This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’m not a real fan of using salt. Typically, it’s not needed in Essex County. It could be icy and snowy in the morning but mostly it’s gone by noon (with exceptions of course). This week, we had a pretty good storm by our standards and the patio is actually quite icy. I had shovelled the snow but then it started to melt and back fill. With the winter sun, it doesn’t get much light so I’m thinking I have no alternative. For the rest of you who got much more than us, I know, I know. It’s not a biggy.

Time to share some great blogging from a collection of Ontario Edubloggers. That’s more fun than spreading salt anyway.


Reflecting and Celebrating

I recognize that it’s a challenging time to be in education. Certainly, you don’t have to look very hard to read about the very real challenges.

That’s not the case with Lisa Munro.

We would not expect a family member who just received their beginner’s license to navigate a road trip across Canada in their first week behind the wheel, nor should we expect perfection in the structures and processes we have created with school start up. 

Amen.

I love a post that is just full of hope and understanding.

Lisa is looking to connect to continue the discussion. Why not enrich your learning network and do so?


Our path to personal wellbeing in 2020: Insights & offerings

I loved this post from Laura Elliott even though I didn’t completely understand it the first time through. A few subsequent reads and I find something new to hang my hat on each time.

She tells a personal story of self-care and the challenges that she has and uses the word yo-yo to describe her journey that ended up in yoga and pilates.

So, if she’s having difficulties, imagine the teenager whose trying to cope these days. It seems to me that it may largely go unnoticed since there is this sense of bravado that goes with growth and development at that age.

Laura then turns her eye towards the media and how its portrayed women over the years and then to social justice. As Stephen Hurley noted in our live radio broadcast on Wednesday when we took on Laura’s description of a “Food desert” in Toronto, it’s always been more affordable to buy less than healthy food. Laura notes that it’s our privilege that allows us to spend more for healthy.

This is a rich post describing part of what’s happening that might well be overlooked. Read it a couple of times; it’s not an easy read but is so full of ideas.


Negativity.

As noted above, it’s not hard to find stories about negativity and so I kind of expected that tone in this post from James Skidmore. It was his reflection on a story reported by the CBC that

“Pandemic has caused decline in educational quality”

This was pulled from an article from a story conducted by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and is focused on post-secondary.

James notes that much of the content from the study was overlooked in favour of reporting on the negative statement above. He draws a couple of conclusions at the end that I think are important.

Then there was this … which I hadn’t thought of. In an effort to maintain student interest when working online, educators have switched to little tasks as opposed to big ones with the idea that they would provide better engagement. On the surface, it might appear to make sense but when you think of the high performers in your class, there really are no little tasks. If there’s a mark or assessment, it’s important so the whole notion may have the opposite effect.

It may work well in a face to face classroom but doing it online is a different ballgame.


Different Number Fonts

It was easy to skim this post from Deanna McLennan. After all, it’s two short paragraphs, two pictures, and a link.

But it stuck with me for some reason.

She gave her students a pair of dice, a bingo dabber and then a sheet of numbers in different fonts. The instruction – make a game.

Of course the mathematician in me could think of a number of ways this could turn into a game but then I was disappointed in my thinking. All of my ideas had been done previously so I was just working with my previous learning.

And, am I missing or overlooking the point with the use of different fonts? Then, I started to think with the dabber and the different fonts, the product started to look like those annoying Captchas that drive me crazy. That then, opened my mind to newer things. So, I appreciated the push to my thinking, Deanna. I hope that she follows up with some of the things that these inquisitive minds generated.

Oh, and there’s a link to a document that she created that you could download and use it with your class.


You’re making me hungry!

Who hasn’t found the concept of student blogging intriguing? In theory, it should be easy to do. Just get the kids to write about something that interests them. How many times have you seen that logic fall flat on its face. There are so many dead blogs out there that started out with the best intentions.

I’ve long been a fan of what Cameron Steltman does with blogging. He writes the blog post and then his students go to the blog and respond to his prompt. It has been a while and I had wondered if he had given up on the concept. I was pleased to see that he’s back.

Now here’s the challenge, can you write a descriptive paragraph that doesn’t mention what your food is but describes it so well that your classmates can guess what it is?

As I write this, there have been 18 responses. I can’t remember the last time I got 18 responses to a blog post! Have I ever?

Here’s the most recent.

Did you get it?

More importantly, check the time and date stamp on this reply. When was the last time that you had students writing at 5:30 in the morning?


Psychology, Cybersecurity and Collaboration in Educational Technology

I file part of the content of this post from Tim King under “things I hope never happen to me”.

Followers of Tim know that he and his students have been doing some pretty heavy lifting with cybersecurity. While some classes are dragging and dropping blocks to draw geometric figures, this goes way deeper.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s room for both and both should be done.

It’s so easy to sit back and say “this will never happen to me” and I hope that it never does. But, when it does, what do you do? Who do you turn to? It may well be one of Tim’s graduates who have been interested and immersed in the concept of security.

The post describes the activities that students work through and has them using virtual machines. What an experience for them!

Think this will never happen in “real life”, whatever that is these days? It happens more than you would think and my stomach just sinks when I see some of the cases that make the news – typically not because the bad guys were caught but because someone paid the ransom to get their data back.


The torch has passed…

There comes a certain age when things are passed along from family members to others. It may not have happened to you yet but there will come a time.

It’s most noticeable and most emotional when it happens at “big event times” like birthdays or anniversaries.

In Anna Bartosik’s case, it appears to be happening this Christmas season. She’s on the receiving end of the torch.

“We have to make pierogi this year. I’ll do the fillings and we’ll make them together on the weekend. We can get them finished in one morning. We can make enough to share and take some to your aunts and your grandmother.”

I’ll be damned if I let COVID steal the Christmas pierogi.

There are a lot of Polish things in here that I don’t really understand but I do have memories of my parents owning one of those crocks. We used it for making pickles but not in this case!

It’s a lovely story of family and generations.


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

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

  • Lisa Munro – @LisaMunro11
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • James M Skidmore – @JamesMSkidmore
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Anna Bartosik – @ambartosik

This post originates on the blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you found it anywhere else without attribution, it’s not the original and that makes me sad.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday and a chance to take a look at some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, you won’t be disappointed with this great content.


#girlswhogame – Part 2

From Roland Chidiac, this is a followup to his Part 1 blog post from a few weeks ago. Read the blog post and you’ll see where Roland and the #girlswhogame are heading now in their learning.

Spoiler – Minecraft

Unlike games of old that are often first person shooter types, the gaming in this classroom includes work with:

  • solve problems using an inquiry process
  • think of and express questions in order to generate novel ideas
  • think about their thinking and have a growth mindset
  • participate in team work
  • communicate effectively in a variety of ways
  • understand how they are globally interconnected

Of course, all of these concepts are fleshed out in the post and it comes complete with pictures so that you can get a sense of what it looks like in Mr. Chidiac’s classroom.


Friday Two Cents: Society Cannot Function Without Women

Paul Gauchi shares with us some observations from his recent tour of occasional teaching. He’s noting that many of the teachers he’s working with are female.

In a discussion, as I’m sure happens in all schools, the reclosing of the school buildings is a topic.

Paul offers two reasons why he thinks it won’t happen.

First, he shares his thoughts that the politicians view schools as daycare. Secondly, he wonders about teaching positions being undervalued and expands the list to include a number of positions that are traditionally held by women.

He then takes a turn and offers a solution that might help the cause. As a father of two daughters, I didn’t find it a particularly easy post to read.


No Longer School Online

Regular readers will know that I really appreciate a good reflective post and Terry Whitmell looks at the first part of the school year and the successes that her school had with online instruction.

  • Teacher Networking
  • Student Agency
  • Consistency
  • Tools
  • Efficiency
  • Organization
  • Professional Learning
  • Student-Student Connection
  • Success

In the voicEd Radio show, I took a bit of liberty with Terry’s post and used the work Efficacy instead of Efficiency. I really liked her observations about how students took control of their educational lives. In a normal school setting, the structure is imposed on students but she observed their taking control of things. That seems to me to be one of the most important things from this post.

The post is written from the perspective of an administrator. I’d love to know if the teachers at the school observed the same things.


Step Down #SOL2020

Melanie White had me a bit emotional as I read this post. It was difficult to read because she uses “step down” as a delimiter throughout the post. It really was effective as it made me slow down and really mull over her thoughts.

Her thoughts took me through a sense of loneliness as she walks through her school describing what she sees. It reminded me of my own secondary school where we had an old part and a new part. The new part probably could have been a school anywhere in the province but the old part was really unique and yet, at the same time, similar to the building that Melanie describes.

I know that I’ve mentioned it before but her writing can be so moving and she’s done it again.

Then, the bottom fell out when she describes an airless room with Grade 9 students and her efforts to change that. While only a few people could have written something this emotional, I would bet that the emotions and the imagery she uses could be the words of so many others.


Social Distance Games & Activities

The day before I read this post from Larissa Aradj, I’d driven by French Catholic elementary school and students were outside.

Normally, that’s nothing to take note of but the ground was wet and it was the activity that the students were doing that caught my attention. They were lined up, physically distanced of course, and they were doing pushups as the teacher walked along in front of them. I was witnessing a Physical Education activity.

That took me back to my football coaching days!

This year, Larissa has picked up classes of Physical Education herself. It seems to me that that really is a challenging assignment these days. In the good old days, you’d have soccer balls and other tools of the game trade. These are not allowed these days so innovative ways to keep students engaged must be found. In this post, Larissa shares some ideas and links to professionally created activities. It’s a good collection to pass along to colleagues. Thanks, Larissa.

Hey, how about burpees?


Changing the narrative

I found this an interesting discussion from Alanna King. And she’s right; every curriculum document and course of study is presented chronologically.

My “yah, but” came from Computer Science where you build capacity in that matter; it you jump ahead, you overlook key concepts. I mean, what Computer Science teacher hasn’t had to stop in the middle of a lesson to explain something that was not apparent to be missing when you started.

Alanna’s talking more about the big picture in the humanities and that got her thinking about educational structure.

Good questions.

(Alanna, I felt badly that I started at the top of your list and read down)


Creating Engaging Lessons with EdPuzzle – E029

From the Edugals blog, a link to their podcast and the notes to go along with it. The topic this time around was EdPuzzle.

Reading this made me feel old!

EdPuzzle is a tool and a technique for helping students understand the content of a video and you’re probably thinking YouTube. I read an article recently that children put more credibility behind something from YouTube rather than something teacher created. When you think about it, it makes sense.

I actually was “formally” taught about how to use video in the classroom and the lesson went far beyond the play button. It involved noting the timer, having a sheet of questions, and most importantly a remote control. So teacher centred!

In the post, the ladies take you through the process as a teacher and a students and offer some sample codes so that you can experience what they’ve been working with.


There’s lots of great content yet again this week that will inspire you and help you take your game to the next level. Please take the time to click through and read all of these wonderful posts.

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

  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Larissa Aradj – @MrsGeekChic
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • EduGals – @EduGals

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Little help please?


I guess this is a plea for a little bit of help from my learned followers. From 5-6 in the morning, I devote my time to coffee, cereal, and some reading. (Except on Friday mornings)

My go-to reading involves a couple of local news sources and then I’m off to see what’s new in a variety of scenarios. My app for that has been Flipboard where I have over 170 categories that have caught my interest over time. The top group sits on top of the screen.

You can see that I’ve customized it over the years for my interests. There’s a big list that’s available from a waffle menu and “For You” seems to pull top stories from there.

Of course, I enjoy reading stories from all over the world but do try to focus on things Canadian and from Ontario. (One of the other categories not show here included Windsor / Essex County)

I’m nothing, if not fickle, at times.

I recently upgraded the Firefox web browser and once again it was promoting Pocket which it has acquired. It’s got an interesting integration right into the new tab of Firefox.

And to its credit, it does pull some interesting stories but I found that it’s important to check the date as they’re not all recent. I’d like to have some control over what appears, notably Canadian content. I’m hoping that it will learn when I pick Canadian stories so that it will show more of them to me. I hope that they’re random and interesting but from Canada.

How to find those Canadian stories is the next step. There is an option to Explore content and an interesting assortment is provided.

I’m not particularly fond of more of the “C” word that it offers. These topics aren’t selectable permanently; clicking opens a page of content related to the topic. I like that.

But, I’d also like to add the option of giving me Canadian and Ontario stuff. I can’t find it; and to me, that’s a show stopper for making this a permanent place for morning reading.

Now, I’m honest enough to let you know that I’ll accept humility if someone could come forward and tell me how to configure it for what I’m looking for. I like the integration into the browser but to be honest, I still have a tab open and devoted to Flipboard for my daily motivation.

Little help here?

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.



MAINTAINING BALANCE & THRIVING DURING COVID-19

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

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Upping your game


I’ll start off my saying that I’m not fond of templates, especially in education.

I’ve sat through many presentations where I know that I’ve seen the template that the presenter is using. Basically, they’ve downloaded a template and clicked in the placement text to add their own text, save it, and call it a presentation. At least, change the colours!

So, there’s my opening rant.

This week, my Windows computer let me know that there was an update available so I told it to go for it. That, before I read that some people were having issues with the upgrade … My upgrade went smoothly and quickly. As always, after the upgrade, I turned the computer off and then back on again. I know … old school mentality … there was a time when that was always required so superstitiously, I went for it. Things look nice, including the new Start Menu, the colours, etc. that I’d been reading about.

Maybe it was because it was cold outside, maybe it was the fact that I was just bored but this time, I actually click on and read the “See what’s new in this update” link. I did some exploration, but it was this one that really caught my attention and sent me down the wormhole.

That wormhole ultimately led me to this page:

https://templates.office.com/en-us/animation-and-3d

I was intrigued and played around with some of the templates.

Now, of course, you could just click the default text and make it yours. For me, though, I wondered about the possibilities that could come from messing around and seeing just how the templates were created. I could use those skills for myself.

In these days of more time spent working with schoolwork digitally, there is an increase in online presentation as part of the coursework.

This collection, properly used, could really make things pop in the hands of a creative teacher or student.