This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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


Searching for an idea – whose stories need to be told

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bespoke Beats

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

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

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

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


STUDENT-CREATED PODCASTS MADE EASY WITH SCREENCASTIFY

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

But, Screencastify?

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

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

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

Their summary:

Steps For Student-Created Podcasts With Screencastify

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

ONE WORD: “responsive”

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

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

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

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

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

SEVEN MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

My sympathies go out to the Lyons family.


Please click through and read all of these wonderful post.

And, follow them on Twitter

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

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

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/emergent-stories-professional-learning-and-practice/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning. It’s time to check in on some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.


ONLINE FATIGUE

Writing on the TESLOntario Blog, Jennifer Hutchison writes a post that will resonate with so many educators over the past while. Many people have written about being tired, exhausted, burned out, …

Jennifer takes it a step further. Other than the physical exhaustion, are there other things about your body that are having difficulties? And, if you’re feeling any of these issues, how does it play out for you on a personal basis?

She digs nicely into a person’s Physical Health, their Motivation and Mental Health. So, what can you do about it? She offers a number of suggestions and they centre around getting away from that screen.

Beyond the physical relief, there’s also a teaching relief to be considered. Locked into a room with little faces in windows on your computer may have generated more than normal use for software applications, in some cases applications that wouldn’t have been chosen in the best of scenarios. So, why continue to use them?

Jennifer helps diagnose and then offers solutions. It’s a good read for all.


I bundled the next posts from Rabia Khokhar and Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge in my own reading. Both of them deal nicely with the concept of Community. I got on board with making digital connections years ago and Will Richardson was my inspiration. I bought his book; I bought into his concept of building community; I agreed that you should be found on the internet, doing good things.

The reality is that back then there were just a few of us doing this and we were really looking for other techie people to connect with. As I read the posts from these ladies, I’m struck by how they’re aware of and using the same concept of community connections but their use is so much more sophisticated. Yes, the tools have got a great deal better but it’s just not for sharing new insights about technology anymore.

A Reflection: ‘Community’ is the heart of Teaching and Learning

The title of Rabia’s post sells itself. I suspect that every educator considers their classroom a community at varying levels throughout the school year and that’s a good thing. Rabia notes:

I believe community is a broad term. We are part of many communities such as in the classroom, wider school as well the broader neighbourhood/world context.

Technology facilitates connections that go well beyond the classroom walls and opens all kinds of other opportunities. She shares a story of working with adult learner refugees from Burma. What a terrific opportunity for a young educator at a Faculty of Education! The insights that she gained from that experience is so impressive. That community inside a classroom is one thing but extending outward affords so many other opportunities.

The image that she includes in the post speaks so clearly. There was a time when we would sit in rows all facing the same direction, not daring to talk to others. Now, we see a sense of community with the gathering of students around a table or groups of tabs, sharing in the learning. Well executed, you’d be hard pressed to tell where the front of the classroom is.


Equity and Inclusion in Education

Writing on the Teach Better blog, Nilmini puts her concept of community out for all to see with a focus on equity and inclusion. We now know that it just doesn’t happen; it has to be worked at.

The post starts with a TL;DR which often is an invitation to skip the rest of the article but I found that it brought me in looking for more.

  • Classroom management and creating a positive school culture are part of equity and inclusion.
  • Build meaningful relationships with students, colleagues, and the community.
  • Be a role model.
  • Don’t forget you are human and so are your students.
  • Be true to yourself. Be the good for others.

The post, I found, is a call to action with three concerns.

  • The most important thing: relationships.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Hold yourself accountable.

Of course, each of these is broken out and described nicely. I’ll bet that you will pull inspiration for self-improvement immediately.

The concept of being a role model is interesting. Do we want students to be impressed with the “sage on the stage” being the sole provider of content? Or do we want to model a constant learner for them instead?


Fidget Toys-Tools (For Me)

Confession time, here – this was all new learning for me thanks to Diana Maliszewski. If you’d asked me what a Fidget was, I’d smile and talk about Fidget spinners and we did get a couple of them to give as Christmas gifts a couple of years ago. If I recall, they were difficult to find and quite pricey as everyone had to have one. It was a great lesson of supply and demand.

Thanks to Diana, this post opened an entire world for me. Fidget spinners are passe; there’s a whole new world of fidgets out there. She talked about an “infinite bubble wrap” and comes with a picture.

Photo courtesy of Diana Maliszewski

I want one! I had to stop in my tracks when she talked about getting a box of random Fidget toys. So, I went shopping.

https://www.amazon.com/fidgets/s?k=fidgets
https://funandfunction.com/product-type/fidgets.html?product_list_limit=99

It looks like so much fun. I could really get into this as a form of self-regulation by trial and error.


Riding the Rollercoaster

Just imagine being the head of a school that got hit by a hurricane. That happened to Ann Marie Luce and that set the stage for this blog post. That calls for a song.

So, how do you start over in a school setting? Ann Marie shares with us the story of getting forms, permissions, police checks, etc.

The million dollar question though is “where”. That took her and her team on a tour of New Orleans looking for a place and she shares the journey in the post. She had me pondering what would happen in my community if the secondary school suddenly went away. Where would you house everyone?

A great read and Ann Marie drags you in and takes you for the ride.

Spoiler – it has a happy ending (I think) and you need to read the followup post.


Lessons from the Earth and Beyond – Learning from the Stars

If you’re reading this on the 3rd, you’ll have missed the launch on the 2nd of this resource.

Together Sandra Indian (Ojibways of Onigaming) and Jodie Williams (Co-Chair of FNMIEAO) will provide teachers with an over of the new resource Lessons From Beyond.

Hopefully, the launch will be recorded for later playback.

In the meantime, the complete resource can be accessed online.

LESSONS FROM THE EARTH & BEYOND

The resource is identified for students in Grades 6-8.


An interview with Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge

Finally, I’m going to conclude by calling my own number. (football reference)

If you missed it on Monday, I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge. I always enjoy the chance when people say “yes” to an interview and doing some research to find out what makes them tick and then share it with anyone who cares to drop by.


Please take the time to click through and enjoy all these posts.

Then, for more, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Jennifer Hutchison – @TESLOntario
  • Rabia Khokar – @Rabia_Khokhar1
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Hensdridge – @NRatwatte
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Janice Williams – @staoapso

The voicEd Radio show where Stephen Hurley and I discussed these posts is available to listen here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/fatigue-fidgeting-and-finding-a-new-school/

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