This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, it’s another Friday. Actually, it’s Thursday morning as I write this post but that’s the way things roll around here.


Writing a SPOOKY Story!

I’ve written about Cameron Steltman’s writing activity for his students many times before. I think it’s truly unique, inspirational for both students and parents, and easily borrowed by others who want students to write for a purpose and write for an audience.

It’s straight forward.

He starts a new blog post with a theme and instructions for his students. Their job is to read and understand his post and then do some writing of their own in the replies. There’s so much right with this activity.

This time, he uses this image to inspire.

The student job? They look at the image and write a spooky story telling Mr. Steltman, their classmates, their parents, me, you, and anyone else who drops by how they interpret the image and turn it into their own spooky story!


Negative TikTok Challenges and Student Digital Leadership

The typical approach to dealing with bad things in education comes from a long time ago from the Baretta theme song .

“Don’t do the time if you can’t do the crime.”

Or maybe something more contemporary.

We know how well that works out. Jennifer Casa-Todd has a different take on things. In a school where there is one principal and one vice-principal for 1000 or more students, those enforcing the rules are really outnumbered.

Consistent with Jennifer’s message in SocialLEADia, she sees another way. Put the power of students to work to address this. I feel that it honours their leadership and an innate desire to do the right thing.

The prompt for this was the Negative TikTok Challenge and Jennifer includes them in her post.

  • September: Vandalize school bathrooms
  • October: Smack a staff member
  • November: Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school
  • December: Deck the halls and show your balls
  • January: Jab a breast
  • February: Mess up school signs
  • March: Make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria
  • April: “Grab some eggz” (another stealing challenge or inappropriate touching)
  • May: Ditch day
  • June: Flip off in the front office
  • July: Spray a neighbor’s fence

Her approach is an interesting turn on things and I think she may be on to something. Your school needs to have this book in their library. There’s so much wisdom here and it’s all based on the premise that people want to do good things and things for good.

Disclaimer: I did help Jennifer with advice and proofreading of this book.


Leadership and the matter of judgement:An open letter to Prime Minster Trudeau

I enjoy reading Charles Pascal’s writing and insights. Given his past career choices, he’s gone places and seen things that the rest of us in education only get to hear about third or fourth or more hand.

Many of us “could” write to our leaders and get a form letter back (or nothing in the case of around here) but taking your message public could be powerful in that we’re seeing his insights if we care to read them. And I did.

In this case, it’s an letter to our Prime Minister about his choice to go on vacation during the first Truth and Reconciliation holiday. Charles uses the analogy to baseball as commitng an unforced error. There were a lot of things that could have been done on that day. I would think that he would have been welcomed to many communities across the country to address them and the nation.

As we know, we’re just off an election that was controversial in itself. There’s some great advice in Charles’ post

Prime Minister, it is not too late to close the gap between your many worthy and important publicly stated aspirations and meaningful actions. 

Will he follow Charles’ advice?


It’s That Time of Year…

One of the powerful voices helping people understand how media works, its power and influence, and how we should interpret that media is Media Smarts. This year, Media Literacy Week is October 25 to October 30.

Anthony Perrottta is a regular speaker during this event and this year is no exception. He’s doing to give a talk about Digital Portfolios and The Power of Story.

His presentation is on Wednesday at 4:30 and you can sign up from the link in the post.

One of the advantages of COVID for professional learning is that we don’t have to go anywhere except to our computers to take in quality professional learning so do it.

The post also includes links to Anthony’s past presentations.


Talking Like a Teacher

I don’t often disagree with Diana Maliszewski and I’m not sure whether or not I do this time around.

She was asked to co-present a lecture on “Finding Trusted Sources and Evaluating Information” but was advised to not “talk like a teacher”.

In the post, she takes the time to address both the pros and cons of “talking like a teacher”. Maybe I’m narrow minded but I don’t see both sides. I replied to the post on her blog with:

Thank you for my morning smile, Diana. It’s a phrase around here when I correct my wife and kids over language errors “Daaaaad, you’re such a teacher”. I wear it like a badge of honour.

I don’t think you should ever apologize for being a teacher. You’ve devoted your life to your craft and I’m guessing you were asked to speak based upon your skills and reputation. It’s a great compliment. Consider the thousands of people that could have been asked, it ended up being the two of you. I can’t believe that it was a random choice.

My wife is a nurse and when I have a boo-boo, I go to her for her skills; I don’t rely on what I’ve seen on television.

Nobody can have it all but you can certainly relish in the parts that you do have and you will always be a teacher. That’s to be celebrated.

It’s a few days later since I first read Diana’s post, I talked about it on the voicEd Radio show and now I’m writing and I remain every bit convinced of my position.

Either way, knowing Diana, the presentation would have been fun and full of great information, I’m sure.


NETWORKING AT THE TESL ONTARIO ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Probably something like this has never been so important as it is during these days. Networking has always been an important part of conference going and was an important concept for Cyndie Jacobs and I when we co-chaired the Bring IT, Together conference in 2013 and 2014.

Dave Fraser starts off this post with the familiar approach.

When we think of “networking” at a conference, we tend to think of coffee breaks and catching up with colleagues in hotel lobbies and banquet centre hallways.

Been there, done that, and it’s a great chance to catch up with old friends from all over the place. But, that’s only part of the potential. Cyndie and I realized that there was a lot of “other” times with potential for participating in other things. In this post, Dave outlines a bunch of other opportunities that they’ve planned for other than the sessions. I think that’s incredibly important as well as the sessions and it sends the message that the conference is more than a money grab from registrations – that the organization places value in making connections to take away from the event.

It’s tough to pull off when everyone’s online but they seem to have thought through this to give attendees the chance to meet up with others with similar interests. Round table discussions would be interesting.

The platform that they’re using is a new one for me to look at and explore.


Math Links for Week Ending Oct 15th, 2021

The mathematics person is me always looks forward to posts from David Petro. I find it just plain interesting to work my way through them, smiling at his interpretation before I right click and open in a new tab so that I can return and continue my trek through his post.

This past week, regular readers of this blog will know that I was so excited with one of his curated items that I used it as inspiration for a complete blog post here.

He runs the gamut of classes and grades so not all of the links will be immediately useful for everyone except those that like to play with mathematics just for the sake of playing with mathematics and who doesn’t? There’s nothing wrong with a little side learning and this blog covers that nicely.


Please take the time to follow these great Ontario educational bloggers.

  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Charles Pascal – @cepascal
  • Anthony Perrotta – @aperrottatweets
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Dave Frazer – @teslontario
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This week’s show on voicEd Radio.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Wednesday was another live voicEd Radio show for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. It was great to talk about the blog posts from others before I get to blog about them here!


Mentoring Moments: Importance of Our Names

Writing on the Heart and Art Blog, Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge takes us on a discussion about names. I’ve mentioned before; a wise person once told me that it’s the most important thing that we own. Teachers need to respect that and call students by their correct name, or if it’s going to be different, it’s because of student choice.

Nilmini has an interesting spin on the concept where she suggests that the student “Names Stories” should be identified and celebrated in class. Especially these days, it’s so important.

In my case, I’ve always gone by “Doug” or a nickname of “Andy” after my father. It’s only when someone calls me by my official name that my head snaps a bit. A standard joke around here is that only a police officer or a doctor calls me “Douglas”.

To help the cause, Nilmini provides a list of books that can be used with students. There’s something powerful about reading about it. Just the fact that it’s in a book adds an air of credibility to the process.


The Mirror’s Reflection

If you do nothing more that just click through on this link, you’ll end up on the new Matthew Morris website which features his blog. It’s been a work in progress for a while now.

It’s looking good.

As Matthew continues to write, I’m finding that he’s revealing more and more about himself and I’m finding myself immersed where he’s been in situations that I I’ve never been. In this case, it was being one of a group of 4 in a class of 60.

There’s a great deal of wisdom in this post for all although Matthew is definitely very open and public about his approach to learning and being honest with himself.

I mean being authentic in your relationships with the children you are charged with teaching but I also mean rigorously reflecting on your shortcomings or blindspots as a person, and by extension, an educator.

We all have shortcoming and blindspots. Sometimes they keep us from reaching where we want to go and other times it shuts out things that we’d rather not see and/or deal with.

This post has really got me thinking about so much. I suspect there will be more to come in subsequent posts.


Contexte déficitaire: changeons de paradigme

Reading Joel McLean’s posts always slow me down as my Grade 10 French kicks in. Ultimately, I do rely on a translation program to make sure that I’m close to his meaning.

In this case, I really was and he takes on the statement that I know that we’ve all used.

j’ai fait de mon mieux / I did the best that I could

How many times have you used that expression? For me, it was probably more often that I care to admit.

As Joel notes, it can be used as an excuse for not getting the best results. After all, you did the best that you could, right? The fault lies with someone else. Somehow, it allows us to accept failure or at least not reaching the ultimate goal.

In the post, Joel suggests a different way to respond and look at things with an eye towards a solution that helps you get better.

It’s a lesson that everyone should take to heart.


Where’s the joy?

From Amanda Potts, a post that exhibits her own humility and vulnerability.

Just where is the “joy” in education?

Her context is a new course that she’s teaching “Understanding Contemporary First Nation, Metis and Inuit Voices”. a Grade 11 English course.

Now, anyone who has ever taught Grade 11 knows that it’s one of the more challenging years in a student’s and, by inheritance, a teacher’s timetable.

She’s taken a ton of professional learning opportunities and yet still feels like she needs to do more to actually do the course justice. From her description, I feel her message and yet I’m wondering how many other teachers are teaching the same course without the background that she’s acquired.

I love the statement that she shares that she won’t allow herself to get this wrong. I can’t help but think that this will be a very long year for her and I do hope that she can find some joy in her efforts.

It’s not just her post that’s important here; it’s garnered all kinds of comments from visitors to her blog so she can start with the comfort that there is a network of people behind her.


Halloween Costumes for English Teachers

My immediate reaction to this post from Kristy was this was more for elementary school teachers until I paused and remember that we did dress up a bit as well. The only restriction in my class at Hallowe’en and Christmas was that you couldn’t dress up with tinsel as that would do a number on computers.

I was lucky, I guess, in that my school colours were orange and royal blue. Often, Hallowe’en would land on a football game day or before/after and we could wear a jersey along with some other things.

In the post, Kristy gives us a list of 21 suggestions. Three of them seemed doable for this computer geek…

  • Go as an E-reader (14)
  • Go as a Banned Book (20)
  • Go as a Copycat (21)

Interestingly, on the news tonight it was reported that school boards are encourage people not to dress up for Hallowe’en.


Friday Two Cents: Comic Strips: Shepherd

The latest comic strip from Paul Gauchi brought a smile to my face. In fact, it might bring a smile to many who are struggling with going back to the face to face classroom and are considering alternatives.

With the return to in class learning, many educators have to reteach basic social skills, such as walking in a straight line or using “please” and “thank you”.   

So, is there an alternative to this noble profession?

Check out Paul’s comic to see a spin on it.


Student Perceptions of Gamification: A Comparison of Research Studies

Gamification is a word that I haven’t heard used in education for quite some time now.

It’s more common to hear words like “sanitizer”, “social distancing”, “masks”, … as a result of the return to schools while dealing with COVID.

So, it was with interest and a fresh outlook that I read this post from Mike Washburn.

It was interesting to see this topic addressed after such a long bit of absence. I suspect that there are still those that don’t understand the difference between gaming and gamification.

Gamification for gamification’s sake is as Ian Bogost has so eloquently said, bullshit (Bogost, 2015)

As classrooms return to near normal, I have a feeling that the usual suspects will be back at it as they understand the power when done properly. For others, it might be starting at the ground floor. The one thing that has change as a result of all the learning at home is that students are far more familiar with computers than ever before.


I hope that you can click through and enjoy all these posts.

Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Kristy – @2peasandadog
  • Paul Gauchie – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn

The voicEd Radio show is available here:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday, a long weekend, and an opportunity for me to share some thoughts about some great reading I did this past week from Ontario Edubloggers.


Slice of Life: What’s That Smell?

How’s that for a blog title inspiring a musical memory? The title connects to Elizabeth Lyons’ post and that’s pretty much sums it up.

She blogs about a smell that her husband’s super sensitive nose and a smell in the house. After I read the post, I told Jaimie about the first accused and his response was:

Always blame the dog

After reading the post, I can report that the dog was finally left off the hook and they did find the source of the smell. You’ll have to click through to find out where in Elizabeth’s little Slice of Life.


Ripping #SOL

Here’s another Slice of Life post, this time from Melanie White.

It’s a fun post that talks about friends, colleagues, support, and emoji. Oh, and buying books

because the students need some joy

There’s a great deal of joy indeed in reading this post and I can’t help but reflect on the value of friendships that flows from Melanie’s writing. There is, of course, the friendship that she and her two friends have together but then also the online friends that checked in with comments.

Off on a tangent, she uses the word emojis to note the plural of emoji. Now, I’m not an English teacher but it just kind of made my eyes water so I did some research and it appears that both are acceptable. I guess it’s another reason why people find English so difficult to learn.

But, my research did lead me to this wonderful resource – https://emojipedia.org/


School Communication Plan

If you have plans to become a principal or you are a principal and you have questions about the effectiveness of your own communication plan, you would be well advised to check out Jessica Outram’s latest post.

With a grin on my face, the only thing that I found missing was it being published as a poem!

She had my interest when I took a first look at her post and she saw that her Staff Handbook was digital. How many of you still get a physical binder with resources in September and it’s supposed to last you for the entire school year?

There are two big ideas in the post:

  • Big Idea #1: If we communicate effectively with parents we will share the school’s story, better serve students, and build better partnerships and sense of belonging and pride.
  • Big Idea #2: If we communicate effectively with each other we will strengthen our team, collaborate more, and ensure consistency.

The big ideas are nicely fleshed out as she addresses Whole School Communication, Principal to Staff Communication, and Staff to Parent Communication Plan.

I’d be willing to bet that she’d be open to constructive criticism with her plans to help it grow and become even better.


Starting Thinking Classroom Socially Distanced

There’s a strong message here that Amy Bowker is happy to be back in her classroom, despite the physical limitations. When she describes what normally happens in her classroom, it’s easy to see that it didn’t translate easily to working online.

For those who are thinking that back to school in COVID days involves sitting at a socially distance desk space, you’ll have your mind changed after reading Amy’s post.

I couldn’t believe the amount of engagement during this series of problems. The students were so into solving the problems that they were running back and forth from the projector to their whiteboards.

It was nice to see her give a nod to the artistic abilities of Laura Wheeler for her drawings in the Thinking Classrooms book.

I was impressed with the amount of whiteboard space she illustrates and mentioned it in the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. She shares the “high tech” solution is a Twitter message.


The 500 – #350 – Roger The Engineer – Yardbirds

I’m following with great interest Marc Hodgkinson’s analysis of the top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

I’ll admit that this one took my by surprise. Of course, I know of the Yardbirds – who doesn’t? I’d never heard of this album though or any of the songs on it.

Off on a tangent, I got curious as to when Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds and went down yet another rabbit whole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Yardbirds_members This gives a complete listing of all of the members who ever where in the Yardbirds and notably identifies the big gap in their history.

This folks, is why I read blogs, to learn things.

And, I was wrong; I had heard one of the songs before – as Marc points out it was the song in the Chevrolet Cobalt commercial. I owned one of them and it was a great car.

Thanks, Marc for the lesson.


#ThinkingClassroom Question Prompts Graphic

Weren’t we just talking about Laura Wheeler? Why yes, we were in Amy Bowker’s post above.

Laura answered this prompt

In August Kristen Huang mentioned on Twitter that it would be useful to have a phone-friendly graphic of the 10 Things to Say in Response to a Proximity or Stop-Thinking Question from Peter Liljedahl‘s Building Thinking Classrooms book.

with a graphic!

Here’s a bit of it

You’ll have to go to Laura’s blog post to see the entire graphic and she makes the original graphic freely available to download.

She suggests using it as a screen lock image for your phone. What a great concept and a nice solution.

It may well open your mind to other ways that you could use that lock screen in your classroom.


Slice of Life: Candles

It wouldn’t be fair to have a couple of Slice of Life posts without bringing Lisa Corbett into the picture.

For her, it was all about burning candles while she’s at home with sick kids and “disinfecting and sanitizing” her whole house. What a job!

She shares a good story about a candle that she wasn’t particularly fond of and obviously the feeling was mutual after it blew up on her!

It’s now out of her life along with the horse that it rode in on!

“Be gone!”


Please take the time to click through and enjoy these wonderful blog posts.

Then, make sure that you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261

I’m always on the lookout for great new blogs written by Ontario Educators. Please reach out if you know of one that I don’t.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


After a week away from the blogging keyboard, it was nice to get back and see what was new from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers. And, it was great to get back to voicEd Radio and discuss five of the posts with Stephen Hurley on Wednesday morning. Most people would be working with students at the time and so the show is stored as a podcast on the site.


3 things

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Will Gourley gives us a look at hybrid teaching from his perspective working in that environment. He shares with us three things about hybrid teaching.

  • Hybrid teaching sucks
  • Your students have something to tell you
  • Did I mention that hybrid still sucks?

I think you can get his perspective just by reading the first and third point. It would be easy, I suspect, for anyone to easily draw those conclusions. What lends to the credibility though is that he’s writing in the first person. He shares his setup and concerns about how to ensure that all students succeed. He also gets us into the gear that he has to wear and use in order to make it all happen. I think you’ll find yourself immersed in his world.

Just picture him…

“week with a mic on my head, a mask over my face, and webcam on”

It’s the middle point that I think speaks volumes for educators and shows us the type of educator that Will is. In a blog post that could easily just be Will ranting about how hybrid teaching sucks, he does take the time to ensure that we know that he’s not alone. The kids have a voice too and it’s important that it’s heard.

It’s easy to find stories about the challenges that teachers are facing. The voices of students and parents are always difficult to find and that’s a shame. Is it good for them or do they just not have a platform to make their thoughts heard?

While looking for thoughts, it would be good also to hear from administrators and members of the board of trustees who approved this mode of teaching.


Hybrid Learning Lessons

I had originally selected the post “Reflection: Keep it! Tweak it! Ditch it!” from Jennifer Casa-Todd’s blog to feature this week. When I returned to revisit it, I found this one instead and went with it. I thought it tagged nicely onto Will’s post. Will writes from the elementary classroom and Jennifer from secondary.

Will uses the term “exhausted” and Jennifer uses “November-level exhausted”. They’re both throwing all they’ve got into their teaching.

Jennifer gives us a summary of the technology that she uses in her teaching – “Screencastify, Choice Boards, Hyperdocs, Flipgrid, Station Rotation”.

Last week, she was a panelist on The Mentoree and shared a couple of really important points that I think all could ponder about and perhaps redirect their energies.

  • Fewer is better in terms of tech tools – this is always good advice but even more important these days, especially when you factor in the hybrid model. It’s easy to confuse more tools with more learning but for most classes that’s not the case. Finding a good multi-purpose tool and getting the most from it will get the most from technology. On the voicEd show, Stephen and I professed our love for Hyperstudio but alas …
  • Find a Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter – of course, I flipped over this concept. Connecting with other educators is always a way to push yourself and learn new approaches. It’s also a place to go to recognize that you’re not the only one in the world facing challenges

Salvaging Old Lessons for New Students

Speaking of Hyperstudio – what the heck, let’s throw in Clarisworks as well…

Diana Maliszewski shares a story of collaboration with a new, young teacher looking to up her game. What to do? What to do?

I think most educators are like this. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing the perfect or pretty good lesson and are hesitant to throw it away. So, we just keep collecting them.

Diana turns back the resources dial a few years and remembers some great lessons from the past – the unfortunate part was that they were done in Hyperstudio and Clarisworks. Stop for a second and thing about how you’d even open documents created in those formats these days. To support Diana’s desire to get at them, she and her husband went on a search to find tools. And they did apparently find a solution.

I did smile a bit when she complained about the block graphics from days gone by especially since Diana is a big Minecrafter … but she does give us a look at the past and the freshly updated future resource.

The lesson that she resurrects is about phishing – now there’s a topic that will probably always be timely and can be just as important. Way to go, Diana.


The Important Question

Haven’t we all been in settings where we’re talking about or listening to others and the topic is “schools of the future”. It’s a popular topic and a reminder that there are always new things on the horizon for us to embrace.

Typically, we smile and nod and call ourselves and our profession as “life long learning”.

Anne-Marie Kees turns the tables with this question instead.

I also love this question:  What’s not going to change?

My first thought was bureaucracy since it’s such an easy topic to take shots at in education.

She had a more important focus though and that was relationships. I really enjoyed the way that she analysed this. There is a great deal to think about in her analysis.

It’s especially important since the whole notion of relationships has changed for all of us, including students, over the past while. How can we get back to being humans with our need to connect? How do we make sure that nobody gets left behind?

Here’s a reminder.


No WIFI…. No Worries

In Thames Valley, they recently had a professional development day. Sue Bruyns shares with us how the message to be delivered worked its way into each school for the event.

There was one thing that didn’t work its way though – WIFI!

Haven’t we all been there? You’re in the audience at a conference, or even worse, you’re getting ready to present and something goes wrong. Data projector blows up, electricity goes out, fire alarm goes off, or gasp, the internet gives up on you.

Such was the start fo the day for Sue Bruyns.

I’ve been in sessions where the presenter just gives up and tells us to do something else instead because their show can’t go on. They had no Plan B.

It sounds like the district didn’t have a Plan B either but Sue and her team looked around the building and created one on the fly! It’s a great story of recovery. Check out her complete post to find out what it was.


My List of Wishes

I just had to include this post from Aviva Dunsiger. After all, I guess I inspired her to write it.

Last Saturday, I went on an uncharacteristic rant about things that I hate in my world mostly attributed to the effects of COVID.

Aviva decided to take the concept and run with it.

These wishes might largely remain as wishes, and yet, somehow it feels cathartic to write them down and put them out in the world. What wishes might you add to this list? I wonder if framing them as wishes helps me believe in future possibilities. What about you?

It’s quite a long list and I suspect that many educators will empathise with Aviva and her perspective.

It might even ultimately turn into a “to-do” list when the conditions that she’s working on are lifted and things return to normal or to what the new normal will be.

The post is delightfully documented with pictures from her teaching world.

It did bring up another issue for me; I hate how Instagram resizes/crops images that you send it.


Loom Beading, Métis Finger Weaving, and LYNXcoding.club

Hot off the presses from Peter Skillen’s Construction Zone blog is this post in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconcillation Day on September 30.

It’s a wonderful amalgam of mathematics, coding, problem solving, beading, weaving, and once again shows that you can integrate so many things when you see the big picture.

I’m not sure that I can do Peter’s post justice in my typical summary of a post so I will really encourage you to click through and enjoy the entire post.

It’s well documented with images and respect for culture and there’s so much there for everyone whether you decide to code a solution or not (but you really should – it works in your browser)

The question shouldn’t be “when will we ever need this stuff?”; it should be “patterning and construction predate us; we’re just catching up, learning from people who have been doing this for years”.

Well done, Peter. This truly is an activity with lots of legs to it.


Please click through and enjoy all of these excellent blog post from Ontario Edubloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


On Wednesday night, we celebrated four years of the TWIOE podcast with a live show in the evening. It felt like a big deal – doing it in prime time! It was a late decision but three of the Ontario Edubloggers were free and available to join us to talk about their work and that of the others. Thanks, Jen Aston, Sue Bruyns, and Cal Armstrong. I’ve learned to give everyone more notice if we ever decide to do something like this again. All of them had great blog posts and that made it all worthwhile.


IS “TEACHING LOSS” A MYTH, TOO?

For me, this post from Pav Wander was a real thought inspiration. I read it three or four times before I think I understood her message. Then, I was ready to talk about it and write this on passage number five. I’m still not totally convinced that I’ve fully understood her message and thoughts as she covers so much here. This really goes to the essence of being a teacher.

We all start out in this profession as newbies and get better year after year. Those who take parental leave have a break in that growth that requires some catching up. Like the topic of “learning loss”, Pav identifies it as “teaching loss”. I’m wondering if another way of defining it might be “teaching slide”.

In the post, she identifies six areas of personal concern to her.

  • Making Connections with Teachers and Students
  • Leadership opportunities 
  • Professional development 
  • Testing New pedagogies 
  • Teaching evolving content 
  • Extracurricular Activities

All of the topics are fleshed out in her perspective. I can’t do her thoughts justice here – you need to read her entire post. I found the discussion of Professional Development (PD) particularly interesting since it was part of what I did for so many years. I find it ironic that she felt a personal loss there since her podcast with Chey Cheney is all about professional learning. It seems to me that the two of them have morphed from the consumer of PD to the facilitator of PD and have done so nicely. And, if you’ve every provided PD opportunities, you know that you need to do 10 hours of prep or more for every hour of delivery.

She does raise an interesting thought – school and board budgets will have balances of unspent PD monies. I can’t help but think that the first organization that is out of the blocks with face to face events will be the big beneficiaries of access to this fund.

This topic isn’t just a blog post – it’s also a podcast available here.


Red Licorice for Breakfast

As I said in the show, Jen Aston had my attention at her reference to teaching puberty online last year. I honestly had never considered this but the show has to go on. Students mature whether they’re learning at school or at home. And, expectations have to be addressed.

That was just the tip of this fantastically funny blog post. It’s her story of teaching at home with her kids who are learning and growing and going to the bathroom “Wipe my bum” while she’s doing her teaching thing. I appreciate that she took into consideration the sensitivities of a five year old who didn’t need to sit in on the details of that lesson on puberty.

I had images running through my mind as I pictured Jen’s experience – leaving the teaching chair for a minute and having one of her own kids take over her class.

During the show, she was hilariously relating these stories between outbursts of her own laughter and I’ll admit it was infectious. I had to turn off my own mic at times as I laughed along with her.

She’s looking for other stories of things going wrong differently during teaching at home. Do you have any to offer?


Back to the Beginning

I was envious of Sue Bruyns who ended her first day of classes by going to Althouse College to teach teacher candidates. I went there for Additional Qualifications courses with Professor John Walsh years ago. I remember a delightful older facilities that I’m told is really modernizing itself these days. At the time, we were also explicitly told that it was the Faculty of Education and not Althouse College.

But, 25 minutes before that class started, it ended a hectic first day of school for her at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. It’s a fantastic, new facility that any visitor just knew would be outgrown. I’ve been there twice as part of EdCamp London and you can just see the new home construction going on in the neighbourhood.

As was everywhere else in the province, it was a big and strategic opening with classes organized outside the school rather than the traditional reporting to home rooms. In her blog post, she gave the student population at 900 and corrected it to 1000 during the show. Like so many schools, it’s time for a panic call to 1-800-CALL-A-PORTAPACK.

Of course, all those students need a teacher and teachers need to park cars and you can guess the mess that creates. One of the things about Sue though is that she always seems to have things under control – you can hear it in the show – but I had to smile when she indicated that this principal also directs traffic.


How do we see students?

Jonathan So uses the word problemizing in this post and so I had to do a lookup to make sure I had it right.

Problematization of a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges that invite the people involved to transform those situations.

It was in reference to how you react when kids just don’t get it. I suspect that many of us put the blame on the students because, after all, we taught it. They have a responsibility to learn it, right?

Jonathan digs into this in a reflection of practice that’s a good idea for all educators. Maybe it isn’t the student after all; maybe it’s your practice. And, is it amplified during times of COVID when the number of tools available to you are a subset of what you would normally have?

I also think that part of it is the type of person that becomes a teacher. We were successful in school and, when we had challenges, we knew that we had to work harder and ask questions and do some extra to get it done. That is a unique mindset and we know that not everyone has it.

There’s a great deal to think about with respect to how you teach and look at those kids in front of you.


I shall find a way…

This was a great post from Cal Armstrong that reminded me of some of the best learning that I’ve experienced reading blogs. Someone has a problem, finds, and writes to describes a solution. It’s a generous mindset; it you’ve solve a problem, why not share your problem solving for those who might have the same problem or for some people who don’t quite know that they have this problem.

The problem then?

Cal’s school has required all teachers to use a new LMS. Many people, I suspect, would say OK, I’ve got to do some learning.

Not Cal.

In this case, he’s spent years becoming an expert in the OneNote world and isn’t prepared to abandon it. He know that he’s expected to have his work in the new LMS and so goes to work to create a world where he can continue to use his skills with OneNote and just pipe it over to the LMS.

I’ve never had to work in this environment but I found that Cal’s descriptor was crisp and clear and I could see it working.

The comment to his post is testament that if you provide a tutorial good enough to work, there just may be value to others. In this case, an educator from Houston read the post and found it appropriate and let Cal know so.


Picking Out The Highlights of The Scenery

When I saw the title to Terry Greene’s recent post, I wondered – what the heck is he talking about now? Autumn wise, his neck of the woods is a couple of weeks ahead of us here so maybe …

or maybe a reference to Gord Downie …

Terry’s latest work is titled: Ontario Extend: Liberated Learners Edition

I’m intrigued because his earlier work gave us a collection of post-secondary bloggers and reflectionists that got us into their minds.

At this point, he shares some stories that resulted from “Wicked Problems”.

  • Anti-Social Sociology Major
  • Crayola markers got me through the first year of University
  • Captain Depresso
  • Teaching Incon-(ass)istant
  • Extra-Curricular Extremist
  • Fake It Till You Make It
  • The Social Caterpillar
  • zzZZzzzzZoom University
  • Fishing for 60’s

How to access these and how to access a series of community webinars can be found in the post.


NEW GOOGLE SMART CHIPS TO LEVEL UP YOUR HYPERDOCS

The EduGals are back with an interesting post. They had me at HyperDocs because it’s a strategy that I firmly believe it. It’s also a strategy that has been abused and ended up being simply an electronic worksheet. I know the works of the EduGals, Rachel and Katie, wouldn’t be that shallow.

It’s a rather long post but I think worth taking the time to read and understand. They talk about the concept of the Smart Chip and its functionality before turning to HyperDocs. I got interested in the concept years ago through WebQuests.

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium at The Thacher School in Ojai, California.

I think that the notion is more important than ever. Anyone can create a worksheet that has answers easily found by Google but when you ask them to take those answers and create something new, it gets really powerful.

I’ve been working my way through the EduGals’ post and appreciate their push to make me do some new learning.


Oh, yes, it’s another collection of inspiration for you to do some professional learning as a result. To continue the discussion, follow these folks on Twitter.


  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Jonathan So – @mrsoclassroom
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Terry Green – @greeneterry
  • Edugals – @Edugals

This week’s show on voicEd Radio: