This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’ve been resisting turning on the furnace this week. I will confess to wearing my Bring IT, Together jacket, a toque, and gloves while walking the dog in the morning. The promise is that this weekend is going to be great weather. I hope so as we have an outdoor wedding to attend.

Happy End of September.


More Than an Educator

As I mentioned on the voicEd Radio show, this is a concept that isn’t taught in depth at the Faculty of Education but really should be.

Every teacher wants to be the best that they can be. That goes without saying when you enter the profession.

However, Amanda’s post reminds us that you are more than that as a person. Your job is only one part of you and there’s so much more that you have going on. Teaching is a profession that will entirely eat you alive if you let it.

Amanda tells us that mindfulness is something that helped her. You’ve got to believe that it makes her that better person she wants to be and I can’t help but believe that it makes her a better teacher as well.


it can wait

I really enjoyed this post from Will. It should serve us all as a reminder that, as we rush to return to normal, what’s the rush? Is there a rush for returning too quickly?

Thank you for resisting those urges to get down to business so quickly.
It can wait.

As the teacher in the room, you’re not the only one who has been off your game for the past few years. Those kids are too. I’m reading all over the place that concentrating on work and getting the job done is so hard for students, particularly from teachers who want “normal”.

Will includes a pretty interesting list of things that would be second nature four or five years ago and now seem strangely useless in the context of this whole post.

It’s time to stop and reflect on what’s really important. Giving up a little of the hard-core academics and focusing on relationships will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.


Food for Thought

There have been a lot of reviews (thinking Michelin here) about restaurants in Toronto. Oddly, none of them have a drive-through…

Diana gives us a lovely collection of thoughts and wonders about a number of things restauranty.

  • Famous Food
  • Surprise Food (including kitchen duties)
  • Connecting over Food
  • Photographic Food

It’s a great discussion about food but there’s a deeper message here.

  • this is a terrific example of writing and then pausing to wonder about each of the writings – could you use this technique in class?
  • something that isn’t talked much about anymore is copyright infringement of images – read the post and you’ll see how she deals with that personally

I can’t help but think that her experience mirrors many elementary school throughout the province.


Creating a Sensory Wall for Children

This secondary school computer science teacher was completely out of his element here when Deanna talks about the process that she uses to create a sensory wall as the focal point in her classroom.

I enjoyed reading about how she gathered, measured, and crafted this.

Thanks, Deanna McLennan

Why?

Because it’s the right thing to do. She has students that need it.

Read the post and celebrate the success that she enjoyed and then perhaps think about the things that you’ve personally done to make things better at your own expense and efforts. Deanna and I had the same employer and I don’t recall any of this being on the bulk order list.


Wordlers rejoice! This one’s for you!

Trust Doug to write something completely off the wall.

In this case, it’s an article for/about Wordle fanatics (of which, I guess I’m one) and there’s a little editorial content from Doug here.

At least I think so.

He’s taken what’s probably a good blog post and replaced all the five-letter words with Wordle-like puzzles to solve.

I spend far too much time reading and trying to “solve” this blog. He didn’t say that all my guesses were wrong; just the one that I used six letters for.


Coding in the Classroom

I’ll confess and admit that I started typing “Derek” and probably only a Floyd or an RCAC member would understand…

So many educators throughout the province are cutting their teeth with “Coding” in the Classroom this year. Some may have never thought it would ever happen but it has.

The Floyds have created this resource on the TVO Outreach site with resources for people looking for a nice, Ontario way to get started. They address our curriculum and talk about strategies that should be part of everyone’s teaching toolkit already.

All you need to do is pick a place to start.

Coding in K-12 Education

Primary (Grades 1-3)

Junior (Grades 4-6)

Intermediate (Grades 7-8, 9)


September Leaves

Diane’s post wonderfully describes the experience that many second or more language learners have once dropped in a classroom where other languages are spoken.

I loved the reference to how important our first language is and how it helps define an identity. Through the eyes of “Farah”, she describes some classroom experiences and responses that could have happened in any classroom. When the eyes “widen”, your teacher heart has to warm up.

There’s a wonderful description of the process of moving from an “English-only school environment to a framework of multilingualism”.

The blank leaves are a powerful point in this whole post.

Click through, read, and enjoy.


I hope that you can find some time this weekend to click through and enjoy all these terrific posts. Drop them a comment and then follow them on Twitter. Also, follow their blogs in your blog reader.

  • Amanda Hardy
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1
  • Lisa Anne Floyd – @lisaannefloyd
  • Steven Floyd – @stevenpfloyd
  • Diane Kim

This Week in Ontario Edublogs
Wednesday mornings on voicEd Radio

All kinds of music


Warning – this link will take you down the ultimate sinkhole if you’re a music lover.

You’ve been warned.

I remember when it was popular to create a “big list” of things. I was probably as guilty of this as anyone.

The resource that I’m going to share today will be of interest to most everyone.

I know that, in my classes, listening to music was always a request when students were busy working on projects or homework. The mode ranged from headphones to those small computer speakers that were part of the programming deal. As long as it didn’t interfere with the work, I was in favour. Even as I write this post, I have Coolradio on in the background. It helps me focus.

At the time, music from the 80s was in vogue. There definitely was good stuff by my standards but there was a lot that wasn’t. Some of the cool kids would play music from the 60s and 70s and that always went in their favour with the teacher.

But, if you wanted “it all”, you were kind of limited. That’s where Every Noise at Once comes in! Here’s a random picture from a screen shot.

I found switching to the “List” where everything is listed – almost 6 000 categories. Find what you want and you’re in for a short music clip with a link to a Spotify playlist. Or, just go nuts and get the BIG list in a single Spotify playlist.

Of use, perhaps, this week in the Canadian Indigenous playlist.

Or Classic Canadian Rock

And that kept me going and going – playing and exploring. I definitely could think of all kinds of uses for this website. It’s always a bonus when someone else does all the heavy lifting.

Now, back to my music.

An Interview with Will Gourley


It seems that I’ve known of Will Gourley for quite some time now.  His blog posts have been regularly featured in my Friday This Week in Ontario Edublogs post.  He offers an interesting take on educational issues and is always good for some original ideas to make me think.

He was good enough to take the time to be interviewed so that we can learn more about Will.

Doug:  Thanks for doing this Will.  I seem to have always had you on my radar.  Do you know when our paths first crossed?

Will: Thank you for the opportunity Doug. I would have to say we have known each other for almost 10 years since I joined Twitter and then from ECOO and other conferences around the province. It seems like you have been there almost since the start of my teaching career.

Doug:  And the last time we actually met face to face?  It seems so long ago now that the past few years make it easy to lose track of time.

Will: We were at the Edtech/Googley summit in KW where we sat together with the group of students from Northern Ontario who had created the Ojibway keyboard. A very cool session.

Doug:  I remember that session distinctly. It was so innovative and just made you feel so proud that our education system could product such an original idea.

On my blog, I had the opportunity to interview Shyama Sunderaswara who indicated that you were one of her host teachers.  https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2022/05/16/an-interview-with-shyama-sunderaswara/ That’s got to be kind of neat to have her words paying it forward for you.  What would being paired with Will Gourley look like to someone new to our profession?

Will: I love Shyama. Her spirit as an educator was strong from the get-go and continues to turn into a force majeur in the classroom. Each teacher candidate’s experience has been really different over the past 10 years. Happily, I think all of them are connected to a board and working as we keep in touch. One thing that is guaranteed, they do not sit on the sidelines for more than an hour before I am asking them to lead or support in class. Always best to empower teacher candidates to jump in with both feet rather than gradually. I would not put them into a situation that they could not handle.

Additionally, there are many daily conversations about approaches, a file of notes made throughout the day, a tonne of resources to reference, and reflection time for next steps. If anything, I want to make sure that TCs are relationship builders and not curriculum pushers first.

Doug:  Be still my heart! In all of my career, there have been so many pedagogy pushers and self-proclaimed game-changers. The one thing that remains constant has been those relationships between teachers and students in the classroom.

Teachers, students, and schools have been through a great amount of discomfort (to say the least) with Covid.  How did you personally cope and keep your sanity?

Will: I am not sure I did all that well when it came to my mental well being. I know that writing my Heart and Art blog was definitely a release valve that not only mirrored my own experiences, but also those of others. I took more time away from school at the end of each day. I vowed not to work past a certain hour or take on too much. I baked and consumed my share of comfort cookies too.

Doug:  Was Covid your first opportunity to teach online? 

Will: Since the advent of digital classrooms, I have always used Google Classrooms as a means to communicate and share lessons/work. Once the pandemic hit, it necessitated that I teach to rows of faceless icons online

Doug:  How did it go?

Will: It went as well as could be expected considering everyone was jumping off the same cliff hoping there was something soft to land on below.

Doug:  How did you prepare yourself for lessons delivered this way?

Will: Interesting you should ask. I soon realized that what took 10 minutes to work through in class was taking 30 minutes or longer to achieve online. Students struggled with output from the get-go and I had to adjust expectations and stick to shorter and more precise instructional asks.

Doug:  Did all your students have good technology for this purpose?

Will: There were some who struggled with tech, but our school was able to provide them with a device to support them at home.

Doug:  Did you “lose” anyone in the process?

Will: Yes. Sadly the disconnect was real and it showed when it came to participation. I think I would have checked out too. It became an impossible dream to expect students to sit through virtual school from 8 to 2:30 each day and believe it was the same as in-class connection, delivery, learning, and affirmation.

Doug:  Was going back face to face a relief or more stress on you and your students?  Or maybe a little of both?

Will: Definitely a combo. We had 2 immuno-compromised family members at home and the stress was real. I was really thankful to have a basement where I could work while we all kept our distance. There were so many unknowns and that was amplified greatly until the vaccines were rolled out and the number of reported cases decreased. Messaging/directives from the province et al did not help. I am thankful no one in my school was seriously ill through those times although I am not naive to think that the risks are still not high.

Doug:  You recently guest hosted This Week in Ontario Edublogs with Stephen Hurley and me.  We kind of alluded to one of your previous lives and you did work in commercial radio.  Where was this and what was your role?

Will: I started off as a volunteer DJ at CKLN 88.1 FM and then DJ/newsreader at CHRY 105.5 FM in Toronto. In 1994 I took a job at CJAV 1240 AM in Port Alberni, BC. There I was a reporter, newsreader, DJ, ad copywriter, and voiceover dude. Oh and coffee maker.

Doug:  Was the experience doing a podcast a step backwards?  What are the similarities between doing commercial radio and amateur podcasting?

Will:  I think podcasting is a step along an important yet different path. I’ve never viewed it other than a step forward to furthering conversations and sharing ideas. I appreciate the intimacy and immediacy of podcasting and wish there was more time for it in my life.

Doug:  Have you ever done podcasting with your students?

Will: It is on my to-do list. We have done broadcasting (news stories, ad creation) as part of Media Literacy, but not specifically podcasting.

Doug:  You know that you’ll have support and advice from Stephen if you make that leap.

You’ve had your own blog for a while but have shifted instead to writing on the ETFO Heart and Art of Teaching Blog.  What made you make the switch?  Do you have an idea of the number of readers that might read any of your posts?

Will: I still post on my own blog from time to time, but it has become more difficult these past years to keep the content coming on two platforms. I joined ETFO Heart and Art in the Fall of 2015 and have written almost 150+/-  posts for them. I have found it to be a great way to share/amplify the feelings, concerns, and voices of other educators.

With regards to numbers, that is tricky. I know that since I started in 2015 reads have gone up from 30 000 to over 100 000 annually, with readers in over 80+ countries. I think it has largely been a benefit of broader access through social media. I find that very encouraging to know that educators in other parts of the world are accessing the blog.

Doug:  Are you free to blog about whatever topic you want?

Will: Let’s say that I have a pretty free rein to write about what is on my heart/mind although a few posts have been pulled due to their inflammatory nature. In those cases, I usually move them to my personal blog if I feel that the message needs to be shared regardless of it being canned in-house.

Doug:  Your blog titles are always in lowercase.  Since you have a person checking your work, that’s got to be a personal choice.  Can you tell us the story behind it?

Will: This past year I decided to differentiate the titles a bit more and it kind of stuck. I recently finished a book by author/educator bell hooks and kind of liked how she chose to keep her name lowercase. It removes a barrier in my mind almost as if asking readers to come in rather than waiting at the door.

Doug:  I know of whom you speak. She definitely stands out in a crowd just by that one simple move.

As we start this interview, it’s the first of August.  All teachers, I suspect, see this as a starting point to think about September.  Is it different this time around?

Will: As of the end of September it is definitely different this time around. I love how we are collectively excited to be back and reinventing the new normal that is so necessary in our schools. There is a conscious effort to reconnect, to re-establish relationships, and to relish the moments we are now all (well most of us) are all finally back together.

Doug:  Teachers in the province will be negotiating a new collective agreement for September.  What does your crystal ball reveal about how negotiations will go and will an agreement be in place for the start of the school year?

Will: I was thinking about this a lot over the summer and it equates to driving a car with the gas light (pun intended) on. Everyone in the vehicle knows that a stop to refuel is imminent yet the driver (let’s call them the current MOE) chooses to see how far past empty they can go. No one wants to disrupt school when negotiations could have taken place far sooner. No one wants to be gaslit by a government and their sycophants committed to undermining our profession. Look at how they are trying to stick it to CUPE right now.

Doug:  The Minister of Education and the Premier have indicated that they want students back in classes and extra-curriculars / field trips to happen.  Can all of this be negotiated?

Will: Extracurriculars happened last year. We ran 2 TED-Ed clubs over 6 months in 21-22. They are already happening this year. I play and have played in the boxes they put me in. If they want to pay us extra for the time that they seem intent to mandate then so be it. That goes for after-school support programs such as OFIP which this current government killed when they took power in 2018.

Doug:  Is there anything else that you think we should be talking about?

Will: We are stronger, smarter, and better together. Take time to share your lessons, encourage the emerging, and experienced teachers in your building. Take time to build your CRRP anti-racist tool kit. Take time to host a student teacher or CYW candidate. Take time to chat with /support the CUPE staff in your building.  Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and create. Phew.

If any educator wants to learn more about TED-Ed they can hit me up on Twitter.

Doug:  Thanks for taking the time from your summer to be interviewed.  I wish you all the best in September.

Thank you for all you do to support educators in the #onted family. I am humbled to know you. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and adventures in the year to come.

You can connect with Will on Twitter at:  @WillGourley

The Heart and Art of Teaching where Will and others blog can be found here: https://heartandart.ca/

Will’s personal blog can be found here: https://medium.com/@WillGourley and https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

Periodically, I interview interesting people like Will.  You can check them all out on the Interview Page at https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

A new game from Google


From the folks at Google Arts and Culture, there’s a release of al new game that you can play in your browser or via separate application (Android iOS).

I played it in my browser and it was so pleasant to have that retro gaming experience with block graphics and movement via the cursor keys.

I dug in just to play the game. It was only after I started moving around, talking to other characters, and having monkeys throw things at me that I realized that it was also educational! So, I restarted the game and paid more attention to the tour and the links.

Developed in partnership with Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, there is so much to learn wandering around and discovering clues, gathering rewards, solving puzzles, but most engagingly talking with the guardian as you go.

I was also pleasantly happy to see that Richard Byrne had created a video to explain things for us and you can watch him as he plays the game.

There’s even a lesson when you discover “more” about the character that you’re going to use for the game.

If you’ve played games in the past, the movement of your character will be familiar and you can just focus on the story and the learning. That’s a good thing.

Give it a shot – links are above.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday – Work Day, PD Day, Re-organization Day – wherever you fit!


CELEBRATING 100 EPISODES – E100

One hundred of anything is a pretty amazing milestone.

The EduGals (Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell) were approaching their own milestone and want to do something different from their regular technology themed podcasts. They reached out to Stephen Hurley and me to interview them and we jumped at the chance to be on their 100th podcast.

What sort of things would someone ask? If you listened to their podcast, you’d know what we decided. If you missed the podcast, you can always listen to it now from their website. Or, if you want a readable summary of things, check out this post.

And, to send them off on a successful second one hundred, what better than Beverley Mahood and Radio 101.


What To Do If Our Classrooms Aren’t Safe

I thought that this post from Marie was particularly timely. Driving by schools these days, you see both students and teachers running maskless. As Marie campaigns, she’s asked what’s a parent to do?

It’s a good question – she takes it and runs with it.

Her background in education comes through loudly and clearly. Definitely, you should start any of this with a conversation with the classroom teachers and the leaders within the school.

There are times when this may not work and Marie provides a series of suggestions that escalate if you’re not getting support.

It really is sad that we’re not officially reporting numbers across the province and Marie has done some of her own research that will make you wonder why more isn’t being done.


Crooked Paths are the Ones that Lead to Enlightenment

So many of us were educated in a different time. So many that are recommending the path to enlightenment come from that different time.

Read Tim’s post and you’ll be thinking that we’re living in a time when it’s not necessarily business as usual.

Ours was a time when there was a clearly defined flow from elementary to secondary to college/university and you just had to follow it to enjoy success.

We’ve long since started talking about the world of work and the value that it has as a destination. We’ve talked about taking a year between secondary school and post-secondary education. In the post, Tim talks about an individual who gives an opinion about that “gap” year.

Tim shares his own path and some of his challenges to get where he is today. I suspect that many of us didn’t follow that fluid path.

Post-secondary education also didn’t require giving up your first borne to be able to afford things like rent, tuition, etc.

It’s a different world out there.


Sick

Talk to any teacher and they’ll tell you that they’ll drag themselves into work rather than go through the process of writing lesson plans for someone else to follow. More often than not, the good intentions don’t come through.

Aviva shares with us a most recent situation of her being sick and still making herself available for an interview. There was no more information about the interview and Stephen and I made an assumption about it.

It turns out that we were wrong and Aviva clued us in via private message afterwards.

It’s an exciting message and I won’t let the cat out of the bag – Aviva will undoubtedly blog about it when she sees fit to talk about it in public.

The bigger question still remains about what to do if you’re sick.


Who Am I?

This was a much different post than usual from Matthew.

He pulls back the curtain and shares some of his personal faith and superstitious activity as a youth who would have loved to have been accepted into a Division 1 school with a football program. I had no idea there were 363 schools!

Given our closeness to the Detroit Media, we get bombarded by University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Notre Dame, and Ohio University media all the time. Matthew had his eye on a couple other Big 10 schools.

Obviously, it’s very personal but also highlights the challenges that a Canadian athlete has being recognized south of the border. I know one of my best friends felt that his path was to shine at Laurier and let that open a path for him.

The big winner in all this is the Ontario Educational system which ended up with a great teacher in Matthew.


Old Fellas New Music Episode 31 Notes

They’re back!

The Old Fellas are back sharing some new music with us via podcast and this post. There’s a nice list of new music to listen to and I’m always appreciative of it. There were some familiar names here.

The list they’re sharing this time is:

  • The Beths – Knees Deep
  • Orville Peck, Shania Twain – Legends Never Die
  • Glorious Sons – Pink Motel
  • Blue Stones – Shakin’ Off the Dust
  • Blue Rodeo – When You Were Wild
  • Crystal Eyes – 2000 years
  • Rosie Tucker – Barbara Ann
  • Sudan Archives – Selfish Soul
  • Cheap Trick – So it Goes

My favourite from the list is this one from Blue Rodeo and it’s kind of cheating because I’ve always been a fan of Blue Rodeo.


We need to deal with data privacy in our classrooms

Writing for University Affairs, I found this so interesting.

When I was on the OSAPAC group, we had the Ministry’s lawyers available to analyse the legal terms and agreements that would come with the licensing of any software title. If we had their approval, it moved the licensing process along.

Today’s classrooms – elementary, secondary, post-secondary – mostly deal with anything but software that’s licensed and installed on their computers. Instead, many great resources are available in a browser and online. As Bonnie notes, and I’m as bad as anyone, not clicking on terms and conditions agreement. I just want to get to the site I’m accessing. I may have just agreed to anything.

These days, I do it on my own computer and I do use an advertising blocker and a cookie auto-delete utility to get a feeling of safety but I’m not naive enough to think that I’m 100% protected.

Data privacy is such an important issue these days and it’s not just in your classroom; it’s everyone’s classroom. Heck, even using your district’s computer system means agreeing to their terms and conditions.

Do we even read that? I hope that she follows this post with more research and recommendations about how this could be addressed province-wide. It’s no small task.


And there we go – another great collection of blog posts. Please take the time to read them all and drop off a comment if you’re so inclined.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • EduGals – @Edugals
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Bonnie Stewart – @bonstewart

This Week in Ontario Edublogs