This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I just got back from my morning dog walk and am reflecting on how I’ve written this post in my mind. I still have the tabs open from the Wednesday morning voicEd Radio show and I refreshed my memory about them as we took off. My only regret is that I’ve probably forgotten most of what I had thought about. I smiled when I thought I should turn the voice recorder on on my phone but then I’d have to listen to Jaimie complain as he enjoys a quiet walk.


Digital Footprint 2.0

This is a fairly long post by Tim and I’ll admit that I was drawn to it because of a pingback to one of my blog posts. From 2012! Uh oh. What did I say? I was pleasantly surprised to be in the same post as mentions to Diana Maliszewski and Melanie McBride.

The post is an interesting reflection on Tim’s part about online presences. I thought that Diana nailed it when she talks about teachers and being relevant to students with their connections. Tim kind of agrees but then notes that good people have been overlooked in their applications for principalship because of being vocal online. I’ll bet that those that did get promoted did a lot of singular research in a library sans a social learning network.

I think that Tim’s post is a great year-end or year-beginning read for educators and particularly those that are in these hiring positions. Do you want your system to become increasingly distanced from students and their families?

Personally, I have bought into the notion of a learning network and I value it every day. In fact, I’d doubt that I would have met Tim or his wonderful family Alanna and Max or got the incredible Christmas card from them in the mail. It’s one of those really nice ones that you don’t want to recycle, because well, it’s a great card! More than that, when I’m at a conference I will attend one of Tim’s sessions because he goes places in his thinking that I would never go. I so appreciate people that push my thinking.

On the other hand, I think we all know people, including educators, who don’t contribute to the learning of others but exist solely for those “look at me” moments. Somehow, some of them have parlayed that into speaking careers. That, I don’t get.


Quiet

If you follow Aviva on social media, she does truly use it to meet her purposes. The parts that I particularly like is how she documents student learning in her classroom. She does it correctly; she takes pictures of the activities and not of the kids. There’s a big difference and I know that it’s hard for those of us who grew up being told to “smile for Grandma”.

For December, Avia has decided to take a break from this, although it wasn’t a complete stoppage. She still is sharing pictures and her reading as she finds her quiet time in books and uses that to gear down for the end of the year. If that’s what works for her, then I think that’s a good approach. We all need to find what works for ourselves.

Sadly, she notes that there are things that are on the horizon that are going to interrupt her routine so I hope that she enjoys it while she can.


The Trickery of Insufficient Data

As I said on the show, Peter missed the opportunity to title this “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”! I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of the first five minutes of any newscast talking about the latest updates in COVID.

For the Wednesday show, I found these to be the top stories from a few news sites that I frequent…

  • Toronto Star – Today’s coronavirus news: Several provinces considering allowing COVID positive health workers to stay on job; Global cases up 11% last week, Omicron risk high
  • Toronto Sun – Doctors urge Ontario to scale back isolation, quarantine rules
  • Toronto Globe and Mail – Nova Scotia delays students’ return, Ontario school announcement coming on COVID-19 measures
  • Windsor Star – COVID-19 in 2021: a look back at the pandemic’s second year in Windsor-Essex

I think the answer to Peter’s absolutely correct analysis of a couple of graphs is that reporters are under a great deal of pressure to get the next great COVID story out. They’re not statisticians by trade and so do the best that they can. Typically statistical reports have a summary at the beginning and then get into the details later in case you’re interested or having difficulty sleeping. I remember a third year Statistics prof telling us that you can make statistics say darned near anything you want. Is this the case? We seldom get the information about sample sizes and confidence levels which are really important to know and understand.

Numbers are numbers are numbers; I get that. I think that the shock value of huge numbers and yet another story about cases has worn off. Of more importance now, I think, comes from the contact tracing and a warning for us to avoid these particular places.


Moving Day

If you think your December was rough, put yourself in Ann Marie’s shoes – having to find a place and then move a school to those places to continue the learning for the students. She gives a big shoutout to her staff

Things are looking up in her school’s world. They’re packing and the movers are coming in to move them “home”. I wish them all the best and just can’t imagine having to go through that or to lead an entire school through that situation and recovery.

I love this quote from her post.

“Social support is not merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us., feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm, done, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keep the Score


How my class is spending their last day together before potential school closures.

Amy Bowker writes a very short blog post about the last day of school with her and her students. I always hated the last day before a break as the kids were very clear that I was the only teacher that they had that wanted them to do something academic. Compared to these days, I had it easy. We knew that we were coming back after the Break and we’d continue on.

The only thing I can remember in common with Amy was the cleaning out of desks. (althought I did bribe with a big bag of candy canes ….)

Today we are cleaning out our desks, making gingerbread houses, and watching Space Jam. We are also going to participate in a community circle where we reflect on our class and all the things we love about being at school. We are going to enjoy today. Celebrate each other. Tell each other how important they are to our class.

That fact that they celebrated each other and appreciated each other brings a bit of emotion here. Of course, we all like to think that we do that regularly but any context that I can think of pales to Amy’s world. And to all the classroom teachers, your world too.

As I write this post on Thursday morning, we still don’t know what direction Ontario will be taking.


Waiting No More: Lessons from the Lake

This post from Debbie really resonated with me. Except for going away to university, I’ve always lived within easy driving or walking distance of a lake. There is absolutely something remarkable and powerful about walking the beach or even just sitting in a car watching the waves move.

I could watch the waves for hours. To me, it parallels living that one year in Toronto and going down to Yonge and Dundas. So much action, and every part of that action has something important to do and somewhere important to be. There’s something remarkable about picking up a wave from as far away as you can see and then watching it roll into the beach. You can seldom predict its actual path or the disturbance that it makes when it hits the shallows and then the sand. No two waves are exactly the same.

So, Debbie now has a new house and shares a nice collection of photographs from “her” beach. It’s calming to just look at the pictures but it’s even better in real life. She likes sunrises (who doesn’t) but don’t overlook sunsets!

Beyond this moment in time, this is another reason to blog. Memories might fade but she’ll always have this collection of images and her reflections at this point in time.


Avoir un impact sur ma culture d’apprentissage

For this week, I bookended this post with a couple of powerful messages about learning networks. Left alone, they can do things without a strategic direction or meaning and so it does take some effort to make that happen. You do need to work it. But how?

That’s the big takeaway for me from this post from Joel.

He identifies three areas of importance to him

  • Influencer (élément leadership)
  • Être intentionnel (élément stratégie)
  • Activer (élément action)

I can’t help but think that these are the attributes that Tim would see in a leader and I know that he exhibits in himself as a leader. Make sure to click through and read his complete discussion on each of these. There’s so much there.

The post is a powerful message that all leaders would be wise to read and ponder.


Do yourself a favour and add these people to your own learning network to see what they’re doing daily and become just a bit smarter!

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB

You can find the voicEd Radio show here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/quiet-time-data-literacy-and-looking-ahead-to-2022/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday and a chance to wander around the province and take a look at some posts from awesome Ontario Edubloggers. Listen to the Wednesday show for five of them but it’s only here that you get those extra two as a bonus.


Not the same Christmas

First up is Melissa Turnbull writing on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog. This post should serve as a reminder that not all students in your classroom celebrate Christmas or celebrate it the same way. Some classrooms more so than others but …

She nails it with three observations that generate my comments here.

Not all students are celebrating Christmas – I think we all know that but if you’re old enough, you’ll remember the outliers in your classroom that didn’t join in. When I went to elementary school, it was all about Christmas. We even all piled into the gym first thing in the morning to sing Christmas carols. Except for one of my friends who had to stay in his classroom and do seat work…

Students may be worried about being away from school – As bizarre as it might seem, we now know that a school may be the safest and most comfortable place for students these days. For some, it may also provide the best meals. Then, to be gone for two weeks takes all this away…

Some students will receive gifts – some will not – That is so true. I can still recall the conversations that would typically start with “What are you getting for Christmas?” Some had great expectations, including going to Florida or something.

Melissa concludes with a number of things that she does in her classroom. It’s a good read and reminder; I know that experienced teachers have been around the track a few times and should know all this but it might be new to younger teachers.


Shelving the Elf

After reading Sue Bruyns’ post, we now know what exciting things that she does on a Sunday afternoon and, sadly, it doesn’t appear to be watching football. She writes about the week ahead in a memo to staff. That brought memories for me of the “blue memo” that would be in the mailbox on Friday afternoons and essentially laid out what was going to happen next week, day by day.

Sue has morphed her message into one of reflection and I think finding that memo on my mailbox on Monday morning (or in my email), could be inspiration to start off the week on a positive note.

The topic of discussion here was the use of Elf on the Shelf in classrooms. Since this concept comes late to me, I was interested in reading her take and talking about it with Stephen Hurley on our Wednesday show. Now, I’m not above a good scavenger hunt to find things hidden around places. In fact, there’s a treasure hunt going on in our town now based on the light displays. It makes you look just a little harder and pay attention. There are a few there to denote the religious part of the season for some but many are there as part of a seasonal light show that extends over a period to cover many of the religious celebrations.

I’ll admit that having this creepy thing hidden on shelves spying on you as an attempt to modify behaviour was a little strange. Stephen indicated that, even if you did find it, that you were forbidden to touch it.

Sue addresses it this way.

It would have been easy to turn a blind eye to the situation and quietly shake my head and avoid the conversation. But over the years I’ve learned that the easy path is rarely the right path.

Her message is based in the concept of the Elf and religious connections and is a good read and a time for reflection as to whether this is a wise move. Sort of like her memo would be.


Limit #SOL2021

I’m going to steal this image from Melanie White’s post.

Isn’t that great advice for any educator?

Teaching is a profession that takes everything that you have and then asks for more. How many teachers realize it when they feel like they’ve given it their all and then something or someone asks for “just a little more”?

Can you say everyone?

The simplest solution is to “learn how to say no” but that seldom works as we all know. The result, and I think the Christmas season is the worst for it, is the sense that you’re drained and feel like you just can’t give any more and yet a system requires more.


Imitation Isn’t That Flattering

Tim King writes a post that I think that a lot of teachers of technology and Computer Science have experienced so many times. When an administrator who doesn’t have background in the discipline looks at what you’re doing and then asks you to make it easier, it’s an affront to your professionalism.

All teachers observe and understand when the going gets tough. I love the quote “When a problem happens, a teacher appears”. Technology teaching is unique in that there is so much background that must be developed before work of any substantial quality and quantity is possible. That is different from some other subjects where you can ease into things.

In Tim’s case, it was having students program an Arduino.

Photo by Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

Others might use a Micro:Bit; in my time before this, we had kits with wires and boards and LEDs. You need a great deal of understanding in order to make it work and I can remember the frustration of trying to get the first couple to work and then I got it. It was fun later on to push the envelop. A definitive essay on this is Seymour Papert’s Hard Fun.

http://papert.org/articles/HardFun.html

I hope that Tim sticks to his beliefs in this one. I don’t know how you’d address the curriculum expectations otherwise.


Taking Care of Myself

It’s been a while since Jennifer Brown had blogged and she addresses this before dropping the message about personal health issues on us.

She has support as demonstrated in the comments from dear friends and that’s so good to see.

The issue that she describes is hereditary and that drops on so many of us. For me, it started on my father’s side of the family and strong prescriptions for glasses. I think we all can empathize with Jennifer and send her some virtual hugs to start her on her journey to control things.

Her blog post should be a reminder to all to stay on top of things during COVID times. I appreciate, although was freaked out by all the plastic draping at my dentist, and I’ve maintained my other doctor’s visits albeit by telephone for the past, it seems like forever.

You need to be an advocate and you truly do need to take care of yourself and Jennifer nails it in a powerful post. And, trust a Teacher-Librarian to not place her trust in Dr. Google, but reach for a book as a credible source of information.

I most certainly extend my best wishes and encouragement for her to continue to stay on top of things.


To Move Or Not To Move? That Is The Question.

I thought that we were finally going to get a look inside Aviva Dunsiger’s classroom and not have pictures of her students outside. She did relent towards the bottom of the post.

As a secondary school teacher, when I would drop into elementary schools for visits, kindergarten classes always befuddled me. There’s activity everywhere. I have amusing memories of being outside in the play area where it’s just mayhem to my eyes and the teacher next to me described what every child was doing and why, even those that were behind her. Kindergarten teachers really do have eyes in the back of their head.

We live and teach in different times. Around here, and I know that Windsor and Essex County is currently faced with high COVID numbers, accountability has never taken on so much importance. In the post, Aviva starts off by describing the process of seating plans. Now, it’s old hat for most grades but it’s not something that you’d think would be so thought provoking in a kindergarten class. We were told that the plans were important for supply teachers and the principal when they would come into the class to do what they do. It was also invaluable when learning new names at the start of a course. Now, it’s also the way to contact trace and ensure safe distancing between students.

The current Kindergarten direction is so play-based that the notion of having and sitting in a sitting plan setting just seems so wrong. And yet, these days, its value is so right.

Aviva’s blog posts are often so revealing about her current reality and insightful as to just what is happening in her classroom. It seems so different these days compared to the past.

This kind of nails it.

With COVID restrictions, free-flowing movement and interactions in the classroom are more challenging.

But, good Kindergarten teachers will find a way to meet that challenge.


Knitting, Crocheting and Loom Knitting

Another post from the Heart and Art Blog got me really appreciative for the work that people are doing to reach out to every student and to bring new experiences into the classroom.

Tammy Axt takes us into the area of knitting and more.

For many people, knitting is used as a relaxing pastime to calm emotions and focus energy and I have seen it have a great impact at school

My mom was always knitting. It is a repetitive activity, to be sure and it can be so creative. Of course, we hold our parents on pedestals and I’m no different. She could knit anything. I got a lesson once and made a badly formed scarf. There is so much skill to make things so cohesive and consistent. I think that the biggest appeal for me was that it was so mathematical in the shape and form of the knitting involved.

The closest thing that I ever came to what Tammy describes in this post was a field trip to a museum where we got to try out a loom. It was kind of cool and insightful for the few minutes that we were there and then we moved on to something else.

I’ve recently found out that my former next-door-office-mate is a big knitter and has opened her own store online to sell what she’s doing. My wife and I actually went out to one of her shows and her stuff is amazing. (Don’t tell anyone but we bought a Christmas gift from her)

In my family, knitting died off with my mother and mother-in-law being the last of the big knitters. Certainly, my kids have expressed no interest at all.

As a result, I appreciate Tammy’s message and those students that experience it may well get an insight from her classroom that would be available nowhere else.


I hope that you can find the time to click through and enjoy these original posts and appreciate the wisdom and sharing that Ontario Edubloggers do.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter

  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Jennifer Brown – @JennMacBrown
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This week’s voicEd Radio show is available here – https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/hard-candy-cultural-responsiveness-and-self-care/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As noted in yesterday’s post, the voicEd Radio show didn’t go perfectly this past week but Stephen Hurley claims that you can’t spot his splicing job. That’s a good thing.

Here’s some great writing from Ontario Edubloggers that I ran across recently.


Student-Centred Blogging

It was during the discussion on Amy Bowker’s post that the connection between us dropped but we reconnected and finished our discussion. It was a great discussion and I love anything that supports the concept of student blogging. It’s such a powerful and, sadly, under used technique.

Maybe reading Amy’s post will inspired others to get involved. As she notes, she had concerns that she was doing the majority of the work in class and wanted to shift the responsibility to her kids. So, a class blog with random grouping was formed after polling students for ideas about how to better engage their parents. The kids got it! Blogging won out.

And so, the Grade 5/6 blog was started. You can click through via Amy’s post to see the student writing and get a sense of where she wants to head next with the blog.


Strand A, Coding, and the new Ontario Mathematics Curriculum

I honestly don’t know what I enjoyed better – reading this blog post from Jim Cash or the open and frank private discussion that we had yesterday evening after Jim listened to our discussion. We definitely are of a like mind on this.

We both agree about the concept of coding with students. But, it’s just not the sense of writing a program. It’s the joy that comes from creating something from scratch and then just tweaking it to make it do exactly what you want it to do. In our perfect world, no two student projects would be the same.

The notion of coding was dropped into the Mathematics Curriculum and there’s an ongoing adoption often by teachers who are doing it for the first time, without professional learning. There’s a great deal of sharing of formal lessons or presentations that encourage every student’s project to be exactly the same.

Jim’s thinking is driven by Mitch Resnick and the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Group and I like the way he uses joy and passion to describe what kids can do.

My take is that the joy comes first by creating something from scratch and making it your own, customizing where appropriate. Passion follows when you develop the desire to do more of it. The key though is that teaching from templates makes it very difficult to achieve these things. Big, wonderful problems need to be developed.

Personally, I see why game development fits nicely into this. No two games should be the same as each student throws in her/his take on how to play


Mentoring Moments: Celebrate Teachers in Education!

I was delighted to find a couple of blog posts about mentoring this week. It’s such a powerful concept – heck – it may be the most powerful concept for professional growth in an educator.

Writing on the ETFO Heart and Art of Education Blog, this post comes from Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge. After reading it, I felt so validated because she shares thoughts that would be so similar to mine if I wrote a post about mentoring. If you’re in education, you’ve got to love the Lee Iacocca quote:

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generations to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone could have” 

I’ve seen it work so well when the learning mindset is there. I’ve seen it fail when the mentee figures that he knows more than the mentor and doesn’t contribute. When it succeeds and goes over the top, the mentor actually shifts gears and becomes the mentee.

I also love her insights about how to network

  • Social events in professional development
  • Growing your social media PLN to build opportunies to connect
  • Building capacity digitally with Blogs, Pod casts and engaging conversations

When Cyndie Jacobs and I co-chaired the Bring IT, Together conference, these were some of the concepts that we worked on providing for attendees.


WHY DO WE NEED A MENTOR?

The second blog post about mentoring comes from Bei Zhang and I couldn’t find a Twitter handle for her.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I read the title. Would it be just another directive to do something based upon some sort of research. I was delighted when I clicked through and found that this blog post was actually a very open and honest discussion about how mentoring worked for her.

This is the best advice for success from the post.

Don’t bombard your mentors with millions of tedious questions. Mentors can guide you, but they can’t do your work.

For success, mentoring needs to be humble and cooperative. A good mentor knows this going into the process and a wise and embracing mentee comes to learn this if they’re going to succeed.

The context for the post is ESL which is an area that I have no experience but I can only imagine the challenges and the potential for a myriad of backgrounds and prior learning that would make it a challenge for the educator.

I don’t think that it is unreasonable that there may be people in this position and being the sole person in a school teaching ESL. In the post, there is a reference to TESL Ontario and a program that they have for mentoring.


“Maybe The Tooth Fairy Uses The Pronoun, ‘They’”: A Kindergarten Look At Gender

There’s always a little blogger joy in me when I announce that one of Aviva Dunsiger’s posts is going to be mentioned on a particular week. Since she’s a frequent blogger, she tries to guess out loud (on social media) which one I chose. So, here we go…

For me, fairies have always been female and I blame Walt Disney.

As long as I can remember, Tinkerbell was there and she was clearly female. In fact, as I reflect, Disney’s productions were always binary.

We’re living in a different time and the discussion from Aviva’s class indicates that her students are open to all possibilities. She captures the discussions nicely.

There is a delightful and yet sad moment in the post for me. Aviva shares a video of learning in her classroom and you can clearly see the social distancing and barren environment. It’s unlike your traditional kindergarten classroom and perhaps explains why her students are more comfortable outside playing in the mud.


Forestry resources from Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC)

From the STAO/APSO blog,

Calling all teachers and educators in Southern Ontario! If you are looking for a unique opportunity to bring forestry into the classroom, the Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut forestier du Canada (CIF-IFC), in collaboration with the CIF-IFC 7Southern Ontario Section, is organizing a Forestry Teachers’ Tour on November 19, 2021 in Waterloo, Ontario, and you are invited to sign up!

I think this is an interesting and unique opportunity for Canadian educators wanting to bring forestry into their classrooms. It’s an actual, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face professional learning opportunity.

It’s subsidized at $20 and will be held in Waterloo.


Learning to Code – An Invitation to Computer Science through the Art and Patterns of Nature (Lynx and Snap! Editions)

I’m humbled to include this post from Peter Skillen this week. He takes to his blog space to share two new books written by David Thornburg. Both of these gentlemen have been so instrumental in helping me get my head wrapped around the potential and the benefits of having younger and younger kids coding on computers.

I’ve had the good fortune to being in the audience listening to both of these gentlemen and of dining/drinking with both to expand on their messages. Both have had a huge impact on me.

Lest I get too sappy …

I’m really impressed with the modern and inclusive approach for Canadians with the various languages the book was written in. This has Skillen written all over it. He wouldn’t have done the translation himself but he’s so well connected, he’ll know who could.

Lynx is available in Canadian English, French, and several Indigenous languages including Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Mi’kmaq, and Mohawk—with others to be developed when CanCode funding is renewed. With CanCode funding, it is also available at no cost to Canadians. (For others, after the Trial version, it is quite affordable.)


I hope that you can take the time to click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts. Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Jim Cash – @cashjim
  • Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Bei Zhang – writing on @TESLOntario
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – @staoapso
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This is the last post and Wednesdays voicEd Radio show was the last one before Hallowe’en. I had fun picking “scary” songs for use on the show and I love this one. How old does it make you feel when you realize that it came out in 1958?


The Next COVID Crisis – Mental Health

My treatment of this post from Paul McGuire was unique. I had actually read it last week and knew that I had to think it over many times before writing something about it here and bringing it forward to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on voicEd Radio.

When I first saw the title, I thought that it might be a simple gloss over of something that would serve as a reminder for us to check in on our neighbours. I’m glad that I didn’t stop there and read the entire post. And then, read it a few more times.

It wasn’t a flyover post at 50 000 feet. It was a deeply personal post from Paul where he opens up about himself, how he’s doing, and is incredibly vulnerable with his words.

There’s another very strong message from this post that doesn’t come through in the words but rather in the sense of the post. After all, who would have thought that a system leader, a principal, a person that I personally selected to give Ontario principals a voice in the Bring IT, Together conference planning process, and a man who literally climbs mountains would find himself in this position?

From my notes for the show, there were a number of questions that I wanted to discuss and we never got around to it. I still think they’re important questions that need answers.

  • What about those who are not strong enough to seek help?
  • What are others doing to get through this?
  • What about those who are forced to go into work in less than perfect conditions? (i.e. everybody)

Mental Health – a postscript

I almost never have two posts from the same person on this Friday review. When I went back to re-read Paul’s original post, I see that he had written this as a response.

To anyone worried about what I wrote, I want you to know that I am really resilient and I will get through this. I have before, I know how this works.

There were a couple of reflections from Paul that stood out to me.

  • He has a large community of support that was there in response to the first post
  • This COVID stuff is new and unique and he has addressed it personally and can see a light at the end of the tunnel

He hasn’t reached that end, apparently, but delivers an uplifting message that enables him to look clearly for that.

And that’s really important.


Fake Math vs. Real Life

After reading this post from Kelly McLaughlin, I’m convinced that I grew up, learned, and quite frankly enjoyed “Real Math”. “Real Math” is done with pencil and paper and brain power. To date this, I go back to a time where having a calculator was seen as diminishing the study of Mathematics and therefore it was considered cheating to use one on the test.

I remember third year Statistics at the university and going for a meeting with Dr. Gentleman to get advice about whether I should buy a good algebraic calculator or an RPN calculator. Only a math nerd of those years would even entertain the conversation or have a university professor who would offer advice on something that we take as mundane these days. For the record, not only did she know calculators inside and out, she was a fabulous Statistics professor.

I wonder where a person would actually have to go to find a “real math” class these days. So much research has gone into the teaching and learning of the subject and so many resources created that challenge the educators today as to which one to use.

In Kelly’s case, she relates a conversation with a student that must make her feel good on one hand that she’s found a technique that has reached the student. I truly believe that mathematics should be enjoyed and applaud her for that. On the other hand, that trip isn’t complete until the student realizes that this “Fake Math” is indeed mathematics.

Great story; I loved it.


What My Teachers Were Saying About Me

Matthew Morris has the job that I always wished that I could have had. He got to go back to the school where he was a student. Only this time, he’s on the other side of the desk. I’d love to go back to my old school just to look around. I wonder if the Grade 13 lounge is still a lounge for students?

Even teachers have lounges and that’s the setting for this post.

Matthew notes that there is the teacher message of “empathy, kindness, service, love” in the classroom that isn’t necessarily the topic of choice when they gather in that lounge. Some of the messages that he repeats are anything but.

Based on a couple of quotes that he shares, I suspect that he may have though that when the topic of Matthew came around, it may not have always been positive. Of course, it’s just a wonder but now he’s got me wondering about me.

I mean; we all had our moments, didn’t we?


Post-pandemic classroom chaos

I know that it’s still “early” in our recovery of schools to some sort of regularity but Amanda Potts takes the time to let us know that her kids are not alright.

They curse, they use tacks and Sharpies in interesting ways, they put pencils in girls’ hair, they throw spitballs, and that’s just the stuff that she’s caught in her Grade 9 classroom.

This brought me a smile since I read it just following Matthew’s post about middle school kids and staff rooms. Amanda is wondering about the discussion among Grade 8 teachers.

If there is any way to rescue this, adolescents are always unique human beings. We’ve all been there; Amanda shares a painful story about Michelle which might serve as the positive spin on all this. We eventually grow out of being adolescents and turn into adults that, at times, act adolescently …

The question that her post leaves in my mind is are these kids acting as they would have normally or has their behaviour been amplified because of the lockdown? Let’s hope that they turn out alright.

Just before I move on, there’s one strong remembrance that I have of emerging adolescents and that’s one of body odor. Maybe Amanda’s kids have at least got that right!


The Things That Carry Us

There were two reasons why I included Joel McLean’s post this week.

  1. He wrote it in English as a result of confessions from the voicEd show about my understanding of French being as good as my Grade 10 teacher made it
  2. It’s an inspirational message about what gets us through the day and, once you realize that, you can actively plan to make it happen. And, he shows us how.

The premise is built around “Anticipation”.

In Joel’s mind, Anticipation isn’t a single thing but shows up in some many places.

  • Family Anticipation
  • Health Anticipation
  • Passion Anticipation

He encourages us to create our own anticipation. It seems to me that this is an activity worth doing.


Slice of Life: New books

Lisa Corbett shares a story that took me back to a very strongly worded message from the Media class while at the Faculty of Education.

ALWAYS preview movies from beginning to end before showing them in class. Going live is no time for surprises.

In this post, Lisa absolutely breaks this rule but not with a movie.

It’s with respect to a book that she bought for her class and they break the cover together. If that isn’t a cause for anticipation on her part and on the part of her students, I don’t know what is!

Read about her experience – here’s a spoiler – she closes with a comment about another book that she ordered.

Tonight the other pre-ordered book I’ve been waiting for was waiting for me when I got home. It came wrapped in clear, protective plastic. How special is that?! I can’t wait to unwrap it with the class tomorrow.

I love it when good things happen; I really love it when people blog about it to share their experience.


These great bloggers can be followed on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261

The voicEd Radio show is available here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, it’s another Friday. Actually, it’s Thursday morning as I write this post but that’s the way things roll around here.


Writing a SPOOKY Story!

I’ve written about Cameron Steltman’s writing activity for his students many times before. I think it’s truly unique, inspirational for both students and parents, and easily borrowed by others who want students to write for a purpose and write for an audience.

It’s straight forward.

He starts a new blog post with a theme and instructions for his students. Their job is to read and understand his post and then do some writing of their own in the replies. There’s so much right with this activity.

This time, he uses this image to inspire.

The student job? They look at the image and write a spooky story telling Mr. Steltman, their classmates, their parents, me, you, and anyone else who drops by how they interpret the image and turn it into their own spooky story!


Negative TikTok Challenges and Student Digital Leadership

The typical approach to dealing with bad things in education comes from a long time ago from the Baretta theme song .

“Don’t do the time if you can’t do the crime.”

Or maybe something more contemporary.

We know how well that works out. Jennifer Casa-Todd has a different take on things. In a school where there is one principal and one vice-principal for 1000 or more students, those enforcing the rules are really outnumbered.

Consistent with Jennifer’s message in SocialLEADia, she sees another way. Put the power of students to work to address this. I feel that it honours their leadership and an innate desire to do the right thing.

The prompt for this was the Negative TikTok Challenge and Jennifer includes them in her post.

  • September: Vandalize school bathrooms
  • October: Smack a staff member
  • November: Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school
  • December: Deck the halls and show your balls
  • January: Jab a breast
  • February: Mess up school signs
  • March: Make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria
  • April: “Grab some eggz” (another stealing challenge or inappropriate touching)
  • May: Ditch day
  • June: Flip off in the front office
  • July: Spray a neighbor’s fence

Her approach is an interesting turn on things and I think she may be on to something. Your school needs to have this book in their library. There’s so much wisdom here and it’s all based on the premise that people want to do good things and things for good.

Disclaimer: I did help Jennifer with advice and proofreading of this book.


Leadership and the matter of judgement:An open letter to Prime Minster Trudeau

I enjoy reading Charles Pascal’s writing and insights. Given his past career choices, he’s gone places and seen things that the rest of us in education only get to hear about third or fourth or more hand.

Many of us “could” write to our leaders and get a form letter back (or nothing in the case of around here) but taking your message public could be powerful in that we’re seeing his insights if we care to read them. And I did.

In this case, it’s an letter to our Prime Minister about his choice to go on vacation during the first Truth and Reconciliation holiday. Charles uses the analogy to baseball as commitng an unforced error. There were a lot of things that could have been done on that day. I would think that he would have been welcomed to many communities across the country to address them and the nation.

As we know, we’re just off an election that was controversial in itself. There’s some great advice in Charles’ post

Prime Minister, it is not too late to close the gap between your many worthy and important publicly stated aspirations and meaningful actions. 

Will he follow Charles’ advice?


It’s That Time of Year…

One of the powerful voices helping people understand how media works, its power and influence, and how we should interpret that media is Media Smarts. This year, Media Literacy Week is October 25 to October 30.

Anthony Perrottta is a regular speaker during this event and this year is no exception. He’s doing to give a talk about Digital Portfolios and The Power of Story.

His presentation is on Wednesday at 4:30 and you can sign up from the link in the post.

One of the advantages of COVID for professional learning is that we don’t have to go anywhere except to our computers to take in quality professional learning so do it.

The post also includes links to Anthony’s past presentations.


Talking Like a Teacher

I don’t often disagree with Diana Maliszewski and I’m not sure whether or not I do this time around.

She was asked to co-present a lecture on “Finding Trusted Sources and Evaluating Information” but was advised to not “talk like a teacher”.

In the post, she takes the time to address both the pros and cons of “talking like a teacher”. Maybe I’m narrow minded but I don’t see both sides. I replied to the post on her blog with:

Thank you for my morning smile, Diana. It’s a phrase around here when I correct my wife and kids over language errors “Daaaaad, you’re such a teacher”. I wear it like a badge of honour.

I don’t think you should ever apologize for being a teacher. You’ve devoted your life to your craft and I’m guessing you were asked to speak based upon your skills and reputation. It’s a great compliment. Consider the thousands of people that could have been asked, it ended up being the two of you. I can’t believe that it was a random choice.

My wife is a nurse and when I have a boo-boo, I go to her for her skills; I don’t rely on what I’ve seen on television.

Nobody can have it all but you can certainly relish in the parts that you do have and you will always be a teacher. That’s to be celebrated.

It’s a few days later since I first read Diana’s post, I talked about it on the voicEd Radio show and now I’m writing and I remain every bit convinced of my position.

Either way, knowing Diana, the presentation would have been fun and full of great information, I’m sure.


NETWORKING AT THE TESL ONTARIO ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Probably something like this has never been so important as it is during these days. Networking has always been an important part of conference going and was an important concept for Cyndie Jacobs and I when we co-chaired the Bring IT, Together conference in 2013 and 2014.

Dave Fraser starts off this post with the familiar approach.

When we think of “networking” at a conference, we tend to think of coffee breaks and catching up with colleagues in hotel lobbies and banquet centre hallways.

Been there, done that, and it’s a great chance to catch up with old friends from all over the place. But, that’s only part of the potential. Cyndie and I realized that there was a lot of “other” times with potential for participating in other things. In this post, Dave outlines a bunch of other opportunities that they’ve planned for other than the sessions. I think that’s incredibly important as well as the sessions and it sends the message that the conference is more than a money grab from registrations – that the organization places value in making connections to take away from the event.

It’s tough to pull off when everyone’s online but they seem to have thought through this to give attendees the chance to meet up with others with similar interests. Round table discussions would be interesting.

The platform that they’re using is a new one for me to look at and explore.


Math Links for Week Ending Oct 15th, 2021

The mathematics person is me always looks forward to posts from David Petro. I find it just plain interesting to work my way through them, smiling at his interpretation before I right click and open in a new tab so that I can return and continue my trek through his post.

This past week, regular readers of this blog will know that I was so excited with one of his curated items that I used it as inspiration for a complete blog post here.

He runs the gamut of classes and grades so not all of the links will be immediately useful for everyone except those that like to play with mathematics just for the sake of playing with mathematics and who doesn’t? There’s nothing wrong with a little side learning and this blog covers that nicely.


Please take the time to follow these great Ontario educational bloggers.

  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Charles Pascal – @cepascal
  • Anthony Perrotta – @aperrottatweets
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Dave Frazer – @teslontario
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This week’s show on voicEd Radio.