This Week in Ontario Edublogs

After yesterday afternoon with a high of 13 degrees and walking around comfortably with just a jacket, it was back to winter coat and big mittens today. Spring in Ontario. As I look out the window, I see little flakes of snow. This is nuts.

What’s not nuts are the posts this week from Ontario Edubloggers.

Celebrating Kindergarten

And it seems just like yesterday when I first went to kindergarten. It was such a traumatic experience. But, it launched my educational career. You gotta start somewhere.

On the Heart and Art Blog, Melissa Turnbull writes to remind us that this is the tenth year anniversary of full-day kindergarten. Except for having kids of my own, I figured that Grade 1 would be the end of thinking about kindergarten! Then, later in my teaching career as a computer consultant, it was my privilege to visit students and teachers in their kindergarten environment. Everything is so small. Looking up from those in the roof, we must have looked so big.

Full days changed everything for the youngest in our schools and you’ll find Melissa’s observations and links interesting to check out.

We now think of it as just the way that education is done but it was a huge shift at the time.

Getting Older

We all do it annually.

Diana Maliszewski reached another birthday milestone recently. You’ll have to click through and read her blog post to figure out which one. She doesn’t hid anything.

I love the fact that she doesn’t mind having a birthday. May that never get old. She does have one thing about birthdays that I never had. A birthday during the school year. It’s a special time where you might have something going on at school – I can remember kids’ parents bringing in cake for the class and all of us singing.

There really are no bad days for birthdays. Well, maybe mid-August when all your friends are at cottages or doing something to capture the end of the summer. And then it falls on the family reunion where your celebration is ignored because everyone is greeting everyone else and waiting for the corn on the cob to arrive. But, other than that, there are no bad days.

But I’m not bitter. I’m envious that Diana is so positive about every thing that’s happening to her as she hits another milestone and is still the enthusiastic wonderful person that she always seems to be. May that never change.

Happy Birthday, Diana.

Bottle critique

Don’t judge a blog post by the images in it. If that was the case, you might skip past this post from Alanna King. Well, unless you like a good wine.

I do like a good wine so I was drawn in by this post that was not the typical post from Alanna. As it turns out, it wasn’t too much about wine at all. It was more about design layout for some advertising pieces.

The Business educator in my was intrigued by her analysis of some different layouts and how she interpreted them. It was interesting to see the design and the strategic placement of chocolates in a couple of them. We did this exercise in Marketing classes all the time!

I had to smile just a bit to see the wine bottles lying on their sides. In our financial reach, there don’t seem to be any bottles that come with real corks anymore so there is no need to lie them on their sides.

Actually, our “vin de jour” now comes conveniently in a box. For a couple of years at university, we got into making our own wine and I learned so much about the process. Now that I’m older, it’s far more convenient to just drive into town and buy it ready to go.

And with all the great wineries in Essex County, you can go right to the source.

Girls Who Game (GWG) 2020-2021

I have great admiration for educators who go above and beyond and it’s even more amplified with all of the challenges that we have in education and society right now.

But, that doesn’t stop Zelia Tavares and Katina Papulkas from offering gaming opportunities to the young ladies involved in the Girls Who Game club. Thanks to Zelia who names names in this post, I have a couple more Ontario educators to add to my list – Kamla Rambaran and Sebastian Basualto.

The post is an update to this effort – gaming in Minecraft which seems to be very popular and I’ve yet to hear of someone who has regretted getting involved. With Zelia and her tinkering abilities, it must be a hoot for the girls.

They’re talking about designing “an eatery of the future in Minecraft”. I couldn’t help but think that I had a glimpse, growing up with the Jetsons.

But what an environment to turn the imagination loose to see what might shake out! You might not be able to create it in real life but you often can in Minecraft.

Slice of Life: She likes me so much!

I started to write “It’s the little things that matter.” But this isn’t a little thing. It’s a huge thing! It might even be the most important thing

Lisa Corbett drops just a lovely post to read in these times.

Maybe it’s because she was out in the cold doing her morning assigned duty and was looking for things. Maybe it’s something that she suspected all along and it was just reinforced. Maybe it’s just that we’re all looking for good things these days.

Whatever the reason, this post is a reminder to all that there are special relationships in education and it could be easy to overlook. Lisa didn’t; she captured the moment in her mind and blog and you’ll feel good reading about it. You may wish to keep your eyes open in the future to see it happening around you.

Exploring The World of Google Arts And Culture – E040

The Edugals, Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell, dropped another podcast – this time about Google’s Arts and Culture product.

I’ll admit that it’s a wonderful pastime for times when I might be a little bored or I’m just looking for something inspirational and different.

For all the time that I’ve poked around in this environment, I know that there’s so much left to be explored. It’s never time wasted.

I’m mentioned various parts hers in posts from the past. I use it as a personal reminder if I ever want to follow the cookie crumbs back and re-enjoy things. The applications are so rich for the classroom and I appreciate the fact that the ‘gals took the time to share their thoughts.

If you’ve never explored this resource, this post and podcast may be just the inspiration that you need to get started.

LearningInTheLoo: Photocopier Fitness

This isn’t too depressing at all.

After reading Laura Wheeler’s post, I thought about all the time I spent staring out the window or eavesdropping on conversations going on while I was waiting for something to happen while at work.

With Laura’s list, I’m reminded of how there can be dead time in the course of the teaching day. Her list…

waiting for:

  • your copies to print
  • the staff bathroom to be free
  • your lunch to heat up in the microwave
  • the bus to arrive 
  • the bell to ring
  • students to arrive

I wasted all that waiting time doing other things. Rats!

In the graphic, Laura offers some suggestions about what you could be doing instead and doing something good for yourself.

I hope that you can find some time to click through and read all these terrific blog posts. There’s some inspiration, fun, and insights to get you thinking.

Then, follow most of them on Twitter.

  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Zelia Tavares – @ZeliaMCT
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura

About languages

Going back, I remember that in Grade 10, we were required to take French. It seemed strange at the time since we didn’t know anyone who spoke French that we might converse with. We were told that we might work for the government some day and this would come in handy. And, it was required so just do it.

I took the class like all my friends and I actually did fairly well. I seem to recall a final mark in the 80s so that was good. It wasn’t until later that I found out that I didn’t really learn the language; I learned the words. I guess it probably made sense; my mathematical mind would translate an English word into French or a French word into English. Put enough French words together and I could make a sentence, apparently four times out of five.

Of course, I never used my new found skill in school beyond the class or at university. When I ended up getting a job in Essex County, I learned that LaSalle was the biggest speaking community west of Quebec. The locals were proud of that although I still have this nagging feeling that there are communities in Manitoba that would argue. I did have a few students who were bilingual in my home room and I could listen to and make a bit of sense of their conversations. And, to their amusement, try to respond to them.

It wasn’t until I became the webmaster at OSAPAC that it really hit home. My goal was to make the website bilingual since there are all kinds of French speaking educators in the province using Ministry licensed software. I looked forward to finally applying my high school skills towards something productive. And, there was this Google Translate thing to help me with the things I got stumped on.

Well, it didn’t take long until the French language speakers on the committee let me know that, they appreciated my effort, but my work wasn’t cutting it. Even when I tried to speak like I thought I could, they felt sorry for me and replied in English! But they were awesome and so helpful and we did reach a point where we had the website fluent in both languages.

So, why all this history?

Well, this morning, I ran into an interesting article.

Make Cree available on Google Translate, online petition demands

That stopped me for a second and so I checked…

There are indeed a lot of languages there in Google Translate. But the word “Cree” and presumably a translator wasn’t there.

So, it goes back to the original question posed in the interview.

One of the things that I value about being connected is making connections to people smarter and more worldly than me. A while back, a former colleague Tina, invited me to join an Indigenous Education group on Facebook. They’ve been awesome with their sharing and their insights. To pay my dues, I will share stories about Indigenous Education and I shared the story above. As per my normal practice, I also shared to Twitter where I notice a number of favourites and retweeting. Obviously people are interested.

But then, there was this interesting comment.

That took me back to high school where one of the complaints about learning French was that we were learning French French and not Canadian French and that there was a difference.

I can tell you that, even in this French area, the language has been butchered.

Around here, some of the street names …

  • Ouellette – pronounced as Oh-Let
  • Pierre – pronounced as peery
  • Grand Marais – pronounced as Grand Mair-ess

In Canada, we’re seeing actions taken to reverse the effect of Residential Schools and the loss of a first language. If you are sensitive to the regions within the province, you know that Cree isn’t the only language needed. For example, we have the Caldwell Nation on the shores of Lake Erie.

Thanks to the wonderful feedback from all, it’s clear that more than one language and one dialect would be needed to address all the needs. Certainly, you have to start somewhere but this isn’t going to be a one and done deal.

In the meantime, I wonder how effective this is.

Mapping it

My learning today started early in the morning. When I was done, it was filed under the category of “Why am I just learning about this now?”

In my defense, the answer is “because you’ve never had a need to do it until now.” But now that I know about it, I’ll never forget and I’ll blog about it to reinforce my learning.

It started when I read this story

This Mississauga neighbourhood has one of the highest COVID-19 percent positivity rates in Ontario

It comes from the Mississauga | online news service.

I feel badly for those people who live, work, and learn in that neighbourhood. After all, your little town or neighbourhood should be safe to live in.

Embedded in the article is a chart of a lot of areas within the province ranked from highest to lowest in terms of highest percentage positivity of COVID. I was using a small screen so had to pinch out to see the content. Other than the name of the community, the first three letters of the postal code really meant little to me.

Then, I ran into three areas in Windsor and Essex County that would be part of our Health Unit. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit | Local, relevant, and timely public health information. (

But just where are these neighbourhoods? I made a mental note that I should check the Canada Post website because they’ll have that mapped out by postal code. Then, another visual from the article clicked in. Sure, they might have use Canada Post if they had to … instead they used Google Maps and a screen capture.

Could it be that easy?

And, it was.

The three areas around here have the first three characters in their Postal Code.

  • N8T
  • N8R
  • N8H

None of these clicked. When I worked in Windsor, my Postal Code started with N9A.

Where are they? It really was as simple as entering the three characters into a Google Maps search.


If I zoom in, it completes the picture for me as the schools in the area pop up.
William G. Davis, W.J. Langlois, and Coronation.


Here, there’s Eastwood, H.J. Lassaline, Parkview, L.A. Desmarais, and Forest Glade.


And, in the Leamington area, there’s Cardinal Carter, Leamington DSS, Saint-Michel, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret D. Bennie, Mill Street, and St. Louis. Interestingly, Gore Hill which does have an N8H address wasn’t inside the boundaries on the map. Ditto for the South Shore Christian School.

I looked for a second opinion on Bing Maps and indeed the first three letters of the Postal Code were mapped nicely. Apple Maps recognized the Postal Code but just dropped a pin and didn’t map out the area.

So, why am I just learning this now? Like I said above, I never had the need before. A couple more brain cells and blog space just expanded a bit to make room for this new learning!

Did you know this? Am I just late to the party?

Time marches on

Who hasn’t used Google Earth and been amazed with what is captured on our surface from satellites in space? It’s a really interesting process and guaranteed to be a time suck, to be sure.

Timelapse is based on the Google Earth engine and shows interesting animations over a period of time.

Some notable ones appear in the sidebar.

And, at a first look, it might appear that this all there is to it.

But, once you realize that all of the imagery covering the globe is available, it gets really interesting. The images were made at varying times over the years so you can look at a farm, for example, and watch the different crops pop in and out.

I was watching Niagara Falls, which is always a highlight of a world imagery application for me when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I should have thought of this immediately. I could witness the Scotiabank Convention Centre where the Bring IT, Together Conference was held being built from an open field to what it is today.

Closer to home, I saw an older commercial building being torn down!

In Hamilton, I could see the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway snake its way down the hill to completion.

Above that, if you know where to look, you can see farmer fields turn into subdivisions.

There’s just a wealth of uses and applications here. You’ve got to give it a try. Deforestration appears a few times from places around the world.

Obviously, the quality of the results depends on the quality of the images that are fed into Google Earth. Certainly, there are some areas that are captured in a higher degree of resolution and make for an even more spectacular video.

Go ahead and give it a shot. If you put an addition on to your house, Timelapse has a documentary of it happening for you.

My Opera

Not the browser this time.

My timeline was just filled with people talking much about Google’s Blob Opera that I just had to try it out.

And, wow, there went the entire afternoon!

In the end, I wasn’t able to create anything shareworthy but I had so much fun playing around. Basically, you have four nicely coloured blobs that you drag around to play bass, tenor, and mezzo-soprano, and soprano. So, there’s your mouse or trackpad control running things and a whole lot of AI going on to make it do the magic.

For a deeper look, check this out.

After I played around realizing that I’m not going to write the next great opera, I looked in the bottom right corner and there are some Christmas songs ready to go.

The blob opera version of Joy to the World can be found here.

A heads up to regular readers. I’ve been pretty regular writing posts for this blog and doing the Wednesday morning This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show. Starting on Monday, I’ve decide take a little break from this for a bit. Like everyone, I’m feeling the need to recharge a little bit.