This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Good Friday morning! Hope you have a quick Friday (at least it’s a Friday the 14th) and on to the weekend. Oh, and check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.

Love the Interview Learning!

From Sue Bruyns, some thoughts about interviews. Personally, I hated them when I was on the being interviewed side. I was always afraid that I’d say something stupid; sometimes my speaking exceeds my thinking ability. What the heck, most of the time that happens. That’s why blogging and the ability to proofread and edit suits me well.

I did have occasion to sit on the other side of the table and it really isn’t any better watching the interviewee squirm. Apparently, Sue enjoys the interview process and explains why in this post. What I found interesting was the approach of asking interviewees to bring in an artefact and share that with the interview team. I think it’s a great approach as it shifts the control away from the people doing the interview and lets the person being interviewed take control over something they’re very comfortable talking about.

So, Sue walks us through the interview. I found it interesting and brought back memories for me of times when I sat in one or the other chairs. It’s a necessary process, I suppose, but I still get the shaking nerves when I think about it. Of course, Sue has such a wonderful style about her, I’m sure that she would make you comfortable for the interview.

Friday Two Cents: Daily Routine

If there’s one way to maintain sanity and get results in education, it’s having a healthy and regular routine. Paul Gauchi writes about a personal experience when that happens to fall off the rails.

I think he speaks for most people in the province when he says

During these past months there has been nothing but turmoil from the government: are we going into virtual learning or are we staying with the in-class option?  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

It’s pretty difficult to build a regular routine when that is your reality. He notes the shortage of occasional teachers and that only adds to the situation.

I think we all look back at the past year with a critical eye and that’s done here, in the concept of a routine. What happens when that routine stops? What happens when you rebuilt the routine?

Read about it in this post.

Windows #SOL

I’ve been sitting on this post from Melanie White for a bit because it’s kind of sad, kind of insightful, kind of nostalgic, …

She starts by talking about cleaning windows which immediately made me think of this Safety Last! scene.

There’s a husband story here about cleaning windows to start the post but she ends up with a thought about classroom windows. Supposedly, they let you look outside, but you really only see a subset of what’s out there. In my teaching experience, most of my time was spent in a windowless classroom. The outside was neither a distraction nor an inspiration. When I did get a classroom with an outside window, it was one of those tall windows that you’ll find in an air conditioned building. It was slightly better.

But, I got thinking … all that comes into play when teachers and students are in the same room looking out the same window. What happens these days with remote learning? Everyone has a different window, if they have a window at all. What’s missing as a result? Can there be a meeting of the minds?

Thoughts on online teaching

Every0ne in education is reflecting on this and Lisa Corbett adds her thoughts. Particularly with the oddities of teaching online, planning and maintaining a schedule is crucial for success.

As Lisa notes, there are other things to remember to schedule – feed your own children.

It’s the teacher mentality and we’re all guilty of it. Everything about those students in our charge is important. We’re supposed to know them, be a social guidance, mentor, inspiration, and sometimes the more important things are devoted to whatever time is left over. Sure, we all know that’s wrong but we all do it.

Time is such a big deal in education and Lisa notes another upcoming time crunch – five weeks of teaching content and four weeks until report cards are due.


Les moments décisifs

Joel McLean gives a nice discussion about decisive moments, at the same time revisiting the notion of routines.

He works with the premise that we are a society of instant gratification – but what happens when it doesn’t come right away … The Valley of Disappointment!

I think we all go through this daily. What’s so frustrating is that horizontal axis. You plod along it never knowing what’s going to happen next. We rely on the fact that there will be an upturn —- but when?

I’m going to give a shout out to educators. We may not be able to see the future but we absolutely know that, if we stay the course, that curve will bend and we will see results. It’s just disappointing, even frustrating, until that happen.

Joel’s formula for success?
Patience + Perseverance + Effort = Decisive Moment

Anti-oppressive student placement cards

I’m a bit out of my element in this post on the Heart and Art Blog from Deb Weston. She tagged me in it and there was a ton of responses to it so I know that it resonated with many. It never really affected me – I was the only computer science teacher in the school so if you wanted that subject, you got me. Full stop.

Of course, the world isn’t all like that and Deb shares her thoughts.

She identifies past practices for placement of students in classes.

Past Student Placement Cards:

  • Gender: Blue cards for boys, Pink cards for girls
  • Academic success: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Language: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Math: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Special Education Support: formal/informal IEP (circle one)
  • English Language Learners: Steps of ELL for Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
  • Students to place in same class with:
  • Students to not place in class with:
  • Attendance issues: Yes/No Reasons for absence:
  • Student Behaviour: Big “B” and little “b”
  • Parental issues: Big “P” (big parent problem)

Then, she addresses the assumptions and issues with this approach and puts forth an alternative way of looking at things. It’s an interesting and informative read. You might want to pass it along if you’re able to influence the process.

The Annual End of Year Pressure

I guess it’s an annual event – summer is coming and there’s pressure to ensure that all that needs to be addressed in the class is, in fact, done.

Kelly McLaughlin takes a look at her world and feels that there is more pressure than normal. I think that’s perfectly understandable. How many times have educators had to shift gears this year? Then, there’s the whole “are schools going to re-open in June” thing.

One of the things that educators have had to learn on the fly is assessment in its current form… i.e. at a distance. Never mind the actual teaching, consider the whole assessment picture. All of the traditional techniques and observations have been rethought in the current reality.

Kelly shares her plans for the month of June and the things that she has planned – coding and health among others as well as some of the approaches and resources that she has been using just to get to this point.

I like the fact that she was so open with this – the more that people share good ideas, the more we realize that the wheel truly doesn’t need to be reinvented.

Please take some time to click through and read these wonderful posts and drop off a comment or two.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Kelly McLaughlin

This week’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast can be accessed here:

Census Day activities

I got my Census information in the mail last week and got right on it. In the past, I haven’t been this quick but, carpe diem. It was a very short activity and something that you have to do. (It says so on the form) I couldn’t help but think that, as a country, we’re really seizing on the pandemic by moving this online. I guess we just expect that everyone has a computer and is connected.

To be honest, I had the Census done and it actually took longer to re-read and find that there was an option to do the Census without a computer. I thought that the whole electronic process was well thought through and implemented. My congratulations to the developers.

The value doesn’t stop there by doing one’s civic duty. If you start poking around at the menus on the Census, there’s a gold mine there for educators looking for something relevant to the day and helps answer the mathematical question “Why do we need to learn mathematics?”

There is a “Resources for educators” page.

I worked my way through all of the sections and was quite impressed. While the instructions suggest downloading and printing, that’s probably not the best option these days. However, online works nicely. You get a chance to use those new found digital skills.

While May 11 is Census Day in Canada, the activity doesn’t generate any data that would have to go outside your classroom. So, it doesn’t necessarily have to be done today. I thought that the layout made a lot of sense including addressing what expectations could be addressed with the activity. Since it’s a cross-Canada activity, don’t look for the exact wording from the Ontario Curriculum.

Thinking of the bigger picture, you may wish to download all the resources and tuck them away to use in future non-Census years. The activities are really worth the effort.

Mathematics conspiracy theory

Overnight and this morning, guess what was one of the things trending on Twitter?

Say what?

Why on earth would BEDMAS be trending on social media?

Of course, you remember this from elementary school mathematics. It’s a way to remember the order of operations in an expression with more than one operation.

B – Brackets
E – Exponents
D – Division
M – Multiplication
A – Addition
S – Subtraction

So, my question still stands. Why would that be trending?

Then, I got it. With Ontario schools coming back from their March, Spring, April Break, it has to be a concerted effort by mathematics teachers to get kids thinking about the subject again. If that’s the case, it’s genius. Why not reach out via social media and trick them into doing a little review?

Except that today’s typical student avoids Twitter in favour of other platforms where they can dance up a storm.

So what could it be?

I followed the hashtag and it became apparent in a couple of images.

It also lead to side arguments as whether BEDMAS is more correct than PEMDAS.

So, I guess it could be a conspiracy event led by mathematics teachers. I followed the discussion and I guess that the learning that we teachers think is at the heart of education isn’t as enduring as we thought.

Order of operations isn’t just restricted to mathematics either. It can be a deal breaker in computer science if you don’t create the code properly.

There are also fun things that can be done with mathematics that can lead to teachable moments and fun, provided you know the rules of solving expressions.

So, sir, why do we have to learn this? When will we ever use it in real life?

If only I’d thought to let my students know that it would help them be on the correct side of a flame war on social media.

The Week in Ontario Edublogs

Live is great but can be a challenge to make happen. This Week in Ontario Edublogs, a live show, didn’t run this week. Stephen had another commitment. It happens every now and again and previously, we’d been able to record the show and just play it back as a podcast. We couldn’t even figure out how to do that this week so took a hiatus. We’ll be back next Wednesday.

And so it begins again…….

I’m going to lead off with this good news story from Richard Erdman.

Last week, I reflected on the latest post on his blog where he’s documenting his Cancer treatment story. It was a bad news/good news type of post. Bad in that his options were becoming limited; good in that he was hoping to get into a new treatment program at Princess Margaret Hospital.

So, the good news he reports is that he got accepted into the program and continues the sharing of what’s happening in his life. It’s an interesting reflection; hospitals are a challenge at times. But, as my former superintendent was fond of saying – “If you’re going to play by the rules, you have to play by all the rules.” That means more time visiting the hospital than ever for Richard.

He’s off to this new chapter in his journey and I know that you’ll join me in wishing him every bit of success with this new treatment.

[Movie Review] Zack Snyder’s Justice League: A Story of Heroes, Villains & Redemption.

I’ll admit. I grew up with the real and true Batman – Adam West! Who could forget the Batusi?

Actually, as a fan, I do like going back and watching Batman and Superman sequels from the 1940s. YouTube has them all!

I’ve also followed the genre? (is it really a genre?) up to today.

In this post, Anthony Perrotta introduces us to the latest in the long set of media, Zack Snyder’s Justice League. He comes across as a real fan in his writing. I haven’t watched the movie yet but I, too, have seen the talk about it on social media.

It will be viewed in the future at my house.

Join me at OAME 2021, May 17-21

Andrea McPhee is presenting a couple of sessions at the upcoming OAME Conference. Like many online conferences, it will be offered online. She’s doing one session live and one that’s prerecorded.

On the left: 20... 21... OAME Toronto. Equity Counts. On the right: Fidgets and Forks: Modelling Periodic Behaviour in Real-Time, Andrea McPhee, Jarvis C.I., TDSB, @Ms_McPhee. OAME/AOEM Annual Conference May 17-21, 2021. #OAME2021 #AOEM2021 Presenting on: Thurs., May 20 @ 4 PM

I can’t help but think back to a blog post that I wrote earlier this week about the need to change presentations to reflect these times. Over the past year, teachers have mastered the art of sit ‘n git and are ready to move on to better things.

It looks like Andrea will address this and her descriptor talks about all kinds of activities that she plans to talk about. Fidget spinners, tuning forks, … all of this could be presented in a play along format.

I wish her all the best and I hope that others are looking to present active learning events addressing so many people’s current realities, at a distance.

Some key priorities for education’s new normal

Charles Pascal’s newest post will have you thinking

Imagine it’s 2041 and a group of publicly educated 20-year-olds from across Ontario have been asked how they feel about the years they spent in school. The conversation is animated and positive. They say school made them feel like they belonged.

In the post, he addresses what he feels needs direct attention now and going forward. He starts with fighting racism and ends with the concept of a new plan for leadership and how that works.

In the middle are many other well thought out topics. When you look at them in their entirety, it reminds you that education is such a complicated enterprise. There is no one simple solution that we see in the media so often. You really do have to blame the media for their short summary clips and the politicians who play to it “We’ll spare no expense” – except in the most recent budget.

Many of Charles’ points can absolutely be addressed and they should be. They need to be addressed by highly aware teachers and leaders who refuse to accept that the current reality is good going forward.

In attention to his well presented topics, the comments including one from a former Education Minister, expands on his original premise. They add value to an already great post.

This post may well be the best educational reading that you can do for yourself if you are indeed concerned about where we’re headed. Do it.

What Are Your Magical Fairy Moments?

OK, so Aviva Dunsiger tagged me in this post which kind of made me want to read about it. She’s a kind person so I wasn’t worried that it was going to be bad but I do have a reputation to uphold! She tagged one of my blog posts. It turns out that the post was from 2016. Wow, she remembered? Either her or Google…

As Aviva always seems to do with my posts, I’m going to go off on a different tangent. Not that this isn’t a wonderful post full of pictures and thoughts but I can’t help but think that so many of us can be negative at times and it’s a piece of cake to do that these days.

Somehow, Aviva always manages to find the positive and in this case it’s a reminder of some of the great people that she’s had the chance to work alongside. In a time and era when it’s so easy to find problems, she looks for and promotes the great things.

Some of those great things were attributes that people just do because they’re genuinely good people. I want to meet them someday. But I’ve also had my share of genuinely good people in my career. I’m struck by Aviva’s use of the term “magical”. I’d be willing to bet that if someone approached these people or any educator for that matter and asked about their magic, they’d just get stared at.

I’ll bet that they don’t see what they’re doing (they’re just being themselves) as magic. It’s the effect that others see where the real magic lies. And that’s amazing in itself. I think of teachers who have worked their magic on me – I see the magic; they probably just thought they were doing their job.

Maybe everyone’s job is magic and it takes a post like Aviva’s to realize it.

Birds of a Feather….

From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Velvet Lacasse takes us on a flight.

Into Spring.

After a long winter, we’re ready to warm up and get on with the nice weather headed into summer. Velvet was looking for a way to incorporate that via dance in her classroom or whole school community. She came up with “flocking”.

Flocking is a type of movement improvisation, where the whole group mirrors each other’s movement. Students can be organized in a straight line or in the shape of a diamond. In flocking, there is one student who leads a movement, which is followed by the other students.

She could have stopped the post there and it would have been very inspirational. But she goes over the top when she ties it to Land Acknowledge and Indigenous application of gratitude.

She explains the Thanksgiving Address, Bear Song, and Medicine Wheel teachings and what it means to her. It’s an inspiration read for great thinking and took me to places I didn’t expect.

The 500 – #378 – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? – Oasis

I’m so glad that I found John Hodgkinson’s ongoing series of blog posts talking about the greatest 500 albums of all time. The list and his discussion take me back to great music that I hadn’t run across for a while. This post is from Oasis.

Back I went to enjoy some great music.

I love this stuff.

Better, I enjoy exploring the original music videos on YouTube. Even better than that, I really appreciate reading John’s reflection on the songs and artists.

Even though we didn’t have the radio version discussing these blog posts, you can still click through and enjoy them.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Richard Erdmann – @rerdmann
  • Anthony Perrotta – @aperrottatweets
  • Andrea McPhee – @Ms_McPhee
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Velvet Lacasse – @velvet_lacasse
  • John Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

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.


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