This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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

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


Reflecting and Celebrating

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

That’s not the case with Lisa Munro.

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

Amen.

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

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


Our path to personal wellbeing in 2020: Insights & offerings

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

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

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

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

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


Negativity.

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

“Pandemic has caused decline in educational quality”

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

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

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

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


Different Number Fonts

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

But it stuck with me for some reason.

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

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

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

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


You’re making me hungry!

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

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

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

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

Here’s the most recent.

Did you get it?

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


Psychology, Cybersecurity and Collaboration in Educational Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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


The torch has passed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a lovely story of family and generations.


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

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

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

This post originates on the blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Let me tell you about dedication. After a stretch of cold weather, it’s been incredible around here. Today, I took a drive to Belle River and the marina on Lake St. Clair. I just sat there enjoying the warm and the lake and watching the people fishing. If it wasn’t for the need to get home and write this blog post, I could have stayed there overnight! But, back to work. Here’s some great content from Ontario Edubloggers.


L’aigle et le corbeau

I learned a great deal from this post from Joel McLean. Originally written in French, I let Google Chrome translate it for me. In the process, the word “corbeau“was translated both to raven and crow. Not to point fingers at Google Translate solely, Bing Translate did the same thing. Joel jumped in for clarification later in the day.

Back to the post, the other thing that I learned was that a raven is the only bird that will attack an eagle. How does the eagle handle it? You’ll have to read Joel’s post.

Above the walk through nature, Joel challenges you to think about the ravens that are on your back and attacking. How do you handle them? What are your ravens? Why are you wasting your time with the ravens?


A Cure for Double Doubling

Tim King thinks that maybe the implementation of the Quadmester might be unique to his district. I can tell you that it isn’t; I know of a number of districts that have also taken this route.

At this point, I have yet to see any educators that affirm that this is a good idea. Instead, a whole course is compressed to fit into a longer period during the day and a shorter course length. The net result is huge pressure on both students and teachers and real concerns that the content won’t be adequately learned.

In secondary schools, there are a number of courses that require specialized instructors. If you follow Tim, you know that he’s one of them. In a perfect world, there is contractual language that talks about class sizes. Have the rules changed in the time of COVID?

Tim offers his analysis of both of these topics and offers ways for it to be resolved. That may well make things even more difficult for a district to implement so I hope that Tim isn’t holding his breath.


Learner Variability

Lynn Thomas uses this blog post to describe her walkthrough of the Learner Variability Navigator. Based on solid pedagogy, this appears to be a complete resource for educators dealing with today’s students.

As Lynn notes, these students show up for school with a lot of baggage.

  • Poverty​
  • Learning to speak English ​
  • Lacking background knowledge​
  • Boredom and disengagement​
  • Trauma​
  • Color, ethnicity, or gender making you susceptible to stereotype threat​
  • Working memory, decoding, or attention challenges ​
  • Devastated socially and emotionally in school​

Dealing with language and mathematics, this is a one stop place to embrace and understand so much. Set aside a bunch of time to work your way through this.

Again, language and mathematics are the target for this research but I could see how the elements could play out in other disciplines.


#girlswhogame – Part 1

Rolland Chidiac is back and describes a wonderful opportunities for the girls in his 5 / 6 class.

With the onset of COVID, it kind of looked like it might not happen and yet, it did. Kudos for all who pull that together.

The “game” is Minecraft and the girls have the change to work with Brenda Sherry and Rolland’s Vice-Principal Sherry as mentors. With the connection through Katina Papulkas at Dell, they’re involved with Dell’s “Girls who game” initiative. Gaming?

Exciting times are ahead as the girls discover more about gaming using Minecraft as well as the Global Competencies, STEM, and future career paths that may be of interest to them.


A good Canadian Maple

If you think that sounds much like “a robust, full-bodied red wine”, you’re pretty close to the content of this post from Sheila Stewart!

She’s been on fire writing blog posts as of late but I ended up intrigued with this one. I’ve definitely heard of Bailey’s Irish Cream but Sheila had the opportunity to experience Cabot Trail Maple Cream, another liqueur. Just reading her post and the experiments that she’s had with it make me want to brush my teeth!

Our favourite warmup for the winter months is a mulled wine – easily made with a non-descript red wine, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. That’s our comfort drink, Sheila.

I will have to keep my eye out for her recommendation the next time I drop into the LCBO.


In Remembrance: Service, Sacrifice and a Soldier Bear Named Winnie

On the Mathematics Knowledge Network blog, Arielle Figov introduces us to this film featuring “Winnipeg Winnie”.

It comes in time for Remembrance Day and, more than just the movie, includes curriculum resources tied to the Ontario Curriculum.


The 500 – #398 – Eliminator – ZZ Top

Following Marc Hodgkinson’s walk through Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums has been an awesome experience for me. It also is a reminder of how long ago some of these albums actually are.

This time, it’s ZZ Top’s Eliminator.

If you are in the mood for a trip back to the fusion of blues-rock and synth-pop in 1983, give this record a listen. Better still, click on some of those video links and enjoy the cheesy decadence of a classic ZZ Top video.   

For me, this brought back a smile. I moved to Essex County from an area of Canada with a much more decided Canadian taste. I was always all over them about Canadian versus American spelling. I remember a home room moment with a chat with a student who sat right in front of my teacher’s desk.

Hey, sir! Have you heard the new song from Zed Zed Top?

To his defence, they were bombarded by the Detroit media.

I always wanted a spinning guitar.


Phew! I got the post done in time to watch Thursday night football.

Please take a moment to click through and read these terrific posts. Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Joel McLean – @jprofnb
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Arielle Figov
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

New insights


Ontario to launch enhanced COVID-19 data page

Ontarians are now promised to be able to see the same data that those in Toronto use to make decisions for the province. When you head over to the COVID page on the Ontario website, you have access to just an overload of information. There’s just so much that you can lose yourself in the information if you wish. (and I did)

The thing that caught my interest was the ability to compare the numbers from your health unit with up to five others throughout the province. I decided to check it out and see where we stand compared to others.

Now, those figures are complete totals. All things being equal, you would expect that Toronto Public Health would lead the pack. There is an option to get a look at numbers per 100 000 population.

The totals are also available for plotting over time

There is no legend here but when you mouse over the graph, the totals for that particular day pop up. The colours are consistent throughout. So, I could see the spike in little ol’ Windsor-Essex County that caused us to remain in Stage 2 over the summer for a bit.

This is just the tip of the data iceberg. Keep on scrolling down for more information and details. All of the data is available for download as images or as .CSV files. I couldn’t help but think of mathematics or computer science classes where you might be interested in real, relevant data for analysis. It doesn’t get much more relevant than this.

Back to Stage 2, apparently that’s all going to change to a new classification for levels of severity.

  • Lockdown:
  • Red-Control:
  • Orange-Restrict:
  • Yellow-Protect:
  • Green-Prevent:

This will kick in on November 7.

A description of each can be found here:

Ontario unveils new system for COVID-19 shutdowns. Here’s how it will work

How tall?


One of the things that you can see for miles and miles around here is the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. I’ve been there a few times over the years for conferences in Michigan and I stand in awe (and dizziness from looking up) just outside as you go in. Actually, if I stand across the river in downtown Windsor, I still stand in awe!

Photo by Jameson Draper on Unsplash

Just looking up and down is so impressive. Wait a few minutes and the People Mover will go by. Like most big buildings, it’s well lit for a nighttime view and the colours will change depending upon events of the day. I absolutely can’t wait until the Tigers win the World Series. There will be a lot of orange, to be sure. At present, General Motors and the Detroit Marriott are major tenants.

But just how tall? I can tell you from personal experience, “really tall”! Research indicates that it is 73 stories tall.

It would be nice to put “really tall” into some sort of perspective and you can at The Measure of Things. According to the Wikipedia, it’s 750 feet to the top of the antenna. The Measure of Things offers suggestions as to other things that might be that tall.

For this old football coach, the one that really rang my bell was the comparison to a football field.

Now, if you’re staring up at the Renaissance Center, it’s just normal to look at things on this side of the Detroit River.

Back to the Wikipedia and the tallest building in downtown Windsor is the Augustus Tower at Caesar’s Windsor with a height of 364 ft.

Of course, it’s half the height!

I’ll be honest; it’s fascinating to go through the results and look at the various descriptors used to help visualize the height.

The Measure of Things isn’t just for heights. Check for area, pinches, pennyweights, pints, or any type of measurement that you can think of.

This is a really rich resource which should be able to spawn all kinds of ideas for classroom use.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Around here, someone flipped the switch and now it’s fall. The warm days went away, replaced by cooler ones. Crickets are everywhere; there actually have been a couple of nights where we closed the windows to keep the noise down!

Not noise, but great commentary from Ontario Edubloggers it the focus of this regular Friday morning post. Please enjoy.


Calendar

As a secondary school person, it was culture shock when I visited primary classrooms, often at “Calendar Time”. It was always a big deal and I remember students highly interested in having their voice heard.

Now considerably older, calendars are important – in my digital life although This Week in Ontario Edublogs and Walk the Dog are the only two recurring events. That, and birthdays. I don’t really need that; we have a calendar on the fridge and the rules is that if it isn’t in the calendar, it won’t happen.

I remember that the calendar templates in Microsoft Publisher were crowd pleasers in the schools!

In this post, written before her teaching assignment was confirmed, Lisa Corbett shares her thoughts about the important of calendar with Grade 2 expectations. And, perhaps a different approach for doing calendars this year…


Back to School Thoughts

It was great to see Jennifer Aston back at her blog. This is another post talking about the nervousness before the return to school. She seems to have a great summer that included some camping. More on this later.

She speaks for so many educators when she lets loose about her frustrations with the Ministry of Education and the approach taken to re-opening schools that, by most accounts, excluding talking with teachers.

What a missed opportunity to work together for our deserving children!  

Besides being a teacher, Jennifer is also a mother and is very aware that emotion and words can be heard at times from an unexpected audience.

Dwelling on the negatives can really bring one down and so she does talk about some of the very positive things that she’s expecting for September. Way to go.

Back to camping; there are a number of ways to take a holiday this year – staycations (for the most of us), going to a cottage (which can be like a home away from home including internet access), or going camping. Now, camping is all over the map in terms of experience but part of it is maintaining a safe site, cooking outside, etc. I wonder if students who camped to survive the summer will be tougher when back in the classroom?


Don’tMessWithTheShield: A Little Unexpected, Humorous Teacher Inquiry

Aviva Dunsiger takes us on a little adventure with her experiences with a mask and a shield. Like all of us who wear glasses, fog becomes a very distinct enemy. Of course, I had to think about the Andy Reid shield wearing at the Kansas City football game.

Imagine teaching a class of kindergartners through that fog!

Now, I hope that my friendship with Aviva withstands this comment but she seems to be in the shield modification skill department like how she describes her ability to park. Love you, Aviva.

You might smile as you read this but I’ll bet you can see yourself doing exactly what she tried to do.

Thankfully, she had a VP with a replacement shield to save the day.


Rollercoaster

Diana Maliszewski takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that so many Ontario educators can empathize with. She found out on Thursday, September 10 what her teaching assignment would be. Think about the date and the fact that normally, school would have started September 8. Over the prior summer, teachers are likely to be engaged in planning and collecting resources for the fall.

If you’re a user of a school library, this will break your heart.

The big picture here, and Diana spells it out, is that she’s had at least a part timetable as a Teacher-Librarian for her entire career. She didn’t use the role as a selfish way to avoid teaching kids; she’s been an advocate and poster child for the transition from libraries as a repository of books to the Learning Commons that we take for granted these days.

More than that though, Diana has been a leader, coach, critical friend, presenter, advocate, champion for technology and libraries. She’s been a mainstay presenter with subject associations like the OSLA and ECOO. She refuses to accept the status quo.

The TDSB has elected to not fund Learning Commons this year.

That places Diana in a full time teaching situation; a 6/7 split. She has three concerns that she outlines in the post. All three are legitimate concerns and I wish her all the best as she undertakes this new reality.

Once she settles in, I know that she will recognize that her years of being a connected educator has made her so many connections and her above average ability to curate resources (check out her wikis) will serve her well.

I also hope that subject associations which have thrived because of the contributions of educators like Diana are there with real resources to assist this year.


Are We Prepared To Be Doing The Same Learning In The Future?

This essay from Rola Tibshirani should be required reading for everyone who emerged from the spring of emergency learning depressed.

Rola uses this post to share her insights into how things went well in her classroom and I suspect many other classrooms. It’s easy to focus on the challenges and certainly there were so many. Rola observes:

Our ecosystem during the emergency remote learning grew stronger due to the established partnership with parents and the students.

It was a slide/transition from regular classroom to teaching online. Rola observes that her success emerged from those idea connections that were already in place. I would suggest stepping back from your current reality and think objectively about what actually happened last spring.

Could your classroom be as successful as hers?

She provides a large list of events about learning, well being, and resilience.

It is so inspirational.


Talk Me Through Your Process

Any time you can take a significant educational think online, be open and collaborative, only good things can happen.

And, good things should emerge from this new intiative that Roland Chidiac describes in this post. In collaboration with Chris Cluff and Ramona Meharg, he introduces us to a new podcast devoted to getting Principal qualifications.

The podcast is a great tool to assist us in sharing our perspectives, learning from each other, and learning from others outside of our immediate circle. We are modeling our process in a public way with the hope that it will start up great discussions and encourage others to do the same. As my friend Joe Marquez likes to say, education is a collaborative sport! 

The concept sounds very interesting and the timing may well be perfect for those who are interested in this leadership role in education.


ADAPTING LESSON PLANS FOR ONLINE TEACHING

There are a lot of students whose family has elected to have them start this fall learning online. So many, in fact, that many newly created online schools have a delay in starting that put them behind the starting date for those going face to face.

As we learned last spring, there is a significant different between teaching face to face and teaching face to Zoom/Meet/Skype/Teams.

Like all things educational, engagement is a huge factor for success. Writing for the ESLOntario blog, Azi Pordel shares thoughts about the use of Microsoft Powerpoint or slides in general in the classroom for engagement. Tips on design and the rational behind slide design and process are discussed.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and enjoy all of these blog posts.

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

  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Jennifer Aston – @mme_aston
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • TESL Ontario – @teslontario

This is an original blog post from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com