The value of a network


According to Twitter, I’ve had an account since 2007. Before that, I took the traditional approach to learning.

That typically meant signing up for courses, taking workshops, going to conferences, and doing a lot of error and trial. With my background, my focus typically was education, technology, and technology in education. I make no apologies for that. That was my job and I’d do anything (well many things) to stay on top of things. I shudder when I look at some “leaders” who are still mired with approaches of years gone by.

Being a member of Twitter changed all that although not much in the beginning. A Twitter account only works when you follow and interact with smart people. A trite phrase back then was “the smartest person in the room is the room”. I still see it these days but it had a more special meaning for me back then.

These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings. My routine for learning involves a number of things but I really value the inspiration that appears in those lists.

In addition to letting the lists generate content, I’ve started paper.li documents for each of the lists. Daily, it pulls together inspirational content from members and puts them in a newsletter format. On my timeline, it will look something like this.

These documents provide such a wealth of information. Just click the link in the Twitter announcement above. I’d be lying if I told you that I read them from cover to cover although I try my best.

From these, I get a sense of what’s relevant enough from others to share it along with a continuous feed of news stories. They’re not always about technology or education and that’s a good thing. We all like following politics.

Here’s a perfect example of some learning that I was only able to have as a result of someone sharing it and paper.li making it part of a document.

Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

Click through for the entire graphic and story.

For those that think they know everything, it really should be a humble realization that there is so much available to learn. It brings back another old trite phrase “the internet is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant”.

For those who are not connected, this should serve as motivication to get connected and connected to wise people. I so value those in my lists or, as I like to call them, “Active Ontario Educators”.

The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.

Of course we live in interesting times. These times, technology, and education are not sitting still for anyone. We all need techniques to try and stay in sight of things. This is one of the ways that I do it myself.

Going back


I didn’t get the email.

But my friend Peter McAsh did and Slacked me to see if I’d got it.

RETIRED TEACHERS CALLED ON TO RETURN TO CLASSROOMS DURING THE PANDEMIC

I was intrigued. All those holidays, two months off in the summer, salary of over $100K … what’s not to like?

Maybe they have standards now and that’s why I didn’t get the email? Or, actually, maybe the email address that I have on record with them isn’t one that I use anymore. Bingo. I was able to log in to the Ontario College of Teachers website but as a retired educator, there aren’t many options available, including updating your email address.

But I still was intrigued so I looked to see if there were any Computer Science jobs in either of the two English language school boards. Nope. The only thing would be to get placed on an Occasional Teacher list and then hope to get called for a coverage.

So, at least locally, the headline is a bit misleading.

It got me thinking of the post yesterday from Paul Gauchi who is unable to get a job and remains an Occasional Teacher. Maybe this is an opportunity for him.

I think that it’s interesting that the “offer” is going out to retired teachers. By our nature, we’re actually in one of the higher risk categories for catching COVID-19. In the meantime, I turn to social media where there’s a great deal of traction on the topic, calling it a money grab for the OCT. Just an informal contact with people I know doesn’t reveal anyone who is interested in becoming an Occasional Teacher. For some, it could be “again”. One of the topics that was not addressed was the limitation on days that retired teachers could be hired before it impacts their pension. When last I checked, you are limited to 50 days per school year.

The whole situation, it seems to me, is another side effect of a badly planned re-opening of schools plan. Those retirees that I remain in contact with are taking safety in the age of COVID-19 very seriously. I don’t see a big run of people taking up this offer.

See the discussion on Twitter.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Not surprisingly, there is a focus on teaching in these troubled times on the posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I’ve tried to bring a bunch of them together for your Friday and weekend reading.


One Size Fits All, Even When It Doesn’t

Tim King leads off with a confession that he has a big head. I hadn’t noticed. The point of Tim’s post was that he requires a medical mask and couples that with sinus issues to make things ugly. The mask isn’t sized to accommodate him and that makes for an uncomfortable day.

Couple that with the life of a technology teacher in a warm shop area setting up and dealing with the tech and you get the picture that he’s trying to paint.

The plot thickens as the topic turns to computer technology and his need to fix things so that his students have a place to work. Renewed Computer Technology of Ontario may be part of the answer to his dilemma of getting parts these days.

Then, there’s the whole concept of the long, extended class periods and the need for a break …

I suspect that Tim speaks for hundreds of educators across the province.


I’m on the phone

Amanda Potts tells of a story that I can only interpret as loneliness in the days of school building re-opening.

So, we know that social distancing is the rule these days but this is how it plays out for an LST.

“Hello, this is Amanda Potts, calling from Canterbury High School. I’m your child’s Learning Support Teacher this year. Is this a good time to talk about their IEP?”

It’s just her and parents on these calls when she gets a request from a colleague. Of course, it’s from a distance but can’t be entertained as she’s setting the stage for her parents and the students she’ll be supporting.

Although I’m sure that it adds another level of concern, I like the fact that she’s concerned about family life as she calls to talk to parents.

I just have this vision of going into B41 and working on things in the summer all by myself. A school or a classroom without students is really a lonely place.


School Online – Journal – Day 12

Terry Whitmell has a collection of blog posts that’s documenting her experiences and observations for re-opening in her part of the world. She is one of a team of principals for online learning in Peel.

I think we’ve all read and heard about stories of teachers who didn’t have classes or timetables ready to go. Here’s a look from the other side.

However, with student timetables a priority, the entry of teachers next to courses didn’t begin until near the end of the day, and is ongoing as I write.

I used to help our principal and vice-principal with timetabling and conflicts can be maddening. Sometimes, it takes a second set of eyes to see something that was staring right at you! She also takes into consideration teacher preferences. It’s an interesting read – particularly if you think that it’s all computerized and all that’s necessary is to click on GO to make the magic happen.

Of course, there are all the technical nerdy things that students will have to learn like the choice of LMS and video conferencing software – I can’t believe that the system offers a choice. Despite that, her wish is for community building first.


Friday Two Cents: Be Grateful

Lest we think that it’s just teachers and principals that are affected with everything that’s going on, Paul Gauchi reminds us that there are others in the system too.

He’s a long term occasional teacher and has been watching the comments coming from teachers in the classroom.

However, the more I read posts on social media and hear stories from them, the more I cannot be silent.

He’s taking on those who have complained about:

  • having to wear PPE
  • having collapsed classrooms
  • teaching a new grade level

and reminds us that there are many out there still looking to get hired.


Managing virtual and in-person synchronous instruction

I’m not the only one who uses dog-walking time to do some thinking. Jennifer Casa-Todd recently did the same sort of thing. She’s collaborating with a group of teacher-librarians to provide a resource for their teachers, doing their teaching online. I’m hoping that she looks at the resource that Elizabeth Lyons created (and I shared on this blog earlier this week). It would be a nice product to replicate and provide additional local resources.

She brings into the conversation a number of technical solutions, all the while in typical Jennifer style, keeping students at the centre of the conversation.

  • Peardeck
  • Padlet
  • Jamboard

Those are leading products in their genre but certainly aren’t the only ones.


Why Do We Share As We Do?

I enjoyed reading this post from Aviva Dunsiger. It’s a question that people asked “back in the day” when social media was new as a way to justify diving in.

In her post, Aviva shares her reasons for sharing

  • We share this way because it allows kids and families to benefit from each other’s thinking and learning
  • We share this way because it encourages the social
  • We share in this way because it helps us remember and celebrate the positives!
  • We share in this way because of the implied message that it also sends
  • If all thinking and learning is just kept private, what do our actions say about our beliefs?

I actually read her post when it first came out – because she had tagged me in the announcement (I do appreciate it when that happens) – and I had written a reply that I continue to stand by.

We share because it makes us more observant to what is going on and we share so that we don’t forget.

To me, the proof lies in the actual implementation. Right now, I just picked up my MacBook Pro and I’m in search of a Twitter message that I shared this morning about the new Safari so that I can poke around. I was using a Chromebook when I read the original message.

My original share may not mean anything to others but it’s a chance to share my learning with anyone who cares to join me and now I get the benefit myself by going back and finding it.

There was a time when I would just bookmark it and go back but I’ve learned that that approach teeters on selfishness. If it’s good for me, it has the potential to be good for others.

That may have been the first time ever I’ve used the word “teeter”.


Push & Pull

Finally, from Alexandra Woods, a post that will break your heart. It’s not unique to her; I just happened to read hers first. It’s from the perspective of a mother and teacher.

She had a moment with her son that caused her to pause and focus on what’s really important.

Teaching is all-encompassing and professionals are doing their very best to make sure that it’s going to be positive for students. Kudos for that; that’s what good teachers do.

And yet, there’s another factor in all this and that’s the family at home. Those of us who are parents know that we turn over these little ones to someone else for the time spent at work teaching. In a normal world, the time spent not teaching is easier to manage but many teachers are observing that teaching and planning to teach is creeping into that time not officially devoted to working.

There’s always this sense that you should be doing more and sometimes a wakeup call to reality is needed.


Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. There’s great inspirational stories there from a number of different members involved in education.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Alexandra Woods – @XanWoods

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Spot the troll


A lady I used to work with shared this resource the other day. I had to check it out and was quite impressed. So, thank you, Sharon.

The site is called Spot the Troll.

From the Clemson University Media Forensics Hub, this is an engaging activity designed to see if you can spot an online troll.

I think that most of us have seen activities like this one before so it may be a nice addition to your collection.

I found this one a little different.

So often, I can easily browse through activities like this and then move on. This quiz is from real life accounts and, quite frankly, these are not easily identified.

You’re presented with social media profiles and copies of posts to social media and it’s up to you to determine whether or not this is an internet troll. We’re all aware of the situation where these trolls try to make something look legitimate while at the same time delivering a false message.

There are eight profiles to analyse and come from a variety of platforms – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In addition to the presentation of content, the tutorial will take you through an analysis of each that should have given you clues that the account was a troll or not.

If you think you know social media and are a wise judge, I would encourage you to take the test. In the classroom, if you want to help students become more sophisticated social media users, have them work their way through it. It’s really that good.

And, neither Sharon nor I got a perfect score. Grrrr.

An example of what to do


Over the weekend, Beth Lyons shared one of her current projects.

You can access the resource here:

https://sites.google.com/pdsb.net/all-things-teaching-online/home

There’s a lot to like about this resource. The content is all easily accessible from the navigation menu on the left. That makes it easy to navigate for teachers / grownups as they work their way through it.

Above and beyond the technical stuff, this is the sort of thing that we need right now. It’s specific and gets you quickly to the good stuff that you need.

We talk about the value of teacher-librarians but here’s an example of what can we done when the role is taken seriously and the desire is strong to put resources directly in the hands of the audience. In essence, it’s a portal to just what is needed but not too much that it becomes overwhelming.

Some of the resources are very specific to teachers and grownups in the Peel District School Board so it’s not a link that you can pass along to everyone in the province. However, it is an wonderful example for others to follow.

Above and beyond the content, it’s important to note that most of the content is available to anyone with an internet connection. It’s not hidden behind some security wall requiring a login/password just to access. That’s worth a million these days. We all juggle many accounts; who needs another?

This approach could be replicated by others, including subject associations whose worth is determined by the support they’re delivering right now during these challenging times.

Well done, Beth. I hope that this inspires others to create similar resources for their schools. It sends a message about technology and a more serious open message about support and williness to get the job done.