This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time for our weekly wander around Ontario and see what great Ontario Edubloggers have been up to.  There’s always something great going on and this week is no exception.

Read on …

BYOD. It’s not about the device until it’s the device.

Cal Armstrong builds a case for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) but under certain conditions.

Left unchecked, he sees a world of increased stress for teachers who have to support a multitude of platforms and issues.  Things like what application should be used could be crucial to this without careful planning.  Of course, a concerted effort to put everything in the cloud could solve at least part of this.

At Appleby College, all students have the same device in the classroom so one instruction like moving to tablet mode is similar for all students.  He points to how easily he was able to solve problems like a lost stylus or a discharged computer.  It was relatively easy to solve since the “D” was the same in all classes.

It’s a post that should give planners some thought.  Could Appleby’s solution fit into other schools by taking the “YO” out of “BYOD”?

The quick and easy answer is no – the big reason being financial – but the post is still worthy of a read and a way to think about how to change the way that you’re working with what you have.  Is there a middle ground?

Make sure that you keep the “B” though.


This is a very timely post from ECOO Past-President Mark Carbone as we’re on the eve of Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code.  There will be many people taking on coding next week and the school’s Sphero(s) may get a great workout.

Mark tells a story of two different Sphero challenges and explains why he likes how the process has evolved.

What I like is the mindset behind this.

For many, the activity could be “one and done”.  This whole process shows how people are rethinking things and making the challenge better.  There appears to be more rigor in the second version (don’t tell the students) and they’re up for the challenge.

Can you say that you’ve raised the bar in your Hour of Code activities?

The End of School Resource Officers in Toronto District Public Schools

Paul McGuire isn’t afraid to share his opinion on the issues of the day.  The current issue is around the Toronto District School Board’s decision to remove School Resource Officers from their schools.

Paul’s logic is based upon his experience of using the officers for what he sees as a positive experience, giving examples.

There is another side to the issue, of course.  Not everyone sees the presence of the officers in the schools as positive.  TDSB surveyed their clientele to find opinions to find that there were concerns that the program had an adverse effect on certain students.  If we want to see all students succeed, we must make sure that all students feel safe and supported in their school and recommendations were made.

Now that the program has been cancelled, the challenge will be for students to act responsibly and prove that the decision made was correct.

The whole thing has been an exercise in media literacy as well.  Search the contents of Toronto newspapers and you will find differing opinions.  It’s an opportunity to bring this into the classroom and talk about perspectives and perhaps even writing letters to the editors to provide things from a student rather than an administrative perspective.

Conversations about culturally responsive pedagogy

Deborah McCallum, who has been featured regularly on #TWIOE, was the inspiration for this post from the TDSB Professional Library.

Deborah McCallum writes, “I question whether I, as a White, female, Canadian, English-speaking person, can adequately facilitate the increase of assessment scores in math for students who have different identities and cultural groups.

The response?

A collection of resources to help answer the question.


Are these books available in your own district’s or school’s professional library?

It’s Conference Time!

It certainly is.  The fall is the perfect time for some professional learning that you can take back to your classroom with an eye towards improving classroom practice.

Arianna Lambert agrees and uses this post to elaborate.

In it, she identifies three things from her perspective as both a presenter and as an attendee.

  1. The Power of Story
  2. Being Open to New Learning
  3. Network, Network, and Network

This time, I get to agree with her.

  1.  I’m always impressed when a speaker takes me on a ride with her/him as relevant stories are used to deliver the message
  2. I always try to seek out sessions that I suspect will challenge me and push my thinking.  I can’t see going to a conference to attend a session that delivers a message that I’m already confident in
  3. In 2017, networking is key.  The value of a conference today goes far beyond sitting and listening to one or two people.  It’s about making those connections with others.  It’s almost a shame to go home without expanding your network and then make it work for you far beyond the two or three days of the conference

Important People, Disembodied Participants and Fun in the Sun

For some reason, Diana Maliszewski decided to go to warm and sunny Phoenix instead of joining us in blustery Niagara Falls to attend a library conference.

Her post affirms Arianna’s point number 3 above and shares with us some of the connections that she made while she was there.

The Ontario connection though is heart-warming.  She takes the opportunity to give shout-outs to the best of Ontario Educators that came across during this conference experience.

Great stuff.

Are you on Diana’s list?

Learning is Social

In time to affirm the messages from Arianna and Diana, comes this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd.

In a course that she’s taking, she’s had to do some reading and reflecting on some articles.

She does this nicely in this blog post.

Social media connections serve to complement in-class connections as well. Students’ shared experience connecting with others can bring a class together. I have seen this happen on several occasions especially when time is given to reflect on the process.

The post wasn’t hard for me to read since I am totally onside with her message.

But I had to give a bit of a smile as I read.  What would happen if we changed every reference to “teacher” to “administrator” or “professional developer” and every reference to “student” to “teacher”?  Does the post now become a blueprint for more effective professional learning?

If it does, what doesn’t it happen?

Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers above.  Click through to their original posts and read their wisdom in their entirety.  You’ll be glad you did.

And, why not follow these people on Twitter?

If you can, join Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio on Wednesday mornings or repeated through the week where we use some of these posts as a launching point for discussions.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Friday!  And another chance to take a wander around the province looking at the great things that have appeared on the blogs of great Ontario Edubloggers.  I hope that you can find time today or on the weekend to check these out.

Un système d’excellence, pas une brosse à poissons

I thought that I had read every possible angle to professional learning until I read this post from Joel McLean.  I understand, and actually live, his description about keeping dandelions off my lawn.  The lawn does indeed look good when it’s freshly cut.  But then, they come back.  <grrrr>

I think that most professional learning facilitators can see their world in this way.  For that moment during the cutting/learning session or immediately afterwards, things look good.  But then, the dandelions come back.  It takes a bigger, systemic approach to really make the change to your lawn that you want.

I’d actually seen this analogy before.

But, what I hadn’t seen was the discussion of cleaning the fish tank.  Read it and see if it doesn’t bring to mind professional learning sessions you’ve attended.

You’ll smile; I’m sure you’ll nod; and you’ll now have a great analogy for change.


Andy Forgrave jumped in with a post in response to my post bemoaning the lack of formal keyboarding instruction.  And, I think he agrees with me judging by his concluding sentence.

Touch-typing/copy-typing remains a valuable skill in 2017, and kids should learn it early on, to supplement the continually improving methods of voice-input.

But, in getting there, be prepared for a history of keyboarding efforts in the province.

  • Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
  • Almena
  • Dragon Natural Speaking
  • Read and Write for Google Chrome

We saw eye to eye on the hunter and pecker approach but he offered a new mode – the Columbus method.

The bottom line is that we need to find some way to have students acquire these skills.  In the past, we’ve learned to print and then learned cursive.  Cursive is all but gone.  If we think the natural transition is printing to keyboarding, there has to be a way to support it.

Our discussion turned to programming where you use brackets and parentheses quite a bit and Andy shared this resource if you’re going to use Siri for dictation.

Defining Moments

The meme continues!

This time from Tina Zita who apologizes for not having five.  That’s OK; the three that she offers could easily be expanded to five if meeting quota was a requirement for posting.  Fortunately, it isn’t.

Check out her thoughts about

  • Wait
  • Community

and the other one.

Once again, I’ll bet that you see elements of yourself in her post.  This meme has been great for reflection and further thinking.

If you haven’t written a post of your own, please consider doing it.

Appreciating My Circumstances

I love this post and its honesty from Eva Thompson.  I made myself a note – everyone should be able to write a post like this.

And, if you can’t, you should consider getting a different job.


Experience is always priceless in teaching.  Oh, and the ability to see the future.

Regardless of how difficult or challenging the current moment might be, good teachers always see the best on the horizon.

Take a moment and reflect on how you appreciate your current circumstances.  You may not put it to a blog post like Eva did, but I’ll bet that there are so many things that you value.

Conferences Long Ago and Coming Up as Practical PD

Diana Maliszewski takes us on a trip of her professional learning experiences for this fall.  I think it’s exciting that she and her daughter will be headed to Phoenix.

This is why I decided that for this school year (2017-2018) the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) conference in Phoenix would be my only big library conference. I am paying all the expenses associated with attending AASL myself (flight, registration in ALA, registration for the conference, accommodations, and food). That’s a lot of money, especially considering that my daughter will be accompanying me as a co-presenter!

Is Phoenix ready for them? What costumes will they wear?

I recall a NACOL Conference that I attended there years ago.  It’s hot!  But, I had to visit the University of Phoenix Stadium to see the grass.  We were lucky; it was outside when we visited.

What’s even more interesting is that Diana dug up a conference report from a long time ago and has scanned the pages and shared them with us.  It’s actually quite interesting reading.

Do you ever wonder if the principal, union, or superintendent that you submit these to actually reads them themselves?

Make Your Students Love Books As Much As You Do

Stepan Pruchnicky had a learning experience as a LTO “Teacher Librarian”.

The job was “Teacher Librarian”, and I had no idea what I was doing. I remember confiding my fears to my principal. Her advice: “make kids love books as much as you do.” The advice stuck. I have kept it in mind for the past twelve years.

Of course, this is premised on the fact that he loved books.  And, what educator would not agree?

The balance of the post lists six suggestions that he offers to help the process.  They’re all good advice and the very best education will definitely make #6 happen.

How does this happen?

And, we close on a sad note.

Aviva Dunsiger’s father passed away and she took to her blog to let us know about it.  It’s not something that I would do but does illustrate another way that people use the blogging space.

She offers some advice from the experience.

Today’s heart-breaking experience has reminded me of something important: savour the small moments.

My sympathies go out to Aviva.

Please take a moment and click through and enjoy this collection of blog posts from Ontario Educators.  There’s some great content and reflect there.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Another week comes to an end and offers an opportunity for me to share some of the great reading that I encountered this past while from Ontario Edubloggers.

Journey to El Salvador for Teacher Candidates

I guess I’m going to have to file this post from Paul McGuire under “Fake News”.

It’s too bad.  I had all kinds of notes about my own practice teaching experiences, social justice, added value to the curriculum, the relative low costs of the program, and so much more.

I made a point of making sure that it was on the radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs so that Stephen Hurley and I could talk about it.  Just into our discussion, we got a Twitter message from Paul that the program had been scrapped.

Bummer.  We had so much time allotted to talk about it!

The post is still a good read and example of great planning and learning possibilities.  I’m disappointed that it didn’t come to fruition.


I had a new follower this week from Brock so I checked out her blog which Meg Schned has posted to Weebly.  There was a section dealing with TECHKNOWTEACH which sounded intriguing so I checked it out.

The section is a collection of posts about topics – I don’t know if it’s a class assignment or not – but I found them interesting from someone who will soon enter the profession.  One of the posts dealt with Understanding Copyright.  All right!  How many faculties deal with this, and in particular, Creative Commons?

With technology right at our fingertips, in the form of laptops, cellphones and tablets, accessing information and resources is easier than ever before, however there are rules in place that allow us to take advantage of this properly.

I liked her thoughts and carrying this into her profession will do her well.  I did look at the entire Weebly site and didn’t see a spot where she’s identified her own level of copyright.  I think that, in addition to respecting others copyright and permission that everyone should let others know how they expect their content to be used.

Kindness – It Starts with Us

Lisa Cranston’s recent post shows a great deal of wisdom and perhaps a reminder for everyone about the importance of being kind.

In the post, she shares many personal experiences but one really resonated with me.

We’re all taught to be aware of the student who sits in the cafeteria alon eating lunch with no friends or interactions.  Lisa describes a personal experience as a supply teacher being alone in the staff room.  Should there be any difference?

With reorganization day in everyone’s future, along with the daily flow of occasional teachers, new students, and teacher candidates, this is a powerful reminder that it never hurts to be kind.


My #5BestEd decisions

Lisa Noble tagged me in the announcement of this post in response to a challenge issued by Jonathan So.  The challenge was to identify five moments that made an impact on your teaching.

Lisa follows up with her five and it’s great to see that family remains part of the discussion.  She said I was in the post somewhere, but quickly frankly, I couldn’t find it.  I had clicked the embedded video and had it playing while I was reading the content.  My big mistake was not watching the video…

Anyway, it’s a nice collection and there were two acronyms in her five decisions that stood out to me.

  • AIM
  • PLP

It’s a nice summary and I can see just in my interactions with her online, how they have helped frame her to be the educator that she is today.

I would encourage you to click through and see all five.

Sarah’s Back-To-School Story

How many times this late August have your heard from teachers who have that back to school nightmare with no lesson plans, or being late, or not wearing clothes in front of your class….?

Sarah Lalonde shares a back to school story of her own.  She doesn’t have her own classroom yet and so instead reminisced about going back to school as a student.

It’s somehow comforting to know that it’s not just teachers who are nervous but so are the students.  That may appear to be obvious but I thought that a teacher candidate identifying as a student was something special.

It brought back things that I hadn’t thought of in years.

  • clothes – what to wear
  • bus route – will it be different
  • teachers – will they be different
  • how to set up your locker to make it yours

It inspired great memories for me.  Give it a read and see if it doesn’t do the same for you.

Breakout EDU for the Win!

The concept of Breakout EDU is very popular right now.

What really impresses me is when educators go beyond the box and come up with original and new ways of designing their own challenges.  Earlier, I had been impressed with how Cal Armstrong had used OneNote to create a challenge.

In this post, Jennifer Casa-Todd describes how she sets up a Breakout session as orientation to her library.

Introduce students to the services and resources I offer in the Library by allowing them to DISCOVER these through fun, interactive challenges. So I hid puzzles in books, created posters with hidden clues and got them to answer questions on a Google Form which revealed their word-combination when they submitted the form. It was a really nice mix of traditional and digital Breakout components. I am not going to lie, I was super nervous. You see, unlike a classroom teacher, I have no real rapport with these students coming into the Library. I don’t know their names or their learning needs.

It sounds like a winning combination.  Check out her entire post to get all the details.

Is there room in your classroom for an activity like this?

Caretaker of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt

Kristi Keery Bishop shares an interesting story about administrators’ orientation.

At our system Administrator’s meeting, we were welcomed and educated by the board’s Indigenous Education team. We were then each offered a Dish with One Spoon wampum belt to be used in our schools. This wasn’t our typical “go get in line to take these new resources for your school” kind of giveaway but a ceremony; we had to thoughtfully and publicly acknowledge our willingness to accept the responsibility of using the wampum for school education and community building but also to accept it as a treaty of friendship.

My first thought was a remembrance of so many meetings that I attended and we “got stuff”.  Sometimes a little overview to go along with it or a handout, but a ceremony?

To me, this adds addition value to the resource and makes everyone think just a little harder about the message from the meeting and how it will be used when returned to the school.

Take some time to read the post.  When was the last time that you had an educational moment that was as meaningful as this one?

Please take a moment and read the entire posts and enjoy their thoughts.  While you’re at it, make sure that you follow these folks on Twitter.

If you’re an Ontario Education blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, everyone.  It’s been a short week here in Ontario but that didn’t stop some great thinking appearing in the blogs of Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

Summiting Kilimanjaro

The Barranco Wall – Don’t Look Down

Why we climb

Asante sana to our guides and porters on Mt.Kilimanjaro

Back from Kilimanjaro

Last week, Paul McGuire’s blog was very quiet.  There were no reports about his assent to Mt Kilimanjaro.  But, he certainly made up for it this week.  Above, you’ll see that he has unloaded on us with stories of his final climb.

Not only that, but there is a beautiful collection of pictures that he’s taken and a video.  I liked the map that showed the path that they took to the top and I’m getting at least a look at the trail on Google Maps.

It’s so impressive.  I would encourage you to read these posts and, if you haven’t already, look at his previous posts to get at least a blog reader perspective of what he and the 28 of them experienced.

We did really well – 28 climbers summited at Stella Point. The general overall success rate is around 65%, so we did much better than the average. I think our success has a great deal to do with the incredible training and leadership of our Canadian guide team – Shawn Dawson, Kristi Johnston and Jason Colley and the amazing support of our families and friends back home.

The climb is over, we are safely home, we have achieved something special.

When Should We Put The Devices Away?

Readers of Aviva Dunsiger’s blog will recognize that self-regulation is a topic in virtually every post these days.

In this post, she collects some of the wisdom of her network to help frame her thoughts about the use of technology and the amount of “screen time” in her classroom.  For the record, I hate that expression.  But I do understand her point.  She identifies what I would call really bad practice in the use of technology.

I’m sure that you can come up with additional ideas.  Things like:

  • discover this new program and tell me how to use it
  • we have 10 minutes left in this period, you may play on the computers
  • go on the Internet and see if you can find something

Silly?  Yes, particularly when you take it out of any classroom context.  But, you don’t find a music teacher who runs 10 minutes short and says “Discovery Learning – learn how to play a new instrument” or a Transportation Technology who says “We’ve changed the oil in the principal’s car and there is 10 minutes left over.  You can take it for a spin”.

We wouldn’t do those dumb examples above so why would we do it with computers?  In many cases, I suspect, the teachers are new to technology in the classroom and just don’t have the wealth of experience and resources.  Bringing in an expert for a one hour workshop on Scratch doesn’t make someone a coding expert.  Aviva makes a great observation and school districts should continue to be serious about providing ongoing professional learning opportunities so that activities are meaningful and not just some mindless recreation time.

For those moments when technology shouldn’t be used, why not do what my wife does?  Get yourself a smartphone jail.

Screenshot 2017-04-19 at 13.54.16

Put Your City on the Map!

From Peter Cameron comes a wonderful example of what a complex classroom task could be.  It follows nicely with the stage that Aviva has set.

We have used descriptive writing, our research skills, visualizing, visual arts and a combination of tech tools to put our city on the map. Each student picked one of their favourite places unique to our city; Thunder Bay. Their task was to write a descriptive paragraph about their place, capture it using a variety of media forms and then literally put their place on an interactive map of Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is such a wonderful place to visit.  I haven’t thought about Kakabeka Falls for a long time.  If you visit, the area, you definitely have to drop by there.  Thank you to the student that put it on the map.

As I was working on this, I had an interaction with Peter about an upcoming M.A.D. PD event on May 7.  You may want to check it out.  Some of the usual Ontario suspects are there but there’s a delightful collection of new names and faces for me.


All caps mean shouting, right?  Read this post about intersectionality and you’ll probably imagine Rusul Alrubail shouting as she typed it.

In this case, she analyzes a conference devoted to gender equity in education.  Her thoughts:

If a conference that focuses on gender diversity in education hardly has women of colour in attendance or represented, that’s inexcusable. We also can’t afford to hear excuses and defence. We didn’t have time… the topic was not on the agenda…we didn’t know who to reach out to…

Excuses show nothing but sloppiness, inconsideration and a lack of recognition of one’s own privilege.

If you ever will have an opportunity to organize an event, any event in Ontario, she’s right.  Those excuses don’t have a place with any planning committee.  If you are truly reaching out to an entire province, then you need to make sure that you are inclusive.  If your answer is “we didn’t know who to reach out to…”, then you’re just not paying attention.  If “the topic was not on the agenda”, change the agenda to put it there. Getting the right people involved will guarantee success.

One of the reasons why I’m a fan and regular reader of Rusul’s blog is that she does have a strong voice and her blog serves not only to educate us on the issues but to model what an advocate looks like to others.

Don’t we have enough White men speaking on almost every issue? It’s time for them to give that platform to people who need to be heard.

Certainly, blogging is a platform where everyone can participate where they feel comfortable but there needs to be more.  Conferences can provide that powerful opportunity.

A Little Lost Dog

What would you do if you looked out your front door and saw a dog sitting on the porch wanting to get inside?  Such was part of the Easter Weekend for Diana Maliszewski.  Read on to hear how she handled it; including some work on social media although it’s not clear whether that had an impact or not.  The story does have a happy ending (she thinks).  It’s a reminder to all dog owners to keep their animal on leash and get them chipped in case the worst happens and they do get off the leash.

Then, Diana turns to her social media porch.

I also need to realize that my doorstep is a lot bigger than I envision. I’ve noticed lately that two books in my school library collection have been panned by others in the FNMI community (see recent tweets by Angie Manfredi, aka @misskubelik and Colinda Clyne aka @clclyne) . This has happened right at my Twitter doorstep. It’d be easier to ignore it or dismiss it as just one opinion. I shouldn’t and I can’t.

There’s a strong message here beyond the two books in question in her library, folks.

If your school doesn’t have a qualified teacher-librarian with his/her ear to the ground, how do you determine the relevance and appropriateness of any materials that have been acquired for your school?  Is it just a order form that comes from a publisher or distributor and someone runs up and down the list looking for titles that sound good?  If you don’t have that teacher-librarian who immerses her/himself in the role, what are you left with?  Can your school’s conscience live with that?

Hoarding vs Curation in the Digital World

In this post, Debbie Donsky takes on two interesting topics.  She could have split this into two separate posts and I think she would have done justice to both.  Let me talk about my take on them.

Hoarding vs Curation

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you probably notice a real flurry of posts that come from me between 5 and 6 am.  That’s my private, devoted web-reading time.  (Except on Fridays when it’s FollowFriday hour)  I have a big collection of topics that I’ve amassed over the years in my Flipboard account.

I just roughly counted and it’s something like 210 different categories.  I let Flipboard pick the latest stories and display them for me.  I’ll spend that special hour reading and sharing the stories if you care to join me.  But, there’s more.  I used to do a workshop on this.  Every link that I share to Twitter also gets tucked away into my Diigo account.

At one time, someone called me a digital hoarder.  And if that’s all that I did with it, they’re probably right.  But I do more.  My default browser search engine is my Diigo account.  So, when I’m doing research, I don’t start from scratch by going to Google and feel lucky.  I’ll search my curation first to see if there’s a resource that I’ve already evaluated and tucked away.  It saves so much time.

Personal Domain

The second topic deals with the purchase and ownership of a personal domain.  You may recall an incident that happened here a couple of years ago.  I’m not going to rehash that.  I have my own domain and there was a time when I purchased my own space and created my own web presence.  But that’s not all that it cracked up to be for me.  It’s actually a great deal of work and you have to get up to speed on a lot of things very quickly.  I like to share this story; my old employer purchased a system, installed it, and it was up and running.  By the time that I got home, hackers had found the new system and defaced it because of a missing patch.  It was a learning experience for all.  So, my domain is still registered but now resolves to a Google Site where I let people far smarter than me take care of updates and patches.  Google’s not the only game in town but having a reliable host is important if you’re not ready to do all the work yourself.

Positively Encouraging: Teachers Doing No Harm

So, Tim King programmed in Grade 10 on a “freaking computer punch card reader”.  I guess that’s the bad part; the good part is that he did well.  I’m not terribly sympathetic; my first programming was done on an IBM 026 card punch.  This was state of the art at the time.  The 029 was a major upgrade.

But, it’s not the technology used that makes this blog post such a sad one to read.  It was the subsequent treatment of this young student that makes it educational malpractice.  I think every teacher should read and reflect on Tim’s words.  If you see anything in yourself as Tim did with his teacher in Grade 11, you need to shake your head and think about just what it is that you are doing for a profession.

I hope that we can write this off to a dated educational system.  Especially in computer programming, different approaches to problem solving and implementing a solution should be celebrated and not put down.

What started all this?  Tim misread a message from the Ministry of Education.  That’s about the only smile you’ll get when you read this post.  Other than that, you should just get angry to think there might be teachers like Tim describes.

What another great collection of reading from Ontario Edubloggers!  Please take the time to click through and read the posts in their entirety.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s always fun to be able to share some of the great inspiration that I read from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this past while.

OER Repository on the Commons: A “Brief” History

Last week, I got on a bit of a tear about the ExplainEverything application.  Aviva Dunsiger had shared a new-to-me resource that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board had placed online.  I checked it out and decided that it was too good to not share and so blogged about it.  Enter Aviva again and she tagged a couple of folks behind it.  Consequently, I made a new friend, found a couple of new blogs and inspired Jared Bennett to write this blog post.

I think that this should be a role that teachers seconded from classrooms should be doing.  I certainly did it when I was a consultant although it’s all been taken down now.  As a consultant, you see more than your classroom, you see the great things that are happening in your district, you’re supporting initiatives, and much more.  Rather than just point people to Google and “get lucky”, why wouldn’t you filter and collect the best as it applied to the Ontario Curriculum and to your districts initiative.  That’s what you’ll find here and it’s great that it’s not hidden behind some educational paywall/portal.  It’s out in the open for all to see, use, and contribute.  This is how great ideas start; not by hiding everything that you’re doing.

Which of these systems is not like the other, Part 1

There’s a great comparison between a church loyality and a classroom loyalty in this post from Lisa Noble.  She describes the diversity that lies in her community of worshipers and we know of the diversity in the typical Ontario classroom.  That’s what’s in common; what’s not in common is the commitment by those at times.

The community I worship with is there because they want to be, and many of my students this year make it abundantly clear that they don’t want to be at school. That breaks my heart, and spurs me to continue my efforts to create a space as safe and engaging as the one that welcomes me on Sunday morning.

It’s not a completely fair comparison; those in her community of worshipers are there by choice; those in her classroom are there because they haven’t reached the age of 16 and so don’t necessarily have the same level of devotion.

However, those on the religious end, do have alternatives like walking away or going to another church and yet they stay with hers.

Lisa wonders, rightfully so, if there isn’t a strong message here for education.  What types of systemic change can be made to get the same devotion?  We know that it exists with some students; how can that be extended to all?

We’ll have to wait to see how she extends her thoughts in Part II.

Professional Development: What should it look like?

Mark Chubb opens a whole can of worms in this post.

I would suggest that it’s in a good way.  His observation that district professional development is often focused heavily on the pedagogical side of things.  Honestly, I think it’s probably the easiest way to go since a single speaker can stand up in front of a group of teachers and point to the research of blah, blah, blah, blah, and make everyone feel guilty that they’re not onside or that they hadn’t learned the current theory-de-jour.  Oh, and here’s the handouts and/or a link to the presenter’s slides.

Go forth and change the world.

What happens about the actual knowledge or skill that is being taught in the classroom?  Is it assumed that every teacher entering the profession knows their subject matter, any new course/unit/grade being taught, any new technology being adopted or that they can do so in the evenings on their own?  We know that will have varying levels of success.

It’s a really good argument for balance and almost a plea to reconsider how professional learning should be delivered within a district.

The post isn’t a short read but does give you much to mull about and some great topics for reflections.  I’ve got to believe that you’ll agree with many of his personal beliefs.

Support Your ECOO

Over the years, many good educators have devoted time and effort to making the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO) what it is today.  One very active participant is Andrew Forgrave (read my interview with him here to see his passion).

A few years ago, Andrew was part of a group that revised the constitution of ECOO and it had already included the rights of members to attend board meetings as an observer.

Frustrated with the lack of updates on the ECOO website, Andrew decided that he would like to attend a meeting as an observer and see where the current board’s priorities lied.  This post tells of his background with the organization and the challenges that he had trying to get into the online meeting.

He closes with a reminder that session submissions for the 2017 close today.


OK, we can blame Mark Prensky for starting the conversation about Digital Immigrants versue Digital Natives.  I never bought into the concept but did like the fact that it was one of the things that inspired experienced educators to start seriously using technology in the classroom.  Mr. Prensky has since changed his tune and I think it’s a good move.  But, back to the original premise, David Carruthers claims that he has actually seen the opposite.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t see a greater number of younger teachers turning more to technology in their teaching is because they are modelling the teaching practices that were used when they were in school. They replicate how they were taught not that long ago. They are led to believe that this is standard pedagogy.

I don’t know why this should be the case.  David makes reference to himself 16 years ago and he claims that he used technology at every turn.  So why isn’t everyone like David?

Things have never been this good.

  • Classrooms are more Internet savvy and connected today than ever
  • School districts have faster connections today
  • There is more technology available for everyone due to purchasing patterns
  • Technology is more reliable than ever with more technicians and better equipment
  • You don’t need to be “wired” to get onto the Internet
  • There are more professional learning opportunities via subject organizations and local edCamps
  • Stories about technology uses and successes abound
  • Who hasn’t played with a Sphero or other classroom robot?
  • Libraries are working hard at becoming supporting makerspaces
  • I could go further but the point is to get you to actually read David’s post

If you’re a younger teacher, get over there and prove him wrong.  If you’re an experienced teacher, get over there and share your story so that others can learn.

The frontierland of secondary school eLearning: Conquering fear and fostering courage

One of my definite highlights of heading east to professional learning opportunities is to run into the Kings – Alanna and Tim – they always have something new to share or talk about.

In this post, Alanna shares that she’s off to the west coast to speak at a conference about an action research project that she is part of.  It sounds interesting and she shares her slide deck (although I don’t have access to the video)

The session will show you the results so far of our action research project in improving student motivation. Through teaching strategies for increasing student curiosity, control, collaboration, scaffolded challenges and recognition we are conquering fear and fostering courage in the frontierland of secondary school elearning.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Alanna stylin’ with a cowboy hat, click through.

Moshie below Kilimanjaro

Finally, last week I noted that Paul McGuire was off to conquer Mr. Kilimanjaro.  His latest update talks about a side-trip to Moshi (typo in his title) and a visit to an orphanage

Two young men who are running a small orphanage, taking little children off the streets of Moshi. This is a truly incredible story that I just started to learn about last night.

These stories are repeated all over the Global South, and for me it is important to dive back into the lives of these people and witness how they struggle to make lives better for themselves and their community.

and the experience of walking through an open market.

It’s a blog to follow to learn what Paul experiences.

I had a “Google Maps moment”; I wanted to make sure that I knew exactly where Mt. Kilimanjaro was so headed there.  I was hoping that there was a Streetview  – wouldn’t that be awesome – but the answer is not yet.  However, there are plenty of spectacular pictures from amateurs and also from tour companies that show just what a spectacular view and challenge that Paul faces.

Sort of related, how good is your spelling of countries?  Try this quiz.  I got 23/23!

What a collection!  Please take the time to click through and enjoy.  You’ll be glad that you did.  Then, head off to read more from Ontario Edubloggers.

Empathy in the school library

One of the things that I enjoy about my morning reading is finding things that I would never have discovered otherwise.  Such was a gem that I found this morning.

We’ve all heard and experienced the plight of the school teacher-librarian.  I’m sure you’ve heard the hurtful comments.

  • They don’t have any marking to do
  • They don’t do lesson preparation
  • We can replace a teacher-librarian with a technician
  • We can make the vice-principal’s teaching assignment in the library so that they’re always available
  • We’ll train kids to check out and shelve books
  • We can close the library and move the books into the classroom so that kids can get them easily
  • Can we really afford one?
  • and I’m sure you can add more

Next to computer facilities, I’ve always been fascinated by and make sure that I visit a library when I’m in a school.  It’s even more impressive when I can address both at the same time.

These very active places don’t seem to follow any of the traditional rules that other educational spaces do.  There’s no teacher desk at the front of the room; many times there aren’t sinks; there aren’t desks or learning spaces strategically placed so that you can see what every student is doing at every moment; …

There’s just this amazing person in charge who is responsible for facilitating learning for an entire school in all disciplines, including off the wall general interest, and this includes both students and educators.  It’s not an easy task when it’s done properly.

While many classrooms fade from memory, I still have visions of some of the great libraries that I’ve visited and the person who championed them.  These range from my classic high school library to some of the fantastic learning spaces that great colleagues had designed.

So, if you think you know libraries and the services that they provide, you’ll change your mind when you read this article.  “Transforming Teen Services: The Empathetic Librarian“.  By itself, it’s an interesting read – we’ve all read about how empathy is an important 21st century attribute.

But there’s a real gem here.  It’s right near the bottom and points to a wiki titled “Serving Diverse Teens @ Your Library“.

Now, it’s noteworthy that not all resources are directly applicable to Ontario libraries but a good teacher-librarian will tell you about the skill that it takes to weed and keep the best and most applicable resources.

Scan the list and then give your teacher-librarian a hug today.