This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week’s voicEd Radio show featured Pav Wander and Chey Cheney as guest hosts. They inspired some great conversations and we went well over the hour time limit. If it didn’t all get played live, it is available for playback as a podcast – link below.


Tightrope

Chey and Pav have a rather unique blog. Yes, we’ve looked at a couple of their blog posts in the past but generally, they don’t write the posts themselves.

Instead, they open the blog to anyone who was inspired by their podcasts to share their feelings via a post. As noted on the show and a few times, there is no gatekeeper and so they welcome friendly replies and those from others who challenge them.

In Episode 90 of The Staff Room Podcast, they talked about dealing with the topic of racism and oppression with students. The timing of the podcast was important as it was near the end of the school year and they were reflecting on incidents that had happened in Ontario at the time.

In response to the post, Manuel Garcés Jr. wrote a response. But it was no normal response; in this case he responded with a poem that forces you to slow down to read and interpret its meaning.


Strum Into Song

Earlier this week, Noa Daniel sent me a link to a YouTube video. Now, we all know and love Noa but my first reaction with any link sent to me – I check it out very carefully to make sure that it’s not a scam. It wasn’t.

Instead, it was a video that was crafted to support her recent book publication.

Around here, it was an instant ear worm.

In the post, Noa shares with us how the video came from an idea to the final product. I was impressed with the connections and how her community came together to make it happen. It’s a great read.

In addition to the story and the video, Noa shares with the community access to a mailing list where ideas for using the book and video will be distributed. If you’re a musician yourself, there’s also a link to the sheet music so that you play it yourself.

As Pav said on the radio show, this blog post reads like it is the liner notes to the song.


How I Approach the First Days and Weeks of School

Yeah, it’s closing in on that time of year. Many people are putting together their plans for the opening of school and Shawna Rothgeb-Bird shares her thoughts and idea for her French Immersion classroom.

I would suspect that everyone will be subjected to rules and criteria for what can happen so these plans may change as September draws closer. It’s an interesting read. As a secondary school teacher, I didn’t have the same type of schedule so I was really interested in the power of her approach to unstructured outdoor play.

I was reminded of this Yogi Berra quote.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Shawna explains what’s she’s observing a watching outside.

  • Who already has a social group?
  • Who doesn’t seem to have many connections in the class?
  • What kinds of activities do they choose?
  • Who prefers to hang out with me and chat?
  • Who ignores all of the equipment and opts to sit down and read, walk and talk, etc. instead?

Timing, Tracking, and Tiring

In typical Diana Maliszewski fashion, this weekly post from her is complex and touches on a number of issues.

Her commitment to the teacher-librarian community is evident in the learning opportunities that she’s affording educators this summer. She’s involved in two learning events.

  • ETFO Academy “SA-04-22 SEEING AND SUPPORTING STUDENT GROWTH: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION”
  • Queen’s University Teacher-Librarianship Part 1 AQ
  • and she’s agreed to run another late summer one as well

There’s also a section in her about her caring for herself with physical fitness. Like most people, she’s been challenged by the inability to get to her gym and so shares a long story about that. I suspect that she’s writing for many people with the same perspective.


Quilting and Math

When my wife and I were first going out, it was very common to go into her family’s rec room where her mother would have a quilt on the go. It took up most of the room but it was worth it. The efforts, as it was all done by hand, were terrific. There typically was a solid back and then patchwork on the front gathered from scraps of materials.

As a mathematics nerd, I’d look for patterns in the quilt and often would see them. All of us were gifted with one of these hand made treasures at one point.

If you drive in Kent County, there’s another chance to appreciate the artwork in quilts along the Barn Quilt Trail. It’s an interesting opportunity to drive along and be inspired by these pieces of art.

In this blog post, Terry Whitmell puts another interesting twist to the artistry that goes into quilting. She starts with the mathematics and products a quilt devoted to displaying the mathematics. The post is an interesting read of the process and also includes the use of an Excel worksheet.

The real beauty is that she shares some pictures of the final products. So, if you’re interested in seeing what the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence looks like as a quilt, click through and see.


SUMMER READING LIST FOR TEACHERS – E054

From the EduGals, Katie Attwell and Rachel Johnson, a podcast and a blog post of books that they’re reading and what they would recommend for other educators to read.

There are some familiar titles in the list and, for me, some new ones.

This is the sort of post to pass along to your school’s community or teacher-librarian to have included in the community’s professional resources.


The 500 – #359 – Honky Chateau – Elton John

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Elton John live in concert. But, my record collection certainly contains his content as well as my CD collection. It just sounds old typing that…

But, this album goes back to 1972. Wow.

It appears in the top 500 list of all time best albums that Marc Hodgkinson found and is now blogging his way through. This really was an awesome listening experience.

Thanks to YouTube, we can enjoy a couple of the songs from that album.

How many times have we seen Rocket Man used as a sound track in other media?


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these great blog posts. Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Chey Cheney – @mrccheney
  • Pav Wander@PavWander
  • Noa Daniel – @iamnoadaniel
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

The voicEd Radio show

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Melanie White joined Stephen Hurley and me on the radio show this week. It was a great opportunity for discussion and, just like her blogging, her thoughts had me thinking afterwards. That’s always a good thing.

Here are the blog posts that we chatted about on the show and a couple bonus ones.


Resonances #SOL2021

It was a week of vacation and then Melanie White and colleagues were back at it, lesson planning. This time, they’re working on a Grade 9 destreamed grade 9 English classes. I think we’re all aware of what’s going to happen with Grade 9 Mathematics and, if successful, the concept will probably extend to other subject areas and English certainly would be one of them. As I read this, I thought they were just getting ahead of the game.

Then, her discussion turned to music. I initially thought that was a strange twist until I realized that I’m listening to music as I type this. It’s how I work best so why not others. It resonated with Melanie:

To resonate is to vibrate, to reverberate, to carry across, to understand.

She closes with an interesting thought about the sounds of music and voice and how they resonate with her. I couldn’t have said it so eloquently and I think she totally nailed it. In the show, we touched on the difference between digital and everything else when it came to music.


The power in gathering 

I’ve heard and used the expression, “when you get the right people in the right place at the same time, amazing things happen”. I don’t know who to attribute it to but it rings so true to me.

For Ann Marie Luce, it started online with a group of “bad-ass women leaders striving to disrupt and change the landscape for other women leaders” and she describes the process that ended up in a face-to-face meeting.

Their focus?

  • Challenging the status quo
  • Making room at the table for other women 
  • Mentoring women of all ages
  • Empowering women 
  • Sponsoring women
  • Asking difficult questions
  • Getting uncomfortable 
  • Pushing limits, boundaries, and thinking
  • Wanting more and demanding more
  • Speaking up
  • Using our singular and collective voices. 
  • Gathering with other women in the community.
  • Journeying together
  • Being vulnerable 

It’s such a powerful list. The one that really struck me was about “gathering with other women in the community”. Years ago, through a partnership with IBM, we sponsored a “Women in Technology” program for Grade 7 and 8 girls. They were excused from their regular class to work with a group of women from the community. The product was to produce a webpage but the real magic happened just with the discussion amongst them with their mentor. My part was in the organizing and to bring the snacks. Then, I left. The feedback from teachers, mentors, and the students themselves was overly positive. I did have an inside to what was going on; my daughter a university student at the time, shared her experience. She felt it so overwhelmingly positive.

So yes, Ann Marie, continue to collect these bad-ass disruptors.


Decodable Texts and Other Reading Programs? What is the difference?

I learned so much from this post from Deborah McCallum. I think I knew much of the basic concepts going into the post but I’ve never taught in this area so it was really at a cursory level.

In the post, she explains how decodable texts work as well as leveled reading programs. Somehow, I guess, they were all tied together but it’s much deeper than that. I can understand now Reading is an additional qualifications course.

There are some links in the blog post to free decodable resources if you’re looking for them.

She had me thinking about my own process of learning how to read. I don’t recall any particular issues but I learned how to read better when I bought a book at Coles that taught me how to speed read. Deborah’s post had me smiling when I thought about this; I haven’t heard anyone talking about speed reading for years. Maybe it was just a fad that I jumped on at the time?

Melanie left this link in our show notes – it’s long but a good read – https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rrq.411


Le check-in: stratégie indispensable pour le leader

I’m not sure that I have much to add to this post from Joel McLean except that he absolutely nails it.

Personally, I had a supervisor who was absolutely terrific with this. We would meet as a group of people from our department and then he and I would meet one-to-one and discuss exactly what Joel outlines in the post.

  • What are your priorities this week?
  • In what ways can I help you?

I value those meetings. It was the first time that I felt that someone else was sincerely interested in what I was doing and that he had the power (and budget) to make it happen. This included sending me to leadership opportunities as well.

In his retirement, I still get together every now and again for a coffee and darn if he doesn’t include these questions as part of our discussion. It was a special bond that we have and I’ll be eternally grateful for it.


SUMMER PLANS: TRANSITIONING FROM WORK TO A VACATION MINDSET

Writing on the TESL Blog, Svjetlana Vrbanic offers some insights about how to get away from work and move to vacation.

In a regular world, it might be a great deal easier. After all, you see the school in your rear view mirror and head to the comfort of home. This past year has melded those two environments. People have purchased more technology and comfy workspaces for working at home and you can’t get away from them!

In the post, Svjetlana offers some suggestions for all to transition to vacation. It’s a good list and well worth the read.

Then, she shares with us a series of pledges to herself for how she’s going to handle her own vacation. This is a very personal post and yet I think she speaks for just about every educator in the province! They’re all in roughly the same boat at this time.


Ideas for the First Week of School

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, now that we’re into August, thoughts are or will be turning to the return to school. Of course, there are some schools with a different schedule who are already back at it.

I’ve heard rumours of the mindset that Jennifer talks about about “not smiling until Christmas”. I hope that it’s just that – a rumour.

Instead, she offers a better solution.

I have come to learn that serious learning can happen even if (or better if) you develop a positive relationship with your students instead.

So, how to you do that?

In the post, Jennifer offers seven suggestions and she’s looking for you to add to the list. I’d encourage it if you have some great ideas. Together, we’re better when we share.

If you’re not in the return to work mindset yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that, bookmark her post for inspiration once you’re there. It’s inevitable.


Comic Strips: Side effects

In addition to being an educator, Paul Gauchi is also a comic strip author.

I’m a fan of comic strips, particularly those that poke their finger at current events and politics. We do need more outrageous politicians this side of the border to help generate material though!

For July, Paul takes on vaccinations…


I hope that you can take a few moments and click through to read these terrific blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Deborah McCallum – @bigideasinedu
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This Week in Ontario Edublogs – August 4

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Elizabeth Lyons, president-elect of the Ontario School Librarians’ Association and co-host of the Read into This podcast was the guest host on the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. Besides a nice conversation, she was able to share a teacher-librarian perspective to the five blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that we featured on the show.


One Word. My Word.

We started the show by looking at Elizabeth’s personal blog. You’ll recall that instead of a #oneword for a year, she’s elected to choose one word per month. It’s interesting that others have agreed with her rationale for doing so and have followed her lead.

Except for June. She picked a word but didn’t share it with us or blog about it.

Moving to July … her word is “Listen”. Now, we’ve all heard this word used ad nauseum in education and I was kind of expecting a familiar spin to the use of the word.

Boy, was I wrong.

She bravely turned the post into a personal story of her teaching life from the last year and the challenges she had as she listened to herself and took action.

I don’t use the word “brave” lightly. You’ll know why when you read the post. Quite frankly, I anguished over whether to include this post but she’s pinned it to the top of her Twitter timeline. She wants to share the story. Do it for her. It’s sad to think that there may be all kinds of other educators who are in the same boat but don’t have the same release or network for support.


Wiki Wondering

There has been this group of post-secondary educators who are really pushing themselves into a new world with technology and then seeing how it fits into their professional life.

This blog post is a collection of wondering about wikis from Helen DeWaard. In particular, her focus is on the greatest of wikis – Wikipedia.

I’m old enough and experienced enough to recall when Wikipedia was a four letter word. Use of it as a scholarly source was forbidden. And yet, here we are today and often this is the first result you get from any internet search. Such is the value. The amazing part is just how it got that way and Helen addresses that so nicely among other things.

Personal wikis were interesting to me at one point too. After doing about a million Dreamweaver workshops and creating a lot of static and ultimately stale webpages, there were wiki creation sites that came along and let you create a presence in a matter of minutes. I used dougpete.pbworks.com ultimately as a repository for many of the materials for my workshops. It’s still there and I poke around a bit but I’d have to do some real work to update it. Eight Weeks to Web 2.0 was a course that I put online for teachers to get up to speed with social things over the summer. The topics are still valid although my former employer dropped the use of FirstClass which was the tool I used for a few of the tools.

I spent a lot of time on Helen’s post. It’s rich with links and resources. She’s done a lot of work getting this up for us. You need to read and explore.

Her wonders?

  • about wiki education?
  • how to connect wiki education to your teaching?
  • what’s behind the Wikipedia curtain?
  • who’s behind the curtain?
  • what I did?
  • where this is going next?

Slice of Life: The farm

I know that Lisa Corbett thinks that this was a unique story about her family and it probably was. But it isn’t much of a leap for me to think of places around here where I could and have taken my family to do many of the same activities.

I’m sure that you could add to the list. It is an amazing family outing.

What makes Lisa’s post so particularly delightful is that she and her family can now actually visit these wonderful places, pick fruit, do family things at the playgrounds and more.

The thing that really intrigues me from Lisa’s post are Funnel Fries.

I’ve never heard of them before but if I ever see them on a menu …


Reading List for National Indigenous History Month

This is a timely post for educations and teacher-librarians who are working hard to get caught up on things that were never part of our education.

Jessica Outram has been collecting texts from Indigenous authors for over 25 years.

In this post, she shares what she would like others to read from her collection. In the post, she gives us 30 titles to consider.

If you’re looking for a starting point or just want more, check out this post.

While there, check out her Hummingbird podcast and Poetry sections.


ZARA HOSSEIN IS HERE BY SABINA KHAN

From Alanna King, a concept not specifically this particular post.

On her blog, Alanna shares with us the titles and her thoughts about the books that she’s reading and researching.

I could see a couple of uses for this.

  • it’s a way to record her personal reading and research to bring back later. We all know that we learn better when we create something
  • it’s a way to engage a community of educators who are looking for new titles and don’t necessarily want to start from scratch

I see a great deal of value in both uses.


Myth of Hybrid Multitasking

I was tagged in the announcement of the release of this blog post from Deborah Weston. I think we all know what inspired her to write about this at this particular point in time.

We’re still waiting for the current government to let us know what education will look like in the fall. I know that many are fearful for the notion of hybrid teaching – simultaneous online and face-to-face and the challenges that that provides. Personally, I think that the whole issue goes far beyond the concept that a teacher may have students in two places

Deborah has done some research into the notion of multitasking in general and I like the specific inclusion of the research about the smartphone that she includes.

I don’t buy into the concept 100%. For example, I’m writing the blog post while a John Fogerty concert is playing on YouTube and I’m humming along. I’ve always worked better with music in the background.

Even the whole notion of teaching – forget the hybrid component for a second -isn’t a singular task. Any teacher will tell you that you that there are always various tasks that you’re juggling just to get the job done. We’ve always joked with students about having eyes in the backs of our heads. If the goal is to talk about two modes of teaching happening simultaneously, that would be an interesting discussion. Managing all that is happening or should be happening in one mode can be overload at times. Doubling that is the real issue in my mind.


Drone Sunrise #0303: Three Different Styles

So, Peter Beens now has a drone to add to his collection of things to explore and play with! I wish I had his money. I’ve learned so much from him about photography over the years.

In this case, he sent his drone skyward to take a picture of a sunrise and then applies a number of filters to it and asks us to choose.

I’m impressed that he was able to find water this calm and reflective first thing in the morning.

Drone Sunrise #0303 - The Original

In terms of his question, I prefer the first of the three images. The other two look too altered to me. In the post, he doesn’t tell us what he did to the images. That would have been interesting to know.


Please take some time to click through and check out all these terrific posts.

Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Helen DeWaard – @hj_dewaard
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is live most Wednesday mornings on voicEd Radio. This week’s show is located here.

Another podcasting alternative – Anchor


Got time to check out just one more alternative if you’re looking for an alternative to Audacity – this time specifically for podcasting.

If you listen to the Good News, Brad News podcast, then you’ve heard the results of using the Anchor.fm service. Land on Brad’s page above and you’ll see that he makes his podcast available on a number of different podcast distribution platforms. I typically listen to his work on Google Podcasts.

I suspect that much of what will appeal to people about Anchor.fm is that it’s free. I know that many go by the wisdom that cheap is good, free in better.

So, head to Anchor and create an account. A few steps turn you into a broadcasting here.

I found that the interface was really straight forward, driven by buttons. Of course, you might not need them all.

Click Record and you’re off.

Like any new interface or new software, there will probably be some learning but not insurmountable in this case. If the goal is just to sit down and hammer out your podcast, I think this is pretty much as easy as it gets.

And, if you’re a visual learner, check out this video.

So, if you’re moving from Audacity or find that the age restriction may be limiting your podcasting ambitions or working with students under the age of 13, you owe it to yourself to check this out and see if it’s a good fit for you.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There’s nothing better than the summer time. On the voicEd Radio show, it’s a time to invite co-hosts who would actually be working during the school year. This past week, the EduGals (Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell) were awesome on the show.


5 GMAIL SKILLS TO MASTER FOR THE GOOGLE CERTIFIED EDUCATOR LEVEL 1 EXAM

And, we led off the show talking about what I would have predicted would have been their latest post. As it turned out, they used the beginning of the summer to create lots of new content but we went with this.

Many educators are interested in getting Google Certification – there are so many different levels and topics that exist to make you a better use of Google software.

The topic for this one was simply, Gmail. For many people, email is just sort of this necessary evil that is thrust on them. But, once you start digging as Katie and Rachel have done, there is a great deal that can be done with Gmail to enhance your productivity. I don’t consider myself a novice when it comes to Gmail but I’m never afraid to learn even more. There were some things in here that I think most people would find helpful to read and practice.

  • How to use stars to get organized
  • Understanding the different inbox types (especially priority inbox)
  • Using the search tools in Gmail
  • Creating and using labels
  • How to create and use filters

It should come as no surprise that search in Gmail can be just as powerful on your content as it is on the web.

This is the first of a number of posts promised over the summer about Google Certification. So, if you’re interested read it. If you’re just interested in becoming more proficient with Gmail, certainly use that as your inspiration as well.


Summer 2021

From the ETFO Heart and Art blog, Melissa Turnbull shares with us ten things to think about for the summer – sans technology.

I love the whole list and I’m looking forward to doing most of these things. I’m not sure about yoga but my top three would be:

  • Donate gently used clothes to charity
  • Support local restaurants/markets and businesses
  • Go on a road trip

I’ve already done the first one and miss my favourite shorts. Check.

We took the dog to Belle River over the lunch hour and had lunch at a restaurant there. Check. (This will be ongoing since we have so many great restaurants in town)

I can’t wait for this to happen. Since COVID and lockdowns started, I think we’ve left Essex County twice.


Being Open-Minded to Mental Math

I love Alice Aspinall’s approach to Mathematics. She’s open and honest.

In this post, she talks about different way to do mental math calculations. There’s her way (which is my way) and then methods used from an eight year old and a six year old.

I know old timers reminisce about the good old days of mathematics. We absolutely were taught strategies that seem old school now. But, we got the answers and were damn proud of ourselves for doing so.

It’s easy to take cheap shots at the “new math”. After all, if the “old math” was good enough for us, it’s good enough for them. But look closer.

It seems to me that it was so important for us to get the right answer. We had algorithms and we knew how to use them. If you read the thinking Alice shares from the eight year old and the six year old, it’s clear that those two aren’t just going for the correct answer; they understand a great deal of mathematics concept to get there. Of course, we can look at these solutions and with a little algebra could deconstruct the thinking. The important thing though, is that they understand the algebra concepts without actually having to learn them as such.

To me, that’s a higher level of thinking and problem solving. As for mental mathematics, it’s a worth activity. My dad used to do it with us all the time. Driving along, how long will it take us to get to the next town at our current speed?

Alice is worth following on Instagram as “everyonecanlearnmath” as she shares images and puzzles about mathematics from her real life. Definitely the images and questions are classroom ready.


Friday Two Cents:  I’m Here For You

Maybe it’s the sign of the COVID times, but we need to start with a shoutout to Paul Gauchi – this was the first time as an occasional teacher that he worked every day. That’s pretty amazing in itself.

The life of an occasional teacher can be bizarre moving from staff room to staff room but there would be time where you might get called in for a long term appointment and actually get a chance to meet the other educators.

That was the thing that Paul notes as missing in the work from home reality. There was no staff room to drop in to to have those random supportive conversations. You were indeed in isolation. The consequences?

“Only an educator understands what another educator has gone through.”

I might add a qualifier – often an educator’s partner knows as well.

Paul just wants you to know that he’s there if you need someone to talk to…


Reflection-ish

Amanda Potts had put herself in a position that not everyone can and has a couple of individuals her “cooperating teachers” and her “supervisor” that had an opportunity to assess her strengths and areas of growth. That was a long time ago but she’s recently thought about it.

I like the fact that she wants to reflect on all that she’s been through. I think that everyone should be doing that just to keep their sanity and plan for next steps.

In the post, she discusses how difficult that she is finding that to be.

Is it too soon to reflect?

Is it too late to reflect?

I’ve got to believe that she’s not the only person wrestling with this question.


Poetry Invites July

Jessica Outram is editing a very interesting project. If you pride yourself a writer of poetry, then you might wish to consider contributing to this project.

Each month, she issues a topic and encourages all those who wish to write poetry to contribute. She’s putting all the submissions together into a collection which she shares online here.

To date, there are some very powerful contributions.

Interested?

This month you are invited to write a poem about summer. Let’s show our gratitude for the beach, the lake, the trails for hiking, the marina, the farm fresh produce, the festivals, and the time with family and friends. We are lucky to live in a place that thrives in summertime.


Companions in Shipwreck

It’s Diana Maliszewski’s 24th anniversary! Congratulations to James and her.

Who would have thought of writing a blog post to celebrate? Diana maintains her streak of being unpredictable.

And, who else but a teacher-librarian would being in an article from Time and a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien to seal the deal with the post.

To celebrate this special 24th, she’s, well, you have to read the post to find out how things are celebrated in her world.

It kind of makes you wonder what will happen for her 25th.


Please take a few moments and click through to read all these wonderful posts.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL

This week’s voicEd Radio show is available here.