This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday!

Here’s some great reading from Ontario Edubloggers to kick off your weekend.

Guided Reading for Math?

I always get inspiration and ideas from Deborah McCallum’s posts and this one is no different.

Speaking of different, she sets the stage by talking about the way that we’ve traditionally made the study of language different from the study of Mathematics. She introduces us to the concept of reading for meaning nicely to Mathematics.

Who hasn’t struggled with an involved question that you’re positive the teacher stayed up all night trying to get the wording just right to mess up your day?

So, just like there are tools and techniques for understanding reading material, could the concepts not be applied here?

She builds a nice argument and provides 10 suggestions to make it work.

Why not try guided reading to help students build cognitive, metacognitive and affective skills for reading complex math problems? I encourage you to give it a try.

What Makes A Partnership Work?

You don’t have to follow Aviva Dunsiger for long on any social media before you see a reference to her “teaching partner Paula”.

This blog post is really a testament to the powerful relationship that the two of them have in their kindergarten classroom that I now know has about 30-ish students.

It’s a typical Aviva post – lots of colours and pictures. You’re going to love them.

There’s a powerful message in this post about partnerships in their case. It’s built beyond the professional requirement that they be in the same place at the same time.

As always, she’s looking for comments about similar relationships Stories like this are inspirational in education, particular at this time in Ontario.

Here’s to Paving New Ground

Sue Bruyns provides a bit of background with reading from Professionally Speaking but quickly gets to the heart of a very important issue.

It happens often in education.

I think we can all think of successful innovation stories. Little pockets of excellence at a school or within a department that swells and changes professional practice for others, sometimes changing the direction of things.

There are also other moments not as successful and we don’t always hear about them. Read Sue’s post and you’ll be exposed to one. A group of collaborators take to a piece of software, learn together, and make good things happen. Sue even notes that the company’s CEO flew in from British Columbia to help with some compatibility details. Staff persevered and the software started to show the results promised at Arthur Currie and other schools.

Then, it happened.

A directive from outside the school indicated that the software could no longer be used and that a board approved solution needed to be put in place.

You can’t help but feel sorry for those who spent two years learning and growing with the software. I hope that this gets past the software issue and that the skills and knowledge developed on the initial platform can be transferred to the board approved solution.

I really appreciated reading this post; we don’t often read thoughts from principals and even more infrequently their leadership challenges when influenced from outside the school.

Recess is as Real Life as it Gets

With a background in secondary school, I was out of my element here when the topic turned to recess. It just wasn’t a thing for me unless you counted “travel time” of five minutes between classes…

I really enjoyed the picture The Beast paints of recess and what happens there. I kept thinking that recess and some of the activities described were really application of the things that went on in class.

But, it’s not all fun and games.

And then, as The Beast does, they dig into just what recess actually is. More importantly are their thoughts about what recess could be in their perfect world.

I’m also still trying to figure this out…

Circle back around to the beginning of your post and what we know to be the difference between Dougie’s type of learning and actual learning.

When it comes to mental health in Canada, the gap is still too wide

Before we get to the message in Paul McGuire’s blog post, here’s an observation about format. For the most part, blogging platforms let you categorize and tag posts with words so that you can search later. Typically, this appears at the bottom of the post. In the format that Paul has chosen they appear at the top and one of the tags was “hope”. That helped me frame a reading mindset as I dug in.

He praises Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon for publically acknowledging his challenges with mental health issues.

We live in a great country. Have we not resolved this?

The World Health Organization reports that in low- and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder. In high-income countries, between 35% and 50% of people with mental disorders are in the same situation.

Those statistics should shock you and I would hope would shock society into realizing that we need to do better.

This is a sobering post and I thank Paul for writing about it and bringing it to our attention. I encourage you to take the time to visit and read it. You may end up looking at some of those faces in your classroom differently going forward.

Self-Care for Writers

I kind of found myself out of water and then back in again with this post from Lisa Cranston.

I studied Mathematics and Computer Science at university so the concept of writing big research papers, much less a dissertation, is completely foreign to me. At the time, I hated writing – in high school it always seems that you were writing to be on the good side of the teacher instead of something that you were interested in. I probably have that all wrong but that’s how I remember it.

So, I’ve never had the stress and stressors that Lisa describes in trying to do a long-term writing project.

But, these days, I write every day, albeit not the long-term format Lisa describes. I enjoy writing now and doing whatever research goes into what I do. I was quite interested in Lisa’s suggestion for low cost, self care…

Some suggestions for low cost, short term self-care include: a hot cup of tea, a walk outdoors, playing with a pet, holding hands with a loved one, reading a chapter in a non-work related book. 

I’ve got all this nailed except coffee is a replacement for tea and reading blog posts substitute for non-work related book. (although there always is something on paper beside my chair)

I’m curious though about her definition of “mindless screen time”. I’d really like a definition of that.

bringing back the participatory: a story of the #ProSocialWeb

I’m in love with this very long post from Bonnie Stewart.

Play this album while you read it.

I feel very old when I read her definition of “old-skool Web 2.0”

The participatory web, originally – the old-skool Web 2.0 where readers were also writers and contributors and people were tied together by blog comments – but also social media. Twitter. Even Facebook. Together, these various platforms have networked me into some of the most important conversations and relationships of my life.

That was me in the early days.

I like to think that’s me today. Maybe I haven’t moved on. I value those connections; I worked hard to make those connections; I learned that success didn’t happen over night; I valued the connections; I never thought of myself as a piece of data.

Things indeed are different now. Bonnie describes what is and why.

I love this quote that she includes in the slidedeck embedded.

“If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together”

I often wonder if those of us who were early adopters aren’t part of the problem. How many times have we shown the “power” of connections and the web and convinced others to join in? The missing part is that we don’t share how much hard work went into our initial learning to make it happen. We know it isn’t immediate gratification; do we share that?

Cringe the next time you’re asked to show the “power” of social networking by retweeting or liking a message.

You know that it’s much more than that and there’s great potential in the ProSocialWeb.

OK, inspired for a Friday – go forth and conquer now that you’re smarter than you were went you started. You did click through and read this amazing content, didn’t you?

Follow these amazing folks on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and a chance to take a look at some of the recent blogging entries from Ontario Edubloggers.

Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants

There are some amazing things that can happen when you share the best of ideas and opportunities. Brenda Sherry does this in this post.

She’s been well versed in the Exploring by the Seat of your Pants project in a number of professional learning events that she’s been a part of. Recently, she actually got to bring the power of connections to a classroom in her own school.

Junior students got to participate in an interaction with a Canadian marine biologist. Along with students from many other diverse places.

When you think about the traditional guest speaker, they drop in and talk and leave. The power in this model is that it’s recorded and shared via YouTube. In this way, you can revisit the event and also use it in other years. Heck, since it’s publically available, you’re not just limited to the one that your class used.

It sounds like a wonderful learning experience happened. The big takeaway for you, reader, is how to get involved in your own classroom by bringing an expert into there. Details are included in Brenda’s post.

The Gender Gap in Technology

You can’t argue with statistics. In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Michelle Fenn sets the stage.

According to a recent report* by ICTC (the Information and Technology Information Council) Canadian women represent about 50% of the overall workforce but represent only 25% of the technology industry workforce. 

We’ve known this forever, it seems, and yet the inequities still exist. Michelle offers some good suggestions to help change things in your own school.

I think it needs to go further though. If we know that this is a problem then there should be an educational way to fix it. But, until it becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum, we’re left with good people trying their best. That pales in comparison to what can happen if it’s done systemically and supported well with a common set of tools and pedagogy.

In addition to the suggestions in the post, check out the NCWIT website for updates on their activities and for free resources.

Until the situation is formally recognized though, students will still be subjected to hit and miss approaches and cutesy little standalone professional learning activities.

Privilege Masquerading as Superiority

A secondary school teacher who is doing something about this is Tim King. This post details his efforts and observations as he takes an all-female team to the Cybertitan competition.

Tim weaves an interesting story involving both observation and action.

Some of these observations are disturbing.

– where are all the girls?

– A number of people (oddly all male)  grumbled about the all-female wildcard spot

– taking an all-female crew to this event had me constantly seeing micro-aggressions I might have otherwise missed

– we were only there because we’re a girl’s team

– as she reached for the pen a boy from another team stepped in front of her like she wasn’t there

And there’s more. You need to set aside a significant amount of time to read this post where even creating the learning environment was not supported by the school district and the students had to build their own computers.

Just Stop Using “You Guys”

My apologies, in advance, to Sue Dunlop. When I saw the title of this post, I thought it read “Youse guys” and that it was going to be a fun little post about literacy.

Instead, it’s about the expression that is used to refer to a group of people.

yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one

From the post, it’s clear that Sue has either been in a group that was addressed this way or she saw it being used in that way. Either way, it inspired her to write about it.

She offers some alternatives to use in the post.

Most importantly, it’s a reminder that our choice of words is important. It serves as a reminder to me of the importance of an objective peer coach.

This applies to writing as well. I hope that I don’t use expressions that would offend; I would hope that readers feel comfortable enough to let me know when I do; and I would hope that I would take that as an opportunity to avoid doing it again.

Dear Jordan…

One of the powerful things about blogging is that, at least for now, your thoughts will be there forever. (or until you delete it or the service goes away or … well, you get my meaning)

One of the things that Patt Olivieri will have a chance to do with her son is share this post when he’s old enough to fully appreciate it.

In education, we know all about assessment, evaluation, and data points. Our system and our jobs thrive on it. It’s one of the things that separate education workers from other workers. It’s scientific, artistic, and humanist all at the same time.

It’s not as powerful as a mother’s love for her child.

You see, my love, there is no test for all of this, no grade, no level that can ever capture the everyday, ordinary stuff that accumulates to the only stuff that can ever be measured in immeasurable ways.


If you’re a parent, you’ll be moved by this post.

When Political Penny-Pinchers Pilfer Your PD

Alanna King didn’t post this to her personal blog (at least not yet) so I kind of stumbled onto it on the Canadian School Libraries site.

It was great to see a former colleague quoted in Alanna’s post. A bit of trivia – her office had a window, mine didn’t.

There are two major topics that Alanna addresses in this post.

  • Why should teacher-librarians self-direct their professional development?
  • How should teacher-librarians find sources of professional development?

It was good to see that the Bring IT, Together Conference and #ECOOcamp made her list. It goes much further than that and you’ll find yourself tired when you read about Alanna’s endeavours and recognized that they’re all tacked on top of her day job, including writing this post.

There was another area that I thought she could have addressed more completely and, perhaps it’s in a future post, but in addition to her involvement as a participant in things, she is also a highly sought after presenter.

If you’ve ever been a presenter yourself, and what teacher hasn’t in some form, you know that the research and preparation that goes into that can be some of the best professional learning that you’ll ever do. Unlike the professional that repeats the same session over and over again, changing your topics and focus regularly keeps you from going stale.


Now, here’s something completely different from James Skidmore. It falls from a reflection on student abilities from a course that he just taught. He notes that they’re good readers but …

What they can’t do, however, or at least not do very well, is identify passages or quotations from the novel that can be used as the cornerstone for a commentary on the larger text, and then build a commentary based on that passage.

I’d never really thought about this. Now that I have, I would like to think that that is part of what I’m trying to do with these regular Friday posts. I guess it’s a bit of a confession that I try to apply this technique to blog posts which are, by design, short and typically focus on one thing. How would I make out in a larger text? I’ve never thought about it and I wonder.

James has done some research and finds that there isn’t much that has been done already. What to do? He’s going to make it a project for eCampusOntario Extend mOOC . You can read about it and there’s a link to a collaborative document in his post.

I wonder if there are any other teachers of Language that would be interested.

And that’s a wrap.

Like always, some great thinking from Ontario Educators. Please take the time to honour their efforts by clicking through and reading the original.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for some Friday morning reading. Check out these great posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Mathland Actually

I was intrigued to find out just what Jim Cash was going to blog about after reading the title. I expected to find a review of some program that includes Mathland in its title. There are so many that have used this.

The inspiration for Mathland comes from Mindstorms and so it’s a natural that so many software developers might have wanted to make the connection.

This wasn’t the tact that Jim used though. He reminds us that Mathematics can be seen everywhere if you take the time to look. In fact, anytime you see reflection, patterns, provable answers, etc. you’re looking at something that has its base in Mathematics. That’s part of the joy and wonder of it.

In the post, Jim makes connections to Music, Toys, Poetry, Prose, Rap, and Nature. He’s encouraging readers to check in with their view of where Mathematics can be lived and enjoyed. Stephen Hurley and I had a crack at a few during our voicEd radio show. How about you?

I’m sure that Jim would love to hear from you.

Hatching a PLN

There’s so much to take away from this post from Terry Greene. You’ll need to read it a few times to catch it all.

It all started with an opportunity – Terry had 25 minutes at a staff meeting to explain Twitter.

If you’re a good user of Twitter, you know that that’s hardly enough.

Terry elected to create a presentation to get the job done based on the “Create an Adventure” model.

It’s well worth going through. He has five sections.

Pick your own Twitter adventure!

Adjust the Tuning

Those of us that were never principals have no idea about what goes into running a school.

But running a school is more than running things during this school year.

As Sue Bruyns points out, it involves planning for the future. On her radar presently are two big events –

  • Interviewing potential new staff members – I talked to her at EdCampLondon and her school population is exploding
  • Kindergarten open house – parents are dropping off their most precious thing and need to be assured that this is going to go well

The tact that Sue takes is that these aren’t simply “to-do”s for her but “to-experience”s. It’s an interesting spin and her writing puts you right in the middle of her thinking.

What Do You Do On A Perfect Day?

My first reaction to this title from Aviva Dunsiger was “Bottle it”!

In education, such beasts are few and far between – if you get to experience them at all!

In Aviva’s case, she picks up her camera and takes movies of the activities that are happening.

It’s great to see students who are motivated and self-directed. Of course, in teacher talk, this happened…

We spent a lot of time standing back and watching play. We commented to each other on what we saw, and recorded the students and the use of the space.

Let’s be truthful though. It’s April/May and the whole scenario didn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of 80% of the school year kicking in, students understanding what they do, resources being made freely available and kid-accessible and a desire to do what they’re doing.

I would suggest this is more about great teaching than dumb luck.

Happy 40th Anniversary AML!

I internally remarked that ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) is in its 40th year as well. Is this a coincidence?

Diana Maliszewski is on the board of AML this year and so got a chance to celebrate with colleagues. 40 years is such a remarkable milestone. My congratulations.

So, why is this important? Haven’t we “done” media literacy?

Think back 40 years – if you can. Think of how the world has changed.

One of the big events in 1979 was the partial nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

We didn’t have 24 hour news channels then. I can’t even remember how I heard about it. Probably it was the 6pm news or in a newspaper the next day. How would that be reported today?

  • there would be all kinds of helicopters flying over the unit giving us up close, high-definition pictures
  • we’d have varying news sources giving
    • a scientific explanation
    • on the site interviews with a resident at a vegetable farm next door
    • thoughts and prayers from politicians
    • reports that some foreign entity had bombed the place
    • replays of coverage showing the actual moment of the problem from any of the hundreds of citizen journalists with web enabled cameras
    • a comparison of the damage with other similar events from the past
  • claims that the reports are all faked
  • and lots of other things

How do we understand and interpret this? History is unfolding in front of our eyes daily. Absolutely, we need to be understanding media literacy. We need the efforts of this group more than ever.

Where am I in the #ExtendmOOC Conversation?

One of the pleasant wins from Terry Greene’s post was the lead to this new Ontario blogger.

Sarah Wendorf is part of the #ExtendOntario group and takes a moment and a blog post to see where she fits into the project. Apparently, she’s the red dot.

This post is a collection of her learning and thinking about being connected. Given the source, my first thought was “Terry packs a lot into a 25 minute presentation…”

Sorry, Terry, but that would just be wrong. But that shouldn’t hold you back from understanding her post.

She really gets it. In the post, Sarah uses the following headings

  • Meet new folks
  • Connecting with existing folks
  • Get new ideas
  • Read other people’s blogs
  • Find inspiration
  • Follow and join hashtags
  • Bounce ideas and suggestions
  • Invite new ideas in
  • Share resources
  • Find new resources
  • Learn new things
  • Join communities
  • Save things I come across
  • Create
  • Give recognition
  • Messaging
  • Events and webinars
  • Sharing photos
  • This GIF

and gives concrete examples of how this applies to her directly.

What stands out to me is that, even if you’re just a little red dot (and aren’t we all), the fact that that little red dot connects to a whole lot more dots can lead to the most powerful learning you can have – if you let it.

Math Links for Week Ending May 3rd, 2019

I like taking a drive by David Petro’s blog for my moment of Mathematics enjoyment. He does another great job this week.

My takeaways …

  • Back pocket questions
  • How I wish I’d taught maths
  • What do you think is the biggest barrier to excelling in math?
  • Math before breakfast

And I just had to steal this.

Why not spend a few moments and drive by these blogs posts and drop off a comment. There’s great inspiration to be had.

My big list of Ontario Edubloggers is available here and those that we’ve chatted about on This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd radio are available here.

Then, follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

This post comes from:

If you read it anywhere else without attribution, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome back to Winter or Spring Light or whatever you want to call it! At the very least, it’s another Friday and a time to look at some recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Ontario Students Hold Walkouts in Protest of Progressive Conservative Party’s Policy Proposals

After the student walkouts last week, I turned to see if I could find blog posts from the students who had walked out. In my search, I found this post from Indygo Arscott, a Toronto student and one of the organizers of the event.

She wrote a post for Teen Vogue that really was a two-parter.

In the first part, she outlines the various issues that are of concern to Ontario students. It’s very factual and links to original web sources.

The second part gets personal. Speaking personally, and I suspect for thousands of others, she lets us know the importance of the protest to students and their concerns of a future education. As she notes, students are the “biggest stakeholders in the future”. As such, so many of these students will be in a voting position for the next election.

I took to Twitter to see more of this new-to-me blogger. She appears to be very aware of issues surrounding social justice. She even challenged a Toronto Sun opinion writer over his comments about orchestration by the teacher federations. She laid out the facts in a calm, cool manner and unfortunately didn’t get a response.

I know people tire of the rhetoric these days in education but you owe it to yourself to read this post from student voice that we say is important. It’s time to give it more than simple lip service.

Why students walked out today – April 4th, 2019

I didn’t know what to expect when Deborah Weston tagged me in this post on the Heart and Art blog. After all, it’s hosted by ETFO.

Rather than a Deborah opinion piece, it’s a collection of student comments from Grades 3-5. She doesn’t quote the source but a spelling mistake would lead me to believe that it was a copy/paste from some source.

While we can get the secondary school insights from Indygo’s post, this will give us insights from younger students on their perspective. Their comments are telling; in particular the focus on special education is interesting.

I’m not sure that I would have been aware of that topic when I was that age.

50th Episode – I Wish I Knew EDU learning

Ramona Meharg hit a milestone in her podcasting efforts hitting the big 5-0.

In her podcast show heard on voicEd Radio.

Her 50th show was with Sarah Lalonde and takes an interesting spin on her regular format. I had the honour of being on her third show.

If you’ve ever been interested in Podcasting on your own or just wonder what goes through the mind of another podcaster, including the anxieties, I think you’ll find this post interesting.

Reset, Reboot, RemOOC

At first blush when visiting this post from Terry Greene, you might think that you’ve entered some sort of time warp and you’re back to gaming with the Commodore 64! That’s what his use of graphics did for me.

That’s the theme that Terry took as he shares the mOOC portion of the initiative from Extend Ontario.

He calls it:

a healthy lifestyle choice for your pedagogical endeavors

There are some interesting reflections and insights as to this type of learning. It hasn’t had the sticking power that I’m sure he wanted but such is the consistent feeling throughout any learning online experience. That includes mOOCs and other online courses.

There’s also the growing and learning from going through things the first time. The wise educator will learn from the experience and use this learning to make subsequent offerings more appealing.


So, what students have long suspected – that instructors stay up all night thinking of way to frustrate them – is true. Melanie Lefebvre lets the cat out of the bag, at least in a recent class of hers, where frustration indeed was her end game.

With the help of two amazing colleagues (thank you Jess and Jenny!), I facilitated a simulation I created. I designed it to simulate a mix of what it’s like to have OCD, coupled with what it’s like to navigate complex systems.

The simulation had it all and was close to real life, it seems.

Every time the students felt like they were getting close to something, she threw an obstacle at them! Wait lists, waiting rooms, change in a doctor, …

Yes, this is real life! Hopefully the message of empathy was received and a lesson learned.

Five reasons why banning cellphones is a bad idea.

I’m surprised that Jennifer Casa-Todd was able to whittle it down to five!

The recent announcement about the “banning” of smartphones in the classroom has spiked a great deal of discussion. As Jennifer notes in this post, the escape clauses in the announcement means that it may well be business as usual for many classes.

Teachers and students are coming to grips with technology and its use on a daily basis. Everyone has their moments of frustration – usually it’s “how do I get connected in the first place” – and that’s just the beginning.

Life would be so much easier without smartphones in the classroom. It would be so much easier with straight rows of desks. It would be so much easier with the student of the 1950s who didn’t challenge the status quo. It would be so much easier if we could just limit studies to what’s on the next page of the textbook.

Nobody wants that. We want future leaders who are aware of the world and all that is “out there”. We want to explore and inquire topics that weren’t in the curriculum of days gone by. We want to be on top of the latest.

As I write this post, there are big stories of the day – Julian Assange, the images of the black hole, rebellions in Sudan, Ontario budget, Brexit, a new subway in Toronto, and so much more.

How long would it take before those hit a paper textbook? We have the tools available – doesn’t it make sense to use them?

Yes, it will be a challenge. But, it’s a challenge that’s worth solving.

This is WHY I Speak Up. Why Do You?

From Aviva Dunsiger’s blog, it’s purple so you know it’s important.

Aviva’s blog is educational but she’s impacted with what’s going on. With all the recent events in Ontario, you can’t miss the political shots being fired on all parts.

These shots are challenging Aviva’s commitment to keeping her blog and her other social media platforms focussed on education.

Is this wrong?

Blogging and social media are very conscious actions. You do what you want and what you feel you need to do. Keep in mind that the reality is that there are many more voices that are not using social media to convey messages than there are that do.

Aviva’s post is a reminder that you can have a political opinion at times without having a political blog. Since it’s her blog, it’s her decision.

We respect that and we value her insights.

I hope that you can take the time to click through and read these wonderfully insightful posts. In education in Ontario, we’re so fortunate to have people that are willing to share their thoughts in this manner.

Some Twitter voices to add to your learning network.

This post originally appeared on

If you read it anywhere else, it’s been scraped and reposted.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And it’s another Friday!

It’s time on this blog to look at some great posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  It’s always special to welcome new people to this list and there are a couple of new ones this time around.

Class “Caps” are a Low Resolution Solution to a High Resolution Problem

Tim King warns us before getting started that he’s going to be a big offender and that he will hold no punches as he shares his thoughts about how to save money and potentially save Ontario education.

Some of his suggestions we’ve heard before; some look like they might be unique to his school district; and some are new observations.

Those who are the brunt of his post tend to be those who are funded in education but are out of the classroom.  Some of his comments hit close to home as I did spend some of my career working centrally.  I wasn’t a “lifer” as he describes and while my time was renewed, I had to go through the anxiety of applying for the position.  Personally, I don’t see how it does anything but save money by not having a teacher in those position.  They are the link to the classroom, builders of networks, understanders of curriculum…

There is a unique suggestion in Tim’s post and that’s one of factoring IEP students as more than 1.0 in any proposed calculation for staffing to recognize the extra challenges of having those students integrated in a classroom.  It’s an interesting concept but I can’t help but think of arguments over whether such and such a student is weighted 1.5 as opposed to 1.6.  It’s fuzzy in my crystal ball; I still like the current use of educators with special qualifications to work with these students.

I would think that, no matter who you are, you’ll find Tim talking about you or someone you know in this post so go in with a thick skin.

Unless you’re a teacher-librarian.  Tim’s no dummy.

What the Librarian Read- Part 1

I was intrigued by the title in Beth Lyons’ post.

So often, when you go into a library, or you talk to a librarian or teacher-librarian, they’ll have advice about what you should read.

In schools, they’re the go to person for that perfect match for student, teacher, or topic.

Seldom do they get personal.  But she did.

Into 2019, Beth has read 11 books.

Number one wasn’t a surprise for me …

Becoming- Michelle Obama

There were some new titles in the rest of her listing.  Some I’d heard of and some I hadn’t.  As it would happen, we had dinner last night with a librarian who had read Trevor Noah’s book as well and highly recommended it.  She whipped out her phone to find that it wasn’t at our local library branch but she put in an order for me.  I look forward to going in and getting it and digging in.

Thanks, Beth.

For Water: Learn. Adopt. Protect. Walk.

I’ve followed a number of the MAD initiatives from Peter Cameron and the latest biggy is the Junior Water Walkers.

In this post, Peter takes quite a while to go through the fabulous learning and activities that have taken place.

What I find impressive is the collection of traditional classroom, use of technology, and a summary of the visitors that have the whole package so powerful for students.

Given that there are so many schools in Ontario that are so close to the Great Lakes and certainly other water sources, this approach could be used by so many other classrooms.

At last count, Peter tells me that there are 170 schools involved.

Should schools ban cell-phones?

People are all over the map in response to this question.

On one side, we see how distracting technology can be.  It’s not just schools, go take a walk in the park or go the shopping mall and you’ll see that side of the story.

On the other side, we see technology savvy teachers who use the fact that students have these powerful internet connected devices so effectively to enhance lessons.

And, of course, there are varying levels in between.

Most of my context and understanding about this in education has been in the traditional classroom.  Then, came this post from Anne-Marie Kee.  Anne-Marie is the Head of Lakefield College School.  The school offers day students but also boarding students.

Unlike a traditional school where students go home, at Lakefield, some of the students go to their “house” on campus.  Anne-Marie shares a story about meeting students in her living room and talking about “overly strict cell-phone and wifi policies”.

A couple of things stuck out for me:

  • how wifi is turned off for student use at night
  • how cell phones are taken away from Grade nine and ten students overnight
  • how a school leader actually sits down and discusses these issues with students

There’s a great deal in this post that will get you thinking when you read about others getting engaged helping students manage their technology, particularly in this environment.

Goal Setting in the Classroom

Of course, this is something that happens in every classroom.  Right?

The question, I would suggest, would be how effectively?

Beyond a simple approach, how about something that goes a great deal deeper?  That’s the point in this post from Amy Bowker.

She describes a whole process that she uses that is obviously very personal and traditional but also uses the connected tools at the disposal of her students.

  • Goals
  • How-to videos
  • Finding a mentor
  • Practice
  • After snapshot including documentation

What really intrigues me about the approach is how she embraces technology and how, while not explicitly stated, that reflection is a significant part of it all.

Full STEAM ahead with Blue Spruce Books

From Diana Maliszewski, a sobering reality check.

From the title, I expected to read a post of all kinds of good things books and technology related.  In fact, the post starts out that way and Diana shares some titles and activities that she enjoyed with the kindergarten class at her school.

Then, all this happiness takes a turn as she brings in some speculation about what might happen in turns of staffing those kindergarten classes into the future.

Diana wonders out loud how she would be able to manage to do the same sort of things in the future under a different staffing model.  I think we all know that changes to a staffing model are seldom good news.

If you’re concerned that cuts might hurt kids and are looking at counting the ways, add this post to your collection.

Keys to a Rocket Ship

The Beast offers an interesting premise.

If someone were to hand you keys to a rocketship where would you go? How far would you go? Would you go?

My answers:

  • up
  • only far enough that I could safely get back (I’m a David Bowie fan)
  • probably, as long as the second point was answered to my satisfaction

And this commentary would be done if we were talking about the traditional rocketship.

Being an educational post, of course, it’s a metaphor for something else.  That something else could be leadership, opportunity, growth, appreciation for those who give you freedom from a leash or all of the above …

It leads into a typical interesting discussion between Andrea and Kelly.

My reading gave me a renewed appreciation for a gentleman that gave me so many opportunities and let go of the leash.

I’m already planning to take him out for a coffee when he gets back from Florida.

I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I did.  Please take the time to click through and read the entire posts.

Then, add these people to your learning network.  You’ll be glad you did.

This is a regular Friday feature here.  You can check out all posts at:

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Email tracking

There was a time when, as a system, we used an email system whose claim to fame (or at least one of them) was that you could track every email that hit your inbox.  You could see if someone read your email, forwarded it to someone else, and replied to it.   It was the complete package!


Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Now, many of us have moved on to other email systems.  In my case, I have Gmail and Outlook accounts that I use regularly plus a couple of others for specific purposes.  For me, by default, it’s email in – usually/sometimes read, usually/sometimes replied, and sometimes not even opened when I feel this desire for a massive purge.  Or, more likely, the title of the email isn’t all that interesting.  This is an art, you know.

This morning, the memories of the good old days when you could track if someone opened a message resurfaced in the form of a Google Chrome/ Mozilla Firefox extension called Ugly Email.

The concept is simple – install the extension and see what incoming emails to your Gmail account are tracking to see if you actually open them.  So, I gave it a shot to see what happens.  It installed nicely and opened a new instance of Gmail with itself ready to go.  A quick check of my Primary tab revealed nothing.  But, a look at my Promotions tab told a different story.

A partial grab of the tab shows …


See that little eye icon?  According to the extension, that message is being tracked by sender to see if you open it.  Now, that’s interesting.  My first instinct was just to be spiteful and delete it.  Is that fair though for my curious side?

I understand the desire to do this on their end; they want to look at the analytics to see if their efforts are being appreciated by me opening their message.  It’s a reminder that our connected world is driven by advertising and numbers.  After all, cookies and trackers are used on websites all over the place.  Unless we go looking for them, they just do their thing.

What about Outlook?  This is an interesting read.

From a personal perspective, I’m not terribly worried.  Any of the tracking messages came from information services that I’ve subscribed to.  I’m sure there was probably information about being tracked in the legal document that I read before I clicked agree.  (If you believe that, I have some swamp land…)

How about the paranoid in you?  Are you concerned that someone/something might be tracking your emails?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s starting to look a lot like Spring around here.  Muddy yard and foggy mornings offer a promise of what is to come.

And, since it’s Friday, it’s time to take a wander around the province to see what thoughts are being shared by Ontario Edubloggers.

Class size changes – my perspective

The announcement from the Minister of Education sure closed off the March Break on a certain tone and got teachers into thinking about what this actually means.

The first thing I read from a blogger was this post from Ian McTavish who went to the province’s Open Data initiative to pull secondary school enrolment figures, by district, and then did his own analysis on how many fewer teachers would be in secondary school classrooms by the time things are fully implemented.

He “shows his work” in the form of a Google Spreadsheet that is viewable by all via the link in his post.  His answer – well, you’ll have to click through and check his work.  That’s a lot of teaching positions.

As Ian notes, this should cause everyone from teacher to administrator to think about how this will be reached in any individual school.  The worst possible fallout from this is pitting teacher against teacher and pointing figures at which program a person thinks is dispensable.

I hope that it doesn’t come to that.

Since the announcement, the Ministry and other educational leaders have appeared on radio around the province answering questions about her message.  It’s good listening to help you get an understanding of some of the issues in these early days.

Why he comes to class

From Amanda Potts, a post that will tear at your teacher heart strings.

Kids aren’t numbers, although it’s easy to crunch numbers if you consider that they’re all the same and you can treat them that way.  If you read and understand Amanda’s post, you’ll realize that nothing could be further from the truth.

This is great reading for current teachers:

  • consider your own classroom – why are students showing up?
  • do you have a student(s) who is/aren’t showing up?  If so, what changes can you make to make it more appealing to attend?
  • do you have a student in your class that is very much like the one that Amanda describes?  Do you have any additional ideas – I’m sure that Amanda would appreciate reading them via comment.

It’s also great reading for current teacher candidates:

  • as you do practice teaching stints, what techniques does your associate use to make the classroom friendly to his/her students?
  • is the class just “being there” enough to bring everyone in?
  • if you end up with a student who is not showing up in your classroom, what strategies are you willing to try to change this behaviour?

Cell Phone Ban in Classrooms

One of the announcements from the Minister was the province-wide direction for the banning of cell phones in the classroom.

Except under certain circumstances!

When you look at those circumstances, it’s like the Ministry of Education had focussed on the ways that Matthew Morris uses them in his classroom.  The word “rules” appears six times in Matthew’s post but largely apply to school rules.

In his classroom, it’s more about his expected behaviour when using the technology and not a dictatorial approach.  Isn’t that what we would like to see in our graduates as they become the “digital citizens” that we hope and plan for?

The one thing that Matthew has an expectation for that wasn’t in the announcement was the listening to music.  I really empathize with this.  When I’m working (as I am right now), I always have music on in the background.  My preferences may be different from yours – I’m listening to Bob Seger at the moment – but that’s not the point.  The point is respecting individual’s right to choose and let music work its magic.

I have to smile when I think back – I always allowed music to be played in the computer room while students worked if they chose to listen to it.  Inevitably, there was a disagreement about what channel to use.  We’ve come so far now with personal devices that people can have their own preferences and, as long as it helps them and doesn’t bother their neighbour, it’s a great concept.

Beyond Behaviour Charts

I continue to learn from my elementary school colleague, Lisa Cranston.  I can honestly say that, in all my years of teaching, I’ve never used clothes pins in my classroom.

In her post, she starts with a use of them in a concept called a behaviour chart.  I’ll bet that it’s seen as a terrific tool in some camps.

Now, that’s not to say that awareness of behaviour and its impact on others isn’t important.  There’s definitely a tie-in to self-regulation here but I’ve worked with teenagers and adults enough to know that an attempt to publically humiliate anyone won’t give the desired results – or anything near that.  If it doesn’t work for them, how can you assume that it would work for anyone?

Lisa provides a well thought through list of alternatives that will do the job much better and in a more human manner.

I just have to say that my fur was ruffled a bit with the original post with the reference to teacher “training”.  I’ll say it again – you train dogs, you provide professional learning opportunities for teachers.

Take 10 Minutes

This post, from Colleen Rose, is one of those that you have to be careful about and heed the advice and not make assumptions on the other end.

It’s a bold post, my appreciate to Colleen, and a reminder to all that Mental Health awareness cannot be limited to one day of the year and then we’re back on track.  People struggle daily and sometimes need a little help.

All school districts and many employers have the services of an EAP and awareness of the services that it provides should be high on everyone’s list.

I thought that this question, embedded in a series of questions from her, at the end of post was important.

Are there people you feel more comfortable talking to? 

I would suggest that, if you answer no, that you need to start looking harder.  There may come a time that you do need that person.

In the meantime, as Colleen notes, it’s important to take some time to go for a walk and get some fresh air.  The picture she includes shows her pups taking her for a walk and the roadway shows promise that spring is on the way.

Descriptive Feedback: The Engine that Powers Learning

New to this area of the blogosphere for me is the team of Hélène Coulombe and Joanie Causarano and their blog devoted to assessment.

The topic in this post is about descriptive feedback.

The content here is provided in detail and shows that they’ve done their research into feedback in its various forms and for various purposes.  It’s a nice refresher and also a reminder that it’s possible to have good intentions and then things slide.  There may well be a few tips in there for even the more experienced educator.

In their call to action, there’s a thoughtful question…

  • What kind of feedback are they primarily receiving – descriptive or evaluation?

Your thought for the day!

Helping our Girls Reframe Anxiety – it’s not all bad!

If anyone questions the value of teachers, send them this sentence from Laura Elliott.

To this end, I have found myself immersed in ways to assist students in finding joy in their daily lives while simultaneously maintaining balance in competitive academic settings and social media landscapes that demand perfection.

Multiply that by the number of students in your charge.

The inspiration for this post came from a book Laura ordered and read from Lisa Damour.  The descriptions there could apply to any classroom in the world.  It’s tough being a student and a teenager.

But that’s nothing new.  We all had challenges weighing on us all the time.  That really hasn’t changed all that much but what has changed is the world around today’s student.  There are higher expectations, more peer pressure, the joys and challenges of social media, and the anxiety and stress that goes along with it.  If you pause for a moment, you could come up with a long list.

The book offered Laura some ideas, not only for girls in her charge, but for herself.

It sounds like a great read.  You might want to check your district’s professional library and see about borrowing a copy.

Coming back from a March Break is always a challenge but the end is in sight.  Thanks to all of these great bloggers for taking the time to share their thoughts.

For more, follow them on Twitter.

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