This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I almost did it again.  Instead of “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”, I started to type the title as “The Week in Ontario Edublogs”.  I’ve done it before and that’s why this post’s numbering doesn’t reflect the actual number of times I’ve written this post.  Sigh.  Let’s just say I’ve written it a lot.

And here’s what I was excited to read this week.

An Alternative To A School Cellphone Ban

After a bit of a dry spell, Andrew Campbell is back blogging.  What caught my eye about this post was that he claimed that the Premier made reference to it on social media.

As Andrew notes, this isn’t a problem that schools have created, it’s one that parents and students have brought into schools with them.  So, Andrew offers the simplistic solution – have parents make students keep the devices at home.

I suppose that such a simplistic approach is doable.  After all, there are other things that are not allowed in schools and there are heavy handed consequences for doing so.  The same could apply to cellphones.

I think back to my schooling and we actually had to purchase a sliderule for use in school.  One of the wealthier kids in the class came with an electronic calculator and was absolutely forbidden to use this device which gave exact answers in favour of using a device that approximated the answer.

Calculators were introduced with some folks screaming about the demise of civilization (at least the Mathematics part of it) and yet these devices are just taken for granted these days.

I suspect that years from now, people will look back and laugh at how we anguished over the issue of BYOD and bringing powerful and enabling devices into the classroom.  The issue they might be debating could be about whether reading about Einstein or interacting with a holograph is more educationally sound.

Back To The Map Of Canada: What Do You Do With That 2%?

This post from Aviva Dunsiger brought me back nightmares about quicky PD sessions given in staff meetings.  Often they’re about 15 minutes long, totally out of context for me at least and ultimately we wrote them off as filler.

As you read Aviva’s post, you can visualize her heart rate climbing as a result of anxiety.  I’m surprised that she didn’t bring in something to do with self-regulation.

Personally, I can recall such PD sessions where I got my colours done in that 15 minutes to tell me that my learning style was something other than what I thought.  Then, there was the time we all had to sing and, believe me, you don’t want to hear me sing.  After the meeting I approached the superintendent and offered to lead a session to have everyone create a program and was turned down.  I guess there are priorities.

It seems to me that doing something in a staff meeting with teachers from various grades and subject areas is actually a very hard task.  It needs to be generic enough to be meaningful enough to everyone and yet valuable enough to justify the time devoted to it.

Not an easy task.

This week we did…something

It’s the time of year for Progress Reports – the things that go home in advance of Report Cards.  There was a time when these were a quick glimpse about socialization and a status report on work habits.  Now, they’re substantially more than that.

This post from Lisa Corbett paints an interesting picture of the challenge of making something worthwhile at this time of year, given her approach to the teaching and learning done in her class so far.

Because of the work I’m doing to spiral in math this year I am feeling like I don’t have a lot of things to use for comments on progress reports. I’ve decided to focus my commenting on some of the mathematical process skills.

I think that, when you read it, you’ll empathize with her plight.

Perhaps for the Mathematics subject area, she could just put a link to this post in the student progress report and have the parents read what’s going on here.

Focus on Trees – Part One

Absolutely every now and again, it’s really important to take a look at the learning environment and that’s what Ann-Marie Kee does here.  In particular, she identifying various trees and their significance on her school property.

Could you do that?

I think to some of the new builds where a bulldozer comes in and flattens everything and a boxy school building appears.  A little later, perhaps some grass and a few trees as part of a planting or community partnership.

You’d never be able to say this with that approach.

I think of our trees as keepers of our culture.

And, I just have to include this.

Preserving the Cup

Skip to the end and Beth Lyons says it well.

But our educators can not pour from an empty cup.

One of the things that Beth has observed is that this year is a bit different from others.  She claims to be an optimist but is struggling to have optimistic thoughts these days.

She sees teachers stretched thin already.  Herself included.  And, it’s only October.

Who better than a teacher-librarian who has interactions with every staff member in the school to make that observation?

Is there a magic potion that can be taken to turn this around?  I think we all know that the answer is no.  I can’t help but wonder if the recent election hasn’t contributed heavily to this – we live in a time when positive messages take a back seat to the negative.  It has to take a toll.

Caring for others is important but Beth notes many times that it’s also important to take care of yourself.  It’s not being selfish.

We need to get beyond that.


Peter Beens is participating in very active pieces of personal learning.  Earlier this week, I noted that he was part of the WordCamp in the Niagara Region?  This is different.

When you click through, you’ll see that this whole project is very comprehensive. Much like other challenges like the 30 days of photography challenges, Peter has to work on something every day. He’s doing so and documenting it.

You’ll also click through to see the activities and Peter sharing his notes on his work.



And, finally, a new Ontario Blogger. This is from Indigenous Awareness.

Essentially, this post is a summary of positions about Indigenous issues from the major political parties in Canada. When I first read it, I was feeling badly that I hadn’t read it in advance of the election.

And yet, now that we have a minority government in place, perhaps the messages and positions from the parties are even more important. Will they be held accountable?

By themselves, each of the parties have shared their positions. But, since no one party will be able to pass legislation without assistance from another, looking for common threads or close to common threads might be a good indication of what might happen.

As I say every week, please take the time to click through and read these posts in their original form. There is great thinking and sharing of ideas there.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter to stay on top of their future thinking.

  • @acampbell99
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • @pbeens
  • @indigenousawrns

This post appeared originally on:

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

News, then and now

Well, the election is now over.  How did things go in your neck of the woods?

We had a change in our Member of Parliament.  We went from Orange to Blue.

Like many Canadians, I suspect, I was channel surfing last night to see the various election coverages.  I lost count of the number of times that the CTV coverage explained the colours on the scoreboard on the bottom of the screen.  I remember thinking that if that had to be explained to you, then maybe you shouldn’t be able to vote.

Digitally, I like to stay on top of the news and last night was no different.  In addition to the television, I had my laptop open monitoring things.  I’ve been playing around with a new news resource, Newsola.  It claims to be based upon NewsMap according to the link in the bottom right corner.  NewsMap relies on Flash but Newsola doesn’t so that was refreshing and it ran it my browser without intervention on my part.

Instead of providing you with one story, Newsola provides you with them all.  Or, at least, what fits on the screen.  Bigger and brighter means more relevancy.  As I sat back to watch things, I knew I was going to write this post so I took a screen capture roughly at 8:00pm.

Of course, the first thing that I did was change the country to Canada and the topic area to National … it would have been tough coverage without that!

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 8.11.25 PM

After I captured the screen shot, I clicked on the “Auto refresh” to have the stories refresh themselves without my intervention.

This morning about 8:00am, I reloaded to see the latest.

Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 8.37.35 AM

The news kept flowing nicely which was a nice testament to this product.  For full details about how it works, click on the About link at the top of the screen.

Now, National isn’t the only category that you can select for stories.  If you’re into monitoring, Technology, there’s a button for that.  Just know that the selections are additive so unchecking a category that you don’t want can be really helpful.


It’s that time of the season

It was great to see my former superintendent on the evening news last night although the content might lead you to believe that it was a slow news day.

Parents encouraged to focus more on teacher’s comments in report cards

The standard message, as long as I can remember, has always been that there should be no surprises on report cards. Parents are encouraged to be in contact with teachers early and often if there are difficulties. Similarly, we as teachers, were always told to make that early contact should we think there are or will be problems.

The last report card of the year is always sort of a strange beast. Unlike reports issued earlier in the year, this really is a summary of a year’s efforts and in many cases the last academic contact as a student moves on to a new grade and teacher and the teacher may have changes in their assignment for the fall.

Lest you think that report card season is just another day in the life, turn to social media to read reports about all of the effort that goes into the preparation of these things by teachers. Plus, they need to be done well in advance of the end of the year so that they may be proofread by the administration of the school before being sent home.

Clara’s message is so important and true. Teachers agonize over the creation of the reports and do their absolute best in the comment area to complete the picture partially painted by the grade assigned.

It sure brings back memories of report card support for this former computer consultant. It was a superintendent before Clara who thought that it would be a good idea to get in early on pilots from the Ministry of the Electronic Report Card. As a system, we’d had pretty good success with the Curriculum Planner so I guess we were up for another success! We still meet up for a coffee every now and again and have a good laugh at the challenges this created for us and the system.

My life became consumed with the implementation of this thing. It didn’t go easily for a number of reasons…

  • not every teacher had a home computer at the time so often it was the school computer – locked down with data stored on a file server – that was the primary tool
  • not every teacher initially had the set of tools necessary at the time to know about these storage locations, the need to import and export data to move to a new computer to complete or submit their efforts
  • even those who had home computers might not have had the horse power or reliability to be successful there despite the promises. Plus, the media had to be found at school and then brought home for installation
  • Macintosh at home, Windows at school, what could go wrong?
    Mental Note: Arial ≠ Helvetica ≠ Arial
  • does anyone remember diskettes?! enough said
  • well, maybe not quite enough, the really brave would try to work “from diskette” rather than from the fileserver. Again, what could go wrong?
  • the program itself wasn’t always reliable – crashes were common
  • support was great – you could call Doug at work anytime and at home too – he had no life. Actually, it was my kids who lost their social life with the home phone being tied up all the time. (I even know when it’s report card these days with email and more phone calls!)
  • workshops (and there were many) actually went very well because there was only one class to work with – not real life, for example, where the music teacher had to exchange information with the home room teacher
  • I had to earn credibility too! After all, I had a secondary school background where we “just entered a grade and picked a comment from 1-10” (Hah!)

And there were probably more things too if I put my mind to remembering them. When all was said and done, the CAITs and I got a system through the pilot and then the formal implementation. A knowledge bank of common tasks turned out to be so helpful.

Once we felt like we’d been successful, we turned to other areas! Early Years’ Report Card (we wrote our own) and then a electronic commercial product for secondary schools.

But, throw all this aside, and lets go back to the comments. The report card had the ability to use comment banks which sounded really appealing at first. The reality was that each teacher was very professional and wanted to live up to the promise of truly personalized comments for students and mostly ignored that feature. This was done despite many not having keyboarding expertise and frequent crashes of the program.

So, I concur completely with Clara’s comments about teachers’ comments being “rich and valuable”. It was always my experience that they were all that. Everyone knows that there is so much work in making report cards a success. In the beginning, success was achieved just by getting them done. (Some ended up being handwritten to make that happen) Now, success is better defined by the communication tool that the report card was always supposed to be. Parents should be encouraged all the time to view it that way.

These days, the actual software has changed and matured from those early days. But that’s just the tool. Teacher use has become more sophisticated and accurate in reporting. By itself, that’s the biggest win.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s starting to look a lot like Spring around here.  Muddy yard and foggy mornings offer a promise of what is to come.

And, since it’s Friday, it’s time to take a wander around the province to see what thoughts are being shared by Ontario Edubloggers.

Class size changes – my perspective

The announcement from the Minister of Education sure closed off the March Break on a certain tone and got teachers into thinking about what this actually means.

The first thing I read from a blogger was this post from Ian McTavish who went to the province’s Open Data initiative to pull secondary school enrolment figures, by district, and then did his own analysis on how many fewer teachers would be in secondary school classrooms by the time things are fully implemented.

He “shows his work” in the form of a Google Spreadsheet that is viewable by all via the link in his post.  His answer – well, you’ll have to click through and check his work.  That’s a lot of teaching positions.

As Ian notes, this should cause everyone from teacher to administrator to think about how this will be reached in any individual school.  The worst possible fallout from this is pitting teacher against teacher and pointing figures at which program a person thinks is dispensable.

I hope that it doesn’t come to that.

Since the announcement, the Ministry and other educational leaders have appeared on radio around the province answering questions about her message.  It’s good listening to help you get an understanding of some of the issues in these early days.

Why he comes to class

From Amanda Potts, a post that will tear at your teacher heart strings.

Kids aren’t numbers, although it’s easy to crunch numbers if you consider that they’re all the same and you can treat them that way.  If you read and understand Amanda’s post, you’ll realize that nothing could be further from the truth.

This is great reading for current teachers:

  • consider your own classroom – why are students showing up?
  • do you have a student(s) who is/aren’t showing up?  If so, what changes can you make to make it more appealing to attend?
  • do you have a student in your class that is very much like the one that Amanda describes?  Do you have any additional ideas – I’m sure that Amanda would appreciate reading them via comment.

It’s also great reading for current teacher candidates:

  • as you do practice teaching stints, what techniques does your associate use to make the classroom friendly to his/her students?
  • is the class just “being there” enough to bring everyone in?
  • if you end up with a student who is not showing up in your classroom, what strategies are you willing to try to change this behaviour?

Cell Phone Ban in Classrooms

One of the announcements from the Minister was the province-wide direction for the banning of cell phones in the classroom.

Except under certain circumstances!

When you look at those circumstances, it’s like the Ministry of Education had focussed on the ways that Matthew Morris uses them in his classroom.  The word “rules” appears six times in Matthew’s post but largely apply to school rules.

In his classroom, it’s more about his expected behaviour when using the technology and not a dictatorial approach.  Isn’t that what we would like to see in our graduates as they become the “digital citizens” that we hope and plan for?

The one thing that Matthew has an expectation for that wasn’t in the announcement was the listening to music.  I really empathize with this.  When I’m working (as I am right now), I always have music on in the background.  My preferences may be different from yours – I’m listening to Bob Seger at the moment – but that’s not the point.  The point is respecting individual’s right to choose and let music work its magic.

I have to smile when I think back – I always allowed music to be played in the computer room while students worked if they chose to listen to it.  Inevitably, there was a disagreement about what channel to use.  We’ve come so far now with personal devices that people can have their own preferences and, as long as it helps them and doesn’t bother their neighbour, it’s a great concept.

Beyond Behaviour Charts

I continue to learn from my elementary school colleague, Lisa Cranston.  I can honestly say that, in all my years of teaching, I’ve never used clothes pins in my classroom.

In her post, she starts with a use of them in a concept called a behaviour chart.  I’ll bet that it’s seen as a terrific tool in some camps.

Now, that’s not to say that awareness of behaviour and its impact on others isn’t important.  There’s definitely a tie-in to self-regulation here but I’ve worked with teenagers and adults enough to know that an attempt to publically humiliate anyone won’t give the desired results – or anything near that.  If it doesn’t work for them, how can you assume that it would work for anyone?

Lisa provides a well thought through list of alternatives that will do the job much better and in a more human manner.

I just have to say that my fur was ruffled a bit with the original post with the reference to teacher “training”.  I’ll say it again – you train dogs, you provide professional learning opportunities for teachers.

Take 10 Minutes

This post, from Colleen Rose, is one of those that you have to be careful about and heed the advice and not make assumptions on the other end.

It’s a bold post, my appreciate to Colleen, and a reminder to all that Mental Health awareness cannot be limited to one day of the year and then we’re back on track.  People struggle daily and sometimes need a little help.

All school districts and many employers have the services of an EAP and awareness of the services that it provides should be high on everyone’s list.

I thought that this question, embedded in a series of questions from her, at the end of post was important.

Are there people you feel more comfortable talking to? 

I would suggest that, if you answer no, that you need to start looking harder.  There may come a time that you do need that person.

In the meantime, as Colleen notes, it’s important to take some time to go for a walk and get some fresh air.  The picture she includes shows her pups taking her for a walk and the roadway shows promise that spring is on the way.

Descriptive Feedback: The Engine that Powers Learning

New to this area of the blogosphere for me is the team of Hélène Coulombe and Joanie Causarano and their blog devoted to assessment.

The topic in this post is about descriptive feedback.

The content here is provided in detail and shows that they’ve done their research into feedback in its various forms and for various purposes.  It’s a nice refresher and also a reminder that it’s possible to have good intentions and then things slide.  There may well be a few tips in there for even the more experienced educator.

In their call to action, there’s a thoughtful question…

  • What kind of feedback are they primarily receiving – descriptive or evaluation?

Your thought for the day!

Helping our Girls Reframe Anxiety – it’s not all bad!

If anyone questions the value of teachers, send them this sentence from Laura Elliott.

To this end, I have found myself immersed in ways to assist students in finding joy in their daily lives while simultaneously maintaining balance in competitive academic settings and social media landscapes that demand perfection.

Multiply that by the number of students in your charge.

The inspiration for this post came from a book Laura ordered and read from Lisa Damour.  The descriptions there could apply to any classroom in the world.  It’s tough being a student and a teenager.

But that’s nothing new.  We all had challenges weighing on us all the time.  That really hasn’t changed all that much but what has changed is the world around today’s student.  There are higher expectations, more peer pressure, the joys and challenges of social media, and the anxiety and stress that goes along with it.  If you pause for a moment, you could come up with a long list.

The book offered Laura some ideas, not only for girls in her charge, but for herself.

It sounds like a great read.  You might want to check your district’s professional library and see about borrowing a copy.

Coming back from a March Break is always a challenge but the end is in sight.  Thanks to all of these great bloggers for taking the time to share their thoughts.

For more, follow them on Twitter.

This post appeared on

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s been a challenging week to stay on top of things for me. Much is self-inflicted because I seldom blog and then hit publish. I blog and then schedule the post to appear. It’s part of a personal commitment to myself to be regular.

But, last week, the #TWIOE show didn’t run on voicEd Radio because my partner was attending a conference. So, our show went live on Saturday as part of his anniversary marathon. That show would normally have been broadcast today, in fact, as I type this on Wednesday morning but I see that I’ve been bumped for some other show. I thought that the Saturday show might have been re-run. Anyway, this is the blog post that would have normally followed the Wednesday radio broadcast that was done last Saturday. I hope that I schedule it properly for Friday…

Snow Day Chaos – the Lament is over!

To celebrate the voicED anniversary, we had Ramona Meharg join us as a special guest for the show. It worked out well because this blog post was going to be on the show.

When I first saw the title, I thought “oh no, another blog about snow”. And, I suppose on the surface, it could be interpreted that way. Ramona showed the feeling of students in her class about not having their school year calendar shortened by snow and then finally getting their wish.

But it was right during exam week which dominoed into a number of other things…

  • rescheduled exams
  • cancellation of a bowling outing
  • issues surrounding a teacher retiring at the end of Semester 1 which is now extended
  • issues surrounding teachers changing schools at the end of the Semester
  • insights about how the students in her class have come to rely on their classroom routine and what happens when it’s disrupted

So, the post goes far beyond a decision to cancel buses. Perhaps that’s a reason why they so seldom are?

Online Pre-School

Anne Shillolo reflected on a story that she had read about how Utah was considering an online pre-school alternative for some of its remote students.

How remote can it be?

We once got lost in a huge expanse of desert for about an hour-and-a-half, while attempting to follow an incorrect map leading from a National Monument to the Interstate. It was so hot we couldn’t take the dog out of the truck to pee in the middle of the day because he would burn his feet. The only person we saw while lost was in a grader moving drifts of sand off the gravel road. 

It’s an interesting concept. If you do some research and some reading, you’ll see that there are recommendations about what a child should be able to do before starting school. If the child went to a traditional pre-school, they are typically addressed there. What if the child doesn’t go though?

Online learning doesn’t necessarily mean being stuck in front of a computer screen for hours. It’s also not correspondence education. My first reaction was that it was silly but if you take a look at how online courses have addressed that in Ontario, maybe there’s something in this proposal to help parents ensure success when the child does get to go to school.

Text to Speech and Translation Blocks in Scratch 3.0

I love it when others do the heavy lifting and we can learn from their leadership. This is the case in this post from Lisa Floyd. She shows us some of the new features in Scratch 3.0 and how to get your computer to speak to you, conversationally.

There are standard screen grabs and she’s also created a set of YouTube videos to demonstrate.

But it goes further. In her example, she does English to French translation in addition to just speaking. Don’t stop at French though – I took a look and the following languages are supported – Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

Doesn’t that open a lot of doors for possibilities? Thanks for learning and sharing, Lisa.

Working with Children in Makerspaces

If you’re anywhere near connected in Ontario Education, you know of Derek Tangredi. He’s been featured on this set of posts more than once. Most recently, he presented at the Bring IT, Together Conference – he was setting up in my room as I was doing my thing and he didn’t kick me too hard when I went over time…

Derek also delivered a fabulous keynote address at last year’s #ECOOcamp Owen Sound.

So, lots of people know about Derek. But, how about Immaculate Namukasa? She a professor at Western University and has quite an impressive teaching load and background experience. (I went down a rabbit hole and chased her back in her educational travels)

The two of them are offering an open house for teachers, parents, students, and anyone else who wants to drop into the London Public Library for an evening of hands on in a real-life Makerspace. What a wonderful community opportunity and check out all the partners in this venture.

Math Links for Week Ending Jan 25th, 2019

If you follow David Petro’s blog, you’ll know that he shares some of the more interesting off-the-wall mathematics links. This week was no different.

But, talk about timely.

The post went out just before the Superbowl and one of the stories that he features was about how National Football League kickers have got better over the years.

Now, I go back a long way and can remember the “straight on” kickers doing their thing at shorter distances. With the advent of the “soccer style” kicker, distances have changed and this is a fabulous read, complete with graphics showing improvement and distances over time.

Make your Feedback more Productive

I love how Deborah McCallum digs deeply into important educational issues. This time, she takes on feedback.

And, I’ll date myself. I go back to the days when I got a test back with the comment

you done good

By today’s standards, it was so wrong.

  • it actually told me nothing
  • I never got a second chance to learn from my error(s) and improve
  • the only ongoing feedback was checking homework every night

You’d never get by doing that in today’s classroom.

There are key understandings that need to be in place first to ensure that our feedback is meaningful and productive. I cannot promise that you will never make mistakes, but I can state with confidence that if you think about the following key ideas, you will become better at providing feedback.

Deborah provides some excellent insights and ideas in this post. It’s definitely worth reading, bookmarking, and sharing with colleagues. I’d also suggest review at a Faculty of Education and during a NTIP program.

The Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning Resource

After ten years of teaching, Arianna Lambert takes a look at some of the things that she has embraced as an educator. Of course, the word “some” is important – we know that we can’t take them all on with a single post.

She hits a lot of good things…

  • blogging
  • connecting with parents
  • blogging provincially to try and reach other teachers
  • the actual Heart and Art Teaching resource
  • mentorship
  • classroom setup

There’s a lot of good information there to make it worth your time to read. You may find parts confirming and you may find parts inspirational. But, you’ll find it all good!

Now, if I can only schedule this to come out Friday morning at 5am!

Please click through and read these excellent blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

And, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

This part of a regular Friday morning series of posts. Check them all out at the link above.

This originally appeared at:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not my original work, just a copy.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Ah, the end of a busy week.

You’ve got one thing to do before the weekend. Catch up with the thoughts of some amazing Ontario Edubloggers.

This week’s posts come from:

On cultivating curiosity in the classroom

I don’t think that there can be enough posts on this topic. Just how do you inspire that sense of curiosity? In this post, Rob Cannone shares some of his ideas for use in a connected world.

Most of the ideas have a technology slant and I don’t think anyone should ever apologize for doing that. It sure beats a lot of the simple minded activities that we know can happen, particular in an uninspiring iPad classroom.

One stuck out at me and reminded me of how old school I am, I guess. I’ve always relied on RSS and an aggregator for pulling things for me to stay on top of things. Admittedly, I felt adrift when Google Reader went away but The Old Reader is my go-to now.

Rob suggests a newer concept – allow an appropriate website to do its updates for you via push notifications. I’d never thought of that but the concept is interesting. Very little is required of students to use the feature. The teacher would need to suggest some sites that would be helpful and would have to know how to turn them off when no longer relevant. It’s an interesting concept; I hope Rob writes more about how he uses the concept.

In the post, he also shares three other ways that he “cultivates curiosity” in his classroom. It’s good to see someone still using QR Codes.

Educating Grayson: How Do We Make Inclusion Work?

Last week, I’d taken a look at some of the thoughts from Paul McGuire about inclusion. He was inspired by the current educational direction and an article from the Globe and Mail.

In this post, Aviva Dunsiger shares her insights about how she makes including a child with autism into her classroom. Of course, being a kindergarten teacher, many of the suggestions may not apply everywhere but I’m sure could lead to inspiration of your own.

Of interest, is a long paragraph of bullet points that start with “I did” and enumerates many of the things she did.

And, what would an Aviva post be if it didn’t have a lot of purple and an explanation about how self-regulation fit into her plans.

If you’re in the position of dealing with inclusion, you might find a tip or two here from Aviva.


In a world of #onewords, this choice from Ann Marie Luce is very interesting.

She hasn’t identified things like “balance”, “leadership”, “health”, or any of the traditional words chosen by so many. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad; it’s just that she has taken a different tact.

Readers of this blog will know that I’ve been enjoying reading about her experiences as a principal in China. She’s taken advantage of her location to do some travelling in the Far East and apparently wants more.

So, here word is “Explore”.

Where, why, and what happens to her former job in Ontario? You’ll have to read her post to find out.

Update: Assessment

Lisa Corbett paints a wonderful picture of some interviews with her students for report cards.

In the process, she’s describing the process of interviewing that she uses. In this case, it’s about Mathematics and she asks each child to solve 7 + 9. Crackers, that is.

She describes the responses as falling into one of three methods for solution. But, it’s the description of each of the three methods that had me hooked, reading this post.

The only thing missing was whether of not anyone is biting on their tongue as they do their thinking!

Words Matter. But Sometimes the Interbrain Matters More.

From the Merit Centre blog, John Hoffman shared a thought and a personal reflection about comfort.

I think we all grew up with the sage advice…

Choose your words wisely

It was good advice then and still good advice today. Of that, there can be no doubt.

But what happens when that isn’t enough?

John shares some thoughts about the interbrain and applies to a particular home situation.

Reminders like this can be so powerful and even more powerful is recognizing just how it works.

Speaking on and about black male students

Matthew Morris shares an interesting personal situation of writer’s block. So, far, he claims that he has the first sentence of a message to staff written about an initiative that he wants to start. That’s about it.

You’d think that, in education, we’d have a solution for him. After all, we talk about education for all, don’t we. Can an author get a little help?

Apparently not.

The school system maintains a storage shed of words and phrases ready to deploy at any time for describing black male students. Our black boys are our most vulnerable, or our “at-risk” ones, or the underachievers, the disadvantaged, or underserved, or our minority students. The list of descriptors goes on and on. When speaking on their plight, we offer our pre-stamped condolences through nouns and verbs like concern, or challenge. It is no wonder we seem lost in white man’s land – spinning our wheels in the vehicle of progress only to end up in the same position over and over again.

Isn’t the fact that we have that “storage shed” in itself a condemnation of those goals that we speak so glowingly of?

If you own a traditional shed at your place, you will undoubtedly clean it out every now and again. If we truly believe in education for all, isn’t it time that this shed get the same treatment?

Ideal PD?

From Peter Cameron’s blog, he shares this graphic.

What’s the topic?

If you guessed, picking the best professional learning experience for yourself, then you’re a winner.

He got me thinking about my own learning, both when I was gainfully employed and now.

I think I can boil it down to this “Find someone you admire for a particular reason and analyse why you admire them. What makes them stand apart from the rest? Learn as much as you can about them and what they’re doing.”

When I look at it through this lens, it makes so much sense. It takes the location, venue, and time out of the equation. If I truly believe that I’m a lifelong learner, I should be constantly in search of the next great thing to learn. It takes me away from those that superficially skimmed a book or attended another presentation and now present themselves as “experts”.

It seems that, at least for me, the onus is on me to be the initiator and searcher of learning opportunities and not just taking back what someone else things is good for me. I guess that’s why I enjoy reading blog posts where people are sharing their current thoughts and experiences.

How about you?

I hope that you enjoyed this collection of posts. I know that I certainly did. Please take a few moments and click through to read them in their entirety.

And, of course, make sure that you follow them or their blogs for more.

For more in the Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” series, click the link at the top of this page.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy First Friday of 2019.

Please read and enjoy this selection from Ontario Edubloggers.

Chocolate by Trial and Error

Sheila Stewart writes a post that will bring out your inner Julia Child. It’s a real departure from her regular posts – the previous one was about Effective School Councils – but still an interesting read.

As we conclude the holidays, we might be looking back at the great (and sweet) treats from the past couple of weeks.

If you’re looking for something to bake this weekend, and you enjoy chocolate, Sheila shares her recipe for a Chocolate Mint Pie.

Hack the Classroom 2018

There are people’s favourite venues for showing off the latest and greatest things that kids can do. Unlike exhibitor sessions with professionals and pre-planned scripts, it’s always interesting to see what students can actually do when you give them the right tools.

As Zélia Capitão-Tavares notes …

WE need to create opportunities to immerse students within the Global Competencies to develop deep learning through experiences that integrate creativity, inquiry and entrepreneurship.

What leapt from this post as interesting, innovative, and true to Zélia’s premise above was a group of students developing games that students in the Deaf & Hard of Hearing classes could enjoy. The Micro:Bit was the tool of choice.

When you think about how much games depend upon background music and audio feedback to players, I’m sure that the students the games were designed for felt a great sense of being included.

The best present is one you can give year round

From the Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning Blog, Will Gourley shares an inspirational message for 2019.

Through the holiday season, there are charities and causes at every turn using the holiday season as inspiration for garnering support. Many try to get enough to sustain them through the upcoming year.

Although, traditional presents are nice, it has been my experience to savour the moments when we are able to strengthen our class community through quality time together. Long after the sweetness of a treat or period off for a movie has been forgotten, students remember being part of something special that benefitted others.

So, what would be the “something special”?

Read the post to get some ideas and inspiration that are both timely and most definitely worthwhile and would be well appreciated.

Fill Your Own Cup With Gratitude

Before reading Ramona Meharg’s blog post, I might have offered February as being the toughest of months in education but she builds the case for November. The holiday-less month.

Through a series of events, you can’t help but show empathy for what she describes and it might well be that you are/were in the same case.

Ramona’s solution was to reach out to her Marigold for support.

and a cup of tea?

If you have experienced the same thing and can offer a solution or just to share a story, Ramona’s looking for it in her comments.

An Oscar-esque thank you speech type of blog post

Or, maybe you could make an Oscar type speech to appreciate those things that have gone right and those who have been so supportive like Melanie Lefebvre did.

The big message in this post is the “autonomy” that educators have. Sure, everyone has curriculum and standards and content and … that have to be covered. That’s why we have courses and grades. But, the “how” of doing it honours the autonomy concept. That makes teaching the greatest of professions.

In the post, Melanie acknowledges …

  • Dean
  • JACS team?
  • IT Department
  • The Hub?
  • Health and Safety
  • Maintenance Team
  • Library
  • P and VP of Academics

as contributing to her success in the beginning of this new career for her.

It’s probably a good activity for all to do with a personal reflection that nobody can do it alone in education.

In typical Oscar fashion, after a while the music starts!

Making the Shift Toward Tracking Observations

Here’s advice from the bottom of the post from Heather Theijsmeijer …

This may feel like a lot of work, however keep in mind that not only does this process get easier over time (remember how much longer it took you to set a test when you first started teaching?), but the point of assessing observations is that it can replace a product-based assessment, on the road to triangulating sources of evidence. This is not meant to be done in addition to your current stack of marking. 

Hands up if you remember the days when final grades were calculated and assigned through three tests and a final examination.

That pretty much includes anyone who ever went through the school system 10-20 years ago and then to university. I still remember a picture from a university newspaper showing hundreds of students at desks in the gym writing final exams and the caption “Here, you’re just a number”.

How things have changed and we now focus on daily observations and progression towards understanding course expectations. In this post, Heather offers some suggestions, including a link to a previous post, as inspiration. Yes, there are brand names included but it shouldn’t take a huge leap to recognize that there are other products that you have access to that will have the same or better functionality.

Addition of double digit numbers

What if you threw a party and nobody came?

That was my first reaction when I read this post from Lisa Corbett.

She had her class all set and prepped to move along to number lines.

The best laid plans…

As I walked around I could see lots of kids with lots of right answers but no number lines. “How are they doing this??” I wondered. So I asked. And I was amazed! So many of them were using the mental math strategy of splitting. They thought about how many ones there were in each number, and how many tens were in each number, then they found a total.

I hope that she felt good that they had mastered their previous learning and felt confident enough to use it in this new situation.

So, what do you do?

To use a football analogy, you drop back 10 and punt.

You’ll have to click through to see Lisa’s professional judgement click in!

What a lovely collection of blog posts to finish off the Christmas Break. Please take the time to click through and enjoy them. And, drop off a comment or two if you’re so inspired.

If you’re an Ontario Edublogger and not on the Livebinder, please click through and add the link to your blog.

Then, follow the great bloggers references in this post.

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