This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to this blog and a regular post around here. Friday mornings are an opportunity to take a look at a number of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. They’re always inspirational so let’s go…


Educational Bourgeoisie

Tim King was the guest host this week on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show on voicEd radio. We talked about this post, inspired by a podcast that he did with his wife Alanna and his reading of Starship Troopers.

Tim sees a lot of parallels between the book and his life and shares them with us. In particular, “Everybody works, everybody fights”. Does that apply to education?

Tim uses this as an opportunity to think about teachers in Ontario that aren’t in classrooms. He estimates this to be 20%. He feels that when cuts come along, they apply to the classroom and the 20% bourgeoisie are unaffected.

As a person who spent part of my career in that 20% group, I know that we all have challenges in education. When you’re not providing a viable service to those who are in the classroom, it’s only fair that stones are thrown.

I wonder though … given that there is a desire for student population in classrooms to be at 15 … are there enough teachers available to hire or will the districts use those bodies at the board office to help with numbers. It will be a real statement on how a system values those in those positions.


Stunt Riding is Easier Than You Think in Ontario (and everywhere else evidently)

Tim actually has a couple of blogs. In addition to Dusty World where I pulled in that first post, he also blogs at Mechanical Sympathy. A recent post there has me thinking and wondering even more – on a different topic.

Tim tells a story about a motorcycle outing (complete with pictures) which lead to a discussion with another biker.

There was someone that ended up getting a Stunt Driving ticket for standing on the pegs of his motorcycle. If found guilty, the penalties are pretty severe and expensive.

Until this point, my understanding of stunt driving had been about those who get caught on the 401 particularly around Chatham for doing excessive speeds.

It never occurred to me that standing up on the pegs was problematic. I’ve seen it all the time and just figured that it was a chance to “unstick” yourself or, er, um, air things out. I would have thought some consideration would have been given to what the person was actually doing while in this position. I could see if you were swerving or driving dangerously otherwise. A ticket for that makes sense.

Tim takes on the situation and the Ontario laws in this post.


Scared, But Certain

Aviva Dunsiger is a person who I would suggest is one of the most positive and upbeat educators I know. Read her blog and you’ll see that she generally loves her job and enjoys her interactions with children.

In fact, at times, I wonder to myself if she’d feel the same way in a Grade 11 mathematics classroom. She makes reference to a blog post from here where I had noted that hugs are often currency in the younger years. I can honestly say it isn’t in Grade 11.

Teaching is an acquired taste!

School re-opening in whatever shape it occurs in Ontario and Hamilton-Wentworth will undoubtedly be different.

So, back to her title – in the post she lets us know that she’s scared and for sure questioning things but she’s certain that she’s going to make it work.


Black Hands Doing Mathematics

This post from Idil Abdulkadir left me with my mouth open just a bit when she described an observation made by her students.

Using a document camera to demonstrate things in her classroom is a way of getting the job done. I get that. I used to use an overhead projector all the time. It’s a great way to do things; you never turn your back on a class and you’re able to recognize hands that go up or puzzled faces immediately. Personally, I also found it easier to write neatly than on a chalkboard. My older technology didn’t try to do anything fancy; it just took what was there and projected it.

But her students noticed that something that was happening in Ms. Abdulkadir’s class that wasn’t in others. The camera was adjusting the colour balance because of the colour of her hands. Let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a lot of ways that this could be interpreted but she felt that it means something.

I want my students to see Black hands doing delicate work.
I want my students to see Black hands solving equations.
Black fingers counting.
Black hands doing mathematics.
Black hands making beautiful things.
Black hands and Black people thriving.

To that, I would add “I want students to see Black hands writing computer programs”.


Tents

Lisa Corbett missed the opportunity to talk about her son being a “child of the corn” when making an emergency pit stop. There were trees though.

The tree in question was near the community arena’s parking lot and that led to some observations and some social understanding during this time of COVID. Like every arena in the province, there was no ice, and the facility was used to give the homeless a place to isolate.

Now that the municipal plan of using the arena from April to June is over, those who would normally use the service have to look for other places. Lisa uses the opportunity to talk about the invisible homeless.

They’re there in every community. COVID has eased but has not gone away. Perhaps this will force communities to come to grips with this issue in a more permanent way.


AVOID THE SUMMER SLUMP: FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS

Although I had talked about this post from Alanna King in a previous post, it never was done on the TWIOE podcast. Tim wanted to give his lovely wife a shout out, so we did.

In the post, she offers three recommendations for secondary school students for the summer.

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian
  • Buy yourself a new notebook

You can’t argue with that logic so it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. As I rethink this post, it may be even more relevant. As Tim noted during the show, he noted a drop off in student engagement with the Minister of Education indicated that marks wouldn’t count.

So, perhaps the Summer Slump started for some students even earlier than usual.

C’mon students – take her advice.


Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 24th, 2020

I’m guessing that I’m part of the choir that David Petro preaches to. I enjoy his Friday look around at the world of mathematics. I do wonder about his abbreviation for July though.

This time, he’s encouraging engagement in a couple of Twitter discussions in addition to his regular collection of:

  • Resource Links
  • Video Links
  • Image Links

The discussion and images in the Image Link is a reminder that skillful people can make statistics say just about anything – including incorrect things.


Please take the time to click through and read each of these wonderful posts. Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter for further engagement.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tim King – @mechsymp
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Idil Abdulkadir – @Idil_A_
  • Lisa Corbett – @lisacorbett0261
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This post was originally posted at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As you know, this post is finalized on a Thursday and scheduled for Friday morning at 5:00. It’s raining a bit right now and so I’m getting a jump on things. I’m downloading another Macintosh update (they keep threatening to stop supporting my 8 year old machine but the updates keep coming) and my radio station is playing “Magic Man” by Heart in the background. The only thing that’s better would be to check in on some blog posts from amazing Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s some of what I caught this past week. I’m delighted that so many of them were new to me.


The Work and Auditing a Yearbook

Melanie White was a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs (download the podcast here if you missed her live) As a Department Head, she is responsible for things happening in her department and she forced herself to do an “audit” of the yearbook after an email concern coming from a student in her school.

It was like a previous blog post that I had read on the Heart and Art blog from Arianna Lambert. The student was concerned about the lack of representation in the yearbook of events that happened during Black History Month and that an image covering that was put in the “School Spirit” section.

This threw my mind back to my own high school yearbooks and how I addressed them. I was essentially a consumer since I never worked on it but I did what I suspect most people did. I eventually looked at it from cover to cover but first I checked out places where I expected to see myself. Home room, basketball team, wrestling team, … After all, the yearbook covers a school for a year but it should also document what I did during that year. It’s not an easy job. To overlook my contributions would be a slam. Every student should see themselves there and not just a subset of the school.

Melanie goes on to talk about some of the research she’s done (with links) and how it’s impacted her thinking. One of the new terms that I picked up from the post is the concept of the “inclusive yearbook” and what that should mean.

Her post may end up having you pull a yearbook off your bookshelf and taking a look at how your own school is represented. There’s nothing wrong with a new lens.

This is an important read for you this week.


MOVING AWAY FROM REMOTE EMERGENCY LEARNING

Jason Lay has an underlining couple of messages in this post.

First, everyone was thrown into this emergency learning environment as a result of school building closures. I think that it’s important to mention this all the time. The building closed but the school didn’t shut down.

Good teachers taught; those students that stayed with the program learned. Most people will acknowledge that it wasn’t the same and wasn’t as effective but they made it work to the level that they could. It’s a new school year in September and, while we don’t know what it might look like just yet, the expectation should be that it will be better than this past spring since everyone has more experience in the emergency learning environment.

The second point is a not-so-subtle dig at the way that technology has traditionally been used in schools.

“Inadequate professional development and training” discloses that it may not have been used well face to face and so didn’t really have a fair start in the emergency. School districts need to learn that throwing iPads at a student audience, loaded with apps, and sending them off to “play with it” isn’t effective for the long haul. I should note that the word “training” above grinds my gears. I’ve mentioned many times that you train a dog, not teachers.

Many subject associations have stepped up to the plate to offer professional learning opportunities for teachers. Jason will be sharing his story late in August; the timing scares me because there are all other kinds of things that will be happening in the teaching world as people prepare to return to whatever turns out.

There is a big missing piece in all this and that is all the new teachers that will be going into their first classroom this fall. Are they prepared and equipped?


Your Virtual Classroom is not a Classroom

The title to this post from Franziska Beeler intrigued me and so I just had to read her thoughts.

Virtual classrooms probably aren’t the same as regular classrooms but they’re the only game in town for the past months.

Teaching in-person versus teaching online isn’t just a matter of a different delivery system. Teaching online not only changes the outcomes but also the very product of education as we know it: the classroom.

Into the discussion, she brings McLuhan. I thought this was both fair and unfair.

Fair because truly people were working in another medium although it often appears to function differently depending upon the device chosen.

Unfair because I always felt that McLuhan’s message implied that people had a choice of medium to use. In this case, there was no choice. The classroom indeed had become virtual.

A serious point to consider as well is that a classroom shouldn’t just be a vehicle for delivering content. It may have been that way this spring as a result of convenience but I’m sure that teachers all over the province are planning to do more than just deliver content this fall.


What Does Race Have to do With Math?

Author of “Everyone Can Learn Math“, you’d think that Alice Aspinall would have all the answers. The recent events with the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movements have made her look at her own classroom and subject area.

Add to that the rationale behind the ending of streaming in Grade 9 in Ontario schools and you have all the pieces for a deep reflection and she took to the EduMatch Publishing blog to share her thoughts.

She notes that she’s long been an advocate for involving girls in mathematics and that seemed natural to her. It’s her “place of confidence and comfort”. Stepping back, she’s now become aware of the lack of Black, Indigenous, and students of colour in her classrooms. Where they’ve chosen mathematics as a course option, they’ve been streamed away from the higher level classes. I can understand how this is a difficult issue to embrace and admire her efforts to bring it forth in this blog post so that all can share in her observations and wisdom.

It’s a wonderful reflection and will undoubtedly ramp up her enthusiasm for exciting all students to engage in all mathematics courses.

I would think that this is the type of reflection that all parent, students, educators, principals, and importantly guidance counsellors should engage in. It will be interesting in a year to follow up and see if she can indeed make a difference.


Fostering Literacies to Empower Life-Long Learners: A Look at the CLA’s Leading Learning

Around here, I have nothing but respect for teacher-librarians and how they’re reinventing themselves. It doesn’t take long to find a teacher-librarian who blogs about their move away from the traditional library.

While this is the topic studied in this post from Laura Beal, she approaches it from the perspective of a visitor to the learning commons and what it can do to support her work in literacy.

Coming from Upper Grand, it only makes sense that her paths had crossed with Alanna King and she cites Alanna’s Master’s work. In particular, she focuses on the notion of transliteracy which is an amalgam of “information literacy, critical literacy, digital literacy and citizenship, cultural literacy”. Instead of considering these as distinct literacies, the notion here is a blend of the concepts.

Laura indicates that she’s on the way to become a teacher-librarian herself and has embraced Alanna’s and the Canadian Library Association leadership. These are definitely two terrific resources.

Good luck with your coursework.


Avoid the Summer Slump: for Secondary Students

And Laura’s post led me to the teacher-librarian guru’s blog herself where she’s sharing some advice for secondary school students for the summer.

For everyone, it’s going to be a different summer. For students though, it may be especially difficult. Normally, these students pick up on various jobs throughout their communities. What happens though when those jobs don’t exist?

What’s a librarian going to recommend to avoid just sitting in a lawn chair?

Sit in a lawn chair and

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian 
  • Buy yourself a new notebook 

Why?
Alanna has a rationale for each of those points.

How?
Alanna has suggestions there for each

Teacher-librarians have all the answers.


Be Kind Be Calm Be Safe

For me, it was always Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”. But for Tammy Axt …

Over the past 15 years, I have played a little Kool and The Gang’s Celebration to kick off summer. I usually do a little dance down the hallway and groove my way out of my classroom. This year, I got up from my kitchen table, closed my computer and walked 3 steps to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Ce-le-brate Good Times Come On!”

Then she has her own advice for educators for this summer, concluding a spring like no other

  • Be kind
  • Be calm
  • Be safe

and she elaborates fully on each of them. Terrific advice.

(I’m sorry to read that she fell at home. I hope she can take her own advice and be safer.)


Please take the time to click through and read these posts at their source. Note that Laura has changed the address of her blog if you’re bookmarking things.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Jason Lay – @jlay02
  • Franziska Beeler – @franziskabeeler
  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Laura Beal – @BealsyLaura
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Judging backgrounds


Things are certainly different these days. I’ve never had so many meetings online as I’ve had in the past few months.

Before that, they were kind of a novelty. You’d join the Zoom, Meet, or Skype call and wave to folks and then turn the camera off. With meetings lasting sometimes for an hour or more, nobody needed to see what I was doing. I did make a mistake once and left the camera on for a CSTA meeting and the folks saw that I had a glass of wine. After the heckling, it seemed like a good idea and people joined in in the future. These days, I still meet with Computer Science teachers from the University of Northern Iowa for a beer on Friday afternoon. We start each meeting sharing what we have that particular day.

I suppose that judging how people look in their conference room was always a possibility but we’ve found over the past while that many people focus on what’s behind you. As my son would call you, Judgey McJudge.

I’ve started to pay more attention to interviews on television in particular and what people have in the background. It’s amazing the political statements, pictures, and if they’ve written a book, how it’s in the background. In the movies, we would call that product placement and it’s something that companies pay big bucks to have (who can forget Reese’s Pieces in E.T.); now it’s something that everyone does.

So, what does my typical background look like?

This was a typical picture. My wife would complain that I didn’t wear a shirt with a collar and I’d reply that the one I’m wearing was at the top of the drawer. To my left, you’ll see a tie rack with all kinds of dusty ties. Why do I keep them all? Who knows?

To my right, you’ll see a bookshelf with packed books that could easily fill two bookshelves except I’m too cheap to buy another one. Straight behind me, you’ll see a door. Where does it go? Well, when we added this room onto the house, I wanted a computer area and got it. My wife wanted a second washroom and it’s right behind me. It’s convenient but be aware that the next time we video chat, I might be in the bathtub or at the sink shaving. To my extreme left, you’ll see a patio door that gets left open in moderate temperatures. If you listen to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast, you might occasionally hear wind chimes from the patio if the weather is right and the door is open.

That’s my digital home for the most part. I did try another location for one of my meetings with a CSTA friend. I went out to the patio and was sitting in a chair and it was going well … until the wind picked up. Embarrassingly, I ended up looking like I was in a snow storm with the poplar fluffies coming down and eventually the wind knocked over the umbrella right on top of me. I had to finish the call holding it in one hand. I wish I’d taken a picture.

So, that’s my story and I’ll bet you know what the call to action at the end of this post will be.

But first …

Those who are doing video online are open for judgement too. There’s a user called “Room Rater” on Twitter. The purpose of the account seems to be to capture images and rate them. (D’uh, the name gives it away)

Who could forget the images of our Prime Minister in front of his cottage, addressing the nation.

By this metric, it gets a 9/10. Not bad at all.

Going to this user and scrolling through the screen captures and commentary is fun and interesting.

So, the call to action. You can rate me if you wish but I’d be interested in your own experiences doing online video calls.

What do you have in your background? What do you have in your background that you wish you didn’t? How much planning went into setting things up? Or, anything else about video chatting that you’re interested in sharing. Please do.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This Wednesday, Matthew Morris joined Stephen Hurley and me for This Week in Ontario, the Podcast. You can listen to it here. With Matthew’s insights, we took on a few new topics. You can read my thoughts about them below. As always, insights from great Ontario Edubloggers.


5 Things Every Teacher Should Do During Summer Break

This was a post from Matthew Morris. Here, he takes on the very popular blogging format “# Things …” and shares some advice about what to do during this time off.

  • Sleep
  • Purge Your Classroom
  • Un-Plug
  • Reflect on the Year
  • One New Thing for Next Year

Fortunately, for the podcast, he woke up early and plugged in, thereby breaking at least two rules on his list! But, as you work your way down the list, you’ll undoubtedly agree with them. Most support the notion of mental well-being.

I found that the “Reflect on the Year” to be one of the more interesting things when you consider that most people would consider this a year to forget. To be certain, we don’t know what the fall will look like so consolidating them with the on the fly learning that’s happened in the past few months could be very important.

It’s also advice that Subject Associations should be heeding. For the most part, teachers made it work but I’m sure that many of them could provide guidance to make things better. Just this morning, ACSE member Lisa Rubini-Laforest indicated that she will be leading a panel discussion at their virtual conference this summer about teaching online. All Subject Associations should be highlighting their expertise in this area and the sooner the better.

Take the lead; do them early, record them and place them online so that they’re accessible when most school districts do their end of August professional learning.


Cancel Culture and our students

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that social media has got meaner over the past few months. Personally, I have isolated some people from me because of a number of reasons. I’m emotionally happier as a result.

The concept has not gone unnoticed by Jennifer Casa-Todd and she takes on the topic in this post from the perspective of students. They can be brutal at times. She asks about various things that will get you thinking. One in particular struck me as needing to be answered.

If we are talking about adolescents, will their entire future be marred by one mistake?

Of course, Jennifer has many other thinking points and that will make reading her post worthwhile.

Trending this morning is this post from Margaret Wente

It’s an insight from the other side, from one who was “cancelled” due to pressure from Social Media.


6 Similes to describe how it felt to teach during COVID 19 Quarantine

During the podcast, I mused that only teachers and students would be able to use the word “similes” properly. Matthew indicated that rappers could as well!

In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Will Gourley does a top six list…

“Teaching during a quarantine”

The similes are certainly worth the read and has to bring a smile to everyone. I know it did for me. I also learned that AWOL doesn’t always have the meaning that I thought it did after watching years of M*A*S*H.

It seems to me that the best of the six was comparing learning to eating an ice cream code with a hole in the bottom. Read the post to see Will tell you why he feels that way.

It’s a great read and I get a sense that it might have been healing for Will as he got a lot off his chest. Read and share.


ENGAGING FAMILIES – COVID AND BEYOND

Where students come from a family to school, the insights from With Equal Step are really important.

Over and over again, we heard about how parents had a renewed appreciation for teachers (or a first appreciation) and how teachers had appreciated the support received from families.

The observations in the post about silos and bridges are important. There’s wisdom here for everyone.

While teachers and parents may be frustrated that they can no longer easily hand off our child to the other at the door, our new immersive connection reminds us that, “Diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones.”


How do research plans change in a COVID context? #MyResearch

I think that everyone could learn something from the observations in Anna Bartosik’s post.

I think that most people can envision the days of going to the library to grab some books or microfiche and doing the research. Since Anna made the reference to OISE, I remembered a couple of coffee places and the cafeteria at FEUT where many of us would meet and work together on things.

So, now you take all that away.

Well, we now have different/better tools. Just open a shared online document and a video conferencing window and take it from there. Anna shares her experience working in this environment.

microphone icon from noun project

Sure, we have the tools, better tools but …

And, I also learned about the Noun Project.


Is This When We Change Our View Of Planning?

I love it when Aviva Dunsiger says I’m right.

As Doug indicated in his comment, many people might be preparing for worst case scenarios right now. While I was quick to reply that my teaching partner, Paula, and I are not doing that, maybe that’s not completely true.

Well, maybe not in so many words but I’ll take what I can get.

So, Aviva is doing some planning

  • I’m planning for possibilities
  • I’m planning with connections
  • I’m planning to connect
  • I’m planning through reading
  • I’m planning to blog

Knowing her as I think I do, none of these come as real surprises.

Probably all teachers could say they’re doing these things and they wouldn’t be wrong. But I would point to the one in the middle. (Mental note: should have used a numbered list)

The value of connecting needs to go further than “I gots me a Twitter account”. Connecting means building that account to have a critical mass of wisdom both supporting and challenging your assumptions and more importantly to put yourself out there, offering advice, asking for suggestions, working collaboratively, being humble…

Just don’t get yourself cancelled.


MakerEdTO 2020 Virtual Conversations

I’m really liking it when organizations are rolling with the punches and coming out the other side winning.

MakerEdTO is one of those groups and Diana Maliszewski shares with us how it was done.

Of course, they couldn’t get together and make things happen by all being in the same place at the same time. It wasn’t talking heads; they worked on giving everyone selection and used online breakout rooms to make it happen.

There’s a great deal to be learned from this post and I’m sure Diana would be more than accommodating for those who want to ask questions to make educational gatherings like this work, even in these times.


Please take the time to click through and read all these wonderful posts and then follow these educators online through Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • With Equal Step – @WithEqualStep
  • Anna Bartosik – @ambartosik
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL

This post appears on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Media bias


As a reply to my post on Thursday, Peter McAsh shared this rather messy looking chart.

It was definitely “busy” and so I took a quick look and then moved on to whatever else I was doing at the time. I left it open in another tab and got a chance to go back and look at it later.

These days, we are all deluged with messages from media and particularly from south of the border. The chart is a rather complicated organization of various news media ranging from left-learning to right-meaning and also the reliability of the sources. You can access the entire resource here.

For those interested in US news, it may confirm or put into focus for the various sources.

I zoomed in as much as I could looking for CBC or CTV or any other Canadian news sources but couldn’t find anything. Obviously, the focus here was for the US. There are lots of interesting resources included on the site, including the methodology used to categorize each of the news sources. Then, I started to click on the news sources below the chart where you can zero in on any given news media to highlight its placement.

It was there that I happened to clue in on just how the chart was created. It’s a Google Slide document and the clicks just take you to a slide to focus on the source you just clicked. Putting it together with 100 entries would be a tedious process but not beyond the abilities of anyone who has ever used Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint and modified a master template.

In fact, for Canadian purposes, it would be an interesting project to analyze how this was put together and then create your own with Canadian media sources. There definitely is a great opportunity for analyzing news sources and then considering their focus.