This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I always enjoy reading blogs from Ontario Educators and sharing them during this post.  It’s a constant reminder that there are so great thinkers out there and we’re so fortunate to have them sharing their thoughts with us.


Music, millenials and the lost art of curation

Tim King takes us back, way back, in terms of the way that we collect music.  Then, he gives us a history of music in his life from cassettes to CDs to streaming music.  Along the way, he notes that we may have lost something in the process – the deep tracks.  When you bought a cassette, you listened to all eight songs and enjoyed them all.  Now, with streaming, you just go directly to the latest hit.  And the service recommends what you listen to next.  Are we losing something?  I think so.  I can’t tell you how often my favourite song on an album never made it to the radio.

Streaming on the web contains some issues as well – distraction if you’re driving, and the cost of streaming which we know is high in Canada.

Where Tim dropped the ball though was he didn’t go back far enough – to vinyl records which just might be making a comeback!  And, to show that we didn’t always think outside the box, I saw something like this at a car show recently.

Record players were the infotainment systems of the 1950s and ’60s

What’s really cool about Tim’s post is the interaction on Twitter.  This post is now going to be considered a media resource for an AQ course.  I’m impressed.


Turning Reading On Its Head!

Speaking of Media…

I found myself thinking that my concept of reading is the same as Aviva Dunsiger.  I pick up a book, start on page one, and then read until I get done.

Full stop.

That’s reading.

Apparently not, as Aviva found out over dinner at the BIT Conference.

Michelle gave an alternative perspective. She said that maybe the problem is how we view “reading.” We’re looking at reading as “finishing a book,” but what about the reading that happens in video games? Some games require so much reading and thinking that completing a game would be equivalent to finishing an incredibly long book. And students need to read, and think about what they read, in order to meet with success, finish the game, and get the points.

I’m not totally convinced but there is a certain amount of logic that rings true.  Click through and read Aviva’s post and see where you stand.


Making Connections – Edcamp Ottawa, Voiced Radio, MADPD

One thing you can say about Paul McGuire – he’s not afraid to take a chance.

In this post, he shares his story about Edcamp Ottawa and the 75 educators there that spent a day learning.  It’s good reading and Paul identifies what he calls “new learning”.  In that bundle he includes voicEd Radio, MADPD, … The fact that the observation comes from an Edcamp adds that layer as well.  It wasn’t just the blog; he was podcasting from there too.

But there was one paragraph that rubbed me the wrong way and I called him out on it.

I would love to see some of the big school boards promote MADPD or Voiced Radio on their Twitter feed or take a leading role by encouraging their educators to take part in these new approaches.

My challenge is with him identifying only big school boards.  While they may be big in organization, the typical teacher is most impacted by the work world around her/him.  So, in a school with a school population of 500, does the need change if you’re in a large board or a small board?

I hope not because when you look, it’s all about professional growth for individual teachers and the learning that happens with that one student.


Creating the Conditions to Empower

I’m not a real fan of Ignite formats as it seems to me that they’re the exact opposite of engagement with an audience as the presenter focuses on getting the message out in the  time limits and according to the speed of the slides.  Very often, a good message can get lost in the technicalities.

But, never lose the sight of a good message and David Carruthers had a wonderful set of content for his Ignite talk.

  • Don’t Lower the Bar to Meet Diminished Expectations
  • Publicly Celebrate Achievements
  • Connect to the Heart by Cultivating Relationships and Instilling Trust
  • Lead by Example
  • Listen to Concerns

There’s some terrific ideas there that would be awesome for a full blown presentation with lots of give and take with an audience.  He breaks out his thoughts about each in the post.


BIT17 Non Conference Observations

After the BIT17 conference, Eva Thompson fired off three blog posts outlining her experience.  Any one of them would be good enough for a conference report to her supervisor and I’d encourage you to read them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post of random thoughts from a conference.  I pulled out four that really resonated with me.

 

  • Elevators
    • Me too.  My hotel had five floors and over the course of the event and going in and out of the hotel many times, the elevator was NEVER on my floor.  Now, I get that it might not be on the fifth floor where my room was but you’d think just once it would have been sitting on the ground floor.  And then it was slow too!
  • Sitting in the last row of the theatre
    • That’s absolutely me.  Particularly if there’s a speaker that I want to hear, I like being able to just focus.  And, there’s something creepy about taking notes on your computer with someone looking over your shoulder.
  • Chocolate chip muffin for breakfast
    • Why not treat yourself?  Family’s not there to see that you’re breaking the rules a bit.  That’s my rationale anyway.  I did pay attention this time; there were so many IHOP restaurants in Niagara Falls.
  • My laptop bag is not comfortable
    • I have a knapsack and a pull bag.  I prefer the pull bag that follows me on the floor.  I typically have two of three computers and the chargers that go with them.  They’re really heavy.  Don’t criticize me – I see others who shift from shoulder to shoulder to ease the pain.  If you get good with the pull bag, you can easily get on and off an escalator without breaking stride.

 

8th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit 150

If you weren’t able to attend this summit, Zelia Capitão-Tavares shares a pretty inclusive summary of the day with links to the speakers.

It sounds like a typical day where “futurists” were telling the audience everything that’s wrong in education and how “change starts with you”.

The real meat for me in this post were the comments from Zelia’s students.

As each of the speakers shared virtually or live on stage, my students attentively listened to the messages, making connections to their own experiences and reflecting on potential for changes in their own environments. Sure, I smiled every once in awhile as they turned to me and whispered, “Ms.T we are already doing this”, “Ms.T you have already set us up with these choices”, and “They are talking about our classroom”. However, our side discussions were more intriguing as they asked questions of clarification, “why are they saying only star students get to do things”, “what do they mean by pockets of innovation”, “why do teachers teach to the test” and “what does teaching and learning in silos mean?”

Are these speakers out of touch with the realities today’s students face?  Maybe these students need to invite them to their classroom to get a dose of reality.  Good teachers ARE doing these things.

I hope that Ms. T. took the kids to McDonald’s or for ice cream afterwards. What great comments.

It sounds like they truly get it.


How many do you see? (Part 1)

I love this post from Mark Chubb for many reasons.

He starts with a picture of a Grade 2 geometry activity.  It’s pretty straight forward.

All he asks is a simple question.  Pick a shape and report how many of them you find in the picture.

In the real teaching world, you’d just turn to the back of the book and get the answer.  Would you actually do the activity yourself?

But the responders to Mark’s post are all teachers and they have many different answers and takes on the question.

Now, let’s go back to the concept of testing where you’re not looking at a process – just to get the right answer.  After all, this is mathematics, right?

If teachers have all these questions, how can we possible blame a child for being confused?


I hope that you’ve stuck with me this far.  It’s yet again another great week of reading.  Please click through and read the entire posts and drop off a comment.

And, join Stephen Hurley and me Wednesday mornings at 9:15 on voicEd Radio where we chat about some of the great posts of the week.

Advertisements

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to yet another Friday, the first one in November.  How about starting your day with these inspirational blogs from great Ontario Edubloggers.


About a Dog

You may need a tissue as you read this post from Jennifer Aston.

Jennifer takes us on a trip down memory lane with what sounds like a quirky family addition that had a wonderful fifteen years.

There are some great stories in here and I think that any dog owner will see elements of their own furry friend in there.

It always is difficult to say goodbye to a family friend and this certainly was no different.

My sympathies, Jennifer.


Self-regulation – not just for kids!

Lisa Cranston puts self-regulation to a very personal level in this post.  If you had read a post from a few years ago, you know that she has a second “temporary” home in Argentina.  In fact, the original post was filled with all kinds of pictures showing the place off.

Jealous.

However, a recently trip turned out to be a considerably different event.  From not being allowed inside the gated community, to a very small apartment, to a neighbourhood with no restaurants, you can feel her frustration rising.

It reads just as it must have felt to her.

But, self-regulation came to the rescue.  It’s a great testament to why we need others in our lives.


Filling my cup…..

Stephen Hurley and I talked about this post from Ann Marie Luce on our #TWIOE broadcast.  There’s nothing really different about that; we talk about a lot of great Ontario Edubloggers.  It’s just that most of them are working and can’t hear us live and hopefully catch up in the “On Demand” section.

This was a bit different.  We’ve visited Ann Marie’s blog before; she’s in China for an educational experience of a lifetime and sharing what’s happening there with us.  It’s such a brave move.

Well, as it turns out, she was listening to voicEd radio as we were talking and starting using Twitter to stay in touch.  We were talking about the things that she’s doing for herself – it’s like a lesson in mindfulness.  She jumped right in when we were talking about her learning Mandarin and enjoying Bubble Tea and how she modifies it from what you can buy around here.

It’s a great post outlining all that she’s doing for herself.  Take a read and see if you can’t do some of what she’s suggesting.


Videos Going Viral! Take-A-Seat-O

Cameron Steltman uses his classroom blog to get students thinking and writing about topics that are of interest to them.

In this particular entry, they’re exploring what makes a video viral on the internet.

1. Why do you think that videos go viral?
2. Why do you think this video was so popular and got shared so many times?
Give reasons for your answer.
3. Do you think creating videos are an effective way to create change? Why or Why not?
4. What’s your favourite viral video … post a link to it and explain why you think it was able to go viral.

There are some great insights from the students and their thoughts about what makes a video popular.  Not surprisingly, the student responses tend to lean towards the entertainment side.

Too good not to share…

Don’t just check out this post, check out a few of them.  Could you use a similar blogging approach in your own classroom?


The Messy World of Knowledge Sharing in Teams: What Helps and How to Improve it

From the KNAER-RECRAE blog, Vicky Ward takes on the topic of how to share when you’re working in groups.  The advice given takes me back to activities where we had to do a group approach to a particular topic.  The one in my mind was NTIP preparation.

Everyone around the table had things to share but voice wasn’t shared equally.

I found that all of the teams encountered some difficulties when trying to share knowledge, be it having too much knowledge and information to share

This example gives some insight to the challenges that might happen in these cases.

My take was that the target audience was adult professionals but I could easily see this being handy when observing student groups or setting the norms for those groups.

The enclosed table has some terrific questions.


Playful Symmetry

I’m sure that Deanna McLennan didn’t have me in mind when she wrote the post but it really resonated when I took out the Hallowe’en decorations.  You see, I hate putting stuff away in the attic and so the placement of things is not timed to the calendar.

In other words, I had to move the Christmas decorations to get at the Hallowe’en stuff.

As I’m moving things around, I couldn’t help but note that there was symmetry everywhere.  Whether it’s a handing ball for the tree or a pumpkin head for the front window, very careful production had happened to make the elements symmetrical.  Even carving a pumpkin or putting the lights up on the tree has a strong element of symmetry – especially when you ask “How’s that?”.

In the post, you’ll find a dozen examples of activities that she’s done with her students around the topic of symmetry.  The look on the young lady’s face when she opens her Paint Droppers example is priceless.


Targeted Instruction

Mark Chubb recently had a discussion about Entrance Slips.  When he started to dig into what they actually are and how they are used, he uncovered a number of details which he outlines in this post.

In the discussion, there was an attempt to use the slips as a way to handle differentiated instruction.  Mark reminds us that students, in order to be successful, must all students must experience all activities.  Of course, his focus is mathematics.

Specifically…

2017-11-02_1620

This isn’t a quick and easy post to read but I think it’s well worth it.  He doesn’t specifically mention it but there’s a strong message that I got that you need to totally understand any new pedagogy before putting it into use.


What another wonderful collection of blogs from people just like you.  They’ve decided to share their learning openly and invite you to learn with them.  Please click through and read their thoughts and drop them a comment or two.  They’ll appreciate it.

Follow these bloggers!

@jen_aston
@lisacran

@turnmeluce
@MrSteltman
@KNAER-RECRAE
@McLennan1977
@MarkChubb3

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

A new blogroll


I had a request from a couple of people recently for a list of Ontario Edubloggers.  Of course, the go-to list is the Livebinder that I’ve created here.

Screenshot 2017-10-27 at 10.10.40

I’m the first one to acknowledge that it serves a specific purpose. All the links there were indeed active blogs at one point in time.  Sometimes, the desire to blog regularly passes and so some of the links will take you back to a different time.

There was another source.  One of the requests that I got was from Stephen Hurley.  He was interested in getting a list of all of the bloggers, their blog links, and their Twitter handles who had appeared in our regular Wednesday morning show, now at over 30 episodes.  Given that we talk about 4 or 5 blogs weekly, that could be as many as 150 different blogs.

I was thinking that might be a big job but it turned out not to be.  You see, I have always had a scratchpad of the blog posts that I wanted to include in my Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”.  To that end, I’ve created a shared document with Stephen so that he knows what’s going to appear on the show.  To satisfy his request, I just extracted the required information from the document.  They appeared in a last first order.  And, there have been some blogs that we’ve talked about more than once so I wanted to make sure that there were no duplicates.

The best way to do this was to lose the last first order and go alphabetical!  Consequently, my next step was to take all that data and put it into a spreadsheet and do a sort by name.  The list gets put into order and duplicates are easy to spot.

Now, it would be a shame to do that work and not repurpose it.  My immediate thought was that this would make for a nice blog roll since the content is pretty fresh.  A copy/paste into a new WordPress page and the job is complete!

Screenshot 2017-10-27 at 10.19.29

The list is now available here on this blog.  It’s listed above or you can access it by clicking here.  It’s a quick and easy reference for those moments when you get asked “Do you know of any good Ontario blogs?”

Want to get on that list?  Start blogging and make sure that Stephen and I know about you!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here’s your weekly collection of great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers guaranteed to inspire, not scare.

37838726361_67146bc14c_m

Photo Credit: Legohaulic Flickr via Compfight cc


The Dying of the Day

Paul McGuire has taken to his blog to let us know of some family health challenges.  There was a time when this sort of news would be communicated by telephone or through the local newspaper.

However, when you have an expansive network like Paul’s, people are taking the news to social media as well.

Beyond the news that Paul shares, there was one interesting comment as it relates to education.

Sad to say, we are not a society that understands the passing of life very well.

He’s right, of course.  In school and in social studies, we often learn about these things as they apply to other cultures and religions but we don’t about our own.  I know that I learned first hand at my grandfather’s funeral.  I most certainly could have been better prepared.


Learning Design by Making Games (in Scratch)

I was really intrigued by this blog post just by reading the title of this post from Jim Cash.

Haven written many games myself (does anyone remember Bay Street Bulls?), I started to think about how I designed things.  I didn’t have someone working the parameters like Jim describes in this project.  I really like the concept of the junior years’ students consulting with the primary years’ students to see how they tick.

In my case, my design was done by how I thought it should be done.  I really didn’t see the product from the perspective of anyone else.  In the post, Jim describes the complete process they followed, step by step.

But, the best part were the comments from the students.  Even though Scratch was the tool that they used, the students were able to extrapolate their learning about design thinking to other things – city planning, football plays, building a chair …

Nicely done.  The kids get it.


“Digital Parenting”: Struggles and Solutions

Anyone who is considering having children should read this post from Sheila Stewart and the references that she cites.

I think everyone who has children want to raise them so that they will succeed in their lives.  Our parents learned how to parent from their parents and we learned how to parent from our parents.

It’s no long as simple as “turn off that television and go outside and play”.

2017-10-26_1515

But, it’s more than just a screen.  We had screens in our youth but they were black and white for many of us and there was no sense of interacting with it other than to get up and walk across the room to change the channel.

Considering the state of the screen now and the challenges that today’s parents have, what challenges will the next generation have?

More than ever, consider Moore’s Law.


The Hypocrisy of Student Well-being

Andrew Campbell takes us on a timeline and reflections about the Ministry of Education’s announcement that

So it was initially reassuring to see Education Minister Mitzie Hunter announce a $49 million program to “boost the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of Ontario students, and help make schools inclusive, safe, and welcoming learning environments”

Andrew reflects on the current state of concern with respect to mental health services and the impact that waiting times have on student well-being, school well-being, and teacher well-being.

He takes a position on the priorities for the funding and offers his own suggestions as to what the Ministry should have done instead.

I find it difficult to disagree with his suggestions.


Qualified to Teach Math?

Deborah Weston tagged me to this post and another one on the Heart and Art of Teaching blog.  (What 21st Century Learning Looks Like in 2017)  I chose to focus on this one given the current concerns about the teaching of mathematics.

There probably was a time when anyone could teach mathematics.  All you had to do was refresh yourself on how you were taught and repeat the process, right?  I even remember our budget item for manipulatives – we had a bundle of 100 toothpicks with a rubber band around them.

Perhaps there’s a message that my computer has underlined “manipulatives” as being a spelling mistake.  As my computer to “look up” manipulatives and I get an advertisement for an app to buy.  So, if a term doesn’t exist, …

Her post includes a survey of literature identifying the related research of mathematics and teaching in schools.

Her conclusion?

I am a better science teacher because I learned about science in my science degree. I am a better math teacher because I took many grade 12 math courses with a qualified math teacher. My understanding of math continued to grow with a math related business degree. But because I have an ancillary understanding of French does not mean I should be teaching French.

Does this build the argument for specialist mathematics teachers?  At a bare minimum, it builds a case for at least having an understanding of mathematics and the continuum of learning that’s required.  It’s going to take more than a workshop every now and again showing off some cool technique learned with no context.

As luck would have it, Matthew Oldridge shared his thoughts on the topic here.  On The Importance of Mathematical Content Knowledge for Teaching

How can you argue with Bob Dylan?


Google Drawings Templates

If you’re a Google user, you’ll find this resource from Larissa Aradj invaluable.

She shares her thoughts about using templates with Google Drawings to do some pretty neat things.  She gives away a template for creating infographics and then raises the stakes by describing how to create your own templates and then use for more sophisticated things.

2017-10-26_1546

The post models some great ideas.  More than teacher centred, perhaps having students design templates for future classes would be in order.


CC and ME

I mentioned this post, by Helen DeWaard last week.  It was powerful enough to generate a couple of my own in response.

Plus, Andy Forgrave brought Alan Levine into the picture about a visit to Windsor a few years ago.

So, it’s with that in mind, that I think you should read her post if you missed it the first time around.


An Interview with Stephen Hurley

I have the opportunity to spend Wednesday mornings with this gentleman on voicEd radio and he was good enough to be interviewed for this blog.  Want to know more about him?

Just click.


It’s been yet another great week on blogging across the province.  Please take a moment to click through and read these wonderful posts.

Also, be sure to drop off a comment or two.  The original authors will appreciate them.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been yet another great week looking at the efforts of Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some inspiring reading to let you appreciate things.


Will This Be On My Report Card?

Throw that question in the same category as “Does this count?” and you’ll have a peek inside the student mind.  I’m sure that we all asked the same question when we were in school so it’s not something new.

Karaline Vlahopoulos shares her thoughts on this and includes a student interaction.

“Miss Karaline, I need to practice writing more. I’m bad at it”.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, because Miss Karaline, I got a 62% in spelling, so that means I’m a bad writer”.

Who hasn’t that conversation?

For Karaline, this takes her on a tour of the pressure put on students and Mental Health.  It will get you thinking.


Digital Citizenship Week

Jennifer Casa-Todd offers some suggestions in this post about Digital Citizenship.  As she notes, thankfully, we’ve got past the concept of scaring Digital Citizenship principles into students.

So, what are the alternatives?

Jennifer has written the book Social LEADia which contains many ideas and this post supplements the materials in her book with links to resources and other ideas.  (link the Twitter and Blog listings of students and the revised ISTE Digital Citizen standards and more)


I Don’t Have Survey Fatigue

When I read the title of Sue Dunlop’s post, I was hoping that it didn’t deal with those goofy surveys that you see online so frequently.  “What is your Viking name?” …

This past year, I’ve completed the Implicit Bias Test , the Quiet Revolution Personality Test (introvert or extrovert?) and most recently, the Strengths Test and the 4Di questionnaire.

And she didn’t.  You can click through and get a sense of what these surveys are about.  I like her rationale about trying to find out the inner Sue and what skills that she has that can contribute towards teamwork.

I had a superintendent once who had us do a couple of these types of surveys and we followed up with a discussion about the results (without getting too personal).  His goal was to try to put together the best team possible as well.


Reflections on #TheMathPod with Cathy Fosnot: The Meaning of Context

voicEd Radio is back with more discussions about the teaching of mathematics with Cathy Fosnot.  The recent show talked about the importance of providing context with activities.

Deborah McCallum took the time to blog about her reflections from the show.

2017-10-19_1431

I suspect that we’re going to hear so much about the “back to basics” approach as well as some of the newer approaches as Ontario revisits things like curriculum and testing.

Deborah hones in on what I think is the most important idea worth understanding for everyone.  That is the sequencing of the rich tasks that students undertake.

This is a good post and those who are following the MathPod would be well advised to give it a read.  And, ideally, write a post or two of their own.


Media Monsters: Harvey, Boycotts, Intersectionality and Slacktivism

Wow, where do you go after a blog post title like that?

That’s not all that Diana Maliszewski addresses either.  She manages to also include jury duty, Marshall McLuhan, her AQ course, and #WomenBoycottTwitter

2017-10-19_1455

As I said, she addresses all of these at a personal and societal level.  I’m impressed with her for taking them all on.

One person may not seem to be able to solve all of these things but let’s not forget Margaret Mead’s message.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

At the end, Diana seems to question herself and I’m sorry to read that.  I don’t think anyone, anywhere should question a decision that they’ve made of solid personal principle.  I’m impressed that she stood for what she believes.


CC and ME

Helen DeWaard is “a Creative Commons teacher.”  I thought that to be an interesting opening statement and anxiously read on to get a sense of where she was coming from.

She does describe the journey.  Attribution is an interesting and important topic.  We lived and died by it as university students.  I would suggest that it was easier then.  We didn’t have the quick and easy access to copy/paste facilities to be able to do all that we can today.  It’s an important topic and one that should be addressed any time that students are asked to create works.

My answer has always been that the first action should be to have students create their own but there are times when you have to go beyond that.  Helen talks about “fair use” and I would have liked her to discuss “fair dealing” as it applies to Ontario teachers.

She does have some questions.  Here are my answers.

How do you attribute the works of others that you include in your own creative works?

I prefer to use a free to use service like morguefile.com but when that doesn’t work, I’ll use a service that creates an attribution to use.  The irony of copying/pasting that isn’t lost on me.

How do you license your creative work to let others know how they can use or share these artifacts?

On my “About” page, you’ll find this.

2017-10-19_1517


Inclusive Classrooms: A Must Do

There’s an interesting introduction to this post and its rationale from Jessica Gladu.

Her words:

Teachers “are expected to deal with more diverse student populations than ever before” (Bennett 1). In preparation for this, a requirement of our B.Ed. is to complete a class called “Inclusive Classrooms”. This two part class focuses on the education of students with exceptionalities and prioritizes strategies that allow for the inclusion of students with exceptionalities in the classroom. This class is an excellent source of information that helps teacher candidates become inclusive classroom teachers.

I hope that the ultimate message isn’t that you can address this in a two part class.  The realities are that, as Jessica notes, there is no such thing as a “regular classroom”.  Heck, students are so dynamic that even a classroom dynamic one day can be completely different the next day.  Understanding the diversity is a daily concern.  Embracing it is the hallmark of a successful teacher.


You got it.  It’s been another wonderful week of insightful posts from Ontario Educators.  Please click through and check out all these posts and drop off a comment or two.

Follow these bloggers!

If you’re an Ontario Education blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

An Interview with Stephen Hurley


Screenshot 2017-10-16 at 12.15.47Stephen Hurley is one of the reasons why I love Twitter and the concept of creating a Personal Learning Network.  I’ve learned so much from him, I’ve driven by his community so many times, and yet we’ve never met face to face.  Yet, I feel like I know him so well.

Stephen is an educator, creator, and above all a thinker whose work and efforts have really pushed my thinking for so long.  For that, I’m so grateful.

Doug:  We’ve certainly never met face to face but we’ve been connected for so long.  Do you recall when our paths first crossed online?

Stephen: It has seemed like close to forever! I believe that we first encountered each other virtually when I began my journey into Internet broadcasting through #ds106radio. That would have been after the very first Unplugged gathering that Rodd Lucier et al convened at the Northern Edge of Algonquin Park. That event led me to Andy Forgrave and so many others.

Doug: One of the areas where you’ve pushed me is in using more than blogs and text has been in the area of multimedia, specifically audio. This certainly has ties to your years in the classroom. Can you share a bit of your background?

Stephen: You know how to get me talking! I realized that I wanted a career in radio when I was in grade 4. It was the mid-60’s, just after the release of the Hall-Dennis Report here in Ontario. Things were changing. I was in an open concept classroom that year and the teacher recognized something about me that led her to hand me a microphone and cassette tape recorder. I recall being allowed to sit in an area of the classroom for hours at a time (well, it seemed like hours) creating my own “broadcasts”. My bedroom at home became my studio. Radio Shack eventually became a second church and I spent years nurturing an appreciation for the sound of the human voice (not just my own). In high school, I listened to talk radio, applied to become a summer reporter with CFRB and wanted desperately to go to Ryerson for Radio and Television Arts (I still long to enrol in that program). At the time, Ryerson was a Polytechnic Institute, and my parents wouldn’t have anything to do with the idea. This, of course, made my passion for this stuff even stronger.

When I finally began a career in education, the love of audio continued to influence how I taught, and how I spent my time preparing for lessons. I used to spend hours during the year and entire days during the summer months at our District AV/Tech facility, looking for multi-media resources, using their technology to create my own resources and imagining how sound, music and video could be combined to create powerful learning experiences. My assignments and projects would always include a multi-media option and I was always excited when students got excited about exploring the tools and technology available to them for creation.

My love and appreciation for media and, in particular, radio has only become stronger and I’m excited that, today, students and teachers have so many more ways to bring a sense of voice to their work!

Doug: You’re very active with the Canadian Education Association. Can you give us an example of some of the things that you contribute there?

Stephen: I encountered the CEA for the first time when I attended one of their annual symposia in Montreal back at the turn of the century. I knew immediately that this was an organization that I wanted to work with at some point in my career, but it wasn’t until a few years later that the opportunity presented itself. I started blogging for Edutopia in 2008 and it was through that work that Max Cooke, communication director for the CEA got in touch with me to do some writing for their magazine, Education Canada. I took that as an opportunity to reconnect with the organization and submitted a proposal to begin a series of podcasts under the banner, Teaching Out Loud. The idea was to raise the voices and stories of educators right across the country. Well, one thing led to another, and I soon found myself working with the CEA on some fairly robust research and facilitation pieces, including Teaching the Way You Aspire to Teach; The Challenge to Change and, most recently, the EdCan Network Regional Exchanges. Each of these projects has allowed me to move across the country and talk to education shareholders at various levels, listening to their aspirational stories and, in a very real sense, help the organization keep its ear to the ground across the country.

Doug: What prompted you to take the leap into voiceEd Radio?

Stephen: Leap is the right word to use. It’s a great description for most things that I do. Sometimes I make it across the moat, and sometimes I don’t! Back in December, I was reading The Age of Discovery by Chris Kutarna. It’s all about how we’re living in a period of Renaissance and there was one line, in particular, that caught my attention and imagination. It had to do with the idea that, in a period of renaissance, the lines between creator and consumer are blurred. Internet radio is one way that the lines between listener and broadcaster have been blurred.

I thought of my foray into the world of Internet Radio a few years ago with #ds106radio.
Something clicked and I quickly began to connect some possibilities.

5 years ago, I started voicEd.ca—a multi-author blogspace dedicated to deepening and broadening some of the conversations that we have about education. It wasn’t a great leap to begin to imagine how that writing space could be transformed by the addition of a radio space.

Within 24 hours, I found myself owning a radio station!

Doug: I was pleased when you asked me to do a regular bit on there and talk about some of the blog posts that I feature on my regular Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”. What made you think of inviting me?

Stephen: That was easy! I had been reading your This Week in Ontario Edublogs feature for a long time and, as I tried to imagine the type of content that we could bring to life on voicEd Radio, you were one of the first people that came to mind. Why couldn’t we use the radio to deepen the story around your featured blogs, their impact and the people behind them. We’ve never met face-to-face, but the weekly conversation make it seem like we’ve known each other for a long time.

Doug: I recall my first attempt at getting connected; I needed to really think about the gear on my end. I had the wrong browser, a microphone that didn’t give the results that you wanted, a reminder to close the door and keep external noises out, and so more including turning the fan off on hot summer days. Now that we have a routine, it’s pretty simple. Just the correct browser and my noise cancelling headphones and I’m good to go. But, things are far more sophisticated on your end. Can you share what’s in your studio to make it work?

Stephen: I broadcast from “the cave” in Milton and it is pretty simple. I have an iMac computer with a 27” screen. That gives me enough visual real estate to keep everything in front of me from a software perpsective.

I also have a PreSonus Firepod that allows me to plug in up to 8 mics. This connects to a simple piece of software called NiceCast. That drives the live broadcasts.

In terms of gathering guests in the room, I use Zencastr as a type of virtual “kitchen table”.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to integrate my electronic music software into the mix in order to create some original intro and outro music for broadcasts.

I’m just starting to gather the resources to allow voicEd Radio to head out on the road. At the beginning of November, we’ll be broadcasting live from 3 separate events, and we’re pretty excited about that!

Doug: The results certainly are very professional and I enjoy digging into the archived programs available on the voiceEd site. As I write this, I’m listening to your interview with Paul McGuire. We’ve chatted and you indicate that this is a personal project of yours. All of the setup is totally funded by you?

Stephen: voicEd Radio is a non-commerical/non-monetized project. Currently, it’s completely self-funded. I’m spending the first year playing with concepts and ideas in an effort to create a sense of value in the community. After our first year anniversary, I will begin looking for alternative structures, some funding models and some governance structures that work for us.

I’m actually looking for folks that might have some interest in helping me imagine how BlockChain technology might allow us to create a different metaphor for funding and value.

Doug: So, it’s a project that’s just gone wild! I do recall a conversation that we had once about the music on voiceEd. Many, including me, might guess that you just take license with YouTube but you go the whole distance with licensing. Can you tell us how and why it’s so important to you?

Stephen: I believe in attribution, but I also believe in making sure that I’m contributing to the livelihood of those artists whose work we use. My work on the Board of Directors for Access Copyright has attuned me to some of the copyright issues that are “out there” in the content ecosystem. It’s very important to me that I’m respecting those conversations, as well as the laws currently in place.

From the very start, we’ve had a non-interactive music license with SOCAN. Under our license, 80% of our station content can be music. We play very little music, with the exception of the work of some education-related singer/songwriters. But we also use music clips for intros and outros.

I’m not sure whether we’re in full compliance, but I’m working to explore with SOCAN what all of this means for us and our podcasters/broadcasters.

Doug: Recently, in looking for new blog posts, I fell into the blog area on voiceEd Radio and recognized some of the names there and found a few new names. What does it take to become a voiceEd Radio blogger?

Stephen: Simply a desire to share your thoughts and ideas in a respectful way. Currently we have contributions from some of our radio personalities, and some folks who would just like to write. I’m working on nurturing the blogging side of things in the months to come.

Doug: You even now have a Community Manager. Can you tell us about her and what her duties are?

Stephen: So, Sarah Lalonde is in the second year of her teacher preparation program at the University of Ottawa. She has been involved with voicEd Radio right from the start and has been instrumental in supporting its development.

Sarah has enthusiastically agreed to be our Community Manager. Sarah has embraced our social media presence, creating promotional materials for a variety of platforms, ensuring that social media announcements are up-to-date and helping me program the live stream each day. She is also a great sounding board for some of the crazy ideas that I sometimes have!

But Sarah is also a wonderful contributor to the voicEd community. She hosts her own podcast, is an active participant in others and is a great advocate for voicEd Radio.

Doug: voiceEd Radio continues to grow and you’ve given us an indication that it will expand again in November. What should be on our radar?

Stephen: As I’m writing this, we have so many exciting projects coming on to voicEd Radio. We have a 4-week series coming up with writer Ann Douglas, a six-week series with an Australian-born parent, Lois Letchford. We’re working with the Ontario Ministry of Education to launch season two of our mathematics exploration with Cathy Fosnot. Nancy Angevine-Sands is coming on to do some work on Parent Engagement and, in November, we’re launching the voicEd Radio Mobile—live broadcasting from events around the province and, eventually, around the world.

But those initiatives don’t tell the whole story. What started as a personal project has turned into a community and voicEd Radio is taking on a life of its own. It’s quickly becoming the open-space environment that I hoped it would become. And, as that happens, my name will fade a little more into the background and others will begin to emerge!

Doug: I am excited that we will actually meet. Plans are for us to do an episode of This Week in Ontario Edublogs live at the Minds on Media event at the Bring IT, Together Conference. It’s one thing to use your home studio but how will you take all this “on the road:?

Stephen: So, we’re looking to use the sound facilities already in place at conferences in events. A small USB interface will allow us to take sound right from the mixing board and feed it into a laptop computer. Then, hopefully, we have a live broadcast. I’m excited to explore, take some video of the process and share that with others.

My dream is to create a cadre of people across the country who would be available to do similar things at events in their areas. If I’m able to get some funding for this, we’ll be able to provide some of that equipment for people.

Doug: Recently, you had a Radio-a-thon at Voiced Radio. What was the inspiration for this? How did it go?

Stephen: Ah, 15 hours straight of live radio. What could be better? This was one of those ideas that came up in conversation over the summer. Several of us were thinking about back-to-school and how we might leverage the excitement of this time of the year to gain some traction for voicEd Radio. We actually had to expand our original plan for 12 hours as the requests to participate kept coming in! So, we began at 9:00 am and held the stream for 15 straight hours. It really solidified the community feel for this place, and we look forward to having more of these events in the future.

Doug: Even though you’ve left formal education, family life keeps you well grounded in the day to day education routine. Here’s a chance to brag about your family that you bring into our show regularly.

Stephen: It is a real gift for me to remain connected to the education system through my two boys, Luke and Liam. They are so different in the way that they approach the world that they’re allowing me to see their school experience from two totally different perspectives. Liam has a really vivid imagination and plans each and every day in his head before it even begins. Luke, on the other hand, is a puzzler—he loves codes, puzzles, intellectual challenges and the like. Both of the boys push the capacity of the system in different ways and it has been interesting to watch them grow from children into students. My wife, Zoe, is a middle school visual arts teacher and allows me to stay connected with the day-to-day life a practicing teacher. I love to think at the 30 000 foot level. My family keeps me close to the ground for at least a few hours a day.

Doug: Do you see a time where voiceEd radio gets too big for you and your Community Manager to manage? What happens then?

Stephen: That’s already started to happen. So, I’m starting to rely more on the community to offer ideas, advice and support. We’re just about to launch a request for voicEd Radio folks to contribute to a series of online tutorials under the “PodCamp” banner. We want to be able to gather together to support people that may want to become part of our radio team, but may be reluctant. Technical support, interviewing skills, bringing ideas to life, etc—these will all be part of what we hope will be a dynamic and vivid set of resources!

I’m also on the lookout for an effective way to grow the infrastructure, so that it continues to draw educators, parents, researchers and community members to this space. Lots of work to do, and lots of thinking to do. But I believe that we’re off to a great start!

Doug: Thank you so much for taking the time to share these details with folks, Stephen. I really appreciate it and I hope that people take the time to listen and perhaps even get involved with voiceEd Radio.

Stephen: I appreciate the opportunity to think out loud about all of this. I would encourage people who want to know more, or who have specific ideas about how they might become involved to reach out. Our tagline at voicEd Radio is: Your voice is RIGHT here!

You can connect with Stephen in these ways:

On Twitter, @Stephen_Hurley and @voicEdcanada
Stephen’s personal website: http://www.stephenhurley.ca/
voiceEd Radio: https://voiced.ca
The voiceEd blog: https://voiced.ca/voiced-blog/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another issue of This Week in Ontario Edublogs, a chance for me to share some of the great reading that I’ve enjoyed recently.  This week is no different.  Here are some terrific blog posts to enjoy.

Don’t be intimidated even if it is Friday the 13th.


Why do we need heroes?

So many schools in Canada use September as a chance to celebrate the Marathon of Hope and Terry Fox.  This post from Heidi Solway is a wonderful post sharing her thoughts about Terry Fox as her personal hero and the need for all of us to have heroes.  What makes it so important, particularly since the Marathon was a long time ago, is that there are times where students need to be assisted in finding their own heroes.  Left to their own choices, they may be overly influenced by other things.

Heidi also shares a beautiful poem that she penned personally.  On the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio program, Stephen Hurley and I talked about all this.  As we turned to this poem, I’ll admit to choking up and shared the moment with Heidi.  She noticed it as she listened to the program!


We have the technology…We can build Schools of the Future

I was a bit skeptic when I read the title to Ramona Meharg’s post.  Heck, we’ve had “the technology” for years and the schools that we see today are the future that that technology has built.  Are they significantly better?  A case could be made that they’re actually worse today.  We now have environments where parts of the technology have been locked out or disabled by IT Departments.  It’s a survival mechanism for them since we have so much technology and they’re charged with keeping it functional.  We also have school systems that buy it as quickly as they can without providing quality professional learning to go along with it.

Beyond the technology of things, Ramona talks about the technology of humans which makes the concept so much more appealing and obtainable.  She talks about what’s possible when you marry the technology of stuff with the technology of humans.

The result?

Students would be banging down our doors, begging to come in and learn. I wanna teach at THAT school.

Doesn’t everyone?


One Month In…

… only nine more to go?

Jennifer Aston takes us into the reality of her September.  As a secondary school teacher, the concept of “reorganization” was foreign to me but even I have empathy for someone who goes from a class of 23 in Grade 6 one day to 30 in a 5/6 split the next day.

Read about her story and the technology that she has lined up to help her meet expectations from two grades.

I went through elementary school in split classes.  We were told that the logic of being in the split class as opposed to the other straight class was that we were thought to be motivated, self-starters.  I’m almost positive that I shouldn’t have been in that category!  But it’s easy to see that technology support should make management of things easier.

The neat thing is that student blogging is on her horizon.

Sounds like things are going to be exciting in her class.


Are We Enabling Students to be Explorers of Deep Learning?

I’d hazard a guess that, if you asked every teacher that question, just about everyone would say “Yes, of course”.

Rola Tibshirani talks about what it means to her and offers three other questions.

  • How have we been shaping up the learning?
  • How are students owning the process?
  • How are students focusing on a purpose for their learning?

I think these are better questions.  I really like the examples that she shares.  They’re simple concepts but require some really deep thinking, research, and understanding.  They’re also grounded in culture, empathy, and a scenario that I would guess most students would never have personally experienced.

Some worked on designing a toy for children in refugee camps. The teams who are working on science began exploring the design thinking process by looking at an injured bird with a missing a leg.

Lots of pictures and descriptions go along with her reflection.


On Connections and being Connected

Peter Cameron was on voicEd radio and the discussion got around to talking about “connections” and “being connected” via Derk Rhodenizer’s #WordinProgress show.

I think what I am having difficulty understanding is the difference between how be define a “connection” and a “relationship”.

To me, the answer looks pretty easy.  You can have “connections” to basically anyone.  Or, anything.  But a “relationship” or “being connected” means so much more.

To me, it implies that there’s a give and take and both (or all) parts of those “being connected” are all the richer for the experience.  A “connection”, on the other hand, could be a one sided interaction where the value is siphoned off in one direction only.

I think the concept gets blurred because there are people who self-identify as “connected educator” or “connected learner” where, in reality, they may take things in but contribute nothing back in return.


Exploding Dots for Global Math Week

You’re probably aware of Exploding Dots if you’ve been following Global Math Week.

Kyle Pearce write a rather lengthy post chocked full of ideas and activities to support things from his end.

2017-10-12_0841

Dig in.

Mathematics can and should be fun.


Twitter, Educators and Dissent

I’ve been in a lot of Twitter chats and online discussion where the duration of the talk can be, oh, ten minutes or so.  Some Twitter chats force it to an hour with a Q&A format which allows everyone to come in and show their knowledge by entering as much edubabble as they can.

But, last weekend, a provocation from Paul McGuire turned into a three day marathon discussion where everyone was shooting from the hip.  It didn’t matter what time of the day or night you looked into the stream, there was always an interesting discussion.  sans hashtag too.

It inspired me to write a few posts summarized what I gleamed from the discussion.  Paul wraps up his thoughts in this post and gives credit to many of the participants.

And, it all started with a simple question.

What does Twitter do for educators? Content creation? Constructive feedback? Displaying work? Ideas? https://t.co/iUZ5TeBg9D via @mcguirp

— Paul McGuire (@mcguirp) October 8, 2017

In the post, you’ll find a link to a Storify document that Paul generated to keep the discussion in one place.  I think it would be an interesting exercise to diagram the discussion as well.

Is there a tool already created to do that?  Please let me know of one if it exists.


There are always great things coming from the blogs of Ontario Educators.  I keep that Livebinder updated as I find new content but I can’t find them all.  Please use the form there and add your own if it’s not there.  And, if you find a blog post from an Ontario Educator that you think should be highlighted in this weekly post, please let me know.

Your call to action – click through and read all of these wonderful blog posts.  Share one of them with colleagues.  Together, we can build groups of fans to support these wonderful thought leaders.