This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I’m happy to share the latest round of writing from Ontario Educators that has crossed my path. Please show them some digital love and visit their posts.

Searching for an idea – whose stories need to be told

I like how Paul uses his blog to reinvent himself periodically and shares what he’s thinking and doing. This post is kind of a rambling one where he touches upon a number of things. I had to smile when he mentions the mysteries of APA style. I’m with you, brother.

There was a spot towards the end of the post that really resonated with me. He says

Is there a way I could study a different education system outside of the Canadian context?

That took me on a trip back to my university days. In high school, we had a number of recruitment visits from universities trying to convince us to attend their institution. The consistent message wasn’t about academics but about the “get away from your hometown and be on your own” experience. Fast forward to first year university with the large classes that I recognize now fund so much.They drop off in size in subsequent years for a number of reasons, including marks!

I tried to do the experience – the campus pub, the Joker’s on Thursday night, visiting my girlfriend who ultimately became my wife, visiting Laurel Creek, doing the malls, etc. The part of Paul’s post that I think was interesting hearkens back to a conversation I had with a classmate. She was there from India and we were talking about education and she let me know how important it was for her and her family that she did well and so she did everything but the social aspect of university. Her father was an Engineering Professor back home and there was intense pressure on her. I remember being impressed with the difference; I suppose that we could call my take on things as “privilege” by today’s metrics.

So, if Paul does decide to investigate different education systems, I think it would be fascinating. Or a research project about the importance of Canadian schools to foreign students, or …

Towards an Emergent PD – Professional Development in the Time of COVID

Alexandra talks about something that I think many people know but aren’t all that vocal about.

COVID has exacerbated educational inequities while drawing attention to the urgency of systemic change. But constant shifts have caused many to erect protective walls which are impermeable to (more) waves of change.

In so many ways, we’re realizing that things are broken as we try to return to a normal but it isn’t possible. I commend her for being so open about it.

In terms of professional development or what I prefer to call professional learning, what will it look like if things ever start to open up? And, maybe that’s the term to use instead of “return to normal” because it just isn’t going to happen any time soon, if ever.

A system that prides itself on teaching is going to have to become a learner from the experience. Teachers have so many things mandated and a new one came onto the scene just this week. That will be another check box in the personnel file.

But, what does it look like for the educator who truly wants to grow and learn? I really like how she closes her post with a cheat sheet but can’t help but think that smart people like Alexandra’s time has come to step up and be vocal about the changes that are necessary to fix what’s broken.

I know that I’m always eager to learn but I’m not in a hurry to ever go back to the big conference format.

Bespoke Beats

You could easily get away from Terry’s latest project by saying that it’s cool that his students have used technology to create digital music. The idea is to have something playing in the background while you’re working or studying. I think that, for most of us, it keeps our minds from wandering.

I’m listening to a Meat Loaf concert on another monitor as I write this.

In the post, Terry describes the why and the how and shares with us a Soundcloud playlist of the creations so far. The ultimate goal is to add video to it and Terry shares an idea of what it might look like.

He’s not going it alone; he’s reached out to a colleague at Seneca for assistance and the final product will be released as an Open Educational Resource.


I really like the concept of student-created podcasts. Actually, student-created anything. Over the past while, we’ve seen the biggest misuse of technology, out of necessity, as a conference window to school and classmates. It’s nice to see people advocating student creation of things. Love it, love it, love it.

But, Screencastify?

For me, the go-to application always was Audacity although I know that much of the Macintosh world favours Garageband. Whatever turns your crank.

But, the ladies expanded my mindset with their recommendation of Screencastify. I had a preconceived notion of what I would and have used it for. But, for Podcasting? When you think of it, it does make sense. Podcasting isn’t terribly difficult when you have the tools.

The post is a great tutorial for working through things but culminates in what else you can do with Screencastify which makes the process of learning it so important.

Their summary:

Steps For Student-Created Podcasts With Screencastify

  • Recording Student-Created Podcasts
  • Editing Student-Created Podcasts
  • Downloading Student-Created Podcasts
  • Sharing Student-Created Podcasts

ONE WORD: “responsive”

Three years ago, if I ran into Chey and Pav on the street, I wouldn’t have had any idea of who they were. These days, I think I might – Chey is the one with the beard, right? They definitely know how to work social media; I see them everywhere being honest and open.

In this post, they took on the notion of a “One Word” for 2022. It’s “Responsive”. By itself, it might seem OK but there are a couple of other things that make it stand out in this post.

First of all, unlike everyone else, this isn’t one word for one person. It’s one word for the two of them. It seems to me that that approach requires a great deal of thinking and discussion along with agreement. That part is impressive.

What’s more impressive is that they take a look back at the two words from previous years. Even for this guy who has never met either of them, I can definitely see the growth in what they are and what I think they want to be. It started with kind of a generic approach to something very specific that they have in mind. Now, that’s impressive to me.

  • Responsive to each Other and Our Work
  • Responsive to other Teachers and Educators
  • Responsive to the Students and their Needs
  • Responsive to Quality Learning
  • Responsive to our Expanding Level of Influence and Impact


Writing on the TESLOntario Blog, Gonul shares some very inspirational things to think about. I think I’d heard some of them before but not all. I really like this one:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” By Confucius

I’ve always felt that as an inspiration to keep doing things. Some days, quite frankly, I don’t feel like doing much but I still find time to do things for myself and spend at least a little time reading and hopefully learning.

She asks for what you favourite quote might be and this one is one of my favourites.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” by Oscar Wilde

Slice of Life: Losing a Friend (Warning- loss of a pet)

I close on a sad note. Elizabeth and her family lost a member recently and she shares a reflection and some beautiful pictures on her blog. It was the first major loss for her daughters so it would be especially tough.

Her thoughts share wonderful memories of a family member who was always there and still had those little quirks that all of our pets do. It was a sad post to read.

My sympathies go out to the Lyons family.

Please click through and read all of these wonderful post.

And, follow them on Twitter

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Alexandra Woods – @XanWoods
  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Edugals – @EduGals
  • Chey and Pav – @StaffPodcast
  • Gonul Turkdogan – @turkdogan_gonul 
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary

This week’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs can be found here.

Ooodles of fun

A big shoutout goes to Kim Stenhouse for the lead on this one. She was complaining on Facebook that someone had shown the complete solution to this morning’s Wordle and spoiled her chances for solving it legitimately. I know that lesser people would solve it in one move and then show off on social media so kudos for her for that.

Instead, she played a different Wordle-like game. And, it wasn’t yet another ripoff of Wordle; this time it’s about mathematics.

There aren’t enough Os in cool to express how I feel about Ooodle.

Admittedly, it’s the same concept (sort of) where you fill in the blanks to get an answer.

This time, though, it’s filling in blanks with digits or numbers to create a correct equation.

If you love mathematics, you’ll be hooked immediately; I know that I was. To say that there are all kinds of applications to the classroom would be an understatement!

You can check it out here.

Thanks, Kim, for posting about this. I have a new diversion.

Lessons learned

By the time this goes live at 5:00 tomorrow, Jaimie and I will be having breakfast before going out for our walk at 7:14. As I wrote on Saturday, we’re expecting a great deal more traffic than what we’ve had for the past month. We’re also looking forward to waving and wagging at familiar faces along our morning route.

Minus holiday time, the school system has had an opportunity to make schools a safer place for student learning. You’d kind of think that this should already have been done due to previous lockdowns and absences. We’ve had so many announcements and assurances that everything was taken care of. Heck, you’d like to think that schools would be a safe place in general.

Teachers have learned so much more about how systems are managed. Probably way more than what they ever dreamed that they would know.

Who can forget the sniffling noses from our classmates as we went as students? It’s way different when you’re a teacher – you don’t just see it and are bothered by those in your immediate vicinity; you see it everywhere as you scan the class. Winter is a rough time for sickness and spreading as it is, never mind the challenges that we face now.

Of course, that’s not the only thing on the horizon for this week. There’s the COVID thing that has hijacked the planning and minds of educators but there’s more.

Well, everywhere but Essex County and the Bruce Penninsula, it seems!

That’s even before we put bums in seats.

This past week saw the Minister of Education make announcements about face masks and HEPA filters. That would normally be good news but most educators are skeptical. We’ve heard announcements before about HEPA filters everywhere and yet there are still more to be bought and put into operation?

I’m reminded of a conversation with my former superintendent about reading the reality value in these announcements. He was fond of noting that sometimes the same amount of money gets announced on different times giving the impression that there was more available than there actually would be. It was through him that I understood the importance of identifying any “new money” as a followup to announcements. I was so naïve, I guess.

There’s another thing that money can’t buy.

The success of a return to schools and classrooms will be the professional approach and implementation of safe measures by classroom teachers. As a society, we know more about this current virus than at previous attempts to return to classrooms. Since we’re in the middle of winter, that knowledge needs to be combined with the traditional approach to addressing students with seasonal colds. It’s no easy task. Period.

The most important thing to recognize is that the teacher is more than likely the most vulnerable person in the classroom. Looking out for number one is so important.

So, for those of you who will be returning to your classrooms this morning, I wish you all the best and hope that, this time, we’ve done so much learning that it can be managed safely.

Last peaceful walks

We live on a Concession Road where the speed limit is 80 km/h. It’s a Class B road and I’m convinced that the B stands for “Boy, these shoulders are narrow!”. When we get to the corner, we’ll move to a County Road with wider shoulders and slower traffic due to a school.

Jaimie and I are out pounding the pavement every morning. While we try to head for different destinations for our other walks, this is just so convenient. We kick our 14000/28000 steps off the same way every day. Of course, we walk facing traffic. Most oncoming traffic is courteous and will pull over to the left when they see us and some even go right into the other lane to give us a lot of room. It’s great for slushy days.

With the two week Christmas Break and then the stay at home learning for the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a month of very low traffic to contend with. But, we’re anticipating that will change on Monday.

Buses run up and down the concession road to:

  • Anderdon Public School
  • General Amherst High School
  • Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School
  • St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School
  • St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School
  • Western Secondary School

That adds up to a lot of buses all running during out walking time frame. In addition to the regular buses, there are also a couple of the shorter buses. Some travel in the same direction as us and some in the opposite direction. We’re forever heading off the pavement onto the gravel or even onto the grass in some spots to give way to traffic. If you’ve ever watched Heavy Rescue 401 and the traffic they endure, we think it’s about the same. Or worse.

The very worst part comes when the bus is going the same direction as us. It’s not the bus that’s the problem; it’s the person right behind the bus who wants to swerve out and pass the bus once the flashing lights stop. Courtesy for the dog and dog walker doesn’t seem to enter their minds. Or maybe they don’t even see us.

Dreaming about his next walk

To make things worse, both concession roads that are parallel to us have been shut down for repairs resulting in even more traffic on our little road. Thankfully, one of the roads is now open but they’ve found bones while doing a bridge reconstruction on the other and that has ground everything to a half. We’re proud of our War of 1812 connections around here and would hate not to preserve them.

So, we’ve had it good for the past month. I can’t remember a walk where we were the only ones out there but the traffic has definitely been lighter. That’s going to change.

All those buses will be back and the challenges that they prevent for all the cars and trucks just ramp it up for us. There will also be a great deal more traffic anyway. In addition to the buses, there are students who drive to the secondary school and then a lot of parents who drive their kids to school. We’re kind of guessing that may increase as some people might be hesitant to put their kids on a bus.

This weekend will be the last of the light days for a while, at least until the next weekend. We will enjoy them.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And, …, it’s time for another wander around the province looking at some of the great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.

Juris My Diction Crap

If you’re a parent, this post will tear your heart apart. We want all the best for our kids and certainly, during COVID times that means that vaccinations and boosters are in order. While there are nay-sayers who don’t want part of it, this is a story about a mother who wants the best for her 17-year-old. Marie shares her research and analysis of guiding documents in the post.

In addition to the story of her running into walls, there’s a strong message there that Ontario is making up rules as time passes. We’re now hearing of the importance of vaccinations and boosters for kids from 5-11 and the need for those over 18. Doing the math, we have high school students. They tend to travel in flocks and, around here, are unmasked when they’re on the streets. She’s even willing to go state-side to do it but we have rules about travel there as well.

There was a bit of a smile in here for me as she uses the word “eviscerated” in the post. I think that’s the first time I’ve read that word in a blog post and it’s a reminder that we’re a big province. Click through and ready what the problem was.

Slice of (Pandemic) Life

Lisa shares a story of perhaps a kinder and gentler Ontario. A year ago, you wouldn’t dream of picking up and visiting Grandpa’s house but now with a few tests, there’s a confidence that you’re not taking anything other than goodies with you.

I’m glad that she was able to make that happen. I smiled when she mentioned the debate about whether or not to take her laptop although I suspect that a smartphone would have done in a pitch.

It was to keep her connected to the latest news about COVID, back to school, and all those things that change people’s lives in a heartbeat. Along the way, she reflects that it’s also made her a good online teacher and that’s a good thing in itself. It’s probably nothing that many had aspirations for but were forced into it.

We live in such a different world; I grew up in a town with a weekly newspaper and everything that you need to know came out every Thursday. That wouldn’t cut it today. I’d be so behind the times.

5 Things I Learned in 2021

I’m with Matthew’s analysis of time passing. Is it fast or slow? That’s really a good question. But, 2021 did pass and he uses this post to share five things he learned.

  • Don’t Try To Do Too Much
  • Stay Consistent
  • The Kids Are Resilient
  • Your Mental Health Over Everything 
  • Teachers and Students Are People Too

On This Week in Ontario Edublogs, Stephen and I each cherry-picked one of the points to discuss. Stephen went with the third one and I opted for number five. In particular, parents and guardians are seeing more of the inside of a classroom and the mechanics involved while their child is at the kitchen table. Schools aren’t really a black box.

OneWord 2022

Marc takes a bit of a break from his top 500 music countdown to celebrate the new year with his “One Word”. In the past, he’s gone with Revitalize, Mindfulness, Cultivate, Persist, Discomfort & Ameliorate. This year’s choice is a well-thought-through single word.

He could have stopped the post there and we’d all be happy but he didn’t.

He takes the notion of the “One Word” into the classroom and makes it an activity for his students. In a generous manner, he shares the lesson and suggests tools that would end up with the students making a banner for their word.

It’s not a quick and simple activity. There’s a lot of richness there that really would make it worthwhile to replicate.

Here we go again…

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Kelly is reliving teaching from a year ago. It would be easy to dwell on the challenges because there is so much of that.

There’s some good reading there in an external link to a McLean’s article that talks about the challenges that students have while online.

Kelly uses the bottom of the post to talk about some of the successes that she’s had. I think that it’s pretty important to recognize this. Even in these less than ideal times, the kids are thriving and some are doing some things that they might not have otherwise. Did someone mention resiliency?

All of these are good observations but the one that lept out at me was:

Two of my students who rarely complete tasks in the classroom completed many tasks this week

We now know that school is planned to resume on Monday. It’s got to be running through Kelly’s mind that there has to be a reason why those students changed things around and are doing well. I hope that she can identify it and encourage them to continue this success.

Books For Middle School Students

I have this middle school-aged student who hangs out around here periodically. He’s not a reader in the traditional sense. He can sure read the instructions on his tablet when playing games but that’s not the same thing.

I’m going to pass Kristy’s list along to him and see if there’s something there that will get him interested in book reading.

Day in life of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – submitted by Leila Knetsch

Leila has her students researching careers and jobs in Biology. Before I clicked through the links at the bottom of the post, I was wondering what I would search for if I was a student in that class.

My ideas were pretty traditional! I was thinking of beakers, microscopes, test tubes, etc. One of the students in her class researched and submitted a couple that really are well done and made me feel kind of narrow-minded.

I hope that you can click through and enjoy all of these great blog posts.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Kristy – @2peasandadog
  • Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario / L’Association des professeurs de science de l’Ontario – @staoapso

The Wednesday voicEd Radio show can be found here.