This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been a month already.  From the heat of the first week to the change in the colours of the leaves letting us know that winter is on the way, it’s been quite a month.  It’s been quite a month for Ontario Edubloggers as well.

I got a message from Aviva Dunsiger this morning about this week’s theme of maps on this blog.

There’s been some great things posted that I’ve read recently.  Here’s how they mapped out their learning.


Do Not Silence Women of Colour

I don’t think that any comment that I can make would do any justice to this post from Rusul Alrubail.  My advice is to just read it.  It will be the most important thing that you read today.


Disrupting Morning Announcements

I’ve long lived by the thought that technology allows us to do things differently or allows us to do different things.  It’s the concept of doing different things that I think excites most of us.  In this post, Jared Bennett takes on the process of morning announcements.  I’ll admit; it’s an area that I never thought about but it appears to be a thing in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The post shares three “versions” on the theme and it does … as Jared says, “perhaps we were trying to see how many different pipes we could connect together before reaching our destination”.  Planning is key to this working; I have visions of myself feverishly printing an announcement (my handwriting has always been horrible) while our student announcers were already starting to read the morning announcements hoping that I’d get it done in time.

Key to this is that when the announcements were done, they’d be pinned to a bulletin board in the office so that late arrivals could find out what they missed or students could double check any announcement that was important to them.  Parents weren’t even in the picture.  Jared offers a version that, with a little effort, is parent inclusive.  You’ve got to like that.


Be a Catalyst for Change

I was tagged in the announcement of this post from David Carruthers.

I do have a couple of feelings about this.

I really like and think that it’s important to encourage and promote those teachers who have developed a great idea and want to share it with others via webinar or blog post or whatever.  I think that it supports and demonstrates a healthy learning and sharing culture.  How can you not like that?

There’s also the other side.  I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the webinar.  Unless it’s carefully crafted, it’s the ultimate talking head sit and listen experience.  It’s also difficult to let the audience take the topic into their own world.  “It may work in your classroom but …”  There are also so many advantages to having a district person involved; they know what resources are available to everyone, they know who has worked with the concept as well, they get time to plan and research a topic, they can help make district-wide connections.

Perhaps sharing all that with the presenter would help to put it over the top.  Or getting together to offer a face to face session and record that for those who couldn’t attend or want to revisit it?

I still have memories of our Primary consultant who would check my PD schedule and would come in to help me set up and would have a display of literature or other resources related to the topic being addressed.

The original model should be supported and developed so that anyone who wants to be a “change agent” (whether they call themselves that or not) can “take others along for the journey”.


Experiencing and learning with our 5 Senses

First of all, I love Fort William.  It sounds like Peter Cameron’s class had a terrific field trip.

How many times do field trips get taken but there’s little to no followup?   Not in your class, of course, but in others….

Writing or talking about a trip only addresses a couple of senses.  How about them all?

Now there’s a way to get more from your field trip buck!


How Do We Give Everyone A Chance To Find Their Space?

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, being in the hall was not a place of honour or desirable!  For Aviva Dunsiger, it’s her reflection space.

The big takeaway for me is a reminder that traditionally schools operate in a one size fits all mode, including their learning space.

Read Aviva’s post and you’ll be asking yourself, does it really have to be that way?

Oh, and she could have posted a map of her school and her corner if she really wanted to be true to the theme.


Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

When was the last time you read a good lesson plan?

For today’s assignment, check out how Laura Wheeler introduced the concept of similar triangles to her MFM class.

I had to smile at the effective use of a student teacher.

You’ve got to figure that Laura benefited from it, the students got a chance to explore the concept hands-on and the student teacher walked away with her/his own set of triangles to use in their practice.  Winners all around.

There’s even a reflection point where Laura wonders about a concept that she used with the students.  Nice out loud thinking.


Volunteer at #BIT16

As we count down to Bring IT, Together, Peter McAsh is turning the screws on committee members to post something to the website.  This week Colleen Rose talks about the advantages of volunteering at the conference.

Her post come complete with a sketchnote as the background for a ThingLink.


What a nice collection of posts.  Please take a moment to click through and read the originals and leave a comment or two.  Then, check out the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers for some more inspiration.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It most certainly is autumn.  Pumpkins for sale everywhere; mums coming out in bloom; and lots of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s a bunch of what I caught this week.  Enjoy.


Growing Pains

It’s the time of year to start afresh.  Even if you’ve taught the same subject or grade for a number of years, it’s always a new start and there’s that awkward first little bit that happens at the beginning of the year.  In Eva Thompson’s case, she’s taking on a new job and trying to fill the shoes of someone who had been in that position for a number of years.  That’s a “double whammy”.  But, I’m sure that her enthusiasm will make the transition complete, given a little bit of time and patience.  It doesn’t sound like there’s anything else standing in her road.

Now, if I can translate my pure enthusiasm for this job, to the people who might witness these temporary blips on the radar, I’m sure I can convince people I will be great at this job. If I see someone who loves what they do, even if they can’t solve my problem that instant, I know they will at least put the effort in to get me the answers I need. I hope others feel the same way!


Higher Education is Pushing More Professors into Poverty

This moving post, from Rusul Alrubail, may well be an eye opener for those of us who don’t work full time in higher education.  In K-12, we are so fortunate to have strong teacher federations that keep things honest.  Just like Rusul describes, there are activities that everyone does that they don’t get paid for.  There are some statistics that she quotes that I wish had some reference for follow up, like so many professors living in poverty.  It was a wakeup read for me.

No one talked about the changes. It happened behind closed doors. Teachers were hurt. We said goodbyes and shed some tears, all behind closed doors. And that hurt the most. Many full time faculty didn’t even know what was happening with their colleagues. Hence the phone call from my chair. Each contract faculty apparently got one. The college didn’t want to go on email records and let people know this was happening.


Moving

I had a bit of private discussion with Sheila Stewart who read and contacted me when I talked about blogs that have seem to have stopped publishing.  She was considering pulling the plug on her own efforts.  But, she still has a couple of posts in her!

It would be sad if she calls it a day and so I’m hoping that she doesn’t.

Her blog is one of the ones that come to mind when I think of one that has developed so much content over its lifetime.  It truly would be sad if it went away.


Not All Who Wander Are Lost – A Lesson in Leadership Paths

Who hasn’t heard this expression.  In this blog post, Tina Zita uses the quote from Tolkien to do her own thinking about leadership, particularly as it applies to education.

Education seems to have a pretty clear pathway for leadership: step 1 leads to step 2 leads to step 3, the quicker the better. Like the city walls, they become a constant reminder of a common path I haven’t chosen to take yet.

I have to totally agree with her analysis and summary.  That’s the current reality.

At the same time, I think that it speaks volumes about why we don’t get the massive changes in education from those who aspire to be leaders.  It seems to me that so much time is spent playing the game that valuable time is lost discovering just where your true talents lie.

One of the concepts that is in vogue with students is Genius Hour.  I wonder if true professional wandering wouldn’t be the equivalent for teachers and shouldn’t be perceived as the traits that would inspire an educational organization.  I think that we’ve all seen those “Google Interview Questions” that are completely out in left field to try to identify those candidates that would bring effective change and new thinking.  Why aren’t they honoured in education?


The Current on Homework

If you have a minute, check out this blog post from StepfordTO and then spend the next half hour listening to the interview made with Anna Maria Tremonti.  The focus is on homework, a topic that nobody is neutral on these days.

It’s much easier to implicitly blame kids for their own troubles and individualize the problem of stress (by offering coping mechanisms and time management guidance) than it is to acknowledge one’s complicity perpetuating a school culture of overwork that harms kids. So once again there’s an elephant in the room of the debates about teen mental health. (Spoiler: its name is homework.)

It’s too bad that there aren’t any comments to this blog post at present.  Why not leave one and share your thoughts.


Where did that teacher go? Helping students to make their own decisions

I really like this post by Kristin Phillips.  As I was reading it, a few things came to mind.

  • the problem with math, particularly on high stakes tests is that some of the questions are “tricky”.  Now, I like a good puzzle as much as the next person but should a problem that’s “tricky” be included in such a test?  Is the goal not to test the understanding of mathematics?  Why not test the mathematics abilities and leave the “tricky” to the classroom activity where time to think and analyse things is more liable to be successful.  Is the inclusion on a test an effort to keep scores down?
  • Bandwagons – we’ve seen them all (to date) and there are more to come.  Who determines which one to jump on?  Is it worthwhile to jump on the latest and most fashionable when you’re not ready to go all in with it?  Kristin sums it nicely –

We may give lip service to critical thinking and open-ended tasks.  But I urge us all to think about whether our classroom practice is really training our students to be independent thinkers, or whether we actually train them to rely on our guidance.  It’s hard to be a teacher and watch your students struggle.


Change takes time and care

The title here from Melanie White says it all.

Then, she goes deeper.  What a great concept – share with her Grade 9 students who she is, where she’s from, and why she’s a bit nervous herself.

The information is given in what appears to be a number of slides from a presentation.  It was interesting to see her history so I’m sure that the students appreciated it.

The most powerful slide – the last one, call to action, of course.


Engagement in Professional Learning

Nicole MordenCormier’s post is a reminder that effective schools is a balance of things and, this time, she takes on the concept of learning – both from the student and the teacher perspective.

A tension that has once again emerged in this process is the need to balance the urgent learning needs of our students with the learning interests of our educators.  We know from our Conditions for Learning that to achieve that permanent change in thinking and behaviour that defines learning (Katz and Dack) the learner needs to see the learning as important to them, relevant to their world, and job-embedded.

I like the fact that she addresses the needs of the teaching professional and their desire to grow and learn and suggests ways that it might be addressed in a learning plan.   I wonder if this would include wandering?


Whoo hoo! BreakOutEDU is coming to #BIT16

Of course, you come to the Bring IT, Together Conference for the learning.

This year, that learning includes a BreakOutEDU session.  What’s that?  Check out the SketchNote.

Then, get your registration in.


As always, it’s been a wonderful collection of reading this past week.  Why not drop by the blogs in this post and read them in their entirety.  And, drop off a comment or two!

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I was at a bit of a crossroads with my collection of Ontario Edublogs last week and so sought some advice from readers.  Those that responded in public and in private were very convincing.  I’ll leave things the way they are for the present.  There are some new things that I read this week.  Check them out.  You may notice a theme.


Teaching as a creative act

Even as I create this post, I’m chatting with a friend about the use of a template as a way to use technology in the classroom.  Jim Cash, in this post, talks about relationships and learning.  There’s also the element of respect.  When you’re working with a template, you expect that most results will be reasonably similar.  Does that illustrate respect for the learner?  Allowing students to become creative honours their efforts.  As the title to the post implies, it can only happen when the teacher and teaching is creative.  There’s nothing much creative about photoglopping a black line master or the digital equivalent – handing out a template of a file for completion.

I see relationships and learning as very closely related; both are creative acts. They are creative because every day they need to be nurtured, utilized, examined, improved, and remade. The heart of constructivism is that knowledge, skills and values are built over time in socially safe and growth-focused environments. Knowledge building is never done.


Teaching is a Creative Act

In Jim’s post, he indicated that he was tagged along with a number of others to get involved with the discussion about teaching being a creative act.  The original tagger was Matthew Oldridge and he shared his thoughts in this post.

I had to smile at this paragraph in his post.

When I started out teaching, I thought I was “supposed” to come up with brand new lessons every day. That’s what I thought the job was, but then, if I was stuck for ideas, I would feel bad.

I know that, as a new computer science / data processing teacher, I absolutely had to come up with new lessons and ideas.  There was no formal curriculum; there was no textbook; there really was no experience I could draw on except for my own.  It made for some very short nights, making up content for all the classes.  In the long run, I think it worked out for the best.  It was only after I got my permanent contract that I found out that there was a department budget for resources and then dared approach my department to get my share.  To be honest, I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.  So, like I would suggest virtually every computer science teacher does, I did a backward design from what I wanted the students to learn to the activities, to the lessons, to the introductions.


Blog Challenge: Teaching as a Creative Act

Also tagged in the post was Brandon Pachan.  It was a chance for me to add another name to the Ontario Educator list and the Ontario Edublogger list.

The post starts off with an insight that only teachers will get.  Parents just think the magic happens.

Teaching is a creative act because you are balancing the process with the product while engaging an audience that is diverse, unique and also part of the cast. Creativity thrives on limitations and obstacles.

He then identifies and comments on what he feels are limitations.

  • The Physical Space
  • The Cast & Crew
  • The Transition

I think that it’s also important to add “The Resources” to the list.  So many people are having to rework old resources to try and get new and contemporary results.  Or, perhaps you have the new resources but have had no time to determine how best to use them.  That, of course, leads to “time to collaborate”.


Sharing Interests to Prompt Self-directed Writing

Related to the theme is this powerful post from Tim King who, quite frankly, I’ve always pictured in the role of a technology teacher.  But, talk about teaching and creativity.

I’m back in the classroom again and teaching English for the first time in more than a year.  I took a senior essentials English class mainly because few people want to teach it (teachers like to teach people like themselves – in this case academically focused English students), and it fit my schedule.  Essentials English is just as it sounds.  These are weak English students who are getting what they need to graduate and get out into the workplace, they aren’t post-secondary bound and tend to find school pointless.

Huge kudos to Tim for reaching out to those students in this way.


Keep A “Plans and Ideas” Google Doc Open In A Tab, Always

While poking around Matthew Oldridge’s previous post, I found this one.  He describes a technique for never losing an idea by always having a tab open in his browser to curate those ideas.

I’ve tried a number of utilities including a Google document, Google Keep, Microsoft’s OneNote (grudgingly after somehow I lost all those notes at the Microsoft PIL Event), Evernote, in a blog editor, and in just a text document.  Ideas come at the strangest of times; for me it’s often while walking the dog which means a mobile solution.  I’d forget by the time I got home and he’d lose focus at the next mailbox.  I can access both OneNote and Keep on my watch and audio capture is so good.  Of course, if you use Office 365 instead of Google, you could do this with an open instance of Word.  The key is to find something that works reliably for you so that you don’t lose those gems of inspiration.


Minecraft Education Edition #MinecraftEE – Part 3: Digging Even Deeper

This is Part 3 of a three part series reviewing Minecraft for Education.  Check out the post for links to Part 1 and Part 2.  The post is attributed to @GumbyBlockhead but if you poke around, you’ll see who is behind this.

The whole three posts are a very complete look at the Education version of Minecraft, something I don’t have access to.  So, I do appreciate the walkthrough.

I learned so much – like how to change the weather.


An Interview with Matthew Oldridge

In case you missed it, earlier this week I had the chance to post an interview that I had with Mr. Oldridge.

I found it interesting to take a look a little deeper at what makes him tick and to get some of his thoughts about mathematics.

All my interviews can be found here.


Please take a moment to click through and read all these wonderful posts.  There’s always great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.

What to do?


One of my favourite blog posts to write comes out every Friday.  I call it “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” and there have been well over 200 of these posts.

It’s my opportunity to help promote the great thinking and writing of Ontario educators.  As we know, the internet is huge and full of bloggers but I think it’s particularly important to recognize those from within the province.  I think that it’s the humility of our psyche that thinks that we need to stand second in line to others at times.  It’s my belief that nothing could be further from the truth.  Ontario thoughts need to be honoured and shared.

So, for a while, I’ve been keeping an eye on new followers or people in discussions and, if they have a blog, I add them to both of these places.  Bloggers can also self-enrol by completing the Google Form on the landing page.

It sounds like a lot of work and, perhaps it was in the beginning, but now I have a routine.  The biggest challenge is determining where the blogs go in alphabetical order since folks have the darnedest names for their blogs.

So, here’s my dilemma.

Having a blog is a good thing and people have created them for a variety of reasons.  

  • Sharing their thinking and learning
  • Sharing resources
  • Sharing your reflections on education or other things
  • You need one to prove you’re a 21st Educator (whatever that is)
  • It’s a requirement for an AQ course
  • It looks good in a professional bio
  • …who knows why?

I’ve always found it easy to blog.  I use it as my way to comment on things or, as we all know, we learn by doing.  So, I’ll experiment with something and then write a post to keep track of my thoughts.

My concern lies with those bloggers who haven’t blogged for a while.  There are a number of reasons to stop or abandon blogging and that’s OK.  It’s always a personal decision and theirs alone.

What do I do with the link to their blog though?  One of my pet peeves is reading a post “Top 10 Blogs to Follow” and then one of them hasn’t added anything in years.

For a while now, as I see a blog that hasn’t been posted to for a while, I’ve been dropping three asterisks next to it in the LiveBinder.  

Should I do more?  Since they’ve become dormant, is having the link there more of a bad thing?  I know that I get frustrated when I visit a resource that’s been seemingly abandoned.  

If it only was that simple.

The moment that I get the urge to delete – I take another look and, while the date may be old, it may have been a great thought or resource at the time.  We all didn’t start on this learning train at the same time.  Perhaps there is still the same value for the new blog reader.  So, I back away from the delete key.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts if you can spare a moment.  

Of course, it would be easiest if the original blogger just dropped a line and asked to be removed.  It’s happened once.

What would you do?  Keep building the list even though there are some dated resources or set up some sort of rule that indicates that, after a period of time, remove it.  

 

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, it’s one week down and how many more to go?  It’s been cruel for those of you who are part of this heat wave in non-airconditioned schools.  Hopefully, that will end starting today.  In the meantime, sit in front of the fan and check out these great posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


BACK TO SCHOOL – #BIT16 TO DO LIST

First off, check out the Bring IT, Together together site (follow the link above) to get a quick navigation lesson from Peter McAsh about how to get up and running for the November Ontario conference.  This is our conference, packed with presentations from fellow Ontario educators.  A few years ago when Cyndie Jacobs and I were co-chairs, we decided to add evening social events as part of the complete experience.  Now that I’m back on the committee, it’s exciting to see that the tradition is continuing.  I’m excited to participate in the BreakoutEDU event and to catch up with long time friends.  And, remember the Minds on Media experience?  It’s gone on overload and is now affectionately known as Mega Minds on Media and you have to check out the facilitators.  The program is shaping up nicely and all the sessions are posted to Lanyrd for you to check out.

Will I see you there?


My Phone

Heck yes, Royan Lee.  I completely sympathise with each and every point you describe in your post.  The post could have been called “Ode to Doug’s Phone”.

As Royan notes,

My mobile phone is with me at all times. Have you seen those posters at public swimming pools which remind parents to be at an arm’s length of their little children? I basically take that approach with my phone.

I would add that my own Moto 360 is useless without my phone in listening distance.

And, my two factor authentication requires the phone to be at hand.  I’d hate to get locked out; how would I ever blog?

My current fascination is to watch Penn and Teller’s Fool Us television show and look up the hints that Penn gives during his assessment of the performers.  Guess how?

How did I live before this?

And, if it’s good for us to learn and use the tools, why isn’t it the same for students?  Daily, there are new uses for the technology for us.  There are also times when we know that technology use is inappropriate.  Why shouldn’t we honour that with students?


Cover Artists

I like it when people share their deepest thoughts on topics and Colleen Rose does so in this post about Cover Artists.

I don’t necessarily agree with her.  If bands didn’t cover others, could you imagine a bar or a high school dance that couldn’t afford to bring in the original but can afford to bring in a band that covers others.  And sometimes the cover is better than the original in a tribute to them.

I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan and really enjoy the “Cover Me” show on Tuesday evenings when they play music from bands that have covered the E Street and songs that the E Street Band have covered.  I like to think that cover bands are pushed to be at least as good as the original.

To make my point, Colleen, please enjoy this cover of John Fogerty’s Rockin’ All Over the World.


What is a Mindset, more specifically, a Growth Mindset

As the school year starts, if you need a kick start about growth mindsets, check out Michael Quinn’s post to parents.

It’s not a huge post and certainly doesn’t dig too deeply into the academics of a growth mindset.  But, it does set the table for parents and students to understand what’s happening in his classroom.  

I think it’s a good start towards keeping parents in the loop and would suggest that it would be a nice way to start a parent/teacher interview.


Teaching Hub: Post Two, Week One

I think that any person or department whose reason for existence is to support instructors could take a lesson from this post from the Learning Design Department at Fleming College.  I found it via a post from Alana Callan so I’ll give the first credit to her.  If you follow the link on the site, you’ll see that she’s part of a support team.

It’s awesome to see the supports that they’re putting into place for the staff there.

And they have badges.  What’s not to like?


MENTAL HEALTH AS A PRIORITY: WHAT’S DIGITAL IDENTITY GOT TO DO WITH IT?

I mentioned this post, by Donna Fry, last week and I think it’s important enough that it’s worth repeating.

It’s about a presentation that she shared with North Bay and DSBONE.

Of course, there are varying levels to consider.

She was kind enough to share her slidedeck on the post.  It’s intriguing to click your way through and I can almost hear her voice in the background.

Take a few minutes to click your way through and think about this so important topic.


Teacher Learning and Leadership Program Project – Part 1

These projects are always interesting to read about and imagine just what the results might be.  So what if it was delayed by a work action or a pregnancy?

The important part is that the project is back on the rails and this lengthy post gives Jennifer Aston a chance to talk about it

The goal of our project is to connect students with other French speakers beyond the walls of the classroom using iPads.  Each of the lead team teachers has received 5 mini iPads, a VGA lightning cord, 5 Belkin Splitters and Otterboxes for the iPads.  We are going to be measuring the effects of this type of authentic French speaking and listening opportunities on FSL learning with pre and post surveys for teachers and students as well as some digital documentation and blogs.  Will student confidence increase?  Will their understanding of “why” learn French increase?  Will they see themselves more as French speakers in the world?

And the best part is that she’s headed to the BIT Conference (see the instructions above to get registered) and will be looking for connections.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


As always, thanks to the great thinking and sharing from these bloggers.  If you’re blogging yourself, please take a moment to complete the form here and I’ll get you added to the collection.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There’s been a great deal of inspiring writing from Ontario Edubloggers as we head into the Labour Day weekend.  Check out some of what I read this week.


For Some Students, Life Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair

Laurie Azzi share some of her thoughts about “some students” that I think should be a required reading and reflection as you head into Tuesday.  So much to learn and a strong reminder that things aren’t always what they seem.  It’s a reminder that not everyone is created or nurtured equally.

Despite that, you’ll have them in your class.

We all have stories that influence us as educators – the faces of our past.  For me, Tracey’s story reminds me to look behind the behaviour of the student to the underlying cause. It reminds me that sometimes we need to shine the light into the darkness where others dare not look.

It’s not a quick and easy read but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.


Leading & Building a Positive Culture as a Teacher-Librarian

Jennifer Casa-Todd takes on a new challenge next week.

Adorning the walls of her library will be this (or something like this)

By itself, it sends a strong message about the expectations in the library.

She also posted a list of 10 things that she’s going to address with respect to School Culture as a Teacher-Librarian.  Point #4 stuck out to me and so, in the comments, I challenged her to expand on her thoughts and planning.  Check our her reply to me.


Graduate Students – A Warm Welcome From Your Academic Librarians!

Jennifer isn’t the only library warming up for September.  The Faculty of Education at Western University is on point as well.  In Denise Horoky’s latest, she attempts to lay out all that they offer.  Here’s a small part.

The complete post outlines what services they offer and also how they’re going to do it.  I like the references to contact via social media and the connections that they make to the other libraries on campus.

I can’t help but wonder if this post couldn’t be used as a model for other libraries.  Often, they don’t get the respect that they deserve.  Something like this would kill the nostalgic view of finding research in a 15 year old encyclopedia.

Why wouldn’t all “21st Century Learning Commons” start a blog like this with similar posts to keep students, teachers, the prinicpal, and parents up to date with all that they offer?


FIVE WAYS TO ADVOCATE FOR JUSTICE IN EDUCATION

We live in hurtful times.  It’s impossible to turn on the news and not see stories that are difficult to understand – by actions and by words of others.

Because they’re reported in the “news”, it can be difficult to determine the difference between fact and opinion at times.  Students, community, colleagues, and indeed the school system will be watching.

And the space and timing were ripe for her message: We live in an era when people who are different are treated unfairly, when people of color have to defend their mere existence. Yet, we can all do something about it.

What can be done?

Read Rusul’s complete post and you’ll see five ways that you, personally, can address this.  

If you’re a principal, why not incorporate these into your first staff meeting and help set a positive tone within your school community?


Thinking about the first day of school already-or not!

This was an “end of June” post that Kristin Phillips suggests might be an appropriate way to start the new year.

It breaks the mold of what could be traditionally done on that day.

She provides a great list.  The underlying message is to set the tone for what’s to follow for the rest of the year.

Related to this, check out how Finnish Teachers start their year.

It certainly beats the heck out of copying class rules into the first page of your brand new notebooks.


Open Letter To New (and Returning) Students

I’ve mentioned before that one of the very best things about the teaching profession is that you get to start fresh every year.  In this post, Denise Nielsen lets her college students know that they can do the same thing.

Why shouldn’t every student get a chance to have a fresh start?  Build on their past successes and have the opportunity to adjust things that didn’t go quite as they should.

It’s a great inspirational post that students would be well advised to read and consider.

I like the part, later in the post, where she outlines what’s not in the open letter.

We all know those things; why do they need to be repeated anyway!


Could “eating dinner together” be the best kind of homework?

There’s a bit of a revolution visible in social media as people discuss and share the merits of homework.  There’s even a Facebook group that you can join for support.  I like how progressive educators are considering the entire package of education and challenging the conventional wisdom.

Aviva Dunsiger jumps in with her thoughts about her family meals.

I’m thinking of my own family meals.

  • Yes, television was off.  It was actually only turned on later in the evening
  • We didn’t have any electronics so that wasn’t an issue
  • We didn’t have a doorbell but the phone was in the kitchen.  I honestly don’t remember it ringing much at meal times though
  • Yes, we had to give attention to Mom, Dad, and my brother.  I do remember that he and I both did the same thing at school even though we were three years apart – “Nothin”

I think that both of us were fortunate enough to have a family that was available to eat together.  These days, not all students have the luxury of two parents and even if they do, the luxury of both of them being available for supper with shift work, two jobs, etc.

Today’s reality may look different but there is an importance in making the best of what family time circumstances allow.  Maybe the answer is to just ditch the time formally alloted to doing homework which is increasingly being proved fruitless and use that time for family connections.


Given the calendar settings, it’s not surprising that most of the reading this week surrounded a philosophical look at back to school.  That’s great and thanks to those writers who took the time to share.

Why not drop by their blogs and leave a comment?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday again.  Soon, once school starts, this will be the day to look forward to for some.  Over the summer, it’s sort of a countdown day.  Regardless, it’s time to take in some great reading from Ontario Edubloggers.


How Do You Want Families to Feel on the First Day of School?

I had this wonderful post from Sue Dunlop all queued up and had so many of my own thoughts ready to go.  As a parent, I was always super nervous for my kids as they prepared for that opening day.  Probably the most nervous night of all was the night before the first day of Kindergarten.  We weren’t really prepared; we just had our own fond or not-so-fond memories.  Kids today have it so much easier with things like the “First Ride” program to help ease into things.  We just had a photocopied piece of paper indicating -ish bus times.  The saddest part, as a teacher, was that I couldn’t be there to send her off on the bus.  I did call my wife afterwards to get the scoop.  The cool thing was that she never looked back.  The kid’s all right.  There’s so much in Sue’s post; it’s really worth the read.  My thoughts are superseded by a post from Stephen Hurley.

Back To School: The Family Context

There’s your Friday motivation from two of my favourite writers.


Introduction – How can we make eLearning more accessible?

I’ll leave the introduction to this blog to Donna Fry.


A GLOBAL Welcome Back!

If you consider yourself a connected educator and that you have a connected classroom, then consider Peter Cameron’s offer.  He’s looking to START the year with his class connected to as many as possible.  It’s not an experiment; he’s done this before and celebrates 75 messages from the first day of school last year.  He wants more.

I know that here are global projects offered from all over the world.  <grin>  Many fail but here’s one with a proven track record and stated deliverables.  If you’re considering something like that for this year, here’s your chance for success.


Regrets of a First Year Teacher

Brian Aspinall shares an interesting post that I suspect would apply to so many – that first day in front of the class and how you’re going to establish superiority.  Doesn’t this history resonate for all?

However, I went to school in quiet hierarchical rows and I learned to teach at the Faculty in very similar settings. I was complimented for getting them to conform so I continued to dictate because I needed to impress the hiring committee. There existed a silo / fishbowl in that best practice was shared in the staffroom and I wasn’t up to par based solely on the volume of my class.

I feel compelled to point out that the desks at the Faculty were nailed to the floor in our computer lab – but hopefully, he remembers that the chairs moved.  But didn’t we all go through that moment on our first day?  For me, at a secondary school teaching a Grade 12 class, I was only a few years older than the students.  I felt I needed to prove who was boss.  Looking back now, what a bunch of wasted time and energy.

It doesn’t matter how or where you start your teaching profession, I think that the key message from his post is that no matter what, you’re going to inherit a whack of baggage.  What you do with it will determine how quickly you’re able to be successful.


Learn. UnLearn. ReLearn. Repeat.

I think this is a perfect read from Jennifer Casa-Todd to tack on to Brian’s post.  It could just as easily have been the title from his post.

Here’s your inspiration to read her post.  She uses these words…

  • Risk-taker
  • Networked
  • Resilient

She builds the post around those words and applies them to her own learning.  I would suggest that they’re easily transferable.

A few other teasers from her post …

  • change
  • complain
  • panic
  • generous

How can you not check it out?


Summer Reading: Good to Great

Heather Theijsmeijer will be assuming a new role with her district this fall.  Of course, we all wish her the very best in her endeavours.

I remember when I left the classroom and moved into a leadership role within the district.  As the starting date loomed, I had the feelings of excitement and doom filling my mind.  Both answered the question “What did you get yourself into?”

Heather’s asking and answering questions and elaborating.

  • What is my educational passion?
  • What drives the educational engine of my position?
  • What am I best at?

It’s never easy.  I look forward to reading of her successes this upcoming year.


A View From the Side of the Road

There are a number of things that go into a great blog post for me.

One is a great story, another is an educational insight, another is a turn that takes me as reader on a path not predicted, and yet another is an affirmation that the kids are all right.

Sue Bruyns has them all in this wonderful post about her educational trip to the Dominican, a road trip in a van, and the people involved.  And a great opportunity to muse.

I can’t help but wonder if we’re giving our children the right things to watch and engage with.  The young boy, at the side of the road in the Dominican, certainly didn’t need reminders about paying attention ~ his view from the side of the road was enough!


An Interview with Rodd Lucier

In case you missed it, I had the opportunity to interview Rodd Lucier (you may know him better as @thecleversheep) this week.  It was an interview. long in the creation, because there was so much to ask and I didn’t want to miss anything.


How’s that for a good collection of reading for your Friday morning?  Enjoy, and please take the time to drop off a comment or two for these wonderful bloggers.  Consider Peter’s offer to connect to his classroom

If you open the hamburger menu above, you can see the complete collection of TWIOE posts.