This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s nice to be able to write this blog post knowing that the voicEd show actually worked yesterday unlike last week.

As always, some great thinking from Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on to enjoy.


When your plan is no longer the plan

From Paul McGuire, a post that could well have been titled “The Essence of Teaching”.  In this post, Paul shares with us an incident that happened in his university class.

A student wanted to time to share an issue that he was passionate about with the class and asked for the opportunity to share his insights.

Paul could have said “Sorry, we don’t have time for that” but that wasn’t the right answer.  Issues of the day, lives of students, and in this case, the future for these educators was more relevant and important than any teacher delivered lesson could be.  We talk so often about honouring student voice; here’s a great example.

Sometimes when something is bubbling just under the surface, a teacher has to know it is time to throw the lesson out the window and just let the learning happen.


WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY ABOUT STUDENT MARKS?

Big learning for me this week happened on this post from Stacey Vandenberg on the TESLOntario blog.

The inspiration for the post was a discussion about student marks and whether the teacher or the administrator should have the last say on what mark is assigned.  The context was the PBLA assessment for newcomers to Canada learning English.  I’d never heard of PBLA so did a lot of reading to get caught up to speed.

There is no argument that the instructor is in the class for the duration and is able to assess the ongoing progress and abilities of the students.  The instructor should be in the best possible position to determine the final grade.  And yet, it’s the administrator whose signature vouches for the result.

As noted in the post, it would be a very rare situation when the teacher’s professional judgement should be overruled.  Not only is it educationally sound not to do so, I can’t imagine the lack of enthusiasm for going into work the next day knowing that your abilities have been challenged or overruled.

In this case, I find it interesting that a mark would be assigned.  It seems to me that this is one case where PASS/FAIL would be the best way to report the results.


Another Year and The Unlearning Continues

If I had to go back to high school and take the Humanities, I’d want to be in Rebecca Chambers’ class.  Musty old history books have no place here.  The approach and the topics covered are very progressive and currently relevant.

Just look at a typical week.

  • Mondays – Get Organized
  • Tuesdays – Content Day
  • Wednesdays – Community Outreach
  • Thursdays & Fridays – Passion Project Days

You’ll have to click through and read the details which she fleshes out very nicely.  Of interest to this geeky person is how the use of current technologies is weaved through things.


I DON’T USE TEXTBOOKS

Oh, Melanie Lefebvre, where were you when I was in post secondary school?

It wasn’t until third year that I realized that many of the recommended books and readings that I had accumulated were sitting on my bookshelf largely unused.  The tutorial books, yes.  But the textbooks, nope.

I then realized late in my educational career that the books were available at the library or the bookstore had a used textbook sale where you could buy at the fraction of the cost.

Things definitely could be different today.  So many resources are available online; it’s almost criminal to pay for a textbook.  Not only that, but how dated would that textbook be – factor in the research, writing, publishing, and delivery times.  Melanie is able to use resources that might have been updated yesterday with her approach.

She talks about being accountable for the money that students would pay for textbooks but I think the accountability goes much further in the use of current resources and having students knowing how to access them.

After all, when they graduate and work in the “real world”, there is no textbook available.


Building a Google Site and Relationships with Parents

My admiration and edu-worship for Jennifer Aston went up another notch after reading this post from her.

The post describes an approach that she takes for a Meet the Teacher night.  There are so many ways that this night can be attacked.  Her approach was to create a collection of Centres using Google Sites for the teachers to explore.

It seems to me that this goes beyond “Meet the Teacher”.

  • It shows an approach that could be described as “Meet the Classroom”
  • It shows a level of sophistication in computer use that lets parents know that it will be used in a meaningful way
  • A followup with parents to help inform her direction for communication
  • And, of course, the thing that all parents dread “Kids these days are doing so much more than what we did in our day”

Preserving the Cup

It’s Beth Lyons week around here!  Read the interview with her that I posted yesterday here.

In addition to completing the interview, Beth had time to write a blog post in her thoughtful manner – this time the topic was about self-care.  It’s particularly timely since today (Thursday as I write this) is Mental Health Awareness Day.

A regular school year is always hard for teachers.  With its ups and downs, as Beth notes, you can feel particularly stretched.  And, if you’re feeling that way in the first part of October, what’s it going to be like later in the year?

This fall, of course, is particularly stressful for teachers and education workers with the expiry of collective agreements and the posturing that’s taking place on a daily basis.

Teachers do need to take care of themselves and their colleagues.  After all, you’re together for 8 or more hours a day and should be able to see things and provide the best supports.


THE MEDICINE WHEEL VS MASLOW’S HIERACHY OF NEEDS

As I was monitoring my Twitter network yesterday, the name Liv Rondeau popped by.  This was a new educator for me so I added her to an Ontario Educator list and noticed that she had a blog and web presence so I took it all in.

This post really caught my interest.  I know that it’s over a year old but it was the first time that I had seen it so it was new to me!

The description of the Medicine Wheel and the doors was new to me and so I read it with deep interest.  Liv ties it to Maslow’s Needs which I certainly am well aware of.

Her explanations were well crafted and ultimately brought us into the classroom and servicing the needs of children.

At points, I felt like I was learning Maslow all over again; it was such a different context for me.

Take a poke around the website when you get there.  There is an interesting collection of resources and lesson plans for Grades 5 and 6 available.


Please take some time to click through and enjoy all of these posts at their original site.  Like all weeks, there’s some awesome learning to be had.

And, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • @mcguirp
  • @TESLontario
  • @MrsRChambers
  • @ProfvocateMel
  • @mme_aston
  • @mrslyonslibrary
  • @MissORondeau

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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An Interview with Beth Lyons


Elizabeth Lyons  is a teacher-librarian with Peel Schools and also a mom, wife, reader, maker, and inquiry thinker according to her Twitter Bio.  Our paths have crossed in a few different contexts and her blog is always interesting to read.

Beth

Do you remember when we first met?

Beth: I believe that we met at EdCamp London for the first time. It was actually right at the end of the day, which was unlucky timing! Since then we have “met” a few times virtually through VoicEd Radio and on Twitter. 

Doug:  That’s my memory too.  Thanks to our friend Stephen for introducing us.  How about when our paths first crossed online? That might be a little more difficult.

Beth: That’s a tricky question… I would say that it was definitely on Twitter, perhaps one of your Friday Follow posts. Or from an interview you did with Carol Koechlin. 

Doug:  In fact, you were mentioned in my interview with Carol Koechin (https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/an-interview-with-carol-koechlin/) as a teacher-librarian in the province to keep an eye on.  What do you think makes you stand out in Carol’s eyes?

Beth: First of all, I would like to say that to be mentioned in Carol’s interview was a huge honour. I like to think that Carol mentioned me because I share often about my journey as a teacher-librarian and the transition of our library space to a library learning commons. I’m very open with my learning and progress as I had many people who helped me as I started out on my journey. As part of the transition we adopted a completely open and flexible collaboration schedule and, because I am a 1.0 teacher-librarian, I am able to co-plan and co-teach with the educators in our school on a wide variety of content areas. We have been able to try out new ways of using the makerspace and maker inquiry to connect to our literacy, social studies and science curriculum. 

Doug:  I could see how that would raise Carol’s interest.

It was a delight to have you online with Stephen and me as a guest on the voicEd Radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs this past summer. We featured one of your blog posts on the show.  How was it talking about your own blog instead of just writing a post?

Beth: It was an interesting experience, to be sure. I think it worked nicely because I had written about listening to podcasts as professional development and how it feels as though it has helped me to improve my verbal communication skills. I think, that by listening to podcasts, I am better able to listen to the ideas of others in order to take in their ideas and opinions. Time to reflect is always a good thing in my opinion so it was interesting to go back and talk about my blog post that I had written a number of weeks previously. I really enjoyed the opportunity to connect my thoughts to the blogs of other educators who had written along a similar vein. It’s probably something I am doing each time I read a blog post or a new article but I don’t often get the chance to discuss my ideas with others. 

Doug:  In terms of voicEd Radio, you’re a regular contributor for music selections to Stephen’s Saturday night music show.  He claims you’re his country music expert! Tell me what that means?

Beth: That makes me smile! There was a time when I was younger that I wasn’t always so forthcoming with my love for country music as it didn’t seem “cool”. I suppose as I’ve grown older I am more comfortable with my own taste in music and care less what people think of it. It’s also funny because music isn’t actually one of my biggest hobbies. There are artists and songs that I like and that I will listen to over and over 

Sometimes I will go days without listening to any music at all.

Doug:  We definitely differ there.  I always have to have music on in the background when I’m working, it seems. 

In one of your blog posts, you showed us a picture of your library which you indicated can be easily transformed from one layout to another.  Can you describe for us what that means and how it works?

Beth: So many of the definitions of a “library learning commons” includes the idea that is a flexible space. In our library, most of the shelving and furniture is on wheels which means I can open the space up for an audience of 125 or so students to participate in an author visit, a musical performance, large scale inquiries and more. It also means that I can easily change the layout of our space to highlight different provocations by moving the tables or tinkering stations. We are lucky in that our library learning commons is very large – one side is where the books are mainly stored and the other is a table space that can be used for classes to participate in maker activities and other learning endeavors. This allows for consistent free flow book exchange and collaborative inquiry to happen simultaneously. 

Speaker

Doug:  That is so interesting.  Your comment about “our library” as opposed to “my library” is not lost on me.  I’m always interested when someone shares their philosophy behind their classroom design. 

Beth:  When I first transitioned into the role and was speaking with Jenn Brown she used a great phrase that has stuck with me and helped me to frame my philosophy about being the teacher-librarian. She said (and I’ll be paraphrasing at this point) that “the teacher-librarian curates the library on behalf of the community.” First, I just love how that all sounds together and secondly, it’s very true. The library belongs to the users and in a school that is the students, the educators and our broaded family community.

Doug:  If someone dropped into your library without notice on any given day, what would their first impression be?

Beth: Well, I hope it would be that the students are central in the space. Since moving into the teacher-librarian role, I have worked to help the students and educators see that the library learning commons is a shared space that we are responsible for the care of the books and the space. Students come into the space independently in small groups to exchange their books or interact with one of many stations. We have a variety of building areas, Lego, a light table, loose parts and other provocations set up based on different themes and inquiry questions. Secondly, most people comment on how big and open the space is. The main book area is a large circular room with a beautiful mural painted on it depicting the four seasons. The books shelves protrude off the walls like spokes which creates small nooks for students to read, tinker and explore. We also have a large classroom area set up with tables and a carpet for classes to use during collaborative inquiry or other lessons. This is also where the Genius Cart, which is an open making program we launched last year, is run from. Our collection of maker space materials are housed on the classroom side and available for classes to use as needed. 

Maker

Doug:  What’s missing from your library?

Beth: Tech integration or free tech use. We have 5 iPads and 4 Chromebooks in the library designated for library use. One of my goals this year is to have the tech more freely available for students when they visit the library for projects or other tech exploration.

Doug:  You mentioned above that your teaching load is 100% in the library.  What does this mean for a typical school day?

Beth:  Yes, this is one of the greatest privileges I have as a teacher-librarian. I am not directly responsible for any curriculum as I do not cover any classes and am not required to cover planning times. The biggest benefit of this is that I am in the library learning commons for the full day, every day and, as long as it’s not my planning time, the library is open for free flow book exchange and collaboration. 

Doug:  Just today, you announced that your proposal to speak at the OLA Superconference was accepted.  Congratulations. I’ve presented there twice. It’s an amazing experience. Can you give us a sneak peek about what to expect from your session?  

Beth:  Our presentation is called Snap, Spark, Provoke: Exploring Identity and Text with Provocations and Photography. A number of us in Peel have been working with students to explore their own identity and the identities of others in our communities through photography. We have been using picture books to present a diverse array of cultures and connections to those around us. We will be exploring how, by using hands-on materials (e.g. loose parts) and digital provocations (e.g. photography, photo editing, videos), we can spark inquiry and prompt deeper questions about who we are as humans and how we interact with each other. 

Doug:  Wow, that’s really a unique sounding session.  You’re not presenting alone. How did you connect with your co-presenters?

Beth: I’m presenting with Tina Zita (@tina_zita) and Jane Dennis-Moore (@MsDennisMoore). Tina and I met a number of years ago when she was the Technology Resource Teacher for my school. Since then we have kept in touch through Twitter and at various PD sessions. Last year, Tina was working with another Peel educator looking at selfies, and specifically “unselfies”- that is pictures without a person in it. She messaged a few of us about exploring this idea with students in our buildings. Jane and I had “met” on Twitter previously but this created a space for more lengthy collaboration (and lots of DMs back and forth). We actually created our proposal and submitted for OLASC20 before Jane and I ever met face-to-face!

Doug:  That’s amazing.  I wish the three of you a great session and an opportunity to inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

I know you’re passionate about school libraries.  Can you share some of this with us?

Beth:  Such a big question! I’ve wanted to be a teacher-librarian for just about as long as I can remember. My aunt, who lived next door to me growing up, was a teacher-librarian and I remember that she always had books around her, she always had something cool to teach us, and that she was always talking about kids. My mom was also a huge believer in the public library and we went all the time. I remember reading my way through the entire kids’ section and then asking the librarian what I could read next. My favourite thing about being in the school library is seeing the kid’s excitement. When they come in and find the book they’ve been wanting is in and on the shelf, it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s a similar feeling when they discover a new passion and are blown away to learn that yes, we do have entire section on rocks and minerals and that they can read as many of the books as they like. Watching the students advocate for their own learning and passions is the greatest privilege of being in the school library. 

Gizmos

I also love that the library learning commons is a space from which educators can be co-learners and that, as the teacher-librarian, I am in the place to coach, guide and support my fellow educators. I’ve written about this on my blog before but when you are in the classroom it’s like juggling just about a million balls at one time. You are responsible for multiple curriculums, most likely at multiple grade levels. You have the well-being and mental health of your students to be aware of as well as helping to guide them socially. How do we behave towards each other? How do we create a welcoming and inclusive community. Teachers are constantly assessing, documenting, reflecting, questioning and wondering all about their students and their progress and it doesn’t always leave a lot of time to try out a new and innovative idea. Sometimes it does and many educators are adept at adding a new ball to the juggling act by exploring how they can integrate maker opportunities into their literacy program, how they can teach math from an inquiry stance while integrating social justice issues, etc. But teachers are human and their mental health is important, too. We can’t always be adding and adding to their plate and expect that all the balls will continue to spin perfectly. As the teacher-librarian, I l am able to read up on the newest ideas, to read PD books during the school year and play around with the ideas I get excited about. Being in the Library Learning Commons is a lot about building relationships with both the students and educators in the school. In doing so, I am able to reach out to colleagues that I know are ready to try something new, perhaps are ready to be “pushed” a little beyond what they are already trying but they just haven’t found the time to squeeze it in to the other millions of things they have on the go. This is where the teacher-librarian and the school library can become a place of co-learning. I can be the one to attempt something new with the class and if it flops, it’s on me and I’ll own that in front of the students. I tell kids all the time that we are trying something new and I have no idea what end we might get to. The school library is a place where we can take risks and push ourselves to grow and I take that responsibility seriously. 

Share

Doug:  I’ll ask you the same question I asked of Carol.  If you were shortlisting Ontario Twitter Teacher-Librarian accounts to follow, who would make that list?

Beth: 
Jenn Brown 
@JennMacBrownI had the great luck to work with Jenn at a previous school where she was the teacher-librarian and she has been an invaluable resource and support since I moved into the teacher-librarian role. Jenn consistently pushes me to stretch my thinking and look at ways that I can use my privilege to elevate the voices of others. I always feel that I am learning when I am with Jenn and am proud to also call her a friend. 

Christopher Hunt (not Ontario, but still Canadian!)
@ExLibrisMrHuntI really enjoy following Christopher’s Twitter feed and seeing the new ideas he is trying out. I always come away with new thinking and a new idea I can mull over and see how it might fit in our library space.

Karen Beamish
@KlblibKaren is a fellow Peel TL and I have enjoyed getting to know her via Twitter. We are both interested in integrating the SDGs into our library programming and I like seeing what she’s trying out. 

Rabia Khokhar
@rabia_khokhar1–  I love seeing what Rabia is up to in the library space and how she is working to bring in diverse voices through picture books and inquiries with her students. She is an excellent example in how school libraries can be at the forefront of social justice and equity issues. 

Geoff Ruggero
@MrRuggeroI really enjoy the maker based provocations and learning that Geoff often tweets about and his wide variety of reading. Lately, he’s been tweeting each of the books he’s read as part of a 50 Book Challenge and although I don’t often share my thoughts on books (beyond just saying I love it), I do really enjoy learning about new books through other educators. 

Doug:  Thank you for that!  I just found some new people to follow on Twitter.

Your blog is called “The Librarian’s Journey”.  That’s an interesting title. Where did your “journey” start and where is it headed?  How will you know when you get there?

Beth: I think my journey started as a child when I first started visiting libraries. In terms of actually being a teacher-librarian, I have had the honour of working in a number of schools with great teacher-librarians over the course of my time teaching. I always looked for opportunities to co-plan and co-teach and learn from the time spent with those teacher-librarians. To be honest I’m not really sure where my journey is headed. I am exploring opportunities to work more closely with the Ontario School Library Council and am planning to submit an action research paper for Treasure Mountain 2020. Beyond that, I am still very much invested in the transition of the library learning commons at my school and meeting the goals we have set for ourselves. Do we ever “get there” with our learning? I hope not. I hope that I never stop learning and growing. Each time we reach a goal that has been set or reflect on a goal that needs to be reworked, it’s an opportunity to continue and stretch as an educator and as a human. 

Doug:  On the voicEd show, I mentioned how I find it difficult to read your blog posts because of your formatting.  It seems to me that’s a pretty intentional move. Can you explain?

Beth: It’s definitely intentional as I centre my writing on purpose. I find that as I am writing there are certain phrases and ideas that I want to highlight or linger on for my own thinking and reflection. I like how I can create blocks of text that connect together or separate an idea off to the side. I’m sorry that you find it hard to read. I could always send you a doc with everything formatted with a left alignment! LOL

Doug:  No, you don’t have to do that.  I just find that your style forces me to slow down as I’m reading.  Not all blogs do that to me. Regardless, your blog always has interesting posts and well worth a regular visit to see what you’re talking about next.  Thanks for doing that. Are you inspired by other blogs?

Beth: I think lately we all need something to slow us down…  I do really enjoy reading blogs and learning from other people’s points of view but I have found that I’m at a point right now that it’s not something I make a priority, to be honest. I do try to read Aviva Dunsiger’s blog (and really all her posts on both Twitter and Instagram!) as well as Diana Maliszewski’s. I love Aviva’s approach to documenting her students’ learning and her wonderings/reflections. She is definitely an educator that I hope to meet one day. I admire Diana’s dedication to always blogging on Mondays about her thoughts and learning from the previous week. I wish that I was able to formulate my thoughts each week into a blog post and have that kind of commitment to my writing. 

Doug:  Most definitely, those two blogs are great exemplars.  Thanks for sharing them. No pressure at all has been placed on Aviva or Diana!

Thank you so much for interview, Beth.  It was fun to find out a little more about you and your educational passions.

You can get or stay connected with Beth through:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mrslyonslibrary
Blog:  https://thelibrariansjourney.blogspot.com/

This post is part of a series of blog posts that I conduct regularly with interesting people like Beth.  You can check out previous interviews here: https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, as noted yesterday, it’s been a tough couple of days. As it turns out, despite all of the troubleshooting undertaken, the voicEd Radio edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs ended up not being saved. Such are the challenges of live radio.

Never fear though – today is another day and here’s the blog version with the five posts that Stephen and I had a nice chat about and a couple of more.


Class Size and Composition Matters

On the ETFO Heart and Art blog, Deb Weston shares her thoughts backed with plenty of research and a lesson in history about classrooms. The key message is right up front.

Much has changed in the last few years with the promotion of student integration and inclusion of special education students into mainstream classrooms. This integration policy further resulted in closures of contained classrooms thus limiting alternate options for students with significant learning and behaviour needs.

I’m not sure who her intended audience is with this. Those who go to a classroom later today know what realities and challenges they face. Old timers like me will remember self-contained classrooms and even schools where specialized teachers could intensively help every student. We knew that not every student had the same pathway.

That’s not the reality today. In a few years, there will be teachers that will just have to listen to the stories of the good ol’ days. I certainly hope that Teacher Education is staying abreast of this; I know that my Faculty days didn’t cover anything about how to deal with such classrooms.

I think that the most shameful part of this post is the recognition of some parents that they can’t wait for the school system to test students for appropriate modifications and are paying for it themselves.

Students, Education Assistants, Teachers, Parents, Principals, School Districts are all aware of the challenges. It seems that it’s the province which guides the funding isn’t. Or isn’t listening.


Exam

Well, you know what they say about paybacks!

Amanda Potts takes a little retro-educational trip to take a course for upgrading. Kudos to her for that.

But, there’s one thing. Assessment, er, final exam!

Three hours of it.

I haven’t written a three hour exam since university so I felt for her. My most striking memory was hating those that finished early and got up and left. Are they really that much smarter than me?

Writing the exam at home bring in modern comforts like a tea for company during the time period but that also brings up new challenges.

I’ll admit to smiling when she describes the exam and how she attacks it just like we tell students to. Nobody starts on question 1 and then moves on. You plan strategically as she describes.

There are a couple of takeaways.

I’m lucky because I know I did well, but I have renewed empathy for my exam-hating students.

So congratulations to her and let’s hope that her “exam-hating students” will be the recipient of a different form of final assessment.


Digital Breakouts Using Google Forms

The concept of the breakout room has been big over the past couple of years. And, if is good enough to gain the attention of the general public, why not the classroom?

Shelly Vohra shares how she implemented a breakout strategy with her students. I think there’s a great deal of value for those of you who are considering this because Shelly describes step by step how she implemented things when she did it.

Since it has a digital component, Shelly used Google Forms as a strategic tool to do the deed. If Google products are used regularly, technology wouldn’t get in the road and mess things up.

There, except for a combination, lies the prize.

She describes a successful venture with her class.

Would such an approach work for you? Check out this site for even more details.


O is for Outside the Box

I’m not sure when I first heard the expression about “thinking outside the box” but I’m pretty sure that if I had a dollar for every time I heard it, I’d be fairly wealthy.

Lynn Thomas goes way beyond the superficial treatment often given by keynote speakers. Quite frankly, it’s used with the intent to inspire but I don’t know that it ever worked for me. I was always looking for exciting things to do; without them teaching can be a pretty boring profession. When you inspire students with thoughts about different things from a progressive and creative teacher, good things happen.

Have you ever seen a child take a big box and turn it into the coolest fort ever? No one said your box had to or should remain as is, using the box in a new way is all it takes.

I love the fact that she encourages you to consider that box and might have some success just modifying the box!

Of course, my focus is typically about technology and I think an Exhibit A might be those Breakout lessons described above.


Feeling the Ground by Getting Some Air

Terry Greene apparently has a fan club and members of that club asked him to blog on the WCET Frontiers website.

In this blog post, he shares the what, who, and how of his passion for podcasting.

What – just what is a podcast and why would someone want to create something like this? In particular what is “Gettin’ Air”, Terry’s podcast.

Who – now he’s just name dropping! Terry gives some indication of people he’s talked to and why. I like his criteria – Every one of my guests does important, interesting, and fabulous work

How – for the uninitiated, Terry shares his tools of the trade. Podcasting really isn’t a new thing and I had to smile thinking about the Snowball microphone. I used one of those in the 2000s. The problem I always had for long stints talking was feeling that I was nailed to the chair in one position because you don’t want to fade in and out!

I was glad to read that Terry is continually planning for the future. It will be interesting to see what he has in mind.


If we want our students to (insert word) it starts with us

Before I even read Jonathan So’s blog post, I tried a few different words – succeed, pass, win – of course, I used positive words.

Then, I read the post and got his message. Dare I say he’s thinking “out of the box”?

So, as a premise as both a parent and teacher he wonders how he can get students to try new things and will he have better success if he’s trying new things himself?

It’s an interesting concept that had me asking a couple of questions…

  • do the kids or students actually have to see you experience those new things or is just knowing that you doing them are good enough?
  • does trying something new give you empathy for something else – like, oh, writing a three hour exam, for example

Every now and again you’ll hear about the “need to fail in order to succeed”. I think the message here goes much further than that – there’s a meeting of the minds taking place that raises the stake significantly.


Slice of Life: Published

Really short blog post here by Lisa Corbett and I’ll summarize it.

She wrote something and got paid for it.

The comments to her post are much longer than Lisa’s actual post. That’s always a good thing.

You can fact check me if you wish but I’d bet real money that Tolstoy’s first writing wasn’t “War and Peace”.

In Lisa’s case, I can see all kinds of things.

  • she’s now published – things like that are important for resumes
  • her ego just got stroked – someone likes her stuff enough to publish it
  • she’s going to be more likely to write something publishable again
  • a whole lot of people that Lisa doesn’t know just read her thoughts
  • she’s on her way to being an authorative voice in another medium beyond her blog(s)
  • she probably had a professional proofreader to make her content look masterful
  • that ice cream is going to taste extra special

So, congratulations, Lisa! Remember us little guys struggling to write blog posts on your way up the publishing ladder.


What a lovely collection of blog posts! There’s a great deal of terrific writing and a little something there for everything. Please take the time to click through and read the original posts.

Follow these people on Twitter:

  • @dr_weston_PhD
  • @Ahpotts
  • @raspberryberet3
  • @thomlynn101
  • @greeneterry
  • @MrSoclassroom
  • @LisaCorbett0261

I’m sorry that the radio version didn’t go live. You missed Stephen with a bad case of the hiccups.

The blog post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Wow, it’s still dark outside as I write this and I read about a winter storm warning for Alberta for today. Could it be?


GO! Explore!

Me commenting on Peter Cameron’s post could have two things happen.

  1. More people get involved with Peter’s current project
  2. The project gets so big that it becomes unmanageable

Of course, there’s a third option but I’d prefer not to think about it.

Peter has been known for a while for initiating and getting involved with projects that extend his classroom walls – a long way. I’m a big fan of the ideas that he has and how he shares them so openly.

This time, he’s sharing an exploration project world-wide where classes check in

Seeking Ts interested in establishing an explorer mindset with their students

Click through to see how you can get involved. The mapping aspect of the results is really intriguing to me and I look forward to seeing this project unfold.


Reflection and Self-indulgence

Much has been written and said about the concept of #EDUknowns and #EDUcelebrities.

In this post, Jennifer Brown shares her thoughts on the issue. I found the post to be very open with her thoughts and interesting to think about her perspective. She’s also brutally honest and I’ve never seen any of the social media compatants mention this at all…

But I also enjoy the attention that posting gives me.  I appreciate the comments, the “likes”, the retweets. My ego is fuelled by these digital interactions. Posting THIS is an inherently self-indulgent act.

So, are all of us who are active on social media guilty at some level in this?

Does it make a difference when there’s money involved for some and not for others?

While I don’t have any t-shirts to sell, I’m currently wearing a Tilley shirt that is no longer available for sale on their site. I wonder if I can promote it and sell it on social media?


School year start up

From the ETFO Heart and Art blog comes an interesting post from Kelly McLaughlin.

Now, given everything that is currently happening in the province, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to complain about the way things are shaping up. She does anything but complain.

Instead, she share a story about the great things that are happening in her start to the school year. There’s a really positive collection of things and ideas. But one really caught my attention.

I have offered students homework to complete every night which will help them prepare for grade nine. 19 out of the 26 students have taken this homework and completed it each night

Now, kids are not immune to what’s going on and couldn’t be blamed for acting accordingly but this success is remarkable. After all, beyond the fact that kids are kids, it’s been a wonderfully warm fall. I’m not sure that, even if I was that age, I would be concerned about next year’s Grade 9 this early in Grade 8. I’d still be outside swimming, biking, playing football, … until the sun went down.

I hope that the success rate continues. Hopefully, she shares updates with us.


Leadership & Goal Setting for Math Learning

You can’t help but feel a bit smarter every time that Deborah McCallum blogs and you read it. I feel that way about this post.

I’ll admit that whenever someone else mentions “Goal Setting”, I pause and the hair goes up on the back of my neck. Methinks someone just went to a seminar and is now prepared to let me know ways that I can improve myself.

It’s not that I don’t set goals personally. I do it all the time. It’s a way that I ensure that I don’t lose sight of the prize and that I’m not spinning my wheels and wasting time. And, after all, if you don’t know where you’re headed, how will you know when you get there?

She nails my thoughts about going beyond working with myself.

I find it can also be very difficult to co-construct goals sometimes.

Maybe it’s the thought that I have to be judgy or maybe that I have to be accountable to someone else. But Deborah’s post does make me feel that there is rationale and reason for wanting to give this a shot.

Then, she takes the topic to mathematics and offers a scenario for all teachers. I like what she has to say.


Wondering About WHMIS: When Compliance Training Makes You Reflect On Assessment & Evaluation

It was with a goofy mindset that I dug into Aviva Dunsiger’s post. I tried to think of all of the great WHMIS sessions that I’ve attended over the years.

And drew a blank.

I remember my first one and this will date me. I went with a friend of mine who was a science teacher and gave me the advice “Don’t drink the ditto fluid”.

Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to the importance of WHMIS but Aviva takes us on a trip about assessment and delivery that hasn’t kept up with the current thoughts. In her district, she must score 80% on a test within three attempts. (she doesn’t share the consequences though)

I do like the thinking of Aviva and her principal about assessment, evaluation, and testing. Could the same principles be applied board wide on WHMIS training? Despite everything, it can’t be an easy job certainly without the supports everyone else has.


Snowbirds

It was kind of a big event around here a couple of weeks ago…

Snowbirds to make a Windsor fly-in visit Thursday

Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day. I’ve never seen them take off or land so whether they do it in formation remains a secret to me!

Peter Beens grabbed his good camera and headed out to take some photos when they visited Niagara Falls recently. This post has a link to a Google Photos collection where Peter shows off his photography expertise with some really good pictures.

Do yourself a favour and check them all out. You’ve got to admire the clarity and crispness of the images.

Thanks, Peter Beens

This is definitely going to be a great way to start your day.


Hallway Connections: Autism and Coding via @maggiefay_

On his blog, Brian Aspinall shares the news of Maggie Ray releasing the book she has written dealing with Autism and Coding.

“Follow Lucas and Liam’s coding adventure as they make a new friend! Lucas and Liam have been assigned a coding project by their teacher. At first they are more excited about working in the hallway than doing the project, until they meet Lily, a girl who has autism. The boys learn that not everyone communicates in the same way, but with the hallway coding activity, making friends is easy and fun!”

Now, I haven’t read the book but the whole premise not only sounds interesting but sounds important. I think we all have seen students in the hallway working on coding activities. But the element of inclusion of all students makes me wonder if this isn’t a book that should be in the libraries of every school in the province.


And, there’s your Friday collection of great writing from around the province. Please click through and enjoy the original posts.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • @cherandpete
  • @jennmacbrown
  • @Bigideasinedu
  • @avivaloca
  • @pbeens
  • @mraspinall
  • @maggiefay_

This post appears on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday everyone. And, it’s a 13th too. And a full moon to boot. Actually a “micro” Harvest Moon. In football, we call it “piling on”. Read about it here.

But you can tough it out.

Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy some posts from these fabulous Ontario Edubloggers.


Minding the Children

OK, I’ll confess to be guilty of doing this.

Sharing memes in June about sending kids back to their parents or in late September about parents shipping kids back to school.

In this post, Sheila Stewart suggests that doing so is not the best of ideas.

I am also not sure if such humour does much to support working relationships and respect between teachers and parents.

I guess I never saw it much more than a bit of fun poking at our profession. I’ve never really thought of them as serious; more of a look at reality in the school year.


This Blog is not Dead it’s…

I guess I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief when Jennifer Aston indicated that she hadn’t abandoned things – she was just carrying through on promises to a family about not doing school work in July.

I don’t think it’s an unfair demand; after all, kids deserve family time which can be so difficult to find during the school year between working, after school professional learning, coaching, and so much more. Why not demand a little mom time during the summer.

I’m not surprised that many of her activities mirrored what my summers were like when my kids were younger – going to the beach, going to swimming lessons, potty training, but I drew the line at soccer. My kids were baseball/softball players! (Still are)

Read the post; many bloggers would have made this into a number of smaller posts but Jennifer throws her entire summer at us.

And, she’s promising to get back on the blogging scene again. Great!


L’ADN d’un leader

This is an interesting post from Joel McLean, again about leadership.

He talks about the DNA of a leader and ties in the 17 basic abilities identified by John Maxwell.

From the 17, Joel identifies three specifically and expands on them.

  • Ability to think
  • Creativity ability
  • Production capacity

The call to action is to question yourself, if you see yourself as a leader, about how you would increase these abilities.

I’m curious though about his use of the term DNA. To me, DNA is part of your make up and not something that you can change. (I watch a lot of Law & Order). To me, it begs the question. If these skills are truly DNA, can you actually change them? Maybe an idea for a future post, Joel?

With a little tongue in cheek, maybe blood tests replace interviews?


Exploring Classroom Expectations while using WipeBook Chart Paper

Congratulations to Joe Archer…he entered a contest and won a WipeBook Flipchart. It’s part of a series of products you can find here. http://www.wipebook.ca.

Joe talks about the product, but more importantly, talks about how he uses it with his class. For me, it’s the description of the pedagogy that is exciting.

At times, and for selfish purposes, that can be overlooked when people go product bashing.

I can’t help but think about the high profile keynote speakers a few years ago who went on a rant a few years about about Interactive Whiteboards. Like anything in the classroom, they can be used well or poorly. It’s not the product itself; it’s how it’s used. “Oh, and buy my book.”

I remember years ago in my planner having a write-on cleanable whiteboard page along with the traditional paper. In my mind, the paper was good for notes that I thought would be “permanent” whereas the erasable product was more transient in how I used it. My use mirrors somewhat the classroom activity that Joe describes.

I also like the fact that Joe uses the expression “Exploring”. It conveys a message that he’s doing his own research into the product and not just following the crowd.


A Career Marked by Change: Learning the Big Lessons in Some Small Places

Debbie Donsky takes on a new role this September and uses her blog to reflect on a career – so far anyway…

I’ll confess that I was expecting something different from her title when she made reference to “small places”. I had thought that she’d be referring to the small communities that school can be in the middle of big towns or cities. But, I was wrong.

Instead, she takes the opportunity to identify 15 Big Lessons and develops each along with a picture or two.

I could identify with most of the 15 but there were three that really resonated.

  • Be where you are – reminded me of my first trips to schools as a consultant – none of them are the same and you are most effective when you recognize that
  • Be authentic – especially with kids – they have a sixth sense when you’re faking it
  • Everyone you meet can help you – and reciprocate! Together we’re better

For more Debbie Donsky, read my interview with her here.


Goodnight, World

This is the latest review of a book from the CanLit for Little Canadians blog authored by Helen Kubiw.

I’m always astounded when I talk to Language teachers or Teacher-Librarians as to how connected and insightful they are with new books or ones that have been around for a while.

The latest reviews include:

  • Goodnight, World
  • The Starlight Claim
  • Harvey Comes Home
  • Spin

Violence in Ontario Schools

There have been a number of articles released in the traditional media about a report identifying the grown of violence in Ontario schools. Sadly, the articles are not very deep except to report their sources. Then, they move on.

On the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston takes a really deep dive on this. Not only does she identify the research but she shares her insights about the issue.

She notes that there are no quick and easy solutions. In particular, she addresses a couple of the techniques often given as solutions to the problem.

Self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do help some students develop their social and emotional capacity but self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do not compensate for the myriad of causes and complex intersectionality of environmental, developmental, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, and mental health needs that may be at the root of students’ behavioural outcomes.

I would encourage all teachers to read this and look at the implications. I would also suggest that the worst thing that you could do is to ignore incidents. They need to be reported so that they can be addressed, not just in your classroom, but Ontario’s school system at large.


Like any Friday, there are always wonderful thoughts and ideas shared by Ontario Educators. Please take the time to read all seven of these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

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

  • @sheilaspeaking
  • @mme_aston
  • @jprofNB
  • @ArcherJoe
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @HelenKubiw
  • @dr_weston_PhD

This post originally appeared on this blog:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As we head deeper into September, there’s no doubt that autumn is on its way. From Fall Fairs to cooler nights, you can’t question it. And, of course, crickets.

It’s a wonderful time to be outside though. It’s one of my favourite times of the year. When you’re inside however, check out some of these blog posts from Ontario Educators.


A Self-Reg Look At “Preparing Kids”: Is It Time To Change The Conversation?

On the Merit Centre blog, Aviva Dunsiger shares her thoughts about the concept of preparing kids for the next grade. She takes on the role of student, teacher, and parent and builds the case about the stressors that she sees with each of these groups.

It’s an interesting concept to tackle. I would suggest, though, that our school model isn’t set up to fully embrace the concept of looking ahead. After all, every grade and every subject has expectations that need to be addressed. We’re not a big continuum from K-12.

I had to smile when I looked back on an experience that I had teaching Grade 9 Mathematics. There was a small collection of students that were obvious in their lacking of skills from Grade 8. Upon further research, their elementary school had a history of being weak in Mathematics. I was advised by my department head that I needed to do some catch up work with them. So, for a few weeks, they got to dine with me in an empty classroom. It was actually kind of fun to help them fill in the gaps but I can’t imagine the increased stress that they had knowing that they were behind classmates and had to give up lunch with friends for lunch with their new friend.

I like how Aviva notes that the focus should be on the child and, while she doesn’t explicitly state it, she’s talking about differentiation or customization to help each student achieve. And that, after all, is why teachers get the big bucks.


2019-20: Persistence and Possibility

If there’s a class in the province that I’d love to audit, it’s Tim King’s. Why?

Well, just read this post. He took a couple of classes over the summer including one dealing with Cyber Operations. I’m fearful that, with the lack of direction in some districts, kids are just tap, tap, tapping on their iPads and calling it technology integration. You have but to just read the technology news to know that it’s an increasingly ugly world out there. How are you supposed to keep up? Are you preparing your students for heading out into that world?

Tim is.

I can’t help but remark what a terrific learning experience Tim’s students had with a guest from IBM coming in to work with them and the Watson AI.

Check out his entire post and ask if you’re school is providing this opportunity for your students. If not, why not?


First Week of Math: Resources to help make connections & build relationships

If I had to guess what resources that teachers of MBF3C wanted, I might have guessed:

  • new textbooks
  • better worksheets
  • higher end technology

Not so, according to Heather Theijsmeijer.

They wanted ways to connect with the students and build a good learning relationship. My suggestions above would be anything but, I think.

To assist, in this post, Heather provides links to a number of resources from a who’s who in modern mathematics instruction, including Ontario educator Jon Orr.

Follow the links for some truly inspirational ideas. I’ll step out on a limb and indicate that, with a little customization, they could apply in other areas other than Mathematics.


Teachers tell stories

Confession time here … I booked this post from Albert Fong a little too quickly. I saw the August 15 part and tucked it away for the voicEd show and this post.

What I hadn’t noticed was the year! The post was from a year ago. During our live show, Stephen Hurley made a comment that the post look familiar. I guess I thought that it was as well. But, I still like the concept as a Business educator and the Entrepreneurship shown along with the teacher Q&A of a student baking cookies.

So, yeah, it’s a year old and I’ll apologize for the timeliness (actually it’s previously made this blog here). But, I won’t apologize for the content and message. It’s still as good as ever!


Snippets #1

beens.org has long been a destination for me to see what Peter Beens is doing in his classroom. Now, he’s registered beens.ca and is taking a new direction.

Welcome to the first of hopefully a series of “snippets” blog posts. I have to admit I’m poaching the idea from @dougpete with his “My Week Ending” series [example]. My life seems to be too hectic to publish “real” posts so let’s see if this works as an alternative.

I like the concept and it dovetails on my philosophy of learning nicely. If I learn something of value, why not share it in case it’s of value to someone else? If it isn’t, they can just ignore it.

I’ve got to believe though, that when Peter’s Solo EV arrives, it will generate a “real” post (whatever that is!)


New Beginnings, New Adventures

Paul McGuire has been busy this summer with his participation in the Climb for Kids and a couple of recent posts share his thoughts and images about the climb.

However, the latest post reveals a complete change in his life. He’s going back to school.

Not as a student though. He’s going to work at the University of Ottawa and in the Faculty of Education. That’s going to be an immense change.

This blog is about to get much busier. When life takes a radical change learning happens that really should be accompanied by reflection. Things now are so new I really don’t know enough to reflect, but I think that will change pretty quickly.

That’s great news for those of us who follow him on his blog. We’ll look forward to the things that he’s about to share.


No First Day Jitters This Year!

Things are about to change with Brenda Sherry as well. It’s not a return to books and other things for her…

She’s not headed back to a traditional school which she notes she has done for so many years. Instead, it’s education in a different direction.

This isn’t to say that jitters might not be coming, but from a different direction. You’ve got this, Brenda.

I wish her all the success with this very ambitious future.


Please take the time to visit these blog posts and check out the sharing from these terrific Ontario Educators.

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

  • @Self_Reg (@avivaloca)
  • @tk1ng
  • @HTheijsmeijer
  • @albertfong
  • @pbeens
  • @mcguirp
  • @brendasherry

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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