This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Melanie White joined Stephen Hurley and me on the radio show this week. It was a great opportunity for discussion and, just like her blogging, her thoughts had me thinking afterwards. That’s always a good thing.

Here are the blog posts that we chatted about on the show and a couple bonus ones.

Resonances #SOL2021

It was a week of vacation and then Melanie White and colleagues were back at it, lesson planning. This time, they’re working on a Grade 9 destreamed grade 9 English classes. I think we’re all aware of what’s going to happen with Grade 9 Mathematics and, if successful, the concept will probably extend to other subject areas and English certainly would be one of them. As I read this, I thought they were just getting ahead of the game.

Then, her discussion turned to music. I initially thought that was a strange twist until I realized that I’m listening to music as I type this. It’s how I work best so why not others. It resonated with Melanie:

To resonate is to vibrate, to reverberate, to carry across, to understand.

She closes with an interesting thought about the sounds of music and voice and how they resonate with her. I couldn’t have said it so eloquently and I think she totally nailed it. In the show, we touched on the difference between digital and everything else when it came to music.

The power in gathering 

I’ve heard and used the expression, “when you get the right people in the right place at the same time, amazing things happen”. I don’t know who to attribute it to but it rings so true to me.

For Ann Marie Luce, it started online with a group of “bad-ass women leaders striving to disrupt and change the landscape for other women leaders” and she describes the process that ended up in a face-to-face meeting.

Their focus?

  • Challenging the status quo
  • Making room at the table for other women 
  • Mentoring women of all ages
  • Empowering women 
  • Sponsoring women
  • Asking difficult questions
  • Getting uncomfortable 
  • Pushing limits, boundaries, and thinking
  • Wanting more and demanding more
  • Speaking up
  • Using our singular and collective voices. 
  • Gathering with other women in the community.
  • Journeying together
  • Being vulnerable 

It’s such a powerful list. The one that really struck me was about “gathering with other women in the community”. Years ago, through a partnership with IBM, we sponsored a “Women in Technology” program for Grade 7 and 8 girls. They were excused from their regular class to work with a group of women from the community. The product was to produce a webpage but the real magic happened just with the discussion amongst them with their mentor. My part was in the organizing and to bring the snacks. Then, I left. The feedback from teachers, mentors, and the students themselves was overly positive. I did have an inside to what was going on; my daughter a university student at the time, shared her experience. She felt it so overwhelmingly positive.

So yes, Ann Marie, continue to collect these bad-ass disruptors.

Decodable Texts and Other Reading Programs? What is the difference?

I learned so much from this post from Deborah McCallum. I think I knew much of the basic concepts going into the post but I’ve never taught in this area so it was really at a cursory level.

In the post, she explains how decodable texts work as well as leveled reading programs. Somehow, I guess, they were all tied together but it’s much deeper than that. I can understand now Reading is an additional qualifications course.

There are some links in the blog post to free decodable resources if you’re looking for them.

She had me thinking about my own process of learning how to read. I don’t recall any particular issues but I learned how to read better when I bought a book at Coles that taught me how to speed read. Deborah’s post had me smiling when I thought about this; I haven’t heard anyone talking about speed reading for years. Maybe it was just a fad that I jumped on at the time?

Melanie left this link in our show notes – it’s long but a good read –

Le check-in: stratégie indispensable pour le leader

I’m not sure that I have much to add to this post from Joel McLean except that he absolutely nails it.

Personally, I had a supervisor who was absolutely terrific with this. We would meet as a group of people from our department and then he and I would meet one-to-one and discuss exactly what Joel outlines in the post.

  • What are your priorities this week?
  • In what ways can I help you?

I value those meetings. It was the first time that I felt that someone else was sincerely interested in what I was doing and that he had the power (and budget) to make it happen. This included sending me to leadership opportunities as well.

In his retirement, I still get together every now and again for a coffee and darn if he doesn’t include these questions as part of our discussion. It was a special bond that we have and I’ll be eternally grateful for it.


Writing on the TESL Blog, Svjetlana Vrbanic offers some insights about how to get away from work and move to vacation.

In a regular world, it might be a great deal easier. After all, you see the school in your rear view mirror and head to the comfort of home. This past year has melded those two environments. People have purchased more technology and comfy workspaces for working at home and you can’t get away from them!

In the post, Svjetlana offers some suggestions for all to transition to vacation. It’s a good list and well worth the read.

Then, she shares with us a series of pledges to herself for how she’s going to handle her own vacation. This is a very personal post and yet I think she speaks for just about every educator in the province! They’re all in roughly the same boat at this time.

Ideas for the First Week of School

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, now that we’re into August, thoughts are or will be turning to the return to school. Of course, there are some schools with a different schedule who are already back at it.

I’ve heard rumours of the mindset that Jennifer talks about about “not smiling until Christmas”. I hope that it’s just that – a rumour.

Instead, she offers a better solution.

I have come to learn that serious learning can happen even if (or better if) you develop a positive relationship with your students instead.

So, how to you do that?

In the post, Jennifer offers seven suggestions and she’s looking for you to add to the list. I’d encourage it if you have some great ideas. Together, we’re better when we share.

If you’re not in the return to work mindset yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that, bookmark her post for inspiration once you’re there. It’s inevitable.

Comic Strips: Side effects

In addition to being an educator, Paul Gauchi is also a comic strip author.

I’m a fan of comic strips, particularly those that poke their finger at current events and politics. We do need more outrageous politicians this side of the border to help generate material though!

For July, Paul takes on vaccinations…

I hope that you can take a few moments and click through to read these terrific blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Deborah McCallum – @bigideasinedu
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This Week in Ontario Edublogs – August 4

Songs about Dads

I guess you know that people read your blog when they write to feel alienated. That happened this past week when Aviva Dunsiger checked me about my post dealing with rock songs that didn’t make a top 50 list. “Why not country?”, she asked as she passed along this link. Figuring into this was Will Gourley’s terrific post about being a father.

Any “Top #” list opens it up to people who want to add to it. So here I am.

Now, I come to my music appreciation honestly. Growing up, there were two stations that played for us – CKLW and CKNX. Between the two of them, I got a good background in rock, Motown, and country music.

I took a look at the list that Aviva provided and I knew so many of them. But, of course, there were some left off the list. And, here they are! Well, at least ten more of them.

Mr. Mom” – Lonestar

“My Last Name” – Dierks Bentley

“Highway 20 Ride” – Zac Brown Band

“Song For Dad” – Keith Urban

“He Walked on Water” – Randy Travis 

“The Walk” – Sawyer Brown

“You Should Be Here”Cole Swindell

“There You’ll Be”Faith Hill

I Wish I Could Have Been There” – John Anderson

“Cat’s in the Cradle”Harry Chapin
(maybe not pure country but still an awesome song)

Ball’s in your court. Can you add to the list?

A great list but …

We did get away for a long full day of travel and friend meetup yesterday. Pro tip – every road that you want to go on in Huron County is under constructions. Particularly north of Bayfield, I was on concession roads that I didn’t know existed! It was a great day highlighted by lunch with some dear friends in Blyth at the Cowbell and getting a chance to see Artist’s Alley in Clinton. Of course, visiting the beaches in Grand Bend, Bayfield, and Goderich was on the itinerary.

Since the dog didn’t come with us, we took the car and listened to XMRadio the whole way. I had had this article in my mind and so the radio was stuck on Classic Rock the entire way. It was amazing to notice so many of the songs in the article being on played.

I also had Marc Hodgkinson on the mind too. Regular readers of this blog will note that I’m following his blog as he counts down the greatest 500 albums on all time, inspired by a podcast.

I couldn’t help but remark on the scope of the two posts – 50 versus 500. So, I focused on the 50 because it was easier. Whenever someone gives you their “top” list, things are always open to scrutiny. In this case, the #1 album in my opinion came in as #2. I couldn’t believe that anyone would put any band above Led Zepplin’s IV but Pink Floyd did. Not a bad choice but not the way that I would have ranked them. The standings are crowd voted so there’s still hope. I know that I checked in.

I came to album collecting late – at university. All the money that I made at high school doing jobs went to a college education. But once I got there, I was inspired by my roommate to get moving. So, we did – he had an awesome stereo in our room and we collected albums in milk crates for vertical storage and protected them with Angel Sleeves. We didn’t also want to collect pops and clicks. Who would have predicted the perfect digital world that we moved to. I still have that collection and pull albums from their to enjoy.

In addition to the album name and descriptor, the author selects a “Key Track”. That’s also up for debate in my mind.

His choices:

  1. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon – Us And Them
  2. Led Zeppelin – IV – Stairway to Heaven
  3. The Beatles – Abbey Road – Come Together
  4. Led Zeppelin – II – Whole Lotta Love
  5. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Good choices but how about?

  1. Pink Floyd – Money
  2. Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll
  3. The Beatles – Octopus’s Garden
  4. Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
  5. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

With a list of 50, obviously there would be some cuts. Let me add a quick six to the list.

Strawbs – Hero and Heroine = “Hero and Heroine”

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising – “Lodi”

Guess Who – American Woman – “No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature”

Supertramp – Even in the Quietest Moments – “Give a Little Bit”

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – Beautiful Loser – “Katmandu”

Oh man, I could keep going.

I thought that it would have been a challenge coming up with the 500 list. But the 50 list just left out some great stuff.

How about you. What would you add to a great 50 list?