This Week in Ontario Edublogs


After a snowy week, it’s nice to be able to sit back and check out some blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


February Patience

Aviva Dunsiger has taken the suggestion from Beth Lyons about doing a #oneword each month rather than one for the year and February is going to be “Patience”.

I think every teacher will agree that February is a tough month at the best of times and the 2021 version is just so much worse. For teachers throughout the province, face to face teaching resumes this February. This following weeks of teaching online. Or as Aviva puts it

we’re about to begin a September in February

As a result, she’s questioning the concept of patience as she, dare I say pivots, back to face to face.

I can’t help but think that patience isn’t necessarily patience online versus face to face. The concept of dead air comes to mind. It’s OK in the classroom since there’s all kinds of other feedback cues but online?

There are some interesting questions that she asks that I think every teacher might ask themselves. Heck, they’re good questions for everyone.


The (A)politics of Education–In a World Where There is No Such Thing as Neutral

This post, from Debbie Donsky, is a nice followup to the recent post from Matthew Morris. In fact, Debbie does make reference to Matthew’s quote and Faculties of Education.

I had to look up the definition of “apolitical” just to make sure that I understood what I thought it meant.

Having no interest in or association with politics. 2. Having no political relevance or importance: claimed that the president’s upcoming trip was purely apolitical.

“apolitical.” Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. 18 Feb. 2021 https://www.thefreedictionary.com/apolitical

Throughout the post, Debbie mentions some of the issues of the day. From my perspective, I’m not sure that I could be considered apolitical about these things. I clearly have my leanings on things.

The notion of not bringing politics into the classroom was perhaps well minded about days near an election. It seems to me that most things of importance these days are political.

Debbie does a really deep dive about the topic and ties it nicely to education. It’s a good and powerful read.


STUDENT PROJECTS TO PROMOTE CREATIVITY

I’m not sure why you would ever assign a project to students that didn’t promote creativity but maybe that’s just me.

On the TESTOntario blog, John Allan uses this premise to introduce or re-introduce some pretty important tools.

  • CANVA
  • WinkSite
  • Google Tour Creator
  • QuestGarden

For each, John gives a nice discussion and there’s plenty of reference to good pedagogy there. There are all kinds of ideas. I think that I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating.

Online learning from home is better if students understand the tools involved. So, in these days where schools are back face to face, it’s a good time to use these effectively in case the unthinkable happens again. If not, they’ll still generate some great learning opportunities.

For each of the tools, John provides a “how to”, an “example”, and a ‘blog post.”

Consequently, it’s just not a list of tools but a launchpad to using these tools effectively.


Improvement is the Enemy of Change

This provocative title leads us to a discussion and observation of two of the high profile issues of the day. Charles says he’s non-partisan.

But, my thoughts as I read this — political? You betcha.

Far too often, huge and wasteful attention is paid to the superficial expressions of a problem rather than putting in the energy and time to go deeper to discover the real obstacles that get in the way of meaningful movement towards the desired outcomes. 

Charles Pascal uses this as a way to discuss

  • paid sick days
  • profit motive that drives 60% of Ontario’s long-term care facilities

These are topics for discussion in any year. In a year with COVID and the desire to keep virus spread, they take on increasing importance.

Briefly, doesn’t it only make sense for people who are sick to stay home? Wouldn’t paid sick days help address that?

And, isn’t it just obvious that cuts to expenditures to increase profits at long-term care facilities put residents and workers at greater risk?

We’ve seen the effects of both of these things. It’s on the news constantly. In this post, Charles goes into each topic at great discussion. This is a very sobering post to read. I’m glad that he took the time to share his thoughts with us.


Building practices for great equity: Careful engagement in Collaborative Learning

Beate Planche reached out to me to let me know of her blog and this was the most recent post. She gives us a nice discussion about Collaborative Learning and some links for additional reading.

Thinking back, I really didn’t get any direction about collaborative learning while at the Faculty of Education. We did talk about “group work” but it was never with the deep understanding that Beate drives home in this post.

Even as an educator, I’ve been in situations where we were “doing collaborative learning” at professional learning events. Often, it was contrived and seemed like a way for a presenter to fill time.

If you follow Beate’s post, she describes a practice that is a great deal of work and doesn’t elevate the teacher from the actual learning. If done effectively, the teacher is moving and working hard to encourage students.

In the study of Computer Science, a collaborative process described as Pair Programming can be found here. It’s a popular topic at Computer Science professional learning events.


Time is the…

As I read this post from Sheila Stewart, bells went off in my head. She says she stumbled into this song.

She was struck by the last of the song

Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

My song? And in response to Sheila’s call to action from the post… Certainly not as obscure as hers but very powerful as I really and truly paid attention to the lyrics.

And I enjoyed listening to Sheila’s suggestion as well.


Snow Day = No School Day

I knew that someone would be writing about Snow Days on the Heart and Art Blog. Heck I’d even written a post myself on Wednesday. Well, I wrote about it on Tuesday for it to appear on the Wednesday.

So, back to Heart and Art because this post isn’t about me – Deborah Weston took on the topic. I’ve got to believe that part of her inspiration came from social media as teachers throughout the province checked in on what was happening in their districts.

It seemed to be divided into two camps – Camp 1 let Snow Days be Snow Days and Camp 2 was The Show Must Go On. I can actually see how the logic would flow in the Camp 2 camp from those who are at the system level and make the decisions.

I’m getting tired of the terms “pivot” and “flip to” and Deborah uses them to share her observation about what might happen. It’s a good read for all teachers, to be sure, but I would suggest even better for decision makers.

If you can just easily pivot from a planned face to face lesson to online, the lesson can’t have been very good to begin with.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read these original posts.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Debbie Donsky – @debbiedonsky
  • John Allan – @mrpottz
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Beate Planche – @bmplanche
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday, the 13th. Do yourself a favour and take a pass on Port Dover today. Be safe.

Check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers instead.


Treaty Recognition Week – Guest Post by Tamara Bolotenko

Larissa Aradj lent blogging space to Tamara Bolotenko to share some of her thoughts about Treaty Recognition Week. In the post, she shared some sobering realities for many of us.

In our education, we had no sense of the realities that current students are understanding. Like Tamara, I learned in school that Canada was discovered by Jacques Cartier. I guess this land was just sitting around waiting to be discovered? Nothing else was happening? As she notes, so much of what we learned was so Eurocentric and it’s only later in life that that was just part of the story.

Her post is interesting and quite humbling to read and I would encourage you to do so. As part of an AQ course, she had to create a resource – she used YouTube- and she has them embedded in both English and French.

Kudos to her for being so open with her learning.


Walking On Sun Branches

Jessica Outram has done it again!

In this post, complete with pictures, she reminds me of the difference between me and creative people. I’ve always maintained that creative types see things that I would normally just walk by, sometimes paying a bit of attention, most of the times not.

Interestingly, she ties some wonderful photographs with her thoughts and endeavours surrounding creativity.

The images are surrounded by some clever wordsmithing and makes for an interesting read, look, and ponder.

Inspired by this post which I had bookmarked for this blog post and Wednesday morning’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs, my wife and I took a trip to Point Pelee. It’s a luxury that we normally enjoy a few times over the summer but we stayed away this year. We had a bit of incredible November weather and so did spend an afternoon there. I took my phone out and made a conscious effort during our outing and took some pictures of my own.

They’re not in the same class as Jessica’s art but I am kind of proud that I did take the time to find some interesting shots and will assemble them into a blog post for Saturday.

Thanks, Jessica. I love it when people push me.


About those special days at school pt 1.
About those special days at school Pt 2.

From the Heart and Art of Education blog, Will Gourley shares a couple of blog posts describing his fall.

Part 1 deals with some thoughts about inclusion and equity. These are important concepts and Will’s Grade 4 and 5 class were up to the challenge.

Some quotes from the students in the post…

These are wonderful comments from these students.

You have to ask yourself — if they feel this way now but change their opinions later as they get older, what happened? How can education be the enduring answer?

In Part 2, Will gives us a week by week summary of how things when for him in October. In education, it was a month like no other. It’s supposed to be the time for sugar and pumpkin distractions. That’s all different this year.

Will speaks, I know, for so many educators when he notes that October is also the time for “Meet the teacher”, “Curriculum nights”, and of course Progress Reports.

Thrown into this month like no other, there were also a number of teachers thrown adrift by reorganization of schools in addition to online, hybrid, face to face, and whatever buzzword describes your reality.

These are a great pair of blog posts and it wouldn’t be fair to include only one of them here.


Finding Balance With Hybrid Learning – E026

During our radio show, Stephen Hurley asked me if I felt awkward using the term EduGals to describe the authors of this blog post. I had to confess; yes, I did but it’s the name that they elected to use so we use.

They do acknowledge that it’s tough times for all educators.

It’s difficult to pinpoint just one audience for this post, based upon their podcast on the topic. From beginning to end, it’s rich with naming various technologies and how they can be used in the classrooms of today.

As I mentioned in the show, this is truly the time for technology to step up and deliver for all teachers. I think that many will acknowledge that serious and deep use of technology only occurred when school classrooms were closed in the spring. So many people were unprepared for the wide variety of tools that are available to tackle the job.

In this post, Rachel and Katie identify some of their favourite tools and deliver an engaging analysis and how they might be used by the connected educator. It’s not a short blog post but identifies so many tools that are worth the time to explore and see if they fit into your teaching flow.

This post is well worth the read.


Catching Up

It was great to see a new post to Peter Cameron’s blog. It had been a while. The post isn’t unique to his blog, it’s actually a copy of a letter that he sent to a friend and shared with us. He let us know that he was busy … but I hope that it feels good for him to be back at it.

There are lots of links to presentations and collections of resources that he’s working on. He spoke at Lakehead University in addition to his day job and provides us with a list of things that he has done in the past and wants to do in the future.

But that future will be different … he applied for a new gig. I know that those who read his blog and experience his successes wish him the best going forward. He shares what’s up in a Twitter message.

If you read the blog post, you’ll note that he’s promising us big things in November. I’m looking forward to it.


Golf in Gym

I don’t know, Diana, but this past Monday and Tuesday were pretty good golfing days around here. As I drove by many of the courses in Essex County, they’re doing a good late fall business.

Of course, it’s different in schools.

In Health and Physical Education, many traditional activities are off the table for now. I think we all understand and appreciate that. Diana has acknowledged that it’s been a while since she taught Physical Education but she decided to give it a shot … indoors.

Well, maybe not a chip shot but a putt for sure.

What do you do when you don’t have golf equipment at your school? You cobble together some things and make it happen.

This post is inspirational … read and learn from it!

  • never say never
  • if nothing else, steal borrow Diana’s idea for those inside winter classes

Better late than never. After all, The Master’s starts today.


Please take some time to click through and read/enjoy all of these terrific blog posts.

Then follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Tamara Bolotenko – @TamaraBolotenko
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Peter Cameron – @cherandpete
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL

This post comes from

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning.

Why not get a little smarter by reading some of these blog posts from great Ontario Edubloggers?


If Ever There Was A Time….

It’s the spring of the year, and under normal conditions, things would be ramping up towards graduation celebrations in schools. In this post from Sue Bruyns, she reflects on what it might look like for Grade 8 students. It’s a big deal to move from Grade 8 to Grade 9.

That’s not the only graduations that happen in our schools though. There’s kindergarten graduations as they move to Grade 1. Grade 12 students moving to whatever is next for them. Colleges and universities graduate students from there as well. And, quite frankly, there’s a sense of celebration at the end of any grade level as students move on to the next.

Depending upon the school, Sue describes a range of ways that formal celebrations take place. Even in Sue’s district there are a number of different types of celebrations, often based on history and also economics. Another set of big events are the big school trip as well.

So, Sue wonders if this is the opportunity for school districts to sit back and consider just what is happening at this time of year. Is it time to change the “business as usual” format to something more consistent. It’s an interesting look and topic to consider. I’m sure that Sue would appreciate hearing from you and what’s happening in your school.


Still Making an Impact- Even from Home

In many classrooms, things are quite different and often teachers and students are learning from day to day. I’ve heard reports from some teachers that there are students who aren’t checking in as often as they might. I heard it first hand from a couple of kids that dropped by for a patio visit “We didn’t do anything … it’s boring!”

Noa Daniel has long used this very sophisticated approach for students doing their research and presenting results to classmates. This year, the focus is on the 17 Sustainable Goals. Since we live in different times, the regular face-to-face mode just won’t happen. Instead, elements of this might well be face-to-Zoom. They’re going to experience first hand what it looks like to present to the audience in this different mode!

The other thing that is apparent when you try to visualize this is that is not a short term event. There are many different things that are happening here and a student shouldn’t want to miss a step along the way. Noa’s approach has always intrigued me; it will be interesting to see how it plays out in today’s reality.

In addition to all of the planning that Noa shares, she includes a nice collection of student observations. They get it.


Tying The Room Together

Terry Greene’s post is an opportunity for his to tie together a couple of posts he’s addressed in the recent past.

What impresses me about this post and the two previous ones is Terry’s focus on providing opportunities for students to share their voice.

It’s not something that we normally associate with higher education. I know that my own experience was rewarding but in a different, more traditional way.

As you work your way through Terry’s post, you’ll note all kinds of links to supporting documents and observations/recordings.

If you follow one link, I’d suggest this one to a slidedeck.

Here are the slides again from the session. The simple goal was to talk a bit about the who, what, when, where, why, how of it all and then to do it for real in a mini-interview from start to finish with the same mini-interviews we used in the Ideate session so that attendees could see it happen live.


Love in the time of COVID-19

You know, my heart goes out to Heather Swail. She’s been very open about the things that have happened this year, her last year, in education. First there was all the work stoppages and now the whole teaching at home thing.

I follow Paul McGuire on Instagram and lately he’s been posting pictures of their walks showing off the empty streets. It looks lonely, sad, and yet very artistic.

Back to Heather, this is a heart-warming post describing how she celebrated a birthday, a very special birthday. Head over to read how she celebrated the event and some of the unique gifts that she received.

And while you’re there – wish her a Happy Birthday.


Animal Crossing New Horizons – Popularity and Possibilities

From Diana Maliszewski, a rather long blog post but it’s OK because she posted it to three of the blogs that she contributes to.

Never having played the game, I found her post and description both engaging and intriguing. She calls the use of the game as cross-generational in its appeal. I was quite impressed with the 3D representation and lifelike depiction of characters in the game. It’s a long way, at least in appearance, from Minecraft, her previous love.

Of real interest to me was her observation about the values that are conveyed via the environment.

What does it mean to be a good citizen? This message is shared in so many ways in ACNH. Good citizens pick up litter, like fallen branches. They chat with their neighbours and bring them medicine when they are sick. They are active and wander the island. They donate items to the museum. They contribute to the prosperity of the island by buying and selling items from regular vendors (Timmy and Tommy, the Able Sisters) as well as visiting salespeople (CJ, Flick, Leif, Kicks, and even “shifty” characters like Redd the Fox who sells authentic and fake pieces of art). 

I think any activities, even games that engage, and can work values into themselves should deserve a second look.


Overwhelming Resources

Right now, you can see organizations and people with websites publishing lists of resources for classroom use during learning at home initiatives.

Quite often, little thought goes into the curation of these. Here’s a link, here’s a link, here’s another link, … I addressed the concept of privacy of email addresses in a product (Private Relay) under development by Mozilla in my blog post yesterday.

Michelle Fenn’s post on the Heart and Art Blog took me back to the days when I evaluated and shared resources with my colleagues for a living. It’s not a copy/paste activity. There are so many things that you really should consider before your recommend others use it and have them used with children. Privacy, cost, longevity, and much more. Michelle has a list of 10 things that people need to consider while evaluating a resource.

I would add one point that I always argued strongly when I was on the OSAPAC Committee and that the language needs to be Canadian with Canadian spelling. I strongly objected to recommending a product that would have a student sit down and be faced with text written in another language.

I really like that Michelle considers Canadian software developers first (which should but doesn’t always result in Canadian spelling) and importantly that any information is stored on servers in Canada.


How to Edit Auto-Generated Captions in YouTube

Jen Giffen got a request from Noa Daniel about how to turn on captions in a YouTube video. I thought that it might be helpful to others to know how it’s done and so brought it forward here.

It’s a short video with a whoops to prove that Jen is indeed human but will step you through the process.


Don’t you feel smarter now?

I hope that you clicked through and enjoyed the posts and learned a little something in the process.

Now, make sure you follow these great folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs
  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Heather Swail – @hbswail
  • Diana Maliszewski – @mzmollytl
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Jen Giffen – @VirtualGiff

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Cheering for the crab


Yesterday, I did one of my least favourite things – went to the dentist. The good news is that I had no issues. I got them cleaned, polished, and then I was on my way.

But what would any visit to a doctor or dentist be without a long wait in the waiting room? A long time ago, I would have leafed through an old magazine. A short time ago, I would check things out on my smartphone.

Things were different today. Business must be good because, in the waiting room, there was a huge Samsung television/monitor tacked onto the wall. It wasn’t there a year ago at my last visit.

The image was huge and crisp. And I mean HUGE. There was no model number on the front but it had to be in the 70-80 inches category. There were at least five chairs side by side under it. I’d have to take something off an existing wall if it was ever to land at our place. I remember thinking that if my blog was on that screen, people could read it from the other side of the parking lot!

I suppose they could have displayed some news channel or a weather network but those that come to the dentist aren’t there for that sort of thing. Despite all the times that I’ve been to one, there’s always that nagging feeling that this will be the visit where they find a cavity. I’m guessing the logic is that something soothing is required.

So, they had an aquarium running on it. The people in the chairs were there staring at the digital fish as they swam back and forth. I watched for a while and made a point of finding that aquarium when I got home. After all, it was playing from YouTube. How hard could it be?

Actually, it was quite difficult. Try it for yourself – go to YouTube and search for aquarium and marvel at the number of results.

But I did it. Fortunately, the author had left a signature cat in the bottom right corner. That made it a bit easier. As it turns out, there’s a whole YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-kpJRXUPqOR0L15-iVuDnQ/featured

I will say; there are a LOT of good aquariums there. It must have been difficult to decide which one to use for their purpose. As it would turn out, when I finally did get in to visit the dentist, there were a number of displays throughout the office with more aquariums running. I guess nothing succeeds like success. Or, it does at least in their minds.

As I was waiting though, it was interesting to hear the conversations. For me though, I wasn’t watching the fish. You see, in the video, there’s a crab who is trying to capture any fish that happened to swim close enough. I know – probably not very helpful in regulating one’s feelings before sitting in the chair.

But I found that at least gave me something to do during my half hour plus wait. I was cheering for the crab and throwing a bit of body language its way as if to help.

I kept thinking that watching the crab would totally freak out any little kid who happened to be watching! I came to the conclusion that it must be tough to be a crab or the one that was in the movie was deliberately inept.

It also got me into a little bit of learning. In the bottom left corner, the resolution of 2560×1440 was displaying and it identified itself as WQHD. I’ve got to check out the pricing next time I’m at a suitable store. It’s never too early to start dropping ideas for my birthday.