Category: Ontario Edublogs

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

As I was looking through the blog posts that I had tucked away for inclusion in this post, it strikes me that this will be a very Hamilton-Wentworth-ish type of post.  I generally don’t go looking for specific areas or themes; I just let my reading take me where it may.  Our friend Aviva gets tagged twice.

Please read along and enjoy some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

From Experimental to Theoretical Probability: Sample Lesson

Probability can be a scary topic for some.  In reality, it can be a great deal of fun.  So much of what we take for granted around us in the world has an element of probability to it.  Otherwise, everything would be cut and dried and, well boring.  And, of course, what would a game be without an element of chance.

Mark Chubb shows us a way that you might want to talk about probability and he uses a game approach to it.  Two wins.


There’s so much good, solid mathematics in it, including some charting of results.  Three wins.  Is there a correct answer?  That would be pretty boring but there certainly is a player who is in a better position to win.  What would change if you wanted to use three coins?

Could this be done with a coding solution?  Absolutely.

A Two Sided Blog Post

A pair of bloggers, Kristi Keery-Bishop and Aviva Dunsiger join up to write a blog post where we get the opportunity “to see both sides now”.

The topic?

Have you ever wondered what really goes on in a school to support a student who struggles with self-regulation? 

It’s an interesting post to devour.  It’s not short but does give a pretty descriptive perspective from both an administrator and a teacher.

They approach the topic with what happens “right now” and then take a look at the longer term approach.

When LESS Really Is A Whole Lot MORE!

I had to include this standalone post from Aviva Dunsiger, if for no other reason than I was tagged in it.

I had blogged about the meme that was passed around digitally asking people to share a photo of a “great book” and then tag others in it.

I was involved, having been tagged by Hazel Mason and pulled one of my favourite coffee table books from the bookshelf behind me.  Like my post, Aviva extracted and shares a number of messages from the stream.  I thought the choices in the whole thing turned out to be pretty interesting.

  • it’s great that educators had that quality of book at home
  • it became almost a one-up challenge to get a better book than the previous person
  • some people chose to share books that use in the classroom

Aviva then takes an interesting turn when she asks what students would do.  I think that the rules would have to be specific so that they would nominate a “great book” instead of a “favourite book”.  But, it would be an interesting activity to see what comes up.  It looks like there might be a taker in Peter Cameron.

Just, please, please, please, use a hashtag so we can follow it.


And, I was tagged in this post from David Carruthers which was his response to Stephen Hurley’s and my comments about a previous post of David’s.  This time, he took on our use of the word catalyst.

He nailed the concept of catalyst perfectly.


I like the conclusion where he indicates that he’s looking for this sort of person when he makes school visits.

I would hazard a guess that these people aren’t always recognized for their efforts.  Not always do they percolate to the top.  A cheerleader like David will make sure that they get supported, if they want.

Who knows?  The next great educator with fabulous insights might be waiting to be found.

Dear 100 Year Old Me!

I had a chance to talk with Cameron Steltman recently and he was sharing what an exciting assignment that he has this year.  The discussion came around to how he’s having students blogging after being provoked.

The provocation in this post was to send a message to their 100 year old self.  The number 100 itself takes on such importance in many classes this time of year as they reach the 100th day of school.  More than that, though, 100 is such a great number.  It’s not a perfect number but it does have so much importance.

  • 100 pennies in a dollar (what’s a penny sir?)
  • 100 km/h speed limit on freeways
  • who doesn’t like holding a 100 dollar bill?
  • and certainly you don’t want to leave home with your phone less than 100% charged

But most importantly, don’t we all want to live to be 100?

If Mr. Steltman’s blog is still running 90 some years from now, I hope the true banana queen still has fond memories of Frog Math.

Four Ways to Extend My Digital Leadership

Here’s a link and the email to your principal, superintendent, or principal might start like this…

How are you planning to leverage and extend your digital leadership?  Here’s what Sue Dunlop is doing…

  • Using the digital spaces in our organization.
  • Interacting on Twitter.
  • Sharing links and articles.
  • Share the thinking in my blog.

Conclude with

If you need help, Sue is willing to help.

Put Some Respeck On My Name

This post from Matthew Morris should be required reading for every Faculty of Education student.

In a way, practice teaching gives a false sense of what classrooms can be like.  When you’re parachuted into one, you pick up on the routines and regimen of the classroom teacher.  It’s a whole new world when you get a classroom of your own.

As Matthew noted, we grew up in an educational system where the teacher had respect by virtue of standing at the front of the classroom.  He provoked me to think of just how many of my teachers had first names.  Or at least first names that I knew.  I always figured it was a scheme devised to stop us from looking up their address in the phone book.  (what’s a phone book sir?)

Certainly, back in the day, I didn’t have the ability to follow my teacher on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  I didn’t give paybacks with RateMyTeacher.  Heck, I didn’t even have Canada411.

Matthew reminds us that it’s a different world today.  By its nature, so much is open, available, and friendly.  Casual and easily made relationships are the norm.

Consequently, respect doesn’t come as part of the job.

You want respect – you’ve got to earn it. You want respect? You have to establish it.

How’s that for a collection of inspirational blog posts to start your Friday?  Make sure that you click through and read them in their entirety.  Then, head over to the big collection for even more.  If you’re blogging and from Ontario, there’s a form there to add your blog to the list for me.  Some folks are even using the form just to let me know their Twitter handle.  That’s OK too.

Before you leave, make sure that you add these people to your learning network.

Show a little social media love and retweet the link to any of these posts that resonate with you.  Or, just share this post and do them all at once.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

After a bizarre week of snowy and then warm and melting weather, it’s time to sit back and take a good read of some of the things that have appeared recently on the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always good stuff to read.

And think about.


Are these trite words?

Maybe, but then David Carruthers saw this image in a social media feed.

This is a short post (two paragraphs and a sentence) but it speaks volumes.  David takes a quick look at people and the positions they hold in education.

You’ll have to read his post, but as you do, ask “Who has the people”?, “Who is really leading in education?”, “Are there people leading and don’t know it?”

Thanks, David, for a post that really had me thinking.

Modeling an Analogue Clock in Scratch

Think of the clocks that today’s students see.  How many would you think would be analogue?  How many digital?

Think of your own youth.  How many of each did you see?

In honour of the analogue clock, Jim Cash explains a Scratch project where a pair of students create an analogue clock.  As Jim points, out, it’s not a trivial activity and like so many of the projects that he shares, there’s just a whack of mathematics involved.

I can recall a similar project that my students took on much like this.  (Theirs included an alarm feature).  It’s not a quick and easy project.

Hope and a Groundhog

Beyond waiting for Wiarton Willie to let us know whether or not he sees his shadow (as an aside, with all the lights and television cameras, how could he not see it?), there is a message of hope that spring is on its way.

But then, Ramona Meharg takes a look around her classroom and shares the hope and good wishes that she has for her students for the future.

I hope for so many things.  I hope my students will be safe when they are not at school.  I hope they will believe in themselves.  I hope they will overcome the obstacles life puts in their way.  I hope I will find that spark in them that makes them want to come to school.  I hope they will always choose to be kind.  I hope I will continue to be a model of life long learning throughout my career and life.  I hope I and those I care about will stay healthy.  I hope for happiness, well being and a well lived life.

Her students are so fortunate that they have a loving and caring teacher who thinks about this.  Do you?

Hope is an interesting word.  It implies that you want something to happen.  By itself, to me, it gives a sense of chance.

Where does hard work and effort fit?

Is it a good deal?

I love this post by Lisa Corbett.  She had me at the opening sentence.

Perhaps the only thing worse than being a teacher’s kid, is being a teacher’s spouse.

I think of comments from my own kids when they’d ask a question and expect an answer but got a probing question instead.

“Dad, you’re such a teacher.”

Or, when I have a conversation with my wife.

“I want an answer and don’t go all teacher on me.”

I had to smile at the two images of solving a mathematics problem in Lisa’s post.  It’s a comparison of two worlds – old school and new school mathematics.

If you’re a kid, who do you go to for homework help?

Why not go? (and some ways to get there)

I like how Lisa Noble is exploring things in her self-funded leave.

This time around, she shared a presentation that she gave to the recent OLA Conference.  About knitting!

This is a conference that everyone in the province really should attend at least once.  True to the notion of the teacher-librarian having a finger in all subject areas, there’s a little something for everyone.

I attended the conference three times.  The first time as a participant; the second doing a session with a teacher-librarian colleague and the third time doing the Great OSLA Faceoff with my competitor Zoe Branigan-Pipe.  There were pictures and I still have the t-shirt.

How do you get to go to conferences like these?  In Lisa’s post, she shares a number of different strategies to make conference going affordable.

I’ll bet that Lisa never pays sticker price for anything!

Thinking about Inclusion

Jennifer Casa-Todd went to the same conference as Lisa (I hope they met up) and shares her thoughts and takeaways.  It’s a different take since Jennifer didn’t present.

Her big question that helps frame the post is…

How are we genuinely building community in our schools and helping our most vulnerable students feel welcome and included?

She shares with us three sessions and the impact that they had on her.  It’s an interesting read and she makes the connection to what she sees as a teacher-librarian day in and day out.

And, of course, she sees how social media can play a part.


From the TESL Ontario blog, comes an entry by Laura Brass.

She talks about research – even the word brings back not-so-fond university memories in the non-mathematics or computer science courses.

While the research we conduct as language teachers is not a life-and-death matter, we all strive for accuracy and need useful points of reference. In my case, research journaling kept me from getting lost in the sea of references, articles, methods, and conventions, while at the same time, it helped me connect the dots between theory and practice.

I like the process that she describes and wish that I knew about it when I last had to do research.  Gone are the little stickers and scribbled notes I used as my advanced organization tools!

Her conclusion?

Conducting research is FUN.

Please take the time to click through and read the original posts.  There’s lots of good material in these blogs.  Share them (or this post) with colleagues and just bask in the wisdom of these great Ontario educators.

And make sure to follow them on Twitter.  (You’ve already bookmarked their blogs, right?)

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy February and Groundhog Day (updated)…

For this Huron County boy, there only is one weather predictor – Wiarton Willie.  But I understand there are others.

While you wait for the sun to rise, check out these posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  I usually refer to this link but I also keep a Scoopit collection here.  I refer to that because


It’s now at a gold level.  That’s a lot of blogging.  Way to go, folks.

I’m sorry, but the world needs more real apologizing

Heather Swail has an interesting take and insight on a Canadian trait – being nice.  I mean, who among us hasn’t apologized without any real need?  I smile when I think of a lady who wasn’t paying attention at the store the other day and ran her grocery cart into me.   I apologized to her.

What can I say?  I was raised to be polite.

Heather’s take is that an apology should be …

A real heartfelt – not intellectually or strategically manufactured – apology involves reflection and thought on the part of the apologizer.

My action, I guess, could best be described as a reflex action.

We know that learned behaviours can be modified.  Is the reflex on my part worth the time and training that would be needed or is there a problem with being overly apologetic?

A $50 Million Gift Horse

This post, by Anne Shillolo is actually a copy of an email that she wrote to the Minister of Innovation with respect to the $50 million that has been allocated to the CanCode project.

The CanCode program will invest $50 million over two years, starting in 2017-18, to support initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). It also supports initiatives that provide K-12 teachers with the training and professional development they need to introduce digital skills, coding and related concepts into the classroom.

Anne correctly identifies the lay of the land, at least here in Ontario.

  • Not enough young women in technology,
  • Not enough computer science (CS) teachers in Ontario,
  • Most teachers’ colleges are no longer training CS teachers,
  • Teacher candidates are not choosing CS as a teachable.
  • High school CS and engineering courses are not offered province wide.

Then, she proceeds to share her thoughts about outsourcing professional development for teachers.  It’s a letter that will get you thinking.

The CanCode details can be found here and the list of winning companies here.

Precarious Absences – The impact of teacher intervention truancy systems

Deborah Weston tagged me in the announcement of the release of this post.

It’s a standing joke in the educational profession that it’s easier to come to work sick than to plan lessons for someone else to teach while you are under the weather.  Creating lessons is difficult enough when you’re healthy.  Being sick makes it even more difficult.

I see you nodding your head.  We’ve all said that.

Yet, there are times when you have to take time off.  It’s very seldom to get a doctor’s appointment in other than school hours.  Society generally likes people working from 8-5.

Now, I like a computer to do all kinds of administrative things for me as much as the next person.  Deborah talks about teacher truancy systems that track days off and then performs some sort of action for excessive time off.

As Deborah notes, it does cast a wide net.  Wouldn’t the principal of a school be in a better position of knowing if someone is potentially taking advantage of days off?

In the bigger scheme of things, the days are laid out as a matter in a collective agreement.  At what point does this become a violation of that agreement?

ok go

For the record, I don’t own a Google Home device.  But, I do have an Android phone with the Google Assistance installed and I’ll admit that it’s darn handy at times to just ask a question and get Google to try and respond with a a useful suggestion.

I’ve even trained Google to know that my dog’s name is Jaimie.  It was just a case of fooling around, asking Google…

“What’s my dog’s name?”

And the first time, Google didn’t know.  So, I taught it.

Now, when I ask “What’s my dog’s name?”, Google will respond correctly.

Chris Cluff shares a combo blog post, podcast with Chad Reay about Google Home.  Both the blog post and the podcast are entertaining and insightful.  I recommend both.

As for Google Home, my son got one for Christmas and we did have some fun with it.  But, when you put your tinfoil beanie on, you do realize that it’s listening all the time waiting for you to say “Hey, Google”.

The podcast did get me thinking about whether or not it is a welcome member of the household or classroom.  What do you think?

The Essential Catchall

When I read the title for this post by Tim King, I didn’t know what to expect.

It turns out, he’s reflecting on his teaching of an Essentials class.  This post is a powerful look inside the classroom and shares with us just how students end up in this course.  With Tim’s description, it’s quite obvious that a course geared for a particular type of student certainly takes a turn for the worse when it becomes a catchall.


I found Tim’s description quite disturbing.

I would have thought if anyone could reach out and design a course to engage students, it would be him.  He embraces technology and learning at an inspiring level.  And yet, he reports that equipment in his shop gets broken.

You can’t help but speculate that success would only be achieved if the catchall philosophy is abandoned and student needs become paramount rather than the current reality.

Taking the step: Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces in my mathematics classroom

When you close a blog post with

The richness of the mathematics and the thinking that resulted from it was well-worth the challenges though. Moving forward we will use this strategy for some logic puzzles and number challenges, and then transition into specific curriculum content.

you know that you’re onto something good.

Melissa Dean’s post is interesting and got me thinking just about “how” we do mathematics.  Typically, it’s done by yourself flat on a desktop.  After all, the school board paid a lot for those desks.

Occasionally, you get called to write your solution to a problem on the black/white/green board in the classroom.  It’s different; you’re writing in a different direction but you now have a potential audience looking at your work.  She describes a problem solving situation that involves a triad and the role of the scribe.  (You have to read her post to see why I used that word!)

What I think is particularly noteworthy is for her to step back and view the students as mathematicians.  This whole activity is certainly worth trying out in your classroom.

Knowledgehook Math PLC Planning Tool

Kyle Pearce takes us through a very thorough walkthrough of the Knowledgehook PLC tool.

The product is made by a Kitchener based company and claims a few Ontario school boards already as clients.


It’s an interesting walkthrough with Kyle’s comments as your guide to what’s happening on the screen captures that he shares.

Clicking through Kyle’s post takes you to the Knowledgehook website where there are a number of mathematics tools running the gamut from free with a few features to a subscription model with much more utility.

In case you missed it, I had a chance earlier this week to interview Helen DeWaard.

Thanks for sticking with this post to get to the bottom!  I hope that you’ll click through and read the original posts in all their glory.  There’s lots there for learning and reflection.

And, don’t forget to add these bloggers to your learning network.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can you believe that we’re almost at the end of January?  Around here, we had a high of 11.5 degrees after suffering through some of the coldest weather.  Today, we’re back well below zero again.

How’s that for a lead-in to the first post as I take a look at great things from Ontario Edubloggers over the past while?

Oh, those pesky bugs!

It’s not often that you see someone come out and admit to being Patient Zero.  But, that’s what Ramona Meharg does in this post!

I know that, around here, the news is reporting that the hospitals are well over 100% occupancy with the latest round of the flu putting things over the top.

But, it’s only a teacher that could stop coughing and spitting at their computer screen long enough to blog about it and try to turn viruses into something positive.

Driving home on Friday, after having to send two more students home midway through the day with flu symptoms, I got to thinking, it’s too bad I couldn’t viralize other things to infect them with. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if I could infect them with a love of reading or learning in general? I’d love to give them a bug that would get them to believe in themselves and their abilities, instead of listening to the negative comments of others, or their own negative self talk. What if I could infect them with resilience, so that they could take the lemons life hands them and make the most refreshing lemonade out of them every time? How about a virus that reminds them to be kind to each other, at every opportunity, in every exchange? Or a bug that gives them the courage to take risks, to try new things, to be open to new experiences? I really should have paid more attention in Chemistry and Biology class – I might have gained the ability to create these “super-bugs.”

I feel like a lesser person.  I don’t think I ever had thoughts like that when I was driving home sick.

Looking BACK to Look FORWARD.

Peter Cameron had me hooked in the introduction to this blog post – it’s really a letter to his students – when he addressed them like this:

Dear Difference Makers

Yes, in Mr. Cameron’s class, you are indeed a somebody.

Peter describes to us an exercise where the students reflect back on the fall and what they’ve accomplished in class with a look to planning for the future.  It’s all documented in their Writer’s Notebook.

He even includes a number of images to jog student memories.  In the post, he honours the pathes that the students have taken and acknowledges that it hasn’t been the same or easy for everyone.

If you steal only one educational idea today, make it this one.

Do Kids See With Their Hands?

It’s an interesting question that Aviva Dunsiger asks.

Literally, the answer would be no, they don’t see with their hands.

But, change the question just a bit.

Do Kids See the Big Picture When They Use their Hands?

Then, I’d say the answer would be yes, undoubtedly.  We have five senses (some argue of a sixth) and why wouldn’t students be able to use them all to fully understand a situation.

The only time I can recall not being able to use all my senses was in a science experiment in elementary school where we could reach into a paper bag and could only feel what we could touch inside and had to describe it.

We’d be less understanding of our world if we couldn’t use all our senses.


In a longish string of One Words for 2018, Will Gourley offers “Better”.  To support his choice of a word, he includes some very nice descriptions.

Whether written, spoken, or withheld on purpose my words will be better in 2018.
They will edify not nullify.
They will appreciate not devastate.
They will lead not supersede.

It’s nicely done but what makes this approach unique to me is that he offers a way to quantify “better”.

It’s just a matter of being 1% better every day.

I wonder if you would even realize it when someone is 1% kinder from one day to the next, but after a month 30% increase would be difficult to ignore.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health in the World of Education

Paul McGuire offers an insight that many of us have never seen.  It’s from his position as a former administrator and he says that he has often viewed mental health issues – teachers, students, parents.

I easily saw more people in distress as an administrator than I ever saw as a counsellor. At least I knew what these people were going through. Most administrators do not and that is not a good situation.

It’s a telling observation.  I can’t believe that Paul is alone.  What’s disturbing is that the system doesn’t prepare him for this.

As luck would have it, Lisa Noble had blogged about an initiative in her district on this very topic.  Is this enough?

Compromise, Crisis and Collaboration

From The Beast Blog, comes a discussion inspired by the actions of Sarah Silverman earlier this year.

There are some great questions and discussions in this back and forth between Andrea  and Kelly

  • What happens when we bump into someone who is absolute in their beliefs and they don’t buy what we are selling?
  • Is the purpose of learning to come to a consensus?
  • Can you purposely enter a crisis with someone you don’t trust?

How would you answer those questions? – then click through and see how their discussion went.

Encourage Parents to Read with their Children During Family Literacy Month

From the Toronto District School Board Professional Library comes this reminder.

Family Literacy Day is celebrated every year on January 27th to promote the important role parents can play in fostering their children’s literacy skills and encouraging a love of lifelong learning for the whole family.

The site provides a place for both parents and students to submit book reviews.

It seems to me that this would be an exciting option for all school districts to offer.

As always, I hope that you do take the time to click through and read each of these original blog posts.

There’s so much there to help you grow professionally.

Way to go, Ontario Edubloggers.

Inspired by the above?  Here are some great educators to add to your learning network:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

If you were monitoring your Twitter stream yesterday morning, you’ll know that a draft of this post got sent by accident.  Well, let’s call it what it was – a screw-up on my part.  I was in a rush and needed to save the draft before heading out and it got posted instead of drafted.  My thanks to Aviva Dunsiger and Peter Cameron for quickly letting me know.  

#OneWordONT Update – If you are participating, you need to get your post written by this weekend and notify Julie Balen.  From her document, here is the marked growth in this project.

  • 2015 – 23 words
  • 2016 – 65 words
  • 2017 – 76 words
  • 2018 – 168 words and counting

The collection of blog posts can be found here.  Julie had originally blogged about the project here.

From around the Ontario Educational Blogosphere, here’s some great reading for your Friday morning wakeup…

Rethinking Privilege Through A Self-Reg Lens

I think I may have had the same parents as Lisa Cranston.  Like her, this was drilled into my psyche at an early age.

If you work hard, then you will succeed.
If you set your mind to it, you can do anything.
If you don’t succeed, then you have no one but yourself to blame.

The activity Lisa describes in the post is an interesting one to help see that not everyone starts as a clean slate with the same possibilities.  It’s most certainly easily transferable to the classroom or to professional learning situations.

I think that, as teachers, we see and realize this.  But, do we fully understand?

Cabin Crew

So, Anne Marie Luce took issue with the comments that Stephen Hurley and I made on the radio version of This Week in Ontario Edublogs when we equated the pilot of an airplane as a similar situation as the principal of a school.  Essentially, we noted that the pilot is isolated from the rest of the airplane, behind a closed door.

She saw things differently from us.


Anne Marie saw the principal as more the role of a flight attendant working the aisle and reaching out to every passenger/student.  I’d like to agree but with large schools, is it possible?

Then, she took the analogy a bit further talking about the control tower (Ministry of Education) as being even further removed from the needs of the passenger and yet crucial for the success of the flight.

It’s an interesting comparison.  Talking about this might make for an interesting activity at a staff meeting.

In the past week, I was on a plane myself.  We had to be de-iced before we could take off!  Who’s the de-icer in education?

10 Tools in My Teaching Day

I really enjoy posts like this one from Jon Orr.  It’s one of the ways that I learn about new tools that I may have missed.  From his list of things that get him through the day, I need to learn more about Streaks.

I already use a couple of apps to make sure that the dog gets his steps in but this looks like it manages more streaks than that.  It appears to be iPhone related so I may have to look for something equivalent on the Android side of things.

The other nine tools that he describes were known to me.

Interestingly, in the list, Jon doesn’t indicate a browser as one of his tools.  Since he names Keynote in his list, I thought that Safari might show up somewhere.  As a person who lives daily in the browser with all kinds of web applications to do this and that, I found that oddly missing.  But maybe it’s realistic; with the web everywhere, has the concept of a browser just become so invisible that we take it for granted?

My 2018 Bucket List

Joe Archer responds in this post to a challenge to identify 18 goals for 2018, thereby taking a bit of a liberty with the conventional thought of a bucket list.

There are some interesting self-challenges in the post.  I wish him success in meeting them all.  The choice of a second or more language will be a tough one to meet.

You’ll have to read his post to find out just what language he wants to learn.

There are lots of references to Microsoft applications and groups here which those of you who are so Google-centric might find interesting.

Save a Life — Choose Love Over Fear

This post, from Laurie Azzi, is as sobering as the title suggests.  She describes a project with partnership between the Ministry of Education and OECTA “Hey, Are You Doing Alright? Taking Off Masks, Ending Stigmas, Moving On.”

The project addresses the seriousness of Mental Health issues and suggests that we may gain a better understanding by “removing the mask” and revealing the story behind.

In this post, she relates the story of “Sarah: An Emerging Primary Caregiver”.

It’s a story that applies to many people.

There is an interesting statistic that will give you pause

  • Mental illness affects 1:5 Canadians in their lifetime.

Think about your staffroom or your school population and do the mathematics.  The result is why we all need to be aware.

Where There is Tea There is Hope

I was tagged in a Twitter message by Julie Balen letting me know of this new blog authored by Caroline Black.

Kudos to her for taking the leap.

I’ve done at least one thing to get out of my comfort zone today – I started a blog about my learning. Check out my introductory post here:

Her discussion about tea shoots down the notion that bloggers survive on coffee.  You’ll want to send warm thoughts to someone on Manitoulin Island with the power out.

Take a moment to visit her blog and send her a comment.  Many others have beat you there.

And, for the record, my favourite is Oolong.

The Great Micro:Bit Giveaway!

Well, maybe the second greatest giveaway.

Had Brian Aspinall been at the CSTA Conference last summer in Baltimore, he would have known that we gave every registrant for the conference their own micro:bit.

If you missed out on that, then you need to head over to Brian’s blog.  He’s going to raffle off a micro:bit in “early 2018”.  All you have to do to have a chance is register with him.

In case you missed it, I had the opportunity last weekend to interview Sarah Lalonde.  You can read the interview here.

Please take a moment to click through and read all of these blog posts and register to win a micro:bit if you’re feeling lucky.  These folks will appreciate it.

Regardless, you also need to grow your learning network by adding these folks.

A Livebinder with the big collection of Ontario Edubloggers can be found here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday!

Get inspired by reading some blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  They’re guaranteed to get you thinking.  That’s always a good thing.


I originally thought that this was going to be another #OneWordONT post.  And, it probably could be.  However, Anne Marie Luce lets us know that it’s a 13 hour flight from Beijing to Toronto – that’s plenty of time to experience turbulence.

She likens it to the turbulence that she’s hearing about in Ontario Schools.

  • Not enough supply teachers
  • Staff on stress leave
  • Mental health needs and lack of resources
  • Pressure to improve learning

It makes you wonder what the pilot is doing behind that locked door.


Another one word title, this time from Deborah McCallum.

I like how she discusses “feedback” and “assessment” in the same paragraph.  She correctly identifies that if feedback only appears on assessment, it’s missed the point.  Feedback should be given early in the learning process so that it can have a positive impact on the assessment.

There’s a great section devoted to misconceptions and suggestions for implementation.

She also makes available “Feedback Dice for Problem Solving” freely available to download and use.

Do you see a purpose for these in your classroom?

It’s “check-in” time

From Lisa Noble, this was a timely piece of advice during the recent cold snap.  It’s tough to remember, given the warm weather that we’ve experienced this week but you know it won’t last.

Do you check in on neighbours who might be affected by the weather?

Then, Lisa reminds us that they may not be the only ones who are affected by things over the holidays.  How about those students that are returning to your classroom?  We all know that everyone’s holidays are different.  Some may have enjoyed Santa in Florida and had a great time.

They’re not representative of 100% of the students in your class.

Everyone should feel welcome, valued, and know that their presence is appreciated.  Check in with everyone – meaningfully.

Interrupt Yourself

OK, here’s finally a post about a “one word” for 2018 – from Terry Greene.

It might well be advice for everyone to consider.  Most of the words that have been chosen have been high energy, high action – in this case Terry uses advice from cows.


In a fast moving world, this may well be the best advice for everyone.  We can’t all “stop the train, I want to get off”, but we can pause to think and reflect.  Is your train on the right track, headed in the direction it should?  Are you even on the right train?

Just like the cows in the photo.

A good idea worth doing?

I guess I don’t have an answer to Benjamin’s question “what should give educator’s pause?” other than to say, “Good idea! Let’s pause.”

Advice for coaches

Best advice that I ever got when I moved to work from the board office.

Don’t ever say – “I’m from the board office and I’m here to help you.”

Being a coach is a tough gig.  If you think a teaching load of students is challenging, try a coaching load of all the teachers in your charge.

In this post, Jen Giffen put out a feeler on Twitter for advice about coaching and got some great results, which she summaries in this post.


Content Curation: A necessary skill for today’s learners

Check out the image below, courtesy of Jennifer Casa-Todd.

We’re all curators.

Some of us are hoarders.

There are so many competencies that can be addressed by learners – students and teachers alike.  The notion is changing – I can remember when research was summarily rejected when you quote from Wikipedia, for example.

Now, we recognize that there is so much “stuff” available and previous looked down upon sources are now credible.

The real skill becomes how to digest and use it.  And, to cull the information that has been updated by better content.

In fact, good curation skills are the ultimate skill to protect against the “fake news” that is everywhere.  You don’t even have to look hard to find that stuff anymore.

Sitting Down, Side by Side

This post from Helen DeWaard could be a lesson for parent, teaching, coaching, living with a partner, working, …

The deepest conversations I have with my children happen in the enclosed space of the car, while driving from place to place. I will quickly offer to drive them anywhere just so we can have ‘car-talk-time’.

In the classroom, consider the most productive and effective moments.

  • Is it standing at the front of the room flipping through a Powerpoint presentation?
  • Is it wandering around watching groups interact?
  • Is it sitting next to a student talking about the learning?

Helen’s discussion about travel and positioning may just have you thinking about things differently.  Time is so precious; what can you do to make it the most productive it can be?

Please take a moment to click through and read these original posts.  As always, there are some absolutely great pieces of thinking done by the authors.  Why not benefit from it?

And, when you’re done, make sure that you’re following these people.  Expand your network of great learners.

The entire collection of posts from “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” which appears every Friday can be found here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Settle in your nice warm place and enjoy some of the blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that I enjoyed lately.

Looking Forward

Peter McAsh shares his love for CBC Radio and listening to podcasts in this recent post on the ECOO blog.  There’s been a lot over the past year dealing with Artificial Intelligence but surprisingly little dealing with education.  So, Peter asks …

“How will AI impact education?
How will education adapt to teach students who will be part of a world with AI?”

Open ended questions, to be sure, but certainly worthy of consideration.  The thing about technology is that it can be insidious.  As such, you can’t ignore it.  Are our systems ignoring it or are they preparing for a world where it’s so available?

Upcoming Releases for Winter and Spring 2018

Because teachers and teacher-librarians want to stay on top of things and be in the know, check out this literature preview from Helen Kubiw on the CanLit for Little Canadians blog.

Month by month, see upcoming book releases in the categories of:

  • Picture Books
  • Fiction
  • Young Adult
  • Non-Fiction

Is it time to start a shopping list with your school teacher-librarian?

Crowd Sourcing Math Problems through the 12 Days of Tweetmas

Ramona Meharg describes an interesting challenge the Thames Valley District School Board held before the holidays – a puzzle or mathematics challenge each day for 12 days – with the students sending out messages about the challenges via Twitter.

Now, a Special Educational Secondary School classroom might not be on the top of your list of candidates to participate but they were in Ramona’s case.  Who doesn’t like a good challenge?  (Just don’t mention that it’s educational)

Although she had some reservations, they participated and it sounded like they had a great time – including hands on with candy canes.

For those students, social media seemed to have provided a nice opportunity to level the playing field by participating with other classes throughout the district.  It’s hard to image another setting where they would be equal players.

Ramona gives a very nice description of how they handled things and is already planning on how to incorporate Google Hangouts into things in the future.

Is there a lesson here for other school districts to copy and implement themselves?

How we #Kahoot!

Whether you prefer to learn via images or text, Laura Wheeler has you covered in this post describing how she uses Kahoot!, the social gaming system, in her mathematics classes.

For Laura, it’s not just a “pick an app and do something” experience.  She describes just how many and how she has crafted the activities for her students.  It’s not a computer-y thing either; the pictures share a story of all the tools and collaboration that happens.

And, if you want a quick overview, check out her Sketchnote of the process.  It boils everything down into one neat overview.

If you’re looking to start with Kahoot! or are looking for a more sophisticated approach, this post will be of special interest.

Duty to Report School Violence

Deborah Weston tagged me in the announcement of this post so I had to check it out.  It’s a sobering look at school violence.

In the post, Deborah gives statistics and survey results from ETFO and OECTA.  I know that many will agree with her observations and others will be inspired to find out more.


The impact on teachers should be of immediate concern to all.

Hopefully, knowing that you’re not alone, will be just the incentive for all to report issues of violence when they occur.

p.s. This post was written and scheduled Thursday morning.  During a Thursday dog walk, I got tagged in another Twitter message alerting me to this post.

2018: Hall-Dennis–Looking Back to Look Ahead

For so many in education these days, the Hall-Dennis report or Living Learning may not even be something that they’ve heard of.  And yet, it laid the groundwork for education in Ontario as it stands today.

Canada had just celebrated its Centennial when Premier Bill Davis commissioned the report.  Who could forget Expo 67 or Bobby Gimby (if you were around at the time)?

It was an opportunity for Canadians to see the future and why shouldn’t we be visioning the future of education?

Arguably, one of the most important documents to influence education in the province, the basic messages are still as applicable today as they ever were.  To quote Billy Joel, “We didn’t start the fire.”

This post from the Alpha Alternative School shows how it is influenced today by the report.

You can read the report here.  (Set aside some time, it’s not a quickie blog post)  When you hear people longing for the “good ol’ days”, they may have to go back a great deal further than Hall-Dennis.

The Half Way Mark

I had to reflect back on my own career at year 16 of teaching when I read this post from Tina Zita.

I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t counting the days/years until the end of my teaching career.  I think I was more focused on the present.  But, Tina is taking a pause to reflect on what she’s done so far and what she’s planning to do for the future.  Is this a result of us being so well connected these days?

It’s interesting to note that she’s not focused on major milestones but rather a series of “nudges”.  It’s a challenging way to look at things.

The biggest satisfaction that any teacher can have is to have students that reach out after they’ve graduated to note the things or nudges that you gave them.

Give her post a read and see if you can’t see yourself at Year 16 looking forward.

Another week and another great collection of blog posts.  Please take a few moments to click through to the original posts and give them a read and drop off a comment or two.

These authors will appreciate it.

And, follow them on Twitter.

Last week, Julie Balen’s post about OneWordOnt was featured here on the blog and has sparked a great deal of conversation and blogging from Ontario Educators.  Julie has started a Google+ community for people to share their blog posts.  You can enjoy it here.  A nice fall out form this is a number of New York state educators jumping in on the conversation and the resulting social media connections.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they crossed the Peace Bridge or the Rainbow Bridge and joined us in Niagara Falls for next November’s Bring IT, Together Conference, November 6 – 8th, 2018?  I’m cautiously optimistic that the Falls will have thawed out by then.