This Week in Ontario Edublogs

If you need to read one article for blogging inspiration, let it be this one.

Bring back personal blogging

I couldn’t agree more. The internet is full of dead blogs from people who felt they had something to say at the time. You know what? They still do. Please revive that blog; the world needs positive, original thoughts at this time.

There’s a lot of great music in this post – we tried something different with the radio show.

Giant Snowman in peril!

Who could turn an image of a giant snowman into a blog post?

Doug, of course. (not this one)

It was a fun read and I was impressed with his rewrite of a winter classic.

I ain’t Frosty the Snowman

I’m a miserable pile of snow

I have balls for eyes

And I am stuck with pucks

And this place I live just sucks!

It’s a far cry from this classic version by Jimmy Durante.

If you listened to the show, you heard Stephen sing Doug’s version.

One Word 2023

The concept of a “One Word” for the new year is a nice tradition that Sue maintains in this blog post.

There were a couple of messages in the post for me. One was her selection of the word “Time” and her explanation of how she plans to use it with:

  • staff
  • students
  • colleagues
  • school community

Admirable goals.

As I mentioned in my discussion with Stephen on our show on Wednesday, she’s addressed everything but herself.

Read the post carefully and you’ll see that she’s going to take care of herself in about six months.

#OneWord2023 = Lift

There was a wonderful surprise in this post from Diana that I didn’t know.

Of course, she shares her one word and it’s “Lift”. Fair enough.

After a review of previous one words she’s used, it starts to get real.

Lift has many meanings and that was a nice spin for the post. I had no idea that Diana was lifting weights and she shares her journey there – along with a picture – not photoshopped.

There’s another personal, professional spin to “Lift” that she brings out in this well-crafted post! Love it.

time off time

You know, checking your email could be a 24-hour-a-day job if you let it. Will reminds us of this as he shares parts of a pair of email messages (the irony is not lost on me) reminding him to unplug and step back from checking the latest directive or missive from someone else in the profession.

It’s great advice and, if you’re going to take it today, you’ve missed a couple of weeks that could have been different.

Never fear – there’s always that Spring Break upcoming and his advice along with suggestions for what to do with that extra time will still be valid.

The Christmas tree layout may be dated though.

Book Joy #SOL2022

My high school was so old school.

We studied the same novel at the same time. We had to. We had class sets.

When we wanted to read a book, we could go to the library for part of a period and find something. I remember being hurried because the period was ending and we need to get going – pick a book.

I’ve never actually had any teacher select a book for me that she/he thought might be of interest to me.

Melanie does this and more. There’s a wonderful twist to this and it’s at her personal expense! She reaches out to one student and a few others fall in love with the gesture.

Whatever Happened To Carol Sings?

Regular readers of this blog post or Sunday blog post readers know that “Whatever happened to …” is a weekly blog post from yours truly. It’s fun and quick to write.

In this post, Aviva takes a crack at the concept and does a wonderful job. Maybe I should hire her to write my Sunday posts and give me a day off. <grin>

In elementary schools, carol singing was a regular occurrence at Clinton Public School. Not so much in my secondary school or at university. It really is a community-building opportunity lost.

But, Aviva’s prompt brought back a wonderful memory for me and that’s the reason for the “Whatever happened to …” post.

Here’s my reply to her post.

Thank you for the kind shoutout, Aviva.
You brought back a wonderful elementary school experience. Those that were allowed were invited to an assembly every morning leading up to the Christmas break. We’d all sit on the floor and our music teacher had her piano rolled in. We all had Simpsons-Sears Christmas song sheets and she’d pick a number and we sang them as a school. I think the school was 4-500 students at the time.
When I had my own classroom, there were a few young ladies in my homeroom (whatever happened to homerooms) who were fabulous singers and they’d organize a sing along just for my homeroom! It was awesome.
It took a different turn – I happened to mention it to the vice-principal and he invited them to come to the office and sing a couple each morning over the PA for the whole school! Before that, I think we had just a public assembly that was just to celebrate the end of the term.
Thanks for bringing back that memory.
Merry Christmas!

Make Mistakes on Purpose

As a teacher, we’ve all done it. We slip up when we are teaching something and some kid points it out to us. The response

I just did that to see if you were paying attention.

Confess – you’ve done it. I’ve done it.

But, what about the “real world” where Colleen is right now with producing Christmas presents (at least for me) with her original work.

In the post, there’s a wonderful picture of her on the couch with her puppy warming before a fire. For mere mortals like me, that would be a winner. With someone of Colleen’s talents though, it was a chance to sketch it. Wow!

Mistakes? Hardly! And, I was paying attention to the original and the sketch with my eyes darting back and forth. I can honestly say that I’ve never done that in a blog post before. Thanks, Colleen.

Please click through and read all of these wonderful posts. Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Colleen Rose – @ColleenKR 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio

Opening Song

Closing Song

Peace Playlist

Since the incident in Ukraine, we’ve been opening and closing the radio show with songs of peace. They’re all here in this playlist.


Brain jokes

And now for something a little bit different…

When you land and look around, it might look a little old school like web pages that we wrote when we first started creating web pages!

Let’s face it. We all need and use a little joke/smile/groan every now and again.

Here’s a big collection of material. They go well with family, students, presentations, etc.

Of course, everyone knows the answer to this one.

What programming language do snakes use for their neuroscientific experiments?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This has just been an amazing week for the weather. Yes, it’s sweatshirt and toque in the morning but later on, it’s been t-shirt time. You can’t beat that.

Today is Remembrance Day. Please recognize.

Full-Serve Gas Stations And UDL: How Might The Two Connect?

I’ll be honest; I didn’t see the connection. I had a back and forth with Aviva about this and she updated her thinking in the post. During the voicEd Radio show, Stephen moved me a little closer to understanding the connection but I still don’t entirely see it.

But that’s not the big point of this post to me.

Regular readers know that Sunday mornings, this blog features a post called “Whatever happened to …“. For me, it’s a fun post that doesn’t require a whole lot of research and just my thoughts about a topic. I’ve written 337 posts with that title.

Aviva wrote her own “Whatever happened to …” post and it dealt with the shortage of Full-Serve Gas Stations in her world and did a great job. I think it’s much deeper than my fluffy ones are. I thought about around here and we have two self-serves in the town proper and one north of town and another south although it might technically be in Essex.

I can remember when self-serve was a real novelty and you got to save 3 or 4 cents per litre and, these days, that’s a good and welcome thing. Who wouldn’t want to with every fillup?

It turns out that one of those is Aviva – and with her new job, she’s doing more driving than ever. In the post, she reveals something about herself and the reason why she wants to and needs to use full-serve. It’s an interesting read and makes me wonder how many others are in the same boat as Aviva?

October Multiple Choice for English Teachers

For me, this amplified another skill that Amanda has – the ability to write humour and satire. I did laugh out loud at a couple of the questions (particularly option 4 for the questions…)

Here’s one….

  • How often do you eat lunch?
    • Daily. With my students. I supervise a club every day. Interactions with students are paramount.
    • Every day. With my colleagues.
    • I mean, I eat…
    • I keep forgetting to pack a lunch. Yesterday I gave a student some money when he took a “bathroom break” and he brought me a McDonald’s hamburger and some fries.

This was such a wonderful break from all the serious stuff that is happening these days.

Do yourself a favour and take her quiz. You might end up laughing real tears like I did!

New Approaches to Old Favourites

Have you ever wanted to see Diana in a French Maid outfit? Then, this is the post for you.

It started innocently and professionally…

In Grade 2 Social Studies, one of the expectations is “compare ways in which some traditions have been celebrated over multiple generations in their family and identify some of the main reasons for changes in these traditions”. Lately, this expectation has gotten easier to teach, as COVID has forced many changes.

Then, we turn to pumpkin carving. But, finally dressing for Hallowe’en.

Now, many teachers will dress for Hallowe’en – we were encouraged not to at my school because it was supposed to be just another academic day. Many teachers did anyway and I eventually did dig out my cowboy boots and farm gear. How sad is it that I still had it?

But, you wear the costume and you do it for the kids.

Operative word here is “the costume”.

Diana had a number of costume changes during her day. Who does that? Well, Diana, of course. She’s one in a million and one of the absolutely most wonderful connections that I’ve made on social media that has turned into a connection in real life.

Emperor penguins choose to be endangered

Doug was on fire at the keyboard this week. I counted three blog posts from him that made me smile. As Stephen noted on the show, it takes a very special talent to write satire. Maybe we should lock Doug and Amanda up in a room with a computer and not allow them out until they produce something.

According to Doug’s reporting, there was a failed attempt to write an all-penguin version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and the penguins did not take it well and agreed to be added to the world’s endangered list.

Who thinks of stuff like that? Certainly not me; just glad that Doug’s around to keep it fresh.

Also, check out these other posts from his creative mind and keyboard.

Extinction not all that bad who knew

Bug out

Late breaking related news: Tim Hortons brand soup base recalled for containing insects (Thanks, Doug, for this late breaking news…)

The Power of Parenting: Stepping back to connect with your strong-willed child

This week’s podcast featured an interview with Allison Livingston on Lynn’s podcast.

As a former principal, Lynn would be perfectly placed to have this particular conversation. As a parent of three, I wondered what parent wouldn’t think that they had dealt with strong-willed children.

I found it an interesting conversation that would be of interest to educators and parents everywhere. I felt a little sorry that it ended; I’m sure the two of them could have carried that conversation on much longer than the 30 minutes they did.

It’s packed with all kinds of tips and observations and Lynn is good enough to include a transcript of the conversation so that you can enjoy it at a different level. I enjoy conversations but also like to replay the message at time and I find a transcript is more helpful than trying to move the scrubber bar.

Can Art Make a Difference?

I think that most people would respond to this question with a resounding yes.

Colleen is generously devoting the product of her amazing painting skills as a fundraiser for Health Care in Nipigon and Thunder Bay.

This generous offering is in remembrance of a friend that Colleen lost this year. Complete details are in the post.

smashing pumpkin spiced thinking – school edition

Well, Will, I happen to like pumpkin pie. I don’t know if that follows from the title of the post. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of most other things that happen to be pumpkin spiced just because they can.

Will uses the pumpkin analogy to take us into a discussion of following the crowd. Like Will, in my first year, I wanted to follow what I thought was the tried and true way of teaching things.

The problem, for me anyway, was the excitement of being the teacher did not equate to the excitement that I had learning as a student. Of course, in the computer programming classroom, the state of technology and its power had changed. As a student, I learned one way. As a classroom teacher, I had to teach to students who learned roughly 6 x 25 different way.

I really enjoyed reading about how Will reminisced about how his teaching practice changed when he realized that he had to move on and grow in the profession. I like to think I did; I like to think that all teachers do, albeit at different rates and in different ways.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration to spur you along professionally, then you need to click through and read this wonderful post.

It’s another Friday where we can celebrate some wonderful writing from Ontario Educators. Do yourself a professional favour and click through to enjoy.

Then, as Will would say, add value to your PLN and follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1
  • Lynn McLaughlin – @lynnmcla
  • Colleen Rose – @ColleenKR
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I had a free Wednesday morning this week as Stephen was off and away. However, we’re back next week and Amanda Potts will be joining us.

The Level of our Systems

I know that Donna is technically not in Ontario any longer but when she writes, I read. I worked for a superintendent who was big in setting and trying to achieve goals. I had always worked on setting and working towards goals but it’s not always easy in the staffroom where conversations wander in different directions. What was special with him was that he would meet with me periodically to see how I was progressing and he shared his goals with me and asked how I thought he was progressing. After a while, I did become more honest!

In the post, Donna lists four goals from James Clear’s book.

  • Make it obvious
  • Make it attractive
  • Make it easy
  • Make it satisfying

There are a couple of things that I’ve always tried to do as well…

  • Make it visible – your next learning friend might just find you
  • Make it measurable – if you can’t measure it, how do you know if you’ve reached it?

Happy New Year: Back to School Part One

Shelly has been promising to write a blog post for a while now and she delivered! Yes, the summer has gone by so quickly but we know that it always does. I can tell you that, when you have a birthday mid-August, it’s even worse. You wait all July for it and then it happens – usually on a family reunion day – and the gifts are often back-to-school clothes! But enough about me.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

This post is clearly written from an elementary school perspective. I had to smile when I think of the difference as Shelly lays out three things for us to consider. If you want to read her thoughts, they’re well described and laid out in her post. Read it. Here’s how her points would translate to my classroom.

  • Desks/Chairs – I had the smallest classroom in the school. It sat 24 comfortably which is perfect for Computer Science. The year I had 36 in a Mathematics class was nuts. I had tables which sat two people, three rows deep and two tables on each side of a centre aisle. The first period of the first day of class was the only time the chairs were normal, facing the front. After that, the chair would be moved into different collaborative working spaces. (and often social gathering spaces…)
  • Bulletin Boards – I never did a bulletin board in my entire career. Computer Science is a communications program of study and so students would sign up to make a bulletin board over the course of our time together. The Marketing room with all its resources was just across the hall and so convenient. There were some amazing things put on display about some sort of computer topic. (they typically had to research it; shhh, don’t let them know it’s educational)
  • Student Materials – I never had the opportunity to teach students with their own laptops taking notes but I think I’d do it in a heartbeat and spend some time talking about folders and organization for saving things. In my time, students brought their own binders, etc. and a quick look around the classroom let you know who had money for fancy binders and who didn’t or just didn’t care.

Real-Life Math: 2 Simple Strategies for Joyful Math Talk

Alice has a teaser on her blog about this post but you’ll have to click here to enjoy it.

I love this from the concluding of the post.

The important thing to remember when doing math talks is that they should be natural and not too forced. What I mean by this is that memorizing a script of questions will not necessarily produce the results we want as educators. With practice (by you and your students), the conversation will begin to flow, and the questioning will become more organic. What matters is that we are trying to present these everyday scenarios to our students so that they know that math is all around them and part of their lives beyond the classroom.

I’m not completely unbiased with this since I went to university to study mathematics but I’ve had my share of mathematics teachers over the years. When I think of the ones that really inspired me, problems were always framed in the narrative of a story. The very best ones had a puzzle element to them as well. There’s a different feeling you get when you’re involved in a story or a puzzle. You end up enjoying things and there was no quote to get X number of questions done before moving on.

This article is rich in a philosophy that I can really appreciate. She gives concrete examples from photographs and nature and that just seems to be so natural. The talks can turn towards the abstract in the hands of a great mathematics communicator.


I’m a sucker for Amanda’s one-word titles and they always draw me in, unlike some titles that can be a paragraph long and I can just say pass. I know that the advice is to go the other way but what she does works for me.

So, uprooting what?

If you’ve been following Amanda, you’ll know that she’s been on holiday and that’s awesome. One of the big concerns about holidays is keeping your homestead under control while away. Apparently, dandelions were kind of a big deal here!

Amanda, you brought back a memory of a trip from my youth. We had a dog named Peter. Yeah, I know Peter Peterson. Anyway, we drove to see the Calgary Stampede, Banff, Jasper, and then the Pacific Ocean. We had intended to camp every night in this heavy canvas tent. Our luck was terrible; it would rain and so the next night we’d be in a hotel rather than camping. It wasn’t a great trip but we were away for two weeks. I’m not sure where Peter was boarded but, when we came home, our house was alive — with fleas. Without a dog and flea powder to keep them under control, they went nuts.

Having a house sitter or someone devoted to maintaining things makes so much sense for extended holidays.

Project Learning Tree – Seeking Teachers Grades 7-12

This is more of an opportunity (and you have a week to apply) for educators looking to do some curriculum writing to benefit the profession with a focus on forests. Topics to include.

  • Global perspective on climate change and the role of forests in mitigating climate change.
  • Carbon footprint and carbon offsetting, with a focus on how these relate to forests
  • Sustainable forestry practices and how they can help fight climate change and enhance forest resilience.
  • Indigenous perspectives on climate change and forests.
  • Implications of climate change to local forests and communities
  • Benefits of urban forests for tackling climate change and impact of climate change on urban forests
  • Environmental careers related to forests that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Action being taken to protect trees, and forests in the light of global climate change projections and actions youth can take.

Getting Buy In For Ungrading

“Ungrading” is one of those buzzwords that you hear periodically. I’ve been in the audience of plenty of educational speakers who talk about upsetting the educational system by ungrading students.

The problem with doing this, it seems to me, is that you need a plan. You can’t go to a PD session on a Friday and come back to work on Monday and implement ungrading.

What I like about this podcast and show now is that Rachel and Katie provide a plan. It includes a how-to and importantly, who should know that you’re actually doing it. They have a fan on Twitter with their advice.

I really enjoyed reading their thinking on this but there’s still a question that nags at me and that is “at what point”? Could a teacher new to the profession pull it off? My initial reaction is no but that prompts a follow-up question – ok, then at what point in the teacher career is it appropriate? Are there other resources that could guide the process?

The timing of their post is useful; it seems to me that going into an ungraded class in September makes a great deal of sense.

Naming system for heat waves being considered

Before I start, a little warning that if you get offended by bad words, this might not be the post for you to read.

However, if you like a little satire to reflect back on the warm summer that we had in 2022, you might enjoy reading and his suggestions for naming heatwaves.

dougzone22’s Alphabetical/Chronological Heat-Wave Naming Algorithm

Thanks, Doug McDowall

How hot has it been this summer? Usually, my birthday starts the discussion about when we should start thinking about closing the pool. Not this year. Heck, we didn’t even put the cover on last night. 29 degrees is just too warm.

I hope that you can find some time to enjoy these posts. Click through and enjoy.

Then, you can follow all these writers on Twitter.

  • Donna Fry – @fryed
  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Alice Aspinall – @EveryoneCanMath
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Michael Frankfort – @mfrank_76
  • The Edugals – @EduGals
  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1

This is a regular Friday feature around here. You can check out the past episodes here.

My sense of humour

To put this in a sense of context… I’m typically up at 4:30 and make myself a coffee, a bowl of cereal, and then I quietly go down to the rec room. Quietly, because I have a wife and dog that would join me that early if I’m not.

I’ve always, always, been a morning person. In particular, I have one hour of the day that I devote to myself and for personal learning. It’s what I did in all of the locations that I’ve ever worked. Nobody has ever accused me of being late. I like to think that it stops me from going stale.

These days, my learning comes from current events, and stories gathered for me with my Flipboard account. I warn people that I’m very noisy on my accounts from roughly 5-6 in the morning as I do share what I’ve read or interacted with and find personal value. My logic is that, if it’s good for me, it just might be interesting for someone else. Social networking sometimes generates a conversation which is always a bonus.

Yesterday started like any other morning. I grab my cereal and coffee and turn on WDIV from Detroit to watch the news from 5-5:30 and then CITYTV from Toronto for 5:30-6. I’m in my chair, coffee to the left of me and cereal between me and my Chromebook. There I am, reading, eating, listening, drinking, and learning.

Then, I hit this story.

This Restaurant’s Signs Are So Funny, You’d Probably Go Back Just To Read Them (50 New Pics)

I’m sure that you’ve seen this restaurant’s presence – it has some of the funniest jokes posted on its outside display board. But, here was a collection of 50 in one spot and I started to scroll. Picture me there and with a spoonful of cereal being washed down by a gulp of coffee and then I hit this one.

I won’t describe what happened next but it was messy and loud and woke the dog.

I decided that I needed to blog about the experience just to make sure that this image never goes away. I decided to include 4 more in this post just so that it could be a “Top 5”.

So here goes…

If you’re laughing or smiling at least, we need to get together and trade jokes.

Those are what tickled my funny bone. Well, most of them did but I wanted to do a “Top 5”.

Whoever does these signs is a genius in humour.