This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Michael Frankfort joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host for the voicEd Radio show on Wednesday morning. It lent to a great conversation about the five blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that we featured. Read on to see them and a couple more bonus posts.


Family Reunion

Don’t we all have family reunion stories tucked away in our memories? I remember the first time I took my wife to ours and her comment on the way home. “It’s hard to imagine that you’re all related.”

On my mother’s side, it was a big summer event, more often than not landing on my birthday but nobody brought presents. We did bring millions of butter tarts though and had to be there pre-6:00 so that Dad could go to the golfing tournament and the rest of us slept in the car until people started to arrive at 9 or so. Dad’s family reunion was a big gathering just before Christmas which changes the entire mindset. Instead of being outside and enjoying the weather, we’d rent a hall and go inside to avoid the weather.

Despite all that, we were within a couple of hours driving to get to the events. I can’t imagine doing what Amanda did (read the post) just to get there. Then, there’s the whole mixture of her family and I’ll bet that everyone has stories about their own personal mixtures. Her family has mine beat.

I loved the post and it made me think of faces and names from reunions so long ago and how so many of them are no longer around. Despite it being such a lovely story, it was a great reminder to remember the current moments because they are so special.

But, 18 people in one house for a week? You’re a strong woman, Amanda.


Fighting Disinformation

In the beginning, disinformation was easy to spot and actually kind of fun to explore. One of the more famous ones that I remember was the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Over the years though, the concept of the fake website has skyrocketed and taken off in a very sad direction.

We’re now in a time and era where everyone with an internet connection and the desire can put up a website for whatever the cause. We have so many of them, some consistent with our beliefs and others not so much. Some, after doing a bit of digging, can be debunked.

The ones that I personally have trouble with are those who have a dissenting opinion and do their best to create a plausible story from their perspective. Finding the truth used to be so simple; just go to the library and grab the encyclopedia. Not so anymore.

Then, throw into the mix the concept of a second or third language learner doing their best to research. If we as English First Language people have problems at time, imagine their situation.

Jennifer shares some great thoughts on the topic and the bottom is a wonderful collection of resources that can be used to help determine if something is truthful or not.


Reflections on “Sometimes it is enough to look back to see the Future clearly” presentation by Dr. Georg Marschnig

I’m really enjoying Paul’s doctoral work and how he’s openly sharing his work and his research. This is a very personal post about his own thinking. He organizes things and discusses each.

  • How do schools frame notions of citizenship;
  • What kind of relationships in schools and in educational decision-making processes foster real learning;
  • How do power structures affect learning? – Paul’s question
  • How were race, class, gender differences framed in the event?
  • What connections can you draw with readings, lectures, and discussions we have held in the class?
  • What creative ideas or astute analysis about education did you encounter in the event?

I enjoyed reading all the sections but the section about power structures affecting learning was a real thought generator for me. Like you, I grew up in a school environment where the teacher was always right. My parents came to their defense all the time when I’d challenge facts or other things. Later on, I came to realize that it was the game of school and you had to play by the rules. It sure made the day easier to handle.

Of course, like all things, we’ve got better at it all and we’ll continue to get better. On a personal level, I’ve made a note to learn more about “Youth Participatory Action Research.”


Slice of (Experential) Life

I’ve mentioned it many times; they don’t pay teachers of our youngest students enough. This blog post will have you laughing, smiling, and being thankful that you don’t teach the youngest. Or, if you do, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement throughout this post.

It was a 20-minute bus ride to the field trip location. For some of the students, it might have been a three-day road trip as they got out and looked around and remarked that they were in a different world!

Now, before I get too righteous, I enjoy community dog walks and there are always new things to see and explore even though I’ve lived here for 45 years.

I will be adamant though; we still have the same water tower.


Experience Sustainability

Our guest on Wednesday had written and shared this blog post to the STAO blog.

It was about a Webinar that Michael had co-delivered with Teresa Huang about organizing an eco-fair at your school. The post comes with appropriate resources to replicate the same activity at your school.

The concept is unlike the traditional science fair with its judging and ribbons that I remember. This was about doing good by doing good. (one of my dad’s favourite expressions that I’ve always tried to keep in mind) Today’s students can be more socially aware and responsible and this post honours that.

Look for links to replay the webinar and a slide deck packed full of ideas, resources, and connections to the Ontario Science & Technology and other subject areas Curriculum.


Our month in Bordeaux, France (June 2022 –FINAL month!)

There’s probably a fine line between being a stalker and an internet friend.

I’ve been following Sylvia’s adventure as she’s headed to Europe and shares so many pictures and stories on social media. Does living vicariously equal stalking? <grin>

I can’t imagine how long it took Sylvia to assemble this piece. There are so many pictures and she uses her technical skills to provide a mapping of routes for us.

Food, wine, and the biggest croissants I’ve ever seen are highlights. It really does look like it was a spectacular event for her.

Don’t read and look at the images on an empty stomach!


Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 8th, 2022

Finally, David always has lots of cool mathematics things in his weekly post. This week, he shared a couple of wonderful visuals.


Thanks to all of the above for sharing their learning and thinking. Regular readers know the routine – read these posts and follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Jennifer Hutchison – @TESLOntario
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Michael Frankfort – @mfrank_76
  • Sylvia Duckworth – @sylviaduckworth
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

voiced Radio Show

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happiest of Fridays to everyone. Enjoy some good blog reading!


So You Are Going to Be A Teacher Librarian… now what? Part 1

Is there any location in a school that changes so frequently in response to resources, understanding how students read, or just a conducive place for learning, reading, making, or just a place for lesson planning as the library?

Elizabeth has started a series of blog posts about what goes into her thinking about design and I like how she’s generous enough to share it with us in this post and has shared it with colleagues and administrators from other schools over the years.

Today’s library is so far removed from the libraries that we enjoyed going to in schools. Certainly, we enjoyed going there and it was a favourite place for a number of reasons. Mostly, I recall, it was for books and a quiet place to work.

Things have changed. How do you make it a success? There’s lots of planning, design, and thinking that goes into it and you get a sense of it in this introductory post.

  • Things to consider – layout of the room
  • Beginning readers
  • Picture books
  • Chapter books and graphic novels
  • Non-fiction
  • Dual language

If you’ve been paying attention to education, there’s much more to come as we think about makerspaces and all the other things that happen there. As she notes, the library environment is the third educator in the room. If you think it’s just another room with books, you’ve got another think coming.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming posts.


Researcher’s Journal: Living in a post-truth world

Now that Paul is working on his PhD, he’s taking us deeper in thought as we tag along with his research.

This time, he’s looking at “post-truth“, ironically the definition that I’m sharing is from Wikipedia! This resource even has a post about mis-information.

It doesn’t take long when you turn on the evening news broadcasts from the south of the border that this concept blows up in your face. There was a time when an expert carried an expert label; now it seems like anyone who is willing to stand in front of a camera and scream gets the air play. Truth used to be so binary.

Paul’s current thoughts are influenced by Sam Weinburg and he’s good enough to give us a glimpse of his research reading.

These days, it seems anyone can be a journalist and you can start with a blog and share whatever information you want! Later, I’m going to talk about a blog post from Bonnie Stewart and she has a link to a resource on eCampusOntario about Information Abundance. Good reading and I can’t help but think that Paul’s work is important but how will it be judged objectively? What does objective mean anymore?


Minds Moving … For Adults And Kids Alike!

All teachers have a way to start their class. There’s a phrase that you often hear “minds on” to describe things. You’d like to think that students come in, sit down quietly, and get to work. About the second day in this profession and you know that they need help; it doesn’t come naturally.

Aviva shares how she personally starts her day. With an early start, she’s into the popular word puzzle games. I know that many teachers are now using it as a fun start to the lesson (psst don’t tell them that it’s good for them) but Aviva uses it for herself to get her mind going.

Then, what would an Aviva post be without pictures? She shares how her students get started independently.

It seems to me that the key to all of this is to find a bite-sized activity that’s engaging and enjoyable to do. That’s not always easy but finding it will have huge payoffs.


Redesign for online: 3 easy steps to questioning everything you do as an educator

My RSS Reader brought up this two-year-old now post from Bonnie. I don’t know if she updated it or if it was just fortunate luck but I read it and really enjoyed it. There’s so much wisdom in here that, after COVID, we can get a better understanding of now.

Warning – the title is a bit of a bait and switch but not in a bad way. As she notes, there is no such thing as three easy steps.

Online teaching is her thing so she does write from a strong background and credibility. After two years, everyone has built up a bit of expertise so her experiences have added importance.

There were a few big takeaways for me.

  • “Redesigning for online is a confronting process. It forces you to pare down both your course content AND your course communications to the bits that matter most” – Yes! Not everything gets ported over. It’s also a good idea as you prepare for F2F next year
  • “the infrastructure of the internet is actually designed FOR two-way participatory communications” and she gives terrific examples of what to do. I thought that the concept of knowledge creators versus consumers was particularly helpful. With YouTube and the like, I think everyone has got the consumer part down pat
  • “My partner, on the other hand, worked ten hour days, wrote half an Online Teaching textbook, and created an entire site of video resources and interviews about digital pedagogies” This is a rich resource

There is a presentation and the irony of the tools used isn’t lost on me but it will be a good hour of professional learning for all.


Grad Prep

After the fact, I had some regrets about sharing the post. The content was about the work that Diana puts in to support her colleagues in a couple of graduations in the school – from Kindergarten and Grade 8. She’s using her technical skills to build a presentation using green screen and a story for each student.

It was a little sobering when she mentioned that this might well be the first time for the kindergarten students to see a big audience. I never thought of that.

The regrets came from responses to the voicEd show where the concept of graduations was discussed in not so glowing terms. That wasn’t the point of Diana’s post and I hope that she missed it. Graduations are a school or district decision; not an individual teacher’s.

Having said that, I can’t recall any course where things abruptly ended after the last class. Even at the Faculty of Education just taking a single course, there was an invitation to go out or over to someone’s house to celebrate the end of things.

There have been so few things to celebrate these days that a formal graduation may just be the shot that people need, for that moment in time. There may be a time and a place to have this discussion but to tag onto this blog post isn’t it.

And don’t forget the parents – this from a friend of mine this morning…

So proud x 2 🎓🎓🎉🎉! Congratulations to both XXXXXXX and XXXXXXX on their Grade 8 graduation from XXPS! 🙌🏻 10 years in the making!

I’m sure that also the kids will get a DVD or a link to the presentation that they can enjoy for a lifetime. I sure wish I had that to look back at.


And on to LongCovid

“Masks are all but gone in my neck of the woods.”

Ditto here. In the past while, I’ve had an optometrist and doctor appointment and I’ve worn a mask. The sign on the door says so and I know that these are occasions where you’re going to be closer than ever to someone not in your immediate family.

We also wear masks to the drug store where it’s about 50/50 with staff and Walmart where the ratio is less. I’ve convinced my wife that self-checkout isn’t bad because you don’t have to stand really close to anyone.

I’d like to go with the sentiment that it’s all over. But it isn’t, by a long shot.

  • A good friend, wife, and inlaw all got it
  • Friends on Facebook have checked in with the sad news
  • Baseball was cancelled because they couldn’t field a team

Then, there’s the concept of longCOVID (longCovid) that Marie talks about in the post. It’s not pleasant and she doesn’t sugar-coat it.

Somehow, so many have bought into the concept since vaccination centres are shut down and there isn’t a frenzy to get a jab.

I had to smile a bit at her thoughts about style. Like so many, I just wish we could get to the point where it’s not here and we don’t have to worry about writing about it. We’re not there yet.


They haven’t the foggiest

I’ll give Doug some cred by pairing him with Monty Python.

Hey, Doug

If you’re looking for a little smile and some play on words, this will be your Friday morning read.


Please find some time to enjoy these posts. Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Bonnie Stewart – @bonstewart
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Doug McDowall – @dougzone2_1

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Lessons learned


Yesterday got me thinking about the use of the word “Virtual” and, in particular, with presentations given by using remote tools. I wrote, and still maintain, that the word “Virtual” plays down the extra and hard work that goes into these.

Remote teaching and presentations have become the norm for us during these times. Now, don’t get me wrong here; there is nothing like getting together with old and new friends for dinner or a drink at the end of the learning day. That will always be a special event.

And yet, I can’t help but think that are a lot of lessons to be learned from teaching and presenting online that need to be carried over to the time when we can indeed get back together in the same time and in the same location for learning.

Maybe we can reinvent the face to face conference by looking at best practices and shoving some of the old ways to the past. Here are a few that come to mind here.

Starting and finishing on time
We’ve all been there. You show up on time for a presentation and the presenter isn’t ready to go at the start time. Or, the moderator says “We’ll wait for five minutes in case more are coming”. It’s aggravating especially since you put in the effort to be there on time. Or, it’s the session before lunch and the presenter just keeps on going and you don’t want to get up and leave the session. Online moderators tend to be pretty good about making sure that things start and finish at the same time.

Not waiting for the previous presenter to shut down and get out of the road
If you’ve ever been a presenter in a session at other than the first time of day, there’s a real chance that you’ve had the experience of having to wait for the previous presenter to finish if they’re going long, or they get ganged up on by others who want to ask personal questions, or maybe they have material spread all over your presentation space that needs to be taken down before you get started. Insult to injury happens when they ask you for assistance!

People standing up to take pictures of a slide
It never happened until those smart phones came along. In the good old days, people would take notes during presentations. It’s not uncommon now when you have a particularly powerful slide in your presentation for people to stand up and take a picture of it for their records. If you’re broadcasting your slidedeck, people can just do a screen capture of your best content.

Links to presentation
This always happens. Good and savvy presenters know enough to use a URL shortener and put it on the first or the last slide of a presentation or perhaps even on every slide. But, let’s face it; we all have been in sessions where none of that happens. Even worse is getting the URL but making a mistake in recording it. When you’re presenting online, it’s a snap to put a link to the presentation in the chat box.

Is this being recorded?
This is often a financial thing. We’ve become accustomed to knowing that the keynote address will often be recorded and made available afterwards. Or, some of the featured sessions will have that attention. The best one for me was when the CSTA conference was held at Google in Mountainview and the YouTube team was there and recorded all the sessions. When you’re presenting online, the host or even you can record anything that’s available.

Clickers that don’t work
This has to have caught everyone. You have a remote device to control your slide deck or one is provided for you. When it works, it works well. When it doesn’t work, it’s embarrassing and a real problem for the presenter who is now tethered to their computer. This all goes away when you’re presenting electronically over a connection since you have full access to your keyboard and your mouse and any other tool.

Environmental problems
I’ll bet that we all have this experience. You’re in a room that’s way too warm or way too cold and there’s nothing that you can do about it except complain. Big convention centres often have the air conditioning nicely turned on just in case you get 40 degree weather. It’s in anticipation of a large amount of heat emitting bodies in seats. If that happens, boy can it can cold. Online, everyone is in control of their own creature comforts.

Costs
Of course, this one is obvious. Driving or flying somewhere to be in attendance at a physical setting can be expensive. Particularly these days with gas as high at 1:59.9 around here. Then, you need to factor in hotel rooms and meals. It gets pretty pricy in a hurry.

Collaborative document
A terrific technique often falls apart in implementation. It’s a wonderful technique to have a collaborative document open during a presentation to get people to contribute ideas or questions on the fly. It’s often a challenge to actually work much like the sharing of URLs can be. The solution is just as simple. Put a URL in the chat window or just go ahead and use the chat window as a discussion place. It beats those two people talking behind you.

I’m sure that there are lots of other reasons that might run through your mind as features and not problems with online or remote presentations. Got one? How about dropping it off in the comments below.