This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Check out these recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Watch Birds and Savour Books

From Jessica Outram, two terrific suggestions for what to do when you’re at home and not going anywhere.

The entry point for both is low but the payback can be very high. Around here, we have two bird feeders hanging just off the patio and, as the temperatures get colder, it gets very popular. Neither of the neighbours have a feeder so we’re the only place around here to eat. So, it’s not uncommon to see the whole gang as the weather gets colder.

It makes Christmas gifts easy to give. A book on identifying birds, bags of sunflower seeds to attract Blue Jays, …

If it ever gets boring (and it doesn’t), there are always quick trips to Point Pelee or Jack Miner.

I enjoyed Jessica’s story telling of how things play out for her with birds. At times, it seems like you’re looking down at a vibrant community. Are people watching us in this way? Do any of the birds that dine here make it to her place? Like most of her posts, she tells an interesting story and you’ll want to read it all.

Then, there are the books….


OneWordx12: Are you in?

A New Year. A New Word.

There are actually a couple of interesting and relevant blog posts from Beth Lyons to check out this week.

The first one proves that she saw something coming in 2020 by doing the whole #oneword thing a month at a time instead of choosing one word for the entire year. I found it really interesting to go through her list of 12 words and try to map out (or guess) what was happening in her personal and professional life.

Then, she starts off 2021 with her word for January. I thought that this was an interesting choice. Yes, it’s one word but she uses it in a number of different contexts just to illustrate how complicated things are these days. I’m not going to mention it here because I think you owe it to yourself to visit her blog to see her writing.

I am going to use one of her thoughts as inspiration for a future blog post. Maybe tomorrow.


Ask

Wow! That’s all that I could say when I was done reading this post from Amanda Potts. What an opportunity for her and for her students!

So, she’s bought into Beth Lyons’ concept of a word for a month and “Ask” is January’s word. After reading the post, I’m guessing that it wasn’t in place on December 31 but it’s certainly advice with a real example of success for all.

I know that people are looking for mega-inspiration activities for students to keep them engaged in online learning. So, out of boredom? or inspiration? Amanda wrote to a number of authors of the books her students are reading in class.

In 20 minutes, she had an confirmation from one of the authors that they would drop in virtually to her class and interact with them. What an opportunity.

Amanda summed it nicely when she said that all she had to do was Ask. Awesome.

During the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on Wednesday, I asked Stephen Hurley is he was willing to share his expertise in Podcasting to a class that was interesting in taking the leap. He was very enthusiastic about the prospects so if you’re considering it, why not ask? He’s on Twitter as @Stephen_Hurley.

No pressure, Amanda, but I’m looking forward to a blog post from you sharing with us how your online guest worked out.


SIMPLIFYING ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION WITH GOOGLE ASSIGNMENTS – E033

The EduGals are back!

They have an interesting approach to sharing this message. It comes as both a podcast and a blog post.

I had to do a screen capture here just to show you that apparently they’re everywhere you get your podcasts.

I was doing some other work and listening to them in the background and was actually quite interested in their marriage of Brightspace and Google Assignments.

I’ll be honest here; I can pick up quite a bit by listening but this is so rich in content that I needed the blog post to completely understand their message. I thought that they had done a nice job in their explanation complete with their own documented captures.

If you’re using this combination of services, there’s probably some wisdom here that will make your job easier.


Saltwater

I’d only recently followed Hema Khodai’s blog and was pleased when my RSS program indicated that there was something to check out.

Interestingly, the content didn’t come from her but from another educator, Tharmila Apputhurai. The post is only a couple of paragraphs long but I’ll admit that it was one that brought out so much emotion in me.

During 2020, I think I’ve heard so many different personal reflections about what COVID means. But, nothing like this.

I felt as if I had been ordered by my acca to stay in the bunker until the sound and sight of the violence was gone.

I did have to look up “acca” since it was a new term to me and that even further personalized the message for me.

I hope that the message of healing in 2021 rings true.


What’s Your Superpower? Mine Is Teaching!

If there’s a testament to why I follow people on Twitter, this is it. I’ve followed Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge for a while now and, quite frankly, she’s been a person that pops up on my FollowFriday list regularly.

Recently, she shared that she had a blog post for us to check out. And I did.

I can’t imagine that, after 2020, there isn’t a teacher who hasn’t felt being pushed further in their profession than at any other time. Nilmini is that boat and shares a list of 10 things and reflections about her feelings.

  • Strike a Balance
  • Discover Your Network
  • Ah, this thing called Technology
  • Be Yourself

You’ll have to click through to discover all 10! I’m betting that you’ll find out all kinds of things about her and probably yourself in these days.

I don’t know if I could agree with “Discover Your Network” more than I do as I write this. I’ve had my network for years now and daily I’m inspired and uplifted by the connections that I’ve made.

Since Ontario Educators are connected anyway these days, why not created your own Personal Learning Network for ideas, inspiration, and people to plan with?


A #VisibleLearning Look At My Playing Reality: Finding Joy In Remote Kindergarten

I’ve always said that they don’t pay kindergarten teachers enough. I’ve often felt exhausted just walking by their classrooms.

In this post, Aviva Dunsiger pulls back the curtain and gives us an inside look at her classroom, activities, and all that it takes to pull it off. It’s a long post but worth putting time aside to read.

There are interesting personal thoughts about what she thinks she’s doing. I always found it interesting to compare what I thought I did with my principal or superintendent in the debriefing after being supervised. My thought always was that I was overly hard on myself. How about Aviva?

So, she lays it all out there in this long post full of thoughts and documentation and she’s looking for advice. Do you have any?


It’s been another great experience to read these posts and then share my thoughts with you. There’s such a wide range of topics. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the originals.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Amanda Potts – @ahpotts
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Hema Khodai – @HKhodai
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

A global visualisation


I knew that this was coming from some of the reading that I’d done but it hadn’t hit my instance of Google Maps until yesterday. Or at least I noticed it yesterday.

Those who use Maps a lot know that Google puts layers over the basic map to show things like traffic. Quite frankly, that’s what I use the most. Or, I used to use it when planning trips. That’s a redundant feature during stay at home times.

It’s the COVID-10 info layer that really caught my attention. Just like viewing traffic, it lets you take a look at the latest plotted on the maps and, if you zoom out, on the globe.

And then, of course, you want to spin the world.

That lets you view the rates per 100 000 in colour and a view of the trend in that country. Data always tells a story and you can see quite a number of stories just in this screen capture.

  • Canada versus United States
  • Greenland
  • Spain
  • Algeria

I know that we get reports periodically about the way things are happening in Europe but typically when it’s some sort of sensational bent to it. There are some good news countries, some bad news countries, and some no news countries.

I hope that this layer is enabled for your account so that you can check out how things are going world-wide.

Different pivots


I had to go out last Friday.

Regular readers of this blog will suspect that I am pretty good at staying home and I like to think that I am. However, a couple of things needed addressing. I had saved them all up to make one trip. I truly appreciated that these essential services were open and I noted just how they were able to be open and safe.

  1. I had to go to the lab to get some blood taken. Normally, I would go into the office, grab a number, and then sit in the waiting room to be called. Not so, these days. There was a little table outside the locked door with a clipboard where you sign your name, phone number, and car description. I brought my own pen so I pumped some sanitizer after filling in my details and went back to the car. I also noted how many people were ahead of me so that I could keep count. After the five ahead, I was waved up to wait for a second. My temperature was taken, she returned inside to disinfect the chair and then waved me in. The door locked behind me. There was very little talk and it was over in a matter of 30 seconds.
  2. I had to pick up some groceries. There was a guard (not very threatening) but was checking for masks and numbers to the Sobeys. Between times, the person was wiping down grocery carts. Another table, another hand sanitizer and I was ready to go. Instead of my usual wander through the store, there were footprints on the floor to guide me up and down the aisles. I didn’t have the urge to do my bit of impulse buying. It was a matter of getting in, finding my stuff, and checking out. Checkout was a little different; they no longer pack your bags as they’re behind plexiglass. So, I packed my own, noting that this was indeed a skill I had not acquired.
  3. Wouldn’t you know it? I should have been done at that point but wasn’t. I needed gas. One final stop was the Circle K/Shell and, unfortunately, pay at the pump was down. So, I pumped my gas, sanitized my hands and then went into the store to pay. Business there seemed to be pretty normal but the clerk was behind plexiglass. Up I went and went to pay; the guy behind the counter reminded me that the lottery pot was pretty high and would I like a ticket. I’m not a big lottery person but I thought that with all the stay at home stuff, maybe sales were down and odds would be up. Equally as quickly, I remembered that payouts aren’t dependent on the number of tickets bought so passed. When i got back to the car, I sanitized my hands with the pump that sits in my drink slot.

Things definitely have changed. These three places have indeed pivoted to their new reality and I’m so thankful and appreciative that these places and workers were doing their part in making life go on for me and I told those than I ran into exactly that.

I paused at the word “pivot”. I was thinking of a blog post from Peter Cameron a while back where he angrily noted

Dear @Sflecce,
Please stop using “pivot”.
We did not pivot (implies a simple, natural step).
We took a giant leap into the unknown.
I’m incredibly proud of all educators in #Onted and around🌎for leaping w both feet, supporting one another and trying so hard to make this work. https://t.co/vU43DfwxeU

— Peter Cameron (@cherandpete) April 18, 2020

The entire blog post can be read here.

All people who are still entitled to work have had their conditions and work environment changed. I zeroed in on education workers.

They’ve had a year of

  • promises of forced professional learning opportunities to teach online yet nobody seems to remember it
  • evaluation of their value
  • a return to work with changes
    • some face to face
    • some partially at a distance
    • some completely at a distance
  • a promise of person to person time even when at a distance
  • parents “in the room” while teaching/learning happens online
  • curriculum content modified to meet the new environment
  • classroom management reaching new challenges
  • another shutdown of school buildings
  • add your own to the list

It hasn’t been easy for anybody. Pivot takes on new meaning depending upon your job and working conditions.

The call to action in all this?

I think that we all need to appreciate the new working conditions for everyone who is able to continue to work. I think we need to thank them at every opportunity.

So…

It’s not debatable


All of us who are connected somehow in the province got this message yesterday.

We all get these messages periodically.

Introduced originally as an amber alert, it was to inform the public of a missing person. I’m one of those who actually read it although the chances of me ever finding a missing person are slim to none. But, just in case…

In recent years, it has taken on a bigger use and now if there’s really wicked weather headed our way, then I get the warning. It still makes me sit up and pay attention just as much as the amber alert does.

This message is a different one.

Obviously, coming from the Ontario Government, they’ve got access to those connected citizens to send out this message. So, just as with an amber alert, I sat up and paid attention. For clarification, I was at home when the message came through.

I’ll admit to being a little angry when I first got it. This really expands the scope of an emergency message beyond what I thought was the original intent. It wasn’t new news to me; I watch the local news at 6:00 and read newspapers and other online sources every morning.

I’m guessing that not everyone does?

Or not everyone is paying attention to the stay at home order which is probably more like it. I wonder though, if you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on to this point, are you more likely to do so because it came across one of your devices?

I hope that the decision to go this route was strongly debated. I would hate to think that this opens the door as a way to regularly reach all citizens. Any teacher will tell you that you can wear out your impact if you use the same technique over and over again.

With so many people connected, we shouldn’t now be asking “What’s the plan, Doug?”

We should all know what the Ontario plan is now. Will it work? We really don’t know. We do know that what we were doing hasn’t worked to date and things are getting worse. We all owe it to ourselves and our neighbours to pull together and see if we can’t slow the spread.

It makes me sad to see that not everyone is willing to give it their entire effort. We sometimes see the mindset that’s embedded with some south of the board about being robbed of freedom of choice when it comes to wearing a mask.

I desperately hope that this works to curb the increase and that people in the province will give it a shot for the next few weeks.

From our perspective, it should not be debatable. In fact, the bottom of my screen tells me that the “Sender doesn’t support replies”.

There will come a time to reply and that will be in the next election. In the meantime, we need to find a plan that works and this is the best game in town.

Money


I could possibly have saved this for a Sunday morning post.

I picked up my wallet this morning and, for some reason, looked at it carefully. I have a habit of taking out the exact same money each time from the ATM so that I could easily determine if someone had hacked me.

My last visit to the ATM was last February. I haven’t been to one since then. And, I still had that last withdrawl complete in my wallet. For the length of COVID, I haven’t spent any actual paper money!

I started thinking and I did spend some coinage at an air pump. I have a flakey tire. But that’s it.

It has actually had some benefit. Our bank advisor had encouraged us to get a Visa card with some impressive benefits for using it. So, using it, we have been. For the most part, before this, we did try to use the card as a last resort and saved the card for gas and major bills. Now, it seems to be the way of doing business.

These days, it’s used for everything. Even something as simple as a couple of coffees at the drive through as we take the dog for a walk on a lonely stretch of beach. It might be more if they only had maple dips …

The big advantage for safety is that everywhere seems to take tap any more rather than forcing a swipe and then keying a PIN. There were a couple of hold outs but they have seen the light and switched. The Canadian Tire gas station now takes tap at the pump which is so easy – except that it doesn’t seem to like Visa. So, I pull out Mastercard which works every time.

Of course, I’m not the only one. Debit and credit seems to be the popular choices by most people these days as we look around.

All of this comes as the government is working to determine who will be on the new Canadian five dollar bill. I kind of wonder if this exercise will be less than game changing. We seem to be setting up for the rest of the year as being precautionary. I know that we’ve changed our philosophy about carrying and using cash. Would we go back?

I’m not so sure.