This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Around here, someone flipped the switch and now it’s fall. The warm days went away, replaced by cooler ones. Crickets are everywhere; there actually have been a couple of nights where we closed the windows to keep the noise down!

Not noise, but great commentary from Ontario Edubloggers it the focus of this regular Friday morning post. Please enjoy.


Calendar

As a secondary school person, it was culture shock when I visited primary classrooms, often at “Calendar Time”. It was always a big deal and I remember students highly interested in having their voice heard.

Now considerably older, calendars are important – in my digital life although This Week in Ontario Edublogs and Walk the Dog are the only two recurring events. That, and birthdays. I don’t really need that; we have a calendar on the fridge and the rules is that if it isn’t in the calendar, it won’t happen.

I remember that the calendar templates in Microsoft Publisher were crowd pleasers in the schools!

In this post, written before her teaching assignment was confirmed, Lisa Corbett shares her thoughts about the important of calendar with Grade 2 expectations. And, perhaps a different approach for doing calendars this year…


Back to School Thoughts

It was great to see Jennifer Aston back at her blog. This is another post talking about the nervousness before the return to school. She seems to have a great summer that included some camping. More on this later.

She speaks for so many educators when she lets loose about her frustrations with the Ministry of Education and the approach taken to re-opening schools that, by most accounts, excluding talking with teachers.

What a missed opportunity to work together for our deserving children!  

Besides being a teacher, Jennifer is also a mother and is very aware that emotion and words can be heard at times from an unexpected audience.

Dwelling on the negatives can really bring one down and so she does talk about some of the very positive things that she’s expecting for September. Way to go.

Back to camping; there are a number of ways to take a holiday this year – staycations (for the most of us), going to a cottage (which can be like a home away from home including internet access), or going camping. Now, camping is all over the map in terms of experience but part of it is maintaining a safe site, cooking outside, etc. I wonder if students who camped to survive the summer will be tougher when back in the classroom?


Don’tMessWithTheShield: A Little Unexpected, Humorous Teacher Inquiry

Aviva Dunsiger takes us on a little adventure with her experiences with a mask and a shield. Like all of us who wear glasses, fog becomes a very distinct enemy. Of course, I had to think about the Andy Reid shield wearing at the Kansas City football game.

Imagine teaching a class of kindergartners through that fog!

Now, I hope that my friendship with Aviva withstands this comment but she seems to be in the shield modification skill department like how she describes her ability to park. Love you, Aviva.

You might smile as you read this but I’ll bet you can see yourself doing exactly what she tried to do.

Thankfully, she had a VP with a replacement shield to save the day.


Rollercoaster

Diana Maliszewski takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that so many Ontario educators can empathize with. She found out on Thursday, September 10 what her teaching assignment would be. Think about the date and the fact that normally, school would have started September 8. Over the prior summer, teachers are likely to be engaged in planning and collecting resources for the fall.

If you’re a user of a school library, this will break your heart.

The big picture here, and Diana spells it out, is that she’s had at least a part timetable as a Teacher-Librarian for her entire career. She didn’t use the role as a selfish way to avoid teaching kids; she’s been an advocate and poster child for the transition from libraries as a repository of books to the Learning Commons that we take for granted these days.

More than that though, Diana has been a leader, coach, critical friend, presenter, advocate, champion for technology and libraries. She’s been a mainstay presenter with subject associations like the OSLA and ECOO. She refuses to accept the status quo.

The TDSB has elected to not fund Learning Commons this year.

That places Diana in a full time teaching situation; a 6/7 split. She has three concerns that she outlines in the post. All three are legitimate concerns and I wish her all the best as she undertakes this new reality.

Once she settles in, I know that she will recognize that her years of being a connected educator has made her so many connections and her above average ability to curate resources (check out her wikis) will serve her well.

I also hope that subject associations which have thrived because of the contributions of educators like Diana are there with real resources to assist this year.


Are We Prepared To Be Doing The Same Learning In The Future?

This essay from Rola Tibshirani should be required reading for everyone who emerged from the spring of emergency learning depressed.

Rola uses this post to share her insights into how things went well in her classroom and I suspect many other classrooms. It’s easy to focus on the challenges and certainly there were so many. Rola observes:

Our ecosystem during the emergency remote learning grew stronger due to the established partnership with parents and the students.

It was a slide/transition from regular classroom to teaching online. Rola observes that her success emerged from those idea connections that were already in place. I would suggest stepping back from your current reality and think objectively about what actually happened last spring.

Could your classroom be as successful as hers?

She provides a large list of events about learning, well being, and resilience.

It is so inspirational.


Talk Me Through Your Process

Any time you can take a significant educational think online, be open and collaborative, only good things can happen.

And, good things should emerge from this new intiative that Roland Chidiac describes in this post. In collaboration with Chris Cluff and Ramona Meharg, he introduces us to a new podcast devoted to getting Principal qualifications.

The podcast is a great tool to assist us in sharing our perspectives, learning from each other, and learning from others outside of our immediate circle. We are modeling our process in a public way with the hope that it will start up great discussions and encourage others to do the same. As my friend Joe Marquez likes to say, education is a collaborative sport! 

The concept sounds very interesting and the timing may well be perfect for those who are interested in this leadership role in education.


ADAPTING LESSON PLANS FOR ONLINE TEACHING

There are a lot of students whose family has elected to have them start this fall learning online. So many, in fact, that many newly created online schools have a delay in starting that put them behind the starting date for those going face to face.

As we learned last spring, there is a significant different between teaching face to face and teaching face to Zoom/Meet/Skype/Teams.

Like all things educational, engagement is a huge factor for success. Writing for the ESLOntario blog, Azi Pordel shares thoughts about the use of Microsoft Powerpoint or slides in general in the classroom for engagement. Tips on design and the rational behind slide design and process are discussed.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and enjoy all of these blog posts.

Then, make sure that you’re following these educators on Twitter.

  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Jennifer Aston – @mme_aston
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • TESL Ontario – @teslontario

This is an original blog post from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Zoe Branigan-Pipe was the guest host on the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show this week. Our paths have crossed so many times in the past. Probably our biggest togetherness was hosting the Great OSLA Faceoff, repeated again for an ECOO conference, and then for a local elementary school. She was interviewed for this blog here and you can check out a picture of the Beauty and the Beast.

So, it was nice to chat again; normally, we would meet up at the annual ECOO conference but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year. For me, the big value of spending money on professional learning comes from face to face connections.

Zoe has been a long time social media leader; she’s like the poster child for making authentic connections. And, of course, she’s among the amazing group of Ontario Edubloggers.


BlackLivesMatter. No Time for Silence.

We started the show by taking a look at Zoe’s post. I was quite surprised when she mentioned that she had to tone it down upon advice from colleagues that it might not go over well with others in her district. I found this disturbing in the summer of 2020.

What remains is a post full of links to resources across the web. Teachers who are looking at addressing Black Lives Matter in their classrooms this year would find this a treasurer trove of content.

Some of it will take some modification for a particular purpose in an Ontario classroom but the gold comes from the resources developed by ETFO linked to by Zoe.


#ETFOProud

Speaking of ETFO, the Heart and Art Blog features a new blogger this week, Velvet Lacasse.

The post was essentially an introduction to Velvet post but I had a Wayne’s World moment when I read her thoughts about becoming a Union Steward in her first year of teaching. There’s no way that I could have found the time to do that.

In my first year, OSSTF was just a deduction from my paycheque until the New Teachers’ Night where I learned a little bit more about what District 34 was all about. Eventually, I did become part of the Collective Bargaining Committee but I wouldn’t have dreamed it for my first year in the profession. Her observations about attending the Annual Meeting is bang on. You get the real provincial perspective there.

Velvet brings a wealth of social activism to the blog and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.


Education Will Never Become What It Should Be Until It Is Freed From Politics

This blog post, from Tim King, is about as long and involved in content as the title of the post. TLDR; is this statement.

To further complicate things, education is run by politicians. 

That sets the stage as Tim pulls apart so much of what’s actually going on and what could be happening. Of course, this would only happen if decisions were based upon the advice of those educators that are actually in the classroom. As we’ve seen this summer, that’s so far removed from what we see about the decision making process.

As an almost daily follower of the 1:00pm Premier news conference, I keep waiting for something other than “best plan in Canada”, “we spent this much money”, “union bosses are the problem”, etc. Sadly, it doesn’t come.

Tim sees a world where education is best served by a removal from political connections. This is firmly embedded in the BNA Act and so it won’t be happening any time soon. Besides, what’s an election campaign without addressing education?

It’s still a good read and I’m sure that many educators will agree with Tim’s points so it’s comfortable that someone has taken the time to write them out. At the same time, it’s just difficult to ever see significant change being made.

Unless we create the “Teachers’ Party” and somehow get the majority of seats.


Math Games – building a foundation for mathematical reasoning

I have a fondness for mathematics and really enjoy posts like this from Mark Chubb and others in the mathematics education realm. I do check out the links to the resources that are shared.

Now, I’m old enough to remember multiplication charts and memorization. I remember doing word problems ad nauseum; I knew enough about mathematics to recognize when my teacher really knew her/his stuff and when they were struggling to get by.

When I think back, mathematics was always about gaming for me. Like any good game, there was a real sense of accomplishment when you got it right. It was almost strategic. I never did tests top down; I picked and chose those questions that I knew I’d be successful with.

While it was about gaming, I don’t recall actually playing something that might formally be defined as a game. That’s a relative new concept and today’s student has that advantage with the wise teacher picking and choosing the best of the best from so many choices.

In this post, Mark shares a number of games that are worth evaluating for your own classroom. I like the reference to using them as part of a distance learning program; may you elementary teachers not need to consider that this school year.

Yet, there’s something about a hip pocket.


Let’s Get Explicit

In a million years, I don’t think I would have made the connection between Open Educational Practices and hip hop artists on my own.

But, Terry Greene does in this post and it’s a fun read. He addresses the five essential elements of hip hop.

  • Lyricism (Rapping)
  • Turntablism (DJing)
  • Breaking
  • Graffiti
  • Knowledge of history

I immediately zeroed in on the concept of “turntablism” but I shudder when I think of using my own personal record collection…

For those in this world with Terry, there’s an element of wisdom and reality in each of these elements. The biggest message is that the same ol’, same ol’ doesn’t have to continue.

Your first inclination might be to take a pass on this post but at least give it a read and see another side of teaching.

Warning, Terry uses bad words in this post.


What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Education loves a good buzzword. Recently, I ran across this

15 Words Teachers Officially Never Want to Hear Again

If you check it out, you’ll find a collection of words that you’ve probably heard from a keynote speaker somewhere. They have this ability at times to use words and make it part of their presentations and you feel badly that you didn’t know that.

Then, there are some words where you need to sit up and pay attention to. Deborah Weston takes on new terminology that we’re going to see in Ontario Curriculum as it’s revised, starting with the new Mathematics Curriculum, addressing mental health.

Deborah digs into the roots of this and shares her thoughts. A note that should make you sit up and notice

SEL is now also a distinct section of the updated curriculum

She does a nice job of stepping through the curriculum pointing out where it occurs in the elementary school curriculum, by grade. The question whether or not it’s a learning skill or will have to be reported on separately is addressed from her perspective and offers come questions for the future.


Footage of the Falls: Back Then and Now

You know, if I lived in Northern Ontario, I’d visit visit Kakabeka Falls regularly. As a family, we’ve been there a few times – once going to the Calgary Stampede, a couple of times on the way to relatives in Minneapolis, and a couple of times just as a married couple looking for an interesting place to camp. I can agree that there are all kinds of things out and about at night!

As Sheila Stewart notes, it never gets old. Our context these days from Southern Ontario is visits to Point Pelee, Erieau, and the “Niagara of the South”.

What a find it must have been to have discovered some footage from the 1950s and, in the spirit of good sharing, doing some editing and putting it on YouTube.

Much more commonly are modern videos of Kakabeka Falls.


Thanks to these terrific bloggers for continuing to share their thoughts and ideas in their blogs so that we can all share in the learning.

Make sure that you’re following them all on Twitter.

  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Velvet Lacasse – @velvet_lacasse
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Ontario voices


If you listened to This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio yesterday morning, you would have heard Stephen and me make reference to a new series of podcasts that Stephen was involved with.

Stephen was commissioned (volunteerissioned?) by ECOO to have interviews with a number of Ontario educators who are on the front lines, teaching in these challenging times. The series is titled Ontario: Learning Together at Home.

I did know that Aviva Dunsiger had been on the podcast as I’d already listened to her thoughts and that was all that was posted.

Soon, a number of other podcasts appeared

  • Aviva Dunsiger
  • Tim King
  • Jason Trinh
  • Colin Jagoe
  • Alanna King
  • Danika Tipping

The list of names wasn’t terribly surprising. Many of the individuals have been presenters at provincial conferences for years. Jason was a new name for me so I listened to him with extra interest. To this point, he was a name on one of my Ontario Educator lists. Now, I know a great deal more about the gentleman.

I found their insights interesting. They come from different disciplines and panels (I was surprised there weren’t more elementary educators). Even geographically, they were nicely spread across at least Southern Ontario. Of course, the husband and wife team are a great deal closer!

Stephen let it slip that there’s another one in the pipeline.

Their stories are short and I think you will immediately empathize with them. They do reveal some important insights about how they’re getting through the current situation.

I would encourage you to visit the voicEd Radio site and listen to one or more of these. It’s a nice reminder that all teachers are on this ship together.

On a personal note, as a person who doesn’t get out much these days, it was absolutely terrific to hear all these recognizable voices again and visualize them in the rolls that they describe. I’ve been in sessions led by them all. Thank you to each of you so much for sharing your stories.

Pounding the streets of St. Marys


It couldn’t have happened better if it was planned!

As regular readers know, yesterday I was inspired to look back on My Childhood Community as inspired by Zoe Branigan-Pipe’s Twitter messages on the weekend.  It was a fun look back at things.

Daily, I’m in contact with Former ECOO President Peter McAsh and a while back he shared with me a project that he was working on for the town of St. Marys.  My knowledge of the place actually does go back to my childhood and playing baseball there. We were positive that you could hit a home run over the fence into the quarry.  Our efforts really fell short! A frequent truck that we would see would carried the name St. Marys Cement. That’s pretty much all that I knew although I’ve dropped in to see Peter a couple of times and have taken mini-tours trying to figure out how to get to his place!

Anyway, to the project and why featuring it is a nice followup to yesterday’s post. As Peter had been developing it, I was his ongoing tester.

Along with the help of Amy Cubberley, Peter has constructed a Heritage Walking Tour of St. Marys.

Now, Amy is a Curator & Archivist and that gives her access to a lot of historical and modern images from about the town.  Peter used her assistance to create this walking tour.

All you have to do is visit the site at the link above.  Wander your way around the town and click on the bookmarks to see what they reveal.

Oh, look, a library!

Peter used the free ArcGIS Story Maps utility to create this tour.  Now, it’s online and visible to the world to help promote the town of St. Marys.  Can you find the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum?

Peter has long reminded me that he’s a Geography major as his first choice and he uses his skills here to develop this walking tour.

If you and your class are looking for a social studies / geography project, could this fit the bill?  And, if you’re interested in pounding the streets of St. Marys when all this stay at home stuff is over, bookmark the link.

In the meantime, you can take the tour virtually on this site.

Professional learning changing


We had another mixed emotion day here on Sunday.  There was a birthday in the family. Normally, we’d all gather somewhere and celebrate.  Of course, in these days, celebrations have to take on a different form and we adapted. We celebrated but a family grouping in Zoom just isn’t the same.

It’s not just family celebrations, of course, that are hurting.  

There are professional learning events as well.  It seems to be a little funny to discuss these things when schools aren’t even in operation but here we are.  The biggest technology conference sponsored by ISTE (International Society for Teachnology in Education) has announced that it’s re-scheduling its annual conference to November.  https://conference.iste.org/2020/attend/COVID19.php

I wonder if the big crowds that normally attend will do so this year with the change.  Educators and vendors from everywhere descend there. I’ve been to many and have made many enduring friendships over the years.  It’s so expensive to attend between registration, hotels, and flights to get there but I’ve always found a way to make it happen.  The only one that I ever drove to was years ago in Minneapolis and we turned that into a family visit. I keep hoping that some day they’ll see the light and recognize that Detroit has a superb facility right down on the river.  

I wonder about the “getting” to the conference though.  I know that, from here, it would be a four hour plus flight to California.  After September 11, the airline industry really changed. Because of the current fear of spreading disease, airlines are going to need to up their game again ensuring safe seating and safe air for breathing in their airplanes.  Add to that the wait at security and the large gatherings in airports where these areas are like the anti-social-distancing model.

But, kudos for having a plan and communicating it with the world.

A similar challenge has faced the CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association).  As with ISTE, they have an annual conference in the summer. This year’s conference was scheduled to be held in Arlington.  Plans for a face to face conference have changed and the conference will now be held virtually. https://csteachers.org/Stories/we%E2%80%99re-going-virtual

Both organizations are committed to the concept of providing professional learning to their members.  There is a danger in missing a year. People tend to forget and move on to alternatives. There’s much to be said for loyalty.  

Just recently, I got a message out of the blue asking me when the BIT20 Conference would be.  I’m certainly not in the loop these days other than by clicking on the website but can offer some thoughts.

As a former President of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, I wonder about the logistics of our normal November conference here in Ontario.  If there is any professional learning money left, will it still be directed to the benefit of Ontario educators?

A couple of years ago, we experimented with a new concept – #ECOOcamps.   The idea was to hold a professional event on a Saturday with a minimal cost to teachers.  It would be held locally – our case in Owen Sound and really celebrate the expertise of those local educators.  We had tremendous support from the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board and Bluewater District School Board. From my perspective, it went over well (who can forget the weather?) – and over well enough that it was repeated the following year and expanded to Peterborough.  The design was to fit into the middle between an EdCamp and a formal conference. It included keynotes, exhibitors, breakout sessions, informal sessions, breakfast/lunch and no hotel stay all for the price of $25.

In a perfect world, we’d be hearing about a gearing up for an #ECOOcamp and the Bring IT, Together conference itself with calls for proposals, etc.  The website currently has a thank you for attending last year – https://bringittogether.ca/.  

ECOO has had an annual learning event(s) since its inception.  It’s an opportunity for Ontario Educators to get together and share best practices with each other and push each other to greater things.  As I look at the picture on the website, I really do enjoy viewing people that I know or at least recognize. They represent the best for looking for great ideas for the use of technology in Ontario schools.  I can give you a long list of people that I look forward to reconnecting with every year. Plain and simple, it’s just the place where we’re all together in one spot.

Certainly, we’re living in challenging times and educators have been challenged in ways like never before.  They really need to see that their professional association has their backs in some manner so that the quality learning, in whatever form it might take, continues.

Can anyone share the status of other conferences from your professional associations? We do live in a time like no other with schools on hold. As a person who has always thrived on learning opportunities, I hope that the powers that be find some way to make them continue.