This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to my thoughts about another great collection of writing from around the province.


A tentative guide for new student employees

Dave is a long time blogger and notes that he uses his blog to get ideas out of his head and also looks for input and thoughts about various topics.

This time around, it’s about things that Co-op students who are working with him should know before coming into the job. It’s not your regular job:

“I’ve only got them for four months and, for many of them, this is the first job where they are expected to do things beyond simply repeating a pattern they’ve been given. “

He has his thoughts categorized:

  • Choosing to be interested
  • Being prepared
  • Handling multiple tasks
  • Learning to prioritize
  • Managing up
  • The project charter
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Learning to be wrong and to fix it
  • Talk about what you don’t know

Each of the topics are fleshed out with his thoughts. As I read through them, it brought back memories of good job interviews. You know, the ones that really make you think.

There was one area that was really foreign to me and yet it’s the lifeline for those who work in a university environment and that’s writing and proofing grant proposals. I think that that and the fact that you’d be working with the Office of Open Learning would be an incredible opportunity for a university student.

It would have been nice to have been insightful and add suggestions but this really is well done. For those in similar situations, the fact that he’s open and sharing with it means that it could help make your endeavours a bit easier.


My Complex Relationship with My Computer

This post really affirms that Diana is human after all!

So many people are plopped behind a computer doing the sorts of things that you need to do these days – in Diana’s case, of course, it’s teaching. It was a big surprising for me to read that she really wants to get away from the computer after a long daily stint. The irony of me sitting here writing what is typically the longest blog post of the week is not lost on me. I won’t write it all in one sitting and may well move to another location in the house to continue.

There’s another message beyond just the computer and that’s the physical setting for working. I’ve long since got rid of a desktop computer, opting for a laptop instead. It kind of docks here connected to external speakers, a microphone, external (small) monitor and keyboard/mouse/trackpad. But, disconnect 6 connectors and I’m mobile. I can work from a chair in the rec room when I feel a need for an ergonomic change.

My computer life is different from Diana. Most of what I do is elective and that makes it somewhat easier. There are a couple of times a week where I’m forced into this chair for what I’m doing for a finite period of time and I really do relish getting up at the end of it. If it’s elective use, it doesn’t seem nearly as onerous. For teachers, elective doesn’t seem to be a word that pops up too often these days.

In the post, Diana shares advice from Noa Daniel about a 20-20-20 rule that is good for everyone.


See, Think, and Wonder Math Routine Using Videos

I couldn’t help but love this post from Deanna. Due to the nature of everything that’s going on, teachers are using computers, YouTube and other video sources like crazy. The sad part is that they’re essentially a “click here to watch and learn” pedagogy.

Not so with this video. It would obviously work during the current set of restrictions but also when things get back to face to face. The video features a large number of images with a winter theme and when the teacher would hit pause, students are challenged to see, think, and wonder – particularly about the mathematics that they see. I could easily see fractals, ratio, proportion, patterning, symmetry, temperature change and more.

It was so refreshing to see somebody creating something new.


Mentoring Moments: Lesson Planning 101 for New Teachers

I remember a comment from a friend who was a kindergarten teacher to me as a secondary school teacher.

“We’re elementary schools teachers; we integrate everything”

At the time, this was an entirely new concept for this Computer Science teacher. Later, working with elementary school teachers and the need to plan for and to make this integration happen. In this post, Nilmini shares some advice and a technique for teachers new to the profession.

  • Start with where you are inspired 
  • Drive your lessons with student interest
  • Backwards design your plan for the Unit

It’s not just a one way lecture; she plays it forward when she shares a personal unit for anyone to use. I can see lots of opportunities for using technology throughout.


Sunday Scaries Intensified: Working My Way Through Some More Big Feelings Today

This was a very un-Aviva-like post. Typically, she’s very upbeat and positive and shows how that translates into great opportunities in her classroom. This post was very different and shows the concerned side of an educator days before the return to work. (thanks to the snowstorm!) She inspired my personal post from yesterday and checked in with a positive reflection of her ultimate return to school.

That made me feel good for her.

But, back to this post, I suspect that she shared the mindset that was going throughout the province as teachers had the angst of returning on their minds.

The bizarre thing is that classrooms may well be among the safest of places to be these days and Aviva celebrates that. She also notes that students and teachers will leave that safe place and join the rest of society that doesn’t have the same situation and rules.


Dance Anxiety

As I read this post, I felt kind of good that I didn’t become an elementary school teacher. I would end up butchering the “Dance” expectations. I think I formally danced at my wedding reception and that may well be it!

Of course, if it became part of what I had to teach, I’d be looking for ideas and suggestions.

This post might well be that sort of inspiration that I would need and it just might be helpful for so many others.

In this post, Stephanie has done some research about what she might need and is good enough to share with the world via this post.

So, if you’re in this situation or you end up with an on-call, you might find it handy!


What makes a great leader? Welcome to my blogcast!

Charles has started a new concept married to voicEd Radio and his personal blog – a blogcast. It’s a podcast with show notes or comments or notifications to come from his blog.

The first show features Cindy Blackstock.

You can listen to the show here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/the-leadership-of-cindy-blackstock/


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read these great offerings.

Then, follow them all on Twitter.

  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal

This week’s voicEd Radio show can be found here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/connections-with-new-teachers-technology-and-the-realities-of-returning-to-school/

Lessons learned


By the time this goes live at 5:00 tomorrow, Jaimie and I will be having breakfast before going out for our walk at 7:14. As I wrote on Saturday, we’re expecting a great deal more traffic than what we’ve had for the past month. We’re also looking forward to waving and wagging at familiar faces along our morning route.

Minus holiday time, the school system has had an opportunity to make schools a safer place for student learning. You’d kind of think that this should already have been done due to previous lockdowns and absences. We’ve had so many announcements and assurances that everything was taken care of. Heck, you’d like to think that schools would be a safe place in general.

Teachers have learned so much more about how systems are managed. Probably way more than what they ever dreamed that they would know.

Who can forget the sniffling noses from our classmates as we went as students? It’s way different when you’re a teacher – you don’t just see it and are bothered by those in your immediate vicinity; you see it everywhere as you scan the class. Winter is a rough time for sickness and spreading as it is, never mind the challenges that we face now.

Of course, that’s not the only thing on the horizon for this week. There’s the COVID thing that has hijacked the planning and minds of educators but there’s more.

Well, everywhere but Essex County and the Bruce Penninsula, it seems!

That’s even before we put bums in seats.

This past week saw the Minister of Education make announcements about face masks and HEPA filters. That would normally be good news but most educators are skeptical. We’ve heard announcements before about HEPA filters everywhere and yet there are still more to be bought and put into operation?

I’m reminded of a conversation with my former superintendent about reading the reality value in these announcements. He was fond of noting that sometimes the same amount of money gets announced on different times giving the impression that there was more available than there actually would be. It was through him that I understood the importance of identifying any “new money” as a followup to announcements. I was so naïve, I guess.

There’s another thing that money can’t buy.

The success of a return to schools and classrooms will be the professional approach and implementation of safe measures by classroom teachers. As a society, we know more about this current virus than at previous attempts to return to classrooms. Since we’re in the middle of winter, that knowledge needs to be combined with the traditional approach to addressing students with seasonal colds. It’s no easy task. Period.

The most important thing to recognize is that the teacher is more than likely the most vulnerable person in the classroom. Looking out for number one is so important.

So, for those of you who will be returning to your classrooms this morning, I wish you all the best and hope that, this time, we’ve done so much learning that it can be managed safely.

Whatever happened to …


… recorded live television?

The inspiration for today’s post came again from Sheila Stewart who sent me off to a blog post from David Truss about laugh tracks.

I think we all have our favourite shows and David makes reference to a couple of show that I’m not a fan of! I think they’re just silly and not worth my time. These days, I’d rather while my time watching a good drama but who could forget the classics like …

I know that it’s a certain time era, but hey!

Who could forget shows like

  • Of course, Cheers but
  • The Jeffersons
  • All in the Family
  • Three’s Company
  • The Odd Couple
  • Are You Being Served?

and I’m sure that you could name more. (and why don’t you in the comments below)

It seems to me that these shows were so successful for a couple of reasons. First, they had terrific writers with all kinds of great lines, characters, and enough innuendo that you would pick up on things no matter how many times you watched them. What worked for them was a limited cast of characters, story lines that could be really worked, and all were shot in a single setting. So, it’s easy to see that a television studio could set up a stage and then work the stories around it and play it before a live audience.

We benefited because any laughter that was caught was real laughter made by real people watching it as it happened.

It’s easy to see that shows like M*A*S*H which has to be amongst the greatest comedy ever couldn’t fit into that setting because different episodes were in different locations. Recording live also means that the actors and actresses had to know their stuff because there wasn’t an option to retake and reshoot. If something was intended to be funny, they had to make it funny.

As David notes, you don’t necessarily have to get that reaction from an audience if you’re using a laugh track. You just edit the laughs in later. Laugh clips are easily found – here’s a nice collection – https://www.soundboard.com/sb/iolaughtrack. We’re becoming so used to being able to edit things afterwards today with social media; how many Instagram or TikTok videos are shot once and not edited?

So, for a Sunday, let’s have you check in with your thoughts.

  • Do you have any great favourite comedys? Was it recorded live?
  • Have you ever seen a show where a laugh track was added in during the wrong spot?
  • Do you teach students how to edit video?
  • Comedies, of course, aren’t the only shows recorded live – there are many talk shows with live audiences that are encouraged to interact – do you have a favourite?
  • Are there any comedies today that are recorded in front of a live audience?

And, a bit of trivia…

Please share your thoughts for Sheila and me to enjoy in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post. You can check them all out here. And, if you have an idea like Sheila did, just reach out and share it with me. I’d appreciate it.

Whatever happened to …


goober boots?

Well, first off, a confession. Apparently, these aren’t even a thing, resolving in a search to other things.

But that’s what we called them.

As I remembered these things, I also was reminded about how incredible peer pressure can be. I mean; it’s winter and where I grew up, you wore boots to school and everywhere else for that matter. Our classrooms had boot trays at the back under the coat rack and we were required to neatly place our boots there or for some teachers, the trays were out in the hallways. I seem to remember that no matter where they were, there was a watery mess on the floor and the caretakers were out mopping at every opportunity.

So, back to the boots. They were mostly dark green with bright yellow laces and rim around the bottom. They were also insulated. I did use that description and did a search revealing that there had been a pair for sale on Etsy. How old does it make you feel when they’re listed as “vintage 70s”? I guess that makes me vintage too. Had they been in the right size, I might have been inspired to buy a pair.

Oh, to be cool again.

All my friends wore them. It was just something that you did. They were warm and because they were rubberized, they kept your feet dry.

One of our modes of transportation those days in the winter was bumper riding. Here’s actually a wonderful blog post about this way of getting from here to there. That was us. Even though we were in a small town where you could easily walk from here to there, riding the bumper was required. Once winter hit hard, the roads were never ploughed down to the gravel or pavement except for the really highly travelled roads. Goober boots were perfect for riding because they had a nice rubber bottom. If you were really skilled, you could also drag your hockey equipment bag along as well.

Who would think something as mundane as a boot would bring back a memory for a Sunday morning? What are your memories?

  • did you wear goober boots?
  • I know now that we apparently just made up the name. What did you and your friends call them?
  • these days, it would be a nightmare to expect kids to lace and actually tie up boots. Have they missed out on something in the days of velcro?
  • how about bumper riding? Did you travel in this manner?
  • is there a local name for bumper riding in your world?
  • do you miss those shiny chromed bumpers on cars that made it so easy to latch onto for a lift?
  • winter is messy. In your classroom or home, have you perfected the technique of storing wet boots?

As always, I’d love to hear your stories about these boots or perhaps the actual boots that you used to wear if you weren’t cool like me.

This is a regular Sunday post around here … you can check them all out here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


The first Friday of 2022 shows that there’s no lightening up of the quality content from Ontario Edubloggers. Check out the latest.


NO RESOLUTIONS FOR 2022 – JUST CONTINUING MY PILGRIMAGE

I immediately set aside this post for reading later. First of all, the word “pilgrimage” is not one that I run across regularly. Secondly, it was from Pav who doesn’t blog all that frequently but when she does, you know that it won’t be a quick and easy read.

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

I do like the concept of “continuing” because the notion that you start something on January 1 and finish it on December 31 seems somewhat artificial. It’s the season for Weight Watchers and we know that most that start with good intentions never make it to the end of the year. Heck, the television commercials don’t make it that long either.

It comes as no surprise that Pav is a bit of all over the map on her vision. She does have her fingers on a number of things. I’ve never met her but her writing and podcasting leave me an impression of a person who is deep thinking and comfortable for reaching out into new areas. I think this complexity comes through in the post when she talks about the three realms that she sees in her life “my personal life, my side-hustle life, and my educational life“. Interestingly, the discussion always circles back to her teaching life and that’s a good thing. She isn’t all that open with her personal life and family and that’s good and understandable as well.

I’ve always felt that New Year’s was even more artificial for educators because we know that the real year starts in September and ends in June. New Year’s Break always felt kind of artificial. But then, I always brought home marking and lesson planning so maybe I was my own worst enemy.


Last Post of 2021. Looking ahead. One Word for 2022

On the Wednesday voicEd Radio show, I indicated that Elizabeth had forgone the one word for a year and had focused on a word for the month instead. On Twitter, I got fact checked and it was actually longer…

My bad.

Anyway, she’s not about to do it again. Her rationale was pretty interesting

“My #OneWordx12 project started to feel connected to the pandemic”

I can’t help but think that whether it’s one word for a year, one word for a month, taking your family to the beach, or something as everyday as going to the grocery story, or anything else, we’re all seeing this pandemic everywhere. Like it or not, we are connected to this damned pandemic.

To me, whether it’s twelve words or one word or no words, it has to be a decision that you can live with and not have it beat you up at every turn. So, if she felt that way, her rationale makes sense to her and, if it makes things easily, then there’s no question that she should change. As you get through the post, she does close with some great ideas for self- improvement and, if that’s what keeps her motivated, then I say go for it.

I was in and out of a Twitter discussion this morning (I wish I’d been more in) and, beyond the friendly banter, there’s a wonderful sense that there’s a group of people there to chat with which is so nice to know as we continue to stay away from the familiar face to face groupings that we all love.


2 weeks

You’ve got to turn back the clocks a bit to get the context for Will’s post. He takes the two weeks away from school a little bit slow. The first bit is a continuation of daily routine (without going to school) and sort of eases into things.

That was so different from my reality. My reality is that I’d get home to my wife and a fully packed car, grab the kids and dog and head to our parents’ places. It was important for them that we get there for as long as possible and my wife was a nurse so we’d do our best maximize the visit. Nurses don’t get Christmas off unless they’re lucky. Ditto for New Year’s Eve. I still remember the routine pitstops – Tilbury, Grand Bend, unless there’s an emergency and then it was Petrolia.

Of course, that was a different time and different circumstances. We knew that we were returning to school on January whatever and the biggest challenge might come from over eating. Except for the one year that I ended up flat on my back from pnuemonia, of course.

I thought that he nailed it when he talks about the distribution of testing kits just for students in the waning days of December. That most definitely stuck an exclamation point on any thought about how this government feels about teachers.

As I type this, school is back in session albeit online. We’ve taken in three kids who are using up the wifi. They didn’t know until recently what was going to happen in their academic life. I stick my head in the doors periodically to hear what’s going on and I can’t help but reflect that there are three teachers on the other end. They haven’t gone into hiding to come out periodically for news cameras. They are truly working the front lines and Will’s post reveals his side of the “two weeks” that was anything but predictable this time around.

To all the teachers out there who do not feel refreshed and rejuvenated like you might in a regular year, your feelings are certainly understood.

Will promises that this discussion and his analysis will continue.


Done.

Elementary and secondary schools aren’t the only ones trying to make a go of it during these bizarre times. There are post-secondary schools as well and James just finished teaching a seminar on online teaching and learning.

There’s his typical teacher stuff like dragging one’s heels to getting marks submitted; I don’t care who you are, that is never a quick and easy process if you do any thinking about assessment and evaluation at all.

But, wait! I couldn’t help but think that this seminar would have been wonderful for every teacher to attend pre-COVID! In these unpredictable times, every bit would help. There are huge insights and values to what James shares when he asks the seminar participants what there takeaways and stayaways were. (love the term stayaway)

  • full-fledged, 100% synchronous courses do not do anyone any favours
  • instructor presence is a necessity – students want it and need it
  • we need clarity and simplicity in our online courses
  • give students more authentic learning opportunities
  • collaborate with students
  • build flexibility into courses

Of course, you need to click through and read his post where these are all fleshed out. Does anyone remember the promise/threat of online courses needed for graduation at secondary school?


Imperial cheese memories

I’ll admit that this post had a very emotional response on this end. On the surface, this could be about the wonderful looking Imperial Cheese crescents that her mom was famous for. My big learning there was that the Imperial Cheese that she talks about comes from Stratford – do you know how many times I’ve been to and through Stratford and didn’t know this?

Here’s a link to Maclaren’s Imperial Cheese Spread.

For those of us who are of a certain age, our mothers were famous for something that they made that nobody else could/would. In my Mom’s case, it was butter tarts. At family reunions, every Tupperware container in the house was full of these things that would get devoured when we got there. I’ll confess to not being a fan and so she’d always make a couple filled with raspberry jam just for me instead.

It’s these memories that are so important and Heather describes a wonderful mother who is going through some challenges and so she’s picking up the baking ball and it includes hunting down Imperial Cheese. What a wonderful gesture. I’ve got to stop here; I have something in my eye but this really is a delightful post that needs to be read.


2021 GAMES IN REVIEW

I enjoyed reading Mike’s post about his year in gaming. He describes being a gamer at a number of different levels. I’ll confese; I’m not a big computer gaming person these days but I loved a good game of Doom back in the day. How sad is it and how old am I that I can’t find a Doom image on unsplash to insert here?

Gaming was a big motivator in the computer science classroom. I’d buy a couple of games and they were available for student playing before and after school and during lunch periods. The motivator came when students would tire of the game and write their own. You just don’t tell them that it is good for them.

Mike’s list includes some of the real classics – Minecraft, Flight Simulator, etc. and I’ll confess to not knowing the majority of these other games which he classifies as:

  1. What I played
  2. What is on my wishlist
  3. What I enjoyed the most
  4. My biggest disappointment

Mike does confess to being a big gamer and it’s quite evident with this collection. To help with this post, I brought in my 12 year old gaming expert who did recognize a few of the games but not nearly as I thought that he might.

So, Mike, you’ve stumped this household but I did enjoy reading your thoughts.


thanks, i’m failing much better now #tifmbn

I’m glad to cross paths with Chris again and dove into this post. It had a catchy, lower-cased title so what’s not to like?

Failure is a common term in education which helps us embrace success all that much more. But, I’ve got to ask. Are we the only profession where anything less than 100% is failure? I remember I could bring home a test to my dad with 99% on it and being asked why I didn’t get 100!

Chris offers a number of thoughts and insights worthy of stopping to ponder.

“I also wondered why it was that when we speak of learning and leading from failure, we expect administrators and system leaders to do it first.”

Don’t we all recall days when we “failed’? I sure do.

My insights, probably formed after a frustrating first two or three years of teaching, was that the cards are and will always be stacked against me as a teacher. When it’s just you, there is a clear vision of what success or failure might be. But, as teachers, we aren’t 1:1. We’re 1:many and that results in insights that often you never see coming.

Chris promises to be very open and share his thinking about the topic over the next few blog posts and provides a list of areas that he’s prepared to dig in to. I’m looking forward to reading them.


As with every Friday, this a great collection of content from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these terrific posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • James Skidmore – @JamesMSkidmore
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Mike Washburn – @misterwashburn
  • Chris Cluff – @chrisjcluff

The voicEd Radio show from last Wednesday can be found here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/new-years-reflections-online-teaching-and-memories-of-moms-cooking/