This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This has been another strange week but I guess it’s just another day in the life in 2020. The highlight, as always, is being able to share some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Welcome a new voice to our blogging group – Gonul Turkdogan. She shares this post with us on the TESLOntario Blog.

I know that we hear a lot of advice about balance in these extraordinary and unique times. Actually, in education, we’ve always heard about it. Usually, it comes from someone who has things in check and therefore thinks everyone else should as well. That part is interesting and we certainly do need to hear it now, maybe more than ever.

It was the “thriving” part that really got me interested in this 11 point blog post. While all are good points, there were three that really stood out for me.

6. Currently, I am a volunteer with TESL Ontario as an Exchange Video Moderator.

For one thing, I didn’t realize that there was a moderator for things like this although it makes sense when you think about it. It’s a volunteer position and Gonul is thriving by giving back to her community in this manner.

8. I have also found it extremely satisfying to do presentations, webinars, and posters

I get this completely. There was a time when I would be a passive audience member and I got some things from sitting in a presentation. But, my world changed and my understanding grew exponentially when I started doing presentations myself. You never understand anything as deeply as you do when you teach someone else.

10. But don’t forget getting some physical exercise!

These days, exercise usually comes in the form of dog walks. There’s just something special and rewarding about turning off everything else and devoting my mind to paying attention to other things. Even something as simple as parking at the furthest distance to the school or shopping centre and hoofing it can be so rewarding.

That’s but three pieces from this post. It’s rich in advice and I would suggest reading it from top to bottom at least a few times.

Slice of Life: Walking

And, finishing Gonul’s post with exercise leads nicely into Lisa Corbett’s Slide of Life post.

She has taken upon herself to do some walking, setting new days in a row records for her. She’s currently at 166. That’s impressive and I enjoyed reading how she had one goal and then just kept stretching it. For her health and mindset, I hope that she keeps stretching.

She’s set a limit of -25 for the temperature that puts a halt to her walking. That’s legitimate and also reveals the challenge that walking is for teachers who are typically working during the warm part of the day.

My adversary for the winter time is snow ploughs. It’s always a good idea to walk facing the traffic when there are no sidewalks like around here. Except when a plough is coming.

I’ll bet that ploughs are more frequent in her world than they are in mine.

Mountain of Marking

The best insight I ever had was

“Teaching is the greatest job in the world – except for the marking”.

I think that, like most people, when I first started teaching marking involved mounds and mounds of paper all needing a number or letter assigned to it.

We’ve become more sophisticated over the years. The biggest revelation is that not everything needs to be marked! And, we’ve taken a new turn on the concept and put more emphasis on the notion of assessment and the options/benefits that it offers over traditional marking.

Click through to read Diana’s thoughts about:

  • Plickers and Clickers
  • Self- and Peer-Assessment
  • Google Forms
  • Rich Assignments with Long Completion Times
  • “In-The-Moment” Marking

I’ve done them all – the big game changer for a variety of reasons for me was the last point in Diana’s list.

Self-preservation, in the time of Covid-19

Deborah Weston never leaves anything on the table in her posts. This time, it’s a personal story of her walk through COVID and teaching at times.

Many people attempt to put a bow on many things when they talk about how teaching these days has impacted them. This post is anything but.

I’m sure that she’s sharing the sort of insights that many people have had for these past months. Her experiences in the Spring and the Fall. I think that most people feel like they’re on the end of an “easy pivot”. As we know, it’s been anything but.

That sad part in this whole post is that Deborah does share some of the health challenges that she’s had to deal with as a result. It’s a brave person that is able to that so publically.

Running a Marathon to Support the Peel Learning Foundation

Teaching and Learning has continued, as we know and Rob Ridley is sharing part of what he’s doing to keep something special in his area of the world alive.

He’s running his 41st Marathon!

This is no small feat, to be sure. I’ve seen people running these days with the goal of being able to compete in a virtual half-marathon. This takes the running concept to a whole new level.

The Foundation provides support so that students can get clothing, food, soap, deodorant, bus tickets, school supplies, backpacks and many other things. They help students in some of the hardest times of their life – and give them a hand getting through the challenges they face.

Wellness- Time to Set Priorities

Elizabeth Lyons shares her thoughts about Wellness. As regular readers know, instead of one word for 2020, she’s elected to go with one word a month.

And Wellness is her word for November.

Again, being brave and out in the open, she shares her thoughts about her own personal COVID scare.

Click through to read her post about the steps and life changes that she’s making to address it personally. If you’re feeling the pressure, you may be inclined to do some of what she’s doing.

The Burnout Blog

Any blog post that involves dogs and dog walking get my immediate attention!

For Anne-Marie Kee, she finds enjoyment and a break from walking her dogs. What’s not to like?

The balance of the post talks about the challenges she faces in her school, including the creation of a task force to deal with wellness. I like the concept described for a Wellness Wednesday approach.

Her life includes a couple of things that I’ve never experienced.

  • being a headmaster
  • working in a residential school

There really is another world out there and I appreciated reading her thoughts and action items. There was an important notion about wellness there – it’s one thing to talk to others about it and quite another to look inwardly to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself.

Part of my motivation is writing this weekly post. I’m inspired by the thinking of others. I hope that you can find time to click through and read these wonderful posts.

Make sure you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Gonul Turkdogan – @turkdogan_gonul
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL
  • Deb Weston – @DPAWestonPhD
  • Rob Ridley – @RangerRidley
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • @AMKeeLCS – Anne-Marie Kee

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

A visit to the Tip

Every summer (except this past one), we make multiple trips to Point Pelee National Park ( and to “The Tip“, the southernmost part of mainland Canada. It’s always a unique experience. Between the level of Lake Erie and the wind direction, the tip is never the same twice. Some times, it’s just a little nub and other times it goes way out into the lake.

Because of COVID, we’ve stayed away like we have with most of our favourite places. But the weather on Monday and Tuesday was so warm, we thought we’d make one trip. We were prepared to turn around if there were too many visitors but there really wasn’t. We lucked out.

They had a planner to read before going. We were good to go.

I had another plan. If you read This Week in Ontario Edublogs this week, you’ll recall that I was inspired by Jessica Outram to be a little more purposeful with taking pictures. I suspect that there are many things that I just pass by and, with some attention, I might turn them into worthwhile pictures.

I think I did, even though all I had was my smartphone.

We actually had Point Pelee Drive all to ourselves at one point. I stopped and took this picture of the tunnel between the trees. It certainly wasn’t this vacant coming back; there were bicyclists everywhere.

The trolley from the Visitor Centre wasn’t running so we walked the trail from it to the tip. We were amazed how the leaves were still hanging on. Back at home, the trees are almost bare now.

We made it to the beach leading out to the tip. It was far more than just a nub. It was the biggest tip that I can recall ever seeing. I checked my watch for steps before heading out. To the tip and back would be about 4 000 more steps.

At the tip is the reason for the trip. No matter how many times I’ve done the visit, I always stop and am in awe watching the waves roll in from the east and the west just south of the land. This truly is the tip and makes it all worthwhile. Warning signs are out to warn you of undertow just steps away.

I spun around 180 degrees and couldn’t believe how far I’d walked! If you see the trees in the distance, that’s the last of the land before you head out in search of the tip. Like I said above, I’ve never, ever seen it this long.

The observation deck was under construction last time I’d visited. It was now open. It was a nice, clear day. It would be a shame not to make the trip up. There is a gate half way up which I assume would stop people from going further on a really windy day. Fortunately, after a fairly long trip up the steps, I made it to the top.

There were handrails on both sides and many people were using them to stay steady and pull themselves along. Obviously, they weren’t sterilized so I did the ascent without touching the railings. The mathematician in me noted that each little raise was exactly 7 steps. According to the brochure, it was 140 steps to the top. As an aside, they seemed steeper the closer I got to the top.

Once to the top, the view was breathtaking. Surely, after that climb, I’d be able to see the tip when I looked south. You can see the path that leads to the tip but that’s about it. I hope to be able to go back once the leaves are fully off the trees to catch the entire view.

So, spinning around and looking north, there’s the park itself. One tree, I’m guessing birch, has lost its leaves but the rest are hanging in there.

As I finish off this post, I do have to give Jessica another thanks for pushing me. In a normal trip, I might have just taken a picture while at the tip. Since there was no rush, it was easy to linger over the various views. (there are lots more pictures on my phone)

I’m happy with what I did although I do notice that I missed on the horizon in a couple of pictures. And what’s with that orange cone? I made myself a promise not to do any photoediting or cropping for the purpose of this post.

That leaves room for improvement the next time the mood hits.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, the 13th. Do yourself a favour and take a pass on Port Dover today. Be safe.

Check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers instead.

Treaty Recognition Week – Guest Post by Tamara Bolotenko

Larissa Aradj lent blogging space to Tamara Bolotenko to share some of her thoughts about Treaty Recognition Week. In the post, she shared some sobering realities for many of us.

In our education, we had no sense of the realities that current students are understanding. Like Tamara, I learned in school that Canada was discovered by Jacques Cartier. I guess this land was just sitting around waiting to be discovered? Nothing else was happening? As she notes, so much of what we learned was so Eurocentric and it’s only later in life that that was just part of the story.

Her post is interesting and quite humbling to read and I would encourage you to do so. As part of an AQ course, she had to create a resource – she used YouTube- and she has them embedded in both English and French.

Kudos to her for being so open with her learning.

Walking On Sun Branches

Jessica Outram has done it again!

In this post, complete with pictures, she reminds me of the difference between me and creative people. I’ve always maintained that creative types see things that I would normally just walk by, sometimes paying a bit of attention, most of the times not.

Interestingly, she ties some wonderful photographs with her thoughts and endeavours surrounding creativity.

The images are surrounded by some clever wordsmithing and makes for an interesting read, look, and ponder.

Inspired by this post which I had bookmarked for this blog post and Wednesday morning’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs, my wife and I took a trip to Point Pelee. It’s a luxury that we normally enjoy a few times over the summer but we stayed away this year. We had a bit of incredible November weather and so did spend an afternoon there. I took my phone out and made a conscious effort during our outing and took some pictures of my own.

They’re not in the same class as Jessica’s art but I am kind of proud that I did take the time to find some interesting shots and will assemble them into a blog post for Saturday.

Thanks, Jessica. I love it when people push me.

About those special days at school pt 1.
About those special days at school Pt 2.

From the Heart and Art of Education blog, Will Gourley shares a couple of blog posts describing his fall.

Part 1 deals with some thoughts about inclusion and equity. These are important concepts and Will’s Grade 4 and 5 class were up to the challenge.

Some quotes from the students in the post…

These are wonderful comments from these students.

You have to ask yourself — if they feel this way now but change their opinions later as they get older, what happened? How can education be the enduring answer?

In Part 2, Will gives us a week by week summary of how things when for him in October. In education, it was a month like no other. It’s supposed to be the time for sugar and pumpkin distractions. That’s all different this year.

Will speaks, I know, for so many educators when he notes that October is also the time for “Meet the teacher”, “Curriculum nights”, and of course Progress Reports.

Thrown into this month like no other, there were also a number of teachers thrown adrift by reorganization of schools in addition to online, hybrid, face to face, and whatever buzzword describes your reality.

These are a great pair of blog posts and it wouldn’t be fair to include only one of them here.

Finding Balance With Hybrid Learning – E026

During our radio show, Stephen Hurley asked me if I felt awkward using the term EduGals to describe the authors of this blog post. I had to confess; yes, I did but it’s the name that they elected to use so we use.

They do acknowledge that it’s tough times for all educators.

It’s difficult to pinpoint just one audience for this post, based upon their podcast on the topic. From beginning to end, it’s rich with naming various technologies and how they can be used in the classrooms of today.

As I mentioned in the show, this is truly the time for technology to step up and deliver for all teachers. I think that many will acknowledge that serious and deep use of technology only occurred when school classrooms were closed in the spring. So many people were unprepared for the wide variety of tools that are available to tackle the job.

In this post, Rachel and Katie identify some of their favourite tools and deliver an engaging analysis and how they might be used by the connected educator. It’s not a short blog post but identifies so many tools that are worth the time to explore and see if they fit into your teaching flow.

This post is well worth the read.

Catching Up

It was great to see a new post to Peter Cameron’s blog. It had been a while. The post isn’t unique to his blog, it’s actually a copy of a letter that he sent to a friend and shared with us. He let us know that he was busy … but I hope that it feels good for him to be back at it.

There are lots of links to presentations and collections of resources that he’s working on. He spoke at Lakehead University in addition to his day job and provides us with a list of things that he has done in the past and wants to do in the future.

But that future will be different … he applied for a new gig. I know that those who read his blog and experience his successes wish him the best going forward. He shares what’s up in a Twitter message.

If you read the blog post, you’ll note that he’s promising us big things in November. I’m looking forward to it.

Golf in Gym

I don’t know, Diana, but this past Monday and Tuesday were pretty good golfing days around here. As I drove by many of the courses in Essex County, they’re doing a good late fall business.

Of course, it’s different in schools.

In Health and Physical Education, many traditional activities are off the table for now. I think we all understand and appreciate that. Diana has acknowledged that it’s been a while since she taught Physical Education but she decided to give it a shot … indoors.

Well, maybe not a chip shot but a putt for sure.

What do you do when you don’t have golf equipment at your school? You cobble together some things and make it happen.

This post is inspirational … read and learn from it!

  • never say never
  • if nothing else, steal borrow Diana’s idea for those inside winter classes

Better late than never. After all, The Master’s starts today.

Please take some time to click through and read/enjoy all of these terrific blog posts.

Then follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Tamara Bolotenko – @TamaraBolotenko
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Peter Cameron – @cherandpete
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL

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

Extension tutorial

This was very cool.

I was working my way through my reading the other day and ran into this tutorial and worked my way through it.

How to Build a Chrome Extension

Now, to be honest, I’ve worked my way through a number of similar tutorials in the past. I’ve been successful in the particular activities but ended up just deleting my work.

This one is a little different, certainly relevant, and well laid out.

Bottom line, it’s a tutorial that lets you search an online database for COVID-19 statistics and display them in your browser. Sure, you can go to a website and search for results but it’s handy just having them there in your browser, a click away.

A second goldmine find here is a link to active data to feed the program.

Of course, the data is as up to date as the last update.

I’m also thinking of Computer Science classrooms where you’re always looking for the answer to “why are we doing this”? Here’s a real-life example to work through. There is minimal internal documentation but that can be elaborated and then, of course, there are the mods.

The tutorial is easy to read and work through. Lots of copy/paste but a nice display of where the various files go in the file system of your computer.

What now?

Unless these lawsuits and investigations into corruption are successful, it looks like our neighbours to the south with have a new President.

It definitely appears that we will be experiencing a kinder, gentler America. We can’t get too hopeful; as I remind my US friends, their Democratic Party is more conservative than our Conservative Party.

Of course, it will be important for the new President to act and act quickly and decisively. There is all kind of speculation about what actions will be taken to undo some of what was done during the last four years. The highest of all priorities has to be coming up with a definitive anti-COVID strategy.

It is scary being in the media area where live. We get both Ontario and Michigan news sources and that often spills over to Canadian and American news. The biggest comparison is the numbers and the growth of active cases of the virus. Of course, you can’t look at the absolute numbers and compare them directly. The population is so different. Even scaled, you realize what a big difference there is.

As I write this, Michigan (population 9,986,857) has 207 794 cases with 7 578 deaths; Ontario (population 15,088,000) has 84 153 with 3 233 deaths.

One of the shocking (at least to me) things about the last four years was that the American President did not make a state visit to Canada. He was here once for a G7 summit and that was it.

So much for the longest, friendlist border in the world. In return, we got a new NAFTA agreement, all kinds of taxes levelled on Canadian manufacturers and farmers, and a closed border except for essential travel.

Photo by m j on Unsplash

I would suggest that a visit between the two, at the earliest possible date is crucial. The problem is the requirement of a fourteen day quarantine for visitors to Canada would be a challenge. There might well be a good educational experience for the US President to spend two weeks in a Canadian environment just watching and learning. Of course, that’s not going to happen. No leader could miss that amount of time out of the office. By the same token, if our Prime Minister heads south, he’d be shuttered in his cottage again for a couple of weeks upon his return to the north.

I’ve watched enough of Border Security to know of a possible solution in the Peace Arch Park. Perhaps each side could grab a picnic table from their side of the park and butt them together at the border. Wouldn’t that be a delightful photo opportunity.

Again, as I write this, I’m listening to American Sunday news shows and there’s all kinds of speculations on what the two combatants will be doing. I haven’t heard a word about reaching out and renewing old friendships. I truly hope that it does appear somewhere in the Prime Minister’s or President-Elect’s to-do list.