This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday, a long weekend, and an opportunity for me to share some thoughts about some great reading I did this past week from Ontario Edubloggers.


Slice of Life: What’s That Smell?

How’s that for a blog title inspiring a musical memory? The title connects to Elizabeth Lyons’ post and that’s pretty much sums it up.

She blogs about a smell that her husband’s super sensitive nose and a smell in the house. After I read the post, I told Jaimie about the first accused and his response was:

Always blame the dog

After reading the post, I can report that the dog was finally left off the hook and they did find the source of the smell. You’ll have to click through to find out where in Elizabeth’s little Slice of Life.


Ripping #SOL

Here’s another Slice of Life post, this time from Melanie White.

It’s a fun post that talks about friends, colleagues, support, and emoji. Oh, and buying books

because the students need some joy

There’s a great deal of joy indeed in reading this post and I can’t help but reflect on the value of friendships that flows from Melanie’s writing. There is, of course, the friendship that she and her two friends have together but then also the online friends that checked in with comments.

Off on a tangent, she uses the word emojis to note the plural of emoji. Now, I’m not an English teacher but it just kind of made my eyes water so I did some research and it appears that both are acceptable. I guess it’s another reason why people find English so difficult to learn.

But, my research did lead me to this wonderful resource – https://emojipedia.org/


School Communication Plan

If you have plans to become a principal or you are a principal and you have questions about the effectiveness of your own communication plan, you would be well advised to check out Jessica Outram’s latest post.

With a grin on my face, the only thing that I found missing was it being published as a poem!

She had my interest when I took a first look at her post and she saw that her Staff Handbook was digital. How many of you still get a physical binder with resources in September and it’s supposed to last you for the entire school year?

There are two big ideas in the post:

  • Big Idea #1: If we communicate effectively with parents we will share the school’s story, better serve students, and build better partnerships and sense of belonging and pride.
  • Big Idea #2: If we communicate effectively with each other we will strengthen our team, collaborate more, and ensure consistency.

The big ideas are nicely fleshed out as she addresses Whole School Communication, Principal to Staff Communication, and Staff to Parent Communication Plan.

I’d be willing to bet that she’d be open to constructive criticism with her plans to help it grow and become even better.


Starting Thinking Classroom Socially Distanced

There’s a strong message here that Amy Bowker is happy to be back in her classroom, despite the physical limitations. When she describes what normally happens in her classroom, it’s easy to see that it didn’t translate easily to working online.

For those who are thinking that back to school in COVID days involves sitting at a socially distance desk space, you’ll have your mind changed after reading Amy’s post.

I couldn’t believe the amount of engagement during this series of problems. The students were so into solving the problems that they were running back and forth from the projector to their whiteboards.

It was nice to see her give a nod to the artistic abilities of Laura Wheeler for her drawings in the Thinking Classrooms book.

I was impressed with the amount of whiteboard space she illustrates and mentioned it in the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. She shares the “high tech” solution is a Twitter message.


The 500 – #350 – Roger The Engineer – Yardbirds

I’m following with great interest Marc Hodgkinson’s analysis of the top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

I’ll admit that this one took my by surprise. Of course, I know of the Yardbirds – who doesn’t? I’d never heard of this album though or any of the songs on it.

Off on a tangent, I got curious as to when Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds and went down yet another rabbit whole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Yardbirds_members This gives a complete listing of all of the members who ever where in the Yardbirds and notably identifies the big gap in their history.

This folks, is why I read blogs, to learn things.

And, I was wrong; I had heard one of the songs before – as Marc points out it was the song in the Chevrolet Cobalt commercial. I owned one of them and it was a great car.

Thanks, Marc for the lesson.


#ThinkingClassroom Question Prompts Graphic

Weren’t we just talking about Laura Wheeler? Why yes, we were in Amy Bowker’s post above.

Laura answered this prompt

In August Kristen Huang mentioned on Twitter that it would be useful to have a phone-friendly graphic of the 10 Things to Say in Response to a Proximity or Stop-Thinking Question from Peter Liljedahl‘s Building Thinking Classrooms book.

with a graphic!

Here’s a bit of it

You’ll have to go to Laura’s blog post to see the entire graphic and she makes the original graphic freely available to download.

She suggests using it as a screen lock image for your phone. What a great concept and a nice solution.

It may well open your mind to other ways that you could use that lock screen in your classroom.


Slice of Life: Candles

It wouldn’t be fair to have a couple of Slice of Life posts without bringing Lisa Corbett into the picture.

For her, it was all about burning candles while she’s at home with sick kids and “disinfecting and sanitizing” her whole house. What a job!

She shares a good story about a candle that she wasn’t particularly fond of and obviously the feeling was mutual after it blew up on her!

It’s now out of her life along with the horse that it rode in on!

“Be gone!”


Please take the time to click through and enjoy these wonderful blog posts.

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

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261

I’m always on the lookout for great new blogs written by Ontario Educators. Please reach out if you know of one that I don’t.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Elizabeth Lyons, president-elect of the Ontario School Librarians’ Association and co-host of the Read into This podcast was the guest host on the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. Besides a nice conversation, she was able to share a teacher-librarian perspective to the five blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers that we featured on the show.


One Word. My Word.

We started the show by looking at Elizabeth’s personal blog. You’ll recall that instead of a #oneword for a year, she’s elected to choose one word per month. It’s interesting that others have agreed with her rationale for doing so and have followed her lead.

Except for June. She picked a word but didn’t share it with us or blog about it.

Moving to July … her word is “Listen”. Now, we’ve all heard this word used ad nauseum in education and I was kind of expecting a familiar spin to the use of the word.

Boy, was I wrong.

She bravely turned the post into a personal story of her teaching life from the last year and the challenges she had as she listened to herself and took action.

I don’t use the word “brave” lightly. You’ll know why when you read the post. Quite frankly, I anguished over whether to include this post but she’s pinned it to the top of her Twitter timeline. She wants to share the story. Do it for her. It’s sad to think that there may be all kinds of other educators who are in the same boat but don’t have the same release or network for support.


Wiki Wondering

There has been this group of post-secondary educators who are really pushing themselves into a new world with technology and then seeing how it fits into their professional life.

This blog post is a collection of wondering about wikis from Helen DeWaard. In particular, her focus is on the greatest of wikis – Wikipedia.

I’m old enough and experienced enough to recall when Wikipedia was a four letter word. Use of it as a scholarly source was forbidden. And yet, here we are today and often this is the first result you get from any internet search. Such is the value. The amazing part is just how it got that way and Helen addresses that so nicely among other things.

Personal wikis were interesting to me at one point too. After doing about a million Dreamweaver workshops and creating a lot of static and ultimately stale webpages, there were wiki creation sites that came along and let you create a presence in a matter of minutes. I used dougpete.pbworks.com ultimately as a repository for many of the materials for my workshops. It’s still there and I poke around a bit but I’d have to do some real work to update it. Eight Weeks to Web 2.0 was a course that I put online for teachers to get up to speed with social things over the summer. The topics are still valid although my former employer dropped the use of FirstClass which was the tool I used for a few of the tools.

I spent a lot of time on Helen’s post. It’s rich with links and resources. She’s done a lot of work getting this up for us. You need to read and explore.

Her wonders?

  • about wiki education?
  • how to connect wiki education to your teaching?
  • what’s behind the Wikipedia curtain?
  • who’s behind the curtain?
  • what I did?
  • where this is going next?

Slice of Life: The farm

I know that Lisa Corbett thinks that this was a unique story about her family and it probably was. But it isn’t much of a leap for me to think of places around here where I could and have taken my family to do many of the same activities.

I’m sure that you could add to the list. It is an amazing family outing.

What makes Lisa’s post so particularly delightful is that she and her family can now actually visit these wonderful places, pick fruit, do family things at the playgrounds and more.

The thing that really intrigues me from Lisa’s post are Funnel Fries.

I’ve never heard of them before but if I ever see them on a menu …


Reading List for National Indigenous History Month

This is a timely post for educations and teacher-librarians who are working hard to get caught up on things that were never part of our education.

Jessica Outram has been collecting texts from Indigenous authors for over 25 years.

In this post, she shares what she would like others to read from her collection. In the post, she gives us 30 titles to consider.

If you’re looking for a starting point or just want more, check out this post.

While there, check out her Hummingbird podcast and Poetry sections.


ZARA HOSSEIN IS HERE BY SABINA KHAN

From Alanna King, a concept not specifically this particular post.

On her blog, Alanna shares with us the titles and her thoughts about the books that she’s reading and researching.

I could see a couple of uses for this.

  • it’s a way to record her personal reading and research to bring back later. We all know that we learn better when we create something
  • it’s a way to engage a community of educators who are looking for new titles and don’t necessarily want to start from scratch

I see a great deal of value in both uses.


Myth of Hybrid Multitasking

I was tagged in the announcement of the release of this blog post from Deborah Weston. I think we all know what inspired her to write about this at this particular point in time.

We’re still waiting for the current government to let us know what education will look like in the fall. I know that many are fearful for the notion of hybrid teaching – simultaneous online and face-to-face and the challenges that that provides. Personally, I think that the whole issue goes far beyond the concept that a teacher may have students in two places

Deborah has done some research into the notion of multitasking in general and I like the specific inclusion of the research about the smartphone that she includes.

I don’t buy into the concept 100%. For example, I’m writing the blog post while a John Fogerty concert is playing on YouTube and I’m humming along. I’ve always worked better with music in the background.

Even the whole notion of teaching – forget the hybrid component for a second -isn’t a singular task. Any teacher will tell you that you that there are always various tasks that you’re juggling just to get the job done. We’ve always joked with students about having eyes in the backs of our heads. If the goal is to talk about two modes of teaching happening simultaneously, that would be an interesting discussion. Managing all that is happening or should be happening in one mode can be overload at times. Doubling that is the real issue in my mind.


Drone Sunrise #0303: Three Different Styles

So, Peter Beens now has a drone to add to his collection of things to explore and play with! I wish I had his money. I’ve learned so much from him about photography over the years.

In this case, he sent his drone skyward to take a picture of a sunrise and then applies a number of filters to it and asks us to choose.

I’m impressed that he was able to find water this calm and reflective first thing in the morning.

Drone Sunrise #0303 - The Original

In terms of his question, I prefer the first of the three images. The other two look too altered to me. In the post, he doesn’t tell us what he did to the images. That would have been interesting to know.


Please take some time to click through and check out all these terrific posts.

Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Helen DeWaard – @hj_dewaard
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is live most Wednesday mornings on voicEd Radio. This week’s show is located here.

About me


I was taking a wander around the blog last night and got hung up on the “About Me” page. The information there seems mostly up to date but there was an infographic in there from a long time ago. I figured I should get rid of it.

The content there was really dated. It had collections of Twitter profiles from people who are no longer in my networking world. It was also back before the days that I spent a lot of time organizing folks into Twitter Lists as opposed to this one great big long list of followers.

Fortunately, it was branded with the source of the graphic – a Visual.ly Labs project. Unfortunately, that project is no longer available from what I can see. So, I went looking for another visualization. Why? Just because I can, I suppose. There were a few available but I also wanted one that I didn’t need to sign in to; I just wanted something that would take my public facing stuff because that’s all that anyone can see anyway.

I ended up looking at Foller.me. You can see the whole page of results at: https://foller.me/dougpete

There were a couple of parts of the graphic that really stood out to me and I think best describes what I use Twitter for.

The first was the topics that I mention and displayed in a tag cloud format.

There’s some good stuff in there and I’ve got to lend credibility with the prominence of “ontario” and “educators”. Follow me on Friday mornings to see why!

The second was a collection of Twitter profile images of people that I’ve interacted with.

Are you in there?

I thought that it was an interesting exercise. I’m going to include the tag cloud of topics in the About Me page as I’ve killed off the previous infographic.

#RIP ?


Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I was out and about away from my keyboard and I happened to look at my phone. Twitter had been left on and, in particulary, I had the “What’s Happening” screen open. I do find it interesting to see what is going on in the world and what people are talking about.

Sometimes, it turns up interesting things; sometimes, it doesn’t.

In this case “#RIP Twitter” was trending!

What?

According to this article on The Verge a subscription option will be made available on Twitter in the future. So, you could charge people for your content or likely, your premium content.

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans.

It’s not a new concept. I’m thinking particularly of online newspapers that only offer subsets of their content for free. This comes in the form of only allowing you to read # articles a month or you only get the headline and pay for the article or there’s just this super secret area that only paid people get access to.

I’ve been around Twitter for a long time. I always thought of it as “citizen journalism” where groups of us would share our learning and thoughts. Once it took off though, having a presence became really important for companies and media services. If you’re not on Twitter, you lose out on a quick and effective way to reach a larger audience.

But are you willing to pay for it?

I can see it as a business plan. But is it a plan that you want to buy into? The general concensus of those posting to that hashtag is that they wouldn’t.

As of yet, we don’t necessarily know all of the details.

My immediate thought is that we would lose an element of Twitter that makes it Twitter. People sharing ideas and thoughts with others. If I’m a business, am I going to stop participating in favour of a paid service where I could make more money for myself and Twitter as broker?

We’re already seeing promoted Twitter messages. Would we see even more as people / businesses try to get you to buy in to their services? Of course, we could unfollow them but promoted messages are there no matter what.

Would it lead to a noisier conversation place? Or would it lead to a quieter one?

I’d be interesting in your immediate thoughts. Would you hang around if the new model kicks in? If you wouldn’t, where would you go? Is this the end of online collaboration?

Please take a moment and share your thoughts.

The value of a network


According to Twitter, I’ve had an account since 2007. Before that, I took the traditional approach to learning.

That typically meant signing up for courses, taking workshops, going to conferences, and doing a lot of error and trial. With my background, my focus typically was education, technology, and technology in education. I make no apologies for that. That was my job and I’d do anything (well many things) to stay on top of things. I shudder when I look at some “leaders” who are still mired with approaches of years gone by.

Being a member of Twitter changed all that although not much in the beginning. A Twitter account only works when you follow and interact with smart people. A trite phrase back then was “the smartest person in the room is the room”. I still see it these days but it had a more special meaning for me back then.

These days, I follow a lot of people. Some I follow directly and others I follow on Twitter lists, private and public. Ontario Educators should know about the lists since they’re my resource for Friday mornings. My routine for learning involves a number of things but I really value the inspiration that appears in those lists.

In addition to letting the lists generate content, I’ve started paper.li documents for each of the lists. Daily, it pulls together inspirational content from members and puts them in a newsletter format. On my timeline, it will look something like this.

These documents provide such a wealth of information. Just click the link in the Twitter announcement above. I’d be lying if I told you that I read them from cover to cover although I try my best.

From these, I get a sense of what’s relevant enough from others to share it along with a continuous feed of news stories. They’re not always about technology or education and that’s a good thing. We all like following politics.

Here’s a perfect example of some learning that I was only able to have as a result of someone sharing it and paper.li making it part of a document.

Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

Click through for the entire graphic and story.

For those that think they know everything, it really should be a humble realization that there is so much available to learn. It brings back another old trite phrase “the internet is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant”.

For those who are not connected, this should serve as motivication to get connected and connected to wise people. I so value those in my lists or, as I like to call them, “Active Ontario Educators”.

The connections made and their value supports the notion that learning never ends. It’s almost criminal when people join Twitter because they were required to because of some course and then drop it when the course is over.

Of course we live in interesting times. These times, technology, and education are not sitting still for anyone. We all need techniques to try and stay in sight of things. This is one of the ways that I do it myself.