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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Black Friday, folks.  How many are you reading this on your phone while waiting in the cold in line for some sort of deal?

Me neither.  When you’ve got great thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers, why would you want to do anything else?

Read on to catch some of the posts that I read recently.


My Transformed Classroom

This is something that doesn’t happen often enough.  Not necessarily the “transforming” part but taking a picture, sharing it, and reflecting on the success and use of whatever you’ve put together.  It’s definitely much easier if you’re the only teacher using the room but it can be done.  Someone should start a challenge to have teachers reflect on classroom design by showing what they’re doing.  You just need something to record video and then upload it to YouTube.  You could even call it a Classroom Design Challenge. I know that Faculties of Education could use that so well.  And, it’s something that any teacher can use to make their own environment better.

Thanks to Peter Cameron for showing off his digs.  It looks really rich.

How does your room stack up to this?


Coding in 2004 – Looking back to move forward…

I love this reflection from Brenda Sherry about her first steps into coding dating way, way back.  Of course, it didn’t go back, back, back as far as Peter McAsh was kind enough to mention on Twitter to the days when he and I were teaching programming as first year teachers.  It’s interesting to reflect on the evolving use of the tools that we have to work with students.  Brenda offers some advice…

My biggest advice to teachers, in this time where many voices are telling us that we must have coding put into the elementary curriculum, would be to take the freedom you are given with our Ontario curriculum and innovate your own examples to go along with overall expectations!  I’m so glad that I didn’t wait and many other teachers like the ones at Quest and ECOO (BIT) are not waiting either.  Don’t wait….Innovate!

It’s good advice.

I’ll tag on some more advice.  Don’t wait until the next conference to hear classroom success stories or some speaker who is trying to get rich by doing the circuit repeating the same old story.  Coding or programming doesn’t require huge amounts of learning and expensive tools or the advice of someone who claims to be an expert.  It just requires inquiry.  There are plenty of interesting starting points; we’re coming up to the 2016 Hour of Code and you’re about to be swamped with resources.  Pick one, give it a try, turn the controls over the students and just be prepared to ask questions “What would happen if you did this?” or “Can you make it do that?” and step back.  You know the curriculum you need to cover; students have the inspiration.  What more is needed?


Thoughts prompted by Andreas Schleicher’s (OECD) Keynote

When you can’t go to a conference, there are a couple of good ways to get the message in other ways.  Sometimes content is live streamed, sometimes presenters share their slide decks, sometimes people write blog posts to share their thoughts.

That’s what Heidi Siwak did for this keynote address.

She shared a question that she asked…

I asked one question grounded in conversations I have had with numerous educators.  We know change is needed, however current timetables and school structures allow only token changes.   I wanted to know what interesting timetables he had seen in his travels.

I found the comment of “siloed subjects” an interesting observation.

It begs the question “If we have to have XX number of minutes a day in Mathematics or English or Physical Education” as proclaimed from the mount, are we doing it wrong?


STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning

Best. Idea. Ever.  I used something like this years ago when I taught Computer Science.  I would share job offerings or descriptions with students to answer the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

Deborah McCallum brings the concept to a wider audience.  i.e. everyone.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Here’s an excerpt from a job posting where she’s highlighted the sorts of skills that would make a candidate successful for the job.  (Read her post for the complete context)

Why wouldn’t you have a bulletin board highlighting jobs that require specific skills?

Why wouldn’t curriculum planning teams use this as a resource when buying or creating resources?

It’s an idea that you can use immediately.


Overcoming “Test Mystique”- My Principles For Mathematics Assessment

Part of the frustration of students and educators in Mathematics is the mindset that there’s only one right answer.  Textbooks reinforce the notion with the answer key.

This may be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when searching for success in the Mathematics classroom.  Matthew Oldridge takes on the topics and offers six things that can help overcome the concept of “Test Mystique”.  It’s all good stuff.

Now, if he could only rework the concept of the standardized test…


5 Ways to Use Explain Everything in Math

There are a lot of people who really see the value in the “Explain Everything” application.  You really get a sense of its power when you see it in action and it can inspire some great ideas.  That’s the concept behind this post from Lindsay Leonard.

What a great example of using the application to solve a real problem with a strong student voice!

Doesn’t that just inspire you to give it a shot?

What’s nice about this concept is that it doesn’t have to be the next big three hour epic.  In a minute and a half, this student did a wonderful job of explaining.


I know that I say it every week at the end of these posts but what wonderful thinking and ideas shared by Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find time to click through and enjoy all the original posts.  There’s some really wonderful things to enjoy.

Make sure I know about your blog.  Fill out the form at the site above to get added.  And, if you’ve got a great post that should be featured here, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Now and Then


I’m a big fan of Google Maps and, in particular, Street View.  I guess that I might be a very visual type of person because, when I want to go somewhere, I’d like to know a bit more than an address.  I’d like to know what the place looks like too.  That way, I know exactly when I get to my destination.  It’s also handy to check out the neighbourhood and see where the parking is as well.

It’s also intriguing to check out some personal history.

We were having a conversation recently about living in Toronto while going to the Faculty of Education.  I yearned for a look at the house where I stayed.  I still remember the address; after all, I had mail sent there for a year.  Off to Google Maps I went and I entered the address and then I dropped to Street View.  What turned up surprised me.

It was a new house or maybe even a small apartment building.  I certainly didn’t recognize it so I spun Street View around to see if could remember any of the landmarks.  In fact, there were quite a number of new buildings on that street but I distinctly remember the house right next door so I was sure that I was looking in the right spot.  I’m guessing my hosts had sold their house to a developer.

That’s not uncommon.  Ah, too bad I couldn’t have just one more look at the old place.

Not so quickly, Doug.  You can.

Street View has a history of all of the images that were ever taken of a particular spot!  I rolled back the clock and, sure enough, there was the old house.  Great memories of living in the apartment over the garage were the result.

How to do this?

I checked out some places locally that I knew had had some reconstruction and rebuilding.  Sure enough, they had some of the older images.

Just for fun, I checked out the Municipal Building in the town of Lasalle which has had a beautiful facelift in the past few years.  I drive by it regularly so I didn’t even need to know the address.  I just zoomed in and then dropped into Street View and adjusted so that I was close enough.

There’s the rough-ish address that I was at when I looked at the picture.  You’ll see that the Street View image was taken in June 2014.  To the left, though, there’s an icon that I’d describe as a clock with arrows circling it.  Click that.  That’s where the magic lies.

Full screen, you have the current image and a little thumbnail of the image appears in the fly out window.  Check out the bottom of the window for a little scrubber bar.  I slid it back to 2009.

Now, the angle is a bit different or maybe the building was moved a bit in its reconstruction.  You can drag things around and relive what was.

It’s a fantastic way to relive at least some of the ancient history anyway.

How about in your classroom?

    • Have you had a reconstruction of the school that the students could look back at?
    • What about all the places that you lived in when you went to university?  Are they still there?
    • If you work at a new school, what was there before the building was built?
    • How about your old house?  Do you remember that car parked in the driveway?

    The sky’s the limit when you start thinking personal history.

    This Week in Ontario Edublogs


    Happy Canada Day.

    Enjoy some Ontario Edublogs before you head out to the festivities and fireworks in your community.


    Taking The Time To Reflect

    Aviva Dunsiger took me up on the challenge to do a Top Ten reflection post.  I did challenge her but she was already thinking/writing when she read the challenge.

    Here’s her #1.

    As I commented on her blog, I found that it was interesting that all of the items in her Top Ten list revolved around her connections with others.  Click through and read her other nine.


    Questions for Reflection (June or September)

    Joe Restoute General provides some questions for reflection as well.

    I thought it was of interest that they could be used as a summative bit, in June, or as a formative, in September.

    • What were your successes and challenges last year?

    • What were the periods in which you felt you and your students achieved the most connection?

    • What did you learn from the difficulties you faced?

    And, of course, you’ll have to visit his blog to see his complete list.

    I think that point #6 could be a separate blog post in itself.


    Too honest for EQAO

    You can never have enough stories about integrity.  It’s especially powerful when they come from a student and that was the case in this post from Brandon Grasley about a student writing the EQAO test for mathematics.

    Check out this conversation with a young lady in his class.

    The rest of his post puts it all in context.  It reminds us that education can be a game and can be gamed at times.  How many times do our students or we, in an educational setting, write an answer knowing darn well that it’s wrong but we were hoping for at least partial marks?

    I think it’s a good ethical question for the first of the year – what’s better – getting a zero or getting a bit of marks just for an attempt to put something to paper.

    In the “real world”, whatever that is, you would turn to get help via resource or talking to a colleague.  You don’t always go it alone and have to have it done within a certain time period.  That reality only exists on tests.


    My Kids’ Digital World

    Good grief, they start to learn young, don’t they?

    The rest of the post from Jennifer Aston is fun to read and brought more than a quick smile here.  I don’t ascribe to the concept of the digital native but I will fully admit that there are, and always have been, differences between the generations.

    While we may not be vested in today’s technology at the same level that youngters are, we can certainly be there to protect and install a sense of right and wrong.  And, as Jennifer notes, we can learn from them if we only take the time to do so.


    Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 74 #KindergartenBioBlitz June Edition

    Hosted three times a year, Early Years teachers all over the world should give this a look to see if they can participate.

    From Rob Ridley’s blog, he reflects a bit on the project, its beginnings, and how it’s expanded to include countries all over the globe.

    This really reinforces the concept that learning doesn’t necessarily have to be enclosed within the walls of your classroom or the fences of your school.


    Know Thy Impact

    Lisa Cranston describes nicely one of the challenges of being a resource teacher with a central assignment.  I worked along with her and I know that it’s always hard to tell if you’ve made a difference or even been noticed.  Even though we had one of the smallest geographic regions in the province, it still was tough to make sure that you made the connections.

    I had the luxury of bringing school representatives together every other month for some shared learning and I also kept a checklist where I recorded all of the school visits that I made.  I much more enjoyed visits to the Hillman Marsh than sitting in a windowless office.

    But still, there aren’t enough hours in the year to visit everyone.  How do you know if you make an impact?

    A colleague and I were chatting the other day about how it can be challenging for central office staff like coaches and consultants to be able to see the impact our work has on educators, administrators and students.  As a classroom teacher I think it seemed easier to gauge our impact, especially since I mostly taught primary grades.  As a kindergarten teacher, students might arrive with no pencil grip and by October they were printing their name!

    When I wasn’t physically visiting with people, I was updating information on our FirstClass server and my own wikis.

    But you still wonder – how much of a difference did it make?  Now that I’m not there, it’s all been erased.  (I still have most of it backed up here though)

    I had the honour of being at Lisa’s retirement celebration recently.  There certainly were many there to celebrate with her so I don’t think there’s any question that she reached so many in her career.

    Like Lisa concludes in her post, it’s nice to get that note from people just acknowledging the contribution that she made.


    ANOTHER ORR IN MY BOAT

    Reaching every student and making a difference is a challenge for every teacher.  Joe Caruso shares his experience and learning from a school district visit from Jon Orr.

    Students do most of the work.  The multimedia aspect can be engaging for the students.  In fact, as a culminating activity near the end of the course, Jon has the students create their own 3 Act videos.  Students learn best when they’re engaged and create their own understanding.  By coming up with their own questions, they create ownership in the process and are more likely to follow through.  Also, watching the rest of the video to see what happens, can peak the students’ interest to see if their solution is correct.

    I wish that I’d had the technology to do the 3 Act video when I taught Grade 9 mathematics.  I can see the power in it.  Another Ontario Education who is big into the 3 Act Mathematics is Kyle Pearce and his excellent Tap into Teen Minds blog.


    How’s that for a quick leap into Summer.  I hope that you enjoyed these posts and take the time to click through and read the originals.

    Then, enjoy the fireworks.

    Not just the news


    I find this more than a little disconcerting and I don’t think that education should ignore this.

    You can’t ignore the fact that students are so connected with their personal devices, home devices, and what their school provides them.  It’s a rare student that doesn’t have a Facebook account.  Well, at least those who are 13 or over because that’s the rule.

    How much time is spent there is kind of scary.  You know the drill – have another tab open when working; quickly hide the screen when teacher or parent walks by; walks into a telephone pole while reading on the street; notifications going off during dinner…

    And, in the bizarre election world this time around, Facebook and the way that it delivers the news is now a concern.

    Facebook delivers the news?  Well, sure.  Like any big service, it seems that they want to be all things to all people.  Log in once to Facebook and just stay there.  It’s a smart business plan; they get the users and the revenue from advertising.  It only makes sense that efforts are made to set up that one environment to appeal to everyone.

    Except the American conservative right wing. 

    Or at least that’s their concern, so today Facebook is meeting with representatives to talk about the issue.  I’m sure that it will be the lead story everywhere there’s news, including Facebook, tomorrow.  How does Facebook respond to claims that it censors the news in favour of a particular political thinking?

    As outsiders, the entertainment value from the race to nominations just gets more intriguing.

    Now, I will confess that I do skim the stories that Facebook provides in my trending column.  Here’s a sampling of what was offered yesterday.

    As it would happen, I also went to Sobeys yesterday and that selection of stories reminds me of standing in line to checkout and skimming the magazines that are strategically placed in racks to grab your attention.  But, there was nothing there to attract the attention of this Canadian news reader.

    How about politics?  What was our Prime Minister up to?

    Well, nothing to catch the eye of the top trending stories in the politics category.  At least, in Sports, there was one reference.  The Marlies are going on to the Calder Cup Eastern Finals.  The best part is that the trending stories tend to be another form of random news aggregator.  The worst part was that I couldn’t control what I might have an interest in.  However Facebook defines trending is how I get it.  The big question to be answered – do they censor that content?

    So, in total, I struck out on any Canadian news update.  So, I went to my feed of stories from those I follow.  There I found things from the Windsor Star, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail.  Unless I clicked through to their timeline, it was just a single story (and comments) mixed in with the other things that are normally there.

    For the complete picture, of course, you have to go to the primary source on their website and leave Facebook completely.  It’s also Digital Literacy 101 that you compare stories of interest from a couple of sources because of the editorial policies of a single source.

    It’s a reminder for me that Facebook isn’t my sole source for news.

    Back to the original complaints.  Is there a concern that the voting public is only getting their news from this single source?

    Back to education.  What a wonderful chance for educators to step up and analyse a news feed with students and compare it to a more traditional approach to getting the news online.

    There may come a time when Facebook nails it but that time hasn’t arrived yet.

    How about you?  Do you get news from Facebook?

    Gone skiing …


    … at least virtually.

    This may be old news to some but I just found it the other day and have been playing with it ever since.

    There was a story on the news about Wasaga Beach.  That got me thinking about some of the great beaches that Ontario has to offer.  Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine, Southampton, Sauble, …  And that’s just on Lake Huron.  In my youth, I used to visit them all.  These days, I have more of a Lake Erie focus.  Max Webster did their research.

    Anyway, back to Wasaga.  If someone was interested, you could start in Grand Bend and follow Highway 21 along the coast to Highway 26 and scoot over to Wasaga and hit all these great beaches en route.  Admittedly, it is quite a bit of a scoot.  A more direct route for me would be to take Highway 4 and enjoy the drive through Wingham, Walkerton, Hanover, Durham, Flesherton, … 

    I was “in” my car driving the route on Google Maps.  But, as I left Flesherton, I saw a squiggle to the north. 

    Whaaa?  Has Google Maps got a hiccup?

    So, I took a detour and zoomed in.

    Those squiggles were actually ski runs!  I’d never noticed this before.

    I took to zooming in and looking around at the names.  Could it get any better?  Could it?  I grabbed the Pegman from the draw and I’ll be darned if all the trails didn’t turn blue.  They’d been photographed!

    You know what I did next.  Well, second.  I first checked to see if the Pegman had grown skis.

    Seeing none, I went skiing.

    It’s been a few years since I’d been to the Beaver Valley.  I’d forgotten how beautiful it is.  I spent considerable time and bandwidth just running the hills.  I didn’t fall once.

    What a trip!  It certainly was a new experience for me.  For my friends from Grey County, how long has this hidden gem been there?  Are there details about how it was mapped?  Snowmobile? 

    My apologies to Wasaga … I got sidetracked.