You may notice a slight difference to the blog appearance this morning. Until now, the grey background was framed with a white border. I thought it was a little blah and have been poking around trying to find something that makes me feel better about it.
Yes, I know that there are all kind of places where one can find a pre-built image but if you know me, I’m all about creating things from scratch. That gets rid of the stock appearance and makes things different from all else. Or, in this case, just a little different but I like it.
I generated this pattern.
I wanted something that complemented the grey background but something that really didn’t stand out or take over.
This was actually more difficult and time-consuming than I thought it was going to be. It’s not that generating the actual image is difficult – it’s that the interface has so many different options so I had to try them all, or most of them, out.
I really, really appreciated the fact that the author recognizes that many of us have moved from a stark white displace to something darker and easier on the eyes. That was one of the first things I did. It’s a simple concept but made it easier to stick around and play with things.
I can’t help but think that something like this would work well with students. We’ve all seen their creations that are essentially pulled from an image library.
There is another world for this and that’s created by the imagination in their mind. That’s where a tool like this fits in perfectly.
Live is great but can be a challenge to make happen. This Week in Ontario Edublogs, a live show, didn’t run this week. Stephen had another commitment. It happens every now and again and previously, we’d been able to record the show and just play it back as a podcast. We couldn’t even figure out how to do that this week so took a hiatus. We’ll be back next Wednesday.
I’m going to lead off with this good news story from Richard Erdman.
Last week, I reflected on the latest post on his blog where he’s documenting his Cancer treatment story. It was a bad news/good news type of post. Bad in that his options were becoming limited; good in that he was hoping to get into a new treatment program at Princess Margaret Hospital.
So, the good news he reports is that he got accepted into the program and continues the sharing of what’s happening in his life. It’s an interesting reflection; hospitals are a challenge at times. But, as my former superintendent was fond of saying – “If you’re going to play by the rules, you have to play by all the rules.” That means more time visiting the hospital than ever for Richard.
He’s off to this new chapter in his journey and I know that you’ll join me in wishing him every bit of success with this new treatment.
I’ll admit. I grew up with the real and true Batman – Adam West! Who could forget the Batusi?
Actually, as a fan, I do like going back and watching Batman and Superman sequels from the 1940s. YouTube has them all!
I’ve also followed the genre? (is it really a genre?) up to today.
In this post, Anthony Perrotta introduces us to the latest in the long set of media, Zack Snyder’s Justice League. He comes across as a real fan in his writing. I haven’t watched the movie yet but I, too, have seen the talk about it on social media.
Andrea McPhee is presenting a couple of sessions at the upcoming OAME Conference. Like many online conferences, it will be offered online. She’s doing one session live and one that’s prerecorded.
I can’t help but think back to a blog post that I wrote earlier this week about the need to change presentations to reflect these times. Over the past year, teachers have mastered the art of sit ‘n git and are ready to move on to better things.
It looks like Andrea will address this and her descriptor talks about all kinds of activities that she plans to talk about. Fidget spinners, tuning forks, … all of this could be presented in a play along format.
I wish her all the best and I hope that others are looking to present active learning events addressing so many people’s current realities, at a distance.
Charles Pascal’s newest post will have you thinking
Imagine it’s 2041 and a group of publicly educated 20-year-olds from across Ontario have been asked how they feel about the years they spent in school. The conversation is animated and positive. They say school made them feel like they belonged.
In the post, he addresses what he feels needs direct attention now and going forward. He starts with fighting racism and ends with the concept of a new plan for leadership and how that works.
In the middle are many other well thought out topics. When you look at them in their entirety, it reminds you that education is such a complicated enterprise. There is no one simple solution that we see in the media so often. You really do have to blame the media for their short summary clips and the politicians who play to it “We’ll spare no expense” – except in the most recent budget.
Many of Charles’ points can absolutely be addressed and they should be. They need to be addressed by highly aware teachers and leaders who refuse to accept that the current reality is good going forward.
In attention to his well presented topics, the comments including one from a former Education Minister, expands on his original premise. They add value to an already great post.
This post may well be the best educational reading that you can do for yourself if you are indeed concerned about where we’re headed. Do it.
OK, so Aviva Dunsiger tagged me in this post which kind of made me want to read about it. She’s a kind person so I wasn’t worried that it was going to be bad but I do have a reputation to uphold! She tagged one of my blog posts. It turns out that the post was from 2016. Wow, she remembered? Either her or Google…
As Aviva always seems to do with my posts, I’m going to go off on a different tangent. Not that this isn’t a wonderful post full of pictures and thoughts but I can’t help but think that so many of us can be negative at times and it’s a piece of cake to do that these days.
Somehow, Aviva always manages to find the positive and in this case it’s a reminder of some of the great people that she’s had the chance to work alongside. In a time and era when it’s so easy to find problems, she looks for and promotes the great things.
Some of those great things were attributes that people just do because they’re genuinely good people. I want to meet them someday. But I’ve also had my share of genuinely good people in my career. I’m struck by Aviva’s use of the term “magical”. I’d be willing to bet that if someone approached these people or any educator for that matter and asked about their magic, they’d just get stared at.
I’ll bet that they don’t see what they’re doing (they’re just being themselves) as magic. It’s the effect that others see where the real magic lies. And that’s amazing in itself. I think of teachers who have worked their magic on me – I see the magic; they probably just thought they were doing their job.
Maybe everyone’s job is magic and it takes a post like Aviva’s to realize it.
From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Velvet Lacasse takes us on a flight.
After a long winter, we’re ready to warm up and get on with the nice weather headed into summer. Velvet was looking for a way to incorporate that via dance in her classroom or whole school community. She came up with “flocking”.
Flocking is a type of movement improvisation, where the whole group mirrors each other’s movement. Students can be organized in a straight line or in the shape of a diamond. In flocking, there is one student who leads a movement, which is followed by the other students.
She could have stopped the post there and it would have been very inspirational. But she goes over the top when she ties it to Land Acknowledge and Indigenous application of gratitude.
She explains the Thanksgiving Address, Bear Song, and Medicine Wheel teachings and what it means to her. It’s an inspiration read for great thinking and took me to places I didn’t expect.
I’m so glad that I found John Hodgkinson’s ongoing series of blog posts talking about the greatest 500 albums of all time. The list and his discussion take me back to great music that I hadn’t run across for a while. This post is from Oasis.
Back I went to enjoy some great music.
I love this stuff.
Better, I enjoy exploring the original music videos on YouTube. Even better than that, I really appreciate reading John’s reflection on the songs and artists.
Even though we didn’t have the radio version discussing these blog posts, you can still click through and enjoy them.
This was kind of an exciting email to receive after my thoughts about conference keynotes yesterday.
It’s from Apple.
In a perfect world, we’d all be going to conferences and listening to speakers and presenters and maybe even going out for dinner with friends old and new.
That’s not happening now.
Yet the need to learn is still there.
I know that many educators are motivated and are working on their own. There are others who are looking for something well organized and worthy of their time and effort. Time and extra effort are at a premium these days.
So, why am I excited about this offering?
For one, I’m a fan of badging to provide evidence of learning. It’s simpler than those conference reports that we had to submit and wonder if anyone ever looked at them! It’s also something that you can proudly put on your personal website or your signature on your email. Or, just tuck them away in a corner of your computer for your eyes only.
There is a second reason here for those who are learning haphazardly as opportunities become available. In this case, this is a collection of relevant teaching performances that will definitely help to increase literacy and skills, in the Apple environment.
In my mind, it’s difficult to argue against the concept. I’m pleased to see it being announced and available to those with an Apple Teacher account. It joins the badging and learning programs from others like Google and Microsoft.
It should also serve as an example and maybe inspiration for others to get involved. The scope of the learning from these organizations is world-wide by design and there’s no fault for that. But, locally, is there the desire for provincial subject associations or local school district to provide something that slides in directly to your Ontario classroom?
Laura Elliott had this sort of sentiment as she went through and redid her educational philosophy. It might seem to be a straight forward decision but Laura really describes how the sentiment applies in so many ways.
Of particular interest to me was the part of the blog post when she talked about the necessity for students to actually trust their teacher. That will make you stop and think for a bit. It seems like a simple concept but when you think of the alternatives like what would make a student mistrust a teacher, you really can see where she’s headed with this concept.
We all need inspirational moments these days; I suspect that reading and reflecting on this post will be one for you.
There was a great deal of learning and thinking in this recent post from Jessica Outram. She has that ability as a writer.
First; I’d never heard of the word “autoethnography” so that was my starting point.
The post is full of ideas and practical motivation pieces to get you thinking about yourself as writer. I’m pretty sure she didn’t write it with me in mind but there were so many good ideas in there to ensure that I’m writing to be true to yourself.
In school, I’m not sure that that was ever true. I seem to remember that the goal was to write like some of the authors that we had been reading in class. This goes in a different direction that seems to me would be more powerful. There are elements of thinking about your own culture and its impact on you and your impact on it. I’d never really thought about it this way before.
It just makes so much sense. We all bring out own individual backgrounds to the writing process and the chances that two of us are exactly the same are slim. So, why wouldn’t this reflective approach work and work nicely?
It’s very powerful thinking. Thanks for sharing this, Jessica. Shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to write this way?
Richard Erdmann uses his blogging space to share his ongoing challenges dealing with cancer. As such, his writing is often a different vector than some of the posts that I include here. That doesn’t validate or invalidate anyone’s words but just reinforces in my mind all the positive things that can result from blogging.
In this post, he shares the results of a biopsy. The results set the tone for the negative part of this post and the resulting disappointment.
Then, he turns around with a mindset that can only be helpful. He talks about the positive things that he’s going to be doing including mindset and daily approach and the possibility that he may be admitted to a new program at Princess Margaret Hospital to try a new treatment.
I know that we all talk about Plan As and Plan Bs in our lives. Richard’s working on Plan “E”. Let’s all wish him the best and that “E” is it.
Everyone who has ever been in a classroom knows the importance of March Break. The Fall session last from September to December and the excitement sustains.
Then, the return from the break in January marks a very long stretch to the end of June. It starts with the darkest days of the school year and there are are a couple of holidays but it’s always been the Spring Break that makes that chunk of time bearable.
Throw in the current stress of COVID in the classroom and you can really understand those that lament the movement of the break.
Paul Gauchi shares his thoughts about the movement of the break from March to April. In the post, he acknowledges the stress and fatigue that so many educators are enduring.
In a normal year everyone could look forward to time off to help recharge their batteries for that final push until June.
I thought that this was an interesting look at the perspective from an Occasional Teacher, Melissa Turnbull. It’s not a job that I’ve ever had nor aspired to. Just covering classes internally for other teachers was challenging enough, particularly when you don’t know the subject matter.
Occasional teachers allow the school to continue though. We always treated these people as guests when they came into our department. We had an extra desk that was available should we get one on any particular day. If we had two, it went to whoever got there first! We’d give them a tour of where rooms are, where the coffee is made, etc.
But that was in a regular school environment. As with many educational things in the days of COVID, things are much different these days. This post, from the Heart and Art blog, will give you a look at what it looks now through Melissa’s eyes.
It’s also a reminder that you can never been too friendly for those guests at your school. Isolation and all the other rules that need to be observed can really push back.
It had been a while since Helen DeWaard had blogged so it was nice to see a flag by her blog in my reader and then with a title like this, I knew that I had to dive into this post. Two new words this week, courtesy of reading blog posts. Does it get much better than that?
Thankfully, Helen takes the time to provide us with a definition of the word “fugue”! I’d never heard or read it before.
I think that, in these days of COVID, we’ve all seen screen captures of video conferencing sessions with participants in their own little window. That’s become the reality for most people and we’ve all made fun of it and have seen how others can be brutal in their comments as well.
Helen provides another interesting look, a couple of examples, and an inspirational call to action.
We too can step out of our fugue and leave a legacy of our teaching and learning, just as this video models. This is a record of a moment where musicians came together purposefully, to create something meaningful and beautiful.
There’s your challenge if you’re working in an online class environment for this Friday.
Check out all these amazing posts and then follow these folks on Twitter.
On the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show, Stephen Hurley and I had a lot of fun with this post from Debbie Donsky. It took us to Yogi Berra and his classic “It’s deja vu all over again”.
Debbie takes a number of looks at the concept of time as it affects her and probably affects us all. How many times have we truly have to stop and think about just what day of the week it actually is? Her analysis gives a thoughtful comparison between circular and linear time. That really made me stop and do some reflection; after all education most certainly is linear from September to June but apply that to a circular reality. Maybe it goes a long way to describing the frustration that so many feel these days.
The star of this excellent post is an embedded sketchnote she composed while doing a book study with Colinda Clyne. Don’t skim it; enjoy what Debbie captures and think about it just a bit. You’ll be glad you did.
But, time … this post brought back a memory of this awesome Jim Croce song.
In Tim King’s recent post, I can come down firmly on both sides of the fence of the issue he discusses. The connected me agrees totally with his assertion that we have information available to us any time, any where these days. Why should a student have to interrupt a lesson to ask a question that’s easily Googled or Ducked on her personal device?
On the other hand, Tim as teacher, is the authority in the classroom. Why should a student have to immediately delve through all the misinformation and advertising and distractions that going online looking for answers entails? After all, Tim knows the answer. The student’s reality may also be one where other teachers have followed the great “ban” of cell phones in the classroom and so searching personally isn’t an option.
For me, the message in this post goes beyond Tim’s frustration in this particular instance. It’s a reminder that we haven’t got our act together consistently throughout Ontario classrooms. If it was my classroom, I would side with Tim’s philosophy and use the opportunity to reinforce the notion that we want kids to be self-directed learners.
The first run of the online OSSLT went over so well, let’s double down again this year. What could go wrong?
If you need a flashback, Kyleen Gray takes you back.
If you’ve successfully wiped EQAO’s last disastrous attempt at an online administration of the OSSLT from your memory, let me jog it by taking a look at my blog from 2016: Online OSSLT: Titanic Disaster.
There are three areas in this thought provoking post:
What’s new? (with a dozen points…)
How to prepare students
I think that the Titanic comparison is unfair. The folks on the Titanic didn’t have prior knowledge of what could happen.
I remember now why I try to have short titles for my blog posts! Jonathan So’s rather longish title kept me thinking about what he might talk about before I even got to the heart of his discussion.
It’s something as simple as “cameras on” in the online classroom to bring forth the notion of control and compliance in the classroom for Jonathan. I thought it was rather insightful; I’m not a fan of long term camera use since I tend to do other things beside looking at the green light. I’ll get up and stretch – my watch will let me know if I’m sitting for over an hour – I like to look around and stretch my eyes rather than stare forward – and undoubtedly more than what needs to be discussed here.
Jonathan brings in elements of Matthew Morris’ TEDx talk where he addresses his philosophy and 1-1 discussion with students in a kinder, gentler format.
I felt that he did a really comprehensive job analysing more than just cameras but an entire reliance on compliance for a school system to survive. There’s lots more to think about than the little green light!
Beth Lyons follows up on her February monthly word “permission” with one for March “Space”.
In my mind, they flow so nicely together.
We’re all living in incredibly strange times and so the notion of giving oneself permission to have more space makes so much sense.
We know that things are different in 2021 so it just isn’t logical to try and fit life as usual into the real world that we’re all living in right now. Is it fair to try and squeeze all the current initiatives that teachers are involved with (and Beth names a few) into today’s real world. Or, is it time to refocus on what’s really important.
Here’s to you, Beth, a young Alan Jackson and the real world.
If you’re a follower of Melania White’s blog, you’ll know that she’s on fire as of late. There’s all kinds of incredible inspiration there to get you thinking but Rush’s 2112 had me open a new tab to listen while I went back to the top and re-read her post
Music seems to have been always a big divisor between parents and children. I think I lucked out; my parents didn’t play music. That was the domain for me in my room.
But, for my own kids, only one of them appreciate good music to this day. At least by my standards. There are still things that confuse me – how can you like Tom Morello and hate Bruce Springsteen? My favourite line when they were younger was “I paid a dime and got a Nickleback”. We resolved this ongoing conflict one Christmas with headphones as gifts. I still prefer to listen to music this way with my own and also in a really dark room.
And Melanie’s description of partying in high school makes me wonder if I met her in a previous life…
This was a real bonus for me. I opened my browser to find that Joel McLean had published this new post this morning.
The post is well sectioned with inspiration.
TU ES CAPABLE !
Prendre une CHANCE
Faire avec PASSION
Travailler avec ARDEUR
Voir le BIEN
Avoir un impact EXPONENTIEL
All of the sections contains very inspirational pieces of advice. So, don’t skip any of them.
But, I really hung my hat on the advice he received from his parents. It deals with accomplishment and commitment. It’s tough in the best of times but how about these days? It would be easy to roll over and just give up. But, a stronger person would persevere. I know that this blog readers are in the latter.
Please take some time to enjoy all these posts and then follow these bloggers on Twitter.
Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
Tim King – @tk1ng
Kyleen Gray – @TCHevolution
Jonathan So – @MrSoClassroom
Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
Joel Mclean – @jprofnb
The Wednesday morning podcast on voicEd Radio is available here: