This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday.  Check out some great articles from Ontario Edubloggers.

Tweeting as an Organization

I think I’ve been insulted by this post from Royan Lee.

I’m part of the group that he calls an “underground party of misfits”.  Well, maybe it’s a badge of honour instead of an insult?  I can remember fighting to get Twitter unblocked; I can remember trying to get people see the value of connecting and learning on Twitter.  I probably failed more than succeeded at the time.  I’ll bet there are lots of dormant accounts.  In a technology world, we expect to get immediate gratification.  I’m sure that not all people “got it” at the time.  Success only comes when you work it.

As Royan correctly continues, things have certainly changed over the years.  I have to smile when I see people who “don’t want to see a picture of what you had for lunch” now becoming active.  What does it mean as an organization though?  Used properly, I think that it is absolutely the sign of an organization that is growing and learning together.  But, to be effective, it has to be more than just retweeting thoughts of others.  Are members also reflecting and creating new knowledge?  Are they sharing their professional reading and learning as a result?  Are they recognizing the best practices?  Are they promoting the great things that their colleagues are doing?

We Just Clicked

And, if you want to see it in action, check out this post from Diana Maliszewski.

I’ve mentioned so many times about how it can be lonely within a school.  Going outside the physical walls, using social media and the power of its connections, can result in amazing things.

You’ve got to check out this post – complete with a collection of Twitter messages to validate her message – and use it to convince anyone who questions the value of being connected.  When you make stellar connections like this, there’s no stopping you.

Diana definitely reinforces the message that you don’t need to learn alone.

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

Maybe this is the place to start.  Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a blueprint for success that begins at the humble staff meeting.

How many of these will you suffer your way through during your career?  This is a plan for engagement of staff who perhaps expected another sit and git and listen to the reading of recent memos.

Could it change the culture in your school?

Could it model what could be done if you decided to bring the concept into your own classroom?

Could it be a lesson for a principal’s course?

Conversations about parent-teacher interviews

It really is the season.

Here, Sheila Stewart pulls together older blog posts from Nancy Angevine-Sands, Rusul Alrubail, and me about our thoughts on parent-teacher interviews.  There were some interesting points about the process.  It might serve well as an inspiration or refresher before the next event.  Most teachers are getting ready for them over the next few weeks in the province.

Design Process Thinking: Mind Mapping

I’m a big fan of Mind Mapping.  I’ve used many mind mapping tools over the years and have had a lot of favourites.  Maybe it’s the fact that I learned how to program and document coding with flowcharts but the essence of what can be done is so powerful.  Consequently, I really enjoyed this post from Colleen Rose.

What was so powerful about this post, after setting the context, was Colleen sharing some of the mind maps that her students created and then reflected on each.

These show real evidence of complex thinking and connections.  Check them out.

Analyzing a Bike Rim in 5 Days

Alex Overwijk is on a mission to bring the practical and just plain fun and engaging activity into his MHF course.  It involved a trip to the local bicycle store for manipulatives and he effectively set the table for the students to “discover and experience more of the Trigonometry in the course”.

My original intent for this activity was to redo the radian plate activity and the radian war activity from this site. This is where I have grown. I am thinking what else can I do with this (thank you #MTBOS for #WCYDWT) This post reflects my creative juices in squeezing curriculum out of an activity. Hope you enjoyed. Honestly – this activity feels like what I envisioned for a spiraled course and wrote about back in 2013. #makeitstick #spiraling #activitybasedlearning #interleaving

The post is, in effect, a very complete lesson plan for the activity.  It can’t help but be a great deal of fun and learning for the students.

Why 50?

Have you ever wondered why the Bring IT, Together conference has 50 minute sessions?  Read this post to find out.

How’s that for a start to your Friday morning.  Great posts and ideas from Ontario Edubloggers.  Please click through and read the entire posts.

Have a great weekend.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday, everyone.  I hope that today finds you in great shape with your classes after this short week.

Continue this happiness with some great blog reading from Ontario Edubloggers.


I was intrigued by just the title of this post from Rusul Alrubail.

Then, I had to check to see if I was on the right site.  This wasn’t written by her!  In fact, it was an introduction to a podcast interview between Rusul and Rolland Chidiac.

Once I got my head around this, I listened to this 45 minute interview.

It was indeed very interesting and I learned so much more about both Rusul and Rolland.

How Learning To “Get Down” Changed Things For Me!

Aviva Dunsiger wrote another wonderful post that was really a narrative and then a reflection on a real life experience for her.  The whole post is worth reading twice.  Once to understand the situation that Aviva describes.  Then, take a second read and inject yourself into the situation.

Would you be asking yourself the same questions that Aviva asked herself?

Would I have focused on punishment instead of focusing on solving the problem? Would I have seen this behaviour as “misbehaviour” versus “stress behaviour,” and would this perception have changed my actions? 

Riding Around Town

How can you not like a post that includes the words “I have a wonderful job”!  Sue Dunlop rang the bell with those words recently.

She tied her thoughts into International Walk (or Roll) to School Day.  I didn’t know one existed.  I certainly could never have biked to the locations that I needed to be at, for the most part.  But I suppose there were a few.

But, I’ve got to tell you — I had this vision of her flying down the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton.  My geographic knowledge of Hamilton isn’t all that good.  Would that area be classified as downtown?

Teaching cell phone photography

The title to this post from Brandon Grasley is almost as long as the post itself!  But, it’s well worth the read because there’s a link to his digital photography handout.

Race to Nowhere

While we’re on the topic of short posts, check out Royan Lee’s latest.

I watched Race to Nowhere with some friends. Here’s a little doodle about it.

I hope that you’re curious enough to click through and see his little doodle.


We’re getting closer to the US Election.  But, more importantly, we’re getting closer to the Bring IT, Together Conference.  In this recent post, Peter McAsh gives us a lay of the land for the sessions on Thursday and Friday.

There are really three things to fill your calendar.


  • the sessions
  • the keynote addresses AND
  • the social events on Thursday evening

Don’t plan to do anything else; make sure that you’re registered for everything!

Hopefully, you’ll find as much enjoyment in these posts as I did when I read them.  Please drop by and leave these wonderful bloggers a comment or two.

Then, check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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

Growing Pains

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

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

Higher Education is Pushing More Professors into Poverty

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Current on Homework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change takes time and care

The title here from Melanie White says it all.

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

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

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

Engagement in Professional Learning

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

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

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

Whoo hoo! BreakOutEDU is coming to #BIT16

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

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

Then, get your registration in.

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


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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

Teaching as a creative act

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

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

Teaching is a Creative Act

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

I had to smile at this paragraph in his post.

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

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

Blog Challenge: Teaching as a Creative Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing Interests to Prompt Self-directed Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Interview with Matthew Oldridge

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

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

All my interviews can be found here.

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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


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

Will I see you there?

My Phone

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

As Royan notes,

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

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

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

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

How did I live before this?

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

Cover Artists

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

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

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

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

What is a Mindset, more specifically, a Growth Mindset

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

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

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

Teaching Hub: Post Two, Week One

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

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

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


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

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

Of course, there are varying levels to consider.

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

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

Teacher Learning and Leadership Program Project – Part 1

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time, again, to take a look at the roundup of blogs and content that I enjoyed this past week contributed by Ontario Edubloggers.  Please follow along and see the thoughts/insights from these folks.

Remembering Seymour Papert in Ontario Education

I like to toss in Peter Skillen’s direction some of the superficial references to Seymour Papert’s work that are so often referenced and increasingly used to indicate why students need to code.  I guess it’s our society of 140 characters and sound bits that generate it but it really does a disservice to the amazing work of one of the owner of shoulders that we should all be standing on.

In this post, Peter reflects on some of the time that he spend with Dr. Papert and how Peter sees his influence on Ontario education.  I think that it’s a worthy inclusion to your reading.

Peter and I have been bantering back and forth about the opportunity to recognize Dr. Papert’s influence at the Bring IT, Together conference in November.  I hope that we can put together something appropriate to celebrate one of the great minds in education.

It’s not about the Tech…..

With apologies to Jonathan So, I really hate it when this is used as a title or in most references.  

The inspiration for his post came from a podcast and, in particular,

There was a line that I heard in the post that I just hit a big aha moment. Peter mentioned that the OTF Summer conference was titled “Pedagogy before Technology” and that he wasn’t fond of the title but that it was something that was current in education.

I think that, even the discussion, demeans the efforts of educators who are doing the best they can.  I keep thinking of a quote from Wayne Hulley “Nobody wakes up wondering how they’re going to screw up today”.

I think the last quote from Jonathan sums it up nicely…

I know that as teachers we also need time to learn new tools and how they work but first and foremost we need to understand what their purpose is and why we would be using them in the classroom. Love to hear your thoughts on this and if you haven’t heard it already listen to Rolland’s podcast some fantastic educators on there.

It’s a chicken and egg thing but has any other tool in technology been so scrutinized and criticized?  If you search history, there was a huge concern that ball point pens were just the “beginning of the end”.  Some teachers are new to effectively using technology and they need to be supported in their endeavours.  Those that have used it should be those who are supportive with examples and ideas.

Curriculum consultants and district leaders should constantly be providing learning opportunities for staff to learn no matter where they are in their learning.  If they’re not, well … you get what you get.

Education has toyed with the concept of Programmed Instruction, abandoned it, and moved on.  I just wish that the conversation would as well.

TELL 2016

Mark Renaud attended the Technology-Enabled Learning & Leading Institute 2016 this summer along with about 1000 of his closest colleagues.

In this post, he shares his highlights from conference.

It’s interesting to read his observations and hopefully further blog posts will give us an idea as to how they’ve made an impact in his school and to his leadership style.

There are lots of links to slidedecks from some of the presenters at the TVO website.  There’s much Google stuff there, most of the sessions are tagged “Beginner” and kudos to the presenters from my former board.

Collaborating with Colleagues using OneNote Staff Notebook

What about boards that have used Microsoft Office 365 instead of going the Google route though?

Andre Quaglia recently added his blog to the Ontario Edubloggers collection and I went back to a post of his from February.

I recently discovered the advantages of using OneNote Staff Notebooks as a collaborative tool to keep the momentum of conversations flowing after department meetings with teaching colleagues.

In the post, he shares three examples of using OneNote Staff Notebooks.

  • Creating an inventory of instructional technology
  • Verifying class textbook and planning
  • Discussion about how to allocate new classroom workspace


One of the great things about blogging is that you can be or create anything you want.

In this post, Joan Vinall Cox shares a short poem about “Time”.

It’s a reminder to all of us that we’re getting older.


My classroom was probably the least desirable room in the school.  I don’t know whether it was the block design or the fact that we were air conditioned but there were a few rooms that had no outside windows.  I had one of them.

So, I can’t really empathise with Ashley Soltesz’ first day of school.

It’s actually distractions rather than squirrels that form the basis of the post.  We all have them.

She does end with a question that we all have – how do you handle distractions?

The question is not, “how best to teach mathematics?” The question, educator, is “how best for YOU to teach mathematics?”

After the title, the rest of Matthew Oldridge’s post is pretty much redundant!  When you’ve taken as many courses in mathematics as I have, you’d like to think that you’ve seen it all.

I’ve been drilled, investigated, explored, charted, drawn, programming, puzzled, heard mathematics jokes, …

Unfortunately, for most teachers, their last formal kick at mathematics would have been at a Faculty of Education which has to include that in amongst everything else for some teachers or focus on the teaching of difficult mathematics for those who would aspire to be secondary school specialists.

So, it comes as no surprise that some folks think that they have to chalk and talk in order to get their dollar and a quarter for the day.  Fortunately, we’re having the discussion about teaching and I really enjoyed the approach in Matthew’s post.  In true mathematics tradition, he illustrates with a chart…

I think that it’s a good read and anyone who will be teaching mathematics, at whatever level, would be well advised to read and consider their approach.  And, question when you’re advised to embrace “high impact strategies”.  To be sure, they can be good research, but don’t necessarily address your skill set or the learning needs of your students.

It’s absolutely another great week of reading.   Thanks to all the bloggers who contributed to my learning.  Please take a moment and drop by their posts (I’ve given you the links so it’s easy) and extend their conversations.  If you’re a blogger yourself, do what Andre did, and add yourself to the list.  I’d really like to have you included.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been another great week of reading blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  Some of what I caught appears below.

Please take a moment to click through and read their complete thoughts.

My New Work Flow

David Fife made sure that I didn’t miss this post from Jennifer Aston.  Jennifer and I had actually exchanged some thoughts about the topics she blogged about so it was like another deja vu to see it in that format.  But, the nice thing about blogging is that you get to see the thoughts completely in context.

If you read the post in its entirety, there is a great deal to be learned.

  • when you move your files and data to the cloud, “who” really owns it?
  • a decision made by the folks at the board office, or what was referred to with my former employer, “downtown” can have cascading effects throughout the district
  • related to that, it’s fair to ask “Is there a master plan?”
  • if you live by the cloud, you can die (or at least get a bit injured) by the cloud
  • YOU need to be in charge of everything or there are consequences
  • Linux isn’t a four letter word and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your computer
  • it’s nice to have a cadre of people that you can ask when these questions arise

There’s another one that I think that all educators need to consider.

When your students “check out” at Grade 6 or 8 or 12 or whenever, do you provide a mechanism for them to check out their work as well?

Literacy Tests: Not Just Kids’ Stuff

When I first read the title of Stephen Hurley’s post, I got myself ready for another rant and rationale to ditch standardized testing.

So, I felt like the victim of a bait and switch when I read the post.

He draws an interesting parallel between the literacy tests that we subject students to and the wedding speeches that so many of us have had to give.

So here’s to all of you who have been asked to give a speech or a toast at a wedding this summer. Embrace the opportunity, embrace the anxiety and remember—literacy tests are not just for kids. Whether we realize it or not, they are part of all of our lives—for the rest of our lives!

It’s a fun read and yet makes so many sense.

With the exception, of course, that students don’t go and do shots when the testing is over!

Advice for New Teachers

Who knows how many new teachers will be entering classrooms for the first time this fall?  Or how many people are making a career change by moving from one school to another.  Even that can be a culture change.  Matthew Oldridge has a wonderful post just full of advice.

He concludes with:

The post is full of good advice.


Well, maybe there will be a followup post about Parent/Teacher nights.

Coding in French

Larissa Aradj shares to her blog, a guest post from French teacher Ashley Soltesz, and an interesting take on teaching coding in French.

As noted, French teachers don’t always have access to the same collection of resources as the regular classroom teacher but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t find a way to make it happen.  In this case, it was to create Coding Blocks in the French language and allow students to create projects without the benefit of a computer.

What’s not to like?  It gets rid of one more excuse.

You don’t have to start from scratch.  <groan>  Check out the resources in this shared folder.

It IS about the Tools!

Opening Up My Technology Can Of Worms

I’m going to clump Peter Skillen and Aviva Dunsiger’s posts together here.

I’m not neutral on this topic.

It’s Not About the Technology

It Better Be About The Technology

and a bunch of others.  It’s a regular theme around here.   I still love this graphic.

I deliberately chose the word “neutral” above because I believe that the use of technology is not a neutral activity.

I touch technology every day.  It touches me every day.  I can only remember one moment where I wanted to scream and it was at one of those PD sessions that you’re forced to attend.  Normally, that doesn’t bother me but the presenter started out by asking, no demanding, that people turn off their technology so that we could listen to her.  Then, having shut that door for me, she went on to ramble about learning styles or something.

Technology isn’t neutral.

  • In the hands of a master teacher, you can have students create, explore, and do things that aren’t possible in any other way.  This is where the magic lies.
  • In the hands of a teacher that uses it for some menial task, it turns off students from even trying.
  • If it’s never used by a teacher, it’s just opportunity lost.

We lost one of the great Edtech minds this past week in Seymour Papert.  There was no bigger advocate for the technology using student.  By inheritance, we include the technology using teacher.  It’s 2016 – we shouldn’t have “computer teachers” – that belongs to our past where we had limited access to technology and an entire profession that was learning.  Those excuses just don’t cut it today.

Never has the profession had so many great things happening and discerning teachers using technology to its greatest ability.

An interview with Michelle Cordy

I’m going to call my own number here.

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Michelle Cordy who delivered the closing keynote at the recent ISTE Conference.

Of course, I had to wait for her to return from a trip to Berlin to get things together but it did come together nicely.

We chatted about teaching different grades, research, 1:1 iPads, delivering the closing keynote at the ISTE Conference, and much more.  She gives a shout out to her five biggest influencers.  I think it’s a great read and I hope that you take the time to do so.

Thanks to all of the above for continuing to provide great thoughts for educators.  Drop by each blog for the complete content and leave a comment of your own if you’re so inclined.  They’ll appreciate it.