This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday and welcome to another sharing of some of my reading from Ontario Edubloggers I did recently.

Clean those boards

From Cal Armstrong, perhaps a Public Service Announcement. As Cal notes in the post, he has a number of whiteboards around the perimeter of his classroom that he uses regularly. His problem? How to clean them.

He indicates that he’s tried:

  • torn up towels
  • athletic socks
  • plastic bags

That’s quite a collection of ideas!

I never had that many whiteboards but I recall a solution, by accident, that worked out well. I had a microfibre wipe for my glasses sitting on the desk and reached out and actually used it once. It did an amazing job. Of course, they don’t come free and I don’t know how long it would work before it would need to be washed. I just threw it in the wash when I got home. And, truth be told, I only had one whiteboard that I was using. I can’t imagine a whole classroom of them.

Any suggestions? Head over to Cal’s blog and help a colleague out.


From the TESL Ontario blog, a post from Mandeep Somal that I think goes further beyond just the concept of Team Teaching.

I’ll admit; team teaching wasn’t something that I wasn’t able to experience as the only Computer Science teacher in my school. So, I ended up living vicariously through this post.

I think that it’s tough to argue when she outlines how it works…

  • Open communication between teachers – this can consist of daily updates about the class, sharing ideas of what and how to teach, or jointly assessing students’ progress.
  • Efficiency in work – since you know that someone else is depending on you to complete your share of the workload, you become accountable to stay on schedule and get your share done in a timely manner.
  • Greater attention to detail – nobody wants to work with a messy or unorganized teaching partner, thus making you attentive to detail.

My only wonder about this deadlines and holding up your end on things. We all know that things always don’t go as planned when timing it out. Does missing your target cause issues for your partner?

Actually, I have another wonder – read the post and enjoy the philosophy described here – why don’t more people do this?

How to Appreciate Straight Talk

I’ve never met Sue Dunlop; I know her through her writing but if I had to guess, I would have predicted that she was, in fact, a straight shooter.

From this post, it’s not a new thing – she claims to have been this way since she was 18. In the post, she offers a couple of titles to support the notion of proceeding with candor.

In my opinion, it’s most efficient to use straight talk. If you’re honest and truthful, you won’t get caught up in the same discussion at some later date when you have to remember just what it was that you had said if you make it overly flowery or you dance around the issue.

I always appreciated a supervisor who was a straight talker. It was worthwhile knowing her/his position and once you agree on the points, much easier to determine a plan of action.

In a leadership course that I took once, we were encouraged to adopt this type of approach and Sue captures it nicely in the post. The one caution is to make statements on things that are observable and measurable and stay away from things that could be taken as a personal slam to someone.

Friday Two Cents: Being Positive For The New Year

I learned, from this recent post from Paul Gauchi, that he isn’t a contract full-time teacher yet. I guess I considered from the richness of his past posts that he was.

He manages to tie that position into one of not making a resolution for the New Year. No one word here.

Instead, he shares his outlook of positiveness…

  • Have high hopes
  • See the good in bad situations
  • Trust your instincts

The last point is interesting. I wonder – are teacher instincts different from other people’s? Not only do you, as a teacher, act for yourself but you also act and make decisions for students in your charge.

I like this graphic…it says it all.

Words on Fire

I started out reading this post from Sue Bruyns and remember thinking that it was going to be a book report or summary. Of course, it’s from Sue, so I made sure that I read the entire post.

Then, it got real.

But beyond becoming immersed in a world as readers, we also want our students to know the power of creation. We want them to use words, play with words and combine words to create other worlds, to create characters and to create tantalizing images of places that others will want to visit.

That changed the tone just a bit for me. Yes, she was still on about the book but it leads you to realize that reading in education is more than enjoying or understanding a good book. It should move the reader to want to create content on her/his own.

It seems to me that blogging is a great place to start in order to support this.

Snippets #3

Peter Beens is back with a summary and commentary on some of his recent posts. A couple really caught my interest.

Trump Properties

We definitely live in a challenging world and the recent acts and responses should give worldly travellers pause to consider their destination. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and some of the passengers on that Ukrainian flight were from the University of Windsor, but I would think carefully about places that I would care to visit.

If You’re an Avro Arrow Fan…

I’m old enough to appreciate the amount of Canadiana that surrounded the Avro. Like Peter, I feel that it’s a part of our history and it’s a good thing that these blueprints weren’t destroyed so that we might all be able to enjoy them. Would history have changed if this project hadn’t been scrapped?

The Memory Thief

This is a story that we’re seeing more and more of and many of us have lived through. It’s not a pleasant thing. In fact, when we were younger, there was so little that we knew about it. We sure know a great deal more today.

In this post, Judy Redknine shares a story of love and caring between her and her mother. She writes in great detail the process that they both have endured and the struggle through dealing with dementia.

Very appropriately, she addresses this illness as a thief stealing parts of a wonderful life.

Stealing is all about vulnerability. My mother is vulnerable. We are all vulnerable. Today her priceless treasures remain locked in a strong box. Her joy, her laughter, her love of nature, of music, of stories, of people, of ice cream, and chocolate. All fiercely protected by the superpower of love; guarded by friends and family. She is full of grace.

It’s a long, detailed read. You can’t help but feel the love and well up with a sense of empathy at the same time.

It’s another Friday of great reads. Please take the time to click through and read all that these bloggers are offerings.

And then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @sig225
  • @TESLontario
  • @dunlop_sue
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @sbruyns
  • @pbeens
  • @redknine

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


If you asked me to name a shipwreck, like many, I would give you Edmund Fitzgerald and Titanic. That’s about all that comes to mind.

It’s not that I haven’t been aware of more. I grew up close to Lake Huron and now live close to Lake Erie. Watching big ships glide past has always been a pastime, and an exciting one at that. I always stop to watch when I have the chance to see one up close or even one sitting on the horizon.

There is always something intriguing about a marine museum and I’ve visited many. To be honest, I can visit them many times and it always seems like the first time.

The latest one around here is an outdoor museum in Olde Sandwich, Prosperity Place.

An interesting resource came to my attention recently. Michigan Shipwrecks indicates that there have been 6000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes and some 1500 are in Michigan waters. I don’t know about you but those numbers just blow me away.

This website, and corresponding application, identify those that are in Michigan waters.

The locations are identified by difficulty for underwater divers.

But, you can learn about each by just clicking on a point and reading the details.

A searchable database of Ontario Shipwrecks is available here. Yes, the Edmund Fitzgerald is in there.

A university sport?

Like many people, I will be watching the NCAA Football Championship game tonight. Clemson will play Louisiana State University starting at 8:00 and it’s broadcast here in Canada on TSN. Actually, looking at the television guide, the pre-pre-pre-pre-game show starts at 1:30 this afternoon.

University football is kind of a big thing. I remember the games at Seagram Stadium where both the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University played their home games when I was going to school. According to the link above, it seats 6 000 fans. While I wasn’t a regular at all the games, the ones that I did attend weren’t exactly jammed pack.

In second year, my roommate played for Laurier and I got to meet many of the players when they would drop by. I don’t recall any of them having any illusions that they were going to play in the NFL. Some of them did end up in the CFL though. But, they stayed in school and got their degree before moving on.

I couldn’t help but think about the difference in university football between Canada and the United States as I read this story.

LSU cancels classes for national championship;
make-up days are likely, school says

It was kind of difficult to imagine football taking over university life, at least as I know it. Even the venue is considerably different. The Superdome can seat 75 000+ people for this event. That’s just unfathomable to me for a university sporting event.

Does the expression “university sporting event” even ring true though? Soon, there will be players that leave their school without a degree so that they might be drafted into the NFL.

Then, this. While they may aspire at one time to represent their school in a big Bowl Game,

College Football Players Not Playing in Bowl Games

The biggest reason often is the desire not to get injured and hurt their chances at getting drafted and a big professional contract.

To pretend that it’s an active part of university life really seems silly. Yes, there will be cheering squads and bands, and the stands will be painted with school colours.

And graduates will be hit up for donations after the game to maintain the program.

But look beyond all that and see what’s left.

Since the goal really seems to be to train players for a professional sporting career, is it time to change the mindset away from this being a school activity? What if each professional football team ended up sponsoring college teams and providing services and really make it a minor league designed for training for the big league? For many, that’s all it is.

It’s probably not realistic but at least there would be a legitimacy to explain how things are handled and a club to make sure that players play. Skip a Bowl Game and you become ineligible for the big team.

I know that it’s not workable and tonight will be a really, really big show. Despite my thoughts above, I will be watching.

A new way to read

This is a cool concept and it comes courtesy of the New York Public Library. They’ve embarked on a program to make traditional books available on Instagram.

Now, if you think of it, classics like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” are available in text form in just about every library in the world. It’s even available for download on your device since it’s in the public domain. I have a printed copy in my bookshelf and a copy on my iPad.

It’s been interpreted in many forms…

Alan Parson’s Project (second song)

Vincent Price (a reading)

And now on Instagram, courtesy of the NYPL!

It was interesting to see what it looks like on a cellphone.

The collection, so far, is available here:

What do you think? A viable new media format?

voicEd Radio recognition

Now three years or so ago now, I received an interesting proposal from Stephen Hurley. He was starting a radio station and was inviting me to broadcast This Week in Ontario Edublogs on the station. Until that time, it was just a regular Friday morning blog post.

This seemed kind of interesting; I know that Stephen is from the GTA so I started to think about great Toronto radio stations – CFTR, CHUM, CFRB, CHFI, CHIN, Q107, and more. Would it be possible for him to fit in there?

Of course, Stephen’s vision didn’t involve an antenna on the CN Tower. In the tradition of Radio ds106, this was going to be internet radio. Visit the right website, turn on your media player and away you go. People would upload podcasts and Stephen would play them. Now, podcasting wasn’t new to me; I’d done them years ago as part of the Computers in Education Portal on the school district website. This vision had the potential to be something bigger and with a larger potential audience.

His proposal went a bit further; instead of uploading the show strictly as a podcast, we would do it live and also record it for playback. And we were off. The first shows were short and very amateurish on my end. Stephen does have a great radio voice and presence and really carried the show. I like to think it’s got better over the years.

In fact, this whole dream of Stephen’s to have a radio station devoted to education continues to get better and better.

So good, in fact, when Diana Maliszewski suggested that Stephen’s baby be nominated for an OLA Award, it only made sense. Over the years, teacher-librarians and support for their role in education had assumed a significant support on the various shows broadcast on voicEd radio.

Diana let those of us who had supported the nomination know this past weekend that the OLA did want to honour Stephen and voicEd Radio this year with the Ontario Library Association Media and Communications Award.

The OLA Media and Communications Award was established to reward
individuals and companies that present libraries and librarians in a constructive light, breaking down stereotypical images often associated with the profession. To qualify, the coverage must appear in Canadian magazines, newspapers or journals, be heard on Canadian radio stations, be viewed on Canadian television, or be on Canadian web sites. Any OLA member may suggest a candidate for the award. The final decision rests with the OLA Board of Directors.

Past winners are listed here.

There are, in fact, a few traditional radio stations that have been recognised in the past on that list. voicEd Radio fits in nicely.

The only remaining detail was how to let Stephen know that he would be recognised this year. Doing it live on This Week in Ontario Edublogs seemed like a natural and it was done this Wednesday morning. You can listen to it from the archive here.

Over the years, Stephen has used his platform to enable various voices in education. His slogan is “Your voice is right here”. It only seemed logical to let Stephen’s voice accept the nomination live and hopefully with a little surprise.

He let the world know a little later in the day on Twitter.

voicEd radio has indeed given many educators a spot for their voice and it’s growing. The current lineup can be found here.

I’m so happy with the Ontario Library Association’s decision to recognise Stephen this year. It is a worthy recognition for a current, living, evolving innovation in education.

Congratulations, Stephen.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Because of the holidays, I had accumulated a collection of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Now, it’s time to get caught up!

New Wheels

I don’t know about you but I love shopping for a new vehicle. There’s so much to be learned from figuring out what’s on the market and doing a vehicle comparison to comparison and then the biggy – what’s my trade-in worth.

Before Christmas, Diana Maliszewski went through the process and bought herself a brand new car.

If you’ve ever been through the process, you’ll love this post. It’s got it all…

  • memories of old cars
  • advice from friends and colleagues
  • doing the footwork going in
  • comparing products (Diana uses a Google document to do that – every car salesperson’s worst nightmare)
  • narrowing the field

and then buying! Read the post to check out what she bought and how she haggled.

p.s. her new vehicle squints

Learning from Strangers Online

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, we’ve all passed along the advice about “Stranger Danger” and given the warning about what could happen when you friend the wrong person.

The problem, though, is that connecting with the “right stranger” can be one of the more powerful things that you can do in the classroom. So, where’s the magic moment when this can happen?

In this post, Jennifer shares her thoughts including an example of another teacher trying to make meaningful connections for his class. In particular, individuals were in search of mentors.

It’s a nice testament to just what can happen and you might just land yourself in a position of making an important connection.

I couldn’t miss the irony that Jennifer had me do some proofreading online of her book and that was before we had ever met face to face. It wasn’t an entirely random event; I like to think that she chose wisely.

Konmaring* Relationships

In this post, Debbie Donsky brings in a connection between relationships and Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that don’t bring you joy.

In this, “things” might also include relationships. As Debbie notes in this rather long post/story, not all friendships are for a lifetime.

I guess that makes a great deal of sense although I hadn’t thought about it in this way before. She notes that, at times, maintaining the relationships and friendships can be a challenge. Given her history and movement through education channels, I can completely understand.

She suggests some things

  1. Commit yourself to think about the relationships/friendships you have in your life.
  2. Imagine what an ideal relationship/friendship would feel like, sound like.(For example if it is a coach, a mentor, a colleague)
  3. Sincerely thank the person for the relationship/friendship you have had with them.
  4. Consider if this is a professional or personal relationship/friendship and what boundaries you might need to create to maintain or grow the relationship.
  5. Ask yourself if this relationship/friendship sparks joy.

If it doesn’t spark joy, then there are things that need to be done.

If those relationships are maintained via social media, there are quick and easy ways to remove those that don’t spark joy for you. I think there is another element to be considered; people often do take actions in a harsh manner. Are you prepared for the consequences?

One Word x 12

It’s the new year and one thing that you often notice in blogging and other social media is people identifying and presumably acting on their One Word for 2020. You can follow the discussion in Ontario with the hashtag @OneWordONT. Donna Fry is trying to push the concept Canada wide here.

Beth Lyons is taking a interesting and non-standard (if there is something standard…) approach. She’s not committed to one word for twelve months. Instead, she’s looking for one word per month. In her post, there are no rules against using the same word more than once so that’s an opportunity to continue or reuse.

She builds a good case for what she’s proposing. I wonder if those who read her blog might jump the traditional approach in favour of this. She doesn’t offer 12 words yet – but has a good start.

The good thing is that she’s planning to commit a blog post to each over the year so blog readers (and people who write or podcast about others’ blog posts) will be the big winners.

What is the purpose of a bulletin board?

From my year at the Faculty of Education, it was drilled into us to have bulletin boards that looked great so that when you got inspected and evaluated, whoever was the classroom guest would be impressed. Oh, and also, make sure that they are changed before your second inspection. Why, oh why, do I remember stuff like that?

Deborah Weston gives a nice discussion about the various ways that bulletin boards can be handled. The rationale I gave above isn’t one of them!

I always used bulletin boards but they were created by students as part of their research and assessment. It kept them fresh and allowed students to do something unique and different. They absolutely did a better job than what I could have done.

There was a move a few years ago to display all kinds of achievement data there; thank goodness we’ve gone beyond that.

Deborah gives a nice list of ideas; they’re well worth reading and considering. They’re not all on the same train of thought and that can only be a good thing.

I really like this piece of advice.

For me, in the end what matters is that the students feel like the classroom belongs to them as they have designed it – like an extension of their home space.


I thought that, after reading the first paragraph of this post from Alanna King, that we were going to really get into the concept of recliner chairs. For me, it’s my very best working space. Period. End of Concept.

What else ya got Alanna?

Actually, she’s got a great deal more than that and the topic has nothing to do with recliners! I really enjoyed her walk through authors and concepts. She openly identifies and shares what she considers her biases – we all have them so we shouldn’t feel too badly about that – but I think it’s different from the mind of a teacher-librarian.

As a human, we know what we like to read and naturally gravitate to it. We know when we feel we should be pushed and we might do so at times. But, when you’re crafting a literacy resource for an entire school, it’s an entirely different ball game. You need to not only consider yourself but everyone else.

My immediate thought was about schools who don’t have teacher-librarians championing the acquisition of resources and understanding a school of a thousand or so with differing needs. How can they even presume to play on the same field? A teacher-librarian is so crucial.

I also did have a bit of a smile; I don’t know if Alanna gave us a quick tour of her school’s library or of the books that you could see from sitting in that new recliner.

Tears Now, Acceptance Later

Eva Thompson’s back at the keyboard! Yay!

Good teachers observe and this is what she’s seeing…

More and more I see students stressed out, succumbing to anxiety, feeling isolated and struggling with self esteem.  Part of these issues are tied into school performance and acceptance. I need to address it in my programming. I must.

As a teacher of the gifted, Eva’s students would be an interesting collection. Academically, they may well not have been challenged at the same level as others. It’s easy to understand because there are lots of other students in the regular classroom that would be seemingly needing more attention.

As a result, Eva is working hard to challenge her students and providing situations where they WILL fail. (Emphasis hers)

It’s an interesting read and works as a reminder that not all students are the same and they shouldn’t be treated or even challenged in the same way.

It’s a great blogging start to 2020. Please take the time to visit these terrific posts and drop off a comment or two.

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

  • @MzMollyTL
  • @jcasatodd
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • @DrDWestonPhD
  • @banana29
  • @leftyeva

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

An artistic discovery

I was having a coffee with a friend recently and we were talking about the Group of Seven. It’s not a topic that I’m an expert in but I like to think I know enough to at least have a passing conversation. At its best, it was one of the things from our conversation.

When I got home, of course, I had to fact check myself in case I had to offer an apology when we next got together. Thanks to the internet and Wikipedia, I was on it in a flash.

It was only when I started to explore the actual artwork that I discovered this incredible resource – WikiArt.

It’s an encyclopedia collection of artwork from, seemingly everywhere.

Of course, the Group of Seven was there.

But that was truly the tip of the iceberg. Pictures indeed from everywhere are just a click away. Even better, each of the images comes with a complete background and explanation. It’s like having all the artwork in the world assembled in one place and you having your own personal guide.

I guess it should come as no surprise that this resource exists. I’m just late to the party, I guess. For educators, definitely bookmark material.