This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday! I hope that everyone is well and staying safe. Please take some time to check through and read some awesome thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Teachers Teaching About Things: Has The Needle Moved?

There’s no doubt about this in Matthew Morris’ mind and I’m totally on side with this.

His Exhibit A is the events that happened on September 11, 2001. He reflects on where he was and how little he was able to know about the events of that day. His Physical Education classes went on without blinking.

Certainly, a lot has changed in society since then. We can be connected to news constantly if we wish. This includes students in seats in the classroom.

So, when events like those that happen daily are almost immediately known by everyone they can’t be ignored. No longer is the advice given to Matthew at his Faculty of Education valid. Teachers need to be aware of all that’s happening around then and have skills to be able to address them, age appropriately, when questions come from students.

There’s no question here; the needle has indeed moved.


GET IT OFF YOUR CHEST.

For those of you who think that Pav Wander is just a podcaster, click through and read this post. She and Chey Cheney use this space to share thoughts between podcasts.

In this case, it’s a recognition of people other than teachers, students, and administrators and their contributions to the smooth operation of the school.

She takes the time, in this post, to recognize the secretarial staff. They are constantly juggling priorities and continuing to make it happen.

It’s a nice salute to these hard working individuals and I’m sure that any that happen to read this post will be appreciative.

While Pav suggested hugs, we know that that’s not a reality right now but I’m sure that you can come up with something tangible and virtual that would be just as affective.

She uses the word “unsung” and I’ve never seen it used better.


Play with Your Creative Blocks

Oh, man, did I need this shot in the arm from Jessica Outram.

While I don’t consider myself a creative person, I do have a few good moments. She outlines and describes four things to attack this…

  • Question
  • Adapt
  • Collect
  • Act

I’ve done a great deal of thinking about this. I know that I’m not the type to be able to sit down and “be creative”. I find that I have to keep a list when I do find myself being creative. Then, in my not so creative moments, I can always turn back to the list.

I’m going to give some of her suggestions a shot and see if it can turn things around for me.


Rassembler les championnes et champions

Excuse me for this interlude…

La pandémie, c’est un événement marqueur dans l’histoire de l’humanité. Elle nous a enlevé beaucoup jusqu’à ce jour: sens de sécurité, un degré de liberté, et pour plusieurs, des personnes près de nous. En même temps, elle nous a présenté une cause commune: celle de remettre en question ce qui est vraiment important dans toutes les sphères de la vie.

This was one of the better observations about the COVID pandemic and what it has meant to education.

We all know that “experts” are a dime a dozen and for a few thousand dollars, they’ll speak to your staff meetings. Is that necessary? Joel McLean offers a better solution – surround yourself with the right people, right now. He advises to not attract the wrong people which I think is good advice but I’m not sure exactly how to do that. Maybe he’ll write another post. And maybe another one about how to handle it when the right people turn into the wrong people.

Collaboration has never been so important. People are always looking for inspiration for success. In the past, it took special events to get together; these days, a message on social media is all that it takes at times to get started.


Coin Sorting Activity

On her EveryoneCanLearnMath blog, Alice Aspinall shares this activity. I recognized it immediately. I’d used it in Grade 9 mathematics as a statistics / probability lesson and in Grade 12 Computer Science as a nested sorting and graphing activity.

The concept is relatively simple and that’s where the genius lies. You just need to rob your piggy bank and do some sorting and arranging. Alice provides a link to a template should you want it. This should set the stage for interesting followup discussion about just what students are looking at.

As I read her post and reflected on my use of it in the past, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’re watching history.

  • when was the last time you used actual money to pay for anything? Even going for a coffee, I’m a tap and go type of guy now
  • when was the last time you used a penny? I suppose if you dig deeply enough into that piggy bank…but what a start for a discussion by letting students work with historical pieces of currency!
  • the Canada / US border has been closed for a long time now. I know that if I look at the change in my pocket, there’s a mixture of currency from both countries. In Canada, they’re used interchangeably most everywhere. If you look closely at Alice’s picture, you’ll see some American coinage. Now that the border has been closed for so long, will that be a reality as we go forward?

But I am thinking … if we become a tap and go society, how would we modify this activity?

If nothing else, it’s always been a good activity for that spare change!


OLA SC 2021

Only in education would Diana Maliszewski get away with a blog post title that has so many acronyms in it.

For the uninitiated, it’s expanded to be Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2021. I’ve attended this super conference a couple of times and presented there twice. It’s a must-attend conference for every teacher-librarian and librarian for sure but I would suggest that any educator that’s using any kind of material in the classes should go at least once. It’s amazing and I understand why teacher-librarians clamor to go every year.

Alanna King sent out this wonderful acknowledgement above to Diana’s summary of the conference which was obviously virtual this year. Diana does give a great summary and I’d suggest you click through to discover the nine sessions she attended and read her observations. It’s very complete including a large number of embedded Tweets which reads like a who’s who in teacher-librarianship in the province.


Create CHANGE in the Education System

I was a little hesitant to click and read this post from Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge.

Is this really the time to bring in some sort of new pedagogy?

But, I’m glad that I did because that wasn’t the point of this post. Nilmini is proud to be a brown educator and gives a quick summary at the top of her post.

  • Educators have a responsibility to teach anti-racist perspectives.
  • Create change in the education system by seeing skin color. Give a voice to individuals from diverse backgrounds in the field of education.
  • All educational spaces and systems need to move towards change and learn and adapt to bring about systemic changes.

Then, she digs in and gives us a very personal summary of things from her perspective. This includes discussing where she grew up and the political reality of Sri Lanka.

This is a post that I most certainly could not write. But I can read and learn with empathy. Folks, this is an important post and you need to read it.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read these blog posts and enjoy them for yourselves.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Joël McLean – @jprofNB
  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The voicEd Radio show is always fun to do and it keeps me out of trouble for an hour on Wednesday morning. It’s even more special with guest hosts. This week Paul McGuire joined Stephen Hurley and me for the show. If you missed it, all the shows are archived here – https://voiced.ca/project/this-week-in-ontario-edublogs/


Looking Catholic Education in the Face in Ontario

I remember that one of the arguments against full funding was that it would promote one state sponsored religion and their values and teachings against all others.

In this post, Paul McGuire takes on the issues surrounding a comment from a school board trustee and the breaking of the district’s code of conduct. Paul takes a look at the issue and the influences in and out of education.

Most importantly, he applauds the efforts of teacher Paolo De Buono for speaking his mind and keeping the issue up front in the eyes of those who follow him on social media.

The ultimate decision about this one individual trustee will happen at the next set of elections and it will be interesting to follow.


Brutalist worksheets

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Will Gourley shares his thoughts about the use of worksheets in the classroom. Along the way, he uses the term “brutalist” to further his thoughts.

In this day and age with a mixture of modes of education, I can see where a worksheet solves a number of issues and could be seen as an attempt to level the play ground. I know that many schools have now implemented a quota system on the school photocopier, sadly for financial rather than pedagogical reasons!

It’s sad to see so many “21st Century Educators” turning to Google Docs as a replacement for the paper worksheet. Going digital should always add value to the process and is not just an opportunity to replicate bad practice in a digital form.

In the post, Will shares a number of resources that could be used instead and they are digital. Paul recommended Discovery Education resources during the show. While we were live, Will sent me a message indicating that he had omitted TVO in his collection and that he would add it in. A quick check indicates that he was true to his word.


SOCIAL PRESENCE IN ONLINE LEARNING

Writing on the TESL Ontario blog was a new blogger to me – Jennifer Allore and I hope that I’ve managed to track down her social media account for later on in the post.

We know that teaching online or hybrid is a real challenge and people are doing their best to use the tools that are available to them. Sadly, many districts are just saying “here’s a link – good luck” without any professional learning to go along with it.

There are many tools and Jennifer shares some great advice with the following:

  • Video
  • Personal 
  • Discussion Board
  • Feedback

The one area that it seems to me that would be a challenge in the ESL classroom is the conversations that are a part of the normal routine. Can a Zoom session lead to the same results?


What Is Our Responsibility?

For those who aren’t in an Early Years’ classroom, I suspect that it can be a challenge to read content into the sort of play that might be seen on a cursory glance. Fortunately, we have Aviva Dunsiger digging deeply about the concept.

A student wanted a repeat of a Box City project. I’m impressed that this second year kindergarten remembered the fun from a year ago!

Along the way, Aviva shares that they got into a number of pretty important topics.

  • Gender,
  • Racism,
  • Bullying,
  • #BlackLivesMatter

Those are important topics at every grade. Why not here.

I’m be remiss if I didn’t mention the number of pictures that Aviva shares and the way that she does. It’s well done – show the activity and not the faces…


Designing school when students have the Teacher’s Copy

Boy, did I enjoy this post from Dave Cormier. We know that we all live in different times.

When I read the title of Dave’s post, I thought immediately about university life. Some professors had put previous exams in the library so that we could check out what their exams look like. Others refused to do so indicating that they’d have to come up with a new exam if they did that!

Dave addresses the current reality and information scarcity versus information abundance. If you don’t understand information abundance, it’s time for a Google workshop.

So, what is the goal of university? Is it just to go and learn stuff well enough to be able to play it back? Or, is it a place to learn and apply stuff? If it’s the former, then everyone should be able to thrive by staying home. Of course, surveillance tools will be required to ensure that you’re not cheating on exams.

If it’s the latter, it’s a game changer for many – students, universities, professors – and that leads to a great deal of questions which Dave closes his post with.


Math Links for Week Ending Dec 4th, 2020

David Petro is always good for some interesting things to do with mathematics and this collection does disappoint.

I spent a great deal of time poking around with

Desmos colours

I’m intrigued by this upcoming webinar about snowflakes and symmetry.


Getting High

No, Peter Cameron is not talking about the opening of a cannabis story.

He’s after:

  • Moving.
  • Outside.
  • Breathing.
  • Being in the moment.

He and his family are finding it very close to his home. It’s their current “high” and it sounds like they’re really taking advantage of it.

In these COVID days, I’m reading more and more about classes taking advantage of getting outside for periods of time. This post reminds me that there is a huge advantage just being mindful while doing it.


There’s your collection of great posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Take a few moments and click through to enjoy each of these terrific posts.

Then, follow these bloggers (and their blogs) on Twitter:

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Jennifer Allore – @jen_allore
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314
  • Peter Cameron – @petectweets

This post originated at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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