Is it time?


I’m seeing people asking for recommendations for books and movies to help kill the time while confined to home.

Let me jump in here and offer a construction alternative.

Maybe it’s time for you to start your own blog. There is no cost to get started at a couple of the popular sites – WordPress and Blogger.

There’s increased interest in creating and publishing learning resources online; why not experiment with your own blog? You could use it as a way to keep in touch with students and parents online in the future. You know, doing things like curating a section of online links, activities, due dates, etc. for your class.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

That’s not the only reason to start a blog, of course.

You could:

  • blog about hobbies
  • blog about your photography
  • blog about innovative things in your classroom
  • blog about social issues
  • blog about family, community
  • blog just about anything you want
  • or, blog about all of the above. Nothing says you have to just have a single focus

and remember that, if you’re an Ontario Educators, let me know so that I can add you my collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

For many people, blogging is addictive. Once you start, you’ll continue to blog and before long, you’ve amassed a great curation of things that are important to you.

A wise man (at least in his own mind) once wrote:

Sadly, the answer doesn’t always generate a new resource for my learning. Often, I’ll get answers like:

  • What’s a blog?
  • I don’t have time to blog
  • It’s all been said. I have nothing to contribute
  • Blogging is just one big echo chamber
  • My principal or superintendent reads blogs and I don’t want to get into trouble for having an opinion
  • I don’t want to be wrong and have someone else criticise me
  • I don’t want to create a bad blog

And shared this and more in an article for Jisc –

There’s no such thing as a bad blog.

So, if you’re not blogging, what’s stopping you from getting started?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First off …

Today marks a day of rotating strike action by ETFO members in the following districts:

  • Peel District School Board
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Details here.


Good Friday morning and the end to January. Will you be groundhogging in class today or Monday or just take a pass this year? I do have a Flipboard collection of resources here.

Check out some of the great posts from Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve enjoyed recently.


Listening to Reflections

Earlier this week, my friend Colleen Rose tagged me in a Twitter message looking for assistance…

So, sure, I shared it. The responses were amazing. It showed how powerful a learning network can be. You may wish to follow that discussion chain if you’re interested in collecting or affirming ideas.

Wouldn’t you expect the same results when working with students online?

Melanie White tried this past semester and shared some of her results from watching students reflecting on their experiences with a social justice focus. It wasn’t positive in all cases and Melanie shares at least some of the details.

Her conclusion?

It is the outcome of my work that matters. I must listen and learn and do better and repeat.

It’s sad that she had to endure this but let’s hope that she refines her approach and doesn’t give up completely. There can be so much value when it does work.


Slice of Life: Old Habits

I had to smile a bit as I read Lisa Corbett’s post about writing a paper for a course that she’s taking. I’m guessing that it’s in education and I remember some of the requirements and resources for papers that I’ve researched and had to write in the past. At times, there aren’t enough Os in boring. Such begins her story.

To assist, she turned to a tool that so many people use with students. I’ve done many a workshop on graphic organisers so it’s like second nature to me. I use an organiser here all the time for blog posts, my TWIOE show, and shopping lists among other things. I have such an exciting life. For the most part, like Lisa did, I tend to use either a Google document or a Microsoft OneNote document to do the deed. They work so well.

You’ve got to love the openness that she has for the writing/organising process and her thoughts about the hamburger approach to writing. We all learned how to write using this approach. How we’ve moved on in a digital world. Hamburger takes on a new and different meaning!

Thanks, Lisa – I needed some excuse for a graphic for this post!


Qu’est-ce qui fait d’un leader un leader ?

So, what’s your superpower?

Think for a second. We all have one or more.

Recently, Joel McLean listened to a podcast “What makes a superhero a superhero?” He then drew a parallel to leadership. “What makes a leader a leader?”

I thought it to be an interesting and appropriate comparison for Joel’s work. So often in education, leaders are appointed based upon some superhuman leadership ability. The question becomes “when was the last time that they actually used it?”

Is it a matter of increased workload that shoves this backwards or is it complacently that they’ve risen to their desired level?

But, let’s not overlook the fact that there are people who assume leadership positions and maintain or enhance their superpowers. It’s easy to identify those that don’t, but let’s also celebrate those that do well and continue to grow. Especially those who recognize those that know they can’t do it alone.


YouTube versus Text Instructions

Bottom line – I hope that Joan Vinall-Cox got her invitations for the party out in time. I didn’t get mine but wasn’t really expecting one ….

I’ve been working with getting the some of my contacts into a label so I can connect Evite to it for a future party. This led to a couple of important learning experiences.

In order to get the job done, Joan had to learn how to perform a new task with the contacts in her address book. She had a couple of options:

  • read a set of instructions
  • watch a YouTube video about how to do it

Personally, I find myself in this situation all the time. I almost always opt for a text instruction.

Why? (don’t hate me) I don’t read the entire document. I skim until I get to the salient part and then move on. I don’t opt for the video option because they can be so time consuming – advertising, attempts at jokes, fast forwarding is a challenge since you don’t know how far ahead to fast forward!

In Joan’s case, she was frustrated with text and found a perfect video that showed her exactly what she needed. I’m now wondering, based on her experience, if I need to open my mind to a new approach.

A caveat to both approaches though – some of the available stuff is outdated. The internet isn’t really good about keeping things up to date at times.


What’s in my Reading Pile?

Teacher-librarians are an amazing group of people.

Diana Maliszewski is off to the OLA Superconference this week but still managed to find time for her weekly blog post. In this case, a list of things that she’s reading.

Look for a title, ISBN number, and her rationale for why she is planning to read each book. It’s a nice collection. You might find her openness helpful in your own professional life.

I couldn’t help but note the difference in our reading styles. I like to read, yes, but I like to go cover to cover and only then on to the next book. Diana has a number on the go simultaneously.

I can’t imagine doing that myself; she obviously has a far better reading mind than I do.


Checklists and Independent Fridays

This post is an interesting approach to try and turn the tables, on the dreaded Friday, from unproductive to productive by giving Grade 8 students control over their own timeline.

Kelly McLaughlin, on the ETFO Heart and Art blog, shares an approach that makes Monday through Thursday more or less traditional in her plans and then makes Friday a day of “I.W.” or Independent Work. The concept revolves around students creating their own schedule for the day and the use of sticky notes to keep track.

I shuddered when I saw sticky notes because that’s how messages are passed around this house. But, in Kelly’s case, it’s a technique for managing productivity and effort – I couldn’t help but think it was just another form of graphic organiser.

It’s an interesting read. Would this approach work in your classroom?


Fence me in!

From Cal Armstrong’s new blogging site comes Cal’s latest revelation and it’s actually not OneNote related! It deals with a feature of the Firefox browser.

Cal has discovered and now exploited a feature that currently sets Firefox apart from the rest of the browser field in the Facebook protection game. It’s called Fences and Firefox basically promises that whatever happens on Facebook when you’re using Firefox stays in that tab. Your identity isn’t shared across any of the other tabs that you might have open. And who only has one tab open these days?

Further, Cal has discovered that Firefox comes packaged but you can create your own fenced in areas for anywhere you want.

The post is a nice read showing how he discovered this and then how he applied his new found knowledge to take the concept even further, thus taking control of things. Who doesn’t want to do that?


And, yet another terrific week of great reading.

Please take the time to enjoy all of these posts by clicking through and visitng them directly.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joan Vinall-Cox – @joanvinallcox
  • Joel Mclean – @jprofnb
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Kelly McLaughlin
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225

This post came from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Didn’t we just have a Friday the 13th? But what a beautiful moon! The nice thing about full moons in the winter is that the skies seem so much clearer and the moon so much bigger and crisper.

It’s time to share another week’s worth of reading and posting from around the province from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, some great writing to inspire thinking for you.


It’s a Matter of Relationships

I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.

Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.

I love this quote from the blog post.

“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light.  The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity.  Relationships truly matter.

Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.

I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.

But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?


What do trees have to do with well-being? (Trees Part Two)

A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.

This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.

Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.

I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.


Shoulders of giants

Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.

With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.

And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!

Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!

That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.

The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.

I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.


Hour of Code Is Coming…

Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..

I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?

An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.

If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?

Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.

I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.


My Look At The Holidays: What Are Your Stories?

I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.

This post was different though.

There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.

She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.

You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?


The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.

Bonus Posts

Easy Money

I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)

What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?

Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.

What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.

Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.

But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.

While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.

BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?


The 500 – #452 – John Prine – Debut

This is a cool concept from Marc Hodgkinson. He says

I was inspired by a podcast called The 500 hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian Josh Adam Meyers. His goal, and mine, is to explore Rolling Stone’s 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

What an ambitious project.

What stood out to me from this post was this new (to me, anyway) musician. I read Marc’s post and then headed over to YouTube for more. Wow, when Robert Plant names a favourite song of yours …


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the original posts. There’s some really wonderful reading to be done here.

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

  • @redknine
  • @tmolouba
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @WillGourley
  • @MsALambert
  • @avivaloca
  • @tk1ng
  • @Mr_H_Teacher

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Just like that, we’re into December. I’ve often wondered if the holiday seasons might get people away from their keyboards. That may be yet to come but, for now, there’s some great content from Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s a bit of what I read this week.


Our Kids’ Spelling is Atrocious.

As long as there have been schools and teachers, there have been red pens and circles surrounding spelling mistakes. Look it up. (well, you don’t have to really)

I found this post from Peter Cameron so interesting. It’s a transcript of a conversation between he and a parent who has a concern and was looking for an app or other solution to help the cause.

Peter does give some educational suggestions and guidance.

Upon further reflection, I looked at myself. I’ve always considered myself a fairly good speller. And yes, I suffered through those Friday morning dictation tests in elementary school. I hated them at the time but can now appreciate them for what they are worth. I’ve memorized the words, the rules, the exceptions to the rules, … I was not hooked on phonics.

And then I go onto Social Media and see misspellings and misuse so often, I start to question myself. Is this the beginning of the end of literacy for me?

In the meantime, thank goodness for the squiggly red line under the word misspellings above (actually at the time I typed it, it was mispellings) to keep me on the literacy straight and narrow.


Baby It’s Cold Outside: The Saga of a Song

There was no date on this post on the Association for Media Literacy website. I thought it might be recent and timely for the season but I reached out to one of the authors, Diana Maliszewski to be sure.

In fact, it was about a year old and part of a commitment to post 40 blog posts along with Neil Andersen. After a bit of a back and forth and encouragement with Diana, I decided to include it on the Wednesday podcast and on this post.

In reading, I learned so much more about the song besides the fact that it appeared in an old movie. Lots of media literacy implications (which explains why it’s on this blog) and a real comparison between society and media, then and now. There was a reminder that the song was banned on the CBC for a time and so much more. It’s a really good read and the authors encourage it to be used in the classroom.

I also found that Lady Gaga had covered the song.

And so many others. If the original was controversial, then how would the more modern covers be received?


From Compliance to Commitment Takes Personal Accountability: The Aspirational Nature of Equity Work

With a title like that, you just know that there’s going to be a long post to follow…

And Debbie Donsky doesn’t disappoint!

If you’re looking for something to challenge the way that we do things in education, this is a great motivator.

I mean, we’ve all done it. You get the memo that there will be an assembly on a topic or that homerooms will be held so that you can lead a special session with your students on a timely topic. I’m thinking bullying here.

As a dutiful educator, you do it. You’re accountable to do it. At what level of buy-in do you actually have though?

That’s where Debbie left me in the dust when she addresses rules and policies and applies the concept of aspiration to the situation. After a read, and you’ll read it way more than once, I think you’ll find yourself questioning a number of things. That’s a good thing and something that good writing should do.

The richness doesn’t stop with Debbie’s content. There are lots of connections made and links to external resources. She’s really done her homework in preparation for this post.


Thinking about Feedback

I almost didn’t read this post from Helen DeWaard because I made the assumption that it was going to be all about red pens, circle, and comments to students. Goodness knows that we’ve addressed that so many times.

But, no, that wasn’t the point here and why I felt so good about indeed reading the post.

Helen’s focus is on the other side of the coin.

What do YOU do when you receive feedback?

She embeds this graphic that will take a bit of time to really work through. But it’s worth it.

Think about how you receive feedback. We get it all the time. Sure, there’s the inspection piece from administrators but we get it from students with every lesson. It’s just a matter of really understanding it.

I remember a story attributed to B.F. Skinner from a Psychology of Teaching course where students ended up making a teacher work from a corner because of their actions. Every time the teacher moved towards the corner, the students all smiled and nodded like they were learning. Move away and the students dropped interest. The truth value of the story is in dispute but it is a good story nonetheless.

Feedback is indeed powerful. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to take a course on Peer Coaching and then found a partner who really understood and we worked together so well coaching each other. We still do today.


One-Hole Punch Puzzle Templates

I’m almost positive that I’ve done this mathematical activity described in this post from Mark Chubb. It involves paper and a paper punch. It might even have been as an ice breaker at a workshop. It might have been an online application that didn’t require physical paper or punch at all. It’s a really worthwhile challenge though.

If all you want is the activity, go to Mark’s post and skip to about halfway through it where he describes the activity.

But, if you do that, you’ll miss the important part at the beginning of the post and the why to the reason why you’d want to do this with your class. And, I would do it with everyone, either singly or in groups for the discussion value.

It’s a great activity to use those papers that are in your recycle box. There really is no need for brand new paper to do this activity.


History in the Making – Creating Digital History Techbooks

Paul McGuire had reached out to share with me this culminating project that he called “History in the Making”.

The last assignment we worked on was called History in the Making. I had this idea that it would be really cool for students to develop a digital textbook along the lines of what Discovery Education has created for math, science and social studies.

He was particularly proud of one project dealing with The Oka Crisis. He wanted me to take a look at it for my thoughts. In the post, he shares a couple of others that he thought were exemplary.

Everything seems to be created in a Google Site under the University of Ottawa’s umbrella. I hope that the students also make a copy in their own personal space for use when they graduate.

Some of the things that sprung to my mind while wandering around the resources here.

  • are other Faculty of Education professors encouraging publishing like this?
  • hopefully, they don’t land a job where Google Sites are blocked! (There are alternatives in that case…)
  • particularly in social studies with our new learnings, digital techbooks have the chance of being more relevant and up to date than other resources that might be available
  • certainly resources like this added to a digital professional portfolio would be impressive for a job interview
  • the concept of open sharing of resources is so powerful. It makes school districts that hide behind login/passwords seem so dated

I’m impressed with Paul’s forward thinking and I hope that his students appreciate both the explicit and the not-so-explicit lessons that can be had from this activity.


Thirty one days – my social media detox

If you’ve been missing Sarah Lalonde online, this post explains it all. She has done a personal social media detox.

All the details of her process are found in this post. It wasn’t all just an easy exercise. There were challenges.

Under the category of TMI, she also shares how and where she cheated…

And to address boredom…

One thing I found the most difficult was the “dead time”. For example: waiting in car, in line at the grocery store, waiting for an appointment…). My brain felt like it needed to be entertained. Was I scared to face my thoughts? Why did I need to feel busy? Why couldn’t I just sit there waiting and doing nothing? This is something I had to work on. 

She even extends the concept to students.

I think the big learning here is in perspective. Social Media is something that can be as big or as minimalist as you want it to be. I can’t see one answer that fits everything.

Regardless, it was interesting reliving the experience with her.


I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I did. Please take a moment to click through and send some social media cred to these bloggers. If you’re a blogger and not in my Livebinder, please consider adding yourself so that I know about you.

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

  • @cherandpete
  • @MzMollyTL
  • @mediasee
  • @A_M_L_
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @hj_dewaard
  • @MarkChubb3
  • @mcguirp
  • @sarahlalondee

This post originally appeared on…

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

When blogs die


Last Saturday was the latest installment on a series of blog posts called @voicEd #twioe Playlist. In it, I try to recapture the radio shows from voicEd Radio. I wish that I had kept a tally of which blog I featured most. I have my suspicions but that’s all that it is. It really isn’t a competition; just a chance for me to share some of the great writing that I had experienced in the previous week. It’s a sort of maintenance and finality to the content.

It’s also the last day of the month. Now, for you with your high speed and unlimited internet access, have some empathy for those of us who live in rural Ontario with a cap on both speed and the amount of internet use that we can have in any given month. On the last day, I typically check the usage and, if there’s a lot left, I’ll do some maintenance and force all the devices to look for and apply updates.

Since I’m in a maintenance mindset, I also will take a poke around my Ontario Edubloggers collection. In this case, I’m looking for blogs that have disappeared from the online landscape so that I can remove them from my collection. I’ll also go through and mark some that haven’t been updated for a long time. I’ve mentioned before; I’m hesitant to pull the plug on them just in case the author decides to bring it back to active status. The content was relevant when I first bookmarked it and so, while the date may not be current, the content often still is.

As I’m doing this, I reflect on why people blog in the first place and, if there are 1 000 blogs, there are probably 1 000 reasons. It’s not up to me to make value judgements – some are created for a course, some are created because it seemed like a good idea at the time, some supported an initiative that is done, some … You get the concept.

Around here, there was a time before I blogged. And yet, I still made a record of things. It might have been in a binder, in a file on my computer, in a FirstClass conference on the board’s conferencing system, but there was always something. One of the trite things that I think we have all heard is that we should “be learning everyday”. That stuck with me but I had this nagging feeling that I could indeed learn but I could just as easily forget. I made a personal commitment to myself to try to learn something every day and then keep a record of it. When the memory failed, I could always look for it in the blog history somewhere. Over time, blogging became the thing to do and so I use it personally to keep track – this blog for everything – my reading and writing, and https://dougpete.blogspot.com/ for my reading. Redundant, I know, but hey…

I know that there are some blogs that have just gone away. I have no doubt that there will come a time when my blogs will disappear too. But, how will people know? Will people even care?

I always figured that there should be some sort of blogging protocol that says you should make one final post a sort of Hitchhiker’s post. It would be a tribute and a thanks to all those who supported the blog while it was active and an opportunity for people to have a reason to stop visiting.

So, what did I learn today. Quite a bit, actually.

This …

and when I go away to a conference for a week like I did earlier in the month, there’s lots of data left over at the end of the month. Good thing too because there was a big Windows 10 update to apply.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday of great reading from some of the group of Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you find some inspiration and ideas from these posts I’ve read recently.


The value of the Exit Interview

You know, I’ve “exited” a number of jobs of various sorts but have never had an exit interview that I can remember. I think we all take a job and like to think we’re going to leave things better off than they were before we started. And, probably things were never finished and we had plans on how to improve and make things better for whoever follows us.

I guess maybe it doesn’t happen because it takes a courageous person to conduct the interview knowing that all of the comments might not be positive.

Ann Marie Luce is having a turnover of 20 teachers at her school and she is conducting exit interviews. Each is given 40 minutes for the interview so if you do the math, it’s a pretty big commitment.

In the post, she does describe her philosophy and reasons for doing this, as well as the questions used to frame the discussion.

I hope that the experience gives her much rich feedback to enable her to create an even better learning experience for her students.


The Open Learner Patchbook Went To The PressEd Conference

Sort of related to this is this post from Terry Greene at the PressEd Conference. Terry describes the open patchwork project and how it’s used to collect thoughts from post-secondary students as they handle their time at school.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own post-secondary experience. It was anything but the environment of today’s student. We weren’t connected; we didn’t have open courses; we didn’t have instructors that were putting their learning online as they were teaching.

We were, I guess, what you would call pretty traditional. Our resources involved textbooks, professors, and teaching assistants. They certainly weren’t available 24/7 and just a click away. You had to make appointments for consults and it was for a specific time.

All of this was running through my mind as I enjoyed the curation of student content that Terry did for this. We’re anywhere but in Kansas anymore!

A highlight from this post was this great graphic by Samantha Pitcher.


A Day (or three) in the Life of this Grosvenor Teacher Fellow

With apologies to Peter Cameron, I expected a summary of life online for whatever the topic happened to be.

NOT!

Peter, along with a number of other educators were rewarded for their work by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions with a nature learning trip to Sitka, Alaska.

A lesser classroom would have had plans for an occasional teacher while their regular teacher was out on a Professional Learning activity. Not in Mr. Cameron’s.

Peter had the students doing research and plotted the entire adventure on a Google Tour Builder. He remained connected to the classroom via social media.

Peter’s adventure

Everyone sure seemed to get a great deal of bang for their educational buck.

It’s just too bad that, to get to Seattle from Thunder Bay, you have to go through Toronto.


H is for Happy

I keep checking in to Lynn Thomas’ blog as she’s working her way through the alphabet. Recently, she’s celebrating H.

Her take was that “H was for Happy”.

The whole premise was that happy students and happy environments make for the best learning environment. I think it’s difficulty to disagree, especially when you look at the opposite – what does unhappiness in the classroom or your life bring? Certainly not the desire to learn.

Turns out, it has far more to offer than a sunny disposition and feeling contented. Parents are right to want happiness in their children albeit it is unlikely they know the science of why.

Her approach goes way beyond scratching the surface and brings into play research into happiness. There are lots of links to lots of resources to make it worth your while – including lesson plans and resources for teaching happiness.


Sharing the LLC Space- An Advocate’s Infographic

There’s nothing quite like a look into someone’s library. Beth Lyons takes us inside hers. Take a peek.

By itself, a picture or two may not tell the whole story and advocating for her learning space is the major focus here. Beth shares a couple of custom infographics that she created to share with everyone the great learning and the great opportunities that are there inside Mrs. Lyon’s library.

I can’t help but think that those infographics should be posted in every classroom in the school to help students as they turn to assignments and projects and they’re wondering where they might begin.

There’s much to enjoy about this advocacy post. Obviously, the infographic, but the social media connection is right there. This library won’t get lost!

Shouldn’t everyone be doing this?


The Caterpillar Math Problem: Is it possible to be unbiased in our assessment?

I suspect that the quick and easy answer is “Of course, we are unbiased.” Read on with this long discussion from Debbie Donsky. Her school did more than skim the surface on this question.

It starts with caterpillar problems offered to different classes.

The series of questions shared with staff were:

K-1: A kindergarten class needs 2 leaves each day to feed 1 caterpillar. How many leaves would they need each day for 3 caterpillars?

Grades 2- 3: A third grade class needs four leaves each day to feed its two caterpillars. How many leaves would they need each day for 12 caterpillars?

Grades 4–6: A fifth grade class needs five leaves each day to feed its two caterpillars. How many leaves would they need each day for a) 12 caterpillars? b)15 caterpillars?

The questions were given and observations with discussions during a debriefing are shared in this post.

Debbie shares a deep analysis of the process and the discussion. It wouldn’t be fair for me to try and capture that here; you’ll have to click through and read it in all its original context on the post.


Web Intentions

Sheila Stewart starts with

I have been thinking about my experiences online and on social media in the past few years and what has impacted my experiences and participation.  There is a lot of pondering: “Is it just me, or is it the web?”; “Is it the world, or the web?”; “Have ‘things’ changed, or have I?” 

I guess I can take a bit of the credit for starting this thinking on a recent blog post but I was originally inspired by the writing of Bonnie Stewart. To answer Sheila’s questions, working and interacting on line have definitely changed.

And, I mean working and interacting in the most literal of meanings. When the sample who were online and connected was smaller, I think that people were more devoted and focussed about what they were doing – and were serious about it.

Today, there are more people than ever connected and they bring abilities and mindsets from all over the place. It’s easy to see a few (I was going to use the word “bad actors” but that’s maybe not fair) different actors use the technology and its abilities to do things far differently from what we did. As I said in my post, people seem to need to shock and scream loudly to get attention focused on them. Whatever happened to collaboration? Maybe that’s a topic for a Sunday.

I’ll bet that a read of Sheila’s post will have you scratching your head and coming up with your own theories.


I hope that you have time this Friday or through the weekend to take a few clicks and enjoy these posts in their original locations.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is a recurring Friday morning post highlighting some of the great blogging happening in Ontario. Are you an Ontario blogger that I don’t know about? Let me know! I’d love to add you to this collection. There’s a form at the link above to add your details.

This post appeared originally at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Blog abuse


Yesterday was EdCampLdn.

It was yet another great day of learning for me. Plus, it’s a chance to meet people face to face that I’d “known” for a while online.

One of the things that impressed me was that, with all these educators together in one spot, I didn’t hear a phone ring or send off a notification all day.

Including my own. That wasn’t surprising because I have my phone set to vibrate for notifications and they’re sent to my watch as well. It was going off all day, constantly. There were the usual Twitter notifications but most of them were coming from my blog.

Now, normally bloggers get a kick from people commenting but my blog was literally getting hammered with comments. In an environment like this, opening up your blog and messing around isn’t right so I sneaked a screen capture and investigated it once I got home.

This one blog post was being hit over and over with spam. How do I know spam as opposed to legitimate comments from “Juan Shurtleff”? I copied a substantial part of entire comment and did a search for the text. The same comment appears on blogs all over the place.

I guess it’s small consolation but Akismet did identify 94 of these comments as Spam but 30 still got through as approved comments. A bunch of mouse clicks later and I’d clean it but more kept coming. I finally threw in the towel and disabled comments on that particular post.

Lots of questions abound.

  • Why me?
  • Why this post? If you look, it’s four years old.
  • How long would it continue if I didn’t turn off commenting?
  • Since I’ve turned off commenting on that post, will it move to others?

It was a downer for an otherwise great day of learning.

Do any of you experienced bloggers have advice or insights?