An Interview with Paul McGuire


Paul McGuire is a recently retired elementary school principal from the Ottawa Catholic District School Board. I’ve known Paul for a number of years and have worked with him as part of a team that carried off the first Bring IT, Together Conference. It was a big chance for the ECOO organization, moving away from Toronto and partnering with another group. We wanted to make sure that we reached out to all educator groups and Paul seemed to be a natural for the administrators’ group.

Doug:  I always ask people if they recall our first face to face meeting. I do recall ours and it was quite an embarrassing moment for me. Do you remember when we first met?

Paul: Hi Doug, I remember meeting and working with you at one of the BIT Conferences. It was a great moment for me. You have always been an inspiration. I don’t remember this being awkward at all, it was really fun to work with you on such a terrific project.

Doug:  Then I guess the moment was more embarrassing for me! I distinctly recall being at the Convention Centre and you came over and stood next to me, ready to do work. It was the first time we’d met in person and you didn’t look at all like one of your social media pictures. I thought you were just looking for directions, so I asked “Can I help you with something?” I felt badly when your next move was to introduce yourself.  You’d think that I would have known the committee members that we invited to be part of the team.  How embarrassing!

Paul: Well that’s more my fault I think. I remember meeting George Couros for the first time at that conference. He told me I needed a better profile photo on my Twitter page so people could recognize me. I think I changed it the same day.

Doug:  It was important to Cyndie Jacobs and me, as co-chairs of the conference, to have a principal on our team. What are your thoughts about that? Should all conferences have administrators do this?

Paul: Yes, I think it is important, however it is pretty difficult as the job of being a principal is pretty crazy. I would do it again now that I am a retired principal. Having said this, having an administrator on the planning committee is really important. There are workshops that could be done especially for administrators. They really need to learn to step up when it comes to digital integration. This is a role they have yet to assume.

Funny thing at the time. I blogged about what i was learning every day at the BIT Conference then got in trouble from my superintendent for being too out there whatever that means. All to say, principals are under their own kind of special pressure that makes getting involved in a conference like BIT problematic.

Doug:  How could the conference have addressed the needs of administrators better?

Paul: Maybe there needs to be an administrator’s stream. They really need to be presented to in a forum where they feel comfortable. Administrators – in my experience – are pulled in so many directions. They need presenters who will guide them on a path to become digital mentors for their staff. It is, again in my opinion, tragic when you have an administrator in a school who does not have a very keen sense on how to use social media. The world is passing us by in so many ways and leaders need to step up and take an active role. This is an important message for them to hear at BIT and other conferences, however it has to be said with kindness, otherwise you will turn off your crowd.

Doug:  In your retirement, you’ve become an even more regular educational blogger. One of the series of posts that I particularly enjoyed was the story behind your climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Can you share any additional thoughts that didn’t make it into one of your posts?  (They’re all tagged by Paul and you can read them here.)

Paul: Oh, my, that is a challenge! I tried to express everything I could in those posts. I remember getting up at 5:00 AM in Moshi, Tanzania to catch the wifi signal to get a post out. It was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget. I have never been challenged so much physically and I have to say I would do it again to see if I could do a better job. It was certainly a worthwhile experience, especially because I was able to raise almost $10,000 for a charity that works closely with families in my former school community. I think the main take away from this is experience would be the importance of challenging yourself away from your comfort zone. It was really important for me to leave the school system so I could take part in this experience. Kilimanjaro freed me up to really work outside the conventional box I was so used to after 31 years.


Doug:  Is there another “Kilimanjaro” in your future?

Paul: Yes, certainly. I would say two right now. I have started working with the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education to take second year Education students to El Salvador for three weeks next April. This could be a transformative experience for teacher candidates as they will learn what education is like in the Global South. I am also working on a fundraising trek in Peru to take place next August. The money raised by the trekking group will be going to Christie Lake Kids, a wonderful group here in Ottawa that provides recreation opportunities for low-income children. I will certainly blog about both these experiences! By the way, we are looking for participants for our Peru trek if any readers are interested.

Doug:  In your retirement, another area that you address regularly are the challenges as you see them to education. Your particular area of expertise is with school administration. You’ve mentioned that you like to protect your school and teachers from the “board office”. How important is that to you?

Paul: It has always been very important to protect teachers from the school board. I think this is the responsibility of the principal and that is actually how we were trained. You can’t be an effective leader and also be a ‘puppet’ for your school board. You need to be discerning and mature and realize that your staff are doing an incredibly difficult job every day. Your role as an administrator is to clear the way so staff members can be really effective at their job.

This is a fine balance. There are some great ideas out there, but many are not well understood and we sometimes seem to be too eager to rush into things without truly understanding how any particular idea will have a positive influence on student achievement. I have written a few posts recently that fully explain my concern in this area.

Doug:  Have you ever found yourself in trouble with your supervisors as a result?

Paul: Yes, constantly and this is not something I take any pride in. Getting in trouble from your supervisors is not fun and can be really stressful. My vision and theirs conflicted. We were supposed to be agents of the board, but the way I saw it, my main responsibility was to my staff, parents and children. This means that you must, at times, stand in opposition to your supervisors. If you don’t have the courage to do this you should never become a principal. Principals in Ontario have no protection. Teachers do, we don’t. This allows senior administrators to act with impunity when it comes to school administration. The current system is incredibly unfair and intimidating. Most administrators just decide to comply. Eventually, for me, it became too difficult to remain working for the board and I had to resign.

Doug:  Another thought that you have shared is that modern principals are often too young and experienced for the challenges of today’s schools. Can you elaborate on that?

Paul: They are too young, but not very experienced. I think to be an effective administrator, you need to live life. You need to experience life in all its joys and defeats. You need to learn humility and to really respect the opinions of others, especially those who do not agree with you. There is a certain arrogance amongst some administrators that simply makes the lives of others very difficult. I would say this actually has little to do with youth and lots to do with the acquisition of knowledge and compassion. Of the two, compassion is the most important.

Doug:  What would be the ideal path for anyone to take if they’re going to be a successful administrator?

Paul: Teach, teach and teach more. Spend your career learning about education, kids, parents and communities. In the last part of your career you then can consider administration.

I don’t think it is a good idea to go into teaching with the end vision of becoming an administrator. This is something that should evolve over time. Many great teachers decide to keep away from becoming an administrator and we have to ask ourselves why this happens. For me the main quality to acquire before becoming an administrator would be humility. I wish I had seen more of this in my career.

Doug:  So why isn’t it done more often?

Paul: I really don’t know. Is it ambition? Maybe. I really think people need to take the time to mature as a human being and as an administrator. Why is there such a rush to do a job that really takes a lifetime to prepare for? I think good leadership is poorly understood. I have replaced lots of poor administrators and in all cases these people were promoted to better positions. Why does this happen? Why do teachers worry so much when they get a new administrator? We ask so much of our students and our teachers, but i think we are failing when it comes to the expectations we have for our administrators.

Doug:  You do seem to enjoy your use of social media. Stephen Hurley and I have noticed that, if we’re talking about your blog, you’re actively Twittering along. I’ve learned now to turn off the volume on my phone when we’re featuring you! How important is social media to you? Did you encourage staff to get involved?

Paul: Social media is a living and essential tool for educators. We need to communicate what we learn and what we experience in our schools. Paper newsletters are useless. We need to be experts at communicating with our communities. In my opinion, if you are unwilling to communicate as a school administrator you are in the wrong job. For staff, I think principals need to be trainers and facilitators. Encourage them to use more social media, but remember, their jobs are so busy – much busier than a principal’s, and we need to respect that.

With social media the learning and the connecting never stops. I have gained so much from my connections especially through Twitter. I simply do not understand how educators, especially administrators can do a good job these days without the effective use of Twitter.

Doug:  How about administrators? You don’t see too many of them using social media.

Paul: No I don’t and I do not have very much tolerance for this. I do not accept the excuse that they are too busy to communicate – how does that make any sense? It is their job and they should take it seriously. Also, it they are not actively on Twitter, how are they learning? Accepting what they hear during school board sessions is simply not good enough.

Beyond that, their use needs to be effective. I see lots of administrators, especially superintendents who use Twitter as a cheerleading platform. Is that really the best that they can do. Some of these people are considered leaders in Ontario and they are basically sharing what they see on I think they can do much better than that. We need dialogue and we need to share ideas and we need to learn to be critical and challenge what we see on social media. Lots of room for growth here!

Doug:  I know that you were passionate about the facilities at one of your older schools. You had started one of those online funding programs to effect change. I can remember your daily prompts to vote and I did. What needed to be changed? How did the initiative end?

Paul: Well, first, thanks for voting Doug, I really appreciate your support! We won the Aviva Community Fund competition resulting in the infusion of $100,000 into our yard rebuilding fund. Money attracts money and we were able to eventually raise an additional $60,000 to entirely rebuild our old, asphalt yard. A great project for our community. We even had a special website for the project.

This was a truly important project for our community. We really need to look at the school environments that our low-income students inhabit. Many of these are old, underserviced and paved over with cracked decrepit asphalt. We made a huge effort to change this and now St. Anthony School in Ottawa has a beautiful yard, one that our kids really deserve. I loved working on this project, but really, why can we do better for our low-income communities?



Doug: A friend of mine used to start her questions to me this way so I’ll use it here. “If you were the King of the World”, how would you improve education?

Paul: How much space do you have? There is so much that could be done. I would start by having senior administrators that are really open to dialogue and change. Open up discussions and include your principals and teachers, maybe then we would really start to see innovation and change. Having said this, I do see change everywhere. I see change in the work of young teachers who are willing to try new things and do excellent work daily. I guess if I were king of the world, I would let all the wonderful teachers license to do their job without so much bureaucracy and silliness.

Doug: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Paul. I appreciate it and I’m sure that readers appreciating know more about you.

Paul:  Thanks for the invitation Doug, I really appreciate this.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at: @mcguirp
Paul’s blog “Whole-Hearted – we are all a great work in progress” is at:

Over the life of this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to interview all kinds of amazing people and Paul adds nicely to the list.

You can check out all the interviews here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s always a good week when Ontario Educators are blogging.

This past week was no different; here’s some of what I caught.

Here’s the toolbar in my browser so I’m ready to go….


Response to: Five Ways to Damage a Good School

Only five?

Paul McGuire focuses in on a post from another blogger and manages to use furniture and limited resources in the same thought.  Oh, and technology in another thought.

Here’s the thing. Too often, educators get caught up in the latest fad – flexible seating and the expense that comes with this is one of the newest things. In schools with limited resources (I would say most schools in Canada), the purchase of new furniture means that something else will not be bought.

He makes a good point which leads to a good discussion about priorities within a school.  I find the interesting point about all this about flexible seating and changing learning spaces to be interesting.  If it’s just about some new chair or table, then it’s just an advertisement.  If it’s about changing a philosophy with a stated purpose about why you’re doing it and the results that you’re expecting, then I can get excited.  I can’t help but throw in a golf quote here…

You drive for show; you putt for dough.

Maybe the question in these times is “Are you driving or are you putting?”

I’d like to see Paul do something like posting an online form asking everyone to add their thoughts about how to “damage a school”.  I’ll bet there would be lots of things to learn from and it would give Paul an endless resource for blogging.

Math & Identity

This post, by Deborah McCallum is guaranteed to get you thinking.

She leads us to this marriage by focusing on identity.  Perhaps this is another way for all to reflect on the message that is present in the mathematics classroom.

What is identity? It is connected to the groups that we affiliate with, the language we use, and who we learned the language from. I believe that we all have different identities depending upon the different groups that we belong to, and that this has implications in terms of the languages and discourses we use.

I’ve seen a number of suggestions about improving mathematics instruction (including some from Deborah).  This is a new and interesting take.

Training Wheels

This is a post that put me in someone else’s shoes.  Ann Marie Luce is taking on the role as a Principal of the Canadian International School of Beijing.  This is part of a series of posts talking about her nervousness in the decision and then landing in a different land with different language and different customs and GO!

I absolutely can put myself in her place as she goes about what we would consider a regular routine — shopping, going to a restaurant, going shopping, …

But she’s doing it in a land where she doesn’t speak the language!

So, many of the things that we would expect to do with our regular language have to be done with gestures just to get the message across.

Then, she turns to that new ELL student in our present classrooms.  It’s an interesting transition that will give you renewed sympathy for that new student, trying to get along in a new world, and learning how to speak the language in order to get the job done.

I hope that she continues to blog about her experience.  This could be very interesting.

Being a Temporary Teacher

We move from a discussion about the reality of China to the reality of Japan.  Deborah Weston was inspired by an article in an English language Japanese newspaper about the reality of being a temporary teacher.

I’m so fortunate that I didn’t ever have to go through the hoops of the current reality for Occasional Teachers.  I graduated from a Faculty of Education and there was a school here in Essex County that needed a Computer Science teacher.  Other than waiting annually for the seniority list and the horror of being declared redundant (which I fortunately never was), my teaching life unfolded as I wanted it to.

That’s not true for all.

It’s an interesting comparison and a similarity of realities of how long it takes before getting that permanent position.  She quotes:

  • Ontario –  6 or 7 years
  • Japan – 5.9 years

It’s an interesting look at another’s reality.


Like everyone, Sharon Drummond is getting ready for September.  Her activity is looking and pondering classroom setup.  The floors are clean and polished and the room is empty.  It’s time to think about setup.

She shares a picture and a diagram of the room with some preliminary thoughts.  I was so impressed that green screen is built in before the furniture.  That sends a powerful message and she shouldn’t need to rearrange things later in order to take advantage of this tool for video making.

And, she’s not starting with thinking about how to control the flow or maintain classroom discipline.  She’s talking about things that she wants her students to do.

  • and more – you’ll have to click through to read her post to see them all

She’s asking for input and ideas.  If that’s your game, go over to her blog and share.

I hope that there’s a subsequent post to show us all how this activity ends.

Back in the Saddle Again

If you’re a regular reader here, you know that Kristi Bishop’s blog is high on my list of favourites but had gone missing recently.  But, she’s “Back in the Saddle” and ready to blog.

I really like her rationale for blogging and sharing her thinking online.

I don’t think any blogger should apologize for being a bit selfish and using the blog primarily to get their own thinking down in one spot.  In fact, I can’t think of a better way of reflecting and geting other people to chip in with their own thoughts.

So, Kristi, it’s great to see you back and I look forward to reading many inspiring posts in the future.

How about you, reader?  Do you have a blog that’s playing possum?  How about kick starting it?


If you’re looking for a good description about what being connected and how it works, then you’ve got to look at this post from Terry Greene.

In fact, I had looked and commented here on a post that he wrote last week.  It was also one of the posts that Stephen Hurley and I talked about on our Wednesday radio show.

But, that was only a small part of the connected educator story.

In this post, Terry gives us the complete story of all the connections that surrounded his one blog post, complete with links, and it’s a testament to why we do this and how you can share the learning love around.

Great summary!

And it all started with one simple request.

Please take the time to click through and read the complete, original blog posts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers.  There should be a little there for everyone.  And, if you’re blogging yourself and not already in the collection, just fill out the form and you will be.

The complete collection of these Friday posts illustrating the thinking of Ontario Edubloggers can be found here.  I’d love to have you become part of it.

Games with Blockly

Coders of all ages are going to like this!

We all hear about how students get engaged learning to code by programming their own games.  That can sometimes be a challenge for the student learning coder and/or the teacher trying to stay attuned to the best in coding and generating ideas.

So, check this out. – Blockly Games.


Pick a starting point and you’re off.

At the time of the screen capture, you’ll see that I had worked my way almost all the way through the Maze option on this computer.  (To be honest, I spent lots of time and enjoyed them all.  I hadn’t thought about blogging about it until later.)

The Maze option has 10 different levels and challenges.  As you would expect, they start pretty easy and then get challenging.

Here’s my solution for Level 9.


And, winner winner, chicken dinner.  Your congrats message lets you see the Javascript behind the code.


Just a warning before you click through and get started.  This is from experience.  This is really addicting.  And, I do have a solution for level 10 that’s reasonably priced.

Where I’d see immediate use of this…

  • with beginning student coders to learn the principles of a block coding environment
  • as an environment to get a coding club off to a great start
  • as part of an understanding of computational thinking
  • with teachers who are learning or refreshing their coding skills
  • with older students who already know some coding, as a start of year activity to get the coding juices flowing

Got an idea of your own?  Please add it to the comments below.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And, it’s Friday.  Summer appeared to go away but it looks like it’s back.  But you know that Autumn is on the way with the dew in the morning and those crickets that are up all night.  None of this appears to have hampered Ontario Edubloggers though.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

A Message Worth Sharing

I think that Aviva Dunsiger’s “message” is something more than just for sharing.  It’s a way of being, if you’re a teacher.  Witness this comment from a parent.

“I wish everyone felt that way. This is the first time somebody’s said this about my son.”

How often do we think that communication with parents should be to report misbehaviour or a problem or some other issue.  Every time I read something like this, I think of a message from Wayne Hulley that we need to heed.

“Parents send the best kid that they can to school.  They don’t keep the really good ones at home.”

We all like to hear and live success stories or anecdotes.

Why shouldn’t the parents of the students you teach?

Things Open

When I read the title of this post from Terry Greene, I bit my tongue and thought “Sure, they also close”.  I had no idea about the topic of the post so it was a natural response.  Then, I read the post.

Like most people I suspect, I got involved with social media via Twitter or Blogging and then took off from there.  In this post, Terry talks about his own journey into social media and it didn’t take the same route.  His journey started with ds106.  It’s been an interesting trip for him and it’s a reminder that we can make things whatever we want to be and where our interests take us.  I keep thinking that everyone should document their trip into social media.  That might make for an interesting blogging challenge.

How would I have even know about Terry?  Well, it was through the traditional route following Alana Callan into the Fleming Learning blog.  I’m really glad I did.

There are lots of takeaways from this post but this one really intrigues.

Volunteer with Virtually Connecting, where I get to be involved with and help others get access to educational conferences all over the world that we would not otherwise have access to. Another chance to connect with and have access to open thinkers around the world.

I’d never heard of the Virtually Connecting website before but I’m glad that I know now.  Thanks, Terry.

Computer Science in Ontario

This really isn’t a blog post but rather a couple of graphs posted to Grant Hutchison’s website.  This graph, in particular, has me thinking and questioning.


As we know, there are five courses of Computer Studies in Ontario and he’s graphed the enrolments of them from 2011 to 2013.

Looking at the graphs is a real teaser.  I think I’m going to blog and share my thoughts about this soon.

voicEd Radio Spotlight: Paul McGuire and the Importance of Getting Out of School

This was an interesting meld of media by Stephen Hurley.  He had interviewed Paul McGuire as part of his “In Conversation” series.  The radio program is a good listen by itself.

But, one of the topics inspired Stephen to supplement the radio show with a blog post.

There’s been lots written recently about teachers having little to no control over their professional learning.  So, here’s a twist.

But as Paul was telling his stories, I could literally sense a change in my breathing as he inspired a possibility in my mind. What might happen if, as a staff, we were to designate one PD day a year to do just what Paul did—get out of school and head out, two-by-two, out into the community. What if we were to head to the local shopping mall, the coffee shop, the library, the places of worship, the rec centre, the seniors residence, the local businesses and municipal offices to talk to people. Not all of them would have children in our school, but I would venture to guess that all of them would have something to say about their hopes and aspirations for their community.

Conall’s Assessment Story

We all learned mathematics (and everything else) in the method that Jon Orr describes “Lessons….homework …. repeat…then tests”.  However, he focuses in on one phrase about expectations in Ontario.

It doesn’t say “By next Friday, students will …”; it’s “By the end of the course, the student will …”.

That sort of blew up the traditional method.

Jon includes a video explaining his thoughts.  Don’t have time for the video?  Read the post where you also get the transcript.

It involves an application he and his class used to get the job done.

It’s a wonderful story about the power of the portfolio – not just for collecting artifacts anymore!

“Stay in Your Lane” is Bad Advice

On the Holiday Monday, I went to the harness races in Dresden.  I was kind of dreading the construction zone through Tilbury and Chatham and so decided to take another route and bypass that, much to the chagrin of my GPS.

Instead, I enjoyed a delightful trip that took me through Jeannette’s Creek and the twisty road along the Thames River, the bridge at Prairie Siding (is it ever opened?) and Paincourt.  It was a really refreshing trip.  The folks in Chatham-Kent suggest that you do this and become a “Detourist”.

In this post, Matthew Oldridge asks us if we ever consider moving to the other lane.  My immediate thought was travelling through Toronto where you have more than one other lane option!  The view is different; the trip is different …  How about you?  Do you move out of your comfortable lane every now and again to see what else is available?

You’ll be inspired by Matthew’s list of people who took to a different lane and succeeded.

I won’t post that

I think we all realize that there’s a line on social media that we don’t want to cross.  There are things that people don’t really want to know about us.  For example, I just finished walking the dog and I’m eating a banana.  Is your life any better knowing that?  Then, there are things that you shouldn’t know about me.  For example, well you shouldn’t know.

Diana Maliszewski addresses the topic as it applies to her.  In addition to the words of common sense that we includes, she bring in the College of Teachers.  So, with a bow on top, she nicely addresses the topic of sharing, over-sharing, and approaching or going over that line.

She also identifies areas that are deliberately missing from the persona that she projects online.

  • Specific details about my children
  • Complaints about specific people
  • Partying
  • Specific Politics

That’s a wise selection and she expands on each nicely.

This is a wonderful post and I would recommend that all read and consider her words.

Does the line that she draws for herself represent your line?

Once again, a wonderful collection of posts from Ontario Educators.  Please take the time to click through and read them in their entirety.  You’ll be glad you did.

Also, listen in on Wednesday mornings at 9:15 on VoiceEd Radio where Stephen Hurley and I take a run at some of the posts that will show up here.  Can’t make it?  All of the shows all archived here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can you believe that we’re approaching the end of July already?  Where did the month go?  It’s going to be a nice weekend around here: Explore the Shore, and the Car Crazy Show.

It’s always a great week when there is lots of thinking from Ontario Educators.  Here’s some of what I caught.

#WeLeadBy Student Digital Leadership at its best

I had the honour of helping review Jennifer Casa-Todd’s book as she was writing it.  I do remember one disagreement that we had, albeit friendly, when I challenged her on some concept she wanted to include.  I remember my comment “Haven’t we got past that?”.  Her comment was that we hadn’t in some districts.  So sad.

On the other hand, there are some incredible things that are happening and Jennifer uses social media to showcase the best of it.  In this post, she illustrates how she practices what she preaches and tweets.  It’s all about the process for a province wide student Twitter chat.  There are interesting reflections on her process, background work, and the people that she’s met.

This is well worth the time to read and affirm to yourself that the kids are alright.

I’ve always been a social media and leadership fanatic. I’m honored to be able to combine the two and show my student digital leadership! What an amazing experience I know’ll known I’ll never forget.

IBL and learning

When was the last time that you seriously thought about what learning truly means.  All of us who have ever been in a classroom will think that we know.  As I read this post from Julie Balen, I can’t help but wonder if what we think might be too narrow.

Watt and Coyler tell us that IBL is influenced by constructivism (page 4), and they also acknowledge that IBL is only one pedagogy amongst many that we decide to use based on our knowledge of how our students learn. This point is important, and it is why I have begun the book study by thinking about what learning means.

As noted in the title, she’s focusing on Inquiry Based Learning and her observations will have you thinking.

The concluding paragraph of questions is set in the context of students in Grade 9 and 10.  I can’t help but think that it’s too late by that time but that can be reality for many.  It’s one of the few places where you pull together students from so many disparate backgrounds.

Hubbub! Coding a First Nations’ Game of Chance

Have you read any good code lately?  If the answer is no or you’re just curious, check out this project from Brian Aspinall.

The game is based upon a dice game and there’s a link to the background of the game in Brian’s post.

But then, follow the link in the post, and you’ll be playing.  After a moment, you’ll want to look behind the scenes to see how things are actually coded.


But don’t stop there.  The power of Scratch lies in the ability for you to remix his work.

Part1: Summers are for resting, recharging and retooling

Read this first.

This process really does take a week-and-a-half, or two. My body doesn’t recognize vacation mode until 7 days have passed…otherwise my body things it might just be a long weekend, or Spring Break. Once I’m grounded, present, and connected…I can move forward to reading and other intentional activities that make me feel alive, and help me to RECHARGE ! That’s for next time!
Thanks for joining me.

That’s at the bottom of Heidi Solway’s post of July 20.

It does take a while for summer holiday mode to kick in!  I loved reading about her summer routine.

Any bets on when Part 2 will be posted?


One of the joys about reading blogs is going places where you’d never go other wise.  This post, from Rusul Alrubail, is one of them.

Thanks to her wonderful blog, I now know about MGMC.

Muslim Girls Making Change, or MGMC, is a youth based slam poetry group that started over a little more than a year ago. As a group (us being four teens in high school), we often felt that our voices weren’t being heard or that they weren’t important.

And now so do you!

The post is an interview that will give you some insights about the why and how of this group.

Could the concept be replicated in your school?

Minecraft and Stop Motion Animation

I enjoy reading what teachers are doing with Minecraft in the classroom.  Scott Renaud shares what’s going on in his classroom and where he intends to take it.

It’s an interesting read and also a call for collaborators.

That is where we are going and what our plan is, we would love to connect and work with like minded educators from around the world, if this sounds like something you may be interested in please reach out to me and join our team.


From the TESL Ontario blog, here’s an interesting insight to teaching overseas.

I found teaching overseas enabled me to be far more vulnerable since nobody knew me. There was simply less reason to worry. After all, in two weeks, I would likely never see these students again. It was a very different perspective to approach the class with. To be honest, it was kind of fun and sometimes scary at the same time.

This was another concept that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to even think about and so enjoyed reading about the whole process.

The post concludes with four tips about things to consider if this appeals to you.

Thanks to all of the above for continuing to blog, post, and share their thoughts over the summer.  It’s appreciated.  How about YOU?  Have you blogged recently?

Please take a moment to show your appreciation to them by clicking through and sharing a comment on their posts.

Maybe this will help

Do you ever walk into a room and then forget why you went there?  It happens all the time here!

Even worse is the digital equivalent.  As I read or work on something on my computer, I’ll use it as a launchpad to do something else.  If it’s a link, I’ll right-click a link and open a tab to remind me and, hopefully, get around to it later.

Sometimes, though, that isn’t sufficient.  So, I’ll use a Keep or OneNote document to keep track of things.  I just have to remember to visit them to do whatever it was that I was supposed to do.

Yesterday, I think I may have found a better solution.

It’s called the Papier extension.

It’s the ultimate in minimalism but fancy formatting and every feature under the sun isn’t what I need.  I just need a place to make a quick note so that I don’t forget.  Papier might be the answer.

It replaces the New Tab feature in the Chrome browser.  Now when I open a new tab, I just get a wide open whitespace to do some typing.  (Or blackspace if I turn on Night Mode)

Then, I make my note.

There are a few features available via menu or shortcut.

Screenshot 2017-07-26 at 06.33.06

Essentially, you just open the tab and start typing.  It remembers the content every time you open the tab.  The nice thing is that it’s all kept in the browser and you don’t have to leave to go anywhere else to use it.

I’m going to give it a try and see if it helps my memory.

I just hope that I remember to click on post to share this.


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to my weekly wander around the blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.  As always, there’s some terrific reading.  For those of you who expected also to hear the Wednesday show on VoiceED Canada, Stephen is currently off the grid.  We’ll return when he gets back on the grid in August.

A Mathematics Blueprint: Designing a Comprehensive Mathematics Program

Rochelle Tkach offers a nice post that nicely summarizes so many things about the curriculum designing process.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 at 11.54.57.png

She ties it so well to Mathematics but certainly the principles apply in all areas.

Do we need to learn how to play?

There’s a great deal to think about in this post from Aviva Dunsiger.  She reflects on the experience of people leaving her workshop that was first a post of hers that I talked about last week.

I Packed. I Came. I Shared. And Now I’m Left Wondering.

Both generated some nice discussions.

The big message in all of this is about participants indicating that they were through by leaving a session.  I think that we need to respect people’s choices and decisions, even though they may not follow our expectations as to how things should end up.

I have to give Aviva credit for taking her thoughts online; it could have all kinds of different responses from people.

Even more important, in addition to her thoughts, there are a large collection of responses varying with all kinds of messages and support.  These thoughts are truly gold and should help Aviva and others design the very best professional experiences.

Map Out Your Online Course

Continuing on the theme of planning and learning, I offer this post from Tracy Sherriff.

Her context is about an online course …

So where do you start? Well, I always tell my clients to start with creating a mind map. A mind map is really just a visual brain dump of all the things that you could teach about. You can create your mind map on paper or use the digital tool of your choice. Use colour and imagery to enhance your map. It’s actually quite fun!

… and that’s certainly her intent and it makes reading the post worthwhile.

But, what if you opened the door to other things?

Wouldn’t the same principles apply to designing professional learning experiences?

Differentiated Instruction: comparing 2 subjects

There’s differentiation, and then there’s differentiation.  Are they different?

You may not have thought of it in those terms but Mark Chubb has and does in this post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to meet the various needs of students in our classrooms lately. If we think about it, we are REALLY good at differentiated instruction in subjects like writing, yet, we struggle to do differentiated instruction well in subjects like math. Why is this???

The rest of the post will hopefully have you thinking differently about differentiation.  Does one size truly fit all disciplines?

This is a very interesting post and there’s even more rich content in the replies.

Good Leaders Read…A Lot

Perhaps this is the litmus test to apply to those who would be leaders in your life and especially for yourself …

Sue Dunlop asserts that

Great leaders also always seek to improve. They want to learn and to get better. They’re never satisfied with good enough. Reading is part of that continuous improvement. How else can you explore new ideas and create new schema?

Here’s an idea.

For the first staff meeting at the end of August/first of September, instead of going around the room asking “How did you spend your summer holidays?” you ask the question “What did you read over the summer?”.

Don’t let your principal off the hook either.

What Does an Innovating Leader Look Like?

OK, so we’ve established that leaders read.

I challenged Paul McGuire to expand on his thoughts about leadership in education.  And, he delivers in this post.

His perspective is as principal and one of his suggestions surrounds professional learning.

Teachers should be in control of their own learning, just as students need to be in control. Educators need to know that their voice matters and that the running of the school is a collective endeavour.

We’re all familiar with the Annual Learning Plan and hopefully, it’s not become a piece of lip service.  Does the ALP allow for the type of growth that Paul describes?

It’s not an easy scenario to manage.  On the one hand, you have to respect the wishes for teachers and their personal learning.  On the other hand, you have the directives from the Board Office and the Ministry of Education.

How, indeed, does the Innovating Leader make it?

I’m going to continue to challenge Paul on this and have plans to write about my own thoughts.  I think that this is a discussion that can only improve things among leaders.

Nudging the OneNote Staff Notebook Permissions

Long time Evernote user here.  But, I’m giving OneNote another chance this summer.  For me to learn how a new program works, I have to use it exclusively for as many tasks as possible and sometimes struggle when I hit a bump in the road.  In addition, I try to read as much about it as possible.

Part of my morning reads include having a section on Flipboard devoted to OneNote and another very important part of my learning is reading Cal Armstrong’s blog when he shares his tips and trick about the software.

I see so many who use OneNote at such a cursory level.  That would include me, I guess.

In this post, Cal takes us on a tutorial with Staff OneNotes and sharing workspaces.

The post is a good tutorial for how to set this up.  If your school uses OneNote, you might want to take Cal’s post to heart and give it a shot.  If it makes everyone more productive, winners all around!

Please take the time to click through and read all of these posts in their entirety.  There’s great learning to be had.

Did you start or restart a blog this summer?  Please add it to the Livebinder of Ontario Edublogs.