This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It would be hard to start this post and not talk about snow. It’s been a heavy week around, especially for a November. Buses were even cancelled one day and, in typical Essex County fashion, the main roads were dry by noon.

It’s time to share some of the great posts I read recently from Ontario Edubloggers. And, by the way, if you’re in Ontario and blogging or know of someone who is, please add it to the form that’s there to collect for the purpose of growing the list. Or, directly here.


Did you get your flu shot yet?

Your public service notice this fall from the Heart and Art Blog and Deb Weston. It’s personal for her.

In 2009, my students invited their classmates to a birthday party. One of the students had the H1N1 flu virus. In a class of 24 students, 18 students missed a week of class due to this flu. Their teacher, me, was then hit with the flu. I missed 4 days of work. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Upon hearing I was diagnosed with H1N1, my partner got his flu shot and slept in another room until I was well. The flu compromised my immune system and months later I contracted Whooping Cough.

It’s hard to believe that, despite the facts, we have this conversation every year.

Since you can get it at a pharmacy now, there’s no “waiting for a doctor” excuse any more. Just do it.

I’ve got mine.


He talks about me at home

There was a time when student-led conferencing was solely an elementary school thing it seems. So, it was with real interest to read that Amanda Potts had mom and a family of three show up for parent/teacher interview – two students that she taught.

From a reading perspective, I found myself bouncing back and forth with empathy from teacher to student who had just been outed that “he talks about me at home”.

From an education perspective, I thought that it was a real winner that this parents wanted to talk about the choice of reading that was selected for this class. I don’t imagine that happens a lot.

The timing of reading this post and an invitation to listed to a new podcast from Amanda and Melanie White made it full circle here. I enjoyed both.

You can read more about this podcast on Amanda’s blog as well.


A Stitch in Time

I knew about much of this from Colleen Rose through private conversations. She wasn’t going to be going back to the classroom to start the fall semester after having had a great summer.

Colleen goes very public with details, including a TMI warning in this post.

I think that it’s cool that she’s turning the whole thing into a learning event – how much more “teacher” can you get than that. In this case, it’s teaching herself to knit. Kudos for doing that.

What impressed me about this post is that there’s a common thread running through it – yes, it’s pure Colleen, but there’s technology everywhere. Mapping a trail, taking pictures (lots of them), medical technology, Dr. Google, listening to podcasts, and YouTube tutorials for learning her new skills. Way to go, Colleen.

The post even includes a shoutout to her union for taking care of things for her.


Parlons Minecraft BIT2019

Jennifer Aston delivers an interesting post about a session that she and her daughter delivered at the recent Bring IT, Together Conference about how Minecraft has found its way into her French classroom.

Her slidedeck, which she freely shares is here: http://bit.ly/parlonsminecraft

Unlike many of the sessions that I attended where the slides were filled with text and drawings, etc., so that the speaker becomes redundant, Jennifer recognizes that she’s very visual in presentation and that the slides, by themselves, doesn’t really tell you what’s happening.

So, she clumps her slides together with speaking notes so that we can follow and understand the message.

Nicely done and it’s great to know that the practice of ensuring that presentations in both Ontario’s official languages are still offered.


Detentions

Matthew Morris doesn’t give detentions. That’s interesting. Maybe he doesn’t need to? Or maybe he’s got another way of handling the things that detentions would claim to solve?

What I found interesting was his note that he’s asked by students “do you give detentions?”. Even that question speaks volumes that the students are coming from a school culture that includes them.

I can’t recall giving them out. In fact, we were specifically told not to since most of our students were bused to school and after school detaining would open a can of worms. I remember noting that there were still lots of after school sports, clubs, and activities. But, as a new teacher, I wanted to follow the rules.

This ran through my mind after reading Matthew’s post

beatings will continue until morale improves

If the goal of detentions is to improve things, maybe there’s a better way to reach that goal.


Secret Truths of Empathy While Learning to Advocate

Hmmm. Thanks to this post from Ruthie Sloan, the secrets are now revealed!

The big takeaway, if you need it is that

empathy is not sympathy

It certainly isn’t accumulating the number of check boxes on a student IEP either.

What might happen if we began our meetings and our journey with deep and genuine curiosity (beyond check boxes on IEPs but about the ‘whole-child’ and those who are also learning how to support)? How might this affect our capacity to cultivate empathy? What might it do to our filters and translations?

If we truly believe in working with the “whole-child”, then a more global approach is essential. Ruthie uses the term “moral imperative”.

I can’t help but think that the suggested approach would be deemed to be too inefficient and not cost worthy in the eye of the bean counters. Plus, with cutbacks in support…

I think you can fill in the details.


Community Archives and Identity

This is actually a very short message informing us about a presentation that Krista McCracken is delivering to an Algoma sociology class.

Slides are available here.

Unlike Jennifer’s approach of not including speaker notes, Krista does have speaking notes to go along with each slide.

Of course, looking through a slidedeck isn’t the same as being there but this was intriguingly interesting and I used a search engine to find out more about the Archives talked about in the slideshow.


Please take the time to click through and enjoy the original blog posts. As always, there’s some great sharing going on.

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

  • @dr_weston_Phd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @ColleenKR
  • @mme_aston
  • @callmemrmorris
  • @Roosloan
  • @kristamccracken

This post appeared at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And just like that it’s November. With the first Friday, it’s time again to share some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers.

There’s a little more reading than normal with the post. There are a couple of bloggers who contributed their thoughts in two posts rather than one.

Why not use this as a chance for two coffees this morning?


Esports with Primary Students – Part 1: Jumping In
Esports in Primary – Part 2: Next Steps

From Rolland Chidiac, a couple of posts describing how he’s using sports software in his classroom. There’s a great deal of gaming and application of the concept throughout these posts.

In the first post, Rolland describes how he used a piece of software in his class with a bent towards going beyond the game and making a connection to Mathematics. All games have some way to keep score of your progress in the game. That’s what they’re all about. How else would you know if you won or not otherwise? In this case, Rolland’s students capture their scores and create their own collection of data to analyse. It reminds me of the time clocks kept during Formula 1 auto races. Then, based on this data, students predict how they could make their scores better.

In the second post, Rolland gets a little bit constructive with an unused Xbox from at home that arrives at school. The Xbox is an amazing device; I recall once at a Microsoft event where some students from Seattle had created a Fish Market simulation.

Rolland’s post, in this case, gets a bit technical about how he actually sets things up in his classroom. He provides an interesting list of the expectations that he has in mind.

I wonder if there might be a third post where the focus turns to students writing their own games.


Making Kindergarten Media Projects with Meaning

From Diana Maliszewski that actually could become a three parter by itself. It’s a collection of stories about kindergarten use of media due to Diana’s guidance.

One might expect that the whole focus could be on electronic technology but that’s not the point. Diana analyzes the interest of the three classes and shares activities involving…

  • making stuffed dinosaurs
  • skinny pigs and connection to literature
  • creating a Mystery Box video

Above and beyond the activities, it’s clear that Diana honours student voice in these activities.

And it sounds like a great deal of fun.


Indigenous Institute Blends Tradition & Tech to Preserve Anishinaabe Teachings

I think that you’ll really enjoy and be impressed with the project described in this post. Fair Chance Learning partnered with Seven Generations Education Institute to create virtual reality content to help preserve community traditions. Personally, I spent a great deal of time doing some background about the Seven Generations Education Institute so that I could truly appreciate what was happening.

The context is the Fall Festival which traditionally celebrates how the Anishinaabe prepare for the winter. The post talks about:

Like years before, local elders, volunteers and SGEI staff demonstrate wild rice preparations, tell traditional stories, sing at the Grandfather drum and cook bannock on a stick. Unlike in years passed, Fall Harvest 2019 incorporated virtual reality to help preserve these vital cultural teachings and enrich the education of our students.

I’m intrigued and will try to follow the results from this initiative. Hopefully, Fair Chance Learning will document it all on their website so that other communities can enjoy the benefits and do something on their own in other locations.

If you’re going to the Bring IT, Together Conference, there might be an opportunity to see this first hand?


Irene learns about teaching: Part 1a
Irene learns about teaching – Part 1b

So, here the other two-parter from Irene Stewart and her work at St. Clair College.

In the first post, she talks about those favourite teachers and how they become a model for you. It was quite an easy process for me and two teachers most certainly sprang to mind. I have no question about how they were models for me as I became a teacher. I felt badly though because what I remember most is their lecturing approach. I like to think that my classrooms were more of an activity based environment. I do struggle to think of activities from these teachers. I know that they were there but they’re not what first springs to life.

The second post describes a pilot and then ultimately an implementation of a course, THRIVES, that delivers on the awareness of the college environment and what it will take for students to be successful. The numbers she describes blew me away. 1 000 students in a pilot. Then nine sections with a total of 6 000 students.

There is an interesting reflection about activity in the course and the quizzes involved in the timeline throughout. It’s a nice reflection and I’m sure helped move her thinking as she went from pilot to implementation.


P is for Patience

I check in with Lynn Thomas periodically as she works her way through the alphabet and shares her insights on the work she chose. In this case, the word is “Patience”.

Is it a requirement to be a teacher?

I’d go further than that … it may, in fact, it may well be the best attribute that any person who aspires to be a teacher should have. After all, as teachers, we absolutely know the content. The students, not so much, or not at all. Success comes as a result of the transfer or attitude, knowledge, and skills.

Every students proceeds at his/her own speed. There is no one speed fits all. The best teachers recognize this and exercise patience to make everyone successful.

Education, as we know it, can be counter to this at times. We have defined times for courses and grades and an assessment has to be given whether you’re ready or not.

As I noted last week, I’m not necessarily a fan of PD at staff meetings because it isn’t always applicable to all. This concept, however, would definitely be worthwhile doing.

I’ll bet this post gives you some inspiration for thought – both as teacher and as student.


Math Links for Week Ending Oct. 25th, 2019

If you are in need of a weekly shot of inspiration for Mathematics, then David Petro’s blog is the place to head.

This week, look for ideas about:

  • Desmos, turtles, and graphing
  • Autograph graphing software
  • GPS
  • Polar co-ordinates and patterns
  • Tetraflexagons
  • MakeMathMoments podcast
  • Tessellations

Even if you don’t use the ideas right away, there’s just the beauty of Mathematics to enjoy.


Dreaming is Free

Terry Greene uses a Blondie song to set the stage for a professional learning session.

I would have gone with Supertramp.

Terry got the chance to run a keynote address to staff. My guess is that this doesn’t happen all the time so he decided to make the most of it. (His slides are available here)

In the course of his talk, he addresses:

  • Learning Technology Bank
  • Digital Learning Allies
  • Ontario Extend 2020
  • Ontario Extend but for Students
  • Alternative Assessment Bank
  • Open Badging
  • Collaborative Word Spaces
  • Lecture Capture
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Design Sprints
  • The Teaching Hub
  • The Open Patchbooks
  • Lecturcizing
  • Always Open Digital Meeting Room

I’m tired just assembling that list! Of course, I wasn’t there but I can’t help but believe that any one of those topics would be keynote material.

I’m still pondering Lecturcizing.


I hope that you can find the time to enjoy all this fabulous content by clicking through and enjoying the original post.

Your last to-do for this morning is to make sure you’re following these accounts on Twitter.

  • @rchids
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @FCLEdu
  • @IrenequStewart
  • @THOMLYNN101
  • @davidpetro314
  • @greeneterry

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


It’s nice to be able to write this blog post knowing that the voicEd show actually worked yesterday unlike last week.

As always, some great thinking from Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on to enjoy.


When your plan is no longer the plan

From Paul McGuire, a post that could well have been titled “The Essence of Teaching”.  In this post, Paul shares with us an incident that happened in his university class.

A student wanted to time to share an issue that he was passionate about with the class and asked for the opportunity to share his insights.

Paul could have said “Sorry, we don’t have time for that” but that wasn’t the right answer.  Issues of the day, lives of students, and in this case, the future for these educators was more relevant and important than any teacher delivered lesson could be.  We talk so often about honouring student voice; here’s a great example.

Sometimes when something is bubbling just under the surface, a teacher has to know it is time to throw the lesson out the window and just let the learning happen.


WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY ABOUT STUDENT MARKS?

Big learning for me this week happened on this post from Stacey Vandenberg on the TESLOntario blog.

The inspiration for the post was a discussion about student marks and whether the teacher or the administrator should have the last say on what mark is assigned.  The context was the PBLA assessment for newcomers to Canada learning English.  I’d never heard of PBLA so did a lot of reading to get caught up to speed.

There is no argument that the instructor is in the class for the duration and is able to assess the ongoing progress and abilities of the students.  The instructor should be in the best possible position to determine the final grade.  And yet, it’s the administrator whose signature vouches for the result.

As noted in the post, it would be a very rare situation when the teacher’s professional judgement should be overruled.  Not only is it educationally sound not to do so, I can’t imagine the lack of enthusiasm for going into work the next day knowing that your abilities have been challenged or overruled.

In this case, I find it interesting that a mark would be assigned.  It seems to me that this is one case where PASS/FAIL would be the best way to report the results.


Another Year and The Unlearning Continues

If I had to go back to high school and take the Humanities, I’d want to be in Rebecca Chambers’ class.  Musty old history books have no place here.  The approach and the topics covered are very progressive and currently relevant.

Just look at a typical week.

  • Mondays – Get Organized
  • Tuesdays – Content Day
  • Wednesdays – Community Outreach
  • Thursdays & Fridays – Passion Project Days

You’ll have to click through and read the details which she fleshes out very nicely.  Of interest to this geeky person is how the use of current technologies is weaved through things.


I DON’T USE TEXTBOOKS

Oh, Melanie Lefebvre, where were you when I was in post secondary school?

It wasn’t until third year that I realized that many of the recommended books and readings that I had accumulated were sitting on my bookshelf largely unused.  The tutorial books, yes.  But the textbooks, nope.

I then realized late in my educational career that the books were available at the library or the bookstore had a used textbook sale where you could buy at the fraction of the cost.

Things definitely could be different today.  So many resources are available online; it’s almost criminal to pay for a textbook.  Not only that, but how dated would that textbook be – factor in the research, writing, publishing, and delivery times.  Melanie is able to use resources that might have been updated yesterday with her approach.

She talks about being accountable for the money that students would pay for textbooks but I think the accountability goes much further in the use of current resources and having students knowing how to access them.

After all, when they graduate and work in the “real world”, there is no textbook available.


Building a Google Site and Relationships with Parents

My admiration and edu-worship for Jennifer Aston went up another notch after reading this post from her.

The post describes an approach that she takes for a Meet the Teacher night.  There are so many ways that this night can be attacked.  Her approach was to create a collection of Centres using Google Sites for the teachers to explore.

It seems to me that this goes beyond “Meet the Teacher”.

  • It shows an approach that could be described as “Meet the Classroom”
  • It shows a level of sophistication in computer use that lets parents know that it will be used in a meaningful way
  • A followup with parents to help inform her direction for communication
  • And, of course, the thing that all parents dread “Kids these days are doing so much more than what we did in our day”

Preserving the Cup

It’s Beth Lyons week around here!  Read the interview with her that I posted yesterday here.

In addition to completing the interview, Beth had time to write a blog post in her thoughtful manner – this time the topic was about self-care.  It’s particularly timely since today (Thursday as I write this) is Mental Health Awareness Day.

A regular school year is always hard for teachers.  With its ups and downs, as Beth notes, you can feel particularly stretched.  And, if you’re feeling that way in the first part of October, what’s it going to be like later in the year?

This fall, of course, is particularly stressful for teachers and education workers with the expiry of collective agreements and the posturing that’s taking place on a daily basis.

Teachers do need to take care of themselves and their colleagues.  After all, you’re together for 8 or more hours a day and should be able to see things and provide the best supports.


THE MEDICINE WHEEL VS MASLOW’S HIERACHY OF NEEDS

As I was monitoring my Twitter network yesterday, the name Liv Rondeau popped by.  This was a new educator for me so I added her to an Ontario Educator list and noticed that she had a blog and web presence so I took it all in.

This post really caught my interest.  I know that it’s over a year old but it was the first time that I had seen it so it was new to me!

The description of the Medicine Wheel and the doors was new to me and so I read it with deep interest.  Liv ties it to Maslow’s Needs which I certainly am well aware of.

Her explanations were well crafted and ultimately brought us into the classroom and servicing the needs of children.

At points, I felt like I was learning Maslow all over again; it was such a different context for me.

Take a poke around the website when you get there.  There is an interesting collection of resources and lesson plans for Grades 5 and 6 available.


Please take some time to click through and enjoy all of these posts at their original site.  Like all weeks, there’s some awesome learning to be had.

And, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • @mcguirp
  • @TESLontario
  • @MrsRChambers
  • @ProfvocateMel
  • @mme_aston
  • @mrslyonslibrary
  • @MissORondeau

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

An Interview with Beth Lyons


Elizabeth Lyons  is a teacher-librarian with Peel Schools and also a mom, wife, reader, maker, and inquiry thinker according to her Twitter Bio.  Our paths have crossed in a few different contexts and her blog is always interesting to read.

Beth

Do you remember when we first met?

Beth: I believe that we met at EdCamp London for the first time. It was actually right at the end of the day, which was unlucky timing! Since then we have “met” a few times virtually through VoicEd Radio and on Twitter. 

Doug:  That’s my memory too.  Thanks to our friend Stephen for introducing us.  How about when our paths first crossed online? That might be a little more difficult.

Beth: That’s a tricky question… I would say that it was definitely on Twitter, perhaps one of your Friday Follow posts. Or from an interview you did with Carol Koechlin. 

Doug:  In fact, you were mentioned in my interview with Carol Koechin (https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/an-interview-with-carol-koechlin/) as a teacher-librarian in the province to keep an eye on.  What do you think makes you stand out in Carol’s eyes?

Beth: First of all, I would like to say that to be mentioned in Carol’s interview was a huge honour. I like to think that Carol mentioned me because I share often about my journey as a teacher-librarian and the transition of our library space to a library learning commons. I’m very open with my learning and progress as I had many people who helped me as I started out on my journey. As part of the transition we adopted a completely open and flexible collaboration schedule and, because I am a 1.0 teacher-librarian, I am able to co-plan and co-teach with the educators in our school on a wide variety of content areas. We have been able to try out new ways of using the makerspace and maker inquiry to connect to our literacy, social studies and science curriculum. 

Doug:  I could see how that would raise Carol’s interest.

It was a delight to have you online with Stephen and me as a guest on the voicEd Radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs this past summer. We featured one of your blog posts on the show.  How was it talking about your own blog instead of just writing a post?

Beth: It was an interesting experience, to be sure. I think it worked nicely because I had written about listening to podcasts as professional development and how it feels as though it has helped me to improve my verbal communication skills. I think, that by listening to podcasts, I am better able to listen to the ideas of others in order to take in their ideas and opinions. Time to reflect is always a good thing in my opinion so it was interesting to go back and talk about my blog post that I had written a number of weeks previously. I really enjoyed the opportunity to connect my thoughts to the blogs of other educators who had written along a similar vein. It’s probably something I am doing each time I read a blog post or a new article but I don’t often get the chance to discuss my ideas with others. 

Doug:  In terms of voicEd Radio, you’re a regular contributor for music selections to Stephen’s Saturday night music show.  He claims you’re his country music expert! Tell me what that means?

Beth: That makes me smile! There was a time when I was younger that I wasn’t always so forthcoming with my love for country music as it didn’t seem “cool”. I suppose as I’ve grown older I am more comfortable with my own taste in music and care less what people think of it. It’s also funny because music isn’t actually one of my biggest hobbies. There are artists and songs that I like and that I will listen to over and over 

Sometimes I will go days without listening to any music at all.

Doug:  We definitely differ there.  I always have to have music on in the background when I’m working, it seems. 

In one of your blog posts, you showed us a picture of your library which you indicated can be easily transformed from one layout to another.  Can you describe for us what that means and how it works?

Beth: So many of the definitions of a “library learning commons” includes the idea that is a flexible space. In our library, most of the shelving and furniture is on wheels which means I can open the space up for an audience of 125 or so students to participate in an author visit, a musical performance, large scale inquiries and more. It also means that I can easily change the layout of our space to highlight different provocations by moving the tables or tinkering stations. We are lucky in that our library learning commons is very large – one side is where the books are mainly stored and the other is a table space that can be used for classes to participate in maker activities and other learning endeavors. This allows for consistent free flow book exchange and collaborative inquiry to happen simultaneously. 

Speaker

Doug:  That is so interesting.  Your comment about “our library” as opposed to “my library” is not lost on me.  I’m always interested when someone shares their philosophy behind their classroom design. 

Beth:  When I first transitioned into the role and was speaking with Jenn Brown she used a great phrase that has stuck with me and helped me to frame my philosophy about being the teacher-librarian. She said (and I’ll be paraphrasing at this point) that “the teacher-librarian curates the library on behalf of the community.” First, I just love how that all sounds together and secondly, it’s very true. The library belongs to the users and in a school that is the students, the educators and our broaded family community.

Doug:  If someone dropped into your library without notice on any given day, what would their first impression be?

Beth: Well, I hope it would be that the students are central in the space. Since moving into the teacher-librarian role, I have worked to help the students and educators see that the library learning commons is a shared space that we are responsible for the care of the books and the space. Students come into the space independently in small groups to exchange their books or interact with one of many stations. We have a variety of building areas, Lego, a light table, loose parts and other provocations set up based on different themes and inquiry questions. Secondly, most people comment on how big and open the space is. The main book area is a large circular room with a beautiful mural painted on it depicting the four seasons. The books shelves protrude off the walls like spokes which creates small nooks for students to read, tinker and explore. We also have a large classroom area set up with tables and a carpet for classes to use during collaborative inquiry or other lessons. This is also where the Genius Cart, which is an open making program we launched last year, is run from. Our collection of maker space materials are housed on the classroom side and available for classes to use as needed. 

Maker

Doug:  What’s missing from your library?

Beth: Tech integration or free tech use. We have 5 iPads and 4 Chromebooks in the library designated for library use. One of my goals this year is to have the tech more freely available for students when they visit the library for projects or other tech exploration.

Doug:  You mentioned above that your teaching load is 100% in the library.  What does this mean for a typical school day?

Beth:  Yes, this is one of the greatest privileges I have as a teacher-librarian. I am not directly responsible for any curriculum as I do not cover any classes and am not required to cover planning times. The biggest benefit of this is that I am in the library learning commons for the full day, every day and, as long as it’s not my planning time, the library is open for free flow book exchange and collaboration. 

Doug:  Just today, you announced that your proposal to speak at the OLA Superconference was accepted.  Congratulations. I’ve presented there twice. It’s an amazing experience. Can you give us a sneak peek about what to expect from your session?  

Beth:  Our presentation is called Snap, Spark, Provoke: Exploring Identity and Text with Provocations and Photography. A number of us in Peel have been working with students to explore their own identity and the identities of others in our communities through photography. We have been using picture books to present a diverse array of cultures and connections to those around us. We will be exploring how, by using hands-on materials (e.g. loose parts) and digital provocations (e.g. photography, photo editing, videos), we can spark inquiry and prompt deeper questions about who we are as humans and how we interact with each other. 

Doug:  Wow, that’s really a unique sounding session.  You’re not presenting alone. How did you connect with your co-presenters?

Beth: I’m presenting with Tina Zita (@tina_zita) and Jane Dennis-Moore (@MsDennisMoore). Tina and I met a number of years ago when she was the Technology Resource Teacher for my school. Since then we have kept in touch through Twitter and at various PD sessions. Last year, Tina was working with another Peel educator looking at selfies, and specifically “unselfies”- that is pictures without a person in it. She messaged a few of us about exploring this idea with students in our buildings. Jane and I had “met” on Twitter previously but this created a space for more lengthy collaboration (and lots of DMs back and forth). We actually created our proposal and submitted for OLASC20 before Jane and I ever met face-to-face!

Doug:  That’s amazing.  I wish the three of you a great session and an opportunity to inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

I know you’re passionate about school libraries.  Can you share some of this with us?

Beth:  Such a big question! I’ve wanted to be a teacher-librarian for just about as long as I can remember. My aunt, who lived next door to me growing up, was a teacher-librarian and I remember that she always had books around her, she always had something cool to teach us, and that she was always talking about kids. My mom was also a huge believer in the public library and we went all the time. I remember reading my way through the entire kids’ section and then asking the librarian what I could read next. My favourite thing about being in the school library is seeing the kid’s excitement. When they come in and find the book they’ve been wanting is in and on the shelf, it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s a similar feeling when they discover a new passion and are blown away to learn that yes, we do have entire section on rocks and minerals and that they can read as many of the books as they like. Watching the students advocate for their own learning and passions is the greatest privilege of being in the school library. 

Gizmos

I also love that the library learning commons is a space from which educators can be co-learners and that, as the teacher-librarian, I am in the place to coach, guide and support my fellow educators. I’ve written about this on my blog before but when you are in the classroom it’s like juggling just about a million balls at one time. You are responsible for multiple curriculums, most likely at multiple grade levels. You have the well-being and mental health of your students to be aware of as well as helping to guide them socially. How do we behave towards each other? How do we create a welcoming and inclusive community. Teachers are constantly assessing, documenting, reflecting, questioning and wondering all about their students and their progress and it doesn’t always leave a lot of time to try out a new and innovative idea. Sometimes it does and many educators are adept at adding a new ball to the juggling act by exploring how they can integrate maker opportunities into their literacy program, how they can teach math from an inquiry stance while integrating social justice issues, etc. But teachers are human and their mental health is important, too. We can’t always be adding and adding to their plate and expect that all the balls will continue to spin perfectly. As the teacher-librarian, I l am able to read up on the newest ideas, to read PD books during the school year and play around with the ideas I get excited about. Being in the Library Learning Commons is a lot about building relationships with both the students and educators in the school. In doing so, I am able to reach out to colleagues that I know are ready to try something new, perhaps are ready to be “pushed” a little beyond what they are already trying but they just haven’t found the time to squeeze it in to the other millions of things they have on the go. This is where the teacher-librarian and the school library can become a place of co-learning. I can be the one to attempt something new with the class and if it flops, it’s on me and I’ll own that in front of the students. I tell kids all the time that we are trying something new and I have no idea what end we might get to. The school library is a place where we can take risks and push ourselves to grow and I take that responsibility seriously. 

Share

Doug:  I’ll ask you the same question I asked of Carol.  If you were shortlisting Ontario Twitter Teacher-Librarian accounts to follow, who would make that list?

Beth: 
Jenn Brown 
@JennMacBrownI had the great luck to work with Jenn at a previous school where she was the teacher-librarian and she has been an invaluable resource and support since I moved into the teacher-librarian role. Jenn consistently pushes me to stretch my thinking and look at ways that I can use my privilege to elevate the voices of others. I always feel that I am learning when I am with Jenn and am proud to also call her a friend. 

Christopher Hunt (not Ontario, but still Canadian!)
@ExLibrisMrHuntI really enjoy following Christopher’s Twitter feed and seeing the new ideas he is trying out. I always come away with new thinking and a new idea I can mull over and see how it might fit in our library space.

Karen Beamish
@KlblibKaren is a fellow Peel TL and I have enjoyed getting to know her via Twitter. We are both interested in integrating the SDGs into our library programming and I like seeing what she’s trying out. 

Rabia Khokhar
@rabia_khokhar1–  I love seeing what Rabia is up to in the library space and how she is working to bring in diverse voices through picture books and inquiries with her students. She is an excellent example in how school libraries can be at the forefront of social justice and equity issues. 

Geoff Ruggero
@MrRuggeroI really enjoy the maker based provocations and learning that Geoff often tweets about and his wide variety of reading. Lately, he’s been tweeting each of the books he’s read as part of a 50 Book Challenge and although I don’t often share my thoughts on books (beyond just saying I love it), I do really enjoy learning about new books through other educators. 

Doug:  Thank you for that!  I just found some new people to follow on Twitter.

Your blog is called “The Librarian’s Journey”.  That’s an interesting title. Where did your “journey” start and where is it headed?  How will you know when you get there?

Beth: I think my journey started as a child when I first started visiting libraries. In terms of actually being a teacher-librarian, I have had the honour of working in a number of schools with great teacher-librarians over the course of my time teaching. I always looked for opportunities to co-plan and co-teach and learn from the time spent with those teacher-librarians. To be honest I’m not really sure where my journey is headed. I am exploring opportunities to work more closely with the Ontario School Library Council and am planning to submit an action research paper for Treasure Mountain 2020. Beyond that, I am still very much invested in the transition of the library learning commons at my school and meeting the goals we have set for ourselves. Do we ever “get there” with our learning? I hope not. I hope that I never stop learning and growing. Each time we reach a goal that has been set or reflect on a goal that needs to be reworked, it’s an opportunity to continue and stretch as an educator and as a human. 

Doug:  On the voicEd show, I mentioned how I find it difficult to read your blog posts because of your formatting.  It seems to me that’s a pretty intentional move. Can you explain?

Beth: It’s definitely intentional as I centre my writing on purpose. I find that as I am writing there are certain phrases and ideas that I want to highlight or linger on for my own thinking and reflection. I like how I can create blocks of text that connect together or separate an idea off to the side. I’m sorry that you find it hard to read. I could always send you a doc with everything formatted with a left alignment! LOL

Doug:  No, you don’t have to do that.  I just find that your style forces me to slow down as I’m reading.  Not all blogs do that to me. Regardless, your blog always has interesting posts and well worth a regular visit to see what you’re talking about next.  Thanks for doing that. Are you inspired by other blogs?

Beth: I think lately we all need something to slow us down…  I do really enjoy reading blogs and learning from other people’s points of view but I have found that I’m at a point right now that it’s not something I make a priority, to be honest. I do try to read Aviva Dunsiger’s blog (and really all her posts on both Twitter and Instagram!) as well as Diana Maliszewski’s. I love Aviva’s approach to documenting her students’ learning and her wonderings/reflections. She is definitely an educator that I hope to meet one day. I admire Diana’s dedication to always blogging on Mondays about her thoughts and learning from the previous week. I wish that I was able to formulate my thoughts each week into a blog post and have that kind of commitment to my writing. 

Doug:  Most definitely, those two blogs are great exemplars.  Thanks for sharing them. No pressure at all has been placed on Aviva or Diana!

Thank you so much for interview, Beth.  It was fun to find out a little more about you and your educational passions.

You can get or stay connected with Beth through:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mrslyonslibrary
Blog:  https://thelibrariansjourney.blogspot.com/

This post is part of a series of blog posts that I conduct regularly with interesting people like Beth.  You can check out previous interviews here: https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Can you believe that it’s August already? I could swear that I saw my breath while walking the dog this morning. That’s not right either.

I’m also trying out a new resolution that I used to expouse all the time but don’t do it enough myself until I fell into the trap last week – save early, save often.

What is right are the great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on…


Final Thoughts

I just found out about this blog from Shyama Sunder. It’s a wrap up summary and reflection of her time in EDU 498, a course taken a while ago at a Faculty of Education. Unless I missed it, the actual name of the Faculty didn’t appear anywhere but that’s OK.

The content is a summary of four modules taken. There is a nice summary of each of the modules and the enthusiasm she has comes through loudly and clearly.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a fan of the SAMR model but it was included as content. If it had any value, I would see if as helpful for experienced teachers trying to embrace technology. I don’t see the wisdom of talking about it to teachers learning how to teach. Why not just teach how to do it properly to begin with? What value is there in demonstrating less than exemplary lessons?

In the post, Shyama makes reference to a book that everyone needs to read “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job” by Yong Zhao, Goaming Zhang, Jing Lei, and Wei Qiu. That’s a book that should be in every school library and would make for an awesome and progressive book talk.

This blog is referenced on her Twitter profile and there’s no forwarding address. It would be interesting to see her pick up blogging in her professional life.


BOOKMARKS ON TWITTER

Jamey Byers wrote this post so that others wouldn’t have to!

I remember being at a conference once – I think it was in Denver – and Robert Martellacci came up to me and asked if I knew that one of the prominent speakers had liked a link from an adult film star showing a picture of herself. I hadn’t noticed; I’m not in the habit of checking out what people have saved as liked. Maybe I should?

Actually, maybe I should check what I’ve got in my likes! Phew. Other than some egotistic stuff, I think I’m good. (I’m also snooty – go back to the very first one!)

Jamey points out that there’s a new, more private feature available to us on Twitter.

With the addition of the bookmarks function in Twitter you now have the ability to not only like a tweet, but to save it to your private list of bookmarks that are strictly just for your eyes only.

I wonder how many people are using the feature. I’m certainly not. Maybe I should.


The Playful Approach to Math

Matthew Oldridge is now playing in the big leagues with this post on Edutopia. I remember when he was a guy I interviewed for this blog.

He brings his obvious love and passion for Mathematics to this new forum and I hope that people are inspired by his wisdom. Comments are not allowed so there’s no traditional way of knowing.

Truer words were never spoken than these…

The amount of play in “serious” academic topics like mathematics is inversely proportional, it seems, to the age of students, but this does not have to be the case. A playful pedagogy of mathematics can be codified and made real, rigorous, and authentic.

I’ve studied a lot of mathematics over the years and certainly those teachers/professors that I remember best love mathematics; it came across that way, and their playful approach made learning fun and worthwhile.

Can you think of a better testament to give an educator?


My device. My terms. 3 strategies for finding balance.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of those people that I’ve seldom met in real life and yet I feel like I know so much about her. She was another person I had the opportunity to interview. I also had the opportunity to help with her book Social LEADia. This should be on bookshelves everywhere.

I enjoy her writing and most of her posts come across as a personal message to me. Such in the power of her writing.

I struggle with the notion of “balance”. The current context is that it involves being connected and not doing other things – like reading a book. I’m always leary of people who make such claims. Isn’t it just exchanging one form of engagement for another? And, hasn’t social media engagement earned its way into our lives?

I like Jennifer’s reasoned approach…

Social media is here to stay and is a part of the fabric of business, politics, and education. Instead of a fast, I suggest the following strategies:

You’ll have to read her post to see if the strategies make sense to you!


When friendship lasts

without warning or explanation, they started talking and, just like that, resumed their friendship from three years ago when they were six. Hours later, after the park, the corner store, the house; after basketball and jungle gyms and ice cream; after talking and laughing and wrestling, they parted reluctantly, already asking when they could see each other again.

Here’s a quote from Amanda Potts’ recent post.

I’ll bet that you could drop that sentence into any conversation or writing that you might have and provide your own characters.

It might be:

  • meeting up at an annual conference
  • a class reunion from your old high school
  • reuniting with a staff after a summer vacation

and the list goes on. Friendship is such an tangible and yet intangible concept. This post describes a pair of friendships that easily fall into the above.

Those on Facebook will know that a friend to many will be returning to Canada after a couple of years overseas. I’ll bet we all will reunite in this fashion at the Bring IT, Together Conference.


The #UWinToolParade: Open Pedagogy as #OER

In the beginning, there were shiny things. People flocked to shiny things and made a place in the classroom whether they were good or not. I’m looking at you – Clickers.

As shiny things kept on invading classrooms, the good thinkers got us thinking that maybe we should be looking beyond these things into exactly how they are used, are they effective, are they worth the cost, etc.

We never looked back. Well, at ISTE there are still 30 tools in 30 minutes sessions. For the most part, we never looked back.

So, now comes Bonnie Stewart and

I have a new project I’m really excited about. Even if it kinda goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve said about tech in education over the past, uh, decade.

I’ve read this post at least a dozen times and there are so many out of post links that will take you to rabbit holes that didn’t know they were hosting rabbits!

The proposed results?

The fact that it’s 2019 is loud and clear with the inclusion of “data surveillance”.

This looks incredibly interesting and will use social media for good for the description and dissemination of content. Read the post and get ready to follow. And, Bonnie is looking for some pilot locations if you’re interested.


Reflections from the Tech Guy

This TWIOE post seems to have been focused on people I’ve interviewed! This time, it’s David Carruthers.

As we’ve noticed recently, David is going to be doing some magic as he returns to the classroom after having been the “Tech Guy” at the board office for a while.

He sets the standard with his bottom line.

Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.

Some words of advice here – you’ll always be known as the “Tech Guy” so wear it. There are worse things to be known for. You’ve built relationships throughout your district so don’t be surprised when you get some panic emails for help. I still get them. The most enjoyable are about report cards which have had many incarnations since I last formally supported them. The really cool thing happens when these relationships develop your learning because someone wants to share something new with you.

On a political note, things are likely to be difficult for a while as cutbacks affect districts throughout the province. I hope that school districts are wise enough to continue to put insightful “Tech Guys” in areas of support centrally. We know that anyone can click a mouse or use a keyboard these days. True progress comes when you have people like David that see the connection and the potential because they bring a strong background in teaching to such a support position.


As always, there’s a powerful collection of thoughts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers. Make sure you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @ssunderaswara
  • @mrJameyByers
  • @matthewoldridge
  • @jcasatodd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @bonstewart
  • @dcarruthersedu

This post originated on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Creative Coding in Python


I ran into Sheena Vaidyanathan at the recently CSTA Conference. (See my interview with her here. It includes links to resources that she’s created.)

Now, running into Sheena isn’t strange; she’s a regular at this conference. It was the circumstance that was strange. Just five minutes before I saw her, I had cleaned up the check-in desk and saw that someone had left a book on the counter. It was called “Creative Coding in Python” and written by Sheena with a 2019 Copyright.

I had a quick flip through the book, noting all the colourful pages and then put it on the back shelf for the owner to claim it.

When I saw Sheena, I figured she had to be the owner and was showing it off. I had a quick discussion about it, thinking that she was selling them at the conference but no, she wasn’t. And, this copy wasn’t hers. She told me to take it if nobody came looking for it.

Fortunately for me, I guess, nobody came to ask about it so it came home with me and provided me with the chance to read it cover to cover on the flight home. Now, I did have a couple of other books on my iPad to read that would be considered more recreational but I’ve given up being worried about looking geeky long ago!

I was nicely surprised with the format. I’ll admit, your typical Computer Science book isn’t exactly a page turner! But this one was. I didn’t have Python on my computer to try the examples but I did them in my head and it wasn’t long before I was at the end of the book.

I found the content a nice combination of old and new school content. I wondered to myself if you actually had to be old school to recognize the old school content.

There are five chapters, each devoted to a specific content that introduced and expanded on the concepts.

  • Chapter 1 – Create your own chatbots
  • Chapter 2 – Create your own art masterpieces
  • Chapter 3 – Create your own adventure games
  • Chapter 4 – Create your own dice games
  • Chapter 5 – Create your own apps and games

As to be expected, new concepts are added as you go along and the programs become more sophisticated as you work your way through the book. In the side columns, Sheena introduces and fleshes our computer concepts along the way.

So, who is the audience? Sheena teaches middle school and the writing level and activities would fit very nicely there. Of course, there are all kinds of tools for development of code in Python; she goes conservative and talks about using IDLE. I could see this book being used as a reference for a teacher learning and using Python with students. I could also see it being in the Resource Centre for students to check out if their regular classes are using a block based application for those who want to go further.

Of course, keeping with tradition, the first program is a “Hello world”.

The book is available through Amazon here. Click the cover and explore things.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday of great reading from some of the group of Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you find some inspiration and ideas from these posts I’ve read recently.


The value of the Exit Interview

You know, I’ve “exited” a number of jobs of various sorts but have never had an exit interview that I can remember. I think we all take a job and like to think we’re going to leave things better off than they were before we started. And, probably things were never finished and we had plans on how to improve and make things better for whoever follows us.

I guess maybe it doesn’t happen because it takes a courageous person to conduct the interview knowing that all of the comments might not be positive.

Ann Marie Luce is having a turnover of 20 teachers at her school and she is conducting exit interviews. Each is given 40 minutes for the interview so if you do the math, it’s a pretty big commitment.

In the post, she does describe her philosophy and reasons for doing this, as well as the questions used to frame the discussion.

I hope that the experience gives her much rich feedback to enable her to create an even better learning experience for her students.


The Open Learner Patchbook Went To The PressEd Conference

Sort of related to this is this post from Terry Greene at the PressEd Conference. Terry describes the open patchwork project and how it’s used to collect thoughts from post-secondary students as they handle their time at school.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own post-secondary experience. It was anything but the environment of today’s student. We weren’t connected; we didn’t have open courses; we didn’t have instructors that were putting their learning online as they were teaching.

We were, I guess, what you would call pretty traditional. Our resources involved textbooks, professors, and teaching assistants. They certainly weren’t available 24/7 and just a click away. You had to make appointments for consults and it was for a specific time.

All of this was running through my mind as I enjoyed the curation of student content that Terry did for this. We’re anywhere but in Kansas anymore!

A highlight from this post was this great graphic by Samantha Pitcher.


A Day (or three) in the Life of this Grosvenor Teacher Fellow

With apologies to Peter Cameron, I expected a summary of life online for whatever the topic happened to be.

NOT!

Peter, along with a number of other educators were rewarded for their work by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions with a nature learning trip to Sitka, Alaska.

A lesser classroom would have had plans for an occasional teacher while their regular teacher was out on a Professional Learning activity. Not in Mr. Cameron’s.

Peter had the students doing research and plotted the entire adventure on a Google Tour Builder. He remained connected to the classroom via social media.

Peter’s adventure

Everyone sure seemed to get a great deal of bang for their educational buck.

It’s just too bad that, to get to Seattle from Thunder Bay, you have to go through Toronto.


H is for Happy

I keep checking in to Lynn Thomas’ blog as she’s working her way through the alphabet. Recently, she’s celebrating H.

Her take was that “H was for Happy”.

The whole premise was that happy students and happy environments make for the best learning environment. I think it’s difficulty to disagree, especially when you look at the opposite – what does unhappiness in the classroom or your life bring? Certainly not the desire to learn.

Turns out, it has far more to offer than a sunny disposition and feeling contented. Parents are right to want happiness in their children albeit it is unlikely they know the science of why.

Her approach goes way beyond scratching the surface and brings into play research into happiness. There are lots of links to lots of resources to make it worth your while – including lesson plans and resources for teaching happiness.


Sharing the LLC Space- An Advocate’s Infographic

There’s nothing quite like a look into someone’s library. Beth Lyons takes us inside hers. Take a peek.

By itself, a picture or two may not tell the whole story and advocating for her learning space is the major focus here. Beth shares a couple of custom infographics that she created to share with everyone the great learning and the great opportunities that are there inside Mrs. Lyon’s library.

I can’t help but think that those infographics should be posted in every classroom in the school to help students as they turn to assignments and projects and they’re wondering where they might begin.

There’s much to enjoy about this advocacy post. Obviously, the infographic, but the social media connection is right there. This library won’t get lost!

Shouldn’t everyone be doing this?


The Caterpillar Math Problem: Is it possible to be unbiased in our assessment?

I suspect that the quick and easy answer is “Of course, we are unbiased.” Read on with this long discussion from Debbie Donsky. Her school did more than skim the surface on this question.

It starts with caterpillar problems offered to different classes.

The series of questions shared with staff were:

K-1: A kindergarten class needs 2 leaves each day to feed 1 caterpillar. How many leaves would they need each day for 3 caterpillars?

Grades 2- 3: A third grade class needs four leaves each day to feed its two caterpillars. How many leaves would they need each day for 12 caterpillars?

Grades 4–6: A fifth grade class needs five leaves each day to feed its two caterpillars. How many leaves would they need each day for a) 12 caterpillars? b)15 caterpillars?

The questions were given and observations with discussions during a debriefing are shared in this post.

Debbie shares a deep analysis of the process and the discussion. It wouldn’t be fair for me to try and capture that here; you’ll have to click through and read it in all its original context on the post.


Web Intentions

Sheila Stewart starts with

I have been thinking about my experiences online and on social media in the past few years and what has impacted my experiences and participation.  There is a lot of pondering: “Is it just me, or is it the web?”; “Is it the world, or the web?”; “Have ‘things’ changed, or have I?” 

I guess I can take a bit of the credit for starting this thinking on a recent blog post but I was originally inspired by the writing of Bonnie Stewart. To answer Sheila’s questions, working and interacting on line have definitely changed.

And, I mean working and interacting in the most literal of meanings. When the sample who were online and connected was smaller, I think that people were more devoted and focussed about what they were doing – and were serious about it.

Today, there are more people than ever connected and they bring abilities and mindsets from all over the place. It’s easy to see a few (I was going to use the word “bad actors” but that’s maybe not fair) different actors use the technology and its abilities to do things far differently from what we did. As I said in my post, people seem to need to shock and scream loudly to get attention focused on them. Whatever happened to collaboration? Maybe that’s a topic for a Sunday.

I’ll bet that a read of Sheila’s post will have you scratching your head and coming up with your own theories.


I hope that you have time this Friday or through the weekend to take a few clicks and enjoy these posts in their original locations.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is a recurring Friday morning post highlighting some of the great blogging happening in Ontario. Are you an Ontario blogger that I don’t know about? Let me know! I’d love to add you to this collection. There’s a form at the link above to add your details.

This post appeared originally at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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