Edutwitter Celebrities

I’ll blame/credit Stephen Downes for leading me down this rabbit hole. I read his OLDaily every day. If I do nothing else, I enjoy his commentary on the articles that he shares and, more often than naught, I’ll follow a link or two in his story summary to learn more.

This past week, this came across.

And off I went!

It took a bit of work because the links to Twitter didn’t work well with the new Twitter but eventually, I got it to take me to the right place. And what a deep rabbit hole. It all started with a conversation inspired by this Twitter message.

Along the way, I ran into opinion and shoutouts against a couple of people who have left the profession early and made a job of speaking. One person mentioned that she had ended up being blocked by this person. Follow the second link in Stephen’s story for that one.

It also leads to this article from a couple of years ago that will have you thinking, I hope.

The bottom line is that Edutwitter Celebrities or EduCelebrity isn’t something that you want to necessarily aspire to be! Link above actually goes to a parody account. It’s worth the click to read the timeline.

I couldn’t help but draw a mental comparison to your typical educational speaker before Twitter. Certainly, I’ve sat in that audience and listened to many a professional learning event speaker waxing on about what I was doing wrong and that my classroom should be more like this mythical classroom that is so well described but never really identified which makes you think it might be the things that dreams are made of.

In my work with ECOO and the WesternRCAC, I’ve hired many a keynote and have tried to avoid the speaker who drops in for a canned speech, collects her/his cheque, and then departs. I always insisted on having a breakout session immediately after the keynote called “A Conversation with …” where those who want to dig deeper on the concepts from the keynote and to challenge some of the statements given. The response when explained to the potential speaker can range from “That’s a great concept” to “I’m not coming if those are the rules”. Maybe afraid of saying Stupid Things?

One of the drawbacks of the popularity of social media platforms is that anyone can promote anything (and usually do, starting with themselves). We talk about media literacy so much – is identifying the true person behind the handle something that should be on the list. You had better have nodded to that sentence.

I’ve delivered many sessions myself and always enjoy the opportunity to talk about things afterwards. I think that it forces you to prepare better, make it relative to the potential audience, and really know your stuff. I’d hate to be called out on a fact or two that I couldn’t defend.

It’s called “making it real”. So, if I had to define #Edutwitter Celebrity, I think that would be the tipping point for me. It’s not about describing the ideal school with perfect students all achieving at huge levels and creating moon lander simulations with Micro:bits or some other technology that you don’t have and probably never will. That school doesn’t exist. It’s about describing concepts and practices that work in the mix that all classrooms have.

It’s also about those that put themselves out there by describing their professional practices and weaknesses and entertaining suggestions for improvement or enhancement. Quite frankly, that’s what inspires me to identify great Ontario Education bloggers every Friday. These are real classroom professionals talking about their own little corner of education reality. They’re the ones that you are to believe and to learn from.

My celebrities from the past week include:

  • @Dunlop_Sue
  • @staoapso
  • @raspberryberet3
  • @mcguirp
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @mediasee

So, here is a complete list of my personal #Edutwitter Celebrities’ blogs.

And, a tip of the hat to Stephen for bringing this discussion to my attention.


A little bling

Every now and again, I marvel at how much Twitter has changed since I got my first account in August 2007. At that time, it was even blocked in my school district and I had to convince the powers that be that that needed to be changed. Of course, it’s now become mainstream and used with various levels of effectiveness to communicate and network with others.

In the beginning, and up until recently, a name was a name was a name. Pick your shade of Arial…

Earlier this year, I had written this post about “Funky Fonts” which allowed you to change the default font of your name. It’s a fun way to personalize your name. Remember the Unicode Table?

Recently, I’ve run across another utility that goes beyond just changing the font, if you so desire. Maybe you want a little more bling to your name?

Then, check out Psfont tk.

Look at the options from the top menu…

There’s a little / lot in there for everyone. If you’re looking for another way to spice up your digital life, this might be of interest to you.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can you believe that it’s August already? I could swear that I saw my breath while walking the dog this morning. That’s not right either.

I’m also trying out a new resolution that I used to expouse all the time but don’t do it enough myself until I fell into the trap last week – save early, save often.

What is right are the great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on…

Final Thoughts

I just found out about this blog from Shyama Sunder. It’s a wrap up summary and reflection of her time in EDU 498, a course taken a while ago at a Faculty of Education. Unless I missed it, the actual name of the Faculty didn’t appear anywhere but that’s OK.

The content is a summary of four modules taken. There is a nice summary of each of the modules and the enthusiasm she has comes through loudly and clearly.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a fan of the SAMR model but it was included as content. If it had any value, I would see if as helpful for experienced teachers trying to embrace technology. I don’t see the wisdom of talking about it to teachers learning how to teach. Why not just teach how to do it properly to begin with? What value is there in demonstrating less than exemplary lessons?

In the post, Shyama makes reference to a book that everyone needs to read “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job” by Yong Zhao, Goaming Zhang, Jing Lei, and Wei Qiu. That’s a book that should be in every school library and would make for an awesome and progressive book talk.

This blog is referenced on her Twitter profile and there’s no forwarding address. It would be interesting to see her pick up blogging in her professional life.


Jamey Byers wrote this post so that others wouldn’t have to!

I remember being at a conference once – I think it was in Denver – and Robert Martellacci came up to me and asked if I knew that one of the prominent speakers had liked a link from an adult film star showing a picture of herself. I hadn’t noticed; I’m not in the habit of checking out what people have saved as liked. Maybe I should?

Actually, maybe I should check what I’ve got in my likes! Phew. Other than some egotistic stuff, I think I’m good. (I’m also snooty – go back to the very first one!)

Jamey points out that there’s a new, more private feature available to us on Twitter.

With the addition of the bookmarks function in Twitter you now have the ability to not only like a tweet, but to save it to your private list of bookmarks that are strictly just for your eyes only.

I wonder how many people are using the feature. I’m certainly not. Maybe I should.

The Playful Approach to Math

Matthew Oldridge is now playing in the big leagues with this post on Edutopia. I remember when he was a guy I interviewed for this blog.

He brings his obvious love and passion for Mathematics to this new forum and I hope that people are inspired by his wisdom. Comments are not allowed so there’s no traditional way of knowing.

Truer words were never spoken than these…

The amount of play in “serious” academic topics like mathematics is inversely proportional, it seems, to the age of students, but this does not have to be the case. A playful pedagogy of mathematics can be codified and made real, rigorous, and authentic.

I’ve studied a lot of mathematics over the years and certainly those teachers/professors that I remember best love mathematics; it came across that way, and their playful approach made learning fun and worthwhile.

Can you think of a better testament to give an educator?

My device. My terms. 3 strategies for finding balance.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of those people that I’ve seldom met in real life and yet I feel like I know so much about her. She was another person I had the opportunity to interview. I also had the opportunity to help with her book Social LEADia. This should be on bookshelves everywhere.

I enjoy her writing and most of her posts come across as a personal message to me. Such in the power of her writing.

I struggle with the notion of “balance”. The current context is that it involves being connected and not doing other things – like reading a book. I’m always leary of people who make such claims. Isn’t it just exchanging one form of engagement for another? And, hasn’t social media engagement earned its way into our lives?

I like Jennifer’s reasoned approach…

Social media is here to stay and is a part of the fabric of business, politics, and education. Instead of a fast, I suggest the following strategies:

You’ll have to read her post to see if the strategies make sense to you!

When friendship lasts

without warning or explanation, they started talking and, just like that, resumed their friendship from three years ago when they were six. Hours later, after the park, the corner store, the house; after basketball and jungle gyms and ice cream; after talking and laughing and wrestling, they parted reluctantly, already asking when they could see each other again.

Here’s a quote from Amanda Potts’ recent post.

I’ll bet that you could drop that sentence into any conversation or writing that you might have and provide your own characters.

It might be:

  • meeting up at an annual conference
  • a class reunion from your old high school
  • reuniting with a staff after a summer vacation

and the list goes on. Friendship is such an tangible and yet intangible concept. This post describes a pair of friendships that easily fall into the above.

Those on Facebook will know that a friend to many will be returning to Canada after a couple of years overseas. I’ll bet we all will reunite in this fashion at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

The #UWinToolParade: Open Pedagogy as #OER

In the beginning, there were shiny things. People flocked to shiny things and made a place in the classroom whether they were good or not. I’m looking at you – Clickers.

As shiny things kept on invading classrooms, the good thinkers got us thinking that maybe we should be looking beyond these things into exactly how they are used, are they effective, are they worth the cost, etc.

We never looked back. Well, at ISTE there are still 30 tools in 30 minutes sessions. For the most part, we never looked back.

So, now comes Bonnie Stewart and

I have a new project I’m really excited about. Even if it kinda goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve said about tech in education over the past, uh, decade.

I’ve read this post at least a dozen times and there are so many out of post links that will take you to rabbit holes that didn’t know they were hosting rabbits!

The proposed results?

The fact that it’s 2019 is loud and clear with the inclusion of “data surveillance”.

This looks incredibly interesting and will use social media for good for the description and dissemination of content. Read the post and get ready to follow. And, Bonnie is looking for some pilot locations if you’re interested.

Reflections from the Tech Guy

This TWIOE post seems to have been focused on people I’ve interviewed! This time, it’s David Carruthers.

As we’ve noticed recently, David is going to be doing some magic as he returns to the classroom after having been the “Tech Guy” at the board office for a while.

He sets the standard with his bottom line.

Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.

Some words of advice here – you’ll always be known as the “Tech Guy” so wear it. There are worse things to be known for. You’ve built relationships throughout your district so don’t be surprised when you get some panic emails for help. I still get them. The most enjoyable are about report cards which have had many incarnations since I last formally supported them. The really cool thing happens when these relationships develop your learning because someone wants to share something new with you.

On a political note, things are likely to be difficult for a while as cutbacks affect districts throughout the province. I hope that school districts are wise enough to continue to put insightful “Tech Guys” in areas of support centrally. We know that anyone can click a mouse or use a keyboard these days. True progress comes when you have people like David that see the connection and the potential because they bring a strong background in teaching to such a support position.

As always, there’s a powerful collection of thoughts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers. Make sure you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @ssunderaswara
  • @mrJameyByers
  • @matthewoldridge
  • @jcasatodd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @bonstewart
  • @dcarruthersedu

This post originated on

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

This time for good?

I’ve been playing with the “New Twitter” for a while now. It originally felt fairly similar with just few things moved around on the screen. Sadly, I’d run into a problem somewhere and would switch back to “Legacy Twitter”.

During a very hot spell this week, I gave it another shot and was knocked back in my chair. Things most certainly had changed.

If you have a wide screen monitor, one of the complaints that you might have had (like I did) was that it didn’t use all of the screen. Now, there’s nothing wrong with white space but still … My new visit seemed to use all of the screen.

As I poked around on the screen, I noticed a “More” option. I’m always up for more.

There wasn’t a huge amount here but things I definitely wanted to play with and test. I made the text as small as possible (it gets more on the screen) and I went for a darker experience. “Dim” is actually quite nice and easy enough on the eyes without going full “Lights Out”.

And, of course, I had to make the colour green.

I typically bounce back and forth from Twitter on the web to Tweetdeck. This new look is really appealing and access to my Lists very convenient. I like the new layout and haven’t had anything that I felt I wanted to do but couldn’t.

The only thing is that Tweetdeck is looking a little old and tired. Is there nothing that will satisfy me?

Have you tried the New Twitter look? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

From the blogs of some of Ontario’s Edubloggers, check out some of the latest. And, by the way, if you are in Ontario an are an educational blogger, there’s a form there so that you join this amazing collection.

Another One Bites the Dust?

From Jennifer Aston, a story that occurs too often with educational software/web resources.

She put considerable time and energy into learning a particular software product, teaching her students how to use it effectively, shared the resource with a parent community that she wants to engage with, and then it’s gone.

When I saw the title, I thought it might be a lament about the passing of Google + but no. In this case, it was a piece of software that she and staff members had devoted time to learning to create and share student portfolios.

You can read her entire experience and see the software titles that are involved in the post.

Such a situation has happened to me more than I would like. It’s part of life for technology users, it seems. I wonder if it’s more pronounced in education. A first response is typically like one that Jennifer includes in this post. In education, moments are precious and those lost during a change in software can be painful. Knowing Jennifer, I suspect that she’ll fall back a bit and then pick up her game with the new software.

It’s still frustrating though. As it would happen, Anthony Carabache had shared a post he had written a while ago that applies … “Embrace the Beta“.

Roll Out The Red Carpet

This was an interesting approach from Heidi Solway. Normally, I visit a blog and start reading. Not so in this case. Before I got to the content, there was a disclaimer.

SPECIAL NOTE: This blog post is unique from all other posts.  I am writing it for my Teaching English Language Learners – Part 1 additional qualification course. The assignment is to, create a mock blog post entry that supports educators with creating a classroom environment that welcomes and supports newcomer ELLs. 

I guess the point was to let us know that it wasn’t part of her job or her regular blogging routine.

But, stepping away from that, it’s a fabulous post that is worthy of note, not only to ELL classrooms but to all classrooms. There are tips and suggestions for welcoming new students, starting from the beginning, setting the classroom environment, designing appropriate activities, and more.

Personally, I think that it’s a great post worth sharing despite the disclaimer. There’s nothing there that I don’t think any teacher wouldn’t want to embrace. Faculty of Education students might take particular note.

Doesn’t everyone expect a “Red Carpet” treatment when they go somewhere new? It lets you jump right in. I’ll challenge Heidi right now to roll out the red carpet at EdCampLondon this weekend.

The only thing that was missing from her thoughts was how to post political action posters…

For Mrs. Barkman

“Where were you when … happened?”

I think that we all have memories like that. Such was the case for Amanda Potts who shared a memory of her teacher during the Space Shuttle explosion. For her,

The space shuttle exploded sometime between the end of Algebra 1 and the beginning of English.

Two of my own memories came back as a result of Amanda’s post.

  • I was in the living room at our Minister’s house when news came across the television about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • I was setting up for a workshop in a computer lab in Essex when my support person called and told me to turn on the television and the news because of the airplanes flying into the World Trade Centre

While I still remember these vividly, I don’t think about them daily. It’s only when prompted.

For Amanda, her prompt came from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Click through to read her thoughts. It’s a very powerful post.

It will get you thinking. That’s gold for bloggers like Amanda.

No Wifi: Pretend it’s 1993


WiFi is ubiquitous, isn’t it? In fact, I know people that buy smartphones without a data plan because it’s everywhere they want to be and they can live without being connected in others. Like driving a car, for example.

Now, Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of the more connected educators that I know – except apparently at her dinner table. (Mental note in case I’m ever invited to dine with her)

Her story, in this case, was about springing herself from self-imposed isolation while doing some research and wanting to go somewhere where there were people and she could also get connected.

She ran into a sign that had a message she wasn’t comfortable with.

Apparently not the actual sign but close enough to make her point.

So, the question becomes:

  • is the sign condescending?
  • is the sign humour?
  • is the sign there to stop people from ordering and then complaining that there was no WiFi?

I don’t suppose it’s one of the world’s greatest questions but Jennifer answered with her feet and went somewhere where her needs could be addressed.

If I was the owner of the place, I’d put a piece of chalk out and let people express their opinions about the policy.

Wait – that’s so 1993 – today we rate service on Facebook or Yelp.

EdTechTeam Ontario Summit 2019

Zélia Capitão-Tavares describes herself as:

Artist | Proud Mom | M.Ed. | TDSB Hybrid Teacher – Digital Lead Learner | Passionate about Digital Literacy | Google Educator & Innovator #TOR16

So, what does she do to fill her weekends?

For one, she goes to the Ontario Summit and apparently enjoyed the learning. She offers a description of the messages from the keynote speakers, the CSFirst Sessions she was involved with and an acknowledgement of the EdTechTeam that lead the event.

All this, plus she was a Spotlight Speaker too! It’s always nice to be recognized for accomplishments and abilities as a leader so kudos to her for reaching that level.

She also mentions something in the post that often goes unaddressed by conference goers. Definitely, during the event, you’re hit over the head with the message of sharing your learning with others via Social Media. I suppose there’s the selfish purpose of the organizers to be “trending” but often that’s about it.

Zélia mentions that, when she had a chance to recharge, that she went back to take a look at the learning and sharing that happened. That’s something we all can do. The sharing on Twitter happened here.

The Courage to Teach

Thanks, Deborah Weston, for alerting me to your latest post on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

This is another post that brought back memories for me.

I had no problems accepting the job offer for my first teaching position. After all, it was the only one on the table and I had no other alternative if I wanted a job. I walked into my classes on that first day knowing I was going to be the best thing that ever happened to those students. I knew stuff, a lot of stuff, and my job was to teach them a bit of what I knew.

That was Day 1. Everything went downhill from there.

I think that the biggest thing I learned was that teaching was not about me. It was about everything else that circled around me. Students, colleagues, curriculum, Ministry directives, politics, Federation involvement, coaching, … I could go on but, if you’re a teacher, you know all this.

It also was sobering when one of the people I attended the Faculty of Education tried to organize a reunion five years after we graduated. Some of us were teachers, some had become teachers and left, and some never got into the profession.

It was the ones who had become teachers and left that was the most powerful to me personally. I think that Deborah sums it up nicely in her section “Why do teachers lost heart?

It’s an important message to reflect on as things are anything but idyllic in Ontario Education these days.

Keep It Simple. (thanks, Rachel)

There were two things about this post from Colleen Rose that challenged me.

  • there are a few pictures in the post that don’t come through and I’m guessing that it’s because I’m not friends with the original poster. I was able to visualize because of Colleen’s comments
  • Colleen is a dear friend and such a talent. I have half of one of her painting here in my office. Another friend has the other half.

She received advice advice about using her gifts

My friend Liz (a retired teacher who is adventuring and teaching in China) spoke to me about using our gifts, and that there is a reason why they’ve been given to us.  It’s true — when I create, and especially when I paint, I feel that I am living life to its fullest.

This is such a powerful message, not only to Colleen, but to us all. What is your gift? Are you using it? If not, why not?

Please take a few moments to read these inspirational blog posts in their entirety. You’ll be glad that you did.

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

This post originally appeared on:

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Please take a few moments to kick back and read these inspirational posts from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Dear Ontario Educators,

It’s not an easy time to be an Ontario Educator.  With the current situation, it’s easy to feel like you’re disrespected and unsupported.

Peter Skillen shares his thoughts that hopefully, will pick you up.  He reminds you that you do terrific things daily and that there are students in your care who like and appreciate your efforts.  And, isn’t that the ultimate goal?

From the empathetic things that you do to make things work to the academics and efforts that make it happen, Peter offers a real reminder of the importance of the things that you do.

And, if you’re looking for the data driven element, Peter shares the world rankings in PISA.

It’s good to be in the green.


When I first heard about #EdcampBeijing from Ann Marie Luce, I did what any Twitter user would do.  I tracked the hashtag and created a Wakelet from the Twitter messages.

That’s a collection of the firsthand messages that were flying from the event.  The background and organizer reflections come from this post from Ann Marie.

What struck me as really unique, although not unexpectedly, was the way that both English and Chinese were embraced throughout the event.  Ann Marie gives us a picture of the schedules with both languages.  Quite frankly, I only understood one of them.

As would be expected, there are some pictures to capture the learning at this 160 person event.

As any good post would have, there were some reflections about the successes and the room for improvement.  They were particularly interesting to read because they went beyond the typical “we need more food” and went to the heart of a two language event and how that went and/or could be better.

I’d never seen something like that before.  Very interesting and congratulations to those involved in making it happen.  And, of course, to Ann Marie for sharing it with us.

Be Strong in the Face of Poor Government

There’s a strong message in this post from Will Gourley on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

Be strong

Like Peter Skillen’s post, this is a timely reminder for teachers of their power and skills that make great things happen on a daily basis.

Of course, into the mix comes the posturing and messages that will be heart over and over as we head into a time of negotiations.

You can’t avoid them; they will be everywhere and staff rooms will be full of conversations.  Your children may also hear the messages and be curious.

Will reminds all – be strong.

Sidney Helped

Jessica O’Reilly’s post reminded me of my first foray into the Twitter world.  I was told I needed to be “connected” but not necessarily “why”.  Sure, there was a small number of recommendations of people to follow but that was about it.

The missing part was the magic that is actually required on my end to make the magic happen on the Twitter end.

The connections really do matter.  It’s a matter of quality, to be sure, but there’s also the element of quantity to make checking things regularly important and there’s the intangible of connecting to people that you don’t already know.  It really was a fuzzy type of experience.

As part of the Extend Ontario project, Jessica apparently had to use a utility SocioViz to visualize her network of connections.  The interaction between Jessica and Sidney who either helped or actually did her homework depending upon the title you follow was interesting.  Listening Sidney talk Jessica through what was happening was very interesting.

Dreams do come true if you persevere, my vision of an experiential passion based classroom have come true.

How’s that for a lengthy blog post title.  This one comes from Rebecca Chambers.

It’s a story about how she’s been thinking about how we “do” school and what could be done to make it better.  According to her, it’s the culmination of 10 years of her thinking about this.

Using the expectations from the TOJ4C and IDC4O course, Rebecca has designed an experience that embraces

  • Student Driven
  • Exit Outcomes (Essential Life Skills)
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Technology
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Social Media
  • Authentic Audience and Community Connections
  • Course Content as a vessel to work on all of the above

The post includes a “week in the life of” recounting for the students.  It’s an interesting read.

What I found particularly interesting was the amount of social media that these students use to address the expectations in the course.  In a time when there are detracting comments about student use of smartphones, this is a refreshing read and a look to success for the future.

Good Will: it’s what holds the education system together

“We do it for the kids”

How many times do you hear that from teachers?  Of course, it is true.  There really isn’t much else in education, after all!

And yet, there’s the realistic side of things.  In order for teachers to get to the position that allows them to make that statement, there is the reality of how navigating the system works.  Just getting hired can be the tip of the iceberg.

In this post, Tim King shows us much of his personal iceberg.  He tells of his personal career choice to become an educator and some of the finances and mathematics to make it all happen.

Tim also outlines the parallels between education and political jobs.

Including comments about having the summers off.

Saying Goodbye – A Consistent Journey

After a lengthy stint in the Modern Learning in Information Technology department with Peel School, Tina Zita is leaving.

In a day when we’re reading about teachers being declared surplus and having unsure futures, it’s refreshing to read that someone who is generally acknowledged as an expert in her field is off to a new adventure … of her own choice.

She’s off to a new position with the Ontario College of Teachers.

That’s a big jump.

So, a personal congratulations to her for taking control of her future and ending up in a position she wanted.

Let’s hope that the new position doesn’t preclude her from continuing to blog and be active in other areas of social media.

Please take a moment on this Friday morning to click through and enjoy all of these posts.  You’ll be glad that you did.

And, take a couple more moments to expand your personal learning network.

This post first appeared on:

Anywhere else – it’s not original.

April TweetMeet

Each month, Microsoft in Canada hosts a TweetMeet for educators.  This month’s will be held on Tuesday, April 2 starting at 7pm ET.

This month, a number of people on the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s (ECOO) executive will join others in hosting at meet titled “Included: Accessibility, Equity, and Inclusion!”

What are #MSFTEduChat Canada TweetMeets?

Every month, Microsoft in Education Canada organizes a social event on Twitter for Canadian educators. The hashtag we use is #MSFTEduChat. A team of topic-specialists prepares and hosts these TweetMeets together. They craft questions around a certain theme and share them on Twitter, then our digital attendees strike up a conversation around that topic.
All you have to do is keep an eye on the hashtag and contribute any insights, ideas, or expertise to the conversation. Or you can just listen in! It’s a great way to connect and learn.

Details about the TweetMeet are located here.

Join in – the Twitter Hashtag is #MSFTEduChat.