This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Week 1 winds down for most in Ontario schools.   I hope that it’s been a great one for you.  Speaking of great, here are some great posts from the blogs of Ontario Educators.


What Are Your “Why’s?”

If you need to read one post this week, it’s this one from Aviva Dunsiger.  She was inspired by another blog post and it’s worth a read too.

It may well be the missing piece in your classroom design and everything else that you do.  I can’t help but smile when I think of the number of times I asked students “Why did you do that?”  Aviva reminds us that it’s important to ask that question of ourselves.

I was doing some thinking on my car ride into school today. While I love seeing what rooms look like — and am often inspired by what I see — I also love hearing the thinking behind the decisions.


My Top 5 Defining Moments in teaching.

Kudos have to go out to Jonathan So for starting the meme #5bested.  Regular readers will know that I shared mine earlier in this week.  Jonathan is keeping track here.

I’ve read all that I can find and really enjoy the breadth of ideas.

I was pleased to find another one that he hadn’t discovered yet – from Ramona Meharg. Ramona’s post includes some interesting ones.

  • 4 Years of Supply Teaching
  • Twitterpated – Twitterpated?

You’ll have to click through to read all five including finding out what Twitterpated means.


Community Response to Five Ways to Damage a Good School

You may recall my challenge to Paul McGuire to extend his thinking about ways to damage a good school in a blog post from Greg Ashman.

And he did.

He put up a Google Form and asked people for input.

This post from Paul focuses on one of the responses.  This quote is from his blog which is from a quote from someone who had responded.

Build a community & relationships. If you don’t have positive relationships with your students, then nothing you do in class really matters. The same applies to admin. If you don’t take the time to build relationships with your staff, then it will be difficult to get staff buy in for positive changes.

That’s great advice for all.  Particularly in the first few weeks, it’s so easy to get sucked into the black hole that is administrivia.

Andrew Campbell shares one of the ways he does it in his class to Twitter.

Bingo isn’t just for staff meetings.


Test Scores Reflect What We Think About Math

Speaking of Andrew Campbell, check out the case that he builds here.

I really like his story about his sons going for their driving test.  Even back in the day, I followed the same route.  We had sit ‘n git classes but the important part was getting out in the “real world” and driving the streets of our town.

We learned from the experience just as today’s students learn elements of mathematics by exploration and inquiry.  Yet, they’re tested in a 1:1 situation with themselves and the paper test.

Most certainly, those of us who drive did it in the real world.  We didn’t revert to a pen and pencil test to prove we knew how to drive.

The good news is that, since Andrew’s post, there’s news that the Ministry of Education will be doing a rethink of things.  Hopefully, this is part of it.  There are so many groups that would like to see a change.


WAYS TO REFLECT ON YOUR TEACHING – A PRACTICAL APPROACH

From the TESL Blog, Michelle Wardman offers eight suggestions for how to reflect on your teaching.

I felt pretty good going through the list.  I had done many of them.  One of the most powerful ones, particularly if you get to teach the same grade or same students again, is the START/STOP/CONTINUE approach.  In all my lessons plans, I always had a reflection area that starts as a big blank spot that encouraged me to fill it with something.

She also talks about forming a Teacher Development Group.  I know that there are often attempts to have a forced PLC event but this is different.  This is driven by you.  It reminds me of the tenants of Peer Coaching which I found to be so powerful for me.

Click through to read all eight.


Is It Possible to Create a Culture of Feedback?

The blogger in me wonders.  After all, there is room for comments and feedback below but very few of you will take the time to give me feedback.

But, Sue Dunlop isn’t talking about blogging here.

She’s talking about feedback in general and the observation that “they won’t do anything anyway”.  I think that there’s a fine line between productive feedback and bitching at times but, if you ask for it, you need to be able to accept both.

She makes an interesting observation that any changes based upon that feedback might not necessarily happen immediately.  I think that’s a real reality in education.  I have to smiled when I think about all the “21st Century School” stuff that I’ve read this week.  We’re going to milk that one as long as we can, I guess.

It seems to me that, in addition to creating the culture of feedback, you need to have a culture of recognition of that feedback.  So, when you adopt an idea, send a note of thanks or appreciation to the person, invite that person to help you make any changes, and announce it in front of an audience and give credit where it’s due.


REFLECTIONS ON CANADA’S 150TH BIRTHDAY – CREATING UNITY IN DIVERSITY

For this entry, I’d like to return to the TESL Ontario blog and a post from Marcella Jager.

This summer, it was 150 this and 150 that, and we generally enjoyed ourselves.  Although, here in Amherstburg, we had issues in inflating the duck.

There were also a lot of revelations about our history that came to light that didn’t paint a picture of everything being all that rose at times.

The post offers hope for the next 150 years.

Canada’s best years are not behind us, they are before us. There are cracks in our social fabric that a shared double-double cannot seem to heal.

You can’t help but think of a better Canada after reading this post.  What will you do to contribute?


Once again, I hope that you find this collection of Ontario Edublogs inspirational.  I can’t do them justice in my comments; you need to click through and read the richness and wonderful thinking that happened on each and every one of these posts.

If you’re a blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Can you believe that we’re approaching the end of July already?  Where did the month go?  It’s going to be a nice weekend around here: Explore the Shore, and the Car Crazy Show.

It’s always a great week when there is lots of thinking from Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught.


#WeLeadBy Student Digital Leadership at its best

I had the honour of helping review Jennifer Casa-Todd’s book as she was writing it.  I do remember one disagreement that we had, albeit friendly, when I challenged her on some concept she wanted to include.  I remember my comment “Haven’t we got past that?”.  Her comment was that we hadn’t in some districts.  So sad.

On the other hand, there are some incredible things that are happening and Jennifer uses social media to showcase the best of it.  In this post, she illustrates how she practices what she preaches and tweets.  It’s all about the process for a province wide student Twitter chat.  There are interesting reflections on her process, background work, and the people that she’s met.

This is well worth the time to read and affirm to yourself that the kids are alright.

I’ve always been a social media and leadership fanatic. I’m honored to be able to combine the two and show my student digital leadership! What an amazing experience I know’ll known I’ll never forget.


IBL and learning

When was the last time that you seriously thought about what learning truly means.  All of us who have ever been in a classroom will think that we know.  As I read this post from Julie Balen, I can’t help but wonder if what we think might be too narrow.

Watt and Coyler tell us that IBL is influenced by constructivism (page 4), and they also acknowledge that IBL is only one pedagogy amongst many that we decide to use based on our knowledge of how our students learn. This point is important, and it is why I have begun the book study by thinking about what learning means.

As noted in the title, she’s focusing on Inquiry Based Learning and her observations will have you thinking.

The concluding paragraph of questions is set in the context of students in Grade 9 and 10.  I can’t help but think that it’s too late by that time but that can be reality for many.  It’s one of the few places where you pull together students from so many disparate backgrounds.


Hubbub! Coding a First Nations’ Game of Chance

Have you read any good code lately?  If the answer is no or you’re just curious, check out this project from Brian Aspinall.

The game is based upon a dice game and there’s a link to the background of the game in Brian’s post.

But then, follow the link in the post, and you’ll be playing.  After a moment, you’ll want to look behind the scenes to see how things are actually coded.

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But don’t stop there.  The power of Scratch lies in the ability for you to remix his work.


Part1: Summers are for resting, recharging and retooling

Read this first.

This process really does take a week-and-a-half, or two. My body doesn’t recognize vacation mode until 7 days have passed…otherwise my body things it might just be a long weekend, or Spring Break. Once I’m grounded, present, and connected…I can move forward to reading and other intentional activities that make me feel alive, and help me to RECHARGE ! That’s for next time!
Thanks for joining me.

That’s at the bottom of Heidi Solway’s post of July 20.

It does take a while for summer holiday mode to kick in!  I loved reading about her summer routine.

Any bets on when Part 2 will be posted?


MUSLIM GIRLS MAKING CHANGE

One of the joys about reading blogs is going places where you’d never go other wise.  This post, from Rusul Alrubail, is one of them.

Thanks to her wonderful blog, I now know about MGMC.

Muslim Girls Making Change, or MGMC, is a youth based slam poetry group that started over a little more than a year ago. As a group (us being four teens in high school), we often felt that our voices weren’t being heard or that they weren’t important.

And now so do you!

The post is an interview that will give you some insights about the why and how of this group.

Could the concept be replicated in your school?


Minecraft and Stop Motion Animation

I enjoy reading what teachers are doing with Minecraft in the classroom.  Scott Renaud shares what’s going on in his classroom and where he intends to take it.

It’s an interesting read and also a call for collaborators.

That is where we are going and what our plan is, we would love to connect and work with like minded educators from around the world, if this sounds like something you may be interested in please reach out to me and join our team.


A SUMMERTIME TEACHING ADVENTURE

From the TESL Ontario blog, here’s an interesting insight to teaching overseas.

I found teaching overseas enabled me to be far more vulnerable since nobody knew me. There was simply less reason to worry. After all, in two weeks, I would likely never see these students again. It was a very different perspective to approach the class with. To be honest, it was kind of fun and sometimes scary at the same time.

This was another concept that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to even think about and so enjoyed reading about the whole process.

The post concludes with four tips about things to consider if this appeals to you.


Thanks to all of the above for continuing to blog, post, and share their thoughts over the summer.  It’s appreciated.  How about YOU?  Have you blogged recently?

Please take a moment to show your appreciation to them by clicking through and sharing a comment on their posts.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It was a little strange this week not doing the weekly radio show with Stephen Hurley to give an advance look at what would be in This Week in Ontario Edublogs.  Unfortunately, we were not able to connect on a time on Wednesday so you get to see them all here first! Great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.

Don’t forget – if you’re an Ontario Educational blogger or you know of one, go to the landing back at the link above and add the link to the blog.  If you’re just looking to find new people to follow, I have the link to my Ontario Educator Twitter lists there as well.


Language, Culture & Math

Deborah McCallum is always good for providing a thought provoking post and this one doesn’t disappoint.  It’s a really powerful reminder that teachers are there for the entire package and not to cherry pick topics.

With so much emphasis on improving mathematics test scores, it’s easy to overlook this.

Screenshot 2017-07-13 at 07.01.43


‘Limited Pedagogy’ in the Past? I Don’t Think So!

I was thinking that maybe Peter Skillen had finally lost it.  Hadn’t he already blogged about this before?

Well, maybe, probably, yeah, definitely, …

But it’s a topic well worth repeating.

We didn’t have ‘limited pedagogy’. We had a robust and vibrant movement and approach based on the work of Jean PiagetJerome BrunerSeymour PapertFrank SmithLev VygotskyIvan IllichPaulo FreireA.S. Neill and countless others who promoted discovery learning, constructivism, student-centred approaches, open classrooms, active learning, multi-age learning groups, etc.

Check out Ontario’s Hall-Dennis Report (Living and Learning) of 1968.

The bizarre thing is that we didn’t have limited pedagogy in the past, in the past we had limited technology!  I can remember when the Ministry of Education provided three Icon computers per school.  Various sources were used to increase access to technology for students but the environment wasn’t perfect for a harmonious and easy use of technology in the classroom.  When you have to “take the kids to the lab”, it could easily be assumed that it was a special event that had nothing to do with regular teaching and the excellent pedagogy that was understood.

But those excuses lie in a past limited by funding and access.  We now have access and a marriage with good pedagogical practice should deliver on the promise.

Holy cow, it has generated a lot of discussion though.


I Packed. I Came. I Shared. And Now I’m Left Wondering.

If you’re a reader of Aviva Dunsiger’s work, you won’t be surprised about the wondering work.  I think that her “wondering” makes for an improved environment for her students.  We talk about inquiry and wonder being essential for students; why not for teachers?

This time, she’s wondering about people leaving her session early.

Screenshot 2017-07-13 at 07.15.55

These are good questions to search for answers.  There may well have been other circumstances.  Perhaps it was just the fact that it’s summer and it was nice outside.  Perhaps people could connect the dots and didn’t feel they needed the hands-on time.

There could be a million other reasons but I’m sure that Aviva’s wondering will result in a different approach in the future.

Perhaps do the “play” first and then tie the big concepts together afterwards?  We live in a PD environment where people are encouraged to “learn with their feet” and to move on if their needs aren’t being met.  That’s great in theory but how do you know where the session is ultimately headed?


#Iceland: Getting our bearings

Alanna King’s on holidays in Iceland with family.  This is one in a series of posts about a summer exploration there.

There’s a great description of what’s happening to the family as they take a look here and there.

I’m just surprised that Tim didn’t rent a motorcycle and leave it to Alanna and Max to catch up later.

The best part is the beautiful pictures that she’s sharing.

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Making a Positive Impact

I’m not going to say much except to highlight this last line from Jennifer Casa-Todd’s post.

How might you make someone’s world brighter today?

It’s not always easy.

On my recent trip to Baltimore, I spent a lot of time in airports (I live in fear of missing my flight) and so I’ll try to strike up a conversation with people.  In one case, I offered my iPad to play a game on to a child who was a little wild.

Airport people like being left alone, I guess.

Attempting isn’t always appreciated but I hope that I never stop trying.


What Does an Innovating Leader Look Like?

I taunted Paul McGuire to write a post so I guess that I should include it here.

So, what does an innovating leader look like?

I would hope that you say “like me”.  I would also hope that you say “I lead by example” instead of “I lead by telling people what to do”.

I always see red flags when people use the term(s) “leader”, “innovator”, or “innovating leader” in their own bio or other places where they describe themselves.  That is indeed the lowest of the low hanging fruit.  Wind fall, perhaps.  It’s more impressive when others use that term to describe them.  Then, I sit up and notice.

Screenshot 2017-07-13 at 07.33.00

The best piece of advice I ever received came from my father.

Be humble.  You look good when you make others look better.


A long-overdue tribute

I’m always a sucker for a well-crafted blog post title and that’s what this was from Diana Maliszewski.

I started to read and got interested when she made reference to the Maker Festival in Toronto.  Then, somehow the topic turned to a special trip to Toronto.

img_4183

Pictures and stories about an anniversary are really few and far between so I did read to the end.

Congratulations, you two.


There’s always something to love from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take the time to click through and read the entire posts and drop off a comment or two.  They’ll really appreciate it.

Time flies


I had forgotten about this activity until I checked into this infographic.

Selection_003

The complete infographic and the story behind it is available at

How the Average Working Adult Spends Days.

So, check it out to see where all those hours (days) went.

The activity?  In an elementary or secondary school, it would just be a guess since students have a lot of living to do yet.  Part of that living should be spent mastering spreadsheets and the features that they include.  Certainly, one of the more helpful is to take data and visualise it.

Data?  What data?

Each of the individuals in your class has a story to tell about their time.  In the activity, we would create a column for the activity and then columns for the week.  Data is entered daily in terms of hours/minutes.  Just be consistent.

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At the end of the week, it’s just a matter of tallying the rows to get a weekly summary.  Then the fun begins.  Are there any trends?  Can we convert each activity to a percentage?  Where do we spend most of our time?  Can we adjust our lives to change the time?  Can we collect to the data for the entire class to see where we stand in comparison?  Are there any activities that are out of whack with a happy life?  The list goes on and one.

Even more powerful that looking at the raw data is converting it to a graphic form.  Your spreadsheet application has you covered nicely there.

Google Sheets

From the Insert Menu, select your data, select Chart, and then decide what type of chart would be represent this data.

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Excel Online

The Insert menu flies out a number of options.  Don’t forget that, under each type, there are a number of additional options.

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The possibilities and options are almost endless.

In addition to a discussion about things that students do and how they spend their time, there’s a wealth of spreadsheet understanding embedded.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and a time for a blogging tour of the province.  You don’t have to look any further for the good stuff than that created by Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I read and had stick lately.


Letting Go Again

We often hear that “students own the learning” and adjust the classroom to honour that.  It’s great to read about those who now respect that philosophy and adjust things accordingly.  But, the learning is the only thing that happens in the classroom community.  There are all kinds of other things that make for a smooth running environment.  Aviva Dunsiger itemizes some of the things that come to her mind in this post and then, in Aviva fashion, asks questions and wonders…

I can’t help but wonder (now she’s got me doing it) if this isn’t a good activity for everyone to do with their own classroom.  Sure, the students own the learning but who owns every other element for success?  Isn’t that part of the learning as well?  Why not treat it as such?  If there ever was a “call to action” post to refine your classroom, this is it.


Bringing Back 10 Posts

Speaking of calls to action, check out Tina Zita’s latest.  If you need that shove to get consistent with your blogging or even starting, consider opting in to her 10 posts in 10 days challenge.

It may sound daunting but it really shouldn’t be.  She’s not asking you to write the next great epic novel.

Just jot down 10 things and turn them into 10 posts and away you go.  You don’t even have to commit 10 days if you are busy.  You could write 10 posts in one sitting or spread them out a bit and schedule them to appear for 10 days in a row.

The key is just to do it.  It will make you grow as a thinker and blogger.  You have that special genius that makes things work in your classroom or you have observed 10 things that you’d like to write about.  Why not do it?

It might just be the start of something beautiful.


Equation Strips

David Petro shares a very interesting lesson plan for Grade 7s involving a method to visualize linear equations.

In Ontario our grade 7 students are introduced to solving simple equations in the form ax + b = c where the values of a, b and c are whole numbers. We think it’s a good idea for them to start by having some sort of visual representation of each equation. In this activity, students are given 16 cards that correspond to 16 equations represented as strips (the top and bottom of the strips represent the left and right sides of the equations). Students solve for x given the strips and then rewrite the algebraic form equation.

I’ll bet that so many use a graph as the first option when dealing with this topic.  This is an alternative that might well turn into a quicker understanding of the concept.

Resources included!

I like the concept for classrooms and it’s a terrific example for all as to how to share resources via Google Drive and FirstClass.


Listen and Be Honest

Powerful advice is included in this post from Sue Dunlop.  She’s honest and open about her position in life.

The post will hopefully give you pause to think about this topic.

Sue provides a nice collection of relevant links to support her position.


REFLECTIONS ON #YRDSBQUEST

From the KNAER-RECRAE blog, a look at the YRDSBQUEST event through the eyes of Melinda Phuong, an intern with the organization.

If you weren’t able to attend, check out what caught her attention.

  • RECONCILIATION WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF CANADA
  • A STUDENT MESSAGE ON REFUGEES
  • REFUGEE EDUCATION
  • A CULTURE OF “YES” TO BRING BACK THE JOY OF LEARNING
  • ISSUE + GIFT = CHANGE
  • DEEP LEARNING ON AN INTERNATIONAL SCALE
  • ACCESSIBLE LEARNING
  • LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

Do Cuts Hurt?

Unlike Matthew Morris, there were times when I did get cut from a particular sporting team.

I do remember the teams that I did make though and, if I think hard about it, some of the ones that I didn’t.  There were also teams that I just didn’t try out for.  They were just not for me.  I specifically remember football and the irony that I ended up coaching it at secondary school.  It’s a unique sport; I don’t think we ever cut anyone.  It’s nice to have big numbers for practices.  Where the real issue kicks in is when you realize that you really have to work hard at getting everyone in to play during the season.  There are other sports that never existed when I was in school as well.  I’m thinking about skipping in particular.  A friend of mine has a son who really excels at competitive skipping.

Some sports will take every body that shows up and that’s great for inclusion.  But, as Matthew notes, there are some sports where only a limited number make the team.  His observations of watching students come to see if they “made it” are a real POV for educators.  I’ll bet that he’d appreciate comments about how you handle the situation in your reality.


Do students think we should be using social media in school?

Jennifer Casa-Todd finishes off a post that she’d started earlier.  It was about the use of social media in school.  She admits that her sample may be skewed but that’s OK.  It was interesting to see her statistics and analysis of it.  I thought that the comments were interesting.

As I read the responses, I can’t help but wonder if these are original thoughts from students or are they parroting when they hear from their teachers or parents or other media.

There’s a link in the post that is supposed to go to a summary but does go instead to her questionnaire.  It’s worth clicking through to see what was asked and, if Jennifer reads this post, hopefully, she’s share the link to results with us.


Yet again, this has been for me another wonderful collection illustrating the great thinking that goes on throughout the province.  Please click through and show each some blogging love with a comment or two.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This will be the last post in this series for 2016.  It’s been a great year of thinking and sharing from Ontario Edubloggers.  

Again, the tradition continues with some of the great reading that I’ve read recently.


The Importance of Student Teacher Rapport

In this post, Jennifer Aston reflects on her successes as an Instructional Coach.  There’s so much good stuff there to pass along to new coaches coming on board, to existing coaches to reflect upon during their classroom times, and to the classroom teacher involved.  I really liked how Jennifer analysed the relationship that she builds with students and how challenging it can be when she visits a classroom that isn’t set up to support that.

I guess I’ve learned that one of my teaching (and perhaps even coaching) super powers is developing relationships.  I’ve grown to care about the students, teachers, coaches and administrators that I have worked with over the last 4 years.  I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard to leave.  But I also know that it’s time to build capacity in some other lucky teacher out there…

It sounds like she has a real wealth of skills and experience that she will take into her own classroom when her appointment as a coach ends.

I know that we all certainly wish her well wherever she goes.


Motorcycle Ride in El Salvador, March 2016

Over the years, I’ve come to respect and admire the photography of Peter Beens.  He’s one of those people who have all kinds of patience and does miracles with cameras that I could only dream of.  I realized I was in the wrong ball park when I was with him once with my camera that was my pride and joy and he was showing me some technique.  We stumbled upon a great photo opportunity and his comment was “I wish I had my good camera with me”.  I know that my camera didn’t measure up to whatever he currently had so I could only imagine what his good camera was like.

In this post, Peter shares some wonderful images from his trip to El Salvador captured from his point of view using a GoPro Camera.

As always, he takes so many pictures and through the “keepers” adds interest in what he sees.  The whole collection shared is worth the time to enjoy.


My Top 10 Sketchnotes in 2016

Another skill that I wish I could have is to create sketchnotes like Sylvia Duckworth can.  Hey, I even took her workshop and failed.  But she continues to amaze with her interpretations on a topic.

In this post, she shares the top “shares” of her sketchnotes from the past year.

Sadly, “Between the Ferns” didn’t make the list so I’ll include it here.

Maybe next year.


Just Start

I’m not actually a fan of New Years’ Resolutions.  Why that day?  Usually I’m watching football and could care less about any silly resolution.

Maybe it makes sense to start on January 2?

Or, as Matthew Oldridge notes…


Manipulatives in Secondary Math

I love this post from Heather Theijsmeijer.  Everyone who teaches mathematics is looking for that magic bullet that will put students over the top.

Working with manipulatives is big in elementary schools so why not in secondary?

Heather takes a pretty comprehensive look at Algebra Tiles and how they might fit into the secondary school curriculum.  Personally, I think it’s an important look.  If students have become reliant on manipulatives in Grade 8, it seems somehow unfair to cut them off at the knees just because they’re in a different building.  And yet, there’s still the notion that they do have to learn the concepts appropriately.

Heather asks some questions that I’m sure many would like an answer to.  If you have the answer, why not drop by her blog and share it with her.

  • Physically move the manipulatives INTO my classroom (out of storage) and have them in an easily-accessible spot for everyone to get to, not out of sight in an office or tucked away in a classroom closet.
  • Incorporate manipulatives purposefully into lessons – carefully choose which manipulative the students will be using and know why I’m choosing to use it. What process does it demonstrate? In what way will it help my students think/reason?
  • Make manipulatives integral to the lesson itself, not just have it as an add-on to what we’re learning. 
  • Challenge the students to whom math comes easily to use the manipulatives, and get them thinking outside of the memorization box. I hope this might also reduce the stigma of using manipulatives.

Using Technology to Facilitate Hands-on Learning

At least part of the answer to Heather’s question could be answered in this post from Camille Rutherford.  The post itself is actually a sharing of a slidedeck from a presentation.

I always enjoy Camille’s presentation; my regret at the past BIT conference was only being able to sit in for a bit of her presentation.

However, as I click through the slide deck, I can hear her voice and wisdom in my head.


An All Day Math Inquiry. Is it Possible?

I wouldn’t know where to begin to attack this provocation given to Peter Cameron’s Grade 5/6 class.

But his students did.

What follows in this rather long post is a capture of their thinking and exploring on the topic.  It’s a rather enjoyable post to read and picture students plunking away at it.  After all, where but in northern Ontario would you find experts on the topic of snow?

As you read through the post, you’ll realize that there is indeed a full day’s worth of inquiry crossing over many subject areas.

What a great experience for these students.


I think that it’s terrific that this set of blog posts “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” leaves 2016 on such a high note.  Please take the time to click through and read/react to the wisdom shared in these posts.

If you can’t get enough, the complete series of posts is available here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been quite a sick week for me.  I always seem to get one big cold each winter and somehow I got this one before Christmas.  It came at a pretty bad time.  I had agreed to do a presentation with Leslie Boercamp’s Hour of Code group.  It turned out that she had three locations tapped in and we went ahead despite the weather.  It sounded like they had a wonderful learning experience with their Hour of Code event.  Activities in coding ranged from “Block programming” to “Javascript programming”.  The group had some terrific questions to ask and I croaked back some responses.  One of the groups was at the Bruce-Grey Catholic’s Centre of Innovation.  I’ve got to weasel my way into a tour someday.  When the snow ends!  A Storify of their event is available here.


The Snowflake

I had another opportunity to see some Hour of Code activity.  This time, it was Peter Cameron’s class….

The class used some of the thoughts I had shared earlier this week in a blog post.  I followed along on Twitter for a bit and checked out the details in this post.  It sounds like there will be more as they close into Christmas holidays.

My thanks to Peter’s class for proofreading my post and helping me get it revised.


World Class…. again

Everyone needs to read this post from Tim King.  It’s probably the Canadian mentality that we feel like we’re not doing well enough.  But consider the source that’s telling you otherwise.

The PISA results for 2015 have been published and Canada is once again top ten (6th) in the world.  I imagine this means I’ll once again attend a bunch of Canadian educational conferences with American (30th best in the world) speakers who want to tell us how we need to completely re-imagine our (their) failed system.

Even with this good news, nobody’s saying that it’s time to relax – working on improvement is always the best option.

Take the time to read Tim’s analysis and you’ll feel pretty good about things.


It’s About More Than Beading …

Every now and again, Aviva Dunsiger writes a title for a blog post that makes me go “Wha????”

This time, it was using the term “Beading”.  What the heck is that?

After reading this post, I learned more about beading than I thought I ever would.

And, in true Aviva fashion, she tied the activity directly into the curriculum and also got us going by asking questions.

As children bead, they often talk. Sometimes they talk about their bead work, sometimes they talk about topics of interest, and sometimes their talk surprises you. This is what happened on Friday. I overheard some students playing with silly rhymes at the beading table as I recorded another learning moment in the classroom. My attention then turned back to this beading table.

Lots to learn, to be sure, and another confirmation that I’d be joining Aviva in the ever so stressed group!

But I’m sure that her students love it.


Two Thumbs Up for OPSBA’s EQAO Discussion Paper

This graph summarizing survey results kick off Andrew Campbell’s thoughts on the discussion paper on the topic of EQAO.

From the report itself, Andrew provides a list of the recommendations and the launches into his own reflections.

It’s interesting reading; the bigger question will be will it have an impact?

Will something happen now that it’s discussed in this manner from OPSBA instead of Teachers’ Federations?

I know many educators that hope that it will.


A Step in the Right Direction: #DiveIntoInquiry

At times, it’s so refreshing to find a resource that either confirms a philosophy or launches you into a new direction.  Colleen Rose found such a resource in the book Dive into Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie.

His assertion that Trevor’s book could address questions that had been occupying space in my mind was more than enough to keep me interested.  The emphasis on authenticity in the school environment, “practical approaches [married] with …theoretical and philosophical understandings“, and a “solid pedagogical framework” promised hope for someone yearning to connect the dots and establish order within my unknown vision of an ideal classroom setting.

What I like about this learning is that it isn’t something that’s laid on for her.  It’s something that she’s pursuing on her own.

It’s a wonderful example of showing your learning for the world to see.  Hopefully, by posting about it, Colleen will get a few people looking for the same thing.

Colleen follows up with some additional points to demonstrate her growth as a result of the book.


Standing Desks and Other Classroom Micro-environments

Lisa Cranston is taking another run at blogging by rebranding hers and then sharing some of her recent thinking.

Many people are exploring the concept of non-standard learning environments and reporting some successes.  For some students, it’s a welcome change and for others, it may be just what they need for self regulation.  As she notes:

Having said that, one student was still having difficulty even while he was standing – he was banging his metal water bottle, he was singing, he was bumping into the desks. After a few attempts at redirection, I finally had to say to him, “Adam*, you need to go sit on the carpet for a couple of minutes until you can join us at the game without distracting me so much.”  He went to the carpet and sat quietly while we continued to play, then after a minute announced, “I’m ready to come back.”

Lisa correctly notes that many of the examples for alternatives come from elementary school classrooms.  But that’s not necessarily the rule.

Even at the secondary school and post-secondary school level, you can expect to see things a little different.

Remember the tour of Peter Cameron’s classroom?


The True Meaning of Educational Leadership

This post, by Sue Bruyns will get you thinking.  So often posts like this lecture you on things that may well be something that you could have predicted before reading.

This was a little different and a reminder that it ain’t easy and schools and school leadership is more, far more, than just improving mathematics scores.

The true meaning of educational leadership can’t be neatly wrapped with a pretty bow, nor measured by the number of green vs red markers on a moderated task.  It needs to be an honouring of our past as we venture through the present and look towards the future.  And one never knows who will inform our leadership ~ we need to be open to the possibility of a trusted friend, with a figurative security blanket, being the best source of inspiration.

It’s a good reminder that we shouldn’t miss the big picture and that we should be prepared for those important moments that may not get to us in the traditional means.


What another wonderful week of great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take a moment or two to click through and read the original posts.  There’s lots of great content there guaranteed to get you thinking.