This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week was the last opportunity to invite an Ontario educator as a guest for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. After checking that he wasn’t supposed to be in school, Matthew Morris joined Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio Canada for a discussion. It was a great end to a great summer of guest hosts as I noted yesterday in a blog post. Make sure you follow them all!


The Lox Dipset Verzuz, Brotherhood & Black Men’s Mental Health

As per normal, we started the show with a recent blog post from our guest host. Matthew had written a post sharing his thoughts about a Verzuz match that he had managed to catch as a result of a prompt from a friend.

Now, I’m appreciative of this post for a couple of things. At the end, Matthew reflects on the reality of aging and that’s probably the deepest message to take away.

For me, though, the concept of Verzuz was new. From my memory, I saw it as a combination of Battle of the Bands and Wrestlemania. In this case, a couple of acts faced off and I’ll admit that I was really engaged with what I saw. I’ve seen a lot of first class acts in my life but watching two of them face off professionally against each other was really engaging. I watched it on FITE.TV here.

Personally, there was a lot of learning for me here. The concept and then a history of other matches plus even more at the site. I’m so appreciative of everything I learned and thank Matthew for that. There’s also a strong message about mental and physical health that we all need to hear at times.


Dress for Success

These young kids today.

Diana Maliszewski shares a post inspired by a previous post from Aviva Dunsiger about updating a wardrobe for the teacher. Her post is riddled with links to advice about what a teacher should look like. I can’t help but smile and remark that this would be great advice for teachers decades ago when you could just stand in one spot and lecture. Perhaps it’s good advice for those who will be teaching in a hybrid setting? <grin>

We’ve come a long way since then. I remember the advice from Teachers’ College and had sports jackets and ties – my kids even bought me a motorized tie rack one year for Christmas.

The realities of teaching just aren’t consistent with dressing up in your Sunday best day after day. Teachers are mobile, active, up and down, and fully engaged in what’s happening in the classroom. The trend is toward dressing accordingly.

Now, that doesn’t mean dressing in grubs but there’s the reality of what you need to wear to get the job done and remain comfortable and yet professional looking. And, of course, shoes. My dress attire should be shorted to one pair of brown shoes and one black. I fall far short of the 15 that Diana claims she has. (Where does she keep them all?)


The summer of Gratitude – some reflections

Laura Elliott had originally written this as an opt-ed for the Toronto Star and made it available for all of us on her blog. Thanks for that, Laura.

It’s a very personal story of being open with her feelings and dealing with it. I can’t help but be so impressed that she’s so honest and open with her personal life.

In the post, she addresses three concepts:

  • Habituation
  • Comparison
  • Stressful life events

and fleshes each of them out as they apply to her personally. She could have ended the post there but threw in one final challenge.

If you are a teacher or administrator you might consider an initiative in your school that asks your community to commit to this practice and share

That’s a huge challenge but might just be the type of thing to get through what promises to be an autumn of challenges.


William G. Davis:Only two disagreements over a four-decade relationship

With the passing of William G. Davis, we’re hearing so many tributes to the man and what he brought to Ontario. In this post, Charles Pascal shares his thoughts. I found the notion of only two disagreements kind of amazing when we talk about politicians.

But then, these were politicians from years ago and things were different.

Actually, quite different. I’m not a political scholar by any means but I actually knew this. Heck, I was a student when this happened at the leadership of the Premier.

  • system of colleges in Ontario
  • expanded universities
  • launched TVOntario and OISE

It’s hard not to think about it personally. Would I even have been able to attend university under the older model? Who would have been my babysitter without the Polkaroo? When I was at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto, many courses were offered down the street at OISE and it had a fabulous library. What was education like before that?

I suspect that most people would point to the extension of funding for Catholic Schools as one of Davis’ lasting legacies. I did crack a smile as Charles recounts a conversation that he had with the Premier over this.


Preparing for your first day of school

From the Seven Generations website, comes this piece with advice for their students. I’ve seen some other schools that haven’t updated their own websites since June. They could easily pull the advice from here because it’s such great wisdom.

  • Start getting yourself into a routine
    • Especially waking up – how long will it take to get to school? Where do you meet friends? Where do you park? How do you know where to go once you get there?
  • Prepare the essentials
    • You probably won’t need them all the first day but do in advance because it will be busy. But, you know that your teacher will hit the ground running on the second day, for sure
  • Familiarize yourself with your schedule
    • Especially if you have a lot of class changes – reality in 2021? There may be new rules just for navigating the school. I can remember my old high school where we had some staircases that were either UP or DOWN which made travelling between classes a challenge
  • Know essential locations on campus
    • Your locker, cafeteria, washrooms, library, where to catch your bus, …
  • Your first day of class
    • OK to be nervous – here’s a secret – your teacher will absolutely be nervous so don’t sweat it!
  • Make the most of your experience
    • This is such wise advice. One of my biggest regrets, particularly at university, was not taking advantage of everything that the school offers. It actually wasn’t until I attended a Faculty of Education that I truly studied and understood all that my schools had made available to me and I somehow failed to take advantage of them

This is such wise advice. Even if you’re going to a different location, it’s terrific information for all. All schools should have something like this on their website.


A Poem for the First Day of School

If you’re a teacher or a student or a parent and have a passion for education, you won’t be able to get through this poem from Jessica Outram without at least a bit of emotion. In my case, I’ve got something caught in my eye.

She uses this form of writing to send us all an incredibly powerful message about schools and education.

In a time and era where it’s so easy to be down and depressed with everything, this is such a powerful reminder of the importance of education.

“everyone here a twinkling star in the system of our community.”


How I Approach the First Days and Weeks of School

It’s not too late to read this post from Shawna Rothgeb-Bird and maybe adjust things for next week and maybe even beyond. The post is an honest and open description about what’s going through her mind and planning for things beginning next week.

  • Before School Starts
  • First Day of School
  • Boîte de moi
  • Student Info Forms
  • Nametags and Labels
  • Unstructured Outdoor Play Time

Of course, all these topics are personalized according to how Shawna thinks things will roll out. I’ve read her thinking for quite a while now and I would have no doubt that she could make all this work and, if it doesn’t, she adjusts on the fly.

For elementary school teachers (and maybe even secondary), it’s a nice read as she shares her thinking and it just might inspire you in your approach.


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these posts. Then, follow these amazing bloggers on Twitter.

  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Seven Generations Education Institute – @7GenerationsEd
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning

This week’s voicEd Radio show can be accessed here.

Plan Now for a Year of Social Success


Welcome back to school in Ontario.  Today’s the big day for most.  I decided to drag out this old “Post from the Past”.  It goes back to the start of the school year in 2012.  I thought that it was good advice then and I am equally as convinced that it’s just as good or better advice today.  I’m not sure that I would change it much if I was writing it today.  One of the things that comes to mind might be to include a class Instagram account in addition to the Twitter account.

It’s funny; having written this so long ago – I can actually put faces and names to the social media activities described in the post.  Can you?

Are you one of them?  If so, why not take a moment and share in the comments exactly what it means to you and how you do it.


Labour Day!

The last day before getting back at it. Flash forward 9 months and the school year will be just about over but you’ll be scrambling for content for the yearbook and/or end of the year assembly. A little planning now could make that so easy and social media is the answer.

All that is will take is a Twitter account and a blog. Done properly, all the pieces will just fall into place.

First Step – Grab that Hashtag
Hashtags are Twitter’s way to tag or follow a conversation. Before your students even cross the threshold into your classroom, decide on your class’ hashtag. #MySchoolG5R3 or whatever will uniquely identify your classroom. This is the basis for retrieving all the data that you’ll create. (Do a quick search for your proposed hashtag now, before using it, to make sure that it’s not in use by someone else.)

At any point in the future, a simple Twitter search http://search.twitter.com where you enter your hashtag will bring back all of your content. Share the search with your students, with their parents, with your school, with your principal, with anyone who might have a vested interest in your classroom.

Second Step – Use that Hashtag
But, where’s the content? This is typically the stumbling block for many well-intentioned plans. It takes time to come up with content. Suggestion – crowd source it with your students. They’ve been in class all day long – at the end of the day, do a little wrap up before they head home. It might be questions like:

  • What was the neatest thing we did today?
  • Who was our classroom guest today?
  • What are we excited about for tomorrow?
  • What books did we read today?
  • ….

Any of a myriad of questions that elicit any thoughts on the day will do! Just as long as they can be summarized in 140 characters or less. Then, post it to Twitter. It could be from you or the class scribe for the day or the tech helpers or …

But the key is to make it positive and upbeat. In YOUR classroom, of course, it will be the best of the positive and upbeat!

This daily positive message will make it home before your students.

Third Step – Blog it!
If you’re not a daily blogger, that’s OK. How about being a weekly blogger? Friday night, Saturday morning – create a blog post. Don’t worry about writer’s block. You’ve got at least five pieces of inspiration already. Just do the Twitter search for your classroom hashtag, copy the results, and paste them into a blog post. It’s a leisurely reflective 10-15 minutes to expand on your student crowd sourced raw material. Post it and the week is in the bag. Do you have any pictures or a video to support the Twitter messages? Stick them into the blog post and they won’t get lost or crumpled like they might in the file folder in the top draw of the filing cabinet.

Fourth Step – You’re a Genius
There are always times you need good news stories and you’ve got them all in one spot!

Parent conferencing? You can lead it; students can lead it; Twitter can lead it; your Blog can lead it.

End of the year celebrations? Piece of cake. You’ve been celebrating and reflecting on the great things that happened all year-long. There’s no need for deep memory searching or looking for that elusive piece of information. It’s all there in your blog! Pull the pieces together and you’re good to go.

A year’s worth of successes is a good thing. Crowd sourcing them from grass-roots 140 characters at a time leverages the technology and makes a big task easy.

And, next summer when you look back over everything – you’ll be fully justified in saying “That was quite a year”.

All the best to my teacher readers for a successful 2012-2013 school year.

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This Week in Ontario Edublogs

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It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

Thinking about technology investments


From the New York Post this morning, check out this story “A Lot Changes in Tech Over Four Years and 1,000 Blog Posts“.

It got me thinking about things.

According to the dashboard for this blog, I’ve made 4,255 posts.  The very first one goes back to January 8, 2008 and was titled “Blogging on First Class“.  It was an encouragement for people to look at FirstClass’ new blogging platform.

The post was actually the second written for this blog – the first one was “I hope this works” and was written just to test WordPress to see if it would do the trick.  While I really hoped that people would use FirstClass for blogging, I needed to test out WordPress.  It turned out to be a better blogging platform.  More importantly, the writing of my first few posts was quite funny.  It was almost infantile which I guess describes my blogging efforts back then.

Anyway, a lot has changed over the course of four years as noted in Bilton’s blog post.  He notes that the iPad wasn’t around then.  Yet, it’s so popular and universally present these days.

It really is the change over the course of four years that is of concern to me.  Four years ago, I bought a computer and, with fingers crossed, assured my wife that this is the last computer I’ll ever need.  It had an i7 processor with 8 cores, 4MB of RAM and a fairly substantial hard drive.  Admittedly, it can run just about anything that I want.  It was, as promised, a laptop that’s a desktop replacement and that’s basically where it’s used today.  Dual booting, I can run Windows 7 and Ubuntu and if you’ve been reading, it’s typically running Ubuntu.

Indeed a lot has changed in four years.  I think of the power and the storage on the machine and it’s a sad commentary that they really aren’t as important to my regular use these days as it was four years ago.

Four years ago, I needed a computer and software to do the word processing and spreadsheet documents (among other things) that I had on a regular basis.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I opened LibreOffice to do any such work.  In fact, as I type this blog entry, I’ve got a notification that there’s an upgrade to the LibreOffice program.  Four years ago, I would rush to get the upgrade.  Now, I use my Google Apps on the web to handle these things.  Google takes care of the upgrades for me.

Post Christmas, every store that I ever bought anything online is pummeling my mailbox with notifications of great bargains and deals.  I look and don’t feel the need to even wish and dream.  After all, I spend my days in a browser.  As I write this, I’m in one tab with a bunch of others open.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with any plausible reason to go computer shopping tomorrow.

In fact, the more I try to think this through, do I really need something as powerful (expensive) for the future?

How about schools?

I know many school districts are experimenting with Chromebooks and some with Surfaces.  From where I’m sitting, and for my particular use, it seems like a very smart (and affordable) solution.