the regular routine. The voicEd Radio show enjoyed a break this week as well. But, Ontario Edubloggers kept on writing and here are a few posts that caught my eye. Those that have been featured on the Wednesday morning show are on this list. I know that there are some inactive links on both lists but I hang on to the hope that the blogging urge will hit again.


AI IN THE CLASSROOM: LOVE IT OR HATE IT – IT’S HERE

You can’t be reading anything on line these days without coming across stories about the use and the power behind the use of AI. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is the one that’s getting most attention in my world. This morning, I had it write a short computer program for me. I followed the logic and most definitely, it would have worked.

I’ve watched enough episodes of Star Trek to know that it’s inevitable. I can’t help but think that that premise so long ago developed by Gene Roddenberry foretalls of our current reality and more. By the way, the show was written in 1966.

I found the post very interesting to read.

The common joke in education among some circles is that so and so hasn’t updated anything since she first started teaching. If anyone is looking for a presentation idea, imagine digging out an old lesson and show it on one side of a screen and then use AI to generate a current lesson while the audience watches. That’s keynote material.

Well, unless you have AI do the presentation! People need to be paying attention. This “trend” isn’t going to be trendy and go away any time soon.


Slice of (Who Are You) Life

I love reading Lisa’s writing. She’s so honest and open and I can identify with her right away. It’s like she’s in my mind at times.

A friend once told me that you can screw up anything about a person but as long as you remember their name, they’ll forgive you. It’s a premise that I’ve tried to live by professionally and socially.

Sometimes it works; other times it doesn’t. I think I can safely say that it works for me most of the time.

Lisa’s got a new environment with a lot of new colleagues and, if you’ve ever changed schools, you will smile immediately after reading this.

When I became a Teacher Consultant, I visited so many schools and met so many new people. My strategy was to take my planner and sit in the parking lot after I left the school and write down the names of the people I had just met and a little something about them or their classroom that I could use later.

Upon revisit, I would go back into my planner and read what I had written and it helped. People do appreciate it when you know their names.

Lisa, I hope that you get to remember them all over time!

If you can’t identify yourself when you read this post …


Old Fellas New Music Episode 38

Ask any of my family and they’ll tell you that I always have something musical going on in the background when I’m working. (or football if there’s a game on)

Bob and Paul’s playlist is on the speakers as soon as it comes out.

I appreciate the fact that they talk about things and do a little research beyond the music. My favourite this time around was from Sister Ray.

Sister Ray is the stage name of Ella Coyes, a Métis singer-songwriter. They were born and raised in Sturgeon County, Alberta. Their debut full-length album Communion was released in May 2022


Educators’ To-Do List for Winter Break

If you’re in the Ottawa area, Amy has a great list of things to do and places to go.

And, even if you’re not in the Ottawa area, there is a collection of books for you to read. After all, this has been a tough fall and you need to treat yourself.

Amy inspired me to give you ideas if you’re in Essex County.

  • visit Point Pelee National Park – it’s always different
  • visit Amherstburg’s Navy Yard and see the lights (and Toddy Jones Park for the kid’s lights)
  • check out the newest store in your town – it’s nice to support them and you might just find something new and inspirational – you’ve got to drop in on our new popcorn store
  • walk along the Detroit River – it’s always humbling to see just how big the Ambassador Bridge is and the Renaissance Centre in downtown Detroit is impressive
  • take your dog for a walk on the Greenway – there are miles and miles of torn-up railroad tracks (Jaimie made me write that one)

She also provides this graphic for inspiration. The list sounds like fun and I’d suggest DON’T wait until a break to do it. This should be part of your life all the time.


Episode 51- Kindness Is Karen’s Kind

If you need a podcast that will absolutely put you into a wonderful place in mind, this is it.

Like many people, the pandemic inspired Monique Monelle and her husband to take up a new hobby during lockdown. But their new ‘hobby’ was wonderfully unusual. They were inspired to rescue ex-battery hens.

I never stop being amazed with the wide variety of what you find when great people turn to social media to try and get their message out. This is all about adopting chickens. I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming!


Be good to yourself.

I hope that you can find time to click through and enjoy all this wonderfulness.

And, then follow them on Twitter.

  • Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna – @capontedehanna
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Anitha Rao-Robinson – @AnithaRobinson

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Thursday morning as I start this post. It takes the longest of all my posts to write. We just got back from in town and bought what I hope is that last top up for Sunday. BTW, there will be a Sunday morning post; I wrote it yesterday and it’s Christmas themed. I had a wonderful time chatting with Stephen Hurley on voicEd Radio this week and the blog posts that we talked about plus a couple of bonus ones appear below.

Enjoy.


A Polite Request is NOT a Mandate.

Not only did I read the blog post but I had the opportunity to see Marie on the CTV Kitchener news talking about this. Of course, it was about Covid.

The Waterloo Board is wrestling with the concept of masking like so many boards are. Particularly with Christmas coming, two weeks off school and kids gathering for this and that, I have to wonder about the wisdom of not wearing masks after the break. It there ever was a recipe for a super spreader, this would seem to be it.

I’ve always found that Marie is down to earth in her concerns and approach to dealing with the resperatory issues. It just seems to me that, unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose scenario.

if they don’t require masks and there’s an outbreak, they’re wrong, if they do require masks and there isn’t an outbreak, they’re wrong – a lose-lose situation. 

Which side would you rather lose on?

She lays out her thoughts nicely and compares the language about masking from a few other districts. I found it to be a fascinating read and my heart goes out to her as she tries to do the very best for the schools in her charge.


Steps to Self-Publishing

If you are a skilled artist, how do you get your works out into the hands of others? Some people might not wish to get an original or a print for the wall so Colleen has another way of handling things.

She’s self-publishing some blank notebooks covered by replicas of her art work.

And, they’re gorgeous! How do I know? I ordered a couple of them and they’ll be under our tree for the notetaker that I married. I can tell you this because my wife doesn’t read my blog.

I’ll share her reaction probably and will let Colleen know but my impression is that I’m over the top happy with them.

So, how did she get the inspiration? Certainly not from any place that I would have guessed. You’ll have to enjoy the post to find out how.


kids these days – educator version

As educators, we owe so much to so many for our experiences at the Faculty of Education.

Yes, there were all the professors and sessional instructors but there are also those teachers who offered up their classrooms for us to go in and try out teaching. Some of us did great things, some of us screwed up royally, some of us learned from a practicing teacher, some practicing teachers learned from us.

Will shares her thoughts about the practice teaching experience and then focuses on the fact that so many teachers who would open their classrooms to others just aren’t these days. That’s really sad when you think of the opportunities lost.

Of course, the years of Covid were tough but when you read Will’s post, you get the sense that that mentality persists.

After reading, you just might be inspired to say yes the next time the Faculty comes calling.


What are you going to do? A Leadership Recipe for Success

If you aspire for a leadership position in education, you really need to be reading Rolland’s blog on a regular basis. There’s so much wisdom and direction there.

This time, he shared this image as inspiration.

There are six points to consider in the graphic.

  • Practice discipline
  • Take on more projects
  • Learn to follow
  • Inspire others
  • Keep learning
  • Resolve conflicts

The concepts are fleshed out nicely and I agree with most of it; I do wonder about “taking on more projects” as there has to be a limit somewhere. There has to be a point in time where there are diminishing returns for your efforts.

The other interesting point that Rolland addresses are those who would “fake” it. We’ve all seen so many of these people, I suspect, and I’m in total agreement with his assessment.


NATASHA FEGHALI | WHEN DOORS SLAM SHUT, NEW OPPORTUNITIES OPEN UP

I actually had the opportunity to catch up with Lynn at a book sale in Tecumseh last weekend. I got the story of her inspiration for the children’s books that she is co-authoring with her niece. As luck would have it, I met her again at David Garlick’s table and found that both of them considered themselves “closers” as the two of them had been the last principal at a number of schools which were subsequently closed.

But, that has nothing to do with this podcast!

I follow Natasha Feghali on a couple of social media platforms and I’m just amazed at her energy and the number of opportunities she’s had for professional growth and opportunities and philanthropy. And, oh, the number of connections. I’d love to have the discussion wth her but she’s currently in Kuwait teaching so Lynn’s interview was the next best thing.

Not only does she come across as a very professional young lady (one of the 40 under 40 around here) but she gives a terrific interview. It probably comes from all the presentations that she gives. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable conversion between two leaders.

Lynn also uses a transcribing piece of software so that you can read the interview if you would rather. It does a pretty good job.


the fact that someone notices

I’ve never been able to write poetry so I’m always pleased to be able to read someone else’s work. That was the case with Chris and this post.

Unlike a straight forward blog post, I do have to slow down to read the words and muse about the meaning.

we are chapters,
not categories or
title pages,

That’s a bit; click through to read it in its entirety.


The Thing With Feathers 

Jessica has published a book of poetry and it’s available now on Amazon.

She calls it

“a story of becoming whole by reassembling broken pieces of self, holding onto hope in the darkest moments, and seeing everything in a new light.”

I love the pictures from her book launch.


Give yourself an early Christmas gift and click through to read all these wonderful posts. Yet again, there’s great content from Ontario Educators.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Colleen Rose – @ColleenKR
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Lynn McLaughlin – @lynnmcla
  • Chris Cluff (he is on Facebook)
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Peace Playlist

Since the Ukraine situation, we’ve opened and closed the show with songs of peace. This week, it was these two.

The peace playlist

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It was great getting back to the microphone for the radio show / podcast this week. After two weeks, the boom arm on my microphone was dusty and Stephen caught me cleaning it during the show…

Here’s what we talked about and a couple of bonus posts.


Hurting? Ask For Help!

I’m a big fan of how Cameron uses his blog as inspiration for students to write. And, because they’re writing on the blog, they’re truly writing for an audience.

This time, the topic was bullying and anti-bullying. Of course, he used the opportunity to remind students of http://ww1.kidshelphone.ca/

After setting the stage, the students had a choice of two ways to respond…

For your blog post this week you have two choices: 
1. I want you to imagine a student in grade five who is struggling with anxiety, stress, or bullying and write them a letter that you think could help them get through the tough times. 
2. Write a paragraph that explains your strategies or ways that you deal with stressful situations or tough times. 

The responses are honest and open and I thought really rich for a Grade 5 class. This is well worth checking out and maybe replicating in your class.


The Many Benefits of Mud Play

I remember, as a kid, playing in the mud and catching all kinds of heck when I got home. Things would be wild if I had been in Deanna’s classroom.

It didn’t come out in the post but parents are so supportive of students playing in the mud that they chipped in and bought a class set of boots. How’s that for support?

Deanna gives us a lovely description of what she’s expecting as teacher when the kids get muddy.

  • Playing with natural materials like mud and water help children build a relationship with nature.
  • Mud play encourages problem-solving and innovation.
  • Children explore many math concepts authentically through mud play
  • Mud play bolsters children’s oral communication.
  • Playing with dirt and mud strengthens children’s fine and gross motor skills.
  • Mud play appeals to sensory learners and can be a calming and enjoyable activity for many
  • Research shows that playing in the dirt can strengthen children’s health and immunity.

Each bullet point has a detailed description and pictures to show what it looks like in real life. Fun!

Deanna is so devoted to the concept that she’s written a book about it  Muddy Math: See, Think and Wonder.

Despite all this, there was room to grow. During the show, I got this message from Colleen Rose.

Mud = clay = ART CLASS!!!


Routine. Familiar. Customary. Methodical.

Elizabeth continues to find ways to attract my attention and wanting to read her blog posts. This time, it’s a series of four words all punctuated with periods.

I thought this was a very brave post to put out in the open. It’s one thing to talk about great things happening in your class but quite another to talk about challenges that you’re having. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have thought that her challenges would be where she identifies them, coming from a library position.

First of all, in the subject area where many people have challenges – mathematics – she seems to have wrapped it nicely into a routine fo the students.

  • Monday “Minds on”
  • Tuesday and Thursday “Roll and Write”
  • Wednesday “Number Talks”
  • Friday “Esti-Mysteries” from Steve Wybourney’s blog from Oregon

As an aside, the Esti-Mysteries was a real sinkhole for me. Great stuff!

The area where she identifies challenges is Literacy. That surprised me but here we are.

She’s working on building a framework for that class. I really love the openness in this post.


Icky But Interesting Facts About Poop

This is an incredibly important topic and everyone should be aware of it. Kudos to STAO for posting it to their blog.

Just the other night on the evening news, I saw a report about the growth in the number of cases of colorectal cancer. It’s scary.

Do yourself a favour and read this – https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/types-of-cancer/colorectal

As noted in the blog, your body can tell you a lot about what’s going on and all that you have to do is look.

The post gives a short description of things to look for – what’s normal – and what could be happening.


Meet the PhDs

The podcast this week comes from Vicky Loras. Vicky is on her own way to earning a PhD and along the way she’s interviewing others who have already completed that journey.

This episode was with Dr. Thanassis Godelitsas.

I found his story very interesting. I guess, coming from education, I see most PhDs as those who completed a Bachelors’s and Masters’s degree and continuing in education. There was no straight path for Dr. Godelitsas and his bio as you’ll see on Vicky’s website shows studies in so many areas.

Beyond the content, it was interesting to listen to Vicky conduct the interview. She’s constantly prompting to keep the conversation alive. Unlike a few others, she doesn’t just give us a pat set of questions; she adjusts based on the conversation. It’s a nice style and if you’re a podcaster who interviews others, you could learn a lot just by listening.


NU#17 – Leading Teams These Days…

One of my superintendents was big in leadership and he did so many professional activities with us – because he wanted us to become leaders in our own rights.

He was always talking about change and how we need to evolve with the realities that are happening in schools and society. Nothing stands still.

That was the strong message coming from this post from Jen.

Leadership needs to look a lot different these days. It’s the people around us that matter most – now more than ever- and I think we’re all just trying to figure it out as best we can, as we go along.

Over my career, I worked for many leaders. Each of them was strong and powerful in their own way but no two were the same.

As I read Jen’s post, I could easily see that they would fail as leaders in our world today if they continued to use what worked for them back then.

If you’re a leader or you aspire to be a leader and wonder what might work, you will find this an interesting read.


Phone home

This is one of the most difficult things for teachers to do – make that call home because something has gone amiss at school. This has a nice ending to it.

“I’ll call again and let you know how it’s going,” I said.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she replied.

Amanda is short of specific details and that’s a good thing for the privacy of the student. I think we’ve all had that moment when we know that we need to make the call and dread it. Nobody likes to be the bearer of anything but very positive news.

I can’t help but think that this is one of those very powerful reasons why we blog. We anguish, over-think, fret, worry, … and blogging is a release. You can talk to a spouse but, unless they’re an educator, they don’t really get it.

Amanda shares her thoughts with her blog and with us if we care to read. If you’re like me, you’re going to want to send her a virtual hug and celebrate a happy ending that came unexpectedly.


Please take the time to click though and read all these wonderful posts. Dropping a comment while you’re there is always appreciated.

Then, follow them on Twitter

  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Elizabeth Lyons@mrslyonslibrary
  • Claire Zuliani & Michael Frankfort @MsZuliani @mfrank_76
  • Vicky Loras – @vickyloras
  • Jen Shirley – @jen_shirley
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This is a regular Friday morning post around here and a live radio show appears Wednesday mornings at 8:45 and available as a podcast later.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Regular listeners to the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show will know that it didn’t air at its regular time on Wednesday morning. It’s been pretty regular at that spot for the past 5-6 years. It’s not that it wasn’t ready to go; sometimes things happen.

The show itself has been postponed and not just ignored. The reason? We had a special guest who also programmed the show so it will happen when we can do it. Don’t worry; there will be announcements on social media. Actually, kind of a special announcement and it involves trains.

The format of this Friday blog post for the past years has been pretty consistent. The five blog posts that make the voicEd Radio show come first and that’s followed by two or three bonus posts.

This week, I’m just going to keep you wondering about the first five and go straight to the bonus posts.


Where Does the Buck Stop on Mandates??

In this very well-researched piece, Marie looks at a lot of things about masking and who does what or who could do what or who would do it if they hadn’t been told not to or … I guess the bottom line is that we haven’t got our stuff together.

You’d think that we would have learned from our horrible experiences over the past years about Covid. (Thanks to Marie’s earlier missive; I spell it this way now and I like it)

I’m scratching my head over the comment that school districts can’t mandate masks. They mandate everything else. For example, just try to go to school in anything that contravenes the school dress code and see what happens.

Try packing peanuts or having a peanut butter sandwich – yeah, but some people are allergic to peanuts. We need to protect them! End of discussion.

OK, I gave up peanut butter because of my concern for others. How is that more important and something that can be legislated and something as simple as wearing a mask out of concern for those allergic to peanuts and the kids sitting next to them?

There’s just too much finger pointing and so just where does the buck stop.

You don’t have to look hard at all to find a story about Covid. This just in….

Another large COVID-19 outbreak at Wallaceburg long term care home

That’s not peanut butter, folks. And, just who has been visiting those infirm? Any kids?


I Blame Social Media For All

The hook for me was this quote from Matthew.

I’m a teacher, so naturally, I have to blame something or someone other than myself.

He then walks us through some personal observations of the decline in student skills and the incline in the use and popularity of social media. It’s not based on the result of real research but on his observations and you get a sense of his frustrations as the post develops.

As I do before I comment publically like I am here, I read the post three or four times and get an increased appreciation for his frustration. He hits them all. Well, except for TruthSocial and I don’t see him apologizing for that anytime soon.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

We used to say that “once the kids are in the room and the door is close, I’m in charge”. That’s one of the cutesy sayings that really isn’t true when you have an administration that may not support you or you’re even leary enough to duplicate a story because the kids might not be able to follow along.

I would think this is a challenge to all administrators and board officials who are setting priorities and direction. Is what you’re mandating really working?

I do have a question for Matthew though – with so many of us getting Mastodon accounts, are things going to get worse or better?


Things are about to get nipplely

So, Doug made up a word. That was enough to get me to read this post.

It’s a short little piece written at the expense of renaissance artists. What, indeed, if current technology was able to look behind a painting or a layer of paint on a painting?

It’s happened before.

Artwork hidden under Picasso painting revealed by x-ray

Is the next big bit of investigative reporting going to be how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle came to be named Donatello?


Hmmm, that didn’t take as long as my regular Friday posts do!

Follow these authors on Twitter

  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Lord Douglas McDowall – @dougzone2_1

This is a regular Friday post around here. You can read them all here.