This Week in Ontario Edublogs


On Wednesday night, we celebrated four years of the TWIOE podcast with a live show in the evening. It felt like a big deal – doing it in prime time! It was a late decision but three of the Ontario Edubloggers were free and available to join us to talk about their work and that of the others. Thanks, Jen Aston, Sue Bruyns, and Cal Armstrong. I’ve learned to give everyone more notice if we ever decide to do something like this again. All of them had great blog posts and that made it all worthwhile.


IS “TEACHING LOSS” A MYTH, TOO?

For me, this post from Pav Wander was a real thought inspiration. I read it three or four times before I think I understood her message. Then, I was ready to talk about it and write this on passage number five. I’m still not totally convinced that I’ve fully understood her message and thoughts as she covers so much here. This really goes to the essence of being a teacher.

We all start out in this profession as newbies and get better year after year. Those who take parental leave have a break in that growth that requires some catching up. Like the topic of “learning loss”, Pav identifies it as “teaching loss”. I’m wondering if another way of defining it might be “teaching slide”.

In the post, she identifies six areas of personal concern to her.

  • Making Connections with Teachers and Students
  • Leadership opportunities 
  • Professional development 
  • Testing New pedagogies 
  • Teaching evolving content 
  • Extracurricular Activities

All of the topics are fleshed out in her perspective. I can’t do her thoughts justice here – you need to read her entire post. I found the discussion of Professional Development (PD) particularly interesting since it was part of what I did for so many years. I find it ironic that she felt a personal loss there since her podcast with Chey Cheney is all about professional learning. It seems to me that the two of them have morphed from the consumer of PD to the facilitator of PD and have done so nicely. And, if you’ve every provided PD opportunities, you know that you need to do 10 hours of prep or more for every hour of delivery.

She does raise an interesting thought – school and board budgets will have balances of unspent PD monies. I can’t help but think that the first organization that is out of the blocks with face to face events will be the big beneficiaries of access to this fund.

This topic isn’t just a blog post – it’s also a podcast available here.


Red Licorice for Breakfast

As I said in the show, Jen Aston had my attention at her reference to teaching puberty online last year. I honestly had never considered this but the show has to go on. Students mature whether they’re learning at school or at home. And, expectations have to be addressed.

That was just the tip of this fantastically funny blog post. It’s her story of teaching at home with her kids who are learning and growing and going to the bathroom “Wipe my bum” while she’s doing her teaching thing. I appreciate that she took into consideration the sensitivities of a five year old who didn’t need to sit in on the details of that lesson on puberty.

I had images running through my mind as I pictured Jen’s experience – leaving the teaching chair for a minute and having one of her own kids take over her class.

During the show, she was hilariously relating these stories between outbursts of her own laughter and I’ll admit it was infectious. I had to turn off my own mic at times as I laughed along with her.

She’s looking for other stories of things going wrong differently during teaching at home. Do you have any to offer?


Back to the Beginning

I was envious of Sue Bruyns who ended her first day of classes by going to Althouse College to teach teacher candidates. I went there for Additional Qualifications courses with Professor John Walsh years ago. I remember a delightful older facilities that I’m told is really modernizing itself these days. At the time, we were also explicitly told that it was the Faculty of Education and not Althouse College.

But, 25 minutes before that class started, it ended a hectic first day of school for her at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. It’s a fantastic, new facility that any visitor just knew would be outgrown. I’ve been there twice as part of EdCamp London and you can just see the new home construction going on in the neighbourhood.

As was everywhere else in the province, it was a big and strategic opening with classes organized outside the school rather than the traditional reporting to home rooms. In her blog post, she gave the student population at 900 and corrected it to 1000 during the show. Like so many schools, it’s time for a panic call to 1-800-CALL-A-PORTAPACK.

Of course, all those students need a teacher and teachers need to park cars and you can guess the mess that creates. One of the things about Sue though is that she always seems to have things under control – you can hear it in the show – but I had to smile when she indicated that this principal also directs traffic.


How do we see students?

Jonathan So uses the word problemizing in this post and so I had to do a lookup to make sure I had it right.

Problematization of a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges that invite the people involved to transform those situations.

It was in reference to how you react when kids just don’t get it. I suspect that many of us put the blame on the students because, after all, we taught it. They have a responsibility to learn it, right?

Jonathan digs into this in a reflection of practice that’s a good idea for all educators. Maybe it isn’t the student after all; maybe it’s your practice. And, is it amplified during times of COVID when the number of tools available to you are a subset of what you would normally have?

I also think that part of it is the type of person that becomes a teacher. We were successful in school and, when we had challenges, we knew that we had to work harder and ask questions and do some extra to get it done. That is a unique mindset and we know that not everyone has it.

There’s a great deal to think about with respect to how you teach and look at those kids in front of you.


I shall find a way…

This was a great post from Cal Armstrong that reminded me of some of the best learning that I’ve experienced reading blogs. Someone has a problem, finds, and writes to describes a solution. It’s a generous mindset; it you’ve solve a problem, why not share your problem solving for those who might have the same problem or for some people who don’t quite know that they have this problem.

The problem then?

Cal’s school has required all teachers to use a new LMS. Many people, I suspect, would say OK, I’ve got to do some learning.

Not Cal.

In this case, he’s spent years becoming an expert in the OneNote world and isn’t prepared to abandon it. He know that he’s expected to have his work in the new LMS and so goes to work to create a world where he can continue to use his skills with OneNote and just pipe it over to the LMS.

I’ve never had to work in this environment but I found that Cal’s descriptor was crisp and clear and I could see it working.

The comment to his post is testament that if you provide a tutorial good enough to work, there just may be value to others. In this case, an educator from Houston read the post and found it appropriate and let Cal know so.


Picking Out The Highlights of The Scenery

When I saw the title to Terry Greene’s recent post, I wondered – what the heck is he talking about now? Autumn wise, his neck of the woods is a couple of weeks ahead of us here so maybe …

or maybe a reference to Gord Downie …

Terry’s latest work is titled: Ontario Extend: Liberated Learners Edition

I’m intrigued because his earlier work gave us a collection of post-secondary bloggers and reflectionists that got us into their minds.

At this point, he shares some stories that resulted from “Wicked Problems”.

  • Anti-Social Sociology Major
  • Crayola markers got me through the first year of University
  • Captain Depresso
  • Teaching Incon-(ass)istant
  • Extra-Curricular Extremist
  • Fake It Till You Make It
  • The Social Caterpillar
  • zzZZzzzzZoom University
  • Fishing for 60’s

How to access these and how to access a series of community webinars can be found in the post.


NEW GOOGLE SMART CHIPS TO LEVEL UP YOUR HYPERDOCS

The EduGals are back with an interesting post. They had me at HyperDocs because it’s a strategy that I firmly believe it. It’s also a strategy that has been abused and ended up being simply an electronic worksheet. I know the works of the EduGals, Rachel and Katie, wouldn’t be that shallow.

It’s a rather long post but I think worth taking the time to read and understand. They talk about the concept of the Smart Chip and its functionality before turning to HyperDocs. I got interested in the concept years ago through WebQuests.

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium at The Thacher School in Ojai, California.

I think that the notion is more important than ever. Anyone can create a worksheet that has answers easily found by Google but when you ask them to take those answers and create something new, it gets really powerful.

I’ve been working my way through the EduGals’ post and appreciate their push to make me do some new learning.


Oh, yes, it’s another collection of inspiration for you to do some professional learning as a result. To continue the discussion, follow these folks on Twitter.


  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Jonathan So – @mrsoclassroom
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Terry Green – @greeneterry
  • Edugals – @Edugals

This week’s show on voicEd Radio:

An Interview with Rabia Khokhar


Through Social Media, I’ve made connections with Rabia Khokhar just this year.  She had written a powerful blog post that I brought to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show and this blog.  The depth and the wisdom told me this is a special person that I need to follow and I was delighted to learn more about her via this interview.

Rabia is an Occasional Teacher at Toronto District School Board. (for now!) She is also a Consultant in equity, anti-oppressive education.

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Doug:  My first question is always the same and helps to set the stage – do you recall the first time our paths crossed?

Rabia: Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview, it is such an honour! I remember coming across and reading your blog/tweets on Twitter especially your #FollowFriday. But what I remember as our first interaction was your kind support this summer of my Summer Reading Challenge that centers Muslim characters. I think that’s when I got to know your work more in depth. Thank you for your support.

Doug:  Now, you describe yourself as a Teacher-Librarian, but when I looked at your qualifications with the College of Teachers, you seem to be taking AQ courses in so many different areas?  Is there a master plan for all this work?

Rabia: haha! No master plan really, but what I am interested in is thinking critically about what equity and social justice education looks like in different subjects so I think that’s where my passion for the different AQ courses comes from. I am really interested in learning first how equity and social justice education must be something happening all the time across all subjects and then trying to model for others as well.

Doug:  It was the end of June when you wrote and published the post that really caught my attention.  It was called Reading Challenge: Centering Muslim Characters.  

https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/reading-challenges

I remember being struck by the focus – it was a collection of 25 books.  Did you go out with this project in mind or had you just been collecting books all along and finally decide to publish it?

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar
From: rabiakhokhar.com

Rabia: This is a great question and something I have been thinking about as well. It was definitely a process and a project I had been working on for a while but then put it on the back burner since school became busy. Since there are so many misrepresentations of the Muslim community, I wanted to use books to counter the stereotypes and monolithic representations. But when the recent rise of Anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia was happening, I really wanted to do something to counter this hate. My work involves a lot of children’s books, so I saw them as a tangible tool to engage in this work. So I spent some time finishing it up and then sharing it on my social media platforms.

Doug:  The response to your publication was phenomenal from my perspective.  I don’t know how far the spread went but I remember that you were highly sought after for interviews by both social and traditional media.  Can you share a little about where you got your message out?

Rabia: I agree, the response has been phenomenal! It is definitely not something I had imagined but so grateful that this reading challenge found its way into the hands and hearts of so many people, all of different identities and backgrounds committed to creating more just and inclusive communities. It was so incredible to see the Reading Challenge travel all over the world and to do interviews/reviews for Canadian, American, South African news outlets/magazines and podcasts! I love that this connected people and I think this is the power of working together for justice. It is about coming together, building bridges and ensuring interconnectedness and dignity for all. I am humbled that my reading challenge can play a small role in this big commitment. 

Doug:  I went back to my notes for the show and this is what I had written to jog my mind as Stephen Hurley and I discussed the post on This Week in Ontario Edublogs.

Important post
Reading challenge for summer where Muslim characters are featured in books
Announced the interview on Facebook

It was posted 3 minutes later
The spread on social media 

  • People want it
  • Retweeted or favourited by people from all over the world
  • New people for Ontario Educators list
  • Would it be important if I hadn’t gone into education?
  • Shared with Lindsey
  • How do kids get access over the summer?
  • Little libraries – Colchester, Essex, and Leamington

To explain a couple of things from my notes – 

  • “New people” were folks that retweeted the #FollowFriday post where I’d mentioned her name and post
  • “Lindsey” is a friend of mine who is a librarian at a local library
  • Little libraries have been a go-to for us during lockdown – I find it an interesting summary of community curation

At the time, the big question for me was “how” kids would get access over the summer with schools closed.  After all, this post came out towards the end of June.  I’m assuming that you would see students go to their local public library?

Rabia: I did envision that these could become books kids could access from their local library and hoped they would make it into school libraries and bookstores. What I learned through this and upon reflection was the importance of accessibility of resources. I believe that all kids need books about all kids and the library is a space where all can have access and benefit. I hope that these books and even more make it to all schools, libraries and bookstores. In my own experience as I travel to more libraries and bookstores, I see things changing in terms of what is displayed and available. I feel so happy seeing this because I believe this is how we create change in communities that can create impact. Small intentional choices and actions by those who have power in these spaces (schools, libraries, bookstores etc) to curate responsively will create ripple effects!

Doug:  With a return to school, the collection should garner more attention by educators.  If you were to visit a school in the Toronto District School Board, how many of these books would you expect to see on the shelves?

Rabia: I think that as we push towards more justice and equity especially in terms of issues of representation, school libraries are at the forefront leading and advocating for this important change. I would hope to see quite a few of these books and I would hope that this reading challenge can be something educators can use to continue building a responsive, relevant and contextual collection in their schools that affirms as well expands student’s identities, experiences and thinking.

Doug:  Have you ever considered writing or collaborating with others on a book of your own with this type of focus?

Rabia: I would love to write a book…oneday! I am learning that writing a children’s book is hard and complicated. It has to be just right! I have some ideas and hope one day they will make their way into a book.

Doug:  I wish you well with that project.  You’ve done the research and made it a passion so it should be a natural next step.  With the new school year starting in a couple of weeks, what are your plans?  Do you have a full-time placement for September?

Rabia: I can’t believe that the new school year is almost here! Postings for jobs came out a few weeks ago so I am applying to some and hoping something comes up! Overall, I am excited to work with students and to continue considering equity and critical thinking in any teaching assignment I may end up in.

Doug:  Good luck with the application.  I hope that you are soon able to remove “Occasional” from your descriptor. 

What are your personal goals for the upcoming school year?

Rabia: I am starting a Flex time Phd program and so far have enrolled in two courses. I am hoping that I am able to manage the course and continue bringing theory to practice in the different spaces I have the privilege to be in. I also hope to continue reading and doing some book reviews on my website as well as expand my consulting services especially in the professional development category. 

Doug:  I see that you’re back at it.  Just a couple of days ago, you curated a collection of books about families and shared it to your blog.  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/post/must-have-books-about-families

How has the response been to this post?

Rabia: There have been many people who have really shown this post  love. I am so incredibly grateful for the support. In this post, I really wanted to center and show all of the beautiful and diverse families that make up our communities. I think being seen builds a sense of belonging and all people need to feel like they belong and are welcome in their communities. Family is an important and big topic we think about in schools and if we can continue to expand our ideas around families through listening to our students and then bringing forward inclusive books, I really think we can create a change by fostering respect. 

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Doug:  Congratulations need to be extended with your recent recognition from ETFO.
Toronto teacher Rabia Khokhar wins ETFO Anti-Racist and Equity Activism Award

https://www.etfo.ca/news-publications/media-releases/onto-teacher-rabia-khokhar-wins-etfo-anti-racist-and-equity-activism-award

What does this award mean to you?  Are you inspired to continue your activist role?

Image copyright – Rabia Khokhar

Rabia: This award means the world to me! It is such an honour and really a dream come true.  I think it affirms for me the power of equity work and the power of bringing it from theory to practice. I feel very happy about it because equity is deeply foundational to my work as an educator but also as a human being as I consider my role to create positive change in the spaces I occupy. It also means so much to me because of my family and the wider community’s support I have received. I have always been passionate about equity and to receive this recognition is humbling and energizing for me to continue doing this work. I think this award is also really important to me because it counters the many stereotypes I experience because of my identities. In many ways it helps me make space for myself-with all of my identities, thoughts, experiences and expertise. This award is a reminder for me that equity work is deeply hopeful work, it is us coming together to create inclusive communities. It is an honour to be part of this journey.

Doug:  The award should lend credence to your abilities and consulting services.  Are school districts doing enough to support equity in their systems?  

Rabia: I think what is positive is that in many school boards this is a central conversation and commitment that is being centered. I think this is a good start. From what I can see there are initiatives being taken to bring equity from theory to practice at all levels and for various stakeholders. I think the message needs to continue that equity is not an add on, it is really the reason we are all here. We need to continue using our positional power and spheres of influence to center and work towards this change which benefits all students.

Doug:  I think your observation about “add ons” is so important.  Education is bad for piling on. What additional things could/should be done?

Rabia: I think that to truly ensure an equitable education system for students of all identities and lived experiences there needs to be individual as well as systemic commitments to change. I think there needs to be policies that guide and frame our work. There needs to continue to be structures in place that ensure accountability and measuring where we are, where we need to go and how we will get there. As well as continued opportunities of professional development for educators because our pedagogy impacts the experiences students have in their learning environments. Overall, I think equity needs to continue to be prioritized and centered at all levels for all stakeholders so that the message that is sent is that it is not an additive approach but rather a shared responsibility for all people.

Doug:  Thank you so much for the interview, Rabia.  I wish you well with your various initiatives and look forward to reading more on your blog.

Rabia: Thank you so much for this opportunity and for all of your support! I really appreciate it!  It has been so great reflecting and sharing with you. I look forward to staying connected.

You can follow Rabia on social media.

Twitter:  @Rabia_Khokhar1
Facebook:  Rabia Khokhar
Website:  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/
Blog:  https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/blog-1

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week’s voicEd Radio show featured Pav Wander and Chey Cheney as guest hosts. They inspired some great conversations and we went well over the hour time limit. If it didn’t all get played live, it is available for playback as a podcast – link below.


Tightrope

Chey and Pav have a rather unique blog. Yes, we’ve looked at a couple of their blog posts in the past but generally, they don’t write the posts themselves.

Instead, they open the blog to anyone who was inspired by their podcasts to share their feelings via a post. As noted on the show and a few times, there is no gatekeeper and so they welcome friendly replies and those from others who challenge them.

In Episode 90 of The Staff Room Podcast, they talked about dealing with the topic of racism and oppression with students. The timing of the podcast was important as it was near the end of the school year and they were reflecting on incidents that had happened in Ontario at the time.

In response to the post, Manuel Garcés Jr. wrote a response. But it was no normal response; in this case he responded with a poem that forces you to slow down to read and interpret its meaning.


Strum Into Song

Earlier this week, Noa Daniel sent me a link to a YouTube video. Now, we all know and love Noa but my first reaction with any link sent to me – I check it out very carefully to make sure that it’s not a scam. It wasn’t.

Instead, it was a video that was crafted to support her recent book publication.

Around here, it was an instant ear worm.

In the post, Noa shares with us how the video came from an idea to the final product. I was impressed with the connections and how her community came together to make it happen. It’s a great read.

In addition to the story and the video, Noa shares with the community access to a mailing list where ideas for using the book and video will be distributed. If you’re a musician yourself, there’s also a link to the sheet music so that you play it yourself.

As Pav said on the radio show, this blog post reads like it is the liner notes to the song.


How I Approach the First Days and Weeks of School

Yeah, it’s closing in on that time of year. Many people are putting together their plans for the opening of school and Shawna Rothgeb-Bird shares her thoughts and idea for her French Immersion classroom.

I would suspect that everyone will be subjected to rules and criteria for what can happen so these plans may change as September draws closer. It’s an interesting read. As a secondary school teacher, I didn’t have the same type of schedule so I was really interested in the power of her approach to unstructured outdoor play.

I was reminded of this Yogi Berra quote.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Shawna explains what’s she’s observing a watching outside.

  • Who already has a social group?
  • Who doesn’t seem to have many connections in the class?
  • What kinds of activities do they choose?
  • Who prefers to hang out with me and chat?
  • Who ignores all of the equipment and opts to sit down and read, walk and talk, etc. instead?

Timing, Tracking, and Tiring

In typical Diana Maliszewski fashion, this weekly post from her is complex and touches on a number of issues.

Her commitment to the teacher-librarian community is evident in the learning opportunities that she’s affording educators this summer. She’s involved in two learning events.

  • ETFO Academy “SA-04-22 SEEING AND SUPPORTING STUDENT GROWTH: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION”
  • Queen’s University Teacher-Librarianship Part 1 AQ
  • and she’s agreed to run another late summer one as well

There’s also a section in her about her caring for herself with physical fitness. Like most people, she’s been challenged by the inability to get to her gym and so shares a long story about that. I suspect that she’s writing for many people with the same perspective.


Quilting and Math

When my wife and I were first going out, it was very common to go into her family’s rec room where her mother would have a quilt on the go. It took up most of the room but it was worth it. The efforts, as it was all done by hand, were terrific. There typically was a solid back and then patchwork on the front gathered from scraps of materials.

As a mathematics nerd, I’d look for patterns in the quilt and often would see them. All of us were gifted with one of these hand made treasures at one point.

If you drive in Kent County, there’s another chance to appreciate the artwork in quilts along the Barn Quilt Trail. It’s an interesting opportunity to drive along and be inspired by these pieces of art.

In this blog post, Terry Whitmell puts another interesting twist to the artistry that goes into quilting. She starts with the mathematics and products a quilt devoted to displaying the mathematics. The post is an interesting read of the process and also includes the use of an Excel worksheet.

The real beauty is that she shares some pictures of the final products. So, if you’re interested in seeing what the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence looks like as a quilt, click through and see.


SUMMER READING LIST FOR TEACHERS – E054

From the EduGals, Katie Attwell and Rachel Johnson, a podcast and a blog post of books that they’re reading and what they would recommend for other educators to read.

There are some familiar titles in the list and, for me, some new ones.

This is the sort of post to pass along to your school’s community or teacher-librarian to have included in the community’s professional resources.


The 500 – #359 – Honky Chateau – Elton John

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Elton John live in concert. But, my record collection certainly contains his content as well as my CD collection. It just sounds old typing that…

But, this album goes back to 1972. Wow.

It appears in the top 500 list of all time best albums that Marc Hodgkinson found and is now blogging his way through. This really was an awesome listening experience.

Thanks to YouTube, we can enjoy a couple of the songs from that album.

How many times have we seen Rocket Man used as a sound track in other media?


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these great blog posts. Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Chey Cheney – @mrccheney
  • Pav Wander@PavWander
  • Noa Daniel – @iamnoadaniel
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

The voicEd Radio show

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Melanie White joined Stephen Hurley and me on the radio show this week. It was a great opportunity for discussion and, just like her blogging, her thoughts had me thinking afterwards. That’s always a good thing.

Here are the blog posts that we chatted about on the show and a couple bonus ones.


Resonances #SOL2021

It was a week of vacation and then Melanie White and colleagues were back at it, lesson planning. This time, they’re working on a Grade 9 destreamed grade 9 English classes. I think we’re all aware of what’s going to happen with Grade 9 Mathematics and, if successful, the concept will probably extend to other subject areas and English certainly would be one of them. As I read this, I thought they were just getting ahead of the game.

Then, her discussion turned to music. I initially thought that was a strange twist until I realized that I’m listening to music as I type this. It’s how I work best so why not others. It resonated with Melanie:

To resonate is to vibrate, to reverberate, to carry across, to understand.

She closes with an interesting thought about the sounds of music and voice and how they resonate with her. I couldn’t have said it so eloquently and I think she totally nailed it. In the show, we touched on the difference between digital and everything else when it came to music.


The power in gathering 

I’ve heard and used the expression, “when you get the right people in the right place at the same time, amazing things happen”. I don’t know who to attribute it to but it rings so true to me.

For Ann Marie Luce, it started online with a group of “bad-ass women leaders striving to disrupt and change the landscape for other women leaders” and she describes the process that ended up in a face-to-face meeting.

Their focus?

  • Challenging the status quo
  • Making room at the table for other women 
  • Mentoring women of all ages
  • Empowering women 
  • Sponsoring women
  • Asking difficult questions
  • Getting uncomfortable 
  • Pushing limits, boundaries, and thinking
  • Wanting more and demanding more
  • Speaking up
  • Using our singular and collective voices. 
  • Gathering with other women in the community.
  • Journeying together
  • Being vulnerable 

It’s such a powerful list. The one that really struck me was about “gathering with other women in the community”. Years ago, through a partnership with IBM, we sponsored a “Women in Technology” program for Grade 7 and 8 girls. They were excused from their regular class to work with a group of women from the community. The product was to produce a webpage but the real magic happened just with the discussion amongst them with their mentor. My part was in the organizing and to bring the snacks. Then, I left. The feedback from teachers, mentors, and the students themselves was overly positive. I did have an inside to what was going on; my daughter a university student at the time, shared her experience. She felt it so overwhelmingly positive.

So yes, Ann Marie, continue to collect these bad-ass disruptors.


Decodable Texts and Other Reading Programs? What is the difference?

I learned so much from this post from Deborah McCallum. I think I knew much of the basic concepts going into the post but I’ve never taught in this area so it was really at a cursory level.

In the post, she explains how decodable texts work as well as leveled reading programs. Somehow, I guess, they were all tied together but it’s much deeper than that. I can understand now Reading is an additional qualifications course.

There are some links in the blog post to free decodable resources if you’re looking for them.

She had me thinking about my own process of learning how to read. I don’t recall any particular issues but I learned how to read better when I bought a book at Coles that taught me how to speed read. Deborah’s post had me smiling when I thought about this; I haven’t heard anyone talking about speed reading for years. Maybe it was just a fad that I jumped on at the time?

Melanie left this link in our show notes – it’s long but a good read – https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rrq.411


Le check-in: stratégie indispensable pour le leader

I’m not sure that I have much to add to this post from Joel McLean except that he absolutely nails it.

Personally, I had a supervisor who was absolutely terrific with this. We would meet as a group of people from our department and then he and I would meet one-to-one and discuss exactly what Joel outlines in the post.

  • What are your priorities this week?
  • In what ways can I help you?

I value those meetings. It was the first time that I felt that someone else was sincerely interested in what I was doing and that he had the power (and budget) to make it happen. This included sending me to leadership opportunities as well.

In his retirement, I still get together every now and again for a coffee and darn if he doesn’t include these questions as part of our discussion. It was a special bond that we have and I’ll be eternally grateful for it.


SUMMER PLANS: TRANSITIONING FROM WORK TO A VACATION MINDSET

Writing on the TESL Blog, Svjetlana Vrbanic offers some insights about how to get away from work and move to vacation.

In a regular world, it might be a great deal easier. After all, you see the school in your rear view mirror and head to the comfort of home. This past year has melded those two environments. People have purchased more technology and comfy workspaces for working at home and you can’t get away from them!

In the post, Svjetlana offers some suggestions for all to transition to vacation. It’s a good list and well worth the read.

Then, she shares with us a series of pledges to herself for how she’s going to handle her own vacation. This is a very personal post and yet I think she speaks for just about every educator in the province! They’re all in roughly the same boat at this time.


Ideas for the First Week of School

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, now that we’re into August, thoughts are or will be turning to the return to school. Of course, there are some schools with a different schedule who are already back at it.

I’ve heard rumours of the mindset that Jennifer talks about about “not smiling until Christmas”. I hope that it’s just that – a rumour.

Instead, she offers a better solution.

I have come to learn that serious learning can happen even if (or better if) you develop a positive relationship with your students instead.

So, how to you do that?

In the post, Jennifer offers seven suggestions and she’s looking for you to add to the list. I’d encourage it if you have some great ideas. Together, we’re better when we share.

If you’re not in the return to work mindset yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that, bookmark her post for inspiration once you’re there. It’s inevitable.


Comic Strips: Side effects

In addition to being an educator, Paul Gauchi is also a comic strip author.

I’m a fan of comic strips, particularly those that poke their finger at current events and politics. We do need more outrageous politicians this side of the border to help generate material though!

For July, Paul takes on vaccinations…


I hope that you can take a few moments and click through to read these terrific blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Deborah McCallum – @bigideasinedu
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This Week in Ontario Edublogs – August 4

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning! Hope you have a quick Friday (at least it’s a Friday the 14th) and on to the weekend. Oh, and check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.


Love the Interview Learning!

From Sue Bruyns, some thoughts about interviews. Personally, I hated them when I was on the being interviewed side. I was always afraid that I’d say something stupid; sometimes my speaking exceeds my thinking ability. What the heck, most of the time that happens. That’s why blogging and the ability to proofread and edit suits me well.

I did have occasion to sit on the other side of the table and it really isn’t any better watching the interviewee squirm. Apparently, Sue enjoys the interview process and explains why in this post. What I found interesting was the approach of asking interviewees to bring in an artefact and share that with the interview team. I think it’s a great approach as it shifts the control away from the people doing the interview and lets the person being interviewed take control over something they’re very comfortable talking about.

So, Sue walks us through the interview. I found it interesting and brought back memories for me of times when I sat in one or the other chairs. It’s a necessary process, I suppose, but I still get the shaking nerves when I think about it. Of course, Sue has such a wonderful style about her, I’m sure that she would make you comfortable for the interview.


Friday Two Cents: Daily Routine

If there’s one way to maintain sanity and get results in education, it’s having a healthy and regular routine. Paul Gauchi writes about a personal experience when that happens to fall off the rails.

I think he speaks for most people in the province when he says

During these past months there has been nothing but turmoil from the government: are we going into virtual learning or are we staying with the in-class option?  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

It’s pretty difficult to build a regular routine when that is your reality. He notes the shortage of occasional teachers and that only adds to the situation.

I think we all look back at the past year with a critical eye and that’s done here, in the concept of a routine. What happens when that routine stops? What happens when you rebuilt the routine?

Read about it in this post.


Windows #SOL

I’ve been sitting on this post from Melanie White for a bit because it’s kind of sad, kind of insightful, kind of nostalgic, …

She starts by talking about cleaning windows which immediately made me think of this Safety Last! scene.

There’s a husband story here about cleaning windows to start the post but she ends up with a thought about classroom windows. Supposedly, they let you look outside, but you really only see a subset of what’s out there. In my teaching experience, most of my time was spent in a windowless classroom. The outside was neither a distraction nor an inspiration. When I did get a classroom with an outside window, it was one of those tall windows that you’ll find in an air conditioned building. It was slightly better.

But, I got thinking … all that comes into play when teachers and students are in the same room looking out the same window. What happens these days with remote learning? Everyone has a different window, if they have a window at all. What’s missing as a result? Can there be a meeting of the minds?


Thoughts on online teaching

Every0ne in education is reflecting on this and Lisa Corbett adds her thoughts. Particularly with the oddities of teaching online, planning and maintaining a schedule is crucial for success.

As Lisa notes, there are other things to remember to schedule – feed your own children.

It’s the teacher mentality and we’re all guilty of it. Everything about those students in our charge is important. We’re supposed to know them, be a social guidance, mentor, inspiration, and sometimes the more important things are devoted to whatever time is left over. Sure, we all know that’s wrong but we all do it.

Time is such a big deal in education and Lisa notes another upcoming time crunch – five weeks of teaching content and four weeks until report cards are due.

Gulp.


Les moments décisifs

Joel McLean gives a nice discussion about decisive moments, at the same time revisiting the notion of routines.

He works with the premise that we are a society of instant gratification – but what happens when it doesn’t come right away … The Valley of Disappointment!

I think we all go through this daily. What’s so frustrating is that horizontal axis. You plod along it never knowing what’s going to happen next. We rely on the fact that there will be an upturn —- but when?

I’m going to give a shout out to educators. We may not be able to see the future but we absolutely know that, if we stay the course, that curve will bend and we will see results. It’s just disappointing, even frustrating, until that happen.

Joel’s formula for success?
Patience + Perseverance + Effort = Decisive Moment


Anti-oppressive student placement cards

I’m a bit out of my element in this post on the Heart and Art Blog from Deb Weston. She tagged me in it and there was a ton of responses to it so I know that it resonated with many. It never really affected me – I was the only computer science teacher in the school so if you wanted that subject, you got me. Full stop.

Of course, the world isn’t all like that and Deb shares her thoughts.

She identifies past practices for placement of students in classes.

Past Student Placement Cards:

  • Gender: Blue cards for boys, Pink cards for girls
  • Academic success: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Language: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Math: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Special Education Support: formal/informal IEP (circle one)
  • English Language Learners: Steps of ELL for Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
  • Students to place in same class with:
  • Students to not place in class with:
  • Attendance issues: Yes/No Reasons for absence:
  • Student Behaviour: Big “B” and little “b”
  • Parental issues: Big “P” (big parent problem)

Then, she addresses the assumptions and issues with this approach and puts forth an alternative way of looking at things. It’s an interesting and informative read. You might want to pass it along if you’re able to influence the process.


The Annual End of Year Pressure

I guess it’s an annual event – summer is coming and there’s pressure to ensure that all that needs to be addressed in the class is, in fact, done.

Kelly McLaughlin takes a look at her world and feels that there is more pressure than normal. I think that’s perfectly understandable. How many times have educators had to shift gears this year? Then, there’s the whole “are schools going to re-open in June” thing.

One of the things that educators have had to learn on the fly is assessment in its current form… i.e. at a distance. Never mind the actual teaching, consider the whole assessment picture. All of the traditional techniques and observations have been rethought in the current reality.

Kelly shares her plans for the month of June and the things that she has planned – coding and health among others as well as some of the approaches and resources that she has been using just to get to this point.

I like the fact that she was so open with this – the more that people share good ideas, the more we realize that the wheel truly doesn’t need to be reinvented.


Please take some time to click through and read these wonderful posts and drop off a comment or two.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Kelly McLaughlin

This week’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast can be accessed here: