According to Twitter, I’ve had an account since 2007. Before that, I took the traditional approach to learning.
That typically meant signing up for courses, taking workshops, going to conferences, and doing a lot of error and trial. With my background, my focus typically was education, technology, and technology in education. I make no apologies for that. That was my job and I’d do anything (well many things) to stay on top of things. I shudder when I look at some “leaders” who are still mired with approaches of years gone by.
Being a member of Twitter changed all that although not much in the beginning. A Twitter account only works when you follow and interact with smart people. A trite phrase back then was “the smartest person in the room is the room”. I still see it these days but it had a more special meaning for me back then.
These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings. My routine for learning involves a number of things but I really value the inspiration that appears in those lists.
In addition to letting the lists generate content, I’ve started paper.li documents for each of the lists. Daily, it pulls together inspirational content from members and puts them in a newsletter format. On my timeline, it will look something like this.
These documents provide such a wealth of information. Just click the link in the Twitter announcement above. I’d be lying if I told you that I read them from cover to cover although I try my best.
From these, I get a sense of what’s relevant enough from others to share it along with a continuous feed of news stories. They’re not always about technology or education and that’s a good thing. We all like following politics.
Here’s a perfect example of some learning that I was only able to have as a result of someone sharing it and paper.li making it part of a document.
For those that think they know everything, it really should be a humble realization that there is so much available to learn. It brings back another old trite phrase “the internet is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant”.
For those who are not connected, this should serve as motivication to get connected and connected to wise people. I so value those in my lists or, as I like to call them, “Active Ontario Educators”.
The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.
Of course we live in interesting times. These times, technology, and education are not sitting still for anyone. We all need techniques to try and stay in sight of things. This is one of the ways that I do it myself.
Tim King leads off with a confession that he has a big head. I hadn’t noticed. The point of Tim’s post was that he requires a medical mask and couples that with sinus issues to make things ugly. The mask isn’t sized to accommodate him and that makes for an uncomfortable day.
Couple that with the life of a technology teacher in a warm shop area setting up and dealing with the tech and you get the picture that he’s trying to paint.
The plot thickens as the topic turns to computer technology and his need to fix things so that his students have a place to work. Renewed Computer Technology of Ontario may be part of the answer to his dilemma of getting parts these days.
Then, there’s the whole concept of the long, extended class periods and the need for a break …
I suspect that Tim speaks for hundreds of educators across the province.
Amanda Potts tells of a story that I can only interpret as loneliness in the days of school building re-opening.
So, we know that social distancing is the rule these days but this is how it plays out for an LST.
“Hello, this is Amanda Potts, calling from Canterbury High School. I’m your child’s Learning Support Teacher this year. Is this a good time to talk about their IEP?”
It’s just her and parents on these calls when she gets a request from a colleague. Of course, it’s from a distance but can’t be entertained as she’s setting the stage for her parents and the students she’ll be supporting.
Although I’m sure that it adds another level of concern, I like the fact that she’s concerned about family life as she calls to talk to parents.
I just have this vision of going into B41 and working on things in the summer all by myself. A school or a classroom without students is really a lonely place.
Terry Whitmell has a collection of blog posts that’s documenting her experiences and observations for re-opening in her part of the world. She is one of a team of principals for online learning in Peel.
I think we’ve all read and heard about stories of teachers who didn’t have classes or timetables ready to go. Here’s a look from the other side.
However, with student timetables a priority, the entry of teachers next to courses didn’t begin until near the end of the day, and is ongoing as I write.
I used to help our principal and vice-principal with timetabling and conflicts can be maddening. Sometimes, it takes a second set of eyes to see something that was staring right at you! She also takes into consideration teacher preferences. It’s an interesting read – particularly if you think that it’s all computerized and all that’s necessary is to click on GO to make the magic happen.
Of course, there are all the technical nerdy things that students will have to learn like the choice of LMS and video conferencing software – I can’t believe that the system offers a choice. Despite that, her wish is for community building first.
I’m not the only one who uses dog-walking time to do some thinking. Jennifer Casa-Todd recently did the same sort of thing. She’s collaborating with a group of teacher-librarians to provide a resource for their teachers, doing their teaching online. I’m hoping that she looks at the resource that Elizabeth Lyons created (and I shared on this blog earlier this week). It would be a nice product to replicate and provide additional local resources.
She brings into the conversation a number of technical solutions, all the while in typical Jennifer style, keeping students at the centre of the conversation.
Those are leading products in their genre but certainly aren’t the only ones.
I enjoyed reading this post from Aviva Dunsiger. It’s a question that people asked “back in the day” when social media was new as a way to justify diving in.
In her post, Aviva shares her reasons for sharing
We share this way because it allows kids and families to benefit from each other’s thinking and learning
We share this way because it encourages the social
We share in this way because it helps us remember and celebrate the positives!
We share in this way because of the implied message that it also sends
If all thinking and learning is just kept private, what do our actions say about our beliefs?
I actually read her post when it first came out – because she had tagged me in the announcement (I do appreciate it when that happens) – and I had written a reply that I continue to stand by.
We share because it makes us more observant to what is going on and we share so that we don’t forget.
To me, the proof lies in the actual implementation. Right now, I just picked up my MacBook Pro and I’m in search of a Twitter message that I shared this morning about the new Safari so that I can poke around. I was using a Chromebook when I read the original message.
My original share may not mean anything to others but it’s a chance to share my learning with anyone who cares to join me and now I get the benefit myself by going back and finding it.
There was a time when I would just bookmark it and go back but I’ve learned that that approach teeters on selfishness. If it’s good for me, it has the potential to be good for others.
That may have been the first time ever I’ve used the word “teeter”.
Finally, from Alexandra Woods, a post that will break your heart. It’s not unique to her; I just happened to read hers first. It’s from the perspective of a mother and teacher.
She had a moment with her son that caused her to pause and focus on what’s really important.
Teaching is all-encompassing and professionals are doing their very best to make sure that it’s going to be positive for students. Kudos for that; that’s what good teachers do.
And yet, there’s another factor in all this and that’s the family at home. Those of us who are parents know that we turn over these little ones to someone else for the time spent at work teaching. In a normal world, the time spent not teaching is easier to manage but many teachers are observing that teaching and planning to teach is creeping into that time not officially devoted to working.
There’s always this sense that you should be doing more and sometimes a wakeup call to reality is needed.
Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. There’s great inspirational stories there from a number of different members involved in education.
From the Clemson University Media Forensics Hub, this is an engaging activity designed to see if you can spot an online troll.
I think that most of us have seen activities like this one before so it may be a nice addition to your collection.
I found this one a little different.
So often, I can easily browse through activities like this and then move on. This quiz is from real life accounts and, quite frankly, these are not easily identified.
You’re presented with social media profiles and copies of posts to social media and it’s up to you to determine whether or not this is an internet troll. We’re all aware of the situation where these trolls try to make something look legitimate while at the same time delivering a false message.
There are eight profiles to analyse and come from a variety of platforms – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In addition to the presentation of content, the tutorial will take you through an analysis of each that should have given you clues that the account was a troll or not.
If you think you know social media and are a wise judge, I would encourage you to take the test. In the classroom, if you want to help students become more sophisticated social media users, have them work their way through it. It’s really that good.
And, neither Sharon nor I got a perfect score. Grrrr.
Around here, someone flipped the switch and now it’s fall. The warm days went away, replaced by cooler ones. Crickets are everywhere; there actually have been a couple of nights where we closed the windows to keep the noise down!
Not noise, but great commentary from Ontario Edubloggers it the focus of this regular Friday morning post. Please enjoy.
As a secondary school person, it was culture shock when I visited primary classrooms, often at “Calendar Time”. It was always a big deal and I remember students highly interested in having their voice heard.
Now considerably older, calendars are important – in my digital life although This Week in Ontario Edublogs and Walk the Dog are the only two recurring events. That, and birthdays. I don’t really need that; we have a calendar on the fridge and the rules is that if it isn’t in the calendar, it won’t happen.
I remember that the calendar templates in Microsoft Publisher were crowd pleasers in the schools!
In this post, written before her teaching assignment was confirmed, Lisa Corbett shares her thoughts about the important of calendar with Grade 2 expectations. And, perhaps a different approach for doing calendars this year…
It was great to see Jennifer Aston back at her blog. This is another post talking about the nervousness before the return to school. She seems to have a great summer that included some camping. More on this later.
She speaks for so many educators when she lets loose about her frustrations with the Ministry of Education and the approach taken to re-opening schools that, by most accounts, excluding talking with teachers.
What a missed opportunity to work together for our deserving children!
Besides being a teacher, Jennifer is also a mother and is very aware that emotion and words can be heard at times from an unexpected audience.
Dwelling on the negatives can really bring one down and so she does talk about some of the very positive things that she’s expecting for September. Way to go.
Back to camping; there are a number of ways to take a holiday this year – staycations (for the most of us), going to a cottage (which can be like a home away from home including internet access), or going camping. Now, camping is all over the map in terms of experience but part of it is maintaining a safe site, cooking outside, etc. I wonder if students who camped to survive the summer will be tougher when back in the classroom?
Aviva Dunsiger takes us on a little adventure with her experiences with a mask and a shield. Like all of us who wear glasses, fog becomes a very distinct enemy. Of course, I had to think about the Andy Reid shield wearing at the Kansas City football game.
Imagine teaching a class of kindergartners through that fog!
Now, I hope that my friendship with Aviva withstands this comment but she seems to be in the shield modification skill department like how she describes her ability to park. Love you, Aviva.
You might smile as you read this but I’ll bet you can see yourself doing exactly what she tried to do.
Thankfully, she had a VP with a replacement shield to save the day.
Diana Maliszewski takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that so many Ontario educators can empathize with. She found out on Thursday, September 10 what her teaching assignment would be. Think about the date and the fact that normally, school would have started September 8. Over the prior summer, teachers are likely to be engaged in planning and collecting resources for the fall.
If you’re a user of a school library, this will break your heart.
The big picture here, and Diana spells it out, is that she’s had at least a part timetable as a Teacher-Librarian for her entire career. She didn’t use the role as a selfish way to avoid teaching kids; she’s been an advocate and poster child for the transition from libraries as a repository of books to the Learning Commons that we take for granted these days.
More than that though, Diana has been a leader, coach, critical friend, presenter, advocate, champion for technology and libraries. She’s been a mainstay presenter with subject associations like the OSLA and ECOO. She refuses to accept the status quo.
The TDSB has elected to not fund Learning Commons this year.
That places Diana in a full time teaching situation; a 6/7 split. She has three concerns that she outlines in the post. All three are legitimate concerns and I wish her all the best as she undertakes this new reality.
Once she settles in, I know that she will recognize that her years of being a connected educator has made her so many connections and her above average ability to curate resources (check out her wikis) will serve her well.
I also hope that subject associations which have thrived because of the contributions of educators like Diana are there with real resources to assist this year.
This essay from Rola Tibshirani should be required reading for everyone who emerged from the spring of emergency learning depressed.
Rola uses this post to share her insights into how things went well in her classroom and I suspect many other classrooms. It’s easy to focus on the challenges and certainly there were so many. Rola observes:
Our ecosystem during the emergency remote learning grew stronger due to the established partnership with parents and the students.
It was a slide/transition from regular classroom to teaching online. Rola observes that her success emerged from those idea connections that were already in place. I would suggest stepping back from your current reality and think objectively about what actually happened last spring.
Could your classroom be as successful as hers?
She provides a large list of events about learning, well being, and resilience.
Any time you can take a significant educational think online, be open and collaborative, only good things can happen.
And, good things should emerge from this new intiative that Roland Chidiac describes in this post. In collaboration with Chris Cluff and Ramona Meharg, he introduces us to a new podcast devoted to getting Principal qualifications.
The podcast is a great tool to assist us in sharing our perspectives, learning from each other, and learning from others outside of our immediate circle. We are modeling our process in a public way with the hope that it will start up great discussions and encourage others to do the same. As my friend Joe Marquez likes to say, education is a collaborative sport!
The concept sounds very interesting and the timing may well be perfect for those who are interested in this leadership role in education.
There are a lot of students whose family has elected to have them start this fall learning online. So many, in fact, that many newly created online schools have a delay in starting that put them behind the starting date for those going face to face.
As we learned last spring, there is a significant different between teaching face to face and teaching face to Zoom/Meet/Skype/Teams.
Like all things educational, engagement is a huge factor for success. Writing for the ESLOntario blog, Azi Pordel shares thoughts about the use of Microsoft Powerpoint or slides in general in the classroom for engagement. Tips on design and the rational behind slide design and process are discussed.
I hope that you can find some time to click through and enjoy all of these blog posts.
Then, make sure that you’re following these educators on Twitter.
Congratulations on making it to the first end of the week in September. This year, everyone is in different positions for the return to school. Some in buildings; some online. Some may have started with students already; some may still be waiting. Good thing we have a plan. Sit back and check out some greater blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.
Amy Bowker shares some advice for new teachers and wisdom for all teachers in this post. I had to smile at her chart and the year-long attitude for new teachers – Anticipation, Survival, Disillusionment, Rejuventation, Reflection, Anticipation. Thinking back to my first year of teaching and I totally concur with her observations.
The Reflection piece is great for all educators and she offers some printable for you to use.
Jonathan So has been back to school for a bit now and shares some of his thoughts as he starts to pick up momentum. I like his setup that he shares in pictures. I can’t speak highly enough for the concept of having two monitors if you’re interested in productivity and ease of information flow.
Sound is crucial for success when communicating with others. I’ve used the microphone in my laptop and the microphone in a headset. They are both functional but you cannot beat a professional grade microphone. Jonathan uses a Blue Snowball Microphone. A good microphone helps provide a higher grade of audio which serves to engage.
I agree with the four elements that he describes in the post as key to successful teaching online. He shares some of the challenges of teaching and assessing at a distance and describes the tools that he uses. It’s a great selection.
As Lynn Thomas weaves her way through the alphabet, she ends up on the letter Y. And, not just one word starting with Y but a bunch.
You is one of her words and her advice at this time stresses the importance of you paying attention to yourself. Your attention to personal wellbeing is so important during these times but also for those students in your charge. As any teacher will tell you, students are alway watching and listening and take their lead from you.
Yearn for yesterday was another pair of Ys that she expands on in her post. I think that so many of us feel this; even if the “yesterday” was just six months ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just toss the last six away. Of course, we can always dream.
Lynn takes on more words using the letter Y and shares her thoughts so click through and enjoy.
I’ll confess here that, when I saw this title for Amanda Potts’ post, I thought it might head in a different direction. I suspect that all of us have takes the Myers Briggs test at some point. I’m sure that I must have but I can’t remember the results.
Amanda can’t remember the results other than the letter E and takes us on a little memory of a boyfriend.
Sketchnoting is a technique that I admire in others. It says as much about their learning style as it does the actual content. My inability to be able to do that myself speaks volumes about my learning style. I prefer a bulleted list that chronologically takes me through whatever I’m listening to.
In this case, Debbie Donsky sketchnotes her way through a series of podcasts from Colinda Clyne.
From the TDSB Professional Library comes this very timely blog post.
Now, more than ever, teachers need self-care strategies to stay strong physically, mentally and socially. Here are some strategies and tips, drawn from the links below, for teachers to enhance their self-care during this unusual school year.
There are quick suggestions dealing with
Of course, we know all this but take a moment for yourself and review the recommendations.
Sources for the recommendations are provided for further reading.
Please do yourself some professional good and read these blog posts.
Then, make sure your’re following these educators.