This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Forget the other thing about today.

To All The Things I Should Have Done…

We started the voicEd Radio discussion with this song from the great John Anderson.

I don’t ever recall talking about work/life balance at the faculty. It was something that I came to learn as I entered the profession. I’ll be honest; for the most part, it was just talk because of the nature of the job. It will eat you alive if you let it.

Elizabeth recognizes that there are other important things in life along with teaching and addresses it in this post. To be truthful, she doesn’t belittle the profession; she does a great job of sharing where she is with her class and her philosophy.

Like so many of us, she has a wonderful family that deserves part of her time and attention as well. It’s the condition of teaching that we’re forever balancing this.

A teacher’s life is like no other. She captures so much of it in this post. And, it’s just not home/work; there’s all the professional development that an educator needs and couple that with being an educational leader in the province, there are so many things competing for your time and attention …

Enough. Enough. Enough. 

Another AI Post, but about Math

I like it when Cal takes on a topic and takes it in an interesting direction. I came to the post ready to argue because ChatGPT is notorious for getting things wrong at times. I misjudged what this post was going to be about.

Cal notes that he’s worked with interactive bots for a long time as well as many of the popular Mathematics applications. One thread through all of this is that getting the answer right is important.

But, what about the process?

Cal introduces us to a new application (well, new to me anyway) called MathGrader and how it could be the solution to having Artificial Intelligence do some marking for you along with understanding the process that students go through to get their answer.

It’s an interesting read and it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Cal sees it being integrated into OneNote some day.

I’ve marked this “stay tuned for more”.

Creating Dynamic Content

This is one of those “Wow” posts.

If you are using Brightspace/D2L or there’s a chance that you will be, this is definitely worth the time to read. Actually, I’d recommend bookmarking and reading more than once.

Lynn certainly takes a deep dive into using this resource in your classes.

By default, often LMS systems are boring text interfaces and the activities often aren’t similar at all to good classroom pedagogy.

Lynn tears this apart with all kinds of ideas to make the interface more appealing and the content more engaging with the hopes of better success and interaction with your content.

She addresses:

  • Environment
  • Active Learning & Engagement
  • Stress Management

It’s a huge affirmation that teaching and learning online doesn’t have to be completely different.

Coaching The Destreamers

I suppose that if you’re at Ministry, it’s easy to say “let’s destream Grade 9” and make the transition from Grade 8 to 9 a little more friendly.

Ultimately, it may well be. Right now, it’s an ongoing process.

In this post, Brad takes a look at what is required on the teacher side to make it happen.

  • Don’t do it alone
  • Your team matters
  • Experience is not always best
  • Not everyone is ready

And, as a department head, what he plans to do to assist his department in their implementation.

  • Make a plan
  • Take baby steps
  • Be the coach
  • Get the team together

It’s a nice reminder that any implementation isn’t as simple as just flipping a switch.

What was lost 8/31 #SOL2022

Melanie shares a writing prompt that she has used with us.

A writing prompt that I used recently asked students to consider a time when they lost something important. 

I had two reactions to this post.

The first one was the one that I shared on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. It was personal about something that I had lost – my wedding band (twice). Recovered once from a museum in Ottawa and secondly, I’m still looking for it. In that respect, the prompt let me have fun with my misfortune.

What I didn’t talk about on the show was that Melanie followed up her prompt with personal experiences of her own. I didn’t mention it but in passing because it’s the sort of thing that would make me tear up and choke.

She shared her story and her very emotional, personal take on the writing prompt.

I couldn’t help but wonder if her writing prompt might have generated similar stories from her students.

Oculum Echo: Guest review

Bronte L, a Grade 9 student, writes as a guest poster on Helen Kubiw’s blog.

She shares a review of Oculum Echo, a followup to the first book Oculum.

Bronte indicates that she didn’t read the first book but got connected to the characters, nonetheless.

“I would recommend Oculum Echo to any sci-fi loving kid that enjoys adventures.” 

I love the fact that a student wrote a review for the book and that Helen provided the platform for it. We should see more of this.

Cynthia Solomon: Computer Science Pioneer and Equity Champion

Peter is my best “way back” and “way forward” thinking guy. He knows and has made so many connectors with people who have made significant changes in the use of technology in education.

In celebration of International Woman’s Day, Peter takes us on a trip back and looks at the work of Cynthia along with Seymour Papert.

The programming, of course, was Logo. So often, these days, when you mention Logo, it’s poo-pooed. “We introduce kids to Python, a real programming language.”

I’ve always maintained, and I still do, that that philosophy completely misses the point. My first programming language certainly isn’t in vogue these days. But, the problem solving, thinking, and collaboration has lasted me a lifetime.

I miss meeting up with Peter; just chatting with him is so powerful. This post will have to serve as a proxy.

Thanks, my friend.

And here we are at the end of another week. Please take the time to click through and read these posts. You’ll be that much smarter for doing so. And, share them with colleagues.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Brad Dixon – @TeachingMrDixon
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Helen Kubiw – @HelenKubiw
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Opening Song

Closing Song


Learning about technology

When I entered secondary school, there were basically three choices for optional courses if I recall correctly.

  • Arts and Science
  • Business and Commerce
  • Science, Technology, and Trades

Only the first option would lead you to university – the other two lead to college or the world of work.

As a Grade 8 student, I was overwhelmed with the choices. My parents were supportive but we know that parents only get part of the big picture in education. Of course, we all had to take Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, etc. We had two choices then – 5-year courses and 4-year courses. I opted for the 5-year course route. It was a bit of a mixed bag with my options. Of course, we know that these changed to Advanced and General level descriptors later on. And the changes still happen.

I did really well with my optional courses choice. My Dad was an accountant so I took Business and Commerce. In Grades 9 and 10, that involved learning how to type – mechancial typewriters in Grade 9 and then electric in Grade 10. Of all the things that I ever did for myself, this has to rank near the top. I can hammer out a blog post in minutes!

Business courses involved accounting, of course, and then in Grade 11 an experimental course in programming. I took it on a whim and that changed my direction for the rest of my life. I count myself fortunate; as a Grade 8 student looking at a course selection sheet for Grade 9, that path didn’t exist at the time.

Going into Grade 9 is still a crapshoot for parents and children. The normal route is to leave your comfortable elementary school and mix with kids from other schools into this big amalgam of students. I’m told that it’s a bit better if you went to a 7-12 school but there is still that whole educational culture change.

In time for the March Break and the OSSTF Annual General Meeting, the Minister dropped a bomb.

Ontario students will have to take a new course to graduate. Here’s what you need to know

My first reaction was “what now”?

Students will be able to choose between a number of classes approved through the “technological education” curriculum in order to get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The curriculum includes a broad range of topics such as construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality, and communications.

Thanks, CP24

Into the middle of this, we had to have a repair done on my wife’s Jeep and the labour cost was $214.95 an hour. Of course, the mechanic doing the repair wouldn’t get it all but it’s a chance to look at the reality. We hear it over and over again; there are good-paying jobs that we’re not producing students to take.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Now, normally, I’m one to take a swing at Ministry announcements but I’m holding back at this point. As noted in the news article, there will be more information to come.

I do wonder…

  • will every school be required to offer every option? Presently, there are schools that can’t offer certain programs because of a lack of numbers
  • do we have the capacity to teach all of these courses with current staff?
  • if we don’t, does this open the door to contracting those jobs out to others?
  • is the technology that currently is in place in schools appropriate for educating everyone in a current and meaningful reality?
  • what other changes will be made to accommodate this additional course> – it seems to me that something has to go to make room for this new course – will Arts courses be a casualty?
  • technology courses typically have a smaller class size than other courses – will we need more teachers?
  • will the curriculum be flexible enough to change with technological changes? – remember, computer programming wasn’t even on the radar when I was in Grade 8
  • will it be more successfully implemented than “coding” has where every classroom has their own take on what it means?

I find it interesting that we have these ideas floated without details.

This could be a biggy.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Apparently, we’re going to get another serious storm. I haven’t cleaned up since the last one. Geesh.

Here’s a collection of great reading from Ontario Educators that crossed my desk last week.

some chat about ChatGPT

In a world of all kinds of stories of doom and gloom and how education is going to hit the dumpsters comes this refreshing and I think, important, post from Will. It’s well-written and he’s obviously been doing some serious thinking about this.

I just want to note that I can remember when this Google thing came along and the end of education was predicted because kids didn’t have to learn how to use encyclopedias anymore. How did that work out?

Education embraced the concept and adjusted accordingly.

Like so many of the other articles, Will does share his thoughts about what happens when students use it to create markable content. I think I’d be less worried at the elementary school panel as my experience shows that ChatGPT does write with a certain level of sophistication. I can’t help but wonder about those who predict that students doing this stuff will go unnoticed by good educators. There’s that whole writing process thing, you know.

What really stood out here was what Will thought ChatGPT could do to make his life easier. He tried a couple of queries with success.

  • “write a comedy for 4 performers that is based on electricity, physics, time travel, and renewable energy.”
  • “Write a 10 question math quiz with some word problems for grade 6 students who are beginning to learn patterning and algebra.”

Teachers also wouldn’t be prepared to use it directly but could modify it to recognize their own classroom and student realities.

A Few Hopes for Today’s Teens

Anne-Marie shares part of her message with the students at her school as inspiration. It is a school where the students live together and so the concept of community wouldn’t be different than others. They’re going to be closer to each other, by design.

There’s a really strong message of kindness to each other running through her address. I hope that it was received with the intent of the delivery. I would encourage you to read the whole blog post because there is so much packed into it.

A couple of big takeaways for me…

“You can’t make old friends”

Of course not but I’d never heard it put that way.

My hope is that we are a community who practices “calling-in” with kindness and curiosity, so we can maintain an emotionally safe community

Shouldn’t we all be doing this on a regular basis?

And, I had this running all through my mind after I read the post.

“we tend to judge others by their behaviour, and ourselves by our intentions.”

This was so well written. Thanks for sharing it with us, Anne-Marie.

To the heart

There is such a simple message in this blog post and Diane summarizes her thoughts with a quote from Nelson Mandela.

In that sense, it seems only fitting to close with Nelson Mandela, who observed that when you speak to someone in a language they understand, it goes to their head; but when you speak to someone in their language, that goes to their heart.

You have to read and appreciate the post to know the significance of that quote and why it is so dead on.

Diane tells us a personal story that includes humidity, chalk, trains, friends, and more that really puts everything into perspective.

This is a story that would be nicely shared with students and could quite easily make a life change for some of them. I’ll bet that it makes you think about how you’re going to handle the next time the opportunity to do something so simple, and yet so powerful comes along.

Slice of (Indoor) Life

I love these Slice of Life reflections from Lisa. I’m guessing that they might now necessarily have become a blog post in any other situations.

It’s been a bizarre winter in places in Ontario and, at Lisa’s new school, there have been ice challenges on the playground that have ended up with indoor recesses.

I’ll confess that, as a secondary school teacher, I’ve never had the joy of supervising an indoor recess.

But, if I ever did, I would hope that I would have the space that Lisa has – a combination of abandoned library and computer room – space allows for storage of ongoing major projects and one came as a result of the indoor recess.

Read the post and see what happened!

Course Artifacts

You’ve got to love it when someone comes along and just gives away wonderful resources. In this case, Jennifer shares some infographics that she’s created with Canva for her AQ course.

Infographics have come into our regular use as artifacts that demonstrate things. Usually, though, they’re created by someone else. Not so here. These are her original creations.

  1. Copyright Matters

And this is just the beginning. Click through to her blog to enjoy these other infographics.

2. Health and Media Literacy

3. How can I help you online?

4. Tips for Teacher-Librarians

Hey ChatGPT, When Should I Take CPP?

Trust Peter to take new technology in a new direction. In this case, if you’re old enough to think about retirement, there are options that you have for taking the Canada Pension Plan.

In the post, he asks for financial advice…

With $xx in an RRSP and a current pension of $yy per month, when is the best time to take CPP? I am zz years old.

It was an interesting read and, as Peter notes, it does give some pretty sound advice.

I actually remember an activity in an Accounting class where we worked out how long the difference would be in years for scenarios like this.

My father also did some estate planning and I remember a couple of other variables just as if he was sitting next to me

  • how healthy are you? How long do you plan to live?
  • what if you got hit by a train on the way home?

Getting hit by the train was generic enough to be used in many scenarios.

But, ChatGPT as a retirement planner? I didn’t see that one coming.

Thanks, Peter.

This Is Leadership – EP13: T. J. Hoogsteen

Those who aspire to leadership should be reading Joel’s blog and listening to his podcasts. They’ve been a favourite around here and I highly recommend them.

Joel makes his work available on so many different platforms so there’s no excuse for missing it.

I typically will fire up a podcast as I’m working on something else and listen while working. It works well for me.

When all else fails, there’s always good old YouTube.

I hope that you can find some time to enjoy all of these terrific resources.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Anne-Marie Kee – @AMKeeLCS
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens
  • JOËL MCLEAN – @jprofnb

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Introductory Song

Closing Song

Peace Playlist

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to Friday on doug — off the record. It’s time for a wander around my Ontario Edubloggers list and pick seven posts that caught my attention this week. As always, there’s a great collection of good stuff.

Big Building Challenge

It comes as no surprise to this reader that Diana has a collection of challenges in her classroom. If you read her regular Monday morning posts, you’ll have read many stories of what active means to her. It’s always good thinking.

This time, she’s faced with a personal building challenge as she tries to assemble a “contraption” to help the youngest of students do a shadow puppet play. I’d probably go with a bed sheet and a flashlight but that doesn’t cut it here. She wants the whole package. The problem is that she has a collection of pieces and no instruction manual.

A good educational blogger brings you into their thought process as they solve a problem and that’s what this post does. Not only are the intermediate students conscripted but in come adults and her own kids.


The only thing that amazes me is that the Queen of STEM challenges is intimidated by hardware stores. I would never have guessed. If you’d asked me, I would have thought that she had a loyalty card.

In my show notes for Wednesday morning, I did have some wonders.

What happens when it comes down?  Does all the intellectual property come down with it too?  Will it be easier to do next time?

The A+ Teacher Librarian

How fitting is it that this post from Jennifer comes out just in time for the OLA Superconference. If you’ve never been there, you need to find some way to go. It’s hands down the most interesting Ontario conference that I’ve attended and I’ve been to many, including chairing a few.

As part of her Additional Qualifications course at Queen’s, she had to create a mindmap documenting her vision of what a Level 4 Teacher-Librarian might be. She constructed an image using Canva.

I enjoyed squinting my way through the graphic – there are some rich concepts fleshed out here. I particularly enjoyed thinking about the “Connects” category and it brought back strong memories of the best teacher-librarians that I’ve had the opportunity to work with.

ChatGPT search – Autotune for knowledge

I had to smile as I read this. When Dave writes, I spend so much time reading and thinking and generally it’s because he does write longer posts.

This is actually shorter than most but I spent a whole whack of time thinking about his writing.

He starts with a scenario about what our future workflow using artificial intelligence looks like. I get it although I’ll confess to a smile as to the content that they’re asking FutureGPT to ponder. It’s scary to think that Dave is predicting this process is only a couple of years away.

He turns to the topic of knowledge and what all this means. Of course, there is the extra step that need to take us to wisdom. In our connected world, knowledge is something that we’ve all become accustomed to acquiring. After all, it’s just a DuckDuckGo search away.

I enjoyed his timeline of “the algorithm”. It’s something that we’ve all experienced.

  • the librarian
  • the search engine algorithm
  • the packaged results

His theory is that we need to autotune this artifical intelligence to get the best benefit. That had me wondering whether it was autotuning for the masses or whether it’s personalized autotuning. If the former is the case, is it groupthink?; if it’s the latter, where did privacy go?

This is the stuff that keeps me from falling to sleep at night.


One of the requirements that we had in the Program Department was that we when to a conference, we had to share some of the best things from a conference or other professional learning event with the group. It was a way to leverage the money and time that was devoted to the experience.

It also helped up grow in areas that we might not have otherwise known or even thought about.

In this post, there are short summaries of presentations given at the 2022 conference. There is some great stuff here, along with some links to support further learning.

  • A Pedagogy of Belonging Includes Us All –
  • Promoting Equality and Inclusion in English Language Classes
  • Innovate your ESL Teaching with Accessibility Tools
  • LINC Stakeholders – Digital Accessibility Perspectives
    • Link to W3C Web Accessibility page – look fors
  • Mental Health and Anti-racism: Evolving Curricula for Newcomers
  • Empowering Newcomers Through Community Connections

Old Fellas New Music Notes for Episode 39

What would you do to hear more Gord Downie?

You’d head over to this blog post/podcast by Paul McGuire and Bob Kennedy. Like all their other regular posts, it’s a collection of music that I probably would have missed otherwise along with their thoughts. I always, always have music on in the background when I’m working here.

It’s another great collection along with the stories from Paul and Bob.

I enjoyed reading how this came to pass.

and the pandemic story behind this one.

Marc has been on fire for 2023 and dropped three blog posts on his “The 500” blog.

The 500 – #280 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind – U2

The back story on this post is professional wrestling. I’ll confess openly that I was a fan and watched it every Friday night with my son. I also attended Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome where I thought that I would lose my hearing when Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant in the last match. This was back when it was real and not “sports entertainment”. (OK, that’s a stretch…) The ring was set up in the mid-field and the wrestlers were delivered from the dressing rooms via a trolly. Somehow, we ended up on the floor. It was such an amazing event. Thanks for bringing back the memory, Marc.

That wasn’t Marc’s only post for the new year. Like I said, he was on fire. There were some other great posts from his blog.

The 500 – #281 – Folk Singer – My Life – Mary J Blige

She is indeed “the Queen”.

The 500 – #282 – Folk Singer – Muddy Waters

Wow, so many people have recorded this. This is the original.

The 500 – #283 – Can’t Get Enough – Barry White

Nobody could ever cover this. White had such an amazing voice.

I know that I say it every week, but what an amazing collection of blog posts! Please take time to enjoy them all.

And, follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier 
  • TESLOntario – @TESLOntario
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Marc Hodgkinson = @Mr_H_Teacher

This is a regular Friday morning post around here. I’m glad that you dropped by. Please also check out the radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs. We’re live every Wednesday morning and the show is available as a podcast later from here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Opening Song

Closing Song

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I hope that everyone has recovered from the snow storm and done so safely. My right shoulder is killing me; this was the heaviest snow I think I’ve ever shoveled. But, you’re here to read great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers so here goes…

Wouldn’t you be …?

Yes, I certainly would be and I suspect that we all would.

Sheila is following the work of Dr. Naomi Fisher and contemplated an image that was posted about a mother’s anxiety about sending kids to school.

Sheila no longer has children in the Ontario school system but that doesn’t excuse her for having some concerns about kids and what they’re dealing with at school. Looking forward, there may well be grandchildren, Sheila!

I found the post pretty serious and timely as it lead nicely into Bell Let’s Talk Day. Stephen and I had a nice chat about it on the show Wednesday morning.

Will we ever get it right? Probably not because the world and society continues to change but we all need to keep our eyes open and speak out when appropriate. Sometimes, it goes unseen by those who could actually do something about it.

It always seems that we’re playing catch up.

Teachers, YOU ROCK!

I often wonder if Kelly knows that I write about the great content she shares since she doesn’t appear to have a Twitter handle.

Teaching is an interesting profession. Not everyone could do it; not everyone wants to do it. If you think you just check in at 8:30 and check out at 2:30, you better keep on moving. The job is much more than that and requires some serious commitment, both in time, dedication, empathy, and emotion.

I was sorry to read about the challenges she had in her placements – I was the exact opposite and was paired with incredibly supportive and inspirational teachers and environments. My only challenge was commuting in the GTA. There’s another layer to add onto the level of stress.

I’m glad that she’s happy with her decision to land in this profession.

More people should blog or let the world know of their great decision.

Kelly’s post would be a great inspiration.

Daily Math Talks with Young Children

I’m old enough to know the term arithmetic.

The mathematician in me just loves this post.

I still remember a university professor who talked to us about how some baseball players become good at their job. “Practice, Practice, Practice”. How do students get good at mathematics? “They do the odd numbered questions on page 37 and then go outside and play baseball.” What if they could experience the joy of mathematics?

That’s not how it works in Deanna’s class. Absolutely, they “do” mathematics, whatever that means but they actively talk about it. In the post, she describes how the students sit and talk inspired by her. Here’s an example


I’m just inspired by her super neat printing! Numeracy is important but it shows up in many different ways in this example. I can just picture myself sitting on the floor eating this up.

This is an insightful post and composed of a lot of pictures of chart paper and activities.

I’ll bet that she has a computer and access to a data projector but there’s something extra special about hand written content like this.

Growing Age Gap

As I said in the promotion for the voicEd Radio show, the older you get, the older you get.

It’s a fact of life.

Matthew is starting to realize this.

Every September he welcomes kids of a certain age into his class. They’re always the same age. However, he’s just another year older.

And that is the realization that teaching suspends time. Halfway. I mean, only one side.
– Matthew Morris

I wish I could offer you a rap version of this, Matthew. But, I grew old. Rod Stewart offers some advice.

Leading by Example or What’s Good for the Goose…

Last week, I attended my wife’s aunt’s funeral.

If there ever was a setting where you have collection of people who might be at risk of getting Covid, this has to be it. Lots of elderly friends paying last respects in a small location and who knows what kind of ventilation there was. I’ll give credit to the funeral home; they had masks beside the hand sanitizer. We brought our own. I can tell you that we were definitely in the minority wearing it though.

But, wait! There’s another setting – schools.

Marie is the voice of safety and yet the closest to ensuring that everyone is safe is this sign.


If you follow the Kitchener news (I do and it drives my daughter nuts), there isn’t agreement there any more than there is anywhere else. Folks, Covid is not over. We’re just not reporting about it.

Marie takes a look at the set of rules at the Davos World Economic Forum where there is a three page document outlining Covid rules and regulations. That doesn’t play out the same way in her schools.

We seem to be all over the map on this. How will we ever kick it?

#LearningInTheLoo: Feedback w/ Voice Notes feat. @DeannaToxopeus

This was a little different from the regular things from Laura’s blog.

It’s a “Learning in the Loo” created by Deanna. A guest blogger!

Here’s a snippet.

Of course, you’ll have to click through to get the whole document!

But…I Just Want Checkmarks

I’ll just leave this here. I did read her post and tagged it for this post.

Sadly, the site seems to be down. Maybe it will come back with time. Daphne is at FETC so undoubtedly busy doing something else.

Please find some time today or on the weekend to click through and enjoy these blog posts.

Drop off a comment if you’re inspired.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking
  • Deanna McLennan – @McLennan1977
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Marie Snyder – @MarieSnyder27
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Daphne McMenemy – @McMenemyTweets

This is a regular Friday morning post around here, celebrating the best in Ontario blogging. You can find all of the past posts here.