This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday! I hope that everyone is well and staying safe. Please take some time to check through and read some awesome thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Teachers Teaching About Things: Has The Needle Moved?

There’s no doubt about this in Matthew Morris’ mind and I’m totally on side with this.

His Exhibit A is the events that happened on September 11, 2001. He reflects on where he was and how little he was able to know about the events of that day. His Physical Education classes went on without blinking.

Certainly, a lot has changed in society since then. We can be connected to news constantly if we wish. This includes students in seats in the classroom.

So, when events like those that happen daily are almost immediately known by everyone they can’t be ignored. No longer is the advice given to Matthew at his Faculty of Education valid. Teachers need to be aware of all that’s happening around then and have skills to be able to address them, age appropriately, when questions come from students.

There’s no question here; the needle has indeed moved.


GET IT OFF YOUR CHEST.

For those of you who think that Pav Wander is just a podcaster, click through and read this post. She and Chey Cheney use this space to share thoughts between podcasts.

In this case, it’s a recognition of people other than teachers, students, and administrators and their contributions to the smooth operation of the school.

She takes the time, in this post, to recognize the secretarial staff. They are constantly juggling priorities and continuing to make it happen.

It’s a nice salute to these hard working individuals and I’m sure that any that happen to read this post will be appreciative.

While Pav suggested hugs, we know that that’s not a reality right now but I’m sure that you can come up with something tangible and virtual that would be just as affective.

She uses the word “unsung” and I’ve never seen it used better.


Play with Your Creative Blocks

Oh, man, did I need this shot in the arm from Jessica Outram.

While I don’t consider myself a creative person, I do have a few good moments. She outlines and describes four things to attack this…

  • Question
  • Adapt
  • Collect
  • Act

I’ve done a great deal of thinking about this. I know that I’m not the type to be able to sit down and “be creative”. I find that I have to keep a list when I do find myself being creative. Then, in my not so creative moments, I can always turn back to the list.

I’m going to give some of her suggestions a shot and see if it can turn things around for me.


Rassembler les championnes et champions

Excuse me for this interlude…

La pandémie, c’est un événement marqueur dans l’histoire de l’humanité. Elle nous a enlevé beaucoup jusqu’à ce jour: sens de sécurité, un degré de liberté, et pour plusieurs, des personnes près de nous. En même temps, elle nous a présenté une cause commune: celle de remettre en question ce qui est vraiment important dans toutes les sphères de la vie.

This was one of the better observations about the COVID pandemic and what it has meant to education.

We all know that “experts” are a dime a dozen and for a few thousand dollars, they’ll speak to your staff meetings. Is that necessary? Joel McLean offers a better solution – surround yourself with the right people, right now. He advises to not attract the wrong people which I think is good advice but I’m not sure exactly how to do that. Maybe he’ll write another post. And maybe another one about how to handle it when the right people turn into the wrong people.

Collaboration has never been so important. People are always looking for inspiration for success. In the past, it took special events to get together; these days, a message on social media is all that it takes at times to get started.


Coin Sorting Activity

On her EveryoneCanLearnMath blog, Alice Aspinall shares this activity. I recognized it immediately. I’d used it in Grade 9 mathematics as a statistics / probability lesson and in Grade 12 Computer Science as a nested sorting and graphing activity.

The concept is relatively simple and that’s where the genius lies. You just need to rob your piggy bank and do some sorting and arranging. Alice provides a link to a template should you want it. This should set the stage for interesting followup discussion about just what students are looking at.

As I read her post and reflected on my use of it in the past, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’re watching history.

  • when was the last time you used actual money to pay for anything? Even going for a coffee, I’m a tap and go type of guy now
  • when was the last time you used a penny? I suppose if you dig deeply enough into that piggy bank…but what a start for a discussion by letting students work with historical pieces of currency!
  • the Canada / US border has been closed for a long time now. I know that if I look at the change in my pocket, there’s a mixture of currency from both countries. In Canada, they’re used interchangeably most everywhere. If you look closely at Alice’s picture, you’ll see some American coinage. Now that the border has been closed for so long, will that be a reality as we go forward?

But I am thinking … if we become a tap and go society, how would we modify this activity?

If nothing else, it’s always been a good activity for that spare change!


OLA SC 2021

Only in education would Diana Maliszewski get away with a blog post title that has so many acronyms in it.

For the uninitiated, it’s expanded to be Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2021. I’ve attended this super conference a couple of times and presented there twice. It’s a must-attend conference for every teacher-librarian and librarian for sure but I would suggest that any educator that’s using any kind of material in the classes should go at least once. It’s amazing and I understand why teacher-librarians clamor to go every year.

Alanna King sent out this wonderful acknowledgement above to Diana’s summary of the conference which was obviously virtual this year. Diana does give a great summary and I’d suggest you click through to discover the nine sessions she attended and read her observations. It’s very complete including a large number of embedded Tweets which reads like a who’s who in teacher-librarianship in the province.


Create CHANGE in the Education System

I was a little hesitant to click and read this post from Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge.

Is this really the time to bring in some sort of new pedagogy?

But, I’m glad that I did because that wasn’t the point of this post. Nilmini is proud to be a brown educator and gives a quick summary at the top of her post.

  • Educators have a responsibility to teach anti-racist perspectives.
  • Create change in the education system by seeing skin color. Give a voice to individuals from diverse backgrounds in the field of education.
  • All educational spaces and systems need to move towards change and learn and adapt to bring about systemic changes.

Then, she digs in and gives us a very personal summary of things from her perspective. This includes discussing where she grew up and the political reality of Sri Lanka.

This is a post that I most certainly could not write. But I can read and learn with empathy. Folks, this is an important post and you need to read it.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read these blog posts and enjoy them for yourselves.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Joël McLean – @jprofNB
  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte

Mapping it


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

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

It started when I read this story

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

It comes from the Mississauga | insauga.com online news service.

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

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

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

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

Could it be that easy?

And, it was.

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

  • N8T
  • N8R
  • N8H

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

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

N8T

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

N8R

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

N8H

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

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

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

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

A global visualisation


I knew that this was coming from some of the reading that I’d done but it hadn’t hit my instance of Google Maps until yesterday. Or at least I noticed it yesterday.

Those who use Maps a lot know that Google puts layers over the basic map to show things like traffic. Quite frankly, that’s what I use the most. Or, I used to use it when planning trips. That’s a redundant feature during stay at home times.

It’s the COVID-10 info layer that really caught my attention. Just like viewing traffic, it lets you take a look at the latest plotted on the maps and, if you zoom out, on the globe.

And then, of course, you want to spin the world.

That lets you view the rates per 100 000 in colour and a view of the trend in that country. Data always tells a story and you can see quite a number of stories just in this screen capture.

  • Canada versus United States
  • Greenland
  • Spain
  • Algeria

I know that we get reports periodically about the way things are happening in Europe but typically when it’s some sort of sensational bent to it. There are some good news countries, some bad news countries, and some no news countries.

I hope that this layer is enabled for your account so that you can check out how things are going world-wide.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, my first week back at the keyboard is in the bag and the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs was back on air. All is good and this Friday post is inspired by these great Ontario Edubloggers.


Weekly Plan for Online Learning: Special Education Classroom

From the ETFO Heart and Art blog, this is an interesting and very brave post.

I think most of us who are presenters are accustomed to putting our content and slide decks online for all to take a look at.

Tammy Axt goes one step further. She puts her entire teaching plan for her class online. It’s very precise in terms of the time for each activity and shows a nice balance between technology and non-technology activities. Of course, there would be the ever present meeting software running throughout. So, parents, students, colleagues, and now you can see what’s happening in her class this week.

It’s a jam packed schedule. No wonder teachers are exhausted.


That which doesn’t kill you…

Cal Armstrong shares with us a brutally honest look at his teaching life.

He’s a strong man and a real leader and so I know that, when he confesses he fell asleep at his desk, that there’s incredible amounts of stress going on in his teaching life.

He describes very nicely his working conditions, complete with plexiglass, and also some of the challenges. You can’t turn a school around 180 degrees in such a short period of time. There are challenging areas like the department office and I get that. I’ve never been to his but our office was over capacity.

Despite all the personal issues, it’s a testament to Cal that he also worries about his family and colleagues.

This is a hard, long post to read but I know that Cal speaks for many.


GO Explore! Developing an Explorer Mindset in Yourself and Your Students

When I first read this post from Peter Cameron, my first thought was Holy Overload, Batman.

It’s darn near everything that you might expect to have at your disposal if you decide to unlock your inner explorer and the explorers in your students. You can’t just throw this to the students; you need to experience it yourself and determine where it fits into your plans.

Great advice – start local and then go global.

Topics you could explore

  • Start an “Adventure Log” with your Students
  • Take the Learning Outside!
  • Don’t Forget Your Camera!
  • Novels Are Gateways to Adventure!
  • Virtual Field Trips to Anywhere in the World
  • Snow Kidding!
  • Google Earth: Bring the World to Your Classroom

Each of these topics is fleshed out in detail with links to all kinds of resources.


#oneword 2021

Many educators are exploring #oneword as a way to inspire themselves in 2021. It’s like a New Year’s Resolution but with a combination of personal and professional elements.

Sue Bruyns’ work hit me a little personally since it was my grandmother’s first name and my mother’s middle name – “Grace”.

When you research the word and the name, it quickly takes on a religious meaning.

In a world where you can be excused for being frustrated, lashing out, blaming others, blaming a virus, blaming a government, Sue suggests taking a step back and handling things with grace.

I don’t typically do a #oneword but I suspect I will have the meaning of this post running in the back of my mind at times as we move into the new year.


Follow Recommendations from a Twitter-Obsessed Nerd

I don’t typically use the word “nerd” myself but Shawna Rothgeb-Bird does use it to describe herself.

She’s found the advantages of making connections with quality educators and the power that comes from sharing and learning together. I love that.

She’s so enthralled with the concept, she shares a list of educators that she recommends following. I’ve already followed some on the list through one of my Ontario Educator Lists.

There was one person missing from her list of people to follow and that is Shawna herself. You can follow her here.


Expect the Unexpected and #OneWord2021

Diana Maliszewski jumped in with her #oneword for the upcoming year. Last year, she had chosen “push” and does a quick reflection. I think anyone could be excused for things not falling into place like they might.

So, her word for 2021?

“Well”

What follows next is her analysis of the word but her plan is to

  • Do well.
  • Be well.
  • Stay well.

Alone Together.

Trust Zoe Branigan-Pipe to cheat with her #oneword for 2021.

But, you know what, we all were cheated from many things in 2020 so this may well be a payback.

Her word?

“Alone Together”

Her explanation falls nicely from understanding each of those words individually.

I can’t remember a time in my connected life where Zoe wasn’t part of it. I so value the opportunities to sit and chat with her. I truly enjoyed the opportunities that I had to co-present with her.

I look forward to the opportunity to connect again. May it be sooner rather than later.


As always, I hope that you’re inspired by the thinking from these incredible bloggers. They’re all worth a click through to read in their entirety.

Then, please make sure that you’re following them on Twitter. Shawna, if you’re reading this, you can’t go wrong further building your network with these names.

  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Peter Cameron – @petectweets
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @mmeshawna
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy New Year!

I’m happy to note that we’re off to a great start for 2021 and blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can take some time to enjoy these.


The Value Of

Maybe the best part of 2021 will be an opportunity to reflect on 2020. In education and society in general, it was awful.

Beth Lyons takes a look back at the value of various things that are important to her.

  • hug
  • partner
  • network
  • passion

Hugs to you Beth. This certainly was an emotional post to start 2021 off for me and not only is that OK, I think it’s appropriate.


Presents and P3s

A real tribute comes when someone borrows a great idea and turns it into something special for themselves. This was the case for Diana Maliszewski. She had participated in a P3 for Noa’s podcast and used the concept with her own students. I had done that as well. It was fun and makes you think very carefully about your choices because Noa plays them and then probes you to explain your choices.

I had to do a scroll through Noa’s Wixsite in order to look for it since there’s no search function. Normally, I would back out to DuckDuckGo and let it find things for me. But, this little side venture showed me the who’s who that Noa had participated. It turns out that I couldn’t find it there but did find it on the voicEd site and the link is above.

I couldn’t help but think that there would be incredible value of doing this with students as I scrolled through Noa’s list. I know some of these people and some other’s just by reputation, and some not at all. Despite the level of knowing, they all had interesting stories to tell. So, why not do it with students.

It made Diana’s effort seem extra worthwhile.


Preparing our New Teachers

The title from Terry Whitmell’s post indicated that I had to read this. After all, how the heck do you “prepare” teachers in this day and age.

I was “prepared” in better times and was cocky as heck going into my first placement while at the Faculty. After all, I had a Bachelor degree and some of the best lecturers and computer environments in the world. I could dumb it down a bit and still be terrific.

Of course, I was completely wrong and humbled by the experience. Later, teaching at a Faculty of Education myself, I knew that you could never explain that to students until they had their first placement. They got it then.

In this post, Terry reminds us that the stakes are far different these days. Teacher candidates face:

  • teach fully online
  • traditional classrooms
  • hybrid settings
  • and the most challenging – physical and health education

It’s an interesting discussion. Learning to be a teacher is a challenge in normal times; I can only envision the challenges of today.


Friday Two Cents: Comic Strips: No Smoking

I remember doing a lot of research (and it was a great deal of fun) working with Comic Life when we were considering it for licensing during my term on the OSAPAC Committee.

We eventually ended up recommending that the Ministry purchase a license for Ontario Schools and it was received incredibly well by teachers and students. In many cases, it became the go to story retelling tool and it also made for terrific graphics for presentations.

Paul Gauchi shares with us his enjoyment of creating using comics and shares a December comic about smoking.

If you’re not using comics in the classroom, maybe it’s time to reconsider during these crazy times.


5 Ideas for Making Spirits Bright

This post, from Jennifer Casa-Todd, was released before Christmas and I’m sure that the ideas that she shares were inspired just for that.

  • Personalized Holiday Wishes
  • What I Like About You
  • Help Others in Need
  • Soup
  • The Masked Educator

As I read her post, I am truly understanding of the topic in context of the holiday season. It comes during a time of the year when people typically need a pick-me-up.

I can’t help thinking though that there’s no harm in extending this into 2021. Particularly around here, it’s been dark and lousy days; the type I remember going into work not seeing sun and leaving not seeing sun. In my mind, the inspiration that Jennifer uses in these ideas could easily be used right now.

She also uses the post to launch her new podcast.


Capital “H”, Hybrid #SOL2020

I absolutely love this post from Melanie White. You should read it and really think deeply about what she’s saying.

It actually dovetails nicely with Terry’s post above.

I will admit that I actually have a pretty good collection of computer skills, amassed over the years. It helped me in my job and I was able to focus on other things – not computer or technical things – but just how to teach better, recognizing students differences, etc. I can remember working them into presentations and one hurtful comment when dealing with a non-technical issue “that’s easy for you to say because you know computers” from a participant that had taken exception to me working on something other than a computer thing.

As with all of Melanie’s excellent post, you’ll read it a few times and pick up something new each time that will give you some insights.

But, the big thing in Melanie’s message about Hybrid teaching is just what you should consider the “H” in Hybrid to mean.


ODE TO OZYMANDIAS – KITCHEN RENO 2020

Confession – I had to look up “OZYMANDIAS”.

Alanna King is always worth a good read. She often takes you into places that you had no idea that you might enjoy.

This time, it’s a about a kitchen renovation.

It’s a lovely read and comes complete with pictures.

I just hope that she gave the contractor a little more specific details because this could end badly if not!


So, we’re off and running with great content from Ontario Edubloggers for 2021.

I hope that you can find time to click through and enjoy these posts. As always, there’s so much inspiration there.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Diana Maliszewski – @mzmollytl
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Melanie White – @whiteroomradio
  • Alanna King – @banana29