This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday and welcome to another sharing of some of my reading from Ontario Edubloggers I did recently.


Clean those boards

From Cal Armstrong, perhaps a Public Service Announcement. As Cal notes in the post, he has a number of whiteboards around the perimeter of his classroom that he uses regularly. His problem? How to clean them.

He indicates that he’s tried:

  • torn up towels
  • athletic socks
  • plastic bags

That’s quite a collection of ideas!

I never had that many whiteboards but I recall a solution, by accident, that worked out well. I had a microfibre wipe for my glasses sitting on the desk and reached out and actually used it once. It did an amazing job. Of course, they don’t come free and I don’t know how long it would work before it would need to be washed. I just threw it in the wash when I got home. And, truth be told, I only had one whiteboard that I was using. I can’t imagine a whole classroom of them.

Any suggestions? Head over to Cal’s blog and help a colleague out.


THE REWARDS OF TEAM TEACHING

From the TESL Ontario blog, a post from Mandeep Somal that I think goes further beyond just the concept of Team Teaching.

I’ll admit; team teaching wasn’t something that I wasn’t able to experience as the only Computer Science teacher in my school. So, I ended up living vicariously through this post.

I think that it’s tough to argue when she outlines how it works…

  • Open communication between teachers – this can consist of daily updates about the class, sharing ideas of what and how to teach, or jointly assessing students’ progress.
  • Efficiency in work – since you know that someone else is depending on you to complete your share of the workload, you become accountable to stay on schedule and get your share done in a timely manner.
  • Greater attention to detail – nobody wants to work with a messy or unorganized teaching partner, thus making you attentive to detail.

My only wonder about this deadlines and holding up your end on things. We all know that things always don’t go as planned when timing it out. Does missing your target cause issues for your partner?

Actually, I have another wonder – read the post and enjoy the philosophy described here – why don’t more people do this?


How to Appreciate Straight Talk

I’ve never met Sue Dunlop; I know her through her writing but if I had to guess, I would have predicted that she was, in fact, a straight shooter.

From this post, it’s not a new thing – she claims to have been this way since she was 18. In the post, she offers a couple of titles to support the notion of proceeding with candor.

In my opinion, it’s most efficient to use straight talk. If you’re honest and truthful, you won’t get caught up in the same discussion at some later date when you have to remember just what it was that you had said if you make it overly flowery or you dance around the issue.

I always appreciated a supervisor who was a straight talker. It was worthwhile knowing her/his position and once you agree on the points, much easier to determine a plan of action.

In a leadership course that I took once, we were encouraged to adopt this type of approach and Sue captures it nicely in the post. The one caution is to make statements on things that are observable and measurable and stay away from things that could be taken as a personal slam to someone.


Friday Two Cents: Being Positive For The New Year

I learned, from this recent post from Paul Gauchi, that he isn’t a contract full-time teacher yet. I guess I considered from the richness of his past posts that he was.

He manages to tie that position into one of not making a resolution for the New Year. No one word here.

Instead, he shares his outlook of positiveness…

  • Have high hopes
  • See the good in bad situations
  • Trust your instincts

The last point is interesting. I wonder – are teacher instincts different from other people’s? Not only do you, as a teacher, act for yourself but you also act and make decisions for students in your charge.

I like this graphic…it says it all.


Words on Fire

I started out reading this post from Sue Bruyns and remember thinking that it was going to be a book report or summary. Of course, it’s from Sue, so I made sure that I read the entire post.

Then, it got real.

But beyond becoming immersed in a world as readers, we also want our students to know the power of creation. We want them to use words, play with words and combine words to create other worlds, to create characters and to create tantalizing images of places that others will want to visit.

That changed the tone just a bit for me. Yes, she was still on about the book but it leads you to realize that reading in education is more than enjoying or understanding a good book. It should move the reader to want to create content on her/his own.

It seems to me that blogging is a great place to start in order to support this.


Snippets #3

Peter Beens is back with a summary and commentary on some of his recent posts. A couple really caught my interest.

Trump Properties

We definitely live in a challenging world and the recent acts and responses should give worldly travellers pause to consider their destination. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian and some of the passengers on that Ukrainian flight were from the University of Windsor, but I would think carefully about places that I would care to visit.

If You’re an Avro Arrow Fan…

I’m old enough to appreciate the amount of Canadiana that surrounded the Avro. Like Peter, I feel that it’s a part of our history and it’s a good thing that these blueprints weren’t destroyed so that we might all be able to enjoy them. Would history have changed if this project hadn’t been scrapped?


The Memory Thief

This is a story that we’re seeing more and more of and many of us have lived through. It’s not a pleasant thing. In fact, when we were younger, there was so little that we knew about it. We sure know a great deal more today.

In this post, Judy Redknine shares a story of love and caring between her and her mother. She writes in great detail the process that they both have endured and the struggle through dealing with dementia.

Very appropriately, she addresses this illness as a thief stealing parts of a wonderful life.

Stealing is all about vulnerability. My mother is vulnerable. We are all vulnerable. Today her priceless treasures remain locked in a strong box. Her joy, her laughter, her love of nature, of music, of stories, of people, of ice cream, and chocolate. All fiercely protected by the superpower of love; guarded by friends and family. She is full of grace.

It’s a long, detailed read. You can’t help but feel the love and well up with a sense of empathy at the same time.


It’s another Friday of great reads. Please take the time to click through and read all that these bloggers are offerings.

And then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @sig225
  • @TESLontario
  • @dunlop_sue
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @sbruyns
  • @pbeens
  • @redknine

This post appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Because of the holidays, I had accumulated a collection of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Now, it’s time to get caught up!


New Wheels

I don’t know about you but I love shopping for a new vehicle. There’s so much to be learned from figuring out what’s on the market and doing a vehicle comparison to comparison and then the biggy – what’s my trade-in worth.

Before Christmas, Diana Maliszewski went through the process and bought herself a brand new car.

If you’ve ever been through the process, you’ll love this post. It’s got it all…

  • memories of old cars
  • advice from friends and colleagues
  • doing the footwork going in
  • comparing products (Diana uses a Google document to do that – every car salesperson’s worst nightmare)
  • narrowing the field

and then buying! Read the post to check out what she bought and how she haggled.

p.s. her new vehicle squints


Learning from Strangers Online

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, we’ve all passed along the advice about “Stranger Danger” and given the warning about what could happen when you friend the wrong person.

The problem, though, is that connecting with the “right stranger” can be one of the more powerful things that you can do in the classroom. So, where’s the magic moment when this can happen?

In this post, Jennifer shares her thoughts including an example of another teacher trying to make meaningful connections for his class. In particular, individuals were in search of mentors.

It’s a nice testament to just what can happen and you might just land yourself in a position of making an important connection.

I couldn’t miss the irony that Jennifer had me do some proofreading online of her book and that was before we had ever met face to face. It wasn’t an entirely random event; I like to think that she chose wisely.


Konmaring* Relationships

In this post, Debbie Donsky brings in a connection between relationships and Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that don’t bring you joy.

In this, “things” might also include relationships. As Debbie notes in this rather long post/story, not all friendships are for a lifetime.

I guess that makes a great deal of sense although I hadn’t thought about it in this way before. She notes that, at times, maintaining the relationships and friendships can be a challenge. Given her history and movement through education channels, I can completely understand.

She suggests some things

  1. Commit yourself to think about the relationships/friendships you have in your life.
  2. Imagine what an ideal relationship/friendship would feel like, sound like.(For example if it is a coach, a mentor, a colleague)
  3. Sincerely thank the person for the relationship/friendship you have had with them.
  4. Consider if this is a professional or personal relationship/friendship and what boundaries you might need to create to maintain or grow the relationship.
  5. Ask yourself if this relationship/friendship sparks joy.

If it doesn’t spark joy, then there are things that need to be done.

If those relationships are maintained via social media, there are quick and easy ways to remove those that don’t spark joy for you. I think there is another element to be considered; people often do take actions in a harsh manner. Are you prepared for the consequences?


One Word x 12

It’s the new year and one thing that you often notice in blogging and other social media is people identifying and presumably acting on their One Word for 2020. You can follow the discussion in Ontario with the hashtag @OneWordONT. Donna Fry is trying to push the concept Canada wide here.

Beth Lyons is taking a interesting and non-standard (if there is something standard…) approach. She’s not committed to one word for twelve months. Instead, she’s looking for one word per month. In her post, there are no rules against using the same word more than once so that’s an opportunity to continue or reuse.

She builds a good case for what she’s proposing. I wonder if those who read her blog might jump the traditional approach in favour of this. She doesn’t offer 12 words yet – but has a good start.

The good thing is that she’s planning to commit a blog post to each over the year so blog readers (and people who write or podcast about others’ blog posts) will be the big winners.


What is the purpose of a bulletin board?

From my year at the Faculty of Education, it was drilled into us to have bulletin boards that looked great so that when you got inspected and evaluated, whoever was the classroom guest would be impressed. Oh, and also, make sure that they are changed before your second inspection. Why, oh why, do I remember stuff like that?

Deborah Weston gives a nice discussion about the various ways that bulletin boards can be handled. The rationale I gave above isn’t one of them!

I always used bulletin boards but they were created by students as part of their research and assessment. It kept them fresh and allowed students to do something unique and different. They absolutely did a better job than what I could have done.

There was a move a few years ago to display all kinds of achievement data there; thank goodness we’ve gone beyond that.

Deborah gives a nice list of ideas; they’re well worth reading and considering. They’re not all on the same train of thought and that can only be a good thing.

I really like this piece of advice.

For me, in the end what matters is that the students feel like the classroom belongs to them as they have designed it – like an extension of their home space.


THE RECLINER AND MY READING APORIA

I thought that, after reading the first paragraph of this post from Alanna King, that we were going to really get into the concept of recliner chairs. For me, it’s my very best working space. Period. End of Concept.

What else ya got Alanna?

Actually, she’s got a great deal more than that and the topic has nothing to do with recliners! I really enjoyed her walk through authors and concepts. She openly identifies and shares what she considers her biases – we all have them so we shouldn’t feel too badly about that – but I think it’s different from the mind of a teacher-librarian.

As a human, we know what we like to read and naturally gravitate to it. We know when we feel we should be pushed and we might do so at times. But, when you’re crafting a literacy resource for an entire school, it’s an entirely different ball game. You need to not only consider yourself but everyone else.

My immediate thought was about schools who don’t have teacher-librarians championing the acquisition of resources and understanding a school of a thousand or so with differing needs. How can they even presume to play on the same field? A teacher-librarian is so crucial.

I also did have a bit of a smile; I don’t know if Alanna gave us a quick tour of her school’s library or of the books that you could see from sitting in that new recliner.


Tears Now, Acceptance Later

Eva Thompson’s back at the keyboard! Yay!

Good teachers observe and this is what she’s seeing…

More and more I see students stressed out, succumbing to anxiety, feeling isolated and struggling with self esteem.  Part of these issues are tied into school performance and acceptance. I need to address it in my programming. I must.

As a teacher of the gifted, Eva’s students would be an interesting collection. Academically, they may well not have been challenged at the same level as others. It’s easy to understand because there are lots of other students in the regular classroom that would be seemingly needing more attention.

As a result, Eva is working hard to challenge her students and providing situations where they WILL fail. (Emphasis hers)

It’s an interesting read and works as a reminder that not all students are the same and they shouldn’t be treated or even challenged in the same way.


It’s a great blogging start to 2020. Please take the time to visit these terrific posts and drop off a comment or two.

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

  • @MzMollyTL
  • @jcasatodd
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • @DrDWestonPhD
  • @banana29
  • @leftyeva

This post appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I just got back from walking the dog and my fingers are frozen. It’s so windy and I didn’t wear heavy enough gloves. But, I guess I can’t complain too much. Last night Lisa Corbett, Beth Lyons, and I exchanged screen captures of local temperatures. I guess we’re just balmy and I’m a wimp.

So, this Friday before the Holiday Break, how about treating yourself to some great blog writing from Ontario Educators?


Skype-A-Thon 2019

Maybe it’s just the circles I run in, but I haven’t read or heard much about Mystery Skypes for a while. It seems like not so long ago, it was the hottest thing in the classroom. Maybe people have abandoned the concept for Flipgrid?

So, it was interesting to read Zélia Tavares’ post about her class’ participation in a Skype-a-Thon event.

Students are inspired by experts as their share words of wisdom and students reflect on comments which they have found very inspiring when recommended to find their own networks and supports around the world to lift themselves and others up.

Imagine having the opportunity to talk with a Vice President of Microsoft! Wow.

Look for links in the post to skypeintheclassroom.com and skypeascientist.com.

This could be the tip of the iceberg. If you could have anyone Skype into your classroom for a visit, who would it be? Often, all you have to do is ask. I remember coming in via remote to a Leslie Boerkamp class.


The Grade 3 ‘Travelling Genius Bar’

From Jay Dubois’ recent blog post, a new word for me …

ADE-worthy

The ADE program has been around for a number of years so I imagine that it is indeed difficult to come up with a new project and description that would stand out from what’s already been done.

1:1 iPad Classroom? Been there, done that, kids got t-shirts

But Jay puts a worthy twist to the concept. His students become geniuses and take their expertise on the road to any class in the rest of the school that wants a piece of the iPad action.

Now that’s unique and interesting. There’s a video of the process in the blog post stored on Google Drive. I hope that doesn’t cause problems.


Reconnecting with my cultural roots

I still have to copy/paste Diana Maliszewski’s name when I make reference to her in a post! Sorry, Diana.

Diana really does get this open stuff though and there doesn’t come a post from her that I don’t learn something new. In this case, it’s sharing that part of her heritage comes from Guyana and the West Indies. I had no idea.

She’s fortunate to still have her parents as part of her life and Diana shares a story about making garlic pork. Now, by themselves, they can be two of my favourite foods and I suspect that all sausage comes flavoured with garlic. But, I’ll confess that I’ve never had the need to drink gin out of necessity. Barring access to Diana’s intellectual property, I checked out the recipe online.

http://www.caribbeanchoice.com/recipes/recipe.asp?recipe=318

Let stand for 1-4 days? Hmmm.

The second part of her heritage moment involves going to a charity luncheon. I can understand myself being intimidated by a new group but never thought that the Diana I know would! So, I found that interesting.

Kudos to Diana for making the effort to remain connected to her heritage and her parents at this time of the year.


Naming and Shaming

Just this week, we’ve seen the incident south of the border as a consequence for a politician and Paul McGuire does make reference to that.

This is really something terrible to watch. House Republican leaders are actually saying what Donald Trump does in his attempts to bribe the leader of Ukraine is OK because, well, he didn’t go through with it. He got caught, so no bribe happened.

The bulk of this post though, is focused on the formal naming and shaming done by the Minister of Education. Has this become the way of politics now? Instead of civil discourse, we just ignore facts and shoot from the hip? As Paul notes, many of the big claims, i.e. eLearning for everyone, have been been refuted.

When your minister knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. When he tries to use old-style bully techniques, when he apes the tactics of Republicans south of the border we have to realize that we are playing by a different set of rules.

I hope that the statements and posturizing are for the news media and that common sense prevails in negotiations.


Thanks Milan – Lessons Learned at #OEGlobal19

What an opportunity for Terry Greene. He got to attend the Open Education Global Conference in Milan.

In this post, he offers 10 lessons.

#1 is great – take a chance and maybe it will work out.

#7 what an incredible looking lecture hall

#8 and warning, this can be a time suck but a time suck in a good way

and finally

#6 is something that we’ve learned from international hockey friendship trips. Other people love Canadian stuff. I find that demonstrating Canadian currency is always a crowd pleaser.

All 10 are great to read, muse about, and make sure that you follow the links.


voicEd Radio

The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/20854909

Bonus Coverage

The risk of digital leadership

I like the message that’s explicitly stated in this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd. The post revolves around a bullying situation and she pulls out all the tried and true tools as recommendations for how to handle things.

I think, though, that there is another message that comes across in the suggestions that Jennifer offers. All of them are good but the message that I heard was try this, try that, try this, and don’t give up. Somewhere there is a solution.

And, if you don’t have the correct answer, do what the parent did. Turn to someone with more experience – in this case it was Jennifer. And, if you’re that “Jennifer” and you don’t have all the answers, don’t be hesitant to ask others.

Together we’re better.


An Interview with Leigh Cassell

And, in case you missed it, yesterday I posted an interview with Leigh Cassell. If you don’t know of Leigh, you may know of the Digital Human Library.

Leigh was good enough to take the time to answer a few of my questions for the interview. I learned more about this amazing person and the projects that she has her finger on. Give it a read and I’m sure that you’ll learn more and will be inspired.


I know that it’s a Friday and everyone is ready to recharge over the next little bit. I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a safe and relaxing holidays. It’s my intention to keep learning and blogging but there might be a day or two break in there somewhere.

The podcast This Week in Ontario Edublogs won’t be recorded next week. After all, Wednesday is Christmas Day and Stephen and I have family. Look for something special in the following week though. Keep blogging yourself and let me know what you’re writing.

Make sure that you’re following these great Ontario Edubloggers.

  • @zeliamct
  • @Jay__Dubois
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @mcguirp
  • @greeneterry
  • @jcasatodd
  • @dHL_edu
  • @LeighCassell

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Didn’t we just have a Friday the 13th? But what a beautiful moon! The nice thing about full moons in the winter is that the skies seem so much clearer and the moon so much bigger and crisper.

It’s time to share another week’s worth of reading and posting from around the province from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, some great writing to inspire thinking for you.


It’s a Matter of Relationships

I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.

Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.

I love this quote from the blog post.

“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light.  The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity.  Relationships truly matter.

Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.

I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.

But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?


What do trees have to do with well-being? (Trees Part Two)

A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.

This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.

Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.

I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.


Shoulders of giants

Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.

With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.

And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!

Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!

That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.

The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.

I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.


Hour of Code Is Coming…

Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..

I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?

An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.

If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?

Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.

I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.


My Look At The Holidays: What Are Your Stories?

I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.

This post was different though.

There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.

She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.

You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?


The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.

Bonus Posts

Easy Money

I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)

What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?

Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.

What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.

Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.

But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.

While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.

BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?


The 500 – #452 – John Prine – Debut

This is a cool concept from Marc Hodgkinson. He says

I was inspired by a podcast called The 500 hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian Josh Adam Meyers. His goal, and mine, is to explore Rolling Stone’s 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

What an ambitious project.

What stood out to me from this post was this new (to me, anyway) musician. I read Marc’s post and then headed over to YouTube for more. Wow, when Robert Plant names a favourite song of yours …


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the original posts. There’s some really wonderful reading to be done here.

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

  • @redknine
  • @tmolouba
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @WillGourley
  • @MsALambert
  • @avivaloca
  • @tk1ng
  • @Mr_H_Teacher

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Most certainly couldn't do this


It was interesting to write yesterday’s post about the beginning of coding for me. It was a true story. My programs did have to travel for an hour to London just to run.

While I eventually got to use terminal devices to program at university, when I landed my first job it was back to writing programs on cards and sending them to the Windsor board office to run for the students. Legend had it that the nice room at the back of my classroom was supposed to have an IBM 1130 of its own but the cost was too prohibitive.

I don’t think it was all bad. Because of the 24 hour (or more) delay to get a program run, we programmers became very thorough in our programming. None of this “let’s try this and see if it works”. We had to plan and trace our way through a program. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting 24 hours only to realize that you missed something silly.

The bottom line was that our devices (and us) were truly disconnected in the process. Of course, it’s not that way today. There really is something satisfying about seeing things happen right in front of your eyes.

After another day of playing around with the micro:bit, it’s a bit humbling to see how things that we take for granted can come to fruition. Who doesn’t have a device or used a device that is connected to something else wirelessly? It’s life as we know it.

With the micro:bit, you can easily program it to communicate with another wirelessly using the built-in radio. Look at those commands.

For the longest time, I had one micro:bit and I longed for the time when I had another just to try this. Of course, you can do it with the online simulator but there’s something about touching it.

A real breakthrough for me happened at a Minds on Media event. Jim Cash was running a coding booth and he had lots of micro:bits. I told him of my desire to just test the concept of sending a signal from one to the next. It was dead simple. I was impressed.

Then, I shared with him a project that I’d wanted to try – build a slot machine! The concept is relatively simple – there would be one master micro:bit that would be equivalent to pulling the lever. Once the lever was pulled, the other micro:bits would display the results. If I ws really greedy, I could have designed cherries, apples, pears, etc. but I settled for 1s, 2s, and 3s. We were up and running in a matter of minutes and I thanked Jim profusely for the use of his gear.

Alas, I’m without a collection of micro:bits. But, I do have a project in mind that would be fun.

When we were kids, we would play a game of “Chase the Ace” around the kitchen table with my parents. It would be interesting to implement that game on a set of these units.

Kids have it made for learning coding these days!

My Hour of Code collection for 2019 is located here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Just like that, we’re into December. I’ve often wondered if the holiday seasons might get people away from their keyboards. That may be yet to come but, for now, there’s some great content from Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s a bit of what I read this week.


Our Kids’ Spelling is Atrocious.

As long as there have been schools and teachers, there have been red pens and circles surrounding spelling mistakes. Look it up. (well, you don’t have to really)

I found this post from Peter Cameron so interesting. It’s a transcript of a conversation between he and a parent who has a concern and was looking for an app or other solution to help the cause.

Peter does give some educational suggestions and guidance.

Upon further reflection, I looked at myself. I’ve always considered myself a fairly good speller. And yes, I suffered through those Friday morning dictation tests in elementary school. I hated them at the time but can now appreciate them for what they are worth. I’ve memorized the words, the rules, the exceptions to the rules, … I was not hooked on phonics.

And then I go onto Social Media and see misspellings and misuse so often, I start to question myself. Is this the beginning of the end of literacy for me?

In the meantime, thank goodness for the squiggly red line under the word misspellings above (actually at the time I typed it, it was mispellings) to keep me on the literacy straight and narrow.


Baby It’s Cold Outside: The Saga of a Song

There was no date on this post on the Association for Media Literacy website. I thought it might be recent and timely for the season but I reached out to one of the authors, Diana Maliszewski to be sure.

In fact, it was about a year old and part of a commitment to post 40 blog posts along with Neil Andersen. After a bit of a back and forth and encouragement with Diana, I decided to include it on the Wednesday podcast and on this post.

In reading, I learned so much more about the song besides the fact that it appeared in an old movie. Lots of media literacy implications (which explains why it’s on this blog) and a real comparison between society and media, then and now. There was a reminder that the song was banned on the CBC for a time and so much more. It’s a really good read and the authors encourage it to be used in the classroom.

I also found that Lady Gaga had covered the song.

And so many others. If the original was controversial, then how would the more modern covers be received?


From Compliance to Commitment Takes Personal Accountability: The Aspirational Nature of Equity Work

With a title like that, you just know that there’s going to be a long post to follow…

And Debbie Donsky doesn’t disappoint!

If you’re looking for something to challenge the way that we do things in education, this is a great motivator.

I mean, we’ve all done it. You get the memo that there will be an assembly on a topic or that homerooms will be held so that you can lead a special session with your students on a timely topic. I’m thinking bullying here.

As a dutiful educator, you do it. You’re accountable to do it. At what level of buy-in do you actually have though?

That’s where Debbie left me in the dust when she addresses rules and policies and applies the concept of aspiration to the situation. After a read, and you’ll read it way more than once, I think you’ll find yourself questioning a number of things. That’s a good thing and something that good writing should do.

The richness doesn’t stop with Debbie’s content. There are lots of connections made and links to external resources. She’s really done her homework in preparation for this post.


Thinking about Feedback

I almost didn’t read this post from Helen DeWaard because I made the assumption that it was going to be all about red pens, circle, and comments to students. Goodness knows that we’ve addressed that so many times.

But, no, that wasn’t the point here and why I felt so good about indeed reading the post.

Helen’s focus is on the other side of the coin.

What do YOU do when you receive feedback?

She embeds this graphic that will take a bit of time to really work through. But it’s worth it.

Think about how you receive feedback. We get it all the time. Sure, there’s the inspection piece from administrators but we get it from students with every lesson. It’s just a matter of really understanding it.

I remember a story attributed to B.F. Skinner from a Psychology of Teaching course where students ended up making a teacher work from a corner because of their actions. Every time the teacher moved towards the corner, the students all smiled and nodded like they were learning. Move away and the students dropped interest. The truth value of the story is in dispute but it is a good story nonetheless.

Feedback is indeed powerful. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to take a course on Peer Coaching and then found a partner who really understood and we worked together so well coaching each other. We still do today.


One-Hole Punch Puzzle Templates

I’m almost positive that I’ve done this mathematical activity described in this post from Mark Chubb. It involves paper and a paper punch. It might even have been as an ice breaker at a workshop. It might have been an online application that didn’t require physical paper or punch at all. It’s a really worthwhile challenge though.

If all you want is the activity, go to Mark’s post and skip to about halfway through it where he describes the activity.

But, if you do that, you’ll miss the important part at the beginning of the post and the why to the reason why you’d want to do this with your class. And, I would do it with everyone, either singly or in groups for the discussion value.

It’s a great activity to use those papers that are in your recycle box. There really is no need for brand new paper to do this activity.


History in the Making – Creating Digital History Techbooks

Paul McGuire had reached out to share with me this culminating project that he called “History in the Making”.

The last assignment we worked on was called History in the Making. I had this idea that it would be really cool for students to develop a digital textbook along the lines of what Discovery Education has created for math, science and social studies.

He was particularly proud of one project dealing with The Oka Crisis. He wanted me to take a look at it for my thoughts. In the post, he shares a couple of others that he thought were exemplary.

Everything seems to be created in a Google Site under the University of Ottawa’s umbrella. I hope that the students also make a copy in their own personal space for use when they graduate.

Some of the things that sprung to my mind while wandering around the resources here.

  • are other Faculty of Education professors encouraging publishing like this?
  • hopefully, they don’t land a job where Google Sites are blocked! (There are alternatives in that case…)
  • particularly in social studies with our new learnings, digital techbooks have the chance of being more relevant and up to date than other resources that might be available
  • certainly resources like this added to a digital professional portfolio would be impressive for a job interview
  • the concept of open sharing of resources is so powerful. It makes school districts that hide behind login/passwords seem so dated

I’m impressed with Paul’s forward thinking and I hope that his students appreciate both the explicit and the not-so-explicit lessons that can be had from this activity.


Thirty one days – my social media detox

If you’ve been missing Sarah Lalonde online, this post explains it all. She has done a personal social media detox.

All the details of her process are found in this post. It wasn’t all just an easy exercise. There were challenges.

Under the category of TMI, she also shares how and where she cheated…

And to address boredom…

One thing I found the most difficult was the “dead time”. For example: waiting in car, in line at the grocery store, waiting for an appointment…). My brain felt like it needed to be entertained. Was I scared to face my thoughts? Why did I need to feel busy? Why couldn’t I just sit there waiting and doing nothing? This is something I had to work on. 

She even extends the concept to students.

I think the big learning here is in perspective. Social Media is something that can be as big or as minimalist as you want it to be. I can’t see one answer that fits everything.

Regardless, it was interesting reliving the experience with her.


I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I did. Please take a moment to click through and send some social media cred to these bloggers. If you’re a blogger and not in my Livebinder, please consider adding yourself so that I know about you.

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

  • @cherandpete
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @mediasee
  • @A_M_L_
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @hj_dewaard
  • @MarkChubb3
  • @mcguirp
  • @sarahlalondee

This post originally appeared on…

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Black Friday, if you observe. There’s nothing discounted about the great posts coming from Ontario Edubloggers. You get full value for your reading.


Good Tree Stories

This week starts off with a post from Sheila Stewart. Maybe it’s a little less “education” than normal but it might make you look at your Christmas tree in a different way. She was inspired by a story about Halifax donating a tree to Boston which led her to thinking about trees in Kenora.

It got me thinking about Christmas trees in my life. As a kid growing up, it was always down to the trees sold by the Kinsmen and Kinettes. The tree had to be the perfect height with the perfect amount of symmetry. Lots of mathematics to consider when you’re freezing…

In our town, there’s always a big show as our natural tree is lit. The mayor, town crier, shooting of the town cannon, fireworks, hot chocolate, and of course the RiverLights.

These days, we’ve found the perfect solution for our rec room – an artificial tree which is absolutely symmetric. It makes the perfect backdrop for our Christmas picture.


If not now, then when?

From Rob Cannone, the best wisdom for professional learning.

With students, they learn something and immediately put it into practice. Can you imagine the disaster if you taught something and then didn’t get into projects, assessments, or any of that good stuff until a month or two later?

So, why as teachers, do you attend professional learning events and then not implement things right away?

Rob notes some steps that he feels should be done.

  • One thing at a time
  • Open the box
  • Share learning with others
  • Practice makes progress (accept it won’t be perfect)

His third point is even more important in this day and age. There was a time when you might learning something and then share it with a colleague in your school. With social media and its power, your best new learning partner just might be online.


Q is for Questions and Not Getting Caught in the Quagmire

From Lynn Thomas, another post that I thought moved nicely from kids to yourself in the argument that she builds.

We all remember our days at the Faculty of Education and the advice that we got about questioning – never ask a question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No”. Aim for something deeper and richer so that the student can provide evidence of learning.

Then, for me, the post took a turn.

When we ask questions of ourselves, do we aim for the richer questions or are we happy being able to respond “Yes” or “No” or ticked off on a to-do list? Or, updated to 2019, anything that can be answered quickly by a search engine.

Other than the fact that Quagmire also starts with a “Q”, I like her logic of avoiding getting stuck.


KEEPING BIRDS SAFE INQUIRY – GRADE 1

From the STAO blog, something a little different from Laura Collins. It’s actually a unit of study about birds and safety.

We have a couple of bird feeders in the back yard. We know that you have to reliably fill the feeder. We’ve learned about ways to avoid birds flying into windows. We’ve learned how to keep the squirrels off the pole. There’s so much more in this unit including the CN Tower.

And we get so excited to see Blue Jay, Cardinals, Woodpeckers. Squirrels, not so much.

There’s a real wealth of activities, literature, and learning opportunities here. Wow!

Most definitely shareworthy.


Guided Reading with Adolescent Readers

I thought that I was going to be like a fish out of water with the post from Deborah McCallum. After all, I didn’t teach reading. That’s for the younger years; by the time we got them in secondary school, they should know how to read, right?

But, are they all really accomplished readers?

Deborah points to a lack of extensive research in this area. In our voicEd Radio show, Stephen shared some of the challenges that he had as an adolescent reader. Do we make the assumption that because they’re older, they just are all natural readers or have at least mastered the skill successfully?

Deborah offers a few things to think about. Good for beginning readers but certainly worth keeping in mind for the older ones.

  • Low knowledge of vocabulary
  • Inadequate word recognition strategies
  • Lack of schemata or background knowledge to interpret text
  • Poor use of strategies to comprehend what they are reading

HTML/CSS with Canada Learning Code

My neck snapped when I read the title to this post from Alanna King. Then, I thought, we’ll turn her into a programming geek yet.

In a previous post, she mentioned how he was excited about learning about design and interface but now she’s rolled up her sleeves and is digging into code.

Her description of the activity matches the activities that we used to set up in our “Women in Technology” workshops for Grade 7/8 girls. There is something magical about looking behind the scenes to see exactly what’s going one. You might remember the inspirational “a pixel here, a pixel there”.

These days, there isn’t a huge need to be able to code many things from scratch since we have such great, purposeful editors to work with. And yet, there is the odd time when you need to look behind the scenes because something isn’t working just right. I can’t imagine how long it would take to write a blog post without an editor.

But, I still maintain, that’s not the ultimate goal. To be sure, the power behind programming and coding is knowing that you can absolutely be in charge of that page, that site, that device, that electronic thingy. Once you know, realise, and understand that, you can’t be pushed around by a wannabe or a particular device.

Learn and take charge – Alanna’s on a wonderful trip.


Equity Tech’quity

There’s real frustration in this post from Matthew Morris.

the kids in my classroom were in the middle of completing their short stories and the laptops they had been writing short stories on were booked – for the entire week. 

In his school, the supply doesn’t meet demand when it comes to technology and that’s the TLDR;

It’s the sort of thing that legitimately turns teachers off using technology in a meaningful, reliable way. Imagine any subject area where you can only do what you need to do every other Thursday if you remember to book things.

“We are teaching students born in the 21st century. We need to meet them on their plane.” Round of applause.

How many times have we heard this? Some self-important speaker on the speaking route commanding a fee that could otherwise have bought maybe 10 Chromebooks. Or, in Matthew’s case looking at a neighbouring board where a commitment to the concept has resulted in every student being given a device. I can understand the frustration.

Somewhere along the line, the people who allocate the dollars have to decide whether they’re prepared to fund a significant program or be happy with periodic low-level activities.


Thanks, once again, to these wonderful Ontario educators for blogging and sharing their thoughts. Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. And, make a blogger happy – leave them a comment.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • @SheilaSpeaking
  • @mr_robcannone
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @staoapso
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @banana29
  • @callmemrmorris

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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