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.
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”.
Michael Frankfort joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host for the voicEd Radio show on Wednesday morning. It lent to a great conversation about the five blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that we featured. Read on to see them and a couple more bonus posts.
Don’t we all have family reunion stories tucked away in our memories? I remember the first time I took my wife to ours and her comment on the way home. “It’s hard to imagine that you’re all related.”
On my mother’s side, it was a big summer event, more often than not landing on my birthday but nobody brought presents. We did bring millions of butter tarts though and had to be there pre-6:00 so that Dad could go to the golfing tournament and the rest of us slept in the car until people started to arrive at 9 or so. Dad’s family reunion was a big gathering just before Christmas which changes the entire mindset. Instead of being outside and enjoying the weather, we’d rent a hall and go inside to avoid the weather.
Despite all that, we were within a couple of hours driving to get to the events. I can’t imagine doing what Amanda did (read the post) just to get there. Then, there’s the whole mixture of her family and I’ll bet that everyone has stories about their own personal mixtures. Her family has mine beat.
I loved the post and it made me think of faces and names from reunions so long ago and how so many of them are no longer around. Despite it being such a lovely story, it was a great reminder to remember the current moments because they are so special.
But, 18 people in one house for a week? You’re a strong woman, Amanda.
In the beginning, disinformation was easy to spot and actually kind of fun to explore. One of the more famous ones that I remember was the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.
Over the years though, the concept of the fake website has skyrocketed and taken off in a very sad direction.
We’re now in a time and era where everyone with an internet connection and the desire can put up a website for whatever the cause. We have so many of them, some consistent with our beliefs and others not so much. Some, after doing a bit of digging, can be debunked.
The ones that I personally have trouble with are those who have a dissenting opinion and do their best to create a plausible story from their perspective. Finding the truth used to be so simple; just go to the library and grab the encyclopedia. Not so anymore.
Then, throw into the mix the concept of a second or third language learner doing their best to research. If we as English First Language people have problems at time, imagine their situation.
Jennifer shares some great thoughts on the topic and the bottom is a wonderful collection of resources that can be used to help determine if something is truthful or not.
Reflections on “Sometimes it is enough to look back to see the Future clearly” presentation by Dr. Georg Marschnig
I’m really enjoying Paul’s doctoral work and how he’s openly sharing his work and his research. This is a very personal post about his own thinking. He organizes things and discusses each.
How do schools frame notions of citizenship;
What kind of relationships in schools and in educational decision-making processes foster real learning;
How do power structures affect learning? – Paul’s question
How were race, class, gender differences framed in the event?
What connections can you draw with readings, lectures, and discussions we have held in the class?
What creative ideas or astute analysis about education did you encounter in the event?
I enjoyed reading all the sections but the section about power structures affecting learning was a real thought generator for me. Like you, I grew up in a school environment where the teacher was always right. My parents came to their defense all the time when I’d challenge facts or other things. Later on, I came to realize that it was the game of school and you had to play by the rules. It sure made the day easier to handle.
Of course, like all things, we’ve got better at it all and we’ll continue to get better. On a personal level, I’ve made a note to learn more about “Youth Participatory Action Research.”
I’ve mentioned it many times; they don’t pay teachers of our youngest students enough. This blog post will have you laughing, smiling, and being thankful that you don’t teach the youngest. Or, if you do, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement throughout this post.
It was a 20-minute bus ride to the field trip location. For some of the students, it might have been a three-day road trip as they got out and looked around and remarked that they were in a different world!
Now, before I get too righteous, I enjoy community dog walks and there are always new things to see and explore even though I’ve lived here for 45 years.
I will be adamant though; we still have the same water tower.
Our guest on Wednesday had written and shared this blog post to the STAO blog.
It was about a Webinar that Michael had co-delivered with Teresa Huang about organizing an eco-fair at your school. The post comes with appropriate resources to replicate the same activity at your school.
The concept is unlike the traditional science fair with its judging and ribbons that I remember. This was about doing good by doing good. (one of my dad’s favourite expressions that I’ve always tried to keep in mind) Today’s students can be more socially aware and responsible and this post honours that.
Look for links to replay the webinar and a slide deck packed full of ideas, resources, and connections to the Ontario Science & Technology and other subject areas Curriculum.
Our month in Bordeaux, France (June 2022 –FINAL month!)
Is there any location in a school that changes so frequently in response to resources, understanding how students read, or just a conducive place for learning, reading, making, or just a place for lesson planning as the library?
Elizabeth has started a series of blog posts about what goes into her thinking about design and I like how she’s generous enough to share it with us in this post and has shared it with colleagues and administrators from other schools over the years.
Today’s library is so far removed from the libraries that we enjoyed going to in schools. Certainly, we enjoyed going there and it was a favourite place for a number of reasons. Mostly, I recall, it was for books and a quiet place to work.
Things have changed. How do you make it a success? There’s lots of planning, design, and thinking that goes into it and you get a sense of it in this introductory post.
Things to consider – layout of the room
Chapter books and graphic novels
If you’ve been paying attention to education, there’s much more to come as we think about makerspaces and all the other things that happen there. As she notes, the library environment is the third educator in the room. If you think it’s just another room with books, you’ve got another think coming.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming posts.
Researcher’s Journal: Living in a post-truth world
Now that Paul is working on his PhD, he’s taking us deeper in thought as we tag along with his research.
This time, he’s looking at “post-truth“, ironically the definition that I’m sharing is from Wikipedia! This resource even has a post about mis-information.
It doesn’t take long when you turn on the evening news broadcasts from the south of the border that this concept blows up in your face. There was a time when an expert carried an expert label; now it seems like anyone who is willing to stand in front of a camera and scream gets the air play. Truth used to be so binary.
Paul’s current thoughts are influenced by Sam Weinburg and he’s good enough to give us a glimpse of his research reading.
These days, it seems anyone can be a journalist and you can start with a blog and share whatever information you want! Later, I’m going to talk about a blog post from Bonnie Stewart and she has a link to a resource on eCampusOntario about Information Abundance. Good reading and I can’t help but think that Paul’s work is important but how will it be judged objectively? What does objective mean anymore?
All teachers have a way to start their class. There’s a phrase that you often hear “minds on” to describe things. You’d like to think that students come in, sit down quietly, and get to work. About the second day in this profession and you know that they need help; it doesn’t come naturally.
Aviva shares how she personally starts her day. With an early start, she’s into the popular word puzzle games. I know that many teachers are now using it as a fun start to the lesson (psst don’t tell them that it’s good for them) but Aviva uses it for herself to get her mind going.
Then, what would an Aviva post be without pictures? She shares how her students get started independently.
It seems to me that the key to all of this is to find a bite-sized activity that’s engaging and enjoyable to do. That’s not always easy but finding it will have huge payoffs.
Redesign for online: 3 easy steps to questioning everything you do as an educator
My RSS Reader brought up this two-year-old now post from Bonnie. I don’t know if she updated it or if it was just fortunate luck but I read it and really enjoyed it. There’s so much wisdom in here that, after COVID, we can get a better understanding of now.
Warning – the title is a bit of a bait and switch but not in a bad way. As she notes, there is no such thing as three easy steps.
Online teaching is her thing so she does write from a strong background and credibility. After two years, everyone has built up a bit of expertise so her experiences have added importance.
There were a few big takeaways for me.
“Redesigning for online is a confronting process. It forces you to pare down both your course content AND your course communications to the bits that matter most” – Yes! Not everything gets ported over. It’s also a good idea as you prepare for F2F next year
“the infrastructure of the internet is actually designed FOR two-way participatory communications” and she gives terrific examples of what to do. I thought that the concept of knowledge creators versus consumers was particularly helpful. With YouTube and the like, I think everyone has got the consumer part down pat
“My partner, on the other hand, worked ten hour days, wrote half an Online Teaching textbook, and created an entire site of video resources and interviews about digital pedagogies” This is a rich resource
There is a presentation and the irony of the tools used isn’t lost on me but it will be a good hour of professional learning for all.
After the fact, I had some regrets about sharing the post. The content was about the work that Diana puts in to support her colleagues in a couple of graduations in the school – from Kindergarten and Grade 8. She’s using her technical skills to build a presentation using green screen and a story for each student.
It was a little sobering when she mentioned that this might well be the first time for the kindergarten students to see a big audience. I never thought of that.
The regrets came from responses to the voicEd show where the concept of graduations was discussed in not so glowing terms. That wasn’t the point of Diana’s post and I hope that she missed it. Graduations are a school or district decision; not an individual teacher’s.
Having said that, I can’t recall any course where things abruptly ended after the last class. Even at the Faculty of Education just taking a single course, there was an invitation to go out or over to someone’s house to celebrate the end of things.
There have been so few things to celebrate these days that a formal graduation may just be the shot that people need, for that moment in time. There may be a time and a place to have this discussion but to tag onto this blog post isn’t it.
And don’t forget the parents – this from a friend of mine this morning…
So proud x 2 🎓🎓🎉🎉! Congratulations to both XXXXXXX and XXXXXXX on their Grade 8 graduation from XXPS! 🙌🏻 10 years in the making!
I’m sure that also the kids will get a DVD or a link to the presentation that they can enjoy for a lifetime. I sure wish I had that to look back at.
Ditto here. In the past while, I’ve had an optometrist and doctor appointment and I’ve worn a mask. The sign on the door says so and I know that these are occasions where you’re going to be closer than ever to someone not in your immediate family.
We also wear masks to the drug store where it’s about 50/50 with staff and Walmart where the ratio is less. I’ve convinced my wife that self-checkout isn’t bad because you don’t have to stand really close to anyone.
I’d like to go with the sentiment that it’s all over. But it isn’t, by a long shot.
A good friend, wife, and inlaw all got it
Friends on Facebook have checked in with the sad news
Baseball was cancelled because they couldn’t field a team
Then, there’s the concept of longCOVID (longCovid) that Marie talks about in the post. It’s not pleasant and she doesn’t sugar-coat it.
Somehow, so many have bought into the concept since vaccination centres are shut down and there isn’t a frenzy to get a jab.
I had to smile a bit at her thoughts about style. Like so many, I just wish we could get to the point where it’s not here and we don’t have to worry about writing about it. We’re not there yet.
How’s that for a blog title inspiring a musical memory? The title connects to Elizabeth Lyons’ post and that’s pretty much sums it up.
She blogs about a smell that her husband’s super sensitive nose and a smell in the house. After I read the post, I told Jaimie about the first accused and his response was:
Always blame the dog
After reading the post, I can report that the dog was finally left off the hook and they did find the source of the smell. You’ll have to click through to find out where in Elizabeth’s little Slice of Life.
Here’s another Slice of Life post, this time from Melanie White.
It’s a fun post that talks about friends, colleagues, support, and emoji. Oh, and buying books
because the students need some joy
There’s a great deal of joy indeed in reading this post and I can’t help but reflect on the value of friendships that flows from Melanie’s writing. There is, of course, the friendship that she and her two friends have together but then also the online friends that checked in with comments.
Off on a tangent, she uses the word emojis to note the plural of emoji. Now, I’m not an English teacher but it just kind of made my eyes water so I did some research and it appears that both are acceptable. I guess it’s another reason why people find English so difficult to learn.
If you have plans to become a principal or you are a principal and you have questions about the effectiveness of your own communication plan, you would be well advised to check out Jessica Outram’s latest post.
With a grin on my face, the only thing that I found missing was it being published as a poem!
She had my interest when I took a first look at her post and she saw that her Staff Handbook was digital. How many of you still get a physical binder with resources in September and it’s supposed to last you for the entire school year?
There are two big ideas in the post:
Big Idea #1: If we communicate effectively with parents we will share the school’s story, better serve students, and build better partnerships and sense of belonging and pride.
Big Idea #2: If we communicate effectively with each other we will strengthen our team, collaborate more, and ensure consistency.
The big ideas are nicely fleshed out as she addresses Whole School Communication, Principal to Staff Communication, and Staff to Parent Communication Plan.
I’d be willing to bet that she’d be open to constructive criticism with her plans to help it grow and become even better.
There’s a strong message here that Amy Bowker is happy to be back in her classroom, despite the physical limitations. When she describes what normally happens in her classroom, it’s easy to see that it didn’t translate easily to working online.
For those who are thinking that back to school in COVID days involves sitting at a socially distance desk space, you’ll have your mind changed after reading Amy’s post.
I couldn’t believe the amount of engagement during this series of problems. The students were so into solving the problems that they were running back and forth from the projector to their whiteboards.
It was nice to see her give a nod to the artistic abilities of Laura Wheeler for her drawings in the Thinking Classrooms book.
I was impressed with the amount of whiteboard space she illustrates and mentioned it in the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. She shares the “high tech” solution is a Twitter message.
I’ll admit that this one took my by surprise. Of course, I know of the Yardbirds – who doesn’t? I’d never heard of this album though or any of the songs on it.
Off on a tangent, I got curious as to when Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds and went down yet another rabbit whole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Yardbirds_members This gives a complete listing of all of the members who ever where in the Yardbirds and notably identifies the big gap in their history.
This folks, is why I read blogs, to learn things.
And, I was wrong; I had heard one of the songs before – as Marc points out it was the song in the Chevrolet Cobalt commercial. I owned one of them and it was a great car.
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.
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
Testing New pedagogies
Teaching evolving content
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.