This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been yet another great week looking at the efforts of Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some inspiring reading to let you appreciate things.


Will This Be On My Report Card?

Throw that question in the same category as “Does this count?” and you’ll have a peek inside the student mind.  I’m sure that we all asked the same question when we were in school so it’s not something new.

Karaline Vlahopoulos shares her thoughts on this and includes a student interaction.

“Miss Karaline, I need to practice writing more. I’m bad at it”.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, because Miss Karaline, I got a 62% in spelling, so that means I’m a bad writer”.

Who hasn’t that conversation?

For Karaline, this takes her on a tour of the pressure put on students and Mental Health.  It will get you thinking.


Digital Citizenship Week

Jennifer Casa-Todd offers some suggestions in this post about Digital Citizenship.  As she notes, thankfully, we’ve got past the concept of scaring Digital Citizenship principles into students.

So, what are the alternatives?

Jennifer has written the book Social LEADia which contains many ideas and this post supplements the materials in her book with links to resources and other ideas.  (link the Twitter and Blog listings of students and the revised ISTE Digital Citizen standards and more)


I Don’t Have Survey Fatigue

When I read the title of Sue Dunlop’s post, I was hoping that it didn’t deal with those goofy surveys that you see online so frequently.  “What is your Viking name?” …

This past year, I’ve completed the Implicit Bias Test , the Quiet Revolution Personality Test (introvert or extrovert?) and most recently, the Strengths Test and the 4Di questionnaire.

And she didn’t.  You can click through and get a sense of what these surveys are about.  I like her rationale about trying to find out the inner Sue and what skills that she has that can contribute towards teamwork.

I had a superintendent once who had us do a couple of these types of surveys and we followed up with a discussion about the results (without getting too personal).  His goal was to try to put together the best team possible as well.


Reflections on #TheMathPod with Cathy Fosnot: The Meaning of Context

voicEd Radio is back with more discussions about the teaching of mathematics with Cathy Fosnot.  The recent show talked about the importance of providing context with activities.

Deborah McCallum took the time to blog about her reflections from the show.

2017-10-19_1431

I suspect that we’re going to hear so much about the “back to basics” approach as well as some of the newer approaches as Ontario revisits things like curriculum and testing.

Deborah hones in on what I think is the most important idea worth understanding for everyone.  That is the sequencing of the rich tasks that students undertake.

This is a good post and those who are following the MathPod would be well advised to give it a read.  And, ideally, write a post or two of their own.


Media Monsters: Harvey, Boycotts, Intersectionality and Slacktivism

Wow, where do you go after a blog post title like that?

That’s not all that Diana Maliszewski addresses either.  She manages to also include jury duty, Marshall McLuhan, her AQ course, and #WomenBoycottTwitter

2017-10-19_1455

As I said, she addresses all of these at a personal and societal level.  I’m impressed with her for taking them all on.

One person may not seem to be able to solve all of these things but let’s not forget Margaret Mead’s message.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

At the end, Diana seems to question herself and I’m sorry to read that.  I don’t think anyone, anywhere should question a decision that they’ve made of solid personal principle.  I’m impressed that she stood for what she believes.


CC and ME

Helen DeWaard is “a Creative Commons teacher.”  I thought that to be an interesting opening statement and anxiously read on to get a sense of where she was coming from.

She does describe the journey.  Attribution is an interesting and important topic.  We lived and died by it as university students.  I would suggest that it was easier then.  We didn’t have the quick and easy access to copy/paste facilities to be able to do all that we can today.  It’s an important topic and one that should be addressed any time that students are asked to create works.

My answer has always been that the first action should be to have students create their own but there are times when you have to go beyond that.  Helen talks about “fair use” and I would have liked her to discuss “fair dealing” as it applies to Ontario teachers.

She does have some questions.  Here are my answers.

How do you attribute the works of others that you include in your own creative works?

I prefer to use a free to use service like morguefile.com but when that doesn’t work, I’ll use a service that creates an attribution to use.  The irony of copying/pasting that isn’t lost on me.

How do you license your creative work to let others know how they can use or share these artifacts?

On my “About” page, you’ll find this.

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Inclusive Classrooms: A Must Do

There’s an interesting introduction to this post and its rationale from Jessica Gladu.

Her words:

Teachers “are expected to deal with more diverse student populations than ever before” (Bennett 1). In preparation for this, a requirement of our B.Ed. is to complete a class called “Inclusive Classrooms”. This two part class focuses on the education of students with exceptionalities and prioritizes strategies that allow for the inclusion of students with exceptionalities in the classroom. This class is an excellent source of information that helps teacher candidates become inclusive classroom teachers.

I hope that the ultimate message isn’t that you can address this in a two part class.  The realities are that, as Jessica notes, there is no such thing as a “regular classroom”.  Heck, students are so dynamic that even a classroom dynamic one day can be completely different the next day.  Understanding the diversity is a daily concern.  Embracing it is the hallmark of a successful teacher.


You got it.  It’s been another wonderful week of insightful posts from Ontario Educators.  Please click through and check out all these posts and drop off a comment or two.

Follow these bloggers!

If you’re an Ontario Education blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

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How fast is that?


One of my little pleasures is going to harness races and watching these magnificent beasts in action.  I prefer Harness racing to Thoroughbred racing since it’s easier to figure out what’s happening.  I don’t have to worry about furlongs/miles and turf versus synthetic track.  The horses all race for one mile.

But it caught up with me last Sunday.  It was the second race and the #5 horse, Jake Parrish looked like this.  (Highlighting mine)

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Depending upon who you talk to, the program tells you everything with all these numbers or it tells you nothing.  I prefer to think the former.

One of the things that you look at when you handicap is the speed of the horse.  In this case, Jake Parrish had times of 1:57 4/5 and 1:55 1/5 at Grand River Raceway.  He then moved to The Raceway in the Western Fair District where he ran 2:06 1/5 and 2:04 1/5.  Those were pretty big differences in speed.  Often, when you see that, it’s a sign that the horse may have some issues and is just having difficulties keeping his speed.

But, that’s not the story in this case.  If you look at the other highlighted area, you’ll see that the races at Western Fair were not at a distance of one mile.  In fact, they were at a distance of 1 1/16 miles.  How do you compare those races with every other horse in the field that had raced at the standard mile?

How much difference does the 1/16 mile make?

It was an interesting challenge.

Generally, 2:00 (2 minutes) is a standard for a harness horse to run a mile.

It would be nice to be able to convert the program time to an equivalent mile time.  Of course, there are other factors like being in shape, the push from the other horses, etc. but at least this would be a starting point.

Like all numbers, it should be easy enough to calculate.  But then, thanks to my mathematics teachers of the past, I realized that the answer might be staring at me in the face.  Leamington is a 1/2 mile track so a race there makes two laps.  So, a single lap would be half a mile.  All things being equal, it should look like this as I work my way to 1/16.

 1   mile - 2:00
 1/2 mile - 1:00 
 1/4 mile - 0:30
 1/8 mile - 0:15
1/16 mile - 0:07 1/2

A horse can run quite a distance in 7 1/2 seconds.

This seems easy enough.  So, that 2:04 1/5 would estimate to 1:56 4/5.  That number is consistent with his past races.  So it looks like he is in racing form.

Is that close enough?  Is there a way to get an exact calculation?

Of course and another thanks to a mathematics teacher.  I just have to divide 2:04 1/5 by 1 1/16.  I’d start by converting minutes and seconds to minutes.  Remember ratio and proportion?  How about improper fractions?  How about invert and multiply?  All of this came rushing back!

I won’t show my rough work but will confess to feeling pretty silly later knowing that I had a calculator and Wolfram Alpha on my phone.  As it turns out, my initial estimation was pretty good.

So, the next time you get the question “When will we need all this?”, you never know where a good example might pop up.

By the way, Jake Parrish won the race and a $2.00 Win wager paid $5.90.

Full results here.

An Interview with Stephen Hurley


Screenshot 2017-10-16 at 12.15.47Stephen Hurley is one of the reasons why I love Twitter and the concept of creating a Personal Learning Network.  I’ve learned so much from him, I’ve driven by his community so many times, and yet we’ve never met face to face.  Yet, I feel like I know him so well.

Stephen is an educator, creator, and above all a thinker whose work and efforts have really pushed my thinking for so long.  For that, I’m so grateful.

Doug:  We’ve certainly never met face to face but we’ve been connected for so long.  Do you recall when our paths first crossed online?

Stephen: It has seemed like close to forever! I believe that we first encountered each other virtually when I began my journey into Internet broadcasting through #ds106radio. That would have been after the very first Unplugged gathering that Rodd Lucier et al convened at the Northern Edge of Algonquin Park. That event led me to Andy Forgrave and so many others.

Doug: One of the areas where you’ve pushed me is in using more than blogs and text has been in the area of multimedia, specifically audio. This certainly has ties to your years in the classroom. Can you share a bit of your background?

Stephen: You know how to get me talking! I realized that I wanted a career in radio when I was in grade 4. It was the mid-60’s, just after the release of the Hall-Dennis Report here in Ontario. Things were changing. I was in an open concept classroom that year and the teacher recognized something about me that led her to hand me a microphone and cassette tape recorder. I recall being allowed to sit in an area of the classroom for hours at a time (well, it seemed like hours) creating my own “broadcasts”. My bedroom at home became my studio. Radio Shack eventually became a second church and I spent years nurturing an appreciation for the sound of the human voice (not just my own). In high school, I listened to talk radio, applied to become a summer reporter with CFRB and wanted desperately to go to Ryerson for Radio and Television Arts (I still long to enrol in that program). At the time, Ryerson was a Polytechnic Institute, and my parents wouldn’t have anything to do with the idea. This, of course, made my passion for this stuff even stronger.

When I finally began a career in education, the love of audio continued to influence how I taught, and how I spent my time preparing for lessons. I used to spend hours during the year and entire days during the summer months at our District AV/Tech facility, looking for multi-media resources, using their technology to create my own resources and imagining how sound, music and video could be combined to create powerful learning experiences. My assignments and projects would always include a multi-media option and I was always excited when students got excited about exploring the tools and technology available to them for creation.

My love and appreciation for media and, in particular, radio has only become stronger and I’m excited that, today, students and teachers have so many more ways to bring a sense of voice to their work!

Doug: You’re very active with the Canadian Education Association. Can you give us an example of some of the things that you contribute there?

Stephen: I encountered the CEA for the first time when I attended one of their annual symposia in Montreal back at the turn of the century. I knew immediately that this was an organization that I wanted to work with at some point in my career, but it wasn’t until a few years later that the opportunity presented itself. I started blogging for Edutopia in 2008 and it was through that work that Max Cooke, communication director for the CEA got in touch with me to do some writing for their magazine, Education Canada. I took that as an opportunity to reconnect with the organization and submitted a proposal to begin a series of podcasts under the banner, Teaching Out Loud. The idea was to raise the voices and stories of educators right across the country. Well, one thing led to another, and I soon found myself working with the CEA on some fairly robust research and facilitation pieces, including Teaching the Way You Aspire to Teach; The Challenge to Change and, most recently, the EdCan Network Regional Exchanges. Each of these projects has allowed me to move across the country and talk to education shareholders at various levels, listening to their aspirational stories and, in a very real sense, help the organization keep its ear to the ground across the country.

Doug: What prompted you to take the leap into voiceEd Radio?

Stephen: Leap is the right word to use. It’s a great description for most things that I do. Sometimes I make it across the moat, and sometimes I don’t! Back in December, I was reading The Age of Discovery by Chris Kutarna. It’s all about how we’re living in a period of Renaissance and there was one line, in particular, that caught my attention and imagination. It had to do with the idea that, in a period of renaissance, the lines between creator and consumer are blurred. Internet radio is one way that the lines between listener and broadcaster have been blurred.

I thought of my foray into the world of Internet Radio a few years ago with #ds106radio.
Something clicked and I quickly began to connect some possibilities.

5 years ago, I started voicEd.ca—a multi-author blogspace dedicated to deepening and broadening some of the conversations that we have about education. It wasn’t a great leap to begin to imagine how that writing space could be transformed by the addition of a radio space.

Within 24 hours, I found myself owning a radio station!

Doug: I was pleased when you asked me to do a regular bit on there and talk about some of the blog posts that I feature on my regular Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”. What made you think of inviting me?

Stephen: That was easy! I had been reading your This Week in Ontario Edublogs feature for a long time and, as I tried to imagine the type of content that we could bring to life on voicEd Radio, you were one of the first people that came to mind. Why couldn’t we use the radio to deepen the story around your featured blogs, their impact and the people behind them. We’ve never met face-to-face, but the weekly conversation make it seem like we’ve known each other for a long time.

Doug: I recall my first attempt at getting connected; I needed to really think about the gear on my end. I had the wrong browser, a microphone that didn’t give the results that you wanted, a reminder to close the door and keep external noises out, and so more including turning the fan off on hot summer days. Now that we have a routine, it’s pretty simple. Just the correct browser and my noise cancelling headphones and I’m good to go. But, things are far more sophisticated on your end. Can you share what’s in your studio to make it work?

Stephen: I broadcast from “the cave” in Milton and it is pretty simple. I have an iMac computer with a 27” screen. That gives me enough visual real estate to keep everything in front of me from a software perpsective.

I also have a PreSonus Firepod that allows me to plug in up to 8 mics. This connects to a simple piece of software called NiceCast. That drives the live broadcasts.

In terms of gathering guests in the room, I use Zencastr as a type of virtual “kitchen table”.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to integrate my electronic music software into the mix in order to create some original intro and outro music for broadcasts.

I’m just starting to gather the resources to allow voicEd Radio to head out on the road. At the beginning of November, we’ll be broadcasting live from 3 separate events, and we’re pretty excited about that!

Doug: The results certainly are very professional and I enjoy digging into the archived programs available on the voiceEd site. As I write this, I’m listening to your interview with Paul McGuire. We’ve chatted and you indicate that this is a personal project of yours. All of the setup is totally funded by you?

Stephen: voicEd Radio is a non-commerical/non-monetized project. Currently, it’s completely self-funded. I’m spending the first year playing with concepts and ideas in an effort to create a sense of value in the community. After our first year anniversary, I will begin looking for alternative structures, some funding models and some governance structures that work for us.

I’m actually looking for folks that might have some interest in helping me imagine how BlockChain technology might allow us to create a different metaphor for funding and value.

Doug: So, it’s a project that’s just gone wild! I do recall a conversation that we had once about the music on voiceEd. Many, including me, might guess that you just take license with YouTube but you go the whole distance with licensing. Can you tell us how and why it’s so important to you?

Stephen: I believe in attribution, but I also believe in making sure that I’m contributing to the livelihood of those artists whose work we use. My work on the Board of Directors for Access Copyright has attuned me to some of the copyright issues that are “out there” in the content ecosystem. It’s very important to me that I’m respecting those conversations, as well as the laws currently in place.

From the very start, we’ve had a non-interactive music license with SOCAN. Under our license, 80% of our station content can be music. We play very little music, with the exception of the work of some education-related singer/songwriters. But we also use music clips for intros and outros.

I’m not sure whether we’re in full compliance, but I’m working to explore with SOCAN what all of this means for us and our podcasters/broadcasters.

Doug: Recently, in looking for new blog posts, I fell into the blog area on voiceEd Radio and recognized some of the names there and found a few new names. What does it take to become a voiceEd Radio blogger?

Stephen: Simply a desire to share your thoughts and ideas in a respectful way. Currently we have contributions from some of our radio personalities, and some folks who would just like to write. I’m working on nurturing the blogging side of things in the months to come.

Doug: You even now have a Community Manager. Can you tell us about her and what her duties are?

Stephen: So, Sarah Lalonde is in the second year of her teacher preparation program at the University of Ottawa. She has been involved with voicEd Radio right from the start and has been instrumental in supporting its development.

Sarah has enthusiastically agreed to be our Community Manager. Sarah has embraced our social media presence, creating promotional materials for a variety of platforms, ensuring that social media announcements are up-to-date and helping me program the live stream each day. She is also a great sounding board for some of the crazy ideas that I sometimes have!

But Sarah is also a wonderful contributor to the voicEd community. She hosts her own podcast, is an active participant in others and is a great advocate for voicEd Radio.

Doug: voiceEd Radio continues to grow and you’ve given us an indication that it will expand again in November. What should be on our radar?

Stephen: As I’m writing this, we have so many exciting projects coming on to voicEd Radio. We have a 4-week series coming up with writer Ann Douglas, a six-week series with an Australian-born parent, Lois Letchford. We’re working with the Ontario Ministry of Education to launch season two of our mathematics exploration with Cathy Fosnot. Nancy Angevine-Sands is coming on to do some work on Parent Engagement and, in November, we’re launching the voicEd Radio Mobile—live broadcasting from events around the province and, eventually, around the world.

But those initiatives don’t tell the whole story. What started as a personal project has turned into a community and voicEd Radio is taking on a life of its own. It’s quickly becoming the open-space environment that I hoped it would become. And, as that happens, my name will fade a little more into the background and others will begin to emerge!

Doug: I am excited that we will actually meet. Plans are for us to do an episode of This Week in Ontario Edublogs live at the Minds on Media event at the Bring IT, Together Conference. It’s one thing to use your home studio but how will you take all this “on the road:?

Stephen: So, we’re looking to use the sound facilities already in place at conferences in events. A small USB interface will allow us to take sound right from the mixing board and feed it into a laptop computer. Then, hopefully, we have a live broadcast. I’m excited to explore, take some video of the process and share that with others.

My dream is to create a cadre of people across the country who would be available to do similar things at events in their areas. If I’m able to get some funding for this, we’ll be able to provide some of that equipment for people.

Doug: Recently, you had a Radio-a-thon at Voiced Radio. What was the inspiration for this? How did it go?

Stephen: Ah, 15 hours straight of live radio. What could be better? This was one of those ideas that came up in conversation over the summer. Several of us were thinking about back-to-school and how we might leverage the excitement of this time of the year to gain some traction for voicEd Radio. We actually had to expand our original plan for 12 hours as the requests to participate kept coming in! So, we began at 9:00 am and held the stream for 15 straight hours. It really solidified the community feel for this place, and we look forward to having more of these events in the future.

Doug: Even though you’ve left formal education, family life keeps you well grounded in the day to day education routine. Here’s a chance to brag about your family that you bring into our show regularly.

Stephen: It is a real gift for me to remain connected to the education system through my two boys, Luke and Liam. They are so different in the way that they approach the world that they’re allowing me to see their school experience from two totally different perspectives. Liam has a really vivid imagination and plans each and every day in his head before it even begins. Luke, on the other hand, is a puzzler—he loves codes, puzzles, intellectual challenges and the like. Both of the boys push the capacity of the system in different ways and it has been interesting to watch them grow from children into students. My wife, Zoe, is a middle school visual arts teacher and allows me to stay connected with the day-to-day life a practicing teacher. I love to think at the 30 000 foot level. My family keeps me close to the ground for at least a few hours a day.

Doug: Do you see a time where voiceEd radio gets too big for you and your Community Manager to manage? What happens then?

Stephen: That’s already started to happen. So, I’m starting to rely more on the community to offer ideas, advice and support. We’re just about to launch a request for voicEd Radio folks to contribute to a series of online tutorials under the “PodCamp” banner. We want to be able to gather together to support people that may want to become part of our radio team, but may be reluctant. Technical support, interviewing skills, bringing ideas to life, etc—these will all be part of what we hope will be a dynamic and vivid set of resources!

I’m also on the lookout for an effective way to grow the infrastructure, so that it continues to draw educators, parents, researchers and community members to this space. Lots of work to do, and lots of thinking to do. But I believe that we’re off to a great start!

Doug: Thank you so much for taking the time to share these details with folks, Stephen. I really appreciate it and I hope that people take the time to listen and perhaps even get involved with voiceEd Radio.

Stephen: I appreciate the opportunity to think out loud about all of this. I would encourage people who want to know more, or who have specific ideas about how they might become involved to reach out. Our tagline at voicEd Radio is: Your voice is RIGHT here!

You can connect with Stephen in these ways:

On Twitter, @Stephen_Hurley and @voicEdcanada
Stephen’s personal website: http://www.stephenhurley.ca/
voiceEd Radio: https://voiced.ca
The voiceEd blog: https://voiced.ca/voiced-blog/

Coding with Emoji


I’ll admit; I was not a fan of drag and drop coding in the beginning.  After all, I learned to program using Fortran and learning that knowing syntax was key to success.  I learned all the instructions and eventually understood all the nuances that can get in the road of a successful program.

Even programming for young students via Logo was text based.  So, there you had it.  Coding = Knowing the Language.  Done.

Even working with HTML was best done with a text editor.  Sure, there were WYSIWYG editors where you could just drop things into place and they worked for about 95% of what you needed.  A tweak here and there often required going into the source code the editor generated to make it perfect.

Well, as we know by now, that mentality has long gone.  There are many drag and drop options; probably Scratch and Blockly are two of the more popular.

Recently, I ran into a site, Codemoji,  that supports and offers courses for HTML, JS, and CSS – using Emojis!  The courses range from Beginner to Expert.  There are options for free access and premium access for a fee.

I really was taken by the environment.  Here’s part of the HTML collection.

Screenshot 2017-10-15 at 09.37.32

It truly is drag and drop from these tools to the work space.  For those of us who like our code, there’s the option to switch to a code only work space to see what these emoji tell the computer to do.  Quite frankly, when you choose an emoji, the description given is among the best descriptions that I’ve seen.  You’ll have to give it a try to appreciate it.

Of course, you’re not limited to just the HTML as part of the playground.  There’s an option to create your own animations (complete with sound effects).

There’s a great deal of fun to be had here; you should check it out.  Oh, and it’s really educational as well.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another issue of This Week in Ontario Edublogs, a chance for me to share some of the great reading that I’ve enjoyed recently.  This week is no different.  Here are some terrific blog posts to enjoy.

Don’t be intimidated even if it is Friday the 13th.


Why do we need heroes?

So many schools in Canada use September as a chance to celebrate the Marathon of Hope and Terry Fox.  This post from Heidi Solway is a wonderful post sharing her thoughts about Terry Fox as her personal hero and the need for all of us to have heroes.  What makes it so important, particularly since the Marathon was a long time ago, is that there are times where students need to be assisted in finding their own heroes.  Left to their own choices, they may be overly influenced by other things.

Heidi also shares a beautiful poem that she penned personally.  On the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio program, Stephen Hurley and I talked about all this.  As we turned to this poem, I’ll admit to choking up and shared the moment with Heidi.  She noticed it as she listened to the program!


We have the technology…We can build Schools of the Future

I was a bit skeptic when I read the title to Ramona Meharg’s post.  Heck, we’ve had “the technology” for years and the schools that we see today are the future that that technology has built.  Are they significantly better?  A case could be made that they’re actually worse today.  We now have environments where parts of the technology have been locked out or disabled by IT Departments.  It’s a survival mechanism for them since we have so much technology and they’re charged with keeping it functional.  We also have school systems that buy it as quickly as they can without providing quality professional learning to go along with it.

Beyond the technology of things, Ramona talks about the technology of humans which makes the concept so much more appealing and obtainable.  She talks about what’s possible when you marry the technology of stuff with the technology of humans.

The result?

Students would be banging down our doors, begging to come in and learn. I wanna teach at THAT school.

Doesn’t everyone?


One Month In…

… only nine more to go?

Jennifer Aston takes us into the reality of her September.  As a secondary school teacher, the concept of “reorganization” was foreign to me but even I have empathy for someone who goes from a class of 23 in Grade 6 one day to 30 in a 5/6 split the next day.

Read about her story and the technology that she has lined up to help her meet expectations from two grades.

I went through elementary school in split classes.  We were told that the logic of being in the split class as opposed to the other straight class was that we were thought to be motivated, self-starters.  I’m almost positive that I shouldn’t have been in that category!  But it’s easy to see that technology support should make management of things easier.

The neat thing is that student blogging is on her horizon.

Sounds like things are going to be exciting in her class.


Are We Enabling Students to be Explorers of Deep Learning?

I’d hazard a guess that, if you asked every teacher that question, just about everyone would say “Yes, of course”.

Rola Tibshirani talks about what it means to her and offers three other questions.

  • How have we been shaping up the learning?
  • How are students owning the process?
  • How are students focusing on a purpose for their learning?

I think these are better questions.  I really like the examples that she shares.  They’re simple concepts but require some really deep thinking, research, and understanding.  They’re also grounded in culture, empathy, and a scenario that I would guess most students would never have personally experienced.

Some worked on designing a toy for children in refugee camps. The teams who are working on science began exploring the design thinking process by looking at an injured bird with a missing a leg.

Lots of pictures and descriptions go along with her reflection.


On Connections and being Connected

Peter Cameron was on voicEd radio and the discussion got around to talking about “connections” and “being connected” via Derk Rhodenizer’s #WordinProgress show.

I think what I am having difficulty understanding is the difference between how be define a “connection” and a “relationship”.

To me, the answer looks pretty easy.  You can have “connections” to basically anyone.  Or, anything.  But a “relationship” or “being connected” means so much more.

To me, it implies that there’s a give and take and both (or all) parts of those “being connected” are all the richer for the experience.  A “connection”, on the other hand, could be a one sided interaction where the value is siphoned off in one direction only.

I think the concept gets blurred because there are people who self-identify as “connected educator” or “connected learner” where, in reality, they may take things in but contribute nothing back in return.


Exploding Dots for Global Math Week

You’re probably aware of Exploding Dots if you’ve been following Global Math Week.

Kyle Pearce write a rather lengthy post chocked full of ideas and activities to support things from his end.

2017-10-12_0841

Dig in.

Mathematics can and should be fun.


Twitter, Educators and Dissent

I’ve been in a lot of Twitter chats and online discussion where the duration of the talk can be, oh, ten minutes or so.  Some Twitter chats force it to an hour with a Q&A format which allows everyone to come in and show their knowledge by entering as much edubabble as they can.

But, last weekend, a provocation from Paul McGuire turned into a three day marathon discussion where everyone was shooting from the hip.  It didn’t matter what time of the day or night you looked into the stream, there was always an interesting discussion.  sans hashtag too.

It inspired me to write a few posts summarized what I gleamed from the discussion.  Paul wraps up his thoughts in this post and gives credit to many of the participants.

And, it all started with a simple question.

What does Twitter do for educators? Content creation? Constructive feedback? Displaying work? Ideas? https://t.co/iUZ5TeBg9D via @mcguirp

— Paul McGuire (@mcguirp) October 8, 2017

In the post, you’ll find a link to a Storify document that Paul generated to keep the discussion in one place.  I think it would be an interesting exercise to diagram the discussion as well.

Is there a tool already created to do that?  Please let me know of one if it exists.


There are always great things coming from the blogs of Ontario Educators.  I keep that Livebinder updated as I find new content but I can’t find them all.  Please use the form there and add your own if it’s not there.  And, if you find a blog post from an Ontario Educator that you think should be highlighted in this weekly post, please let me know.

Your call to action – click through and read all of these wonderful blog posts.  Share one of them with colleagues.  Together, we can build groups of fans to support these wonderful thought leaders.

The kids are alright


I think this probably happens to everyone who ever was a teacher.  You’re in a public place and this person comes up to you like a long lost friend and you start to talk and get caught up.  It’s neat when it happens; in the context of this post, that person was a student I had years ago.

When I started teaching, I was only a few years older than the Grade 12 students in my class so it’s interesting to make reconnections years later.  They have grown up and matured.  I am positive that I haven’t.

So, the conversation went something like this…

Mr. Peterson – do you remember me?  (like we all remember every student we ever had!)

I stared a minute and it finally clicked in.  Yes, you’re xxxxxxxx!  How are you?

If this ever happens to you, you get bonus points for remembering the name.  In this case, I was at least a +10 because I recalled a few personal interactions that we had had as well.  Ironically, not in class but on the football field.

We chatted a few minutes about the good old days, talked about his family a bit, and then the question …

So, are you still into computers?

Yes, I poke around a bit.

We chatted a bit about how technology has changed over the years from little ol’ B41 and then it was time to move on.

Quite honestly, I was on a bit of a high for a moment feeling pretty good that I had remembered his name.  Like most things, the high kind of faded on the drive home and then was gone completely.

Until I logged into Facebook.

I had this friend request from the former student.  Where are all the advisories about friending students?  Probably the statute of limitations has expired.  After all, this person was a married working individual with children.

And a lot of Facebook friends!  In fact, we had three friends in common.

That was enough curiosity to have me click to find out who we knew in common.  What happened next was totally unexpected.

Beneath the friends that we had in common, I recognized another student name.  And another one.  I scrolled a bit more and saw a lot of names from the past.  This was actually kind of neat.  It was like the graduate reunion that has never happened.

But what was even neater was that many of them had complete profiles and Facebook provides a two line summary of them  As I looked, I got a glimpse of where they lived (some locally, some had moved away) and sometimes an idea of where they worked.

This struck me as pretty interesting.  So often, graduation night is the last time you typically see most of your students.  Sure, you run into a few here and there but this was intriguing.

It put real meaning into this quote.

Thanks, Brainy Quote

Yeah, it can happen


The timing of this news story is appropriate given the recent Twitter discussions.  (See my posts from the past couple of days)  One of the points made was that teacher do have support from their federations; administrators don’t. It reinforces a couple of points that were made.

  • How does this apply to the use of Twitter?
  • Someone monitors staff Twitter messages.

And the story …

ESPN suspends Jemele Hill over NFL tweets

The article mentions that it’s the second violation of the company’s social media policy.  We’re going to hear about this for a while, I suspect.

The key to this is that it was the second violation of the policy.  To me, that implies that there was obviously a first violation, presumably an awareness made to what the policy is, and that this second violation was deemed to required further action on the part of the employer.

And there’s a policy.  Presumably the policy outlines what’s appropriate and draws a line over which employees should not step.

It’s difficult to know where that line actually is.  Is it subject to a particular whim of a boss or to someone who might be having a bad day?  Is it subject to interpretation?

You can’t help but tie this back to the conversation that Paul McGuire started.  Read my last two posts if you’re not up to speed.

I would think all of this would lead to some soul searching.

  • Does your employer have a social media policy?  If so, when was the last time you looked at it?
  • Is there a clearly defined line of appropriateness?  If not, why not?
  • Are you prepared to see if you can find that line?

I think that there are some pretty easily defined lines.

  • Engaging in a racial discussion gone ugly
  • Show pictures of students on social media if it’s prohibited by policy
  • Put any student at risk because of your actions
  • Taking any issue to a heightened personal level
  • Engage in illegal conversations

Then, there’s the fuzzy line drawing that drew considerable discussion recently.  To what level can you criticize decisions made by the employer that you don’t agree with?  Can you reach too far?

Unfortunately, we live in a time where people actively are challenging the line or, if you’re in a position of authority, go way beyond the the line.  We’ve come to expect this level of social media use.  Does it set a new level?  Or does it reinforce the notion that we should stay clear of that line?

Or, maybe most importantly, perhaps social media isn’t the forum to have these discussions after all.