This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Title double-checked. Everyone was too kind or didn’t notice but I mis-typed the title of this weekly post last week to “The Week in Ontario Edublogs”. I didn’t realize it until I did my Sunday summary post and, by that time, it was too late to correct. Because of WordPress’ naming convention, I’ve now done that four times. So, add 4 to the URL of this post if you’re interested in the number of times I’ve written this regular Friday feature.

However you look at it, it’s a chance to showcase some incredible writing from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, if you know of a blog from Ontario or you’re writing one and it needs to be added to the list, just let me know. Please.


What’s in a Name?

This isn’t a new blog post but rather a transcript of an interlude from Pav Wander from a year ago. It’s still as relevant as ever.

Every teacher deals with this. You get your class lists in advance of school and are ready to welcome these bodies to your classroom. I would go over those in advance and there always seemed to be some that look like they might be a challenge. I would practice reading them out loud to my wife for feedback. Here in Essex County, it seems like you can’t win at times. My Grade 10 French class didn’t prepare for the pronunciations that some French names had adopted.

I think I had a relatively easy name to pronounce and can recall only one time with a mis-pronunciation from a University prof who called me “Petterson”. It was a bit funny but I let it slide since, due the nature of university, it might be the only time he ever uttered my name. I still remember, though, how my head snapped to attention because it was pronounced incorrectly? A little thing? No, it isn’t. It’s my name.

In this post, Pav gives us a much different and very personal story that actually reveals why she goes by Pav as opposed to her formally given name.

Reading it, also brought back a couple more memories for me.

The first was a friend of mine who is in sales and his advice was wise – a person’s name is so personal and may be the most valuable thing that a person owns. He recommended always knowing names even if you forget other things since a person’s name is the most important thing they’ll ever own. You’ll be excused for forgetting other things as long as you get the name right.

The second is another friend of mine who reinforces that notion for me. He never, ever has said “Happy Birthday” that I know of. It’s always “Happy Naming Day”. His take goes beyond the notion of “Name Day” and makes assumptions about when you actually acquire your name. Still…

In high school, one of my friends called me a different name. I wasn’t “Doug” but became “Andy” (my dad’s name) and so many of my other friends followed. So, I guess it was a nickname that kind of stuck. A few years ago, we had a high school reunion some 30-40 years later. They still remembered me as “Andy”.

So, imagine this little girl growing up with a name that seemingly everyone mispronounces. From her past, Pav gives us a personal history, a lesson in language, and the rationale for why she changed her name to what it is today. It’s actually a little emotional – I’ve always thought of the issue from the perspective of a teacher looking over class lists but reading a reflection of a little girl who constantly had her name “butchered” was eye opening and quick frankly, more than just a little sad. Obviously, she’s a very strong woman and did something about it but it’s still not right that it had to come to that.


Bananas for Baton

Man, I love this post from Diana Maliszewski. You can always count on her to come up with an idea, a concept, a thought, an inspiration that is unique and pays back so much educationally.

Everyone in education is challenged by the new set of rules dropped on them. Yes, they’re there for the safety of everyone.

I think most people feel a connection to The Boy in the Bubble these days.

Diana was inspired by a real life passion and qualification that I had no inkling that she possessed – she’s a certified Baton Coach and through her community connections ends up with a class set of batons for her students and physical education. She was quite surprised that it was adopted so well by her class.

And, it’s not one or two batons as I ranted about earlier this week. She’s got a class set and these things don’t come cheaply.

Of course, there are more rules and that’s to be expected but I just have this delightful vision of a class in the gymnasium doing some twirling and enjoying it.

Only in Mrs. Maliszewski’s class!


Given the Gift of Choice, the Voice Soars

Given all the things that are ongoing with school administrators including the rolling of a die to see if schools are closed or open after the Easter Weekend, you’d think that class visits to see student work and presentations might not be anywhere near the top of the list for principals.

But then, you probably haven’t met Sue Bruyns!

Her description of her activity in the classroom is typically COVID. She deliberately avoided a group as she circulated a class because of the “very crowded” group around them but the teacher made sure that her promise that she “skipped, until later” was kept.

The result? You need to read Sue’s post to get the full experience. I can understand her reaction. The projects were about the journey of American slaves and how they ended up in London.

I thoroughly enjoyed this inspirational story from Sue. We need more of these to remind us that there are good things happening in our world.

Sue’s post reminded me of this article from TVO. The date reminds us of so many things…

The story of Ontario’s last segregated Black school


Developing a Sense of Exploration, Wonder, Curiosity and Adventure in your Classrooms

Peter Cameron shares with us a post with no real answers. It’s a copy of a post that he sent to the National Geographic Education Certification Community particularly focusing on the words…

“exploration”, “wonder”, “curiosity” and “adventure”

All of those are good words and, if you’re a follower of Peter, you know that he exhibits this in his class, shares to his social media, and I’ve helped amplify his voice by posting here or talking about the ideas on my voicEd Radio show.

Now, as a computer science teacher, my curriculum applicability doesn’t run the range of an elementary school classroom but I like to think I did a great deal addressing “curiosity”. At the time, I had a subscription to Games magazine and when I was finished with my monthly issue, I’d put the copy in the cupboard in my classroom. They were available for students to pull and work their way through and the type of student that ends up taking computer science likes a good puzzle to solve.

Even better, if they sit down and write a computer program as a solution, you have to be impressed. Or, they’ll look at someone else’s code and just wonder “how did they do that”.


A conversation with Melanie

Thunder Bay’s biggest Melanie fan has to be Sheila Stewart and she writes about the interview conducted by Stephen Hurley on voicEd Radio with the artist. He uses the entire hour for a discussion with Melanie.

You can listen to the show here:

Look What They’ve Done To My Song ft. Melanie Safka

It’s a nice recognition to the effort that Stephen went to host the interview. Of course, this calls for a song or two.


Growing as an Artist

It was a real treat to see Colleen Rose back in action on her blog. I think we’ve all felt the strain of winter amplified by the fact that we have to stay home almost all the time.

With spring on the horizon, I think we’re looking forward to getting a number of things back into gear again. Colleen is constantly keeping her eyes open to the world around here and also beyond.

It’s the beyond that she features in this post and is the reality for so many artists these days – online exhibitions which only makes sense from a logistical point of view. The voice in the back of my head sees this as a way for traditional exhibitions to maybe grow and feature the work of even more artists than in the past.

The other part of her post brings in some technology as she goes online to connect and learn with others. Again, I can’t help but be impressed that good folks are doing that to connect and help each other.

Sure, it was always possible but did it really happen? Has our current reality opened opportunities that might now have happened otherwise? It’s always a feel good story when wonderful people I know get a chance to connect with other wonderful people.

Congratulations, Colleen.


Wrong again

Will Gourley probably never will be hired as a textbook salesperson based upon this quote in his most recent post…

I am choosing to avoid the prescribed resources from text book companies that have grown largely culturally irrelevant and unresponsive

All of this emerges from a discussion he has in this post about anti-racism and ways that he’s addressing it personally in addition to everything else that educators have to address in these times.

our roles have now expanded to include daily counselling on issues of mental health, experts at PPE, and classroom sanitizers extraordinaire. We have also become distance learning specialists, multi-modal lesson trailblazers, fearless conversationalists about issues of race and racism, and criticial thinkers on how to overcome and dismantle systemic racism and bias.

I can’t help but think that the anti-racism stance is even more important than ever and textbooks can be excused for not seeing what’s happening in our world – just turn on the 6:00 news at night and there’s yet another sad story to report. Is it time that the traditional paper textbook is just discarded and publishers move to online so they can keep pace and stay relevant?

In the meantime, Will’s description I suspect describes life for so many well meaning educators right now trying to do the very best in a world that just seems to be out to get you at every turn.


Of course, I’m writing this on the Thursday before the Friday that it’s published. I’ve double-checked the title and am humbled after reading all of these blogs posts yet again. I hope that you can find time to click through and read them all.

Then, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Peter Cameron – @petectweets
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Colleen Rose – @ColleenKR
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley

An artistic discovery


I was having a coffee with a friend recently and we were talking about the Group of Seven. It’s not a topic that I’m an expert in but I like to think I know enough to at least have a passing conversation. At its best, it was one of the things from our conversation.

When I got home, of course, I had to fact check myself in case I had to offer an apology when we next got together. Thanks to the internet and Wikipedia, I was on it in a flash.

It was only when I started to explore the actual artwork that I discovered this incredible resource – WikiArt.

It’s an encyclopedia collection of artwork from, seemingly everywhere.

Of course, the Group of Seven was there.

But that was truly the tip of the iceberg. Pictures indeed from everywhere are just a click away. Even better, each of the images comes with a complete background and explanation. It’s like having all the artwork in the world assembled in one place and you having your own personal guide.

I guess it should come as no surprise that this resource exists. I’m just late to the party, I guess. For educators, definitely bookmark material.

Design Your Own Tattoo


I’m sure this is not what the developers had in mind but it was my first impression when playing with Weavesilk.

That doesn’t look too painful, does it?

I played around with the web version and was really intrigued.  There also is a version for iOS.

For the doodler, it’s a fun little gadget to play with to draw cute images.

For the mathematics teacher, it’s a very visual tool to investigate reflections and patterns.

For the computer science teacher, this is inspiration for a problem to solve.  In fact, I had a problem that I used with Grade 11 students when we were talking about pixel graphics.  It had multiple levels of difficulty.

  • the simple and introductory activity was to write a program that input a path of coordinates and draw the image and its reflection in the x-axis.  I didn’t care if they drew the original and then the reflection;
  • the medium activity was to modify the introductory program to again, input a path but this time draw the image and its reflect in both the x-axis and the y-axis and it needed to be drawn pixel by pixel.  This upped the ante a bit;
  • the over the top activity was to again modify the original program, input a path that reflects in both x and y axes but also to introduce y=x and y=-x to the equation.  This creates some beautiful (and entertaining) results.

And then, of course, there were the mandatory artistic touches.  Controls to clear the screen, change background colours, random drawing colours, sound effects, and background music all served to enhance the program.

Beyond the drawing, one of the things that I really liked about scaffolding a problem like this lies in the description of the medium and over the top activities.  Hopefully, you’ll notice that the instructions didn’t say “write a program” but to “modify the introductory program”.  Not only did it introduce a more difficult concept but it reinforced the concept of program modification and the reason why you want to document your application development.  You don’t always have to start from scratch.

Endless


The concepts of HTML5 have really struck my current interest.  As we move to embrace this next revision of the web standard, it’s very interesting to see what the early adopters are working with.  One of the things that I’m finding is that many don’t feel restricted by the older paradigm.  We all benefit from this exceptional thinking as it merges with exceptional programming.

The endless mural is a really unique project.  If you’re just driving by, it could look like a bunch of pictures.  But really, it’s a very interesting bit of collaboration.  In an interesting twist, try to visit it with an older browser and you’ll get the error message “Our site is best experienced with Internet Explorer 9 for Windows“.  From a technical point of view, the project is supported by Microsoft and internet Explorer 9 and can really shine.  When you dig into it, you can see the importance of hardware acceleration.

The result is an interesting collaboration.  Each visitor can add a patch to this wall and you can check back in periodically to see the latest and watch it grow.  For a fascinating insight as to how all of this works, check out the help section to get details about how this all works.

It really has caught my interest.  If this is an insight of things to come, we’re in for a great ride.  More details are available here.