This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This Wednesday, Matthew Morris joined Stephen Hurley and me for This Week in Ontario, the Podcast. You can listen to it here. With Matthew’s insights, we took on a few new topics. You can read my thoughts about them below. As always, insights from great Ontario Edubloggers.

5 Things Every Teacher Should Do During Summer Break

This was a post from Matthew Morris. Here, he takes on the very popular blogging format “# Things …” and shares some advice about what to do during this time off.

  • Sleep
  • Purge Your Classroom
  • Un-Plug
  • Reflect on the Year
  • One New Thing for Next Year

Fortunately, for the podcast, he woke up early and plugged in, thereby breaking at least two rules on his list! But, as you work your way down the list, you’ll undoubtedly agree with them. Most support the notion of mental well-being.

I found that the “Reflect on the Year” to be one of the more interesting things when you consider that most people would consider this a year to forget. To be certain, we don’t know what the fall will look like so consolidating them with the on the fly learning that’s happened in the past few months could be very important.

It’s also advice that Subject Associations should be heeding. For the most part, teachers made it work but I’m sure that many of them could provide guidance to make things better. Just this morning, ACSE member Lisa Rubini-Laforest indicated that she will be leading a panel discussion at their virtual conference this summer about teaching online. All Subject Associations should be highlighting their expertise in this area and the sooner the better.

Take the lead; do them early, record them and place them online so that they’re accessible when most school districts do their end of August professional learning.

Cancel Culture and our students

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that social media has got meaner over the past few months. Personally, I have isolated some people from me because of a number of reasons. I’m emotionally happier as a result.

The concept has not gone unnoticed by Jennifer Casa-Todd and she takes on the topic in this post from the perspective of students. They can be brutal at times. She asks about various things that will get you thinking. One in particular struck me as needing to be answered.

If we are talking about adolescents, will their entire future be marred by one mistake?

Of course, Jennifer has many other thinking points and that will make reading her post worthwhile.

Trending this morning is this post from Margaret Wente

It’s an insight from the other side, from one who was “cancelled” due to pressure from Social Media.

6 Similes to describe how it felt to teach during COVID 19 Quarantine

During the podcast, I mused that only teachers and students would be able to use the word “similes” properly. Matthew indicated that rappers could as well!

In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Will Gourley does a top six list…

“Teaching during a quarantine”

The similes are certainly worth the read and has to bring a smile to everyone. I know it did for me. I also learned that AWOL doesn’t always have the meaning that I thought it did after watching years of M*A*S*H.

It seems to me that the best of the six was comparing learning to eating an ice cream code with a hole in the bottom. Read the post to see Will tell you why he feels that way.

It’s a great read and I get a sense that it might have been healing for Will as he got a lot off his chest. Read and share.


Where students come from a family to school, the insights from With Equal Step are really important.

Over and over again, we heard about how parents had a renewed appreciation for teachers (or a first appreciation) and how teachers had appreciated the support received from families.

The observations in the post about silos and bridges are important. There’s wisdom here for everyone.

While teachers and parents may be frustrated that they can no longer easily hand off our child to the other at the door, our new immersive connection reminds us that, “Diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones.”

How do research plans change in a COVID context? #MyResearch

I think that everyone could learn something from the observations in Anna Bartosik’s post.

I think that most people can envision the days of going to the library to grab some books or microfiche and doing the research. Since Anna made the reference to OISE, I remembered a couple of coffee places and the cafeteria at FEUT where many of us would meet and work together on things.

So, now you take all that away.

Well, we now have different/better tools. Just open a shared online document and a video conferencing window and take it from there. Anna shares her experience working in this environment.

microphone icon from noun project

Sure, we have the tools, better tools but …

And, I also learned about the Noun Project.

Is This When We Change Our View Of Planning?

I love it when Aviva Dunsiger says I’m right.

As Doug indicated in his comment, many people might be preparing for worst case scenarios right now. While I was quick to reply that my teaching partner, Paula, and I are not doing that, maybe that’s not completely true.

Well, maybe not in so many words but I’ll take what I can get.

So, Aviva is doing some planning

  • I’m planning for possibilities
  • I’m planning with connections
  • I’m planning to connect
  • I’m planning through reading
  • I’m planning to blog

Knowing her as I think I do, none of these come as real surprises.

Probably all teachers could say they’re doing these things and they wouldn’t be wrong. But I would point to the one in the middle. (Mental note: should have used a numbered list)

The value of connecting needs to go further than “I gots me a Twitter account”. Connecting means building that account to have a critical mass of wisdom both supporting and challenging your assumptions and more importantly to put yourself out there, offering advice, asking for suggestions, working collaboratively, being humble…

Just don’t get yourself cancelled.

MakerEdTO 2020 Virtual Conversations

I’m really liking it when organizations are rolling with the punches and coming out the other side winning.

MakerEdTO is one of those groups and Diana Maliszewski shares with us how it was done.

Of course, they couldn’t get together and make things happen by all being in the same place at the same time. It wasn’t talking heads; they worked on giving everyone selection and used online breakout rooms to make it happen.

There’s a great deal to be learned from this post and I’m sure Diana would be more than accommodating for those who want to ask questions to make educational gatherings like this work, even in these times.

Please take the time to click through and read all these wonderful posts and then follow these educators online through Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • With Equal Step – @WithEqualStep
  • Anna Bartosik – @ambartosik
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs

July kicked off the summer months and This Week in Ontario Edublogs was there to enjoy the day. On the voicEd Radio show, guest Amanda Potts joined Stephen Hurley and me for the hour. You can listen to the show via Podcast here.

Who’s anti-racist?

Our guest Amanda Potts took us through this very personal post. Because of the issues happening in the US and indeed, Canada, at the moment, people are taking the time to write about their feelings and sharing their own view of their personal privilege.

There was an interesting reflection on her view of the difference between n0n-racist and anti-racist and we had a chance to discuss that on the show.

In the post, Amanda shares two wonderful stories and paints a vivid picture in each. One was about a student whose mother kept her at home when she got angry to keep her from getting into trouble. The other story was about accidentally assisting a person who she had cut out of her social media life. Of course, both were learning experiences.

Throw in reference to a couple of podcasts on the topic and it’s quite easy to see that she has done considerable thinking about this.

It’s a long-ish post and very rich in content. I’ve read it a few times now and fine something new each time through.

Slice of Life: Routine

One of the truly remarkable things about being a teacher is that, in a thirty year career, you have 30 different starts and stops to your workflow. I can’t think of any other job that can make that claim.

School is full of routine. We know that students succeed better because of this. And, because teachers are there every minute, they run through the same routine, at least while at work.

I can recall the end of school years gone by. You run for an entire school year living and breathing the routine of daily life. Then, on that last day, it all changes. The school year routine goes away FULL STOP and summer begins. Some people take the first week or so to kick back and relax. I always liked the concept of continuing with the energy and going on a holiday or attend a conference at the first of July.

As we know, this year is different. Lisa Corbett claims that she has a lot to do and shares some of it with us. She admits that, upon proofreading, she found her post “aimless”. As a result of teaching at home, the home part continues, sans students. I hope that her family helps reset her priorities.

 That was what I needed to reset my school brain so I was ready for summer brain. Somehow I need to convince my family to do this on Friday night.

She does call the post “aimless” and I can understand. I also suspect that there are thousands of teachers that are feeling the same way and will need to kick start the summer months differently somehow this year.

Storage War$ Learn at Home Editon

As I was doing the show yesterday, I looked at the title and noticed the spelling mistake. I thought that was odd and that I had typed it incorrectly. But, Larissa Aradj, it was a copy/paste job from your post.

The post is about a terrific classroom activity that uses a Google Slide presentation to provide choices for students to select, based upon what they might find should they beat Brandi and Jarrod to win a locker.

What was unique about this was Larissa didn’t share her original template. Instead, another teacher, Leslie Mott, had taken Larissa’s concept and ran with it and Larissa chose to share Leslie’s idea in her post.

That stuck me as really unique. So many of us create and share concepts on social media. But, do we ever get a chance to share what someone else did with our idea? (Think about it for a second) It seems to me that this is how good ideas become great as a result of community improvement.

There actually was a bit of discussion on Social Media where Leslie identified Larissa as a mentor and a sharer of great ideas. I’ve been in a PD session led by Larissa and completely agree.

The 500 – #419 – “Dummy” – Portishead

I hadn’t heard any Portishead for years until I read this post from Marc Hodgkinson. He’s working his way through a top 500 list and sharing his thinking with us.

It was a great re-listen to me. It seems so long ago.

What’s interesting is how Marc goes through and shares his thinking about the music and ties it to what was happening in his personal life at the time.

And, just like last time I featured one of his posts, I did follow the link to the list of the top 500 to re-discover #1.

COVOID-19 and the Return of the Memory Thief

Well, this has to be one of the more emotional blog posts that I’ve read in a long time. Many of us have dealt with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s incredibly tough.

As much as I had to deal with it, it pales to the way that Judy Richards is. I had the advantage of being face to face, hand to hand, hug to hug. I can’t imagine the pain of being locked outside looking in at someone who is locked inside dealing with it.

Staff do try to make an effort by doing the communications via iPad thing but assuredly, it’s not the same. That’s even true if both ends of the communications are effective users of the technology.


There is a brigade of fire fighters caring compassionately for my mom, doing their best to comfort her, and keep her safe. 

PowerAutomate, Forms->Excel
PowerAutomate, Forms->Excel Part 2

The above is actually two posts from Cal Armstrong. I know that it looks a bit messy with the formatting but I don’t want to point to one without pointing to the other.

As I read both posts, I’m impressed with the support that Cal is providing for staff members in this. Lots of details, lots of screen captures. When I worked with a group of CAITs, we did this a lot and called them “One Sheet Wonders”. The rules were to make it clear, make it efficient, but keep it to one sheet of paper so that people are able to easily follow through the concepts.

In this case, Cal is showing readers how to connect resources using Microsoft’s Flow. I like his analogy to IFTTT which has been around and so functional for so many people. The comparison is immediately obvious.

Both examples were really easy to go through. The first one shows how to easily manage Microsoft Social-Emotional Check-In via Forms through to Excel and the second one features how to be smarter than Excel. (Cal’s words)

I know that many people are really handy with Forms. They’re probably equally as handy with Excel. The value from this post comes from showing how to connect the two, making you that much more efficient.

Crazy Hair Day

As a result of the COVID virus and the Learn at Home initiative, a lot of people are thinking about a lot of things that are happening and things that are hard to make happen. In this post, Arianna Lambert thinks about things that maybe shouldn’t be happening at all.

She got me thinking of my own high school. At Grade 12 graduation, I got a School Letter. In Grade 13, I got a Major School Letter. The “Letter” wasn’t actually a letter; it was actually a crest of the school mascot. At the time, the school mascot was a profile view of a character that we wouldn’t even consider these days. The school has since changed its mascot retiring this one. If only professional sports teams would follow the same lead. Getting a letter was important at the time. It was one of those institutional things that the school had always had. I can’t remember the numbers now but if you joined X number of clubs, Y number of sports, or Z number of honours, you got a badge. Get enough badges and you were eligible for a letter.

In her post, Arianna Lambert identifies things that are common to many schools in a way to encourage spirit. She shares a story of a little girl who felt the activity made it hard to participate in. Of course, nobody asks students how they feel about the activity. It is just assumed that what was done in the past is good going forward.

Now on the other side of the desk, she’s asking good questions that the institution and those that support it need to consider and possibly act on. If there is no good and equitable way to make it work for all, why perpetuate it?

I really enjoy sharing my thoughts about the great posting from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can take some time to click through and enjoy the original posts.

Then, follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Larissa Aradj – @MrsGeekChic
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Judy Richards – @redknine
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Arianna Lambert – @MsALambert

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If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

What a school year! Congratulations to everyone for making it through one series of challenges after another. A special congratulations to those people who will be turning in their keys for the last time today. Enjoy the start to your vacation.

Don’t forget to enjoy the thinking from this collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

Move to Online Learning: 12 Key Ideas

Here is a reflection collection and sharing about moving from face to face to online learning from Dave Cormier. I suppose now it’s a now bit of a reflection for every educator but this should also serve as a starting point for thinking about September. Dave identifies and elaborates on a dozen ideas.

  • Moving to teaching on the internet is not a technology problem (unless you make it one)
  • Moving to the internet is about understanding information abundance
  • Complicated vs. complex concepts on the internet
  • Learning to evaluate good/bad information on the internet is a core skill in any field.
  • Pedagogies of care (for students and teachers)
  • Think of ‘content’ as ‘teacher presence’
  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it equitable and accessible
  • Keep it engaging
  • Design activities for what the web can do for you.
  • Gather resources together… together
  • Last note: If you’re helping someone else

Inspirational and insightful are two words that come to mind as I read and thought about this post.

Using Post -it Notes for Memorable Moments not Mistakes

One of the steps of the report card production process is the proofreading of the documents by principal and vice-principal. I always thought of it as drudgery and yet it is a necessary task in order to send the best messages home to parents. It also gives the principal and vice-principal an opportunity to learn insights about the students in their school that they might otherwise miss.

There’s nothing worse than working for hours and hours on a report card only to have it returned to you with all kinds of errors found. So, teachers do spend considerable time making it the best that it can be.

Sue Bruyns shares her process of doing report cards for the end of the year and her tools include post-it notes!

This year’s work had her noticing that the teachers were submitting reports that we pretty well written and she noticed various things about the comments that were given to the students.

Click through and find how she was pleased with what she read.

Virtual Visits

From Diana Maliszewski, a warming story of visiting with a distant sister and a mother. Of course, visiting these days can take on different modes and this was no different.

A video visit for 2.5 hours! Wow. She’s got more stick-to-it-ive-ness than I have and I’m sure that it was appreciated all around. To make it go well, she had dropped off some cookies in advance. During the Wednesday morning voicEd radio show, I recognized the cookies immediately but couldn’t name them. Fortunately, Diana let me know afterwards they were Peak Freens.

The big takeaway are the three tips that she shares for a successful visit. To the naive, it could be just talking to the camera of the device in front of you. For real success though, consider…

  • Prepare people
  • Practice presenting
  • Don’t do it alone

What’s the Point of Being a Leader?

When I saw the title of this post from Sue Dunlop, I had a pre-conceived notion of what it might be. I was completely wrong after taking a long read.

 I might be feeling complacent about my privileged life and then a check comes to my thinking. It can be small – a friend challenges me on what I wrote in a blog post; or it can be monstrous – a racist murder spurs a cataclysm

Of course, the message is appropriate given what’s happening to the south of us and here at home.

The notion of systemic racism is easily recognized from the outside looking in. It’s far easier to criticize others. But true leadership includes the ability to look inward and see what’s happening within your own system.

Recent events have reinforced the importance of this. I think all should read Sue’s post for her wisdom and then turn your gaze toward yourself and your system.

That’s where true change in your world will happen.

The Long Spring: Humidity and Humility

Heather Swail has been documenting some of the events in her last year of teaching. To say that this is how anyone wants to end a professional life would just be so wrong.

Yet, good teachers have persevered and Heather is no exception. The coup de grâce in any career is cleaning out your workspace and handing in your key.

I supposed in the business environment, you borrow the company shredder and put it beside your desk/filing cabinet and run things through there.

Heather’s story tells us so much about how education is different from business!

Onto the ancient “craft and game cupboard”. Good God. I should have had a tetanus shot. Rusty compasses. Plasticene, sweating in the heat, dating back to Roman times, broken pencils and Scrabble tiles everywhere. 

Despite the heat, this cleaning task was done and she’s ready for her next challenge. This time, it’s virtually climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Spring Math

This was an interesting post from Deanna McLennan. It was actually written before the stay at home orders.

At the post, she’s writing about wondering when classes would resume, how long the stay away would be, how personal plans had been changed and more.

What she did leave for anyone who happened to drop by her blog were ideas for mathematics in the kindergarten classroom. She called it “Spring Math” but certainly the ideas and concepts of the 21 examples given are appropriate at any time.

Maybe the fall?

Bookmark this one.

COVID Journal # 5 Breaking up is hard to do

This post from Paul McGuire is an interesting turn of thinking. It’s easy to write about the power of the PLN, how you need to get connections, how you leverage the power of others to your professional advantage.

This post isn’t about that.

What happens when that network falls apart or otherwise isn’t providing the support that you need?

There may be many reasons why things change; I think that we know that. We also know that effective participation in any community requires effort and commitment. There may well come the time that leaving that community is the best move. In this post, Paul describes two cases where he’s taken that tact.

I’ve gone through that personally and I don’t think I could express the sentiment better than Paul does.

Sometimes, you just have to cut loose those things that are dragging you down.

It’s been another terrific week of reflecting on the writings of Ontario Edubloggers for me. I’m so happy to be able to pass them along and hope that you click through and enjoy the writings as much as I did.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter…

  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Sue Dunlop – @DunlopSue
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp

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If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

What a week! It was so warm hot here. I guess that I can’t complain too loudly though. The Sun Parlor was not the hottest place in the province. It looks like it’s going to get cooler for the weekend. Isn’t that doing things backwards?

Read on to enjoy some of the recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Simple Steps to Reopen Schools

This post comes from the mindfulness side of the Stillnesshub blog and written by Safina Hirji.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently about how to re-open schools. They’re typically full of ideas about the mechanical and logistical side of things. All of that is really important for safety and I’ll admit to reading many of them.

This post takes a different tact though.

It focuses on students. What a concept! But, it’s not the sort of thing dealing with assessment and evaluation, content, and other teacher things. True to the theme, Safina deals with student mindfulness. She touches on four areas.

  • Mental Health and Well-Being through Mindfulness
  • Individualized Learning Opportunities
  • Mindfulness with acquiring knowledge and building skills
  • Accessing the right Tech Tools for Collaborative, Synchronous Learning

It’s a good read and a powerful reminder that opening schools is more than unlocking doors.

How Not to Start Math Class in the Fall – 2020

Mark Chubb’s post is a nice followup to Safina’s. Like her post, he’s got a great deal of concern for the student and their re-introduction to school, specifically for mathematics.

I suspect that most teachers go through a process of pre-testing to assess strengths, weaknesses, and current levels of understanding in the first part of a mathematics class.

But this is not a regular year, whatever that is. We know that things have been less, far less, than idea over the past while. Then, add two months for summer holiday.

Mark takes these notions and expands with recommendations about just how to start and a list of things to reflect on.

We’re still an unknown period of time away from knowing when and how things will open but there’s some great inspiration here to get things going in the back of your mind at least.

The Way I Felt

Amanda Potts says she “hate the poem I wrote” and that’s a shame because it’s a very power piece of media.

Inspired by the recent announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of spring, her first reaction was that the air had been sucked out of the room.

I’m not a big poetry critic but I really felt that she laid her teaching soul bare with her thoughts and I’ll bet that you’d feel the same way.

It starts…

No more waiting
for people who don’t know me
to make a decision about
my life
my family’s life
my students’ lives
my community’s lives.


From the Our Dad’s Shoes blog devoted to issues about Fathers and Fatherhood comes this post, from Will Gourley. It is actually a post he’d written in the past and brought forward at this time. It fits nicely into the theme.

He discusses four attributes of fathers:

  • Consistent
  • Fair
  • Honest
  • Protective

and does a great job about it and offering a tribute to his father.

There is a natural connection to teaching because, as we all acknowledge, our first teachers were our parents.

My List Of 10 Self-Reg Things That I’ve Learned

From the Self-Regulation blog, Aviva shares a list of things that she’s learned about self-regulation and herself at these trying times.

  • Exercise
  • Breaks
  • Fidget toy 
  • Too much social media
  • OK to put yourself first
  • Social stressors are online
  • Why and why now?
  • Stress behaviours multiply online
  • Saying hello
  • Importance of routine

Aviva joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs, did a nice job and got a chance to elaborate. There were three of these topics that I singled out to hear her speak about, in addition to writing about it.

Fidget Toy – she sees a need for one of these in her future as she hesitates to jump into discussions with students. I had to smile, I play with my mouse when I’m listening to others

Social stressors are online – we all know about the stresses due to social media but what about the social interaction that goes on in the online classroom. When to jump in, when to lay back, …

Saying hello – Aviva notes that it’s OK for some students to jump into a class and not necessarily be active for the entire session. It’s OK just to say hello and sit back and watch. Just being there can be enough at times

Good Coffee Activity

From the STAO blog, this is a really interesting resource unit.

Who doesn’t get up and get a daily charge with coffee?

This is a free to download secondary school curriculum complete with the expectations that can be addressed with its use.

Pandemic Reflections: Surrender as a Survival Technique

I know that Tim King speaks for thousands of teachers in this particular post. He lashes out at many things, many people that are players in this “absolutely terrible school year.”

I like the success story that he shares (and had pictures on Facebook documenting it) when he and family were allowed into the school to put together some computers for colleagues.

I can understand his feeling of exhaustion but was taken aback when he indicated that he was feeling defeated. I’ve never heard that from him. Then I look at my own household. My wife is delighted when she needs to leave the place to address some essential service in town.

There are so many lessons to be learned from those on the front lines during this time. As Tim notes, our leaders had assumptions about the readiness for a shift in teaching and it’s been proven wrong over and over again.

For me, the low point of all this was the political statement about expecting teachers and students to be regularly engaged in synchronous communications. For that to work, so many assumptions had to be made. I know that many teachers have tried and some have been successful but I suspect they would have been successful without the directive anyway.

Please click through and enjoy these posts in their entirety. There’s so much great thinking.

Then, make sure that you’re following these folks on Twitter.

  • Safina Hirji – @SafinaHirji
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – staoapso
  • Tim King – @tk1ng

This post originated on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And just like that, it’s another Friday. I hope that this post finds you, family, and friends healthy and ready for some great reading from Ontario Edubloggers.

A New Appreciation

Sue Bruyns is just steaming ahead with her goal of writing daily for the month of May. This post caught my eye because she made reference to a post that I had written for a Sunday “Whatever happened to …” post as she was inspired to blog about drive-in theatres. I’m humbled that she remembered the post from two years ago.

Drive-in theatres make a great deal sense as a way to provide entertainment and yet still maintain social distancing. After all, you’re in your car and only exposed to those who are with you. What was nice to me, in reading this post, is to see Sue be retrospective to drive-in theatres from the London area. I remember them as well as the one near Grand Bend that see alludes to.

Of course, the technology has moved on from VCR to DVD to pay per view to streaming … but there was still something special about going to the drive-in. Ramona Meharg joined the social media conversation as she grew up in the same area. That led to some interesting reminiscing back and forth.

Like any outings will be though, the elephant in the room will be what to do when nature calls. As long as you have an empty tub of popcorn, guys won’t be too hard pushed but Sheila Stewart sealed the conversation with an exclamation point and a costly option.

Then came this – Yankee Stadium Will Turn Into A Giant Drive-In Movie Theater And Concert Venue This Summer

I started thinking – typically schools have one side (usually the gym) which is just a big brick wall and a big parking lot. Could the concept be replicated locally?

Moving Forward With Grace

Beth Lyons is looking like a genius by not selecting a single word for 2020 but allowing herself to choose a word per month.

For this month, she has chosen the word “Grace”. What a lovely word. And it’s so incredibly important for the way that she’s thinking and it might be appropriate for you as well.

Read her post to think of all the ways that she’s thinking of “Grace” and how it is important to her right now.

What is meaningful work?

This is a good question. Students wonder about it all the time. Teachers should wonder as well.

In fact, I suspect that we all wondered when, as students, something would be placed on the blackboard for us to do.

So, he posted this as a question for his students in their learning management system and shortly received 21 answers.

As a teacher though, wouldn’t you like to think that anything you’ve taken time to have planned, decided what expectations it addresses, and the be prepared to allocated your precious resource of time towards assessing it, is meaningful?

To help determine this, you might want to ponder this…

“Work that overlaps with real life skills by putting on individual talents and interests”


This is a new project from Chris Cluff

Ramona Meharg wrote a piece for the blog talking about her father. If you’re like me, you might get a bit emotional reading this.

Ramona shares a delightful and warm blog post as a tribute to her dad who she still gets to golf with.

During his work years, he put in hard labour and Ramona has memories of it and the smells associated with it. This is a truly personal and emotional post.

COVID-19 & Education: Part 13

In the seemingly never-ending blog post series by Shelly Vohra, Part 13 lets her take the time to think about what the future of education looks like. She addresses five things in this post.

  • Wellness / Social and emotional learning
  • Personalized learning
  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Conferences
  • Teacher professional learning

She addresses each of the topics thoughtfully.

It’s the last two that I think need special attention at this time. It’s during conferences and professional learning opportunities that all else can be addressed.

When I was president of ECOO, I introduced the concept of the #ECOOcamp. We know that the big conference can be a challenge for some people in terms of release time and costs. Our concept was to offer the same sort of experience on a smaller, local basis. Unlike an EdCamp which can be a hit or miss proposition, the #ECOOcamp had a defined schedule with topics so that you knew what to expect when you devoted a day (we chose a Saturday) to the event. We had a successful event the first year in Owen Sound, and it was repeated a second year there and expanded to include another event in Peterborough. The current leadership of ECOO showed no interest that I could see in continuing this year and, of course, now that we’re all bottled up, travel just isn’t possible.

But great minds should be able to come up with all kinds of alternatives. We certainly have a province of people becoming familiar with the concept of presenting/teaching online! OAME has already done a virtual conference. Connect 2020 is offering its conference online. I’ve registered for that.

It’s time for all subject association and school districts to come forward with an explicit description about what value they assign to their conferences and their support of professional learning for their members.

As if I wasn’t editorializing enough, I find it frustrating to watch colleagues throughout the province trying to work with different learning management systems. Why wasn’t the Ministry tasked to license a common platform so that everyone could learn and grow in the same space?

</rant> Shelly promises to develop her thoughts on these topics as she continues to share her thinking. I look forward to them.

The Long Spring: (1) Blank verse
The Long Spring: (2) Teens on screens/Co-VOID -19

Heather Swail writes a pair of posts on a theme that everyone is experiencing right now; I’d never thought of the term “The Long Spring” but it is so, so appropriate.

During this Long Spring, Heather is spending it with teenagers. You know, those “Digital Natives” that take to technology like ducks to water because they grew up with it. It’s us old people that have challenges because we immigrated to this environment. I never agreed with Prensky’s model – then or now.

Yes, these natives may know how to use technology but education is more than just using technology and Heather shares her observations in this pair of posts.

Fluency is in short supply and fancy is in quarantine. All my energy goes to the screen. The Silver Screen? The Silent Screen. Like everyone else, I am trying to find a way to make virtual personal, and engage across spaces that are physical, emotional and existential. By 4 pm, I do not want to even see a screen door. I do not want to see my phone. I do not want to write.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned with teens on screens (and middle-age teachers on screens):

Leave your Doritos and trail mix (at home?): crunching on an open mic is really loud and distracting

Watch your mic: whispering loudly to your hovering mom that “this sucks, how long do I have to stay on?” when your mic is on – not great for your teachers’ self-esteem

And that’s just the start. Click through and read the rest. As teachers, we all observe what’s going on. I love Heather’s observations. It also makes me a little more thoughtful when I have my Friday afternoon Zoom Beer with friends.

Students, a Zoom Session – and Loss

If you think Zoom teaching is all pyjamas, coffee, little windows, digital assignments, digital marking, and then call it a day, you’re not paying attention.

I’ve had friends share with me the challenges that they’re experiencing every day. It’s not going well for everyone despite the success stories that we’re hearing all over the place. I wonder if all this glad-handing isn’t being interpreted by some as confirmation that online courses are a good thing for everyone.

Learning is damn hard; learning online is even harder.

I have to give a shout out to Chris Vollum for putting this story out there for all to read. And, I hope all those who think that everything is just rosey takes the time to read and empathise.

Chris describes a Zoom session that started out like so many and maybe even threw in some extra goodies for the whole experience.

Then, for one young lady things went wrong, terribly wrong.

Read the post and see how Chris arrives at the conclusion

Thirty students from different schools with all grades represented taught me – and each other – a great deal; that there is no substitute for human connection. And that the new normal is a massive adjustment that swings opposite to every instinct we have about the innate need to connect, in-person with one another.

Please take some time today or on the weekend to click through and read these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, make sure you’re following these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @suebruyns
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Ramona Meharg – @ramonameharg
  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Chris Vollum – @cmvsocialmedia

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